His Best Foot Forward

By Mary Kleinsmith (Buc252@aol.com)

Category: Challenge

Spoilers: everything up to season 7

Summary: Mulder suffers a most embarrassing accident, but it's even more embarrassing for Scully.

Rating: PG-13

Classification: MTA, MSR

Archive: Yes, anywhere

Disclaimer: Mulder, Scully, and everything related to them belong to Chris Carter (the jerk!) and 10-13, with magic added by David and Gillian. I'm only borrowing them, especially since the fic writers have a better sense of what to do with Mulder and Scully than CC and Company does. Still, I'm not making any money on this.

Acknowledgments: Thanks to Vickie, my most wonderful Beta, and for Sally and Dawn for being there when I needed a little encouragement and/or a big kick in the pants. This one took a little longer than I'd hoped, but I pray it was worth it.

Author's Note: This story is in response to a challenge issued by Sally awhile back for stories where Mulder sprains an ankle. I had only barely come up with the idea for this story when a second challenge came out (forgive me, but I don't know who issued it) for broken-leg stories. It just fit, so I decided to kill two challenges with one stone. I hope you all enjoy it!

Feedback: Please, please, please, please, please, please, please?

His Best Foot Forward

By Mary Kleinsmith (Buc252@aol.com)

Okay, okay. I know I'm overstepping my boundaries in epic proportions by being here, but I couldn't possibly stay away. Scully left work at half day today for a doctor's appointment. And not just any doctor's appointment, but her two-year remission checkup. How am I supposed to sit in that dark, empty apartment with nothing significant enough to distract me from what could be happening in that medical office just thirty minutes away. Nothing in my life is as significant as that.

I offered to go with her, can you believe that? Of course you can believe that. You know me, heart on my sleeve and all. I'd go with her over a cliff, why not to the doctor's office. But she turned me down - said it was something she had to do herself. So I sat alone in the basement office for a few hours, then another half hour in my car, only to spend another hour in my apartment before finally coming here. If Scully wants to beat the crap out of me, I'll plead temporary insanity.

Cripes, where the hell is she? It's been dark outside forever. When I sat down here on the couch, the setting sun shone through her windows. I didn't bother turning on the lights since the sun was there and the television added light to the room as well. But the hours dragged on and there was and is absolutely nothing worth watching on the tube.

It shouldn't be happening. I mean, jeez, I haven't gone to bed before midnight for over twenty years. But I can't seem to resist the pull as my eyes droop. I know I'd be more comfortable lying down, but I'm not going home until I hear what Scully's doctor had to say, good or bad. I'll just rest my eyes here on the couch. Scully has the most comfortable couch . . .


Okay, shoot me for staying out late on a work night, but I just had to stop by Mom's and give her the latest and greatest news on the medical front. God knows they put me through every possible test and then some, but it was worth it when the doctor spoke those final words: continued remission. I knew she'd be thrilled. Mom's always been the "early to bed, early to rise" type, but she sure didn't mind when she opened the door to me, standing there with a smile as wide as the one I had the very first day the remission came upon me.

We sat, talked for a bit over the hot cocoa I always loved so much as a child. My mother is by no means a saint, but if every mother could be half the mother she is, there'd be some wonderful children in this world. And while the chocolate made me more alert than I expected to be, it was quickly putting Mom to sleep. I left her to head home, figuring that a hot bath and a good book would do the job of getting the "wired" quality from my body, if not from my soul. I was healthy!

Little was I to know that the "high" I'd been on would quickly subside in the light of the long, lonely drive from Mom's house to my apartment. The radio wasn't much company, and while I let my mind wander, I'm embarrassed to think now that it hadn't even dawned on me to call Mulder. I'd promised him I would - how horrible of me to have forgotten my promise to call just as soon as I left the doctor. I have no excuse for my thoughtlessness. If I know Mulder, he's sitting up, even this late, practically on top of the phone waiting for my call.

I know it hurt him when I wouldn't let him drive me, and while I seem to keep hurting him over and over, as often realizing it as not, I just couldn't allow it. If the news was bad, I needed time to compose myself before having to tell him. He whose eyes reflected every bit of my own pain, mental as well as physical, as well as his own. Some day I'll tell him how much he means to me, the way he did a few years ago in his hallway.

It doesn't matter how late it is, I need to let him know what happened today. I owe him that much, no matter how tired I am. "Be it ever so humble," I think as I hang up my coat and reach for the cordless phone I know I left on the table near the door. Turning on a light would be intrusive, especially since I had no intention of doing so until morning. A bath by candlelight and a snuggle in my warm bed is all I want right now. In the darkness, I can make out the silhouette of my sofa. I'll tell you a secret: I love that sofa almost as much as Mulder loves his. It's just the right combination of softness and firmness. Maybe it's a mistake, but I plan to relish in that comfort while calling my partner, even if I am risking falling asleep right there.

"Yeowwwww!" The shriek registers in my ears before I realize the object I'm sitting on is too firm to be my sofa. I hear a whimper as I reach to turn on the light I'd previously chosen not to.

"Oh, Mulder!" I cry in astonishment. He's writhing on the sofa in a reclined position and obviously in pain. "Are you okay?" He's panting to the point that he can't really speak, but he grabs my hand and squeezes gently while his pulse settles closer to normal.

He can't seem to form the words to make a complete sentence, but he manages to point to the place where I'd sat and where his legs are still crossed at the ankles. Crossed and very definitely misshapen, I observe. "Oh, my God, Mulder . . ."

A few deep breaths and he can speak a little more. "How can somebody so little weigh so much?" he asks, incredulous. I know it's a rhetorical, smart-aleck remark and pay it no heed. I also know he's hurting.

"Mulder, how bad is it? Can you stand?"

"Yeah, I think so," he grinds out between clenched teeth, but as he pulls himself to a sitting position - he was previously reclining - he releases a gasp that borders on a scream.

When he continues to try to move, I have to say something. "Mulder, stop. Stop!"

"No, Scully. I can do this."

"I can't let you do this, Mulder. Just give me a chance to look at your legs first." Mulder gives a sigh of resignation, and I know I've won for the moment. My first move is to separate his crossed ankles. Admirably, he keeps from calling out again while I conduct my examination. It only takes a second, and I bend to pick up the phone where it unceremoniously landed when I dropped it.

"Who are you calling at a time like this?" Mulder asked incredulously. The pain has obviously affected his thinking processes.

"I'm calling for an ambulance!"

"No ambulance, Scully. Absolutely not. No way.." It really has affected him if he can't figure this one out.

"We have to have one," I reason with him. "You're hurt, Mulder. Sprains, maybe breaks, and in both ankles. I can't carry you to the car to drive you myself, so unless you want me to call Skinner and have him carry you there like a baby, an ambulance is the only answer." I knew that would get him. He likes Skinner. Heck, we both do. But he's got an image to maintain in front of the man, and that doesn't include being helpless.

"Okay, okay. Call the damn ambulance. But Skinner does not hear about this until it's over." I know he means the treatment, not the final healing time which, by my doctor's opinion, could be quite awhile. He waits while I make the call and then disconnect from the 911 Operator. The lack of any movement seems to have eased the pain slightly, and Mulder is now wearing an acutely embarrassed look.

"What's wrong?" I ask gently, taking his hand.

"How in the hell are we going to explain this, Scully? We can't go around telling people you sat on me!" His blush is now more embarrassment than pain.

"We have to tell the doctor the truth - it could affect your treatment. As for the rest of the world, why do we have to tell them anything?" I know this won't defer him for long - a cat's sense of curiosity is nothing compared to your average Bureau employee - but he doesn't need to be bothered with this unnecessarily. Unfortunately, it doesn't work, dammit.

"People at the office are going to ask. They're going to want to know and they're not going to let up until they've gotten an answer."

"So use the method I use on my nephews. Tell them the truth, just not the whole truth. You were asleep in a dark apartment and something accidentally fell on your legs. They don't have to know it was my apartment, nor that the object was me. We can worry about it more later."

"Would you do something for me before they get here?" Mulder asks timidly. I can't help but be suspicious of his intentions when he gets that tone.

"Depends, Mulder. No, I'm not helping you sneak out of here, and no, I'm not going to convince the doctor that you're hurt any less than you really and truly are."

"That's not what I wanted," he responds with an air of frustration. "Do you have a pair of those really, really sharp scissors that they use on bandages and clothes?

Without responding, I go quickly to the bathroom and return with just the kind he means. "What do you want them for?"

"I want you to cut the legs off these jeans," Mulder says, surprising the daylights out of me.

"Why do you want me to do that?!"

"If they're not in the way when we get to the hospital, the doctor won't order them removed. And if he has to do that, they'll destroy them and leave me nothing but my shorts to go home in! Please, Scully. Let me keep my dignity." His pleading voice is one of many things about Mulder I could never resist, even if the thought of him running around in his underwear does make my heart beat faster. I kneel beside the sofa, knowing there's little time to waste if I'm going to do this.

"Are you sure, Mulder? It's going to hurt."

"I can handle it. Just do it." And good to his word, he's silent but for some soft gasps as I run the blade up his legs and then around midway between his knee and thigh. And what a nice thigh it is. I realize that I'm staring, and not at the parts of his legs that are injured.

Shaking all thoughts but Mulder's pain from my mind, I try to make him as comfortable as possible while we wait. I know that this isn't a life-threatening emergency, but while I slide a pillow under his head and upper back, I find myself a little annoyed that it's taking so long for help to arrive. A man spends his life helping others as a law enforcement officer and this is the thanks he gets?

"Take it easy, Scully," Mulder says, reclaiming my hand. "I'm sure they're getting here as fast as they can." Once again, the man has managed to read my mind. I'd never use the nickname because of the pain he experiences when somebody does, but my partner really is spooky at times.

We sit in silence, holding hands, until a pounding finally arrives at my door. I admit the paramedics who came with the ambulance, suppressing my guilty feelings when they splint both legs from Mulder's calves to his toes. How could I have been so careless? What had previously been a gleeful evening has changed into anything but. They start an IV and give Mulder a dose of Morphine for pain and then move him to the gurney they'd brought. "I'm coming with you," is all I say as I grab my purse and keys and follow them.


Why is it that I can find trouble even when I'm asleep? One minute I'm quietly asleep on Scully's couch, and the next I'm on my way to the hospital with splints on my legs. I'm never as accident prone as I am when Scully's around - I wonder why that is. I play basketball at the park or the Bureau gymnasium twice a week and never a scratch. Basketball and baseball all through high school and never once had to see a doctor. And I played Rugby, possibly the most dangerous sport on earth, if the press is to be believed, for four years and was the epitome of health. Scully comes within ten feet and I turn into Bobby Goldsboro. Remember that guy? Had to have stitches in his foot one time because he cut his toe on a corn flake! It was an ongoing joke back in the 70's when I was growing up, but I never dreamed I'd turn into him.

I'll grant you, some of the time I bring it on myself in a way. I'm so careful to try to do everything right so she won't leave me that I end up doing something stupid. Like falling through that floor in Chicago. I should have noticed that the saturated boards had become weak, but I was concentrating on helping the woman and didn't. And the truth is, I just wanted to look good for Scully.

Sheesh, when they talk about your mind wandering, they're not kidding. Whatever they shot into this damn IV is definitely making it all fade into the background. All but my Scully, who's sitting next to me in the ambulance with that adorably guilty look on her face. "It's okay, Scully. Please don't look like that," I entreat her.

"Like what, Mulder?" she asks, keeping it simple because she knows I'm in no condition to get into an intelligent conversation at the moment.

"Like you just lost your best friend, through your own fault. This was an accident - nothing more, nothing less. So don't blame yourself."

"I don't think it can be much more my responsibility. Mulder, I sat on you!"

I do my best to put her at ease, and the drugs let me say something I haven't had the courage to say before. "Scully, you don't know how long I've been wishing you'd do just that." I try my lascivious grin, but I'm not sure I pull it off. Still, I'm rewarded when I get to see her blush a deep crimson.

Suddenly, before I can enjoy it for too long, the surroundings grow dark again and before I know it, I'm asleep.

I come to with a bolt of agony through both legs as the gurney is lowered less than gently to the emergency room entrance floor. What the hell is wrong with them that they can't understand when something is going to cause a person pain?

Scully hears my gasp, though, and is defending me in a fraction of a second. "Take it easy, will you? There's a federal agent in pain here, and I won't have his discomfort inflated because of your stupidity." Wow, I've never heard Scully quite so harsh to somebody besides me.

"Take it easy yourself, lady. We're just doing our jobs," I hear a deep, but less than intelligent, voice respond rudely.

"And so will I be when I place you under arrest for assault on an agent of the FBI," Scully responds sharply while wiping the tears from my eyelashes as the gurney continues to roll. "And don't think I won't do it," she adds harshly.

The men are silent to her threat, but I do feel like the ride is suddenly much more smooth. With a comfortable ride and Scully at my side to protect me, I drift off once again. I'm sure they'll wake me when they need anything.


I'm glad to see that it's a slow night in the ER, and a doctor comes to the cubicle where they've put Mulder fairly quickly.

"Good evening, I'm Dr. Susan Troop," the woman in the white coat says as she enters. I've already given the nurse all Mulder's medical information, and I see that the tall brunette has what is surely his chart tucked under one arm.

"Dana Scully, I'm Agent Mulder's partner," I say, shaking her hand. She has a kind smile, which bolsters my confidence a bit. "I'm a forensic pathologist, so feel free to be as medically specific as you want." I smile as she laughs lightly at my joke, but takes it to heart and scribbles a note on the chart.

"Can you tell me what happened to your partner, Dr Scully?" The moment of truth. What do I tell her?

"Something heavy fell on his legs while he was in a reclining position. I know I'm out of practice, but I'm pretty sure there's one break, possibly a second on the other leg."

"How heavy was the object that fell on him?"

"About 110 pounds," I say, thanking God that she didn't ask specifically what it was.

"Ouch," she responds simply, going to the foot of Mulder's gurney. She gently removes the splints, being sure to keep both his legs immobile. Running her hands over the affected area, she speaks to a woman who pokes her head through the curtain. "Sally, could you call for a mobile x-ray machine? I don't think I want to move this one any more than necessary." Sally nods and leaves as silently as she arrived.

I'm impressed by the efficiency of the staff here, as the machine arrives faster than I ever thought possible. Dr. Troop and I leave the room while the x-ray technician does her job. I keep my ears open, hoping that Mulder will sleep through the procedure if for no other reason than to limit the amount of time he'll be in pain. The minute the technician leaves, I return to Mulder, taking his hand in my own. He's showing signs of consciousness, and I definitely don't want him to feel alone. I can't believe I did this to him.

"Scully," he says drowsily. "How long was I out?"

"Not long," I respond. "That morphine really hit you hard. But luckily, you slept through the x-rays, and now we just have to wait until we get the results. We'll know more then."

A worried look settles over his features, and my heart aches. "How'm I going to work like this?" he asks. He must still be a little out of it if he's even thinking about the office.

"Obviously, you aren't. You're going to rest up and stay home until you're fully healed." I make a mental note to myself that I did not say whose home, just so it can't come back to haunt me later.

I notice Mulder's breathing has sped up suddenly. "Are you okay?" I ask, laying a hand on his forehead.

"I think that morphine you were talking about has worn off," he grimaces, closing his eyes. I massage his temples and try to speak soothingly, telling him that the doctor will be back soon and we'll have a better idea of what he needs to make him better. It works, and the time flows surprisingly quickly.

Before I know it, Dr. Troop is back with a large envelope in her hand. I watch her as she pulls out what I presume are Mulder's x-rays and slides them onto the wall before flicking a switch to illuminate them. Even if I hadn't had eight years of medical school I'd be able to recognize the break in the x-ray of his right ankle. The other x-ray of the left looks odd, but I don't see any breaks.

To confirm my own diagnoses, the doctor pronounces Mulder's right ankle very thoroughly broken. His left leg, while not necessarily okay, shows no fractures. Dr. Troop returns to Mulder, running gentle hands over his ankle that make him wince. "Mmmm hmmmm," is all she says while I'm on pins and needles waiting for the verdict.

Before she speaks to either of us, though, she speaks to somebody outside the cubicle, presumably the same nurse. "Sally, would you get me a dose of Propofol and call the resident from orthopedics?"

I hear a quiet, softly accented, "yes, doctor" before Troop turns back to us.

"Mr. Mulder, I'm going to hand you over to our orthopedic resident, but what you have here is a clean break in your right leg, and pretty bad sprain of your left ankle." Mulder's face falls like a little boy who's just been told that there is no Santa Claus. "Don't worry, though," she tries to encourage. "The damage is relatively minor, and we'll have you fixed up in no time."

"Yippee," says my partner in a tone that definitely does not normally accompany that word. "So what next?" Just at that moment, the brunette nurse returns carrying a tray holding a rather large hypodermic containing a cloudy, milky-white colored liquid. I breathe a sigh of relief as I realize that it'll be going into his IV port and not into his tanned skin.

Dr. Troop takes the needle from Sally's tray, preparing to administer the drug. "I'm going to put this into your IV to help relax you. Once we're sure you won't be suffering any pain from the procedure, Sally here will take you where they'll set and cast your leg. When you're done, I'll wrap the sprain myself."

"Excuse me, doctor," I say, trying not to get in the way, but curious. "Why don't you wrap the sprain now? It seems like it would be easier than your having to come back to treat Mulder again later."

She answers while she depresses the plunger. "There really isn't any reason I couldn't, but this sprain is pretty bad. It's going to take a firm wrapping. I just figured Mr. Mulder could use whatever time he can get to be comfortable." I mentally confirm then how laid up Mulder is going to be for the next several weeks. He's not going to be able to go home, that's for sure. But Mulder, as usual, is only thinking about one thing.

"How long before I can go back to work, Doc?"

"Depending on how you're feeling, but you could theoretically go back to desk duty tomorrow. As for field work, why don't we just wait and see what the orthopedist says." She pats Mulder on the arm as she assures him that somebody will be in to collect him soon, and that she has other patients to see.

"Is there anything I can get you while you wait?" the nurse, Sally, asks politely. I realize that the accent I'd be trying so very hard to place is Australian. It's soft, though, and gentle. Thank God not everyone sounds like the Crocodile Hunter.

"Coffee would be great, thanks," I say as I watch Mulder's eyes slide shut. "I think what he's already having is plenty for him." We exchange smiles as she quickly leaves to get me a cup of steaming brew. I realize that it's now what most would consider the middle of the night. Guess neither one of us is going to make it to the office tomorrow, partner.

When Sally returns with my coffee, she informs me that there's a slight backup in orthopedics, but that we'll be headed down there in fifteen or twenty minutes. Not so long, and Mulder is still sawing logs, so I wait. And wait.

It's been just long enough that I've immersed myself in a medical journal I found on one of the nearby carts when a long, slow groan draws my attention. I'd know that voice anywhere, even if I wasn't standing here watching him sleep. The groans continue, but his rapid eye movement beneath the lids tell me that he's only dreaming. I doubt I'd be able to wake him with the drug in his system anyway, so I decide not to try.

Before I know it, his arms are moving beneath the sheet Dr. Troop pulled up around his shoulders before she left. Concerned that he's going to pull out his IV, I begin to reach under the thin piece of linen.

"Mmmmm. . . Scully . . ." he utters unclearly.

"I'm here, Mulder," I answer. Maybe the medication is wearing off prematurely?

My thoughts are contradicted drastically when I hear the sound of a zipper echo through the curtained room. "Oh, Scully. . ." he says again, and I feel myself turning beet red at what I now realize he's doing beneath the sheet. "Love you, Scully . . ." he says, and my previous shock escalates by leaps and bounds.

"Just relax, Mulder," I say, doing my best to calm him without getting my hands anyplace they shouldn't be. Okay, I'd be a liar if I said I'd never thought about what it would be like to be with Mulder, but this is a hospital and he's injured. Now is not the time, even for dreams.

"It's okay, Dr. Scully," Sally says with a smile and a gleam in her eye. I hadn't even realized she'd entered the room. "The Propofol is notorious for causing this reaction - he probably doesn't even know what he's doing." I do my best to hide my blush while thanking her for the information just the same. Just when I think I'll be left to calm myself in private, she adds, "they called and are ready for him. Would you like to come along?"

"Absolutely," I add, relieved to put my mind toward more medical matters as I follow the rolling gurney through the halls.

The young resident is encasing my partner's right leg in plaster before he begins to show signs that he's more coherent. He watches bleary-eyed as the finishing touches are put on his cast. He was in no position to ask, and when the doctor asked what color he'd like for his cast, I felt for a moment tempted to get even with him for some of his past infamous ditches. They come in colors now, can you believe it? And despite the temptation, Mulder is not now sporting a new, neon pink cast . . .

It's neon orange.

I'm sincerely hoping that I'll get Mulder home, or at least in a cab toward home, before he realizes what I've done. Not that he doesn't have a sense of humor - he's got a great one - but he generally finds mine a little indistinguishable. Before I can give it much more thought, I take a closer look at the orange bulk adorning the lower half of my partner's leg.

"You put on a walking cast?"

"Yes, ma'am. Is there a problem?" the orthopedist asks innocently.

"Perhaps you didn't realize that Agent Mulder's other ankle is sprained. He's not going to be doing any walking for awhile."

"Yes, but once the sprain heals, I have a feeling he's going to be a lot more agreeable if he can walk around on the cast rather than resort to crutches." He smiles at me as if he's known Mulder all his life.

"How'd you know. . ."

"I've treated federal agents before, Dr. Scully. And despite each of their claims that they are unique, I do find they have certain . . . similarities." We exchange another smile before he turns to the orderly who has been assisting him. "Why don't you take Agent Mulder back to the ER so these nice people can get out of here. I'm sure they've seen more than enough of the hospital for one night."

One very long night, I think, as I realize it's almost dawn. And I know that the fight has barely begun.

"Nice to see you back, Mr. Mulder," Sally greets with a friendly squeeze to Mulder's arm as he is settled back in the same ER cubicle, and I'm surprised to realize that I'm not feeling jealous, as I sometimes do. I know she's just trying to help. "Dr. Troop will be back in to see you in just a minute - she's just finishing bandaging a laceration in the next room."

For a change, we don't have to wait, and the doctor arrives quickly. She's been wrapping Mulder's sprained left ankle for a few minutes before she decides he's coherent enough to give him his instructions. This is generally where a typical visit to the hospital with Mulder goes south - big time.

"Mr. Mulder, I need you to keep this wrapped securely for two weeks. You can take the bandage off for showers or baths, but it should be re-wrapped as soon as is practical afterwards, and you should put absolutely no pressure on it whatsoever. I'm going to give Dr. Scully a prescription for some Tylenol 3 in case the pain from the break gets too severe, but I doubt it'll be a problem. The hospital will be happy to lend you a wheelchair until you're back on your feet. Heaven knows, given your record, we owe you at least that much." She'd obviously been perusing his file while we were down in orthopedics.

"I don't need a wheelchair," I hear Mulder's voice say, strong and clear, and I realize he's back. One hundred percent. And he's raring to make a nuisance of himself.

"Mulder, I can't carry you out of here . . ."

"Mr. Mulder, what do you plan to do? Crawl on your hands and knees?"

"No, of course not. If I'm not mistaken, that's a walking cast. I intend to walk."

"It takes two legs to walk, Mulder."

"So? You take the wheelchair and trade it in on a pair of crutches. It only takes one leg to use crutches," he adds petulantly.

"Mr. Mulder," Dr. Troop begins exasperatedly. "What do you think you're going to do? Walk on the cast while keeping your sprained ankle off the floor until it heals, then using your healed leg and the crutches while the break heals?" You didn't have to be as familiar with my partner as I am to see that she'd nailed it in one. "I'm sorry to disappoint you, Mr. Mulder, but it just doesn't work that way. If you walk on that cast this early in the game, you could permanently debilitate yourself. Would you like to find yourself out of a job because you could no longer run or walk or even stand? Don't underestimate the importance of taking proper care of what seems like a simple sprain and break. Your life - your lifestyle - depends on it."

Mulder seems properly chastised, and while he still eyes the wheelchair with disdain, he lets Dr. Troop and I get him settled in it with only a little difficulty. "Scully, how am I going to maneuver this thing around my apartment?" he asks as I wheel him out to the cab they've so graciously summoned. It occurs to me that I haven't called Skinner yet to report we won't be in today, but I figure I'll do it when I get home. When we get home.

"You're not going back to your apartment," I say, waiting for the explosion that never comes. I wonder if he heard me correctly. "I'm going to take you home with me, Mulder. My home is easier to get around, and in a couple days when we go back to work, it'll be easier to drive there and back if we go together. I can help you rewrap your ankle, too. I promise, Mulder, it won't be as bad as you think."

"I don't think it's bad at all," he says, taking me completely off guard. "I mean, after all, you do owe me after that," he waves at the cast.

"I already told you I was sorry, Mulder. How can I make you believe that I didn't see you!"

"It's not the break I'm talking about," he exclaims. "It's the cast! That horrible, fluorescent orange cast. You did that to me - I know it! They wouldn't have put that color on without being told." And despite the angry words, he can't help but stifle a grin.

"Well, look at it this way. There's not a chance in the world it'll happen again with that glowing in the dark!" We laugh, and I'm relieved to know that Mulder, despite being laid up yet again, is okay with it.

Despite everything, once Mulder is settled in the Scully household, he behaves himself quite well. Who'd have thought it? To be honest, I think he's feeling guilty over how guilty I was feeling. The little weasel even manages to get around the obstacle of the horrible color of his cast, aided and abetted by somebody I never suspect but should: my own beloved mother.

The first day we are home, I call to let her know what's going on, and she insistes on bringing over a lasagna for us since I would "be too busy taking care of poor Fox to even think about cooking." Believe me, I'm not complaining. For a pure-bred Irish, my mother makes a hell of a lasagna. I invite her to stay, an invitation which she graciously accepts. I seriously don't know how she figured it out, but the next day while I'm at work, she apparently paid my partner a visit because, upon returning home, he has a cozy-looking, home-knitted black cover that runs from his knee down. He says it's just to keep his toes from getting cold, but I know better, and I know where it came from. Darn the woman for spoiling my fun.

That was the only day of work Mulder missed, and I admit, I'm proud of him. Despite the embarrassment involved, he makes the trip through the Bureau to our basement office with dignity. It never ceases to amaze me how he can do that. The entire Hoover building can be laughing at him, but Mulder keeps his cool. It's one of the many things I love about him.


It's been a week and a half of having Mulder around my apartment, and every time there's a moment of silence, I remember Mulder's promise . . . or Mulder's jest, depending on how one takes it. He's been throwing innuendoes at me for seven years, and for seven years I've been letting them fly by me like an out-of-bounds serve in a tennis match. It's about time I returned one, I think.


Despite the fact that I'm sitting here with both legs essentially useless, I have more energy than I know what to do with at the moment. Normally, when I feel like this, I go for a run around the neighborhood or head to the gym to shoot some hoops with whoever may be hanging around, but neither of those are going to do it at this point. I suppose I could go to the Y and do some weight lifting if I can convince Scully to take me. But it's late, and I seriously don't think she's about to drive me anywhere after 9:00 pm on a work night. So I sit here, seeing how quickly I can flick through the channels on the TV she's graciously moved into the guest room in deference to my comfort. Sure, I could prop my useless legs on her coffee table, but I think she prefers this.

Suddenly, she's standing in the doorway in her robe, watching me with serious eyes. I wonder what's wrong, and ask her so, not truly expecting her to reveal her innermost thoughts. Scully keeps her cards closely guarded, and her emotions even more so. Yet I'm surprised when she walks over to the bed and reaches for the remote, shutting off the TV. Our eyes meet, and she speaks with a quiet, phantom-like voice.

"Mulder, you've never heard the words from me, but you do know that I love you, don't you?"

I'm taken totally aback by her confession - she's never been so open before. Not that it's such a surprise that she admits it. We've been admitting it with everything short of saying the actual words for a long time now. Guess she just got tired of mincing words. When she repeats, "don't you?" I slowly nod my head.

"Good," she says, smiling devilishly, and I realize this is a Scully I've never seen before. I admit, I like it. "Because you asked for something when you were hurt, and since this mess is entirely my fault, I intend to see that you get it."

"What did I ask for?" I inquire, not remembering anything of that night but the pain in my legs.

Her answer is completely non-verbal, as her robe floats its way to the floor, revealing creamy flesh and nothing else. I watch in stunned silence as I hear our own words repeated in my mind:

"Mulder, I sat on you!"

"Scully, you don't know how long I've been wishing you'd do just that."

I guess she knows. And I'm going to know very soon as well, as she pushes the bedroom door shut, cutting us off from the outside world in our own haven of warmth.