TITLE: "FOCUS" (Sequel to "PhaHks")- Part I/4.
AUTHOR: GeeLady (GenieVB)
RATING: NC-17. MT/ScSkR/MScR/MOR/MAJOR ANGST!, language,
violence, sexually explicit scenes, Slash-violent rape, adult situations.
SPOILERS: "PhaHks" by GeeLady (GenieVB). Various X-Files
As a friend commented: "So, basically, it's
about a hurtin' Muld'?"
DISCLAIMER: The X-Files series, movie, characters,
and related props: ugly pajamas, anal probes and
rusty urinals are all the property of Chris Carter, Ten
Thirteen Productions and the Fox Network. I don't want
any credit, fame or fortune from X-Files, I only want
to write about your show and characters to entertain
myself and others.
This story is fictitious. If there appear to be people
or places (names of supporting characters & hospitals for
example) bearing any resemblance to actual institutions
or persons, it is by COINCIDENCE ONLY. All names of places
and secondary characters I made up! Therefore no insult is
intended toward the Physicians, Hospitals or Institutions
BTW: I am not a doctor in any way, shape or form. I've only
read a few books and journals in that field so if, in the
story, the therapist's methods seem a tad unusual, it is MY
lack of knowledge, and not the practices of psychology, that
is to blame.
Although I think this story stands on its own, I do
suggest you first read "PhaHks" even if you don't like
Star Trek, it may help you catch the small stuff in
FOCUS. Part I
("To adjust the focus of the eye...",
"The point or space towards which light rays
converge or from which they emanate.",
LATIN: "hearth, fireplace. Home.")
Somehow, she steered him toward her building,
and inside to her apartment. Then, once her door was closed
and the lock flipped, right into the bathroom.
Scully was afraid that if she allowed him to sit down
anywhere on the way, Mulder would go to sleep and never wake
Scully had seen her partner in many conditions of illness
Never like this.
After finding him at the bus station, dressed in old,
ill-fitting clothes - clothes that must have fit him at
one time but now hung off his thin frame as if they'd been
sown for a healthier man - his eyes were now dead of
emotion and a phrase had started repeating in her mind:
- Broken to death, broken to death -
Scully ran the bathwater while her silent guest sat slumped
over on the toilet seat. He was trying to untie his running
shoes and being unable to, his fingers fumbling and dropping
"Here." She finished for him and pulled the sneakers off. His
feet were bare.
Speaking very gently, "Stand up, Mulder. Let's get
these clothes off."
"I can do it, Scully." His voice was small.
"Mulder, you can't hardly stand on your own. Just let me
help you, okay?"
He nodded. No more arguments came after that.
Scully stripped his shirt off while he leaned against the
sink to keep balance. She had to bite her lip and hold onto
a gasp when she saw his chest, decorated with scars. One
or two were old, ones she was intimately familiar with.
But the others,..especially the long, horrible one on his
Stubbornly blinking back tears, Scully helped Mulder remove
his jeans. No underwear either.
She skipped speculation on how down and out he must have been
to not manage underwear. But maybe he'd been given none. Maybe
his captors had dropped him off in a ditch, naked and bleeding.
Maybe the fuckers had laughed as they drove away, leaving him
Perhaps this ensemble was all he'd been able to come up with just
so he could be allowed aboard a public vehicle in order to make his
way to her.
One tear rolled and she bent over to test the water's temperature,
wiping it angrily away at the same time. Mulder was upset enough,
in the numbed center of him, that she felt he didn't need to see her
lose it too.
Adding a dab of bath gel to the water, Scully swished it around.
But Mulder had sat back down, hunched over - embarrassed - she
realized, about his nakedness. He still felt some things.
"Come on." She tried to find a middle ground in her tone and
manner - clinical but not cold, familiar but not intimate - to ease
his shame at having to be helped to undress and now bathed as if
he were a baby or a cripple.
But he was crippled, in a terrible way. A new chant invaded
Dying on the inside. Dying, dying...
Scully helped him balance as he stepped one foot at a time, into
the apartment-typical shallow tub.
The first thing she did was get a pitcher and wet his hair down.
A small dime of shampoo, then lathering - she felt bumps on his
skull. Old injuries or new? She then repeated the shampoo.
Rinsing took only a moment. Not bothering with conditioner, she
started to wash his back with a soapy sponge, it slid over white
skin and washboard ribs. Leaner than she had ever seen him, it was
an unhealthy, neglected thinness.
Then she did his chest, soaped his underarms, both legs, and
finally his feet.
She didn't fail to notice that he kept his knees bent through-
out it all, leaning toward her and at the same time against
the side of the tub. He was hunkered over as if protecting himself
against her and her too much touch. His eyes were focused else
where, somewhere very far away, she thought, as he blinked every
minute or so, even that motion sluggish. Maybe it was a lack of
Maybe he was watching nothing, behind his eyes or in front.
However, though still and mute, he was allowing her to wash him,
putting himself into her hands with an almost child-like relief.
He trusted her, she thought. /- That I won't hurt him, that much
But it was clear he was not liking the physical contact and that
made her uncomfortable also.
And a little sad.
Just a short two hours ago, they had been sharing warm hearts,
hands and words in a public place. Desperate kisses and clutching
had been exchanged. Smiles, tears, promises...
Two souls reunited after eight years. Mulder gone - kidnaped -
with no word, no reason ever discovered and no offering of hope.
Those moments of togetherness in the crowded Greyhound Terminal
had waned the closer she drove the Explorer to her home.
Now it was almost gone, it seemed. Now he appeared ashamed and
cowed at her and everything that was happening. She'd walked him
through the journey from the Station to her small corner of life
and he had appeared at first mistrustful and, soon after, simply
oblivious to all of it.
Mulder was far, far worse off than she had originally thought.
He was way down deep inside himself somewhere. Maybe even deeper
than where he'd been kept physically. In some filthy prison.
Locked away in a windowless basement. Held against his will in a
cold hole that offered neither light, warmth or hope. Eight years
in some second hell where the concept of heaven was never debated.
She'd spent those eight years in her own kind of hell. The hell
of keeping hope in something hopeless.
"Hungry?" She asked, mostly to fill up the silence that hung
painfully in the steamy bathroom. He shook his head.
Scully handed him the soap and the sponge. "Are you okay? Can
you do the rest on your own?"
He accepted them, nodding, obviously glad she wasn't going to
attempt cleaning his privates herself.
Scully closed the vinyl curtain (large yellow canaries perched
on green branches) halfway, and the bathroom door almost all the
way, giving him the privacy he needed.
Running a kettle under the tap in the kitchen, she busied
herself in making tea.
Teabags, sugar, readied the cream and the spoons and the cups.
Took a tray down from the cupboard and wiped off the dust. How
long since she'd had any company?
Mundane, time-killing, infuriating things that meant nothing
except to fill in a gap of time while she listened for him to
finish up yet not knowing what to expect when he did and not
really wanting to face whatever it would be.
The kettle sang.
Scully heard a choking noise coming from the bathroom and
almost went back. It would have done him no good. If he wanted to
sob then she would let him. If he decided to give up the fight
right there in her bathtub and quietly slip away, she had no
right to force him not to.
But she prayed to god he wouldn't. Her own sanity, she felt,
was on the line as well. Certainly her heart was feeling pinched.
Scully forced herself to Stand Still And Prepare Tea to serve
up to a very sick man whom she hadn't seen in eight years while
he sobbed his heart out in her bathroom.
She cried silently herself, wanting to have the tears over with
by the time his tanks were empty and she'd have to find some way
of looking at him, helping him. She needed to be strong so he
wouldn't have to be.
A bath and tea.
/Some prescription! Good start, Scully. "Cookie, Mulder?" "One
lump or two?"/
What does one say to the freshly scrubbed mentally shattered?
/Doctor Scully, clearly, you've been working on corpses too
Scully listened to his snorts and gasps as his heart spilled
over into the dirty water. Nothing she could do was going to cure
this size of wound.
Finally the sobs subsided but only after she'd consumed three
cups of tea alone at her kitchen table. She hadn't entered the
bathroom again the whole time. Even when she'd heard his crying
transform to choking coughs and moaning sobs.
For nearly one hour, he'd cried.
The kind of sobbing that most people did maybe once or twice in
a lifetime. The kind that tore you in half and left you sick and
feeling like crumpled paper.
She had cried like that once. After her daughter died. After
Emily - her arterial system growing grotesquely malformed and
polluting her body and brain by the unidentified toxins carried
within - stopped breathing and turned cold.
Scully herself had cried those horrible kind of tears.
When the bathroom had been silent for several minutes, Scully
returned to find him slumped against the side of the tub where
she'd left him. He was asleep and he was goose fleshed, the water
Rousing him, she helped him out, wrapped a towel around his waist,
tucking it in place, and towel-dried him down with another before
leading him to her guest bedroom.
"Feel better?" She asked as he slipped in and she arranged the
covers around him. His eyes were red-veined and puffy. "Headache."
He spoke just above a whisper. Didn't look at her.
She nodded and fetched him three pills, two Tylenol and one
Gravol along with a half glass of water. He swallowed all without
It was worse, that he was so quiet. She would have preferred
the usual arguments of yesteryear. But wanting him to sleep
undisturbed, she said nothing about the unsolicited sleep aid.
After his eyes closed, he was out in a flat minute.
Scully looked at her watch: eleven-twenty-one AM.
"Director Skinner? Sir?"
Scully had to track him down at home since it
"Scully." He sounded surprised. She hadn't
called him in over a year, and then it had
pertained to work. Over the last two years
their paths had rarely crossed.
She cleared her throat.
"How are you?" He asked before she had the
opportunity to speak further.
"Ah, I'm fine, Sir,...I ...uh...I need to
"Well, is it something you can tell me
over the phone?, I have a plane to catch in
"Oh. I'm sorry, Sir, but...this is...I,...
I don't think I can handle this on my own..."
She cleared her throat, it was hard to say.
"...it's very important."
Skinner's silence at the other end told her
his "spidey sense" had just activated. "I can
cancel the flight. What's going on?"
Scully, took a breath and let it out.
It was morning. A new day.
Mulder had slept for fourteen hours straight
in her guest bedroom and was now sitting in her
livingroom, slumped on her couch, drinking gallons
of Sunny Delight and idly flipping through the
television channels. She heard "Chicken and Cow".
Looked like he'd finally stumbled upon something
not too emotionally taxing.
They hadn't really talked much that morning when
he'd finally awakened. He had politely asked to use
the washroom and then, declining the bacon and eggs
she'd prepared, she had fed him a bowl of Cherrios.
He'd then eaten bowl after bowl, starving, managing
to put away the entire box. But it wouldn't be enough
to pack meat back on his accordion-like chest.
Nothing much else had been said.
She'd watched him eat and then settle into her couch
like he planned on staying there for a long, long time.
And that frightened her. Mulder back in her apartment,
sitting on her couch like nothing had happened.
So, at the first opportunity, she'd slipped into her
bedroom and dialed a few numbers, speaking quietly
so as not to disturb him. She sensed somehow that,
for Mulder, right now anything other than peace and
quiet would be a bad thing.
Skinner was waiting.
"He's home, sir. He's back." Scully heard nothing for
"I'll be there in thirty."
"Is he awake?" Skinner entered her apartment building.
It wasn't yet noon.
Scully had quietly padded down and met her old boss at
the bulding's entrance, wanting that few seconds of
privacy to bring him up to date on the extraordinary
event of Mulder's return.
"Yes, but he's not okay."
"Are you?" He asked and it surprised her. She'd given
no thought to herself except for the tingle of fear
that had sprung to life and settled down in her psyche,
prompting her call to him.
A stranger with Mulder's face had woke up in her
apartment and ate her food. The Bus Station Mulder
was gone and she didn't know precisely why that was.
Scully did not know who sat in her living room now.
Mulder of yesterday, kissing her and at least somewhat
like the norm was now a silent body sitting in jeans
and faded out, ragged T-shirt denting her furniture.
She'd laundered his meager wardrobe while he'd slept.
Had contemplated slipping out and buying him some things
to wear but was afraid to, not wanting him waking up alone.
He might panic.
One year ago, she'd thrown out the last few items of
Mulder's clothing that had hung unused in her second bedroom
closet. It had been one last painful task. She'd thrust them
into a black garbage bag, quickly tied it and tossed it in
the bin out back. And then cried for an hour and a half.
So, nothing else to wear, he'd dressed in the rags in which
she'd found him. He sat and said nothing. A presence with
empty eyes filling up on cartoons.
Scully re-entered her apartment and stepped aside to
allow Skinner access and a clear first view of his old agent.
Mulder heard the door open and close and twisted around to
greet them both. "Sir?" He didn't stand as he would have
years ago. He just stared, a bit surprised but that was all.
"Mulder." Skinner kept his voice even and pleasant. He
didn't ask for Scully's permission but just seated himself
opposite the man-with-a-problem.
Looking at his old agent while trying to not stare, it
was hard to reconcile this current example with the Mulder
of eight years ago.
Skinner absorbed and recorded the pale face, the dark
bags, the expressionless, far away look in the older eyes,
and, through the holes in his shirt, the ribcage that
looked like it could barely hold the organs inside. "It's
good to see you."
A fucking miracle is what it was.
"You too, sir."
Scully seated herself next to Skinner. It gave her strength
for what they were about to do. Hard things were about to be
said and soon to occur and there was no choice in them.
An overwhelming sadness enveloped her as she sat beside
Skinner's confident control. He'd taken the situation in hand
and thank god because she could barely trust herself to
speak. She wanted to scream.
Because life was so goddamn unfair.
Because she wanted Mulder.
She wanted back Special Agent Fox Mulder and he wasn't there.
Her old partner, she wanted, in their old office in their old
life. She wanted him back in his gorgeous skin draped in Armani
pants hanging sexily from his masculine hips.
She wanted the humor and the smile and the eyes that hurt.
She wanted that old arrogant prick who always thought he
was right about everything.
She wanted anything but the abused and lifeless husk staring
dully at them both from across the coffee table.
"You want to talk about this? You want to tell me what's
Scully's chest tightened at Skinner's questions. They were
F.B.I Director's questions and she wondered if they would
carry any meaning to Mulder.
"Why are you here, sir?" Mulder asked the big man.
Skinner glanced to his left as Scully answered.
"Mulder, I think - we think - you should be taken to a
hospital so you can be checked out."
Mulder frowned a little, looked down at himself as if
trying to see what they were seeing, trying to find what
it was that was worrying them.
"I'm okay, Scully. I may be a bit thin but otherwise
I'm just tired. I just need a few days."
"A few days and then...what?" Skinner asked.
Mulder looked at him and could give no detailed answer
to such an open question. "And then Uh-I'll see."
Skinner removed his glasses, rubbed fingers across
his eyes, trying once again to see into the mind of a
man he'd never been able to.
Scully watched the exchange. Skinner had aged as
they all had, but had done so well. Salt and pepper hair
fringe, the slightest thickening of the middle but
otherwise as straight, self-assured and sharp as ever.
"Mulder, you've been gone, vanished, missing for
eight years. Eight YEARS. Then yesterday you show
up, at a bus station of all places, without any
explanation." Skinner pointed out.
Mulder was acting like he'd gotten lost on vacation.
"I need some rest, that's all."
Scully pleaded. "Mulder, no. You are not well. You
don't even sound like yourself."
She found strength enough to crouch before him and
take one of his boney hands in her own, resting both
on his thigh. "Something terrible has happened to you
and we have to find out what it is. We have to find
out who did this to you."
"I'm back, Scully." He spoke it as if he couldn't
understand what all the fuss was about and it hit
her like a hammer. He wanted it to be enough for them.
Clearly he felt it should be. "And you promised me you
"You can't just expect us to sit here and accept that
you're back to pick up where you left off and that
everything's normal." Skinner said.
"All I expect is to be left alone to rest for a few
days. I just need rest and,.." Mulder's words faltered
as his mind did, as it couldn't give them the logical
plans that should have been there, "..just tired. I'll
figure out the rest as I go."
"Mulder..." Scully started, stopped. Felt helpless.
"I'm okay, Scully, really." He pasted on his best
"See? I'm perfectly fine" face.
"No, you're not. You're thin, you look sick..."
"Why are you fighting this, Agent Mulder?"
Mulder threw black pupils at Skinner. "I'm not your
agent anymore." Turned to Scully, intending to ignore
Skinner from that second forward.
"Scully. Let's go away somewhere. I don't care,
anywhere. You pick the place. I meant what I said.
Let's just go. Cash in all our securities, I'll
sell all the properties and we'll leave, we'll
just get out of here."
"Mulder. There is no cash. All your securities
were liquidated. I had to. The taxes on your
parents houses, your mother's medicals bills,...
there's nothing left."
He stuttered in his efforts to convince. "Then,...um,
...I'll get a juh-job."
Scully saw his eyes watering, darting around the
room, getting scared. It was heartbreaking, what
was happening to him. Mulder wasn't himself. He hadn't
even asked her about his dead mother.
That was not like Mulder.
Not at all like Special Agent F.B.I man who looked out
for the innocent and chased the bad guys, trying to make
the world a better place while trying to understand why
things had to be that way.
Her former partner who could remember what kind
of cake he had for his fourth birthday but couldn't
count how many times he had lost his gun.
Her friend who had endured the destruction of his
whole family and had still walked into work each day
like he had a purpose.
The man she loved who used to be.
Her heart was tearing.
Because the sweet little fantasy in which she'd been
indulging for the last twenty hours was now at an end.
The meeting at the bus station, the overwhelming
joy in seeing him, his talk of marriage and her teary,
emotion-blinded answers that had nothing to do with
the deep pain she'd seen behind his eyes, the sharing
in his warm, loving, lips,...all of that was being
replaced by cruel practicalities.
Reality had just brought its fist down.
Mulder was sick in body and possibly in mind.
He was forty-five years old, out of a job and flat
The obstacles before him, before them both, were
She wanted to sob.
"And do what?" Skinner pointed out to him.
Mulder didn't even look at his old boss. "I
don't care, anything. Scully?"
She sensed he was questioning her, asking her:
What's wrong? Did you lie to me when you said
you'd marry me? Was everything a lie? Was I wrong
to come back? Am I crazy?
Scully couldn't stop her own grief then, at his
frightened, needful eyes.
Give me something, Scully. He was saying as her tears
"Mulder..." Helpless. Mute. Guilty as charged.
Everything she'd said to him in the station had
been swept away by the call to Skinner.
Mulder was very ill. Ill and maybe even dying.
Three souls, one broken. The acknowledgment of it
settled over the healthy two like a Cloth of Mourning.
The guilt. The sorrow. What could she or any have done
for him anyway - really? A few kisses and everything would
be just fine? Is that what she had thought?
How shortsighted. How lovesick. How stupid.
"Do you want our help?" Skinner asked him.
"I was hoping, yeah." Mulder answered, tentatively. He
was unaware of the decisions secretly being made for him.
He did not feel the Grieving Blanket.
"Then I think we should make sure you're really okay."
"A physical exam, Mulder? Okay? Just to be sure."
"That's all?" Mulder asked, suddenly wary, watchful,
Mulder nodded once. "Okay, but I want Scully to do it."
"Why Scully?" Skinner wanted to know.
"Because that's what I want."
"Okay." Scully shot Skinner a warning look as if to say
it was the least they could do. "Okay, but I'll need help.
Will you let me choose a friend, a practicing doctor? One
who'll keep it under wraps? I can't do that kind of
examination without the proper equipment and somewhere to
Mulder nodded, once, reluctantly. "But I want to be awake
the whole time."
Of course. He wouldn't want to be under anyone's control
anymore. Did not want to be vulnerable or helpless. Ever
Scully realised this.
She also knew that would be impossible.
Making herself a liar, she nodded. They had to know,
whatever it took, they had to know if he was really all right.
Scully studied Mulder's eyes. They had an alertness within
despite the drug. She'd talked him into a sleeping draught
just to lessen the discomfort he might feel from some parts
of the exam and it had taken her fifteen minutes to convince
him of that. No way was he going to accept anything stronger.
Finally locating Doctor Roberta Nizarhan, an old and trusted
pal, they had set up in her private and well equipped clinic.
Mulder had followed Scully in with tiny cat steps, hugging the
walls and staring suspiciously at Nizarhan.
One bad move on anyone's part and he'd be out the door. Now
he lay shivering in a disposable open-at-the-back gown on the
padded examination table. The clinic was closed for the night.
They hadn't even begun and Scully was already dead tired
just from the constant strain of a whole day of bearing his
mistrustful questions about what would be done to him. The
pressure-cooked anxiety had given her a headache.
Skinner had declined to join the midnight medical duo on
their intended quest and returned home. It was passed midnight
and he had an early day but had insisted more than once that
she phone him on his cellular with the results when all the
tests were complete.
Scully decided she would fill him in, in person. Skinner'd
been there from the beginning, when all this had started.
There when it had begun all those years and years ago. The
day a clean cut, brilliant agent just inching out of studness
walked into Skinner's office and shook his hand.
The A.D.'s newest underling, just escaped from three years
in a purgatory called Violent Crimes where head Devil was bald
and wore a trench coat, had proved an Enigma with a capital E.
And that intelligent, good-looking, smart-as-they-make-'em
former analyst then proceeded to turn Walter Skinner, Deputy
Assistant Director of the F.B.I.'s world upside down. Had
Skinner managed a decent night sleep post-Mulder? Scully
But Mulder'd gotten away with his sabotaging of rules with
suprisingly smooth-sailing. It was some innate ability or an
aura he'd projected that made some people want to ruffle his
hair and all but say "Try to be a good boy.".
He'd limp up to Skinner's pool table sized desk, hand over
the case he and Scully had closed after risking life and limb,
apologize for the lateness of it, ease himself painfully down
into an empty chair and wait for the reaming.
Not very often had Skinner availed himself of that release.
Not very often.
Maybe it was the muted, decades old pain beneath Mulder's
brows that caused people, young and old, to want to either bake
him cookies or nuzzle his cheek. Even some male colleagues,
including one former FBI Assistant Director boss-man, had
done their best to protect him, advise him, lessen the risks
around him, body and soul.
Skinner had been there at the germination of the Mulder/Scully
years and she would keep him in the loop now. Especially since
she knew he was mad as hell at whoever had done this to one of
Because he cared.
And because she needed his support to keep herself together.
Scully prepared the little sample bags and slides they
would need for the exam at a small counter, her back turned
on Mulder. But in the small mirror above the sink, she could
see him now sweating in nervousness, his eyes raking the
ceiling and walls as if looking for an opening, an easy escape
if the walls started closing in, the sky started falling or if
things didn't go as he liked.
Scully'd left the door open hoping to lesson the feel of
claustrophobia in the room, one not meant to hold a patient
and two doctors.
"Oh, damn." She said.
Nizarhan, the dark-haired second physician in question,
looked up from her microscope that she'd been adjusting.
"I left something in the car." Scully looked sideways at
Roberta, who knew by long years that the shift in Scully's
eyes said otherwise. It said they needed to talk privately.
Scully touched, very lightly, Mulder's shoulder, "I'll be
right back. Two minutes, okay?"
He only nodded.
One minute later, Doctor Nizarhan left the room and joined
Scully down the hall out of earshot of the patient.
"What's going on, Dana?"
"I want to see him completely under. I don't want him to be
"But I thought-"
"-I know. But there are some tests I need to do that we
can't if he's conscious, some that would be very distressing
to him. Not to mention uncomfortable."
"Okay. I take it, though, he doesn't want that? That's why
we're out here, whispering like a couple of med-students?"
"Yes. But if you distract him for a second, I can inject
him. He'd be out in about five seconds."
"Five seconds is a long time if he gets violent."
"All we have to do is hold his arms and legs for that time,
he won't be able to move." Sadly, "He's weak."
"He is going to be very ticked when he wakes up."
Scully nodded, cleared her throat. "Yes. But it can't be
helped. We have to know-", /Breaking another promise? You're
getting good at it Dana./ "-there's no choice."
"Well, it may be my arena but it your game. Let's do it."
It hadn't gone as easily as they'd hoped, but after two
curse words and lots of twisting, Mulder had slumped back
like a sack of flour. Nizarhan breathed a sigh of relief.
And was shocked when they peeled back the examination
gown to reveal the man's chest. Someone had sliced him up
like a pie.
Nizarhan watched Dana stroke the drugged man's forehead
with her thumb two, three times. Nizarhan was struck by the
compassion in the gesture. It was old affection she was seeing
and also that this situation was a repeat for both of them.
Scully nodded, as if satisfied that he was under deeply
enough to begin.
"Okay, I want pictures first. External exam, every square
"You make it sound like we're about to autopsy him."
"We are. But without an internal obviously, so I want
X-Rays. I wish we had access to MRI."
"Sorry, can't help you there, I'm just a clinical physician.
I can brew you a kick-ass cup of coffee though."
Scully smiled. "That would be great. I know I'll need it."
Referring to the intended examination, "What else?" Nizarhan
"I want blood gasses, bone marrow, skin, and hair samples.
Umm, muscle tissue too. And X-Rays, EEG, EKG, liver and
kidney tissue chemical analysis, sperm and saliva samples,
stomach lining,...I want bronchial and lung tissue visuals..."
"Wait, wait, are you kidding me? Do you know how long all
this is going to take?"
"As long as it takes. This is important."
"What are you not telling me?"
Scully pulled on non-latex examination gloves. "Ask me when
Nizarhan didn't follow suit. "This is going to take all
night, just the basics even. Getting the samples analyzed
is on your time. Friend or no, Dana, you're gonna owe me big
for this one."
"Name it." she answered succinctly.
Nizarhan kept her mind on the task of preparing a strong
pot of caffeine, but made a mental note: to watch Dana as much
as the patient. She was very curious about Dana's connection
with this man. He was Dana's former partner, yes, she understood
that and that Dana wanted to help out an old friend. But
something more was here, in the background, something very
deep and very important.
The coffee pot was set to brewing and she heard Dana crumple
up the patient's gown.
Nizarhan noted that her friend had laid a clean hand towel
over the man's groin. It was unnecessary as he was out cold but
she understood the gesture of respect for the poor guy's privacy.
Nizarhan pulled on her own gloves and proceeded with her task
of external examination while Scully placed an oxygen mask over
Mulder's nose and mouth.
Christ almighty. The scars. Nizarhan catalogued each and
every sign of foreign penetration of the surface while Scully
handled the overhead photo machine.
He had a nice skin. A smooth, still relatively youthful skin.
But he was thin to the point of skinny and every square foot or
so, Nizarhan would find another old wound marring the perfection.
It was a shame. He was a real looker.
Stark evidence of past cruelties looked back at her as she
made notations of each and every mark or irregularity. But the
scars were what got to her, blunt, stare-back-at-you brandings.
No portion of his body had been left virgin.
Left shoulder, left upper thigh: old bullet wounds.
Right shoulder, outside right lower thigh, right forearm:
deep knife penetrations.
Right side of face: faint scar over brow line. Small white scar
at the left corner of the bottom lip.
Palms of the hands - what looked like severe rug burn
scars - the pads of his fingers had actually been rubbed smooth
on several didgits.
Left side of head: a deep, gouge behind the ear, long healed.
She wondered what the x-rays of his skull would reveal.
But the worst, the scar that made her stomach chill and roll,
was the long, even-edged slice that began to the side of and
slightly below his left nipple, curved down and around, only
ending up just above his groin.
Another two inches and he'd have been divested of his manhood.
It had been an hateful and inhuman assault. It had not been deep,
but it must have bled and it sure as hell must have hurt. Sometimes
those "clean" cuts were the worst.
The perpetrator had given it to this man to carry for the rest
of his days. And maybe to bear the memory of it's infliction each
time he looked at himself after a shower.
These were memories that could only temporarily be hidden and
forgotten about beneath clothing.
"Finished?" Scully's question brought Nizarhan out of her
private, unscientific thoughts.
"Um, yeah, I'm finished."
"Okay, now we flip him and the same for the back."
"All right," Nizarhan crossed Mulder's legs, one over the
other and Scully folded his hands on his chest. "Ready, roll him."
The table was wide and Mulder, limp as cooked spaghetti, was no
difficulty for the two women.
Scully took a moment to ensure he was comfortably positioned.
Nizarhan again watched her friend take the extra time to do
things of which an unconscious man could neither be aware nor
Scully took her samples, this time not of skin and hair, blood
and stomach cells, but of bone marrow, semen and feces. Nizarhan
kept her tone neutral as she watched Scully extract an Anal
Spreader from the utility tray behind her. "You must be checking
for something else in there." Nizarhan commented.
Numbly, "Trauma." Scully said, giving her a look that said
I'll tell you if you want. Nizarhan neither shook her head nor
Scully inserted the thin cable of an Optioscope into Mulder's
rectum and peered into the viewfinder. The tissue was covered
with scars. Strange, long dark marks, as if someone had shoved
a metal hairbrush up into him and twisted it around before
yanking it out.
Scully's hands shook as she pulled the Scope out slowly, not
wanting to add to the damage.
"Well?" Nizarhan took the instrument from her friends fingers.
"I'm really sorry, Dana."
"It's okay. He's home now. He's safe." She discarded her old
"Can I ask what happened to him or is it some Government
secret?" Tried to lighten the atmosphere and watched it fail
miserably when Nizarhan got the answer she hadn't really
"He was held captive and beaten for years. Tortured maybe,
we think. There may have been some...violent rape involved."
Scully pointed to two curved very faint lines on his upper left
shoulder blade that appeared to be a human bite mark. "I want
pictures of that. Maybe a forensic computer can extrapolate
the form of the bite. Maybe we'll luck out and can get a
"Jesus." Nizarhan whispered. /No wonder you wanted him
under./ She swallowed, her gag reflex hinting at an
opposite action, noting on her little pad the bite marks,
then positioning the camera over them.
Pulling on fresh gloves, Scully pulled over another machine
on rollers. "Okay, X-Rays now." Scully took their attention
back to getting it all done. Time was short as the clock
struck five. In two hours, Nizarhan and junior partners would
have a waiting room full of patients, all wanting attention.
An hour later, when the films were developed, Nizarhan saw
what she had expected to see. Several old head injuries and
one newer one which must have concussed. Also clear indications
of a compound fracture of his left Ulna, two fingers of his
right hand and each and every rib. Nizarhan shook her head.
Christ, would the list of injuries never cease?
"Let's clean him up." Scully announced when at last they
"I can't stay for that. I have a meeting in an hour. You've
got about forty-five minutes to bring him out of it and get
out of here. Here's the keys and the alarm code. Make sure
you're gone before my secretary shows. You can drop the keys
off to me later here."
"I'm sorry this took so long. I can't tell you how grateful
I am for your help."
Impulsively, she hugged Scully. "Take care of your friend,
Dana. You owe me a night on the town. I want to visit every
sleazy bar in this damn city." /I want to forget I ever
participated in this scary shit/.
Scully smiled. "You've got it."
Scully tidied up and, before waking him, gave Mulder a
quick sponge bath to remove the stains of iodine around
the tiny wounds made from the skin and muscle biopsy sites.
She checked the small gauzes she'd taped over them to make
sure they would stay put.
Mulder was still lying on his stomach and out like a light.
Time was short yet Scully lingered over drying him off. Her
small hand towel gently rubbed cheeks, the small of his back
and across his shoulders. Turned him and repeated her minist-
She had just performed a living autopsy on her best friend.
Just invaded and pilfered pieces of him without his consent
in an attempt to discover the identity of his tormenters who
had pillaged him, body and soul.
The irony of it was not lost on her.
She wanted to touch him with magical fingers and remove the
evidence of her intrusions into his privacy and human rights
which had been repeatedly violated in this room.
"I'm sorry." She whispered into his unconscious ear. Kissed
his shoulder, a light peck. "I am sorry I had to do this to
you, Mulder. I am so very, very sorry."
"So how is he?" Skinner nursed cold coffee
in a Styrofoam cup. He'd shed his trench coat
and they both sat facing each other in the quiet
of his BMG outside her apartment. "I'm running
out of excuses for postponing my meeting."
Scully had phoned Skinner's cellular, waking him up
from a sound sleep late Sunday evening, and requested
Early that morning, after struggling a groggy Mulder
home to her apartment, she'd sedated him again and
left him to sleep the day away while she delivered her
tiny biopsies of him to a pathologist friend. Both had
then worked 14 hours to elicit the results she now
held in her hand.
Scully knew it was time to let common sense lead
and decided a hospital was what Mulder needed. As much
as she hated the idea of him being out of her direct care.
As much as she knew he would hate her for it.
A still unconscious Mulder faced her upon returning
home and getting him out to her own car alone would be
Contacting Skinner again seemed the best course,
circumstances being what they were...
Pathologies showing what they did...
Again he'd canceled his flight out for her and came.
When was the day, month and year that Skinner had
become to her more than former superior and colleague?
All she knew was she needed his help and she thanked God
each time Skinner answered his phone; each time he drove
up to her door.
Together they hauled Mulder out once again and now he
lay on his side in the back seat of Skinners brand new
vehicle, long legs curled up, still in drugged sleep.
Without any real agreed-on plan, Skinner started the
engine and started driving more or less in the direction
of Mercy Memorial Hospital.
Scully filled him in. "Physically, the only definite
conclusion that can be drawn is that, due to the number
and nature of the injuries that were inflicted including
multiple broken bones and some very serious invasive
Skinner waited patiently for Scully to complete her
step by step itemization of Mulder's physical damage.
By experience he understood she was maneuvering toward
the worst news.
"...it seems likely he was systematically tortured
or at least beaten on a regular basis during the time
of his abduction."
Her voice was dead-pan. She was reciting the horrors
for him for the first time and the dozenth time for herself.
"There are scars indicating stabbings - deep wounds.
At one point he suffered a broken jaw as well as five
broken ribs somewhere along the way. A fractured arm
and fingers. Numerous head injuries, some which had
She stopped and looked at him. He kept his eyes on
the road. "He's still alive. What about his mental and
"Well, you saw, sir. Mentally, I believe he is unstable
but without the intervention of a trained psychologist,.."
She left off. Then swinging it back around, "We did, however,
discover something very disturbing in his blood work."
Skinner's stomach turned over. "What?"
"What appear to be antibodies in his cells. Specifically,
in the DNA, what could be called a fingerprint. Indications
are these antibodies are the result of a viral infection of
some kind the nature of which we thus far have not been
able to identify."
Skinner shook his head. Not a shake of disagreement, but
one of sadness. "Is he dying?"
Scully swallowed - a painful throat lump refused to
move - shook her head. "No. But we can't pin down the
pathology of the infection. Before we put him out, I asked
Mulder about it. He remembers being sick but that's all
he's able to tell us."
"I'd like to know how he made it back at all. That's a
question we haven't asked."
"I don't think he wants to talk about it, either because
it's too painful or maybe because he doesn't remember."
"This is bizarre." Skinner said. "What was the purpose?"
"You mean behind his kidnaping?"
"Yes. No demands were made. If they wanted the X-Files
shut down for good, why not just kill him? Why all this?"
Scully wondered too. About all of it. Mulder had walked
into Chilmark, she knew that much by seeing the black, cut
bottoms of his feet after she'd removed his sneakers.
No one had stopped to give him a ride. No one would.
Seeing a lone man stumbling barefoot along a highway in
the middle of the night?
Mental patient. Loser. Drifter. Nut. Steer clear.
That's what they - what anyone - would have been bound
And she, Doctor Scully, trained pathologist, forensic
scientist, had helped Mulder wash away any trace evidence
(anything that might have existed to give them a clue to
the identity of his abductors and abusers) right down the
Given him a bath!
All she had thought of last night was getting him home,
somewhere safe. A place she could keep watch over him.
Comfort and help and heal him. Heal herself a little too,
she now recognized.
Gathering evidence had crossed her mind, but it had taken
a secondary position to wrapping him in her arms and hugging
out the Boogie-men.
It had been a serious error, one she had confessed to
Skinner soon after his arrival at her apartment yesterday
He had huffed, not angrily, but in disappointment, and
then he had understood. This was Mulder, her old friend and
partner. And - Skinner had inferred from the silent
confession of her watery eyes - her love.
She'd acted impulsively, with her heart instead of her
head. Anyone would be forgiven for it once in a career.
"Sir, these antibodies,.. Mulder has been infected with
something. It is unidentifiable. It matches no DNA on record.
Yet it's left behind a fingerprint, it's own genetic string
INSIDE his cellular DNA. One which cannot be classified."
Skinner blinked. "Are you saying his DNA has been altered?
Or what he has may be contagious?" When she didn't answer, he asked
the question they'd both been tip-toe-ing around since the
conversation began. "Are you saying it's extraterrestrial?"
Frustrated, Scully spread her hands. "I don't know. Where
has he been? Eight years. In eight years, wouldn't we have
found something? Some kind of lead? He disappeared without one
trace. No clues what-so-ever. Nothing."
"It happens to thousands of children every year around
the world Agent Scully."
"Those are children. This is a grown man. This is Mulder.
Since when would Mulder not have somehow gotten to a phone?
Sent a message? In a bottle if he had to. Even escaped somehow?"
"We thought he was dead, Scully. Dead people don't send
Scully remembered dreams. In one such dream - god so long
ago now - she'd dreamed of Mulder whom everyone thought was
dead, a Mulder telling her he was all right.
No such dreams had come to her this time.
Skinner was talking. "Well, until we can gather evidence
to point us to how or who, I think there's only one question
left: What now?"
Skinner was asking her, she realized, the question not a
rhetorical one. In the case of Mulder's physical and mental
health, Skinner was leaving her in command.
"I don't know. I mean..." Scully shook her head, looked
at her hands, chapped from washing them again and again all
that morning long in between cutting away tiny pieces of her old
partner. "This, this is so much...it's enormous. Do I take
him home? Do I stick him in a halfway house, pay the landlady
and visit every Sunday? Do I let him walk away..." She bit
her lip and choked back the pain, "...and hope for the best?
I don't know. I just... don't know."
Skinner heaved a weary sigh, afraid for the emotional health
of one Dana Scully and not just the rediscovered Mulder
who was, as far as he could see, fast slipping through the
cracks of ever re-establishing a foothold anywhere back in
his old life. Skinner felt sorry for both of them.
Scully clipped her forgotten seatbelt in place. "Let's just
take him to Mercy...we'll figure something out."
It was 10:55 PM on a Sunday and although Skinner could
think of a more appropriate type of institution for Mulder
he didn't argue.
Maneuvering the car through sparse traffic and pointing
its nose in the right direction, they rode in silence for
"What's going on?" It was a slurred, sleepy voice. Mulder
pushed himself to a sitting position behind them.
Scully stiffened. She readied herself for the verbal lashing
she figured was coming her way for breaking her promise to
him at the clinic.
"You put me out." Mulder spoke quietly, but his voice was
a broken hinge. "How could you do that? - put me out - lie?"
"Mulder-" Scully started.
His tone was accusing and pained. "Now you'll tell me it
was for my own good. Well, you had no goddamn right deciding
for me what was for my own good."
"Mulder-" Skinner was about to explain, in Directors
fashion, Scully's decision.
"This is none of your business!" Mulder spat. He was angry.
Really angry but said nothing more, settling into the back
seat, allowing the silence to return.
There was a momentary truce.
For several minutes they rode that way.
Until Mulder tried his window control and found it didn't
work. "Roll down my window."
"There was an inversion today. It smells like hell out there."
Skinner informed him.
"I don't care. Just do it please. I'd like open air. I don't
want to be closed in."
Scully listened to Mulder's quickened breathing. Skinner
disengaged the window locks and Mulder opened his window all
the way. He seemed to breath easier after that.
Until Skinner auto-locked all the doors.
Mulder jumped when the little knobby on his door frame
dipped down with a click. It was the kind that sat flush
with the door-frame and there was no way to pinch it between
finger and thumb in order to pop it back up. "Why are you
locking the doors?"
"We're in Washington, Mulder." Skinner said, unable to
keep a trace of sarcasm and irritation out of his voice.
Yeah, they were in Washington, but Skinner also didn't
like the idea of a skittish Mulder sitting in his car with
his door unlocked. Bad enough he had his window open.
"Open it. Unlock my door." Mulder demanded. He didn't
make requests anymore.
"We're almost there." Scully said, twisting in her
seat and saw Mulder's chalk white face. He was really
"Almost where? Just unlock it!" Mulder was trying the
door handle now, jerking at it like if he did it enough
times, the door would miraculously pop open for him.
"What difference does it make?" Skinner made a last effort.
"Do it! Unlock this door, goddamn-it! Open this fucking
door or I'll break it!" Mulder was wide-eyed and reefing
both rear door handles. He wanted out. Any second, Scully
expected him to launch himself out the window and onto the
"Okay!" Skinner unlocked the doors then did two more things.
He took an off-ramp into a deserted business suburb and then,
slowed the vehicle right down to a crawl.
When the car slowed enough, Mulder wrenched his door open
and jumped out, running like the hunted down a paved alley.
The BMG's headlights shone eerily on his retreating form
as he quickly disappeared into night shadow.
Skinner had expected it. As well as what occurred next.
Scully also jumped out. "M-U-U-L-D-E-R! Mulder, where are
She was about to run after him, but Skinner stepped around
to the passenger side of the car and took her arm. "Scully.
Let him go. We have no right to detain him."
"What? Sir, the man is sick! He needs help!"
"But he still has the right to refuse that help." Skinner
said what he'd wanted to say to her since this whole business
started. "Maybe you should face the possibility that Mulder
doesn't want our help."
"He doesn't know what he wants, Skinner, he's ill." She
stared defiantly. "Mulder phoned me! I'm going after him."
Scully pulled her arm free and ran down the alley.
"Jesus." Skinner sighed, slammed the passenger door, got
into the drivers seat and followed her at what he hoped was,
to Mulder, a non-threatening distance.
Skinner drove between buildings, searching with eyes straining
into the inadequately lit alleyways until he saw them both. He
parked and got out but didn't approach them.
Mulder was sitting on the lowest step of a back entrance
to a warehouse and Scully was crouched before him, her hands
holding both of his tightly. He was crying. Skinner could
see the glisten on his cheeks and hear the murmur of their
quietly exchanged words.
Scully clasped his hands for all she was worth. She wanted
to hold him but knew he would not allow it. She wanted to fix
him - his hurt - all of it, but she was unable. "Mulder. I'm
He was silently weeping. Scully had never seen him cry so
much. In all the years she'd worked with him she'd watched
him cry three times.
The first time was when he was convinced his mother was
dying and, get himself killed though he almost did trying
to save her, he could do nothing to stop it.
The second was when he had failed to unearth his long buried
memories of his sister's abduction, even after the radical
"treatment" he had undergone which was to allow a Quack shrink
drill a hole in his skull. Doc "Tool-Time" would be undertaking
no more such operations from the jail cell where Scully had helped
The third and last was that late night Mulder came to her in
the days of her cancer and wept at her hospital bedside.
She'd awakened briefly to her hand wet with his tears and
her mattress trembling from his shaking but had been too weak
to comfort him in his display of grief or to even open her eyes
and smile so he would see her gratitude and feel better for it.
"Mulder. I'm sorry. I know you're scared to death about
what's happened to you. I'm scared too, I'm terrified. But I
don't know what to do."
He gently pulled one hand from her grasp and wiped his
eyes, trying to calm himself and pull together. He nodded.
"I'm forty-five years old, Scully." He sniffed.
She pulled a tissue from her jacket pocket and handed it
to him. He took it and wiped his eyes and nose, not looking at
her. "Forty-five years old."
He seemed to think that explained everything.
He had come back to life only to find himself older. Without
a home. Without family, job, purpose or reason for being. That's
what he meant.
"That doesn't mean your life is over. You still have me."
That just seemed to make him sadder. "Not for long." He
said and looked over to where Skinner was standing by the
car. "The boss is waiting."
Scully would broach his cryptic comment later. For now,
he needed peace and quiet. And more rest. Hospitals and
doctors and more prodding and more tests later. Soon, but
not right now.
"Are you going to let us help you or fight us? We'll do
it your way, Mulder, if you want. If you want to walk away,
you can. If you want our help, then you're going to have
to trust us. You're going to have to trust me, as hard as
that is, even though I've failed you, even though I went
against your wishes."
Mulder nodded and stood up. He was shaky and he leaned
on her. Scully was grateful for the physical contact. It
felt good just to know he trusted her still, that much.
"Let's get you home. Then in a few days, I'm taking you
to a hospital."
Mulder nodded vaguely, sagging into a restless sleep
almost the minute she got him again into the back seat
of the car.
"Take us back home." She said.
Skinner frowned and silently did what she asked. After
getting turned around and back onto the freeway, he broached
the subject. "You know where we should be taking him, don't you?
"Yes." She whispered back.
Skinner dropped his voice right down, following her lead
and her worried expression. She did not want Mulder waking
up. "He needs to be in a place where he can get the proper
"A mental hospital you mean? Absolutely not. If he needs
that kind of treatment, he can get it through a regular ward
or on an out-patient basis." She swallowed. "And he can stay
with me-" Scully looked pointedly at Skinner, "- for as
long as he needs to."
"You're biting off more than you can chew, here, Agent
Scully. And if you had an ounce of sense where Mulder was
concerned, you'd see that I was right. You can't handle
this on your own."
"Mulder is going to be fine." She spoke the lie. Mulder
had seemed to get it together somewhat back there and she
was hanging onto that tiny glimmer of sanity for dear life.
"You ignore common sense when it comes to Mulder. You
always have." Skinner offered. He had often admired her
loyalty to the man. And on not a few occasions indulged
in a bite of jealousy over the close relationship Mulder
had built with the smart, pretty agent and doctor. He'd
often, in fact, wanted to kick Mulder's ass half-way
across Washington for not opening his eyes to what he had
standing right before him instead of racing around half-
cocked after aliens and monsters.
Now here she was still protecting Mulder. Still
taking the risk for no reward other than his continence.
Or was there more between them? Had something more
developed prior to Mulder's disappearance that would
explain her obsession with the man?
As much as he hated to admit it, very probably there
had been. Some kind of intimacy, if not physical, then
something that would explain five years of sacrifices
made for him. Sacrifices that went far beyond duty,
loyalty or even friendship.
In her quiet, private way Scully had grown to love
the man, that much was clear.
Mulder, on the other hand, had been transparent.
He'd loved her from the beginning.
But that's where it had seemed to end. No other forward
steps and none taken in reverse. Either of them.
In Skinner's opinion, Mulder could not be an easy man to
love. Brilliant, yes. Loyal, if you suited his particular
quest, if you proved yourself, if you opened your soul and
displayed your trustworthiness to him on a squeaky-clean
Skinner knew something of the Mulder family. Powerful and
rich father. Socializing but prim, distant mother.
For dozens of years a sister who existed only in Mulder's
memory as a bright, happy girl child which image he kept
wrapped in flowered tissue paper somewhere deep down where
no-one else was allowed to peek.
Not, Skinner was certain, even Scully.
Skinner also knew of Mulder's upbringing. Knew there had
been intellectual encouragement. Had to have been for Mulder
to have done so well as to be accepted into Oxford, graduate
with honors and be recruited into the F.B.I.., quickly shooting
to the top of his specialty by becoming the best analyst in
the field of Violent Crimes at - how old had he been? -
twenty-eight? In any field of law enforcement, that was still
All the necessary things for sucess had been inculcated
into the young Fox but also present had been fists, belts
Maybe part of Scully's love for the man had been for the
broken soul she perceived beneath the hooded eyes and the
arrogant middle finger Mulder'd thrust at the world and
all who dwelled there. Maybe she had felt sorry for him.
Maybe underpinning her attraction and sparking feelings for
the tall, handsome agent had been pity. And a doctor's desire
Mulder had become her project.
"He needs peace and quiet. I'm going to have to take some
time off work...tomorrow, if he needs it, the hospital." Scully
"You're just delaying the inevitable."
She sighed heavily, knowing he was right. "Thank you for
helping me with him."
"I'll probably need it again."
"You'll have it." Skinner drove in quiet worry.
It was 10:00 AM on a Tuesday.
"Get off me! Let go of me you son-of-a-bitches!"
Scully had found Mulder, a ragged, scruffy, thin but
otherwise fairly calm and lucid Mulder, early Friday
Turn your head away and back and the world changes.
Five days can blanket it in ice. The sun, in darkness.
"You bastards, fucking let go of me! LET ME THE FUCK GO!"
Scully felt Earth turn under Sol as it always had for
those days. That is, in between the Friday of Mulder's return
and Tuesday, her perception of how life was now going to go
stayed relatively the same.
But after his dash to freedom from her betrayal at the
clinic and each hour thereafter Mulder had sunk deeper into a
kind of upright unconsciousness. Even the animation behind his
familiarly haunted eyes had slipped away. It had become more
and more difficult to get him to speak. He refused food. Rest
was the one thing at which he did not balk. Where ever it was
he had been, he had certainly learned to appreciate sleep.
But there was no opening now into his hurt like she had found
that first day or so. The gaping wound had closed over and
his infected soul would surely kill him.
The sun seemed to stop in the sky when that good light in
Mulder's eyes died.
Where she was now, in this admittance room, was ice. Death-
like cold. They were not at Mercy Memorial. This was another
place. A hard, unfeeling place she believed. One that would not
treat him with tender compassion as he would be if under her
care nor even if he were in a normal hospital room surrounded by
normal sickness. Here they would look, frown, take notes, shake
their heads. Doctors would ask questions. Terribly painful
questions no one should have asked of them.
No one's friend, partner or lover should ever have to endure
this place and their kind of questions. Their kind of healing.
Yet they were here. She and Skinner together had brought him
here and here is where they would leave him. Scully had spoken
to the doctors, signed the papers and the thing was done.
Her awful deed. Her final kiss.
But Mulder's banishment from life would also be her punishment.
She would feel the mind chilling walls of his isolation room just
as deeply as he would. Of that she was certain.
"Paranoid schizophrenia with delusional psychosis". The
very fat admitting doctor with the bad comb-over had explained
to her. Resident Director. Two hundred, thirty five patients
and twenty-eight staff under him (including maintenance), did not
make for a career rich in free time. He was attentive but to the
point. Painfully so. A short interview with his newest and most
anxious guest and following events had now resulted in that - a
brass tacks diagnosis.
Mulder had remained calm and cooperative until it was suggested
he stay voluntarily for observation.
Shooting venomous daggers at Scully for she had, after all,
brought him to this place, he all but exploded from his seat
at the words "convalescence" and "therapy". Then had come violent
cursing, a run for the bolted, electronic locked double metal
doors leading to outside.
It was her second betrayal if him and he hadn't been eager to
Scully might have let him go.
If he hadn't begun pounding on the doors like a wild bull when
they refused to open. If he hadn't started screaming and threaten-
ing the orderly who tried to stop his assault on the institution's
front exit. If Mulder hadn't wadded up a good fist and broken the
But another orderly had quickly appeared. And then another. And
soon four were trying to hold down the wildcat under them who bit,
punched, clawed and screamed.
She was explaining to Skinner the events of the past few hours
and the few minutes she'd been allowed alone with Mulder before
they came with more of their numbing drugs and white wool blankets
to cocoon him in their sterile cloak, the one stenciled with
invisible ink that said "sick".
"One minute he is calm, apparently rational,..."
She swallowed at the memory of Mulder being forced into
hospital issue white cotton pajamas. Four men, beefy and
perspiring had held him down while another jabbed a needle
into his boney hip. All five then fighting to get restraints
around his long limbs. Then, all the fight gone out of him,
Mulder lay in a colorless room on a standard, single roll away.
Nylon straps, the smell of fevered skin and hospital cleaner
stayed in her nostrils. It was a hated, familiar odor. Too often
in her sojourn as Mulder's partner and friend had she had to wash
out that stink of sanitized humanity from her hair and scrub it
from her skin. Too many needles had she seen slid beneath his flesh.
Too many IV needles snaked into veins and bandages wound to close
pink gashes and immobilize shattered bones.
No iodined flesh here, though. Naked soul however. Aching
soul. Something deeply poisoned by something else.
"...the next he's violent, terrified." She sighed and told
him the last bit. "Now he's withdrawn into himself and won't
"Except to you."
"Yes, sir. Except to me. At least for a minute he did."
He had yelled and wept. Not spoken.
Skinner stood and found the nearest refuse bin, dumping his
untouched coffee. He paced one way, then the other before her.
Skinner was ex-military, she knew. His was a soldier's movement.
He was prowling for answers, for a formulation of action. Searching
for the enemy. For someone to make pay maybe.
But there was no smoking man to blame, no conspiracy of lies,
no funny lights in the sky to investigate. There was just a
fallible man who could tell them nothing. Who might never do so.
Scully watched Skinner give up his pacing and sit heavily
beside her as she nursed her own cup of boiling machine java.
Watery. Almost tasteless.
Mulder had screamed and screamed to be released.
/"You don't know what you're doing to me Scully." Crying. "You
have no idea, no idea. I can't believe this. You're killing me.
I'll die in here. You can't do this.." Pleading. "Please, please
don't leave me like this. Help me, Scully!.." Sobbing. "You don't
know, you don't know..."/
/"Know what, Mulder?" At his side, speaking calm words into his
ear when she didn't feel calm. Stroking his dry mussed-up hair when
she felt like tearing out her own. "Tell me, Mulder. Talk to me.
Help me to understand..." Attempting to soothe his pain while
wanting to commit murder upon those who had reduced his human and
beautiful life to this. "Please don't shut me out. Not now. Not
when you need me." Not when I need you. Not when I can't live
another day seeing you like this./
/A keening from his lips only. A mourning of self; a spirit
bemoaning fate and terror; helplessness. Hopelessness./
"Can I drive you home?"
Scully heard Skinner's simple question and nodded. He felt
powerless as well.
"He's going to be all right, sir." She looked at him. Would
she see the same conviction there? "He will. He has to be."
It was not hopeless. Not for Mulder. She wouldn't let it be.
RESIDENCE OF IAN MOSS AND GARY BELHULTZ:
Gary zipped up his black uniform pants, glancing at his partner
seated on the couch. Ian was frowning, an uncommon expression for
his usually good natured lover.
"What's eating you, Ian? You've been doing that all evening."
"What?" Ian asked absentmindedly, his face hidden behind a
"That", Gary's dark haired head nodded in Ian's direction, "that
pensive "something's gotta be done" look. Something's up, I can
Ian thrust the magazine aside and lit a cigarette. The smoke
curled from his nose and haloed his blonde brush cut in a grey
haze. "Just a new patient - well, not new - he's been on my
floor for about a month. But he's not under my care."
Gary fed his leather belt through the pant loops and tucked his
shirt in. He preferred dressing his six-foot-two frame in the
doorway between bedroom and livingroom because the bedroom was all
but swallowed up by their massive king size bed and double dressers.
"And?" Gary knew Ian wanted to talk about it because he always lit
a smoke when he was worried about something or someone. Never
"Poor bastard, that's the "and". Been through some serious shit
from what I can tell."
"If he's not your patient, how do you know?"
Gary smiled to himself. That was Ian all over. Gary took care of
people in his way by being a cop. And as a care giver working in one
of the saddest forms of institutions ever erected by mankind - Mental -,
Ian cared for them in his.
"I mean," Ian went on, "he's all scarred up. Mind-fucked too, they
say. Schizo, delusional, paranoid, violent,...all the usual. They just
drug the shit out of him and let him sleep in his own drool all day.
Heard he nearly killed an orderly up on Six."
"And now that he's on Four?..." Gary slipped on his tie and pin, hat,
retrieved his badge off the nearest dresser and checked it for smudges.
Clipped it in place above his left breast pocket. Raked fingers through
his thinning crown.
"Well, he's so out of it, he's no threat anymore I guess."
"If he's on drugs, then he must be violent. Sounds to me like maybe
it's a good thing."
"That's just it,.." Ian frowned again, thinking and smoking.
Here it is, Gary thought. This is the part that's bugging him. Funny
thing was, Ian was usually right; about people.
"..I don't think he's violent. Not intentionally. I mean, I'm not
saying he isn't screwed up. But it seems to me like he's been dumped
there as someone's problem child and they can't be bothered dealing
with him anymore. I think he just needs a friend."
"Well, if he's on your floor, he's just found one." Gary had never
known anyone who could reach people like Ian. It was uncanny, that
ability of his just to talk softly, look at folks in the eye and know
what they were feeling. He could reach people and he seemed to do it
with no effort what-so-ever. Including himself. It was spooky. "You
should have been a psychiatrist."
"Too formal. I like to be on hand when the trouble is actually
happening. I like good, vigorous communication. Even if it's yelling.
Sometimes people need that. I think this guy needs to yell."
"Where'd this guy come from?"
"I don't know. Rumor is, though, he's ex-F.B.I.," smiling,
"Really?" Gary raised eyebrows at that one. "Hmph." He slipped his
weapon into place. "I gotta go. Be home by ten." He meant A.M., not
P.M., he had the night shift for two more weeks. His working partner
hated them more than he did as it kept him away nights from his new
wife. "Cliff hates these."
Ian nodded, eyeing Gary seductively. "Well, night shift or day, I
just love to watch you snap on your shield and polish your gun."
Gary flushed. "Cut it out." He headed for the door.
"Hey. No kiss?"
Gary shrugged into his issue overcoat. "Are you kidding? If I get
within three feet of you, I won't get to work for hours."
"Wait." Ian butted out his smoke. "Do you think you can...'
"I know. Dig up some info on your new guy. I'll see what I can do.
Gary stood waiting.
"The guys name?"
Ian scribbled something on a scrap of paper, crumpled it and tossed
it to him. "Sorry."
Gary read the name. "You're kidding."
Ian shook his head.
Gary stuffed the paper into his shirt pocket. "Now, I really gotta
go. Later, Sweet."
Ian fell back into his frown as Gary left their apartment. He fixed
himself a coffee, letting his mind wander back to the first few days
of the new patient's life at Walburg.
It had been quite a stir.
WALBURG INSTITUTE, BOSTON, MINN.
Ian heard Ramsey mutter. "Trouble?"
"Slightly." Ramsey replied. "Did you see the new guy? Crazy as a
mother-fucker. Been here three days. Already redecorated the wallpaper
in his ward with his dinner a few times. Goddamn mess. I hate the
"Batting around delicious Walburg food is nothing new here. Even for
the staff." Ian quipped. It was true. Regular Hospital food was a fussy
palette's paradise by comparison.
Ramsey responded with a grin. He didn't like Ian too much, the kid's
touchy-feely way with the patients not suiting his taste, but the
fag had a sense of humor at least. "Yeah, but he's been doing it
projectile-style today. He sprayed that entire fucking room, I swear
to god. They're still moping up in there."
"He's throwing up? Well, maybe he's sick? Did anyone think to call
Munroe?" Munroe was the morning resident practitioner. Five to one P.M..
"What do you think?" Ramsey said.
Ian knew it was best to exit the conversation and returned to his
own duties. Ramsey was civil most of the time but quickly became
irritated at persistence. Unfortunately, he was also the resident
gossip. If there was fresh juice to be had, he was the squeeze.
Ian sought out a more promising if less verbal source in the name
of Janice. She was a sympathetic, overworked nurse with a divorce in
one hand and a sack of children in the other. As far as Ian was
concerned, getting a divorce from that abusive prick of a husband
had been the best decision of her life. She was a great nurse who
treated her patients with all the tenderness she also reserved for
her three children. And she heard things.
"What about this new patient?" Was all Ian had to say. Janice
glanced up from her nurses station and smiled at him the tiniest bit.
They understood one another, both genuinely liking their respective
jobs. "The dark haired one?" She scribbled in her reports as she spoke.
"Take a stab at the name."
Ian shrugged. "Come on."
""Fox"." She said, enjoying his reaction.
"Weird?" Her eyes widened a bit. "Oh, you haven't seen him yet.
Well, if the name fits..."
"I was more interested in why he's been puking up his food. Has
Munroe checked on him?"
"Yup. Must be stomach cramps or something. He got a Pepto and a
needle and he's sleeping like a baby."
"Must have been the sawdust in the meatloaf."
Janice stacked her papers and sighed. She could go home now. "I
feel sorry for him. You ought to take a peek in on him, Ian. Keep
an eye on this one this aft' for me, okay? Let me know?"
He did, around four in the afternoon; look in on the unconscious
patient that is.
"The new one" was by himself in the pink room. A color from
bygone days that had claimed it knew everything there was to know
about violent patients and how to soothe them. "Fox" was strapped
down and didn't twitch a muscle when Ian entered.
The first thing Ian noticed was the metal wristband that denoted
allergies to drugs.
No food allergies were indicated.
"Fox" - a weird name for parents to name a newborn because who
knows how a kid is going to turn out. But it did fit. He still
smelled slightly of vomit though he'd been cleaned. Ian ignored it.
He'd smelled worse things by far. All the putrid fluids the human
body can produce and in quantities few had the opportunity to see.
He smelled shampoo also. At least someone had taken the time to
wash and then comb his hair. But it was dull and dry. Walburg was
sadly lacking in humidifiers.
Ian crouched down to take a look at the man's face. A face could
tell a lot about a person, even a sleeping one. But here, Ian saw
nothing unusual. Only tiredness. Circles under the eyes in a thin
face the color of plaster. The guy must have been puking up most
everything, he could use a few pounds.
Suddenly the eyes opened and looked into Ian's with perfect
lucidity. Hazel irises with black cavern-pupils put there by drugs.
Ian inhaled sharply when the eyes blinked, closed and opened
again. No lucidness now. Just holes so deep it made him stagger
just to look at them. Filled as they were with old, long hurt that
reached it's grasp so far into the past he lost sight of it.
Ian searched for a word to describe what he was seeing and came
up empty. His own fingers reach out and touched that face.
It was unique. Angled jaw line joined cheekbone and brow together
in one ancient mold that effortlessly swept away all modern
examples of male beauty. A face borrowed from the Sistine Chapel
ceiling itself. From Solomon's Temple. From the Carpenter. From
something so beautiful and so innocent that it was painful to think
it being imprisoned here. But it was his eyes that took his breath
away. The old, old pain in them. Eyes accustomed to disappointment.
Eyes that knew all the worst of life and had come to expect nothing
The pain itself belonged here. Here in this modern shrine of
wounded people. But not the eyes that contained it. They were as
out of place as a peacock in a slaughterhouse. As removed as
heaven was from hell.
That was the word that had eluded Ian. It described perfectly
that first an only wordless communication.
Fox had shut his eyes and did not open them again.
Ian wasn't sure where the idea had come from or why it slipped
out. All he did know was that the words were pure truth.
"You don't belong here."
It was enough. She'd loved Fox too. At one time, for
him and Dana, she'd even hoped...
But that was history. Except history had a way of
repeating itself by resurfacing to wreak all it's
mistakes and anguish upon a new generation or just
the same old, exhausted one.
"Goddam it!" Margarete Scully caught herself in the
unusual act of swearing. It was not that she was so
old-fashioned she thought it un-lady like, it was just
not her. The words didn't roll off her tongue with the
right pizzaz. But the word vocalized her own feelings
Just when Dana was getting over it - him - just when
she was finally almost herself again and focused on
career, self and perhaps finding someone to share all
that smarts and beauty with -
- he had come back.
Gone and Dead.
Back and alive.
Margrette switched it in her head: Fox, a friend, not
Been back for days and, according to Dana with whom
she'd just gotten off the phone, in terrible trouble. Fox
was "sick". Dana had used the euphemism while speaking
stark words with a voice so small it threatened to vanish.
Margrette had heard his name as Dana applied it, not to
a missing, presumed dead partner, but a living, breathing
real person who was back and ready to launch her daughter
into untold new levels of grief and worry, however
Margrette had held onto the receiver so tightly, her
knuckles turned white, the blood pinched from her fingers.
Dana had said words and Margrette had heard them but she'd
also felt an overwhelming urge to scream into the phone: "LEAVE
HIM THERE!" when Dana mentioned the name and type of
institution where Fox was. But she didn't. She made
sympathetic mother noises, helpless against the Fate that
twisted them all cruelly in it's steel wires. "Oh, mom.
Poor Mulder." Her daughter had cried to her through AT&T.
Margrette didn't want to be supportive of this new horrible
twist in their lives. Lives that had returned to blessed
averageness. But she'd said all the right things and even
offered to come up to be with Dana. Dana had refused though
She let fly with every expletive she knew, tearing
the phone from the wall and flinging it against her kitchen
cupboards. A crash of unwashed plates from breakfast was it's
last act as the phone broke them apart in the soapy water.
Cried bitter, angry tears for her daughter. And,
despite her new found hatred that was not against Fox
Mulder but his untimely reappearance, still some of those
tears were shed for him.
Margarete Scully was not an ogre. She had never hated the
man as her son Bill had, who'd blamed Fox for every misfortune
that had befallen the Scully clan since little sis' head been
partnered with him. Margarete knew Dana made her own
choices and had always been willing to live with the
Her feelings about Dana's unusual workmate had run
quite the opposite of hatred actually, having grown to care
about him. Especially, as it had become quite plain to her
over the years that, other than Dana, no one else seemed to.
Fox had saved her daughter's life and she had never heard
Dana speak of him with anything other than respect even if
they were in complete disagreement over a case.
But then Fox had been kidnaped - "abducted" Dana had
That was years ago.
Mulder was dead. Eventually that's what they all had
Margarete had feared for the depth of her daughter's grief,
not for the tears Dana had shed but the lack of them. It was
as though Dana refused to accept it. Denied his disappearance.
Refused the possibility of his no longer being alive, hoping he
might come back.
Teena Mulder with her expensive lace hanky had stood
weeping silently by the memorial stone. A grim Walter Skinner,
silent and respectful, had placed one hand on Dana's shoulder
as the service ended and people in a fashion proper to the
showing of grief slowly migrated to their various vehicles.
For some reason, everyone had looked ashamed. Guilty for
not having sent Christmas cards or remembering to say hello
when they had passed the deceased in the hallway for all those
Dana had shook Assistant Director Skinner's hand and
walked quickly to her own car. She had shed not a single
tear. Was a no-show at mom's home service of buffet
dinner and appropriate dainties.
At her dad's funeral, Dana had cried.
Not at Fox's.
Margarete had cried at the memorial service. For
lots of reasons. Mostly for Fox and for her daughter.
For a man who had brought something to her youngest's
eyes Margarete hadn't seen before. A newness, a sense of
purpose, a ethereal substance that somehow had made Dana
seem so much more than she had been.
Fear, too, had come with that new partnership. Fear and
danger and then grief like she herself had never experienced.
Yet, in the dawn of that pairing, a light had begun to
shine in her daughter's eyes that she couldn't explain.
That's what Margarete remembered. "He's intelligent, kind
of obsessive. Very cute but a little weird." Had been Dana's
summation of her new partner.
Especially in the time prior to Fox's disappearance, had
that light increased. Something had happened to them that
terrible summer. The summer she'd greeted Dana at her
front door and saw the tiny, broken capillaries still visible on
both cheekbones. Dana had looked tired and ill from her
experiences in the Antarctic but underneath a strength had
peered out of those blue, blue eyes that negated all the
A woman who was content. A happy woman.
Love had come that summer.
So Margarete's heart had cried too, when it was decided
that Fox was dead.
And when Fox had vanished, so, too, did the light.
Margarete had cried for the atrocities and pain that had
come to these two young people. Through no reason that
had been made known to her, terrible deeds had been
perpetrated against them by people Dana had yet to reveal.
For unrealized hopes and dreams she had cried. For a brief
universal moment of peace ripped away one cool September
night when the one was snatched and the other left to mourn
him. For nothing good left behind for either.
For all of that, Margarete's heart had also wept.
It had not been Fox's fault despite what Bill had said.
Any of it.
Now both had to pay all over again as God watched and did
nothing. Her own faith had been on shaky ground ever since
that funeral and each day after as she watched her daughter
sink into a melancholy that had only just begun to lift.
Fox. Dead. Her daughter. Left dying. It had not been his fault.
Fox was back. He was alive. It was not his fault.
It wasn't Dana's fault or her fault and that was the trouble. It
was never anyone's fault.
She supposed she should go and try to visit Fox in the
hospital, never mind that Dana had said not to. His mother
was dead. No other family to speak of anymore.
Dana's his family, we're his family...
The phone in the living room rang. Joyce calling her about
the Craft Fair or because her serving tray was still sitting
on her kitchen counter from the last card game. Joyce's
pecan tarts had been perfect as usual.
Simple, pleasant things that mocked Margarete's newest,
unwelcome source of sorrow.
Margarete balled her fists. Why does it have to be this way?!
"I know something about False Memory Syndrome.
This could very easily be that." Kurtzman flipped
through his appointment book.
Scully wasn't sure what to think about Kurtzman. He
had spent many years in his field. His office wall was
crowded with degrees. His shelves lined with books,
some which he himself had penned.
He would do all that was required of him as Chief
of Psychiatry at Walburg Institute. But would he take
Mulder under his wing? Would he look beyond the
clinical and find the suffering man inside? That's what
Scully wanted. It's what she'd hoped to find here.
Wasn't sure if she had in Kurtzman.
"You haven't even discussed what happened with him,
how can you be sure what it is yet?"
"From what you've told me regarding his memories
about his sister, it's in the report you provided. His history
of mental and emotional disturbances is all right there. Not
a year prior to his disappearance, he was admitted for psychiatric
observation upon claiming the ability to see a monster that
"hides in the light". You made your own statement in that report
regarding his ordeal as a hostage. He was in a confined situation
- beaten during the incident if I remember correctly. He claimed
that only he and certain individuals already dead possessed the
ability to see the monster. His direct superior added a statement
that included what he himself witnessed of Fox Mulder's actions.
Another Illinois field agent stated that his behavior had been
"I also submitted an addendum to that report stating my belief
that Agent Mulder was in fact sound of mind and that I myself was
later able to substantiate certain aspects of his claims."
Kurtzman stopped and looked at the woman sitting across from
him. This lady was, also, a doctor, albeit a pathologist. She had
seventeen years under her belt working in a variety of positions as
an agent of the F.B.I.. This new patient was her former partner and
Kurtzman wanted to be clear with her.
"Medical aspects, yes, you did. Your report from the hospital room,
however, was vague. You saw a "large, dark form"."
She stared back. Looked away.
"I will do my best with him, Doctor Scully. But I can make no
predictions about how he will respond to treatment."
"I know." There was no choice anyway. It was Kurtzman or nobody.
Kurtzman adjusted his frameless glasses. "The report stated
his memories about his sister's disappearance changed post
hypno-regression therapy under Doctor Verber and that later
he began to doubt his own recollections about what happened
that night. He blamed himself for it, is that correct?" He looked
Scully nodded. Kurtzman seemed to want to review the facts
with her. Scully knew what that thick folder said. The picture
it painted of a highly intelligent but disturbed man who believed
in the paranormal and who blamed aliens for his sisters abduction
(and now his own as well). Who was so ridden with guilt over his own
perceived inability to act that he could only cope by finding some
kind, any kind, of explanation. Even a supernatural one instead of
the simplest one; that his sister had been taken by a pedophile and
lay in an undiscovered shallow grave to this very day.
Scully knew that's what others saw in Mulder.
She had five more minutes with Kurtzman. Not enough time
to explain how that report was wrong. Not enough time to
convince him with reasonable words that she also had
experienced things and seen things no one else on earth
had. No time. No proof either.
Yet, if Mulder was to come back to her, she had to let Kurtzman
try and help Mulder. She had to trust him.
"Over the years there were other periods of obsessions."
Kurtzman was saying. "There's a whole cauldron of reasons to
suspect he's imprinting or rather painting a picture of what
happened to him instead of actually remembering the facts
for reasons that should become clear, not least of which
would be that it was a frightening, painful and a prolonged
Kurtzman was trying to be sympathetic and show her he was
not an unfeeling guy.
"And from what I've read of his psychological profile and
periodic mandated therapy during his F.B.I. years, Mulder
exhibits Chronic Victim tendencies. He's a lonely individual?"
Scully had to nod.
"And he made a lifetime work out of studying abduction
victims, seeking out proof of the existence of Extraterrestrial's,
trials and UFO's...well,..it's just an educated guess at this
juncture, but I don't believe he's showing us anything new."
She couldn't help herself. "So you're conclusion is that
he's faking all of this? Is that the basis upon which you'll
treat him? The polygraph showed no evidence of deceit or
intent to deception."
"I am not minimizing his symptoms or that he is in a disturbed
state of mind. However, all a polygraph proves is that he believes
what he's telling us."
"He has scars, Doctor Kurtzman, from non-self-inflicted wounds,
some that might have been fatal had someone - I don't know who -
not provided medical aid."
"I didn't say he wasn't held captive, I didn't say he hasn't
gone through something horrific. But I think what he believes
happened and what actually happened are two different things.
With the amnesia he's suffering, a somewhat selective amnesia,
that's not a big surprise."
Kurtzman was wrong. The reports were wrong. She had nothing
to show him that Mulder was not lying or imprinting or selectively
deleting aspects of his eight year absence because they didn't
fit the abduction claim. IF he was, it was because they were too
painful for him, not because they would expose his abduction
claim as false.
Scully wanted to yell: We don't know ANYTHING!
If she were in Kurtzman's shoes, she'd be mouthing the same stuff
he was. She'd be placating and polite but firm in her assertations
that Mulder was mentally ill and that what he said should not be taken
at face value. Her eyebrows would be twitching too at the friend of
Mulder sitting across the desk attempting to convince the doc
that the man brought in for treatment for mental disturbance was
not actually crazy.
She wanted to laugh. She wanted to bend over and laugh at
the top of her lungs. He might not have her committed if she did,
but he would wonder. Kurtzman would certainly wonder.
"His sister was abducted at eight years of age. In the
investigation, was the possibility ever explored that-"
"-Mulder killed her? Yes. And no evidence what-so-ever
was found to substantiate it. He was, in fact, so traumatized
he was catatonic for four days and suffered complete amnesia
about the events of that night for over two decades."
"Catatonic? Amnesia? I see..."
Scully flushed. She'd said those things to support Mulder's
complete innocence in the disappearance of his sister, Samantha.
Now even she had to concede the possibility at least...-No! "Mulder
didn't kill his sister." She knew him too well. Random, unprovoked,
violent act? Not Mulder.
But Kurtzman had enough crap in that fucking file to write another
book with Mulder as the main character.
"But he did live with the guilt for more than twenty years.
Maybe he simply made up his abduction - I'm sorry - the reasons
behind his abduction to allay his guilt. Maybe he just couldn't
live with it any longer. There's no doubt he was kidnaped and that
he's suffered a great deal, but perhaps he feels some sort of atonement
now. Perhaps in his mind justice has been satisfied. I'm not saying that
is so however."
Reasonable. Logical. Made sense.
If Mulder had been walking the edge of some kind of emotional
knife prior to his disappearance, he had showed no sign of it. Which
meant nothing, really. She had seen no sign, but they'd both been
swamped with caseloads and paperwork and she'd been on loan to
Quantico in between. They'd seen little of each other since
Antarctica. Could he have murdered Samantha? She refused to believe
it. Did Mulder hate himself? Very possibly. Self esteem had never
been his watch-word.
None of it, however, answered the question about where he'd
been and with who.
"How will you treat him?" Scully asked, leading away from
the conversation that was disturbing her more than she liked
to admit. She didn't know what happened to Mulder. No one
did. But he was not insane (at least, he never used to be),
and he was not lost.
She just knew.
She had the DNA evidence, whatever it really meant. Unidentified
genetic string that had no business being there. /"Fifth and sixth
Base Pair. That is, by definition, extraterrestrial."/
"Meds, and a group that meets four times each week. Each
patient has been through similar traumas and I've found it
has helped them to open up. It's not always easy. Most are
long term. I also give private therapy but that's not covered
under his insurance plan..."
Kurtzman left it open for her to decide which course for Mulder.
She didn't have to choose. There was no money for private
counseling. "The group will be fine. I've provided both Bryant
and Munroe copies of Mulder's medical report and recent psychological
work up." Carefully edited copies. What would any of these professionals
think of her discovery of Mulder's out-of-this-world DNA? "If you
have any questions or need anything from me or if he asks to see
me,...please call me right away."
"I'm going back tomorrow afternoon. I have to see him once
more before I head back to Washington."
Skinner set his jaw at the other end of the phone line. He was
back in Washington and trying to be understanding about his
former doctor/agent's misplaced self-blame.
"You had to do it, Scully. Mulder was on the proverbial edge.
He might have done anything."
"Well, now he's over the edge if I understand Kurtzman's meaning.
They've got him on Thorazine and two or three other drugs. They
want to start him right away on group therapy with Bryant because they
think the sooner, the better. I suppose I should be delighted with how
much good I've done him." Biting sarcasm. "Everything's just peachy."
"What could you have done? Kept him warm and fed? Lock him
in his room at night? Be afraid every minute you're away that you
might come home and find his brains all over your kitchen floor?"
Mulder was insane.
"Gee, don't hold back or anything, Skinner, tell me what you
Director Skinner strode around his bigger, more expensively
decorated office. Leather chairs, marble floors, oak desks...the
place was a monument to F.B.I. Old Horses. "I think you should
go visit Mulder, see that he's being taken care of and then take
the first flight back to Washington and your own life."
Mulder was now a ward of Walburg Mental Institute. He would
be in Walburg for a long time. Walburg was in Boston.
It was the best thing for him. It was the best for all concerned.
Skinner was certain it was best for Scully.
He heard Scully sigh at the other end of the too distant conversation.
She sounded defeated and angry. "Thank you for helping
me get him there." At least she also sounded resigned to facts.
Skinner knew Scully had exhausted every last penny of the Mulder's
personal family money to set Mulder up for a year of intense treatment
and therapy at Walburg. He wondered if it would be enough.
"Don't forget. I'm always here if you need anything." Scully would
be returning to Quantico and their paths would again diverge.
"Thanks. That means a lot." Sounding like she meant it, she
Skinner replaced the receiver. Nothing had been accomplished
by his call to her except antagonism. Pouring himself his eighth
cup of coffee of the day, he tried to concentrate on work. After
twenty minutes of turning pages of the report in front of him
and retaining not one word of it he gave up and placed a call to
Dulles, arranging a flight out for that afternoon.
It was always best to do these things in person.
"I'm here to see Fox Mulder. I was told Doctor Bryant would clear
my visit." Scully announced to the Receiving Desk nurse who looked
annoyed at the "not-visiting-hours" visitor. "Just a moment." Nurse
pressed a button on her multi-functional phone. "A Ms. Scully to see
Patient Mulder. You cleared this, she says."
After gathering a reply in the positive, Scully was soon stepping
into a private visiting room where Mulder was already waiting.
Bryant had him brought down as soon as he heard she was waiting.
A uniformed Orderly locked the door behind her.
Scully cautiously without being too obvious about it took stock
of Mulder. He'd only been in the place four days. She'd last seen
him two days previous.
He looked normal. Tired. Hair combed and face shaved though.
Hospital issue boring whites rumpled. With the exception that he
didn't look at her he seemed usual.
"Hi Mulder." Start simply. Don't ask how he is. Don't get excited.
Don't judge. Don't find fault, don't place blame, don't try to
figure it all out. That's what Bryant had advised. It was standard
stuff. She'd read it all in a pamphlet he'd given her. She'd read
through it before coming today. She wouldn't hurt him.
"Hey." He answered, looking at her. Not a smile but not tight-
She sat opposite his slump. Stiff-backed, she folded her coat neat
and square in her lap. "I guess,...I just wanted to see you before
He nodded matter-of-factly. "Standard goodbye visit." He commented.
Scully flushed. Swallowed. Remained calm. It was so hard. "I didn't
know what else to do, Mulder. You...were scary." Don't blame. Don't
hurt. "This is hard for me too."
"Of course. I frightened you. Well, I'm pretty fucking scared too."
He raked his hair with his left hand. His right wrist was encased in
plaster of Paris and remained resting on his knee. "I guess you might
say frightened, petrified, terrified, shaking in my Nut-House slippers.
Do you sense a pattern emerging here, Doctor Scully?" He was being
defensive. Combative. Bryant said he would be. It was expected. It was
on page twenty-three.
/"Mulder might be antagonistic, huh?" She'd asked Bryant
ironically. "Well, I'll keep that in mind."/
"Mulder, look, I'm going to be flying here every second weekend
because I want this to work. This isn't a punishment. We're trying to
"You can help me by getting me out of here right now. Today." He
stared at her and for a second or two he looked just like Agent Fox
Mulder of the F.B.I. and not a proclaimed abductee who had two days
before tried to kill another man and then cripple his own arm by
slamming it again and again into a locked, metal door.
"I can't. No matter how much you hate me for this, I can't. I won't
let you destroy yourself." Fuck the Manual. "I won't let you hate
yourself for something you couldn't prevent or change or...escape
Mulder didn't answer and, figuring the conversation was done, Scully
rose. Slipping her arms through the coat sleeves, she gathered her good
intentions and reached down to take her briefcase.
Mulder had his face buried in both hands, the right one awkwardly
because of the cast. His shoulders shook. His whole body shook.
God, she wanted to run away from this; the whole responsibility of it.
If she didn't love him, she would have.
But instead she squatted before his sharp knees, he was still so thin,
taking his hands in hers. "I wish I could make this better. I wish I
could make it all go away, everything, these last eight years, all of
it." His face screwed up tight from the force of his spilling pain, it
was always so hard to watch him cry. She had never gotten used to it.
"Please don't leave Scully."
Shit. That was the last thing she wanted to hear. It was the hardest
request to refuse. "I have to Mulder. You know I have to. I have a job,
I can't ignore it forever." And there are doctors bills to pay.
"Please don't leave me in here. Bars on the windows, fucking padding
on the walls of my "room". I'm wearing white pajamas for Christ's sake.
I sleep on a..a..m-mat!"
Humiliating. "That's only temporary, Mulder. When you stop being a
danger to yourself and others they'll move you to a regular ward. You
almost killed that man - you choked him."
"Because I knew I was being locked in."
"Would you have killed him?"
He stared at her. "To get out? Yes."
"That's why there are bars on your windows and padding on your
walls. Look at your wrist, Mulder."
He sighed deeply. Bone-weary resignation. "I didn't ask for much,
Scully. Just some time. That's all I wanted. It's what I need. I'm
forty-five years old."
Forty-five and being fitted for a straight-jacket. Who wouldn't be
terrified? "I wish it could be different-" Mulder needed a controlled
environment, where he could feel safe.
"-Scully. Don't you get it?" The tears came slow and silent and
without any secondary signs of distress. He was calm but not okay.
"I'll die in here."
"No, you won't." It was her doctor's voice. Assured, rational.
Controlled, calm and convincing. Her best trick whenever Mulder
had appeared to be teetering on the edge of too far "over there".
He laughed but not because he thought it funny. It was a "You
know dick-all" laugh. "Yes, I will."
Scully looked at the scuffed, linoleum floor, yellow from years of
old wax, the grainy walls were in need of painting. She'd done the
best she could. The last of his assets had been sold. His things which
she had kept in storage all those years, his car, his bank accounts.
The Mulder summer house on Rode Island - enough to pay for one year's
worth of intense psychological and medicinal therapy at Walburg. She
prayed to God it was enough.
I'll come visit every day, she had wanted to say but it would have
been a self-comforting lie. Every second weekend was about all she
would be able to manage. As long as work didn't interfere.
"Some of these injuries could have been self-inflicted." Doctor
Bryant had said after reading the edited information she'd provided,
leaving out the blood work-up and what they suspected of his DNA.
Self-inflicted. That had occurred to her of course. It was one of
a whole range of possibilities she'd thought of. One in particular
she didn't like to think about was that Mulder had made no attempt to
contact her or anyone for the very reason that he hadn't wanted to.
That he'd been kidnaped - abducted, taken, whatever - was clear.
But by who was not. And if it had been by your average human, earth-
bound psycho, it was possible that somewhere along the way Mulder
had escaped and then just not come home. He might really have
gone crazy after that, some of the cuttings and the wounds done by
his own hand. The lack of communication with hearth and home perhaps
because of fear or shame. When one takes up a knife and separates
one's own skin and watches as one's own blood flows - well, a
difficult thing for anyone to own up to.
But people get lonely, hungry, cold and tired. So eventually, he'd
come home and guess what? Abduction. Aliens did this to me, Scully,
I was taken away. I've been held captive on another planet for eight
years. They're the ones who cut me.
Of course these things had occurred to her. She'd rejected them.
Some of the wounds had been deep and impossible for him to have
done himself. Especially the right shoulder wound. Very deep. Arteries
had been severed, a fatal wound that would have pumped blood out
in quarts. Whoever had delivered that blow had wanted to see him
die. Yet Mulder was here and still breathing so help must have
gotten to him somehow.
Had he caused the other injuries though?
Believing Mulder had done all this to himself would mean eight
years of her own life had been kidnaped as well. She'd hung on,
thinking as they all had that he had been taken and kept away
against his will. So she'd waited and hoped for most of those years.
Tough but she'd done it.
Believe that he had been taken, escaped and then stayed away
willingly would mean those years had been wasted on a falsehood.
That was so much worse.
Scully had rejected Bryant's words. For many reasons. Some because
she wanted to believe Mulder was telling the truth. Others, known
only to her.
Mulder was home. Maybe he was fighting for life. Whatever the
truth was they would find out or they wouldn't.
He had good doctors. Munroe, general practitioner. Bryant,
therapist. Kurtzman, shrink.
The room was chilly. Walburg reminded her of herself and of Mulder.
Worn out, tired but still functioning. She would hold onto that.
He was mute, beyond hearing. Trying to scare her?, she wondered.
Manipulate her into removing him from this place and taking him
home where he just might lose himself one day and air-condition his
skull with a bullet.
She rose. "Mulder. Take your meds, go to your therapy, talk to
Bryant and Kurtzman. I'll see you in two weeks. You are not going
Scully knocked on the secured door. The orderly appeared and let
her out, relocking the door by turning a key from his collection on a
ring the size of a hula-hoop. Scully chanced a look back at Mulder
through the wired-meshed window.
Mulder was sitting very still, crying. He looked skinny and white and
sick but he was not shaking anymore.
Mulder was returned to his room and he went immediately to the tiny,
thick-glass window, his only view of outside. The forbidden world.
He wanted to see her.
She was so tiny against the enormous trees that hadn't yet shed
their leaves. A faint dusting of snow softened the late September
landscape. The beauty of the grounds and the parking lot hid the
ugliness of inside.
Her coat fell around her knees, touching her, tickling his senses.
Her soft, pretty hair the color of autumn leaves moved under the
fingers of the wind.
Someone was walking up to her. A man. She turned and walked
over to meet him. Someone she knew.
Mulder squinted. They stood by her car. She spoke to him. They
Mulder knew the man too. He stepped back from the window and
curled himself up on the thin mattress, shaking in terror.
When the next shift rotations went into effect, Ian made sure
his and Janice's start-time/quit-time overlapped. It meant he
would see that much less of Gary for the next two months but he
had the feeling it was important that he be there to keep an eye
on Fox during the evenings.
Janice's concern over the troublesome patient had
grown and she fed that concern to Ian through looks
and the occasional crucial conversations they managed
to grab whenever their coffee breaks coincided.
"He hardly eats and throws up most of it. Munroe
just keeps feeding him antacids and gravol. I think
he prefers ordering the gravol 'cause it slows Fox
"What's he been doing?"
"Fox? Nothing. I mean, no fights or anything, it's
just the throwing up and hysterics when anyone touches
him. Problem is, to clean him up, he has to be touched,
y'know? To give a shot, even meds...but those meds
keep him pretty out of it most of the time."
"Why the hell hasn't Munroe ordered some Upper GI's
or something on him to figure out what the hell is wrong?"
"He did and you should have seen that battle. They had to
pump the barium shit in through a tube. He had to be tied down
in each position for the slides. It took forever."
Ian could picture it. Fox was sick and weak but he was a
fighter. "Did they find out anything though?"
"Oh, yeah, he has a hiatus hernia. Nothing major, millions
of people have them and it accounts for the vomiting I
"Fucking Munroe is a prick. Maybe Fox really can't stomach
the food. Jesus, he might have allergies to preservatives or
"Hmm, anyway, our little Fox has tricks." Janice raised one
eyebrow and waited.
"He has a stash."
"A stash of goodies. Food. Someone's been sneaking him in
sweets. Chocolate mostly. And nougat. Barb brought me a whole
wad of wrappers he'd shoved in the bedsprings."
"Caffeine. Sugar. Stimulants. Unhealthy shit. Who'd be doing
that? He only ever gets one visitor and she'd never,..she's a
doctor or something so no way in hell. One of the staff?"
"I dunno." Janice shrugged. "And nobody knows where the hell
he's hiding it. They keep tossing the wards."
"Is he at least eating his oatmeal?"
"Mnn-hum. That and soup. Whenever they make him eat anything
else, either funnel or pump, he barfs!"
"Poor son of a bitch. No wonder he keeps trying to run." Every
few days or so, one staff member or another would catch Fox
trying to pick the lock of the ward doors or his room (if he was
confined in solitary), or trying to smash through the wire-
meshed bathroom windows. No one knew how he was managing
to sneak around unnoticed. Ian knew. The staff didn't watch the
patients nearly so closely as they claimed to. Many hated the work
and put out the minimum. Besides Fox had been FBI, hadn't he? He'd
probably learned to be sneaky. F.B.I.'d wrote the book on Sneaky.
"Well it's a nice place to visit but I wouldn't want to
live here." Janice quipped and rose from her seat in the small
"Wait. When are you off? Bring me up to date for today."
"Tell you on the way."
After he dutifully had consumed his stew (he did sometimes
cooperate. The dead were experts on knowing when to give in),
it was time for meds and he palmed them. This time it worked.
He could spend the evening looking at and actually seeing the
white layer of frost that had come that morning and stayed. It made
the life outside look strangely alive while stilling it.
Unlike him, beautiful. Like him, dead. He, living or not, could still
appreciate pretty things.
"Hey, Mulder." A voice dropped from above him and, along with it,
something fell in his lap. He was cross-legged in the corner of the
main hall. A sitting area where patients came to sit or watch T.V..
The window sill was just low enough to afford a view of outside
if he craned his neck.
He fingered the Butterfinger as Ross, a frequent bearer of such
gifts, walked quickly away.
It was as much association with a corpse as anyone would want, he
supposed. As before he didn't question the gift and tucked it under
his shirt. Such secret repasts hurt less than the kitchen's offerings
and tasted better besides.
Joseph, a fellow patient, resented the little favors Fox was receiving
from the enemy and made it his business - not to snitch because
snitching to the staff was like one chicken complaining about another
chicken to the weasel - but to make Fox's life miserable at every
Joseph choose his left-over grape juice this time and pitched the
half-full plastic cup at Fox's head. It hurt, a little, but the mess
was everywhere and soon Ross was back and escorting him to the showers
to clean up while someone went to lecture Joseph about playing nice.
Eyes at his back, Fox washed up and was given clean pajamas, which
was all he was ever allowed to wear. His repeated escape attempts
had behooved the staff to forbid him anything resembling street wear.
Pajamas were noticeable on the outside.
It didn't stop him from trying though.
That night he got as far as the back fence. He had managed
to steal a small pair of sewing scissors from a new and not
too bright nursing student, picking the locks on three sets of
doors including the chains on the rarely used rear exit before
the dozing night watchman noticed him on the monitors and
punched the claxon.
"It's the norm for him." Ramsey was referring to the patient
who'd been dragged away to the infirmary. Besides his cast,
Fox had a new bandage on his hand and Ramsey had heard that
an orderly, Ross, was sporting butterflies on his temple, though
the injury was minor. Two staff now tagged courtesy of their most
"Oh. He always like that?" The student asked, a new
nursing assistant. It was her first week. She was in
the Cage with Ramsey, looking over the front desk.
"Mostly." Fox had tried to escape the night before
and been caught, so rebelliously had refused his meds
that morning. It was needle time. And tube time too
because the recalcitrant patient had also refused his
"I wish they'd just give him everything through a needle.
His screaming just gets all the others going. What are you
"My scissors. I heard he used to be F.B.I., maybe it got to
be too tough. I wonder what happened."
"Who cares what happened to a suit. Rich dad - some
government cheese. Old money. Just try working in a place
like this for twenty years. This is tough." To Ramsey, rich
folks in expensive suits were the enemy. "As far as I'm
concerned, he belongs right here in Club Fucked."
The little student nurse stole a peek into the infirmary.
The dark haired patient was strapped down and though he was
bucking like a bronco at his restraints, the drugs were already
taking him down.
"Maybe he just doesn't like the rules."
Ian crouched down beside the table where Fox was, once again,
drugged with a gallon of Thorazine. They'd shot him full of enough
of the shit, Ian figured, to fell an elephant. It was only Fox's
He studied the man and wondered. Fox was curled up his side,
no need for straps when muscles were sludge and wouldn't obey. His
eyes were open but didn't look at Ian at all. Looked passed him
or through him, drugs blurring reality into something manageable.
Ian spoke softly. He didn't want to startle him or alert any
curious staff who might be wandering passed Isolation's slightly
"I don't know what all hell you've been through to bring you
here, but we've got to get you better."
Ian touched the man's face. It was cool and pale. The drug.
"I see that lady who comes to visit, the one you refuse to
speak to. I think she cares and I think she wants you to
come home." Ian fingered the man's dry, wispy hair. It looked
like someone had cut it with a weed-eater. The staff barber
must have had an off day.
Whether his gesture of kindness made any impact, Ian couldn't
tell. Fox's eyes remained empty. "If I wasn't so insanely crazy
about Gary, I'd go for you myself, you seem about my type. They
say you're here because you're insane. Violent too. I don't know
why but I don't believe that. There's just something about you."
He withdrew his hand, grabbing a blanket bunched around Fox's
feet. "I think you need to get better, Fox, and go home. She's
been here every two weeks like clockwork. She must care about you
a lot to keep coming."
Ian stood and checked him over, being careful of Fox's thin wrist
where the cast used to be and where was now a loose square of
gauze. The flesh of that hand was pebbled and flaky. Arranging the
blanket around the staring mummy, he said "At least think about it."