TITLE: Sheltered (1/1)
AUTHOR: Shoshana
EMAIL ADDRESS: shoshana1013@excite.com
DISTRIBUTION STATEMENT: Anywhere
SPOILER WARNING: Biogenesis
RATING: PG
CONTENT STATEMENT: MSR
CLASSIFICATION: VRA
KEYWORDS: Mulder/Scully romance
SUMMARY: Post-ep. Scully returns from Africa and gets Mulder out of
the hospital.
DISCLAIMER: These characters do not belong to me.
NOTE: Virtual chocolate to Char for cheerful beta and all-around
encouragement.

Sheltered
By Shoshana

~~~~~~~~~~~~~
November 1999
~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Dana Scully struggled to find her car key in the dim light at Dulles
International airport. She'd just got back from the Ivory Coast and
was in a hurry to get back to Georgetown Memorial where Mulder was
now ensconced in a private room.

Before she had left on her long journey, she had contacted a doctor
with hospital privileges, a trustworthy one. After revealing her
status as Mulder's next of kin, as well as that of his personal
physician, she'd been able to isolate him from the rest of the staff.

Progress had been made since she'd left; he was responding to a
different regimen of drugs at the request of his new doctor. The
Lone Gunmen were his only authorized visitors and she had received an
Email on her laptop four hours ago, informing her that his condition
was stable. He was still in restraints as a cautionary measure, but
he had not had a violent outburst for twenty-four hours.

"Dammit," she cursed under her breath, struggling with the car key.
She finally got the door open and was about to throw her bags in the
back seat, when she felt cold steel on her neck. Double dammit, she
swore.

"It's just me, Scully. I'm sure you want to behave now. I'm not
here to hurt you. I just want to know what you found on your long
excursion abroad."

"Nothing, I found nothing, Krycek. Get your fucking hands off me."

"I never heard you swear like that back in the old days, Scully.
Picking up some bad habits from Mulder, I see?"

"Let me go. I have nothing to tell you. If you are so interested
in what I found, why didn't you follow me to Africa?"

"Well, I must compliment your friends on their excellent work. We
didn't discover which alias you were flying under till too late, and
by that time you had already been out to the archaeological site.
Too bad the military has cordoned off the area. But I guess you
arranged that just to make it easier for us. Now we know where the
ship is. And we'll find a way to bribe our way in, eventually."

The revolver was still digging into her neck and Scully was tired of
being manhandled by the one-armed wonder. She prayed that some other
person would come out to the lot and take notice of her. He hadn't
taken her weapon, but she still couldn't reach it without taking a
bullet in her neck. He probably was not going to hurt her. For now,
at least.

"Scully, this is just a warning. We want to know what you've found,
if there are any more artifacts..."

"Go to hell."

"It would be in your best interest, Agent Scully. We can infiltrate
your investigative work. We can find out these things the hard way.
But it would be a lot more helpful if you cooperated."

"No."

"We're willing to barter. Trade information about the viruses,
hybridization, Samantha..."

"You're full of shit, Krycek. This isn't going to work, so just let
me go," She spat her words at him now, struggling, trying to escape
his grasp.

"Take your time. Discuss it with Mulder. I hear he's feeling
better. Make sure you send him my regards. Don't reach for your
weapon when I release you. My accomplice isn't as fond of you as I
am..."

He released her arm and disappeared into the night. Scully,
nauseated, trembling, fell breathless into her front seat. She
clicked the power locks and leaned against the steering wheel for
support.

Have to get out of here. Have to get to Mulder. Get it together,
Dana. It's just a scare tactic. They don't have anything to trade.
They only know what we told Skinner. Skinner is compromised. Have
to get out of here.

She started the car, stopped to pay the attendant, then pealed out
of the lot. Her throat felt sore from screaming at Krycek; her neck
still ached from the steel piece he had thrust at her jugular vein.
Her breathing had yet to return to normal, her vision felt cloudy
from tears of hatred.

Why didn't I have someone meet me? Why am I so stupid? So
careless? She grabbed her cell phone and called the hospital,
requesting that the doctor on call meet her in twenty minutes. Then
she called Frohike, told him to sweep Mulder's apartment for bugs and
cameras immediately. If she could get him out of there tonight, they
would need a safe place immediately.

Frohike told her that Byers was at the hospital and it was still
visiting hours. Mulder's authorized, official sanctioned doctor had
stopped by earlier and recommended that his restraints be removed.
He would release him, but only to her custody. Signed release papers
awaited her. She closed her cell phone and drove like a madwoman to
the hospital.

Thank God, thank God I can get him out of there tonight. She pulled
into the lot and didn't release the power locks till she had her gun
in hand, ready for any eventuality. Confident that no one was about
to jump her in the well-lit lot, she holstered her weapon and raced
into the building.

Flashing her credentials to the Supervisory Nurse, she managed to
catch the doctor on call as he strode by the corridor. She
recognized him as the same one she'd encountered several days ago,
when Mulder was first hospitalized. But he gave her no resistance
now, signing the release papers filled out by Mulder's psychiatrist
earlier that evening.

The private rooms were very much like regular hospital rooms, lining
a different corridor than he'd been in last time she was here. Byers
was holding up the wall beside the room, waiting for her patiently,
coffee cup in hand.

"He's completely dressed and ready to go, Scully. He's a little
groggy, but he can walk, well sort of... Want me to get a
wheelchair?"

"Yeah, sounds like we'll need it. Thank you, friend, thank you for
everything..." she said, clasping his hand in both of hers.

"No problem. Anyway, we're pretty sick of his bellyaching. Get him
out of here..."

He grinned broadly and she laughed for the first time all day at
Byers' assessment of the patient. She glanced through the window in
the door and saw that Mulder was reclined on the bed. Using the key
that the night nurse had lent her, she entered the room quietly.

His head wobbled up at the snick of the lock. He struggled to focus
on her, still fighting against too many drugs in his system.

"Scully," he whimpered, as she rushed to his side, catching him as
he tried to get out of bed too quickly.

"Hey, hey. Just take it easy. We don't have to rush out of here,
you know. We've got all the time in the world now." She spoke
softly, smoothing back his disheveled hair.

She eased him back on the bed and sat down next to him, forcing
herself to switch to Dr. Scully mode so she could assess his
condition. She didn't have long to do so; he grabbed her, pulling
her down for a hug that belied his supposedly weak state. He was
weeping now, tearing at her own fragile composure. She was
disconcerted by his behavior; she needed him more sedate, self-
possessed, so that she could just get him out of here, get him home.

"Mulder, just calm down, we're leaving, we're going home." She got
him to ease up his vise-like grip, and sat upright next to him on the
bed. She grabbed some kleenex off the bedside table and dabbed at
his eyes, then his face, as he continued to hold her at her waist.

"So happy you're back." His words rasped out, throat still sore
from ranting and raving in the padded cell.

"Now, Mulder... you have to get it together. You're released to my
care, but we'll have to come back for outpatient treatment tomorrow.
The doctor insisted that he do a final assessment. O.K.?"

"Long as I get home, fine."

"Come on, partner. Let me go and Byers can help you into the
wheelchair."

"Scully?"

"Yeah..."

He scooted up in bed and pulled his legs around to sit next to her,
wavering slightly. He embraced her, gently pulling her close. She
startled, aware of the subtle difference between the way he held her
now and the way he had greeted her scant minutes ago.

She was too tired to resist him. The flight, Krycek, the phone
calls, the nurse, the doctor, had all exhausted her. Her weakened
state banished better judgment. They shouldn't be seen like this,
right? He shouldn't be massaging her lower back, nuzzling her neck,
rubbing his rough cheek against her own.

Finally, she found enough strength to pull away from his warm,
welcoming arms. She straightened his unruly hair and smiled at him,
"Come on, Mulder. Let's go home."

The ride home wasn't too bad. At least she had Byers to help her
get him into the passenger seat. He was still unsteady on his feet,
either from the drugs or simple physical exhaustion. The walk from
the car was less promising at first, till he seemed to get some of
his equilibrium back. He leaned on her heavily, apologizing for his
weight.

They managed to lope over to his bedroom and he plopped down on the
mattress, pulling her down with him. Scully was all too aware that
even in his weakened state, he was behaving too affectionately for
his own good. She admitted, in silent conversation with her non-
professional self, that she couldn't have resisted this... had he
been physically sound, in body and mind. She couldn't do this now,
not with him drugged out, emotionally needy, vulnerable.

"Mulder. Come on, lay back and get some rest. We have a lot to
talk about, a lot to do tomorrow."

She tried to extract herself from his arms and he held her fast. He
was starting to kiss her neck and she was enjoying it in spite of
herself. She marshalled all her strength and broke his grip, pushing
off of the bed and landing on the floor.

"Oomph. Mulder, start behaving or I'm taking you back!"

The look on his face told her immediately she'd spoken too hastily.
He probably realized she was kidding around, but the prospect of
being locked up in the psych ward again was too frightening, too
soon. He turned over on his side, pouting like a child, and she,
against her better judgment, sat back down on the bed and stroked his
back with smooth, round movements.

"Hey, I didn't mean that. You know I didn't. I'd never do that..."

She leaned over and kissed the back of his neck, kicking herself
mentally for giving him exactly what he wanted. Damn, it's going to
be tempting not to sleep in this bed tonight. He must have been able
to read her mind (wasn't that one of his symptoms?) and he rolled
over and gave her a sexy, beautiful smile.

Resistance was not futile now. She was determined to shower before
she was too exhausted, and not even a bedful of Mulder could keep her
from that. Anyway, a nice long shower would give her ample time to
mull over her dilemma.

She got off the bed, just missing another attempt by her partner to
pull her to the mattress. "Sleep, Mulder. I'm tired and I'm taking
a shower. If you need help later to get to the bathroom, just call
for me, O.K.?"

"I guess."

"Don't pout, Mulder or you'll be crawling to that bathroom..."

"Ah, Scully."

"I mean it. Behave."

She pulled the covers over him and cautiously took his left hand in
her own. She gave it a little squeeze, which he echoed.

She thought she'd finally tamed the monster, when she heard,
muffled, from under the covers, "I do love you, you know."

"I know. Please sleep, Mulder. We'll talk tomorrow."

All during her shower, she debated whether she should have told him
how she felt about him. Would he even remember tomorrow? She didn't
want to tell him when he was half-conscious, whacked out on whatever
combination of psychotropic drugs he was on. It was a serious
admission for her. She wanted him to remember when and where she
said it.

Out of the shower now, she stole his bathrobe off the back of door
and luxuriated in its smell. He must not wear it very often, it
smelled clean, but Muldery; it was like wrapping herself in his
scent. She knew what he might surmise by her wearing it and little
else; she was just too damn tired to care.
She made up her bed on the couch and fell asleep as soon as her head
touched the pillow.

Three a.m.... the moaning started. She woke up, alerted to his
distress by groans from the bedroom. She rushed in and saw that he
was clutching his head in his hands, much like he had done the other
day.

Oh, God. Where are his meds? She found them with some difficulty,
lined up the bottles on the bathroom sink and chose two that she
thought would get him back to sleep. With a glass of water and the
pills in hand, she approached the bed.

"Mulder? Can you hear me? Try to concentrate long enough and sit
up. Come on, you have to take these pills."

He struggled to a sitting position, shook his head to show her he
understood, and quickly swallowed the medication. He fell back on
the bed, his hands still clutching his temples.

She couldn't take this anymore. She couldn't stand to see him in
pain like this. It was bad enough she'd had to leave for Africa. It
was bad enough this was still happening to him.

She pulled his hands down from his face and laid them gently on his
stomach. She rolled him on his side, whispering in low tones that he
was going to be just fine. She rubbed his neck, his forehead, his
temples and he went as limp as a ragdoll, relishing her touch.

The low, satisfied sounds coming from him were soothing to her,
lulling her to sleep beside him. She probably should have got up,
she probably could have if she had really tried. It really was too
much trouble, wasn't it? She'd be up before him anyway.

Six a.m. brought bright sunlight streaming through the blinds.
Mulder awoke and discovered that he wasn't alone in his bed for the
first time in years. His mind also had a great deal more clarity
than it had in days. He wasn't hearing dissonance in his head. His
head didn't pound. But he was unsure whether he dare wake Scully.

He didn't want to. Watching her sleep had always been a pleasure
when they were on a stakeout. This was even better. She was clothed
only in his robe, she looked so beautiful he wanted to weep. He just
wanted to listen to her soft breath inhale and exhale all morning.

He laid back down on his side, facing her, and watched as long as he
could, eventually dozing off despite himself.

When she woke, she saw his beatific expression and wasn't jarred by
it, wasn't the least bit guilty she'd spent all night in his bed.
She was delighted that she was up before him, now he couldn't tease
her about it. She'd get up now, he'd never know.

She slid out of bed as quietly as possible, padding off to the
living room. It was already seven a.m. now and she went out to the
kitchen to see if Mulder had any coffee reserves. She fed Mr.
Coffee, measured out a whole pot and started the machine.

There was little or nothing in his fridge, not surprisingly. She
did find some shredded wheat, which was good enough for snacking out
of the box. She got her cup of coffee and went back out to the couch
to find... Mulder. She almost dropped the mug on the floor, clinking
it to the coffee table instead. He was reclined on his couch,
blanket over most of him, with a self-satisfied grin on him.

"Come on, Scully. If I can share my bed with you, you can share
yours with me..."

She was rattled by his audacity, but she was so damn happy to see
him back to his old aggravating self that she sat down next to him.

"Move over, Mulder. I always knew you were a blanket hog."

He scooched all the way to the back of the couch and she laid on top
of the blanket, directly in front of him. He gently put one arm
around her waist, tentatively, expecting her to resist. She didn't,
she moved a little closer to him, if anything.

He still didn't know exactly why she was wearing his bathrobe. He'd
remember if they'd done anything, or at least he hoped he would.
He'd gone from the psych ward to his partner's arms in less than
twelve hours. And this was definitely more surreal than half the
things he'd seen on the X-Files. Not that he was complaining.

"I have to tell you what I found. You ready yet?"

"Maybe," he said mysteriously.

"What do you mean *maybe*? I just went all the way to Africa and
back for you and it's *maybe*?" She turned her head back to his,
challenging him with her gaze.

He tightened his hold on her, placing a very chaste kiss against the
back of her neck. She shivered at the sensation, and caught his hand
in her own. No wonder he was playing word games. He was just, if
not more, overwhelmed by events as she was. He probably couldn't
even remember last night clearly, maybe not at all. Now, there's an
interesting thought.

"What do you remember from last night, Mulder?"

"*Everything.*" He smiled down at her, certain that he had her now.

She snickered. "Nothing happened, Mulder! You're not going to
trick me. I wasn't on multiple prescriptions all night."

"Then how do you account for your presence in my bed?"

"I was helping you recover from one of your spells and I fell
asleep. Sue me."

"Scully, suing you would be the farthest thing from my mind."

She turned around so she could look him in the eye, beaming with
mischief. "Oh, really?"

"Yeah."

"What did you have in mind?"

"Not much."

He gently rubbed the nape of her neck, smiling down at her with
undisguised adoration. Oh, God, she thought. He's perfectly sane
and cogent now... he loves you... kiss him, you idiot...

"Come here..." she purred.

She placed her right hand on his shoulder, pulling his mouth down to
hers. He caught the back of her head in both his hands, sealing the
kiss, closing it tight. When he released her lips, he searched her
face for apprehension, regret, and found none, nothing but pure
pleasure there.

"Scully... that was nice."

"I agree..."

"Can I become a mental patient more often? Because if this is the
outcome..."

"I don't *ever* want you to end up there again, Mulder! We'll
figure out something else, O.K.? Like... you can take me out
sometime..."

"A date."

"Yes, I think you could use some practice." He rolled his eyes at
her. "And it will keep you out of the loony bin."

"Maybe... maybe not..."

"Argh! You are so frustrating!"

He leered back at her, ready to snap back another one liner, but she
raised one inscrutable eyebrow and he thought better of it.

"I have to tell you what happened. We may not have much time to
study these things before someone else gets to them."

"Like who?"

"That's the end part of the story. Let me start with the beginning."

She swung her legs around to the carpet, still cradled in his arm,
but in a better position to see and speak to him. She absently
stroked at his shoulder, comforted by the feel of him, warm, soft,
substantial.

"There are more artifacts at the site, but they were not removeable."

"Why?"

"They're attached."

"To what?"

"A ship."

"Now, Scully... when *you* say ship, you do mean something other
than a seafaring vessel, don't you?"

"Yes."

"Goddamn, you're not kidding me, are you?"

"Yes, I mean no... yes, Mulder, I really did see a real live space
craft buried in the sand off the coast of Africa. Whether it is of
alien origin or not is yet to be discovered. It certainly would have
to be an elaborate hoax, though. Only the top protrudes above the
sandy beach."

"Who's there now?"

"The military is guarding the site, but I'm not so sure how corrupt
officials are. I'm not so sure we'll ever get to take a look at it
again. I made a rubbing of the artifact there. Sandoz believes
they're symbols for gene clusters, the map to our human genetic
makeup..."

"The human genome?"

"Yes."

"Scully... where's Sandoz? We have to talk to him. Now... before
something happens..."

"I think something has already happened...
I was speaking to him, in the office, he was in New Mexico...
and I heard a pop, then nothing. He must be dead, Mulder. And I
think I know who's responsible, someone who followed me out there and
who tried to track me down in Africa..."

"Who killed him? How do you know? Who was tracking you?"

"One question at a time! Mulder, the Lone Gunmen gave me false
identification before I left the country. That's the only reason I
was able to get there and back without detection. We really owe them
for the magnificent job they did...
I wasn't followed. But there's a leak, a mole in the organization.
This is almost too painful to say..."

"It's Skinner, isn't it?"

"How did you know, Mulder?"

"I was able to sense it before. Remember I asked him if someone
else was on this case? I knew then, just like I knew Barnes killed
Merkmallen. It's not total mind reading, it's more a sense, a
feeling for what people don't tell you."

"Can you do it now?"

"No, there's nothing now. I think I need exposure to the rubbing
again."

"No! You're not doing that. Stay out of my briefcase, stay away
from it for now. We just managed to get you stable with these meds."

"I wasn't suggesting any such thing, Scully. I'm still much too
exhausted to tackle that. I feel clear-headed, but my body still
feels like it's been pounded with bricks. Do you really think you
can control this with medicine?"

"Maybe. For now, let's not tempt fate. We'll find someone to
translate the symbols, don't worry about that. I've already enlisted
some friends to help. I don't even know if Albert Hosteen is dead or
not. We'll find out soon, later today, alright?"

"Alright, I'll stay away from the rubbings. Believe me, I'm not
anxious to experience that hell anytime too soon. There's more,
isn't there? You're not telling me something important, Scully.
Please, don't hide. I'm completely rational now. I don't want you
to endanger yourself by not being straight with me..."

She put both arms around him now, his long body reclining easily on
the black leather couch. Leaning over from her seat beside him, she
tucked her chin into the crook of his neck. She just wanted to stay
there, all day, all night. She didn't want to tell him about Krycek
in the parking lot, but she knew she was about as transparent as
safety glass. She couldn't lie about this... she picked her head
back up, looked him straight in the eye.

"When I got to Dulles, I went to my car. I was accosted by Krycek."

"What?!"

"I was tired. He surprised me and I feel stupid about that. He
told me that they would barter for the artifacts. He didn't realize
I didn't have access to them. And he'd only just found me. He must
have been lying in wait for me at Dulles for the last couple days.
And he doesn't know what we do or don't have. I'm sure *They* have
the fragment that Sandoz had in New Mexico. It spun like a top,
Mulder. It spun like a goddamn top when he showed it to me."

"You told me a passage from Genesis was on it."

"Yes, it is. Albert translated it. We'll, we'll have to have
someone continue, if he's passed on..." She lowered her head,
sadness consuming her.

She looked exhausted to him, like she just wanted to go back to bed.
He was disturbed that Krycek had tracked her down, probably held her
at gunpoint. He could only imagine the details of that encounter,
ones he knew would not be forthcoming.

"Hey... take it easy. We don't have to rush out and save the world
this morning. Why don't we go back to bed for awhile?"

She gave him a searing look, chuckling at his shamelessness.

He swiftly clarified his request, punctuating his words with gentle,
calming hands, "No funny business, O.K.? Just rest."

He swiveled around behind her and came to a sitting position next to
her on the couch. He put his right arm around her, feeling her
warmth underneath his thick terry robe. It was so large on her that
it fell to her ankles. He lifted her chin up with one finger and
made her look him in the eye. "*Just* rest. We can debate this
later, after sleep. It's still morning, we're both tired. O.K.?"

"O.K."

He took her hand and they walked to the bedroom together, both
feeling more than a little apprehensive, more than a little scared
that they were tempting fate, and tempting one another, for that
matter.

But he held her little hand tightly and smiled brightly at her as
she slid into bed first. He laid down next to her, pulling her into
his arms, spooning up against her like they'd done it a thousand
times. He kissed her neck gently and whispered as soft as a breeze,
"Sleep now, Scully. You're safe now."

"I know. And so are you..."
  

fin

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