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Fruit Friendship and W.C. Fields

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Title:  Fruit, Friendship and W.C. Fields
                                    Author:  Waddles 52
                                    Category:  MT, M/S friendship
                                    Summary:  Mulder's tardiness for an appointment, a PR 
                                    assignment, and a grieving teacher all come together 
                                    to put Mulder and Scully in jeopardy.
                                    Rating:  PG 13
                                    Archives:  Please ask first.  Written for the MR July 
                                    fic challenge.  First place winner.
                                    Disclaimer:  I just checked and I still don't own 
                                    them.  Don't worry.  No money changed hands.
                                    Notes:  Thanks to Lisa for the great beta and to the 
                                    people at MR for their encouragement.
                                    
                                    
                                    Fox Mulder had definitely seen better starts to his 
                                    day.  He swore under his breath as he waited for the 
                                    shower to warm up.  He had been forced to get up at 
                                    5:30 AM and answer a phone call from Frohike, who 
                                    wanted him to meet a man who supposedly knew all 
                                    about the plans for impending alien invasion and 
                                    colonization.  Mulder's short friend stressed that it 
                                    was urgent and mumbled something about the future of 
                                    the world being at stake.  Why did all of the 
                                    crackpots choose the early morning hours to 
                                    communicate, including Frohike?
                                    
                                    Hoping that Earl Ensminger wasn't a total kook, 
                                    Mulder agreed to meet him over breakfast at 7 AM 
                                    sharp at the Holiday Inn-Dulles.  Still mourning the 
                                    loss of one of the few worthwhile periods of sleep 
                                    he'd had in the last few weeks, the groggy agent 
                                    jumped into the steamy shower.
                                    
                                    Mulder consoled himself with the promise of a decent 
                                    cup of coffee and an all you can eat breakfast buffet 
                                    as he frantically looked for his car keys and cell 
                                    phone.  After a quick search, he found both of them 
                                    under a stack of files he'd brought home to read.  It 
                                    looked like he was going to be a few minutes late.  
                                    He sincerely hoped that his informant didn't leave 
                                    before he got there.
                                    
                                    It was an easy drive in the early morning traffic and 
                                    he was able to make up some time as he cruised along 
                                    the Dulles Toll Road.  Noting that the tollbooth and 
                                    his exit were coming up in two miles, the FBI agent 
                                    began to dig in his pocket for the correct change.
                                    
                                    As he got closer he saw that only one tollbooth was 
                                    open in addition to the correct change only lane, and 
                                    of course, he didn't have the needed coins.  
                                    Evidently he had plenty of company because the line 
                                    of traffic was backed up for almost a half mile.
                                    
                                    He finally reached the hotel after adding a few more 
                                    minutes to his overall tardiness only to discover 
                                    that Mr. Ensminger had left in a huff.  According to 
                                    one of the waitresses, the man was livid at what he 
                                    considered the general irresponsibility of all 
                                    government employees.
                                    
                                    Mulder's watch read 7:20 when the restaurant was 
                                    suddenly overrun with several groups of noisy school 
                                    children.  He sighed and made his way back to his 
                                    parked car, still longing for a cup of steaming, hot 
                                    coffee.
                                    
                                    As he unlocked his car he felt his left shoe stick to 
                                    the pavement.  A long string of discarded bubble gum 
                                    greeted him as he lifted his foot.  Of all the hotels 
                                    in the DC area, his would-be informant chose the one 
                                    most frequented by out-of-town student tour groups.
                                    
                                    Mulder sighed loudly and walked over to a grassy area 
                                    to try and remove the gum without touching it.  
                                    Despite his rotten luck so early in the morning, he 
                                    still felt a smile spreading across his face as an 
                                    image of his partner flashed through his mind.  
                                    Scully would have some coffee brewed, hot and ready 
                                    to drink by the time he back tracked and reached the 
                                    office.
                                    
                                    XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
                                    
                                    As soon as Mulder stepped off the elevator in the 
                                    basement of the Hoover Building, he knew that his day 
                                    was going from bad to worse.  Normally, the scent of 
                                    freshly brewed coffee made its way down the hall and 
                                    it was sadly missing.  "Scully?"  He poked his head 
                                    in the door, hoping that nothing was wrong.  At the 
                                    sight of his lovely partner pacing back and forth, he 
                                    could tell that she hadn't been able to procure her 
                                    morning caffeine fix either.
                                    
                                    Scully looked at the silent Mr. Coffee, a sad look on 
                                    her face.  "I had to pronounce it at 8:02 this 
                                    morning.  It looks like we'll have to depend on the 
                                    kindness of others if we want coffee today."
                                    
                                    XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
                                    
                                    The vending machine was only to be considered in an 
                                    extreme emergency so, armed with two mugs, Mulder 
                                    hoped that his search for a decent cup of coffee 
                                    wouldn't take him all over the building.  As he 
                                    passed Skinner's office, he got the distinct feeling 
                                    that his crappy day was going to shift into 
                                    overdrive.  Almost as if he'd been waiting for him, 
                                    the AD stuck his head out the door and invited him 
                                    in.  Mulder groaned inwardly.
                                    
                                    Skinner smiled broadly and directed his agent to have 
                                    a seat.  Kimberly, Skinner's assistant, was Johnny-
                                    on-the-spot with a pot of coffee.  Mulder gratefully 
                                    held out his mug and realized that his superior must 
                                    need a monumental favor from him.  He couldn't recall 
                                    ever being served coffee in his supervisor's office, 
                                    and the man never smiled unless Scully was there.
                                    
                                    The assistant director settled in behind his desk and 
                                    opened a very thick, manila folder.  "As you know, 
                                    Agents Zambroski and Sutton usually handle the PR 
                                    work with the local schools for our section.  Agent 
                                    Sutton delivered a 9 lb., 2 oz. baby boy early this 
                                    morning and Agent Zambroski was called out of town 
                                    yesterday because of a family crisis.
                                    
                                    Mulder nodded his understanding and prepared to 
                                    receive some unpleasant news.  He knew that Skinner 
                                    wasn't giving him this information just to shoot the 
                                    breeze.
                                    
                                    "Since you and Agent Scully are not currently working 
                                    on an open case, I could really use your help to take 
                                    up the slack."
                                    
                                    Skinner must be desperate to even consider assigning 
                                    him anywhere near a school building.  Although he 
                                    felt like bursting into an uncontrollable fit of 
                                    laughter, Mulder took a sip of the wonderfully brewed 
                                    coffee and attempted to look interested.  "Just what 
                                    does this assignment entail, sir?"
                                    
                                    Skinner attempted to explain what Agents Sutton and 
                                    Zambroski normally did as he handed his field agent 
                                    the thick file folder filled with copies of 
                                    information and fun-type exercises for the children.  
                                    "I know it's a lot of information to process in a 
                                    short period of time, but that's what made me choose 
                                    you and Agent Scully for this assignment.  You're 
                                    both quick studies and if anyone can make this 
                                    interesting enough for a bunch of kids, it's the two 
                                    of you."
                                    
                                    "Exactly how much time do we have to become familiar 
                                    with this material?"  Mulder sensed that he needed to 
                                    cut to the chase.
                                    
                                    "Take as long as you need, but don't miss your first 
                                    appointment at Mayfield Elementary this morning, 10 
                                    AM sharp."  Skinner couldn't help grinning as Mulder 
                                    consulted his watch.  "I have every confidence in you 
                                    and Agent Scully.  Now, if there are no questions, I 
                                    would suggest that you leave shortly.  Traffic can be 
                                    rather tricky at this time of day."
                                    
                                    Mulder rose from his chair and shook the A.D.'s hand.  
                                    On his way out, he begged a cup of coffee for Scully 
                                    from Skinner's assistant, then began to devise a 
                                    speech to placate his partner as he explained the 
                                    nature of their new assignment.  As he got on the 
                                    elevator it dawned on him where the school was 
                                    located.  He sincerely hoped that she had some change 
                                    because they were going to need it for that pesky 
                                    tollbooth on the Dulles Toll Road.  He really didn't 
                                    want to be late for another appointment today.
                                    
                                    XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
                                    
                                    The two harried agents walked into the office at 
                                    Mayfield Elementary with one minute to spare.  The 
                                    principal introduced herself and they opted to talk 
                                    about what was expected from their presentation as 
                                    they made their way to the classroom.  "The teacher 
                                    you're working with today is Earl Ensminger.  He has 
                                    been teaching social studies here at Mayfield for 
                                    almost 30 years.  I can guarantee you that his 
                                    students will be well-behaved and under control while 
                                    you give your presentation and answer questions."
                                    
                                    Mulder sincerely hoped that this Earl Ensminger was 
                                    not the one he was supposed to meet for breakfast.  
                                    His thoughts strayed for a few seconds then returned 
                                    to the principal.  "We feel so sorry for him right 
                                    now.  He lost his wife about six months ago due to a 
                                    bicycling accident.  He claims that she was a victim 
                                    of repeated alien abductions or some other such 
                                    madness.  No one believes him, of course.  Thankfully 
                                    he sets that all aside when he enters the classroom."
                                    
                                    "Why me?" Mulder asked himself as the principal 
                                    knocked on the door.  After a few whispered words 
                                    with the teacher, the principal wished them well and 
                                    headed back to the office.
                                    
                                    After reminding them that they were several minutes 
                                    late, Ensminger invited them into his classroom.  The 
                                    teacher instructed the class that they should be on 
                                    their best behavior then turned it over to the FBI 
                                    agents.
                                    
                                    Mulder took a deep breath and introduced himself and 
                                    Scully.  He took note of the students who were 
                                    sitting up very straight with their hands folded 
                                    neatly in front of them.  He also noticed that 
                                    Ensminger's eyes narrowed to mere slits when he told 
                                    the kids his name.
                                    
                                    A few of the students giggled while Mulder explained 
                                    that he didn't normally use his first name.  Another 
                                    stare from Ensminger practically bored through the 
                                    few students who dared to laugh.  The kids quickly 
                                    quieted down and gave Mulder their full attention.
                                    
                                    Relying on his terrific memory, the FBI agent began 
                                    his presentation.  Scully assisted him by passing out 
                                    the handouts.  Approximately one half hour later, 
                                    Mulder was finished with his speech and ready to 
                                    answer questions.  Most of the students eagerly 
                                    raised their hands.  As he scanned the room to pick 
                                    out a student he noted that one young lady had her 
                                    head on her desk, apparently taking a nap.  He willed 
                                    her to wake up before Ensminger noticed her.
                                    
                                    The sleeping student suddenly came to life and began 
                                    to make her way toward the door.  Mulder immediately 
                                    recognized the problem and managed to get the 
                                    wastebasket in front of her just in time as she began 
                                    to retch, vomit spewing through the fingers that she 
                                    had over her mouth like a gross mini-fountain.  
                                    Mulder jumped back in time to avoid the spray, very 
                                    thankful that he hadn't indulged in the all you can 
                                    eat breakfast after all.
                                    
                                    "Kristen!  Stop that immediately!  Look at the mess 
                                    you've made. Go to the office and clean out that 
                                    wastebasket on your way," Ensminger barked.
                                    
                                    A stern look from Scully was the only thing that 
                                    stopped Mulder from grabbing the man and shaking some 
                                    compassion into him.  The other students immediately 
                                    tensed up, hoping that the classroom guests would 
                                    keep Ensminger's reaction to a minimum.
                                    
                                    "If you don't need me for anything else, I think I'll 
                                    take Kristen to the restroom and help her clean up 
                                    before we go to the office."  Scully grabbed the 
                                    soiled wastebasket and shot a glaring look at the 
                                    insensitive schoolteacher.
                                    
                                    "Good idea, Agent Scully.  Kristen, I hope that you 
                                    feel better soon," Mulder nodded.
                                    
                                    The young girl managed to nod back, then hurried from 
                                    the room, desperate to escape all the attention her 
                                    upset stomach had caused.
                                    
                                    As Scully softly shut the door behind her Mulder 
                                    turned his attention back to the students.
                                    
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                                    Ensminger seemed to grow angrier with each question 
                                    the FBI agent answered.  While Mulder found it easy 
                                    to be patient with the class, he began to wonder what 
                                    the teacher's problem was.  Yes, some of the 
                                    questions were silly, but these were 10 and 11 year 
                                    olds for crying out loud.  Let them be kids for as 
                                    long as possible before they were forced to get out 
                                    into the real world where the laughs wouldn't come as 
                                    often.
                                    
                                    A few seconds before the dismissal bell rang, 
                                    Ensminger asked if Mulder could remove the ammunition 
                                    from his gun and display it on the desk so the 
                                    students could look at it on their way to lunch.  
                                    Although he was somewhat reluctant to do so, Mulder 
                                    complied with the request and issued a strong warning 
                                    not to touch.  After setting the safety and putting 
                                    the ammo clip on a nearby file cabinet, the bell rang 
                                    and the students began to gather around the desk to 
                                    get a look at a real gun.
                                    
                                    Only a few stragglers remained when Mulder began to 
                                    put away the extra handouts.  He was so absorbed in 
                                    that task that he didn't notice when Ensminger 
                                    grabbed the gun and shoved the ammo clip into place.  
                                    The sound of the clip being loaded got his attention 
                                    and he quickly turned around to find the instructor 
                                    pointing the gun at him.
                                    
                                    "Don't move, Agent Mulder.  You stood me up earlier 
                                    this morning and I have every intention of gaining 
                                    your full attention now."
                                    
                                    Mulder quickly looked around, thankful that the room 
                                    had emptied so quickly.  Now, if Scully would just 
                                    stay away for a few more minutes, perhaps he could 
                                    talk to the man and get his gun back before anyone 
                                    got hurt.  Those plans were quickly shelved when two 
                                    boys came back to the classroom, loudly proclaiming 
                                    that they had left their lunches behind.
                                    
                                    The FBI agent saw the gunman's hand twitch and yelled 
                                    for the boys to get help as he quickly positioned 
                                    himself between the gun and the boys.  No sooner had 
                                    he shouted his instructions than he felt a terrible 
                                    pain in his left hip, followed immediately by the 
                                    sharp report of the gun.  "Oh, crap," he said softly 
                                    as he slid to the floor.
                                    
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                                    Scully had gotten Kristen to the nurse's office and 
                                    was washing out the trashcan.  What was wrong with 
                                    that crazy teacher anyway?  He must've really gone 
                                    off the deep end when his wife died.  At any rate, he 
                                    didn't need to be in front of a classroom.  She was 
                                    sure that her partner would want to have a few words 
                                    with the principal before they left.  She was washing 
                                    her hands when she heard several screams and the 
                                    sound of running feet in the hallway.
                                    
                                    Scully hastily opened the door and found several 
                                    children that she recognized from Mr. Ensminger's 
                                    classroom.
                                    
                                    "He shot him!"
                                    
                                    "Mr. Ensminger has a gun!"
                                    
                                    "Hunter and Chase are in there!"
                                    
                                    Scully quickly caught up with them.  "Who did Mr. 
                                    Ensminger shoot?"  She had a bad feeling and hoped 
                                    that some small, meaningless incident had been 
                                    exaggerated into the tale that she had just 
                                    overheard.
                                    
                                    One of the girls stopped to catch her breath.  "He 
                                    shot Agent Mulder and Hunter and Chase are still in 
                                    there.  There was lots of blood."
                                    
                                    By the time the girls had finished relaying their 
                                    story, the principal had called the police for 
                                    assistance and ordered the building evacuated.  
                                    Teachers began to emerge from their classrooms to 
                                    lead their students to the church next door.  Within 
                                    ten minutes the building was quiet.  Everyone was 
                                    gone except the principal, her secretary and Scully.
                                    
                                    Several uniformed policemen spotted them and ordered 
                                    them out.  Scully had no intention of leaving without 
                                    her partner.  Flashing her badge, she began to fill 
                                    the policemen in with what little information she 
                                    had.
                                    
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                                    The two boys huddled in the corner, their eyes glued 
                                    to the gun in their teacher's shaking hand.  Mr. 
                                    Ensminger could be scary enough by himself when the 
                                    class was too noisy or uncooperative in some way.  
                                    With a gun in his hand, he appeared to be the most 
                                    frightening monster imaginable.
                                    
                                    The teacher's eyes focused first on the boys, then on 
                                    the FBI agent lying on the floor.  Blood was 
                                    spreading rapidly, coating the floor under the 
                                    injured man.  "Agent Mulder, I'm so sorry!  I just 
                                    wanted to get your attention because I was afraid you 
                                    wouldn't believe me.  I didn't intend to shoot you."
                                    
                                    Mulder looked at the blood bubbling through his 
                                    fingers from the wound in his left hip.  He could 
                                    feel the burning path that the bullet had taken 
                                    before slamming into a rib on his left side.  "I'll 
                                    be glad to listen, Ensminger.  I was at the hotel 
                                    this morning," he emphasized.  "Got tied up at the 
                                    tollbooth.  Why don't you let the boys go?  Then we 
                                    can talk."
                                    
                                    The pain in his hip was excruciating.  The round 
                                    must've hit a couple of bones and a blood vessel too, 
                                    judging from the amount of blood he was losing.  He 
                                    could feel a terrible weakness bearing down on him, 
                                    but he knew that he had to remain conscious in order 
                                    to get the boys out safely.
                                    
                                    "No, Agent Mulder.  I think the boys should stay.  I 
                                    want to be sure you listen."
                                    
                                    "Look, gonna be unconscious soon.  Losing a lot of 
                                    blood.  Let my partner in.  She's a doctor.  Let her 
                                    patch me up and then take the boys away.  I'll listen 
                                    to anything you have to say, but not gonna last much 
                                    longer without help."
                                    
                                    Mulder's speech slurred and spots began to float in 
                                    his field of vision.  It was becoming more difficult 
                                    by the second just to breathe.  He stole a look at 
                                    the boys huddled in the corner.  They were terrified 
                                    to say the very least.
                                    
                                    Ensminger knelt at Mulder's side and moved the 
                                    agent's hand away from the wound.  Convinced that the 
                                    injury was beyond what the simple first-aid kit in 
                                    the cabinet could fix, he took out his clean 
                                    handkerchief and pressed it to the wound, placing 
                                    Mulder's hand back over it.
                                    
                                    Getting back to his feet, he strode over to the 
                                    classroom phone and punched in the extension for the 
                                    office.  "Send Agent Scully in with medical supplies 
                                    and I'll release one of the boys."
                                    
                                    Mulder weakly nodded his approval.  "What happened to 
                                    your wife?"
                                    
                                    "My lovely wife . . .30 years together was all we 
                                    had.  We couldn't have children and all of our 
                                    relatives are dead.  All we had was each other.  My 
                                    wife was a multiple abductee.  They took her 15 
                                    times, Mr. Mulder."
                                    
                                    The injured man tried to keep his eyes open.  He had 
                                    to stay conscious until Scully got there.  "What 
                                    happened . . . the last time?"
                                    
                                    "She went for a bicycle ride.  It was October 16th, a 
                                    beautiful Indian summer day.  She wanted me to go 
                                    with her, but I had papers to grade.  I told her I'd 
                                    go the next time.  I should have gone with her.  
                                    Those papers could have waited.  If I had gone maybe 
                                    this wouldn't have happened.  Now, there won't be a 
                                    next time," Ensminger sobbed.  "My wife was missing 
                                    for three days.  They found her by the side of the 
                                    road suffering from massive internal injuries.  Her 
                                    body was still warm, but there wasn't anything they 
                                    could do.  Her bike was found in the ditch in perfect 
                                    condition.  It was plain to see that she hadn't been 
                                    involved in an accident, but the authorities ruled it 
                                    a hit and run.  With no leads to follow, they just 
                                    stopped looking.  They wouldn't find her murderers 
                                    anywhere around here anyway."  The older man cried, 
                                    the gun wobbling in his unsteady hand.  "I'm just so 
                                    tired of no one believing me, so tired of living 
                                    without her."
                                    
                                    "I'm sorry," Mulder whispered, overcome by the man's 
                                    story and the weakness invading his body.
                                    
                                    A loud knock garnered their attention.  Scully stood 
                                    outside the door with her hands up, a canvas bag 
                                    slung over her shoulder.
                                    
                                    Ensminger opened the door and ordered her to put the 
                                    bag on the floor.  After he searched her he looked 
                                    through the bag.  When he was convinced that it 
                                    contained only medical supplies he motioned her in.
                                    
                                    Scully hurried to her partner's side.  "You said 
                                    you'd let one of the boys go," she reminded him as 
                                    she pulled Mulder's hand away from the wound.
                                    
                                    "Yes, I did promise.  Hunter, you may leave."
                                    
                                    The boy didn't need further encouragement.  He ran 
                                    from the room without so much as a look back.
                                    
                                    "Mr. Ensminger, you do realize that my partner is 
                                    seriously injured?"  Scully continued to tend to 
                                    Mulder who was barely hanging on to consciousness, 
                                    his breathing becoming more rapid and shallow by the 
                                    second.
                                    
                                    "Yes, I'm so sorry.  I only wanted to get his full 
                                    attention.  I didn't mean to shoot him."
                                    
                                    "Well, I'm sure you have his attention but not for 
                                    much longer.  He needs to be in a hospital."  She 
                                    looked at her watch.  Mulder's 'golden hour' was 
                                    rapidly being consumed by the hostage situation.
                                    
                                    "He said you were a doctor.  Help him."
                                    
                                    "I'll do the best I can."  She brought out a bag of 
                                    IV solution and a set-up kit.  "I'm going to give him 
                                    some IV fluids.  That should help some but he's going 
                                    to need surgery to stop the bleeding."
                                    
                                    "Can't you put some stitches in him?"  Tears 
                                    continued to stream down his face.
                                    
                                    "I wish a few sutures would solve the problem, but 
                                    they won't.  You have me now, why don't you let 
                                    Mulder and the boy go?"  Scully suggested.
                                    
                                    "No!  They both stay!  I need a few minutes to think 
                                    this through.  I had no intention of shooting anyone, 
                                    you know.  I just wanted to tell my story to Agent 
                                    Mulder so he could help me find my wife's killers."
                                    
                                    "I've been trying to find them for almost 30 years.  
                                    Don't you think I would have brought them to justice 
                                    if there was any way?"  Mulder's agitated reply 
                                    drained even more of his strength.  He closed his 
                                    eyes as his vision started to waver.
                                    
                                    "Mulder, stay with me," Scully pleaded.  "You can 
                                    rest when you get to the hospital."
                                    
                                    "Tired, Scully," he mumbled without opening his eyes.
                                    
                                    "I know, but try to open your eyes for me."
                                    
                                    With great effort, Mulder complied.
                                    
                                    "I know you're tired.  The IV should help a little 
                                    bit but you need to stay awake for me.  Can you do 
                                    that?"  She undid his tie and opened the top three 
                                    shirt buttons so he could breathe a little easier.
                                    
                                    "'Kay."  The abbreviated word was the most he could 
                                    muster.  He found himself breathing heavily at even 
                                    that slight exertion but managed to keep his eyes 
                                    open for Scully.
                                    
                                    Ensminger began to pace as he considered his options.  
                                    In the meantime, Scully continued to evaluate 
                                    Mulder's condition.  As she checked the pulse in his 
                                    ankles she discovered that their captor had 
                                    overlooked his spare gun, still strapped securely to 
                                    his lower, right leg.  She waited until Ensminger 
                                    turned away from them to complete another circuit and 
                                    swiftly got the weapon and hid it beneath the first-
                                    aid supplies.
                                    
                                    Ensminger suddenly stopped and pointed his gun at 
                                    Scully.  She held her breath, sure that Ensminger had 
                                    seen her with Mulder's spare gun.
                                    
                                    "Chase, I want you to leave now.  Quickly!" The 
                                    crazed teacher shouted his instructions when the 
                                    stunned child didn't start to move.  Scully nodded 
                                    that it was okay, and with her permission Chase 
                                    didn't waste any time heading for the door.
                                    
                                    "Now, I want you to help Agent Mulder to his feet.  
                                    You'll leave with him and I'll follow you.  I intend 
                                    to turn myself into the authorities."
                                    
                                    Scully was clearly puzzled.  "Why don't you surrender 
                                    first?  I don't think that Agent Mulder will be able 
                                    to walk and it would be much easier . . ."
                                    
                                    "No!"  He cut the feisty agent off.  "It must be done 
                                    my way!"
                                    
                                    Mulder didn't want to keep Scully around the unstable 
                                    man any longer than he had to.  With great effort he 
                                    sat up.
                                    
                                    "You can put him on my desk chair and roll him out, 
                                    but please hurry.  I'm losing my patience."
                                    
                                    Scully worked quickly to gather up the first-aid 
                                    supplies and Mulder's gun while Ensminger shoved the 
                                    chair in their direction.  With her help, Mulder just 
                                    made it to the chair before collapsing into it.
                                    
                                    "Now, you two go on out.  I'll be right behind you 
                                    with the gun.  Don't do anything stupid."
                                    
                                    Scully nodded and began to push the chair with one 
                                    hand, while the other tried to keep her partner in 
                                    the seat.  As soon as the two agents cleared the 
                                    doorway, Ensminger pulled the door shut and locked 
                                    it.
                                    
                                    Mulder groaned.  "No!"
                                    
                                    Before Scully could turn around there was a gunshot.  
                                    Its sound echoed up and down the empty hallway.  
                                    Standing on her tiptoes, she looked through the glass 
                                    in the upper part of the door and saw Ensminger lying 
                                    on the floor, the right half of his head completely 
                                    blown away.
                                    
                                    "Please tell me he didn't," Mulder panted.
                                    
                                    "I'm sorry, Mulder."
                                    
                                    "Damn it!"
                                    
                                    Several policemen began to approach.  When Scully 
                                    indicated that they were safe two EMTs came around 
                                    the corner and made their way to Mulder. They began 
                                    to work on him immediately, taking his vital signs.
                                    
                                    "Whoa!" the paramedic taking Mulder's blood pressure 
                                    and pulse exclaimed.  "His pressure is pretty low."
                                    
                                    "We need to load and go then.  Excuse us.  We need to 
                                    get him on that stretcher and out to the ambulance 
                                    right away!"
                                    
                                    The policemen moved aside so that they could make the 
                                    transfer.
                                    
                                    "I'll give my statement at the hospital," Scully told 
                                    them.  "I'm going with my partner."
                                    
                                    No one called her on it and she practically had to 
                                    jog to catch up with the stretcher as it was quickly 
                                    pushed up the hall.  One of the EMTs had placed an 
                                    oxygen mask over Mulder's nose and mouth, almost 
                                    obscuring his face.  His eyes were closed and he was 
                                    extremely pale.  She didn't want to think about it, 
                                    but it reminded her of the time he was shot during 
                                    the Luther Boggs case in North Carolina.  He was 
                                    barely alive by the time they got him to the hospital 
                                    in Raleigh.  "Please God, let him make it to the 
                                    hospital.  Let him live!"
                                    
                                    XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
                                    
                                    The hospital trauma team took over as soon as the 
                                    patient was wheeled in.  "What's the story?"  The 
                                    doctor who seemed to be in charge asked the 
                                    paramedics.
                                    
                                    "This is Fox Mulder, an FBI agent.  He was shot in 
                                    the left hip about 55 minutes ago.  The bullet's 
                                    still in there.  His blood pressure was initially 
                                    quite low in the field . . ."
                                    
                                    The rest of the trauma team continued to work quickly 
                                    and efficiently while the paramedics gave their 
                                    report.  Tests and x-rays were ordered.  In North 
                                    Carolina Scully had looked on in a state of shock.  
                                    This time she stood by Mulder's head, running her 
                                    fingers through his sweat soaked hair, speaking words 
                                    of encouragement.
                                    
                                    By the time he was prepped for surgery, his blood 
                                    pressure was up and he was conscious.  "They're going 
                                    to take you to surgery in a few minutes," Scully 
                                    informed him, cupping his cheek gently in her small, 
                                    warm hand.   
                                    
                                    Mulder looked around blearily, taking note of his 
                                    surroundings.  It finally sunk in.  "No, just need a 
                                    few stitches."
                                    
                                    "I'm sure you'll have a few, but they have to find 
                                    that bleeder and tie it off first partner, and that 
                                    means surgery."
                                    
                                    Shaking his head no, Mulder tried to shift his 
                                    position so that he could see his partner more 
                                    clearly.  "Ow!  Why didn't you tell me not to move?  
                                    Hurts!"
                                    
                                    "Agent Mulder needs something for pain," Scully 
                                    called out to the nurse who was coordinating his 
                                    care.  She squeezed his hand in reassurance, mindful 
                                    of the IV.
                                    
                                    A few moments later Mulder felt the soothing buzz of 
                                    narcotics in his system.
                                    
                                    "Better?"
                                    
                                    Scully was still by his side.  "Yeah, feelin' lots 
                                    better."
                                    
                                    Scully almost laughed.  The drugs had slackened his 
                                    jaw muscles, smoothing out the few lines he had on 
                                    his face.  His dark hair was sweat-soaked and 
                                    tousled, adding to the effect.  He looked like a 
                                    little boy lying there so helplessly, tubes and wires 
                                    all over him.
                                    
                                    "Take a picture.  Lasts longer," Mulder quipped.  He 
                                    had caught his partner staring at him with a big grin 
                                    on her face.
                                    
                                    Before she could even comment, Scully was asked to 
                                    stand aside as several hospital workers got Mulder 
                                    ready to move.
                                    
                                    "Wha's happenin'?"  The stuff they gave him for pain 
                                    wasn't the usual Demerol or morphine.  He wasn't sure 
                                    he liked being that out of it, but it surely did make 
                                    the pain easier to handle.  If he could get his mouth 
                                    and brain to work together Mulder vowed he would ask 
                                    her what they put in his IV.  Right now he needed an 
                                    answer to his earlier question.  The gurney was just 
                                    about out of the room and he wanted to know where he 
                                    was going.
                                    
                                    "Where?"
                                    
                                    "I'm sorry, Mulder.  I started watching them unhook 
                                    all of the monitors and I forgot I hadn't answered.  
                                    You're going to surgery.  Remember now?  The next 
                                    time I see you, I'll bet you'll be feeling much 
                                    better."
                                    
                                    "Yeah, right," he muttered under his breath as the 
                                    gurney cleared the door and started down the hall.
                                    
                                    Scully accompanied them to the surgical floor and 
                                    right up to the big double doors leading to the 
                                    surgical suites.  "Sweet dreams, partner," she 
                                    whispered into his right ear.  "Ill see you in a 
                                    little while," she said brightly as the doors swished 
                                    closed.
                                    
                                    XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
                                    
                                    Three days later Mulder had almost worn out the 
                                    remote for the TV.  He went through the channels one 
                                    more time just to be sure he hadn't missed anything 
                                    on the five previous trips through the airwaves.  
                                    Nope, nothing had changed.  He threw the remote down 
                                    in disgust and watched it bounce off the covers and 
                                    come to rest under his bed.  As he began to pull it 
                                    back up by its cord he was interrupted as two boys 
                                    entered his room, followed by Scully and Mrs. Todd, 
                                    the principal of Mayfield Elementary.
                                    
                                    "I found these young men in the lobby," Scully 
                                    explained cheerfully.  "They said they had some 
                                    deliveries to make."
                                    
                                    "Really?" Mulder asked.
                                    
                                    "Um, we have some presents from our class," Chase 
                                    stated as he shoved a fruit basket toward Mulder.  
                                    Scully took it from him and placed it on the tray 
                                    table.
                                    
                                    "And I have some get well cards that we made."  
                                    Hunter stepped forward and gave him a stack of 
                                    brightly decorated cards.
                                    
                                    "They look very nice.  I'm looking forward to reading 
                                    them."
                                    
                                    "We wanted to show our appreciation for the 
                                    interesting presentation you gave and most of all for 
                                    keeping Chase and Hunter safe," Mrs. Todd explained.
                                    
                                    Mulder blushed and mumbled his thanks for the cards 
                                    and fruit.  He wasn't used to having praise and gifts 
                                    heaped upon him.
                                    
                                    "We'll be going now so that you can rest.  Agent 
                                    Scully told us that you will be allowed out of bed 
                                    for the first time today.  I'm sure you'll need every 
                                    bit of strength you can muster, so we'll get out of 
                                    your way."
                                    
                                    "Yes, I'm afraid you're right.  Thanks again for 
                                    thinking of me, and I too want to express my thanks.  
                                    Chase and Hunter, you were very brave during that 
                                    situation in Mr. Ensminger's room.  The main reason 
                                    we all got out of there alive was because you didn't 
                                    panic."
                                    
                                    Now it was time for the boys to blush.  Mulder shook 
                                    their hands as they left.
                                    
                                    "That was nice of them," Scully commented as soon as 
                                    they were out the door.  She reached into the fruit 
                                    basket and grabbed a Red Delicious apple.
                                    
                                    "Hey!  Save some for me!  I'm going to need my 
                                    strength, you know."
                                    
                                    Scully peered into the large basket.  "Looks like 
                                    there's enough in here for five people, Mulder.  You 
                                    should have energy to spare."
                                    
                                    Mulder snagged a Golden Delicious apple and took a 
                                    bite out of it. "Well, you know the old saying . . ."
                                    
                                    "The one about an apple a day?" Scully grinned.  "Is 
                                    that a hint?"
                                    
                                    "Nope.  Doesn't work anyway," he commented as his 
                                    doctor entered the room.
                                    
                                    XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
                                    
                                    Three days later Mulder waited impatiently for Scully 
                                    to return from her meeting with AD Skinner.  He had 
                                    been released an hour earlier and was anxious to 
                                    leave.  A big smile erupted on his face when she 
                                    entered the room.
                                    
                                    "Well, what did Skinner want?"
                                    
                                    Scully began gathering up the things that Mulder 
                                    would be taking home.  "Oh, nothing much.  He did 
                                    suggest that we consider volunteering to help out 
                                    with the school PR program on a regular basis."
                                    
                                    "Please tell me you didn't say yes."
                                    
                                    "I told him that W.C. Fields made it a policy never 
                                    to work with children or animals and I thought that 
                                    if it worked for him it would work for us also."
                                    
                                    Mulder grinned.  He could picture the conversation 
                                    between Scully and their supervisor.  Scully could be 
                                    rather convincing when she had to be.  "That's my 
                                    Scully.  What did Skinner say?"
                                    
                                    "Oh, something about W.C. Fields not having him as a 
                                    supervisor."
                                    
                                    "And?" Mulder asked warily.  This was not going the 
                                    way he hoped.
                                    
                                    "We return to Mayfield Elementary School a week after 
                                    you return from your medical leave.  This time we get 
                                    the privilege of working with kindergartners."
                                    
                                    "Please tell me you're kidding."  Mulder began to 
                                    look decidedly ill.
                                    
                                    "Fortunately, I am.  Ready to go?"  Scully had to 
                                    turn away from him or else risk laughing 
                                    uncontrollably.
                                    
                                    "Yes," he sighed.
                                    
                                    "I had you didn't I?" she grinned as she turned 
                                    around.
                                    
                                    "Yeah, you got me good, but beware.  I have a couple 
                                    of weeks off now with nothing better to do that think 
                                    of a way to get you back."  Mulder noted.
                                    
                                    "I'm not afraid."  She tossed her head with a look of 
                                    defiance and moved the waiting wheelchair to Mulder's 
                                    side.
                                    
                                    "And why is that?"  Mulder settled himself into the 
                                    chair.
                                    
                                    "I can always change my mind about the kiddy PR."  
                                    She smiled primly and placed the remainder of the 
                                    fruit basket in his lap.
                                    
                                    "That's cruel, Scully."
                                    
                                    "Yep, it is isn't it?"  She grabbed a pear from the 
                                    fruit basket and took a big, juicy bite.  "It's a 
                                    good thing we're such good friends isn't it?"
                                    
                                    "Uh-huh.  Take me home, friend."
                                    
                                    
                                    End