Date: Wed, 13 May 1998

TITLE: "Redrawing The Line" (1/2)
BY: Ten

CATEGORY: S, MSR, angst, MulderTorture
SUMMARY: Scully's abduction and return, near-death,
clarified Mulder's feelings towards her - now Scully
finds herself in the same situation when Mulder is
affected by the retrovirus. If she can save him, will
things then go back to normal?

TIMESPAN/SPOILER WARNING: Set during and after "End
Game". This story was written long before my recent
"Candles of Ice" and is completely separate to it. (I
only managed to keep Candles as deep friendship because I
knew I had this one lurking. <G>)

Disregard the meds that Scully ordered in the ER in End
Game. We couldn't make them fit this scenario.

DEDICATION: To Debbie Goldstein, my editor (and pretty
much co-writer after all the research she did for this
story). In my writing I am Mulder, always rushing in,
doing what I want without thinking of the consequences.
Scully/Debbie steps in and points out a few facts.
"Ahhh..." I say. "So...what can *we* do about it?" Thank
you for everything.

Deep thanks to Ainon and Suzanne Bickerstaffe too.
Author's notes at the end.

DISCLAIMER: The X-Files and the characters of Mulder and
Scully belong to Chris Carter, Ten Thirteen Productions
and Fox Broadcasting, and are used without permission. No
copyright infringement is intended, no profit will be

The X-Files: "Redrawing The Line" (1/7)
by Ten, posted May 1998

She slapped the shock paddles to his chest.

/Come on, Mulder!/

His body jerked.

The monitor kept giving a Valkyrie scream. Flatline.

Again she tried.


/*Live*, Mulder!/

The field medic was saying something, but she didn't
care. She reapplied the paddles. Once. Twice.

The medic grabbed her arm, and she struck him away.

Again with the defibrillator. The brief zap of life was
not holding. He slipped back.

Desperate to sustain him, she continued pressing down,
sending a constant charge through.

It wasn't going to work.

Someone was coming towards them. Not dressed in scrubs.
It was Samantha. Or the woman who had claimed to be
Samantha. Her eyes were dead.

"He's coming with me."

"No! Leave him alone!"

"He traded me for you. Now we're both dead."

PRESENT, 1995:

Scully sat up, choking on a cry. Her sofa, her apartment.
/But was he...was he...?/

Had she made up his survival? Spun out all the details as
thoroughly as a case report?

She threw the blanket away and stumbled urgently into her
bedroom. "Mulder?"

He was there. But he was lying so still. "Mulder?"

Death pale. "Mulder!"

Unresponding. "No, please don't have..."

Frantically she pushed blankets down and T-shirt up and
placed a hand to his chest.


Rising and falling.

Encasing a beating heart.

She cried. He was so exhausted he didn't stir. She cried
as her hands touched his cheeks and ran through his hair
and confirmed his living presence.

Scully went around the other side and climbed into bed,
snuggling against him. Her head rested against the crook
of his neck, arm over his stomach. Gradually her
breathing and heart slowed...


Special Agent Fox Mulder was raced off the iceflow into
the ER at Eisenhower Field as little more than frozen
meat. Barely enough in the way of vital signs to qualify
him as living. His core temperature was 86 degrees...

Hypothermia was naturally diagnosed.

The ER staff tried gradual warming while waiting for the
tub of water to reach the correct temperature, all the
while watching his wavering heartbeat.

He seemed to be improving, responding. His temperature
rose, but he was still in danger, heartbeat weak. When
the time was right, they put him in the tub to complete
the treatment. On an IV and catheter. But they didn't
know they were awakening the retrovirus. Mulder

That was when Scully came to the rescue. Not on a white
charger, but wielding the charging pads of the
defibrillator. She cut through anyone in the way of her
helping him. She did not need a sword. Only she could
bring him back. It was not just vanity - she was the one
aware they were dealing with the retrovirus. Dana watched
as they pumped oxygen into him, with one person doing CPR
until the defib was ready.

She heard the CPR crack ribs on both sides, but it was a
necessary evil, one more injury to tally up. She applied
the charging pads.

He lived. But he was in a coma, and the retrovirus was
still inside him. Scully knew it was a horrible
adversary. An immortal one. That fact didn't stop her
from letting loose a stream of orders about his care.

The doctor was astounded. "This patient is not even

"He's going to make it." Dana ran a hand tenderly through
Mulder's hair as she watched the staff carrying out her
orders. What she could see of his face around the mask
was a mess. His body was badly bruised - newer bruises
than from his "run-in" with the car days ago - and an
ankle badly sprained. His left shoulder was dislocated,
the forearm sprained, and his wrist was severely abraded
from where the recon team said they removed one cuff of a
pair of handcuffs.

/And let's not forget the cracked ribs. The man gets hit
by a car and walks away, but the CPR gets him.../

Those injuries were the least of her worries now, as was
possible hypothermia and frostbite. The fact he was in a
coma and breathing so weakly that the staff were putting
him on a respirator was nothing. She had to lower his
temperature before his blood thickened any more.

Doctor Olsen was still lost as they worked with that aim.
But he had realised Scully knew what she was talking
about when a nurse reported that the blood sample they
took when Mulder was first admitted to the ER went "thick
and weird" when it warmed to room temperature at about
the same time as he flatlined.

Dana tried to explain again. "I've seen the effects of
this virus on another agent. His corpse is being studied
at Maryland USAMRIID. I've been kept up to date with
their findings. The blood is not infectious, but it would
be best to take precautions. The other agent, Weiss, had
polycythaemia, and I do mean *massive* red blood cell
production - it was hard to believe it myself. Either a
clot or clump of red blood cells caused his death. It was
hard to tell in the autopsy due to his blood being
curdled like jelly. We got to Mulder before his blood
thickened that much, otherwise nothing would have saved

"But you've ordered transfusions. That isn't the
treatment for polycythaemia."

"I know standard treatment includes draining off the
blood and replacing it with diluting fluids, and we will
do that, but we're dealing with this retrovirus. When
it's dormant I want to clear as much of it as I can out
of him via transfusions." He was gaping at her and she
got angry. "I'm trying to save him! I wouldn't do
anything to deliberately hurt my partner!"

"May I also point out that the transfused blood will
rapidly mix with the contaminated blood and the
overabundance of red blood cells, making the transfusions

"I'm hoping to buy him enough time right now to get him
cooled so the virus can go dormant, and then so the anti-
viral agents can work, or so he has a chance to hopefully
produce antigens."

"Antigens for this retrovirus? Is that possible?"

"I don't know," she admitted. She thought about Purity
Control - Mulder's other exposure. "But I won't give up
on it happening." All through this exchange she was
helping the staff and touching her partner, making sure
she did not get in the way of any procedures. "Stay with
me, Mulder." She threw a glance at Olsen. "And the anti-
viral agents might help."

"You can't use drugs meant for one virus or retrovirus
for another."

"We have to try. There *are no drugs* for this
retrovirus. From what I've studied of Weiss's condition,
the meds I've requested are the closest and best chance."

Olsen opened his mouth to argue again and appeared to
change his mind at her determined glare. He sighed. "Any
idea what he handcuffed himself to? Looks like it took
him for quite a ride..."

Scully sat beside her partner, dressed in a thick coat to
hold off the cold. The jellied blood sample had alarmed
everyone, so he was in a private room. She watched his
face, but it was so easy for her gaze to be drawn to the
respirator, the monitor readouts which showed he was in a
coma, still very close to dying. Flatlining had been just
as causative of the coma as the retrovirus. The burns
which had clued her in on his exposure now taunted her
that the virus was not down for the count.

Dana swallowed and dropped her gaze. She tented her hand
over his, fingers resting lightly. Even that simple act
was upsetting - his left forearm was in a brace so it
wouldn't get jostled and so the restraint could be
fastened around it while he was on the respirator. Some
of his upper arm was swollen from his dislocated
shoulder. She couldn't hold his arm tightly. Over on his
inner right wrist was an arterial line for bloodwork, now
that the Maryland US Army Medical Research Institute of
Infectious Diseases had confirmed that Mulder's blood
shouldn't contaminate anyone, but to take the same
precautions with him as they would with any patient

She stroked his fingers. Despite the recon team's report
that he wasn't wearing gloves, frostbite had not affected
his hands. Usually his hands were so big and animated and
wonderful to watch, but not now.

A pad of legal paper sat on her lap, and Dana knew she
had to begin filling it. The base didn't have a laptop,
and there was no way she would take the risk around all
this equipment anyway. So she would organise her thoughts
here and tap it into one of the desktop computers later

"I'm here, Mulder." She carefully squeezed his fingers
and lifted her hand away to pick up her pencil. "I just
need to do some writing. But I'll be here." Doing her
report would keep her eyes off the horror of the
situation, but she still had to write about it.

**Blood testing of Agent Mulder has proven difficult,
with the blood thickening when it warms up. Through
regulation of room temperature, the staff and I have
managed to delay this long enough to determine that
Mulder did indeed have polycythaemia with the retrovirus
as causative agent, leading to a clump of red blood cells
blocking off a small vein in his lungs. This affected his
respiration, causing respiratory arrest leading to
cardiac arrest.

There is no permanent damage from the Pulmonary Embolus,
and Agent Mulder has not experienced the severe effects
of hypothermia and frostbite.

But God, Mulder, I'm so scared.

I can hear one of my lecturers saying:

"You *never* get rid of viruses. Take a look at chicken
pox - caused by a herpesvirus. Your primary infection is
chicken pox. You recover from it. All's fine. Years later
your immunity is down - the infection will flare up
again, this time known as shingles - because you never
get chicken pox twice. Viruses *never* let go of you."

So, partner, where does that leave you? The ER staff
lowered your body temperature again. Not to as severe a
temperature as 86, but down until the virus became
dormant in response. We're trying to clear it out of your
blood with transfusions and a course of anti-viral
agents, but Mulder...**

Scully blinked and read back over the few paragraphs so
far. She had unconsciously begun addressing Mulder, just
as if he were there - /He IS there, Dana! He's not going
to die, and it doesn't matter what anyone else says, or
what that damn coma scale says! Glasgow can go get.../ -
putting down the fears she was too scared to tell him or
anyone out loud.

/I can't put that in my report.../ But this was just the
rough note gathering. She realised there was nothing to
stop her from using it like a diary, providing she
removed the "irrelevant" stuff as she was typing it in.
And she needed some way of getting those thoughts out of
her head.

She put her hand over his again, to touch base. "You have
the strength of your belief, Mulder. And of mine."
/You're going to wake up fine, I promise you./

Wearily, she kept writing. She focused on the mystery of
the lack of frostbite and hypothermia to keep her mind
occupied. **One of the usual complications of these
conditions is Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation,
where clotting factors migrate out to the extremities,
where they can cause gangrene, and leaving the central
areas in danger of hemorrhaging.

So why were you spared, Mulder? Why didn't your toes drop
off? Could it be the retrovirus? It could act in the
opposite way to D.I.C. It seems to mess up the central
areas first and not have so much effect on the
extremities. Did they cancel each other out? The slightly
thickened blood and the dormant retrovirus preventing
large clots from forming, but keeping enough clotting
factors through the body to prevent haemorrhaging? The
blood can't have been too thick, otherwise your poor
heart would never have lasted that long. The blood could
still travel through your veins.

It's so hard to watch and wait over you like this. But
you did for me. I just wish there wasn't a favour to

Over the first week since his infection, Mulder remained
in a coma. The staff had dressed up in full hazmat gear
to do the surgery to install a central line IV into his
heart, going in on the right jugular vein. They kept a
close eye on his swollen shoulder, not wanting a blood
clot to be his downfall.

Scully preferred to sit on his left side, but it depended
how he was positioned every few hours. Due to his
shoulder, he was only being shifted onto his right side
or his back until it healed enough. It frustrated her
that she couldn't touch him as reassuringly as she wanted
to, and if she sat over on his right side her back was to
all the monitor readouts, and she couldn't bear that for
long periods of time. She couldn't even rest a hand on
his chest with those cracked ribs and all those bruises.

During the times that she rested her voice, she exercised
her fingers, words flowing over the paper.

**We have removed the virus from your bloodstream. You
didn't die from either the transfusions or anti-viral
agents - I would have REALLY been pissed - and survived
long enough to produce antigens. You get an A for effort,
Mulder! So that's helping your body cope.

We're going to trial you at breathing on your own soon,
since you've started fighting the vent. The first time
you did that, you set off the alarms - one part of me
thought I was losing you, the other thought you were
waking up. DON'T joke with me, partner.**

Scully swore. Her violent underline had slashed the page.

**There's nowhere I can channel this all out apart from
onto the page. Where can I go on a snowed base? I had to
rush under the shower just to cry unnoticed. Wash it all
down the plughole.

So - you're improving. But I'm still so scared.

The retrovirus is alien - in the sense that it is unknown
- but somehow it was weakened by the drugs we tried. You
may not think that's surprising, but let me enlighten
you, partner, anti-viral drugs *attack* a virus - they
can't *kill* it. Weak viruses versus the antigens may
mean the viruses will adopt a siege mentality and hide.
In your bone marrow.

God, Mulder, what if we can't get rid of it? I promised
you we would... Science will save you. I will.

We don't know the facts yet. It's probably gone. We're
running tests, and we'll have the answers soon enough.**

**I haven't spoken to you yet, Mulder. Even though I've
been sitting here for an hour now. I can't speak. Even if
I talk about the weather, my voice will betray me. You
are lying there, your coma is lighter. Your blood gases
were improved enough, so the respirator is gone - you
didn't even need it in long enough for them to consider a
tracheostomy - and I should be singing...even though I
can't carry a tune. I want to sing and cry with joy that
you will be okay.

But the viruses are still in you, Mulder. Deep in cells
of your marrow. Science has saved you. For now. But I've
failed you.**



"Redrawing the Line" (2/7)
by Ten
Disclaimer in part one

She rang Skinner. He had shown more care for her partner
than Mr & Mrs Mulder did. She informed him about the
marrow. "So what does that mean?"

"It means he will recover," Scully said. "The retrovirus
is no longer attacking him."

"But if it's still in him, is there a chance -?"

She put her voice into a neutral tone. "By all signs and
of what we know of 'usual' viruses, he should eventually
regain consciousness and return to normal... Until such a
time as his immunity drops or the retrovirus has
successfully replicated itself to such vast numbers that
Mulder's immune system can't fight back any longer. Then
he'll fall sick again, only this time it would be much
worse. And the symptoms would probably be different, so
we may not even realise until..."

She ended that conversation in a hurry as the full
severity of the situation hit her. She hurried to the
church to pray.

She sat, business-like, at Mulder's side. She had lowered
the side rail, a gesture now as familiar as turning on
her office computer. Scully went to note on the top right
hand corner of the page the number of days since
infection. She paused. Eight? Ten?

She realised she didn't really measure the passing of
time by minutes and hours any more. Hands going around a
clockface were insignificant. But the gradual improvement
in the monitoring readouts, the whittling down of the
tubes and machinery, that was tangible.

And the only numbers that meant anything to her now were
his improving Glasgow scale.

Dana sighed softly, lowering the pencil and her
demeanour, gazing at his face. She let herself think down
paths she had stayed away from while busying herself with
his care.

/So this was what it was like for you when I was found...
An unknown toxin in the system, doctors at a loss,
patient not expected to survive. Seeing your partner pale
and motionless, smothered in wires and a respirator and

At least as a doctor herself, Scully had been able to
take action. To use her knowledge of the retrovirus and
her determination to help Mulder wage the war.

He didn't have that "luxury" when he was in her shoes.
The doctor would not listen to him. Her mother was
insistent Dana's living will would be carried out.
Mulder's own signature was on the document. All he could
do was plead and rage, and try to get revenge and
answers... and in the end, thank God, he did the most
important thing - to simply be there for her.

Mulder didn't have a living will. In the first year of
their partnership when she gently tried to get him to
fill out one, he kept putting it off. Finally, after the
Boggs case, he told her if anything did happen to him, he
trusted her judgement as his doctor on his chances of
survival and recovery. Any decisions would be hers to
make, otherwise she could contact his parents. "I know
you'll weigh up the evidence very carefully and make the
right choice. Never regret it. Never think I'd hate you
for it."

When he said that, she was able to talk Mulder into
designating her as his primary on his Medical Power of

Now she was so glad there was no living will blocking
her, or a flimsy verbal comment, or his parents with a
differing opinion. She would have fought tooth and nail
if so. She was the one who stood between him and death.

/Weigh up the evidence carefully, right? Logically. Well,
Mulder, you didn't realise my decisions have been more
emotional than anything. Otherwise I'd have accepted
defeat and told them to let you go. In that way I'm a
believer. I'm not giving up on you./

"I'm here. You're not ready to go yet, Mulder. I guess
you're not ready to come back either, but please make it

The personnel here - doctors downward - were all in awe
of her. They had stopped attempting to argue with her
insistences and demands.

Whispers in the hallway: "If she was mine, I'd sure fight
my way back too!"

"They're FBI partners. And partners in much more, for

"Did you see the way she took on Olsen? Now he just hands
her the chart and asks what she wants."

In the mess hall the soldiers, the staff, everyone, all
kept asking how Mulder was. They offered to take her to
the tiny bowling alley as part of their Friday night
group, just to get a break. "They'll ring immediately if
anything happens."

She thanked them and declined.

The second week ended. The retroviruses in his marrow
didn't respond, awaken or reproduce in normal
temperatures. They remained dormant.

And Mulder didn't respond or awaken either. His coma was
getting lighter - as the days added up there was more
response to painful stimuli, and he made some movements.
But that was all. For Scully, tears down the shower drain
became a daily event. The female staff seemed aware of
this and tried to stay out of there at those times, which
of course wasn't always possible, but they made sure Dana
knew they were there for support if needed.

She wanted to be alone to mourn her loneliness. Just her
and water. The heating bill would be bigger than the
defence budget.

**What can I do, Mulder? I'd go in there myself and hunt
down each one if I could. You'd like that. I'd be like
Ripley, or from that movie where the scientists are
shrunk down to fit into the bloodstream...

I'm trying to work out what to say to you about the
retrovirus when you wake up... It's still in you and
could rear its "heads" again one day. *Could*. Should I
tell you? You'll be so weak and to add more stress... I
remember how I felt when I was told how long I'd been
missing. But it's your body and you have a right to know.
I so much wanted to be able to have you wake up and for
me to say: "You're fine" and MEAN it.

Please come back. Even when you were shot, you weren't in
critical condition for this long. I feel lost. Do I feel
that half of me has gone? That's the talk of poets. What
does my rational side say?

It tells me that before you I had a very full, fulfilling
life, where I got through med school and into the FBI and
into teaching, perfectly happy. Very good at my work. I
felt complete and I was.

So when and how did you become such a big piece of my
jigsaw puzzle? Because things change. I still enjoy
teaching, but when the X-Files were closed down it wasn't
the same. Life does expand to include new friends, new
interests, new beliefs...and changes to

Seventeen days in, the miracle happened. Dana was
summoned to the phone.

"Hello, Agent Scully. This is Chief Medical Officer Fred

Scully knew Calero - he worked at the USAMRIID which held
Agent Weiss' body for study. They were probably itching
to autopsy Mulder too. /No - Calero has helped me. His
experimenting with the cell cultures led to the discovery
that the cold knocks out the virus. And he has been
supportive in these last two weeks, trying whatever I've

"That dormant virus sample you saw - the one we've kept
cold - something happened to it."

"It was stolen?"

"No. An assistant put it under the scope a few days ago
for a routine check and noticed it was breaking down. She
made a note of it, but didn't tell me. I checked it today
and the dormant virus *is* dying and breaking down into
harmless waste that a body could remove by itself. It
could even disappear completely."

"Oh God... Could it be the consistent cold, or that the
virus wasn't getting its requirements met by being in the
marrow...?" She had a mad impulse to rush Mulder out into
the snow, but decided to wait and see.

Two days later, the same thing showed up in tests on
Mulder. The retrovirus was disappearing without harming
him further.

**It's true, Mulder. We took a bone marrow aspirate to
check for sure - I'm glad you were out for that - and
there was no trace. No trace!

The only theory I can come up with was that this virus
had reached the end of its lifespan. From research on
Weiss and you, it seems the virus is short-term, able to
kill its host within half an hour of exposure. But you
being stuck out on the ice had delayed that MO, made it
dormant. Apparently it could not exist in that state
indefinitely. And perhaps your first exposure with Purity
Control had helped.

Right now, I really don't care about the facts of the
matter. All I want is for you to wake up so I can tell
you the good news.

But can I hide from you what I've realised?**

Scully stopped and put down the pen. She wasn't ready to
explore it in her thoughts yet - what she had written a
few days ago had been enough of a shock. But the feelings
were there, in her blood more permanently than any
retrovirus, and made her heart pound.

He remained comatose.

**Come ON, Mulder. The virus has completely vanished.
What's keeping you? I guess you deserve a rest, but at
least give me a few seconds, huh? Then you can sleep for
another day.

They removed the a-line today. I can't believe it. I
thought they'd be forever sucking blood out of you to
monitor your condition. But the virus IS GONE!!!! I know
I keep repeating that, but let's face it, that is
something worth saying over and over.

Science and Weiss's death saved you. Show some gratitude,
Sunshine! WAKE UP!!

Well, let's do an injury catalogue, shall we? Your wrist
and forearm are healed, thanks to you being out of it and
totally resting your arm during that time. Wish I'd known
that after you were shot on the dock. The Corticosteriods
you were on to decrease the inflammation and swelling
from the retrovirus probably helped too. Same with your
ankle - that and your shoulder are nearly better. Your
ribs still need time - several more weeks.

And don't roll over onto your front left side. We took
the bone marrow fluid sample from your iliac crest. More
swelling. You've probably upped Corticosteroids shares...

We're doing our best to prevent contractures at your
joints - the Range of Motion exercises are helping your
arms, but its been harder with your ankles. I don't want
your feet contracting into the ballet-dancer-up-on-point
position. Could put a serious crimp in your basketball.
And I can't picture you in high heels. Oh, for a pair of
those old fashioned, high-topped tennis shoes! They'd be
perfect support for you. But finding them in a D.C. mall
now would be hard enough, let alone here... We've
improvised with splints and when you're on your back we
put you down in the bed so the soles of your feet are
against the footboard.

We got the Physical Therapist to show your team specific
exercises and positions to put you in - I'm the one doing
them the most for you because the staff aren't doing it
to my satisfaction. They rush through or do it
incorrectly. I nearly snapped at Sandra yesterday - she
could have hurt your shoulder by moving your arm like
that! But I guess I've got the time to kill every few
hours. They don't.

I'm not going to keep doing those exercises when you wake
up. Hey, is that why you're still asleep? Anything to
have my hands all over you, huh?

The pain-mongers are back. Sandra and Olsen with their
damn tests. Yes, you're withdrawing from it. You moan.
Nothing new.

Why don't you open your eyes and ask what the hell
they're doing? Tell them to stop in as many swear words
as you want - it'll be music to my ears.

But you lie there and take the pain. As usual. Am I
madder at them or you?

I wish pain didn't hurt. I wish love -

They leave after baking in my glare. At least I've been
in charge of the non-painful stimuli, though *I* feel it
when you don't respond.

The tape recorder is now playing Abba. "Mama Mia".
Actually, I'm not sure if you'd consider that non-painful
or not. I like them. I'll see if "Jailhouse Rock" stirs
anything in you. I think I've gone through every tape
that comes through this place. Anything I can remember
from our car trips - anything that got a caustic comment
or caused your fingers to tap on the wheel.

How long has it been since I sat in a car?

If the Beatles bring you out of it, I'll bless them
forever. I was so sure that recording of the ringing cell
phone would work. Your hand did twitch towards your
"pocket" but that was all. I'll try it again soon.

Smell stimuli came close. Dabbing my perfume on my
fingers and holding them under your nose produced a sniff
from that big but perfect-for-your-face nose. I got a
sniff! Inform the President! But I want the jackpot -
your eyes. I'll prise the damn things open and shine one
of our high wattage flashlights down there soon. I'm

Oh - I haven't finished about the perfume. I dabbed some
on the pillow and ten minutes later your head turned that
way, putting your face against it. I refuse to believe
that was a coincidence. When one of the Corpsmen lent me
his aftershave - your brand - I actually grinned when
repeating the tests had no effect. Don't tell me that my
smell holds some power over you?

God, I'm getting delusional.

We've tried familiar cooking smells...but even freshly
baked choc chip cookies aren't cutting it. The kitchen is
getting sick of me. "We can't get those ingredients."
"Why NOT?"

Familiar voices. Mine is nearly worn out - that's why I'm
writing so much, letting the Beach Boys wash over us. I
feel guilty, because I don't think I've been putting 100%
effort into the stimuli before the last few days. Why?
Ask me, Mulder. Open your eyes and ASK ME!!

I guess because, deep down, I haven't wanted you to wake
up before you were virus-free...

I'm still sitting on your left as much as I can. Force of
habit. At least I can hold your arm properly now. You are
going to HAVE to tell me about that handcuff, partner.**

Scully sighed. She was running out of things to write,
which was dangerous, because it gave her more time to

/Three weeks.../

Three weeks of wearing a severely limited range of
clothes, because packing was the last thing on her mind
when she rushed after him. Washing them in a sink until a
nurse gently reminded her about the coin-op washers.
Getting brief snatches of frozen air. Sleeping in a cot
up against the wall in his room most of the time, even
though Olsen gave her a bed in the nurses' quarters. She
kept updating Skinner and asking for it to be passed on
to his family (who seemed terribly indifferent, perhaps
because of the loss of their daughter a second time. If
it *was* their daughter...), and exchanging brief but
heartening talks with her mother.

Mulder had willingly risked his sister for her. She
couldn't believe that. Samantha was the person he cared
more for than any one else in the world.

"Why did you do it?" she whispered, to no response.

Was he lost, unable to get her to hear? Fragmented
memories of her abduction came back to her - a mantra:
/Mulder will find me, Mulder will come... Where are you?/

Did he *want* to come back? After all the blows this case
had dealt him, did he have the desire? Did he believe the
woman they lost really was Samantha? Scully thought of
the way the body corroded before her eyes - some strange
chemical reaction.

Could she risk her sister, Melissa, in a similar stand-

Scully talked about childhood memories and read out loud
from the newspapers and books the base possessed or the
nurses kindly loaned from their own collections, hoping
to fill in the silence for them both in the times she
needed a break from the music. She had heard people
talking while in her coma and remembered how it comforted
her. She hoped the same for him. His coma was very light
now. He responded to pain by shifting away from it and
was moving independently, if not yet in response to
commands. Sometimes he would mumble words she couldn't
understand. She studied his face so many times her gaze
threatened to wear grooves on his skin. The burns around
his eyes, nose and mouth were no longer visible.

Since Mulder only needed intermittent meds now and no
anti-virals, the central line IV had been capped off into
a heparin lock. Then the Nasogastric feeding tube became
clogged beyond fixing, and the decision was made to leave
it out for a few hours. Usually NG tubes caused
irritation after a period of time and a switch would be
made to a PEG tube, but no signs of trouble had appeared
on Mulder and Dana wasn't going to waste that luck. At
the moment his face was unspoilt and she could almost
pretend he was just asleep. At times she had felt the NG
tube was the final thread binding him to the dark.

Its removal had set Olsen off again about doing the
surgery to insert a PEG tube directly into his stomach
instead, but Scully thought that would be worse,
especially when there was no apparent need. Did Mulder
really need *another* scar? Bad enough about the IV. The
central line had been necessary though. She shuddered to
think of the state his arms would have been in after so
long on a normal IV. Having to move it around all the
time when the sites got blocked... And they'd have to
reopen it to give him fluids if she didn't make up her
mind about the tubes soon.

"You're going to make it, Mulder. You have to. Come on,
before they put the tube back in. Or one that's more
*permanent*." She stroked his forehead and ran a hand
through his hair, through that rather short, spiky cut
she disliked, but would uncomplaining live with for the
rest of their lives if he would just...

The nurse came in. "Nothing?"

"No, not yet."

"It's time for his bath."

"Okay, I'll be in the mess hall. Send someone to get me,

Hopefully the bath would bring him out of it.

No change. Damn, his head was turned away - they knew she
sat on his left, the *chair* was there for God's sake!

/Dana - Range of Motion exercises, remember? Otherwise
he'll be as stiff as a board... Calm down!/

Talk about stressed. How could she forget that? Or he
could have moved on his own. This was getting to be too
much. Three weeks...

/He didn't know where you were for *three months*./

/No, and neither do I./

There was no energy to move the chair to the other side
of the bed. She prayed over him in the silence, clutching
his arm. /Please, God. Just a little bit further. He's
almost home. Please give him back to me. I miss him. I
need him. I.../

"Mmmm..." Mulder's eyes were open - his arm moved under
her fingers.

They'd won. They'd won!



"Redrawing the Line" (3/7)
by Ten
Disclaimer in part one

Her Mulder was back, hoarsely joking about freezer burn,
then more seriously saying his faith was reaffirmed.
Relief filled her. She wanted to run a hand through his
just-brushed hair, push it back off his forehead.
However, the intimate gestures and deep talks she had
bestowed on him under the shadow of the axe now seemed
dangerous things to repeat in the light. After all, they
were already falling back into their normal roles. Why
risk reaching for the moon again when she had just
received one miracle?

"What day is it?"

She told him.

"Three weeks? Skinner'll kill me. *You'll* kill me..."

She smiled, but with eyes rapidly filling with tears.
Fortunately his eyes closed again and he went back to
sleep before he noticed - or so she hoped.

She swallowed the tears - a trick only she could manage -
and slipped out to tell the doctor the good news. All the
staff were ecstatic, cheering.

One nurse laughed and clapped her hands, "At last I'll be
able to see if his eyes are just as gorgeous as the rest
- " She coloured and hastily busied herself with a handy
piece of paperwork.

As Scully went back down the hallway, she heard another
nurse scold: "Jennie! For Goodness sake - you *know* he's
already taken!"

/Oh yes, the entire nursing pool have probably drawn
straws over who gets to 'attend' to him and turn on the

Then she realised that may not have been what they meant.

She wanted to sleep, knew she had to, but was too keyed
up, and went back to his bedside. Olsen came in.

"I'll put him on painkillers for his ribs and hip. I'll
run more tests when he's awake, but it looks like he's
avoided Urinary Tract Infection and pneumonia. We'll
start him on deep breathing exercises - or as deep as he
can go before the ribs play up - and adjust the physical

Dana nodded, eyes still fixed on Mulder. "And lots of
rest. Which is usually the hardest to enforce, but I have
a feeling this time will be different."

"Well, we don't need to put the feeding tube back in, or
restart the IV. For the moment. We'll see how he goes
with eating." Olsen paused. "You said he seemed alert
enough, that he knew you and could hold a conversation.
Did he seem to have any trouble with his eyes?"

Scully stopped herself from biting her lip. "No, he
focused on me without apparent difficulty. He was closing
his eyes a lot, but that was due to tiredness. He wasn't
squinting or struggling."

"You were only three feet away. When he's awake and alert
enough, probably tomorrow, I'll determine whether he can
see distances and read."

She nodded. It was a possibility which worried her. What
if Mulder couldn't see well enough to shoot? What if
there was some damage from the cold or the coma or the
retrovirus that prevented his reinstatement to the

Mulder reawoke two hours later. He cut her off when she
began to explain about the virus and his remaining
injuries and instead asked her about the submarine and
the man he had pursued.

"Still no trace."

"When can we get out of here? I've got to talk to my
contacts - find out..." He trailed off at her look.

"Mulder, you are not going *anywhere* for a while. You
nearly died!"

His face got the pouty annoyed look. "I've spent three
weeks recovering."

/I don't *believe* this man!/ "You were exposed to the
retrovirus, Mulder, the same thing that killed Agent
Weiss! I'm hoping you can tell me how, but one thing I do
know, if you weren't such a lucky little FBI agent and
been in such cold temperatures at the time, we'd have
buried you by now! Its progress gets hindered by the
cold; that was the only thing that saved you." Her voice
was in danger of breaking up. "Mulder, do you know just
how close you came...? It's going to take a while to get
back on your feet. You need to take some time."

"I've lost too much time already."

Both blinked, realising their role-reversal.

Mulder swallowed and attempted to steer the conversation
off the thin ice. "I think it happened when I shot the
Pilot. Green blood, Scully. I'm sure I saw green blood
and it didn't slow him down. And a second after I got him
my face began to burn...just like in the attic with
Doctor Secare."

She stayed quiet, remembering the near-identical burns
around his eyes, nose and mouth in both instances.

"It felt like my system was trying to fight it, but at
the cost of killing me. Sam...the clone...she said their
blood was toxic, fatal to humans."

"This...'Pilot'," Scully considered. "He could have been
another of Doctor Berube's lab rats injected with Purity

"Why? Deep Throat told us the others were killed. Secare
was the only 'success' - the only one who could live
outside Zeus Storage." They were back to their usual

"But this Pilot could have been part of those
experiments, perhaps a new lab rat given an increased
dose. That could explain why you were so affected by his
blood. The last time, you said it knocked you out, and I
saw the burns - you were a bit wobbly for a few days, but
nothing like the condition you were in this time."

"Hypothermia didn't help. Well...apparently it did.
Anyway, I told you the Pilot is an alien, *that's* why
his blood really did a number on me. It wasn't diluted
like in Secare, a human."

Scully got *her* pouty annoyed look out. "We'll debate
that issue, and your discharge, later. Much later.
Mulder, you're wearing yourself out. You have to rest."

"You too."

She smiled. It would be her turn to drive him crazy in
recovery. Constantly eyeing him and fretting when he was
released, asking "are you okay?" every five minutes...

Another shared bond drawing them closer and closer

* * * *

Georgetown Hospital, D.C.

When Missy and Mom had left, she slept. And at a point
she was aware that Mulder had reentered the room alone.
She so much wanted to talk to him, but she was drifting,
so tired, and she just had to keep doing so while she
enjoyed the sense of his presence and the feel of his
hand gently on hers. Then later she sensed his despair.
His hand was gone and it gave her enough worried strength
to open her eyes to see him still sitting there, but
gazing sightlessly at the window, quietly crying for all
he was worth.

She managed to touch his hand, reach out with her arms,
and he collapsed, crumpling against her, pouring out in
tears all the agony of the last three months.

"I'm sorry. I tried - so - hard - but - I - I - couldn't
find you..."

"It's okay. We're both back now. Come up here."

He somehow managed to get up on the narrow hospital bed
next to her. The springs protested. He held her around
the waist, head in the crook of her arm, and they soothed
each other to sleep.

Scully woke up when a surprised and frowning nurse
entered. Dana's fighting spirit kicked in.

The nurse opened her mouth and stopped at the Look, the
finger to the lips. This frail woman was suddenly
radiating power, tightening her grip defiantly and
protectively. The nurse left without a word, returning a
few minutes later with two blankets, one to cover Mulder
with, the other to drape over Scully's arms and chest.
She made sure the IV line was uncompromised. Scully
mouthed her thanks and the nurse let them be.

* * * *

Eisenhower Field Hospital, Deadhorse, Alaska:

She got some sleep in her chair, but couldn't settle
properly. She needed a good cry, and damned if she'd have
it here. Time to visit the showers, but she felt if she
did, she'd recreate the Great Flood and go right down the
drain. She had to hold it in.

Both she and Mulder woke when the doctor came in.

"I'll leave you two alone," Scully said, deciding some
fresh air would be a Godsend. "And if he's difficult,
send for me."

Mulder watched her go, thinking of when he first opened
his eyes in this hospital. He had seen bright sunlight
through the windows, light he never expected again after
lying on that giant morgue slab of ice-flow in the
constant dark, slowly freezing.

Then he turned and found Scully - smiling so radiantly
that the sunshine was nothing. He felt warmth entering
his body just by looking at her. He knew she was there
the whole three weeks. There was no sense of time, but he
had heard her. He tried to move his hand over to hold
hers, but his body was too tired and weak to respond.

At least this time all the suffering had been on his

"Mr Mulder, you are a very lucky man. You've survived
something we're still scratching our heads over, and on
top of it, you've got a woman like that. I'm surprised
she didn't want to hang around to ensure I don't tire you

"I know." As the doctor talked to him, Mulder became
aware of two things: just how much Scully had fought to
save his life, and that the doctor thought they were
romantically involved.

"She brought you back, you know. I'm telling you, she was
sitting in this chair so long she was like some fixture.
Believed you were gonna make it, and she was going to
kill anyone who didn't believe her. Hell of a woman. If I
were you, I wouldn't let some other guy get her. Buy an
engagement ring when you're back in Washington." Olsen

Mulder considered what he was left with. He didn't have
Samantha. His parents...God only knew what they thought
of him now. The Pilot had given him hope though. That was
something. He still had himself, his faith, his work.

So in a way he had more than he ever thought he deserved.
The hope alone wasn't enough to lead him back or see him
through recovery. It was his partner.

The doctor was gone and Mulder was asleep again by the
time she got back. The chart showed that a nurse had fed
him and he'd kept it down. Scully sat there for a long
time, and then the tears began to fall, silent and heavy.
She closed her eyes and wrapped her arms around herself.

There was a tap on her knee. She sniffled and opened her
eyes to find Mulder reaching out for her with both arms,
trying to sit up.


She slid forward into his embrace and sobbed anew.

"I'm sorry," he whispered. "I'm sorry for leaving you.
For putting you through this..."

"Just hold me, please."

He tugged at her, the painkillers and worry making him
forget his injuries, but unable to find the strength to
pull her completely onto the bed, so she moved up, the
springs creaking and groaning. She shifted over carefully
to his "good" right side so she could lay down without
affecting the bad spots and the catheter paraphernalia.
Dana tried to be careful of his strapped ribs, but she
needed to be close to him, she needed to be able to touch
him, even if he couldn't easily return it.

Her head rested at his shoulder, not touching the hep
lock. Their locked gaze had more weight than any hold.

"You've been so strong for me," he said.

She lay on her side, her left hand holding his right, and
in answer her other hand went to his chest to feel the

He looked at her hand. So deceptively small. But it had
saved him. And now it held his heart. "The doc said you
started it again. I'm not surprised."

"When you flatlined, my heart stopped too."

His left hand found her heartbeat. "Thanks for saving us
both." His voice was getting sleepy. "You are my faith to
keep looking..." He gently kissed her forehead. Then what
they saw in each other's eyes brought their lips together
for a few precious moments. Strengthened, holding, they
then drifted into the best sleep either had experienced
for many long weeks.

Later the nurse came in and surveyed the scene. Smiling,
she checked the IV, fetched some blankets to cover
Scully, then left the couple alone.

They slept through all checks and a doctor taking a
polaroid... They woke late in the morning and lay staring
at each other. Scully touched his face. "You need a
shave," she said as an excuse.

Mulder grinned. "Thank God I slept through the burns
healing - last time I could feel each individual hair
follicle coming up through those burns. It itched!" He
touched her chin. "You don't need one - no whiskers." He
traced her lips, then stroked her hair.

She didn't move away. It was nice to see his fingers
alive again. Nice to feel too. His fingers caught a group
of strands and held them out, toying. Studying the

Scully went crosseyed watching him and hoped he was *not*
looking for different coloured roots. A nurse came in.
Scully scrambled off him like a teenager caught necking
in her bedroom.

Mulder wondered if he could feign another coma to make
himself the innocent party in this incident.

The nurse, Jennie, having heard the 'sleeping
arrangement' from her fellows, merely smiled. "Well, Mr
Mulder, you seem to be progressing nicely..."

When Scully's blush died down, she realised she didn't
feel that ashamed. She just hoped she hadn't jabbed her
partner in the ribs on her way up. Where Mulder had
traced her lips it felt like he'd applied lava lipstick.

Mulder realised he could recognise Jennie from her voice.
He swallowed his meds like a martyr and then fidgeted
through a shave. /I hate this - that's one thing I want
to do myself./ He noticed the heparin lock as Jennie
checked it. "Hey - what's that? That's not a normal IV!
What gives?" He hated IV's at the best of times. He
hadn't even noticed he was adorned with one until now,
because it wasn't on his hand or forearm, it was way up
on his neck, and he'd been too tired and distracted. Had
they thought if they placed it up there, he wouldn't
realise and complain?

"Central line IV, Mulder," Scully said. "You had to have
one directly into your heart. It was clear you were going
to be out for a while, and needing one for a while more,
so an internal jugular was easier than making a mess of
the rest of your arms every time we had to move the site
when it got blocked."

"I'm awake now. You can remove it."

"Not yet, Mulder." He whimpered pitifully. She carried
on. "Not until you're out of the woods. At the moment
you're still in the outer treeline. You're still weak."

"I'll have you know I'm a manly man in the full bloom of
my manhood."

She rolled her eyes. Thank God the NG tube had been
temporarily removed in the hours before he woke. If he
had woken up with that in... And what would his reaction
have been if he found himself wearing tennis shoes in

To halt his complaints, Scully fed Mulder his
breakfast/lunch. He was like a big sick kid. Though he
did insist he was capable of feeding himself. So she let
him try with dessert.

"It's jello," she said apologetically.

"I love it," he deadpanned back. "That's why I keep
getting myself injured and hospitalised, so I can be fed
it every day. The plain old stuff at home just doesn't
taste the same."

Scully wrinkled her nose. "You're sick!"

Keeping his arm up proved too much, and he ended up
giving his navel a spoonful of jello. Probably a
deliberate attempt to ditch the unappetising fare, but he
let Dana take over again without further comment.

She didn't want him feeling embarrassed. "Mulder - this
isn't about weakness. This is being sensible." He gave
her a strange look, but said nothing.

She remembered her Mom's words: "When I had to take care
of your Dad when he was sick, I used to get bowled over
by the rush of love I would feel." Nightingale syndrome?
If that was true, then she was in a *lot* of trouble with

/No, I was in trouble long before that. This time just
helped me clarify what I feel for him./ She held up a
glass to give him a drink.

"Cranberry juice..." He groaned.

"Do you *really* want a UTI? Now come on, we've got to
finish this - you've got deep breathing exercises
scheduled, and I want Mick to see how much hot air you're
capable of. He won't believe me. And we'd better do - I
mean, get Raelene to do - some ROM with you."

The corners of his mouth quirked up. "Computers, Scully?"

"Range of Motion exercises."

"Can't we skip those?"

"Yes, when you're able to skip by yourself. At the moment
you can't even turn over or move much on your own. We
have to build up to that manly bloom again."

After some exercises, they were alone again. Scully knew
Mulder was puzzled because she'd kept correcting the
nurse about the ROM. Would he comment?

Instead Mulder asked quietly, "My parents...?"

She struggled to work out what he wanted to hear and how
to balance it with the truth. "Um, they're being kept
informed about your progress. Alaska is a long way.
They've been very -"

"Indifferent. Don't worry; it's their way."

She looked at his calm face and tried to judge how hurt
he was. "People of their generation can find it hard to
express their feelings."

"They don't really have feelings to express... It's
okay." At the moment he'd been placed on his side again
and felt a strong urge to curl up in a little foetal
ball. /Thanks for your support, Mom and Dad. As sterling
as ever. At least I have no illusions about what to
expect from you two. It's always been the drive to find
Sam that got me through times like this in the past.
Beforehand. Before Scully, do you realise that I felt I
had no one who cared if I lived or died? Now you've got
her feeling guilty for something which isn't her fault.
Enough of this. Focus. Get back on track. Can't just lie
here moping./ "The big question is: when can I be cleared
for active duty again?"

She could tell by the hint of fear in his eyes that he
was really asking not 'when', but 'if'. "They still have
to run tests, but there doesn't seem to be any permanent

"Great." /Pity I can't dance with joy./ "Before - did you
say Eisenhower Field...?"

"Yep. We're in Deadhorse, Alaska."

Mulder felt very, very guilty. They were almost at the
northern tip of the state, north of the 70-degree
latitude line, and 10 miles from Prudhoe Bay, where the
Alaska oil pipeline originated. /Waitaminute!/

"Prudhoe Bay... Airport!" He could see their way home. He
could picture them on the plane. He could feel his good
old couch beneath him -

"Not yet, partner."

"Scullee..." he pleaded.

"Your basal temp was 86 degrees, Mulder. Your *core*
temperature! People die before they hit that. Or lose
fingers and toes and possibly even part of their feet."

He scrunched his face up at that.

She sighed, annoyed. She was being extremely serious and
Mulder was pulling faces at her... She didn't know
whether to order restraints or laugh or deck him.

But her words had given him a scare, and the contortions
were not in fun. "I'm trying to count fingers and

"All there. I'll do a round of 'this little piggy went to
market' with you to prove it."

He gave a grin more wolfish than foxy, then got confused.
"But hypothermia...frostbite... I was on the ice for..."

"Somehow, despite all your exposure, it was only mild. I
think the retrovirus had something to do with it. I know
that sounds bizarre, because a virus that thickens the
blood is just as likely to cause you to lose your toes
because they tend to have the poorest circulation
anyway." She knew she was sounding very textbookish about
it, but putting his case into cold technical terms
distanced it from the alive man before her. She was
worried her voice would shake if she wasn't careful. "But
somehow it preserved your body even as it tried to kill

"The least it could do for me..."

She didn't go into any more detail; instead she picked up
his left hand and showed it to him. Then she held up each
finger in turn, counting. The urge came to her to slip
her mouth over one finger to kiss and suck... This time
her head overruled her heart. Or her lust. She tried not
to drop his hand like a hot brick.


On to Redrawing the Line(2/2)