Keyword: Angst, mostly. I actually stayed away from the other stuff this time.
Archive at will; just leave this link to my site at www.foxsongfiles.net intact.
Disclaimer: The X-Files and the characters of Fox Mulder and Dana Scully are the property of Ten Thirteen and Fox, and I have once again shamelessly used them without permission. No copyright infringement is intended.
Ruego is Spanish for prayer, as milagro is for miracle.
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I left her.
Mulder sprinted down the hall toward his apartment door, weapon ready in his hand. He burst through the open door and saw her
I failed her.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - lying motionless on the floor, her throat smeared with blood; blood was pooled beneath her head, splashed across the front of her blouse. He lowered his weapon, walked forward on legs that had forgotten
I lost her.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - how to carry him. He knelt at her side.
I left her. I failed her. I lost her.
He stared, uncomprehending. No. Not her... not Scully...
Mulder fixed his gaze on her face. He dared not look away. If he looked away he would see her heart, the loyal heart he knew he had broken a hundred times over, torn from her... He reached one timid hand toward her.
And her eyes flew open.
She cried out, terrified, not recognizing him for a moment. He caught her hand as it flew toward his face. When she saw him, knew him, she froze. Mulder watched her eyes. The terror didn't fade; with another wordless cry she clutched at him, pulled herself up against him. He wrapped his arms around her and hugged her tight to his chest and listened, helpless, as she sobbed hysterically against his shoulder.
He tried to reposition himself, to sit down next to her, but Scully's fingers clawed at his back when he tried to move. He ended up lying half atop her on the floor. He tried to rock her, to comfort her, but she cried and cried, hiding her face against his chest. Tears came to his own eyes and he fought them down, seeking strength to lend her, seeking anything at all that would stop her terrible weeping. Finally her tears subsided and she lay trembling in his arms. Mulder eased her down to the carpet, avoiding the lurid red stain near her head.
Scully's eyes were calmer now, searching Mulder's face. He was about to say her name when she startled again, and he realized that she had seen the blood now smeared on his face and shirt; she lifted her head and looked down at herself and stifled another shriek. Her hands fluttered frantically at her throat. "Shhh," he whispered, catching her hands in one of his. "Let me see..."
Scully withdrew her shaking hands and let Mulder open the top few buttons of her blouse. He felt her heart racing under his fingertips as he reached inside. There was no wound, no place that the blood could have come from... Mulder gave a long sigh of relief as he drew his hand out from beneath the fabric.
"It's alright now," he whispered. Scully closed her eyes, and whimpered a little, and reached up and tugged feebly at her bloodstained collar. Mulder saw that she was starting to cry again.
"Scully, it's alright. I'll get you another shirt..."
Mulder sat up, and helped Scully sit up next to him. He got to his feet and lifted her upright in his arms. She leaned heavily against him for a few steps, and then regained her balance as they made their way toward the bedroom. Mulder took a sweatshirt out of his bureau drawer and held it out to her; then, looking ruefully down at his own shirt, he took another for himself.
Scully shed her blazer as she stood, letting it fall to the floor at her feet. She pinched the sodden fabric of her blouse between her fingers, and paused, and Mulder saw her lower lip begin to quiver. He reached out and drew her into his arms and led her toward the bathroom.
As they came to the bathroom doorway, Mulder turned Scully away from the mirror, but she pushed his arm away slowly, and turned to look.
A long minute passed as she studied her disheveled reflection. She finally dropped her gaze and took the washcloth Mulder was holding. As she reached for the faucet, he turned to go, but she put her hand on his arm, and said, "Stay..."
Mulder closed his eyes as she began to remove her blouse. A moment later he was startled by a little strangled cry, and looked up again at Scully --
She was staring, horrified, into the mirror at the reflection of her tattered bra, which looked for all the world as if a knife had been plunged through it. The torn lace, the ruined silk -- She struggled out of it and cast it away with a cry of revulsion. She looked around for Mulder.
It was too much, finally, too much to bear. He sank down onto the edge of the bathtub and put his head down in his hands and sobbed aloud.
Scully came to him, forgetting her nakedness, and not caring when at last she remembered. She knelt between his knees and reached up and put her arms around him. He leaned forward and put his head down and let her hold him.
"Mulder," she whispered. She had no words. "Mulder..."
"I lost you," he cried brokenly into her hair. "I left you. I failed you. I lost you..."
"No, no, no. You never failed me. I'm here. ...I'm here."
"Lost you -- lost you..."
"No," she crooned, "no... You'll never lose me, never lose me." She kissed his neck, stroked his hair, but still he wept.
"They'll... they'll take you," he sobbed at last.
"No, no," she answered. "They won't take me." The words were indefensible, were a promise she knew she shouldn't make; but they were the only words he needed to hear, and the words she wanted to believe. Hoping she spoke the truth, she said them. "No one will take me. I'll always be here... Always be here." She smoothed his hair and kissed his neck again. "I'll always be here," she murmured. "Always love you... I love you."
The words were easier to say than she had expected, not shattering as she'd thought they'd be. They were sweet in her mouth. "I love you, Mulder," she said again, marveling at how freely it left her lips. "I love you, love you..." It became a chant, a prayer. She whispered it over and over into his ear and felt how it calmed him, how he steadied against her, how his trembling eased. "I love you." It seemed so important to tell him. Why had she waited so long?
He had finally stopped crying, and was still; and she became aware that he was praying with her, echoing her whispered words. "I love you, Scully... I love you. I love you..." His voice was so soft that she hadn't heard it over her own, but as he went on it gained strength, became a gentle murmur near her ear. "I love you... always loved you... love you forever..." His fingers twined in her hair, cradled her head against his chest; he kissed the top of her head. The incantation continued. "Love you. Love you. I love you..."
At last Mulder fell silent, content to hold her tucked against his chest, his face buried in her soft red hair. Scully leaned into him, her arms wrapped around his waist, listening to the steady rhythm of his heart beneath her ear. She soaked in his warmth. One of his hands cradled her head; the other slowly, slowly stroked the length of her bare back, over and over.
They were quiet for a long time, until finally Scully stirred in his arms and drew away from him a little. She reached out to pick up the washcloth that had been dropped and forgotten in the little crisis. She leaned over into the tub, turned on the warm water, and moistened the cloth; turning back to Mulder, she raised it to his cheek and began to wipe away the dark stains.
Mulder looked down at her solemn face, and then away at the floor, and finally closed his eyes altogether. She reached the collar of his shirt; it too was smeared with blood, and she set the washcloth aside and began to lift the shirt up. Mulder took his hands from her shoulders, where they had been resting, and pulled the shirt off over his head. Scully picked up the cloth, and moistened it again, and carefully cleaned Mulder's neck where the collar had covered it.
Mulder felt Scully's soft hands follow the nubby washcloth, resting for a moment on his neck and then his cheek. Her fingertips brushed his closed eyelids and he understood that she meant for him to open his eyes. When he did, she held the washcloth out to him; he took it, and Scully sat back on her heels, waiting.
Mulder could no longer avert his eyes. He studied her gravely as he moved the damp cloth slowly across her body, rubbing a little harder at some of the places where the blood had already begun to dry. And Scully, watching Mulder's face, suddenly, vividly remembered how, when she was a very little girl, she would run to her father whenever she had fallen and hurt herself. He would set her carefully upon a chair, and kneel down before her, and tenderly clean and dress her skinned knees. This was the same. She closed her eyes and sighed and finally relaxed as the last of the fear left her. Mulder, like her father, had made all the scary things go away. She was safe again.
When he had washed all the blood away, Mulder leaned over and turned off the water; he draped the cloth over the edge of the bathtub. He laid both of his hands gently on Scully's head, stroked her hair; he cupped her face in his hands. She opened her eyes. Mulder bent and kissed her, just once, on the forehead. Then he picked up one of the clean sweatshirts and handed it to her.
Scully pulled the shirt over her head and wriggled her arms into the sleeves. It was far too large for her, and she had to cuff the sleeves over her forearms to keep them from falling over her hands. Mulder took the second shirt and put it on. He held his hands out to her and she took them in hers; then he rose, drawing her to her feet with him. They walked in silence toward the living room.
At the doorway, Mulder stopped, staring at the broad clean expanse of carpet where Scully had lain. There was nothing there to suggest that anything had ever happened
Scully let go of Mulder's hand and leaned down to pick up her weapon. She gazed up toward the ceiling; there were no bullet holes there. She was sure she had fired... She had. Half the clip in the pistol was empty.
Mulder had picked up his weapon and tucked it into the waistband of his jeans, dropping the edge of his shirt over it to cover it. Scully straightened up and returned to him, twining her fingers in his once again.
"You found Padgett." It was not so much a question as a statement, and Mulder nodded slowly.
"I left him in the basement..."
Scully turned and began to walk toward the front door, leading Mulder by the hand. As they reached the door she paused, and he moved ahead, reached for the doorknob. Scully pulled at his hand to stop him.
He turned to look at her, and waited.
"All those things I said before..." Her eyes, unfathomably deep, held him spellbound. He said nothing.
"...I really meant them all."
He paused, seeming to consider it. Her gaze never left his face. She thought she could see the impact of her words sinking into him. At last he spoke.
"So did I, Scully. ...So did I."
She nodded. Then they turned together and went into the hallway.