X Files Fan Fiction
This story was originally written and posted in 2001 on the old Geocities web site and I think I posted it a little later on Mulder Torture
That is what it is Mulder torture
Set season 6 from memory, a week or so after 1st Person Shooter which is mentioned in the story.
Rating M for violence – cannibalism
Angst/whumping/MT or whatever you want to call it. Hurt/comfort
Usual disclaimer, not mine, just borrowed for a little play
I slashed it into 3 pieces so that it would fit in here. They are not real chapters, just places with a break in the story.
Snow was falling in large fluffy flakes. Mulder sat mesmerised and watched. The snow seemed to come whizzing at the car before suddenly veering up and over the roof. Looking at falling snow from a moving vehicle was like watching the star field as the Starship Enterprise went into warp drive. Or was it the Millennium Falcon jumping into Hyperspace? Muzzily he worried the question for a moment and decided both. They both did it. His eyelids were heavy. This was hypnotic. He was having real trouble keeping his eyes open. But hey, he nearly giggled, it didn't matter because this time he wasn't driving. For some reason that amused him, it must be the altitude affecting him. Scully the superwoman was in charge again. He pictured her in her cyber gear kicking butt. Shame she couldn't keep that outfit. He snorted a little, and that was a mistake because it made him cough. And coughing hurt. Raw throat and inflamed chest made coughing agony and the effort made his temples throb. Fuck, he would have screamed, but once he'd finally stopped coughing he didn't have the breath. The snow didn't seem so pretty any more. He felt awful.
He took a glance at Scully but she was studiously ignoring him. Knowing how Scully's doctoring instincts were nearly pathological, ignoring his painful cough was a sign of how angry she was at him. Scully was pissed off. Her annoyance wafted through the car like a malevolent fog. Mulder couldn't miss it. She'd been mad all week. Ever since she'd saved his ass from the cyber bitch she had been treating him like a defective two year old. Today was no exception. She was mad because he was here when he should be home in bed. (Ha). She was mad because she thought he didn't trust her to do a job on her own. And, Mulder thought, she was really mad because he'd embarrassed her on the plane. But he hadn't been able to clear his nose and the pressure in his ears was agony. So the hostess had been so attentive and caring. Well wasn't that what she was paid to do? It certainly wasn't Mulder's fault that she had had legs to her armpits and that when she bent down to offer him asprin her boobs had nearly fallen out of her blouse. That wasn't his fault at all.
He tried a sniff. His nose was as stuffed as ever but driving up this mountain had reduced the pain in his ears thank god. He didn't think he could have survived much more of that even with those heavy duty pills Scully had given him. Maybe they were what was making the snow so mesmerising. Hell, watching the snow sure beat the hell out of watching Scully with her mouth set in that tight little line.
God we don't get on like we used to, Mulder thought with a twinge. He did glance at her and yes she was staring straight ahead with her lips tight shut. She's had enough of me. His head throbbed with pain. We can still work together, but we don't 'feel' together like we used to. He was trying so hard to get that back. He needed their togetherness so badly. But god damn it he'd got it wrong again. The case wasn't even an X file, just a messy murder. She had been the one requested for her forensic expertise. He had just decided to tag along. After all wasn't he the wonder profiler. He should have let her go with someone else. Hell he should have let her go alone. But he couldn't.
And the fucking heater in the car didn't work and it was freezing. God, he thought, what am I doing here?
'For christ sake Mulder. Stop doing that!'
'All those revolting snorting noises. Blow your nose!'
Oh fuck you Scully! But of course he didn't say it.
Turning to face the door he curled up and wiped his eyes. He did need his handkerchief, but it was no use on his nose, that was too blocked. He wrapped myself around the lump of misery in his chest and wondered how he was ever going to survive these next few days until he could get home again. Alone.
- - - -
Scully was starting to get worried. And she wasn't worried about Mulder. So he had a cold and was milking it for all it was worth. Well too bad. He'd wanted to come. He could live with it. No, she was concerned that if this snow kept up they weren't going to get through to their destination, the town of Chippewa. That meant they wouldn't get to the crime scene until the following day, if then. They were supposed to have flown up from Denver but the snow storm ruined that idea. She sighed. She hated driving in the snow. It had not been a good day so far.
She ran her mind over what she knew about the case. It wasn't much. The murders had occurred the night before, Tuesday and it was now about 4pm Wednesday. Another day and the trail to the killer would be very cold. Skinner had approached her that morning with just the basic facts: two dead, dismemberment and disembowelment. Mutilation. The locals were having trouble working out what part fitted what body let alone finding anything to help solve the crime. Could she help? Hell, Mulder was being such a pain in the butt she'd do anything to get out of the office.
Only now that a) he had come too, and b) it involved a three hour drive over mountains in the snow to get to the crime scene. Oh and c) he had thrown a screaming fit for the benefit of the bimbo air hostess. She really wished she had declined.
And she really wished that Mulder hadn't insisted on coming.
Scully couldn't stand the way that men behaved when they got a sniffle. It turned into such a big deal, death was imminent and they were not going to go quietly. She'd seen dying people with more fortitude than Mulder with a cold. Hell she even remembered her mother remarking on that once. I don't know, she thought. I don't know. That's the trouble. Something is the trouble and I don't even know what.
What? What Mulder, what?
She fiddled with the radio a bit and found a country music station, what a surprise. The sentiment annoyed her and she turned it off. She turned the heater down. She risked a looked at Mulder. He was curled up asleep. He wasn't well, she knew that. He hadn't said a thing about the case, no theories, no questions. It wasn't normal. His breathing was wheezy, the fact that he was asleep at all meant he wasn't well, but she still felt mad. She had been steeling herself to put a little distance between them. She desperately needed some space of her own. They had become so close lately and that was a good thing. It was. But after all these years she was used to being alone and Mulder took up so much of her energy. Especially recently with his mother's death and finding out about Samantha. She loved him sure, but she also felt smothered. He'd placed all of his love and trust and attention on her in the last few weeks and she was having trouble breathing. She had wanted to talk to him about having a week apart. She hadn't had the chance. Now he was sick she wanted to touch him and stroke him and make him better, as always. God! That made her mad!
They were getting higher into the mountains and the snow was starting to settle on the road. It was getting thick enough to worry her. She fought to unfold the map and figure out where the hell they were. It didn't help that Mulder was moaning and twitching in his sleep. Shit, if he was ill they couldn't afford to get stuck out over night. Did this road go any higher or not? It wasn't easy to tell but she was fairly sure it was only about another 15 to 20 miles to go. The trouble was that in not knowing the road she couldn't decide whether or not to risk it.
Mulder was getting more agitated - nightmares, what a surprise. Hell Mulder, she thought, why do you have to do this to me? He was really thrashing around. You know I can't leave you when you need me. Shit this was turning into a biggy. How the hell had he got deeply enough asleep to have a nightmare at this time of the day? He fought and moaned and Scully's heart lurched. He was terrified. Then he began calling her name.
Reaching over to try and shake him awake Scully gasped with shock. He was burning hot! 'Mulder.' She shook him harder. 'Mulder, wake up, you're dreaming!' She suddenly realised she'd stopped the car and had both hands on him, willing him awake.
He jerked upright and stared at her, eyes wide with terror. 'It's alright. It's alright,' she soothed. 'You were dreaming.'
His chest was heaving and it took a moment for the dream to fade and let him come back to his surroundings. She watched fear turn to recognition in his eyes then change to embarrassment and inexplicably to pain.
'Oh.' He took a deep breath and squirmed in the seat. Scully could feel his pulse slowing, and the heat radiating off him. He turned from her to the window and coughed. It obviously hurt. He took a minute to recover. Now Scully admitted she might be concerned. She started trying to unwrap him from his coat.
Mulder took a shaky breath and tried to be nonchalant. 'The snow's worse.'
'That's not the only thing that's worse,' Scully said pointedly. He became aware of what she was doing with the coat and snatched the woollen garment back around himself. They had a brief tussle before Scully sat back and tried to talk him out of it instead. 'Mulder you've got a temperature. You've got to cool down a little.'
'I'm sure you feel you are, but it's the fever.'
'So fucking reasonable.'
Snorting Scully gave up. She sat back on her own side of the car and gazed at the snow falling on the forest. She didn't care. Why had fate decreed that she ever had to meet this man? She was getting really pissed off with his obstinacy. Let him sit there and sweat. See if she cared if he over heated. She consoled herself with the thought of her gun nestled against her back. If he didn't die soon she might have to kill him.
It was early but the storm meant the light was already going. Finally reaching a decision Scully started the car and turned it around. She couldn't take the chance of going on. About half an hour back she remembered a small township. Hopefully there would be somewhere to stay there. It made her cross, but she had no choice. She'd head back there.
'This car's got fleas,' Mulder said.
Scully ignored him.
- - - - - -
The trip back to the town took longer than Scully had expected. It was snowing hard now, the visibility low and the road starting to get treacherous. She was on edge. Mulder had drifted back to sleep quite quickly, his mouth open to breathe through his blocked nose. Belatedly she felt some sympathy for his earache on the plane. He was so stuffed up he hadn't had a hope of equalising the pressure in his ears as the plane descended. He really would have been in serious pain.
But, Scully admonished herself he knew that before he flew. He'd got enough flights under his belt to know the effects of reduced pressure on the sinus system and he'd still elected to come. So he deserved whatever he got. Right? She sighed. Yeah right. She reached out to touch his cheek. God he was so hot. She really needed to get that coat off him and cool him down a little. She turned the heater almost off, not that that would do much good. What he really needed was to be in bed - for at least a week. The road stretched on.
By the time she did get into the little town, she was exhausted, and with the heater off pretty cold. It was dark. Wood Creek, a small community left over from the logging days didn't seem to have a lot going for it. She crawled along the main street desperately searching for somewhere to stay. There was only one motel and it did not look promising. There was no "Vacancy" sign flashing anywhere. In fact there were no lights on anywhere and only one car looking abandoned in the parking lot. Damn, she thought. They must close up for the winter. There was a however a diner across the road, lit up, with cars parked outside. Her stomach rumbled at the thought of food and she consoled herself that at least they could get something to eat. Which was more than would have happened if they'd got stuck in the snow up in the pass.
She drove right through the town. It took about thirty seconds. There was no where else to stay. Feeling increasingly desperate she turned back for another look at the motel and noticed that there was a light. It came from somewhere around the back of the office building. Someone was home.
So you're not open she thought pulling up in front of the office. A piece of cardboard sloppily spelling out "closed" was taped to the window. Too bad. The beds must still be in the rooms. Scully was prepared to make them up herself if she had to.
With an attempt at an apologetic smile Scully rang the bell on the office door. She stepped back in surprise when the door was flung open before she'd taken her finger off it. The wizened little woman who stood there looked as surprised as Scully when she saw who was at the door. 'I'm sorry to disturb you Ma'am,' Scully started, taking in the woman's surprise. Obviously she had been expecting someone and it wasn't her. 'We're in a bit of trouble. We can't get through to Chippewa in this snow and we really need a bed for the night. I know you're closed but we'd be happy to pay extra if you could open up a couple of rooms for us.'
'Oh I can't do that dear.' She looked around as if to check they weren't going to be over heard. 'We had a murder here last night. I've got to stay closed until the FBI have a look around.'
'You had a murder? Here?'
'Yes dear, real gruesome one. If them FBI don't get here soon and let me clean up I'll never get them stains out of everything.'
'Mrs Murphy. We're FBI agents, but were supposed to be investigating a murder in Chippewa.'
'No. No. They took what was left of the bodies to the morgue there. We aint got nothing like that here of course. FBI was supposed to look at the bodies and then come down here to see the scene.' She peered at Scully. 'You're not FBI. A little slip of a girl like you.'
'Yes ma'am, I am.' Scully showed her ID and the woman crowed with delight.
Scully suppressed a sigh. It was turning into a long day. 'Excuse me a minute would you please.' Turning her back she pulled out her phone and moved around the corner. Snow fell on her hair and already the car was covered in a white layer. The Denver office, when she finally got through to the duty agent confirmed that, yes the crime scene was in Wood Creek. Oh bloody marvellous. She was cold, she was hungry, her partner had a fever and they had just wasted something like an hour and a half on a dangerous snowy road thanks to that missing little piece of information. It was all she could do to be civil. She took a deep breath and turned back to Mrs Murphy. 'Perhaps we'd better take a look at the scene.'
'I'll call the deputy,' Mrs Murphy said. She nodded her head across the road through the falling snow. 'Truck's at the diner.'
'Thank you Mrs Murphy, that would be good.'
Scully went across to the car to wake Mulder and tell him the news while she waited for the deputy to turn up. He woke with a start but seemed a little better for his nap. He wasn't overly pleased about going to work however. Scully left him grumbling and went to get her kit from the trunk. A figure was striding across the road and she did a double take, realising with a shock that the deputy was a woman. She laughed. She had assumed the deputy would be a man. She'd made the same presumptions as Mrs Murphy had about her.
They met half way. 'Deputy Frost.' The woman held out her hand. She was tall and solid with her hair pulled back into a pony tail. Her uniform trousers fitted her snugly and her weapon sat just so on her hip. She exuded authority.
'Special Agent Scully.' Scully smiled as they shook hands. The handshake was firm. 'My partner Special Agent Mulder.' She indicated the hunched figure. He was coughing as the cold air hit his sore air passages. 'But you can ignore him, he's got the flu.'
'Oh.' Deputy Frost looked like she couldn't think of what to say to that but the look she gave Mulder wasn't very kindly. Mulder gritted his teeth and tried to get the cough under control. Now he was getting pissed.
'Do you want to show me the scene?'
'Yes. Of course, come on.' She turned to Mrs Murphy who was hovering near by, 'You go back inside!'
Mrs Murphy glared but hobbled off.
The deputy opened unit 9 with a standard motel key. She stood for a moment in the doorway then looked at Scully. 'This is pretty horrible.'
'It's alright. You've no idea some of the things I've seen.'
The smell came at them in the moment after the deputy opened the door. Blood, faeces, all the smells of violent death. Then the light came on to illuminate a scene from hell.
'Oh God!' Mulder and Scully breathed together. It resembled the aftermath of a high school food fight, but the mess was blood and tissue and bits of unmentionable horror. Scully took a deep breath and moved inside. A layer of newspaper had been laid like a bridge into the centre of the room and they walked on that.
The mess was twenty four hours old and solidified, scummy and brown. It was no less horrifying for that.
'What happened here?' Scully asked as she pulled her gloves on. She looked up to find Deputy Frost watching her. She was taking in her reaction. The deputy shrugged. 'Don't know why, but someone took to these people with a meat cleaver. We got the weapon.'
'We had to scoop all the stuff up into big polythene bags. Only way we know for sure there was two people is that we had four feet.'
Scully heard Mulder choke.
'Do we know who they were?'
'According to their drivers licences, Chris and Gavin Polech from Miami.' The deputy gave them a brief summation of what was known. 'Tourists we guess. They had ski passes on their jackets. Don't know what they were doing up here though. We turned the heating off when we shut everything up. Just as well I think.' She started taking Scully through the stuff the crime scene detectives had noticed in their prelim investigation, spatter patterns, slashes in the walls and furniture. By mutual consent they were ignoring Mulder. Scully couldn't have said why. The report was comprehensive but concise. Deputy Frost was a good officer.
- - - -
Mulder stood a couple of steps inside the door swaying with fatigue. He desperately wanted to be lying down somewhere but that didn't seem likely to happen in the near future. The scene in the room didn't disturb him unduly, sure it was horrible but he had seen it before. He was feeling so ill he couldn't really take much else on board. He hurt. His muscles hurt, his back hurt. His throat was raw and it hurt to breathe. Tiredly he reached out to the wall for support. There was something dark in the room. Dark as death.
Death had been here but it hadn't left. Fighting a sudden panic he stared around. He could feel it swooping around them. He could see, he was sure he could, a darker shadow between himself and the light. The women were unconcerned. They were discussing blood spatter patterns with the relish of fishwives over the latest piece of gossip. Couldn't they see it?
No. No they couldn't because it was focusing on him. The dark wings were trying to land on him, wrap around him. Frightened he tried to fight it off. He tried to scream but it stopped his breath. Scully, he yelled silently. Help me!
- - - -
Scully's attention snapped away from Deputy Frost, suddenly aware of her partner's distress. He blundered from the room, collided with the door and staggered off the step.
The deputy raised her eyebrows. 'Something he ate?'
'He's ill,' she muttered. It wasn't the crime scene. The look on his face had been one of sheer terror.
She raced after him to find him crouching pressed against the car, arms over his head, - taking cover!
Nervously Scully checked her gun. She couldn't see anything that had scared him but it paid to think safe. 'Mulder?' She squatted in front of him. 'What is it?' She took hold of his arms and pulled them down. His eyes were dilated and unfocused in the dim light. It seemed to take some time for him to see her. When he did his relief was palpable. He sagged to the ground as Scully reached out and smoothed the hair off his burning forehead.
'What happened Mulder?'
'Couldn't you feel that Scully?' His voice was a raspy whisper. 'There was something in that room. Death was in that room Scully.' He was shivering desperately.
'I don't dispute that Mulder...'
'There was something there. Something horrible.'
'Mulder, that room was horrible, we all saw something horrible. But all I felt was cold.' She wiped away some snow that was starting to settle on his hair. 'And what you are feeling is very sick.' He sagged against her and she put an arm around him. 'Come on,' she started levering him up. 'We'll see if Mrs Murphy can fix us up with some beds.'
'No!' Scully landed on the ground, completely unprepared for the way he jerked away from her. 'We can't stay here Scully. We can't sleep here!' He was quite demented.
'Mulder!' The snow was soaking through her pants. The Deputy gave her a hand up. 'There is no where else to stay here. You need to be in bed.' She turned to the Deputy prepared to humour him if it was possible. He needed to be kept calm. 'There isn't is there?'
The deputy looked at Scully. 'Weell...'
'Well actually, there is. My mam owns a hunting lodge down by the river. I don't think she'll let you have it cheap though.'
'Don't worry.' Scully didn't care a jot what it cost. She just wanted Mulder out of the snow and in bed. 'The FBI can pick up the tab. Will you ask her if we can use it?'
The Deputy grinned. 'Easy.' She started walking back to the motel office, opened the door. 'Mam,' she yelled. 'Is the lodge up to guests?' When Mrs Murphy appeared Deputy Frost grinned as she put an arm around the little woman's shoulders. 'This is my mother,' she said.
They went into the office to make the arrangements. Mulder folded onto the only chair. As Mrs Murphy fussed around finding keys he sagged, squinting up at them from under his fringe. The scene seemed normal but he felt as if another darker one was sliding in and out of view like a bad three colour print. Death was still close. At any stage it could come back. He wrapped his arms tight around his chest. He was still frightened.
Mrs Murphy was giving instructions. 'The beds are made up but you'll have to turn the water and power back on.' Scully signed the necessary papers and Mrs Murphy started to explain about mains switches and water taps. The Deputy cut her off, 'It's okay. I'll go down there with them and sort it out.'
Gathering her partner Scully picked up the keys and led Mulder out to the car with a firm grip on his arm. Her touch was solid and grounding and some of the fear drained away. Deputy Frost said she'd follow along. Scully was just starting the car when the other woman ran over and knocked on the window. 'Agent Scully,' she asked, 'have you eaten?'
- - -
The road to the hunting lodge ran deep into the forest. It was actually a blessing because the snow wasn't settling as thickly between the trees. Even so it was comforting to know they didn't have to worry about getting stuck. Deputy Frost's four wheel drive was coming along behind them.
Mulder leant up against the window idly wondering if he would get a frost bitten cheek. He didn't have the energy to move away. Once the car started moving the black apparition from the motel seemed to have been left behind. He was willing to concede that it might have been a fever dream. He was certainly happy to concede that he now had a fever. He couldn't mistake that hot/cold/shivery feeling for anything else. Concentrating on staying awake until they got there he wasn't really thinking at all, beyond relief that he would be able to lie down soon. He was hot now, hence the cheek on the frozen window. He felt very ill.
In spite of his efforts he found his eyes were closed because he had to open them when the car came to a halt and he heard Scully's sharp intake of breath. Good grief. The building in the head lights wasn't what he'd been expecting. This wasn't a hunting lodge. This was what rich people called a hunting lodge. Skinner was going to do his nut over the expense account for this one.
Scully took a torch and went up the wide steps to the porch that ran right around the building. She fitted the key in the lock and the door opened, so Mulder guessed they must be in the right place. She disappeared for a few moments and then suddenly the whole place was ablaze with light, she'd found the mains switch. It wasn't just every room in the house that was lit either, but the parking area, the grounds, and in front of the house down a slope, just visible through the falling snow, an area of river bank, complete with boat shed and jetty. Wow! Even Mulder's whirling brain was impressed.
Carefully easing himself out of the car he made his way up the steps and followed Scully inside. He found himself in a huge open plan room that was easily the size of his apartment. Right beside him was the kitchen area and away over by the floor to ceiling windows a 'cosy area' of sofas gathered around an enormous fireplace. The windows overlooked the river. It was all a bit much and he didn't really take it in. The cold air seemed to rip across his raw air passages, sucking any lubrication with it. He started to cough. Inside the house was every bit as cold as outside. Shivering he buckled into a chair.
'Mulder,' Scully called. 'Up here.' She was leaning over from a mezzanine area that ran the length of the room. 'Bedrooms.'
It took him an age to climb the stairs. Scully didn't come to help. Mulder took the first room he came to. Huge bed and a door opening into an ensuite complete with bidet and large bath. Fine. Good. Bed. He would have made some smart comment but he was too far gone. He curled onto the bed too miserable to move. For all that it was a swanky room it was fucking freezing. He was so sick. He wondered if he might die.
Something thumped onto the floor and then he heard the sound of the curtains being pulled. Scully had brought up his bag. He felt a weight beside him on the bed. Scully ran her hand over his head but she wasn't trying to sooth. She was only feeling for the pulse in his neck. Mulder was suddenly horribly afraid he was going to cry.
'Come on Mulder,' she said brusquely. 'We've got to get you undressed.' She started undoing his coat. This time he let her. Then she started on the shirt. 'I know it's cold but once you're in bed you'll be alright.'
Her prissy manner was peeing him off. He sat up and shook her off. 'I can manage,' he said thickly.
She stood hovering uncertainly. 'I found some tylenol in my toilet bag. They should help.' She held them out. 'They'll reduce the fever too.'
Mulder took the slide and popped two out.
'I'll get some water.' She went into the bathroom and the taps squeaked. 'Of course,' she called, 'no water.' Scully leaned on the basin trying to control her temper. Somehow the lack of water was the last straw. 'They must drain the building in the winter so the pipes don't freeze.'
Her breath fogged the mirror and she hoped the Deputy would get here soon to turn on the heat. And turn on the water of course. That way she could get Mulder settled and hopefully not see him for the rest of the night. Stifling a growl she went back into the bedroom to see Mulder fighting his way out of his pants. Her eyes were drawn to his chest. What she saw there floored her. Oh No! Her eyes widened. It wasn't fair. 'Mulder.'
He looked up and fell backwards onto the bed distracted from the tricky business of taking his leg out of his trousers. 'What?'
'Look.' She pointed at him. Oh god she didn't believe it. 'No wonder you feel so awful.' The situation suddenly seemed ludicrous and she had to try hard not to laugh, 'You've got chicken pox.'
Scully wasn't a complete bitch. She knew that chickenpox in adults was not to be taken lightly. But oh God, it had to be Mulder. Who else would wait until he was nearly forty to catch a childhood illness? She choked back her laughter and did the best that she could for him but there was very little she could do.
She gave him a quick look over. He had several clusters of spots on his chest and back, probably in his groin too but she wasn't looking there. Contrary to popular belief she didn't actually travel with a full emergency department in her bag and this time she didn't even have a working thermometer. She hadn't replaced it since it was broken (by Mulder of course) about three trips ago. She tucked him shivering into bed and sat beside him thinking. She was pleased at least to have a diagnosis. The flu scenario had been starting to worry her, his temperature had seemed just too high, but it was entirely consistent with chicken pox.
Mulder very quickly dozed off. Scully tried to suppress a moan as she sat there looking at him. With the blankets pulled up he didn't look too bad, he had no spots on his face. That didn't mean that they wouldn't appear later. A diagnosis at least gave her an idea of what to expect. Worse case, he would be extremely ill for about the next five days. His skin would be covered in spots, along with his mucous membranes. He would nearly go mad with the itching. He would have an extremely high fever and the toxins from the virus would attack every organ in his body.
This was Mulder. Scully expected worse case.
Right now it seemed pointless to warn him.
He was contagious. Scully wanted to cry. He couldn't fly. She couldn't send him home. They were stuck here, or somewhere like here for two weeks. She closed her eyes and tried to think of a single reason she stayed partnered to Mulder but right now she couldn't think of one.
She heard the front door open with a feeling of relief. 'Hi there,' yelled Deputy Frost. Scully smiled. She wasn't alone. She kissed Mulder on his forehead and went down to meet her.
The Deputy was carrying a large box that she dumped on the kitchen bench. 'I got us some things. I thought we could make dinner and talk about the case.' She hesitated, 'Hell you're not vegetarian are you?'
Scully smiled delighted at the prospect of company. 'No. Um Deputy Frost..?'
'Oh,' she grinned. 'My name's Shareen. After all we're off duty now aren't we?' She put her hand back and swept her hair out of its band. It was thick and blond and fell in a rich curtain to her shoulder blades.
'Shareen, I'm Dana,' she smiled. 'Ah Shareen, I've got to ask you an awkward question. Have you had chicken pox?'
'Chicken pox. You mean..?' she laughed and nodded towards the bedrooms.
'Yes. I'm afraid so.'
'Oh dear. I thought only kids got chicken pox.'
'Generally yes, but I guess he never caught it as a child. It's usually much worse if you don't catch it until you're an adult.'
'Well I never got it when my daughter had it last summer so I guess I'm safe. God but it's cold in here.' She started pulling things out of the box. 'What do you fancy, chilli or bolognaise?'
Scully thought a moment. Chilli cooked by strangers could be a bit dicey. 'Bolognaise I think, thanks.'
'Great,' Shareen threw Scully an onion. 'You get started, I'll see about getting some heat on around here.' She dived into a utility room off the entry and Scully started searching the enormous kitchen for knives and utensils. It was a beautiful, well set up kitchen and Scully could imaging a chef holding court as the guests sipped drinks and chatted in the lounge. She quickly found what she wanted and started chopping. After a few minutes the water started gurgling in the pipes. Water sputtered from the tap over the sink and when it was running evenly she turned it off. Shareen came back and set to lighting the fire in the lounge.
Scully found a large pan, most of the pans were large. She had water heating for the pasta and the onions and garlic browning nicely by the time Shareen was done.
'The underfloor heating is on but it will take a good hour to get really cosy. The water will be quicker, it's got a fast recovery system. You can have a shower in about fifteen minutes if you want.'
'That's great. Thanks.' Scully stirred her pan, she was enjoying herself. 'Thank you for doing this. These onions are ready. Where's the meat?'
'It is no trouble. Oh hell I nearly forgot. I've got something else you might want right now.' She fossicked in the box. 'Ta da.' She held up a small glass tube, a thermometer.
Scully laughed. 'You are so right. Thank you. I was just cursing not having one of these.' She hesitated.
'Go on. Go see to him.' Shareen reached for the spoon. 'You'll feel better when he's settled. I'll finish this. I like cooking.'
Feeling a weight lift off her Scully went back upstairs. Mulder was out cold. She didn't wake him, just slipped the thermometer gently into his mouth and held it under his tongue. It was not exactly recommended technique but he barely stirred. The reading came in at just over 101. Damn. Hot enough although he actually didn't seem as hot now as he had been back in the car before they got to Wood Creek. That was a worrying thought. Getting undressed and into a cold bed must have helped. Even so, that was way too high.
Scully striped the bedspread off the bed and surveyed him. He really needed the tylenol. It would reduce the fever and ease the aches and pains. She didn't want to wake him but rationalised that he would probably get a better sleep if he took the pills. She fetched some water and woke him up. He wasn't pleased. He swore. It didn't make her feel any more kindly towards him so she didn't treat him very nice. Hauling him upright she made him force the tablets down his throat. After that she made him drink two more glasses of water. He didn't fight the water. He had a raging thirst. And the cold water was soothing on his throat. He could tell she was pissed and he didn't want to deal with it. He figured the sooner she was done the sooner he could get back to sleep.
He should have said sorry or thank you or something. Instead he just slumped out of her arms. 'Your bedside manner stinks,' he grumbled which probably wasn't a very bright thing to say but he was feeling pretty pissed off himself.
She surveyed him for a minute arms folded, her eyes narrowed. 'Goodnight,' she said tightly.
Mulder growled. When the door shut behind her he sagged back into the bed closing his eyes against the pricking tears.
- - - - -
By the time dinner was ready the women were able to dispense with their coats. It still wasn't quite warm enough until they took their wine and moved over by the roaring fire Shareen had coaxed into life.
Dinner was great. They pulled the coffee table over by the fire and sat cross legged on the floor beside it. Shareen proved to be an excellent cook and the wine she pulled out of the store room was superb. She opened the bottle with a flourish. 'This place is well set up. It's a shame it only gets used in the summer. If it were closer to the ski resorts we would get a lot more business.' The pasta was just right and the sauce was rich and fragrant with garlic and tomatoes. Shareen dished it up and then gasped, 'Oh God Dana,' she burst out laughing. 'This looks like something from the crime scene.' She coloured. 'I'm sorry. I'm sorry, I've got a sick sense of humour.'
Scully laughed too. She was already feeling more relaxed than she could remember. She hadn't realised how much she needed some extra company. Company that wasn't Mulder she meant. 'Don't worry. You should have seen what the hospital cafe served up every time my class did dissection at med school. I never could understand why we had to have chopped liver on dissection days.' She poured more wine. Hell, why not.
The evening was wonderful. The alcohol and the fire, the cocooning effect of the snow outside encouraged the women to talk. They had a lot in common. They were both women in law enforcement fighting to be more than equal to the men. Scully brought up the case because she felt she should but neither of them wanted to ruin the mood. They were off duty.
Luckily there wasn't much about the crime to talk about. The couple were last seen alive around 9 pm leaving the diner. They were found around 9 am by Shareen's mother. Time of death unable to be estimated on the scene due to extreme mutilation of the bodies. No one had seen or heard anything unusual.
The car was registered to Gavin Polech, next of kin were being notified. There was nothing Scully could do without seeing the bodies and that depended on the weather in the morning. The killers were probably far away. That was enough of that conversation. It could wait for the morning.
Moving the plates out to the kitchen Shareen opened another bottle of wine. 'I'm so pleased you're here,' she said. 'I couldn't believe it when Mam told me the FBI investigator was a woman.'
Scully grinned. 'I was just as surprised to learn that the deputy was a woman too.'
'Girls can do anything huh?' She handed Scully her glass and slid back down onto the rug.
'Yep.' She held out her glass. 'Here's to girls.'
'Hear, hear,' Shareen said as they clinked.
Scully leaned back Mulder completely forgotten. 'This is so nice.'
They got up to add a log to the fire or top up their glasses, but mainly they leant back against the sofa staring into the fire and talked. It was like a sleep over Scully mused. She had forgotten how nice "girl talk" could be. Hell, she had spent so long with Mulder she had forgotten what normal conversation was like.
They talked about their families. Scully abridged her story fairly dramatically, some things she just didn't feel like sharing. Then Shareen asked about Mulder. After all the wine she'd had Scully's answer was easy. Just partners she said. But her heart gave a funny thump as she said it.
Shareen had a daughter who was presently spending her school holidays with her father in Oregon. Shareen was a pretty proud mom and she missed her daughter but she was trying to do the right thing and let her see her father. He was a logger she explained. When the Wood Creek mill had been closed by environmental pressure, he and most of the other men around left town. Shareen's father had been ill then and so she had decided to stay for a while.
'I didn't regret not going with him for a minute. We never really got on. So by the time Dad finally popped off, which no one really regretted either, I decided not to leave at all.'
'Was he Irish?'
'Who? My dad?'
'No,' she giggled. 'He liked to think he was but the closed, closs, closest he got to Irish was out of a bottle.' She up ended the second bottle which was now as empty as the first. 'Damn. Good stuff that. In fact,' she sank back down on the floor. The fire was burning lower now and they were lying on the hearth rug with their toes nearly in the grate. 'In fact, he's the bastard that gave me this silly name. Shar -reen.'
Scully giggled. She couldn't remember why she'd asked if Shareen was Irish in the first place. Might have been her name.
'He thought it sounded Irish. Bastard made it up.'
'How did you know what I was thinking.'
'Just clever I guess. What were you thinking?'
'I don't know.' Scully slumped over as peels of laughter rolled through her. 'Can't remember.' She hiccoughed. 'Can't remember what I was thinking. Listen, listen.' She lent over and hissed a pretend whisper. 'I thought of something. You want to hear a silly name?' Guess...'
'My name's Fox,' a hoarse voice said quietly above their heads. 'Is that silly enough for you?'
Scully gulped. Oh shit!
- - - - -
Mulder woke from a restless sleep feeling completely disorientated. He felt like he'd slept for hours, which actually he had, but it was pitch dark and he could hear voices. He felt hot and uncomfortable and desperate both to pee and have a drink. He also had only the vaguest idea of where he was. It was so bloody dark. Groggily he reached out and as his arm connected with a solid object he realised he was on the wrong side of the bed. The dresser was in the wrong place. Raising his head he squinted at an electric clock that swam in front of his eyes. 8:88 it flashed at him. Well that was useful. By its light he managed to find the light switch and found himself screwing his eyes shut in sudden pain as the light illuminated the room. He did not recognise this place. This was a suite, not a motel room.
He sat up carefully. He felt fluey and sick and he squirmed and scratched at his chest. He was itchy. And that was when he remembered. He snatched his hand away. Chicken Pox. He had fucking chicken pox and they were on a bloody case in Bum Fluff Colorado. He had to try not to scratch.
Cautiously, steadying himself against the wall Mulder made his way into the enormous bathroom. He needed to hang on to a towel rail to stay upright while he did his business. Then he grabbed a glass and helped himself to a rushed glass of icy water. It was cold enough to crack his teeth and it felt wonderful. Lifting his head from the basin he surveyed himself in the full length mirror that covered the wall above the triangular jacuzzi.
Dear god, he was not a pretty sight. Clad only in his boxers very little was hidden. His chest and back were covered in angry red welts, each one centred by a yellow blister. There were a few on his arms and legs and several on his face as well. His hair stood on end, damp with sweat and dark rings ran under his eyes. He looked like a child's caricature drawing of some one with – well chicken pox. Groaning he sat down on the cold edge of the tub and rested his head on his hand. This was bad.
Taking a few minutes to steady himself he staggered back into the bedroom. He found his bag and started rooting for his tooth brush. A foul tasting ooze was running down his throat. He could hear female voices somewhere in the building. Scully wasn't here so she must still be up. Hang on, her bag wasn't in here. Where was she planning on sleeping?
Scully was laughing, a sweet tinkling sound. Curious and too restless to return to bed straight away Mulder found his pyjama pants and carefully pulled them on. Luckily the elastic was quite loose and didn't rub too hard against the spots around his middle. Damn it. Even thinking about the spots made the itch worse. Scully obviously wasn't talking to herself. There was some one else here. They didn't need to see what his chest looked like so he pulled on a towelling robe he found folded on a chair.
Shuffling over to the door he made his way out onto the balcony that over looked the lounge area. Now he remembered this place. Who the hell was Scully laughing with in the middle of the night? He looked down and managed to bite back the shocked hiss that the image below brought to his lips. Scully and the deputy woman were lying on the hearth rug in front of the fire. They were practically in each other's arms, smiling at each other. His heart twisted. He'd never suspected…
Shit. He moved back a bit as he fought to control his breathing. Scully was laughing again. He hadn't heard her laugh like that - ever. A crushing pain grabbed at his chest and he had to concentrate suddenly on staying upright, and more importantly on not making a sound. He started to move away, to head back to bed, his mind reeling. His head was pounding and the light hurt his eyes. Tears were starting to damp his cheeks and irritate the spots there. He was nearly at his door when he heard them talking about silly names and he knew what was coming next. Something snapped. He didn't care how much fun they were having - they weren't going to slag him off. And he wasn't going to let her go lightly. God damn it no. I love you Scully. I'm not going to let you throw it away. It was time to break up the party.
He leaned over the edge again and looked down. 'My name's Fox,' he said. 'Is that silly enough for you?'
Scully's shocked face was quite a picture.
Bugger, bugger, damn. Scully jumped upright then, the mood completely broken. It turned out to be nearly 1am. With muttered exclamations about how late it was and how deep the snow was getting Shareen left quickly. Scully saw her out and then joined Mulder who was still propped on the mezzanine rail. She was drunk and she was very pissed off.
'Mulder.' She surveyed him. 'How long were you eavesdropping?'
'I wasn't eavesdropping.'
'What were you doing then?' She noticed one or two spots appearing on his face. He idly scratched his stomach through his robe.
'I woke up, I heard voices, I came out.'
'Uh huh. And how long have you been here?'
'Long enough for what? Don't scratch!'
He snatched his hands back to the balcony rail and twisted awkwardly in the robe. 'It's fucking itchy.'
'I know. I'll try and get some stuff to help tomorrow. Long enough for what? To see me enjoying myself while you're lying there miserable? Poor little Fox can't go to the party so he'll spit on the cake. Is that it.'
'No!' He squirmed some more.
'A cool bath might help. What then?'
'The woman's a dyke Scully. She's after you.'
'Mulder!' Scully was getting really cross. 'I've really enjoyed this evening. You're trying to ruin it. I made a new friend and it was nice.'
'I saw it.'
'I am not.'
'Your trouble Mulder is that you don't know the first thing about women. Do you? Women you see Mulder,' Scully was getting warmed up, how dare he ruin her evening, 'women find it possible to have friendships. Do you know what friendships are Mulder? Do you! How many friends have you got Mulder? Women can have friendships, and share things, and talk and be close to someone and it doesn't mean anything except friendship. It doesn't mean anything. Do you get that!'
He looked pale.
'Have you got that.' Belatedly her fuddled brain realised that they had skipped onto an entirely different topic altogether.
'Yeah Scully, I think I've finally got it.' His voice was completely cold.
Oh God. Scully froze as the realisation of what she'd said hit her. Shit, shit, shit. She was in shock.
Mulder stood there totally stricken, his breath rasping in and out. Eventually he said quietly, 'I think I'll try that bath then.'
Scully could see it was taking him a phenomenal effort to hold himself together. Unsteadily he walked back to his room and the door clicked firmly shut behind him.
She stood rooted to the spot. Oh Jesus! No way had she meant what he had thought she meant but she wasn't taking it back either. He'd had it coming. Serve him right for jumping to conclusions about Shareen. When she reached her own door she stopped and leant her head against the wall suddenly stricken by a thought. She had just ripped his heart out.
- - - -
Mulder's rubbery legs held him up only until he was out of Scully's sight. As soon as he shut the door they gave out completely and he slid gracelessly down the wall. Stuffing his fist in his mouth to muffle the sound he moaned, biting back the scream of pain that wanted to come out. He couldn't make a sound or Scully would come and he couldn't stand that.
He huddled desperately cold and so alone. In the last few months he'd thought he'd found her. In Scully he thought he'd found the love and security and commitment he hadn't even really known he was seeking. He'd never had it before, how could he have known to miss it. He'd been so happy.
Messy sobs suddenly welled through him. How could he not have seen? She hadn't wanted it back. Friendship. Friendship was all she wanted. The gentle New Years Eve kiss had filled him with such warmth. Their quietly blossoming physical relationship had brought a level of joy he'd never known. And these last few months, sleeping in her bed had brought him such peace. All through it he'd thought she shared these feelings. But he'd got it all wrong. He obviously didn't understand women at all.
Heartbroken, ill and alone Mulder huddled on the floor as the black wings closed back in around him.
Scully had left him. He had no protection from the evil demons. Nothing to stop the demons coming in.
- - - -
Scully eventually got to bed. She was still quite drunk and she held on to that. She had a feeling that when she sobered up she would really hate herself. She tumbled into the large bed on her own. It was the first time she'd had a bed to herself in months. She spread herself out and sighed luxuriously. There was no large body taking up more than his share, invading her space and making her bed hot before she'd had a chance to warm it. She did her best to convince herself that she was glad.
Everything was going to custard. After all these years of unrequited lust she had finally got what she wanted and now she wasn't sure if it was what she wanted after all. Mulder was just so… He was so everything! He was so big. He was so untidy. He filled her lovely apartment to over flowing just by being there. He was so brilliant. He was so bloody annoying. He was so clingy. He was so needy. He was so in love with her.
Oh god. He had been so happy.
She tried to tell herself that what had happened tonight would be for the best. She needed space to sort her feelings out, just to find herself again before she was drowned in Mulder. Tonight would help. They could talk it through tomorrow. She could reassure him that she did love him but that she needed a little time to herself
And then something happened that made her realise she'd been fooling herself. He started to scream.
Scully shot across the hallway only to find she couldn't open his door. For a panicked moment she thought it was locked and he was under attack. Then the door gave an inch and she realised it was Mulder's body that was stopping it opening. He must have collapsed there after leaving her. Her heart lurched. He was so ill and she had just gone to bed!
'Mulder!' Scully pushed frantically at the door but he showed no sign of waking. Frighteningly she couldn't get him to budge. He was incoherent, flailing around and screaming in terror. Being bashed by a door wasn't waking him up. She had to get to him.
What to do? Trying to calm herself she took a deep breath and looked around. There was another room next door to his. Hardly daring to hope she dashed in there and found, to her relief, a connecting door. Unlocked.
The howls increased in pitch as he saw her but tapered off in confusion as she carefully approached. 'It's all right Mulder. Everything's okay.' She kept her voice low and soothing, moving in so he could see her. Gently she reached out and he shrank back, eyes unfocused but full of fear. 'It's me Mulder. It's me Scully.' That probably wasn't helping. Since his run in with the video game last week he'd been dreaming that she was the cyber bitch. The more lurid details of that dream had completely put him off oral sex. 'You're okay. You're dreaming. Wake up Mulder. It's okay.'
He was terribly hot.
'Come on Mulder. Wake up. Wake up for me now sweetheart. It's all right. It's me Scully. I'm here now.' She watched recognition slowly filter across his eyes and he sank back onto the floor breathing in small sobs. He'd stopped screaming but was at best barely semi conscious. He was very ill.
Pushing away her feelings of guilt Scully fought her way back in to doctor mode. She had to cool him. There was no time to fiddle around with thermometers. Knowing what his temperature was wasn't actually going to help. He was dangerously, brain frying hot. She had to cool him down. She ripped off the robe and was about to do the same with his pants when she changed her mind. He needed serious cooling. That wasn't going to happen on the floor.
Scully was desperate or she'd never have thought of it. Carrying people twice her size wasn't something she usually attempted. For Mulder however she would try. The pants gave her something to hold on to. It was a struggle - he wasn't capable of helping at all. She got him over her shoulder in a clumsy fireman's lift but then found she couldn't stand up. So she'd work with what she had. Scully crawled with him to the bathroom. His hot dead weight hung over her back smelling unpleasantly of sweat and unwashed man. With a jolt of hysteria she realised she could never hoist him into the bath as she had planned so she kept crawling into the shower. Easing him to the tile floor she yanked his pants off and turned the water on.
When the water first hit him he jerked and shouted and then crumpled in the corner, quite limp. Scully adjusted the water until it was barely luke warm. She needed him cold now. She had to be cruel to be kind. Mulder slid bonelessly down the tiles until he was curled on the floor. The shower cubicle was huge but even so Mulder's slumped body took up most of it. She couldn't leave him with his head on the tiles. He'd shut his eyes but his mouth was slack against the floor as the water ran around him. If he stayed like that he'd drown.
Fighting back tears that threatened to engulf her Scully crawled in too. 'Oh god Mulder,' she moaned. 'I'm sorry.' She pulled him up into a sitting position and sat with him under the cool water holding him with her arms around him and his head on her shoulder. In that position she kissed him and stroked him and the falling water masked her tears.
How could she have done this to him? As the cold water fell on her head she reviewed the situation. God she must have been drunk. Jesus she should have realised that anything he said had to be coming through a fever haze. She shouldn't have been expecting him to make sense. She shouldn't have been expecting him to make sense of her.
Scully had no doubt that she was at fault for the condition he was in. She had to be, because if she had not been drunk she would have seen him back to bed, taken his temperature and when she'd seen it was getting up, she would have had him in a cool bath and given a dose of tylenol. She'd have given him plenty to drink, tucked him back into clean sheets and he'd probably have slept until morning.
If she wasn't drunk she'd never have had that stupid conversation. As it was she'd broken his heart and left him delirious and frightened and alone. Jesus, his self worth was so fragile. How could she do that to him?
It took quite a long time but improvement when it came was dramatic. The trouble was, by then Scully was frozen.
'Scully,' said a voice against her neck. 'You're shivering.'
'Mulder!' She hitched back a sob.
'Yeah.' He moaned. He shook himself a little and tried to sit up. 'What are we doing here?'
'You had a very high fever. How are you feeling?'
'Odd,' he said after considering for a moment. 'Wet. I've got a shocking headache.' He wriggled a bit and grimaced. 'My butt hurts.'
'Okay.' Inspite of herself Scully grinned. 'Sitting on cold tile floors will do that to you.' Awkwardly she clambered up and turned the water off. She was stiff and cold. 'We need to get dry and get you back to bed.' She wondered how she was going to manage that. She must be hypothermic; she barely had the strength to stand up herself. She stripped off her wet clothes and wrapped herself in another robe fortuitously hanging on the back of the door. If she didn't see to herself first she realised, they would be in serious trouble. If she collapsed, Mulder wasn't going to be able to help her.
Turning back to Mulder she found him trying to stand and helped him upwards until he was swaying like a tree in the wind. With his arm around her shoulders and hers tight around his waist she headed straight for the bed. If she had stopped to dry him he'd have come crashing down. Once he was on the bed she gave him a flick over with the towel. That would do. She covered him with the sheet. It was warm in the room now.
She did go looking for the thermometer then, coming in with a reading of 100 exactly. Okay, not good in the ordinary sense but certainly no longer in the danger level. Mulder lolled limp and distant, letting her do what she had to do. He took tylenol and he drank water. Then he lay back on the pillows and closed his eyes. Scully watched him. He looked blotchy and horrible. She had no idea how much he remembered from earlier.
She swallowed hard. Her tears threatened to flow again and there was no way she was letting any more of that happen tonight. She turned the light off leaving just the light from the bathroom and came back to the bed staring down at him again. What next? His eyes opened. 'Aren't you coming to bed?' he asked. His eyes slid shut.
'Yes.' She dropped the robe and climbed in. The bed was wrinkled and damp. 'Night Mulder.'
'Sleep well sweetheart.' She meant it from her heart.
- - - -
Scully was back and the demons were gone.
Mulder woke and lay there savouring a moment of perfect peace. Scully lay sleeping against him. Her breasts, full and warm, rose and fell with her breathing under his hand. He breathed in the scent of her and the clean freshness of her hair. He did have to admit though, even as far gone as he was, there was nothing romantic about her breath. For a moment all of his discomforts ebbed away. Her closeness was overloading his senses, drowning out everything else. Pathetically grateful for her being in his bed he snuggled closer. He was so tired. For now he was safe. He slept.
- - - -- - - -
Which is how it was that Scully woke up to the disquieting realisation that there was a damp, hot, heavy arm across her naked breasts. This was followed by the even more disturbing realisation that the arm belonged to a damp, hot, and naked Mulder. Hadn't she gone to bed on her own?
She froze while her brain tried to make sense of the situation. Mulder was curled around her, even more uncomfortably warm than he usually was. He was sweaty and his breath was hot on her cheek. He was twitching and making little moaning grunts but he was asleep.
With a shudder of distaste Scully freed herself and moved away. Her mouth was disgusting while her stomach could best be described as fragile. Mulder's arm suddenly flopped back across her chest. He was on the wrong side. For some reason it felt completely foreign. She became aware that somewhere in the house a phone was ringing. Then it stopped.
Jesus! Shareen. Who else would be ringing this house? There wouldn't usually be anyone here? Shit, Scully thought. When Shareen didn't get an answer she'd be heading straight up the track to see if everything was okay. It was fully daylight. What the hell was the time?
She slid out of bed, the uncovered patch of skin where Mulder's arm had been suddenly cold and lonely. She paused for a moment watching him sleep, dark eyelashes across his cheek. He was hot, but not the fiery heat of last night's nightmares. He was sprawled on his stomach twitching and moving restlessly, the sheets tightly tangled around his middle. The skin on his back looked as if he had been spattered by something disgusting. And it wasn't just his back she noticed, the backs of his knees were thick with it and there were even spots on the soles of his feet. It looked painful. No wonder he was restless.
Scully's watch had died in the shower and the alarm clock by the bed had never been set once the power was turned on. She had no idea what the time was but considering the time Shareen left and the length of time she had been in the shower with Mulder, she couldn't have been in bed before three. She could easily have overslept by hours. She shot across the hallway to her own room and into the shower.