“Then it must feel like hell. Just a fall wouldn’t do this.”
“The details are a little blurry,” she said, cupping his face in her palm. “All I really remember is the fall.”
Dominic closed his eyes and buried his face in her neck, remembering a second too late that he shouldn’t put any weight on her body—but when he tried to move she pulled him back down to her. “It’s okay,” she whispered, stroking his hair and rubbing the back of his head. “It’s okay. I’m okay, Dom.”
“This is what you do,” he muttered through a tight throat. “I know that, I accept it, I know it’s a dangerous line of work–bastard! Who’d do this to a woman? Who’d do this to anyone? Bastard!”
“Shh,” Dana soothed. “Shh.” She wiped his face when he lifted his head and kissed him. “This is not the worst I’ve been hurt on the job.”
“Is that supposed to make me feel better?” he said, and hated himself for it when she dropped her eyes. He kissed her again. “I’m sorry. I’m not angry at you.”
“I’m fine,” she said, still stroking his face. “I am. I’m sore and tired, but I’m fine.”
He rubbed her cheek with the backs of his fingers. “I should probably leave you alone,” he said quietly. “You need to sleep.”
“Will you help me change? It hurts to lift my arms.”
“Sure. Do you have a nightshirt or do you want something of mine?”
“Something of yours, please,” she said in a soft voice, and he kissed her forehead.
“Something clean or something I’ve worn?” he asked, his voice growing husky, and she smiled as she plucked at his t-shirt.
“This would be nice. Since you need to shower anyway.”
“I thought you didn’t want me to shower ever again.” He yanked off his t-shirt.
“I thought about it and you’re right, it would interfere with your social life.” She uprighted herself slowly and paused, fingers digging into the coverlet and her eyes closed. “Dizzy,” she murmured.
“Let me help.” He undressed her as gently as he would a baby: slipping the blouse from her arms and the trousers from her hips, putting aside her shoes, slipping off the tank-top she’d worn in place of a bra. Dana relaxed into his hands as he touched her, and Dominic bent his head to kiss the vulnerable skin of her neck.
He stopped himself again before it could go any farther. “I’m supposed to let you rest.” He pulled the t-shirt he’d been wearing over her head, carefully guiding her arms through the holes.
She settled the shirt and said, “Is that what all that whispering with Agent Doggett was about? Him telling you to leave me alone?”
Dana sighed, started to speak, and stopped herself. She said, “He’s very protective of me.”
“Oh, is that what you call it?” He smiled as he ran his fingers through her hair.
“When we met Mulder had just gone missing, I was pregnant and everything was a mess. Agent Doggett has never quite moved out of the ‘gotta take care of Scully’ mode.”
“Yet you don’t even call him by his first name.”
“Not out loud.” She took his hand and kissed it, then lay down carefully against the pillows. “Do you have anyplace you need to be?”
“Not ’til later. Orli’s doing Leno. I was planning to go watch.” He leaned on his elbow. “Do you want to come?”
Dana shook her head, touching his face. “No, but don’t stay home because of me. I’ll just be sleeping.”
“What an exciting day you have planned for yourself. Do you want your pill now?” He leaned his head into her hand.
“Not for another hour. I don’t want to take them too close together.” Her fingertips drifted down his neck to his chest. “My beautiful boy,” she murmured. “How I’ve missed you.”
He was trembling, Dominic realized: at her nearness, her touch, her mere presence in his bed. He wanted to pull her to him, kiss her until she was trembling too–but the thought of those awful bruises stopped him. “You need to rest,” he said again and got off the bed. He pulled the duvet over her. “If you get cold there are more blankets in the closet.”
“It’s eight-five degrees out. I’m not going to get cold.” She added, “And if I did I’d want you to warm me.”
Dominic looked at her long enough to toss willpower aside–he climbed onto the bed, holding himself over her, and kissed her. Her arms went around his neck and her lips parted, but she whimpered when she tried to arch up towards him.
“Dammit,” she muttered, and Dom leaned his head against hers a moment before lying once more at her side. “I’m sorry, Dominic. I want you so much. I really do.”
“Me too. But not if it’s going to hurt you.” He cupped the back of her head, pressing his forehead against hers.
“Hey. We can do this. I’m just not sure how yet.”
“I never thought I’d see the day when I’d have to be the adult.” He kissed her. “Sleep, love. Get better. And then I’ll break out the love swing and papayas.”
Dana laughed, then pressed her hand on her side, grimacing. “Papayas. You’re nuts.”
“Which you like very much.” He kissed her again and got off the bed. “Now sleep. I’m giving you your pills in an hour and then we’re leaving to do Leno. Are you sure you’ll be okay?”
“I will. Dom?”
“Thank you,” she said quietly, and he smiled at her.
“Sleep,” he said again, and pulled the bedroom door shut. He scrubbed his hands over his face, exhaling a deep sigh.
He could hear Orlando in the shower, and Dana was sleeping, or soon would be. He went to his gym bag and took out his cell phone, and called up the last number it had received. It occurred to him as the phone rang that it might be Dana’s phone now jangling in her suitcase, but then the ringing stopped.
“You said she had a fall but she’s hurt a lot worse than just a fall would do–“
“Who is this?”
“–just tell me what really happened to her, and don’t spare me because you think I can’t handle it because I can.”
“Is this Mr. Monaghan? Is Dana okay?”
“She’s got bruises all over her body. Tell me what happened.”
Doggett exhaled and said tightly, “Hold on a second.” Dominic waited, shifting from foot to foot, and listened to Doggett move to where the background noise was more muted. He said, “How much has Dana told you about what we do?”
“You’re law enforcement. You do–law-enforcement things.”
He exhaled again and said, “We investigate the unexplained. When local police or the field offices get stumped, they call on us. In this case, our suspect seems to have committed three murders in less than thirty seconds.”
Dominic shut his eyes and leaned his head back against the wall. “How is that possible?”
“It’s not. That’s why we’re here. Agent Scully has a theory that he can manipulate time.”
“Is–is *that* possible?”
“I don’t know.”
“So,” Dominic said slowly, “your suspect pushed Dana down the stairs . . .”
“And in the five seconds or so that it took me to reach the bottom of the stairwell he’d done what you saw to Agent Scully.”
Dom pressed his lips together. His throat felt tight. He said, “Agent Doggett–I–“
“She’s okay,” Doggett said, a little more kindly than he’d been speaking. “They wouldn’t have released her if she wasn’t. Just make sure she takes her pills and let her rest.”
“But you’ve got him, right? He’s not going to come after her?”
“He’s in custody, yeah. He’s not going to hurt her again. Look, she’s tough. She’s strong. She’s been through things that would destroy most people. But she’s going to be okay: just give her time.”
“She’s so small,” Dominic whispered.
“How could anyone hurt her?”