Date: Friday, August 06, 1999

Life Cycles 17: The Bonding
By Susan Proto

Part 0/5

Category: MSR (marriage) and Walter/Maggie (marriage), a pinch of angst,
some mild SkinnerTorture (something new under the sun!) ScullyTorture (not
that one…no, not even *that* one <VEG>) and a little MulderTorture thrown in
for good measure.

Rating: PG13 for language! Yes, they cuss. A lot.

Spoilers: Specifically, a really tiny one for Agua Mala and a little one
referring to Tithonus, as well as any ep that ever mentioned baby Matthew…
It's always safe to say up through the season six…

…Now, umm, about *baby* Matthew. I've put my disclaimers into this separate
part to give those of you who don't give a darn about my 'mea culpa'
regarding this universe's timeline an opportunity to bail and go directly to
the story or the delete key. It's always your choice, my friends.

Given the fact that the LC universe has been around for a fairly lengthy
time, I found myself constantly questioning certain 'facts' and story lines
that I'd created in the universe. I knew everyone understood this was an
alternate universe, but still, I felt it was important to try and be
consistent within the universe itself.


As I get older, I find I cannot remember squat, so I decided to reread the
series while I had a little extra time and take the time to write down the
important 'facts.' To be honest, I cringed a few times as I tried to write
down a *consistent* little LC universe bible of sorts. (Now I know why CC &
co. screw up the canon all the time…nobody writes it down for him either! <g>)

This was a good deal harder than I'd ever expected it to be. So, to make an
already very long-winded explanation hopefully a little shorter, I would like
to offer my mea culpa right now over the now very compressed timeline from
which Life Cycles 17 picks up from.

Baby Matthew is no longer a baby, but in fact, is the eldest of three
children in Bill and Tara's family. Devan Scully remains Charlie and Karen
Scully's oldest (yes, he's my plot device and was from almost the beginning
of the universe) and now also has two younger siblings.

Adam is six going on seven, and Dawn is now fourteen months. And LC's
timeline has taken us beyond the summer of 1999 (not by much, but let's just
say they've celebrated the eve of the millenium, and then some, okay?)
Number 17 is, however, set during the summer.

May I offer a suggestion to those of you who are planning to write a series?
If you haven't started one yet, you might want to create a timeline with
important characters and events listed. The ol' memory may not be as
accurate as you hope it to be. I'll be doing the same for Abah and the
Barbecue Series.

Hopefully you'll find any discrepancies only a minor inconvenience that does
not detract from your enjoyment of the story. Thanks in advance for your

Okay, back to business.

Summary: While Scully goes out with the girls, Mulder gets a chance to bond
with the boys. Oh joy.

Archive: Yes.

Disclaimer: Fox Mulder, Dana, Maggie Scully, Walter Skinner, Tara Scully and
Charles Scully belong to 10/13 productions and Chris Carter (though CC hasn't
done anything with Charlie, so I'm real tempted to renege on *that*
particular disclaimer…DO something with him, Chris! Please!)

Adam and Dawn Mulder, Karen Scully, The Goldfarb family , and any other
character you don't recognize are 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. I haven't
earned a red cent for writing this tale, so don't please, don't sue.

Introduction: This is the next story in the series, (and yes, I gave up on
the Roman Numerals. It's just easier to read than XVII.) The story picks up
on the LC alternate universe timeline (see above) and it would most likely be
helpful to read the stories that precede this one.

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

And to Vickie Moseley, our own, brand new government bureaucrat, (MAZEL TOV,
again, sweetie!! Remember the mantra!) I want to express a whole lot of
thanks for helping me pick through the confusion and giving me the moral
support to finish the story.

Feedback: I'd love it. I really do try to get back to everyone who writes
in a timely manner. Sometimes, however, my personal timeline gets mucky, and
for those who haven't heard from me yet, accept my apologies and request for
patience. I still have some emails that I know I NEED to respond to. I
will, I promise!



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

"Paper is more patient than people."- Anne Frank

End of 0/5

Life Cycles 17: The Bonding
by Susan Proto (

Disclaimers in Part 0/5

Part 1/5

"Scully," he said with only a hint of a whine, "you can't possibly think this
is really a good idea."

"Okay, Mulder, are you now going to give me reason number 427 why you
shouldn't join the guys for an afternoon of male bonding?" she replied
teasingly. She knew this wasn't going to be the easiest afternoon her
husband would ever spend, so she wanted to treat the topic as lightly as
possible. However, she also knew if there was a way for him to weasel out of
this afternoon, he would, and there was no way she was going to let him get
out of the commitment.

"Well for one, it's not gonna just be males," he responded with a wry smile.

"Females under the age of twelve do not count, Mulder. And your daughter
only just passed her first birthday, so forget it!" Scully looked at her
husband and decided to bring in the big guns. Sometimes a timely placed
tidbit of 'guilt' never hurt.

"I can't believe you'd begrudge me this time with the girls," she admonished,
though she was careful to say it with a smile. She knew if she presented it
too seriously, Mulder's penchant for taking on the woes of the world would
take hold of him and absolutely prevent him from finding any joy whatsoever
in the day's activities.

"I'm not begrudging you anything! I just don't see why I have to spend time
with the guys, while you go and have your little reunion with the girls," he
replied indignantly, though he knew Scully was teasing him, well mostly, at
any rate.

"Because those _guys_ include my brothers who would like the opportunity to
spend some time with their nephew and baby niece, that's why!"

"My point exactly," he muttered a little too loudly.

"What did you say, dear?" she asked a little too innocently.

"Look, I can drop the kids off at Mom's house, and your brothers can visit
with them as much as they want!" Mulder replied in a tone a little less
lighthearted than he'd wanted.

"Oh, go ahead! Just dump our children off with my brothers," Scully replied
with a chuckle in an attempt to ease her husband's anxiety.

"Well, Walter would be there," he replied defensively, as he realized he must
have sounded like a heartless beast. He looked at his wife and took a deep
breath, but remained silent.

"But it was Mom and Walter's idea that we do this. Mom wants to treat all of
the girls to lunch at the mall, and to give us a bit of a break from the
children. And Walter is treating you guys and the kids to lunch and fun at
the KiddieGym. He really wants a chance to get to know the other grandkids,
but with Mom around, that's not always possible," she reminded him.

"I'm sorry," he said contritely.

"For what?" she asked with a small sigh, thinking she'd made him feel a
little more guilty than she'd intended.

"For worrying about something that hasn't even happened yet," he replied
honestly, though, at this point, Scully wasn't sure what he was referring to.

When he saw the confused expression on her face, Mulder explained, "It's just
that you know when ever Bill and I get together, it seems as though someone
gets hurt. Oh, and by the way, that someone usually ends up being me." He
smiled as he watched Scully's lips curl up into a small smile as well.

"Mulder, that's ridiculous," she replied.

"Is it?"

"Of course it is!" she laughed. "Now, you are going to meet the guys at the
KiddieGym at noon. Richard will be there as well as Walter to protect you
from my brothers, right? Besides, you actually like Charlie, don't you?" she
asked curiously.

"Yes, I like Charlie. But that doesn't negate the fact that Bill and I will
be in the same room, Scully. It's difficult enough when we're in the same
zip code, much less the same room," he replied exasperated.

"Oh, Mulder, be brave. What could possibly happen?"

He rolled her eyes at her, but before he could tick off the many
possibilities, she put her finger to his lips and continued, "There's a pizza
parlor and ice cream shop in the same shopping area as the KiddieGym. If
you're a good boy, Mulder, I'm sure Walter will spring for a slice of pizza,
and if you're really, really good, he might even buy you an ice cream, too."

She patted his head teasingly for effect and then added, "I've got to get
ready. I'm supposed to pick up Leslie and meet Mom, Karen, and Tara at the
mall in less than an hour!"

"Fine. Send me to my doom," he began melodramatically, "but if something
happens to me, I'm laying the blame on you, Scully!"

She waved him off as she entered their bedroom to change.


Bill and Charlie were the first to arrive at the KiddieGym site. Walter
wasn't there as yet, since he'd taken his own car. The minivan Bill had
rented was only large enough to accommodate the two fathers and all of their
kids. There were the car seats for Bill's youngest, John, and Charlie's
youngest, Caitlin (both going through the terrible twos stage,) as well as
Bill's older two, Matthew (age 12) and Meghan (age 10), and Charlie's older
son, Devan (age 9) and daughter, Allison (4).

The oldest of the Scully third generation was rather indignant that he was
being forced to join in what he considered childish frivolity until his
father appealed to the pre-teen's more mercenary side and offered him ten
bucks to help out with his sister and cousins.

Bill added, "And if you do a really good job, there's an extra ten in it for
you." Matthew, never one to pass up a business opportunity, changed his
attitude very quickly.

"Dad, look! Is that a video arcade over next to the pizza shop?"

Upon seeing his father nod in agreement, young Matthew Scully emitted a
joyious, "YES!" and did a little bit of a happy dance at the discovery of
this new good fortune. The day was not going to be totally lame after all.

"Dad, can we have some money for the arcade? I'll take Meggie and Devan with
me," he offered.

"Me too! I wanna go play video games too!" cried out four year old Allison.

"No, you're too young, Ali. Next time," declared the preteen, but not

"Take Ali too," Bill said.

When Charlie saw his nephew's exasperated expression, he said "Just for a
little while, okay? She'll get bored with it within fifteen, twenty minutes
tops, and then you can bring her back into the KiddieGym. Please?"

Matthew nodded in acquiescence, smiled, and then quickly took the twenty his
Uncle Charlie offered him.

When Mulder pulled up into the parking lot, he saw Bill and Charlie waiting
with their younger kids. Richard Goldfarb, his best 'normal' friend, pulled
in the same time as he did. The two men greeted one another as they unloaded
their children and assorted paraphernalia.

As the children chattered amicably with one another, Mulder said earnestly to
Richard, "I want to thank you again for coming along. I know this may not be
the easiest of outings to endure."

"Does Bill know I'm going to be here?" asked Richard. "He may not be too
happy to see me." Richard was recalling the time he was Bill Scully's Public
Defender against assault and bias crime charges.

"Nah, he'll be thrilled to see you. You got him off, remember?" replied
Mulder. "Now, _me_, well, that's another question entirely."

Richard nodded but didn't' respond, because he didn't know how to respond.
He, himself, had nutty in-laws, but even with their eccentricities they all
got along. Richard knew that was not the case with Mulder and his
brother-in-law. For some reason, the animosity between the two remained

He was pretty sure there were no hard feelings between the younger Scully
brother and Mulder; at least Mulder never spoke of any. Bill, though, was
another story.

"I guess Walter's not here yet," Mulder said with a little disappointment.
He was counting on Walter, as well as Richard, to act as a buffer between
himself and Bill. Richard nodded and then both men walked towards the
waiting Scully brothers.

"Hey, Mulder," greeted Charlie with a smile and an extended hand. "Richard,
it's good to see you again, too.

Mulder was relieved to hear the warmth in Charlie's voice. He'd have three
people to act as a buffer. Of course, if he hadn't taken a quick peek at
Bill's reaction to Charlie's greeting, Mulder might have retained that warm
and fuzzy feeling. Unfortunately he saw Bill's look of disdain and once
again felt his brother-in-law's coldness.

Mulder wanted to reach out and grasp Charlie's outstretched hand, but he was
weighed down by holding Adam's hand in his right hand and fourteen-month-old
Dawn in his left. Her diaper bag was in danger of falling off his shoulder
and batting poor Adam in the face.

"Sorry," Charlie said when he realized Mulder didn't have a free one to
shake. "Can I help you out here?"

"Nah, I'm okay. Hey, Adam," Mulder said as he looked down at his six year
old son, "Do you remember your Uncle Charlie __, and Uncle Bill?"


"Adam? What do you do when you to greet someone?" prodded Mulder.

"Oh," the child said and then extended his hand and said, "Hello, Uncle
Charlie. It's nice to see you again." He shook his Charlie's hand and then
repeated the greeting with Bill.

"So, how long have you been practicing that?" asked Charlie with a smile.
"I'm impressed!"

"Yeah, Mulder, you got him trained pretty good," interjected Bill. From
anyone else, Mulder wouldn't have taken offence; yet this was Billy offering
his opinion, and Mulder didn't know any other way responding to him.

Before Mulder could say anything, however, Richard quickly offered his hand
to both of the brothers and greeted them politely. He then introduced his
two children, ten and a half year old Rachael and six year old Jason. The
children smiled politely and said hello.

"Where are the rest of the kids?" asked Mulder.

"Oh, Matthew discovered the video arcade, so he took the older guys over
there for a bit."

"Daddy?" asked Rachael, "May I go over to the arcade too?"

"Well, I don't know, Rache. I don't know if I like the idea of you being on
your own in there," replied Richard.

"Listen, Richard, my son Matthew is a pretty responsible kid," and when he
saw just a mere hint of a raised eyebrow on Richard's face, he added, "even
if his dad isn't always. He'll keep an eye on her. Honestly."

When Richard looked first to Charlie and then to Mulder, he saw both men nod
slightly in agreement, which eased his mind about sending her. "Okay,
sweetheart, I'll walk you over."

"Just look for a slightly smaller version of Bill, and you'll find Matt. I
doubt you'll be able to miss him," instructed Charlie.

He nodded his thanks and told Jason to wait with Adam and his Uncle Mulder.
The little boy didn't argue, as he was looking forward to going on the giant
trampoline inside the KiddieGym.

As he watched Richard walk Rachael over to the arcade, Mulder noted,
"Walter's not here yet, huh?" Just then, like a knight in shining armor,
Walter pulled up in the large, cream-colored, Cadillac. Ever since he'd
rented one on the ill-fated Chicago trip that past December, he'd vowed to
treat himself and his long legs when his lease was up on the Taurus. It was,
he did, and he's been treating the car almost as if it were one of the
grandkids ever since.

"Hello, everyone," he called out. "Hi Jason and Little G-Man!"

Bill looked at his mother's husband with surprise. "What's with the
nickname?" he asked with annoyance. It was bad enough his sister insisted
upon subjecting herself to potential danger all of the time, but to glorify
it and encourage his young, impressionable, nephew was almost too much.

"Oh, Adam went and earned the title when he helped his mother and me locate
his Daddy last December. It was a scary time, wasn't it Little G-man, but
you came through with flying colors!"

"I remember hearing something about that," Charlie said, "but Mom never did
go into too much detail on exactly how they found you."

Mulder smiled slightly at his father-in-law and son. Since it was his long,
deceased, grandmother, Nana, who supplied most of the information while she
appeared in her apparition's form to Adam, it wasn't surprising to him that
Maggie wouldn't go into great detail with her sons.

"Let's just say it was the miracle of the holiday seasons and leave it at
that," interjected Walter with a smile. Then looking at Mulder, he asked,
"How's the leg?"

Mulder automatically flexed his leg, the one that was broken in two places
during that same horrible experience, and replied, "Good as new. I had my
final follow-up checkup yesterday, as a matter of fact." Upon seeing the
smirk on Skinner's face, he responded in kind, "Oh, I guess you knew about
that, huh?"

"That's why I was asking," agreed Skinner.

"Yeah, well, I've been given my walking papers. Literally and figuratively,"
replied Mulder with a very happy grin.

"Daddy, now that Gam-pa's here, can we go in now?" asked a now impatient
Adam. Though Adam was now a very mature six-year-old, the toddler nicknames
for his grandparents had stuck. Even his best friends, Jason and Rachael
Goldfarb, still referred to Walter and Maggie Skinner as Gam-pa and Gam-ma.

"Sure," answered Walter, "but I just need to run over to the bank for a
minute. I didn't have a chance to do it this morning. From what I
understand, KiddieGyms do not come cheaply, and my wife has informed me this
is supposed to be on us, so put your wallets away boys, and I'll be back in
two minutes. Adam, can you hold out just a couple of more minutes while I
run over there to use the ATM?"

The little boy nodded, and turned to his baby sister, baby cousins, and best
buddy, Jason. "Well guys, looks like we gotta hold out a little bit longer."

Caitlin, Charlie's youngest daughter, squealed in delight at the sudden
attention her big cousin suddenly paid her, and little John quickly joined in
the toddler chatter. Dawn continued to look around with her huge blue eyes,
the only trait that reminded everyone she was Scully's daughter. Otherwise,
she was the spitting image of Samantha Mulder at that age.

The men stood about interacting more with the children than with one another,
when Richard returned from one direction and Walter from the other.

"You were right, it wasn't hard to figure out which were the Scully brood at
all," said Richard chuckling. "I've never seen so many red heads in one room

"Oh, nice to see you Richard," greeted Skinner as he offered his hand in

"Same here, Walter. Are we good to go?" he responded wth a shake of his hand.

Walter nodded and then led the group into the KiddieGym.

End of Part 1/5
Life Cycles 17: The Bonding
By Susan Proto (

Disclaimers in part 0/5

Part 2/5

After giving their fathers a perfunctory tour of the KiddieGym areas, the
boys immediately gravitated toward the huge trampoline. Mulder had never
brought Adam to the KiddieGym before, but Dana had been there in the past
with Leslie Goldfarb and Jason. Mulder was impressed with the number of
staff employed to ensure the safety of the children. While he remained with
Dawn in the baby/toddler section, Richard followed the boys over to the

Adam and Jason stood in their place and waited for their turn on the
trampoline. They'd already informed the KiddieGym helper they wanted to go
on together if that were possible. Linda, the staff member, assured the boys
it was, and it wouldn't be too much longer before they had their turn.

The little guys couldn't contain themselves any longer and jumped up and down
in glee over that great news. They were high-fiving Richard and giggling

Mulder looked over immediately from the toddler section, as he was able to
pick out his son's laughter from anywhere. Charlie and Bill, who were
standing nearby with their toddlers as well, followed Mulder's line of sight
as well. Charlie was the first to remark, ''It's nice Adam has such a good
friend. Jason seems to be a good kid."

"He is, Charlie. Adam's a lucky guy. Hell, we're all lucky to still have
Jason in our lives," Mulder said.

"Oh, jeeze! That's the little boy who had leukemia, right?" remembered
Charlie, to which Mulder nodded in the affirmative.

"Leukemia? Who had leukemia? How come you knew and I didn't," asked Bill in
a perturbed tone.

"I guess it slipped Dana's mind," responded Charlie.

Mulder wisely kept quiet. He was never quite able to keep up on the Scully
family dynamics, and so he was never absolutely sure when Bill was or was not
in the good graces of his brother and sister. He didn't feel it all that
necessary to try and find out either.

"Hey? Where's Walter?" asked Mulder.

"Oh, he said he wanted to check up on the older kids to make sure they were
okay. Actually, I think he wanted to go make another withdrawal from the
cash machine. He said something about pizzas and ice creams costing a whole
lot more now than when he was a kid," chuckled Charlie.

Even Bill smiled at that one. The men sat about in a more comfortable
silence as they watched their little ones play with the various, soft, foam,
geometric shapes that were strewn about the gymnastics mats. The children
were enjoying themselves, and after a while, Mulder noticed that Adam and
Jason were finally getting their chance on the tramp.

Mulder looked like he was watching a tennis match as he turned his gaze from
his daughter to his son, and then back again, until Charlie finally said,
"Mulder, I'll watch Dawn. Go check out my Godson!"

He didn't have to tell Mulder twice. Mulder thanked him and raced over to the
trampoline for a better vantage point.

Just then, Charlie looked up and heard his niece, Meghan, call out to him.
"There, I told you he'd be here, Allie," said the youngster in the same
exasperated tone her older brother was heard to affect.

"Daddy," cried out the four-year-old as she raced towards Charlie's arms.
"It's drippy. Make it stop doing drips!" she whined.

Charlie understood immediately what the problem was. Apparently the children
got ice cream cones, but the older kids didn't consider the 'drip factor' as
it pertained to four-year-olds.

As if she were reading his mind, Meghan spoke up, "Uncle Charlie, we wanted
to get her a cup, but everyone else was getting cones, and she insisted upon
getting a cone like everyone else. Then when it started to drip, she
insisted upon coming back to you so you could make it stop dripping. Devan
wanted to lick it around for her, but Allie would have none of that,"
explained Meghan with a roll of her eyes. The child was obviously aggravated
at having been designated by big brother, Matthew, to leave the arcade and
accompany the little girl back to the gym.

"I guess you didn't want your big brother to get more ice cream than you,
right Little Miss?" asked Charlie knowingly.

"But you're the only one who knows how to do it right, Daddy," she said
coyly. Her wise father snagged her, but she wasn't about to admit it, even
at the tender age of four.

Charlie took the cone from his middle child, and watched her smile sweetly
while he attempted to clean up the drips. He licked around the edges of the
cone and then around the top. As licked, he felt his tongue lap up a small,
harder material, and he wondered what it was. He'd assumed the flavor was

"Allison, what kind of ice cream is this?" asked Charlie curiously.

"I don't know, Daddy. Matty bought 'em for us," she replied innocently.

Charlie looked at the ice cream more carefully, but the fact it was covered
in rainbow sprinkles made it difficult for him to determine what the actual
flavor was.

"Meghan, what flavor did Matthew buy for Allie?" he asked.

"The same flavor he got for everyone else. The one and only flavor he always
gets. God forbid anyone else doesn't like cherry vanilla; doesn't matter to
him. If he likes it, everyone likes it!" complained the miniature likeness
of her mother, Tara.

"What did you say?" asked Charlie with a little more force than he would have
liked, but if she'd said what he thought she'd said__.

"He only buys what he likes, Uncle Charlie!"

"But what flavor, Meggie?"

"Oh. Cherry vanilla," was her reply.

"Oh, no," Charlie gasped out.

"What's wrong, Uncle Charlie? Can't Allison eat cherry vanilla ice cream?"
asked the youngster nervously.

"Yeah, she can." He paused for a moment, which caused Meghan to breathe a
sigh of relief.

"It's me that can't."

"What?" asked the child anxiously. "What did you say?"

She noticed her uncle began to look odd, and Meghan called out to her father
quickly, "Daddy! Daddy, help! Something's wrong with Uncle Charlie!"

"Daddy!! Daddy!" cried out little Allison who began to cry when she saw how
nervous her big cousin had become.

"What? What's wrong?" asked Bill.

"Uncle Charlie's sick. He said he can't have the ice cream."

"What ice cream? Meghan, what are you talking about?" Bill asked anxiously,
as he noted his brother's pallor was slightly flushed.

"John got us cherry vanilla and Charlie licked some of Allison's cone,"
Meghan explained.

"Charlie," he said to his brother anxiously, "what's wrong? I don't

Bill began to shake Charlie a bit as he noticed the younger man begin to look
faint. He suddenly felt someone at his side, and Bill felt his own body go
taut. "Get the hell away from us," Bill said through clenched teeth.

"Bill, stop. Get him down on the ground before he falls down," Mulder
pleaded. As he grasped Charlie's arms to help lay him down, he felt himself
shoved a bit.

"I'll take care of my brother, Mulder. Get the hell away from him," Bill

"Damn it, Bill, you can't blame this on me. Please, let me help," Mulder

Bill looked at Mulder and then at his brother. He noticed some red bumps on
Charlie's arms and neck. Something was definitely wrong, only Bill didn't
have a clue as to what. He also noticed Charlie was definitely having some
difficulty breathing which caused him to become more panicky and gruff with

"Every time I'm in the same room with you, something happens. Get the fuck
away from brother," he yelled.

"Daddy? Daddy, what's wrong?" cried out young Allison, which immediately
brought Bill back to his senses.

"I'm not sure honey, but we're going to find out. I promise. Daddy's going
to be okay, really," Bill comforted.

Mulder was already on his cell calling for an ambulance. He didn't like the
looks of his brother-in-law. He, himself, had experienced one too many
asthma attacks as a child, and on a rare occasion or two, as an adult. This
wasn't an ordinary asthma attack. This was a reaction to something.

"Is Charlie allergic to anything?" asked Mulder when he'd finished speaking
with the 911 operator. "An ambulance is coming right away, but they'll want
to know."

"No," said Bill quickly. "He's not allergic to anything that I know about."

"But Dad?" Meghan interrupted. "Dad, Uncle Charlie said he couldn't have
Allie's ice cream."

"What's the flavor?" asked Mulder. When the child responded, Mulder looked
over at Bill. "Is he allergic to cherries, Bill? Think! This could be

Bill was trying to remember, but he really couldn't. He never knew Charlie
to be allergic to anything, but since he was away so often, it was possible
he'd never been privy to the information.

"I don't know, Mulder. I never knew him to be," Bill said worriedly. He
looked at his little brother and was becoming more and more concerned; enough
so he wasn't even feeling antagonistic towards his brother-in-law. "Try
calling Dana," he suggested. "She's in touch with Charlie a whole lot more
than me, and besides, Mom and Karen would certainly know."

Mulder hit the speed dial for Scully's cellular and waited for her to pick
up. He knew, even though it was a girl's day out, she'd never turn off the
cellular in case there was an emergency regarding the children.


"It's me."

"What's wrong? The baby? Adam?" she asked anxiously.

"The kids are fine. It's Charlie. Scully, he seems to be having an allergic

"Cherries," she replied immediately. "He developed a horrific allergy to
cherries a few years back," Scully said knowingly.

Mulder turned to Bill and repeated what Scully said. "Does he carry an
Epipen with him?" he asked. He heard Scully ask Karen, and she said no, that
he just knew to stay away from cherries.

"Shit, Dane. He didn't know this time." He went on to explain what had
happened and then assured her an ambulance was already on the way. "No, he's
still able to breathe."

Dana instructed Mulder to check her brother's pulse, to which Mulder
reported, "It's fast, Dane. I wish the damned ambulance would get here."

Allison was crying uncontrollably now, and Meghan was desperately trying to
calm her down. A couple of the KiddieGym's staff members quickly came over
to take charge of the smaller children. Adam and Jason came back over with
Richard, who watched the scene with growing concern. Bill remained kneeled
by his brother's side, trying to offer comfort, but was actually mutely
berating himself for not knowing his brother was allergic to cherries.

He knew Matthew never bought anything but cherry vanilla ice cream. It was
one of his son's little quirks which had never mattered up until this moment.
Damn it. He couldn't blame Mulder for this failing; he could only blame

Mulder continued to speak with Scully and attempted to keep her abreast of
Charlie's condition. As much as she wanted to, she didn't come rushing out
to the KiddieGym for fear they'd lose the cell connection, and then she'd
have to guess which hospital they'd bring Charlie. It made more sense for
her to simply stay put for the moment.

Suddenly, there was a large commotion as the doors crashed open at the
entrance. Mulder assumed it was the ambulance, as he thought he'd heard
sirens in the distance. When he looked up, however, he didn't see the
paramedics he'd hoped for. Rather, he saw a trio of men.

On the left was a tall, but very thin man, between the ages of twenty-five
and thirty-five. He had long, blond hair, which he wore in dreadlocks. He
wore a brightly colored, orange, yellow, and teal blue Hawaiian shirt with
blue jeans.

On the right was also a tall man, but he was much more muscular. He
obviously worked out, and even more obviously, was proud of his body, as he
wore a very skimpy muscle tee shirt. In lieu of slacks, he wore very short
running shorts, which showed off his muscular calves. The man's head was
shaved, but he did sport a brown mustache and small goatee.

The one on the left sported a large Smith & Wesson automatic pistol. The one
on the right was holding an automatic machine gun. They were both pointing
it at the equally tall man who walked between them.

Walter Skinner.


End of Part 2/5

Life Cycles 17: The Bonding

By Susan Proto (

Disclaimers in part 0/5

Part 3/5

Walter had stopped by the arcade first. He'd made a promise to Maggie he'd
try his best to get acquainted with the older Scully grandchildren, so he
made it his business to touch base with them before going back to the bank.

He talked a little with Matthew about the latest video games, and was rather
pleased that he didn't prove to be a total ignoramus in the pre-teen's eyes.
Skinner was familiar with many computer games and discovered many of those
games either originated in the arcade or visa versa. Matthew was most
impressed to discover Walter was a master of the computer game, "Doom."

Shortly after, Devan, approached Matt and Walter to suggest they go for some
ice cream cones. He complained of some hunger pangs, but rightly figured the
others weren't quite ready for pizza. Since Walter wanted to make this a
memorable day for the kids (as well as for Maggie and himself,) he handed
Matthew two twenties to cover ice cream for the older kids and a few more
rounds of games at the arcade.

Walter left for the bank while Matt and Devan rounded up Meghan, Allison, and

That had been Walter's first mistake.

First, he went to the ATM machine in hope of withdrawing another couple of
hundred dollars. He hadn't counted on maxing out his ATM withdrawal
privileges so quickly, but then Walter realized it shouldn't have surprised
him. Five hundred dollar per week withdrawal limits were easily reached when
your wife was treating all of her daughters (natural, married, and adopted)
to lunch, and you were trying to buy the admiration of a crew of prepubescent
youngsters (and their fathers) with video games, ice cream, and pizza.

Walter sighed when he realized he'd have to go into the bank to cash a check.
He sighed even more deeply when he saw the long line of people who were
waiting their turn to see the tellers. He entered the bank anyway.

That had been Walter's second mistake.

When he entered his FBI sixth sense kicked in. Something was wrong, though
he wasn't sure as to exactly what that was. Walter looked around; he
carefully observed the people in front of him and sensed fear in them. *What
were they afraid of?* he wondered silently. His eyes tracked their
collective gaze, first from himself and then to another who stood off to the
side of the teller's entrance.

He focused immediately on the subject of his fellow bankers' fears. The man
before him didn't even look threatening in his loud, boldly printed cotton
shirt. His hair was unusually styled for a blonde, Caucasian, but certainly
not unheard of. No, it wasn't the man, but what the man had held in his

Guns usually brought the fear out in people, but instinct tended to kick in
when it was needed; that's what happened to Walter Skinner.

He looked around for any accomplices and didn't see any. The innocent
bystanders stood either in back of him or to his right. The only visibly,
threatening person in his direct line of sight was the tall, thin, obviously
fashion-challenged, white male. Walter had no doubt that he'd be able to
take the guy out.

"Freeze! Federal Agent! Put down your weapon!" he shouted out in his most
authoritative, FBI voice.

That had been Walter's third mistake.

Before Walter had time to react, he heard the rat-tat-tat of an automatic
weapon, which came from just beyond the teller's window directly in front of
him. As he instinctively dropped to the ground, along with the other bank
customers, he heard a voice scream out, "You shmuck! What the hell are you

The AD felt a sudden pressure on his hands, which, miraculously, still
tightly grasped his weapon. When he took the time to look, Skinner realized
it was the foot of the second perp that was leaning heavily on his hands.
Suddenly, that foot raised and then, even more suddenly, stomped down on
Skinner's hands.

Hard. Very hard.

This caused Walter to loosen his grasp and the gun to skitter across the
floor. All the while, he clenched his jaw in an attempt to silently endure
the pain.

Shortly after, the AD heard a voice that demanded he get up. It took Skinner
a moment to process everything; he was sure his hands were a jumble of broken
bones and felt the pain to prove it.

"Get up, Mr. FBI agent," the gravely voice ordered again.

Walter began moving, albeit slowly, since he wasn't able to use his hands to
gain leverage to right himself. That, however, wasn't good enough for the
newly arrived perpetrator. Walter was gruffly hauled up to a standing
position. When the stars of pain finally dissipated from his eyes, Walter
was able to make a closer observation of the second partner in crime.

He was obviously a man who knew how to train his body, and train it he had.
As someone who always took pride in keeping fit and in shape, Walter couldn't
help but be impressed with the guy's physique. He was more impressed,
however, with what the man held in his hands.

Machine gun. Big, powerful, machine gun. And Walter feared that weapon made
Mr. Universe feel omnipotent and immortal. And if that were the case,
Skinner felt he had good reason to be fearful, which in and of itself was a
bit unique.

Not that it wasn't unusual for Walter Skinner to fear for others; his
stepdaughter and son-in-law gave him way too much practice in that
department. It had been, however, a long time since he felt any fear for

Several minutes passed, and then Walter was sure he heard them in the


He wondered if the others heard them too. He hoped they didn't, for every
minute that passed without them noticing, the closer the backup would be.

"SHIT! We gotta get out of here!" the Don Ho wannabe shouted.

"What? But we didn't even get ___," responded Adonis.

"__Sirens. It don't matter! We gotta get out of here. NOW!" the partner
who was obviously in charge demanded.

"Let's take insurance," All Brawn, No Brains suggested.

"NO! Let's just go!"

He then stood there and gave directions to the several witnesses who remained
on the floor of the bank. "Don't move. If I see anyone of you move so much
as a pinkie, I will direct my trigger happy friend to start mowing you down
like dandelions on a lawn. Do you understand?"

Next, he looked at the tellers and reminded them it was not a good idea to
trip the silent alarm; certainly not while he and his partner were still
available to silence them. Just then, the sirens cry was much closer.
"Let's go, now!" he directed his sculpted accomplice.

The muscular one reacted immediately. "You, Mr. FBI agent! You will be our
insurance policy. Let's go."

"What the hell are you doing?"

"We need a shield to get us to the damn car, Ray. C'mon, don't argue with me
on this one. It makes sense!"

"Shmuck, I told you not to call me__. All right," he acquiesced in an
attempt to appease his friend. "C'mon, grab him and let's get the hell out
of here. I don't want no trouble."

The Terminator clasped his hand around Skinner's upper arm, not an easy feat
for just anyone considering how muscular Skinner's upper body was. But
Muscle Man did it easily. And as he placed both a strong hand around his arm
and a cold, unequivocally dispassionate machine gun pointed at his head,
Walter Skinner went willingly.

That had been Walter's fourth mistake.

As they walked outside, the trio moved briskly toward Ray's Toyota.
Unfortunately, as they got closer, so did the sirens. When they looked up,
they noted an ambulance and a police car or two coming closer and closer.
The two robbers panicked and hastily dragged their human shield into the
shelter closest to their car, the KiddieGym.

"Shit! You idiot! This place is filled with kids!" said Ray as he
immediately bolted the doors and wedged them with chairs. "Damn it, this is
_not_ the way it was supposed to happen. Shit!"

"Why don't you just leave?" asked Walter as calmly as possible. He remained
in a great deal of pain, as his hands throbbed and began to swell, but he was
desperate to keep his family and the rest of the young clientele safe.

"Right," answered the larger perp. "We can just leave, and you, Mr. FBI,
won't say a thing, right?"

"Arnold, shut up already!" called out Ray in disgust. "I gotta think!"

"Your name is Arnold? You've got to be kidding?" said Walter sardonically.

"You say 'I'll be back' and I will shoot you, you know?" retorted Arnold.

"Right. No Schwartzenager impersonations. Got it," replied Walter, who
suddenly felt very cold and weary. "I'm going into shock, guys. You better
set me down before I fall down," he said as his teeth chattered. He sat down
in a heap, directly across from his stepsons and son-in-law.

"Shock? Walter? What's wrong?" asked Richard with concern, while at the
same time Mulder hissed out loud at Richard's obvious faux pas.

"Oh, great, are you an FBI Agent too?" asked Arnold angrily.

"No, but my Daddy is," cried out Adam impulsively.

"Adam, no__," called out Walter weakly.

"But he is, Gam-pa!" The child couldn't understand what the problem was.
These were bad guys. His grandfather and his father were the good guys.
Good guys always get the bad guys.

The child wanted to respond, but Richard, who realized his error, quickly
rushed over and picked Adam up. "Shh, Adam. It's going to be fine," he
whispered as he placed the youngster behind him next to Jason and the

"Oh, Jesus, help him!" Bill's voice suddenly rang out loudly, as Charlie's
breathing became more and more labored. His arms and chest were now an angry
red color, and his lips appeared to be swollen.

"Now what?!" asked Ray angrily. "I don't fucking believe this! All I wanted
to do was hit a bank, and I get a fucking hospital zone in kiddy land!" He
then looked more closely at Charles. "What the hell is wrong with him?"

Mulder looked first at his father-in-law, who was not in any imminent danger,
and immediately tended to his fallen brother-in-law. He checked his pulse
again, and then informed Scully, who was still holding on the cell, that
Charlie's pulse was more rapid than before. He described the other symptoms
as well, to which Scully ordered Mulder to get the fucking EMT's to
administer adrenaline as soon as possible.

Mulder looked up at the two men who stood overlooking them. "I need to get
the paramedics in here. You've got to open the doors so they can give him
medication. Please."

"We're not opening up any fucking doors," declared Arnold. "Not until we
figure out how we're gonna get out of here." He paused momentarily and then
looked at his partner. "So, Ray, how do we get the hell out of here?"

"How the fuck should I know that, Arnold? You're the one who started firing
your damn toy and making us take a God damned FBI Agent hostage! So, I'm not
exactly sure how we get the hell out of here, but I'm sure open to
suggestions!" babbled Ray.

"He's losing consciousness, Mulder!" cried out Bill.

Mulder immediately turned his attention back to Charlie, who was having more
and more difficulty breathing. "Please, he needs adrenaline. He'll stop
breathing if he doesn't get the adrenaline."

"Daddy? What's wrong, Daddy? Wake up! You gotta wake up!" cried out young
Allison who was becoming more and more hysterical as she watched her father
struggle to breathe.

Scully winced on the other end of the line as she was able to pick up the
cries of her niece. She was still unsure as to what the delay was in the
arrival of the EMTs. She heard shouting, but she was not positive as to what
it was all about. She asked Mulder, a couple of times, to explain what the
commotion was all about, but he ignored her pleas both times.

However, now Karen Scully was starting to panic, and Scully felt it
imperative to put her mind, as well as her own and her mother's mind, at
ease. "Mulder, where are the EMTs? Why aren't they administering the
adrenaline yet?"

"Scully, we have a problem." He went on to explain, as quietly and as
quickly as possible, the predicament they were all in. When he'd finished,
he said softly, "Do you mind if I say I told you so?"

"Oh, Mulder," she whispered back.

"SHIT! Scully, he's not breathing. What do I do? He's not breathing!"

"Mulder, do you have your pocketknife?"


"Take it out and listen to me very, very carefully," ordered Scully with a
slightly tremulous voice.

"Okay," replied Mulder. "I've got it out."

"Now, find a plastic tube of some kind," she directed.

"A straw?" he asked.

"Yes, that will work. Now, Mulder, listen very carefully and do exactly what
I tell you to do, okay?"

"Scully, you're making me nervous here," replied Mulder honestly.

"I know, sweetheart, but I want you to give the phone to Bill, because you're
going to need both hands. He'll relay my instructions to you."

"Okay," Mulder answered as he handed the cell phone over to Bill. "She wants
you to relay the instructions."

Bill took the phone from him with a curious expression on his face. He
couldn't imagine what he could do to help his brother, and he certainly
didn't know what Mulder could do for him. He put the phone to his ear and
said hello.

Bill listened for a few moments and then screamed, "You want him to do WHAT?!"

Everyone, including Mulder and the perpetrators jumped at that. "What, Bill.
C'mon, he's turning blue here!"

"She wants you to perform a tracheotomy," Bill said though clenched teeth.
"She says you've watched her do it before." He held the phone to his ear.
"Yeah, I'll tell him. Remember? In Florida? The water creature?"

"Yes, tell her I remember," he replied anxiously. His eidetic memory kicked
in, but it didn't make him any surer of his ability to perform the surgical
procedure. "What do I do?"

And she gave the instructions to Bill who, in turn, relayed them to Mulder.

"She says to make the cut between the Adam's apple and the collar bone.
You're gonna cut through the thryroid gland, but that's okay. Then you gotta
make a window__, oh, that's a vertical cut in the trachea itself. After you
do that, you gotta stick the straw into the hole so he can breathe through

Bill watched Mulder as he'd relayed the instructions. He then waited for the
man to do something with the knife. "Mulder, what the hell are you waiting
for?" Bill demanded. "He can't breathe!"

Mulder nodded and tried desperately to steady his trembling hand. This was
Charlie, for God's sake. He didn't think he'd have half as hard of a time if
it was Billy, but it wasn't; it was Charlie.

Shit. He liked Charlie.

Which is why he had to take a deep breath and do as Scully instructed. He
made the small cut and separated the thyroid gland from the trachea. He then
made the vertical cut and immediately inserted the straw through the opening.
He watched as the skin seemed to close right around the straw, and held his

"C'mon, Charlie. Breathe, or your brother is going to kill me," Mulder urged
in little more than a whisper.

Without warning, Charlie's chest moved, and Mulder realized he'd actually
done something right. If Mulder thought his hands were shaking before, he
hadn't seen anything yet. He felt his whole body shudder in reaction to what
he'd just accomplished.

"Dee!" Billy shouted into the phone, using the nickname he and his sister had
come up with when she'd deemed Starbuck unsuitable. "He's breathing, Dee!
Mulder did it!" And then, as if awestruck, Bill looked at his brother-
in-law and repeated the words breathlessly, "He did it." He nodded to his
listener, though of course she couldn't see his response, and handed Mulder
the phone.

"How's he doing, Doctor Fox?"

"Oh, God. He's breathing," he said in disbelief, and then added with great
emotion, "and Dane, I don't want to ever have to do that again."

"Now you know why I prefer to work on dead people," she deadpanned. "But he
still needs to get to the hospital. He's not out of the woods yet," she

He whispered his response, "I'm trying, Dane. God, I'm trying. But these
clowns don't seem to have a clue as to how to get themselves out of this
mess, and there's so many children here. We can't take any chances."

"Ohmigod, the children!" cried out Dana, for it was the first time she'd
allowed herself to remember the children, _her_ children, were with Mulder
and the guys. "Are they okay?"

"Yes, Dane. The kids are fine. Believe me. I don't think these guys want
to hurt them, or anyone for that matter. Well, except for the Body Beautiful
over there; he seems to be a little jittery. I think they broke Walter's
hands, Dane. He looks a little shocky."

Husband and wife continued to talk in whispered tones about the situation.
Neither wanted to take unnecessary chances with all of the children and
civilians in the area, as well as the two injured adults. They felt it was
safest to bide their time.

Now, if only the local PD were as patient.


End of Part 3/5

From: <>
To: <>
Cc: <>; <>; <>
Subject: New! Life Cycles 17: The Bonding 4 of 5
Date: Friday, August 06, 1999 4:57 PM

Life Cycles 17: The Bonding
By Susan Proto (

Disclaimers in Part 0/5

Part 4/5

Mulder continued to give updates to Scully on Charlie's condition; that is
until Arnold decided the agent was on the phone way longer than necessary.
He stomped over to where Mulder was sitting next to Charlie, which caused
Skinner to startle a bit. His throbbing hands reminded him exactly what harm
the big man was capable of causing.

"Give me that!" he yelled as he grabbed the phone right out of his hand.
"Who the fuck you talkin' to all this time?"

"A doctor," Mulder replied quickly. "NO! Don't__!" Mulder shouted as he saw
Arnold about to throw the phone down on the ground in anger.

"Arnie! NO!" agreed Ray, sternly enough that Arnold obeyed. "Give me that."

Reluctantly, Arnold handed the cellular over to Ray who quickly cut off the
line to Scully. "This could work to our advantage," said Ray. "We could
call in the media."

"Yeah, and we could all the T.V. reporters too," commented Arnold.

"Good, Arnie, very good," Ray said sarcastically. "Television is the fucking
media, you moron!" He rolled his eyes and watched Arnie shrink a bit before
everyone's eyes. "So, which station should we call?"

"None," interjected Skinner.

"None?" echoed Ray with surprise.

"You call in the media, then you call in that many more cops for crowd
control. You'll have a circus out there. You'd never get out," explained
Skinner. He shifted a bit in an attempt to find a more comfortable position
to support his swollen hands, but he wasn't terribly successful.

"Your best bet," he continued, as he gritted his teeth through the pain,
"is to keep this as low key as possible. In fact, given the fact that I'm
sure by now you've got a shitload of law enforcement out there anyway, you
should probably offer a good faith gesture."

"Good faith gesture?" repeated Ray.

"Bullshit," retorted Arnold.

"Shaddup, Arnie," admonished Ray, who was getting more and more anxious as
time passed. He was becoming increasingly worried about Arnie's stability.
He loved his friend like a brother, but like all brothers, they didn't always
agree on how to handle things. Ray thought Arnie reacted too impulsively to
situations, while Arnie thought Ray spent too much time thinking and not

Ray was doing a lot of thinking at that point. He looked at Skinner and gave
his advice some serious thought. "Ya think this would get Arnie and me out
of here?"

"Yeah," said Skinner.

"What should we do?" asked Ray.

"Let the children go."

"No! No fuckin' way!" Arnie interrupted.

"And," continued Skinner stubbornly, "let the sick guy over there go to the
hospital. Shit, you got yourself an FBI agent here to negotiate with. You
don't even need the others as a shield. You got me. That's enough," cajoled

"Boy, aren't you full of yourself," crowed Arnold. "I mean, what the fuck
makes you think you're so damned important that you'd be worth all these

Mulder looked at Skinner quickly and made eye contact with him briefly.
Mulder knew his father-in-law was about to give himself up for the rest of
them. *Don't do it, Dad. Don't do it,* he said with his eyes. He knew
Walter understood. Mulder also knew it didn't make a difference.

Walter blinked and kept his eyes closed for a millisecond longer than
necessary. He wanted Mulder to understand he'd 'heard' him, but that, no,
that didn't matter.

"I'm not just an FBI agent. I'm an Assistant Director of the FBI," Walter

As Ray and Arnie's jaws practically dropped to the floor, Mulder's shoulders
slumped slightly. He couldn't let his father-in-law take this all upon
himself, especially since the man was injured.

"He's right you know. I mean about the gesture. Let this guy go and let the
kids go. You don't need them to bargain with. You got the Assistant
Director," Mulder said and hesitated for only a second before he said, "and
you can have me."

"Shit," Skinner muttered.

"Oh, so you're an Assistant Director, too?" asked Ray.

"No," Mulder said, and then muttered under his breath, "not in this lifetime
anyway." He took a breath before he quietly admitted, "I'm an agent, just an

Ray nodded in acknowledgment of that bit of news and then stretched his neck
in an attempt to get a view outside of the kiddiegym. "Hey, kid," Ray next
said, as he looked at Meghan, "go over and look outside the window and tell
me what you see."

Meghan looked at her father, and Bill in turn looked at, of all people,
Mulder. When Mulder nodded his assent Bill did the same, and Meghan walked
slowly over to the window. She looked out and said, "I see an ambulance and
police cars."

"How many police cars?" asked Ray.

"I think there's three, no, wait. There's four. One of them is halfway
around the corner."

"Four. Well, that don't seem so bad, Ray," remarked Arnold. "We could blast
our way out against four police cars easily."

"Wait, no! You don't want to do that," argued Mulder vehemently. He paused
momentarily to collect himself and then explained in an even, now
authoritative tone, "You don't know how many cruisers they have hiding around
the corner. You don't know if there's a SWAT van around the corner and this
place is surrounded.

Mulder wasn't sure if he was getting through. He knew he had to be careful;
he didn't want them to think they weren't still in control, but he didn't
want to hand over any control he and the AD may have established to this
point either. He knew he had to walk a very fine line to be convincing, yet
not to domineering.

"Look," Mulder continued, "show them you don't mean anyone harm. Show them
good faith. Let the children and the rest of these people go. Let this man
go to the hospital. The AD and I will stay," Mulder negotiated in an eerily
calm voice.

Ray became pensive as he seriously considered Mulder's words. He hadn't
planned on getting anyone hurt. The fact that the most seriously injured
person was someone who had nothing to do with the robbery was actually
something in his and Arnie's favor. The AD's injuries, though painful, at
least weren't life threatening.

Shit, they'd never even gotten their hands on the damn money.

Maybe he could get out of this okay. Maybe this guy was right. Now, if he
could just convince Quick-Draw McGraw.

"Arnie, he's right. We gotta let the kids go. And him too," announced Ray.

"You gotta be kidding, Ray. No way we can let these guys go. We need them
to get us out, Ray. We need them!"

Ray stood there and silently shook his head, knowing Arnie would never
override his decision. Though Arnie was always the physical strength in
their relationship, both men knew it was Ray who was the brains. Arnie may
not have always agreed with Ray's decision, but he'd always trusted him.

He waited a few minutes and then directed loudly enough for everyone to hear,
"I want the people who work here to round up the kids and parents and line up
by the door, single file. We're letting you all go. Oh, and him too. He
can go to the hospital."

He quickly instructed some of the staff members to open the door a crack and
let the cops know that the children, their parents, and the staff were being
sent out. Also, they were to notify the paramedics that the injured man was
coming out too.

"But tell 'em we still got two Fibbies inside here with us," Ray reminded.

Mulder let out a sigh of relief. Maybe this was going to work out all right.
Suddenly he heard something that caused him to startle. Dawn was crying.
His baby girl was crying for him. "Da_, Da_," she called out.

Mulder was beside himself. He wanted nothing more than to pick the child up,
but he was afraid if he did, they wouldn't let her go, given the fact he'd
agreed to stay himself. Finally, he did the only thing he could think of

"Richard, pick up all of your kids and get them out of here. Now."

Richard understood and reacted immediately. He swooped up Dawn and attempted
to soothe her as best he could. "Shh, Daddy's here, Dawn. I know, baby
girl, your Daddy's here." It wasn't a lie, and Richard's soft cooing calmed
the toddler.

But Mulder knew he wasn't out of the woods yet. He faced Adam. "Adam, you
need to go with your sister. You need to watch her, you know."

"But__." The child paused. He wanted to be his Daddy's backup, but he knew
it would have to be from the outside. He'd help watch his sister. He
wanted to stay with his dad and his grandfather, but even he realized, at the
tender age of six, that wouldn't be wise or practical. He'd have to wait
another day to be a real G-Man.

Besides, he could be his mom's backup, because Adam was positive she was
going to be outside waiting for them. She always was when his daddy was in

"C'mon, boys," Richard said to both Adam and his own son, Jason.

As they began to leave, Adam faced away from the perpetrators and looked
directly at his father and mouthed the words, "I love you, Daddy."

Mulder, with tears threatening, returned the message in kind. He watched as
Richard carried Dawn and led both Adam and Jason outside. A staff member
carried baby John, while Meghan carried little Caitlin. She also held
Allison's hand tightly as they followed Richard and the others to the outside.

"Bill, you'd better go and get Charlie out of here," Mulder said softly.

"What?" Bill asked amazed. He hadn't figured on leaving too. He figured the
EMTs would come in, get Charlie, and he would then stay with his stepfather
and brother-in-law.

"Bill, you've got to go with Charlie. They'll need a history, and you can
provide it. Besides," Mulder added with a slight hitch to his voice, "the
kids need you."

"But, what about you and Walter?" Bill whispered.

"We'll be fine, Bill. Hey, it's what we do, remember?" Mulder said with a
hint of a wry smile. "Now get Charlie to the hospital, before they change
their minds. Go. Please, go," he pleaded.

Bill looked quickly over at his stepfather, who nodded in mute agreement with
Mulder's directions. The eldest Scully brother then stood up and, with some
effort, picked up his semi-conscious brother off of the floor. He and
Charlie were the last ones to leave the building.

The door slammed shut tightly behind them and was jammed with a chair to keep
it closed.


The paramedics immediately ran up to Bill with a gurney and helped him lay
Charlie down so they could attend to him. Next, hoards of news reporters
surrounded him, all the while pushing microphones into his face. Bill heard
question upon question being hurled at him, but all he really cared about at
the moment was getting his brother the medical help he so badly needed and
then checking with his kids to make sure they were all alright.

Finally, he knew he'd eventually have to face his mother and sister. He
prayed he'd have something positive to tell them.

However, before he could do any of those things, the police barged through
the barrage of reporters and herded Bill Scully out of the throngs of
newsmongers to get the details of what was going on inside.

Bill attempted to give them as much detail as possible. Yes, there were two
suspects. Yes, they were both armed. No, they didn't seem to really want to
hurt anyone; they let us go didn't they? Yes, they still held two hostages.
Yes, one was an Assistant Director and the other a Special Agent for the FBI.
Yes, the AD was injured, but no, the Special Agent was not. Yes, they had a
cell phone in their possession, and yes, he could get the number.

"Give me a phone so I can call my sister," Bill requested.

"Your sister?" asked a cop curiously.

"She's an FBI agent too. She's married to the agent inside," Bill explained,
and then further revealed, "Oh, and the AD? He's my stepfather, so you'd
better make sure you do everything you can to get them out of there in one
piece, understand?"

Bill's expression was one that screamed he wasn't to be screwed with. Though
the OIC, officer in charge, Derek Smithson, maintained a neutral expression,
he thought to himself that no one was going to fuck with him either, or, for
that matter, _his_ decisions regarding procedures. No one. He didn't give
a damn if the whole fucking Federal Bureau of Investigation was holed up in
that building with the two perps.

"Get the SWAT teams in place. We're going to take these guys down, now," the
officer in charge announced.

"SWAT teams?" Bill asked with concern. "Are you sure that's wise? I mean, I
told you these guys didn't seem to want to hurt anybody; can't you negotiate
with them a little bit first?"

"We don't negotiate for the lives of law enforcement officers, Mr. Scully,"
the officer informed sternly.

"What?" Bill was incredulous. "That's my stepfather and brother-in-law in
there, you sonofabitch! Don't give me this crap that you don't negotiate for
law enforcement!"

"It's true, Billy," called out a strong, but distinctly feminine voice.

"Dee?" Billy choked out when he saw Dana step quickly toward him. "What the
hell are you talking about? Dee, that's Walter and Mulder in there!"

"I know. But there is a policy against negotiating the release of Federal
Agents," she reiterated, but then turned to the Officer in Charge and stated
emphatically, "Which does not mean, Sir, that you simply throw the baby out
with the bath water. You will first speak to these people to see if they can
be reasoned with. Is that understood, Sir?"

"Sure, Miss. Umm, may I ask, just who the hell are you?"

Scully pulled out her FBI identification. "Special Agent Dana Scully," she
said authoritatively. She'd been off child rearing leave for only a couple
of months, and was grateful to have begun carrying both her badge and her
weapon again. "Now, either you follow protocol, or I will take over as SAC.
Do you understand?" Scully stated in no uncertain terms.

"Yes, Ma'am. Of course." He turned toward Bill, and asked him to get hold
of the cell phone number. He watched Bill turn toward Scully and she wrote
the number down.

"Here," Bill said. "This is the number."

"I don't understand," the officer reacted with confusion..

"Special Agent Scully is my sister. It's _her_ husband who's holed up with
our stepfather," Bill offered, and then almost as an afterthought, added, "I
strongly suggest you don't fuck with her."

"I'll take that under advisement," sneered Smithson.

"Mother fucking little bitch," muttered the Officer in charge. "No fucking
way I'm gonna let some little bitch from the Fucking FBI tell me what I can
and can not do. Thinks she can challenge my authority and threaten me?
Well, not in this lifetime little girl, not in this fucking lifetime!

"Andrews, here's the cell number. Get through to them, now. I want to let
the fibbies know what the plan is," he ordered.


"SHIT! SHIT! SHIT!" cried out Arnold as he watched yet another police car
pull up. "What the hell is going on, Ray? There's got to be at least eight
police cruisers out there. What the hell are they all doing?"

"Shut up, Arnie. They're surrounding the place. They're not going to let us
go, are they?" asked Ray. Neither agent responded, but the shrill ringing of
Mulder's cell phone broke the silence. Ray pushed the 'send' button and
said, "Yeah."

The officer at the other end asked who it was, and Ray identified himself.
Minutes passed while Ray gave out some more information, including the fact
that he and his buddy didn't want any trouble. All they wanted was to get
away. They didn't do anything really bad; they made a dumb ass mistake, and
all they wanted to do was get the hell out of there.

"Sure, Ray. We understand that," stated Officer Andrews, who was acting
under Smithson's orders. "Listen, could you put one of the agents on the


"Just need to make sure they're okay, that's all," the officer responded.

"They're fine, God damn it! I told you, we didn't want to hurt anybody;
they're fine. The older one just hurt his hand a little, but the other one
is okay." Ray was starting to feel agitated; he had the distinct feeling
that he and Arnie were really not going to make it out of there without a

"Ray? What harm would it do to let me talk to them? It might calm them
down, and prevent them from doing something impulsive. Please, Ray?" asked
Mulder earnestly.

"All right, but just for a minute, you understand?" Ray commanded. He handed
Mulder the phone and watched him carefully.


"Hold on, the OIC wants to talk to you," responded Andrews.

"Okay, it's obvious these two are amateurs, aren't they," the Officer in
Charge began rhetorically. OIC Smithson was pretty cocky at this point. He
wasn't about to let _any_ fibbie run his show. "I mean the shmuck just hands
the phone over to you."

He heard Mulder grunt in agreement, albeit warily, with the OIC's assessment.
"Okay, we've got the SWAT team in position. You and the AD need to keep
down, so you don't get in our way."

"No! No, Sir, I don't think you want to do that, Sir," Mulder responded,

"Just get down, Agent Mulder. We're coming in, and we're coming in now,"
repeated Smithson with smug satisfaction.

Mulder stated, albeit more forcefully, "No! Sir, You don't need to do that."

Ray grabbed the phone from Mulder and yelled, "What the fuck? What the fuck
are they going to do?"

Walter murmured, "What do the assholes have in mind, Mulder?"

"They want to just come in with both barrels firing," Mulder replied
incredulously. "They didn't ask my opinion on whether these two could be
reasoned with; they just want to end it. Now."

"And are they?" asked Walter wearily. The pain in his hands was now

"I don't know. I told them not to, but I don'__."

But they did.

And Mulder got yet another opportunity to say to his wife, 'I told you so'.

End of Part 4/5
Life Cycles 17: The Bonding
By Susan Proto (

Disclaimers in 0/5

Part 5/5

Mulder didn't even have time to complete his sentence before all hell broke
loose. The door, which had been locked and jammed tightly with a barricade
of chairs, now splintered open with the arrival of the heavy utility truck
that pushed directly through it.

Mulder screamed for everyone to get down and stay down, but Arnold, the Macho
Man of them all, simply froze in his place. Unfortunately for Arnie, he
stood frozen with the automatic machine gun still in his hands.

He wasn't going to shoot. Ray knew that. Even Mulder and Skinner knew that.
The SWAT team members that followed the armored utility truck into the gym,
however, did not know that.

Ray saw the look in their eyes and then realized Arnie, his best friend in
the whole world, the man who was as close to him as any brother could ever
have been, stood like a deer caught in a car's bright headlights. Arnie
didn't move; he couldn't move, and Ray knew if he didn't move, he'd be shot
down deader than that stray yearling.

Ray dropped his own weapon and literally kicked it toward AD, though that
helped no one due to the swollen condition of Skinner's hands. Mulder had
been unable to reach for his weapon until that moment, but now he was too
busy trying to get the kinks out of his long, unused legs. He'd been sitting
on the floor, in the same position, for almost two hours straight. Mulder
found it difficult to stand up, much less reach for his gun and try to gain
control of an uncontrollable situation.

That's when Mulder realized what was going down. Ray was off and running
towards Arnie, who remained in the direct line of fire of the SWAT team. As
a result, Ray was now in harm's way as well.

"Damn it, no!" Mulder screamed at anyone and everyone because of the
injustice of it all. There wasn't any reason for it to have gotten to that
point. There was no reason all four men weren't simply walking out of that

Except for some overzealous, power hungry police officer who decided it was
_his_ God damned show, and his show alone. Mulder finally stood and pushed
himself forward towards Ray in a desperate attempt to block him and prevent
more than one tragedy that afternoon. As Mulder crossed over and reached
Ray, the sound of gunfire reverberated throughout the room.

Arnie stood for but a second before he fell down in a heap like a tower of
bricks that had the bottom shot out from under it. Mulder heard a scream and
saw the total and complete anguish Ray's face held at the sight of losing his
best friend. The force of Mulder's running caused him to continue moving
until he fell heavily across and on top of Ray's body.

Ray was still momentarily before he pushed Mulder off of him and scrambled
out. He ran to Arnie's stilled body and gathered him up in his arms. He
couldn't help himself. He never was the strong one, and so he cried

Two of the uniformed team members walked over on each side of him and firmly
pulled Ray up off the floor. When Ray rose, one of the men noted a goodly
amount of blood on the front of Ray's shirt; too much to have just been

"Where were you hit?" asked one of the officers.

"Hit?" echoed Ray numbly. "I was hit?"

"You got blood all over you, Mister," pointed out the younger of the officers.

"Blood? Is Arnie dead?" Ray asked tonelessly as the officers hustled the now
grief stricken perpetrator out of the building and to the paramedics.

Throughout this, Skinner had been valiantly trying to figure out a way to
make his hands work and put the weapon Ray had kicked toward him to good use.
Unfortunately, everything happened so quickly, Skinner never even got the
gun in his hands.

He had seen Mulder leap out like a bat out of hell toward Ray and knock him
over as the bullets started flying around them all. He'd also seen Ray push
Mulder out of his way and run over to his fallen mate. Skinner now felt so
angry and so disgusted over the bungling of the rescue operation. He swore
if there were any Bureau personnel responsible for this debacle, heads were
going to roll. In fact, even if there weren't Bureau people involved, he was
going to see to it that heads rolled.

As Skinner watched Ray being led out, a couple of officers moved toward him
to offer their assistance in getting up off the floor. He cradled his
injured hands as best he could while the two SWAT members grasped him under
his arms to help him stand up. It was then that he noticed something wasn't
right about the scene before him.

Mulder still lay on the floor surrounded by his own SWAT team member escorts,
but Skinner didn't understand why Mulder wasn't up and about by now. He'd
heard the other officer ask Ray where he'd been shot. He'd sworn Ray
responded in some way. It was Ray's blood, or even Arnie's blood, wasn't it?
Arnie was placed on a stretcher and pronounced dead at the scene.

But Mulder was still laying on the floor.

"Oh, God," Skinner gasped softly as he staggered over to his son-in-law. He
knelt down and wanted to desperately to shake Mulder and yell at him to cut
out the horse shit and get up! He wanted to remind him that Scully was going
to have both of their asses in slings if he so much as got paper cut on his

Then, in a furious fit of outrage, Walter stood up to his most commanding
height and screamed his next words as forcefully as possible, "God damn it!
Get the fucking paramedics in here, NOW! God damned, fucking idiots! Damn
it! Damn it to hell!"

Walter lost his balance for a moment, but when the officer standing nearest
offered him a hand to help steady himself all Skinner could do was shrug
himself violently away. The paramedic team entered the room and carefully
rolled Mulder onto his side. They were searching for the best vantage point
to see where the bullet entered and, possibly, exited his body.

Finally, Skinner saw the one person whom he knew could best oversee the
situation for him. "Scully," Skinner croaked. "I'm sorry. This shouldn't
have happened."

It was at that point that everyone realized a third gurney was needed, for
the AD collapsed into unconsciousness from shock, pain, and grief.


" I am a doctor, he's O-negative, I'm his wife and partner, I carry a gun,
and as soon as you get him stabilized for transport I am riding in the
ambulance with you. Do not even think of arguing with me on that point,"
pronounced Agent Dana Scully-Mulder.

And none of the paramedics even dared to think of arguing the point with her.

Scully looked on as the EMTs tended to her husband. She'd already checked in
with her children and the rest of her family. They would watch Adam and Dawn
so she could concentrate on getting her husband medical care. Yet again.

Scully couldn't help but wonder wryly if it was really that important for
Mulder to be right all the time.

"Ma'am? Please? Is he okay?" called out Ray timidly. When the paramedics
determined the blood on his shirt was not his, Ray realized that the younger
FBI agent must have been shot instead.

Scully looked at the man covered in blood and could not understand how this
almost frail looking being could create such havoc in their lives. He looked
about as threatening as the runt in a litter of puppies, yet here he sat
covered in her husband's blood.

She wanted to kill someone, but it certainly wasn't this poor fool who made
the stupidest moves of his life today. No, it was the moron who declared
himself the almighty conduit between the concepts of law and order. Officer
Derek Smithson was not going to be long for this world by the time she got
finished with him.

But first, she had to deal with the here and now. She looked at the man who
was now in police custody and, for some unknown reason, Scully felt she owed
him a response. She replied softly, "My husband received two bullet wounds.
One doesn't appear to be life threatening, but they're not sure of the other
one. We're going to get him into surgery as quickly as possible."

"I'm so sorry, Ma'am. I don't know how this happened. No one was supposed
to get hurt," he whimpered, and then, as if reality came swooping down to
bite the perp's head off, he added tearfully, "Nobody was supposed to die."

Scully watched the man being led to the police cruiser, who they now cuffed
merely as a formality, as it was obvious to everyone Ray was in no way shape
or form to run off. Another figure caught her eye. She walked decisively
toward the person.

Scully watched and listened as the sonofabitch smiled and congratulated
himself in front of the media cameras and microphones. He was claiming
victory over yet another heinous crime and vowed to keep fighting the good
fight against vicious criminals who thought nothing of putting others in

"Officer Smithson?" Scully called out, very politely, "May I ask a question?"

Smithson didn't see exactly who was seeking his attention, but he was more
than willing to answer questions and stay in front of the cameras. "Yes, of
course," he replied graciously.

"Thank you," she acknowledged graciously. And then Special Agent Dana
Scully-Mulder, M.D. went in for the kill.

"Would you explain to the media and the public just how it was appropriate
tactics to barge into a building without any real knowledge of the situation
inside? Would you explain to the media and the public just how it was
correct to blast your way through into unknown circumstances, without having
any real clue as to what the physical and emotional stability were of those
still inside? Would you please__."

"__Who is that?" interrupted a very disgruntled OIC. "I don't understand
what you are referring to. We ended a crisis situation here!"

"I am referring to the fact that you had two, highly trained FBI agents
inside that building, and you did nothing to utilize their expertise and
obvious knowledge of the situation. You decided, instead, to throw caution
to the wind and set yourself up as everyone's savior, when in reality one man
is needlessly dead and another is seriously injured.

"Who the hell are you?" asked Smithson, who was having difficulty matching
the voice to a face.

"I'm the seriously injured agent' wife, remember?" Dana asked with a cloying
tone as she pushed her way forward to stand right near her target.

Suddenly, the cameras and the microphones were positioned on the diminutive,
but highly volatile, woman.

"I don't know what the hell you're talking about," responded a now extremely
nervous OIC.

"Oh, but I think you do, Officer Smithson. I think you recall quite clearly
when I informed you of the fact there were federal officers inside the
building and that, I, having been in direct contact with one of those
officers, specifically my husband, was able to determine the situation
warranted restraint.

"If you'll recall," she continued with an ire that almost betrayed her
professional demeanor, "I recommended strenuously to initiate a direct line
to the perpetrators and that if you couldn't maintain restraint and work
according to protocol, __I_ was going to take over as Special Agent in

"Have I refreshed your memory, Sir?" Scully practically hissed.

"Ma'am?" interrupted one of the EMTs, "We're ready to transport your husband
to the hospital.

"Thank you," she acknowledged, but before she left she turned to the OIC,
fuming. "I have but one more thing to say to you. If my husband doesn't
pull through this because of your damned selfish desire for power and glory
and need to prove to yourself and the world what kind of an asshole you
really are, you God damned sonofabitch, I will personally see to it that you
never, ever work another day in uniform."

She paused a moment to catch her breath, and then, in a fit of frustration
and impulsiveness, looked at her mark, and kneed him in his groin as hard and
as forcefully as her five foot three frame could manage. "But that's for
what you're putting Mulder and me through right now."

Scully watched the man as he struggled to not only regain control of his
ability to breathe, but of the situation. The media were now hurling
question upon question demanding that he answer Scully's charges. Scully,
meanwhile, turned and walked off to the ambulance.


Mulder couldn't help but wonder where he was. It was a room in all shades of
neutral, and it felt strangely cool and warm at the same time. He didn't see
the AD anywhere, so he assumed they'd taken him someplace else to tend to his
broken hands.

He tried to piece together the events that had led him to this odd little
room. He remembered hearing from the OIC that they were going to barge in
with the SWAT team in order to end the situation immediately.

He remembered getting up and running. Running toward someone. Ray. He was
running toward the perp named Ray, because Ray was running to the other one,
the Adonis.

Only the Adonis couldn't overtake the bullets that were being pumped into his
body and Mulder feared that Ray was going to be killed too, so he leapt at
him and knocked him down.

But not before he, himself, took a couple of hits. Shit. Scully is going to
kill him if the damned bullets don't. "I gotta stop getting shot at," he
announced aloud. He thought how odd his voice sounded in this little room;
little area; whatever the hell it was.

"Yeah, it echoes in here, don't it," remarked the voice from behind him.
Mulder recognized the voice and turned to see Arnie standing before him.

"Arnie? You're okay? Man, I thought you bit the big one, but shouldn't you
be in cuffs, man?" Mulder asked curiously.

"Don't need no cuffs for where I'm going,'' replied Arnie.

"What you mean? Even if you're going to a minimum security prison you still
need to be cuffed for transport," Mulder responded with confusion.

"Ain't going to no prison. None that you're going to know about for a really
long time, at any rate," announced Arnie. "I'm dead, Agent Mulder. They got

"Oh." Mulder paused for about a nanosecond before he gasped, "Oh, shit! That
must mean__, oh shit! I can't be dead! I don't feel dead!"

"You ain't dead, but trust me, when you wake up from your surgery you're
gonna wish you were fuckin' dead. Your belly is gonna hurt like a mother

Mulder looked at the man before him who for some reason no longer seemed
quite as large and overpowering as he did before. He supposed being dead did
that to a person. He was curious though. "Why are you here? I mean, don't
you have some kind of a light to walk towards or something?"

"Yeah, yeah," Arnie said impatiently, ''but before I can go to it, I gotta
make amends, ya know. I gotta make peace with myself and everyone I
wronged." Arnie stood uncomfortably, as he shifted his weight from one foot
and then to the other. "Look, I'm sorry. I already spoke to your boss.
Told him I was really sorry about stomping on his hands and all."

"He forgave you?" asked Mulder surprised.

"Well, he wasn't too happy about it, but yeah, I think he did," replied Arnie
with a hint of his own surprise. "So now, I gotta deal with you and then
with Ray. Don't think Ray's gonna ever forgive me for getting myself killed,
ya know? But I wanna thank you for saving Ray's life. That was awfully
righteous of you, Man. You didn't have to do jack shit, but you did, and,
well I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me."

All Mulder could think of was that for a man with all brawn and not too many
brains, he'd finally discovered he had some heart. "Yeah, Arnold, I forgive
you," Mulder replied earnestly.

"Thanks, Man. Now, all I gotta face is Ray." He paused for a moment and
then asked the agent, "Ya think Ray will forgive me?"

Mulder smiled slightly and nodded. "Yeah, Arnold. Ray will forgive you.
It's what friends and families do. Go rest in peace, Arnie."

Arnie chuckled a bit at that and his form slowly but surely dissipated before
his eyes. It kind of reminded Mulder of how his Nana drops in and out of his
life every now and then. He found it interesting that his Nana was not the
only ghostly apparition he'd ever known.


The Scully women were all watching over their men.

Karen Scully remained with Charles who was being kept overnight for
observation. He'd responded very well to the shot of adrenaline and was
reminded by both doctors and his very overwrought, but relieved wife, that he
needed to always carry an Epi-pen with him just in case of emergency. No
excuses, because if he were to ever have another reaction, it could be much,
much worse.

Maggie Scully-Skinner sat quietly in the chair by her husband's bed. She
wondered how it was possible for him to sleep so soundly with his left-hand
elevated. His left hand was indeed the recipient of a few broken bones, but
it was expected to heal without any lasting effects. His right hand was only
badly bruised, though it too was wrapped in a protective bandage and would be
for a period of time.

In either case, Walter was going to appreciate the doses of painkillers that
were being administered on a regular schedule. Maggie imagined that once her
husband realized just how helpless he was going to be for the next few weeks,
he'd probably want double the dosage. And when she thought about it, Maggie
realized she'd probably need triple the dosage for herself.

Of course, once the surgery was over, and Mulder was brought down to the
recovery room, Dana Scully-Mulder sat vigil at her husband's bedside as well.
One of the bullets just grazed his shoulder, _her_ shoulder, as she came to
think of it. The other one, however, was not quite as forgiving.

Mulder suffered from a belly wound, and from previous experience, Scully knew
just how painful that was. Her husband was going to be one hurting little
puppy, that was for sure. But he was alive, and she was more than happy to
deal with the mood swings he was sure to have because of the discomfort.

She then smiled to herself, as she remembered her own little mood swing
several hours earlier. The look of horror and pain on that bastard's face
was enough to leave her with no regrets, even given the fact Internal Affairs
scheduled a meeting for as soon as Mulder's condition became more stable.

Scully wasn't worried though; it was only a formality, required due to the
fact she'd kneed the asshole in the balls in front of a nationwide audience.
Scully chuckled quietly to herself when she remembered what Skinner's
secretary had said. "With your aim, Agent Scully, no one would dare allow
any charges to stick."

In his sleep, Mulder now became restless, so she placed her hand over his to
let him know he wasn't alone. Several minutes passed until Mulder finally
settled down. He'd been talking in gibberish for several minutes; well, it
was mostly gibberish. Scully was able to make out a few words, one in
particular caused her head to jerk up quickly.


He'd said that one incredibly clearly. Dana only hoped he wasn't concerned
as to whether she'd blamed him for the situation. She knew they'd talked
about how he always seemed to get hurt when he and her brother got together,
but she certainly didn't want him to think he'd gotten himself into some kind
of self-fulfilling prophesy loop.

This wasn't his fault. It wasn't her brother's fault, and it certainly
wasn't her fault. Was it? Oh, God, she certainly hoped Mulder didn't blame
her for putting him into the situation in the first place.

Dana then worried Fox was angry with her for putting Adam and Dawn in danger,
and her nieces and nephews, as well as her stepfather. Oh, what had she

"Fox? Sweetheart? I'm so sorry. Oh, Fox, please, can you find it in your
heart to forgive me? I promise never to leave you alone with my brother
again," she whispered through her tears. She knew she was being irrational,
but her emotions were finally catching up with her, and she simply couldn't
help it.

"Shh," he rasped with his eyes still closed. "Don't cry, Dane."

"Fox? You're awake?"

He opened his eyes slightly, and he saw her tears, which he tried to wipe off
of her cheek. But his arm felt like it had a two-ton weight attached to it,
and he felt as week as a newborn. Unfortunately, at that moment, he also
understood all too clearly what Arnie had warned him about with respect to
his belly wound. It did hurt like a mother fucker.

"Hey, Dane? Any possibility of getting some of the good stuff," he grimaced.


"Oh, God, yes," he gasped in admission.

Dana rang the buzzer hanging on the side rail and when the nurse appeared,
Dana informed her Mulder woke up and was in desperate need of painkillers.
The nurse informed them she would check the orders and return shortly with
the medication.

"Oh, Fox, I'm so sorry," sighed Dana.

"Why? Not your fault, Dane," he consoled.

"But if I hadn't insisted you __," she paused momentarily as the nurse had
returned with Mulder's dose of Demerol.

"This should help, Mr. Mulder," she said encouragingly. Mulder voiced his
thanks and she left.

He closed his eyes for a moment and waited for the drug to take some effect.
"Okay,'' he said more easily, "now you were saying something_, about
insisting__, something." His thoughts weren't quite as clear as he wanted
them to be, as the medication was taking effect quite quickly.

"I feel badly for insisting you spend the day with my brother," she admitted.
"I feel a little responsible."

"Oh, Dane," he said groggily, "this wasn't your fault or Bill's fault. It
was just one crazy set of circumstances." He yawned. He wanted to stay
awake, but the medication was too busy doing its job.

"Dane?" he asked just before he dozed off, "It's really not your fault,
but_," and he paused for but a second, smiled, and then lightly teased, "Do I
at least get to say 'I told you so?'"

"Yeah, Mulder. This time, you do." Of course, Scully's smile grew wider
when she realized the Demerol had kicked in full force just as she was saying
her 'mea culpa.' She'd have to let him have his 'I told you so' on another

And she offered up a prayer of thanks that they'd have yet another day for
him to do so.

End of Part 5/5

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