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OTM sheildOUT OF THE MAINSTREAM

19-LOY

SCULLY'S CASE FILES

LOYALTY AND HONOUR.

PALEOCLIMATOLOGY DEPT

AMERICAN UNIVERSITY

In the cold, spartan stairwell, the heavily sprung fire door clanged shut so loudly it left a distinct echo but Scullyís ears were already ringing. She knew she was hurt. The question was, how badly. Her back, certainly, and at first she was frightened she may have dislocated her shoulder or worse maybe even cracked a collar bone. It didnít matter that she was uncomfortable and sprawled in an undignified heap at the bottom of the stairs. Thatís where she deserved to beÖ after all she had let her assailant get away.

Scully didnít want to move and bring on the pain, but she couldnít stay there. After what seemed like an age she gingerly pushed herself up with her right hand and twisted her body to ease into a sitting position against the steps. She hugged sore ribs and leaned forward to catch her breath. She was so glad that no one was around to see her like this. God knows what she thought she was doing taking on a man twice her size in a confined space where she couldnít even get in a kick if needed.

Predicably it ended in an untidy grapple and it had been too easy for him to pull her around and push her off balance at the edge of the stairs. Next thing she knew she was falling through thin air, then not much else until she had hit the landing. She had paid the price for her folly and now felt embarrassed and just a little ashamed. Served herself right!

Scully finally reached up to clamp her fingers around the rail and, with a grunt, pulled herself to her feet. She stretched herself to her full height then stood stock still while testing her ability to stay upright and to ride out the wave of pain. Reassured she was mostly intact she turned to take the stairs very slowly.

Back in the corridor Dr Vitagliano saw Scully walking toward him with the hint of a limp and cradling her left arm. She looked dishevelled and dusty. Something was obviously wrong.

"Agent Scully, whatís happened?" He reached out to take her elbow, a gesture of help.

"One of the ice core samples has been stolen. I wasnít able to stop the man getting away, Iím afraid." She didnít try to hide the fact that she had failed and that she was in a hell of a lot of discomfort.

Dr Vitagliano could see for himself. "Youíre hurt."

"I was, ah, thrown down the stairs," she explained, half laughed and didnít know why. It seemed to him she was trying to hide the pain beneath humour.

Dr Vitagliano quickly ushered her inside to his lab and sat her down so he could examine her. He checked for possible symptoms of head trauma and while he found none he couldnít dismiss the possibility of concussion. He asked her to raise her arm and felt her neck and the line of her shoulder for any obvious injuries. Pushing her arm out to its fullest extension was clearly painful for her as she winced and cradled it again.

While he worked, Scully answered all his questions truthfully. Yes, she may have hit her head (although most of what happened after she crashed onto the first step was confused, there was a tell-tale tender area under her left eye). Yes, she had little movement in her shoulder right now and her arm was stiff and sore. No, she didnít feel nauseous but did admit to a headache.

One piece of information she kept to herself. There was no sign of a nosebleed, and she was grateful for that. Of all the things she didnít need right now it was to be encumbered by her condition.

Dr Vitagliano filled a tumbler of water. "I think weíd better get you to hospital for a thorough examination - x-rays and scans. All right?"

Scully wasnít inclined to argue. She took the glass he offered and he said: "Sorry, I donít have anything stronger. Nothing drinkable that is."

His light hearted remark caused her to smile.

"Just hang on here Agent Scully while I organise some transport."

"No, itís okay. I have a car parked in your zone," she explained quickly.

"You canít drive with that arm. Iíll take you."

She was about to protest, saw the logic in it, so she nodded and smiled slightly. "Thanks."

The trip to the hospital was short and mostly silent. However, Scully did press Vitagliano to continue his tests on the hybrid cellular material he found within the matrix of the core samples. The information was vital. He understood the urgency. He saw her into emergency with a promise that he would make it his top priority. She thanked him for his help and assistance.

Scully was admitted for tests when it was found she had been bleeding. The back of her jacket was scuffed and worn and both it and her blouse were blood stained. Several tender abrasions dotted her back. Before, she wouldnít even have been scratched but now her weakened condition left her open to injury. To tell the truth this worried her so she followed their advice. After treatment they gave her a room to rest and await the results.

Scully asked the admissions clerk to call her mother. She did not want to have to explain herself and cause her to worry unduly. Not only that, her mother was likely to blow her top. Mrs Scully wanted her to give up work, although she had never actually said so. This latest incident would only make matters worse. She knew she couldnít even contact Mulder and warn him of these new developments. She had no idea where he was or even if he was okay. For all these reasons Scully was unsettled and more than a little upset. She placed a hand onto the bedrail and looked around her to the four walls of the private room.

This was beginning to be a habit she did not need. Had she been on a sports team, the franchise would have seen that she was spending more time on the injured list than on the field and might be forced to consider her future as an active player. Scully had seen more of the inside of hospitals lately than she really cared to. Doctors never made good patients. She fidgeted, fretted, and paced up and down. Rest was the furthest thing from her mind. Fortunately the x-rays and scans gave her the all clear. Although her shoulder was still a little sore, she would manage. She decided to dress, ready to go.

As she buttoned her blouse, Scully utilised the large mirror to rue the reddening bruise forming under the left eye. Her mother still hadnít arrived and she didnít feel like hanging around. She would wear the same clothes if she had to. There was a line of inquiry she was determined to pursue and time was important. One way or another she would find out the identity of the man who had stolen the ice core sample.

The door opened to gentle knocking. Bill Scully peered around it. "Dana?" *

She turned and was surprised to see her brother. "Bill, what are you doing here?"

Bill entered. He was dressed in civvies and carried a suit-bag of her clothes. "I picked up the phone when they called momís." He explained as he closed the door and walked towards her. "They said you could use a change of clothes." He seemed cheery enough.

Dana glanced at the bag he was carrying as she continued buttoning her blouse more out of modesty now than anything else. She appreciated his gesture but was a little confused. "Thank you. Um, whereís mom?"

Bill suddenly became somewhat serious. "I didnít tell mom what happened."

Somehow sensing what was about to come Dana pursed her lips and looked down. Bill had to ask.

"So what did happen?"

She gestured defensively with her right hand. What to say? She didnít look at him. "I, ah, got knocked down a flight of stairs." She turned to face him yet still avoided his eyes, "but Iím okay, luckily."

Her explanation didnít satisfy him. "Youíre not okay, Dana." He felt he had to broach the subject. She looked up sharply.

Finally Dana let out a weary breath and all the pain and fatigue she had been suppressing captured her eyes. She had been dreading this moment. Barriers were crumbling. He was her brother after all.

For Bill this was unfamiliar ground. He was very concerned for his sister and a little angry that she hadnít confided in him. For Godís sake, this was life threatening! He swallowed hard.

"I know about your cancer." He, too, averted his eyes. This was painful, and he didnít want it to become heated but he couldnít hide his feelings.

It was equally difficult for Dana. She knew, even without him saying so, that her mother had disregarded her wishes and told him about her condition. Oddly, she understood now the significance of his birthday card.

She wasnít totally surprised her mother had confided in Bill because they had always had a special relationship. Bill was the first born and with their father now gone, had taken on the mantle of head of the family. He regarded it as his duty and his responsibility. Bill was an honourable man. It didnít matter that she didnít need a father figure.

"I told Mom not to tell you." Her voice held a tremor.

Bill Scully was clearly hurt at being shut out. "Why?"

Dana struggled not only with her own feelings but with adequate words to express them. "Because itís very personal." Bill cocked his head - a silent question. "Because I donít want sympathy," she explained. She didnít want to be swamped by his compassion.

He shook his head, and half smiled in pity. She was fooling herself. Dana wasnít making it an issue because it wasnít a problem, obviously she had convinced herself there were alternatives. "You think you can cure yourself," he suggested.

She didnít answer. Whatever he assumed, one thing she was certain of - she wasnít going to let this thing beat her. Her confidence on that level remained firm until he said: "Mom tells me that youíve gotten worse, that the cancer has gone into your bloodstream."

A harsh reminder. It was hard enough knowing it yourself, gut wrenching to hear someone else tell it to you. Cruel reality hit her like a body blow. Her eyes became glassy. What could she say? Bill was at a loss to understand her obvious denial that everything had changed as a result of her illness.

"What are you doing at work getting knocked down, beaten up? What are you trying to prove? That youíre going to go out fighting?"

That hurt, because she knew he was right in a way, but he was over-reacting. She was coping, wasnít she? She tried to calm him. "Oh now, come on, Bill _"

He finally reacted to his anger and her apparent stupidity. He threw the suit bag onto the bed and stepped closer, mouth drawn into a thin line.

"Do you know what mom is going though? Why do you think I didnít tell her when they called?"

The outburst surprised her and she became defensive. "What should I be doing?"

He told her straight. "We have a responsibility, not just to ourselves, but to the people in our lives!"

Sheíd had enough. This was interference, regardless of the circumstances. "Hey, look," she stabbed the air with her hand and walked towards him, "just because I havenít bared my soul to you or to Father McCue or to God, doesnít mean that Iím not responsible to whatís important to me!"

Bill didnít back down. "To what? To who? This guy Mulder? Now where is he, Dana? Where is he through all this?" He was still angry that Mulder had dragged her away from family and friends and that she had willingly jumped at his beck and call. What right did he have?

Bill had hit a raw nerve, and Dana set her jaw. Mulder wasnít responsible for this. She turned away from her brother and picked up the suit bag. As far as she was concerned the conversation was at an end. She dismissed him with a curt: "Thank you for coming," and strode past him to the adjoining bathroom.

"Dana?"

His plea was ignored as she turned her back on him to close the door firmly. He stood bewildered and upset. He had seen the tell-tale marks of her injuries, the bright red patches staining the white of her blouse. He felt a stab of pain in his heart. How could he protect her if she didnít want him to? What could he do? Hog tie her?

Bill was still there when Dana emerged from the bathroom. She had changed, and as she draped the soiled clothes over her arm she paused at the door. He was standing with hands in pockets, looking a little sheepish.

"I figured maybe you could use a ride home," he explained in a low voice.

"No. Itís okay. Iíve got a car downstairs."

"You all right to drive?"

"Iím okay." Not necessarily dismissive but he could tell she was still upset with him. Dana walked past him to gather together her few possessions: phone, wallet, gun.

Bill eyed the automatic with interest. It mystified him why Dana had taken up weapons again after that incident with the snake as a kid. She had been so affected by it she had never touched that BB gun again. Funny thing was she had always been a crack shot.

Thinking about the old days made him change his tone. "Why donít you come home, Dana. Come home and have lunch with mom and me. We havenít had a chance to talk." He wanted to share her life, to share his - there was so much he wanted to tell her. Heíd been away at sea a long time.

"Thereís something I need to do." Always an excuse.

"This case youíre working on?"

She nodded.

"Is there anything I can do to help?" The need to keep her engaged in conversation in order to change her mind came without proper thought. It was silly for him to say and he knew it as soon as the words came out of his mouth. Finally Dana turned to face him.

"Youíre D.O.D., Bill, not Justice. Itís not your jurisdiction." She didnít put him down, merely pointed out the fact.

He smiled, feeling the weight of being foolish. "Youíre right. Youíre the law enforcement officer. Iím just a simple sailor." He wiped a hand over his mouth. Clearly nothing he could say was worth a damn. He was wasting his time. All their lives Dana had never been afraid of, or intimidated by him. She had always stood up for herself. This was no different.

Bill turned to leave, defeated, clearly upset. It would have been so easy to let him go, so she could get on with what she had to do, but Dana couldnít let it go at that, couldnít bring herself to do so. She was probably going to regret it.

"Just try to understand, Bill," she pleaded, but with a decided edge to her voice she couldnít hide. Why did she have to justify herself to him? Why couldnít he just let her get on with it?

He stopped and turned. "Understand? Canít you see Iím concerned? Iím your brother, for Godís sake."

"My brother, not my father. Donít crowd me, Bill. I make my own choices. Iíll decide."

He stood firm."I just donít see what makes this so important."

She spread her hands. "As career Navy, I thought you, of all people, would understand."

"Why, because you sore an oath?"

"Yes." She paused, and formed her words carefully so that there would be no doubt. "I would never question your commitment. Why do you question mine? Just let me serve in my own way."

He thought a moment, perhaps examining an argument he hadnít considered. "I do understand the commitment, Dana, but itís not just about duty and honour, is it?"

She didnít answer.

"You donít owe the FBI anything, Dana. Youíve done your time." She looked at him with a frown and he went further. "You donít owe this guy, Mulder either."

Suddenly she exploded. "How the hell would you know!" It was fire cracker air. Her venom nearly knocked him over. She saw how it hit him, and hurt him. Their passions completely dominated their feelings. Dana bit her tongue and finally fought to quell her temper. She stood stock still fists clenched. It wasnít Mulderís fault! "Just let me get on with my life, canít you?"

"Whatís left of it." He instantly hated himself for being so harsh, and Dana reacted predicably.

"Iím not standing here to be lectured by you."

Why couldnít she see what was so painfully obvious? Through her association with that guy they had lost Melissa. All right, so he did blame Dana, but only to extent that he kept defending him. That partner of hers and his goddamn quest to find his little green aliensÖ Mulder was the reason and the cause. And now Danaís very life was on the line.

"Damn it Dana, I love you, you know. Why risk your health further? I donít want to lose you, too."

Her whole bearing changed. Ghosts were still near. "I know. You wonít." Her voice was soft, gentle.

"How can you say that when itís only a matter of time? You should be taking things easy, not running around at their beck and call." He purposely left Mulder out of it this time, even if it was who he meant.

Dana shifted uneasily. Bill pressed his point.

"Canít you see what youíre doing? Youíre just wasting that valuable time."

"Iím not wasting anything." Her eyes drilled into his.

He looked to the ceiling then shook his head. "God, youíre stubborn, you know that?"

"So are you." It was a quick-fire reply.

Bill took her by the shoulders. She stiffened under his touch, winced and couldnít prevent the involuntary grunt of pain. He let her go like he had picked up hot coals, and stepped back, unsure. But when he saw her face, he realised that any argument, however logical would not sway her from her purpose.

Danaís expression was one, not of hurt but a mixture of defiance, pride and fierce determination. She would not take the backward step. For the first time he got an inkling of what her heart was telling him, and he suspected she was involved in a conflict on two fronts.

"Iím sorry." He said, meaning it.

"Itís okay."

He wiped a hand over his mouth, then dug his fists into his trouser pockets. "You know, you were always smarter than the rest of us - the best student, the familyís brightest star. I always envied you. You were even better at sports than I was."

"Bill -"

He spread his hands. "Jesus, Dana, I wasnít here for you or mom when you were abducted. Do you know how that makes me feel? Both of you needed me and I wasnít here. I have to put that rightÖ" He swallowed hard and his eyes revealed the hurt. "Let me put it right."

Dana moved up to him and put her arms around him. Head resting on his chest she squeezed him hard. "I donít blame you. It took time to get emergency leave. I understand that."

She felt him shake his head, and he confessed in a low voice. "Iím just trying to hold this family together the way dad would have done. I donít seem to be doing a very good job. What would dad think of me?" Again she squeezed him hard.

"Thereís nothing that can break this family apart, Bill. Believe me, dad would have no reason to complain." She held him at armís length. "All I ask is that you let me decide how I deal with this thing."

His eyes narrowed. "It isnít easy for the rest of us, Dana. God knows what it must be like for you." She saw his eyes glisten. "Come back to us. Come home. Whatever happens, weíll be there for you."

She smiled at his proposal. It was a tempting offer, but she didnít have a real choice. "I promise that if it gets too much then Iíll do as you ask. But it has to be my decision."

Bill put his hand on her arm, lightly, gently. After a moment he said: "Show me your badge."

"What?" His request took her totally by surprise.

"Your badge, I want to see it."

Dana took the ID wallet from the inside pocket of her jacket and handed it to him. He flipped it open and took a good long look at the gold shield, her photo, the crest and its inscription: Integrity, Bravery, Fidelity. The credentials were impressive. He knew the work she had put in to earn them. "I guess I just assumed the FBI was nothing more than a bunch of glorified cops. I guess I just didnít want to understand how important this is to you."

She looked him straight in the eye. "As important as the Navy is to you."

Billís expression softened and he nodded as he handed her ID wallet back. It wasnít the only thing he put back into her hands. With it he also surrendered his opposition - for now. "Iíll walk you to your car."

Dana touched his arm and her brother hefted her things for her. Bill never questioned his sisterís courage, but he couldnít shake the feeling that Mulder was influencing her thinking to a dangerous degree. Her loyalty to him was unshakeable and he was afraid for her, afraid that her devotion would be her downfall.

Dana loved her brother and was proud of him. The rows of medal ribbons he wore on his uniform werenít merely decoration. He was a John Wayne hero, honest and plainspeaking to a fault. Nevertheless he could be pig-headed. Big brother, quarterback, captain of the crew, Bill needed to be in charge. She had always let him think so. Billís heart had always been in the right place. He held honour above all else.

An accommodation reached, they left the room side by side in an agreed silence. The same purposeful stride, so similar, so different. Dana slipped her arm through his.

Billís concern was mollified by Danaís determination, and while this division in principals could not be bridged both knew that the values their father had instilled continued to bind them inextricably together. Ironically it was those same ideals that kept them apart. Two identical convictions now irreconcilable differences, simple yet strong: loyalty and honour.

...

*Underlined dialogue from ĎGETHSEMANEí written by Chris Carter.

--end of file--

C L Goodwin 1999

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