Closing The Door

By Jeannine Ackerson

8/25/97

 

Rating: R for violent imagery & language.

Disclaimer: The X-Files, FM, DS and the rest belong to CC, but I'd be more than happy to baby-sit them for you Chris. . . <eg>

Spoilers: Tunguska/Terma from 4th season (alternate time line after that).

Relationship: Angst. MSR. If you ever catch me writing anything else, you can probably assume that I was possessed by an alien being. <bg>

Summary: Following what Scully believes is the 'end' of her relationship with Mulder, she gets into a dangerous situation, and brings him to her side.

Hi all! Some people have said that the "Writing Machine" never has writer's block, so I decided to set the record straight. This story was written while over a dozen stories still sit, waiting to be finished, but are 'going nowhere'. I hope this will prove to you all that I really *am* only human. (and not a cure for writer's block Lisa) <g> Now, to the show. . .

The slam of the front door reverberated in Dana Scully's ears like thunder. She was still in shock that he'd done it.

He'd left.

Dear God, her mind silently screamed, he's gone. And she didn't know when, or if he was coming back.

Slowly she turned around in the apartment. *Their* apartment she thought sullenly. They had finally decided to forget the risks and went searching for a place for them to be together in. After a few weeks, they'd found what they thought was the perfect place and signed the papers. That had been a year ago.

As it was, it had been nearly two years since they'd fallen for one another. To be exact, it had been one year, six months and three days since they'd looked at one another and decided that they were going to finally act on that spark that they'd always known was there.

So over the last year and a half, they had been lovers, friends and partners. They'd cared and loved and defended one another. They'd been happy and contented. Somehow they'd been able to hide it at work. Had been able to portray the working partnership and nothing else since Mulder had re-appeared from New Mexico, even if things had changed after that.

But now it looked like it wouldn't matter anymore. It looked like it was over. For good.

Slowly Scully wandered over to the couch. His couch, she reminded herself as she sat down. The one that she had insisted he bring to the new apartment. When he had argued about not needing it anymore, now that he had her bed, her in his arms at night, she'd informed him that she wanted him to be in their new home, and that included his

furniture. So the fish tank, the desk, his coat rack and a few other items had come with Fox Mulder and his clothes into the new apartment that he and Scully had picked out on one of their in-town weekends in D.C.

The last year and a half had been a wonderful, passionate, wild ride. She'd been so sure that things would never change. Even if he still ditched her once in a while and they had their disagreements, she knew that he loved her, and she loved him. And she knew that he would always be truthful with her.

That is, she believed that until she had found that he'd lied to her.

It wasn't a big lie. Actually, in the grand scheme of things, it couldn't even really be considered a lie. It was more like a white lie. One made to protect someone from what could have been an awful truth.

To protect her from learning that he thought that he might have been dying.

She hadn't learned about the lie from his lips. It had come from a third party. His doctor had called about some tests that Mulder had asked him to run after his encounter in Russia. She hadn't even known what had happened there. Mulder had glossed over the details, pushing instead to find the people responsible for smuggling the rock carrying the alien toxin into the states.

But once she knew that he'd been concerned over what the "black cancer" might have done to him, yet neglected to say anything to her about it, she had felt hurt, excluded, betrayed.

So tonight she'd confronted him with his dishonesty, and it had gotten heated, thick, and emotionally raw. She'd said some things at the time that were cruel, harsh and unforgiving. He'd said some things that weren't purposefully hurtful, but had cut her to the bone nonetheless.

It still pained her now to think back to the fight. . .

// "God *damn* it Mulder! Why didn't you tell me that you'd been infected? You *could* have contracted that black cancer that we were investigating. You could be dead right now and I wouldn't have any clue as to why!"

"I'm fine Scully! They couldn't find anything abnormal in my physical, and the tests I asked came back clean. So there was nothing for me to tell you. Nothing for me to explain. . ."

"Don't try to placate me with that Mulder. The point is that you didn't trust me enough to tell me. How's that supposed to make me feel? You're my partner, in all things, but you won't tell me what's going on with you!"

"Scully, it wasn't about trust. You know I trust you! I just didn't think that you needed to worry about it. I wasn't going to say anything until I had the facts, and before then, all it would have done was worry you, and you've lost so much already this year, to be faced with this. . ."

"I don't believe you just said that. If it had been me doing this, you would have been pissed. No, more than that, you would have been livid. You would have accused me of lying to you. So how is it okay for you to lie to me, but not for me to lie to you?!?"

"It's not the same. . ."

"How?!? How is it not the same? You lied to me. You didn't tell me. You kept it from me and the only reason I know about any of it is because you weren't here to get your message. And if I hadn't gotten that call, I'd *still* be in the dark!"

"Maybe this is why I didn't tell you, because I was afraid you'd react like this, blow it out of proportion. It's been months since I was in Tunguska, and I didn't say anything when I got back from there because I didn't know. As time went on, I knew that even if I told you, you would still be upset because I took so long to tell you. So I was screwed either way."

"So, even if you were dying, you were just never going to tell me?" //

There had been silence at that pronouncement. He'd shrugged his shoulders while she'd stared at him with flames in her eyes. It had been a tense moment. Then she'd turned her back on him and swore.

Damned him in the most bitter voice she could muster. One that she was sure would hurt him like he'd hurt her.

And in the end, he'd turned on his heel and walked out.

Now, as she sat there, lying on the couch, her knees tucked up to her chest, she let her eyes slip shut and the emotions fully poured over her. After what had been a valiant fight, she ended up crying, her throat catching on silently shed tears that trickled from her eyes.

Snuffling them back after a few minutes, she wiped her hand across her eyes, swiping away the evidence of her still-breaking heart.

God, what she wouldn't do to take back the last two hours, she thought sorrowfully.

Finally she pushed herself up from her place on the couch and headed into the kitchen. She thought that a glass of water would help her relax, and she ended up staring in the refrigerator, unable to reach in and pull out the water pitcher to pour herself any.

Sighing, she turned and looked down the hallway at the bathroom and the bedroom. At the sight of their bedroom, a shudder ran through her, and she felt more tired than she had been moments before.

Maybe a good, long soak in the tub was what she needed, then she might be able to sleep, she thought as she walked down the hall to the bathroom door. Without a second thought, she stripped off her clothes as the hot water ran into the old bathtub that she'd insisted they install in the new apartment. She had found that the soak in a hot tub did wonders for her after a long day of chasing demons and aliens, and wasn't about to give it up. Even in trade for sleeping with Mulder.

Once the tub was full, she slid in, letting the hot water and the bath oils she'd thrown in ease away the tension in her body. As she soaked, she let her mind drift, trying to think of anything other than the fight.

It wasn't long before her eyes started to droop.

Before she could fall asleep in the tub, she pulled the plug and hauled her exhausted body out of the porcelain bathtub and toweled herself off, then padded into the bedroom. There she put on her pajamas and looked at the bed.

They'd brought hers. Not like she really believed that Mulder had *ever* had a bed in his bedroom, but she hadn't pressed the issue of his having one. Her's had served them well enough, so it had come with them in the move. But the fact of the matter was that it had become theirs. She had shared it with him almost every night that they have been together in D.C.

Tiredly, she went to her side of the bed, and pulled back the covers. Under them she found one of Mulder's shirts, stuffed under the edge of his pillow and the bedclothes. She reached across the bed to haul it to her. Putting it to her nose, she inhaled his scent, and felt the emotions threatening to overtake her again.

With a constriction in her chest where her heart was, she laid down on the bed, his shirt still clutched in her hands. Maybe, if she was lucky, sleep would come eventually.

Somehow, she had fallen asleep. The reason she knew this was that she woke up at a noise somewhere in the apartment.

After a few seconds, she had identified the sound that she had heard as that of the front door opening. Pushing herself up, she looked out of the bedroom door, but didn't see any light in the living room.

Mulder, she thought with a twinge of hope. Maybe he'd come back and didn't want to wake her. . .

Then there was a momentary flash of light, a flicker almost, and it aroused her curiosity. Reflexively she threw the covers aside and climbed out of bed, moving towards the door and to the living room.

Gripping the knob, she pulled the door open and went out of the bedroom, headed towards the sound of footsteps.

"Mulder?" she called out quietly as she turned the corner from the hallway.

Just as she turned, she saw in the low light the figure with a flashlight rifling through her desk drawer. He turned at the sound of her voice and she could almost instantly feel his eyes set on her.

Oh my God, Scully thought in a rush, it's a burglar.

Automatically her hand came up to her waist to reach for her gun, which wasn't there. Her fingers ended up brushing along the elastic waistband of her pajamas, and she suddenly realized her vulnerable position. In a split second, she sized up her opponent and prepared herself to take evasive action and use deadly force if necessary to protect herself. All her years in the Bureau had taught her how to take care of herself, but there were always variables. . .

And one of them made an sudden appearance as the man before her pulled a gun and advanced on her.

Backing up instinctively, Scully tried to picture the room around her, remembering where anything close by her could be used as a weapon if this man came anywhere near her. And if he came close enough, she could disarm him and then, hopefully subdue him.

As she backed away, she felt behind her for the table that she knew was along this wall. There was a set of candlesticks there that she'd brought with her from the old apartment. With that in hand, she would at least have a weapon besides her body.

Adrenaline was coursing through her veins. She had to find a way to take the guy out, and fast. As he hand found the brass candlestick, her hand wrapped around the cool metal of it, and she lifted it from the table. Before her, the man seemed confused, and hesitated a moment, as if trying to size her up. Knowing it might be her only chance, Scully immediately took advantage of the situation.

Without a second thought, she lunged forward, swiping at the man's face with the candlestick. He dodged at the last moment, taking a glancing blow at the temple from the metal before staggering backwards. Then he swung out towards her with the hand holding the gun, the butt towards her and catching her jaw.

Scully stumbled back, reeling from the force of the blow. Her feet felt the edge of the carpet as it lead into the kitchen and she flicked on the lights while she squinted, hoping to catch him off-guard and blind him momentarily.

His arm came up to shield his eyes at the bright light, and she leapt forward, putting a foot into his stomach. He fell backward, curses streaming from his lips as she attempted to follow up with another kick. He still had the gun, and she had to get rid of it. As quickly as possible.

Suddenly he caught her foot on the next kick, and she had to yank it free. In the time she spent regrouping, the burglar had scrambled to his feet and reached for her, snagging her arm and pulling her towards him. The arm with the gun still clutched in it snaked around her throat as the other pulled her arm behind her.

As the anger and fear welled up in her, she drove the elbow of her free arm back into the man's stomach. A second such move along with stomping her heel onto the arch of his foot broke the grip. One hand came up to the arm around her throat and pulled it away while she used the newly freed one to pry his fingers from the gun's grip.

They struggled as he realized what she was trying to do, and the gun came loose in a frenzy of hands and scuffling.

The gun went skittering across the floor, and Scully broke from the man's grasp to dive after it. When he'd had his arm around her, she'd quickly figured out that there was no way she could beat his larger frame and superior strength. She needed the gun to tip the odds in her favor.

A hand wrapped around her ankle as her fingers stretched for the weapon, just inches away from her on the linoleum flooring of the kitchen.

Without thinking, a startled scream broke from her lips as she kicked back at the hand holding her. She could feel another hand pawing at her other foot, trying to pull her backwards.

Nonononono. . .

"Bitch! You're going to pay for that!" he yelled harshly, his tone enraged.

His words and the anger coloring them chilled her to the bone. Her mind was in a panic. She couldn't get any leverage on the slick floor, and even with the couple of times she had hit this guy, he'd barely slowed down.

The odds were quickly turning against her. Dangerously so. From the anger in the man's voice, she was certain he wouldn't have any compunction in killing her any longer. She'd felt him holding back, but now he was furious enough to possibly pull the trigger. At this point, she could only hope that he wouldn't kill her, but she had no illusions that he wouldn't shoot her.

"NO!!" she screamed as his hand caught her upper thigh and all but yanked her to him.

With every last ounce of struggle she had left in her, she twisted in her captor's grip and was facing upwards, her hand striking forward and catching the man in his face.

"Bitch!" growled the man.

The next thing she knew, Scully felt his fist slam into the side of her face. Her vision swam and her head pounded.

Mulder! she mentally thought as the man's hands came down around her throat and began to squeeze. Her vision was beginning to gray as she continued to claw at him, her fingers reaching for his eyes. . .

Then she heard a voice that sounded like an angel choir.

"Scully!!"

Mulder, she realized foggily as his hands quickly clamped around the man's arms. She felt the weight being lifted away from her as Mulder hauled her attacker off of her body and threw him across the room, his strength augmented by his fury.

And with a little piece of her brain still functioning, she acknowledged the fact that even though she'd thought he was gone forever, Mulder had come back.

Struggling to get her vision back, she could hear Mulder driving his fists into the man who had attacked her. Gingerly she shoved herself to her feet and made her way to his side.

"Mulder. Stop!" she croaked out, her throat aching as she put her hand on his arm, staying his hand.

She looked down at the now unconscious man lying in a heap on the floor. He was out of commission for the moment, but she was going to make sure he stayed that way. With shaking hands, she felt along Mulder's back for his handcuffs and pulled them out. Pressing them into his hands, she stepped away, slowly making her way to the phone to call the authorities.

It was a brief call, and once she hung up, there was nothing left to do but wait for the police to arrive. Mulder had made sure their "guest" was secured, cuffing him to a chair and making sure that the gun he'd been toting was well out of reach. With that, he turned to find Scully sitting on the couch, her head thrown back and her body limp.

"Scully?"

Hurriedly he went to her side and pulled her face up to meet his gaze. He looked her over carefully, noting the bruising appearing around her throat and across her cheek.

Through the process of checking her over, she never once met his gaze, and that bothered him the most. She was shaken, possibly in shock. But most of all, her spirit and mind had been hurt more than her body had.

A shudder ran through him as he realized just what could have happened. It had been a close thing. How could he have known that in the fit of anger that when he'd closed the door six hours earlier that he had unintentionally almost signed Scully's death warrant. If he hadn't come back. . .

He shook his head, unwilling to follow that line of thought anymore.

The point was that she was fine, and that he was back where he belonged. With her. And now he just had to apologize for fighting with and hurting her with his words and intentions.

There was a loud, hurried knock on the door to the apartment, and Scully pulled away from Mulder's touch to answer it. The next minute, the apartment was deluged with police officers, emergency personnel, and even a representative from the FBI.

One officer moved towards Mulder as another sat with Scully. This was it, he realized. Time to tell what happened.

He listened as Scully told her story; how she'd thought that the noise was Mulder, coming back after their fight. Then she went on to tell how she'd fought with the man, who had to be almost twice her size, and had been doing well until she'd been caught on the kitchen floor. It was then that she'd been overpowered, and Mulder had arrived.

He sighed as he figured out how important his return had truly been.

Then the officer in front of him prompted him to explain what had happened, and he began to relay the events as he knew them. He told the man that as he'd stood at the door, contemplating what he was going to say to Scully, he'd heard her scream. No one had heard him throw open the door, and he had followed the sound of the fight and entered the kitchen to find Scully being strangled by the man that two of the officers were just now dragging out the door of the apartment.

The officer asked to see his badge, and Mulder reached for it, fishing it out of his back pants pocket and showing it to the officer before him.

Meanwhile, Mulder's eyes drifted past the man to settle on Scully, being attended by the paramedics. They noted a few scratches that he hadn't but nothing else.

Finally, everything was settled, and the police and paramedics all left, leaving Mulder with Scully for the first time since they had arrived.

Tentatively he made his way to her side, where she sat on the couch. Easing down beside her, he wrapped an arm around her shoulders. She stiffened for a moment, and he was worried that she was still upset with him.

God Scully, please don't pull away from me now, Mulder thought to himself.

Then she took in a deep, shuddering breath and turned into his chest, her arms burrowing around his waist. At the feel of her against him, he swiftly wrapped his arms around her, pulling her tightly to him. He could feel the hitching of her breathing, and the wetness from her released tears staining his shirt.

"Oh God. . ." she mumbled into his chest, and he could feel it more than hear it.

The sound, the feel of her breath broke his carefully constructed control, and he couldn't stop the tears from falling as he held her tightly in his arms, letting the events of the night wash through him, through them both in an outpouring of emotion.

"It's ok Scully. You're safe. I'm here. Everything's alright," Mulder said softly, his hands caressing her in an attempt to soothe her.

But at his words, the spell she was under was broken, and she began to pull away, bringing her walls up. The sight of it hurt Mulder more than the sight of her being choked had. He stubbornly refused to let her go, even as she strained against his grasp.

"Please, Dana," he whispered, his voice cracking, "*don't*."

The use of her first name drew her up short. Unthinking, her eyes snapped up to meet his, and found rivers of tears coursing down his cheeks. The sight of him crying before her broke through to her, and she reached for his face. His hand caught hers before she came in contact with him, and she felt the impassioned strength of his hand wrap around hers.

"I. . ." she began, struggling to find the words.

His head dropped as she began to speak. He could see so much of the residual pain and fear in his eyes that it felt like he'd been there with her. And the truth was that he should have been there. If he hadn't lied about the cancer, hadn't fought with her, then he would have been home when this had happened, and neither of them would be suffering like they were now. That he'd almost failed her like he had done so many times before. . .

"I'm *sorry* Dana," he wept, his voice barely audible. "I should have been here. I shouldn't have fought with you. I should have *told* you the truth when I got back to the states all those months ago. I'm *so* sorry."

She couldn't think of what to say. It was more than just the attack. The fight before that had led him out of the apartment and left her behind. It was an apology for every time he'd lied and left her since they'd known one another.

One that she was more than happy to take for what it meant. For her and for them.

"It's ok Mulder," she said as she moved into his embrace again, holding him as tightly and lovingly as he held her. "You were here this time. You were here for me in every way that mattered."

He nodded his head where it settled against the side of her face, and they both realized that the fight was over. And now the healing, the living could start once again.

-End-

Well, I hope you liked this, and if so, please feel free to drop me a line. <g> J.

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