|Primary Characters:||Mulder, Scully|
|Warning:||References to sexual abuse of minor.|
|Description:||Mulder has some terrifying nightmares. What can be causing them? Scully decides to find out.|
Scully was falling asleep. Her drowsy smile hinted at how happy she was to have Mulder right where she had always wanted him. Her lover was already asleep.
She could still remember how it had felt the first time they’d kissed for real, not just as old friends on the night of the millennium. It was right before he had told her about his sexual encounter with their boss, Skinner. The feeling of shock had chilled her, and it was all the worse since Mulder had just stunned her with his declaration of love for her.
It was like reaching the heights of ecstasy, or hitting the highest peak on a rollercoaster, only to fall, fall, fall again. You couldn’t keep up. Part of you was still up there, while the rest of you hit rock bottom. Hard. Painfully.
But they had been able to work that out, and now she could almost feel gratitude towards her boss for pushing Mulder right into her arms. He hadn’t meant it that way, but that was what had happened.
Only three days ago, they had stumbled on Skinner’s other secret. Not only was their big macho boss gay, but he had actually let himself get intangled in a multifaceted and very complicated relationship with Krycek.
At first she and Mulder had stared helplessly at each other incapable of any further thought. Then their minds had begun to work. Not in the same directions, but then they rarely did. Still, somehow they always ended up with a solution.
Together they had come to the decision that they would confront Skinner with their knowledge. They had had to find a place as little likely to be bugged as possible, but in the end they had. It had been all too obvious how shamed their boss had been by their discovery. He had to be made to understand that they were not judging him for his preferences. All they needed was some reassurance that this wouldn’t put their own lives and their work in danger.
“I think we got on first name basis some time ago, didn’t we, Mulder?”
The unconscious irony of that statement would have made Scully and Mulder smile, but they didn’t want to offend Skinner any more than they already had. Secure in the knowledge of their new relationship, Mulder just moved a little closer to Scully and shrugged lightly.
So he wasn’t going to make this easier for them. Scully thought she would have a go. Partly because she felt she was going to handle the situation better than her lover, and partly to reassure Skinner that there were no hard feelings on her part for the drunken pass he had made at something that belonged to her.
There weren’t any. Almost. Of course she was prepared for the possibility that Skinner was still resentful towards her, for getting what he wanted. But that was a chance she had to take.
So she said his name again, and this time not giving him any chance to interrupt. She wouldn’t be intimidated by this man. He wasn’t Mulder’s father, and he certainly wasn’t hers.
“Walter. You know what we need to discuss with you.”
Another close look at the impassive face, to gauge his feelings. And the way he looked back told her that he wasn’t resentful at all. Just resigned to the fact. She knew him well enough to be able to read him. That impassive face spoke volumes to those who knew him, and yes, cared about him.
“Alright. I do. But you don’t understand. This isn’t professional. We – Alex and I – have an understanding that we will never discuss anything related to the X-files.”
Now Mulder broke in, even more incensed by that admission. His friend, his boss, his father figure, was now sleeping with the man who had killed his father and Scully’s sister. The man who was responsible for Scully’s abduction. And Skinner was standing here telling them that nothing was wrong.
“And have you forgotten about that implant thing? Whenever he wants information, he can just press a button and get it anyway.”
“No. I haven’t forgotten. But you seem to forget that I don’t involve myself with the X files anymore. So what’s changed?”
You have betrayed us. Me.
That’s what Mulder wanted to say. He found himself experiencing the most intense feeling of hatred towards his boss. Words failed him, and his eyes pleaded with his lover to help him. That was almost a first. In all the years they had been working together, he had kept trying to be her older brother, trying to take charge in everything.
And it had never gotten him anywhere, except close to losing her. Since they had become lovers in the flesh, not merely inside their minds, he had learned to let go control to her. It was a new and daring experience to him. But he enjoyed it. Like riding a car without a safety belt. He could see that she was taking over, and he relaxed.
“Walter, what Mulder is trying to remind you of is what that man is guilty of. I’ll grant you he’s one of the most attractive men I’ve ever laid eyes on. But can you really turn your back on the facts? What we all know he’s responsible for?”
Another first. Skinner looked absolutely crushed. She could see him almost literally staggering under her reproachful stare. And she saw him cast one very regretful look in the direction of Mulder, but she didn’t even need to look at her lover to know that he wasn’t returning the gaze.
And when Skinner started talking again, there was for the first time the hint of emotion in his voice. More than a hint of it, in fact. He was actually eager to explain himself, to get absolution for his betrayal of them. Scully found to her surprise that she pitied her boss, more than anything. So alone, so conflicted. And now, maybe for the first time, he had a lover. Just his luck that the lover would be someone like Krycek.
He used her name, but she could tell he was addressing both of them.
“I wish I could explain. He’s not- I mean he’s not always that way. There is another side to him. I can’t tell you about it. It would mean betraying him.”
Scully knew how that made Mulder feel. She didn’t feel it as intensely herself, but she too was almost gasping at that. He could bear to betray her and Mulder but not Krycek. But the look on Walter’s face seemed to tell her more than his short disjointed statement. She could feel herself softening though it made her angry. Mulder would have to learn to stand on his own feet. He was old enough not to need his father, any of his fathers, anymore.
“You really love him that much?”
His answer was clearly written all over his face. Again she felt that stirring of pity. And part of her wanted Mulder to hear this. She knew she was only being silly. Of course Mulder didn’t feel anything more for Skinner than she did. But she still felt it was a good idea for Mulder to know that Skinner was getting over him. Even if it was with Krycek.
After getting more reassurances from Skinner, that she believed, but she immediately realized that Mulder didn’t, they all left. She and Mulder together, Skinner alone. That was how it must have been for most of his life. Despite everything, Scully was glad that he had finally found someone.
She had thought that time would make Mulder realize he was acting like a child about this new betrayal on Skinner’s part, but she was wrong. For almost a week now, she had had to stand by watching Mulder sulking. In the end she confronted him about his behavior. This couldn’t be allowed to go on.
“Mulder. What’s going on? Why are you behaving like this? I don’t like this new development any more than you do. But try to grow up, will you? Skinner was right about one thing. Ever since we learned about that implant, we have stopped sharing information with him. So what’s the harm?”
“Krycek murdered your sister. You being abducted was his fault. Isn’t that enough? As far as I know, he’s working for the people who abducted Samantha. Need I go on?”
“And that’s all there is to it? “
“What else would there be?”
“You’re not – jealous?”
“Jealous of whom?”
“Yes, that is a good question. Skinner or Krycek?”
“What are you implying?”
“You tell me.”
This sparring wasn’t getting them anywhere, and she was irritated with herself for letting herself be sucked into his own personal little sulkathon. Mulder could be such a child at times.
Scully was tired. The last few days had been really difficult and now finally they should have been able to relax together. But Mulder just had to be awkward about it. All she wanted was to get into bed and simply sleep next to him, until they awoke refreshed the next morning.
“Are you still thinking about that thing that happened between me and Skinner? I swear I didn’t want that. I never did. Don’t you believe me?”
She sighed. The headache that had only been the merest touch at her nerve endings, was now growing steadily.
“Yes, I believe you. But I still don’t know why you are this worked up about it. What do you suggest we do?”
But now he was finally seeing what a fool he was making of himself and the unnecessary trouble he was causing. And he was giving her the smile that never failed to move her. Before she realized what she was doing, her own lips curved in a slight smile too.
“You have a headache, don’t you?”
“And it’s my fault, isn’t it?”
“No. Don’t worry about it. Let’s just sleep, ok? We’ll worry about Skinner and Krycek in the morning. But I think Walter loves him. Don’t you think he deserves that? Even if he could have chosen a better partner.”
“He did. But I wasn’t interested.”
Was he starting again? No, he was actually joking about it. That was a good sign, at least she hoped so. His tone of voice didn’t give anything away. So she just started taking her clothes off. As she sat down on the bed, she was startled to find that Mulder was getting behind her, putting his hands on her shoulders.
What was this? Make-up sex? No, all he was doing was giving her a massage. So he wanted to help her with the headache. She could definitely live with that, and she leaned into his surprisingly strong hands. It wasn’t long before her mind was on something completely different than her headache and Skinner’s new lover.
But afterwards she began to recall that Mulder had seemed different. Not the same he always was. They hadn’t been lovers for very long, but still, there was definitely something new and changed about him. Not in a bad way, perhaps, but it was strange anyway. Long after he had fallen asleep next to her, or at least it sounded as if he had, she lay awake pondering this new mystery.
She couldn’t quite put her finger on what it was that had changed. No matter how she twisted and turned the problem over in her mind, falling back on her scientific method to tackle the riddle, it was no good. When she finally fell asleep she thought she had a sudden insight, but she was too tired to focus and in that moment between awake and asleep, it was lost.
She didn’t think she had slept more than 20 minutes when she was awakened by her lover screaming. Before being quite awake she reached for the gun that she kept in the drawer next to her bed. But she let it go, when she realized that no one was with them in the apartment. So it was only a nightmare.
Mulder had told her about some of his dreams, perhaps hoping she would be able to interpret them, where he, the psychologist had failed. She hadn’t been able to, and in the time they had been together, she had never heard or noticed anything this violent.
She turned to him and put a hand on his shoulder to wake him. The violence of his reaction stunned her. He didn’t try to hit her, but instead he almost fell off the bed on the other side, trying to get away from her. His reaction frightened her. She suspected that he had had a few dreams like this right after being abducted by that serial killer, when he thought he had been raped, but that was months ago by now.
And she had really believed he was over it long since. He had told her so, anyway. Now what could be happening to him? She tried to reach him with her hands again, but he still pulled back from her, and there didn’t seem to be any recognition in his eyes. If her touch couldn’t get to him, maybe her voice could?
“Mulder, it’s me. Dana. What’s wrong? There’s no one here. Just you and me. Please, calm down before you hurt yourself.”
She kept on talking to him, softly, gently, but it was a very long time before she could see his eyes return to normal and even longer before she was finally allowed to hold him. He didn’t cry, but she could feel how tense he was. He refused to tell her anything about the dream, but she thought she could detect something in his eyes, that told her he knew something that he wouldn’t share with her. What was this? When they had become lovers he had sworn never to keep anything from her. Nothing small, nothing big. Nothing.
But whatever he had promised, now there was this new secret. It wasn’t going to be easy to pry it out of him, but she knew she had to try. She loved him. And you didn’t let someone you loved suffer like this, without trying to help him. For now, the only help he would accept was being held.
He seemed reluctant to close his eyes. Nothing she said could make him change his mind about that. But in the end nature took its course, and he slumped down against her. From his slow and steady breathing she could tell he was finally asleep.
Not until then did she dare to let go of him, gently, so as not to wake him again. But he was too exhausted to stir again that night. She on the other hand had a much harder time of it. Her thoughts from earlier that night returned and again she tried to look at the problem from every angle. Somehow she should be able to figure it out.
In all their years together they had been through some hard times, worse than many people do in a lifetime, but she had never seen him this distraught before. Not even when he thought he had been raped. Perhaps when his mother had killed herself, but that was something completely different. What could it be that was even worse than both those incidents? Finally she couldn’t hold off sleep any longer and she must have dozed off.
The alarm had been ringing for a long time, she sensed. Instinctively she looked at the display. At least she wasn’t going to be late, if only she got up now. Then she turned over to look at Mulder. Last night she had had some idea that she should let him sleep today, and let work wait for just a day. But the bed was empty.
For a second she experienced something close to panic. What if anything had happened to him? Then she heard the shower running. Up already after such a night? She shook her head to clear it.
Then she hurried out of bed. The door to the bathroom was locked. Again, a new Mulder. They never locked the door. She thought about knocking but knew he wouldn’t be able to hear her through the sound of the running water. So she began getting out her clothes for the day.
It wasn’t long before he came out of the bathroom, showered and shaved. And, also a first, fully dressed. They would always run back and forth in the mornings, like kids getting ready for school. Going back one last time for a forgotten shoe, or in her case, for the mascara or something else.
Now he was just ready, and seemed about to leave for work without waiting for her. Without breakfast. They didn’t always have time for that, but when they could they liked to try. Now she thought he was going to leave without saying goodbye, or anything else.
“Mulder? What are you doing?”
“Getting ready for work. You’d better hurry. I’ll go on without you. Take your own car.”
“Wait. What’s the rush?”
“I just don’t want to be late.”
But her concern was filtering through to him, and he stopped with one hand on the doorhandle, and turned back to give her a peck on the cheek.
“See you at work. I’ll get you a cup of coffee.”
She could almost see herself opening and closing her mouth in astonishment. Where did this new Mulder come from? This stranger who had slept in her bed, just like he had for nearly two months?
For the first time in over a year, she was thinking about making an appointment with her psychiatrist. But it wouldn’t be a good idea. If she was in therapy it would reflect on her work. She just couldn’t run for help like a kid. This was something she should be able to work out herself.
But if Mulder who had a degree in psychology couldn’t help himself with this new and frightening turn of events, how could she? Her training wasn’t any more suited for this. But she loved him, so she couldn’t let herself give up. For the time being she just had to follow his advice and get herself to work on time.
When they got back home that night, she was still unable to get any word out of him. Even when she tried confronting him about his uncharacteristic behavior, he just deflected her questions. He didn’t react with anger at her prying, just found ways to avoid answering.
His evasiveness puzzled her. What could she do for him? If only there were someone she could turn to for help. But she couldn’t think of anyone she might confide in. Not without leaving them exposed to risks that were completely unacceptable. No, she was on her own in this.
But she wouldn’t give up. When the time came for them to go to bed, she half feared he would make up some excuse to avoid sleeping with her. But he just lay down next to her, and seemed to fall asleep, but something about the way his breathing sounded told her that he was only pretending. That was it. If he wasn’t going to sleep neither would she.
Hours later she was rapidly getting fed up with lying there beside him, watching him stay awake. Finally her temper was beginning to get the better of her. She was tired, and worried and, she now realized, angry. This couldn’t be allowed to get in the way of their relationship. But confronting him tonight wouldn’t accomplish anything so she just decided to allow herself to go to sleep. He could lie awake on his own, he didn’t need her for that.
But like last night, she had only just fallen asleep when she heard that scream again. What could he be seeing inside his mind, to scream like that? She found anything that traumatic hard to imagine. Again, she warily tried to wake him, and this time too, he was frantic with fear. Who was it that he feared so much? Obviously not her. So who was it?
This time it was even longer before she reached him and for just a second he was raising his hands as if to ward off a blow. She winced at the pain in his eyes. It tore at her heart to see him like this.
“Mulder, please. Calm down. Nothing’s going to hurt you here.”
And when he still didn’t know her and tried to get away from her:
“It’s me. Dana. There’s nothing to be afraid of.”
Finally, he came back to her. Slowly she could see his eyes focusing again. This couldn’t be allowed to go on. She would have to find a way of getting to the bottom of this problem somehow, and soon. He couldn’t take much more of this emotional distress.
This night too, she had to sit there holding him, not touching him too much, because he was still shying away from her hands. All this was unpleasantly hinting at something far more alarming than she had suspected.
When morning came, she still hadn’t had any sleep, but he had finally relaxed and nodded off to sleep some time before dawn. Determined to finally regain the initiative, she was ready for him when he woke up in time for work.
He was about to sneak off again, but she confronted him, standing in his way. She could tell that he was trying to pretend nothing had happened but she wasn’t going to take it this time. Not when she knew how serious the problem was.
“Scully? What’s up? Can’t it wait, whatever it is, or we’ll be late.”
“No, it can’t wait. And you know exactly what I’m talking about.”
“I had a nightmare, so what? Haven’t you ever had any?”
“Yes. You know I did. Many times. But not like this. I’ve never seen anything like it. We have to discuss this. Now.”
“What if I don’t want to?”
“So you know what this is all about?”
“If I ignore it will just go away again.”
“Don’t. You don’t know what you’re asking. This is a can of worms, and I want you – us – to stay away from it.”
“I can’t, Mulder. If the situation were reversed would you leave me like this without trying to help?”
He didn’t answer her, but she thought she could detect something in his eyes that was just as informative as words. She took his hand and was about to get him to sit down on the bed. He flinched away from her touch, then checked himself and forced himself to accept her hand on his.
It wasn’t fooling her, but as long as he didn’t try to get away, she would leave it at that for the time being. Her gaze seemed to unnerve him further. His eyes kept trying to avoid hers. But she was in control now, and she wouldn’t let him off that easily.
“Ok. I’m waiting. You know me well enough by now, I hope, not to expect me to give up. We can stay here all day if necessary. I’ll call work and tell them we will be reviewing pending cases at home today. So you might as well start talking now.”
“Believe me, Dana, you don’t want to know.”
“Yes, I do.”
“Just trust me on this one. It wouldn’t change a thing.”
“Let me be the judge of that, ok?”
From the stubborn set of his jaw she realized that they might very well be here all day, and maybe the next too. What could it be that he was trying so hard to keep from her? But she refused to believe that there wouldn’t be anything she could do about it, once she knew.
“Mulder, please. Why won’t you trust me?”
“It’s nothing to do with trust. I simply don’t want to think about it, and I definitely don’t want you to know.”
“Is this how important our relationship is to you? You get to pick and choose what you tell me? Maybe this was a mistake. If we waited this long, it could be that we were wiser than we knew.”
She hated herself for blackmailing him like this, but it really was for his own good. No matter how painful it might be at first. And it seemed that finally her words were getting to him. She could see him hesitating and then she knew she had won. He was losing his resolve.
“What if there was something I hadn’t been able to tell you? Something I really didn’t want to remember?”
“Something about Samantha?”
“No. Something about me.”
“Ok. Go on.”
But he didn’t want to go on. That much was painfully obvious. He was so agitated that for a second Scully even doubted her decision to force the issue.
“Try. You know you can tell me anything.”
The look he gave her was shrewd, despite the distress still visible.
“I know. It’s just me I’m worried about. I don’t want to face it. But you’re right. I can’t go on like this. This time it’s worse than ever before.”
“So this isn’t the first time?”
“No. It’s been coming and going ever since – since I was 14. When it happened. When it started.”
“No. After that. When my parents were divorced. Mom got custody, but I went to see dad for weekends and vacations. I would go to dad’s new house and I was always looking forward to going. Even though I knew what was going to happen. It always did.”
Suddenly Scully had a suspicion where this was leading. Of course, how could she have been this blind? It was so obvious when you knew. The symptoms were just staring her in the face. But this was no patient, it was the man she loved.
She could hardly breathe as he kept on telling her about what he didn’t want to remember, and had almost succeeded in repressing. In fact, she found herself wishing he would say anything but what she knew was coming. But she had to be strong. This wasn’t her trauma and she had to consider his needs before her own.
“I couldn’t understand what I had done wrong. He said it was my fault, but I never understood what it was I did to deserve it.”
“You didn’t do anything wrong.”
“I might be able to tell myself that, but it’s quite another thing to truly believe it. He would come into my room each night and he wouldn’t leave until he had what he came for. Even if I’d fallen asleep, sooner or later he would show up, standing in the doorway, and then when he had my attention, he would approach the bed. Do you understand what I’m saying, Dana?”
“Yes, I think so.”
“He was my dad and I would have done anything to make him notice me, to make him love me. Anything, but this. And still I let him. I never did anything to stop him, never asked my mom not to send me to him. Partly because I didn’t want her to know, and partly – and you won’t understand this, I don’t understand this – I had to come. Somehow each time I thought it would end differently. If I could just think of the right thing to do, or say, he wouldn’t. He would be the dad I wanted him to be.”
“I do understand. He was your father. Of course you wanted him to love you. Every kid does. I did. And I was never sure mine did, until it was too late. Why didn’t you tell me this sooner?”
“I guess I didn’t want it to be true. If I didn’t tell anyone, it would be as if it never happened. There were times when I could almost forget it. Almost.”
“I think I understand that business with you and Skinner now. It would make me hate him, if I didn’t know he couldn’t possibly have guessed how things were.”
“You think that’s why I did something like that?”
“Come on. I know it’s hard to apply your own knowledge to yourself. Like when I had cancer. I knew the symptoms, but I tried to deny the truth to myself as long as I could. But you must have studied exactly this sort of thing.”
“Yes. Classic symptoms of denial. Common in rape victims and the victims of child abuse. I know. But I didn’t want to be anything like that myself.”
“Of course you didn’t. Who would? But don’t you think it’s better to know than to try and hide the truth from yourself? You see this ‘ignore it and it will go away’-tactic wasn’t going to work in the long run.”
“You’re right, of course. I suppose I’m relieved that it’s all out in the open now.”
“Did your mother ever suspect?”
“No. She couldn’t have. I know that if she’d had even the vaguest of suspicions of anything like that, she would have refused him access to me. They were not on good terms after Samantha disappeared. She did suspect he had something to do with that. All I would have had to do was ask her not to let me go. She was only allowing me to go and see him because she thought that’s what I wanted. And I did. Part of me anyway.”
“Yes. From what I’ve seen of your mother, I can believe that.”
“She would have felt guilty for not understanding something was wrong and not getting me away from him. And I know she would have been miserable knowing about it. I’m glad she never did find out.”
“Well, I don’t know how I would feel, if I were a mother – But I think she would have wanted to know. Melissa once saw a flasher. She told me about it, but she was scared to tell mom and dad. But then finally she gathered up the courage to speak to mom about it, and it was ok. Mom asked us all, the boys too, never to keep anything like that from them. They would understand and never blame us if anything happened. Do you think your mother would have been any different?”
“No, but can you imagine what it would have felt like to tell her something like this? It’s just not some stranger in the street. This is my father we’re talking about.”
“All the more reason. You did tell her about that serial killer who abducted you, didn’t you?”
“And I would never have told her about the incident with Skinner either.”
“In comparison I don’t think it’s all that important either.”
“Maybe not. Now, do you think we should go to work, or should we just forget about it today?”
“That depends on what you would like. It might be the right time to take it easy for a while. You know that we don’t have anything new or major that really needs our attention right now.”
“Ok. You win.”
“How are you feeling now?”
“Not so good, but I’m getting better. Thanks. I suppose you were right to insist. The world didn’t come to and end this time either. Not at New Year’s and not now. I even think that if he had still been alive, I would eventually have tried to confront him about it. Not that I think it would have done much good. He was never very big on telling the truth. I wonder if he had some ulterior motive for chosing to keep me instead of Samantha?”
“That could very well be true. But speculating about it won’t help.”
“No, I suppose not. And if Samantha had been left alone, who’s to say what he would have done to her?”
“You might be right. But like I said, speculating is no use, is it?”
“I guess not.”
Despite everything, it seemed that it had been a relief to exorcise this memory. Who knew what could have happened over the years if he had gone on denying the truth about his past? From what she could see, Mulder had been heading straight for a major breakdown, but now he seemed less troubled already.
Scully remembered a Bible quotation that had been hammered into her in Catechism. ‘The truth shall set you free’. In this case, at least, that appeared to be valid. All her life she had lived that simple statement, and it had helped her in her work. Sometimes too, like this time, it had been very useful in her personal life. She was hoping Mulder would feel that way too.
From time to time, Scully sneaked a glance at her lover and it might have been her imagination, but he seemed far better already. Almost like he had been only a week ago. Only this time she was hoping there would be no relapses.
Suddenly it struck her why he had reacted so strongly to Skinner’s and Krycek’s relationship. Both were so closely connected with his father. In Mulder’s mind they must both be associated with his father’s betrayal. Hopefully now he would lose his obsession with Skinner as a father figure and be able to see him again as an ordinary man, with is secrets and problems, but still, just a friend, and a colleague.
There was no need to keep punishing himself for what had happened to him as a child. But Scully herself had a very different interpretation of what might have caused Samantha’s abduction. There was no need to distress Mulder by telling him about her theory, so she intended to keep it to herself.
Still, now that she knew about what William Mulder had done to his son, she thought she could see a reason for the girl’s disappearance. Somehow, it had to be connected with Mulder’s traumatic memories. All of which could account for his amnesia, and subsequent obsession with aliens. It really was a classic textbook case if you thought about it.
But for now she would waste no more time dwelling on the past. Mulder needed her to get him through this and she would.
Later, in bed that night, she could see for herself how improved his condition was. He no longer shunned her touch, and he slept calmly and quietly all night. The relief she felt was enormous. Just as she had thought, the truth had helped him. The truth really was out there, or in this case, inside. All you had to do was dare to face it, and it would lose its power to hurt you. She didn’t think those memories would come back haunting him ever again.
That was all she needed to know as she too dozed off next to this man she loved so much. The sound of his breathing reassured her, and she drifted off into sleep. Next morning they would wake up together, and the morning after that. If she had any say in it, they would keep doing that for the rest of their lives. And if she had any dreams that night, she didn’t remember them in the morning.