Date: Friday, March 03, 2000

Abah 14: Tay-fone
By Susan Proto (STPteach@aol.com)

Category: MulderTorture, FamilyAngst, Story, continued series…A/U

Keywords: Married with children….Secondary character death.

Rating: PG13 for language

Spoilers: I twist things up to season seven up to fit my universe.

Summary: Mulder must deal with loss for the past, present, and potentially,
the future.

Archive: Yes.

Disclaimer: Fox Mulder, Dana, Maggie Scully, Walter Skinner, Elizabeth (I
STILL can't believe he called her Teena) Mulder, Samantha Mulder, and Jack
(a/k/a CSM) Stein belong to 1013 Productions and Chris Carter. Unfamiliar
characters are mine, and I'll share…'cause I've learned to play nice in the
sandbox.

Introduction: This is the next story in the series, number 14. (It's been a
while, I know.) The story picks up where we left off in the Abah alternate
universe, so I recommend you read the preceding stories to fill in any giant plot holes.
Let's just say, CC has his vision of what happened and I have my own.

You can find the series archived at the ever wonderful, Shirley Smiley's
MulderTorture site at:

http://susanproto.freeservers.com/

Thanks, as always, to my cyberMuse, Vickie.

Feedback: Yes! It's therapeutic! Thanks in advance.

Part 1/6

Scully leaned over the crib rail and kissed her still sleeping daughter on
the forehead. The twenty-two month old toddler had been up earlier, but
Scully managed to get her back down for what she hoped would be another hour
or so of sleep.

Next, she went back into the master bedroom to retrieve her handbag and
laptop. She'd been doing some paperwork in bed last night, much to her
husband's dismay, as he had other bedroom activities in mind. Scully had to
smile when she remembered Mulder's very reluctant acquiescence until she'd
promised him the laptop would remain in the office tonight. The twinkle she
remembered seeing in his eyes made her chuckle out loud.

"Hey, G-Woman, wha's up?" he asked groggily.

She bent down and planted a kiss on his lips. "Going to work," she said and
signed in short hand. Then she communicated in the same manner, "Sara's
sleeping," by first placing the manual letter 's' over her heart and then
signing the word 'sleep.'

Mulder nodded, rolled out of bed, and before he went into the bathroom, he
said, "Wai' for me." Scully nodded and continued to gather her things
together in order to get ready for work.

Scully noted Mulder's hearing aids and realized she hadn't turned on the
light monitoring system that the gunmen had set up for them sometime back.
It allowed Mulder to 'hear' when Sarah was crying in her bedroom while Mulder
was in other rooms of the house. She went to flip the switch by the front
door when she heard Mulder calling her.

"Dana? You here?"

"Right here," she called out, but as she said it she switched one of the hall
lights on and off so Mulder would take note of where she was. She knew he
most likely had not put his hearing aids in yet and would not have been able
to understand her otherwise.

Scully's thoughts wandered to the realization that even with the hearing
aids, she and Mulder were relying more and more upon simple sign language to
ensure his understanding of spoken language. His hearing continued to
deteriorate, and she wondered not if, but when, Mulder would no longer be
able to count on the hearing aids for any kind of benefit.

The two of them had also taken to using sign language around Sarah. Mulder
wanted desperately to be able to communicate with his daughter, but her high
pitched, garbled toddler-speak was just about impossible for him to
understand. The decision to consciously sign to Sarah when conversing with
her was actually Scully's idea. She saw how Mulder struggled to understand
their young daughter, and how much it hurt him when he had to continuously
ask Scully for a translation.

And the little imp took to it like a fish to water.

Sarah was a natural at it; the signing allowed her to express herself more
clearly than the words alone. Much to Mulder's relief, the use of sign
language didn't hinder Sarah's normal speech; if anything, it encouraged it,
because both Mulder and Scully were better able to understand the child's
wants and desires. Sarah, being the bright child that she was, took their
responses as positive reinforcement to simultaneously speak and sign.

"Go' everythin'?" Mulder asked as he jolted Scully out of her thoughts.

"Yes, I think so," she replied. Then she said, "Sarah went back down to
sleep about twenty minutes ago. You should get another half hour of peace
and quiet before she awakens."

"Okay, than's," he replied. "Tha'll gimme time to check my repor' again
before I email it to Wa'ter," he informed.

"I'm glad you're finally done with that case," Scully said earnestly.

"You and me bot'," he agreed readily. "I'm looking forwar' to some time off
to p'ay with my daughter."

"Hey! How about some time to play with your wife," Scully retorted with mock
indignation.

"Oh, don' worry, I go' tha' all p'anned for tonigh' young lady," he answered
playfully. "I'm gonna ask Mom to come over a little ear'ier and pick Sarah
up at three o'c'ock, an' I e'spect you home soon af'er tha'… Un'er'tan',
Wife?"

"Oh, yeah," she practically purred, "so I'm gonna go now, before I have to go
and take another shower." She fanned her hand back and forth in front of her
face as a way of getting her point more clearly across.

Obviously it worked, because Mulder laughed out loud and then gave her more
than friendly kiss on the lips. On more than one occasion it gave the couple
pause to think how little effect Mulder's physical limitations had on their
love life.

Unless Scully or Mulder (which unfortunately for him was more often the case)
were incapacitated due to injury or illness, their passion for one another
remained strong and was demonstrated in every conceivable way as often as
possible.

"Go, Dana, before I don' le' you go," he said.

"I'll email you later," she said as she waggled her eyebrows, "and let you
know what time to expect me."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Mulder showered, dressed, and as he prepared some decaf to wash down his meds
with, he kept an eye on the light monitors. Sarah was now up, but not in
distress, as the lights flickered only intermittently. She was probably
babbling to herself, though she did so in her own unique way.

On more than one occasion, Mulder spied on his little one just to see what
she was up to. Lately, he was surprised to see not only her mouth going a
mile a minute, but her hands as well. When Sarah babbled, she did so in sign
language as well.

Mulder left the coffee to brew and booted up the computer, so he could run
through his report one more time before emailing it to Walter. Having a
father-in-law whom was also your boss sometimes proved awkward when it came
to dealing with other personnel, but for Mulder, it proved to be a life-saver
that was more than worth the potential hassle.

Walter Skinner was the one Mulder went to when he and Scully had discovered
Elizabeth Mulder had actually married Jack Stein. Having gone through with a
marriage was bad enough, but their decision to keep it a secret from him and
Scully was what did Mulder in. He couldn't imagine Walter and Maggie ever
doing something like that; even if it was meant to protect Mulder and Scully,
Mulder knew his Abah and Maggie would still choose to go with the truth.

Elizabeth Mulder and Jack Stein only chose what was easier for them. And in
the end, it estranged them even further from Mulder and his family. Mulder
often wondered why his mother was willing to trade her granddaughter for the
lies of the consortium, but in the end, he concluded it was probably for the
best.

The last time he'd dealt with his mother and Jack was over the case in
Westchester County, New York. He discovered his mother and Jack were knee
high in the consortium's research of the nanocytes. Mulder learned that his
mother and Jack were indeed their own worse guinea pigs.

So, with little reluctance at this point in his life, Mulder felt that the
more distance he could put between his family and the Smoking Bastard's
cronies the better. He just wished he didn't have to lump his mother in with
the cronies.

Mulder sat down and pulled up his final report for the serial case he'd been
hired to consult on with VCS. Though it was a horrific case, Mulder proved
himself able to get through it with a modicum of support from Skinner and
Scully. Mulder finally seemed to be over his agoraphobia and was able to
come and go as he pleased without the medications the counselor had
prescribed for nerves.

Which reminded him of his need to take the Tegretrol that he took morning and
night to control his grand mal seizures. He reviewed the report one more
time, made a couple of minor edits, and finally hit the email button to send
the attachment. Just as he was about to get up to get his coffee and meds,
Mulder saw the little flag go up which indicated he had mail.

He checked the light monitor, saw that Sarah was still apparently in a
contented mood, and decided to postpone taking his meds until he read his
mail. He got comfortable and opened his mailbox. The latest mailing was
from an address he'd never received correspondence from, yet he knew
immediately from whom it came.

CSM@hotmail.com could only mean one person. The asshole obviously had a
warped sense of humor.

However, the subject header was even more ominous.

Subject: Fwd: Important Information re: E. Mulder

Mulder automatically gulped several breaths of air in order to calm down. He
could only imagine what threats the Cigarette Smoking Bastard was going to
make on his family. He knew he would never allow Jack Stein or any of his
sonofabitch associates do harm to his daughter and wife. Mulder had no doubt
he would kill the SOB to protect his family.

Mulder opened the mail and his eyes widened as he read it to its conclusion.
It was news he wasn't expecting. He knew he shouldn't have been all that
surprised, but he was. He didn't think it was possible. He didn't think it
would ever happen, at least not in his lifetime.

>To the family & friends of Elizabeth Mulder,
>
>It is with great sorrow that I relay the sad news of Elizabeth
>Mulder's passing. She died Saturday night of natural causes
>and was, in accordance with her wishes, cremated Sunday
>morning. She will be missed.
>
>J. Stein

Today was Monday. The bastard waited until after she was cremated to notify
him. Sonofabitch! Stein had sent the email apparently to everyone in his
mother's email address book. It was small comfort to know Mulder was at
least in her email address book. Mulder read it over again. Natural causes?
He almost laughed out loud at that thought. Since Elizabeth and Jack were
infected with the nanocytes by the consortium as a means of controlling them,
there could have been nothing natural about his mother's death.

He wondered why he even cared.

But of course he did.

And it hit him, rather like a ton of bricks, that his mother was dead.

And then he went down like a ton of bricks into a full-blown, grand mal
seizure.

"Dah-dah, uppy!" cried out Sarah in an attempt to get her father's attention.
She paced her crib from end to end, and while she called out for her father
she also signed her request to be picked up.

However, when she heard the loud crash from the living room, Sarah jumped.
"Dah-dah? Dah-dah? Uppy!" she called out again, but as she became more and
more frustrated her cries became more and more frantic.

Finally, Sarah stopped her pacing and straddled the crib bar. She carefully
pulled herself up and over the side of the crib and shimmied herself down the
side of the crib. She landed with a bit of an oomph but made it down, safe
and sound.

She toddled into the den where Sarah found her father convulsing on the
floor. It wasn't a totally foreign sight to her, but it was still a
disturbing enough of an image to the two year old's eyes for her to start
calling out to her daddy.

"Dah-dah? Dah-dah?" she called out and signed simultaneously with one hand
and patted Mulder's arms and legs with the other. She received no response
from him. "Dah-dah, boo-boo?"

The child looked around her and called out for Scully. "Mama! Mama! Once
again, she received no response, and the baby said, "Mama, bye-bye."

Sarah continued to mutter about for another few seconds when she spied the
telephone on the small corner table by the sofa. She quickly scurried over
and picked up the phone. She started babbling into the phone, but when she
heard no voice answering her, she did what she'd played so often in the past.
Sara started punching in buttons until finally, she got a response.

"AD Skinner's Office. How may I help you?" announced Kim.

"Dah-dah, boo-boo," replied a very serious Sarah.

"Excuse me?" responded a very confused receptionist.

"Dah-dah, boo-boo," Sarah repeated.

"Honey, is your mommy there?"

"Mama, bye-bye," answered Sarah.

"And where's your daddy?" she probed.

"Dah-dah, boo-boo," Sarah reaffirmed.

"Sweetheart, what's your name?" asked Kim gently.

"Tah-ruh," replied the baby in her best toddler-speak.

"Tara?" asked Kim to confirm, but that was met with giggles.

"No Tara, Tah-ruh!" repeated Sarah all the while pounding the manual alphabet
sign for the letter 's' into her chest.

"Honey," Kim began, as she gave up on the name for the moment, "how old are
you?"

Sarah held out her two fingers to the phone, and said, "D'is many."

Kim became frustrated. She couldn't be sure if some preadolescent was having
a whole lot of fun at the taxpayers' expense or if there was really a baby
out there who needed help.

Suddenly, AD Skinner poked his head out of the door and tersely said, "Kim,
I've been buzzing you for the past three minutes. What's got you held up
that you need to ignore my summonses?"

"Oh, Sir, I am sorry. It's just that, well, I'm not sure what kind of a
situation I have here, Sir. I think it' s a baby; I mean, it could be a
prank, but I don't think so, Sir. I think this is for real, and well, I was
just about to have the call traced, Sir."

"Kim, what are you talking about?" asked an exasperated Skinner.

"Just a minute, Sir. Hopefully, I'll have some answers for you in a moment,"
replied Kim, who then notified the operator to seek a trace on the call
P/D/Q.

Kim continued to engage the child in conversation to insure she didn't hang
up the phone. Kim didn't want to lose the line for the trace, and when the
operator came back on with the number, Kim jotted it down.

"Okay, just to make sure, that's 341-7474, right?" asked Kim to confirm.
Upon hearing it to be so, Kim murmured her thanks and was about to say
something to the AD when she noticed he turned completely pale.

"Sir? Sir, what's wrong?" she asked anxiously.

"That number. Give me the phone, Kim. Now." Kim handed the phone over
immediately. "Sarah? Sarah, is that you?"

"Sabah!" cried out the baby gleefully. "Hi, Sabah!"

"Sarah, where's Mommy and Daddy?" asked an anxious Skinner.

"Mama, bye-bye. Dah-dah, boo-boo."

"Put the phone by Daddy so I can talk to him, Sarah," he pleaded. He heard
the baby drop the phone onto the floor, which only made Skinner's worries to
increase. He could hear someone's labored breathing, which could only mean
Mulder was in the midst of a seizure. Heaven only knew how long he'd been
seizing.

"Kim, get an ambulance to Mulder's house, stat," he ordered. "Tell them I'll
meet them there. There's an alarm system that will need to be disarmed
first. And keep the baby on the line."

Kim nodded in astonishment. It had never occurred to her that it was Sarah
Mulder on the phone. She could only imagine how the child was lucky enough
to have connected with her grandfather's office when her father needed
medical attention. But she did as she was ordered to do, and having given
the directions for ambulance, Kim continued her conversation with a very
chatty two-year-old.

The paramedics arrived at the same time as the police unit. Though the
message through their walkie-talkie indicated that someone would meet them at
the site, one of the younger, more eager EMTs decided it was foolish to wait
when there was the possibility someone was dying inside.

BANGBANGBANGBANGBANG!

He pounded on the door and shouted loudly, "Can you hear me? Open the door!
If you can hear me, answer!"

He began striking the door hard again, but there was no response.
The young man continued to call and pound while the more experienced
crewmembers hung back and allowed the young whippersnapper to tire out.
Wasn't any skin off of their back if he yelled himself hoarse or bruised his
hand while he tried to wake up the dead.

However the formidable, tall, balding man that took long strides as he
approached caught them all off guard. When the man proceeded to bark out
orders to move away from the door, everyone, with the exception of the young
eager beaver that was too busy yelling to hear the demands, moved out of the
way quickly.

"I said get the hell out of my way. Didn't you get my instructions? I very
clearly informed your dispatcher that I was following you to the location,
and that I would disarm the damn alarm. Now move," Skinner commanded as he
placed his hand on the younger man's shoulder and quickly pulled him out of
his path.

Skinner quickly put the key into the lock, opened the door quickly and
punched in the code to disarm the alarm system. He was grateful the fools at
least hadn't busted down the door; there was no telling what the effects of
that would have been on the Lone Gunmen's protection system.

He felt the others move in behind him quickly, so Skinner pressed forward
into the house. As he walked to the interior of the house, he clearly heard
his granddaughter's cries of distress. His heart constricted as he realized
she must have felt terror when she heard the incessant banging at the front
door.

"Mulder? Sarah? It's Sabah, sweetheart! Where are you and Daddy hiding?"
the AD called out as lightly as he could. He wound his way through the lower
level and finally realized the baby's crying was coming from Mulder's office
den. He practically broke out into a dead run and the emergency personnel
followed suit.

He entered the room and what he saw caused him to cry out. Sarah had managed
to pull her father's arm over her in an effort to help him protect her. Her
little hands held onto his shirt for dear life and her face was buried into
Mulder's side.

Skinner wasn't sure if he was still seizing; for his sake he certainly hoped
not. However, now that the paramedics were here, Skinner knew his
granddaughter had to become his first priority while the EMTs tended to her
father.

"Sarah, sweetheart, come here. It's okay, Sarah. Sabah is here," he called
out to her gently.

Slowly, she peeked out from under her father's arm and looked up towards her
grandfather. "Sabah? Big boom allgone?" she asked anxiously.

"Yes, Sarah, no more banging," he reassured her. He stretched his arms out
toward her, and she extricated herself out from under her father's arm and
ran quickly toward safety. As she nestled herself into Skinner's arms, he
picked up the phone that lay near Mulder as he quickly moved to give the
medical personnel space to work.

"Kim?" When he received an affirmative response, he then asked, "Have you
been able to get hold of Mrs. Skinner and Scully?"

"Yes, to both, Sir. Both Agent Scully and Mrs. Skinner said they'd meet you
directly at the hospital. They both assumed Agent Mulder would be admitted
to GUMC."

Skinner asked one of the EMTs to confirm if that was indeed the reality.
When he saw a nod, Skinner told Kim that he would follow over with the baby
in his car. Skinner was extremely grateful he kept the baby's car seat in
his car at all times. It had come in handy during impromptu visits for spur
of the moment dinner invitations or park visits, and it was going to come in
very handy now.

When he finally clicked off the phone and realized Sarah was now relatively
calm, Skinner was able to concentrate on Mulder's condition. He realized it
wasn't good. He'd obviously had one very long seizure; he'd been incontinent
and had yet to regain full consciousness.

It took a moment or two before Skinner realized he was being addressed.
"Sir, what medications does he take?" asked John, one of the paramedics.

"Tegretrol for the seizures. At one time he was on a low dose antibiotic for
ear infections, but I honestly don't know what else he's on; you'll have to
speak with his wife."

"Did he have his seizure meds today?" asked a second paramedic, Patty.

"I don't know; he keeps them in the kitchen. I can check," Skinner offered.
When she nodded her approval, Skinner carried the baby into the kitchen.
There he saw the clean, empty mug next to the coffeepot and the two pills
next to the mug on a napkin. He realized Mulder had not yet taken his
medication and returned to the den to inform the medics as such.

Unfortunately, they didn't have a whole of lot of time to listen to him.
Mulder had apparently gone into yet another seizure.

"C'mon, Mr. Mulder! Don't do this to me, damn it! Come back to us for that
little girl of yours!" demanded Patty as she set up IV lines, while John
opened communications with the hospital.

He announced, "Affirmative," and then repeated the instructions back to the
doctor in charge. "Okay, I've administered the phenobarb!" John announced.
"Let's move this puppy out ASAP!"

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

When they arrived at the hospital, Skinner parked and carried the baby
inside. He noticed the EMT team that brought Mulder looked a little
bedraggled. Skinner immediately walked up to the woman and asked, "What
happened?"

"He started seizing again on the way over," replied Patty. "We got him
stabilized fairly quickly, but it's never easy en route."

"Thank you," Skinner replied hoarsely. "Thank you for taking care of him."

"Oh, Mr. Mulder's one of my regulars, Sir," Patty said with a smile. "I
can't let anything happen to one of my regulars. You take care now, hear?"

And with that Patty, John, and the rest of the team regrouped for their next
assignment.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"Where is he?" asked Scully as she fought to catch her breath and her
control. "Has he been admitted?"

"He's going to be admitted. He had a couple of seizures while the paramedics
were working on him. There's no way of knowing how long he'd been seizing
before I got to the house, but we estimate it had to have been for at least
thirty minutes," replied Skinner as gently as possible.

"Oh, sweet Jesus." Scully paled a bit, and Walter grabbed hold her elbow.

"C'mon, let's go sit down," and when she'd protested that she'd have to sign
admittance forms, Skinner shushed her and told her they'd get signed soon
enough. "He hadn't had his meds yet. I'm not sure why; he takes those damn
pills religiously, doesn't he?" he asked.

"Yes," Scully murmured in response, but she wasn't really paying attention.
Her mind was going in a million directions at once. "Sarah, where's Sarah?"

"Maggie's got her. She took her to the cafeteria to get her something to
eat."

"Is she all right?" Scully asked tentatively. Walter nodded in the
affirmative, and she let out a small sigh of relief. "Well, that's something
to be grateful for, I guess. Oh, God, Walter, what the hell happened? He
was fine when I left for work this morning," she asked in frustration.

"I don't know, but it does give us something to think about, doesn't it," he
replied softly.

Scully looked up at her step-father and knew immediately what he meant; it
was something that was always in the back of her mind, ever since Mulder had
been struck from behind and the baby had been kidnapped all those months ago.

"It will devastate him," she responded sadly.

"I know it will, Dana," he murmured back as he rubbed her arm in comforting
circles, "but do we really have a choice?"

"I don't suppose we do," she said, "not after this."

Neither looked forward to that particular conversation with Mulder; the one
that would essentially say, 'You cannot be trusted alone with your daughter.'

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

He slept deeply for the rest of the day; he'd been pumped with enough drugs
to knock out an elephant. He was admitted to the ICU and was to remain there
until the doctors were sure his seizures were under control. His vitals
were being monitored, and at this point everything appeared within normal
limits.

No one felt Mulder would be confined to the hospital for more than a day or
two, which was a relief to both the Skinner and Mulder households. That was
assuming, of course, that they could determine the cause of this latest wave
of seizures.

That was the real mystery, if indeed there was something concrete for them to
blame. Scully had not gone home yet, so there was no way she could have
sifted through any possible clues at that point. She planned on running home
for an emergency bag for the baby, as Maggie offered to take Sarah back to
her home for the night.

For now, however, Scully remained by Mulder's bedside as he drifted in and
out of consciousness. Mulder occasionally mumbled something that resembled
'Scully,' but he had yet to become fully alert and realize she was in the
room with him. She simply bided her time and held his hand, so he would be
sufficiently reassured that she was there, waiting the entire time.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Scully?" he rasped to the darkened room. Mulder didn't have his hearing
aids in, so he wasn't sure if anyone responded. "Scully?" he called a little
louder the second time. He had no idea what the time was, nor was he sure
where he was. His equilibrium was off, and when he tried to sit up he felt a
wave of nausea hit, but he wasn't sure why. All he wanted was for Scully to
answer him and for someone to turn on the damn lights.

Suddenly he felt someone grasp his hand and squeeze it gently. "Scully," he
said resolutely.

She turned on the overhead light so she was visible to him, and so he would
be better able to read her lips. Of course he squinted reflexively, and his
grimace caused Scully to apologize automatically.

"S'okay, ligh's brigh' tha's all," he reassured.

Scully nodded in response, but she remained quiet. She knew Mulder would
have questions and figured it was best that he initiated the question and
answer period.

"Ho'pital?" he asked. Scully nodded in the affirmative.

"Why?" he asked. He truly had no recollection.

"Seizure," she replied. "Long one," she signed.

Mulder closed his eyes at that; he hadn't had a long seizure in quite some
time, and was discouraged to think that he might be starting a cycle of them
again. He tried desperately to think of the last thing that he could
remember doing.

Suddenly his eyes popped open, and he gasped out, "Sarah!"

"She fine!" Scully responded quickly. "Mulder, the baby's okay, really!"
She kept signing 'fine' and 'OK' over and over again in the hope of waylaying
his anxiety. She actually feared he would go into another seizure if he
didn't calm himself down quickly.

"Where is she?" he asked quickly.

"With Mom," Scully signed and then added emphatically, "Sarah is fine."

Mulder nodded his head and then suddenly felt exhausted. It was as if
whatever adrenaline rush had overtaken him was now spent, and he felt he had
no choice but to close his eyes.

Scully decided now was as good of a time as any to go home and pack a bag for
the baby, as well as a clean set of clothes for Mulder for when he was
discharged. She called Walter into the room and explained where she was
going.

"Watch him, Abah, please."

She knew Walter Skinner would do nothing else.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Scully turned the key and entered the darkened home. The lights come on
immediately as soon as she disarmed the alarm. It was one of the little
adaptations the 'boys' had included in their alarm system for Mulder. They
figured with his severe hearing loss, having the lights come on immediately
would give him a better sense of safety.

Scully hung her jacket on the coat tree by the door and walked upstairs to
Sarah's room for the emergency bag, which was basically packed and ready.
Scully added a couple of more tee shirts and diapers, and then went directly
into the master bedroom. All of their years of experience in the field
caused Scully to keep emergency bags packed and ready at all times for both
of them.

She added a pair of pajamas for Mulder and threw in an extra tee shirt for
herself. She picked up the travel bags and carried them downstairs. Scully
was going to leave directly for the hospital again, but she felt compelled to
go into the den to see if there were any clues to what had set off his
seizure.

As she swept the room with her eyes, Scully couldn't imagine what prevented
him from taking his medication that morning. It surprised her that he'd yet
to take his pills, though it was obvious he had planned to take them. She
wondered what had him distracted. Scully couldn't even imagine.

She looked over at the desk and noticed Mulder's screen saver was up and
running. She hit the mouse and noticed Mulder's email program had been on,
but he had been obviously logged off some time ago. On a hunch, Scully sat
down at her husband's computer and logged back on under his screen name.

They'd shared each other's screen names and passwords long ago in the event
of an emergency. It was simply so much quicker than having to ask the Lone
Gunmen to hack into their respective systems. Scully typed in FOXMAN1013
and brought up Mulder's mail. It was of course the usual assortment of
invitations to porn sites, sci-fi sites, as well as memos and notices from
the bureau.

Though he was no longer a field agent, Mulder's skills as a consultant had
proved invaluable on a number of cases. As a result, Mulder was still on the
mailing list of a significant number of FBI departments. Scully didn't
notice anything out of the ordinary, but then realized if it was an email
that caused the seizure, Mulder would have already opened and read it.

She quickly clicked on 'old mail.' The first one caught her eye immediately
and made her gasp. Scully knew she was looking at the trigger point.

Scully returned to the hospital as quickly as possible. She needed to speak
with Mulder; she needed to see if he understood what had happened and
convince him he would survive it.

Upon her arrival she saw Walter standing outside of Mulder's room along with
Maggie and Sarah. The baby immediately reached out to Scully, so Scully
dropped the bags and picked up her daughter. She listened to the baby's
quiet murmuring of 'Mama' as Sarah nestled herself in Scully's arms.

"Mom? Abah? What happened?" she asked.

"Another seizure," replied Walter quietly. "It seemed to come out nowhere,
damn it."

"Walter, the baby," Maggie responded automatically. When Walter waved her
off, she looked at Dana and apologized, "He's upset, sweetheart."

"Was he awake?" Scully responded as she ignored her mother's comment. "Was
he sleeping or was he awake? Did he say anything? Was he upset about
anything?" Scully's voice began to rise until Walter cut her off.

"Dana! Stop," he said firmly. He placed his large hands on her shoulders
and pulled her around so she faced him while the baby remained curled up in
her arms. Walter then reached out and gently caressed the baby's head, and
then did the same to Scully.

"He was awake, Dana," he began to explain. "He was awake, and Maggie had
just come in with the baby. Sarah had cried out to him; she called out
'Dah-Dah!' and began to reach for him the moment she saw him. Mulder reached
out for her as well and father and daughter were cuddling in the bed. He was
fine."

At these words Scully looked questioning at both her stepfather and mother.
Maggie quickly jumped in and agreed with her husband. "Dana, he was. He was
so happy to see Sarah. After a few minutes passed, Fox looked up and asked
where you were. We told him you had gone home to pick up an overnight bag
for the baby and a change of clothes for him since he was probably going to
be discharged in the next day or two."

"Fox nodded his head," Walter continued, ''and then he looked startled about
something. It was odd, almost as if he were a cartoon character and the
light bulb went on over his head. He muttered something; I don't know what
it was, Dana, and then he began to seize."

Scully shook her head, but it was not because she didn't believe Walter's
words. She did. She simply couldn't believe the effect Elizabeth Mulder had
on her husband, even from her grave, for Scully was certain that it was his
mother's death that set off the latest seizure.

"I think I have the cause of Mulder's seizures in my pocket." Scully shifted
the baby and reached into her jacket pocket for the hard copy of Jack Stein's
email. She handed it to Walter who held it out for Maggie to read as well.

"Oh, no. Poor Fox," reacted Maggie with a tremulous voice, "oh, no."

"How could that bastard have done this?" Walter seethed as he pushed the
paper back into Scully's hand. "A God damned email? How could he do this to
him? What gratification does he get out of hurting him like this?"

"Do you think he sent Samantha an email, too?" Maggie asked, not knowing the
answers to her husband's questions.

"If he had, then I can't imagine her having read it yet. She'd have
contacted Fox," replied Scully. "She must not be on call, because the ER
usually contacts her when he's brought in."

"Do you want me to try to contact her?" asked Walter.

"No, I'll page her. I think she should probably hear the news about
Elizabeth from me, assuming she doesn't' know yet," responded Scully.

At that point, the doctors came out of Mulder's room. They discussed new
medications that were being tried in addition to the Tegretrol to stop the
seizures. The medical staff was becoming more and more concerned that the
Tegretrol wasn't doing the job on its own in controlling the episodes.

Since Mulder's seizures have been longer lasting, they also tried the
medication, Diastat, which they gave him about three minutes into the
seizure. It works to control a seizure after it has begun.

Scully nodded her understanding and informed the doctors she was spending the
night. She then turned to her mother and stepfather and suggested, "You two
should take the baby home with you and get some sleep. You can come and spot
me tomorrow."

They both knew better than to argue with her; they'd been in the very same
circumstances all too often to know she would accept no other scenario.
Walter and Maggie said their good-byes and Scully kissed the now sleeping
toddler on her forehead and handed her to Walter. She watched them leave and
then walked over to the nurse's desk.

"Excuse me, would it be possible for me to use your phone to page my
husband's sister, Dr. Samantha Mulder?"

"Sam's your sister-in-law?" asked the young intern reviewing charts.

"Yes, do you know her?"

"Yeah, I just saw her in the cafeteria. I think she just came on duty," he
replied. "I'll get the operator to page her there and let her know she's
needed up here."

Scully nodded her thanks and walked back towards her husband's room to wait.
She did not look forward to telling her sister-in-law the news about her
mother anymore than she wanted to discuss it with her own husband.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"Dana?" Sam called out incredulously. "What's going on? What's happened?"

Scully had remained just outside Mulder's room, as she waited for Samantha to
appear. She didn't want to share the news with her inside of Mulder's room.

"Sam, I'm so glad you're here," Scully said.

"What happened?" Sam repeated. "A seizure?" When Dana nodded affirmatively,
Sam lamented, "Oh God, Dana, he'd been doing so well these last couple of
months. I don't understand! Did something trigger it?"

"Sam," Scully choked out. She didn't know how to break the news. Though
Scully was never enamoured with Elizabeth Mulder, she certainly regretted the
grief her children were going to go through over her death. "Sam," she
repeated, "I think I do know what set it off."

She paused momentarily and then asked, "Have you by chance checked your email
recently?"

"Email?" Sam echoed. "No, as a matter of fact I'd been away skiing the last
couple of days with Eric, and then I came directly to hospital from the
mountains. I've been somewhat out of touch with modern technology for the
last few days. Why?"

"Sam, I'm afraid I have some bad news; it's the same news Mulder read this
morning which is what I'm sure caused him to seize." Scully couldn't bear to
say the words. She knew it was cowardly, but she took the printed message
back out of her pocket and handed it over to Samantha.

"Oh, no!" she gasped. "Dana? Dana, are you sure this is for real? I mean,
there are bastards out there who would see this as a means to get their
jollies off!"

"To tell you the truth, I don't know. I haven't corroborated any of it, as
I'd only just discovered it myself," Scully admitted. "You might try calling
Greenwich."

Samantha nodded and said she was going to do just that, but first she quickly
looked in on her brother. "You'd better go into him. He looks like he's
waking up," she said numbly.

Scully watched her sister-in-law walk back toward the nurse's station. She
turned and walked into Mulder's room.

"Scully?" he called out hoarsely.

She quickly walked to her husband's bedside and grasped his hand. Once again
she turned on the overhead light and leaned down over his face so she could
be sure he could see her lips clearly. "I'm here, Fox. I'm right here.
You're okay. Remember? You had a seizure, and now the doctors are giving
you new medicine to stop them."

His eyes closed reflexively and then reopened just as quickly. He caught
most of what she said, and so he nodded.

"Fox, do you remember what happened back at the house? Do you remember what
you did right before your seizure?" she asked while gently stroking his
forehead.

Once again he closed his eyes, but this time it was a method he used to close
out all other stimuli in order to help him sort out his thoughts. He put his
eidetic memory to work and thought back to earlier that day.

He remembered putting up the coffee so he could take his pills. He
remembered looking at the lights that blinked on and off which signaled
Sarah's awakening. He remembered checking and sending the report to Walter,
and then he remembered he checked his email.

Email.

It suddenly became all too clear what he remembered next. That bastard's
email. He regretted to inform…she died and was cremated….She would be
missed……

"Scully?" he cried out as if in pain.

"Oh, Mulder, I am so, so sorry," she cried out as she sat down on the side of
the bed to gather him into a comforting embrace. "Im so very sorry," she
murmured repeatedly.

At that moment, Sam knocked gently at the door. "May I come in?" she asked
softly.

Scully looked up and motioned her in. The expression on her face told Scully
all she needed to know. The memo held the sad truth of her mother-in-law's
passing. "He's remembering," Scully said in explanation.

Sam nodded and went around on the other side of the bed. She wasn't sure if
her brother realized she was in the room, so she reached out to touch his arm
and called his name. He startled when he recognized the touch as being
someone's other than Scully.

Mulder jerked around to see his sister sitting on the bed with him. "Sam,
you know?"

"Yes," she said as she nodded her head, "I know." She reached out to him and
was immediately embraced by both Fox and Dana. Tears shed easily. For all
of them.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Both Scully and Sam gently pushed Mulder down so his head finally touched the
pillow again. Scully signed to him, "Go to sleep. We'll talk more later."
He was too spent to argue with her, and just after he squeezed both his
wife's and his sister's hands, he fell asleep.

Scully invited Sam to sit down in the other chair in the room. Sam sat
quietly for several moments before she finally found her voice. "I spoke
with him. On the telephone," she said haltingly. "He said __, he said it
was less __, less painful for him to contact everyone by email."

"I'll bet," Scully replied rather vehemently.

"Dana, don't. It doesn't matter how he told us, not really," Sam said in a
voice that held much more emotion than she was willing to admit. "She's dead,
we're all going to have to learn to deal with it."

"You see how your brother is dealing with it," retorted Scully.

"Oh, Dana, please __," she choked out, "she was my mother, too."

Scully suddenly felt horrified when she realized what she'd just done; she'd
totally ignored the fact that Samantha was grieving the loss of her mother.
Scully was absolutely mortified with her own, unfeeling attitude. Her
personal feelings toward Elizabeth and Jack Stein blinded her to the fact the
woman sitting beside her was just dealt a devastating loss.

"Sam," she gasped, "Please, forgive me." Scully knelt in front of her and
embraced her. She felt the grieving woman sob and held on fast. Scully
remembered the helplessness she felt when her own father died; it was not so
difficult for her to identify with her sister-in-law's sense of despair.

She held her in comfort for a long while.

Mulder woke up to find both his sister and wife asleep in the room with him.
He shifted slightly, which was just enough to awaken Scully.

"Sorry. I didn' mean to wa'e you," he said softly, as he didn't want to wake
up Samantha.

"It's okay," she said softly as she signed. "How do you feel?"

"Like a mack truck hi' me, but other than tha' I'm okay." He gave Scully a
determined look. "Dana, I really am okay. I wasn' ye'terday, bu' I am now.
I ha'e to be."

"Oh, sweetheart, I am so sorry. I really am," offered Scully.

"Oh, God, Scully, forgi'e me, bu' I don' think I'm sorry at all."

He closed his eyes and squeezed his hands in tight little balls, as if he
were preparing himself for a torrent of epitaphs. He couldn't believe it
himself; how could he not be sorry at the news of his own mother's death?
What kind of a bastard was he?

"You know, I understand that. Really, I do," Scully answered.

"Yeah, bu' can she?" he asked forlornly, looking over at Sam.

"She'll have to accept it, Mulder. I think, with everything you've gone
through in your life, I think she will. She may question it, but ultimately,
she'll understand, because Sam does love you very, very much.

"But sweetheart, like it or not, you're still going to feel a loss. If not
for the one most people would be feeling now, then for the loss you've felt
all of your life. Knowing you'll never be given the chance to fill that
hole__, that void, in your life, will give you enough to grieve about. And
it's okay to grieve, Fox. It's important to give yourself a chance to do
that."

He nodded mutely to that. Mulder was able to intellectualize Scully's words
easily and understand them quite rationally. Accepting those words
emotionally was the hard part. He didn't know if he could allow himself the
luxury of grieving. If he started, he didn't know if he'd ever be able to
stop.

It was a helluva gaping hole that his mother's lifelong detachment left him
with. Her death was only the icing on the cake.

"I'll help you," said the small voice from the chair.

Since he obviously hadn't heard her, Scully pointed Mulder's attention toward
Sam. Scully whispered, "He didn't hear you. Tell him again."

"I'll help you, Fox. I'll help you through it," she said and signed as well.

"Sam, I'm sorry. I don' feel for her the same way you do; I haven' for a
lon' time," he apologized.

"I know, and that's okay," she reassured. "We don't have to have the same
reasons for our grief, but it would be nice to know that we'll be there for
one another and help each other get through this. Please, Fox, I need you,''
she pleaded.

"Oh, Sam, I'll alway' be there for you." He reached out to her and she
practically lunged into his arms. He then murmured into her hair, "I'll
alway' nee' you, too."

Scully felt the sudden need to tamp down long forgotten feelings of jealousy,
as she watched Mulder accept his sister with such unconditional love. Scully
and Sam's relationship had been strained for a long period of time when
Samantha had first returned to her family; the two women had to work hard at
overcoming their pangs of possessiveness.

Scully found herself waging that little battle once again, but she also knew
she would be the victor, for everyone's sake.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"So, can anyone join this party?"

"Oh, Walter, am I ever glad to see you," responded a smiling Scullly. "He's
feeling better, so you know what that means."

"He's getting ornery as hell, isn't he?" Walter asked rhetorically.

"Hi, Abah," Mulder said quietly and then continued in his own, inimitable
pouty manner, "She won' tell me when I ge' to go home."

"Oh yeah, he's definitely feeling better," Walter chuckled.

"See? I told you," Scully agreed.

"C'mon you guys, s'op actin' li'e I'm no' even here," Mulder complained.

"I'm sorry, Fox," Walter said seriously. "I don't mean to act like you're
not here. I'm teasing you, that's all."

Mulder took in the seriousness of his father-in-law's expression and knew
immediately he was being earnest. He nodded his understanding, but noted the
serious expression remained on his face.

"Samantha stayed for a while last night, but she was on call," Scully said in
an attempt to forestall the inevitable. "She'll stop by later today."

"Well, I hope it's sooner than later," Walter said smiling, "because from
what the doctor just told me, I think they're going to actually kick you out
later today. He told me your meds seem to be at the right levels, and the
monitors say everything is working just fine. And you've been seizure-free
for the last 14 hours or so."

"So, I go home today?" Mulder repeated hopefully.

"It sounds like it's a real possibility," Scully confirmed.

"Than'you! I jus' wanna go home, play with Sarah, an' relax," Mulder said
with a deep, gratified sigh.

Dana nodded and then looked at Walter who looked right back at her. Mulder
observed the interplay with curiosity and a little bit of trepidation. He
knew something major was on their minds, but he wasn't sure if he was ready
to deal with it. Not now, not on top of everything else he'd had to endure
over the last twenty-four hours.

However, he also knew the suspense would probably kill him first, so he
asked, "Wha's goin' on?"

Dana looked at Walter for help. She didn't know how to begin; she knew what
they were about to propose was going to hurt Mulder deeply. That was the
last thing she wanted to do, but she felt they had no other choice, and she
looked to their Abah for direction.

Walter took a deep breath; he realized how Dana felt, since he felt the same
way. But the safety of the baby was something even Mulder would want to
consider.

"Fox, we have something we want to discuss with you. This is important."

"Wai'," Mulder responded quickly. "Dana, di' you brin' my ai's?"

Scully nodded and quickly opened the tote bag that carried her husband's
change of clothes and his hearing aids. She handed them over and watched him
place them in his ears with slightly trembling hands. "Okay," he said slowly
and with extra care, "now, what did you want to talk to me about?"

"Do you have any memory of what happened yesterday morning?" Abah asked
gently.

"I remember typing up the last of the report and sending it to you," he
replied, enunciating each word so carefully it was almost painful. "I
remember putting up the decaf to take my pills with, and I remember checking
my email. I remember having a hard time believing my mother was really dead
and wondering if this was Jack's sick idea of a joke. Then it hit me that
she really was dead." Mulder remained silent for a few moments before he
spoke again.

"I don't remember anything else," he admitted quietly. "What else should I
be remembering?"

Dana turned her head away quickly in an effort to hide the tears that began
to fall without warning. It didn't work.

"Dana? Wha'? Why are you cryin'?" he asked quickly, forsaking the careful
speech in an attempt to get gain an immediate response.

Walter drew Mulder's attention away from Dana so she could regain her
composure. He knew the last thing she wanted was to appear weak and
vulnerable in front of them. "Fox," he called out loudly enough to divert
his attention, but without appearing harsh, "do you remember anything that
happened after your seizure began?"

Mulder's face took on a serious, pensive expression. He was trying to
remember, but he was obviously having little luck. "No, I guess I don't." He
paused and then looked up with some caution and asked with a modicum of
anxiety, "Is there something I shoul' remember? Di' I do somethin' tha' I
shoul' remember?"

Mulder looked at Scully again and saw the sadness in her eyes and the tears
that continued to run down her cheeks. It took but one moment before Mulder
realized what this discussion was all about.

"Ohmigod," he murmured practically to himself. "Oh, sweet God." Mulder next
looked at Walter, his Abah, who by some miracle had come to rescue him from
yet another crisis. But Mulder had never found out how that miracle came to
be.

"Abah, how did you know?" Mulder whispered.

"We received a phone call," he replied evasively.

"A phone call?" he echoed. "But who called?"

No one responded. Neither Dana nor Walter responded, as they both feared
they would break down. The realization of what could have been, had Sarah
not accidentally hit the speed dial to Walter's office, was mind boggling to
them.

Sarah could have gotten into an accident and hurt herself badly, and, of
course, Mulder could have died without immediate treatment. The incredible
chain of events that could have resulted had that little girl not picked up
the phone was almost numbing.

And the sudden intake of air that rendered Mulder totally incapable of speech
was proof to them all that he too realized what he had not remembered. Both
Walter and Dana became frightened when it became obvious Mulder was having
difficulty catching his breath and the monitors started shouting a bit.

Scully was petrified he would go into another seizure when a team of medical
staff came racing into the room. "Talk to me, what the hell is going on?"
demanded the resident on staff.

"He's having trouble catching his breath," she said tremulously.

"I can see that. Why?" he asked succinctly.

"We were talking about what happened yesterday," Walter offered in
explanation.

The doctor immediately shot a mild sedative directly into the IV as a means
of helping his patient gain immediate control and hopefully, avoiding a
seizure. He also pulled down the oxygen and placed the cannula around his
face. The combination of the Valium and the oxygen seemed to be having the
desired effect, and Mulder was once again breathing normally.

"Okay, folks, the emergency seems to be over. C'mon Mr. Mulder, don't' you
want to be discharged today? One more episode like this and it don't look
like that's going to happen," the doctor warned, but with a light hand.

"I'm okay now, Doc, than's."

"Maybe you should get a shrink in here before you go through the details of
yesterday again," the doctor suggested quietly to the two visitors. "It was
obviously traumatic for him."

"Yes, thank you, Doctor__," Scully paused to check the name tag of the
resident on call, "Dr. Lansing. I appreciate your suggestion. I think we'll
be okay now. Thank you again for your quick response," she stated with her
professional demeanor back in full form.

Walter and Dana watched Lansing and the nurse leave, while Mulder simply laid
in bed and concentrated on breathing. Walter and Dana remained quiet. They
realized it was up to Mulder to make the next move toward understanding.

An eternity passed, or so it seemed to Dana and Walter, before Mulder spoke.
But when he did, it was obvious Mulder was more than aware of where their
prior conversation was headed.

"The baby. I lef' the baby alone. Somethin' coul' ha'e happene' to Sarah.
I can' be trus'ed alone with my own child, can I?" he asked haltingly and
with so much anguish.

"Oh, Fox, it's not that you can't be trusted. It's just, if you have a
seizure__, Fox, you have no control over that," offered Scully in an attempt
to comfort him.

It didn't work.

"I don' ha'e control over _anything_ in my li'e, damn it! Nothing!" he cried
out angrily.

"Fox, you're wrong," called out Walter above the din.

"No, Abah. _You're_ wrong," the younger man replied with a vehemence neither
was expecting. The tension in the room was palatable, and no one could think
of a thing to say to deflate it.

Suddenly the door opened and Maggie entered with Sarah in her arms. "Someone
has been calling for her daddy all morning!" Maggie called out in a light,
sing song voice. When she noted the oxygen cannula, she automatically asked,
"What happened?"

The baby, on the other hand, saw only her father sitting up in bed with his
eyes wide open. She called out in her most delighted, two- year-old voice,
"Dah-Dah!"

"No."

All eyes turned toward the man in the bed who was now sitting with his knees
pulled up to his chest and his arms wound tightly around them. Mulder's eyes
were squeezed shut. If anyone tried to communicate with him at this point,
they would fail most miserably.

"Fox?" questioned Maggie hesitantly. She hadn't seen her son-in-law shut
down like this in a very long time, and never had she seen him refuse contact
with Sarah. When she saw no response, she looked at her companions and
firmly asked, "What happened? What is wrong?"

"We discussed yesterday morning's events and the ramifications of those
events," Walter said in his best AD tone.

"Don't you dare go into FBI mode on me, Walter Skinner!" retorted Maggie with
ire. "Now, tell me why my son-in-law refuses to take his own daughter into
his arms."

"Mom," Dana began, "it hadn't occurred to Fox until just a few minutes ago
that the baby was left unattended while he was seizing yesterday."

"So?" Maggie was confused. It was obvious to her that the baby would be
left to her own devices if Fox was having a grand mal seizure. It wasn't as
if it were any great surprise, was it?

And then she looked from her daughter to her husband and it suddenly hit her;
it was a surprise to them. They'd never anticipated that Fox could possibly
have a seizure while he was alone with the baby. And when she looked at Fox,
she realized the thought had probably never occurred to him either.

She immediately walked over to Mulder's bed and tapped his arm with a gentle
firmness; she didn't want to startle him, but she needed him to open his eyes
and be aware of what she was about to say. When he reacted to her touch,
Maggie spoke.

"For intelligent people, you are certainly the most na´ve group I've ever
known," she said in a no nonsense tone.

"Maggie, what the hell are you talking about?" asked Walter irritably.

"Fox, hold your daughter. She's getting too heavy for me to hold," Maggie
instructed.

Mulder immediately took his squirming child from his mother-in-law's arms and
gratefully pulled her into his arms. The child was perfectly content to
cuddle with him for the time being.

"I'm talking about the fact that you never considered that in all the times
Fox was left alone with Sarah, he might have a seizure. What is wrong with
you people? The man had a severe case of meningitis over five years ago and
developed a helluva seizure condition as a result. He takes medication up
the wahzoo, but you never considered he might have a grand mal while he was
watching her? I love you all, but are you crazy?"

Maggie stood there shaking her head in disbelief. She looked over at Father
and Daughter. "Look at them. They love each other and they belong together
and they deserve time alone together. So I don't want to even hear that
you've decided to curtail Fox's babysitting duties. You can't do that," she
concluded defiantly.

Walter was the first to speak. "Maggie, we know how much they love and need
one another. No one disputes that. But let's face facts here; the child was
left unattended for God knows how long."

"And she's fine."

"Yes, but who's to say if she will be next time?" asked Walter.

"She will be," Maggie responded.

"Mom," Dana hesitated. She didn't want to defy her mother; even as an adult
she still felt intimated by Margaret Scully-Skinner. However, Dana also knew
she couldn't allow her mother to have that fantasy view of life. "We simply
can't rely on Mulder to not have another seizure when alone with Sarah."

"Well, of course you can't," Maggie answered incredulously.

"So why are we arguing here?" asked Walter with frustration.

"Because you say the man can't be left alone with his daughter, and I say
that's hogwash."

"Why do people insist upon talking abou' me as if I were a par' of the
furniture? I'm s'ill in the room. Look at me! I'm here!" Mulder called
out and as his voice escalated, the expression on Sarah's face became more
and more worried.

"Fox, you're frightening Sarah!" admonished Scully in voice and sign. "Look
at her! She's going to cry."

Mulder shuddered at the thought that he was responsible for his child's
tears; he was however, still angry at being treated as the invisible man.
"Dana, take her," he pleaded.

"No, Fox. You hold her and you comfort her," commanded Maggie. "Don't let
anyone take that responsibility away from you. She'll be fine, Fox. Believe
me, she'll be fine."

No one moved to remove Sarah from Mulder. She cuddled back into her father's
arms.

"See? She got over that trauma just like she got over yesterday's. Our
family has enough problems to deal with in life without you two making more
of them," proposed Maggie.

"But Mom, yesterday was a fluke," reminded Scully.

"A fluke? Who said it was a fluke?" asked Maggie with surprise. When she
saw the questioning expressions, she continued. "It was no accident,
sweetheart. Just because you didn't foresee the potential problem of leaving
Sarah alone with Fox, doesn't mean I didn't. So, we practiced."

"Practiced?" echoed Walter and Dana. Mulder just sat in bed, holding his
daughter, and tried to follow the conversation.

"Yes, my dears, we practiced. We practiced using the phone all the time. We
used her dolls to pretend with. Mommy would go bye-bye and Daddy would have
a boo-boo __."

"__Holy shit! That's what she was saying over the phone to Kim when we first
got the phone call. She kept saying those very phrases!" Walter turned to
his wife and looked at her very carefully. "Maggie, you taught her to do
that? My God, woman, the child isn't even two years old! What made you
think she'd be able to learn to do that?" he asked.

"She's our granddaughter, Walter Skinner. I should think that was reason
enough."

Walter looked at the baby and couldn't believe what his wife had just said.
He knew he shouldn't, but he was curious. He had to try.

"Sarah," he called gently, "what's this?" Walter pointed to the phone next to
Mulder's bed.

"Tay-fone," Sarah replied.

"Do you like to play with the telephone, Sarah?" When the little one nodded
her head so very seriously, Walter asked, "Can you show me how?"

"I show Sabah," responded the baby, still so solemnly.

First, he pulled the phone jack out of the floor, as he didn't want to pay
charges to Singapore. Next, Walter put the phone on the bed and gently said,
"Show me, Sarah. Show me how you play with the telephone."

And Sarah did just that. She picked up the phone and pressed the keys on the
bottom row and then proceeded to press the numbers on the top row. Then she
waited for a moment or two before she went into a whole story in toddler
speak. And amazingly enough, the child managed to sign her conversation as
well as verbalize it.

"Mama bye-bye.

"Dah-Dah boo-boo.

"Come p'ease.

"I 'Tah-ruh'.

"Dah-Dah hat boo-boo.

"He'p p'ease, okay?"

The baby then turned to a very bemused Walter and said, "All done, Sabah."
When Sarah proceeded to hand the phone back to him, Walter took it and
plugged it back in. There was almost an awed stillness while everyone
absorbed what was just witnessed until Maggie broke the silence to speak.

"Once, she hit the speed dial to our house first," confessed Maggie. She
turned to Fox and continued, "I don't think I've ever gotten over to your
house so quickly before. By the time I arrived though, you had come out of
your seizure and though you seemed a little groggy, you were fine. I came
with the pretence of dropping off one of Sarah's little stuffed animals. You
were still slightly out of it and didn't give it a second thought. I came,
you were okay, I left.

"And I thanked God for giving me the foresight to play telephone with a
twenty-month old," concluded Maggie.

Mulder looked at her with wonder. "You're amazin', Mom."

"No, not amazing. Just someone who likes to be prepared."

Mulder chuckled at that and muttered something to the effect, "Make a good
Indian Guide." But then his mood turned serious and he said, "I's probably
happene' more than these two times, doncha think?"

"Wouldn't be surprised," Maggie said, matter of fact. "But you survived and
she survived." Maggie moved to sit down next to her son-in-law.
"Sweetheart, it's a fact of your life. You have a seizure condition. You
can't shelter Sarah from it, in fact, you want her immersed in it so she'll
always be able to deal with the situation. She's proven she can do that,
even at this young age.

"Now, don't get me wrong. I don't think we should completely ignore the
situation, because Sarah is still young. So, I suppose we should continue
the daily check-ins, don't you?"

Mulder nodded, while Walter and Dana looked at one another curiously.

"We ha'e a sys'em," Mulder explained cryptically to his wife and Abah, and
then elaborated a bit more. "I check in, or she checks in; i's no big deal,
you know."

"No, it's not, but it still gives a father a chance to watch his daughter."
Maggie leaned forward and kissed Fox on the forehead. "I love you, Fox. And
I will hover when you need hovering, but I promise to back off when you need
me to. And I promise to pull them all back with me, okay?

"Than' you, Mom. I'm very lucky to have you par' of my life," said Mulder as
he reached out to pull Maggie into an embrace.

"I'm lucky to have you too, Fox Mulder. Don't ever forget that," she replied
before allowing herself to be pulled into a hug.

Suddenly the phone rang and everyone jumped, startled. "Tay-fone!'' cried
out the littlest Mulder. So when Walter answered the phone laughing
uncontrollably, Kim was heard to say on the other end, "I guess Mr. Mulder is
doing okay, Sir?"

"Yes, Kim," Walter agreed in between chuckles, "Mulder is doing just fine.
We all are."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
End
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