Title: Come undone
Author: X-Phylia (firstname.lastname@example.org
Disclaimer: No way. Sue me if you want :-)
Category: MS angst-comfort
Spoilers: Herrenvolk (fill-in).
Archive: Sure, just let me know
Feedback: Yes! Give me your best shot :)
Summary: Grief and exhaustion are a bad mix
"Who do you need, who do you love, when you come undone?" Duran Duran (Come Undone)
Dragging Mulder away from his mother's hospital bed was more a challenge than I expected. In the end, when his Mrs. Mulder's doctor came to check on his patient and found her son nearly collapsed over her, he set an ultimatum: if Mulder didn't leave on his own volition, Dr. Chavez would admit him. He was, after all, in a pretty poor condition. A nurse was inflating a BP cuff around his arm and sliding a thermometer under his armpit, while a very uncooperative Mulder lay with his face buried in the mattress of Mrs. Mulder's sickbed.
"80 over 50," the nurse announced, then took the thermometer from Mulder's armpit. "Temp is 100.5" The doctor frowned. Low blood pressure, a little fever and Mulder looked like hell, indeed.
"I sympathize with your feelings, Agent Mulder, but there's nothing you can do for your mother right now. Go get some rest, and come back tomorrow. We'll take good care of her."
Mulder sulked all the way down to our hotel which was a whole lot better than our usual accommodations since *I* had been the one to pick this time. I should have been mad at him, I had every right. He had ditched me yet again, departing with Jeremiah Smith, ignoring my calls, leaving me behind with the Alien Bounty Hunter. But any tirade would go wasted on him in his current state, and I decided to postpone it until he was fit to take in what he had done.
Every attempt from my part to try to talk to my partner was met either with indifference or with a sad, pleading look, silently begging me to let him be. I didn't know a whole lot about what had happened to him in Canada, only what he had told me by his mother's bed once he calmed down after crashing in my shoulder. Poor Mulder, he sounded so desperate, so beaten.
Not one minute after setting foot on his room, he bolted for the toilet and emptied his stomach. I sighed and followed him to the bathroom, half expecting him to bark at me to leave him alone. When he didn't, I knelt by his side and helped him through it.
"Better?" He nodded weakly, not raising his eyes. After a minute or two, he slowly stood up and wiped his face, but the sudden dizziness forced him to get off his feet and he sat heavily on the toilet. Very gently, I put my palm on the back of his head and pulled him down. "Lower your upper body, Mulder. It will help with the nausea."
He vomited twice more before his stomach settled down, but between the acrid smell of his emesis and the gasoline reek, my own stomach was starting to turn upside down. I pushed him out of the bathroom and Mulder drawled to the bed.
"Mulder wait, you need to get out of those clothes and get a shower." His only response was giving me a tired look, but this time I wouldn't budge. I started by taking off his shoes and socks, then I stripped him of his soiled clothes.
He smiled vaguely at me, but didn't say a word. I was almost expecting him to push me away, to react to such a blatant invasion to his intimacy, but he surprised me by actually cooperating. He raised his arms when I got rid of his t-shirt, swaying as if he was going to pass out any second.
"Let me do this, Mulder. You just concentrate on staying awake a little longer." I could only smile at the irony: for all the times I wanted my partner to stay silent and do as I told him, I found myself sad to see him so overwhelmed. As infuriating as he could be, I didn't like it when Mulder was so out of it.
I dragged him to the bathroom in my own room so he could take a shower, hoping he wouldn't pass out and hit his head in addition to everything.
"cullee." The voice came faint through the door, I heard it only because I was right outside.
"You okay in there, Mulder?" I stepped inside before he had any chance to answer me, and founded him huddled up in the bathtub.
"Damn gasoline won't go away," he said, tugging at his hair.
"Let me help you." I sat on a towel on the border of the bathtub and started to scrub his dark hair with my fingernails. He curled up wrapping his arms around his legs, his breathing ragged and uneven. God, he was scaring me.
I washed his back and shoulders carefully, frowning at the multiple bruises and abrasions on his skin. At times like these, when I had the chance to get close to Mulder both physically and emotionally, the certainty of how much I cared for him flowed easily in my mind. Mulder didn't let people see him hurting, he didn't trust anyone that much. Not even me, most of the times, but then again, who was I to blame him. I wasn't given to surrender to emotions, either. And there were these
moments, when one of us desperately needed the other's strength.
I kept rubbing his neck, more in an attempt to soothe him than anything else until the water started to cool down. I turned it off and Mulder got up gingerly, never minding his state of nudity. I blushed and turned away to give him a little privacy, but modesty was not what populated his mind at that moment.
With what little presence of mind he had left, he put on a clean pair of boxers and a t-shirt; then he collapsed on his bed and never moved again. I had to resort to all my physical strength to maneuver him under the comforter.
I was tired myself, but sleep was far away. I put on my pajamas, retrieved some extra pillows from the wardrobe and turned on the TV. I sprawled on the king-sized bed and surfed channels. Since I don't usually watch so much TV, nothing interested me that much. I ended up watching a documental about research in space stations on the Discovery Channel, and smiled to myself. Late at night, couldn't sleep, watching TV that was so Mulderish. Maybe I could find some adult entertainment channel too, why not. And don't forget the seeds.
Maybe an hour passed when I saw Mulder coming into my room again.
"Scully?" he called softly.
"I'm awake, come in." He stood where he was, uncertain. "Are you okay, Mulder?" I asked, sitting up in the bed.
"I woke up and I can't go back to sleep. Do you mind if I ?"
One night not long ago, my eight-year-old godson visited me and spent the night at my place. But he got scared and came to my room asking if he could stay with me. He was standing on the door, shuffling from one foot to another, a little embarrassed. In the semi-darkness, with his rumpled hair, Mulder looked just like him only two feet taller. I patted the mattress. Only then he walked in and sat beside me.
"Here, make yourself comfortable," I offered him another pillow and he took it silently. He embraced it like it was a teddy bear and dropped his head into it. I confess, I wanted to pull him against me and rock him until he fell asleep. And maybe that was what he wanted too, the reason why he was in my bed so late at night. I couldn't help myself and extended my palm to caress the back of his neck, and that was his undoing. Placing the pillow on my lap, he bent over and buried his face in it. He stayed like that for a long time, obviously willing himself not to cry again; but the tight grip of his hand on mine told me just how difficult the battle against tears was. I only caressed him softly with my free hand, wishing that he'd just let go, that he knew that he was safe, that I wouldn't think less of him. But Mulder is stubborn, his pride must have suffered quite a bit when he allowed himself to seek comfort in my arms.
My heart ached for him, for what he was going through. It isn't so long ago that I lost my father and sister, and while it had hurt and hurt still , I never felt like I was losing my whole family. I had my mom and my brothers with their own families, we were still a bunch when we got together. Mulder, on the other hand, didn't know what it was like to have a family.
His had disintegrated after his sister's abduction, and what little was left of it was on the brink of death in a hospital bed. Mrs. Mulder hadn't impressed me as a very devoted mother, but her son obviously adored her. If anything, his reckless actions of the last few days proved how much.
If his mother died, he'd be alone, at the ripe old age of thirty-six. He'd have absolutely nobody in the world except for his FBI partner. The thought managed to move me to tears, it was now painfully clear why he needed me tonight. It wasn't the shock or the fever that had driven him here, it was sheer loneliness. Fear. When we left the hospital earlier, we both knew that we could get a fatidic call announcing terrible news any time. Mulder simply didn't want to be alone if that
I don't know what got me to do what I did next, I guess for once Special Agent Dana Scully let herself be taken by an impulse.
"Mulder" I whispered. I lift his body from my lap, only to put my arms around his shoulders and pull him against me. He looked at me, a little puzzled by my unusual actions, again unsure of getting too close, of revealing to what extent he was hurting. As if I didn't know already.
"Come here," I told him. He withered for a second, but then finally let himself be held. We wrestled a little until we both reached a comfortable position; and when we did, his body betrayed his need, because he let out a huge sigh that spoke volumes of release and contentment. It's amazing how Mulder can be so eloquent when he's quiet, how he can be an entirely different person. I smiled. He kept unfolding like a flower, even after over three years of partnership. He was, without a doubt, the most intense and complicated person I had ever met. No wonder Melissa liked him so much.
When my mind returned to my head, I realized that Mulder had calmed down and that my hand was running up and down his spine. His weight felt good against me. It was one of those moments you know you'll never forget, when you're right where you want to be. I almost ask him if he was feeling better, but my tongue resisted to break the comfortable silence. The TV was nothing but a drone, the only other sounds came from the highway nearby. Mulder stayed very quiet but still awake, I could tell by his uneven breathing.
"I'm sorry I left you behind. I thought you were mad at me."
"I am, Mulder. But tonight I'm not your partner, I'm your friend."
"You mean I can expect you to kick my ass in the morning?"
"You bet." He chuckled against my shoulder, but then his voice grew serious again.
"I had to go, Scully. I had to try and save her." My cell phone rang, startling us both. Mulder's body tensed immediately, his arms held me on a tight grip. "Don't answer, Scully. Please don't answer it."
"Please" he buried his face against me, but I picked up the phone anyway.
"Scully," I muttered into the speaker. A few minutes later I hung up, Mulder was looking at me with sad, tear-stained eyes.
"It wasn't the hospital, Mulder." The effect was almost instant, he let out the breathing he had been holding God knows for how long. "It was Skinner. We need to head back to DC tomorrow first thing in the morning."
"He called you this late to tell you *that*?"
"No. There's been a murder. A man was shot He was found right in front your apartment."
"Who?" he asked with trembling voice, although I was sure he knew the answer.
"Apparently it's your informant, the man you call 'X'. I'm sorry, Mulder. You don't need this right now."
I didn't think he was capable of mourning a man he didn't really trust, who had used him mercilessly on occasion, who more than once had refused to help him. But Mulder was in an emotional state, the shock from his Canadian adventure still fresh on his mind, and the fact that he was in my bed late at night, huddled up against me didn't help either.
"Why everybody keeps dying on me, Scully? That's what the Bounty Hunter said to me: everything dies."
"Mulder, your mother isn't dead, don't give up on her."
"She's a vegetable, Scully!" he snapped, pulling away and sitting on the border of the bed. "The doctor said that even if she survives, she might never leave her bed again! I know my mother, she wouldn't want to live like that!"
There comes a time when words of comfort are useless and meaningless, this was one of those moments. The only thing that mattered to me at that point was that Mulder would get some much needed sleep, everything else could wait, since we couldn't do much about it. I got up and walked around the bed so I could face him. Tears were streaking down his face, his power to stop them was gone. He wiped them away quickly,
embarrassed at being caught in yet another moment of weakness. He didn't seek my comfort this time and I didn't pursue it. What I did do, was push his shoulders to his left, making him lie down on the bed, and tuck him in.
"Go to sleep, Mulder. You're exhausted, there's nothing you can do right now."
"Where are you going?"
"I'll sleep in your room, don't worry." He grabbed my wrist as I turned to leave.
"No. Don't go. Stay with me," he pleaded softly. He was battling with himself, part of him wanting, needing my presence, the other hating himself for it. I sighed, wondering if I'd ever get to understand this man.
"Are you asking me to sleep with you, Agent Mulder?" That made him blush so violently that it was noticeable even in the feeble light, but I immediately regretted it. His eyes filled with tears again, and so did mine.
"I'm asking you to stay with me. I'm tired of everyone leaving," he said softly, turning to his side to hide his face.
This isn't the first time I share a bed with my partner. In fact, we did it in my own bed, under similar circumstances, the night his father was shot. Those were turbulent times too, he was sick and delirious, unable to control his emotions, and had cried himself to sleep. Tonight Mulder managed not to break down completely, but I almost wish he had. I don't like to cry either, but I know and accept the healing power of tears, the peace that comes after releasing one's emotions. Maybe if he had allowed himself to vent his feelings, then his dreams
wouldn't have been so haunted, he wouldn't have moaned and writhed in the bed so much.
And he wouldn't have ended up with his head on my shoulder, his arm across my belly. He did that unconsciously, once his pride wasn't looking. But he calmed down, and fell into a deep sleep. I'm still awake though, holding him, watching him. I have a lot to think about.