“He was evil, Mulder. I’m sure about that, without a doubt. But there’s one thing that I’m not sure of.”
“Who was at work in me. Or what. What made me… what made me pull the trigger.”
“You mean if it was God?”
“I mean… what if it wasn’t?”
Mulder spins to sit beside her on the bed. When he raises his arm, she hesitates for only a moment before tucking herself against him. His hand comes to rest on her shoulder, his thumb stroking lightly over flannel and taut muscles just covering bone. She melts into his side, sighing as her head tilts to lean against him.
“I think…” he says slowly, “that whatever happened, whether or not there was anything at work here beyond trauma and survival instinct, you did the right thing. And that’s what matters.”
She stays quiet, but her arm snakes around behind him, her hand finding his waist and squeezing. He holds her gently, lets her be the driver of how much contact she’s comfortable with after her harrowing ordeal. The room around them stands in evidence of the violent attack against her, broken glass and splintered wood screaming out a story of a man hell-bent on hurting her, on finishing what he started four years ago. But almost before he even finishes the thought, Mulder realizes something else: the destruction in here also testifies to how hard she fought back.
He raced over here to save her, but she had already saved herself.
“Come on, Dana,” he whispers. “Let’s get out of here.”
He feels her nod against him, and she takes another deep breath before pulling away. He stands along with her, his hand moving out of habit toward her lower back but stopping just short of touching her, hovering there instead. When she steps forward toward the dresser, he makes his way carefully behind her to walk over to the closet. He finds a medium-sized suitcase and sets it down on the bed; it goes without saying that she will stay with him for at least a few days. They work in quiet concert as she pulls clothes out of drawers and hands them over for him to pack.
He watches her while trying not to let her catch him at it. Outwardly, she appears calm, her movements methodical and unhurried. It is only because he knows her as well as he does that he can see the tension in her posture, the anxiety at war with bone-deep exhaustion. It may well be for the best that she’s going on 24 hours without sleep; fatigue has a way of dulling the edges of pain, of drawing a gauzy film over emotions that might otherwise sting so much more sharply.
He hasn’t slept either, of course. He’s been running on adrenaline and energy reserves born of necessity, the kind that only spring into being when it’s life or death. He will crash just as hard as she does, when all of this is over.
“This is enough.” She meets his eyes only briefly over a handful of socks, but in them he can see her thoughts still spinning over gods and devils.
He wants to tell her it will all be okay. To wrap her in his arms and tell her not to worry. The very notion of anything evil at work in Dana Katherine Scully is utterly inconceivable. But it will only sound like empty platitudes coming from him, the believer in everything but this.
So he buries the impulse and nods, zipping the suitcase and picking it up. He gestures toward the bedroom door, to let her lead the way out, but she shakes her head.
“I want to change out of these pajamas. I’ll be right out.”
He nods again. “Okay. I’ll make sure the officers don’t need anything else from us, and we can leave as soon as you’re ready.”