More Than You Think You Are part three
I don’t know what woke me, but I remember keeping my eyes closed even after I was conscious, letting the pieces fall into place. Car accident, coma, being saved by someone—someone who—
I opened my eyes.
There in the doorway stood a tall, bald man in khakis and a blue chambray work shirt. He was looking at me like I was a glass of water and he’d just crossed the Sahara. A grin turned up one side of his mouth and his dark eyes fairly smoldered behind the neat small glasses he wore. He looked achingly familiar, but I couldn’t find his name.
He stepped into the room, moving lightly for such a big man.
“It’s me, Skinner,” he said, as though reading my mind, “Walter Skinner.” He was at my side in a moment, and while the smile remained, something in his jaw was clenching.
“Mulder, my God!” he suddenly exclaimed, “I thought—we thought—what happened?”
“Mulder?” The name sounded funny but instantly familiar and I said it again. “Mulder.”
He was still talking and a hand on my arm turned my attention back to him.
“When the Gunmen didn’t hear from you two we feared the worst. Even though it’s been safe and quiet, no one knew if you and Scully—after Doggett and Reyes told us about the explosion in New Mexico—“
He was talking too fast, hurling names at me with almost physical force. Reyes? Doggett? The names meant nothing. Scully? Scully. Suddenly I could feel my eyes stinging with unexpected tears. I blinked rapidly, trying to clear them, and then I thought I smelled smoke, oily and rich, and the tears got worse.
“Mulder?” Skinner’s voice sounded far away and my eyes were burning. I heard him calling out for a doctor, and then the red was back, full of sharp teeth and swallowing me up…
I remember thinking this was becoming one hell of a bad habit as I came back to myself, coughing and choking. I felt a big hand rubbing soothing circles into my back, and a cup was held to my lips. I drank greedily, feeling cold water splash my chin and chest. I didn’t care.
That name again.
“Mulder, are you okay?”
I opened my eyes again, cautiously.
Skinner was peering at me with worried eyes, brow furrowed, jaw tic firmly in place. It was his hand warming my back, still stroking gently.
I liked it.
“I think so,”
My nurse was holding out the water glass again, and refused to relinquish her grip on it, even when I tried to pull it from her with my own shaky hands.
“You’re wearing more than you drank already, Mr. Mulder,” she said, “Let me do it.”
“I’ll get it,” Skinner told her, plucking the glass nimbly from her fingers and bringing it back to my mouth. I put my hands on it, shook badly, and he held it steady while I drank.
When I felt a bit more in control, I turned away, and he set the glass on the bedside table.
“Can you tell me what just happened, Mulder?”
“Mulder,” I replied. “Is that a first name? Last name? Or do I only have one name?” I tried on a smile. “Am I like Cher?”
He smiled back, and then looked sad again.
“You’re pretty cute yourself,” I replied brightly. And he was. I didn’t know exactly who Walter Skinner was, or more to the point, who he was to me, but I knew I felt good with him in the room. Good, and safe.
“Fox Mulder,” he said. “I’m sorry. The doctors told me there was some memory loss, but I didn’t realize—“
Another nod. “But you always tell everyone to call you Mulder.”
This time I was the one who nodded as something that felt like a jigsaw puzzle piece slipped neatly into place amongst the jumble in my head.
“Mulder,” I agreed. “Fox,” I couldn’t help but roll my eyes, “William Mulder.”
I could remember my name, but I couldn’t remember ever seeing a smile quite like the one that lit up Skinner’s face.
After my little “everything’s red and scary!” moment, the nurse had gone off to fetch the doctor, who in turn fetched a different nurse to poke and prod at me in various annoying ways that I did my best to ignore while the doctor explained that maybe my head was a lot harder than anyone thought, and I might get some, if not all of my memory back. I felt a shudder work through me at his words that I knew was relief, and Skinner’s hand, which had stilled while he fed me water and told me my name, had taken up that smooth stroking motion again. I found myself leaning into his touch, and he gave me a startled look, and then a warm smile.
One that abruptly faded as the doctor requested that he leave the room.
I must have looked even more dismayed at the thought than Skinner, because the doctor started patting my arm and giving me a toothy grin while explaining that all the excitement had to be tempered with lots of rest if I was going to get well.
“A minute, please,” Skinner’s voice was low and pleasant, but it cut through the doctor’s babble like a slap. The doctor looked at me, looked at Skinner, then looked back at me.
“Five minutes,” he told me; it being apparently much easier to be stern with the sick guy in the hospital bed than with the glaring bald man standing next to said hospital bed. The doctor scurried off, all charts and headshakes, and Skinner gave me a warm look.
“He’s right, you know. You should be resting.”
“I guess.” I did feel tired, despite all the time I’d been spending doing nothing.
When he pulled his hand off my back and I caught it in my own, I got that startled/pleased look again.
“Thanks, Skinner.” I looked down at our clasped hands and tasted the strong flavour of his name. “Skinner…. Walter Skinner.”
He gave my hand an almost furtive squeeze. “I’ll see you soon.”
End part three