Title: Tortured, Tangled Hearts
Summary: College and Phoebe raise issues between our favorite couple. Sequel to 'I Turn to You'.
August 31, 1979
"You better leave before I can't let you," Dana told Mulder as she hugged him goodbye outside the gate. The gate led to the plane that would take him to England and Oxford.
"I better go before *I* won't let me."
"Why'd you apply to Oxford again? It's too far away."
He shrugged which caused her head to bob on his shoulder with the motion. "Seemed like a good idea at the time and, in case you've forgotten, you told me to."
She looked up at him and grinned. "Oh yeah." Then her demeanor changed and she grew serious. "Are you sure you want to try the long distance thing? Because if you hurt me my brothers will kill you," she said trying to add some humor back into the conversation. "I know Charlie doesn't look that intimidating but when he's angry... watch out."
"Babe, we'll be okay."
"Okay, but you better call so I don't develop abandonment issues."
"You mean new ones?" She quickly retaliated by punching him in the arm. "Ouch. Okay, okay. I'll call." And then with one last kiss he boarded the plane.
As she watched him leave she couldn't help but mutter to herself, "I have a bad feeling about this."
'What have I gotten myself into?' was all he could think as he looked around the smallest room he had ever seen in his life. 'I'm suppose to live here? For a year?' His thoughts were interrupted however by a loud crash just outside the door. When he opened the door he saw a tall, blonde guy with a stunned look on his face stood in the midst of three boxes, who's content was now all over the floor. He looked up when he heard Mulder come out of the room. "You must be my roommate. Could you give me a hand with all this stuff?"
They worked for about 30 minutes, first throwing all the stuff into the boxes and then throwing them into places in the dorm. Once they were done Jeff, the roommate, told him that he had to go meet his girlfriend. "You can come if you want. Phoebe always loves meeting new people."
"No thanks, I think I'm goin' to make a phone call."
"Okay, well if you change your mind come and find us."
Dana had returned from the airport and had gone straight to her room. She just couldn't shake the feeling that something bad was going to happen and she really didn't want to talk to anybody while that was on her mind. The ride home was awkward because she had hitched a ride with Mulder's mom and while their relationship wasn't nearly as tense as it was a year ago, due to much effort on several people's part, they had never had to hold a conversation without Mulder there.
When she reached her room she immediately collapsed onto her bed and buried her face in a pillow and inhaled deeply. When she turned her head, mainly so she could breathe, her eyes went on their own accord to the pictures on the nightstand. Next to a family portrait taken several years ago was the picture Megan had given her of Mulder. She sighed deeply and picked up the picture. "You're lucky you're worth this." She set the picture back down and went downstairs.
Mulder listened to the ringing until a groggy voice answered. "Hello?"
"Mulder? What time is it?"
"Here or there? It's probably close to 2 AM over there. I wouldn't have called so late," both knew this was a lie, "but you told me to once I got here."
"Mmm, it figures the first time you listened to me would be at 2 in the morning. So are you all unpacked and everything?" Dana tried to pay attention to what he was saying, she really did, but the stress of the day combined with the fact that she hadn't gotten to sleep until an hour ago caused her to keep fading in and out.
"Dana?" Mulder asked after not getting a response to a question he had repeated a couple times.
"Go to sleep."
"'Kay. Love you." She hung up the phone and went into the living room and fell asleep on the couch.
Dana woke up the next morning with a crick in her neck and the sun glaring in her eyes. When she had woken up a little bit she realized that there were people talking in the next room. At first she was going to ignore them and try to get some more sleep until she figured out whom one of the voices belonged to. "BJ?"
"Hey shortstuff, miss your big brother?" he asked as he walked over and gave her a big hug and ruffled her hair. He took in her appearance and commented, "You look like you have hangover."
"You're so sweet. I did just wake up you know."
"Yeah, yeah whatever. Go get dressed, we're all going out for breakfast."
One Week Later
"So how are classes so far?" Dana asked as she tried to split her attention between her boyfriend and her English homework.
"Boring as hell. The first two years are probably going to be dull, getting all that general ed. stuff out of the way. Although my psych class might not be so bad."
"Psych huh? Who exactly are you planning on analyzing?" she asked teasingly.
"Hmm... would I have to lay down on a couch and look at ink splatters?"
Mulder paused as if to consider the question. "There might be a couch involved but I think you're safe in the ink blot department."
"Uh huh. And when do you plan on 'analyzing' me on your couch?" She was glad that he couldn't see her face because she couldn't keep a straight face as she said this.
"Anytime you want babe."
"Oh come on. You know you would love going to U of Maryland! It would be perfect for you." Elaine cried as she tried to persuade her friend.
"E, you know what my first choice is going to be."
"You're really going to go all the way to England?"
Elaine was worried about Dana. She didn't know much about her relationship with Mulder because she had just moved here but she wasn't sure anyone should be this dedicated to someone else as a teenager?
Shaking herself from her thoughts she put away the college guide she'd been looking through. "So Chris asked me to homecoming."
"You think you'll go with him?" Dana asked, her interest instantly piqued.
"I might. He's really sweet and kind of cute. He could be fun to go with. Are you going to go?"
"I might go and keep Greg company, he just got dumped."
"Oh no, they were such a cute couple."
Meanwhile in England
Mulder walked into the cafÆ and looked around for Jeff. He was supposed to meet him and his girlfriend here to study for a history test they all had the same professor for.
He spotted Jeff sitting in the far corner already buried in books and notes. "Hey man," he said as he plopped down into a seat.
"Hey," Jeff replied absent-mindedly. "Phoebe will be out in a minute."
Shrugging, Mulder pulled out his book and read over the key statements he had already highlighted.
Neither attempted to make conversation and worked in complete silence. The silence was broken five minutes later by a cough, which was clearly meant to get their attention.
When Jeff realized whom it was he jumped up and offered her his seat while making a hasty introduction. "Mulder, I would like you to meet Phoebe Greene."
He offered her a friendly smile, "Nice to meet you."
Phoebe smiled back and gave him a not so discrete once over. "Oh believe me, the pleasure is all mine."
"Dana, you've got mail," Mrs. Scully called up the stairs to her youngest daughter.
"Be right there," Dana called back.
A few minutes later she came running down the stairs to where her mother was standing holding out a package to her. Dana saw the Oxford return address and immediately tore into the package.
Out of it fell two envelopes. One was a thick manila envelope and the other was obviously a hallmark card.
First she opened the card and read the printed message which was very cute and the personal message which was funnier, but made her want to cry at the same time. The postscript said 'if you want your present open the other envelope.'
She did as instructed and out into her lap fell six items that made her jaw drop.
They were all plane tickets, each with a name of one of her family members printed on it, and all for the week before her birthday.
Mrs. Scully looked over her shoulder and smiled. "Oh good, they got here."
She looked at her mother in shock. "You knew about this?"
"Of course I did. You didn't think he'd buy something like that without checking to see if we could come first, do you?"
She shrugged, since she hadn't really considered it in the less then 5 minutes she'd had the tickets in her hands. "So we can go?"
"Of course. We already bought the return tickets."
Dana hadn't thought it was possible but her smile grew wider. "Thanks mom." She hugged her mom and went back upstairs to finish her chemistry homework.
Dana was setting up another game of solitaire when someone knocked on her door. "Yeah?"
BJ stuck his head in. "Hey shortstuff. I need to talk to you."
"Sure, come on in," she said as she put a black 9 on a red ten.
BJ pulled out her desk chair and sat down facing her. He must have decided to jump right in because his opener was, "How serious is this thing with you and that Mulder kid?"
Dana couldn't help laughing. "Bill you're younger than Mulder, do you really think 'kid' should be anywhere in that question?"
"Just answer the question."
She rolled her eyes but answered anyway. "Pretty serious."
Her eyes widened as she got his implication. "Bill," she said indignantly, "I am not having this conversation with you."
"Just as long as you realize that if you and he..." he waved his hand in a vague gesture, "it would be statutory-"
"Bill! Shut up, you're being an idiot."
"I just don't want to hear that he's pressuring you."
"He would never do anything I didn't want him to," she responded coolly but confidently.
"I guess that begs the question then. Do you want him to?"
"Have you seen him lately? Of course she does." Both looked up to see Melissa leaning against the doorframe with an amused look on her face. "Are these the diplomatic skills they teach you at US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Bill?" she said the name in such a way that was obviously mocking the way he had strutted around all summer, only ever saying the full name of the school when people asked where he was going to college, and sometimes when they didn't. "Or did you fail that class?"
Bill, realizing there was no point in talking to Dana with Melissa there as her official representative, left but not before glaring at both of his little sisters.
As soon as he was gone Melissa started cracking up.
"Missy, was that really necessary?"
"Yes it was! Or did you not hear the questions he was asking you? You didn't have nearly enough fun with that."
"Oh for goodness sakes! It doesn't matter how you think I should have handled it. You should have let *me* handle it." Melissa arched an eyebrow and Dana couldn't help but grin. "Okay, it was funny."
"Uh huh, that's what I thought," she said giving a knowing big sister look. "Come on."
"Where are we going?"
"To the mall. You need new outfits for England."
"And who decided this?"
Dana gave Melissa a fearful look. "Is she in matchmaking mode?"
"She's already showed you wedding plans and the thing that tips you off is that she's buying you outfits to see your boyfriend in?"
"Shut up Missy."
Mulder was walking back from class to put his books in his room before going for a run, but was surprised to see Phoebe sitting in front of his door. "I think Jeff's in class right now."
"Oh," her lip quivered as she said this and her eyes filled with tears.
Mulder stooped down next to her. "What's wrong?" he asked awkwardly, not knowing what to do, and then she started crying and he felt even more at a loss.
"We broke up."
"It's my fault. I'm not good enough for him. I'm not good enough for anyone."
His knees were starting to hurt and he knew she couldn't be comfortable either, but he also realized that he couldn't just leave her or send her away like this. "Why don't you come inside or we can go someplace else, but a hallway probably isn't the place for a conversation like this."
She sniffled and looked up at him with her best 'help me, I'm so lost' look. "I don't really feel like going anywhere. I'm a mess."
"Alright," he said and helped her stand up. She didn't let go of his hand, but gave it a light squeeze before he made her let go of it. He unlocked the door and held it open for her.
What he didn't see, was the smug little grin she had on her face before she replaced it with the sweet, lost one again.
Elaine was sitting on her bed finishing her history homework when her phone rang. Without looking up from what she was writing she picked it up. "Yeah?"
"E, we both know that's not true. You never get in fights and suddenly you're in two in one day? One in the middle of Chemistry?"
"D, I said nothing's wrong. I'll see you in a week."
"Do you want me to get your homework for you?"
"No, don't worry about it."
She hung up and tossed her homework onto the floor. She wouldn't be able to concentrate now anyway.
Laying her head down on her pillow she raised her left arm and pushed back her sleeve so she could look at the skin of her wrist. She stared at the paleness of her skin in contrast to the dark red of the lines that were beginning to scab over.
Tears streamed down her face, but she barely felt them drop. She barely felt anything anymore.
Phoebe watched as the tears from her eyes dropped into the cup of tea that Mulder had made her and created tiny ripples. Making sure not to clear her throat so it sounded scratchier and clogged from the tears, she continued on with her story.
"She's in his Shakespearean Literature class, it's the one class we didn't take together." She snorted out a laugh. "He probably won her over by reading a sonnet or insisting that they work on the balcony scene together."
Mulder gave her a sad smile. "Did he give a reason why he wanted to break up?" Mulder actually had been pretty surprised to hear about Jeff and Phoebe's split. Since they had become roommates, he and Jeff had also become fairly close friends. He would have thought that Jeff would tell him something like this.
Phoebe let out another short burst of humorless laughter and said, "He gave some speech about wanting to see other people or expanding horizons or some bloody excuse along those lines. In truth he's just bored with me." After this assessment of the situation she broke into tears again.
Mulder got up from where he was sitting and patted her back soothingly. She took this as permission to lean into him further as she cried; this brought them into a quasi-hug.
With more than a little satisfaction she noted that her head was now resting on his stomach. Under the pretense if burying her head she caused his shirt to ride up just enough that her hiccupping breathe as she quieted her sobs danced across his skin. Just as she felt him begin to pull away she planted a light kiss a couple inches away from his navel. He didn't pull away but he also didn't move or even breathe for a full ten seconds.
"Phoebe, what are you doing?"
'Damn,' she thought, 'not quite the response I was hoping for. I should go back to the damsel-in- distress routine. I rushed that one.'
She began crying yet again. "I don't know. You were just being so nice and I... I should go." She stood up quickly and spilled her tea all over her front. "Bloody hell! I can't go outside like this," she exclaimed as she looked around for the box of tissues she had been using. As she wiped at her blouse she asked, "Do you mind if I borrow a shirt?"
Ten minutes later, donning one of Mulder's t- shirts and a smug expression, Phoebe left.
'Why is it when you want to get somewhere, planes seem to stop in the air?' Dana wondered as the captain finally announced that they would be landing. The plane wasn't any later than it was supposed to be, but it still felt longer than it should have.
Melissa watched as her sister practically squirmed in her seat, possibly enjoying her sister's torment a little too much, and made herself comfort her. "You're going to see him in five minutes, relax, kid."
Dana did stop at that but only to look indignant at her sister's reference to her as 'kid'; Melissa wasn't that much older than she was.
Melissa ignored the look however and just focused on the lack of squirming as a good sign. "That's the spirit!"
Melissa knew she had succeeded when indignation out-weighed anxiousness for the next few minutes before they touched down.
They walked out into the terminal and were immediately greeted by Mulder.
Charlie and Melissa shared the amused look that siblings get when they are trying not to taunt their sister when she's with her boyfriend. BJ looked like he wanted to kill something. Dana was glad when her parents steered her siblings towards a gift shop, leaving her and Mulder alone.
In between long, drawn-out kisses they told one another how much they'd missed the other.
"I have to check in at the hotel with my family but then I'm all yours 'til we have to meet up with them for dinner."
"Well, we better get you checked in quickly because I have plans for you."
For once she didn't care about appearing girlie and let out a giggle as he dragged her in the direction her family had run off. She was in England, with her boyfriend, nothing could go wrong.
Later That Night
BJ had to get away from these two before he was sick. Something had never sat well with him about that Mulder kid, and now his sister was dating him. He'd been ready to question them when they showed up fifteen minutes late to the restaurant, both looking like they had run a mile to get there, but his mother had cut him off before one word could come out of his mouth.
It was a conspiracy, he was sure of it.
So, about halfway through dinner he excused himself and decided to take a walk. Despite what most of his family thought, he did not want to spoil Dana's time; he just didn't have to be happy about it.
'I've been walking forever,' he decided after thirty minutes and stopped in a coffee shop to take a breather before heading back towards the hotel.
He was halfway through his first cup of black coffee when he overheard something he really didn't want to hear.
"I don't believe you. There's no way you got him into bed," one woman said to her companion from where they sat, not two tables away from BJ.
The first woman looked indifferent to the other's objection and merely sipped her tea. "Didn't I?"
"No one has been able to even approach Fox Mulder since he got here. He's 'committed' or some bullshit like that. He's got a girl back in the states. It would almost be sweet if it wasn't so frustrating."
"I guarantee you he wasn't thinking about any 'girl from the states' the other day."
"Where's your proof? From what I hear, his girlfriend just got into town today. If he's waited this long I see no reason why he would cheat on her just days before her arrival."
"If you really want proof check out the bag," she gestured towards the paper bag that was on the floor next to one of the table legs.
"Phoebe?" the first girl asked in a 'what did you do?' sort of way, but nevertheless reached for the bag. Out of it she pulled a 1977 Yankees World Series t-shirt.
Phoebe smiled smugly in response to her friend's stunned expression. "Yanks and their baseball, huh? I had to promise to return it, but the poor boy had to let me borrow it. I mean it was his... zealousness that created the need for a new shirt."
"Wow," was all her friend could say for a couple minutes. "Was he any good?"
"Mmm, you should definitely give him a try; after I'm done with him, of course."
Bill had heard enough. He got up and stormed out of the coffee shop, almost running over a couple on their way in.
He had left so soon that he didn't hear the end of the conversation. "Well, I've got to go," Phoebe said after looking at her watch and reclaiming the t-shirt. "You can give me the fifty pounds tomorrow. Tell the others I intend to collect from them too."
All the way back to the hotel BJ thought, 'I'm going to kill that sorry son-of-a-bitch.'
Melissa was up reading her favorite book for the hundredth time when BJ came storming in like a man on a mission. "Melissa I need to tell you something and then you have to tell Dana."
"Why do you need a middle man? Tell her yourself," Melissa told him, not even glancing up with him, she had a feeling that she did not want to be the messenger on this one.
"She won't believe me."
"And what makes you think I'm going to believe you?"
"Because this is too important!" Bill said exasperatedly.
Melissa sighed and closed her book. "Okay, I'll bite. What's so important?"
"Mulder's cheating on Dana." Melissa looked at him for a good twenty seconds, making BJ believe she hadn't heard him, but then she stood up and began to walk away without even commenting. "Melissa!" he called, disgusted that she would ignore something like this.
She turned at her brother's call. "Bill, I know you don't like him, everybody does. You two never got along and made no secret of it. But this is just ridiculous. He would never cheat on her."
"I wouldn't make this up! You know me, Melissa."
Melissa sighed again and walked back over to her brother. "Okay, tell me where you discovered this startling information, and *maybe* I'll believe you."
Bill related the entire conversation back to Melissa and by the end her mouth was hanging open in disbelief.
"And there's no reason this woman would be lying?"
"Not from what I heard."
"Oh God, I've got to tell Dana." Melissa turned and started for her and Dana's room but was called back by Bill one more time.
"Mel, I really didn't want this to happen."
"I know, BJ. I know."
Dana was lying awake, wanting to talk to someone. She was so happy that she thought she was going to burst. She'd had the perfect day. Mulder had shown her around Oxford, introducing her to a couple of his friends, who they'd hung out with for a while, before going back to his dorm. They had barely made it to dinner with her family.
As she was replaying the day in her head, Melissa walked in looking very somber.
"Hey, Missy. What's wrong?"
"Day, I need to tell you something. You aren't going to like it but I have to tell you."
Now it was Dana who looked worried. "Okay..."
"It's about Mulder."
"Did something happen? Is he alright?"
"No, Day, he's fine," 'as long as he stays away from me and BJ,' she added silently. "But there's something you need to know-"
Dana listened as Melissa related to her what had happened in the coffee shop and sat stunned for several minutes after.
"I have to- I have to go-" She got up and started getting dressed. "I need to talk to him."
"Do you need me to go with you? You probably shouldn't go over there alone, especially at this time of night."
"Yeah- um yeah, maybe. Um, Mel, I need a minute."
"Sure," Melissa said and walked out of the room to wait for her.
Dana sat on her bed and stared off into space. 'It can't be true. He wouldn't. I know he wouldn't,' was quickly followed by, 'but what if he did?'
Now she really needed to talk to someone. Barely thinking she picked up the phone on the nightstand and dialed Elaine's phone number.
When the phone stopped ringing all she heard at first was sniffling. "Hello?"
"Yeah. Who is this?"
"Dana. Is everything okay?"
Mrs. Brooks started all-out crying this time. "No, I have to get back to the hospital-"
"Hospital? Who's in the hospital?"
"Elaine, they aren't sure if she'll make it. I really have to get back there. Good bye."
"Oh my God," Dana whispered over and over again as she started to pack.
"Day? What are you doing?" Melissa asked, confused when she came back to check on her sister and saw her packing.
"I have to go home."
In the middle of the night Mulder woke up to a pounding on the door. He opened it to find Dana and Melissa standing on the other side and Dana looked like she'd been crying.
"Dana? What's wrong?" Mulder asked he stepped forward to wrap his arms around her and she backed away. "What's going on?" he asked again looking back and forth between the two, looking for some kind of answer.
"Melissa, could you give us a minute?"
Melissa nodded but didn't go far away, just enough to give them a little space.
"I have to go home. A friend of mine is in trouble," Dana took a deep breath, "but I needed to talk to you first, this wasn't something I could do over the phone."
"Is your friend going to be okay? What do you need to talk to me about?"
Tears were starting to well up in her eyes again; the stress of the last couple hours and the emotional rollercoaster she'd been on was starting to get to her, and was starting to give her a headache. "I don't want to know why, and I'm not going to make a big deal out of this but I know what happened between you and Phoebe."
Mulder's mind went back to the other day when Phoebe had hit on him, but couldn't see why that would upset her or how she knew, especially since he hadn't responded positively, and opened his mouth to say something of the kind but she cut him off.
"No, really, I knew something like this could happen and that's why I suggested we break up before you came out here, but you told me it wouldn't be a problem. Well, now it is a problem, and I'm ending it."
"Wha-" but he didn't get much more out because she was already heading down the hall. "You have to let me explain. Noth-"
"I don't want an explanation," she said. She had stopped but hadn't turned around. "I don't want to hear why. I really, *really* don't. I have to go, my plane leaves soon."
"You can't just..."
Melissa put her arm around Dana and led her away. She turned around when they reached the stairs that would lead out of the building. "Bye."
'What the hell just happened?' Mulder thought as he stared at the spot she had just been standing.
Martha's Vineyard Hospital
Dana walked down the hall toward the room the nurse had pointed out.
When she walked in she saw Elaine sitting up in bed, staring out of the window.
She turned and saw her standing in the doorway. "D, what are you doing here? Aren't you supposed to be in London?"
"Aren't you not supposed to be in the hospital?" she shot back with a little more anger than she meant.
"You didn't have to come," she returned, starting to get angry herself.
Dana took a calming breath, trying not to lose it, knowing that it wasn't the time or person on whom to take out her frustrations. "Sorry," she mumbled. "So, what are you in for?"
Unconsciously, Elaine looked down to the bandages on her wrists before she could stop herself, but brought her eyes back up as quickly as possible, hoping that Dana hadn't caught the look. Unfortunately, for Elaine, she had.
"Nothing too bad. I just passed out and my mom panicked."
"Uh huh, and the bandages? I suppose those are just from when you fell."
Elaine nodded, trying not to give anymore away. "They happened about the same time. You know, I'm really tired, do you mind coming back later?"
Since Elaine had turned over and no longer acknowledged that she was in the room, Dana agreed to leave her alone... for now.
Outside, her mom was waiting for her in the car. She climbed in and even though her mom asked a few questions, she didn't say anything.
She just stared out the window, watching the scenery pass and wondered, 'How did everything go to hell so quickly?'
Authors Note: Okay, before anyone pulls out the pitchforks and the torches let me just say that this is in no way the end of this series, you guys know me, do you really think I would leave it like this?
Thanks to Cathey for beta reading for me and to all of you who have been patient through the absurdly long time it took me to write this thing.