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TITLE: Torn
AUTHOR: Gabi Fisher
SPOILER WARNING: Slight reference to War of the Coraphages (or however you spell it...)
CLASSIFICATION: A, AU, UST
SUMMARY: Scully gets several visitors while in the hospital, one being a very late Mulder.
DISCLAIMER: If I did own the story and characters instead of CC, Fox, 1013 and whoever else has their foot in the money pot, the show would be just a bit different. *g* Or maybe more than "just a bit..."

*        *         *


    Mulder opened the desk drawer and found a piece of a plane ticket stub. Obviously it had been overlooked in the hasty departure of the people who had Samantha. There was little legible information on the torn ticket, but Mulder could make out the destination of the flight Boston, Massachusetts.
    With a small pang of guilt that he carefully ignored, Mulder pulled out his cell phone and called the airline. After giving them his badge number and assuring them of the utter importance in the fact that he needed to be on the next flight to Boston, Massachusetts, he had a ticket for the flight which would be leaving in half an hour.
    Driving a minimum of fifteen miles over the speed limits, Mulder reached the airport, checked in his car, and boarded the plane a mere five minutes before its scheduled departure time. As the plane sailed down the airstrip, Mulder stared out the window and silently promised that he would go back to Washington to visit Scully as soon as he found out all he could from Boston.

*        *        *

    "Honey, do you want me to see if Estelle can come? Some company might make you feel better. And a few years ago, she had cancer and also went through cancer treatment, so she knows what it is like," Mrs. Scully asked.
    Under her breath, so softly that she wasn't sure she had even spoken them out loud, Scully whispered, "Yeah, so have I." That wasn't what her mother needed to hear. Scully wasn't quite sure which of the two of them was stronger at the moment. To her mother, she said, "Sure. It couldn't hurt. And she seemed really nice. I wouldn't mind talking with her again."
    "Alright. I will call her in a moment and see if he can come over sometime tomorrow. Technically, I think that visiting hours are over by now. Do you care what time?"
    "Sometime after lunch. I think Mulder said he'd try to come earlier in the morning," Scully replied, somewhat wistfully. She wished that he was already with her.
    "Where is Fox? He's usu--" Mrs. Scully stopped herself, though Scully was sure that she was going to end the sentence with "He's usually with you in the hospital." Yeah, he usually was. But those times weren't right after he had seen Samantha.
    Scully's reply was simply, "I'm not really sure. He was following up a lead in New York last I heard."
    "Well, I hope he is having luck," Mrs. Scully said. "If you wait a moment, I'll call Estelle now and see if she is free tomorrow afternoon."

*        *        *

    Mulder had already disembarked in Boston by the time he realized he had no idea what to do once he was in the airport. Samantha and the men who had taken her, one of which was surely the Smoking Man, could be anywhere. He was certain that they would not stay in the area for long. They would be afraid that Mulder would be able to find them again.
    At the ticket counter, Mulder described his sister and the Smoking Man, hoping someone would recognize their description but the only answers he got were "I'm sorry, I just started my shift" or "I'm sorry, there are too many people coming through here for me to notice them all." Mulder asked the security guards in the area as well, but got the same answers. Any other person who was in the vicinity of the gate and looked as if they had been there for a while, though none of the travelers had seen anyone he was looking for either.
    Discouraged and unsure of what to do next, Mulder left the airport and hailed a taxi, asking to go to the closest motel. The cab driver spoke with a thick accent that Mulder could not easily place. "Are you sure, mister?" he asked.
    "What do you mean?" Mulder replied, testily.
    "There is a big convention going on at the convention center right near here since yesterday and for another two days. All the motels are basically booked. Have you tried calling ahead?"
    "No, I hadn't. I wasn't expecting them to be booked. I'll try calling a few of them now, hold on a second. While I'm calling, could you please take me to the nearest motel that you think would have some vacancies, please," Mulder replied, pulling out his cell phone.
    After the fifth or sixth call to motels in the near area, Mulder gave up his hopes of there being a vacancy, he tried the closest suburb. After four calls, he found a room. It was at what he assumed would be the crummiest motel in the state, but at least it was a place to sleep.
    He gave the driver the address and leaned back, watching the city roll beside him. He saw families walking, talking animatedly; joggers, a few running with dogs; an old couple, walking hand in hand, silent but smiling; and several other, younger couples entering and exiting restaurants.
    Seeing all those people living normal lives, doing normal things, Mulder tried to think back to the last time he did something like that. Something normal. Thinking back practically to the beginning of time, he remembered his last family dinner. Their parents had taken Fox and Samantha to their favorite restaurant, Pasta Pasta, as a treat. The only time the Mulders went there was when there was something to celebrate or as a really special treat since it was so costly.
    It had been a little more than a month before Samantha disappeared. Mulder had just turned twelve and the Mulders had taken out for a birthday dinner. Thanks to his photogenic memory, Mulder remembered what they were all wearing that evening. He even remembered what they ate. It was almost as if somehow Mulder had known that it would be a day to remember...
    That night was the last time an entire staff of waiters and waitresses had brought out a birthday cupcake and sang for Mulder's birthday. It was the last happy memory he had of his family. Until he had started working with Scully, it was also the last happy memory of his life.
    "Hey, mister, we're here," the cabbie told him, twisting around in his seat. Mulder looked at the electronic counter and paid the appropriate amount before getting out.
    "Thanks," he said as he walked through the poorly lit motel parking lot and into the office. It looked as if it hadn't been cleaned in months. It was grimy and just about every surface except for the counter had a layer of dust. Mulder looked around, hoping that the rooms were at least slightly better maintained. A bell sat on the counter, and Mulder pressed it, eliciting a sharp 'ding.'
    A reasonably young man emerged from a back room, carrying a book with his finger marking his page. "Yeah?" he asked.
    "Hi, I'm Fox Mulder and I just made reservations over the phone about ten minutes ago..."
    "Yeah, I just had your key..." the man said, bending down to look under the counter, most likely where the keys were kept. "Ah, here it is. You are in room 13, it's right around back. You can't miss it. How many days will you be staying?"
    "Just one night," Mulder replied. "I'll pay now, cash."
    "Alright. That'll be seventy dollars, including tip," the man said, hitting a few keys on the old cash register. The tray opened with a metallic click and he took Mulder's money and handed him a poorly printed receipt. "Enjoy your stay."
    "Thanks." Mulder hoped that the man's comment implied that the rooms might make the stay enjoyable, though he doubted it.
    Rooms branched from either side of the office, forming an L. There were stairs close to the exit of the office, but Mulder walked around them. The man had said that the room was impossible to miss, though due to the bad lighting, it took Mulder five minutes to figure out which room was his.   
    His stay in the motel was already off to a bad start, and he had barely just arrived there.

*        *        *

    "Ok, I'll see you then. We'll be looking forward to it. Bye," Mrs. Scully said into the phone as she hung it up. To Scully, she said, "Estelle said that she could come by around one or so."
    "That's fine. I'm going to try to sleep now, if that's alright with you, though. I'm really tired," Scully said. She wasn't really all that tired, but she didn't want to talk with her mother because that would eventually lead to talking about Mulder, and she wasn't up to that.
    "Isn't it a bit early?"
    "No, not really. I've had a busy few days," Scully told her mom, punctuation her sentence with a yawn. "Pull up a chair or something and sit. You look beat."
    "Well, truthfully, I am. I think I will. Later, I'll see if I can get a cot or portable bed or something to sleep on in here. You just go to sleep," Mrs. Scully replied, pulling one of the chairs in the corner of the room to the bed as Scully rolled over and closed her eyes.
    Feigning sleep, Scully slowed her breathing, taking breaths at even rhythms. She did her best to stay still, only moving every now and then. She knew that her mother wouldn't go to sleep until she knew-at least think-Scully was.
Twenty minutes after Scully "fell asleep," when Mrs. Scully could barely stop yawning, she went to ask a nurse for something to sleep on. A few minutes later she came back toting a small, cream-colored cot. Mrs. Scully set it up next Scully's bed, lay down, and practically within seconds was asleep.
    Scully tried her best to sleep as the night progressed, but couldn't for more than a half an hour at a time and spent most of the time tossing and turning restlessly. Sometime during the night she had to get up to stop a nosebleed, which seemed to take forever. With each new nosebleed, every new symptom of cancer Scully found herself sinking a little lower into the pit of despair that resided somewhere between her head and heart. She feared that if her cancer couldn't be cured or sent into remission again she would become an empty shell of a person, devoid of emotion, for all her emotions would be sucked into her black hole of despair.

*        *        *

    "Any sign of him?"
    "No, sir. We thought we spotted him at the airport, but just briefly, so we do not think that it was actually him," a man replied, almost reluctantly.
    "So are you saying that you don't *know* where he is?" the first man said, obviously worried.
    "Well, technically, yes. But we will find him very soon, I can assure you of that."
    "You *lost* him? How could you lose him?" the first man boomed, his worry shifting to anger.
    "He... We weren't sure which flight he boarded," the second man replied timidly.
    "Really?"
    "Yes. The airport was crowded and no one we talked to would disclose passenger information to us," he replied, slightly more sure of himself.
    "Very well," the first man replied, ending the conversation by hanging up the phone. For a moment he surveyed his surroundings. Better than some places he had been, worse than others. At least it was carpeted here. He hoped he wouldn't be forced to leave again. The few people in the room with him looked at him expectantly. To them, he announced, "He has proven incompetent. He must be dealt with."
    "Yes, sir. Right away," a man in the room answered, leaving the room to make a phone call. The rest of the people went back to their work as quickly and efficiently as before.
    The first man lit the cigarette he had been twirling between his fingers and took a seat by the hospital bed. "I'm sorry we keep moving you, but it's for your own good. I promise. Possibly one day you will realize that. I hope that all this movement has not been detrimental to your health. If your brother had not interfered, I would have been able to guarantee it, but now I'm not so sure," the man's words fell on deaf ears, however. The patient was kept in a near-comatose state with I.V. drugs so that she would not be aware of the experiments that were being conducted on her.

*        *        *

    Mulder stepped into the bathroom, turned on the light, and jumped back as a huge roach scuttled to safety in the wall. He shuddered. He'd had more than his share of roaches in his past dealings with Dr. Bambi. Every now and then he wondered what had happened to her...
    He splashed some water on his face, it would pass as washing his face for now, and hurried out of the bathroom. Between being too tired to remove his clothes before lying down and the fear of putting his clothes back on in the morning only to find a huge insect in them, Mulder slept with his clothes on.
    He slept through the night, but only because the nightmares that tortured him would not relent and let him wake. Around seven Mulder woke to find sunlight streaming through the worn curtains. For a moment he was disoriented, until the kink in his back worsened and he awoke fully. He sat up and did his best to massage his back. His body had long ago gotten used to sleeping on his couch, so he didn't get kinks from sleeping at his own apartment. Strange, hard, motel beds never failed to give him kinks and cramps when he woke, however.
    Mulder called the airport to see when their next flight to Washington D.C. was. The woman who answered the phone put him on hold for a moment before returning with the information, telling him that it wouldn't leave until eleven fifteen. Mulder booked a seat on that flights, once again charging it to his card, aware of how close to the spending limit he had to be.
    Taking one last, disgusted look around his small room, he decided that it would be better to wait at the airport than in his motel room, so he called a cab company. They promised to pick him up within twenty minutes. As quickly as physically possible Mulder could, he attempted to unwrinkle his suit as best he could before exiting his room to drop off the key and wait outside for the taxi. At least it wasn't grimy outside. Gray, overcast, and almost damp, sure, but at least not dirty.
    Moments after the taxi finally came and Mulder was inside the car, it began to rain. The old saying "When it rains, it pours" seemed very accurate for the situation. Mulder could barely see out his side windows, but knew that it had to be worse for the driver. He hoped that his flight would not be delayed. He didn't want to wait any longer than absolutely necessary to visit Scully.

*        *        *

    Although Scully was tired from the few hours of light sleep that she got, she knew that she wouldn't be able to sleep for any longer, so as the sun began to stream through the window around seven o'clock she did not bother to try. Using the pillows, she propped herself into a sitting position after getting up to grab a couple of the magazines that were sitting on the tiny table near her bed. People was on top of the pile. Under it were Entertainment Weekly and Cosmopolitan. None of the magazines particularly appealed to her, but she decided that Cosmopolitan would most likely be the most interesting.
    After flipping through about five thousand make-up ads, she finally got to the first article. It was titled "How to Put Together an Entire Wardrobe with Four Items." There were several shots of a really tall, really thin blonde model wearing the same top, skirt, pants, and jacket in different combinations. 'How on earth is this supposed to relate to the real world if those four items cost more than an entire wardrobe bought elsewhere?' Scully thought to herself after glancing at the total price of the set.
    Scully read the articles on "Perfect Hair, Everyday" and "Make-up Application for the Artistically Challenged." By the time she got to "Secrets Between the Sheets," Scully was tired of looking at articles that had absolutely no bearing on her life, as abnormal as it was, but that article was the last straw. She didn't need any more tips for something she wouldn't be engaging in any time in the foreseeable future. She closed the magazine and half threw it onto the table, knocking over a cup and pitcher, which were luckily empty. The clatter, however, woke up Mrs. Scully, whose first waking words were, "Is everything alright, Dana?"
    "Yes, I'm fine, Mom. I just accidentally knocked some things off of the little table. I didn't mean to wake you up."
    "What are you doing up so early, honey? You are practically up earlier than the sun?" her mother asked.
    "Actually, I usually get up around this time to get to work on time. I guess my body is just used to that," Scully replied, not wanting to tell her mother that she couldn't sleep. She knew that her mother would only be more worried, and she felt that her mother didn't need any more stress at the moment. Neither of them did, but Scully's could not be helped. "Since you are up, may I turn on the TV? I had wanted to watch the news."
    "That's fine with me. If you don't mind, I actually think I might run home really fast and get a change of clothes and anything else you wanted from you apartment before the day really started. What do you want, honey?"
    "Uh, I think you got just about everything when you came here earlier... No, actually could you get the book that is on my nightstand? The magazines they have here are really boring," Scully commented.
    "I know how you feel. I was flipping through them earlier. There aren't any good ones in here. I'll look and see in the gift shop if there are any ones that seem interesting," Mrs. Scully said, standing up. She bent over Scully's bed and kissed her daughter's cheek. "See you in a little bit."
    "Bye, Mom."
    As soon as Mrs. Scully was out of earshot, Scully sighed. For a little while she wouldn't have to add to her fašade of being better than she was. Physically, she didn't feel too sick. She had virtually no pain. After a while, she got used to the nosebleeds; notice blood, hide it from the people she was near, wait until it was done, clean up her face, pretend nothing was wrong. It had gotten to the point that Scully could do it almost automatically, no thought involved. Her emotional pain and stress hurt much more than she believed her body ever could. Emotional scars last much longer than any physical ones do.
    True to her word, Scully tuned the tiny television hanging from the ceiling to her favorite news station and watched the daily morning show. Though she was staring at the screen and appeared at first glance to be paying attention to the latest details about the multiple murder/suicide, Oakland hills fires, or most recent kidnapping. In reality, Scully's mind was a million miles away, doing her best to block all thoughts of illness, hospitals, and cancer.

*        *        *

    Unfortunately, Mulder's flight was delayed. He sat an extra hour and a half in the tiny airport waiting area in his rumpled, now wet, suit, anxiously alternating between tapping his feet and drumming his fingers on the plastic armrests. Other customers flashed him annoyed glares, but he did not even acknowledge them. His thoughts switched between Samantha and Scully. He envisioned what each of them had to be going through, each going through their own, private hells from which he could do little to free them. Fearing that the events that transpired in his dream might actually prove true, in a sense, he attempted to decide whom he would save, and whom he would leave to fend for herself. The harder he thought, the farther into the depths of his mind the answer hid. He sighed.
    The flight attendant finally called for boarding of his flight, and he was one of the first on the plane. The flight was not long enough to warrant a meal, though Mulder wished they were serving one. Since he had hardly anything to eat in the last twenty four hours, he was starving. He decided that he would have to stop and get some food before he visited Scully. A little more delay before seeing her hopefully would not instill any homicidal ideas in her head... If it did, he'd be in trouble.
    To his amazement, he fell asleep for a little over half the flight. For the past couple days he had been functioning only because of adrenaline, so had not noticed how exhausted he really was. He woke up only when the stewardess gently shook him awake, telling him to fasten his seatbelt and put his chair in the upright position. Mulder groaned and attempted to rouse himself, though he was not very successful; he was only half awake when he disembarked.
    After entering the "food court" at the airport, Mulder entered the first restaurant he saw and sat down to eat.

*        *        *

    Nurses drifted in and out of Scully's room throughout the morning, making half-hearted attempt at small talk, all acting as if they really cared about her well being, though few did. She occupied her time watching television and flipping idly through magazine after magazine. When she finished looking through all the magazines in her room, she looked through them again. She hoped that someone would bring her a few new ones... The ones that were left in her room were boring the first time she went through them and worse each time after that.
    Mrs. Scully arrived at noon with a duffel bag, Scully's book, and lunch. "Sorry I didn't stop by McDonalds, honey. I know how much you love their food," she said with a smile as she held the bag of food tantalizingly in front of Scully. "Instead I stopped by that little Chinese shop by my house that you love so much. You rarely come to my house without it. I got your favorite."
    "Thank you so much, Mom. You know just what to do to make me feel better," Scully said with a smile of her own, this time sincere.
    The two of them ate and made fun of the soap that was on TV. Although she did not have her usual appetite, Scully did eat almost one half of what her mom brought. When they were done eating, Mrs. Scully scooped the take-out containers into the garbage and they turned off the television and talked for a while. They were interrupted by a light rapping on the door.
    "Yes?" Scully called.
    The door opened slightly and Estelle popped her head in. In one hand she carried a beautiful bouquet of pink, white, and yellow carnations and baby's breath. When she saw who it was, Scully urged her to come in. Mrs. Scully stood up to give her a hug, then sat back down again. "I'd stand up, but I'm afraid I'd pull out too many cords out of me!" Scully said.
    "That's quite alright," Estelle assured her. She placed the flowers on the table (after rearranging the magazines to have room) and bent down to hug Scully. "How are you feeling, Dana?"
    Slightly ruefully, Scully answered, "Well, if I felt *good* then I wouldn't be here." Estelle chuckled. "Though I don't feel too bad. I've seen worse days."
    "I'm glad to hear it. Cancer treatment is the worst, I know, but things always get worse before they get better," Estelle commented sympathetically.
    "I know, I've gone through it before. It's not much fun, but it's bearable."
    "Yeah... That's true. Dana, Mark hadn't left town yet, so I brought him with me. I wasn't sure if that was OK with you, so he's in the waiting room..." Estelle said, waiting for Scully's reaction.
    "That's fine, I'd love to see him again. Just warn him I don't always look this horrible!" Scully said, though the joke passed with weak smiles from all three women.
    Estelle left to bring Mark in, and Mrs. Scully reached up to the bed. Scully placed her hand in her mother's and gently squeezed. Both turned their heads to the door with the sound of footsteps outside it.
    Mark walked into the room, Estelle right behind him. He looked nervous. He walked to the hospital bed and offered his hand to Scully. She released her mother's, and shook his hand. "Hi, Dana. I'd have brought you something, but Mom insisted on carrying the flowers," he said with a small, nervous smile. "How are you feeling?" he asked.
    "For being in the hospital, not too bad. What about you?"
    "Sorry, stupid question. It's just automatic sometimes. I'm actually pretty good. I have to go back home tomorrow, but I love coming down here to visit Mom."
    "I'm glad," Scully responded. "If there were more seats here, I'd offer you two a seat. I'm sorry."
    "Don't worry about it, Dana. You already have enough on your mind. I was actually going to get a cup of coffee. I hope you don't mind if I leave for a minute, even though I just got here. Did anyone else want any?" Estelle said.
    "No thanks," Dana replied.
    Mark shook his head.
    "Yes, actually I would enjoy some coffee. I think I'll go with you," Mrs. Scully said, standing up.
    As soon as they left the room and were, hopefully, out of earshot, Mark and Scully laughed. Scully said, "If I didn't know any better, I'd say that they are playing matchmaker!"
    "You know, I bet they are. That's something my mother would do," Mark replied with a smile.

*        *        *

    Mulder ate as quickly as humanly possible, which was easy because if he ate any slower, the food tasted like cardboard. He was almost to the long-term parking lot before he remembered that he had to get something for Scully. He raced back to the gift shop, picked up a few items, and walked as fast as he could without actually running to his car, running into several people on the way.
    Luckily, the hospital was close to the airport, so Mulder was not on the road for very long, and his chance of harming someone with erratic driving was decreased, though not by much. He circled the hospital parking lot twice before finding a parking space.
    Mulder knew where the oncology department was, and headed there first. That would most likely be where Scully was.

*        *        *

    Mark had shifted the chair so that it was parallel to the bed, but so he was facing her. It was much more comfortable when he could stretch his legs out. To break the ice, they had shared some funny job experiences then talked about what they normally did.
    "Sounds like you and your partner work well together," Mark commented. He could sense that if not currently, at one point, she and her partner had been more than partners. He could hear in her voice when she spoke of him and the way her eyes lit up when she thought of him.
    Scully smiled, "Yeah, I like to think so. He can be a real pain sometimes, but I love working with him. No two days are ever the same. He's actually supposed to be coming soon, so you will get a chance to meet him."
    Mark looked at his watch. "You know, I really should be going in a little bit. I have a long drive and I still have work to when I get home..."
    "You sure?"
    "Yeah, though it was really nice seeing you again. We should have dinner like the other night again. It was fun," he reached out and took Scully's hand in his. "I hope you feel better fast."

*        *        *

    Though he usually just opened the door, Mulder stopped to look in the window. He didn't want to wake Scully if she was sleeping or interrupt Mrs. Scully and her. The blinds were twisted open, so they were easy to peek through. Instead, he saw Scully and a man in a chair holding hands and smiling. He felt the same clench of his heart as he always did when Scully was with another man. He didn't like to think of it as jealousy, but knew that's what it was. Before either of them could see him, he moved past the window and into the waiting room. Later, when that man left, Mulder would go see Scully.

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