This Mortal Coil – Chapter 5

Feedback: XSandPiper78[at]aol.com

This Mortal Coil – Chapter 5
by Piper Sargasso

Rating: NC-17

(Disclaimers, etc. in chapter one.)

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
Chapter Five
*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Scully regained consciousness sometime before noon
the next day.

I wasn’t there to witness this firsthand, of course. I was
able to keep track of her condition through a steady
mind connection with an unknowing Skinner.

I rose from my new room in Claudius’ home and pulled
the heavy draperies back. Night had just fallen, the sky
tinged with streaks of purple and orange. How different
this room was from the one where I was held prisoner
before. Whereas Julian’s cell for me had been an
intricate gathering of antique rugs and lavish
furnishings, Claudius’s offering was an eclectic mix of
both modern styles and traditional. Tasteful. The floor
was carpeted and fine art prints decorated the walls. It
was cozy rather than overbearing. The only thing even
remotely ostentatious about it was the heavily canopied,
antique king-size bed.

Scully would like it here. More importantly, she would
be safe here. It was crazy, but I put my complete trust in
Claudius. I knew he would take care of things, a security
I never felt with Julian. That trust was the deciding
factor as to where Scully should go once she recovered.

Not that the decision was an easy one. I was torn
between sending her back to D.C. and keeping her here
by my side. In the end, I realized she would be safest
with Claudius and me. It seemed to be the only way.

~*~

Eight o’ clock found me standing before the hospital,
contemplating my course of action. It would do me little
good to be seen walking up like anyone else could,
given the current circumstances. Even if that were an
option, I still wouldn’t get away with lifting Scully off
the bed and simply walking out.

No, this operation was going to require more stealth than
that. My only option was to climb the wall of the
building and enter through the window. Luckily, the
private room Scully was transferred to had a normal
window that opened. This was a welcome relief from the
impossible-to-pass-through slit of a window in her ICU
room; I may be a vampire, but I am in no way possessed
of Toomsian abilities.

With a litheness I still hadn’t gotten accustomed to, I
made my way up the brick wall, finding finger holds
useless to mortals. My ascension was steady and sure.
Once I reached Scully’s window, I peeked inside to
make sure no one else occupied the room. The last thing
I needed was to send some poor nurse into hysterics.
Satisfied that the coast was clear, I opened the middle
panel and climbed inside.

She looked better, though that wasn’t exactly saying
much. Her collection of machines had diminished to less
imposing monitors keeping tabs on her vitals. She was
still attached to an IV, but the bag feeding into the tube
held some clear solution rather than blood. I took this as
a good sign. Still, it was hard to ignore the dark circles
under her eyes and her sallow skin. It could’ve been my
imagination, but it seemed she’d gotten even smaller. A
pang stabbed at my heart, but I forced myself into
action. Who knew when Julian or one of his lackeys
would find their way here? The sooner I got her out the
better.

I pulled the IV out of her wrist as carefully as possible,
but paused before unhooking her from the monitors. I
knew from firsthand experience that once those
implements were disengaged, no fewer than three
members of the hospital staff would be rushing in to see
what was wrong with their patient. There would be little
time to get out without being seen.

“Mulder?” her voice croaked out.

I looked down at her, trying to smile despite the
seriousness of the situation. “It’s okay. We have to go
now.”

She nodded weakly and licked her parched lips. Jesus,
her eyes were so dark and sunken. She didn’t look much
like my Scully at all. Fighting back the bitter guilt
coiling in the pit of my stomach, I smiled again. It felt
feeble even to me.

“I’m just going to unhook you, okay?”

She nodded again and left me to my task. I made quick
work of freeing her, dismayed by the sudden sound of an
alarm going off in short bursts even though I expected
just that. Leaning down, I swept her up into my arms
and tucked the blanket around her. In no time, the place
would be swarming with nurses. We had to move fast.

“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” a man
shouted.

I turned around. Skinner.

“There’s no time for this,” I hissed with more venom
than was probably necessary. I could hear the
approaching footsteps barreling closer and closer by the
second.

But Skinner wouldn’t be dismissed. Gun pointed
squarely at my head, he bit out a reply. “Put Agent
Scully down now, Agent Mulder. That is not a request.”

I looked over my former superior’s shoulder, calculating
how much time it would take me to bolt over to the door
and barricade it somehow. The handle itself bore no
locks and the chairs in the room would just glide over
the polished tile floor. As it was, the door was standing
half-open, as if in invitation. Desperation sent a cold
shockwave to my brain, bringing my split attention back
to the gun.

Scully snuggled against my chest and shivered in spite
of the blanket tucked around her. Did he think he was a
good enough shot to miss her altogether? No doubt he
would be, under normal conditions. However, he had no
idea how fast I’d become. I could pivot to head for the
window at the exact time he squeezed off a shot. All it
would take was a slight miscalculation on either of our
parts and the results could be tragic. I wasn’t willing to
take the chance.

All I knew was that I needed to block the door off at any
cost. Skinner inched closer, blinking as he loosened and
tightened his grip on the gun. Everything about his
stance was keyed-up, uncertain. He glanced down at
Scully and a flicker of obvious fear tightened his
features. She turned bleary eyes on him, too weak to
offer any reassurances.

“I can’t let you do this, Mulder.”

A flash of blue outside the door — the standard hospital
uniform. The desperate desire to shut them out
intensified, a physical swelling in the pit of my stomach,
and a physical *push* emanated from my gut. The door
slammed shut, eliciting a masculine yelp of pain from
the other side. Frantic voices babbled through the thick
barrier and the handle rattled and clicked. They were
trying to get in but couldn’t. *They couldn’t get in.* The
thought was irrelevant, but held me in shocked
satisfaction. They couldn’t get in because I willed it so.

Whereas I reveled in my newfound talent (and
confirmed my earlier suspicions regarding Scully’s
window in the Convenire), Skinner just looked terrified.
All the color had drained from his face along with his
desire to point his gun at me. It was held limply at his
side, forgotten.

“Wh- what the hell *was* that?”

I grinned. I couldn’t help myself. “A lucky side effect.”

His eyes narrowed. “Side effect? Side effect to what,
Mulder? It felt like someone was shoving right though
me.” The voices outside receded. A loud *bump*
announcing some orderly’s determination to get inside
shook me from my temporary good humor.

“I have to get her out of here,” I said.

His armed hand rose, returning us to our former
standoff. “You’re not taking her anywhere until I get
some answers.”

*”There’s no time,”* I growled. Skinner flinched and
looked at me like he’d never set eyes on me before. I
could only imagine what he was seeing in me at that
moment. No doubt I was unrecognizable to him. Not
like the Agent Mulder he knew; more like a caged and
dangerous animal. Inhuman. Unearthly.

He lowered his gun. *My God. What has he become?*

I jumped at the sound of his voice in my head. His
*thoughts* in my head, to be more specific. It took me by
surprise; I wasn’t searching his mind, nor was I
interested in divining his thoughts at the moment. Using
this to my advantage, I answered his unspoken question.
“Some might say a monster.” I laughed bitterly at that.
“They wouldn’t be too far from the truth.”

The blood drained from his face again. I tried not to
focus on the primal rush of hunger that surged through
my veins at the sight. Instead, I pushed into his mind in
search of something useful, something I could say to
convince him to let us go in peace. I was unprepared for
the torrent of suppressed emotion that pummeled my
senses.

He was frightened of me. Pride and survival instinct
forbade him to show it, though. The past weeks had
taken an enormous toll on him. He was scared and
worried for me during the days I was missing. He was
still scared and worried for me. He wondered what I had
gotten myself into.

But if he was scared for me and for my fate, he was
nearly petrified with fear for Scully’s. When she’d gone
missing, it took more than barking commands to soothe
his nerves. It had taken a bottle of Stoli a night just to
get to sleep. He was unraveling. It wasn’t unlike
grieving; the fear of losing her was so strong.

Startled, I pulled back. I had no desire to delve any
deeper into the man’s feelings towards Scully.

Skinner found his voice. “Just tell me what’s going on,
Mulder.”

“I’ve already said it twice — there isn’t time. I’ve wasted
too much of it here as it is.”

“Look,” he continued, “I want to trust you here, but
you’re not making it any easier. And I won’t even
comment on the Jedi mind trick you just pulled on that
door.” He shook his head. “I think you owe me
something though, Mulder. I can’t let you just walk out
of here without *some* idea what’s going on.”

I sighed in irritation. “Okay, listen. I expect the
*person*–” I spat the word. No way was I getting into a
discussion about Liliana’s lack of humanity here. “– Who
did this to her to come back and finish the job.” My eyes
narrowed. “You saw the injuries on her neck. The lack
of blood.”

He nodded.

“Then you must have some idea what we’re dealing with
here.”

He nodded again, swallowing like he was pushing bile
back down his throat. “Are you –?”

“Yes.”

“My God.”

Four or five years ago, I never would’ve dreamt of such
ready acceptance from my boss. Time and proof had
changed his perception of reality, it seemed. I found no
joy in the prospect.

“I’m taking her to a place that’s safe. That’s all I can
say.” I pulled Scully closer to me and narrowed my eyes.
“There’s no need for the gun, Skinner. I can assure you it
will do you no good.”

His eyes flickered to the molded steel in his hand, then
back to my face. I didn’t have to read his mind to know
he couldn’t imagine a situation where his weapon and a
steady hand couldn’t help him. Something like vague
panic flickered in his eyes. He holstered his gun.

“Where are we going to meet to discuss this, Agent?” he
demanded gruffly.

The pounding outside was now spaced further apart, but
the shouting was louder than before. Still, I managed a
grim smile at his audacious attempt to get on top of a
situation he had no inkling how to deal with. Of course,
he was entitled to an explanation, but not any time soon.
When the danger had passed, then he would know. *If* the
danger ever passed.

“Not tonight,” I answered, then turned swiftly to slip out
the window with Scully held to me like a cherished, life-
sized doll. We hit the ground in a landing so smooth it
even impressed me, leaving Skinner to explain his
charge’s sudden disappearance to the medical staff.

And to wonder how we managed to escape through the
window of a fourth floor hospital room without him
seeing anything more than a blur.

~*~

There was never a more welcome sight than the lighted
circular drive and fa├žade of Claudius’s home. Our host
met me at the door and ushered us into the great hall. I
comforted myself by thinking, again, that there was
nowhere safer or more inviting than where we were at
that moment.

Claudius regarded the woman in my arms, asleep and
drained from the journey. “I’ve had her rooms prepared.
Follow me.”

It was decided earlier that evening that Scully and I
should sleep in separate rooms until she was operating
with her full mental capacity and used to our unique
situation. It would be tragic for her to wake one
morning, disoriented from her sickness, throw the
drapes back like anyone else would do and fry my
fledgling ass to a crisp. Although I did appreciate the
irony.

We climbed the curved grand staircase, and turned right.
I followed him down the corridor until he stopped before
a carved door.

“I trust you’ll want to settle in privately. I’ve taken the
liberty of procuring some basic toiletries for her. There
is some clothing in the armoire, dressing gowns and
such. You should find them appropriate until she makes
a full recovery.” He smiled reassuringly. It struck me
once more that Claudius’s smiles couldn’t be more
different from Julian’s cocky, half-leers.

“Thank you, Claudius. For everything.”

He replied with a slight nod, and then he was gone.

I opened the door. A small smile tugged at my lips as I
surveyed our surroundings, sure that Scully would love
it. In the middle of the sitting room was a large, cherry
wood table with an equally large floral arrangement
situated on the glossy top. It was flanked by beige and
cream striped silk chairs and chaise lounges. The walls
were papered with a subtle textured print and decorated
with Ruebenesque paintings. A fire blazed in the small,
cherry wood fireplace beyond the centerpiece table. I
smiled wider upon noticing a large, gilded mirror above
the mantle, tilted to look down on the room — a
testament to Claudius’s humor concerning one of the
oldest vampire misconceptions.

I carried her through the open archway to the left, into
her bedroom. It was decorated much the same as the
sitting room, elegant and classy, yet comfortable. A fire
had been lit in the large fireplace and it cast a golden
glow over the room. I made my way over to the four-
poster. One corner of the bed’s covers was pulled back,
making it easier for me to slip Scully underneath. She
murmured something incoherent upon touching the cool
sheets, but settled into the mattress without another
sound.

I looked down at her quiescent form, swearing under my
breath as I noted that her pallid face and hands stood out
even against the cream and gold of the duvet. Little
comfort came from the knowledge that as long as she
was within these walls, she was safe. It struck me with
the force of a paralyzing blow, and not for the first time,
that she would never have been dragged into this
situation if it weren’t for me. At that moment, I despised
my curiosity, despised the part of me that needed
answers so badly it didn’t give a second thought to
whose lives may be destroyed in the process. It was, as
always, all-consuming, destroying anyone in its path.

“Mulder?” Scully rasped out, not even bothering to open
her eyes.

I sat down next to her on the bed, taking a cold hand in
mine. “I’m here.”

She let out a soft sigh. “So weak.”

Anger passed through me. But she didn’t need my anger
right now. I reached out and pushed a stray wisp of hair
away from her face, startled by the coldness of her cheek
despite the warmth of the fire. How long would it be
before she recovered? She was stable, but still fragile. I
was at a terrible loss; this would be the perfect time for
Doctor Scully to make a reassuring appearance. With
another stab of fury mingled with guilt, I recognized she
wouldn’t be around for a while.

She pulled a bit of the duvet back from the other side of
the bed and motioned for me to join her. The slight
action seemed to take the last of her energy, and I didn’t
question it. I pulled my shoes off and climbed in,
satisfied to feel her nuzzle against me. Within minutes,
she was asleep again. I took the opportunity to relax
against her and just enjoy the sensation of her heart
beating against my chest and the warm puffs of breath
against my neck. She was warming. She was *alive*. I
tightened my arms around her to punctuate my utter
happiness for that fact.

It wasn’t long, though, before those very essences of her
life became an overwhelming assault on my senses.
Driven to dangerous distraction, I pulled myself away
from her warm body and, giving her one more glance
and a quiet promise of my return, I left her rooms. I
raced down the stairs and out the front door and in
seconds, I was standing next to one of the hedges
surrounding the circular drive.

One thought burned its way beyond my concern for
Scully and through the hunger: will I survive long
enough to surpass this nightly need for blood?

I had neither the inclination nor the willpower to ponder
this further. Not when the woods looked so inviting…

~ * ~

Tracking my prey was easier and faster than I expected,
which was excellent for me. This time it was a big buck,
full of spirit and vigor. I left feeling gluttonous, and the
deer walked away little more than dazed.

Satisfied that I was no longer a threat to Scully’s safety,
I returned to her rooms. I must have sat there watching
her sleep for an hour at least, witnessing her expressions
pass from relaxed stillness to frowning irritation and
back to stillness again. In the end, she had seemed
troubled and shifted restlessly from her side to her back.

I moved from the chair to the side opposite her on the
bed and grabbed hold of her hand. Her eyes fluttered
open. “What is it?” I asked quietly.

“Your hands are warm,” she noted.

I smiled. “Yeah. I fed a little bit ago.”

She nodded. “I’m cold.”

It was an invitation I was happy to accept. Crawling
under the covers next to her, I gave silent thanks to
whatever deity out there had seen fit to make sure she’d
survive Liliana’s attack. I didn’t want to think about
what could’ve been. Rather than get morose about it, I
contented myself with the feel of Scully’s small body
curled into mine, the tickle of her hair brushing my chin
and the exquisite rightness of it all.

My life may have taken an awful and incredible turn.
Julian, Liliana and the rest of the Convenire may still be
a threat. My whole damn world may be in upheaval. But
Scully was right here, right now, murmuring about
needing just a little more sleep and drawing heat from
my well-fed body. And she was going to be *okay*.

For now, that was enough for me.

Chapter 6