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Taking Advantage
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Taking Advantage
                                    Author:  Waddles 52
                                    Summary:  Kersh takes advantage of Mulder and Scully 
                                    by sending them on a wild goose chase, while Mulder 
                                    wishes Scully would take advantage of him.  Dangerous 
                                    climbs and forest fires add up to another typical 
                                    outdoor adventure for our two favorite agents.
                                    Spoilers:  Maybe a tiny one for Drive
                                    Rating:  PG
                                    Category:  MT
                                    Disclaimer:  No copyright infringement intended.
                                    Archives:  Please ask.
                                    Feedback:  Much appreciated  DASWaddles52@aol.com
                                    Dedication:  To my son Chris, a hard taskmaster and 
                                    to Vickie for saving this from the shredder
                                    
                                    Southern Idaho
                                    
                                    "Would you mind telling me again what we did to make 
                                    Kersh dislike us so much?"  Mulder asked, trying to 
                                    navigate a bumpy road.
                                    
                                    "At this point I think all we have to do is draw a 
                                    breath, and what do you mean by 'we'?"  Scully 
                                    answered, bracing herself for the next bump.
                                    
                                    "Okay, what did 'I' do to piss him off?"
                                    
                                    "As I said before, just living and breathing."
                                    
                                    "Scully, what are we doing here?"  The bouncing in 
                                    the car was quickly becoming uncomfortable.  Time and 
                                    weather extremes had caused parts of the road to 
                                    disintegrate into seemingly bottomless pits.
                                    
                                    "Our assignment is to find a cache of fertilizer and 
                                    other products used in bomb-making that is thought to 
                                    be stashed on federal property."  Scully recited what 
                                    Kersh had told them.
                                    
                                    "I know that, but what are 'we' doing 'here'?"
                                    
                                    "The threat of domestic terrorism has become stronger 
                                    as each day passes.  If we can find those materials 
                                    and the people who have hidden them, we can possibly 
                                    save many lives."
                                    
                                    "Cut the Bureau rhetoric, Scully," Mulder demanded 
                                    angrily.  "This assignment stinks to high heaven, and 
                                    it's not just the fertilizer."
                                    
                                    "What do you want me to say, Mulder?  I don't like 
                                    these assignments any more than you do, but the only 
                                    way we can get the X-Files back is to do what we're 
                                    told in the best way possible."
                                    
                                    "Do you think that will be enough?" Mulder asked 
                                    while trying to dodge another huge hole in the road.
                                    
                                    "I don't know, Mulder," Scully sighed.  "At the 
                                    moment, I think it's all we can do.  You need to turn 
                                    right pretty soon.  That should take us to the ranger 
                                    station."
                                    
                                    Mulder saw the turn and maneuvered the car past 
                                    another hole.  An hour later they pulled up to the 
                                    ranger station.  It appeared to be deserted.
                                    
                                    Mulder opened his door.  "I'll go in and see if 
                                    there's anyone here."
                                    
                                    "I'm coming with you."  Scully opened her door and 
                                    followed after him.
                                    
                                    The door to the station was unlocked, so they went 
                                    in.
                                    
                                    "Hello, anyone here?" Mulder called, looking around.
                                    
                                    Scully spied a note taped to the back of the door.  
                                    She quickly read it.
                                    
                                    "Well?" Mulder queried.
                                    
                                    "There is a forest fire in a far western section of 
                                    the park and the rangers had to go there.  They won't 
                                    be back until it is under control.  They've left us a 
                                    map and some provisions which are located along the 
                                    back wall with the first-aid supplies."
                                    
                                    They made their way over to the supplies.  "I guess 
                                    these are ours."  Mulder pointed to a backpack with a 
                                    map folded on top of it.
                                    
                                    Scully was looking over the first-aid supplies.  
                                    "They're really well provisioned."
                                    
                                    "I guess they have to be considering they're so 
                                    isolated."  Mulder picked up the backpack and handed 
                                    Scully the map.  "Let's go back to the car and 
                                    combine these supplies with what we brought with us."
                                    
                                    Soon they had combined the supplies and were ready to 
                                    go.  "It looks like we walk from here." Scully said, 
                                    balancing her backpack, trying to find a comfortable 
                                    position.
                                    
                                    "How far?" Mulder inquired.
                                    
                                    "It looks like about 10 miles, but it's pretty rough 
                                    terrain for the most part.  It's going to take a 
                                    while."  Scully handed the map to Mulder.
                                    
                                    "Damn," he muttered and began folding the map.  "A 
                                    guide would have been helpful, but I guess we'll just 
                                    have to rely on your excellent navigational skills."
                                    
                                    "Since I'm navigating, I suggest we get started so we 
                                    can find a place to camp before dark."  Scully 
                                    started walking and Mulder followed.
                                    
                                    Four hours later, they had just finished setting up a 
                                    light tent and Mulder was starting a fire.  Scully 
                                    rummaged through her backpack, looking to find 
                                    something for their evening meal.
                                    
                                    "Well, Mulder, we have a nice selection of MREs, some 
                                    freeze-dried meals and peanut butter and crackers."
                                    
                                    "Just toss me one of the MREs.  I'm too tired to fix 
                                    anything."  Mulder was putting twigs on the small 
                                    fire.  When it was going to his satisfaction, he 
                                    moved back and took the MRE from Scully.
                                    
                                    He sat down, leaned against a log and opened his 
                                    meal.  Scully sat beside him and did the same.  
                                    They ate within a comfortable silence.  When they 
                                    were finished, Mulder took the packaging and tossed 
                                    it into the fire.
                                    
                                    He came back to the log and sat back down by Scully.  
                                    "I can't believe we only walked three miles today."
                                    
                                    "Well, it was pretty rough terrain.  We have to get 
                                    over that hill tomorrow, then maybe the rest of the 
                                    way will be easier."  Scully yawned.  "I think I'm 
                                    ready to call it a night.  Coming?"  She stood up and 
                                    headed for the tent.
                                    
                                    "In a minute."
                                    
                                    "Suit yourself.  Try not to wake me when you come 
                                    in."  Scully gave him a big smile.  "See you in the 
                                    morning?"
                                    
                                    "Sure."
                                    
                                    Mulder made himself a bit more comfortable and began 
                                    to mull over the facts of the case.  Soon he was 
                                    asleep in front of the fire.
                                    
                                    After a breakfast of trail mix and coffee, they set 
                                    out, ready to tackle the hill.  The ground was 
                                    steadily turning uphill and it was becoming harder to 
                                    find a good purchase.  They both stopped and looked 
                                    at their destination.
                                    
                                    It was going to be a difficult climb.  The hillside 
                                    was littered with loose rocks and a few shrubs.  
                                    There wasn't much to grab on to.
                                    
                                    "I'll go first," Mulder decided.  "That way I can 
                                    pull you up if you need help."
                                    
                                    "Thank you, Mulder.  You know, I could do the same 
                                    for you," Scully protested.
                                    
                                    "I'm sure you could, but I'm a little heavier.  It'll 
                                    be a lot easier for me to pull you up."
                                    
                                    "Okay," Scully agreed.  "Let's take this slowly.  It 
                                    doesn't look like this ground will be very forgiving 
                                    if one of us takes a fall."
                                    
                                    They had been climbing steadily for a time.  Both 
                                    were sporting various scrapes and bruises from short 
                                    slides in the loose rock.  They were approaching the 
                                    summit and both were thinking about how good it would 
                                    feel to sit down and rest.
                                    
                                    Scully's attention was turned to Mulder, who seemed 
                                    to be having a very difficult time.  He was only 
                                    about 10 feet from the top, but could not find a 
                                    handhold or foothold.  He began to slide, then quite 
                                    suddenly he rolled backwards and began to cartwheel 
                                    down the side of the hill.  Before Scully could 
                                    react, he rolled a few more times and landed in a 
                                    heap against a bush near the bottom.
                                    
                                    Mulder made no attempt to move.  The pain in his 
                                    lower back and right ankle was excruciating.  In 
                                    fact, there were few areas of his body that actually 
                                    registered no pain.
                                    
                                    In a few minutes Scully was kneeling beside him, 
                                    taking off his backpack.  "Mulder, don't try to 
                                    move."
                                    
                                    "I don't think that's going to be a problem, Scully," 
                                    he groaned and despite her admonishment, tried to sit 
                                    up.  His back screamed in agony as Scully attempted 
                                    to hold him down.
                                    
                                    "Don't move!  You may have a back injury."
                                    
                                    "I do have a back injury."  His teeth were clenched 
                                    and it was all he could do to speak coherently, the 
                                    pain was so intense.
                                    
                                    "Where is the pain located?" she inquired.
                                    
                                    "Lower back."  He squeezed his eyes shut, trying to 
                                    gain some control.
                                    
                                    "Mulder, can you hear me?"
                                    
                                    "Um, yeah."  He squinted up at her, still barely in 
                                    control.
                                    
                                    "Mulder, listen to me.  I want you to try to move 
                                    your legs, very slowly."
                                    
                                    He followed her directions.  Very slowly he moved his 
                                    legs, then the pain exploded in his lower back and 
                                    down both legs.  The control that had been hanging on 
                                    so precariously was now a distant memory as he 
                                    screamed and roared his discomfort.  He quickly 
                                    grabbed Scully's left hand and held it, squeezing it 
                                    for all he was worth until the pain became bearable 
                                    again.
                                    
                                    Scully pulled her hand from his and began to feel 
                                    along his extremities.  Silently she worked, feeling 
                                    nothing out of the ordinary until she reached his 
                                    right ankle.  Her attempt to rotate it was met with 
                                    another roar of pain, so she set about removing his 
                                    hiking boot.  After much painful pulling and tugging 
                                    it popped free, nearly causing her to lose her 
                                    balance.  The swelling was evident even through his 
                                    thick sock.  She gently removed it and saw that the 
                                    skin had already turned an ugly shade of blue and 
                                    dark purple.  Closer examination revealed a slight 
                                    click upon movement.  "At least one broken bone, and 
                                    probably some torn ligaments," she thought.
                                    
                                    She needed to do one more thing, and it wasn't going 
                                    to be easy.  She needed to examine his back.  She 
                                    carefully straightened out his legs.
                                    
                                    "Mulder, I need to roll you on your side.  Don't 
                                    move.  Let me do all of the work."
                                    
                                    He barely acknowledged her.  He had retreated to a 
                                    place in his mind that let him ignore most of the 
                                    pain coursing through his body.
                                    
                                    Scully rolled him and pulled up his shirt.  She 
                                    carefully felt the bones in his back, starting at his 
                                    neck and ending in his lumbar region.  Thankfully, 
                                    she felt no deformities.  There could still be 
                                    fractures, pinched nerves or muscle damage, but she 
                                    breathed easier after she finished.  She left him on 
                                    his side.
                                    
                                    Gradually Mulder emerged from his mental retreat.  
                                    "Well, what's the verdict, Dr. Scully?"
                                    
                                    "You have at least one broken bone in your right 
                                    ankle, and none that I could feel in your back.  You 
                                    won't be walking out of here," she summarized.
                                    
                                    "Couldn't you splint my ankle?" he asked, grimacing 
                                    at the slight movement of his legs.
                                    
                                    "Yes, and I will.  It will make you more comfortable, 
                                    but let's face it.  I don't think you can sit up, let 
                                    alone get up and try to walk.  Although I didn't feel 
                                    any broken bones in your back, I can't rule out a 
                                    serious injury without a CT scan or MRI."
                                    
                                    Scully pulled the cell phone from her jacket pocket, 
                                    hoping against hope that she would be able to get a 
                                    signal.  It was useless.  The hills and distant 
                                    mountains were blocking the signal.  She put it back 
                                    in her pocket.
                                    
                                    "Mulder, I think the best course of action would be 
                                    for me to walk back to the ranger station.  They have 
                                    a radio.  I'll call for help, and come back with some 
                                    of those first-aid supplies.  I saw some Demerol and 
                                    morphine there, along with a few other things we can 
                                    use."
                                    
                                    "Scully, I don't know.  I don't like the idea of you 
                                    being out there by yourself.  What if you get hurt, 
                                    or run across one of those terrorists that are 
                                    supposed to be around here," Mulder said 
                                    sarcastically.
                                    
                                    "I think it's rather unlikely that I'll run across 
                                    any terrorists.  This has been a wild goose chase 
                                    from the very beginning.  It's much too isolated and 
                                    the terrain too rough to get enough supplies up here 
                                    to be any great threat."
                                    
                                    "I'm glad you finally recognized Kersh's 'shit 
                                    patrol' for what it really is.  Do you think you 
                                    could help me move away from this bush?  It's really 
                                    uncomfortable." Mulder stated, trying to shift his 
                                    position.  He was stopped by the intense pain that 
                                    the slightest movement caused.
                                    
                                    "Yes, Mulder.  I had planned on setting up the tent 
                                    and trying to get you comfortable before I left.  
                                    There's a clearing that's pretty flat about 20 feet 
                                    from here.  I'll have to drag you, and maybe you can 
                                    use your good leg to help me scoot you back, but 
                                    first I want to splint that ankle."
                                    
                                    It took Scully several minutes to find two branches 
                                    that were thick enough do any good.  She brought them 
                                    back to Mulder.  "I'm going to need something to tie 
                                    this on."
                                    
                                    "I've got a t-shirt in my pack," Mulder offered.
                                    
                                    Scully rummaged through his pack and found it on the 
                                    bottom.  "This one?"
                                    
                                    Mulder carefully nodded yes.  Scully tore it into 
                                    strips, and as gently as possible splinted his ankle.
                                    
                                    "Are you ready to move?" Scully asked.
                                    
                                    "I'd rather not, but I guess I don't have a choice 
                                    unless I want to become a permanent part of this 
                                    bush."
                                    
                                    "Let's get going then."  Scully moved him to the 
                                    clearing.  Mulder helped her as much as he could and 
                                    it cost him dearly.  By the time they had reached 
                                    their goal, he was covered in sweat and was 
                                    shivering.
                                    
                                    Scully returned for their packs and wrapped Mulder in 
                                    a light blanket.  "You're going into shock.  Just 
                                    take it easy and try to warm up while I set up the 
                                    tent."
                                    
                                    Scully set up the tent beside him.  By the time she 
                                    was finished, Mulder was asleep.  She spread his 
                                    sleeping bag out inside the tent, then emptied her 
                                    backpack of everything but a handful of trail mix and 
                                    some water.  Although she was loathe to do so, she 
                                    woke her partner.
                                    
                                    "It's time to move you inside the tent."
                                    
                                    "Sorry, I must have dozed off for a minute."
                                    
                                    "That's okay.  Your body is showing you that you need 
                                    to rest.  Let's do this the same way we did it 
                                    before.  Ready?"
                                    
                                    A few tugs, and Mulder was inside.  The move caused 
                                    fresh waves of pain to wash over him.  As she tried 
                                    to get him into a more comfortable position, he bit 
                                    his bottom lip and tried to keep from crying out.  
                                    Scully had enough on her mind and he didn't want to 
                                    worry her any more by showing that the pain was still 
                                    excruciating.  Despite his efforts, the pain became 
                                    so terrible that he was forced to scream.  "Scully!  
                                    No more!  I can't stand it!"
                                    
                                    Scully lay down beside him and put her arm around his 
                                    waist.  She spoke to him soothingly.  "Shh, calm 
                                    down.  No more moving.  We're finished.  Try to slow 
                                    your breathing down.  Take slow, deep breaths.  
                                    That's it.  Slow and easy.  You're all right.  
                                    Better?"
                                    
                                    "A little.  Scully, I don't think I've ever had 
                                    anything hurt me so badly.  I'm sorry I lost it, but 
                                    the pain was so overwhelming that it just took over," 
                                    Mulder apologized.
                                    
                                    "I've heard that back injuries can cause some of the 
                                    worst pain a person can experience.  Don't be ashamed 
                                    of expressing your pain."
                                    
                                    "Thanks.  I really wish you wouldn't take off on your 
                                    own"
                                    
                                    "Mulder, you need medical treatment.  If we stay here 
                                    and wait for the rangers to return, it could be 
                                    several days before they realize that we're late 
                                    getting back.  The longer we wait, the greater the 
                                    chance of permanent injury.  I want you to be able to 
                                    walk into Kersh's office and tell him what a crock 
                                    this assignment was."
                                    
                                    Scully sat up and began to pull items from Mulder's 
                                    backpack.  She set several bottles of water, some 
                                    trail mix and an MRE within easy reach.  She found a 
                                    bottle of ibuprofen in the small first-aid kit.  She 
                                    shook a couple into her hand and grabbed a bottle of 
                                    water.
                                    
                                    "Mulder, I want you to take these.  They might help a 
                                    little."
                                    
                                    "Okay.  You'll need to help me raise up."  She did 
                                    and he swallowed them down.
                                    
                                    "I'm going to put them beside you.  You can take some 
                                    more in about six hours.  Try to eat something then.  
                                    Okay?"
                                    
                                    "I'll try," he promised.
                                    
                                    "Now, while I'm gone, rest and try to move as little 
                                    as possible.  Do you understand?  No unnecessary 
                                    movement!"  Scully emphasized her last words.
                                    
                                    "I understand.  Believe me, I'm going to stay as 
                                    quiet as possible.  I don't enjoy pain, and remember, 
                                    I want to walk into Kersh's office and tell him to  
                                    shove this 'shit patrol' up his ass sideways.  I'll 
                                    be good," Mulder assured her.
                                    
                                    "Okay.  I'm going to leave.  I probably won't be back 
                                    until after dark.  I'll move as quickly as possible, 
                                    but I will be careful.  Do you need anything else 
                                    before I leave?"
                                    
                                    "No, I think you have taken care of everything I 
                                    could possibly need."
                                    
                                    "Good."  Scully leaned over and kissed his forehead.  
                                    "See you in a few hours."
                                    
                                    It seemed like Scully had been gone for hours but it 
                                    had only been about forty-five minutes.  Thunder 
                                    began to rumble in the distance.
                                    
                                    "That's just great," Mulder griped.  "Scully's going 
                                    to get soaked.  Could anything else possibly go 
                                    wrong?"  At about that time he thought he smelled 
                                    smoke but discounted that thought when he didn't 
                                    smell it again.  Soon he was asleep.
                                    
                                    Scully had been walking for about an hour when she 
                                    began to notice the faint scent of smoke.  She 
                                    stopped and tried to determine its source.  She 
                                    slowly turned in a circle, then stopped when she saw 
                                    smoke in the distance. It was in the direction that 
                                    she had just come.  Lightning flashed on the horizon, 
                                    accompanied by a rumble of thunder.  It was then that 
                                    Scully realized that the lightning had started 
                                    another fire and it was headed for Mulder!  She 
                                    started running back to him.
                                    
                                    Mulder was awakened when he began to cough.  He 
                                    thought at first that Scully had returned and started 
                                    a campfire.  He soon realized that there was too much 
                                    smoke for a small fire.  It dawned on him that he was 
                                    in danger from an approaching fire.  He would have to 
                                    move, and fast!
                                    
                                    He made a slight motion to sit up, and the now 
                                    familiar pain exploded in his back.  If a small 
                                    movement caused that much pain, then a bigger 
                                    movement couldn't cause much more, he reasoned.  He 
                                    took a deep breath and rolled to his left side, then 
                                    quickly pushed himself into a sitting position.  The 
                                    ensuing pain nearly caused him to black out as his 
                                    vision dimmed and the blood began to roar in his 
                                    head.  He quickly shook it off.  He could pass out 
                                    later.  Now he needed to get to his feet and follow 
                                    Scully.
                                    
                                    He began to gather the supplies that Scully had 
                                    emptied from her pack.  Mulder knew he would need 
                                    water and food.  The rest would have to be left 
                                    behind.  He filled his backpack and painfully 
                                    positioned it on his back.  In one swift movement, he 
                                    shifted his weight to his right knee, holding his 
                                    injured ankle off the ground.  He pushed up with his 
                                    left leg and was soon standing on it, crouched over 
                                    in the tent.  He hopped through the opening and 
                                    looked around for something he could use to support 
                                    himself.  There wasn't anything in the immediate 
                                    vicinity but a few bushes.  He would have to head 
                                    downhill toward the trees they passed earlier.  
                                    
                                    Mulder tested his injured ankle by slowly putting his 
                                    weight on it.  He felt as if it was literally being 
                                    torn apart.  He would have to hop.
                                    
                                    He hopped a few feet and lost his balance.  He fell 
                                    to the ground and began to shiver despite the warm 
                                    temperature.  The nausea that had been present since 
                                    he was injured intensified, forcing him to turn to 
                                    his side and vomit.
                                    
                                    When the spasms in his stomach stopped, Mulder made 
                                    an attempt to move away from the mess he had made.  
                                    He scooted to the side a bit and could go no further.  
                                    An overwhelming dizziness forced him to close his 
                                    eyes.  He began to spiral downward as the dizziness 
                                    and pain claimed his consciousness.  He heard another 
                                    rumble of thunder and then was aware of nothing.
                                    
                                    
                                    Scully stumbled into the clearing where she had left 
                                    Mulder and was surprised to find him lying outside 
                                    the tent.  A few steps brought her to his side where 
                                    she collapsed, trying to catch her breath.  She 
                                    pushed herself to her knees and began shaking his 
                                    shoulders.  After a few nudges he began to rouse.
                                    
                                    "Mulder!  Mulder, wake up!" Scully screamed in his 
                                    ear.
                                    
                                    Mulder opened his eyes slowly, not yet aware of his 
                                    surroundings.
                                    
                                    "Come on, Mulder!  You can do it!  Concentrate!"
                                    
                                    "Scully?" he slurred.
                                    
                                    "Yes, Mulder it's me.  I'm back and we have to move. 
                                    Now!"
                                    
                                    She pulled at him, trying to get him up.
                                    
                                    "Can't move, Scully," Mulder moaned.
                                    
                                    "Yes, you can!"
                                    
                                    Mulder just looked at her as if she had grown two 
                                    heads.
                                    
                                    "Mulder, if you don't move we will both be crispy 
                                    critters!  Now get up!"
                                    
                                    As if to emphasize the urgency of their situation, a 
                                    gust of wind blew a heavy cloud of smoke over them.  
                                    Mulder then remembered the approaching fire and 
                                    realized that their situation was becoming desperate.
                                    
                                    "Scully, help me up!"
                                    
                                    Scully pulled him to a sitting position and he got 
                                    his good leg under him and pushed up.  Soon he was 
                                    standing, leaning heavily on Scully.
                                    
                                    "Don't know how far I can go," Mulder gasped, trying 
                                    to push the pain away.
                                    
                                    "Just lean on me partner and we'll go as far as we 
                                    have to."  With that they started their journey away 
                                    from the fire.
                                    
                                    After a few hours of stop and go travel, it became 
                                    apparent that the fire was gaining on them.  Mulder 
                                    had once again stopped, trying to catch his breath 
                                    between the dry heaves wracking his stomach.  Scully 
                                    was holding him up, breathing heavily, trying to 
                                    reach into her reserves for a bit more strength.
                                    
                                    "Scully, can't go.  Leave me," Mulder groaned as his 
                                    knees began to buckle.
                                    
                                    Scully jerked him back up.  "No way.  We're partners.  
                                    We go together or not at all."
                                    
                                    Mulder shook his head no.
                                    
                                    "Yes, Mulder.  Just take a minute to catch your 
                                    breath, then we'll start again."  Her words were 
                                    accented by a loud crash of thunder, followed closely 
                                    by a powerful flash of lightning.
                                    
                                    "Storm's about to break," Mulder panted.
                                    
                                    Scully surveyed the heavy storm clouds.  "Let's hope 
                                    those clouds are full of rain."
                                    
                                    It seemed like they were suddenly at ground zero as 
                                    the sound of thunder, then a great flash of lightning 
                                    rocked their world.  Then the heavens opened.  Scully 
                                    and Mulder looked up, the torrents of rain taking 
                                    their breath away.
                                    
                                    "Let's go partner.  Let's hope the rain lasts for a 
                                    while."  Scully began to move again, practically 
                                    dragging Mulder with her.
                                    
                                    The rain continued to fall.  Several times they 
                                    stumbled, and finally fell to the ground and rolled 
                                    down a muddy incline.  They both lay at the bottom of 
                                    the small hill, panting.  Scully turned over to face 
                                    Mulder.
                                    
                                    "Are you okay?" she asked, pushing herself to a 
                                    sitting position.
                                    
                                    "Fine and dandy.  No new injuries, though," Mulder 
                                    answered, making no effort to move.  "What about you?  
                                    Are you all right?"
                                    
                                    Scully gave her stock answer.  "I'm fine."  She 
                                    looked behind them.  Though it was difficult to see 
                                    through the driving rain, Scully was pretty sure that 
                                    the fire was no longer a threat.  She turned back to 
                                    Mulder.
                                    
                                    "I think we're pretty close to the ranger station.  
                                    It's getting dark so we need to get there and radio 
                                    for help and try to dry off."  Scully got up and 
                                    offered Mulder her hand.
                                    
                                    "You go.  Get help.  I'll be okay," Mulder said 
                                    weakly and closed his eyes.
                                    
                                    "Mulder, stay with me!" Scully ordered.  "Open your 
                                    eyes!"
                                    
                                    His eyes opened and Scully again offered her hand.  
                                    Mulder reached for it and soon they were on their way 
                                    again.
                                    
                                    Less than an hour later they broke through the trees 
                                    and saw the ranger station, its porch light 
                                    beckoning.  Scully tried to speed up as Mulder 
                                    struggled to keep up.  Ten feet from the front door 
                                    Mulder slid to the ground unconscious.  Scully bent 
                                    over, took his arms and began to drag him to the 
                                    station.
                                    
                                    
                                    
                                    Mulder felt something squeezing his right arm.  He 
                                    tried to move away from it, but a strong wave of pain 
                                    jolted through his back, making him gasp.  He opened 
                                    his eyes to find Scully at his side, taking his blood 
                                    pressure.
                                    
                                    "Welcome back, partner.  You had me pretty worried."
                                    
                                    Mulder looked around.  He was lying on a cot. They 
                                    must have made it to the ranger station, although 
                                    he didn't remember it.  He moved his left arm and 
                                    discovered that he was hooked to an IV.  He looked 
                                    back to Scully with questioning eyes.
                                    
                                    "You were in shock, causing your blood pressure to 
                                    drop.  It's still a bit low, but the IV seems to be 
                                    helping."
                                    
                                    "Did you radio for help?"  
                                    
                                    "Yes."
                                    
                                    "When are we getting out of here?"  He laid his right 
                                    arm across his eyes, shielding them from the bright 
                                    overhead light.
                                    
                                    "Not as soon as I would like," she answered.  "The 
                                    forest fire has pulled just about everyone from their 
                                    usual locations.  All of the available choppers are 
                                    there, along with most of the rescue team.  To top 
                                    that off, there is a storm front moving through.  
                                    Hopefully, they'll be able to send some people in by 
                                    late this afternoon.  They'll call for a chopper when 
                                    they arrive, and we should have you in a hospital 
                                    sometime tonight."
                                    
                                    "Sounds like a plan."  He brought his arm down from 
                                    his eyes and looked closely at Scully.  "Scully, why 
                                    are my clothes dry while you're still soaking wet?"  
                                    He could hear the rain beating heavily on the roof.
                                    
                                    "I wanted to be sure you were okay before I changed.  
                                    It seems like our clothes were left behind, so I 
                                    looked around and found some clothes, probably one of 
                                    the rangers.  They may not fit perfectly but they 
                                    appeared to be clean and most importantly they were 
                                    dry."
                                    
                                    "I'm okay, Scully.  Go ahead and change before you 
                                    catch a cold or something."
                                    
                                    "All right, Mulder."
                                    
                                    "I think I'll just close my eyes for a bit.  Let me 
                                    know when you're finished."
                                    
                                    "Sure, Mulder."  Scully smiled.  Mulder had seen her 
                                    unclothed on several occasions and she really wasn't 
                                    that shy around him.  She was quite touched that he 
                                    would be that considerate.  She quickly shed her wet 
                                    clothes and donned the ranger's rather large jeans 
                                    and flannel shirt.
                                    
                                    "You can open your eyes now."
                                    
                                    "You look a little more comfortable," Mulder 
                                    observed.  "How many times did you have to roll those 
                                    pant legs?"
                                    
                                    "About the same amount as the shirt sleeves.  I lost 
                                    count."  She checked the IV.  "While you were 
                                    unconscious I re-splinted your ankle and cleaned up 
                                    as many of your scrapes as I could.  How is the 
                                    pain?"
                                    
                                    "As long as I don't move it's pretty much bearable, 
                                    but it does throb," Mulder answered.
                                    
                                    "I think your blood pressure is stable enough to give 
                                    you a small dose of Demerol.  Would you like for me 
                                    to do that?"
                                    
                                    "I really don't want to be out of it, Scully.  I 
                                    don't like to feel like that.  Maybe a few more 
                                    ibuprofen tablets?"
                                    
                                    "No ibuprofen, Mulder.  Your stomach has been upset 
                                    anyway and they could make it worse.  I'll give you a 
                                    very small dose of Demerol.  It should make you feel 
                                    more comfortable, but you won't be totally out of 
                                    it," Scully explained.
                                    
                                    "Just a pleasant, little buzz, huh?"
                                    
                                    "Something like that."  Scully filled the syringe to 
                                    the appropriate mark and injected it into his IV.  
                                    "There, that should work pretty fast."
                                    
                                    "You wouldn't take advantage of me in my drugged 
                                    state would you?" he teased.
                                    
                                    "Never, Mulder."
                                    
                                    "Damn!  What would it take?" he continued to tease.
                                    
                                    "A strong uninjured Mulder and a nice, comfortable 
                                    place to stay."  Scully played the familiar game 
                                    along with him.
                                    
                                    "That could probably be arranged, sooner or later."
                                    
                                    "When you get it arranged, let me know."  She turned 
                                    to look through the medical supplies again.
                                    
                                    "You'll be the first to know," he replied softly.
                                    
                                    Scully turned back to him.  "I think those supplies 
                                    will be more than sufficient until we can get you to 
                                    a hospital."
                                    
                                    "Scully, why is it that every time we get sent on one 
                                    of these domestic terrorism assignments, things never 
                                    go as planned?"
                                    
                                    "I'm not sure, Mulder.  The last time you were bored 
                                    and got involved in another investigation, then wound 
                                    up having to drive all the way to the coast," she 
                                    remembered.  "This time you were completely innocent.  
                                    Just a victim of bad luck."
                                    
                                    "Yeah, that does seem to follow me around doesn't it? 
                                    He yawned.  "Scully, are you sure you gave me a small 
                                    dose?"
                                    
                                    "Yes, Mulder, I'm sure.  Why?"
                                    
                                    "I'm really feeling sleepy."
                                    
                                    "It might have something to do with the fact that 
                                    it's two in the morning, D. C. time, and the fact 
                                    that you are still weak from shock.  I think you need 
                                    to pay attention to what your body is telling you.  
                                    You need to rest."  Even as Scully was telling him 
                                    this, he was fast asleep.  She pulled the blanket up 
                                    under his chin and laid down beside him on the floor.
                                    
                                    By 5 o'clock, Scully had given up on getting any kind 
                                    of restful sleep.  It seemed like Mulder was awake 
                                    every 15 minutes or so.  He was very uncomfortable 
                                    and kept shifting slightly to find a better position.  
                                    Every movement was accompanied by a moan or a groan, 
                                    and sometimes a muffled cry of pain.  She was about 
                                    ready to give him a double dose of Demerol and hope 
                                    for the best.
                                    
                                    She finally sat up.  She stood and began to look 
                                    around the station, hoping to spot a coffee pot.  She 
                                    couldn't locate one, and resigned herself to a 
                                    morning without coffee.  She peeked outside and noted 
                                    that the rain had stopped.  At least there was that.  
                                    She briefly considered trying to get Mulder to the 
                                    car and driving out, then decided that the road was 
                                    too bumpy to torture him with.  She heard Mulder 
                                    groan and turned back to him.
                                    
                                    "Scully, what are you doing up?"
                                    
                                    "I couldn't sleep so I decided to get up and see if 
                                    the storm was over."
                                    
                                    "Is it?"
                                    
                                    "It appears to be.  Why are you awake?"
                                    
                                    "I think I finally decided to give up on sleep too.  
                                    I've decided that there is no such thing as a 
                                    comfortable position."
                                    
                                    "Maybe I could help you move a little.  Perhaps we 
                                    could find a way to make you more comfortable."
                                    
                                    "It's worth a try."
                                    
                                    With some careful maneuvering they found a position 
                                    that was fairly comfortable for Mulder.
                                    
                                    "Do you think you'll be able to stay that way for a 
                                    while?" Scully asked as she began to look through the 
                                    medical supplies.
                                    
                                    "It's the best I've felt in the past few hours.  
                                    Thanks."  He smiled up at her.
                                    
                                    "Good.  I'm going to give you some more Demerol.  
                                    Maybe that will relax you enough so that you can rest 
                                    without waking up every 15 minutes."
                                    
                                    "Only if you'll lie back down beside me.  You've got 
                                    to be tired after hauling my ass around yesterday."
                                    
                                    Scully injected the Demerol into Mulder's IV.  "That 
                                    sounds like a good idea Mulder.  I am pretty tired."
                                    
                                    She laid down facing him.
                                    
                                    "Comfy?" Mulder asked.
                                    
                                    "Yes, I am.  I think I'm too tired to even care that 
                                    I'm lying on a hard wood floor.  How about you?  Is 
                                    the Demerol starting to work?"
                                    
                                    "Yes, Dr. Scully.  I'm feeling more comfortable by 
                                    the second."  Mulder smiled as Scully closed her eyes 
                                    and began to snore softly.  He closed his eyes and 
                                    soon followed her to sleep.
                                    
                                    Several hours later, Scully was awakened when she 
                                    heard voices outside.
                                    
                                    "Special Agent Dana Scully?" called one of the 
                                    voices.
                                    
                                    Scully stuck her head out of the door and was greeted 
                                    by two men.
                                    
                                    "Agent Scully?" one of the men asked.
                                    
                                    "Yes."
                                    
                                    "You radioed that you needed some help?"
                                    
                                    "Yes.  My partner has a broken ankle and a back 
                                    injury.  He's in here.  You're here a lot earlier 
                                    than I thought you would be."  She moved aside as the 
                                    lead rescuer went inside.
                                    
                                    "Yes, ma'am.  The rains last night just about put out 
                                    the fire so we were able to start out earlier," the 
                                    other rescuer explained.
                                    
                                    Scully groaned inwardly as he called her ma'am.  
                                    Either rescue workers were getting younger or she was 
                                    getting older.  She really didn't want to consider 
                                    the latter.
                                    
                                    The first rescue worker came back outside.
                                    
                                    "Sean, you can radio the chopper now.  Be sure they 
                                    bring a backboard," he directed.
                                    
                                    "Sure thing, Smitty."  Sean stepped back and began to 
                                    contact their base.
                                    
                                    "How are you going to get him to the chopper?  There 
                                    really isn't any place to land around here." Scully 
                                    stated.
                                    
                                    "That's not a problem, ma'am.  The chopper will come 
                                    in close and lower a basket and a backboard.  We'll 
                                    put your partner on the backboard, carry him to the 
                                    basket, put him in and up and away he goes to the 
                                    hospital."
                                    
                                    "Will there be room for me?"
                                    
                                    "No ma'am.  You'll have to drive out.  Sorry."  
                                    Smitty apologized.
                                    
                                    "That's okay.  How long until the chopper gets here?"
                                    
                                    Before Smitty could answer, Sean returned.  "Chopper 
                                    should be here in about 30 minutes," he announced.
                                    
                                    "I guess that answers my question.  If you don't 
                                    mind, I need to get our things packed up and tell my 
                                    partner what is going on."
                                    
                                    "Yes ma'am.  Let us know if you need any help." Sean 
                                    offered.
                                    
                                    Scully went back inside.
                                    
                                    "Well ma'am," Mulder teased, emphasizing the ma'am.  
                                    "It looks like we're on our way out of here."
                                    
                                    "Mulder if you keep that up, I may be forced to break 
                                    your other ankle," Scully threatened.
                                    
                                    "Sorry.  I didn't realize you were so touchy about 
                                    that."
                                    
                                    "I'm not touchy.  I just wonder when I became a 
                                    ma'am."
                                    
                                    "Instead of?" Mulder questioned.
                                    
                                    "Oh, never mind!" Scully fumed, shoving things back 
                                    into their backpacks.  "The chopper should be here 
                                    within half an hour."
                                    
                                    "Okay.  Where is it going to land?" he wondered.
                                    
                                    "It isn't."
                                    
                                    "You're kidding."
                                    
                                    "Nope.  Afraid of heights?"
                                    
                                    "Not particularly."
                                    
                                    "Then you should be just fine."  Scully finished 
                                    packing and sat down beside Mulder to wait 
                                    
                                    
                                    
                                    48 hours later
                                    
                                    Scully opened the door to Mulder's hospital room and 
                                    was surprised to see him sitting in a chair beside 
                                    his bed.
                                    
                                    "Mulder, I'm impressed!"
                                    
                                    "What a difference a few hours makes, huh Scully?" he 
                                    beamed.  "I got my back brace and now I can move."  
                                    He pointed to the walker sitting beside his chair.  
                                    "I have to use this until I get used to this cast.  A 
                                    few days of physical therapy and I get to go home."
                                    
                                    "Good.  I see your IV is gone and it looks like 
                                    you've showered and shaved too.  Maybe I should leave 
                                    more often."  Scully sat on the bed.
                                    
                                    "Speaking of leaving, where have you been?" Mulder 
                                    asked as he pulled the walker around in front of him.
                                    
                                    Scully crossed her arms and began.  "I talked the 
                                    chopper pilot into flying over the area we were 
                                    supposed to investigate."
                                    
                                    "And?"  Mulder stood and faced her.
                                    
                                    "Hills, rocks and more hills.  I don't know where 
                                    Kersh got his information, but he needs to get a new 
                                    source."
                                    
                                    Scully stood and moved so Mulder could get back in 
                                    bed.  He sat on the side of the bed and Scully moved 
                                    the walker out of the way.
                                    
                                    "I guess the report on this one will be short and 
                                    sweet.  Scully, could you help me move my legs up and 
                                    over?  I still have trouble with that."
                                    
                                    Scully complied and Mulder winced as the task was 
                                    completed.
                                    
                                    "Are you okay?" she asked.
                                    
                                    "Yeah.  The pain passes pretty quickly now."
                                    
                                    Scully pulled the sheet and blanket over him.  
                                    "Mulder, that report may be short, but it certainly 
                                    won't be sweet.  And I intend to deliver it in 
                                    person!"  Scully dropped into the chair and blew an 
                                    errant strand of hair from her eyes.
                                    
                                    "Go Scully!" he laughed.  "I wish you could wait 
                                    until I get back.  I'd love to witness that."
                                    
                                    "I think this is one time you'll be lucky to be on 
                                    sick leave."
                                    
                                    
                                    
                                    Six weeks later.
                                    
                                    Mulder left Kersh's office, limping slightly.  Scully 
                                    was waiting for him.
                                    
                                    "You got your cast off I see."
                                    
                                    "Yep, and the back brace is gone too.  Two weeks of 
                                    light duty, then I'll be ready for the field again."  
                                    He walked beside Scully as they headed for the 
                                    elevator.
                                    
                                    Scully pushed the button.  "Did you see Kersh?"
                                    
                                    "No.  He had to leave in a big hurry.  That wouldn't 
                                    have anything to do with that report you turned in 
                                    would it?"
                                    
                                    "I wouldn't know anything about that," she answered 
                                    innocently.
                                    
                                    The door to the elevator opened and Mulder pulled 
                                    Scully away from it.
                                    
                                    "Scully, I need to talk to you for a minute."
                                    
                                    "So, talk."
                                    
                                    "Are you familiar with the Great Smoky Mountains?"
                                    
                                    "I've heard of them.  Why?"
                                    
                                    "You have some personal time left, right?"
                                    
                                    "Mulder," she intoned suspiciously.
                                    
                                    "Just hear me out before you shoot me down, okay?"
                                    
                                    
                                    "Make it fast."  Scully crossed her arms.
                                    
                                    "All right.  I don't go back to work until Monday.  I 
                                    know you have at least two days of personal leave, 
                                    probably more, so. . ."
                                    
                                    "Mulder."  Scully began tapping her foot.
                                    
                                    "Okay.  The Lone Gunmen put me on to this."
                                    
                                    Scully rolled her eyes.
                                    
                                    "There have been reports of strange lights and the 
                                    bears in the park have been acting funny and. . ."
                                    
                                    "Mulder, where are you headed with this?" Scully 
                                    demanded.  "Kersh is not going to okay this and 
                                    you're not released for field duty anyway."
                                    
                                    "I propose that we go down there, on my dime," he 
                                    added hastily, "And check it out.  Look, I've already 
                                    rented us a nice little cabin. . ."
                                    
                                    "Cabin, Mulder?" Scully interrupted.
                                    
                                    "Yes.  A two bedroom, two bath cabin with a Jacuzzi 
                                    on the deck and a whirlpool tub in the master bath.  
                                    We can cook there, or if you'd rather, it's close 
                                    enough to Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge to drive in for 
                                    a good meal.  I'd like to pay you back for taking 
                                    care of me in Idaho.  Please say yes, Scully."  He 
                                    gave her his best puppy-dog look.
                                    
                                    "And the bears?" she queried.
                                    
                                    "Just a quick side-trip.  Two hours at the most."
                                    
                                    "All right.  But you're doing the cooking," she 
                                    stated.
                                    
                                    "Of course," he agreed.
                                    
                                    "Something besides canned spaghetti or TV dinners?"
                                    
                                    "Just let me know what you want and we'll get 
                                    supplies on the way from the airport," Mulder 
                                    promised, a big grin on his face.
                                    
                                    "Good.  I'll make the arrangements for my personal 
                                    days and you can call me with all of the details."  
                                    Scully went back to the elevator and pushed the 
                                    button.  As the door opened she put her hand on the 
                                    side to keep it from closing.  She turned around to 
                                    face him.  "Oh, and Mulder?"
                                    
                                    "Yes?" he answered.
                                    
                                    "You'd better be prepared because I plan to take 
                                    advantage of you any way I can."  With that she 
                                    walked into the elevator and pushed the button for 
                                    her floor.
                                    
                                    The door closed and several passing agents stared at 
                                    Mulder as he pumped his fist and shouted, "Yes!"
                                    
                                    Mulder was sure he had died and gone to heaven.  
                                    "Forget the bears," he thought.  If he had any luck 
                                    at all, Scully would take advantage of him in such a 
                                    way that they would never leave the cabin.  This was 
                                    one long weekend he hoped to remember for a long 
                                    time.
                                    
                                    The End