September 30, 1996

Disclaimer: This story is based on the characters and situations
created by Chris Carter, the Fox Network and Ten Thirteen
Productions. As such, the characters named are the property of
those entities and are used without permission, although no
copyright infringements are intended. The following work is for
the distribution and entertainment of EMXC members only. Any
further distribution of this work without the author's consent is
in violation of federal law.

Classification: T, A.

Summary: Mulder and Scully have been abducted after Mulder has a
very serious 'accident.' UST and angst, of course! Rated PG-13.

Dedicated to Danielle Culverson, who helped me out when I found
myself blocked in the middle of this. And placing blame where it
is deserved, she's responsible for the ending. Also, this is for
Jane (Foxcub1121) who encouraged me to keep writing; OK, so she
threatened me on numerous occasions, but in a nice way.

By Gerry Hill (

Special Agent Dana Scully left the meeting at the Assistant
Director's office with relief. It had been a very long day full of
phone calls, meetings, report-writing, and research. She had
finally closed an older, year-old case, neatly fitting all the
missing pieces into the puzzle at last, but had only managed to
make a dent in three other new ones. Her partner, Special Agent
Fox Mulder, had been a big help getting the research results to her
by fax from the Navy Yard and later from the Columbia, Maryland,
site of the Grover Institute of Technology. True, he managed to
piss off the director at the institute and the entire U. S. Navy in
the process, but he got the results they needed.

As she threw some files into her briefcase and grabbed her jacket,
she found herself looking forward to the rare opportunity to just
kick back and relax with Mulder. It was a Friday night, with
neither one of them planning to do much, so Mulder had suggested
they meet at his apartment later. They hadn't seen much of each
other today, and there were some things that he had wanted to go
over with her on one of the cases.

Hopefully, it wouldn't *all* be work tonight, although Mulder could
get pretty intense when he was deep into the effort to solve an X
File. She made the vow that tonight she would try to steer the
conversation as much away from the job as possible, and even try to
make him laugh. She loved to hear his laughter, and it came much
too seldom these days. Look who's talking, she was thinking, as
she left the building and headed for his place.

She found a parking spot on the street, to her surprise; everyone
in this neighborhood must have gone somewhere else on this pleasant
Friday evening. When she reached Mulder's door and had received no
answer after a minute of intermittent knocking, she let herself in
with the extra key she carried.

"He should have beat me here," she was musing, but figured he had
been caught up in the weekend traffic on the Beltway.

She wished she had taken the time to shower and change before
coming over here, but figured to do that when she got home later.
For now, she threw her jacket over the back of a chair, removed her
gun and holster contraption, kicked off her shoes, dropped onto
Mulder's couch with a sigh, and clicked the remote control to get
some news and weather. Before a minute had passed, however, she
was lightly dozing, vaguely thinking, "No wonder Mulder sleeps here
a's so...comfortable..."

Scully heard a distant ringing and struggled to wake up. She
nearly fell off the couch when she tried to stand too quickly.
Finally locating her cel phone in her jacket, she punched the
button and said, "Scully."

There was no reply, but she could hear background noises of some
kind, and what may have been an indrawn breath.

"Hello? Mulder?" A feeling of dread washed over her as a deadly
certainty hit; the person on the other end of the line was Mulder,
and he was definitely not all right.

Suddenly Mulder's husky voice filled her ear and made her shiver.

"Scully," he sighed. A terrible need seemed to permeate his use of
her name.

"I'm here, Mulder. What's wrong?" She was so afraid of the

There was a pause, then, "Accident. A big rig went ass
over...teakettle, right in front of me." He faded a little toward
the end.

"Oh, God. Are you in the car now, Mulder?"


"Yes, I'm here," she quickly said, her heart tripping fast in her
chest. "I'm here," she reassured him again.

"Can't feel..legs. Jammed under engine, I think. Lots of blood
under me...on the ceiling."
She drew a quick breath involuntarily at those words, and she could
sense the struggle he was making to stay coherent and to hold onto
the sound of her voice. "Oh, Mulder," she mourned to herself,
tears springing into her eyes.

"Where are you located, I'm coming there." She was slipping her
shoes onto her feet as she spoke.

"No. No, please stay with me, Scully. They're working... on
getting me out. Don't leave me." His voice grew rougher on the
last words.

She gripped the phone tightly and said, "OK, Mulder, I'll stay
here." Her eyes had been staring unseeing and out of focus at the
television, but something registered, and she quickly paid
attention to the news broadcast currently running.

"This live coverage is coming to you from the scene of a horrible
twelve vehicle accident on the Beltway near the junction with
Highway 50. As you can see from our Skyway helicopter's camera,
that semi lying across the freeway on it's side is actually lying
on top of some of the cars in the wreckage, while others are
scattered around for a hundred feet in both directions." The view
from the overhead camera gave Scully a mind-numbing picture of
Mulder's location. "Apparently, the semi swerved without warning
in the north-bound lanes, flipped over the median, and smashed into
cars southbound on the freeway. It's a miracle that more cars
weren't involved at this time of day."

"Mulder. They have your accident scene on the news right now. I
can see what happened."

He gave a weak, "Huh, cameras. And me with no comb."

Scully smiled at the rotten attempt at humor, but it was lopsided
and was more in the nature of affection than amusement.

The view switched to a ground shot of frantic activity around the
wreckage. "Rescue workers have pulled several survivors to safety,
afraid that gasoline will ignite and cause more fatalities.
Several brave firemen are attempting to cut one man free of his
metal prison, believing him to still be alive in his twisted and
broken car. Fire Chief Ray Hill has graciously agreed to explain."

A middle-aged man in a Fire Department uniform, looking harassed
but trying to be patient, appeared on the screen. He said, "We've
gotten nearly everyone out and had no fires, thank God. This one
man we're working on now is in that overturned car there, partially
crushed under the semi." He waved toward the wreck site and the
camera dutifully panned that way, focusing on Mulder's horribly
smashed car. Firemen had a shield up and were working quickly on
reaching Mulder.

Scully was trembling at the story the pictures revealed of Mulder's
predicament. How could he be alive in something that mangled?

"Mulder. Can you still hear me? They almost have you out. I can
see them torching and prying the metal free."

No response; only the distant echo of the sound she was hearing on
the television.

A heavy fear descended on her heart. "Mulder," she shouted.
"Don't leave me! Please!"

Again, silence.

"Fox," she whispered. "Stay with me."

A rough sound like a throat clearing came to her ears. Then a
sigh, and "I'm not going... anywhere, Scully."

She knew he had lost a lot of blood and that he was in shock. If
only they could reach him faster, but she was aware that time was
running out for him, even if he had no other injuries to worry

The television news anchor had been speaking about the car having
government license plates, saying that it was currently in use by
the FBI. "So it appears that there may be an FBI agent trapped in
that wreckage. We'll try to learn more, and get back to this
unfolding drama after this."

A whisper in her ear caused her to strain to catch the meaning of
the faint sounds she was hearing. It sounded like her name. Dana.

"What, Fox? I'm listening," she said gently.

"Sorry...distress you. Shouldn't have called, but..." he faded

"Oh, Mulder." Her tone spoke volumes. She wanted to be there for
him right now, even if it had to be over the phone. She wanted to
cradle his head in her lap and tell him everything was going to be
all right. She wanted to trade places with him, more than anything

"What happened to 'Fox'?" he managed to joke. "It's 'Mulder' when
you get...peeved at me again." Then she heard a loud gasp and some
metal screeching. He cried out then, and she could hear several
voices in the background in what sounded like an argument.

"Mulder! What's going on? Talk to me!"

Sounding like he was in a lot of pain, Mulder grated, "They've
shifted...some of the car...that's been trapping my legs." He
stopped for a moment, then said, "They're afraid...afraid the whole
thing will come down on me if they keep...moving it."

Scully was petrified, afraid to breathe, as though she were lying
there with Mulder in that death-trap, where just a twitch could
bring down a ton of jagged and torn metal to seal his fate.

"Scully," he whispered. "Where are you?"

She took a long, deep breath and softly answered, "I'm not going
anywhere, either, Mulder. Just hang on, you hear me?"

"Tell the car." She could hear an alarming screech from
the wreckage again, and winced.

An agonized sound came over the receiver then. It seemed to well
up from Mulder's chest and gradually move up his throat until it
reached her ears and clutched her heart. The pain in that cry made
fresh tears spring to her eyes, and she knew that his torment was
nearly unbearable. He would have held anything less inside, so
that she wouldn't worry about him. She knew how his mind worked,
at least where it concerned keeping her from anything bad or

"Oh, Mulder. It can't be much longer. Please hold on for me. I
know it hurts, but you'll be out of there soon. Can you see what
the rescue workers are doing now?" She was surprised that she
could talk so calmly to him, given the state of her emotions.

There was no response from her partner.

"Mulder?" Still no answer, but she refused to panic. The pain and
blood loss may have caused unconsciousness. Then she made a
startled sound when a loud grinding and crashing noise reverberated
through the phone.

"Mulder!!" she screamed. "Mulder!! My God, Mulder!!" She was so
terror-stricken that the worst had happened, that she didn't
register the other sounds at first.

Someone - not Mulder - was saying, "Hello?" into the receiver, she
suddenly realized.

"Yes, I'm here," was all she could manage.

"Hang on a second." Scully could hear the phone clunk against
something as it was put down, then all she heard were those
damnably unidentifiable sounds that drove her mad with uncertainty
and fear.

The female voice from before spoke up again with "Hello?"

Scully took a deep breath and asked, "Is he alive?" Her voice
quavered despite her efforts to sound steady.
"Uh, well, he's lost a lot of blood from a head wound and gashes on
his legs, and it looks like fractures of both legs and an arm, and
maybe ribs. He's still breathing. Is this his wife?"

She felt an insane urge to laugh, but answered, "No, I'm his
partner, Special Agent Dana Scully, FBI. What's happening - please
tell me!"

"Well, they've started an IV and are preparing to stabilize his
legs before getting him into the Life Flight helicopter. They're
working as fast as they can. The Chief has contacted Agent
Mulder's supervisor at the FBI already."

Scully got a little more information out of her, such as vital
signs and to which hospital they would take him, then let her get
back to her job.

Scully grabbed her jacket and gun and flew out the door.

Hospital, 4th floor, ICU

The muted beeps and hissings of the equipment in the cubicle filled
the large man with despair as he wondered what good any of it was
doing. He looked down at Agent Mulder, who was connected to
several Ivs, a heart monitor, respirator, and God knew what else.
He was encased in a cage-like contraption so that his spinal column
could not be moved. AD Skinner looked up as someone pushed the
curtain aside and entered.

"What are you doing here?" Skinner harshly demanded, when he saw
that the visitor was the mysterious person Mulder referred to as
"Cancerman" and his personal favorite, "Black-Lunged Son of a
Bitch." He knew that Mulder would not appreciate having a visit
from this man.

"Just wanted to see how our boy is doing," was the reply.

"He's not 'our' boy," Skinner said with the contempt clear in his

Cancerman smiled enigmatically.

"Anyway, you had better get out of here before Agent Scully
arrives. She'll be here any minute and may shoot you on sight,"
Skinner warned.

"I doubt that seriously. Besides, the traffic today is simply
terrible. If she were to be in a hurry to get here and isn't
attentive while driving, she could, heaven forbid, get into an
accident, too. And it might be much worse than Agent Mulder's

Skinner's eyes narrowed, then noticed a commotion from the bed.
Mulder's eyes were open and wild-looking, and he was making some
noise, but was prevented from speaking by the respirator running
down his throat. He gagged, and some of the machines were
beginning to register interesting readings. A monitor started
emitting a steady beeping sound, and the nurse in charge suddenly
moved into the room and chased the two men out.

They emerged to see Scully enter the open area, looking frantically
for the right cubicle. She froze when she saw Skinner and his

Skinner quickly walked up to Scully and said, "He was just
leaving," and looked meaningfully at the unwanted visitor. With a
sarcastic wave, he surprised Skinner by actually taking his leave
in silence.

Skinner touched Scully's shoulder and guided her toward Mulder's
room, saying, "There's a nurse in there right now. Mulder had a
bad reaction on seeing our 'friend' in here." He waited outside
while Scully moved the curtain slightly and slipped through it.

The nurse had her hands full. Mulder was still gagging and
fighting the respirator, his monitors showed his heart beat rate
was dangerously rapid, and the oxygen saturation level in his
system was too low.

Scully stepped up to the bed and said in a low voice, "I'm a
doctor. Let me help." The nurse looked startled, then said, "Try
to keep him from dislodging the respirator with those convulsions.
I'll get something into his IV to calm him down. Be right back."

Scully leaned over Mulder so that she was in his line of vision.
His eyes were wide, dilated, and terrified. She kept speaking to
him in low and steady tones, and his eyes gradually focused on her.
Tears welled up when he realized who she was. And he gagged again
on the respirator.

"Sshh," she said. "Try to relax. I know it's horrible having that
down your throat, but you need it right now. I'm here, Mulder, and
I won't let them do anything to you that isn't absolutely

She could see that he wasn't fighting quite so hard against the
tube, but his eyes were fiercely locked onto hers.

The nurse came back in through the curtains with a hypodermic and
proceeded to inject its contents into the IV. "You seem to have
calmed him down a little bit," she commented. Finished with the
injection, she said, "I'll be right outside," and exited once more.

Scully picked his unresponsive hand up and held it, silently trying
to convey some of her own strength to Mulder. He was calming even
more, now. She expected that the drug was taking effect. He had
completely accepted the respirator and was letting it do its job.
His eyelids were slowly closing, and soon he was asleep.

Before leaving the cubicle, Scully checked all the monitors, his IV
connections, the IV bags, the catheter and output, and his visible
wounds. Then she stopped at the nurse's station right outside the
cubicle. Scully went over his complete medical record from when he
had been treated at the scene of the accident until the present
time. Her face grew pale as she realized the likely prognosis, and
she was trembling as she turned away, thanking the nurse absently.

Skinner was still waiting, she saw, and she walked slowly up to
him. His expression was grim as he said, "I just spoke with the
doctor. It's not good."

Scully nodded, already pretty sure what was coming.

Skinner took a breath and continued, "They'll be operating on him
soon to fix some internal damage like broken ribs. His chest had
been compressed against the steering wheel briefly when the air bag
failed to open. They have already set the broken legs and arm.
The head wound will be OK; it bled a lot, though. The bad part
is...something with a hard edge slammed into his back either during
the accident or when they were trying to rescue him, damaging his
spine. The *best* that can happen is...he won't be able to walk

Even expecting it, Scully felt a shock on hearing the words spoken
aloud, somehow making Mulder's fate real. She felt Skinner's hand
on her arm as he led her over to a chair. She gratefully sank into
it and Skinner took the seat next to her.

Scully suddenly pinned him with her eyes and asked, "What was that
smoking bastard doing here?"

Skinner just shrugged. "Gloating, I suppose."

"He did this." Her voice held no doubts.

Skinner said nothing; he knew that she knew there was no proof to
be had.

They sat in silence for a while, each with their own thoughts.

Then Skinner asked if she would be OK if he left for a few hours so
he could deal with the authorities and FBI paperwork on this

She nodded.

"I'll check with you later to see how he's doing. And how you're

They both looked in on Mulder again before Skinner left, but he was
still asleep and nothing else had changed.

Scully tried to get comfortable in a chair next to Mulder, but the
nurse was in and out and Scully was in her way. Finally she put
two chairs together right outside his cubicle where she was out of
the flow of traffic, yet close enough to hear any sounds he or his
monitors might make. She curled up and tried to rest, but her
thoughts were racing, mostly with the unbearable thoughts of what
Mulder was going to have to endure, on top of everything else he
had already gone through.

She gradually became aware of a presence in the periphery of her
vision, and turned her head to see the black man known only as X
standing and watching her. She met his eyes and waited to see what
he wanted.

After a moment he pulled a chair next to hers and sat down.

"Agent Scully. I have a way to heal Agent Mulder's spine from the
trauma it received."

She stared at him, then said, "That's bullshit. I've seen the x-
rays, the MRI results, all the tests' conclusions. The kind of
injury his spine sustained cannot be mended."

X shook his head. "You don't understand. The very DNA experiments
that you and your partner so abhor could now save his life. You
realize that he will not survive long if paralyzed and unable to
pursue his quests?"

She swallowed, feeling her throat go dry, and asked, "What do you

"Your medical science will be outdated soon, and replaced with what
has been discovered from DNA testing performed on aliens and
humans. Spinal regeneration is just the tip of the iceberg. We're
looking at organ rejuvenation, genetic immunity to the aging
process...wonderful things."

Scully whispered, "Abductees were tested and experimented on for

He nodded.

"*I* was abducted and experimented on for this?" her voice shook.


She sat silent for some time.

He had to lean closer to hear the next murmured question.

"Tell me what you would do."

"If you would trust me enough with your partner, I can have him
moved to a hidden location, have the tests done, subject his spine
and broken limbs and ribs to the experimental treatment, and return
him here. Afterwards he would have no memory of what occurred. If
all goes well, he can be back on his feet, good as new, in a week
or less. Otherwise..." he gestured toward the cubicle wherein lay
an unmoving figure with a myriad of wires, tubes and equipment
surrounding him.

No sound emerged from Scully's mouth when she first attempted to
speak. She tried again, and managed to say, "The tests performed
on me while I was abducted...and God knows how many other innocent
people, probably including his own sister...You're saying that now
you want to abduct Mulder and subject him to some godawful testing
and *maybe* cure him..." Her voice was rising, and X waved his
hand in a "keep it down" gesture.

She lowered her voice and said in an incredulous tone, "And you
want me to OK this? You bastard!" She was shaking, and X
patiently waited for her to think it through.

Scully took a deep breath and said, "So it's either paralysis and
maybe death for Mulder, or have him benefit from your 'special'
therapy and have him - maybe - return to normal, after undergoing
some unspecified tests."

Her eyes pleaded with X to not force her to make such a decision.
At his unreadable expression, she closed her eyes for a moment,
then opened them to whisper, "All right. But I'm going with him.
There's *no way in hell* I'm letting you take him without me."

X sighed. "Agent Scully. If you are present under these
circumstances, I cannot guarantee protection for you. Agent Mulder
would be viewed as an opportunity to perform the experimental
therapy, but you...they would not pass up the chance to subject you
to follow-up testing."

Her face reflected the horror and fear she felt and asked, "These
are the same people...?"

X nodded, and said, "Most of them are the same. Some have been,
er, replaced."

She simply sat and let the fear wash through her body, then asked,
"If he went alone, how do I know he would ever be returned? What
if they just decide to keep him; make him disappear like his
sister? Can you guarantee he'll ever come back?"

Her anger was a thin veneer over the terror he clearly saw in her

"Nothing in this world is ever one hundred percent certain. But I
believe that I can return him, and fairly quickly. They just need
to stabilize him, treat him, then make sure everything is all right
before sending him back. Two or three days, at most. And besides,
your presence won't guarantee his return; you should realize that."

She closed her eyes and thought about the whole situation.

As though speaking to herself, she whispered, "I can't let him go

X shook his head. "All right. I'll stay with the two of you and
do my best to see that neither one of you are harmed and that you
are both safely returned as soon as possible."

She stared at him then and said coldly, "I'm not doing this because
I trust you. I'm doing it because I don't see how else to help
Mulder. And if he should ever find out what I'm doing, he would
never forgive me."

"As I said, he will have no memory of his time away from the

While X made the arrangements to transfer Mulder to another
"hospital," Scully called her mother to tell her that she would be
accompanying an injured Fox Mulder to an out-of-town facility, and
that she would be in touch with her again in several days. Then
she called Skinner from the pay phone and filled him in on the
plan. He, of course, blew his stack.

"Absolutely not, Agent Scully! Not only would I lose one agent,
but two. There is no assurance from this bunch that they're not
using this to permanently get rid of you They probably engineered
Mulder's accident."

"But why would they practically kill him and then want to heal

"I doubt they *will* heal him. They'll just finish him off, which
the accident failed to do. And you would be a bonus. They could
do more testing, then get rid of you, too.

"But what if they *can* heal him? I have to go." Skinner heard
the dial tone in his ear and realized that she had hung up on him.

It had been a week now, and Skinner had heard nothing from his two
missing agents. He had discreetly contacted several sources, but
not a ripple marred the smooth surface of the silence concerning
their fates. And then a two-word message "Mercy Hospital" was
passed to him on the phone Saturday morning as he ate breakfast at
his home.

He abandoned his meal, threw on a jacket, and headed for the
Annapolis area.

Mercy Hospital was relatively small and it's sturdy brick structure
had stood at the top of a grassy hill overlooking the Severn River
since the turn of the century. When it had been built in 1903,
there had been no other structure within five miles. Now, it stood
amidst a sea of buildings, roads and people, still distinctive and
impressive in its perch on the hillside. Skinner drove up the
paved one-way road to the parking area and wasted no time in
entering the building.

The middle-aged woman at the counter wore a name tag with "Terri
Baxter" on it. Her brown eyes were alert when she looked up at
Skinner's hurried entrance.

He flashed his ID and asked about two FBI agents admitted earlier
that morning, and he gave their descriptions.

The woman knew immediately who he meant, and said, "There wasn't
any identification on them, but, yes, a man and a woman were found
lying unconscious on gurneys in the emergency entrance at 2AM.
None of the staff saw who left them there. We notified the police,
but they haven't shown up yet. Just you."

"No one is to be allowed near them, including the police. When
they show up, let me know and I'll speak with them. This is a
federal matter." His authoritative tone convinced Ms. Baxter.

"Where are they?" Skinner asked. "I need to see them immediately,
and I want to see the doctor who is treating them, right away."

Ms. Baxter responded like a recruit to her sergeant. "Yes, sir."
She made a quick call, then told Skinner, "Third floor, rooms 302
and 304. Dr. Nomura will meet you there."
He was already opening the stairwell door before she finished

When he burst onto the third floor corridor, he startled a nurse
who had been walking past the door. He said, "302 and 304?" She
pointed to his right.

He reached 302 first and looked in. Mulder was asleep or
unconscious, but looked surprisingly well for someone having gone
through so much recently. At some point he had been given a shave
and his hair had been washed and combed. There were no tubes, IVs
or machines hooked up to him, nor were there any casts on his legs
or on his arm. Skinner noted rapid eye movement under his eyelids,
and twitches of the hands. The cut on his scalp was healing well.

The occupant of the room next door, however, was a different story.
Scully was also unconscious, but there the resemblance to Mulder's
condition ended. She had restraints over her wrists and ankles.
Her hair was tangled, and traces of tears remained on her face.
There was an IV in her arm and Skinner assumed that the restraints
were there to prevent her from dislodging the needle.

Puzzled, he turned to find the doctor standing in the hall behind

Dr. Sumi Nomura," she said, holding her hand out to him.

He shook the small woman's slender hand and said, "Walter Skinner,
Assistant Director, FBI." He showed his ID to her, which she
inspected with interest before returning it.

"Dr. Nomura, I need to know the condition of my two agents, Dana
Scully and Fox Mulder."

"We didn't know their names. Do they have family?"

"Yes. I'll provide all that information to you, but I really need
to know their conditions right now."

"Of course. I usually release that information only to immediate
family, but, under the circumstances..." She began with their
arrival at the hospital. "When they were discovered in the
emergency area, an envelope which held X-ray and MRI results was
found lying on the gurney with the man - Agent Mulder. These
records showed a fractured spine, legs and arm, and broken ribs.
When we took our own pictures, those fractures and breaks were not
there, although the legs indicated what could have been old breaks;
you could barely make out the faint marks. At first, we thought
the envelope held medical information on someone else, then
realized that it had to be the same man. But there is no way such
an injury to the spinal cord could have been repaired and returned
to normal function. Nonetheless, it had been healed, completely.
Both agents had needle marks on their arms and, in the case of
Agent Mulder, also on his back and legs. He is still unconscious,
but has shown signs of coming out of it."

"And Dana Scully?"

"The woman has been screaming and striking out with her arms and
hands, but has not really regained full consciousness. She does
not appear to have any physical injuries other than the needle
marks. Several of those marks were from IVs, by the way, on both
the agents' arms. We were forced to keep her sedated and under
restraint, at least until we can determine if the problem is mental
or physical. We've taken an MRI of her brain and are analyzing
urine and blood samples."

Skinner was wondering how much more these two could take - - how
much more *he* could take?

There was a sound from the bed behind him, and he turned to see
Scully frantically working against her restraints, attempting to
get free. There was a drugged look about her face, but mostly it
showed the fear and panic building up to an unbearable level. Then
she was screaming, "Mulder!" at ear-breaking decibels, over and
over. It gave Skinner goose bumps to hear her calling to her
partner in such an agonized way.

He and Dr. Nomura quickly moved to Scully's bedside and tried to
calm her down. But Skinner saw that she didn't recognize him and
was still lost in a panic that could injure her if she kept
struggling and flailing around.

Suddenly, Skinner was aware of another presence in the room. A
tall figure who ignored the air conditioned aspects of his hospital
gown moved unsteadily to Scully's bedside, ripped the velcro
restraints from her wrists and ankles, then gathered her small body
to his chest.

She hit out at him a few times as he kept whispering, "Shh. It's
all right. I'm here. You're safe now. Shhh."

She finally sagged against him, sobbing brokenly. Mulder kept
murmuring reassurances to Scully and she finally drifted off to
sleep again, still under the influence of the sedatives.

Skinner could see that Mulder was not too steady on his feet yet
and moved to get a chair for him. Mulder let his partner slide
back to lie against her pillow, and then he collapsed gratefully
into the chair Skinner had provided next to the bed.

Dr. Nomura checked the IV connection on Scully's arm and spared a
concerned glance at a very pale Mulder while she was at it.

Mulder suddenly looked up at Skinner and said, "Last thing I
remember is the wreck; then hazily something about being paralyzed
and never walking again. Then I wake up and I'm able to move
around, but Scully is in a bad way. You couldn't help me out here
and tell me what the hell is going on, could you, sir?" This last
was delivered in a fairly sarcastic tone, mixed with confusion and

Skinner looked meaningfully at the doctor, who very sensibly said,
"Well, I'll just go see about those tests and be back in a few
minutes." She discreetly left the room and Skinner grabbed a chair
for himself near Mulder.

"I think that Agent Scully wanted to keep you in the dark on this
one, Mulder. If you knew what measures she took to restore you to
health, she was afraid you would hate and/or blame her for it. You
were paralyzed from the waist down, and maybe even more
extensively, with no hope of ever regaining mobility."

Mulder processed that thought, then made his own leap to a
conclusion based on what little he knew.

"Was it the man I know as 'X'? He set this up?"


Mulder leaned back in his chair, eyes closed, paler than ever.
Skinner kept silent while Mulder thought about it.

"How long?" finally was whispered.

"A week."

His eyes opened and he lowered his head to look at Skinner. "Only
a week to repair all my injuries?"

"Evidently so."

Mulder's eyes tracked over to Scully and he said bitterly, "They
subjected her to tests again, didn't they? Bastards! Why was she
taken, too?" His dark eyes looked accusingly at Skinner.

"She insisted on it. She wouldn't let them take you if she weren't
along to protect you and make sure that you were returned. Alive."

Elbows on knees, Mulder put his head in his hands. When he sat
back again, his eyes were moist.

"She must have known there would have been no way she
could have helped me once they had their filthy hands on her."

"I imagine that she would never have been able to live with herself
if she had agreed to let them take you and then something went
wrong. Going with you, maybe she figured that at least whatever
happened to you would be her fate, also."

Mulder sat very still, then said, "The unspeakable things they've
done to abductees...I've benefitted from that. It's how they
healed me." He turned his eyes full of pain to Skinner and said,
"Why? Did they think to put me in their debt? Am I some sort of
pawn in their damned *game*? They don't do someone a favor unless
they get ten favors in return."

Skinner had no answer, nor any comfort to offer.

"I have to see about short-stopping the police. They were called
after you two showed up here. Then I'll go get you some clothes to
wear. Meantime, why don't you try to get some rest? You have a
way to go before you're completely well. Do you want me to call
your mother when I call Scully's?"

"Did she know about my car wreck and injuries?"

"Yes. It was covered by television quite thoroughly, and the
hospital called her. When you 'left' the hospital last week, I
talked with her, but she seemed to know something was going on, and
didn't plan to come down. I had the distinct feeling that she knew
more than I did."

Mulder just said, "I'll call her." Then he raised his eyebrow and
asked, "Where are we, anyway?"

Skinner smiled. "This is Mercy Hospital near Annapolis. It's as
good a place as any for you to get back to normal."

Mulder looked at Scully and shook his head. "You know that she's
had a very difficult time facing the fact of her first abduction:
The loss of control, the implant, and not knowing what they did to
her. This experience will have reinforced those fears and may have
hurt her psychologically on several levels."

Skinner got up and put his hand on Mulder's shoulder for a moment,
then turned to go. "I'll call later to see how she's doing."

Mulder just sat slumped in the chair, watching Scully sleep, after
Skinner left.

When Dr. Nomura re-entered the room a few minutes later, she tried
not to startle him, and tapped at the doorframe first. When he
looked up, he saw that she was holding a clipboard and she asked,
"Do you want to hear the test results for the both of you?"

She saw some apprehension in his expression, but he said, "Yes,

Dr. Nomura sat in the chair vacated by Skinner and began scanning
the reports. "Some of the sedatives in her bloodstream were
administered here at the hospital; some were not. In addition,
Agent Scully is exhibiting unusual hormone levels and enzymes which
are contributing to her hysteria; we are trying to correct that.
Also, her white blood cell count is higher than it should be, and
we are working to correct that, also. But most disturbing of all,
there are some elements in her blood which we have been unable so
far to identify. They resemble the normal make-up of blood, but at
the cellular level, some of the pairings are more than abnormal;
they are completely unknown to us. We are attempting to identify
this element, but so far have had no luck."

She looked at Mulder, and added, "This unknown factor is present at
even greater levels in your blood. It could be that this greater
concentration has something to do with the unexplained healing of
your spine and other bone fractures and breaks. Once in the test
tube, however, this unknown element begins to degrade, until it is
essentially waste."

"Sounds like an X File," he murmured.


"Nothing. Were there any metallic...implants found on the X-rays?
They would be anywhere, but most likely at the base of the neck or
in the sinus cavities."

Although puzzled by the question, Dr. Nomura replied, "No, not that
I recall. I'll double-check later, but I'm fairly certain there
was nothing like that found." She noted that he seemed greatly

Dr. Nomura continued. "The doctor who initially examined you and
your partner noted that Agent Scully had signs of vaginal invasion,
with bruising and scratching, so he checked for rape -"

Mulder became very still and rigid, his eyes like lasers on the
doctor, making her hesitate before continuing. "He concluded that
a medical procedure had taken place, although for what, he could
not determine. It wouldn't have been noticed had the procedure not
been so rough or amateurish. Other than the unusual blood readings
and her mental state, she appears to be completely healthy."

Dr. Nomura was becoming concerned when Mulder sat with his eyes
closed, face carved in stone, for several minutes.

When he opened his eyes, they held such an eternity of pain and
sorrow that she felt like crying for him. He asked with a husky
voice, "Does she know any of the details you've just told me?"

Dr. Nomura could only shrug. Then she found her voice. "I doubt
it very much, because, during the time she has been here, she has
either been unconscious or hysterical."

"Dr. Nomura, I'm a psychologist as well as her partner. It's my
belief that if such information were revealed to her, it could
cause a great deal of damage. She already has had to cope with too
much and that might prevent her recovery indefinitely." His voice
broke on the last words, but his eyes pleaded with her.

She cleared her throat, and said, "The information will be in her
records. If she later requests to see them, that will be up to
her. However, we won't volunteer this information at this time,
since I agree with you; it could be detrimental to her mental

She reached out and lay her hand on his arm. "Now please come back
to your room and lie down. You need to continue your own

He took a last look at Scully, who was still sleeping, and allowed
himself to be led back to his room.

As the doctor turned to leave, he asked, "Please, don't restrain
her. It just reminds her of...please, don't hold her against her
will. I'll go to her if she gets unmanageable again."

Dr. Nomura nodded and left him to try to get some rest.

A few hours later, when both agents were sleeping restlessly, a
black man in a suit and dark trenchcoat stood in the doorway to
Mulder's room. He finally approached the bed and quietly said,
"Agent Mulder."

Mulder was immediately awake, as he had been dozing, keeping his
ears alert for any distress from Scully's direction. He stared at
Mr. X and finally stated, "You knew she would go with me."

X sat down and asked "Do you want to hear about what happened?"

In answer, Mulder hit the control that moved his bed into a sitting

X waited until he was sitting up, then said, "You were meant to die
in that accident, Agent Mulder."

Mulder leaned his head back onto the pillow and said wearily,
"Sorry to disappoint you guys."

"I did not set up that scenario. In any event, when you survived,
the interested parties saw their opportunity to get you both into
their testing facility willingly. I was to be their intermediary -
I had no other choice. However, I *did* have the power to
accompany you to make sure they didn't become too - creative."

Mulder just listened, his face expressionless.

"The procedure appeared to go well on you, but it took a little
longer than anticipated. It was, by the way, a complete success."

"And Scully?" Mulder rasped. "What the hell did you bastards do to
her again?!"

X sighed. "She was, I believe, resigned to some testing in order
to save you. Her determination was, however, shattered when we
actually began.

X paused. "She lost it when two of the doctors took her into the
main testing room to get some blood samples. She may have
remembered the facility from her previous abduction and suddenly
could not face it. It's difficult to say. She reacted badly to
every test process, no matter how minor or painless it was."

Mulder grated, "Don't you have any human feelings left, you son of
a bitch?"

For some reason, that seemed to hit home with X and he grew angry.

"You have no right to say that! If it weren't for me, you would
have been dead half a dozen times."

Mulder interrupted him with, "Cut the crap. You *use* me, you
*use* Scully, for your own ends, and not for some altruistic 'save
the world' bullshit! It's for your own ends and your cohorts'

X shrugged. "Believe as you will, then." He got up and walked to
the door.

Mulder's voice made him pause.

"What did they do to her? Did they harvest an egg? Are they
playing God with her reproductive system? That's obscene, to do
that to Scully, to let her imagine all kinds of horrors."

X turned and Mulder caught a flash of surprise in his expression
before it disappeared. "Probably just some more DNA

Mulder was infuriated by the disinterest and casualness X displayed
for such a terrible concept, and growled in his throat as he
struggled out of bed, intent on damaging X when he reached him.

But X had no intention of letting that happen. He sarcastically
waved a hand in the air and disappeared down the hall before Mulder
could even clear the bed.

Scully dreamed. Somehow, the horror of what she saw was dulled
through the gauzy veil of sleep, and she could look fully on her
nightmare. It still hurt, but she could bear it.

She saw Mulder lying nude, face down on an examining table, in some
sort of molded body form, with IV-type needles and tubes attached
to his back and legs and arm. Several doctors were monitoring and
checking readings on the machines surrounding her unconscious
partner. Then she was on her own table being strapped down, being
reassured, the panic building in her at the awful helplessness,
knowing that Mulder couldn't come to her rescue, no one could
assist her. Then the pain began in her abdomen as they probed and
did things to her deep inside. The feeling of grief and violation
were overwhelming, and even eclipsed the pain. More needles were
inserted in her arm. Bright lights washed out the details of her
surroundings. It was just like before...

She snapped awake all of a sudden, and saw that she was alone in
the hospital room, with an IV still in her arm. She removed it and
found some gauze and tape on a tray nearby. Working methodically
and concentrating as hard as she could, she managed to get a small
bandage over the tiny wound in her arm.

She had a hazy memory of Mulder holding and soothing her at some
time in the past, but was not sure that it had been real. She had
to know that he was all right. Scully ruthlessly blocked the tears
for what had been done to her, and she concentrated on finding

As she peered out into the hall, she saw no one in either
direction, but she caught the movement of the stairwell door
closing. Someone must have just left that way.

She turned right and found Mulder immediately. He was sitting on
the edge of his bed, his bare feet on the floor, and his head bowed
in thought. Tears blurred her vision as she realized what she was
seeing, and what it meant. His spine had somehow been healed, just
as promised. She knew that she could accept what they had done to
her, now. It was all worth it.

He was pale, she noticed, and there were frown lines on his

She stepped closer, and his eyes opened wider at seeing her.

"Scully," he exclaimed with concern. "You shouldn't be out of bed
yet. How are you feeling?"

She nestled her hand in his as she stood next to him. "Are you
sure you want the standard 'I'm fine' answer, Mulder?"

He smiled as he said, "Hope you don't mind if I stay seated,
Scully. This gown doesn't leave much to the imagination."

"It's OK, Mulder. Just think of me as your doctor." A tiny smile
tugged at the corners of her mouth.

He gave a wry grin. "Damn. I thought it was *my* turn to be the

"That's a very scary thought," she replied.

He said, "Skinner is bringing me some clothes, is calling your
mother for you, and is dealing with the local law enforcement.
He's a busy camper today."

"I had better call Mom myself and see if she can bring some clothes
for me, too."

He held her gaze and asked, "Are you ready to face the world, yet,

The use of her first name was not lost on her. Scully knew that he
was worried about her state of mind, but reassured him with the
famous, "I'm fine, Mulder." She could see that the phrase had been
over-used, and added, "Really. I've already begun dealing with it.
I may need some help later, but the initial shock has lessened."

He continued looking into her eyes, then finally said, "You know
I'm here whenever you need to talk about it."

Scully squeezed his hand and thanked him with her eyes.

"But what about you, Mulder? Are you going to be OK with what they
did to *you*?"

"No," he said honestly. "What you had to go through for my
benefit, and to know that the technology they used on me was
developed from the torture of you and who knows how many poor
innocents...No, Scully, I won't be OK with that."

Her shoulders slumped and her eyes closed, causing a tear to slide
from under one lid and trace its way down her cheek. "I knew you
would feel that way, but it was the lesser of two evils, choosing
to cure your paralysis. At least, that's how I saw it."

She felt his finger stop her tear's progress down her face, and he
brushed it away, saying, "Don't, Scully. Don't regret what you did
because of what I said. I would have made the same choice you did,
had it been you lying on that bed paralyzed. Neither choice would
have been acceptable, you know, so you made the best out of an
impossible situation."

His eyes were full of pain, and when she opened her own to look at
him, he saw that hers also held an ocean of sorrow.

"Scully..." His voice broke, and he just added, "Everything will
be fine. You'll see."

At that point a very pretty dark-haired nurse came in to take
Mulder's temperature and blood pressure. She persuaded him to lie
back in the bed again, and Scully stood to the side, waiting for
the fidgety, bad-tempered patient to emerge from Mulder. He hated
hospitals, especially the poking and handling he had to undergo
from the staff.

The nurse, Cathy Wren, was immediately aware of the emotion-filled
atmosphere and tried a diverting tactic. She tickled Mulder's
foot. That drew a yelp and a raised knee as he hastily withdrew
his foot from the danger zone.

With sparkling eyes, Nurse Wren commented, "Well, your reactions
are quite good. I'll just get your blood pressure and temperature,
and then leave you alone. I think lunch is on the way, and you
won't want to miss the salt-free soup and jello, I'm sure."

She efficiently went about her business and Scully noted that
Mulder actually allowed the procedure without a fuss. Either he
was nearly dead, or this nurse had a technique that worked with
him. In the past, every other nurse was cursing the day she/he was
born by the time they had to deal with Mulder for more than ten

Scully saw that he was in good hands, and said, "I'll see you
later; I'm going to find a phone."

"OK, but you had better pin that gown shut in back if you're going
to be marching around in it."

She gasped, grabbed the open edges and held them shut with one hand
behind her. She saw Mulder's amused expression, but the nurse
chose to ignore the whole thing, as she attempted to get an
accurate blood pressure reading. Scully walked with as much
dignity as possible out of the room.

About an hour later, Skinner and Mrs. Scully arrived almost at the
same time. Mulder and Scully welcomed the changes of clothes they
brought almost as much as the persons bringing them.

Mrs. Scully spent some time with Dana, satisfying herself that her
daughter seemed to be doing fairly well, considering her ordeal.
Mrs. Scully knew, however, that her daughter was very good at
covering up disturbing fears and injuries, and hoped that Dana
would give herself a chance to really heal, and not keep it all
bottled up inside.

Saying goodby to her daughter, Mrs. Scully stopped at her partner's
door to say hello before leaving. And caught him pulling his jeans
up and zipping them. Not particularly bashful about his body, Fox
Mulder nonetheless blushed when he saw Scully's mother in the
doorway. Mrs. Scully just smiled the heart-stopping Scully smile,
and winked at him. Scully's mom *winked* at him! Mulder was so
astonished, his mouth dropped open. She said, "When you get
better, maybe in a few days, you should pick up Dana and come over
for dinner, Fox." She waved at him, and then walked down the
corridor to the elevator.

He wandered over to Scully's room still looking a little surprised,
and found Dr. Nomura there, talking with Scully and Skinner.

"We have made no progress in identifying the unknown substance in
your bodies. There is really no reason to keep you here, since you
both seem to be in pretty good health. You can continue to rest at
home. If I discover anything that gives us a clue on this
substance, I'll certainly contact you immediately."

Skinner told his agents, "Let me know how you're doing now and
then, but don't come into the office right away. Finish recovering
physically and mentally from this. I've had a car brought for you;
it's down in the parking lot." He gave the keys and a sheet of
paper with a description of the car to Scully. Mulder looked

Skinner smiled and took his departure, leaving Mulder eyeing the
keys in Scully's hand.

She smiled innocently and dangled them from her fingers in a
tempting way, before dropping them into the pocket of her jeans.
She folded the paper up and shoved them in with the keys.

Dr. Nomura observed this interplay and decided that they would be
fine. Her report to the consortium would confirm the success of
their procedure. She was excited to be included in such a
revolutionary healing process, and hoped to actually perform it
herself one day. The only problem she had with the whole thing was
the treatment that abductees such as Dana Scully received at their
hands. Oh, well. Sometimes the end justifies the means.
Sometimes. She walked back down the hall to the elevator.


Three Days Later

Mulder had been ready to go for half an hour. Scully was late.
She had promised to pick him up promptly at 5:30 so they could
drive out to her mother's for lasagna, and it was unlike her to be
running so late. He tried her phone, but got the recording. Her
cellular didn't respond. What was going on here?

He began pacing, and saw finally that another ten minutes had
passed. He was really worried now.

Then his cel phone in his pocket rang. He pulled it out and stared
at it for a moment, feeling a prickling on the back of his neck.
When he answered, "Mulder," there was only silence for a reply.