Life Cycles XII: Trading Lives
Date: Thu, 16 Apr 98
Category: MSR (marriage), MulderAngst, & a little ScullyAngst,
SkinnerAngst, & ScullyTorture thrown in for good measure!
Rating: PG13 for language! It gets pretty salty toward the end.
Spoilers: Through season 4

Summary: An effort to put a little levity into a leisurely lunch puts the
Scully family's health in jeopardy, leaving a very fragile Fox Mulder to
hold down the fort for both his family and his coworkers, along with a
very angry and frustrated Walter Skinner.

Archive: Yes.

Disclaimer: Fox Mulder, Dana, Bill, and Maggie Scully, as well as Walter
Skinner (and Kim too, I guess?) belong to 10/13 productions and Chris
Carter. Adam Mulder and any other character you don't recognize, on the
other hand, are all mine. Since I have learned to play nice in the
sandbox, I am only borrowing CC's characters 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: This is the follow-up to "Life Cycles XI: Memories Passed,"
but I don't believe it's as necessary to read number XI as it is to read
LC IX: Journey and LC X: Trust in order to understand where Bill Scully
fits into the scheme of things. The stories are going in a chronological
order, so for continuity's sake, especially regarding this one, you will
want to read the others first, cause this one might throw you for a loop
if you don't.

You can find the series archived at the ever wonderful, Shirley Smiley's
MulderTorture site at: under Series and Sequels

Special Thanks: Oh Vickie Moseley, thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

Please! Send feedback! I crave feedback! I need feedback!

Life Cycles XII: Trading Lives
by Susan Proto

Part 1/3

AD Skinner was annoyed as he pushed the button down hard on the intercom.
He'd specifically asked not to be disturbed, and here was Kim, disturbing
him. Though it was finally Thursday evening, it had been a long week.
There were enough budget and expense reports for him to get through to
last him a year, so he didn't want to have to deal with anything trivial
at the moment.

"Kim, I thought I'd__," he began tersely.

"__Sir, I'm sorry to bother you, but I believe you'll want to take this
call. It's an Officer Alberts from the Lakeside Police Department.."

"Lakeside?" he questioned.

"He's calling from Lakeside, California, Sir," Kim further explained.

"Lakeside?" he repeated, still confused. "Oh, never mind," and he picked
up the phone in the hopes of getting this over with as quickly as

"Assistant Director Skinner speaking."

"Hello Sir. My name is Officer Carl Alberts. I'm a police officer with
the Lakeside P.D., " he introduced.

"Lakeside?" queried the AD yet again.

"We're a suburb of San Diego, Sir."

"San Diego," Skinner echoed monotone.

"Yes, Sir. I'm calling with regards to one of your Agents, an Agent Dana

"Agent Scully? Yes, Agent Scully is under my command. What's this all
about Officer Alberts?" Skinner asked, slightly more anxious now than

"Sir, there was an accident that involved a couple of drunk drivers on the
San Diego Freeway late this afternoon. There were four cars involved, and
in one of them was Agent Scully and her family," Alberts explained.

"Scully?" Skinner needed to refocus his thoughts for a moment. *What the
hell was this guy talking about? What the hell was he talking about?
California. Oh God. Her brother. Maggie. Oh God, Maggie.*

Slowly, the knowledge came back to him. Dana Scully-Mulder, her son Adam,
and Maggie Scully had flown out to San Diego late last night to begin a
long weekend that would culminate in the celebration of Bill Scully's
older child's First Holy Communion.

Since Mulder was in the middle of a VCU case, and he, himself, was in the
middle of an endless pile of damned budget reports, they were going to fly
out to San Diego late Friday night and then catch a return flight back
early Sunday evening.

"What happened, Alberts? How serious are the injuries? Who else was in
the car with her?" he demanded now.

"Hold on, Sir. Let me look at the report. Umm, a William Scully, Jr. was
driving, and a Tara Scully was in the front passenger seat. Dana Scully
was seated behind Tara Scully and in the rear, driver's side seat, was a
Margaret Scully," Alberts listed.

"Maggie," he gasped. "How serious are the injuries, Alberts? Wait! The
children? Where were the children? Adam? Were there children in the
car?" he asked all at once.

"No, Sir. There's no record of any children being involved in the
accident," he confirmed. "The victims were taken to San Diego Memorial
Hospital, Sir. I'm afraid I don't know about their conditions at this
time, though I can confirm that the two women seated in the passenger
seats, both front and back, were unconscious at the scene."

"Thank you, Alberts. I'm going to put you back on the line with my
assistant, Kim. Would you please give her any necessary phone numbers,
the exact name and address of the hospital, as well as directions to the
hospital from the airport, and any other pertinent information?" Skinner
requested. " I need to go inform Agent Scully's husband of the accident."

And with that, a dazed Walter Skinner buzzed Kim and directed her to take
down any and all necessary information that would make his and Mulder's
trip to San Diego as smooth as possible. He also directed her to rebook
two seats on the next flight out to San Diego, California.

He then stood up on shaky legs and walked out of his office door. He
needed to make the trip to the basement.



"Come in, if you dare!" said the younger man, with his glasses perched
precariously on his nose.

"Mulder," Skinner choked out as he walked into the office.

"Sir! Now this is a surprise! Somebody has to die or I've been fired
to warrant a visit from you down here!" he said lightheartedly.

When he noted Walter was not smiling, Mulder said in a hushed tone, as
calmly as possible, " Please, Walter, tell me I've been fired."

"There's been an accident," Skinner began in a shaky voice.

"My mother, right?" he asked quickly, ashamed that he was actually hoping
it was his mother and no one else.

"Mulder, there was an accident involving some drunk drivers on the San
Diego Freeway__," Skinner started to explain.

"___Oh God, no. Dane? Oh God, Adam? Walter?" Mulder choked out while
his hands groped about in whirligig fashion towards his boss.

Walter placed two firm hands on Mulder's shoulders in an effort to steady
him, though he hoped it would center himself as well.

"Adam's apparently fine. According to the police report, there were no
children involved in the accident. I suppose the kids were all at home
with a baby sitter."

"But Dana? And Mom? Walter, God, please, they're not__," Mulder couldn't
bare to finish the unspoken question.

"Dana and Tara were unconscious at the scene. I don't know what condition
Bill or Maggie are in. I have Kim rebooking our flights from tomorrow
night for the next one out. Do you have an overnight case in your car?"
Mulder nodded mutely in the affirmative.

Walter walked back toward the doorway to the office and began speaking.
"Okay, then all we have to do is swing by my place so I can pick up my
bag. It's all packed. It's just sitting in my bedroom, ready to go. All
I need to do is grab it, then we can get__." Walter stopped rambling long
enough and took a good look at his agent.

Mulder was seated in his chair and trembling violently. No tears. Just
uncontrollable shaking. Skinner moved quickly back near his Agent.

"Mulder," Walter said, as he kneeled down to make eye contact with the
younger man, "they're fine. I'm sure everyone will be fine. C'mon, you
know how tough Scully is! Those Scully women are fighters, and I'm sure
both Dana and Maggie are fine," he continued as much for his own peace of
mind as for Mulder's.

He replaced a hand on Mulder's shoulder in a brief effort to comfort him,
but Skinner knew it went unnoticed. All either man wanted to do was to be
transported instantaneously to the sides of the women they loved.


The flight had been horrendous. They'd hit a storm and the ride had been
one long endurance test of air turbulence. Both men were experienced
flyers, but neither of them recalled ever having traveled under such
conditions. The fact that their hearts had been in their mouths the
entire flight with worry for their loved ones hadn't helped.

Neither man had talked much during the flight. Both men could have used
the support of the other, but each found it equally as difficult to seek
it out, and ironically, for the same reason. Skinner was Mulder's
superior. It wouldn't do for him to have to rely upon an underling, even
in a situation as stressful as this. And as foolish as it was to feel
that way, Skinner couldn't have helped but feel it wouldn't look right.

And as much as Mulder craved and needed Walter Skinner's attention and
support, he still couldn't quite see himself seeking it since he was not
his equal. The man was his boss, and would always, in some way, seem to
be his superior.

Mulder wanted to consider him a friend. After all, Skinner was his best
man at his wedding and had also been with him through many a physical and
emotional crisis. However, Mulder still found it difficult to believe
the man stood by him for any other reason than he was one of his agents
and felt it was a professional obligation to do so. That and the fact
that he appeared to be very much in love with his mother-in-law.

That brought a small smile to his lips. Maggie Scully and Walter Skinner.
Who'd a thunk it? Yet they were good for each other. He brought out her
strength, and she brought out his gentle side. In all the years Mulder
had worked for Skinner, he'd never remembered seeing the man smile.

When he started seeing Maggie on a regular basis, he had remembered
seeing, for the first time, Skinner laugh out loud. Mulder remembered
staring at the man, awed at the joy he'd heard in the laughter and the
beauty he'd seen in the smile. Walter Skinner had a beautiful smile.
Thanks to Maggie, he showed it much more often.

One might have assumed a relationship between his boss and his
mother-in-law would have made Mulder feel closer to his boss, but that
wasn't the case. In fact, it appeared the exact opposite was true.

It was enough of a challenge for Mulder to prove to Skinner and everyone
else in the FBI that he was capable of working with his wife as his
partner. Written rule, or no written rule, he'd heard enough of the
insinuations over the years to believe that people felt he couldn't do
squat if he were too damned worried about his wife to follow through on a

So once it had become common knowledge the Assistant Director of the FBI,
and his direct superior, was seriously involved in a romantic
relationship with his own mother-in-law, Mulder felt it even more
important to keep his distance. He was damned if people were going to
think he was receiving any special favors because of that relationship.

And because of _that_ relationship, Mulder felt he couldn't allow himself
to get any closer to a man he wanted nothing more than to become close to.
Mulder didn't have many male friends. In fact he could count them all
on one hand.

Richard Goldfarb, of course, whom he'd just realized he'd have to call
once they got to the hospital, so he could let him and his wife, Leslie,
know about Dana's accident.

Then there was Riichi Obayashi, with whom he'd established a good
professional working relationship and was slowly nurturing a friendship
outside of the bureau.

Last, but not least, were "the guys." Langly, Byers, and Frohicke had
stood by him through not just thick and thin, but through everything.

But Mulder never felt he was anything less than their equal. With those
five men, Mulder always felt he was playing on a level field. Not so with
Walter S. Skinner. With Walter, he'd always felt a sort of reverence, a
need to look up to him. Which had also scared the shit out of him.

The last man he'd felt the need to do that with was his father, and
everyone knew where that led. No, Mulder felt it was a much better idea
to keep his distance, and his feelings of reverence to himself.


They'd grabbed their carry on luggage and immediately went to the Rental
Car counter. Kim had arranged for a first class rental, and Walter signed
for the Cadillac Seville.

As they buckled themselves into their seat belts, Walter gave a
perfunctory glance at the map the car rental office had had ready for
them. It outlined the most direct route to San Diego Memorial Hospital.
He handed the map to Mulder, who lightly fingered it, but did not actually
look at it.

Though both men had tried at various times to get through to the hospital
via cellular phones on the flight, the storm prevented them from getting
through. At this point neither wanted to speak on the phone. They simply
wanted to get to the hospital and see Maggie and Dana.

Walter looked over at Mulder as he drove out of the parking lot and
realized the younger man hadn't said a word since they'd disembarked.
"Mulder? You okay?" he asked.

Mulder merely nodded his head, and then looked, or rather pretended to
look, at the map. Walter didn't feel much like talking anyway.


The two men started out walking, but soon their pace became faster and
faster until they were both running towards the ICU.
Mulder saw Bill Scully first, and called out to him," Bill! Bill!"

Bill Scully looked up with a worn out, weary expression. He was pale and
his eyes were very bloodshot. When he saw who was calling him, he tried
to straighten up a bit in his chair, and then attempted to stand. He
managed to get himself upright, though he swayed ever so slightly.

"Mulder. Mr. Skinner." he acknowledged hoarsely.

"How are they? Where are they? The front desk wouldn't tell us anything.
I need to see her. Bill, are they okay?" Mulder hadn't said more than
two words in the last hour and a half, and now he felt as though he
couldn't stop talking.

"Mulder, stop. Listen to me. Dana had surgery, and she's in the ICU.
So's Tara. They were both bleeding internally and had to have surgery to
stop the bleeding. Tara's spleen was removed, and Dana's right kidney was
pretty beat up, though they think they were able to save it. They have to
watch it closely.

"They're both still knocked out from the anesthesia and pain killers, and
they both suffered mild concussions too. Tara's right hand is broken.
Dana suffered a pretty nasty gash on her right leg that required a lot of

"But the doctors seem to think they're going to be okay. I think they're
going to be okay," Bill concluded wearily.

"And Maggie? How's your mother, Bill?" Walter finally asked.

"She's not here," he replied.

"What?" Walter gasped.

"No, I'm sorry, Walter. I meant she's not on this floor. She's on a
regular medical floor in room 319. They're just holding her overnight for
observation, though she was banged up pretty good. Her shoulder was badly
bruised, and they treated her for shock, but Mom's going to be fine. I
know she wants to see both of you," he said softly.

"What about you, Bill?" asked Mulder gently. "How come you haven't been

"Me? I'm fine, not a scratch. I had the only air bag, so I'm fine.
Damned older car. Besides, if they admitted me, I wouldn't be able to
visit with Tara, or Dana, or Mom," he explained.

"You've been running back between three rooms?" Mulder asked

"Yeah. I'm glad you guys finally made it here. I was going to request
some roller skates," he joked feebly.

"Walter, go see Mom, so she'll know we're here. She'll feel better
knowing Bill can concentrate on Tara's recovery, and I'm here to be with
Dana," Mulder suggested, and then a question suddenly occurred to Mulder.
"Bill? Who's with Adam and your kids?"

"Our housekeeper, Mrs. Charles. She's wonderful, and perfectly
trustworthy, Mulder. We wanted an adult's meal out, and Mrs. Charles was
available to baby sit during the afternoon, so we took advantage of that
fact. Thank God she can stay with them," Bill said gratefully.

Walter excused himself to go see Maggie on the third floor, and Mulder
walked with Bill to Dana and Tara's rooms as they were adjacent to one


Mulder choked back tears as he entered his wife's ICU room. He was
horrified to see all of the lines she was hooked up to. He noted she had
an oxygen tube inserted into her nostrils, as well as two IV's attached
to her right arm. He noted on the side of the bed was a urine bag, in
which he also observed blood mixed in with the output.

She laid unconscious, but the steady beeps of the various monitors were
comforting to Mulder's ears. He pulled the vinyl covered chair next to
the bed and sat down. Next, he reached for his Dana's hand, squeezed it,
and said aloud, "I'm here, Dane. I'm here. You're going to be fine.
Adam is safe and you're going to be fine."

"Mom?" rasped out a tiny voice.

"Hi. Mom's fine, Dane. She's been admitted to the hospital just for
observation, but she wasn't badly hurt. Honest. Walter's with her right
now," Mulder explained.

Dana smacked her lips a couple of times, and Mulder reached over for the
pitcher of ice chips. "Here, this should make you feel a little better,"
he said as he spooned a small amount into her awaiting mouth.

She nodded, minimally squeezed Mulder's hand back, and fell back asleep
immediately. Mulder sat down to wait.


Walter walked into Room 319 and was shocked to see an empty bed. He then
looked further around the curtain, and saw the person who meant the most
to him in the world.

"Maggie?" he called out softly so as not to startle her.

"Oh, Walter, you're here," she cried out with emotion. "Have you seen
Dana? Tara? No one will tell me anything, and they won't let me out of
bed to check on them. Is Fox here with you?"

"Shhh, catch your breath. Yes, Fox is here with me. He's with Dana now,
as Bill is with Tara. Tara and Dana apparently received the brunt of the
injuries. Tara had to have her spleen removed, and Dana's right kidney
was badly bruised, but apparently they were able to save it.

"Oh God, my poor babies," Maggie uttered.

"Shhh," he said in an effort to comfort her, and then continued, "They're
both in ICU, and they're both still out of it as a result of anesthesia
and pain killers. But they're both going to be okay, Maggie. Now, how
are you feeling?" Walter asked earnestly.

"Me?" Maggie sighed. "I don't know how I feel, Walter. I just want to be
with my children. I guess at the moment I feel numb. I can't believe
this has happened. I don't understand why this had to happen."

"Maggie, exactly what did happen?" Walter asked softly.

"What happened," she repeated. "Well, the adults decided they wanted to
treat themselves to a dinner without the children. So, I offered to stay
back with them so Tara, Bill, and Dana could go out to eat tonight.

"The kids of course insisted I join them, and that's when Mrs. Charles
offered to stay with the children if we went out for lunch instead of
dinner. She has this little phobia about driving on the freeway at night,
so as it didn't matter to any of us whether it was lunch or dinner, we
left around one o'clock for the restaurant. We arrived about fifteen
minutes later."

At this point, Maggie grasped Walter's hand and squeezed it tightly before
she continued.

"We ordered some drinks to toast the Scully clan being together again. We
were having a lovely time. The food was delicious. I had shrimp. You
know how much I love shrimp, Walter," she interjected.

"Yes, Maggie, I know how much you love shrimp. Go on, please," he

"Well, we were toasting one another every five minutes! We were having
such a good time. Everyone seemed so relaxed. I know Dana and Bill and
Tara love their children, Walter, and Lord knows how much I love my
grandchildren! You know how much I love them, don't you, Walter?" Maggie
said through tears.

"Of course you love your grandchildren, Maggie. Everyone knows how
devoted you are to all of your children, in good times and bad," Walter

Walter briefly recalled the last couple of times he had to comfort this
woman when it concerned her children. Bill and some former cronies lost
control of their senses and had nearly beaten Fox to death. The rift it
caused between Bill and Dana seemed almost insurmountable, but somehow,
with Mulder's help, they managed to get passed it to a certain degree.

Then there was the time Mulder had collapsed in the mall and was somewhere
between psychotic and catatonic states of mind. Those were two harrowing
days, but everyone, including Bill, had pulled together to bring him back
to reality.

And now this. Now Maggie herself was subjected to pain and suffering
while her daughter and daughter-in-law laid in the ICU suffering from
serious injuries. Walter shuddered when he realized just how close he was
to losing this woman, this woman whom he loved very much.

"Maggie, tell me what happened next," he said.

"Well, we ate and drank, and just enjoyed each other's company. We had a
wonderful time reminiscing. Tara had kept saying over and over again how
much fun it was to play with the grown-ups for a change. She had said she
couldn't remember the last time she'd ordered a mixed drink, much less had
the chance to drink and enjoy it.

"Even Dana caught a fit of the giggles when she'd realized how many
pitchers of beer we'd gone through, but Bill just kept ordering them.
Finally, Bill had ordered a round of dessert drinks, and we toasted one
another and the Holy Communion that was coming up. Bill paid for the meal
and then we left to go home," Maggie related.

"So you got into the car and Bill began to drive," Walter prompted.

"Yes, I mean, we were all still so giddy from lunch. Bill was in such a
good mood, and he and Dana were getting along so well. Just like old
times__," Maggie said wistfully. "Everyone was in such a happy mood.

"Anyway, we got in the car and were able to get on the freeway pretty
quickly. The restaurant wasn't far from the entrance, nor were we too far
from our exit. In fact, for some reason Bill had been driving in the left
lane and had to get over to the right lane pretty quickly, since our exit
was going to come up very soon.

"I guess that's when it happened. Bill tried to move over to the right
lane while the other car was accelerating onto the freeway. The other car
was coming on fast, and didn't even seem to notice us. It just kept
coming and Bill kept moving over and sped up even more, I guess to try to
avoid it, but suddenly we felt the impact on our right. Our car started
spinning and spinning, until we hit another car on the freeway. The car
that had hit us also hit a fourth car.

"It was a mess, Walter. There were so much glass and blood and honking
horns. Oh God, Walter, we could have been killed so easily," she cried
out and reached out towards him.

Walter gathered her in his arms, all too glad she couldn't see his face.
As grateful as he was that Maggie was all right, something had niggled in
his mind while Maggie had recounted what had happened. It was just then
he recalled what it was.

Officer Alberts had said the police report stated the accident was a
result of drunken drivers. That was drivers. Not one driver, but more
than one. Bill.

Bill. Scully. Was. Drunk.

Walter felt as though his head was going to explode. He also felt if he
were to go anywhere near Bill Scully anytime soon, his fist would explode
all over Bill Scully's face.

And when Mulder finally found out, Walter wasn't sure if he wanted to be
around for round two.

End of part 1/3

Disclaimers in part 1

Part 2/3

Maggie had finally insisted Walter go and check on Dana and Tara. She was
desperate for first hand information on the condition of her daughter and
daughter-in-law, and she knew the closest she'd get to that was by sending
Walter out to scope out the situation for her.

Walter was seething but hadn't let Maggie know it. She seemed to be
oblivious to the fact that her son, her idiot son, and his drunken
demeanor, played a role in their accident. He'd wondered how anyone could
have let him get behind the wheel of the car, but then had realized,
according to Maggie's description, no one else seemed to be sober enough
to notice.

Walter couldn't help but think the sonofabitch should have known better.
It was his responsibility to _not_ drink if he knew he was driving, or at
the very least, he could have called a cab. Bill had to have known his
faculties were impaired. He had to have known. Stupid, macho, moron.

Skinner wanted to go right up to the jerk and take one good swing at him,
and he would have too, if he hadn't first run into Mulder in the hallway.
When Skinner saw the pained expression on Mulder's face, Walter felt a
surge of panic.

"Mulder? Dana__?" he began.

"__She's holding her own," Mulder answered quickly.

"Then what's wrong? Why are you out here and not with your wife?" Skinner

"I just got a call on my cellular from DC. There's been another one,"
Mulder replied with a heavy sigh.

"Another one? Another killing?" Skinner asked. Upon seeing Mulder's nod
of confirmation, he then asked, "So what the hell do they expect you to do
about it? What the hell's the matter with them? You're fucking three
thousand miles away, for crying out loud!"

Skinner was visibly upset, which of course did absolutely nothing to help
alleviate the guilt and worry Mulder felt at being unable to be in both DC
to capture the UNSUB and in California to support his wife's recovery.

"They told me they were faxing the photos and notes from the crime
scene," Mulder relayed quietly.

"Where the hell did they get a fax number?" Skinner asked angrily. His
agent had enough on his plate at the moment, and he was pissed off they
were taking advantage of him in this manner.

"Apparently they found out our location from Kim, and they in turn called
the ICU nurse's station and got their fax number. The DC team is
gathering everything they want to fax over here so they can do it all at
once. They're going to ring me on my cell again when they're ready to
transmit. I guess the photos are pretty gruesome and they'd rather I be
the one to pick them up from the fax," he explained tiredly.

Mulder was feeling the stress from all ends. He'd been getting very
little sleep since he'd been loaned out to the VCU team two weeks ago as a
consultant. Consultant, however, was not quite the apt term for what he
ended up doing.

Mulder was more like the ASAC, as the agent who had been put in charge was
clearly ineffective. Which of course was one of the major reasons why the
DC team felt it necessary to intrude upon Mulder's time in California.

Mulder had, for all intents and purposes, taken over the direction of the
case. Without him there to lead, the team was lost. Mulder had planned
to lay out the groundwork for the team to follow through on before he was
supposed to leave for California, but the car accident changed those
plans. Mulder had left abruptly, without leaving any plans for the DC
team, and with the latest death added to an already too high number, the
DC team felt they had no recourse but to contact him.

So, now with the stress of having had no sleep from working on this two
week old case, a nasty case of jet lag, and the very real concerns over
his wife's health and recovery, as well as wanting desperately to see his
son, Mulder was very quickly on the verge of turning into a basket case.

Skinner finally got a grip on his own emotions and realized his agent had
enough to deal with without him fueling the fire. "Mulder, you can tell
them to go to hell, you know," he said half heartedly, since he knew
Mulder would never let go of the case if there were even the slightest
chance he could solve it.

"Yeah, I could, and when the fifth victim is found, they'll just tie my
straight jacket on with a nice little bow," he responded with only a hint
of sarcasm, because both men knew Mulder's words were a lot closer to the
truth then they'd both want to admit.


He took out his cell phone and answered, "Mulder." He listened to the
voice at the other end and then replied, "Okay, I'll take a look and get
back to you in an hour or so. Yeah. Thanks."

When Walter looked at him, Mulder informed him, "ASAC Johnson hoped 'the
little woman' was feeling better. Nice little personal touch on his part,
wasn't it?"

He looked at Skinner forlornly, and then said, "I've got to go get the
faxes. Would you sit with Dana for a little bit, while I look the
material over. I don't want to bring it into her room."

Walter nodded and watched Mulder walk to the nurse's station. His
shoulders sagged a bit, and his gait was a bit jerky and slow. Skinner
was worried the poor guy was going to end up in the hospital bed next to
his wife's.

The last thing Mulder needed was to be working on this case. *No,*
thought Skinner to himself, *the last thing Mulder needed was to know Bill
Scully was drunker than a skunk when he got behind the wheel of his car.*


Scully groaned, and when she opened her eyes she expected to be comforted
by the sight of her husband. Instead, she looked into the concerned gaze
of her boss and mother's Significant Other.

"Sir? Where's Fox?" she rasped.

"He stepped out for a little while, so I'm his designated hitter. Can you
deal with me for a little while?" he asked tenderly. He knew he was no
substitute for Fox in Dana's eyes, but he didn't want her to know just yet
that VCU had, for all intents and purposes, emotionally blackmailed her
husband into continuing to work on the serial murder case.

Walter knew Dana would feel even more pain and distress because she knew
her husband was unable to distance himself from these kinds of cases. She
would probably feel just as angry as he felt that VCU would take advantage
of him in that vein.

He made the decision, however, to have Mulder talk about it with his wife.
Walter wanted to discuss something else with his charge.

"How do you feel?" he asked sincerely. If she were obviously exhibiting
any real physical or mental discomfort, he would postpone his questions
and need to know the truth.

"Not so good, Sir. To be honest, everything hurts like hell. Have you
seen my mother yet?" she asked.

"Yes, of course I have. She's bruised and banged up, but she'll be okay,
Scully," he answered.

Dana smiled slightly. Whenever they were in a stressful situation, the AD
often reverted to using her surname to address her. Just like Mulder.

"Thank God," Dana began. "How long will she be in the hospital?"

"Just overnight for observation," he replied.

"Good. Ohmigod, the baby? Who's with the baby?" she cried out suddenly.

"Mrs. Charles, Bill and Tara's housekeeper. I assume she's going to stay
overnight__, so we can all be near our women," he said with a slight

"Your women?" she echoed, but with a small chuckle. "Oh, Sir, have you
been watching the John Wayne Film Festival again?"

He laughed lightly at her comment, and then paused a moment or two before
he asked the question that was dying to escape from his lips.

"Scully, are you up to telling me what happened?"

"Happened?" she repeated.

"The accident, Scully, do you feel strong enough at the moment to tell me
how it happened?" he reiterated.

"I'm not sure, Sir, exactly how it happened. We were hit from the right
side, that I do remember," she began.

"Scully, tell me from the beginning, okay?" he encouraged. He desperately
wanted to corroborate Maggie's version of the events before he found Bill
Scully and pounded him senseless.

"Well," she began almost in a whisper, "we went out for lunch. Just the
adults, and it was heaven. I mean, I love my son, and my nephew and
niece, but oh, it is such a treat to be able to go out with a group of
adults and not have to hear anyone whine or cry.

"Mulder loves to take Adam out with us. He calls it a 'family date,' and
I love it too, but every once in a while, I like a grown-up night on the
town, you know?" Upon seeing Skinner nod affably in agreement, she

"We ended up going out to lunch instead of dinner, because it was the only
way we could have Mom join us. Mrs. ___?" she hesitated.

"__Charles?" Skinner assisted.

"Yes, Mrs. Charles offered to sit for us if we went out during the day,
since she has a bad case of night blindness. We didn't care, so off we
went, like bats out of hell," she admitted with a wry smile.

Scully then went on to tell much the same story as her mother. She spoke
of the pleasant conversation, the relaxed reminiscing, and the playful
jibes they'd poked at one another. And through it all, Scully mentioned
the toasts to the Scully clan, and to the Holy Communion, and to the
weather. She laughed a bit when she'd shared that last bit of

"We toasted anything and everything. God, I can't remember the last time
I'd had that much to drink. I mean, since I'd had Adam, I didn't have the
desire, you know? And since Mulder hardly ever drinks, it was never much
of an issue. But it felt so good to just let loose for a change, and I
was having such a lovely time with Mom, Tara, and Bill. It was amazing
that I had a good time with Bill, after all of the hard feelings we'd had
toward one another. He was trying so hard to be on his best behavior, and
since he was playing host, I certainly wasn't going to look for an excuse
to rain on his parade," she said.

"You Scullys sure do know how to party," Skinner said earnestly.

"Well, yes, I guess you could say we do." Dana had closed her eyes at this
point, and Skinner thought she was letting him know she was feeling
fatigued and wanted to sleep. He remained quiet so she could take a nap,
but then heard her speak again as she recalled a time from her childhood.

"As kids we'd always had a Saint Paddy's Day party at our house. Everyone
wanted to come to the Scully home on St. Paddy's Day. There was always
plenty of food, drink, and brew," she remembered with a smile.

"Brew?" Skinner echoed.

"Of course! You can't celebrate a proper Saint Patrick's Day without some
good brew. Hell, you can't celebrate anything without a proper good
brew__," Scully explained but then suddenly grimaced. "Walter, I'm sorry,
all of a sudden I don't feel so well."

"I'll call the nurse," he said.

"Mulder. Get Mulder, please," she pleaded softly.

When the ICU nurse came in, Skinner walked out with the promise of sending
Mulder back to be with her. He found Mulder in the ICU waiting room,
having surrounded himself with some chairs to form a sort of desk, more to
keep curious eyes off of the photos than for his own comfort.

"Mulder?" Skinner called softly to get his attention, but the agent was so
absorbed in the images he didn't respond. "Mulder," he called more

This time he did look up, but it was obvious Mulder had no idea as to who
was in front of him. Mulder blinked his eyes hard a couple of times and
then worked very hard to refocus them. When he finally could see more
clearly, he noted the imposing figure in front of him and acknowledged
him, "Sir?"

"Scully wants you. She's not feeling to great at the moment and would
like you to stay with her for a bit." When he saw his hesitation, Skinner
said, "Go Mulder. I'll take care of the file."

Mulder didn't need to be told twice. He bolted out of the waiting room to
his wife's side. Meanwhile, Skinner sat down to look over the faxed file.

He wasn't certain how long he'd been looking at the case note or glancing
at the photos, but he knew it was longer than he'd wanted to look at them.
His eyes became bloodshot and his vision became a little blurry. "Damned
bifocals," he cursed aloud to no one in particular.

"Why is it always the damned bifocals and never the damned eyes?" the
burly figure asked. Walter looked up and saw Bill Scully standing by the
door. "I just came back from seeing Mom. She said you should come down
to see her as soon as you have a chance."

Bill walked into the room and sat down heavily near Skinner. Bill peered
over at the various pieces of evidence and gasped slightly. "Shit Walter,
you sure do have strange reading habits. What the hell is that?"

"Nothing for your eyes, I can assure you," Walter responded formally. He
was ticked with himself for not putting the material away as soon as he'd
realized Bill had walked in.

"No, seriously Walter. What the hell is that all about? Tell me that's
what you do for a living. I mean you look at that shit all day long?" he
asked incredulously.

"No, thank God. I look at expense and budget reports all day long. I look
at requisition forms all day long. I look at memos demanding I ream
someone for screwing up all day long," he replied, and then added, "Mulder
is the one who's been looking at this shit all day long. And all night
long too. And any amount of time in between that it takes to catch the
butchers who do these kinds of things."

"You're kidding. Mulder? He catches these bastards?" Bill asked
skeptically. "I thought he spent his days convincing my sister to go
catch little green men."

"They do, but they're grey."

"Excuse me?" Bill asked.

"They're not green, they're grey," explained Skinner.

"Oh. Right. So why is this shit spread all over the place? You gonna
tell me some little _grey_ man did all this damage?"

"No, of course not," Skinner said seriously. "Your brother-in-law doesn't
do this full time any longer. He used to, but it started to tear him
apart, and he decided his sanity was more important than having a career.
So he got out of the VCU and started the X-Files," Skinner explained.

"He used to look at this crap on a daily basis?" Bill asked, amazed.

"Yes. Yes, he did."

"So if he got out to start looking for little E.T.'s, what's he doing with
the file now. Damn, why is he looking at this shit when my sister's in
Intensive Care?" he asked angrily.

*No thanks to you, you piece of scum. She's in the ICU because of you,
dammit!* he thought immediately to himself. Walter collected himself for
a moment and then replied as calmly as he could manage.

"VCU requested his services about two weeks ago. He's been working on
this case since then trying to come up with a usable profile on this
perverted, maniacal, lunatic of a serial killer," Skinner explained.

"Profile? Oh, you mean Mulder's able to come up with some psycho mumbo
jumbo that explains what kind of a guy the killer is most probably like,
right?" Bill asked confidently.

"Yeah, except Fox Mulder was and remains the best damned profiler the FBI
has. The man picks up on details that no one, and I mean no one, ever
picks up on. His profiles give the VCU a better than ninety per cent
chance of catching the perp," Skinner said with obvious pride.

"You've got to be kidding, he's that good? Mulder? Ninety per cent? Bill
asked in awe.

"Yes, ninety per cent," confirmed Skinner. "He was so good, they won't
leave him alone. They'd been working on this case for four weeks and
couldn't get a handle on the UNSUB. Mulder's given them enough
information in the last two weeks to put them closer than the whole VCU
team had been able to do in the four weeks without him.

"Only problem is, the perp seems to be escalating 'cause he knows Mulder's
on to him. Mulder leaves unexpectedly, VCU falls apart, hence, they track
poor Mulder down to next to his wife's hospital bed.

"So yes, Bill, in answer to your question, he's _that_ good," Skinner said

"I never figured him for that, Walter," Bill replied.

"You might try talking to him, Bill. Get to know him. You might find
that you would actually like him. I know I do," Skinner said.

"Yeah, I know, I know. I've been trying, but let's face it, I'm not
exactly in Mulder's league, ya know?" Bill said, slightly embarrassed.

"Oh c'mon Walter," Bill continued. "The man is fucking brilliant. Crazy,
but brilliant. I find myself wanting to reach for a dictionary every time
I try to have a conversation with him."

"Funny, Dana manages to hold her end of a conversation with him.," Skinner

"Umm, Walter, in case you hadn't noticed, my sister is fuckin' brilliant
too. Not nearly as crazy as her husband, but just as brilliant," Bill

"But you manage to talk to your sister, don't you?" Skinner led him.

"You've got to be kidding? Walter, in case you hadn't noticed, we haven't
exactly been The Brady Bunch (r) here, ya know?"

"Funny, both Maggie and Dana said you got along very well with your sister
today at lunch," Skinner remarked casually.

"Yeah, we did as a matter of fact. But frankly, you ply enough wine and
beer into Dana and she does manage to loosen up, ya know? I love my
sister, Walter, but sometimes I don't like her. I mean, sometimes she can
be such a priss, you know?" Bill responded.

"Tell me why you say that, Bill?" Skinner probed.

"Oh, you know? I mean, she just doesn't always know how to have fun, ya
know. She's so damned serious all the time, just like her husband.

"I remember when we were kids we'd horse around sometimes. Have some fun
ya know? When she finally reached legal age, I'd take her out for a beer
every now and then. She could always loosen up with a beer. Shit, she'd
even smoke a cigarette every now and then. But now? Too damned serious
and too damned wrapped up in the damned quest for the truth.

"But today, today was like old times. Everyone had some brew and loosened
up and we talked and laughed like before," he said.

"Like before when?" Skinner asked.

"Like before she'd become an FBI agent. Everything was okay before she'd
joined the Bureau," he said obstinately.

"From what I remember in discussions with her, Dana's recollections of the
'good ol' days' with you weren't quite as rosy as what you're painting,"
he said. "Don't you remember anything about what you talked about after
you and your moronic friends beat the crap out of Mulder and put him in
the hospital? She forgave you back then, Bill, but don't expect her to

"Yeah, well today you would have never guessed there ever was a problem,
Walter," he said pouting.

"Bill, how much did everyone have to drink?" Skinner asked seriously.

"How the hell should I know?" he asked annoyed.

"You paid the tab, how much was the bar bill?" Skinner pressed.

"Why? You wanna do a credit check?" Bill responded angrily.

"Bill, how much did you have to drink?" Skinner asked through clenched

"What the hell are you talking about?" Bill replied raging.

"You know perfectly well what I'm talking about, you God damned asshole.
You were fucking drunk when you got behind the wheel of that car, weren't

"Did they do a breathalyzer test on you? I bet they did, and I bet you
failed miserably, didn't you? Didn't you, you fucking asshole! When the
hell are you going to learn to be responsible?" Walter responded in a
quiet fury.

Before Bill could respond, the door opened to the waiting room, and Mulder
walked in. He took one look at his boss and his brother-in-law and knew
something wasn't entirely right between them. He was so tired and drained
at the moment though, he knew he didn't have the strength to become
embroiled in their disagreement. He had too much other shit on his mind.

"Hey. Dana's asleep. I looked in on Tara also, Bill and she's down for
the count too. Sir? I was going to go visit Mom in a little while, but I
wanted to take a few minutes to look over the file again. I promised the
DC group I'd get back to them within the hour. Maybe you should go let
Mom know Tara and Dana are sleeping now. I'll join you in a little while,
after I've had a chance to call in, okay?" Mulder suggested.

"Yeah, that's probably a good idea, Mulder. I'll tell her you'll be
joining us within the half hour, okay?" Skinner answered.

"That sounds reasonable. Thanks, Sir," Mulder said.

Walter stood up to leave, but not before giving Bill Scully one hard look.
Skinner wanted to make sure Bill knew the discussion was far from over,
and Bill had better be prepared to continue it in the near future. Just
not around Mulder. Not yet at any rate.

End of part 2/3

Disclaimers in part 1

Part 3/3

Mulder sat down with a heavy sigh as he tried to gather the material in as
inconspicuous manner as possible. He didn't want to have to explain it to
Bill Scully. He just wanted to study it, and then call in to the VCU

"Walter says you have a ninety per cent solve rate with your profiles.
Pretty impressive," Bill offered.

"Yeah, well, it's all in a day's work, ya know?" Mulder mumbled. He felt
so tired. He was also worried about Dana. She was in a lot of pain
earlier, and he was worried her kidney was malfunctioning. So, apparently
were the doctors, since they'd made a point of taking data on her urine
output and the amount of blood that was mixed in with it.

"Bill, I need about twenty minutes of quiet so I can check this
information out. Then I'll be able to call in the office, and then we can
go visit Mom together, okay?" Mulder asked seriously.

Bill nodded quietly, and Mulder opened up the file. There was something
in the picture, staring right at him, but he couldn't see it. Mulder
hated when he was so sure there was a piece of evidence that could tell
the entire story, staring him in the face, yet he was blind to it.

He scrutinized each picture carefully. There were six photos of the
latest crime scene, plus one of each of the previous three victims which
Mulder had requested. As he noted each picture he searched for the
pattern that would lead him to the ultimate clue that unmask their UNSUB.

The hands. Oh God. Their hands. Each hand was in a different position,
but seemingly purposely placed. Why? And then the answer came to him.
It was that sudden. But he didn't have all of the answers and needed help
on this one.

"Hey Bill, you don't by any chance know sign language, do you?" he asked,
hoping for a quick miracle.

"Sign language? No, sorry," he responded.

"Too bad," Mulder answered back. He pulled out his laptop from his
briefcase. He switched it on and logged on to the internet.

"Mind if I ask why?" asked Bill.

"I think that's how our UNSUB is letting us know who he is," Mulder
answered. "He forms the letters of the alphabet using manual sign
language on the victim's hands."

"Jeeze, Mulder, what the hell would make you think of that?" Bill asked
in amazement.

"I don't always know, Bill. Sometimes, like tonight, I'm looking at a
photo waiting for the evidence to jump out at me and tell me what I should
be looking for. I guess tonight, I got lucky again."

Mulder looked away and typed into the search engine, "manual alphabet,
sign language". He waited a minute or two and when he saw the suggested
sites come up, chose the most apt one and clicked on it.

"Bingo," he said aloud to himself. Mulder studied the pictorial
representations of the manual alphabet and figured out the letters on each
hand of the four victims he had photos of. There were two letters per
victim, and Mulder translated the first victim's hand positions as "E" and

The second victim's hands were formed in the letters of "A" and "F". The
third victim's hands were molded into the letters "C" and "S", while the
fourth victim's hands were shaped in the letters "O" and "H."

"Oh God, this is so dammed obvious, why the hell didn't I see this before?
Dammit! Why didn't I see it earlier?" Mulder cried out.

Bill looked at Mulder and asked, "What's wrong, Mulder? Didn't you figure
out the clues?"

"Yes, I think I figured it out. I think I know who our killer is too.
Bill, I've got to make a phone call," Mulder said as he pulled out his
cell phone. He dialed in and spoke with the ASAC.

"Yes, you've got to check out Harold Everett. He's the custodian at the
Georgetown School for the Deaf. Remember? He was one of the first
witnesses you had interviewed and dismissed because he was deaf?

"The man is tired of being dismissed in life because of his deafness.
Please. Run a stakeout by his place. He's going to kill again. He needs
two more letters to spell, "DEAF SCHOOL."

He was positive he'd pegged the UNSUB. He had fit his profile to a tee.
Everyone had dismissed him early on because of his disability, the one
trait that defined the very reason for his rampage.

The ASAC informed Mulder they would set up the stakeout immediately. He
hung up without so much as a thank you very much. Mulder was too tired
and too relieved to care.

Mulder replaced his cell phone in his pocket and sat back in the chair.
He closed his eyes for a moment and tried to take a deep breath, but ended
up emitting a small sob instead.

"Mulder? You okay, man?" asked Bill, unsure as to what he should do.

Mulder opened his eyes immediately. He was so tired, he'd forgotten he
wasn't alone in the room. "I'm fine, Bill. I'm just tired, that's all."

"So you think that Everett guy is the one, huh?" Bill asked.

"Yes. I'm sure he's the one."

"That's pretty damned amazing, Mulder," said Bill in admiration.

"Four young women died, Bill, because some poor shmuck couldn't get it up
because people didn't take him serious because of his deafness. Ain't
nothing amazing about that," he said wearily.

"But it'll stop at four, Mulder. There won't be a fifth 'cause you
figured out the clues. No one else noticed it. Just you. I'd say that's
pretty amazing," Bill pointed out.

"Yeah, well, if I'd seen it a little earlier, maybe it wouldn't have been
as many as four, you know?" Mulder contradicted.

"Mulder, you can allow yourself a little satisfaction here, you know? You
solved a case, for crying out loud. Be pleased about that," Bill
admonished. "Man, what I wouldn't give to trade places with you in order
to feel that kind of accomplishment."

"Trade your life for mine? Funny, there was a time when I would have
jumped at such a chance, Bill, but no more. Even with all of my demons,
I've never been happier. Never," Mulder said softly, almost to himself.

"I want to do a quick check on Dana and then we'll go see Mom, okay?"
Mulder asked. Bill nodded yes, and after Mulder gathered his materials,
they walked out of the waiting room to check in on their wives.


Mulder looked at his sleeping wife and then kissed her gently on the
forehead. A nurse had walked in to check her the urine bag and when he
asked her how she was doing, the nurse stated there was no change. "No
better, but no worse, Mr. Mulder."

Mulder held her hand for a few minutes and then kissed her again before he
left her room. He next walked into Tara's room and saw Bill was in much
the same position Mulder had just been in while in Scully's room.

"How's she doing?" Mulder whispered.

"She's holding her own. She's been in a little pain, but the medication
seems to help her endure it. How's Dana doing?" Bill returned.

"No change. They're still concerned about her kidney, but she hasn't
gotten any worse, at least. I'm going to go see Mom. I haven't been down
there since I arrived. Do you want to join me, or do you want to stay up
here?" Mulder asked.

"No, I'll go with you. We'll just leave word at the nurse's station we'll
be down on the third floor visiting my mother," answered Bill.

Mulder nodded in agreement, though mentally shook his head in frustration
over Bill's small slight. *He still has trouble sharing, doesn't he?* he
thought, as his words 'visiting _my_ mother' reverberated in his head. *I
guess some things never change,* he thought silently.


Maggie's face lit up when they walked in the door. She said hello again
to Bill, but reached out for Mulder. "Fox," she cried out in hushed
tones, "I'm so glad you're here."

"Me too, Mom. Me too," he responded and melted into her embrace. "I'm so
sorry you were hurt. So, so sorry."

"I'll be fine. How is Dana?" she asked anxiously.

"She's holding her own, Mom. The doctor's concerned about her kidney, but
they're monitoring it carefully. So far there's been no major change, so
as long as it doesn't get any worse, that's good news," he comforted.

"Thank God. I wish I could go see her," she whimpered.

"I know, Mom, but she's sleeping now, and that's really the best thing for
her. By the way, has anyone had a chance to call home to find out how the
kids are? And if not the kids, at least to check to make sure the baby
sitter is still in one piece?" Mulder asked.

Maggie chuckled for the first time since this afternoon. "As a matter of
fact Walter and I checked in about a half hour ago. I didn't have a
phone, but Walter had his cell phone handy. Wonderful thing, technology,
isn't it? They're fine, Fox. Adam is fine, since he's got his cousins to
play with."

"Is Mrs. Charles able to stay over? I would really like to be nearby Dana
tonight," said Mulder.

"Yes, she said it wasn't a problem. She said just because she doesn't
like to drive at night, doesn't mean she's incapable of baby sitting at
night. She said they're all fine, and not to worry about them at all.

"Bill, is there any change in Tara's condition?" Maggie asked.

"No, she's holding her own too, Mom, and also sound asleep," he answered.

"Which is probably what you should be doing too, young lady," exhorted
Walter Skinner. "I want you well rested since I have a feeling you're
going to be very busy traveling between rooms tomorrow."

"What time is it anyway?" Maggie asked.

"Pacific or Eastern Standard time?" asked Mulder.

"It's nine thirty, pacific coast time," Bill offered.

"And it's twelve thirty real time," Mulder said with a chuckle. "The boss
is right, Mom, you really should try to get some rest. We'll be here
bright and early with breakfast, okay?"

"I think I'm outnumbered. Okay, you win. But I want a decent cup of
coffee and a bagel with cream cheese by seven thirty tomorrow morning, is
that clear?" she asked smiling, but then added more seriously, "And if
there's any change in my daughters' conditions, one of you will come and
let me know, won't you?"

"Of course we will, Maggie. Now get some rest, please, sweetheart,"
Walter said. He bent down and kissed her softly on the lips. "I promise
to be here bright and early with coffee and a bagel. Sweet dreams,


Walter and Mulder walked back to the ICU on the fifth floor, while Bill
went to scout out some food from the local Seven-Eleven. Walter asked
Mulder about the case. Mulder said he thought it might be solved.

"What?" Skinner said. "What do you mean _solved_?"

"Just that. Solved. I called into DC with the name of the perp. They
said good, they'd get a stakeout up and running, and then promptly hung
up. You know, the usual lack of accolades," Mulder said cynically.

"Well, it must be of great relief to you," Skinner said.

"Yes, Sir. It's hard for me to concentrate on more than one crisis at a
time," he retorted, but at seeing Skinner's surprised expression, added, "
I'm sorry, Sir. I'm tired. I didn't mean to be curt with you."

"Mulder, it's okay. I really didn't take offense. And in case you didn't
realize it, I'm grateful to you and proud of you for solving the damned
case, even if the ass holes in VCU don't recognize your part in it."
Mulder nodded and accepted the compliment without comment.

Bill Scully returned with some sandwiches, chips, and drinks. Walter and
Mulder accepted the food gratefully, as neither had anything to eat since
the airline meal.

Mulder hadn't even realized how hungry he was until he took the first
bite. Once he began, he found it difficult to stop long enough to come up
for air.

"Mulder, take it easy, man. You're going to choke!" Bill proclaimed.

Mulder looked up from his place and nodded. "Sorry, I just didn't realize
how hungry I was," he explained. "I don't eat much when I'm on a VCU

"No shit," chimed in Skinner.

"Yeah, well, I got a quick glance at the photos from your case. Can't say
as I blame you for wanting to avoid food for a while," Bill said. "Damn,
I thought I was going to upchuck my lunch."

Bill took a bite out of his hero and scarfed down a handful of chips as
well. He then picked up the paper bag which held his drink and proceeded
to take a swig out of it.

Skinner simply glared at him and then said, "You've got to be kidding."

"What ?" Bill responded.

"You've got a fucking beer in that bag, don't you?" Skinner accused.

"Oh, for Christ's sake, Walter. Let's not make a mountain out of a
molehill here, okay?"

"Bill, you're family nearly got killed today because of your fucking
beer!" Skinner charged.

Mulder looked up in a daze upon hearing Skinner's words. "What do you
mean, Sir?"

"Mulder, I'm sorry. I didn't mean for you to find out just yet, but there
was more than one drunk who helped cause this accident. Before I went
down to Maggie's earlier, I made a phone call to the Lakeside P.D.

"I once again spoke with the very efficient Officer Alberts who informed
me the two drivers who failed their breathalyzer tests were the driver
accelerating onto the freeway, and the driver who was trying to move over
to the right to get off of the freeway.

"That would be me," Bill admitted contritely.

Mulder looked up at him with amazement. And disgust. "When were you
planning on letting me in on this little fact, Bill? God damn it, Bill!
What the hell's wrong with you? That was my wife, your sister in the car
with you! And your own wife! And Mom! Jeeze, Bill! What's wrong with

"I mean everyone says I try to self-destruct, but I'm crazy. I mean,
shit, you saw the kind of work I deal with. I have a ready made excuse.
But Bill, you're not crazy. You're just stupid!

"And fucking irresponsible! How could get into a car knowing you were
drunk? How could you do that to Mom? To Dana? To Tara, your own wife?
Jeeze, Bill! Oh God, they were nearly killed, Bill. They were nearly
killed, and for what? For fucking what? So you could get a buzz on at

"Oh God, I've got to get out of here, because if I stay in this room with
you one more minute I will kill you myself. I've gotta get out of here,"
Mulder cried out and stormed out of the room.

Skinner sat very quietly, wondering if he should go after Mulder. No, he
decided he'd much rather sit and watch the ass hole stew in his own shit.

"You are one dumb ass mother fucker, you know that Bill?" Skinner asked.
"I mean what ever possessed you to bring a can of beer in here tonight,
knowing what _I_ knew about the police report? Want to tell me how
Maggie Scully produced such a total moron?"

"I didn't know how to tell any of you. I didn't know how to admit it to
him or to you," Bill murmured.

"So you decided you would let the cat out of the bag by bringing a can in
the bag?" Skinner retorted. "You amaze me, Bill. I would really like to
beat the crap out of you, in the hopes it would knock some sense into you,
but I don't think it would help, and I'm too damned tired to go to the
trouble anyway."

Skinner got up in disgust and left Bill Scully sitting in the room, alone.


Skinner had checked the men's room first, but didn't find Mulder in there,
so he walked directly to Dana's room. He found him sitting in the chair,
holding her hand.

"How's she doing, Mulder?"

"Still no change, but the nurse said that's actually good news. The longer
there's no change, the less likely they'll have to go back in to repair
the kidney. She's been whimpering a little though. I think she's hurting
a little," Mulder shared.

"I'm sure your being here will ease her pain somewhat," Skinner comforted
as he pulled up another chair next to sit next him.

"I hope so," Mulder prayed aloud. "God, why in God's name did he do it?
Why did he get in the car when he knew he was drunk?"

"I can only think he didn't believe he was drunk, Mulder."

"Actually, Sir, I _have_ to believe that. Because if I ever found out he
knowingly got behind that wheel too drunk to drive, I will kill him. God,
I could have lost her because of him. I could have lost Mom. Tara. He
didn't even think of his own wife! What a family!

"Yeah, what a family," he thought aloud. *Shit,* Skinner thought to
himself. *Shit, shit, shit. Family. _My_ family. Somebody's got to
talk some sense into that idiot,* he convinced himself. "Mulder, I'll be
right back. Stay here with Dana. I'll be back in a little bit. There's
something I've got to do."

Mulder looked tiredly at him, and though he was a little curious as to
what the man hoped to get accomplished at ten thirty p.m. in a hospital,
he was too drained to ask. Mulder figured he could follow Skinner's
directions, to just stay with his wife, a helluva lot more easily.


Skinner mumbled and grumbled and cursed to himself the entire way back to
the waiting room. When he arrived at the door, he took a deep breath and
then banged the door open, loudly.

When he entered the room, Skinner found just what he expected to find.
Bill Scully was sitting in the chair, the brown bag clutched in his hand.

"Bill, you need help," he said in a firm voice.

"I don't need anything," replied the dejected voice.

"Like hell you don't!" Skinner scorched back. "Look at you. You're
sitting in a hospital waiting room because your wife, your sister, and
your mother were in a car accident that your drunkenness played a major
role in."

"It wasn't my fault. I didn't cause the accident," he replied

"You may not have caused it, Bill, but your reflexes were so fucked up
from the alcohol, there was nothing you could have done to prevent it
either," Skinner replied evenly.

"I didn't see him. He was driving too fast. If I'd seen him, I wouldn't
have tried to switch lanes," he said helplessly.

"I know that, but you were legally drunk. You couldn't react quickly
enough, because your body's reflexes were depressed. Bill, you have a
problem. You need to get help," Skinner reiterated.

"It was just a luncheon, for Christ's sake," Bill cried out.

"Was it just a luncheon when you got drunk and nearly beat your
brother-in-law to death?" Skinner retorted.

Bill looked up at him, stunned. "How can you compare that time to this
one?" he asked incredulously.

"How can you not see the link?" Skinner responded in kind. "Bill, you and
alcohol do not belong on the same planet together, much less in the same
room. You can't handle it. You don't know when to stop, and if you keep
drinking, it's going to get someone killed.

"Bill," Skinner continued passionately, "the kids could have been in the
car with you. Their smaller bodies might not have withstood the impact.
Don't you see? If your judgment was impaired when it came to dealing with
your wife, sister and mother, who's to say it won't be diminished when
driving your own kids?

"Bill, you need help."

"I don't know if I can do this," Bill answered.

"You don't have a choice. Actually, you probably won't have a choice,
unless you want to see jail time," Skinner said seriously.


"Your arraignment is tomorrow morning at nine o'clock. Remember?" Skinner

"Oh. You know about that, huh?" Bill replied uneasily.

"Yes, I know about it," Skinner confessed. "Officer Alberts informed me
of that little fact too. When were you planning on mentioning it?"

"I__, I don't know. I guess I wasn't planning on telling anyone. I was
hoping __," Bill tried to explained.

"__Hoping it would go away. Bill, this is serious. You have a record,
for crying out loud, related to the drinking. Mulder dropped the felony
charges, but the misdemeanor charges stood. The DA could ask for jail
time and get it, if the judge is unsympathetic," Skinner pointed out.

"Oh God, Walter. I can't go to jail. I didn't mean___, I never
wanted___. Christ, we went out to lunch! We had a fucking good time! It
was a God damned lunch!" Bill shouted out in frustration.

"A lunch where you got drunk! Bill, you got higher than a kite, along
with everyone else at that table. But you were the one who was planning
on driving. You were the one who needed to be responsible and put the
keys back in the pocket, and call a cab. But you didn't, Bill. You were
too drunk to even realize you were impaired.

"Bill, you need help," Skinner implored.

"I know. Dammit, I know, but I'm ____," he began.

"I know you're scared. Bill, you're family stood behind you once before.
They'll do it again. We'll help you. __I'll__ help you," Skinner
offered sincerely.

"Why? Why would you do that?" Bill asked.

"You really have to ask?" Skinner responded. When he saw Bill's face
wearing a mask of confusion, he realized the poor guy really didn't have a

"Bill," Skinner began, "I love your mother very much. I want her to be
happy, and seeing you get help would make her very happy. I would do
anything to make her happy."

"Walter? I need a favor. A big favor," Bill said.

"I'll go with you to the arraignment, Bill, and then we'll find a local
chapter of AA. Do you understand what I'm saying?" Skinner asked
intently. "I am committed to this family, and I will commit myself to
helping you get help. But you've got to make a commitment too, Bill. You
have to make the decision you want the help. You decide 'yes', and I'll
be with you every step of the way."

"I can't believe you would do that for me, after all the trouble I
caused," Bill sighed.

"Family supports family, Bill. Remember that," Walter said as he placed a
firm hand on Bill's shoulder.

"Thank you, Walter," Bill said, and with that, Walter stood up and left
the room.

Walter stood by the door watching Mulder watch Dana. The love he saw in
the younger man's eyes were beyond anything he'd ever witnessed. Walter
cleared his throat softly to let Mulder know he was there.

"Did you kill him for me?" asked Mulder, in a tone that was just short of
total seriousness.

"Almost. I told him I'd go with him to his arraignment tomorrow with him,
though," Skinner responded, unsure as to what Mulder's reaction would be.

"You should have killed him for me first, then go to the arraignment,"
Mulder replied.

"Yeah, but then the arraignment would have been for me, and that wouldn't
have accomplished anything, now would it?" Skinner said with a hint of a

"You think he'll finally get some help?" Mulder asked quietly.

"He will if I have anything to say about it," Skinner retorted.

"It's good of you to go with him, Sir," Mulder responded sincerely.

"Yeah, well__," Skinner hesitated at the compliment. Then he
moved and plopped himself in the chair next to Mulder's. "This is one
helluva family, isn't it Mulder?"

"What do you mean?" the younger man asked.

"Oh, just that there never seems to be a dull moment, that's all," Skinner

"There does seem to be a crisis every five minutes, doesn't there? Of
course, most of the time it's because of me," he admitted reluctantly.
"But I mean, when you consider we face some kind of a trauma about once
every four to six months, it's kind of amazing you're still here, Sir,"
Mulder commented.

"What do you mean?" Skinner asked.

"Oh, you know. I fell head over heals in love with Scully and couldn't
trade this family in even if I want to. You still have a chance to escape
the craziness," Mulder explained.

"No, I don't think so, Fox."

Mulder's head jerked up at the sound of his given name. "Why, Sir?"

"I'm head over heals in love with Maggie. I didn't realize how much until
I got that phone call and didn't know for sure if she was dead or alive.
I won't leave California without asking her to marry me, Fox. I won't
take the chance of losing her before she knows just how much I love her
and need her."

Skinner looked over at Mulder and then asked, "Do you think she'll say

Mulder was overwhelmed. He couldn't believe Walter Skinner was asking his
opinion on something as important, and as personal, as this. "I don't see
how she could say anything but, Sir."

"Fox, may I ask a big favor?"

"Sure, Sir. If I can," Mulder answered.

"Would you stop calling me "Sir" when we're nowhere near the office. If
I'm going to be your father-in-law, I think we can treat one another a
little less formally out of the office, don't you think?"

"Yes, Sir. I mean, what do you want me to call you, Sir?" Mulder asked.

"Walter will do for now, Fox."

"Umm, Walter? May I ask a favor?"

"Sure, if I can," Walter responded.

"Would you not call me Fox," he asked seriously.

"You let Maggie call you Fox," Walter retorted.

"Yeah, but she's __, well she's Mom," Mulder replied somewhat helplessly.

"Oh. So after I marry Mom, do I become Dad?" Walter asked.

"Don't you think that may be pushing the informality a bit, Walter?"
Mulder asked wryly.

"Umm, yeah, probably just a bit, but you never know, do you, Mulder?"
Skinner responded with a smile. "You never know."

End of 3/3

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