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XPHYLIA'S Born Innocent

Part 3 of XPHYLIA'S wonderfully emotional and touching series. Be sure to read them all. Part 4 coming soon.  

 
Title: BORN INNOCENT (sequel to In a Darkened Room)
Author: X-Phylia (xphylia@yahoo.com)
Disclaimer: Hands in the air, CC! This is a robbery!
Rating: NC-17 (references to child abuse and adult situations)
Category: MulderAngst, mild MT, lots of Scully-Comfort.
Archive: Yes. Just let me know and keep header intact.
Feedback: Will be cherished and answered!
Spoilers: Mostly general knowledge.
Summary: Scully helps a depressed and confused Mulder deal with the aftermath of his nervous breakdown.
Author notes: This story is the sequel to my two previous ones, "I'll be there for you" and "In a darkened room". I recommend that you read them before you start with this one.
 
The title of this story (mentioned by Scully in the text) comes from Sarah McLachlan's song "Adia"
 
I want to thank the Mulder-in-Jep group for encouraging me to post my stories, to all the people who sent me feedback, and especially, to my wonderful beta readers, Mary (aka BUC252) and Marie for their invaluable help and insight with this story.

"Born Innocent"
by X-Phylia
 
Saturday 9:30 am
 
The impossible is finally happening. Mulder and I are on vacation. We left our problems, our lives, our jobs back in DC and came to this beautiful location in Colorado. We got off the plane two hours ago and rented an excellent 4x4 SUV. We are driving our way to the cabin. Actually, all of this has been Mulder's idea. He took care of everything, arguing that I had taken care of him enough lately. He seemed so excited about this trip that I let him be. The guy deserves a break after all he's been through since the Dobson case.
 
The radio is playing some soft tune, and we are silently enjoying the view. This is a truly beautiful place. I would have preferred the beach, but after seeing the wonderful landscape before my eyes I have changed my mind. We are surrounded by snow-smeared mountains cutting the deep blue sky. The road snakes into a forest, and a sparkling creek runs along it. I saw a few deer and rabbits running around. The fresh air inundates our city lungs with plenty of oxygen, the bright sun fills us with light and warmth. Looming ahead, I can already spot the deep blue of the lake; our cabin should be located near the shore.
 
 
I turn to watch my partner. He insisted in doing the driving and I didn't argue. Besides, he feels like a child with a new toy driving this SUV, and I can't deny him anything that makes him happy.
 
I've been very worried about Mulder these last few weeks. That weekend when he broke down and finally told me the truth about his father was hell. As if that hadn't been enough, he got caught in the crossfire between a renowned politician whose grandson had been kidnapped by a vicious killer and the FBI higher ups wanting him to write the profile in order to appease the congressman and save the kid's life in that order.
 
Things got a lot worse when Jake LaGrange and Matt Dobson were found dead. Senator Dobson raised hell all over the Bureau, but these last crimes finally led the investigators to the UNSUB. However, the felon had resisted arrest, resulting in an agent dying, and that complicated the scene even more. With the details of the case all over the media, it was difficult to keep them from Mulder. He was devastated, but I made sure no one would get to him.
 
Skinner was most helpful, I have to hand him that. Maybe he felt guilty for not having protected Mulder before, but he sure came to his senses after witnessing the scene back at my apartment. He arranged a medical leave before the deaths, so by when they happened Mulder was officially off the case.
 
My little expedition to the Hill was a fruitful one too. Senator Matheson was very kind, or at least he pretended to be. It's not that I'm willing to trust him immediately.
 
Paranoia *is* contagious after all. However, Mulder trusts him to a certain degree, and, therefore, so do I. I recited him my carefully prepared story about Mulder's state of mind and how this case was the proverbial last straw, but to my astonishment, he didn't look surprised.
 
"I can't say this is unexpected, Agent Scully," he said. "What *does* surprise me is that Mulder has resisted this long. I've been telling people in Violent Crimes to leave him alone for years. Not just because of what it does to him, but because their ongoing Mulder-dependence prevents them from training decent profilers. They know that if a killer really means business, they can always hand him to "Spooky" Mulder."
I couldn't have put it better.
 
"Is there anything you can do, Sir? Agent Mulder confided in me once that it was you who helped him get out of Violent Crimes." 
 
"I pulled a few strings, but basically he was allowed to leave because he did one hell of a job there. I might be able to help him now."
 
"That would be great, sir," I smiled gratefully. But Senator Matheson raised his hand and stared at me.
 
 
"There is, however, an extra issue to be addressed. A condition, if you will," he added.  I must have frowned, because he smiled reassuringly.  "It's not what you think, Agent Scully. I'll protect Mulder on the condition that he starts therapy."
 
I was about to protest, but he interrupted me before I could say a word.
 
"It's for his own good, Agent Scully. I don't want Mulder to ever have to profile again. It will appear in his record, but I give you my word that it won't affect his career."
 
"I can't make this deal for him, Sir. He doesn't even know this conversation is taking place, and I'd rather keep it that way for the time being. Agent Mulder doesn't need any more stress, he's having a hard time as it is."
 
 
"Don't worry, Agent Scully, your name won't come out. I'll talk to Mulder myself."
 
A week later Mulder went to Senator Matheson's office and came back whining about the mandatory therapy. I hate keeping things from him, but I couldn't bring myself to tell him that I already knew. Instead, I tried to encourage him to take it seriously and to not mess with the therapists. Mulder could outplay anyone at that game, but this time he really needed to explain why he hadn't been able to do his job.
 
He knew he had no choice, so he agreed reluctantly. But either because he wasn't 100% himself yet or he truly needed to talk, he abstained from trying to outsmart his colleagues.
 
His psychiatrist, a Dr. Lenzi, wouldn't let me stay with him during the first session, though I ended up being called in when Mulder started to cry and he couldn't calm him down.
 
Whatever Dr. Lenzi thought about my partner surely changed when he saw him weep in my arms. I witnessed the following sessions. Soon he realized that Mulder was a more cooperative patient if he was allowed to hold my hand as he spoke. I have to say that Dr. Lenzi was a true professional and never took advantage of him. Mulder talked a lot about what profiling was like, what it did to him. 'Spooky' was revealing the tricks behind the magic, and the psychiatrist, who happened to know Mulder from his time in the VCS, was fascinated. But later he suggested that it would be better for him if he walked away from DC for a couple of weeks. So that was the excuse for our vacation. Doctor's orders.
 
Later on I asked Mulder why he never spoke of the real reason why all this had begun.
 
"I have enough crap inside me to entertain an army of shrinks, Scully,"  he said. "I don't know if you have any idea of what it took me to be able to tell you. You deserved to know, but I'm still having trouble coming to terms with it. Provided that I'll *ever* be able to come to terms, that is."
 
 
When I considered those words later, I knew he was trying to tell me that it wasn't over, that he had a long way to go before his wounds healed completely.
 
One of the consequences of his breakdown was that he never moved back to his apartment. He never made the attempt, and I wouldn't ask him to. Officially, he was still my guest, his stuff was in my spare room, but he usually ended up in my bed when his nightmares were too much. One night, tired of being awaken by his screams, I suggested that he sleep with me from the start. It was an open invitation and he delivered his usual teasing remarks, but he didn't try to take the next step.
 
I wanted him so much, but I wouldn't push him into a situation he wasn't ready for yet; I knew he would take the lead when he felt a little more confident. By then I felt content with him sleeping in my arms without nightmares.
 
When we finally arrive, I am delighted. The cabin looks like an alpine shelter, with flowers all around. The lake shore, with beautiful, deep blue water, is about three hundred yards away.
 
"Mulder, how in the world did you find this place?"
 
"Ah, but you haven't seen anything yet. Just wait" he grins mischievously. He wasn't exaggerating: the interior is fully equipped, the kitchen is stocked with enough supplies to feed a small army for a week, and there is a wonderful fireplace near the window with a superb view of the lake.
 
 
"This is Senator Matheson's private hideout. He's been insisting for a long time that I take some time off and offered me this place. I guess I surprised him when I decided to finally accept his offer. Maybe he thought this was too quiet for me," he laughs.
 
 
"Senator Matheson cares a lot about you. I'm beginning to think that his interest is not only professional, but personal."
"He's been very understanding about what happened in the Dobson case. He never told me and I wouldn't ask, but I think it was he who cooled down Senator Dobson." His playful tone is gone.
 
 
"Hey," I pat his shoulder. "We're miles away from DC. Let's forget about work for a while, okay?"
"Yeah... yes"
 
Saturday 8:30 pm
 
Once dinner's over and the dishes are done, we sit by the fireplace on a huge and incredibly comfortable couch. My partner has acquired a taste for backrubs... and I've noticed that I have trouble denying him anything these days. After seeing him hurting so much lately, I'm more than willing to give him at least a few moments of peace.
 
I'm a little bit worried about his mood, though. Mulder has become quite dependent on me. Sometimes I can't put my finger on what he really wants from me, how he sees me. Like a mother who comforts him? Like a sister who keeps him company? Like a friend? Like a lover?
 
It's difficult to judge from his actions. One moment we can be talking like brother and sister who know each other blind, other times he stares at me with something I can only describe as passion and desire. And depending on his mood, he either fights me over trifles or collapses in my arms looking for comfort and safety.
 
***********************************************************************
 
I'm pretty tired tonight. I guess the events of these last few weeks are taking their toll on me. I try to relax, to let go, but I can't, my mind is trapped in a vicious circle. I feel resentment and anger about what happened to me. Now that my past is leaking through the present, memories are flowing like a slide show. Somehow I manage to remain calm. I'm afraid that if I were able to express how I'm really feeling, I would scare Scully away. Sometimes I can't believe I actually told her about my father. But she doesn't know it all, there are things I'm not able to process yet. It's at times like this when I remember why I went into psychology. I needed to make sense of it, to learn how to cope, how to function without making myself look like a victim.
 
 
But that's exactly how a feel right now. A victim. And all of a sudden, I just can't hold it anymore. So I do the only thing I can do: I give myself over to my partner and let her take care of me. I know I'm breaking one of the oldest rules in our relationship: never let your partner know you're hurting.
 
She put that credo into full mode when she was dying of cancer. It was so hard to see her deteriorate day by day and not be allowed to help her, to comfort her. It hurt. A lot. But I'm not doing the same to her. My correct side (if there is such a thing) says it's because I'm not the retaliate type. The more honest part knows it's because I can't afford to shut her out this time. I've learned long ago that I'm not as strong as she is, or as she believes I am.
 
***********************************************************************
 
Sunday 9 am
 
We are ready to go trekking. Neither of us understands why we had to get up so early on a Sunday when we are supposed to be on vacation, but we just laughed at it over breakfast. We are so comfortable around each other in this little version of domestic life. I remember thinking that living around someone like Mulder would probably wear out the most patient of people. He proved me wrong. He can be a very quiet guy, especially early in the morning, though I can't rule out the possibility of his current character being different than his usual one.
 
I have to admit that Senator Matheson really knows how to find a place to unplug and forget there is a civilization beyond those mountains. Mulder and I walk in silence along the shore, admiring the view, taking pictures. The fresh, chilling air floods our lungs, filling them with clean, crisp air. Such a change from DC's pollution.
 
After walking for a few hours, we sit down in a particularly beautiful spot with a great view. It's lunch time, so we set out our picnic. Nothing fancy, just a couple of sandwiches and iced tea Mulder is never willing to do without. Once we're finished, we don't resume our walking. Instead we lean against the rocks and just enjoy the quietness of the place. I feel a bit strange being around Mulder and not hearing his usual banter about this place being a perfect spot for UFO activity.
 
"You know, Mulder, I'm not really buying it."  Although I speak rather softly, my voice sounds loud in the middle of
the silence.
 
 
"Huh?"   Smiling, I crawl closer to him and lean across his lap, letting him cradle me as I often do to him. It's not that easy for me though. It makes me feel vulnerable somehow, but I know how much it means to my partner to be able to take care of me, to protect me. After my cancer went into remission, I realized I had been pushing him away, hiding every emotion, every pain, causing him more suffering than that I wanted to avoid.
 
"I said I don't believe you're as calm as you appear to be," I whisper while he wraps his arms around me and pulls me closer. He sighs defeated.
 
"I don't want to talk about this right now, Scully."
 
"Can I tell you what I think?" I ask mildly, caressing his chest.
 
"Will it stop you if I say no?" He smiles, knowing far too well that I'm going to speak my mind anyway, so I do it.
 
"I think you're very, very angry. You're full of rage and you're not sure about how to deal with it, except that you're obviously doing your best to avoid throwing it on me."
 
"Damn it, Scully, I remember telling you not to play shrink on me! I had enough of that recently," he snaps.
 
"I'm hardly playing here, Mulder. You're hurting and it shows."
 
"Drop it, will ya?"   He stares into space. I know that there's a lot he's keeping to himself, and I remind myself that I should be patient with him. He can't be expected to be an open and trusting person after all he's been through, not even to me. I've known Mulder for a few years, right, but his pain is so much older than that.
 
Sunday 5 pm
 
Back in our cottage, I notice that soon we'll need more wood to feed the fire. Outside the house I saw big axe and a pile of trunks. Sensing Mulder could benefit from losing some steam, I sweet-talk him into chopping the trunks into smaller pieces. He agrees, and five minutes later, I stand mesmerized behind the kitchen window watching him smash the wood with sheer fury. His contorted face suggests that he would be happier if he had a few human necks instead of trunks to cut up. I see his lips moving, he's mumbling something, but I can't hear him until he starts to shout,
 
"You son of a bitch!! Son of a bitch!! God damn you!! You fucking coward!! I hate you!!"
 
He drops the axe and starts kicking the chopped pieces. Tears begin to run down my face as I watch him fight the demons that haunt him even in the light of day. He spends a full hour out there. The sun is sinking behind the mountains and it's getting quite cold.
 
I meet Mulder outside and find him sitting on a trunk, panting exhausted. I hand him a mug with steaming hot chocolate, which he accepts greedily, and sit beside him, a hand on his shoulder.
 
"Feeling better?" I ask softly. He nods, sipping his drink. "Let's get inside, then. I'm freezing."
 
***********************************************************************
 
My arms and shoulders tremble as the hot water hits my aching body. My hands are full of blisters too, but I welcome the pain, it helps me clear my mind. It's an old resource of mine, to inflict physical pain on my body so I don't have to deal with the *other* pain; the one that won't go away with pills. I've done that enough times to know that it doesn't work. Pain isn't a good painkiller, no pun intended, I just never had any other way to fight the demons inside my head.
 
 
Only lately I'm learning there could be another way. A more effective, less physically painful way: accepting my partner's help. But there's a price to pay for it, too. In order for her to help me, I'm forced to face what I never wanted to face: the dull, constant fear that lives under my skin. Fear of loving and being loved in return, fear of being rejected, abandoned... even of being touched in some places. It's funny how that Oxford degree comes in handy to diagnose my own post-traumatic stress, but it's completely useless to provide any cure or comfort. I'm so scared, I wish I could tell Scully how scared I am.
 
***********************************************************************
 
Sunday 7:45 pm
 
He walks out of the bathroom clad only in sweatpants. God, I love the way he looks with his bare chest and disheveled wet hair. When he stares at me with those sad, hazel eyes and tilts his head slightly to his right, I feel like melting. I walk to him, attracted like iron to a magnet.
 
 
"Are you hungry? I've prepared spaghetti with tomato sauce."
"Thanks, Dana, maybe later," he says, fidgeting with his hands. I take a look at his palms and notice the blisters.
 
 
"Want me to take care of those?" I offer.
 
"No need, I did it myself. I washed them and put some antibiotic cream I found in the bathroom."
 
"Hey, Mulder!" I call out jokingly in the direction of the kitchen. "I have this clone here pretending to be you!"
He rolls his eyes and pretends to take offense.
 
 "Hey, I managed to keep myself alive all those years before I met you, didn't I?"
 
 
"Of course, Mulder. You're not a child," I sober up, grabbing his arms and looking into his eyes. "And I'm not your mother, but that doesn't mean I can't care for you."
 
He silently guides me to the couch near the fireplace and sits beside me.
 
 
"Will you rub my back tonight?" He grins seductively.
Jesus! Does this man have any idea of the power he has over me, especially when he talks softly and smiles like that? If he only knew how much I like to touch him, to feel his soft skin over the well-toned muscles.
 
"Sure. You earned it after all the wood you chopped today."
After he adjusts himself to his favorite position, I begin working on his back, enjoying the blissful expression in his face as my fingers soothe the knotted muscles.
 
 
"I'm doing this almost every night lately, Mulder. I don't quite
understand how you manage to undo my work and end up so stiff."
 
"I can afford the luxury," he smirks cheekily, earning himself a pinch.
 
"Ouch!"
 
Half an hour later, I lie down beside him. We are very close to each other, his fingers lovingly caressing my face. A shudder runs through my body and I find myself falling into the depth of his eyes, glistening with the light of the fire. I put my hand on the back of his neck and pull him to my mouth. He smiles before I kiss him, softly first, harder later. He wraps both of his arms around me, rubbing my neck and hair, pressing my breasts against his chest, making me shiver. Being in his arms like this is even better than I had imagined; but does he really want to do this or is he doing it only because he knows I want it?
 
I slowly allow my hand to run down his back and reach his pants. I slide it under his boxers and I feel him stiffen and breathe a little faster. When my hand travels to his front, I realize that he doesn't really want me to touch him down there, but it's too late. He rolls to his stomach and turns his head away from me to hide his embarrassment. I acknowledge this but don't say anything, I'd rather give him some space to sort this on his own. We spend the next moments in silence, taking in the white noise and the sweet smell of the logs burning.
 
"How old were you when the abuse started, Mulder?" Mulder raises his head and looks at me in shock, he can't believe I actually asked him that.  He buries his head in my shoulder.
 
 
"Don't do this to me, Dana," he pleads with a voice muffled by tears.
 
"Please, Mulder. This is not a therapy session, I'm asking as a
friend."
 
"It gets worse when I remember. Look at what happened last time, I lost it big time."
 
"I know it hurts, and it's not like I enjoy seeing you like that, but what else can I do, Mulder? You scare me sometimes."
He looks hurt at my words.
 
"Scare you how?"
 
"You almost killed yourself when you were sixteen. How many other times have you tried?"
"I can't believe you're asking me this," he growls, avoiding my gaze. I don't repeat myself, but he knows I won't budge.
 
"A few," he concedes unwillingly. "I don't want to talk about
this."
"How many times in the last five years?" I insist, ignoring his
protest.
 
"I'm not suicidal, Scully. I never was really."
 
"How come?"
 
"Real suicidals don't fail."
 
I flinch at his words, not at their meaning, but at the way he pronounces them. I remember reading once that a lot of people find peace in the idea of committing suicide. The majority never try, but the thought that they can take the fast exit any time comforts them. I realize Mulder belongs to this group, and that maybe one day something inside him could snap. But Jesus, I don't want to lose him.
 
"Okay. So how many times did you fail? I won't back down until you tell me."
 
"I came close when you disappeared. Really close. Your mother or your sister must have told you."   I nod, urging him to continue.
 
"And after I killed Roche that night I thought"
 
"It's okay, go on," I whisper, taking his hand in mine.
 
"At the summer house, when I had the flashbacks. For the record, Scully, if I ever do something so stupid again, shoot me." I smile, but I won't let him deflect the subject with his quips.
 
"When you were sick... I *really* don't want to talk about that. Let's just say that this chip spared two lives instead of one."
 
He kisses the back of my neck as if to prove his point. I don't know much of what happened to him while I was in the hospital, except that the Smoking Man offered him a deal and used his sister as bait. Despite the immense grief that the rejection must have caused him, later on Mulder began to doubt the identity of that woman. I guess that in his heart he knew that if that had been the real Samantha, she would have come to him, trusted him. Her unwillingness to believe his side of the story was just too convenient for Cancerman's plans.
 
From one minute to the next, after counting at least four times he held a gun to his head in five years and let's not forget about Modell , the roles are reversed and I'm the one who needs the comfort. I might be strong, determined and everything, but I know for sure that I wouldn't survive Mulder's death if it were by his own hand. He seems to read my mind.
 
"I'm here with you now, Dana. I'm alive and I want to stay that way, because this is... like a dream come true. But listen to me, because I won't say this again: if I wanted to kill myself, you wouldn't be able to stop me. And most importantly, under no circumstances should you feel responsible."
 
"I won't feel responsible. What I *am* going to do is use the same gun against myself. And then, if there is another life after this one, I'll catch up with you and kick your ass so hard you'll land flat into the *next* life."   His chest reverberates with laughter under my cheek.
 
"You're sweet, Scully. I guess I'll stick around for awhile, just in case."
 
"You'd better," I hug him tightly, snaking my hand under his t-shirt. With the tips of my fingers I feel the faded scars.
 
"When did you figure out I had been abused, Scully?" he asks quietly.
 
"I don't know exactly. It wasn't a sudden revelation, but more a combination of little hints. I guess it started with your nightmares. You'd let me comfort you when you woke up after one, but you never ever talked about them."
 
His face reveals distress, it usually does when the subject of his nightmares pops up. I fondle his hair and resume our talk.
 
"I guess the first clue was Ellens Base, after you got kidnapped."
 
"Ellens Base? That soon?"
 
"Yes. I don't know how much you remember about it, Mulder. When I took you back to the motel, you were sick and very confused. You fought me when I tried to examine you." I chuckle softly. "I discovered the needle marks in your arms, the chafed redness of your wrists and I was so worried. But you also had a mild fever and seemed very tired, so I let you sleep. It was the first time I heard you scream in the night, and I
was horrified. I though it had to do with what you had experienced earlier, but you called for your sister, then your father, then you started to cry. I just I didn't know what to do. I felt like I was intruding, invading your privacy, but I sat down beside you, took your hand, and started to rub it until you calmed down." 
 
 The memory overwhelms me for a few moments. He was curled up in the corner of his bed, shivering, almost *asking* for someone to comfort him. And he had accepted me so eagerly; tears were rolling down my eyes that night, maybe somehow I knew that something terrible had happened to him to provoke such terrors.
 
"You know, Scully, it's funny. I might have never mentioned it, but I do remember that night, and it's very dear to me, because it was the first time I realized you were special. I'd been having nightmares for twenty years, and no one was ever there to comfort me. I mean, you were almost a stranger, you could have just closed the door and turned on the TV, you could have told Blevins and asked for a transfer for the sake of your night's rest. But you not only helped me, you had the decency to keep it quiet. I can't tell you how much it meant to me back then."
 
This time *I* need some time to contemplate his confession. I sit back on the couch before and take a deep breath.
 
"What did your father do to you, Fox?"
"I knew you wouldn't let me off the hook," he sighs in defeat. He covers himself protectively with a blanket and lets himself lean on my lap, cuddling until I wrap my arms around him and start running my fingers through his hair. He obviously doesn't know how to begin, so I give him some rope.
 
"How old were you when it started?"
"It started before Sam was born. So I was two, maybe three years." Oh God.
 
"What did he do?"
 
"He just touched me at first."
"So you weren't even aware that what he did was wrong. You were too young."
 
"Those first years, no, I wasn't. I didn't like it, it felt weird, but I guess I thought it was normal for fathers to touch their kids like that. When the baby was about to be born, I remember asking dad if he was going to touch him or her too, and he just laughed."
Mulder's voice sounds amazingly solid, but I don't need to be a shrink to detect the defense mechanism.
 
"What happened after Sam was born?"
"Nothing, at first. Mom and Dad were so completely crazy about her that they pretty much forgot about me. I guess I felt grateful to my sister early on. For a four-year-old, I was aware of too many things already. I was dubbed a 'genius,' he adds with self-deprecation, "but I would have been a lot happier if I had been retarded"
 
"As I grew older, I started to rebel. Dad kept saying that discipline was for my own good, that he was trying to make a man of me, that I should be thankful. I remember every word he told me, Scully. Crystal clear. I remember him calling me to his den when I came back from school. It was a cozy, luminous room, with a great view to the garden, but it felt like a dungeon to me. The walls were painted in light blue, matching a dark blue carpet. It had stylish furniture and a huge wooden desk covered with a pane of glass. I hated that desk. When my father was working on something it was usually messy, but when he called me in, it was invariably clear..." he stopped for air, closing his eyes.  "I wasn't that big yet, I could stretch across it... I remember the coldness of the glass against my belly. The coldness of his voice warning me not to tell a soul about our games as he called them, and to be very quiet while we *played*... I was nine years old..."  his voice breaks.
 
 
"What about your mom, Mulder? Did she know?"
"I couldn't tell her. I was too scared."
 
"But she was there, she must have noticed something was wrong."
"Maybe she knew, but was too afraid of my father herself. When the beatings were really bad, the only thing that kept me sane was thinking that at least my mom and my little sister were safe."
 
"So protecting them somehow comforted you, made you feel like you were doing something," I suggest. The puzzle that is my partner's personality is falling into place in my head.
 
"Sometimes my father was good to me, especially if Samantha was around. You know kids, how sensitive they can be. My sister was like that. She could be a pest at times, but somehow she always knew when she could come and tease me and when to stay away."  He pauses to collect himself and press his face against me, gathering strength to go on. "People often ask me why I still grieve for my sister, why I never got over that loss. I'm sure you wonder, too."
 
"I do, yes." Mulder waits until he catches his breath and speaks in a soft, hypnotic voice. "When I was about to turn ten, I tried to tell my mom, but she didn't believe me. She kept saying I was making things up in order to upset her. It hurt to be ignored like that, almost as badly as the beatings and the... the... things my father did to me. Of course I never told Sammy, I didn't want to scare her, but she sensed it. I don't know how, she was only six years old, but she just knew that her father was doing something bad to her big brother and she didn't know why. One night I went to my room right from my father's desk and she followed me. I told her to back off, to leave me alone. I didn't like to cry in front of her, she was my little sister, for God's sake. But she just stayed there, holding her favorite rag doll, looking at me.  'What do you want, Samantha? Come back later, will ya?' I growled.  Instead of leaving, she walked towards me, took something out of her pocket and put it in my hand. It was my favorite chocolate candy bar. Then she dropped her doll and hugged me. 'Don't cry, Fox,' she said. 'I'll take care of you.' The little squirt knew she could get away with anything where my father was concerned, so whenever I was at home, she wouldn't leave my side. We grew really attached to each other, like every brother and sister should. I spent the next two and a half years playing dolls with her, teaching her how to play ball and stuff, and my father hardly hit me anymore, because it would upset Sam very badly. One time he got to lock his studio with me inside, but my sister began to bang the door calling me, and for the first time I got out of that room without even a bruise. And then that night... that night they took her away and I did nothing. She had been literally saving my ass for almost three years and the first chance I get to protect *her*, I fail. I could never forgive myself for that, Scully. I guess I deserved what happened to me later. Without her near, my life turned into a living hell..."
 
He gets up in a rush and heads to the bathroom, making it to the sink barely in time. I'm not far behind, but all I can do is rub his back while he retches and cries at the same time. When he finishes, he's awfully pale and sweaty and he can't breathe well. His shoulders shake violently and strangled noises come from the depth of his throat. The sight of him is enough to break anybody's heart, and mine is particularly sensitive tonight. I want to scream, to cry, to kick, to smash things. But one of us broken and in tears is one too many.
 
I'm quite concerned by his nausea, he's been vomiting way too often lately. I think Mulder is showing somatic symptoms of the emotional upheaval he's suffering.
 
"Are you okay?"  He shakes his head slowly and his knees almost give away. I help him back to the couch, where he just cuddles up against me and stays still waiting for the nausea to recede. What I wouldn't give right now for another couple of arms.
 
Fire and silence are our only company. My partner is so quiet in my arms that only the erratic pattern of his breathing tells me that he's not sleeping. I hold his head with my right hand while I gently kiss the incredibly soft and warm skin of the back of his neck. I take deep breaths, filling my nostrils with the scent of him. My fingers trace his spine very slightly, and I'm pleased when he shudders a little. I've somehow managed to put away the horrendous images of a nine year old Mulder at his father's mercy so I'm a lot calmer myself, but I believe I've gone too far pushing Mulder like I did. I don't want to see what little is left of his sanity snap because of me and my questions.
 
"Scully" his raspy voice calls me.
 
"I'm here. I've got you" I reassure him as my hands massage his neck and shoulders.
"It's so good to have you here."
 
"There's no place I'd rather be, Mulder."
 
***********************************************************************
 
I lie open in my partner's arms, completely vulnerable and defenseless. She sees now who I truly am, a far cry from the self-confident smartass she knows. And she lets me weep on her shoulder, touching me tenderly, soothing me. I outweigh Scully by a good seventy pounds, I'm a generous foot taller and three years older, and yet she has enormous power over me. I don't think Scully has a full idea of what she's doing to me. She's held me crying before, but this is the first time I'm aware of the effect it's having on me. I had forgotten what it was like to feel safe, and it's so overwhelming that it makes me break down harder in grief for all the time I did without it.
 
"Don't leave me alone, Scully, please promise me you won't leave me alone," I stutter amid my tears.
 
"Shh... it's okay... I won't leave you, Fox. I promise. I need you just as much as you need me." Her soothing voice begins to untie the knot in my stomach, a knot so old I almost forgot it was there at all.
 
***********************************************************************
 
The trembling of his voice is a sign that he's dangerously close to another breakdown, and I'd really hate having to medicate him. So I resort to the same resource that worked on calming him a few months ago: music. I disentangle a little from him and fetch the remote control, which is miraculously within reach. I don't know about any good local FM, so I hit play and pray whatever is on the CD player will do. Sarah McLachlan! There *is* a God. Maybe the angsty lyrics aren't the best thing for Mulder right now, but I doubt he's paying attention. By the fifth song, the gentle melodies work their magic. The wracking sobs have subsided, replaced by choked hiccups, and once he's calmed down, I coax him to get up and move into the bed.Before I turn off the music, I listen to the beautiful, sweet voice for a moment and smile through my own tears. And when I gather my soundly-asleep partner against me a few minutes later, I paraphrase the lyrics I've just heard:
 
"We are born innocent."   Believe me, Mulder, you are still innocent."
 
Monday 10:13 am
 
When I wake up the next day, I'm not that surprised to see it's past 10 am. Obviously, last night's ordeal plus all that trekking we did effectively wore us out.  Mulder is still slumbering beside me, his left arm draped across my belly. I'm so grateful he's been able to sleep without serious nightmares lately. I thought he would have a few last night, but fortunately, he didn't.
 
I gingerly get out of the bed, trying not to bother him, and open the  blinds. Clouds are covering what yesterday was a clear blue sky, and the steamy glass tells me it's really cold outside. I gloat at the perspective of a domestic afternoon, basking in front of the fire, drinking hot chocolate and catching up on my reading. I prepare breakfast and bring it back to our room. Tea, toast, orange juice and scrambled eggs for Mulder.
 
"Hey, sleepyhead, wake up. Skinner's waiting and we're late!" I push, pretending a serious tone. The sole mention of our boss is enough to make Mulder jump in the bed.
"Geez, Scully, you know how to greet a guy good morning, don't you," he growls drowsily.
 
"Ah, but I *do* know what you like, Mulder," I smirk as I place the tray on his night table. His smile fades and he shifts uncomfortably. I can see he's pleased by my attention, but also that he's not at all hungry. He compromises by eating a little and drinking the juice.
"That was nice of you, Dana, but you shouldn't spoil me this much."   I sit back on the bed, still wearing my robe and pajamas. I take a close look at him and grimace at his dull, glassy eyes.
 
"Are you okay, Mulder? You don't look so good," I probe gently.
"Can I say 'I'm fine?'"
 
"Only if you mean it. And you'd better do a good job convincing me." He glances at me and then lowers his head.
"My head hurts. And my stomach feels funny," he admits.
I lower myself to him and put my lips on his forehead.
 
"You have a low grade fever, Mulder. Stay put, I'll bring my stuff."
 
Five minutes later I'm examining him and he lets me get away with it without so much as a sigh. God, it breaks my heart the way he looks at me with those sad, swollen eyes while I gently palpate his abdomen and chest, each contact being much longer than necessary. He occasionally moans softly if I touch a sore spot, but he's okay, other than his temperature of 100F. "Roll over," I instruct, and he complies. I repeat the process with his back, and he doesn't even realize that this has nothing to do with any medical examination. My hands travel down from his neck to his lower back and I hesitate about my next move. Then I decide to gently lay my hands over his buttocks.Since he's still wearing sweatpants, I figure he won't be so distressed. However, he flinches as soon as he feels the contact.
 
"Shh... I'm not going to hurt you, sweetheart. Shh... just relax,
that's it. No one's going to hurt you again, Fox. Never," I comfort him.
"I know. I'm sorry. I'm not scared of you, Dana. It's just..."
"I understand, Mulder. I understand"
 
Monday 2:20 pm
 
Early in the afternoon, I decide to go for a walk. I get the impression that Mulder needs to be alone for a while, and frankly, so do I. It's not easy having to listen to your best friend, someone you love, recount the abuse they went through. The cold and the chilly wind work wonders on my overloaded mind. I ask myself aloud how far I'm willing to go in order to help Mulder through this nightmare. The answer comes clean: as far as necessary, for as long as it takes.
 
About two hours later I return, fresh and stimulated by the cold. My first move is to pump some hot, delicious coffee into my system, then I check on my partner. He's sitting on the pearl of the living-room, an antique, sturdy-looking rocking chair, and staring through the huge window in the living room. I can't see his face, but his very position and quietness suggest that his mood hasn't improved. I leave him alone with his silence.
 
Monday 5:40 pm
 
Mulder went back to the room and he was sleeping, or pretending to, when I checked on him. He's still a little sick, but I know better than to hover over him in doctor mode. He needs a little privacy, and I understand that.
 
Maybe Mulder was right all this time trying to protect me from his pain. The impotence I feel at my inability to make it go away is overwhelming. I know he expects me to be strong, to take care of him, but this is so damned hard. I wonder if I would have survived a life like his. The mere idea of Ahab trying to take advantage of me when I was nine sickens me and makes me want to cry. But if I want to be of any help to Mulder, I need to let go off my sorrow and get my act together. I will seek professional help as soon as we're back in DC. There has to be someone working with friends and relatives of abused people. And I will also see that Mulder starts some serious therapy too, even if I have to drag his stubborn ass. I feel better already. I have a plan.
 
I go into the bathroom to take a shower, hoping it will erase all
tracks of my previous distress. The hot steam feels nice, soothing, and afterwards, my face in the mirror, though blurred, looks almost human again. Mulder is now sprawled on the couch staring into nothing with void eyes. I don't like what I see. He's almost detached from reality, and I don't want to know what his mind is up to right now. I hope it's as blank as the look in his eyes. Finally, he acknowledges my presence and pats the couch beside him.
 
"Scully," he swallows hard.
"I'm right here, Mulder. Right here," I reassure him lovingly.He looks back at me with glassy, tear-stained eyes.
 
"I don't feel so good, Scully," he says quietly. Then he suddenly gets up and strides to the bathroom. Retching sounds follow, again. I frown. This is no stomach flu, this is pure, unadulterated stress.
 
I place him comfortably back on the couch and get my medical bag. Relieved to be stepping again into familiar territory, I work on him quickly and efficiently. His fever has spiked to 102.1.
 
"Are you in pain, Mulder?" He nods.
"Where? Can you show me?"
 
"My stomach, and my lower belly too," he muses, barely moving his lips.
"Are you nauseated?"
 
"A little." I poke and prod all over his body, which, like this morning, he allows without complaint. When I'm done, I fish in my medical bag searching for something for his fever.
"Your fever is pretty high, and we have to get it down. Let me see if I can find some Tylenol in here." What I find is an expired sample that I'm not willing to give him and some suppositories. Cursing myself for not checking my stock of pills before leaving, I wonder how I will approach this subject without embarrassing both of us.
 
After a moment of consideration, I leave it to him to decide. Despite my current tendency to baby him, he's not a little boy but a man, a grown-up. He might unconsciously expect a mother's comfort from me sometimes, but I must keep in mind that these are very unusual circumstances.
 
"Mulder, wake up."
"Huh?"
 
"I need to give you some Tylenol, and all I have left are
suppositories. Do you think you can handle it?" Despite his fever, he opens his eyes wildly.
 
"What?"
 
"Your fever is worrying me, I don't want it to go any higher. It could be dangerous, and we're many miles away from the nearest hospital."
"Yes, luckily." He smiles faintly.
 
"Mulder if this bothers you, I understand"
"No, it's okay. Besides, I feel like crap. You're the doctor, I trust you."   I tenderly kiss his damp forehead, unable to hide my sigh of relief. I cover his shivering body with the blanket and hand him the medication.
"Here you are. I'll give you some privacy."
 
I get up to leave but he stops me, then raises his body and throws his arms around me. I hug him for all I'm worth. When did I become such an understanding and patient person? I gotta love this man who brings out the best in me.
 
"I love you. I love you so much it hurts."
"Yeah, loving me hurts, or so I'm told."
 
"That's not what I mean."
"But it's the truth. I can see how much it's hurting you to see me like this." If there's something I like about my partner it's his sensitivity. He always seems to know how people around him are feeling, and that talent often serves him well when he's interrogating a witness. He would make a great therapist if he decided to leave the Bureau and consider a career move.
 
"Don't worry about me, Mulder. If you want to make me happy, just concentrate on getting better yourself." He sighs deeply in defeat.
 
 
 "Then give the damned thing before I change my mind."
 
I come back into the living room carrying a basin with tepid water and a few towels to find Mulder hunched in fetal position, eyes closed shut. I sit again, putting his head on my lap, but he writhes uncomfortably.
"Scully..." he whimpers, and I silently pray for him to get better soon. He doesn't need this to add to the emotional pain he's enduring. I take his hand and squeeze it.
 
 "Shh, it'll go away soon, I promise. Just relax, it'll be okay."
He nuzzles against me and stays quiet while I bath his fevered skin.
 
Thursday 6:50 pm
 
Mulder's health has improved these last few days. His fever and nausea are gone. I tease him saying how proud of him I am for getting better without my having to call the cavalry in the middle of nowhere. Unfortunately, I cannot say the same about his emotional status. He's been nothing but sweet to me, but he's fighting hard to keep that control. Opposite forces are colliding inside him -his natural tendency to care and protect me against an overwhelming need to vent his rage on whomever is near.
Senator Matheson will be very pleased to find out that all his lumber has been already chopped. Mulder's dexterity with the axe impresses me. His smashes are hard and precise, even when the tool is so heavy that I can barely lift it off the ground.
 
Earlier in the evening I found a deck of cards in a drawer and we played a few games. I became furious when I realized he was letting me win from time to time so I wouldn't lose interest. He could remember every card played. At least he had the decency of not gambling with me.
"You know Mulder, I don't see why you have to work,"  I tease him. "A few trips to Atlantic City or Vegas and you could live easily off the money counting cards like Dustin Hoffman in 'Rain man'"
"I don't work for the money, Scully. I thought you had at least *that* much figured out about me."
"I'm not into this for the money either, I could make a lot more in private practice, but... you should try to enjoy yourself a little more, Mulder. It's not a crime to be good to yourself from time to time."
"I don't need to go to a casino if I wanted some 'easy money' as you put it. My family lacked a lot of things, but money was not one of them," he says bitterly.
"Mulder, you keep unfolding like a flower," I joke to lighten the mood.
"Are you telling me that you're actually rich?"   He gazes at me with a lopsided grin.
"Why, Scully, now you think I could be a good catch after all?"
"Hey, you're good looking, bright, funny, caring... and now rich too! That matches a girl's definition of a blue prince, Mulder!" I laugh.
"Then maybe you should kiss me, because I feel more like a frog than a prince."  I smile and place a soft, chaste kiss on his lips.
 
"There you are. You always look beautiful, Mulder. Even when you cry."
 
He lowers his head sheepishly and leans against my shoulder.
"Well I'm sorry to disappoint you, but I'm not rich, my father was. I don't know how he racked up his fortune, all I know is that I don't want it. It's there, and it's legally mine, but I never touch it. It's like blood money to me."
"Perhaps one day you'll get the chance to do something good with it."
"Money will do anything for you, except one thing: it can't change who you are. If you're a son of a bitch, money will only make you a rich son of a bitch. I'm damaged goods, no amount of money can change that either."
"Do you really believe that? Not the money part, but that you're damaged goods."
"Come on, Scully, we both know it's true. You've been treading on eggshells around me since I told you about my father, like I'm some fragile porcelain figure that could break into pieces at the slightest touch."  I throw both of my arms around him, one hand massaging the back of his head, my lips kissing his neck softly.
"Truth is, Mulder, that you *are* in a fragile emotional state." "Do you know what my greatest fear is, Scully?" he says quietly. "I'm scared I'll end up losing my marbles for good. I'm afraid I'll wake up one day in a mental institution, drugged to the gills, staring into the air and drooling all over myself. Sometimes I feel so close..."
A sob gets caught in my throat and my eyes well up with tears. I hold him tight in a possessive gesture.
"That's not going to happen, do you hear me? It's *not* going to happen. You are going through a very rough period in your life and you're upset, but you're not going to be punished for this, for Christ's sake!"
"Some blue prince I am, huh?" he murmurs.
"You're only human, Fox Mulder. If you were a poster boy and nothing else, I would have enjoyed the view for a while and then walked away. You're a very complex person, but you're worth the effort."  I have lost count of the times I told him how much I appreciate him, how much I need him, but it seems he just can't believe it.
"Am I?"
"Yes, you are. And you're going to be fine, you'll see."
"How did I get so lucky as to have you in my life, Scully?"
 
***********************************************************************
 
It's hard to balance the feelings I harbor, to maintain a delicate equilibrium between my inner rage and my devotion to her. I know that when she says I'm not damaged, she's only trying to make me feel better. Scully knows me for what I am, and I'm screwed up. I have my good days and bad days, but I will never be anything near 'normal.'  All that matters to me is that she loves me just like I am, something I've never experienced before in my life. That's why I'm not afraid of her, why I allow myself to cry in her arms like a baby. I can give in to her need to touch me, to hold me, knowing she won't take advantage like Phoebe Green used to. I want to love her back. I want to show her how much she means to me, how much I need her. A little nagging voice inside tells me I'm being selfish, that I'm asking a lot from her and not giving anything back. But how can I refuse her open arms, ready to give me the peace I need so badly? So I hold onto Scully and tell her not to leave me time after time, and I never get tired of hearing her reassuring words. I pray to whoever might be listening that nothing else happens to me, at least not soon, because all my defenses are shattered, and all I can do is seek refuge in her strength. Night was a time I used to dread for one reason or another, but since I get to spend them with Scully by my side I'm finally able to sleep for more than three hours in a row; and more importantly, if I wake up, I can just go back to sleep. But as with everything, you start taking things for granted and you want more. I want more tonight. I want to touch her, *really* touch her. I want to make her happy.
 
My kiss is shy at first, I feel like a teenager asking for permission. Scully smiles her approval and grants me access.I bless this woman for her sensitivity, for knowing what I need better than I do myself. She lets me feel her, explore her beautiful body, but she hardly touches me back. She doesn't seem to mind either that I'm still wearing t-shirt and underwear. My hands hungrily knead her flesh and she seems to be enjoying it but I blush when I remind myself where most of my expertise in this field comes from.
 
Oh my god!! I can't *believe* what has just happened!
I'm lying in the bed, sated, exhausted... and he only used his hands and mouth! A delicious thrill runs through my body at the thought of us together, all of him inside me. Mulder is by my side, wearing the most incredible grin I've ever seen on his face, obviously very pleased with his skills.
"Wow, *Fox*..." Wait a minute, was that my voice? Am I actually *purring*? I guess I am, judging by his laughter.
"I never heard my name pronounced so sensually. Keep it up, Scully, and I might let you call me that in front of Skinner."
"Sure, and then I'll think of this and blush like a school girl in front of the boss. I pass."  I'm so turned on that not even Skinner's name - and it's implications - cools me down. I need Mulder so much, I want to make him feel good. I've been waiting for this for so long, and I just can't wait any longer. Overtaken by more primal instincts, my rational mind still screams warning alarms and I slow down. I have to remember to do this carefully and on his terms, at least this first time.
 
I start touching him in safe places to help him relax, and only then I proceed to take off his t-shirt. His chest is a playground, though I like it better when he's not so thin. I expected him to be very sensitive to this kind of caress and the reactions I'm getting confirm my suspicions. However, from time to time I make eye contact with him to make sure he's okay. Kneeling over him, I kiss the faint scars, including the gunshot wound I gave him myself, and now makes me feel incredibly guilty. <Everybody hurts you, Mulder. Even the ones that love you.> I don't want him to see the tears that are burning in the back of my eyes, so I gently roll him to his stomach and proceed to kiss the marks on his back, the ones that first gave me a clue of the horror he's been through. I continue my ministrations with those long legs I've often admired, and only when I feel Mulder completely relaxed and at ease do I dare to pull down his boxers and massage the firm but scarred flesh of his butt. He immediately tenses up but doesn't reject my touch, and before I do anything else, I give him time to get comfortable at being totally naked with someone else in his bed. I don't think there are words to explain how I feel, so I just hum soothing sounds, hoping they will help us both to remain calm.
 
I slide my palm under Mulder's stomach and slowly descend it to his lower belly, but when I reach his groin, all hell breaks loose. Mulder's unexpected jump catches me off-balance and I fall over, but I recover in time to see him run away from the bed.
"Don't touch me like that!! Don't you ever *never* touch me like that again, you hear me! Never!" he screams angrily before falling apart on the ground. Before I let the shock of his outburst invade it, my brain comes up with the reason for his violent fit. He's having flashbacks, his father must have done something like that to him, surprising him when he was alone and vulnerable in his bed.
 
Even though my mind tells me to curl up under the covers and cry my own tears of sorrow and frustration, my heart wins and I go to him. His body language is clear enough so I don't try to touch him or even talk to him. Instead, I just put a blanket over his nude body and sit a foot away. If he peeks from under his arms, he'll see that I'm squatting, that my arms are open, and hopefully, that he can come to me if he wants. About twenty minutes later, I'm starting to worry, but then, to my utter relief, he gingerly extends his hand to grab mine.
"Scully...?" he muses softly, bringing tears to my eyes.
"What, Mulder?"
"Do you still believe that I'm a blue prince?"
 
Positively, I don't know whether to kiss or to kill him. I guess that under the circumstances both options are quite violent, so I just help him up from the floor and guide him back to the bed. He gets in and tucks himself under the covers, slowly adopting a defensive fetal position. I decide to give him some space and climb to the other side of the bed.
"I'm sorry, Dana. I'm so sorry. I don't know what else to say."
"No, Mulder, don't be sorry. It's not your fault," I say softly.
"Yes, it is. I can't fight this. He's dead, and he still rules my life. No matter how much time goes by, it's always the same."
"Has this happened before?"
"Yes."
"How?"
"I don't like being touched in certain ways," he confesses guiltily, causing my jaw to drop. "It scares me, always has. Did you ever wonder why I hate hospitals so much?" I nod, and he goes on. "For a while, I pretended I liked it. I was young and strong enough. I wanted to be normal, to do what everybody else was doing, until I decided it wasn't worth it. I'd started my video collection by that time, so I'd no longer embarrass myself with scenes like this."  I consider his words for a moment.
"And pretense took the form of leers and innuendos to deflect suspicions. Very clever. You know, Mulder, for a man so devoted to finding the truth, you're quite good at hiding it."
"I learned with the best," he deadpans.
 
"You should have told me, Mulder. Why did you let me do this if you knew this might happen? What were you trying to prove?" This time he remains silent, hiding under the covers. I take my chances and insist. "I know I'm asking a lot, but you have to talk to me. I can't help you if you keep things from me."
"I wanted it to be different with you," he says softly, choking back a sob that feels like a dagger in my flesh. "I wanted to touch you, and to enjoy being touched by you. I thought that I wouldn't be scared if I knew it was you, but I just can't help it. You have to believe me, Scully, I can't help it!" He breaks down.
"Shh... I believe you, I really do, it's okay..."
"It's not okay! It sucks! I don't want to be scared of you!"
"You don't have to, I'd never hurt you. Come here."
 
Sitting back against the headrest, I open my arms to him. He stares me back, battling with his fear, but after a moment he snuggles up against me. I start all over again from scratch, rubbing his back absently, fondling his hair, until he calms down. Then I take his hand in mine.
"Show me, Mulder."
"What?"
"Show me how to touch you, where it's safe, where it isn't. Where it feels good," I wink. I sense his hesitation when he lowers his head shyly. "We'll do this at your level of comfort. If you say stop, we'll stop. You're in charge here."
 
***********************************************************************
 
If I were a pervert, I would have to call this assisted masturbation. But I'm not touching myself, I'm merely guiding her hand, which in a matter of seconds has pulled my mind out of the guilt, the hate and the fear and submerged it into a sea of unimagined pleasure. So this *does* feel good. I close my eyes so I can focus on the exquisite sensations that she is eliciting. It feels strange somehow, I'm a lot more used to receiving signals of pain from my body, this is so wonderfully new. As soon as I feel safe under her hands, I use both of my arms to encircle her neck and let her touch me at will.
 
This is ultimate trust, the last line remaining to be crossed. We both know it, and together, we walk that invisible bridge to meet in the middle. When I find myself inside of her, her warmth surrounding me like an armor, I know one thing and one thing only: that after so many years of walking alone, I'm finally home. We are both crying in each other's arms, overwhelmed by our feelings, euphoric. Maybe I've only lived for this moment, maybe this is what my entire life is all about.
 
***********************************************************************
 
Friday 8:23 am
 
I wake up to the sound of birds singing outside the window and the sun rising behind the mountains. Mulder is already awake, he's staring outside the window too, still wrapped in my embrace. Unlike last night, today he looks relaxed, peaceful. He wears a contented smile on his face, his eyes are shining but not from tears. The change is amazing. And did I mention already that I love the way his disheveled hair looks? We spend the next few hours in bed, relishing each other's warmth. Somehow today feels like victory, it's like we survived a terrible storm and came out alive and kicking. Finally our empty stomachs convince us to leave our warm, comfy bed. We fix brunch together, smiling, cracking jokes. This feels so good, so right. Please, let there be no more tears.
 
Friday 2 pm
 
Mulder has fallen asleep again while surfing channels. He was delighted with the huge screen and satellite TV system, but his enthusiasm didn't last long. I just can't believe this guy. Fox Mulder actually *sleeping*, in the middle of the day, sprawled on the couch. I guess the heavy emotional issues of last night took their toll on him. Come to think about it, I could use a nap too.
 
I am annoyed by a loud knock in the front door. Who can it be? Very few people know where we are, and none of them would come here without calling first. Maybe it is some lost tourist looking for directions, I think idly. But then I open the door and I can't help my jaw from dropping.
"Mrs. Mulder? Wh... what are you doing here? Is there anything wrong?" Mrs. Mulder looks me in the eyes, whether confrontational or just curious I can't tell.
"Good afternoon to you too, dear," she replies with irony. "I just need to see my son, is there anything wrong with that?"
"Of course not, Mrs. Mulder, please come on in. I'm sorry, this is quite a surprise. Please let me take your luggage."
 
A middle aged man approaches us from a car parked in the driveway with the motor running, carrying a big bag. After a brief exchange with Mulder's mother, he goes back to his car and leaves. Seconds later, Mulder walks in, looking as surprised as I am.
"Mom! What are you doing here? What happened?" The older woman snorts.
 
"You two spend *a lot* of time together, don't you."  Mulder stares at me, confused, but I chuckle at the small joke.
"I told her pretty much the same words just a minute ago before even I said hi," I explain. My partner doesn't look amused.
 
"Oh, I'm sorry. Hello, mom," he kisses her cheek, but their stance is rather cold. Mrs. Mulder steps in and I carry her bags into the living room, closing the door behind me.
"What in the world are you doing here, mom? How did you find us?"
"I needed to see you, Fox," she simply answers. Mother and son measure up each other warily, neither of them take the
first step to let their guard down. Things have been strained to say the least after their last brawl. I break the icy atmosphere to play host.
 
"Can I fix you something to drink, Mrs. Mulder? Tea? coffee?"
"Tea will be fine, dear, thank you."
"I think I'll go back to sleep. I feel kinda tired," Mulder announces and leaves the room.
 
Mrs. Mulder and I are left behind with constrained smiles.I lead her to the living room, trying my best to hide my own discomfort. Mulder and I were so tranquil a few minutes ago, why can't peace last around us? Today was supposed to be a break. Neither of us had picked up last night's conversation, it was just small talk. This woman means bad news and Mulder doesn't need more problems right now, he can barely deal with the ones he already has.
"Why is Fox so upset, Ms. Scully? Am I interrupting something?" her voice is calm and polite, but the sarcasm is impossible to miss.
"He isn't feeling very well, that's all."
"Oh dear, you surely don't expect me to believe it is that simple, now do you? Fox has a gift at being complicated."When I don't answer, she traces a wry smile.  "I see that covering for him comes easy to you. I'll bet you have a lot
of practice." I pretty much ignore her smart remarks and change the subject, a deflecting technique I perfected with her son.
"How about that tea, Mrs. Mulder?"
 
She follows me into the kitchen, where I prepare and serve tea for both of us, and then get straight to the point.
"Mrs. Mulder, may I ask what brought you here? I understand you don't do much traveling."
"I need to discuss family issues with Fox immediately. I couldn't find him at home or on his cell phone, so I called the FBI. Your boss, Mr. Skinner, gave me your location."
"Did he inform you why we came here?"
"He said you were on vacation, which is a half-truth at best," she points with a snort. "I know my son, he's a workaholic just like his father. I suspected there was something else, now I'm pretty sure after seeing him so upset."
"You're right, he's having a rough time. He needed to get away for a little while." Mrs. Mulder sips her tea and lowers her voice.
 
"The Dobson case hit him hard, didn't it?" I hide my surprise, not to mention the fact that I'm impressed by this woman's connections. Mulder's name was never mentioned to the media, so she couldn't have gotten that piece of information from the news. "Oh, I always know what he's up to, dear," she smiles. Obviously I didn't do a good job repressing my feelings. Her replies irritates me, though, because that means she was aware of all the times that Mulder was sick or injured, and yet she never visited him.
 
I open the door quietly and enter the bedroom. Mulder is crouched on the bed with the covers tightly wrapped around him, but pretty much awake. I sit beside him.
"Are you okay, Mulder?"
"I guess so. I'm sorry I left like that." I nod. "She says she needs to talk to you immediately. Family business."
"Always in the wrong place at the wrong time, that's my mother," Mulder sighs with resignation. "This might sound cruel, but I don't think I'm up to a chat with her. Especially if it means family issues." I gently place my hand on his shoulder and rub it.
"Are you angry with her?" I ask carefully.
"Like the devil, which means I'll end up saying something I'll regret later."
"Aren't you curious about what couldn't wait until we returned to DC?"
"I don't know, Dana. I have a bad feeling about this. For her to come all the way to Colorado it must be serious, and I'm not sure I can handle it."
"She knows you've been involved in the Dobson case."
"It doesn't surprise me. She still has her connections."
"Maybe you should take advantage of this opportunity, Mulder. She can't run away here. She can't hide."
"You don't know her, Scully. She's mastered the art of deflecting questions. I don't think the FBI has someone good enough to interrogate my mother and come up with something useful."
 
Friday 9:12 pm
 
Mulder is clearly upset. He's uneasy, nervous, irritable. A far cry from the relaxed smiling man who woke up in my arms this morning. Why is it that this guy can't have a whole day in peace? So far he has frustrated each and every attempt from his mother to come closer to him, to connect. Now the three of us are in the living room, and Mulder chooses to sit beside me, with his arm snaked around my neck, facing his mother in front of us.
"Hmm... Dana, would you please give us some privacy? I'd really like to talk to Fox alone," she asks politely. I look at Mulder and prepare to stand, but he grabs me firmly.
"No, she stays."
"Fox, I don't think that's a good idea. We *really* need to talk."
"I want her to stay. Anything new to me will be new to her, too."  Then, in a softer voice, he adds, "She knows. I told her." His mother blinks forcefully.
 
 "You what?"
"You expected me to keep it a secret forever?"
"This is strictly family matter, Fox!"
"Yeah, well, Scully's more family to me than any other person now. And that includes you," he shoots venomously. Mulder can be very cruel if he wants to be, especially when provoked.
"Ms. Scully please," his mother pleads, talking directly to me. "Leave us alone for a while."
"I'm sorry, Mrs. Mulder, but if he needs me here, I'm staying." The woman sighs, defeated, then she gets up to bring her chair closer to the couch.
 
"I know you're angry, son," she begins with a conciliatory tone. Mulder gapes and raises his eyebrows in a gesture that looks a lot like the one *I* have perfected.
"Angry? You do have a gift for understatements, mother. That doesn't even begin to describe what I'm feeling," he snorts.
"And how *are* you feeling? Why won't you talk to me?"
"So *now* you want me to talk to you. But why should I? What good would do to me now? What difference would it make to you?"
 
I pray silently. <Please, Mrs. Mulder, don't upset him any further.>
"Fox," she breathes. "Whatever you're feeling right now, you have to know that your father and I loved you very much." That declaration renders both of us speechless, which is an X-File in and of itself. Mulder turns to me in disbelief, asking with his eyes if I hear what he's hearing, then turns back to her.
"You're unbelievable, mom, I gotta give you that. You have nerve to track me down and fly across the country to tell me this after all these years. I think I've heard it all tonight, I'm going to bed, if you'll excuse me."  Before Mulder could leave, his mother pulls rank with *that* kind of voice every mother has.
"Sit down, Fox."
 
Mulder stops in mid-act, dithering, then sits back down. Mrs. Mulder gets up and sits on the border of our couch. Tentatively, she places her hand on her son's shoulder, and is taken aback by Mulder's flinch.
"Don't touch me!"
"What happened to you, son? It's been a long time since I've seen you this bad." Her voice now sounds sweet and concerned, but that doesn't work for Mulder. Geez... he wasn't exaggerating earlier when he said he was royally pissed off at her.
"How can you say this to me, Mom? My father beat me, abused me, assaulted me, but hey, he loved me? I hope you didn't come here to tell me this crap!"  Hurt by her son's rejection, the old woman goes back to her place in the chair. Her eyes, usually cold and distant, look at him with worried sadness.
"You've been sick, haven't you. You lost weight."
"Since when do you care?" he hisses.
"I'm your mother, and you're my only child."
"Well, I've been your only child since I was twelve. I could have used your caring back then, but I don't need it now, so save your pity. I'm fine."  She snorts, waving her hand away.
"Like hell you are."
"Whatever."
"Will you ever grow up, Fox? You're so incredibly selfish. You don't know about my life, or your father's. You never did. Everything was always about you and your problems. You never understood anything, not even now. You don't have the slightest idea of what is like to lose a child."  I wince involuntarily at the bitterness of the accusations.
"Is that what you tell yourself? That what my father did to me was right because he was frustrated? That hiding your head in the ground was justified because you were heartbroken? *You* are accusing *me* of looking the other way?"
"Fox," she warns sternly. "That's enough."
"Stop treating me like I'm ten years old! I want to talk about this."
"That's not what I came here for."
"I don't care!"
"Why can't you just move on?" She explodes. "It happened over twenty years ago! God knows I hate your father for doing that to you, I never forgave him. We divorced not long after that."
"I remember it perfectly, Mom. Unlike you, I wasn't taking four Valium pills a day," Mulder retorts acridly.
"Say it, Fox. Come on, say it. Tell me that I was a bad mother, that I neglected you, that your father was evil and that it's all our fault. Go ahead, if it'll make you feel better."
"All I want to know," Mulder muses after taking a deep breath, "is why you didn't believe me. I tried to tell you, and you always ignored me. 'You're overreacting, Fox,' 'If you weren't such a nuisance he wouldn't have to punish you,' 'If he hit you he must have had a good reason'... do you want me to go on?"
"I couldn't do anything! Why can't you understand that!"
 
If I ever heard a lame excuse, this is it. I swear I'm doing my best trying not to judge her, but for the life of me, I can't imagine what was going on in this woman's head when she decided not to pay attention to her own son. It must have been terrible for him, gathering the courage to ask his mother for help only to be cruelly dismissed.
 
"Did he hurt you too, mom? Or threatened to hurt you if you helped me?"  Mrs. Mulder goes suddenly mute, Mulder's question must be right on spot. Her voice is completely different when she answers.
"Not directly, no. But it was there. You were *his* son, he wanted to make you strong. I wasn't allowed to turn you into a sissy, as he put it."
"Mom, I was three years old when he started touching me! I didn't even know what the hell he was doing!"   Mrs. Mulder looks at him, then shakes her head adamantly.
"No, Fox, that didn't happen. I don't know why you're so confused about that, it must be because of what he did later..."
"He *raped* me later, why can't you just say it?" Mulder retorts, hitting the couch with his fist. "And it wasn't like he got drunk one night and the next thing he knew was that he'd fucked me instead of you! He'd been molesting me for years!"
The sharp sound of the slap hitting Mulder's left cheek leaves the room ominously silent for a few seconds.
"You will *not* talk to me like that, young man," his mother
admonishes him, making me want to smack her in return. What the hell does she think she's doing? Mulder rubs his sore cheek as his eyes well up with tears of humiliation.
"Things don't change, do they Mom? You still don't believe me. You still smack me when you know I'm right and you're out of words,"  he whispers brokenly.
"You're right, they don't. You're as traumatized as you were twenty-five years ago. I guess that Oxford education you're so proud of wasn't of much help after all."   I don't think I'll be able to sit here like a good little girl for much longer if this woman keeps hurting my partner - my lover - like this. Mulder must have sensed my distress because he squeezes my hand and glances briefly at me. He wants to deal with this alone.
 
I look at the door longingly, I have this need to get up and run away from the hell this room has become, from the pain I feel even when this has nothing to do with me. Or maybe it does. My connection with Mulder is so deep that perhaps it's his pain that I'm feeling. I pass my arm across his back and pull him gently against me. He doesn't give in to the comfort, however, not yet.
"Just because you don't want to believe me, it means I'm lying," he says. "I never lied to you, mother. Never."
"I didn't say you were lying, just that you're confused. Whether you want to admit it or not, you need help, Fox. You can't go on believing a lie."  I wince at the ill-fortuned choice of words. Mulder reacts as if someone has just stabbed him.
"Believing a lie. That pretty much sums up my life, huh? Fox Mulder, the man who believed all the lies," he mocks, on the verge of tears.
"No one ever told you what to believe, Fox. Your beliefs were always your own choices."
"Yeah, well... I might have been wrong about a lot of things, but this isn't blind faith, mother. This happened, you would have seen it for yourself if you had bothered to look."
"Christ, Fox, you were so disturbed back then that I didn't know what to do with you!"
"I was disturbed because I felt guilty for losing Samantha!" Mulder yells, suddenly getting up. "It was my fault and we all knew it, and maybe dad had the right to punish me, but don't tell me it didn't happen!"
"No!" I snap, getting up too. "He *didn't* have the right to beat you up or abuse you, Mulder, no matter what you did or didn't do!"  Finally Mrs. Mulder rises too and points her finger at me.
"Ms. Scully, stay out of this!"
"No, you stay out of this!" Mulder shoots back at her in my defense.
"You never asked why I wouldn't eat dinner after a session in daddy's office, why I couldn't even sit straight in my chair. You never heard me when I cried in my bed at night, you never put gauze on my cuts when I was bleeding."
"And what about the times it was *your* fault you were bleeding? Did you bother to tell her that part, Fox?"
 
At this point, I don't care if my partner is delusional, chances are that he is; I know that recollections of traumatic events can be distorted, eidetic memory or not. What matters to me right now is that tonight Mulder is about to suffer an emotional breakdown no less serious than the one he suffered at my apartment, and I'm not sure if I'll be able to bring him back if he goes off the deep end this time. He's slumped back on the couch, crying, and I decide I've been on the bench long enough. It's time to come out and play.
 
"As a matter of fact he did, Mrs. Mulder. He told me how, when he was only sixteen years old, his father assaulted him sexually; and as a consequence, he tried to shoot himself with his father's gun. When that didn't work, he OD'd with his mother's pills."  I leave the unspoken accusation floating in the air while I sit with him. Whatever determination he had to remain strong until the end has evaporated in the heat of burning emotions, and he lowers himself into my lap, hiding his face against my stomach, oblivious to his mother's presence. I put both arms around him protectively and rock him back and
forth.
 
Friday 11:32 pm
 
Mrs. Mulder walks near the window; it's eerily dark outside.
"Fox was in a coma for almost a week, doctors had warned us that he might not make it. I don't think you can imagine what it is like to watch your own son like that, tied up to a hospital bed and full of wires and tubes because he decided he didn't want to live any longer."
"Unfortunately I have plenty of experience in ICU stays, Mrs. Mulder, from both sides of the bedrail." If Mulder is paying attention to what is being said, he doesn't show it. His mother continues to speak softly now, but as if he weren't here.
"When he woke up, he didn't recognize me or his father, he just kept calling for his sister, who had been missing for four years at the time. The psychiatrist said he was disassociative and again, we were told that he might not come out of it. The doctors wanted to put him in foster care, since it was a clear case of domestic abuse. It could have been a major scandal, but a colleague of Bill's somehow kept it quiet."
"I hope it wasn't the 'colleague' I'm thinking of."  The woman blatantly ignores my remark, which says a lot in itself, and then something else hits me.
"Mulder, how in the world did the Bureau recruit you? That's not exactly the kind of background they usually prefer." He raises himself up and produces a wry smile.
"Well, they said 'Better to have a potential serial killer in a leash here, hunting his own kind, than out there discovering his nature and killing people."   An involuntary sob escapes from me after hearing his perturbing words. I cup his face with my hands and look him straight in the eyes.
"Don't say that, Mulder, please don't say that. You're so much better than that. You're a compassionate, caring human being. You never let what happened to you become an excuse for revenge, and I'm so proud of you for that. God only knows how you managed to survive all this, but you're a good man, and don't let anybody tell you different."   He nods slightly and places a small thank-you kiss in the corner of my mouth.
A little more calmed, Mulder lies back on my lap, and as usual I start to caress his back. He takes off his sweatshirt and t-shirt.
"I've got something to show you, Mom. Scully, could you please explain to my mother what those marks mean? Maybe she will believe you."  That's my Mulder, always with the hidden ace, but it saddens me to no end that he has to go through this. Damn it, she's his mother!  Mrs. Mulder approaches and takes a look; I point my finger at the faint
scars.
"This is old scar tissue, you can tell by the texture and color of the skin. Relatively recent scars look like this" I slightly rub the exit gunshot wound in his left shoulder. "I believe he was very young when he got these marks, probably less than ten years old. Had you seen them before. Mrs. Mulder?"
"No," the old woman frowns, leaning back in her chair.
"So you don't know how this happened?"
"Scully, explain to her that I couldn't have done that to myself, in case she thinks I'm into self-flagellation."
 
"Are you finished, Fox? Is this what you needed, to throw the past in my face?" Mrs. Mulder says tiredly.
"I thought you might be interested in what I had to say."
"I am, dear. But I can't change the past, as much as I'd like to. Do you think you're the only one who feels guilty? You have no idea, Fox. I won't even tell you that I'm sorry for not being there when you needed me, I don't expect you to forgive me."
"You could have tried, Mom..."  Mrs. Mulder takes a deep breath and smiles with defeat.
"We're so much alike, you and I. You can't let go of your guilt, I can't let go of mine. The only difference is that I deserve it and you don't."  Mulder gets up again and stares at his mother. For a moments, her eyes shine with compassion. "When I saw you in that hospital room... you looked so small and defenseless. A young boy who should have been fighting to live but wasn't. Then a nurse entered the room and asked me if I was your mother. I couldn't answer her. *That* is guilt, Fox. The same guilt that would have killed your father if he hadn't been shot first. But you... you are innocent, son. You don't have to let this destroy you."
 
This emotional roller-coaster is shattering Mulder's already weak self control. One minutes he calms down, and the next he's crying again.
"But I lost her, Mom," he sobs desperately. "She was always there for me when I needed her, she saved me from a hundred beatings... I was with her that night, I didn't help her... I've been looking for her all my life and still can't find her..."
 
Mrs. Mulder gingerly reaches to take her son's hand, afraid of being rejected again, but this time he allows the contact.
"I came here to tell you about your sister, Fox. She's been found."
 
No one moves or says anything, it's like time has suddenly stopped. I can hear Mulder's already agitated breathing becoming ragged.
 
"When? Where is she?" he blurts out. Mrs. Mulder's voice softens with grief.
"Two days ago I received an anonymous phone call, urging me to go to Chilmark's Police Station. A body had been delivered to them, no one could account how it had gotten there. It corresponded to a female, about thirteen, maybe fourteen years old. They performed a DNA test, I got the results this morning. It was Samantha, Fox. She's dead. She's been dead for the last twenty years."
 
I fling my free hand to my mouth and turn to look at Mulder, who's already going into shock.
This is too much for him. Way too much. I can only watch helplessly as he loses consciousness and collapses into my arms.
 
The End (?)
 
Author Notes: I know, I know, please don't flame me about this abrupt ending. If you watched The X-Files all these years, I'm sure you can handle it! ;-)
I will write the next part, provided that people are interested. If
you're one of them, drop me an email at xphylia@yahoo.com
Thanks for reading!
 
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