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The Domino Fffect
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Title:  The Domino Effect
                                    Author:  Waddles52
                                    Summary:  An expenses paid trip to Miami to help 
                                    Skinner with a seminar doesn't turn out as planned.
                                    Rating:  PG 13
                                    Category:  MT, MSR, M/S/Sk friendship
                                    Disclaimer:  Just for fun.  Not for profit.  No 
                                    copyright infringement intended.
                                    Archives:  Probably, but please ask
                                    Feedback:  Sure.  Waddles52@insightbb.com
                                    Thanks:  To Lisa, beta extraordinaire.  She helped me 
                                    shape, form, polish and get this fic ready for human 
                                    consumption.  Love ya!
                                    Notes:  This fic will be presented in several parts; 
                                    however, it is not a WIP!  It is finished and in the 
                                    capable hands of my beta.  I will hopefully post 
                                    every other day until its completion.
                                    
                                    Part One-
                                    
                                    Scully stood on the balcony of the luxury hotel.  The 
                                    morning sun shining brightly, she took a deep breath 
                                    of warm, salty sea air and let the sun's warmth bathe 
                                    her face.  It felt wonderful after another night of 
                                    worry.
                                    
                                    "Oh, Mulder," she sighed, thinking about the last few 
                                    hellish days.  This trip had showed such promise, 
                                    damn it!
                                    
                                    Several days earlier, the Hoover Building-
                                    
                                    Hands planted on hips, Mulder sighed discontentedly 
                                    even though a steady stream of warm sunlight poured 
                                    through the office window.  He felt a strange pang of 
                                    homesickness for his real office, the basement den he 
                                    shared with Scully.  This one was nice but it wasn't 
                                    what he was used to, not a place he felt at home.  
                                    The sun was giving him a headache.
                                    
                                    "Mulder, I just faxed the last report to Skinner's 
                                    office," Scully reported as she entered their 
                                    temporary quarters, which resembled a made over broom 
                                    closet more than an office.  "Now what?"
                                    
                                    Mulder shrugged.  "I just tried to get down to the 
                                    basement.  No go.  I talked to one of the 
                                    exterminators and they said that it would be at least 
                                    a week before we could get back in our office."
                                    
                                    "It takes that long to get rid of a spider 
                                    infestation?"
                                    
                                    "Evidently, they're being very thorough.  According 
                                    to them, it's a major infestation," Mulder sighed, 
                                    throwing his pencil down on his desk.  "This 
                                    absolutely sucks.  I can't get to the files, my 
                                    computer or even my Rolodex to look up some phone 
                                    numbers I need.  I even have two packs of seeds down 
                                    there which are probably toxic by now."
                                    
                                    "I'll treat you to some fresh ones during lunch.  I 
                                    guess we've learned to be a bit more cautious when 
                                    bringing evidence to our office," Scully stated.
                                    
                                    "Thank you for taking part of the blame on this one, 
                                    Scully, but it's all on me.  I brought the sample in 
                                    and let it sit."
                                    
                                    "I knew it was there.  I should have taken it 
                                    upstairs and put it in a proper container."
                                    
                                    "Well, at this point, it's all water under the bridge 
                                    anyway.  I guess we could take an early lunch," he 
                                    suggested, grabbing his jacket from the back of his 
                                    chair.
                                    
                                    "Mulder, it's only 9:30," Scully protested.
                                    
                                    "All right.  Brunch?"
                                    
                                    A knock on the door startled them both.  Kimberly, AD 
                                    Skinner's assistant, stuck her head in, 
                                    apologetically.
                                    
                                    "Agents, I'm sorry to bother you, but since you don't 
                                    have a phone yet, AD Skinner sent me to get you.  
                                    He'd like to see you right away."
                                    
                                    Scully reached resignedly for her jacket.  "Thank 
                                    you, Kimberly.  Tell him we'll be right there."
                                    
                                    Kimberly nodded.  "I'll tell him you're on your way, 
                                    then."  She closed the door quietly behind her.
                                    
                                    "He's probably going to rake us over the coals for 
                                    causing the mess in the basement."  Mulder held the 
                                    door open for Scully, then shut it, leaving their 
                                    quaint, new cubbyhole behind.  "Just let me handle 
                                    it.  Don't say a word.  Just nod and let me take all 
                                    of the blame."
                                    
                                    "Mulder . . ."
                                    
                                    As soon as they reached Skinner's office, Kimberly 
                                    sent them in.
                                    
                                    "Agents, have a seat," he offered.
                                    
                                    Mulder and Scully took their usual seats and prepared 
                                    to be blasted for the spider infestation and anything 
                                    else that had gone wrong in the FBI that particular 
                                    day.
                                    
                                    "Agents, I want to thank you for sending in the paper 
                                    work on your last case so promptly.  If I'm not 
                                    mistaken, you don't have anything current."
                                    
                                    "That's correct, sir," Mulder answered cautiously, 
                                    flashing a look at Scully.
                                    
                                    "Good.  As you probably know, I'm scheduled to 
                                    conduct a workshop at a joint federal-state law 
                                    enforcement convention in Miami, Florida in five 
                                    days."
                                    
                                    Mulder and Scully nodded yes.
                                    
                                    "I have conducted this workshop in the past, but it 
                                    has been several years.  Truthfully, agents, I could 
                                    use your help.  There have been changes in some laws 
                                    and procedures in the past five years, and I find 
                                    that some additional research is needed.  At this 
                                    time, my plate is full until the evening before the 
                                    conference is scheduled to begin.  I could use some 
                                    help with the research and modernizing the 
                                    presentation.  I would also like to utilize your 
                                    expertise at the conference itself."
                                    
                                    The two agents passed surprised looks between 
                                    themselves.
                                    
                                    "I'd make it worth your while.  I've managed to 
                                    secure single rooms for each of you at the conference 
                                    site, and there should be ample time for sightseeing, 
                                    or whatever you wish to do once the workshop is over.  
                                    Of course, your expenses will be paid, and I think I 
                                    can even wrangle a couple of extra days off if you're 
                                    interested."
                                    
                                    "Since we're pretty limited right now, what with the 
                                    basement being off-limits, I think I can speak for 
                                    both of us and offer our assistance," Mulder 
                                    answered.
                                    
                                    "We'd be glad to help, sir," Scully added.
                                    
                                    "Wonderful.  You'll need a larger space to work.  
                                    Kimberly will get you all set up and I'll be down 
                                    later to see if you have any questions."
                                    
                                    XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
                                    
                                    The agents settled into their comfortable temporary 
                                    quarters.  They had all of the files open in front of 
                                    them, looking over the information.
                                    
                                    "This is going to be a lot of work," Mulder groaned.
                                    
                                    "Just think, though, sunny Florida in the middle of 
                                    one of the worst DC winters on record.  It will be 
                                    worth it," Scully reminded him.
                                    
                                    "You going to bring your swimsuit?  The real skimpy 
                                    one?" Mulder asked hopefully.
                                    
                                    "You going to bring yours?  The red Speedos?" Scully 
                                    countered.
                                    
                                    "Of course.  I never leave home without them."  
                                    Mulder tried to hide the big grin on his face at the 
                                    thought of Scully in a swimsuit.
                                    
                                    "We'll see."
                                    
                                    "I certainly hope so."
                                    
                                    "Mulder," Scully laughed.  "Let's get to work on 
                                    these updates.  We can talk about our wardrobe 
                                    later."
                                    
                                    "Is that a promise?"
                                    
                                    "Mulder . . ."
                                    
                                    "Okay, okay.  I'm working."
                                    
                                    After three days and nights of hard work, Skinner 
                                    gave his approval and the agents sent everything to 
                                    Kimberly to be printed.  The plan was to have 
                                    everything delivered to the conference center before 
                                    their flight left for Florida the next morning.  That 
                                    would give them a full day and a half before the 
                                    start of the conference to organize the slides, 
                                    videos, articles and worksheets.
                                    
                                    Skinner gave it his seal of approval and thanked them 
                                    once again, promising to meet with them as soon as he 
                                    checked in.
                                    
                                    XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
                                    
                                    Scully was in love.  The hotel was exceptional.  Her 
                                    room and all the surroundings were much more than she 
                                    had dared hope for.  It had been 22 degrees and 
                                    snowing when they left DC, and here in Miami it was 
                                    72 with all of the sunshine she could possibly want.  
                                    Heaven!
                                    
                                    Mulder was having similar feelings as he eyed the 
                                    heated pool from his room.  He noticed that the hotel 
                                    restaurant held the biggest seafood buffet he'd ever 
                                    seen, and what was this?  A mini-bar!  He looked it 
                                    over and grabbed a beer.  This all expenses paid 
                                    thing was great.  He settled down on the nice, 
                                    comfortable bed and turned on the TV.  Might as well 
                                    get comfortable while he waited for the conference 
                                    materials to be delivered.
                                    
                                    XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
                                    
                                    "You know, Scully," Mulder said as he placed the last 
                                    slide in the carousel.  "This is moving a lot faster 
                                    than I figured."
                                    
                                    "Yeah," Scully agreed.  "We'll probably be able to 
                                    finish up in another hour easily."
                                    
                                    "Yep.  Nice of the hotel to let us have the 
                                    conference room early.  The only thing left to do is 
                                    to make sure Skinner's lecture notes are in order."
                                    
                                    "We can do that in the morning.  His flight won't get 
                                    in until late afternoon," Scully suggested.
                                    
                                    "I was thinking the same thing.  How would you like 
                                    to visit that seafood buffet in the hotel restaurant 
                                    for dinner?"
                                    
                                    "Well, I'm not really in the mood for seafood, but I 
                                    suppose I could get something else."
                                    
                                    "I'm sure they have a wide variety of menu items.  
                                    You don't have to get the buffet."
                                    
                                    "Sure, Mulder.  It will be wonderful to go to a nice 
                                    restaurant instead of heading for the drive-thru of 
                                    the closest burger joint.  Now, the sooner we get 
                                    finished here, the quicker we can enjoy our dinner," 
                                    Scully smiled.
                                    
                                    Mulder loved to see her smile.  He hoped to see a lot 
                                    more of it on this assignment.  He checked over the 
                                    slides one more time, then began to put the videos in 
                                    order, salivating over what he might find on the 
                                    seafood buffet.
                                    
                                    XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
                                    
                                    Scully couldn't help but laugh as Mulder made his way 
                                    back to their table, carefully balancing his heaping, 
                                    full plates from the buffet.  "Good grief, Mulder.  
                                    That's enough for a small army!" she exclaimed as he 
                                    sat down and tried to decide what to eat first.
                                    
                                    "Nah, Scully, I'm just getting warmed up."  With a 
                                    gleeful look on his face, he stabbed a fried shrimp 
                                    and stuffed it in his mouth.
                                    
                                    She continued to be amused as Mulder cleaned his 
                                    plate, exclaiming his praise after every delicious 
                                    bite.
                                    
                                    "Scully, these are the best crab cakes I believe I've 
                                    ever had.  You've got to try one."  He turned his 
                                    plate around so that she could easily reach one.
                                    
                                    "Just a bite, Mulder," she decided, and scooped up a 
                                    small bit.  She swallowed it and made a face.  "I 
                                    don't much care for the taste.  Must be the 
                                    seasonings."
                                    
                                    Mulder looked at her in disbelief.  "I'm going back 
                                    for more."
                                    
                                    "Fine.  Eat your fill.  I think I'll just stick with 
                                    my Caesar salad."
                                    
                                    "Be right back."  Mulder grinned like a child at 
                                    Christmas and took off for another load.
                                    
                                    Scully shook her head, making a mental note to stop 
                                    at the gift shop on the way back for antacids.
                                    
                                    After dinner, the partners took a walk around the 
                                    hotel, inspecting all of the amenities, then decided 
                                    to work on the lecture notes before turning in for 
                                    the night.  Mulder knocked on the door to Scully's 
                                    room after he finished a quick shower.
                                    
                                    Scully held the door open for him and watched as he 
                                    padded barefoot across the floor and headed straight 
                                    for the mini-bar.  He looked relaxed and comfortable 
                                    in his sweats and t-shirt.  After rummaging around, 
                                    he came up with a soft drink and popped the top.
                                    
                                    "Mulder, they're charging five dollars a can for 
                                    those!" she exclaimed.
                                    
                                    "So?" he shrugged.
                                    
                                    "Don't you think you might be pushing the expenses 
                                    paid thing a little bit?"
                                    
                                    "Nope."
                                    
                                    "Whatever," she sighed, rubbing her stomach.
                                    
                                    Mulder noticed her discomfort.  "What's wrong?"
                                    
                                    "Nothing really.  My stomach just feels a little 
                                    off."
                                    
                                    "I'm fine.  Full, but fine," he patted his stomach 
                                    contentedly, plopping into a chair.  "So, where are 
                                    the notes?  What do you want me to do?"
                                    
                                    "Uh, drink your soda.  I'll be right back."  She 
                                    quickly made her way to the bathroom, slamming the 
                                    door behind her.
                                    
                                    Mulder heard the faucet come on and thought he heard 
                                    Scully being sick.  He wasn't sure if he should offer 
                                    to help or just leave her alone for the time being.  
                                    He settled on the latter, but decided if she wasn't 
                                    out in a few minutes he'd check on her.  He was just 
                                    about ready to get up and go to the bathroom door 
                                    when Scully came out looking extremely shaky and 
                                    pale.
                                    
                                    "Are you all right?" he asked, concern in his voice.
                                    
                                    "Not exactly.  I think it was the crab cake," she 
                                    moaned, wrapping her arms around her stomach.
                                    
                                    "But, you only had one teensy, little bite."
                                    
                                    "I know but . . ." she abruptly turned around.  
                                    "Definitely the crab cake," she muttered as she dove 
                                    back into the bathroom.
                                    
                                    "Well, shit.  Why did she have to get sick?  She 
                                    really seemed to be enjoying herself," he muttered, 
                                    staring after her.
                                    
                                    He stationed himself by the bathroom door, ready to 
                                    offer aid or comfort as soon as she came out.  It was 
                                    then that he began to notice an uncomfortable feeling 
                                    in his own stomach.  "I just ate too much," he told 
                                    himself.  "It couldn't be the crab cakes.  Could it?"
                                    
                                    
                                    End Part 1
                                    
                                    
The Domino Effect, Part 2/?
                                    
                                    Headers and disclaimer in Part 1.
                                    
                                    
                                    Mulder helped his partner into bed and gently pulled 
                                    the covers over her.  "Better?"  He gently sat down 
                                    beside her.
                                    
                                    Scully nodded weakly, then took a deep breath.  
                                    "Mulder, go back to your room.  I think I'll be okay 
                                    now.  I'm just a little tired."  He took her hand and 
                                    gently rubbed her fingers, his eyes showing his 
                                    concern.
                                    
                                    "Uh-uh, I'm going to stay with you for a while just 
                                    in case you need anything."
                                    
                                    "I just want to sleep."
                                    
                                    "Fine, then sleep.  I'll be right here." He squeezed 
                                    her fingers gently and reluctantly let go, although 
                                    he made no move to stand.  She looked too pale for 
                                    his comfort.
                                    
                                    Scully could tell that she wouldn't convince him to 
                                    leave.  She looked at him fondly, noting that he 
                                    looked rather pale himself.  "Mulder, you okay?"
                                    
                                    "Just a little concerned about you."
                                    
                                    "I'm okay," she answered sleepily, as she felt her 
                                    eyes closing, shutting out his worried expression.
                                    
                                    Mulder went back to the chair he'd occupied earlier 
                                    and sat down, feeling an uncomfortable twinge in his 
                                    midsection.  His stomach was definitely upset and he 
                                    knew it was only a matter of time before he would be 
                                    tossing his dinner too.  Every time he thought of the 
                                    crab cakes, his nausea increased.
                                    
                                    He eventually fell into an uneasy sleep.  He heard 
                                    Scully get up again, but couldn't muster the strength 
                                    to get up and check on her.
                                    
                                    Scully got back into bed, grateful that there was 
                                    nothing but dry heaves this time.  She was surprised 
                                    that Mulder hadn't even stirred.  Well, just as well.  
                                    All she needed was some sleep, and he looked a bit 
                                    off-color himself.
                                    
                                    She had been dozing for only a few minutes when the 
                                    unmistakable sounds of Mulder in the throes being 
                                    sick awakened her.  Scully's stomach gave a little 
                                    flip then settled.  Well, that pretty much confirmed 
                                    what she suspected.  She sighed.  They both had food 
                                    poisoning.
                                    
                                    After a few minutes, Mulder staggered from the 
                                    bathroom and reclaimed his chair.  He was only there 
                                    a few minutes before leaping up and bolting for the 
                                    bathroom again.
                                    
                                    "This is going to be a very long night," Scully 
                                    groaned as she pushed the covers back.
                                    
                                    Mulder refused to lie down beside her at first, as 
                                    she suggested so she could keep an eye on him.  
                                    Sometime around 3 AM he ordered her to scoot over and 
                                    then fell into bed beside her.  He had vomited 
                                    thirteen times and she was concerned that he was 
                                    dehydrated.  "Mulder, if I get up and bring it here, 
                                    would you try to drink a little water?"
                                    
                                    He shook his head no, then shivered when Scully 
                                    reached over to feel his forehead.  "Yes, Scully, I 
                                    have a fever," he moaned weakly.  "How are you 
                                    doing?"
                                    
                                    "I feel like death warmed over, but even at that I 
                                    think I'm in much better shape than you."
                                    
                                    "Be thankful you only took a small bite," he groaned 
                                    as his stomach began to cramp again.
                                    
                                    "Mulder, I need to get you to a hospital."
                                    
                                    "No!  Too sick to go to the hospital."  He sat back 
                                    up on the side of the bed, clutching his stomach, 
                                    panting with exertion and pain.  His hand flew to his 
                                    mouth as he gagged and took off for the bathroom 
                                    again.
                                    
                                    Scully forced herself out of bed, leaning against the 
                                    wall as a wave of dizziness hit her.  If she felt 
                                    this badly, Mulder must be near death.  She forced 
                                    herself to move to the bathroom, only to be met by 
                                    Mulder, leaning heavily on the doorjamb.
                                    
                                    "Back to bed," he ordered, breathing hard, scarcely 
                                    able to support his legs.
                                    
                                    "Let me call 911."  Her arms tried to support him.
                                    
                                    "Bed," he choked out, moving around her and 
                                    collapsing onto it, face down.
                                    
                                    "If you're not better in an hour, I'm calling for an 
                                    ambulance," she threatened.
                                    
                                    "If I'm not better in an hour I'll be dead.  Sleep."
                                    
                                    Scully crawled back into bed, and began rubbing his 
                                    heaving back in small circles.  Worry gnawed at her, 
                                    but soon sleep claimed them both.  Although she was 
                                    awakened almost every hour when Mulder lurched off 
                                    the bed for another round of vomiting or dry heaves, 
                                    she had to agree with his argument that he wasn't 
                                    vomiting as much as he had been.  She decided not to 
                                    call for an ambulance.  Yet.
                                    
                                    The next time Scully awakened she heard loud, banging 
                                    sounds.  She quickly checked on Mulder, but he was 
                                    still beside her, terribly pale, but sleeping 
                                    soundly.  Puzzled, she checked the alarm clock.  9:30 
                                    AM.  At least they had finally gotten a little sleep.  
                                    The banging started again, and it finally dawned on 
                                    her that someone was at the door.
                                    
                                    Groaning, she pushed herself out of bed and staggered 
                                    to the door.  She looked through the peephole and was 
                                    surprised to see Skinner.  She hastily opened the 
                                    door.  "Sir?"
                                    
                                    Skinner took in her disheveled appearance.  He looked 
                                    past Scully and was taken aback when he spied Mulder 
                                    sprawled in her bed.  "Agent Scully, what the hell is 
                                    going on here?"
                                    
                                    "Sir?' she questioned, confused.
                                    
                                    "What is Agent Mulder doing in your bed, or should I 
                                    even ask?" he fumed.
                                    
                                    "Oh, sir!  It's not what you think!" Scully 
                                    exclaimed, swaying as her knees began to tremble.  
                                    Skinner's glare morphed to one of concern in less 
                                    than a second.
                                    
                                    "Scully, are you all right?"  Skinner reached out to 
                                    steady her.
                                    
                                    He looked her over more carefully.  Observing her 
                                    pale appearance, he realized that she was ill.  He 
                                    also noted that Mulder hadn't moved an inch since he 
                                    had entered the room.  "Scully?"
                                    
                                    "Sick.  Both of us.  Food poisoning," she whispered 
                                    as her knees gave way.
                                    
                                    Skinner scooped her up and deposited her on the bed 
                                    next to Mulder. He moved around to Mulder's side and 
                                    pulled the covers back.  His breathing was very 
                                    shallow, and as Skinner checked his pulse he found it 
                                    much too fast for his liking.  He shook his agent's 
                                    shoulders and got no response.
                                    
                                    "Scully, how long has he been like this?"
                                    
                                    "Mmm, not sure.  He's been very sick.  Last time he 
                                    woke up was maybe six.  Not sure.  What's wrong?"  
                                    She blinked her eyes, obviously having trouble 
                                    focusing.
                                    
                                    "He's unconscious."
                                    
                                    "Wanted to call 911."
                                    
                                    "I'm calling them now.  You're probably both 
                                    dehydrated as hell.  Lie back and rest.  I'll see to 
                                    Mulder."
                                    
                                    Scully found that she didn't have much choice, as her 
                                    body refused to do what she wanted it to.  "Tell them 
                                    to hurry, sir."
                                    
                                    
                                    End part 2 
The Domino Effect-Part 3
                                    
                                    
                                    Headers and disclaimers in Part 1
                                    
                                    
                                    
                                    Skinner walked briskly into the ER treatment room 
                                    that held Dana Scully.  "I just came from Mulder's 
                                    room.  He's awake, Scully."
                                    
                                    "Thank God."  Though still pale, Scully looked much 
                                    better than she had a few hours earlier.  She'd had 
                                    some fluids and a little more sleep since they'd 
                                    arrived.
                                    
                                    "You were both dehydrated, Mulder much more severely 
                                    than you," Skinner explained.
                                    
                                    "He vomited at least twenty times.  I lost count 
                                    sometime after five this morning.  I should have 
                                    gotten him to the hospital sooner."  Guilt was 
                                    written all over her tired face, and tears threatened 
                                    to fall when she dwelled too much on the state her 
                                    partner was in.
                                    
                                    "You were both terribly ill.  I doubt that either of 
                                    you was thinking straight."
                                    
                                    "I knew he was bad but . . ."
                                    
                                    "Scully!  That's enough!  Stop beating yourself up 
                                    over this.  You did the best you could.  Just be 
                                    thankful that I was able to get an earlier flight."
                                    
                                    "How is he?" Scully asked wearily.
                                    
                                    "Very weak, but the vomiting seems to have stopped.  
                                    They want to keep him on IV fluids for another six 
                                    hours at least and keep him under observation.  If he 
                                    does all right and his blood work is normal, he may 
                                    be released later," Skinner reported.
                                    
                                    "I expected them to admit him."
                                    
                                    "I thought they would admit both of you, but the 
                                    doctor said that you can leave as soon as you finish 
                                    this IV."
                                    
                                    "Good.  That will give me some time to rest before 
                                    Mulder gets back."
                                    
                                    "You're still too weak to take care of yourself, 
                                    Scully," Skinner pointed out.
                                    
                                    "Well, someone will have to keep an eye on him.  You 
                                    know how he is."
                                    
                                    "I plan on taking care of both of you."
                                    
                                    "But sir, you need to prepare for the conference," 
                                    Scully protested.
                                    
                                    "I can look over my notes while you're resting, and 
                                    the hotel will provide a nurse if necessary," Skinner 
                                    informed her.
                                    
                                    "Well, they should.  It's the hotel's fault we're in 
                                    this mess.  How many others are ill?"
                                    
                                    "Amazingly, only two.  Only one pan of crab cakes was 
                                    involved, and I've been told that Agent Mulder ate 
                                    the majority of those."
                                    
                                    Scully smiled ruefully, recalling his overfull plate 
                                    and the look of boyish devilment as he tore into them 
                                    with gusto.  "Yeah, he said they were the best he'd 
                                    ever tasted."
                                    
                                    The IV pump began to beep, signaling that it was 
                                    empty.  "I'll get the nurse and see what we can do 
                                    about getting you out of here."
                                    
                                    "Thank you.  I'd like to see Mulder before we leave."
                                    
                                    "All right, but you'll need to make it a brief 
                                    visit," Skinner cautioned.  "He needs plenty of rest.  
                                    He's really wasted after the night he had."
                                    
                                    XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
                                    
                                    Skinner pushed Scully's wheelchair into Mulder's 
                                    treatment room.  He'd been moved onto a hospital bed 
                                    and was receiving oxygen through a nasal cannula.  
                                    The nurse was in the process of removing the IV line 
                                    from his right arm, leaving the one in his left arm 
                                    in place.  He still looked extremely ill, and Skinner 
                                    seriously wondered if he would be well enough to be 
                                    released later.
                                    
                                    Mulder slowly turned his head in their direction.  
                                    "Scully?  You okay?"  He tried to reach out his hand 
                                    for her but found that he was too weak.  Instead, 
                                    Scully took hold of his hand, rubbing along his thumb 
                                    in a comforting gesture,
                                    
                                    "I'm better, Mulder.  They're letting me go."
                                    
                                    "She's going to the hotel to rest.  They've arranged 
                                    to let us have a three bedroom suite, so I'll be able 
                                    to keep an eye on the two of you a little easier," 
                                    Skinner reported.
                                    
                                    "I can take care of Scully, sir," Mulder said weakly.
                                    
                                    "Yeah?" Skinner questioned.  "And who's going to take 
                                    care of you?"
                                    
                                    "I'll be fine, sir," he insisted.
                                    
                                    "Get some rest, Mulder," the AD advised.  "I'll be 
                                    back in a few hours to see how you're doing."
                                    
                                    XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
                                    
                                    "I can't believe they released you, Mulder.  You're 
                                    as weak as a kitten," Skinner observed as he held on 
                                    to his agent in an effort to keep him from falling to 
                                    the floor of the elevator.
                                    
                                    Mulder grunted, concentrating on his next breath for 
                                    the moment.  He was able to speak in a few seconds.  
                                    "No more vomiting, blood work improved, no reason to 
                                    keep me, sir," Mulder gasped, holding onto the hand- 
                                    rail for dear life.  "No beds available."
                                    
                                    The elevator stopped at their floor.  "Come on.  
                                    We're just a few doors down."
                                    
                                    "I can make it."
                                    
                                    Skinner and Mulder lurched through the door startling 
                                    Scully who was resting on the couch.  She jumped up 
                                    and Skinner deposited Mulder where she had been lying 
                                    seconds earlier.
                                    
                                    Her partner immediately groaned, pulling his legs up 
                                    to his stomach.  "What's wrong?" Scully asked, 
                                    sitting back down beside him.
                                    
                                    "Stomach muscles hurt!" Mulder exclaimed.  His eyes 
                                    were squeezed shut against the wave of pain that 
                                    assaulted him.  He felt Scully's steadying hands on 
                                    his back and collapsed into her touch.
                                    
                                    "That's normal after all of the vomiting you did.  
                                    I'm very surprised they discharged you."
                                    
                                    "No beds," he managed to get out.
                                    
                                    "What are his discharge instructions?" Scully 
                                    questioned, turning to Skinner, her hands still 
                                    rubbing soothing circles onto Mulder's stiff back.
                                    
                                    "Basically the same as yours.  Rest, small amounts of 
                                    fluids every half hour, return to the ER immediately 
                                    if symptoms return," Skinner read from the paper 
                                    before he showed it to Scully.
                                    
                                    Mulder dozed off while they were talking.  "They 
                                    should have admitted him," she sighed angrily, 
                                    gathering up the blanket that she'd been wrapped in a 
                                    few minutes earlier, gently spreading it over him.
                                    
                                    "You're preaching to the choir, Agent Scully.  We'll 
                                    just have to do the best we can.  You need to get 
                                    into bed and rest yourself.  I'll wake him up in 
                                    about half an hour and make sure he drinks a few sips 
                                    of water.  Then I'll get him to bed."
                                    
                                    "I can lie on the recliner and keep an eye on him if 
                                    you need to go over your notes."
                                    
                                    "I fully intend to go over my notes while I'm waiting 
                                    to wake him up.  Now, do you need any help getting to 
                                    your bedroom?"
                                    
                                    "Uh, no, sir.  Please wake me if you need any help."
                                    
                                    "I'll keep that in mind, Agent Scully.  Now, please 
                                    lie down in your room before you lose what little 
                                    strength you've gained back," Skinner insisted 
                                    gently.
                                    
                                    "I'm going now, sir."
                                    
                                    Mulder awakened shortly before Skinner had planned to 
                                    rouse him.  "Thirsty," he rasped hoarsely.
                                    
                                    "I'm going to fix some ice chips and pour a few sips 
                                    of water over them.  You can chew or suck on the ice 
                                    after you drink the water."  Skinner made his way to 
                                    the counter where the ice bucket was kept.  "Do you 
                                    need any help sitting up?"  He opened the small 
                                    refrigerator and took out a bottle of water.
                                    
                                    "Nah, I'm up.  Oh, shit!" he exclaimed, grabbing his 
                                    stomach.  "Muscles really hurt."
                                    
                                    Skinner handed him the glass of ice and water.  
                                    "Would you like for me to call the hospital and see 
                                    if it's all right for you to take some Tylenol?"
                                    
                                    "No, I'll be okay."  He drank the water quickly.  
                                    "Good water.  Thanks."
                                    
                                    "You can have some more in another half hour.  Let's 
                                    get you on your feet and into bed."
                                    
                                    Skinner helped Mulder to his bed.  It had been 
                                    terribly painful for the younger man to move.  His 
                                    strained stomach muscles barely allowed him to 
                                    straighten up, and each step had been agony.  He knew 
                                    that Mulder didn't want to make a fuss, but this was 
                                    one time when he could not abide by his wishes.  
                                    Grabbing the phone from its place on the end table, 
                                    Skinner called the front desk and asked of there was 
                                    a doctor on call.  He was more than a little worried.
                                    
                                    Half an hour later, Skinner had just delivered a 
                                    small amount of water to each agent when he heard a 
                                    soft knock on the door.  He hurried to answer it and 
                                    was greeted by a lovely, young Hispanic woman 
                                    carrying the traditional, black doctor's bag.
                                    
                                    "Hello, I'm Dr. Shelly Lamas, the physician on call."
                                    
                                    "Yes, Dr. Lamas.  Thanks for coming.  Please come in.  
                                    I'm Walter Skinner.  I believe we spoke earlier."
                                    
                                    "Yes.  You said your friend was in quite a bit of 
                                    pain?" she questioned.
                                    
                                    "He's in a world of hurt right now.  He's one of the 
                                    food poisoning victims.  I think he vomited so much 
                                    that his stomach muscles are unbelievably sore."
                                    
                                    "I see.  May I examine him?"
                                    
                                    "Right this way."  Skinner brought her to Mulder's 
                                    room.  "Mulder, this is Dr. Lamas.  I called her to 
                                    see if she could prescribe something for the pain 
                                    you're having."
                                    
                                    Mulder wearily nodded his acceptance, which gave 
                                    Skinner some concern.  Normally, Mulder tried to keep 
                                    a safe distance away from doctors.  The fact that he 
                                    gave in so easily led him to believe that the pain 
                                    must be excruciating.
                                    
                                    "Dr. Lamas, I'll leave you to your examination.  I'll 
                                    be in the living area if you need me."
                                    
                                    Ten minutes later Dr. Lamas exited Mulder's room, 
                                    closing the door softly behind her.  Skinner motioned 
                                    her to have a seat on the couch.
                                    
                                    "I gave him an injection of Demerol and Phenergan so 
                                    he should sleep for a while.  Quite frankly, Mr. 
                                    Skinner, I have trouble understanding why he was 
                                    discharged from the hospital."
                                    
                                    "You're not the only one puzzled by that decision.  
                                    The hospital claims there were no available beds," 
                                    Skinner explained, biting down his annoyance at that 
                                    decision.
                                    
                                    "I see.  They must have given him enough IV fluids to 
                                    bring his blood work up to a borderline acceptable 
                                    reading.  He is very weak."
                                    
                                    "I know, but is he doing all right for the time 
                                    being?"
                                    
                                    "Yes, his condition is satisfactory, but barely.  It 
                                    will take him several days to get over this.  He's 
                                    asking about his partner, Miss Scully.  I'd like to 
                                    examine her also."
                                    
                                    "I'll see if she's awake."  Skinner rapped lightly on 
                                    Scully's door then stuck his head in.  After a few 
                                    seconds he motioned for the doctor to join him.  "She 
                                    has some questions about Mulder also.  She's a 
                                    qualified doctor in her own right, and more often 
                                    than not sees to her partner's medical care."
                                    
                                    "I'll speak to her and see you again when I'm 
                                    finished."  After a few minutes she was back with 
                                    Skinner.  "Miss Scully is recovering nicely.  I think 
                                    it would be safe for her to go on a clear, liquid 
                                    diet.  Why don't you call the kitchen and have them 
                                    send up some broth, jello and tea?  She's in much 
                                    better condition than her poor partner."
                                    
                                    "She only had a small bite of the tainted food," 
                                    Skinner explained.
                                    
                                    "Lucky for her.  I think she should be able to sit up 
                                    when she feels like it, but she should be careful not 
                                    to push herself."
                                    
                                    "Now, that's easier said than done," Skinner grinned.
                                    
                                    "I understand.  I'm going to leave some pre-loaded 
                                    syringes with Demerol and Phenergan for Mr. Mulder.  
                                    Miss Scully, er, Doctor Scully assures me that she 
                                    can administer the injections when he awakens."
                                    
                                    "Yes, I'm sure she can," Skinner agreed.
                                    
                                    "Continue to give Mr. Mulder small amounts of water 
                                    when he awakens.  Rest is a very important factor in 
                                    his recovery right now along with re-hydration.  If 
                                    he doesn't experience any more vomiting, you may want 
                                    to start him on a clear, liquid diet at lunch 
                                    tomorrow."
                                    
                                    "All right.  The hotel is sending a private duty 
                                    nurse to stay with him tomorrow while I'm at the 
                                    conference.  I'll be sure to tell her."
                                    
                                    "I would like to examine Mr. Mulder again in the 
                                    morning, so I'll either speak to her or leave written 
                                    orders.  Any questions?"
                                    
                                    "No, Dr. Lamas, I think you've covered everything.  
                                    Thank you for coming so quickly."
                                    
                                    "Not a problem, Mr. Skinner.  I live here at the 
                                    hotel.  Please do not hesitate to call if you need me 
                                    during the night.  I can be here in minutes," the 
                                    doctor stated, shaking his hand as she turned to 
                                    leave.
                                    
                                    "I'll keep that in mind," Skinner agreed, walking her 
                                    to the door.
                                    
                                    Mulder awakened as soon as the painkillers began to 
                                    wear off.  He was surprised to see Scully sitting in 
                                    a chair near the foot of the bed.
                                    
                                    "Scully?  How are you?"  He tried to sit up but 
                                    quickly abandoned that idea when his stomach muscles 
                                    protested.  "Damn it!  Hurts like hell!"
                                    
                                    "I can't imagine, Mulder.  I'm a little sore myself, 
                                    but you must be suffering unbelievably."
                                    
                                    "I'll be okay as long as you're better.  You are 
                                    looking much better, by the way."  That thought alone 
                                    comforted him despite his pain.
                                    
                                    "Why, thank you, Mulder," she smiled, getting up to 
                                    sit beside him on the bed.  "I even had a little 
                                    broth and jello a few hours ago."  She took his left 
                                    hand in hers.
                                    
                                    "I think I'll have to pass on that."  He made a face 
                                    indicating his displeasure at the mention of food.
                                    
                                    "Unfortunately, you're right.  The doctor says maybe 
                                    you can try some broth for lunch.  In the meantime, 
                                    have some water."  She offered a glass of ice chips 
                                    with a little water to him.  He started to sit up but 
                                    Scully pushed him back.  "Let me hold the glass for 
                                    you."
                                    
                                    Mulder didn't protest as he began to sip the water 
                                    through a straw that Scully had thoughtfully placed 
                                    there earlier.  He kept sipping until only ice was 
                                    left.  "More?"
                                    
                                    "Sorry, Mulder, not right now.  You can have the ice, 
                                    though.  Do you think you can manage the glass?"
                                    
                                    "I think so."
                                    
                                    She gave it to him and he grabbed a few ice chips and 
                                    popped them into his mouth.
                                    
                                    "How's the pain?"
                                    
                                    "Let's talk about somethin' else," Mulder winced as 
                                    he crushed the ice chips in his mouth.
                                    
                                    "That bad, huh?"
                                    
                                    "Beyond bad."
                                    
                                    "The doctor left another dose of Demerol and 
                                    Phenergan.  Would you like for me to inject it?"
                                    
                                    "Later.  Tell me about this mornin', when Skinner 
                                    found us.  I don't remember."
                                    
                                    "Actually, there isn't much to tell, but he did jump 
                                    to the wrong conclusion when he saw you in my bed," 
                                    Scully giggled.
                                    
                                    "Oh, really?"
                                    
                                    "Yes, really.  He went crazy for about ten seconds, 
                                    then when I nearly passed out and you didn't move, he 
                                    finally figured out that we were both extremely ill 
                                    and hadn't been doing the horizontal mambo."
                                    
                                    "So, he went a little ballistic, huh?"  The thought 
                                    that scene conjured up tickled him, but he didn't 
                                    dare laugh.
                                    
                                    "You could say that."
                                    
                                    "Damn!  I always miss the good stuff. Urgh!"
                                    
                                    "Mulder, you okay?"
                                    
                                    "Mm, yeah, just a stomach cramp.  They hit every now 
                                    and then.  It'll pass.  Just remove my head from my 
                                    body and that should cure the problem," he assured 
                                    her, handing the glass back.  She ruffled his hair 
                                    gently.
                                    
                                    "I'm going to get your pain medication.  I'll give 
                                    you that injection, then you can rest," Scully 
                                    decided, getting up from her comfy place beside 
                                    Mulder.
                                    
                                    "You too."
                                    
                                    "Me too?" she questioned.
                                    
                                    "You need to rest too."
                                    
                                    "I will as soon as I give you the injection."
                                    
                                    Mulder patted the bed beside him.  "Plenty of room 
                                    here."
                                    
                                    "You must be delirious," Scully commented.
                                    
                                    "Oh?"
                                    
                                    "To risk your life over Skinner's reaction, you're 
                                    either delirious, crazy, or both!"
                                    
                                    "Well, it was worth a try."
                                    
                                    "Oookaaay, I'll be right back with that injection."
                                    
                                    When she returned she asked, "Which hip did the 
                                    doctor use earlier?"
                                    
                                    "Uh, hip?"
                                    
                                    "You know this has to go in your hip.  I'm just 
                                    trying to keep one side from getting too sore, but if 
                                    you don't care . . ."
                                    
                                    "All right, all right.  The doctor put it in the left 
                                    one."
                                    
                                    "Thank you.  Can you roll onto your left side by 
                                    yourself?"
                                    
                                    "Yeah, ow!  Does hurt though.  You trying to get into 
                                    my sweats, Agent Scully?"  She grinned evilly as she 
                                    squirted air bubbles from the syringe.  "Be gentle 
                                    with me."
                                    
                                    "Always, Mulder."
                                    
                                    Scully pulled down the waistband of his sweats and 
                                    swabbed the skin with an alcohol pad, injected him, 
                                    then swabbed the area again.  "There you go."  She 
                                    stifled a giggle that formed when she realized the 
                                    vulnerability of his current position.  After 
                                    mentally admiring his nice ass, she pulled the 
                                    waistband back up and patted his bottom.
                                    
                                    "Ooh, Scully, I'll give you five minutes to stop," he 
                                    moaned suggestively.
                                    
                                    "In your dreams, Mulder.  Skinner's getting ready to 
                                    turn in.  He asked me to leave your door open, so 
                                    give a shout if you need anything."
                                    
                                    "All right, if I must.  You're going to rest too, 
                                    right?"
                                    
                                    "Yes, I am.  I've only been up for around fifteen 
                                    minutes and I'm already done in," she sighed wearily.
                                    
                                    "C'mere."
                                    
                                    "Yes?"
                                    
                                    Mulder took her right hand in his and stroked her 
                                    thumb.  His eyes took on a serious gaze.  "Scully, 
                                    I'm really sorry about this."
                                    
                                    "For what?  The food poisoning?"
                                    
                                    He nodded yes.
                                    
                                    "And how was that your fault?"
                                    
                                    "You wouldn't have eaten any of the crab cake if I 
                                    hadn't insisted."
                                    
                                    "I don't seem to recall being tied down, or having it 
                                    forced down my throat.  You couldn't have known.  Put 
                                    the blame where it belongs.  The kitchen was the 
                                    guilty party on this one."
                                    
                                    "'Kay."  He looked down and watched his fingers as 
                                    they moved across her palm, sighing.
                                    
                                    "Mulder, I mean it.  This was not your fault.  They 
                                    are looking into the crab meat, lobster, or the eggs 
                                    used to make the batter."
                                    
                                    "Ugh, thanks for that picture," he moaned.
                                    
                                    "Sorry.  Still queasy?"
                                    
                                    "Some."
                                    
                                    "Mulder, the Phenergan should help that, but if it 
                                    doesn't, let us know," Scully instructed.
                                    
                                    "I will.  Indian Guide's honor," he promised, weakly 
                                    making the sign.
                                    
                                    "You're still slightly dehydrated and your body can't 
                                    take too much of that.  It could eventually cause a 
                                    systemic organ shutdown, coma, or even death.  It's 
                                    nothing to fool around with, Mulder, so please let us 
                                    know if you start vomiting again," she pleaded.
                                    
                                    "I promise"
                                    
                                    "Good."  She leaned down and kissed his forehead and 
                                    ruffled his hair.  "Get some sleep."
                                    
                                    "You too."
                                    
                                    "I'm heading for bed right now," she said, reaching 
                                    for the door.  She took another lingering look at him 
                                    and satisfied that he was indeed resting, she made 
                                    her way to her room.
                                    
                                    Later, Skinner was awakened from a fitful sleep when 
                                    he heard a dull thump in the room next to him.  It 
                                    took a few seconds to process it, but when he did he 
                                    leapt out of bed and shot across the room.  "Mulder!"
                                    
                                    
                                    End Part 3
                                    
                                    
                                    
The Domino Effect-Part 4
                                    
                                    
                                    Headers and disclaimers in part 1
                                    
                                    
                                    Skinner rushed into Mulder's room to find him on the 
                                    floor beside his bed, trying to push himself up and 
                                    cursing under his breath.  He knelt beside him.  
                                    "Mulder, you okay?"
                                    
                                    "Um, think so."
                                    
                                    "Let me help you up," Skinner offered, taking his 
                                    elbow.
                                    
                                    "'Kay," he agreed, groaning loudly when his stomach 
                                    muscles began to protest.
                                    
                                    The AD helped him up and sat him on the side of the 
                                    bed.  "What were you doing trying to get up, anyway?" 
                                    he inquired, looking Mulder over for any obvious 
                                    injuries.
                                    
                                    "Bathroom.  Guess I'm weaker than I thought."
                                    
                                    "It appears that way.  Let me help you, all right?"
                                    
                                    "That might be a good idea," Mulder admitted, 
                                    breathlessly.
                                    
                                    Skinner helped him up, holding onto him until they 
                                    reached the bathroom door.
                                    
                                    "I can take it from here," Mulder assured him.
                                    
                                    "Sorry, Mulder, but there are too many sharp edges 
                                    for you to hit your head on.  I'm going in with you."
                                    
                                    "Suit yourself," Mulder shrugged.
                                    
                                    Skinner stuck to him like glue until he had Mulder 
                                    safely back to the side of the bed.  "How about some 
                                    water?"
                                    
                                    "Not now," Mulder answered, turning even paler.
                                    
                                    "What's the matter?"
                                    
                                    "Feel sick."
                                    
                                    Skinner hastily pulled a wastebasket in front of 
                                    Mulder who was suddenly seized with dry heaves.  By 
                                    the time he finished retching, Scully was at his 
                                    side.  "Better?" she asked, pushing back a stubborn 
                                    lock of hair back from his forehead.
                                    
                                    "Yeah, just weak from walking.  I'll be okay.  Just 
                                    need to rest."
                                    
                                    "You do need to drink something, though.  Do you 
                                    think you can keep it down now?"
                                    
                                    "Let me rest, then I'll try."
                                    
                                    "Scully, should I call the doctor?" Skinner looked 
                                    worried.
                                    
                                    "No, not yet.  I think Mulder's right.  The exertion 
                                    of walking to and from the bathroom probably caused 
                                    this.  Let's let him rest a bit and then see if he 
                                    can keep some water down."
                                    
                                    "Just need to lie down for a few minutes," Mulder 
                                    groaned.
                                    
                                    "All right, I'll stay with you for a few minutes," 
                                    Scully agreed.
                                    
                                    "Thanks," Mulder groaned again loudly as he lay back, 
                                    grabbing his stomach.  "That does hurt."
                                    
                                    "I'm sorry.  You'll start to feel better whenever you 
                                    feel like getting up and moving around more."
                                    
                                    "I'm afraid that might be awhile."
                                    
                                    "It will probably be a few days before you're up and 
                                    around very much, but don't get discouraged.  You've 
                                    been quite ill.  Just give it some time," Scully 
                                    soothed.
                                    
                                    "I'm going to get some cold water for both of you 
                                    while I'm up," Skinner decided.
                                    
                                    "Thank you." Scully watched him leave before turning 
                                    her attention back to her partner.
                                    
                                    Skinner went to the mini-bar where he could be heard 
                                    preparing their drinks.
                                    
                                    "Can't even take a piss by myself," Mulder grumped.
                                    
                                    "Well, the good news is that you feel the need to 
                                    urinate.  That means you're not dehydrated like 
                                    before.  You may even feel like sitting up a little 
                                    bit by this afternoon, but in the meantime don't feel 
                                    bad about needing help."
                                    
                                    "I hope you're right," he sighed.  "I hate being 
                                    sick!"
                                    
                                    "I know.  I feel the same way.  I was really looking 
                                    forward to spending some time in the sun."
                                    
                                    "Maybe we still can in a few days.  You're getting 
                                    better a lot faster than I am.  If you feel okay, 
                                    don't stay inside because of me."
                                    
                                    "Mulder, it will be another day or two before I feel 
                                    like doing any sunbathing, and I don't mind staying 
                                    inside with you, really."
                                    
                                    "Thanks, Scully."  He haphazardly patted her arm.
                                    
                                    "Agents, I have your water," Skinner announced as he 
                                    stepped back into the room.  "Drink up."
                                    
                                    Scully took both glasses and put one on the 
                                    nightstand.  "Mulder, don't try to get up.  Let me 
                                    hold this for you while you take a few sips."
                                    
                                    "Too tired to sit up anyway," he agreed.
                                    
                                    Scully held the glass while he took two sips.
                                    
                                    "That's it?" she asked.
                                    
                                    "For right now. Need to sleep."
                                    
                                    "All right, I'm going to put it on the nightstand.  
                                    Be sure to drink more when you're ready."
                                    
                                    "I will.  Thanks Scully, Skinner.  Sorry, I woke 
                                    you."
                                    
                                    "That's okay.  Give a shout if you need to get up 
                                    again," Skinner directed.
                                    
                                    "Okay."
                                    
                                    "Scully, let's get out of here and let him rest.  
                                    Don't forget your water."
                                    
                                    Mulder's eyes were already closed as Scully and 
                                    Skinner quietly left the room.  Once they were in the 
                                    living area, Scully took a seat in the armchair and 
                                    began to sip her water.
                                    
                                    "How do you think he's doing, Scully?  Should we be 
                                    concerned about his continued weakness?"
                                    
                                    "Well, I'd feel better if he seemed to be gaining his 
                                    strength back, but we have to remember how ill he was 
                                    just twenty-four hours ago.  It's going to take some 
                                    time.  We have to be careful not to rush him."
                                    
                                    "I'm just not used to seeing him like this.  I'm 
                                    afraid I'm not a very good nurse."
                                    
                                    "You're doing just fine, sir," Scully encouraged.  
                                    "You're doing all you can.  You need to get back to 
                                    sleep.  You have a busy day today."
                                    
                                    "Yes, I do and you need to get some more rest too."
                                    
                                    "I'm afraid you're right.  I am pretty tired."
                                    
                                    "The nurse should be here by 8:30 and Dr. Lamas wants 
                                    to examine you two again. She will leave orders for 
                                    the nurse.  I'll try to be up by 6:30 or 7:00 to 
                                    check on you two and get ready for the day."
                                    
                                    "Sounds like a plan," Scully agreed wearily, getting 
                                    up slowly from the chair.  "I'll see you in a few 
                                    hours then."
                                    
                                    When Dr. Lamas arrived at 8:00 AM, Skinner greeted 
                                    her and filled her in on her two patients.  She 
                                    examined Scully first and was pleased with her 
                                    progress.  She even gave her the okay for a switch to 
                                    a bland diet.
                                    
                                    Mulder was sleeping restlessly when she entered his 
                                    room, followed by an anxious Scully.  Scully sat on 
                                    the side of his bed and gently shook his left 
                                    shoulder.
                                    
                                    "Mm?"
                                    
                                    "Mulder, Dr. Lamas is here and she wants to examine 
                                    you."
                                    
                                    "Morning already?" he asked, rubbing his eyes.
                                    
                                    "Yes, you slept like a log after you drank the water.  
                                    You need to drink a little more when Dr. Lamas is 
                                    finished."
                                    
                                    "I'll try," he promised.  "Morning, Dr. Lamas."
                                    
                                    "Good morning to you too, Mr. Mulder.  How are you 
                                    today?"
                                    
                                    Scully gave him a look that let him know he needed to 
                                    tell the truth.  He groaned inwardly.
                                    
                                    "Honestly, I don't feel all that great," Mulder 
                                    ground out.  He was shocked at how exhausted he 
                                    sounded even to himself.
                                    
                                    "Well, let's see what's going on, shall we?"
                                    
                                    The doctor opened her bag, taking out her stethoscope 
                                    and an aural thermometer.  She put the thermometer in 
                                    Mulder's right ear, a concerned expression on her 
                                    face as she studied the read out when she removed it.  
                                    "100.4," she announced.  "That's up a little from 
                                    last night.  Okay, I'd like to listen to your heart 
                                    and lungs.  Dr. Scully, could you help him sit up 
                                    please?"
                                    
                                    Scully helped him to a sitting position.  The pain it 
                                    caused was evident in the way his face tensed up.
                                    
                                    "Stomach muscles not any better?"  The doctor slid 
                                    the cold bell of the stethoscope under his t-shirt.
                                    
                                    "Not that I can tell," Mulder answered, wincing at 
                                    the contact.
                                    
                                    The doctor took her time listening to his heart and 
                                    lungs and then took his pulse.  Scully continued to 
                                    hold him up and rubbed his back in a reassuring 
                                    gesture.
                                    
                                    "Well?" Mulder asked, the examination exhausting him 
                                    further.  He just wanted to be left alone.
                                    
                                    "I'm afraid I don't see a lot of improvement yet, so 
                                    it's going to take some time.  I'd like to draw some 
                                    blood and send it to a lab.  I want to check your 
                                    electrolytes and your white blood count."
                                    
                                    Scully had been listening to every word.  "Do you 
                                    suspect a secondary infection?"
                                    
                                    "I want to rule that out.  In the meantime, continue 
                                    on water only until lunchtime, and then you can try 
                                    some broth and jello.  Continue the bed rest.  I'm 
                                    going to give you another injection of Demerol and 
                                    Phenergan and I'll leave the bottles with 
                                    instructions for the nurse to inject you every four 
                                    hours if needed.  Any questions?"
                                    
                                    "How long do you think I'll have to stay in bed?" 
                                    Mulder asked in a tiny voice that worried Scully.
                                    
                                    "If you don't have a problem keeping the broth and 
                                    jello down, I'm hoping that you can begin to sit up 
                                    for short periods this evening.  To tell the truth, 
                                    Mr. Mulder, it will probably be at least a week, 
                                    maybe more, before you completely regain your 
                                    strength," Dr. Lamas smiled confidently as she packed 
                                    up her bag.
                                    
                                    "Damn!  That long?"
                                    
                                    "Yes, I'm afraid so.  I wouldn't recommend traveling 
                                    for at least a week either.  If you push it, you'll 
                                    just have a relapse and end up in the hospital for 
                                    several days at the very least."
                                    
                                    "Listen to her, Mulder," Scully emphasized, helping 
                                    him lie down again.
                                    
                                    "All right, Scully, I promise not to push it."  He 
                                    settled back slowly on the pillows while Scully made 
                                    him comfortable, enjoying her care despite his 
                                    exhausted state.  He blew out a weary breath.
                                    
                                    "I'm glad you want to cooperate, Mr. Mulder.  I can 
                                    see that we're tiring you.  Let me get that blood 
                                    drawn and give you the injection.  After that, I want 
                                    you to drink some water, then rest."
                                    
                                    A few minutes later Dr. Lamas and Scully left 
                                    Mulder's room.  Skinner was in the living room going 
                                    over his notes.  "How's he doing?" he queried as 
                                    Scully took a seat on the couch next to him.
                                    
                                    "I'm a bit concerned," the doctor stated.  "I'm 
                                    leaving directions for the nurse to take his 
                                    temperature hourly and I'll also leave some Tylenol 
                                    suppositories in the event it goes over 101.  I drew 
                                    some blood that I will send to a lab as soon as I 
                                    leave here.  I'll get back to you as soon as I get 
                                    the results."
                                    
                                    "What about his pain?" Skinner asked.
                                    
                                    "It is still quite intense.  I'm leaving enough 
                                    medication so that the nurse can inject him 
                                    throughout the day, as he needs it.  I'll be back to 
                                    check on him around 6PM.  Dr. Scully, I'll write all 
                                    of the directions for the nurse, but don't hesitate 
                                    to call me if you think his condition warrants it."
                                    
                                    "I will.  Thank you."
                                    
                                    "Dr. Scully, you need to take care of yourself too.  
                                    You are doing quite well, but you must not push 
                                    yourself.  I know you're concerned about him, but  
                                    please let the nurse attend to Mr. Mulder."
                                    
                                    "She's right, Scully.  Don't wear yourself out trying 
                                    to take care of Mulder," Skinner ordered, sternly.
                                    
                                    "I don't intend to wear myself out, but I would like 
                                    to check on him from time to time," she huffed.
                                    
                                    "We're not asking you to ignore him.  Just let the 
                                    nurse do her job," Skinner said gently, realizing 
                                    that he'd been too harsh before.
                                    
                                    "I will."
                                    
                                    "I'll be back at around 6:00 then," Dr. Lamas said as 
                                    she walked to the refrigerator.
                                    
                                    XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
                                    
                                    The nurse had been there for two hours and had 
                                    already threatened to quit twice.  Scully decided 
                                    that it might be time for a prolonged visit to 
                                    Mulder's bedside.  She found a new tube of Chap Stick 
                                    and fixed some ice water.  After taking a deep 
                                    breath, she entered Mulder's room.
                                    
                                    "Thank goodness it's you, Scully," Mulder enthused as 
                                    he breathed a sigh of relief.  "Where's Nurse 
                                    Ratchett?"
                                    
                                    "The last time I saw Mrs. Waters, she was eying the 
                                    wet bar, trying to decide if it was too early to have 
                                    a stiff drink.  She's already threatened to quit.  
                                    What do you have to say for yourself?"
                                    
                                    "I'm sorry, but I just don't feel like having that 
                                    damned thermometer jammed into my ear every hour on 
                                    the freaking hour."
                                    
                                    "I saw a nice, big rectal thermometer in her bag.  I 
                                    wouldn't push my luck, Mulder," Scully chuckled.
                                    
                                    "Too late.  I've already been threatened with her 
                                    devices of torture."
                                    
                                    "Why does that not surprise me?  I have a new tube of 
                                    Chap Stick here and I thought you might be able to 
                                    use it."
                                    
                                    "Thanks, Scully.  My lips are really cracked."
                                    
                                    "A side effect of dehydration.  So, are you feeling 
                                    any better?"
                                    
                                    "Honestly, no.  Is that iced water?"
                                    
                                    "Yes, just for you."  Scully handed him the frosty 
                                    glass.
                                    
                                    "You're going to spoil me if you aren't careful."  He 
                                    gave her a half smile and took a sip. "Mm, good and 
                                    cold."
                                    
                                    "Maybe you need a little TLC."
                                    
                                    "What did you have in mind?" Mulder asked, waggling 
                                    his eyebrows.
                                    
                                    "Mulder . . ."
                                    
                                    "Sorry."
                                    
                                    "What I had in mind was helping you get washed up and 
                                    into some clean clothes.  You've been wearing the 
                                    same thing for a day and a half and I just thought it 
                                    might make you feel a little better."
                                    
                                    "I can't take a shower?"
                                    
                                    "Not as weak as you are."
                                    
                                    "I guess I'll have to settle for what I can get.  A 
                                    bed bath sounds great," Mulder stated.  Actually he 
                                    was glad he didn't have to take a shower.  There was 
                                    no way he'd be able to stand up long enough to 
                                    actually get clean and toweled off.
                                    
                                    "I'll get Mrs. Waters to fix some water, then I'll 
                                    try to find something comfortable for you to wear in 
                                    bed."
                                    
                                    "I think I have another pair of sweats and some 
                                    shorts in my bag.  I should have a couple of t-shirts 
                                    too."
                                    
                                    "All right.  Let me get Mrs. Waters started on the 
                                    water and I'll be right back."
                                    
                                    After helping Mulder with part of his bath, Scully 
                                    waited patiently outside his door while he finished 
                                    up and changed clothes.  When he indicated he was 
                                    decent again, she went back into his room.  "Better?"
                                    
                                    "Well, cleaner anyway.  Thanks, Scully."
                                    
                                    "You're welcome.  Now, you need to drink some more 
                                    water and rest a little more.  It will be time for 
                                    Mrs. Waters to take your temperature again pretty 
                                    soon."
                                    
                                    "Oh, joy.  Couldn't you take it and give her the 
                                    results?"
                                    
                                    "Nope.  I think one of us needs to stay on her good 
                                    side.  She was giving me the evil eye while I was 
                                    helping you, so I think I'd better go back to my room 
                                    like a good little patient and rest a bit too."
                                    
                                    "I'm sorry, Scully," he sighed.  "Don't wear yourself 
                                    out over me."
                                    
                                    "I'm not, Mulder.  I'm feeling much better now," she 
                                    assured him. "But I do get a little tired from time 
                                    to time, so I'm going to take the doctor's advice and 
                                    sleep for a while."
                                    
                                    "Will you eat lunch with me, such as it is?"
                                    
                                    "I had already planned on it," she smiled, ruffling 
                                    his now clean hair.
                                    
                                    "Great.  You know where to find me," he grinned back.
                                    
                                    "Finally, a little smile.  You must be feeling 
                                    better," Scully said happily as she headed for the 
                                    door.  "See ya, later."
                                    
                                    As soon as Scully left, Mulder lay back on the 
                                    pillows and closed his eyes.  He wished he did feel 
                                    better.  He decided not to tell his partner about the 
                                    pains he'd been having in his back from time to time.  
                                    They didn't last long, and they weren't totally 
                                    unbearable.  Maybe he'd strained another muscle.  He 
                                    made himself as comfortable as possible and tried to 
                                    ignore all of the aches and pains that were 
                                    assaulting his body.  Another hour and Scully would 
                                    be back for lunch.  Just being with her would make 
                                    him feel better.  He could make it until then.
                                    
                                    
                                    
                                    End Part 4 
                                    
                                    
The Domino Effect-Part 5
                                    
                                    
                                    Headers and Disclaimers in Part 1
                                    
                                    
                                    Scully followed Mrs. Waters into Mulder's room.  The 
                                    nurse put their lunch tray on the nightstand with a 
                                    disgruntled clatter.
                                    
                                    "Thank you, Mrs. Waters.  I think we can manage from 
                                    here.  Why don't you have your lunch now and I'll let 
                                    you know when we're finished."
                                    
                                    "I just need to take Mr. Mulder's temperature, then 
                                    I'll leave you two alone."
                                    
                                    Scully gave Mulder a classic look, one that told him 
                                    he'd better cooperate or else.  He nodded a reluctant 
                                    yes and the nurse moved in, gently putting the 
                                    thermometer in Mulder's right ear.  "100.9," she 
                                    announced.
                                    
                                    "Mulder, it's going the wrong way," Scully pointed 
                                    out, concern lacing her voice.
                                    
                                    He just shrugged as Mrs. Waters left them alone.
                                    
                                    "Do you feel like eating?"
                                    
                                    "I'll try."
                                    
                                    "Don't push yourself," she cautioned, noting how 
                                    miserable and unwell he looked.
                                    
                                    "I won't."
                                    
                                    Mulder managed a few sips of chicken broth and a few 
                                    spoonfuls of jello.  He put the bowls back on the 
                                    tray and concentrated on his ginger ale.
                                    
                                    "Maybe you'll feel like eating more at dinner," 
                                    Scully tried to encourage him.
                                    
                                    "Maybe."
                                    
                                    "Is the pain bad right now?"
                                    
                                    "I'm okay.  Eat.  Don't worry about me," he answered, 
                                    taking a sip of his ginger ale.
                                    
                                    "I'll have to admit that I'm getting tired of soup," 
                                    Scully sighed.
                                    
                                    "At least yours has noodles and vegetables in it and 
                                    you even got crackers.  Maybe you'll get the go ahead 
                                    to return to a regular diet later."
                                    
                                    "I probably will.  My stomach feels okay now, 
                                    although I'm still a little weak."
                                    
                                    "Ow!"  Mulder put his ginger ale on the nightstand 
                                    and lay down suddenly, curling up in a ball and 
                                    clutching his stomach.
                                    
                                    "Mulder, what's wrong?"
                                    
                                    "Another stomach cramp," he gasped.
                                    
                                    "This one must be a doozy," she observed, moving 
                                    closer to rub his back.
                                    
                                    Mulder shook his head and hopped off the bed as fast 
                                    as he could, which wasn't very fast in his condition.  
                                    "Be right back," he managed to blurt as he stumbled 
                                    into the bathroom.
                                    
                                    "Can I do anything to help?' Scully asked anxiously 
                                    through the door.
                                    
                                    "No, I'm okay.  Be out in a minute."
                                    
                                    When Mulder came out a few minutes later, he was 
                                    paler than ever and was perspiring heavily by the 
                                    time he made it back to the bed.  Just to be on the 
                                    safe side she moved the trash can over within his 
                                    reach.  Not a moment too soon as Mulder proceeded to 
                                    lose what little lunch he'd managed to get down.  It 
                                    was also the exact moment that Mrs. Waters decided to 
                                    check on them.
                                    
                                    "I see lunch was a rousing success," she commented 
                                    wryly.
                                    
                                    "Mrs. Waters, could you get us a wet washcloth 
                                    please?" Scully asked sweetly.
                                    
                                    "Can't get a break," Mulder gasped between heaves.  
                                    "If it's not one end, it's the other."
                                    
                                    By the time the nurse returned, Mulder was sprawled 
                                    out exhausted on the bed.  Scully gently wiped his 
                                    face and turned to the nurse.  She didn't like the 
                                    way this was going at all.  "I'm going to call Dr. 
                                    Lamas.  Mulder, I'll be right back."
                                    
                                    By the time she returned, Scully noticed that the 
                                    wastebasket had been cleaned and placed next to 
                                    Mulder whose stomach was in the process of trying to 
                                    empty itself again.  To her surprise, the nurse was 
                                    sitting beside him, rubbing his back in slow circles 
                                    and speaking to him softly.
                                    
                                    When he was finished, Mulder flipped limply over on 
                                    his back, clutching at his stomach.  "Scully, if I 
                                    ever go near a seafood buffet again, shoot me!"
                                    
                                    "Somehow, I don't think that will be necessary.  Dr. 
                                    Lamas ordered a one-time increase in your pain and 
                                    anti-nausea medicine.  She doubled it, so it should 
                                    make you very sleepy.  When you awaken, she wants you 
                                    to have some Gatorade."
                                    
                                    "No, I hate that stuff!" he exclaimed, his breath 
                                    coming in short pants as the pain claimed him once 
                                    more.
                                    
                                    "She's worried that you'll become dehydrated again 
                                    and a sports drink will replace the electrolytes more 
                                    readily than plain water," Scully explained.  "And 
                                    you really need the calories.  You're loosing weight 
                                    and you don't have it to spare."
                                    
                                    Scully handed the nurse the hypodermic syringe and a 
                                    couple of alcohol wipes.  After she had injected him, 
                                    Mrs. Waters produced a thermometer out of her pocket.  
                                    "I know you don't like this, but I need to check it 
                                    again and then I'll let you get some sleep.
                                    
                                    Mulder scowled but nodded yes and she popped the 
                                    thermometer in his ear, frowning when she saw the 
                                    results.
                                    
                                    "What is it?" Scully was instantly by her side, 
                                    peering over her shoulder.
                                    
                                    "103.2."
                                    
                                    "I just can't catch a break can I?" Mulder moaned, 
                                    grabbing his ailing stomach.  "Damned stomach 
                                    cramps!"
                                    
                                    "I'll get the Tylenol Dr. Lamas left," Mrs. Waters 
                                    said.  "I'll be right back."
                                    
                                    Scully sat down beside her partner and resumed 
                                    rubbing his back until he began to fidget under her 
                                    ministrations. "Do you need to get up again?"
                                    
                                    "No, it's going away."
                                    
                                    "Mulder, all of the medications you are receiving 
                                    should make you feel a little better."
                                    
                                    Mrs. Waters returned with the Tylenol.
                                    
                                    "I'm going to rinse out this washcloth while Mrs. 
                                    Waters gives you the Tylenol.  I'll be right back."
                                    
                                    "What?  You don't want to witness my total 
                                    humiliation?"  Scully ran her fingers through his 
                                    hair.  He was a miserable sight.
                                    
                                    "Mulder, I'm going to ignore that because I know you 
                                    aren't feeling well."
                                    
                                    By the time Scully returned with the washcloth and a 
                                    bowl of cool water, the nurse had mercifully 
                                    completed her task and left the room.
                                    
                                    "Scully, I'm sorry.  I feel like hell and I shouldn't 
                                    take it out on you or Mrs. Waters," Mulder 
                                    apologized, looking close to tears.
                                    
                                    "It's okay, I know. Apology accepted."  Scully wrung 
                                    the excess water from the washcloth and began to 
                                    bathe his face.  "You know, Mulder, I think we may 
                                    have misjudged Mrs. Waters."
                                    
                                    "I know.  She was very nice to me while I was trying 
                                    to throw up my toenails.  I'll say something nice to 
                                    her later.  Could you pull the blanket up, please?"
                                    
                                    "Sorry, but we need to cool you off," she answered as 
                                    she ran the washcloth down his arms.
                                    
                                    "But I'm freezing."
                                    
                                    "Don't worry.  As soon as the Tylenol starts to work, 
                                    you'll be very warm."
                                    
                                    "Promises, promises," he yawned, leaning into her 
                                    touch.
                                    
                                    "Just relax and let the medications work.  You'll 
                                    feel a lot better soon."
                                    
                                    "Glad you think so.  Damn, I'm so cold!"
                                    
                                    Scully continued to bathe him until he relaxed enough 
                                    to fall asleep.  She noticed that Mrs. Waters had 
                                    left the thermometer on the nightstand so she grabbed 
                                    it and carefully took Mulder's temperature.  He 
                                    didn't stir.  She looked at the readout and was 
                                    pleased that it was down to 101.5.
                                    
                                    She headed back to the living area, surprised to see 
                                    Mrs. Waters talking to Skinner.
                                    
                                    "Agent Scully, how are you doing?"
                                    
                                    "I'm feeling much better, sir."
                                    
                                    "Mrs. Waters tells me that Agent Mulder is still 
                                    feeling pretty rough."
                                    
                                    "Yes, sir, I think that would be an adequate 
                                    description."  Scully dropped wearily into the 
                                    armchair that had become her favorite.  "We suspect 
                                    he may be developing a secondary infection."
                                    
                                    "And if he is?"
                                    
                                    "He may have to go back to the hospital for a course 
                                    of IV antibiotics."
                                    
                                    Skinner looked at his watch.  "Lunch break is almost 
                                    over.  We should be winding up by 5 PM.  I'll try to 
                                    get back before Dr. Lamas comes.  In the meantime, 
                                    get some rest, Scully.  I have a feeling we may be in 
                                    for a long night."
                                    
                                    XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
                                    
                                    Dr. Lamas arrived promptly at 6:OO.  "Dr. Scully, 
                                    you're looking much better."
                                    
                                    "Thank you.  I'm feeling a lot better too.  I'm 
                                    almost back to full strength."  Scully motioned for 
                                    her to come inside and shut the door after she 
                                    entered.
                                    
                                    "No problem with the bland diet?"
                                    
                                    "None whatsoever."
                                    
                                    "Wonderful!  I think it would be safe for you to 
                                    return to a regular diet tomorrow.  Try to avoid 
                                    anything greasy or spicy, though."
                                    
                                    Scully smiled as she thought of her normal diet on 
                                    the road.  It was usually either greasy or spicy, 
                                    depending on what Mulder was in the mood for.  How 
                                    she wished her partner felt like eating something 
                                    right now.
                                    
                                    "How is Mr. Mulder?"
                                    
                                    "His temperature has been up and down all afternoon," 
                                    Mrs. Waters reported.
                                    
                                    "Any more vomiting?"
                                    
                                    "No, but he has refused to drink even water.  It's 
                                    all here in my notes."  The nurse handed over a very 
                                    detailed report of Mulder's ongoing misery. 
                                    
                                    "Oh, not good.  His electrolytes were borderline and 
                                    his white cell count was slightly elevated, but that 
                                    isn't unusual in light of the staphylocccus aureus."
                                    
                                    "So, they've determined the type of food poisoning?"  
                                    Scully questioned.
                                    
                                    "Yes, they think it was in the eggs used to make the 
                                    batter for the crab cakes.  Neither the food handlers 
                                    nor the crab meat was contaminated."
                                    
                                    "I see.  Do you think it's possible he might also be 
                                    dealing with a secondary infection?"
                                    
                                    "I don't know, Dr. Scully.  It's quite possible that 
                                    Mr. Mulder might still be fighting the primary 
                                    infection.  He did ingest quite a large portion.  In 
                                    light of the severity of the initial onset, I'm 
                                    sticking with that diagnosis for now.  Let's give him 
                                    another twenty-four hours.  If there's been no 
                                    improvement by tomorrow evening, I'll suggest that he 
                                    be admitted to the hospital."
                                    
                                    "All right," Scully agreed, worry niggling at her.
                                    
                                    "That's on the condition that he can get some fluids 
                                    to stay down.  Otherwise, I'll send him tonight."
                                    
                                    Scully allowed herself a small smile.  "He hates 
                                    hospitals.  Maybe the threat of hospitalization will 
                                    convince him to drink something."
                                    
                                    "Did they deliver the Gatorade?"
                                    
                                    "Yes, they brought it about an hour ago," Mrs. Waters 
                                    supplied.
                                    
                                    "Good.  I'm going to examine him now.  Dr. Scully, 
                                    why don't you stand by with that drink?  Mrs. Waters, 
                                    you may go now.  We'll need you again tomorrow if 
                                    that fits in with your schedule," Dr. Lamas hinted.
                                    
                                    "Yes, I can do that.  Same time?"
                                    
                                    Dr. Lamas looked to Scully for confirmation and she 
                                    nodded yes.
                                    
                                    "We'll see you in the morning then."
                                    
                                    Mrs. Waters gathered her things.  As she opened the 
                                    door, Skinner exited the elevator.  She greeted him 
                                    and held the door open.
                                    
                                    Skinner closed the door behind him.  "Sorry I'm late.  
                                    There were quite a few questions.  Even though the 
                                    two of you did an excellent job of preparing 
                                    everything, I could have used your help.  How is 
                                    Agent Mulder?  Is he any better?"
                                    
                                    "No, I'm afraid not," Scully sighed.  "Why don't I 
                                    fill you in while Dr. Lamas examines him?"
                                    
                                    Skinner pulled his tie off with a flourish and sank 
                                    onto the sofa.  "Sure."
                                    
                                    Dr. Lamas disappeared inside Mulder's room.
                                    
                                    "Would you like something to drink, sir?"   Scully 
                                    opened the refrigerator and pulled out a bottle of 
                                    Gatorade.
                                    
                                    "No, thanks.  I'm good.  Why isn't he getting any 
                                    better, Scully?"
                                    
                                    "We're not sure.  Either the primary infection hasn't 
                                    run its course, or he's developing a secondary 
                                    infection."
                                    
                                    "But, you're almost over it," Skinner pointed out.
                                    
                                    "Fortunately, I'm almost back to normal, but much 
                                    more of the toxin entered Mulder's system."
                                    
                                    "I see.  Should we be concerned?" Skinner asked, 
                                    point-blank.
                                    
                                    "At this point, I'm not sure.  I'll have to admit 
                                    that I've never seen Mulder this ill, other than when 
                                    he battled that virus in Alaska.  He's getting very 
                                    discouraged because he usually bounces right back."
                                    
                                    Scully put the sports drink on the counter and joined 
                                    Skinner on the couch.
                                    
                                    "Has he been cooperating?"
                                    
                                    "For the most part, yes.  He's refusing to drink 
                                    anything right now, though.  He's had quite a bit of 
                                    abdominal pain and I think he's so afraid he'll start 
                                    vomiting again, that he'd rather not even try.  Dr. 
                                    Lamas is more or less going to threaten him with IV's 
                                    and hospitalization.  If that doesn't persuade him, 
                                    nothing will."
                                    
                                    "I see."  Skinner propped his feet up on the coffee 
                                    table.
                                    
                                    Scully sighed, rising from her seat.  "I'm going to 
                                    take this in to Mulder now.  Wish me luck."
                                    
                                    "If you need me as an added threat, just give a 
                                    shout."
                                    
                                    "I'll keep that in mind," she replied as she strode 
                                    across the room and knocked on Mulder's door, then 
                                    entered.  "How's it going?"
                                    
                                    "I think I've persuaded Mr. Mulder to at least try 
                                    the Gatorade.  I've given him another shot of Demerol 
                                    along with some Phenergan, so the nausea shouldn't be 
                                    as intense."
                                    
                                    "Great.  Here you go, Mulder.  I've seen you drink 
                                    fruit punch before," Scully reminded him as she sat 
                                    on the side of his bed, handing him the bottle of red 
                                    liquid.
                                    
                                    "That doesn't mean I liked it."
                                    
                                    "Just pretend that you do."
                                    
                                    "Why don't you get some of that down while I talk to 
                                    Dr. Scully and Mr. Skinner outside?  I'll be back to 
                                    check on you before I leave," she promised.
                                    
                                    Mulder saluted her with the bottle, pulled the top, 
                                    drank a sip and made a face.
                                    
                                    
                                    End Part 5
                                    
                                    
The Domino Effect-Part 6
                                    
                                    
                                    Headers and Disclaimers in Part 1
                                    
                                    
                                    "Dr. Lamas, I want your honest opinion," Skinner 
                                    voiced after they were all seated.  "Have you seen 
                                    any improvement whatsoever?"
                                    
                                    "Mr. Skinner, I can honestly say that I haven't seen 
                                    any improvement.  In fact, his condition is slightly 
                                    worse than 24 hours ago."
                                    
                                    "I'll have to admit that Agent Scully and I are very 
                                    concerned.  Agent Mulder usually bounces right back 
                                    from any illness or injury he experiences.  He's been 
                                    so ill that he hasn't even turned on the TV in his 
                                    room.  That TV is always on, even when he sleeps.  
                                    That just isn't normal for Mulder.  I think you can 
                                    see why we are so anxious."
                                    
                                    "I understand, Mr. Skinner.  I'm at the point where 
                                    I'll have to see some improvement in the next twenty-
                                    four hours or I will insist that he be hospitalized."
                                    
                                    "What can we do in the meantime?" Scully queried.
                                    
                                    "You're doing all you can.  Continue to encourage him 
                                    to drink, and administer Tylenol for the fever.   I 
                                    think tonight could be the turning point. 
                                    Staphylococcus aureus generally lasts from 24 to 48 
                                    hours so we should see some improvement by morning.  
                                    Please remember that it will take several days for 
                                    Mr. Mulder to gain enough strength to even sit for 
                                    short periods of time.  He must not push it or he 
                                    will suffer a relapse."
                                    
                                    "Thank you, Dr. Lamas, for all you've done.  We'll 
                                    continue with what we've been doing and hope for the 
                                    best."
                                    
                                    "That's all I ask.  I've arranged for the nurse to 
                                    return tomorrow.  Dr. Scully, if you feel up to it 
                                    you may start taking short walks or sit outside in a 
                                    shaded area."
                                    
                                    "I had planned to start moving around a bit more 
                                    tomorrow," Scully reported, wishing Mulder could join 
                                    her in the sunshine.  The fact that he hadn't yet 
                                    exhibited his usual stir craziness was testament to 
                                    how ill he was.
                                    
                                    Dr. Lamas rose from her seat.  "Listen to your body, 
                                    Dr. Scully.  Don't push yourself, either.  If your 
                                    body feels tired or weak, then by all means rest.  
                                    It's fine to help with your partner's care, but 
                                    please let Mrs. Waters do most of the work."
                                    
                                    "I'll keep that in mind.  Sir, if you don't need me 
                                    for anything, I'd like to sit with Mulder for a 
                                    while."
                                    
                                    "Sure, Scully," he smiled.
                                    
                                    XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
                                    
                                    "Are you finished discussing my lack of progress?"  
                                    Mulder was propped up on several pillows, eying his 
                                    bottle of Gatorade with distaste.
                                    
                                    "Don't flatter yourself.  Who says you were the topic 
                                    of the entire conversation?"
                                    
                                    Mulder rolled his eyes, sighed, and took another 
                                    short sip of the sports drink.  "Nasty!"
                                    
                                    Scully sat beside him and pulled his hands up so she 
                                    could see the bottle.  "I see you've managed to get 
                                    down some of the Gatorade at least."
                                    
                                    "Down being the operative word, as in, will it stay 
                                    down?"
                                    
                                    Scully pulled him into a hug, and rubbed her hands 
                                    over his back.  He still felt far too warm.  "Have 
                                    faith, Mulder."
                                    
                                    "As far as my stomach goes, I've lost all faith," he 
                                    sighed.
                                    
                                    She hugged him tighter.  "Come on.  Don't get 
                                    discouraged."
                                    
                                    "Sorry, but I'm just not good at being sick."
                                    
                                    "Who is?"
                                    
                                    Mulder handed her the bottle of Gatorade.  "No more."
                                    
                                    "Well, you got almost a third of it down.  That 
                                    should help."
                                    
                                    "Could I go back to water or ginger ale, please?" he 
                                    pleaded.
                                    
                                    "You can have water or ginger ale for the time being, 
                                    but you need to drink some more Gatorade later.  You 
                                    heard what the doctor said and what she threatened."
                                    
                                    "Okay, I'll try."  He slid down in the bed while 
                                    Scully removed a few pillows.  "Why am I so tired?  
                                    All I've done for almost 48 hours is lie in bed."
                                    
                                    "I know," she said sympathetically.  "Dr. Lamas 
                                    thinks tonight could be the turning point.  The 
                                    average case of food poisoning of this type generally 
                                    lasts for 24 to 48 hours.  If you can fight off that 
                                    fever, I think you'll start to see a great 
                                    improvement."
                                    
                                    "I'm trying."  Frustration was evident in his voice.  
                                    "Gotta get up."
                                    
                                    "Bathroom?"
                                    
                                    Mulder nodded.
                                    
                                    "I'll get Skinner."
                                    
                                    "Can't you help me?"
                                    
                                    "Mulder, if you start to fall there's no way I could 
                                    hold you up.  Besides, do you really want me to stand 
                                    by while you do your business?"
                                    
                                    "Uh, no, and I don't particularly care for Skinner to 
                                    observe either."
                                    
                                    "Until you gain some strength back someone will have 
                                    to be with you.  You don't want to add a concussion 
                                    to your list of woes do you?"
                                    
                                    "No, I think I'll pass on that."
                                    
                                    "Good decision.  I'll get Skinner."
                                    
                                    XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
                                    
                                    "Agent Mulder, we've got to stop meeting like this," 
                                    Skinner teased as he entered his agent's room.
                                    
                                    "Couldn't agree more, sir."  Scully helped him swing 
                                    his legs over until he was sitting on the side of the 
                                    bed.
                                    
                                    Skinner reached for Mulder's elbow.  "Ready to go?"
                                    
                                    "As soon as the room stops spinning."  Mulder 
                                    blanched as he waited for his equilibrium to return.
                                    
                                    Scully's face began to show concern.  "Will you be 
                                    able to make it?  I can find the urinal you brought 
                                    home from the hospital."
                                    
                                    "Got to go or start swimming, and I may need to sit 
                                    for a while, if you get my drift, in which case the 
                                    urinal would be useless."
                                    
                                    "Agent Scully, why don't you order us something to 
                                    eat while I stay with Mulder?"
                                    
                                    "Yes, sir.  Mulder, would you like anything?"
                                    
                                    "No.  Just want to use the bathroom and go back to 
                                    sleep."
                                    
                                    "I'll order some jello and maybe you'll feel like 
                                    eating it later."
                                    
                                    "Whatever."
                                    
                                    "Mulder, you ready?"  Skinner reached for his elbow 
                                    once again.
                                    
                                    "Let's do it."
                                    
                                    Skinner helped him stand and everything was fine 
                                    until he tried to straighten up.  He groaned loudly 
                                    and clutched his stomach.
                                    
                                    "Those muscles still bothering you?"
                                    
                                    "Worse than before."
                                    
                                    "Do you need to rest another minute or two?"
                                    
                                    Mulder shook his head no.  "Unless you want to clean 
                                    up a huge mess, we'd better get going now."
                                    
                                    Skinner grimaced with empathy and tightened his grip 
                                    on Mulder as they quickened their pace.
                                    
                                    Scully was gone when they came out of the bathroom.
                                    
                                    "Make sure Scully rests."  Skinner held on tightly to 
                                    Mulder's elbow, as his strength seemed to be 
                                    flagging.  "Don't want her to have a relapse," he 
                                    gasped out.
                                    
                                    "I agree.  One sick agent is more than enough."
                                    
                                    "Tired," he groaned as he collapsed in a heap on the 
                                    bed.
                                    
                                    Skinner helped him get as comfortable as possible and 
                                    arranged the pillows.  "Get some rest.  I'm sure 
                                    Scully will be back later."
                                    
                                    XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
                                    
                                    "Dinner should be here soon," Scully announced as 
                                    Skinner entered the living room.
                                    
                                    "Great.  I'm so hungry I could eat a horse.  Mulder's 
                                    tucked safely into bed.  I could tell that he was 
                                    very tired.  He tends to speak in shortened 
                                    sentences."
                                    
                                    "I've noticed that too.  I ordered some jello.  Maybe 
                                    I can convince him to give it a try when he wakes."
                                    
                                    Skinner sat down on the couch propping his feet up on 
                                    the coffee table, a favorite position.  "What do you 
                                    have planned for tomorrow, Agent Scully?
                                    
                                    "I haven't really made any plans.  I thought I'd play 
                                    it by ear.  I don't want to go far from Mulder.  Do 
                                    you need my help, sir?"
                                    
                                    "No, I want you to take the day to rest and relax and 
                                    get your strength back.  If you're up to it, perhaps 
                                    you could help a little on the last day of the 
                                    conference.  We'll see how you feel after you're up 
                                    and about tomorrow."
                                    
                                    "I'd be glad to help."
                                    
                                    "I don't want to hear that you've spent the entire 
                                    day taking care of Mulder.  Go outside and take a 
                                    short walk along the beach, or sit on the balcony and 
                                    watch the pleasure boats on the ocean.  Mrs. Waters 
                                    is being paid to watch over him."
                                    
                                    "I would like to spend some time with him.  He 
                                    relates better to someone he knows."
                                    
                                    "I understand, Agent Scully. I just don't want you 
                                    wearing yourself out."
                                    
                                    Scully raised her right hand as if taking an oath.  
                                    "I promise I won't."
                                    
                                    Scully and Skinner chatted amiably until their dinner 
                                    arrived.  Scully found the jello and put it in the 
                                    refrigerator, then settled down to eat her own meal.
                                    
                                    After dinner, they watched TV and talked about the 
                                    conference and the seminar Skinner was conducting.  A 
                                    full stomach and comfortable surroundings soon 
                                    relaxed Scully to the point that she dozed off in her 
                                    favorite armchair.
                                    
                                    Skinner gently shook her shoulders.  "Scully, I think 
                                    it's time to call it a night."
                                    
                                    "I'm sorry, sir.  I must have nodded off."
                                    
                                    "That's all right.  Do you need any help getting to 
                                    your room?
                                    
                                    "No, I'm fine."  She stretched and yawned.  "I guess 
                                    I was more tired than I thought."
                                    
                                    "Then you definitely need to get to bed."  Skinner 
                                    offered his hand and she took it.
                                    
                                    Just as he pulled her up, they heard a pitiful moan 
                                    from Mulder's room, then a very weak, "Scully."
                                    
                                    It took the two of them just seconds to reach 
                                    Mulder's side, dreading what they might find.  He was 
                                    curled in a fetal position, shivering.  "Freezing.  
                                    Hurts all over," he gasped.  "Help me . . .please?"
                                    
                                    
                                    
                                    End Part 6
The Domino Effect Part 7
                                    
                                    
                                    Headers and disclaimers in Part 1
                                    
                                    
                                    Scully was shocked and increasingly worried that her 
                                    partner seemed to have gotten so much worse in a 
                                    short period of time.  She was immediately at his 
                                    side, feeling his forehead.  "You're burning up!  I 
                                    need to take your temperature.  Do you think you can 
                                    hold the thermometer under your tongue?"
                                    
                                    Mulder shook his head no.  He was sweaty and 
                                    exhausted, his eyes wanting to close.
                                    
                                    "All right.  Hang in there while I get my 
                                    thermometer."  As she rushed to her room, she wished 
                                    that she had brought the larger aural thermometer on 
                                    this trip, but she really hadn't expected to need 
                                    more than a few basic first-aid items. She quickly 
                                    found it, and returned to Mulder's room to find him 
                                    in the same position, curled up in a ball and shaking 
                                    with chills.  A wave of sympathy washed over her when 
                                    she thought that her normally strong partner had been 
                                    reduced to this poor, pitiful creature.
                                    
                                    "I'll need to put this under your arm," Scully 
                                    explained, pulling his t-shirt up.  "It will take a 
                                    little bit longer, but will have the same result."
                                    
                                    She positioned the thermometer and sat beside him on 
                                    the bed to wait for the results, he hand gently 
                                    moving up and down his spine in a soothing motion.
                                    
                                    "I need another blanket," he demanded through 
                                    chattering teeth.
                                    
                                    "We need to keep you cooled down, Mulder.  I'm sorry, 
                                    but an extra blanket wouldn't be a good idea right 
                                    now."
                                    
                                    "Torturer."
                                    
                                    "Oh, you haven't seen my mean side yet," she teased 
                                    as she ruffled his hair.
                                    
                                    "Don't think I want to."
                                    
                                    The thermometer finally beeped and Scully removed it, 
                                    pulling Mulder's shirt down.  She turned to show the 
                                    readout to Skinner, reminding him to add a degree.  
                                    He whistled when he saw it.
                                    
                                    "How high?" Mulder convulsed with chills.
                                    
                                    "103.6.  Sir, could you get a Tylenol out of the 
                                    refrigerator, then bring a bowl of tepid water and 
                                    some towels?"  Scully asked as she began to tug 
                                    Mulder's t-shirt up.
                                    
                                    "Scully, not in front of the boss."  Mulder continued 
                                    to shiver.  Scully chuckled as she pulled the t-shirt 
                                    over his head.  His arms immediately folded around 
                                    himself as the chills shook him harder.
                                    
                                    "Well, at least you still have your sense of humor."
                                    
                                    "I'll be right back."  Skinner left in search of the 
                                    items Scully needed.
                                    
                                    "Mulder, besides aching all over, do you hurt any one 
                                    place more than another?"  Scully had snapped into 
                                    full doctor mode.
                                    
                                    "My back started hurting pretty bad about an hour 
                                    ago."
                                    
                                    "Can you show me where?"
                                    
                                    Mulder pointed out the area below his ribs on his 
                                    right side.
                                    
                                    "Any burning or discomfort when urinating?"
                                    
                                    "Yeah, but it wasn't too bad."  Scully's skeptical 
                                    brow rose slightly.
                                    
                                    "Any other new symptoms?"
                                    
                                    "No, now can I have my shirt back?"
                                    
                                    "We need to bring that fever down.  I know it's 
                                    uncomfortable, but it is necessary."
                                    
                                    "Come on, Scully.  I'm freezing here."
                                    
                                    She had to smile at his persistence.  That was one of 
                                    the things that made him so endearing to her.  Funny 
                                    that she had been thinking of those little things so 
                                    often lately.
                                    
                                    Skinner interrupted her thoughts when he put the bowl 
                                    of water on the nightstand and handed her the Tylenol 
                                    suppository.
                                    
                                    "I'm going to need a rubber glove.  I should have 
                                    several in my medical kit.  It's lying on my bed."
                                    
                                    Skinner nodded and left.
                                    
                                    "Scully, do you have to put the suppository in?" 
                                    Mulder asked his face flushed from fever and 
                                    embarrassment.
                                    
                                    "It's either me or Skinner.  Take your pick."
                                    
                                    "All right, Skinner's not getting anywhere near my 
                                    ass," he conceded, pushing his boxers and sweats 
                                    down.  "Don't get too excited."
                                    
                                    Scully shot him a look that warned him not to push 
                                    his luck.  Mulder cringed even through his chills at 
                                    the thought that his ass was now vulnerably displayed 
                                    for all to see.
                                    
                                    Skinner arrived with the rubber glove and handed it 
                                    to Scully.  She snapped it on quickly, reflecting her 
                                    years of experience with that maneuver.  "Ready, 
                                    Mulder?"
                                    
                                    "I guess."  Mulder hoped that Skinner wouldn't stick 
                                    around for this little epic.
                                    
                                    Skinner did have the decency to look the other way as
                                    Scully quickly completed the procedure and discarded 
                                    the glove.  "Let's get you turned over on your back," 
                                    she suggested, helping him pull up his sweats.
                                    
                                    When Mulder was once again facing her, he began to 
                                    have another violent chill.  "What's wrong with me 
                                    now?"  Weariness was evident in his voice.
                                    
                                    "I suspect a urinary tract infection.  It's a common 
                                    complication of food poisoning and dehydration."
                                    
                                    "How are you going to treat it?"
                                    
                                    "I'll have to check with Dr. Lamas.  She may want to 
                                    admit you to the hospital."
                                    
                                    "No!  Absolutely not!"  Despite his weariness, Mulder 
                                    was able to make his wishes well known.
                                    
                                    "Don't get all bent out of shape, Mulder.  It's not a 
                                    certainty," Skinner reminded him.
                                    
                                    Scully dipped a hand towel in the bowl of water and 
                                    squeezed out the excess.  As she began to bathe 
                                    Mulder's face she turned to her supervisor.  "Sir, 
                                    could you call Dr. Lamas and see if she could examine 
                                    Mulder right now?"  He's developed some new symptoms 
                                    and in light of the temperature rise I think he needs 
                                    to be evaluated immediately."
                                    
                                    "I'm on it, Agent Scully.  I'll return as soon as I 
                                    can to help you."
                                    
                                    "Thanks."  She continued to bathe Mulder's face and 
                                    chest.  
                                    
                                    "Freezing, Scully."
                                    
                                    "Shh, just lie back and let me do this.  You'll start 
                                    to feel better soon.  Just try and relax."
                                    
                                    "Normally, I'd love you bathing me, running your 
                                    hands up and down my body, but I need to get warm."  
                                    He didn't mention that that was high on his list of 
                                    fantasies, minus the potential hypothermia.
                                    
                                    "As soon as your fever drops you'll warm up.  I 
                                    promise."  She smiled ruefully, sponging his arms and 
                                    chest again.  She was secretly enjoying the physical 
                                    contact, but would have wished for better 
                                    circumstances.  She knew Mulder despised being ill.
                                    
                                    Skinner returned with the news that Dr. Lamas would 
                                    be there in around ten minutes.  "What do you want me 
                                    to do?"
                                    
                                    "You can refresh the towels as I hand then to you."
                                    
                                    "All right.  I think I can handle that."
                                    
                                    For the next ten minutes they worked between them to 
                                    bring Mulder's temperature down.  He was shaking like 
                                    a leaf and getting quite testy at their 
                                    ministrations.  Scully felt mean for having to put 
                                    him through this distress, but it was important to 
                                    keep it going.  She could tell that her boss was 
                                    concerned too.  There was a knock and Skinner left to 
                                    answer the door.
                                    
                                    "That must be Dr. Lamas.  Let's take your temp again 
                                    while she's making her way in here, partner."
                                    
                                    "Still cold," Mulder complained as Scully put the 
                                    thermometer back under his arm.
                                    
                                    ""What's going on, Mr. Mulder?" the doctor asked as 
                                    she breezed into the room, coming over to sit by him 
                                    on the bed.
                                    
                                    "They're trying to freeze me to death.  Help."
                                    
                                    Scully rolled her eyes as she removed the thermometer
                                    from under her partner's arm.  She looked at the 
                                    read-out and handed it to the doctor.
                                    
                                    "103."
                                    
                                    "That's down 6/10ths of a degree in the last 10 
                                    minutes."
                                    
                                    "Mr. Mulder, I understand you've developed some new 
                                    symptoms?"
                                    
                                    "Yeah," he answered dejectedly.
                                    
                                    Scully took over for him.  "He's developed pain and 
                                    burning with urination and some back pain."
                                    
                                    "I'd like to examine you more thoroughly and ask you 
                                    some questions.  Would you like your friends to stay, 
                                    or should I ask them to leave?"
                                    
                                    "They might as well stay.  It'll save you the trouble 
                                    of explaining it twice."  His embarrassment was 
                                    complete now, anyway.
                                    
                                    When she finally finished her examination, Dr. Lamas 
                                    once again sat beside Mulder on the side of the bed.  
                                    "Well, we have two options.  The first one is the one 
                                    that I prefer, and that is to admit you to the 
                                    hospital.  With a course of IV antibiotics and 
                                    fluids, I think we can have you back on your feet in 
                                    a few days."
                                    
                                    The look on Mulder's face expressed his displeasure 
                                    with that option.
                                    
                                    "The other option would require taking blood and 
                                    urine samples and sending them off for analysis.  In 
                                    the meantime, we can treat the symptoms and start you 
                                    on broad spectrum antibiotics."
                                    
                                    Mulder didn't comment for a few seconds then asked a 
                                    question.  "Which option will get me well the 
                                    fastest?"
                                    
                                    "Hospitalization," they all answered in unison.
                                    
                                    "Okay, Doc.  Make the arrangements," he sighed.
                                    
                                    "You're making the best decision, Mr. Mulder," the 
                                    doctor assured him, patting his hand.
                                    
                                    "Do you think they'll let me have a blanket?" he 
                                    shivered.
                                    
                                    "I'm not making any promises," she chuckled and 
                                    grinned up at Scully who had a similar smirk on her 
                                    face.  "If you'll excuse me I'll call the hospital 
                                    and set things in motion."  She got up from her 
                                    position beside Mulder.  "I'll be back in a few 
                                    minutes with the details."
                                    
                                    As soon as she left, Scully began gathering the 
                                    things that Mulder might need for the next few days.
                                    
                                    "Let's see about getting you dressed."  Skinner began 
                                    looking around for his agent's socks and shoes while 
                                    Scully laid out some clean clothes and Mulder's carry 
                                    on flight bag.
                                    
                                    "Could someone find my coat?"  Mulder continued to 
                                    shiver, hugging his arms to his chest.
                                    
                                    Between the two of them, they quickly had Mulder 
                                    dressed and wearing shoes by the time Dr. Lamas 
                                    retuned.  "I've made arrangements to have you 
                                    admitted to a different hospital.  I think you will 
                                    find that they have a very knowledgeable and caring 
                                    staff.  I talked to the hotel management and there 
                                    will be a car waiting for you.  Someone should be 
                                    coming with a wheelchair any time."
                                    
                                    "Wheelchair?" Mulder looked horrified.  "I don't 
                                    think so."
                                    
                                    "You weren't expecting to walk?"
                                    
                                    "Actually, I was."  His face remained impassive, 
                                    cluing Scully in to the panic and helplessness he 
                                    felt.
                                    
                                    "Take the wheelchair, Mulder," Skinner ordered.  "I 
                                    don't particularly feel like catching you when you 
                                    pass out."
                                    
                                    "He's right, Mulder."  Scully sat on the bed beside 
                                    him and rubbed his back.  "Listen to him."
                                    
                                    "Scully, you weren't planning on accompanying us were 
                                    you?" Skinner inquired.
                                    
                                    "Well, yes, I was."
                                    
                                    "I'll get him admitted and stay with him until he's 
                                    settled in."
                                    
                                    "But . . ."
                                    
                                    Mulder noted that Scully was about to start an 
                                    argument with Skinner and stopped her in mid-
                                    sentence.  As much as he wanted her company, he was 
                                    concerned that she too had been sick and needed to 
                                    rest after the past few rough days of that, and 
                                    looking after him.  He wasn't a good patient at the 
                                    best of times, and besides, this whole thing was his 
                                    fault. "Listen to him, Scully.  You still need to 
                                    rest.  I'll be in good hands with Skinner."
                                    
                                    "All right, but I intend to be there first thing in 
                                    the morning to see how you're doing."  She gave him a 
                                    resigned, sad smile, taking his hand and squeezing 
                                    it.
                                    
                                    "We'll discuss that when I return," Skinner decided.
                                    
                                    "No, sir.  There will be no discussion.  I believe I 
                                    was going to take one more day to do as I liked in 
                                    order to get my legs back under me, and that is the 
                                    way I intend to spend it."
                                    
                                    Skinner remained silent for a minute, thinking it 
                                    over. "All right.  I can see that arguing with you 
                                    would be futile."
                                    
                                    Mulder nodded his affirmation as he continued to 
                                    shiver.  He squeezed Scully's hand back, giving her 
                                    the best smile he could manage.  His bravery was all 
                                    for her benefit.
                                    
                                    Scully smiled back, hiding the fact that she was 
                                    secretly frightened to see him so ill.  She would 
                                    miss not being by his side, being there to hold his 
                                    hand as she so often did at his hospital bedside.  It 
                                    didn't feel right that he would be going without her.  
                                    It almost broke her heart and despite his strong 
                                    reassuring smile that he would be okay with this, she 
                                    knew he had to be dying inside.
                                    
                                    The doorbell rang, signaling the arrival of the 
                                    wheelchair. 
                                    
                                    Mulder took a deep breath while continuing to shiver, 
                                    as Skinner helped him into the chair.  His eyes 
                                    unbearably sad, a myriad of unspoken emotions passed 
                                    between Scully and him as they looked at each other.  
                                    Mulder waved a weak good-bye and was gone, leaving 
                                    Scully to say a silent prayer for his recovery.
                                    
                                    
                                    End Part 7
                                    
                                    
The Domino Effect-Part 8
                                    
                                    
                                    Headers and disclaimers in part 1
                                    
                                    
                                    The trip to the hospital was very hard on Mulder.  
                                    Every time his body was racked with chills, his 
                                    stomach muscles complained mightily.  By the time the 
                                    car pulled up to the emergency entrance, he was on 
                                    the verge of losing consciousness.  The transfer from 
                                    the car to the gurney didn't even pull him from his 
                                    stupor.  Skinner looked on, growing more worried by 
                                    the second.
                                    
                                    The attendants took him straight to an examining 
                                    room, while Skinner was left to deal with the 
                                    admitting process.  The AD fervently wished Scully 
                                    could have been there in his place.  Mulder coped so 
                                    much better when she was with him at times like this.
                                    
                                    By the time the AD was allowed into the examining 
                                    room, Mulder's clothes had been replaced with a 
                                    hospital gown, an IV had been inserted and he was 
                                    hooked up to the standard monitoring equipment.  He 
                                    looked dreadful and it didn't take a doctor to note 
                                    that his heart monitor was reading a rather worrying 
                                    elevated rate.
                                    
                                    "Well, Agent Mulder.  Here we are again."
                                    
                                    "Where's Scully?" Mulder asked weakly.  "Need her."  
                                    He seemed to be having a little difficulty breathing 
                                    and his lucidity appeared to be failing too.
                                    
                                    "She's coming in the morning, Mulder.  She needs to 
                                    get a good night's sleep," Skinner explained gently.
                                    
                                    "What happened?  How did I get here?  You're sure 
                                    Scully's not hurt?"
                                    
                                    "She's fine, Mulder.  You've both been ill.  Don't 
                                    you remember?"  Skinner was a bit taken aback at his 
                                    agent's confused condition.
                                    
                                    "Um, not sure.  Feel sick though.  So cold," he 
                                    shivered.  "Can I have a blanket?"
                                    
                                    Skinner looked to the nurse who was writing in 
                                    Mulder's chart.  "Mr. Mulder, remember I told you 
                                    that you have a very high fever?  We need to cool you 
                                    down, not warm you up."
                                    
                                    "I'll just get it myself," he decided, attempting to 
                                    get up. 
                                    
                                    "Easy, Mulder!" Skinner warned, gently pushing him 
                                    back.  He noted with alarm that Mulder's monitor was 
                                    starting to sound most unhappy at the exertion he was 
                                    creating by his movements.
                                    
                                    "Mr. Mulder, you need to stay in bed or else we'll 
                                    have to use restraints.  Do you understand?"
                                    
                                    "Uh-huh, but I'm so cold."  He sounded almost like a 
                                    little boy as he tried to curl up into a tight ball.
                                    
                                    "We're trying to make you more comfortable, Mr. 
                                    Mulder.  I just put some nice medicine in your IV.  
                                    It should start to make you feel better pretty soon."
                                    
                                    "Just want to get warm," he mumbled as he dozed off.
                                    
                                    "The doctor ordered a sedative," the nurse explained.  
                                    "His temp is close to 105.  We're going to give him a 
                                    tepid bath now and try to keep him as comfortable as 
                                    possible while they get his room ready upstairs."
                                    
                                    The doctor breezed into the room.  "I'm Doctor 
                                    Kensington."  He offered his hand to Skinner
                                    
                                    "Walter Skinner.  I'm Agent Mulder's supervisor," 
                                    Skinner informed him as they shook hands.
                                    
                                    "We're going to get some lab work done here in the ER 
                                    and then we'll be sending him upstairs as soon as 
                                    they're ready for him."
                                    
                                    "Any idea what we might be dealing with?"
                                    
                                    "Dr. Lamas suspects a kidney infection, and my 
                                    preliminary exam agrees with that.  We're going to 
                                    insert a catheter, get a urine sample and take some 
                                    blood for a complete work-up.  After we get the 
                                    results we'll know a little more about how to treat 
                                    him."
                                    
                                    "I see."
                                    
                                    "He's pretty sick right now.  We're going to work on 
                                    getting his temperature down quite aggressively too.  
                                    Will you be staying with him?"
                                    
                                    "For a few hours at least."
                                    
                                    The doctor gave Skinner a knowing look and shuffled 
                                    his feet as he spoke again quietly.  "He'll need 
                                    someone with him until his fever is more manageable, 
                                    otherwise we'll have to put him in restraints.  From 
                                    what Dr. Lamas indicated, the hotel will be picking 
                                    up the tab on this, so I could call in a private duty 
                                    nurse if you like."
                                    
                                    "No, I'd rather stay.  He needs someone he knows."
                                    
                                    "As you wish."
                                    
                                    Skinner crossed his arms over his chest.  "Exactly 
                                    how sick is he?  I mean will he recover quickly once 
                                    you find the correct treatment, or will this be a 
                                    long, involved recuperation?"
                                    
                                    "Mr. Skinner, right now he's in serious condition.  
                                    His recovery will depend on a lot of factors, but 
                                    let's hope for the best right now."
                                    
                                    "Which would be?"
                                    
                                    "That he'll be up and around in a few days.  Plan on 
                                    a minimum 48-hour hospitalization.  Now, if you'll 
                                    excuse me, I'll get his orders written and see about 
                                    getting him upstairs.  Dr. Lamas did request a deluxe 
                                    private room, so you should be fairly comfortable."
                                    
                                    "Thank you, Doctor."
                                    
                                    As he left, the nurse prepared to insert the 
                                    catheter.  He grinned to himself.  He knew that 
                                    Mulder would really hate that.  He wished for the 
                                    umpteenth time that Scully was there in his place.  
                                    No prizes for guessing whom Mulder would rather have 
                                    holding his hand about now.
                                    
                                    "I guess you'll want me to leave?" Skinner 
                                    questioned, hoping that she would say yes.
                                    
                                    "No, it's all right.  You can stay.  He might feel a 
                                    little more comfortable with a friend here."
                                    
                                    Skinner grimaced as she inserted the tube.  Mulder 
                                    stirred and whispered, "Scully, wait until I feel 
                                    better," then dozed off again.
                                    
                                    That gave Skinner some food for thought.  He grinned 
                                    widely, sheepishly looking anywhere but at his agent, 
                                    and wondered how much was in the office pool at this 
                                    point. 
                                    
                                    The nurse busied herself with recording the supplies 
                                    used and keeping an eye on the monitors. "Who's 
                                    Scully?"
                                    
                                    "She's his partner at the F.B.I. and probably the 
                                    best friend he has."
                                    
                                    "Sounds like it might be a little more intimate than 
                                    that," the nurse grinned.  She winked and her whole 
                                    face lit up.  Skinner grinned back.
                                    
                                    "For right now, that's still a matter of 
                                    speculation."
                                    
                                    "Someone should be here soon to take him to his room. 
                                    Because of his high temperature, Dr. Kensington has 
                                    requested that I remain here until the transfer.  My 
                                    name is Karen Bower," she said offering her hand.
                                    
                                    "Walter Skinner," he answered as he shook her hand.
                                    
                                    "How long have you two worked together?"
                                    
                                    "Around 6 and a half years, give or take a month or 
                                    two."
                                    
                                    "Working for the F.B.I. must be a very exciting job."
                                    
                                    "It has its moments, but it's also a lot of paper 
                                    work, continuing education and management headaches."
                                    
                                    "Sounds very similar to nursing," she grinned.
                                    
                                    "Are you in a supervisory position also?"
                                    
                                    "Yes, I am.  So, what brings you to Miami, Mr. 
                                    Skinner?"
                                    
                                    "Walter, please."
                                    
                                    "If you'll call me Karen."
                                    
                                    "Well, Karen, it's one of those continuing education 
                                    opportunities I was referring to.  Agents Mulder and 
                                    Scully were here to assist me and were felled by food 
                                    poisoning.  While Agent Scully is recovering nicely, 
                                    Agent Mulder has been quite ill."
                                    
                                    "Walter, let me assure you that Mr. Mulder will 
                                    receive the best of care here."
                                    
                                    "If everyone is as nice as you, Agent Mulder might 
                                    actually behave himself."
                                    
                                    She gave him a knowing smile.  "Well, I happen to 
                                    think we have an excellent staff."
                                    
                                    Mulder moaned.  "Can someone turn up the heat?  Damn 
                                    it to hell!  Don't tell me I forgot to pay that bill 
                                    again!"
                                    
                                    "He's really out of it," Skinner chuckled.
                                    
                                    "Poor thing," Karen sympathized as she began running 
                                    a basin of lukewarm water.  "Well, Mr. Mulder, let's 
                                    see if we can make you feel a little better." 
                                    
                                    Skinner was quickly at her side.  "Here, let me carry 
                                    that for you."
                                    
                                    "Thank you.  Let me get his temp again before I start 
                                    bathing him."  After a few seconds she looked at the 
                                    readout on the aural thermometer.  "105.2.  He's hot 
                                    as a firecracker.  They'll probably put him on a 
                                    cooling blanket upstairs."  
                                    
                                    She began to gently bathe Mulder's face.  When she 
                                    finished there, she untied his gown and folded it 
                                    down around his waist, baring his upper torso.  She 
                                    carefully bathed his chest and arms while he 
                                    continued to shiver violently, muttering 
                                    unintelligibly all the while.
                                    
                                    "Are you sure you couldn't at least give him a 
                                    sheet?"  Skinner felt sorry for his agent and wanted 
                                    him to be comfortable.
                                    
                                    "Walter, I wish I could, but his temperature is 
                                    dangerously high.  He could go into febrile 
                                    convulsions, lapse into a coma, or suffer permanent 
                                    brain damage."
                                    
                                    "Stop!  Too cold!" Mulder complained loudly, trying 
                                    to push her hand away.
                                    
                                    "Mulder, calm down."  Skinner moved closer to the 
                                    gurney.  "She's only trying to help."
                                    
                                    "Stop it now!  I'm freezing my balls off!"
                                    
                                    "Mulder, I know you're uncomfortable, but if you 
                                    don't cooperate they will put you in restraints."
                                    
                                    "Where's Scully?  She'll give me a blanket."
                                    
                                    "Mulder, remember Scully has been ill too.  She's 
                                    resting at the hotel," Skinner urgently explained 
                                    again as Karen continued to bathe a restless Mulder.
                                    
                                    "She's sick?  Got to go to her."  He made an effort 
                                    to rise and Skinner held him down with one large hand 
                                    on his chest.
                                    
                                    "Mulder, she's feeling much better.  She'll be here 
                                    to stay with you in the morning."
                                    
                                    "Skinner, what's wrong with me?  Why do I feel so 
                                    sick?"  Tears began to form in his eyes and he 
                                    angrily wiped them away.  Karen grabbed both of his 
                                    hands.
                                    
                                    "Mr. Mulder, you have a high fever.  You've had food 
                                    poisoning and you just don't seem to be getting any 
                                    better, but if you'll let us help you, we'll have you 
                                    up and about in no time," Karen assured him.
                                    
                                    "'Kay.  Stomach hurts."
                                    
                                    "Are you about to vomit?"
                                    
                                    "Don't know," he moaned.  "Maybe."
                                    
                                    Karen grabbed an emesis bowl just in time as Mulder 
                                    brought up mostly bile from his tortured stomach.
                                    
                                    "Sorry," he gasped, collapsing back onto the gurney.
                                    
                                    "That's all right, Mr. Mulder.  Dr. Kensington left 
                                    orders for some Phenergan if you needed it.  I've got 
                                    it right here in my pocket.  I'm going to put it in 
                                    your IV and it should start helping in a few 
                                    minutes."
                                    
                                    "Hate being sick.  Hate being cold.  Need Scully."  
                                    Mulder was panting with exhaustion, his monitor 
                                    echoing his distress.
                                    
                                    "Mr. Mulder, don't you want to be feeling better when 
                                    she arrives?  She sounds like a wonderful person."
                                    
                                    "She is.  I love her.  Gotta tell her."
                                    
                                    Skinner grinned from ear to ear.  Yes, he would 
                                    definitely need to put in a call to Kimberly about 
                                    the status of the inter-office pool.
                                    
                                    "Well, if you want to tell her, let's work on 
                                    bringing your temp down," Karen smiled.
                                    
                                    "'Kay.  What do I need to do?"  Mulder asked, trying 
                                    to concentrate despite the drugs and high fever.
                                    
                                    "You just lie there and think happy thoughts about 
                                    Scully. Let us do all of the work, okay?"
                                    
                                    "Scully's the love of my life.  So beautiful.  Can't 
                                    live without her."  Mulder's last words were slurred 
                                    as the drugs took over and he slid into an uneasy 
                                    sleep.
                                    
                                    "Do you think he'll remember any of this?"  Skinner 
                                    chuckled.
                                    
                                    "I doubt it.  Poor guy.  He's really got it bad for 
                                    this Scully.  I'd like to meet her.  She sounds 
                                    pretty special."
                                    
                                    "She'll be here bright and early, giving orders and 
                                    protecting him like a mother bear with her cub.  
                                    She's an MD in addition to being a field agent."
                                    
                                    "Wow, really?  Sounds like she has the same feelings 
                                    for him."
                                    
                                    Skinner pushed his glasses up on his nose.  It was 
                                    all he could do not to grin like an idiot. "Yes, I 
                                    would say the feeling is mutual.  Say, if you have 
                                    some time to spare, why don't you come up to Mulder's 
                                    room after your shift is over and I'll make the 
                                    introductions all around.  Then we could stop for a 
                                    cup of coffee before I have to go back to the 
                                    conference."
                                    
                                    "Why, Walter, I'd love to."  She flashed him a 
                                    beguiling smile.  Skinner grinned back.
                                    
                                    Their conversation was interrupted as two people from 
                                    patient transport arrived to take Mulder to his room.  
                                    Karen busied herself getting him ready and recording 
                                    his chart notes.  As Skinner followed Mulder out of 
                                    the room, she handed him a piece of paper, folded in 
                                    half.  He quickly looked at it.  It contained her 
                                    name, address and phone number.
                                    
                                    "Thanks," he smiled shyly.  "I'll see you later?"
                                    
                                    "Count on it.  All right, let's get this poor patient 
                                    to his room so he can get more comfortable," the 
                                    nurse ordered.  "Come on, Walter, I'll accompany you 
                                    there."
                                    
                                    
                                    End Part 8 
                                    
                                    
The Domino Effect-Part 9
                                    
                                    
                                    Headers and Disclaimers in part 1
                                    
                                    
                                    After arriving in Mulder's room, Skinner called 
                                    Scully to fill her in on her partner's condition and 
                                    to ask her to notify the seminar participants that 
                                    there would be a two-hour delay in the start time.  
                                    That would give him enough time to meet Karen for a 
                                    cup of coffee and get back to the hotel for a quick 
                                    shower.
                                    
                                    He turned his attention back to Mulder who was 
                                    protesting the use of the cooling blanket, among 
                                    other things.  Mulder wasn't too happy with life in 
                                    general at the moment, and was loudly making his 
                                    demands known.  He wanted the damned Foley out, along 
                                    with the oxygen he was receiving by nasal cannula.  
                                    He had already told them in no uncertain terms where 
                                    they could put the cooling blanket, and he was 
                                    threatening to remove his IV.
                                    
                                    "Mulder, calm down!" Skinner ordered.
                                    
                                    "Why isn't Scully here?  You told me she would be 
                                    here."
                                    
                                    "I just talked to her.  She'll be here after she gets 
                                    some sleep," Skinner explained.  "You've got to calm 
                                    down or they will be forced to put you in restraints.  
                                    Scully won't be happy is she gets here and sees you 
                                    tied down."
                                    
                                    "She'll be pissed at me.  Don't want that."  He 
                                    panted, eyes seeming unable to focus.
                                    
                                    "Good.  All you need to do is relax and let these 
                                    people do their jobs."
                                    
                                    "All I want is a damned blanket.  Is that too much to 
                                    ask?"
                                    
                                    "Mr. Mulder, I'm Nita Ricardo.  I'm going to be 
                                    taking care of you until 7AM.  I have a deal to make 
                                    with you."
                                    
                                    "Deal?" Mulder asked warily.
                                    
                                    "Yes, Mr. Mulder.  When your temperature drops to 
                                    100, I'll get you a nice, warm blanket."
                                    
                                    "Promise?" he asked pitifully.
                                    
                                    "Yes, I promise.  I'll take it right out of the 
                                    warmer and bring it to you.  Deal?"
                                    
                                    "Yeah, deal.  I'm tired."
                                    
                                    "I'll bet you are.  I need to get your vitals and get 
                                    you set up with the cooling blanket.  Dr. Kensington 
                                    said you could have some more medicine to help you 
                                    sleep, so I'm going to put that in your IV now."
                                    
                                    "Okay," Mulder agreed, closing his eyes and 
                                    shivering.
                                    
                                    "Hang in there, Mulder," Skinner said as he stood by, 
                                    wanting to help but not really knowing what to do.
                                    
                                    "Trying."  He wrapped his arms around his chest in an 
                                    attempt to stop the chills.  "Let me sleep."
                                    
                                    "You go ahead, Mr. Mulder.  I'll only wake you up of 
                                    something important comes up," Nita assured him.
                                    
                                    "Good.  Leave me alone," he sighed as he dozed off.
                                    
                                    "I'm sorry, Ms. Ricardo.  I think he's been sick for 
                                    so long that he's lost what little patience he had," 
                                    Skinner said apologetically.
                                    
                                    "The high fever is making him cranky.  It's okay.  
                                    I've seen worse."
                                    
                                    "Will you really give him a blanket?"
                                    
                                    "Sure, if he still wants it.  By the time his fever 
                                    breaks, I'm afraid the last thing he will want is a 
                                    blanket."
                                    
                                    "Very sneaky."
                                    
                                    "Well, whatever works.  His temp is still way up 
                                    there," she informed him  "105.2."  She whistled as 
                                    she considered that, shaking her dark head.
                                    
                                    "What can I do?"
                                    
                                    "For right now, just keep him from pulling anything 
                                    out if he gets restless."
                                    
                                    "Okay, I'll try."
                                    
                                    "I'll be checking in every 15 minutes or so, but 
                                    please feel free to call me if you're concerned or 
                                    have any questions."
                                    
                                    "Thank you."
                                    
                                    "You can pull the couch out to make a bed.  I'll 
                                    bring you some linens when I come back."
                                    
                                    "I hadn't planned on sleeping."
                                    
                                    "Well, you never know.  If Mr. Mulder's fever breaks, 
                                    you might get a chance to catch a few winks," the 
                                    nurse said.
                                    
                                    "I'll keep that in mind.  Thank you again," Skinner 
                                    acknowledged.
                                    
                                    "See you in 15 minutes then," the nurse said as she 
                                    exited, closing the door softly behind her.
                                    
                                    The AD stood beside Mulder's bed and observed him as 
                                    he slept.  He appeared to be resting comfortably for 
                                    the time being.  Once again he was forced to wonder 
                                    why this one man never seemed to catch a break.  It 
                                    appeared that almost his entire life had consisted of 
                                    dealing with one crisis after the other.  Scully 
                                    seemed to be the one bright spot in his miserable 
                                    existence.
                                    
                                    His mind began to think about Mulder and Scully's 
                                    relationship.  The big question was what kind of 
                                    relationship did they have?  They had become friends 
                                    almost immediately.  Everyone knew that the bond of 
                                    friendship was so strong between them that it was 
                                    rare to think of one without the other.
                                    
                                    Many had speculated, sometimes rather crudely, that 
                                    they had long ago gone beyond friendship and had 
                                    become lovers.  Skinner wasn't sure they had taken 
                                    that step yet, but from what he'd observed lately, if 
                                    the two friends weren't lovers yet, they weren't far 
                                    from it.
                                    
                                    That brought about another question.  As their 
                                    immediate supervisor, what should he do?  Should he 
                                    take them aside one by one and advise them to watch 
                                    their backs?
                                    
                                    No, he couldn't see himself doing that.  He had to 
                                    admit to himself that he was all in favor of their 
                                    relationship.  Even as they grew closer, their work 
                                    was still top-notch.  No complaints in that category.
                                    
                                    Skinner turned away from the sick man, determined to 
                                    do the same thing with their burgeoning relationship.  
                                    Yes, he decided, the best course of action would be 
                                    to just turn his back and ignore the whole thing.  He 
                                    wouldn't become involved unless forced into it by 
                                    some unforeseen problem in the future.
                                    
                                    He settled down on the recliner beside Mulder's bed 
                                    hoping that his agent would have a smooth course in 
                                    getting over this illness so that he and Scully could 
                                    have some quality time to concentrate on their 
                                    personal relationship.  Skinner began to think of 
                                    ways to give them the time they needed.  He was so 
                                    deep in thought that he was startled when nurse Nita 
                                    Ricardo came back in, bringing the linens for the 
                                    sofa bed.
                                    
                                    "Sorry, Mr. Skinner," she grinned, putting the linens 
                                    on the sofa.  "How's Mr. Mulder?"
                                    
                                    "He's been sleeping peacefully."  Thank God, he 
                                    thought to himself.
                                    
                                    "Great!  That's what he needs more than anything 
                                    right now.  I'm just going to take his temperature 
                                    again, then I'll leave you alone for another 15 
                                    minutes."
                                    
                                    "No, problem, Ms. Ricardo.  I was just sitting and 
                                    thinking."
                                    
                                    "I imagine your line of work gives you plenty to 
                                    think about," the nurse ventured.
                                    
                                    "You have no idea," Skinner sighed.
                                    
                                    "All right.  All finished.  A little better.  His 
                                    temp's down to 104.  If he keeps this up I may have 
                                    to come up with that blanket," she laughed.
                                    
                                    "Well, let's hope you do."
                                    
                                    "See you in 15," she promised and was out the door.
                                    
                                    "Come on, Mulder.  Keep up the good work," Skinner 
                                    encouraged softly.
                                    
                                    Mulder moaned and rolled awkwardly onto his left 
                                    side, facing Skinner.  "You say something?" he asked 
                                    sleepily, opening one eye.
                                    
                                    "Yeah, your temperature is down a little.  Good 
                                    going."
                                    
                                    "Still cold," he muttered closing his eye.
                                    
                                    "Go back to sleep, Mulder."
                                    
                                    Skinner didn't get an answer as Mulder began to snore 
                                    softly.
                                    
                                    Nurse Ricardo was back right on schedule carrying a 
                                    small bag of IV solution with an orange sticker on 
                                    it.  "The infectious disease doctor that was 
                                    consulted suggested an additional antibiotic, so I'm 
                                    going to hang it and take Mr. Mulder's temp again.  
                                    Is everything still going okay?"
                                    
                                    "Yes, he was awake for a few seconds, but went right 
                                    back to sleep."
                                    
                                    "All right.  I'll make a note of that.  His temp is 
                                    now down to 103.4."
                                    
                                    "That's good news."
                                    
                                    "Yes, it is.  He's beginning to perspire so I'm going 
                                    to get a washcloth and wipe off his face.  You might 
                                    want to wipe him down from time to time.  Try to keep 
                                    him as comfortable as possible."
                                    
                                    "Okay, I will."
                                    
                                    "Good," she agreed, going into the bathroom and 
                                    coming out with a basin of water, a washcloth and 
                                    towel.  "I'm just going to wash his face right now, 
                                    but if he becomes really uncomfortable, you can pull 
                                    his gown down and wipe his chest and back."
                                    
                                    "All right," Skinner agreed hesitantly.
                                    
                                    "You'll do fine," the nurse grinned, patting him on 
                                    the back.  "I'll be back in 15 minutes.  Call me if 
                                    you need me."
                                    
                                    Skinner stood beside Mulder's bed, observing him.  In 
                                    what seemed like no time, the younger man was covered 
                                    in a sheen of perspiration.  The AD wrung out the 
                                    washcloth and wiped Mulder's face.  He moaned in 
                                    response and tried to shift his position, only to be 
                                    stopped by his painful muscles.  His gowm was 
                                    drenched in sweat.
                                    
                                    Skinner decided that he needed to untie Mulder's gown 
                                    and at least make an attempt to make the sick agent 
                                    feel a little more comfortable.  He bathed him 
                                    gently, gingerly dabbing at his fevered skin, glad 
                                    that no one was present to see his awkward 
                                    ministrations.
                                    
                                    He finished rinsing out the washcloth and turned back 
                                    to dry Mulder's back and chest.  He was startled to 
                                    find Mulder watching him.
                                    
                                    "Having fun?" Mulder asked sleepily.
                                    
                                    "Are you?" Skinner countered as he began to dry him 
                                    off.
                                    
                                    "Tons."
                                    
                                    "How are you feeling?"  Skinner asked as he retied 
                                    Mulder's gown.
                                    
                                    "Surprisingly hot."
                                    
                                    "Your temperature is coming down quite well," Skinner 
                                    explained.
                                    
                                    "Don't know what's worse, freezing or sweating," 
                                    Mulder sighed.  "Still tired."
                                    
                                    "Go back to sleep.  You need the rest to heal"
                                    
                                    "Why don't you go back to the hotel, sir?"
                                    
                                    "Can't, Mulder.  I promised Scully I'd stay with you 
                                    until she gets here at 7:00."
                                    
                                    "I won't hold you to that."
                                    
                                    "No?" he chuckled.  "You might not, but Scully will."
                                    
                                    "Sorry sir, you're right," Mulder grinned as he wiped 
                                    a rivulet of sweat from his forehead.
                                    
                                    Skinner leaned over with the cloth and wiped Mulder's 
                                    face again.  "Better?"
                                    
                                    "Yeah, thanks."
                                    
                                    "Try to get some more sleep, Mulder."
                                    
                                    "You too, sir."
                                    
                                    "I will after the nurse checks your temperature 
                                    again," Skinner assured him.
                                    
                                    Mulder nodded his understanding and closed his eyes.
                                    
                                    As Skinner rinsed the washcloth, he noticed that 
                                    Mulder's gown was already soaked through and wondered 
                                    what he should do about it.  Fortunately the nurse 
                                    came in for a temperature check just then.
                                    
                                    "How's he doing?"
                                    
                                    "As you predicted, now he's hot."
                                    
                                    "Actually that's good.  Let me get his temp and then 
                                    I'll take off that wet gown and cover him with a 
                                    sheet.  There's no sense in getting him another gown 
                                    until his temperature stabilizes."
                                    
                                    She inserted the thermometer in his ear and looked at 
                                    the readout as she ejected the cover.
                                    
                                    "It's still coming down.  102.5," she announced.  
                                    "I'll be right back with that sheet."
                                    
                                    Nurse Ricardo returned with the sheet, and then 
                                    spread it over her patient, before tucking it in at 
                                    the foot of the bed.  As she was loosening the ties 
                                    of his gown, Mulder opened his eyes.
                                    
                                    "Well, hello, Mr. Mulder.  I'm just trying to make 
                                    you more comfortable."  She finished untying the 
                                    gown, pulling it down and unsnapping the sleeve over 
                                    his IV.  With one swift yank, the wet garment was 
                                    removed.
                                    
                                    "I think we'll just leave that off for a while."
                                    
                                    "Okay," Mulder said uncertainly.  "Thirsty."
                                    
                                    "I'll bet you are," the nurse smiled as she poured a 
                                    cup of water.  "Let me get a straw for you and we'll 
                                    be all set.  Just take a few sips.  If that stays 
                                    down okay, you can have some more."
                                    
                                    She held the water while Mulder sipped greedily.  
                                    After two long sips he stopped.  "That was good."
                                    
                                    "Well, let's wait a few minutes before you try any 
                                    more."
                                    
                                    Mulder nodded his agreement.
                                    
                                    "Are you still feeling cold?"
                                    
                                    "No, I'm feeling rather warm now."
                                    
                                    "That's good news, Mr. Mulder.  That's because your 
                                    temperature is going down."
                                    
                                    "Can I go home now?"  Skinner suppressed a grin at 
                                    the pleading in his sick agent's voice.
                                    
                                    "Oh, I don't think you're anyway near ready for that 
                                    just yet.  Let's give it a couple of days at least," 
                                    the nurse smiled.
                                    
                                    "More water?"
                                    
                                    "All right.  You can have two more sips, then you can 
                                    have as many ice chips as you want."
                                    
                                    "Only two?"
                                    
                                    "Uh-huh.  You need to take it easy on your poor 
                                    stomach."
                                    
                                    "Listen to her, Mulder," Skinner advised.  "You don't 
                                    want to strain those stomach muscles any more."
                                    
                                    "What's wrong with your stomach muscles, Mr. Mulder?"  
                                    The nurse gave him a thoughtful look.
                                    
                                    "Sore from too much vomiting," Mulder supplied as he 
                                    finished his last sip of water.  "Thanks."
                                    
                                    "You're welcome," the nurse answered, looking into 
                                    the water pitcher.  "Looks like you could use some 
                                    more ice."
                                    
                                    "If you'll give me directions, I'll be glad to go and 
                                    fill the pitcher," skinner volunteered.
                                    
                                    "Right next to the nurse's station.  You can't miss 
                                    it," she answered, handing him the pitcher.
                                    
                                    When Skinner returned, the nurse was waiting for hi 
                                    at the door.
                                    
                                    "Mr. Mulder has gone back to sleep.  He expressed 
                                    some concern that you were missing out on your sleep.  
                                    He said something about a seminar that you had to 
                                    lead.  I promised him I would try to talk you into 
                                    catching a few winks."
                                    
                                    "Thank you, Ms. Ricardo, but I'd rather keep an eye 
                                    on him for a while longer.  I feel kind of 
                                    responsible for him right now with his partner also 
                                    recovering from food poisoning.  She would normally 
                                    be here in my place.  She is much better at dealing 
                                    with a sick Mulder than I am."
                                    
                                    "He knew you'd say that," she laughed.  "Since his 
                                    temperature is going down, I won't be back for 
                                    another half hour unless you need me.  I pulled the 
                                    sofa bed out and put a sheet, pillow and blanket on 
                                    for you.  I'm afraid Mr. Mulder won't rest well 
                                    unless you try to get some sleep too."
                                    
                                    "You're probably right.  I'll lie down, but I won't 
                                    promise that I'll sleep."
                                    
                                    "Suit yourself, Mr. Skinner.  Is there anything I can 
                                    do for either of you before I leave?"
                                    
                                    "No, I think we're set.  Thank you for being so 
                                    kind."
                                    
                                    "It's just part of my job.  See you in around 30 
                                    minutes."
                                    
                                    Skinner put the pitcher on the tray table and pushed 
                                    it where Mulder could reach it easily.  His charge 
                                    was sleeping soundly, so he took off his glasses and 
                                    collapsed on the bed, rubbing his tired eyes.  He was 
                                    asleep within minutes.
                                    
                                    Both men slept through the nurse's next visit.  After 
                                    taking her patient's temperature she pulled down the 
                                    sheet to his waist, gently wiping the perspiration 
                                    from his upper body, checked his IV, adjusted the 
                                    bedclothes and left quietly.
                                    
                                    Sometime later, the AD was awakened by Mulder's 
                                    groans.  He quickly put his glasses on and made his 
                                    way to his agent's bedside.  He observed the heavy 
                                    perspiration coating the man's body.  The sheet had 
                                    been kicked aside, exposing Mulder's nude body to the 
                                    cooler air.  Skinner pulled up the sheet then grabbed 
                                    the wet washcloth and began to wipe his face.
                                    
                                    Mulder opened his eyes.
                                    
                                    "How're you doing, Mulder?"
                                    
                                    "Okay," he answered weakly.
                                    
                                    "I don't believe that for a minute."
                                    
                                    "Can't get anything past you."
                                    
                                    "That's right.  So, how are you feeling?"
                                    
                                    "Back hurts," Mulder gasped, gripping the side rail 
                                    so tightly that his knuckles turned white.  "Hurts 
                                    bad."
                                    
                                    "Okay, hang in there while I get the nurse."
                                    
                                    The older man reached over to push the call button 
                                    requesting pain medication for his charge.  In a few 
                                    minutes the nurse arrived.
                                    
                                    "So, what's going on here?"
                                    
                                    "Mulder woke up with considerable pain in his back," 
                                    Skinner explained.
                                    
                                    "When did this start, Mr. Mulder?"
                                    
                                    "About 10 minutes ago, I think.  It's getting worse.  
                                    Please!  Give me a shot!  Knock me out!  Shoot me!  
                                    Just make it stop!" he pleaded, writhing under the 
                                    sheet.  His face was screwed up in agony.  Skinner 
                                    looked on, alarmed by this new turn of events.
                                    
                                    "Okay, I will, but I need to ask you some questions 
                                    first.  Is it hurting on one side or both?"
                                    
                                    "Right side.  Oh, shit!  It hurts so bad!"
                                    
                                    "All right, Mr. Mulder.  I've got some pain 
                                    medication for you.  I'm going to put it in your IV.  
                                    It should work pretty fast.  Here you go."  The nurse 
                                    slowly injected the painkiller into one of the IV 
                                    ports.
                                    
                                    "Oh, shit!  Gonna be sick!" he exclaimed and 
                                    proceeded to expel the little bit of water he'd 
                                    managed to get down earlier all over his chest.
                                    
                                    Nurse Ricardo fumbled for the emesis bowl stored in 
                                    the nightstand.  By the time she got it under 
                                    Mulder's chin, he was having dry heaves.  When the 
                                    retching stopped, Mulder collapsed onto his pillow, 
                                    exhausted, chest heaving.  "Sorry about that," he 
                                    apologized once he got his breath back.  "Unnh!"
                                    
                                    "Mulder?"
                                    
                                    "Another pain.  Bad!"
                                    
                                    The nurse turned up the oxygen flow up a notch.  "I 
                                    know this sounds impossible, Mr. Mulder, but try to 
                                    relax.  I'm going to get someone to clean you up and 
                                    change your bed while I put in a page to the on-call 
                                    physician.  I'll be right back as soon as I get 
                                    through to him.  Let me take your temp before I go, 
                                    though."
                                    
                                    When she finished she shook her head.  "It's 103."
                                    
                                    Skinner looked surprised while Mulder appeared 
                                    oblivious to the whole thing, able to concentrate 
                                    only on the pain tearing through his back.
                                    
                                    "I'll be right back."
                                    
                                    By the time she returned, Mulder had been cleaned up 
                                    and his bedclothes changed.  "The doctor should be 
                                    here in a few minutes.  Did the medication help any, 
                                    Mr. Mulder?"
                                    
                                    "Not much," he answered through gritted teeth.  "Call 
                                    Scully.  Need to talk to her."
                                    
                                    "I was just getting ready to do that, Mulder, 
                                    Skinner told him, dreading the phone call.
                                    
                                    "That won't be necessary," a familiar voice said from 
                                    the doorway.
                                    
                                    
                                    
                                    End Part 9 
                                    
                                    
                                    
                                    
                                    
The Domino Effect-Part 10
                                    
                                    
                                    Headers and disclaimers in Part 1
                                    
                                    
                                    Skinner swung around, surprised to see Scully.  "What 
                                    are you doing here?"
                                    
                                    "I can't explain it, but I just knew that I should be 
                                    here.  Guess that feeling was accurate."  She quickly 
                                    made her way to Mulder's bedside.  "What's going on, 
                                    partner?"
                                    
                                    "Back hurts really bad."
                                    
                                    "When did this start?"
                                    
                                    "About 15 minutes ago."
                                    
                                    "Any other symptoms?"
                                    
                                    "Vomiting, temp's back up," the nurse answered.  "The 
                                    doctor on call should be here any minute."
                                    
                                    "Scully, what's wrong with me?" Mulder gasped, trying 
                                    to fight the pain.  Even the drugs in his system 
                                    weren't enough to disguise the fear that shone 
                                    through his eyes.
                                    
                                    "I'm not sure, Mulder, but we're going to find out."  
                                    She turned around to face the nurse.  "Have you given 
                                    him anything for pain?"  Her fingers were running 
                                    through Mulder's sweat soaked hair, soothing him.
                                    
                                    "Demerol."
                                    
                                    "How long ago?"
                                    
                                    "About five minutes, Scully," Skinner supplied.
                                    
                                    "Hello," a voice greeted from the doorway.  "I'm Dr. 
                                    Southard."
                                    
                                    "Come in, doctor," Nita invited.
                                    
                                    Seeing how crowded the room was getting, Skinner made 
                                    a decision.  "I'm going to wait outside."
                                    
                                    "All right, sir.  I'll fill you in when we know 
                                    something."  Scully didn't bother to look at him, so 
                                    intent was she in trying to soothe her partner's 
                                    suffering.
                                    
                                    Skinner left the room and leaned against the wall.  
                                    To say that he was concerned would be an 
                                    understatement.  "How much more can he take?" he 
                                    wondered, hoping that for once it would turn out to 
                                    be something minor.
                                    
                                    Who was he kidding?  Mulder and minor complications 
                                    didn't go hand-in-hand.  He just hoped that they 
                                    could figure out the problem, treat it and get the 
                                    poor man back on his feet as soon as possible.  His 
                                    thoughts were interrupted by a gentle touch on his 
                                    arm.
                                    
                                    "Sir?"
                                    
                                    "Yes, Scully?  Do you have any idea what's wrong with 
                                    him?"
                                    
                                    "Well, he has all of the symptoms of a kidney stone."
                                    
                                    "That would explain the pain."
                                    
                                    "Yes, it would.  The doctor is scheduling him for 
                                    some diagnostic procedures ASAP.  We should know more 
                                    then."
                                    
                                    "And what do we do in the meantime?"
                                    
                                    "The doctor has ordered some additional pain 
                                    medication which will hopefully give him some 
                                    relief."
                                    
                                    "And if it does turn out to be a kidney stone?"
                                    
                                    "Depending on its size and location, it will either 
                                    pass or some sort of intervention will be scheduled."
                                    
                                    "Intervention as in surgery?"  Skinner shuddered at 
                                    the thought of Mulder having to go through a major 
                                    operation as ill as he already was.
                                    
                                    "Probably not.  The most often used procedure is to 
                                    break them up and let the smaller pieces pass."
                                    
                                    "Good.  I'd hate for him to undergo surgery in 
                                    addition to all he's already been through."
                                    
                                    "Remember that this is still a preliminary diagnosis.  
                                    We won't know anything definite until the test 
                                    results are back.  Why don't you go back to the hotel 
                                    and try to get a few hours of sleep, sir?  I intend 
                                    to stay here with him."
                                    
                                    "I think I'll stick around for a few more hours.  I'm 
                                    meeting someone for coffee at around 7," he 
                                    explained.  "And this night is pretty well shot 
                                    anyway."
                                    
                                    "All right, sir."
                                    
                                    "I think I'll go downstairs for some coffee.  Could I 
                                    bring you anything?"
                                    
                                    "Some hot tea would be nice."
                                    
                                    "All right, one hot tea it is, then.  I'll be back 
                                    soon.  Don't hesitate to page me if you need me."
                                    
                                    "I think we have everything under control for the 
                                    moment.  I'm going to sit with Mulder, then."
                                    
                                    As she turned to go back in the room Skinner caught 
                                    her hand.  "Scully, I meant what I said earlier.  You 
                                    won't be helping Mulder any of you make yourself sick 
                                    again.  He's worried about you as it is."
                                    
                                    "I'm fine, sir," Scully assured him.
                                    
                                    "I'll have to trust you on that then, Scully."
                                    
                                    "Yes, sir.  You will."
                                    
                                    Scully went back to Mulder's room.  The nurse was 
                                    injecting the additional pain medication as she 
                                    arrived back at his bedside.
                                    
                                    "We'll let you know as soon as we hear about those 
                                    tests, Mr. Mulder."
                                    
                                    He nodded his understanding while she deposited the 
                                    used syringe and needle in the sharps container on 
                                    her way out.
                                    
                                    "Well, Mulder, I must say that you're keeping things 
                                    interesting on this trip."  Scully smiled down at him 
                                    reaching for his right hand.
                                    
                                    "Never a dull moment.  You okay?"  He squeezed her 
                                    hand.  "And how did you know I needed you so badly?"
                                    
                                    "For the last time, I'm fine and I just had a very 
                                    strong feeling that I needed to come to the hospital.  
                                    I really can't explain it."
                                    
                                    "And they call me Spooky," he tried to laugh but it 
                                    brought on another spasm of pain.  "I just worry 
                                    about you," he managed to get out.
                                    
                                    "Well, stop worrying about me and concentrate on 
                                    yourself.  Is the additional medication helping?"
                                    
                                    "No, just made me woozy."
                                    
                                    "Perhaps it will make you sleepy enough to get some 
                                    rest."
                                    
                                    "Scully, what's wrong with me?  This is something 
                                    more than the food poisoning isn't it?"
                                    
                                    "Yes, it is, but we're not 100% sure what the problem 
                                    is yet.  We'll know more after the tests."
                                    
                                    "What kind of tests?"
                                    
                                    "An ultra sound and X-rays with some dye injected.  
                                    You already have an IV, so it won't hurt."  She 
                                    reassured him when he winced.
                                    
                                    "Couldn't hurt any more than this."  He tensed up as 
                                    another pain tore through him.
                                    
                                    "Just try to relax, Mulder."
                                    
                                    "I'm glad you're here," Mulder intoned softly, 
                                    rubbing his thumb across her knuckles.  "I missed 
                                    you."
                                    
                                    "Mulder, it's only been a couple of hours since we 
                                    saw each other."  Scully couldn't help but smile.
                                    
                                    "Doesn't matter.  Even five minutes away from you is 
                                    too long.  I love you Scully."
                                    
                                    For once, Scully found herself at a loss for words.  
                                    She had heard his declaration of love previously, and 
                                    like this time he had been under the influence of 
                                    some pretty heavy drugs.  She stroked his cheek with 
                                    the backs of her fingers, her eyes not leaving his.  
                                    "Get some sleep, Mulder.  I promise you that we will 
                                    discuss this at length when you're better."
                                    
                                    "Okay, but can you just tell me if I have any reason 
                                    to hope that you return my feelings?"
                                    
                                    "Yes, there is hope, Mulder.  Now, close you eyes and 
                                    rest.
                                    
                                    Mulder visibly relaxed, a huge grin on his face.  The 
                                    medication seemed to be helping.  
                                    
                                    Suddenly, Mulder's body stiffened and though Scully 
                                    didn't think it possible, he turned even paler.
                                    
                                    "Mulder?"
                                    
                                    "Scully, help!" he croaked.
                                    
                                    "Mulder, what is it?"
                                    
                                    "Pain, bad!"
                                    
                                    Scully reached over and pushed the call button.  "I 
                                    need some help in here!"
                                    
                                    Mulder was sitting up straight in bed, trying to keep 
                                    from screaming in agony.  Perspiration began dripping 
                                    from his forehead, evidence of the intense pain and 
                                    his effort to hold it in.
                                    
                                    "Mulder, talk to me.  You're scaring me," Scully 
                                    pleaded, holding onto his arms.
                                    
                                    At that point, Mulder could no longer hold it in.  He 
                                    groaned loudly and then began keening out loud with 
                                    the intensity of the pain.
                                    
                                    Two nurses burst through the door.  "What happened?" 
                                    Nurse Ricardo demanded.
                                    
                                    "Another intense spasm," Scully explained.  "It must 
                                    be excruciating."
                                    
                                    "Mr. Mulder, can you tell me where it hurts?" the 
                                    other nurse questioned while Nita adjusted the oxygen 
                                    flow.
                                    
                                    "Back, right side!  Arrrgh!  Help me, please!" he 
                                    cried.
                                    
                                    He continued to sit up straight in bed, his left hand 
                                    gripping the bed railing and his right squeezing 
                                    Scully's hand.  Scully put her free arm around him 
                                    trying to comfort him, but he was past hearing her 
                                    soothing words.  The pain was his entire world at 
                                    that moment.
                                    
                                    Scully's vision blurred as tears began to fill her 
                                    eyes.  "Call the doctor and get his ass up here!  
                                    Stat!"
                                    
                                    
                                    
                                    End Part 10
                                    
                                    
                                    
The Domino Effect Part 11
                                    
                                    Headers and Disclaimers in Part 1
                                    
                                    
                                    Nurse Ricardo set about getting Mulder's vitals while 
                                    the other nurse ran toward the door to track down the 
                                    doctor.  She almost collided with Skinner as he came 
                                    barreling through the door.  He moved aside to let 
                                    the nurse pass, holding the hot beverages over his 
                                    head.  "What the hell is going on?" his booming voice 
                                    demanded.
                                    
                                    "AD Skinner, I didn't see you come in," Scully looked 
                                    ashen with stress.  "He's in excruciating pain.  He 
                                    might be trying to pass that stone."
                                    
                                    "That's a good thing, right?"
                                    
                                    "Not if it's too large to pass."
                                    
                                    Mulder continued to cry out as each new spasm hit 
                                    with increasing intensity.  The pain came in waves, 
                                    each one seeming worse than the last.  Nurse Ricardo 
                                    tried to get his attention.
                                    
                                    "Mr. Mulder, the doctor should be here soon.  Until 
                                    he gets here, I want you to listen to me and try to 
                                    do what I say."
                                    
                                    Her patient was still unable to answer due to the 
                                    intense pain.  His eyes were red and streaming with 
                                    misery.
                                    
                                    "I want you to take a deep breath and hold it."
                                    
                                    "Can't . . .hurts too . . .much!" he gasped.
                                    
                                    Scully continued to rub his back.  "Listen to her, 
                                    Mulder.  It will help.  I promise."
                                    
                                    "Can't!  Gonna be sick!"
                                    
                                    The nurse scrambled to get a basin for him.
                                    
                                    Between the retching and the pain, Mulder felt that 
                                    he was near death, and was praying for a quick end to 
                                    his misery.  "Damn those crab cakes!"  As soon as the 
                                    thought of the seafood buffet came to mind, his body 
                                    went into new paroxysms of pain and gagging.
                                    
                                    The doctor walked in to near chaos.  After hearing 
                                    the details, he ordered a different pain medication 
                                    and told the nurses to get him ready for transport.
                                    
                                    "I want that IVP now!" he shouted and grabbed the 
                                    phone to make his wishes known to radiology.  "Hang 
                                    in there, Mr. Mulder, we're going to get to the 
                                    bottom of this.
                                    
                                    "Can't take much more of this!" he gasped.  "Just 
                                    shoot me."
                                    
                                    "I don't think we need to get that drastic," Dr. 
                                    Southard grinned, patting him on the back.  "Just try 
                                    to slow your breathing down."
                                    
                                    "Easy for you to say," he groaned then managed to 
                                    take a deep breath.
                                    
                                    "Good, keep slowing it down, Mr. Mulder.  They should 
                                    be ready for us downstairs.  Let's just take his bed.  
                                    I think that will be easier all around."
                                    
                                    The nurse started unhooking equipment while the 
                                    doctor unplugged the bed.  "Nita, let's take a drug 
                                    box with us."
                                    
                                    "I'll get that right now."
                                    
                                    In just a few minutes they managed to get Mulder to 
                                    lie back down and continue to slow his breathing 
                                    rate.  When Nita returned with the drug box and 
                                    someone from patient transport, Mulder was on his way 
                                    to radiology.
                                    
                                    After the IVP, Mulder finally managed to doze off 
                                    thanks to a creative drug cocktail that combined some 
                                    strong painkillers and sedatives.  Scully and Skinner 
                                    sat silently by his bedside, waiting for the doctor's 
                                    report.  Fortunately, the doctor didn't keep them 
                                    waiting long.
                                    
                                    "Hello," the doctor greeted them.  "I'd rather Mr. 
                                    Mulder be in on our conversation, but he needs to 
                                    sleep.  He's pretty worn out after that last bout of 
                                    pain.  I see on his chart that you are listed as his 
                                    medical surrogate and next-of-kin, Miss Scully?"
                                    
                                    "That's correct."
                                    
                                    "Then I won't beat around the bush.  Mr. Mulder does 
                                    have a kidney stone.  It has probably been forming 
                                    for quite a while and the dehydration from his 
                                    illness exacerbated the condition, sort of a domino 
                                    effect."
                                    
                                    "What treatment are you considering?"  Scully 
                                    inquired.
                                    
                                    "We'll use lithotripsy and if that doesn't do the 
                                    trick we'll do a percutaneous nephrolithotomy."
                                    
                                    "How soon can you get him scheduled?"
                                    
                                    "We were lucky, Miss Scully.  We can get him in at 8 
                                    o'clock."
                                    
                                    "That is fast."
                                    
                                    "Forgive me, but my medical knowledge is rather 
                                    limited.  Just what does this procedure do?" Skinner 
                                    asked.
                                    
                                    "To make a long story short, it uses sound waves to 
                                    break the stone into smaller pieces, which should 
                                    then pass without any further trouble other than a 
                                    little pain, which should be far less intense than 
                                    what he has been experiencing."
                                    
                                    "He's had more than his share of pain these past few 
                                    hours," Skinner stated.
                                    
                                    "I agree and we will do everything in our power to 
                                    keep him comfortable."
                                    
                                    "And what is the other procedure you mentioned?"
                                    
                                    "It involves a tiny incision in the back.  Once we're 
                                    in, we use an instrument called a nethroscope to 
                                    locate and remove the stone.  I really don't 
                                    anticipate having to do that procedure.  While the 
                                    stone is fairly large, the lithotripsy should be able 
                                    to break it up."
                                    
                                    "All right, Dr. Southard.  I assume I'll need to sign 
                                    the standard permission forms?"  Scully was anxious 
                                    to get everything in order so that there would be no 
                                    delays later.
                                    
                                    "Yes, I'll have the nurse bring them in after they're 
                                    filled out."
                                    
                                    "So, do you think this kidney stone might be the 
                                    cause of all the complications he's endured?"  
                                    Skinner questioned.  He had taken on his 'official 
                                    stance', standing tall with his arms crossed over his 
                                    chest.
                                    
                                    "Well, it has certainly been a contributing factor."
                                    
                                    "What kind of recuperation are we talking about?"  
                                    Skinner continued to question him, very much like he 
                                    would interrogate a suspect.
                                    
                                    "He'll be quite sore from the lithotripsy for a short 
                                    time, but that should be a piece of cake compared to 
                                    the pain he's been suffering lately.  He's still 
                                    quite weak from the food poisoning, so I'd guess that 
                                    he'll need to take it easy for at least two weeks."
                                    
                                    Skinner and Scully exchanged glances, each of them 
                                    thinking that it would be difficult to keep him down 
                                    once he started feeling better.
                                    
                                    "If you don't have any further questions, I'll see 
                                    you after the procedure."
                                    
                                    "Thank you, doctor," Skinner said, shaking his hand.
                                    
                                    After the doctor left, Skinner stood beside Scully, 
                                    looking at Mulder who seemed to be sleeping 
                                    comfortably for the time being.  "Scully, I think I'm 
                                    going to postpone the seminar until noon so that I 
                                    can be here with you."
                                    
                                    "I don't think that will be necessary, sir.  It's a 
                                    pretty simple procedure and Mulder should sleep for a 
                                    while after it's over.  I'll be able to rest while 
                                    he's sleeping."
                                    
                                    "I know that, but I'd feel better if I was here."
                                    
                                    "Why don't we compromise?  I'll call you if I think 
                                    you need to come back."
                                    
                                    He thought it over for a few seconds and reluctantly 
                                    agreed.  "I do expect you to call if there are any 
                                    complications.  Do I make my self clear?"
                                    
                                    "Crystal, sir."
                                    
                                    "Good."
                                    
                                    They went back to their vigil.  After almost an hour, 
                                    Mulder began to stir, his body becoming more restless 
                                    and fidgety as he came to.  Scully immediately left 
                                    her chair to stand beside his bed, her hand 
                                    automatically taking his.  
                                    
                                    "Mulder, can you hear me?"
                                    
                                    "Uh-huh."
                                    
                                    "How's the pain?"
                                    
                                    "Don't ask," he groaned, feeling soft fingers 
                                    stroking his sweaty brow.  "Nice," he thought.
                                    
                                    "Mulder, you have a kidney stone.  You're going to 
                                    undergo a procedure in a few hours that should 
                                    eliminate the intense pain."
                                    
                                    "Surgery?"  His eyes widened at the prospect.
                                    
                                    "No, but you will be under anesthesia."
                                    
                                    "Okay, as long as it works, don't care." he agreed 
                                    then shifted in the bed, unable to get comfortable.  
                                    "Scully, it hurts bad."  Her fingers tightened their 
                                    grip and he squeezed back.
                                    
                                    "I know, Mulder.  It has been described as one of the 
                                    most painful conditions known to man."
                                    
                                    "Tell them they're right.  How did this happen?  Why 
                                    me?"
                                    
                                    "Evidently, the stone had been forming for quite some 
                                    time.  The severe dehydration you experienced didn't 
                                    help matters and the stone finally lodged high in 
                                    your right ureter.  The doctor described it as a kind 
                                    of domino effect."
                                    
                                    "Lucky me," he sighed.  "Oh, shit!  It's starting 
                                    again!"  His body tried to curl itself into a tiny 
                                    ball while the fresh pain pushed tears down his face.  
                                    Scully's heart went out to him, reminding her how she 
                                    hated seeing him in agony.  It had happened far too 
                                    many times.
                                    
                                    "Mulder, listen to me.  Take a deep breath and let it 
                                    out slowly.  Just like before.  Can you do that?"
                                    
                                    He did and groaned with the pain as he let his breath 
                                    out.
                                    
                                    "Do it again and try to focus on something pleasant."
                                    
                                    He complied, shakily.  "I'm trying but it isn't 
                                    helping.  Can I get some more pain medication?  
                                    Please!"
                                    
                                    "Let me see what the doctor ordered.  I've got to go 
                                    to the nurse's station to look at your chart.  Try to 
                                    hang on and I'll be back as quickly as I can."
                                    
                                    "Okay, but hurry!"
                                    
                                    Scully really looked undecided.  She knew that her 
                                    best bet would be to get the nurse to page the doctor 
                                    again to attempt to find a combination of painkillers 
                                    that would be effective, yet she wanted to stay with 
                                    her partner and try to talk him through the pain.  
                                    Either way, she hated to leave him when he needed 
                                    her.
                                    
                                    Skinner rose from his chair to stand beside Scully.  
                                    "Go and see what the doctor ordered.  I'll try to 
                                    help Mulder."
                                    
                                    "Thank you.  I'll be back as soon as I can."
                                    
                                    Skinner took Mulder's left hand.  "Squeeze my hand if 
                                    it helps, as hard as you like."
                                    
                                    "Don't want to hurt you."
                                    
                                    "I'll take my chances."
                                    
                                    "Unngh!  Sorry to be such a wimp," he gasped.  "Worst 
                                    pain ever.  Shit!"
                                    
                                    "You're not a wimp, Mulder.  You're in excruciating 
                                    pain so cry, scream, curse, do whatever helps.  I 
                                    won't think any less of you.  Besides, after a tour 
                                    in 'Nam I'm pretty hard to shock."
                                    
                                    "Don't want Scully to see me like this, but I can't 
                                    help it."  Tears started to flow freely down his 
                                    face.
                                    
                                    Skinner reached for a cool washcloth and gently wiped 
                                    them away.  "Don't fight it, Mulder.  It's okay.  You 
                                    don't have to prove anything to me."
                                    
                                    "Oh, shit!"  He squeezed Skinner's hand until he 
                                    thought it would break.  "Where's Scully?  Shouldn't 
                                    she be back by now?"
                                    
                                    "She'll be back as soon as she finds out what the 
                                    doctor ordered.  Try to stay calm."
                                    
                                    "Trying, but it hurts so damned bad!  Feeling sick 
                                    again," he groaned, panic rising in his voice.
                                    
                                    Skinner held the basin while Mulder tried to vomit 
                                    without success.  "It's all right, Mulder.  Just hang 
                                    in there.  You'll be feeling much better in just a 
                                    few hours if you can just hang on."
                                    
                                    The retching finally stopped and Skinner wiped 
                                    Mulder's face with the washcloth once again.  He sank 
                                    back onto the pillows, his face a deathly shade of 
                                    pale, and his chest heaving with exertion.
                                    
                                    "Trying to hang on," Mulder cried, his voice almost a 
                                    whisper.
                                    
                                    Skinner continued to wipe the tears away as Mulder 
                                    cried silently, trying to work his way through the 
                                    pain.  Skinner felt so helpless, wishing he could do 
                                    more to quell the terrible pain afflicting his agent.
                                    
                                    After a few minutes, Scully returned, with nurse 
                                    Ricardo in tow, who was carrying a small bag of IV 
                                    solution.
                                    
                                    Skinner moved out of the way as Scully took her place 
                                    beside Mulder.  "Sorry it took so long, Mulder, but 
                                    we had to speak to the doctor and then wait for the 
                                    pharmacy to deliver the new medication.  You're going 
                                    to receive a continuous dose of pain medication until 
                                    your procedure.  Hopefully, you'll get some relief," 
                                    Scully explained as the nurse added the bag to the 
                                    ones already hanging on the pole.
                                    
                                    "This is some pretty strong medicine, Mr. Mulder and 
                                    I'm also going to add a little something to help you 
                                    sleep.  The doctor wants to keep you pretty much out 
                                    of it until your procedure."
                                    
                                    "Sounds good to me," Mulder breathed wearily.  "Never 
                                    had to handle this kind of pain before.  Sorry."
                                    
                                    "Mr. Mulder, you are experiencing some of the worst 
                                    pain imaginable and you have handled it like a 
                                    trooper.  You have nothing to be ashamed of.  Now, I 
                                    need to get your vitals and your temp and then I'll 
                                    leave you alone."
                                    
                                    "S'ok, you're not botherin' me," he assured her, his 
                                    voice slurred from the added medication.
                                    
                                    She finished her duties and showed Scully that the 
                                    reading on the Thermoscan was 103.2.  Scully frowned, 
                                    shaking her head.
                                    
                                    "What'd I do now?" Mulder wailed morosely, showing 
                                    his sad, puppy-dog eyes.
                                    
                                    "Nothing, Mulder.  It's just that your temperature 
                                    isn't going down any longer."
                                    
                                    "But, I'm trying," he protested, blinking his eyes as 
                                    he tried to fight off the medication and fresh tears.
                                    
                                    "I know, Mulder.  Don't worry about it right now.  
                                    Just try to rest."
                                    
                                    "Does the medication seem to be working?" the nurse 
                                    inquired hopefully.
                                    
                                    "Mmmm, yeah, think it is.  Scully, there are two of 
                                    you," Mulder answered as he started to drift off to 
                                    sleep.
                                    
                                    
                                    
                                    End Part 11
                                    
                                    
The Domino Effect-Part 12
                                    
                                    Headers and disclaimers in part 1
                                    
                                    
                                    "I'll leave you all alone now.  Perhaps Mr. Mulder 
                                    can get some rest."  The nurse took one last look at 
                                    the IV bags and turned to leave.
                                    
                                    "Let's hope that he can stay asleep for a while.  
                                    Thank you, Nurse Ricardo."  Scully looked up from her 
                                    place beside Mulder.
                                    
                                    "Please, call me Nita.  After all we've been through 
                                    this morning, I feel like we're old friends."  The 
                                    nurse gave her a big smile.
                                    
                                    "I understand," Scully smiled back.  "I'm Dana."
                                    
                                    "And, I'm Walter," Skinner supplied.
                                    
                                    "You know, I don't usually do this, but I'm going to 
                                    stick around after my shift to see how this turns out 
                                    for Mulder.  I feel like I have a vested interest in 
                                    the poor guy now."
                                    
                                    "Oh, Nita, thank you, but you don't have to do that.  
                                    I know you must be tired.  Mulder has really kept you 
                                    on your toes during this shift," Scully protested.
                                    
                                    "I can rest while I'm waiting.  For some reason, I 
                                    feel compelled to see this through."
                                    
                                    "Then, we would appreciate your company," Skinner 
                                    accepted.
                                    
                                    Scully looked at her boss, a questioning look on her 
                                    face.
                                    
                                    "Yes, agent Scully, I've decided to stay here until 
                                    the procedure is over.  I just can't leave here not 
                                    knowing how he's doing.  He's been through more than 
                                    anyone should have to suffer in the last few days.  
                                    I'm getting ready to call the hotel so they can 
                                    contact the participants."
                                    
                                    "Yes, sir, we appreciate it."
                                    
                                    "Why don't you two try to get some rest now?  They 
                                    will probably come to get him around 7:15, so you 
                                    still have about two hours to take a little nap."
                                    
                                    "Thank you, Nita.  We will."  Skinner assured her.
                                    
                                    "All right, then.  I'll be in and out checking on 
                                    him.  Please let me know if you need anything."
                                    
                                    Nita left and Scully pulled her chair a little closer 
                                    to Mulder's bedside.  Inwardly she hoped that her 
                                    partner's abused body didn't pull its usual stunt of 
                                    shrugging off medication that would normally keep two 
                                    small elephants down for a week.  She sent up a 
                                    silent prayer that he could have some respite this 
                                    time, but she knew his system all too well not to 
                                    feel anxious about it.
                                    
                                    "Scully, why don't you lie down until time for the 
                                    procedure?" 
                                    
                                    "I'd rather stay close by his side, sir.  He's so 
                                    heavily sedated that I want to keep an eye on his 
                                    breathing," Scully explained, wishing she could 
                                    simply have the pleasure of watching him breathe when 
                                    his health wasn't in jeopardy. 
                                    
                                    "All right.  I understand.  I'd just be wasting my 
                                    breath if I tried to talk you out of it."
                                    
                                    "You're right about that, sir."
                                    
                                    "You know, I think it would be proper if we used 
                                    first names in this situation," Skinner proposed.
                                    
                                    "All right, Walter," Scully agreed, rotating her 
                                    stiff neck a little.  She was still pretty fatigued 
                                    and hadn't had much real sleep for worrying about 
                                    Mulder.
                                    
                                    "I'm going to go out and make that phone call.  If 
                                    Mulder wakes up, tell him that he'd better get his 
                                    butt in gear and get over this because I'm going to 
                                    insist that both of you take some of that comp time 
                                    you've built up.  I have a time-share in a condo in 
                                    Destin.  It's available next week and the following 
                                    week.  I'd like for the two of you to use that time 
                                    to recuperate from this and rest up, maybe even have 
                                    a little fun."
                                    
                                    Scully looked rather surprised.  "Um, I'll talk to 
                                    Mulder about it when he's feeling better.  He might 
                                    prefer to make different plans for himself."
                                    
                                    "Trust me on this one, Dana, anywhere would be fine 
                                    with him as long as you're there.  I shouldn't be 
                                    gone longer than ten minutes or so."  He left 
                                    quickly, a huge grin on his face.
                                    
                                    Scully shook her head to clear it.  What had just 
                                    happened here?  It almost sounded like Skinner was 
                                    trying his hand at matchmaking.  Now, that just 
                                    couldn't be.  Could it?
                                    
                                    Mulder stirred restlessly in his sleep and started to 
                                    mumble as he tried to pull the oxygen cannula from 
                                    his nose.  Scully grabbed his hand to stop his 
                                    flailing actions.  He continued to mumble as he 
                                    squeezed her hand gently.
                                    
                                    "Love you, Scully," Mulder voiced clearly.
                                    
                                    Scully realized that she was staring straight into 
                                    his open eyes, dull with fever and pain.  She 
                                    dismissed his words as fevered ramblings until he 
                                    squeezed her hand again.
                                    
                                    "Scully, love you.  Love me back?" he pleaded, his 
                                    words trailing off as he slipped back into his drug-
                                    induced sleep.
                                    
                                    "Now, that's strange."  Mulder was under the 
                                    influence of a lot of drugs, but she had a feeling 
                                    that those words had come straight from his heart.  
                                    Could he have discussed his feeling with Skinner?
                                    
                                    That didn't seem likely, but Skinner's offer of the 
                                    condo to both of them was a rather confusing 
                                    coincidence.  "Something's going on here," she 
                                    decided.  "Mulder, I can't wait until you're feeling 
                                    better, because I sure have a lot of questions."
                                    
                                    She realized that she was still holding Mulder's hand 
                                    and made a move to remove it.  Instead, she boldly 
                                    decided to wait for Skinner to return, just to gage 
                                    his reaction.
                                    
                                    She didn't have long to wait.  When Skinner came back 
                                    in she was holding his hand lovingly against her left 
                                    cheek.  Mulder was oblivious to her action, but it 
                                    wasn't lost on Skinner.
                                    
                                    "Any change, Dana?" he asked, trying to erase the 
                                    shit-eating grin from his face, but wasn't entirely 
                                    successful.
                                    
                                    "No, Walter.  He's still sleeping," she smiled back 
                                    at him.
                                    
                                    "Best thing for him.  Are you sure you don't want to 
                                    lie down?"
                                    
                                    "Yes, I'm sure.  I'm quite comfortable here."
                                    
                                    "I think that's good for him too," Skinner commented 
                                    on her open affection for her partner.
                                    
                                    "Well, that pretty much confirmed it," she thought.  
                                    "Those two had definitely been talking."  She sighed.  
                                    "I wonder when Mulder will finally get up the nerve 
                                    to talk to me?"
                                    
                                    XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
                                    
                                    Skinner left for his coffee date with a promise to 
                                    meet her in the waiting room.  Shortly after the 
                                    shift change, Nita came in wearing street clothes and 
                                    carrying two cups of coffee.  She offered one cup to 
                                    Scully.  "I got this from the vendor downstairs.  
                                    It's freshly brewed and is usually pretty decent.  I 
                                    didn't know how you liked it, so I brought plenty of 
                                    everything.  She reached into her pocket and pulled 
                                    out packets of creamer, sugar and sweetener.
                                    
                                    "Thank you, Nita."
                                    
                                    "I see that Walter already had a coffee date," the 
                                    nurse commented as Scully went about fixing her 
                                    coffee.
                                    
                                    "It seems that way.  Mulder's ER nurse, I think," 
                                    Scully answered, blowing across the very hot coffee.  
                                    She inhaled the aroma deeply and realized that for 
                                    the first time in days, her stomach actually felt 
                                    normal.  "Poor Mulder," she sighed as she thought of 
                                    the living hell he was still enduring.  "I wish he 
                                    felt well enough to enjoy this coffee."
                                    
                                    "He will soon," Nita comforted her.  "How long have 
                                    you two been together?"
                                    
                                    "We've been partners for almost seven years."
                                    
                                    "Oh, I didn't mean at work.  I meant how long as a 
                                    couple."
                                    
                                    "Nita, we're not a couple, yet," Scully was surprised 
                                    when she emphasized that last word.
                                    
                                    "Well, what's keeping you?"
                                    
                                    "It's . . . complicated," Scully hedged.
                                    
                                    "How complicated can it be?  He loves you and you 
                                    adore him.  You're made for each other."
                                    
                                    "I expect when Mulder starts to feel better we'll be 
                                    having a long talk about the whole thing."
                                    
                                    "Well, let's hope you do more than talk," Nita 
                                    giggled as Scully blushed.
                                    
                                    There was a knock on the door and soon the room was 
                                    taken over by a crew of people getting Mulder ready 
                                    to go to pre-op.
                                    
                                    Scully and Nita met Karen Bower and Skinner in the 
                                    surgical waiting room.  The female agent had to admit 
                                    that having all of those people with her helped the 
                                    time to pass.  It seemed like it was almost no time 
                                    at all before she was sitting beside Mulder in the 
                                    recovery room, holding his hand again, relieved that 
                                    he was now hopefully on the mend.
                                    
                                    The recovery room nurse said that he had been awake 
                                    briefly, but should start coming around a little more 
                                    any time.  She was right.  In less than five minutes 
                                    Mulder moaned loudly and opened his eyes.
                                    
                                    "Scully?"
                                    
                                    "Right here, Mulder.  How are you feeling?  Is the 
                                    pain any better?"  She squeezed his fingers to let 
                                    him know she was there for him.
                                    
                                    "Um, yeah.  Pain's better.  Still feel like crap 
                                    though."
                                    
                                    "You still have a urinary tract infection, but that 
                                    should start to clear up pretty quickly with the 
                                    antibiotics you're on.  The lithotripsy broke the 
                                    kidney stone into lots of little pieces.  You may 
                                    still feel a sharp pain from time to time as one of 
                                    the larger pieces passes, but I think you might even 
                                    be allowed to get up and try to walk tonight."
                                    
                                    "Too tired," he sighed, rubbing her fingers.
                                    
                                    "That will get better.  You need to concentrate on 
                                    getting your strength back.  Skinner is insisting 
                                    that we use our comp time and he wants us to spend it 
                                    at his time-share condo in Destin."
                                    
                                    "Us . . .together?"  Mulder had a shocked look on his 
                                    face.
                                    
                                    "Yes, us.  I was a little shocked myself when he 
                                    suggested it."
                                    
                                    "I like the idea though.  Oh!"
                                    
                                    "What is it?"  Concern replaced the light-hearted 
                                    talk as his face twisted into a grimace.
                                    
                                    "Um, one of those sharp pains you were talking 
                                    about."
                                    
                                    Scully reached over and pushed a control attached to 
                                    a cord wrapped around the side rail.  "This is 
                                    attached to a pump.  Whenever the pain gets really 
                                    bad, just push the button."
                                    
                                    Mulder shifted his eyes to look at the control and 
                                    then looked back to Scully.  "Okay.  Tired, but we 
                                    have to talk later."
                                    
                                    "I agree.  You rest now.  I'll be here when you wake 
                                    up again."  He leaned into her hand as she stroked 
                                    his face and brushed the hair from his eyes.
                                    
                                    "Good, love you."  He smiled sleepily and then 
                                    drifted back to sleep.
                                    
                                    "I love you too," Scully whispered in his ear, 
                                    feeling her eyes tearing up unexpectedly.  She didn't 
                                    really want to leave him, but got up to visit the 
                                    waiting room and report on his condition.
                                    
                                    
                                    
                                    End Part 12
                                    
                                    
                                    
The Domino Effect Part 13
                                    
                                    
                                    Headers and disclaimers in Part 1
                                    
                                    
                                    The crowd said their goodbyes and went their separate 
                                    ways.  The nurses went home to sleep and Skinner went 
                                    back to the hotel to shower and get ready for the 
                                    seminar.  Once again, Scully found herself alone by 
                                    Mulder's side.  He was sleeping comfortably at last.  
                                    She contented herself with having the simple pleasure 
                                    of watching his chest rise and fall and knowing that 
                                    he was over the worst.  His face reflected a much 
                                    more peaceful look, in contrast to the painful 
                                    episodes he'd had before the procedure.  The storm 
                                    had come and now the waters were calm again.  She 
                                    hoped.
                                    
                                    Poor Mulder, he'd been through seven kinds of hell 
                                    the past few days and Scully was happy that he was 
                                    finally getting some relief.  She hated to see him in 
                                    such pain, this time feeling particularly helpless to 
                                    ease his suffering.  When he was in pain, she 
                                    realized with some clarity, so was she.
                                    
                                    A nurse had been in a few minutes earlier and had 
                                    announced that he had begun to pass pieces of the 
                                    stone.  His last vitals check had revealed that his 
                                    temperature had dropped to 100.  Things were looking 
                                    up.
                                    
                                    In response to his fever breaking, Mulder had begun 
                                    to perspire heavily.  Scully began to bathe his face 
                                    with a cool washcloth, smoothing his damp hair off 
                                    his forehead in gentle movements so she didn't wake 
                                    him.  He'd been so uncomfortable the last few days 
                                    that she would do anything within her power to keep 
                                    him from suffering now.  She carefully untied his 
                                    gown, folding it down in order to bathe his chest.  
                                    She treated herself to a few seconds of just looking 
                                    at him like this, chiding herself the next for 
                                    enjoying the view too much.  She started sponging 
                                    him, barely touching.
                                    
                                    "Umm, feels good," Mulder sighed.  
                                    
                                    Scully jumped back, startled.  "How long have you 
                                    been awake?"
                                    
                                    "Not long, just since you untied my gown."  He gave 
                                    her a dopey leer that resembled his usual self, 
                                    giving Scully the immediate impression that this 
                                    scenario was ranked fairly high on his list of 
                                    fantasies.
                                    
                                    "Feeling any better?"
                                    
                                    "Actually, I think I do, but my back is really sore.  
                                    Goes well with my stomach muscles."
                                    
                                    "That's from the lithotripsy.  Push the button on the 
                                    pump if you need pain medication."
                                    
                                    "I'm okay, just happy to see you.  How about you?  
                                    You feeling okay?"  His long fingers stretched out to 
                                    meet hers, stilling the hand that was sponging him 
                                    off.  She hoped she wasn't quivering too much as he 
                                    gazed intensely at her.  His eyes were full of 
                                    meaning, despite the drugs coursing through his 
                                    system.  Her throat was suddenly very dry. 
                                    
                                    "Uh-huh."  She began to bathe his chest again, 
                                    seamlessly reclaiming his hand in the one that wasn't 
                                    sponging his pectorals, squeezing his fingers in 
                                    reassurance as she did.  "I feel pretty good now.  
                                    Just give yourself a few days and you'll be feeling 
                                    much better too."  She could feel herself starting to 
                                    feel very warm now and hoped that he wouldn't mistake 
                                    that flushed look for lingering illness.
                                    
                                    "I've been pretty out of it, huh?"  His fingers were 
                                    absently stroking her palm as his eyes momentarily 
                                    left hers and flickered to the movements of the 
                                    washcloth over his skin before shifting back to her 
                                    face.  Scully smothered her sharp intake of breath 
                                    with a chuckle.
                                    
                                    "Yes, you've had a rough time of it, especially the 
                                    last eighteen hours or so."
                                    
                                    "Don't remember much."
                                    
                                    "It's probably just as well."  She patted him dry and 
                                    pulled his gown up and re-tied it.  "There, that 
                                    should help for a while."  And a cold shower for me, 
                                    she thought unbidden.
                                    
                                    "Thanks.  When do I get to go home?"  Mulder grimaced 
                                    as he shifted in bed.
                                    
                                    "Maybe in 48 hours or so if you continue to do well, 
                                    and home is a relative word right now."
                                    
                                    "I don't understand."
                                    
                                    She smiled.  Compusure regained.  Just.  "First, 
                                    you'll need to rest at the hotel for a day or two, 
                                    and then Skinner has offered us the use of his condo 
                                    in Destin for the next two weeks."
                                    
                                    He nodded, a look of delight passing over his 
                                    features as he processed the implications of that.  
                                    "Yeah, I vaguely remember you mentioning that in the 
                                    recovery room."
                                    
                                    Scully noticed a look of pain on his face and noted 
                                    that he pushed the button to release a dose of pain 
                                    medication from the pump.
                                    
                                    "We'll talk about it later.  You need to rest for a 
                                    while."
                                    
                                    "Will you be here?"
                                    
                                    "Of course, Mulder."
                                    
                                    "Don't wear yourself out.  Remember you've been sick 
                                    too."
                                    
                                    "There's a fold-out bed right over there.  I'll lie 
                                    down if I feel I need to."  She gave him her best 
                                    smile, absently rubbing his fingers as she held them.
                                    
                                    "Promise?"
                                    
                                    "Yes."
                                    
                                    "Need to sleep now," he yawned.
                                    
                                    "You go right ahead."  
                                    
                                    Mulder smiled and closed his eyes. 
                                    
                                    When he woke again Scully was sitting patiently by 
                                    his side.  They were connected as one by the clasp of 
                                    their hands, unspoken comfort that filled his heart 
                                    with warmth he'd rarely had the joy of knowing.
                                    
                                    "Still here, huh?"
                                    
                                    "Where else would I be?"
                                    
                                    "Lots of other places would be nicer," he suggested, 
                                    his hand slipping from hers to cup her cheek, 
                                    smoothing his thumb over her jaw, his eyes sparkling 
                                    with indefinable emotion when she didn't pull away as 
                                    he'd expected.
                                    
                                    "But you wouldn't be there."
                                    
                                    "Thanks, Scully."  He reached for her hand again and 
                                    gave it a gentle squeeze.
                                    
                                    She squeezed back, grinning, her own eyes shiny with 
                                    emotion.  "They brought some water in while you were 
                                    sleeping.  Would you like to try a sip or two?"
                                    
                                    "I guess so.  Fair warning, though, if I puke again 
                                    I'm giving up taking anything by mouth."
                                    
                                    Scully chuckled.  "Something tells me that you won't 
                                    need to get that drastic.  Think positively.  This is 
                                    going to stay down."
                                    
                                    She held the cup while he took a quick sip of the 
                                    ice, cold water.
                                    
                                    "Oh, that was nice," he sighed.
                                    
                                    "One more.  Let's not push our luck."
                                    
                                    Mulder took a longer sip then relaxed back onto his 
                                    pillow.  "More later?"  Scully ruffled his hair and 
                                    she placed the cup back on the nightstand.
                                    
                                    "Let's wait at least fifteen minutes then you can 
                                    have two more sips.  If you keep this down you'll 
                                    probably get some broth and jello for dinner."
                                    
                                    "I hate to admit this, but that actually sounds 
                                    good," he grinned.
                                    
                                    "What sounds good to me is hearing those words come 
                                    from your mouth."
                                    
                                    "I am feeling better, except for, ow!"
                                    
                                    "Ow?"
                                    
                                    "Another of those sharp pains.  It's easing off now."
                                    
                                    "You're sure?"  Scully reached for the pain 
                                    medication control.
                                    
                                    Mulder caught her hand.  "I'm sure.  No pain meds 
                                    right now, okay?"
                                    
                                    "All right, Mulder, but there's no need for you to be 
                                    in pain.  You've had enough of that already."  She 
                                    hoped that good sense would over ride his stoic 
                                    tendencies.  He nodded, closing his eyes.
                                    
                                    The day shift nurse came in and his eyes sprang open 
                                    again with apprehension, especially after she spotted 
                                    the large instrument tray she was holding.  "Hello, 
                                    Mr. Mulder.  I see you're finally awake.  I was 
                                    beginning to think you were trying to avoid me."
                                    
                                    "Depends on what you need to do," he answered warily.
                                    
                                    "Just the usual, Mr. Mulder.  I need to take you 
                                    temperature, get your pulse and BP, check your IV and 
                                    get a urine specimen.  All you have to do is lie 
                                    quietly."
                                    
                                    "No needles?"
                                    
                                    "Not at this time."
                                    
                                    He visibly relaxed.
                                    
                                    "You've had a pretty rough time over the past 12 
                                    hours Mr. Mulder.  We're not going to cause you any 
                                    pain unless it's unavoidable.  Let me get your temp 
                                    first."  She smiled as she finished and ejected the 
                                    sanitary cover into the trashcan.  "Still coming 
                                    down.  You're at 99.8.  Now, let's get the rest."
                                    
                                    His BP and pulse were both within normal range.  The 
                                    nurse changed out the urine collection bag after she 
                                    secured the urine sample, and noted that several 
                                    pieces of the kidney stone had passed.
                                    
                                    "When do I get rid of this?"  He pointed to the new 
                                    collection bag.
                                    
                                    "You'll have to ask your doctor about that."
                                    
                                    "Oh, I intend to.  Ow!"
                                    
                                    "Another sharp pain?" Scully inquired anxiously, 
                                    moving in close to him.
                                    
                                    "Uh, yeah, um, a little sharper than the others."  
                                    Mulder began to pale as the pain continued.
                                    
                                    Scully took his hand and urged him to squeeze as hard 
                                    as he needed. Then she reached over with her free 
                                    hand and pushed the button for his pain medication.  
                                    Mulder didn't comment as he concentrated on blocking 
                                    out the latest painful assault on his body.  His 
                                    breathing was coming in fast little gasps.
                                    
                                    The nurse and Scully stood by ready to help in any 
                                    way possible when she felt him suddenly relax.  
                                    "Phew!  That was intense," he announced, his voice a 
                                    little shaky.
                                    
                                    "Is the pain completely gone?" the nurse questioned.
                                    
                                    "Seems to be.  How many more of those things do I 
                                    have to pass?"
                                    
                                    "Mr. Mulder, I honestly don't know.  The only comfort 
                                    I can provide is that most of the pieces are small 
                                    enough that you're not even feeling them as they pass 
                                    through."
                                    
                                    "Well, that's something I guess.  Could I have 
                                    another sip of water please?"
                                    
                                    "Sure." Scully reached for the pitcher and began to 
                                    pour water into a cup.
                                    
                                    "Oh, that reminds me!" the nurse interjected.  "I'll 
                                    be back in a minute to post an input/output sheet.  
                                    You'll need to write down everything that you drink 
                                    and how much.  We'll take care of recording your 
                                    output until the catheter is removed."
                                    
                                    "I'll be sure to record everything that he drinks."  
                                    Scully promised as she held the cup for Mulder.
                                    
                                    "Thank you.  I'll be right back with that sheet."
                                    
                                    Mulder finished drinking and shifted in bed, turning 
                                    to face Scully.  "Ohhh!  Big mistake!"
                                    
                                    "Pretty sore, huh?"
                                    
                                    "Yeah, but it was worth the pain just to see you more 
                                    clearly."
                                    
                                    She gave him a rueful smile has she perched on the 
                                    side of the bed.  "I honestly don't know why you 
                                    would make the effort right now.  I'm pale as a 
                                    ghost.  I didn't put on any make up and these jeans 
                                    are not my top of the line wardrobe."
                                    
                                    "Scully, you're a beautiful woman whatever you're 
                                    wearing and as far as I'm concerned, you don't need 
                                    any make-up.  As for your pallor, perhaps we can work 
                                    on that while we're in Destin.  I'm sure I'm a little 
                                    pale too."  Scully was pleased to see his boyish 
                                    smile return.
                                    
                                    "You're right.  You're not your usual golden self," 
                                    she laughed.  "You mean you actually intend to take 
                                    Skinner up on his offer?"
                                    
                                    "Only if you promise to be there too."  Mulder's 
                                    eyelids began to grow heavy.
                                    
                                    "I wouldn't miss it for the world."
                                    
                                    "Gotta sleep, Scully.  Maybe I can stay awake longer 
                                    the next time.  Wanna talk to you."  He took both her 
                                    hands into his own, intertwining their fingers.
                                    
                                    Scully leaned in and kissed him on his forehead, her 
                                    head pressed against his for a long, silent moment.  
                                    It was their special communication.  No words needed.  
                                    Finally she sat back, observing his exhausted but 
                                    delighted face.  A small nod, a sleepy grin and he 
                                    lay back.  "Sleep, Mulder."
                                    
                                    "Umm, nice," he mumbled as he drifted off, his 
                                    fingers slipping from hers almost immediately as 
                                    sleep claimed him.
                                    
                                    
                                    End Part 13
                                    
                                    
The Domino Effect Part 14
                                    
                                    
                                    Headers and disclaimers in Part 1
                                    
                                    
                                    The first thing that Mulder noticed when he woke 
                                    again was Scully, holding his large hand between her 
                                    two smaller ones.  She was holding them next to her 
                                    right cheek while she dozed with her head propped on 
                                    the side of his bed.  She was so beautiful that she 
                                    took his breath away.  The thin strip of sunlight 
                                    coming in between the closed drapes hit her hair in 
                                    such a way that it appeared to be on fire.
                                    
                                    He decided to lie quietly and watch her as she slept.  
                                    She was so wonderful in every way, that he counted 
                                    himself a lucky man just to have this brief 
                                    opportunity.
                                    
                                    The air-conditioning unit kicked on softly.  Mulder 
                                    observed the dust motes stirred up by the moving air 
                                    as they swirled about Scully's head.  He suddenly 
                                    felt the urge to sneeze, no doubt from the dust set 
                                    into motion by the air conditioner.
                                    
                                    He tried to stop it.  He'd done it before in the 
                                    middle of important meetings, boring meetings, 
                                    stakeouts, you name it.  He was usually successful.  
                                    This time it was most important that he stop that 
                                    sneeze.  Despite the fact that he knew it would cause 
                                    a dizzying, excruciating, all encompassing, 
                                    unbearable pain across his stomach muscles and back, 
                                    that wasn't his main concern.  No, Scully was 
                                    sleeping and he would do anything to insure that she 
                                    would stay that way.
                                    
                                    He brought his free hand up to his nose just in time 
                                    to stop the explosion.  Ah!  Success!  Just as he 
                                    pulled his hand away the dust swirled again and took 
                                    him by surprise.  Try as he might, there was no 
                                    stopping the reaction this time.  He let loose a 
                                    manly sneeze, one that nearly took his head off.
                                    
                                    As he recovered from the force of the sinus explosion 
                                    and the resulting muscle pain, he heard three dainty 
                                    sneezes erupt next to him.
                                    
                                    Scully sat up, looking somewhat dazed.
                                    "You all right, Scully?"
                                    
                                    "I think so.  What about you?  That had to hurt."
                                    
                                    "I suppose I'll live to sneeze again."  He managed to 
                                    paste a smile on his face despite the lingering pain.
                                    
                                    "What brought all of that on?"
                                    
                                    "Air conditioner started, stirred up some dust and 
                                    got to both of us."
                                    
                                    "Evidently," she agreed, rising to a sitting 
                                    position.  "You sure you're okay?"
                                    
                                    "Uh-huh.  Just hurts a little now."
                                    
                                    "It was an interesting way to wake up."
                                    
                                    "I can think of more interesting ways to awaken."  He 
                                    leered at her.
                                    
                                    "Oh, really?  Care to share?" she asked playfully as 
                                    she reached for a tissue.
                                    
                                    "I'd rather demonstrate instead, but that would 
                                    require a much different setting."
                                    
                                    "And, what would that be?"
                                    
                                    "Scully, I need to ask you something first.  If I 
                                    don't I may get slapped when I tell you about my 
                                    alternative methods of awakening."
                                    
                                    "All right," she agreed hesitantly.
                                    
                                    "Okay, here goes," he thought.  "I'll either crash 
                                    and burn or be a very happy man, but I have to know."
                                    
                                    "Well?"
                                    
                                    "I've been pretty much out of it the past couple of 
                                    days, but I know I didn't dream this.  I told you 
                                    that I loved you, several different times, in fact, 
                                    but I don't remember receiving a response."
                                    
                                    "I know, Mulder.  I wasn't entirely sure you were 
                                    aware of what you were saying."
                                    
                                    "I meant every word, Scully."
                                    
                                    "Then you deserve my reply.  I have the same feelings 
                                    for you, Mulder.  I love you too.  I'm so glad we 
                                    finally have this out in the open."
                                    
                                    Mulder's face broke out in a shy, shit eating grin.  
                                    He could hardly contain his joy.  For a moment he 
                                    thought he would cry, but he took a deep breath to 
                                    steady his next words.  "Me too, Scully.  The big 
                                    question now is where are we going to go with this?" 
                                    he asked softly.
                                    
                                    "Oh, I think Skinner has given us an opportunity to 
                                    explore that."
                                    
                                    "The condo in Destin?"
                                    
                                    Yes, but I'm still trying to figure out what made him 
                                    offer it to us."
                                    
                                    "I honestly don't know, but I'd like to take him up 
                                    on it."
                                    
                                    "So would I," Scully agreed with a huge smile.
                                    
                                    They moved toward each other, closing the gap 
                                    literally and figuratively, and their lips met in a 
                                    kiss.  Neither of them pulled back as they deepened 
                                    the kiss, tongues exploring.
                                    
                                    Finally, Mulder had to reluctantly break the kiss, 
                                    his breathing ragged.  "Scully, I'd like to do that a 
                                    little more, but I'll have to get some of my strength 
                                    back to do it properly."
                                    
                                    "Yes, uh, you certainly do need to get your strength 
                                    back.  I'm, um, looking forward to that because that 
                                    was pretty amazing as it was," she stammered.
                                    
                                    "We'll just have to keep practicing, then," he smiled 
                                    at her.
                                    
                                    "In the meantime, would you like to tell me about 
                                    those alternative methods of awakening?"
                                    
                                    XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
                                    
                                    Skinner made a quick stop in the ER to say hello to 
                                    Karen then went straight up to check on Mulder.  He 
                                    was quite surprised when he found Scully sound asleep 
                                    on the foldout couch while Mulder was sitting on the 
                                    side of the bed, his long legs dangling.
                                    
                                    "Come on in, sir, Scully's dead to the world right 
                                    now.  The nurse just came in to help me walk around 
                                    the bed and she didn't stir."
                                    
                                    "Is she all right?"
                                    
                                    "Yeah, just tired, I think," Mulder answered, looking 
                                    toward her sleeping figure, affection showing on his 
                                    face so much that it almost shone from him.
                                    
                                    "It looks like you're feeling much better."
                                    
                                    "The nurse said my temperature is still slightly 
                                    elevated and I'm weak as a kitten, but I feel much 
                                    better.  Thanks."
                                    
                                    "Great, Mulder.  I'll have to admit that you had me a 
                                    little worried early this morning."
                                    
                                    "Thankfully, I don't remember much.  Have a seat, 
                                    sir."
                                    
                                    "Thanks, Mulder.  I can only stay for a few minutes.  
                                    I have a dinner date then I'm heading back to the 
                                    hotel for a good nights sleep."
                                    
                                    "I'm sorry that I kept you up all night, sir."
                                    
                                    "Nonsense, Mulder and would you please call me Walter 
                                    when we're not working?  I think six years of working 
                                    together and a friendship has afforded us that 
                                    privilege."
                                    
                                    "Thanks, Walter.  I'll try to remember that," he 
                                    grinned, rubbing his back.
                                    
                                    "You must be pretty sore."
                                    
                                    "Yeah, I am.  I feel like I've been beaten.   It's a 
                                    side effect of that procedure."
                                    
                                    "Let's hope that clears up pretty quickly.  Any idea 
                                    when you'll be discharged?"
                                    
                                    "Maybe in 48 hours if I'm lucky."  He rolled his 
                                    eyes.
                                    
                                    "I'll have to admit that it looks like you could use 
                                    a change of luck.  You've had one hell of a week," 
                                    Skinner commented.
                                    
                                    "Can't argue with that."
                                    
                                    "Have you and Scully discussed my offer of the condo 
                                    in Destin?"
                                    
                                    "Yes, we have and we've decided to take you up on 
                                    your offer," Mulder reported happily.
                                    
                                    "Great!  I think you'll enjoy it.  One bedroom has a 
                                    king-sized bed with a large whirlpool bath, while the 
                                    other has twin beds.  There's a small kitchen along 
                                    with a nice living room, a dining area and another 
                                    full bath.  There's also a heated pool and it isn't 
                                    very far from the beach."
                                    
                                    "Sounds wonderful, Walter."
                                    
                                    "Well, you two need some time to recuperate and just 
                                    kick back and enjoy each other's company."  Skinner 
                                    noted the shy expression on Mulder's face all of a 
                                    sudden.  Was that a blush?
                                    
                                    "That's just what we intend to do.  Looks like you . 
                                    . .er, could win the office pool after all."  Mulder 
                                    grinned when he saw the astonished look on Skinner's 
                                    face.
                                    
                                    "Mulder, I . . .how did you know about that?"  
                                    Skinner stuttered, blushing.
                                    
                                    "I'm 'Spooky' Mulder, remember?"  Oh! Damnit!"
                                    
                                    "Mulder, what's wrong?" Skinner inquired, standing up 
                                    to steady Mulder as he began to sway.
                                    
                                    "Passing another piece of that stone," he gasped, 
                                    hugging his midsection momentarily.
                                    
                                    "Here, let's get you back in bed."  Skinner helped 
                                    him get situated, keeping a wary eye on him the 
                                    entire time.  "Should I call the nurse?  Get you 
                                    something for pain?"
                                    
                                    "No, thanks.  Got everything I need here," Mulder 
                                    replied painfully, pushing the control for his pain
                                    medication.  "It's starting to ease off a little."
                                    
                                    "How long will you continue to have these pains?"
                                    
                                    "No idea, Walter," he sighed wearily.
                                    
                                    "Mulder, I hate to leave you like this but . . ."
                                    
                                    "Go on, Walter.  I'm okay now."
                                    
                                    "You're sure?"
                                    
                                    "Yeah, go, but could you do me a favor?"
                                    
                                    "Sure, if I can."
                                    
                                    "Take Scully back with you when you're finished?"
                                    
                                    "Of course, I was going to suggest that anyway.  
                                    Karen only gets a 45 minute break, so I should be 
                                    back up here in about an hour."
                                    
                                    "I'll make sure she's ready to leave."
                                    
                                    "I'll see you two in an hour then."  Skinner grinned 
                                    as he left for his date.
                                    
                                    "Trying to get rid of me, Mulder?" Scully asked, 
                                    rising from the sofa.
                                    
                                    "Never, Scully.  I just want to be sure you get a  
                                    good nights sleep."
                                    
                                    "I know that.  Thank you."
                                    
                                    "How long have you been awake?"
                                    
                                    "Oh, a few minutes at least.  How's the pain?  Gone 
                                    now?"  She gave him a quick kiss on his forehead 
                                    before sitting down in the recliner and taking his 
                                    hand once more.
                                    
                                    "All gone for the time being anyway.  I hope that was 
                                    the last one."
                                    
                                    "Maybe it will be.  How about eating some jello for 
                                    me before I leave?"
                                    
                                    "Sure, I'd do that for you, Scully.  I'd even eat 
                                    green jello if you insisted."
                                    
                                    "Oh, I don't think I would force you to do that," she 
                                    laughed.
                                    
                                    Nita entered the room carrying a plastic container of 
                                    red jello and a plastic spoon.
                                    
                                    "Looks like your lucky day, Mulder," Scully chuckled.
                                    
                                    "What do you have for me, Nita?  Strawberry or 
                                    cherry?"
                                    
                                    Nita looked at the label.  "Strawberry."
                                    
                                    "Wow, my favorite," he said sarcastically.
                                    
                                    "Mulder, behave, or I will insist on lime," Scully 
                                    warned him with a smile.
                                    
                                    "Behaving now, Scully," he grinned as he accepted the 
                                    jello and spoon from Nita.
                                    
                                    "How's it going, Mulder?  Still having those sharp 
                                    pains?" she asked as she prepared to take his blood 
                                    pressure.
                                    
                                    "Some, it passes pretty quickly."
                                    
                                    "What about the nausea?"
                                    
                                    "I haven't had any since I woke up in the recovery 
                                    room," he reported happily.
                                    
                                    "Fantastic.  I'll make a note of that and I'm sure 
                                    the doctor will adjust your diet accordingly.  Your 
                                    blood pressure and pulse are normal and I'll come 
                                    back and take your temp later.  Can I get you 
                                    anything or do anything for you while I'm here?"
                                    
                                    "Can't think of anything, Nita.  Thanks for the 
                                    jello."
                                    
                                    "Not a problem.  Dana, you look tired.  Why don't you 
                                    go back to the hotel where you can really rest?  I 
                                    promise we'll take good care of this guy here."
                                    
                                    "I know you will.  Thanks for your concern, Nita.  
                                    Walter will be picking me up soon."
                                    
                                    "Looks like you have all the bases covered.  I'll 
                                    just go and find someone who needs me," she joked.
                                    
                                    ""Thanks for all of the help you've given us, Nita," 
                                    Scully started.
                                    
                                    "Just doing my job, Dana, and making some new friends 
                                    along the way.  It has been my pleasure."
                                    
                                    "Well, you've been more than helpful."
                                    
                                    "I second that, Nita.  I don't remember much until I 
                                    woke up in the recovery room, but I'm grateful you 
                                    were there for Scully," Mulder chimed in.
                                    
                                    "Stop it, you two.  You're embarrassing me."
                                    
                                    "Okay, Nita.  We'll stop for now." Scully promised.
                                    
                                    "Well, okay.  If I don't see you before you leave, 
                                    Dana, get a good nights sleep.  Mulder, I'll see you 
                                    later."
                                    
                                    "Oh, I'm looking forward to it," he grinned, rolling 
                                    his eyes.
                                    
                                    "Well, it looks like I'll have to see what nasty 
                                    procedure we can put you through," Nita threatened 
                                    with a grin.
                                    
                                    "All right, all right.  I will be eagerly awaiting 
                                    your next visit."
                                    
                                    "That's better.  See you later."
                                    
                                    Nita left, and Scully got up and sat on the side of 
                                    the bed.  "You're going to behave until I come back 
                                    in the morning.  Right?"
                                    
                                    "Right.  You won't get any bad reports on me."
                                    
                                    "Good."
                                    
                                    "My goal in life now is to keep you happy all of the 
                                    time."
                                    
                                    "Wow, Mulder.  I don't know what to say."
                                    
                                    "Just say you love me and give me a kiss."
                                    
                                    
                                    
                                    End Part 14  
                                    
                                    
                                    
The Domino Effect Part 15
                                    
                                    
                                    Headers and Disclaimers in Part One
                                    
                                    
                                    When Scully returned the next morning, Mulder was 
                                    sitting in the recliner, sipping some ginger ale.
                                    
                                    "Well, I wasn't expecting this."  She entered the 
                                    room with a huge smile, pleased that her partner was 
                                    out of bed.  She leaned forward and kissed him 
                                    deeply, savoring the ginger taste on his lips.
                                    
                                    "Got tired of lying around so I thought I'd have my 
                                    breakfast here," Mulder explained.  "The view's not 
                                    that great and the food isn't much better, but it'll 
                                    have to do.  Things definitely started looking up 
                                    when you walked in."  His hands reached for her 
                                    fingers.
                                    
                                    "So, what did you eat?"  Scully looked at the tray.
                                    
                                    "A few of my old favorites like beef broth and 
                                    strawberry jello.  I hear that if I'm a good boy, I 
                                    may get chicken noodle soup for lunch."  He waggled 
                                    his eyebrows.  She laughed.  Yes, he was definitely 
                                    on his way back to being her usual Mulder.
                                    
                                    "Looks like you have been a good boy.  I don't see 
                                    anything left.  So, I guess since you were able to 
                                    get this down you're feeling better?" she asked 
                                    hopefully.
                                    
                                    "Yes, I am."
                                    
                                    "Any more pain?"
                                    
                                    "Not a bit since you left last night.  My temperature 
                                    is normal.  My back and stomach are still sore but 
                                    much improved.  They took some blood earlier, and the 
                                    verdict is still out on that, but for the most part 
                                    it looks like I just need to get my strength back," 
                                    Mulder reported, trying to pull her in closer.
                                    
                                    "I'm so glad you're feeling better."
                                    
                                    "Not half as much as I am.  I think I'm ready to get 
                                    back in bed now."  She could see him tiring again, 
                                    reminding her that he had a way to go yet before he 
                                    was back up to par.
                                    
                                    "No sense in wearing yourself out.  Do you need any 
                                    help?"
                                    
                                    "Um, this is a little embarrassing, but could you 
                                    move that uh . . .that thing?"
                                    
                                    "The urine collection bag?  Not a problem and it is 
                                    not embarrassing."
                                    
                                    He gave her a wry smile.  "Well, embarrassing or not, 
                                    I'll be glad to see it go."  Mulder climbed back into 
                                    bed slowly, giving in to his sore muscles.  He sighed 
                                    with relief as he sagged back into the pillows.
                                    
                                    "You should be getting rid of it soon."  Scully 
                                    informed him as she hung the bag on the side of the 
                                    bed.
                                    
                                    "Let's hope so.  Come here."  He snagged her hand, 
                                    pulling her over.
                                    
                                    "What, Mulder?"
                                    
                                    "I just like having you close."  He moved over and 
                                    patted the space beside him.
                                    
                                    "Mulder, I'd love to climb in with you, but you need 
                                    your rest and I don't think you'd keep that in mind 
                                    with us being so close.  I need you to get your full 
                                    strength back for our visit to Destin."
                                    
                                    "Scullee. . ."
                                    
                                    "Quit whining, Mulder.  Besides, you should remember 
                                    how busy hospitals are in the morning.  Your doctors 
                                    will stop by and probably order tests.  The nurses 
                                    will want the aids to give you a nice bed bath and 
                                    change your bed . . ."
                                    
                                    "Okay, okay.  I get the picture.  Did you pack some 
                                    sweats or pajama bottoms for me to wear in case I do 
                                    get rid of this torture device today?"
                                    
                                    "Yes, I did, along with a change of clothes to go 
                                    home in when you're discharged.  Hopefully tomorrow," 
                                    she emphasized.
                                    
                                    "I like the way you think."
                                    
                                    XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
                                    
                                    Mulder was back in his room at the hotel.  Scully had 
                                    gone to find a pair of scissors to cut off the 
                                    hospital bracelets around his right wrist.  The 
                                    sooner all traces of that place were removed the 
                                    better.  He couldn't wait to begin his voyage of 
                                    Scully discovery at Skinner's condo.  His heart did a 
                                    little giddy flip at the thought of what delights lay 
                                    ahead.  Still, he tamped down thinking about it too 
                                    much.  They needed to take this one step at a time.  
                                    It wouldn't do to screw it up by acting like an 
                                    overenthusiastic puppy.
                                    
                                    
                                    Skinner had already said his goodbyes earlier at the 
                                    hospital where he had happily given them the key to 
                                    his condo.  After a short visit with Karen Bower, the 
                                    AD left to catch a flight back to the cold, snowy, 
                                    Nation's Capital.
                                    
                                    "There you go, Mulder."  Scully cut off the plastic 
                                    bands then handed him a bottle of water.  "Drink up.  
                                    Remember, the doctor wants you to drink lots of 
                                    water."
                                    
                                    Mulder unscrewed the top and drank almost half of the 
                                    water in a couple of gulps.  Scully nodded her 
                                    approval and came around to the other side of the 
                                    bed, kicking her shoes off.
                                    
                                    Mulder excitedly held the covers up while she slid in 
                                    beside him.  This was somewhat unexpected.  "Mmm, you 
                                    feel good," he whispered, putting the water bottle on 
                                    the bedside table.  He turned back around and pulled 
                                    her closer.  "I think it's time to practice."
                                    
                                    "Practice?" Scully questioned, confused.
                                    
                                    "Kissing.  Don't you remember?"
                                    
                                    "Oh, now that you mention it, I think I do," she 
                                    purred, stroking his face.
                                    
                                    They kissed deeply and hungrily.  Both of them were 
                                    breathing hard when they broke apart.
                                    
                                    "Um, I think your technique is wonderful.  I don't 
                                    think we need any more practice," Scully decided.
                                    
                                    "Perhaps not since I can't see any room for 
                                    improvement on your part either.  I guess we can by-
                                    pass the warm-up and go straight in without a net."  
                                    He smiled broadly and then covered her mouth with his 
                                    own again.
                                    
                                    After several minutes of intense kissing, Scully 
                                    broke away.
                                    
                                    "What's wrong?"  Mulder already missed the feel of 
                                    her lips.
                                    
                                    "I think we need to slow this down.  You've only been 
                                    out of the hospital for an hour and you need to rest 
                                    up."
                                    
                                    "Oh, I am resting up."  He emphasized the last word, 
                                    grinding into her.
                                    
                                    Parts of him were certainly up to speed and raring to 
                                    go, she mused.  "I noticed, but I don't want to do 
                                    anything that would jeopardize your recovery."
                                    
                                    "I think I'll be in jeopardy if we don't continue, 
                                    not to mention downright uncomfortable," he groaned, 
                                    his breathing coming in heavy pants.
                                    
                                    Scully's hand found its way under his shirt where she 
                                    began to caress his still tender abdomen and chest.  
                                    When he didn't flinch she continued her exploration 
                                    to more pleasingly sensitive areas.  He was gasping a 
                                    little now as he leaned into her touch.
                                    
                                    "I'm still a little sore, but I think a little 
                                    movement might help to work the kinks out."  He began 
                                    placing light kisses all along her jawbone and down 
                                    her neck.  Oh boy, she needed more skin.
                                    
                                    "Um, some movement might be good," she agreed, 
                                    pulling his shirt over his head and off.  "But, I 
                                    wouldn't want to spoil our trip to Destin by 
                                    practicing everything before we get there."
                                    
                                    Mulder began to slowly unbutton her blouse.  "Not a 
                                    chance of practicing everything.  I've been waiting 
                                    almost seven years for this little rehearsal and the 
                                    many moves I have in mind will need a lot of detailed 
                                    choreography."
                                    
                                    He pulled her blouse off and tossed it on the floor 
                                    where it landed on top of his t-shirt.
                                    
                                    "So, you're going to be the director?" she asked.
                                    
                                    "Co-director," he informed her, kissing her once 
                                    again.
                                    
                                    "Yes, co-director," Scully agreed between kisses.  
                                    Their hands began to roam and explore.  "Let's get 
                                    this production started."
                                    
                                    "Great idea.  Should we continue with Act I or 
                                    advance to Act II?"
                                    
                                    "Definitely Act II."
                                    
                                    "Act II of the Mulder-Scully production is now in 
                                    full rehearsal," he announced, deftly unhooking her 
                                    bra.
                                    
                                    "Any directions for me?"  Scully moved so that he 
                                    could pull the undergarment away, his eyes widening 
                                    with pure love and lust at the sight or her bared 
                                    skin.  He almost cried at her beauty.
                                    
                                    "Just tell me you love me and let me show you my 
                                    love."
                                    
                                    "Yes, try stopping me," Scully agreed breathlessly.  
                                    "I love you."
                                    
                                    Mulder kissed her once again, then all thought of 
                                    patience or direction flew out the window.
                                    
                                    XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
                                    
                                    On a plane making its way to Washington, DC, Walter 
                                    Skinner relaxed and thought of his two agents fondly, 
                                    then remembered to make a note to find out who won 
                                    the Mulder-Scully office pool.  He was sure it was 
                                    his for the taking, though.  He'd made a special 
                                    effort to enter it earlier when he'd realized that 
                                    they were becoming much closer, and it didn't hurt to 
                                    be in the position of matchmaker either.
                                    
                                    He sat back and pondered what he would do with his 
                                    winnings.  Maybe he could buy them an extra week of 
                                    time at his condo.  It would make a great wedding 
                                    gift.
                                    
                                    
                                    End Part 15