Subject: Barbecue Series 11: Medium Well NC17
Date: Wed, 5 May 1999

Category: Story, MSR, M/Sk friendship,
MulderANGST, MulderTORTURE,
WARNING: SEXUAL ABUSE (BOTH PAST/PRESENT)
(PLEASE! READ THE AUTHOR'S NOTES TO AVOID MISUNDERSTANDING!!!)

Rating: NC-17 for graphic situations/descriptions.

Spoilers: None really for the show; you might need to fill yourself in for
the series however. (Thanks to Shirley Smiley, the series may be found at
the Susan's Garden Site at:
http://www.geocities.com/Area51/Chamber/4819/index.html

Summary: A former nemesis returns.

Archive: Yes/ Please keep my name and ALL WARNINGS attached.

Disclaimer: The names you recognize belong to 10/13 productions and Chris
Carter. I'm just borrowing them. I won't keep them. At the end of the
story you can have `em back, I swear, (unless you *want* to give `em to me.)
All other characters belong to me, and if Mr. Carter wants to borrow them,
all he needs to do is ask. <grin>

AUTHORS NOTES: For those familiar with the Barbecue Series, I feel it only
fair to warn you: 'We're not in Kansas anymore, Toto.' This is not the
typical Susan Proto Barbecue Series Story. It is, in fact, rather atypical
for this series, since the situation Mulder faces in this plot line is a
great deal more graphic in terms of his (yes, my universe's) abused past.
This is a dark one, folks. Please, if this line of plot disturbs you on any
level, I won't be insulted if you skip this one in the series.

Though this story was written in response to several requests I'd received
regarding a specific character in the universe, it would not be imperative
for you to read it to understand successive, future stories.

So, let me repeat, if you are at all uncomfortable with ChildAbuse and/or
MulderAbuse story lines, please, DO NOT READ!!!!

Okay, Vickie? I made sure there were no surprises, right? Thanks my friend,
for helping me with the minutia as well as the big picture.

Okay. Now, if you're ready, so am I! I eagerly await your response. Thanks
in advance! STPteach@aol.com

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

The Barbecue Series 11: Medium Well
by Susan Proto (STPteach@aol.com)

Part 1/5

I hear the door to the office open and figure out immediately who it is
without even taking my eyes off of the almost complete report in front of me.

"Mulder," Skinner begins with a hint of exasperation, "aren't you ready yet?"

"Sorry, Sir," I say, "I just need a few more minutes to complete this report.
I've got this rather demanding boss who will have my head if I don't have it
ready for tomorrow."

"I said that?" he asks in an almost surprised tone.

"As a matter of fact, you did," I respond.

"But it's Memorial Day Weekend," he mutters just above a whisper, more for
his own benefit, I believe, than mine.

"No shit," I mutter in kind, but then in a voice meant for his ears, I say,
"I'm almost done. Just give me a few more minutes, and I'll be ready to
e-mail it up to your office."

It's Monday. Memorial Day. And most normal people are enjoying the time
with friends and loved ones. I, on the other hand, spent the entire morning
working on completing the report of our last X-File. It was pretty cut and
dry, actually, and Scully figured even I couldn't screw up the report. Which
is why I am here, writing it by myself, while my partner's been staying in
Baltimore helping her mom with the last minute details for the annual Scully
Memorial Day/Birthday Barbecue Bash.

It's bad enough my car decided to die on me this morning, and Scully insisted
it was ludicrous for her to drive all the way back in to Georgetown just to
give me a lift to the office. (Which of course it was, but I was feeling way
too sorry for myself and had decided to whine about it anyway.) I told her I
could take the metro into the office, but that I needed a way of getting to
the party after I'd finished the report. She told me she'd take care of it.

Brother, did she ever.

She'd called the AD, who probably works seven days a week anyway, and managed
to convince him to let me hitch a ride with him to Baltimore. Well, not
exactly my ideal method of getting to the party, but Scully wasn't about to
give in on this one either.

"Mulder," she gasped in that annoying manner when she knows she's right, and
she knows _I_ know she's right, "don't argue with me on this one, okay?"

So, here I am, watching Skinner wait impatiently for me while I finish a
bloody report he's requiring me to complete over a three day holiday weekend,
and damn him if he's not making me nervous. Shit.

"Sir, why don't I meet you up in your office?" I ask innocently.

"What?" he asks as he looks up from one of the multitude of Lone Gunmen
magazines I have piled up in the corner. "Oh, no, I'm all caught up. Get on
with your work, I'm okay."

"Glad your okay," I mutter to myself. I feel my fingers making typo after
typo. I can't help but wonder why this man makes me so nervous lately.

Of course I know why. He's become as much a part of Maggie Scully's life as
I've become a part of Dana Scully's personal life. I can't help but wonder
if it's a good idea for our boss to intrude on our personal life like this.
Of course, it could also be that it casts an occasional doubt on whether it's
a good idea for Scully and I to be involved beyond the professional.

Trust me, though. It's very occasional, and very fleeting. It flees about
the very moment I wake up next to her and feel her beautiful, soft, and very
enticing body wrapped up inside of mine. I love the woman, and no matter
what, I could never leave her. Never. But there are times I still find
myself worrying that maybe, just maybe, she might consider leaving me.

But, realistically, I know that won't happen either. Only in my nightmares;
only in my nightmares does that ever happen.

But now I'm sitting here trying to get these last few paragraphs knocked off
so we'll be able to attend Mom's party. Mom. I can't believe it's a year
since she told me to call her that. Time flies when you're having fun
falling in love with the most wonderful woman's most wonderful daughter.

Must be an X-File. I must chuckle out loud at that since I hear Skinner
comment, "I hope the report amuses me tomorrow morning as much it does you at
this moment."

"Sorry, Sir. It's umm, well, it's nothing to do with the report. Sorry, my
mind just wandered a bit. I'm almost finished," I reply with a little
trepidation. I make my fingers continue to bang out the report, while I look
around at my boss every few minutes to observe what he's doing.

I notice he's finished rummaging through the LGM magazines, and now he's
taking in the bulletin board with the 'I Want to Believe' poster tacked onto
it. He seems to be studying it rather judiciously, when I notice him
fingering a couple of items tacked on near it.

Sam's picture. And Scully's. He takes note of them and then moves on to a
few of the clippings I'd tacked on from the rag, The Inquisitor. Doesn't
matter that everyone and their mother thinks it's nothing but trash; the damn
thing has had some solid leads on some past X-files. I hear Skinner sighing
a bit. Shit, he's getting impatient.

I earnestly concentrate on the last couple of paragraphs of the report, and
finally, triumphantly, announce I'm finished. All I need to do is a spell
check, and I can send it on its merry way.

"Fine, Mulder. Spell check. Then hit send, okay? Maggie's expecting us,"
he chides.

I nod my assent and do the spell check. I've come to realize I'm really a
lousy speller. I mean, even when the spell checker doesn't recognize I've
spelled something wrong, I'm one of those people who can't for the life of
them remember when to use effect versus affect or than versus then. Makes me
crazy that I have to think so carefully about those kinds of things.

Anyway, while I'm wading through my misuses of to, too, and two, I hear the
doorknob jiggle. I can't imagine who else would be down here today, so I
look curiously around at Skinner who seems to have the same question on his
mind judging by his expression.

When I turn back around to the door, I practically jump out of my skin when I
see who it is.

Diamond. Albert Diamond. Waving a rather large revolver in his hands
towards us.

And now I suspect my face is a lovely shade of alabaster.

"Why, if it isn't the lovely Special Agent Fox Mulder," the bastard says with
a hint of venom. "But where, oh where is the delicious Special Agent Dana
Scully, MD?"

"Don't." That's all I can get out. One syllable. But in my mind, I'm
screaming a multitude of exhortations.

"Mulder?" I hear Skinner's voice, and I quickly realize he doesn't have a
clue as to who this bastard is. This low life. This sonofabitch who
treated small innocents as if they were slabs of beef.

Oh God. The images come flashing in my mind and, though I don't want to, I
feel sick to my stomach. I work to keep myself in check, and venture to
answer Skinner's question.

"Meet the man who single-handedly managed to obliterate my appetite for red
meat." I look at Skinner at this point and see his momentary confusion, and
then, as if a light bulb goes on, his understanding.

And we both look at one another and come to the same realization.

We're up shit's creek, and there's no paddle in sight.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
End of part 1/5

The Barbecue Series 11: Medium Well
by Susan Proto (STPteach@aol.com)

Disclaimers in Part 1
PLEASE READ RE: GRAPHIC WARNINGS

Part 2/5

"So, who's our follicley-challenged friend here?" taunts Diamond. I cringe
in fear of Skinner's reaction to that particular jibe.

"I'll have you know I'm _" he begins to bluster.

"__WALTER," I cut in quickly. "Agent Walter," I say, and hope I've recovered
quickly enough. I look at Walter now and use my eyes to plead with him to
follow my lead. C'mon, Walter, give me this one. Please. I dive in.

"He's my new partner," I continue. Skinner looks as if he's about to choke
on his own saliva. Shit, Scully's a better actor than he is.

"New partner?" echoes Diamond incredulously as he continues to hold his gun
steadily on us. "How long?"

"Yeah, new partner. Agent Walter replaced my former partner." I am trying
so hard to keep my expression even. I don't want to give this sonofabitch a
hint there's anything still between me and Scully. God, this is so damned
hard.

"I don't know. Few weeks I guess," I respond as nonchalantly as possible.

"So? Why?" Diamond asks.

I look at him and pretend to play dumb, but I know I won't be able to stall
him for long. "What do you mean?"

"Why'd she dump you?" he asks.

God, that pisses me off. I mean I know I'm not exactly in any kind of a
position to be pissed off with this asshole, but, what the hell makes him
automatically assume she'd dump me? Why wouldn't he have assumed I dumped
her?

Then I do a reality check. Okay. So she'd dump me.

"Umm, I don't think I want to go into it with you," I confess, knowing all to
well he will not let me off the hook. Actually, that's my plan. Yeah,
believe it or not, I have a plan. Albeit a small one, but at least,
hopefully, it'll keep Scully out of danger.

"Excuse me, Agent Mulder, but it seems to me I'm the one who has the gun,
right? So, why don't you tell me why the lovely Agent Scully wanted to leave
you."

Jeeze, I know it's not true, yet I still shudder at the words spoken aloud.
I must have been very convincing, because Diamond says, "Look, how about I
let you think about it while you and Agent Baldy here relieve yourselves of
your firearms. Oh, and Mulder, I want the one you keep around your ankle,
too."

Skinner and I both pull out our weapons and place them on the spot of the
table Diamond is pointing towards. Then I hear him say, "Thank you, Agents.
Now, Mulder, tell me why our fair haired princess pulled up stakes."

It is really, really bothering me the way Diamond keeps referring to Scully
as a sexual object. It's unnerving me more than I want to let on, so I find
myself really concentrating on keeping my voice in check.

"It was my fault," I say softly. Even Skinner looks at me with some
curiosity. I guess he wants to hear how my little scenario plays out as
well. "I wanted our partnership to extend into our personal life as well as
our professional life. Agent Scully did not and felt uncomfortable in
remaining partnered with me. She is now out of town."

Well, she is out of town. She's in Baltimore with her mother. I just hope
there's a way of keeping her there without Diamond finding out.

"So, you wanted to jump her bones, and she wouldn't put out, eh, Mulder?
God, what a bitch!" he chuckles.

I, on the other hand, want to put my hands around that scrawny neck of his
and squeeze every last drop of laughter from his throat.

"Don't," I growl. Even if the situation is pretend, I still can't help
defending Scully's honor.

Diamond actually shuts up for a moment, which allows 'Agent Walter' to join
in the conversation. "Aren't you supposed to be in jail, Diamond?"

"Supposed to be?" he retorts with a jeer. "Let's just say I see myself as
supposed to be allowed a life."

"Yeah, just like the children_," I begin in retort, but I cut myself short
when I see the man's eyes grow dark at my words. I don't think I want to
antagonize him at this point. I don't know what his mind set is, at least
not yet.

Diamond takes a breath and chooses to ignore my interruption, and says, "But
in answer to your question, yes, I was sentenced to a prison term."

"So, what happened? You were released on a loophole?" I ask innocently. I
know I'm a smart guy, but sometimes I am so damned na´ve.

"Oh yeah, sure," Diamond begins sarcastically. "Like I was able to afford
one of those high priced lawyers who could get me out on a technicality.
Don't make me laugh.

"No, Agents Mulder and Walter, I decided the time was right to go for a walk.
And it was, so I did."

"You escaped from prison?" Skinner asks incredulously. "It was a maximum
security prison, wasn't it?"

"Yeah, but I decided I got sick and tired of the joint." He looks at us and
smirks at both Skinner's and my confused expressions. He then explains, "One
of the guys on my cell block had to go to the hospital for an emergency
appendectomy last month. Well, when he finally got back he described the
whole thing.

"Sometimes," Diamond continues, "there were three guys watching him, but
sometimes there were only two, and a couple of times there was only one.
Kept saying, if he weren't so damned sick, he'd have been able to make a
break for it. Well, it got me to thinking. What if what Andy said was true;
he could have made a break for it if he weren't so sick?

"I figured I'd test out the theory, so, I got 'sick.' I guess I should win
an academy award, or something. They had me in the infirmary for a couple of
days, but I was still in a lot of pain, ya know?"

At this he starts laughing. I think it would be a very good idea for me to
punch the sonofabitch right in the face about now, but instead, I sit with my
hands squeezed into fists. Waiting at the slightest opportunity to take this
bastard out.

"Anyway, they finally decide to transfer me to the hospital. I heard the
prison doctor talking with the warden that he didn't want no malpractice suit
brought against him if I really was sick. Imagine that? The doc was afraid
I'd sue him. Too bad I'm not really sick; maybe I could have found a way to
sue him anyway?

"Anyway, they get an ambulance to transport me to the hospital, 'cause I am
now moaning and groaning with the best of them. They only got one guard on
me, since there was a paramedic and the guy driving the ambulance. Idiots
figured three men could watch me; after all, I'm in a lot of pain, ya know?"

He starts laughing again. I look over at Skinner who seems to be having just
as difficult of a time in keeping his emotions in check as I am. I unclench
my fists, but immediately ball them up again. It's reflex, I guess.

"So I hear these guys pissing and moaning about having to work on the holiday
'cause they're low men on the totem pole, ya know? Well, when we got to a red
light, I decided it was time. Would you believe how easy it is to fake a
seizure? I started trembling and shaking and then I started thrashing about.
The paramedic insisted the guard uncuff me, cause he was afraid I was going
to cut myself.

"Well, I decided I needed to make this look real, so I started pulling a
little harder on the cuffed wrist, and sure enough, I started bleeding. The
paramedic got pissed and demanded I be uncuffed. Well, as soon as I felt the
cuff released, I guess you could say that was my cue."

I'm watching his face now. He's actually flushes with excitement at what
he's going to say next. This guy is getting off on what he's done. Oh,
sweet Lord, what has this bastard done?

"I bolted upright and threw two very quick punches to stun them. Then I see
the guards gun was just waiting for me to grab it, so I did. Paramedic
moved, silly boy. Afraid I had to shoot him. Of course then I had to shoot
the guard too, 'cause I didn't want no trouble from him. Then I got out and
put a bullet through the driver's window. Couldn't take a chance they'd
follow me, now could I?"

"You know they're going to be looking for you, don't you?" Skinner asks.

Diamond smiles. He actually has the audacity to smile at the AD and the I
suddenly realize what he's smiling about. I look at Diamond with some
semblance of awe. The man is a detestable scumbag, who doesn't deserve the
opportunity to breathe another breath, but the man is intelligent.

Too damned intelligent.

"Of course they're going to be looking for me, Agent Walter. But I doubt the
first place they'd be looking for me is the Federal Bureau of Investigation,
do you?"

His plan is so simple, yet so flawless. Even more so considering it's a
holiday weekend, the AD has already checked out for the day, and I rarely, if
ever, get visitors down here in the basement.

Skinner simply shakes his head slightly. I suspect he realizes we're in a
bit of a bind here too.

"Okay," Diamond continues, "now that I've answered your question, it's only
fair that Agent Mulder answers mine. Where'd she go?"

I hesitate here, because I don't want this bastard to have a reason to start
tracking her down. Damn it, I'm not sure which way to go with this. I open
my mouth to give him some half assed answer when I hear, "RINNNGGGG."

Talk about being saved by the bell. I look at Diamond and ask if I can go
pick it up. He nods and I lean over to pick up the receiver on my desk.

"Hello?"

"Oh, Fox! Dana said you'd still be at the office, but I didn't believe her.
I can't believe you haven't left yet!" admonishes Maggie Scully.

"Hi, Mom. I'm sorry, but I got tied up here with something. I'm really
sorry," I say with a calmness belying my shaking knees.

"Well, what time do you think you'll be able to get away?" she asks
anxiously.

I hate this. It's not only Mom's annual holiday barbecue, but it's her
birthday celebration as well. The last thing I want to do is ruin her
birthday, but I don't want to frighten her either by indicating Skinner and I
are in danger.

Of course the fact we are in danger doesn't elude me, but I'd rather not
share that news with Mom at the moment. Scully, on the other hand, is
another story. C'mon, Mom, read my mind and put Scully on this damn phone.

"Fox, Dana is going to tear my ear off if I don't put her on." Wow. The
woman is a mind reader. "Talk to her," Mom says in a tone that suggests
she's more upset than angry. And now I wait, because I know the next voice I
hear will definitely be more angry than upset.

"Mulder, where the hell are you and the AD? The guests are due at any
moment, Bill is about ready to come over and strangle you himself, Charlie's
doing his best to keep Bill in line, and Tara and Karen are about ready to
tie me up as well because I think I want to join Bill!"

Now that's a scary thought. Angry, I expected. Teaming up with the Devil
child is something else entirely.

"Listen, _Mom_," I say with only a hint of emphasis so Scully will,
hopefully, realize I know perfectly well she's not Maggie. "I am sorry, but
something unexpected came up which prevents Walter and me from leaving at the
moment."

Even Skinner's eyebrow perks up at the nonchalant use of his first name. He
knows; hopefully Scully will recognize the oddity too.

"Mulder? Are you okay?" Well, she picks up on something.

"I'm fine. Look, something came up that needs our attention. I'll be there
as soon as I can."

"Isn't the AD coming with you? Mulder, I'm totally confused here. What the
hell is going on?" Oh, Scully. Please, pay attention here. Read between my
words, cause I'm starting to get a little edgy. Diamond's not going to let
this little conversation go on forever.

"Yes, of course, but Agent Walter and I need to __," and at this I hesitate
for a moment, as I wonder if I should chance continuing with what I'm about
to say. Oh what the hell. "__check out an old case."

"An old case? Mulder? Something's wrong, isn't it?" Scully asks with a
little agitation.

"Of course, Mom. I know you're disappointed, but you understand, don't you?
It's my job." You're getting warmer, Scully. Keep going G-Woman.

"Mulder, someone's there? Are you in danger?"

"Mom, you know me too well. You know I can't leave this unsettled. I
promise, I'll be there as soon as I can," I say.

"Which case, Mulder?"

"No, it won't take me a year and a day to get this taken care of, Mom.
Please, just be patient a little longer. I'll get there as soon as I can," I
say with hopefully enough finesse that Diamond is not suspicious. Frankly,
I'm amazed he's allowed me to converse this long.

"A year? Mulder, the case is about a year old?"

"Yes, Mom."

"Mulder, who is it? Who's got you in danger?" At this point, I look at
Diamond who is decidedly getting more and more fidgety. He's definitely
going to cut me off soon. Oh, God, too soon. I've got to let Scully know
who has Skinner and me hostage. And then it occurs to me just how to tell
her.

"Look, Mom, I've got to get going and deal with this if you ever want me to
make it over to you. Just keep the charcoal hot on the barbecue and save a
nice, fat, juicy steak for me, okay? I'll call you later," I say.

"Ohmigod, Dia ___?" I hear her begin to say it, but I cut her off. I'm
afraid Diamond is going to grab the phone from me, and I don't want him to
know I've just spoken to Scully. I've got to protect her for all I'm worth.

If she can help from the outside, that's fine, but I don't know if that's
even possible at this point. Policy is, there's no negotiating for an
agent's life. Not even an Assistant Director's.

Why do I feel as if I'm staring at the proverbial creek again, without even a
boat in sight?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
End of Part 2/5

The Barbecue Series 11: Medium Well
by Susan Proto (STPteach@aol.com)

Disclaimers in Part 1
PLEASE READ RE: GRAPHIC WARNINGS

*****Sexual Abuse Warning*********

Part 3/5

I'm not sure what tact to take next and keep wondering when my damned FBI
training's going to kick in. I know I should know what to do, but at the
moment, I'm drawing a blank.

Thank God for Skinner. I may not always like the man personally, and I may
not be totally comfortable with the relationship he's developing with Maggie
Scully, but I know the man's not an idiot.

Well, he's not usually an idiot.

All we have to do is avoid situations which place only himself in dire danger
or my partner in potentially deadly straits. Since he's not totally alone in
this office, and my partner is no where to be seen, I suppose I can safely
assume he's not going to behave like an idiot.

So at this very moment, when I observe him look at me, and then at Diamond,
and then back at me, I know he's got something in mind. I have to wonder
what it is, since Skinner seems a little wary, but then he asks Diamond, "So,
what got you sent up anyway?"

Oh, jeeze. Skinner looks at me quickly with an expression that both exudes
compassion and pleas for absolution. I think I'd like to risk going for my
gun and taking a shot. I'm just not sure who I'd shoot. Diamond, for
obvious reasons, Skinner for opening up this can of worms, or myself, so I
could avoid having to listen to the details all over again.

I shudder ever so slightly; I can't help it. The thought of reliving the
Diamond case is not a comforting one from any stretch of the imagination, but
I also know Skinner was absolutely right in asking the bastard the question.

He probably just bought us some time. If there's one thing a serial killer
loves, it's sharing his exploits. And Albert Diamond certainly had enough
exploits to share. The more Diamond talks, the less likely he'll take the
time to harm his hostages.

That would be Skinner and me.

So, as much as I don't want to hear any of what Diamond shares, I know it was
the best path to take. Hopefully, Diamond will nip at the bait.

"You don't know?" asks Diamond incredulously. He honestly believes it
impossible someone wouldn't know of the atrocities he'd committed.

"Hey, I'm new," replies Skinner.

"Where've you been hiding the last year? A cave?" Diamond asked
sarcastically.

"Philadelphia," responds Skinner dryly.

"Close enough, I guess," retorted Diamond. "Get comfortable, Agent Walter.
Boy, do I have a nice little fairy tale for you."

He notices my slight squirming and says, "Oh, Agent Mulder, you feel free to
jump in anytime to correct anything I might misremember. Though I can't
imagine that happening. I remember every last detail as if it were
yesterday."

Skinner looks over at me and practically begs for my forgiveness with his
eyes. I close mine for a mere second and then try to smile slightly in an
attempt to let him know I understand why he did it. I nod, and Skinner
acknowledges me with a slight tipping of his head. He then turns his
attention back to Diamond, and says, "So? Tell me a bedtime story."

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

Diamond took some of the time to talk about his parents, particularly his
mother, and about how she'd insisted he take a bath in the morning and at
night.

Every single morning. Every single night.

And he described how she'd scrubbed him down with rough rags to cleanse him
of the sins he was born with, as well as those he'd committed during the day.

It didn't matter, he related, that he'd told his mother he hadn't committed
one single sin, because she'd said the baths would then be good to help clean
him of the sins he was going to commit.

Next, there was his father who took it upon himself to try and absolve
himself of any of his own sins by forcing himself onto his son.

Oh, yeah, this guy's parents were the Devils reincarnate, and if any pair
could create a serial killer, these two could. And did. And if it weren't
for the fact that I saw what this bastard had done to those innocent kids, I
could have almost felt sorry for him.

I said _almost_. But the sonofabitch still had some free will within him.
He was perfectly capable of seeking help instead of kidnapping and torturing
innocents.

But he didn't.

He lived through the hell his parents put him through, and chose to pass that
hell on to others more pure and untainted than he could have ever hoped to be.

"So, when did you decide to commit your first murder?" Skinner asks in an
attempt to keep our keeper talking.

"You ask as if it was a conscious decision on my part, Agent Walter," Diamond
answers with some surprise.

"Wasn't it?" I ask harshly as if on auto-pilot. If I could take the words
back I would, but since I can't I ball up my fists to keep myself from saying
any more. I don't want to antagonize this man, since I know he has the
capability to be as crazy as he wants to be. I certainly don't want him to
prove just how crazy that could be with the AD and me as his guinea pigs.

"No, Agent Mulder, it was never a conscious decision on my part to do that to
those children," he says evenly.

"Tell that to their parents, Diamond," I retort quickly, again without
thinking. Shit, I am going to get myself and the AD killed if I don't stop
making this so damned personal.

It's just that I got to know some of those parents, one couple in particular.
I think of Ira and Carol Jacobson, and I wonder if I could ever survive the
loss of a child as they were forced to do. Erica was seven years old and the
absolute light of their eyes. She was a little beauty; she had dark, brown
hair and the bluest eyes. They were even bluer than Scully's if that's
possible. The child had an olive complexion that reminded me of a desert
princess. She truly was a beautiful little girl.

She reminded me a little of Sam. It wasn't so much her face as the fact that
Erica was all arms and legs, much like Sam was at her age.

When we finally discovered where Diamond was, we entered with such
trepidation because we didn't know what we would find. And even though Erica
was dead, I was so relieved to see her; I mean in the condition she was in.
Diamond hadn't skinned her yet. I knew I wanted to find her before the
bastard did that to her; I wanted her parents to be able to say good bye if
it came down to that.

He'd molested her, and he'd abused her, but he hadn't skinned her yet. He
hadn't left her hanging on a God damned meat hook to cleanse her of the sins
she'd supposedly committed by being brutally forced into having intercourse
with this epitome of depravity. Seven year old Erica Jacobson was an innocent
who had her innocence stolen from her because this bastard couldn't see his
way to seek help for dealing with the lunatic actions of his own parents.

He could have sought help. He didn't have to give into the sickness. He
could have made the conscious decision to not inflict his pain on anyone
else. It can be done. I know it can.

I speak from experience.

I recall the moment Scully and I had to tell Ira and Carol about their
daughter's death. We hadn't needed to say anything, really, as the
expressions on our faces told them immediately what our hearts and mouths
found impossible to say.

Carol had simply begun to cry, and I remember Scully reaching for her and
embracing her in her arms. I'd watched as the emotions played on Scully's
face, as she must have identified with every feeling Carol was going through.
Scully was remembering her own daughter, Emily, and the experience she'd
gone through in dealing with her child's death in minute detail.

I could only fall back on the emotions that rocked me when I'd realized
Samantha was taken from me and there was nothing I could do about it. I
remember looking at Ira and wondering if he'd allow me to offer him the
comfort I knew he needed, but may have been too embarrassed to accept from me.

I'd stopped thinking about it and merely acted on my own gut instinct. I
remember pulling Ira, all six foot three of him towards me and trying to
envelope him in my meager attempt to console him. At first he fought me, but
then the impact of what had happened finally hit him. I remember distinctly
how he'd tried to gasp for breath; he'd tried to call out his daughter's
name, but no sound other than disconsolate sobs could be heard.

I remember I'd cried with him. Scully, Carol, Ira and I wept with little
control over the inexplicable loss of a beautiful seven year old child who
had everything to live for.

We'd cried together for a long time.

I realize I'm crying now, too. I know this is not a wise move on my part.
Shit. I quickly calm myself down and get a better grip on the situation at
hand. I look up to see Skinner avoiding my eyes and actively trying to
engage Diamond in conversation. I know the AD is trying to prevent Diamond
from seeing just how emotionally involved I am in this case.

Every time I think I've gotten over it, something happens to make me realize
just how false of an assumption that is.

"But why did you skin 'em?" I hear Skinner asking. "Why not just bathe 'em
like your mother did to you?"

"Because it never worked, now did it? I never felt clean, especially not
after _he'd_ gotten through with me," he says with disdain.

"What did he do to you?" asks Skinner.

"Shit, Walter! If I didn't know any better, I'd swear you were getting a
little off on my little tale! Are you?" asks Diamond with a leer.

"Fuck you," retaliates Skinner.

"Oh, but it would be my pleasure, Agent Walter! Wouldn't you know? I
actually learned a thing or two from dear old Daddy," replied Diamond in a
husky voice. "Drop 'em, Agent Walter, and I'll show you what a good pupil I
am."

Skinner's expression is one of total incredulity. I can tell he's not sure
if Diamond is toying with him or not. He's not sure what he should say or
how to react, for in fact, Diamond could blow if his demand is dismissed as
either a joke or a command.

"C'mon, Agent Walter. Stand up, and drop your pants. I think it's time to
liven up this little party, don't you?" demands Diamond in a much sterner
voice.

"Look, Mr. Diamond," Skinner begins somewhat contritely, "I believe you when
you say your father put you through a lot. I don't need you to show me in
order to convince me."

"Maybe not you, but I think Mr. Agent High and Mighty over there might need
some convincing, right Agent Mulder?" asks Diamond.

"What are you talking about?" I ask. I really am confused by what he's
saying about me. "What do you need to convince me of?"

"Agent Walter, drop 'em, so we can show your partner here just what it's like
to be humiliated in front of your peers. Daddy used to invite his friends
over to play poker, and I'd be the evening's entertainment. So, let's get
going, Agent Walter. Let's show your partner here just how much fun it is to
be the star of the show!"

"Diamond, stop it!" I cry out. I don't know how far he plans on taking this,
but I am desperate to put a halt to it now. "You don't need to prove
anything to me. I know what it's like to live in hell! You're not telling
me anything I haven't heard before."

"You're telling me you know what I went through, Agent Mulder?" Diamond asks
through clenched teeth. "You're asking me to believe you know the feelings
that go with the words?"

I look straight at the bastard. I need to make sure he sees the truth in my
eyes, even if it means I can never meet AD Skinner's eyes ever again.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
End of part 3/5

The Barbecue Series 11: Medium Well
by Susan Proto (STPteach@aol.com)

Disclaimers in Part 1
PLEASE READ FOR GRAPHIC WARNINGS

***Major Sexual Abuse Warning****
Please, if this kind of plot line disturbs you,
DO NOT READ!

Part 4/5

I see disbelief in Diamond's eyes. It's not disbelief in what I'm saying;
it's disbelief that I _can_ say what I'm saying.

I drop my eyes soon after I see recognition register on his face. I don't
know if my confession helps or hinders us. I don't know what Diamond's
reaction will be to my little bombshell.

Skinner reacts though. Quickly. He stands up to walk over to me, but I
shake my head. I can't deal with anyone at the moment. It's been a whole
lot of years since I've admitted to being an abused child, and I don't think
I can handle any responses or questions about it right now. Not even from
the Assistant Director of the FBI.

Several moments pass before Diamond clearly recognizes the meaning of my
words, but when he does, Diamond breaks into what I can only describe as a
maniacal grin. This is more than enough to make me shudder, but it is what
he says that actually makes me feel very queasy.

"Well, then, I've obviously picked the wrong playmate, haven't I?" Diamond
taunts. "It's time to come and play, Fox."

Suddenly, memories, expunged years ago, now come back up to the surface.
Similar words reverberate from my past. 'Time to play now, Fox,' was _his_
euphemism.

I don't want to play anymore. I had my reasons back then. I no longer have
those reasons.

"No," I whisper, but with surprising firmness.

"No?" Diamond responds. "But why not, Agent Mulder? Why not come out and
play now?"

"I don't want to," I respond, and then murmur, "I don't need to."

"Oh! Do tell, Agent Mulder!" Diamond continues to hold the gun on me. I see
he's becoming more agitated, or perhaps, more excited; I'm not sure which. I
do, however, fear he's becoming even more unstable (if that's even possible)
and therefore more unpredictable, so I begin to talk.

I figure if I keep talking, then he'll be more interested in listening to me
then in killing us.

Scully would be really pissed with me if I allow this guy to kill Skinner and
me before she gets a chance to rescue us. I manage, even under these insane
circumstances, to smile ruefully at this thought.

I look at Diamond as I can't make myself look directly at Skinner, but I
sense the AD's head jerk up when I start to speak. It's okay, Skinner, I
think to myself. I hope he realizes this. I hope he can accept this idea of
my being okay, especially after he hears what I have to say.

"Okay, Agent Mulder, I think we've waited long enough,'' Diamond announces
while continuing to point the gun at my head.

"_He_ used to say it was time to play," I begin.

Diamond's eyes dance as he asks, "Your father?"

"No, an associate of my father's," I reply and see him seemingly deflate
before my very eyes. I don't know if this is a good thing or not; I suspect
in the case of his twisted mind, it is not, so I continue quickly. "My
father wasn't a player. He was more of an observer."

Skinner's head practically flies off of his neck at this bit of news. I
can't help but wonder if he's judging me now; even though he may not want to,
he may not be able to help it. I find myself starting to swallow
convulsively, but Diamond breaks into my sudden attack of panic when he
commands me to, "Explain. Oh, do explain, Agent Mulder!"

Where do I begin? This is the part that hurts the most, I suppose.

"_He_," I stammer. I haven't stammered in years. "_He_ was touching my
sister," I finally manage to rasp out. "She'd come to me and told me what
he'd been doing, and she begged me to make him stop. She pleaded with me to
help her.

"Samantha was afraid to tell our parents, since _he_ was a friend of theirs,
and he worked with my father. He worked for the State Department like my
father did." I thought for a moment and then added, "We thought he was an
important man."

I recall the feelings of panic I'd felt back then when I'd decided to seek
out my father, and as a result, I begin to feel similar symptoms of anxiety.
I know my breathing has quickened, and I'm finding it difficult to form the
words, but when I see Diamond wave the gun closer to my face, I continue.

"Sam had kept crying and pleading with me to help her, so I spoke with Dad.
He'd said that his friend was a good and decent man and would never do
anything to hurt Samantha, and how dare I think such vulgar thoughts about
his friend!" I start to chuckle a bit at the irony of a father choosing to
take the word of an associate over his own children's, but everyone in the
room knows there's no joy in my laughter.

"Dad had become quite indignant. He'd acted insulted at the notion I could
find fault with his friend. I felt totally defeated. He wouldn't listen. I
couldn't get him to listen __."

I stop talking for a moment, as I find myself feeling overwhelmed by the
sudden flood of memories I'd managed to let go of so long ago.

"Mulder?" calls out Skinner. I know he's concerned about me, but there's
nothing he can do at this point. It's Diamond's story hour; he's calling the
shots at the moment.

"Now, Agent Walter, don't interrupt. Agent Mulder has more to tell us, don't
you?" Diamond says with vehemence at this point. I worry he's going to take
his frustration out on Skinner or me, so I continue.

"The bastard came for a visit one weekend, while we were at the summer house.
Sam became hysterical. I mean, she wouldn't stop crying. My mother simply
hid in her room. She pretended everything was fine. Just fine__," I murmur
in recognition of my mother's complete lack of understanding. I'd always
hoped it was through true ignorance, but the more I think about it, I'm now
sure it was feigned ignorance. It was just easier to look the other way.

"Sam was so scared. She kept screaming, 'Save me! Save me, Fox! I'm
scared.' I had to do something __. I had to!"

"Mulder, wait!" cries out Skinner.

"NO!" shouts back Diamond. "Now Agent Walter, you didn't want to play, so
don't interrupt!" He moves the gun precariously close to my head. Skinner
remains silent.

"It's okay, Walter," I say quietly. I see he doesn't believe me, but I
continue on, barely above a whisper.

"I went to _him_. I stood before him and told him he couldn't touch my
sister anymore. I told him I wouldn't allow him to hurt her anymore.

"I was amazed when he said, 'Fine.' I remember I looked at him and sighed
with such relief. Sam would be safe. It was over, I thought over and over
again." At this I do laugh out loud, but again, it is a humorless laughter.
"Of course, it wasn't over. He__."

I stop here. It feels as if I am actually reliving the scene exactly as it
had taken place all those years ago.

"Oh, don't stop now, Agent Mulder. It sounds as if we're finally getting to
the good part!" Diamond has a glint in his eyes as he speaks. I'm obviously
doing a helluva job of entertaining him. Well, at least Skinner and I are
still in one piece.

Okay, check that; let's make that alive. I don't exactly feel terribly whole
at the moment.

All of a sudden I feel something cold and hard pressing against my temple. I
guess he doesn't like the intermission, as I realize he's got the gun pressed
against my head. I continue to speak, since I figure if I don't, he'll kill
me. Then afterwards, he'll go and kill Skinner, since he'll have nothing to
lose at that point.

Damn! If Scully wouldn't be pissed about that!

"_He_ said if I didn't want him to play with my sister, he needed to find a
new playmate. Me.

"I told him if he promised to leave Sam alone, he could _play_," I
practically spit the word out, "with me. He promised." I pause and reflect
a bit before I add softly, "He kept that promise. He never did touch Sam
again."

I hear Skinner begin muttering, "Oh God, Mulder. Jesus EF'ing Christ,
Mulder."

Diamond, on the other hand, moves back a bit and is practically cackling in
glee. "Well, isn't this something!? Now, Agent Mulder, it's time for 'show
and tell!' You need to share with the class the lovely games you played with
your Daddy's friend."

He shakes the gun at me.

"Drop 'em."

"No." I am firm in my decision. He can blow my head off at this point if he
wants. I won't give in to him.

"Oh, yes, Agent Mulder. Drop your pants so we can play. Now." Diamond's
voice edges toward hysteria.

"No."

"Oh, I think, YES," and he immediately swings around and points the gun
directly at Skinner's head.

"Don't," I say through clenched teeth. I watch him as he moves closer to
Skinner and then does the unthinkable. He places the barrel directly on
Skinner's head and cocks the trigger.

"Do."

Oh shit. Oh shit, oh shit, ohshit, ohshit ohshitohshitohsit_.

"Now, Agent Mulder," he says as he pushes the gun's barrel harder into
Skinner's head, "take down your pants."

I guess I have my reason back.

I keep my eyes peeled on the gun which remains tucked into Skinner's temple.
I avoid looking directly at the AD; I can't handle that now, though I suspect
it's probably even harder for him at this point.

I slowly unbuckle my belt and then toe off my shoes. I'll be damned if I
have to stand there with my butt hanging out and my pants pooled around my
feet. I unclasp my dress slacks and slowly lower the zipper. I then easily
lower them, as the material moves fluidly down my legs. I step out of them,
pick them up, and then I take the time to carefully fold them so the creases
line up properly.

I'm doing this to forestall certain humiliation. Diamond, however, sees my
actions as a God damned strip tease for his amusement.

I pause and wonder how long I can stall the inevitable. Diamond clears his
voice loudly and instructs, "Now the boxers."

Not as long as I'd hoped, obviously.

I hitch my thumbs inside each side of my shorts and slowly lower them to my
ankles. I step out of them and pick them up. I take the time to fold these
as well.

I keep my expression as neutral as possible. The fact that my dress shirt is
rather long and covers my rear and crotch helps me to maintain this aura of
calm. I can only pray that Diamond is like Dad's friend and prefers to be
entertained with me still in some clothing. I really hope he'll get more
excited at the thought of continuing this insanity with me still in my shirt.
If not for my sake, then for Skinner's.

I can only imagine what is going through the man's head. I can imagine, but
I don't think I want to know for sure.

"Come here," Diamond orders in a throaty, excited voice.

I guess he likes the shirt on.

While he still holds the gun with one hand close to Skinner's head, he uses
the other to fumble with his own zipper. This particular act causes me to
involuntarily grimace, and then, in one fleeting second, I look over at
Skinner. I have to see what his reaction is to all of this. I need to see
if he's feeling revulsion toward me, or, God forbid, he's turned on.

It's not unheard of, you know.

Suddenly, as if the demon could actually reads my mind, Diamond shouts out,
"Wait! You said your Daddy didn't like to play; you said he was an observer.
Tell me about that," he insists.

This is the first moment I feel as if I'm going to truly lose it. I felt
momentary pangs of anxiety before, but I could control them. It was all
about _him_ before, but now_. I don't know if I can talk about my father's
role in all of this. Don't know if I can talk about Dad.

"Come on, Agent Mulder. You have my curiosity up. What did you mean by
observer?"

I swallow. Hard. I think even Skinner hears me. Suddenly, I don't know
why, since I know none of this was ever my fault, I feel so ashamed. I don't
want to tell about my dad. I don't want to admit what someone, whom I was so
closely related to, was capable of doing.

Then I hear Skinner gasp as Diamond presses the gun barrel harder into the
AD's temple with the trigger ready.

"Dad," I whisper, "sat in the corner, and he watched."

"What did he do while he watched, Fox? Did he like it when you played with
his friend?" Diamond asked eagerly, panting.

"I don't know. I don't remember__," I say quickly. Too quickly.

"__Bullshit!," he shouts back at me in kind. "Tell me what your father did!"
Diamond then grabs Skinner's hand, hard, and forces it roughly into the AD's
crotch. "Did he do this, Fox?" he asks harshly. "Did Daddy like to touch
himself while his best friend touched you in all of your intimate, private
parts?"

I'm dying right now. Not because of what he's saying. I hate what he's
doing to Skinner. I know it must be humiliating the hell out of him.

Of course, the fact that I'm standing in the middle of my office, in the
fucking Federal Bureau of Investigation, wearing nothing more than my tie,
navy blue socks, and dress shirt which is just long enough to cover my
privates, not to mention having to endure all of this in front of my direct
supervisor and a psycho who's holding a gun and belongs in a rubber room with
no door, well, I guess that means I do humiliation pretty well myself,
doesn't it?

I look at Skinner now, straight in the eyes, and what I see surprises me. I
expect revulsion. I expect disgust. I expect anger.

I see fear.

I never expect to see fear on AD Skinner's face. But then I realize it's not
fear for himself. It's fear for me, and that's when I lose it. I don't want
this man to have to feel responsible because my childhood was so totally
screwed up. I don't want him to feel responsible for me having to summon all
of these forbidden memories.

I've been doing pretty well, up until this point, in keeping my feelings, my
emotions, in check. But no more.

I finally give in to the panic, the anxiety, and most of all, the anger.
"YES!" I scream at the top of my lungs. "Yes, the bastard sat there and
watched me get fucked while he jerked off the entire time! Okay? Is that
what you needed to hear you God damned, filthy pervert?"

Diamond startles unexpectedly at my outburst. I watch him jump at my
screams, thus raising the gun toward the ceiling, but more importantly, away
from Skinner's direction. This, of course, is my cue to do something
incredibly impulsive and stupid in order to try and end this fiasco.

I lunge.

I grab for Diamond with all my might and suddenly hear a shot ring out.

And then a second.

And then, a cry of pain.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
End of Part 4/5

The Barbecue Series 11: Medium Well
by Susan Proto (STPteach@aol.com)

Disclaimers in Part 1
PLEASE READ FOR GRAPHIC WARNINGS

Part 5/5

I open my eyes and realize there is an unexpected weight on top of me. I
also notice there is an inordinate increase in the number of people now in
the room. I try to recreate what just transpired, but my mind is a bit
fuzzy. Of course, the fact that I have this huge body on top of me, which
is not making my ability to breath terribly easy, may have something to do it.

Then I hear her voice. And it's panicky. "Get the EMTs down here, STAT!
AGENT DOWN!"

Oh, God! Walter? Walter, are you hurt? I try to call out to him, but I'm
not sure if anyone can hear me above the din of voices surrounding me.
"Walter? Walter," I rasp out. I've got to get this guy off of me. It's
really hard to breathe.

"I'm here, Mulder. I'm right here," I hear him say into my ear. He's
kneeling down right next to me, and I feel a wave of relief. He can't be too
badly hurt if he's able to kneel down next to me.

"You're hit?" I ask in concern.

"No, Mulder. I'm fine," he says, and then adds with a wry, almost relieved,
chuckle, "but you aren't. You're hit."

Oh. So, that's what that pain is in my left shoulder. Shit. And I suppose
I have an even better reason for having a little trouble breathing. Shit,
shit, shit! Not again.

And then something else suddenly occurs to me, and I start feeling more
panicky about this particular thought than the bullet wound. I now realize
what went down. As I screamed and lunged for Diamond, my sweet, beautiful,
RamboScully came charging in with her team and took out Diamond. He, in
turn, shot me. He fell on top of me, and this is where he lays, even now.

So it dawns on me he is the only thing that comes between me and any sense of
modesty. If anyone picks Diamond up off of me, my humiliation will be
complete. The bullet may have nicked my lung which may be exasperating my
breathing difficulty. I need to be able to sit up, but not until I'm able to
retain some of my dignity.

"Walter, help," I plead.

"I know, Mulder. The bastard's dead weight. We'll get him off of you right
now," he assures in anticipation of my request.

"NO!"

"What? What's wrong?" he asks, obviously in total confusion.

"Pants. Please, Walter. My pants," I whisper desperately.

"Oh, crap, Mulder, I'm sorry. Yes, of course," he says.

"Walter, make them go. All of them. Everyone," I say with insistence.

"Everyone?" he repeats.

I understand what he's asking. He's wondering if I mean Scully as well. I
can understand his confusion. It's not as if the woman has never seen me
naked. Thankfully, our recent past has given us lots, and lots, and lots of
wonderful opportunities to help one another out of our clothes.

But not this. Not this way. This isn't about sensuality or even sex. This
is about power and degradation and humiliation and sickness. This is not
how I want Scully to see me. No, not this way. Not now.

"Yes. Please," I answer with a wince. My shoulder hurts like hell, and I
really want Diamond off of me as quickly as possible. I see Skinner nod his
head in understanding.

"Okay, Mulder. You got it. And then we'll get the EMT's to look at your
shoulder. Hang in there, okay?"

" Thank you, Walter." He squeezes my hand and calls out the order to
immediately vacate the office.

"Out. Everyone," he orders with authority.

I see Scully remain in place, as she looks at Walter with a confusion all
over her face. Please understand, Scully. Please, don't be upset with me
for wanting to hide this from you. Please.

"Walter, the EMTs are arriving any minute," Scully says.

"I know, and I'll allow them in momentarily. I promise."

"Sir, this is crazy! Look at him! He's losing blood and he's showing
difficulty in breathing. I haven't had a chance to check yet, but I wouldn't
be surprised if his pulse is rapid and his respiratory rate is too damned
fast." When she sees he's not budging on this, she exclaims, "For crying out
loud, Walter, I'm a doctor!"

He looks at her thoughtfully and then adds, gently, but firmly, "I know
that, but for the moment, Agent Scully, I need you to wait outside, too."

"Sir, this is ridiculous. He's my partner!" she says in exasperation and
with a new emphasis on the word "partner."

"I know how it sounds. Scully__, Dana, please, trust me on this," he
explains cryptically.

She looks down at me for a moment to confirm this is my wish. I move my
mouth and try to speak, but nothing comes out. I realize I'm hurting now, in
more ways than one, but I don't want Scully to hurt. I need her to
understand that this time, it really is about me. I _need_ it to be about
me.

She kneels down next to me and looks at me, trying to understand. I have to
make her understand.

"Please, be patient with me," I whisper. I know she doesn't fully understand
why I say this, but she loves me, and she accepts my wishes. She squeezes my
hand, rises, and leaves the room.

As soon as the last person has left and closes the door, I hear Skinner walk
over and lock it. He then, with some effort, pulls Diamond's lifeless body
off of me, which leaves me totally exposed. I don't know if it's the sudden
exposure to the air or blood loss, but I am suddenly overcome with chills.

"Christ, Mulder, you're in shock."

Or it could be that, too.

I feel Skinner working as quickly as he can to help me dress. I try to
assist him in his effort, but I feel clumsy and awkward. And weak. All of a
sudden, I feel about as powerful as a newborn.

He makes no comment, and I notice he avoids looking at me. At first I think
it may be because he's embarrassed and resents being put in this position.
But then he asks me gently, "How ya doin', Mulder? You hangin' in there?
We'll get you ready in no time, and then the docs can check you out."

Skinner keeps rambling on and on with platitudes of comfort. He's trying so
damn hard to make me feel comfortable, I soon realize his lack of eye contact
is his attempt to give me a modicum of privacy. Next, he lifts me from my
hips to bring my boxers up to my waist. He repeats the process with my
slacks, and asks me if I can stand up.

I honestly don't know, and I tell him so. He tells me then to lay still and
allow the paramedics to make that decision for me.

For some reason, I start to panic again. Paramedics mean trips to the
hospital, and I really don't want to go to the hospital. I know I'm being
totally irrational about this; I've been shot and lost blood, not to mention
the fact I've suffered a pretty heavy duty emotional trauma.

Of course, my hope is that little bit of information doesn't leave this room.

"I don't want to go to the hospital, Walter," I say. Funny how calling him
by his first name no longer seems a problem for me. I suppose a couple of
little things like a threat on your life and having your boss see you buck
naked can help to simplify one's perspective on life's issues.

"You know Scully will insist you be checked out," he warns.

"I know. I'll go get checked out, and get stitched up, but I won't stay.
Now that the sonofabitch is off of me, I can breathe a lot easier, so I don't
think the bullet got anything vital. I think it just grazed me. Really.
I've had a little experience in this area," I say with confidence.

Skinner actually laughs at this, and I admit, I have to smile as well. But I
look again, seriously, at my AD and say, "Please, Walter. I can't stay there
today. I don't want to feel like a cripple today. Make her understand," I
implore.

He nods his head in understanding, since he knows Scully will be the one
he'll have to convince more than any doctor. He goes and unlocks the door to
let the paramedics, and what seems to be the entire staff of the FBI, back
into the office.

As the paramedics surround me to check my vitals and start various IV lines,
I allow myself to be mesmerized by the drone of the EMTs voices and Scully's
intermittent comments. I glance over as I see another pair of EMTs pick up
Diamond's body, now wrapped up in a body bag. I let out a breath I hadn't
even realized I was holding.

I wonder if I'll ever let this chapter in my life pass.

I hope so.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Epilogue

Mrs. Scully's Home
Baltimore, MD

I'm watching Charlie's kids, Briana and Daniel, chase Bill's little guy,
Matthew, around the background. The yard is filled with their laughter, and
I am so grateful to be here. I feel alive here, and I look over at Scully
and smile.

She didn't fight us; Walter and me, that is. I guess we make a pretty
formidable pair. Scully got me released as soon as I received some much
needed fluids, an X-ray which showed no internal damage, a couple shots of
antibiotics, and a sling to keep my shoulder stable.

While I was getting cleaned up, Scully told me how she'd organized the rescue
team, and how they bided their time until they were able to gain access to
the office. It dawns on me now Scully and the rest of the team were outside
of the office practically the entire duration of the incident.

I have no way of knowing, short of asking Scully outright, if the
surveillance team had managed to get a bug inside to get a better idea of the
situation. It scares the hell out me to think there's a possibility there's
a whole team of agents that were witnesses.

My partner has not said anything about that possibility, nor have I gotten up
the nerve to ask her.

Maybe later.

But not now.

Right now I'm reveling in the idea I'm sitting here, albeit on a chaise
lounge and, courtesy of Maggie Scully, practically wrapped up in a blanket
from head to toe, and enjoying the hell out of this holiday with my family.

I'll have to pay the price for my early release by returning to the hospital
in a few days to get the stitches checked, but I don't care about that. I'm
here, enjoying life instead of remembering my dead time.

Walter walks over to me with a plate of food. He'd asked me earlier if I'd
felt hungry, and I had told him a little. I remember seeing him smile
broadly, which in turn made me smile. I don't remember ever having made the
AD smile before.

Who knew it could be that easy?

He places the plate on the small table nearby and sits down next to me. I
observe him reach into his pocket for something, pull out a small card, and
watch him hand it to me. I look at him curiously, and he explains in quiet
tones.

"It's the name of someone you may want to speak with. I mean, I figure you
wouldn't want to use any of the bureau counselors; I know I never did." When
I look at him curiously, he shrugs slightly and continues, "I've seen her off
and on for years for my PTSS. She's good people, Mulder. Think about it,
okay?"

I nod yes. The unique thing about this is I actually mean it. I really
will, seriously, think about it. If for no other reason than to get
confirmation from someone that I really have gone on with my life.

As I consider all that's happened to me today, I reach for the dish and pick
up the fork to begin eating. It's a nondescript pasta salad. It's okay,
but, to be honest it's not satisfying my hunger. I surprise even myself when
I realize what I am in the mood for. Well, maybe not a really rare one, like
the kind I used to wolf down, but maybe__?

Wow. Why do I suspect my next little request is going to cause a bit of a
ruckus.

"Umm, Walter? Could I trouble you for a burger, umm, medium well?"

"Sure."

Okay, so maybe not.

"Wait a minute. What the hell did you just ask for?" he decides to confirm.

"A burger? Medium well?"

"Yeah, coming right up," he says calmly, but I hear him muttering as he walks
toward the barbecue, "Holy shit, wait till Scully hears this!"

Okay, so, maybe it will.

Skinner calls Scully over towards the fire to tell her of my new found
hankerin' for meat. She's got a look of shock on her face at the news. When
she begins to laugh, I smile as well, and then watch her steal a glance to
check up on me for the hundredth time that day.

I realize all too well that life, _my_ life, has indeed moved forward, and is
very, very sweet.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
End of 5/5

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