New! Life Cycles 19: A Curve in the Road
Date: Saturday, March 18, 2000

Category: MSR (marriage) Angst, MT.

Rating: PG13 .

Spoilers: None specifically

Summary: Mulder sets out to drive the family home, but a drunk driver has
other ideas.

Archive: Yes.

Disclaimer: Fox Mulder and Dana Scully, Walter Skinner, Maggie Scully, Billy
& Tara Scully belong to 10/13 productions and Chris Carter. Adam and Dawn
Mulder 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.

Introduction: This is the next story in the series, though if you have any
idea of the Life Cycles series, you might just be able to follow it without
having read number 18, though do if you find the time. I kind of liked that
one too! <G>

And thanks to Vickie Moseley, who always tells me when I need to retract my

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

Feedback: I'd love it! It's therapeutic!

Life Cycles 19: A Curve in the Road
By Susan Proto (

The hours flew, and evening quickly turned into night. Dana looked as
exhausted as Mulder felt, while all of the kids were fast becoming cranky
from fatigue. They climbed into the car and belted everyone into place,
twenty-one month old Dawn in her car seat and seven and a half year old Adam
in his seat belt. Scully settled herself into the passenger seat, sighed
with a smile plastered on her face, and said, "That was really fun, wasn't

Mulder had to chuckle, because given the company they'd just kept, it was a
small miracle that he could agree. "Yeah, it was actually." He then gave
his wife a sideways glance and in a stage whisper asked, "So, exactly what
drug did you slip your brother to make him so damned mellow tonight?"

"Oh, Mulder!" Scully laughed, "If it were only that easy, I would have done
that a long time ago."

"Nothing?" he asked in jest.

"On my honor," she replied laughing, "but I'll keep it in mind for the next

"He was pretty damned pleasant tonight, wasn't he?" he murmured in mild
astonishment. "But when Bill suggested we stay over_, damn, Dane, I thought
I was hallucinating."

"That was pretty amazing," Scully agreed, "I'm surprised he didn't invite
himself over for lunch tomorrow __."

__TAP. TAP. TAP.__

"Holy shit!" cried out Mulder as he jumped, not so much at the sound of the
tapping on the window, but at seeing the big, burly red head staring straight
at him through the window.

Scully was laughing so hard, Adam kept asking, "What's so funny, Mommy?
Mom, what's so funny?" And Dawn started to cry.

As Mulder rolled down his window, he mumbled to himself, "Don't need no
stinkin' lunch invitation," while Scully continued to find the entire
situation way too amusing.

"What's up, Bill?" Mulder asked in his most neutral tone. He figured Bill
was in an okay mood before, but he wasn't about to press his luck.

"Um, Tara found this in the couch, and she told me I should bring it out to
you," he muttered in reply. Apparently Bill wasn't about to press his luck
either, as he tentatively held out a small stuffed rabbit that was loved a
lot in its life.

"Oh, Bunny!" cried out Dana. "No wonder she's crying. Thank you, Bill. You
have no idea what kind of an ordeal you saved us from tonight in getting your
niece down for the night!" exclaimed Scully who then turned to the still
teary toddler and said, "Look who Uncle Bill found, Dawnie!"

Bill handed the toy to Dawn who practically snatched it from his hands, and
though she wasn't exactly Emily Post in her response to her uncle's kindness,
she did at least stop crying.

"You sure you don't want to stay over," Bill asked Scully directly, bypassing
Mulder altogether. Well, so much for pleasantness.

"Thanks, Bill, but no, we can't. I'm doing these Saturday morning lectures
at Quantico and my notes are at home; it would just be too complicated in the

"Well, if you're sure," he replied and then looking directly at Mulder he
said, "Take care of my little sister."

Mulder automatically stiffened at Bill's remarks, as they cut into him like
no blade ever could. Scully reacted quickly and practically growled, "Billy,"

"What, what did I say? For crying out loud Dana, all I said was take care of
my little sis_. Oh shit." Bill immediately became contrite and actually
apologized on the spot. "Mulder, I'm sorry; my intentions were innocent.
Really, you got to believe me."

And the ironic thing of it all was Mulder did believe him. If anything, it
bothered the man that simple, innocent remarks such as the one Bill made
could still send him reeling into guilty despair. Mulder had to get a grip.
He had made a commitment to go on with his life, and wished to hell he could
actually follow through for a change.

"It's okay, Bill. I'd have said the same thing," Mulder said quietly, and
then with a little more energy, "Okay troops, this bus is heading out for
Camp Mulder! Ready?" While he didn't exactly get a rousing chorus of
affirmative responses, the mumbling 'yesses' and 'uh-huhs' were confirmation
enough that everyone was tired and ready to hit the road.

"Good-night, Bill," said Mulder and as an echo of similar salutations
followed, he slowly pulled out of the driveway to head off for the house in


He marveled out loud how Adam was able to fall asleep at just about the exact
moment the car's engine turned over. He'd asked for some music, and then,
not more than five minutes later, was sound asleep. To himself, however,
Mulder thanked his lucky stars that Adam had inherited that little habit from
his almost sound asleep mother.

"Thank heavens his baby sister inherited that little gift," she mumbled in
response to his ramblings.

Mulder chuckled at that. "Oh yeah, I remember a few nights resorting to a
quick drive around the block to get our colicky little miss to visit the
sandman." He looked over at Scully for a moment, and then said, "Go to
sleep, Dane, I'll wake you when we get home." Mulder then gently brushed a
wisp of hair off of his wife's forehead and felt her lean in ever so slightly
to his touch.

"Okay, G-Man," she whispered in sleepy response, and in minutes, Scully was
gently snoring.


Mulder had been driving on the highway for about fifteen minutes when he too
began to feel fatigued. Adam and Dawn were sleeping quietly in the back
seat, while Scully snoozed in the front. It was too damned quiet; it was
well after midnight and it had been a long day in the office and then a long,
albeit pleasant, evening visiting his in-laws. Mulder fiddled around with
the radio to try and find something that would inhibit the attack of the
yawns he was having.

He looked down for a second; it was literally a second, when suddenly he felt
the force of three tons plow into the driver's side of the car. The sound of
the crunching metal was resounding and echoed all around him, while the
hissing of the airbag pummeled both his ears and his body. Instinctively, he
turned toward Scully in order to lean over and protect her.

Mulder felt not only the incredible amount of pressure on his back, on his
body, but also the force of air that seemed to be pressed from his lungs.
The speed with which his automobile swerved and skidded and then just as
suddenly turned on its side was incredibly fast.

He had no time to think, no time to panic. He blacked out almost immediately.


The sound of her muted cries roused him. Called to him. He couldn't ignore
her pleas, though it seemed to be the less painful, easier thing to do.

"Dah-dy, go home. Dah-dy," she whimpered over and over again.

"Dawn?" The pain seemed to crush his entire body just for speaking a single

"Dah-dy, go home?" the toddler pleaded.

"Soon, baby girl," he managed to rasp out. He tried to collect his thoughts;
for that moment Mulder wasn't sure what had happened. He had no idea of how
long ago, whatever it was, had happened. He swiped at the already deflating
airbag, noting its chemical dust passing through his nose and mouth.

Then a momentary feeling of panic set in; Scully and Adam were silent. Oh,
sweet Jesus, they hadn't said a word. He tried to reach out toward Scully to
see if he could at least feel her; it was so dark in the car he couldn't see
a damned thing. He found it almost impossible to move anything but his left
arm. His right arm was caught underneath his torso, while his legs seemed to
be under the blanket of a steel door.

He was wedged in tightly, and he could not move at all with the exception of
his left arm. He wondered if he could reach for his cell phone, but after
several minutes gave up. It was wedged in his right pocket, which was
solidly out of his reach.

Mulder looked toward Scully, and gasped slightly as he realized he was
looking down at her. The car was tipped onto its side. He heard Dawn
continue to whimper in the back seat, but he'd yet to hear a sound from
either his wife or son. He tried his best to reach over to pat Scully's arm,
while he called out his son's name.

"Adam? Adam, you awake? C'mon big guy, I need to hear your voice," he
called in a tone that vacillated between forced calm and unmitigated panic.

"Daddy, it hurts," the youngster sniffled.

Mulder laughed out loud as the tension in his body was relieved, if only for
a minute. "What hurts, Adam?" he asked.

"My arm," he whimpered, "my arm really hurts a lot."

"I'm sorry, big guy. It sounds like it may be broken. When help arrives,
we'll make sure they fix it so it doesn't hurt. Adam, can you see if your
sister is hurt?" he asked.

Dawn had become very quiet during the Father and Son conversation, and it
caused Mulder some concern. The fact that he wasn't able to wake Scully up,
however, was causing him to be almost panic-stricken.

"Dane? C'mon, sweetheart, you gotta help me out here," he urged. He was
stretching his body to its maximum capacity at that moment in order to reach
her. He literally had to reach over his own body to make contact with hers,
and the pain he experienced was beyond any he could recall feeling in a good
long while.

Mulder knew, however, he had to remain calm and alert for his children, so he
continued to call out soothing platitudes to the children, as he continued to
prod and call out to Scully. When he heard a small moan come from his wife's
direction, he thought it was the sweetest sound he'd ever heard.

She was alive.

After breathing a sigh of relief, Mulder refocused on his children, and
repeated his question to Adam. "Can you see if your sister is okay, big guy?"

"Dawnie seems okay, Daddy," the small voice said from the rear.

"Okay, but can you see her, Adam? Is she still in her car seat?" he asked
all the while rubbing Dana's arm to try and stimulate her to consciousness.

"Yeah, she's still in her seat. Daddy, my hand is stuck down here," the
child whined. "I can't get it out."

"It's okay, big guy, when the paramedics get here they'll help you get your
hand out," Mulder said as an offering of comfort, but as he became more lucid
he became more worried about the severity of the injury to Adam's arm. The
baby was too quiet, too, and though Adam said she seemed okay to him, Mulder
worried that she was injured as well.

"C'mon, Dr. G-Woman, I need you to wake up; this is your department,
remember? I don't know if I can do this by myself," he murmured anxiously.
"Dane," he called out a little louder, "Dane, wake up! Please, babe, wake
up," he pleaded. She responded with another small moan, but nothing more.

He knew he'd blacked out earlier and wondered how long it had been since they
crashed. He wondered if there was anyone else besides them injured, and
finally, he wondered if they were anywhere on the road that was easily seen
by oncoming traffic.

Mulder tried to take a deep breath in order to slow calm himself, but even
that proved to be painful.

"Dah-dy, go home," whimpered the baby again.

"Soon, Dawnie, soon," Mulder responded relieved to hear his daughter's
plaintive cries, "Daddy wants to go home too." Hell, he was ready to go
anywhere at that point, even back to his mother-in-law's house and spend the
night with Bill.

Bill. He wondered what Bill would have to say about him now. 'Take care of
my little sister,' he'd said. Well, Mulder felt bereft at the manner in
which he'd taken care of Bill Scully's little sister. She was stuck, no more
likely pinned, in her seat in a car that was nestled on its side in the
pitch-black night somewhere near the highway. Bill was going to kill him,
and at that moment he didn't blame him one iota.

"Scully, you'd better wake up," he said nervously, "or Billy is going to have
my head! Please, Dane, let me know you're okay, please sweetheart," he
begged. He soon felt his head begin pounding a bit, but the pain in his back
and lower extremities were decreasing, for which he was very grateful.

"Dah-dy, go bye bye," Dawn lamented.

"I know, sweetie pie, we all want to go bye-bye," her daddy answered. "Daddy
wants to, and Adam wants to, and Mommy wants to go bye-bye, too."

Unfortunately, just hearing the word 'Mommy' sent Dawn into cries of seismic
proportions. "Mommy? Mommy! Mommy, go bye-bye. Want Mommy, Dah-dy. Want

Mulder winced at the plaintive cries of his daughter and closed his eyes in
attempt to shut the sounds, pain, and fear out. "Please, Dane," he whispered
mostly to himself, "Please wake up. I need you. Oh dear God, Scully, I need
you. I can't do this by myself."

Mulder knew in his heart that he was begging more than just a return to
consciousness. He was scared that this would be the one time they weren't
lucky; he feared it was the one time she wouldn't survive and really would
leave him and the children alone. His entire being shuddered at that notion.
He knew he had to stop the negative thoughts; they certainly couldn't help
and might possibly hurt their chances of all getting out of this in one piece.

He closed his eyes and tried to gather his thoughts. He had to help the
children stay calm; hell, he had to help himself stay calm. What would Scully
do? And then something occurred to him.

"Hey, I've got an idea, Adam, think you and I can sing some songs for Dawnie
so she's not so scared?"

"Yes, I guess so," he replied tentatively.

"Okay, how about we go with 'Old MacDonald,' okay?"

When Adam agreed, they sang several verses of that children's classic tune
and then went on to sing 'BINGO' and 'Do Your Ears Hang Low' and then
finally, 'The Wheels on the Bus,' when suddenly, a small ringing sound
emitted somewhere in the car.

It was too loud to be his, since he knew his was buried in his right pocket,
which was underneath is pinned right arm. It had to be Scully's. He
strained his back as he stretched over to try and find the pocket in which he
would find her cellular. Mulder prayed she'd put it in her left pocket,
because it was the only one he could reach, and that was just barely.

"Keep ringing," he muttered to himself, "Please, don't hang up." He pushed
himself to the maximum and managed to find her pocket. He patted around and
practically sputtered with excitement as he felt something small and hard.
By sheer perseverance and determination, Mulder managed to reach in and pull
out the phone. It was small enough for him to manipulate it with the one
hand and thankfully, hit the send button on the first try.

"Hello," he said in a voice that was breathless from exhaustion.

"Jeeze, Dana, where the hell have you been? I've been trying to get you for
the last twenty minutes at home; I finally gave up and called your cell
number. You forgot the leftover cake and Mom wants to know if you can stop
by tomorrow to pick it or if you want her to send it over with Walter?"

"Bill," Mulder said in a ragged, breathy voice. The adrenaline rush he'd
obviously felt before in attaining possession of the phone was now ebbing,

"Dana? Sis, is that you?"

"No. Mulder," he managed to get out.

"Mulder? I thought you were Dana. Jeeze, what the hell is going on?
Where's Dana?" asked Bill with annoyance.

"Car. Crash," Mulder responded feebly.

"Crash? Mulder, you crashed the damn car?" Before Mulder could explain, he
could hear Bill repeat his assumptions to Maggie and Walter, as well as to
Tara. "Damn it, Mulder! Is my sister okay? The kids? Jesus Christ,
Mulder, are Adam and Dawn alright?"

"Dane's unconscious. Adam's arm hurts. Dawn seems okay."

Bill then said, "Mom's calling 911. They'll send an ambulance to your
location. Where are you?"

"Don't know. Dark," was all Mulder could manage.

"Damn it, Mulder, can't you get through just one year__," Bill muttered in
frustration. "I'm coming to get you," he declared.

'Coming to get me? Oh , God, he wants to kill me?' Mulder reacted in a
panic. Mulder tried to tell Bill that it was an accident, he didn't mean for
any of this to happen.

Then he heard another voice in the background. 'Probably Tara,' Mulder
thought to himself and calmed down a bit. He took a couple of breaths and
felt his anxiety ease a little. It was going to be okay; Bill and Tara were
going to send help. He breathed a small sigh of relief in the realization
that help was on its way.

It was at that moment that Mulder realized he felt no pain in his back or his
legs. Problem was, he wasn't feeling anything. He felt a small pang of
anxiety bubble up from his stomach to his mouth, but Mulder realized his
first priority had to be his wife and kids. He couldn't afford to worry
about himself now.


He heard sirens. The sound was muted; they were farther away than they were
near, but they were coming. Mulder wondered if it was okay to close his eyes
now. First, he called out to Scully once more, and this time he heard her
whimper in pain. Mulder thought his heart was going to jump into his mouth
at that sound. He always felt so useless when he wasn't able to offer the
people he loved the comfort they needed.

Adam and Dawn both responded to Mulder's calls as well, so he figured there
was not much more he could do. Help was here. He listened quietly and with
intensity for the sounds of the cavalry coming to his rescue.


Bill had tried to convince his mother to stay home with Tara and the kids.
Even Walter had tried, but Maggie Scully-Skinner would have none of it.

"That is my daughter and son and grandchildren in that car. Do not consider
for one moment that I am not accompanying you to the scene of that accident.
Do I make myself clear?" she asked in as authoritative a voice as the AD
could ever manage.

Needless to say, Bill Scully drove both his mother and step-father to what he
assumed was the scene of the accident, though until he got closer he couldn't
be sure. There were no passenger cars on the highway itself, but there were
several rescue vehicles clustered in a small area, way off onto the shoulder.

When he'd pulled his own car off onto the shoulder, he, Maggie, and Walter
climbed out of their car. Bill and Walter insisted that Maggie remain by the
car, at least until they were sure of with what they were dealing with. She
complied with this request, though Maggie wasn't happy about it.

Walter was tempted to tell Bill to wait with his mother but decided it was
best not to give him reason to argue. It was neither the time nor the place.

Bill was muttering to himself as they came nearer the emergency vehicles that
surrounded the scene. He repeated over and over, "Sonofabitch, if they're
hurt, I'll __, I'll__. Damn it! Fool can't even drive a damn car without
getting into a damn accident."

Walter wanted to slug Billy at first to shut him up, but instead Walter chose
to ignore him. The AD knew Billy was anxious and worried, so he allowed
Billy to blow off steam without comment.

When they got within range of the accident, Walter flashed his bureau
identification and was immediately granted access. Thankfully, the young
rookie on traffic detail didn't question the appearance of a federal officer
at the scene of a car wreck. Bill managed to follow Walter in on his coat
tails, though the AD was seriously considering giving Bill Scully up to the
locals as having no business being there.

Instead, both men moved closer to the actual accident and one's gasp was
louder than the other's. Bill's mouth flew open, and something akin to "Holy
shit," was heard in a disbelieving tone of voice. Walter simply stood,
looking at the aftermath of what could only be described as horrific, and
seriously wondered if anyone, and he meant _anyone_ could have survived that.

"Are there survivors?" Walter asked with an air of authority, as if he were
someone important who had a right to know. The fact was he was in a state of
shock and simply needed to know.

"May I help you, Sir?" asked the uniformed state trooper.

"Walter Skinner, Assistant Director at the bureau," he responded as if that
were enough of an answer.

"Yes, Sir." Apparently it was. "The driver of the pickup is dead, but the
people in the passenger car are all alive."

Both Walter and Bill let out a sigh, loud enough for the trooper to ask, "Um,
Sir, what does the bureau have to do with this accident?"

"My kids are in that car," Walter admitted evenly. He knew he had to
maintain a calm appearance or they would escort him immediately from the
scene, AD or no AD. Billy, on the other hand, stared at Walter as if he had
two heads. This was the first time he'd heard Walter refer to Dana and
Mulder in that vein.

"And that gentleman?" the trooper asked pointing directly at Billy.

"My stepson, Officer. It's his sister in the car," Walter answered quickly.

The trooper simply nodded and then said, "We've got to tie off and bolster
the car on the bottom. We can't remove the truck until that's done. We got
some ropes off of the rescue truck and tying 'em down. Then we'll have a
shot at getting them off the shoulder barrier."

"Shoulder barrier?" echoed Bill, finally finding his voice.

"Yeah, this fool was apparently trying to pass your sister's car on the left,
but either lost his control or just wasn't paying attention, 'cause he ended
up comin' up way too close. He probably would have sheered the front door
and side fender off if there wasn't the barrier to block your car.

"Anyway, he apparently come up from the side, lost total control of the
pickup, and ended pushing the driver's side door up and in. I guess the
momentum ended up pushing the whole front end of the passenger car over the
shoulder barrier; it's half on the shoulder and half over the side of the
ridge. I'm afraid it's a little precarious at the moment__."

"__Oh, sweet Jesus," Bill whispered.

"But these emergency guys are good. They know what they're doing," offered
the trooper in an attempt at some comfort.

"What are their conditions?" asked Walter.

"Little girl in the back is conscious and seems to have only a few scratches,
but the little boy in the back, and the woman __," the officer halted for a
moment and looked directly at Bill, "__your sister, I would guess, well, they
got beat up pretty bad. Little boy's arm is more than likely busted, and
your sister's been knocked out cold for most of the time, according to the

"How is he?" asked Walter, not even bothering to look over at Bill.

"He's conscious; he says he's okay and just keeps pleading for us to get his
wife and kids out," the officer related.

"Well, what's taking so long," interjected Bill impatiently.

"I told you; we have to secure their car so that when we pull the pickup off
of it. Don't want their car go flying down that little gully at the side of
the highway. We gotta get ropes around the car to secure it as much as
possible. Don't want it bouncing up and down either, 'cause that could make
any injuries worse, ya know," the trooper explained in a slightly patronizing

As Walter nodded, Bill paced. Finally Walter told Billy to go inform Maggie
of what was going on. Bill was about to put up a fuss, but when he saw the
determined expression on Skinner's face, he decided against it. He slipped
away to update his mother.

Skinner, on the other hand, remained rooted to his spot, and did everything
possible to hold his tongue and take over the operation. He was as impatient
as Bill was, though he'd never admit that to the younger man. Walter needed
to see that they were all right.

Several minutes, maybe fifteen or twenty, had passed and now Walter was
getting impatient. He turned and saw Bill and Maggie inching closer and
closer to him. He could see Maggie's face go through a myriad of expressions
the closer she got to the scene, from confusion to horror.

"Maggie, go wait back at the car," Walter called out, but he knew at this
point she wasn't going to move. "Damn it, it's taking too long! Why is it
taking so long?" he asked no one and everyone.

"Walter, are they __?" Maggie couldn't finish the thought out loud.

"They're alive. The driver of the pickup didn't make it, but the kids are
alive. There are some injuries, and we won't know how bad they really are
until the EMTs get them out of the car," Walter assured. It was easier for
him to stay calm by explaining things to Maggie; he had to be strong for
Maggie. It was something Walter could do.

Some more time passed, perhaps another twenty minutes or so, and the
emergency service officers were busy preparing both vehicles for the rescue
of the Mulder family.

"Okay, folks," called out the state trooper, "move on back now. We're ready
to move the pickup, and we need you to step back."

Skinner, Bill and Maggie moved back a few steps, but they still remained
close enough that they could observe all that was going on. Maggie grasped
Walter's hand in one and Bill's in the other. She had only just realized how
tenuous a situation faced them. The Mulder family car was perched perilously
close to the edge of the embankment, and if the ropes and chains didn't hold,
their car was certainly going to tip over the edge. If they hadn't sustained
life-threatening injuries before, they'd certainly be subject to them after.

The trio held hands as well as their breaths.

The pickup was slowly pulled off; the passenger vehicle remained stable for
that moment. As soon as the pickup was safely out of the way, the rescue
team worked to hook up chains to Mulder's car in order for the ladder truck
to pull it back to safety. Slowly, the truck inched back and the onlookers
watched as the Taurus moved in excruciatingly small increments. That was
done purposely, in case any of the chains gave way or the ropes broke.

Didn't make it any easier to witness though.

"Okay, bring it back, Mosconi! Go, go, go!" shouted the one of the
firefighters to the driver of the ladder truck. Several rescue team members
surrounded the Taurus as it was eased back, flat onto the shoulder of the

"HOLD UP! STOP! Mosconi, Stop!" The car started fishtailing a bit, and the
Skinner-Scully contingency held their collective breath for a couple of
anxious minutes. The chains and ropes were given another once over, and the
retrieval resumed.

Though it took only several more minutes, Walter, Maggie, and Bill felt as if
it were hours. They could only imagine what it was like for the family
inside the vehicle.


"Hey, you guys? It's almost a little like a roller coaster, isn't it?" Mulder
asked in a vain attempt to soothe the anxieties of his two children. "Hang
in there, kids, it's almost time for the firemen to get us out of here."

"Daddy, is there gonna be a fire?" asked Adam nervously.

"Fire?" echoed Mulder puzzled, and then realization hit. "No, Adam, the fire
trucks are here to help us get out of the car. There's no fire, though."

"Do I got to go to the doctor when they get us out?" the small boy asked.

"Yes, Adam.

"Can the fire truck take us?" he asked hopefully.

"Sorry, big guy, not this time. We'll have to stick with an ambulance to
take us to the hospital to be checked out."

"Even Dawnie?"

"Even Dawnie," confirmed Mulder.

"Even Mommy?"

"Even Mommy," he reaffirmed.

"And you too, right, Daddy?" probed the child.

"Yes, Sweetheart. We're all going to the hospital. We'll all be together at
the hospital."

"I don't want to go, Daddy" Adam started to whine, but moments later the
tears started to fall with vigor.

"Oh, Adam, I don't like going to hospitals either, but the doctor has to make
sure your arm is going to heal correctly. I'm sure Gamma and Gampa will be
there. Everything will be all right, Adam. You'll see," Mulder tried to
reassure, though in reality he wasn't all that sure.

Scully remained, for the most part, unconscious. She'd moaned once or twice
during the moving of the Taurus to flat ground, but she'd yet to become awake
and coherent. Mulder couldn't get it out of his mind that it was too long
for Scully to be out cold. It unnerved him that he could be sitting right
next to his wife, yet not be able to do a damned thing to help her.

Not to mention the fact that now that the car was moved, some of the pressure
of the mangled steel was off of his lower extremities. As a result, he
began to feel a bit groggy and his skin clammy. And he still had not
regained any sensation in his lower extremities.


The kids were removed from the car first and Maggie immediately climbed into
the ambulance with them. Dawn, who held onto Bunny for dear life, appeared
to have sustained only minor cuts and contusions. The car seat held fast and
did what it was supposed to do.

Once the car was righted, the EMTs made fast work of removing Adam from his
seat. His arm obviously sustained some kind of trauma, so it was immobilized
and he, as well as his sister, was carried to the ambulance immediately.
Both Adam and Dawn called out for their mother and father, but their cries
were ignored. Their ambulance left immediately.

Next, Scully was lifted from the passenger seat. The paramedics immediately
began working on her to get her vitals and to attend to the obvious injuries.
She'd sustained a deep gash on the side of her head. The air bag cushioned
and prevented her from being harmed by the windshield, but it could do
nothing for her where her head met the glass passenger window upon impact.

The EMTs communicated their preliminary observations regarding a possible
skull fracture for the female, adult victim. They were told to start an IV
with ringers lactate and to transport as soon as she was stable. She was
quickly loaded into a second waiting ambulance.

Bill and Walter looked at one another. "Go, Billy!" directed Walter and that
was all it took for Bill Scully to climb into the ambulance with his sister.

As the paramedic began to shut the back door, Dana finally began to regain
consciousness. Her first words were "Where's Mulder?"

Bill told her the truth. "He's in the car, Dana. He's coming."

"Where's Adam? The baby?"

"They're safe, Sis. We're going to meet the kids now." And with those
words, the second ambulance departed for the nearest trauma center.

Finally, it was time to get Mulder out. Unfortunately, that task appeared to
be more difficult than first thought. The front, driver's side of the car
was indeed mangled. Mulder's seat was literally pushed up and forward
towards the dashboard. He was wedged in tightly, though not as tightly as
when the pickup truck was pushing into the car door and kept the family car
hanging precariously over the side of the embankment.

When the truck was removed, so was the extra pressure, and when the car was
lowered, even more pressure was taken off of Mulder's lower extremities. The
problem was, the fact that Mulder had been tightly wedged in was what had
kept him lucid. His blood pressure had dropped dramatically due to internal
bleeding, but the high pressure provided by the mangled steel proved
lifesaving for him.

Now that there was less pressure, Mulder's blood pressure plummeted. He
exhibited telltale signs of shock; fatigue, confusion, clammy skin, chills.
As the rescue team considered the best methods of extricating Mulder from his
steel trap, they took his vitals and discovered his pulse was weak but rapid.
And his blood pressure continued to remain dangerously low.

Walter was growing impatient. He couldn't understand what was taking so long
in removing Mulder from the car so he could be checked out at the hospital.
He could see from where he stood that Mulder was conscious. He tried to
convince the paramedics to allow him to go over to the car, but they asked
him to give them room to work. He would be allowed to ride with Mulder in
the ambulance, but Skinner was firmly denied access to him before that.

So, he walked over to where a couple of the members of the emergency rescue
team were talking and immediately butted in,
"Why aren't they taking the driver out of the car?"

"Sir?" said Barbara Wilson, one of the rescue team, as she looked up. She
was sorely tempted to go tell Mr. Head Honcho FBI Man that he was being a
swift pain in the ass and that he needed to stop hampering their mission.
However when she caught his expression, Barbara realized this was no ordinary
bureau situation. This one was personal. This one was from the heart.

"We need to plan this as the victim has sustained some injuries to his lower
extremities. We don't know how serious it is, but it's enough to warrant us
going with the MAST pants, but we have to choreograph it so no one steps on
each other's toes, ya know what I mean?" she explained gently.

"MAST pants? I'm sorry, you lost me," Skinner said honestly.

"They're an inflatable pair of pants. MAST stands for Medical Anti-Shock
Trouser. In a nutshell, they're going to help stabilize him and keep his
blood pressure from dropping to the basement by pushing the flow of blood
back up to his heart. Right now, he's bleeding somewhere internally, and we
can't see where that is, but we do know it's effecting him physically and
he's going into shock."

"Shock? Well, he needs to get warm, doesn't he?" said Skinner, as he
recalled all the traumas he'd witnessed Mulder go through in the past.
Scully had always recommended putting a blanket on Mulder to get him warm.

Barbara smiled at the simplistic suggestion. In his naivete, Mr. FBI man was
offering the equivalence of chicken soup for this condition, but it was
offered in sincerity, so Barbara offered him what comfort she could.

"Yes, we'll be getting him warmed up as soon as we extricate the victim from
the accident site."

Skinner could only nod in agreement, but he was still feeling just as
frustrated at the seemingly slow pace the rescue team was taking now that it
was Mulder who was left to rescue. The AD realized the rescue team was in
constant contact with the hospital and were taking great pains to make sure
they carried out the rescue with medically sound procedure. Still, Skinner
found himself pacing and as he did so, he managed to inch closer and closer
to the vehicle.

Walter could finally see Mulder. He did not like what he saw. Mulder's
coloring was pasty and his eyelids were at half-mast. His head seemed to
loll backwards and he didn't seem alert at all. But at least he didn't seem
in pain, and Skinner considered that a small blessing.

Walter Skinner was mesmerized as the 'jaws of life' opened Mulder's car like
it was a can of tuna fish. While the team had been planning how to get him
out of the car, the paramedics had already started IV lines. Also, they'd
already put a neck brace on him and attached a backboard to him to keep him
stabilized when they removed him from the driver's seat. If there were an
injury, the paramedics and rescue team certainly didn't want to exacerbate it.

Skinner watched the team quickly lift Mulder out ever so carefully and lay
him on the ground near the anti-shock pants. With great care and efficiency
they immediately put the deflated pants on Mulder. Once they were on, the
paramedics contacted the hospital base in order to gain permission to inflate
the trousers.

As one of the paramedics inflated the trousers, Barbara monitored Mulder's
blood pressure. Once the systolic pressure was brought up to an acceptable
range, the inflation process was paused at that point. Both paramedics
listened for the emergency pop off valve, on the off chance they trousers
were over inflated.

So far, so good.

Mulder was finally ready for transport, and Walter climbed in right behind

Walter followed the gurney into the emergency room, but he was promptly
pushed back when he tried to enter the treatment room with Mulder.

"We'll let you know as soon as possible what his condition is, I promise.
Please, go wait in the waiting room," instructed the nurse in a kindly, but
no nonsense tone of voice.

Walter walked into the waiting room in a daze. He didn't understand what had
happened. They all had just spent a pleasant evening together. Bill, Jr.
was actually civil towards Mulder and Mulder took that to heart by being in
top form, socially. They sat about, told stories, and everyone laughed a
lot. They ate a delicious meal of roast leg of lamb and then had a sinfully
rich chocolate layer cake for dessert. They drank lots of coffee and enjoyed
one another's company. All of them enjoyed the children. Bill and Tara's
three youngsters got along beautifully with Dana and Fox's two kids.

So what happened? It seemed they'd only just said good night to one another
when they find themselves in yet another hospital emergency room. Why
couldn't his stepdaughter and son-in-law ever escape trouble and tragedy?

Walter found himself in the emergency room's waiting area. He looked around
for Maggie and Bill, but didn't see them. He figured since their ambulances
had left that much earlier, perhaps they were already admitted and resting in
a room. He'd have to go searching for them later, as soon as he found out
what Mulder's condition was.

He sat down heavily on the ever uncomfortable plastic, molded chair. This
hospital had grey chairs; the ones at GUMC were blue. Walter couldn't help
but think how sad it was that he could make that particular observation.

He heard the trilling of cell phone and quickly opened the line. "Skinner,"
he responded.

"Walter, where are you?" asked Maggie.

"I'm here, at the hospital. We got here a few minutes ago. They pushed me
into the waiting room. Where are you?" he asked tiredly.

"I'm in the emergency room with the kids," she replied. ''We're waiting for
the X-rays to come back to see if Adam's going to need surgery on his arm.
Billy's here with Dana, too. They're waiting for the results of her scans to
see if they need to do anything surgically."

"Oh," he replied without really thinking, but then something struck him as
odd. "You're in the emergency room?" he asked again.

"Yes, Walter. I don't understand, where are you?" Maggie asked in a tone
that conveyed confusion and anxiety all at once.

"Oh, for Christ's sake," Skinner muttered, as it finally occurred to him
where the confusion lay. "Maggie, the ambulance took us to Johns Hopkins.
Where the hell did they bring you?"

"Oh, no," she moaned. "We're at the University of Maryland Medical Center."

"Shit," reacted Walter. "He's going to go ballistic if he can't see Scully
and the kids."

"So is Dana, sweetheart. So is Dana," murmured Maggie.


The doctors had to deflate the MAST pants slowly as they continuously
monitored Mulder's blood pressure. Drugs and bags of O neg were used
liberally as a means of keeping both the blood pressure and internal bleeding
under control. Everyone was watching the numbers very carefully. Drastic
reduction of blood pressure could happen quickly and be fatal to their

It took almost forty minutes for them to safely deflate the trousers.
Mulder's blood pressure, though still low, was closer to the low end of
acceptable. A portable x-ray machine was brought in to see if there were any
observable breaks in Mulder's legs or back.

Someone had finally come out to see Walter and inform him that Mulder was at
the very least stable but more tests were needed to determine the extent of
his injuries. The nurse had suggested Walter go to the cafeteria and get a
cup of coffee, but the AD expressed his thanks and informed the nurse he
would remain in the waiting room until more was known.

Walter forced himself to be optimistic. Mulder was stable. That was good
news, wasn't it? Damn it, where the hell was Scully when he needed her.
That was her job to learn about Mulder's condition and harass every doctor
and nurse between here and kingdom come until she got the answers she was
looking for. But she wasn't here; she was miles away and in no condition to
find out anything.

They didn't know to what extent Mulder was injured. Walter couldn't help but
worry. That did not sound good. That did not sound good at all.


"Mulder?" called out Dana. Her vision was blurry when she first opened her
eyes, but she was slowly able to focus on the face leaning over her. "You're
not Mulder."

"No, I'm not Mrs. Mulder. I'm Dr. Grafton, and I'm here to do a quick neuro
check, okay?"

"Why? Where's Mulder?" she repeated.

"Mrs. Mulder, you were in a car accident. You hit your head rather hard on
the passenger side window. You suffered a concussion and you're in the
University of Maryland Medical Center. I'm here to make sure there's no
unforeseen side effects, so please, cooperate and let's get this over with,"
said Dr. Grafton with a little less patience.

"Car accident? When?"

"Just let me check your tracking ability, Mrs. Mulder. Follow the light
beam, okay?"

"When? Where? I don't remember any accident. Please! What accident?
Where's Mulder?" she demanded anxiously.

"Do you know what day it is, Mrs. Mulder?" the doctor pressed on.

"What day? It's Friday, maybe __,'' Scully hesitated. "But please, what
happened? You mentioned a car accident?"

"Apparently some drunk driver hit your car about two and half hours ago. You
and your kids were brought in about thirty minutes ago," the doctor explained.

Scully lay in the bed trying to register the doctor's words. Something
struck her and she knew she should react to it, but for the life of her she
was confused and didn't understand and__.

"The children? Ohmigod, the kids? What's wrong with them? What happened?
Are they hurt? Please, you must tell me what's going on, please!" she pleaded.

"They're fine," Dr. Grafton said in a soothing tone. "Relax, calm down, and
I'll give you whatever information I have, promise." Scully took a deep
breath and willed herself to quiet down and listen.

"Okay," the doctor continued, "your little girl is fine. She had a couple of
small cuts from some flying glass, but nothing serious. Not even a stitch
was needed.

"Your little boy, unfortunately, suffered a broken arm. It was a pretty
nasty break, but the orthopedist will be able to set it without surgery.
He's pretty lucky, that's for sure," the doctor concluded.

Scully sat in anticipation of the next piece of information, but when the
doctor remained quiet, she began to panic. "Mulder? What happened to my
husband?" she asked anxiously. "Please! You've got to tell me, no matter
what happened."

"I'm sorry, Mrs. Mulder, but I don't know about your husband. I suspect he
wasn't brought to this facility."

"What do you mean he wasn't brought here? How could they not have brought
him here? I'm here. His children are here. Why isn't he here?" Scully
demanded. Now she wasn't just upset, she was angry. No one separated Dana
Scully from her injured husband and lived to tell about it.

"Dana, honey? Walter is with him," called out Maggie as she entered the room
holding Dawn.


"Mama," cried out Dawn at the sound of her mother's voice.

"Oh, Dawn, sweetheart," cried out Scully as she held out her arms. "Adam!
Mom, where's Adam? Who's with him?"

"Calm down, Dana. Billy's with him while he's having his cast put on. Adam
is fine, sweetheart, really," Maggie reassured.

"Thank God," Dana murmured, but then realized quickly that someone was
missing. "Mulder? Where did they bring him?"

Maggie explained to Dana that the ambulance drove him to Johns Hopkins, and
then added, "I don't know why."

"But how is he?" asked Dana. "Did you speak to him?"

"I spoke with Walter, honey. He said that he was being checked out by the ER
doctors," replied Maggie cryptically.

"How badly is he hurt, Mom?"

"I don't know, sweetheart, I really don't. Walter said he'd call when he had
some news," she replied apologetically.

"My cell phone should be in my coat pocket," said Scully. "Call him back
now. I want to talk to the doctors," she said adamantly.

"Mama, go bye-bye. Now," demanded Dawn. She was startled a bit by her
mother's demeanor, and wanted nothing more than to go home and lay down in
her own crib.

"Oh baby, I'm sorry," soothed Scully. "I wish I could take you home, but
Mama has to go see Daddy in the hospital."

"Dana? What the hell are you talking about? You have a concussion. A
rather nasty concussion, as a matter of fact, so you are not going anywhere,
my dear girl," retorted Maggie.

"Mom, I'm not staying here if Mulder is seriously injured in some other
hospital," responded a very determined Scully.

"Oh, you think so," replied Maggie equally resolute.

"I'm afraid it would not be a wise decision to leave the hospital at this
time, Mrs. Mulder. I want to admit you for at least a twenty-four hour
observation period. You did sustain a pretty serious crack to the head."

"I'll sign myself out AMA."

"Over my dead body," Maggie proclaimed. "I am going to take your children
home to my house so they can get some sleep. Bill will remain here with you;
Walter will remain with Fox. I will keep in touch with them both and, so
help me, Dana, if I even hear that you are so much as _thinking_ about
signing yourself out, you will not hear the end of it from me. Do I make
myself clear?"

Dana looked at her mother and tried to remember the last time she'd seen her
so angry with her. She thought it was when she'd swore she'd never forgive
her brother for his role in beating up her husband, but she wasn't sure. All
she knew was she never enjoyed being around her mother when she was angry,
especially if the wrath was directed at her.

"I'll stay put, Mom." Maggie's eyebrow went up. It was obviously a genetic
trait. Scully smiled slightly as she said, "I promise, Mom."


"What kinds of tests? What are they for? Are they absolutely necessary and
can they harm him?" Walter started asking questions at the rate of a mile a
minute. The doctor simply nodded his head at each one, figuring the tall,
rather intimidating man would wear himself out eventually and allow him to
get a word in edgewise.

Finally, there was a pause in the stream of questions, and the doctor, John
Kramer, took that as his cue to begin talking.

"Okay, Mr. Skinner, you've asked a number of questions and I shall try to
answer them as best I can. Let's take a seat though, since my neck is
getting a crick in it trying to look up at you," the shorter man said lightly.

Walter let out a breath and realized he was trying to use his physical
presence to intimidate the other man and quickly realized that was probably
not the best idea. Certainly not if he wanted Mulder to receive the best
care possible. He quickly made his apologies to the doctor, which were
accepted in kind.

"Okay," began Kramer, "first off, I do have some good news. The internal
bleeding has finally been brought under control, so that' one less battle we
have to fight. But for now, he's being given the standard tests for a person
in his condition."

"But what's his condition, Doctor? No one has explained anything to me as

"No one? I thought for sure that a nurse or med student had come out to
update you. I apologize for that, Mr. Skinner. We've been inundated tonight
with emergencies, but that's no excuse for not keeping you informed. I am
sorry." Walter nodded his acceptance, and then murmured for the doctor to

"Mr. Mulder has sustained traumas to his legs and lower back. From what we
can determine visually, there is a good chance there's at the very least a
fracture of his left ankle. It was probably wedged in pretty well good when
the car hit him. Also, based upon a preliminary exam, we've administered
steroids to decrease any swelling that may have occurred to his spinal cord,
which at this point is our main cause for concern."

Walter remained silent and took this new information in. He understood the
word fracture; that was not foreign to him. However, he didn't know exactly
what the ramifications were for everything else Dr. Kramer mentioned, but any
problem that had to do with the spinal cord was obviously something that
needed to be taken very seriously.

"We've ordered a Tomogram which is simply an x-ray of the spine. We need to
identify if there are any fractures in the vertebrae.

"From there, we'll be doing a Myelogram, which allows us to insert dye around
the spinal cord to see where the spinal cord compression is."

Walter listened, but something niggled at his brain. Why were they so sure
these tests were needed? He looked at the doctor and repeated the question
aloud. Kramer looked thoughtfully back at Skinner.

"Once we removed the MAST pants and stabilized him, we did some basic tests,
such as a pin test, on Mr. Mulder. The results indicated that he's lost
feeling in his legs," explained Dr. Kramer gently.

"Lost feeling? You mean he's paralyzed?" asked Walter incredulously.

"At this moment, yes," affirmed the doctor, but he quickly added, "however,
understand we have no idea as to whether this is a permanent condition or
not. That's why we need to run the other tests."

"Yes, of course," Walter replied, dazed. He had to call Maggie and let her
know. He wished Dana were there with him; she would know the right questions
to ask.

She would know the right answers to listen for. She would know how to fix

Mulder, crippled?

That couldn't be. That couldn't be.

Scully used Billy's cellular; a very reluctant Billy's cellular.

"Dana, if Mom gets wind of you not resting, it's gonna be my hide, not
yours," he lamented.

"Then you won't be surprised if it doesn't stop me from calling Walter, now
will it?" asked Scully rhetorically as she dialed her stepfather's cell

It had been a few hours since she'd been brought to the hospital; Mulder
would have been brought to his facility after that. Maggie had explained to
her, albeit without too much detail, that Mulder needed to be extricated from
the car, so it would have taken a little longer for him to arrive at Johns
Hopkins. Therefore, any tests that needed to be run might not be finished at
that point, but it didn't hurt to try.

It worried her that she wasn't there to cover her partner's back; it unnerved
her that she didn't know what was going on. Scully had to get through to
Walter and find out his condition.

On the third ring, she heard Walter's firm, "Skinner" come across the line.

"Walter, it's me. How is he?" she asked breathlessly.

"Dana? Where are you?" he asked, confused.

"I'm at the hospital, my hospital. How is Mulder? Have they spoken to you
yet? Talk to me, Walter, please. I'm going a little bit out of my mind with
the not knowing,'' she pleaded.

"I just spoke with the doctor __."

" __And?"

"Dana, give me a chance to spit out the words. I'm not as quick with the
medical jargon as some people, okay?" He heard a contrite apology and then
continued. Walter explained that though the immediate problem of internal
bleeding had been brought under control, Mulder was apparently experiencing
some paralysis.

"Paralysis?" Scully echoed unbelievingly.

"What?" interjected Billy, equally incredulous.

"Dana, it doesn't mean it's permanent. He apparently received a pretty heavy
blow to his lower back when the car hit the driver's side. Between the air
bag and the pickup truck that collided with you, it was almost like he was in
a vice," Skinner explained.

He tried to speak in a tone that would lessen the shock of Fox's injuries,
but he soon realized that with Dana it was best to allow her to go into MD
mode and give her all of the gritty details immediately.

She'd have plenty of time to worry and grieve later, but now it was time to
give her the facts and the opportunity to give her input. Though she was no
more than five miles from Mulder's facility, it seemed like a world away, if
it gave her some sense of control in assisting in her husband's healthcare,
than it was the right thing to do. Skinner plowed full speed ahead.

"A Doctor Kramer has examined Fox and scheduled some tests to determine the
severity of the injury. And after the Myelogram, they'll do a CT scan to
see if and where there is a compression," he informed. He could hear Scully
taking deep breaths in order to calm herself, but Walter knew just how
difficult that was to do.

He was about to continue when Walter heard Billy in the background ask his
sister what was going on. Walter waited while she explained. "Okay,
Walter, Billy's up to speed. What else did this Dr. Kramer say?"

"He mentioned some other tests, something that uses electricity to test
whether Mulder's spinal cord is sending appropriate messages to his brain."
Walter paused momentarily and then muttered, "Jeeze, this is Mulder we're
talking about. When the hell has _that_ ever happened."

He actually chuckled a bit which apparently relieved some of the tension and
anxiety as, Dana couldn't help but laugh a little as well. She was grateful
for Walter Skinner's dry sense of humor; it made impossible situations almost
possible to deal with.

"What? What's so funny?" Billy said, but Dana waved him off. Some things
simply wouldn't be funny to Billy; they'd be too close to the truth in her
brother's sometimes closed, inflexible mind. This was more than likely one
of those things that would remain between her and Walter.

"Did he say anything else?" she asked quietly. Scully was beginning to tire,
and both men could hear it in her voice.

"Dana, don't you think you should say good-bye now?" asked Billy sincerely,
if not naively.

"I will when I find out what they plan on doing to help my husband, Bill."
He nodded, though there was a hint of annoyance in his expression. "I'm
sorry, Walter, you were saying?"

"Dana, he's right you know. You need your rest, too." He heard her sputter a
bit in denial, so he quickly added, "The last thing Dr. Kramer said was if
there's any compression on the spinal cord, they'll do an MRI. The doc said
they'll only do that if they think there's a compression since it shows the
spinal cord tissue but it won't do a thing to show any breaks in the spine."

Scully lay in the bed, nodding her head imperceptibly at each of Walter's
pieces of information. Of course each nod caused her to see a few more stars
each time, until even she had to admit it was time to end the conversation.

"Walter, you'll call me as soon as you know anything, right?" she pleaded.

"Of course I will, Sweetheart, you know that."

Scully returned the phone to her brother who promptly got on the line with
Walter to give him his cell phone number. However, before he hung up, Bill
took the phone into the bathroom and closed the door. He asked, "So, how's
he doing?"

"I just told Dana and I heard her tell you just about everything," responded
the AD.

"Yeah, that's the medical stuff; I mean, how's he doing in the head, ya know?
I mean Dana's about ready to jump out of her skin knowing that Mulder's not
even in the same hospital."

Walter wasn't sure how to react to this sudden interest of Bill Scully's in
Mulder's emotional wellbeing. It was certainly a surprise, if not an

But what disturbed Walter Skinner most of all was the answer he had to give
his stepson. "I don't know, Bill. They haven't let me see him yet."


Walter was finally allowed in to see Mulder once they'd finished taking the
x-rays. They were going to do the Myelogram shortly, but Dr. Kramer knew
Walter was anxious to see the patient.

When he entered the room, Walter noted that Mulder lay flat, though his legs
were slightly elevated. He had on a cervical collar, which helped remind
Mulder to keep his head and neck straight. There was a strap across both his
chest and his hips, also there as a reminder to remain as still as possible.
Walter noted with some chagrin that apparently none were needed to keep
Mulder's legs and feet still.

He cleared his throat loudly before he walked up to Mulder's bed, as Walter
didn't want to unnecessarily startle him. He then called out softly, "Fox,
it's Walter."

"Walter?" he echoed tremulously. "Jeezes, Walter, they won't tell me what's
going on!" he cried out helplessly. "I don't understand why they won't tell
me what's wrong. Why won't they tell me what's going on?"

"Shh, shh, Mulder, calm down. It's not that they won't tell you, it's that
they can't tell you yet. There's still some tests they need to run," Walter

"Tests? But how long does it take to run some tests? How many tests do they
need?" Mulder asked anxiously.

"Mulder, they need to do enough tests to make an accurate diagnosis. You
know that," Walter responded almost patronizingly.

"Diagnosis? Oh, God, what kind of diagnoses? Walter, she just had some
scratches, I swear. At least that's what Adam said. And Adam, well I think
his arm was broken, and it might have even been a pretty bad break, but I
don't think there was anything else really wrong."

Mulder paused for a moment and then in his panic, he practically began
keening when he deduced that the multiple tests were obviously for his wife,
whom he'd prayed had only suffered from a concussion, but was obviously in
much more serious condition.

Or worse.

"Ohmigod, she's dead?" he gasped. "Oh, God, please, tell me Scully's not
dead," he begged.

Walter stood there stunned. It took a moment before he realized that there
was an awful case of miscommunication going on. While Walter was positive
Mulder was talking about his own condition, Mulder was obviously thinking
only of his family. It never occurred to the AD that Mulder would have been
left in the dark regarding his wife and kids' medical conditions.

"Mulder, wait! Fox, listen to me. She's fine. Dana is fine," he repeated
several times. When it looked as though Mulder was finally absorbing that
information, Walter continued and informed him that Dawn escaped injury and
that Adam suffered a broken arm.

"It was broken in two places, but the doctor was able to set it without
surgery. The kids went home with Maggie. They'll come see you in the
morning," Walter explained.

"What about Scully? It must be bad, if she's not here berating the doctors,"
Mulder offered.

Walter smiled inwardly. He knew Mulder was right; if there were any way for
Dana Scully to be by her husband's bedside, she would be.

"No, Fox," he said gently, "it's not bad. She did suffer a pretty bad
concussion, but she'll be fine. I just spoke to her on the phone."

The relief on Mulder's face was palpable, but it quickly turned to
puzzlement. "Phone?" he asked in confusion.

The AD drew in a small breath and said, "Fox, Dana's not in this hospital.
For whatever reason, they brought Dana and the kids to U. of Maryland Medical
Center. We're in Johns Hopkins."

"Why?" he asked in a voice that was akin to a whimper.

"I don't know why. I know there were three ambulances at the scene; maybe
two were from the west side of town, and the one that took you was from the
east side. I can't explain it any better than that." Walter took noted of
the forlorn look and placed a gentle hand over Mulder's and squeezed. "I'm
sorry, Fox."

"I know. It's not your fault; it's just that __." A myriad of emotions
played over Mulder's face at that point.

Frustration. Anger. Annoyance. Confusion. Fear.

Big time fear.

"Walter, I can't feel my legs?" he queried in a whisper, as if he spoke it
aloud it would make it all the truer.

"Yes, the doctor explained to me that they needed to do some tests to see if
it's a temporary or permanent condition."

"Temporary or permanent? C'mon, Walter, this is me, Fox Mulder, remember?
Poster boy for the permanently unlucky. Who are we kidding?" He paused,
blinked his eyes in a vain effort to prevent the tears that filled his eyes
from falling, and then said in a tone that bespoke almost of bafflement,
"Damn, it's not fair! I've been happy. For the first time in I don't know
how long, I've been really happy. Why do bad things happen every time I
think my life is on track?"

Walter stood by quietly and allowed Mulder to vent his frustrations. He
sensed the younger man's feelings of helplessness; hell, he was feeling a
little helpless himself. It was Mulder's sense of hopelessness that he
wanted to put a roadblock on.

"Mulder, don't give up before you're even sure of what your fighting," the AD
offered. "You've got people who will fight whatever it is you may face with
you. You've got to realize by now you're not going to be left to stand out
there all by yourself."

"Who knows if I'm going to be able to stand at all," Mulder muttered in reply.

"Don't." It sounded like an order, and the AD meant it to be.

Unfortunately Mulder was never known to follow Walter Skinner's orders all
that well anyway. He wasn't about to start now.

"At the moment, Walter, I _can't_," he rasped, ever the cynic.

And as he couldn't turn his head away due to the cervical collar, Mulder
simply closed his eyes tightly to shut Skinner out and go deeper within

Walter didn't know what to say; he didn't have an answer for the younger man.
It wasn't fair. It was a venerable suckfest if he wanted to be vulgar about
it. He had no magic words to offer this man whom he'd grown to care about
very much in these last few years. He didn't know where he could even begin.

"Please, don't give up," pleaded Walter. "Tell me what I can do. Tell me
what you want__, need me to do."

The silence was almost painful to listen to, that was until a small, even
more pained voice sounded.

"I need Scully."

Now he knew where to begin.

"Dana, you are fucking out of your mind. What the hell do you think you're
doing?" asked her extremely irate older brother.

"I'm signing myself out AMA and going to see my husband," she responded

"You can't do that," responded Billy angrily.

"And why not?"

"Two words. Maggie Scully," he replied.

"That would be three, dear brother. Maggie Scully-Skinner."

"Right. Whatever the hell her name is nowadays, I don't want to mess with
the woman. You are not leaving this hospital, Dana," he said through a
locked jaw.

Dana leaned back down against the pillows. Her head had been feeling so much
better earlier when she'd made the impulsive decision to discharge herself
and go be by her husband's side. Now was a very different story. The
pounding began again, and she wondered if perhaps her brother was actually
being sensible.

Scully smiled wryly at that thought; Billy Scully being sensible would be an
x-file in and of itself.

She closed her eyes for a few minutes when the trill of the phone caused them
to pop open again. Billy answered it and she could hear his side of the
conversation easily. It was what was being said on the other end that had
her guessing, and worried.

"Hey, Walter, how's he doing?" Billy asked politely.

"Wow, still, huh.

"Uh-huh. I can imagine," Billy replied yet again, rolling his eyes slightly
though the tone still managed to border on polite.

"Well," he then added, a little more animated, "she almost pulled a winning
move here, Walter. My sister, the genius medical doctor/FBI agent
extraudinaire, was all ready to discharge herself with an 'AM__,' 'AM
something or other,'" Billy huffed. "Can you imagine of all the stupidest
things to want to do? She's got a God damned concussion, for crying out
loud! She could go into a coma or something, and she's ready to go
gallivanting around town.

"What?" Bill asked, surprised that his take on the situation didn't warrant
immediate agreement by the AD. "Oh, yeah, she's awake. Yeah, hold on."
Wordlessly, he handed the phone over to Scully.

"Hello? Walter, how is he?" she asked anxiously. She needed to know he was
holding up both physically and emotionally. She needed to know he could deal
with things by just having Walter there. She needed to know it wasn't
absolutely necessary for her to go against all sensibilities and reason.

She listened to Walter's voice.

She heard two words.

She said goodbye and closed the phone. She began to gingerly get out of the
bed and walked over to the closet while Bill watched her with incredulous

"You're kidding me, right?" he asked with a tone mixed with equal parts of
disbelief and ire.

"No. Are you going to just stand there, or are you going to help me?" she
asked evenly. The pounding in her head was painful, but not nearly as much
as the knot in her heart. "Billy, please, help me," she pleaded in a small
but determined voice.

"Why, Dana? Why can't you wait till morning at least?" asked an exasperated

"Because of what Walter said."

"What did he say, Dana? What could he have possibly said that would make you
behave so recklessly?" demanded Billy.

"Come, now."

She dressed quickly, as a silent Bill handed his sister her clothes piece by
piece. He mutely knelt and helped her on with her shoes. He then went to
the nurse's desk and informed one of the nurses that his lunatic sister was
going to sign herself out 'against medical advice' and would they please get
the form to her room as quickly as possible.

As the nurses clucked about declaring the foolishness of such an action, Bill
couldn't help wonder how Mulder's foolhardiness rubbed off so heavily on his
sister. How could she even think this was in anyone's best interest? he
wondered. Of course, the fact was he was most concerned about it being in
Dana's best interest.

He supposed if Dana had to be signing herself out 'AMA' and going anywhere,
at least it was to a prestigious facility like Johns Hopkins. With any luck,
she'd faint or something and be forced to lay down and get the rest she
needs. He could just as easily visit her at Johns Hopkins, right?

Scully swayed a bit as she moved over to the bathroom for a quick visit. Now
Bill was pissed. *Why the hell was she doing this to herself?* he wondered
angrily to himself.

And then he remembered vividly why.

Because if it was his Tara who was lying in a hospital without him by her
side, Bill Scully, Jr. would run to be with her, too.

The drive from the west side hospital to the east side facility took no more
than eleven, maybe twelve minutes. It was still the middle of the night, so
traffic was never a factor. Dana remained silent with her eyes closed. She
leaned back against the headrest and rested as much as possible.

The pounding in her head had nothing over the piercing glances her brother
kept throwing at her. She supposed the old expression, 'If looks could kill
__,' certainly applied there.

Though he kept glancing over, if for no other reason to make sure she hadn't
lapsed into a coma, he drove in silence. The radio remained silent as did
Bill's mouth.

He was seething and was afraid that if he did say something it would
certainly not be anything sweet and supportive, which is obviously what his
sister needed at that point. So they made the short trip across town in

When they arrived at the hospital they went directly to the emergency room as
they assumed that Mulder was still there. When they saw Walter at the
coffee machine, they knew they assumed correctly.

"Walter!" called out Scully.

Walter looked at his stepdaughter and couldn't keep the frown from forming on
his lips. She looked pale and the right side of her head sported a large
gauze pad to protect the stitches she'd received after her head hit the
passenger door window.

"Dana, sit down. Now," he ordered.

"But where's __," she began.

"__Sit," he commanded in a sharper tone as he led her to a nearby chair.
"He's been taken in for the tests I'd told you about earlier. Dr. Kramer
told me to wait here. He said they'd inform me where to go when the tests
were done."

She nodded mutely. The headache was getting worse, and she couldn't imagine
it improving until she saw her husband.

"Scully, maybe we should get a doctor to look at you?" Walter suggested
gently. "To be honest, sweetheart, you look like shit."

"Gee, thanks Sir, you say the nicest things," she muttered sarcastically, yet
her lips turned up slightly around the edges. Some truths Scully simply
couldn't argue with.

"Maybe later. First, I see Mulder," she replied stubbornly.

"Damn it, Dana, why are you being so hardheaded about this?" Bill admonished

"If I were so hardheaded, then I wouldn't be in this predicament, now would
I?" she replied wryly her eyes remaining closed.

"Did you call your mother?" asked Skinner abruptly of Billy.

"What?" he retorted. "Suddenly she's _my_ mother? What happened to her
being your wife, or _her_ mother for that matter? Thanks, but no thanks.
I'll leave that delightful little task to you, seeing as it was your idea for
her to go AWOL."

"It's AMA, Bill," Scully contradicted.

"No, I don't think so. Remember to whom you're talking, Dana; I'm Navy all
the way, and so is Mom. Once a captain's wife, always a captain's wife,
which will make you, little sister, AWOL in her eyes like it or not." Then
he turned to his stepfather and practically spat out, "Have fun explaining
this one, Walter." Bill then practically sneered.

Problem was, Walter knew his ass was going to be hung from a sling for a
while, or at least as long as it took for him to convince her they had no
choice. Of course he expected Hell would probably freeze over shortly


They'd all lost track of how much time had passed, but Dana had managed to
fall asleep on a couch (though Bill had the unmitigated pleasure of waking
her up on the hour,) while Walter dozed on and off in the chair. Dr. Kramer
sought the big man out and gently nudged his shoulder.

"Mr. Skinner? Mr. Skinner," he said as he jostled the AD's shoulder.

Walter woke with a start but quickly managed to focus on the man in front of
him. "How is he?"

"We've brought him to a private room on five while we wait for the test
results. The staff on five have been made aware of Mr. Mulder's fractured
foot and his current status, as well as any other possibilities," the doctor

"What possibilities?" called out the anxious, but weary voice from the couch.

"Dr. Kramer, this is Fox's wife, Dr. Dana Scully," introduced Walter, and
then as an afterthought, "and Bill Scully, Dana's brother."

"How do you do?" the doctor asked automatically.

"Doctor, you mentioned possibilities. What are they?" Leave it to Dana
Scully to cut right to the chase.

"Well, as I'd mentioned to Mr. Skinner earlier, we're still investigating the
cause of Mr. Mulder's paralysis," he answered. "There are a few scenarios,
but I'd rather wait until the test results come back before we discuss them,"
he said kindly, but firmly.

Though she was about to argue, Dana was simply too worn out to put up much of
a fight. She blinked to clear her eyes and then focused on her next mission.
"When can I see him?" she asked.

"We can go on up to five now; he should be in his room by the time we get

Dana, Walter, and Billy followed Dr. Kramer to the elevator. As they walked,
however, Dana began to sway. "Doctor, is it possible to borrow a
wheelchair?" asked Walter.

"I don't need __," began Dana, but she stopped herself as another wave of
dizziness took over. "Maybe it's not a bad idea," she acquiesced. Dr.
Kramer quickly requisitioned a wheelchair for her and they continued their
trip to the fifth floor.

By the time they made it to room 548, the dizziness had passed, but a new
wave of nausea came over Dana. She was exhausted and needed to lie down, but
she willed her stomach to settle as she entered the room.

The sight of him frightened her.

And it wasn't the fact that he was strapped down or wearing a soft cervical
brace or even the fact that his legs remained motionless.

With his eyes closed, it looked as though he conceded defeat before the fight
had even begun.

And the sight of him frightened her.

"Fox?" she called out to him from her wheelchair. When she received no
response, she edged closer to his bed and stood up. She realized it would be
impossible for him to see her with his body kept immobilized.

"Fox, it's me," she said. There was a sense of urgency in her tone that she
wondered if he heard. When he made no response, she gently touched his
cheek. She sighed with relief as she felt him press into her touch; he was
in there somewhere, she just needed to remind him.

No one else in the room noticed the imperceptible movement Mulder made, so
there was concern on everyone's parts about the patient's mental state. Even
Billy noted the lack of affect. He turned to Walter and whispered, "Maybe
someone should call that shrink lady of his?"

"Karen?" Walter acknowledged and then nodded. "That's probably a sensible
thing to do, Bill. Thanks," he said earnestly, and he pulled out his cell
phone to make the call. Fortunately, Dr. Karen Woods' phone number was no
longer number one on everyone's speed dial, though there was a period of time
before Dawn was born that Karen was considered practically a member of the
family. She was certainly on call often enough to be given that honorary

After he placed the call with her answering service, Walter stood beside Dana
to offer her some moral and physical support. The poor woman looked as
though she was going to fall down. She had to get some rest, or she would
end up being readmitted. "Dana, sit. Mulder's resting now," he encouraged.
He actually had no idea if Mulder was resting or simply unresponsive, but he
didn't want to say anything that might alarm her.

"It' s okay, Walter, he's with me. He knows I'm here," she whispered.

"Well, then he'll understand that you need your rest, too, sweetheart.
C'mon, humor the old man, won't you?" he cajoled.

She nodded her head slightly, but wished she hadn't as that small movement
sent some shock waves of pain through her. She moved to sit back down in the
wheel chair, but once again she swayed slightly and this time Billy rushed
over to assist her.

"C'mon, Dee, we're gonna find you a place to sleep," he said protectively.

"No, I want to stay with Mulder,'' she countered stubbornly.

"You've got to get some rest," he replied in kind, but then said, "Doc, is
there anyway we could get one of those 'Barco-lounger' type chairs in here
for my sister to rest on?"

The doctor nodded and used Mulder's buzzer to make the request through a
speaker. Not too long thereafter, an oversized lounger was brought in and
both Walter and Bill helped Scully transfer to it. The nurse dropped off a
pillow and blanket as well.

The chair was moved close enough to Mulder's bedside so she could hold his
hand. She was, however, asleep within minutes.

Now, while Scully slept, Mulder retreated, and the doctor went to check on
the test results, Walter wondered how he was going to break the news to his
wife that her daughter had gone AMA; though as he looked at his stepson, he
realized AWOL was probably more appropriate.

And it had all been his idea.

She'd taken the news a little better than he expected. Maggie had seethed,
ranted, and raved far longer than Walter would ever have imagined her doing
before she finally slammed down the phone. He wasn't sure what had him more
rattled; the fact his wife hung up on him or that his stepson seemed to be
getting way too much pleasure over his discomfort.

Of course the fact that Maggie arrived at Johns Hopkins within seemingly
minutes of hanging up the phone also increased Walter's discomfiture. He
met her outside of Mulder's room.

"How are Adam and Dawn doing?" Walter asked.

"They're sleeping now, though Adam was in some pain and the baby was having
difficulty settling down. I left poor Tara with all of them, but I wanted to
make sure my daughter wasn't in the process of killing herself while my
husband and son cheered her on," she said between a clenched jaw.

"Hey, don't look at me," whined Billy as he stood on the other side of
Skinner. "I had nothing to do with this. I tried to convince her to stay at
the Medical Center. But does she listen to me? Oh, nooo, of course not.
I'm just some dumb naval jock. Why listen to me?"

"Oh, Billy, shut up," pleaded both Walter and Maggie in unison.

"See what I mean?" he muttered aloud for everyone's benefit, though no one
cared to listen.

"How are they doing? And Walter, please, tell me the truth," demanded Maggie.

"Dana's got the mother of all headaches, and the cautious, normal, sensible
thing would have been to have her stay in the hospital over at the
University," he admitted.

"Well, that much is obvious, so tell me how bad is Fox?"

Walter hesitated for a moment before he answered. "I'm scared for him,
Maggie. I think the last time I was this scared was last Christmas. He's
here in body, but I don't know where Fox Mulder is__," he trailed off.

"All right. I need to see my children." Maggie walked through the door and
into Fox's room.


It was nearly dawn before Dr. Kramer returned to Mulder's room with the test
results. Maggie gently woke Scully, and Walter prodded Mulder. Neither was
quick to wake, though Scully did open her eyes first.

"Mulder?" she asked immediately.

It was the first time all night since Scully had arrived that Mulder showed
any physical acknowledgment that his wife was even present. He opened his
eyes, but since he was still strapped down securely to make sure no harmful
movement occurred, he couldn't see her.

He called out her name, and Scully rose as quickly as she was physically able
to in order to stand by his bedside.

"I'm here, Fox," she assured, and pressed her hand gently to his cheek. Once
again she felt him lean into her touch. He stared up at her, and with his
eyes now open she could see the unmitigated fear in them. "You'll see,
everything will be all right. I promise you, no matter what the outcome,
everything will be all right," she said with a mixture of tenderness and
determination all rolled into one.

"Doctor, do you have the results?" asked Walter.

"Well, yes and no," responded Kramer, he replied cryptically as he walked
over to Mulder's bedside so he could speak directly to his patient.

"I don't understand," said a now frustrated Maggie. "Did the results come
back or not?"

"They did," he replied while looking right at Mulder. "I have the results
from the Tomography, as well as the Myelogram. Unfortunately, the results
are inconclusive at this time."

"Inconclusive? So Doc, is that just double-talk for 'we don't know what the
hell is wrong?'" asked a slightly more brazen Bill.

"Not quite that drastic," Dr. Kramer replied patiently to Billy before he
turned back to look directly into Mulder's eyes.
"However, I can't be sure as to what exactly is causing the paralysis. We
do see some compression of the spinal cord. We're just not absolutely sure
of its cause at the moment. There's just too much swelling for us to be give
you a definitive diagnosis."

"Do you have any ideas as to what could be causing it?" asked Scully. "Any

"Personally, I think it's just the swelling. I suspect that within the next
twenty-four hours, we'll be able to determine if the paralysis is more than
just a temporary condition," he concluded.

"You believe it's only temporary?" she asked hopefully.

"Dr. Scully, I'm a little uncomfortable about making a prognosis without all
of the facts," he began. However, when he saw her expression that could only
be described as wanting, he said, "But if I were a betting man, I'd say it
was the swelling and that once it recedes, he'll gain feeling back fairly

"Will I be able to walk?" Scully looked quickly at her husband; it was the
first sounds she'd heard from him since her arrival.

"Yes, I believe so," replied the doctor. "But please, let's wait until the
swelling goes down and we're able to test my theories. You're due for
another steroid shot anyway, Mr. Mulder. If it continues to reduce the
swelling like it has been, we should be able to come closer to an answer
within the next few hours."

"Thank you, Doctor," acknowledged Scully. Mulder echoed her sentiment, but
his voice remained hoarse from disuse.

Dr. Kramer left and Scully quickly moved to get her husband some water. As
she propped the bendable straw down toward Mulder's mouth, she saw him look
up at her with startled eyes.

"What?" she asked.

"Dane, you look like shit!" he said in total surprise.

She chuckled at that and retorted, "Well, if that isn't the pot calling the
kettle black, I don't know what is!"

He actually smiled at that. When he did that, Scully knew she had her
husband back.

"You do believe me that everything will be fine, don't you?" she asked him.

"Well, to be honest, if I don't get the feeling back I don't see how
everything will be fine." Mulder looked thoughtful for a moment and then
added, "But I do know we'll get through it, somehow. I know you'll be there
for me, and somehow we'll learn to deal with it like every other crazy trauma
and tragedy we've had to live with."

"That's right, G-Man. What's one more trial and tribulation for us to go

The ironic twist of course was that everyone, including Billy, smiled at
inordinate amount of truth to that last statement.


It was just as Kramer had thought. By late afternoon, Saturday, the swelling
had gone done enough that the pressure on Mulder's spinal cord had eased
considerably. He was now feeling the 'pins and needles' sensation. The
feeling was returning and it was apparent to everyone that Mulder's paralysis
was only temporary.

"So, Doc, when do I get out of these restraints?" Mulder asked with
considerably more animation.

"Just as soon as we do a CT scan. I want to make sure there's no other
reason other than the swelling that caused the loss of sensation. You do not
want to ever have to see me again, Mr. Mulder."

"No, I'm afraid you're absolutely correct on that."

There was a knock on the door, and Billy poked his head in. Earlier, he'd
taken a cab back to his mother's house to pick up the car, Tara, and the
children, so they could see Mulder and Dana.

"Anyone up for a couple of visitors? They've been kind of anxious to get
here," Bill said with a smile. Though the amount of disdain Bill had felt
for Mulder never varied too much too much over the years, the fact that Bill
adored the Mulder kids was no secret. Adam was a Scully 'through and
through' in Bill's eyes, while Dawn was a little spitfire, just like her mom.

"Yes, but no jumping on the bed. Not until we're absolutely sure of what's
the origin of the paralysis," ordered Dr. Kramer.

The children were brought in and appropriately warned of their dad's current
limitations. Neither flinched at the notion that Daddy couldn't really move
at the moment, and that they both had to be extremely gentle with him.

While Billy held Dawn (who miraculously still held onto the much beloved
Bunny,) and Walter held Adam, both children were allowed to lean over and
give their daddy a much-awaited kiss. Mulder finally found something to
really smile about.

The visit didn't last very long; Mulder tired very easily, as did Scully.
The need to be gentle and quiet around their father lost its appeal fairly
quickly for the children, so Maggie decided it was best if Bill took the
children back to the house for snacks and a nap. Although he was certainly
beyond the napping age, Adam was still in a bit of discomfort, so no one
would have been surprised if he laid down for a catnap, too.

Mulder was then wheeled down for the CT scan, which was hopefully going to
render negative results. The test didn't take too long to administer from
start to finish, and he was brought back to his room in time for a late
dinner. Once everyone managed to take in some nourishment, Kramer came in to
do a recheck and discuss the results.

He tested Mulder's sensitivity and did the pin test to see if he could
determine the blunt and pointy sides. A strength test was also performed,
and Mulder was finally able to demonstrate some control over his lower
extremities. Finally, the CT scan results confirmed Dr. Kramer's preliminary
diagnosis. The swelling decreased and there were no other injuries noted.

"Now, that doesn't mean you're ready to get up and do an Irish Jig, but I
suspect with a couple of weeks of 'R & R' and another couple doing some
strengthening exercises provided by our esteemed Physical Therapy department,
you should be okayed for active duty again, Mr. Mulder."

Mulder couldn't say a word. It was such an amazing relief to him that a
truly horrific end did not come to pass. He wondered if perhaps his luck was
changing. Maybe it wasn't so unlucky to be Fox Mulder any longer.

"When can I get sprung from this place?" asked Mulder.

"Now, that's the Fox Mulder I know and love!" reacted Scully.

"I suspect that to release you too soon would not allow your lovely wife to
have some R & R of her own, now would it?" asked Dr. Kramer with a smile.

"Oh, you've treated my husband before?" chuckled Scully.

"No, but I know the type," answered Kramer in kind. "Besides, I was planning
on holding on to you, Mr. Mulder for at least another twenty-four to
forty-eight hours. Just about the right amount of time to heal a concussion,
too, I expect."

"Do I at least get to sit up?" asked Mulder. "This flat on my back is
getting old real fast."

"We'll elevate you a little, but I'd like to keep as little stress off of
your spinal column as possible for the rest of the day. Tomorrow we'll see
how you're doing, okay?"

Mulder acknowledged him with a nod, but then quickly added, "Doc, I'd like to
thank you."

"No thanks necessary, Mr. Mulder. It's gratifying enough to see a case end
with a happy ending. Doesn't happen nearly enough," he responded earnestly.

"Well, thanks just the same," Mulder responded. "I wasn't sure which way
this was going to go, and I just want to let you know I do appreciate your
efforts. It helped more than you know."

Kramer reached over to elevate Mulder's bed a few degrees and then extended
his hand. They shook and the doctor explained that a therapist from PT would
be coming in sometime tomorrow to discuss a therapy schedule. Kramer said he
would drop by tomorrow to check on the progress, but he encouraged Mulder to
stay put and take it easy.

"When do I get the damned Foley removed, Doc?" he asked.

"When I put in the order for it," he replied coyly. "Follow orders, Mr.
Mulder, and that may happen sooner than later. Or maybe not.

Everyone, with the exception of Mulder of course, chuckled at that. Scully
couldn't help but wonder if her husband's reputation preceded him even there
at Johns Hopkins.

She supposed that was a possibility, but she knew at least one thing. This
particular trial and tribulation was a relatively mild one, and she was
grateful for the respite. She was wise enough to know there would most
likely be a next time. And they might not be quite so lucky that next time.

Then again, this is Fox Mulder she was talking about. She smiled. This is
the man that was able to bounce back from just about anything. So, maybe the
next time they would be lucky enough.

And with any luck at all, there won't be a next time.

Scully smiled at that thought, shook her head lightly, and bent down to give
her husband a kiss.



Please send comments and feedback to: