Summary: post Milagro story…Motive is never easy. Sometimes it occurs to one only later.
Originally posted in Early Dec 2000
Author: Circe Invidiosa
Spoilers: Milagro, mentions Irresistible
Classification: S – MS/UST
Disclaimer: I make no claims on the characters. They are property of Fox, 1013 Productions.
Archiving: yours for the asking
Acknowledgments: many thanks to Carol A for the beta!
Scully was still lying on the floor, clinging to Mulder. She was hysterical. She couldn’t stop crying. He smoothed the back of her hair and whispered, “Ssh, it’s okay…it’s okay…”
Soon Mulder’s legs began to ache from crouching above her for too long. He had to move. He spoke gently to her, “Can you get up? I’m just going to move you to the couch, okay?”
She made no indication that she heard him. Mulder slipped his arm around her waist, pulling her up with him. She stood with him, completely supported by him. She still clung to his neck and now she buried her face in his chest.
“Come on, sit down.”
Mulder maneuvered her to the couch, easing her arms from around his neck as he helped her sit down. His eyes never left hers as he sat down on the coffee table and reached across, his hands covering hers as she sat with them on her lap.
“Take a deep breath and you’ll feel better. Can you hear me? Breathe.” His fingers touched below her jaw and gently nudged her face up to look at him. His voice was urgent now as he
repeated, “Scully, breathe!” He felt a sense of deja vu. He’d said these words to her before in another context.
Her eyes focused on him as she inhaled deeply but haltingly. The gulp of air calmed her, but the tears still streamed down her cheeks.
“Where are you hurt? Can you tell me what happened?” he asked as he tried to wipe the tears from her face. She shook her head.
“Okay. I’m going to get an ambulance and get you to a hospital.”
He started to get up, but reaching quickly, she pulled him back down. He was surprised at her strength considering the state she was in. She finally spoke, “No, no…don’t…” Her voice was
small, almost childlike. She broke down in tears again.
He tried to reason with her. “Scully, you’re covered in blood. You have to get checked out. We have to make sure your injuries aren’t serious.”
She shook her head, staring ahead and began to rock back and forth. Mulder gripped her shoulders.
“Scully…stop.” His voice sounded his rising concern as he realized she was in shock. She made no response. “Scully… Dana! Listen to me! Breathe!”
Her eyes connected with his again. She inhaled deeply. She shivered and said quietly, “I’m cold.”
He reached up behind her and pulled the wool afghan from the back of the couch and wrapped it around her shoulders.
“I’m going to get you some water.” She made no attempts to stop him this time as he stood and moved to his kitchen. He found a clean mug and ran the tap a minute before filling it with cold water. He looked at his watch. He had left Padgett twenty minutes ago. The man would be long gone by now. He had to put an out APB on him and call for back up. He wondered if he could get Scully out of there before they arrived.
When he returned, she was still sitting with the blanket around her. She was no longer crying, but simply sat there and stared at her hands. He knew she felt embarrassed. He hadn’t seen a reaction like this from her since finding her after Pfaster had kidnapped her. He was trying to be strong for both of them. But finding her had left him rattled too. Seeing her covered in her own blood, unconscious, not sure if she was alive…it brought up emotions he had kept buried for months.
He sat before her again and handed her the mug. She took a sip as he rooted around the coffee table for his cell phone. She looked at him questioningly and quietly stated, “I don’t want to go to the hospital.”
He replied, “I know. But I lost Padgett, I have to call it in.”
She nodded, and then asked, “How are we going to explain this?” Her voice was still weak.
“What?” she asked, confused.
“You are going to rest. I will explain it so that you aren’t involved.”
She started to protest. “You don’t have to…”
“Don’t argue with me, Scully. I don’t know what happened here. But you aren’t in any condition to be interrogated. I won’t allow it.”
She said nothing in reply but stared into the mug.
“Are you in pain?” he asked. She shook her head. “I thought I was. But I don’t feel it any more…”
“Have you looked at the wound?”
She closed her eyes. “No. I don’t want to.”
“We’d better look at it. Then we’ll know whether or not you should go to the hospital.”
Mulder stood up and offered her his hand. She took it, looking unsure if she could stand on her own. He pulled her up and slipped his arm around her waist to steady her. Even though he was sure she
could walk on her own now, he wasn’t going to let her.
“Take off your shirt. I’ll find you something else to wear. I’ll be right back.”
He left her in his small bathroom. She slowly looked up into the mirror. Mulder was right. She was covered in blood. Suddenly she wanted to be out of the stained clothing. She shrugged off her jacket leaving it in a heap on the floor. She stood before the mirror and slowly she unbuttoned her blouse. She looked away from herself not wanting to see her damaged torso. Tears were stinging at her eyes again as she remembered her assailant’s hand plunging into her chest. Finally, she looked down. Blood had dried across her brassiere and skin, but her fingers couldn’t find an entry wound. She heard a soft knock behind her. Mulder stood in the doorway and handed her one of his grey T-shirts.
“Is it bad?” he asked.
“There’s nothing,” she said, in disbelief.
His expression became one of confusion. He turned her around to examine her. “But the blood…”
She felt uncomfortable by his scrutiny of her chest, but she knew he had to see for himself. His fingers reached up as if to trace the blood with his fingers to try to see where it came from when he seemed to suddenly realize what he was doing and moved away from her.
He handed her a washcloth. “Try to clean yourself up as much as you can. I’m going to make the call now. I’ll be in the living room.”
He left her again. She pulled off her blouse and quickly dabbed at her neck and chest with the cloth. She slipped Mulder’s shirt over her head. The grey material draped over her small frame.
She gathered up her bloodied clothes and made her way back to his living room. He was washing up the blood on the floor where he had found her. He got up when he saw her and went straight to her side to support her.
“Do you feel dizzy or light-headed?” he asked as he slid an arm around her shoulder. He moved her to the couch once again. She shook her head.
He asked again, “You sure you’re okay?” She nodded in reply.
He continued. “All right. I’ve called Skinner and back up and they’ll be here shortly. I didn’t mention that you were here or that you were attacked. They will probably do a search of the
building but it’s not likely that they’ll search my apartment. Do you want to stay here and wait for me or do you think you can make it down to your car?”
She began to protest again. “Mulder…”
“Scully,” he interrupted her, “can you explain what happened here?”
She shook her head in reply. He said, “Then it’s easier not to explain it at all.”
“What are you going to tell them then?” she asked.
“That I undertook a surveillance by myself. And I went after the suspect when I saw him leave his apartment with evidence, presumably to give instructions to an accomplice. But I lost him outside of the building.”
“I fired my gun, Mulder. Your neighbours will have heard the shots.”
“Okay, I fired warning shots to try to stop the suspect. We’ll trade weapons in the unlikely event they want to test that it’s been fired. Look, Scully, we are running out of time to argue about this. Where do you want to wait for me?” His voice betrayed his rising impatience and anxiety.
She would have to wait for him alone. The thought hadn’t crossed her mind. Eventually she would have to be left alone. But she had to relent. Staying there in his apartment where she was just attacked was an alarming prospect. Surely he would have to leave the apartment to aid in the search for Padgett. Going to her car to sit alone didn’t hold any less dread. She could be seen by anyone who passed by. Besides, she couldn’t guarantee that she could walk very far yet.
Logic began to take over her senses again. She knew she had to overcome this fear as soon as possible. It would be ridiculous to let fear rule her now.
She chose to stay. He nodded. Then he gathered up her overcoat and handed it to her. He retrieved her gun from where she had dropped it when she passed out. He gently guided her into his bedroom. “Stay in here. I’ll make sure they don’t come in.”
Mulder’s room was in a state of disarray. He shifted a large pile of clothes on the bed to make a small nook for her to sit in or lie down in, if she needed to. Scully found it surprisingly easy to let him take care of her.
She sat down on the bed. He knelt in front of her and took his gun from his holster and placed it on the bedside table. He slipped hers in his holster. She did the same with his. She looked at him now with clearer vision.
Her fingers brushed across Mulder’s chest. “I got blood on you,” she said quietly.
“It doesn’t matter,” he responded. He stripped off his shirt and tossed it past her onto the floor. Underneath, his white T-shirt had remained spotless.
Mulder looked her over as if to see if to see if he had missed anything. He touched her jaw just below her ear where she had missed some blood. She realized what he had seen when he winced and tried to rub the spot away. She pulled his hand away. Finally, he murmured to her, “I’m going to meet them at the front of the building. Are you sure you’re going to be all right?”
She nearly told him she was fine, but thought better of it, and simply nodded. He said, “Okay, try to get some rest. I will be back as soon as I can.”
Scully’s eyes followed him as he stood. She felt small and fragile. Normally, she could stare him down until she he was half her size, but now she simply gave him a helpless glance before turning away. She was uncomfortable with him seeing her like this, but knew he felt just as uncomfortable… just as helpless. His fingers delicately smoothed her hair along the side of her face. She caught his hand and squeezed it. He walked out of the room and closed the door lightly.
Mulder led the team through the building. He showed them his surveillance equipment. He took them to Padgett’s apartment. He described how he fired warning shots when the suspect left his
apartment and how Padgett got on the elevator anyway. He left out following him down to the incinerator. He told them he had seen the elevator was going down and assumed that Padgett was leaving the building to meet an accomplice. He stated he was unable to find the suspect on the ground floor or immediately outside the building. That’s when he called.
They took it all in. There didn’t seem to be anything out of the ordinary in what he told them. They began their search of the building. They didn’t have to go far…
Scully was tense until she could hear the murmur of voices from the next room as Mulder’s apartment filled with law enforcement. She lay down keeping her boots on. She could hear Mulder’s voice clearly. He must have been standing by his bedroom door, inconspicuously guarding it from intrusion. Mulder’s voice calmed her. She listened as he told the story they had agreed upon. She heard Skinner’s low rumble in reply. She was lulled by the sound of Mulder’s voice and gradually began to feel groggy. Soon she heard his voice move away until she no longer heard it and panic seized her. She couldn’t sleep now.
The apartment was now silent. They must have left to do a search. Scully quickly slipped her boots off and wriggled under the covers of the bed. The blankets comforted her. They provided warmth and a shield to hide under. She covered all but the very top of her head. She felt a child hiding from the lurking monsters, but her feelings of absurdity did not overcome her terror. She waited anxiously for Mulder’s return knowing she wouldn’t be able to sleep until then.
It took her all of five minutes to succumb to fatigue.
She had been dreaming. She was being held down. Hands from everywhere were piercing her body. She struggled but couldn’t get away.
Suddenly, she felt a hand fall softly on her head. She gasped and grabbed at it. She woke to find it was Mulder’s hand. He greeted her, “Hey.”
She relaxed her grip on his hand and he sat on the edge of the bed beside her. She noted his expression of worry and regret. She disliked this look. It meant he was going to play the martyr.
She sat up. “Is it over? Did they find him?”
He sighed. “Padgett’s dead. They found him in the basement.”
Her face registered her shock. “How?”
“Same as the others,” he mumbled.
“Will there be any further investigation?”
“No. Skinner thinks it’s sewn up. He’s sure Padgett was the guy and now that he’s dead, there’s nothing else to look for.”
Confused, she persisted. “Regardless of the fact that he was in jail at the time of one of the deaths?”
“He thinks it could be a copycat killing,” he replied.
She protested again. “But…”
He interrupted. “Just let it go, Scully. It’s over.”
She brought her knees up to her chin and sat hugging her legs to her body. They sat quietly like this for what seemed like forever.
He didn’t ask, but she knew he wanted to, so she told him about her attack. She told him that the man was there when she opened the door. She told him the man looked exactly like the photo in the
file of Ken Naciamento. She told him how the man pushed her back into the apartment and threw her on the floor. She told him he pinned her before she could react. She told him how she watched as the man drove his fingers into her chest. She told him about the searing, gasping pain. She told him how she had shot the man and emptied her gun into him, but it had no effect. “…And when
the pain became unbearable, I began to pass out. I can’t explain what happened next…”
His hand covered hers as he nodded, urging her to continue. She inhaled deeply, and went on, “As I started to black out…I swear, Mulder…he disappeared.”
He nodded again but continued to say nothing.
“I couldn’t have imagined him,” she said.
He agreed. “No, you didn’t. Padgett did.”
“How can that be, Mulder? That man was here. I saw him. I felt his hand. He was real. We should be searching for him. He’s obviously not dead. He probably killed Padgett.”
“Padgett killed Padgett, Scully. Unlike the other victims, Padgett’s heart was in his own hand.”
He watched the surprise register on her face. He tried to pacify her. “Look, Scully, if Naciamento is alive, and if it was him, he will attack again and we’ll find him. But I don’t think he is. You were right, Scully. Padgett not only imagined it, he made it happen; he brought it to life.”
“That’s not possible,” she argued. “How can anyone’s imagination be that strong? To bring a fictional character to life? To make what he wrote actually happen? What could possibly give him that kind of power?”
“Obsession,” he answered her. “We underestimated him. He wasn’t just a lovelorn Romeo or a secret admirer. He was fixated on you. I should have seen this more clearly. It was all about you.”
She asked puzzled, “Mulder, what are you talking about?”
“I was with Padgett before I found you and I glanced at the last pages he wrote before I heard the shots. It was a textbook case of love obsession stalking. I can’t believe I didn’t see it. It explains…everything. The charm, the milagro…stalkers often give their victims gifts to make contact with them and attempt to woo them. And the book was his way of capturing the relationship he fantasized with you…by making it reality he was trying to live out his fantasy…”
“Mulder, that’s crazy. It doesn’t explain the deaths of those people. It doesn’t explain how he could make fiction a reality.”
“Scully, Padgett destroyed his book. He threw it in the incinerator after I left when I heard the shots, and that would be around the time that you say the man disappeared… He told me that Naciamento told him how to end the book in his apartment just before he went to the basement.”
“But there was no one there…he was alone,” she said slowly still letting Mulder’s words register with her. She swallowed hard and asked, “How did it end?”
He leaned forward and held his face in his hands. She could tell he didn’t really want to tell her, but knew that she would insist, so he continued, “Basically, that he misjudged your interest in him… that he felt you were in love with someone else and therefore couldn’t love him…then out of desperation, jealousy, humiliation…he described Naciamento’s attack on you exactly as you just described it to me. He could no longer live out his fantasy with you because you weren’t following his script. Obsession stalkers decide that if they cannot be a positive part of their victim’s life, they will be part of their life in a negative way. The evolution of the stalker’s thought pattern progresses from, ‘If I can just prove to you how much I love you,’ to ‘I can make you love me,’ to ‘If I can’t have you, no one else will.’ He played it all out in his book…”
Scully had turned away from him long before Mulder had stopped talking. She blushed when Mulder described Padgett thinking she was in love. Padgett hadn’t said with whom, but he must have assumed she was in love with Mulder. He hadn’t seen her with anyone else. It didn’t occur to her at the time and she had wondered who it was Padgett could have meant and initially thought he had the audacity to imagine it was himself. She should have known. Often she and Mulder had been mistaken for a couple, and today that mistake almost fatal. She had momentarily indulged in the flattery and attention that Padgett had paid her dismissing it as a harmless crush on her, and nearly paid for that indulgence with her life. What had she been thinking? She became overwhelmed with thoughts of her foolishness and began to weep silently.
Mulder had stopped talking. He realized he sounded like he was lecturing. He turned to look at Scully. She had turned away from him. He was afraid she was crying again. The sight of her shaking shoulders confirmed his suspicion. He stood up and moved to the other side of the bed. He swept the large pile of clothes to the floor. He slid onto the bed beside her, pulling her to him. He cradled her in his arms and let her cry. His chin rested on top of her head.
When her tears subsided, he quietly spoke, “I’m sorry.”
She sniffled before asking, “For what?”
“For not recognizing what was happening in time. I should have seen what he was, I should have known…”
“Don’t, Mulder,” she interrupted, shaking her head.
“Don’t what?” he asked, looking down at her.
“Take responsibility for this. You’ve done enough for me tonight without trying to blame yourself for this.”
“Is that what you think I’m doing?”
“Aren’t you?” she asked, eyebrow raised.
“Yeah.” He grinned at her sheepishly.
She smiled for the first time that night. It was a sign to him that she was going to be okay. Before he could, she brushed the tears from her cheeks and wiped her eyes, absent-mindedly using the sleeve of the shirt she wore. She remained in his arms, making no effort to move away from him. She rested her head against his chest. He was sure she would try to disentangle herself from him and was surprised when she nestled in closer. He started talking again to distract himself from her proximity.
“Seriously though, Scully, if I hadn’t been so adamant about pinning the murders on him, I would have seen his motives more clearly. The murders weren’t about the victims. He was trying to get your attention with the murders. You were his target. I should have seen how far gone he was. I guess I just thought he was infatuated with you.”
“Yeah, me too,” she mumbled in agreement.
He pressed a kiss on the top of her head. “Yeah, but who’s the profiler here?”
She chuckled softly. She was beginning to relax. He continued, “Well, it bothered me. His infatuation, that is. Maybe that was what blinded me: my dislike of the guy. It’s not that I couldn’t imagine someone having a thing for you. Maybe I just couldn’t imagine someone else having a thing for you. I don’t think I realized it until I found you. I can’t even imagine what I would have done if you were…hurt. When I saw you lying there, I thought…I don’t know what I thought. If anything irreparable had happened to you…Scully?”
She had fallen asleep. He couldn’t tell when she had drifted off but he was somewhat relieved. He wasn’t doing very well trying to explain his feelings and remorse. She must have been absolutely exhausted from the stress of the day. He looked at her and marveled at how she could just fall asleep to the sound of his voice. He stroked her hair and pushed it from her face.
His thoughts continued where his voice had left off. How did it end? The question spun around in his head. It ended with exactly what he found in his apartment after leaving Padgett. It ended with her end.
When he saw her seemingly lifeless on the floor, he thought he had lost her. He couldn’t imagine how close he had come to losing her today. And what if he had? For months he had cut himself off from her out of anger over her skepticism no matter how legitimately placed. The guilt he would have felt would have been enormous…overwhelming. He would never have survived it. And her death would have been his fault. He hadn’t seen Padgett’s motives because of his cloaked anger with her. He was sure of that. He knew he’d have to work to remedy this situation before another incident like this occurred. He couldn’t take the chance of losing her without her knowing…
He told himself he would continue to hold her until he could no longer bear her weight. He would hold her until she was deeply asleep and any movement from him wouldn’t disturb her. He knew if she woke, she would insist on leaving and he would insist on her staying. He would make her take the bed while he would sleep on the couch. He would find one of his never-used pajama tops for her to use.
And if he relented and let her go home, he would make her promise to see a doctor in the morning and insist on driving her home and stay until he knew she was okay. He thought out all the scenarios until he was satisfied that he would be with her most of the night.
But for now, he would just hold her and cherish the feeling of her against him…