Unwavering

Scully is recovering from her stay in the hospital, struggling to process everything she's been through.

Post MS-III –Comfort. Some non-canonical presumptions about certain characters' mental health.

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"Dr. Scully, I don't feel fully comfortable discharging you."

Mulder stood next to Scully as Dr. Joyet perused her updated file.

"Your brain activity has normalized somewhat, but given the nature and frequency of these seizures, I would rather keep you here for observation. You could have another one at any time."

Mulder looked back at Scully, and then returned his gaze to Dr. Joyet. "What if someone stayed with her?"

"Well, I would definitely recommend that, yes. And of course, you would need someone to drive you."

Mulder nodded, turning back to Scully. "What do you want, Scully?"

"I just want to sleep in my own bed," Scully sighed wearily. "If I could just come back in the morning…" she trailed off.

Dr. Joyet looked Scully up and down, turned her eyes back to the chart, and then returned to meet Scully's gaze. "All right. If you have someone stay with you, and you come back in the morning to reassess your PFC activity, I suppose that would be all right." She pulled a business card out of her pocket and scribbled a number on the back. "This is my cell; Agent Mulder, I want you to call me if she has another seizure. Denise will be sure you get your medication. Please get some rest, if you can."

Mulder nodded, reaching his hand out to take the card. "Thank you, Dr. Joyet."

Scully smiled feebly and headed back into her room to collect her things.

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As they walked up the stairs to her townhouse, Mulder was careful to keep an arm behind Scully, imperceptibly, in case she lost her balance. She had been strangely silent on the car ride over, and seemed emotionally and physically fatigued. She took the keys from her purse and opened the door, and he followed her inside.

As Scully surveyed the home she had not seen in days, Mulder locked the door behind her. As he turned back to her, he noticed that her eyes were half-closed and unfocused, and she was beginning to wobble.

"Whoa, Scully, hold on," he whispered, lightly grabbing her shoulders. "Are you okay?"

"I'm feeling dizzy again," she mumbled, holding her fingers to the bridge of her nose. She reached out an arm to steady herself on Mulder. As her knees buckled slightly, Mulder reached his right arm under her arms and around her back, and used his left hand to steady her head against his chest.

Scully leaned into him, dropping her purse to the floor and putting her hand to her head. "Don't…don't move…" she exhaled, barely audible.

"I won't," he said, standing perfectly still and holding her upright. "I'm right here. Take your time."

For a few minutes, they stood silently in her entryway; Mulder holding her upright and softly cradling her head. When Scully seemed to be regaining her balance, he turned his head down to her.

"Do you think we can walk to your room?"

"I think so."

Carefully, slowly, Mulder walked Scully down the hall to her bedroom with his arm wrapped around her for stability. He pushed the door open and helped her step out of her shoes and get under the covers. He stood over her, bending over slightly and pulling the blanket over her body.

"What do you need?"

"My purse is by the door…my phone and medication are in there…maybe some water?"

Mulder walked back into the room a few moments later carrying her purse and a glass of water, and then set both on the nightstand next to Scully. She slowly sat up in bed and took a small sip of water.

"Thank you," she sighed. "Is the door locked?"

"Yes."

"I have a security system too, if you want to set it. The code is 9563. Are – are you armed?"

Mulder nodded. He noticed that she was getting somewhat agitated. He sat down on the bed next to her. "Yeah, I'm armed," he said softly. "Is everything all right, Scully?"

"I – I don't know." Her breath was getting rapid and her eyes were darting around nervously. "I just don't feel safe."

"It's okay. You're home, nobody's going to hurt you here."

Scully looked at him, an incredulous expression of alarm spreading across her face. "What are you talking about, Mulder? Pfaster did. Duane Barry did. Tooms…"

"They're all dead. And so is the man from today."

"There will be more, there's always more. I can't – my heart is being really quickly. Mulder – Mulder, I think – I think I'm having a panic attack." She put one hand on her chest and used the other to feel the pulse on her neck. Her eyes were open wide, confused and scared.

Mulder reached for her hands, taking them in his. He guided one of her hands to her stomach and kept the other in a gentle squeeze.

"Scully?" he said, trying to meet her eyes. "Look at me. You're okay. You're safe. Focus on things you can see and touch. I want you to squeeze my hand three times. Can you do that?"

Scully nodded and squeezed his hand.

"Now I want you to try to take a deep breath into your stomach, not your chest, okay? Try to focus on it and make your hand move outward and inward. Slowly, out – one, two, three – and in – one, two, three. We're going to get through this, all right?"

"Okay," she choked out, her breathing still ragged.

For what was only a few minutes, but seemed much longer, Mulder coached Scully through her breathing and helped her to bring down her heart rate and concentrate on regulating her breathing. As she relaxed, she sunk back down into the blankets until Mulder was sitting over her as though he were tucking her in for the night.

Scully looked up with Mulder with grateful, surprised eyes. "How did you know how to do that?" she asked, rolling her body slightly towards his.

"My mother. She used to have panic attacks in the years after Samantha disappeared."

Her eyes grew sadder as Mulder continued.

"Yeah…my father used to call it 'hysterics,' said we should ignore it and let her calm down herself. But I got a psychology book from the library and learned about panic disorders, what to do when panic attacks are happening, and I was able to help her out of it a few times. It actually sparked my interest in psychology, to be perfectly honest. They're a very strange phenomenon."

Scully squeezed his hand again without being prompted to.

"Have you had one before?" he asked.

She paused for a moment. "They're not frequent. But sometimes I get this overwhelming sensation of not being safe in my home, and I can't control my heart rate, my breathing. I get warm…" She winced as she wiped some sweat off her forehead and saw that it was still mixed with the dried blood from the hospital.

Mulder stood up for a moment, went into the bathroom, and came back with a damp washcloth. He offered it to Scully, who starting patting down her face and neck.

"I really want a shower," she sighed, "but with the dizziness, it's probably not a good idea."

He nodded in agreement. "Dr. Joyet really wanted you to rest. I'll stand guard and let you sleep. Do you need anything else?"

Scully looked up at him, almost embarrassed to ask. "Can you stay?"

"I'm not going anywhere, Scully."

"No, I mean…here. Can you lie with me?"

Mulder nodded, and stood up to remove his jacket, walk around to the other side of the bed, and place his gun on the opposite nightstand. He joined Scully under the covers, gently wrapping his arm around her stomach.

As they lay there in silence, with Mulder breathing on the back of Scully's neck, he thought that perhaps she had fallen asleep. But then, quietly, almost imperceptibly, she exhaled.

"I missed you, Mulder."

"I missed you too."

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