Post-ep for "Milagro"

DISCLAIMER: Not mine; they belong to FOX, CC, etc.

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It isn't every day that your worst nightmare comes true, but for one horrifying moment, Mulder thought that today was the day. There on the floor of his apartment lay his partner, his best friend, with her life seeping out of her chest. At any other time he might have immediately looked for a gunshot wound, but due to the circumstances of this case, he expected that her injury would be much more mysterious and fatal. Someone had ripped her heart out, and in the process, his own as well.

Rushing to her side, he held on to the small hope that she really wasn't dead, that somehow he had gotten there in time. And then the nightmare ended. Scully came to life, and he gathered her warm body to his own, feeling her pulse and her sobs throbbing against his chest.

She clung tightly to him for a long time. He wanted to check her out, to make sure she was okay. There was blood all over her, and even some on the floor. But she didn't seem to be in pain, so he could only guess that somehow she was alright. Finally, her grip began to loosen. Mulder leaned back to let her sit up and then looked up at her tear-stained face.

"Are you okay, Scully?"

She thought about it for a moment. "I--I think so."

"There's a lot of blood here. We need to check for a wound, okay?" Mulder waited for her to make eye contact with him before he started to unbutton her blouse. It was soaked with blood, as was her bra and chest, but for what he could see, there was no evidence of a break in the skin.

"I guess I shouldn't have expected to find anything. There weren't any wounds on the other victims either." Scully looked up at him as he spoke, coming back to reality. "Can you tell me what happened?"

"He attacked me. I was heading to the door, to follow you downstairs, and he just attacked me. I saw his face, Mulder. I don't know how, but it was Dr. Naciamento. He knocked me down and reached for my chest. All I could feel was sharp pain. I reached for my gun, and I shot him, but he didn't stop." Scully looked up at the ceiling behind Mulder, where the bullets had entered the wall. He turned and followed her gaze. "But then, he was just gone. I don't know where he went. He just...vanished."

Mulder had only been concerned about Scully. Now, he suddenly remembered their suspect. "Padgett. I left him in the basement. He was burning the manuscript. I need to go check on him. Will you be okay here?"

Scully didn't answer, but the look in her eyes betrayed the same panic that he saw when she first opened them and grabbed hold of him. He could hear approaching sirens in the distance-- one of the neighbors must have called 9-1-1 when Scully had fired shots at her attacker. Mulder decided that he could wait until the police came before he would leave Scully's side and go after Philip Padgett.

* * *

It was late by the time they got back to Scully's apartment. She hadn't been happy about a trip to the hospital, but with the amount of blood she lost, both Mulder and the paramedics insisted. Now that his apartment was a crime scene, Mulder had asked to crash on her couch for the night. Though unspoken, it was far from secretive that his real purpose in staying was to keep an eye on Scully.

Once they were inside her apartment, she went straight to the closet to retrieve a pillow and some blankets for Mulder. With a quiet "good-night," she disappeared into her bathroom. The pitter-patter of the shower water soon met his ears. Mulder wasn't really tired, but he knew she was exhausted and needed her rest. He took off his shoes and spread out on the couch, still in his clothes. He grabbed the remote and turned the TV on, muted the volume, and then flipped endlessly from one channel to the next.

After her shower, Scully put on her pajamas and climbed in bed. She turned off the light and settled down under the covers, but she knew she wouldn't be able to sleep. Her mind was still racing.

What was it about this strange man that had so attracted him to her? How long had he been following her, watching her? Could this have ended in some other way? And what was his motive? If he really was somehow responsible for these crimes, then why? Because of her? Then why had she almost become a victim herself--and how had she been saved?

But of all the things Philip Padgett had said and written, there was one that stood out the most boldly to her, one that would not leave her alone. "Agent Scully is already in love."

He had looked inside of her and described her in intimate detail, even those thoughts and feelings that she was unwilling to voice or admit to herself. He had seen her insecurities, her loneliness. He had preyed on her longing to find love and acceptance. But had he been the first to recognize this one thing that she had fought against, that she had been unwilling to let herself feel? That she indeed was already in love, with the one man who had become her entire world.

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Mulder continued to flip through the channels. But he wasn't really paying attention anyway. The rhythm of the light flickering as one station gave way to the next was just a background to the thoughts roaming around in his head.

He was worried about Scully, but not because he thought that she might be attacked again or that she couldn't handle spending the night alone. She had been victimized by other suspects before, and she continually responded with that incredible strength and independence that he so admired in her. But never had the attack been so intimate. He was worried that this guy had really gotten into her head, and Mulder didn't know how it had affected her. The way she had clung to him after he found her lying there in his apartment, covered in blood--even when Scully had allowed herself to shed quiet tears of relief after being attacked by Donnie Pfaster, never had Mulder heard her sob so loudly or felt her grasp at him so desperately. He knew it wasn't just because of her fear about the attack. This guy had really affected her.

But he had affected Mulder too. Mulder read every last page of Padgett's novel. He was amazed by the intimate detail with which Pagdett described Scully's thoughts and actions. What frightened Mulder the most was not just the detail and accuracy, but the thought that Padgett understood Scully better than he himself did. There were doubts and vulnerabilities related there that Mulder had never even imagined. Could Scully really feel such insecurity about her own abilities, or about the way he perceived her? Didn't she know how much he depended on her and her insights? She wasn't really afraid that she would be accepted by other agents--especially him--for her looks rather than her brains, was she?

What especially bothered Mulder was the detailed love scene written by Padgett between Scully and "the stranger." Mulder felt there that the writer had not read Scully's thoughts but his own. This is the way that Mulder had imagined her--and he thought that he was the only one who had. Mulder himself almost felt violated by how Padgett had fantasized about Scully in a way that Mulder felt he alone had the right to, almost like a jealous husband. Of course, it didn't even occur to Mulder that Scully had never given him that right, but that he had only assumed it for himself.

* * *

Scully turned over again and looked at the clock. It was two in the morning. She hadn't even started to drift off to sleep. Feeling restless, she wanted to get up. Lying here in bed tossing and turning just seemed like a waste of time. But even more, she wanted a distraction from her thoughts.

She got out of bed and walked over to the door. With her hand on the knob, she hesitated. She was going to walk to the kitchen for a glass of water, but just then she remembered that Mulder was in the living room. She paused and listened for a moment. Everything was quiet. Surely he was asleep by now. If she was quiet enough, maybe she wouldn't wake him.

Scully opened the door and stepped toward the living room. The TV was on--some black and white movie that she didn't recognize. All of the lights were off, and the flicker of the television spasmodically lit the room. From where she stood, she could only see the back of the couch and Mulder's feet sticking out beyond the armrest. Scully walked quietly toward the kitchen so as not to wake him.

As she opened the cupboard, Scully instinctively swung around at the familiar click of a gun behind her.

"What are you doing up?" Mulder asked.

"I couldn't sleep. Why are you pointing a gun at me?"

"I heard a noise. I thought someone was in the apartment."

"Yeah, me." Scully was slightly annoyed, but only because he had scared her so badly. Mulder had already put down the gun and swung his legs around to sit up on the couch. Scully proceeded to get herself a glass of water and then decided to fill one for Mulder too. She walked over and handed one to him and then sat down next to him on the couch.

"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to wake you," she said. "I was trying to be quiet."

"I wasn't asleep. I was just lying here watching this movie."

"What is it?"

Mulder paused, then looked at her. "I have no idea."

"Isn't it hard to tell what's going on with the sound off?"

"It gives me a chance to practice my lip reading."

Scully watched the TV, drinking her water, while Mulder watched her. "I thought you'd be asleep hours ago," he said. "You looked exhausted when you got home."

"I was. I am. But my mind just won't rest." Scully looked over at Mulder and saw the concern written on his face.

"Listen, Scully, I know you probably don't want to talk to me about this, but I really think you should talk to somebody. That guy really got to you."

Scully opened her mouth as though she was about to say something, but she didn't. She looked down at the glass in her hands silently for a moment and then looked back at Mulder. "Why wouldn't I talk to you?"

That wasn't the response he expected. In fact, he thought she was going to argue with him about it, protest that she appreciated his concern but that she'd be fine--as she almost had.

"I don't know. I guess I just thought it was too...personal."

"It is. It's incredibly personal. Mulder, how could someone I'd never met know me so intimately?"

"Maybe it's like you said. It's the same as when we write behavioral profiles of killers. We try to get inside their heads and understand why they do what they do. We study the details and patterns of their lives to reconstruct what they do every day. That's what he did with you. He studied the details of your life to understand who you are."

"But why? Why me, Mulder? I'd never even met the man. I don't even remember seeing him before, yet he'd apparently been watching me for a long time. He must have just seen me on the street one day, or in the grocery store, and decided to follow me. Why?"

"Why not you? Do you really find it so hard to believe that a man would find you that intriguing? You're a beautiful woman who carries herself with grace and dignity. In fact, I don't know why you don't have more men stalking you."

Scully smiled at him, with her brow furrowed. "Thank you, I think." They were both quiet for a moment. Scully's smile faded and gave way to a worried look. "Mulder...tell me that it wasn't my fault, that those people didn't die because of me."

"Scully, it wasn't your fault."

"But it was. I still don't know how he did it, but somehow Philip Padgett was responsible for those people's deaths, all as some sick ploy to get my attention. He even knew me well enough that he knew what kind of crime would end up on my desk."

"Our desk. You know, he had to know a thing or two about me as well to be able to pull this off. He knew about the X-Files. He knew where I lived. If you're going to place blame, you could just as easily say it's my fault for being interested in unexplainable crimes, or for living in a building with a vacant apartment next door." Scully gave him a look, like "that's absurd, Mulder, and you know it."

"Scully, we both know there's only one person here to blame, and that's Philip Padgett"--Scully opened her mouth to interject, but Mulder voiced it first--"and his accomplice, if he had one. There's no way we could have known or prevented this, but we did stop it. No one else is going to die."

Scully looked up at him questioningly. She was still trying to find some comfort in all this. She couldn't help but feel that she was to blame for it all, even if there was nothing she could have done to prevent it. Mulder read her look and reached over to put his arm around her, offering what comfort he could. Scully leaned into his hug and sighed. She closed her eyes and tried to let her worries and thoughts melt away. They both settled back into the couch very comfortably. Between that and the warmth and safety of Mulder holding her, Scully began to drift off to sleep.

As Scully's breathing began to change, Mulder realized that she was asleep. He thought for a moment about laying her down on the couch or even carrying her back to her bedroom, but he finally decided not to move her and risk waking her again now that she was finally sleeping. Mulder carefully reached over and pulled a blanket over to cover both of them. He couldn't reach the remote with his hand, but after a little careful maneuvering, he was finally able to hit the power button with his big toe. The room went dark, and Mulder soon followed Scully into a deep, restful slumber.

* * *

Just an hour later, Scully awoke. The room was dark, and it took a moment for her eyes to adjust. All she knew was that she felt very warm and comfortable, but she wasn't in her own bed. Then Scully remembered where she was--on the couch in her living room. She turned her head to look at the face of Mulder, who was still holding her as they sat together under one blanket. He was asleep. Scully had no idea what time it was, but she didn't like the idea of spending the rest of the night sitting up. No matter how comfortable she felt here, she knew that in the morning it wouldn't feel much better than having slept on a plane.

Scully slowly pulled away from Mulder and stood up. He was still asleep and looked so peaceful. She gently lifted his feet and placed them on the couch, his torso and head compliantly turning to rest on the opposite end of the couch. Scully pulled the blanket over Mulder, but it was only a lap quilt that she kept on the couch and didn't quite cover his long body. She stood there regarding him for a moment. He just didn't look comfortable. The pillow wasn't quite under his head, and he was too tall for her couch.

As if reading her thoughts, Mulder started to stir, trying to adjust to a more comfortable position. After a couple of attempts, he seemed to become aware of her presence, and he slowly opened his eyes and looked up at Scully. What he saw made him smile. She was standing there with her hands on her hips and her head tilted to look more squarely at him. It was a very matronly pose, like a mother waiting by her child for him to realize that she's standing there watching everything that he's doing. She was giving him a "you just can't get away with sleeping on the couch like that, it's not going to work" look.

Scully reached out her hand toward Mulder. "C'mon. You don't look very comfortable here." Mulder reached up and took her hand, and he dutifully followed her back toward the bedroom. Scully led him over to the far side of her bed. Mulder said nothing and seemed almost to be sleep walking, his eyes barely open. His shoes were already off, but he was otherwise fully dressed. Mulder just stood there next to the bed, making no effort to either lie down or do anything else. Scully reached toward him and unbuttoned his jeans and then started to slide down the zipper. That seemed to wake him up a little. "You do the rest." She walked away as he obeyed.

Scully climbed in the opposite side of the bed while Mulder removed his jeans. Then he climbed in next to her. He was still very sleepy, and she said no more to him. Scully turned her back toward Mulder and soon fell back asleep, which he had done shortly after his head hit the pillow.

* * *

Around 4 am, Mulder woke up to the sound of muffled cries. As he came to awareness, he realized it was Scully next to him. She was yelling into her pillow, "No! No, let go of me! Mulderrr!!"

Even in her sleep Scully cried out for his help. Mulder immediately reached over to Scully and gently pulled her to him, wrapping his arms around her. He spoke softly in her ear. "Scully, wake up. It's okay. It's just a dream. I'm right here. You're okay."

Scully calmed down and opened her eyes. She was clinging to Mulder, almost as desperately as she had clung to him earlier that day. It was clear that she had just relived that experience in some way.

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That's all she wrote!

Honestly, folks, I don't even remember where I was going with this, and I didn't make myself any notes. But, they're in bed together, holding each figure out where you want them to go from here. :)

There are many, many Milagro post-eps that cover some of the same ground as this fic. Here are a few that will give you a similar flavor--and a more satisfying conclusion:

Six Inch Valley by Michelle Kiefer

Imagine That by Circe Invidiosa

Adagio by Terma99

Valse Lente by Shoshana

Inamorata by KatyBlue


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