Shrink
ErinStone1@AOL.com
Rated: PG-13
Spoilers: none
Category: Scully/Slash
Archive: Yes-please make me aware of any final posts to a site.
Feedback: Any/all is welcome
Disclaimer: Scully and Mulder are not mine. I make no profit from this story.
Summary: Scully decides she needs to take responsibility for her unhappiness.


Shrink - Chapter 1

"Ms. Scully?"

"Yes." Scully looked up expectantly from her spot on the too-hard couch. The receptionist had come around to the door separating the offices from the waiting room. She smiled tightly as she held the door open.

"The doctor's ready for you. Would you follow me please?"

'But am I ready for the doctor?' Scully thought to herself as she stood quickly and followed the woman into a large office. The furniture here looked much more accommodating. A large sofa was diagonally set in front of a fireplace. Two accent chairs sat directly across from it. On the other side of the room was a large wooden, highly buffed desk with two deep plush chairs facing it, each in a different primary color. Artwork hung on every wall, subtle and tasteful in relationship to the room's furnishings.

The receptionist gave her another tight smile, "Dr. Aris will be right in. Please sit wherever you'll be most comfortable." She shut the door behind her and left Scully to agonize about her seating choices.

In the end she chose a chair across from the desk. Which of course she would. Regardless of the nature of her visit here she intended to maintain as much of her personal dignity as possible.

A shrink.

Imagine.

Sure, she'd been to one before, through the bureau. And it had helped, marginally. But she had made this appointment without the bureau's knowledge. She'd been confused, depressed. Now she was merely irritated with herself for letting this day come without canceling her appointment. She was certain she still needed some help. She just wasn't so sure she wanted it now, today. She'd fought a panicky feeling in her gut all day. It rose and fell every time she looked at the clock. 'One time' she told herself. 'I'll go one time and if I don't like this psychologist I don't see any point in coming back.'

She rearranged herself in the chair several times. Took her coat off and put it back on.

Took it off again.

A door opened behind the desk. Not that anyone would know it was a door as it was completely hidden in the paneling until it was opened. A woman walked through it. Blonde, 5'7", glasses...

"Ms. Scully." It was not a question. The shrink came around the desk and extended her hand. Scully smiled weakly and took it, shaking involuntarily as well as out of obligation. The trembling in her fingers embarrassed her as she pulled her hand away.

"I'm Dr. Aris. It's a pleasure to meet you."

The smile seemed genuine enough. Her handshake wasn't one of those cold fish events Scully hated but usually got from other women. She knew, however, that this woman was cooking her every move. There is a reason she tells the receptionist to let clients know they can sit anywhere they're comfortable. Scully found herself wishing she'd sat on the couch. Sitting across the desk shows I'm afraid of human contact, closed off.

Her stomach sunk again. She groaned inwardly...'Why am I here.'

"Can you tell me why you're here?" Dr. Aris had deep rich vocal tones; comforting; lovely timbre.

It was irritating.

Scully took a deep breath and blew it out audibly. She looked the woman in the eye, "I'm not sure."

Dr. Aris regarded her seriously for a moment, then smiled. "I almost just said to you that I think you are. I have a lot of clients who want to be told why they're here."

Scully felt herself bristle.

"But looking at you now... I believe you. I believe that you're not sure what it is that's depressing you so much."

'Ok. Off kilter. Am I still angry?'

"Let's start with this, ok? Do you prefer Ms. Scully or Dana?"

"You can call me Dana, that will be fine."

"Ok." Again the soft deep voice....

"What should I call you?" Scully lobbed a challenge.

"How bout Gail?"

"Is that your name?" Scully wanted to eat her words as soon as they'd come out.

Dr. Aris laughed loudly, "Yeah." She looked startled.

Scully relaxed into the chair for the first time since the doctor had walked through the door. "I'm sorry." She looked at her hands clasped in her lap, "That was rude. I think I may be a little nervous."

"Don't worry about it Dana." She paused as she watched her for a moment. "Please. It's ok."

"You have a very soothing voice."

"Do I?"

"Yes."

"It's bugging you isn't it?" Dr. Aris smiled at her.

"How did you know?"

"Because just now as you mentioned it you nearly twisted your index finger off.

Scully placed her hands apart on each of the chair's armrests. She looked at Dr. Aris sheepishly. "Sorry."

"It's ok. The problem is I can't do much about it."

"I wouldn't expect..." Scully's voice trailed off.

"How was your day?"

Scully looked up, confused. "My day?"

"Yeah. How was work?" Dr. Aris wasn't smiling anymore.

"It was long. My day was long."

"Why?"

Scully wouldn't look at her. Her mouth tightened, "In all honestly I was nervous about coming here. I picked up the phone to cancel this appointment about 4 times."

Dr. Aris settled back into her chair and crossed her legs at the knee. "I'm glad you didn't. I'm glad you're here."

Scully shifted uncomfortably in the chair.

"Can I ask you some questions Dana?"

"Yes."

"What time do you get up in the morning?"

Scully's brow furrowed but she answered the question, "Generally speaking around 4:30."

Dr. Aris nodded her head. "Ok. What time do you go to bed?"

"It varies. Between ten and midnight most nights unless I'm out of town."

Dr. Aris stared at her with overt seriousness. Scully stared back.

"At any time. During 4:30 am and midnight of any day, are you what you would consider... happy?"

Scully didn't need to think about the question. She didn't need to mull it over. Her head felt heavy.

She looked Dr. Aris in the eye.

"Dana..."

Scully's eyes filled with tears, her lids closed slowly and opened as she blinked with what seemed like a lot of effort. Her lips seemed to swell and it was difficult for her to answer, physically and emotionally. Finally she said, "No."

Dr. Aris opened a side drawer in her desk and pulled out a small box of Kleenex. She came around the desk and sat down next to her in the other chair, handing the box over.

"Thank you." Scully said, not looking at her as she took the box from her hand.

Dr. Aris sat quietly as Scully wiped her face and blew her nose. When she appeared to be done crying the doctor went back around to her side of the desk.

"I'm wondering if you would prefer to go by 'Ms. Scully'. Every time I use the name Dana you wince a little."

Scully laughed slightly. "Only my family calls me Dana. I usually go by Scully."

"Would it be alright if I called you Scully? Or is that reserved for someone else?"

Scully contemplated the question for a moment. "Would Ms. Scully be alright for now?"

"Absolutely."

"I guess I'd prefer to call you Dr. Aris instead of Gail."

"That works for me."

Scully let out a sigh.

"Are you alright?"

Scully looked at her and nodded.

"Want to go on or would you like me to stop?"

Scully took in the features of the woman across from her slowly, then looked down to her desk top.

The seconds ticked by and Scully still hadn't answered.

Oddly enough Dr. Aris said nothing.

Scully readjusted herself in the chair, crossing her legs. She looked out the window briefly and then back to Dr. Aris. "I think I'd like to continue."

A slow smile made its way across the doctor's face. She slid a little lower in her chair and seemed to be propping her feet up on something underneath the desk. She sighed a little and looked Scully in the eye.

"Tell me about your family Ms. Scully."

-end-


Shrink - Chapter 2

Marlene raised her eyes to the redhead standing before her in the lobby. Dr. Scully started to talk and Marlene acted for a moment as though she was listening. Then shook her head vaguely and pulled back the glass over her desk that separated her area from the lobby. The redhead looked mildly irritated.

"I'm sorry." Marlene used her detached office manager voice. "I didn't hear you Dr. Scully."

Scully raised a brow at her, "Obviously."

Marlene said, "Just cleaned the glass."

"You do good work, I didn't even see that it was there."

"Seamless." Marlene stated, lips tight.

Scully gave her a tight lipped smile in return. "I'd like to make another appointment."

Marlene's eyes and demeanor softened. She was used to other doctor's waltzing in and out of the office. They treated Dr. Aris as if she had a revolving door. No appointments set, no appointment times valued. It pissed her off. Normally they'd leave without making another appointment and then call a week later in a panic wanting to see Dr. Aris 'immediately'. She had figured Dr. Scully as one of those. She was wrong.

"So your appointment went well?"

Scully was suspicious of her sudden change and interest. "Yes. It was very helpful."

Marlene smiled at her genuinely, "I'm glad."

Scully smiled back. "Is Friday at the same time all right?"

Marlene consulted her scheduling book, "Yes, it sure is. Shall I make it ongoing?"

"That would be great. Thank you." Scully turned to leave, thought better of it and turned back around, "What's your office policy on cancellations? My job dictates that I go out of town often and most of the time I don't get much of a notice."

"Well, Dr. Aris has a strict 24 hour cancellation policy. The Dr. charges the full one hour rate if we don't receive notice at least 24 hours in advance."

Scully winced and Marlene added, "I, however, ignore that policy." She smiled broadly at Scully. "Just call when you can."

"Thank you..."

"Marlene."

"Thank you Marlene."

"Any time Dr. Scully. Have a nice weekend."

"You too."


After Dr. Scully had left the lobby Marlene rang Dr. Aris phone intercom.

"Yes?"

"Doctor, Mr. McCain canceled his appointment. Dr. Scully was your last for today."

"That bastard!" Came loudly back at her over the speaker.

Marlene smiled at her phone. Dr. Aris' sense of humor often came in the form of over reaction. Although Marlene thought the outbursts to be funny she rarely let the doctor know it. She saw no good reason to encourage her. "I noticed that you didn't pass my office on the way to your appointment with Dr. Scully." She could hear some paper shuffling and a vague 'ya?'.

Marlene pursed her lips. "Don't you think that's a bit unfair?"

"What's that?"

"Springing out of your wall at new clients."

A slight laugh over the intercom, and then, "When have you ever seen me 'spring' Marlene, honestly."

"It's got to be terribly intimidating." Marlene scolded.

"How would you have me enter?"

"Through my door. Better yet, turn that paneled number into a real door so people can see you coming. As it stands your like Eddie Munster, coming out of the steps."

Having no idea what she was talking about Dr. Aris continued her defense. "I enjoy my panel door. I happen to think it makes me look cool."

"Yes, well I think it makes you look odd. I'm packing up."

"Have a good weekend Marlene."

"You too Doctor."


Marlene walked to her spot in the parking lot. She struggled with her keys and her purse, the purse that Dr. Aris referred to as her 'luggage'. "Marlene, do you have a Band-Aid in your luggage? I've got a wicked paper cut..."

In the two years she'd worked for the doctor Marlene had never once felt the need to call her 'Gail'.

She'd answered an ad, shortly after her husband Al had died. She was 57 years old then. He had been 58. Prostate cancer had taken him nearly overnight. She'd worked some, but not for four years before she'd lost him. She'd retired early and they were going to travel together until they'd seen all there was to see. Things didn't work out the way they'd planned.

The ad she answered had read like this:

Needed for immediate opening: Surrogate Mother/Office Manager for 33 year old, grown women. Must be able to use a word processor and take endless crap. Please apply in person.

And now she was 59. Retirement rarely entered her mind anymore.

She loved her job. She loved Dr. Aris, although she'd never say so. Marlene had raised kids of her own; two of them. But she felt like the Doctor was the daughter she'd raised the best. Such a smart woman, so beautiful... funny. Marlene was proud of her. She kept a scrap book at home of all her accomplishments. From the published papers to the short quotes in the newspaper, Marlene had it all. She knew if she were to show the Doctor it would only serve to embarrass her, so she kept this to herself.

The doctor never asked about her personal life, never prodded into her business. Once, when there was a health scare with one of her kids the doctor gave her time off without hesitation. She also made several phone calls to specialists to make sure her daughter Jenny had the best care. Marlene found out later that Dr. Aris had called a cleaning service to clean Jenny's home the day before she came home from the hospital. She remembered walking Jenny through the door and seeing the floor sparkle, flowers everywhere. There was of course no note.

Dr. Aris never mentioned it. Marlene didn't either.

Marlene never asked about the doctor's personal life. I was not at all her business. She knew however that Dr. Aris was a lesbian. She'd taken too many calls from women asking for 'Gaily' to not get an inkling about her sexuality. She'd be asked by the doctor, rather frantically, to turn certain women away at the desk. She'd then help the doctor pretend to be out of town, smiling benignly at lovely young women looking desperately at the doctor's office door.

She'd turn them away as politely but firmly as possible and intercom back to the doctor. "She's gone."

She'd get an embarrassed 'Thank you Marlene' back.

Fortunately for the doctor Marlene had no qualms regarding homosexuality. She found the anger some displayed toward it distasteful and simply bad time management. There were far better things to be upset about than what consenting adults do in the privacy of their own homes. As for the religious implications, well, she didn't see the ruckus about that either. She considered herself Methodist. Her mother had called it 'Methodoitall' and Marlene supposed that was true but it worked just fine for her and her family. Most Methodist Churches allowed gays and lesbians to worship within their walls. She thought anyone who had a problem with that was most likely a moron.

She wished the doctor would go to church now and then. It might just cut down on the phone calls and the desk 'turn-aways'.

The thought made her smile.

For as much as the doctor had done for Marlene she believed too that Dr. Aris would be completely lost without her.

There was a time when the doctor was so ill with the flu that she'd canceled all her appointments. Marlene stopped by her house to drop off some files and found her in bed, her temperature well out of the safety range. She'd offered to get her to the hospital buy was refused without ceremony. Apparently Dr. Aris was afraid of medical doctors. An irony not lost on Marlene. She stayed at the doctor's house through the night and most of the next day. She ran cold washcloths to her, fed her soup, fed her cat...

Dr. Aris showed her appreciation for Marlene's help by giving her regular raises. It seemed to Marlene that when she did retire she'd be making more than the Doctor.

Through it all Marlene never let on to Dr. Aris that she enjoyed her jokes, or that she thought Dr. Aris was brilliant, or, that she truly loved her like she was one of her own children. She let her think that the jokes were irritating. She let her believe that she wasn't all that impressed with her brilliance.

And Marlene supposed that it was the reason they worked so well together. It was the balance. The trust.

She turned into her neighborhood and wondered what had inspired these deep thoughts late on a Friday afternoon. Then she considered the panel door. Somehow she'd have to talk the good doctor into changing that thing.

-end-


Shrink - Chapter 3

Marlene sat her purse inside the bottom slide out drawer of her desk and hit the message play button on the phone system. It was 7:36 Monday morning and the machine was flashing 14 messages.

Marlene always came in at least an hour before the office was officially open. She liked to get organized for her day and take advantage of the early morning quiet time. It also made the drive into Georgetown easier on her.

Dr. Aris, on the other hand, would show up 20 minutes before her first appointment. And, she preferred to not have any appointments scheduled until well into the morning.

Dr. Aris was not a morning person.

Marlene sat in her chair and transferred the phone messages onto paper, occasionally stopping the machine to rewind it to catch whole phone numbers. 'Why in god's name do they talk so fast when they must =know= that someone is trying to write this stuff down?' Marlene growled and rewound the same message for a third time.

She'd gotten through 13 messages and sat with pen poised to take the fourteenth. The first thing she noticed was the background noise. It was loud music, very loud.

'We've got a loadie.' Marlene murmured.

'Loadie' was the doctor's term for someone who'd gone into an episode of mental instability. In other words - someone who'd 'freaked'.

She listened to the music a second longer and was reaching to hit the 'delete' button when a voice, slightly louder than the music, rang out at her.

"Is the doctor in? Is the doctor in? Is the doctor in?" The male caller sounded as though he were talking through an open ended can.

'Cocky-loo'· Marlene whispered. Her eyebrows raised as she looked at the phone.

A soft click sounded and the caller was gone.

Marlene stared at the phone a moment more. She picked up the messages and got out of her chair to go into the doctor's office. As she went in to drop the messages on the doctor's desk she talked quietly to herself.

"Nut, party of one· Nut."

-end-


Shrink - Chapter 4

The doctor got into work at 20 minutes to 10:00. She walked past the front desk and smiled at Marlene, "How was your night?"

"Relaxing. Yours?"

"Same." She breezed through the lobby door and went into her office, shedding her coat and purse onto one of the chairs across from her desk. She pulled off her sunglasses and balanced them vicariously on her wadded up coat then proceeded to rifle through her messages.

Marlene ceremoniously got up from her desk to do what she did every workday morning.

She walked into Dr. Aris' office, unbalanced the sunglasses and put them into the doctor's purse, then walked through the panel door to the doctor's 'real' office and hung both coat and purse on the coat rack. She then poured a cup of coffee for the doctor and set it gently on her desk, dodging the doctor's reach for the phone in the process.

"Marlene?"

"Yes doctor?"

"Thanks."

"Certainly."

Dr. Aris looked at her for a second and Marlene could tell there was something else.

She raised her brows and said, "Doctor?"

"Were there any 'loadie' calls on the machine this morning?"

"One."

The doctor sat back in her chair and rubbed her chin. "Man?"

"Yes. He repeated 'Is the doctor in?' three times. He had some screechy music playing in the background."

The doctor ran an index finger over her bottom lip. "Define screechy."

"It sounded like he had six cats by their tails and he was spinning them in circles over his head."

Dr. Aris smiled at her and gave a little chuckle. "That draws a picture."

"Can I get you anything else? Mrs. Harker will be here shortly."

"No Marlene, thank you."

Marlene's radar was telling her that the caller had spooked the doctor. Dr. Aris rarely paid attention to prank calls. She had once told Marlene, after receiving a particularly vicious call, that it was probably just one of her clients.

'People in therapy are often unsettled by the non-reactive behavior of their therapists. They'll sometimes say or do extreme things to try to get a human reaction. I think they just want to know that the therapist has some sort of emotion or truly cares about them in some way.'

Throughout the doctor's explanation Marlene was thinking to herself, 'BUNK'. In truth she had very little patience with people who couldn't seem to pull themselves together. There were only a handful of clients in the weekly parade of people in and out of the office that Marlene thought had valid reasons to be there. In her opinion the rest were just looking for a scapegoat for their lousy decisions. Most of the time it was their parents who took the brunt.

The doctor's first appointment, Mrs. Harker, was looking for a scapegoat. She was standing now in the lobby, looming over Marlene's area, tapping on the glass.

Large icky knuckle smudges.

How unpleasant.

Marlene used to have an open reception area. Then Mrs. Harker set her first appointment. She sat in the lobby waiting for the doctor and felt compelled to tell Marlene all the intimate details of her tragically wealthy life. She told Marlene things she could have gone her whole life without hearing. She mentioned the episode to the doctor after Mrs. Harker had left.

A next day the doctor had glass sliders installed.

Marlene loved them. But they were so hard to keep clean.

"Mrs. Harker if you'd like to have a seat the doctor will be right with you."

The woman parked herself in a chair and commenced rummaging through her $500.00 embossed leather 'Coach' bag.

Marlene pulled the slider closed and turned to the phone, "Doctor, Mrs. Harker is here. Shall I bring her in?"

"If you must."

********************************************

The week flew by.

Marlene had taken to saving the now expected 'loadie' calls they received at the office overnight. They'd escalated to three and four times an evening. The calls were now taking a toll on both her and Dr. Aris. Marlene suspected that the doctor dealt with as many calls at home as she did at work. Dark circles were forming under her eyes and she'd been agitated much of the morning.

After lunch her mood seemed to brighten. She'd left the office to 'take a drive' shortly after 3:00. This was one of her coping mechanisms. Marlene was used to it. She hadn't yet returned when Dr. Scully showed up for her 5:30 appointment. Marlene glanced at the clock when the redhead walked through the door. She was 20 minutes early.

Marlene pulled the slider back.

"Dr. Scully, it's nice to see you."

"Nice to see you too Marlene."

"Dr. Aris went out for a bit but she'll be back any time now. Would you like some coffee while you wait?"

Dr. Scully sat in a chair facing Marlene's desk. "No, thank you."

Marlene resumed filling out her supply order.

Her phone rang and she picked it up. "Dr. Aris' office."

Dr. Aris' voice on the other line, "Do you like to drive Marlene?"

Marlene smiled at the phone, then on a whim hit the intercom. "Beg pardon?"

The doctor repeated her question, unaware that it was broadcast. Scully looked over to her and Marlene smiled conspiratorially.

"Drive Marlene, do you like to drive?"

Scully smiled slightly, her brow furrowed with mild confusion over Marlene's motives.

"I suppose. I like to get places. That narrows my options."

"I love it."

"How nice for you doctor."

Scully let out a silent laugh from her chair.

"I'm pulling into the parking lot."

"Okay."

"Is Dr. Scully there yet?"

"Yes, she's waiting patiently in the lobby."

"I've been calling her Ms. Scully. I think I should give her the option to go by Dr. Scully, don't you?"

"Well, it's a huge accomplishment to become a doctor. If I were Dr. Scully I think I'd like people to know I'd made that sacrifice."

"Hmmm. Good point Marlene. You 'spose I can do her any good?"

"Are you fishing for a pep talk Dr. Aris?"

"No. No time for that now. I'll see you in a minute."

"Alright."

Marlene hung the phone up and winked at Scully, "Thought you'd like to know what a loon she really is."

Scully laughed.

Marlene liked the sound of it.

-end-


Shrink - Chapter 5

Dr. Aris came through the office door quickly peeling her coat off as she walked. She looked to Scully, "Dr. Scully. Good to see you. Follow me in?"

Scully was on her feet and followed Dr. Aris through the connecting door into her office. She risked a small smile over her shoulder to Marlene and got a wink in return.

Dr. Aris piled her purse and coat onto the chair across from her desk and Scully's seating options were suddenly very limited. She chose the chair next to it causing Dr. Aris to sit down at her desk.

"How was your week Dr. Scully?"

Scully couldn't help but smile as she thought of Marlene's conversation on the speakerphone. "It was fairly tame."

"Anything you'd like to hash out or should we start with me asking you more questions?"

"Let's go with the questions."

Dr. Aris appraised her for a moment and Scully felt herself flush.

Then the doctor moved from behind her desk. She picked up her coat and purse from the extra chair and piled them onto her desk chair. Then she came back around to sit next to Scully.

Some kind of perfume wafted toward Scully as she watched the blond settle in next to her. It was different, not flowery; it had more of a natural smell. Dr. Aris crossed her legs at the knee and flipped the heel of her pump off her foot, dangling it. She seemed to be carefully choosing her next words.

Scully watched her foot swing slowly back and forth thinking to herself that the doctor wasn't 5'7" after all. 'Without those heels on she's probably closer to 5'5".' She let her gaze travel upward taking in the doctor's legs, then farther up to the woman's face. The doctor wasn't looking at her so she let her glance linger. Dr. Aris had soft curls of shiny blond hair around her face. She'd arranged it behind her ears and it touched the collar of her white blouse. Her look was not unlike that of Officer White, one of Mulder's conquests from and earlier case. But Dr. Aris had green eyes, not blue, and her hair was longer.

Scully watched as the doctor lifted her arm to pull an unruly curl back behind her ear. Her blouse had French cuffs. The right cuff link was a small silver faucet handle with a little 'H' engraved into it. Scully assumed that her left cuff link had a 'C'.

"I drove around today, prior to our appointment, for nearly 2 hours."

Scully's ears burned slightly. 'Where is this going?'

"I tried to picture you in different situations. At work, with the family you told me about during our last appointment, out with a friend, alone at home...'

Scully shifted uncomfortably in the chair. 'And you do this with all your clients?'

"I can tell I'm making you uncomfortable Dr. Scully..."

"Ms. Scully, please."

Dr. Aris smiled and bowed her head, "Ms. Scully... but I think there's something important here."

Scully said nothing.

Dr. Aris steepled her fingers, "I think you may be lonely."

Scully's eyes filled with tears. She looked to the ceiling of Dr. Aris' office and then directly at her. "Are you intending to start every session like this?"

"Like what?"

"By making me cry."

"Seems a little ruthless doesn't it?"

"Frankly yes." Scully reached over to the doctor's desk and pulled a tissue from the box to wipe her eyes.

Dr. Aris watched her carefully. It took all of her will power not to say, 'I hate doing this to you. I'm so sorry.' Instead she sat quietly and let Ms. Scully pull herself together.

"Is this helpful to you?" Scully looked at her with deep hurt in her eyes.

"Unfortunately yes." Dr. Aris felt her stomach start to burn.

"Why is that?"

"Because your reaction lets me know I'm close to figuring out the problem." She took a deep breath. "Ms. Scully I hate this."

Scully's eyes widened.

Dr. Aris leaned in a little closer to her. "It's true. I really hate this part. But if I don't know for sure what the problem is then I do you no good at all."

Scully's features softened. 'Is this an apology?'

"If I had said I think you're· let's say· stressed; you may have agreed with me but I don't think you would have broken down like you just did. Does that make sense to you?"

"Yes, it does."

"Good."

"I'm sorry I reacted the way I did. I don't break often and you've managed to make me cry twice now. I took it personally. I shouldn't question your methods."

"That's alright. Sometimes this job makes me feel like a bully." Dr. Aris smiled.

Ms. Scully's mouth came up in a half smile; one side of her mouth lifting softly. The good Dr. Aris' heart skipped a beat.

The doctor stood suddenly, she swallowed and blurted out, "Excuse for a second, will you?" She took in Ms. Scully's startled expression as she stood and let herself out through Marlene's door.

Marlene looked up from her desk surprised to see Dr. Aris standing in the hallway. The doctor took several deep breaths as she leaned against the closed door behind her.

"Doctor?"

The doctor closed her eyes briefly, waved Marlene off and re-entered her office.

Marlene shook her head, her brow furrowed in confusion.

"Sorry about that Ms. Scully." She pointed to her throat. "Not sure what happened· some kind of throat thing."

"Are you alright?" Ms. Scully's obvious concern nearly sent the doctor back out in the hall.

"Yes. Fine." She sat back down beside her, her face flushed.

"Are you sure?"

Dr. Aris forced a smile. "Yes, thanks. So, where were we?"

"You were making me cry." Again with that half smile.

"Oh, right, the part I hate." Dr. Aris chuckled a little.

"And for the record you're right." Tears glistened again in her eyes. "I think I may be lonely."

Dr. Aris felt her heart clench in her chest. 'Unacceptable.' she thought. "Let's work on that problem first."

Ms. Scully nodded her head.

-end-


Shrink - Chapter 6

Dr. Scully stood at the reception counter as Marlene verified her next appointment.

"How'd it go today?" She smiled at Dr. Scully.

"She made me cry again."

Marlene laughed. "Don't worry honey, she makes everybody cry."

Scully laughed outright. "Oh really?"

"Yeah. I'd bet in your case she doesn't like it much."

"So she said."

Marlene registered the remark in her brain's filing cabinet under: 'uh oh'. "You're all set for next Friday Dr. Scully."

"Thank you Marlene. You know, you make these little visits bearable."

Marlene looked at her with genuine pleasure, "Well thank you. That's the nicest thing I've heard all week."

Dr. Scully smiled at her.

"You're feeling better aren't you?"

The redhead seemed to mull the question over for a second, "Yes." She nodded. "Yes I believe I am."

"Glad to hear it dear."

Dr. Scully picked up her bag and started to head out when Marlene called her back.

"Doctor Scully?"

"Yes?"

"May I ask you a question?"

"Sure." Scully made her way back to the desk.

"I was thinking you could help. With your law enforcement background..."

"What is it Marlene?" Scully's concern was sparked by the frightened look on Marlene's face.

"We've been getting calls, prank calls I'd guess you'd call them. They started out mild but they've gotten pretty scary over this last week."

Scully's brow arched and she set her bag down.

"Male or Female?"

"Male. He started out sing-songy, ya know? Sort of just a nuisance more than anything. Taking up space on the answering machine, that sort of thing. But now·"

Scully took out a notebook and jotted down some notes.

"When did this start?"

"Monday morning. Doctor, I think maybe we should talk about this away from the office. If Dr. Aris knew I was discussing this with a client she'd be unhappy."

Scully closed her notebook. "What are you doing for dinner?"

Marlene smiled. "I'll meet you at Casey's around the corner in a twenty minutes."

"I'll be waiting." Dr. Scully picked up her bag and waved to Marlene as she left the office.

Marlene breathed a sigh of relief.

"Marlene?"

Marlene clicked her intercom on her phone and answered. "Yes doctor?"

"I need you to fill out a T.O.T. letter for me."

Marlene's brow furrowed. T.O.T. stood for 'Termination of Therapy'. "For who Dr. Aris?"

"Dr. Scully. If you could type it up tonight before you go I'd appreciate it."

Marlene sat for a moment and considered the doctor's request. She then hit the intercom button and said the one word to Dr. Aris she thought she'd never utter.

"No."

Two seconds later Dr. Aris' office door opened.

"Beg your pardon?"

"I said no. That woman needs your help and I'm not going to let you dump her."

Dr. Aris' face registered shock. "You said no."

"I'm fully aware of that." Marlene was firm.

The doctor looked at the floor, muttering to herself. "She said no·"

"I'm packing up doctor. Have a good weekend and try to pull yourself together." Marlene smiled at her as the doctor closed her office door.

-end-


Shrink - Chapter 7

"So this caller, does he make threats against you?"

"Not me, he never mentions me. He only talks about Dr. Aris."

"Does he talk about hurting her?"

"He didn't in the beginning but he's started to now."

"Do you have any idea who might be making the calls Marlene?"

"No. Dr. Aris seems to think it's a client but I'm not so sure."

They'd gotten a booth at Casey's. Marlene was nursing a Chardonnay and Scully sipped on coffee. Neither was hungry so they'd decided to skip dinner.

"Why's that?" Scully had her notebook open and was writing down notes as they talked.

"I don't recognize the voice. I know the client Dr. Aris thinks is making the calls, but when he comes in... I don't know. I just don't think it's him."

"I noticed the doctor doesn't wear a wedding ring. Is she married?"

"No."

"Anyone significant in her life now?"

"I don't think so, no."

"Are there any old boyfriends who might be angry with her? Maybe a guy she'd had one date with and never called again... someone like that?"

Marlene looked uncomfortable. "No."

"You're certain?" Scully was surprised that Marlene wouldn't even entertain the possibility.

"Dr. Scully, I'm certain it's not an old boyfriend."

Scully couldn't imagine a woman like Dr. Aris not being chased. "No old boyfriends at all?"

Marlene nodded. "The doctor has different interests." She watched Scully as the information started to sink in.

Scully felt her heart quicken. "Dr. Aris is a lesbian."

Marlene confirmed softly, "Bingo."

"I didn't realize· I mean· I never would have known." Scully took a breath and tried to regain her composure. "And you're sure it's a man's voice?"

"Well, it's altered, but it certainly sounds male."

"There are all kinds of devises out there that can alter the voice. Some of them have the ability to make the caller sound like the opposite sex."

"Well if it's a 'her' then she must have one of those devices, because she definitely sounds like a 'him' to me. And the things he says... he refers to all manner of body parts that a 'her' just isn't packing. Know what I mean?"

Scully smiled slightly.

Marlene dug through her purse and pulled out a zip lock bag containing three small cassettes. "Here, listen to these and tell me what you think."

"The caller?"

"Yep, the caller. It's also got messages from suppliers and one or two pledge calls from Dr. Aris. If I erase one message they all go, so please try and be discreet when you listen to them. I don't think there are any other clients on the tapes. If there were I wouldn't be able to give them to you. It'd be a breach of client privacy."

Scully took the tapes and put them in her coat pocket. "What's a pledge call?"

Marlene smiled widely. "It's a message to me from the doctor. She makes me say a pledge with her when she does something she doesn't want to do again. I guess she figures if she makes a pledge with me present that she's less likely to be a repeat offender."

Scully looked confused. "What kinds of things do you pledge her about?"

Marlene smiled, "Listen to the tapes. I swear she makes me pledge with her at least twice a week."

Scully was still confused.

"She's really quite loopy Dr. Scully. But I mean that in a good way of course."

"Of course."

"You know," Marlene paused and Scully thought she looked like she was going to cry, "I love that girl."

Scully smiled at her. "I can tell Marlene."

"I'd never want anything to happen to her and I don't think she's taking these threats seriously enough. She's getting these calls at home too, I'm sure of it. She looks like she hasn't slept in a week for god's sake."

Scully held Marlene's hand across the table. "I'll look into some phone records for you and we'll figure out if there's a real threat here. I'm glad you asked about this, I think it's better to check it than to ignore it, especially if the calls are getting more violent."

"They're getting awfully graphic as well, but you'll hear that soon enough." Marlene pointed to Scully's pocket. "Hope you don't blush easy."

Scully smiled and released Marlene's hand, "Marlene, where does Dr. Aris live?"

"She lives near Market and Jefferson."

"That's all warehouses down there isn't it?"

"She lives in a warehouse. Well, a converted warehouse."

"Really?"

"Yes. One giant room. It used to be a canoe factory. Wooden canoes I think."

"Seems like it would be drafty."

"Oh no. I was there once when she was ill. It takes a little getting used to but it's actually quite nice. She's got a large stone fireplace right smack in the middle of the place that could heat the whole thing. And she makes good use of fabric screens and those indoor trees."

"Trees?"

"Believe it or not, yes. Trees. Lots of ficus and the like. Only problem is you walk too fast past one of those things and you're picking up leaves for a half-hour. I told her they need more water."

"Where does she park?" Scully knew the area to be a little shaky.

"Inside. She's got an opener and she drives right into the first floor level of the warehouse. She's got an old elevator that takes her up to her living area. The second level. It's like something right out of a movie, I swear."

"Wow."

"Yeah, that's what I said. She had to go through hell with the zoning commission to even be able to start renovations on the place. But it must have been worth it because she seems to be happy there."

Scully seemed deep in thought for a moment. "Wish I could see it, it sounds really interesting."

"It is that."

"Well, I think I have plenty to go on Marlene. Can I get your home number? I may have questions."

Marlene recited the number for her and she added it to the end of her notes.

"Dr. Scully it's important to Dr. Aris to keep her private life private. She doesn't like clients to know about her preferences."

"I understand."

"She'd kill me if she knew I told you where she lives, or anything about it for that matter."

"I won't say a word." Scully patted her hand.

"I feel I've already hopped up and down on the client privilege issue with you. I'm feeling a little guilty. It's just that I felt if I went to the police it would really shake the doctor up. I feel that you have more decorum and frankly you're smarter than they are. If it's nothing I'll be relieved. If it something, well, I guess we'll just play it by ear."

"I'll let you know the minute I find out where the calls are coming from. We'll get this figured out Marlene. Try not to worry."

"Thanks."

-end-


Shrink - Chapter 8

Scully sat on the couch in her apartment with a cup of tea and her notebook. She opened the small zip lock bag and withdrew the first of the tapes Marlene had given to her. It was dated 'April 12'. She put the tape into her small hand held recorder and hit the 'rewind' button, then 'play'.

The music sounded new age-y. It was high pitched and loud. The voice rang in, probably male, with 'Is the doctor in?'. The caller repeated the phrase three times and rung off.

"Geez." Scully stopped the recorder and made some notes, then hit 'play' again.

Dr. Aris' clear deep voice came through, 'Pledge call Marlene. No more short skirts on days when Mr. Deems has an appointment.' Scully smiled and stopped the tape. She sipped at her tea and considered the doctor's legs. Yes, the average male would find a definite distraction there. She wrapped a strand of hair around her finger, twirling it gently.

Marlene's admission that Dr. Aris was a lesbian had shaken Scully some. She'd been thinking about it since she'd parted with Marlene at the restaurant. It surprised her that she'd not noticed. So much for the keen observation skills of an FBI agent.

Maybe it was that the focus had been on herself and not Dr. Aris. Or possibly that the clinical nature of their meetings had prevented Scully from considering anything personal about the doctor. She sipped again at her tea, releasing the hair she'd been twirling.

Scully set her tea down on the coffee table along with the bag of tapes and the recorder. She walked into the bedroom and lay down on her bed. She stretched herself out and flexed her feet, feeling the tension that had collected in them from a day's worth of high heels and Mulder.

'Just for a minute or two.' She thought. She'd already put a request in for phone records for Dr. Aris' office. It would be at least two hours before she could expect to get any printouts.

Her body felt restless, confined. Her suit constricted the movement of her legs and her shoulders. She sat up again and removed her jacket and skirt, laying them across the chair next to her bed. She reached behind the bedroom door and took an old pair of sweat pants off the hook. After peeling off her nylons and shedding her bra she slipped the sweat pants on and got a clean tee shirt out of her bottom dresser drawer.

'Much better'. She lay down on the bed once again feeling more relaxed than she had all day.

She closed her eyes and let her mind clear. Free association took over and the first face she saw was Marlene's.

Sweet woman. Scully wished she could have someone take care of her like Marlene took care of Dr. Aris.

Dr. Aris.

Scully tried to clear her mind again. She flexed her feet once more.

She pictured the faceless man who always seemed to come to her. The one who made her body buzz·

Yes - he could make her restless body relax.

She felt her hands tingle slightly.

She imagined her hands on either side of his face. Holding his mouth right were she needed him, between her legs. Her hands flexed on the comforter. She could almost feel the rough texture of the black man's hair as she held his head in place. Her right hand drifted to the loose waistband of her sweat pants.

'Right there· right there·'

Her hips pushed up off of the mattress and into the imaginary lover's mouth.

'Perfect·'

She ran her fingers over his ears and down his cheeks. She felt lower to get him to lap at her fingers as well as her clit. She put her index finger into his mouth and he sucked on it.

'I like that.'

Her hand inside the sweat pants· she rubbed herself against the fabric of her underwear. She was so swollen.

He continued to lap at her, pushing a long slim finger slowly inside·

He rubbed his cheeks against her hands·

His face was changing.

His stubble turned smooth.

His cheek was soft.

She lost her rhythm as she stroked herself. Her train of thought temporarily derailed. She ran her hands through his hair.

It was longer. Soft curls wrapped themselves around her fingers as his tongue continued to lap.

She tried to ignore the changes in her lover's face and lose herself in the feel of that tongue. Too good to let this one disappear. Her body hummed.

'So close·'

The finger inside her twisted as it plunged and she increased the pace of her own finger's rubbing.

She wanted to watch him, imagine herself coming in his mouth.

She tried to picture him in her mind. His strong jaw, the hazy outline of his face·

But when she pictured him in her mind as she got close to coming it wasn't him.

It was Dr. Aris.

Her blond hair wrapped itself around Scully's fingers.

Her soft mouth worked between Scully's legs.

The tip of her tongue ran back and forth against her.

Her long fingers twisting and plunging inside her.

She came with a ferocity she was completely unprepared for· her body shook as she held three fingers of her left hand inside herself. The muscles inside her convulsing enough to nearly force them out.

'Oh my God.'

-end-


Shrink - Chapter 9

'When I consider this logically it's actually quite normal. Of course I'd have some misdirected feelings toward Dr. Aris. She's my therapist. There's an illusion of intimacy between her and I, probably do to my telling her very personal things about myself. It can't be uncommon for a patient to feel this way about their therapist. I should have even expected it.'

Scully was back in her living room, on the couch, trying to sort herself out.

'And she's physically beautiful. I'm attracted to beauty. Everyone is attracted to beautiful people. It's human nature. In this case those instincts just got a little convoluted.'

'Nothing to worry about. Just chalk it up to emotional stress. It was a fantasy that my subconscious mind somehow tapped into. For god's sake, I was probably half asleep anyway.'

She picked up the recorder again along with her notebook and hit 'play'.

The next call was a solicitor wanting to know if Dr. Aris' would like an executive subscription to 'Psychology Today' magazine.

After that a call from a patient changing her appointment time due to a son's illness.

The rest were fairly mundane. Scully rewound the tape and replaced it with one dated April 20.

Again the music...

"You think you know me don't you?" A long pause. "You don't." Another long pause. "But you will doctor." The caller hung up.

A chill creeped across Scully's back.

She listened through several non-related calls and then heard the doctor's voice. She sat up.

"Marlene, pledge call. Get rid of the cat. It put a live mouse in bed with me this morning. A most unwelcome gift. I bought it to kill the mice not deliver them to me still kicking."

She heard a scuffling noise in the background, then the doctor's voice directed away from the phone, "Yes, I'm talking about you ya furry little terrorist."

Then back to the answering machine.

"It may be that he's giving me commentary on the science diet I'm feeding him. Like he's saying, 'could you buy something that tastes a little more like this?' Anyway - the pledge, I need to get rid of the four-legged delivery boy. I urge you not to talk me out of it this time. See you soon."

Scully smiled at the recorder.

The rest of the calls on the tape were neither the doctor nor the perp. She rewound the tape and replaced it with the next. It was becoming evident that the caller made the calls in the late evening; meaning for them to be found the next morning. She imagined that she'd find his voice at the beginning of each tape.

At the beginning of the next tape: "Hanging up on me only makes it worse doctor. We'll see how well you can ignore me when I've got my dick in your mouth."

Scully winced.

If the caller was being hung up on by the doctor then it was safe to assume he was calling her at home. He had her home number.

He probably knew where she lived.

Scully had assumed that these calls would result in no action taken. If fact, she thought she'd listen to them to appease Marlene but didn't honestly expect the caller to be a real threat.

This last message, however, made her believe the contrary.

She thought about Marlene's 'parts' comment. She was sure now that Marlene had been right. This was indeed a male caller. Even with the voice modified she knew that a woman just wouldn't make a call like this. It was definitely a man, most likely a man the doctor saw often; perhaps at his weekly scheduled appointment.

The first of the calls had seemed innocuous enough. These later calls however were disturbing. When a caller goes from simple annoyance to threatening actual acts of violation it was a bad sign. Normally prank callers are harmless. They are inherent cowards who use the phone to harass those they're too frightened to speak to in person. Calls are made as a form of contact with their desired victim and for the most part the victim is someone they're fond of.

These calls were escalating to something more than 'crush' calls. He was becoming rapidly angry. He wasn't getting what he needed from the calls anymore. He wasn't getting the doctor to respond to him, positively or negatively.

She listened through the rest of the tape. No more perp calls but there was a call from the doctor.

"It's me Marlene. This isn't a pledge. It's more of an observation. I'm wondering if you've talked to Dr. Scully before or after her appointments. I feel as though... well, I can't get a read on whether I'm heading in the right direction with her therapy. I'd be interesting in knowing what you think."

Scully sat back on the couch. 'So the doctor has doubts about her abilities. Interesting. She puts out such a confident image.'

Then she thought: 'Marlene must have known that comment was on there. Was I supposed to hear that?'

Then she remembered Marlene mentioning that if she erased one message she had to erase them all.

'I'm reading too much into this. She's concerned about my mental health, nothing else.'

Scully rewound the tape and put the last one in.

"You fucking bitch." No music this time. "You saw me, I know you did." Then he screamed, "AND STILL you won't talk to me. How am I gonna get your attention doctor? What do I have to do?"

Scully's brow furrowed. She stopped the tape and got the phone.

*************************

"Hello?"

"Marlene it's Scully."

"Dr. Scully. Any news?"

"Not yet. I should have the phone records soon. Listen Marlene, this last message about the Dr. Aris seeing this guy; what do you make of that?"

"I just figured he followed her and that he's some kind of nut who thinks she should know who he is..."

"What if she does know him?"

Marlene let it sink in. "You mean what if she knows who's making the calls?"

"Yes. What if she knows for sure who the guy is but doesn't want him caught for some reason?"

"Why would she do that Dr. Scully? It makes no sense."

"I wonder if she's trying to protect a client Marlene. Maybe she thinks she can help this guy. Maybe she doesn't think he's that dangerous. That would explain why she's not taking the calls seriously. And why she's not calling the police about the calls."

"She's mentioned to me that she thinks she knows who it is. What you're saying is that she knows exactly who it is?"

"That's right. Maybe she thinks he's harmless."

"I listened to those calls Dr. Scully. I think he's anything but harmless."

"I agree."

"Dammit. She'd do that. She'd think she could help someone like that and ignore the danger in doing so."

"I think she is in danger Marlene. He's showing signs of escalation here that go beyond phone calls."

"What should I do?"

"Talk to her. Try to get her to go to the police. Do you have any idea who it might be?"

"I know who she thinks it is, yes."

"You're obligated to keep his name private aren't you?"

"Yes. But if it were to come up on some phone records and he were the caller I wouldn't have a problem giving his name to the police myself."

"On Monday I think you should bring it up to Dr. Aris. Work on her Marlene. I don't think this guy is going to go away."

"Alright. I'll do what I can. But you should know, she's stubborn."

"Do your best. I'll get back to you when I know more."

"Please do, I'll be in all evening. Even if it's late Dr. Scully, please don't hesitate to call. I'm really starting to worry."

"Talk to you soon Marlene. As soon as I hear anything on the phone records."

"Thanks."

************************************************************

The phone rang twenty minutes later. The lab tech whose sole job it is to track down phone numbers was very little help. Apparently the caller was routing his calls through a PC. The PC was hooked up to a trunk that split into several extended trunks. The long and short of it was that the calls were untraceable and no amount of digging would turn up an address or name for the caller. The tech added ruefully that what normally turned up on PC based phone calls was a stolen cell phone number. Even if they got a number it would most likely be a dead end.

Scully thanked the tech and rang off. She called Marlene once more.

No answer. No machine.

She glanced at the clock. It was 7:30 pm.

She sat for another 10 minutes and redialed Marlene's number. Still nothing. She dialed the doctor's office, hoping Marlene had gone there. She got the machine and hung up.

She grabbed the phone book and looked up Marlene's address, then gathered her keys and phone, along with her badge and holster and headed out the door.

*************************************************************

Scully pulled her government issued vehicle into Marlene's neighborhood and slowed down to get a look at the addresses. The homes were modest but well kept. The street was well established and had a canopy of trees that gave it a tunnel-like feeling.

For 8:17 pm on a Friday night in early summer it seemed pretty quiet. No children were playing in their yards. No mowers or weed-whackers were going. Scully wondered if it were mostly retirees in this area; people who'd now be in front of their TV's watching news magazine shows.

She pulled up in front of Marlene's house and parked in the street in front of it. From outward appearances everything seemed normal. The porch light was on. It looked like there were more lights on inside.

Scully felt a little silly. Marlene had probably just fallen asleep and hadn't heard her phone ringing. She walked up the brick path and rang the doorbell.

No answer.

She peaked through the decorative side windows on either side of the door but the cut of the glass made it impossible to get a clear image of what was inside.

She pulled her cell phone out and dialed Marlene's number, hearing the phone ring inside. She peered through the glass again, looking for movement.

Nothing.

Scully made her way around the garage to the back of the house. The light was on inside over the kitchen sink and she fought some shrubs to get to the window. She peered through and saw Marlene on the kitchen floor.

Instinctively her hand opened the cell phone and she dialed 911.

She gave her location to the 911 operator and went to the back sliding door. It was locked. Scully, fearing that Marlene needed immediate medical attention, used the butt of her gun to break the glass.

She went directly to where Marlene lay on the floor and grabbed the woman's wrist. She found a thready pulse and very gently turned her over.

"Marlene, it's Scully, can you hear me?"

She smoothed the older woman's hair back. Her hair was matted along the left side of her head; blood had run from a gash behind her ear. Scully was sick to her stomach, 'there should be more blood here. This is not good, not good.'

"Marlene?" Scully tapped her face lightly with the palm of her hand, "Marlene?"

No answer, again, not good. Head wounds are notorious for bleeding in excess. If Marlene took a blow to the head there should have been an obscene amount of blood all over her and the floor as well. There wasn't. Scully knew that there was a possibility of internal bleeding, blood on the brain. Instead of an excessive out flow of blood there could be massive hemorrhaging inside the skull.

Marlene could be faced with severe brain damage, coma, or any number of life threatening conditions.

She could hear sirens running and bounded to the front door. She quickly pulled on her latex gloves and opened the door, securing the screen door as well.

Scully addressed a surprised EMT crew: "Kitchen floor, female, mid 50's. She's got a head injury. Possible internal hemorrhaging. BE CAREFUL."

Two policemen walked up to the door, confusion playing on their features.

The older of the two spoke first, "And you are?"

"Special Agent Dana Scully - FBI". She flipped her badge toward them.

"Can you tell us what happened here?"

"I can if you'd like to ride to the hospital with me. I'm going in that ambulance along with the victim." Scully pointed toward the EMT vehicle.

"Agent Scully, we need you to answer some questions, you're going to have to·"

"No. You listen to me. I'm going with the victim. You want to ask questions you can ask me at the hospital when I'm finished. I'm a medical doctor and a friend·" Scully moved out of the way of the EMT crew as the pushed a gurney with Marlene's unmoving form through her front door. She then fell into step behind them. "I'm a friend of hers. I'm not going to leave her alone."

Scully stepped into the back of the ambulance and shut the door behind them.

-end-


Shrink - Chapter 10

Dr. Aris held his file on her lap. She read and re-read the entries she'd made throughout his therapy sessions over the last three months.

'Doesn't make sense.' She thought to herself. 'We were progressing; he didn't seem to be delusional or manic. What the hell happened?'

She closed the file and dropped it onto the cushion next to her. She laced her fingers, turned her hands inside out and stretched out her arms.

The cat strode past her legs, brushing up against her.

"Sailboat, no mice tonight. I'm serious. If you can make it through the weekend without a delivery I'll keep you. Otherwise·"

He walked away with an erratic flip of his tail.

She watched him walk lazily across the warehouse floor, weaving in and around furniture and potted plants. Her thoughts went back to the file on the couch next to her.

'So I was wrong. He totally played me. He had me thinking that he was depressed·'

She tapped the cover of the file absent mindedly. 'When really he's schizophrenic. He should be on medications. He should be under the care of a psychiatrist.'

'Every time I tried empathetic listening I was actually escalating his paranoia.'

She thought back to her first conversation with the older man. 'Bob, what I'm hearing is that you're concerned about your job. That you think you're not good enough to do well even though your work record, that you yourself have seen is spotless. Is that true?'

His response was a nod of the head. His mental illness, however, would have read her statement as, 'Bob, I agree with your manager. You're ineffective at your job and everyone is aware of it. The work record they show you is spotless, but the real one they don't show you has every minor infraction you've ever made. It's all in black and white. Sooner or later they'll have to fire you Bob. It's inevitable.'

She let out a bitter laugh. It seemed overboard but she knew it was true. Every statement she'd ever made to him had been misconstrued and twisted. She'd become his surrogate accuser. He saw her as the one who set voice to what everyone thought were his inadequacies. She was a culmination of all the people he imagined were whispering behind his back, plotting against him to ruin him.

He was delusional, paranoid.

And she'd missed it.

Completely.

Now he was no longer showing up for appointments. He called her at home sometimes as many as six times a day. He left messages at work that made Marlene pale. He was close to an episode; probably off his medication, if he was ever on any. And getting dangerously close to taking action.

It was her fault. Now in hindsight she realized that there were signs early on but she'd had too much professional egotism to face the fact that she couldn't help him. So she kept on with his therapy.

She took his explanation of no mental health history at face value.

'Never needed a shrink Dr. Aris. But then again I've never been this depressed before. You think it's my age?'

'So fucking stupid Gail', she chastised herself, 'really stupid'.

The punishment for her over confidence came in the form of the phone calls.

And she hated especially that Marlene was involved. She hated that Marlene was frightened. It made her stomach burn.

'I have to do something. But what? Have the police pick him up? That's classic doctor/patient breach. I could refer him to a psychiatrist, but he won't listen to me anymore, won't show up for appointments.'

So she sat and waited for her phone to ring. Every time Bob called she'd try to get through to him. He never listened to her, never cared to do anything but spout threats. But she kept trying, hoping that she might get through if he had a moment of clarity. So far he hadn't. The threats were getting progressively worse.

Her phone rang.

She took a deep breath and reviewed her newest strategy to try to get him to listen. She picked up the hand-held phone and answered.

"Hello?"

"Dr. Aris?"

"Yes? Who's this?" Her friends called her Gail. She was worried that yet another patient had somehow gotten her unlisted number.

"Dana Scully. Doctor, I'm at Georgetown medical. Marlene was assaulted tonight."

Dr. Aris' heart sunk. Her arms felt suddenly heavy, "Is she alive?" She knew she'd asked the question aloud but she couldn't hear her own voice. There was a roaring in her ears.

"Yes. She's critical, but she's hanging on."

"Hanging on? What does that mean, HANGING ON?"

"I've sent a car to pick you up Dr. Aris. I encourage you not to drive. The car will be there any minute. I'll tell you more when you get here."

Dr. Aris hung up the phone, tossing it onto the couch as she scrambled to get her keys and wallet. She cursed the old elevator and nearly broke the old wooden slat door when she got to the bottom floor. Right outside the entry was a police car with it's engine running. A uniformed officer held the back door open for her and she got in quickly. He slammed the door behind her and jogged to the driver's side. Flicking two buttons, one for lights, the other for sirens, the officer pulled onto Bridge Street and sped toward the hospital.


Dr. Aris walked through the emergency door and into the sterile bright hospital lights. She approached the check-in desk and opened her mouth to demand Marlene's room number but was whisked away by the arm. She glanced at the nurse who was towing her roughly.

"What·"

"Dr. Aris, this way please." The woman loosened her grip some but still had the doctor in a healthy grasp as she rushed her down the hallway. "Dr. Scully is waiting for you."

The nurse released her and opened a door with the placard 'Critical Care Unit' on it. She nodded and Dr. Aris walked into the darkened room. It took a moment for her eyes to adjust. Through a glass window in the back of the room she could see someone in a hospital bed. She approached the window and looked at the person's face. It was Marlene. Her head was wrapped and her eyes appeared to be taped shut. She had a tube in her mouth and another in her nose. Machines worked all around her.

Scully walked up behind her. "Dr. Aris?"

Dr. Aris turned to face her. "Is she going to be alright?" Tears glistened in her eyes and Scully's heart wrenched in her chest.

"She's got a serious head injury. She's hemorrhaging internally. Currently her doctor's are trying to stabilize her. Once she's stable they'll do a brain scan to determine the extent of the damage."

Dr. Aris' let out a shuddering sigh. "Is she going to live Ms. Scully?"

Scully looked at Marlene through the window. "I think so, yes. But there's a risk of brain damage."

Dr. Aris stared through the glass. "Can I go in?"

"I wouldn't advise it, not yet. They're trying to cut out any brain stimulation until they can figure out what's going on. The sound of your voice might make her react. We can't risk any further damage. I'm sorry."

"Is she comatose?"

"There's evidence of that, yes. To what extent we don't know. If it's shallow she could be easily revived. But at this point they want to keep her as quiet as possible."

Scully lifted her arm and motioned to the door. Dr. Aris walked out of the room with Scully behind her. Once in the hallway Dr. Aris turned to her again, "What happened?"

"Someone broke into her house, through a bathroom window, and assaulted her. I found her on her kitchen floor at about 7:45 p.m. I had talked to her on the phone at around 7:00 so the assailant must have gotten to her in that 45 minute window. He or she was probably already hiding in the house when Marlene got home from work today."

Scully watched the doctor's face carefully before continuing.

"The police speculate that she took one blow behind the left ear with a blunt object. They seem to think it was a flashlight."

"Oh my god."

"Dr. Aris, can you think of anyone who'd want to hurt Marlene?"

"No· yes· I mean· they would to get to me. He would to get my attention."

Scully put her arm around the doctor's shoulders and walked her down the hall. "It's time to talk to the police."


The ride in the officer's car to the police station was a blur. Gail was aware of Ms. Scully sitting next to her but it was an insignificant fact. Her mind was concentrating solely on Marlene.

Once there they were deposited into a small room with one table and four chairs. She stared at the table top until someone addressed her.

"Dr. Aris?"

She looked up at the detective. He was an overweight middle aged man with a drinker's nose. It was bright red and bulbous. He had a fine sheen of sweat across his forehead. His sleeves were rolled up and his tie hung loose around his neck.

"My name is Johns, Detective Johns."

She stared at him for a beat and then stated plainly, "Bob Pickett."

"I beg your pardon?"

"The man who went after Marlene. His name is Bob Pickett. He's a patient of mine. Or at least he used to be."

The detective scribbled the name down on a sheet of paper and got up from the table. He opened the door and handed it to an officer who was waiting there. He mumbled something about running a check of priors on the name and shut the door, then resumed his seat at the table.

"You seem very sure about the assailant."

"I'm positive. I know it was him."

"I must say doctor that I'm a little taken aback. Doesn't the doctor/patient privilege require you to withhold the names of your clients?"

She stared at him with cold eyes.

Scully took over, "Detective, Dr. Aris will need some kind of protection. Possibly relocation until the suspect is apprehended."

"Why's that?" The detective looked agitated.

"Because Dr. Aris is ultimately his intended target."

Detective Johns raised his voice, "We don't have those kinds of resources Agent Scully. Unlike the FBI we're forced to work with a limited amount of man power. I can't afford to post even one officer at her door."

Gail looked at Scully, "I'll be fine at home Ms. Scully. There's no need for that."

The detective looked at Scully, "This theory that he's going after Dr. Aris next, I assume you're referring to the phone calls?"

"Yes." Scully replied curtly. "He's escalating. Marlene was an attempt by him to get Dr. Aris' attention. We've got to assume he'll make a move toward the doctor."

Gail shook her head, "He can't get to me. I've got a security system, I'm on the second floor·"

Scully looked at Gail, "He will get to you Dr. Aris. If he wants to, if the desire is there he'll find a way. Believe me."

The detective sat back in his chair, "Let's assume that Mr. Pickett isn't sitting at home waiting for us to pick him up." Sarcasm oozed off of the man, "We need to flush him out. We need her at home." He gestured toward Gail. "It could be the only way to get at him. He's got to know we're going to be looking for him. He might be crazy but he's probably not stupid."

"He's a genius, most schizophrenics are." Gail replied.

"So if we keep you at home long enough he'll eventually come to you. You call us and we come and pick him up. That simple."

"That's moronic." Scully snapped. "He could get at her a hundred times over before you could get a squad car down there."

The detective stood. "Then I suggest that you post your own ass there Agent Scully."

Scully looked at the doctor. Dr. Aris' mouth was open in immediate protest but when she saw the look in Scully's eyes she went quiet. It occurred to her that Ms. Scully had probably never mentioned to the police that she was also a client of hers.

"This is not an FBI matter detective." Scully said simply, looking at him.

"You seem to think it is Agent. You've had your hands all over this thing from the beginning. For Christ's sake, YOU found the body. I'd say that makes this every bit an FBI MATTER."

Scully opened her mouth to launch further protests but he continued to talk.

"Now we're going to need to take a full statement for the record. I want to know every detail, down to what he said in each phone call. We'll handle the criminal investigation Agent Scully. We don't need you for that. But you WILL be handling the security."

Scully glared at him.

And he added, "or she won't have any."

-end-


Shrink - Chapter 11

They sat in the back of the police car together, not speaking. As they pulled into Marlene's driveway Scully tapped Dr. Aris on the leg and pointed to her car. She then addressed the driver, "We'll take my car from here officer, thank you."

It was nearly 2 a.m. and they'd spent the majority of the evening at the police station, each of them relaying their experience to the detective. Gail told her complete story, from the day she first met Mr. Pickett until the last phone call she'd received from him.

Scully listened quietly. She could see the anguish in the doctor's eyes and knew that she must be holding herself responsible for the assault. Dr. Aris seemed to be feeling tremendous guilt over the incident. Scully understood why she'd feel that way but also knew it was unwarranted. It was not the fault of Dr. Aris that Pickett went after Marlene.

The doctor, however, didn't see it that way at all.

Scully told her side also, about Marlene's concern over the calls and about hearing the recorded messages. Gail sat in silence as Scully told the detective about her dinner meeting with Marlene. Dr. Aris had no idea they were starting to become friends and it surprised her. What surprised her more was that Marlene went to Ms. Scully with her concerns and not to her directly. She felt terrible about it, wishing that'd she'd been more open to Marlene's worries. Or at least better able to see the real danger involved in trying to cope with Pickett herself.

Dr. Aris let Scully lead her to the passenger seat of her car. She sat down heavily and Scully got into the driver's seat. It was the first time they'd been alone since Dr. Aris had arrived at the hospital early that evening.

Scully turned to her, "Are you all right Dr. Aris?"

"Call me Gail, please."

Scully felt mildly uncomfortable doing so but did it nonetheless for the doctor's sake. "Gail. Are you ok?"

Gail turned and met her eye, "I don't believe I am."

Scully instinctively reached for her hand and Gail let her hold it. "It's not your fault." Scully whispered softly. "There's no way you could have known."

Gail looked down at their clasped hands. "I wish more than anything that I bought that Ms. Scully."

"Just 'Scully'." She squeezed the blonde's hand lightly.

"I should have been more aware of his condition. I should have known it was beyond my ability to help him. Now it's too late. Marlene's in the hospital..." Gail shut her eyes and let her head fall back onto the headrest. She turned her head toward Scully once more, "What have I done?" A tear made it's way down her cheek. She repeated in a soft whisper, "What have I done Scully?"

Scully held her hand firmly as more tears rolled down her cheeks. She started to whisper back, wanting to comfort her somehow. She could see that Gail was shouldering all the responsibility for the assault. "It's ok Gail, it'll be ok. We'll find him. Marlene will pull through this. It's ok."

Scully reached into her glove box and pulled out a small plastic package of Kleenex. She handed it to Gail. "We've got to get you home."

Gail held up the package and shook her head slightly, "Ironic isn't it? How things can change in just a few short hours."

Scully was backing out of the driveway. "Yes it is."

"Thank you Scully."

Scully drove slowly out of Marlene's neighborhood. "For what?"

"For helping. For calling me first about Marlene." Gail wiped her eyes, "For sending a car to pick me up. For going with me to the police station..."

Scully turned and looked at her. Gail smiled slightly.

"For being my body guard and keeping me out of harms way."

Scully looked back to the road, feeling a blush rise in her cheeks. Quickly she said, "Marlene would kill me if I let anything happen to you."

"Is that why you're doing this? For Marlene?"

Scully could feel the doctor's gaze on her. "Well, yes. I think she'd want it this way."

She felt more than saw Gail's attention turn to the windshield, "I imagine she would."

Scully thought briefly that she'd said something wrong. She wondered if she'd misconstrued Gail's question; if she'd hurt her somehow. She felt an overwhelming need to fix what she'd just done, undue her statement.

Her heart raced suddenly. "I wouldn't want anything to happen to you Gail." She said softly, wanting to say more but not sure what else she could say; not even entirely sure she =knew= what she was trying to say.

Gail seemed stunned, or maybe that was just how Scully felt. She couldn't tell. After a short but uncomfortable silence Gail spoke, "I can't be your therapist anymore."

"I assumed that." Scully was off balance and surprised by the statement.

"I wish I could, but it would be highly inappropriate considering the circumstances."

"I understand." Scully kept her eyes on the road.

Another silence followed.

"Will you stay the rest of the night?" Gail asked.

Scully arched a brow and looked over at her. She was looking out the windshield. "Yes. I'll be there all night. And every night until Pickett is in custody."

Gail sighed.

"Does that bother you?"

"No. It comforts me actually."

Scully smiled and turned her full attention to the road.

-end-


Shrink - Chapter 12

A whispered statement. "If I love you, what business is that of yours?"

Scully looked at Gail in the passenger seat as her heart raced in her chest.

Gail explained, "It's a line, from a poem I think. I can't remember who wrote it."

Scully nodded slightly but still looked confused. Her face felt hot.

Gail sighed. "It reminds me of Marlene. I always thought that the line fit her. It's like something she'd say."

'Of course, she's thinking of Marlene.' Scully recited the line in her head, 'If I love you, what business is that of yours?' She thought about it for a second and smiled.

"Take a left up here."

Scully turned the car down a street that looked decidedly industrial.

Gail pointed to the left. "It's that one. I'll need to get out and use the key-pad to open the garage door."

Scully pulled into the drive and put the car in 'park'. "I'll go with you."

Gail used her key to unlock the key-pad. She then entered a code number and the garage door opened. The garage itself was the size of a basketball court.

"Gail, why don't you wait in the car. Lock the doors and drive slowly into the garage. I'll walk ahead of you."

Gail did as she was told and Scully pulled out her issue. She held it at her side as she walked into the garage slowly. 'This is a security nightmare,' she thought as she looked from one large square cement joist to the other. 'Three people could hide together behind any one of these things.' She walked the perimeter of the space as Gail pulled slowly into the garage. The garage door closed behind her.

After Scully satisfied herself that they were alone she motioned for Gail to get out of the car.

They walked together to the old elevator and Gail lifted the slat door. They stepped inside and again Scully watched as Gail typed in a code on the key-pad. "I'll write these down for you so you have them, each door is a different code."

When the elevator stopped Gail lifted the slat door and they were facing a small foyer. Scully walked from the elevator first, then motioned for Gail to follow. Again, another key-pad.

Gail smiled with embarrassment, "I was robbed once. I'm a little security crazy."

"It's a pretty sophisticated system."

"Yeah. After the robbery I realized that I'm alone out here." Gail hit a button on the elevator that locked it on the second floor.

"It's understandable. I for one am glad you've got it."

"Today I'm thinking it's the best money I've ever spent."

Scully smiled and Gail entered the other key-pad code. The heavy steel door opened on it's own.

Scully walked through it first and gasped. "My God."

It was just like Marlene had told her, one giant room. Windows covered all four sides. The side they faced directly had an attached green house. It looked like an arboretum. Scully walked farther into the room, her gun at her side. Gail strode in behind her.

Scully turned to her, "Stay here. Give me a minute to do a sweep. Are there any rooms off this main one?"

"There are two. The greenhouse and the bathroom. There are two doors into the greenhouse. There's a deck on the other side of it also with a door leading out to it. The bathroom is to your left through that door there."

"Ok, be right back."

Scully walked the wall of the room. She flipped on lights as she went. There were no ceiling lights at all, the light came from floor lamps and up-lighting. Every light switch she threw bathed the area she stood in warm soft tones of gold.

One of the switches turned on a large fountain, which she nearly ran into in the dim lighting. Fiber optic lights inside it's three rocky tiers shown through the water. She momentarily forgot what she was doing as she watched the colors rotate from green to blue. Water began to babble slowly over river rock.

She shook her head to clear it and continued her sweep.

At the bathroom door she stood to the side. She turned the handle and let the door swing open, then quickly stepped in front of it and through, throwing the light switch as she went.

Empty. She looked around. Three shower heads? There was a drain in the floor and white tile on every surface. No shower curtain.

A large square tub seemed to be built right into the wall, again, all white tile. One wall was all mirrors. There was a sizable square sink and a simple white toilet. Tall plants were placed around the room. Scully speculated that it was nearly 15' by 15'.

She emerged from the bathroom and walked with her back to the wall. She was forced to walk around plants and lighting. Artwork was everywhere; pictures on easel's, pottery on plaster cast pillars, elaborate mobiles with birds and abstract designs hung on impossibly long ribbons from the 20' ceilings.

The bedroom area was impressive also. One large bed sat on a platform of highly polished light wood. It had a nightstand made of the same wood on either side. Thin lace netting hung in a canopy from the ceiling. It came within 5 feet of the bed and created a 'covered' feeling that made it somehow cozy in the large space.

'Incredible' she mumbled as she continued. The living room area actually had carpeting; shag carpeting in shades of beige and white. A large sectional couch sat at one edge across from two large chairs at the other side. All the furniture seemed to have velour fabric in shades of greens and purples. There were low tables scattered throughout in various shapes, all made of the same wood in squares and ovals.

She got to the kitchen area and walked slowly around the cooking island. There was a flat stovetop with radiant heat burners. Stainless steel appliances gleamed in the light. 'How does she keep this stuff clean?' Scully thought to herself as she got to the first of the greenhouse doors. She could see Gail waiting patiently where she'd left her across the room.

She took a breath and opened the greenhouse door. Fragrant air rushed at her causing her hair to blow back gently. She walked through and gasped again.

It was nearly a jungle.

She took a couple tentative steps and crouched low to look under the planting tables. Realizing that she could nearly see the length of the room's floor from her position she easily determined that no one else was there. No other feet, no other legs. If someone was there then they were standing on a table. She relaxed slightly and walked the wide middle aisle.

She got through to the other end and opened the door to the deck. There was an area about 30' x 20'. The deck was enclosed with a high cement wall that would make it impossible for anyone from the outside to see in. No one on the street could ever imagine what was inside the warehouse. Scully walked past a row of tiki torches and looked to see what they were mounted in. Plant boxes lined the edge of the deck. Each held at least three torches. 'It must be stunning out here with all of these lit.' She walked further and felt the ground beneath her feet change in texture. She looked down and saw that the wood had changed to tile. She looked forward again and realized that one half of the deck was a pool of some kind. 'How in the hell did she do that up here?' Scully knelt down and felt the plastic cover. 'Geez.'

She made her way back dodging lawn furniture and potted plants. As she came through the greenhouse door and back into the house she motioned for Gail to join her.

"Looks okay."

"Good. Can we call the hospital now?"

"Sure." Scully pulled her cell phone out of her coat pocket and followed Gail to the couch.

"You want some coffee?"

"I'd love some."

Gail got up and went into the kitchen. She was back ten minutes later with two cups in hand. Scully was just hanging up.

"Marlene's condition hasn't gotten worse, but it hasn't improved much either. Her doctor thinks some of the blood has been reabsorbed by her system but she's still too shaky for them to run any tests. They'll call if there are any developments."

Gail sat down and handed Scully her coffee. Her face registered concern and fatigue.

"Maybe you should try and get some sleep." Scully offered. "I can wake you if I hear anything. I've got to make some calls to set up recording equipment for your phone and I'll arrange for another agent to stay with you during the day. I should get a car posted outside as well."

"I don't think I could sleep. Thanks for the offer though."

Scully nodded. "Where's your answering machine?"

"It's in the kitchen."

"We need to check it for Pickett. Is it tape or digital?"

"Digital." Gail said. "Probably not good huh?"

"We'll just have to make sure not to erase anything until we get some phone recording equipment set up."

Gail nodded and got up, "It's over here."

"Eight messages?"

"Yeah. All since I left here around 8 last night."

Scully looked at her watch. It was 2:57 a.m.

"Want me to play them?"

"Yeah."

Gail hit the play button.

"GIRL!" A man's voice, nearly yelling came across and both Scully and Gail jumped. Scully got her pad and pen out but noticed that Gail was shaking her head.

"It's not Pickett."

Scully nodded as the message continued.

"Girl where are YOU? I'm dying here! I ran into 'Vulgarity' this weekend and she looked like shit. Seriously, SHIT! I was shrieking with glee girlfriend and I just had call you. That tramp has let herself go! See - I told you she was crazy when she broke it off with you. You were the best shit she ever had and now a year later she looks like a K-Mart ad. HA! Anyway, call me. Bye."

Gail hit the stop button on her recorder and turned to Scully, a full fledged blush across her cheeks.

She gestured toward the machine. "Kevin."

Scully stared at her, brow raised, "He seems a little worked up."

"It'd be rare if he wasn't."

Scully nodded slightly. She could tell that Gail was expecting more from her, some recognition that she'd just been outted. She ran through a list of things that would be PC and appropriate. In the end she simply said, "Shall we listen to the rest?"

Gail seemed to be thinking for a moment, then, "Sure."

Of the remaining seven calls only three were from Pickett.

The first: "You blew it Doc. Really blew it. If you'd talked to me, even fuckin' waved to me I wouldn't have done it. I would have stayed away from Marlene."

The second: "When will we meet again doctor? Do you miss me? Maybe I should start coming to my appointments again hey? Maybe I'll make my own appointment time. I think I'd be more comfortable at your house. Shall we do that? I'll meet you at your house. I'll pick the time·"

Gail shivered. The change in his voice· from anger to calm calculation. It scared her to death.

The third: "I've got something for you. A gift. Yeah, that's right, it's a gift. Something to make sure you don't squirm to much. No no no, I'm not going to tell you what it is. I don't want to wreck the surprise. See you soon."

Gail felt her stomach contract and she ran suddenly toward the bathroom. Scully followed closely behind but remained just outside the door until it seemed Gail was finished. Eventually she heard the toilet flush and the water in the sink run.

Gail walked out of the bathroom a minute later with a towel in her hand. "Sorry."

"You all right?" Scully put her hand on Gail's back.

"Yeah. I think I'll take you up on that offer to lye down. I'm feeling a little shaky."

"I understand." Scully watched her sit on the edge of the bed and then went back to the living room. She sat on the couch and began making phone calls. Every now and then she'd glance toward Gail's sleeping form on the bed.

She spent an hour arranging for phone recorders, daytime security and an outdoor security car to be at it's post 24 hours a day. All were to go into motion immediately.

She had a half hour before the phone crew showed up. She picked up her cell phone once more and dialed Mulder's number.

-end-


Shrink - Chapter 13

"Mulder."

Scully seized up. She didn't want to have this conversation. "It's me."

"Hey Scully."

"Mulder I'm going to be unavailable for a few days."

Silence.

"I've gotten involved in an assault case and I'm assigned to personal protection duty until the suspect is apprehended."

More silence.

"Mulder?"

"Sounds pretty boring."

She sighed into the cell phone. "It is, but I'm stuck here for a while."

"Why are you whispering?"

"I'm at the house of the protectee. She's trying to sleep and I don't want to wake her."

"How did you get wrapped up in a body guard assignment?"

"It's a long story."

"Anyone could handle this Scully. I'll call up to Skinner and have him find someone to relieve you. I need you here."

"No!" Scully squinched up her face as she realized her overreaction. "No Mulder, I've made a personal commitment here and I have to see it through."

"Do you know the victim?"

"I know the woman who was assaulted, yes. She's a friend."

"Oh. Sorry Scully, I didn't realize." His demeanor softened considerably. "Do you need any help?"

She smiled into the phone. "No Mulder, but thanks."

"Sure. Well· call me if you need anything. And keep me posted ok?"

"Thanks for understanding."

"Talk to you soon, watch your back."

"I will. Bye." She hung up and breathed a sigh of relief.


Her next call was to Detective Johns.

"Johns."

"This is Agent Scully. Any news?"

"Well yes, as a matter of fact. Our friend Mr. Pickett has a laundry list of priors. Anything from shop-lifting to assault. And by the way, Pickett is an alias. The guy's real name is Pelt, Bob Pelt. He's from California originally."

"Any idea where he is?"

"No. We've been to his apartment and there was no trace of the guy. He's employed at the 'Lock and Save' just outside of Georgetown. We've got officers there now going through each storage unit. Real pain in the ass but he could be hiding in any one of 'em."

"Were his prior assaults on women?"

"Women and men. He seems to go after women most often. You should know Agent Scully that this guy frequents shrinks. Three of his assault victims have a 'Dr.' in front of their names. The little trick he pulled on Dr. Aris wasn't his first time. Tell her that would you?"

"Am I mistaken or was that a show of compassion Detective?"

"Hey, when I'm wrong I say I'm wrong."

Scully smiled at the sleeping form in the bed, she almost wanted to wake her to tell her she hadn't been the only one who was played by this guy.

"Agent? If you'd like I can authorize round the clock protection for the doctor. I know I told you that I couldn't spare the officers but now that I know what we're dealing with here I'd be happy to send a few your way."

"That's a nice offer Detective but I think I have it handled. You concentrate on finding the bad guy ok?"

"You bet. I can reach you at your cell phone number if I come up with anything?"

"Yes."

"Alright then. You take care Agent Scully."

"I will, thank you."


Scully set her cell phone down on the coffee table and walked to the kitchen for more coffee.

There, laying in the sink blissfully asleep, was a small tortoise-shell colored cat.

She reached over and stroked his head, "Hey little one." The cat opened it's eyes and rubbed the side of it's mouth against her nails. In a short time he was purring loudly. "Where were you hiding?"

She pet him for a second more then turned and poured more coffee into her mug. As she made her way back to the couch she noticed that Gail was sitting up in bed.

"Can't sleep?"

"No. Any word?"

Scully walked over and stood next to the bed. "Yeah." She smiled.

"Is she awake?" Gail asked as she pulled her legs toward her and patted the mattress.

Scully sat down and shook her head, "No. But I talked to Detective Johns."

"Oh?"

"Bob Pickett's real name is Bob Pelt. He's a California native."

Gail narrowed her eyes, "He told me he was from Florida."

"He's got a long list of priors that include assaults on psychologists."

"No way."

Scully nodded, "Yes way. I don't know the details but he's done this to at least three other women doctors."

"You mean he assaulted them?"

"Yes. He's made it a hobby."

Gail rested her face in her hands, "Wow."

Scully sipped her coffee.

"What kind of assault?"

Scully's brow raised, "What do you mean?"

"Was it sexual assault? Physical assault?"

"I don't know but I suppose I can find out. Are you sure YOU want to know?"

"I think so, yes."

"Ok, I'll look into it and have the information when I come tomorrow."

"No Scully, you need to sleep tomorrow." Gail looked her in the eyes, "Listen, I never expected you to do this. You don't have to. You're putting everything on hold to be here with me. I appreciate it, I do, but I would completely understand if you needed to make other arrangements."

Scully held up her hand as Gail spoke but the woman would not stop.

"We know it's safe in here now right? I'll be here all weekend. The security system is set. You don't need to come back tonight Scully. I'm fine, really. If you could just let me know how Marlene is doing·"

"Gail, shut up."

Gail's brows raised and her mouth snapped shut.

Scully smiled at her small victory. "I'm going to be relieved from duty by the Agent who will be here in," she looked at her watch, "one hour. I'm going to go home and go to bed. I'll wake up around 3 p.m., clean myself up and go to the hospital to check on Marlene. I will then make a stop at the police station and get the information on Pelt that you've asked for. I'll be back here at 5:30."

Scully paused to take a breath and then continued.

"I will have no arguments. I will take no excuses. I will stay here with you until I'm relieved by another agent in the morning. End of story."

Gail started to protest. "But·"

"No."

She looked stunned for a moment, then held up her finger and pointed at Scully "You know·"

Scully raised her brows in warning.

"Marlene told me 'no' for the first time last week and she said just like you did. Just · 'NO'."

Scully laughed. "Did you deserve it?"

"A flat out 'no' like that? Absolutely not." Gail looked smug and Scully chuckled a little louder.

Then a look of panic crossed Gail's face.

"What?"

Gail waved her hand, "Nothing· just thinking." And Gail thought to herself, 'just remembering why Marlene said 'no' to me and wishing I'd never brought it up'.

"So what prompted Marlene tell you 'no'?"

"Nothing, it's not important. I'm just a little concerned with the sudden trend." Gail smiled at her.

"Hmmmm." Scully didn't buy her explanation but she let the subject drop. Sailboat sprung onto the bed and rubbed against her back. Scully reached around an scratched his head.

"You mustn't be nice to Sailboat."

"You named your cat 'Sailboat'?"

"Yeah."

"Why can't I be nice to little Sailboat here?"

"Because he's a terrorist."

"Ooooo k." Scully looked at her oddly but didn't let on that she'd heard the pledge call and knew =exactly= how Sailboat had earned his 'terrorist' reputation.

Scully's cell phone rang. She got up from the bed and answered it.

A minute later she was back at Gail's bedside. "The agents are here with the phone equipment."

Gail got up and grabbed some paper and a pen out of a kitchen drawer. She scribbled a few lines and handed it to Scully. "These are all the doors with their cooresponding codes."

"Thanks."

It took another hour to get the agents in and the equipment set up. They instructed Scully, Gail and the agent who was there to relieve Scully on how to use the machinery. They'd installed a caller ID so Gail could see prior to answering if she knew the caller. If a call came through as 'Out Of Area' it was possibly Pelt and the recording equipment had to be turned on prior to answering the phone. If it was a friend or relative the phone call, obviously, didn't need to be recorded.

The phone crew left and Scully introduced Gail to the Agent who'd be relieving her.

"Dr. Aris this is Agent Phelps. He'll be with you today until I get back."

Gail noticed that Scully had gone back to using her title and last name in the presence of the other agents. She was reminded suddenly that they weren't supposed to know each other as well as they did. She played along willingly, not wanting to jeopardize Scully's reputation.

"Agent Phelps." She shook the man's hand. 'Handsome guy.' She thought.

Scully put her coat on and Gail followed her into the foyer. Agent Phelps walked around the warehouse.

Scully motioned for Gail to come closer. She nodded toward the other agent, "He looks like a kid at Disneyland."

Gail smiled at her.

"Your home is amazing, did you know that?"

Gail tilted her head, amused, "You really think so huh?"

"Yeah." Scully shifted on her feet. She seemed· what? Hesitant? "I'll see you tonight." Scully turned and got into the elevator and Gail pulled down the slat door for her. She unlocked the emergency stop and the elevator started to move.

Gail stood for long seconds in the foyer. 'What is this?' She had a really weird feeling in her belly that radiated upward. She felt· depressed, she guessed, but in an odd way· Maybe a little lost? 'This is ridiculous' she thought to herself. 'I'm a grown up for Christ's sake.'

She turned and walked back into the warehouse. She could see Agent Phelps standing in front of the fountain. He turned to her and wide-eyes asked, "Did you make this?"

-end-


Shrink - Chapter 14

Scully stood in her shower and let hot water run down her back. She felt her shoulder muscles relax slowly and turned to rinse her hair.

A few minutes later she stood before her bed and surveyed the clothes she'd laid out.

'Why am I having so much trouble with this?' She was thinking. 'Just pick something.'

It was only 2 in the afternoon but Scully had tossed and turned from noon on after only a brief sleep. She'd finally lost her patience and just gotten up. She was anxious and her stomach was giving her trouble. It felt like she'd had too much caffeine, although she'd had none since she'd been home. She was jittery and hungry but nothing sounded good to her. She'd stood in front of her CD player for ten full minutes and finally just turned on the radio. She tripped over what could only have been the pattern of her rug. Moments ago in the bathroom she'd dropped her blush twice in a row. It shattered on the second trip to the floor, sending rose colored powder across the tile. And now she stood in her underwear and bra in front of a bed covered in clothes.

And she just couldn't decide.

In short, she was a mess.

She picked up a deep blue sweater and slipped it over her head. She turned and looked at herself in the mirror. 'Neck line is too low.' She pulled it off and grabbed a white sweatshirt, slipping it quickly over her head. 'Better.' She picked a pair of jeans off the bed and slipped into them. She then grabbed her running shoes. She held them in her hands for a second before opening her closet door and lobbing them in. She peeled off the white sweatshirt and grabbed the blue sweater. She turned it right-side-out and slipped it back on. She pulled on a navy pair of suede loafers and looked again in the mirror.

She tilted her head to the side as she regarded her reflection. She sighed heavily and walked to the kitchen grabbing her bag and keys, badge and weapon. She slipped her trench coat on and walked out to her car.


When Scully arrived at the hospital Marlene's doctors were conferencing. She made her way quietly into the room and listened to their care strategy for Marlene.

She'd been stabilized over night and they'd ran a series of brain scans and other tests on her. So far each had come back normal. They were toying with the idea of reviving her the next morning.

******************************************************************************

She walked into the police station with a smile playing at the corners of her mouth. Detective Johns approached her and couldn't help but smile back, "You know sumthin' I don't?"

"Marlene is out of the woods. Her doctors think they'll be able to revive her tomorrow morning."

"Well that's good news. You drive by here just to tell me that?"

"Actually I need some more information on Mr. Pelt. I'm curious about his other assault victims, the doctors. Specifically I'd like to know what kind of assaults he perpetrated."

"You mean sexual or not sexual?"

"Yes. That and how he got to them. I'd like to be prepared for anything."

"Impressive Agent Scully. You even approach the low-skilled jobs like a professional. You're doing more research than some of my best guys do."

She smiled at him as he ushered her back into his office. He filled her in on all of Pelt's finer points and preferences. When he was finished she'd filled twelve pages of her small notebook.

He walked her out to her car, "By the way Agent, I've scrounged up three more units. They're posted along with the original all around Dr. Aris' warehouse. She's got the best security I've got to offer."

Scully reached for his hand. "Thank you."

"No problem", he looked embarrassed at her gratitude. "Guess you don't need to be inside at all now, since we've got the outside covered from every angle."

She gave him a half smile, "No· guess not."

"Well, give Dr. Aris my best and I'll be in touch."

"Thanks again Detective. You're golden."

He waved her off, "It's nothing." She watched him walk back into the station, his hands in his pockets.

**************************************************

It took her a while to locate Gail and Agent Phelps in the warehouse. She finally caught site of the back of the Agent's head through the greenhouse windows and walked out on to the deck.

Agent Phelps stood watching as Gail slung what looked like gray mud onto some kind of small planter.

"What's going on here?" Scully asked.

Agent Phelps spun on his heel and faced her, surprised. His cheeks reddened slightly and he pointed to where Gail sat on her heels smiling.

"Dr. Aris is ahhh·"

"Agent Phelps needed a fountain." Gail said, still smiling.

"Really?" Scully looked at him sternly.

"I insisted." Gail said quickly.

"It's just a little one." The Agent added, as if it would help.

Scully clasped her hands, "Can I talk to you two inside please?"

Gail stood, smirking, and wiped her hands on her jeans. Gray finger marks were already drying on her ass. As Scully walked behind them she had to stifle a laugh.

She pointed to the front door and the other two headed toward it. Once there she addressed them both.

"Agent Phelps, I'd like to thank you for your service. Your assignment here is wrapped up."

He misunderstood Scully's statement to be an admonishment and he stammered, "Agent Scully, at no time was Dr. Aris in any danger·"

"It's not that at all Phelps. She's covered on the outside. She no longer needs residence protection."

He looked relieved.

Gail spoke up, "Agent Scully, did something happen?"

Scully shushed her and gave her a look that said 'later'. Gail shut up.

Agent Phelps didn't notice the exchange between the two women. He turned to Gail and shook her hand, "Dr. Aris, it was a pleasure."

"Same here Frank. I'll send the fountain to you at work as soon as it's done."

His face brightened, "That'd be· really great."

"Good bye Agent Phelps." Scully added as she opened the door.

"Oh yeah, bye now." He waved back toward them awkwardly and Scully shut the door behind him.

"Frank?" She said sarcastically, turning to Gail.

"What could I do? He was in my house, he was drinking my coffee·"

Scully sighed.

"You look great."

And then she blushed.

"That sweater is the perfect color for you."

She mumbled a 'thanks' and walked further into the room.

"So why'd you shush me?"

Scully smiled, "Marlene is much better. The doctors think they may be able to revive her as early as tomorrow morning."

Gail didn't speak. She closed the distance between them and wrapped her arms around Scully softly, pressing her cheek against Scully's as she did so. It took a couple seconds for Scully to adjust to the feeling of having Gail wrapped around her. She slowly brought her hands up from her sides and laid them tentatively around Gail's waist. She could feel wetness on her cheek and she knew that Gail was crying. She squeezed her a little tighter and felt the other woman's warm breath in her ear. Then a soft 'thank you Scully' whispered warm against her face. Scully opened her mouth slightly and closed her eyes.

Every feeling she'd had in her apartment came back to her ten fold and she felt her hands begin to shake. She pressed them tighter to Gail to try and stop the trembling. Thinking that movement might disguise the shaking she ran both hands up to Gail's shoulders and back down again.

Gail shuddered in her arms and Scully thought with alarm that she was sobbing. When she pulled back to look at her it didn't appear that Gail was crying at all anymore. She looked·

Scully felt her stomach react and tried to distance herself some. "Shouldn't this be a happy moment?" She said it in an effort to lighten the intensity. Something seemed to be building in the space between them and it was making Scully too warm... too uncomfortable.

Gail smiled, "Oh, it is. I'm so thankful to you Scully. I don't think Marlene would have gotten the care that she did had you not been there to orchestrate it."

"Well·"

Gail's train of thought changed. "Hey."

"What?"

"You get to go home now don't you?"

"Well, I wanted to talk to you about that. I think I'd like to stay anyway."

Gail gave her a confused look.

"I have a lot of faith in the four Georgetown policemen posted outside but I'd still like to remain as the last line of defense inside. That is, if you don't mind."

Gail looked surprised, "Not in the least."

"I think I should just plan on staying here all weekend. If that's okay?"

Gail nodded.

"I can sleep on the couch."

"You mean you'll be here all of the time?"

Scully felt embarrassed, like she'd jumped over an invisible line somewhere. "Yeah, it'd be more in a 'friend' capacity and not so much as an Agent."

"What about your life Scully?"

Scully sighed. "If I had one I'd still want to be doing exactly the same thing."

Gail smiled broadly at her.

"Since I don't, well, I'm actually looking forward to it."

"Will you need to go home? Pick up some things?"

"Yeah. I'll call an officer up from outside to stay with you. I should be back in about an hour."

"Will you let me make you dinner?"

Scully's brow came up, "Yes. I will."

"Good."

*****************************************************************

Dinner was in the oven when Scully returned and Gail had poured them both a healthy glass of wine.

They settled into a comfortable silence together in the living room.

Scully sat on one side of the couch watching Gail on the other as she read. Every now and then the blonde would run a hand through her hair or push her glasses up. She seemed unaware that Scully was studying her.

"So, why did Vulgarity dump you?"

Startled, Gail looked up from her book. "What?"

"Vulgarity. Why'd she dump you?"

Gail laughed. "Her name was Peg."

Scully smiled and shrugged a shoulder, "Whatever."

"My god you're as bad as Kevin."

Scully raised her brows as if to say... 'Well?'

Gail sighed and put her book down on her lap. She pulled her glasses off and contemplated Scully's question.

"I guess because I never told her I loved her."

"Oh." Scully was a little taken aback by Gail's bluntness.

"Can't blame her really."

"No, I guess not. Were you together long?"

"I don't know, what do you consider long?"

"More than a year."

"A year and a half."

"Hmmm."

"What's that? What's 'hmmmm' mean?"

Scully shook her head and turned her attention back to the book she had in her own lap, "Nothing."

Gail sat up on her knees, "That's not FAIR Scully."

Scully looked up at her smiling innocently, "What?"

Gail tipped her head, "You know what."

"Why would you be with a woman for a year and a half if you didn't love her?"

Gail smiled. "I never said I didn't love her. I just said I never =told= her that I loved her."

"That's just vocabulary."

Gail chuckled and looked into her eyes. "You know what I like about you Scully?"

Scully gave her a suspicious look. "I'm all ears."

"I like that you're smart."

Her eyes softened and she smiled self consciously. "Where did that come from?"

"I was thinking about you today while the Huey was here."

"Agent Phelps."

"Whatever." Gail flipped her hand. "I was thinking about how smart you are and what you must have had to go through to get that smart."

Scully felt like a punch line might be coming, "Really."

Gail nodded, "Yeah. Really."

Scully felt herself flush.

"Was it hard on you? The academy?"

"No harder than it was on anyone else."

"My, what a diplomatic answer." Gail sat back against the arm of the couch. "I wish I believed you. I don't though Scully. I think you probably went through hell." Gail was regarding her seriously now.

"I thought you weren't my therapist anymore."

"I'm not."

"Then why are you trying to make me cry?"

Gail looked like it had occurred to her suddenly what she'd been doing and she felt immediate remorse, "Oh Scully, I'm not. I just... I want you to be happy."

Scully felt her eyes fill with tears.

"I'm so sorry. I just slip into a mode and... please don't cry." Gail moved closer to Scully's side of the couch. She smiled at her softly, "I really hate it when you cry."

Scully laughed lightly through her tears. She swatted Gail on the arm, "Then you've gotta quit doing that 'I feel your pain' thing."

"Ok, ok. I don't feel your pain. Swear to god. I feel fine..." Gail sucked her bottom lip into her mouth and squinted her eyes...

Scully's eyes went wide "Hey."

"What?"

"You completely flipped that conversation around Dr. Aris. We were talking about you and the next thing I know I'm in tears."

Gail cringed a little, "You caught that huh?"

"It took me a minute but yes, dammit, I caught that."

The alarm on the stove went off and Gail jumped up. "Oop - dinner."

'Weasel' Scully thought as she watched her jog into the kitchen.

-end-


Shrink - Chapter 15

"This is really good. What's it called?"

"Ummm, let's see, Pasta Puttenesca... I think." Gail took a sip of her wine and added. "Kevin taught me how to make this a long time ago."

"Are you and Kevin pretty close?"

"Very. I've known him since my freshman year in college."

"How'd you meet him?" Scully stabbed at a black olive with her fork.

"My roommate Kathy used to walk with him to a class they had together. He would wait in our room while she got ready."

"So it was 'like' at first sight?"

"Oh no, I couldn't stand him. I don't think he liked me much either."

"Really?" Gail nodded and Scully asked, "How did he end up winning you over?"

"Well..." Gail twirled some pasta on her fork, "I went to my first gay party." She watched Scully for a reaction but she didn't seem uncomfortable so Gail continued, "I was a nervous wreck... I was so worried that I'd see someone I knew..." She shrugged her shoulders, "I guess you could say I was 'gay and ashamed'. Hey, that make a good T-shirt don't you think?"

Scully laughed lightly and smiled at her. "Go on."

Gail smiled back, blinked a couple times then continued. "Ok, so here I am this young scared gay chick, trying VERY hard NOT to be noticed. I was so afraid someone would actually talk to me that I was sick to my stomach. I remember looking around at all the people having fun and thinking, 'Are these people stupid? Why are they so proud of themselves? Do they not realize how dangerous this is?'"

"Why did you think it was dangerous?"

"I think because I was so new to it all. I really was ashamed, I guess, and probably homophobic. I was afraid of myself more than anything."

"You don't feel that way now do you?"

Gail regarded her seriously, "Once in a while I still get little twinges of shame. It's a hard thing to overcome, it was for me anyway. My family· they had a lot of trouble with it all. Can't blame them. No one wishes for a gay child."

Scully paused and wiped her mouth, "Gail, if I'm asking anything too personal you can tell me."

"No, no, don't worry about that. Scully, I know a whole lot more about you than you know about me. You're at a disadvantage. Please, ask anything you'd like to know about." Scully smiled at her, that half smile she'd first shot at her in the office. Gail's heart skipped a beat. She sighed deeply and sat back in her chair, "Scully, I don't know your views on homosexuality. If I hesitate in answering a question it's because I'm not sure how you feel or how much you'd like to hear. I've been with friends who tell me it's fine and that they fully support me. But the minute I mention something that makes them uncomfortable I feel them shut down. I don't want to feel that with you."

Scully shifted in her chair, fidgeting really, and finally pulled her leg up under her and sat on it. She looked Gail in the eyes and opened her mouth to speak, and then closed it.

"What is it Scully? Have I offended you?"

"No. I'm not offended." She placed her hands on either side of her plate, running her fingers absent mindedly over the contours of the fabric place mat. Gail waited patiently for her to continue. "I guess you could say I'm..."

Gail's stomach seized slightly and she pushed her plate away, replacing the open spot on the table with her elbows. She needed to concentrate on looking casual. Interested... but casual... all the time thinking 'please don't say 'curious' Scully, I can hardly maintain as it is... please don't say 'curious'...

"...interested in your life."

Gail let out a sigh, stifling it before it blew Scully's hair back. Scully continued, "I feel like you're a little bit 'larger than life'. Does that make sense?" The look on Gail's face said it didn't. "I guess it's because you were, for three weeks anyway, such an intense part of my thoughts. At first I dreaded meeting you, and then I really looked forward to seeing you..." She stumbled over her words, not knowing what she was trying to say.

"Even though I made you cry?"

"Yep, even though you made me cry."

"You see now that I'm just as vulnerable as anyone else. Just as human."

"I'm starting to. I guess I was a little in awe..." she shook her head, "I'm not sure where I'm going with all this." A blush rose in her cheeks. "I just find myself wanting to know everything about you."

"I think I understand." Gail said softly.

"Finish your story about Kevin."

"Ah yes... Kevin. Well, I was plastered to the wall at this party and I looked up... and there he was, coming down the steps. I saw him, he saw me."

Scully laughed, "Uh oh."

"Yeah. I made a run for it. I hid in the bathroom for a while. And then it occurred to me that he wouldn't be there if he weren't 'family', so I went out and found him. He'd been looking for me. We were inseparable after that."

Scully smiled. "'Family' huh? I like that."

"It is kinda cute isn't it?"

"Yeah." Scully looked as if she were reloading for another question. "Did you first start dating women in college?"

"Yeah, I did· a little. I didn't get a whole lot of offers."

A brow came up, "I find that hard to believe." Scully gave her a skeptical look. "I bet you got chased a lot."

Gail gave her a surprised look. "Why would you think that?"

Scully couldn't figure out why she'd have to ask. She felt like she was stating the obvious, "Because you're..." she raised her hands toward Gail, "stunning."

Gail stared at her for a moment, then collected her plate and silverware and got up from the table. She walked to the sink and said, over her shoulder, "Well that's very kind but at that time I weighed about twice what I do now."

Scully's jaw dropped. "You're kidding."

Gail turned from the sink to face her. "No. I was overweight. And I had a Laurie Partidge hair style... flat, parted down the middle... and it's true color is brown, by the way. And not an attractive brown, sorta washed out." Gail seemed to contemplate something and said, suddenly, "Exactly like college women wear their hair today." She laughed aloud, "Wow, if only I'd waited·" She winked at Scully.

Scully was still processing the new information. "Twice your weight?"

Gail turned back to the sink. "I topped out at 230."

"My god, you're half that now."

"Actually, I'm a little more than half. I haven't weighed myself in the last year or so but I think I'm around 120."

Scully stared at Gail's back. "I can't believe it."

"Oh, believe it. Stuff fell into orbit around me. It was awful."

"But to look at you now·" Scully said, getting up from the table with her dishes and walking to the sink.

"Scully, I was heavy as a first grader and every year I got heavier. I'm frankly more used to being fat than I am to being thin. I've had skin removed from all over me·" Gail sighed and turned to look into her eyes. "Would you like to see a picture?"

"Do you have one?"

"I might." Gail flicked some bubbles at her lightly and then walked to her nightstand. Inside the top drawer was a group of small photo albums. She pulled one out and walked back to the kitchen. She handed it to Scully and turned back to the sink. Scully looked through the book as Gail loaded the dish washer.

"You're not in here." Scully said after a few moments.

Gail came around behind her and looked over her shoulder at the first two pictures. "That's Kevin there," she pointed to a handsome young man with a goatee, and that's me behind him." When she pointed to herself Scully's jaw hung limp.

The woman in the picture was quite overweight. Her hair hung limply around her face. She had her hands resting on Kevin's shoulders. The fingers were pudgy. Scully looked more closely. The eyes. The woman was Gail, she could see it in her eyes. All of her other features seemed to be hidden under her excessive weight.

"My God. This looks nothing like you Gail."

"Thank you." Gail said, smiling.

"How long ago·" Scully's question hung in the air.

"I dropped most of it about four years ago."

"So it hasn't been that long." Scully flipped through the other pictures.

"Not too long, no."

"How?"

"Did I take it off? Well, I know this is going to sound simple but the fact is that I just didn't need it anymore."

Scully shot her a confused look and Gail smiled at her. She turned her attention back to the dishwasher as she tried to explain.

"I was abused as a kid. I put on weight as a way to insulate myself."

"I don't know if I understand." Scully stated simply.

A shrill ring startled both of them.

Gail looked gravely at Scully as the red head walked slowly to the small phone table and checked the caller ID. "Out of area." She said flatly as she turned on the recording equipment.

Gail walked over to the phone. Her hand shook as she lifted the receiver. Scully slipped on the headphones.

"Hello?"

"Doctor! You picked up! Guess it takes a beating to get you to respond huh? Now I know how to get you to talk to me. How've you been?" Pelt's voice came across the line.

Gail's stomach churned. "Not good Bob."

"Really? Why's that?"

"I think you know why." Gail looked at Scully, her face pale. Scully nodded toward her and reached for her hand, squeezing it lightly.

She whispered, "Keep him talking..."

"You're not alone are you?"

Gail didn't know how to answer him. She looked to Scully.

She whispered, "Tell him the truth."

"No Bob, I'm not alone."

"Date?"

"No. Not a date."

"Really? Because I saw her come in tonight Doc."

Scully's eyes widened. Gail's did the same.

"Where are you?"

"I'm close Doc, very close."

"What do you want Bob? Why are you doing this?" Gail's fright was quickly turning to anger.

"I want to hurt you Doc. I want to hurt you like you hurt me. All you people think you can help. But you don't. None of you ever did."

The women stared at each other for a few moments.

"Are you going to fuck her Doc?"

Gail was startled, "What?"

"You didn't think I knew you were a queer? Of course I knew. I know everything about you. So, the red head. You gonna take her to bed?"

"It's not like that. She's here to protect me."

"That scrawny little thing? Protect you?"

"She's got a big gun."

"Well. Good for her. If I were you I'd leave her alone. Don't want to distract her now. Know what I mean?"

"I told you it wasn't like that."

Pelt chuckled. "Well if it's not like that then I find myself wondering... ya know... why she had such trouble getting dressed this morning."

Scully felt sick. She looked at Gail with obvious alarm and Gail knew at that moment he'd been watching Scully as well.

"What are you talking about?" She said softly into the phone.

"She had all these clothes laid out on her bed. She changed and changed... just couldn't decide I guess. I think she wants to impress you Doc. As far as I can tell she wore about the sleaziest thing she could come up with."

Scully ran a hand across her forehead and closed her eyes. Gail stared at her.

"She wants you Doc. I know women and that one wants you. It's a shame really."

"Why's that?"

"Because you don't have much time left. In the scheme of things· not much time at all."

A chill creeped it's way across Gail's back.

"Bye now Dr. Aris. Sleep well ya hear?"

A soft click and then silence.

-end-


Shrink - Chapter 16

Scully very slowly pulled the headphones off her head and mumbled softly, "I need to make a call." She walked to her bag and pulled out her cell phone.

Gail walked into her office area and opened her briefcase. She leafed through a handful of folders and pulled the one labeled 'Pickett, Robert' from the pile. She then came back toward Scully and sat heavily on the couch as she listened to her side of the phone conversation.

"He said he was close Detective. I think we ought to check all of the surrounding buildings again."

She looked toward Gail as she listened, then, "Yes, he must have followed me to my apartment last night. He said some things that make me certain he was watching me through my bedroom window."

In direct response to Scully's statement butterflies took flight in Gail's stomach. She couldn't think of a worse way to find out that Scully had dressed for her. It made her sick to think she'd put Scully in a position to be hunted as well. She opened Pelt's folder and read through her notes looking for anything she may have missed earlier.

She didn't hear the rest of the conversation and only noticed that Scully had hung up when she sat down next to her on the couch.

Gail didn't want to further embarrass her so she quickly directed the conversation. "This is Pelt's file. I think you should read it. Maybe I'm missing something."

Scully looked relieved as she took the folder, "Like what?"

"Anything. Something that could be used to defuse him."

"Tell me about him Gail. Can you?"

"Yeah. I don't give a shit about confidentiality in this case. He lost his patient rights when he went after Marlene."

Scully nodded. "What was he like when he first came in?"

Gail sat back and put her feet up on the coffee table. "He was charming, really charming. He seemed to be just a regular guy who was struggling with a little depression. He said that he thought his age had something to do with it. He told me his was closing in on 50. We talked about his family, none of which was probably true." Gail said as she rubbed her forehead. "We talked about his mother a lot. He said she was a teacher." Gail stared out at the greenhouse. "I never suspected that he may be schizophrenic. Not once."

"I talked to Detective Johns today. He filled me in on Pelt's past. Would you like to hear about it?"

Gail turned on the couch to face her. She pulled her knees up to her chin and nodded.

Scully took a deep breath, "He apparently did what he's done with you to three other psychologists. His assaults involved rape in every case except Marlene's."

Gail closed her eyes and rested her forehead on her knees.

Scully ran a hand over Gail's hair, "You okay?"

"That's not what I wanted to hear."

"I'm sorry Gail."

Gail lifted her head. "This means that he's atypical."

Scully was confused. She thought Gail had been shaken on a personal level by the fact that Pelt was a rapist. That didn't seem to be the case. "What?"

"Atypical. He's not your garden variety schizophrenic."

"I'm not following·"

"Generally speaking, people with his type of mental illness don't commit sex crimes. The crimes they do commit are based in violence; as a reaction to a paranoid fantasy that they're being persecuted."

"I'm still·"

"I was wrong, he's not schizophrenic."

"Then what is he?"

"I think you'd call him criminally insane."

"And that means·"

"That he hurts people because he likes it."

"That's not good."

"No. Detective Johns should know about this."

Scully nodded and picked the cell phone up from the coffee table. She sat back and hit the 'redial' button.

-end-


Shrink - Chapter 17

"Now what?" Gail asked as she sipped on the same glass of wine she'd been nursing all evening.

"Now we wait. Detective Johns said he'd call me the minute his people finish their sweep on the area."

"Were they able to run a trace?"

"No, same thing as last time. He's using a computer to make the calls."

"What time is it Scully?"

"About eleven."

"Is it too late to call the hospital?"

Scully smiled at her, "No. It's not too late for that."

Gail returned her smile, "Thanks."


Scully hung up and looked at Gail, "Did you get all that from my side of the conversation?"

"They're going to rouse her in the morning?"

"Yep. She's responding well to the medications they're giving her. The excess blood that pooled around her brain is nearly gone. The only thing they seem to be worried about now is a problem with her left ear. There seems to be some damage to her cochlea."

Gail's face registered concern, "What does that mean?"

"She could be facing a hearing loss in her left ear."

"Oh." Gail looked down at her feet. "What about the brain damage?"

"None of that is evident."

"That's good huh?"

Scully smiled at her, "That's really good."

"When this is all over I'm going to buy her a car."

Scully laughed aloud, "A car?"

Gail held her arms wide, "A big ass car." She dropped her hands back to her knees and took a deep breath. "I hope she's okay Scully. I don't have any idea what I'd do without her in my life."

"She'll be okay, don't worry."

Gail nodded but didn't looked convinced.

"She's got to be okay Gail. Someone has to be around to tell you 'no' once in a while."

Gail smiled wryly at her. "Oh I don't know, you seem to be mighty comfortable with the job."

Scully raised a brow, smiling. Then her expression changed as she seemed to be registering something. "Why did she tell you 'no'? You never told me."

Gail looked a little nervous. "I asked her to do something that she felt was· weak, I suppose. Or maybe cowardly is a better way to describe it."

"Can I ask what?"

Gail stared at her hands for a moment. "I asked her to fill out a 'Termination of Therapy' form for me. She refused."

"Was it for Pelt?"

"No." Gail shook her head but wouldn't look at her.

Scully didn't like the lack of eye contact. She whispered, "It wasn't for me was it?"

Gail looked up at her. She was biting her bottom lip. Scully knew the answer without asking.

She continued to whisper, "Why Gail?"

Gail shut her eyes tightly and took a deep breath. She let it out slowly. "It was for personal reasons Scully. It turned out that Marlene was right. She usually is."

Scully was starting to look pissed. "Why did you want to terminate my therapy? I'm not your patient any more. I think I have a right to expect an answer that's less vague."

Gail didn't respond and Scully added, "I'm not that fucked up am I?"

At that Gail balked, "No Scully, for Christ's sake, it's nothing you did." She added afterward, the element of danger this conversation was taking was not lost to her, "Not intentionally at least."

Scully was now on her knees on the couch, directly facing Gail where she sat with her knees pulled up to her chest. The physical closeness and Scully's irritation were making Gail anxious. "Why?" Scully asked again without preamble.

Gail set her jaw and studied the carpet, "Because I was attracted to you. I thought it might have affected my ability to be helpful to you." She said finally. She winced some and looked Scully in the eye.

"Oh." Scully's demeanor softened quickly and she sat back against the arm of the couch.

They sat in silence for a long moment, neither looking at the other.

"Did Marlene know why you wanted to terminate my therapy?"

Gail responded without looking at her, "She had a good idea, yeah."

"How?"

"In the middle of one of your sessions I stood in the hall, in front of her office, for thirty seconds and tried to collect myself. She was pretty much on to me after that."

"I thought you had something in your throat."

"Well," Gail said plainly, "it turned out to be you."

Scully sat quietly for a while before speaking again. Then she said, in all seriousness, "I wasn't even sure if you liked me."

Gail looked at her with a startled expression; her face broke into a smile and then she started to laugh.

Scully laughed a little, reluctantly at first, "I'm serious."

"I know. I just· I can't believe it."

Scully laughed a little more. "You hid it well, you know?"

"Did I?"

"Yeah, you did."

"Didn't feel that way."

Another slightly less uncomfortable silence fell over them.

Scully felt like she was standing on a cliff in a high wind. She took a deep breath. "How do you feel now?"

Gail looked at Scully, not knowing how to answer her. "Now." She said finally. "Now I'm sorry I got you into all this."

Scully eyed her carefully, "That's not what I asked you."

"I know." Gail said, staring at her knees.

Scully said nothing more. She sat patiently· waiting for an answer.

"Now I know you better." Gail's voice lowered to a whisper.

Scully stared at her, silently willing her to say more.

Gail continued quietly, "If Marlene were here now and she could see the way I look at you she'd sign that form herself."

Scully couldn't get her breath. She sat on her side of the couch and stared at a spot on Gail's pants. It was somewhere between her feet and her knees. Her mind was overloaded with images of Gail in her office. Her calm voice· the way she came around the desk to comfort her· and that last time· when she'd had something in her throat she was actually· what?

Scully stole a glance at her then looked back down to the spot she'd been staring at. Gail had been shaken by something I did during that appointment. What?

"What did I do?"

Gail looked up at her.

Scully asked again, "What did I do to send you from the room?"

Gail ran her hands down her own shins. Her eyes seemed to close of their own accord and she shook her head slowly. "You just· smiled at me."

-end-


Shrink - Chapter 18

'That was all? I just smiled?' Scully's mind worked as she avoided Gail's gaze from the other side of the couch.

"Scully?" Gail whispered. "I'm not assuming anything. This is my deal, not yours."

Scully looked up at her. She found she couldn't speak.

"I expect nothing. I don't know anything about your preferences and I have learned through the years to assume everyone is straight until I'm told differently. That's the assumption I've made with you as well. You don't have to be worried that I'll do anything inappropriate. As a matter of fact, if you are worried about that I'd understand if you needed to leave." Gail watched Scully's face carefully but couldn't get any read at all from her expression. She kept talking.

"We never talked about your personal relationships in our sessions." Gail looked down as Sailboat jumped into her lap and started to rub himself against her. She was thinking 'Why did I say anything at all?' She looked back up at Scully, "I don't know anything about your history with men. Assuming you have a history with men." Gail sighed heavily. This was =so= going badly.

Scully continued to look at her. She seemed to be in some kind of shock· or something. Gail couldn't tell what was going on with her. She filled the dead air between them once more out of sheer nervousness. "It's really none of my business. I· Scully· can we forget I even said anything?"

"I haven't dated in about 3 years." Scully said.

"What·" Gail was completely confused.

"My last date was with a guy my sister set me up with. He was a proctologist." She reached over and scratched Sailboat on the head. Looking up she smiled at Gail, the crooked smile, "I could never get past that. His job I mean. It just seemed· ucky." Scully's face showed her distaste. "You'd think with my medical background I could cope but· he picked that· ya know? He looked at a list of specialties and he picked that." She shook her head. "Blick."

Gail laughed as she tried desperately to catch up to the normal conversation Scully had started. She was still confused but wanted very much to be able to roll with her.

Scully continued her dialogue, "Before that it was another FBI agent. We dated for a year or so but I just didn't feel that strongly about him. When he left I waited to be devastated. All I ever felt was relieved."

Gail stretched her legs to give Sailboat a lap bed. She didn't say anything. She wanted Scully to keep talking.

"Before that·" Scully looked at her and smiled slightly, "more of the same really. I don't think anyone has ever been 'the one'. Someone came close once I think. It's weird really. There was never even physical closeness but I was really emotionally involved." She shook her head slightly at the memory.

The hairs on Gail's neck pricked up a bit. She had a feeling· "Did 'the one' ever know how you felt Scully?" Gail was using her soft voice·

"I don't know. It seemed to be mutual but nothing ever happened. It's confusing. Sometimes I wonder if my memories of that relationship are true. I wonder if I embellished them in my mind. Like I'm replaying them the way I would have liked to see them, reading more into what happened than really did·"

"How old were you?"

"I was 24. It happened my last year at Quantico."

Gail nodded but said nothing. Her heart pounded harder in her chest. She knew how this story went, it had happened to her as well.

"It all seemed vague."

"Vague?" Gail asked softly.

"Yeah."

"I think I understand what you mean." Gail said, "Like maybe she was too afraid to take the steps that would make your relationship real."

Scully looked at her in surprise. Gail had an instant of terror· 'oh shit, I'm wrong'. Scully looked to the coffee table, not meeting her gaze and swallowed, then whispered softly, "Yeah. I never knew if she really felt the way I did or not. She was too scared, I think."

Gail struggled to maintain her train of thought. "That happened to me too." She kept her voice soft, knowing that this was probably the first time Scully had ever parted with this information. "I fell in love with my best friend in college. She seemed to be so· well· she seemed to fall with me. We kept getting closer and then one day she just·" Gail's voice tapered off.

"She just what?" Scully asked softly.

"She just seemed to turn her back. I felt at that point like I had misjudged the whole thing. I felt like·" Gail took a breath, "like something was really wrong with me I guess."

The phone rang shrilly and Gail laid her palm on her chest, startled. She unwound Sailboat from her lap and walked into the kitchen with Scully right behind her.

-end-


Shrink - Chapter 19

"Have you done it yet Doc?"

"Done what Bob?"

"You know. I'm sittin' here all by myself. Just... thinkin'... wondrin' if you've taken a spin on your new toy."

"I have no idea what you're talking about." Gail's face paled some. Scully stood next to her, one hand in place to hold the headphones up to her left ear.

"What I'm talking about is the hard-on you two are giving me. I want to know if you've gone down on her yet. What's she taste like Doc? Huh? She as sweet as she looks?"

Gail's jaw clenched and she lost her temper, "Shut the fuck up Bob." Her voice was even but Scully could see her hand shaking as she held the phone to her ear.

Bob let out a peel of laughter, "Jesus!" He laughed harder, "She cussed. The good doctor actually cussed."

Gail rubbed her forehead with the tips of her fingers. "Where are you now? Are you still close?"

"Don't change the subject Dr. Aris. I was talking about..."

"I know," Gail said loudly, "what you were talking about Bob but I told you before that it's not like that."

"Well then what is it like? I can't see you from here. Not even a shadow."

Gail looked toward Scully, her face reddening, "What can you see from there?"

"I can see that you've got some help on the outside too Doc."

"I don't believe you Bob. The police have canvassed this area twice."

"Yeah, I know. I heard 'em walking around a while ago. Shame that none of 'em looked up."

Gail's stomach knotted. "Up?"

"That's right."

Gail was silent.

"So I told you mine." Bob said softly. "Now you tell me yours."

"Tell you what?"

"What you been doing in there?"

"Will you tell me more about where you are if I tell you what we've been doing?"

"I might."

Scully shook her head but Gail ignored her, saying, "We've been on the couch. Talking."

"Close?"

"Pretty close, yeah."

"I can see your garage from here doctor. All three doors."

Gail looked at Scully again and she nodded permission for her to go on.

"What have you two been talking about?" Bob's voice was uneven. Scully guessed that he was probably masturbating.

"Relationships, mostly."

"With girls right?"

"That's right Bob, with girls."

He was quiet for a moment. They could hear his breathing increase. Scully had a look of disgust on her face.

"You been with a lot of girls Doc?" His rasp came across shakily.

"A few Bob. A few. What else can you see?"

"I can see the greenhouse roof. Now you tell me, how many have you gone down on?"

Gail looked at Scully, embarrassed. She put her hand over the receiver and whispered, "Is this really helping? Should I just hang up?"

Scully whispered back, "I hate to say it but I think if you keep it up long enough he'll give away his location."

"What if he's lying?" Gail looked uneasy.

"He could be but it's worth a shot. Can you keep going?"

Gail nodded solemnly and said into the receiver, "I've gone down on a couple."

Bob emitted a soft moan then asked haltingly between breaths, "What's that like? What's it like for you?"

"Tell me which side you're facing, is it the north side?"

"I can't..."

"I'm hanging up Bob..."

"Wait... wait... I can tell you that it's not the west side..."

Gail turned from Scully slightly. She looked at the far wall of the warehouse and said, quietly, "It's beautiful Bob. With a woman, the right woman, anyway, it can be incredible." She knew Scully heard every word she said through the headphones, but somehow turning from her made it easier for Gail to answer his question.

"What do they do when you go down on them? What..." It was evident that Bob was close to ejaculating, "do they do?"

"Is it the north side Bob?"

"No, what do they do Doc?" They could hear him fumbling with something, "God dammit... what do they do when you're eating them?" Gail winced at his terminology.

Scully had written 'North, South, East and West' down in her notebook. As the conversation evolved she'd crossed out both 'West' and 'North'.

Scully knew that the South side of the building faced an empty lot that was as big as a city block. That meant, if Pelt was telling the truth, that he was hiding somewhere in the ceiling of a building to the East.

Scully tapped Gail on the shoulder. Gail turned and Scully made a motion as though she were hanging up a phone.

Gail set the receiver in the cradle, hanging up on Pelt. "He's in the Old Metal Stamping building, if we can believe him."

Scully walked to the coffee table, picked up her cell phone and quickly dialed the Detective's number. She was patched through to a squad car right outside Gail's building. When Johns picked up she relayed the message to him and suggested that he take dogs into the building along with the officers. He said he was already on it.

Scully walked back toward the kitchen. "They're going back through now. I told the Detective that now would be a good time to find him. I doubt if Pelt can walk much less run."

Gail smiled self-consciously as Scully tinkered with the recording devise. She appeared to rewinding the tape. She then hit 'play' and 'record' simultaneously.

"What are you doing Scully?"

"Erasing that last call."

"But..."

"We have the evidence we need to convict him of assault. These tapes won't be needed to bring him down." Scully turned to smile at her.

"Thank you."

Scully nodded and Gail walked back into the living area. She loaded some wood into the large center fireplace and hit the gas starter. By the time Scully came back to sit on the couch the fire was already warming the surrounding space.

"Got a chill." Gail stated as she felt Scully sit down next to her.

"I bet you did. That last call was pretty intense."

Gail smiled briefly at her, using just the corners of her mouth. Her face frowning slightly as she looked back toward the fire. "I feel like I gave him what he wanted. That makes me a little sick."

"Hopefully it'll help the police track him down."

"Yeah."

"Are you all right Gail?"

Gail stared at her for a moment then nodded. "I'm tired."

Scully patted the empty space on the couch between them, "Wanna lie down?

Gail sat still for a second, then picked up a small pillow and put it in the spot Scully had patted. She stretched out on her side with the pillow under her head. With her eyes closed and the fire, and Scully's presence to warm her she actually started to feel safe.

Gail seemed to have fallen asleep after only a handful of minutes. Scully sat with her hands clinched in her lap. She was fighting the urge to stroke Gail's hair.

Thoughts of the intense daydream she'd had a couple days ago came back to her. The images mingled with Gail's words to Pelt in the last phone call...

She shifted slightly, letting her outer thigh rest against Gail's hand. 'I wonder if she's figured it out yet.' Scully thought.

Her cell phone rang, jarring her out of her thoughts and Gail out of her sleep.

Detective Johns was shouting over the noise of a siren. "He's not here Agent Scully. We found no trace."

"Then he was lying." She said. Gail was turning over on her back. She looked up at Scully on the phone groggily.

"Must have been. We had six dogs and thirty officers combing that place. He's not there. I'm going to walk through once more myself, but it looks like he was playing with you."

"Thanks Detective."

"Yep. Let me know if you hear from him again."

"I will."

Scully hung up and settled back against the couch. She looked down at Gail shaking her head, "He wasn't there."

Gail sighed and closed her eyes, rolling to lay flat on her back. "I can't believe this." She whispered softly. "...can't believe it."

Scully brought her hand off her lap and very tentatively stroked Gail's cheek. It was warm from the fire, soft. She ran the backs of her fingers from Gail's temple down to her chin, stroking slowly. Her fingers grazed the edge of Gail's lips and they opened slightly with the contact. She watched Gail's chest move up and down, she seemed to be breathing heavier. Scully's heart raced in her chest as she let her fingers again descend from Gail's temple to her chin. Her mind clouded as she watched her knuckles graze the parted lips once more. She wanted to leave them there, at the parted lips. She wanted to see those lips close over her fingers.

Suddenly coming back to reality, and the professional awareness she knew she should be concentrating on, she pulled her hand away and swallowed hard. 'Enough·' In her mind she chastised herself for not stopping her touch sooner·

·and then for stopping it at all.

Gail's hand came up and reached for her. Scully sat mesmerized for a moment as Gail rested her palm on a spot just above her knee. Then Gail sat up slightly, discarding the pillow, and lay her head onto the spot her hand had just occupied.

'Closer· she's closer·' Scully found her eyes locked with Gail's. Her heart pounded furiously in her chest. She knew her breathing was heavy· knew Gail had to be able to see her chest rise and fall. She tried to slow her heart but found that she'd started to tremble slightly as well. 'Why am I so afraid of this if I want it so badly?' Gail's hand came up to her face, her index finger running down Scully's cheek. She hadn't realized her lips were parted until she felt the soft touch run across her bottom lip. Her eyes shut tightly.

She felt blood roll· thick through her body then collect between her legs. The realization dawned, hazy at first, because it was new· so new· to feel quite this way· 'This is not fear·' Gail's hand trailed down her neck, her fingertips grazing the hollow of her throat. 'Desire·' Scully licked her lips· 'this is desire.'

She was in pain. Pain that she couldn't categorize or describe. It was foremost in her mind· an ache·

She nearly put voice to it· her mouth moved, her eyes shut tightly· 'I need you·' She was biting her bottom lip to keep from saying the words out loud. 'I need you to kiss me· Gail·' she felt as though she could cry. She wanted to look into Gail's eyes and tell her. The ache built· grew stronger and she bit her lip harder yet.

She felt Gail's warm breath against her abdomen and her hand wrapping around her waist. She looked down at her·

"I·" she was breathless. The request died on her lips. She took another breath. Gail watched her wordlessly, staring up at her. Scully tried again to get the words out, "I need·" Gail sat up slowly, turning toward her. Her knees were tucked up under her and she leaned into Scully, laying her hand on Scully's opposite cheek and pulling her toward her.

She lay her lips on Scully's ear. "What do you need Scully?"

The contact made even harder for her to speak. She pulled her head back and shook her head·

Manicured fingernails came up to Gail's lips. Scully held her fingers there for a moment, trembling·

Gail's heart quite literally stopped in her chest.

From across the room the phone rang. Gail's face grimaced and Scully closed her eyes.

Scully stood from the couch on shaky legs and walked to the kitchen. Gail followed her in and they stood together at the small table. The caller ID did not say 'out of area'. It said, 'Georgetown Cellu·'.

Gail picked up, "Hello?"

"Dr. Aris?"

"Yes?"

"This is Detective Johns. Your not gonna believe this·" Gail motioned for Scully to pick up the headphones.

"What's that?"

"I took one more spin through the stamping plant myself· just covering my ass ya know? I'm on the second floor just walking through· hey is Scully on?"

"She's got the headphones."

"Good. I don't want to have to repeat this· anyway, I find this shit on the floor, like wet naps or something. Whatever they were they were fresh, know what I mean?"

Gail smiled slightly at Scully.

"So I walk quietly out and round up all the guys left from the first sweep. We go back in there, back to that spot and I send an officer up the back of that floor with a ladder. He gets into position with a flashlight and we ambush the guy."

Gail was confused. "So he was in there?"

"FUCK YES! Bastard was hiding on top of a ceiling joist! He had a rope up there with him, cell phone, lap top the whole bit! We got him Dr. Aris. It's over."

Gail's eyes closed and she reached for Scully's hand. "I can't believe it."

"Believe it Dr. Aris and meet me at the station along with Agent Scully in about a half hour. You need to ID this bastard and file some paperwork. The coffee's on me ladies."

"Thank you." Gail whispered through her tears.

-end-


Shrink - Chapter 20

"That's him."

Scully looked at Bob Pelt through the one way mirror as Gail identified him. She let out a sigh of relief and ushered her from the small room. They spent the next three hours documenting each phone call and going over every detail to file the paperwork necessary to press charges.


Later at the hospital Gail was allowed to sit in Marlene's room for a short time. Scully watched for several minutes through the glass as Gail talked to Marlene softly. She held Marlene's hand with reverence as she spoke to her. Scully felt her eyes tear as Gail stood and kissed Marlene softly on the forehead. She watched Gail walk out of Marlene's room and heard the door open softly behind her a second later. Gail walked up to the glass and looked at Marlene.

"I'm going to stay here. They'll be waking her in the next couple of hours."

Scully turned to smile at her. "The prognosis is good."

Gail nodded. "I can't wait to talk to her Scully. I can't wait to hear her voice again."

"What will you do about your clients?"

"I've got my planner with me. I'm going to cancel appointments this week, all of them. I'd like to be available for Marlene when she wakes up." Gail reached down slowly and held Scully's hand, "You don't have to stay. You must be exhausted."

Scully nodded slightly. "It's not that, it's that I'll be expected in my office tomorrow."

"I can call you... to let you know how Marlene is doing."

"That'd be good."

An awkward silence fell over them. They ended up speaking at the same time; "I..."

Gail squeezed Scully's hand, "Go ahead."

"I'm not sure what to say." She looked into Gail's eyes. "How do you feel?"

"How do I feel?"

Scully looked at the floor then back to Gail's eyes, "About all that's happened? Are you all right?"

"I'm relieved that it's over."

Scully smiled then asked, shakily, "And..." she swallowed, "...how do you feel... about me?"

A slow smile spread across Gail's face. She reached for Scully's other hand and took a step closer to her. "What business is it of yours?"

Scully heard a roaring in her ears... she concentrated on keeping her knees locked in an effort not to sway.

There was a tap on the door and they released hands instinctively, each taking a step back from the other.

"Dr. Aris, we'd like to update you on Marlene's condition and the process we'll be going through to wake her." The man looked to Scully. "I'm sorry, did I interrupt something?"

Gail looked to Scully quickly, her eyes questioning.

Scully patted her shoulder, "Call me when she wakes up okay?"

Gail smiled, "I will."

"See you later." Scully skittered past Gail and the other doctor.


Scully had been at work for two hours. She couldn't seem to concentrate. 'Lack of sleep.' She thought to herself. She'd only had a couple hours.

"Scully, just go home." She was startled to look up and find Mulder staring at her over his glasses. "Seriously... get out of here and get some sleep. It's wearing me out just looking at you."

"I'm fine."

"Yeah. You're fine." He mumbled sarcastically, but to no one in particular.

She sat staring at him for a moment then started the shut down process on her lap top. "You're right Mulder, what am I doing?"

He was shocked. "You're actually leaving?"

"Yeah, I'm really tired, you're right."

He sat back in his chair, a smile on his face. "I am?"

She smiled back, "For once, yeah. See you tomorrow." She picked up her bag and left.


The ringing of the phone woke Scully up and she answered, "Scully."

"I woke you didn't I?" Scully perked up at the sound of Gail's voice.

"No... yes... I'm glad you called." She sat up.

"Marlene is awake and she's doing well. There was some hearing loss but it's minimal."

Scully shut her eyes, "That's great."

"She'd like to say 'hi', hold on."

Scully was slightly confused until she realized that Gail must be calling from Marlene's bedside.

"Dr. Scully?" The voice was weak and scratchy from lack of use.

"Marlene. How are you?"

"I'm good. You did it huh?"

"Did what?"

"Kept Dr. Aris out of trouble."

Scully laughed lightly, "She helped a little."

"Thank you Dr. Scully."

"You are very welcome Marlene. Now get some sleep and get out of there."

"That's the plan. Talk to you soon."

A second later Gail was back on the line. "I think she's already fallen asleep."

"Any idea when she gets out?"

"Could be as soon as Friday."

"Have you slept any Gail?"

"Not yet. I'm heading home now to do just that."

"Good." Scully scooted back down into the bed.

"I'll call you later, ok?"

"Yeah."


Gail woke at five o'clock and called the hospital to talk to Marlene. She was heavily sedated and was sleeping now, for the most part. Gail knew it wore her out to talk for long periods so she just checked in briefly and promised to visit in the morning.

She got some kibble out for Sailboat and poured it into his water bowl. She then swore and dumped it out, refilled the dry side and set it on the floor. She then walked to the bathroom to shower. A few minutes later she was in her kitchen, wrapped in a robe. She was completely confused. 'Why did I come in here?' she thought. 'I'm facing the coffee machine. Was I going to make coffee?'

She heard a ringing and walked to the phone. There was only dial tone when she picked it up and confusion furrowed her brow. Then she realized that it was the doorbell she was hearing. It was used so seldom that the noise wasn't familiar to her at all. She walked to the door as it rang again.

Scully stood in the entry between the elevator and the warehouse door. "Hi."

Gail smiled broadly, "Well hello."

"Busy?"

"Nope· I don't think so·" She laughed and her brow furrowed some. "I don't know." She shook her head. "Scully, now that I know Marlene is really okay and Pelt is gone·" she sighed and looked into Scully's eyes, "I can't think about anything other than this here." She touched the tip of her finger to the mole over Scully's top lip. "I think I was going to make coffee just now but there's no way to be certain." She threw her hands up. "And although I'm wrapped in a robe I don't really recall showering. But my hair's wet so I think·"

Scully took three steps forward and kissed her softly on the mouth.

-end-


Shrink - Chapter 21

Scully pulled back to look into Gail's eyes. She'd promised herself she'd have the courage to do this, it was all she'd been able to think about and she needed to know how this mouth· the one that had distracted her from the beginning, although she didn't immediately recognize why. She needed to know how it felt under hers.

The ache, as it turns out, doesn't go away once it starts. It only gets worse. And as Scully lay in her bed this day it seemed to pull her relentlessly out of sleep. It sounded sophomoric at best, but she felt that her arms =hurt=, actually hurt without Gail in them. Her throat seemed to seize. She was beyond distraction knowing that Gail was home, alone. A weird analogy, probably, but Scully felt she finally had an understanding of addiction. The indescribable pull she felt in her chest all day must be what a junkie feels, although she doubted that anything Gail could offer would damage her. To the contrary, she felt she was being slowly knitted back together. Like pieces were falling into place of their own volition.

'And if I love you, what business is that of yours?'

She looked into the eyes of this woman; this woman who's every nuance she'd observed and filed away in her mind.

She felt Gail's fingers curve around her neck as she pulled her to her.

Her hands had fascinated Scully, and her handwriting was a source of amazement to her· she'd studied the codes that Gail had written on a small piece of paper· she'd fallen in love with the graceful curves of her printing·

The mouth that played at her ear lobe now· the memory of the peaks of Gail's upper lip burned at Scully's mind as she thought of the first time she'd heard her speak. Back when she was her doctor· before any thought of loving this person had even crossed her mind.

And Gail's voice in her ear· like rich suede wrapping itself around her· that incredible voice· and the words· "love you"· and then· "so in love with you·"

And Scully answered her· the words choked on tears· eyes closed with emotion that threatened to weaken her knees and drop her to the floor· "you can feel this too? I thought I was·" she breathed against Gail's neck, "love you·"

"You're shaking·"

"I can't stop." Scully whispered.

Gail stepped back keeping Scully's hand in hers and pulled her toward the bed.

-end-


-------------------------------------------
Last night as I lay sleeping Dr. Aris came to me in a dream. She wrapped her hands unceremoniously around my neck and said... "Tomorrow you write." I have concerns regarding my personal safety, (she seems taller in person).
Hence, chapter 22:
-------------------------------------------

Shrink - Chapter 22

They lay facing each other on the bed.

Gail whispered to her, "I was afraid to let myself even imagine how you would feel."

Scully felt tears build in her eyes.

"The moment you walked into my office· I was a mess. God I wanted you." Gail stared at Scully's mouth as she whispered to her. Knowing that she could lean into her and capture that mouth with her own was almost too much for her to bare.

"I had a dream about you after one of our first sessions." Scully whispered back. "A daydream·"

Gail looked startled, "You did?"

Scully ran her hand through the hair at the side of Gail's temple and moved closer to her. "I did. I was in bed·" Scully felt her face flush, "I was·" she smiled slightly, "relieving some stress."

Gail's brow came up slowly and her hand found Scully's waist. She pulled her shirt from the waist band of her jeans and ran her long fingers around Scully's waist to her back, pulling her hips closer. Scully lifted her leg in response, settling it over Gail's hip and found she was straddling Gail's hip bone. An intense pulse of arousal raced through her as she fought the urge to rock her hips.

"It started out as someone else· a stranger· and then it was you·" Gail's hand settled on Scully's lower back and she gently pulled her toward her then relaxed her hand. The result was incredible. Scully came up against Gail's hard hip bone then slid back a little onto her softer thigh muscle. She sucked in a quick breath and looked into Gail's eyes as small tremors made their way through her abdomen. The pressure on her perineum made her feel as though she could come by simply squeezing her legs together.

Gail rubbed her mouth gently across Scully's lips. "It was your mouth Gail· your mouth on me· and when I came·" Scully's mind hazed and she leaned into Gail's mouth. A silky tongue barely touched the outside of her mouth and she opened it willingly. Thick strokes of Gail's tongue across her own set her mind reeling. The feel of the full length of that tongue against her had every nerve ending on fire as she pulled Gail's head toward her.

Gail's hand moved down to her hip and she pulled Scully toward her again. This time Scully could feel her own thick wetness as her clit was forced against the rounded hipbone. She moaned deeply as Gail released her and tilted her hips to get the full effect of Gail's thigh against her.

"Do you like that?" Gail's whisper took a second to register.

She said breathlessly· "Yes."

"I want to feel you without barriers Scully. Will you let me undress you?"

That voice· oh god· "Yes."

Scully watched with heavy-lidden eyes as Gail undressed her. First shoes· then jeans and underwear in one easy movement· she sat up to allow her shirt to be taken off, then her bra was unhooked and finally she lay naked on the comforter.

"Look at you· you are so beautiful·" Gail whispered almost inaudibly as Scully reached to her robe and untied the sash. Gail pulled it off and threw it to the floor.

Scully drank in the sight of the other woman's body as she felt her settle between her legs. Her hipbone settled against her again· the warm skin· the feeling of Gail's own soft hair rubbing against her thigh·

Scully moaned softly and was aware of Gail doing the same. They lay wrapped around each other as their mouths melded together again. Gail's hand came again to her lower back, the slid even lower, until Scully could feel her fingers brush gently into wetness. She rocked Scully's hip toward her.

Scully let out a whimper· "oh· oh· god·" She felt herself spread against Gail's leg· fanning out to expose her entirely ·thinking that she was impossibly hard as the hipbone came in contact with her clit and the friction made her legs numb. Her hands grabbed at what ever they came in contact with first. It was Gail's breast· Scully found herself mesmerized by the feel of it in her palm. The curved softness seemed to fit perfectly in her hand. She brushed the nipple with the tips of her fingers and Gail moaned deeply, throwing her head back. The intensely erotic picture of Gail's open mouth and the sound of her moan made Scully's breath hitch in her throat.

Gail's mouth came back to hers in a furry and she felt a long finger plunge into her as Gail's strong arm pushed her clit hard against her hipbone. Scully fell victim immediately to the sensation of Gail's mouth, hip and finger· she rode out her orgasm slowly· rolling her hips forward onto the hardness and backward· forcing Gail's finger into her deeply with every thrust. She knew she was moaning words but had no idea what she was saying·

'ohhhh god Gail· ohhhhh·'

Gail kissed her forehead and held her finger inside her as she came down slowly. The contractions around her finger made her want to drive them inside Scully but she fought the urge, letting her ride it out as the tremors slowed and finally stopped. She removed her finger gently and rubbed Scully's back in soft lazy circles, kissing her eyelids and stroking her cheek with her own.

When her eyes finally opened they took a moment to focus. Gail moved her head back to a spot where Scully would have a better chance of seeing her and smiled softly. "You ok?"

Scully smiled at her and cuddled up closer to her on the bed, placing her head under Gail's chin and rested her hand on the on Gail's hip. "I am so in love with you."

-end-