Subject:Dark Corners by Susan Proto
Date: Sun, 30 Aug 1998

Category: Story, Angst, MulderTorture, MSR, M/S/Sk friendship,

Rating: PG13 for language and images of Child Abuse/Neglect

Spoilers: Minor ones for "Quagmire", "Follie au Deux", "The End," and
"FTF"- more like a post FlickFic.

Summary: Mulder faces an unseen enemy with devastating results.

Author comment: Someday I'll write a nice story where nothing happens to
our hero. Today was not the day.

Archive: Yes

Disclaimer: Mulder, Scully, Maggie, Walter, and William, Samantha and Tena
(I still hate that name) Mulder, Jeffrey Spender, and Krycek 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>

Flames will be noted, but constructive feedback will be appreciated and
acknowledged! Thanks in advance, my friends!

And thank you to my CyberMuse, Vickie Moseley for her honesty in helping me
keep true to the characters.

Dark Corners
by Susan Proto (

Part 1/3

Mulder opened his eyes gingerly, though his right eye remained closed due to
the swelling that embraced it. He moved to turn his head to gain a better
look at his surroundings, but soon realized that would be impossible for at
least a little while longer. At least until the excruciating pain ceased
and reduced to but a mere, dull throb.

When his left eye finally focused on his surroundings, Mulder realized he
laid in a dark corner of his office. At least, what was his temporary office, or
more specifically, what was left of his temporary office. He wondered
ruefully to himself why, of late, he was having such a tough time keeping an
office in one piece.

He and Scully had been moved upstairs until the renovations in their
basement headquarters were completed. The AD had managed to find an oversized, but
underutilized, utility closet on the same floor as his own office for the
two to work out of until the last traces of the basement fire were eradicated.


Oh God, Scully.

Mulder wondered where the hell was she? He tried to call out her name, but
all that came out of his throat was a woefully hoarse, croaking noise. He
realized he was unable to make a comprehensible sound, though he wasn't sure

Mulder tried again to look around him with a bit more success this time. He
moved his head a quarter turn to the right and then turned it back again.
He groaned in pain the slight movement had caused, mainly because it was a
futile move. He wasn't able to see anything clearly. There was obviously debris
on top of him, and he didn't know if he had the strength to remove it.

He began to ease pieces of plaster and wood, as well as office debris, off
of himself. His throat began to hurt a great deal now, which explained his
inability to speak clearly. He concluded something had hit him hard across
his throat which probably accounted for the laryngitis. He didn't even want
to think about the possibility it might be permanent.

He was able to remove hunks of debris off of his upper body for which he was
most grateful, as he was now able to breathe more easily. Mulder hadn't
even realized his breathing was labored until he was finally able to take a deep
breath, relatively speaking, of course. Mulder was pretty sure something
had hit him hard across the chest, and if it had not cracked a rib, it certainly
had bruised it. Badly.

The agent did a damage count. Bruised esophagus. Bruised rib. Swollen
right eye which limited his vision, both direct and peripheral. So far, nothing
that couldn't, most likely, heal.

Then he looked down.

And he screamed.


"Sir? Sir? Are you okay?" Scully called out anxiously.


"Sir?" she called again. "Where are you?"

"Over here by what used to be my desk. There's God damned glass all over
me. I'm afraid to move for fear I'll be shard to death," Walter Skinner said in
a frustrated, but equally anxious voice.

"Don't move. I'm coming over," Scully said as she walked very carefully on
the unstable flooring to where her boss laid trapped by spikes of window

"Scully, be careful. It's sharp."

"I can see that," she said and then added reassuringly, "I'm being careful,

The name still didn't roll off her tongue with confidence, but it was
getting easier and easier to use as the weeks passed. Ever since she and Mulder
made it back from Antarctica, Walter Skinner had become very much a part of the
equation. It was through his efforts the X-Files were reopened, and it was
through his efforts the basement office was being renovated.

It was Walter who found the temporary office space for them to use until the
renovations were finished, and it was Walter Skinner who made it his
personal responsibility to make sure his two agents were safe from harm. He'd become
a fixture in their lives before any of them realized it, and once they did,
they all agreed it was about time.

There was a comfortable camaraderie between the three of them, and a trust
level was gained none of them had ever felt possible. So by the third time
Scully had fed the two men in her life dinner at her apartment, the AD
informed his two agents it was time to toss formality out the window, and
they were to address him as Walter.

At least during off hours.

This time was most likely an exception to that rule, so as Scully made the
trek over to her boss, she was pretty much in doctor mode and speaking in
that doctor "speak" tone of voice, in an attempt to soothe him. All the while,
she addressed him by his first name.

"Walter, are you hurt anywhere. It's going to be fine. I'm almost there.
Hang in there, Walter. Just another second."

When she finally reached him, Scully took out a couple of latex gloves she
was always in the habit of carrying and put the two on her left hand. She hoped
it might provide some protection as she lifted the larger pieces of glass
off of Skinner's body. He had several cuts, a few rather deep ones which more
than likely required stitches, but nothing that looked life threatening.

Several minutes passed and Scully proclaimed it was safe for the AD to try
and stand. "Just do it slowly, Sir, in case I missed anything."

He followed her directions and stood up slowly, which was a good thing,
since he had lost some blood and felt a bit woozy. Scully caught him by the elbow
and helped to steady him. When he finally gained control back, he took the
time to survey the damage.

"Jeeze, would you look at this place?" he gasped.

The windows were blown out, of course, and there were several gaping holes
in the office walls. Most of the furniture was over on its sides and overturned
files and papers floated listlessly in the breeze that resulted from the
gaping hole in what was once a large window behind Skinner's desk.

"Bomb." He said it in such a matter of fact tone, as if there were no reason
to doubt that was what caused the debris swirling about them. Which of
course, there wasn't, but that didn't stop Scully from questioning the logic
of the assumption.

"Bomb?" Scully echoed in question. "Who? Why? There was no notification,
no warning. Why wasn't there a call?"

"Maybe because the bomber didn't give a damn who he killed, as long as he
had his big boom," Skinner said dryly.

"Or maybe, he wanted to make sure he got his target, and didn't care who
else bit the dust with him," Scully replied in kind. Then she slowly raised her
eyes to meet Skinner's gaze. Her mouth puckered in a small gasp, and
mouthed the word as Skinner said it aloud.


The two of them moved as quickly out of the door as they safely could.


Neither Scully nor Skinner could believe the devastation they saw in the
hallway. It was apparent to them both Skinner's office received only the
peripheral effects of the bomb's blast. As they moved closer and closer to
Mulder and Scully's temporary office, they instinctively knew who the target

And it wasn't Skinner.

And it wasn't Scully.

And both of them wondered if it were possible their friend and partner could
have survived this.

The door was blown off. The ceiling had collapsed onto the floor of the
office. The office furniture was topsy-turvy, and the computer hardware was
scattered about, smashed in several hundred pieces. It was dark in the
room, as the one overhead light dangled uselessly. The desk lamps were nothing
more than twisted pieces of scrap.

"Mulder?" Skinner called out. "Mulder, are you in here?" He prayed
fervently he was not. He feared what he and Scully would find if he was.

Neither heard a response, but Scully called out again anyway. She knew
sometimes her voice would trigger a response from her partner when others'
did not. "Mulder, it's me. Where are you?"

They both heard it. It was a shallow, yet gruff moaning, but it was
definitely a response to Scully's call. "Mulder, we're here. We're going
to get you out of here. I promise," she reassured.

As they cautiously picked their way toward the sound of the moan, there was
no doubt in either Skinner's or Scully's mind the bomber meant for Fox Mulder
to be the target of the explosion. The room was unrecognizable.

Scully and Skinner prayed Fox would be.


Mulder had almost felt her presence before he'd heard her call out his name.
Mulder knew he should feel grateful for Scully and Skinner's arrival, but
typical Mulder anxiety took over. Full throttle.

As much as Mulder wanted Scully to find him, that was also how much he
wanted to crawl into a hole and disappear forever. He didn't want her see him this
way. His leg. Oh God, it was gone. He couldn't let her see him like this.

Mulder felt as though he wanted to die. He couldn't go on as a field agent
without his leg. He couldn't go on living as a cripple. He would be
useless to his quest, to himself, but most of all to Scully. Scully would feel
compelled to take care of him and the last thing in the world he wanted was
for Scully to feel obligated to play nursemaid to him.

*Go away, Scully. You can't help me. No one can help me,* he thought
forlornly to himself.

Yet as much as part of him didn't want her to see him in his condition, the
other part of him did. He needed Scully's strength to get through this,
because he knew if he were to survive the loss of his leg, it would only be
through her support. But he was so afraid. The last time he felt this kind
of fear and helplessness was when Samantha was taken.

So, Mulder did something he hadn't done since his sister was abducted before
his very eyes.

He prayed.

He'd prayed and prayed for her to find him, to help him, and to be strong
for both of them.

His act of praying felt strange yet familiar all at the same time. Mulder
had actually stopped believing in God when he was child, even before Sam was
taken. He hadn't allowed himself the luxury of believing in a higher power
back then out of desperation and fear of his father.

The elder Mulder, William, felt it was a waste of time and good money. So,
Fox, the child, who wanted to please his father more than anything in the
world, refused to believe in a God that was more than likely a fraud.

Unfortunately, William Mulder was never terribly impressed with the younger
Mulder's efforts to emulate him. In fact, William used the boy's efforts to
imitate him as justification for punishing his son even more, as he accused
the child of trying to mock his beliefs.

When Fox was unable to convince his father otherwise, the child tried to
reverse his position. As he begged his father to refrain from punishing
him, the young boy made silent prayers to a God he could not see. He prayed for
help to be able to stop the man who called himself a father from brutalizing
him again.

It never worked.

The bruises were usually hidden well enough, so when the child moved about
the school stiffly, no one ever questioned it. No one ever asked William
Mulder's child why he couldn't stand up straight.

Not the important government man. No, no one ever questioned his
explanations of having an extremely clumsy child.

Even though the clumsy child was a star athlete on the Little League team.

Even though the clumsy child was an exceptionally strong swimmer for the
Quonochontaug Summer Swim League.

Even though the clumsy child was a starting forward on the Chilmark High
School Basketball team.

No one ever questioned the bruises under the uniform. Fox Mulder made
wearing a tee shirt under the basketball jersey fashionable way before the NBA did.
All the better to cover up the bruises for the home team crowd. So, though
the home team cheered each basket Fox made, the abuse at home continued.

That's about when Fox Mulder finally, and irrevocably, gave up on the notion
of a benevolent God.

Until now. He prayed for Scully to find him and his prayers were answered.

Now, if only his other prayers were answered.

"Sccccc__," he tried to call out, but it was too painful.

"Mulder, I'm here. We're right here, and we're going to help you," she
called in an attempt to comfort.

The AD and agent walked as carefully as they could. The floor appeared to
be somewhat unstable, but the roof apparently was more unstable. Pieces of it
kept crashing down on top of them every few steps they took. When another
piece of the ceiling fell, Skinner jumped to his left.

"Shit!" he cried out. "What the hell was that?"

"It looks like the metal rods that hold the ceiling squares in place,"
Scully responded.

"How in heavens name would you know that?" Skinner asked.

"I'd stepped down in the basement office to check on the progress and
watched them install new ones. The old ones melted somewhat during the fire and
warped," she replied.

Skinner nodded at her explanation and continued on his precarious walk to
find his agent. He called out to him, as he wanted to make sure he was still
conscious. When he heard a low moan, he tried to make his way over to
Mulder a little bit faster.

"Walter, take it easy. This place is a death trap, and I don't want to have
to rescue two of you," Scully admonished, yet all the while she too picked
up speed to get to her partner.

Walter and Scully reached him at about the same time. It was difficult to
make out his form in the darkened corner of the room, but Scully moved to
his right side, and Skinner settled in on his left side.

Scully pulled out her key chain from her pocket which held a small penlight.
Scully quickly kneeled down to check his pupils to see if he suffered from a
concussion. She felt his head for bumps and checked his face for cuts and
contusions. She picked up his hand to check his pulse.

When Mulder looked up at her and really focused in on her eyes, Scully
responded and said, "Hey partner. How ya feeling?"

"Sccc__," he began in response but stopped.

Scully brought the penlight to Mulder's throat and saw it was badly bruised.
"Looks like you got hit right on the throat Mulder. Don't talk now. You'll
only aggravate whatever damage has been done."

He looked at her as she held his right hand in her palm and raised his left
hand and pointed down in front of him. "Sccc___," he began again.

"___Shhh. I told you not to speak. We'll get you out of here as soon as
we can, okay?" she responded soothingly.

Skinner listened with his ears to Scully's verbal ministrations, but he felt
compelled to follow Mulder's pointing finger. He looked forward and then
down toward Mulder's legs. His eyes had finally adjusted somewhat to the dark
and focused on what laid before him, but his mind took a couple of extra seconds
to interpret what it was exactly he saw.

And once those seconds passed, Skinner didn't know what to do first.

He wanted to scream.

He wanted to vomit.

He wanted to cry.

Instead, he spoke calmly.

"Agent Scully, we need to get this man to a hospital as quickly as possible.
We also need to gather as much ice as possible. Would you please go out to
the hallway and tell the agents to go to the ice machine and fill up a
large, clean trash bag with ice."

"Ice? Sir, I don't understand," Scully responded in confusion.

"Scully. Ice. Now." And then he pointed towards Mulder's legs.

And it was then Scully saw what Walter Skinner saw.

Fox Mulder's left leg laid in place, totally severed right below the knee.

"We have to find it, Sir," Scully cried out tremulously.

"I'll find it. Go get the ice." When she didn't move, he raised his voice,
perhaps a little too loudly, but it was effective.

"Dana! Ice!"

She squeezed her partner's hand once and then stood to weave the dangerous
path back out of the office.

Meanwhile, Skinner stood up and sifted through the carnage for his agent's
leg. He knew the sooner he found the limb and put it on ice, the more
likely the chance there was to save it. It looked like it was a clean cut right
below the knee, so hopefully the other part of the limb was equally clean.

Several minutes passed when Scully returned empty handed.

"Where's the bag of ice?" Skinner asked angrily.

"I sent a couple of Agents for it. Kim is keeping on the lookout for the
EMT's and I came back to help you look for the limb," she replied calmly.

"Scully, about before. I'm sorry," he began apologetically.

"It's okay. Let's just find the leg." She set about picking up fallen
ceiling material and office debris. They looked for several more minutes
when a young agent appeared at the door with a black trash bag laden down with

"I had to triple bag it, Ma'am, since I was afraid it would tear," the young
man stammered slightly. "Is there anything else I can do for you?"

Scully was tempted to ask the young agent to come into the office and help
them look for the limb, but she decided against it for two reasons. First,
the room was unstable and could collapse even more onto itself than it
already had. She didn't want to be responsible for any injury to the young man.
Second, she didn't think she could haul the young man out if he fainted upon
actually finding the limb.

"No, Agent Cranston. Thank you for the ice. Please leave it by the door."
She hesitated for a minute and then called out, "Cranston, wait! Can you
get your hand on a couple of flashlights? There's no light in here, and it
would help us to find what we're looking for."

"What are you looking for, ma'am?" he asked innocently.

"Something important. Go find the flashlights, now!" she ordered firmly.

The agent was back within seven minutes with the flashlights.

Skinner had found the leg within six. Agent Cranston swayed a bit upon the
sight of his AD hoisting the torn limb up to place it into the bag of ice.

Scully and he moved quickly to cover it totally with the ice in order to
preserve it. Scully couldn't understand what was taking the EMT's so long
to arrive. Time was of the essence if they were to be able to reattach
Mulder's leg.

As Scully returned to Mulder's side to check on his vitals she heard Skinner
shouting in his best AD voice, "Get the hell in here now. We have an agent
down." Those last words, however, were not so much as shouted out as they
were choked out.

Scully moved up towards Mulder's head so she might still be near him, but
out of the technician's way while they treated him. Scully explained they'd
found the limb and had it on ice.

"Good girl," replied the tall, dark, good looking EMT.

Skinner smiled wryly to himself and counted silently. One. Two. Three. Now.

"That's Dr. Scully to you," she replied forcefully.

"Oh. Right. Yes, Doctor. I apologize. I didn't know.''

"Forgive him Dr. Scully, for he has sinned," chuckled Paramedic Tony
Sullivan. "Roger here is new to the team and simply didn't know any better."

Scully looked at Tony and smiled as she recognized him from a couple of
other calls he'd made to their rescue. "All is forgiven. Let's just get my
partner to the hospital STAT, okay?"

Both medics nodded immediately and set to work to getting Mulder on the
stretcher and to the operating table as quickly as possible.


As the sirens screamed, Mulder imagined he was in another time when he'd
ridden to the hospital in such a hurry.

He 'd been in high school and had to stay late for basketball practice, but
he'd forgotten to remind his mother he'd be late. He knew he'd written it
on the kitchen calendar. He knew he'd reminded her verbally at the beginning
of the week.

But for mom, that hadn't always been effective enough. Especially since
his sister's disappearance. She'd found comfort in a haze of Valium
prescriptions his father had kept refilling for her. Mulder always wondered how William
Mulder managed to keep his wife's cache of pills constantly overflowing,
but he did.

So, Tena Mulder needed to be reminded of an event on the very day of said
event, or she'd forget, and she then she'd worry. She'd worry her little boy
was taken as her little girl had been taken. And that gave William Mulder a
reason to be angry.

And then William Mulder needed someone to vent his anger on. So when Fox
walked through the back door, tired and sweaty from the practice, and
totally oblivious to the worry he'd caused his mother, his father began to vent.

And he didn't stop venting until Tena Mulder appeared. And even through her
drugged stupor, she knew William Mulder would not stop venting his anger
until the boy was dead, or until she stopped him.



He remembered hearing a voice, a worried, frightened voice in the ambulance
back then too. He wanted to call out to him and tell him he'd be okay. He
didn't kill him this time. He'd make it out just fine. But he couldn't make
his voice work. All that came out were grunts and groans and painful
But he heard the soothing voice. Cooing to him. Telling him he would be

*I love you, son. You're going to be just fine, you'll see. Hang in
there, boy. The doctors will fix you right up, and then everything will be fine.
I'll be there for you , Fox, I promise you, I'll be there for you, like

Mulder heard the voice in his head and wanted to believe him so badly. This
was to be the time he spoke the truth. This was the time he would make it
up to him and then never, ever, hurt him again. This was the time Fox would be
able to believe in him.

He wanted to believe in him.

"Everything will be all right, Mulder. You'll see. Everything is going be
just fine. Hang in there, partner. Please."

He didn't hear any of the tears behind the words.
End of Part 1/3

Dark Corners
by Susan Proto (

Disclaimers in Part 1

Part 2/3

He'd been in surgery for a few hours already, but it was expected to go on
for quite a while yet. In fact, the doctors had told them the surgery could go
on for as much as fifteen hours.

The surgeon commended the quick thinking on the agents' parts in finding the
limb and getting it on ice so quickly. Of course the agents had to realize
there were no guarantees, but their quick action certainly increased the
odds of Mulder regaining at least some use of the leg.

There had been three microsurgical teams assembled. They sometimes worked
in shifts, and sometimes in tandem, depending upon exactly what needed to be
surgically done at any given moment.

The first team identified the blood vessels and nerves in the amputated
extremity. They also needed to note any bone fractures that resulted from
the severing.

Next the anesthesiologist administered the anesthesia to the patient. The
blood vessels and nerves were identified in the amputation stump by the
second surgical team. They then worked to re-establish temporary arterial and
venous flow to the limb by using a shunt, while surgery was performed to repair the
many bone fractures.

As the third microsurgical team worked to graft the various gaps in both
nerves and veins, they also found it necessary to graft material form the
thigh muscle to the calf muscle to ensure a more complete healing. Mulder's
vitals were carefully monitored and he was medicated with Dextran which
acted as an anticoagulant. The last thing Mulder's leg needed was a less than
totally free-flowing blood supply.


As the hours dragged on for Mulder's surgery, Skinner and Scully set up a
make-shift strategic headquarters in a small room the hospital administrator
made available. He cooperated fully, so the agents wouldn't tie up the
waiting room and scare to death the other waiting families. The medical
staff had been immediately made aware of the necessity for total security for
Agent Mulder, as he had been the probable target of an assassination attempt.

Someone wanted to see Mulder dead, and it was obvious they were willing to
go to any length to see the deed done. Skinner made it very clear to the
hospital staff, there was _no_ reason to believe, once the bomber learned
his first attempt failed, the UNSUB would not make another attempt.

Fox Mulder was to be guarded under the heaviest security available. No one
was to go in or out of his room without first clearing two FBI Security
Agents with hand held metal detectors. That included all medical personnel, from the lab techs to the orderlies, as well as the nurses, interns, residents, and surgeons. Skinner reluctantly
included all law enforcement personnel on the list as well.

No one was to be allowed in his room without a thorough search and
clearance. All weapons were to be left in a secured lock box outside the room with the
guards. Not even he or Scully would be permitted to enter Mulder's room
without going through a security check.

Scully, in an attempt to save her sanity through the long wait, coordinated
the forensics team, while Skinner took care of coordinating the
investigation from the security vantage point.

Scully first instructed her forensics team to go through the X-Files Office
with a fine tooth comb to find anything and everything that could help them
determine what kind of a bomb was used and its location. She also had them
brush the office for prints, hoping since the room had been freshly painted
just prior to their setting up a temporary home there, any print other than
hers or Mulder's might offer them a clue as to who the UNSUB was.

Skinner barked orders to the security staff and demanded a thorough review
of any and all surveillance tapes that might give them a hint as to whether
there were any individuals who did not have justification for being near or
in Mulder's office at any given time. He knew there were tapes of those going
in and out of the Hoover, but he was also aware of the security tapes which
documented the hallway traffic of his floor at headquarters.

In addition to the tape reviews, Skinner ordered all staff on the bombed out
floor of the Hoover Building be interviewed. He realized this would take
time, but it was one of the few methods left available to them in,
hopefully, identifying the UNSUB.


"How long has it been?" Skinner asked wearily.

"What time is it?" she replied equally drained.

"It's going on__," he paused for a moment as he tried to get his very tired
eyes to focus on his watch, "__ six thirty."

"Oh sweet Jesus, it's been seven hours. I'm going to go ask if there's any
news," she said, determined to try and do something to make the time go

Skinner simply sat in the uncomfortable, blue, molded plastic chair. He was
waiting for word back from the security division regarding the security
tapes. He knew it was probably futile, but Skinner said a few silent prayers they
would see a man walking through the halls of the Hoover with a sign
plastered on his forehead which simply stated, 'Bomber'.

When Scully returned, he noted how pale she looked. Skinner wanted her to
rest, but knew she would put up a fight. "Any news?"

"No, not a word. I guess no news is good news, and they did say the surgery
would take anywhere from ten to fifteen___." Scully paused for a moment and
then murmured, almost to herself, "I just can't imagine Mulder being kept
under anesthesia for that long. He reacts so badly to it. He's going to
be so sick when he wakes up."

"Scully," Skinner called out gently so as to not startle her from her
thoughts, "close your eyes for a few minutes. You're exhausted."

"No, I'm fine, Sir."

"Damn it, don't 'Sir' me. I'm talking to you as a friend. Mulder needs us
both sharp. Please, go rest. Don't make me go into AD mode on you and have
to order you." He smiled in an effort to soften the harshness of his tone.
He was tired too, but Skinner knew the emotional toll was even greater on

"What about you?" she asked. "You're just as tired."

"You're right, which is why I fully intend to close my eyes as well. Our
cell phones are charged, and the surgical liaison knows we're in here waiting for
word. Nothing will happen if we both take a catnap, Dana."

She didn't know whether to glare at him with disdain for admitting he was
tired and weak, or throw her arms around him appreciatively for giving her
permission to show some frailty. It didn't make her a bad agent, a bad
friend, or a bad person. It simply meant she was human, and Walter was
merely reminding her of that fact.

"I will, if you will," she said in her most petulant tone.

"Deal." Skinner began to hunker down on the chair, trying desperately to
find a comfortable position. Dana watched him and determined he was serious, so
she followed suit. She sat down in another of the awful plastic chairs and
closed her eyes. She was asleep within three minutes.


The trill of the phone woke them. Neither was sure whose phone it was at
first, but Skinner finally determined it was his.

"Skinner," he croaked out. "Give me something to go on, folks."

When Skinner clicked off his cellular, Scully waited patiently for him to
fill her in. She did note, however, her boss suddenly looked very pale and
figured the reason laid behind that phone call.

"Walter? What the hell is going on?" she asked quietly.

"The surveillance team found a suspect, and the forensics team found some
matching prints inside the room," he responded.

A few moments passed when Scully couldn't stand it any longer. "Are you
going to tell me who the suspect is, or are you going to make me guess?"

"What? Oh. I'm sorry. I just don't know what to make of it, that's all,"
he began.

"Damn it, Walter. Who the hell are we talking about here?"

"It's one of our own, Dana," he answered bleakly. "Spender."


"The tapes picked up Jeffrey Spender entering the office at about ten thirty
p.m. last night. His prints were found on a few pieces of the explosive
device that hadn't shattered into a million pieces," Skinner explained.

"He didn't wear gloves?" Scully asked.

"Apparently he wore them when he entered the office, but I suppose when it
came time to install the bomb, his lack of experience necessitated him
taking the gloves off. I guess he figured the damned thing would blow up to
kingdom come and eradicate the evidence."

"Has he been arrested yet?" Scully asked anxiously. "Because when he's
brought in, I want to be the first to interrogate the sonofabitch."

"Scully, he's gone."

"What do you mean, he's gone," she replied angrily.

"He's disappeared off the face of the planet," Skinner answered wearily.

"Damn it. Damn it to hell," Scully cried out. "When the hell are we ever
going to catch a break?"


The time was now nine thirty p.m. Mulder had been in surgery for ten
straight hours, and both Scully and Skinner were beside themselves. The surgical
liaison had still not informed them of the progress from the operating room,
and the lack of information was enough to frustrate and worry the pair

"Why don't they let us know how it's going?" Scully lamented. "Walter, if
we don't get some word soon__," she began.

"Dana, we'll hear. Soon. They have to be on the tail end of the operation,
don't they?" he said in an attempt to calm both Scully and himself.

"What if it's not going well? Walter? What if he loses the leg?" she
whispered in horror.

"Dana, he may eventually lose the leg anyway, you know that."

"It'll kill him," she rasped. "You know it'll kill him if he loses the X-Files."

"We'll cross that bridge when we get to it. Right now, I just want to hear
they're making progress."

As if on cue, Karen Rutherford, the surgical liaison entered the room. "Dr.
Scully? Mr. Skinner? I've just received an update on Mr. Mulder's

Scully practically jumped right into Ms. Rutherford, while Skinner attempted
to maintain a more outwardly calm appearance, with very little success.

"Ms. Rutherford, please," Skinner began, "how is my agent?"

"The doctors want you to know the surgery is going well. It is very slow
and very tedious, and that's one of the reasons there are three shifts of
microsurgical teams in the operating room. They need to switch places every
few hours so no one team burns out too quickly.

"But Mr. Mulder's vital signs are strong. They also said to tell you the
severing was a clean one, which is making the reattachment that much easier,
though keep in mind, everything is relative," she concluded.

"Thank you, Ms. Rutherford," Scully said sincerely. "We've been waiting so
long for some information."

"I know, dear, and I'm so sorry you had to wait this long. Sometimes the
surgical teams lose track of time and just don't realize there are people
outside of the OR that are waiting," Rutherford replied sympathetically.

"How much longer?" Skinner asked. "Did they indicate how much longer
they'll be working on him? He has a low tolerance for anesthesia," he said taking a
quick look at Scully for confirmation.

"No, I'm sorry. There's no approximate completion time on the printout,"
the liaison replied. "As soon as I hear anything more, I'll inform you. I

As they waited, Skinner reviewed Agent Spender's file, which had been hand
delivered a little less than an hour before. The AD noted the two incidents
recorded in his file which detailed one moderate and one serious altercation
with Agent Mulder.

The first involved a shouting match between the two. This had occurred right
before the burning of the X-Files basement office. There were discrepancies
as to whether actual punches were thrown, but since no two witnesses could
clarify their observations, no formal hearing was held.

The second occurred after Mulder and Scully's return from Antarctica.
Spender was still certain Mulder was behind the disappearance of his mother,
Cassandra, who was still missing. He insisted Mulder knew where she'd been
taken, and demanded to know where she was.

Spender was livid when he'd arrived at the temporary quarters of the
X-Files, and since its location was, at the moment, within an earshot of the AD's
office, Skinner was able to observe first hand the animosity Spender held
towards Mulder.

Skinner recalled both Scully and Mulder tried their best to maintain a calm,
patient exterior, but Skinner knew, inside, both agents were ready to
throttle Spender. Skinner couldn't blame them. They'd just survived, barely, one of
the most horrific experiences of their lifetime, and this pigheaded,
egocentric, hothead was trying to lay the blame for yet one more problem in
the world at Mulder's feet.

Finally, Mulder had had enough, and quietly, but firmly, asked Spender to
leave the office. When Spender refused, Mulder repeated his request, but
had added he would enlist the aid of the security guards if he needed to. When
Spender refused once again, Mulder picked up the receiver to call over to
the Security Office. This apparently had been much too much for Agent Spender,
so he lunged at Mulder with all of his strength and knocked the phone out of
his hands.

There were several blows that came to pass, and both men had to be separated
by security guards. A notation was made in Spender's file, but none was
made in Mulder's as the AD determined Mulder, for a change, was in no way at

Skinner sighed as he closed the file. Jeffery Spender had it in for Mulder
from the very beginning. The question was, however, was Jeffery Spender a
player or a pawn? The second question was, unfortunately, would they ever
find him to answer the first question?

Mulder knew he was dreaming, but he had no power to fight it, so he
relinquished himself to it. He felt as though he were watching himself in
the dream, and that scared him because it meant there was a good possibility he
was not long for this world. Mulder wasn't sure if he were dead or not.

Not that it would surprise him. He just felt saddened at the thought of not
having the chance to say good bye to Sully.

The movement below him got his attention again. He watched as he saw his
father sit next to him and hold his hand. *But his father was dead,* he
thought to himself. Of course, there was the very real possibility he,
himself, was dead too. It still felt odd to watch his father hold his hand.
The oddity was how tenderly the older Mulder held his son's hand.

Caressed it. He gently rubbed his thumb in circles around the top of Fox's
hand. *Fox's hand,* he thought to himself. *Not Mulder's hand; Fox's.*
Mulder realized he was watching a much younger Fox Mulder laying in bed. He
observed the huge cast on the right leg and wondered how comfortable having
it elevated in that contraption could have been.

Mulder's discomfort increased as he watched his father whisper to the
unconscious Fox. 'Son, I'm sorry. I know you're probably going to be angry
with me, but you have to understand. This was for your own good. I love
you so much.

'I have to be the one to teach you. I'm all you have. You're mother is in
no condition to discipline you. Ever since__,' he paused momentarily before
continuing in a choked whisper, '___since you lost your sister, your mother
hasn't been able to care for you properly. You know that son, so it's up to
me. It's up to me to make sure you're taught the correct way.

'But I never meant to hurt you. You've got to believe me, Fox. I never,
ever meant to hurt you. Ever. You made me do it. You made me punish you so
hard, but it's because I love you, Fox, that I forced myself to do it. Yes, I had
to force myself to punish you."

Mulder watched the scene with tears were running down his cheeks, but at the
same time he felt so totally confused. He didn't know if this was reality,
or reality as he remembered it. And in either case, did his father really love

Mulder began to sob harder as he realized how much he wanted to believe his
father loved him. Even though Bill Mulder's kind of love had hurt more than
comforted him, Mulder wanted so badly to believe it was real.


"Nikail, would you please check the levels again. I don't want this patient
waking up in the middle of this surgery," demanded Dr. Simpson, in charge of
team 2 which was now on duty.

"The numbers are appropriate, Jim, why?" Dr. Nikail Ashra asked.

"Am I crazy, or is this poor guy crying?" Jim Simpon responded.

"Shit," Dr. Ashra replied. "Jim, he's down really deep. I think the poor
guy's dreaming."

"Why can't he dream of beautiful women and exotic beaches?" murmured Dr.
Alan Goldman, the orthopedic surgeon on the team.

"Damn, Alan," Dr. Ashra answered, "maybe he is." The anesthesiologist
looked at the mutilated limb that everyone was trying so desperately to save.


The surgery ended fourteen hours, thirty-seven minutes, and twenty-four
seconds after it had begun. Every team member shook hands with one another
in congratulations for a job well done. Every team member immediately said a
silent prayer to whatever God or deity he or she believed in to help make
those congratulations deserved.

Dr. Simpson was the first of the surgical team to appear in the makeshift
office. When he'd entered he, was surprised to see the intensity with which
the two people he had to meet with were working. They had not looked up
from the files their noses were buried in.

"Excuse me? I'm Dr. Simpson__. I'm one of the surgeons who operated on Mr.

Dana looked up slowly, as if she hadn't quite assimilated everything the
doctor had said. Skinner followed and his face held the same expression of

"You are the party waiting to hear about Mr. Mulder's condition, aren't
you?" asked Dr. Simpson.

Skinner was the first to recover and replied in the affirmative. He stood
and offered his hand and introduced himself. "Walter Skinner, Assistant Director
at the FBI. This is Special Agent Dana Scully. Dr. Scully is a forensics
pathologist as well as Fox Mulder's partner."

Skinner wanted to make sure the surgeon realized he wasn't speaking to two

"Ahh, yes, Mr. Skinner and _Dr._ Scully," Dr. Simpson began carefully. He
wanted to take this slowly and make sure these two understood completely
what had occurred over the last fifteen hours or so and what could be expected in
the next few hours, days, weeks, and months.

"Mr. Mulder has come through the surgery as well as can be expected. He'd
suffered a severe trauma as you well know, in addition to several other
injuries that are not life threatening at this point, but potentially as
dangerous as the traumatic amputation.

"Please, understand, our biggest concern at this point is infection and
pneumonia. He's suffered some badly bruised ribs which will make breathing,
and more importantly at this point of his recovery, coughing, very
uncomfortable for him. We've prescribed some pretty strong pain killers to
help him over that hurdle. We've got to get him to cough as soon as he
starts to wake up. We don't want the anesthesia settling in his lungs__."

"Dr. Simpson, in the past Mulder has had some fairly strong reactions to the
anesthesia. He tends to become sick to his stomach and vomits a great
deal," Scully informed.

"Thank you for that information. I'll put orders in for medication," Dr.
Simpson responded.

"He responds well to Compazine," Scully offered.

"Oh? Well, we'll see. There may be other meds more suitable," Dr. Simpson
replied somewhat tersely.

"Doctor, how's the leg?" Skinner asked quickly, in an attempt to cut through
the tension. "I mean, is there any chance he'll gain normal use of it

"Mr. Skinner, as I said, our biggest concern is infection and pneumonia.
The surgery went well. It was a very clean amputation. There were no jagged
edges to worry about, no torn or missing pieces of flesh to have to recreate
with multiple skin grafts__," he explained.

Skinner, however paled dramatically when he'd heard that description, and
when Simpson noticed the green under the gills expression, the doctor quickly
continued his point.

"All I'm saying is, the operation went well. Very well. However his
recovering use of the leg depends a great deal on his recuperative powers.
If we can avoid a major infection, there is hope he'll regain use of the leg,"
he explained.

"Will he regain full use?" Scully asked hopefully.

"Dr. Scully, you have no idea how much I want to say yes. There were three
teams of surgeons in there working their butts off so that could happen. We
all want to believe it can happen__." Dr. Simpson paused and took a deep

"But I won't lie to you. I don't know. To be honest, Dr. Scully, he's got
so many hurdles to go over before we even start thinking about him walking on
that leg, I strongly urge you all to take it one day at a time."

"When can we see him," Scully asked.

"He'll be in recovery for a few hours, but he should sleep through till
tomorrow easily," the doctor answered. "He'll be on the respirator for the
next twenty-four hours to help him deal with the fractured ribs. Breathing
would be tough without it."

"He hates the respirator. He'll fight it if someone's not there to explain
it's temporary, but necessary," Scully argued. "Please, I need to see him.
I have to let him know I'm here. Please."

"I need to go with her," Skinner said emphatically so there would be no

The doctor looked at them both with some mild irritation and then motioned
for them to follow him back out of the exit and through the swinging doors.
"Five minutes, Dr. Scully. Mr. Skinner, I need you to help me adhere to
that time restriction. Please."

The men nodded to one another in acknowledgment of what was expected.
Scully, meanwhile, walked over to Mulder's bed and quickly grasped his hand. She
bent down and whispered directly into his ear.

"I'm here, Mulder. You're going to be fine. Skinner's here too. We're
going to help you get through this, do you hear me? I love you, Mulder. I love
you and I'm going to help you."


Mulder felt the vibrations in his ear. He couldn't make out all of the
words, but he grasped a few. He thought he'd heard, 'Love you. Help you.' And as
he considered those words in his drugged stupor, all Fox Mulder could think
to himself was, 'Thank you, Daddy. I love you too. Help me, Daddy. Please,
help me.'

End of part 2/3

Dark Corners
by Susan Proto (

Disclaimers in Part 1

Part 3/3

Several hours passed and Mulder finally began to stir. Scully had managed
to make herself look even smaller than her petite five feet plus and finagled
her way into staying with her partner in the ICU. At Scully's insistence,
Skinner went home to catch a few hours of sleep, shower, change and return to keep
vigil with his agents.

But now, Mulder was finally beginning to come out of the anesthesia. He
began to moan somewhat, and at the first sound he made, Scully jumped up to grasp
his hand and offer assurances he was not alone.

"Mulder, I'm here. You had surgery, but you're going to be okay. Do you
understand me? Squeeze my hand if you can hear me, please."

He squeezed her hand, but he wasn't able to focus in on exactly what she was
saying. He felt very, very groggy, sick to his stomach, and he hurt.

All over.


He continued to moan and then, suddenly, he began to gag. He still had the
respirator tube down his throat, and Scully was afraid he was going to vomit
which would pose some additional problems. She buzzed the nurses station,
and one of the floor nurses arrived.

"He's starting to wake up, but he's gagging. I think he's having a reaction
to the anesthesia. I'd told Dr. Simpson he tends to react badly to
anesthesia and he said he was going to prescribe some meds to prevent this," Scully
said authoritatively.

"Yes, the orders are here for when he woke up," replied the nurse.

"He hasn't had anything yet?" Scully asked incredulously.

"Dr. Simpson tends to be conservative with meds, Ms. Scully. He doesn't
like to prescribe them until he's absolutely sure they're needed."

"Well, they're needed. Now. Unless you want him to choke on his own vomit
with the respirator tube still inserted?" Scully responded tersely.

The nurse simply nodded her head in acknowledgment and went to get the
medication. Some minutes later, she reentered to see Scully holding
Mulder's hand with her right one and stroking his forehead with her hand. The nurse
then overheard Scully comfort him.

"It's okay. You're going to feel much better in just a few minutes. Hang
in there partner, okay? I know your stomach is doing a rock and roll tour in
there, but the medication will help. I promise," she assured.

The nurse administered the medication directly into the IV. She told Scully
it should take effect within a short while, turned, and left the room.

Scully watched her partner and anticipated him feeling more settled and
comfortable as a result of the anti-nausea medication the nurse
administered. She stroked his hand gently and murmured softly how everything would be


*No, I don't really want one. Scully, I lied. I was being flippant. Oh
God, help me. Please. I don't want a peg leg. I want to do things in life. I
need to do things in my life.*

Mulder began to slowly thrash about, moaning more loudly and crying out
incoherently. He reached out with his arms, though he couldn't be sure if
anyone was there to grasp them. He opened his eyes but quickly shut them
again, as he felt the room spin faster and faster.

He began to cry out more loudly, and in fact his cries became shrieks.
Mulder began twitching more frenetically and grabbed onto the handrails. He held
them so tightly, his knuckles turned white. He felt as if he were going to
fall off the edge of the earth.

Scully picked up the buzzer to the nurses' station and pressed frantically.
Several minutes passed until the same nurse who administered the medication
arrived. Scully was more than frantic at this point. She was as angry as

"Damn it, I pushed that button five minutes ago," she said with a steely
tone, "where the hell were you?"

"I'm sorry Miss Scully, but we do have other patients on the__." She
stopped short and finally looked at the patient. "What happened?"

"That's what I want to know. You've got to remove the tube first. He's
going to hurt himself with all of this thrashing around," Scully insisted.

"Yes, well, I'll go get the intern," she began.

"What? Remove the damned thing now, or I'll remove it!" Scully demanded.

"Miss Scully, I will get the intern," she stated.

"It's _Dr._ Scully, Nurse. And you will assist me in removing that
respirator tube now." Scully began to speak as soothingly as possible to Mulder in
order to make him understand she was going to remove the tube.

It was going to hurt, no matter how gentle she tried to be. His esophagus
had received a bad blow during the explosion which left him in pain. She knew
removing the tube would irritate the area even more, but she had little
choice. The tube would cause more damage if Mulder continued to flay around
in bed.

"Mulder, I'm removing the tube. Just try to relax your throat, and it'll
come out more easily. C'mon, partner, it's not like you don't know the
routine," she cajoled. Mulder continued to flay about, and Scully was
worried he wouldn't allow her to remove the tube.

Finally, she made the difficult decision to put hand restraints on him so
she could get to the tube unobstructed. Scully knew if Mulder was in anyway
coherent, he would probably freak out when he felt the restraints put on.
It wasn't that long ago he had to suffer through the follie au deux experience.

But she felt she had no choice. He was going to injure himself badly if the
tube wasn't removed quickly. Scully instructed the nurse to place the Velcro
restraints on one hand, while she secured the other. Scully spoke in
soothing tones the entire time in an effort to forestall a reaction to the

Finally, she began to pull out the tube. As she did, Scully noticed a look
of terror in Mulder's eyes. She had no idea as to what was frightening him,
but she hoped she'd be able to put him at ease soon.

Fox looked at the pretty red haired woman and thought he knew who she was,
but he wasn't positive. He tried to look about for his mother or father, but
soon realized they weren't in the room with him.

He hurt. The tube was being pulled up and out of his already aching throat,
which made him feel more nauseous. What made things worse was he felt like
the room was spinning which only added to his queasiness.

*Mom? Dad?* the young Mulder called out.

*Your father is here, Fox,* the nurse explained. *He went to get some
coffee. He'll be back soon. He's been here every minute waiting for you to wake up.
He's very worried about you, young man. He obviously loves you so much.*

*Mom?* he said in questioning her whereabouts.

*No dear, your mother is home. Apparently your accident was too much for
her, and she's resting at home,* the nurse responded.

Fox turned the words she'd said around in his head. Accident? But this
wasn't an accident, he wanted to cry out. His father did this. His worried,
concerned, loving father, beat the shit out of him.

*Oh, Daddy,* he cried out almost involuntarily.

William Mulder walked through the door just as his son cried out to him. He
hurriedly walked over to his side and grasped the young teenager's hand.

*I'm here, Fox. You're going to be all right. It was a nasty fall, but
you're going to come out of this all right.*

*Fall?* he asked in confusion. Fox thought to himself, what fall? I
didn't fall, Dad. You hurt me. Don't you know how much you hurt me?

*Fox, don't you remember? You were standing on the ladder to get that silly
foam ball off the top of the roof, and as you were reaching for the ball,
you'd lost your footing and you fell. Your mother saw everything. You
fell, Fox. And you hurt your leg very badly.*

*I fell?* Fox asked incredulously.

*You fell. You fell off of the ladder. And you scared your mother and me
to death! How could you do this to your mother? How could you do this to me?
Why can't you be more careful? Why do you always take unnecessary risks and
get yourself hurt? Fox, you never think before you act! Why don't you
think? Why do you do this to me? Why do you do this to your mother? When are you
going to learn to be responsible?*

*Now, Mr. Mulder, you shouldn't allow yourself to get so upset. We're going
to give Fox something to help him sleep. Why don't you go home to Mrs.
Mulder and make sure she's all right,* the nurse suggested.

*Yes, I think I will. Fox, you think about what I said. I want you to
think of how you're going to apologize to your mother for being so reckless and
falling off the roof. Fox, you need to learn responsibility. Do you
understand me?* he repeated emotionally.

*Yes, Dad,* Fox replied in a defeated, weary tone. It always came back to
that. Responsibility. If Fox had been more responsible, he wouldn't have
lost his sister. If Fox were more responsible, his father wouldn't have to
beat him up to remind him. If Fox were more responsible, his mother
wouldn't have to subsist on handfuls of pills. If Fox were more responsible, he'd
have a family. If Fox were more responsible, everything would be okay.

*I'm sorry I fell. I'm sorry I upset Mom and you. I promise to be more
responsible. I promise. I'm sorry.* And as a wave of dizziness passed
over him along with shooting pains in his leg, he whispered, *Don't be mad at me,
Dad. Please, I don't want you to be mad at me anymore.*

Once the tube was pulled out, Mulder coughed and began crying out in a
raspy, painfully hoarse voice. He was mumbling words out loud, but Scully wasn't
sure what he was saying. He continued to hold onto the bed rails for dear

"Jesus, Mulder, what's wrong? What's wrong?" Scully asked in confusion, as
she immediately removed the restraints.

"Dizzy," he rasped. "Don't be mad at me, please. Sorry I fell. Didn't
mean to fall. Don't be mad at me. Please, don't be mad at me. Sorry. I'm

And then, as another, stronger, wave of dizziness passed over Mulder, he
clutched unrelentingly at the guard rails in an effort to center himself and
keep the nausea at bay. The pain in his leg caused him to gasp audibly and
brought him back to the, albeit incoherent, present.

"Fall! Didn't wanna fall! Don't want the peg leg, Scully. Didn't really
mean it. Take it off. I want my leg. Oh God, help me. I'll be good, I
promise," he rasped out over and over again.

*Dizzy? Peg leg? Oh, what the hell is that steel trap of a mind
remembering now?* Scully wondered to herself. And then she said aloud, though not so
much to Mulder as to herself, "Why are you dizzy? You've never had a
reaction to Compazine before."

"Compazine?" the nurse echoed. "He didn't receive Compazine. The doctor
put in orders for Reglan."

"Reglan?" Scully wondered aloud. "But I specifically told Dr. Simpson
Mulder's taken Compazine in the past with success."

"Ahh, there was your mistake, Dr. Scully. No one tells Dr. Simpson what's
best for a patient. Only he knows. The man's a helluva surgeon, but he can
be a real royal pain in the ass, sometimes." The nurse looked thoughtfully
at Mulder and then at Scully.

"I'm real sorry about this, Dr. Scully. I don't know if there's anything we
can do but let him ride this out for the next couple of hours. Poor dear,
as if he didn't have enough troubles to deal with," she concluded

"I'll bring you in a fresh cup of ice chips for him. He's gonna need
something for that throat of his. Can I get you some coffee?" she asked.

Scully looked at the nurse with kinder eyes. "Yes, umm__," she hesitated as
she looked for the name tag for the first time, "umm, Arlene. Coffee would
be wonderful. Thank you very much."

After Arlene left to take care of the ice and the coffee, Scully turned her
full attention back to Mulder. She held his hand in hers and tried to
stroke his arm and his forehead; anything to make physical contact with him so he'd
realize he wasn't alone.

He continued to thrash about and cry out. Scully listened as carefully as
she could in an attempt to make out what he was saying.

"Ahab don't wanna peg leg. Don't wanna peg leg, Scully. Gonna fall. Don't
wanna fall. I'm sorry I fall. So, so sorry I fall. Don't wanna peg leg.

"Take it back, take it back now! I'll be 'sponsible. Promise. Ahab works
hard. I'll work hard. I'll be good. I'll make it better. I'll make it
better. I'll find her. I promise. I'll make it better.

"I'll be 'sponsible, Daddy.

"I'm sorry. I'm sorry, Daddy. I didn't mean to lose her. I'll be more
'sponsible. I promise. Please gimme back my leg. I don't wanna peg leg.
I'll find her, Daddy. You'll see. I'll find her. I'm 'sponsible. Then
can I have my leg back, Daddy? Please? Oh, Daddy, please," Mulder cried out

As Scully listened to his pleas she thought her heart was going to break.
*Oh Mulder, what did he do to you that would make you think he'd have the power
to take away your leg?*

"Mulder," she said loudly enough to hopefully get his attention, "You still
have your leg. There's no peg leg. It's your leg, partner. It's your leg."

It was too soon, and the Reglan remained in control of Mulder's mind,
emotions, and physical reactions for the next two and a half hours. By the
time Skinner arrived, Mulder had finally begun to relax a little.

When he walked in the door, Skinner saw immediately something was wrong.
"What happened?" he asked anxiously.

"Damn doctor gave him the wrong damned medication for the nausea and he had
a bad reaction. He's been thrashing about for almost three hours. He's only
now just beginning to settle down," she explained, completely exhausted.

"Go home," Skinner responded.

"Like hell," she retorted, and then thought better of it, so she added, "Sir."

Scully took a deep breath and then broke into a small smile. She realized
she'd overstepped her bounds when spoke harshly to him, and not just because
he was her boss, but because he was her friend too.

"I'm sorry, Walter. I shouldn't have been so terse. It's just that Mulder
doesn't like waking up and not having anyone here," she said softly.

"I'll wait with him until you return. I promise I won't leave him alone.
You go home and do NOT come back for at least four hours, do you understand?"
When she acknowledged him with a nod of her head, he stated firmly, "I mean
it, Dana. You go home and do not even think of coming back here before four
hours are up.''

"Yes, but__," she began.

"__If there is a problem I promise I'll call. I know your cell number, and
I know your home number. Go home, Scully. That is an order."

And reluctantly, she followed the order. And Skinner kept his promise and
sat by Mulder's bedside ready to offer reassurances when needed.


"Thirsty," Mulder rasped.

Skinner looked up from the magazine Arlene had brought him to read while
Mulder slept. Skinner then glanced quickly at his watch and saw almost
three hours had passed since he'd sent Scully home.

"They've left some ice chips for you. Hold on," he responded. Skinner
scooped up a small spoonful and placed it in Mulder's mouth. "How's that?"


"Do you want some more?"


Skinner repeated the process and fed Mulder another spoonful of ice. When
Mulder had finished yet a third spoonful, he was finally able to focus and
notice something was missing.

"Scully? Where's Scully?" he whispered hoarsely.

"I sent her home to sleep. She'll be back in another hour or so though. I
promise," Skinner answered as he grasped Mulder's hand. He squeezed it
gently and was pleased to feel Mulder actually acknowledge him and squeeze back.


"I know you do. I'll buzz Arlene and find out if they can give you
anything," Skinner replied. As he reached for the buzzer, he asked, "Mulder, do you
remember what happened?"

Mulder looked at Walter Skinner's face and marveled at the seriousness of
the expression he saw on it. Obviously, _something_ big happened or he wouldn't
feel as lousy as he did. His entire body felt as though it were put through
a ringer. He couldn't recall being in this much pain in a very, very long
time. Mulder looked away from Skinner and tried to concentrate very hard on what
he remembered about the incident that put him the hospital.

Slowly, it started coming back to him. "Boom," he said in quiet wonder. He
paused a bit and then said, "I remember a big explosion." Mulder tried to
clear his throat, but the action caused only more discomfort. He whimpered
slightly and Skinner offered him more ice chips.

"Mulder, do you remember where the explosion came from?"

"Ceiling, I think. The light fixture. Everything came flying down and
around me. That's all I remember. Sorry."

"Nothing to be sorry about. You confirmed the forensics team's theory,"
Skinner said. "How are you feeling now?"

"Everything hurts," he replied in a small voice. As if on cue, Arlene
entered with the next dosage of Demerol.

"This should help, Mr. Mulder," Arlene said and then took her leave.

Skinner looked at him and then asked, "Is there anything else you remember?"

"No__, don't think so."

Skinner looked at his agent and friend, and wondered if he should say
anything, at this point, about Spender being the most likely candidate
responsible for Mulder's debilitated state. He chose to stay quiet until
Mulder asked about it, or at least until Scully returned.

As the Demerol began to take effect, the pain abated somewhat and Mulder
tried to shift into a more comfortable position. It was at that moment he
remembered the most important part of the incident.

Had he dreamt it? He was afraid to look. He knew his leg hurt like hell,
but Mulder knew about 'phantom pain'. He realized he could feel like his entire
leg was in agony, but it might not even be there. He didn't want to think
about the possibility his leg was not there. It wasn't there while he was
back in the shambles that was once his office.

*Oh God. Please. Let it be there. Oh please, God, let it be there.* He
hesitated. He really did not expect it to be there. Mulder heard a moan,
and when Skinner looked at him concerned, realized it came from his own mouth.

"Mulder? You still in pain? What 's wrong?" Skinner asked anxiously.
Walter was concerned about Mulder's suddenly sheet white pallor and the rapidity of
his breathing.

"Sir?" Mulder choked out. "I'm afraid to look."

Skinner looked at him in total confusion for a moment until it suddenly
dawned on him the poor man was talking about his leg. The last thing he had seen
before he'd lost consciousness was his stump.

"It's okay," Skinner began, "they reattached the leg. We found it and you
have your leg. You can look, Mulder."

And he did. And after he cried tears of relief, he finally allowed himself
to fall back to sleep.


Scully returned and shared a shift with Skinner before she sent him home for
a well deserved rest. He told her he wouldn't be by until the following
evening, as he needed to put some time in his office. She understood
completely, and told him her mother would be sharing the 'watch duty'.

Upon hearing Scully mention her own mother, Skinner exclaimed, "Holy shit!
I forgot to call Mrs. Mulder."

"Don't worry, I did, for all the good it did," Scully responded, clearly

"She's not coming?"

"I don't know. She said she'd have to check with her own physician to see
if she were well enough to travel," Scully said in an angry attempt to mimic
her voice. "I'm sorry, Walter, but the woman had the damn stroke over two years
ago. Hasn't she milked it long enough? For heaven's sake, this is her son
lying in a hospital bed, in a whole lot worse shape than she is!"

"Scully, this is nothing new. If she didn't have the stroke as an excuse,
it would be something else. When did she ever make an appearance while he was
in a hospital bed?" Skinner asked.

"It's her son. She's his mother." Scully practically spit the last word out.

"I know. I don't understand it either, Dana."


He kept hearing the voice over and over again, begging him for his
forgiveness. Mulder tried to close his hearing off to it, but he couldn't.
It assaulted him every time he turned his head. He didn't want to hear that
voice anymore. He didn't want to have to deal with his father's guilt on
top of his own.

*Go away,* he murmured to himself. *I can't listen to you anymore. I don't
want you to do this to me anymore. Please, go away.*

*But Fox, you know I'll always love you,* he heard the voice say. "But you
have to get well. You have to get well so you can go find Samantha for me
and your mother.*

*I'll find her. Go away! You hurt me! You always hurt me! Go away. I
don't need you to find her. She's _my_ sister, and _I'll_ find her. I'll
find her. I can do it. I'll be responsible, I'll be 'sponsible,* he moaned
over and over to himself.

Scully sat up quickly in her seat when she heard the low distress moans
coming from deep within Mulder's throat. She realized he was still in a deep
sleep, and she wondered if she would be able to rouse him.

"Mulder? Mulder, it's Scully. Wake up. It's just a dream, Mulder.
Please, wake up." She rubbed him gently on his shoulders and urged him to open his

He felt the gentle caresses on his shoulders and knew it was safe to open
his eyes. He slowly opened them, and since the swelling in his right eye had
gone down considerably, he actually managed to see fairly clearly. The first
image he saw was that of his Scully standing over him.

"Hi G-Woman."

"Hi yourself. You were having a bad dream, I think."


"Wanna talk about it?"

"No, don't think so."

"Okay," she replied, as she didn't want to press the issue. "Your voice
sounds a little better. Does it still hurt as much to speak?"

"Not too much. Thirsty," he said as he licked his lower lip with his

Scully poured him a glass of water and held it for him while he sipped it
through a straw. "Easy partner. Not too much and not too fast. Don't want
you throwing it all back up."

He nodded but continued to drink greedily. He hadn't had anything other
than the ice chips several hours ago, and the water tasted delicious as well felt
very soothing to his still rather sore throat. Finally, Scully withdrew it
and told him he could have some more later, once she made sure this settled
easily in his stomach.



"What happened?"

"I don't understand," she deflected.

"I know there was a bomb. I know my leg was __, my leg was __." He
couldn't say it. He couldn't bring himself to describe his mangled leg.

"Mulder, the surgeons were able to reattach your leg. You know that, don't

"Yeah. Yeah, Skinner told me. But he didn't tell me why?"

"Why?" Scully looked at him and went into medical mode to offer an
explanation as to the extent of his injury and how they went about in
reattaching his leg.

"Well, the explosion apparently caused a piece of the metal framework to
blow out of the ceiling and severed your leg." Scully had looked away from
Mulder at this point, as it was even difficult for her to talk about his injury.

"We found the limb," she continued, "put it on ice, and got you to the
hospital quickly. The doctors had you in surgery for almost fifteen hours
putting you back together again."

All the while she spoke, Mulder shook his head back and forth. That wasn't
the information he was seeking, but he didn't want to interrupt Scully
either. He knew she felt upset and didn't want her to think she was doing anything

When she'd finished speaking, he finally asked, "But why? Why was there a
bomb? Who was the target, Scully? Who did this to us this time?"

Scully had to smile at that last question. Mulder was right. Even though he
was the one who laid in the hospital bed, this bombing affected them both
deeply. Personally and professionally.

"Mulder, there are indications the target was most likely you."

"Me? Gee, now that's a surprise. But why go to all the trouble of bombing
the office. Why not just shoot me and get it over with already?" he asked
rhetorically. "Scully, if you know I was the target, then you must have
some idea as to who the bomber was, right?"

At that moment, both observed as Walter Skinner walked into the hospital ICU
room. Scully looked up and realized he'd heard at least the last part of
their conversation. She looked at her boss as if to ask if there were any
other news that would preclude her from tell Mulder what they already knew.
Skinner merely nodded, so Scully spoke.

"We're pretty sure the evidence points to Jeffrey Spender."

"Spender? Agent Spender?"

"Yes, Mulder. The former Agent Jeffery Spender," confirmed Skinner.

"But why? Why would he feel it necessary to kill me?"

"I suspect he never wanted to really kill you, Mulder. I think he wanted to
cause you serious injury, but never kill you." Skinner began. "I'd done
some more interviewing of acquaintances of Agent Spender's while down at the
bureau. Apparently, Agent Spender holds you fully responsible for his
mother's disappearance.

"He wanted to let you know, in his own twisted way, that you needed to be
reminded of that responsibility every day of your life," Skinner concluded.

Mulder looked at Skinner and wondered if anyone besides himself realized the
irony in Skinner's words. Mulder had it literally beaten into him as a
child what the responsibility meant by a man who was an expert. What did Jeffery
Spender think he could accomplish with a mere bomb?

And then Mulder shuddered slightly as he realized Spender probably did him a
favor, in an ironic twist that life sometimes throws at you.

Mulder spent his entire teen and adult years being told he needed to learn
responsibility. His own father had conditioned him to believe it was Fox's
fault his sister was taken, yet by the same token, his father convinced him
Mulder was the only one who could rectify the situation as well.

Responsibility was something Mulder both chased and ran away from all of his

If he were truly a responsible human being, he would never have lost his
sister in the first place. If he were a truly responsible human being, he'd
have found his sister long before now and able to determine if the woman
he'd met in the diner so many months ago was, indeed, really his sister.

But Fox Mulder also knew it was his responsibility to keep searching; to
keep seeking the truth; to not shy away from the past in the hope it would give
him some answers to the future.

So, as much as he sometimes wanted to run away and ditch the entire quest,
Mulder knew in his heart he couldn't.

It wouldn't be responsible.

And not because his father had said so, or his mother had said so.

It took an explosion which very nearly cost him his leg to make Mulder
realize it was his own choice. It had always been his choice, no matter what his
father said to him.

Or did to him.

Mulder sighed in relief and then asked, "Where is he? Or did he did he pull
a 'Krycek' on us?"

"What?" both AD and partner asked.

"Well, it's appropriate, don't you think?" Mulder asked with the slightest
of smiles.

"Yeah," agreed Scully, "I guess it is. It reminds me of how they used the
character name 'Bob' for the same purpose when that character from 'er' just
kind of disappeared one day, never to be heard from again," Scully remarked.

"Yeah, except Krycek keeps showing up like a bad penny," Scully said with

"Wonder if Spender will too," murmured Skinner.

"I hope not," said Mulder, "I hope not."



Actually, Spender had turned up, but unlike Krycek who was still very much
alive, Jeffery Spender was very much dead.

The local police department found his body, with bullet holes in both his
left temple and chest, approximately six months to the day of the X-Files Office

This was also the day Fox Mulder took his first, unassisted, steps on his
reattached leg.

There were still many unanswered questions about the bombing, most
prominently of which was what was Spender's true motive for doing what he did. At this
point, Skinner's accounting would be the one which remained filed in the
case report. Mulder, on the other hand, decided it was not a matter that was
going to occupy his mind that particular day.

It was, instead, a time to celebrate. Mulder knew it would still take a lot
more physical therapy and a lot more time before he would be a hundred per
cent again. He wasn't even sure if he'd ever be back to full field agent
status, but Mulder knew in his heart he was going to give it his best shot.

He had work to do. If he couldn't do it from the field, he would do it from
an office. It amazed Mulder how much more confident he'd become as a result
of this experience. It amazed those close to him as well.

Mulder finally realized, through hard work and thoughtful discussion with
those he loved and respected, he was a deserving person who was not only
well respected, but was worthy of that respect. He was finally able to see
beyond the words and actions of his father. He was finally able to accept the fact
his father was a man who lost a great deal, and didn't quite know how to
deal with that loss.

Mulder could have turned into that man. But he didn't. He didn't accept
that particular responsibility as his own.

But he did know there were more truths out there to be discovered. Mulder
knew he had both a friend and avid supporter in his direct supervisor,
Walter Skinner. And he knew he had the best partner in both the FBI, and in life,
right at his side.

He'd worked very hard for the last six months, but there was still more work
to do. Mulder had long ago decided he was going to work his ass off to get
his leg in the best condition he could possibly get it.

You see, the "peg leg" was officially dead.

Mulder was now able to look to the future with a new confidence, a new joy,
and a new beginning. He looked over to his right and saw a man who gave him
his support and friendship. Skinner smiled encouragingly at him.

Mulder then looked at the woman he loved and relied upon both in work and
life. He knew how proud she was of him for all he'd accomplished. Just
knowing he had Scully's unconditional love and support made his next
actions seem almost effortless.

Fox Mulder stood up

Today, Fox Mulder, once again, walked on his own two feet.


End of 3/3

**Additional Disclaimer: I do not own the character of "Bob" from NBC's
"er", I have merely borrowed her. (But since she was "bobbed'' I can't imagine
anyone really minding if I borrowed her for a line or two! <g>)

Comments and feedback gladly accepted at: