TITLE: "For Now"
AUTHORS: Jen & Lauren
EMAILS: JenR13@aol.com (Jen) & JRDG1013@aol.com (Lauren)
RATING: PG
SPOILERS: "Triangle", big time
CLASSIFICATION: SA
KEYWORDS: Mulder/Scully UST, MulderTorture
ARCHIVE: Sure, you have our blessing :-).
SUMMARY: Hmmm, we always wondered what happened after the credits rolled……Triangle post-ep. First-person Mulder POV.

DISCLAIMER: Two words: Yeah, right.

AUTHORS’ NOTES: Ok, this our second attempt at a post-episode story. After watching Triangle, we both agreed there could be more to that episode. Unfortunately we both had different POVs. I (Jen) am a ‘shipper, but Lauren usually sticks to the strictly friendship/UST boat. So, we comprised. We threw in a little UST, and put a different spin on the story then most other stories either of us has read. I (Jen) agreed to curb my ‘shipperness for this story (though it was a little hard {g}), and we both were happy with the results.

"For Now"
by Jen & Lauren
(Begun: March '99; Completed: March '99)

{"Hey, Scully?"}

{"Yes?"}

{"I love you."}

What the HELL was I thinking?

Maybe I should find out what drugs I'm on.

Don't get me wrong, I meant what I said, but, well.........it’s complicated.

Maybe I do need to talk to a psychiatrist. Maybe I need to think before I speak.

Maybe that 1939 Scully hit me a little too hard. She did hit me, right?

{Beginning to doubt yourself, Mulder?}

After what I just said, perhaps. Maybe it was just a very real concussion induced dream.

And maybe "they" will tell me where Sam is.

Somehow I think that neither are likely.

My head hurts. That's what I get for thinking.

My eyes scan the four walls around me. Another hospital, another stack of insurance forms, another annoyed partner.

Who walked away believing I was high on Demerol.

Maybe I should talk to the doctor about my dose. I bet Scully beat me to the punch.

Well the hell am I again? Oh right, Bermuda. Too bad I'm missing the view. You can't see much from a hospital. Just the walls, and the monitors, and all you hear is the damn noise they make........

I have to stop getting injured. Why did I go to the Queen Anne? Maybe it had something to do with the fact it suddenly appeared on radar after having been missing for about 60 years.

Yes, it had all the makings of an X-File. The ones I wanted back, more than I will ever admit. The only reason I stick around doing shit work and-

The calvary's back. Scully sure knows how to make friends. Didn't think Skinner would ever think me lucid again after I said he was on that ship.

But I was. Give me a stack of bibles and I will swear on them. Cross my heart, hope to die. Stick a needle in my eye.

Of course I'm not seven, and this isn't like pinkie swearing with your best friend. Hell even then it was hard to get someone to believe you.

Though I don't blame them. If I hear the story that I told Scully less than two hours ago, I'd probably doubt me too.

Or maybe not. I'm not lying, Scully.

She gives me a small smile. "Did you get some sleep?"

Sleep? I tell her what happened, tell her I love her, she walks away not believing, and I'm supposed to sleep??

Perhaps you are more of a skeptic than I thought, Scully. Or maybe more like naive. Don't be naive, Scully, take it from me. Don't walk that road.

God, my head hurts. If only everyone would leave me alone, it would stop pounding. Damn concussions. They always require a hospital stay, and they hurt like hell. Add that to a few broken ribs and you have _hell_. I tend to visit it often. Scully sits on the edge on my bed.

"Head hurt a lot?" she asks, her voice low, almost timid. Gee, what happened to the demanding Dr. Scully I knew so well? Perhaps your "I love you" scared her away, Spooky. Damn drugs, they make you feel so relaxed and then you spill guts and.....

Let's not go there.

Scully's sitting on the edge of the bed, in the familiar position I have ever seen her in, yet I feel uncomfortable with her there. I nod slowly, and I know she wants to prod for more, but she doesn't. This wouldn't last long I know. We'll go back to normal. We just need a little time. Next time I wake up, she's be yelling at me for going off on another one of my half-assed jaunts. She tells the nurse that she spoke to my doctor and that I was due for another shot.

Oh, goody.

I don't protest and give in the darkness that has been threatening to pull me in.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

When I next wake up, Scully is still there, but she's deeply involved in something on the screen of her laptop, so I leave her alone. My head is pounding (I'm guessing that I slept through the effects of the painkiller and now must suffer again) and I close my eyes against the light filtering in the room through the half opened slats in the blinds.

Scully's voice, when it sounds, hurts my head as well. "Hey you," she says. "Playing possum are you?"

I contemplate continuing to "play possum" as my partner puts it, but then think that maybe Scully could buzz the doctor for some more of that good stuff, if I show her that I'm awake. I force my eyes open, and they feel sticky and sore, like when I don't sleep for a while. I've been sleeping more here than most times I'm in the hospital, though, why do I feel so tired?

Scully is watching me blink my eyes, probably thinking of something to say to me. God knows I can't think of anything to say to her, not after the time earlier today, when I said it all. {"I love you"} Come to think of it, is it still today?

"What day?" I croak, surprised to hear my voice rusty. I figure I must have been out for a while if my voice sounds so unused.

"Thursday," she says, and stops. She studies me for a minute, making me feel squirmy and uncomfortable, like a lab rat, then she reaches out and lays her hand on the bump on my head. I wince visibly and she pulls back. "Sorry," she says. "That seems to be going down, are you feeling any better?"

{"I feel... like hell."} I still do. "Mm.. tired," I settle for.

Scully looks surprised. "You've been sleeping for ten hours and your condition seems to be getting better all the time. Is anything in particular bothering you?"

"No, I just feel generally lousy," I say. She looks even more worried at this.

"Yeah? Because the doctor told me that he was probably going to release you today. But if you--"

"No!" I say quickly. "No, I'm okay. Actually. Yeah, I'm doing great, I'm reading to go home."

Scully laughs. "All right, then. Let me go see if I can find your doctor and he'll check you over and tell you when he's going to let you out. Probably it'll be around noon, that's the usual discharge time."

"Okay," I say and she leaves. I close my eyes, feeling exhausted, but know that I must stay awake if I want to prove to this doctor that I'm ready to go. I'm feeling tentative myself about leaving, but Fox Mulder does _not_ like hospitals, and damn me if I'm about to let them keep me in one any longer. After a moment, I feel myself begin driving off, and force my eyes back open. Surely I can't fall asleep if I've got my eyes open. Man I'm tired. I reach over to the side and crank up the bed. There. I'm sitting up with my eyes open, no way I can fall asleep.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I wake up when the doctor is messing around with my three broken ribs (yow).

"Hello, Agent Mulder," he greets me. "It looks like you're about ready to be released."

I don't say anything. I'm afraid I'll give away my desire to stay (imagine that), and how crappy I feel right now.

He finishes prodding and pushing my ribs and pulls the blanket back up. His hand reaches up to the bump on my head and I recognize this as the same gesture that Scully did earlier.

"Looks good," he mumbles and writes something down on his clipboard. "Now let's see." A penlight materializes from nowhere and he flicks it on and shines the light in my eyes. I wince against the sudden flash of pain his actions bring me. "Does your head hurt, Agent Mulder?" he asks.

Yes. "No."

With another flick the penlight goes off, and the pen itself is quickly tucked away in one of the many pockets of his white lab coat.

"Okay, you're looking good. You're due to be released at twelve-thirty, now. Do you have some clothes?"

I look at Scully; I have no idea.

She quickly explains, "Yours had to be cut off of you, they were soaked and you were in danger of hypothermia. But the boys brought some things that they said would fit you." Oh wonderful, I think, I get to share Frohike's fashion habits now.

I nod, the doctor nods, Scully nods and the doctor leaves. Scully is putting her laptop away in her briefcase. When she's finished and it's all zipped up, she shrugs into her jacket and stands.

"I'm going down to the cafeteria to get some breakfast," she says, and leaves.

Hey, what happened to all my sympathy??? I feel like whining, but there's nobody here to hear it. Normally when I get myself into these kinds of messes and wind up in the hospital, I've got Scully, or Skinner, or sometimes even Mrs. Scully here, to baby me and ask me if I'm all right and tell me to go to sleep. Now when I _want_ to somebody here to bug me, there's nobody. Funny how the world always seems to work directly against me. Oh well, as long as I'm alone I might as well get some sleep. I'm still exhausted, and never got to ask the doctor for the pain meds. They probably don't give the good stuff to their patients who are about to leave, anyway. I roll over on my side, away from the window, and close my eyes against the throbbing headache that plagues me. This is all it takes for me to pass out.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"Mulder."

Five more minutes, Mom. Then I’ll go to school.

"Mulder."

That’s not my mom, and I’m not a little kid anymore. And despite what I told Scully neither one of my parents called me ‘Mulder’.

"Mulder."

The voice sounds impatient, and the last I want to do is open my eyes. In fact, I don’t want to move. The idea of doing either of those things seems utterly revolting.

"Mulder, if you don’t open your eyes, I’m going to get the doctor."

Scully sounds worried now, so using all the strength I can muster, I manage to open my eyes and find her standing at the end of my bed, looking down at me. The IV line I had when I last woke up was gone (not that I would miss it), along with whatever other equipment I had.

"I couldn’t wake you, Mulder." Scully states the sentence like a simple fact, yet I can sense the questioning tone it hides. She sighs, but she remains standing. She doesn’t move to sit on the edge of my hospital bed like she usually does; in fact she seems a little distant.

{ "I love you." }

Remember that, Mulder?

Oh yeah.

"Mulder, how are you feeling?"

Like hell, but I believe I used that line already. Frankly I feel like I’ve been run over by a truck, but my ‘I-want-the-hell-out-of-the-hospital’ attitude would never let me admit that when I am so close to getting out already.

"I’m fine."

She eyes me, almost as if she can tell I’m lying but doesn’t push the issue.

"Ok."

I am scared that she doesn’t push the issue. What doesn’t she push the issue? Somehow I was expecting the good ole Scully who badgers me into admitting to her every small detail of my health, even if it takes her awhile to get me to admit it. The headache I had when I feel asleep seemed to suddenly come back, this time completely full-force.

She points to a chair in the room, which now has a pair of clothes on them.

"I brought you some clothes." She goes over and picks them up and brings them back to the bed, dumping them on the bed. I recognize them as my own clothes, and throw her a puzzled look.

"I brought some of your stuff. Figured you would need it, so I got some stuff from your apartment before I left."

I manage to sit up without that much discomfort, and find Scully isn’t even looking at me. She’s looking at her watch instead.

"It’s about 12 now. You’re due to be released about 12:30, after the doctor has one more chance to check you out. He should be back soon. Skinner booked us all a nonstop flight home that leaves at 5:14 p.m." She laughed a little. "They’re all probably at the airport lounge now, having their own lunch time ‘cocktail hour’. Maybe I shouldn’t have left them alone together….."

"Cocktail hour?" Hmm, that sounded promising. Surprising Frohike can hold his liquor. I wondered how Skinner could compete. Then again, maybe I don’t want to know how they can compete.

"May I remind you that alcohol and head injuries don’t mix?" Scully asks, and I scowled at her. Secretly I was glad to have a ‘Scully’ remark bad. Maybe she would forget my mouth and how I don’t think before I speak and- I better stop before I begin naming all the faults I have. It’s a long list.

"I got to see Bermuda," Scully says, suddenly.

"Thanks to me," I offer, wincing at a sudden pain that hits me head.

"Mulder, are you sure you’re all right?"

"I’m fine, Scully."

She looks me again, carefully, before nodding again.

"Okay," she says. "Doctor will be here in a couple of minutes. Would you like to get dressed while you're waiting?"

I shrug and shift in my bed, an indication that I'm prepared to get up, but the nausea that hits me full force puts a sharp arrest in my motions. Scully doesn't seem to notice.

"I'm going down to the cafeteria to get a cup of coffee. I'll be back in twenty minutes," she says.

"What if the doctor comes while you're gone?" I ask. Oh wonderful. I think I just whined.

"So he'll come," she says, sounding indifferent. She leaves. Boy, who ever knew the words "I love you" could make a person act so... _strange_. I hope she doesn't hate me.

Moving gingerly, I move my legs over to the side of the bed and slide off of it, landing less than gracefully, but still, on my feet. The floor is freezing.

Good old Scully. She brought my Knicks T-shirt! Also packed is a pair of jeans and a black sweater. I can't imagine it's too cold in Bermuda, but at least I'll have something to wear when I get off the plane in DC Was in cold in DC when I left? I can't remember...

As I'm trying to remember the weather back home, I hear a knock on the door. Fearing it is the doctor or, worse yet, Scully, I call quickly, "One minute!" Gotta hurry. The hospital gown isn't too hard to get off, though the tie in the back gives me a bit of trouble, but getting the jeans on is another story. I trip, but catch myself on the bedside table. That tips the table slightly and the lamp totters and falls to the floor with a loud crash.

"Mulder, you okay?" It _is_ Scully outside.

"Uh, yeah," I say uncertainly, shaken from the crash. I bend down and pick up the lamp, feeling dizzy when I come back up. I lean against the bed and pull my pants the rest of the way up, then slip into my T-shirt and forgo the sweater. Still leaning against the bed, I say "Come in."

Just my luck. Turns out Scully _and_ the doctor are waiting outside. Uh oh, doctor. The word sinks in. I better regain my composure quickly so he'll release me.

"Hello, Agent Mulder," the doctor says. He smiles at me. "Glad to see you up and about again."

{If you could call it that} I think. "Uh, yeah."

The doctor was suddenly all business. "Let's have a look, shall we?" I hate the "let's" and the question mark was a bit misleading, because I'm sure that if I said "No, let's _not_ have a look," he wouldn't give in to my decision. The doctor motions for me to sit up on the bed, and I do, slowly, and trying hard to keep the pain from showing on my face.

He starts by shining a light in my eyes then, seemingly satisfied, lifts up the T-shirt that I just went through so much pain to get on, and studies my ribs. He pokes each one, evoking a small whimper from me each time, and then says, "You're going to have a big bruise here for a while, but unless it gets any bigger, don't worry about it." I nod and resist the urge to count for him how many times I've been told that.

After checking everything else and taking my temperature, the doctor says, "All right, it's only twelve twenty, but why don't you folks go now. I see no reason why Agent Mulder should have to stay here any longer." Ah, music to my ears.

"Thank you," Scully says quietly to the doctor, and he walks out. I slide off the bed and Scully tosses me my bag. It collides with my midsection, causing me to grunt, but I hide the pain that it gives me and follow my partner out.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Needless to say by the time we found the Lone Gunmen and Skinner they were all on their third round. There I saw Scully do something she’s never done before.

She throws down her purse, calls over the bartender, and orders a round for herself.

I can just here her sentence "may I remind you that alcohol and head injuries don’t mix?" ringing through my head as I order an iced tea. It’s not the fact that I desperately want a drink; regardless of what people may think, I don’t like to get drunk. I don’t enjoy a hangover; I usually spend those nights with my head in the toilet. It’s just the fact that everyone else has a drink in their hand at this point, and I kinda feel left out.

Isn’t that the story of my life, anyway?

A glance toward my watch tells me that we still have at least three hours to kill.

I sit down at stare at my iced tea. The mere thought of drinking it is making me nauseous. This was going to be a long three hours.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It went by quicker then I thought. We all actually only sit there for about twenty minutes before the tickets had to be checked, luggage had to be tagged, and Scully had to call the insurance company. My insurance company.

She handles the paperwork and I just don’t ask. It’s our system. Damned if I know the strict guidelines of my policy.

Scully, what would I do without you?

{"I love you."}

Geez, is that sentence going to haunt me forever?

I need to sit down. My head hurts. And it’s not the ‘expense report just reached Skinner’s desk’ headache. It’s more like the ‘Skinner just told you that you had to pay of the expenses yourself’ headache. Only I would base my degree of headaches on AD Walter Skinner reading my infamous expense reports.

Of course that was when I was back on the X-Files.

I think my headache just got worse.

Maybe Scully has some Tylenol .

Currently she’s on one of the string of pay phones that are lined up against the wall. She’s on one; Skinner’s on the one next to her; and Frohike, Byers, and Langly are near a third. I can pick up some of their conversations, and no one seems to even notice.

"But we agreed that his premium _wouldn’t_ increase…….."

"I have to cancel out on dinner….."

"We agreed it was twenty to get into the Mortal Combat tournament! Not fifty…"

And me without my cell phone. Speaking of cell phones, why the hell are five people that own ones using pay phones??

It may be one of life’s great mysteries.

My head is throbbing by this point, and I think I would kiss the first person who gave me Tylenol at this point. If I hadn’t lost my wallet somewhere in that great blue sea, I’d buy it myself at this point. The hospital did send me home with some painkillers, which Scully held in her possession. My eyes fell down to the unopened water Scully had purchased and practically tossed in my direction with instructions to drink it. She hadn’t even forced me to drink it under her careful watch.

All I think about is my big mouth.

Then again, was what I said so bad?

Do I really want an answer to that question?

I reach for the water, open it, and hesitantly down some of it. I can’t wait to get back to DC.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Finally, the call for our flight comes. After boarding the plane I can finally settle down in a seat and try to get rid of my headache. The ribs are bothering me too, and I think I may be regretting drinking some of that water, soon, but hopefully this can all wait until after I get back to the comfort of my own couch.

I sit near the window, gazing out of it. Scully sits next to me, but she doesn’t say a word. I don’t feel any tension; there never was any, but I can feel distance.

{Time, Mulder, give it time.}

Takeoff is relatively smooth, but I still see a small expression of discomfort on Scully’s end. She’s never been one for flights, which is funny considering with our profession we rack up enough frequent-flier miles to fly also the world and back free of charge. Still, she’s never been completely at ease on a plane. Me, I could sleep through a takeoff. I have, in fact. But not today.

Finally I venture a word in Scully’s direction.

"Scully, do you have any Tylenol?"

She turns, picking up her purse that has been sitting at her feet and looks at me. At first I can see no real expression on her face; she just seems to take a good look at me. Then she frowns a little.

"Head hurt?" she asks.

Hurt? Try it feels like someone is drilling a hole in it. And I _know_ what that feels like. "A little," I admit, waiting for her reaction.

The frown remains on her face, yet she doesn’t push it. "Well, I don’t have any Tylenol, but I do have the pills the hospital gave you."

Normally I would decline those things; I hate pills that even knock a little sense out of me. But at this point, I could care less. Perhaps this whole situation would look better after a nap.

"That’s fine."

She looks at me strangely, but hands me the pills, and stops the flight attendant and asks him for a glass of water. I swallow the pills and push my seat back a little. The plan is not very crowded, so no one is behind me.

DC is only hours away, I think as I fall asleep.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

{I’m going to throw up.}

That was my first thought as I woke up (only about an hour later), and I knew that my stomach was not going to take "no" for an answer. I certainly to not want to toss my cookies right here in front of whole plane, so I was going to have to get up. Unfortunately, that meant climbing over Scully, who has managed to fall asleep with her cell phone in her lap. She looked so peaceful, and I didn’t want to wake her.

However, I didn’t want to ruin her clothes, either. Dry cleaning’s a bitch.

I try to get up without waking her. Frohike sees me getting up, and I motion not to wake her. She wakes up anyway.

"Mulder if you need to get through, you could have just woken me," she said, an edge of sleep in her voice.

The nausea in my stomach was getting worse by the second.

"Sorry, I….uh….really have to…." I motioned with my hand, and she let me out, her eyes trailing my movements.

I made it to the tiny (luckily) vacant bathroom just in time.

Not so luckily, I realize while I'm en train de puking my guts up that I haven't closed the door. Fear and embarrassment surge through me that the entire plane is listening to my retching, and I move away from the toilet just enough to pull the door closed.

When my stomach calms down enough for me to lean back and rest my pounding head in my hands, I think, Oh no, what have I done to myself?

"Shit," I groan, wishing more than anything that I had told Scully that I wasn't feeling good back when we were at the hospital. Where they could help me. Now I'm stuck on a plane ride that is God knows _how_ long, and can't do anything about my present condition until we land. Unless Scully happens to have some Compazine.... yeah, right.

The nausea returns when I think of Scully. How am I going to explain this little "vomiting fest" to her? Surely she heard me. Can I think up an excuse? I think, then decide no, I can't. I'm still too nauseous. The taste in my mouth is disgusting. I manage to pull myself up to a full sitting position, then, miraculously, standing, and, though shakily, I take a step toward the teeny sink and press on the faucet. Awkwardly, I stick both my hands under the thin stream of running water and bring the makeshift cup to my mouth. I'm too sick to swallow it, I spit it back in the basin and watch it gurgle down the drain. Something about being up in the air, it makes all plumbing seem strangely spontaneous.

I'm trying to figure out exactly _where_ all the flushed toilets and sink water goes when you're in an airplane when I hear a knock on the door.

"Excuse me, we've hit some rough weather, would you please return to your seat?" The voice is too courteous. It must be a flight attendant.

"Okay," I say and sound weak to my own ears. I splash some water on my face, flush the toilet and slide open the door. In the cabin, everyone is seated facing forward, involved in some film that is playing way up in the front of the film. I make my way up to my aisle and tap Scully. She shifts her knees to let me through but her eyes don't leave the screen. Some movie. Relieved that she hasn't noticed the green that still must color my face, I slouch back in my chair and buckle my seatbelt, then close my eyes. The rough weather must have passed, because I hear the flight attendants begin pacing the strips between aisles, pushing clanging carts. They must be handing out meals. _Just_ what I need.

Langly, two seats down, leans over to me. "We heard you puking," he says.

"Uh huh," I say, trying to sound nonchalant. I close my eyes again and find it surprisingly easy to drift off.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

A hand shaking my arm wakes me up. I open my eyes and look around groggily. It's hard to tell what time of day it is, but there is a different movie on the screen and no trays on the fold out tables. I must have slept right the distributing, consumption and recollection of dinner. It's probably better that way, I was really nauseous before. I feel a little better now, but not completely settled.

"We're landing in a minute," Scully says. It had been her shaking me.

"Thanks," I say back. I feel sluggish, but calm, and strangely content. Still sick though, and my head hurts. Do I tell Scully? Nah, if she hasn't noticed yet, I can't be _too_ bad off.

I feel the bumpiness, and the pressure in my ears that means we've started descending. The plane feels more jerky than it should. I close my eyes and pray I don't get sick again. Though I can't see, I know Scully is looking pretty nervous right now. Heck, I am too, and I'm the veteran flyer of this pair. The plane dips suddenly and so does my stomach. Unconsciously, I groan, and can feel Scully's eyes on me, but they don't rest, they are too scared. I open my eyes again and they lock with AD Skinner's. Of all people.

"You okay?" he asks. I just can't picture this guy being nice, but the way he just said those two words might have misled me, had I not known him better.

"Yeah," I whisper, but I'm feeling really queasy and am afraid my stomach won't stay where it's supposed to long enough for us to land. I can't get up now, the flight attendants would slaughter me on the spot with their polite words and glittering smiles.

Skinner says softly, "I'm sure it'll be find. Things are always bumpy going down." I can see he's worried too. The plane jerks again, and again, and we seem to be going up and down and up and down again. A barely audible gasp comes from Scully. I want to tell her that it will be okay, but I'm not so sure I believe it myself and I'm having a hard enough time trying not to throw up. I don't want to jeopardize myself by opening my mouth.

Static fills the cabin, like the pilot has turned on his link to the intercom and plans to tell us something, but no words come. I'm getting really scared.

How long do plane crashes take away?

Don’t go there Mulder.

Suddenly the static on the intercom clears and the jerking the planes has been doing for the last few minutes stops.

"Sorry about that, folks. We are about to land. Please make sure your seatbelts are buckled at this time."

Like they wouldn’t have been buckled before??

I’m glad that the plane has now settled and that we are not going to die, but my stomach doesn’t seem to agree with me. I can still feel the ups and downs, and the nausea seems to only worsen with the descent of the plane. The last thing is the world I want to do now is show the passengers of this plane what my last meal was.

Not that it would make any difference anyway. I haven’t eaten anything since the nurse at the hospital shoved some jello down my throat. And I believe I lost that in my little trip to the bathroom.

Next to me, I can feel Scully relax. A glance toward her shows me that she is still holding on to her armrests for dear life. She’s holding them so tight that her knuckles are white. So I what do I do?

I forget about my own nausea and grip her hand, moving it away from the armrest.

All I need is her smile to let me know that I made the right decision.

Maybe things will be okay for us.

The plane lands without further incident, and I manage not to throw up. Two things that I am _very_ grateful for. Now to get through the rest of this trip.

It’s late by the time we get our luggage (well, everyone else’s luggage really), and my head, ribs, and stomach are getting tired of waiting for a nice comfortable place to crash. Hell, I would even clear off the storage area known as my bed to get rest. My stomach (which had calmed itself enough to get through these last 30 minutes) was now making its anger with me known. A glance toward my right told me that their was a men’s room to my left, but I didn’t want to take the chance. I was almost home.

Then again, Scully hadn’t noticed on the plane.

But everyone else had.

My stomach suddenly makes up its own mind as I mumble something stupid and head for the men’s room. It’s vacant (thank _God_), so no one but me can hear my retching bouncing off the walls.

"Agent Mulder are you okay?"

Skinner. Shit. Who invited him?

"I’m fine," I manage to get out between retching. At this point, nothing is coming up, and it just hurts like hell to continue retching and retching, but I’m not in control here, my stomach is.

"Sure, like hell you are." Geez, I didn’t know the AD could be so sarcastic.

I finally finish retching, flush the toilet (I don’t why; I didn’t really throw up anything, my stomach was even out of bile at this point), and make my way out the stall to find myself face to face with Skinner.

I look past him and stumble my way toward the sink. I turn on the faucet and let the cold water run for a minute before splashing some in my face. Then I turn to face Skinner.

He speaks first.

"Scully sent me in after you."

"Why? It’s not like she noticed before," I mutter under my breath.

"Oh, I think she noticed, Mulder. You’d have to living under a rock not to." Geez, I didn’t say it _that_ loud.

"Sir, I’m fine," I say and stand up straight to prove my point, but instead feel my legs wobbling underneath me. If Skinner hadn’t reached forward and grabbed my shoulders I would have fallen straight down to the white tiled floor below.

"Maybe you should have stayed at the hospital."

No shit.

"I’m okay," I mutter, sounding totally unconvincing to my own ears.

"We’ll see what Scully says about that," he says and helps me out of the bathroom. I normally would insist I could do it myself, but right now if Skinner weren’t there, I’d fall, and not gracefully, into a heap on the floor.

When we reach the Lone Gunmen and Scully, I can fell her blue eyes staring at me. But it’s different this time. They scan me from head to toe with her critical "doctor’s eye" but it’s lacking some of the "Scully" it usually has. However, it’s still the same professional opinion I always hear.

"Mulder, you’re going back to the ER."

Oh, joy. Two different hospitals in the span of one day. I’m getting good at this.

I’m not going to argue. If I make it there without collapsing on my own feet, I’ll be pleased with myself. Then I’ll use my bargaining chips to get me out tomorrow.

I hope.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I fall asleep in the waiting room of the hospital. This waiting room definitely fits its name. When I wake up again, two hours later, we are still waiting. Who knew there could be so many medical emergencies in DC?

When I open my eyes and look around, there's only one person left with me. Frohike. How did I get so lucky? When he notices I'm up, he says, "Hey, Mulder. The rest of the boys are in the cafeteria getting coffee. Scully and the big bald guy went home."

Went home?? Is the first thought that comes to mind, then WENT HOME??? How could she do this to me? Skinner, I don't blame, but I thought Scully would at least show some sympathy and wait with me to be admitted to yet another hospital. Then the mischievous part of my mind picks up. Hm, maybe if Scully isn't here I can con the staff into just giving me some good drugs and then getting the hell out of here.

But do I really want to do that? I'm not sure what I want right now; part of me wants to be on the safe side and get some professional care, and the other part of me wants to go home, lay on the couch, watch some, uh, videos, and feel sorry for myself.


I return my thoughts to Scully. What's up with her lately? {"I love you"} Jeez, who could know such common words could make anyone so mad. Maybe she's feeling uncomfortable around me, or embarrassed. Afraid her crazy partner will yell out something else sentimental if she hangs around him too long.

Right now the crazy partner is feeling too bad to yell out _anything_. I close my eyes and lean back, but can't fall asleep again. Through my lids, I see Langly and Byers return several minutes later. They hand a Styrofoam cup (I can only imagine what kind of sludge fills that cup) to Frohike and sit down on the other side of him.

"He sleeping?" I hear one of them say. Langly, I think.

"Mm hm," Frohike says. "He was up a little bit ago."

Nobody talks for a long time, and I feel myself starting to drift off. Then I hear, "...Scully?"

Scully? My ears perk up.

"Left. ...Think she's... maybe uncomfortable."

Confirming my suspicions. Well, at least I think so. The words are a blur. I wonder why I'm so tired after sleeping two hours. Might be connected to the throbbing in my head....

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The surroundings are different when I next wake up. I don't see Scully, or Skinner, or the Lone Gunmen anywhere, or anyone familiar for that matter, but rather an empty room that looks like the kind when you go to the regular doctor's office: a table lined with white paper, a sink, various equipment’s stuck to the wall, and in drawers on the other side of the room. I'm sitting on the examining table (I know because when I move, the paper under me crinkles) leaning against the wall behind me. How the hell had they brought me in asleep? And where _is_ everybody??

I slide off the table and wince as, jarred, my head begins hurting again. Damn, I thought I had shaken that. I walk out to the middle of the small room, then to the opposite end, and then back to the table where I started. I stand stock-still and listen. Nothing. Where are all the doctors and nurses? This is like a dream.... or an X-file.

I do a mental check. My head and ribs are hurting too much for it to be a dream. And it's too boring to be an X-file. Plus Scully's not here, so I couldn't be--

Scully. Where is she? She's always right next to me when I get hurt. But I guess
the last time she stood right next to me I must've scared her away. Too bad, I kinda liked her too.

When the door opens, it almost knocks me down, the room is so small. The doctor who walks in is a middle aged, efficient looking woman carrying a clipboard and fingering the stethoscope that circles her neck.

"Agent Mulder, how nice to see you up and about," she says, then briskly adds, "Please sit down."

With no real choice but to listen to her, I get back up on the exam table, feeling pretty much alone at this point.

The doctor consults her chart before she even looks up at me again. "I’m Dr. Gleason. If you are wondering how you got in here, let’s just say that we couldn’t wake you. You’d be in CT right now if we weren’t so clogged right now. Damn hospital remodeling."

Hospital remodeling. Perhaps that could work to my advantage.

"According to the woman who filled out your paperwork, a--" she pauses as she consults the chart in her hands, "Dr. Dana Scully, you were in a boating accident about two days ago. Is that right?"

I nod mutely and wait for her to continue, partly interested in what Scully told these people.

"And that you were released from a hospital in Bermuda last afternoon." She looks through her chart, not even looking at me as she speaks. "Concussion, three broken ribs, slight hypothermia, and numerous bruises, cuts, and contusions, some which required stitches. Since release has complained of headache, has had several losing bouts with nausea, and is most likely dehydrated." I could tell that the doctor was quoting directly from the chart and the coldness of Scully’s strictly professional opinion make me shiver. I couldn’t believe she’d written a statement like that and left.

My big mouth.

I’ll have to learn to close it.

Did I really make her feel that uncomfortable?

I found the doctor staring at me, her eyebrows raised as if asking if I agreed with "Dr. Scully’s" opinion. The expression only made me feel like more of an idiot.

An idiot with a big mouth.

Dr. Gleason decided I wasn’t going to answer so she began to take a look for herself, reaching for a penlight out of one of her lab coat pockets.

Did I ever mention I hate those damn little penlights?

She shines it into one of my eyes, immediately sending daggers of pain through my own head.

"Sorry," she says, before moving the light over to the next eye, muttering a "hmm" here and there.

There’s nothing more that I hate than those damn doctor’s "hmm’s." Why can’t they just come out of say what’s wrong.

She continued with other parts of the examination, including probing the bump on my hell (which hurt like hell, by the way), taking my temperature, and examining the big bruise that decorated my rib cage area.

"I hope you’ve got someone to help you with your admission papers," she says as soon as she finishes.

But I just got out of the hospital!

Damn it.

"I’m going to order another CT, not that I doubt that it was clear in Bermuda, I’d just want a look myself. Even if it is clear, you’re still not leaving tonight. I’ll have a nurse come in here and start an IV, Dr. Scully was right when she said you were dehydrated. The bruise on your rib cage is very tender to the touch, but I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that, and I’m a bit concerned about it. You’re running a fever, low grade, only about 100.5, but a fever none the less. If we run into another bout of vomiting, I’ll add Compazine to your list of medication." She was scribing in my chart as she spoke. "I get someone to bring you the paperwork."

She leaves, and I know it’s only a matter of time before the nurse comes it just ready to stick me, and the tests begin. I truly hate hospitals.

It wasn’t long before a nurse came in with a nice looking needle and I began to regret ever finding _out_ about the Queen Anne.

It was after the nurse jabbed me with that needle that I realized that I really did want someone here with me.

And her name was Dana Scully.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It was a good three hours before I got settled into room, still carrying my headache with me, along with a nice IV line. My guess was it was probably dawn by now, at least, maybe even later. The light in my room was beginning to hurt my eyes, so I asked the nurse to turn it down.

The Gunmen did come back to check up on me. They came bearing my laptop and a few choice websites, and most importantly, my cell phone. The nurse on my floor had moved the phone out of my reach, telling me it would only hinder my recovery, and I wasn’t about to jerk my head to reach it. Now I had the power of cellular phone service at my fingertips.

Question was, who was I going to call?

My fingers were itching to hit the memory one button, but I held back.

{It’s not like she stuck around.}

But there has to be an explanation.

{But do you really want to hear it, Mulder?}

I didn’t have an answer to that question.

I feel very alone at this point.

"Mulder?"

Suddenly I can’t stop the smile that appears on my face.

Scully.

"Scully, you’re back," I respond, happy that she is here but not knowing what else to say.

She nods. "Um.., I’m sorry I left," she said softly, then brightened up as she offered her hand up toward me.

"I brought you some sunflower seeds. For when you feel better of course," she adds with a hint a warning to her voice about what would happen if I were to devour them now.

"Thanks," I say as she places them on the table besides my bed.

She takes a seat in the chair besides my bed.

"I talked to your doctor, and she says that the CT was ok, not great but ok. Your brain got a good whack there and that probably explains why you’ve been feeling so bad. It’s nothing that a few days of _complete_ rest won’t cure. But I mean _complete_ rest, Mulder. You’ll probably be out of here by the day after tomorrow. The doctor just wants to keep you for observation. And don’t argue with it."

I won’t argue with it if I could. I was just glad that Scully was back at my bedside. I would stay here for a week if she asked.

Well, that might be pushing it.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I only manage to sleep in three hour periods for the next day (night?). Each time I wake up, feeling dizzy and disoriented, Scully is there. I wake up this time, feeling equally as bad as the previous occasions, and equally relieved to find my partner sitting next to me. Only this time she isn't sitting calmly in a chair, reading a magazine, she is pacing the room, looking angry. Wouldn't want to mess with _that_ federal agent. I feign sleep, but she catches me.

"Mulder, I can't believe this hospital!" she rants. She moves closer to the bed and I try hard not to wince. "I _told_ them that you didn’t respond well to morphine, but they gave it to you anyway!"

"Yeah?" I say, weakly.

"Yeah!" She stops pacing, studies me and calms down visibly. "I'm sorry. You don't need to worry about this. They took you off it, and you're on Demerol now. You'll start feeling better soon." She pauses, then sits down in the chair by my head and leans in close to me. "Mulder, I don't know how to explain this to you." Again, she stops. Then, "When you said you loved me--"

"I know," I tell her. "I know, and sorry." What can I say? "I was drugged." Like I am now, also. I'm struggling to keep my eyes open here, but it's obvious that Scully still has something to say.

"No, no it's not your fault. I just, since Emily, since my cancer.... since, I don't even _know_, I've told myself that I wouldn't get... _close_ to anybody." She laughs a little. "And I must say, you caught me off guard there." Scully looks down at her hands. "Was that really the drugs speaking?"

I don't know!! Maybe I should let them talk again, they seem to know pretty much what I'm thinking. Or do they? I can't figure that out right now. I shrug. "Dunno." Yup, very decisive there, Mulder.

Scully stares at her hands, clasped in her lap, then back at me. "Why don't you get some sleep." She doesn't sound like a doctor this time, more like... a friend.

I close my eyes in response and allow myself to drift off.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The next time I wake up, I've got someone's hand down my shirt. Well, my hospital gown to be more exact. The doctor from the ER (what was her name again?) pulls out her stethoscope and smiles at me.

"Everything looks good, Mr. Mulder," she says.

"Where's my partner?" I croak.

"Right here, Mulder," Scully steps out from behind the doctor and gives me a little smile.

"When can we blow this joint, Scully?" I ask.

"Not so fast, Mr. Mulder," the doctor (whose name I still can’t remember at this point – some photographic memory) says, answering for Scully. She pulls out her little penlight. I can feel myself wincing.

If aliens do ever take over Earth, I’m going to tell them to abolish all penlights.

I can just hear Scully laughing now.

The doctor turns on her penlight and shines into my left eye, and sure enough, it sends little daggers of hell through my skull. I try to keep my wincing to a minimum, and don’t stay a word, hoping both Scully and the doctor will not be able to tell.

Sure, and like my fish won’t be dead when I get home.

Well, my fish have survived worse before.

"You can quit with the bravery, Mr. Mulder. It’s not going to get you out of here any sooner. In fact, it may keep you here longer," the doctor says as she moves toward my right eye.

I am being to hate both boats and the ocean. Nothing but injuries, seasickness (I’ll never forget those 12 hours I spent in the tiny bathroom of a small ship), and detailed (and perhaps farfetched and ass-saving) reports and explanations.

Next time I’ll do an air search.

The doctor finally clicks off her penlight, slipping it back into her lab coat pocket.

"Feeling nauseous?"

I gulped as my thoughts turned back toward my stomach and the jello I had turned away the last time the nurse brought in food. While I wasn’t going to toss my guts up, I still was wary of something green and that _moves_.

I think I’ll get those aliens to abolish jello while I’m at it.

"No." I’m honest. At this moment in time, I’m not nauseous.

"But he hasn’t eaten anything," Scully volunteers and I resist the urge to turn my head and shoot her a dirty look.

The doctor raises her eyebrows at that and turns to the clock on my wall.

"It’s about 4:30 p.m. I refuse to send home a patient that hasn’t eaten anything. I think we’ll see how you do with dinner tonight and breakfast tomorrow. If it stays down and everything else looks ok, I’ll send you packing before noon."

Great not only do I have to spend other night in the hospital, but I also have to eat hospital food on top off it.

That’s it. I officially hate boats.

The doctor leaves and Scully looks at me.

"I have an appointment for the day after tomorrow with Kersh, Mulder."

Kersh. Damn it, forgot about him.

"It wasn’t like I was on a case, Scully. I don’t need to write a report for him." I curb my language and decide not to call him a sonofabitch. Despite what other people at the Bureau will stay, I can curb my language – when I want to.

"Right, but I haven’t been to work for almost five days, Mulder. I missed my meeting with him three days ago." I had a feeling that Scully was hiding more behind that story, but I don’t pry; I’ve learned that Scully doesn’t take well to prying. I can respect that.

It’s one of her quirks.

One of the things that make her, her.

{ "I love you." }

Does everything always come back to that?

Scully and I did have a conversation about that, but it’s a little fuzzy. And we never fully _completed_ it, that I remember. I remember regaining her friendship, but….

Scully has finished talking and has gone back to her chair. She’s looking back down at her magazine, but her eyes find their way up to me.

"What?" she asks, glancing back down at her magazine.

Then I know that it doesn’t matter. Talk or no talk, we’re ok. Not like normal friends, not like normal lovers. Not even like the normal in between.

We’re just _us._

And I decide that’s what we should be.

"Nothing," I reply, looking at toward the window of my private room.

At least for now.


"The End."


Thanks for reading! Cookie for you for making it to the end :-). As always feedback is worshipped and adored at JenR13@aol.com and JRDG1013@aol.com.

Visit the rest of our stories at:
http://members.tripod.com/~Jen1121/laurenjen.html