The next morning found Mulder unable to sit up due to
weakness and increased stomach pain. Wilson had
roused them before the sun came up, bringing their
breakfast consisting of a thermos of coffee and a bag
of stale donuts.
"You enjoy that now. Boys, I'll be back for you in a
few minutes." He turned and shut the door, locking
it as he left.
"How many donuts are there?" Zach asked, hoping he
would get more than one.
Tyler counted them twice. "We've got eight!" he
announced, excitement evident in his voice. They
weren't used to getting breakfast.
"You can split Mulder's and one of mine," Scully
"Awesome!" Zach crowded in to get his allotment
"Take it easy, Zach. No one's going to take your
share," Tyler admonished.
"Just makin' sure I get what I deserve."
Tyler muttered something under his breath.
"What did you say?" Zach demanded.
"I was just about to tell you what you really
"And just what would that be?" Zack angrily turned
to him, a menacing look in his eyes.
"Hey, guys! Knock it off!" Scully yelled, pushing
her way in between them. "If you want to get out of
here you'll need to cooperate . . .with each other!"
The two young men faced each other, anger still
evident in their expressions. Finally, Tyler backed
down. "Sorry, man, I guess this situation is getting
"Same here," Zach agreed. "Agent Scully is right.
We need to work together. Who knows what these guys
have planned for when they've finished. We need to
keep our wits about us."
"Then, let's chow down so we can get to work. Maybe
we can get out of here tonight."
Once the young men got their donuts and coffee,
Scully fixed herself a cup of coffee and grabbed a
donut for herself. She sat down beside Mulder who
had been watching the entire scene. He looked even
worse than before.
"You would make a good high school principal," he
"What makes you say that?"
"Oh, the way you got right in there and didn't back
down. Your mere presence resolved what could have
been a tricky situation."
"I'll keep that in mind for my next incarnation,"
Scully chuckled. "How about drinking a sip of water
"Don't think so," he refused.
"You need to try. Please? For me?"
"You're not playing fair, Scully," Mulder complained,
trying to sit up.
Scully put her coffee and donut down and helped her
partner get comfortable. "Why am I not playing
"You know that I can't turn down any request from
"Mulder, you are so full of it," she laughed
searching for the water bottle.
"Name the last request I turned down."
"I seem to remember asking you to drink some water
several times during the night. Is that enough or do
you want me to start on the previous day?"
"I was thinking of other requests, you know? The
ones that don't concern water."
"Sorry, you didn't specify that." She handed him the
water bottle. "Two sips nice and slow."
"Here goes nothing," he sighed and took a short sip.
After waiting a few minutes he took another swig and
handed the bottle back. "I'm gonna lie down for a
bit before my stomach reverses itself again."
Tyler and Zach finished their breakfast. "We're
going to spread this tarp out on the floor. You and
Agent Mulder can use it as a barrier between your
bodies and the floor. Maybe it will take some of the
"Good idea. Thanks guys."
No sooner had they spread the tarp out, the door
opened revealing both brothers, each with a gun
pointed at their captives.
"All right college boys, haul your asses out here.
If you work extra hard today you might be home by
tomorrow," Wilson told them.
When they reached the door Wilson allowed them to
pass. He pointed his shotgun at their backs and
ordered them to hurry. Wayne put his hand on the
door handle to shut it then paused. "How is Mr.
"He's worse. He needs to be in a hospital."
"If those two college boys work hard we'll be out of
here tonight. We'll call somebody to come and get
"He might not have that much time."
"Well, all I can tell you is that he'd better hang
on." With that Wayne shut the door and locked it.
"I'm gonna make it, Scully," Mulder promised. "Just
so I can catch those two idiots and put them behind
"And I'll be right beside you making sure their cuffs
are extra tight," Scully vowed with a grin. "Let's
get you moved onto the tarp. Can you help?"
"Yeah," he answered summoning all his strength to
push up on his elbows.
Scully finally had to drag him onto the tarp when his
strength gave out. "Mulder, you still with me?"
"Uh-huh," he answered shakily. "Cold."
"I need to check your temperature again. Can you
hold the thermometer under your tongue?"
Scully positioned the thermometer and waited for it
to beep. When it signaled its completion she removed
it, clicking on the flashlight so she could see.
"102.6," she announced. "Do you think you could get
some aspirin down?"
"Yeah, I think so. Stomach hurts but I don't feel
like throwing up right this minute."
"Good. If you can keep them down you should start to
feel a little better."
"How much better?"
"It should bring your temp down a bit. I can't
promise any more than that."
"How will you treat this, whatever it is that's
making me sick?"
"It depends on what's causing it. You'll have to
have some diagnostic tests."
"Blood work, CT scan, ultra scan, maybe a biopsy."
"Can't wait," he said sarcastically.
"You'll need an IV to replenish your fluids and maybe
an NG tube."
"Sorry I asked," he groaned. "I hate those things."
"I know that they're unpleasant, but if you can't
stop vomiting it'll help. Let me find that aspirin."
She searched through her kit and quickly found them.
In the space of time that she turned away from
Mulder, he took a turn for the worse.
"No aspirin! I'm gonna puke again."
Scully began to worry as the dry heaves continued for
an alarming amount of time. He finally collapsed,
"Mulder, I'm so sorry. I'm going to give you another
injection and from here on out I won't ask you to
drink any more water."
"Thanks," he managed, unable to even open his eyes.
"You do that."
He was out completely by the time she had the
injection ready. She administered it and pulled him
back to her lap. She smoothed the sweat-dampened
hair back from his forehead and prayed that help
would arrive in time.
Mulder moaned and tried to shift his position.
"Take it easy, partner. You're going to be okay."
"Don't think so. Hurt so bad and feel so sick, I
think I'm going to die."
Scully tried to swallow the lump that was stuck in
her throat. "Shh! Stop talking like that! You're
very ill but you're going to pull through this.
You're going to feel like hell for a few days but you
will get over this."
"Just hold me."
Scully pulled him up until he was in her arms.
"Anytime, Mulder," she whispered, kissing him softly
on his right check, then his lips.
"Now, I know I'm dying. You never did that before."
"You're not dying and I've wanted to do that for a
long time. You hang in there so I can do it some
"I'll try," he sighed. "Want more kisses."
"When you get better we might try something more
advanced than kissing. Okay?"
Mulder managed to open his eyes. "Promise?"
He closed his eyes again. "Gotta rest, build my
"You do that," she smiled placing another kiss on his
Around 1 PM the boys were shoved unceremoniously back
into the shed, their meal thrown in behind them.
"Lunch time already?"
"Yeah, if that's what you want to call it," Tyler
answered as Zach began pulling out what passed for
sandwiches. "He's worse isn't he?" he asked nodding
toward Mulder's lifeless form.
"Yes, he is. He's been unconscious for the past two
hours. I was sincerely hoping that the sheriff might
have found us by now," Scully sighed.
"Oh, come on! That stupid sheriff is doing well to
find his way to his car every morning!" Zach
exploded. "We've been missing for two weeks and he
hasn't found us. For Pete's sake! We're only a few
miles from where we started out!"
"Zach, that's enough!" Tyler exclaimed. "I'm sorry
Agent Scully. Look, it's not going to take us much
longer to finish with that field. Another couple of
hours, tops. If these guys do what they've said we
could be out of here by tonight. Don't give up."
"I haven't given up, Tyler," she sighed. "Mulder
needs medical intervention now. His vital signs are
beginning to de-stabilize. He doesn't have much time
"Wow, Agent Scully, I didn't realize it was so
serious. Zach and I will just have to work twice as
"Shut-up!" Zach yelled.
"What are you yelling about?"
"Shh! I hear something."
Scully and Tyler stopped talking and joined Zach in
listening for the slightest sound.
"It's a helicopter!" Scully shouted.
As they continued to listen the helicopter came
closer, then moved away again.
"Damn it!" Scully cried in frustration.
Outside Wayne and Wilson began to run for their
truck. "Let's get out of here!"
"What about the kids and the F.B.I. agents?" Wayne
asked as he climbed into the driver's seat.
"They'll find them, eventually. Who cares?" Wilson
assured him. "Now, get us out of here before they
find us too!"
As soon as Wilson slammed his door Wayne floored the
gas pedal and took off, leaving a cloud of dust in
"They're gone!" Zach exclaimed, "Tyler, help me knock
this door down."
As the young men began trying to kick the door down,
the sound of the helicopter was heard again, sending
them into a frenzy. The poorly made door was soon
hanging crookedly from one hinge.
Tyler and Zach pulled it off and ran outside, yelling
and waving, trying to get the helicopter's attention.
Scully gave silent thanks as the sound grew louder,
then hovered mercifully directly overhead.
University of Kentucky Medical
"Agent Scully," Sheriff Chambers greeted her, taking
a seat beside her. "Any word on Agent Mulder yet?"
"They've got him stabilized and now they're running
some diagnostic tests."
"Is he going to be all right?"
She sighed. The last few days had taken their toll.
"I think so, but it was a close thing."
"I'm sorry. I don't know how we missed it before,"
he apologized. "We should have found those boys in
the first few days."
"Well, it was way off the trail and pretty well
hidden with all of the marijuana."
"That's no excuse. The good thing is that we have
the McGowen brothers in custody and they're being
very cooperative. Neither one of them is the
brightest bulb on the string, if you get my meanin'"
"Yes, Sheriff, believe me. I know what you mean."
"Although, I was surprised that they were able to
pull off that little UFO, alien show in the woods.
Scared the crap out of a lot of people."
"Well, I guess it served its purpose. It kept
everyone away except the drunkest college students,"
"Yeah, the last I heard those boys had cleaned up and
were chowin' down on whatever wasn't tied down."
"I can only imagine. They were a bit hungry. Thank
you for driving to Lexington to fill me in, Sheriff.
I realize it's out of your way."
"Agent Scully, it's the least I could do after
messin' up so bad on this thing. You two wouldn't
have been called in if I'd done my job a little
better. I've got plenty of help in town. We're just
waitin' for the narcotics guys to get there and pick
up the McGowens. I intend to stay here with you
until you find out something about your partner."
"Thank you, but you don't have to do that," Scully
"Oh, yes, I do. I hope you don't mind, but I stopped
off at your motel rooms and packed some things for
the both of you. I thought you might appreciate a
change of clothes," the sheriff grinned.
Scully almost sighed with pleasure. She was hot,
dirty and smelly from her time in the shed. "Yes, I
would. Thank you. Maybe I can find someplace to
take a shower too."
"I'll tell you what. You sit right there while I run
to my car and get those things I brought and I'll see
about that shower on my way back up."
"Thank you, Sheriff."
When Scully finished her shower, she found the
sheriff still in the waiting room. He had gone to
the cafeteria and brought back an assortment of
sandwiches and a salad with an array of dressings.
"I didn't know what you would prefer, so I got
"Sheriff Chambers, you're too kind."
"No, I'm not. I know you've got to be hungry. Those
kids said you gave them most of your food," he
explained. "Now, eat up. If you would rather have
something else just let me know and I'll get it."
"No, this is fine," she assured him, picking up a
turkey sandwich and the salad.
"Is someone here with Mr. Mulder?" a male voice
"I am," Scully answered, jumping to her feet. "I'm
Agent Scully, his partner."
"Pleased to meet you. I'm Dr. Reed. I've been
called in to manage his case. Let's have a seat. I
could use a break," he sighed, sitting down heavily
and propping his feet up on an adjacent chair.
"How is he?" Scully asked apprehensively.
"He's shown quite a bit of improvement over the past
hour. His vitals have stabilized and he has regained
"He's still very sick, however."
"Do you have a diagnosis yet?"
"Yes, I do. As you suspected he has acute
pancreatitis. Since you said he isn't a heavy
drinker we gave him a fairly thorough examination
including blood work, ultrasound and a CT scan. At
this time everything seems to point to gallstones as
the cause of this attack. He has several and his
bile duct was probably blocked at one time, although
it seems to be clear at present. His color has
improved dramatically and the jaundice has almost
"Great, but the gallstones are a bit surprising. He
hadn't mentioned anything about feeling ill before
all of this started."
"The symptoms may have been mild enough that he
dismissed them as indigestion or a light stomach
virus," Doctor Reed suggested.
"What are your plans for treatment?' Scully
"Well, he's going to the ICU for at least 24 hours.
Although he has improved, I'd like for him to be
closely monitored. We put in an NG tube and I've
prescribed antibiotics and some drugs to slow down
the production of his stomach juices."
Scully smiled at his use of laymen's terms. At least
she wouldn't have to explain it to the sheriff.
"That sounds like a good course of treatment," she
agreed. "What about the gallstones? Do you think
they'll need to be removed?"
"Most definitely, but I'd like to wait until he
regains some strength. I think he should start to
recover quickly with the proper medication and rest.
He can probably wait to have the stones removed after
he goes home."
"That's wonderful news. When can I see him?"
"He should be on his way to the ICU as we speak. Why
don't you give them around 45 minutes or so to get
him settled in," the doctor suggested.
"I would like to stay with him," Scully stated
"Normally, I wouldn't allow it, but I understand you
have a medical background so you should know the ins
and outs of the procedures and rules in the ICU.
I'll be sure the ICU staff knows to expect you. Any
"Not at this time."
Doctor Reed rose tiredly from his seat. "I'm on
until 10 PM. Don't hesitate to have me paged if
anything comes up."
"Thank you, Doctor."
Dr. Reed nodded and left.
"Now, that sounds like good news, Agent Scully," the
"Yes, it does," Scully smiled back
"We'll you'd better dig in and eat if you're gonna
stay with him."
"Don't mind if I do. My appetite has just improved
Forty-eight minutes later Scully was escorted to
Mulder's cubicle in the ICU. She stopped in the
doorway and observed him. He was lying on his back
with the bed slightly raised. He appeared to be
sleeping despite the NG tube in his nose, an IV in
each arm and a wide array of tubes and monitor wires.
"Oh, Mulder," Scully whispered. She knew that he had
to be extremely uncomfortable and a tear ran down the
left side of her face. She quickly wiped it away.
"Scully, don't cry," Mulder ordered hoarsely. "I'm
She quickly made her way to his side. "How do you
"Like hell," he sighed, "But if I'm not crying, you
can't cry either."
"I'm sorry, Mulder. I was just thinking of how
uncomfortable you must be."
"It's not so bad," he assured her. "I actually feel
a little better."
"Wonderful!" she exclaimed as she moved the chair
from the corner to his bedside. "You're going to be
"I know. The doc already filled me in. You look
nice, by the way. Smell nice too."
"The sheriff was thoughtful enough to bring us both
some things from the motel, and the hospital let me
use a shower in the doctor's changing area," Scully
explained. "And you look like you've been cleaned up
a bit yourself." She leaned over to give him a kiss
on his left cheek.
"Mmm, I like your kisses," Mulder grinned, trying
hard to keep his eyes open.
"The better you feel, the more you'll get."
"I'm trying very hard to get well," he promised.
"How's the stomach pain?" Scully inquired.
"Still hurts, but more of a dull ache instead of the
excruciating pain I was having." He still struggled
to keep his eyes open.
"Mulder, I want you to keep your eyes closed so you
"I'd rather look at you. They catch those guys yet?"
"Oh, the McGowen brothers? Yes, they're in custody.
Sheriff Chambers and his men had the drop on them
before they were out of the forest."
"Good," he yawned, then winced as pain lanced across
"Sleep, partner. I'm going to stay with you until
you get out of ICU, so rest. I've got your back."
"Thanks," Mulder sighed as the drugs finally won the
battle and he sank into sleep.
Although he was improving slowly but surely, the next
few hours were anything but pleasant for Mulder.
Even though the drugs and NG tube kept him from
vomiting, he could taste and smell the plastic, which
kept him nauseated.
The stomach pain wasn't the terrible, knifing pains
he'd felt earlier, yet it was still severe enough to
keep the agent from sleeping for more than a few
minutes at a time, but even that wasn't the worst of
Mulder was thirsty. His mouth and throat were
parched. He wished that Scully was still nagging him
every five minutes to swallow some water, but she had
"When can I have something to drink?" He'd noted
that the customary water pitcher and cup was missing
from his bedside table. It was difficult to speak
around the irritation from the NG tube and he felt
that just a little water would feel so good to his
"I'm not sure, Mulder. The doctor wants to give your
stomach a rest."
"Gotta have something wet," he groaned.
"I can give you a swig of water to swish around in
your mouth, but you have to promise to spit it out.
You cannot swallow it. Deal?"
Mulder kept his word, spitting the small amount of
water into the emesis basin Scully held beneath his
"Better?" she asked as he sank back onto his pillow,
clearly exhausted from the slight effort.
"I'm sorry, Mulder, but that's the best I can do
"I understand, Scully. I just didn't think that
getting better would be so miserable."
"I'm going to have your doctor paged. He needs to
adjust your pain medication. You need to get some
"No, don't. Just talk to me. That will help."
"Any particular subject?" she asked.
"You. Us. Our future."
"You don't go for the easiest subjects do you?"
"I'd like for it to be easy," he said hopefully.
"Then, let's analyze what we have," Scully decided.
"Correct me if I'm wrong at any time, Mulder."
"Okay," he agreed wincing from the pain, his fingers
finding her hand.
"Mulder, I don't think you should be talking. Let me
see if I can get you some more pain medication."
"I'm okay. If I'm not screaming my head off I'm
handling it. Talking helps."
"Okay," she agreed uncertainly. "We were analyzing
our situation, right?"
"I think we finally acknowledged that we have
feelings for each other."
"Oh, yeah." He squeezed her hand.
"Now, we need to decide what type of feelings we
have. Deep friendship?"
"Yes, and no," Mulder answered, biting his lip.
"Friends, but more than that."
"Yes, I can agree with that. How much more than
"Quit beating around the bush," Mulder said abruptly.
"I love you. I'm in love with you."
"Oh, Mulder . . ." Scully started.
"You don't share my feelings," he sighed, closing his
"Stop jumping to conclusions," Scully advised gently,
caressing Mulder's stubbled cheek. "I share your
feelings. Mulder, I'm in love with you too."
His eyes opened in all their intensity and looked at
her with love and wonder as she leaned over, gently
kissing his lips. "I know I promised you more and
better kisses when we were in that shed, but I think
we need to wait until you get rid of that NG tube."
"Now, there's some incentive. Think I'll get rid of
the catheter at the same time?"
"Yes, hurry up and get better. We have a lot to
catch up with."
"How long, Mulder?"
"How long have you loved me?"
"For so long that I can't remember when my feelings
changed from friendship to love. How about you?"
"I think I realized it when you were taken from me.
I was totally lost without you. Nothing was right
until you surprised us all and came out of that
coma." He looked away then, unable to meet her gaze
afraid she would see the tears that were threatening.
Scully acknowledged him, wiping a tear from her own
eye. Mulder weakly raised a hand to help. She held
his hand there against her cheek, enjoying the feel
of his skin on hers.
He closed his eyes and sighed contentedly. When he
didn't speak for a time, Scully assumed he was asleep
and tried to tuck his arm under the covers, mindful
of all the wires and tubing.
"So there is an us? I haven't been having crazy,
"There definitely is an us," she smiled.
"Then what are we going to do about it?"
"First, you're going to get well and get your
"I want you to make love to me fast and furiously,
then slowly and tenderly and all speeds in between."
"All in one day?" he gasped.
"No schedule. However long it takes."
"That could take a lifetime," Mulder suggested.
"That's exactly what I had in mind."
"Does that mean what I think it means?" he asked
"If you plan on us spending the rest of our lives
together, then you're absolutely, 100% correct,"
Scully informed him with a beaming smile.
"Scully, I'd get down on my knee but . . ."
"That's not necessary, but perhaps you should ask
Bill for my hand in marriage," Scully suggested, a
twinkle in her eyes.
A look of shock appeared on his face. "Couldn't I
just ask your mom?"
"I'm just teasing you. You don't need to ask
anyone's permission but my own, and you have that."
"Had me worried for a minute there," Mulder sighed,
his voice beginning to weaken.
"Now that we've settled the major points, how about
trying to sleep for a little while? We'll have lots
of time to talk over the little things later."
"I'm so happy right now and so excited, but I'll
"You need your strength for all of the little things
to come now that the big things are out of the way."
She kissed his hand and tucked it under the sheet.
This time he didn't stir. He was finally sleeping
peacefully, a goofy grin on his face.
Five days later, Mulder had recovered sufficiently to
be transferred to a hospital in DC. He had barely
gotten settled into his room when there was a knock
at the door and AD Skinner entered.
"Welcome home, agents."
"Thank you, sir," Scully answered letting go of
Mulder's hand and rising from her seat.
"That's not necessary, Agent Scully. Agent Mulder,
how are you feeling?"
"Much better, sir."
"I understand you had quite an adventure in
"Yes, sir. It did turn out to be a lot more involved
than we'd planned," Mulder answered, reaching for
Scully's hand as she sat back down.
"I've had nothing but excellent reports from the
local law enforcement people on this one," Skinner
informed them, looking as if he still couldn't
believe the unusual praise heaped upon his two
"We really don't deserve any credit, sir. We
literally stumbled onto the McGowen brother's little
operation," Scully protested.
"Yes, sir, my original theory on the student's
disappearance was far from the actual circumstances."
"Well, you're still responsible for their safe return
and keeping many thousands of dollars worth of
marijuana off the streets."
"Thank you, sir," Mulder acknowledged, giving
Scully's hand a squeeze.
Skinner pretended not to notice as he asked, "Mulder,
what's the plan of treatment now that you're back
"The doctor wants to remove my gallbladder and all of
those pesky gallstones that I didn't know I had."
"So, you're still several weeks from returning to
"Yes, sir," Scully piped in. "Although gallbladder
surgery is now done using small incisions most of the
time, Mulder may still need up to a month to get his
strength back. The pancreatitis has left him quite
"Yes, I understand you were critically ill after your
"Yes, I was, but Scully pulled me through it. I
couldn't imagine anyone else staying by my side and
talking me through the worst of it."
"Neither could I," Skinner thought. He had sensed a
change in their relationship as soon as Scully had
called in her initial report. Now, it was even more
evident in person. "I suppose you'll be at loose
ends for a while then, Agent Scully?"
"I hope not, sir. With your permission I'd like to
use some personal time to stay with Mulder until he
has his surgery and is over the worst of that."
"I don't see where that will be a problem. If I'm
not mistaken you were already scheduled for two weeks
vacation time to start in seven days," he continued.
Her face brightened. "Uh, yes, sir. With all that's
happened I'd almost forgotten about that."
"Oh, really?" Skinner smiled politely while he
thought about his agents. He'd be willing to bet
that they wound up spending those two weeks together.
In fact, he had money in the office pool predicting
when Mulder and Scully would finally make their
relationship official. He'd have to get Kimberly to
check his latest guess when he returned to the
office. He had a feeling there might be an
"Well, Agent Scully, other than filing the report on
this assignment, I don't really see any reason for
you to come in until your vacation is over."
"I'll take care of that as soon as possible, sir."
"That would be the best course of action. Get to it
while it's still fresh in your mind."
"If Scully will bring my laptop, I'll file my report
before I have my surgery," Mulder volunteered.
"Oh, I don't think that will be necessary. From the
reports I got from the sheriff and the Medical Center
you probably don't remember much."
"You're right, sir. I don't remember a whole lot
after we were captured."
Skinner could tell that Mulder wasn't being
completely truthful. From the looks of their
newfound closeness, he was sure that he remembered
quite a bit, although it probably didn't relate to
the case. He had just one more question to ask
before he went back to the office to have Kimberly
look up the records on the office pool.
"Where do you two plan on going for that vacation?"
he asked innocently.
"Oh, we're thinking about heading to Vegas, then
maybe Mexico," Mulder spoke up then realized that he
had been set up.
Scully looked at Mulder, dismay showing.
"You're good, sir," Mulder chuckled.
"That's why I'm an AD," he grinned. "Agent Mulder,
take care. I hope your recuperation is fast and as
pain-free as possible."
"And agents, I hope you both enjoy your time out
west. I hope you'll be well rested and ready to work
together when you return."
"That's what we had planned, sir," Scully stated,
"I'll see you in three or four weeks then."
"Yes, sir," they said in unison as Skinner left
Outside, Skinner was quite pleased with himself and
his agents. If he wasn't mistaken, he was in line to
win the Mulder/Scully office pool, which was worth
over $500. It looked like the X-Files team had won
the biggest prize though, a lifetime of love with