More Than You Think You Are Ch 15
I was fine waking up alone and finding a fresh pot of coffee waiting for me in the kitchen. I was fine drinking several cups while I read the paper Skinner had left on the table, and even finer snuggling into the too big robe I had snagged from the hook on the bathroom door.
Fine extended through showering, shaving, donning new Dockers and the t-shirt Skinner had bought for me in New Mexico. The pants fit perfectly; the t-shirt was a size too big; it seemed to be a theme today.
I called the cab company Skinner had suggested and stuffed the number, along with the clinic’s address, into my wallet, double checking to make sure that I had enough cash for there and back. And still felt fine.
Waiting on the porch, I felt a tickle in my throat and coughed a little. It didn’t help. I found myself clearing my throat several times, and I started to feel a throb in my temples by the time the cab pulled up.
I gave the driver the address, fought the urge to cough again, and found myself wishing I’d taken Walter up on his offer—repeated offers—to come with me.
‘I’m fine,’ I told myself. ‘Everything’s fine.’ I stared out of the window, watching the scenery go by just a little faster than I was comfortable with, and tried to ignore the twist in my stomach. What I assumed were memories of some sort were niggling at me; flashes, like movement just out of my peripheral vision. Closing my eyes helped.
We arrived in short order and I gave the small gray building a cursory once over as I paid my fare and the cab pulled away.
I chastised myself again as I paused on the front steps to take several deep breaths.
“Stop it; you’re fine,” I muttered aloud and pushed through the doors with more vehemence than the situation warranted.
A small waiting room greeted me, all neutral colours and bad paintings, uncomfortable looking chairs and outdated magazines. A small desk sat in one corner.
There was nobody in the room.
An empty office in a small city in the middle of the day was no excuse for the increase in my heart rate or the seriously creeped out feeling I was getting. I thought about how airily I had brushed off Skinner’s concerns that morning while goose bumps dotted my skin and I rubbed my arms through the long cotton sleeves of my shirt and said again, a little louder, “Hello?”
A door I hadn’t noticed at the back of the room opened, startling a girly yelp out of me, and only then did I realize just how freaked out I was. Even as I was recognizing that the bookish looking man coming through the door was no threat to me, I was almost instinctively backing away until the back of my legs hit the low coffee table and—
“My apologies, Mr.—Mulder, isn’t it? I didn’t mean to startle you. Naomi must have gone for coffee. I told her…”
He was moving towards me, hand extended, and I realized he was smiling, bespectacled and several inches shorter than I.
“I’m Dr. McCoy—no relation,” he added the last when he saw my knowing smile and muttered, “I always get the Trekkies.”
I felt stupid, and even though some little internal alarm was clanging away like the bell at a fire station, I ignored it much as I’d been doing since my first awakening weeks ago. Instead, I gave the doctor a shamefaced grin as I shook his hand.
“Sorry,” I said.
“No worries, Mr. Mulder,” McCoy replied. “I’ve got your paperwork around here somewhere…” He veered away from me and peered helplessly at the desk. Then the front door opened and both of us turned to see a frazzled looking red head carrying a take away tray with three large Styrofoam cups nestled in it. She almost ran over me before she realized that she wasn’t alone in the room.
“Dr. McCoy? Shit!” She focused on me, suddenly. “You’re our one o’clock, aren’t you? Damn. I thought I’d be back before—here—“ She thrust one of the cups into my hands, and then breezed by me, still talking, “There was this hideous line up at Starbuck’s and of course, we had to have the special blend and then I couldn’t find the discount card and…”
“Naomi—“ Dr. McCoy tried to interject.
“I thought I’d be back in plenty of time.” She gave me an almost accusatory glare; “You’re early!” and then set the two remaining cups on her desk and found the elusive file in a mound of paperwork like a magician. She handed it to the doctor.
McCoy gave his assistant a glare but there was more affection than anger there. He gave me a smile and an embarrassed shrug, as if to say, “what can you do?”
“Right this way, Mr. Mulder. We can talk while Naomi does up the preliminaries. Hopefully she can remember today’s date.”
“Thanks, Smart-ass—don’t forget your coffee.” She handed him a cup as we walked past the desk and she smiled as he muttered in her direction,
“That’s Doctor Smart-ass to you.”
They sounded like an old married couple to me, though I saw no wedding rings, and their banter eased some of the tension I’d been carrying since leaving the house.
Then we were in a surprisingly spacious area behind the main office and Dr. McCoy was directing me into a soft leather chair in front of a dark wooden desk.
The room was darker than the reception area had been, but warm in tone, all earthen browns and leaf greens. I felt comfortable immediately, and was pleased when the setting conjured up a visual of my lover, sitting at a similar desk, a gleam in his eye and a razor sharp crease in his white dress shirt.
“Do you prefer Fox, or Mr. Mulder?” Dr. McCoy asked.
“Just Mulder is fine, thanks.” I sipped at the coffee while Dr. McCoy fumbled with the file, then pushed his glasses up on his nose and ‘hmmm’d just once.
“Well, Mulder, from the notes I have here from your stay in New Mexico, it would seem you’re a bit of a miracle.”
I frowned a little at that and muttered “Not hardly.”
“Let’s start with how you’re feeling physically, and the things that
are happening now. Then we can look at some of the blanks and see how best
to fill them in.”
He was simple and direct, but I didn’t feel like he was talking down to me. I just felt like he was applying a good dose of common sense to everything. Of the list of doctors that I’d been given back in the hospital, I decided I had picked a good one.
His initial interview revealed little, or at least it seemed that way to me. Yes, I was eating; no, no nausea; no, no atrophy to my muscles. He made a note when I told him about taking up running and how I thought that maybe I used to do it a lot before—
When he asked how I was sleeping, and I replied, “Fine,” he gave me a look so sharp that I felt uncomfortable and had to seriously contemplate the inside of my coffee cup.
“None worth mentioning.”
“No more than anyone, I’m sure.”
“I think I’ve always been prone to night terrors,” I said softly. “Walter says he is too, and I do remember a sleep disorder clinic…”
“Walter? That would be Walter Skinner, right?”
“Right.” I probably sounded sharper than I intended, but couldn’t seem to help myself. Suspicion seemed built into me, useless, but a part of me nevertheless, like a spleen or something.
“Your boss?” If he picked up on it, McCoy didn’t comment.
He didn’t say anything else for a minute, and I looked up from my cup to stare into a pair of guileless blue eyes for a long time, trying to decide if this was a man to be trusted.
‘He’s my partner,” I said finally, retreating back into my coffee cup, noticing that I’d done more staring into the cup than actual drinking. I tried a sip and burned my mouth a little.
“I’m glad you have someone supporting you during this time.”
He gave my surprised face a frank look.
“No judging here, Mulder.”
“Would you like to tell me about your nightmares?” He didn’t give me time to think before going right back to the heart of the conversation.
“They’re getting better,” I protested almost without thinking, and then immediately kicked myself for my answer.
“Do you mean less frequent? Or less intense?”
“Sure.” I really didn’t want to go there.
“Can you give me a specific image from any one nightmare?”
‘I was gang-raped and then my partner was afraid to touch me for a week,’ I thought, but instead, unbidden, one word slipped out of me. “Red.”
“Red?” Another note and I watched the pen scratching paper for just a little too long.
“Like the colour red?” he added, hoping for elaboration.
“Red, like…” He paused then, waiting to see if I was going to give him that one. I decided I wasn’t going to, and the silence wound around us, tense, and it suddenly felt warm and close in the office.
“Fire?” he finally asked, and coffee spilled as a sudden spasm jerked my hand.
“Can you tell me about the fire, Mulder?” His voice was soft, obviously meant to soothe. Instead I spilled a little more coffee, then set the cup down on his desk with shaking hands and sat back in my chair.
“Maybe you can tell me about another type of fire—“
“No,” I tried again, more forcefully, though it still came out squeakier than I intended.
“We could work towards the memory that’s causing your nightmares by—“
“No!” I didn’t realize I was standing or shouting until it was too late. “This isn’t about fire—fuck fire!” He didn’t flinch, and for some reason that pissed me off. “I kicked my pyrophobia years ago, doctor, thanks!”
“And yet, when we associated red with fire, you—“
I didn’t let him finish, feeling more and more claustrophobic and reacting in a panic masquerading as anger.
“Red isn’t fire, you obtuse son of a bitch! Red is blood! Blood everywhere!”
“Mulder--?” He was standing up across the desk from me now, holding his hands out almost in a warding off gesture.
“There was blood in her hair! Her red hair…blood—Scully’s blood! And I-I-I—“
I hadn’t planned to completely snap my wires on the first visit, but like so much in my life now, I felt powerless to stop it from happening.
McCoy consulted his notes quickly while I stammered and struggled to control my breathing. “Dana Scully? Your partner? She was in the car when—“
It was like those zones I pulled back in the hospital, all red and black, heat and choking. Vaguely, I could hear McCoy calling my name and I knew I was still standing in from of his desk, but all around me was now black and red. Fire that didn’t scare me and blood that did. A sudden feeling of movement as two small hands shoved at me.
“Scully, no!” I was screaming.
And again. Small hands, pale where they weren’t black with burns and dirt, short fingernails and one of them ripped nearly to the quick; small beads of blood bubbling up from that tear, and—
“Scully! No! Scully! SCULLY!”