The Healer by Susan Proto (2/2)

Disclaimers in Part 1

Part 5/9

The next morning and afternoon found the agents more at odds with one
another than they'd been since they'd first gathered. No matter what
Mulder offered, the other agents instinctively knocked it.

"Mulder, there's no proof. Everything you have put on the table is pure
conjecture. You have not given us one, single, concrete bit of evidence
that would prove this number three theory, nor that there is actually an
intended target," railed Agent Newton.

"I'm afraid I have to agree with Agent Newton, son,'' responded SAIC
Thompson. "Look, it's been a long afternoon. I think we're all about
ready for some down time. We'd be breaking for dinner in about a half
hour anyway, so what do you say we break early. I'll see you all back
here in ninety minutes, Agents." Thompson then turned to Skinner and
asked, "Walter, would you like to join me for a drink?"

"Another time, 'ET,'" he said. Walter then walked directly up to his
friend and whispered, "I think my agent's ego may need a little
bolstering. He took some pretty hard hits in here today."

"That he did, but I've got to give the kid credit. He doesn't back down
when he believes he's right."

"No," Walter agreed, "he's never been known to back down when he believed
he was right. Can't tell you how many holes he's dug himself into with
that routine. But Mulder is, if nothing else, a man of his convictions,
and you've got to admire a man for standing on his own beliefs."

"All right, Walter, I'll let you off the hook for this one, but when we
catch this bastard, I expect you and me to have a date with Johnny Walker.


Since they had an extra thirty minutes to luxuriate in, Skinner indulged
his agents and ordered a round of beers. He stuck with the Heiniken Dark,
Scully preferred the Heiniken Light brew, and Mulder stuck with his Sam

The liquor was having the desired effect on at least two of the three, as
they began to relax before they ordered their dinner. Scully looked to
her right and tried to gain Mulder's attention, but when she didn't
succeed instead turned to her left and addressed her boss.

"Maybe we should skip the main course, Sir,'' Scully teased, "and just go
for the key lime pie."

"I've seen the way you've scarfed down key lime pie, Agent Scullly, and
where you manage to pack it my dear woman, is an X-File in itself," teased
back Skinner.

Mulder, on the other hand remained quiet and pensive. He continued to
think about the case, and couldn't help but wonder what it was he was
missing. What was it about the number three?

His mind ticked off everything he could think of that was associated with
the number three.

Trio, triple, triplet, triad, tricycle, triangle, trilogy, trimester,
triplicate, tripod, triplex, trisect, trinity. Trinity? The Holy
Trinity? The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit? Could it be that

Mulder looked up at two of the most important people in his life at the
moment. He truly did look upon Walter Skinner as not only a friend, but
as a type of surrogate father figure. And Scully, with her renewed faith
in God, was certainly his most holy spirit. So where did that leave him in
the trinity? The Son?

Mulder's eidetic memory niggled at him as he pieced these particular
details together. There was something so familiar about the scenario, but
he was having trouble __. "Ohmigod," Mulder gasped aloud.

"Mulder? What's wrong?" Scully asked as she immediately took note of the
suddenly chalky pallor and glazed look in his eyes. She grasped his wrist
in order to take his pulse and recognized a rate that was way too fast to
be considered within normal range.

"Mulder, what the hell is going on?" Scully demanded anxiously. When she
received no response, she looked over to Walter Skinner for assistance.

"Fox, you have to answer me. What's wrong?" Skinner asked
authoritatively. He grabbed Mulder by the chin in order to assure himself
the younger man was looking directly at him.

When Mulder finally took a breath, he forced himself to focus his eyes on
the man before him. Father figure. No, _his_ father. He remembered
having a conversation with a madman once, a very long time ago about the
need to look up to one's father.

The madman called himself a minister of the people, and he had taken
several people hostage in order to prove his point. He remembered talking
to the man, Reverend Fulcher was his name, for hours. So many, many
hours. Eventually he was finally shot, through the window, by an FBI

But the Reverend Fulcher did not die instantly.

Mulder remembered a teenage son who was in the room with them, and how the
boy had knelt down next to his fallen father and promised to continue the
cause, even after he departed this world into the spirit world. The teen
told his father he loved him, and then told him he would pray everyone
would love _his_ father, and finally, Mulder remembered how the boy
prayed over the writhing body that slowly bled to death.

Everyone should love the father. The son said so. Even into the great
spirit world and beyond.

The Father. The Son. The Holy Spirit.

The son, no longer a teenager, was completing the promise of the Trinity
he'd made to his father on that day, so many years ago.

Suddenly, even before he heard or saw anything, Mulder felt an unknown
presence. He knew the others did not sense any danger, so Mulder realized
it was up to him to protect Walter and Dana at all cost. He turned around
slightly to his left to look behind him and observed a rustling behind
the multitude of hanging plants and wicker baskets that hung all around
the pub.

It was when he heard the distinctive 'click' that Mulder jumped straight
up from his seat. He literally dove forward, up and over the table onto
Walter Skinner, while at the same time he pushed his arm straight out to
thrust Dana out of the line of the madman's path when__.

__ !! BANG!! BANG!! BANG!!

Bodies were jumping up out of their seats all around them. People were
shouting, "IT's HIM! IT's HIM!" A number of FBI agents were present
eating their dinners, so the alleged gunman was quickly grabbed and
cuffed. The gun was immediately confiscated and bagged for evidence.

"Anybody hurt?" called out an unknown voice.


Scully looked around her and mentally took a quick assessment of her own
condition. She realized she'd been grazed by one of the bullets that flew
by her. Her right shoulder was bleeding slightly, but nothing that a
stitch or two couldn't handle at the local emergency room.

She looked for Mulder and Skinner. She noted both men were sprawled on
the floor, the diving Mulder had obviously hit Skinner with enough force
to knock Skinner out of his chair.

In fact, Mulder was laying directly on top of a very surprised and
embarrassed Skinner.

"Mulder," Skinner said, "That swan dive you made did the trick. I'm okay,
so you can get off of me now."

"Yes, Sir. I'd love to, Sir," whispered Mulder.

"Good. So do it."

"I don't think I can do that, Sir," he said slightly breathy.

"Mulder, what the hell are you talking about? This isn't amusing anymore.
Get the hell off of me, now," demanded a suddenly very anxious Walter
Skinner, who, for some innate reason, instinctively knew not to push the
younger man off of him.

"I wish I could, Sir," Mulder said very softly, but with remarkable
calmness. "But I don't seem to be able to move."

"Mulder, please tell me you're just living out some kinky fantasy and
you're getting your rocks off by laying on top of me," Skinner pleaded.

"Sir, I would love to say that, but I suspect the fantasy would be wasted
on me at the moment." And for the first time since this bizarre
conversation began, Mulder's breathy voice cracked with just a hint of
emotion. "Sir, I can't feel anything. I can't move, and I can't seem to
feel my arms or my legs. Shit, Sir, I can't feel anything."

Walter slowly maneuvered his right hand out from under him and then did
the same with his left. Mulder was literally dead weight on top of him,
but Skinner realized his agent had obviously been shot and it could be
dangerous to move him too quickly. He also became aware for the first time
the younger man was having difficulty breathing. He reached around
embraced the younger man's torso in his arms and held on to him with a
firm, but gentle grip.

"I've got you, Fox. I'm holding onto you. Do you understand me?" Skinner
asked desperately on behalf of his injured agent.
"Scully," he called out. "We have an agent down. Call for an ambulance."

"Sir?" Scully questioned. "Are you all right?"

"I'm fine, Scully. Mulder's been hit."

"What? Ohmigod, no! Mulder, what's wrong?" she cried out as she knelt by
his side. Then she regained her senses for a moment and called out, "Call
for an ambulance. Agent down!"

As Scully slid to her knees to try to assess Mulder's condition, she
wondered why Walter was holding Mulder so securely. "Mulder, don't move
until we can figure out where you've been hit," she instructed.

Mulder's laugh was sardonic, and his breathing was becoming somewhat
labored. "I don't think that will be a problem, Scully."

"What? What's wrong?" Scully began snapping out possible diagnoses one
right after the other when she heard his labored breathing. "Did you get
hit in the chest? How do your ribs feel? Could you have cracked one? Did
it penetrate the lung? Does it feel like your lung's collapsed?"

"Scully, stop, and listen to me," Skinner pleaded. "He says he can't move
or feel anything. That's why I'm holding onto him. I'm afraid he may
slide down, and I figured it wouldn't be a good idea for him to move
around with a bullet in his back."

Scully didn't know if she was going to faint right then and there, or if
she would have the strength to wait until later. Luckily, just then the
paramedics arrived and saved her the trouble of making the decision.
Scully was quickly pushed aside so they could get down to business.

The EMT's quickly and efficiently placed both a neck brace and a backboard
under Mulder's stomach before they lifted him up into the ambulance. They
determined it would probably be best to have him remain on his stomach
until the doctors pinpointed where the bullet had penetrated. The
paramedics were advised by their home base not to place any more stress or
undue pressure on the area of the entry wound then absolutely necessary to
inhibit the bleeding.

Scully wanted to ride with Mulder, and when the EMT's saw the grazed
bullet wound on her right shoulder, she nearly had her chance. However,
they determined it was probably best for them to stabilize Mulder and get
him rolling as soon as possible, and they would send another ambulance for

"Oh, no, don't send for another ambulance. I'm okay. I just want to make
sure Mulder's okay," Scully offered.

"Ma'am, we're going to do everything we can for him," assured the

"Dana, we'll go to the hospital in my car," Skinner said. "We'll follow
right behind them. We won't let them out of our sight," he declared,
remembering with anxiety the last time one of his agents was taken away in
an ambulance. The very woman he was trying to lend his support to had
ended up in Antarctica.

"Please, help him," she pleaded.

Just before they were ready to load him into the ambulance, Mulder asked
the EMT for both Skinner and Scully.

"I need you to promise me something," he whispered with effort.

"What is it, Fox?" Skinner asked, his voice own voice raspy.

"Promise me I won't have to live like this."


"I'm serious. Scully, please, promise me I won't have to live like this,"
he begged in a breathy, soft voice.

"Mulder, let's wait to see what the doctors can do before we make any kind
of promises, okay? The only thing I can promise you is I'll go on loving
you. Forever. Always. Do you understand? I will love you forever and
for always. No matter what," Scully said adamantly.

"Scully, please __!" he pleaded with as much force and volume as he could,
but was then lifted into the waiting ambulance.

Scully and Skinner watched helplessly as the doors to the ambulance closed
in front of them. As soon as the ambulance began its departure, Scully
leaned into Walter Skinner and began to cry. He held her tightly in his
arms, both as a comfort for her and a means for his own solace, as he felt
his own tears begin to fall as well.


They'd been sitting in the waiting room for close to an hour and a half.
Scully had had her superficial wound cleaned and bandaged quickly in the
emergency room and now sat with Walter awaiting word on Mulder's

They were initially told he was going to be taken to X-Ray and then
possibly for a CT scan and MRI. Both Scully and Skinner waited
nervously. Scully was probably more so, in that she was in the position
of knowing just a little too much.

Her medical diploma sometimes worked against her, such as in situations
when Mulder was injured. She kept thinking of every worse case scenario,
and the more she thought, the more anxious she became. She willed herself
to calm down and think like a doctor. She needed to be able to understand
all of the possibilities.

If there was a severing of the spinal cord in the area of any of the first
three vertebra, that would result in the worst, possible prognosis. She
knew, if a C1, C2 or C3 area was involved, Mulder would have no
independent respiratory function and minimal movement in his neck. He'd
have no bladder or bowel control, and would most likely have to use a
power drive wheelchair that was equipped with a portable respirator. He
might be able to control it with a chin control, or perhaps a sip and puff

A C4 disruption wouldn't leave him much better off, except he might have
more sensation and movement above his neck. Scully could only hope, if
there was a severing of the cord, that the highest possible location would
be at the C5 level. Even that would result in quadriplegia, but at least
Mulder would have full neck, and partial shoulder, back and biceps

She wondered if that was being too optimistic. He looked so fragile and
helpless back in the restaurant. Images of the actor, Christopher Reeve
kept popping into her mind. She tried to imagine Mulder's face instead of
Christopher Reeve's.

*My Superman,* Scully thought to herself over and over again, almost as
if it were a mantra.

The idea that he could possibly be like that for the rest of his life
suddenly frightened Scully, not because _she_ couldn't love him in spite
of the debilitating condition, but because Mulder himself indicated he
wouldn't want to live like that.

She was so afraid he would simply give up.

When both Scully and Skinner thought they couldn't stand waiting another
minute, a doctor appeared before them. They both jumped up in unison and
immediately asked how Mulder was. He smiled and took the time to
introduce himself as Dr. Polasky and then invited Skinner and Scully to
sit back down.

This was not a good omen.

"Dr. Polasky, I'm Assistant Director Walter Skinner and this is Agent
Mulder's partner, Special Agent Dana Scully. What can you tell us about
Mulder's condition?"

"Mr. Skinner, Ms. Scully, I wish I could be more definitive at this time,
but I can't. All, I can tell you is what we know right now." Upon
receiving an acknowledging nod from both Scully and Skinner, Polasky

"Mr. Mulder received a bullet wound in the back of his neck. A bullet has
lodged itself in the area of the fifth vertebra very close to the spinal
cord. To be honest, we do not know if the cord has been severed or cut in
any manner at this point, as there is a great deal of swelling around the
region. Mr. Mulder is, at the moment, feeling no sensation from the chest
down. He's been placed on a respirator to assist him in his breathing."

While Skinner sat completely numbed by what he'd just heard, Scully
decided to ask the sixty-four dollar question even though she was well
aware of most of the possibilities. There was always the possibility she
was wrong. She fervently hoped she was wrong.

"And what do you see as the prognosis, Doctor?"

"Ms. Scully, there are many possible scenarios here__," he began before
Scully interrupted him.

"That's Dr. Scully, Sir. I am a forensic pathologist, so please feel free
to cut to the chase. Will Mulder recover?"

"I don't know," he honestly replied.

"Please, Doctor, surely you can give us a little more to go on here?"
Skinner commented in an annoyed tone.

"I wish I could," Dr. Polasky replied in a calm, even tone. "If you want
to know whether I'm optimistic, I'd have to say no, I'm not terribly
optimistic. But right now there's an enormous amount of swelling in the
area, which in turn is putting a great deal of pressure and stress on the
spinal column. In time, the swelling may reduce, and Mr. Mulder may
regain some feeling and use of his upper limbs.

"Again, am I optimistic about this prospect? I'd have to say no."

"What about the bullet? When will you operate to remove it so the
swelling may reduce?" Scully asked.

"That's another problem, Dr. Scully. I have the X-Ray here." He took it
out of the envelope and held it up to the light for Scully and Skinner to
look over. "As you can see, the bullet is either resting on the spinal
cord or through it. It's difficult to determine due to the amount of
swelling in the area.

"I don't believe you could find a surgeon who would recommend removing
that bullet given its placement, at least at this time. Maybe if the
swelling went down, but of course as long as the bullet remains, the
swelling may persist and there's the risk of infection. At any rate, any
wrong move, and Mr. Mulder is a dead man," concluded Dr. Polasky.


Mulder laid awake listening to the sounds of the respirator breathe in and
out for him. As much as he would have liked to fight the damned thing, he
couldn't. He had neither the strength, the will, nor the ability to try
to fight it. So, instead, he listened to it drone on as he contemplated
his next move.

Which of course was an ironic turn of phrase in his case, since he
couldn't move anything. Well, almost anything. He could move his
eyebrows. He practiced moving them up and then back down again. He could
blink his eyelids. He practice opening his eyes wide and then closing
them quickly. He did have the ability to squiggle and squish his nose a
bit, and of course, if the damned respirator wasn't stuck down his throat,
he'd probably be able to talk too.

But he needed to make a plan. Only he didn't have a clue as to how,
without it involving Scully and Skinner. He knew he would not be able to
live the rest of his life like this.

He couldn't.

He wouldn't.

But what choice did he have?


Before Walter and Dana entered his room, they each made a silent prayer
Mulder would be sleeping. It wasn't so much they were concerned about his
need for rest, as it was facing their own anxiety about speaking with him.
Saying the right thing. Doing the right thing. Knowing the difference
between the two.

However, when they walked in, they were surprised to see a woman,
apparently a hospital staff member given the white coat and ID badge,
holding a piece of cardboard in front of Mulder. As Skinner and Scully
walked closer to the bed, they further observed Mulder wearing a small
apparatus on his head that held a small flashlight which emitted a direct
beam of light on the cardboard.

Which on the side facing Mulder, displayed the letters of the alphabet and
numbers. Mulder was able to direct the beam of light with fairly good
accuracy by moving his head ever so slightly.

*HI* he said.

"Mr. Mulder says 'Hi' to you," the staff member said and then offered her
hand to each of them. "I'm Robin Abrams. I work with trauma patients and
come up with nifty little devices to help them communicate with others as
quickly as possible," she said to the visitors. Then, turning to Mulder
she added, "And this little method seems to work pretty well for you, do
you agree Mr. Mulder?"

He pointed to the word 'YES' which was printed on the right side of the
cardboard communication board. The word 'NO' was printed on the left.

"Do you have any other questions for me at the moment, Mr. Mulder?" Ms.
Abrams asked.

*NO.* Mulder then pointed to one of several more functional needs and/or
common courtesy words that were pre-printed on the display. *THANK YOU.*

"You're more than welcomed, Mr. Mulder. I shall be around later this
afternoon to check up on you, and if you have any more questions, we can
address them then. Okay?"


"Good-bye, for now, Mr. Mulder." Ms. Abrams then smiled at Scully and
Skinner and left the room.

"Hi," Scully greeted with a little more tremor in her voice than she would
have wished for.

The communication card was on a little stand that was secured to Mulder's
bed. It remained in front of him, so he could communicate as long as the
light had a power source.

Mulder began spelling out a response. *N-E-R-V-O-U-S-?--M-E---T-O-O-*

"Oh Mulder, I didn't mean__," she began, but stopped when she saw the beam
of light hit the board again.


"Mulder," Skinner began, "You're going to beat this, you know."

Mulder pointed to the preprinted word, *MAYBE.* He then looked at Skinner
and began to spell out a question.


"He was cuffed right at the restaurant, Mulder. Newton phoned me while we
were waiting for you to get settled in here. He said the perp confessed
everything about needing to bring you, me and Scully down as a means of
keeping the promise he made to his preacher father years ago.

"Your number three theory was right on the button and you were right about
the intended target. Did you realize it was us three who were the
intended targets?" Skinner asked curiously.


"Oh. Mulder," Skinner began, "I want to __."


There was a few minutes when everyone simply looked at each other,
slightly teary eyed, but nothing that anyone couldn't handle. Finally,
Scully broke the silence by asking Mulder if there were any books he'd
like her to get for him to listen to.


"Okay, I will," she said and then leaned down to kiss him on the forehead.
A few minutes later MaryAnn Combs, the ICU floor nurse, came in to
inform the visitors ICU visiting hours were over for now, and they may
come back tomorrow morning at nine o'clock.

"I think I'd better stay," Scully said.

"You know," Nurse Combs began gently, "I've been an ICU nurse for
twenty-seven years. I know my job, and now that Robin Abrams has been
here, Mr. Mulder will be perfectly capable of letting his needs known.
Quite frankly, you and your companion here look exhausted. Let me do my
job. Go home, dear."

Scully looked at Mulder, and he immediately spelled out,

"Okay. Tomorrow. I love you G-Man. Always," Scully said as she brushed
kisses all around his face.

"I'll be back tomorrow too, Fox," Skinner said as he walked over and
placed his large hand on Mulder's forehead and gently caressed it.
Skinner felt it was imperative to make some kind of physical contact with
Mulder, to make sure he knew how much Skinner cared about him and would be
there for him, no matter what.

Mulder watched the two of them leave. Mulder felt a sadness at seeing
them depart, yet he felt some semblance of relief as well. He knew they
were every bit as scared for him as he was for himself, and it took a
great deal of energy to try to hide that fear.

He indicated with the light beam he understood MaryAnn's promise she, or
another ICU staff member, would be in every twenty to thirty minutes to
check on him. She reminded him, however, he was being constantly
monitored so if there was an emergency, the front desk would be aware of

MaryAnn Combs wished him a good rest, and left the room.

And now Mulder had some time to think.

And time to be afraid.


End of Part 5/9
Disclaimers in Part 1

Part 6/9

Mulder imagined himself jerking about in a fitful sleep. He felt as
though he wanted to stretch and go for a run to try to get the cobwebs out
of his mind and body. He knew a good, hard run would enable him to clear
his mind and get ready for the day's work. He also considered asking
Scully to accompany him to Batchtown, Kentucky. He desperately wanted her
to meet Henry Marcos.

He'd dreamt about Henry Marcos. He'd dreamt about how Marcos had helped
the little boy, Adam. It seemed so long ago. Mulder couldn't remember
for a moment when that had happened.

Saturday. It had happened on a Saturday and then his cell phone rang, and
he was called home.

To find a madman.

And then Mulder woke up.

He looked up toward the ceiling and then toward his communication board.
He saw his headlight was still on and practiced using the board. When
several minutes passed, Mulder stopped practicing and laid perfectly
still. He wondered to himself if this was to be his fate. Looking at a
cardboard alphabet with a light affixed to his forehead.

He finally cried. He couldn't hold it back any longer. The tears
streamed large and luminous down his cheeks. Mulder tried to imagine what
life would be like from the perspective of laying or sitting all the time.
He tried to imagine what it would feel like never to be able to look an
adult straight in the eye, unless they came down to his level.

He wondered, through the tears, how he would manage his life. He was so
helpless now, he couldn't even brush tears away from his eyes or the snot
from his nose. He was completely dependent on others for his existence.
He couldn't even breathe without a damn machine down his throat at the
moment. He wasn't even able to scratch the itch on his chin. He damned
his impotence.

His impotence. Scully. He'd finally declared his love for Scully and now
he was nothing more than a vegetable. Oh, God, the last thing he wanted
to be was a burden to Scully. He couldn't live like this. He wanted to
die. He wanted to pull the plug on the machine himself and just die.

Some minutes passed when the door opened. It was MaryAnn Combs.

"Feeling a little sorry for yourself, are you?" she asked, not unkindly.

*YES* was his response.

"Good, you're an honest one. You're allowed to feel sorry for yourself,
Mr. Mulder. You do know that, don't you?"

*MAYBE* he responded.

"Oh, yes, of course you can. You're just not allowed to wallow in the
self-pity to the point where it becomes all consuming. Do you understand
what I mean?" she asked.

*YES* he answered.

"Good. Now, about how long do you think you need for this bout of
self-indulgence?" she asked seriously, but with the beginnings of a smile
on her lips as well.

*10 --M-I-N-U-T-E-S--?* he responded.

"Well, then, ten minutes you'll have, Mr. Mulder. It's about five a.m.
and I'll be back shortly to give you a sponge bath to freshen you up a
bit. Would that be okay?" she asked graciously.

*YES* he answered.

"Fine. See you in ten."

Mulder allowed himself a good cry from the moment MaryAnn left to just
before she returned. He'd asked her for the ten minutes, and she was as
good as her word, for when the ten minutes were up, MaryAnn was back in
the room with sponge bath supplies in hand.

While she bathed him, Mulder, who was considerably calmer now, had some
time to think about what choices were open to him. He could sit and rot
in the bed until the day he died was one option.

The next option was to demand as many doctors and specialists out there
who were expert in the field of spinal cord injuries to examine him and
offer him treatment.

The last option, the most outrageous choice, the one least likely to win
the award for most viable from any sane person, was to go with his gut and
his beliefs in extreme possibilities.

He made his choice. Now, he needed the help to execute his plan.

When he heard MaryAnn call his name, he hadn't realized how long he'd
drifted off, thinking. She wanted to tell him she was almost finished
giving him his sponge bath.

He supposed she was gentle, but he had no way of really knowing. He
wasn't able to turn his head fully to get a good enough view, and he
certainly couldn't feel whether she was gentle or rough. But MaryAnn
spoke to him and talked her way through the entire cleansing. She made
small talk, but interspersed within was a documentation of everything she
was doing to his body.

He didn't get nor need the grimy details, but Mulder thought it was
extremely considerate of MaryAnn to include him in the activity. When
she'd finished the bath, she managed to dress him in a clean hospital
gown, and after she'd checked his fluid output, she asked if there were
anything he wanted her to do for him.



When Scully arrived, it was with some trepidation given Mulder's request
from the day before, just prior to getting into the ambulance. She
couldn't imagine what was so important on Mulder's mind he felt the need
to call her to the hospital at six o'clock in the morning.

She opened the door and saw her partner laying so still she thought
perhaps he was asleep. She moved quickly before him so she could make
direct eye contact with him and saw he was, indeed, awake.

"Hey G-Man. I'm here." She then moved next to him in order to read the
board as he beamed the light on the specific word, phrase, or letter.


"I got MaryAnn's phone call. To be honest, it scared the hell out of me
to receive the call from the hospital at six a.m. I thought something
happened to you," she informed.


"Okay, apology accepted. Now what's so important that it required me to
get here at dawn?" she asked, with a mixture of curiosity and anxiety.


"Oh, Mulder," she cried out in distress. "You know if there's anything I
could do to help you, I would. You know that, don't you?"


"There is? What can I do?" she asked, puzzled.


"Henry?" she asked in confusion.


"Oh Mulder, I don't know. I mean, there's no proof he really helped that
child, much less be able to help you," Scully lamented.

*PLEASE* he pointed to the preprinted word.

"Mulder, is it wise to get your hopes up? I mean __," she began, but
stopped when she witnessed the light beam moving again.

*I-- B-E-L-I-E-V-E-*

"I'll get a flight out this afternoon, Mulder."

Scully reached over and caressed Mulder's face and then lavished him with
gentle kisses all around his nose and chin and forehead. As her lips
touched his cheeks, she tasted the salty wetness of his tears, but when
she looked directly into his eyes she saw them glistening with love as

"I love you, G-Man. I told you I will always love you, and I will do
anything for you," she declared.


"You're welcome," she replied adoringly. "I'm not going to stay very long
today. It seems I have this plane to catch to Tennessee."


She rented the car in the Tri-City Airport and began her drive to
Whitesburg, Kentucky. She figured she could stop at the little diner
Mulder had described to her, see if she could develop a taste for grits,
and get directions to Batchtown.

When she finally found the diner, not quite two hours later, she entered
with the intention of freshening up and then ordering some food. The
waitress, however, had other ideas.

"Oh! My heavens! He was right. He said you would come, and you did! Oh
hon, I just can't believe y'all are here! Oh, listen to me blabbing my
mouth off. You must need to clean up a bit, doncha? Little girl's room
is right back thar, hon. I'll get a nice cold iced tea ready for ya,
okay, hon?"

Scully walked into the small ladies room in a slight daze. She couldn't
imagine what the waitress was talking about. It was almost as if she'd
known who Scully was, as though she'd expected her arrival.

Scully used the facilities and then washed up thoroughly. The heat and
humidity were particularly oppressive and she was feeling quite drained by
it. She walked back into the dining room, and felt most grateful for the
bit of air conditioning and ceiling fans that whirled overhead.

When Scully seated herself at a small booth, the waitress practically ran
over to her. "Hi, hon. I'm Mandy, and the reverend already told me
you're Miz Scully."

When Dana looked up in wide-eyed surprise, Mandy continued and explained.
"Oh, y'all have to understand. The reverend comes in two, maybe three
times a week, dependin' whether he come into town or not. Y'all know the
reverend has a nice little office setup in town, right?

"Oh, listen to me di-gressin' and all that. Well, anyway, the reverend
had come on in for a little lunch yesterday, and we got to talkin' about
how he'd had a real nice visitor and I told him he was probably the same
nice young man that came on in for a take out dinner and then a nice

"Well, turns out it was, and the reverend told me that he had a feeling a
friend of Mr. Mulder's was gonna come in for a visit. The reverend said
something funny though. He said he hoped he was real wrong on this one.

"Now, why would you suppose Reverend Henry would say such a thing?" Mandy
asked, finally taking a breath.

In a shaky voice, Scully asked, "Reverend Henry didn't give you any
indication as to why he hoped I didn't come here?"

"No, sweetie. But he didn't say it that way. It's wasn't that he didn't
want you to come. He said, now let me make sure I'm gettin' this right,
y'hear? He said he hoped you wouldn't _need_ to come on down here," Mandy

"Ohmigod. How could he __?" Scully gasped aloud. "Mandy? Mandy, I need
to find the reverend as soon as possible."

"Oh, dear, Reverend Henry headed back up to the church in Batchtown
yesterday afternoon. But I can tell y'all how to find it pretty well, so
doncha worry none, 'kay?"

"But first you need to get some meat on them bones of yours. Don't they
feed you people up North? Mr. Mulder was nothing but skin and bones too,
for heaven's sake! Now, what can I getcha, hon?" Mandy asked.

"I'm not really hungry right now. I'm really anxious to get going and
find Mr. Marcos. It's really important," Scully said anxiously.

"Now you listen here, hon," Mandy began to admonish, "It's near on
ninety-five degrees out there and the humidity is clear on close to one
hundred percent. Now listen hon, I don't mean no disrespect, but you look
like something the cows would pass right on by at this point. You should
at least have something to drink," Mandy insisted.

"Maybe just some more iced tea. This heat has gotten to me a little, "
Scully answered.

"Okay, hon. Comin' right up."


Scully hadn't realized how hungry she really was until she decided to take
Mandy up on her offer of apple pie a la mode, having convinced herself it
would help cool her off. Scully actually managed a chuckle to herself
when she thought about the enormous sweet tooth she'd apparently developed
in recent days.

She finished off the pie and the iced tea, ordered a giant sized tea to
go, and scrupulously wrote down the directions Mandy gave her. Then Mandy
placed a bag in her hand.

"What's this?" Scully asked.

"Oh, just a couple of tuna sandwiches for the road. Y'all may get hungry
later, and 'sides, Reverend Henry loves my tuna salad sandwiches. So
you'd be doing me a favor by bringin' his on up to him, 'kay hun? Mandy
asked deceptively sweetly.

"Mandy, do I even dare ask you what I owe you for the sandwiches?" Scully

"This has something to do with that nice friend of yours, don't it?" Mandy

"Yes, Mandy, it does," Scully acknowledged.

"He needs the Reverend's healing gift?" she asked soberly.

"He thinks Mr. Marcos could help," Scully responded.

"Well, then you best be goin' to get Reverend Henry as quick as you can,"
Mandy answered. "So, shoo, out the door with you. Oh, I put a few cans
of ice cold iced teas in the bag. Should keep the tuna fresh, even in
this heat."

"Thank you, Mandy. For everything," Scully said and she left to go find

The directions were, thankfully, rather straightforward, and allowed
Scully the luxury of immersing herself in the scenery she drove by. The
higher she got up into the mountains, the fewer the homes and the more
rundown they'd become. When she finally reached the bridge, Scully
recognized it from Mulder's description.

Scully understood perfectly why the bridge was not the best part of
Kentucky. She was scared to death as she drove over it, recited every
prayer and psalm she could remember, and called on every Saint she could
think of to get her over the rickety shambles that passed for a bridge.

When she finally reached the dirt road that led to the church, Scully
drove apprehensively. She honestly wasn't sure why she was there. She
didn't believe Henry Marcos could do a damn thing for Mulder, and it
worried her he would place so much faith in a scam artist.

But Marcos did seem to know she was coming. Could it have be just a lucky
guess and her arrival triggered Mandy's memory of the suggestion? But why
would Marcos say to the waitress he'd hoped he was wrong.

"Hello, Agent Scully, or do you prefer Dr. Scully?" a male voice,
seemingly out of nowhere, asked courteously.

"Scully. Just Scully."

"Ahh," Henry Marcos said with a smile, "now why does that sound familiar?"

Scully didn't understand why she'd introduced herself in that manner as
she'd always preferred to be called Agent or Doctor Scully. Somehow, up
in the mountains of Appalachia, with this man, it didn't seem right.
Besides, she was here for Mulder's sake, not to stroke her own ego.

"Mr. Marcos__?" she began.

"_Henry. Just Henry, please."

"Henry, when I stopped at the diner, the waitress said you knew I was
coming," Scully said incredulously.

"Mandy's a piece of work, isn't she, Scully? Makes a heckuva tuna salad
sandwich," he chuckled, but then in a more serious tone said, "Yes, I told
her you were coming. I had a dream of sorts two days ago. I dreamt there
was a terrible scene with gunfire. I dreamt my new friend, Mulder, was
hurt." He paused momentarily and then asked softly, "I'm right, aren't I,

"Yes, Henry, you're right."

"He wants me to come to help him, yes? That's why you're here."

"Yes. He thinks you can help him," she confirmed.

"Ahh, but you do not, do you, Scully?"

"No, Henry. I don't."

"So, why are you here then?" Henry asked seriously.

"Because Mulder believes. And I believe in Mulder," she answered

"Your faith in your partner is that strong, Scully?"

''I love him, Henry. Yes, my faith in him is that strong."

"Then we must leave as soon as possible. I can not be away from the
church for too long," he replied. "I need to inform a few of the families
I will be away for a couple of days, so they may take extra precautions,"
he explained.

Scully nodded in acknowledgment, but glanced at him with a bit of
skepticism. Yes, she loved Mulder and had all the faith in the world in
him. If Mulder believed Henry Marcos could help him, then perhaps a
little positive energy from this man couldn't hurt.

She prayed she was right.


During their course of travel from Batchtown to Whitesburg to the
Tri-City Airport near Blountville, Tennessee, Henry and Dana discussed his
gift and what he could and could not do. Henry was aware that his gift
was lumped in with the scam artists who proclaimed themselves as 'Psychic

He informed Scully he never claimed to be a psychic surgeon and agreed
with her wholeheartedly the feats they claimed to do were nothing more
than show biz slights of hand. Henry stated what may have been considered
to be the obvious by some, but needed to be confirmed for Scully and
Mulder's sake.

"I cannot remove a bullet through the touch of my hands, Scully. I
honestly don't know what, if anything, I can do for him."

Scully asked Henry if he knew exactly what was Mulder's condition. Henry
informed her the only thing he knew for sure was Mulder had been shot and
was unable to function normally. He did not profess to know how involved
his condition was.

The fact he knew Mulder was shot impressed Scully a bit. She asked him
how he came to this knowledge. Once again, Henry explained how he had
dreams, sometimes through something he considered visions. He'd sensed
Mulder's distress in the early evening on the night before last. Henry
had felt the anguish very strongly, and had known Mulder was in trouble.
He'd sensed Scully's presence as well. Henry told Scully he had also
perceived a third person with whom he wasn't familiar with, as the only
friend Mulder had talked to Henry about was Scully.

"Skinner," she said aloud inadvertently.


"What?" she asked confused.

"What or who is Skinner?" Henry asked.

"Assistant Director Walter Skinner. He's our boss," Scully explained.
"He was there, at the restaurant as well."

"It is the assistant director who Mulder protected along with you, is it
not?" Henry asked.

"Yes," she responded cautiously. Experience had taught Scully Henry could
be fishing for information, and she wanted to be careful to not lead him
into any more information than she already had.

Yet, as hard as she tried to look upon her travel companion with
objective, skeptical eyes, Scully found herself being drawn by his
gentleness and sincerity, as well as his intelligence and engaging
personality. She reminded herself it was she who went to Henry Marcos for
assistance. Henry did not solicit his 'services' to her and Mulder.

But he'd known she would come.


By the time they'd arrived at the hospital, Walter Skinner was by Mulder's
bedside. Mulder managed to explain Scully's absence, so when she and
Henry Marcos entered the room, Skinner stood up knowingly.

"Walter Skinner," the AD said as he offered his hand to the awaited guest.

"Henry Marcos," the Filipino man replied while returning the gesture.

Scully, meanwhile, moved over towards Mulder to bend over and kiss him on
the forehead. "Hey G-Man, how ya doing?"


"I love you too, Mulder," she replied with a smile and another kiss.


"Mulder, you won't believe this, but Henry _knew_ I was coming," said
Scully incredulously.


Scully laughed out loud at that, and immediately replied, "Mea Culpa! I
know not what I speak."

"And what is it you do not know, Scully?" asked Henry.

Mulder's eyebrow shot up questioningly at Henry's use of just his
partner's surname, but when she let it pass with nary a glance, he decided
it wasn't anything for him to be concerned about. Curious, yes, but not

"I had the audacity to think Mulder would be surprised you knew I was
coming to Batchtown," she said dryly.

"You knew she was coming?" echoed Skinner.

"Yes. I did know she was coming. Do not ask me how I knew, because I
myself do not understand all there is to know about my gift. Just suffice
it to say I did know, so I was able to prepare myself and my community for
my potential absence," Henry explained.

Next, Henry walked over to Mulder's bedside, opposite of Scully, and sat
down on the chair beside it. "Hello, my friend, Mulder. It appears to me
your trip back home was not so fortuitous."


"Were you able to capture the criminal who committed all of those
murders?" he asked.


"Then I'd say something good came out of your misfortune."


"But that's not why I'm here, is it?" Marcos asked.


"I don't know if I can, Mulder. Every time I've ever used my gift in the
past was on was something indigenous to the body. Even Lenore Gubaju's
horrible cancer was created within her body.

"I've never dealt with a foreign object in the body before. I don't know
if my gift can do anything about the bullet. I don't know what might
happen. I'm even fearful I might cause more harm," he relayed earnestly.


"Mulder, wait!" Scully interjected. "If Henry thinks there's a chance he
might do you more harm, then it's not a good risk."


"But Mulder, you could really die," Scully bemoaned.


"Oh Mulder__," she began.

"Scully," Skinner interrupted, "it's not our choice. It's his choice.
Don't take away his choice," he said, all the while looking directly at


"Well then," began Henry, all the while looking back and forth from
Mulder's exhilarated eyes to the worried eyes of Dana Scully, "I think we
should wait to hear the results of your latest tests and then proceed from
there." Then, looking only at Scully, he asked, "How does that sound?"

"Fine, just fine," Scully replied with a small, defeated sigh.

End of Part 6/9

Disclaimers in Part 1

Part 7/9

Dr. Polasky offered nothing encouraging after his latest examination of
Mulder. The results of yet another MRI and CT scan showed little, if
any, reduction in the swelling. In fact, there was some concern of signs
of infection surrounding the bullet.

"So there's no indication the bullet has moved at all?" asked Scully

"No, Dr. Scully, unfortunately it appears the bullet has not moved at all.
We can not surgically remove it," he said, confirming her fears.

"How long will it take for the swelling to go down, Dr. Polasky?" Henry

"And you are, Sir?" Polasky queried.

"My apologies. I am Henry Marcos. I am __,"

"__Mulder's brother-in-law," interrupted Scully, knowing full well the
hospital's policy was to allow only immediate family to visit in the ICU.

"I see, well there's no way of knowing how long it will take for the
swelling to reduce Mr. Marcos. Of course, if an infection sets in because
of the bullet, then the length of time before the swelling reduces will be
even longer," replied the doctor.

"Henry, how long will you be able to stay and visit?" Skinner asked

"I must return within a couple of days, Mr. Skinner. It would be most
dangerous for me to remain away any longer than that," Henry replied.

"Dangerous?" Dr. Polasky questioned. "Are you in some kind of danger?
Perhaps you shouldn't be here __?"

"Dr. Polansky- Mr. Skinner is the Assistant Director of the FBI. I am a
Special Agent with the bureau. The man lying in that bed is also an FBI
Special Agent. Do you honestly believe, for one moment, we would allow
anyone nearby who could possibly endanger the patients in this hospital,
or more specifically, _this_ patient? Really, Doctor. I should think you
would give the Federal Bureau of Investigation a little more credit,"
Scully retorted indignantly.

"Oh, of course, I didn't mean to imply, I mean__," Dr. Polasky sputtered,
but finally gave up and simply said, "We will continue to monitor Mr.
Mulder for possible infection for the next forty-eight hours in the ICU.
After that, if there's no change, we'll have to most likely make
arrangements for a rehabilitation setting or nursing home."

*NO-!-!-NO-!-!-NO-* Mulder began to choke on the respirator tube in his
desperate attempt to shine the light on the communication board to gain
someone's attention. There was no way he was going into a nursing home.
He'd rather someone put a bullet to his head than vegetate in a home.

"Mulder, calm down, please! No one is sending you anywhere. You're not
going to a nursing home, so settle down," Scully cajoled, soothed, and
pleaded all at the same time.

Mulder finally settled down, and after Dr. Polasky carefully examined him
to make sure he didn't cause himself anymore damage, the doctor declared
him recovered from the choking episode.

"However, this is not to say I'm not concerned about the possibility of
infection. If Mr. Mulder's paralysis shows no sign of improving, or if
the swelling has not shown any demonstrable decrease, we will have to
consider, well other arrangements. A nursing home may be our only

Now, Mr. Mulder, I suggest you rest and stay put," the Doctor finally said
without thinking.

Mulder rolled his eyes in response, and Polasky at least had the decency
to blush when he realized his faux pas. As quickly as possible, he bid
everyone a good night.


"Mulder, the only reason Polasky mentioned the nursing home was because
it's a cheaper alternative than for you to recover in the hospital. Don't
panic. I won't let them send you to a nursing home," Scully insisted.


"Please, don't be scared about that. I won't let them ship you off to a
nursing home. I promise," Scully declared emphatically.


"You're welcome." And then to no one in particular, Scully asked, "So now

"I guess it's up to Mulder and Henry," Skinner responded. "Henry, what do
you suggest?"

"I suggest you leave Mulder and me alone for a little while so we can talk
things over," Henry suggested in an unthreatening tone.

"Oh, but__." Scully stopped, looked at Mulder, and boldly asked, "Would
you like to speak with Henry in private, Mulder?"

When she saw him avert his eyes, Scully softened her tone as much as she
could and, in an attempt to ease his mind, told him, "Mulder, it's okay if
you do. I won't be insulted, and I'm sure Walter won't be either. I ask
only to make sure it's what _you_ want."


"You're welcome, G-Man," she said as she placed kisses on his forehead
and his cheeks, and then whispered, "I'll see you in a little while. I
love you so much." And with that Dana left the room.

Skinner told Mulder he was going to convince Scully to go with him to the
cafeteria to get a bite to eat. They'd be back in about an hour, if that
was okay with him and Henry. Both men indicated that would be fine, and
in fact Mulder communicated his thanks to Skinner for looking after Scully
for him. Skinner smiled at that, placed his hand on Mulder's forehead and
caressed it gently, and told him he would be back later to talk.


"Are we doing the right thing, Sir?" Scully asked as she walked with
Skinner to the cafeteria.

"It's all about choice, Dana. It's not our choice to make, so yes, we're
doing the right thing. Mulder needs to know he has some empowerment in
making a decision about his life.

"Scully, we both know Mulder would never survive living like this. Sure,
his body might, but his soul would simply wither away and die," Skinner

"But even if he was paralyzed, he could still function. He could still
live a life," Scully lamented.

"Yes, he could live _a_ life, but would it be _his_ life?" Skinner
responded. "Dana, if he believes there's a chance, even if' the odds are
stacked totally against him, if there's the slightest chance he could get
his life back from Henry, don't you think he deserves the right to take
that risk?"

"But he could die. Or even worse__," Scully began.

"__Even worse?" Skinner questioned. "What could be worse than dying?"

"Nothing." When Skinner looked at her curiously, she continued on. "I
mean literally, nothing happens. Henry does his voodoo and Mulder's left
exactly like he was."

"So? He'd be no worse off than he was before," Skinner replied.

"No, Sir. I think in that you're wrong. Mulder needs to believe in
something. Right now he believes in Henry. If Henry fails, Mulder's
faith in Henry is gone. But worse, I think his belief in himself would be
diminished too," she said dejectedly.

"I suspect it's a chance Mulder is willing to take," Skinner responded.

"I suspect you're right, damn it," Scully agreed grudgingly.

"You are a very lucky man, Mulder," Henry said confidently to the man who
was unable to move and laid on his back in a hospital bed with a
respirator tube down his throat.

*L-E-T-S--P-L-A-Y--L-O-T-T-O-* Mulder replied, noting the irony of Henry's

Henry laughed as he appreciated the dry wit of the man before him. He
wished they had gotten together again under less stressful circumstances,
as he felt a kindred spirit in Fox Mulder. Henry held out hope they would
have a long friendship.

"Mulder, you have very good friends." And then, almost as an
afterthought, he asked, "Do you have family?"

Mulder considered how to answer this question and then spelled out,

"Is your family deceased?" Henry pressed. He wanted to make sure there
weren't others of importance that should, eventually, be in on this

*NO--B-U-T--I--A-M--T-O--T-H-E-M-* he said as honestly as he could.

"Very well," Henry said, satisfied Mulder did not want anyone else other
than the two people, who sat worrying and drinking bad coffee in the
hospital cafeteria, to have a role in the decision making.

"Mulder, you have to know I can offer no guarantees."


"Yes, but the chance is a very slim one. I don't know, if by using my
gift, I might make things worse. All I do know, is I cannot remain here
beyond tomorrow. The children need ___," he began but quickly took note
of Mulder's wish to communicate.


"So, you really want me to try?" he asked.


"Mulder, I must be honest with you. I'm afraid. It's possible when I lay
my hands on you, the gift could cause the bullet to move and sever the
spinal cord. So if it's not cut already, my touching you could be the
final blow."


"Mulder, what if it moves, but you're still paralyzed?"


"But is it worth the risk to you?"


Both men knew the decision had been made as soon as the good Dr. Polasky
offered them no more hope than before. In fact, as soon as Mulder heard
there was a possibility infection from the lodged bullet, he knew he had
to take a chance with Henry. Even if he remained paralyzed, Mulder didn't
want to take the chance of a long, lingering death from an infection.

They sat together, sometimes quietly, sometimes shooting the breeze. But
the longer they sat together, the more confident each one became in their
feelings the decision for Henry to go ahead was the only right one.


Only fifty minutes had passed before Scully and Skinner reappeared in
Mulder's room. Neither one could make the watery coffee and stale danish
last any longer, and they both felt the need to confirm what they'd
already assumed was Mulder's decision.

"So?" asked Scully.

"So, we go ahead," responded Henry.

"Mulder, are you sure?" she asked as she moved closer to him.

*YES* he replied quickly.

"When do we do this," asked Skinner.

"I would like to begin as soon as possible. I was telling Mulder, it's
important I return by tomorrow night. It could be dangerous to the
children I treat if I stay away any longer," Henry answered.

*N-O-W_* Mulder communicated.

"Now?" Scully said anxiously.

"Yes," Henry agreed, "Now would be good."

"Is there anything we can do to help, Henry?" Skinner asked.

He looked first at Skinner and then as he was about to speak, he focused
on Scully most of all.

"Try to believe," he replied

Skinner smiled and nodded while Scully murmured very softy, "I'll try."
Next, she looked at Mulder and said, "I love you, Fox."


Henry nodded towards Dana and she moved to the other side of the bed along
side Skinner. Henry felt it would be best to lay his hands in the area
closest to where the bullet laid, so he asked Skinner and Scully to assist
him in turning Mulder slightly so he might get his hands on Mulder's back.

The two worked in tandem and shifted Mulder just enough to allow Henry to
place his hands in the approximate place where the bullet might have been.

Henry kneeled slightly so he was able to place his hands flushed against
Mulder's upper spine. He held them there, and he closed his eyes.
Skinner and Scully meanwhile held onto Mulder to keep him in position. In
addition to acting as Mulder's anchor, Scully also monitored Mulder's
vital signs, to make sure there was no undue stress being placed on him
that could cause him any more harm.

Several minutes passed when both Skinner and Scully felt the need to shift
their feet and legs from one to the other, as they were bearing Mulder's
weight as well. Both were wondering how long they were going to have to
continue doing this when Scully suddenly heard the monitor start to beep a
little faster.

"Mulder? Mulder, are you all right?" Scully asked.

Of course, with the respirator down his throat and he being shifted to
his side, there was no way he could answer her. If he could, he would
have said both 'yes' and 'no.'

He felt heat emanating through his neck and back. It was, at first, a
warm, soothing feeling. As the minutes passed, however, the heat became
more focused and sharper until, after several more minutes, the heat began
to pass through him as though a laser were going through him.


Lots of pain.

This was a good thing and a bad thing.

It was a good thing, because it meant there was a possibility Mulder's
spinal cord was not severed since he had some feeling again.

It was a bad thing, because the pain was so severe now, Mulder thought
death sounded like a pretty good alternative. He began to cry out from
the intensity of the pain. The monitors now screamed out their many
beeps, buzzers, and bells which alerted the medical staff that something
was terribly amiss with the 'quad in room B.'

"What the hell is going on in here?" demanded the day shift charge nurse.

"It is all I can do," said Henry, as he ignored the nurse and spoke
directly to Scully and Skinner. He then leaned over his bedridden friend
and said, "Mulder, I am sorry if I caused you any undue pain, but I don't
think there was any way of avoiding it."

Mulder simply blinked his eyes at this point, and moaned. He neck and
back burned from the touch of Henry's hands and he was feeling an
agonizing pain from the bullet wound and its surrounding infection.

Mulder's had a few gun shot wounds in his life, but this one was by far
one of the most painful. Perhaps it was because he was conscious, while
the other times he was out cold. He needed to be in that state now. As
soon as possible. He focused the beam of light on the communication


"What's wrong? Talk to me, Mulder. What's wrong?" Scully asked


"Where is the pain?" Scully asked.

"What pain?" interjected the nurse. "He shouldn't be in any pain! He's
paralyzed for crying out loud!"

"Well, he is in pain, and it's bad, so I suggest you get Dr. Polasky paged
immediately so he can order some pain meds for this patient." When the
nurse stood, seemingly frozen in place, Scully looked hard at her and
shouted, "PAGE POLASKY, NOW."

The nurse left quickly.

"Mulder, where's the pain?" Scully asked again.


"Okay, the doctor will be here soon to order some meds for you. Hang in
there, G-Man," Scully encouraged.

"What's wrong?" questioned Skinner. "What's happened?"

"I think," Henry began, "the bullet moved and took some pressure off of
the spinal column. This can be good, because it's quite possible then the
cord was not severed. But, obviously it is bad because now Mulder is
feeling the pain of the wound and probable infection."

"Can't you do something to heal the infection?" Skinner asked.

"I am fearful of trying to do anything more, Mr. Skinner, because of the
placement of the bullet. I don't know how far it's moved or where it's
moved. I don't know what direction it's taken. I think it's best to wait
for more tests to see if the doctors can perform the surgery now," Henry

Mulder, at this point, neither heard nor cared about Henry's explanation.
All he knew was the agony he felt. He was still unable to move his arms
and legs, though he thought he felt some sensation in his extremities.
But the pain in his neck and back was too overpowering for him to be
terribly excited about the possible return of sensation to his limbs.

He remained on the respirator, as he still required assistance in
breathing. But Mulder continued to moan and cry out as he attempted to
find some solace, some relief, from the searing pain in his back.

Henry stood off to the side, and for the first time in a long time, felt
doubts about whether he did the right thing. He was used to seeing those
with whom he'd used his gift relieved of pain. This was the first time
he'd ever seen his gift seemingly cause pain. Henry felt devastated at
the thought.

Skinner, having noticed the obvious distress in Henry's face, walked over
to him quietly and simply put his hand on Henry's shoulder in a gesture of
understanding and comfort.

"Henry," Skinner said softly, "it's going to be all right. Mulder knew
what he was asking you to do, and he knew the risks. He can feel the
pain, Henry. Believe it or not, I think this is a good thing."

"Mr. Skinner, I am most fearful this may cause him more pain than he will
be able to deal with," Henry responded.

"Then you don't know our Mulder very well yet. This man has endured more
physical and emotional pain then any ten men I've known, and somehow, he
always comes out on top. He's going to get through this ordeal as well,
you'll see. He's going to get through this," Skinner said firmly, as much
to satisfy himself as it was to convince Henry.


When Dr. Polasky arrived he demanded an immediate account of what
precipitated his patient's sudden onset of acute pain. When no one came
forth with a plausible explanation, Polasky threatened to have everyone
arrested for assault on his patient.

"The only person who will be held accountable for this patient's
well-being, Doctor, is you, if you don't do something to give him some
relief from the pain he is _miraculously_ feeling," intimated Skinner in
his most powerful AD tone.

"If I may be so bold as to suggest Mulder might benefit from a new set of
x-rays, as it's apparent something has changed in terms of his health
status, and I for one would like to know what that change is so we might
know better how to proceed," added Scully in her most forceful MD tone.

Polasky looked first at Skinner and then at Scully. He'd forgotten with
whom he was dealing. He simply sighed, wrote down orders for some pain
meds, and informed the nurses to get an attendant in to take the patient
to x-ray immediately.


"It's still a risky operation, Dr. Scully," Polasky said as they all
stared at the brand new x-ray, MRI, and CT scan results.

"But the bullet's moved away from the spinal cord, hasn't it?" asked

"Yes, but it hasn't moved away far enough to make it completely safe to
operate," Dr. Polasky answered.

"But it's more of a viable option now, isn't it?" Scully asked.

"It's more of an option now than it was before," he concurred.

"And the infection is more evident, isn't it, Doctor?" asked Scully.

"Yes, the x-rays show the infection is presenting itself more clearly,"
the doctor began. "We'll start a course of antibiotics and hope that
inhibits the infection. After a few days, the swelling should be reduced
and we'll be able to operate."


"Excuse me," Dr. Polasky apologized, "that's me." He walked over to pick
up one of the hospital wall phones.

" Polasky. --



"Get him prepped for surgery. Is Silvers on call? --

''Good. Call him and tell him we're bringing up a real interesting

"Yes, thanks, MaryAnn. Yes, I agree you're the best damned ICU nurse there
is and yes, I know you'll keep on reminding me. MaryAnn?" he pause. "Good
looking out, kiddo. I owe you. Be right up," Polasky concluded the
one-sided conversation.

He turned to the trio who looked at him curiously and said, "Looks like
Mr. Mulder made the decision for us."

"What do you mean?" asked Skinner.

"He began bleeding internally. We've got to go in to stop the bleeding,
so we might as well pluck the damn bullet out while we're in there,"
Polasky explained.


End of Part 7/9

Disclaimers in Part 1

Part 8/9

Over four hours had passed, and Scully kept ticking off, in her mind, all
the things that could have possibly gone wrong. She considered the
possibility they weren't able to stop the bleeding, or the bullet had
become inaccessible, or the surgeon had accidentally severed the spinal
cord, or Mulder's heart had simply stopped.

Scully couldn't bear the last thought. She couldn't accept the
possibility Mulder was dead. However, she also couldn't understand what
was taking so long. Scully wanted to scream at the top of her lungs and
lash out to demand information about her partner. Instead, she worked
extra hard at maintaining a calm exterior, because that's what Scully did
in a crisis.

She looked at Henry and Walter and quickly realized they were having as
difficult a time waiting for some word on Mulder's condition as she was.
She wondered how much longer it could possibly take.

Skinner, on the other hand, sat quietly and worried. About everybody. He
worried about Mulder. He had hoped the procedure would have been done by
now, but he figured if anything had gone wrong, someone would have
notified them, wouldn't they? Skinner chalked it up to the surgeons
working extremely cautiously, given the location of the bullet.

He also worried about Henry, who he knew blamed himself for Mulder's
situation. Skinner had tried to convince him no one, least of all Mulder,
blamed him for Mulder's predicament. He realized though how easy it was
to say the words were true, but so much more difficult to accept them as

At the moment, however, Skinner was most worried about Scully.
He wondered when he'd suddenly developed this paternal side of his

Perhaps it wasn't so sudden. He guessed he'd had about five and a half
years of practice.

He was, nonetheless, concerned about Scully's reaction, or rather lack of
reaction. He felt she was too quiet, and it bothered him to see her
detach herself from the situation. He hoped she would be able to find her
way back if, God forbid, Mulder didn't make it.

And that was the first time Skinner actually considered the idea Mulder
might not make it. Might not live.

Might die.

Skinner swallowed hard on that thought. He'd only just been blessed with
Mulder's and Scully's friendship, and now there was a real possibility
Mulder might die. Skinner closed his eyes for a few minutes. He
remembered back to how he felt when he learned of Mulder's rescue attempt
in Antarctica.

Skinner remembered he'd thought Mulder wasn't going to make it back much
less be successful in his rescue attempt of Scully. He remembered he'd
felt sadness at the thought of losing his two best, if not exasperating,
agents. But as much as he'd admired them, and yes, had liked them, he
hadn't felt a strong personal tie or closeness to either of them.

Not like now. Not since they'd come back from their frozen misadventure,
and he'd actually developed a friendship with both of them. No, not like

Now, it hurt. Skinner felt an actual physical pain in his chest and
stomach at the thought of losing Mulder. He squeezed his eyes tightly
shut now, in hopes of trapping the tears that threatened to escape.
Skinner didn't want to alarm Scully. He wanted to remain stoic for her
sake, but as the minutes ticked into hours, it was becoming more and more

Henry watched both of them with watery eyes. He felt their agony was his
own fault. He realized it was Mulder's choice to go through with the act,
but Henry had had so much doubt, he felt he, himself, should have refused.

Henry had a choice too. He felt he'd made the wrong choice, and it scared
him terribly to think he might never have the nerve to use his gift again.
What if he caused another person the kind of pain he caused Mulder, or
the grief he's now causing Scully and Mr. Skinner.

Henry knew the surgical procedure would most likely take a long time. By
the time they had Mulder prepped, the surgeon located and scrubbed, the
anesthesiologist and surgical support team readied, an hour could easily
have passed. The surgery itself was very delicate and would last a

Henry made it a habit to keep himself up to date on current medical
practices by reading many medical journals and research papers. He wanted
to understand as much about traditional medical practices and patients
results and reactions as possible. So, much like Scully, he almost knew
too much. Henry was well aware the procedure Mulder was now undergoing
was very, very risky.

Not only were they dealing with the attempted removal of a foreign object,
the surgeons needed to be extremely cautious because of its location.
The infection resulted in swelling which most likely obscured the clarity
of the area being operated on, as well as made it more difficult to secure
the bullet. And of course, there was the additional problem of the
internal hemorrhaging. The surgeons had their work cut out for them as
they sutured and tied whatever vessels and veins that needed attending to
stop the bleeding.

Henry sighed deeply. He almost wished he'd never come to Washington, DC
for then he wouldn't have harmed his friend. He almost wished he'd never
gone to Batchtown, KY, for then there would have been no Henry Marcos for
Mulder to locate.

But there still would have been a madman to catch, and Mulder would have,
most likely, still protected his boss and Scully by getting shot in the
back. Henry sighed again.

Upon hearing Henry, Scully looked up and asked, "How are you holding up?"

"About as well as the both of you, I suspect," Henry replied, and then
looking back at Skinner, he asked, "Scully, is he all right?"

"Walter? Walter," she repeated, as she suddenly did not like the pasty
pallor of Skinner's face, "are you all right?"

Skinner blinked hard and nodded his head mutely. He didn't trust himself
to speak as yet, and both Henry and Scully sensed that.

Scully then said, "I suppose I should contact his mother."

Henry jumped slightly at that remark. "Mulder told me he didn't have a
relationship with his family."

"He doesn't," Skinner said having finally found his voice. "But it
doesn't mean we don't try to make contact with her every time he's hurt.
But since the last time, Scully, do you think we should waste our breath?"
he asked cynically.

Skinner shuddered slightly as he recalled the conversations he had with
both Maggie Scully and Teena Mulder upon learning both Scully and Mulder
were rescued from the collapsing glacier. Maggie Scully reacted in just
the manner he'd expected of her.

She not only asked about her daughter's condition, but Fox's as well. She
interrogated Skinner on every possible topic that related to the initial
abduction, the rescue, and the recovery, for both Dana and Fox. Though
she was certainly emotional, she was controlled enough to get the
necessary information so she'd be with her daughter as soon as possible.

He then remembered what had happened when he'd called Teena Mulder.
Unfortunately, she behaved pretty much the way he'd anticipated she would.
In fact, she was worse.

When Skinner informed Mrs. Mulder her son had traipsed halfway round the
world to rescue his partner in a hostile, cold, enemy filled encampment,
she stonily asked why her son continually insisted upon placing himself in

She then informed Skinner she refused to discuss it any longer. She
didn't need to hear about the too many times he had difficulties. She'd
told him she was getting far too weak and old to deal with that kind of

Skinner, of course, couldn't believe his ears. He couldn't understand how
a woman could write off her own child, her only son. It truly boggled his
mind Teena Mulder would go to the extreme of ignoring the plight of her
own son.

But she did.

When Skinner phoned Maggie Scully to inform her of her daughter's
impending arrival at the hospital in DC, she, driving in from Baltimore,
had somehow managed to beat the ambulance to Georgetown Medical Center.
Maggie was at the hospital to greet both Dana and Mulder.

Teena Mulder, on the other hand, let it be known she felt she was much too
frail to make the journey to DC, and to please let Fox know she hoped he
had a speedy recovery. Mrs. Mulder made no mention of Scully. Skinner
remembered holding the phone to his ear with his mouth agape seconds after
he'd heard the telltale click of the receiver being hung up on the other

So now, when Scully suggested Teena Mulder be called, well it sounded
slightly ludicrous.

"Why bother?" he asked seriously.

"Because she's his mother, and there's always the chance she may have a
change of heart," Scully replied, though not with any true conviction.
"And as crazy as it sounds, he does love her, you know."

"I know, but if she ever did show up, it would probably give Mulder a
coronary," Skinner muttered sarcastically.

"You're probably right," Scully replied more seriously, "but, I don't
think we have the right to make the decision not to call her."

"You know, he'd probably be better off seeing your mother," Skinner

"I know," Scully smiled, "and I did phone Mom earlier. I told her to
come by tomorrow when he's out of recovery," she explained as she thought
how much more optimistic she was four hours ago.

"You really believe she would not come to see her son?" Henry posed

"One way of finding out," Scully said. "She pulled out her cellular phone
and dialed Mrs. Mulder's Greenwich phone number. It rang several times
when she finally heard someone respond and say 'hello.'

"Hello, Mrs. Mulder. It's Dana Scully, Fox's partner? --

"I'm sorry, I didn't realize it was quite this late__,--

"Yes, ma'am, I'm afraid he is__,--

"Yes, ma'am, again.--

"Well, he was shot while saving the lives of myself and Assistant Director
Skinner from a criminally insane serial killer two days ago.--

"Yes, ma'am, two days ago. I'm sorry we didn't contact you sooner, but

"Yes, ma'am, I understand how upset you must be. I am calling you now,
however, to inform you your son is undergoing emergency surgery even now
as we speak.--

"Yes, ma'am, right now. The doctors are attempting to remove a bullet
that was lodged in Fox's back, near his spinal cord. There's been some
concern about infection and possible paralysis. --

"Yes, ma'am, paralysis.--

"We don't know for sure.--

"No, ma'am, no one expects you to become Fox's caretaker should he be
paralyzed. You have made us all quite well aware of your incapacity to
travel far or provide recovery care for your son on numerous occasions.--

"No, ma'am, I was not being sarcastic, merely repeating the facts as I
know them.--

"No,ma'am, no insult was meant.--

"__ Mrs. Mulder? Do you want me to call when Fox comes out of surgery?--

"Of course. What ever you wish, ma'am. Good night," Scully concluded the

"And her wish is?" Skinner asked sardonically.

"Oh, to call her after nine o'clock tomorrow morning as she's going back
to bed now and doesn't wish to be disturbed," Scully replied with

"You're not serious," Henry said unbelieving.

"Unfortunately, Henry, I'm most serious," Scully replied.

"Jesus Christ, have mercy on us all," Henry prayed in reaction.

"Amen," both Scully and Skinner replied softly.


The surgery was tedious and taking a long time, but it was going smoothly
just the same. Dr. Silvers kept looking at the row of x-rays that lined
the light screen and kept muttering to himself how the hell the bullet
moved so far from its original position.

"Polasky? What the hell is up with those pictures? There's no way the
bullet could have moved from the first place to where it is now," Silvers

"Well, it did," Polasky said firmly, as he continued to suture the tiny
blood vessels that kept leaking precious blood.

"It's a God damned mess in here, but it's a good thing we're getting the
bullet out. I'd hate to think where the damned thing could have traveled
next," Silvers said. "Okay, hold this area for me. Nurse, would you
please flush this area. No, over here," he indicated with the elongated

"Jon, how does it look to you?" Silvers asked his colleague.

"Just ripe for the pickin', Michael. You pull it out, and I'll be ready
to start suturing," Polasky responded.

Michael Silvers grasped the bullet and pulled it slowly out of the
infected area.

He plunked it into a specimen jar. "Think he'll want it for a souvenir?"
asked Silvers.

"Doesn't matter whether he does or not. I was informed to label and
secure the bullet when it was finally removed for evidence," Polasky
informed. Silvers nodded and handed the jar to one of the team's nurses
to do the labeling.

Jon Polasky got quickly to work on suturing the veins torn in the process
of removing the bullet, and Dr. Silvers quickly joined him in the tedious

"Have you had a good look at the vertebra and cord?" Silvers asked.

"Yeah, the vertebra merely looked slightly compressed, but not broken.
The cord looks intact, but there's still so much swelling surrounding the
area, he's not going to be feeling too much sensation for a few days,"
Polasky observed.

"Well, at least all he'll require are a few weeks of PT instead of
Medicare for the rest of his life," Silvers responded.

"Yeah," Polasky agreed, remembering the patient's panicked reaction to the
idea of being transferred to a nursing home. "Barring complications, we
should see him back on his feet in a few weeks."

The surgeons worked on, and four and a half later they wheeled their
patient into the recovery room. Polasky and Silvers went into the waiting
room to speak with his "family."


Scully saw Polasky first and looked at him with such intensity, Polasky
felt almost self-conscious, as if his zipper was open or something.
Finally, however, Polasky gave a thumbs up sign, which, in turn, made him
the delighted recipient of one of Dr. Dana Scully's rare, but extremely
radiant, smiles.

"Everything went well," Polasky said.

There was an audible sigh of relief. Skinner finally felt himself able to
breath again, and Henry was just so relieved he thought he might cry.

Scully, however, recomposed herself quickly and went into 'medical mode.'
"Dr. Polasky," she began, "when you say everything went well, what
exactly do you mean by that?"

"I mean everything went well. Though the area is badly infected, the
bullet's been removed and we stopped the internal bleeding. We'll be
administering a strong block of antibiotics which should clear up the
swelling within the week.

"The vertebra merely look slightly compressed, and that was most likely
due to the pressure the bullet had put on the spinal column when it first
entered, as well as from the swelling. With the bullet gone, and the
swelling due to be reduced, I'm sure with physical therapy the compression
can be corrected as well," Polasky explained.

"And the cord? Was there any damage to the cord?" Henry asked anxiously.

"No, Sir. The cord looks quite intact," Dr. Silvers offered.

"Thank God," Henry murmured.

"How long of a recovery period are we talking about here, Doctors?"
Skinner asked. "Agent Mulder will most likely be needed as a material
witness against the SOB who shot him."

"Well, he'll need to be in the hospital for another week at least to
insure the infection is obliterated, and then he'll need to start physical
therapy. Mr. Mulder won't be able to just hop out of bed and start
walking. His body has been through an enormous trauma, and it will need
time to readjust itself," suggested Silvers.

"May I ask a question? Where exactly was the bullet?" Henry asked

"Well, now that was the damnedest thing. The bullet was lodged in some
fatty tissue a good four to five centimeters away from the spinal cord.
Now, I know that doesn't sound like much, but when you're dealing with the
spinal cord, millimeters count, so four centimeters is actually quite a
large jump. Any idea as to how that could have happened?" Polasky asked
with good-natured suspicion.

"Not a clue, Doctor. My partner might call it an 'X-File,'" Scully

"An 'X-File?'" echoed both doctors.

"It's what Mulder and I investigate. Unexplained phenomena," explained

"Oh," they responded knowingly, but not really comprehending.

"When can we see him?" Scully asked.

"He's still out from the anesthesia and should continue to sleep for
another couple of hours at least. Why don't you all grab a bite to eat,
and he should be back in his room in about an hour," Silvers responded.

"ICU?" asked Skinner.

"For the next forty-eight hours at least," replied Polasky. "Dr. Silvers
is right. Go grab a bite to eat. He's going to be fine."

Scully looked at Polasky and offered her hand in gratitude. Polasky felt
a sense of relief he hadn't realized he needed to feel, as he shook Dana
Scully's hand.

"Thank you, Doctor. I know I wasn't the easiest person to deal with, but
when it comes to getting the best medical care for my partner, I tend to
be a shrew," admitted Scully.

"I never took it personally, Dr. Scully," he said, though both knew the
truth behind that statement. "And to be honest, I hope someday I find
someone who loves me as much to fight tooth and nail if I'm ever

Scully returned the Polasky's knowing smile with a bit of surprise, since
she'd never realized her feelings for Mulder were that obvious to the
public. She supposed they were, and since Polasky seemed to actually
admire her openness, it didn't bother her one bit.


They sat quietly in his room while Mulder continued to sleep off the
effects of the anesthesia. It had been another hour since he'd been
brought back to his room in ICU, and Scully calculated Mulder should be
coming out of his slumber soon.

He was still on the respirator, but when Scully stopped at the nurses
station to check Mulder's chart, (MaryAnn didn't even blink an eye when
Scully had asked for it) she noted the doctors orders to remove it after
twenty-four hours or sooner if indicated.

Scully knew if Mulder had any control over his breathing what so ever, the
tube would be removed immediately after he woke up. She would try to
convince him to leave it in for the twenty-four hours to help build up his
strength, but she knew Mulder. If he were physically capable, he'd want
it out.

As if on cue, she heard him start to cough. She wasn't sure if it was a
reaction to the respirator tube, the anesthesia, or a combination of both.
Either way, she knew Mulder would be waking up soon, and she wanted to be
nearby to comfort him in any way she could.

The coughing increased until she heard him moan in distress. Scully saw
his eyes were open, and he looked frightened. His communication board and
headlight were nowhere to be found, and he had no real means of
communicating with her.

"Mulder, you're going to be okay. The bullet is out, the cord is fine,
and after the swelling is down, you should be up and around in just a few
weeks," she said quickly to reassure him. "The doctors want you to use
the respirator for another twenty-four hours to give your lungs a chance
to get stronger."

He tried to shake his head 'no' and found he was able to move his head
slightly, but it was painful. He winced his eyes in reaction to the
sudden flood of pain he felt in his neck that permeated to his entire

"Try to lay still. I know you want to be able to do _everything_ all at
once, but it's going to take some time," Scully consoled.

"Mulder, listen to her for a change, okay?" Skinner said next, with a
broad smile. "You sure do know how to make things interesting, you know?
Doctors said you're going to be fine. Just be patient, okay?"

Mulder scanned the room within his range of vision, and finally caught the
gaze of Henry. Mulder practically willed the Filipino man to come to his

"Mulder," Henry began, "I know what you're thinking."

Mulder's eyes twinkled brightly.

"What?" Scully asked.

"What?" Skinner echoed.

"Mulder, I don't know if that would be wise," Henry said. "I think it
would be best for you to wait."

With that, Mulder began a coughing fit that had him literally choking on
his own saliva and the tube that was down his throat.

"Mulder, calm down!" Skinner implored. "Please, let the machine breathe
for you!"

"It's got to come out. Henry, call for one of the nurses, please. He's
not going to stop until the damn thing is out." And then to Mulder she
yelled, "Damn you and your stubbornness! You couldn't leave the damn
thing in for a little longer? It would have killed you to give your lungs
a break?!"

MaryAnn came rushing in with one of the other ICU nurses and stopped
suddenly to listen to Scully berating Mulder. She began to laugh lightly
as she finally walked over in attempt to thwart the tirade. "Somehow, I
have a feeling you've been through this before with this young man,"
MaryAnn said to Scully.

"Oh? How can you tell?" Scully asked griping.

"It sounds too damned well-rehearsed," MaryAnn chuckled.

And with that, Scully allowed herself to smile slightly and MaryAnn and
her colleague instructed Mulder on what they were about to do with the
respirator tube. "Unfortunately, I think you've heard this speech once or
twice before too, haven't you Mr. Mulder?" she asked rhetorically.

Within minutes, the respirator tube was removed and an oxygen mask was put
on its place. "Now, no arguments about this mask, Mr. Mulder. Your lungs
are not acting at full capacity yet, so don't even think about trying to
breath without this. Do you understand?" MaryAnn instructed firmly.

When Mulder indicated his understanding by nodding ever so slightly,
Scully looked at MaryAnn and asked with a genuine smile, "So, do you make
house calls on an as needed basis?"

"For my favorite patients, Dr. Scully? Anytime," she said. As MaryAnn
turned to leave, she said, "Dr. Polasky said I should page him when Mr.
Mulder woke up. He wanted to check him over and see how he was managing
the pain."

MaryAnn paused for a minute, and in an aside to Scully asked earnestly,
"How does he deal with pain?"

"Well, to be truthful, he has a pretty high tolerance. He hates feeling a
lack of control when he's under a pain killer's influence. He'd rather be
in pain then relinquish control," Scully admitted.

"Okay, that's important to know. I suspect Dr. Polasky is going to want
him to be heavily sedated for the next day or so, because he's not going
to want him moving around too much. The wound and infection need time to
heal. The less movement, the faster the healing process," MaryAnn

End of Part 8/9

Disclaimers in Part 1

Part 9/9

When the doctor completed his exam, he did prescribe strong pain killers
in addition to the block of strong antibiotics. He explained to Scully,
Skinner, and Henry pretty much what MaryAnn had indicated. Dr. Polasky
then informed him the nurse would be in with the medication shortly.

Mulder pulled the mask off as soon as the doctor left. "Henry," he
rasped. "Please. Now."

"Mulder, don't ask me to do this. I don't think I can do this."

"I don't want to lay in a hospital bed for the next month, Henry. They're
going to need me to testify against the sonofabitch who tried to kill us.
I need to be strong enough to testify. Please, Henry," Mulder pleaded.

"What the hell are you talking about?" Scully asked incredulously.
"Mulder, let the poor man be. He's been through enough!"

"What?" questioned Mulder.

"He was so worried he did something to harm you. Henry thinks it's his
fault the bullet moved and caused you to be in so much pain," Scully

"What do you mean, 'think?'" Mulder asked hoarsely.

"Well, surely you don't think the bullet moved because Henry touched you,
do you?" Scully asked in exasperation.

"You don't, Scully?" Skinner asked.

"No, of course not. Why? You do?" she asked unbelievingly.

"Well, Scully, the bullet did move," Skinner said tentatively.

"Sir, we also moved Mulder so Henry could touch him. The bullet could
have moved then," she responded.

"Is that likely?" asked Skinner.

"Hardly," Mulder rasped. "Henry, please, there's no foreign object in me
anymore, so there's no need for you to worry about hurting me. Please. I
don't want the drugs and I don't want to stay in the hospital and you have
to get back to the Batchtown children," he pleaded.

"Mulder, I'm not__" he began.

"__Henry, I still believe."

Henry looked into the eyes of his friend, and realized the man truly did
have faith in him. In fact, he seemed to have enough faith for both of

"Very well. Would you help me turn him over again?" he asked.

"For crying out loud, Henry, didn't you hear the doctor said it was
necessary to keep Mulder still to prevent the infection from spreading
internally?" Scully argued.

"Dana," Mulder called out as best he could, "please. Henry really can
help me. Please."

"How could you want to do this, when you were so damned close to dying?"
she asked angrily.

"I'm not dying now, and I want to avoid having to get rid of this
excruciating pain by taking a multitude of drugs. Henry can help me walk
out of this hospital a lot sooner than the drugs. Dana, I really, really
believe Henry can help me. Like he did in moving the bullet away from my

"Mulder, you're scaring me, you know that? What's worse, is I'm scaring
myself, because I'm going along with this craziness. C'mon Walter. Let's
get this over with before MaryAnn comes back in with the medication and
gives it to me to save my sanity," Scully ranted.

Walter and Scully got into position to roll Mulder slightly onto his side
in order to give Henry access to Mulder's back once again. Henry laid his
hands flushed against Mulder's upper back.

Once again, Mulder felt an intense heat, but not the searing pain of a
bullet moving through his body ripping apart vessels and veins. This
time, the heat, though concentrated, felt almost soothing, as if it were
weaving the cells of his body back together again.

Mulder moaned, but not so much in pain, as in relief.

"Are you okay, Fox?" Scully asked.

"Yes. It's okay. It's good," he said into the oxygen mask.

Several minutes passed and when Henry felt the heat dissipate, he removed
his hands and said simply, "It is done."

What none of the occupants of the room had realized was MaryAnn Combs had
entered a few minutes before and witnessed Henry's interaction with

"May I ask exactly _what_ is done?" she asked softly, but startling
everyone in the room anyway.

"MaryAnn! We were just__. I mean, Henry is very knowledgeable in the
practice of ___. Oh shit," Scully said and gave up.

Henry ignored both Scully and MaryAnn for the moment and concentrated on
Mulder. "How do you feel?" he asked.

"I'm not sure," he responded as he removed the oxygen mask. "I think I
feel okay. I mean, I still feel this incredible warmth inside, but it's
not painful. I don't hurt. Oh God!" he realized happily. "It doesn't

When he tried to get up, however, he felt himself to weak to even raise
his head. "Why can't I__?" Mulder began in a panic.

"__Move? Mulder, your body still suffered a terrible trauma. It will
most likely take less time then if I hadn't used my gift, but it will take
some time for you to recover nonetheless," Henry reassured.

"Please. I want to know what just happened," MaryAnn said sincerely.

"I'm not sure, MaryAnn," Scully replied in shock. "I mean, we can't
really know if anything happened until we do some tests, can we?"

"I must get back to Kentucky, my friends. I must leave as soon as
possible," Henry said a little nervously. The last thing he wanted to
happen was to be detained by curiosity seekers in the medical profession.
He had his community to care for back in Batchtown.

"Of course you do," said Mulder, immediately understanding Henry's
dilemma. "Sir?" he addressed Skinner, "Would it be possible to have
someone from the bureau drive Henry to the airport. Soon? Like, now?"

"Now?" Skinner asked, momentarily confused about why the sudden need for
Henry to leave. It was only when he looked over at MaryAnn that Skinner
made the connection. "Oh, of course, now. Yes. Let me make the call,"
and he pulled out his cellular to do just that.

MaryAnn continued to stare at Henry, but she remained silent. When
Skinner said an agent would be there shortly to take Henry to the airport,
Mulder said, "Would you all mind giving me a minute or two alone with

Scully and Skinner nodded their heads in agreement and accompanied a still
inquisitive MaryAnn Combs out of the room.

"But, Dr. Scully, what did he actually do to Mr. Mulder?" she was heard
asking as the two Federal officers ushered her out of Mulder's room.

The two men actually chortled as they watched Scully, of all people, try
to explain Henry's actions. Poor skeptical Scully. She so desperately
did not want to believe, yet she was left with little choice given
Mulder's responses to Henry's touch.

Mulder looked at Henry and though there was so much he wanted to say, he
didn't know quite what to say.

"So," Henry said, breaking the awkward silence, "when you're finished with
the trial and get your strength back, perhaps you'll come back to
Batchtown for a visit. There is much for us to still talk about."

"Henry, I would like that. I would like that very much," Mulder said with

"Yes, besides, I think Mandy was smitten with you," Henry said with a

"I suspect Mandy becomes smitten with any male of the species that walks
through the door," Mulder retorted.

"True, but she makes a helluva tuna salad sandwich," Henry zinged back.

Mulder averted his eyes for a moment, trying to gather the courage to say
what he wanted to say without totally losing it. "I don't know how to
thank you," he began.

"I'm not looking for thanks. If I was able to help, then that's all the
thanks I need. And a promise you'll stay in touch. I see a long
friendship here, Mulder."

"Well, I thank you for that at least," Mulder replied and then did
something which, not twenty-four hours ago, no one believed he'd ever be
able to do again. He moved his right hand slightly toward Henry.

Henry, with great satisfaction, reached out to grasp Mulder's hand into
both of his. "This is all the thanks I could ever need, Mulder."

Skinner knocked on the door to inform Henry the FBI agent who was driving
him to the airport was waiting outside for him. Henry acknowledged him
and told him he'd be out directly.

"I have to go."


Henry then bent down and offered the agent a gentle hug. "Till the coming
of 'soon'."

Mulder laughed and said, "Have a good trip back. Say hi to Adam and
Joshua for me, okay?"

"And Mandy?" Henry asked with a broad grin.

"Oh, definitely Mandy," Mulder replied in kind. "Good-bye, Henry."

Henry Marcos nodded, turned, and left the room.

Mulder let out a sad sigh and closed his eyes. Suddenly, he felt totally
drained of energy and emotion.


Mulder was out of the hospital by the end of the week. The doctors were
astounded by his progress. The infection cleared up miraculously within
days of starting the antibiotics and Mulder's physical therapy saw him
weeks ahead of schedule.

As Scully happily gathered his belongings, Skinner made arrangements to
have Mulder released. No one could remember the last time a patient was
released directly from the ICU. No one thought it was possible.

Yet, Fox Mulder was living proof that it was indeed very possible. Drs.
Polasky and Silvers talked about the possibility of writing up Mulder's
phenomenal recovery up for a well known medical journal. They asked
Mulder if he'd have any objections, to which Mulder simply smiled and told
them to go right ahead.

The thought of Mulder's extraordinary recovery being looked upon in the
same light as his X-Files gave him a moment's pause and he laughed to
himself at the thought of it.

Scully brought the wheelchair around for him.

"I'm perfectly capable of walking out of the hospital," he declared

"Yes, I know you are. But hospital regulations require them to release
you from a wheelchair for insurance purposes," she replied automatically.

"Well, it's ridiculous. We spend all of this time and energy, not to
mention money, to get me well enough to walk out of here, and they make me
ride in this stupid wheelchair."

"Have you ever noticed, G-Man, we have this same conversation every time
you are released from a hospital?" Scully responded with a sigh.

"So what does that tell you?" Mulder asked, as he finally climbed into the

"That you are admitted to the hospitals way, way too often, my love," she
said with a wry smile and dropped his duffel bag onto his lap. Scully
wheeled him out of the room and onto the main floor of the ICU. They were
greeted with many smiles, a smattering of applause, and many wishes of
good luck.

The medical staff marveled as he reached out to shake hands and accept
their kind words and good wishes for a full recovery. They also
encouraged Mulder to stay strong in his role as a witness during the
shooter's trial at the end of the month.

He promised he would, but jokingly added, "Think I could borrow a set of
the barbells from PT just in case?''

Everyone laughed at that and were impressed with Mulder's ability to
maintain his sense of humor and emotional strength about the whole
situation. Though he wasn't anywhere near full strength physically,
Mulder was certainly more fit than _all_ of the doctors or nurses had
thought possible.

All, except one.

MaryAnn Combs knew her patient would recuperate quickly. She had an idea
as to why, she just didn't have a clue as to how. Yet, she realized there
was a reason she wasn't meant to know the answer to that question.
Apparently Henry Marcos had another responsibility, a more pressing

Someone had slipped the tabloid article about the 'psychic surgeon' who
could cure hemophiliac patients in a little hillbilly town called
Batchtown. MaryAnn recognized the face in the grainy picture as
belonging to Henry Marcos.

She held onto that article. MaryAnn had some vacation time coming to her.
Perhaps she could learn a thing or two from Mr. Marcos. So, MaryAnn
Combs remained silent about what she'd seen that day in Mr. Mulder's
hospital room.

You see, she too, believed.

End of Part 9/9

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