Opportunity or Fate


Opportunity or Fate - 5/?


Dana woke and stretched.   Where . . . she in the family room, but what -  

"Morning," a rough and damn sexy voice sounded in her ear.


"Um hum.   You were hogging the afghan, so I just put you on top of me so we could share.   Now I know you're an adult, married woman, but if you don't want to be embarrassed, you're going to have to let me up."   He winked at her and, scarlet faced, she scrambled off of him.   He rose quickly and took her arm to ensure she had her balance.   "You seemed to sleep well," he noted.

"Y-yes, I did."   She couldn't help it, her eyes glanced down, then she quickly turned toward the stairs.   He saw that she was moving easily and headed for the half bath downstairs.

He headed for the kitchen then, following the aroma of coffee.  

Maggie turned and smiled when he entered.   "Did you sleep well?"

Before he could answer, William joined them.   He had overheard the question and very slightly shook his head at Mulder.   She didn't know where they had slept?

"Yes, very well.   Thank you."   He saw Dana enter the kitchen.   Before she could speak he continued.   "Your guest room is more comfortable than my apartment."

He saw William turn away to hide his smile.   Dana looked the question at him and he shook his head slightly.

"I'll have pancakes ready in just a minute.   William, would you get the juice out?"

"Pancakes?" Mulder asked.   "You really were serious about fattening me up.   I'll need to run to work."

"Nonsense.   Take a chair.   We eat breakfast here in the kitchen."   Dana brought the coffee pot to the table.

"Thank you," she mouthed to him and he nodded.

She finished her pancakes under the watchful eye of her mother, then reached for her juice.   "Are we going to do this hypnosis today?"

"Uh, I have to go to work.   Why don't the three of you discuss it.   When I get off I'll get in touch - "

"Come to dinner, Mulder," Maggie said immediately.

"I'm going to have to buy some drawstring pants," he mourned as she laughed.   "Thank you, yes, I will be back tonight.   Please, give this serious thought."

Dana nodded, and he rose to head home before going to the office.


It was a long boring day except for the time he took to reacquaint himself with hypnosis.   He wasn't sure this was the right thing, but he could see the necessity at least in her eyes.   The nightmares were taking their toll.

When he presented himself at the front door, it was Dana that opened it to admit him.   She was dressed in a light green top and jeans, which looked just a little too big for her.   His smile when he saw her, warmed her whole body.

"Mom's roasting a chicken.   You're bringing out the best in her."

"I'm the one enjoying this.   All aspects of it."   He watched with appreciation as her cheeks warmed.

She cleared her throat, leading him to the family room.   "We talked about the hypnosis."


"I want to go ahead with it.   I don't know what I'll remember, but it can't be worse than the nightmares.   At least I'll know."

He looked at her for so long she became uncomfortable, but bit her lips to keep from speaking.   He seemed to be trying to read her mind.   "Okay, but I want your parents as witnesses, and I want to record what happens.   I don't want to lead you."

She nodded.   "After dinner?"

He shook his head.   "Before."   He caught the fear that flickered through her eyes and was gone.   This woman wasn't going to let fear stop her.

"I'll get Mom and Ahab."   She motioned for him to take a seat and slipped out of the room.

When she returned with her parents, Maggie looked frankly scared, William was holding it together for his women, holding the recorder.   Mulder didn't question their decision again, offering a seat on the couch to Dana.   Maggie sat on the far end of the couch they had shared the night before.   William took a seat in the chair beside his wife.

Mulder sat on the coffee table in front of Dana.   "I need you to relax as much as you can.   This might not work on the first try; that's okay."

Dana swallowed, then reached into her jeans pocket and pulled out a pendant.   "Melissa gave me this.   Can you use it?"

He nodded, smiling slightly.   "First just get comfortable."   He saw Maggie bite her lip out of the corner of his eye, but continued.   "Concentrate on your breathing."

When he had walked her through relaxing each part of her body, he did use the crystal pendant that her sister had given her.   "Dana, you will remember everything that you say, but it is a memory.   Nothing can hurt you, you're in your parent's home and safe.   You'll be able to speak to us and we can stop this at any time.   Do you understand?"


"Close your eyes and take a deep breath.   Think about Greg's apartment, remember the furnishings, the way you were feeling.   Tell me what you're doing."

"He's kissing me." She smiled at the memory and Mulder felt himself tense.   He glanced over and saw that William had noticed.   He forced himself to relax.   It was none of his business who she kissed, and the memory of the feel of her on top of him last night had to be shoved aside.

Suddenly her breathing changed, grew rapid and her body tensed.   "Dana, you're safe.   Tell me what you see."

"The lights have gone out.   It's dark."

"Slow your breathing, Dana.   Tell me what you see."

"Red, red lightning.   The, the building's shaking.   I feel funny, like I'm floating.   Light!   It's too bright, painful."   She winced, then tensed again.

"It's just a memory, Dana.   Tell me what you see."

"I'm on a, a form.   It's molded to me and it's, it's oily and . . . it feels alive.   I, I'm nude." Her voice was rising again.   "There are lights and, and there are . . . beings."

"What do they look like?"

"They have no eyelids!   Their skin is gray and - Oh god!   They're touching me!   They're - "

"Dana, Dana listen to me.   It's a memory, they can't hurt you.   May I touch you?"
Her hand reached out to him and he took hold of it, then the other.   She seemed to relax immediately.   "We can stop now."

She shook her head.  

"You want to go on?"

"Please," it was a whimper but her hands tightened around his.

"Tell me what you see."

"I can't see the room, there are lights and sounds.   But there's no talking, just a, a vibration."

"Move forward, Dana.   You were rescued, returned.   Do you remember that?"

There was a pause, then she nodded.

"What do you see?"

"I'm on a table.   There are beings, no men, around me in space suits."   Her brow furrowed.   "No, biohazard suits.   The man in charge, he's . . . oriental.   There are eight of them, examining - No!"

"Dana," his hands tightened on her.   "Come back.   Come back to us on the count of three.   One . . . two . . . thre - "   Before he could finish her eyes flew open.   Her mother moved to comfort her, but Dana had launched herself at him, clinging to him, her face buried in his chest.

"It's okay, it's okay."   He was rocking her, crooning in her ear as she wept.

It took nearly ten minutes, but she finally began to calm down.   William handed him a glass of water for her and she sat up and drank it.

"I'm sorry, Dana.   I shouldn't have - "

"It was Paul.   He was one of the scientists examining me.   I slept with him!   I thought - "

"Dana, you're away from him now.   You never have to go back."

"He's part of this.   He, he works with the people that . . . "

"We know that now, and he doesn't realize you're on to him.   Maybe we can use that."

"You have an idea?" William asked quickly.

"Not really, not yet.   Let's shove this aside for a little while.   Think that chicken might be ready?"

"Oh!"   Maggie was up and hurrying toward the kitchen.

To Mulder's surprise, Dana giggled at the sight.   He looked down to see if hysteria was next but she met his eyes.   "I needed that.   It put it in some sort of perspective."

He smiled at her and let her sit up.   She rose from his lap and turned to her father.   "I'm sorry, Ahab."

"Sorry about what?   You didn't do any of this.   You are a survivor if I've ever met one.   I always knew you were the strongest of my children.   I just didn't think you'd have to prove it like this."

They hugged each other when she sat on the arm of his chair, and a few more tears were shed, then they heard Maggie join them.   "We lucked out.   You might need a little extra gravy, but I think it's edible."

"With you as cook, it'll be incredible, just like every other meal I've had here."   He rose, helping Dana to her feet.

They ate, their conversation carefully casual and not about what they had just witnessed.   He learned about her brothers and sister, and moving to different naval bases growing up.   After the meal, he insisted on helping with clean up.

"I have eaten my last four or five meals here, I need to contribute.   Please; I promise not to break anything."

"I'm not worried about that."

"Mom, I'll help him."

"You can tell me where things go, but I'm doing the clean up," Mulder said immediately.

"Deal.   Go on Mom, I know you and Ahab need some time."

Maggie and William exchanged glances and agreed.   William led her out of the dining room.

They still kept things light, teasing each other about their household skills.   When he folded the towel and laid it on the counter, he turned to her and felt her tense.   "I've been invited to sleep over again tonight."

"You don't have to - " she said quickly.

"I know, but I think I should.   We stirred up a lot of . . . stuff tonight.   It might be good for me to be here."

"Oh the couch," her tone was dry.

He grinned at that.   "Think we could get away with it again?"

Her face heated up and she mentally cursed her complexion again.   "I doubt it."

He sobered.   "Okay, but I can be close by."

After a moment, she nodded and let him lead her from the kitchen.   They found her parents in the family room and took seats on 'their' couch to watch the end of whatever was on.   Again her parents excused themselves and left them alone when the show ended.

Mulder turned to watch them leave and William looked back, nodding once.   Dana hadn't seen or had ignored it, so Mulder settled back and after a moment put his arm along the back of the couch.   Without seeming to notice, she moved closer and shortly was cuddled into him, asleep again.

He was fairly certain that another night on the couch would be more than he should ask for, so after an hour or so, he looked down and spoke to her.   "Dana?   You need to go to bed."

She responded by cuddling in further and letting her hand drop into his lap.   He practically hissed at that.   He looked around as though for help, then sighed and carefully stood.   When she still didn't wake, he gently lifted her into his arms and headed for the stairs.   She only buried her face in his chest and slept on.   Great.

He laid her on her bed and removed her shoes.   She should have gotten ready for bed before they'd settled in front of the TV, but he had the impression she hadn't wanted to be away from them, from him, for that long.  

Okay, did he stay in here with her?   Shit, this was certainly a new situation for him.  

Well, he wasn't about to undress her and what she had on should be comfortable enough.   He arranged the covers and got her settled, then headed to the bathroom.   Still undecided, he returned to her room to find her restless as though searching for something.   He looked up and down the hall, then shut the door and returned to her bed.   He shucked off his shoes and got comfortable on top of the covers.   In her sleep, she moved closer.

He woke when she stiffened and pulled away from him, starting to shake.   "Dana.   Dana, wake up.   It's a dream, you're safe."

"Mmf," she cuddled in.   "Muld . . . "   She was asleep again and relaxed.

She hadn't come completely awake, but she hadn't gone into the nightmare, even with everything she had remembered.   His ego would have loved to think that it was his presence beside her, but she didn't know him that well.

What was it about her that he touched?   He had known when she was struck by that bullet, he had been aware of her nightmare that first night before she had cried out.

She was calm again now, so he relaxed and she cuddled in.   He let his eyes close.

He woke the next time at the sound of the knob turning and had one second to realize where he was before turning to see Maggie Scully's wide eyes at the door.   Before he could speak, William appeared beside her.   He took in everything at a glance, Mulder was fully clothed except for his shoes and on top of the covers.   Starbuck had on clothes as well.   "Did she have a nightmare?"

Mulder shook his head and started to rise.   Dana protested, still asleep and her arm pulled him back.

William did not smile, but Mulder distinctly saw his eyes twinkle as he turned to Maggie.   "Let's go start the coffee."   He eased the door closed and Mulder collapsed back onto the pillow.   Damn.

While he lay there trying to decide if he could make it out a second story window, Dana stretched, then froze.   "Mulder?"


"We did it again?"

"And got caught this time. Both of your parents were just here."

"Oh my god."   She was scrambling to get out of the bed and Mulder saw her wince.

"Stop.   You'll hurt yourself.   It's too late anyway."

"But - "

"Look at us, Dana.   We're both dressed and I'm on the outside of the covers.   Your father saw it instantly.   Believe me, he looked.   Now he's taken your mother downstairs to make coffee.   Relax a minute."

To his wonder, she did, lying back against the pillow for a moment.

He decided to say it.   "You can't go back to him."

"I know."

He seemed to relax a little at her words.   "He deceived you.   Everything he told you was a lie.   Could that be grounds for an annulment?"

She blinked, then smiled.   "I need to find out."

"I, uh, I need to go by my place this morning, so I better get out of here."

She nodded and watched him rise from the bed, thoroughly enjoying the view this morning.

He was drinking a cup of coffee by the time she got downstairs, moving the best she had since the surgery.   Sleeping beside the man was good, but she'd had the thought of how much better it could be and now couldn't seem to shake it.

"Really, I can miss one breakfast; or rather have my 'normal' breakfast."   He indicated the cup in his hand.   "I have to get home for few minutes, but I'll be here after work."

"Well I certainly hope so!" Maggie said quickly and Mulder grinned.

"Me too," Dana said softly and he turned toward her.   After an instant, he nodded.   He finished his coffee and Dana walked him to the door.   "Have a good day."

He grinned and looked back toward the kitchen.   Since no one had followed them, he leaned over and gave her a quick kiss.   She looked startled, but immediately smiled and her arms went around his neck.   "Hurry home."

His smile warmed her to her toes.

After he was gone, she returned to the kitchen and at Maggie's urging helped herself to the eggs and took a seat beside Ahab.   Dana took deep breath.   "You know nothing happened."

"Thank goodness I put the heavy bedspread on your bed," Maggie remarked and William watched the color stain his youngest daughter's face, but he chuckled.

"I believe you.   He's a gentleman, but let's not talk about thin bedspreads."

"Ahab!"   William chuckled and shook his head.

"I'm not going back to Paul."

"I didn't think you would."

"I need to talk to a lawyer, but Mulder and I think I might have grounds for an annulment."

Maggie looked up and smiled.   "I can check into that for you."

"Thanks, Mom."

Dana headed upstairs to take her shower and dress.   She hurried down a few minutes later, her hair still wet.   "Ahab!"

He met her at the bottom of the stairs.   "What?   What's wrong?"

"Mulder.   Something's wrong.   We have to go."

"Go where?"

"His place.   Damn, I don't know his address."

"I have it," Maggie said, turning back toward the kitchen.   "What's going on?"

"I'm not sure.   I feel like, Ithink someone's at his place.   They're going to . . . to hurt him."

"Dana," Maggie returned, handing the address to William.   "Why do you - "

"I don't know, but I can't ignore it.   Ahab - "

"We'll head that way.   Maggie, try to reach Mulder on his car phone."

"He left it here."   Dana held up the Bureau issued phone.   "I need to call 911, get the police over there."

''I can - "

"We're too far away.   We won't get the right 911.   We'll use his phone when we get closer."   William had caught her urgency by then, and was headed toward the garage.   "Come on, Starbuck; I'll drive."

They were gone in minutes.   At one point Ahab patted Dana's wringing hands.

"You believe me, don't you, Dad?"

She hadn't called him 'Dad' in years.   She sounded so young.   "We're on our way.   He's only about fifteen minutes ahead of us."

She nodded and looked back down at the phone in her lap.   Soon, but not soon enough for her, Ahab motioned for her to try to use the phone.

It was the third try before she finally connected with the 911 operator.   She didn't look over at Ahab.   "Help me!   I'm at 2630 Hegal Place, Apt 42. Someone's in my apartment."

"What's your name?"

"Mulder, Frances Mulder.   Please, send someone!"

"Where are you?"

"I'm in the bathroom.   Please - "

"Someone is on the way, Ms. Mulder.   Just stay on the line with me."

"Yes, please hurry . . . battery . . . hurry!"   She broke the connection then and looked over at her father.

"Not bad.   They'll be all the quicker, thinking you're trapped inside."

"And they're not trying to find out why my name isn't on the address."

He nodded, and pressed a little more on the gas pedal as a hole opened to the side of him in traffic.

There were three police cars there when William pulled onto the street and Dana looked over at him.   "Is he okay?"

"You tell me, I think you know."

She managed a smile then.

"I think you better stay in the car, Starbuck."

"In the - ?"

"Yes.   If they're after him because he knows you and you show up at his apartment . . ."

"You think Paul is behind this?"

"From what Mulder told me, I don't think we should take the chance.   Stay here."   He was out of the car then and hurrying across the street.   The police tried to stop him.   She couldn't hear what he said, but they let him past.