GENRE: WIP, MSR, A, Post-IWTB
SUMMARY: Dana Scully was treating more patients than just Christian during the winter of 2008. This is the story about the father of one of those patients who is awed by the miracles our favorite former-forensics-dabbling-FBI-agent-turn
AUTHOR’S NOTE: Corrigenda is a Latin phrase meaning “things to be corrected”
Our Lady of Sorrows Hospital
March 3, 2008
He watched her approach Jeffrey's bed, the light coming in from the hospital window making her long, red hair seem to glow around the pale skin of her face. She patted his son's arm gently, drawing little Jeffrey's attention from the underwater adventures of Spongebob and his goofy friend, Patrick Star.
"I thought you'd seen this one before," she laughed, the sound so carefree that --- for those brief seconds --- it drowned out the incessant beeping of the heart and other miscellaneous monitors to which the man's tiny six-year-old son was connected.
Jeffrey smiled, exposing the missing tooth in his head. "But, it's my favorite. Patrick gets a trophy!" The little dark-haired boy with freckles across his button-nose and big, blue eyes that seemed to hold all the excitement in the world had captured her heart in just the three weeks he'd been at Our Lady of Sorrows Hospital.
"I see. Well, then I am sorry for interrupting." She turned to acknowledge the man, whose son so closely resembled him, for the first time since she'd entered the room. "Good morning, Mr. Patterson."
"Please, Dr. Scully --- I've repeatedly asked that you call me Tony. Mr. Patterson makes me feel like such an old man."
"Sorry," she replied, smiling shyly in apology. She moved to the foot of the boy's bed to join the man who, at six-foot-four, towered over her tiny frame. "So how did he do last night?"
"Great, actually. The nurse had to wake him a couple of times to check some things," he shrugged his shoulders to convey he had no idea what had been looked at, "but he slept just fine otherwise."
"Well, that's good news. I know you were concerned about the new medicine's effect."
His smile turned to a grimace for half a second --- remembering the violent retching and extreme fever Jeffrey had experienced when they switched his pain meds last week --- before his son's giggling over something on the screen, put it back on his face. "Yeah, but it seems like this one is doing the trick. You have no idea how grateful I am to you for putting in all those long hours to take care of him."
She glanced at the boy, still tickled by the scene he was watching. "The results are more than worth it. And," she craned her neck slightly to look Tony more fully in the eye, "after looking at his charts this morning, I think we can probably have him discharged by tomorrow afternoon."
Tony's jaw fell open. "Really? Well, that's great." However, his voice sounded slightly disappointed.
Dr. Scully's brow furrowed at this unexpected response. "I'm sorry," she said, apologizing for the second time in as many minutes. "I thought you'd be excited, given how anxious you seemed about all the school Jeffrey's been missing since the accident."
"Oh, I am," he chuckled nervously, unhappy that she'd picked up on his distress. "I am. It's just...I wasn't expecting it to be so soon. But this is good. He's really missed being with his friends."
"I'm sure he has," she said, trying to think of something to fix the awkwardness that had sprung from the news. Tony watched her shoulders rock back and forth --- the movement so slight it was only discernible because he had known to look for it --- as she cogitated.
"Daddy, what did Dr. Scully say?" The two adults jerked their head his direction, both startled and relieved at his interruption.
Tony grinned. "She said that you should probably call Kevin and Gabe to invite them to go to Mickey D's with us in a couple of days."
"Daddy!" the little boy gasped. "You mean I'm going home?"
He nodded, casting a sideways glance at Dr. Scully's smiling face and then down --- for the one-thousandth time --- at her left ring finger. Still nothing around it. Just then, she reached into the pocket of her pristine white lab coat to retrieve her cell. After flipping it up, he noticed her lips fighting to hide a smile --- trying to be sly about whatever the text said that had her pale neck and cheeks flushed --- as she pushed the phone back into her coat.
She turned to him, then. "So, I will go file the paperwork, make sure we get a physical therapy schedule worked out, and then" --- she grabbed Jeffrey's big toe through the blanket --- "I will see you two in the morning to talk about discharge procedures." Her smile signaled it was time for her to go.
"You got a big date tonight?" he said, hoping it sounded as nonchalant as he intended, as she turned towards the door.
She stopped where she was and cleared her throat, her smile barely cracking as she tried to hide her surprise at his question. "I'm sorry?"
"No, no," he chuckled. "You seemed really excited about going home. I just thought maybe you had special plans tonight or something."
"Oh." Now she was completely confused. She wondered if she had been rude or seemed overeager to get away from this place. "Well, no. But it's always nice to have a little time to myself to unwind from an 18-hour shift."
Tony nodded. "I can understand that. It'll be nice to have Jeffrey home again." He cast his bright blue eyes around the room. "I feel like I've begun living here myself."
"Well, the good news is that will all change tomorrow. You have the number for my direct line?" He nodded. "Call me if there's any change before tomorrow. Bye, Jeffrey," she waved.
He gave her a cheesy grin and she disappeared from the room.
Tony sighed and collapsed into the armchair beside his son's bed, the room suddenly seeming cold and dark without her presence. And, as he watched the rest of the cartoon with his son, he wondered how in the world he'd managed to fall in love with this beautiful woman who he had only known for a few weeks. There were so many questions he had for her and now he had less than twenty-four hours to get the answers.
The absence of a wedding band told him she was still unmarried, but he had a feeling there was someone in her life with whom she was very close. The way she blushed after reading that text made him think it must have been sexual, but then he quickly pushed the repulsive thought away. He had to focus on the most important questions --- the ones she might actually confide. Maybe he could persuade her into dinner sometime, or "bump" into her at one of the places he knew she frequented --- as he made sure she got home safely every night.
He kissed Jeffrey on the forehead and, with a promise of chicken nuggets upon his return, went out to the parking lot to wait for Dr. Dana Scully to get inside her white Ford Five-Hundred. After fiddling with his visor mirror and berating himself for looking so disheveled in front of a woman like that, he saw a small, dark shape coming from the east portion of the garage. His breath caught in his throat as he noticed her hair was now pulled into a loose knot at the base of her skull, exposing her long, graceful neck.
Suddenly the sound of her laughter echoed throughout the open structure; she was on the phone again. He tamped down on his rage, reminding himself it might just be one of her friends. Tony would not allow himself to think otherwise; it was too ridiculous. And, besides, there was something more important to be sorted out: how to convince her that she was the perfect person to become Jeffrey’s new mother.
March 29, 2008
"Dr. Scully! Dr. Scully!"
The small red-head turned at the sound of her name to see the little boy whose life had nearly been taken by a drunk driver less than two months before. "Jeffrey!" she greeted as he ran up to hug her around the waist. She waited until the air came back into her lungs to acknowledge the man by the shopping cart. "Tony. It's good to see the two of you out and about. How's he been holding up?"
"Oh, he's really struggling to make it through each day," Tony replied as Jeffrey bounced up and down while he held on to Dana's hand.
"Yes, I can see that," she laughed.
And, just as Tony opened his mouth to suggest that the three catch up over an "impromptu" dinner, an unfamiliar man with longish dark hair, big nose, and an air of arrogance strode up to her side. "Aren't you going to introduce me, Scully?"
Scully? the man thought. He must work with her at the hospital. I wonder why I've never seen him before? Are they shopping for things to take back to work? And then, he watched the same flush creep over her skin that he had seen when she approached her car the night at the hospital. "Sorry," she mumbled. "Mulder this is one of my former patients, Jeffrey Patterson, and his father, Tony. Tony, Jeffrey," she gestured to the tall man beside her, "this is Fox Mulder."
After coming down off his high of hearing Dana introduce him by name --- the sound rolling off her tongue like they'd known one another their whole lives --- Tony managed to ask the man, "Do you work at the hospital, too?"
Dana and Mulder exchanged sideways glances --- as if sharing some inside joke --- and Tony was suddenly stricken with the desire to throttle this "Fox Mulder".
"No, Mulder and I met a long time before I started working there."
"I see." And he did: they were an item. He hadn’t understood why the name sounded familiar until she, too called the man by his surname. It was meant with affection, almost possessively. The notion that the obnoxious man invading her space --- with no visible sign that this bothered her --- was someone she might love...? Tony’s fingers folded into his palm so tightly he was afraid he might have drawn blood.
Mulder eyed the man --- standing two inches taller than himself with decidedly more muscle --- who was currently doing the same, and felt the hairs on the back of his neck rise to attention. There was something strange about him; the way he'd been staring at Scully --- almost reverently --- when he approached the group.... He shook his head, quickly dismissing the thought as paranoia. Mulder had been locked away in that house for over half a decade, only to be let out recent days. He wasn't used to seeing his...his...? Well, jealousy over seeing a man look at Scully in the first time for so long was bound to happen.
"So I guess you live nearby?" she asked, breaking the silent pause that had befallen the group.
Jeffrey opened his mouth to speak, but Tony answered first. "Yeah, we just moved out here recently." His face darkened. "It was too hard to stay in the same neighborhood..."
Scully looked down at the ground, knowing he was referring to his wife's passing. She had found out from a friend of the Pattersons --- an ER resident who had been present when Jeffrey was brought in --- about the car accident that had taken Mary's life a little more than a year before Jeffrey's. She was on her way home from her job as a nurse at their local elementary school when a car opposite her lost control, hit the median, flipped, and crashed into her windshield. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
What Dana Scully couldn't know was that Tony was lying: they had moved, but it wasn't to this area. Tony's mother did live close by, however, and so he promised her they would pick up some groceries for her in the hopes that he would run into Dana. The past month --- when he wasn't at the hospital visiting with Jeffrey or working as a computer technician at the Computech department store in Richmond --- had consisted of tracking the doctor's routine. And every Saturday evening, around six, he had watched her make the trek from her country home to this super-sized market. What he hadn't seen, though, was a passenger in her car.
"So, Jeffrey was everyone at school glad to see you back?"
"Oh yeah!" The boy's face glowed in remembrance. "They had a big sign up and everyone wrote on it. Then I got cake!"
She and Mulder laughed at Jeffrey's exuberance. "It sounds like they missed you a lot," Mulder commented.
The boy smiled up at the man he had only just noticed. "Are you Dr. Scully's husband?"
Tony grabbed his son's hand, pulling him away from the doctor; a reaction Mulder didn't miss. "Jeffrey, I think we need to go. Your Nana is probably waiting with her home-made spaghetti and meatballs as we speak."
The diversion worked and Jeffrey was immediately climbing back onto Tony's cart. "It was good to see you again, Doctor. Nice meeting you, too," he replied without acknowledging the man's name.
"Be good, Jeffrey," she called as Tony pushed the cart quickly out of sight.
"Was that the kid you were telling me about a couple of weeks ago? " he asked now that they were alone.
She nodded, still thinking about the tragedy of his mother's death.
"You must have done a good job with him. The dad seemed...talkative."
She glanced up at her partner of nearly fifteen years --- well, eight if you counted from the beginning of their romantic relationship. "He's had to endure a lot of hardships as of late." She pushed the cart the opposite direction the father and son had gone. Mulder caught up to her in two long strides, knowing she would answer the questions in his mind without him having to voice them. "He lost his wife last year in a car accident...and then Jeffrey almost died the same way."
Mulder was instantly disgusted with his earlier jealousy. He knew what it was like to lose a son; but he couldn't imagine if, on top of that, he lost Scully, too. "It makes sense then. You saved him."
Scully reached for a gallon of skim milk, checking it for leaks before gently placing it in their cart. "Mulder, that's my job. The boy had internal---"
"No, not the boy."
She cocked an eyebrow at him. "What are you talking about?"
Mulder grabbed the shopping cart handle, his hazel eyes staring past the obstacle course of customers in the refrigerated aisle while steering past them with little effort. "If he had lost Jeffrey, too...after losing his wife...let's just say he wouldn't have lasted long."
A shiver raced up her spine at the certainty in his voice. She placed her tiny hand over his and their eyes locked; no more words were necessary.
Tony turned his back angrily as the man named Mulder leaned down to place a kiss atop her head. All those hours lying in bed, thinking of ways to ask her out had been for nothing, he told himself. But he wasn't the kind of person to give up so easily.
"Daddy can we go see Nana now?" Jeffrey asked, waiting patiently in the toy aisle where his father had positioned them to observe the couple without being seen himself.
Tony turned to smile at his little man. We're standing in the middle of a thousand toys and he's begging to see his grandmother? His heart constricted at the thought, his mission becoming that much clearer. "Yeah, we can go."
There were new plans to make now.
April 11, 2008
"You've reached the voice mailbox of 'Walter Skinner'"---droned the robotic voice of the Deputy Director's message center --- "please leave a message after the tone."
He bit nervously on his lip as he waited for the 'beep'. "Skinner, this is Mulder. There's...something's happened. It's Scully...I need help ASAP. Call me when you get this."
He clicked the red button on his cell, effectively ending the one-sided conversation, and looked again at the yellow sheet of legal paper in his trembling hand. Collapsing on the leather couch just inside the door, he read the note --- despite having already memorized it --- for the tenth time since he'd arrived home fifteen minutes before.
First, I want to say I'm sorry for not having the courage to say
this in person. But, after knowing you so long I have no doubt
you would have tried to talk me out of this.
It's ironic isn't it? I mean, as afraid as you say you are to lose me...
but you won't let yourself make a commitment, either. And, now I'm stalling.
This is so hard for me to say.... I've met someone. He makes me happy. It's so easy to forget all the pain in my life when I'm with him. Please don't try to come after me --- I need this. I just want a last chance at happiness. If you truly love me, then you'll let me go.
I'm so sorry.
"She met someone?" he said, repeating aloud the words that had mocked him in Scully's beautiful script. It's not that he couldn't believe it...in fact it was easy to believe. This was Scully, more beautiful, caring, brilliant, loyal than any woman he'd ever known. Definitely, he thought, more than he'd deserved.
But something about the letter itself niggled away at the back of his brain; made him question the validity of it. He knew, or thought he knew, Scully. And she was never one to stand down from a confrontation. Even when she was nearly forced to leave him ten years before, she had come to his apartment to let him know. To get a chance to say goodbye. I have no doubt you would have tried to talk me out of this. Just like he did that night when he finally admitted to her and himself that he couldn't live without her.
He wanted so badly to rip the offensive paper into a thousand pieces...but he didn't. There was something off. This was coming out of nowhere! He only hoped that by saving it, showing it to Skinner --- the only man who knew her nearly as well as himself, they might figure out her mysterious behavior.
Just three mornings before they had made love on this very couch. The thought assaulted his senses; the leather that had touched their bare bodies now seemed to burn him through his clothes. He stood, pacing across the room towards the fireplace. The vase she picked out when they were living in Montreal seemed to laugh at him. He sent it soaring towards the wall where it shattered upon impact.
Mulder had arrived home from a MUFON conference in Seattle and found the note taped to their bedroom door. Walking inside, the first thing he noticed was her closet doors: thrown open with nothing inside but a few plastic hangers. His heart lurched at the sight, a cold sweat suddenly damping his brow. He moved next to the bathroom and found all her toiletries and other belongings gone. It was like she'd never lived there at all. At that point, he was hyperventilating, his lungs never fully filling with the oxygen his body was desperate for. His knees suddenly gave out and he collapsed into a pile of mush on the floor.
A loud chirping brought him back to the present and he all but sprinted over to the coffee table to retrieve his phone. Picking it up, he quickly pressed "accept". "Sir, it's Scully" --- the man on the other end waited silently, praying it wasn't as he feared --- "she's...she's gone."
Mulder could hear the man take a shaky breath before answering. "I'll be right there."
April 9, 2008
Dana Scully awoke in the darkness with a pounding headache. What the hell had happened? She remembered being excited about going home after a twelve-hour day that had started with presenting the follow-up report on Christian's recovery process to the board. Unfortunately, Mulder wouldn't be home from his conference for two more days; but at least she would have some time to finally get some things done around the house. She'd been sleeping off and on at the hospital so, with Mulder in charge of housework, she could only imagine how disordered their place had become.
Her eyes popped open and a mixture of relief and surprise washed over her when she saw the walls of her bedroom and felt the familiar satin of her comforter pressed against the skin of her shoulder.
"Are you awake, sweetheart?" The unfamiliar voice, close enough to blow flyaway hairs around her face, put her on high alert. She immediately tried to sit up, only to have two strong hands forcing her back down.
She blinked, hoping it was all a dream, but when her eyes refocused they were staring into a pair of slightly, wild blue eyes. "Tony?"
"Yes," he breathed, pressing down with his body so he could free his arm to push the stray strawberry-blonde hairs from her eyes. "Don't be alarmed."
Her instincts told her to scream and push him away, but her years as an FBI agent had taught her how to drown those fears in order to survive. Engage him in conversation. Find out his motivation. "I don't remember getting home," she admitted, in as calm a voice as she could manage.
"Yes, I am sorry about that..." Tony grimaced, making it clear he would say no more on the subject.
Keep him talking, Dana reminded herself. "Has something happened to Jeffrey?"
He looked at her with a confused expression. "No...you think I'm here just... No." Suddenly, he moved off her and her eyes went wide at seeing the gun in his hand. Her gun.
"Shhh," he cooed, kneeling so that they were on the same level. "I really, really don't want to use this, but I will if you don't cooperate."
A million different scenarios ran through her head: rape, kidnapping, robbery, ransom. "What do you want from me?"
END Part 1/?