Scully pulls up outside of Mulder's apartment building around 1 AM. They’d taken the red eye flight, wanting to sleep at home rather than a motel.
At first, Mulder doesn't seem to register that they've stopped, managing to look both wide awake and dead tired.
"Mulder," Scully says softly, putting a hand on his arm.
Mulder jumps. "Oh. We're here," he observes.
They sit there for a while, Scully's hand on his arm, before Mulder finally leans toward the door and reaches for the handle.
After a second, he releases it and turns back to Scully. "Come up with me?"
Scully gives an understanding nod, unbuckling her seat belt and locking the car after climbing out. She'd been almost hoping he'd ask.
On the way up, Scully walks closer to him than she admits is probably strictly necessary; but she’s able to justify it when he stumbles in the hallway, and she's right there to reach out and steady him.
Once inside his apartment, she guides Mulder to the couch, where he collapses with a groan and flops an arm over his eyes. Scully lets her fingers linger a little too long on his chest before heading to the kitchen.
She bustles around for a while, checking the contents of his fridge (moldy or expired), his cupboards (well-stocked, but not with anything quick), and his freezer (containing exactly one tub of freezer-burned ice cream).
Well, she supposes, being undercover in a terrorist organization and then being institutionalized on the case immediately following probably hadn't put grocery shopping on the top of his priority list.
Sighing, Scully shuts the freezer and grabs a couple of glasses from the cupboard, filling them from the sink. If she can't get them fed, she can at least make sure they're hydrated.
She brings the glasses over to the coffee table, setting them down before dragging the desk chair over beside the couch.
"Mulder." Scully says, hand brushing his shoulder.
He moves his arm, looking up at her pitifully when he sees her bearing water and nothing else.
"I'm sorry, Mulder. Drink," she instructs, handing him the water. "You said that the nurse gave you something in the hospital, but she didn't write down what it was or the dosage. I don't want to give you anything else without knowing if it would interact with that drug."
Mulder pouts, but sits up a little and drinks obediently.
Scully sips from her own glass, watching his Adam's apple rise and fall as he swallows greedily. His mind must’ve finally caught up to his body.
“Thanks,” he croaks once the glass is finished, handing it back to her before falling back against the couch.
They both speak at the same time, cutting themselves off when they realize the other is speaking too.
“You first,” Scully insists, putting her glass down and giving him her full attention.
“Just... thank you. You saved my ass, again,” Mulder fumbles. You’re the only one who’s ever cared enough. Why?
Scully reaches out to run her fingers through his hair, lips quirked. “You’re my favorite damsel in distress.” How could I not?
Mulder leans into her hand, closing his eyes. A faint smile of his own graces his face. He immediately winces, though, having forgotten his split lip. Scully watches as his tongue darts out to lap up the blood welling there.
“Let me get you some ointment for that.” Scully tears her gaze away and stands up, heading to the bathroom where she keeps her spare medical kit.
But by the time she returns, Mulder is already asleep.
Scully’s lips curl into a fond smile. He was understandably exhausted, but seeing him sleep feels like a rare occurrence. She wonders how long it’s been since he had a good night’s sleep.
Quietly, she uncaps the ointment, using the barest of touches to smooth it onto the wound. Then she pulls the blanket off of the back of the couch and tucks him in, pressing a kiss to his forehead before straightening up and moving to put everything away.
Just as she’s about to leave, hand on the handle of the door, she hears a whimper come from the couch and wavers. Then, another whimper from the sofa, but louder this time. That’s all she needs.
Scully removes her shoes, placing them near the door before padding over to his linen closet -- or what passes for one -- and pulling out a pillow. She’s contemplating a second one for Mulder when a cry breaks her out of her thoughts.
She’s by his side in an instant, dropping the pillow on the floor next to her as she kneels by the couch. “It’s okay,” she whispers, bringing her palm down to smooth away the frown on his face. “I’m here, Mulder. You’re safe.”
Almost as soon as she starts talking, Mulder calms down, heaving out a sigh and seemingly settling deeper into sleep. But when she pulls away or stops talking, his frown returns, mouth making unhappy sounds.
Scully’s heart pangs rebelliously, recalling previous visits of his to the hospital and times he’d been hurt. Heart-stopping eternities of clutching any part of him she could reach while it seemed he desperately tried to shove himself off of this mortal coil. Tearful vigils held to the beat of a heart monitor. Nights of reading to him, once he woke up, well past the time he fell asleep because it soothed him (and gave her a reason to stay).
God, but she would do anything for this man.
And with all the danger he’d put himself in lately... well, this way, she could keep a better eye on him.
Feeling suitably justified, Scully shifts Mulder carefully to slip herself under his shoulders, bringing his head to rest in her lap. He barely seems to stir, only letting out a contented sigh as she sets one hand over his heart and runs the other through his hair.
Belatedly, she realizes she left the pillow on the floor and that her neck will definitely not thank her during her meeting with Skinner in the morning if she falls asleep in this position.
But, she decides, as Mulder snuffles in his sleep and turns his face into her stomach, she can live with that.