"Wishing Thinking"

by Jen & Lauren

JenR13@aol.com & JRDG1013@aol.com

 

 

SPOILERS: A mention of Die Hand Die Verletzt and (very) small

mentions of episodes up to and including Detour (if you would

like a timeline of this story, assume it takes place before

"The End" in Season 5)

 

RATING: PG-13

 

CLASSIFICATION: XA (Yes, it has a plot{g})

 

KEYWORDS: Mulder/Scully UST, Muldertorture

 

ARCHIVE: Sure, why not? :-)

 

SUMMARY: Wishes can't come true, or can they?

 

 

DISCLAIMER: Well, we have all heard it a million times, but here

goes: Don't worry Chris, we only _borrowed_ your toys, and our

mommies taught that borrowing means _you have to give them back_.

So, although Mulder is bit damaged (but Chris, when is he not?

{g}), we hand all your characters back into your hands.

 

AUTHOR'S NOTES: Happy 2nd story to us! :-) This is the second

story that we have written together, but certainly not the

last! :-) And as it has to be said, if you find some minor

mistakes, please don't write us countless letters about them,

because we already know they exist :-). We, like the rest of

the whole world, are not perfect, especially when it comes to

proofreading 158 pages! {g}

 

"Wishful Thinking"

By Jen and Lauren

Ó 1998

 

 

The crowd cheered as 14-year-old Sarah Martin finished

her piano piece. {Another perfect one. What else would she

play?} her sister, Katie, thought sarcastically as her sister

stood up for another bow. {Another piano recital down. Only

about 6 million left to live through.} And Katie was only 12.

{Only 6 more years to go through, I hope.}

 

Katie watched her sister Sarah get congratulated by her

family, friends, and her piano teacher. {Why does my sister

have to be so perfect?} Besides Sarah's piano skills, she also

had a 4.0 GPA. Katie always heard her parents say: "Why can't

you more like your sister?" God, she hated that. So, what

if she didn't have the best grades or fantastic music skills?

So what if she wasn't as pretty or popular? So what if she

didn't turn the heads? {I'm special,} she thought {In some

way. I just haven't found what way that is yet.} She turned

back to her sister. Her parents came up to her.

 

"Katie, aren't you proud of your sister?" her mother

asked.

 

Katie smiled. "Of course, Mom. Of course." But Katie

was thinking the opposite. she thought in the same way every

kid thought of their over-achieving sister. But this time it

was different. Katie watched her smiling sister walk toward

her. Sarah suddenly stumbled and fell to the floor. People

started running toward her.

 

"She's not breathing!! Someone call an ambulance!!"

 

Katie watched the scene unfold before her eyes. She half

heard the cries behind her. She was only focused on one thing

in the room: her sister.

 

"I didn't mean it," she whispered, tears falling from her

eyes. "I didn't mean it."

 

 

J. Edgar Hoover Building

Washington, D.C.

8:30 a.m.

 

"Earth to Mulder."

 

Fox Mulder jumped and looked up from the file he was

reading. His partner, Dana Scully, stood in front of his desk.

 

"I've been calling your name for the last three minutes.

What has you so involved?" she asked, walking around the desk to

get a better look at the folder.

 

"This." Mulder handed the folder up over his shoulders

to Scully. She walked around to the front of the desk again,

flipping through it as she walked. After a minute she shut it.

 

"Why don't we save time and you tell what is in here,"

she said, indicating the folder.

 

"Thought you would never ask." Mulder picked up a picture

off of his desk and held it up. "This is 14-year-old Sarah

Martin. A resident of a little town in New Jersey called

Rutherford. Not far from the Meadowlands Sports complex," he

said with a smile. "Pretty little girl. Quite a piano player,

too."

 

Scully took the photo from Mulder's hand and took a closer

look at it. The girl in the photo was pretty, with brown hair

and brown eyes. "And?. . . ."

 

"And she was a happy, healthy, active teenager until

two days ago. Now she's a corpse. Collapsed shortly after

playing in her piano recital. In front of 200 people. The

cause of death, well, that why this file made it way down to

the basement, Scully."

 

"And the cause of death would be?. . . ."

 

Mulder got up, walked over to Scully, and opened the

folder in her hands. "I believe you will find it on page 9."

 

Scully raised her eyebrows and looked at the folder.

"Strangulation?"

 

"Yep. With the signs of it around her neck. Sarah,

apparently, fell to the floor, at her recital, in front of 200

people remember, gasping for air. She was dead by the time

the ambulance arrived. Not one of the people there saw

anyone close to Sarah in those seconds before she collapsed,

never mind close enough to strangle her." He walked back

his desk and opened the drawer.

 

Scully's skepticism shot up at once. "Mulder, that's

not possible. Maybe there was a mistake in the autopsy."

 

Mulder looked up her. "Look at those photos, Scully.

I don't think that is a mistake. But I did arrange for you to

look at the body when we get there. So you can check it out for

yourself." He put two airline tickets on the desk. "Our flight

is at noon. We lucked out. An hour flight."

 

Scully sighed. "I guess I better go home and pack."

 

Flight 456

On the runway

12:27 p.m.

 

Scully tapped her fingers on her arm rest. They had

been stuck on the runway for the last half an hour. She took

her fingers off of the armrest and was now playing with them

on her lap.

 

"Impatient, Scully?" Mulder asked as he sat down in his

seat next to Scully.

 

"I just wish we would get this over with," Scully

muttered. She wasn't fond of plane rides. She remembered

the first plane ride she took with Mulder. The plane had

dipped and while she had grabbed her seat, Mulder acted like

nothing was happening. {Typical Mulder} she thought.

 

"Well, I just talked to one of the flight attendants.

She said there was a long line for take-off. We should get

going in a minute," Mulder said, settling down in his seat.

 

"Which flight attendant, Mulder? The blond one?" Scully

teased.

 

"Of course, who else?" he answered with a grin. The

plane started moving then. The seatbelt sign flashed on and

Scully buckled her seatbelt.

 

It was a calm peaceful ride for about 10 minutes. Mulder

was sitting in his seat with his eyes closed. {Of course he

can sleep on a plane, but not in his apartment} Scully thought

with a smile. Suddenly turbulence hit. The plane jostled.

Scully gripped her seat so tightly that her knuckles turned

white. She turned toward her partner. He was looking with her,

with a sly grin on her face.

 

With the plane still in turbulence, Mulder said, with

a straight face, "Scully, I've never seen someone grip

something so tight. Your boyfriends must be very satisfied."

 

{Of course, he think about sex at a time like this}

Scully thought, still holding her seat. Mulder noticed that

and gripped her hand with his. They looked at each other.

 

"Dare me to hit on that flight attendant now?" Mulder

said with a smile.

 

Scully had to smile at that. The turbulence subsided

then.

 

"Thanks for the distraction, Mulder," she said softly.

 

"Aw Scully, I'd offer to hit on any flight attendant

for you," he answered and settled into his seat and closed

his eyes again.

 

Newark Airport

Newark, NJ

2:39 p.m.

 

Mulder rubbed his eyes as he walked up to the rent-a-car.

 

"What's the matter?" Scully asked. "The flight too

short for you this time?" {Considering it is the only time you

probably slept today} she thought {It probably was.}

 

"Maybe," he said and gave their names to the people at

the desk. She then handed him a key and pointed toward the

parking lot. They walked in silence to the parking lot.

 

"Give me the keys, Mulder," Scully said simply when

hey reached the car.

 

Mulder looked at her.

 

"You're tired and I want to drive. That too much to ask

for?" Mulder handed the keys over to her without a word.

 

On the Highway

3:15 p.m.

As Scully kept her eyes on the road, Mulder took the

opportunity to look over the case some more.

 

"You can do your autopsy whenever, Scully," he said.

"I want to talk to the family."

 

"And I wouldn't? Where is this motel, by the way?"

she asked, as she turned off of the highway.

 

"There, Scully." Mulder pointed to a small motel

sandwiched between houses and a Burger King. The sign

outside proudly announced "Free HBO."

 

"We even get free HBO, Scully. Guess the perks just

don't stop."

 

Scully parked the car on the street, not seeing a

parking lot.

 

"This is the only motel in Rutherford?" Scully asked,

still gazing at it through her window.

 

"Well, no. Actually Rutherford doesn't have a motel.

We are about 50 feet from Rutherford in Lyndhurst."

 

"Didn't know you knew so much about New Jersey, Mulder,"

Scully remarked, as she climbed out of the car.

 

"See, Scully, I do my homework. Let's get checked in."

He headed for the motel. Scully sighed and followed.

 

Motel

Lyndhurst, NJ

4:03 p.m.

 

 

Scully quickly rummaged through her suitcase for a more

comfortable pair of shoes. She had just spent a half hour on

her feet as Mulder tried to get a room in the motel. They had

arrived at the clerk's desk and found no one there. Mulder had

tracked down two maids, but no manager. Finally the guy

arrived and they got to check in. And it was 4 o'clock.

Scully sighed as she found another pair of shoes that

(fortunately) matched her outfit, put them on, and walked next

door to Mulder's room and knocked on the door.

 

"Who is it?" came the reply from within.

 

"Mulder, it's me," she replied, knowing that Mulder would

instantly know who it was.

 

"Scully, come in, the door's open."

 

Scully walked in to an empty room. Mulder's suitcase

lay open and the contents lay spawled out on the bed. {Leave

it to Mulder. We are here less than ten minutes and he's

already made a mess} she thought.

 

"I'm almost ready to go," Mulder said as he peeked his

head out the bathroom door. Scully noticed something different

about him. True to his word, Mulder was out of the bathroom

two minutes later. Scully immediately eyed him.

 

Mulder felt Scully's eyes on him as he grabbed his badge

and gun from the dresser. "Do I look that good today to have

the pleasure of being ogled?"

 

Scully ignored that comment and walked up to him and

fingered his tie. "Your tie! It's...it's..."

 

"It's what?" Mulder was clueless now.

 

"It's nice and......normal." Scully dropped his tie.

 

Mulder looked down. "Yeah, well, I kinda spilled iced

tea on my alien one on the plane," he said and walked toward

the door. Scully stood there for a moment.

 

"Scully, are you coming? You said you wanted to come

to the Martins' with me." Mulder looked at her oddly.

 

Scully shook her head. "Yeah, I'm coming." Since when

did her partner's tie bother her?

 

On the Road

5:17 p.m.

 

Scully drove again.

 

"I never said I knew New Jersey well. You did, remember?"

Mulder was saying.

 

Scully slouched in the driver's seat and mumbled some-

thing incoherent.

 

"Hm?"

 

She glared at him. "I can't believe you got us lost."

 

"We're not lost. I know exactly where we are... we're

at," He turned to read the sign. "Bobby's Bar and Afghani

cuisine and gift shop." He opened his door and jumped out.

"Maybe Bobby's got a map or at least an employee with a sense

of direction. And Scully? It wasn't my fault we got lost, it

was that woman at the gas station who convinced us to turn

left when I said right."

 

"Uh huh." She had past him and was inside Bobby's.

"Phew," she said when a blast of smoke hit her full in the face.

She walked up to the counter where a bored looking lady was

smoking a cigarette and simultaneously chewing gum, a feat

which Scully figured must take some talent. "Excuse me, can

you direct us to Partrick Rd... in Rutherford?"

 

The lady eyed Scully. "You're on Partrick."

 

Scully felt an overwhelming urge to pull out her badge

and flash her officialness in the rude lady's face, but

instead she dug the toe of her shoe into the scuffed tile

floor. "All right, I'm looking for number 47."

 

"Congratulations."

 

There was a long pause. Scully glanced longingly over

her shoulder to locate Mulder; she found him reading Hallmark

cards across the room. She turned back to the lady. "Look,

what number are we on Partrick."

 

The lady took a moment, apparently trying to come up

with a smart-alec remark but, finding none, replied, "Forty-

three."

 

"We're two houses down from forty seven?"

 

She nodded and rubbed her cigarette out on the filthy

counter top and popped her gum.

 

Scully glared at Mulder. "Thanks a lot," she told the

lady. On the way out she tapped her partner on the arm.

 

She drove the full 20 feet to the Martins' house then

got out of the car and moved quickly up to the house, still

not saying anything to Mulder.

 

"Hey," He had caught up with her in a few long strides.

"What's up with--"

 

The door opened and cut off his inquiry. A middle aged

woman, most likely Mrs. Martin, stood before them, wearing a

moo-moo and her hair in a loose bun. "Hello?"

 

Scully asserted, pulled out her badge. "Hello, I'm

Agent Scully, we spoke on the phone earlier." She acknowledged

Mulder. "And this is Agent Mulder."

 

"Yes, yes," she gave a warm smile. {What did this

poor woman do to deserve her daughter taken away?} Scully

wondered. "Please come in, my husband should be home any

moment now."

 

They entered a dimly lit living room area; a floral

print couch was in the middle and Scully and Mulder sat there

while Mrs. Martin went to the stairs. With one hand on the

banister she leaned up and called, "Katie. Katie, come

downstairs, I need you to talk to some people."

 

There was a silence then a Scully heard a voice call,

"Okay." and a minute later a young girl came down the steps,

jumping from the third to the bottom to land with a thud on

the uneven wooden planks.

 

"Katie, these are Agents Mulder and Scully. Will you

sit with us for a few minutes to talk about Sarah?" Her

voice softened when she said her older daughter's name.

 

Katie looked hesitant but stepped over to the armchair,

draped in another floral print, and sat, arms wrapped around

her pulled up knees. She watched the agents carefully,

waiting for one of them to speak.

 

"Katie--" Agent Scully started.

 

She cut her off. "Yes?" she replied abruptly.

 

"Uh," Agent Scully smiled. "How old are you, Katie?"

 

"Twelve," she replied faster than she had meant to.

She realized she sounded nervous then realized she was. Agent

Scully began speaking quietly to her mom so she turned her

attention to Agent Mulder. He was apparently listening closely

to the other adults' conversation, he had his long legs

stretched out, crossed at the ankles and his eyes flicked

from her mother to Agent Scully and back again, depending

on who was talking.

 

{He's got hazel eyes} she realized. {They're pretty, I

wish I had them. He seems like an okay guy... but, ugh, what

a boring tie. I wish these FBI agents would be a bit more

creative in what they wear so when they're interrogating you,

at least you've got something interesting to look at. I

wish he had a nicer tie at least.}

 

Katie suddenly realized the agents were standing up to

leave. That was strange... they'd only been here a couple

minutes.

 

"...we'll be calling you in a couple days, Mrs. Martin."

Agent Scully was saying. She smiled politely and they left.

 

In the driveway, Scully was accepting the keys from

Mulder. "You really are tired, aren't you?" she asked.

"What's the matter?"

 

He shrugged and got into the passenger's seat.

"I dunno. Nothing, I guess."

 

She frowned. "You hardly said anything in there.

Mulder!"

 

"WHAT??" He flinched, alarmed. She was staring at

his chest and he too looked down. "What?"

 

"Your tie! It's..... bright!" she said. He pulled it

away from his body to get a closer look and sure enough it

was. "Mulder, it looks like Walt Disney threw up on it."

 

He dropped the tie and gave a little laugh. "C'mon

Scully, let's go back."

 

She stared at it one more time, wondering how he had

changed ties without her noticing and stuck the key in

the ignition.

 

Mulder hardly said a word all the way back to the motel.

Scully was getting worried. Mulder was usually never this

quiet. She glanced at him, hoping he wouldn't notice. No such

luck.

 

"What are you looking at?" Mulder asked, sounding annoyed.

 

"You're so quiet. Are you okay?" Scully asked her eyes

turning back to the road.

 

"I'm FINE," Mulder said, quiet loudly, and in the same

way Scully had said that line over and over again when she

was sick. Scully got the hint. Whatever problem Mulder had,

he would tell her when he was ready. Though sometimes when

he was ready happened to be too late. Scully pushed the

thoughts out of her head.

 

She pulled up at the motel without another word from

Mulder. As they walked to their rooms, she saw Mulder yawn

out of the corner of her eye.

 

"I'm going to grab something to eat, then head out to

the medical examiner's office and take a look at Sarah Martin's

body," Scully said, and she watched Mulder nod slightly.

Then she added, "Mulder, you look beat. Get some

sleep."

 

She braced herself for another outburst, like in the

car, but was greeted instead by a simple, "Ok, Scully."

{Ok Scully??? Did Mulder just say OK Scully?? Maybe he

is....calm down, Dana, he's probably just tired.} Scully

sighed and watched Mulder walk into his room. She headed

to the lobby to see if she could get something to eat.

 

Medical Examiner's Office

6:15 p.m.

 

The place was almost deserted when Scully arrived. She

spotted a man in blue scrubs and guessing him to be John

Jacobs, head medical examiner, and walked

over to him.

 

"Dr. Jacobs?" Scully asked when she reached him.

 

"Yes?" He looked up from the chart he was looking at.

 

"I'm Special Agent Dana Scully from the FBI. You were

holding the body of Sarah Martin for me to look at?" Scully

said, an air of question to her last remark.

 

"Ah, yes, Dr. Scully. I was expecting you. This way."

He led her to the back and to an autopsy bay. "It's all

yours. I'll be reviewing cases at the main desk if you

need me."

 

Scully thanked him and watched him walk away. Then

she got to work.

 

Medical Examiner's office

6:45 p.m.

 

Scully sighed. When she had first seen the body of

Sarah Martins, she had seen the cause of death was apparent.

There was major bruising on the neck and further examination

confirmed strangulation as cause of death. But Scully

was puzzled as to how the strangling took place. There had

to be an explanation. She took off her latex gloves in

frustration. There was nothing else to learn from this

autopsy. So she just cleaned up and headed back toward the

car.

 

"Find anything new?" Dr. Jacobs asked, as she passed

him on the way out.

 

Scully shook her head.

 

"I didn't think you would. It's just a puzzle."

 

{You got that right} thought Scully as she headed out

the door. Now she understood Mulder's fatigue. She was

beginning to feel a little of it herself.

 

Motel

7:35 p.m.

 

Scully shook her head as she turned the key into the

lock of her room. Just as she was about to enter it, she

was interrupted by a scream. She turned her head and

noticed it had come from Mulder's room.

 

"Sam! NO!!!!" she heard him scream, loud. She knew

it was another dream. He had many of them. She instinctively

went for Mulder's door and turned the handle. Surprisingly

it was unlocked. She walked in and found the lights out and

Mulder tangled in the covers of his bed, in a white T-shirt

and boxers, twisting and turning.

 

"Sam--don't!!" Scully walked toward him to wake him

when his cries changed.

 

"Scully--don't take Scully!! You already have Sam,

don't take her too!" he mumbled. Scully stood back at that

call. Her? Why was he dreaming of her? Mulder tended to

believe that everything was his fault.

 

Her thoughts were cut off by Mulder muttering something

else, unrecognizable. She walked over and turned on the

lamp next to his bed.

 

"Mulder," she said gently, shaking him. Mulder mumbled

something else. "Mulder. Mulder." She shook him a little

harder. Finally hazel eyes greeted her. A look of confusion

crossed them, then a look of relief.

 

"Scully, you're here....," Mulder whispered. Scully

noticed the beads of sweat that covered his face. She would

have dismissed it as normal, because of the nightmare, but

she also noticed his cheeks were flushed a light red.

She frowned in concern.

 

Mulder focused a bit more on his surroundings. He had

been surprised to see Scully's face looking into his own; but

he felt relieved. Then he watched her mouth turn into a frown,

a look he knew a little _too_ well. He pushed the covers away;

then he noticed that he had already pushed most of them away in

his sleep. He got up out of the bed and escaped Scully's gaze

and frown.

 

"So what did you find out?" he asked, as if the nightmare

he just had had not occurred.

 

Mulder watched Scully's frown lessen. "Nothing much.

She was strangled. How? I don't know," she admitted.

 

Mulder grabbed his clothes and walked into the bathroom.

"So did you eat?" he shouted from the bathroom.

 

"Yes, but only a little," Scully said. "I'm up for

something else now."

 

Mulder appeared two minutes later fully dressed,

straightening the same outrageous tie Scully had noticed in

the car.

 

"Let's go find a decent restaurant around here," he

suggested as he grabbed his badge and gun from the dresser,

something Scully had watched him do only a

few hours before.

 

"Mulder, couldn't you at least wear that tie that you

wore to the Martins'? _Before_ you changed it?" Scully urged.

 

Mulder broke into a grin. "Well, Scully, the funny

thing about that is, that tie, was misplaced."

 

He walked toward the door. Scully followed shaking her

head. Someday she would get him to wear a normal tie for more

than five minutes. _Someday_.

 

McDonald's

Rutherford, NJ

8:03 p.m.

 

Scully watched Mulder sink his teeth into a Big Mac and

grin widely so she could see the contents of his mouth.

 

"That's disgusting, chew with your mouth closed."

Scully couldn't help but smile a bit too. She had long

finished her salad but Mulder was already into his second Big

Mac. "I thought you said a decent restaurant, Mulder."

 

"Thith ithn dethen?" he asked around a mouthful. He

finished off the burger. "Think I could get another one of

these?" He stood and walked to the counter, not waiting for

her response.

 

"Keep that up, you're gonna make yourself sick," she

said when he came back. He shrugged. "Mulder, do you have

any idea where we're going with this case?" He cocked his

head in inquiry and she continued, "Sarah Martin was a

healthy teenager when she was killed. She was in a room full

of people, someone would've noticed if anyone had come up

and.... and strangled her. She...." Scully struggled for a

way to put this. "Mulder, her death is impossible. There was

no one NEAR her, and..... and how do you explain the

strangulation marks? Huh?"

 

He was licking grease off his fingers. "That's why

it's an X-File, remember?"

 

Scully sighed, opened her mouth, then shut it again.

"Look, I'm tired. I just did an autopsy while you were

napping." Remembering the terror he was in while "napping",

she immediately regretted bringing it up. "I'm going back to

the motel. I recommend you do too."

 

"Actually, I want to check out the crime scene." Mulder

had stood up and was shrugging into his trench coat. "I'll

drop you off at the motel." He held the door open for her

and she slipped under his arm and out into the cold night air.

 

"All right, but, Mulder?"

 

"Mm?"

 

"Don't stay out too late. You need all the sleep you

can get."

 

She thought he would argue but instead he smiled.

"Yes, Mom."

 

 

Motel

Rutherford, NJ

9:00 p.m.

 

Scully had just showered and changed into her pajamas

and was now sitting on the corner of the bed, brushing out

her wet hair and taking advantage of the free HBO. The end

of Contact was on. She'd never seen it before so following

the plot when watching from the end took a bit too much

concentration so she clicked off the TV with the remote and

sat back. Pulling her book off the bedside table, she

flipped on the small lantern light by the bed and opened

her book. A glance of her watch, it was 9:23.

 

 

She read a few chapters then, yawning, looked down at

her watch again. 10:04. Where was Mulder? {He can take care

of himself} she thought, not believing a word of it. Her

hand groped on the wall for the light, found it and switched

it off. She slipped under the covers, yawning, and, though she

was tired, she couldn't fall asleep. {Where IS Mulder?}

 

8:39 p.m.

 

Mulder paced the hall, thinking. He had come to the

scene of the crime, the piano recital hall. He had gotten

their just as the director of the studio, Jenna Hall, was

leaving. She kindly let him to explore and showed him how to

lock up when he was done. So now , it was just Mulder and

the empty studio.

 

He walked to the piano and looked around it. There was

no places for a person to hide there, at least without

being seen. The piano was at the north end of the room, with

a huge window behind it. You could watch someone play easily

from outside, Mulder noted. He yawned then and tried to push

his fatigue aside and concentrate. Something was bothering

him; it was in the back of his mind, his couldn't quite

grasp it.

 

He remembered how Sarah's sister, Katie had acted that

afternoon. She seemed nervous, then again, her sister did

just die. Mulder knew that was a frightening thing, his

mind returning to his dream. He shook his head. He

didn't think that he would be getting any sleep tonight.

 

Mulder sighed. He wished he had brought Scully. Then

he would someone to bounce ideas off of. This was frustrating.

He checked his watch. 9:15. Had he been here that long?

Mulder got up to leave when a sparkle of gold caught his eye.

 

He bent down and picked it up. It was a simple gold

bracelet with a simple K engraved on it. {What is this

doing so close to the piano?} Mulder thought as he looked at

it. In fact, he had remembered Katie wearing a similar

bracelet when he and Scully were at the Martin's. Mulder

held the bracelet up to the light, when he caught a shadow

creeping up behind him. He turned to see what it was when he

felt something hard slam into the back of his head. As darkness

threatened him, Mulder looked up and saw nothing. {Nothing?

But there was--} Darkness cut off Mulder's thoughts.

 

10:26 p.m.

Back at the motel

 

Scully laid awake in her bed, listening to every sound

that she heard. She had heard cars pass by, but not one of

them turned toward the motel. No sign of Mulder. Scully

was growing worried. She had seen him over 2 hours ago.

{How long does it take to investigate one room?} she

thought. {Stop worrying, Dana. Mulder probably just

stopped for food again or something.} But it was that

"or something" that bothered her.

 

"That's it," Scully muttered. She threw the covers

off and grabbed her coat. She wouldn't be able to sleep

until she saw him. And then, she would kill

him for worrying her.

 

Piano Studio

11:55 p.m.

 

Since Mulder had the car Scully had to call a cab. It

took _forever_. Scully was growing more worried by the moment.

Luckily, the cabby knew where the studio was. Scully ran

out of the cab and saw a light on in the studio. {Light on?}

she thought. That meant Mulder must still be here. Or at

least someone that might know where Mulder went would be

there. She rushed toward the door, hoping it was unlocked.

It was. Scully opened the door, found the stairs, and

went up to the room where the light was on.

 

"Mulder!" she cried when she walked in.

 

Mulder lay in a heap by the piano, with a gold bracelet

laying beside him. She saw a broken footstool at his feet.

Two situations came to mind. Either Mulder 1) tripped over

the footstool, or 2) he was hit over the head with it. Scully

hoped it was one, but had it a feeling it was two. She crept

beside Mulder and felt his pulse. At least that was strong.

She touched the tickle of blood that was coming from a spot

near Mulder's hairline. He groaned at her touch.

 

"Mulder? Mulder, can you hear me?"

 

{Scully?} Mulder groaned again and wondered what

Scully was doing here. And why did he have such a headache?

Mulder tried to open his eyes, but found it difficult. When

he was finally able to open them, all he saw was a dizzying

tangle of lights.

 

"Mulder?" Scully asked again, concern in her voice.

 

Mulder blinked his eyes again and was able to focus. He

saw Scully knelt down next to the piano. Then he remembered.

 

"Some-thing hit....me," he mumbled, not quite sure of

the words. He started to sit up, but both a strong pain and

Scully pushed him back down.

 

"Stay down, Mulder," Scully said, reassuringly. "Do

you think they are still here?" she asked, grabbing for her

gun.

 

Then Mulder remembered what he had seen right before

he passed out. "There was no one," he mumbled, then got a

strength on the words. "I was able to turn around before I

blacked out and there was no one there."

 

"You sure?"

 

Mulder nodded, regretting that move when pain radiated

from his head.

 

Scully relaxed a little and Mulder tried to sit up

again. Scully tried to push him back, but he pushed her

hands away. But he regretted sitting up as soon as he did it.

The room went back to being a dizzying circle of lights.

He closed his eyes again and when he opened them, things

were in focus, and Scully was in front of him, frowning.

 

"How long where you out?" she asked.

 

Mulder himself frowned. "When I last looked at my

watch it was 9 something...." He couldn't remember the time

exactly; his brain was still fuzzy.

 

Scully's frown deepened. "It's midnight now, Mulder.

You've been out at least 2 hours, probably more.

Mulder, I want you to get checked out at the hospital." But

as soon as she had said those words Mulder was shaking his

head.

 

"Mulder, you could, hell, with your track record, you

probably have a concussion. Plus that cut on your head is

going to need a couple of stitches," Scully pointed out and

was getting her cell phone out.

 

Mulder clapped his hand over the cell phone. "Please,

Scully, you take care of it. Wake me up every two hours if

you have too. I don't want to go to the hospital."

 

His eyes were so pleading that Scully sighed. A 24-

hour observation period could put a damper into their

investigation. Plus, Mulder was pretty lucky when it

came to head injuries. She sighed again.

 

"Ok, Mulder. You win. No hospital. But you _are_

going to listen to me, right?" Scully warned rather than

asked. Mulder nodded.

 

"Now can you get up?" Scully asked and she helped

him to his feet. He swayed a lot when he got there, though.

Scully put her hand around him and led him to the car. She

sighed for the third time in five minutes. Couldn't Mulder

ever survive a case without injury?

 

 

Motel

Rutherford, NJ

12:17 a.m.

 

After stopping by the local drug store in search for

some painkillers for Mulder and finding it closed, Scully

returned to the motel with a pretty much zoned out Mulder.

 

"C'mon," she said and gently shook his shoulder. In an

action of half-leading/ half-carrying her six-foot partner

back to the motel, Scully managed to unlock the door and

step inside just before the rain started to fall. Sheets of

gray rain pounded incessantly on the tin roof. After just a few

seconds, it was beginning to give Scully a headache and she

couldn't begin to imagine what Mulder was going through.

 

{Speaking of Mulder....} He had collapsed on the bed,

fortunately the one in his room, because Scully wasn't sure

if she would be able to get him up anytime soon. She sat at

the edge of his bed, a few wet tissues in hand, and dabbed

at the cut on his head. She spoke softly. "This isn't as

bad as I thought, no stitches. But we still have to be

cautious with that concussion." He didn't respond to that.

Louder, she said, "Mulder, think you can get out

of your suit? Do you have anything... any sweats, maybe?"

 

He gave a barely perceptible nod. Scully smiled and

patted his hand. "I'll go look in your suitcase. Be right

back."

 

When she returned, he had his eyes clenched tightly

shut, forehead scrunched against the headache. He was curled

up, head thrown back, one hand held loosely onto his collar

as if it had been trying to loosen it but had given up in the

effort. Scully pushed his hand away, careful not to disturb

him, and undid the knot in his tie. She managed to pull it

off without him noticing but when it was time for the suit

jacket to come off, she needed to move him.

 

"Mulder," she whispered. "Mulder," she said a little

louder. "C'mon, sit up for me." His eyes opened, he licked

his lips and sat up, his movements slow and lethargic.

Still moving slowly, he shrugged out of the suit jacket

and messed with the buttons on his shirt. However, he was

exhausted and some of his usual coordination was lost with

the concussion so Scully ended up helping him with the rest

of his clothing. When he was clad in black sweatpants and a

gray FBI T-shirt and safely under the covers, Scully turned

off the light by his bed.

 

"Goodnight," she said, knowing he was already asleep.

She began to walk backwards, watching him warily in the

sliver of light coming from under the door, nervous about l

eaving him. Just as she reached the door, the light

glinted on something in his hand. Scully moved back to the

bed and found the source of attention; a small, golden

bracelet, the one she had found by Mulder in the studio,

held in his fist, loosened and relaxed with sleep. Carefully,

she nudged apart his fist and pulled the bracelet out.

{Evidence} her tired mind said. She pulled her sleeve over

her hand and held the bracelet in it, as to not wipe away

potential fingerprints on it. Then, returning to her

room, she dropped the evidence in a plastic bag and went to

bed for the second time that night. This time, she slept well.

 

 

 

Motel

9:57 a.m.

 

Scully had woken up early and dropped the bag with

the bracelet off at the local crime lab to be examined for

fingerprints. She was now sitting restlessly in her room,

getting bored of the free HBO and waiting for Mulder to

wake up. So far she'd watched the end of Ferris Beuller's

Day Off and most of Parenthood.

 

She was laughing at Steve Martin in Parenthood when

she heard a crash from the next room. {Mulder's up.}

Reaching for the remote, she turned down the volume a bit so

she could hear better what was going on in the next room and

waited for Mulder to appear at her door. When she heard

nothing more after several minutes, she began to get worried.

She turned off the TV. and walked through the door joining her

and Mulder's room. She found him sprawled on the floor near

his bed, hair sticking up in thirty-five different directions,

looking confused.

 

Scully knelt by him. "Hey. How you feeling?" Before

he answered she noticed he was squinting. "Head hurts, huh?

I'll go out and get you some pain killers in a couple minutes.

Do you want some breakfast first?"

 

He was staring at her face, still not fully awake,

slow at answering, "Breakfast?"

 

"Yeah, you want some?"

 

His mouth turned in a frown. "Uh uh."

 

Scully had stood and was trying to pull Mulder up

with her. She succeeded and let him drop onto the bed then

sat next to him. "Are you nauseous?" she asked gently.

 

He swallowed sluggishly. "I dunno."

 

"All right." Scully pushed him down. "Stay here, I'm

going into town. I'll be back in a couple minutes."

 

While she talked, Mulder had managed to lift his head,

a difficult task, to see her better, but now he dropped it.

"Why?"

 

"To get you medicine." She was already out the door.

 

The day was frigid. A light rain still fell, but

nothing compared to the downpour of the previous night. Scully

drove into town, picked up a package of extra-strength Tylenol,

the strongest thing the drug store carried. Realizing she was

close to the lab, she stopped by there too. A young man who

reminded her a bit of Pendrell, even though his coloring was

opposite, greeted her.

 

"We got the results back, Agent Scully. There were

three sets of fingerprints on the bracelet; Katherine Martin's,

you partner's--"

 

Scully interrupted him. "Agent Mulder found it

yesterday. He was holding it and was in a situation where

he didn't have gloves for proper--"

 

"I understand." The lab technician smiled warmly.

"But there was a third set of prints that..." He pulled out

a sheet of paper with a picture of a young girl on it as well

as several lines of information about her. "matched this.

Her name is, I'm sorry, WAS, Joanna Wasserman. She lived in

Texas--"

 

"Why the past tense?"

 

"Well," His eyes narrowed. "That's the thing. Joanna

was killed in 1993 in a hit and run while she was visiting

Rutherford." He frowned. "Nobody seemed too devastated

by her death, not even the parents. She was something of a

trouble maker."

 

Scully extended a hand. "Can I have that sheet?"

 

"Sure." He gave it to her. "One minute, uh...here."

He had picked up a folder from the cluttered countertop.

"This gives details on her death... as well as her LIFE.

Joanna was... well, not an ordinary child. She caused alot

of stir around Texas."

 

Scully accepted it. "Thank you. I'll return this by

tomorrow."

 

"No, no." He waved it off. "Keep that as long as you

want." A mischievous smile lit his face. "Actually, I've been

interested in Joanna's death since the case came in years ago.

We don't really have that many hit and runs around here.

Hardly any. And when her fingerprints show up in THIS case,

well..."

 

Scully smiled. "Thank you," she said and left.

 

Motel

10:31 a.m.

 

Holding the information about Joanna in one hand,

Scully opened her motel door with the other. She was greeted

by complete silence, a silence that worried her a little.

She dropped Joanna's file on her dresser, grabbed her

medical bag and the Tylenol she had bought at the drug store

and headed into Mulder's room, not even pausing to knock.

 

She found Mulder sitting up in bed, his glasses on,

his journal sitting face down on his lap. A pen was in his

hand, indicating Mulder had tried to write something, but

Scully doubted he succeeded. Even now, his eyes weren't

focused, something Scully knew Mulder could do to zone out

when the pain got bad.

 

"Mulder," Scully said gently, taking the pen out of

his hand. Mulder blinked and swallowed, turning his head

slightly toward Scully. But as soon as he turned, he shut

his eyes against the pain of the movement. {Maybe I should

rethink this hospital thing} thought Scully as she watched

him.

 

Mulder opened his eyes and looked at her. "You were

gone more than a few minutes," he said, and Scully was glad

he wasn't as confused as he had been a hour ago.

 

"Well, I stopped by the lab to pick up the bracelet I

found in your hand last night. I had it dusted for

fingerprints." Mulder squinted again and Scully got out

her penlight.

 

"I remember that bracelet," Mulder said slowly, "It

looked like the one I saw Katie wearing."

 

Scully shined the light into Mulder's eyes. He closed

them against the light. "No, just stay still," she said,

and he opened his eyes again. "The one and only. It had

her fingerprints and yours all over it." She shut off

the light, satisfied with what she saw.

 

"Sorry about that," Mulder said sheepishly.

 

"It's okay, Mulder. I understand. Follow my finger,"

she said, holding one finger in front of Mulder's eyes, and

moving it back and forth.

 

She took her finger down. "Good," she said shortly.

 

"Is that all you found out from the bracelet?" Mulder

asked. He was interested in discovering why it was there.

 

Scully, who had been opening the Tylenol bottle, stopped.

"Well, there was something else," she said carefully.

 

"What?"

 

"There was another set of fingerprints on the bracelet.

A Joanna Wasserman's." Scully paused and looked thoughtful.

 

"And?"

 

"And, the thing is Joanna was a resident of Texas who

did visit Rutherford."

 

"Why the past tense Scully?" Mulder forgot the pain in

his head for a second and just waited for Scully's answer.

 

"The past tense, because she was killed in 1993 in a

hit-and-run. I have the police report as well as a record of

Joanna's life in my room. She was twelve years old when she

died."

 

The last sentence peaked something in Mulder's mind.

"Just like Katie," he said thinking. "Can I see those reports,

Scully?" He straightened up more, but grimaced when he moved

his head.

 

Scully went back to opening the Tylenol bottle. "Maybe

you should wait awhile, Mulder. I mean, you can't move your

head without pain, never mind reading small print. I know you

tried writing before. From the looks of it

you weren't successful."

 

Mulder looked down at the book on his lap. "Yeah,

well....."

 

"I thought so." She handed him two pills. "Tylenol

is the strongest thing they had without prescription. I'll

get you some water." She went into the bathroom and

reappeared a minute later with a glass of water.

 

Mulder eyed the pills. "Without prescription?"

he repeated, looking up at her.

 

"Mulder, you have had enough concussions to know that

you can't get any pain killers stronger than that because it

could mask the symptoms of a serious head injury, even if I

did write a prescription."

 

Mulder sighed. He had already known that. "Okay," he

said simply and downed both pills.

 

Scully sat on the edge on the bed. "You must be really

hurting if you are asking for a stronger pain killer," she

said, gently, looking at him concerned.

 

Mulder saw the look of concern. "Scully, I'm fine.

Just a headache."

 

"I'm sure it was just a headache when you fell out of bed

this morning and could hardly remember your name," she said,

not believing him for a second.

 

Mulder just glared at her. She took the glass from him

and put it on the nightstand.

 

"How about just resting a little while longer, then I

will let you see those files. You can't think with that

headache now anyway."

 

Mulder nodded. He remembered how he tried to write

some case details into his journal, but how the words just

swam in front of his eyes. Scully was right, maybe in a little

while. But just a little while, because Mulder knew he had

a theory in the still fuzzy brain of his. He just needed to

put it together.

 

Motel

12:24 p.m.

 

Scully frowned as she glanced at the information once

again. But it didn't change.

 

"Twelve-year-old responsible for school fire," she read

from a newspaper clipping that had been included with

Joanna's file.

 

"Twelve-year-old Joanna Wasserman reportedly admitted

to being involved in the fire that burned Kendlebridge Middle

School to the ground last week. The fire was a four alarm

blaze, ripping through the building in seconds, injuring over

50 and killing 2, a teacher, Kerry Brooks, 32, and a student,

Pete Robinson, 12." Scully took her glasses off and put the

article down. She found it highly unlikely that a twelve-year

old could be responsible, single-handedly, for such a huge

fire. But it was in black-and-white, and this was not

the only incident that Joanna had been linked to. Scully had

read through half a dozen other articles that Joanna was

mentioned in. And not one of those articles regarded her

very highly. Even in the article about her death, the press

seemed to mention the bad things Joanna had been involved in.

Scully was beginning to realize why no one had real remorse

when she died.

 

Scully got up from the bed and walked over the dresser,

where she had placed the bracelet Mulder found. Sealed in an

evidence bag, she just looked at it. {How did Joanna's

fingerprints wind up on this bracelet?} Scully hoped Mulder

was feeling better soon. She was even up to listening to

some of his theories.

 

At first, Scully had thought that maybe Joanna had known

Katie, those 5 years ago. But no such luck. The Martins'

hadn't even lived here then. They moved in May 14, 1993.

Joanna had been killed May 13, 1993. But the closeness in

dates was enough to give Scully a shudder.

 

She returned to the bed and spread the articles out one

by one, and looked at them. She was so involved, she didn't

hear Mulder approach her.

 

"Scully?"

 

Scully almost jumped when Mulder said her name. She

turned to him.

 

"Sorry, Scully. Didn't mean to scare you." He walked

toward her, but put a hand to his head when he reached her.

 

Scully touched the cut on his head. It had started to

bleed again and looked a little red. "Feeling any better?"

she asked.

 

Mulder winced as she touched his cut. "I would if you

would stop touching that spot," he answered.

 

"Sorry, Mulder." She frowned. "Like I said last night,

if you remember," she added, "That cut doesn't need stitches.

But I'd like to close it with some butterflies, Mulder. You

don't want to get an infection."

 

For once, Mulder nodded and he sat on the bed.

 

"So what's with the articles all spread out?" he asked

as she approached him with some gauze in hand.

 

"Just reading up a little on Joanna Wasserman."

 

"Ouch, that stings," Mulder said as she dabbed

antiseptic on his cut.

 

"Sorry about that, Mulder, but it can't be helped." She

paused a second, going back to cleaning his cut.

 

"So what was she like? She must have been something to

be mentioned in all of these articles," Mulder commented.

 

"Yeah, she was something. Something bad. Not one of

those articles regards her highly, not even the one about

her death. Seems she was some kind of a young terror."

 

"Like Carrie at the prom?" Mulder said with a smile.

 

Scully smiled. "I guess you are getting back to normal."

 

"So what we need to find out now is how her fingerprints

got on the bracelet."

 

"Yep," Scully said, finishing up with the cut. "There's

probably a logical explanation."

 

"Don't start me on that logical explanation crap,

Scully. Sarah Martin's death doesn't have a logical

explanation."

 

"It could."

 

Mulder let out a breath. "Normally I would love to

argue logic with you Scully, but today it is giving me a

headache."

 

Scully bent down a little, so they were eye level.

"Okay, Mulder."

 

"I want to talk to the family again. Katie particularly."

 

"Why Katie?"

 

"She seemed a little nervous last time we saw her."

 

"Her sister just died, Mulder."

 

Mulder got up off the bed. "Yeah, but something about

her is still bothering me. I have a pretty strong hunch.

Humor me. Some of my hunches have worked."

 

Scully smiled. "Ok, but if we turn up nothing, which

is my bet, you owe me dinner. In a _decent_ restaurant."

 

"McDonald's not on your list of decent restaurants

anymore?" he teased.

 

"Not when I watch you eat four Big Macs in one sitting."

 

"It's quality food, Scully," he argued with a smile.

 

"Yeah, quality food that spends quality time in your

arteries."

 

Mulder just grinned at that. He grabbed a folder. "Now

I'm going to spend some quality time with these files. Want

to call the Martins' and ask them when we come back?"

 

"Ok," Scully agreed. "But, Mulder?"

 

"Yeah?" he said turning around.

 

"Go easy. If the words swim in front of you, stop

reading. And tell me."

 

Mulder smiled. "Yes, Doctor," he said as he headed

back to his room.

 

On the road

Rutherford, NJ

2:31 p.m.

 

"Mulder, put that down, you're starting to give ME a

headache." Scully took her eyes off the road for a minute to

study her partner; he was leaning forward, eye buried in the

file, one hand absently rubbing his forehead. He didn't

respond.

 

A few minutes passed and Scully found herself going in

circles around the town area. "Hey Mulder, I don't know about

you but I'm starved. Could you put that down for a minute

and help me find a restaurant?"

 

Slowly, he looked up. "What?"

 

"A restaurant." She stared at Mulder. "Are you sure

you're up to this? We can interview them tomorrow if you

want." She realized after she said it that "if you want" was

not the right phrasing. "I mean--"

 

"I know what you mean. Look, I'm ready. We can eat

wherever you want, just let's get to the Martin's before

3:30." When she shot him and inquiring look he added, "I

want plenty of time before Mr. Martin gets home. I saw his

statistics in Sarah's file, they had her mother and father's

vitals and all. Mr. Martin, Samuel "Buster" Martin, is six

foot three, two hundred fifteen pounds, former high school

boxer," Mulder recited. "I just don't wanna piss

off Buster if that's okay with you."

 

Scully smiled. "Okay, we'll get there early enough to

avoid a run-in with ole Buster."

 

Satisfied, Mulder closed the file folder, tipped back

his seat and closed his eyes. Ten minutes later, when Scully

found a decent looking restaurant called The Village Gourmet,

and a parking space, her partner was breathing steadily.

Scully walked out of the car, circled around to Mulder's

side and lay a hand

on his upper arm.

 

"Mulder," she whispered. "C'mon, time to wake up,

we're here." His eyes slowly drifted open, focused on her

face. He squirmed under her touch and, yawning, stretched

best he could in the cramped space of the car. She stepped

aside so he could get out. "Let's get something to eat then

go see Buster and friends."

 

"Right," he mumbled.

 

Inside the restaurant was heated, a nice contrast to

the gusty November that reigned outside. Mulder and Scully

seated themselves in a booth overhung by flowers and other

greenery and Mulder leaned over the table to whisper in her

ear, "This is gonna be healthy isn't it?"

 

"I'm afraid so."

 

Mulder groaned and settled back in his side of the

booth.

 

A perky waitress by the name of Leanna took their

order. Scully got a grilled chicken sandwich with a variety

of green things she called vegetables and Mulder referred to

as "torture devices in third world countries". Mulder

requested an extra bread basket and the wine list.

 

"No wine, Mulder. You do not need wine. Order some

real food."

 

Mulder glared at her but didn't move to order anything.

 

The waitress stood tentatively, shifting her weight from

one foot to the other, then smiled politely and left.

 

Mulder had brought the file along. "Scully, listen to

this."

 

"No! We're eating lunch. Can't you give me a few

precious case-free moments a day? Just a few?"

 

She felt bad as soon as she saw the look of pain that

crossed Mulder's face. She knew he must still have a headache

that would incapacitate any normal man and didn't need to be

yelled at by her.

 

"But... the bracelet..."

 

"We had it analyzed already."

 

He carefully studied his fingernails. "But... we haven't

considered... why it was there. We know Katie didn't go up to

the piano or anywhere near there. Everyone saw her sitting in

her seat a few rows back. There was no way she could've gotten

up without people noticing. Also, have you considered that

Katie possibly visited the crime scene AFTER the time her

sister was killed? And left her bracelet there by accident

THEN?" Nothing was fitting together and he was frustrated and

his head was pounding. "We just.... we need to consider....."

He paused. "I just think we need to think about this more."

Thinking was the last thing he wanted to do. Sleeping was

number one on the list.. in the comfortable hotel bed. Mulder

had never held beds in high respect but at this moment he

wanted nothing more than a bed and a couple pillows and a

blanket.

 

Scully placed her hand over his. "Don't worry. Let's

eat and we'll discuss this later."

 

Mulder grimaced at the thought of eating. His stomach

was already doing flip-flops.

 

 

Katie Martin's room

Rutherford, NJ

3:00 p.m.

 

Katie scowled at her homework. "This is so stupid.

I KNOW these answers, I KNOW how to do them... it just takes

forever to write them all out." She gazed out the window and

absently chewed a fingernail. She tried something.

"I wish my homework was all done so I could talk on the

phone."

 

She squeezed her eyes closed. "I wish it was done, I

wish it was done."

 

She looked down at her paper. Twenty neat rows of

number greeted her eyes. Alarmed, she sucked in a deep breath.

"I wish I had long, blue hair." She leaned over to look in

the mirror. "Shit! Change it back, change it back!!!!

Uh, I wish I had my old hair back." She breathed a sigh of

relief. "All right... I wish those stupid FBI agents and

their boring clothes would leave us alone."

 

 

The Village Gourmet

Rutherford, NJ

3:04 p.m.

Mulder had been zoning out. He suddenly gasped for air,

sharply jerked his head up. "Scully," he whispered.

 

Looking up from her chicken sandwich, Scully stared at

him. "Yeah?"

 

"Let's go back," he said breathlessly, and struggled

clumsily to get into his trenchcoat.

 

"Hey, hold on their a minute, G-man. I'm still eating,

remember." She eyed him worriedly. "What's the matter? I

thought you were so desperate to get to the Martin's."

 

He shook his head wildly, then tried to push aside the

stabbing pain.

 

Scully frowned. "All right. Let me just finish up."

 

Mulder looked around the restaurant quickly. His

breathing seemed to becoming in short gasps. Scully immediately

dropped her chicken sandwich and looked at him.

 

"Mulder, are you all right?" she asked, trying to get a

good look at his face.

 

"What?" Mulder said turning around, distracted. He

seemed on edge about something. Scully noticed a red flush

in his cheeks, not unlike the one she had seen after his "nap"

the day before. She frowned and reached out to touch his

hand. It was unusually warm. She frowned.

 

"What, Scully?" Mulder repeated. He shook his head

again and scrunched his eyes against the pain.

 

"You're right, Mulder. Let's go." Scully dumped some

cash on the table and motioned for Mulder to get up.

 

"To the Martins'?" he asked hopefully.

 

"No back to the motel. You have a fever. I can tell

from your eyes." Scully knew Mulder would argue at that. He

didn't disappoint her, though it was a weak argument.

 

Mulder shook his head. "I'm fine, Scully."

 

Scully just glared him. "We're going back to the

motel," she said in her best 'doctor's orders' voice.

 

Scully was shocked to see Mulder stand up and say, "Ok."

He started to walk back toward the car. Scully frowned even

more, and stood there for a second. Then she picked up her

purse and followed Mulder out.

 

3:23 p.m.

 

Scully pulled up to the motel and glanced at her partner.

He had fallen asleep in the five minutes that the drive back

to the motel had taken. She turned the ignition off and

quietly laid a hand on his forehead. Mulder stirred but

didn't wake. He was warm, but not too bad. {Probably a low

grade fever} she thought, {Maybe a reaction to the concussion.}

 

"Mulder," she said as she tapped his shoulder.

 

"What?!" Mulder woke alarmed, ready to grab his gun.

 

"We're here." Scully frowned again. "I want to get

you into bed. I should have never let you come out today."

 

Mulder looked out at a spot that Scully couldn't

identify. He didn't seem to be paying attention. Scully

pulled on his shoulder and he got out of the car and followed

her to his room, without saying a word. Scully wished he was

arguing because she was getting really worried.

 

Mulder turned the key and opened his room and went to

the bed and collapsed on it. He laid there with his eyes at

half mast.

 

"Scully, I never thought I'd say this, but, I'm glad I

have this bed instead of my couch at home." Scully sat on the

edge of the bed.

 

"That doesn't sound like you," Scully said quietly.

"Stay here. I'm going to get my thermometer and some aspirin."

 

Mulder immediately rose up and that remark. "I'm okay,

Scully. Just a little tired. Just a little nap and I'll be

ready and raring to go. Then we can go to the Martins',

regardless of Buster," he said, forcing a small smile.

 

Scully couldn't help smiling a little. That sounded

more like Mulder. She shook her head. "You are not going

anywhere besides this bed," she ordered in her 'doctor's orders'

voice again. "The Martins' can wait till your fever breaks."

She threw his sweats at him. "Change into these, and when I

come back you better not be anywhere else but in that bed, or

you better pray I don't have my gun." Scully walked into her

room the find her thermometer.

 

Mulder watched Scully walk into her room. He took his

suit jacket off. {Damn it, Scully. Someday I'm going to

_steal_ that gun.}

 

Scully returned a couple of minutes later, happy to see

Mulder in his sweats and more importantly, in bed.

 

"See, it's not that hard to listen," she said, smiling

cheerfully. A little too cheerfully for Mulder's taste.

 

Mulder yawned but still glared at Scully. He shivered

and burrowed deeper into the covers. Scully took that

opportunity to put her thermometer into Mulder's ear. He

stared at her and frowned until it beeped.

 

"101. Not too serious. It's probably your body telling

you to get your ass into bed and stay there. God knows I am."

She handed him two more aspirins and went into the bathroom

and came back with a glass of water.

 

Mulder sighed and downed the two pills in one gulp. He

laid back down. Scully tucked the covers around him.

 

"Don't worry, I'm sure it will be down by tomorrow,"

Scully reassured him.

 

"It's not that Scully. I get the feeling that something

is trying to get us off this case."

 

"Mulder, you're being paranoid, as usual."

 

"No, Scully. I'm sure of it. I got this feeling

today th-"

 

Scully cut him off. "I'll listen to your feelings later,

Mulder. Now you are going to sleep." She shut the light off

and walked to her room, closing the door behind her.

 

Mulder closed his eyes, but didn't sleep. He knew

something was trying to stop them. But what? And why?

 

The Martin's House

Rutherford, NJ

5:08 p.m.

 

Much to Katie's relief, the FBI agents didn't return

today. What scared her, though, was that she thought she had

something to do with it.

 

"Katie-- dinner."

 

"All right," she called back. "Hmm..." She smiled

mischievously. "I wish I could eat my dinner in the living

room and watch TV.

 

"Katie, honey? Would you like to eat in the living

room tonight?"

 

She raised her eyebrows, feigning surprise. "Uh, sure,

mom. Why?"

 

There was a long pause. "I don't know, honey. I just

thought it would be nice."

 

"Okay, I'll be right there." Katie sank back on her

bed, confused. Her newly found "power" was nice... but she

wasn't sure the extent of it. She lay back so her head was

at the foot of her bed and her feet were on the pillow and

studied the cracks in the paint on the ceiling. "Who's doing

this?" She asked aloud. On second thought, "I wish I knew

who was doing this."

 

JOANNA the walls whispered.

 

The walls whispered?

 

"Joanna who?" Katie asked. "I wish I knew Joanna who."

The rhyme made her shudder.

 

JOANNA IS ENOUGH

 

"I wish I knew why the walls were talking to me," she

said and whimpered. "I wish I understood this all. I wish I

knew who killed my sister."

 

YOU DID YOU DID YOU DID

 

"I did not," she said through clenched teeth.

 

DID TOO

 

"DID NOT!"

 

"Katie, sweetie, who are you talking to?" Her mom said.

 

"Uh.. no one, mom."

 

She could picture her mom's frown. "Okay," she said.

 

{She thinks I'm crazy} Katie thought.

 

"Honey, dinner's getting cold."

 

"Right, mom," Katie said. "I wish I could see you...

Joanna." She ended in a whisper.

 

YOU CAN'T.

 

The voice was taunting.

 

"Why not?"

 

JUST BECAUSE.

 

And then a silence filled the room.

 

 

Motel

Rutherford, NJ

6:00 p.m.

 

From the next room Scully could hear retching. She

grimaced and stepped through the conjoining doors.

 

"Mulder?" she said gently. She found him on the bathroom

floor, shivering in earnest. "Hey, c'mon." Scully knelt by

him. "Let's get you back to bed." She lay a hand on his cheek,

felt the heat radiating off him.

 

 

The Martin's

Rutherford, NJ

5:58 p.m.

 

Katie was back in the privacy of her room.

 

"I wish that FBI agent would die. The one with the

boring tie, I wish he would die."

 

NO YOU DON'T the walls taunted her.

 

"Yes I do."

 

THAT WOULD MAKE PEOPLE SUSPICIOUS THOUGH

 

Katie frowned. "You think they're suspicious, now?"

 

A pause then YEAH

 

"Oh. Well." Katie fiddled with her sweatshirt, bringing

the zipper up, then down, then settling on it somewhere in the

middle. She fixed the hood, pushed it down, then to the sides,

and finally solved the whole mess by pulling the sweatshirt

over her head and throwing it on the floor. "I hate you," Katie

said.

 

YOU HATE YOUR SISTER

 

"Do not. Did not. I DUNNO. You're the one who started

this whole mess."

 

YOU WANTED IT

 

"Wanted," Katie reminded her. "WANTED. Past tense. I

want Sarah alive now."

 

I CAN'T BRING PEOPLE BACK TO LIFE. KILLING HER WAS YOUR

CHOICE, YOU DEAL WITH THE AFTERMATH NOW.

 

"I am," Katie said and sulked.

 

After a couple minutes the walls suggested LEAVE THE

FBI AGENT ALONE. HE DIDN'T DO ANYTHING

 

Katie glared at the walls.

 

"Katie! Phone call!"

 

Katie took one more glance at the walls.

 

"Coming Mom," she called and walked out of the room

glancing at the walls again. She'd leave the FBI man alone.

For now.

 

Motel

6:09 p.m.

 

Scully frowned as she looked at the thermometer in

front of her. 103. She blinked. It didn't change. {How

could his fever have gone up so fast?} she thought, as her

medical mind tried to come up with a cause.

 

Mulder looked miserable. {Of course, he does} Scully

thought, {You would too, if you just spent the last fifteen

minutes retching.} This was it. Scully placed the thermometer

on the nightstand and went for Mulder's coat. She placed it

next to him and sat down on the bed. She wiped some hair out of

his face and spoke softly.

 

"Come on, G-Man. We're going to the hospital."

 

Mulder shook his head, wincing at the shooting pain it

sent through his temples. "Please, no hospital," he croaked

weakly.

 

"Mulder, you have a temp of 103. You need to get

checked out." She spoke gently.

 

But Mulder shook his head again. Fever bright eyes met

Scully's. Just like in the piano hall his eyes pleaded

silently.

 

Scully just shook her head. "The sooner you feel

better, the sooner you can go back to your files. And you

will feel better after a trip to the ER." Scully's own eyes

pleaded. Her eyes softened. "Please, Mulder."

 

Mulder just reached weakly for his coat.

 

"Good boy," Scully said and handed it to him.

 

ER

9:12 p.m.

 

"Well, Dr. Scully, I'm not sure what's wrong with him.

We'll know more when the test results come back. But there

is good news, his temperature dropped a degree."

 

Scully turned toward Mulder, who was laying down, with

his eyes closed. He hadn't protested since Scully brought him

here, except for the "look" he gave Scully every time a nurse

approached him with a needle.

 

"That's good to hear." Scully shifted her weight from

one foot to the other. "How much longer do you think it will

be for the bloodwork to come back?"

 

"Maybe another 20 minutes or so. Meanwhile, I've want

to start a course of IV antibiotics while we are waiting for

the results," the doctor continued.

 

Scully nodded. "Mulder won't like that. He _hates_

IVs."

 

The doctor smiled. "Don't worry I've had patients like

that before. I'm going to check on that bloodwork." The

doctor walked away. Scully approached Mulder just as the

nurse approached with the IV equipment. The nurse reached

for his arm. Mulder promptly pulled his arm away.

 

"No," he said and looked up at Scully. "I came. I

gave blood. I let the doctor poke and prod me. But I'm not

going to give in to an IV." Scully just raised her eyebrows

and placed one hand over her gun. Five minutes later the

IV was in.

 

Mulder just frowned and looked at Scully with the same

"look" he had been giving her all evening. Scully smiled a

little. If Mulder was complaining, he must be feeling better.

 

"I've got the results of the bloodwork, Dr. Scully."

Scully turned to see the doctor holding a piece of paper in

hand. He walked over to her and Mulder.

 

"It looks like a virus. Of what origin, I'm not sure.

I'd like to keep him overnight, have him on fluids. There

are signs of mild dehydration." As soon as the doctor said

"overnight" Mulder's eyes widened and pleaded with Scully.

 

"Actually we've on a case and need to get back. Since

I am a physician, I think I could care for him back at

the motel. Monitored closely, of course," Scully added.

 

The doctor nodded. "We'll pump him full of antibiotics

here, and I'll write you a script for orals. They should be

taken for 10 days. That should kill the infection." He

handed Scully the prescription along with another. He pulled

her away a little and spoke softly. "This one is for a

sedative." Scully opened to her mouth to ask how he knew,

but the doctor just smiled. "I've had patients like him

before. He's exhausted, but I'm willing to bet my pension

that he's isn't a good sleeper." Scully nodded. "Make sure

he takes one tonight. A good night's sleep will help out the

infection." Scully nodded again and thanked the doctor.

 

She walked to Mulder and smiled. "Doctor says as

soon as they get a good amount of antibiotics into you, we

can go back to the motel. Good news?"

 

"Thanks, Scully," Mulder said gratefully.

 

"Anytime partner." Anytime seemed to more frequent

then Scully would like, but with Mulder, what could she do?

 

Motel

10:23 p.m.

 

Scully sat on the edge of Mulder's bed, holding a glass

of water in one hand, and two pills in the other.

 

Mulder eyed the pills. "I thought I was supposed to

take only one pill," he said suspiciously. "What's this

other one?"

 

Scully eyed him and replied calmly, knowing he

would protest as soon as she said it. "It's a sedative,

Mulder."

 

Mulder shook his head strongly. A dull ache remained

from the concussion. "I knew that doctor was letting me off

a little too easily," he muttered.

 

"I'm not leaving until you swallow both pills," Scully

said firmly, feeling as if she were a mother trying to coax

her child to take cough medicine.

 

Mulder eyed them again. "Don't make me get my gun,

Mulder," Scully teased.

 

Mulder slowly took the two pills from Scully's hand and

swallowed them. He laid back on the pillows.

 

"I still want to talk to the Martins' and Katie," he

said, his eyes straying to the files on his dresser.

 

"There will be plenty of time to do that. But first

you get well. If I bring you back damaged one more time,

Skinner's going to be pissed at the insurance premiums you're

costing the FBI. You think you expense reports are

legendary," she said with a smile.

 

Mulder just nodded. The sedative was taking effect.

Mulder closed his eyes.

 

"Good night, Scully," he whispered.

 

Scully shut the lights. "'Night, Mulder."

 

Scully laid a hand on Mulder's forehead before she left.

It felt much cooler. She was still puzzled on how quickly

Mulder had gotten sick, but now she was puzzled as how much

better he seemed. {Guess a trip to the ER really did help}

she thought as she closed Mulder's door.

 

Motel

8:04 a.m.

 

"Rise and shine, Mulder." Scully was overly cheerful

on a dreadfully overcast morning. When that go no response

she shook his shoulder roughly. "C'mon, partner, we've got

work to do. C'mon-- wake u-up."

 

A groan emitted from the heap under the covers that was

Mulder. He muttered something Scully recognized as, "Too

early."

 

"Nah, it's after eight." That earned her another groan.

"Hey, I thought you wanted to talk to the Martins'."

 

Mulder buried his face in the pillow. "I was just

kidding."

 

"Ooooh, I don't think so." She yanked the covers down.

"Get up and take a shower, Mulder. Then we can get some

breakfast and you can take your pills!"

 

"Oh joy." With the covers gone and Scully's voice

echoing in his once again pounding head, Mulder sat up. He

ran a tongue over his teeth; they were sticky and dry.

"What time did you say it was?"

 

"Um... eight-ten."

 

"Scu-lly," he whined. "Katie's at school, there's no

point in going over." He dropped back on the bed, fully

prepared to go back to sleep.

 

"Nope, you see Mulder, it's a special day of the week

called Saturday where the children don't go to school and

the grown-ups-- the grown-ups with normal jobs-- don't

work. It's a family time for love and play and--"

 

"Oh, shut up." Mulder threw a pillow at her and

stumbled into the bathroom. Scully heard the water running

then a minute later a yelp. "SCULLY! You used up the hot

water!"

 

Scully grinned, knowing he couldn't see her. "Sorry!"

She shrugged.

 

 

The Martin's

Rutherford, NJ

8:50 a.m.

Samuel Buster Martin could hear his youngest daughter's

voice from all the way downstairs.

 

{Correction, your ONLY daughter} Buster stared down at

his hands. He wasn't a sensitive man, but the thinking of

Sarah still caused him to shudder. How could she have died

just like--

 

"I wish they were dead." A pause. "Yes I do!" Pause.

"I'm not taking this... why don't YOU fuck off?"

 

Buster frowned. "Katie?" He walked down the hall and

to the foot of the stairs. "Katie, come down, what are you

doing?"

 

She appeared from the door of her room, her face

flushed, hair tousled. "In a minute dad," she said. He

stood there, a confused expression glued to his face,

listening. A minute later the heated conversation picked up

once again.

 

"Listen, I don't want to KILL him.... I just... will

you let me FINISH?? I want to incapacitate him for a little

bit. Yeah I know I... you... whatever, already have. Yes I'm

perfectly aware this is an butt ugly sweater. I have to wear

it cause Aunt Martha made it and it's polite to...." She sighed.

"Yeah, I know. Don't worry, I won't wear it to school."

 

Buster was so intrigued with his daughter's conversation

with herself he didn't hear his wife come out of the kitchen.

She stood behind him and wrapped her arms around his waist.

 

"What're you doing, honey?"

 

He turned around as best he could in her grip. "Just

listening to Katie."

 

"Hmm?"

 

"Oh, nevermind. Honey, you know that sweater you're

sister made Katie last year? Do you like it? Cause..."

 

 

 

Restaurant

Rutherford, NJ

8:40 a.m.

 

"Mulder, may I remind you that just last night you were

dehydrated?"

 

He shrugged. He had swallowed his pills dry on the way

to the restaurant, despite Scully's objections, and was now

refusing to eat or drink anything.

 

Scully sighed and tried a different approach. "Plus,

this is the second time in two day you've gone to a restaurant

and not ordered anything. In some places they kick you out

for that." That earned her another indifferent shrug. "Fine,"

she said and returned her attention to her coffee.

 

Across the table, Mulder was having a blast exploring

straws and water. He dipped his plastic straw into the

glass, squeezed with his third and fourth fingers and

covered the top with his pointer. He then lifted the straw,

pulled his pointer finger away and eased the vice that squeezed

it shut. The water flowed out and back down into the cup in

a single curved, fluid, graceful motion. Mulder then repeated

the process, bringing the straw up a little high every time to

see it he could get it to a point where the water

missed the cup, or spread out of the neat traveling line.

 

"Will you stop messing with that?" Scully pushed away

her plate. "C'mon, let's get to the Martins' while it's still

early."

 

They walked through the parking lot, a thin layer of

rain dampening their hair.

 

"Hey, Scully?"

 

"Mm?" She turned around.

 

A cold wind picked up his hair in a cow lick. "Think

we'll get to meet Buster?"

 

Scully smiled. "Could be."

 

The Martin Household

9:30 a.m.

 

Scully sat on the floral printed couch. Mulder sat

beside her.

 

"Would you like something to drink?" asked Mrs. Martin.

"Coffee?"

 

"That would be great," Scully answered. Mulder just

looked at Buster. He was a _very_ well built man. Mulder

gulped. Mulder reminded himself. He put a hand to his head,

still feeling the remains of last night's headache.

Scully had told him that his fever had broken at about midnight

last night. Not that he remembered. After he had gone to bed,

the night was kind of a blur.

 

"Are you all right, Agent Mulder?"

 

Mulder looked up to see Mrs. Martin looking at him. She

held out a cup of coffee. Mulder took it gratefully.

 

"I'm fine," he said, but Scully put in her two cents in.

 

"Agent Mulder's just nursing a cold," she explained. Mrs.

Martin smiled knowingly. Mulder opened his mouth to start

asking questions, when he was interrupted by a yell from

upstairs.

 

"You SAID you'd incapacitate him for awhile!! but.....

yeah, he's h-"

 

Mulder turned his head to the stairs, to see if that was

where the noise was coming from. He frowned.

 

Buster sighed. "Not again," said Christina Martin.

Buster immediately went to the stairs. "KATIE!" he yelled,

"What IS going on up there??"

 

Some more muffled words followed. Then Katie appeared,

at the top of the stairs, and looked down at her father.

"Nothing, Dad. Sorry about the noise." Katie saw the two

agents and her eyes narrowed, partically on Mulder.

 

As soon as Mulder saw Katie Martin, his suspiciousions

were confirmed. He knew she was hiding something. {The key

to this case} his tired mind told him. He needed to solve

this case, but the fact that all he wanted to do was crawl

into his bed and sleep till next week was _not_ helping him.

 

"Katie, come downstairs please," Christina instructed.

 

"Yes, Mom." Katie walked down slowly, not taking her eyes off of Mulder.

 

Mulder watched Katie watch him as she walked down the

stairs. Suddenly the room begun to spin. It swirled. Mulder

blinked and shook his head, awakening a new bolt of pain Mulder

thought he had seen the last of. He reached up to

his head gingerly. The room suddenly got very dark at the

edges of his vision. He squinted.

 

"Katie, Agent Mulder wants....to you......nice." The

words seemed to fade in and out, like an echo. Mulder felt

himself start to teeter. He watched as everything went by in

slow motion. He saw Scully rush to him, then nothing.

 

Hospital

12:38 p.m.

 

"Doctor Smith please report to emergency. Doctor Smith

please report to emergency."

 

The sharp antiseptic odor was the first thing Mulder was

aware of. It was a smell he was growing _very_ tried of.

 

"hmmm.." He tried to open his eyelids but they wouldn't

cooperate.

 

"Mulder?" {Scully?} Mulder pried his eyes open. He was

greeted by a circle of swirling lights. In the middle of

those lights was a blob of red. Mulder blinked his eyes a few

times and was able to focus on the woman in front of

him.

 

"Hey," she said and smiled.

 

"Hey." His voice sounded rusty. His mind tried to

recall what had happened. He was in a hospital. But why? He

remembered being at the Martins'.......then what? He must have

looked confused, because Scully gripped his hand and smiled.

 

"You collapsed at the Martins' and got treated to a first

class ambulance ride," she explained.

 

Then Mulder remembered. He was at the Martins' when he

felt dizzy. In fact right before he passed out he remembered

Katie looking relieved. Mulder frowned at that.

 

"Katie...was.." He couldn't phrase it. It was a feeling

he couldn't express.

 

"Don't worry about talking to the Martins now, Mulder,"

Scully said gently, and was going to say more, when Mulder's

door opened. The same doctor that had treated Mulder in the

ER the night before walked in.

 

"Looks like someone's awake." He paused at Mulder's

bedside and opened his chart. "How are you feeling?"

 

"I've been better," Mulder answered. "When can I get

out of here?"

 

Scully knew that would be the first question out of

Mulder's mouth, and apparently, so did the doctor.

 

"You just collapsed. I'm afraid you won't be going

home tonight. We still don't know what triggered your collapse,

Agent Mulder. The virus I treated you for last night seems

to be in check. I'd like to keep you overnight for observation.

If all checks out, you leave first thing tomorrow morning."

 

"Tomorrow morning? Look Doctor--" Mulder looked at his

tag. "Dr. Andrews. I have things to do. A case to investigate."

 

"The case can wait, Mulder." Scully pushed him gently

back into the bed. Mulder was still weak; he didn't put up

much of a struggle. "Listen to the doctor. A night in the

hospital could do you some good." Scully had used her own

'doctor's orders' voice. The voice Mulder usually backed down

to. Today was not an exception.

 

"One night," he said, "One night."

 

"Good," the doctor said. "You also seem to be

dehydrating again, Agent Mulder. The best thing to do when

you are sick is drink liquids." He looked down at Mulder.

"I'm figuring you weren't doing that, right?"

 

Mulder shrank back down in the bed. "No he hasn't,"

Scully answered for him.

 

"Well, then, you just earned yourself an IV, Agent

Mulder. I'll send Peggy in to set it up. I'll be back to

check on you later."

 

Mulder looked at Scully, his eyes taking on the familiar

pleading look.

 

Scully shrugged. "Sorry, Mulder. One night won't

kill you."

 

"Yeah, right," he muttered. This was the day from

hell.

 

 

The Martin's

Rutherford, NJ

11:34

 

Katie lay face down on her bed crying. "It's not fair!"

She pounded her fists on the couch.

 

THIS IS WHAT YOU WANTED

 

"But it's not ME," she told the walls. "The Katie I know

wouldn't do that. The Katie I know wouldn't--" She broke off

sobbing.

 

YOU WANTED THE FBI AGENT KILLED. I TOLD YOU NOT TO

BUT...

 

She looked up suddenly. "He's not DEAD, is he?"

 

NOT YET

 

"Yet?" Katie sniffed. "I changed my mind, I don't want

him dead. Make him okay."

 

IT'S UP TO YOU. LISTEN. YOUR PARENTS THINK YOU'RE A

PSYCHO TALKING TO YOUR ROOM. WE NEED A NEW WAY OF COMMUNICATING.

I WANT YOU TO TRY THIS. TELL ME "I AM KATIE"

 

"I am Katie," said Katie, very softly.

 

NOW, SAY IT THE NEW WAY. THINK IT REALLY HARD. THINK "I

AM KATIE"

 

"I am Katie," Katie said again.

 

NO, NO, NO. THINK IT. DON'T SAY IT.

 

{I am Katie.}

 

YES!!! RIGHT! NOW, THINK SOMETHING ELSE TO ME.

 

{Who are you? Why are you talking to me?}

 

WELL... I CAN'T TELL YOU THAT RIGHT NOW.

 

{Well, when CAN you? You're USING me and I want to know.

Are you dead or alive? What's your name?}

 

I TOLD YOU. JOANNA.

 

{Joanna what?}

 

A pause. JOANNA WASSERMAN. AND NO, I'M NOT ALIVE. I

DIED IN 1993.

 

{We moved here in 1993.}

 

I KNOW

 

{How did you die?}

 

CAR. HIT AND RUN. I THINK IT WAS DELIBERATE BUT... I

DUNNO.

 

{Yeah you do.} Katie thought. {Tell me. Can all dead

people talk like you can?}

 

The walls were silent for a minute, then they said very

softly. I JUST DON'T KNOW.

 

 

Hospital

1:35 a.m.

 

Mulder was struggling desperately to keep his eyes open.

They had given him a sedative what felt like hours ago-- looking

at his watch he saw it was only twenty minutes ago-- but so far

he'd managed to stay awake. Scully was back at the hotel and

the nurses had FINALLY left him alone so he planned to get up

at 2:00 a.m. when he knew nobody would bother checking on him.

He knew Scully had left the case file on the chair across the

room, so he'd have to dislodge the IV first, but then he could

turn on the light and get some work done.

 

He pressed down the Indiglo on his watch again. 1:42.

{Screw it, I'm taking this thing out.} He yanked on his IV

line until it pulled out and left it dangling, dripping onto

the floor. Swinging his legs over the side of the bed he had

to rest his head between his knees for a minute so he wouldn't

pass out. {It's probably the Valium-- or whatever-- that they

gave me.} Taking a deep breath, he slid down to the floor,

finding it smooth and cold under his bare feet. He shivered

and quickly made his way over to where his bag with his clothes

was. {Ah, Scully.} She had left him jeans and a T-shirt.

Mulder grabbed a tissue from a convenient box on the window

sill and pressed it up against the spot where his IV had been.

 

He quickly changed into the jeans and T-shirt and made

himself as comfortable as possible in the impossibly

uncomfortable visitor's chair. Spreading the folder in his lap,

he rummaged in the bag, found his glasses, slipped them on

and stared down.

 

"Oh no," he groaned. The words swam before him. He

squinted, tried to focus his eyes, to no avail, the words were

barely there now, just dark blurs on a white surface. He then

had to squeeze his eyes shut when his body threatened to either

pass out or throw up... or both. Mulder whimpered as pain shot

through his head and he felt like melting into the upholstery

and disappearing. His shoulder's slumped and his head fell back

to the top of the chair.

 

 

 

The Martin's

Rutherford, NJ

2:03 a.m.

 

Katie couldn't sleep so she talked to Joanna.

 

{Is he feeling better, now?}

 

She could almost see Joanna's frown.

 

I'M SORRY... I CAN'T TAKE THINGS BACK.

 

Katie sat up. {What do you mean? You can't make him

better? Will he EVER get better?}

 

OH, YEAH. Joanna reassured her. I JUST GAVE HIM AN

INTRICATE VIRUS THE DOCTORS WON'T BE ABLE TO TREAT SO HE'LL

JUST HAVE TO... ROUGH IT OUT, I GUESS.

 

{How long?}

 

I'D SAY TWO-- THREE WEEKS

 

Katie groaned.

 

{You CAN'T take it back at all?}

 

SORRY.

 

Hospital

8:35 a.m.

 

"He what?"

 

"Apparently he pulled out his IV, got out of bed, got

dressed and tried to read this." Dr. Andrews held up a brown

folder.

 

"Damn," Scully muttered, grabbing the folder. "I knew

I left it here." She sighed. "So what exactly happened after

that?"

 

"The night nurse found him collapsed in the chair. Most

likely the combination of the Valium, exhaustion, and the

illness he seems to be suffering from. Of course, I don't know

the real story. He's still unconscious. But I did order a

strong dose of Valium so he'd sleep last night. He sure can

fight that stuff off." Scully nodded in agreement.

 

"So, how is he health-wise?" She looked up to face Dr.

Andrews.

 

"Well, he started to run a temp last night. Nothing

major. About 101. It went down to 100, but there's no way I'm

discharging him this morning. And I'm telling him that as

soon as he wakes up."

 

Scully glanced down the hall toward Mulder's room. He

wasn't going to like this. "He'll put up a fight, but it's

for the best. Have any idea what's causing this?"

 

Dr. Andrews dropped his eyes down and shook his head.

"Nope. Tests are showing it's a virus, though it's different

from the virus I treated him for the other night.. This one

I've never seen. I've started him on a course of IV

antibiotics. Hopefully they should help."

 

"I hope so, Dr. Andrews. Mulder's insurance premium is

high enough."

 

Dr. Andrews held up a stack of papers. "So I've heard."

 

They both laughed.

 

Hospital

8:55 a.m.

"mmmm."

 

Mulder turned his head, sending a sharp pain from his

head down through his spine. His head hurt. His eyes hurt.

Hell, everything hurt. He laid with his eyes closed, afraid

of what the light would do to them. So instead he tried to

remember what happened. The last thing he remembered was going

to the chair to read the file. He remembered tearing his

IV out, changing and getting his reading glasses. He had to

know what was going on. He struggled to open his eyes,

blinking against the light. Finally his eyes adjusted and

he looked around.

 

His hospital room. He looked down at his arm. {Damn.}

The IV was back. He glanced down at his chest. The nurses

had obliviously exchanged his jeans and shirt for a hospital

gown. Mulder groaned again. The only thing that perked his

spirits was his remembering Dr. Andrews said he could leave

today.

 

Speak of the devil. Dr. Andrews chose that moment to

walk in, holding a stack of papers. Scully followed behind.

She had been talking about him to the good doctor no doubt.

 

"Morning, Mulder," Scully said, sitting at the edge of

the bed. Dr. Andrews had placed the papers down on the table

next to Mulder's bed and had grabbed his chart.

 

"Care to explain what happened last night, Agent

Mulder?" Dr. Andrews said, opening the chart and making some

notes with his pen.

 

"Would you believe that I couldn't sleep?" Mulder

deadpanned.

 

"Haha, Mulder. Very funny." Mulder was sure if Scully

had a pillow she'd throw it at him.

 

"I don't appreciate patients who are under strict

orders to rest, taking things into their own hands by

ripping out their IV and deciding to do some late night

studying."

 

Mulder looked toward Scully.

 

"Don't look at me Mulder, I agree with the man."

 

"Great, gang up on me," he mumbled. "So what time am I

getting out of here today?"

 

Dr. Andrews closed Mulder's chart. "You're not."

 

"What?" Mulder asked. He _had_ to get out of here. This

was slowing turning into the case from hell.

 

"I'm not discharging you today." Scully eyed Mulder

and excepted an outburst. But Dr. Andrews beat Mulder to the

punch.

 

"I'm not discharging you because you developed a fever

last night. There are signs of the virus I diagnosed you

with the other night in the ER. Looks like the antibiotics

were a temporary fix. Hopefully we can find the right one. Then

when your fever breaks, and only then, can you go home.

Hopefully that will be within the next 24 hours." Mulder

opened his mouth to protest, but Dr. Andrews waved him off.

"Doesn't matter anyway, Agent Mulder. I signed you off

active duty and talked with your Director. I'll check back

later." And with that Andrews left the room.

 

"I think he's the worst yet," Mulder said under his

breath. Scully just shook her head and looked him in the

eyes. "Did he really talk to Skinner?" he asked Scully.

 

Scully nodded. "Afraid so, Mulder."

 

"But who gave him the number?" Mulder looked at her

suspiciously.

 

"Sorry about that, Mulder. But you need the rest.

Skinner agreed I could handle the investigation for a couple

of days."

 

"But, Sculleee," Mulder started.

 

"I can handle it, Mulder. It's not like we are getting

anywhere, anyway. The case will probably still be unsolved in

two days."

 

"Can I at least read the file?"

 

Scully sighed, but handed over the file. "Fine, but you

better stay out of trouble."

 

Mulder was already reaching for his glasses. "Yes, Mom."

 

The Martins'

Rutherford, NJ

9:00 a.m.

 

The Martins studied their breakfast intently, fully

expecting it to get up and start reciting the Constitution

at any moment. Buster finally broke the silence.

 

"Katie--"

 

His wife cut him off. "Katie, we're worried about you.

First you're sitting in your room all day talking to no one

and now you haven't said anything but you keep staring at the

walls. What's happening?" she rambled.

 

{Please get up and recite the Constitution} she begged

her breakfast. {Joanna?} She looked up at the wall.

 

YOU'RE ON YOUR OWN

 

{Can they hear you?}

 

NOPE, JUST YOU. DON'T WORRY, IT'S OKAY. JUST MAKE UP

SOMETHING.

 

"Katie, what's going on?" Buster demanded. He put down

his fork and gave his daughter a glare that said no one was

leaving the table till she started talking.

 

Katie bit her lip. "Uh... well, you see, I have a big

Geometry test."

 

"Geometry." Her father repeated.

 

"Geometry," she said.

 

"Sweetie, I thought you took Algebra," her mother chimed

in. A look from Buster silenced her.

 

"Is that it?" Buster said.

 

She nodded vigorously. "Mm hm."

 

Buster and his wife exchanged looks.

 

 

Hospital

12:07 p.m.

 

Scully entered the room to find her partner asleep. Just

not in the conventional position. He was sitting cross

legged on the bed-- he had somehow acquired a pair of sweats

and lost the hospital gown fashion statement-- various

folders and papers spilling out of his lap, a pencil poised

in hand, reading glasses on his nose.

 

She stepped over and looked down at his notebook. He

had scribbled down several barely legible notes which she

struggled to read.

 

Connection Joanna Wasserman-- Katie Martin. Do they

communicate? Look up on Joanna Wasserman, full history.

Ask Scully...

 

She couldn't read anything after that. He must've been

half asleep by that point. She looked at him and frowned; his

face was death pale besides the crimson fever spots on his

cheeks and ears. Laying a hand on his forehead, she gasped.

She marched quickly down the hall and stopped at the nurse's

station.

 

"Excuse me, where's Doctor Andrews?" she asked

breathlessly.

 

One nurse looked up. "Down the hall, there..." Scully

had already run down the hall and into a room with a patient

with a broken leg.

 

"Doctor Andrews, may I have a word with you?"

 

He looked up. "In a minute, Doctor Scully."

 

Scully waited impatiently by the wall until he was ready

to leave. "Doctor Andrews, have you been in to see my partner

this morning?"

 

The doctor frowned. "Not since you left... Is he

responding well to the new medication?"

 

"Hardly. His fever's spiked, come see this. And why

did you let him work? His head is killing him as it is--"

 

"I'm SORRY, Doctor Scully," Andrews said brusquely.

"We do have other patients and I wasn't even aware you had

left."

 

"Yeah, well, I had to do an interview." She snorted.

"The Martin's youngest daughter's gone nuts. Oh, but don't tell

Mulder, I don't want him worrying about that now.... and believe

me, he'll be out of bed in a second if he knew there was

something wrong with Katie." The Doctor gave her a strange

look and she waved her hand. "Nevermind, let's just go see

him."

 

Andrews clucked when he saw his fever bright cheeks.

"Damn, you're right, we need to try a new medication. Let's

get all those folders off of him then I'll check him out."

 

It took several minutes to get the various files and

folders and notebooks of him, but pretty soon they had him

lying down on his back. He was oblivious to them.

 

Doctor Andrews frowned when he read the thermometer.

Scully looked over his shoulder. "One oh three point four,"

she said softly.

 

"Let's get him off this medication. Then I'll have to

do some more tests and find something different."

 

"He won't like that."

 

"I know. Let's get him more comfortable." He directed

Scully to take off his sweatshirt and went into the small

bathroom to dampen a washcloth. When he returned, Mulder

was shirtless and Scully had pulled a chair over-- the same one

Mulder had escaped to the previous night-- and was sitting by

his side, brushing his damp hair with her fingers. Andrews

handed her the washcloth and she gently bathed his face, arms

and chest, then left it on his forehead.

 

Andrews put a hand on Scully's shoulder. "I'm sorry,

Doctor Scully. I'm going right now to try to find some new

medication. But..."

 

"What?" Scully looked up.

 

He sighed. "I'm not sure if I'll have any success. We

still don't know what this virus is, these first two

medications we used were simple guesses, but I have a feeling

we're not even close. I just..." He sighed again and left.

 

 

The Martin's

Rutherford, NJ

1:00 p.m.

 

THE LADY FBI AGENT CAME TODAY Joanna said.

 

{Yeah I'm perfectly aware of that. I had to talk to her

remember??}

 

OF COURSE. I HAD TO LISTEN TO YOU MAKE A FOOL OF YOURSELF

TALKING TO HER.

 

{Shut up.} On second thought, She added quickly. {Why

do you think she cares that I'm talking to walls?}

 

I DUNNO. I GUESS YOUR PARENTS CALLED HER UP AND SAID

THEIR DAUGHTER WASACTING STRANGE AND SHE SHOULD COME AND

INTERROGATE YOU. BUT... I THINK IT'S THE MALE AGENT, AGENT

MULDER, WE SHOULD REALLY BE WORRYING ABOUT.

 

{Why? He's in the hospital now, isn't he?}

 

EXACTLY. YOU DON'T THINK PEOPLE WILL SOMEHOW CONNECT

YOU TO AGENT MULDER?

 

{Noooo.... I don't think so.}

 

WELL... I DO.

 

{You're paranoid.}

 

OF COURSE. YOU WOULD BE TOO IF YOU HAD BEEN KILLED WHEN

YOU WERE 12.

 

{You were twelve? I'M twelve.}

 

After a minute, she said slowly I KNOW.

 

Hospital

2:04 p.m.

 

Mulder woke up around two. He was confused and thirsty

and wanted to know where Scully was.

 

"Hey," She squeezed his hand. "I'm right here, G-man."

 

He blinked his eyes several times. "Scully," he said

hoarsely. "Water."

 

She found the Styrofoam cup of ice chips and held out

a spoonful of chips and brought them up to his lips.

 

He shook his head, wincing. "Water," he demanded, his

voice gravely.

 

"Try this first." Scully pushed the spoon into his

mouth. He closed his eyes and let them melt slowly in his

mouth.

 

"Now water."

 

Scully shook her head. "Take it slow, Mulder." She

spooned him more ice chips.

 

He leaned back, exhausted. "I feel like shit," he said

slowly.

 

"Yeah, I know."

 

"How could you?" he said. Despite the ice chips, his

throat was painfully dry again and he began to choke.

 

"Whoah, shhh." Scully quickly gave him more ice. He

closed his eyes. "Doctor Andrews is trying to get some new

medicine for you. The old one wasn't any good."

 

Mulder didn't respond but sank back down in the bed.

 

Scully watched Mulder sink back into the pillow, his

eyes at half-mast. He looked up at her, and she could see

him battling to stay awake. She brushed his bangs aside.

 

"Go to sleep, Mulder," she said gently. Mulder just

nodded and closed his eyes.

 

After making sure Mulder was asleep, Scully got up and

her eyes strayed to the folders that she and Dr. Andrews had

moved to the window sill. She picked them up and one fell out.

 

It was the same paper Mulder had scribbled his notes

on. Scully didn't know about the connection between Katie

and Joanna, but one thing Mulder wrote did make sense. She

should go find out more about Joanna's death. Glancing at

Mulder one last time, she backed out of the room. She left

her cell phone number at the nurses station so she could be

reached and left.

 

Police Station

3:15 p.m.

 

"Yeah, I remember Joanna Wasserman. Here one week and

already causing trouble. I caught her shoplifting at the

candy store."

 

Scully had come to the police station, hoping to find

someone that would remember Joanna and her death. She hit

jackpot with Detective Linda Parks, the officer in charge of

that investigation.

 

"I read about that," Scully answered. "What about the

day she died?"

 

Detective Parks nodded. "I remember that. Poor girl

was just crossing the street. She got hit dead on. Driver

fled the scene. Still haven't found him." She shook her head,

then stopped in thought.

 

"What?" Scully asked.

 

"It was just a shame how her parents didn't really get

too upset at the news. In fact they seemed kind of relieved.

I even got a little suspicious, but turned up nothing. Joanna

may have not been an angel, but still...."

 

Scully nodded, writing things in her notebook. "Think

I could talk to Joanna's parents?"

 

Parks walked to her desk and shuffled some papers,

finally producing one for Scully. "Here's their number in

Texas."

 

"Thanks." Scully put the number in her pocket and

started to leave.

 

"Agent Scully?"

 

"Yes?" She turned around.

 

"I thought you were investigating Sarah Martin's death.

What does that have to do with Joanna?"

 

Scully just smiled lightly. "I'm not at liberty to

say."

 

Parks nodded. Scully breathed a sigh of relief as

she walked out. That detective just looked a little too much

like Detective White.

 

The car

3:35 p.m.

 

Scully was just about to put her key into the ignition

when her cell phone rang. She put the keys down and flipped

it open.

 

"Scully."

 

"Dr. Scully?" Scully immediately recognized the voice

as Dr. Andrews. She sat up straighter, worry furrowing her

brow.

 

"How is he?" she asked immediately, her voice trembling

a little as she

spoke.

 

"His fever spiked up to 104. And his breathing is a bit

labored. I'm afraid that the infection may have spread to his

lungs. We were able to get his temperature down half a degree,

but now he's awake and won't let us touch him anymore until

you get here."

 

Scully sighed. {Mulder, why can't you ever listen?}

"I'll be there right away." She hung up and placed her cell

phone on the seat beside her. Then she put the key into the

ignition and sped off.

 

Hospital

3:55 p.m.

 

"Where's Scully?" It was the hundredth time Mulder

had asked that question and he still wasn't getting a straight

answer.

 

The nurse who was poised to draw some blood just

shrugged.

 

"She's on the way, Agent Mulder."

 

Mulder looked up and saw Dr. Andrews walk in. "How

about letting us draw some blood then?"

 

Mulder just shook his head. He knew they had already

poked and prodded him while he was asleep. And he wasn't

happy to wake up and find, in addition to the IV, he also had

an oxygen tube under his nose. He felt like shit and

wanted everyone to leave him alone. But most of all he wanted

Scully.

 

"Mulder, stop being a pain in the ass and let them draw

blood." Mulder smiled. He'd know that voice anywhere.

{Scully!} He looked toward the door and saw her standing there,

not looking very happy. Mulder reluctantly let the nurse

take his arm. Dr. Andrews wrote some more on Mulder's chart and

left. Five minutes later, the nurse left as well.

 

"You're not happy till you have pissed off every

hospital in the country, are you?" Scully sighed and sat on

the bed.

 

"Where did you go?" Scully sighed again. She wouldn't

tell him about Katie, but she could tell him that she went to

the police station.

 

"I went to the police station. Talked to a detective

who investigated her death." Scully also failed to mention

the likeness she had to Detective White.

 

Mulder laid back on the pillows and looked at her.

"Guess you read my notes."

 

"The ones that were legible, yes." Scully smiled. "I

found nothing out of the ordinary. She was hit while crossing

the street. Though her parents did not seem to saddened by

her death. Because of that they were investigated. Came

out clean." Scully conveniently left out the fact she had the

Wassermans' phone number. Tell that to Mulder and he would be

on the phone in a moment. And all she wanted him to do was

rest.

 

"I'm surprised to see you fighting back," Scully

admitted. "Doctor Andrews says your fever went up a degree."

 

Mulder grimaced at that. Obviously he had been told

that. Scully noted the oxygen cannula under his nose. She

knew Mulder hated those. She could also hear him breathing

a little heavier after each time he spoke. He didn't need

a long discussion now. She walked over to him, sitting next

to him on what was coming to be known as "her spot" and tucked

the blankets around him closer.

 

"Listen. This is tiring you out. Fighting the doctor

is tiring you out. We can talk later."

 

Mulder looked up at her. For a minute he didn't speak.

Then he nodded. "But one more thing," he said, then pausing to

take a breath.

 

"What?" Scully asked, hoping it wasn't about Katie. No

such luck.

 

"Did you talk to the Martins' since I've been here? To

Katie?"

 

"No," she lied. "Go back to sleep." She watched

Mulder's eyes slip closed. She felt bad about lying to him,

but she had to. She just had to.

 

Hospital

Rutherford, NJ

4:17 p.m.

 

Scully sat by Mulder's side for a while, to make sure

he wouldn't wake up again, then went downstairs in search of

a decent cup of coffee and a pay phone. She found the coffee--

well, it was ALMOST recognizable as coffee--without much

trouble in the cafeteria, and though it wasn't exactly eligible

to be called "coffee" she drank it all and felt a little

better. {Now the fun part}

 

Pulling a chair up to the phone booth, she sat down and,

pulling out the slip of paper with the Wasserman's number,

dialed in the numbers and charged it to the Bureau.

 

Well, Mrs. Wasserman was not the happiest thing running

around on two legs. "What do you want?" she greeted Scully

cordially.

 

"Ah, yes. I'm Agent Scully with the FBI--"

 

She was cut off. "We already answered all the questions

that needed to be answered for the Rutherford Police. No, we

had no part in the death of our daughter and yes, we are

devastated by her departure." She spat out the last

word.

 

{How did she...? Psychic ability? Jeez, I sound like

Mulder!} "Mrs. Wasserman, I understand that and believe me

you have my condolences on the death of--"

 

"Oh, get on with it."

 

Scully cut to the chase. "Recently, we found a piece

of evidence in the study of a murder case, the murder of

a Sarah Martin, a bracelet, and we found Joanna's fingerprints

on it. Now--"

 

"Oh right, so now you think she's ALIVE. Am I responsible

for that, too?"

 

Scully cleared her throat, trying to keep her cool. "Ah,

no, Mrs. Wasserman. I was just wondering if you know if your

daughter ever met or had a relationship with a girl named

Katie Martin."

 

"Are you now suggesting my daughter was a homosexual?"

 

Scully ground her teeth. "Not that kind of relationship."

 

{I'm getting nowhere! Hmm... I wonder if her husband is

more cooperative...}

 

"Is your husband home?" she said.

 

"Don't bring my husband into this. You know what? I don't

have to talk to you. I have to go. I'm going now, goodbye."

she said brusquely.

 

"GOOD-bye to you too," Scully said.

 

 

When Scully entered the room, a crowd had gathered

around Mulder.

 

"What the...?" Scully pushed through and saw Mulder

thrashing around on the bed.

 

"Clear out, people. Give the man some air." Doctor

Andrews looked like he was either directing traffic or herding

cattle. He looked up pleadingly when Scully came into view.

"I don't know what to do with him; he's pushing away

everyone. He's gonna hurt someone."

 

"He's sleeping, damnit," Scully said between clenched

teeth. She pushed past Doctor Andrews and the few remaining

nurses and doctors and sat on the edge of Mulder's bed.

Gently grabbing his wrists, she held them together, noticing he

had dislodged the IV. "Mulder," she said. "It's just a dream.

It's okay, shhhh." He had started to whimper and still

wasn't responding to her.

 

His legs began trembling, then his whole body, until

she could barely keep her hold on his wrists.

 

"Mulder, Mulder. Shhhh, it's okay. C'mon Mulder,

wake up now. It's Scully, I'm here." As soon as she said

her name his eyes shot open.

 

"Scully." His voice sounded awful, rusty and sore.

"You're here Scully. You left."

 

"I know, shhhh." He was still shaking uncontrollably.

"Relax, it's okay. It was just a dream. It was--"

 

"Joanna," Mulder said. "She's it."

 

"What?"

 

"Joanna," he said again, then gasped for breath.

 

"Okay. Relax, I'm going to get the doctor."

 

Scully watched him warily as she walked out of the door.

Doctor Andrews was standing right outside of it.

 

"His breathing is getting worse. He needs to calm

down," Scully said quietly to the doctor.

 

Andrews simply nodded and walked toward the nurses

station. Scully walked back into the room. Mulder was

still breathing hard and gasping. Scully went back to her

place on the bed.

 

"Shhhh, Mulder. Relax. The doctor is going to give

you something to help," she whispered gently.

 

"No more," he rasped, and paused to take a breath,

"sedatives."

 

Scully just looked at him and stroked his face gently.

The action was simple, but it made Mulder feel a hundred

times better. His breathing relaxed a little and he found

himself just staring into Scully's blue eyes. He lost

himself in those eyes.

 

Scully just whispered "it's okay" over and over. She

walked Mulder calm a bit and saw Dr. Andrews walk in behind

her, a needle in his hand. Mulder didn't seem to notice, he

just stared at Scully, as if she was the only thing there.

Scully motioned with the back of her hand for Andrews to give

her the needle.

 

Scully keep her eyes on Mulder and whispered, "it's

okay" as she reattached Mulder's IV and injected the contents

of the syringe into the line.

 

"Joanna," he whispered, as he closed his eyes.

 

Scully just pushed some hair out of his face and nodded.

 

Martin Household

7:15 p.m.

 

Scully had waited by Mulder's bedside for awhile, just

watching him sleep. Mulder still tossed and turned, even in a

drugged sleep. Scully didn't want to leave him, but Doctor

Andrews insisted she should get something to eat and that he

would be fine for a couple of hours. Scully had reluctantly

left Mulder's side and grabbed a bite to eat at the McDonald's

she and Mulder had dined in their first night, then had headed

to the Martins'.

 

Why she headed there, she didn't know. But when Mulder

had said "Joanna" she had to admit, she got chills. So she

was going to prove to herself--as well as Mulder that there

was nothing going on with Katie.

 

Christina Martin welcomed her in warmly, asking her to

sit down. Buster sat down on the chair across from her. He

had a serious expression on his face.

 

"Agent Scully," he began, "We're glad you came. Katie's

been acting strange."

 

"My poor girl's talking to walls and taking geometry now,"

Christina muttered.

 

"I see," Scully said, choosing her words carefully.

"Can I talk to Katie?"

 

"Of course." Buster walked to the stairs. "KATIE!"

 

Katie heard her father call her from her bedroom.

 

{She's back, isn't she?}

 

YES, BUT DON'T WORRY.

 

{Easy for you to say.}

 

DON'T WORRY I'LL TELL YOU WHAT TO SAY.

 

{Okay.}

 

"Coming Dad!"

 

Scully heard the "coming dad!" and then Katie bounded

down the stairs, landing on the last one quite loudly. Katie

stopped it front of Scully and smiled.

 

"Yes?" she said innocently.

 

"Agent Scully wants to talk to you, Katie," her father

said. Katie nodded.

 

"Shoot." {Ready?} Katie directed at the walls. YEP, it

echoed back.

 

Scully launched into the easy questions, like "What

happened when Sarah died?", and "Where were you?" and questions

like that. Katie relaxed until Scully asked her last question.

 

"Katie, have you ever heard of a Joanna Wasserman?"

 

Katie paused and looked at the walls. {What?}

 

SAY YOU HEARD OF ME FROM THE NEIGHBORS. JUST TALK.

 

"I heard of her. From the neighbors. Just talk though,"

Katie said smoothly, crossing her fingers behind her back.

 

Scully noted that Katie had her hand behind her

back.

 

"Just talk?" Scully repeated.

 

"Just talk." Katie looked toward the walls.

 

IT WILL.

 

Scully opened her mouth to ask about it further, when

she was interrupted by her cell phone.

 

"Excuse me," she said as she got it out. "Scully."

 

"Doctor Scully, I think you ought to get down here."

 

Scully sighed. "What happened?"

 

Scully heard Dr. Andrews sigh as well. "Agent Mulder

is awake and well, let's just say, my nursing staff is

threatening to quit on me."

 

Scully again, louder. "Okay, I will there soon. How

is his health faring?"

 

"Not well. Fever's down to 102, but his breathing seems

to be getting worse. His lack of cooperation is not helping."

 

"I'll be there in ten minutes." Scully disconnected the

line. As soon as she did she could swear she heard something

say "I told you so."

 

Hospital

7:50 p.m.

 

As soon as she walked out of the elevator, Scully knew

Mulder was being a pest.

 

"No! Leave me alone!" she heard from the direction she

knew Mulder's room was in. It didn't take brainpower for her

to know it _was_ Mulder.

 

She entered the room and found Mulder thrashing about on

the bed. He looked terrible. His face was sheet white,

with the exception of the red patches that resided on his

cheeks. Beads of sweat covered his forehead. He had managed

to dislodge his IV again and she saw Dr. Andrews trying to

reattach it. Scully would never forget the look of relief

that Andrews gave her when she reached Mulder's bedside.

 

Scully just smiled in return. Mulder's face light up

when he saw her at his bedside. Scully took the IV equipment

from Andrews hand and said "Allow me." Andrews shot her

another grateful look and left her and Mulder alone.

 

"I thought he'd," Mulder wheezed, "never leave."

 

"I'm sure he wanted to Mulder. You're not actually

the world's greatest patient." She heard him gasping and

noticed he had removed the oxygen cannula

and it was sitting in his lap.

 

"Mulder, you shouldn't take this off," she scolded as

she picked it up.

 

"Scully, I hate those things," he protested.

 

Scully just raised her eyebrows in the look she

had perfected long ago. She repositioned the oxygen cannula

under his nose and pulled out the IV on his

hand.

 

"Yeah, Scully, now you're thinking," Mulder said

grinning.

 

She looked up at him. "You wish. You pulled on it

too much. I'll have to start a new one."

 

Mulder grimaced as she slid the new needle in. Scully

attached the IV and then looked at him seriously.

 

"I don't know if I can ever leave you alone again," she

said.

 

Mulder suddenly found a part of the wall very interesting.

A few minutes of ilence passed between them. Finally Mulder

mumbled something Scully couldn't make out.

 

"What did you say?" she asked innocently.

 

He turned to her. "I said, I'm sorry for being such

a pain in the ass. Really."

 

"Does that mean you will behave?"

 

Mulder's fever-bright eyes twinkled. "I'll try."

 

"Yeah, well, try hard." She got up and walked toward

the window and looked out at the sky. She didn't see any

stars. Not even a tiny little sparkle. {Just like our case,}

she thought ruefully.

 

"How's the case?" Mulder voice brought Scully out of

her own thoughts. She turned to him.

 

"I don't know if I should talk about it," Scully said

matter-of-factly.

 

"I'll be good," Mulder promised. A few couched escaped

him then. Scully looked on concerned.

 

Mulder laid back down on the pillow. "I'm ok," he

reassured her. "How about the case?"

 

"Mulder, the case is doing just about as well as you

are."

 

More silence passed between them.

 

"Well, I do have theories. But since the nurses seem

to be coming with needles a lot, I haven't really been able to

think long enough. At least with a clear head." Then he

reached the hand without the IV up to his head gingerly.

"That isn't pounding."

 

"That's okay Mulder. I don't know if want to hear your

'theories' anyway," she teased. Then her face turned serious.

She had to tell him something so that he would relax a little.

 

"I talked to Katie today," she said quietly.

 

Mulder picked his head up. "And?" he asked and winced

when a pain ran through him, forcing him to put his head down.

 

"And, she was acting a bit.....strange," Scully

admitted, hoping this won't affect his health.

 

"How so?" He asked, shutting his eyes against another

pain.

 

"Before I go on, I'm going to remind you that you are

off active duty. By order of the AD."

 

"I know, Scully."

 

"Just keep it in mind. She was answering quickly.

When I asked her about if she had heard of Joanna, she glanced

at the walls, put her hand behind her back, and said she had

heard about through neighbors. 'Just talk' were her

words."

 

"I was right-" Mulder started, when he suddenly gasped.

He looked at Scully.

 

"Scu.." He couldn't even get her name out; he didn't

have enough air. Scully bolted out of the room calling for

the doctor.

 

The Martin's

Rutherford, NJ

7:55 p.m.

 

"What do you mean you're just gonna deprive him of air

for a couple minutes???"

 

MIND SPEAK!!! Joanna reminded her. YOUR PARENTS THINK

YOU'RE CRAZY ENOUGH AS IT IS. Her voice calmed, WELL, JUST

TO STOP THAT PARTNER OF HIS. SHE KNOWS TOO MUCH AND SHE'S

ABOUT TO TELL IT. RELAX, I WON'T KILL 'IM

 

{You could}

 

I WON'T. HERE, YOU WANT HIM TO BREATHE? YOU GOT IT

 

 

Hospital

7:56 p.m.

 

Doctor Andrews was running around flustered when Mulder

started coughing.

 

Scully had remained at Mulder's side the whole time,

trying to convince him that breathing couldn't be THAT hard.

The doctor had checked and there was nothing blocking his

passage and nothing he had choked on, but he wasn't able

to take a breath for some reason. Almost like his throat was

squeezed to a point where no air could get through. So when

he started hacking and gasping for air and his face lost the

sickening blue tinge, it was a relief for Scully.

 

"Deep breaths," she cooed, rubbing his back to try

to cease the ceaseless coughing.

 

 

The Martin's

Rutherford, NJ

7:59 p.m.

 

THERE. DONE

 

{He's okay, now?}

 

WELL, NOT FULLY HEALED. HE'LL PROBABLY PASS OUT IN

ABOUT A MINUTE FROM THE LACK OF OXYGEN FOR SO LONG

 

{Wha-, whadya mean? You gave it back to him, didn't

you?}

 

YEAH, BUT MY HANDYWORK ALWAYS HAS SOME.... UH, AFTERMATH

 

{Aftermath. Wonderful.} Katie leaned back against the

wall. {Will he be okay, though? No brain damage or anything?}

 

NO, NO, NO. I'D NEVER DO ANYTHING PERMANENT. WELL,

NOT UNLESS YOU ASK ME TO. JUST ENOUGH TO STOP THE TRUTH FROM

GETTING TO HIM

 

"The truth..." Katie said aloud, quietly.

 

 

Hospital

8:04 p.m.

 

After several terrible moments of hacking and gasping

to get his air back, on the verge of hyperventilation, Mulder

passed out. It was probably for the best.

 

Doctor Andrews and Scully fell back, exhausted, in the

visitor's chairs.

 

"Doctor Scully, I don't know what to do," Andrews

admitted. "I've never seen anything like it. I think..." He

took a deep breath then puffed it out in slow intervals. "I

think we're just going to have to tough it out, wait for

it to pass. It doesn't seem to.... well, yes, it IS getting

worse, but any medication I try just makes his fever spike. I

just don't think--"

 

Scully put a hand over his. "It's okay. I have a

feeling this virus is a bit... out of the ordinary." She

leaned back in her chair, squinting intently at the wall,

and appeared to be in deep thought.

 

 

Hospital

10:00 p.m.

Somewhere around ten o'clock, Doctor Andrews convinced

Scully to go back to the hotel. Mulder wouldn't be waking up

for quite a while-- after he passed out they had given him

a sedative to insure his rest, and give the medical staff a

break-- and Scully should get some sleep to be fresh for

tomorrow.

 

At ten-thirty, Doctor Andrews had finished his rounds

and was preparing to go home when he heard gut wrenching

screams coming from down the hall. He placed his briefcase

back on the desk and followed the sounds to Mulder's room.

But he could never have prepared himself for the scene he

was about to witness.

 

Mulder's legs were wrapped and twisted in the sheets.

His IV was once again dislodged and blood dripped from his

left arm, onto his hand and down his fingers. His head was

thrown back, features twisted in a grimace, his hair

damp from fear and fever.

 

"Scully," he mumbled. His head lolled around on the

pillow like it wasn't attached properly to his neck. "Scully.

Gotta find.... Joanna. Joanna and Katie." He groaned

loudly and took a deep rasping breath. "Joanna is.... the

key. She..." In his sleep, he whimpered then stopped. His

neck relaxed and his head dropped on a quite uncomfortable

angle to the side.

 

With a deep sigh, Doctor Andrews glanced at his patient

one last time, then left.

 

Hospital

8:13 a.m.

 

Mulder was surprised to see sunlight streaming through

his window when he opened his eyes. He thought it was night.

He narrowed his eyes trying to remember what happened last

night, but came up empty. He remembered that Scully was

talking about Katie, but then what? He was still trying to

come up with an answer when the morning nurse walked in.

 

"Morning, Agent Mulder," she said cheerfully and went

over to check his IV. Mulder looked at her confused.

 

"Morning?" he rasped, confused and surprised at the

sound of his voice. His throat was raw and felt like a bed

of cotton. His head hurt. But confusion rose over all of that.

 

"Yes, Agent Mulder. It's 8 a.m.," she said as she

took his wrist to check his pulse.

 

"8 a.m.? What happened last night?" Mulder sat up,

his head protesting the move. But he needed to get to

the bottom of this.

 

The nurse just smiled. "I'll get the doctor." She was

gone as soon as she said that.

 

Mulder just rubbed his head. He looked down and noticed

that his IV was in a different place. So, instead of one nice

little bruise, he had two. {When did that happen?} He

frowned and laid back. He felt like shit. He was just

to tired to think.

 

He was about to close his eyes when Dr. Andrews walked

into his room. He looked at Mulder carefully, eyeing him

seeming to expect the worst to happen. He took Mulder's

chart in his hands.

 

He opened the chart, glancing over it. He closed it

and looked at Mulder with his best professional look.

 

"How are you feeling?" he asked, even though he knew

the answer.

 

"Like shit. How are you?" Mulder deadpanned, then broke

into a series of coughs. Finally he looked up and asked,

with a serious look, "What happened last night?"

 

"You really want to know?" Dr. Andrews asked evenly.

Mulder nodded. "You stopped breathing. For a couple of

minutes. Then you passed out. It's not unusual for you

not to remember. Trust me, you wouldn't want to remember."

 

Mulder squinted and tried to recall that. "Why?"

 

The doctor didn't meet his eyes. "I don't know."

 

Motel

8:25 a.m.

 

Scully finished brushing her hair, setting the brush

on the dresser and glanced toward the open door between hers

and Mulder's rooms. Mulder's room was in the same condition

he left it in--tangled sheets, clothes on the floor, and his

suitcase sitting open in a corner. Scully thought and bundled

some of the clothes on the floor into her arms. She heard

her cell phone ringing from the other room, so she dumped

the clothes on Mulder's bed and went to answer it.

 

"Scully." Scully took the phone into Mulder's room.

 

"He's awake, Doctor Scully." Scully smiled at that.

She had asked Dr. Andrews to call her when Mulder awoke.

 

"Thanks, I'll be there soon," she said and pushed the

end button. She got Mulder's toothbrush from the bathroom,

along with his shaving cream. This was something she did

for him every time he was in the hospital. {Maybe one day}

she thought {I'll do it for the another reason.}

 

Hospital

9:07 a.m.

 

Mulder looked up at the ceiling and counted the ceiling

cracks for the hundredth time. Scully had taken away his case

files, he had noticed. Mulder still shuddered when he thought

of what Andrews told him about last night. He probably scared

the hell out of Scully, as well. he thought. He looked down

at his hand, itching to take his IV out. The tube under nose

was bothering him, and if not for the people were coming in

and out of his room, he would have taken it off a long time ago.

 

He glanced around the room. {Oh screw it} he thought

and he reached his hand up to his nose.

 

"Don't even think about it, Mulder."

 

Mulder looked at the door and saw his red-headed partner

with her eyebrows raised in a look that said 'do it and die.'

Mulder dropped his hand.

 

"I wasn't going to-"

 

"Yeah and I believe in little green men."

 

"_Gray_ men, Scully. How many times do I have to tell

you?" Mulder gave a mock sigh of frustration. He noticed a

Dunkin' Donuts bag in her hand.

 

"Ah, Scully. What did you bring me?" he said, staring

at the bag.

 

"Nice to see you're feeling better."

 

"Slightly," he answered and Scully's hand reached for

his forehead.

 

"You still have a fever," she said, frowning.

 

"Yeah, but it's not stopping me from eating what's in

that bag."

 

Scully sighed. "It's a bagel, Mulder. Just a bagel."

 

"Still better than the stuff they call food here."

 

Scully smiled, remembering the taste of hospital food.

"Are you sure you can keep it down?"

 

Mulder dropped his eyes down. "I'd better," he muttered.

 

Scully plopped down in the chair by the bed. "Seriously,

Mulder?" Mulder looked up at that word. "How do you feel?"

 

"Seriously?"

 

"Seriously."

 

"Well, my head hurts, my throat hurts, and my chest

hurts. It feels like someone had a boxing match with my

lungs." Mulder brought into a fit of coughing. "And won,"

he choked out when he finished.

 

"Well, they almost did, Mulder." Scully still felt

shaky about last night. Mulder had stopped breathing, for no

reason at all. It was something you didn't take lightly.

"I'm assuming Dr. Andrews told you about last night,"

she said quietly.

 

"Yeah."

 

Silence filled the room. Neither wanted to think of

that moment. Losing each other was just too much to even

think about.

 

"So, how about that bagel?" Mulder asked, smiled.

 

Scully tossed the bag at him, laughing.

 

The Martin's

Rutherford, NJ

9:26 a.m.

 

{We're not getting anywhere}

 

WHAT D'YA MEAN

 

{I mean.... we're not getting anywhere. We've got Agent

Mulder stuck in the hospital: so what. He's incapacitated but

that partner of his is still running around--}

 

I COULD TAKE CARE OF HER TOO IF YOU WANT

 

{No! Don't "take care" of anyone... and don't deprive

Mulder from oxygen ever again, that was horrible}

 

YOU WANTED IT

 

{I did not.}

 

YOU SAID INCAPACITATE HIM

 

Katie took a deep breath and held it, trying to hold

her patience along with it.

 

{Fine. But, still, we're not GETTING anywhere. I mean,

how long are the agents going to keep investigating my sister's

death before they give up and go home? Or, before they FIGURE

OUT that it was me. Or you. Whatever. And what if they never

give up and they never figure it out, and I have to go the

rest of my life hiding and taking answers from you?}

 

Joanna sounded hurt. WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH TAKING

ANSWERS FROM ME

 

{I didn't..... oh, c'mon, I didn't mean it that way. I

just meant, I didn't want to spend the rest of my life as....

as a criminal.}

 

 

Hospital

9:28 a.m.

 

The bagel didn't stay down. After a change of clothes

and a round of frustrated sobbing from Mulder, he now lay back

in bed, eyes staring lazily down at his chest, his brain

fogged with anti-nausea medication. Scully held his hand,

softly stroking the web between his thumb and forefinger

with her own small thumb.

 

"Agent Scully, may I have a word with you?"

 

"Mm?" She turned to see Andrews leaning in the doorway.

"Oh, sure."

 

Doctor Andrews held out Mulder's chart for her

inspection. When she finished reading it she looked up.

"He's dehydrated."

 

"Not only is he dehydrated, despite an IV line we

finally managed to keep established, his temperature is

remaining at a steady 102.5. He seems to be responding well

to Valium or anything else that temporarily puts him out of

discomfort, but once we try to control the virus, it rages

back, making his fever spike. So, I think we're going to

have to let him ride this one out, making him as comfortable

as possible, and see what happens."

 

Scully continued to stare down at the chart. "...see

what happens..." she repeated slowly, and swallowed hard.

 

 

Hospital

1:34 p.m.

 

"Smntha," he mumbled. Scully looked up. Mulder was

rolling around in bed, sheets tangled around his legs,

shuddering. She put a hand on his arm and felt the fever

rising from him.

 

"Smntha.... Scully! Don't..." He rolled over again

so his face was in the pillow, and rested there, still shaking.

 

{Me?? Well, at least he's not thinking about Joanna

anymore, that's a good thing. I have no idea what to do about

that...} She sighed but looked up when Mulder groaned loudly

in his sleep. {Nightmare.} she thought.

 

{{I'm twelve. Why am I twelve? I just am, right.

Right. Oh, no. Tonight is when... tonight is when they're

gonna take Sam. Oh, no, why do I have to do this again? Again--

when did I do it the first time? First time, second time,

third time.... Aaaaah! Sam!}} He began sobbing. {{Don't

take her, take me. I missed it.. I could've saved her but...

noooo. They're gonna get Scully next. Gotta go get Scully.

How do I skip to 1994 though? Oh, man, this is harder than I

thought... Duane Barry! There he is.... I gotta get that

bastard. I'm running... running... my feet are glued to the

ground. Damnit why are my feet always glued. What if I flew

instead of walking? Okay, I'm going to slip out of my shoes,

there, that worked, my shoes are still glued down but... oh,

I'm flying! There's Scully, I gotta get here...here I go,

swoop down, there's Duane Barry... who is he carrying? Why

is.... Scully? That's not Scully. That's... the Smoking Man.

Where is Scully? Where is...............}}

 

Mulder wouldn't stop shaking and it was starting to

scare her. "Mulder, c'mon, just a dream, c'mon, wake up, now.

Can you wake up for me, now? C'mon." Scully grasped his

shoulders and shook. "Wake up, Mulder."

 

 

The Martin's

Rutherford, NJ

1:40 p.m.

 

{What are you doing to him?}

 

"Katie, c'mon down. You've been in your room all day....

c'mon down, we'll go do something."

 

"No, later, mom," she said. {What are you DOING to

him? Are you hurting him?}

 

NO... Joanna said, and Katie thought she sounded scared.

HE'S JUST...DREAMING. HE'LL BE OKAY

 

{Bad dreams, Joanna?}

 

YES

 

{Can't you make them go away?}

 

NO.... I DIDN'T MAKE THEM. AND EVEN IF I DID MAKE THEM

I WOULDN'T BE ABLE TO TAKE THEM BACK... THESE ARE HIS OWN

DREAMS. I THINK HE'S BEEN HAVING THEM FOR A LONG TIME

 

{Oh.} Frustrated that she couldn't do anything, Katie

called down, "Mom, I'm coming."

 

WAIT.... WHERE ARE YOU...

 

Katie ignored the walls and ran downstairs. She had to

stop this.

 

"Mom?" Christina looked up and smiled.

 

"You're finally getting out of that room," she said

with a bit of relief. She picked up her purse. "So where

should we go?"

 

Katie took a deep breath. "I want to go to the

hospital, Mom. I need to talk with Agent Scully."

 

Hospital

2:03 p.m.

 

Scully sighed as she repositioned herself in the

uncomfortable chair. Mulder had finally settled down and

stopped thrashing about. She knew it was only temporary,

though. Mulder's nightmares always returned, and were

especially magnified when he was sick. She glanced at his

sleeping form. She wished there was something she could do.

Scully, herself, had had a few nightmares (more than she would

like) since her abduction. She never told Mulder about

them, so she couldn't scold him for not talking to her.

Scully closed her eyes in frustration. She just wanted

this case solved, but most of all, she wanted her partner well.

 

She knew he had stood by her own hospital bed many

times. She could pick out his voice. She knew the words

that her brother, Bill Jr., had said to him, blaming him for

her illness. For her pain. But the saddest thing was Mulder

believed that. She knew, still to this day, he believed that.

She sighed again. Nothing she could ever say could stop

him from blaming himself. {Maybe someday, Dana, you will get

the strength to say three words that will.}

 

"Agent Scully?" A voice shook Scully out of her

thoughts. She looked toward the doorway and saw Christina

Martin standing with Katie. Christina had her arms on Katie's

shoulders, as if she were protecting her from something.

 

"We're sorry to disturb you, but the doctor said you

were here." Christina looked to the bed. "How is he?"

 

"He's stable," Scully answered. She rubbed her weary

eyes.

 

"I can see you're tired, Agent Scully. We can come

back later." Christina steered Katie to the door.

 

"No, I'm fine," Scully said, and Christina stopped.

"Why are you here?"

 

Mrs. Martin looked at Katie, urging her. Finally Katie

spoke in a shaky voice, "I wanted to talk to you."

 

"Ok," Scully said, interested in what Katie had to say.

"I'm going to get a cup of what they call 'coffee' in the

cafeteria. We can talk there." Scully grabbed her cell

phone, and casting one long worry-filled glance at Mulder,

she walked out the door.

 

Hospital Cafeteria

2:18 p.m.

 

Scully placed her coffee on the table and faced Katie.

Katie glanced at her mom, giving her a look that said she wanted

to talk to Agent Scully alone. Mrs. Martin left saying she

would be back after she did her grocery shopping. Scully

watched Katie look at the walls worriedly, then smiled.

 

"You know, they do say the walls have ears," Katie said,

trying to joke, though Scully had a feeling she was serious.

Dead serious.

 

Scully waited as Katie hesitantly continued. "When

Sarah was playing the piano, all everyone would say was how

good she was, and how pretty she looked up there. My sister,

Sarah Martin, perfect in every way." Katie sighed.

 

DON'T TELL HER.

 

{I can if I want.}

 

YOU'LL REGRET IT. DON'T TELL HER.

 

{I am.}

 

SHE WON'T BELIEVE YOU.

 

{So what? At least I can tell someone.}

 

THIS ISN'T GOING TO WORK. KEEP QUIET.

 

Scully watched Katie look at the walls, as if she were

communicating with them.

 

"When Sarah was up there playing her piece," Katie

started, her voice shaking as she did. Tears welled up in

the corners of her eyes. "I was jealous. I wished she was

dead." The tears started falling down her cheeks, sobs

getting louder and louder. "I didn't mean for it to come

true."

 

Scully's heart went out for the girl. She dug into her

pocket and handed her a tissue. "It's not your fault," she

said, lifting Katie's chin up.

 

Katie shook her head. "No, you don't understand. It

_is_ my fault." She sobbed and then her head shot straight up.

 

NOW YOU DID IT. I CAN'T HELP YOU NOW.

 

Suddenly all the lights around Katie and Scully grew

dark.

 

Hospital Cafeteria

Rutherford, NJ

2:20 p.m.

 

"What the--?" Scully turned sharply around as the lights

flickered and dimmed to black. Katie's words still rang in

her ears: "No, you don't understand. It _is_ my fault." How

could it.... one thing at a time. Scully had just stood up,

prepared to find some technicians and get them to start up the

electricity (losing electricity in a hospital was an extremely

dangerous thing, most of the patients were hooked up to

various machines that needed to be running to keep them

stable), when the lights came back on. She breathed a

sigh of relief and sat down again. "Katie, I'm sorry, what

were you saying?"

 

"I was... I..." she was torn. "I said it IS my fault

that Sarah is dead. I wished she was dead and..."

 

"Katie," Scully said softly. "We know you didn't do it,

you were sitting down, far away from your sister as was

everyone else." Katie had begun to cry. Scully placed a

hand on her arm, awkwardly trying to comfort her. "It's okay.

Shh, it's okay, we know you didn't do it."

 

"But I DID!" Half of the occupants of the cafeteria

turned towards Katie. A wide-spread glare from Scully caused

them to turn back to their own conversations.

 

SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP. WHAT THE HELL DO YOU THINK

YOU'RE DOING?

 

{Taking charge.}

 

YOU? TAKE CHARGE? HA, THAT'S A GOOD ONE. KATIE,

YOU CAN'T DO ANYTHING BY YOURSELF! YOU WERE ALWAYS IN SARAH'S

SHADOW TILL I CAME ALONG. FACE IT-YOU'RE NOTHING WITHOUT ME

 

Katie was outraged. She pounded her fist on the

table. "Just go away! I don't need you and I never did! And

it wasn't me who killed Sarah, it wasn't me."

 

Scully, who had been speaking softly the whole time,

trying to get Katie's attention, was alarmed by her outburst

and silenced abruptly. "Katie, are you okay? Katie-- we know

you didn't kill her."

 

Katie ignored her. {Joanna? Hear that, SHE believes me.}

There was no answer. {Joanna? Hello?} No answer.

 

"Katie, are you okay?" Scully asked again.

 

She looked up and smiled. "Yeah."

 

 

 

Hospital

2:55 p.m.

 

After speaking to Katie and her mother for another few

minutes, Scully left them to go check on Mulder. He seemed to

be sleeping peacefully, so she decided to go back to the hotel

for a shower and a lunch/dinner type meal at the Village Gourmet.

It was almost four forty-five when she decided to go

back to the hospital to check on Mulder.

 

On her way down the sterile hallway to Mulder's room,

Doctor Andrews caught up with her.

 

"Doctor Scully," he said. "Have you been to see Mulder?"

 

Noting the concern in his voice, she frowned. "Not for a

couple hours, why?"

 

Andrews took a deep breath. "He's taken a turn for the

worse. Come with me."

 

When she entered Mulder's room, Scully immediately

noticed that the oxygen cannula had been replaced with a

respirator tube down his throat. She shook her head. "Mulder's

gonna have a hissy fit when he wakes up and feels that."

 

"It couldn't be helped, he stopped breathing for a

minute and a half. We still can't figure out what's causing it,

but this should make it so it won't happen again. I do

recommend that you're near by when he wakes up though, just

to keep him calm."

 

Scully nodded. "Did you give him anything to put him

out?"

 

Andrews shook his head and fingered Mulder's chart.

"Nope, he passed out again, like the last time. It wasn't

as bad this time... he stopped breathing for a minute and a

half, then he seemed fine and he was getting enough oxygen....

then about a minute after he recovered, he stopped breathing

again, just for 10 seconds, and passed out immediately after."

 

Scully had pulled up a chair to the side of his bed and

seated herself. "There's one more thing," Doctor Andrews

continued. "His fever's spiked. A little above 103, but it

was sudden enough to cause quite an uproar. The nurses gave

him a sponge bath which he slept through-- too bad, it probably

would've been quite an enjoyable experience for him-- and that

brought the temp down to 102.9, but not nearly enough as it

should've. I've got him on Saline to keep him hydrated, which

should help a little, but we're going to have to ride this out.

I'll get you a washcloth you can bath his face and

arms and chest in, that might help, but..... I'm just scared

to try any other medication. If the fever goes much higher,

he'll be on the point of convulsions, and we DON'T want to go

there."

 

Scully nodded silently. "All right," she said finally.

"Can you get me the washcloth please?" She stroked Mulder's

damp hair.

 

"Sure, I'll be right back."

 

Hospital

10:30 p.m.

 

Scully rubbed her tired eyes for what seemed the

hundred time. As she shifted positions in the still very

uncomfortable chair next to Mulder's bed, she sighed. She

glanced again at Mulder's still form, the sound of the

respirator echoing throughout her mind. Scully glanced at

her cell phone on her lap. She should call Skinner and let

him know what was up. She even considering calling Mulder's

mom. But she knew that woman won't exactly care. In fact,

she seemed to remind Scully a bit of Mrs. Wasserman. Scully

suddenly got a pang of sympathy for Joanna.

 

Scully grabbed her cell phone and stood up, and paced.

She paced Mulder's room, back and forth thinking. Her thoughts

wandered to the case, how Katie had reacted in the cafeteria,

crying then suddenly stopping. She wished that would be the

last she would hear about this case, but knew it probably

wasn't. Glancing back over at Mulder, she frowned. How

many times was he going to scare her? She sat back down in

her chair, her eyes watching the monitors that had been

added to the clutter of Mulder's room. Soon, she knew, they

would probably move him down to ICU. He probably would have

been there already, if not for the huge load the ICU already

had, due to an auto accident a few days ago.

 

Scully pulled her chair closer to Mulder and took his

hand. As she sat there she wondered if this was the way Mulder

felt when he was at her bedside. She knew he had held back

from her about his feelings, how he blamed himself for

her being in that hospital bed. It wasn't his fault.

It wasn't hers. Bad things just happen. They just do.

 

Scully looked at her cell phone again, thinking of how

many times she had been called on that phone, how many times

the voice on the other end told her to come down to the

hospital, Mulder's been hurt again. She often teased

Mulder on how times he had been to the hospital, though sadly,

deep inside, she was frightened. She was scared that one

of the times he wouldn't come home. {Please, God, not

this time} she thought, looking out the window.

 

She understood. She was not afraid of dying. Not

since her abduction. As she had told Mulder she was sure

of one thing in this life: there was nothing to fear when

it's over. But she hoped it would be years from then, it fact,

more than 3 years had passed from that night, and in that

time, they had faced other dangers. Mulder faced his demons;

she had faced her cancer. But she had overcome her cancer

(at least for now), but she knew Mulder was far from

overcoming his demons.

 

But those thoughts aside, Scully knew what she was most

afraid of. That he faced death before she had a chance to

tell him she really cared. To tell him she loved him. She

felt a tear roll down her check. {Face it Dana, you do.}

 

Scully's cell phone rang and brought her back to earth.

She rubbed her eyes and flipped open her phone.

 

"Scully."

 

Only silence followed.

 

"Damn hangups."

 

Scully listened to the dial tone that followed, suddenly

getting a huge urge to call her mother. She finally hit the

end button, not wanting to burden her mother with her rambling.

Though she was supposed to have dinner at her house in two

days, her mother knew that may change because of the case she

was assigned. Scully sighed again. Her blue eyes strayed

again to the bed, but the sight brought a small smile to her

lips.

 

She saw Mulder's fingers move and leaned closer to him,

entwining her fingers in his. She saw his eyelids

flutter.

 

"Mulder," she said softly.

 

Mulder opened his eyes. The first thing he saw was the

blob of red above his face. He felt Scully's fingers around his.

But he also felt the tube down his throat, and hated it. He

instinctively gagged.

 

"Whoah, Mulder. I know you don't like it, but don't

fight it." Scully's voice was gentle, caring. Mulder

understood what she was saying, but he still didn't like it.

He gagged again.

 

"Mulder, let it do the work. Just relax, and then I'll

get the doctor." She had a worried look on her face, but it

seemed to be combined with a small smile. Seeing her smile

made him relax a little. He stopped gagging. Just as long

as he could see Scully he'd be fine.

 

Scully knew that too. She leaned over the bed and

pressed the nurses call button A minute later, a petite brown-

haired nurse walked into Mulder's room.

 

Scully looked at her name tag. Peggy.

 

"Peggy, could you tell Doctor Andrews that Agent Mulder's

awake?"

 

"Sure, Dr. Scully," Peggy replied, then left the room

with the message.

 

Scully turned away from Mulder and toward the door. As

soon as she looked away, Mulder started gagging again. Scully

immediately turned back and calmed him. She stroked his cheek

and whispered, "it's okay, just relax."

 

And that's how Dr. Andrews found her. Sitting on the

edge of Mulder's bed, stroking his cheek and whispering.

 

"Ahem."

 

Scully looked and saw Dr. Andrews looking at them. He

held Mulder's chart in his hand. Scully blushed and got off

of the bed. Mulder's eyes followed hers and as soon as she

stood away from him, he started gagging again.

 

"Mulder, don't fight it," she said softly again, then

turned to the doctor. "How much longer does he stay on the

respirator?" Mulder looked up at her, pleading when she asked

that question.

 

Dr. Andrews looked down at his chart, and tapped his

pen. "I think we can remove it now, but another episode and

he's," He paused and looked directly at Mulder on the bed,

"Back on it for awhile longer."

 

Fifteen minutes later, Scully was back at her place at

the edge of Mulder's bed. Mulder had put up a fight when doctor

insisted he stayed on oxygen, but other than that, Mulder

seemed to be on good behavior. His temperature was

down to 101.9.

 

"I really hate this thing," Mulder said, his voice

horse and low, and pointed to the oxygen cannula under his

nose.

 

"Well, we could just go back to the respirator," Scully

teased.

 

"Well, it's not that bad," Mulder said quickly. He

looked up her. He still felt like crap. His head hurt, his

throat hurt, and for once he didn't want to even think about

food, but he noticed the circles under Scully's eyes.

 

"You need some sleep," he said, his eyes concerned.

 

Scully smiled. "I'm fine," she started, but seeing his

eyes she continued, "But I'm going to go back to the motel soon,

I promise."

 

"Good." For a minute they just stared at each other,

not speaking. Their eyes seemed to read each other's, though

neither spoke outloud. Finally Mulder looked down at his IV.

 

"So how's the case?" he said.

 

"Still there. Still unsolved." Scully got up and

went the window sill and got the folder off of it. "This is

going with me."

 

"Anything happen?"

 

"Katie came to talk to me," Scully said suddenly.

 

"She did?" Mulder lifted his head off the pillow,

interested. Scully just walked over and pushed his head back

down.

 

"Yes. But nothing big happened. I took her down to the

cafeteria and she broke down, saying she was responsible for

Sarah's death."

 

"She did?" Mulder's voice perked up, causing him to

twinge.

 

"You should rest your vocal cords, Mulder. Yes, but it

was just hysterics. She was just guiltstricken. She said she

wished her sister dead." Mulder eyes peaked up again at

that one. Scully sighed.

 

"Mulder, I've thought the same thing about any of my

siblings many times during my childhood. It's natural. It

just happened at a bad time."

 

"But, Scully-"

 

Scully cut him off. "You need your rest, Mulder. I'm

going to get mine. We'll talk tomorrow." She pulled the covers

around him tighter. Only then did Mulder realize how tired he

was. He felt his eyes start to close.

 

"'Night Mulder," she said softly.

 

"'Night Scully," he whispered back.

 

Hospital

11:21 a.m.

 

"Allografts may be rejected through either a cell-

mediated or a humoral immune reaction of the recipient against

transplantation (histocompatibility) antigens present on the

donor's cell membranes. The stronger antigens--"

 

"Scully." Mulder's voice from the bed sounded horrible,

rusty and cracked.

 

"Mm?" She looked up from the book. "Oh sorry, I thought

you were asleep."

 

"If you thought I was asleep why were you reading that

crap to me?" He coughed weakly.

 

"Actually, it's quite interesting. I picked it up from

the doctor's lounge. Besides, you didn't seem to mind."

 

"I was asleep," Mulder said flatly.

 

"Then go back to sleep! ....They are the chief

transplantation antigents presently detectable in man.

Because transplantations..."

 

Mulder groaned loudly and rolled over, not really

caring whether he dislodged the IV or other contraptions he

was hooked up to.

 

Scully stopped dictating. "Mulder, can I talk to you

about something serious?"

 

Without turning to face her, he grunted in response.

"All right, but I'm not promising to return the interesting

conversation."

 

She rubbed his arm. "That's okay. Roll over and look

at me, though, so I can make sure you're awake and listening,"

Scully joked. Truthfully, she wanted to keep an eye on his

condition. The doctors had been exuberant when his fever had

broke last night, but now it hung at a steady 101.9, not bad,

but the rest of his symptoms persisted, making him miserable.

If he could only...

 

"Scully?"

 

"Hm?" She broke out of her reverie.

 

"What are you doing?"

 

"Nothing. Kay, I want to talk to you about this case.

I think you were right when you said Joanna is the _key_.

She... I don't know how to explain it. I just... well, when

Katie was talking, I started thinking about Joanna for some

reason. I'm going to go back to the crime lab and talk to the

guy that works there. When I was last there, he said that he

had taken a certain interest in Joanna's death and I think he

might be able to tell us more about it. He seemed very eager

to help."

 

"Makin' friends everywhere we go, huh Scully? Okay,

then, you can go."

 

"Oh, how kind of you to release me from your strong

hold, Sir Mulder. Actually, the crime lab's closed on Sundays

so I'll have to wait till tomorrow."

 

"Okay." Mulder coughed a few times and she could tell

he still felt really bad. He stared off in the direction of

the window, not really admiring the scenery, just gazing

blankly.

 

"Hey," Scully put her hand over his and squeezed it to

get his attention. His eyes slowly focused and floated over to

her face. "You doing okay? I can leave and let you rest--"

 

"No!" Mulder said too quickly. "Uh, no, please stay.

I don't need to rest."

 

She smiled. "I wouldn't be so sure about that, you were

about to drift off a minute ago. How about I go in search of

some... more appropriate reading material and then we'll have

a reading date."

 

He nodded slowly and she smiled, squeezed his hand one

more time and left the room.

 

When she returned, five minutes later, with a dog-eared

copy of Alice in Wonderland in her hand, Mulder was fast

asleep.

 

 

 

In the car

Rutherford, NJ

2:45 p.m.

 

"He wants to _what_??" Scully demanded? She leaned the

cell phone against her shoulder and, using both hands, pushed

down on the horn. "Hurry it up, buddy," she yelled to the

snail driver in front of her, knowing very well he couldn't

hear her.

 

"He wants to leave, Doctor Scully. And frankly, I'm

thinking that wouldn't be such a bad idea."

 

Scully frowned and, lacking nothing better to do,

honked the car horn again. "Does that mean he's doing better?"

 

"Well, no, not really," Doctor Andrews admitted. "He

woke up soon after you left, complaining of a splitting

headache. All the nurses were on lunch break except one,

a nurse in training, Beverly Conners, a scared little thing

whose not allowed to give out medication, yet. Mulder wasn't

in the best of moods and when she denied him his drugs he

had a fit and ripped out the IVs. Beverly tried her best to

calm him down but she finally gave up and ran to the lunch

room, trying to find a doctor to help out. By the time she

found me and we made our way upstairs, Mulder was passed out

in the visitors chair... the same one we found him in last

time, by the way. When we tried to move him, he came to

and began thrashing around. Now nobody'll go near him....

look, Doctor Scully, I'll be frank with you."

 

Scully, nervous about Mulder and frustrated with the

slow traffic said, "Hi, Frank, I'm Dana."

 

"Uh, right." Andrews cleared his throat. "Scully,

there was an airplane crash nearby."

 

"I know, I heard about that, isn't it terrible? First

that big car crash, then the airplane..."

 

"We're almost out of beds. This is a small town hospital,

NOT meant for big accidents like this... and, Scully, I don't

know what to do about your partner. He's not getting any

better and, truthfully, he's more trouble than he's worth."

 

"Don't say that," she said slowly. "All right. All

right, look, as soon as I get out of this traffic jam I'll

stop by the hospital and pick him up. Can you have him

ready and dressed?"

 

"I'm not sure if we can get him to..."

 

"Believe me, tell him he's going home and he'll do

_anything_."

 

Andrews smiled. "Okay, uh, one more thing. Mulder is

still dehydrated and yanking out his IV did nothing to help

that. I don't think an IV will be good to handle but you

should be able to get some fluids into him, well, I know

you'll be able to get them into him, it's whether or not he'll

keep them down is the question. I'll give you plenty of

Compazine, though and you can shoot him full of that... you

know what? I'll go now and get you a large assortment of

drugs and you can have fun with those. And just come back

if you need more. Think it'll be okay?"

 

Scully didn't realize why she hadn't thought of it

sooner. The hospital really wasn't doing much to help Mulder

get better, any medicines they tried to stop the virus just

made it worse, and she could take just as good care of

him... oh, she remembered. When he was at the hospital, he

was out of her hair. Thinking back, he'd actually given the

hospital staff minimum amount of trouble... well, until now

that was.

 

"Yes, Doctor Andrews, that'll be fine. Looks like the

traffic is getting better, I should be there in about ten--

fifteen minutes, at the most."

 

"Great," Andrews sounded relieved. "And, Doctor

Scully?"

 

"Mm?"

 

"Please bring him back if it starts getting serious.

I wouldn't want to be responsible for anything..."

 

"I know. I'll see you in a few minutes." She pressed

the off button.

 

 

Hospital

Rutherford, NJ

3:15 p.m.

When Scully entered the room, Mulder was sitting in

the visitor's chair, facing the full-length windows on the

other side of the room. His knees were pulled up to his chest

and his sneakered feet rested on the ledge of the chair,

almost falling off. As she stepped closer, she could see

he was indeed dressed, wearing jeans and an Oxford sweatshirt,

and his bag was packed (probably by Doctor Andrews) and

squatting next to him.

 

"Mulder," she said softly. He didn't move. Scully put

a hand on his shoulder. "Hey, whatcha doing?"

 

Ever so slowly, he twisted around in the chair so he

faced his partner. Scully frowned at the sight of his face;

his forehead was scrunched in obvious pain, and the fever

splotches on his pale features were back from when he had

been going through the worst of the fever. She raised a

hand to his forehead and he swatted it away before she could

make contact. Even so, she could feel the heat emanating,

even from a few inches away.

 

Pushing aside her worry, she straightened, picked up

his bag and stood. "Ready?" She reached out a hand to pull

him up and, surprisingly, he took it, using her full help

to get him vertical.

 

"I already signed him out for you," Doctor Andrews

said from the door. Scully turned.

 

"Oh, thank you." To Mulder, she said, "C'mon, let's

get you home." He was starting to sway on his feet and she

quickly wrapped an arm around his waist, and escorted him

briskly down the stairs and out to the car. She let go of

him for a minute to open the back door. "In here. You can

stretch your legs out and get some rest since it looks as

if you've been deprived of it for the last few hours."

 

He shook his head very slightly, even so, grimacing at

the pain.

 

"Why not, Mulder. You _need_ rest--"

 

"No," he said. He coughed a little, wincing again.

In explanation his rubbed his stomach. "Nauseous."

 

"Ohh, okay, sit in the front, it'll be better. When we

get to the motel, I've got some Compazine for you."

 

He nodded his thanks and slipped into the front seat.

Scully got into the driver's seat, stuck the key in the

ignition and drove off. Luckily, the traffic had all disappeared

by this time and she got to the motel in relatively no time.

She pulled into a parking space close to their rooms and looked

over at Mulder. He had his eyes scrunched tightly closed but

when he caught her staring they flew open.

 

"What?" Mulder demanded hoarsely.

 

"Are you sure you're okay?"

 

"They seemed to think so." He opened the door and got

out. Scully was right on his heels, opening the motel door

for him, leading him to sit on the bed, pushing him down so

he was lying on the bed in the middle of the day, fully

dressed including shoes and his jacket.

 

She perched on the corner of his bed next to him.

"I thought you _wanted_ to get out. You wouldn't cooperate

with anyone, you got yourself expelled," she joked.

 

He sighed, and the deep breath made him cough. "Yeah,

I guess you're right. I just feel so..."

 

Scully moved closer and stroked his hair. "Feel what?

What can I do?"

 

"I don't know. Just bad. I'm gonna go to sleep now,"

he said and closed his eyes.

 

Scully watched in amazement as his breathing evened out

in less than half a minute. "Mulder?" she whispered. He

didn't respond. Scully sighed and worked to gingerly pull

off his shoes and jacket, trying not to wake him. She didn't

have to try very hard, he was dead to the world. She sat for

a few minutes, studying his pain streaked face, then ran a

hand through his hair, feeling how soft it was even soaked

in sweat. She frowned, remembering she hadn't gotten to take

his temperature. Going over to her medical bag, she found

her ear thermometer and carefully took his temperature.

 

"Oh, shit," she said simply and dropped into the arm

chair across the room. {Nobody in their right mind takes their

partner _out_ of the hospital with a hundred four fever.

They put them _in_.} She sighed loudly again, then put

the thermometer away and went into the bathroom. She splashed

water as cold as she could get it on her face and stared in the

mirror. {You're not _thinking_, Dana. You've only got your

mind on the case, and you need to be thinking about immediate

problems. Like Mulder. Well, he _is_ sleeping, so that

doesn't exactly qualify as _immediate_.} Scully looked back

at Mulder one last time then went to her room, dropped on the

bed and turned on HBO.

 

 

Motel

10:34 p.m.

Scully was still lying on her bed, vegging out on the

HBO when a gut wrenching scream caused her to nearly jump

through the cheap motel ceiling.

 

{Mulder} She ran out of her room. The light was still

on in his room so she saw right away her partner, lying on

the floor, tangled in blankets and sheets, screaming his head

off.

 

"Mulder, Mulder, Mulder, shhhhh...." She had gathered

her partner up in her arms and was rocking him back and forth.

He was sitting up and crying and rocking with her but he didn't

seem to be aware or even awake. He seemed even hotter than he

had been before, and Scully was becoming seriously alarmed. He

eased her mind somewhat when he sat up on his own and groaned

loudly.

 

Two fists came up and sluggishly rubbed at his tear

streaked face. Then he sat, slouched over in exhaustion, and

stared, blinking owlishly at Scully until she half helped,

half lifted him up and dropped him on the bed. When he was

more or less resting comfortably, she went into the bathroom

and came backwith a cup of water for him. He managed to get

half of it in him, half of it on him (the usual percentage)

but after half a glass he pushed it away

violently.

 

"Mulder, you need to--"

 

"Remember Mrs. Paddock?" As an afterthought he mumbled,

"I'm gonna be sick."

 

She took a deep breath, then realized he'd probably be

okay if he sat still for a minute, he had just had too much

water too fast. "Here," she said and gently pushed his head

between his knees. He stayed in that position for several

minutes, Scully with her hand on the back of his neck, ready

to help if he needed it. After a while, he fell back on the

bed and closed his eyes.

 

"I'm okay," he said. He was shivering now. "Cold,"

he muttered and tried to slip under the blankets.

 

"No, you need to let off body heat. Mulder... Mulder,

c'mon listen to me. You need to..." It was too late. He had

coocooned himself in the thin motel room blankets and was

breathing evenly again.

 

{Mrs. Paddock?} Scully thought, confused.

 

Mulder stirred a bit as Scully turned the lights out.

{Mrs. Paddock?} she thought again. {Why would Mulder remember

that case?} She sighed, and brushed the thought off as a

fever dream. She glanced over at her thermometer, which sat

on the small table next to Mulder's bed. She was tempted to

take his temperature again, but didn't want to disturb him.

{Besides,} she thought, rubbing her eyes {It's been a long

day.} She yawned and headed back to her room and turned the

TV off.

 

She glanced over at the door that connected both of

their rooms. It was open, just as she had left it, and she

could hear Mulder's slightly uneven breathing from the next

room. She sighed, knowing she couldn't do anything else,

flipped off her light and went to sleep.

 

Motel

8:33 a.m.

 

Scully smiled as she looked in the reflection in the

mirror. She still looked tired, but she managed a decent

night's sleep last night. She could only hope that Mulder

had too. She peered in the door for the first time that

morning and sighed loudly at what she saw.

 

Mulder was asleep, in a half sitting position, his head

slumped back on the headboard. His glasses lay next his pillow,

discarded without care. Joanna's files were sprawled in

his lap, scattered in a million different directions. Taking

him out of the hospital was beginning to sound like a very bad

idea. {Of course,} she reminded herself, {It really wasn't an

_idea_, it was more of an _order_.} Scully sighed again

and walked toward Mulder.

 

He did look a little better, she had to admit. His

cheeks were a little less red. She shoved some folders

off the bed, not caring if they landed on the floor. She'd

pick them up later.

 

"Mulder." She shook him lightly and he groaned. She

reached for the thermometer and placed it in his ear. He

groaned again, but didn't open his eyes. The thermometer

beeped.

 

102.5. Down from last night's 104. That was something

to be happy about. But she was going to give Mulder one hell

of a lecture about getting up for 'late night studying.'

 

Mulder chose that moment to grace her with his hazel

eyes. They searched the room and landed on her.

 

"Morning," she said softly and reached for a folder.

She held in up in front of him, not saying a word.

 

Mulder swallowed and looked at her sheepishly. "I had

an idea, and...." His voice was soft, hardly above a whisper.

He swallowed again and grimaced. "I'm sorry, Scully." He

looked up at her, his eyes shining from the fever. Scully

sighed. {How does he do that?} she thought.

 

She brushed some hair off his forehead. "It's okay."

She got up from the bed. "I want you to take these." She

handed him two aspirin and then got him some water. She stood

there and watched him swallow.

 

"What's the matter, Scully? Don't trust me?" he croaked,

with a small smile.

 

"Not when it comes to taking medication," she replied

lightly and sat back down on the bed. "Mulder, I want you to

get some rest. I'm going to the crime lab to talk with

someone. I'll be back in a bit." She scooped up the remaining

papers on the bed and bent down to pick up the ones on the

floor. She got up and smiled. "These," she said, pointing

to the files, "are coming with me."

 

"Scully-"

 

"Sleep, Mulder. You need it. And I'm sure you don't

want to listen to another lecture." She started to push him

back down. "And I don't want to have to bring you back to the

hospital." Her voice was low on that last line. He knew what

she meant. She didn't want any more scares. He nodded and

laid down. She started to walk to the door.

 

"Scully?"

 

She turned and looked at him. "What?"

 

"What if Joanna's death wasn't an accident? Just like

Shannon Ausbury. Her death was no accident."

 

{Back to that case, again.} "We don't know that,

Mulder."

 

"Mrs. Paddock was responsible. You know that."

 

"Mulder," Scully began. Mulder just rolled over and

closed his eyes.

 

"Fine, Scully. Go talk to that guy at the crime lab."

 

Scully frowned and cast one last glance at Mulder before

walking out.

 

Crime Lab

9:46 a.m.

 

"Joanna's death was a shock to the community. In

Rutherford you don't get too many hit-and-runs. People were

appalled that someone would run down a child and flee the

scene, no matter how much trouble the child caused. We're

a small community, Agent Scully. Very close to each other.

Everyone knows everyone else here," said Sean Matthews,

shaking his head. "Even though Joanna wasn't an angel, I,

myself, and I know quite a few others were very suspicious

of her death. Her parents didn't shed one tear. Even when

the police called them. Of course, feelings aren't part of

an investigation, so the parents weren't suspects."

 

Scully nodded, remembering her short conversation with

Mrs. Wasserman. "I talked to Mrs. Wasserman. She was less

than friendly," Scully said, carefully, hoping to get some

more insight into Joanna's death without taking a side.

At least not yet. Matthews nodded and Scully continued.

"The parent were checked though?"

 

Matthews nodded. "Yep. To rule out the possible angle

of, well, parents paying someone to do it."

 

"Paying someone to do it?" Suddenly this case was going

beyond the death of Sarah Martin. There seemed to be no

logical connection between Joanna and Katie. Scully was

getting more confused by the minute. {Talk about an X-

File.}

 

"Yeah. People around town were saying that the

Wassermans knocked her off. Got rid of her. I don't know if

that's true, people around here can go overboard, believe me,

but those parents were strange. A full autopsy was done, as

you read in those files, we even did some bloodwork, at the

request of the parents. Looked at that myself. Normal."

 

"The request of the parents?" Now Scully was getting a

little suspicious herself.

 

"Yeah, they were real nervous about it. When I told

them it was clear, they looked relieved, almost as if they

thought something was going to be there."

Motel

11:13 a.m.

 

Scully clutched the files, along with a bag full of

juice she hoped she could get Mulder to drink. {Hoping and

getting are two different things} Scully thought as she opened

her motel door. She entered her room, glad to see the

maid had respected the "no maid service" sign she had left

on the door before leaving that morning. Scully placed the

files on the dresser.

 

"Mulder," she said softly as she opened the door to

Mulder's room, juice in hand. She sighed loudly (God,

she seemed to be doing that a lot) when she saw Mulder sitting

up in bed, glasses on, and struggling to keep his eyes open.

Scully's laptop sat on his lap, and she could see he was

logged into the Bureau. {Damn you Mulder} Scully thought

as she walked in and set the juice on the dresser.

 

"Ahem."

 

Mulder blinked his eyes and grimaced, then looked up

at Scully. She stood there, her eyebrows raised in the look

she had done to a science. Mulder raised a hand to his head,

and rubbed his temples.

 

"I was bored and-" he started, but Scully caught him

off.

 

"I don't want to hear it, Mulder." Scully walked over

to the wall and pulled both the computer's plug and phone

cord out. She then put them on Mulder's

lap.

 

"Sorry," he muttered, letting his hands fall to his

sides. Scully took the laptop off of his lap and put it down

on the floor. She then sat at the edge of his bed, took his

glasses off, and placed them on the nightstand.

 

"Do you understand the word rest, or do I have to define

it for you?" Scully asked, her eyebrow still raised.

 

"Rest isn't my favorite word, Scully," he muttered,

and brought into a coughing fit. Scully walked into the

bathroom and returned with a glass of water. Mulder's

coughing fit subsided and she handed him the glass of water.

He drank the whole thing without comment, but ending up

coughing again and spilling half of it.

 

"Don't drink it so fast," Scully warned. She reached

for her thermometer again and before Mulder could protest,

stuck in his ear. Mulder was too busy getting over his

coughing to notice, anyway.

 

"102," she said aloud. "Down half a degree." Mulder

regained his composure and smiled.

 

"See? I did rest a little while." But his smile soon

faded as the coughing started up again.

 

Scully pushed him down gently, until his head rested

on the pillow. "Not enough, evidently."

 

"How was the crime lab?" he asked, changing the

subject.

 

"Oh no, Mulder. I don't talk until you get some more

rest." Scully looked dead serious. Mulder knew not to

press. He had her mad enough already. And he knew that

having Scully pissed off wasn't a good thing. So he closed

his eyes, surprised at how tired he was. He didn't realize

how he had been fighting to stay awake until now.

 

"Good," he heard Scully say and felt her hands on his

forehead. Inwardly he smiled and fell asleep with Scully

sitting next to him.

 

Motel

Rutherford, NJ

12:35 p.m.

 

With nothing better to do and wanting to keep a close

eye on Mulder, Scully spent the rest of the day in the motel.

Mulder slept for a large portion of the day-- he woke up around

four and she managed to get some water in him before he

started begging her for the files. When she refused, he had

given one last weak protest, then shrugged and gone back to

sleep. Scully had gotten into pajamas at around ten and read

a little, then turned off the light and lay, staring at the

cracks in the ceiling, trying to fall asleep. But she

just wasn't tired; she hadn't really _done_ anything all

day, and she had too much energy to fall asleep.

 

Scully had counted only sixty-five sheep when the

conjoining door between her and Mulder's room bust open.

Her disheveled partner moved quickly into the room,

tripping a few times over his own feet.

 

"Mulder--"

 

"Scully, we're going to Texas."

 

"Excuse me??" Scully had flipped on the light switch

and was studying her partner. Deciding him to be hallucinogenic, she reached a hand up to his

forehead. He swatted it away and stared at her, his eyes

intense, but the fever glaze was still painfully present.

 

"Texas, Scully. Texas. Wassermans...... you need to...."

He was having trouble putting together a complete sentence.

 

Scully put a gentle hand on his arm. "Mulder, did you

have a bad dream?"

 

"No! No, I... well, yeah, but that's not what told me

to.... well, sorta, but..."

 

"Why don't you go back to sleep, and we'll talk about it

in the morning?"

 

"No! I'm not... " He made a noise close to whimpering,

frustrated. "I slept all _day_, Scully. I wanna work now,

you said I could."

 

"I didn't say you could start working at midnight!"

 

He studied her, suddenly realizing something. "Why are

_you_ up? It's late."

 

She sighed. "I couldn't sleep." She studied him, his

face flushed, eyes glazed. "I somehow think _you_ could

though. Go back to your room."

 

"No... I wanna work now." Mulder crossed his arms in

front of his chest and sat down on the corner of her bed,

apparently not planning to move willingly for the next few

hours or until Scully gave in.

 

"No," Scully said. "No way, no how. We are not going

to Texas until we seriously discuss this, AND discuss this

with _Skinner_. Remember? Our _boss_? And, frankly, Mulder,

you're not proving to me at all that you're fit to start

working. And I definitely don't want to take you on a plane to

Texas and have you collapse on me. You need to rest up--"

 

That's where Mulder broke. "I _did_! I've been

listening to you... I slept all day for crying out loud!"

 

"You needed it," Scully said, trying to keep her calm.

 

"I didn't... I...." Mulder was breathing heavily,

on the verge of hyperventilating in his frustration.

"Fine. I don't have to listen to you. There's no reason

I _should_ listen to you. I--" He was gasping for breath.

"I'm going now. I'm gonna go now. I'm.... yeah." He stood

up, sweat streaming down his face, swayed a little before

stumbling out the door and into the parking lot.

 

"Mulder!!" Scully jumped up and began running towards

him but a blast of cold air from the door stopped her in her

tracks. She was only wearing pajamas and chasing after Mulder

-- especially when he had the car and she was on foot-- was not

a smart idea. She stood in the doorway, watching helplessly

as the rental car pulled out of the motel parking lot, two

sharp headlights in the still winter air, moving jerkily as

its fever-impulsed driver struggled to concentrate enough in

his exhaustion to keep the car straight and moving.

 

Scully shivered and pulled the door closed. She stared

down at her bare toes, digging, infuriated, into the thin

motel carpet. "Shit," she whispered. "Great Dana, what're you

gonna do now??" {Call Skinner} her reasonable mind was telling

her. {And wake him at this hour and tell him that his agent

is on a careless, mad... _journey_ to Texas with a--} jeez

she didn't even know his temperature. But, it was her

responsibility to take care of Mulder and allowing him

to go on such a mad hunt was her problem now.

 

"Skinner."

 

"Uh, sir, I'm sorry to wake you..."

 

He sighed. "No, I wasn't sleeping."

 

{Looks like I wasn't the only one having a problem with

that.} "Oh, well, uh, I don't know how to say this..."

 

"What'd Mulder do, Scully?"

 

Scully smiled a little then turned serious. "Well,

he was very cooperative today, he slept all day, in fact."

 

"Scully, is there something you're not telling me?"

 

"Um, no, sir, why?"

 

There was a long pause. "What's wrong, Scully?"

 

{Oh, damn, we haven't been keeping him updated...

at all!} She briefly wondered why they hadn't been

reprimanded before.

 

"Well, it's a long story, sir and it ends up with Mulder

driving off into the sunset with our _only_ car and a 103

fever."

 

"One oh three?"

 

"... an estimate. It was 102 earlier today but it

definitely looks like it's gone up."

 

"Not that I don't trust your doctor's judgment, but

one oh three is a bit high. And I thought he was in the

hospital?"

 

"Oh, it was higher and he's out. Before. Uh... let's

not get into that. Anyway, he stole the car and he's going to

Texas. Well, I think he's going to Texas."

 

"Texas? Jesus, Scully it's one in the morning, what's

the matter with him??"

 

"Like I said, sir, he's got a hundred three temperature.

Oh... and he's royally pissed at his partner."

 

"You," Skinner said. "Okay, Scully, this is against

all my best judgment, but I'm giving you permission to

_follow_ your reckless partner on his wild goose hunt."

 

"NOW, sir?" Scully had been hoping to leave in the

morning. Even though she knew she'd have trouble falling

asleep, she was in no mood to go chase Mulder.

 

"Well, I'd recommend it. Pack up your stuff and go as

soon as you can. By the way, did Mulder bring _anything_

with him?"

 

"Uh, to the best of my knowledge, no."

 

Skinner mumbled something that sounded like, "This

keeps getting better and better." and swore under his

breath. "All right, go ahead Scully. Keep me informed

please.... I don't think I'll be sleeping tonight anyway."

 

"Okay, thank you sir, I'll call you later." She hung

up and hurried to pack up her bag and Mulder's.

 

 

 

Airport

New Jersey

1:26 a.m.

 

"A plane to Texas... one oh five in the morning. Are

you crazy?"

 

The young lady behind the counter frowned at the crazed

FBI agent before her. "Uh, no ma'am. Just convenient."

 

"Convenient my ass," Scully muttered. "All right,

uh...." She took a deep breath and regained her composure.

"Tell me this. That one oh five plane, was there a man on

it, about thirty seven years old, six feet, brown hair,

hazel eyes, not quite sane?"

 

"Yes!" The lady smiled. "He bought a ticket _right_

before take-off and had to run to catch the plane."

 

Scully took a deep breath and let it out in three slow

intervals. "When's the next plane to Dallas?"

 

"Um, not till the morning."

 

"Shit. Fine, I want a ticket for that."

 

"Uh, it's sold out."

 

"Jesus, I'm an FBI agent, you can't find a single

seat? In the BACK?"

 

"Oh, you're an FBI agent. Why didn't you say anything??

Sure, we can find you a seat in the back!" She said too

cheerfully.

 

"I did say something," Scully said through clenched

teeth. "I want that flight. What time is it?"

 

"One thirty."

 

"Not now, what time is it. What time does the flight

leave?!"

 

"Oh, uh, nine thirty."

 

Scully bit back the urge to start having a hissy fit

on the filthy airport floor. "All right, I want one of those."

 

"'K, you got it, miss. Here ya go." She printed out

one ticket and handed it to Scully.

 

"Thank you," Scully said, not sounding very thankful

at all. She walked brusquely away.

 

"Sheesh," the lady behind the counter said.

 

 

Texas Airport

3:30 p.m.

 

The flight had been late and then they'd hit turbulence.

Scully was pissed off at the plane, but at least she'd managed

to get enough sleep last night after all the commotion and

all. She'd only gotten a few hours, but when she woke up,

she'd found herself fresh and prepared to kick her partner's

ass back to New Jersey once she found him.

 

Unfortunately, her high disappeared as soon as she

discovered just how many hotels there were in Dallas that

Mulder could be staying with. _If_ he'd had the sense to

find a hotel. It was possible he'd just gone straight to the

Wasserman's. After a moment of thinking, Scully decided he'd

probably gone straight to the Wasserman's.

 

"Mrs. Wasserman, it's me again, Agent Scully."

 

"Oh. Yes?" She was decidedly more pleasant than the

last time Scully had spoken with her.

 

"Yes, uh, I was wondering, has my partner, Mulder.. uh,

Agent Mulder, come to you?"

 

"Yes, why?"

 

Scully felt like spilling her story about Mulder

abandoning her but decided against it. Mrs. Wasserman might

be nicer than the last time they had talked, but she still

wasn't Scully's favorite person on the planet. "Do you happen

to know where he's staying?"

 

"No, but he did leave us a number."

 

{Then he DID check into a hotel!} "Would you mind

telling me that number?" After a slight hesitation she added,

"Please."

 

"No, not at all." The words were music to Scully's ears.

"Five five five five three eight nine."

 

"Thank you very much Mrs. Wasserman," she said. She

then added, "Maybe we'll talk later today." And hung up before

Mrs. Wasserman could protest.

 

Scully stared at the phone in her hand. She was going

to _kill_ Mulder at this moment. She punched in the number

that Mrs. Wasserman had given her.

 

"Hello. Holiday Inn. How may I help you?" a

cheerful voice chimed after one ring.

 

{Holiday Inn? Well, at least you picked a decent

hotel Mulder. I'd like to see you write that on the expense

report} Scully thought.

 

"I'm looking for a Fox Mulder. I believe he

checked here, but I don't know which room number." Scully

tapped her fingers on the side of the phone while she waited.

 

"One moment, please." Scully conjured up what

she was going to say to Mulder; she started forming the

_perfect_ lecture.

 

"He's in room 212. Would you like me to connect you?"

 

{You bet I do.} "Yes, please." Scully listened to

a distant ringing and waited for Mulder to pick up. Two

rings. Three rings. Four rings. Finally the cheerful voice

came back on the line.

 

"It appears that Mr. Mulder is not in his room.

Would you like to leave a message?"

 

{A message, huh?} "Just tell him Scully called.

And that he has ditched her for the last time," Scully said,

calmly and sweetly, then asked for directions to the hotel,

and hung up. She was prepared to camp out in front of

Mulder's room and wait for him. And then she would kick his

sorry ass all the way back to Washington.

 

***Holiday Inn

4:55 p.m.

 

Scully had to rent another car to get to the hotel,

and knew that Mulder had rented another one as well. She

had described Mulder and asked at the rental counter if

they had seen him. Of course, they had seen him, 'looking

rather pale' as the clerk had described. This made Scully

even more determined to find him.

 

So here she was, walking down the hallway to

Mulder's room, ready to pounce on him as soon as she saw him.

She had her suitcase and Mulder's duffel bag in one

hand, her medical bag in the other, and her room key in her

fist. She had managed to get the room next to Mulder's and

after a quick drop off of bags in her room, she was prepared

to really sit in front of his door. She sighed as she

realized that Skinner was going to kill them when he saw

this expense report.

 

But as soon as she reached her door, she noticed

that the Mulder's room door was slightly ajar. She quickly

dropped her bags in her room and walked over to the door,

trying to think that housekeeping was there and Mulder

hadn't really left the door slightly ajar. Because Mulder

would _never_ do that. She rapped on the door lightly, but

got no response. She frowned and opened the door quietly.

 

A queen sized bed was in the middle of the room.

And Mulder was on top of it, fast asleep, still in the

clothes he had on when he stormed out last night. His face

was hidden by a pillow, but Scully could hear a slight rasp

in his breathing. The same rasp that had kept her up last

night, only slightly worse.

 

Scully sighed and walked back into her room to get

her medical bag. At least with her thermometer she could get

a reading without waking Mulder. Because as soon as he woke,

he was going to get it.

 

6:15 p.m.

 

An hour had past and Mulder was still out cold. Scully

had taken his temperature and the 103 she had suspected last

night was confirmed. She clutched some aspirin in her hand

and was waiting for him to wake, so she could get him to take

them and get him to drink something. She ordered some juice

from room service and it sat on a table by the window, next

to the chair Scully now resided in.

 

She had been practicing her little "speech" to Mulder

over and over in her head as she waited. {As if he'll really

listen, anyway} she realized, but knew she would say it

anyway. She glanced at her cell phone and decided to fill

Skinner in, before Mulder awoke and ran out on her again.

 

"Skinner."

 

"It's Scully, sir. I found him."

 

"Where?" Skinner sounded both relieved and annoyed

at the same time. Scully herself had that reaction when she

had discovered Mulder.

 

"Holiday Inn in Dallas," she answered.

 

"Don't let him out of your sight, Scully."

 

"I won't, sir." And after she promised to keep him

informed, she hung up. She glanced over at Mulder and saw

him stir. She pushed her chair to the edge of the bed and

sat there and watched him open his eyes.

 

The first thing Mulder was aware of was his splitting

headache. He groaned, opened his eyes, and was greeted by

one very pissed off redhead.

 

"I am getting sick of you ditching me, Mulder," Scully

started and sighed, preparing to go into her lecture, but

Mulder interrupted her.

 

"I'm sorry, Scully. But you weren't listening to me."

He brought his hand up to his temples and rubbed them. Then

he proceeded to get up.

 

Scully hands were pushing him down in an instant.

"No, Mulder. Let's not start this again. You are _sick_.

Normal people stay in bed when they are sick."

 

"Scully you know by now that I'm not normal," Mulder

remarked, and closed his eyes against his still throbbing head.

 

"Of course you aren't. That would be too easy,

wouldn't it?" Scully was pissed. She got off of her chair

and started pacing. "Mulder, one these days, you are going to

run off and I'm not going to find you. I don't want that to

happen! You are-"

 

"I said I was sor-" Mulder interjected, but was

racked by a bought of coughing. Scully sighed and her anger

turned into concern. He _was_ sick after all. She got the

aspirin she had had out and handed then along with a

glass of water to him.

 

Mulder swallowed the aspirin and drank the water

without a word. Scully just looked at him, and then walked to

the bed and sat on the edge. She put her hand on his forehead,

and Mulder had to admit he loved Scully's touch, even if it

was while she was doctoring him. She frowned and reached

for her thermometer again.

 

"Turn your head for me." It was an order and not

a request. Mulder knew that and let Scully stick the

thermometer into his ear for a reading.

 

"103.6," Scully said outloud to no one in particular.

"It's up half a degree." She sighed and shook her head.

She looked at the floor for a minute and then brought her

eyes back to Mulder.

 

"So what do you find out? What was so important

you had to ditch me?" The words weren't angry, they were

annoyed, but not angry, even though God knows she was

angry.

 

"Mrs. Wasserman can be a real bitch," Mulder said,

simply.

 

Scully laughed. "I could have told you that," she

said, through her laughter. Mulder looked at her strangely.

"Never mind. Anything else?"

 

Mulder sighed and tried to remember. His eyelids

were getting heavy and he couldn't really think that clearly.

Scully saw him falling asleep. She put her hand on his arm.

 

"You can tell me later, Mulder. Go to sleep. I'll

get something for dinner." Mulder's eyes perked up at the

idea of her leaving the room, but Scully quickly added:

"From room service."

 

Mulder sighed and coughed, then drifted off to

sleep.

 

Holiday Inn

7:30 p.m.

 

Scully stared at the file folder as she ate. She

wondered why Mulder had come here in the first place. She

knew he wanted to talk to Mrs. Wasserman, but she doubted he

got very far in his condition. But she still didn't know

_why_ talking to Linda Wasserman was so important.

 

She pushed her plate aside and looked at Mulder. He

was still asleep, but stirred from time to time, so Scully

didn't even want to leave the room, afraid he'd slip out again.

{But the last time he ran off, you _were_ in the room}

she reminded herself. She closed the folder and sighed. She

would talk to Mrs. Wasserman herself in the morning. She

just needed to know what Mulder had asked her. What Mulder

was looking for.

 

This case was getting tiring. It had started at as

a murder case, and now they were in Texas investigating a

hit-and-run that took place 5 years ago! Scully seemed to be

no closer to solving this case, but Mulder seemed to have

same sort of hunch. But Mulder was sick. An illness that

had struck him when he tried to investigate the connection

between Katie and Joanna. {That's weird.....no, it's just a

coincidence, not an X-File! Then again, Mulder is an X-File

all on his own} she thought, smiling a little. Right now, she

would wait for Mulder to wake up, try to get him to eat, and

to keep it down. Her mind wandered back to the hospital and

all the scares.

 

Holiday Inn

Dallas, Texas

9:47 p.m.

 

It was after nine-thirty when Scully finally caved in

and woke up Mulder. She knew he'd kill her for letting him

sleep so long, but that wasn't her only motivation. Truth

was, she was bored out of her mind and dying to hear what

Mulder's "hunch" on the Wassermans was.

 

Even before she shook him, she could tell the aspirin

she'd given him hadn't done a thing. He was laying on his

side, curled with his knees half way up, both arms wrapped

around his rib cage as if protecting himself from some unknown

predator. Listening to his harsh, rasping breathing made her

realize he was probably in a great deal of pain. As Scully sat

on the edge of Mulder's bed, stroking his damp bangs, feeling

the heat coming off him, he began coughing; loud hacking that

sounded as though it was trying to wake him up, but the

exhaustion kept him from emerging from his slumber. Scully sat

there for nearly ten minutes watching him before she decided

she'd have to wake him up and do something about... about

_everything_ that was making him sick; she wished desperately

she could make it go away, but the doctor in her

was clucking. {You _can_ make it go away, but not by sheer

will.}

 

"Mulder, wake up. Mulder... Mulder, wake up now." Scully

had grasped his shoulders and was, gently but firmly, shaking him.

 

"Mm," Mulder said elaborately and groaned. Quickly

realizing she wouldn't have a chance to do this once he was

fully lucid, Scully grabbed her thermometer off the bedside table and stuck it in his ear.

 

{103.9.} Scully closed her eyes and concentrated on

thinking of something she could possibly do to bring the fever

down. At this point, nothing less than serious, IV applied,

drugs would do anything. But... well, she wasn't ready to

leave him in the hospital, yet. First, Scully wanted to hear

his theory.

 

"What's the matter?" Mulder croaked. "Scully, I'm sorry,

what'd I do? Please, Scully, what's the matter? I'm sorry!!"

He had pushed himself off the pillow as much as his weakened

body could manage and was tugging at her sleeve.

 

"Nothing. Shh, nothing." The look of terror in his

eyes pained her. "I was just thinking."

 

"Thinking about what?"

 

"I'll tell you later." She paused, then regained

her doctor mode. "Let's see if we can get you a bit more

comfortable. Can you sit up for me?" She took his elbow

and helped to get him upright. "All right.. let's get you out

of these."

 

Mulder looked down and noticed for the first time that

his clothes were completely soaked in sweat. "I can do it."

 

Scully frowned but decided he deserved at least a _

little_ bit of privacy. "Okay, I'll go into my room, call the

minute you need something." She stepped back towards the

door, still staring dubiously at her feverish partner.

 

"Uh, right," Mulder said, struggling to stand up.

Scully went into her room and stood right by the door, leaning

against the wall and twiddling her thumbs, waiting to spring

the second her partner showed any sign of distress. After

an infinite amount of time, Scully heard Mulder moan and she

popped into his room.

 

"Whatsamatter?" She ran to his side.

 

Mulder winced as she yelled in his ear and couldn't

help the flinch when she laid her palm on his forehead when

he was still recovering from the throbbing pain in his head.

 

"Can I have some aspirin please?" he said, voice

hardly above a whisper.

 

"Sorry, Mulder, I'd love to give you some, I really

would, but you swallow that on an empty stomach and I bet

you anything it'll come back up to visit you in ten minutes."

 

He flopped back down onto the bed, only he was

sitting backwards, so now his head was on the foot of his

bed and his feet on the pillow. Scully turned around

quickly to make sure he was okay after the fall (she was

feeling just a _bit_ overprotective) and found him with

his eyes scrunched closed and his forehead creased in pain.

 

"Okay, well, how 'bout this? I have some left over

room service from earlier tonight. Think you can eat a

little of that and then the aspirin is all yours. C'mon, sit

up and we'll go into my room and eat a little something. And,

_maybe_, if you're feeling okay, we can discuss the case a

bit."

 

Mulder groaned and scrubbed at his face with both fists.

"That's okay, I think I'll just stay here and die... if that's

okay with you."

 

{Mulder?? Not wanting to work on the case? He must

really be feeling bad.} "Gee, Mulder, I've never known you

to be so dramatic."

 

"I minored in drama," he muttered from under the

pillow he had pushed over his face.

 

"Really?"

 

"No. Can I have that aspirin?"

 

"You need to eat something or you're gonna be puking

your guts up."

 

Very, very slowly, Mulder pushed himself up and,

slower still, swung his legs over the side of the bed and

stood up. Scully followed him into her room, pushing gently

on the small of his back to keep him moving, keeping one hand

protectively on his lower arm to keep him upright. Once

in Scully's room (that was identical to his own and he didn't

understand her need to make him move to a room that looked

just like his), Mulder collapsed again on her bed,

but managed to stay sitting up.

 

"Okay, let's see here..." Scully rubbed her hands

together eagerly and picked up the tray with a couple of

unappetizing plates of left over food from her meal earlier.

She placed the food before her partner who held on his

face a look of utter disgust.

 

"Scully, I can't eat that."

 

"Why not?"

 

He swallowed, turning positively green. "Cause it

looks like a hamster Samantha had when she was six. The

hamster's name was..." He gulped again. "Fluffers."

Mulder shut his eyes, forehead still scrunched against

the headache that Scully knew must be killing him.

 

Scully put a hand on his arm. "Okay, it's okay," she

said gently. "How about something lighter? Some toast? Tea?"

 

Mulder shook his head. "No, that's okay. I'm just

gonna go to bed if that's okay with you."

 

{This is so unlike Mulder, he must be feeling

unbelievably shitty. I've _never_ known him to sleep this

much, or to _want_ to sleep, especially when I

invited him to discuss the case!}

 

"Stay here a minute, I need to talk to you," Scully

said softly. "Hold on, I'm gonna get you a wet washcloth;

that'll bring down your fever a little. I bet you're pretty

hot, huh?"

 

He nodded, eyes still closed.

 

"Okay, I'll be right back." Scully squeezed his knee and

left. She returned a minute later with a washcloth. She

pushed Mulder down a little so he was half-sitting up, but

mostly slouched down by the pillow, and put the washcloth

on his forehead. A deep shiver wracked him.

 

"Scully," he moaned. "I'm cold." His voice cracked on

"cold". He began shivering hard as if to prove it. "Scully,

take it off," he said, his voice shaking.

 

Scully pushed away his hand that was trying to remove

the washcloth. "Stop-- believe me, you're going to want it

when you start boiling up in a minute."

 

"I won't," he protested hoarsely, his teeth chattering,

distorting his words.

 

"Yes, you will. That's what happens when you have

a fever, you'll have the shakes one minute and think you're

on fire the next."

 

"No, I won't! I'm co-ho-ho-hold."

 

"Mulder! A minute ago you were so hot...." She

realized she was arguing for nothing. "Shh, its okay, just

rest." She studied his face. "Mulder," she said softly.

"You still with me? I'm gonna give you some aspirin, okay?"

 

He nodded weakly, still shivering, and when she left

and returned with 3 aspirin and a cup of water, he managed

to pull himself up to swallow the pills. By now he was hot

again, and kept flipping the pillows over in search of a

cool spot. Finding none, he pushed the pillows aside, rolled

over on the bare mattress which felt wonderfully cool

against his burning skin and fell into a fitful sleep.

 

When Scully came back from returning the cup to the

bathroom, he was sound asleep. {Great} Scully thought and

sighed deeply.

 

She placed the cup on the nightstand, and considered

waking Mulder again. He was in pain before, and would be

again when he woke up. And maybe the aspirin would put a

dent into his fever. She watched as, even when he slept, he

had a pronounced grimace on his face. She decided that sleep

was probably best for him and collapsed back into the chair

beside Mulder's bed. She was ready to scream! At this rate

she was ready to go back to Washington, dump Mulder in the

hospital, give Skinner her report unfinished, and collapse

into her _own_ bed. In her _own_ apartment. Only

the threads of one very old case were keeping her here.

And, frankly, she was ready to tear those threads out with

her bear hands.

 

{And I don't even have one of Mulder's theories to

argue with} she realized and then again thought about how

each time he wanted to tell her a theory, his illness

seemed to worsen, or he just fell asleep. Katie seemed to

be back tonormal, and it was Joanna's death they seemed to

be investigating, when they hadn't even solved Sarah Martin's!

 

{If Katie is back to normal, perhaps we can dump

this case} Scully thought and toyed with the idea of

picking her cell phone up and calling Skinner for permission.

But as her hand reached for the phone, she realized how lame

that would sound to Skinner. Especially when he hadn't heard

all the details about their case, and Scully wasn't in mood

for sharing.

 

So in the end, she fell asleep in the chair beside

Mulder, her cell phone laying just within her reach.

 

Back in Rutherford, NJ

Katie Martin's room

12:13 a.m.

 

Katie stared at the walls, listening for any source

of sound. Joanna hadn't spoken for a few days, but Katie

was still wary. She hoped her last sentence had driven her

away for good, and so far it had. Plus, she hadn't heard from

the FBI agents either. {Maybe they went back to where ever

it was they came from} she thought. She listened to her

room once more and all she heard was the faint noise coming

for the TV downstairs. She smiled and shut her light,

prepared to go to bed, and put Sarah's death and Joanna

behind her.

 

KATIE.

 

Katie opened her eyes, and sat up in shock. She

listened again and heard nothing but the TV. {I'm just

imaging things} she told herself and laid back

down. But she didn't close her eyes.

 

KATIE, I KNOW YOU ARE THERE. WE HAVE TO TALK.

 

{Joanna?} Katie thought and swallowed hard.

 

THE ONE AND ONLY. I BET YOU THOUGHT I WAS GONE.

 

{I _hoped_ you were gone} Katie thought angrily.

{I _want_ you to be gone!}

 

NO YOU DON'T, KATIE. I HELPED YOU. YOU'RE NO LONGER

IN SARAH'S SHADOW. YOU LOVE THAT. I KNOW YOU DO. TO BAD

SHE HAD TO DIE, I'M REALLY SORRY ABOUT THAT. BUT IT WAS THE

ONLY WAY.

 

Katie just stared at the walls, not admitting anything.

 

I DID SOMETHING FOR YOU, SO YOU DO SOMETHING FOR ME.

I NEED YOU TO THROW SOME FBI AGENTS OFF THE TRACK.

 

{I don't want to help you, so go away!}

 

KATIE YOU HAVE TO HELP ME. IF YOU DON'T, I'LL JUST

HAVE TO THROW THEM OFF THE TRACK MY WAY. AND THAT MIGHT NOT

BE GOOD FOR YOU.

 

Katie looked at the walls, Joanna's words echoing back

to her. {What do you mean by "that might not be good for you"?}

 

KATIE, YOU ARE SMART ENOUGH TO FIGURE THAT OUT. LISTEN,

I'M NOT A BAD PERSON, JUST A TWELVE YEAR OLD THAT CAN

SYMPATHIZE WITH YOU. I DIDN'T HAVE A SISTER. MY PARENTS

HAD NO EXCUSE TO IGNORE ME. SO I TRIED TO GET THEM TO PAY

ATTENTION, BUT IT DIDN'T WORK. IN FACT, IT BACKFIRED. I

JUST DON'T WANT THOSE AGENTS TO FIND OUT ABOUT ME, IS THAT TOO

MUCH TO ASK?

 

Katie thought over. {Well, I guess it's not.}

 

Katie knew if she could see Joanna, she would be smiling.

GREAT. NOW I NEED YOU TO GET THEM AWAY FROM TEXAS.

 

{Texas? They are in Texas!}

 

YES. NEAR MY HOME. AGENT MULDER TALKED TO MY MOTHER,

BUT I CAN'T KEEP HIM FROM SHARING HIS THOUGHTS WITH HIS

PARTNER FOR MUCH LONGER.

 

{Keeping him? Is he still sick?}

 

YES, Joanna said simply, but didn't elaborate.

 

{How did he get to Texas?}

 

I LET MY GUARD DOWN FOR AWHILE, I GUESS. I NEED YOU TO

SAY YOU FOUND SOMETHING AND CONTACT AGENT SCULLY WITH IT.

 

{Found what? And call Agent Scully?}

 

YES, CALL HER. WELL, I WANT YOU TO SAY YOU FOUND A

LEAD.

 

{A lead?}

 

YES, SOME ROPE.

 

{Rope?}

 

YES, ROPE. GET IN CONTACT WITH AGENT SCULLY AND TELL

HER YOU FOUND SOME ROPE INSIDE THE PIANO AT SCHOOL. YOU

STOPPED BY THE PIANO STUDIO TO PICK UP SOME OF SARAH'S THINGS

AND ONE OF THE STUDENTS WAS PLAYING THE PIANO. IT SOUNDED OUT

OF TUNE, SO THEY OPENED THE PIANO TOP AND YOU HAPPENED TO

PEER IN. AND THAT'S WHEN YOU SAW IT. THE ROPE.

 

{I _am_ going to pick Sarah's things tomorrow, but..how

is the rope going to get there?}

 

RELAX I'LL PUT IT THERE. DON'T WORRY.

 

Dallas, Texas

Holiday Inn

10:57 a.m.

 

Scully surveyed the room and was glad to see it was

the same it had been 20 minutes ago, including Mulder, who

was still asleep on the bed in the same place he had been

since 9 p.m. last night. Scully had awoken at 8:30 and waited

to see if Mulder would awaken and while he stirred, he never

woke. So Scully ducked into her bathroom and took a shower.

So here she was, back in with Mulder brushing her wet hair,

still not knowing what was going to happen today, and no

where near finding a theory for the case.

 

She placed her brush on the dresser, walked to the bed,

and perched on the side.

 

"Mulder." He didn't stir so she said it louder.

"Mulder."

 

Mulder groaned and stirred, but didn't awaken. She

reached up to his forehead, frowning when she found it to be

as warm as it was last night. She reached for her

thermometer when she heard her cell phone ring from it's place

on the dresser.

 

She placed the thermometer down, momentarily and grabbed

her cell phone.

 

"Scully."

 

"Agent Scully, I'm sorry to call you so early, but

something happened this morning, so I found the number you

left for my mom."

 

"Who is this?" Scully asked, even though she recognized

the voice as Katie Martin's.

 

"Katie Martin."

 

"What happened, Katie?"

 

"Well, I was--" Katie started sobbing and Scully

couldn't make out the words.

 

"Katie, stop. I can't hear you." Scully strained her

ears and the girl tried to calm down, succeeding after a few

minutes.

 

"I was at the piano studio picking up some of Sarah's

things she left there, and," Katie paused, took a deep breath

and continued. "and a student was there, taking an early

lesson, and the piano was out of tune, and they opened

it up to check it and there was-" Another pause. "a rope.

Because of Sarah's death, the lady in charge called the police

and they said they would call you, but I wanted to first."

Katie finished on a sob.

 

"Of course," Scully said, wishing she could comfort

the girl. "We'll try to be back as soon as possible."

 

"Thank you."

 

Scully said goodbye, hung up, and looked Mulder and

sighed for the millionth time.

 

Rutherford, NJ

1:07 p.m.

 

Katie hung up the phone and sighed.

 

GOOD JOB, KATIE, Joanna's voice said, but all Katie

could do was stare at the walls.

 

Holiday Inn

Dallas, Texas

11:16 a.m.

 

Scully plopped back into the chair she had spent the

night in and rolled her muscles; they ached terribly from

sleeping in that same chair. Hearing Mulder groan, she

forgot her own pains and moved to the bed to sit beside her

stirring partner.

 

"Mulder," she said softly, afraid he would wake and

not know where he was. Placing a hand on his upper arm, she

squeezed gently and said again, "Mulder. Wake up, I wanna

talk to you about the case. Wake up."

 

His eyelashes fluttered and slowly, the eyes dragged

themselves open and, after a minute, managed to focus on

Scully's face. "Where...?"

 

Scully helped him sit up and handed him the glass of

water she had left on the bedside table. "It's okay, you're

in my room." She studied his face as he held the cup in

both his hands, like a small child, and brought it up to his

mouth, slowly sipping at it. After a couple of swallows he

handed it back to her. "How do you feel about going back to

New Jersey?" Scully had expected him to light up, but

instead he turned a frightening shade of green and shuddered.

Placing a hand on his shoulder, Scully tried to get him to

meet her eyes. Finally, she held his chin and turned his face.

"What's the matter?" He didn't answer. "Do you want to go

back to DC, and we can get you in a hospital?"

 

He shook his head. "I wanna stay with you," he said

hoarsely.

 

Scully sighed. "Okay, that means you're going to New

Jersey. I promised Katie Martin we'd come, police there

found a new piece of evidence."

 

Mulder cocked his head. "What?"

 

"A rope. She didn't give details. I'm thinking we

should go to New Jersey and visit the local police and see

what they found in the rope. How's that sound?"

 

He seemed to have zoned out, his eyes, unfocused, not

really looking, but directed towards the door. "We need to

go to the Wasserman's."

 

"No, _we_ don't. You already did, after you ditched me,

remember?"

 

Mulder bit his lip and seemed to seriously consider

this. "I ditched you?"

 

"Yeah, when you ran out of that cheap motel and caught

a one a.m. flight to Dallas."

 

The look on his face was one of poor confusion.

"Dallas..... we're in Dallas?"

 

Scully's frown deepened. "Yeah, Dallas. You

okay?"

 

Still gazing towards the door, he coughed a little, and

a hand came up to rub the area where his throat met his chest.

"Yeah," he said slowly. "Uh huh." A pause. "New Jersey?"

 

{He shouldn't be _this_ out of it} "Hold still a

minute, Mulder, I wanna take your temperature." He didn't

respond at all, just kept staring. Scully stuck the

thermometer in his ear. {104.1} "Mulder, lie down. I'm

going to the store for some medicine, don't go anywhere."

He didn't do anything. Very gently, Scully pushed him down

to the pillow, and pulled the blankets over him

since he had begun to shiver uncontrollably. "I'll be right

back," she promised, smoothing his bangs.

 

 

 

Joanna's room

Rutherford, NJ

1:21 p.m.

 

{Joanna?}

 

MM?

 

{What's with the rope? What'd you do to it....

I mean, what are we trying to prove?}

 

NOTHING MUCH.... JUST TRYING TO THROW THE FBI AGENTS

OFF COURSE. I PUT SOME FINGERPRINTS ON THE ROPE AND.... SOME

OTHER STUFF. YOU KNOW HOW THEY SAY YOUR SISTER WAS STRANGLED?

 

{...Yeah?}

 

YEAH, WELL. WELL, YOU'LL SEE. BUT, I PUT MICHAEL

AUSTIN'S FINGERPRINTS ON IT

 

{Who's Michael Austin?}

 

A KILLER

 

{WHICH killer?}

 

JUST A KILLER. HE'S ON THE TEN MOST WANTED LIST. A

REAL NASTY GUY, HE STRANGLES ALL HIS VICTIMS, FROM BEHIND,

SO QUICKLY, THEY NEVER SEE HIM. BUT, HE NEVER DOES IT WHEN

ANYONE ELSE IS AROUND, I MEAN, THAT WOULD BE A LITTLE

OBVIOUS. HE'S MY INSPIRATION, ACTUALLY

 

{So..... it's gonna look like Michael whats-his-face

did it? But does that make any sense? I mean, is he from

anywhere around here?}

 

CONNECTICUT. CLOSE ENOUGH

 

{Yeah, I guess so. Hey,} she admitted, {That's actually

a pretty good idea.} She scowled. {The first you've had in

a long time.}

 

THANKS.... I THINK.... WAS THAT A COMPLIMENT?

 

{I'm not sure. So are the FBI agents coming down now?

Can you, like, see into the future? Are they coming?}

 

WELL, I'M NOT SURE. THE LADY IS DEFINITELY COMING, SHE'S

TRYING TO GET RID OF THIS CASE AND SHE THINKS THE ROPE THING

MIGHT HELP HER SOLVE IT AND _FINISH IT_. BUT SHE MIGHT

LEAVE HER PARTNER OFF IN DC, I'M NOT SURE. HE'S REALLY SICK

RIGHT NOW. IF YOU WANT, I CAN MAKE HIM GET BETTER SO HE COMES

ALONG FOR THE RIDE TOO

 

{NO! Don't! The lady's the only one whose liable to

buy the Michael Austin story, her partner's on to us. You

can't let him come along; if he does, he'll convince her that

Michael Austin didn't do it, YOU did. He's the one

who believes in weird stuff, phenomenons and stuff.}

 

WELL.... WE COULD KILL HIM OFF..... Joanna said, and

atie could almost see her rubbing her hands together eagerly.

 

{Joanna,} Katie reprimanded. {What did I tell you?

No killing the nice FBI agents!} She laughed out loud and

so did Joanna. {Nah... but we _should_ make him worse so the

lady has to leave him back home. What do you have his

temperature at now?}

 

104.1. YOU WANT IT HIGHER?

 

{Uh... will he start convulsing or anything?}

 

PROBABLY. I DUNNO, THIS GUY'S GOT SOME WEIRD MEDICAL

PROBLEMS, I'M NOT SURE I WANT TO MESS WITH IT. I'D SAY, WE

CAN GET TO 104.7. AND IF I BRING IT UP REALLY QUICK, SAY

WHILE HIS PARTNER IS AT THE DRUG STORE RIGHT NOW, THAT

SHOULD GIVE THEM A SCARE.

 

{Okay, sounds like fun} Katie said. She grinned and

laughed out loud, proud of herself.

 

 

Holiday Inn

Dallas, Texas

11:49 a.m.

 

"Mulder?" Scully called his name as she walked in the

room. Looking over at the bed, she was relived to see his

eyes were open and, though glazed over with fever and

unfocused, he seemed to be conscious. "Sorry that took so

long, it's raining pretty hard and the traffic here is

horrible," Scully stopped, realizing he wasn't listening.

Moving quickly, she sat down at the edge of his bed and he

looked up, noticing her for the first time.

 

"Hi," he said weakly.

 

"Hey, how are you feeling?"

 

Mulder didn't respond to that, just closed his eyes

and bowed his head.

 

"Yeah, I bet," Scully said. "Look, though, I got you

a nice assortment of drugs. Cause guess what yours truly

left at the motel in Rutherford?"

 

"What?" Mulder asked.

 

"Your medicine!!! Some doctor I am, I left all those

good drugs Doctor Andrews gave you back in some cheap New

Jersey motel. Bet some addict's having a good time with those,

huh?"

 

Mulder shrugged, indifferent. Frankly, his number one

priority at this moment was slipping down under the covers

and melting (he certainly felt hot enough to) but he thought

he should wait till Scully left the room, seeing as he

wouldn't want to leave her with the responsibility of

cleaning up the mess.

 

Scully studied him, noticed his eyelids were beginning

to droop and decided she might as well get some medicine in

him before he fell asleep again. Standing up, she went into

the bathroom for a fresh cup of water for him to swallow

all the pills with.

 

"Scully, come back, I'm sorry, I promise I won't melt,"

Mulder was calling after her desperately.

 

She rushed back to his side. "It's okay... don't

worry you didn't do anything." {Melt????? Oh boy! I wonder

what his temperature is, he seems even worse than before.}

 

"Scully." Mulder was struggling to get her attention.

He managed to pull himself up. "Scully," he said as loud as

he could.

 

"Yeah?"

 

Mulder bit his lip and stared down at his lap. "I don't

feel good," he said, and he sounded sheepish, as though he

was admitting something.

 

Scully squeezed his hand. "I know, but now you're

going to take some medicine and get some sleep and you'll

feel better soon."

 

"No, I _really_ don't feel good," he said, his

voiced stressed.

 

{Does he think I haven't noticed??} Scully thought,

remembering all the scares he'd given her on this case.

When he'd ditched her for Texas... when he'd stopped

breathing in the hospital that time...

 

"Scully," he moaned. "I think something's wrong. I

really don't feel good. I... I think I might have a fever.

I'm really hot." A strange noise came from his throat,

almost a wrenched sob. Tear tracks ran down his face.

 

"Shhh, don't cry." Scully wrapped her arms around him.

"I know, Mulder. You're really sick and as soon as we can

move you, you're going home, okay? Shhh, it's okay. It's

okay."

 

Mulder continued to cry in Scully's arms. He knew she

was saying something important that he should be listening to

but the effort to concentrate was just too much and the

pounding in his head was too loud to hear above anyway.

The sobbing brought unbelievable pain to his raw throat and

he tried to stop but it just made him cry harder. Then the

feeling that he was on fire disappeared as quickly as it had

come and he began shivering, deep and hard, so bad he thought

he'd never stop. And Scully held him through it, hugging

him close to her own body. And when he finally slipped off,

away from all the pain that had control of his body, she was

still holding him.

 

Very, very gingerly, Scully eased Mulder's sleeping

form down on the bed. {He's burning up, _much_ hotter

than he was before! Where'd I put that thermometer...?}

Scully found it, under all the junk on the bedside table and

stuck it in his ear. One of four point seven. That couldn't

be right, there was no way it could be that high. Scully

cleared the thermometer and tried it again. Still one oh

four seven. What was she going to do?

 

Scully stared at the thermometer again. It didn't

change. 104.7. {That is _way_ too high!} That fever _had_

to come down. Scully went to the dresser and fingered her cell

phone, and thought about dialing 911. She looked at the

buttons as her mind seemed to be having a tug of war. {You

_should_ call911!! He has a 104.7 temperature, for God's

sake! But....} She knew Mulder would not like waking up

in another hospital. But he was so out of it as it

was........

 

As if he was reading her thoughts, Mulder stirred and

opened his eyes half-way. The glazed-over hazel orbs

searched the room not really focusing, just searching.

Finally they landed on Scully, and seemed, if just for a

second, to focus.

 

"Scully," he mumbled. Or Scully hoped it was Scully,

she couldn't be sure. So, she just stroked his hair, hoping

he would go back to sleep.

 

"You won't bring me back to the hospital yet? Right?"

He sounded like a five year, trying to prolong his bedtime.

His eyes opened all the way and just stared at her pleading.

"You can bring me later, but, please not yet." The words

sounded surprisingly lucid for someone with such a high

fever.

 

Scully just looked at him, and kept stroking his hair.

"Not yet," she promised, crossing her fingers on her other

hand as she said it. Mulder didn't seem to notice. Satisfied

at her answer, he drifted back to sleep. Scully carefully

eased up the bed, sat back in her chair, and grabbed her cell

phone to make some calls.

 

Rutherford, NJ

Martins' residence

5:45 p.m.

 

Katie sat in front of the big bay window and gazed out.

The streets were deserted because of the darkening skies. It

was going to rain soon. Katie thought as she gazed at the

wind blowing the leaves back and forth.

 

IF THEY GET ONE.

 

{Joanna?}

 

NEWARK AIRPORT IS BEING HIT BY A HUGE STORM. IT'S

SUPPOSED TO HIT HERE IN FIFTEEN MINUTES. HURRICANE WINDS.

NO AIRPLANE IS FLYING INTO NEWARK, AND NO PLANE IS LEAVING

NEWARK. DAMN!!

 

{My mom said there was going to be a storm. Guess she

was right. So? Maybe Dallas could get hit with a storm. I

mean you did make Agent Mulder sick.....}

 

I CAN'T DO THAT! I _REALLY_ WISH I COULD, BUT I

CAN'T. I DO HAVE SOME LIMIT TO MY RESOURCES. MOTHER NATURE

CONTROLS THE WEATHER, NOT ME.

 

{Well, Agent Mulder _is_ sick, so you should be okay for

awhile, right?}

 

I THINK SO. I JUST HOPE AGENT SCULLY DOESN'T GO LOOKING

FOR HER PARTNER'S THEORIES.

 

{Oh, come on. _She's_ the skeptic. Not to mention the

sane one. She'll just call the police, find out about the

fingerprints on the rope, and they will solve the case. Then

she can drag her sick partner back to DC. Maybe they won't

even have to come back here.}

 

Joanna was silent for a minute. Then Katie heard a

sigh of content. MAYBE YOU ARE RIGHT. I _DO_ ALWAYS TEND

TO OVERREACT. THIS WILL WORK. A KILLER ON THE TEN MOST

WANTED LIST WILL BE BLAMED. YOU AND I ARE IN THE CLEAR.

 

{Yep.} Katie finally pulled herself away from the

window. {Too bad you're not alive. We could have had

_a lot_ of fun.}

 

Joanna laughed. WE WOULD HAVE. BUT WHO SAYS I HAVE TO

GO? WE STILL CAN HAVE FUN.

 

Katie smiled as she thought that over.

 

Dallas, Texas

Holiday Inn

4:30 p.m.

 

Scully was _frustrated_. She had tried to get a flight

out to New Jersey, but because of a storm, they were no flights

in Newark Airport. She had checked Mulder's temperature and

was happy to see it had gone down a half. It was still 104.1,

but at least it had gone down _some_. So, when she was sure

Mulder was sound asleep and definitely not going anywhere,

she had stepped out for awhile.

 

She returned with the large pharmacy bag full of most of

the drugs she had left behind in New Jersey. She had made

another long-distance phone call and called him in New Jersey

and had him phone the pharmacy and call in the meds. {Gee,

Mulder's insurance company is going to _love_ this} she thought

as she opened the door to her room. If she could get his

fever down, she could keep the promise Mulder wanted her too.

 

But as soon as she walked into the room she realized

that promise was going to harder to keep. She was greeted

by the sound of retching from the bathroom and glanced at

the bed. It was empty, the blankets thrown carelessly to the

floor. She ran to the bathroom and found his head over the

toilet. Nothing was coming up; he hadn't eaten in days. He

was probably still dehydrated, too. She bend down next to

him and rubbed his back. He hardly noticed her until he

turned his head.

 

"Scully. Sorry you saw the show," he said hoarsely,

trying to smile but instead grimacing. Scully immediately

felt his forehead, and for once Mulder didn't bat her hand

away. She frowned and helped him up.

 

"Come on, we have to get you to bed," she said and

lead him to the bed.

 

"I'm still..." Mulder trailed off, but Scully got the

idea.

 

"Nauseous?" Scully finished. Mulder nodded as Scully

gently pushed him back down to the bed. "Well, I got you

something for that." She gestured to the bag on the dresser

and took something out of it and then rummaged through her

medical bag as well.

 

Mulder blinked, and tried to concentrate on Scully,

but his mind couldn't stay focused. The world was spinning

and all he wanted to do was throw it up. Even more so when

Scully turned around with a needle it her hand.

 

"What?.." Mulder said at the highest decibel he could

manage.

 

"Sorry, Mulder, but I can't give it to you in pill form.

You'd probably throw it up in two minutes and then it wouldn't

do anything it was supposed to do." She lifted his shirt and

went for his hip. Mulder grimaced when the needle went in,

but after a few minutes the nausea wasn't so bad and he was

tired again. He felt Scully push him into a more comfortable

position just before he feel asleep.

 

Katie's Room

Rutherford, NJ

4:35 a.m.

 

Katie couldn't sleep. The rain pounded unceasingly on

the roof, unbearably noisy in the silence. She had already

been up to the bathroom twice and once checked in on her

parents but they were sleeping peacefully so she left them

alone.

 

{Joanna?} She tried. She had attempted to reach

Joanna several times before during the night but it appeared

even the mighty Joanna Wasserman could sleep through a

thunderstorm.

 

UHN?? Joanna's voice was groggy.

 

{Sorry. You awake?}

 

I AM NOW. WHAT?

 

{Sorry,} Katie said again. {I'm bored.}

 

BORED?? HOW CAN YOU BE BORED? IT'S 3 IN THE MORNING

 

{4:37, actually. Soooo... what's up?}

 

NOTHING. I WAS SLEEPING. SHEESH

 

{Oh. Well, I had an idea.}

 

RELATING TO THE FBI AGENTS?

 

{Yeah, well, sorta. Well, not directly, but definitely

relating to their case.}

 

Katie thought she heard Joanna sigh, then the voice

said, OKAY, I'M ALL EARS, WHAT IS IT?

 

{Well, it's about Michael Austin. Is there anyway you

could.... talk to him?}

 

TALK TO HIM?

 

{Yeah! Like you talk to me. Then... well.... I'm not

sure exactly where to go from there...}

 

YOU CALL THAT AN IDEA?? HEY..... CAN YOU TRY TO BE

JUST A LITTLE LESS CHEERFUL? IT'S ONLY 4:37 IN THE MORNING!

 

{4:38 now. Sure, I'll try.} Katie lay there in the

dark for a minute, then kicked off the blankets. {Well, I

don't know about you, but I'm bored out of my mind. Let's

go for a jog.}

 

YOU JOG?

 

{Well..... no. Sarah was the real athlete. Sarah was

good in _everything_. But, well, let's see if it's any fun.}

Katie sat up, flipped on the light and started to pull on

her running shoes and a sweatshirt over her pajamas. {You

coming?}

 

Joanna sighed. I GUESS SO. WHAT ELSE IS THERE TO DO

AT THIS GOD FORSAKEN HOUR? AND WE CAN DISCUSS THIS WHOLE

MICHAEL AUSTIN IDEA WHILE WE'RE GOING. WILL YOUR PARENTS MIND?

 

Katie laughed. {Yeah they might mind..... but,

that's never stopped us before, has it?}

 

 

Holiday Inn

Dallas, Texas

4:39 a.m.

{It's freezing in here!} Was the first thing that

came to Mulder's mind as he slowly emerged from a drug and

fever and pure exhaustion induced sleep. He sat up slowly and

realized it was partially because he was minus his shirt. A

fist came up to scrub his face and he realized how weird he

felt..... a dizzy, blurry, half-nauseous feeling that was

familiar but he couldn't pinpoint it. He tried to think back

to the past few hours.

 

{Let's see..... I remember puking my guts up.... right,

then Scully shot me. Or maybe she gave me a shot. Hmm...?

Anyway.... what was after that?} His head was beginning to

pound from thinking so hard and he decided what he really

needed was a run. He knew the reasonable thing to do was put

on a shirt so he recovered his old one (a bit sweaty but no

worse for the wear) and slipped it over his head.

 

{Why didn't I have a shirt on?} Mulder's mind

drifted back to a time when he'd been sick and had woken up

the next morning in Scully's bed with his underwear on....

and _only_ his underwear on. Oh, yes, that was the time he'd

been drugged.

 

{Scully... I wonder if she wants to come.....} Mulder

looked over, squinting to see in the dark room and saw Scully

collapsed in an armchair. {Why is she sleeping there? That

looks very uncomfortable! And why is she in my room?

You know, this doesn't even look like my room. Where _am_

I?? Nevermind, I'll just go for a run, then I'll know where

I am. I wonder what time it is... oh well, it's almost

light out. Well, getting there. I'd better go before I

wake Scully up.} And with that, Mulder ran out into the

November night.

 

 

Rutherford, NJ

6:56 a.m.

 

{So, I was thinking, if you could talk to Michael

Austin and convince him to turn himself in....}

 

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?? I CAN'T DO THAT.... THAT WOULD

BE INSULTING HIM! NO GREAT ARTIST TURNS HIMSELF IN!

 

{If he's an "artist" he really wouldn't need to be

turning himself in, would he? He's a _criminal_ admit it!

And so are you!}

 

AND SO ARE YOU, MISSY!

 

{Oh, right. I almost forgot} She laughed. {Well, if

not turn himself in, if we could get his fingerprints on some

more evidence.... and if we could _locate_ him, that would be

nice, too. Are you sure he's in Connecticut?}

 

THE FINGERPRINT THING IS OKAY. LET'S JOG OVER TO THE

PIANO STUDIO AND I'LL PUT SOME OF MICHAEL AUSTIN'S FINGERPRINTS

ON THE PIANO AND THE AREA AROUND

 

{Okay.}

 

I _THINK_ HE'S STILL IN CONNECTICUT. I MEAN, HE GREW

UP THERE AND LIVED THERE FOR HIS WHOLE LIFE SO THAT'S WHERE

HE KNOWS BEST AND THAT'S WHERE HE CAN PERFORM HIS ART WITHOUT

GETTING CAUGHT

 

Katie laughed. {Michael and his art, uh huh.}

 

WHAT CAN I SAY? THE MAN'S GOT SKILL. C'MON, LET'S GO

TO THE PIANO STUDIO

 

{K.} They turned the corner and headed towards the

piano studio.

 

 

 

Dallas, Texas

5:46 a.m.

 

Mulder was beginning to think he'd better stop. He was

currently hunched over in an alley, gasping for breath and

wishing his head would stop pounding. Besides, he was

_freezing_.

 

{Now would be a good time to go back. Which way's back

though?} Mulder's eyes scanned the street but he couldn't

remember which way he'd come from. {Well, fifty/ fifty chance.

I guess I'll go left.} He started to walk towards the right,

rubbing at the painful stitch in his side when he spotted a

car driving his way. He waved his hands and the car pulled

over.

 

The driver was a nice looking guy, around Mulder's age,

in a suit, looking for all the world like he wished he was

back home with his family rather than driving around. He

rolled down the window near Mulder. "Hey, man, what're

you doing out in a neighborhood like this at this hour?"

 

{A neighborhood like what?} "Uh, just going for a jog,"

Mulder said and he was shocked how raw his throat was when

he spoke. "Could tell me which way the Holiday Inn is?"

 

"You're a tourist, huh? Figures. Well, the

Holiday Inn is _way_ down that way, see, straight then

take a left, then a right, then go till the stop sign

at Green Street where you gotta take another left then....

hey, I'm going that way, you want a ride?"

 

Mulder was still pissed at being called a tourist.

"Actually, I'm an FBI agent doing a case here. Yeah, could

you give me a lift please?"

 

"Sure, hop in." The man opened the door for Mulder.

"Jeez, you made it this far, how long've you been out?"

 

Mulder slid in and shut the door. "I dunno. I don't

have my watch on."

 

The man looked over at Mulder, noticed the tips of

his ears and his cheeks modeled a deep crimson color. "Why're

you wearing short sleeves in this weather? You're nuts! You

must be freezing!" The man lay a hand on his hitchhiker's arm,

expecting to feel it cold but was shocked when he felt the

heat radiating off Mulder. "Damn, what's the matter? You

sick or something?"

 

Mulder stared at the dashboard. "Maybe. I dunno, I

might be." To tell the truth, he was beginning to feel like

death warmed over and wondered why he hadn't noticed it earlier.

 

The man stared worriedly at him. "Look, you look

really bad, why don't you go see a doctor or something. Or go

to the hospital... all right, man, here we are, Holiday Inn.

You take care of yourself, hear? And, you know what? My wife's

a doctor, if you want, you can come with me and she'll check

you out."

 

"No, that's okay, I have Scully." Mulder coughed and

opened the door.

 

"Scully? What's that?"

 

"My partner. No, not _that_ kind of partner, my partner

at the FBI. She's a doctor too."

 

The man was still staring at him dubiously. "Well, all

right, but take care of yourself, and no more jogs at 5 in the

morning, you got that?"

 

Mulder smiled a little and nodded. "Yeah. Bye.

Thanks."

 

The man watched his hitchhiker walk off, slowly, and

prayed he would be okay. The man might not be considered

gentle, but he was very sensitive and seeing a stranger like

that, in trouble, concerned him. He just hoped the FBI agent

would be okay.

 

As he pulled off the curb, he heard a click, like a

phone being picked up, then a voice, saying, "Thanks, Michael,

you did the right thing. I don't _like_ the FBI agent, but

I wouldn't want him dead either. And, hey, what are you

doing in Texas? You're supposed to stay in Connecticut, that's

where you do your art best!"

 

Michael gasped and drove off as fast as he could.

 

Holiday Inn

Dallas, Texas

6:02 a.m.

 

It took Mulder forever to get up the 12 flights of

stairs (the elevators weren't running, apparently, the owners

didn't think anyone needed to use them at 6 in the morning),

and when he reached the door, Scully was waiting for him,

and Scully was _mad_.

 

"What the fuck do you mean you thought you'd go for a

run???"

 

Mulder cowered back in his place on the bed where his

partner had thrown him as soon as he'd stepped through the

threshold to hell. "My head hurt, I wanted to clear it."

 

"Oh, yeah, _clear it_" Scully repeated. {That shade of

purple her face is turning can't be healthy} Mulder thought.

"I bet your throat hurts too, huh Mulder? And I bet you had

trouble catching your breath and your chest hurts...."

 

"Oh yeah, Scully, I'm supposed to tell you that I

think I'm getting sick. Could you check me out please?"

 

Scully stared at him incredulously for so long Mulder

thought she might've stopped breathing.

 

"Mulder, what are you talking about?? You _know_

you're sick, you've been sick since we started the case,

remember?" At his blank expression she began to get

worried. "No? Stay there, I'll be right back."

 

Scully ran back to her room to get her thermometer and

stuck it in his ear. 104.5, up again.

 

Mulder lay back on the bed with his eyes closed. He

said softly, "Do I have a fever? The man said I might."

 

{The man?} Scully dismissed it. "Yes, you do." She

lay her cool hand on his forehead. "That feel good?"

 

He nodded slowly.

 

"Yeah, I bet it does." She stood up to go get her

magic bag of medicine but he sprang up and grabbed her arm.

 

"Don't go!"

 

Scully eased him back on the bed. "I just need to get

some medicine to bring down that fever. You're radio-active.

Relax, I'll be right back." She walked back to her room and

found the medicine. With a bit of coaxing, she

got half a cup of water and several pills in him. "You'll

have to drink more later," she told him. "You're dehydrated.

Did you know that?"

 

Mulder shook his head. "I thought I might have a cold,

but I wasn't sure," he said. Scully watched as his eyes

slipped closed and his breathing evened out.

 

She went back to her room and sat down on the bed.

Why wasn't Mulder remembering anything??

 

 

Outside the piano studio

Rutherford, NJ

8:02 a.m.

 

Katie and Joanna were outside the piano studio,

talking. Joanna had already put Michael Austin's fingerprints

on the area around the crime scene but they didn't feel like going back home quite yet.

 

{You talked to him? Cool! What'd he say?}

 

WELL, HE DIDN'T EXACTLY SAY ANYTHING. TURNS OUT HE'S

IN DALLAS.

 

{That's where the FBI agents are, right?}

 

YEAH. ACTUALLY, THAT'S WHERE IT GETS INTERESTING. SEE,

HE PICKED MULDER OFF THE STREET; MULDER HAD GONE OUT FOR A

_REALLY_ EARLY MORNING JOG AND HAD GOTTEN LOST AND MICHAEL

FOUND HIM AND BROUGHT HIM BACK TO THE HOLIDAY INN.

 

{Wait a minute, I thought we had Mulder with a 104

something temperature, why'd he go running???}

 

WELL, UH.... THAT'S SOMETHING ELSE I HAVE TO TALK TO YOU

ABOUT. SEE, I HAD TO PULL OUT.

 

{Pull out? Could you state that a little clearer please?}

 

YEAH, OUR FAVORITE FBI AGENT WAS SUFFERING A BIT OF...

WELL, SORTA BRAIN DAMAGE SO I HAD TO STOP CONTROLLING HIM.

BEFORE I WAS RAISING AND LOWERING HIS FEVER, ADDING SYMPTOMS

AND STUFF BUT I WAS MESSING WITH HIS MIND TOO MUCH,

HE HAD BEGUN TO FORGET THINGS. HE STILL IS, BUT THAT'LL

GET BETTER

 

{Excuse me??}

 

LIKE...... HE HAD NO IDEA HE WAS SICK, THAT'S WHY HE

WENT OUT FOR A JOG. HE THOUGHT HE WAS PERFECTLY HEALTHY; HE

COMPLETELY FORGOT. AND HE'S PROBABLY NOT AWARE THAT HE'S STILL

ON OUR CASE; HE THINKS HE'S ON A CASE BUT YOU SAY "SARAH

MARTIN" AND HE'LL SAY, "YEAH, WHO'S THAT?" IT'S SHORT TERM

MEMORY STUFF, HE KNOWS HIS NAME AND EVERYTHING... AND HIS

PARTNER. HEY, RELAX, IT'LL GO AWAY BY TOMORROW, IT'S JUST

THE AFTERMATH OF ME MESSING WITH HIM

 

Katie knew this was turning serious but she didn't want

to aggravate Joanna. {All right. What about Michael Austin,

what's he doing in Dallas?}

 

I'M NOT EXACTLY SURE BUT IT LOOKS LIKE HE'S GIVEN UP

HIS ART FORM AND IS A BUSINESS MAN NOW. HE'S GOT A WIFE AND

TWO KIDS....

 

{How do you _know_ all this if you didn't talk to him??}

 

Joanna smiled. I HAVE MY WAYS.

 

Dallas, Texas

Holiday Inn

9:30 a.m.

 

Three and a half hours had passed since Mulder had

decided to "go out for awhile." Scully eyed his sleeping

form on the bed. She grabbed her own cell phone, totally

ignoring the phone beside the bed. She looked at the buttons

and decided to set a deadline. If Mulder's temp wasn't down by

5 o'clock this afternoon, she was taking him to the hospital.

No questions asked. The storm in New Jersey seemed to have

passed, and flights were running again, but Scully didn't

want to leave Mulder here, even if it was in a hospital. {How

am I going to solve this case then?}

 

She paced the room, thinking. She looked at her phone

again and decided to dial through to the police in Rutherford.

Her cell phone bill was going to be _huge_, but she could

care less at this moment. She'd write it on the expense

report. The expense report that was going up daily. She

could only image what it would look like when the case was

finally closed. _If_ it was ever closed.

 

After calling information and getting some numbers

Scully found herself on the phone with an Officer Carlton Brown.

 

"After sending the rope through ballistics we were

able to find some fingerprints. Belonging to a Michael

Austin. But..." Brown trailed off.

 

"But, what?" Scully shifted her weight from on foot

to the other.

 

"But, Mr. Austin lives in Dallas, Texas. And his wife

saw him on the day of the murder. About 4 hours before it

happened. If gives him a window, but a very, very small one.

Still it's the only lead we have. We double-checked the

crime scene once again early this morning to see it we could

be mistaken, but we only turned up more of Mr. Austin's

fingerprints. Which we seem to have missed the first time

around."

 

"Missed?"

 

"Yes," Brown admitted, and sounded sheepish. "Though

I thought we were very through that first time. Now, we

have Mr. and Mrs. Martin on our backs. The newspaper is

getting hold of the paper. We only called Dr. Austin, Michael

Austin's wife, last night, while he was out. We haven't talked

to him yet, and we are yet to charge him. But with the

evidence we seem to be gathering, we may have to soon."

 

Scully thought this over. "You sound reluctant," she

said carefully.

 

"Well, I am," the officer admitted. "To be quite frank,

Agent Scully, I'm getting a very weird feeling about this

whole thing."

 

{You're not the only one} Scully thought as she thanked

the officer and hung up. {You're not the only one at all.}

 

 

Rutherford, NJ

3:02 p.m.

 

Katie checked the street as though she expected

someone to jump in front of her and kill her. She had spent

her school day worrying about what would happen if she and

Joanna where somehow connected and now she was checking the

streets. {I'm getting a little to paranoid} she realized as

she ran to her door and went inside.

 

WE BOTH ARE, Joanna said.

 

Katie smiled. {We really need to stop thinking we are.

I heard rumors that Michael Austin is going to be brought in.}

 

YEP. THINGS ARE LOOKING UP. MULDER IS STILL SICK,

BUT HE WILL IMPROVE. I THINK EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE OKAY.

YOU CAN BECOME THE CENTER OF YOUR PARENTS LIFE. SOMETHING I

NEVER WAS. Joanna sounded sad, forlorn.

 

{It must have been horrible.}

 

IT WASN'T HORRIBLE. IT WAS JUST LONELY. MY PARENTS

NEVER WANTED A KID. I WAS JUST A "MISTAKE." I HEARD MY DAD

SAY THAT ONCE. I THINK THEY LOOKED FOR ANY REASON TO KNOCK

ME OFF.

 

{You think that they.....?}

 

I DIDN'T SAY THAT. BUT DON'T THINK I NEVER WONDERED.

I WONDER EVERY DAY. BUT YOU DON'T HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT THAT.

I CAN MAKE SURE YOUR PARENTS PAY ATTENTION TO YOU. DON'T

WORRY.

 

DON'T WORRY, Joanna repeated, but somehow her words

didn't seem reassuring.

 

Dallas, Texas

Holiday Inn

3:22 p.m.

 

"Hey, Scully."

 

Scully looked up from her files to find Mulder awake and

looking surprisely better and even near lucid. Her face broke

into a smile.

 

"Hey, yourself." She got up and walked to the bed and

sat down, reaching her hand for his forehead as she sat. It

felt cooler than before. She reached for her thermometer and

stuck it into his ear. She was surprised to hear no agrument

from Mulder; she frowned at that. Mulder just looked at her,

wondering why she was frowning.

 

The thermometer beeped and Scully looked at it. 103.7.

{A definite improvement} she thought, but frowned again when

Mulder began coughing.

 

"Scully, what's wrong?" he asked, as soon as he stopped

coughing. "And what am I doing in your room?" He looked at

his surroundings, trying to remember what happened.

 

"Mulder, you're sick. Don't you remember?" she asked,

concern written all over her face.

 

"Sick. Right...." he said, unsure of his words. He

struggled to remember, but he seemed to be drawing a big blank.

 

Scully's look of concern deepened and she leaned closer

to him, studying his face. Mulder suddenly grew very

self-conscious of himself. He burrowed deeper under the

covers, suddenly cold. But that just seemed to make

Scully's concern grow.

 

"Quit looking at me like that," he mumbled, and suddenly

threw the covers off. "It's hot."

 

"I know," she said gently as she walked into the

bathroom. She returned a minute later with some water and to

aspirin in her hand.

 

"Drink this and take these." Mulder did both with no

comment. Scully frowned the whole time, but was relieved to

see him drink the whole glass. After he was done, she set the

glass next the bed. She sighed. She had no idea what to do.

Mulder was acting out of character, and he didn't seem to

recall the events that happened only this morning. Taking

him to a hospital was becoming a _very_ good idea. But she

had promised him. Of course, he was semi-lucid at the time.

 

"Scully, stop being so quiet," Mulder said quietly and

started to sit up. Scully pushed him down.

 

"I'm sorry, Mulder. Didn't mean to scare you." She

brushed his hair off his forehead and noticed how sweat-soaked

it was. "Mulder, do you remember what happened this morning?"

 

Mulder looked her strangely. "This morning?" He

swallowed and was surprised to find his throat so sore. He

felt like he was swallowing a rock.

 

"Throat hurt?" Scully asked sympathetically.

 

Mulder nodded. Scully reached into her bag and pulled

out some cough medicine. She reached for a spoon from the

decaying room service dishes and poured some cough syrup on

it. "Open up," she coaxed.

 

Mulder eyed the spoon. "Cough syrup?"

 

"Yep. And the bottle says it tastes just like cherry,"

she joked.

 

"That's the worst kind. Fake-cherry taste." But Mulder

opened up anyway.

 

"One of the side-effects of this stuff is drowsiness,"

Scully said, putting the spoon away. "So you should get some

sleep."

 

Mulder wanted to open his mouth to protest. He really

did. But his eyelids weren't cooperating. Before he knew it,

he was sound asleep.

 

Holiday Inn

Dallas, Texas

9:55 a.m.

 

Scully was there when he woke up with that same blurry,

fuzzy, half-nauseous feeling he had woken up with the morning

before. He was slow in opening his eyes and even slower in

registering where he was.

 

"Hey, there. You awake now?" Scully asked gently.

 

He licked his lips. "Yeah," he said hoarsely.

 

Scully handed him a cup of water and aspirin and he

swallowed it. "You were half up a couple times. You called

me but when I came all you said was 'Stay here now'. Maybe....

five times last night. You didn't let me get much sleep,

Mister," she joked.

 

He shrugged and swallowed, grimacing. "Sorry."

 

A hand came up instinctively to his forehead. "You're

still pretty warm. How would you feel about another dose of

that cough syrup?"

 

"How would you feel about getting wacked over the

head with a two by four?"

 

"That bad? You drank it yesterday with no complaint....

seemed to do you good for a while."

 

"It was a suicide attempt," Mulder said blandly.

 

"Right. Didn't it taste like cherry??" Scully was

inspecting the bottle. "See, there's lotsa fun stuff in here....

some alcohol..., it didn't taste like cherry?"

 

"Earwax," Mulder said.

 

"Earwax," Scully repeated. "Really. Well that's

interesting. How 'bout another couple spoonfuls?"

 

Mulder whimpered. "Do I _have_ to??"

 

Scully eyed him. "It'll make you feel better. After

you drink this we'll see what we can do about getting you

something for the throat, too."

 

Mulder sighed. "What about the headache?"

 

"Um... aspirin?"

 

"Didn't I just have some of that?"

 

"Then what are you complaining for!? Here, just drink

this then you can have some water to wash out the taste."

Reluctantly, her partner opened his mouth and swallowed the

medicine. "There, that wasn't so bad." Scully smiled at him

and returned the cap to the bottle.

 

"Speak for yourself," he croaked and slid back into the

bed. "Can I get up now?"

 

{There's the Mulder I know.} Scully grinned.

 

"What's so funny? I wanna get up!" She kept laughing

so Mulder took the opportunity to sit up and slide out of

bed and was almost to the door when a firm hand pushed him

back on the bed.

 

"Mulder, you _know_ you can't go out."

 

"Fine." He scowled. "Fine, well can I work?"

 

"On _what_, do you suggest? I don't know if you've

noticed but we've reached a major stand-still on our case.

We're not gonna get anything done till you get better?"

 

"Why?"

 

"Because, we need to go check out the status on a

certain Mr. Michael Austin. Wait here a minute." Scully

went over to the dresser and returned with a photo of Michael

Austin the Rutherford Police had faxed her. She sat down on

the corner of Mulder's bed and waved the picture in front of

him. "Fox Mulder, meet Michael Austin. Fox, Michael, Michael,

Fox."

 

"Don't call me that," Mulder growled and took the

picture from her. He studied it closely, squinting against a

headache and trying to concentrate. "He looks familiar... did

we ever study his case or anything?"

 

"Nope," Scully said. She took the picture back and

replaced it in the folder. "Michael Austin is thirty-five years

old. He's been a suspect in several strangulation murders

around the Tri-state area but has never been convicted. Plus,

he always seems to conveniently disappear right after every

crime is committed. His fingerprints were found all over the

crime scene.... well, under first inspection they just found

some of Joanna Wasserman's and, of course, Sarah's own. After

the notorious "rope" was found, and they saw Michael Austin's

prints on it, they rechecked the crime scene and found at

least a dozen new sets of fingerprints: all Michael Austin's.

Here, look at this." Scully handed him a brief report the

Rutherford police had put together.

 

Mulder held it in front of his face, squinted, moved the

paper closer and further from his viewpoint but couldn't seem

to get the words to focus. He looked over at Scully for help

but she was busy reading another report. He looked back at

the paper, the words swimming before his eyes and, suddenly

feeling incredibly dizzy and nauseous, had to close his eyes.

 

Several minutes later, Scully looked back at her partner

and found him with his knees bent up to his chest, head

between his knees, eyes scrunched closed (from what she could

see), the report she had given him discarded to the side.

Feeling horrible she had left him with work when he couldn't

handle it, Scully began to hover; rubbing his back, trying to

get him to look up, begging him to tell her what was wrong.

 

"Leave me alone," he muttered between clenched teeth.

 

"What's the matter?? Mulder, talk to me!"

 

"Nothing," he said, his voice muffled from his current

position. "I just got a little nauseous reading the report."

 

Scully sighed, half in relief, half angry at herself

for letting him work. "_Trying_ to read you mean. You probably

didn't get anywhere. I don't know what I was thinking, I'm

really sorry, Mulder. I don't know what I was thinking,

you weren't ready for that." He hadn't moved and she was

wondering whether he was listening. "Mulder?"

 

Mulder heard his name being called but he was too tired

to answer. The exhaustion had crept up on him suddenly but he

couldn't figure it out. "Tired," he yelled, or maybe he

whispered, he wasn't quite sure at this point.

 

"I know," Scully said, rubbing his back. "It's that

cough medicine, it puts you to sleep. It's supposed to have

a 'side effect of drowsiness' but its particularly effective

on you, apparently. C'mere, lie down and sleep it off." She

helped him uncurl from his near fetal position, then pulled the

covers over him.

 

 

The Martins' Kitchen

Rutherford, NJ

11:56 a.m.

 

"Good morning to you too, sleepy head," Buster Martin

said when Katie finally stumbled downstairs close to noon.

 

Katie collapsed in a chair. "Coffee," she mumbled

under her breath. "Get me some coffee."

 

Her mother laughed. "Not yet, honey. When you turn

thirteen, okay?"

 

Katie mumbled something else incoherently then stood up

and turned towards the steps. "I'm going back to my room,"

she muttered.

 

Her parents looked up at her worriedly. "How late were

you up last night?" her mother asked.

 

"You don't even want to know."

 

Holiday Inn

Dallas, Texas

4:00 p.m.

 

"That's the man!!!!!!!"

 

Scully looked up from the case folder she had been

reading. She was beginning to seriously regret letting Mulder

work again. His temperature remained at a steady 102.9 but

he seemed able to function fairly well for the moment so

Scully left him alone.

 

"Scully, that's the man!" her partner repeated.

 

Scully let out a long sigh. "What man?"

 

"The man that... the..., oh, c'mon,you know. The man

that..." Mulder bit his lip in frustration and stared down

at his lap. "The man," he said again softly. "You know,

the _man_."

 

She sighed again and rubbed his back comfortingly. He

hadn't been able to remember several recent events and the

frustration apparent in his eyes almost made her cry.

"It's okay, Mulder, you'll think of it later."

 

"I guess so," he muttered. He took a deep breath and let

it out in slow intervals. "I'm gonna stop now."

 

"Okay," Scully said gently. She took the folders off

his lap and helped him lay down. Noticing he was squinting,

she shut off the light by the bed. "Does your head hurt?"

 

He nodded slowly and let his eyes drift shut.

 

Scully watched him drift off and picked up the folder

Mulder had been looking at. The picture of Michael Austin

fell out. Scully bent down and picked it up, Mulder's words

running through her mind. ("That's the man!")

 

{What man, Mulder?} she thought; her brow furrowed in

her own frustration. {Does he mean the man who killed Sarah?}

That would make sense, but she knew Mulder didn't mean that.

If he did, he would have remembered more clearly.

 

{Oh, well. Maybe he will remember later.} Deep down

she hoped he meant that Michael Austin was the killer. Then

they could get this case behind them. Hell, that night in

Florida was less stressful!

 

Rutherford, NJ

7:15 p.m.

 

{Thank God we had the day off today} Katie thought as she

rubbed her tired eyes. She had felt her parents prying eyes

on her all day and she was getting seriously annoyed. She

wished they would just leave her alone. But she didn't say

that. She had enough of wishing, for awhile at least.

 

I LIKED DAYS OFF, TOO. BUT MY PARENTS NEVER WORRIED

ABOUT ME. HOW DOES IT FEEL?

 

{Shitty.} Katie was grumpy, tired, and beginning to

worry about the FBI agents again.

 

Joanna picked up on this. DON'T WORRY THE FBI AGENTS

ARE STILL IN TEXAS. MULDER IS STILL SICK. THEY WILL BE

THERE A FEW DAYS AT LEAST. WHY AREN'T YOU HAPPY? YOU THE

CENTER OF YOUR PARENTS LIFE. THAT'S WHAT YOU WANTED,

RIGHT?

 

{Yeah,} Katie thought sadly, {But now I understand why

Sarah had to be so perfect. She _had_ to achieve her goals,

because my parents were _staring_ at her. She _had_ to be

perfect.}

 

Joanna was silent a minute. YOU'RE CRAZY. SHE WAS

PERFECT JUST CAUSE SHE WANTED TO PISS YOU OFF. SHE _WANTED_

TO BE THE APPLE OF HER PARENTS EYE. SHE _WANTED_ TO STEAL THE

SPOTLIGHT. SHE WANTED TO BE THE BEST, REGARDLESS OF HOW

SHE HURT YOU.

 

The way Joanna said those words, the bitterness she

used, caused Katie to get angry at Sarah. The pity she had

been feeling a minute ago disappeared, and

bitterness seemed to replace it.

 

{You're right! How dare she!}

 

THAT'S THE SPIRIT!

 

And with that, Katie stormed down into Sarah's room. It

was perfect, untouched since her death. The bed was made,

just the way Sarah made it each morning. The books lined her

book case, all alphabetized. Not on thing was on the floor.

Katie's parents hadn't touched the room since Sarah's death.

It was kept in the same way it had been when Sarah last left

it.

 

Katie stared at the room. The perfect bed. The perfect

books. The perfect floor. Suddenly Katie grew angry from it

all. She wanted to trash the room. She wanted to ruin the

perfect image her sister had left behind.

 

DO IT, Joanna coaxed.

 

That's all Katie needed. She suddenly went crazy. She

tore the covers off the bed. She threw all the books around

the room. She poured Sarah's nail polish on the nice neat

carpet. When she was done, she looked back in satifaction.

 

{Now where's the perfect image?} she thought with a

smile.

 

Dallas, Texas

Holiday Inn

6:45 p.m.

 

Mulder actually surprised Scully by eating something.

Not much but something. Scully was happy at least he had

eaten something.

 

Twenty minutes later, she was rubbing his back as he

threw it all back up. {Oh, well} she thought as she helped

him get back into bed.

 

"I can give you something to help the nausea," Scully

offered, after she had settled him into bed.

 

"No," Mulder said, almost shouting. "I don't need any

more shots."

 

Scully smiled at the fact he remembered the last shot.

Maybe things were looking up. He _did_ seem more lucid, and

his temp was 102.7. Still up there, but it seemed to be

slowly coming down. Still, he had a long way to go.

 

"It will calm your stomach," Scully coaxed and was

already going threw her bag. "You haven't even anything for

a long time, Mulder. You can't even seem to keep water down.

And if you do, as soon as you eat some food, it comes

right back up." Scully had gone into her "doctor-mode" and

Mulder sighed in frustration.

 

"I fall asleep from that stuff," he complained. "And

then I still feel fuzzy after I wake up."

 

Scully had already gotten the needle out, but put it

down to talk to him.

 

"Mulder, I know it does. But it's this or the hospital.

Take you pick."

 

Mulder groaned. "I guess you win."

 

"I usually do," Scully replied with a smile and picked

the needle back up.

 

Five minutes later Mulder was watching her threw

half-closed eyes, fighting to stay awake. He looked at Scully's

eyes and saw the dark circles under her eyes.

 

"Scully, you need some rest," he mumbled sleepily, and

hoped Scully understood him.

 

"I'm fine, Mulder," she replied as she retreated back

to her chair and sat down.

 

"No, you're not. If I told you I was fine, you'd be

telling me what a load of shit that is. So, don't the same

thing to me." Mulder sighed and closed his eyes.

 

"I won't," Scully said, and thinking Mulder was asleep,

went back to her chair. As soon as she sat down, Mulder's

eyes popped back open.

 

"Go sleep in the other room, Scully," he mumbled,

half-asleep, but well aware of what he was saying. "It's

more comfortable and I'm not going anywhere." He sleepily

raised both hands and showed her that he wasn't crossing his

fingers. "See? Scouts honor."

 

Scully got up and walked to him. She _was_ tired.

Maybe just one hour of sleep wouldn't hurt. "Ok, Mulder. I'll

go take a nap. But if you as much as walk one foot from this

bed, I will shoot you." She pointed to her gun, which

was on the table.

 

"Even if I have to use the john?" Mulder joked, and

closed his eyes again.

 

"Mulder, you leave this room and I will shoot you," she

clarified.

 

"I would have thought that shooting me would have bored

you by now," he teased, not opening his eyes.

 

"Mulder, nothing about you bores me," she said as she

slipped out the door.

 

Holiday Inn (Scully's room)

Dallas, Texas

6:45 a.m.

 

Scully woke up early but was surprised at how refreshed

she felt. She lay in bed, staring up at ceiling, her arms

crossed behind her head, just marveling how great she felt

after getting some sleep. It was a good thing Mulder had

convinced her to.... Mulder!

 

Scully bolted out of bed. He had convinced her to go to

bed, and had probably been plotting to ditch her again and she

had missed it because she was so tired.

 

"Damnit, Mulder, you'd better still be here." She pushed

open the conjoining door and marched into the room. "Mulder??"

Scully called. No one answered her. She moved closer and saw

he was indeed still there, out cold on the bed. Sighing and

laughing in relief, Scully didn't notice the folders strewn

around Mulder's bed or the fact that he was sitting up with

his glasses on in sleep until several minutes later.

 

"Mulder!!!"

 

Her partner physically jumped ten feet out of bed and

landed, squashing several files.

 

"You were working!" Scully accused, grabbing the folder

that had been in his hand from him.

 

Mulder ground his teeth. "You don't have to yell, I'm

right here."

 

"You were working," she said again for lack of a better

topic of conversation. {Jeez, Dana, he's probably got the

mother of all headaches from reading all this material and you

have no sympathy.} "You were working." Scully was starting to

feel rather stupid, plus she had become increasingly redundant

and unoriginal in a span of two minutes.

 

"Thanks for noticing." Mulder put his glasses on the

bedside table and, moving gingerly, got up and walked jerkily

toward the bathroom.

 

"Hey!" Scully called after him. "Hey, Mulder, get back

here, we weren't finished!" He didn't answer her. "You were

working!!!!!!" she yelled.

 

 

 

Katie Martin's Room

Rutherford, NJ

9:45 a.m.

 

Frustration got the best of Katie after twenty minutes

of talking to herself.

 

{Joanna, if you don't want to talk to me, would you just

say so, so we don't have to continue this pointless

conversation??}

 

Joanna sighed. LOOK, I'M SORRY. I'M JUST... THINKING.

ABOUT SOMETHING ELSE.

 

{What else do you possibly have to worry about; you're

dead, remember?}

 

YOU HAVE _NO IDEA_ WHAT I GO THROUGH EVERY DAY!!! Joanna

exploded. YOUR PARENTS _LOVE_ YOU. YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT IT'S

LIKE TO BE HATED BY YOUR PARENTS, TO... TO.... TO HAVE THEM

WANT YOU _DEAD_! YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT ITS LIKE TO BE DEAD.

Her voice had fallen to a low growl. YOU DON'T KNOW _ANYTHING_

ABOUT ME. I SPEND _MY_ TIME HELPING YOU, FIXING YOUR LIFE--

 

{Ruining my life you mean!}

 

I GOT RID OF SARAH, FREED YOU FROM BLAME WITH THOSE FBI

AGENTS AND... OH, ME?? DO _I_ GET ANY THANKS? ANY _CREDIT_?

NO! AND WHY DO I DO IT?? BEATS ME!

 

Katie, physically shaken, tried several times to summon

a retort but none came to mind. She fiddled with her fingers

and was silent for ten-- fifteen minutes before inquiring aloud

in a trembling voice, "Joanna?"

 

No answer.

 

"Joanna, I'm sorry! Please come back," Katie pleaded.

 

OKAY, OKAY, RELAX, I'M HERE. AND SHHHHH, DON'T TALK OUT

LOUD, YOU KNOW YOUR PARENTS ALREADY THINK YOU'RE BONKERS.

LISTEN, I'M NOT MAD AT YOU AND... I'M SORRY. BUT I REALLY NEED

TO BE SOMEWHERE. I CAN'T EXPLAIN IT BUT I... I NEED

TO CONTACT SOMEBODY

 

{Michael Austin?}

 

There was a pause, then, NO. SOMEONE ELSE. I'LL... I'LL

EXPLAIN LATER. ANOTHER TIME. I... I GOTTA GO, BYE

 

Katie emitted a long sigh and stared at the silent walls.

 

 

 

Place Unknown

Time Unknown

 

MO-- MOM?

 

Mrs. Wasserman jumped at the sound of the voice, so

familiar to her ears but somehow, so odd, like a foreign

language. She stood up slowly, glancing warily around her.

"Joanna, sweetie?"

 

A choked voice responded. YES MOMMY

 

Mrs. Wasserman gasped. "Oh my God, sweetie, where are

you? Honey, honey, where are you?" She yelled frantically.

 

MOM, STOP. CALM DOWN, IT'S OKAY. I'M... I'M NOT HERE.

WELL, I'M NOT _PHYSICALLY_ THERE BUT... OH MOM! DON'T BE

SCARED, I JUST WANT TO TALK TO YOU!

 

Joanna's mother cowered back. "Okay baby," she said

softly.

 

MOM... I JUST WANT TO KNOW... ONE THING. ONE THING...

OH, MOM, DID YOU _WANT_ ME TO DIE???

 

Tears sprang to Mrs. Wasserman's eyes. "Of course not,

baby. You know how you... died." The conversation was

obviously an odd one and explaining to your daughter how she

died was not a usual topic of discussion.

 

YEAH, I KNOW HOW I DIED. HIT AND RUN-- RUTHERFORD, NEW

JERSEY. BUT... BUT... WAS IT... _PLANNED_? Her mother burst

into tears. I'M SORRY, MOM, I'M SO SORRY BUT I NEED TO KNOW.

ALL THESE YEARS..... ALL THESE YEARS I NEVER KNEW.... DID YOU

LOVE ME, MOM? DID YOU EVER LOVE ME OR DID YOU WANT TO KILL

ME? I KNOW I WAS BAD, I'M SO SORRY I WAS BAD, BUT DID YOU WANT

TO KILL ME.

 

"How could you ask such a question??" Mrs. Wasserman

said, but her voice was unsteady.

 

MOM....?

 

An awkward silence filled the room until Mrs. Wasserman

whispered, "It was your father."

 

Joanna gasped. DAD?

 

"Yes, sweetie, your father... he, he belonged to a....

a group, years ago."

 

WHAT GROUP? Joanna prodded.

 

Mrs. Wasserman took a deep breath. "A group that was...

well, almost a _cult_ sort of group. Several people, all men

actually, would meet Saturday mornings--"

 

WHEN HE WENT TO THE GYM

 

"Yes, that's what he told us, wasn't it? He went to the

gym... actually, I found out later, he went to a man named

Oliver Wright's house and they had... meetings. About what,

I don't actually know. But... this group didn't believe in....

in children. I can't explain it. They... they didn't allow

any of the group member's wives have children. When I was

pregnant with you I was so happy, sweetie, I was SO happy.

But your father wasn't pleased and I just couldn't understand

it! He never spent time with you and if I asked him to watch

you, for two-- three minutes, he'd refuse, saying he had to do

something else. And," Mrs. Wasserman paused to take a shaky

breath. "When you were three, he told me about this group.

He-- he said you'd have to be..." she breathed the last word,

"killed. Now I wouldn't let him do this of course! I filed

for a divorce, I was scared to death of him by then, but your

father was a very, very powerful man, he had _connections_ and

he didn't want the divorce because of course he wouldn't be able

to get to you and...., you know. So with nothing else I could

do, I never took my eyes off of you. This went on for years

and years and... finally, I thought your father had left the

group because he had become more relaxed and didn't disappear

Saturday mornings, anymore. And then..... then we went on that

vacation in Rutherford, remember? And it was so nice, we were

all getting along so well and then...., and then, the accident

happened. And I swear, I saw your father's face, as you were

being... h- hit. And he was.... he was _smiling_."

 

Joanna was silent.

 

"Sweetheart, are you still there?"

 

YEAH. MOM, WHAT HAPPENED TO DAD?

 

Mrs. Wasserman closed her eyes. "I just don't know."

 

Dallas, Texas

Holiday Inn

6:47 a.m.

 

"You were working," Scully hissed again as she followed

her partner into the bathroom.

 

"I think we have established that," he answered, and just

as she reached the door, he shut it in her face. "Can I have

some privacy?"

 

Scully sighed. "Fine, Mulder. But we are going to

discuss this."

 

"Sure. Fine. Whatever."

 

Scully ignored that comment and went back to the bed and

looked at the mess of folders Mulder had created. Although she

was majorly ticked at him for getting up to work, she was glad

he seemed to be feeling better. His cheeks looked a little

less flushed and he didn't seem to sway when he walked, as he

had been doing before.

 

She busied herself cleaning up the files when a piece of

paper fell out. Written in Mulder's handwriting, she knew it

was another one of his case notes.

Mrs. Wasserman was distant at interview. Seemed to

show love for Joanna and even teared at the mention of her

name. Mr. Wasserman? Divorce petitioned in

1983. Why?.....

 

{Divorce?} Scully glanced at Mulder's notes puzzled. The

impression of Mrs. Wasserman Scully had perceived had been

different. Then she remembered the softer tone she was greeted

with when she first arrived in Dallas. {Come to

think of it........I never _did_ talk Mr. Wasserman......}

 

Scully was so involved in reading Mulder's notes she

didn't realize how much time had gone by. When she finally

looked up, she realized she had spent over 20 minutes reading

Mulder's notes. She frowned when she realized he hadn't

even come out of the bathroom yet. She walked over to the

door and knocked on it softly.

 

"Mulder?" No response. She knocked louder this time.

"Mulder?" Once again she got no response. Suddenly she got

very worried. "Mulder, I'm coming in."

 

She found him sitting in the corner, a confused look on

his face. As she approached him, he smiled sheepishly. "Hi,

Scully," he said casually.

 

"Mulder, I knock on the door twice, you don't answer and

now you say " 'Hi Scully'!" Scully didn't mean to shout, but

she must have, because Mulder winced.

 

"Jeez, Scully. I didn't hear you I guess," he replied

weakly.

 

Scully sighed and sat down next to him. She put her hand

on his forehand, and he didn't even turn to look at her.

 

"Mulder, you don't feel any warmer. But you're not any

cooler, either. How did you end up on the floor?" She

looked at him with her medical eye.

 

Mulder swallowed sluggishly and turned to her. "I guess

I got a little dizzy," he admitted.

 

Scully frowned. "Why didn't you call me?"

 

" 'Cause." Mulder sighed and started to pull himself up,

but stumbled back when another dizzy spell hit.

 

"Mulder, stay down. I'll help you." Scully offered him

a hand up and he took it. Then Scully helped him ease slowly

up, put her arm around him and helped him back to bed. Once

he was tucked safely in, she sat on the edge.

 

"Mulder, I have to go back to New Jersey tonight. I

talked to Skinner and hopefully I can tie up the loose ends

of the case there. You are _nowhere_ near 100%, so-"

 

Mulder cut off her off, knowing what she was going to

say. "Scully, I don't want to be in a hospital, either here

or in DC, understand?"

 

"Mulder, you're _sick_. You are _dehrydrated_. Whether

you like it or not-"

 

"I've been getting better. Even you know that. Just

let me go back with you to Jersey, Scully. I have a theory

about this case. And it sure as hell doesn't involve Michael

Austin."

 

"Oh?" Scully raised an eyebrow. "And this theory

would be....?"

 

"What if Joanna could be communicating with Katie?"

His face was serious.

 

"Communicating?" Scully raised in eyebrow in total

disbelief.

 

"Telepathically almost. A communication that exists

only between Joanna and Katie. Maybe for some reason

Joanna has a link to Katie. A common bond that allows her

to communicate with Katie."

 

"A communication bond? Mulder, even if that was true,

and I am _not_ saying it is true, how does Sarah Martin's

death tie in to all of this?"

 

"Well, you did tell me you talked to Katie Martin. She

said she wished her sister dead. What if Joanna made her

wish come true?"

 

"Mulder, that's-"

 

"It's not crazy, Scully. Think about all the trouble

Joanna caused during her life. She could have some way of

being able to-" Mulder's sentence was cut off by a fit of

coughing. Scully got up and picked up the cough medicine off

the dresser.

 

"Mulder, wishes can't come true, just at the snap of a

finger. Even if that power did exist, why would a twelve-year-

old girl possess it?"

 

"Maybe she needed it." Scully sighed and picked up a

spoon off of the nightstand.

 

"Do I _really_ have to take that stuff?" Mulder whined.

 

"Mulder, you sound like my nephew trying to get out of

bedtime." She smiled. "And yes, you have to take it.

Especially if you plan on accompanying me back to New Jersey."

 

"Remind me never to get sick on a case again," Mulder

mumbled after he was spoon-fed his medicine.

 

"I keep trying, Mulder, but you never seem to listen to

me."

 

"Hurt and sick are two different things, Scully."

 

"Well, they both send your insurance premium and our

expense account ski-high. I don't know about you, but I am

not looking forward to writing my report for Skinner."

 

"Me neither." Mulder closed his eyes in a grimace. "I

think I'm going to write a letter to the manufacturer of

that cough syrup."

 

Scully smiled. "It's not that bad."

 

"Yes it is." He opened his eyes, yawned and sighed.

"And _something_ has to be done about this drowsy thing."

 

"You could use some more sleep anyway."

 

"I _slept_ all day yesterday!"

 

"So?" Scully said with a grin.

 

"I take it you aren't impressed by my theory?"

 

"Mulder, I'm impressed with the fact that you can keep

coming up with stranger theories every time we have a case."

The smile stayed on her face.

 

"My theory isn't that strange," Mulder protested and

yawned again.

 

"No, it's definitely not as strange as some of your

others," Scully agreed and tucked the blankets around him

again. "You're falling asleep. We can discuss your theories

later."

 

"And go back to Jersey," Mulder said, closing his eyes.

 

"Maybe," Scully said as she got off the bed.

 

Rutherford, NJ

11:30 a.m.

 

Katie walked the sidewalks and past the playground,

where she could faintly hear chants of "Thank God for Teacher

Strikes!" {Yes, thank God for teacher strikes} she agreed.

It gave her the time to talk to Joanna, and to roam the

streets with her thoughts. She was so involved in her thinking

she didn't realize she had walked right past the graveyard.

 

She stopped dead in her tracks, when a flower petal

blew past her feet. She looked up and saw the gates to the

graveyard open.

 

Maybe it was curiosity that got the better of her. Maybe

it was guilt. But whatever it was, Katie soon found herself

in the middle of the graveyard standing in front of a newly

erected headstone.

 

"Sarah Ann Martin. 1984-1998," she read softly. "May

she rest in heaven above." Tears rolled down Katie's cheeks.

She had to get out of there. She ran as fast as her little

legs could carry her and didn't stop until she was

far away from the graveyard.

 

Holiday Inn

Dallas, Texas

5:48 p.m.

 

Someone was shaking him but opening his eyes just wasn't

his first priority at the moment. Sleeping, however, was.

Mulder wasn't quite sure where or even _when_ he was but he

figured he was on a long case somewhere, maybe working for

Patterson, and hadn't slept in days and days and was maybe in the

back of a car somewhere, passed out. He sure felt bad enough

for it to be that.

 

"Mulder, wake _up_." A voice from somewhere in the

distance was trying to get through to him. "C'mon, wake up,

now. It's time to wake up, Mulder."

 

Argghhh! The damn voice was ruining all of his plans!

"I'll do it later," he mumbled and rolled over in an attempt to

escape it.

 

"Mulder! There you are... c'mon, get up, we're going

to New Jersey."

 

Mulder jumped up. "New Jersey?" he asked hoarsely.

 

"Yeah. I got tickets. Phew, I was wondering if you

were ever going to get up. It's my fault, really, I'm sorry.

I gave you a little too much cough syrup, even though I know

you don't respond well to it. Well, think of it this way,

you're not coughing anymore, right?!" Scully was so relieved

he was awake that it took her several seconds to realize she

was rambling.

 

Mulder sat up, and, not wanting to ruin his partner's

great mood, suppressed a cough. The sudden movement made him

dizzy and he squeezed his eyes shut. "Scully, could you get me

a cup of water please?"

 

"Yeah, sure." She studied him. "We have an eight

o'clock flight to Newark, okay, so you should probably take a

shower and change your clothes." Scully wrinkled her nose

and then went to the bathroom and returned with the water.

 

"Thanks," Mulder said. He drained the glass, feeling

extremely thirsty suddenly, and stood up. Walking to the

bathroom made him dizzy and he was glad Scully was facing the

other way and not watching his every move like she usually did.

Come to think of it, why _was_ she acting like this?

Strange....

 

Mulder turned the shower on cold, then stepped in.

A long shudder ran through him, but he knew the cold would

wake him up well, and he needed it; the lasting effects of

that damn cough syrup making him fuzzy.

 

 

Katie Martin's Room

Rutherford, NJ

7:53 p.m.

 

Katie had memorized the number. She pushed it in with

shaky fingers and her heart pounded with the throbbing buzz

of the phone.

 

"Dana Scully," a cheerful voice answered.

 

"Yeah, uh, this is Katie. Katie Martin."

 

"Oh, hi Katie!" Scully's mood perplexed Katie. She'd

never known the agent to be so.... _happy_. "We were just

coming to visit you."

 

"Agent Mulder's better??" Katie was relieved beyond

belief.

 

"Well, yes, he's feeling a little bit better, thank you.

I'll tell him you were concerned."

 

"Oh, no, no," Katie said too quickly. "Uh, no, don't.

I don't want him to..... just, don't please."

 

"Um, all right. So, why did you call?"

 

{Oh damn,} Katie thought. {Why _did_ I call?} "Um,

I was just wondering when you're coming to look at the rope."

 

"That's why we're coming up. We have an 8 o'clock

flight..." Sensing something else was up, Scully said, "Do you

want us to stop by your house in the morning? Anything you

want to talk about?"

 

"Um.... no. But..... well." Katie stared intently at

the walls. {Joanna, if you're here, now would be a really

good time to say something.}

 

I'M HERE, she said softly.

 

{Is there something you want to tell the FBI Agents?}

 

I... I DON'T KNOW.

 

{Well, I think you should,} she said gently. {We can

talk to whichever one you want, and... and they'll listen and

fix everything.}

 

"Katie? KATIE?" Agent Scully was saying.

 

"Yeah, I'm here. Uh, there's someone I want you to

talk to. Her name is Joanna Wasserman." Katie added quietly

after a minute, "She's a really good friend of mine."

 

 

Holiday Inn

Dallas, Texas

6:17 p.m.

 

"MULDER!"

 

Mulder just about jumped ten feet which, while in the

shower, is _not_ a fun, or safe, thing to do. "What?" he

asked meekly. He had no idea how long he'd been in the shower.

The rhythm of the cold water on his back had somehow lulled

him into a trance-like state; but with the sharp needles of

cold he felt now, he couldn't figure out how.

 

"Mulder, you were right!"

 

He was _freezing_!!! He briefly heard something about

being right but that dissolved when the shivering overtook him

and he slid down to the floor of the shower, wanting to turn

off the water, to get out, but unable to move.

 

"Mulder.... what are you doing in there?"

 

Mulder managed to lunge for the knob and turn off the

water but the cold air on his skin wasn't much better.

"No-o-o-thing," Between chattering teeth.

 

"You coming out?" He could hear she was right by the

door now and the last thing he wanted was for her to come in.

He knew he'd never hear the end of it; taking a freezing shower

in the middle of December. Putting forth all his strength, he

managed to step out of the shower, grab a towel and more or less

get it around himself before collapsing onto the shower ledge.

Safely sitting, Mulder put his head in his hands and closed

his eyes. {Why did I take that cold shower again?? Oh yeah,

I remember. To get rid of the fuzzy feeling. Then why is

it still here??} Mulder sat up and considered it. {Well,

It's a _little_ better. Guess I'd better get dressed before

Scully barges in.}

 

"Mulder, would you hurry up?? We're gonna miss our

flight!" Outside the bathroom door, Scully was getting impatient.

 

Mulder almost began sobbing for all the anguish he

was in. He felt sick, he had just taken an ice cold shower

(big mistake!) and all his partner wanted to talk about was

the flight they were going to miss because of him! Angrily, he

threw on his clothes and stormed out.

 

"Fine, I'm ready," he said, trying to sound stern, but

sounding pathetic with his hoarse, cracking voice.

 

Scully looked up and grinned when he came out. "Katie

wants us to come. She wants us to talk to Joanna."

 

 

Katie Martin's Room

Rutherford, NJ

8:17 p.m.

 

BUT I'M NOT TALKING TO THE LADY AGENT. SHE WOULDN'T

BELIEVE US

 

Katie sighed for the hundredth time in three and a half

minutes. {Okay, fine. We'll talk to Mulder. But remember,

he's still sick. BE NICE.}

 

I WILL, I WILL

 

In the awkward silence, Katie thought back to when

Joanna had disappeared yesterday, claiming she had some

business to tend to. {Hey, Joanna. You okay? I mean...

after yesterday?}

 

YEAH.

 

{What'd you do yesterday?} She added, { I won't tell

anyone.}

 

NOTHING. LOOK, I'LL TELL YOU SOME OTHER TIME, OKAY.

Looking to change the subject quickly, she said, WHAT TIME'S

THE AGENTS' FLIGHT?

 

{Eight. The lady said they'd come in the morning.}

 

FINE. ALL RIGHT, FINE. BUT I'M _NOT_ TALKING TO THE

LADY. SHE'LL JUST LAUGH AT YOU. I DON'T WANT THAT

 

{Okay, okay. Relax, we'll keep her downstairs with my

parents.}

 

Airport

7:45 p.m.

 

"Flight 452 to Newark now boarding at Gate 32. Flight

452 to Newark now boarding at Gate 32."

 

Mulder closed his eyes and wished that they would just

shut up. He had to run to the gate, with Scully practically

pulling him the whole way, and now he had to listen to the damn

loudspeaker over and over. He was definitely _not_ liking this.

 

Scully grabbed her bag and his. "Come on, Mulder.

We're boarding." She smiled brightly and offered him a hand

up. He took it gratefully.

 

He tried to push the still invading fuzziness out of

his head as Scully handed their tickets in. He followed

her silently into the plane and sighed with relief when they

reached their seats. He plopped down with content.

 

Scully put her things in the overhead, then joined him,

that cheerful smile still painted on her face.

 

"Well, Mulder, I think you are on the right track. Katie

called and wants us to meet a Joanna Wesserman."

 

The words "Katie" and "Joanna Wesserman" seemed to push

through his tired and fogged mind. "She did?" he said lamely,

interested, but not really as coherent as he wished he was.

 

Scully nodded. "I don't know what going on here,

Mulder, but I think we are going to find out."

 

All Mulder could do was nod in return. Scully eyed him

strangely, but brushing it off as effects from that cough syrup

she settled into her seat. The flight attendant came by then,

a perky blond with a great smile. {And a pair of "eyes"

to match} Scully thought silently and looked at Mulder for his

response, remembering the initial flight to New Jersey.

 

"Are you all right, sir?" the flight attendant asked,

looking a bit concerned.

 

Scully braced herself for a "Mulder line", but was

surprised by his reaction.

 

"I'm fine. Just tired," he replied and didn't even

look in the direction of the flight attendant. The blond cast

him a look of disbelief and walked away. For the first time in

2 hours, Scully's smile faded. She put a hand on Mulder's arm.

 

"Are you okay?" she asked, a tiny bit of worry to her

voice.

 

Mulder gave her a small smile. "I'm fine, Scully. Just

that cough medicine. I really am going to write a letter," he

joked weakly.

 

"You sure?" Scully sounded doubtful and Mulder prayed

she would pull all that "doctor" crap here.

 

"Yes."

 

"Ok," she replied and reached for the files she had

left at her feet. Before Mulder could say anything else, the

seat belt sign flashed on and take off began. Mulder watched

Scully grip her seat, as she did on every flight. He gave her

another smile, wishing he had enough energy to divert her

attention. So instead he just placed his hand over hers. She

looked down at his hand and their eyes met.

 

"Thanks," she whispered. Mulder opened his mouth to

say "you're welcome" but was interrupted by a flight attendant.

 

{This is going to be a long flight} he thought as he

closed his eyes and tried to push the feeling of dizziness aside.

 

Rutherford, NJ

10:00 p.m.

 

{What are we going to say tomorrow?}

 

Katie was pacing back and forth in her bedroom. She had

walked around the room so many times, she won't be surprised if

she worn the rug straight through.

 

DON'T WORRY. WE SET MULDER STRAIGHT AND ALL OF OUR

PROBLEMS GO AWAY.

 

{Go away? Is Michael Austin still going to be held

responsible for Sarah's murder?}

 

DON'T SAY MURDER! IT WASN'T A MURDER! IT WAS AN

"ACCIDENT."

 

{Sorry but I watch Judge Judy. That _doesn't_ work.}

 

IT WILL TRUST ME.

 

{Trust you? Why am I not comforted by that statement?}

 

DON'T WORRY. I'LL TAKE CARE OF EVERYTHING. WE JUST SAY

HOW WE COMMUNICATE AND I THINK MULDER WILL UNDERSTAND BY THEN.

 

{Understand what?}

 

UNDERSTAND OUR POSITION. WE TELL HIM THAT WE "SAW"

MICHAEL AUSTIN DO IT. THAT HE IS CONNECTED IN "MY DEATH."

 

{But that's not true!}

 

OF COURSE IT'S NOT, BUT I CAN'T FIND THE REAL PERSON TO

BLAME IN MY DEATH. IF WE SAY IT WAS MICHAEL AUSTIN, WE SAVE

THE CASE AND OUR BEHINDS.

 

A vision of the graveyard popped into Katie's mind. She

suddenly had a _very_ bad feeling about this.

 

Newark, NJ

2:37 a.m.

 

The last thing that Mulder wanted was to be walking

through an airport at 2:30 in the morning. He had slept

through the whole flight and Scully had to awaken him for the

landing. He was miserable. Scully seemed to still be cheerful,

but she kept glancing at him every time she thought he wasn't

looking. But he was.

 

After another hour of picking up luggage, renting a

car, and renting a motel room (the same ones they had rented

before, concidently), Mulder was eternally grateful when he

finally entered the room and popped down on the bed. Everything

seemed to catch up with him then, and he broke into a long

string of coughs.

 

Scully had entered her room, but as soon as she

heard Mulder coughing, she appeared the doorway between the

two rooms, a pronounced frown on her face. She looked for

a minute than turned back into her room.

 

{What?...} Mulder thought as he watched Scully

walk out. Maybe she was going to leave him alone. Yes! With

a small smile on his face, he let his head sink into the

pillow, and enjoyed the quiet.

 

He had closed his eyes and was on his way to

sleep, when he felt a cool hand on his forehead. {Scully}

he thought sleepily and shifted onto his side, pulling away

from Scully's hand. Then he felt cold plastic in his ear and

opened his eyes to find Scully's concerned blue eyes gazing

into his.

 

The thermometer beeped and Scully pulled it

from his ear. She frowned again, though it wasn't as bad as

the frown she had given him in the doorway. Mulder turned

his head so that he was staring at the ceiling.

 

"So what's verdict, Dr. Scully? Am I hot

enough for you?" he asked with a smile, then a grimace as he

jerked his head in her direction.

 

"103.1," she answered, ignoring his joke.

"That's up from a few hours ago." She shook her head and

sighed. "Mulder, why didn't you tell me you were feeling this

bad?"

 

"Because I didn't want to dragged off to the

nearest hospital," he answered truthfully.

 

"Fair enough, Mulder. But I want to know when

you're feeling sick. You're my partner. I care about you."

She sat next to him on the bed and pushed some hair off his

forehead. Mulder closed his eyes and just concentrated on her

touch. It felt so good to be touched by her. If he wasn't

feeling so shitty right now, he might have jumped her, so to

speak. God knows he wanted to. He really wanted to. But he

was the sick one here, so he just settled deeper into the

pillow, Scully's hands still on his forehead.

 

"I'm tired," he mumbled, knowing he was

avoiding her concerns. She did too and backed away.

 

"I know you are. But I want you to take

something, Mulder. We have an interview tomorrow with Katie

Martin, and I don't think you want me leaving you here." She

got up off the bed and walked to the dresser, where she had

placed her medical bag. She rummaged through it and, after

ducking into the bathroom, returned with two pills and a

glass of water. Mulder had managed to doze off in the two

minutes she was gone, so she shook him gently and placed

the pills into his hand.

 

"I need you to take these," she said and handed

him the glass of water.

 

Mulder blinked sleepily, but sat up. The room

turned at dizzying speeds for him and Scully had to steady his

shoulders. He then grimaced, swallowed both pills, and drank

half the water. Scully tried to urge him to drink more, but

he refused and fell back, exhausted. She then turned out the

light and walked into her room. she thought {because for some

reason I don't want to face Katie alone.}

 

Mulder's Room

Rutherford, NJ

9:45 a.m.

 

The light hurt his eyes.

 

"Mulder. Mulder, wake up, we're running late."

 

The situation was familiar: his partner waking him up and

him wanting nothing more than to whack her with a pillow and

go back to sleep. But there was something different this

time....

 

"We're running late, Mulder," Scully said again.

 

{Late. The Martin's. JOANNA.}

 

Mulder jumped up, wincing at the pain in his head. "What

time is is?"

 

Scully was relieved that her partner was back among the

living. The thought of going in there alone scared her to

death. "Nine forty-five. Get a move on, partner."

 

He groaned loudly, realizing then that Joanna wasn't

going to come to him, the meeting would require getting out of

bed and getting dressed and possibly forcing a brush through

his hair on his part. Slowly, he swung his legs over the side

of the bed and sat for a moment, leaning forward, palms pressed

into his eyes. Then, with a sudden energy he didn't really

have, he jumped up, grabbed a suit off the top of his suitcase

and hurried into the bathroom to get changed.

 

Scully stared at the closed bathroom door for a few

seconds, then dropped down on Mulder's bed, careful not to

wrinkle her own pants suit. She'd woken up around seven and

had been showered and ready by seven forty five, but the

prospect of waking her exhausted partner was more than she

could bear. He looked so tired, she felt bad dragging him

along, but she knew he'd kill her if she didn't let him speak

to Joanna. Speak to Joanna..... thinking it over, Scully

realized how unrealistic speaking to "Joanna" was. How exactly

were they going to do it?

 

Deciding to push aside her worries on Joanna, she pushed

her mind to the task at hand. Getting her partner in

condition to interrogate, sorry, _talk to_, Joanna.

 

"Mulder?" Scully stood and walked over to the

bathroom. She leaned her ear against the door, feeling the

cold, smooth paint on her cheek. "You okay in there?"

 

He groaned. "Okay." There was a pause then he said,

"Scully, could you come in here please?"

 

Scully opened the door and entered. She saw Mulder

sitting on the toilet, the seat down, head in hands.

Moving quickly across the small bathroom, she dropped

onto the tub's ledge and pushed aside his hands to lay

her own across his forehead.

 

"Damnit Mulder, you're hot." She let out a long

sigh when her comment was followed by no smart alec rebuke.

"Okay. Okay, Mulder, if you want to talk to Joanna we

need to pump you full of drugs first."

 

He looked up and gave her a pathetic grin.

 

The Martin's Living Room

Rutherford, NJ

10:30 a.m.

Mulder sniffled for the thirtieth time that minute and

Scully turned harshly to him.

 

"Could you just try to sound a _little_ sicker?? At

this point they probably won't let us see Katie at all;

they'll be worried she'll catch whatever horrible illness

you have." She felt sorry as soon as she said it, and didn't

miss the look of hurt on his face. She knew he was trying

extremely hard to keep his head up (missing _this_ opportunity

would be like.... well it wouldn't be a good thing) and her

yelling at him wasn't going to make him feel any better.

Scully patted his hand. "I'm sorry," she said gently.

"Let's get this over with and then we'll get you back to

the hotel and you can get some sleep."

 

"Promises, promises," he said hoarsely. Mrs. Martin

came back with two lemonades in hand.

 

"Here you go." She smiled as she gave one glass to

each of the agents.

 

"Thank you, Mrs. Martin," Scully said. "We're in town

to check out the results on the piece of rope Katie found,

but she also mentioned she'd like to, uh," Scully glanced at

her partner and he nodded. "She'd like to talk to

us."

 

Mrs. Martin shook her head. "Yes, I know that. Very,

very well." She laughed. "Katie hasn't talked about

anything _else_ all week. She's up in her room, she said

she wants to talk to you there." Then, as if suddenly

remembering something, Mrs. Martin stood up. "Agent Scully,

may I talk to you about something in the kitchen, please?

Katie said it would be all right if just Agent Mulder spoke

with her because she knew I needed to talk to you." Mrs.

Martin realized she sounded rather idiotic but it was the most

polite way she could think of to tell Agent Scully that

Katie only wanted to speak to her partner and not her.

_Now_ if she could only think of something to talk about

to Agent Scully it would work!

 

Mulder rose slowly and Mrs. Martin saw how unsteady he

was on his feet. "Okay, I'll go see her now..."

 

"Up the stairs and first door on your right," Mrs.

Martin said.

 

"Thanks," Mulder managed a weak smile and started up

the stairs.

 

"Agent Scully, could you come into the kitchen please

so we could talk in private?"

 

 

The Kitchen

Rutherford, NJ

10:39 a.m.

 

The move to the kitchen was a stall mechanism and

nothing more. Mrs. Martin had no _idea_ what to say to

Agent Scully but she certainly didn't want to be rude, what

with all these agents were doing to solve her daughter's murder

case.... Mrs. Martin shuddered at the thought of it. Plus,

with her partner sick, the poor woman must have so much on

her mind. {And I'm sure telling her that my daughter doesn't

want to talk to her will just make her day.}

 

"Agent Scully," Mrs. Martin said finally.

 

"Dana... please." The agent gave tired smile. "If you

don't mind, I'd like to be on a first name basis with

someone for once."

 

"That's fine. And its Christina. Now, I was wondering

about your partner--"

 

"Oh, we just call him Mulder." Dana told her. "He

doesn't like his first name."

 

Christina smiled. "Okay, but what I was wondering was,

how is he doing? I remember when you first came to visit us

he was terribly sick-- he passed out if I remember correctly,

and had to be driven to the hospital-- and it doesn't seem as

if he's getting much better. Do you know what's the matter?"

 

Dana sighed. "It's as much a mystery to me as it is to

you. He hasn't been feeling well since... soon after we

started the case. Mulder is just, well, just cursed with

bad luck and he gets hurt on almost every case, but never

anything this long or persistent. He was in a hospital for

a while, weeks and weeks ago, but nothing the doctor's tried

made him better. He seems to be feeling a little better each

day but unfortunately the plane ride didn't do him much good

and he had a bad reaction to some medicine the other day so

he's not doing too well."

 

Christina was shaking her head. "Poor guy, what a

shame. I'm sorry, I hope he feels better soon."

 

"Yeah, well, so do I." Scully smiled. "Is that what

you wanted to talk to me about?"

 

{Was it??} "Yes."

 

 

Katie's room

Rutherford, NJ

10:39 a.m.

 

"Hi Katie," Agent Mulder said when he entered the room.

 

Katie was lying on her stomach on the floor, playing

solitaire. "Hey. Um, I need to talk to you." She sat up

and turned around to face him, while motioning for him to

take a seat on the bed. Mulder complied and she added,

"Actually, my friend needs to talk to you." {Is this gonna

work?}

 

YES

 

{I hope it does! I just want this whole thing to

disappear, I'm so sick of it all.}

 

TO TELL YOU THE TRUTH, KATIE, ME TOO

 

"Okay, what you need to do is concentrate really

hard," Katie told Mulder. "You're gonna hear a voice talking

to you, like it's inside your head or something. When

you want to answer back, DON'T TALK OUT LOUD. _Think_ what

you want to say. She'll hear it."

 

Mulder smiled a little, half-amused, half-befuddled.

"Who'll hear it?"

 

ME

 

Katie saw him jump. "Remember what I said, just talk

back to her in your head," she said softly.

 

{Who is me?} Mulder thought.

 

GUESS. I THINK YOU KNOW

 

{Well, I'm not so sure about that. Uh, wanna humor me

and just tell me? As much as I'd like to, we don't really

have time for Twenty Questions.}

 

C'MON. I'LL GIVE YOU THREE GUESSES. JUST TELL ME WHO

YOU THINK I AM... JUST GUESS

 

{Joanna} Mulder thought.

 

The Kitchen

Rutherford, NJ

10:49 a.m.

 

Mrs. Martin had been babbling for the last ten minutes

and Scully was getting annoyed. After she had brought up the

subject of Mulder, she launched into other subjects, including

her concern for Katie. Scully keep looking for a way out, but

was finding none. She endured another ten minutes of talking,

then decided she had had it and she wanted desperately wanted

to catch up with Mulder.

 

"Um, can you direct me to your bathroom?" Scully asked

innocently, hoping the question would buy her freedom from

this conversation.

 

Mrs. Martin seemed to think about it for a minute,

almost as if she didn't want to tell her where the bathroom

was. Finally she said, "First door at the top the

stairs. You can't miss it."

 

Scully thanked her and breathed a sigh of relief as

she climbed the stairs. Realizing she really _did_ have to

make a stop in the bathroom, she found it and closed the door.

A few minutes later, she was washing her hands, when she

could hear voices from Katie's room.

 

"Really?" Mulder's voice was doubtful.

 

"Think, don't say it!" Katie's voice sounded worried.

Scully quickly placed the hand towel back to it's place on

the sink and peered out the bathroom door and glanced toward

Katie's room. She started to walk toward it when Mrs.

Martin blocked her path.

 

"Dana, how strange do you think someone can act?" Mrs.

Martin asked and steered Scully away from Katie's room with

those words.

 

"Depends on what you think strange is," Scully replied

with a hint of a smile. Mrs. Martin walked down the stairs

and Scully followed her out of

curiosity.

 

"As in the behavior of a twelve-year-old girl." At

first Scully thought this may be a ploy to get her away

from Katie's room, but she saw the serious look in the other

woman's eyes. A look that resembled fear, but not quite. Scully

couldn't pinpoint Christina's exact emotion but it sent a

chill down her spine. {Of course she could be afraid. She

loses one daughter and the other seems to go nuts. Claiming

to "know" Joanna.} This case was getting stranger and stranger.

As much as Scully wanted to go up into that bedroom, she knew

she needed to ask Mrs. Martin a few more questions first.

 

Katie's room

10:58 a.m.

 

"Really?" Mulder said aloud, doubt all over his voice.

His illness shifted to the back of his mind. He doubted

that Michael Austin was responsible for Sarah's death, let

alone Joanna's.

 

"Think, don't say it!" Katie said, afraid that Agent

Scully would hear him from downstairs.

 

{I don't know if believe you} Mulder thought and

glared at the walls.

 

AGENT MULDER, I DON'T LIE. I SAID HE WAS RESPONSIBLE,

AND HE IS. LOOK AT THE EVIDENCE, EVEN IT POINTS TO HIM.

YOU CAN'T DENY THAT.

 

{Evidence isn't always right. In my line of work, you

pick that up on the first day} Mulder argued. His head still

throbbed and his was certain Joanna was hiding something. And

why wasn't Scully up here?

 

AGENT MULDER, HE _DID_ IT! YOU HAVE ENOUGH EVIDENCE TO

BRING HIM IN. END THIS CASE AND MAKE YOUR PARTNER HAPPY.

YOU'RE TOO SICK TO KEPT WORKING LIKE THIS ANYWAY.

 

{Joanna, why did you say that?} Katie thought worriedly

and glanced at Mulder.

 

{How _did_ you know I was still sick and that my partner

wants to go home} Mulder challenged, and emitted a series of

coughs.

 

Joanna paused long enough to let him finish. AGENT

MULDER, ONE LOOK AT YOU AND ANYONE COULD TELL THAT YOU ARE

READY TO COLLAPSE. YOUR PARTNER LOOKS LESS THAN THRILLED

TO BE HERE. THAT ANSWER YOUR QUESTION. I _AM_ PRETTY SMART FOR

A TWELVE-YEAR-OLD.

 

Katie breathed a sigh of relief, when she saw Mulder

silently digesting that information. Katie thought all was

well, but then Mulder suddenly narrowed his eyes.

 

{You're not telling me something. I was twelve once

too.} Mulder winced at that memory. His twelve year was

_not_ a happy one.

 

Silence filled the room.

 

{Joanna, what do we do now?} Katie thought to the white

walls.

 

Living Room

11:15 a.m.

 

"My daughter has always been strange, but never like

this." Christina Martin handed Scully a cup of coffee and

settled into the chair across from her. She placed her own

coffee on the table next to her and seemed to play with hands.

She seemed nervous now.

 

"What do you mean?" Scully asked, and glanced at the

stairs.

 

"Katie was different. A tomboy. She was always a little

unusual, but that's what made her unique. But now, I can catch

her always watching the walls, almost as if they could talk."

Christina continued to wring her hands together.

 

{As if they could talk? Joanna} Scully thought.

Years of working on the X-Files had he thinking about a girl

being able to communicate with the dead. {Yes. After I'm

through with this case, I'm going on a _long_ vacation.}

 

"Then one day, she trashed her sister's room. She

didn't give me a reason. I never would have known if I hadn't

caught her walking out of Sarah's room." At the mention of

Sarah's name, Mrs. Martin's eyes took on a faraway glaze.

 

"Dana, it seems that I haven't just lost one daughter.

It feels as if I'm going to lose two." Her words were soft,

and had a sad quality to them.

 

"Maybe you should take Katie to see a counselor,"

Scully suggested.

 

Mrs. Martin shook her head. "Dana, I once caught her

talking to the walls. She called the walls 'Joanna'."

 

{Joanna?} Silence feel between them.

 

"Maybe I should go upstairs," Scully suggested, but

Mrs. Martin shook her head.

 

"Katie wanted you to stay away. She mumbled something

about 'not understanding.' I don't know what that means,

but...." Mrs. Martin let her voice fade away and Scully had

an even stronger desire to run up those stairs.

 

"Christina?" Scully laid a hand on her shoulder.

Christina looked up and Scully noticed a determined look on

her face.

 

"But, she didn't say anything about the both of us

going." Christina lifted her head higher. "I just want my

little girl back."

 

Scully nodded. "I know you do."

 

On the road

Rutherford, NJ

11:59 a.m.

 

Scully looked over and her partner.

 

His eyes flew open. "Scully, will you quit staring

at me?" She jumped. She had thought he was asleep.

 

"Sorry. I was worried."

 

Mulder scowled. "No you weren't. You just want to

know what Joanna said."

 

Scully looked at the road, then at her partner, then at

the road, then back at her partner. "Fine." She smiled a

little but Mulder was not amused. "Fine, I _do_ want to know.

How could you blame me? So, what'd she say?"

 

"Nothing."

 

Scully's shoulders slumped. "_Nothing_?? You didn't

talk to her?"

 

"No, she said something. Just nothing good." At

Scully's inquiring look he said, "Joanna said that Michael

Austin killed Sarah Martin. He was hiding behind the piano

and Joanna happened to be watching over Katie-- she said

something like 'watching over' and saw Michael Austin hiding

there but she wasn't quick enough to stop him. His

fingerprints are all over.... Scully, I hate to say this,

but I think she might be right."

 

"Wait a minute, here, Mulder. You just had a

conversation with a girl that's been dead for.... _years_

and you're ready to just _go_ with the conceivable answer

that Michael Austin killed this girl?? That is _not_ like

you. C'mon, what's up?"

 

Mulder took a deep breath and let it out in a sigh,

coughing a little as he did. "I don't know. I don't....

it's just something about this case. We're not _getting_

anywhere and, as Joanna said, Michael Austin is the only

plausible explanation. I think we need to get him in and

interrogate him." After a minute he said, "I didn't mean

_we_, us. I mean _someone_, I just don't know if I'm up

to it."

 

Scully had pulled the car into their parking space

outside their motel room. "All right, I'll call Skinner and

tell him that we want Michael Austin in for questioning,"

she said gently. "Now let's get you inside and let me check

you out."

 

 

Scully's Motel Room

Rutherford, NJ

12:21 p.m.

 

Mulder's mood seemed to be a little better after Scully

had promised to call Skinner. Before, he had wanted to

collapse into bed and sleep for a week, but now he had

collapsed into an armchair in Scully's room so he could listen

to her conversation with Skinner. However, he'd passed out

in the chair before she'd even picked up the phone, so she

guessed he wouldn't be an active member of the discussion.

 

"Hi, Kim? It's Agent Scully, can I talk to the AD

please? Thanks. Okay, I'll hold." A few seconds later,

Walter Skinner's voice came on.

 

"Agent Scully."

 

"Yes, sir, it's me."

 

"Do you have any news on the case?" Skinner sighed.

It had been a tedious and frustrating case for him as well.

 

"Uh, yes sir, Mulder thinks we may have a break."

 

"Oh, good." He was relieved. "Let me talk to him

then."

 

Scully glanced over at the chair. "I don't think that's

possible right now."

 

"Hm....?"

 

"He's sleeping. In the chair right here. I could wake

him up if you want..."

 

"No, don't, I'm sure he needs it. Is he still sick?"

 

"He's doing a little better. I'd like to get him back

to D.C. though for some serious rest and recuperating."

 

"All right, we'll see what we can do about that. So

what's going on with the case?"

 

{A dead girl convinced my partner that Michael Austin

killed Sarah Martin.} Scully thought. {Now how do I go about

explaining that to my boss?}

 

"Well, we checked out the rope, a piece of evidence

found in the piano, with Michael Austin's fingerprints on it.

Michael Austin is a wanted criminal. He strangles his

victims when they're alone, so it seemed strange that he was

able to kill Sarah Martin with everybody around, but we found

a place where he could've hid behind the piano without anybody

seeing him and then slipped out the back door. His

fingerprints are _all_ over, so it's really the only

plausible explanation." Scully wondered whether it was.

 

"All right. Look, I'll get two agents on Michael

Austin and you two come home. And, for God's sake Scully,

do something about your partner. He's been sick for weeks

now, and we're gonna need him well for the paperwork and

possibly court trial."

 

"Yes, sir."

 

 

Katie Martin's Room

Rutherford, NJ

12:30 p.m.

 

{Do you think it worked?}

 

There was a long pause. Then, YES.

 

{Good.} Katie relaxed and smiled at the walls.

 

Scully's Motel Room

2:15 p.m.

 

Scully was glad she hadn't really even bothered to unpack.

She had called the airlines and gotten tickets for the 7:30

flight back to D.C. as soon as she had gotten off the phone

with Skinner. She just wanted to get out of here before

Mulder could change his mind about the case. {What _is_ it

about New Jersey?} she thought as closed her suitcase. {Bad

things happen here.}

 

She glanced over at Mulder, who was still asleep in the

armchair. He had even stirred in the last hour and a half

and she was getting worried. It was all the more important

that they got home. She passed Mulder and walked into

his room, and packed up the few things he had laying out.

She carried his bag back into her room and stole another look

at him. This time she was greeted by a pair of hazel eyes.

 

"Did you call Skinner yet?" Mulder rasped, and he

wondered when his voice had decided to take a time out.

 

Scully looked at him, her gaze dripping with concern

"Two hours ago, Mulder. I told him what you said, and-"

 

"You told what I said?" Mulder sat up a little

straighter, but grimaced when the slight movement of his

head sent pain waves down his body.

 

"Well, not really. I said we had enough evidence to

investigate Michael Austin further, and he told me to get you

well. So we are going back to D.C.,

Mulder. Case solved."

 

Mulder frowned. "But it's not closed, Scully."

 

Scully walked closer to him. "Yes it is, Mulder. Even

you said there is just not another explanation."

 

Mulder shook his head. "No, Scully. Joanna's lying.

Katie's lying. We have to prove it."

 

"We can't, Mulder," Scully said gently. "So we are

going to catch a 7:30 flight and then as soon as we get back

to D.C., I'm driving you to Georgetown. No questions asked.

Just worry about getting better, Mulder." She offered him

a hand out of the chair and he took it, swaying slightly when

he got his feet. Scully helped him get over to the bed,

which he promptly sat back down on.

 

"No, Scully. Now that I think about it, Joanna's lying.

She can communicate with anyone. I mean it's possible she

got Michael Austin to do her dirty work, but that doesn't

make any sense. Why get someone to do it for you when

you can do a better job yourself?"

 

Scully laid a hand on his forehead. "Mulder, you're

delirious. Even if anything you are saying make any sense,

we are talking about a twelve-year-old girl here."

 

"Haven't you heard of a juvenile delinquent, Scully?"

Mulder sighed and began another series of coughing.

 

"Yes, I have Mulder. But most of them commit crimes

when they are _alive_. I may be able to buy a _little_, and

I mean a little, into the fact Katie claims to talk to

Joanna, but Joanna, a dead twelve-year-old girl, being able

to kill people at will? It sounds like the makings of a great

science fiction novel."

 

"Yes, but don't most of the cases we investigate have

the makings of a great science fiction novel?" Mulder

commented with a smile.

 

Scully just shook her head and smiled back.

 

Scully's Motel room

3:50 p.m.

 

"Be careful what you wish for."

 

"That's a stupid saying, Karen. Wishes can't come

true."

 

Mulder blinked and stared at the TV screen. Scully

had gone to check out of the rooms, so he passed the time

waiting for her by watching TV. This program had caught

his eye.

 

"My sister says wishes can come true. But that every

time they do, something bad happens. Like you wish you

were an only child and your sister dies, making you become

an only child. Things like that."

 

"Oh come on! I wish my brother was dead all the time,

and it never happens."

 

"It could."

 

"Yeah, and my brother will start cleaning his room."

 

"It could happen."

 

"My brother would never clean his room."

 

"No, I meant the wishes!"

 

Mulder didn't take his eyes off the screen. He held

back a cough and thought about the scene he just watched.

{What if Katie didn't ask for Joanna to come along, she just

did? Does all of Joanna's powers stem from the fact that has

one kid to believe in her? Does she keep going by making one

kid's wish come true and then destroying their lives? Maybe

she tries to make another kid happy because she never was?}

Bingo. Mulder had a feeling his last thought was right.

{Joanna tried to make Katie happy and now it got out of hand.

And Joanna doesn't know what to do. Michael Austin was just

a way out, an escape. Something to make both of their

lives better.}

 

Suddenly Scully came into the room.

 

"We're all checked out," she announced and picked up

the bags off the bed.

 

"Joanna did it." Scully looked confused, so he tried

to explain.

 

"Katie did something most kids do. She jokingly

wished her sister dead. Only Joanna made her wish come true.

So now Katie has to stick by Joanna or else someone will

discover her secret. Katie changed. She needs to stop

listening to Joanna and get on with her life. I don't

think this case will find a real murderer, Scully. If we

could manage to get Katie to push Joanna away, then maybe...."

Mulder's voice drifted off exhausted. He had hardly

any strength left. He needed rest.

 

"Mulder, I suggest we go eat something before we head

to the airport to wait," she said carefully, hoping she

force some food into him.

 

"We have to tell Katie, Scully. We have to....." His

eyes were determined. "We have to get her to say she made

up the story about Michael Austin. Then maybe she could

ignore Joanna and..." He started coughing.

 

Scully went into the bathroom and returned with some

water. She handed it to Mulder and he drank most of it.

"Then we can go back to D.C. We have enough time

in-between our flight. Then we go home, case closed."

 

Scully didn't know why, but she nodded and said, "Ok"

as she took the empty glass from Mulder's hands.

 

Martin's house

4:17 p.m.

 

Katie stared lazily at the walls, bored. Her parents

had gone furniture shopping, and had asked her to join them,

but she declined. {Who wants to go furniture shopping

anyway?}

 

Katie half-expected Joanna to answer, but knew Joanna

was somewhere else. {Probably talking to Michael Austin}

she reasoned. She could hardly believe that Agent Mulder

was leaving them alone. It was over. Joanna had gotten

away with.

 

Now she had a friend, a partner. But when she thought

of all the things Joanna was capable of, it sent shivers

down her spine.

 

She moved from her place on the couch and walked to the

window. {Is Michael Austin going to get charged with the

crimes?} Of course he is, a voice inside her answered. He's

a killer, though. One more mark on his record won't matter.

But it did matter. At least to Katie. Before she meant

Joanna she did one thing better than her sister. She was

more honest. But now, even that was gone. {I'm not honest.

Twelve years old and I'm lying like a pro.} She smiled a

little at that, but the smile was uneasy. She liked being

honest. It was the one thing she was proud of.

 

{Now what am I proud of? The fact that my sister's

dead and my parents think I've gone off the deep end?} No

this wasn't working out. She wanted to get Joanna out of

her life, but knew she couldn't. Katie was a partner in

crime. And partner stick together, or else.

 

The "or else" was the thing Katie was afraid of.

 

Outside the Martin's house

4:23 p.m.

 

"Let's get this over with," Scully said as she pushed

the doorbell. Mulder stood next to her, not looking very

steady on his feet. But his eyes were determined and

somewhat lucid.

 

"If we can," he muttered to himself as the door

opened.

 

Dallas, Texas

4:30 p.m.

 

MICHAEL

 

Michael Austin grit his teeth. "I am _not_ going

crazy, I am _not_ going crazy. I am a perfectly sane man.

I am not what I was before." At this a sob escaped him

and he let his head drop to the steering wheel. He had been

driving home from the office had come again, intruding,

frightening, deathly serious for such a sweet, young voice.

 

MICHAEL. LISTEN TO ME

 

"No!" The sharp outcry echoed around the walls of the

car. "What do you want? Why won't you leave me alone??"

 

I'M... I'M SORRY, the voice said resignedly. PLEASE

LISTEN, JUST FOR A MINUTE? I'M... I'M JOANNA. I WANT TO HELP

YOU BUT I NEED YOU TO HELP ME FIRST

 

"I don't want your help!" he screamed. This time his

wife, in the kitchen nearby, heard him and came running out.

 

"Michael, what's the matter?" She pounded on the

window.

 

Michael opened the car door, got out and she wrapped

her arms around him. "Nothing. It's nothing." He was

trembling in her grasp. "I need to go. I'm going. I'm going

to go upstairs for a little bit." Michael broke away and

ran into the house and upstairs where he locked himself in

his room.

 

 

Katie's Room

Rutherford, NJ

4:30 p.m.

 

Scully was once again forced to hold small talk with

Mrs. Martin while Mulder conducted the dirty work upstairs.

Or maybe Scully's small talk was the dirty work. At this

point, Mulder wasn't quite sure. All he knew was that his head

was _pounding_.

 

"Where is she?" he asked for the millionth time.

 

"I don't know!" Katie insisted. "She's been gone all

afternoon. Why do you need to talk to her, she told you

everything already."

 

Mulder sighed. "All right, Katie. I'm gonna have

to trust you because, frankly, I don't _ever_ want to have to

talk to Joanna again. I came to talk to you, I just wanted

to make sure she wasn't listening in. Katie..." Katie was

staring down at her hands. "Look, I know you're fingernails

are quite interesting but could you listen to me for a

minute please?"

 

Katie giggled a little and looked up at him. "Yeah,

sure."

 

"Thanks." He managed a weak smile. "Now, I _know_

about you and Joanna. Or, I've been making an educated

guess. I know she's helping you..." Now that it was time

to actually confront Katie, Mulder was drawing a blank.

 

"Yeah," she said softly and he jumped. He hadn't

expected her to cooperate at all.

 

"Yeah? Could you tell me what you've been doing?

What _she's_ been doing?"

 

Katie bit her lip. "I don't know."

 

"I promise I won't tell her," Mulder said gently.

 

"Oh. Well...." Katie was staring at the ground now,

speaking shakily and uneasily. "That day at the... at the

recital. That day, I was mad at Sarah, I... I said I wanted

her to die. You know! Don't you have a sister you've

ever wanted to die?"

 

Mulder shuddered. "No, but I think I get what you're

saying."

 

"Oh. Well, I just, I kinda wished it to myself

and...."

 

"I know," he said softly. "Then what?"

 

"Well, then Joanna started talking to me. And she

helped me and she was my friend and she was gonna make it so

nobody knew I killed her--"

 

"You didn't kill your sister, Katie."

 

"Yeah. I know. So anyway, she was a good friend but

sometimes she did things I didn't like. She..." {Oh, God,

should I tell him that it was Joanna that made him so sick?

That it was Joanna that made him stop breathing?}

 

"She what?" Mulder prompted.

 

"Oh, just mean things! And then she wants to blame it

on this guy, Michael Austin, who she said he's her

'inspirating'. She wants to blame my sister's death on

this poor guy!"

 

"So he didn't really do it."

 

"No! I did. Or.... I mean.... I guess I did. But I

didn't mean it. You know I didn't mean it, right?"

 

"Yeah. I know."

 

"Okay... good." Katie slumped back and let out a

relieved sigh.

 

 

Michael Austin's room

Dallas, Texas

6:47 p.m.

 

"Honey, are you coming down for dinner? Sweetie?

You've been lying there an awfully long time..... why don't

you come down for a little bit?"

 

Michael lifted his head from its burial place in the

pillow. "Um, no, I think I'm gonna skip dinner."

 

His wife leaned against the doorjamb. "Aren't you

feeling well?"

 

"Yeah, I'm okay. Maybe I'll be down later." He pushed

his face back in the pillow. After a few minutes he heard

the door click shut.

 

MICHAEL, STILL THERE?

 

"Shut up, I'm not talking to you. Whoever you are."

 

I TOLD YOU, I'M JOANNA

 

"I don't care! I'm not talking to you, I told you that.

I'm not listening to you..... listening to who?? There's

nobody in the room!"

 

SHH, DON'T TALK, JUST THINK WHAT YOU WANT TO TELL ME--

 

"I don't want to tell you anything! I just told you

that!"

 

SHHHH! THINK IT. MICHAEL, YOU'RE GOING TO ENCOUNTER

SOME PROBLEMS..... SOME PEOPLE, SOME FBI AGENTS ARE GOING TO

BE COMING AFTER YOU IN THE NEXT FEW WEEKS. BUT YOU NEED TO

PROVE YOURSELF INNOCENT AND THAT'S WHAT I'M GOING TO

HELP YOU DO. I'M GOING TO HELP YOU BLAME IT ALL ON--

 

"Blame all of _what_? I didn't _do_ anything,

remember??"

 

YES YOU DID! YOU'RE A WANTED MURDERER!

 

"I used to be," he said softly. "Not anymore though.

No, not anymore. Now I've got Elaine..... and the kids, I've

got my life straightened out. And no voice in my head is

going to bring me back to being a wanted murderer."

 

I JUST WANT TO HELP. I JUST WANT TO....

 

Martin Household

4:37 p.m.

 

"Just stop?" Katie was confused.

 

Mulder raised a hand to his head and rubbed it. "Yeah,

then this whole thing can get put behind you."

 

"But what about Joanna? And my sister? Who's going

to...?" Katie's voice was close to tears. She was deadly

afraid that she would be blamed for Sarah's death. {But

I really didn't mean it!}

 

Mulder shook his head. {Forgot about that....} "Don't

worry, many cases stay unsolved. I just think your parents

would be a lot happier if Joanna left." {Not to mention

it would make both Scully's and my lives a hell of a lot

easier.} His excuses where sounding lame, but he didn't now

what to do. He _knew_ who killed Sarah, but he doubted a

dead person could be tried.

 

"But....," Katie protested, when a voice interrupted

her.

 

KATIE, WE NEED TO TALK.......

 

"No!" Mulder said, a decible too loud for his head to

handle. Katie eyed him and started to walk toward the door.

She opened it and stood away from it.

 

"Go away, Joanna. I mean it. I don't need your help.

I never did!" Katie was getting closer to tears each minute

and Mulder really wished Scully was up here. His head was

still pounding, and he started to feel a little unsteady

on his feet.

 

KATIE, YOU DON'T MEAN THAT. THINK ABOUT EVERYTHING WE

HAVE DONE. ALL THE THINGS WE CAN ACCOMPLISH. I _MADE_ YOU

INTERESTING! I BETTERED YOUR LIFE!

 

"No, you didn't. You made it worse. Sarah's dead and

I've lost who I was. And I realized, I liked who I was."

Katie was no longer close to tears. She stood up straight

and looked much older than her twelve years. Mulder blinked

to steady the dizzying circle of lights he saw. His vision

cleared and he didn't know what else to do. He was witnessing

a battle between two twelve-year-olds, but this went beyond

your simple playground fight. This wasn't some bully you

could tell the teacher about. He sat down on the bed and

watched Katie, wishing he had that much conviction when he

was twelve.

 

"And you know what! I could care less about bettering

my life!" Katie suddenly stopped and looked thoughtful.

Then her lips turned into a smile. "I think that you're

nothing without me! I'm sorry you had a nad life, but I

don't!" Katie stopped shouting. "I've realized that wishes

can come true. But only in the worst way. Nad if that's how

it works, I don't want to make only more wishes!! Well, maybe

just one." She paused. "I wish you would get the hell out

of my life." Only silence followed her statement.

 

Mulder watched the scene unfold before his eyes.

Then the roon blurred a little. He didn't know how long he

sat there, but the next thing he was aware of was

Scully tapping his shoulders.

 

"Mulder, we're going to miss our flight." He nodded

absently and got up, shaky on his feet. Scully eyed him

suspiously.

 

"I'm going to call Georgetown as soon as we get

off the plane," she announced and for once Mulder didn't

agrue.

 

1 week later

Georgetown Medical Center

 

"I'm not eating that."

 

"You are if you want to get out of here."

 

Mulder eyed the green jello again with disdain. "But

it moves...," he whined.

 

"Mulder..."

 

"Ok, ok, I'm eating it," he said as he dipped his

spoon into it and reluctantly swallowed some. "I really,

really hate jello."

 

Scully laughed. "That because you've had to eat so

much of it."

 

"Well, not any longer. The next time I'm in the

hospital, it's going to be a nice one that's never heard of

jello."

 

"Well, Mulder you exhausted most of the U.S. hospitals

already..." Scully ducked and narrowly missed getting hit

by a pillow.

 

Scully was straightening up when she heard Mulder's voice

turn serious. "You think the Joanna's of this world are

still out there?"

 

Scully just shrugged her shoulders. "Well, for

everyone's sake, I hope not." Mulder nodded in agreement.

 

****************

Field Report, X-File 453697-3

Dana Scully, reporting field agent

 

No more incidents have occured at the Martin home and

Katie Martin has withdrawn her claim that Michael Austin

committed the murder. Additionally, Mrs. and Mr. Martin have

also dropped the civil suit against Mr. Austin, and he has

been released, all charges dropped. Agent Mulder's illness

does not seem to be case related, though the stress may have

added to it. With no other suspects having been investigated

in the crime, I recommend that this case, X-File 453697-3,

remain open.

 

Somewhere in Ohio

 

Susan watched as her brother got congratulated over and

over for the 21 points he scored in the basketball game.

 

She narrowed her eyes at him. {Right now, I wish he

would drop dead.}

 

PROBLEM SOLVED, the walls echoed..........

 

"The End"

 

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