More Than You Think You Are Ch 16
I remembered smiling and shaking my head. “No,” I told Scully, “I even made my parents call me Mulder.”
“Fox, come on; Fox, wake up for me, hon.”
“Aw, hell.” I opened my eyes and looked up into Skinner’s worried face.
“Hey.” He put an arm around my shoulders and helped me sit up and I realized I was lying on a cot in Dr. McCoy’s office. The doctor himself wasn’t around. I spotted the puddle of coffee in front of the desk immediately, with the Styrofoam cup squashed in the middle of it. Sighing, I scrubbed a hand over my face and winced at the lump on my temple. I must have hit the desk at some point.
“Hell,” I said again.
Skinner was rubbing soothing circles into my back and it wasn’t helping.
“I did it again,” I muttered. “I don’t believe this. I don’t fucking believe this!” My head was pounding and all I could think of was Scully, and red, and those hands, and Scully…
“Hey,” Skinner said again, cupping my face in his hands and tipping my chin up. He tried a reassuring smile and I wanted to be reassured so badly it was making me shake. I took a deep breath and opened my mouth to say—say something, anything—and what came out was so broken and so sick with need that I barely recognized the voice as my own.
“Can’t you make it stop?” And I burst into tears.
“Oh, shit! Fox—“ If he said anything else, it was lost on me as I collapsed into his arms, sobbing and clinging and wishing I was as dead as Scully. Bright, hateful thoughts of burning up right alongside her...
“Scully…” I don’t know if Walter heard me, but I know his grip on me tightened.
It wasn’t pretty. Obviously I was no Greta Garbo, all soft sighs and lone tears, but Walter didn’t seem to care. I was wetting his shirt front with tears and snot and he just held me pressed hard to his chest, one hand still rubbing my back like he’d been doing since I woke up—hell, since I’d met him for that matter. The other hand was cupped around my skull, fingers combing through my hair. It was a generous dose of comfort combined with complete immobilization, which was apparently exactly what I needed.
I don’t know if I was a big emotional mess before all this, but I sure was now, and it was making me feel sick. But I couldn’t seem to shut it off. Not even with Walter so close; not even when Dr. McCoy re-entered the room, a fresh cup of coffee in hand. The best I could do was to pull carefully away from Skinner, mumble “thanks” as I took the cup, and sniffle, “sorry” as the tears continued to fall.
“Remember, Mulder, no judgments in this room,” said McCoy. “Do you want a few more minutes?”
“I want to go back home.” I replied honestly, moving back into Walter’s arms.
“Mr. Skinner?” McCoy turned his focus on Walter. “Maybe I could get you to give Naomi a hand with—“
“I think we’re just fine here,” Walter growled, and it suddenly occurred to me to ask him why he was here.
“Certainly.” McCoy did that warding off gesture with his hands again. “Why don’t I get the rest of the paperwork from Naomi? It’ll just take a few minutes, and then we can see where we are, okay?” He was generous with his smile, taking a moment to bestow it on both of us before leaving the room again.
“Walter, what are you doing here?” I was having a hard time deciding if I should be embarrassed about Skinner seeing me so out of control, or if I should just feel pathetic for being so grateful that he was there. I chose coffee instead and held the cup to my lips, sipping carefully at the hot liquid.
Skinner shrugged and gave me an easy smile, although his eyes still betrayed his concern, and his arm was a steel band around my shoulders.
“I admit it,” he said, “I couldn’t get a lick of work done today at the office for thinking of you. So I thought I’d come home early—you know, surprise you. Then, when you weren’t home, I figured you were still here and I came to offer you a ride home.”
I really hoped that my memories would return enough to tell me what I had ever done to deserve someone like Walter Skinner.
“Thanks.” It seemed inadequate, but was all I was capable of. Skinner brushed the last of the tears from my cheeks, then went back to playing with my hair and left me to drink coffee in comfortable silence until McCoy came back. Then his grip around me tightened—to protect me, maybe, and I had to admit no small part of me loved that—but I slipped out of his arms and stood, waving off his alarm.
“Sorry about the carpet,” I had to say, but McCoy shook his head.
“It’ll give Naomi something to do besides her nails,” he said, and I remembered, despite what had just happened, that I liked this man.
“Do you feel up to talking about what just happened here?”
‘Well, mostly liked,’ I amended in my head.
I could see that he wanted to argue with me, and I held up a warning hand. “At least,” I continued, “not now. I-I can’t.” The hysterics were dying to make a comeback, and I gulped them down, steadying myself with a brief glance at Skinner. “This is the first time I’ve really thought about what happened with me, and with…Dana.” I had to take a deep breath, and then I tried to smile, “It didn’t go exactly like I planned.”
McCoy gave me an encouraging look. Skinner gave me one too, and that helped more.
“That doesn’t mean I’m going to give up,” I continued. “I just think I need to-uh-take the steps a little slower…smaller…I was never a practicing psychologist, but I’m thinking this might have been something of a breakthrough.”
McCoy just nodded, alternating his attention between me and the papers on his desk.
“So, I think I need to process a little now, before jumping right back in. Does that make sense to you?”
“Mulder, you’re here voluntarily. You’re not incapable of caring for yourself, or so it would appear, and I don’t think your intent is to harm anyone. This is your choice, your decision.” His eager-to-please grin resurfaced momentarily, and then he turned serious again. “I do think you’d benefit from continued visits, but I’m not about to press. And if Naomi or I did anything to upset you, well, I’d be happy to recommend—“
“Nah,” I told him. “We’re good.”
“Are we? Great. Just one more thing, then, and I’ll tell Naomi to finish up your paperwork. There are a couple of things we’ll need you to sign.”
He glanced down at the file again, the one he’d been reading and noting right before my crazy man impression, and when he looked up, he locked eyes with Skinner. It looked like he was almost ‘sizing him up’. Then he looked back at me.
“Here,” he said, handing me a card. “She’s a general practitioner; you’ll like her.”
I gave him my dubious look, complete with the ‘Scully raised eyebrow’, patent pending.
“I don’t prescribe from here, Mulder. But I think if the nightmares that you say are ‘getting better’ look anything like the last few minutes, then Dr. Gonott may be able to find something to assist you while you ‘process’.”
Walter joined us at the desk, plucked the business card from my hand and decided for me. “We’ll see her.”
I frowned, but had no strength for an argument.
Dr McCoy suggested I see this Dr Gonott, and maybe a follow up with him in about a week.
“That sounds fine,” I said, brushing my hair back from my face and feeling the headache I’d cried out earlier wanting to take a second swing at me.
McCoy stood up and so did Walter. I shook the doctor’s hand and let the partner lead me back into the front waiting room.
At that point, something in me just shut down. Whether it was the fancy ‘processing’ I’d been blabbering about, or another fugue state—minus the death and special effects—or just plain exhaustion, I didn’t know; but whatever it was, Skinner picked up on it right away.
He guided me to one of the chairs and told me to relax. While he went over the paperwork with Naomi, I thought about Dana Scully.
When Skinner explained what I was signing, I ignored him in favor of remembering Scully’s favorite colour.
When he asked if next Thursday would be okay to come back, I nodded and remembered that Scully liked pepperoni and mushroom on her pizza.
And when Skinner finally took my arm to pull me to my feet, I remembered that Bill Scully was Dana’s brother, and he hated me.
And then I let myself drift in a place where the only thing that was
required of me was to fasten my seatbelt. And when we got home, I knew
what I had to do.