Subject: New! Macho Man by Susan Proto
Date: Tue, 19 Jan 1999

Category: Story, ANGST, M/S/Sk friendship

Rating: PG13 for language

Spoilers: through season six

Summary: Mulder faces a new crisis; one that he's not too sure he won't
have to face alone.

Archive: Yes

Disclaimer: Chris Carter owns the ones you recognize. I'm just borrowing
'em. I'll give 'em back. Later.

The site addy for Susan's Garden (courtesy of the incredible Shirley
Smiley/Web Mistress Supreme of MTA) is:

Some additional author notes at the end of part 2.

Thanks Vickie for letting me spring this one on you…

Thanks in advance for all of your kind words, past and future.
Please send e-mail comments to:

Macho Man
by Susan Proto (

Part 1/2

Scully dropped her bag down on the living room floor and simply left it
there. She was totally and completely exhausted. The original flight she and
Mulder were supposed to have caught was canceled due to fog, so they had to wait
for over three hours for another flight which turned out to be one that had a two
hour layover halfway through the journey.

Scully was not a happy camper. No, not at all.

Which made the fact that Mulder had followed her into the apartment all the
more dangerous. He knew she blamed him for the fiasco. He just _had_ to
check out one more lead during their suspension. And since they weren't on
bureau time, all of the expenses for the trip were out of pocket. Mulder
promised Scully he'd reimburse her for every penny she spent.

When she didn't argue the point with him, he knew that meant she was really
pissed off with him.

He also promised he'd take care of dinner, which is why he followed her into
her apartment. She'd dropped her bag and never turned back as she headed
directly for the bathroom. He could hear the bath water running.

"Okay, Scully, why don't you take a bath while I call in for some Chinese take
out?" he called out. She didn't answer him. Why wasn't he surprised?

God, he was tired. It was a long, long day, and he was not only exhausted
physically, but he was whipped mentally as well. He was grungy from the long
trip and decided, short of jumping into the bathtub with Scully, he'd try and
make himself a little more comfortable. He stripped off his tie and dress
shirt and then tucked his tee-shirt back into his slacks.

Mulder felt totally disgusted with himself and with his life at the moment.
He'd really hoped this lead would pan out, but it didn't. He knew he
shouldn't be surprised about this either. His leads rarely, if ever, actually
led to anything.

Well, the only saving grace was he and Scully still had another week left to
their suspension. Not that suspension was ever a good thing; it was just nice
to know they had at least a few days to recover from this latest escapade.

"Moo shu chicken, Scully?" he yelled out. No answer. Well, he knew she
liked moo shu chicken, so he order it for her and some extra pancakes too.
They never give you enough pancakes with moo shu chicken. The order for the
moo shu is huge, but they'll only supply like three pancakes. Ridiculous. He
ordered a shrimp in lobster sauce, no peas, and a chicken fried rice.

He hadn't realized how hungry he was until he started ordering. He decided to
treat himself and Scully to a couple of egg rolls too. The take out guy told
him it would take about twenty minutes.

Mulder plopped down on Scully's couch and made himself at home. He began
flipping the channels via Scully's remote control and slowly, lulled himself
to sleep.

Until the doorbell buzzed. Loudly. Mulder jumped up, startled, and
immediately reached for his out of reach gun. "Great FBI agent you are,"
Mulder muttered aloud to himself, "Can't even find your Goddamned gun!"

Mulder checked the peep hole and saw it was, indeed, dinner. He opened the
door, handed the guy a twenty and told him to keep the change.

"Hey, Scully! Food's here," he shouted out. Several minutes passed by, when
Mulder was just about to knock on the bathroom door to make sure she hadn't
fallen asleep, or in Mulder's paranoid brain, drowned, in the bathtub, when
Scully walked out in her white terry robe and her hair wrapped in a terry

"Feel better?" he asked tentatively.

"Well, a little more human, Mulder, but that's about all. What's for dinner?"
she asked.

"Shrimp in lobster for me, moo shu for you," he replied with poetic flair. He
did not get the hoped for reaction. She continued to pout.

"Did you order extra pancakes?" she asked.

"Of course," he replied with a knowing smile.

"Good. They never give you enough pancakes," she complained, as she began
to prepare her moo shu pancake. She heaped a couple of tablespoons of the
mixture on the thin pancake and then rolled it up very carefully. She picked
it up and was about to take a bite when Mulder interrupted her.

"Here, I bought us a treat," he said as he offered her the egg roll.

"I've got my hands a little full here, Mulder," Scully replied with a hint of

"No problem. Here, open wide," he said as he attempted to put the egg roll
in her mouth for her to take a bite.

"Mulder, no. I'll take it later," she refused. She was hungry, tired, and
extremely cranky. She wasn't in the mood for small talk or silly games.
Scully wanted to fill her stomach and then go to bed.

"Aw c'mon, Scully, taste a little piece. They make the best egg rolls in
Georgetown," he urged.

Scully sighed and decided to appease him just to get him off of her back. She
opened her mouth, and Mulder brought the egg roll to her mouth. The only
problem was, he shoved it a little too hard, and, surprisingly, it was a
little too hot. Scully dropped her moo shu pancake and proceeded to push
Mulder away.

"What?" he asked in surprise.

"Hot!" she explained. "God, Mulder, are you trying to burn my tongue out?"

"Who moi?" he asked teasingly, but Scully was not in the mood to be teased.
She was exhausted, she was hungry, and the last thing she wanted was to
folded, spindled, and mutilated. The roll was too damned hot, and she was
annoyed Mulder didn't appear a little more contrite.

"Damn it, Mulder, you could have hurt me," she complained.

"Aw, Scully, I'm sorry. Really," he responded and placed his hand on her

"Oh, just forget it, Mulder!" she retorted as she nudged his arm out of the

"Scully, I said I was sorry, damn it," he replied a little more angrily than
he'd actually intended. It had been a long trip for both of them, and they
were obviously _both_ getting a little testy. "Look, I really didn't mean to
hurt you," he replied with a pout.

"Oh, would you please knock off the little boy pout, Mulder? I'm not
falling for it this time, do you hear? Not this time! Get it?" she asked and
emphasized her emotions with her index finger poking firmly into Mulder's

"Hey!," he reacted in surprise.

"Oh, for crying out loud, Mulder, I hardly touched you!"

"Well, it didn't tickle, that's for sure, " Mulder retorted.

"Oh, well, if it's a tickle you want__," she began to taunt.

"Scully, don't even think about it," he warned.

But she not only thought about it, Scully acted upon it. She began tickling
her partner and getting in a couple of gentle pokes as well. until he finally
yelled out in total consternation, "Scully, knock it off already!"

"Oh c'mon, give me a break, okay? God, I'm so tired I think I'm punch
drunk!'' she said with a sigh.

"Yeah, well, just cut it out, okay?" he asked quietly.

"Fine, Mulder, now I'm sorry." Scully took a deep breath and groaned, "God,
I remember when Bill used to nab me and try to tickle me to death. I wanted
to kill him; I thought I was going to die." Scully reflected back on her
ambivalence with her eyes closed for a moment or two. When she finally did
open them again, she saw Mulder rubbing his chest a little, in small,
circular motions.

"Mulder? Hey, I really am sorry. I didn't hurt you, did I?" She saw him
shake his head only slightly, so she asked, if only to reassure herself ,
"Really, are you okay?"

"Yeah," he said, but not very convincingly, as he was actually surprised to
feel a slight wetness in the area of his right nipple..

"Mulder, I asked if you were okay," Scully repeated, not believing him for a

"And I said yes. Drop it, Scully."

"Mul-der__," she growled.

"Damn it, I said I'm fine. I'm going home, Scully. I'll call you tomorrow."
He got up to ready himself to leave. He had to get out of there; he didn't
know why, but all of a sudden, he felt extremely self-conscious and

"Mulder, sit down. You're not going anywhere," his partner ordered, and
before he could protest his health was fine, she merely said, "You didn't
even touch your shrimp in lobster sauce."

He gave a quick glance and wondered if she was really willing to call a truce
at the moment. He was hungry. Airplane peanuts and ice tea did not a meal
make. He quietly sat back down, a little wary, but he sat.

He reached over for the container of shrimp and then reached over further to
get the fried rice. As he did so, his tee shirt stretched taut against his
chest. It was then she saw the small ring of moisture around the area of his
right breast, right by the nipple.

She couldn't help but wonder if she'd done that to him, but then realized it
was most unlikely. However, something was definitely wrong, but she wasn't
sure if she could get Mulder to submit to an exam.

"Mulder, does your chest hurt?" she asked cautiously.

"No," he replied honestly. It really didn't hurt.

"Mulder, it looks like you have a bit of a discharge around your right
nipple,'' she said even more cautiously. If there was one thing Scully did
not want to do was scare him away.

"I'm sure it's nothing, Scully. C'mon, I'm hungry. Wanna try some of my
shrimp in lobster sauce? I told 'em to leave the green peas out. Whatever
would possess people to put green peas in a perfectly good dish of shrimp in
lobster sauce?

"I mean green peas and mashed potatoes, now that's a combination, but in
lobster sauce? Give me a break," Mulder rambled on in a vain attempt to
deflect his partner's attention. He knew in his heart it was hopeless, but
Mulder wasn't going to give in without at least a half-hearted fight.

"Mulder," Scully said very gently, but very firmly, "I want to check you

He chuckled nervously as he said, "You coming on to me, Scully?"

She answered his comment by pointing to his shirt. He knew it was pointless
to put up any kind of protest, so he pulled it up over his chest and head.
Scully could see him shudder, though she wasn't sure if it was more out of
feeling chilled or nervous.

In fact, if Scully had asked Mulder at that very moment what he was feeling,
his honest answer would have most likely been, embarrassment. Rationally, he
knew there was no reason for him to feel embarrassed; Scully had examined him
many times in the past. But this time, for some reason, he felt uncomfortable
and perhaps even a little humiliated.

As she raised her hand up to exam Mulder, she noticed him flinch a bit.
"Mulder, I swear, I'll be gentle. Now let me check you out. I just want to
see what this discharge is all about."

First she looked closely and noticed a slight concentration of fluid around
the right nipple. "Mulder? When's the first time you noticed a discharge?"
she asked in prime MD form.

"Tonight," he whispered in reply, and that was the truth too. Right now,
however, he wanted this to be over with. He didn't understand why he felt
so damned vulnerable, but he did, and he just wanted to put his shirt back on.

Scully raised her hand and gently palpated the area in small circular motions
to check the breast area. She couldn't feel anything conclusive, but it then
occurred to her it might be easier to detect something if she let gravity help
her out a little.

"Mulder, lay down for me, okay?"

"Why?" he asked anxiously.

"I need to check your chest, and I know it's easier to detect lumps if you're
laying down," she explained.

"Lumps?" he echoed incredulously. "Scully, what the hell do you think
you're looking for? For crying out loud, this is nuts. I'm going home."

He nearly got up off the couch, but Scully's well placed hand on his chest
pushed him back down. Hard.

"C'mon, Scully. What the hell do you think you're doing?" he asked nervously.
He was so uneasy about this whole situation, yet he didn't understand himself
why that was so. All he knew was he wanted to put an end to this episode and
either go back to his shrimp in lobster sauce and pretend none of this had
ever happened, or he was going home.

Mulder was smart enough to know the former was less than likely, so he'd
have to shoot for the latter. Didn't mean he was likely to succeed however.

"Mulder, this will only take a few minutes. Just lie down so we can get this
over with, okay?" she cajoled.

"Scully, I'm going home. I'll call __."

"__Damn it, Mulder. Would you please cut the crap! I'm tired, I'm achy, and
I'm too damned grouchy to have put up with your shit. Now just lay down, so
I can check you out and then we can get on with our lives," she groused. When
he failed to move as quickly as she'd have liked, she repeated in a rather
loud, stern, no-nonsense voice, "DO IT!"

He did. And he felt like a complete idiot, but he was also nervous as any
adolescent. He remembered as a young teenager he'd gone to the doctor
because one breast seemed to have suddenly grown a little larger than the other. He
was really self-conscious about it since he was on the swim team, and was
constantly baring his chest in front of everyone.

He remembered feeling exactly the same way then as he did now when Scully
started examining him. Of course, back then the he remembered the doctor also
checked his testicles. If Scully so much as even hinted that she wanted him
to drop his pants, he'd be out of the door in a second.

Right now, however, all he wanted to find a nice hole in the ground and jump
in. He'd get out when this whole embarrassing situation was over. His
teenage predicament, they'd found out, was due to medication he was taking
for a mild seizure disorder he'd experienced as a child. When it was determined
the medication could be stopped, the small growth in breast size diminished
as well, and there was no further problem.

Mulder wasn't so sure this was going to be solved so easily this time, at
least not by the expression on Scully's face.

"What?" he asked tentatively.

"Mulder, I want you to feel this," she said as she reached for his hand and
placed his fingers right beneath the areola on his right breast. She pushed
his fingers down and then guided them in small circular movements. "Do you
feel that?" she asked quietly.

Mulder concentrated hard to focus on what Scully was so concerned about. It
felt like a pebble. A tiny, tiny pebble. It was nothing, he told himself, it
was a tiny, tiny nothing.

"Mulder? Do you?" she repeated.

All he wanted to do was shout at her that it was nothing. A teeny, tiny
nothing, and to just let go of his hand and let him put his shirt back on
and everything would be fine. Just fine. He felt fine.

"Yes," he whispered back instead. "Scully, I'm cold." And he was. He
suddenly started shivering, even his teeth were chattering. He began to sit
up. He looked at Scully for a moment, but then he quickly looked away. He
couldn't face this. Not with her. Besides, it was a teeny, tiny nothing.

He managed to sit up and swing his legs back onto the floor. He put his tee
shirt back on and then stood up to put his dress shirt on. DC was chilly this
time of year. He didn't want to catch pneumonia on his way home.

He was going home. He didn't want to discuss this situation any longer.
No, this conversation was closed.

"Mulder, where are you going?"

"Home. I'm really tired all of a sudden."

"But what about your dinner?" she asked, knowing that subject would no
longer lure him to stay.

"I'm not so hungry anymore. Keep it in the fridge for a couple of days.
Shrimp in lobster sauce makes a great leftover," he said as he tried very
hard to maintain some sense of normalcy.

"Well, take it home with you then," she responded, if for no other reason than
to just keep the conversation going and Mulder in her apartment for that much
longer. She didn't want him going home to an empty apartment. She really,
really thought he needed to stay with her.

However, Scully was the last person Mulder felt he should be with at that
moment. Scully lived through one cancer scare already; he didn't want her
to have to relive that. Hell, he didn't want to relive it. No, he was going
home to his nice, empty, void of anyone to make him feel guilty, apartment.

"Nah, I'd probably just drop it on the way home. You keep it for me, 'kay?
I'll speak to you later," he said as he slipped on his shoes. He grabbed
his jacket, then his trench coat, and left.

Without looking back. Like an ostrich with his head in the sand.

End of Part 1/2


Macho Man
by Susan Proto (

Disclaimers in Part 1

Part 2/2

During the next week of their involuntary suspension, Scully must have
telephoned and asked Mulder at least a dozen times if he’d made an
appointment to see a doctor. And at least a dozen times, Mulder responded
with a vague, "I’m fine," or "I’ll take care of it, Scully."

From what she could tell, he never took care of it. From what she could
tell, he was not fine either.
She knew he was worried, and it drove her nuts that he was delaying taking
care of something that was potentially not only career threatening, but life
threatening. She didn’t know how to convince him he couldn’t ignore this.
She couldn’t understand why he was ignoring this. It wasn’t going to go

When he was a teenager, the gynecomastia went away shortly after the
seizure medication was stopped. It went away before, so why, he reasoned
irrationally, wouldn’t it go away on its own again.? Mulder knew he was
only fooling himself, and he knew he was acting foolishly as well. Yet, for
reasons only he could understand, he found it very difficult to accept the
idea he might have it.


Breast cancer.

It was bad enough to think he might have the big ‘C’, but a damned woman’s
disease? It was hard enough being thought of as "Spooky" by his peers and
incompetent by his current AD. He couldn’t even imagine what the guys in the
bullpen or AD Kersh would think about him if they found out he might have
fucking breast cancer. It was hard enough being perceived as abnormal and
inadequate, but to have his masculinity doubted even for a second; well, he’d
gone through that in High School.

Been there, done that. Would be damned if he were going to go through it

Even if it meant taking a risk. A big risk.
So he returned to work that Monday with two large coffees in his hand. The
one with sweet and low and skim milk was handed to his partner as a kind of
peace offering. He put the second one, black with three sugars, on his desk.
He sat down and asked Scully if there was anything interesting on the agenda
for the day.

"What time is it?" she asked.

"What?" He looked quickly at his watch and said, "8:23."

"No, what time is your appointment?" she asked a little more loudly than he
would have wished.

"Scully, come on. This is neither the time nor the place," he replied

"Oh? Funny, since you refused to acknowledge me in the privacy of our homes,
I figured you wanted to discuss it here in public, in the bullpen," she said
a little more loudly than even she’d intended.

"Scully, knock it off!"

"I will not knock it off, Mulder. You have to make an appointment to __, to
___," she hesitated for the right words. "__To take care of the matter. Now, would
you like me to make the appointment for today or tomorrow?" she asked loudly
enough for AD Kersh to step out of his office and into their area.

"Scully. Mulder. Into my office. Now!" Kersh ordered with annoyance.

Scully slammed the phone she’d picked up to phone the doctor with and stood
up quickly. She shoved her chair under her desk and moved hastily into the
AD’s office. Mulder stood up more silently, but the anger was simmering inside.

He knew Scully was only looking out for his well-being, but she had no right to
bring the subject up in the office the way she did. The one thing he was
desperately trying to avoid happened. She brought undue, negative attention
to him (and unavoidably to herself as well) and caused them to get called on
the carpet again by the AD.

Mulder was so tired of being on the man’s shit list. He was really hoping
for a nice quiet week. Right. Like he was capable of ever having that happen
to him.

"You’ve been back what, twenty-three minutes, and already I’m thinking of
suspending you again for conduct unbecoming a Federal Officer. What the
hell is it with you two? Do you really want to be booted out before you’re
vested?" Kersh asked in a tone not unlike all the other, dozens of times
he’d spoken with them about their proclivity for getting into trouble.

"Sir, I apologize, but it’s just that I’m very concerned__," Scully began
but Mulder cut her off immediately.

"__What Agent Scully is trying to say is she’s sorry we brought a matter
that had no business being discussed in the office to the office," he stated
through clenched teeth.

"And what matter might that be?" asked Kersh, more annoyed with his agents
than curious.

"That’s not open for discussion," Mulder stated quickly and firmly.

"Mulder," Scully began, knowing she was going to probably make him angrier
with her than he’d ever been before, but his health was at stake, and if he
didn’t care enough about himself, then she would have to care enough for
both of them. "I am going to tell him."

"Scully. Please. It’s none of anyone’s business," he now pleaded.

"It is if you don’t do anything about it!" she responded with frustration.
"Damn it, Mulder, if you would just take care of it, then we wouldn’t be in
this predicament.

"Enough!" cried out AD Kersh angrily. "You will tell me what the hell is
going on here, or I’m gonna suspend both your asses so long you’re going to
be in rocking chairs, white hair, and dentures before you ever see the light of
day inside this building again. Now, tell me what the hell is going on?"
Mulder stood there stonily, with his hands behind his back, nervously fumbling
his fingers. He would not speak of it, and he prayed Scully had enough
respect for his feelings that she wouldn’t speak either.

"Sir," she began tentatively, and then she looked at Mulder who refused to
look at her. Scully silently prayed Mulder would forgive her this
transgression. She knew he was going to be terribly hurt by her now, but
she felt she didn’t have a choice. Scully knew Mulder thought she would betray
him by telling Kersh of the situation.
However, Scully could only think of what a betrayal it would be if she allowed
him to go on with his game of pretend; his obvious attempt to live out the
adage of ‘ignorance is bliss.’ He was going to be angry, yes, but she knew
he was also going to feel a hurt beyond what he’d hadn’t felt in a very long

"Sir," she began again, "It is my professional, medical opinion, Mulder needs
to see a doctor as soon as possible."

"Oh, really, Agent Scully?" asked Kersh skeptically. "And when did your
degree in pathology give you the ability to diagnose live patients?"

"Sir__," she began before Mulder cut her off.

"__Exactly, AD Kersh, so if you would accept our apologies for causing such a
ruckus and taking up your valuable time, we’ll go back to our desks and get
to work."

"Cut the crap, Agent Mulder. Agent Scully? Would you answer the question?"
Kersh asked again.

"Sir, any first year medical student can determine the symptoms Agent Mulder
is presenting warrants medical attention," she replied in a deceptively
confident voice. Inside, she was dying as she realized what repercussions
might now result.

"What symptoms, Agent Scully?" the AD asked indifferently.

Mulder became more and more annoyed as time went on. The AD was merely going
through the motions before he suspended their asses again, so Scully was going
to end up humiliating Mulder for no God damned reason at all.

"Discharge from the right breast nipple, and a small, pebble like lump under
the right areola," she replied without emotion.

Mulder now stood without movement and stared straight ahead. He refused to
look at Scully or Kersh. He did however pray for the ‘big one’ to hit and
have the ground open up and swallow him whole.

"Is that all?" he asked.

"Yes, Sir. As far as I can determine," she replied in an even, professional

"Agent Scully, and when did you observe these symptoms?" Kersh asked.
Mulder continued to look straight ahead. Now they were in shit’s creek.
Now Scully was going to answer truthfully and though there was absolutely
nothing in the FBI rules of protocol about partners socializing after hours, for
some reason, Mulder had a feeling Kersh had a different rule book for him and

"Agent Mulder and I returned from a trip during our ‘down time’, Sir, and
while we’d been relaxing and eating dinner, I noticed his shirt appeared damp.
I then asked Agent Mulder if he was feeling any discomfort, and he replied in
the negative.

"As I had reason for concern, I asked Agent Mulder to remove his shirt so I
might do a perfunctory examination. After much reluctance, Agent Mulder
finally agreed. It was during my exam that I noticed the small, pebble sized
lump in his right breast. I then informed Agent Mulder it was very important
to have a doctor who specializes in this are to examine him more thoroughly,"
she concluded.

Mulder stood, to all appearances, stoically, but on the inside he felt a
little piece of him died. He didn’t need any kind of cancer to kill him off;
he had Scully and Kersh to do it for him. He couldn’t remember the last time
he felt so betrayed and so humiliated at the same time. He concentrated on
taking one breath at a time. He didn’t want to give anyone the impression he
wasn’t in complete control, even the truth were told, he wasn’t.

Scully, meanwhile, also stood as calmly as she ever hoped was possible and
waited for the other shoe to drop. Like Mulder, she was aware of no such
legitimate rule of protocol about partners fraternizing during non-working
hours, but she also realized Kersh had been looking for anything and
everything to nail their sorry butts with to kick them out of the bureau.

She still wasn’t sure why, though she suspected having Cancerman smelling up
his office was a good place to start. But now she too stood, waiting for
Kersh to jump at the opportunity she’d just presented to him on a silver platter.
Kersh looked at both of them with as stern expression as he’d ever presented
to them before. And then he spoke.

"Agent Mulder, stop being an idiot. Go make an appointment with your
personal physician. Now. You are both dismissed."

The AD looked away and starting fussing with the documents and files on his
desk. Mulder said nothing and left the AD’s office as quickly as possible.
Scully, on the other hand, remained in place.

The AD looked up a few moments later and saw she still remained.
He looked at her, expectantly, and waited for the inevitable.

"Who?" she finally asked.

"My wife. Ten years ago. She was around the same age as Agent Mulder is now."
The AD paused for a moment to take a deep breath and then said, "See that he
gets help, Agent Scully. I'll try to do what I can," he said.

Scully stared at him with a look of disbelief. "Yes, Sir," and then added
gratefully, "Thank you." She left the office, shaking her head, and expecting
to find Mulder pouting by his desk.

The desk was empty.

"Damn it!" she muttered under her breath. "Damn you, Mulder and all of your
God damned baggage." She grabbed her coat in the hope she knew exactly
where he went.
She walked toward their bench and saw the solitary figure sitting there in the
wind and cold. She walked up and sat down next to him, silently placing his
coat, the one he'd left in the office, around his shoulders.

He didn't speak, but he did wrap the coat tighter around him. Scully wasn't
sure if that gesture was more to keep the warmth in or her presence out. She
didn't know what to say. She didn't know where to begin.

"Mulder __."

"_Don't," he interrupted, "please don't say a word."

"I know you're hurt Mulder, but do you really expect me to stand by silently
and watch you possibly kill yourself because you're embarrassed?"

"If I ask you to leave it alone, I expect you, as a friend, to respect my
wishes," he said. "I don't expect friends to betray me."

"And if it were me, Mulder? For God's sake, it was me! Did you stand idly by
and wait for the cancer to consume me, or did you run around, doing more
illegal acts than I would have ever dreamed of any one person doing, and you
have the nerve to sit here and say you expected me to _respect_ your wishes.
Well, you know what, Fox Mulder. Fuck you.

"That's right. Fuck you!" cried out Scully in a voice laced with equal
measurements of anger and fear.

''Scully __," he stammered.

"_Don't Scully me. I don't want to hear your God damned excuses anymore!
Mulder, you may have a heinous, malignant growth inside your chest that has
to come out. It will kill you if in fact it is cancer. I swear to you, Mulder,
if I have to knock you out and drag you to the God damned hospital myself, I
will," she snapped.

"May I join the party?" a deep voice from behind asked.

"Sir!" acknowledged Scully in surprise. "What are you doing here?"

"AD Kersh phoned me and apprised me of the situation," Walter Skinner

"Wonderful! Who the hell in the else in the bureau knows my medical problems?"
Mulder cried out in anguish. "Why can't you all mind your own business?"

"Agent Mulder, you've been my business for over the last six years," replied
the AD.

"Haven't you figured that out yet?"

Mulder looked at his former supervisor and wasn't sure how to interpret his
words. Mulder knew he'd always made life miserable for Skinner; he also knew
that when push came to shove, the man had backed him and Scully up more
times than not.

"Why are you here?" Mulder asked softly. He really didn't know.

"Your supervisor was worried about you. He also knows you and he do not share
the best of relationships, so he thought maybe I might be able to talk some
sense into you.

"Mulder, what the hell are you so afraid of? You may have a tumor in your
chest. What? Because it's in your breast instead of your lung it's less
manly? Fox, there is nothing manly about cancer, no matter where its
location," the AD admonished.

"I know. I know I'm being totally irrational here, but I'm __." Mulder
stopped mid-sentence.

"It's okay to be afraid, Mulder, but for God's sake, use the fear to be
proactive. Don't sit around like some ignoramus who doesn't know any better
and allow something that could have been prevented to kill you," Skinner

"My head knows you're right, Sir," Mulder began. "I'll make the

"No," said Scully.

"No?" echoed both men.

"Hospital. Now. Let's go," she said in a terse, angry voice.

"Scully, what's wrong? I said I'd make an appointment," Mulder asked in

"To hell with you, and what you say you'll do, Mulder," Scully spat out.
"I've been eating my heart out for the last week over you and what you should
do, and what you said you would do, and I don't trust you to spit across the
fucking street. You're going to the hospital, now. And I don't want to hear
one word out of either of you."

Scully stood up and began the walk back toward the bureau garage. The two men
soon realized she expected them to follow her obediently. They did.
They arrived at George Washington University Medical Center about fifteen
minutes later. Both men assured Scully it made more sense for them to stay
with her to park the car, as they would rather her nearby to explain the
symptoms to the doctors on staff.

She opened her car door and got out while the AD got out of the front
passenger seat. He in turn opened the back door and waited for Mulder to
climb out. "Mulder, you coming?" he asked unconcerned at first. But then he
noticed the younger man's pallor, and Skinner soon realized Mulder was not
going anywhere without some help.

"C'mon, Mulder. Give me your hand," the AD said gently.

"I am so scared." Mulder had declared his fears so softly, Skinner had to
strain to hear what he'd said.

"I know, Fox. Scully and I are here for you though, you know that, don't
you?" Mulder nodded numbly and grasped Skinner's extended hand. He climbed
out of the car, and Skinner whispered into Mulder's ear, "We're both right
here for you."
Mulder nodded again, and felt like the character out of the movie, "Dead Man
Walking." He walked with his head looking straight ahead of him. He could
feel Skinner holding his arm, but he still felt bereft. Something was
missing, and the fear was still there.

Then Scully threaded her fingers into his and suddenly Mulder felt a little
braver. He had two of the closest people in the world to him right at his
side. How could things not work out?
"What?" he asked unbelievingly.

"Mammography, Mr. Mulder. The procedure will give us a better picture of
what we're dealing with," replied Dr. Evans.

"But, but I'm a guy," he said, feeling a little foolish at having to state the

"How can I have a mammogram?"

"It's administered in the same manner. Trust me Mr. Mulder, it's unusual, but
not unheard of for a man to have a mammogram," Dr. Evans reassured. "Let's
get you ready."

When Mulder was brought into the waiting room next to the room with the
mammography equipment, he found himself feeling more uncomfortable than
ever. There were two other couples sitting there, while he sat alone, waiting.
He'd sent Skinner and Scully to the cafeteria for some coffee. He couldn't deal
with the notion of them being witness to this latest ordeal.

One of the women's names was called, and she stood up and kissed the man
waiting with her. Mulder was pretty sure he heard the man whisper, "Good
luck," to her. Mulder then made it appear as though the outdated magazine
he had in his hands held the secrets of life.

The first woman was out in about twenty minutes and the couple were told to go
wait in the doctor's office. That left Mulder alone with the companion of the
second woman, who was just called in for her test. The companion looked at
Mulder with a hint of curiosity, and then, to break the ice, asked, "Waiting
for your wife?"

"Umm, my friend will be here soon," was all Mulder could say without feeling
as though he'd be cursed for lying. He felt like he was twelve years old
again, trying to cover up for something that wasn't even his fault this time.
The stranger nodded his head, and Mulder buried his nose back into the

When another twenty minutes passed, Mulder watched the couple leave the
waiting room. He held his breath as he waited to see if anyone would come
in after him. He really didn't want anyone staring at him like he stared at
the other couples. Finally, his name was called, and he entered the examination

"Okay Mr. Mulder, my name is Carol. I'm going to take pictures of both sides,
because all too often if there's a mass in one, there may be a mass in the
other. We don't want to miss it, if there is.

"Now, I want you to relax," and at Mulder's incredulous look, Carol said, "I
know, easier said then done, but try, okay? It's really a no brainer
procedure. Okay, I want you to come as close to the machine as possible and
place your left arm down and across your stomach like this," and as she spoke,
Carol positioned Mulder's arm correctly, "and then place your right arm up
here and grasp the handle. Good."

Next, she gently pushed him forward so his chest was on the x-ray plate. She
then brought down the plastic cover above the breast tissue and gradually
compressed Mulder's breast between the two pieces.

"Carol," Mulder said through gritted teeth, "you lied."

"I didn't lie, Mr. Mulder. I said it was a no-brainer; I never said anything
about it not being uncomfortable. Hang in there, hold your breath and don't
talk until I say so."
Carol did the procedure in a different angle for the right breast, and then
repeated the procedure for the left one. When Mulder was told he was
finished, and to go to the doctor's room, he hesitated momentarily.

"Is something wrong, Mr. Mulder?" Carol asked.

"No, no I guess not. It's just that I was wondering if __," and here he
hesitated but looked toward the door which led to the waiting room.

"Oh," was all Carol said. "I don't think there's anyone else out there at the
moment, but I'll check." She walked to the door and looked out. When she
saw no one in the waiting area, she called out, "All clear, Mr. Mulder."

"Thanks, Carol," he said gratefully and headed down to his doctor's office,
where he found Scully and Skinner waiting for him.

"How did the mammography go?" Scully asked.

"It wasn't a picnic," he said.

"No shit," muttered Scully. She looked at Mulder's dejected expression and
took his hand. "I'm sorry. That wasn't called for. Was it really uncomfortable for you?"

"Yeah," he sighed, "though I'm not sure what was worse. The test itself or
the people looking at me strangely in the waiting room wondering where my
poor wife was."

"Oh, Mulder, it never dawned on me," Scully sympathized.

"It's all right. It' over and done with. Now the real fun begins," he

Skinner looked at him a little curiously, to which Mulder and Scully
responded in stereo, "The waiting."
"Okay, Mr. Mulder," said Dr. Evans. " The left side breast is clean, so
that's excellent news. However, we're going to admit you and schedule a
biopsy on the lump that's presented itself in your right breast."

Mulder suddenly felt light headed. He wasn't sure if he'd be able to focus on
anything anyone else said after that bit of news. He felt comforting hands on
his neck and heard Scully say, "Put your head down for a minute. You'll feel better in a bit." He did as he was told and did indeed feel better a few minutes later.

"You're fortunate, Mr. Mulder, that I've had some experience with male breast
cancer." The doctor paused to give his patient a chance to absorb what was
being said.

"Okay, here's what we'll do", Dr. Evans continued. "We're going to perform
the biopsy to determine if the tumor is malignant. If it is, and it's
contained in that area, we will then perform a modified radical mastectomy.
What that means is we'll remove all of the breast tissue and nearby lymph
nodes, but the chest muscles are left intact. Believe it or not it's
basically the procedure done on women."

"Doc, may I ask a question?" Skinner interjected. Upon seeing the doctor's
nod, the AD asked, "If the malignancy is contained in the area, why can't you
just cut it out without doing such a radical procedure. There's a name for
it; a 'lumpodomy'?"

"A lumpectomy," corrected Dr. Evans. "You're right, if the cancer is well
contained in a woman's breast, very often we can opt for a lumpectomy. The
problem with the male breast is there's not enough breast tissue to remove in
order to make it a safe and lasting choice."

The trio nodded their understanding. Then Mulder asked the question he was
afraid of asking all day. "Doc, what are the chances of it not being malignant?"

"Mr. Mulder, there's always the chance, but if you're asking me am I
optimistic, I'd have to say no. The symptoms are classic of a malignancy.
I'm sorry." Once again he gave his patient a chance to absorb his words.
"But Mr. Mulder, even if it is malignant, the chances of us arresting it now
are good. Let's take it one step at a time, okay? I'll see you tomorrow,
bright and early."
Mulder woke up in the recovery room for a couple of minutes. He managed to
search the room and finally focus on the one face he wanted to see. Scully's
face lit up when she saw his eyes open, and she quickly grasped his hand and
brought it up to her lips.

"You're in the recovery room, Mulder. The surgery went well," she said
soothingly, but he knew he wouldn't remember anything she said. He just
needed to know she was there for him. No matter what, his Scully was always
there for him.
The next time Mulder opened his eyes he saw he was in a room with Scully
sitting by his bedside, and Walter Skinner in the chair next to her. Scully
was cat napping in her seat, but the AD was awake.

"Hi. How ya doing?" he asked.

"Okay," Mulder rasped. "No. Hurts."

"I know, the doctor said he'd adjust the medication when you woke up. I'll
let the nurse's desk know you're awake and in pain," Skinner said as he
began to get up.

"No, don't go. Wait," Mulder pleaded. Skinner sat back down as requested.
"Was it? Was it malignant?"

"Yes, Fox, it was. But the surgeon said it looked like it was contained only
in that area and he did the modified radical as he'd discussed with you.
You're going to recover from this," Skinner reassured.

"What's next?" Mulder asked.

"The doctor will be in later, and you can talk about it with him, okay? He'll
be able to answer your questions better than I could. He'll be here soon.
Rest now. I'll go tell the nurses you're up."

Mulder nodded sleepily and fell back into a less than restful sleep. The pain
medication would be a welcomed relief, and the sooner the better.
"Well, what do you want to know?" Dr. Evans asked.

"Am I cured?" asked Mulder.

"Not yet. We don't consider you cured until you're cancer free for five

"When can I go home? When can I go back to work? When can I eat some real
food?" asked a very cranky patient.

"You can go home tomorrow, assuming everything checks out, which I have no
reason to think it won't. You can go back to work next week, but you're going
to probably want to keep your hours as flexible as possible because you will
be put on a chemo and radiation therapy schedule. And the only other thing
you'll want to think about is if you're going to want reconstructive surgery."

"For what?" Mulder asked confused.

"Well, when we did the modified radical, you lost your nipple. If you think
you might be self conscious about it not being there, you might want to
consider having surgery for a reconstructed nipple," the doctor informed.

"Oh. I don't know," replied Mulder, not at all thrilled with the idea of
another hospital stay for more surgery. Even elective surgery.

"You don't need to decide now, Mulder," interjected Scully, knowing full
well Mulder was in no condition to make an informed decision.

"Good. I don't honestly know if it'll bother me until I actually see what it
looks like, I guess. We'll put that one on hold for now, okay?"

The doctor nodded and proceeded to lay out Mulder's recovery plan.
Mulder returned back to work without incident. AD Kersh continued to ride
Mulder and Scully's ass, but there seemed to be a greater understanding
between the three of them now.

Kersh still gave them the shit work, but he wasn't quite as hard on them as
he had been in the past when a little x-file happened to drop in their lap.

Dr. Evans was right. Mulder did need to keep his hours flexible, since there
were times when he reacted poorly to the chemo or the radiation treatment.
But he usually managed to bounce back fairly quickly, so Mulder rarely
allowed the bouts of nausea to keep him down for too long.

About four and a half months after the surgery, Mulder found a flyer in his
mailbox at home. Attached to it was a note from Carol, the technician at the
hospital who did Mulder's mammogram. It announced the DC Walk-A-Thon For
Life. She encouraged him to participate in it and to get as many friends and
family members to join him. Carol had written it was time to begin
celebrating a second chance.

Mulder looked at the flyer and thought it was probably ridiculous for him to
even think about walking in this thing. He'd probably be the only man there.
However, he did look at his calendar and upon seeing the date clear, he
circled it with a question mark.

Scully came over for dinner that night. He'd had a round of radiation that
day and Scully knew he wouldn't be up to cooking or even eating much. She
made it her business to stop by with some of her mom's famous chicken noodle
soup, which was about the heartiest meal Mulder was capable of consuming
after a round of radiation.

"What's this?" she asked as she heated up the soup.

"What's what?" he asked.

"The calendar has Saturday the 19th circled with a question mark. Mulder,
you have a hot date on the side you're not telling me about?" she teased.

"No, no hot dates. Not yet, anyway. Not until I've had the reconstructive
surgery done, anyway," he said.

"Oh, you decided to go ahead with that?" she asked.

"Yeah. I know it's not a big thing, but I do swim, and well, I'm paranoid
enough about the whole thing already. I figure, it's a little thing to do for
myself, so I don't expend any more energy than necessary on being self-
conscious about my body," he explained calmly.

"Good for you, Mulder. I think it's a fine idea," Scully assured, "but that
still doesn't explain the circled date on the calendar."

"Oh. That. Well, umm, Scully? You wanna go for a walk in the park with
me?" he asked with a smile.
June 19th was a glorious day. Mulder and Scully arrived and received their
numbers for the Walk-A-Thon. Mulder was almost right; there weren't as many
men as women, but there was certainly a large enough showing that he didn't
feel as if he stuck out like a sore thumb. The pair began doing leg stretches
and were warming up when they heard their names being called.

"Mulder! Scully!" called one voice.

"Oh, there they are! Walter, they're over there," called out the other

"Didn't know if we'd ever find you in this crowd!" Walter Skinner said to his
two astounded agents. But what shocked them even more was seeing who Walter
Skinner arrived with.

"AD Kersh, Sir. I'm surprised to see you here," Mulder said, almost shyly.

"I'm not," said Scully with a warm smile. "Thank you for coming, Sir."

The AD acknowledged both of his agents with a nod. Kersh then looked briefly
skyward, smiled, and then said to his agents, "What can I say? It's a
beautiful day for a walk in the park."

And so it was.

End of Part 2/2

Author's Notes: Please keep in mind, I'm not a doctor, I just pretend to
what I'm talking about when I write fanfic. But I do want to point you in
the direction of a couple of interesting web sites dealing with the issue of
male breast cancer without which this fanfic might have been less accurate.
They are as follows:
Please send comments and feedback to