Subject: A Vickie Moseley Companion Piece for "Under the Weather"
Date: Fri, 31 Jul 1998

See my stories, courtesy of the extraordinary Web Mistress, Shirley Smiley


Just Checking
A story just for Susan Proto
by Vickie Moseley
Disclaimer: What can I say? You inspired me :)

(Added disclaimer from Susan: The characters belong to CC and company.
The inspiration belongs to me. And I am honored! And I had to share
this 'cause Mrs. Moseley is just too good at this fanfic stuff for me to hide
this gift on
my hard drive!!)

Archive: MTA and Susan's Garden site please

Summary: A Vickie Moseley "fill in the blank" companion piece to Susan
Proto's "Under the Weather"

Part 1/2

I'm used to getting cryptic phone calls from my children. Charlie,
calling to tell me NOT to watch CNN for a couple of days, only to
find out that his cruiser has been involved in an operation in the
Persian Gulf. Billy, telling me to get the crib ready again, then
calling back a few days later to tell me it was a false alarm. And

Ah, yes, my Dana. Sometimes, it's on a staticy line that I know
indicates she's somewhere most sane people don't go. Telling me
first that she's fine, Fox is fine. Then how long they will have to
remain in quarantine or in the hospital. Can I water her plants and
feed the few fish Fox has managed to keep alive?

But this call surprised me. For one thing, I knew she wasn't on a
case. She was at a conference in San Diego. She was staying at
Bill and Tara's and playing with baby Matthew. Fox was still at the
office in DC. How much trouble could they get into when they
were on separate ends of the continent? I should have known
better than to ask.

It started out simple enough. Telling me about the conference.
Telling me how tall little Matty has gotten since Christmas. Telling
me the little chatty things that always let me know she's leading up
to something, that something is on her mind. Then, she came out
with it.

"Mom, have you heard from Mulder?"

I will never understand their inability to call each other by their
given names, but I've come to accept it.

"No, dear. Why? Should I have heard from Fox?" It might be
their game, but I'm not playing it.

"No, no, I suppose not. I, uh, just, well, I called the office . . ."

"Dana, is something wrong?"

"Well, I don't know, Mom. I called the office and when it rolled
over to the switchboard I called up to Skinner's assistant.
Apparently Mulder called in sick this morning. I called his
apartment and he didn't answer."

"Maybe he went out for a minute." The moment the words were
out of my mouth I knew they were a mistake. That was exactly
what Dana was afraid of - that he had gone out, and not come back.
She's let it slip more than once how often he 'disappears' on her,
only to end up in trouble later. That was why she was worried.

"Sweetie, how about if I take the key you left me for his apartment
and check on him. If he's sick, he might not have felt like
answering the phone. And if that's the case, he might need some
help. You know, a run to the drug store or something."

"Would you do that for me, Mom? That would be wonderful! And
call me as soon as you're there. I'm here at Billy's for the rest of
the afternoon."

"I'll call, sweetheart, I promise."

It wasn't until I was halfway to DC that I stopped and considered
what I was doing. I was going to check on a 36 year old man. A
bachelor. Someone who, by all outward appearances, was perfectly
capable of taking care of himself and would probably view my
intrusion into his life as nothing short of an invasion of his privacy.

I almost turned the car around right then and there.

But then I thought about the man. Fox Mulder. His haunted eyes
when my daughter had been missing. It was like he's lost a half of
his soul. How often have I gotten calls from Dana in the middle of
the night, telling me she was at the hospital, awaiting word on her
partner's condition? Or that she was sitting next to his sickbed,
waiting for him to awake from his latest brush with eternity. I
knew that it was entirely possible that Fox needed someone,
possibly right away. And since my daughter was a continent away,
that responsibility fell on my shoulders.

I arrived just a little past 3 in the afternoon. As I walked down the
hall, I noticed very little activity. When I reached the apartment
door, I could hear the sound of the TV, low and muffled. I
knocked rather loudly, in case he was sleeping.

No answer.

That didn't sit right. I knew Fox would never leave the TV on.
Not intentionally, at least. Call it a mother's instinct. I felt
something was wrong.

That didn't stop me from feeling guilty as I reached into my pocket
for the key Dana had mailed me from Dead Horse, Alaska over
three years ago. I put it in the lock and opened the door.

The room was freezing! It had been hot for the last couple of days,
but the rain that had come through in the morning had cooled the
temperatures considerably. Fox had his a/c on full blast and I could
almost see my breath as I walked into the room.

I haven't spent much time in Fox' apartment. I know where the
living room is, because that's where the fish are. I went there first.
He was laying on the couch, but he wasn't resting. He was
drenched in sweat, even in the chill of the room. His eyes were
clenched tight as if he were in pain. I reached my hand up to his
forehead and confirmed my suspicions. He was burning up with

"Mom used to check our klepas with her mouth," he muttered or
something that sounded a lot like that. I had no idea what he was
talking about, but I leaned over and kissed his forehead lightly.
Once again, I noted how hot his skin was. But he smiled slightly
and settled back against the pillows.

I pressed my finger on his forearm and noted that the skin there was
dry and not very elastic. He was dehydrating. I knew the signs,
every mother knows the signs. I hurried into the kitchen to find
something to get in him.

Generic sports drink and aspirin were the only resources available.
I pulled a glass out of the drainer and poured three-fourths of a
glass. I tapped three aspirin into my hand and went back into the
living room.

He rolled over on to his side by this point, and was clutching his
stomach. I thought briefly that the aspirin might not be the best
thing on an empty stomach, but with his fever, I had to do
something. I was able to get the pills and half the glass of drink
down his throat. I hoped it would stay put. I then went off to
search for a thermometer.

Needles are easier to find in haystacks. His medicine cabinet
contained a bottle of prescription sleeping pills, two and a half years
old. Two bottles of antibiotics, each over a year old, mostly full.
Toothpaste, shaving cream, aftershave and nail clippers. But not a
thermometer in sight.

I started to look in his bedroom and thought better of it. I knew it
would just take a little deductive reasoning and I would come up
with the answer before I learned things about Fox Mulder that no
mother, not even his own, should know.

It was in the cabinet next to the sink. Not too far from the aspirin,
when I finally found it.

I felt triumphant when I reentered the living room, but Fox was
looking decidedly worse. The sports drink hadn't stayed down,
he'd gotten sick. Fortunately for himself and the couch, he'd rolled
over and gotten sick on the floor. I backtracked and grabbed as
many paper towels as I could find, most of them napkins from
various take-out restaurants.

I got the mess cleaned up quickly, and knew I needed to check his
temp. There was a bright red flush to his cheeks and ears that I was
certain foretold of a high fever.

Since he'd just been sick, I knew better than to put it under his
tongue. I pulled the neck of his tee shirt out a bit and slipped the
glass tube under his arm, then waited the four minutes.

102.8 under the arm. Years of experience have taught me to add a
full degree to that number, making the fever closer to 104. I knew
I needed a professional assessment and advice.

I called Dana.

I started to pick up the phone and saw that it was already turned
on. There was no dial tone, I don't think the call went through. I
disconnected the line and then started again. I got through to Bill's
house on the second ring.

"Hello? Mulder?"

Dana had answered the phone. "No, sweetie, it's Mom."

"Mom, did you just try to call me on my cell phone? About 10
minutes ago?"

One mystery solved.

"No, I think that was Fox, sweetheart. You were right in your
suspicions. I got over here and he's very sick. He's burning up, his
fever is almost 104. He looks dehydrated, his skin does, at least.
And he can't keep anything down. I'm thinking I should call for an
ambulance to get him to the hospital."

"I've always told you that you should go back to medical school,
Mom." I couldn't help but chuckle at that. I've told her over and
over again, I was in nursing school when I met her father, but she
always envisions me becoming a doctor like her someday.

"Then you think that's what I should do?"

"Absolutely. Get him there as quickly as possible. Mom, geez, I
have the panel tomorrow morning and I'm scheduled to do a
seminar late tomorrow afternoon. I can cut out on the banquet, but
the soonest I can get back is day after tomorrow. Shit! I'll just call
and cancel. They'll just have to make do."

"Dana, you will do no such thing," I told her. "I will take care of
Fox. I'm sure once we have him to the hospital, on IV's and
medication, he'll be fine. You just stay out there and keep your
appointments. He'll be madder than all get out if he finds out you
skipped out on this conference because he got sick."

I could hear her sigh over the phone. "I suppose you're right,
Mom. Look, I'll get off so you can call the EMT's. They know
the address by heart. Just tell them it's Agent Mulder's apartment,
they'll be there in about 7 minutes. And grab his toothbrush and
shaving kit and take them with you. He hates waking up in the
hospital but being able to brush his teeth and shave helps him
tolerate it a little. Call me when you talk to the doctor, OK?"

"Of course I will, sweetheart. Don't you worry. Kiss Bill, Tara
and Matty for me."

"I will, Mom. Oh, and Mom? Take care of Mulder for me, please?
Let him know I'll be there just as soon as I can?"

"You know I will, Dana. Take care. I love you."

"Me, too, Mom. I love you, too. Thanks . . . for everything."

I hung up and called the 911 operator, giving her the information. I
then went into the bathroom and gathered the toothbrush and razor.
I found his travel shaving kit on a shelf above the commode and put
the items in it for the ride. Then, I went to his room and looked in
the closet.

Sure enough, I found an overnight bag, packed with a few
essentials like tee shirts and underwear. I knew Dana always had a
bag ready in her closet. It only stood to reason that she picked up
that little trick from her partner. I picked it up and added the
shaving kit, then went back to the living room to wait for the

Fox was moaning when I came back. Low and painful, his face
grimacing. His eyes weren't open, I'm pretty sure he wasn't even
aware that anyone else was in the room. I knelt down next to the
couch and stroked his hair, talked to him as I talked to my own
children when they were sick. I know it wasn't my place, but he
needed someone, anyone, and I was the only one around.

Dana was right on the money. The EMT's showed up in under ten
minutes by my watch. The time seemed a lot longer, I was getting
so worried. Fox was having a hard time taking deep breaths, he
was panting for air. I could hear a faint rattle in his chest as he
took each breath. I knew his lungs were probably holding fluid. I
just prayed I'd gotten to him in time. It was all I could do not to
beg to ride in the ambulance with him, but then I'd be stranded at
the hospital.

I drove over to Arlington Memorial and by the time I could find a
parking place, they had already brought Fox back to the treatment
rooms in the ER. I asked at the desk about him and the nurse there
took one look at me and assumed I must be his mother.

I started to correct her, but she had already hurried off. Next thing
I knew, they were letting me go back to the room he was in and I
wasn't about to argue with that.

He was lying on his side, he must have been sick again. They had
an oxygen tube under his nose and an IV in his arm. I noticed they
already had him in a hospital gown. They must have worked fast.

"He got sick on his street clothes," a voice said behind me. I turned
around to find a young woman, about my height with beautiful
olive skin and dark brown, twinkling eyes. "I'm Dr. Hassis, I'm on
duty tonight. You must be Mrs. Mulder?"

Tote one up for confession on Saturday. I knew that if I told her
that I was just a friend, I would be relegated a spot in the waiting
room. It was a little white lie and I saw no harm. "Yes," I said,
making sure I was looking at Fox and not at the doctor. "How is

"Well, I want to run some tests, but you were right to bring him in.
He's dehydrated, he's still vomiting. Did you give him generate?"
I nodded in response. "Thought so. I recognized the color.
Anyway, his lungs are what have me concerned. I'd like to do
some X rays and see what we have here."

"You're afraid it's pneumonia," I said, still watching Fox for any
further signs of distress.

"Pretty sure, but better to be safe than sorry. We'll let the evidence
decide that. You can stay here and wait for him or if you'd be
more comfortable--"

"I'll wait for him here," I told her, not wanting to risk being exiled
in the lounge.

"I'll send an orderly to take him down, then."

I stood next to the gurney, stroking his hair. His hair is so soft.
With his hair and Dana's hair color, they would make such beautiful
grand babies-

I have to stop thinking like that. But I can't. Dana would think
I'm being silly, but I know, regardless of how hard they fight to
convince themselves otherwise, regardless of what the doctors told
Dana about infertility, regardless of anything, one day . . . someday
. . .

But right then, Fox was my concern. He started moaning again,
low at first and then he was obviously in so much pain.

"Hurts!" he called out and I smooth his hair and leaned over so I
could speak softly in his ear.

"I know it hurts, sweetheart. But the doctors are going to fix you
all up. I promise."

His eyes were still clenched so tight, I knew not even the bright
overhead lights were getting through. He still didn't know who I

"Doctors? What doctors? You're my doctor," he moaned. My
heart sank. He thought I was Dana. More than anything I wished
my daughter could have been there. Maybe she could have eased
his pain. I found I was powerless against it.

"Hot!" he cried out again, struggling against the pain and the sweat
soaked sheets that were sticking to his body.

"I know," I told him, stroking his forehead again. He was so very
hot. It felt like his skin could simply burst into flame. I worried
where the orderly was. Then I noticed that a nurse had left a glass
near the gurney. Looked like more generate. "Drink this,
sweetheart," I encouraged him.

He drank a few sips and then couldn't get any more down his
throat. He laid back on the pillow and seemed to slip into sleep. I
was ready to go out and find an orderly when one magically
appeared at the door to the cubicle.

"Mr. Mulder?" he asked and I nodded. "Won't take long, ma'am.
We had a bit of a backlog, but that's all worked out. We'll be back
in a jiffy."

I sat down in the chair and thought about calling Dana. I glanced at
my watch. It was almost 5:30. Dana would still be at the
conference. No sense in bothering her until we knew what the X
rays would tell us. So, instead of calling her, I pulled my rosary out
of my purse and prayed for Fox.

The orderly was back before I knew it, pushing the gurney.
"Doctor said she'd be right in," he told me with a nod and left.

Fox was asleep, or so I hoped. I sat next to him and brushed the
hair back from his forehead. I was worried and anxious to hear
from the doctor.

She stepped in the room just a few minutes later. "Mrs. Mulder,
I'm sorry to keep you waiting. I had a chance to look at the X rays
and we got some blood work back from the lab. It would appear
that your son has fallen victim to the flu that's been making the
rounds this summer."

"Flu?" I couldn't believe it! He was so sick, his fever was so high.
This had to be more than just the summer flu!

Dr. Hassis seemed to understand my confusion. "Oh, it's a little
more complicated than just the flu. It's a virus, so there isn't much
we can do to treat it but keep him hydrated and comfortable, keep
the fever down. But it's turned into a case of viral pneumonia.
This is usually treated at home, but given the severity of the case, I
would like to admit him."

My head was spinning. But at least pneumonia was something I
could understand. "Yes, of course. Whatever you think is best, Dr.

She beamed at me. "Good. I'm glad you concur. I've already
called admitting. They will be waiting for you to come down and
fill out the appropriate paperwork. And someone will be right in to
take your son up to a room. I believe they're putting him on 7
west, that's a respiratory wing. It's mostly private rooms up there,
so you'll have a chance to stay with him as much as you like."

She left and I was at a loss. I needed to call Dana right away. I
waited until the nurse came to move Fox up to his room and then
after making sure I could find him again, I went in search of a pay

Dana must have been sitting at the phone when I called, she
answered on the first ring.

"How is he, Mom?" I knew she was worried and didn't want to
prolong it.

"Sweetheart, he's so sick. But the doctor says it's a virus. The

"Sounds like more than the flu, Mom. Maybe you need to get a
second opinion."

"No, what I meant to tell you is that it's developed into viral
pneumonia. The doctor thinks he should stay here until it's under

"Of course, Mom. Geez, only Mulder would get the flu and end up
with pneumonia during the worst heatwave in forty years," Dana
said, in a voice mixed with disapproval and amazement.

"You think he'll be all right, sweetie?"

"He'll be fine, Mom. As long as he gets fluids and they keep watch
on the fever, he should be able to ride it out. He's a fast healer,
Mom. He should be feeling better by the time I can get out of

I started to tell her I'd call her when he was settled in a room and
then I remembered. "Oh, Dana, I need to go down and sign the

"So? Unfortunately, that's part of the job of Mulder-sitting, Mom,"
Dana chuckled.

"But sweetheart, you don't understand! I, uh, I sort of . . ."

"Mom, I can't understand what you're saying. Speak a little

"I let them think I'm his mother!" I practically screamed into the
phone. Thank heavens I was in an old fashioned phone booth and
there was no one else around.

Dana let out a full belly laugh. "Oh, Mom, I can't count the
number of times I've let them think I'm his wife! It's fine. Besides,
if they check his records - you are at Arlington, right? Well, you're
listed as a next of kin."

I was dumbfounded. "I am?"

"Sure, Mom. In case we're both out of it. It's in his file at the
Bureau. I thought you knew."

"I had no idea."

"Well, he asked me what I thought about it, and I said I thought it
was probably a good idea."

"But Dana, what about his own mother? Shouldn't she be listed,
too? What if he were really . . . I mean what if something horrible, .
. ." I didn't go on, but she got the idea.

"Mom, you have to understand. Mulder's mom, well, she's nothing
like you. He feels more comfortable knowing that you would be
called than if his mother was called. Believe me, it was his idea and
I don't think I could talk him into changing it. . . . Unless you
don't want to be listed," she finished, letting the words hang in the
air between the oceans.

"Of course not. I want to be listed. I just thought . . . Never mind
what I thought. It's fine. At least I know I can sign my own name.
I was prepared to forge, if necessary."

Dana's laugh was crystal clear over the line. "Remember who
you're talking to, Mom. I'd hate to have to take you in for

"You'd be aiding and abetting," I pointed out.

"Point made. Go get him signed in and then let him know that I -
I'm thinking of him."

"I'll tell him, sweetheart. Good night."

"Night, Mom."

End of part 1/2

Just Checking
by Vickie Moseley

Disclaimers in Part 1

Part 2/2

I hurried back to the cubicle.

Again, an orderly appeared out of nowhere and prepared the
various IV's and machines for the move. "All aboard," the young
man said cheerfully and nodded that I was to follow.

I felt odd, walking next to the gurney. I kept looking at his face,
wondering when Fox would wake up and give me that slightly
befuddled look I've seen before. Like he's expecting someone
there, just not me.

He gave me that look when he and Dana came home from the
North Sea. When I got to Bethesda Naval Hospital, I didn't
recognize my baby girl. But within 36 hours, she was awake and
looking more like herself. Fox, on the other hand, was still very

They had taken Dana down for another of the endless tests they
kept giving her and I was alone with Fox. The doctors had assured
us that he would be coming out of his coma soon. Dana was afraid
he would wake up while she was out of the room and had almost
refused to leave him. I assured her that I would be there.

I'll never forget how it happened. The first indication of his waking
was a small groan. It was followed almost immediately by a couple
of swallows, but I knew his throat would be dry. The doctors had
limited all intake of fluids to IV's only for both of them, and Dana
had complained that her throat felt like sandpaper. When I realized
that Fox was waking up, I grabbed for the ice chips, remembering
that the nurse had instructed me to give him only a few spoonfuls.

Fox opened his eyes and started to smile. He was obviously not
lucid, yet, but I was so happy to see him awake at all that I really
didn't give it a second thought. As his vision cleared, though, he
became upset. He called for Dana, tried to get out of bed. He was
still too weak and hooked up to a dozen machines, so he wasn't
successful, but by that time, Dana was back. She was able to settle
him down.

I hoped that didn't happen again this time, especially with Dana not
due back for a day and a half.

Later that night, I prayed it would happen.

By the time he was settled in his room, it was close to 8 pm. The
nurse offered to turn on the TV for me, but I didn't want to disturb
Fox. He had been sleeping for some time and that was what he
needed. I had a book in my purse and settled down in the chair by
his bed to read.

I must have dozed off sometime, but I remember waking up to a
noise. It was a soft sound at first, but gradually grew in volume
until I recognized it as crying. I found myself in a dark room, the
nurse had obviously turned off the light. With just the lights of the
parking lot below the window to guide me, I leaned over Fox.

I put my hand on his forehead. He was still very hot. I could see
him struggling for every breath with that sticky, wet sound in his
chest. It made me ache. I thought I could make out sweat on his
face, but then the nurse came in and the light from the hallway
spilled across his bed so I could see the dampness on his cheeks.
There were tear tracks.

"He's having a nightmare," I told the nurse, who was going about
her usual checks.

"Poor thing. Fevers will do that," she clucked, but it was clear that
there was nothing she felt she could do about it.

"He's still so hot. Do you think it would help if I put some cool
compresses on his face and neck. That always worked wonders
with my . . . other children," I said, just catching myself in time.

"Sure, if you like. Here, you can use the small basin and there's a
wash cloth here," she said, quietly filling the bowl from the sink in
the bathroom. "There. Let me know if you need anything else."

She left us alone and I got to work. I can't count the number of
times I'd done this in my life. When I was younger, before I got
married, I was the second oldest in a family of 7. When the little
ones came down with a fever, it was often up to me to take over
when Mom was needed elsewhere. I learned quickly not to get the
water too cold and not to leave the cloth too wet. By the time I
was married, with children of my own, I was a pro.

Fox seemed to relax a little as I bathed his face. He even smiled a
bit in his sleep. Before long, his breaths had become less ragged,
even though there was still a horrible wet rattle coming from his
chest. I decided it was doing him some good and determined to
keep at it as long as he could stand it.

Fox slept then. He seemed more comfortable after the compresses.
I sat reading and must have fallen asleep. The next thing I knew,
there was sunlight starting to peek between the slats of the window
blind. The phone next to his bed rang, making me jump a foot.


I should have realized Dana would be calling. But by my watch it
was only a little after 8 and it was three hours earlier in California.

"Sweetie, good morning. You're up early. What time is it?"

"Ten after five. I have to be downtown by seven, and that's about
an hour from Bill house. I wanted to see how Mulder's doing."

The nurse had come in, taking blood pressure and checking his
lungs with a stethoscope. I looked up at her. "Is the doctor
coming by any time soon?"

"I think I saw her down the hall."

"My daughter is very anxious to find out how Fox is doing. She's a
medical doctor, too. She's in California and she's about to leave
for a meeting."

"I'll see if I can get her down here," the nurse offered and hurried
out the door. I told Dana about our night, and the nightmares. She
wasn't that surprised.

"He gets them every time he's sick, Mom. And sometimes when
he's not sick."

I started to respond to that when the doctor came in. "I hear we
had a relatively good night," she said cheerfully, then focused her
attention on Fox. After checking him over, she nodded to the
phone. I handed it over immediately.

"Dr. Scully, I presume." Dr. Hassis then related Fox' general
condition, the medication he was receiving to reduce the fever and
pain in his chest and lungs. It was pretty one sided, with Dana
asking a lot of questions that I couldn't hear, but finally Dr. Hassis
smiled and handed the phone back to me.

"Dana, this is costing your brother a fortune," I chided her.

"No, Mom, it's not. I'm on a calling card. I picked up a few
before I left. When you've been around Mulder a while, you learn
to be prepared."

"Well, do you feel better, after talking to the doctor?"

"Much. But I'm still skipping out on the dinner tonight. I got a
flight that leaves at midnight. I'll be there tomorrow morning, as
fast as I can."

"I can't pick you up at the airport, sweetheart. Unless . . ."

"No, Mom, stay with Mulder. He'll be waking up about then, if
he's running true to form. I'll catch the metro and meet you at the

"You better get going. Don't want you to be late."

"No worry, there, Mom. And you can reach me at my cell phone
all day today. I'll probably call tonight, after I get home."

"I'll be waiting."

After our usual 'I love yous' I hung up and sat back down.

During the day, the nurses were wonderful to me. First, one of
them went down to the family room and got me a nice selection of
magazines to read. Then, at lunch, one of them brought me a roast
beef sandwich and iced tea from a lunch that belonged to a patient
who had been released earlier in the morning. Several times when
they came in to check Fox, they would mention that there was a cot
in the nurses lounge, if I would need it. I politely declined.

Fox slept for the morning, but by afternoon, his temp was back up.
His face was flushed again and he was so restless. He tossed and
turned, tangling his legs in the sheets on the bed. I caught his hand
once, when he flailed and almost tore out the IV needle in his wrist.
After that, I sat close enough so I could hold that hand, just in case.

I've sat with high fevers before. Charlie came down with Scarlet
Fever when he was 5 and it was all I could do to keep him in bed.
High fevers make some people so restless and Fox was that sort of
person. One of the nurses suggested to another that they might
have to use restraints on him, just to make sure he didn't hurt
himself. I asked for more water and compresses, hoping to avoid
that measure.

For hours, I sat there, wetting the cloth, wringing it out, patting his
forehead and his face, his arms and his chest. His hair quickly
became damp and feathered out across his skin, so dark against his
ghostly pale features. Only his cheeks and the tips of his ears
showed any color and it was bright red. It struck me that he looked
like a little boy just in from a sleigh ride. But it was back in the
90's outside, and in the hospital room, the temperature was a warm

The nurse came in at five and took his temperature again. His
breathing had become shallower in the half hour before and I was
growing worried. By the look on the nurse's face, she was
worried, too.

"I'm going to page Dr. Hassis. I think she'll want to take a look."

"Is something wrong?" I asked. With the way she was acting, I
was even more worried.

"I just think Dr. Hassis will want to check on him again," she said
and left us. I went back to my work with the water and the cloths.
Dr. Hassis was there in just a little over 15 minutes, according to
the clock on the wall.

"Well, they tell me he's not cooling off. We have him on some
analgesics, that should be doing something."

"He tends to run a high temp," I told her, remembering what Dana
had confided in me.

"I'm going to try something new. It's an antipyretics. Has he
started coughing, yet?"

I shook my head no. He hadn't coughed at all.

Dr. Hassis seemed to glare at him, though I knew she wasn't angry.
"We might have to change expectorants, too. Has he had
respiratory problems in the past?"

I searched my mind. I only knew about the last five years.
Anything could have happened before that. Then I remembered.
"He was exposed to a retro virus a few years ago."

I hoped I was phrasing it correctly. When Dana had called me from
Alaska, all I knew of retro viruses was what I'd heard on the
medical news about AIDS and HIV. I'd been devastated. Then
Dana informed me that there were other retro viruses and that Fox
was actually building immunities to the one that had infected him.
But his lungs were a big problem. She said they were worried that
there might be some scar tissue.

"Is there scar tissue in his lungs?" I asked.

She broke out of her stare to look over at me. "Not enough to
cause us any problems. He must have had a severe respiratory
infection with the virus, huh?"

I shrugged. "He was in Alaska. All I had to go on were phone
calls at one in the morning."

Dr. Hassis chuckled. "Not the best conditions for committing his
treatment to memory. I'll check his medical records again. Do you
remember _when_ he had the retro virus? His files are thicker than
my arm."

"Late February of '95, I think."

"Thanks, that gives me a place to start. I'll be out at the desk for a
while. If he gets to hard to handle, just call, all right?"

I nodded and watched her leave. I thought about calling Dana, but
realized with the time difference, she'd be right in the middle of her
seminar. It would scare her to death to call her and she wouldn't
be able to get back any faster. Besides, Dr. Hassis had already
impressed me as a competent, caring doctor. I decided to see what
she could come up with on her own.


I turned back and found Fox with tears streaming down his cheeks.
His eyes were still closed tightly. I knew he was caught up in some

"I'm right here, sweetheart. Right here." I proved my statement by
kissing his forehead and bringing the cool compress down his face
and arms.

"Hurts. Hurts . . . s-s-so bad," he struggled to get out.

I knew it hurt, it was hurting me just to watch. "I know,
sweetheart. I know. But the doctors are working so hard,
sweetheart. They're going to find a new medicine to help with the
fever. And I'm right here, I'm not going anywhere."

He seemed to cry harder for a moment, then settled down again,
exhausted. That worried me more than the crying.

"Sweetheart, I know you're tired. I know you just want to make it
all go away. But Dana needs you Fox. I need you. Just hang in
there, all right, sweetheart. Don't go away from us."

Dr. Hassis came in a few minutes later. "I think I've got a handle
on it. I am switching expectorants, they used a different one in
Alaska and had good results. And we'll try the new antipyretics.
You're right, he does tend to run high fevers, but keeping it down
will help him clear his lungs easier. It's gonna be messy.
Pneumonia is a bitch, if you'll excuse the expression."

"As long as he's getting better, he can be as messy as he wants," I
told her and she smiled.

"Bet you didn't say that when he was two," she chuckled back. I
had to bite my lip to keep from chuckling, too. I didn't know Fox
Mulder existed when he was two, and the image of a toddler with
Fox' intensity and inquisitiveness was enough to send shivers down
my spine.

The fever reducer and the new expectorant seemed to kick in about
the same time. His fever, which had been hovering near 104 all
afternoon, dropped to 102 and then to 101. But about the same
time, he started coughing. Foul stuff that I was glad was out of him
and not festering in his lungs. But Dr. Hassis had been right, it was
a messy night.

By morning, we were both exhausted. The morning nurse came in
and took one look at me, then put her hands on her hips.

"When was the last time you ate?"

I felt like I was back in Sr. Mary Matthews class and I had just been
caught with gum in my mouth.

"Uh, I had that roast beef sandwich at noon yesterday."

"Yesterday! That's all! That's it, missy. You march right down to
the cafeteria and get some breakfast. NOW! I have to change the
bed and do some other things in here and I'd have to shoo you out
anyway. So go make the best of it." She gave me a tender smile
and a reassuring pat on the shoulder as I gathered my purse and
left. Before I left I heard her congratulating her sleeping patient on
finally breaking his fever. It made me feel giddy with pride.

I did have breakfast. A Captain's meal, as Bill used to call them.
Eggs over easy, a slice of ham, an English muffin with strawberry
preserves and melon cubes. And coffee, two cups of it. It was
wonderful. But before long I was itching to get back to see how
Fox was doing.

As I passed the nurses desk, one of them called to me. "Your
daughter just called. She's at the airport and expects to be here in
about 45 minutes. Your children are awfully close, aren't they?"

My head was still reeling from two little sleep and I almost slipped
up, but I caught myself. "Yes, they are close. Very close."

I tiptoed into the room. Fox was sleeping. His breathing sounded
so much better, now that the horrible stuff that had filled his lungs
was coming out. I tucked the blankets around him a little and
leaned over to kiss his forehead. Then I sat down in my chair

He turned his head toward me, and I think he was trying to open his
eyes. He was just too tired, though and so his lids stayed shut.

"Fox?" I didn't want to wake him, but I wanted him to know I was

He answered immediately. "Mom?"

"How do you feel, sweetheart?"

"Hurts, Mom." It was the first time he'd been able to answer a
direct question. As much as he was hurting, I was happier than I'd
been in days.

"I know it does. You've been so sick. Dana will be here soon,

He looked a little confused for a second and then, slowly, it was
like everything fell into place.

"Mom," he said again, this time his voice sounded stronger, more
like himself and not a frightened child.

"Yes, Fox."

And he opened his eyes. The minute he looked at me, his face
broke into the brightest smile. I'd been so afraid that the fever
might have done some damage, but this was the Fox Mulder I knew
looking at me. It made me feel warm all over.


My children are very dear to me. All of them.

the end.


"Politics is a character flaw."

George Brown, politician and former mayor.