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Disclaimer In Part One
                           Mulder's return to consciousness was anything but 
                           pleasant.  A kick in the ribs brought him back to the 
                           surface.  He immediately wished he could slip back 
                           into the darkness.  The pain was so intense it 
                           brought tears to his eyes.  It took a few seconds to 
                           realize what had happened, but when his brain began 
                           to process thoughts, his first concern was Scully.
                           "Scully?" he called weakly.
                           "She's right here," a man's voice informed him.  "Get 
                           Mulder groaned and tried to comply.
                           "I said get up!" the man shouted, nudging Mulder's 
                           sore ribs with his booted foot.
                           With a loud groan, Mulder was able to push himself to 
                           a sitting position.  His eyes searched for Scully and 
                           he sighed his relief when he found her beside the 
                           man, apparently unharmed.
                           "It's about time you woke up," the man growled
                           "What do you want?" Mulder gasped.  His ribs hurt so 
                           badly it was difficult to breath.
                           "I want the keys to that shiny, new SUV and the money 
                           you have on you.  I'll need your money too, sister."
                           "I left the keys back at camp," Mulder bluffed.
                           "Liar!" the man screamed and lashed out with his foot 
                           Mulder attempted to dodge the kick but it connected 
                           soundly with his bullet wound.  He fell onto his 
                           right side, writhing in agony.
                           "Stop it!" Scully demanded. "The keys are in his 
                           "Now, that's what I wanted to hear.  You," he pointed 
                           to Scully, "Very slowly reach into his pocket and get 
                           the keys.  Keep your left hand where I can see it."
                           Mulder slowly began to focus again.  He knew that the 
                           assailant had relieved him of his weapon when he 
                           realized that his holster was too light.  He had to 
                           assume that Scully's weapon had also been found.  He 
                           moved his leg enough to insure that his backup was 
                           still in the ankle holster.  He could only hope that 
                           Scully remembered it was there.
                           Scully leaned over Mulder and positioned her left 
                           hand so that it was resting next to his ankle.
                           "Good," Mulder thought.  "Scully knows and she's 
                           getting into position."
                           She quickly found his keys and retrieved them, 
                           throwing them to the gunman and grabbing Mulder's gun 
                           at the same time.
                           The UNSUB was surprised when the keys became 
                           airborne.  As he reached for them Scully raised up, 
                           firing Mulder's weapon at the same time.  Even off-
                           balance she was a good shot.  Before he could squeeze 
                           off a round, he dropped to the ground, a gunshot 
                           wound to his head.
                           Mulder made a feeble attempt to get up but Scully 
                           held him down.  "Don't move, Mulder.  I need to check 
                           him out." 
                           She quickly moved over to the man lying on the 
                           ground.  After checking for a pulse and finding none, 
                           Scully reclaimed her weapon and holstered it.  She 
                           brought both Mulder's weapon and the robber's back 
                           with her.  She re-holstered Mulder's Sig for him and 
                           quickly secured the UNSUB'S weapon, ejecting the clip 
                           and stowing the items in her backpack.  With that 
                           task finished, she could turn her full attention to 
                           her wounded partner.
                           Mulder was lying on the ground in a world of hurt, 
                           bleeding heavily from the gunshot wound he had 
                           suffered under the robber's hands.  The first order 
                           of business was to stop the bleeding.  Scully dove 
                           into her backpack for the small first-aid kit she had 
                           brought along.  She found herself wishing that she 
                           had carried the larger one she had left at the 
                           She quickly opened the kit and withdrew several gauze 
                           pads.  After removing the wrappers, she apologized to 
                           her partner for the pain she was about to cause him 
                           and applied firm pressure to the wound.  The ensuing 
                           pain was enough to make him lose consciousness once 
                           Fortunately, the bleeding was soon under control.
                           Scully applied some antibiotic ointment and taped 
                           fresh gauze over the wound.  The bullet was still in 
                           his shoulder and would hurt like blazes when Mulder 
                           woke up.  She noted that his left side was also 
                           heavily bruised, heaping more misery upon his body.  
                           She hoped he would be able to walk out.  Scully 
                           wasn't too keen on leaving him in that condition 
                           while she went for help.
                           Mulder's legs began to move, accompanied by several 
                           soft groans.  A few minutes later he returned to full 
                           consciousness.  "Scully?"
                           "Right here, partner," she answered, taking his right 
                           hand and giving it a squeeze.
                           "You okay?"
                           "Yes, I'm fine."
                           Mulder looked her over carefully, unwilling to rely 
                           on her stock answer.
                           "Mulder, I'm all right.  He didn't touch me.  What 
                           about you?  Do you think you can sit up?"
                           "Yeah.  Give me a hand?"
                           "Sure thing."
                           Scully helped him sit up and kept an arm around him 
                           to keep him steady.  "Feeling dizzy?"
                           "Yeah, a little bit."
                           "You look a little green around the gills," she 
                           "Breathe as deeply as you can through your nose.  
                           Slow and steady."
                           "Hurts to breath," he groaned.
                           "I know.  Your ribs are badly bruised and I'm not 
                           ruling out a fracture."
                           "Is he dead?"
                           "Yes," Scully sighed.
                           "You didn't have a choice, Scully.  He was 
                           escalating.  He would have killed us."
                           "So, how are you feeling now?" she asked, changing 
                           the subject.  "Do you think you can walk?"
                           "Let me rest a few minutes more," he answered.  He 
                           knew she was trying to avoid the subject of the 
                           shooting and vowed to be there for her when she was 
                           ready to work through it.
                           "I guess we can spare a few minutes, Mulder, but not 
                           much more.  If we're going to walk out of here by 
                           nightfall we need to get going soon."
                           "Okay, in the meantime don't you think we should 
                           check that guy for ID?  Maybe I should stay with the 
                           body while you get help," he suggested.
                           "No way, Mulder.  We'll take it as slowly as you need 
                           to, but we're walking out of here together.  Let me 
                           check him out then we're on our way."
                           "Should we move the body away from the trail?"
                           "No, let's try to preserve the scene as much as 
                           possible.  We've tampered with it too much as it is."
                           Scully searched the man's pockets and found his 
                           wallet in a back pocket.  She opened it and turned to 
                           Mulder.  "He has an Alabama driver's license 
                           identifying him as Richard Surface, age 28."
                           "If it is it's a damned good job.  I'll turn it in 
                           for the lab to look over," she answered, searching 
                           for an evidence bag in her backpack.
                           After putting the wallet in the plastic bag she 
                           asked, "Ready to go?"
                           "Yeah, let's get out of here," Mulder answered as he 
                           began to push himself up.
                           "Here, let me help," Scully directed.  She put her 
                           arm around his waist and helped him stand.  "How are 
                           you doing?  Any dizziness or nausea?"
                           "Some, but I can walk."
                           "All right, just be sure to let me know if you need 
                           to stop."
                           "Okay.  Let's head out of here."
                           They began to slowly make their way back up the 
                           trail.  Scully kept her left arm around his waist, 
                           with Mulder's right arm draped around her shoulders.
                           Too soon the trail began to narrow and in places it 
                           was almost impossible to walk side by side.  Mulder 
                           was able to keep up at first but by the time they had 
                           walked half a mile he began to slow down 
                           "Mulder, do you need to rest?"
                           "No!  Gotta keep going," he answered, laboring for 
                           "It's okay if we have to stop every now and then."
                           "I'm okay," he gasped, stumbling slightly.
                           If Scully hadn't been supporting him he would have 
                           fallen.  She slid their backpacks off her right 
                           shoulder and steered them away from the drop-off on 
                           her right.
                           "Sit down."
                           "I can keep going," he protested.
                           "No, you can't.  Let's take a breather."
                           Mulder sighed resignedly and let Scully help him sit 
                           beside the trail.  She brought the backpacks over and 
                           dropped them beside Mulder.
                           "How's the pain?"
                           "Hurts like hell."
                           "I imagine it does.  Let me check your bandage, okay?  
                           I need to see if you're bleeding."
                           She pulled his shirt back and saw that the wound had 
                           bled a little but was nothing to be concerned with at 
                           the moment.  After putting his shirt back in place 
                           she looked up at his face.  He was perspiring 
                           profusely and had gone quite pale.
                           "Mulder, what's wrong?"
                           "Feel sick," he groaned and proceeded to loose his 
                           lunch by the side of the trail.
                           Scully stood by and rubbed his back until he finished 
                           retching, then eased him back to lie on the ground.  
                           After pulling a hand towel from her pack, she put the 
                           pack under Mulder's feet and headed for the stream 
                           flowing parallel to the trail.  She wet the cloth and 
                           squeezed the excess water from it.  After wiping 
                           Mulder's face she folded it and laid it across his 
                           "Much better," he gasped, still breathing hard.  
                           "Tore the hell out of my ribs though."
                           "I'm sorry, Mulder.  Just rest a few minutes and 
                           maybe the pain will ease up a bit."
                           "'Kay," he answered, closing his eyes.
                           "Mulder, no!  I need you to stay awake."
                           He groaned in answer.
                           Scully removed the towel, wet it again, then refolded 
                           it and returned it to his forehead.
                           "Feels good."
                           "Is the pain any better?"
                           "A little."
                           "Rest a few minutes longer," Scully advised as 
                           thunder rumbled in the distance.
                           She looked up and for the first time noticed dark 
                           clouds rolling in.
                           "Looks like rain," Mulder observed as a big drop of 
                           rain hit him on the nose.  "We need to get going."
                           "Can you make it?"
                           "I think so," he answered, pushing up on his right 
                           arm.  "Got any water left?"
                           "Yes, but only take a few swallows.  I don't want you 
                           getting sick again."
                           "Don't worry.  I have no desire to make a repeat 
                           Scully rummaged in her pack and found an unopened 
                           bottle of water.  She looked through Mulder's pack 
                           and found the same.  After she twisted off the top 
                           she handed Mulder a bottle.
                           "Remember, slow and easy."
                           Mulder nodded and took a long sip, then another and 
                           gave the bottle back to Scully.  "Thanks, that hit 
                           the spot."
                           She took a long swig, replaced the cap and put the 
                           remainder back in her backpack.  Another clap of 
                           thunder sounded, closer this time.
                           "We'd better go," Mulder decided.
                           Scully helped him up and they started back up the 
                           trail, the rain beginning to fall steadily.  A few 
                           minutes later they were engulfed in a downpour.
                           The agents were soaked to the skin in seconds.  The 
                           thunder was accompanied by brilliant flashes of 
                           lightning as the deluge quickly caused the hard, 
                           packed soil of the trail to become slippery.
                           In the days to follow, Mulder would replay the event 
                           over and over in his mind.  Even though he tried to 
                           erase it from his memory, he always came back to the 
                           look of absolute terror on Scully's face.
                           It had been raining hard for ten minutes with no sign 
                           of letting up.  Mulder was beginning to feel as if he 
                           couldn't take another step.  Scully was struggling 
                           also as she was carrying both backpacks and trying to 
                           give Mulder support.
                           Both agents slipped on the muddy trail.  Being so 
                           off-balance to begin with, Scully fell to her knees, 
                           causing Mulder to slam into her.  The next thing she 
                           saw was the side of the cliff.  She had slipped off 
                           the trail and over the side of the drop off. Mulder 
                           lunged and caught her ankle but wasn't able to keep 
                           her from going over.  She was dangling by her ankle.  
                           Only Mulder's tenuous hold kept her from falling.
                           Mulder felt a pop in his shoulder as new shockwaves 
                           of pain rolled through his chest, right shoulder and 
                           "Mulder, help me!" Scully screamed as she struggled 
                           to find something, anything that she could grab onto.
                           "Scully, hold still!"  Mulder yelled back.  The 
                           driving rain was making it difficult to hold on and 
                           his shoulder felt like it was being pulled from its 
                           socket.  "Can you bend forward and grab on with your 
                           hands?"  He dug his toes into the muddy ground in 
                           anticipation of her movement.
                           "I'll try, Mulder."  She began to bend forward and 
                           pull herself up.
                           Mulder felt himself being pulled closer to the edge 
                           by her movement.  Even if he could find something to 
                           grab onto, his left arm was useless and his right arm 
                           was about to give out.  Scully's struggle to pull her 
                           self up caused him to feel a tearing sensation in his 
                           shoulder.  He bit down on his bottom lip as the 
                           stinging, burning pain traveled from his shoulder to 
                           Scully's weight and movement once again pulled him 
                           closer to the edge.  He tried to dig his toes in 
                           again but couldn't get a purchase on the smooth stone 
                           lying just below the surface.  "Shit!" Mulder 
                           thought.  "If I can't dig in we're both going over!"
                           Scully had just grabbed his arm.  Mulder tried to 
                           pull her up and yelled in frustration when his arm 
                           refused to work.  There was nothing he could do when 
                           Scully's rain slick hands lost their grip.  She fell 
                           back and the ensuing momentum pulled Mulder along 
                           with her.  Both agent's eyes opened wide with fear 
                           and surprise.  Mulder could hear Scully shriek as she 
                           began to fall.
                           "Scully!" Mulder screamed, trying to force his arms 
                           to move so he could reach her.  He tried to keep his 
                           eyes on her as she fell below him but his body 
                           twisted and he lost sight of her.  He willed her to 
                           catch onto an outcropping of rock, anything that 
                           would stop her fall onto the gravel below.
                           Before he could call Scully's name again he smacked 
                           into the side of the cliff, knocking the breath from 
                           his lungs.  He was aware of coming to an abrupt halt 
                           and pain flaring through his back and legs.  He 
                           mercifully lost consciousness before his brain could 
                           process the new sensations.
                           End Part Two