Back to Abah VII: The Visit(1/2)

Abah VII: The Visit(2/2)
by Susan Proto (

Disclaimers in Part 1

Part 5/8

"Where are his hearing aids?" Walter asked when he looked up again.

"No one seems to know," Elizabeth stated.

"Has anyone checked his personal belongings to see if they're in the bag
with his clothes?" he questioned. "He's going to be terrified when he
becomes more cognizant later on."

"What? I don't understand," Elizabeth questioned.

"Mom," Samantha interjected in an effort to explain Walter's concern,
"think about it. Fox can barely hear without his hearing aids and with
all of the noise the monitors make, he most likely wouldn't be able to
make heads or tails out of anything we say to him. Plus the fact that
he's essentially blind for the moment, and can't communicate because of
the respirator.

"Yeah, terrified should just about cover it. Look, I'll go check with the
nurses to see if they know where Fox's bag of personal belongings are.
Maybe the aids are in the bag," Sam suggested.

"Well, Jack, you could always ring up one of your cronies and check on the
tracking devices you like to install in them," said Walter somewhat tongue
in cheek.

"If Samantha cannot find them, I would be happy to do just that, Walter,"
replied Jack, not at all tongue in cheek.

"You didn't," Scully retorted.

"Yes, my dear, I did," he replied.

Scully was so angry the last time she'd discovered Stein had tracking
devices placed inside of Mulder's hearing aids. She had accused him of
spying on him, but, in the end, the minuscule electronic miracles had
helped them locate and rescue him from a very dangerous situation.

Dana again wanted to be angry with Jack, but she was now too concerned
about what Walter had said. If Mulder should awaken and not have any of
his senses available to him, she worried he might begin seizing as a
result of the stress.

Several minutes passed by before Samantha returned with a Cheshire cat
grin on her face.

"I take it you found them, my dear?" asked Jack.

"Yes, Abah," she told him.

Walter's head jerked up when he heard Samantha refer to Jack Stein as
"Abah." Though it did not exactly surprise him to hear her address Jack
by the endearment Walter had assumed as his own, it still disturbed him.

After Mulder's and her recovery from being kidnapped by Krycek, Sam had
lived with him and Maggie for several weeks until she could find a decent,
affordable place on her own. He and Maggie provided her with food,
shelter, and emotional support. Walter also secured her a part-time
position at Quantico in the research department while she pursued hospital

They'd been very good to her. Yet Samantha Mulder saw Jack Stein as her
one and only "Abah." The man who was not only behind her abduction when
she was eight years old, but the very same man who did everything he could
to thwart her older brother's efforts to find her.

It didn't just disturb Walter to hear her call Jack Stein, "Abah."

It hurt.

He was brought out of his thoughts when he heard Sam speak again.

"They were in his shirt pocket," she continued, and then said a tad smugly
to Scully, "I couldn't find the bracelet though. I guess that got lost in
the crash."

Samantha moved over to her brother's bedside and began to place a hearing
aid in his ear. As she was about to reach over to replace the second one,
Scully held out her hand. Sam looked at her with a modicum of annoyance
but handed her the other aid. Scully then placed it back in her husband's
ear. She turned the switch on and double checked to see if Sam had done
the same with the first one. She had.

Scully began to speak gently, if not very softly. "Hey G-Man, it's me,
Scully. Can you hear me now, Mulder? Everyone is here now, and we'd
really like you to give us a signal that tells us you can hear me.
Sweetheart, squeeze my hand if you can hear me. Please."

Mulder was on the edge of wakefulness. He was becoming more and more
aware of his body in space. He was also becoming more and more aware of
every ache and pain in his body as well.

But something was different now, though he wasn't sure what it was.

Suddenly he felt the respirator tube down his throat and desperately
wanted it removed. He started fighting it and began to cough and choke.

"Easy Mulder, don't fight it. You broke some ribs and punctured a lung.
Trust me, you're better off letting it do the work for you right now.
Please, Mulder. Don't fight it right now. We'll remove it later today,
okay? But let it help you now," Scully pleaded.

That's what was different. He could hear the sounds around him.

And Scully.

His Scully was here. He tried desperately to shift his arms but he found
they were still restrained.

Both Scully and Samantha observed Mulder's attempts to move within the
constraints of the Velcro bindings and immediately unbound his hands and

"Why was he in restraints in the first place?" asked Maggie, who hadn't
realized he was tied down. She hated the idea that force and bindings
were needed to control her son-in-law.

"The nurses had said he was fighting the respirator so hard they were
afraid he would try to remove it himself. Then he began seizing, and they
feared he might pull out all of the IV's and the respirator tube. So,
they restrained him," Samantha explained in a somewhat aloof voice.

Maggie, on the other hand was mortified. "Oh, my poor son. He must have
been frightened to death!"

Samantha looked first at Maggie and then at her brother, when Sam realized
she had explained her brother's condition in her usual, detached, doctor's
mode manner. Though she now understood Maggie's emotional reaction, she
wasn't quite sure what to do about it.

"Mulder, can you hear me?" asked Scully. "Sweetheart, if you can hear me,
squeeze my hand two times."

He squeezed two times.

"I love you, Mulder," declared his wife.

He squeezed. Hard. Many times.

"I know you do, G-Man, I know." She paused to raise his hand to her lips
and gently kiss him. A minute or so passed before Dana spoke again.

"Okay, Mulder. Here's the deal. One squeeze is No, two squeezes are Yes.
Got that? One no, two yes. Okay?" Scully asked.

*Two squeezes.*

"Mulder, do you remember what happened?" Scully asked.

*One squeeze.*

"There was a plane crash. You were hurt in the plane crash on your way to
your mother's party. Do you remember?" asked Scully.

*Two squeezes.*

"Good," she said, but before she could continue her questioning, Mulder
raised his left hand to his face and lightly fingered his bandaged eyes.

He squeezed Scully's hand hard with his own right hand.

"Your eyes will be fine, Mulder," she told him.

*Two squeezes.*

"Yes. Your corneas were scratched__," she began, but she felt Mulder
squeeze her hand , not once or twice, but three times.

"New signal, Mulder?"

*Two squeezes.*

"For what?" she asked aloud, but realized Mulder wouldn't be able to
answer her. She looked around the room. "Anyone have a clue as to what
the three squeezes mean?"

Only one voice spoke. "It means 'repeat' what you said, because he didn't
hear you or he didn't understand you."

Dana looked everywhere but at him. She looked back at Mulder and asked
him if three squeezes meant to repeat what was said.

*Two squeezes."

Dana refused to allow herself to think of all the times Mulder, as a
child, was forced to use hand signals to communicate from a hospital bed
with him. It was, sadly, an old routine for them both. Dana finally
looked up again and allowed her eyes to meet the older man's.

"Thank you, Jack."

He nodded in acknowledgment. Scully then continued to reassure Mulder he
would regain his sight.

"I said your corn-e-as were scratched," Dana repeated with exaggerated
enunciation. "It hurts like hell when it first happens, but the eyes are
one body part that heals very quickly. The patches will come off in a
couple of days."

When she asked if he understood, he squeezed her hand twice. Next, Dana
asked if he knew who else was here with him.

*One squeeze.*

"Well, your mother is here, along with Samantha and Jack. Walter and Mom
are here too, Mulder," she added a little anxiously.

Scully knew her husband was going to feel badly enough when he learned his
mother's birthday party was canceled because of his injuries, but she
realized he would be absolutely beside himself when he discovered his
in-laws cut short their long awaited Hawaiian honeymoon because of him.

Mulder's hand laid silently in Scully's hand for a few moments, as if he
needed to first assimilate all of the information before he could
comment. Finally, he simply released his hand from hers, and placed it
under the covers.

Mulder wanted to remain silent for now, and, for the time being at least,
did not want to hear how much pain he'd caused others on this particular

This time it was Maggie's turn to speak. She silently asked her daughter
to trade places with her and, having done so, Maggie sat down and gently
brushed some unruly locks of hair off Mulder's forehead.

"It's me, Fox. It's Mom," said Maggie. Though she didn't actually
witness it, she could actually feel Elizabeth Mulder cringe at her use of
the title, "Mom." It was a title that Fox Mulder had bequeathed upon
Maggie Scully well before he'd officially become her son-in-law, so Maggie
was quite comfortable with it, even if Elizabeth was not.

"Would you believe we never made it to Hawaii, dear? Well, we didn't. El
Nino was just playing havoc with everything. They kept trying to
reschedule us, but just when we thought it was time to pack up and go to
the airport, we would get another phone message telling us we were
delayed, again.

"I think," Maggie continued soberly, "it was God's way of telling us it
wasn't a good time for us to be so far away from home. We were needed
here, with our family, and I, for one, am so grateful we didn't get on
that plane to Hawaii.

"Fox." Maggie needed to pause for a moment in order to regain a little
control over her emotions. She continued with a slightly tremulous voice
and said, "I love you so much. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else but
here, with you, right now. Do you know how much you mean to me? Please,
Fox, you must know how much I love you."

Maggie reached for his hand and held it gently. A moment passed before
he answered.

*Two squeezes.*


6:58 a.m.

The night shift was winding down, and making the last rounds of their
tour. The Charge Nurse, Cindy Chang, peeked in quietly and shook her head
at the large number of people that spent the night in this patient's room.
Normally only the immediate family was allowed in an ICU patient's room,
and for only ten minute blocks of time at that.

But it was a busy night in the ICU, as there were several other crash
victims brought to the hospital and were being cared for. The usually
overworked nursing staff had enough to keep themselves busy without having
to worry about watching a time clock for family visitation.

And the fact that the patient's sister and wife were medical doctors
convinced the medical staff it was in this patient's best interests to
allow the family to remain beyond the usual time limits.

But now, as Chang counted heads, she wondered if the poor guy was able to
get any rest with all of these people in here. Surely she should do her
job and shoo them all out of the room for a while for the patient's sake.

"Errrr, errr," she cleared her throat in an attempt to rouse everyone and
gain their attention. No one stirred except for the one person Chang
hadn't wanted to awaken, the patient.

Mulder had heard someone enter the room, but was still within the throes
of a twilight sleep. However, when he heard the visitor clear her throat,
he woke up completely, and wondered if this person could help rid him of
the dreaded respirator tube.

As soon as he even thought about the respirator, Mulder began to cough and
choke. He was fighting it again. He remembered Scully said it was good
for him, and he knew she was probably right. It's just that he was so
scared he would never get off of the damned thing, he was willing to deal
with the pain of breathing on his own just to be rid of it.

Cindy Chang rushed to the patient's side and tried to calm him down. "Now
Mr. Mulder, it's okay. Please calm down."

"Remove it," said the firm, female voice behind her.

"Excuse me?" Chang said, somewhat startled to hear a voice break the
otherwise silent room.

"Remove the respirator tube. He's conscious now, and he'll just fight the
damned thing, so you might as well remove it now, and get it over with,"
Dana said.

"But, I don't think that would be medically sound, Ma'am," replied Chang.

"I have to agree with the nurse, Dana. As a doctor, I would not recommend
removing the tube before a full twenty-four hours. He needs the
assistance to prevent pneumonia. Surely you remember that from your
medical training, don't you _Dr._ Scully?" declared Samantha.

The others had woken up to see the two young women posturing for position.
Maggie and Walter could see Dana's anger toward Sam building up, while
Jack and Elizabeth focused on what appeared to be Samantha's need to
maintain control over her brother's medical care.

Dana broke the silence by stating in her calmest, but firmest voice, "And
for any other patient, I would agree with you both. But this is not just
any patient, as you well know, Dr. Mulder. This patient has a seizure
condition that is controlled to a certain extent by medication.

"However, as you are well aware of, stress has been known to induce petite
mal and grand mal seizures in this patient. If he begins to feel stressed
out because he is uncomfortable and upset by the presence of the
respirator, he could do himself more harm by seizing, than by the removal
of the respirator.

"Do you disagree with my analysis, Dr. Mulder?" she asked Sam evenly.

"I just think it would be better for him to leave it in for a while," Sam

"Sam, I think so too, but as a physician, sometimes you have to look at
the big picture. He's not ___," she began, but was cut off as she heard
Mulder in obvious distress.

"__Shit! Mulder, it's not necessary for you to prove my point!" Dana
cried out, as she saw his limbs tremor in the beginnings of a grand mal

"Damn it! I forgot he was wearing the hearing aids. He heard us," Sam

Cindy Chang had jumped into action, along with the two women, by
replacing the restraints. No one wanted any of the various tubes and IV's
removed before they were ready to be removed.

Chang had also taken note of the time. If the seizure went beyond two
minutes she would notify the resident immediately. The three medical
experts stood by just as helplessly as the rest of those present. There
was nothing to be done unless the seizure went beyond an acceptable time

Everyone breathed a sigh of relief when the seizure ended after only a
minute forty seconds. Chang checked his vitals once more. She informed
those present she would make a note on the chart that the patient's wife
requested removal of the respirator, and a doctor would be in to discuss
it shortly. When Chang left, Dana
sat down by Mulder's side, but looked directly at Samantha.

"I would appreciate it, Samantha, if you didn't do that again," she said,
deadly serious.

"Did what?" questioned Sam.

"Try to supersede my wishes," Dana responded.


"When I requested the respirator removed, you had no right to try to
overrule me. If you hadn't, we might have avoided this latest episode,"
Scully spelled out. "I don't need you to countermand every decision I
make with regards to my husband's health."

"Go to hell, Dana," Sam replied angrily.

"Oh, well that surely solves everything, doesn't it?" Dana retorted.

"Both of you, stop it!" cried out Elizabeth. "I have had just about
enough of this. You're both acting like spoiled children, and for the
sake of my son's recovery, I wish you would both control yourselves."

"I'm sorry, Mother, but she has no right to talk to me that way," Samantha

"Oh but, yes, Samantha, I do have that right. Every right, when I believe
your actions do not serve the best interest of my husband," Dana declared.

"Dana," Elizabeth responded, "I can't believe you would think Samantha
doesn't have her brother's best interest at heart. That is totally
unreasonable, and perhaps you are not thinking straight."

"I am thinking perfectly straight, Elizabeth. I have been at this a lot
longer than she has," Dana answered.

"What are you talking about?" Sam practically shouted. "I graduated from
medical school around the same time as you, but I at least practice
medicine. You perform autopsies, Dana. That is not practicing medicine."

"Samantha, I earned my MD and have every right to claim it's title as you
do. I work hard in my job and in keeping up with the latest in medical
research. I have the medical background to make sense of it all, thank

"I've had enough reasons in my life to know how important it is for me to
remain abreast of the most recent literature on medical practices,
particularly where it concerns my husband's condition.

"Damn you for thinking otherwise. Damn you for even thinking I would
recommend something that could prove dangerous to my husband's well being.
Damn you for doubting me and my love for him and my concern for his
health," Dana concluded with a small gasp of air. She took another deep
breath in an attempt to control her breathing, she felt so incensed.

"Oh for crying out loud, Dana. Get off of that high and mighty pedestal
you've gone and placed yourself on, because the fall back down to earth is
going to hurt like hell," shouted back Samantha.

"Samantha!" Jack Stein raised his normally even toned voice to levels none
were used to hearing from him. He'd actually agreed with his daughter's
opinion regarding the removal of the respirator, but as much as he loved
his daughter, he had always admired and respected Dana Scully. "I don't
think Dana deserves that tone from you."

"How could you side with _her_, Abah?" Samantha asked with ire.

"I'm not siding with anyone__," Jack tried to explain.

"But Jack," Elizabeth interjected, "Samantha is right and she is a
practicing medical doctor."

"My daughter, Elizabeth, is a practicing medical doctor as well," rebuked

"But her patients are already dead, dear," responded Elizabeth.

"And if we keep let her keep practicing on the live ones, they may be
ready for the autopsy bay too," muttered Samantha just loudly enough for
Dana to hear.

"Samantha, your brother has lasted this long because _I have_ been around
to _practice_ on him. Not like some others I know," Dana retorted

Elizabeth felt the cutting words go right through her. "I was there
throughout the entire time he was going through and recovering from the
meningitis, and I was there when he was recovering from the black cancer
treatment, and I was there when he was recovering from the kidnapping. So
how dare you say I wasn't around to care for my son," she rebuked icily.

Dana Scully returned her piercing glare.

"Well, bully for you, Elizabeth. You finally found it convenient to help
care for your son when he turned thirty-six. Well, where the hell were
you between the ages of birth and thirty-five? Oh, don't look so shocked,

"I've been working on the parts of the puzzle, known as Fox Mulder, for
some time. And from the pieces I've seen, it seems your baby boy has had
to deal with quite a harsh reality known as _his life_.

"He had an emotionally and physically abusive father, a detached and
uncaring mother, a very guilty conscience over a missing sister whom he
had idealized to the point where she became a deity symbolic of
perfection, and a substitute father who was too damned cowardly to stand
up and do what was right for the young man he _claims_ he loved so much.
He was left alone for so long, and now that I and my family have picked
up the pieces and made him almost whole again, you all want to share in
the credit?

"Go to hell, all of you," Dana sobbed in exhaustion.

No one was quite sure who heard it first, but Walter was the first one
over by his side. Mulder was trying to cough and as a result was choking.
Walter saw the monitors beeped erratically in their measurement of his
son's vital signs, and he shouted for someone to get help.

Jack ran out the door first and brought back one of the interns and Cindy
Chang. The doctor pulled Walter out of the way and informed the patient
that he was going to remove the respirator tube.

"Be patient, Mr. Mulder, we'll have this out of you in no time."

There was no need to tell Mulder to cough as a means to aid the removal of
the tube, because Mulder's coughing fit had not as yet abated. Once the
tube was removed, Chang released Mulder's extremities from the restraints.

"Well, Mr. Mulder," Chang began, "I hope you feel better today. I go off
my shift, as of ten minutes ago. I plan on getting all the rest I can,
since I suspect I shall be seeing you again tonight, won't I?" she
proclaimed with just a hint of a smile.

When the nurse had left the room, everyone's eyes turned toward the
patient in the bed.

"Fox, dear," Elizabeth called out, "Are you all right now, son?"

Mulder tried to produce an utterance, but none was forthcoming due to the
extreme dryness of his throat. Scully produced a water glass with a
straw, and placed the tip of the straw between Mulder's lips.

As he sipped and moistened his dry throat, Mulder sensed the extreme
tension in the room. As much as the removal of the respirator eased some
of his concerns, he still felt the stress imposed by all those present in
the room.

Mulder felt as though he needed a break from all of them as much as they
needed a break from one another. He knew he had to deal with it and could
think of only one solution at this given moment.
He moved his head to the side to remove the straw from between his lips.
Mulder rasped out one word, and one word only.


Jack Stein and Walter Skinner rose from their seats.

End of part 5/8

Disclaimers in Part 1

Part 6/8

Their eyes locked as they each stood up from their chairs. Walter
Skinner's eyes bore into Stein's very soul, as if to dare him to even
think about walking towards Fox. Stein was the first to capitulate and
look away, and as he did, he grabbed his coat.

"I think I shall partake in some breakfast. Would anyone care to join
me?" Stein asked in his own, inimitable way.

"Yes, I think that's a fine idea, Jack. Let me get my jacket, and I shall
join you. Samantha, come dear. I'd like you to join us," instructed
Elizabeth. Then, turning to Maggie and Dana, Elizabeth extended an

Maggie realized the last place her daughter would want to be was with her
in-laws, so she politely passed on their invitation, explaining they had
some catching up to do as they'd each been away for the last few days.

Everyone grabbed pocketbooks and coats and left Walter and Mulder alone in
the room.

"They're all gone, aren' they." Mulder said.

"Yes. How did you know?" Walter queried.

"The temperature in the room wen' up a few degree'," he said with a hint
of a smile.

Walter, on the other hand, laughed right out loud and was delighted that
Fox somehow managed to maintain his sense of humor, even in these
unenviable circumstances.

"How are you feeling, Fox?" he asked as he clasped Fox's hand. Walter
felt the need to maintain some kind of physical contact with him since
Walter knew Fox couldn't see him.

"Wha' do you wan' to hear?" Fox asked.

"Maggie nor Dana are here, so let's try the truth, Fox," Walter responded.

"No' too goo', Abah," he whispered.

"Should I buzz for the nurse?"

"No!" he gasped. "No, I'll be okay. Coul' I ha'e some more water,

Walter filled the water glass with fresh water from the pitcher and
replaced the cover and straw. He held it up to Mulder's mouth and waited
for the patient to have his fill.

"Than's," he said quietly as he turned his head away from the straw.
While Walter replaced the glass on the table, he noticed Mulder's mouth
form a grimace.

"What's wrong?" he asked.

"Nothin'. Nothin's wrong," he lied.

"Fox? Talk to me, damn it," Walter pleaded.

"I'm okay. Jus' my hea' hur's a little, tha's all, and my__, " he began.

Walter took hold of his hand again and clasped it tightly. "What else?"

"My eyes. Abah, wha' if I__," he stopped then, as he was unable to even
vocalize the possibility of remaining sightless.

"Fox, Dana said your eye condition was temporary. Your eyes are going to
be fine. Have faith, Son, okay?"

"Okay." He laid silently for a few minutes more and then asked in a hushed
tone, "Do you ever wonder why?"

Walter looked at the man laying helplessly in the bed, and tried to
imagine what Fox was talking about. He finally gave up and asked, "Wonder
about what, Fox?"

"Why shi' always seem to happen to me," he said tentatively.

"Oh." Walter remained quiet for a moment, and then lightly said, "You do
seem to attract trouble like a magnet, don't you?"

Mulder surprised Walter when he removed his hand from his father-in-law's
grasp. When Mulder continued his silence, Walter realized there was an
underlying issue that was troubling the younger man. "Fox, what is it?"

"I'm sorry you misse' your honeymoon because of me," he apologized.
Walter sighed audibly in response.

"Oh Fox, we didn't miss our honeymoon because of you," Walter said. "We
missed it because there was an airplane crash with our son aboard. It's
not _your_ fault. It's no one's fault."

"But why does shi' always seem to happen to me and cause pain for the
people I mos' care abou' ?" he asked sincerely.

Walter knew Fox was being serious and didn't want to brush off the
question, but he honestly didn't know why Fox Mulder seemed to experience
more pain than most people.

"I wish I knew why you have had to go through the hell you've had to go
through, Fox. If I could somehow, miraculously, take it all away for you,
I would. It hurts us to know you have been in pain, that you're in pain
right now.

"But in answer to why the people you care about most must go through the
pain of your illnesses, and accidents, and traumas? Well, maybe it's the
price we have to pay to remind us how much joy you bring to our lives
too," Walter explained gently.

"Abah, no__," Mulder began to disagree.

"__Fox," he cut the younger man off, "you asked, and I'm giving you the
explanation that lets me accept all of the shit you've had to go through
in your life without putting my fist through a wall or a gun to several
people's heads. It's also the explanation I know Maggie and Dana would
agree with.

"Damn it, Fox, weren't you listening to Mom before. She has loved you as
one of her own for so long, I don't think she can remember a time when you
weren't a part of her heart. You gave her hope when there was no hope,
remember? How could she not love you for that?

"And do you really think Dana put up with your crap for all of those years
because she just wanted to do her job and shoot down your theories? She
came to a point in her life when she knew she could trust you with her
life, and in turn, you knew you could trust her with yours.

"Fox, she's been in love with you forever. I saw it so early on and was
amazed that the two of you were so afraid to admit your true feelings for
one another."

Walter stopped and took a deep breath. He knew the next confession would
be the most difficult for him to share.

"And then there's me. Oh God, Fox, you scared the hell out of me. I
don't know why I put up with all of your flagrant violations of FBI
policy, except for the fact that I believed in you and your passion for
the truth.

"And I had to believe in something, Fox, or I would have disappeared. I
thanked God everyday for bringing you to me, because even with all the
shit that hit the fan every time you entered my office, you made me feel
alive. And I loved you for that.

"And when you first became ill, and you allowed me to become a part of
your life, I loved you for that too. I hadn't had anyone who needed me
for a very long time, not since ___," Walter paused.

"__Since Sharon?" Mulder asked.

"No. Sharon never really needed me. She could always rely upon herself.
No, I hadn't felt really needed since Viet Nam. There was a girl__,"
Walter began.

"__Lin," Fox remembered. He then moved his hand back towards where Walter
was seated and reached out. Walter clasped his hand firmly in affirmation
of his response. Nothing more needed to be said for the time being, and
they remained lost in their own thoughts and memories for some time.

They both enjoyed the comfortable silence in the room. The last hour or
so had been difficult for them all, but especially for Mulder. Walter was
grateful for the ease with which the two of them found themselves in the
peace of each other's company.

Some more time had passed, and in fact, Walter thought Mulder must have
fallen asleep. Fox hadn't though, as he was merely taking advantage of
the silence to think.

"Abah," he said, startling Walter out of his own quiet reverie, "wha' am I
goin' to do?"

"To do? About what?"

"My lovin' family," he responded dejectedly.

Walter bit back the urge to chuckle, because he suspected that Mulder was
more upset than he was even willing to admit to himself.

"They've become quite a handful, haven't they?" Walter acknowledged.

"Yeah, they have. Wha' shoul' I do?" he asked seriously.

"What do you want to do, Fox?"

"I wan' to tell them all to knock it off, 'cause I can' deal with their
crap anymore," Mulder replied.

"So, do it. Tell them how you feel. Look, you have enough problems to
deal with already. You, of all people, do not need to add 'ulcer' to your
list of debilitating conditions," remarked Walter.

To which Mulder laughed out loud, but then grimaced in pain. "Damn," he
gasped, "forgo' abou' the broken ribs."

"Look, I'm calling in the nurse to see if they can increase your pain
medication, since you're off the machine. Then I want you to relax,
because if you're going to face off with Hatfields and the McCoys, you'd
better be well rested," Walter declared.

Mulder didn't have the strength to argue, and in fact the nurse did arrive
with new orders. The increase in the pain medication put Mulder in a
fairly restful slumber. Walter sat back down near him, returned his hand
to the grasp of his son-in-law's, and also closed his eyes for a most
necessary respite.

9:17 a.m.

Both families found their way back to the ICU. They entered the room
quietly since it appeared both Fox and Walter were sound asleep. Maggie
placed a paper bag, containing a buttered roll and coffee for Walter, down
on the table.

Dana barely made eye contact with anyone as she quietly moved to the
opposite side of Walter, where he remained seated with his hand still
clasped around Mulder's.

She checked the monitors and decided Mulder was doing fine, and that he
was, indeed, sleeping. She hoped he would be able to get a few hours of
sleep in as the pain would kick in soon enough without the support of the
respirator breathing for him.

Walter stirred as the movement jarred him from sleep. He looked around
and noted that the foursome had returned. Maggie leaned down to kiss him
lightly on the lips. "Brought you some breakfast," she said.

He let go of Mulder's hand and sat up straight. "Mmmm," he responded
groggily, "I think I need to wash up first," and he left to find the men's
room. Maggie watched him leave and then turned her attention to Fox. He
seemed to be resting comfortably, but it was so difficult to be sure
because of the eye patches.

Elizabeth, however, quickly moved to take Walter's place in the chair by
Fox's side. She looked over at Dana and gave her a stern look.

"Is something wrong, Elizabeth?" Dana asked.

"What do you mean?" Elizabeth inquired.

"You seem somewhat on edge, that's all," replied Dana.

"Well of course I'm on edge, Dana. My son is laying in a hospital bed,
broken up in a million pieces, and you wonder _if_ I'm on edge?"
Elizabeth said, her voice rising.

"He'll be okay, Elizabeth," Dana said.

"No thanks to you," Elizabeth mumbled back.

"What?" Dana asked incredulously. "What the hell is that supposed to

"If you hadn't allowed my son to travel unaccompanied, I should think this
whole mess could have been avoided," Elizabeth spat.

"I can't believe you're trying to blame me for Mulder's injuries," Dana

"It seems you and your family are always trying to push him to do things
before he's ready," Elizabeth pointed out venomously.

"Excuse me?" Maggie Scully broke in, "but I must disagree with you on
that point. In fact, if I'm not mistaken, the last time Fox was allowed
to go off on his own, it was with your approval, and no doubt you must
remember what happened that time!"

Elizabeth shuddered at the memory of her son's kidnapping. Though it
resulted in her daughter's recovery, it proved to be yet another traumatic
experience for her already crippled son.

"I was ill. I can't be held accountable for my actions at that time," she
reacted angrily. Elizabeth sat stonily while she held her son's hand just
ever so slightly tighter than what would be considered comforting, which
caused Fox to begin stirring uncomfortably.

Samantha, meanwhile, walked over to the foot of her brother's bed and
checked his medical chart. She noted that more pain meds were
administered approximately forty minutes ago, which was probably why he
appeared to be in a deep sleep.

"Should last another hour or so," she mumbled aloud.

"What should last an hour or so?" asked Elizabeth in an annoyingly louder
than necessary tone and gained the attention of the others in the room as

"Fox's nap," Sam explained quietly. "He was given some additional pain
medication about forty minutes ago. So, I give him another hour or so
until he fights the drugs and wakes himself up."

"Why does he do that?" asked Elizabeth outright with a slight edge to her
voice. "I never could understand why he fought the drugs all the time.
Whenever I take a sleeping pill to ease my pains, I sleep for hours at a
time. My goodness, a simple Valium knocks me out for the night."

"An' you woul' know, Ma', wouldn' you? Than' heavens for Valium, or else
you migh' actually have ha' to stay awake for my childhoo'," affirmed the
raspy voice from the hospital bed.

"Fox, stop! I can't believe you said that!" admonished a wide-eyed

Scully, on the other hand, looked at her sister-in-law in sheer

"Oh, Samantha, why shouldn't you believe it?" lashed out Scully. "You
were too young to remember what your lives were like back then. What
_his_ life was like back then.

"When are you going to accept the fact that Fox only speaks the truth,
Sam. Your brother never did learn how to lie like so many others," she
said accusingly towards Jack. She then turned toward Elizabeth.

"So much for the hour, or so. Nice job of waking him up, Elizabeth,"
chided Scully.

"Scu'y, p'ease. No more arguin'," Mulder implored. "My hea' hur's,
Scu'y. Everythin' hur's now."

"Oh Mulder, I'm sorry. Shh, just rest, sweetheart," Dana soothed.

"I can' ta'e anymore figh'in', Scu'y. P'ease, no more figh'in'," he

"No more fighting now," she promised, as she tenderly massaged his hand.
"Go to sleep, Fox."

They all sat, quietly chastised, while he slept. Walter walked back in
and was surprised to find it so silent. Maggie walked towards him and
handed the bag containing the roll and coffee.

"Fox woke up rather upset," she whispered in his ear. "We're trying to be
quiet so he may sleep." Walter nodded mutely and sat down to eat his


11:36 a.m.

Mulder woke up but was disconcerted when he couldn't open his eyes. He
ran his fingers up towards his eyes again and realized once again they
were bandaged.

"Scu' y?" he called tentatively.

"I'm right here, Mulder," she responded. She heard him sigh in relief.

"When do I ge' to see again?" he asked.

"Day after tomorrow."

"Are you sure?"

"Yes, I am sure," she comforted.

Mulder was silent for a moment or two. He then said, "I's so quiet.
Where is everybo'y?"

"We're here, dear," said Elizabeth. "Your family is here."

"Goo'," he answered. "I ha'e to talk to you all abou' somethin'."

"Do you want to wait until Mom and Walter get back?" asked Dana.

"Wha'? Bu' I though' my mother sai' they were here?" Mulder asked in

"Well, I said your family was here, Fox. I'm here, and Samantha and Jack,
and, well you know Dana is here," reiterated Elizabeth.

"And what about Maggie and Walter, Ma'? Aren' they my family too?" a
weary, but very annoyed, Fox Mulder asked.

"Of course Walter and I are your family, Fox. Why would anyone think
differently " said Maggie as she walked back into the room.

"Of course they are, dear." Elizabeth readily agreed, "It's just that,
well, they weren't here and I figured we could tell them later if it was
important for them to hear. I didn't want you to tire yourself out or
worry needlessly," rationalized Elizabeth.

"Damn you, Ma'," Mulder blurted out with a small sob. "Damn you."

"Fox! How dare you speak to me like that. I don't care if you are
injured, you have no right to speak to me in that manner," she declared

"An' you do, Ma'?" he rebuked. "You do ha'e the righ' to spea' to me li'e

"I did not use expletives when I addressed you, young man," she replied,
so certain that she was the one who was wronged.

"Bu' you thin' nothin' of insultin' me an' my family, Ma'" he proclaimed.

"What are you talking about?" an annoyed Elizabeth asked.

Fox remained quiet as he tried to take in some deep breaths to calm his
nerves. Unfortunately, two badly cracked ribs and a punctured lung did
not make it easy to take deep, cleansing breaths.

Fox Mulder was now in a great deal of pain. But it wasn't just from his

"Where's Abah?" he asked quietly.

"He went to pick up some newspapers. He should be back shortly, Fox,"
Maggie informed.

"I nee' Abah here," he admitted reluctantly. "I _need_ him here, now.
Please," he added, a bit more emphatically. They could all hear the panic
in his voice.

"I'll go find him," Jack offered.

Stein had been feeling somewhat like a fifth wheel ever since Walter and
Maggie had arrived anyway, and this would give him something constructive
to do. Besides, he didn't gain any great joy from seeing how distressed
Fox had become, mainly because he understood perfectly well the cause of

Jack Stein had had no real family he could call his own for a very long
time. When he was a young man, he'd lived vicariously through his friend
Bill Mulder's life. But when Jack discovered his good friend was
physically abusing the young son Jack had grown so fond of, he decided it
was time to stop pretending the Mulder family was his own and simply make
it so.

Unfortunately the goals of the Consortium Project, in which he and Bill
Mulder were so entrenched, put those plans on hold indefinitely. Even
after Elizabeth became pregnant with their daughter during an illicit
affair, the goals and objectives of the project had to come first.

So when Elizabeth so cavalierly included his name within the ranks of the
family, he'd felt uncomfortable, and understood completely why Fox reacted
so angrily. People cannot consider themselves family simply because they
say it is so. People must act the part to prove it so.

As much as it hurt Jack Stein to admit it, he knew Walter Skinner had long
ago taken over the role Jack had abdicated. He watched, over time, Walter
assume the role of Fox's "Abah." In fact, Jack recognized Walter had
become the "Abah" Jack could never be.

Jack knew Walter Skinner would never leave his son.


End of Part 6/8

Disclaimers in Part 1

Part 7/8

Elizabeth Mulder couldn't let it go. She felt the stress of the night and
was now beyond her own breaking point As a result, she continued to harp
on the notion that her son was being unduly cruel to her. She felt it was
unfair that she, and only she, had to bear the brunt of her son's and
daughter-in-law's wrath.

"I am sick and tired of being blamed for every ill and problem you face,
Fox Mulder. You have your choices to make now, just as I had my choices
to make when I was younger. Difficult, impossible choices to make, and I
made them in the only way I knew in order to survive. In order to make
sure _you_ survived!" she cried out.

"And wha' abou' my sister, Ma'? Wha' abou' her?" he lashed back.

"Some choices were made _for_ me, Fox," she said as she looked directly
at Jack. Then she returned her gaze to her son. "Some choices were made
to be sure you _both_ survived. But that was the past, and I just wonder
when the hell you're going to stop living in that past and using my
weaknesses as an excuse for your own inability to move on?" she lambasted.

Maggie was now seething. She couldn't imagine how this woman dared to
call herself a mother, and she felt no compunction about telling her so.

"How dare you?" Maggie castigated. "How dare you blame this man for his
misfortunes. What kind of a person are you? What kind of a mother are

"Obviously not perfect like you, Maggie," Elizabeth retorted. "Surely if
I were as perfect as you I would have a son who was a professional law
enforcement officer and a daughter who was an MD___.

"__Oh, for heavens sake. Could you just die?" Elizabeth cackled
sarcastically. "I do have a son who's in law enforcement and a daughter
who's a doctor. I guess I'm not so imperfect after all, am I, dear
Maggie. I just don't need to flaunt it in people's faces all the time
like you," Elizabeth concluded angrily.

"Elizabeth, you will not speak to my mother that way," Dana said with

"I will talk anyway I__," she began.


Fox was now beside himself. He hadn't realized, until it was too late,
he'd started World War 3, but the last thing he had wanted to do was
consciously pit one family member against the other.

But that's exactly what was happening.

And it was killing him.


And literally.

The machines started screaming their warning beeps as the numbers began to
swell well beyond acceptable levels. The pressure and pain Mulder felt in
his head became overwhelming. He didn't want to deal with it anymore.

He couldn't deal with it anymore.

"__NO! No more! I don' wan' to hear anymore! I can' hear anymore of
this!" he screamed in anger, in frustration, and in pain. He pulled at
his hearing aids and with the same motivation and drive as a premiere,
world series pitcher, Mulder threw the small devices hard, across the room
and against the wall.

Jack returned with Walter Skinner within fifteen minutes. A nurse
followed the two men in after she'd heard the fracas and observed the
erratic numbers on the patient's monitors from the nurse's station. The
anxious looks on all of the faces entering the room were second only to
those already displayed in the room.

"What is it? What's happened?" asked Jack as soon as he entered the room.

"Fox? Fox, what going on?" asked Walter fearfully. He looked at his
son-in-law's extremely pale face, which looked as if all the blood had
been drained away from it.

When he received no response from him, Walter turned to Dana and asked for
an explanation from her.

"I don't know. I mean, I do, but I don't understand how it could have
happened. I don't know why we do this to him," she rambled.

As Scully attempted to verbalize her thoughts, Mulder's body finally
succumbed to the stress. His limbs trembled spasmodically while he gagged
on his own saliva. Jack and Walter both ran over to the bed to try to
offer comfort and assistance.

The nurse met them and quickly, with the assistance of Walter, rolled
Mulder onto his side. Any saliva collected in the back of his throat
would now drain down the side of his mouth.

Once again, all those present had something to be grateful for, as the
seizure lasted under two minutes. It was still enough to fatigue Mulder
greatly, and the nurse, in her infinite wisdom, informed those present the
patient's medication would most likely be revised, since it was obvious
from the ruckus that had just occurred he was not getting the rest he
needed. demanded everyone, save one person, leave the room. She then
ordered everyone, save one person, to leave the room.

One person stayed.



7:27 p.m.

Mulder rose to consciousness slowly. He didn't know what time it was and
was still disconcerted he couldn't open his eyes under the blockage of
the eye patches. He woke up slowly. He felt groggy, so he concluded he
had either a seizure, or was given mega doses of medication, or it was a
combination of both those things.

Though his mind felt fuzzy, Mulder realized he'd probably been asleep for
quite some time. Drugs. Wonderful concept when you wanted to crawl into
a time and place that allowed you to escape your past, present, and
future. Problem was the damned things eventually wore off, and you could
then become either a slave to the drugs or a slave to your life.

He'd always thought cowards chose the drugs, while the brave ones chose
life. There were times he wondered.

It was so quiet. Too quiet, and he soon realized the sounds around him
were all but muted. He reached up to touch his ears and discovered he was
no longer wearing his hearing aids. Suddenly, Mulder remembered he'd
thrown his aids across the room.

Actually, Mulder was pretty impressed with his accuracy and velocity,
considering he was bedridden and blind. Of course, now there was a very
good possibility the two ways he had of keeping in touch with the world
were now, most like, shattered into a million pieces.

Shit. He did it again. Shit.

It was then he remembered the reason for that circumstance, and it was
then when he let escape a small, plaintive moan.

Walter sat up like a shot when he heard his charge stir. He was about to
reach over, to let Mulder know he was nearby, when he saw his son-in-law
tentatively reach up to touch his ears again. Walter then heard him say
out loud to no one in particular, "Maybe it is my faul', maybe I do thi'
to myse'f."

Walter wanted to let Mulder know he wasn't alone, yet he also didn't want
to startle the younger man. For some reason, Walter instinctively knew
Mulder needed to work out his own thoughts and concerns without
interference from him or anyone else. Yet, Walter also felt it was
important for Mulder's family to hear the inner struggle this young man
was going through.

He wasn't sure how ethical it was, but Walter surreptitiously pushed the
call button, and whispered his demands that Mulder's family be brought
back into the room as quickly, but quietly as possible.

When just minutes later the family filed in, Walter put his finger to his
pursed lips mutely instructing them to remain quiet. He then pointed to
his own ear to instruct them to listen, and then pointed to Mulder, to
indicate it was the younger man's words they needed to listen carefully

"Maybe it is my faul'," they heard him mutter. "Maybe I am to blame for
thi? Ma'? Oh, Ma'."

"Wha' am I suppose' to do now? How do I le' go of the pas' when it keeps
gettin' throw' back in my face?

"Ma', you kee' remindin' me of wha' a failure I am. I'm so tire' of bein'
reminde' of tha'. Ma', you make me feel so sad sometime'. So how come
Ma', even with all the crap you pu' me through, I still love you. Why do
I still love you?

"Scu-ly knows why," he sighed.

"Hell Ma', even with the _shit_ Daddy pu' me through, even whe' he
taunte' me, and bea' me, and broke me into a million pieces, I still love'
him. Why? How coul' I still love him? Why woul' I still love him?

"Scu-ly knows why.

"Because he was my _father_. Because you _are_ my _mother_.

"I have to believe in you, I have to believe you could believe in me, or I
woul' really have gone insane.

"But Ma', as 'mush' as I love you, as 'mush' as I nee' you to love me,
you canno' make me choose between you an' the res' of my family.

"I can't do tha' Ma'.

"I won't do tha_t._

"Because if you make me choose, Ma', I will choose my Scu-ly, my Mom, and
my Abah every time.

"Every time, Ma'. An' I know that woul' hur' you Ma', I know, an' I'm
sorry. But they love me, Ma', no' because of wha' I do, and no' even
because of who I am. They love me _because_. Jus' because.

"They do tha', Ma. It's wha' they're suppose' to do, because they're my

"It's wha' family does, Ma'. Jus' because our family didn' know how to do
it, doesn' mean it's the wrong thing to do.

"So don' make me choose, Ma'. I _can't_ choose b'tween the people who are
importan' to me.

"Even Jack. Oh, God. Jack. I remember. Do you know tha' I remember you
now? Finally, I remember all the times you came to me an' picke' up the
pieces, the millions of shattere' pieces my father turne' me into.

"I did love you for tha', Jack," Mulder said with a small smile of
remembrance. Oh God, I needed to love you, because I needed to know there
was someone I coul' love an' who woul' love me back." Mulder's smile

"But then you lef' me, Jack. You lef' me, and the pieces stayed
shattered. I didn' have anyone to pick up the pieces, no' until
Scu-ly came into my life.

"An' when my Scu-ly was taken from me, Mom held me together. And when I
got sick, Walter__, Abah, gave me his strength.

"An' then we got Sam back. Oh God, Samantha!

"I don' know if I could ever, ever, tell you how 'mush' I nee'ed to 'fine'
you. I thought when I foun' you, I woul' become whole again.

"Bu' I discovere' I canno' rely on someone else to make me whole, can I?
You expecte' too 'mush' of me, jus' as I expecte' too 'mush' of you.

"And tha's why the games began, didn' they? An' jus' like Ma', you were
makin' me choose. Ma' wante' to make me choose betwee' her and Maggie,
an' you wante' to make me choose between you an' Dana.

"You know wha's the mos' ironic thing of all? The one person I shoul'
have been mos' afraid of, was the one person who never made me choose.

"Jack," Mulder mused, "you never made me choose between you an' Walter.
Than' you, Jack. God, I love you for that," he said from the heart.

With those words there was an audible gasp in the room. Everyone but
Mulder heard it, yet it was enough to charge the room with a new energy
that was now palpable.

"Oh God, you're here! Oh God, you're here, aren' you?!" Mulder cried out.
"Wha' di' I say? Oh please, Wha' di' I say?"

It was his inability to see or hear anyone's immediate response to words
he wasn't even sure he'd voiced that left him feeling so vulnerable.

He had no way of knowing what anyone had heard, nor was he able to gage
anyone's reaction.

Walter reached out and finally grasped Fox's hand to assure him he was
not alone. Walter then placed the hearing aids in Fox's hands.

"I thought I broke 'em," Mulder said through tears of anxiety.

He slowly placed them back in his ears and double checked to see if they
were turned on. The only things he heard at that moment were the beeping
of the monitors and his own, ragged breathing.

"Please, talk to me," he pleaded, enunciating each word. "Please, talk to
me," he repeated.

No one spoke, and the room remained silent.

Samantha glanced quickly at her mother and saw her blank expression.
Next, she looked apprehensively towards Dana. Sam had never realized
they'd set themselves up to be in competition with one another for her
brother's affections, yet as soon as Fox had pointed it out, she found she
could not disagree. But Samantha wasn't sure she had the words to
rectify the situation either.

Elizabeth sat stunned while her lower lip quivered ever so slightly. She
didn't say a word. She couldn't find the words to say. The years had
taken a toll on Elizabeth Mulder, and it was never more obvious then at
that moment.

Maggie, on the other had, looked first at her daughter, and then at her
husband. She next walked over to Mulder's bedside and took his hand into
her own.

But before Maggie could say a word to him, Jack Stein walked over to the
other side of Fox's bed. Jack, too, reached over and took Fox's other
hand. Stein leaned down next to Mulder's ear and whispered the words
that had escaped the heart of the younger man's mother.

"I love you too, Fox Mulder, and no matter what, I will always love you."

Fox felt Jack Stein's hand tighten around his hand, and he returned the
emotional gesture in kind. Mulder knew he had a new price to pay for

Forgiving a past that fueled so much of his reason for being was not going
to be easy. But he knew it had to be done in order for him to live for
the future.


End Part 7/8

Disclaimers in Part 1

Epilogue: Part 8/8

11:23 p.m.

The eye patches were due to come off early that afternoon. Mulder was
excited and apprehensive at the same time. He kept reminding himself of
Scully's assurances his eyesight wouldn't be adversely affected. But as
the old saying goes, seeing is believing.

His mother had returned to Greenwich the night before. She'd decided it
would be best, for the moment, to put some distance between herself and
Fox. She told him to call and let her know how his vision was once the
bandages were off.

Mulder always marveled at the way his mother could turn her detachment on
and off. One moment she was ranting and raving about how little he
appreciated her, and the next moment she tells him to give her a call and
let her know if he was blind or not.

The odd thing was he was learning not to take it personally. He had his
own coping mechanisms and she had hers. Though his mother often had a
strange way of showing it, Mulder knew she loved him.

Samantha, as well as Jack, went with her, but both had said they were
planning on staying only a few days. They both planned to return to DC
within the week.

His sister promised Mulder she would try hard, upon her return to DC, to
work things out with Scully.

Mulder promised himself, he would try hard to work out his own feelings
about Jack Stein.

"Hey Mulder, it's me," said a familiar voice before she leaned down to
give him a loving kiss.

"Hey you," he responded after thoroughly enjoying the kiss. "What time is

"Soon, Mulder. I promise, soon. But in answer to your question, it's
about 11:30."

"I want the bandages off, Scully. I've got to know if I'm going to be
blind," he said a little emotionally.

"Mulder, how many times do I have to tell you scratched corneas are not
that serious. You're not going to be blind, so just get that thought out
of your head immediately," Scully answered in a slightly exasperated tone.
"God, Mulder, could you be any more dramatic?"

He didn't answer her. He knew he was most likely worrying for nothing.
But he was the one who had been living in silence for a good part of the
time during his hospital stay and in darkness the entire time. He'd
always had a niggling fear of the dark even when his hearing was normal.
Since the hearing loss, his fears had intensified.

He was scared to death of living in silence and being in the dark, all

Suddenly, Mulder jumped at the sound of an unfamiliar voice.

"Hello, Mr. Mulder. Since I was in the neighborhood, I thought I'd stop
by early and check out those bandages. I've no doubt you're probably
ready for them to be off, now aren't you?" asked the Dr. Shapiro, the

Once Mulder got his heart going again, he murmured nervously, "Yes, I'd
li'e to ta'e them off now, please."

"Very well. Now listen carefully. Your eyes are going to be extremely
sensitive to the light at first, so don't panic if you feel discomfort
when you open them, okay?" Mulder nodded his head, and the Dr. Shapiro

"Now, we're going to draw the blinds and keep as much light out of the
room as possible. We'll try to keep the room on the dark side for the
rest of the day, and then gradually add light. If it gets too bright, we
can always resort to sunglasses, okay?" Once again, Mulder nodded his

"Okay. Let's get these patches off then." The eye doctor then proceeded
to tediously remove the tape surrounding the patches. He then, just as
slowly, removed each patch and directed Mulder to open his eyes gradually.

"It hurts a little, Doc," he rasped with his eyes still shut tightly.

"Your eyes will probably feel like they still have something in them, but
that should clear up by tomorrow, Mr. Mulder. C'mon, let's open 'em all
the way up."

When Mulder finally opened both eyes, they were very red and watery. The
doctor proceeded to put in two eye drops to promote the eyes healing as
well as to soothe them. The doctor instructed the Mulders about how often
the eye drops should be taken and left his number if they had any

"Than's, Doc," Mulder said as he watched him wave goodbye.

Next Mulder turned his attention to the lovely redhead standing before
him. "Hello beautiful," he said almost shyly.

"Hello handsome," she replied in kind. "I said you had nothing to worry
about, didn't I?"

"Yeah, but __," he began. "Never mind, Scully. You were right, and I can
see, and now when the hell do I get out of here?"

"Ahh, now that's the Fox Mulder I know and love! Actually, I overheard
the nurses say they were getting a regular room ready for you on the
medical floor. I think they wanted to wait until the eye patches came off
before they moved you," Scully said.

"Could you check, Dana? I'm a little tired of being in a fishbowl all day
and night. And now tha' I can actually see everyone staring at me, I'd
jus' as soon get out of here right now," Mulder exclaimed.

"Okay, sweets. I'll go check it out right now. I love you, Mulder," she
said as she kissed him on the lips.

"Love you too, Dana."


3:39 p.m.

It didn't take as long as Mulder had anticipated for his new room to be
ready. He was up there in time for the afternoon snack and was relieved
to see there was no one in the other bed.

He'd sent Scully down for decent cup of coffee and sandwich from the local

He looked up to see Walter walk in the door. "Where's Mom?" Mulder asked.

"She ran into Dana and decided a couple of deli sandwiches sounded like a
good idea, so she went with her. They're gonna bring us back a nosh,
okay?" he asked.

"Sounds great," he replied with a smile. "You look tired, Abah."

"Yeah, well__. Jeeze, I didn't even notice! You got the patches off.
How do your eyes feel?" Walter asked with concern.

"They feel a little irritated, but the Doc gave me some eye drops that
seem to help," he said. And then Mulder whispered, "But I can see, Abah."

"Was there ever a doubt?" Walter asked lightly, however when he looked
carefully at his son-in-law, he realized the man was very serious. "Fox,
did you really worry you wouldn't see again?"

"I know everyone kept telling me I was going to be fine, but__," Mulder
paused for a moment to try to regain the control that he felt slowly
ebbing away. "__But, I was the one stuck in the silence and the dark. It
was a little scary, Abah."

"Just a little?" Walter encouraged. He wanted Fox to not be afraid of
expressing his feelings to him.

"Abah, I was terrified of the dark," he confessed.

"I'm sorry, Fox. I knew you would be uncomfortable, I just didn't realize
to what extent," Walter apologized.

"Abah, you were there for me, giving me your strength. I made it through
again, didn't I?" Mulder expressed in amazement.

"Yes, Fox. You made it through again," he agreed.

"Abah?" Fox asked softly. Walter nodded and encouraged Mulder to
continue. "We're going to be all right, aren't we?"

"Who, Fox?" Walter asked.

"My mother. And me."

"Yes, I think you're going to be all right. You know your mother has
always done things in her own way and in her own time," Walter stated

"Yes," Fox said and paused for a moment. He then said, almost in a
whisper, "She does love me, Abah. I have to believe she loves me."

"She does," Walter said with conviction. "Of course she loves you, but
Fox, you know she has always had a difficult time expressing it to you. I
don't know why, except perhaps no one ever expressed it to her on a
consistent basis."

"No, not my father, that's for sure. And Jack? Jack loved her. Jack
still loves her, doesn't he?" Mulder asked.

"Yes, I suspect he'd never stopped loving her," Walter confirmed.

"She doesn't always believe it either, does she, Abah," he asked.

"Like mother, like son, I suppose," Walter retorted lightly.

"I don't know what to feel about him, Abah," Mulder admitted

"What does your gut say, Fox?" Walter asked.

"I don't know. I mean, I know he was there for me in the 'pass', when I
was a child. But I think that's what's bothering me. I__, I recognize
Jack was someone who helped me, protected me, when I was a child in nee'
of help, in nee' of protection.

"Abah," he sobbed softly. "I don't wan' to remember when I needed his help
and protection. I don't wan' to remember tha' time anymore."

Walter moved toward his son-in-law and placed his arm around his shoulders
to comfort him. "Fox, maybe it's time to stop looking at the past, and
start looking toward the future. He obviously wants a relationship with
your mother and your sister. I think it's also obvious that he still
carries strong feelings for you, even now."

"I want to believe that, but I'm afraid to trust him again," Fox admitted.
"I believe in you, Abah. I believe in Mom. And Dana. I'll always
believe in Dana."

"Trust in your feelings. Believe in your feelings and in yourself too.
Fox, believe in the future," Walter encouraged.

"Well that's a good idea," chuckled Dana as she walked in with Maggie,
carrying a couple of brown paper bags with heavenly smelling sandwiches.

"Oh yeah?" egged on Mulder as he swiped at the tears which had begun
falling down his cheeks. "And why is that a good thing, young lady?"

"Well, for one thing, the future has just brought you some decent tasting
food instead of that swill the hospital calls edible," answered Dana.
"And for a second thing, the future is looking pretty bright, G-Man."

"Oh it is, is it?" he said. "And why is that?"

"'Cause our future includes a piece of each of us joining our world in
about, oh, say about seven months?"

"Oh really," Mulder answered smugly. However, a few moments passed when
the impact of Scully's words hit him.

"Scu-ly? Di' you jus' say wha' I thin' you jus' said?" he asked

"Mulder, obviously you understood what I was saying 'cause you got
yourself all hot and bothered and you're dropping your word endings

"__Oh, wait a minute, you getting all hot and bothered is what got us in
this predicament in the first place!" Scully giggled.

"Scu-ly! Ohmigod! Scu-ly! I'm gonna be a ___?" he was so in awe at the
thought of it, he didn't want to break the magic to say it aloud.

Dana nuzzled up close to her husband's neck and murmured lovingly in his
ear, "Yes, you are, Daddy."

Pandemonium broke out between the future grandparents.

Fox looked around him and smiled.

It was time to believe in the future.


End of 8/8

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