Mon, 06 Oct 97

Title: Life Cycles: The Engagement
Author: Susan Proto (
Category: Angst, MSR
Rating: PG13 for some language
Spoilers: Anazazi

Summary: The next step in Mulder and Scully's life cycle is met with some
bumps in the road. Mulder must deal not only with the frustrations of
working back in the ISU, but he must also deal with the possible loss of
his adopted mother and her daughter's less than supportive attitude.

Archive: Yes.

Disclaimer: Mulder and Scully belong to 10/13 productions and Chris
Carter. Since I have learned to play nice in the sandbox, I am only
borrowing them and promise to return them at the end of the story.
Honest. I promise. Believe me. Please, because I couldn't afford to be
sued on my salary.

Introduction: Okay, here's the second in what I guess will now be a
series! It's a stand alone, but it wouldn't hurt to read the first one,
Life Cycles: The Unveiling. Do you want more? Depends a lot upon your
reaction, so react people!! Good, bad, or heaven forbid, indifferent! (I
can take good, I can take bad, but I think I would cry if you were
indifferent!!) Thanks in advance, folks.

Oh, and once again thanks to Vickie Moseley for doing what she does so
well!! Thank you my friend!

Send along any constructive criticism and comments to my e-mail at:

Life Cycles: The Engagement
by Susan Proto (

Part 1/ 8

Annapolis, MD
Dana Scully Residence
Saturday, October 12, 1996
11:45 p.m.

It had been six months since his father's unveiling. Six months for him
to once again acclimate to the idea of being truly fatherless. There were
still moments he felt the intense loss, but as Scully helped him to
understand, it was a grieving for what could have been, and not for what

Thank God for Scully. She had always been a major source of strength and
support, but ever since the unveiling, their relationship had evolved into
so much more.

There was still a newness to them as a couple, still a sense of discovery.
But there was also a level of comfort and security that neither of them
knew was possible.

For the first three months they were very discreet in front of their
family. For Mulder that wasn't difficult, of course, given the little
contact he had with his mother. She never asked about his personal
relationships, and he never offered any information.

Scully was another story. She had always been very close to her mother,
and it was becoming close to impossible to keep it from her. Finally,
Dana told Mulder she couldn't stand the deception any longer, and if she
made her mother promise on a stack of bibles as high as the Sears Towers,
would he please agree to letting her in on their good fortune.

Mulder, of course, didn't want to refuse her anything. He knew how
difficult it was to maintain his distance whenever Maggie Scully was
nearby. Yet, for some reason, he remained hesitant and he wasn't
completely sure why. His uncertainty didn't prevent him from agreeing
with her in disclosing the nature of their newly evolving relationship,
but it continued to gnaw at him.


Three months earlier...

They broke the news to Maggie Scully on the evening Scully invited her and
Mulder to the apartment for dinner. Scully prepared a lovely dinner of
Rock Cornish Hens and wild rice, with a salad of baby greens. Then she
served an elegant desert of pears in wine sauce, followed by her favorite
flavored hazelnut coffee.

It was over the coffee that Scully had actually told her mom.

"Mom, I have. I mean, we have, something to tell you."

Maggie looked at her daughter expectantly, and it was at that moment when
Fox Mulder realized what it was that had made him uncertain about telling
Maggie Scully about their relationship. He was afraid.

He was afraid that this woman, whom he had come to respect and appreciate
almost as much as her daughter, would not approve of their relationship.
He was afraid she would not approve of him for her daughter.

He found himself holding his breath, as he waited for her response. He
didn't know what he would do if she objected. The idea of ending his
relationship was inconceivable, but the thought that Maggie Scully might
not approve of him, might not like him, was an equally unthinkable

It was over the coffee that Maggie Scully beamed back at her daughter and
her beau and said, "I know."

And it was at that moment that Fox Mulder knew he loved Maggie Scully as
if she were his own mother.

Annapolis, MD
Dana Scully Residence
Saturday, October 12, 1996

It was almost midnight, and Scully brought out the hostess cupcake with
the candle lit. She had closed the lights and was singing her Marilyn
Monroe version of Happy Birthday. Mulder was smiling from ear to ear,
though Scully wasn't sure if it was because of her sexy singing or the
anticipation of eating the hostess cupcake that was in her hands.

At the stroke of midnight , Scully told Mulder to make a wish and blow out
the candle. She watched him close his eyes, move his lips ever so
slightly, and then blow.

"Happy birthday, Mulder. So how does it feel to be thirty-five? You
know, that's only five years away from being the big four-O," she said
with a delighted, evil grin on her face.

"Well Scully, just remember, the sooner I hit the bit four-O as you call
it, the sooner you'll be following right behind me," he retorted with an
equally teasing expression on his face.

"Oh no, Mulder, that's where you're all wrong. Women do not ever reach
forty. We start counting backwards from thirty-nine. Hell, eventually
we'll be ready to return to the womb!" she proclaimed with a laugh.

"Now there's an idea. Come here G-Woman. I'd be happy to return to your
womb!" he said. And with that he pulled her into his arms, as a prelude
of making beautiful love to his beautiful partner in both work and life,
on his birthday.


Annapolis, MD
Dana Scully Residence
Sunday, October 13, 1996
7:00 a.m.

Brrriiinnggg, brrriiinnnggg. Brrriiinnnggg, brrriiinnnggg.

Scully reached for the telephone and knocked it over on to the floor. As
she reached over the side of the bed to grab the phone, she felt an arm
slipping around waist. "Mulder," she whispered, "Stop, I don't know
who's on the phone."

She picked up the phone, and in her morning rasp, said "Hello?"

"Good morning, sweetheart. Did I wake you?"

"Oh, hi Mom." She felt Mulder begin kissing her lightly on the shoulder.
She tried to shoot him her famous Scully "Knock it off this instant,
Buster" glare, but his eyes were closed.

"Umm, as a matter of fact I was sleeping in. I had kind of a late night
last night," she said while smiling at her memories of last night's
passion between she and her partner.

"Really? Did you go out?" Maggie asked.

"Umm, no. Umm, Mulder came over here to celebrate his birthday." At the
mention of his name, Mulder began rubbing his hand on Scully's leg,
causing her to breath just ever so slightly faster.

"Oh, but I thought today was Fox's birthday dear." Maggie found herself
pursing her lips in an effort to keep from bursting out loud laughing.

"Oh, well it is, Mom. We just thought since it was the weekend, we could
get a head start on the celebrating, that's all." At that, Mulder picked
up Scully's free hand and began to kiss each finger, one by one. Scully
gasped as each kiss became more sensuous than the last.

"I see," she said. "Well, would you do me a big favor, Dana?"

"Sure, Mom. Anything."

"Oh good. Please tell Fox `Happy Birthday' for me."

"I'll be glad to, Mom," Scully replied.

"I meant __now__ dear."


"Well?" Maggie pressed.

Scully sighed deeply and turned to look at Mulder. "Mulder. Mulder," she
said while shaking his shoulder slightly to get him out of his morning

"Hmm??" He opened his eyes slightly in response.

"My mother says `Happy Birthday'."

"Oh, tell her thanks," and with that his eyes shot wide open. "Scully??!"

Scully nodded her head in acknowledgment that Maggie Scully was indeed
aware that he, Fox Mulder, was not only at her daughter's home, but most
likely in the same bed as said daughter.

"Oh shit," was his whispered reply. He realized that Maggie Scully knew
that his and Dana's relationship was close, but they both knew that Maggie
had what many might have considered an old fashioned viewpoint on
pre-marital sex. Though she never openly judged him and Scully, it was
never their intent to rub her nose in it, so to speak, and be blatant
about their sexual relationship.

He never, ever, wanted to make Maggie Scully feel uncomfortable about the
relationship he and her daughter had. He never, ever, wanted to do
anything that would diminish him in her eyes. Maggie Scully's opinion of
him was just too important to him.

At this point, Maggie decided she had all of the aces in the deck, and
probably a few more that she could pull from under the table.

"So, sweetheart, I was just wondering. Don't you think it's time for you
two to begin thinking about getting married?"

Scully pulled the phone away from ear and looked at it. She turned it
around in her hand once or twice, and then put it back to her ear. "Mom?
What did you say?"

"I said I was just wondering if you two didn't think it was time to
consider getting married."

Mulder watched Scully's face blanch as she listened to the voice from the
ear piece. "What?" he mouthed softly to her.

Scully looked at Mulder and in a voice just one step beyond a monotone,
she repeated her mother's words, " My mother was wondering if we shouldn't
start thinking about getting married."

"Oh." Mulder looked at a very `green' Scully, and couldn't decide if she
were more nauscious at the thought of her mother raising the subject, or
the subject itself. He hoped it was the former. "Well, how about June of
'97," he said as a matter of fact.

Scully gazed back at him with a look of amazement. *He was serious!* she
thought with shock.

"Mulder says how about June, '97," Scully repeated, in a somewhat
stupefied tone of voice.

Maggie smiled at this, and then remarked, "Oh, but don't you think
December is a lovely time to get married?"

Scully looked at the phone again, and then echoed, "Mom thinks December is
a lovely time to get married."

"Well," Mulder said, " yes, December would be cool. Christmas and Hanukah
would make it kind of festive, I guess."

Scully spoke into the phone, her voice becoming more tremulous as the
conversation became more specific, "Mulder says he guesses Christmas and
Hanukah would make it kind of festive."

"Oh, absolutely dear. I could decorate the house and it would look just
lovely for you to be married in."

Scully continued the three way conversation and said, "Mom said she could
decorate the house for us to get married in."

"That's really nice of her," he responded.

"Mom, Mulder says that's really nice of you." Scully could not believe
this conversation was actually occurring. She figured she had to be in an
alternate universe, somewhere, and was just waiting for Scotty to beam her

"Well, it's my pleasure, of course. How does Sunday, December 29th

"Mulder, my mother wants to know how Sunday, December 29th sounds?"

"I guess it sounds fine, doncha think Scully?" he responded.

"Mom, Mulder says the 29th sounds fine," Scully repeated.

"Wonderful! I'll start making a list of everything that needs to be done
and then we get started on the plans. Well, sweetheart, I'll get back to
you tonight or tomorrow, as soon as I have the lists made. Wish Fox a
happy birthday again for me, won't you dear? Bye for now."

And with a most satisfied grin on her face, Maggie Scully hung up the

End of Part 1/8

Part 2/8

Scully hung up the phone, and then stared at Mulder with a look of total
incredulity. "Mulder, what the hell just happened here?!" she practically

"What happened here, my dear, beautiful, brilliant, Agent Scully, M.D. is
that your mother asked us to marry each other. Me thinks we've been
hoodwinked, my dear Scully," he said chuckling at every other word.

"Ya think?" she asked with almost childlike wonder.

"Umm, Scully, I __know__. I just wonder how long your mom had planned
this little conversation."

"Probably as long as she knew you were occupying my bed," she replied.

"Hmm, ya think?" he responded.

"I __know__!" retorted Scully. "Mom may not be one to force her beliefs
down our throats, but if she could let us think it was our own idea to
believe what she believes, well, then. Oh Mulder, I don't know exactly
what she did or how she did it, but I do have one question to ask you."

"Yes." He said it as a statement, not as a question.

"Yes, what? Mulder, I haven't even asked you the question yet."

"I know, but the answer is yes. I do want to marry you, and I do want to
marry you in December, and I do want to marry you in December in your
mom's home. So, yes. Now the question is __," he wanted to continue, but
was cut off by Dana.

"Yes." She said it as a statement, not as a question.

"Yes?" he looked at her hopefully.

"Yes, Mulder. I do want to marry you in December in my mother's house, if
you're sure."

"Dana Katherine Scully, I have never been more sure about anything in my
entire life. I love you, you know." Mulder peered into her expressive
blue eyes, and saw they were beginning to well up with tears.

"And I love you Mulder, with all of my heart. My God, Mulder, you _are_
my heart!" she said emotionally.

And with that, Dana reached up to wipe the tears off of Mulder's cheek and
Mulder did likewise for her.

Washington, DC
Herbert Hoover Building/X-Files Division
Monday, October 14, 1996
7:30 a.m.

Mulder arrived to work in the somewhat sedate paisley tie Scully had
bought him for his birthday. Of course, he was also wearing the less than
sedate fire engine red silk boxers that she had also bought him for his

He had arrived from his apartment. Through a mutual decision, they
decided it would be best if their personal relationship remained separate
from their working relationship. What it basically came down to was they
didn't want anyone from the bureau to know they were seeing each other on
a romantic level.

Neither were sure as to what the ramifications would be if their
relationship were discovered, and neither wanted to take a chance on
finding out. They were subject to too much harassment because of the work
they did. Neither one wanted to open themselves up to any more
aggravation, at least not at this point. Though now that they were
engaged, it was probably going to become more and more difficult to keep
it a secret.

Scully had actually beat him to the basement today. She looked up as he
walked in and smiled her beautiful Scully smile. Mulder realized she must
have had her second cup of coffee already.

"You're here bright and early. What's up?" he asked curiously.

"Well, Mom called me last night, after you'd left, with the beginnings of
her lists. Mulder, you have no idea what there is to do to plan a
wedding. I tried to talk Mom into postponing it to May or June, but she
wouldn't hear of it. She insisted that the holiday season was the perfect
time to get married."

"Why Scully, I didn't know your mom was a masochist."

"Mulder, by the time we're finished with all of this, I suspect you're
going to think she's more of a sadist!" she proclaimed.

Just then the phone rang, and Scully picked it. "Scully," she said into
the phone. "Yes, Mom, I was just about to tell Mulder all about the lists
you made. Yes, Mom, I'll send him your love. Yes, Mom, I will call you
later. Good bye, Mom. Yes, Mom, I love you too."

Scully hung up the phone, shaking her head, yet smiling all the while.
"You realize, Mulder, she is going to drive us crazy. God, I love her,
but if she's this nuts on Day 2 of planning this thing, then what is she
going to be like by the time December 29th rolls around?? And what will
_I_ be like?

"You do realize we're going to have to spend our honeymoon in a mental
institution, because I will need a rubber room by the time this is done!"

"Scully," Mulder said as calmly as he could muster, "it's obvious your mom
is getting great a great deal of joy out of planning all of this, so don't
you worry so much. Let her run with this.

"You love her and she loves you. I think you can trust her to plan the
perfect wedding for us, so let her have the pleasure!" he concluded.

"Oh that's easy for you to say! She's not _your_ mother!"

Scully turned around at that and didn't notice that Mulder flinched at her
words. For some reason, though they were true, he felt as though he were
slapped in the face. Maybe it was because he considered Maggie Scully
more of a mother to him than he had ever considered his own mother.

Ever since Dana's abduction all those many months ago, Mulder felt drawn
to Maggie Scully. She was open and honest with him and he behaved the
same way with her.

He trusted her with his feelings, which was a gift he gave to very few

Scully knew very little about the time he had spent with her mom while she
was missing, and then later, while she was recovering in the hospital.

He wanted to say something to her about how he felt about Maggie, but for
some reason he felt uneasy about it. Perhaps it was a sense that he
didn't want to intrude upon the special mother-daughter bond they had, and
especially the one they were now experiencing during the planning of their

The wedding. He hadn't even let his own mother know that he was getting
married. Well, she probably wouldn't consider it official until he gave
Scully a ring first, anyway.

A ring! He needed to get Scully an engagement ring, but he wasn't even
sure what she would like. He knew who would know, and planned to call
Mrs. Scully as soon as he could sneak away.

Brrriiinnnggg! Brrriiinnnggg!

Mulder picked up. "Mulder."

Scully watched him as his body stiffened. *It's AD Skinner,* she thought.
*He is the only person that could cause Mulder to become this tense this

"Yes, Sir. Yes, Sir. Yes, Sir. We'll be right up Sir." Mulder hung up
the phone and looked at Scully. "That was the AD."

"No, really?" she responded with just a hint of sarcasm.

"Hmm?? Well, anyway, he wants us up in his office. He has a new case for

"An X-File?" she asked.

"I don't know. I do know that ISU is requesting our help on it."

"Oh joy," Scully replied. "Did Skinner give you any indication as to what
it's all about?"

"Abductions and murder," was all he said.

"Oh shit," was all she said.


Washington, DC
Herbert Hoover Building/Office of AD Walter S. Skinner
Monday, October 14, 1996
9:30 a.m.

Upon hearing the knock at the door, he said in a clear voice, "Come in."
He looked up from his desk and observed the two agents entering his

Assistant Director Walter Skinner was a man who immersed himself in his
work. His marriage was not working because of this very reason, but
though his home life was hanging in the balance, Walter Skinner was very
much aware of the needs of those people involved in his professional life.

He made it his business to be aware of the special nature of the
professional relationship between the two agents that entered his office.
They relied upon each other totally, and trusted each other implicitly.
That, and their remarkable intelligence, were responsible for them having
the highest solve rate in his division.
And it was for their incredible solve rate that made him insist that ISU
request Agent Mulder's assistance on this latest serial murder case.

"Sit," Skinner instructed.

"Thank you, Sir," Scully murmured.

Both agents took their seemingly assigned seats. Neither ever attempted
to take the other's seat. Some habits were too ingrained to break.

"ISU has requested your assistance Agent Mulder. There have been three
incidents of female abductions and murders, and the fear is there will be
more. ISU hasn't been able to see any kind of a pattern, but feel they
are definitely related. They thought you might be of some assistance in
determining such a pattern," explained Skinner.

"Is there anything to indicate that this might be an X-file, Sir?"
inquired Mulder.

"No, Agent Mulder, there is not ," Skinner replied.

"Well, then with all due respect, Sir, why are we being called into this
case. ISU has a number of qualified agents in their division to handle
such cases," responded Mulder.

"Qualified, yes," Skinner began, "but none as astute or successful as you
are in creating profiles of the possible perps."

Mulder felt himself actually begin to blush. This was the first time he
had heard his AD actually say something positive about him to his face.
Mulder looked away in embarrassment. He found it difficult to accept

Scully noted her partner's uneasiness. She was well aware of his
difficulty in accepting complements and commendations when it came to his
work. He was so used to the negative comments, the denouncements, and the
chastisements due to his unorthodox methods of profiling assailants, that
it was a rare occurrence indeed when someone actually recognized Mulder
and his gifts.

"Sir, when do they want us?" Scully asked.

"Actually, Agent Scully, I have another assignment for you while Agent
Mulder is on loan to ISU," Skinner stated.

"What?" Mulder gasped. "Sir, no disrespect intended, but what the hell is
going on here?"

Skinner would normally have slapped an agent of his with a reprimand for
his file, and a threat of suspension for that kind of attitude. But this
was Agent Mulder.

"Mulder, don't get all bent out of shape. ISU specifically requested you.
They are not in need of Agent Scully's forensic skills at this time. So,
while you are working with ISU, Agent Scully will work out of Quantico as
well, aiding the forensic staff there. If at any time her area of
expertise is needed on the case you will be working on, then she shall be
available to join you immediately."

"Thank you, Sir, for the clarification," Scully said hastily, in an
attempt to keep Mulder from opening his mouth and putting his size 12 foot
into it.

Skinner acknowledged Scully's intervention gratefully. "Agent Mulder, you
are expected at ISU for a briefing at 3:00 this afternoon. Agent Scully,
you will report to Quantico tomorrow morning at 9:00 a.m. That will be
all. You're dismissed."

The agents both rose at the same time and moved in synchrony towards the
door. Mulder was about to turn around and say something to the AD when
Scully lightly touched him on the arm. That slight motion of nonverbal
communication did not go unnoticed by Skinner.

He hated to separate them, even temporarily, but he was left with no other
choice. The budget just did not allow for sending the pair to ISU when it
was unnecessary, and Scully's skills really could be put to better use in
the forensics department for the week or so it would take for Mulder to
wrap up this case. And Skinner was quite sure he would be able to do just

Though he tried to let his agents know how pleased he was with their work,
he wondered if he didn't say it often enough. It was always his
professional opinion that it was better to maintain a certain amount of
distance from his agents, a professional detachment. Skinner felt it gave
him a better perspective on how to deal with them.

Yet, when he saw how well Scully and Mulder knew each other, and
communicated with one another, he wondered if he were somehow cheating
them out of an important part of their professional relationship by not
being more open with them.

More importantly, he wondered if he were cheating himself.


Washington, DC
Herbert Hoover Building/X-Files Division
Monday, October 14, 1996
10:15 a.m.

"Damn it, Scully! Do you think he knows?" Mulder asked more anxiously
than angrily.

"Knows what, Mulder?"

"About us. Do you think he knows that your mother asked us to marry each
other yesterday?" Even Mulder cracked a smile at this thought.

Scully, on the other hand, began chuckling out loud. "Oh Mulder, unless
my phone was tapped, __and it wasn't, Mulder__, then there is no way he
could possibly know about us becoming engaged!__" she practically shouted,
but then suddenly became absolutely silent. In fact she was so quiet, it
startled Mulder.

"Scully? What's wrong? Are you okay?" he asked worriedly.

"Mulder, did you hear what I said?" When he looked at her quizzically,
she continued. "Mulder, are we really engaged? I mean, we _are_ really
engaged, aren't we?"

Mulder moved towards her and quickly enveloped her in his arms. "Oh God,
Scully, yes. We are really engaged, and we are really going to get
married, and no one, I mean __no__ __one__ will stand in our way. I love
you Dana Katherine Scully."

Scully smiled to herself when she heard his declaration of love. It was
one of the few times he would allow himself to say her first name. It had
to be in conjunction with her middle and sir name. For some reason, he
still didn't trust himself to call her by her given name, Dana. But then
again, she used the very same method in addressing him by his given name.

"Fox William Mulder, I love you too." And though it was against their
personal policy, if not actual department policy, they shared an
intimate, loving kiss, right there in the middle of their basement office.

End of Part 2/8

Part 3/8
Quantico, VA
Quantico Facility/ISU
Monday, October 14, 1996
5:25 p.m.

He had been listening to the team's synopsis of the case for the last hour
and a half. Unfortunately, they didn't get the preliminary "Welcome back
to the team" speech over with until almost 3:45.

Of course, the welcoming was tempered with a number of reminders that
_they_ were still the primary investigators on this case, and that _he_
was merely a consultant that was brought in at the insistence of the AD.

So, he wasn't really wanted here. *So what else was new?* Mulder thought
soberly to himself. *That's okay, I don't really want to be here myself.*

"Agent Mulder? Agent Mulder!" Mulder snapped out of his self-pitying
thoughts and looked at the Agent in Charge. "What are your thoughts on
the case?"

Mulder looked at the men sitting around the table with amazement. Not two
hours ago, they basically told him that his services were being shoved
down their throat.

Yet now, after listening to a less than detailed summary of the case, and
with barely enough time to give even a cursory look at the crime scene
photos, they were basically asking him to solve the case right then and

"Gentlemen, I would like to withhold my own thoughts until I have a better
handle on the case. I thank you for the summary, Agent Matthews, but in
order to do this case justice, I really need some time to review the case
file on my own. So, if you don't mind, I'm going to do just that."

Mulder gathered up the files and their contents and tamped each of them
neatly into place on the table. He then placed all of them in his
briefcase, grabbed his suit jacket, and turned to face his rather
dumbfounded audience. "I'll see you back here at 8:00 a.m. sharp. Good
evening, gentleman."


Annapolis, MD
Dana Scully Residence
Monday, October 14, 1996
7:00 p.m.

She opened the front door to the smell of Orange Beef, Moo Shu Chicken and
Vegetable Fried Rice. "I knew there was a reason why I fell in love with
you G-Man," she called out as she hung up her trench coat.

"I love you too," he called back. "I'm just nuking it now."

He watched her as she walked into the kitchen. "I saw your car from the
window. That's how I knew to warm up dinner," he said.

She came right up to him and gave him a warm, sensuous kiss. When at last
he came up for air, Mulder leered and said huskily, "We could save dinner
for dessert, you know."

Scully laughed easily and retorted, "Not on your life, G-Man. I'm
starving, and that just smells too good. But dessert you will have, I
promise." And with that Scully turned, and called out to him that she was
changing into her "eating" clothes.

Mulder chuckled at that. He knew Scully hated the thought of ruining
perfectly good clothing because of grease stains. So, she automatically
changed into her "eating" clothes, or, roughly translated, the wash and
wear tees that can be thrown into the washing machine at a moment's

When she reappeared, all decked out in her gray soft tee shirt and well
worn, denim jeans, she asked how the meeting went at ISU.

"Okay," was his succinct reply.

"Okay? All right, Mulder, spill it. What happened?" she asked

He wondered how she was able to do that. He wondered how was it that she
knew him better than he knew himself at times?

"Apparently AD Skinner twisted the truth a little. It was at his request
that the ISU borrow my services to solve this case. They never wanted me
involved and spent the first forty-five minutes of our little meeting
telling me so.

"They then went on to recite a rather half-assed summary of the three
cases they had to go on and then, after an hour and a half, asked me to
share my thoughts.

"In other words, it was `Okay Wonderboy, solve the case for us now, or get
the hell out of here.' At that point, I chose to get the hell out of
there, with the files in my hands of course.

"Scully, you should have seen their faces. Their jaws were on the ground.
It was great." His smile, however, was one of resignation rather than

Scully recognized the difference and tried to offer him a little comfort.
"Mulder, don't let those guys get to you. You know, Skinner paid you a
helluva compliment by insisting you take on the case. He's obviously well
aware of your capabilities. You should be very pleased with that."

"Yeah, well, I guess. But when he loans me out, Scully, all it does is
take me away from the X-files." He looked up at her and then said,
quietly, "And it takes me away from you."

"Well, we're together right now, and I am starving. C'mon, let's eat and
you can bend my ear a little about this case."

They sat for the next couple of hours sharing the Chinese food, their
ideas on the case, and their affection for one another. It was going on
9:30 when the phone rang.

"Hello," said Scully.

"Hello, Dana."


"Yes, dear. It's me."

Scully could hardly recognize her voice. It was raspy and hoarse. She
sounded very congested and she could hear a slight wheeze over the phone.

"Mom, what's wrong?" she asked worriedly. At the worried tone of her
voice, Mulder looked up with a concerned expression as well.

Maggie went on to explain that she seemed to have a caught a touch of the
flu that was going around, and didn't want her daughter to worry about her
if she didn't call back tomorrow regarding the wedding plans. She planned
to have a cup of hot tea and then go straight to bed.

Scully told her she would definitely call and check up on her, and if her
schedule permitted it, she would stop by on her way home from work.
Scully went on to explain that she was working up at Quantico for the
next week or so, and Mulder would also be there while working with the

"Dana, didn't you tell me Fox hated working in that division?"

"Yes, Mom. I did, but he was ordered to work there for the next few days.
There's someone abducting and murdering young women, Mom, and the feeling
is that Mulder's one of the few people capable of figuring out who this
guy is," she explained.

"Well, just watch out for him sweetheart. You know how Fox tends to wrap
himself up in his work too much, and then it makes him sick. We can't let
him make himself sick."

"Mom, don't you worry about Mulder. Worry about yourself for a change,
please? Go drink your tea, and then right into bed."

"Yes, Mother Hen." And with that Maggie Scully went into a prolonged
coughing fit.

"Mom, Mom? Are you all right?" Scully heard her mother's wheezing and
was becoming more anxious. "Mom, maybe I should come over there tonight?
What do you say?"

"Dana Katherine, don't be ridiculous. I have the flu, that's all. I'm
going to finish my tea and then go to sleep. Let's not make more of this
than necessary. Good night, dear. I love you and send Fox my love too."

"Good night, Mom. Love you too, and please call me if you need anything.
I mean anything, okay?"

Dana hung up the phone, but the worry was etched all over her face.
Mulder asked her if she wanted to drive over to her mom's now.

"Actually I would love to Mulder, but I think she would kill me. I'll
call her while I'm at work and then I'll stop by on my way home tomorrow.
I'm sure it's just a nasty case of the flu," she concluded, but with a
lot less confidence than she wished.

By 11:00, Mulder had helped Scully clean up the dishes and put the
left-overs away. They even managed to have a little "dessert." He
gathered up his files and kissed her good bye at the door.

"I'll speak to you tomorrow, okay? I love you, Scully."

"I love you too, Mulder. Are you sure you don't want to drive out to
Quantico together?" she asked.

"I really think it would be better to take separate cars. You know I tend
to work nutsy hours when I do a profile, and we should both have a car
available in case Mom needs us," he replied.

Scully chuckled. "__Mom,__ Mulder? We're not married yet! I love you!
Maybe we could meet for lunch or something, `kay?"

Scully saw him wince slightly just as she was getting ready to kiss him
once more.

"What's wrong, Mulder?"

"Nothing, Scully. I'm fine, really." He gave her another quick peck on
the cheek , and with that Scully locked the door after him.

End of Part 3/8

Part 4/8

Quantico, VA
Tuesday, October 15, 1996
7:50 a.m.

Fox Mulder had been pacing about the conference room for the past hour and
a half. By the time he got home last night from Scully's apartment, he
was way too hyped up to get any real decent sleep.

By 1:30 in the morning he had spread out all of the pertinent papers on
his coffee table, and when he had run out of room on that he had spread
them out on his couch, and then he had begun using the floor.

He finally had some pieces to the puzzle put together in his mind by
around 4:00 a.m. He had realized trying to get some sleep at that point
would have been ludicrous, so he had decided to shower, change and then
treat himself to a real diner breakfast.

All of that took him till 6:30 a.m. so he found himself setting up the
contents of the files in the conference room in preparation for the 8:00
meeting. He realized he didn't have the case solved, but he did have some
solid evidence that would enable him to write up a promising profile of
their UNSUB.

"Why look who's here already! Doesn't Spooky ever sleep?" inquired Agent

Agents Bob Arnold and Andres Rodriguez followed Larry Jackson and
snickered at his remark. Agent Riichi Obayashi and the Agent in Charge,
Jon Matthews, followed shortly after with a mug full of coffee from the
local donut shop.

"What's all this?" Matthews asked.

"Spooky's been playing with the evidence again, Jon," Bob Arnold replied.

"Yeah," agreed Larry Jackson. "Spooky's probably been here since daybreak
screwing around with the evidence to make it fit his latest screwball

Mulder was seething at this point inwardly, but none of the other agents
would ever see his true feelings. He would never give them the
satisfaction. It did, however, take a great deal of self control and
energy to maintain his outward appearance of calm.

"All right," interrupted Agent Matthews, "enough of the Spooky jokes for
now, okay? Let's try to get some work accomplished here." Then turning
to Mulder he said, "Okay Agent Mulder, you've had some time to look over
the files, as you requested. Do you have anything to contribute?"

"Yes, Agent Matthews," he replied, maintaining the formal air of decorum.,
"I believe I do." Mulder went on to describe the imperceptible clues that
led him to believe the UNSUB had a definite MO.

The agents gathered around the pictures that Mulder had blown up which
showed the minute details on each of the victim's hands and feet to which
Mulder referred. A couple of the men drew in breaths and muttered, "How
the hell did he see that?"

Jon Matthews, as the Agent in Charge, looked at Fox Mulder with surprise.
He hadn't expected Mulder to come up with anything new, regardless of his
reputation. His men had been working on these cases for the last six
weeks, and Spooky Mulder comes in after one day and comes up with a major
break in the case. *Damn, the guy really is spooky,* he thought.

"So Mulder, ya got any idea as to who this guy is?" Riichi Obayashi asked.

"If you're asking me if I've written a profile on the perp yet, the answer
is no. I plan on working one up today. I should have it ready for
tomorrow's 8:00 meeting. I would like to use the conference room as a my
office, if you don't mind.

"I would rather not have to move the case files again, and this way you
can come in, find the notes more easily, and refer to them on an as needed
basis. If that's okay with you, Agent Matthews?" Mulder asked.

Matthews was impressed. Spooky was learning. He asked this time rather
than demanded. "Sure, Mulder. It makes sense. Do you need a lap top in

"Thanks, but I brought my own." Actually, he brought Scully's, as she
wouldn't be needing it while she was at Quantico too, and she graciously
loaned it to him. Besides, it had the pinball game on it that he loved to
play when he needed a break.

The men filed out and left Mulder to his lap top. *Hmmm, maybe just one
quick round of pinball,* he thought to himself with a smile.

Quantico, VA
Quantico/Forensics Department
October 15, 1996
3:30 p.m.

Scully couldn't believe that time had escaped her. She had promised
herself that she would check in with her mom in the morning, and here it
was 3:30 in the afternoon! *Some daughter, I am,* she berated herself.

She dialed her mom's number and heard it ring. By the seventh ring, she
was getting nervous, when finally, on the beginning of the ninth ring, she
heard it being picked up.

"Hello?" said a small and very raspy voice.

"Mom? It's me, Dana. How ya doing?"

"Well, I won't lie. I've felt better in my life," replied Maggie Scully
with difficulty.

"Oh Mom, you sound awful! Have you called your physician yet?"

"Yes," she wheezed slightly in her answers. "He said it was probably just
the flu, and to drink plenty of fluids and take aspirin, or whatever
substitute I prefer."

"He didn't want you to go in for an examination?" Dana inquired, somewhat
annoyed. "I mean, Mom, you're wheezing, and it sounds like there's
congestion in your chest."

"Oh, that's nothing dear. I just have a very nasty flu bug..__ <<Cough!
Cough! Cough!>>

"Mom? Mom, are you okay?" asked Dana anxiously.

"I'll be okay in a minute," Maggie replied panting.

"Mom, I'm out of here. I'll be by your place in about ninety minutes,

Dana finished up the very last piece of paperwork she had been working on,
and then left the Quantico Facility by 4:00. She thought about calling
Mulder, but decided she wanted to see what her mom's condition was before
she spoke to him.


Quantico, VA
Tuesday, October 15, 1996
4:30 p.m.

Agent Obayashi stuck his head in the conference room. "Hey Mulder, I'm
going out for some decent coffee. You want anything?"

Mulder realized he had been in this room without a break for the last ten
hours, and therefore had not had anything resembling nourishment for that
same amount of time. He should have been hungry, but as was usually the
case when he was working up a profile, the thought of eating turned his

A decent cup of coffee on the other hand was another story. "Thanks
Riichi, coffee would be great. Black with three sugars, okay? The
largest one they have."

Riichi Obayashi stared at the agent in front of him. Most of his
co-workers didn't even _know_ his first name, much less be able to
pronounce it with any kind of accuracy. Mulder not only knew it, but he
pronounced it perfectly. "No problem," he replied and waved off the
dollar bills that Mulder was offering. "My treat, Mulder."

Mulder was getting close. He felt that he was getting a good handle on
the UNSUB, and thought he would definitely be finished with the profile
sometime tonight. As he delved more deeply into the mind of this monster,
he realized they had less and less time before he attacked again.

The perp had a definite need to strike again, and strike again soon.
Mulder was sure of that.

Obayashi returned with Mulder's grande` coffee, and left him to finish the
profile. Before he closed the door, Riichi Obayashi observed Agent
Mulder at work.

He was deep in concentration, and he could see he was totally focused on
the job before him. He had hardly even acknowledged his presence as he
set the coffee cup down on the table.

As Obayshi closed the door to the conference room, he figured it would
take a bomb to go off to get Agent Mulder's attention.

Quantico, VA
Tuesday, October 15, 1996
9:45 p.m.


Mulder's head jerked up at the third ring. He realized it was his cell
phone, and got up to retrieve it from his suit jacket's pocket.

After flipping it open, he answered, "Mulder."

"Mulder, it's me."

"Hi Scully. Where are you?"

"I'm at the hospital."

"Scully?! What's wrong? Are you hurt? Scul-__." Mulder couldn't get the
words out fast enough before he was interrupted.

"Mulder, it's not me. I'm fine, Mulder, really. It's my mother. I
brought her in a few hours ago, and we've just now finally gotten her into
a room. I love dealing with the emergency room," she said in a tired,
sarcastic tone.

Mulder was still trying to gather his wits about him. *Her mother.
Maggie Scully?* he thought. His mind was reeling. *If anything happened
to her __,* he wouldn't allow himself to continue the train of thought.

"Scully, what's wrong?" he asked nervously.

"The doctors say it's pneumonia, but it's not the usual strain. It's not
viral, and not the common bacterial form. It's called microplasma
pneumonia, and it's something in between the two."

"That doesn't sound too good, Scully." He heard her sigh deeply.

"It's not, Mulder. She's really had the shit knocked out of her. It came
on so quickly and so strong. Mulder?" she hesitated.

"What, Scully?" he responded.

"I need you here. Could you come down to the hospital. We're at
Baltimore City Memorial Hospital. Now, please?"

"Let me just gather up a couple of papers here, and I'm on my way."

End of Part 4/8

Part 5/8

Baltimore, MD
Baltimore City Memorial Hospital
Wednesday, October 16, 1996
12:20 a.m.

Mulder walked as quickly as he could without breaking into an out and out
run. He saw her standing outside of the room speaking with one of the

Scully looked up and saw him, finally. She also noted that he held his
briefcase in his hand as well. She nodded towards him, and then resumed
speaking with the doctor.

"Dr. Scully, as you well know, we have to be somewhat cautious as your
mother has reacted adversely to some of the antibiotics," the doctor

"Hi," Mulder said breathlessly as he interrupted the doctor's report.
"What's the latest?"

Scully eyed him coldly. She had spoken with him over two and a half hours
ago, and couldn't imagine what was keeping him. This was _her_ mother,
for crying out loud, and she needed him there for her. When she saw his
briefcase in hand, she realized what had kept him.

"My mother's had an allergic reaction to the antibiotics. They have to
desensitize her to them so they can treat her. Unfortunately, that takes
time, and we're not too sure how much time she has." Scully had gone into
Medical Mode, and spoke with the detached air of a clinician.

Mulder felt the air around him turn cold. *_My_ mother,* he thought to
himself. Not "Mom's had an allergic reaction, but _my_ mother's had an
allergic reaction. She's retaining `ownership' of Maggie Scully and
locking me out completely.* Mulder shuddered at the thought.

Scully was angry, but Mulder wasn't sure why. He realized she was upset
because of Maggie's illness, but there was something else that was
disturbing her, and she was aiming her anger directly at him.

"So, how do they go about desensitizing her?" Mulder asked cautiously.

"Well," the doctor began, "we basically inoculate her with small doses of
the antibiotic on a continuous basis till she's receiving a full dose
with no adverse side effects."

"You can do that without harming her?" Mulder asked anxiously.

"Yes, Mulder, they can do that." Scully had her arms crossed. Her body
language screamed loud and clear for Mulder to keep his distance.

"We'll begin the treatments in about ten minutes, Dr. Scully. I'll be
back then." They both watched the doctor walk over to the nurse's


"What, Mulder? What?!"

"Scully, what's wrong? Why are you so angry with me?" he pleaded.

"Mulder, I've only been wondering where the hell you've been for the last
two and a half hours. The drive to the hospital from Quantico is ninety
minutes tops. I know, because I did it this afternoon. It's been over
two hours and a half hours since I'd spoken to you," she replied angrily.
Mulder was about to respond, when she continued her blasting.

"Then I see you practically running down the hallway as if you were the
white knight to the rescue, and what do I see in your hands? Your God
damned briefcase, that's what! Mulder, I need you here for _me_ because
_my_ mother is seriously ill. If you can't be here for me, then just go."

Mulder visibly flinched at her words. Her accusatory attitude was
slashing him more viciously than any blade could. "Scully, I needed to
bring some of the material with me so I could finish the profile tonight.
This way I could hand it in tomorrow, and let ISU take over tomorrow."

Scully closed her eyes. She was having none of it. For some reason she
refused to consider the importance and necessity for him to finish the

"Scully, this guy's going to hit again. Soon. I can feel it. Please
don't do this," he begged.

"Go finish your profile," she said dully.

"May I at least go in to see__?" Mulder began, but Scully cut him off.

"Only the immediate family is allowed in, Mulder." And with that she
turned around and walked back into her mother's room.


Baltimore, MD
Baltimore City Memorial Hospital
Wednesday, October 16, 1997
3:45 a.m.

Mulder remained in the cafeteria, pouring over the profile. He had left
word at the nurse's station that he would be in there, and he wanted to be
notified if there were any changes in Maggie Scully's condition. He also
wanted Dr. Scully to be made aware that he was nearby in case she needed

He was just about finished with the profile. He was reviewing it in his
mind over and over and over again. There was something he was missing,
and it was gnawing at him that he couldn't figure it out.

Mulder took a sip of the cold coffee. He certainly wished Riichi Obayashi
was here now to get him a decent cup of coffee.

He also wished he could get through to Scully. He was surprised at her
reaction, but more so, he felt devastated by her harsh tone. He had
always assumed she realized how much he cared for her mother. Obviously,
she wasn't as aware as he had thought, and that hurt. A lot.

Scully had watched him go through the grieving process over these last six
months over his father's death. He wasn't much of a help to Scully when
her sister, Melissa, died last year, and he didn't know if he was strong
enough to help Scully go through the process if Maggie didn't make it. He
didn't know if __he__ , himself, could go through it again, especially
for someone he actually loved.


Baltimore, MD
Baltimore City Memorial Hospital
Maggie Scully's Hospital Room # 576
Wednesday, October 16, 1996

6:40 a.m.

Scully woke with a start. She looked over toward her mother's bed and saw
all of the monitors were beeping and blipping appropriately. She removed
the blanket from her body that a kind nurse had laid over her during the
night and rose out of the rather uncomfortable chair she had managed to
fall asleep in.

Scully saw her mom was sleeping soundly, so she decided to go get a cup of
coffee from the cafeteria. She also hoped she would see Mulder there.

She realized, after some sleep, that she probably reacted too harshly to
his late appearance, and perhaps was even a little unreasonable when it
came to his needing to bring some work with him. She chalked it off to
being scared to death about her mother's condition, and she assumed Mulder
would understand.

When she walked into the cafeteria she was disappointed, as there was no
sign of him.

Quantico, VA
Wednesday, October 16, 1996
7:45 a.m.

Mulder had left Baltimore around 5:30 a.m., since he knew he had to be
back for the 8:00 conference meeting. He figured the overnight
construction that he had run into last night would not be picked up for
the morning rush before 6:00, and that would be cutting it too close. As
it was, he had just enough time to grab a lousy cup of coffee before the
meeting began.

Riichi Obayashi arrived in the conference room holding two grande`
coffees. One had milk and no sugar, while the other was black with three

He walked over to where Mulder was sitting, looking over his notes again,
and silently handed the cup to him.
Mulder looked up from his chair and met Obayashi's gaze. Mulder murmured
his thanks and gave him, albeit a tired one, a genuine smile.

"Nothing personal Mulder, but you look like shit. Didn't you get any
sleep last night?" Obayashi asked.

"Actually, no. My partner's mother was admitted to Baltimore City
Memorial Hospital last night, so I drove up there. Hit all sorts of
construction on I-95, which kind of held me up. I didn't pull into the
hospital parking lot until well after midnight.

"Then I worked on the profile for a few hours, and then left Baltimore
around 5:30 to make sure I was back here on time for the 8:00 meeting," he

"Man! Your partner and her mom must really mean a lot to you for you to be
willing to drive a couple of hours to visit her after visiting hours,"
Obayashi reflected.

Mulder looked at him and wondered if the agent was showing honest empathy
or just being trying a tactic to wheedle information about his personal
life. After a moment, Mulder realized he was just being his usual
paranoid self, and knew Obayashi was merely expressing his concern .

"They do," was all Mulder had a chance to say when Agent Rodriguez

"Good, you're here Mulder. We just got a call. There's another body and
this one's been found in Avon Forest, Virginia. Ready to make a house
call?" he asked.

Both agents grabbed their coffee cups and coats. Mulder hesitated for a
moment and was tempted to call Scully at the hospital to let her know
where he would be. But then he realized she had his cell number, and if
she needed him, really needed him, she could contact him through that
number. He rechecked the phone and made sure the battery pack was fresh,
and then walked out the door.


On route to Avon Forest, VA
Wednesday, October 16, 1996
8:25 a.m.

Mulder was relieved when Obayashi offered to drive to the site. It was
another thirty-five mile ride, in the middle of rush hour to Avon Forest,
Virginia, and with all of the driving he had done in the past twenty-four
hours, he was just as happy to leave it to someone else. He hoped he
might even grab a half hour nap on the way.

Unfortunately, Agent Jackson, as well as Agent Arnold, who both hitched a
ride with them, had other ideas. "Well, Spooky, it looks like you didn't
work your miracles for this victim, now did you?" Jackson said in a
mocking tone.

"No, I couldn't help this victim," replied Mulder, quietly, but with

"Yeah, well, I guess you're not the hot shot everyone kept saying you
were, are you Spooky? Just a mere mortal, like the rest of us peons who
have been working our asses off on this case for the last six weeks. What
a shmuck!" Jackson announced to no one in particular.

"Yeah," concurred Arnold. "What a shmuck."

Mulder sat there quietly seething, but he didn't have the energy to
explain two the two imbeciles that with their perp's MO, today's victim
was already dead by the time Mulder was brought into the case.

He hoped that by viewing the site, he'd gain some clues as to how to avoid
a next victim. The UNSUB's pattern had Mulder believe that he wouldn't go
after a new victim until at least three to four days after the last victim
was autopsied. According to Mulder's profile, the perp got some real
thrills knowing the Medical Examiner was "admiring" his handiwork.

Obayashi watched Mulder in his rear view mirror. He saw the other agents
cutting remarks irritated Mulder, yet Mulder didn't respond back to them.
Obayashi knew the timeline very well on this case and the MO of the perp.
He was well aware that Mulder didn't even know about the case when this
woman was killed, so how couldn't possibly have come to her rescue.

Arnold continued his relentless teasing. "What's the matter, Mulder?
Poor baby didn't get his beauty sleep last night?"

"Arnold," Obayashi interrupted, "knock it off. The man did some serious
drive time last night between Quantico and Baltimore. Let him catch a few

"Oh?" responded Jackson. "And what little sweetie do you have living in
Baltimore? Hmmmm, does Mrs. Spooky know about her, Mulder?"

"C'mon you guys. Knock it off. Mulder had to___," Obayashi wanted to
explain, but Mulder cut him off.

"___take care of some personal business. That's all you need to concern
yourselves with. Now if you don't mind, we should be arriving at our
destination in about twenty minutes. I would really like to take a quick
nap before we get there, so would you kindly shut the fuck up," he
requested in a most civil tone.

Mulder closed his eyes and was lightly snoring shortly thereafter.

End of Part 5/8

Part 6/8

Baltimore, MD
Baltimore City Memorial Hospital
Maggie Scully's hospital room
Wednesday, October 16, 1996
9:15 a.m.

Maggie stirred and finally opened her eyes. She was having difficulty
focusing her eyes when she realized something was in her field of vision.
It was annoying the hell out of her. She moved her hand up to her face
in an attempt to move it of her way when she felt someone grab her hand.

"No you don't, Mom. You need that mask to help you breath and put less
stress on your lungs."

"What's going on? Where am I, Dana?" she asked, her already hoarse voice
was muffled even more by the oxygen mask.

"Oh Mom, don't you remember? I got to your place and found you on the
floor of your bedroom. You scared the living daylights out of me. I
called for an ambulance and you're in your room in Baltimore City Memorial
Hospital. You have pneumonia, Mom."

When Maggie tried to speak, Scully discouraged her, and then continued.

"Only you don't have just ordinary viral or bacterial pneumonia. No, you
have microplasma pneumonia, which is basically an intermediary between the
viral and the bacteria pneumonia.

"You've made it even more interesting by having a severe allergic reaction
to the antibiotic the doctors treated you with. Needless to say, the
doctors and nurses were in here every twenty minutes last night checking
on you to make sure you wouldn't have another reaction while they were
desensitizing you."

Maggie looked at her daughter in a state of confusion. She hadn't been
aware of any of this, and worried that she might be very seriously ill.
She did try to speak and when Dana tried to stop her, Maggie let it be
known that she wanted to be heard.

Maggie moved the oxygen mask away from her mouth just long enough to ask
if she was going to be okay.

Dana told her the doctors were pleased with the blood work results and
seemed to think with time, she would make a full recovery.

Maggie sighed in relief at hearing this, and then asked one more question.
"Where's Fox?"

Scully wasn't sure what to say. This morning she was already to forgive
his indiscretions, but now it was almost 9:30 and the man didn't even have
the decency to call and find out how her mom was doing.

"He had to go back to work, Mom. He finally got here late last night and
he left very early this morning, before I could even speak to him."

Maggie noted a slight tinge of tension as she spoke about Fox. She lifted
her mask up again and asked, "You two okay?"

Scully couldn't believe her mother could sense she was angry with Mulder.
*How does she do that? Maternal Radar, I guess. Maybe it should be an

"We're okay, Mom, or rather we'll be okay. I was a little annoyed with
Mulder last night, and kind of let him know it. But I'm sure by now he's
probably forgotten about it already. It was nothing, really," she said,
though she wasn't sure who she was trying to convince more, her mom or

Lifting the mask, Maggie asked, "What happened. Tell me." When Scully
hesitated, Maggie said, "Dana, it's important. Please tell me what

Scully was puzzled by her mother's insistence that she reveal what
occurred between her and Mulder last night. However, she felt since it
was her mom in the hospital bed, she would humor her.

She related how annoyed she was when Mulder appeared so much later than
she had expected, and then when he finally did appear he had work in his
hand. She felt it was more important for him to be there for her.

The straw that broke the camel's back was when he tried to make an excuse
and insisted the work had to come first, which was when she had told him
that only immediate family were allowed to visit, so he might as well go
and work on the profile.

"You said what?" Maggie said astonished.

"I said he should go finish the profile," she replied.

"No, Dana, you told him he couldn't see me, because he wasn't my family.
How could you?" she implored.

"Oh Mom, don't make more out of this than it is. Hell, he hasn't even
called to find out how you're doing," she retorted tensely.

"Why should he call? You basically told him that his concern wasn't
warranted because he wasn't a member of my family. How dare you, Dana.
How dare you do that to me. How dare you do that to him." Maggie had
started to raise her head off the pillow as she spoke, but now dropped
back down, exhausted.

She was trying to take large gulps of oxygen, but was showing some signs
of respiratory distress. Dana became concerned and buzzed the nurses'
station, all the while repeating over and over, "I'm sorry, Mom. I'm so
sorry. I didn't realize. I'm sorry."


Avon Forest, VA
Wednesday, October 16, 1996
12:45 p.m.

They had been on the actual site for about ninety minutes. Mulder was
looking around the site for anything that might offer him the missing
piece to the puzzle that would let him know who the next victim would most
likely be. The other agents ambled about the area, while Mulder worked in
small circular sweeps of each designated area.

Obayashi followed Mulder, for he realized that he was watching a master at
work. Unfortunately the process was also taking a great toll on the
master. Obayahsi feared Mulder might pass out from sleep and food
deprivation. He looked physically haggard.

But Obayashi was also perceptive enough to realize the man was emotionally
drained as well. Something happened between the time he left Quantico
last night and the time he arrived back. It was almost as though there
was no fight left in him.

"Oh God," Mulder cried out. "There it is ! This is the piece I couldn't
see in the pictures, but it was there all along. Damn it, it was there
all along!"

Obayashi rushed over to Mulder's side. "What is it, Mulder? What did you

"Do you see these small marks on the victim's fingers and toes? All of
the victim's lived in the same apartment building, but that was the only
connection we seemed to have. None of the victims apparently knew one
another, and it's my opinion none of the victims knew their assailant

"But I knew the perp was leaving me a clues, but I couldn't recognize what
the clues were or where they were going to lead us. Well, I just realized
what it was. Riichi, do you have the list of residents from the apartment

Obayashi pulled the computer printout from his bag. "Right here, Mulder.
What do you want to know?"

"Who's the tenant in apart 6123?"

"Karen L. Brownstein."

"Riichi, I believe this is Karen L. Brownstein."

"Mulder, how could you possibly know that without any identification?"
Obayashi asked in disbelief.

The last victim telegraphed the information for us. Here, I'll show you
how on this victim. Look at the markings on Karen Brownsteins left hand,
middle finger. That's the third digit. Now look at her right hand, index
finger. See that red ring that was cut into it? That's the seventh
digit. Now, look at her left foot."

Obayashi cut in. "Her small pinky toe has that same kind of ring. Would
that be considered the first digit again?" Mulder nodded yes. "So then
on the right foot there's a marking on her last toe, the pinky again. But
this time it would be the tenth digit, though I would guess that would be
considered a zero, yes?"

Mulder smiled. He liked Riichi Obayashi a great deal. He was perceptive
and observant, and was willing to work as a part of a team. "Riichi, look
up apartment number, 3710. Who's listed there?"

Obayashi scanned the printout. "Bingo! Barbara Anne Kingsley. Do you
want me to call it in?"

When Mulder nodded yes, Obayashi ran off to inform the Agent in Charge
that Mulder knew who the next victim would be and that a stake-out would
be needed at possible victim's residence in order to catch the UNSUB.

Riichi Obayashi also notified AD Skinner's office that Agent Mulder came
through once again. He took one more liberty and asked to speak with the
AD personally.

"Yes, it is urgent. Please tell the AD I need to speak to him about
something that concerns Agent Mulder and his partner." Agent Obayashi was
put through directly to Walter Skinner.

Mulder, on the other hand, walked slowly back to the car. He took his
cell phone out of his pocket and tried to get an open line, but his
service was not cooperating. *Too many damn trees in the forest,* he
thought. Mulder sat down in the car to wait.

As the clean-up team arrived, Mulder and the rest of the entourage were
able to leave. As Obayashi, Arnold, and Jackson piled into the car,
Mulder waited for the comments to begin.

Surprisingly, all that came out of Arnold and Jackson's mouth were, "Good
job." Mulder looked at Obayashi suspiciously, and gave him a small smile.
Obayashi discreetly acknowledged Mulder's small bid of thanks by nodding
ever so slightly.

As soon as the car had cleared the inner forest area, Mulder tried his
cell phone again. This time he was able to get a clear signal. He dialed
Scully's cell number, hoping she had it with her and turned on. At the
fourth ring, she answered.


"Hi. It's me." He spoke tentatively, since he wasn't sure how he would
be received.

"Oh thank God, Mulder. Where have you been? I've tried calling you but I
couldn't get through."

"Avon Forest, Virginia. I couldn't get through to you before now either,"
he responded. "How's __your__ mother?"

"Get here soon, Mulder. Please." The connection broke as they entered a
heavily forested area again.

"Damn it."

Obayashi looked over at Mulder. He saw that Mulder was upset and appeared
to want to say something, but was obviously holding back.

"Which hospital, Mulder?" Riichi asked.

"Baltimore City Memorial," he replied.

"Well gentlemen, it looks like we're going to be taking a little detour,"
announced Obayashi.

"What about all of the paper work?" complained Agent Arnold.

"Give me a break, Bob," retorted Riichi.

"Uhh Bob? I can't even buy that one," stated Larry Jackson.

Mulder actually chuckled out loud at that and all three agents looked at
him with their mouths agape.


"Mulder," Riichi replied, "that's the first time any of us have actually
seen you laugh."

End of Part 6/8

Part 7/8

Baltimore, MD
Baltimore City Memorial Hospital
Maggie Scully's Hospital Room
Wednesday, October 16, 1996
3:30 p.m.

Obayashi dropped Agent Mulder off at the front entrance of the hospital.
Normally, he would have insisted upon going in with him, just to make sure
he was okay, but he didn't want to give the clowns he was driving with any
more reason to get on Mulder's case. Besides, Obayashi was assured that
reinforcements would be there, if not by now, then shortly.

Mulder shook Riichi's hand and thanked him for all of his assistance, but
most of all for his support. He told Agent Obayashi that he looked
forward to working with him again someday. The agent echoed the same
sentiments and then drove off.

Mulder practically ran up to Maggie Scully's room. He went directly to
the room, #576, and opened the door. Mulder looked around, horrified.

The bed was empty. There was no one in this room. Mulder opened closet
doors in a panic, only to find those empty too. He ran out to the Nurses'
station and began shouting, "Where is she?" over and over again.

The nurses and a couple of orderlies tried to grab hold of him in order to
calm him down. None of the staff recognized him, as the last time he was
on this floor the graveyard shift was on duty. All the daytime staff saw
before them was a lunatic who was now ranting and raving something like,
"She couldn't have died! She wasn't supposed to die!"

At this point, Mulder just took off. He ran down the corridor and made a
bee-line for the men's room. Mulder locked the door behind him and
promptly began to throw up, which was all the more difficult since the
last time he had any real solid food was Tuesday morning at 6:00 a.m.

It took several minutes for the dry heaves to cease and several more
minutes after that for the nausea to pass. He sat against the wall with
his knees drawn up and with his head down on them, he began to sob. With
every ounce of energy he had left, he sobbed.

The crying was leaving him weak and breathless, but he was helpless to
stop. He didn't know how he was going to face Scully ever again. He
wasn't there for her. Maggie was gone and he wasn't there for her.

Maggie was gone! Mulder's heart felt like it was being wrenched out of
him. This woman who knew him almost as well as Scully, and in fact knew
some things about him that not even Scully knew, was gone. This woman, to
whom he freely gave his love and trust, was gone , and he never had the
chance to tell her how he really felt. How much he respected her, and
admired her, and loved her and needed her. "Oh, Mom," he cried aloud,
"Oh, Mom, I'm so sorry."


"Excuse me. My name is Walter Skinner, and I'm looking for a patient,
Margaret Scully. She's the mother of one my agents, Dr. Dana Scully."

"Oh, Mrs. Scully was moved upstairs to a the general medical floor. She's
doing much better now that the antibiotics are starting to take hold,"
replied the floor nurse.

"Excuse me," said a second staff member, " are you really with the FBI?"

"Yes, Miss."

"Boy, could we have used you here about fifteen minutes ago!" She

"What do you mean?" Skinner asked.

"Oh, we had some loony-toon guy here shouting and screaming, `Where is
she?!!' and `She can't be dead' and nonsense like that. He was scaring
the hell out of me, I'll tell ya."

"Who was he talking about?" Skinner probed.

"Who knows?" she responded.

"Wait a minute," interjected the first nurse, "he had come out of room
576. That was Mrs. Scully's room."

"Oh God," Skinner moaned. "He thinks she's dead."

"What? Who thinks who is dead?"

"Dr. Scully's partner, Agent Fox Mulder. He was here very late last
night, and the last he knew, that was her room. He arrived, didn't find
her in the room, and just assumed she was dead. I've got to talk to him.
Where is he now?"

"I don't know Mr. Skinner, but he did run off towards the blue wing," she
said as she pointed in the correct direction.


AD Skinner knew he was in the right place as the crowd surrounding the
bathroom door became larger and larger.

"Excuse me," he announced, "FBI." Skinner held up his ID badge for all to
see, and then asked the security guard to explain what the problem was.

"Some nut case is holed up in the men's room He's locked the door and he
refuses to come out. I've sent one of my men to go get the master key."

"You don't carry the master key around with you?" Skinner asked
incredulously. Skinner observed the guard sheepishly shake his head, no.
Skinner then stated, "When the door is unlocked, I will go in there. You
will remain out here. Is that clear?"

The security guard tried to reply. He got no further than, "But___."

"No `buts,' Mr. Avery," Skinner said while noting Avery's ID badge on his
shirt. "The man in there is an FBI agent who has just wrapped up a
harrowing serial murder case, and arrived here to visit his partner's
mother. Unfortunately, he is under the misconception that she died before
he had a chance to offer his support.

"He probably hasn't slept in the last twenty-four to forty-eight hours and
I'm sure he hasn't eaten anything. So, you will kindly stay out here, and
let me deal with this, once the door is _finally_ unlocked," Skinner

When Avery's subordinate finally found the correct key to open the door,
Skinner opened it slowly and narrowly. He didn't want anyone to see his
agent falling apart. He slipped in through the opening and closed the
door. Skinner locked the door behind him and then looked over in the

Mulder was laying down with his back to the wall in a fetal position.

Walter Skinner realized this was not a good sign. He slowly walked to his
agent, and called his name out softly. "Agent Mulder. Agent Mulder."
Skinner observed no reaction.

He next sat down on the bathroom floor right next to his agent. Skinner
had given serious thought to becoming more open with his agents, but this
was not exactly what he had in mind. But as uncomfortable as Skinner felt
about dealing with Mulder in this manner, he also realized he had to do
whatever he could to protect him.

"Mulder," he called again. This time he reached over and touched Mulder's
shoulder, and this time Skinner saw him shudder in reaction to the touch.

Skinner moved to grasp the agent and roll him over so he could assist him
to a sitting position. "Mulder, listen to me, please. Mrs. Scully is not
dead. She's doing much better. Mulder, do you hear me? She's not dead.
She's very much alive. Please, listen to me," he pleaded.

Mulder tried to focus on the image and the voice before him. He sounded
familiar and looked familiar, but all he knew was he wanted to see her.
He wanted to see his `Mom,' and this man was saying something about her.
He wished he could understand what.

Skinner saw Mulder was still unable to comprehend what he was saying or
who he was. This time, the Assistant Director of the FBI took hold of his
Agent and wrapped his arms around him as if to put him in a protective
cocoon. He held him and rocked him, all the while repeating over and over
again, "Fox, she's alive. Mrs. Scully is alive and I know she wants to
see you. Fox, she's alive."

He wanted to go to sleep so desperately, he was so tired. Someone was
protecting him so he could go to sleep, except he kept talking to him and
waking him up. He wanted to cry out to him to stop talking and just let
him to sleep forever. He wanted to go speak with Maggie Scully. He wanted
to tell her he wished _she_ were his mother, and that he loved her so
much and was so sorry he had never told her before.

But he kept talking and wouldn't let him go to her. *What? What are you
saying?* he wondered. He forced himself to listen. Someone was calling
him Fox. Maggie was the only one who called him Fox, but this person
wasn't Maggie. The voice was too deep. *What do you want from me?* he

"Fox, she's alive. Please come back to us, Fox. Mrs. Scully is alive and
wants to see you. Please. Fox, listen to me. Maggie Scully is not dead.
She's alive. Fox," repeated Walter again, and again.

*She's alive? What the hell is he talking about? I saw her room. She
wasn't there. Her clothes were gone. She's gone, she's gone,* he

"She's gone, she's gone," he whimpered.

Skinner breathed a huge sigh of relief. His agent was coming back to him.
"No, Fox. She's not gone. They moved her to a different room because
she's doing better. She's alive and she wants to see you. Fox, look at

Skinner cupped his hand under Mulder's chin to help him focus his gaze
towards him. "Fox, look at me. Do you see me?"

Mulder blinked his eyes and then stared back at the intense dark eyes
peering back at his own.

"Sir? What are you doing here?"

"Welcome back, Agent Mulder. And to answer your question, Agent Obayashi
informed me about Mrs. Scully's condition and that you and Agent Scully
were rather concerned. He thought I might provide you with some support."

"You came up here for that?" Mulder whispered.

"Yes, Mulder. It's my job to watch out for my agents. Didn't you know
that?" Skinner replied easily. "And now, don't you think it's time to go
visit Mrs. Scully?"

"Sir, she's really alive? She's not dead?" Mulder continued to speak no
louder than a whisper, as if he feared speaking any louder would break the
magic spell that kept Maggie alive.

"Come on, Mulder. I'll prove it to you." He pulled Mulder to his feet
and had him walk over to the sink to wash up. Mulder stood there, numbly,
so Skinner grabbed some paper towels, doused them with some water and
soap, and proceeded to wash Fox Mulder's face as though he were five years

End of Part 7/8

Part 8/8

Baltimore, MD
Baltimore City Memorial Hospital
Margaret Scully's Hospital Room # 814
Wednesday, October 16, 1996
5:25 p.m.

Walter Skinner led Fox Mulder to the room. He opened the door first,
looked inside and saw Dana Scully look up and smile at him. He noticed
Mrs. Scully was lying back with an oxygen tube and intravenous drips in
both arms. But she appeared awake and alert.

Skinner reached back to grasp Mulder's arm. He didn't want his agent to
go in without knowing what to expect. Skinner now felt confident that
seeing Margaret Scully in her present condition was a helluva a lot more
comforting than when he thought she was dead. The trauma, he felt, would
hopefully be kept to a minimum, this time at least.

"Oh Fox," Maggie called out in a raspy whisper. "I'm so glad you're

Skinner practically pulled him all the way into the room and then
deposited him next to Maggie Scully's bed. She reached out for his hand
and he, in turn, grasped hers with both of his.

"I was so scared when I couldn't find you," he began.

Scully and Maggie looked at Mulder and then at Skinner with a question
mark written over each of their faces.

"Mulder went to your old room first, and when he didn't see you or your
personal belongings, he jumped to the wrong conclusion. I had to do a
little detective work to find him," explained Skinner.

"Oh, Fox. I'm so sorry you were frightened," consoled Maggie. "But I am
feeling so much better now. The medication finally kicked in and the
doctors felt I was stable enough to move out of the ICU. I do like being
in this room so much better than the `fishbowl'."

Mulder laughed out loud at that. "I've been in the ICU enough times to
understand exactly what you're talking about Mo__, umm, umm, Mrs. Scully."

"Now what is this Mrs. Scully business? Fox Mulder, don't you know that
I've considered you one of my own ever since ___," Maggie hesitated for a

It wasn't herself she was concerned about, it was Fox. She could see he
was in a fragile state, and didn't want to cause him anymore pain. But
she had to make it absolutely clear to him just how much he meant to her.

"___ever since Dana's abduction," she finished. She watched him visibly
shudder, and she reached for his arm with her other hand. Fox, ever since
that night I found you, ready to ___," and again she hesitated.

This was an incident that had always been between just Fox and herself.
She wanted to be careful in how she phrased her words in front of an

"___ready to do yourself harm, and I held you and cried with you, and
comforted us both," she reminded him. She heard both her daughter and
Walter Skinner audibly gasp at this latest revelation.

"That night, when I held you and convinced you how important you were to
Dana and me, I felt as though I gave you back your life, a rebirth. My
sweet, dear Fox, that night you became one of my own, whether you wanted
to or not. I have always looked upon you as my son. Always."

"Oh God, Mom!" Mulder choked out. He bent down and wrapped his arms
around her neck, nuzzled into her as close as he was physically able to
without hurting her. She in turn hugged him carefully around his waist
so as not to knock out any intravenous tubes.

After a few minutes, Maggie added, "And now that you and Dana are getting
married, there's absolutely no reason for you not to call me `Mom'."

Mulder raised his head up, which was now blushing a lovely shade of
crimson, and looked at Maggie right in the eye. The only word that came
out of his mouth was, "Oops."

Maggie looked towards Dana and saw she too was turning beet red. She then
turned her attention to Walter Skinner, and when she saw the astonishment
on his face, Maggie realized the faux pas that she had committed.

Mulder turned around and faced his boss. "Sir, I umm, well, I__," Mulder
sputtered without saying a word.

Scully, who had worked very hard to hold her tongue this entire time,
found that she too, was now at a total and complete loss for words.

Assistant Director Walter Skinner looked at the three adults present in
the room. In his most FBI tone of voice, he said, "Well, I have just one
thing to say about this latest bit of news."

He paused momentarily and gave his agents a second to understand the
importance of the words he was about to speak.

"It's about time."

End of Part 8/8

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