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He is the Master of His Fate, She is the Captain of Her Soul

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"Thank you for telling me," said FBI Special Agent Dana Scully before hanging up the phone and letting out a deep sigh. How was she going to tell Mulder this news? He was still recovering from his ordeal. She could think of numerous reasons to wait on this, but knew that she couldn't keep Diana's murder from him and it would be better to get the news from her anyways. Maybe. Whenever the two had discussed Diana Fowley, an argument had always erupted. She grabbed her car keys, locked the basement office door, and made her way to the parking garage.

As she started to drive in the direction of Special Agent Fox Mulder's apartment, her mind wandered to the events of the past week...

It appeared to Scully that those who took Mulder and operated on him hadn’t decided to stick around, and maybe even left him for dead. His bandaged head worried her immensely and she feared she was too late. Finally, she heard something that was music to her ears: “You… help… me.” Mulder’s voice sent waves of relief through Scully and she was able to get him to sit up on the table. She managed to get him to his feet and out the door, but their progress through the facility was slow-moving as she bore the majority of his weight.

Amazingly, that section of the DoD seemed to be deserted. Scully thought it was way too easy getting Mulder out of there. No one stopped them. In fact, she wasn’t questioned by a single person during their entire passage out of the facility. She assumed that the reason could be the key card that had been slipped under her door allowed her certain levels of clearance within the DoD, and while this was all extremely suspicious, at that moment she was too consumed with getting him out of there safely.

Once Scully had gotten him into the back seat of her car, she drove to Georgetown Memorial Hospital. For the next five days, the Department of Neurosurgery did test after test and finally cleared Mulder of the abnormal brain activity that he had suffered from weeks earlier.

“I don’t need those tests to tell me that my brain is back to normal, Scully,” he said from his hospital bed. “I already know it is. I knew it from the moment I woke up in that room and saw you there.”

Scully, who had remained at the hospital night and day by his side, was nonplussed. “I don’t see how that could be possible, Mulder. I didn’t have any of the rubbings on me. We couldn’t have known whether it would affect you the same way or not. Besides, you’d had your head cut open by goodness knows who or even what they did to you.”

He sighed. “I knew I was okay because I couldn’t read your mind anymore.”

She returned this statement with a blank stare and then a carefully arched eyebrow. “Excuse me? You’re saying you could read minds? Maybe you need to stay in the hospital longer, Mulder.”

“Scully, you have to believe me,” he replied. “It all started when I was shown those rubbings from the craft. I suddenly could hear all these voices. I didn't understand what was happening at the time. But when I was all doped up in the psychiatric ward, everything became clearer. I could read people’s minds. The doctors, Skinner, Kritschgau, my mother. Whenever they came into my room to see me, I could hear their thoughts. But I was unable to respond. Most of the time, it was all one confusing blur of sounds as everyone’s thoughts blended together whenever there were people outside my room. And nearly everyone who stood by my hospital bed spoke lies to me. The things that they said were not what their thoughts were saying.”

“If that’s true, then I guess you can now sympathize even more with Gibson Praise,” she remarked.

Mulder continued, gazing steadily into her eyes. “When everyone’s thoughts were just noise, there was one voice that stood out above the din. There was only one person in whom I could find no deceit, who didn’t have something to hide. There was only one person who spoke the complete truth."

“So, when I came back from Africa and spoke to you in the hospital, you could also hear what I was thinking?” Scully asked.

“Yes,” Mulder responded.

He watched as Scully’s face began to redden, but she didn’t look away. The two partners stared at each other for some seconds before a nurse entered the room with discharge papers.

...Once Mulder returned home, Scully continued to worry about him. Every couple hours she would give him a call to make sure he was all right. Her biggest fear was that the Cigarette Smoking Man would come for him again, that he wasn’t safe. This morning, one week after rescuing Mulder, she received the phone call informing her of Agent Diana Fowley’s murder.

The Metro PD didn’t have any leads and Scully knew that they would most likely never find the shooter. At that moment, she knew who had given her the DoD key card. She also realized that Diana Fowley had paid for that action with her life. Scully was unsure how this news would affect Mulder. Months earlier they had both seemingly come to a tacit agreement that Diana Fowley was a subject better left unspoken. It sure made for a more peaceful working relationship. She had been suspicious of Diana from the moment she returned to the FBI in Washington over a year ago. Events that occurred since then left little doubt in her mind of who Diana was really working for. These were suspicions that Mulder didn’t want to hear about, and it had started to create problems within their partnership.

Scully could understand that Mulder did not want to confront these possible truths about Diana because then he’d have to confront the validity of his past relationship with her all those years ago. These issues seemingly went unspoken in an effort to avoid the bickering that had been happening much more frequently since they had returned from Antarctica. Sometimes it seemed that they were constantly at odds. There was rarely any agreement between them, and if there was, compromise was reached begrudgingly. Everything was a battle. What once would have been a partial and impassioned discussion, was now always an argument. There was so much frustration simply in the tone of voice they were using with each other.

Thankfully, the bickering had lessened recently. But now there was a marked silent tension between them that at times was so thick Scully felt one could cut through it with a knife. For a while, she thought the tension and bickering only occurred whenever Diana was discussed, but truthfully the tension was there at all times.

Scully was afraid to ask Mulder about Diana, afraid of what he’d say, afraid of how he might feel about Diana, afraid to learn that he was seeing her outside the workplace, afraid to learn that she needed to compete with her, and that if pushed, he would actually choose Diana. Scully had decided that she’d rather not know. She had tried to convince herself that she was simply afraid of being pushed out of the X-Files, being pushed out of a partnership with Mulder, and that he would rather have a partner that agreed with his theories instead of one who questioned his every idea.

In reality, Scully was afraid of her own fear and what it truly meant, was afraid of her own feelings, which the emergence of Diana Fowley had forced her to accept once and for all. However, acknowledgement of her feelings was one thing, speaking them out loud was another thing altogether. As she drove from the office to Mulder’s apartment, she wondered if Diana’s murder would have an adverse effect on their partnership. She may have been afraid to learn that his feelings for her didn’t run as deep, but she knew that she couldn’t handle the tension anymore.

*****

Upon hanging up the phone, Mulder sat in silent reverie. Albert Hosteen was dead, and he’d been in a coma for two weeks. He also hadn’t left New Mexico in almost a year. So how could he have travelled to Washington to see Scully last week? Could she have just dreamed it? Or, in a state of exhaustion, have hallucinated the whole thing? It wasn’t like her to confuse reality. He needed to talk to her right away. He got back on the phone and called the office.

“Voicemail. Damn,” he said aloud before hanging up. It had only been two days since he’d seen her, but it felt like much longer. The thought of heading to work and hanging out with her in the office was very appealing. He knew he was supposed to be resting, but he couldn’t wait. He headed into the bedroom to get dressed.

Scully parked outside Mulder’s apartment building, but it took her a minute or two to steel herself before getting out of the car.