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
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
"Right here, partner," she answered, taking his right
hand and giving it a squeeze.
"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?"
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
"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
"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.
"Is the pain any better?"
"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
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