TITLE: Corrigenda (part 9/?)
GENRE: WIP, MSR, A, Post-IWTB
SUMMARY: see part IAUTHOR’S NOTE: Corrigenda is a Latin phrase
meaning “things to be corrected";
sorry for all the grammatical errors,
I am posting this as fast as I write it
so there is ZERO editing done...consider yourself warned! :)
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Mulder dug into the bag of sunflower seeds, which he had purchased at the twenty-four hour gas station when he finally made the turn off the freeway, and stared again at the night-darkened, split-level house. Separating the seed from the shell with his tongue, he spat the remains into the now-disgusting insides of a used Styrofoam cup -- something he only did when Scully wasn't around. He felt safe enough in his spot, four houses down and across the street, but he knew that Skinner would blow a gasket if he somehow found out about Mulder's stakeout.
And, to be fair, Mulder hadn't planned on ending up here. He had collapsed on the old, beat-up leather couch in the living room around nine-forty-five. It was a place he hadn't slept -- overnight anyway -- in almost seven years. But there was no way in hell he could bring himself to sleep in that bed again. As he had lain there, staring up at the wood-paneled ceiling, the visions he had tried to escape by keeping his eyes open still tortured him: The bastard, Tony Patterson, with his hands gripping the headboard, Scully writhing beneath him...
He had pressed the heels of his hands into his eyes so hard he saw stars. And that was okay with him...anything was better than imagining...
Uuuhhh-aaaaauughhh!!! Shit. Shit, shit, SHIT!
Mulder had rolled over, trying to push the obscene thoughts away by focusing on the facts:
Number One: Scully would not have left her cross there by accident.
Number Two: The cross meant that she had been in danger. Was still in danger.
Number Three: Tony's fingerprints had been on the headboard, which meant...
That motherfucking son-of-a-bitch raped her! Unbidden images of the hundreds of sexual assault victim photos he’d studied over the years had flashed through his mind. He couldn’t help the tears that had streamed down his face at the thought of her being violated in that way. Oh God, Scully… I will fucking rip every limb from his body...
Mulder had been hurt both for himself and for Scully when Skinner seemed to believe the lies so easily. But he knew evidence was always something his old friend had felt more comfortable with: Seeing is believing. And he wasn’t upset with the guy for buying Patterson’s story. The bastard had been very clever.
But Mulder knew clever wouldn’t keep him safe. Mulder would find the truth. And Mulder would save Scully.
And then he was off the couch and back in front of the computer screen: staring at the address he had found earlier for one Anthony Walker Patterson. The map had glowed, taunting him in the pitch black office and he had taken comfort in the cool touch of steel in his palm as he gripped the gun more firmly. Mulder had hit print then, secured the gun at the small of his back, grabbed the warm sheet of paper off the printer, and headed out into the night.
He glanced around the neighborhood streets, lined with dogwoods whose blooms were closing in the night, hoping that Patterson's silver 2007 Passat would pull around the corner at any second. But there was no sign of him. There was a chance, Mulder knew, that the car could be parked in the garage, but something told him that wasn't the case.
When three more hours passed with no sign of him, Mulder finally turned around and drove home. He would come back, though: Tomorrow, same time of day when Patterson was found to be here yesterday. Mulder would be waiting.
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Tony had just returned to his mother-in-law's ranch when the blue flip-phone began chirping. He saw the DC area code and took a deep breath, trying to decelerate his racing heart.
"Hello," he answered. Calm and cool, Tony. Calm and cool.
"Good morning," came the gruff, unfamiliar voice. "Is this Charles Scully?"
"Charles, my name is Walter Skinner--"
"Ah, yes, Mr. Skinner. I was told you'd be calling."
There was a brief pause on the other end, and Tony suddenly wondered if that had been the right thing to say.
"Yes, well. I assume you know who I need to speak with?"
"Yes, I do." Tony pressed the play button on the miniature tape recorder, turned it up to full volume, and then walked to the other side of the basement room. The sounds of Dana and Jeffrey's laughter filled the cool room.
"Is she there?"
"Yes," he replied confidently, waiting for the dialogue he knew came next on his edited tape.
"I've already told you that story three times," Dana laughed, the sound slightly tinny through the speaker.
"She's here." Tony replied at the same time his son began talking on the tape.
"But I love the way you do the pig noises," Jeffrey's tinny voice pleaded. "Daddy does it all wrong. Tell her, Daddy!"
Tony moved his mouth away from the phone the tiniest bit. "Aunt Dana has a phone call."
"PLEASE!" the boy had all but screamed, pouting the way only a six-year-old can. "Just one more..."
"No, it's okay," Skinner said over the clamor; Tony raised his eyes to skyward, throwing up a silent prayer of thanks. "I don't want to cause a fight. It sounds like you've got a lot going on and I don't mean to intrude."
There was more of the purposely muffled conversation between Dana and Jeffrey playing in the background as Tony politely asked, "Are you sure? I mean--"
"No, I just wanted to check in and make sure she was okay. Please tell her I called. She knows where to reach me if she needs to."
"Okay, sure, no problem."
And the line went dead.
Tony performed the routine like he always did -- knock, count to ten, unlock the deadbolt, count to ten, open the door, try not to look at her -- and found a curious sight when he entered the room: Dana was sitting in the chaise, book open on its belly across her lap, a shy smile on her face. He suddenly felt like the nervous, pimply teenage geek who had wound up alone in a classroom with the most popular girl in school.
He quickly averted his eyes back to the tray of food -- spinach salad with balsamic dressing on the side, a small loaf of pumpernickel, a plastic container of goat cheese, red apple, sealed bottle of lemonade and one of water -- and set it carefully on the bed.
"Thank you," she said for the second time that day -- the first being when he brought breakfast.
Still feeling her eyes on him, but not wanting to push his luck, he turned as casually as possible and headed for the door. He stopped when he saw the white wicker hamper by the door.
“Uh, yeah, I am sort of running low.”
“No, that’s fine,” he said and looked down at the rug beneath his shoes. “I, uh, do you mind if I use Tide? You’re not allergic or anything—”
“That’s fine,” she answered, a smile in her voice making it impossible for him not to drink in the sight.
Dana and Tony faced off for the first time since he had stood over her with a knife over four days before.
“I was wondering if your offer still stood.” Tony’s brow furrowed in confusion. “I’d like to do my own laundry.”
“Oh. Oh! Oh yeah, sure that’s no problem.” He shoved his hands deep into the pockets of his navy blue jeans, as he suddenly had no idea what else to do with them. “I-uh…I’ll carry the basket, you grab your lunch and bring it with you. The laundry room is just off the side of the kitchen so you can eat in there while you wait.”
Scully sat in mild shock at his non-suspicious manner. She passed it off as self-confidence: After the knife incident, he probably removed any possible weapon. However, his generosity wasn’t lost on her. She placed a marker in the book, set it on the side table, rose, and retrieved the tray.
A stray lock of hair fell out of the band and, unable to move it with her hands full, she wrinkled her nose against the tickling sensation and tossed her head to knock it away.
God, she’s beautiful, Tony admired. Beautiful and deadly, though. He quickly moved in front of her to unlock the door. “I’ve locked all the exits, so please,” he whispered huskily, “don’t try anything.”
She managed an embarrassed grin and nodded her head.
“So what is this place?” she said, placing a delicate hand in front of her mouth while she ate a chunk of bread smeared with goat cheese. Scully looked out through the bay window of the breakfast nook and could see the distant mountains in the horizon.
“It’s my mother-in-law’s ranch. Jeffrey’s Nana.”
She waited, hoping he might supply a name, but he just sat there casting furtive glances when he thought she wasn’t paying attention. “It’s beautiful out here.”
He nodded his head in agreement, two locks of straight, dark hair falling in front of his eyes. “Since, Mary passed we stay here more than we do our house. It’s Jeffrey’s favorite place in the world. He thinks the world of his Nana.”
“But she’s not doing so well lately,” he added as though it were an explanation for Dana’s “extended stay”. “Mary’s death was hard on her, too. And her health just seems to continue deteriorating.”
“What’s wrong with her?”
“She broke her hip about eight or nine months ago doing some of her routine chores out in the barn. She went through rehab, she was better for awhile…but she seems to be in more pain lately.”
“Tony…” His eyes widened for a split second when she finally said his first name and she continued on, “None of this makes any sense. You keeping me here. It’s not -- you’re not—”
“What?” he all but begged, soaking up every word she produced like it was water and he was lost in the desert.
“You’re a good guy.” Even with Tony’s tanned skin, the scarlet of his cheeks shown through. “I don’t understand why you wouldn’t rather try to find—”
“Someone else?” he finished for her and she nodded. He didn’t miss the fact that her body had seemed to move closer to his over the table as she spoke. “I’ve only felt this way about one other woman in my life, Dana. There’s no one else when you’re around.”
The two sat in a silent face-off, the silence becoming awkward as they waited for the other to speak. Then out of nowhere, Tony dropped his face into his hands over the table and his shoulders shook with what Scully could hear was laughter.
Tony rested his chin on the heel of his hand, blue eyes sparkling with moisture, and saw the utterly bemused look on Dana’s face. “I just…I wish I knew what you were thinking right now.”
Scully raised an eyebrow sarcastically and Tony grinned.
“Okay, maybe not.”
The buzzer on the washer made them both jump. With a sigh, Tony stood and led Dana into the laundry room again. He turned his back so that she wouldn’t have to handle her undergarments in front of him.
“I put a small shopping bag on the shelf over the washer so you could put the things you didn’t want to dry in there.” He thought of the bras and hose that used to hang over his and Mary’s shower, smiling. “You can take them back to your room easier that way.”
“Thank you,” she replied and opened the cabinet door to see the shelf he had spoken about.
Scully stuffed the rest of her clothes into the dryer and closed the door. Once the machine hummed to life, Tony took her wrist – she didn’t cringe this time, though – and escorted her back to the kitchen table. She sat down, gazing again at the Virginia countryside stretched out behind glass, wondering what Mulder was doing right that very second.
She wondered if he had given up on her yet.
Tony observed the relaxed, though still pensive, expression on Dana’s face and then let his eyes roam her over: the swell of her breasts beneath the green crew-neck tee, the way it shaped itself to her curves and the flat of the stomach, the faded denim that she had rolled up once to keep from tripping over the too-long ends, down to her feet clad only in plain, white socks. He couldn't help but remember the bliss it had been to touch her bare arms, to breathe her in, to taste her, to have her trust.... And then, it had all gone so, so fucking wrong, he reminded himself. But now...she looks almost happy.
"Dana, can I say something?"
She turned her face slowly away from the window to concentrate on him. "Okay."
"I am so happy you came out to do your laundry. Whether you believe it or not, I am one-hundred percent aware that I am keeping you here against your will. But I don't want it to be that way."
I know. That's what makes this so damn strange. But she merely nodded.
"So..." he trailed off shyly, biting his lower lip.
"Something's been bothering me."
A thousand possibilities ran through his head. "Yeah?"
"The other day, when..." she knew from his darkened expression that she didn't need to explain further so continued, "did you stay because I asked you to?"
Scully studied him then, the way she remembered Mulder doing when he interrogated a suspect -- or her. He had never missed a thing. And neither would she: Tony's eyes widened for just a fraction of a second, darting from her face to the left and back, his Adam's apple bobbed, his fingers balled up to get a firmer grip on his jeans, and his nostrils flared. "No."
She remained quiet, not releasing him from her gaze. Scully wanted to curse at him, to scream, draw some kind of normal, criminal response from him. "Kill 'em with kindness, Dana," her dad used to tell her when she would come home in tears over being bullied at school. Well, Tony had been killing her over the last few days...driving her mad with confusion. And now this...Why the hell should he lie about this? Why should he care about my personal integrity? It's not like I expect him to lose any sleep over--Oh my God.
"Have I had any more nightmares?" This time his reaction was slightly more pronounced, and he couldn't even look at her.
It was only when she gasped that he broke down, the truth flowing freely from his lips now. "Dana, I'm so sorry," he breathed, reaching for her hand and then curling his fingers up when he guessed what kind of reaction that would get from her. "I didn't--I know you didn't want me to---I just couldn't take seeing you---your screams---I'm sorry!"
Scully's next action was so unexpected that she was shocked when she saw her own hand resting over his, her fingers applying pressure across his, her smile reflecting back from his clear, blue eyes.
And then the buzzer on the dryer went off and, feigning fright at the sound, Scully yanked her hand back.
END PART 9/?