How Did She Know?

by Mary Kleinsmith (

Spoilers: Dreamland II, Pine Bluff Variant

Summary: How did Scully know that Morris Fletcher wasn't really Mulder?

Archive: Yes

Disclaimer: Mulder, Scully, and everything related to them belong to Chris Carter and 10-13, with magic added by David and Gillian. I'm only borrowing them.

Dana Scully grinned wickedly as she offered the handcuffs to the man who claimed he was her partner. She suspected he wasn't, though, and this would be the ultimate test. There was no fear in her mind that the man, regardless of who he was, would mistake the smile of trickery for a smile of lust. After all, it was pretty blatantly on his mind.

In a fraction of a second, her mind flashed back to a dark night in Mulder's apartment, almost a year ago, now. Of Mulder breathing heavily and wimpering in pain as she set the break in the pinky finger of his left hand. And of the secrets he'd shared with her - almost seemed to need to share - as she treated his injury.

"Mulder, stop fidgeting. I'm not going to be able to get this splint on straight if you don't. How'd you like to have your finger healed permanently crooked?" She looked at him, trying to immitate the expression her mother had used on them when they were growing up. It didn't seem to help. "If you don't hold still, I'm going to tie you down, I swear."

A brief flash of terror crossed Mulder's face in the semi-darkness before it settled back to its typical, sardonic grin. She expected the grin to be followed by Mulder's fun-loving, "Scully, you know what I like," but the words never came. He did sit still, though, and she put the finishing touches on his hand.

Her fingers brushed his wrists, a gesture of comfort for just a moment, of trying to communicate wordlessly that she understood what he'd done in the line of duty and didn't hold it against him. But rather than being comforted, he yanked both his hands away with a yelp. He breathed heavily and rested his forehead against her shoulder for a few moments, the cumulative effects of all tonight's hurts catching up with him.

"Mulder, what is it?" she asked, concerned over this uncommon response from her partner.

"Nothing, I'm okay," Mulder lied. "Just don't touch me there, okay?"

"Mulder, you're a terrible liar," Dana smiled as she turned the reading lamp to its lowest settings. It might not be advantageous for others to know he was in his apartment, but she couldn't judge his condition well enough in the dark.

She took his hands this time, and he didn't flinch. The marks on his wrists were red and ugly in the dim light. "Where the hell did you get these?" she asked, turning his hand to get a view of each side, where the burns circled all the way around his arm.

He remained silent, but the pain was still in his eyes. "C'mon, Mulder, you're scaring me. Tell me what happened."

There was no denying Dana Scully's voice of command. "They strapped me down while they were 'questioning' me," he whispered. "There was aparently some doubt to my authenticity as a member of their group."

"I suppose it's logical that they would strap you down firmly, but these have more the characteristics of rope burns. That would indicate that they were slightly loose."

"They weren't all that tight," Mulder confessed, looking down so she couldn't see into those oh-so-expressive eyes. "Tight enough that I couldn't get loose, though."

"Then how . . . ?"

"I got the burns because I fought them," he finally admitted. "I fought the restraints and I fought the men who put them there." He looked almost ashamed at that fact.

She interpreted the look, and tried to make him feel better. "Of course you fought the straps. They were hurting you! Trying, and succeeding apparently, to break your fingers. If they hadn't tried to do that . . ."

". . . I'd still have the burns," Mulder admitted quietly. He paused with a sight, and then said, "I haven't ever told you this about myself, Scully, but I hate to be restrained. Hate it. Can't stand it. I would have blindly fought anything holding me in place, even if it was for my own good and you put it there."

Scully's mind went instantly to their second case together. "I can't blame you for that," she said softly, moving from her seat on the coffee table to sit beside him on the couch. "I remember what you went through at Ellens. The only thing you've remembered about that experience is being held against your will, strapped to a gurney. That's enough to incite a phobia in any sane human being."

"No, Scully. It didn't start there. As a matter of fact, I think that's probably why that is the only part of my memory that they weren't able to erase."

"Then what?" she asked again, moving closer in support of him. He was bearing his soul . . . sharing a part of him that he would never share with another living soul. She felt a moment of gratefulness that she was the one he felt he could talk to. This was a very special man.

"Remember how I told you that, when Sam was abducted, I was frozen? I couldn't move a single muscle. I was terrified."

"Yes, I remember. That was our first case together," she smiled warmly.

"Yeah," he responded with a slight grin of his own. "Well, what I didn't tell you was that I wasn't just frozen while she was being abducted. I was catatonic. And I stayed catatonic once the abduction was over."

"Oh, Mulder . . ."

He went on with his narrative, seemingly afraid that if he stopped to respond to her presence, he would have a hard time starting again. "When my parents got home from the neighbors', they only knew that Sam was gone and I had apparently shut down. They took me to the hospital, had a whole battery of tests done, but nothing showed any reason for it. They moved me to the psychiatric floor the next day. Did you know that restraints are standard for unresponsive patients? Or, at least they were in that hospital at that time." His hazel eyes finally met her own, and both sets were moist. "When I finally came to, all I knew was that I was twelve years old, all alone, and tied down. I was terrified. I became hysterical. Which gave them all the more reason to leave me in the restraints. I've never been able to stand being restrained since then."

"So you fight. It's still a natural instinct when you're being threatened. This doesn't necessarily bode back to your childhood," Scully said, trying to make him feel better, even if it may not be true.

"Yeah, but it happens when I'm not being threatened, too. I remember in college . . . when I was with Phoebe . . .," he hesitated, knowing he was bringing up a sore subject for both himself and his partner. He knew why he disliked Phoebe and her trickery so much now, and he really didn't want to think too much about why Scully seemed to hate her.

"Did she hurt you physically?" Scully asked. It was the question of a concerned friend, not prying into his past, he knew.

"Not physically, no. But there was a brief period of . . . let's say she liked to experiment. And I was just head-over-heels in love enough to go along with it. Up until she led me to her bedroom one night to find the handcuffs hooked to the headboard. I tried to go along with it - tried it for her, because I loved her that much - but it was a no go. She actually had me in the cuffs before I started to fight. I nearly tore apart the headboard before she finally let me loose just to preserve her furniture. Actually, I think that's when she first started losing interest in me. So maybe it was for the best," he smiled slightly.

"I knew there had to be a positive aspect to this," Scully said, smiling at him warmly as she wrapped him in her arms. They sat on the couch, quiet and peaceful, for an undetermined amount of time before he finally stirred from the embrace and stated that he had to go meet Skinner. . . . .

No, if this Mulder went along with the handcuff suggestion, it was most definitely not her Fox Mulder.

The lookalike took the silver handcuffs with a leer. "Me first?"

"You first," Scully agreed cooly. Now she had him.

"First time . . ." he said as he clasped the cuffs around his wrist and then the bedside table. "Now what?"

"You're not Mulder!" she said as she held her gun on him.

"What?! Baby!"

"Baby me and you'll be peeing through a catheter!"

Okay, I admit it's a strange place to end the story. But it seemed right to me.

Feedback always appreciated