Title: Genesis XV: Reclamation
SUMMARY: Mulder's fate, along with Scully and Marsh's future, remain uncertain. This episode contains spoilers for This Is Not Happening
Washington DC 6:10AM
Doggett looked up in surprise as the office door opened. "I thought you were taking time off. It's only been a week and a half."
Scully studied him, sitting behind his desk, sleeves rolled up, a stack of folders in front of him. *Still researching the files* He was diligent, she had to give him that. She put her briefcase down by her desk and sat in front of the computer, replying casually, "I needed to check a couple of things."
He watched her back for a moment, then returned to what he had been doing. Another minute passed and he pushed the reports away from him. He couldn't concentrate. "Something I can help you with?" he asked.
"No," she answered absently, scanning the list of principle investigators filed by Zeus Genetics with the National Institute of Health. Neither Dr. Miryum nor Dr. Parenti were cited there or with any other official agency. She hadn't been able to find any evidence that either of the physicians involved in her care had potentially nefarious connections, not that it meant anything. But she had to check the obvious sources as her first line of inquiry. "Thanks," she added as an afterthought.
"Sure," he said, continuing to watch her. Eventually he said, "I haven't been able to find any connection between a single one of the previous female multiple-abductees and any doctor or group of doctors. I haven't finished the hospitals yet."
She swung around in her chair and stared at him. "You checked?"
He nodded. "You thought there was something off about the army hospital and the Hendershot woman's delivery. That's enough for me."
Scully's hands tightened on the narrow arms of the chair. That was more credence than she had allowed Mulder at this stage of her partnership with him. Maybe if she had given him a little more support from the beginning things might have turned out differently. She shook her head angrily. Second guessing her actions over the past eight years was not going to help anyone now. "Nothing to connect Parenti?" she couldn't help but ask, her stomach churning. He was the most likely possibility if someone had tampered with her in vitro fertilization.
"Nope," Doggett replied. "The Haskills saw him once or twice, but there's no record that he was involved in her actual pregnancy." He remembered Scully saying that Parenti was her doctor. "How'd you get to him?" he asked as off-handedly as he could.
She debated answering him. Every instinct told her to keep the details of her personal life to herself. Some of it was just her natural sense of privacy, and some of it was healthy paranoia. She didn't know that much about him, and she had no idea who her friends, or enemies, in the Bureau might be. But he already knew that Parenti was her doctor. She'd told him so herself. "I was referred to him by my personal gynecologist."
"Do you trust _him_?" he asked pointedly.
"Her," Scully corrected. "And yes, I do." Jenny Grannick was a classmate of Marsh's and an old friend. She couldn't be involved in a conspiracy to tamper with embryos.
Doggett was silent, taking a paper from a stack beside his right hand. He read from it. "Marshall Ellen Black. MD Harvard - 1981, two years with the Bureau - 81 to 83, then a surgery residency at Maryland Shock Trauma. Chief of trauma at Memorial since 1993."
He looked up into the coldest blue eyes he had ever seen. "She's your lover, right?"
Scully's voice was totally uninflected as she said slowly, "We had a discussion about my personal file just a few weeks ago, Agent Doggett. I thought I was very clear as to what was off limits."
"Fair enough, Agent Scully," he said just as quietly, his eyes holding hers. "But this isn't _in_ your personal file. This is just plain old-fashioned police work. Deductive reasoning." He took a breath and something in his face softened. "My sister is a prosecutor in Manhattan, and her lover teaches art history at NYU. They have two kids. They each gave birth to one of them."
She said nothing. She didn't care if he knew about Marsh or not, but she wasn't about to reveal herself to him. He might be her partner now, but he would never be Mulder. She might trust John Doggett with her life, but she doubted she would ever trust him with something as precious as her feelings for Marsh. "Is this conversation going somewhere, Agent Doggett?"
He sighed. "If your relationship with Dr. Black were known, and someone wanted to steer you in a certain direction -- toward a certain _doctor_, they might use connections of hers to do it." A look of alarm flashed across Scully's face before she could control it, and he added quickly, "I'm not saying that _did_ happen, but if you're looking for links, you might look there."
She glanced at her watch and got just the slightest bit unsteadily to her feet. "You're a good investigator, Agent Doggett, but I think you're on the wrong track here. Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got a plane to catch."
As she headed for the door, he called after her, "I know how to do my job, Agent Scully. Let me help you!"
She didn't answer. Marsh was waiting at the airfield, and all she wanted at that moment was to see her. They would know soon if there was something to fear.
Brigham and Women's Hospital
Boston, Mass 10:13AM
Marsh took her hand, squeezed her fingers lightly. "You ready?"
Scully nodded, her eyes on Marsh's face. It was so much easier this time, with Marsh there. She was still frightened, but the lonely terror was gone. She turned her face to see the ultrasound imaging screen and then glanced down at the slight rise in her lower abdomen. There was a small red incision from the last amniocentesis puncture and faint white scars from where the extraction probes had entered to remove her ova. The fertility specialist Marsh had contacted in Boston hadn't wanted to do another amnio so soon after the one done at Walden-Freedman Army Hospital, but Scully had insisted. She needed the truth and she needed it quickly. She was almost fifteen weeks pregnant. They had to make a decision soon. She answered, her voice steady. "I'm ready."
Marsh leaned close, the faint familiar scent of her an unexpected comfort. Her lips just brushed Scully's ear. "I love you, Dana."
Scully watched the long, thin steel needle descend toward her skin and closed her eyes.
"She'll sleep for a few more minutes," the white-coated woman assured Marsh, who hadn't wanted to leave the room in case Dana awoke sooner than expected.
"How soon before you know?" Marsh asked, her voice husky with concern.
"The scanned images looked fine. Nothing particularly alarming in the anatomic development," the doctor said. "It would help if you could tell me what I'm looking for."
Marsh frowned in frustration. She glanced through the observation window. Dana was sleeping, her face smooth and peaceful. Marsh knew that as soon as Dana awakened, her eyes would cloud with worry and the undercurrent of fear that never left her. Nothing would remove that anxiety except proving, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the fetus Dana carried was human, and nothing else. "There's a possibility that the in vitro process was contaminated with foreign DNA."
The fertility specialist's eyebrows rose in astonishment. "What _kind_ of DNA, exactly?"
Into the heavy silence, the doctor finally said, "Well." She cleared her throat. "You're asking for a lot more than the genetic karyotyping and DNA fingerprinting that we usually do. You're talking DNA sequencing, which is going to be difficult on the small quantities that we can isolate from the amnio specimen, even with amplification techniques."
"How accurate can you be?" Marsh persisted.
"Hard to say. If there is anything less than ten percent - uh - nonhuman DNA, we might miss it in the sampling process." She shrugged. "Hell, Marsh, I'm just guessing. If it's something small, we'll never see it."
Marsh nodded, her expression grim. "Do what you can in the time that we have. Three weeks, four at the outside." It hurt just to think about it. "I need to go back inside. Dana will be awake soon."
The doctor stopped Marsh with a hand on her arm. "If it's bad news, do you want me to call you first with the results?"
Marsh looked at her lover again and thought about all Dana had suffered, of all she had lost, and of all she might lose. Marsh wanted to protect her with every fiber of her being. She ached to erase every hurt ever done to her. Her voice was low, choked, when she answered, "No. Call her first."
Scully looked up as the bedroom door opened and smiled as Marsh approached the bed with a tray. She started to swing her legs out from under the covers when Marsh stopped her with a shake of her head.
"Stay put. You're supposed to be resting."
"I can get up," Scully protested gently. "I want to see your mother and grandfather. It's been so long since we've been here."
Marsh deposited the tray on the nightstand and settled carefully onto the bed beside her lover, leaning back against the pillows and slipping one arm around Scully's shoulders. "One full day of bedrest. You can see them at breakfast tomorrow."
Scully moved away so that she could see Marsh's face. "Did you tell them?"
Marsh's eyes flickered away for a second, then she met Scully's questioning gaze. "No. I thought I'd wait a bit."
"Oh, Marsh," Scully breathed softly. She knew why Marsh hadn't told her family about the pregnancy. Everything was too uncertain, and it would be several more weeks before they had any concrete assurances that the fetus was normal. "I'm sorry. This should be such a happy time for you, for _us_, and it's been nothing but fear and worry."
"Hey!" Marsh exclaimed, unable to hide her frustration. "This isn't your fault! You're not responsible --" She suddenly clamped down on her anger and took a steadying breath. Dana did not need to deal with _her_ feelings now. Dana needed to get through the next torturous weeks of waiting as calmly as possible. "We don't know that anything is wrong. In fact, we have every reason to think things are okay. The ultrasound today was fine."
Scully remained silent. She knew how worried Marsh was, despite her positive words. She had awakened several times in the past week to find Marsh missing from the bed. Once she had gone to look for her and found her on the sofa, just sitting alone in the dark. Worst of all, despite Marsh's attentiveness, Scully sensed an uncertainty between them that had never been there before. Leaving Marsh to go to her mother's had been a mistake, even though at the time it seemed like a good idea. Now she wasn't sure how to undo the hurt. Even though Marsh didn't mention it, and seemed to have let it go, Scully sensed the barriers. Being estranged from Marsh was worse than all the other fears put together.
"Marsh," she said quietly at last.
"Hmm?" Marsh replied, absently stroking her fingers through Scully's hair.
"I miss you."
Marsh stiffened, her hand stilling on Scully's hair. She wanted to protest, to make excuses, to say there was nothing wrong. But she couldn't. She knew what Dana was feeling, because she felt it too. She was lonely in a way that she had not been lonely since the day they had met. Her skin ached for Dana's touch, but it was in some deeper place that she needed to be soothed. She closed her eyes for the briefest instant, struggling to separate the past from the present. Old terrors plagued her, but Dana was here, now, and she needed her.
Marsh turned so that the length of her body rested lightly against Scully's. She stroked her cheek tenderly and brushed her lips over Scully's. Then she drew back, her expression serious, her charcoal eyes darkening to black. "It's my fault -"
"No," Scully admonished softly, tracing her fingers down the edge of Marsh's jaw. "No, it's not. I never meant to hurt you."
"I know," Marsh said quickly. "I do. It's just -" She rested her forehead lightly against Scully's, her voice low and heavy with memory. "I was scared. I thought - you might not come back. I can still feel it. The fear. It makes it hard for me to breathe. I want to touch you and I can't move my hand."
Scully took Marsh's hand and placed it on her breast. "I love you."
"I love you, too," Marsh whispered, gently palming the soft gift. "I'm sorry - I'm trying."
"You have fourteen hours to work on it."
Marsh's pulled back in surprise. "What?"
Scully met her gaze. "We have to refrain from sex for twentyfour hours after the amnio. Ten down - fourteen to go."
A faint smile began to pull at one end of Marsh's mouth. "Is that your prescription for what ails me?"
"No," Scully replied, suddenly as serious as Marsh had been a moment before. "It's my prescription for what ails _me_. I need you back. I can't do this without you. All of you."
A pulse began to pound in Marsh's neck and her breath caught, pleasantly this time. A familiar heat started, unbidden, in her thighs and rose quickly to the base of her spine.
"Now I'll never sleep," Marsh complained laughingly, that husky note that Scully knew foreshadowed passion creeping into her voice.
Scully's hand drifted down the length of Marsh's leg and back up, fingertips digging lightly into the denim. "We could fix that, I'll bet."
Marsh caught her hand and brought it to her lips, kissing the palm slowly. "Let's wait until the morning."
Scully nodded, aware for the first time how very tired she was. She rested her cheek against Marsh's shoulder and closed her eyes. "Okay. Don't go anywhere for a while, though."
"I won't," Marsh whispered, her lips gentle on Scully's forehead. "Not ever."
She was lying facedown, arms curled around the pillow, drifting in that state between sleep and awakening, when she heard the soft fall of footsteps on the carpet drawing near. An instant later a whisper of warmth touched her neck. Eyes still closed, she murmured, "What time is it?"
"Not time yet," Marsh answered, her voice low. The mattress dipped gently as she climbed onto the bed and settled next to Scully, lifting the blankets enough to slide underneath. She smoothed one hand down the length of Scully's back, ending at the small dip just above the rounded rise of her buttocks. "We have two hours to go."
Scully smiled. "Then take your hands off me."
"Oh," Marsh responded quietly, moving her palm lower over the firm muscles that tightened automatically at her touch, "I don't think so." She leaned down, kissing the tender skin at the corner of Scully's eye, then moved her lips slowly back until her breath circled over the delicate edge of her lover's ear.
Scully shifted her legs, pressing her hips indolently against the bed as heat kindled in her very center. She tried to concentrate on the single spot where Marsh's tongue now flickered, ignoring the other places lower on her body where the sensations seemed to be settling. She was aware of Marsh's skin along the length of her, cool from her shower, and the faint weight of Marsh's body resting ever so carefully upon her. She didn't want to think about those things, because feeling that much of Marsh all at once always pushed her too high too fast. And this morning she knew that they weren't hurrying.
"Oh," Scully gasped as Marsh pulled her earlobe delicately between her teeth and bit gently.
"Mmm," Marsh agreed. She extended her arms along the length of Scully's, linking her fingers with those of her lover. Her breasts brushed lightly along Scully's back, and her nipples tightened from the contact. The swift spasm of arousal that followed distracted her for an instant and she sucked the fleshy lobule harder. Scully's surprised groan was accompanied by an upward thrust of her hips that brought Marsh's clitoris to stiff attention.
"Cut it out," Marsh admonished softly, her voice catching. She moved her hips away from Scully's body. The pressure was too enticing, and she wasn't nearly finished with what she had in mind.
"Your fault," Scully breathed, opening her eyes finally and turning enough to catch Marsh's gaze. Marsh's charcoal eyes were smoky, swirling with something darker than desire. "You cheated."
Marsh smiled and moved her mouth to the back of Scully's neck, licking slowly down the ridge of her spine. "How so?" she questioned absently. She was thinking how fine the tiny hairs were just between Scully's shoulder blades, and how they tingled against her tongue. She pressed her lips closer and nibbled on them, grazing skin. Scully jerked under her again.
"The bites," Scully managed after a moment. "You know it goes straight through me."
"Not exactly _through_ you," Marsh laughed. "Straight between your legs, maybe." She punctuated her remark with another dainty pull of flesh against teeth, this time at the lower edge of Scully's rib cage. She had eased her way down Scully's body as she explored with teeth and tongue, and now she lay with one leg between Scully's, her own wetness caressing the warmth of Scully's thigh. The slow movement of her distended clitoris against skin had brought the blood pounding through her chest. The muscles in her legs were trembling. She sighed and slipped her hands from Scully's arms, insinuating them under and around Scully's body until she was cradling her breasts.
Scully couldn't separate one sensation from the other now. There was the soft caress of lips in the hollow at the base of her spine, and the press of tongue into the top of the cleft between her buttocks, and the sudden swift pinpoint of pleasure in her nipples as Marsh's fingers found her.
"Oh," she cried again, a fist of need twisting in her belly.
Marsh heard the faint note of pain in her voice and raised her head. "Are you all right?"
"God, yes," Scully groaned. "Hot. I need you soon."
Marsh smiled to herself. She brought her hands down to Scully's hips and moved away, turning Scully onto her back. "Another hour. Doctor's orders."
Scully's blue eyes widened. She raised up enough to catch a handful of Marsh's thick hair in her fingers and pulled Marsh's face down to her breast. "I'll kill you."
Marsh didn't answer. The pressure of Scully's hand against her neck and the urgent tone in Scully's voice triggered another series of spasms between her own legs. It would have been so much easier if she weren't so ready herself. She ran her tongue over tense nipples, teasing the already erect flesh into harder knots. She rhythmically squeezed the swollen breasts, dimly aware of their pregnant weight in her palms. Her hips were thrusting slowly against Scully's leg of their own volition.
Scully bore it as long as she could, but each second that Marsh lingered over her breasts brought another heartbeat of blood pounding into her pelvis. She was going to explode. She brought her other hand into Marsh's hair and pulled Marsh's face up and away from her body. Their eyes met and she whispered fiercely, "I can't wait."
Marsh grinned that infuriatingly handsome grin and pushed herself up on her arms, her body hovering just above Scully's. She lowered her head for an instant to kiss her, then pushed down far enough to settle her chest between Scully's parted thighs. She rested her cheek against the swell of Scully's abdomen and allowed herself a brief moment of rejoicing. It would be all right. It would.
Marsh turned her head and kissed the tender spot at the base of Scully's belly where the bend of her thigh began. She loved that spot -- sensitive, sensuous -- always hidden, except to her. Suddenly, she caught the intoxicating scent of her, the essence of her, and it fanned the smoldering heat into flames that flashed deep inside her, through her legs, up her spine.
Marsh groaned. Her hands came to Scully's thighs, her fingers gripping hard enough to leave faint marks. She pressed her face to the sweet warm triangle of slick skin and welcoming wetness and surrendered. She loved to be this close to her, nearly surrounded by her -- she was completely and totally unaware of anything else. For seconds, moments, a lifetime - she was safe.
Scully arched against Marsh's face, her hands falling helplessly to her sides. She closed her eyes and waited, poised for the first piercing touch of lips. She could sense Marsh against her, but she needed much more than that. "Your mouth," she gasped. "I need to be in your mouth."
There was not even a breath between them then. Marsh took her gently between her lips, but she did not give her everything, not yet. She licked slowly between swollen folds of tender flesh, running her tongue ever so carefully over the sensitive spots that wrenched a cry from Scully's throat, and sucked at the blood-stiffened bundle of nerves until Scully's entire body shivered with tension.
"Please--" Scully whispered faintly, poised so tenuously on the precipice that she needed only the slightest caress to send her over. Lights danced behind her closed lids and somewhere far away she heard herself keening.
After reaching this point together so many times, their bodies joined effortlessly, hearts beating and breath flowing as one. Marsh sometimes led, sometimes followed, but this day she simply gave. She promised her forever with each stroke of her tongue and whispered assurances with each caress of her hands. It would be all right. It would.
Scully bit back a scream and shuddered. It went on for a long time, so long she had to gasp for air when she could finally breathe again. By then she was in Marsh's arms, her face cradled against Marsh's chest. She loved coming back to herself this way, pressed against her, listening to Marsh's heart thud erratically, wildly, under her ear.
"I love you," Marsh murmured, rocking her without meaning to. She would not let anyone hurt her, ever again. She would not.
"Marsh," Scully said softly when she was able. "Sometimes I don't know the best way to love you. But I always do. Always."
Marsh rested her chin against the top of Scully's head, her eyes closed, just feeling her. "I know," Marsh answered. "I know."
Scully stretched as the blood returned to her legs. She lazily turned her head and checked the bedside clock. "Hmm. We still have a little while til curfew's up."
Marsh laughed. "I think we blew that already."
"Unh unh," Scully said more firmly now. "I'm still in bed. That was the important part."
"Hungry?" Marsh asked, starting to move away.
Scully's arms tightened around her. "Not just yet." She ran the fingers of her left hand down Marsh's abdomen and smiled at Marsh's swift intake of breath. "Just hold me for a while longer."
Marsh tucked Scully's head against her shoulder, but her mind was on the descent of Scully's hand. She lifted one knee slightly, easing the pressure on the still swollen places between her legs. "Uh," she mumbled as Scully slid her fingers lower still.
"Just be still. I want to do this nice and slow," Scully murmured, eyes closed, still basking, supremely content. There were moments, precious few and all the more precious because of that, when she had no thought of anything except Marsh. This was one of those times. She found her wet and very close to ready.
She circled and stroked and gently pressed her, backing away just enough each time Marsh's limbs grew taut to keep her from coming. But each time when she began the movements again, Marsh was one step nearer to orgasm.
Eventually Marsh's entire body trembled with tension, and her hands on Scully's body convulsed lightly. "Dana," she murmured hoarsely into Scully's hair. "Let me, please."
Scully felt Marsh's body lift a little off the bed as each muscle flickered with random, disjointed motion - teetering on the verge of one explosive contraction. When she heard the breath in Marsh's chest stop she knew there could be no turning back. She rolled her fingers, steady and sure, over the exquisitely sensitive tip and caressed along the rigid length of her. And that was enough -- too much -- too good.
Marsh's breath burst forth on a long guttural groan. Scully kept her hand on her even after she began to relax, amazed once again by the small forceful pulsations that beat in perfect time with Marsh's pounding heartbeat. She realized that she had been holding her breath too and took a deep swallow of air redolent with the sensuous scent of them.
"I told you that I'd missed you," Scully murmured as they lay with their arms still around each other.
"Mmm," Marsh answered, barely able to move. "It's almost worth your going away."
Scully raised her head, a playful challenge in her eyes. "Oh yeah?"
Marsh brought her dark eyes to her lover's. "Almost," she whispered, "but not quite."
"I'll remember," Scully said softly. "I promise."
Boston 2:20 PM
Marsh leaned against the French doors in the living room and watched her lover walk arm and arm with her grandfather on the rear patio. It was the kind of clear cold day when the sunlight seemed impossibly bright, and from a distance, Dana glowed. Marsh turned her head as her mother stepped up beside her.
"What do you suppose they're talking about?" Marsh said absently, thinking she was glad that Dana was taking time off. Dana needed it. They both needed it. Dana needed to rest and regain her strength, emotionally and physically, for whatever was to come, and, Marsh admitted to herself, _she_ needed just a few weeks when she wasn't constantly wondering what was happening to her lover. What new danger Dana was in or what additional emotional burden she was being forced to bear.
"I imagine he's still trying to solicit her aid in convincing you to come work in the business," Claire Black answered, although she didn't think Marsh really heard. She studied her daughter, noting that Marsh looked thinner. There was more than that, though. There was a tense wariness about her that was worrisome. Claire's gaze followed Marsh's to the woman outside. She was beautiful, Claire thought, not for the first time. Elegant, strong, determined - and she loved Marsh.
"She's pregnant, isn't she?" Claire remarked quietly.
Marsh's eyes never left Scully's face. "Yes."
"Problems?" her mother asked gently, resting her hand on Marsh's arm.
"I don't know," Marsh said, her voice flat, almost empty. "Possibly."
Claire's heart twisted as she felt the muscles under her fingers tremble. She couldn't help thinking of the terrible consequences the last time tragedy had struck someone Marsh loved. "You'll tell me, won't you," she asked, "if there's something wrong?"
Marsh looked at her then, but her eyes were unreadable. "If I can."
Before Claire could continue, the doors opened and Scully came in, her phone in her hand, followed by Marsh's grandfather. She looked at Marsh, an apology in her eyes. "I'm sorry. John Doggett just called. He says Skinner wants me to come in. He says it's an emergency."
Marsh just nodded, then turned away as she said, "I'll call the airport and have them get the plane ready."
Scully looked after her, then said to Claire, "I'm sorry that we have to leave so soon."
"I understand," Claire said graciously. As Scully began to move away, Claire added, "You will be careful, won't you?"
Scully turned, studying the woman who looked so much like her lover. There was kindness in those lovely charcoal eyes, but something else as well. *She's worried about Marsh. What did she see that I didn't?*
"Yes, I will," Scully said firmly. She was making a lot of promises these days. She wondered if she would be able to keep them.
Day One 5:15pm
FBI Headquarters Washington DC
She took a deep breath and dialed the familiar number. She tried to think of what she would say, and she came up blank. One part of her mind, a large part, was numb. Numb from too much emotion. She was still trying to absorb what Skinner and Doggett had just told her. What she had wanted for months, prayed for for months, might be about to happen. They had a lead, a real lead - that could help them find him. Finally they were doing something, not just waiting. She had to go. What choice did she have. She didn't _want_ a choice. She _wanted_ to go. Had to go.
"Marsh?" she said when they were finally connected. She could see her, leaning against the doorway, phone in hand, probably still in the jeans and black tee-shirt that she had worn while flying them home. *Oh god, please let her understand this. Please let her be all right with this*
"Hey," Marsh said, carefully, cautiously. She had dropped Dana off at the Bureau not even an hour before, and every minute since watching her walk away, she had spent worrying. Whatever the reason that Skinner had summoned Dana back, it had to be serious. "How are you?"
Scully cleared her throat, held the receiver tighter. "Marsh, I have to go out of town."
Marsh closed her eyes. This could not be happening. "When?"
"Now." The silence was worse than a condemnation. "Doggett and Skinner are waiting."
"Where are you going?" Marsh asked, a dull ache starting inside. It almost didn't matter, because it was already done. Dana was already on her way. The phone call was a formality.
"Montana," Scully admitted, unable to keep the excitement from her voice. She didn't want to say it out loud, almost afraid that giving voice to the possibility would be tempting fate, but she couldn't help but hope. Hope had been the only thing that had kept her from screaming every time she thought about Mulder.
"Dana," Marsh said, struggling for composure, "the last few weeks have been hard. You had a second amniocentesis thirty-six hours ago. You should not be doing field work. At least for a few days. Can't this wait?"
"It's Mulder, Marsh. At least," she said quietly, "it might be." Still, afraid to hope _too_ much. She wasn't sure how much more disappointment she could take. All she had been able to think about for so long had been the nightmare possibility that something was wrong with the baby. She was nearly paralyzed with the fear and anger of having been victimized again. Now at least, she could _do_ something. _She_ could take control. _She_ could fight back. "I need to find out, Marsh."
Mulder. Always there, in Dana's thoughts. Always with them. Marsh walked to the window, looked down across the avenue to the park. The streetlights atop solitary iron posts were coming on, illuminating the deserted paths between the still barren shrubbery. A cold and empty night. She carefully kept her voice neutral, listening to the information in the remote way she might a report from one of her residents. Trying hard not to allow the feelings of helplessness to surface. "What's happened?"
Scully spoke quickly, forcing aside her own doubts. "One of the abductees has been found - Theresa Hosey. She was the woman in Bellefleur who disappeared just before Mulder was -- taken."
Marsh heard the hesitation in her voice, and knew instantly that she was frightened. Marsh rubbed her eyes, struggling to understand what this news must mean for Dana. The only thing that ever eclipsed her own anger was the sound of Dana suffering. "Has she said anything? Explained where's she's been?"
"No," Scully replied, unable to prevent the slight quiver in her words. "She's unconscious, and the only medical report I have says she's in critical condition." The way Skinner had said it left her with the feeling that there was more he knew and wasn't telling her. Her stomach fluttered with anxiety. "We need to get there in a hurry."
It was bad, Marsh could tell. Goddamn it! Another tragedy, another horror Dana would have to face. She forcibly unclenched her jaw as it began to ache. "I want to come with you."
Scully took a deep breath. She glanced at the clock. She had already taken more time than she could spare. "Thank you - for wanting to. I'll be all right. Don't worry."
Marsh laughed harshly. "For God's sake, Dana. What do you expect me to do? Just wait?"
"Marsh," Scully answered softly, shrugging into her coat, juggling the phone as she reached for her briefcase. There was no point in saying what they both knew was true. She had to go, and she needed Marsh to be there when she returned. "I love you. I'll call you as soon as I can."
"Be careful," Marsh said fervently as the receiver clicked and silence surrounded her. "I love you, too," she finished softly.
Twelve Hours Later
"Are you busy?" Scully asked, fighting to keep the weariness from her voice.
"Just finishing rounds," Marsh answered, turning her back to the people milling about at the central desk in the Trauma Unit. "Where are you?"
"In a motel outside of Helena, Montana," Scully said, glancing around the small, dreary box of a room. Another bleak, featureless room, another long lonely night ahead. She had lost count of all the nights she had spent in places like this. Being with Mulder had always made it a little easier to take, even if it meant she had to endure his taste in videos.
Marsh didn't need to see her face to feel her discouragement. "No news?"
"None of it good," Scully reported, giving in to fatigue. She sat down on the edge of the narrow bed and stared at her own refection in the mirror above the dresser. Her eyes were hollow with disappointment and despair. "Theresa Hosey is alive, but no one is quite sure why. She shouldn't be. She was -- tortured."
That was a mild, almost civilized term for what had been done to her. Insane incisions, organs removed, tissues damaged. Scully closed her eyes, but the memory of Theresa's face and body, of the violations, remained.
Marsh's heart twisted at the words, and at the knowledge of what this must be doing to Dana. "Dana," she said softly, "you can't know that this has anything to do with Mulder."
Scully didn't answer. It was far too late for rationalizations, no matter how reasonable. She had seen what was done to Theresa. It was inhuman. Theresa was dying. If they had done that to Mulder - her mind skittered away from the image. She just could not allow the thought to form in her mind or she would be paralyzed by the horror of it. "We have some leads - maybe a witness. I'm going to interrogate him tomorrow and drive out to look at the site where Theresa was discovered."
She just needed to concentrate on what must be done. She was an investigator. She would search, and she would find the answers. She had to.
"Dana," Marsh said quietly, "I'm sorry."
"For what?" Scully asked.
"For how hard this is for you. For how hard it's been." She pushed a hand through her hair, wanting to kick something out of sheer frustration. "Because I can't do anything to make this better."
Scully laughed, a short hollow laugh totally without mirth. "Oh, Marsh. You can't make this better - no one can. But you are the only thing in my life I count on. You make _me_ better."
Marsh closed her eyes for an instant, a wave of longing so intense it hurt. "I love you so much."
"I love you, too."
Scully put down the phone and curled up on top of the bed, hoping that she could sleep. She didn't want to think any more. She didn't want to see Theresa Hosey's body and imagine Mulder's face. She prayed she wouldn't dream.
Prayers frequently go unanswered.
Day Three 3:30PM MST
"It's Black," she said impatiently. "I haven't been able to reach Dana all day. Is she all right?"
He hesitated because he was still unsettled about the events of the previous evening. In the eight years that he'd been associated with Dana Scully, he could count on one hand the times she had reached out to anyone for comfort or support. He assumed there were moments when Mulder had been there for her, but when and where that might have been, he didn't know. They were always very careful to keep their personal relationship private. What she shared with Marsh was even more guarded. When he'd opened his door in the middle of the night to find her standing on the threshold in the dark, trembling, he hadn't known what to do. Very few things in his life had ever taken him so by surprise, nor made him feel so inadequate.
She had looked at him, and said tremulously, "What if he's dead?"
He'd looked back at her, unable to think of the words that might offer her solace. In the next instant she had been embarrassed, telling him that she was sorry and that she had just had a bad dream. But she had made no move to leave, her eyes pleading with him for help. The pain in her blue eyes had been so much like the agony in Marsh's that day in the midst of chaos when she had knelt on the ground holding Karen in her arms, beseeching him to change fate. He had stood nearly frozen then, and he felt very much the same way now. He had not been able to offer Marsh anything then, and the next day she had nearly died. Looking at Scully, all he could think was that he could not let her face this alone.
"Let me get some clothes on," he had said, and a few moments later they were standing together searching the night sky for hope. He knew what she was saying when she gazed at the stars and wished that somewhere a person's soul would live forever. He had held her then, and offered her every false hope that he could muster.
"Walter?" Marsh asked, struggling with her rising panic. "Is she all right?"
Skinner cleared his throat and said more brusquely then he intended, "She's fine, Black. Doggett's with her right now reviewing the case."
"Is there any progress?" she asked, relief warring with an uneasy feeling that no one was telling her the entire truth.
"Not much," he said, discouragement heavy in his voice. "Doggett brought in another behavioral expert, but I'm not sure how much help she's going to be."
"It would be good if it took a little pressure off Dana," Marsh said, knowing that Dana would not want her to interfere, but unable to quell her own concerns.
Skinner thought about the meeting they had had that morning with Doggett's contact from the New Orleans field office. "Well, Doggett seems to know this agent from previous cases and thinks she can help. He trusts her, and I guess that's something. I'm not sure that Scully is going to be so open to her opinions."
"What's your take on her?" Marsh asked, thinking that too many times in the past friends had suddenly become foes. It wasn't wise to trust too easily.
Skinner shrugged. "Let's just say I'm reserving judgment until I know a little more."
"I might be able to help you out in that department," Marsh commented, reminded of the conversation she had had with Lara Means. Lara had mentioned that Doggett was been getting information from another agent with far-reaching contacts within the Bureau, someone he had worked with on a previous case. It would be too much of a coincidence if this weren't the same person.
Skinner imagined that being left behind, especially at a time when Scully was so vulnerable, must be tearing Marsh apart. One thing he knew about Marshall Black was that she did not accept passivity well. She did what she did because she needed to make a difference with her own hands. Waiting must be torture for her. The other thing he knew was that he trusted her more than he trusted any other person except Scully, and at this point he needed all the information he could get.
"If you get anything, contact me." Then he added softly, "I'll tell her you called."
"Thank you, Walter," Marsh said, already searching her memory for the number Lara had given her if she ever needed to reach her.
Five minutes later she had a date for dinner with Lara Means.
St Jean Hospital Helena, Montana
"You don't have to do this," Skinner hissed, his hand on her arm, stopping her one step away from the door that declared: "Restricted Entry - Morgue".
Her eyes met his, blazing. "I _do_ need to do this. I need to _know_. If this is what was done to him, I need to _know_."
"At least let the pathologist here do the autopsy. You can review his findings," he insisted, a note of desperation in his voice. Agent Reyes had found another abductee. Only this time it was a body. The boy was dead when she found him out in the hills. And they needed to know what had been done to him. He didn't want to watch this even from a distance, let alone with the detail that Scully would need to examine each mark and bruise, chronicling every indignity and cruelty. There were some things that went above and beyond the call of duty.
"There's work that needs to be done here," she said, her voice low and strained. She steeled herself and pushed through the large double doors into the harshly lit room arrayed with gleaming steel tables and trays of orderly precision instruments. For a moment she thought of Marsh, and the operating room where she reigned. But Marsh wielded her weapons to defeat death, whereas she, she brought her skills and talents to the edge of the grave in an attempt to understand it.
She took a breath and brought her full attention to bear on the body before her. If Mulder was somewhere enduring these same torments at this very moment, the least she could do was look. Really look. As she began her external examination, measuring, recording, and documenting the nature and extent of the injuries in a detached clinical fashion, her concentration began to waver. She saw flashes of her own nightmares, of strangers and white lights and wisps of pain spearing her flesh. She looked up from the incision on the abdomen and for a second she saw Mulder's face on the corpse. She blinked, struggling to clear her vision, fighting to keep her voice steady.
Doggett watched her warily as she worked. He hadn't wanted to believe any of the mumbo-jumbo about aliens and abductions and people who could be in two places at one time, but he couldn't fight Skinner and Scully and Reyes, too. He couldn't hold on to a single thread that led to anything substantial. He was floundering, and watching Scully bleed was making him miserable. When she nearly broke while describing the horrors visited upon the boy lying on the table, he had to walk out.
Washington, DC 5:15pm
Marsh had been struggling to stop the bleeding for the better part of an hour. The bullet, at least one of them, had torn through the transverse colon on its way to penetrating the vena cava and shattering the right kidney. She had packed off the bowel with large gauze sponges so she could suction the clots and search for the hole in the large vein that ran along the back wall of the abdominal cavity.
"His pressure is falling," the anesthesiologist announced as if Marsh could do a damn thing about it.
"Well, give him more blood," she grunted as she tried to free up the lacerated segment of vessel to get a clamp around it. "Will somebody please get another suction in here? I can't see a thing."
She maneuvered the long curved vascular clamp under the damaged vein, praying it wouldn't tear. "And call urology and see if they want to try to save what's left of this kidney."
The phone rang and the circulating nurse picked it up. She listened for a second, then snapped, "She's scrubbed."
Marsh glanced up at the monitors over the anesthesia machine, checking to see if the blood pressure had stabilized. Better.
"Dr. Black," the nurse called.
"What?" Marsh asked, holding out her right hand. "Five-0 prolene on a vascular needle, please." Her eyes were fixed on the jagged hole in the vena cava.
"Your office says there's an emergency call for you."
"Tell them I'm busy," she said irritably.
"Someone named Skinner -" the circulator continued.
Marsh's stomach tightened as if she had been struck. She straightened abruptly and looked to see that the pressure was holding. "Tell them I'll take it in five minutes. STAT page Susan Carter and get her up here."
Then she turned back to the open abdomen, set her jaw, and started to suture.
Helena, Montana Evening
Skinner surveyed the team surrounding him in the small crowded makeshift conference room. It had taken only five hours to get the HRT together. The SWAT commander stood bristling with high tech armament, barely able to contain his enthusiasm. Doggett looked grim and Scully looked like she wouldn't wait another minute. She had been urging him to move since the moment Special Agent Reyes had pinpointed a deserted farm where the abductees or cult members or whoever they might be were hiding. Scully had wanted to go immediately, and he had asked Doggett to watch her. He was afraid she might try to go alone. He looked toward the door as the last unit coordinator walked in. Marshall Black stared back, her eyes dark and devoid of expression.
"Let's get started, then," he said. "In addition to a known fugitive by the name of Absalom, there are civilians at this compound, probably a large number of them. We don't know who, if anyone, is armed." He looked at Scully, then continued grimly, "There may be one or more severely injured individuals as well. Possibly one of our own."
He pointed to a rough diagram of the site based on old survey maps they had obtained from the county. "HRT will go in first to secure the area. The medical team will follow them to evaluate and evacuate any injured. Detain everyone who is ambulatory for questioning."
He finished reviewing the plan for the assault and finally instructed the commanders to assemble their teams. As everyone began to file out, Marsh moved forward through the group until she reached Dana's side.
Scully gazed at Marsh with a mixture of irritation and concern. Marsh looked exhausted and had probably been up for twenty-four hours straight, knowing her. Plus, this was no easy mission, and the last thing she wanted was to have to worry about Mulder _and_ Marsh. She needed every bit of her willpower just to keep herself together as it was. Her anxiety made her tone harder than she had intended. "What are you doing here? Skinner should never have called you here on this."
"There is a major hostage situation developing. There is the possibility for multiple casualties, both among the civilians and the agents. This has mass trauma potential, and that's my job. That's why I'm here," Marsh said, careful to keep her tone neutral. It was clear to her that Dana hadn't been sleeping, and probably hadn't been eating, and that she was teetering on the verge of collapse.
"I need to go," Scully said, starting to step past her. She stopped when Marsh put a hand on her arm, and she resisted the urge to pull away. Instead she looked up into Marsh's eyes with a plea in her own. "Try to understand," she whispered. "I _know_ he's out there."
"Then let Doggett and Skinner find him," Marsh responded, a hard edge to her voice. "Just this once, Dana, put something before the job."
"Don't you mean put _you_ before the job?" Scully asked, too fragmented with fear for Mulder and the kaleidoscoping images of tortured bodies and mutilated fetuses to think what she was saying.
Marsh's dark eyes became opaque as she stiffened. "Yes, maybe I am talking about me. And you. And the baby. Let someone else do it this time."
"Don't ask me this," Scully said harshly, her voice breaking on the crest of fear and anger. "Not now." It wasn't about the job. In many ways it wasn't even about Mulder. Not _just_ Mulder. It was about making certain that what had been done to her would not be done to others. It was about standing up to the evil that could reach into people's lives and twist the beauty into something monstrous and abhorrent.
Marsh nodded curtly, her expression remote. "Wear a vest, Agent Scully," she said as she turned away. "At least do that."
As they parted, moving in opposite directions to join their respective teams, each of them struggled to hide the pain.
Then they both did their jobs. Marsh didn't see Scully after the first flurry of activity. In the darkness, dozens of armed commandos stormed the complex outside of Helena. Agents shouted warnings and civilians screamed. Everywhere people were running. Watching the front line move across the deserted ground toward the main buildings, Marsh could make out Skinner and Doggett and Dana, flashlights and weapons in hand. She expected gunfire at any second. In some part of her, she expected bloodshed and death. She waited, her life on hold as she watched the figures streaming through the shattered doorways, ghostly and surreal. Karen had died in bright sunlight, her blood a brilliant red on Marsh's hands, staining the ground around them a rich maroon. Blood in the moonlight would look black.
When the 'all clear' came, Marsh moved forward with the medical personnel and was quickly immersed in evaluating the dozens of people inside the building. Many appeared to be recovering from some illness in small cubicles, and she moved quickly from one to another ascertaining which victims needed attention. At one point she glanced up from examing a young woman to find Scully staring at her. Their eyes met, but neither spoke. Then Scully was gone and Marsh went back to work.
"Are you Dr. Black?" a voice interrupted her.
Marsh looked away from the paramedic with whom she had been discussing evacuation strategy to see a tall dark-haired woman wearing an FBI identification badge clipped to her jacket lapel. "Yes."
The woman extended her hand and said simultaneously, "I'm Special Agent Monica Reyes. AD Skinner wants you to come with me, please."
Marsh's heart lurched. She barely had time to register that this was the woman Lara had told her about only the night before. "Why? Is there some problem? I need to finish up here."
Reyes took Marsh's arm and said to her quietly, "It's about Agent Mulder. We found him."
Marsh knew the rest of it without asking. "Oh my God. I have to find Dana."
"AD Skinner just went to get her."
"Where is Mulder?" Marsh said frantically. "I need to be there with her."
"Come with me," Reyes said, and they both started off into the night.
They were twenty yards away when Marsh heard Dana scream. The agony in her voice pierced Marsh's heart. She was nearly at the small clearing when she saw Dana kneeling over Mulder's body, trembling violently. Before Marsh could reach her, Dana ran stumbling back towards the compound and all Marsh could do was follow.
"Dana!" Marsh shouted. "Dana, wait!"
The next thing she knew, she was looking up at the most amazing thing she had ever seen. Some kind of enormous craft shimmered in the night directly over the building which housed the abductees. A brilliant light suffused the area, and she felt rather than heard the rumble of some powerful force emanating from the apparition. It seemed that the entire structure on the ground beneath it was vibrating. What she saw next frightened her more than anything she had ever experienced. Dana ran directly into the building and disappeared behind the pulsating screen of light. "Dana, no!" Marsh moaned as she raced after her.
Marsh found her at the very heart of the building, kneeling on the floor, her body wracked with sobs. Carefully, she knelt beside her. "Dana," she said softly. "I'm so very sorry."
Through her tears, Scully turned to look at her. Her face was a landscape of devastation and loss. "How much more," she asked, her voice hollow, "how much more can they take from me?"
Marsh knew she had no answer that might not be a lie. She said nothing, but remained beside her, offering her the only thing she could - the simple comfort of her presence.
DISCLAIMERS: The characters of Scully, Mulder, Skinner and others/events introduced on the X-Files are the sole property of Chris Carter etc, and are used here without permission for entertainment, not for profit.