Opportunity or Fate - 4/?
He’d waited as long as he could. He grabbed up the receiver and dialed the number. Maggie answered. “Hello?”
“Mrs. S- Maggie, it’s Mulder. I just wanted to check in.”
“I’m so glad you did. She had a rough night; the nightmare.”
“She had it again?”
“Twice, but she finally fell into a good sleep around 4:30.”
“I hope I didn’t wake her.”
“No, there’s no phone in her room.”
“Would you mind if I dropped by at lunch?”
“I think she would really appreciate that; I know I would.”
Mulder felt himself smiling at that. “Thank you. I’ll see you then.”
Maggie opened the door this time and greeted him warmly.
“Did she get some sleep?”
“Yes. She’s awake now, getting dressed. I was just headed up to help her with the stairs.”
She looked at him for moment. “Yes, thank you.”
He smiled and moved toward the steps. At the door to her room he hesitated, then knocked.
“I’m dressed, Mom, come on in.”
He opened the door and peeked in. “It’s me.”
“Mulder? I, I wasn’t expecting you.”
“I called a little while ago. I wanted to see how the rest of the night went.”
She shrugged, “It went.”
“It’s not your fault.”
“I told you not to take the pills,” he reminded her.
“But I don’t have to listen to you,” she smiled.
“True, you only have to listen to yourself,” he said quietly.
She turned away then, not able to face him. They were silent for a moment, then she felt his hand on her arm. “May I help you downstairs?”
“Thank you.” She wouldn’t face him, but allowed him to take her arm. They walked slowly down the stairs where Maggie joined them.
“Good, lunch is ready,” she said turning back toward the dining room.
“Oh, Maggie, I didn’t mean for you - “
“Shh, she’s loving this,” Dana said quietly. “To go from four kids and friends to just she and Dad has been an adjustment.” She smiled up at him and he was so grateful to see that smile again, he shut up and followed Maggie into the kitchen.
She had soup and sandwiches waiting on a smaller table in a nook of the kitchen. He held Dana’s chair, then Maggie’s before taking a seat himself. After eating for a few minutes, Mulder looked over at Dana. “May I ask a question?”
She looked a little wary, but nodded.
“Where were you when you were taken? You said he found you in Nevada.”
She swallowed but faced him. “Actually I was in Virginia. I was with a friend, at his apartment having dinner. I suppose he witnessed what happened, but when the people from his department finally came to check when he didn't show up at work, he was unconscious and they didn’t even know I had been there.”
“Greg Evans. He worked with me at the hospital. He was an anthesiologist.”
Maggie spoke then. “Greg was killed by a hit and run driver a few weeks later.”
“That’s terrible. Did they find the driver?”
Maggie shook her head. “We didn’t even know about this when we started trying to get some help in looking for Dana. Since she didn’t live here, and is over 21, no one was very interested. Greg was unconscious for several days. It wasn’t until he woke up that we got any details and they were sketchy.”
"He woke up?"
"Yes, we spoke to him, but then there was a complication, a blood clot or something. They wouldn’t talk to us."
Mulder nodded. “Taken from Virginia - "
"Yes, Greg had bought a condo and to celebrate I was his first guest."
“You were close to him,” Mulder remarked a little surprised to find himself more bothered about this guy than her husband.
“I thought we could be,” Dana admitted.
“But Paul found you in Nevada.”
“That’s what he told me. I have no memories of any of that. I have no memories at all of that time, except maybe in the nightmares.” She shuddered and he touched her hand. She looked up and gave him a feeble smile.
“Sorry, let’s change the subject.”
They talked of other things then, different parts of the country they had been stationed with Captain Scully, and his time in England.
Regretfully he checked his watch. “I’ve got to get back to work, if I can still walk.”
“You barely ate anything. A few more meals and I could put some meat on your bones,” Maggie protested.
“Not compared to my normal routine.” He rose from the table and helped Dana to her feet as well. “Do you know when you’ll be leaving?”
“The doctor hasn’t said,” Dana replied not looking at him or her mother.
“We’re in no hurry,” Maggie said.
After work, he headed over to the guys’ place to see what they had unearthed.
Byers let him in, and motioned for him to join them around the computer. Langly looked up. “This dude is no investment banker. This guy, right?” he turned the monitor so that Mulder could see the face. It was definitely Paul.
“Well, that’s interesting. What is he?”
“Research scientist. He probably can talk money, if he’s used to applying for grants and things - “
“I don’t think Rouche needs to apply,” Frohike interrupted.
“What do you mean?” Mulder turned to him.
“They have tons of government contracts, but they’re not getting them through the front door. I’m not finding audits of the place either, which is mandatory if you’re using government funds, at least if you’re using them legally.
“We may yell government conspiracy more than you, but this is blatant,” Frohike finished, looking up at Mulder.
“How are they getting the funds?”
“Black ops, Paperclip, Bluebook.”
“Paperclip? Blue . . . that’s UFO studies,” Mulder protested.
The three men nodded at him in unison.
Mulder was quiet for a long moment. “The pills?”
Byers sighed deeply then. “Mulder, she needs to get off of them. I don’t know her diagnosis but . . . “
“What?” his voice was urgent now.
“It’s a compounded substance. Part diazepam, that's Valium. Part alprazolam, that's Xanax, which I wouldn’t mix, but there’s stuff in there . . . Mulder, I couldn’t identify some of it.”
“What do you mean?
“I mean it was unidentifiable. I can send it off to some of our friends, but - “
“No. No, let’s keep this between us. You say it was compounded?”
“Yeah, like by a research pharmacist.”
Byers and Mulder exchanged glances. “Were you able to check about his trip to Nevada?”
“He was there around that time. He went alone, and as far as we can tell, he returned alone. He didn’t buy an additional ticket.”
“So there’s no way to know for certain that he brought her from there. That could be another lie he’s using to keep her off balance.”
Langly shrugged. “We can keep looking.”
“Yeah, I’d appreciate - “ He stopped when his cell phone rang. “Mulder.”
“I’m sorry to bother you - “
“William? What’s wrong?”
“She’s trapped in a nightmare. We can’t wake her. You seem to understand more about what’s going on. Should we call 911?”
“No. I can be there in twenty minutes.”
“I’m glad you called me. I’m on my way.” He broke the connection and looked over at Byers. “I have to go.”
“We’ll keep looking.”
He squealed to a stop in front of the house and vaulted from the car. William opened the door as soon as he knocked. “Thank you for coming.” Mulder could hear her, not screaming, but crying out and frightened.
He didn't hesitate, taking the stairs two at the time. Maggie looked up and quickly moved away when he entered the bedroom. Mulder took her into his arms and began talking to her, a low crooning that neither William nor Maggie could quite hear.
It took a few minutes, then her hand came up and pressed against his chest. Her breathing was evening out and then she opened her eyes. "Mulder?"
"Yeah, it's me."
"It was a bad one, they couldn't wake you up."
She looked stunned at that, and turned to see her parents watching them. "Mom? Ahab?"
Her father stepped closer as Maggie took a seat at the foot of the bed. "We called Mulder when we couldn't reach you."
"Couldn't . . . What's happening to me?"
Mulder looked at her father, who nodded to him.
"I think you're remembering, remembering what happened to you."
She was silent for a moment, then looked at Mulder. "He didn't find me in Nevada."
Mulder shook his head.
"Dana . . . "
"Tell me. It can't be worse than this."
Mulder looked over at her father, who nodded slightly. "I investigated Paul."
"Why?" she asked, clearly puzzled.
He gave her a grim smile. "I didn't like him. I didn't
like the way he treated you."
She blinked at him. "The way he treated me?"
Mulder shrugged. "It was a feeling. As a profiler I use that a lot."
After a long moment, she slipped her hand into his. "Go on."
He gave her a small smile then. "Paul is not an investment banker. He's a research scientist working for Roche Pharmaceuticals, and he's been doing experiments on humans without FDA sanction." He watched her absorb that, looking at her father and mother for an instant. "The pills that he was giving you, to help you sleep? I had them analyzed."
Again her eyes widened but she kept quiet.
"It was a dangerous mixture of Xanax and Valium in part. There were other ingredients, that couldn't be identified. It was compounded, like something created by a research scientist."
"Unidentifiable, how?" William asked.
Mulder let go of Dana's hand then and moved back. "Here's the part . . . Years ago my sister was taken. I was there, she was eight, I was twelve."
He heard Maggie gasp. "How long was she gone?"
"I'm still looking," Mulder admitted and saw the tears that glistened in the woman's eyes. "Anyway, I witnessed it and woke up in the hospital three days later. I wasn't injured, just . . . non-responsive."
"You weren't injured?" William asked, puzzled.
"I was suffering from weightless sickness, but other than that, I was fine."
"Weightless - "
"My sister was abducted by aliens." He said it flatly, knowing their reaction.
"Mulder, you're, you're kidding right?" Maggie asked and he started to turn to her.
"Maggie," William spoke first. "I've seen a lot of things at sea, at night, things we don't talk about. It's the same with pilots, air traffic controllers. I'd be lying if I said I thought the planet isn't being visited."
"William, you never said anything - "
He took her hand. "It's not the kind of thing you can explain, right, Mulder?"
Mulder stood there, staring at the man, stunned at the unexpected support. "Right."
"What does that have to do with the medicine I took?" Dana asked with a shaky voice.
Mulder turned back to her immediately. "The compound . . . "
"Oh my god." Her eyes had widened as she took in the implication.
"You're not taking it any more. I believe it was what was keeping your memory away. These nightmares are the memories returning."
"Did you have nightmares?" William asked.
Mulder nodded. "Still do on occasion, but I got some help with it."
"What?" Dana and Maggie asked together.
"I had hypno-regression. I got to the memories without having to wait. It didn't take away all of the trauma, but I had some control over it that way."
"Could you do that for me?" Dana asked.
"You're a Ph.D. in psychology. I'm sure you have some training . . . "
"I shouldn't have told you that."
"I'm glad you did," she responded with a little more spunk. "It would be better than some stranger."
"I don't know about this, Dana. I haven't done anything like that since school."
"But one of the most important components of the process is trust, and I trust you." She couldn't interpret the emotions that seemed to flit over his face at those words, but she reached for him again.
"In, in any case, not now.," he shook his head. "We can talk about it tomorrow; give you a little more time to think about it."
She started to say something, then just nodded.
"I'll see you tomorrow."
He caught the look of fear that flicked through her eyes and squeezed her hand one more time. "You can call me any time."
"I might," she said softly. He winked at her and left the room. Maggie stayed behind, but William followed him out into the hall.
"Mulder, look, I know it's an imposition and I haven't spoken to Maggie about this, but dinner's nearly ready, we have a perfectly fine guest room, and - "
"You don’t think she'll mind the over protectiveness?"
"I don't really care right now. She's suffering from these night terrors, she's not healed from major surgery. I'm ready to do anything to help her. I feel like we're running out of time because that husband of hers is going to come and try to force her back home. She'll be back on the medicine and . . . "
"Let me run home and get a few things. I'll be back in an hour."
"I appreciate this."
Dana was surprised, but her relief was palpable when she saw Mulder emerge from the kitchen carrying a hot dish for Maggie.
He grinned. "Sorry, you're not rid of me yet."
"I'm glad," she said quietly
They just looked at each other until the heat of the dish caught his attention. He hurried to put the dish down on a potholder and wiped his fingers on his jeans.
"Like I said," she watched him arrange the dish, "I'm glad you're here, but a little confused."
"Uh, your parents invited me again. Apparently I'm too skinny."
Her eyes scanned his body, with especial interest at part of his anatomy. She looked up to find his cheeks a touch pink but watching her. "You could gain a little weight. But somehow I don't believe that's the project Mom's working on."
He grinned, but made no comment. Maggie joined them then. "Have a seat. I'll call your dad. Go ahead and start."
William joined them shortly and they ate the delicious meal. When they were through, Maggie tagged William to help with the dishes, so Dana and Mulder retreated to the family room and she turned on the television. He took a seat on the wide, comfortable couch and she took a seat beside him, not too close.
After a while she looked over at him. "You're welcome here, Mulder, but I'm sure you'd like to - "
"Uh, actually - "
Maggie walked in then, William just behind her. "Dana, Mulder will be joining us for the night."
Dana looked up at them horror-struck. "You've hired an FBI agent to babysit me?"
"Well, I'm not charging," he said mildly.
"Oh my God!" Her face was scarlet.
"Dana, listen to me." Maggie had taken a place in front of her daughter. "You haven't had a decent night's sleep since this thing started. You're recovering from major surgery, you came here to recuperate and your father and I are going to make sure it happens."
Dana had drawn back slightly at her mother's tone and opened her mouth to protest when William shook his head.
"Drop it, Starbuck. You're still our daughter and we're going to look after you."
"I'm an adult, Ahab."
"Yes, you are, so you can see the sense of what we're doing. Your mother and I are going up for the evening. If you need us, call. I'm assuming you're not quite ready to go to bed yourself." The older man turned then, halting conversation while Dana sat there, feeling like a teenager who had just been grounded.
She stayed quiet until they were upstairs, then she turned to Mulder. "You don't have to stay here."
"May I stay?"
She met his eyes. "Why?"
"I'm hoping I can help. Come on, let's see if there's some chick flick on Lifetime."
Her eyebrow rose at that. "Chick flick?"
He grinned. "Okay, you have control of the remote. And believe me, it's a sacrifice."
She huffed but took the remote from him. What a strange evening this had become.
It was after midnight when William made his way back downstairs. He saw that the TV was still on, the sound turned low. "Mul - "
Mulder turned to him, his finger to his lips. William proceeded into the room and spotted Dana, sound asleep on the couch. The top of her head pressed against his thigh. Mulder had pulled the afghan off the back of the couch and covered her.
"She seems comfortable," Mulder whispered.
"Yes, she does. And safe." William met his eyes.
"Thank you." He meant several things and William seemed to understand.