Winner and Still Champion - Not!|
By Mary Kleinsmith (Buc252@aol.com)
Summary: Post-Schizogeny. Mulder's pulled out of the mud - you didn't really think he was okay, did you?
Keywords: UST, MT, Post-Ep for After-the-Fact's Schizogeny challenge.
Disclaimer: We've all written these a million times and know what they say. They belong to others, not me. I'm making no money, so please don't sue.
Author's Comments: This one is a bit odd, starts out serious and gets gradually more humorous as it goes on. I hope you all enjoy it.
Archive: ATF site, and then anywhere else. Just keep my name attached.
Feedback: Yes, yes, yes, yes. Pleeeeeeeeze?
Winner and Still Champion - Not!
By Mary Kleinsmith (Buc252@aol.com)
Mulder had barely gotten his feet under him when the forest suddenly swam in his vision. Somehow, Scully sensed or knew, because her arm came around him, steadying him and keeping him vertical.
"Thank God, Mulder," Scully panted, her eyes flitting over his features. "We saw your car . . . I was afraid you were dead."
"Takes more than a few rebellious trees to get rid of me, you should know that by now," he said with a tight grin. You didn't have to be a physician to see he was in pain, and there was blood on his forehead and temple.
"Mulder, we need to get you to a doctor to have your head looked at. You could have a concussion."
"I've had concussions before, Scully, and this isn't one. Just give me a minute."
As he leaned on her, she wondered if he was even capable of seeing straight. He can object all he wants, she thought, but he's going. Even if I have to drag him.
"C'mon, Mulder. One foot in front of the other. I'll get you to the hospital, they'll give you the once over, and you'll be free to get some rest. But first, we've got to get to the car."
"We shouldn't leave the body, Scully. And we can't tell the cops. Who knows what'll happen if the local police department come in here and take control."
"I'll call the local field office on our way to the hospital, I promise. They'll make sure that I get to autopsy the body. They'll keep it on the up-and-up. Okay?" She thought how, six years ago, she would have fought him tooth and nail on that point, leaving a murder scene without telling the local law enforcement, but times had changed, and her trust in her partner had grown.
Mulder nodded silently, and immediately regretted it. Maybe he'd underestimated just how badly he'd been hurt when the tree and his car made contact. He didn't think so, but at the moment, head movement was definitely on the "not the best idea in the world" list. He felt her pull on him, and realized there'd be no arguing with her. When was there ever?
Okay, the intent was there, he wanted to go with her, he really did. However, his body had other ideas.
"Mulder!" Scully practically screeched as her partner toppled to the moist ground beside her. She dropped to the dirt beside him, her hands going to his head. "Why do you always have to be so stubborn?"
"It's not my head," Mulder mumbled, pushing himself to a sitting position.
"Yeah, right. It's perfectly normal for a totally healthy 38 year old man to fall over for no reason."
"It's not like it hasn't happened before," he joked, but she didn't laugh.
"Then explain what's happening. Be honest with me," she entreated, and he couldn't resist her.
"Okay, yes, my head hurts. But I fell because my ankle gave out. It's killing me!"
"Oh, my God, Mulder. Why didn't you say something sooner! Did you hurt it running through the woods or in the car accident."
"Neither, but you'll never believe what happened, so can we just get to the car?" He seemed discouraged as well as in pain.
"Well, I'm not going to argue about it here. Let's just get you out of here. We can talk about it at the hospital."
"Might as well. We'll be waiting there for four hours waiting to be taken," he responded, reaching for her.
Finally, they managed to get him on his feet again. Mulder glanced around, taking in the view from this new height. "Hey, where'd everybody go?"
"Home, I guess," Scully said with a shrug he felt under his arm where she supported him. "Away from here, and that, at least," she added, nodding to the indent still visible where Karen had been absorbed by the mud that had almost claimed her partner.
It wasn't easy, but they made it to Mulder's car. Bobby's mother's car, which they'd used to follow, was markedly missing, so Scully inspected the damage.
"Think it'll run?" she asked him as he leaned against the side of the vehicle.
"Only one way to find out," he remarked tossing her the keys. "Up to you, partner. I don't think I'm in much of a condition to drive."
"Mulder, even if it runs, this car has no windshield, and there's glass all over everywhere. It's not safe to drive."
"Well, the alternative is to wait here while we call the local office. Do you really want to wait that long?"
"You have an injured ankle and undetermined head injuries, Mulder. No, I don't want to wait. We could call an ambulance," she proposed. She wasn't sure if his pain-filled expression was from his injuries or her suggestion.
"Can I interest you in a compromise?" he asked, wincing.
Scully looked immediately wary. "Depends. What are you thinking?"
"First, you help me sit down. 'Cause I'm not sure how much longer I can stand." He began to slide down the side of the car, and she made a quick grab for him, pinning him standing.
"Okay, that seems like a good idea. What's the rest of it?" she asked as she opened the rear door and lowered him to the seat.
"We call the local police. They probably have a cruiser in the area, they can get the car towed, file an accident report, and take us wherever we need - which, I have a feeling you'll insist, will be the hospital."
"You'd better believe it, or did you miss what I've been saying all along?" Scully said, pulling out her cell phone. She dialed 911, and Mulder listened as she talked to the operator about their predicament.
"Don't tell them about Karen," he whispered, and she nodded her understanding.
Finally, she clicked the end button.
"She said a squad car can be here in about fifteen minutes since it's a non-emergency. They'll also bring a tow truck, and they said the officer could transport us to the hospital that's about twenty minutes away. Think you'll be okay for thirty-five minutes, Mulder?"
"Scully, you worry too much. I'm fine!"
"How do you figure being unable to walk as being 'fine?'"
"Okay, mostly fine. My leg is hurt, but the rest of me isn't."
"Well, then," Scully said sardonically, handing him a white piece of cloth. "Take my handkerchief and hold it against your temple. You're still bleeding from where you're not hurt."
With a flush, Mulder took it from her. "Thanks." He shivered slightly, pulling his coat tighter around him with one hand. "Damn, it's getting cold out here."
"Are you sure it's just that, Mulder? I'd hate for you to be going into shock."
"Scully, can't you stop thinking like a doctor for just a minute. It's cold out here! Look!" He puffed a breath out of his mouth and they watched the smoke.
"Okay, but if it starts feeling worse than it should, promise you'll tell me?"
"There is one more thing I need to tell you, and you're not going to like it," she said with a half-grin. "There's no way the police are going to let you into their car like that."
Mulder looked down at himself, realizing that he was covered in mud nearly up to his neck. He almost didn't hear the trunk slam. "Here. If I know you, you've got a sweat suit in here. Put it on."
He smiled wickedly. "Promise to peek, Scully?"
"In your dreams, Mulder," she shot right back, and he stifled a laugh.
He quickly shed his overcoat and suit jacket, then took off his tie. The sweatshirt fit easily over his dress shirt, allowing an extra layer of warmth against the cold Mississippi night.
When she turned around to see how he was doing, he was studying the sweatpants with a puzzled look. "What's wrong?"
"The legs are elasticized. I'm never going to be able to get them on over my shoes. Especially not without getting mud all over them."
"So take off your shoes. There's sneakers in the bag too, aren't there?"
"Yeah, but that's not quite the problem." He looked self conscious, and she immediately picked up on his meaning.
"Would you let me help you?" she asked. What good was a friend if you couldn't help each other?
"I'd appreciate it," he said simply.
She knelt in front of him, gently taking his right calf in her left hand as she unlaced the laces. Each tug was obviously a new experience in pain, but he bit his lip and let her keep going. She gently loosened the laces and pulled the tongue away from his foot, while he graduated to clenching his teeth together tightly.
When she began to pull the shoe from his heel, it finally got to be too much, and he let out a shriek.
"Scully, stop, stop, stop!"
"Oh, Mulder!" she responded, realizing just how bad he must be hurting. "I'm sorry, I know it hurts. I really need to get your sock and shoe off, though. I should have done it before to check out just how badly you injured yourself. It shouldn't have waited this long." Her voice was self-chastizing.
"Check it out all you want, Scully, but try not to kill me, wouldya?" Mulder panted. "And make it quick - I'm freezing and the cops will be here soon. Last thing I want is one of Minnesota's finest to find me with my shorts hanging out."
"At least it would be your shorts - if you were one of those guys inclined to 'go commando,' there'd be a whole lot more hanging out than that." She blushed, and couldn't believe she'd actually said that. He chuckled, though, so she bowed her head and examined him more closely. Finally, with no more than a few additional grunts from her patient, she managed to get off the shoe and sock.
"Oh, my God, Mulder. . ." The ankle was black and blue, with a blood-red strip across the center, and swollen to nearly twice its normal size. "We should have never had you walking on this!"
"Well, we won't anymore, okay? The cops are gonna be here any second, so can we . . ." He waved the sweatpants in the air frustratedly.
"Can you do this on your own, or do you want some help?" she asked, their eyes meeting over the implications.
Mulder hesitated for a moment before quietly admitting, "yeah, I think I'm going to need a hand. I'm sorry."
"Don't be," she said as she watched him unfastening his dress pants. "Lift your hips," she instructed as he used his arms and one leg to lift himself so she could slide them down his legs. Once they were off, goosebumps instantly sprang up on his skin. "Can we hurry, Scully?" he shivered.
"There's one problem, Mulder. We're not going to be able to get this elastic over the swelling, it's just not going to happen."
"Scully, I am not going to arrive at the hospital in my boxers. Either figure out a way for me to get into these, or I'm putting the muddy ones back on, to hell with the cop's upholstery."
"Well, the only other thing I can come up with would include having to replace your sweats."
"I don't care, just do it!" Mulder said, shivering even more. He covered himself with his overcoat, trying for more warmth, while he watched Scully open the trunk again. He heard a zippering noise, and then she was back at his side.
Taking the sweats from him, she located the right leg and, using a pair of medical scissors, she sliced up the side seam to the knee. She gently guided the injured foot into the cut pant leg, then helped to get them the rest of the way on in silence. He even bit his tongue when her hand accidentally brushed his groin, inciting an embarrassing reaction which she, gratefully, ignored.
Bright lights illuminated them as she seated his waistband in place. By the time she was standing upright, there was a door slam.
"Excuse me, kids. I'm not interrupting anything, am I?" A uniformed officer, bordering on retirement age, smiled at them warmly. He was playing with them, wasn't he?
"We're Agents Mulder and Scully," she said, displaying her badge. "I'm sorry abut that, but he was covered in mud and I . . ."
"Never mind, Agent Scully. I was just razzing ya," the friendly voice said. "Dispatch told me that there was an agent in distress here."
"I'd hardly say distress . . ." Mulder commented, then Scully interrupted.
"Agent Mulder has cranial lacerations and an injured ankle. Could you get a tow truck for our car, and take us to the nearest hospital?"
"Of course, no problem. Need a hand there, Agent Mulder? You don't look so good."
"I've had better nights, that's for sure."
It was obvious to the officer which leg was giving the agent problems, so he approached that side, putting an arm around Mulder's back. "Up we go!"
Scully grabbed his shoe and the ID and weapon out of his jacket, joining him at the squad car as the officer lowered Mulder into the back seat. He pushed himself to the far side, resting both his legs on the bench seat.
"You can sit up front with me if you like, Agent Scully."
"I think I'd better sit with him and make sure he doesn't hurt himself any more than he already has," she smiled at him. Lifting Mulder's legs gently, she settled herself on the seat, taking them into her lap. She couldn't help but notice his wince.
"I'm sorry, Mulder."
Being brought into the emergency room by a police cruiser was apparently enough to get your preferential treatment, because they were met at the door by an nurse and a burly orderly with a wheelchair. The pros were better equipped at handling an injured person, because they had Mulder moved from the car to the treatment room with a minimum of discomfort. He was relieved to find Scully right behind him as the chair drew abreast of a treatment table.
"Can you get up on the table on your own, Agent Mulder, or will you need some help?"
Mulder managed to avoid the embarrassment of being lifted from the chair to the bed, but needed assistance to get there. He was just settled on the gurney when a man in white entered the cubicle.
"Good evening, Mr. Mulder," he said, glancing at the chart he held. Damn, it was amazing how quickly they could start one of those things. "Let's see if we can figure out what's going on with you here, shall we?"
"I know what's going on - I just need you to fix it," Mulder said smartly.
"Okay, why don't you lie back and we'll take a look." He turned his attention to a matronly lady in white at his right. "Ann, why don't you clean up those head lacs. How did you get those, Agent Mulder?"
"My windshield had a disagreement with a falling tree. Glass everywhere," he added and flinched as the nurse put a moist cloth to his head to wipe away the worst of the blood.
"Check them thoroughly for glass shards," the doctor instructed. "Don't want any little pieces left inside when we seal 'em up."
"Will they need stitches?" Scully asked the nurse, alerting the medical people to her heretofore unnoticed presence.
"I'm not sure yet, Miss. . ."
"Agent Dana Scully. I'm his partner, and a forensic pathologist for the Bureau."
"If that's your subtle way of telling me you're not going anywhere, I had no intention of sending you out to the waiting room," the doctor said. Mulder thought he could get to like this guy. "Now about that ankle. . ."
Stepping up to the bed, the doctor pulled aside Mulder's pant leg, taking in the multi-colored limb. "Oh, dear. You have done a job on this one, haven't you? We'll need x-rays to see if it's broken or just sprained, but what about this rope burn? It looks like your entire weight was dragged by the ankle!"
"It was something like that, yes," Mulder said, knowing that Scully wouldn't buy that story even before his eyes met hers. They communicated silently - he'd tell her more later. Much later.
"Well, we're going to have to find out what damage was done before we send you on your way. How's it coming, Ann?" he asked.
"Ouch!" came simultaneously, despite Mulder's attempts to be silent.
"Sorry about that, Agent Mulder," the nurse said. He caught the glancing reflection of light off a pair of tweezers near his eye. "I'm finding some pieces of glass here, but I think I've got them all. Just about ready for your examination, Doctor."
Before sending him to x-ray, the doctor closed the facial cuts with several butterfly bandages. "Replace these every day, Dr. Scully," he said. "Not that I think you need to be told."
"It wouldn't be the first time she bandaged me up, Doc," Mulder added with an attempted wink to his partner that was interrupted by the pain at his temple.
"Why am I not surprised?" the doctor responded with a smile. "Now, your partner and I are going to leave you while the kind nurse gets you ready to take down for your films." He turned to the nurse. "When he's ready, call for an orderly. I'll call x-ray and tell them he's coming down. They shouldn't take too long," he told both partners.
True to his word, they had Mulder back in the treatment cubicle before they knew it, and the x-rays were delivered a few moments later. The doctor put them on the lighted display board for examination.
A few "Mmm hmmms" later, he finally turned to Mulder and Scully.
"Well, Mr. Mulder, I hesitate to say it, but it could be worse. It appears that you have some torn ligaments and a hairline fracture in your ankle. Your head is fine. Not too bad, but you'll be laid up for a few weeks."
At Mulder's groan, he added, "but I see nothing here to keep you off the job, just out of the field. I'll even put on a lightweight cast for you."
Scully quickly stepped up beside the man, and they spoke in whispers while Mulder was left to wonder what was going on.
Two hours later, in a rented car headed back to DC, Scully tried her best to hide a grin.
"Why did you tell him to do it?" Mulder asked in aggravation. "Damn thing itches already."
"Mulder, it couldn't possibly. It's all in your head!"
"That's not the point," he said waving a hand. "I had that doctor in the palm of my hand. He was all set to give me a nice, comfortable soft cast until you just had to say something."
"Do you really think I did this just to inconvenience you? You know darn right well that a soft cast would last about twelve hours with you before it would be either destroyed or removed by your own hand. At least this way, I know you'll heal. Speaking of your injury, how did you get that 'rope burn.' I was there, and you were not dragged by the ankle."
"If I told you that it was done by a tree root that wrapped itself around my foot and dragged me into the mud with Bobby, would you believe me?"
"I always believe you, Mulder. But, after all, you did have a head injury. Not to mention a broken ankle. You'd be surprised what pain can do to a person's memory and interpretations."
"Scully, I didn't imagine it. And your reaction is exactly why I didn't tell the doctor what really happened either. You're all alike."
Scully grinned again. "Then you should believe me when I say it's necessary."
"This isn't the first time I've had a cast, Scully. How the hell do you expect me to get around in my apartment with this hunk of plaster. Not to mention shower!"
"Well, we'll figure that out after I've gotten you settled into my apartment for a few weeks," she said with a grin in her voice and a twinkle in her eye.
"When did I agree to that?!"
"You didn't, but if you think I'm coming all the way from Georgetown to Alexandria twice a day just to make sure you take your medication, you're out of that ever-so-intelligent mind of yours."
"It's been said before," Mulder muttered, slouching down further in the passenger seat. "It's not that I don't appreciate the sentiment, Scully, but you're not exactly the most flexible person to live with - and I've been alone too long."
"Mulder, it's your right leg. You can't drive. I can't drive all the way to your place every morning to pick you up for work, and you can't afford a cab. I promise, I won't cramp your style. I'll even go so far as to say that you can do anything at my place that you'd normally do in your own. Even monopolize the TV or watch your movies."
"You're serious?" Scully nodded. This had potential, he thought. "I can do anything I want . . . anything at all . . ."
"I said anything, Mulder, and I meant it! For two weeks, my house is your house. We can even stop at your place and bring over some things. Will you please stop whining about this now?"
"Very well, Agent Scully. Very well."
It was an agreement she should have known she'd regret. Why didn't I get the specifics in writing, she wondered as she returned from the grocery store and an early morning run. At least the weekend was finally here. It had been a mere four days, and look at the place!
Magazines and books were everywhere, she wasn't even sure which of them were hers and which were his. The sweats he'd shed that first night were still draped over the back of the sofa despite the elapsed time and the fact that there were small blood stains on the shirt from his head lacerations. Didn't he know that wouldn't come out if he didn't get some stain treatment on it? Too late now, she guessed.
The kitchen was even worse, although it wasn't as dirty as it was cluttered. At least he had the sense to wash his dirty dishes from the times he ate alone. Too bad she couldn't train him to dry them. And the clutter! There wasn't more than six inches of countertop space she could use to make a sandwich or butter a lousy slice of bread, let alone set down the groceries. The small table was covered in newspapers and tabloids except the barely necessary space for two adults to eat dinner.
She placed two sacs of groceries on the table, noticing the lack of any noise. Her own entrance had been silent as well, hopeful that he'd finally fallen asleep and was getting some rest. Emptying her sacs, she went to the small room off the kitchen, depositing the detergent and fabric softener on the washer/dryer combo that resided there.
She shook her head as she returned to put away the rest of the groceries. If the first four days were any example, Mulder's stay was going to be an experience unequalled in her lifetime.
She never expected to find herself so very correct. She'd just folded the empty grocery bags and slipped them into the recycle bin when a noise behind her caused her to spin around. And there, walking across her livingroom, was her partner, whistling and carrying a laundry basket . . . as naked as the day he was born.
Fortunately, or maybe not, his cargo blocked her from seeing anything she shouldn't, but the near-profile view didn't keep her from noticing one bare hip and the outline of his rounded butt. It was a moment before she realized that he wasn't even using the doctor-prescribed crutches.
"Mulder!" she screamed in surprise, apparently shocking him as much as he'd shocked her. It was like watching an accident in slow motion. The basket slipped from his hands, and he made a desperate grab for it while trying to see both it and his partner simultaneously. Unsuccessful, the grab was enough to throw him off balance, pitching forward to land in a heap on the floor. Of course, he couldn't help knocking his head on an end table on the way down.
"Oh, my God!"
"Scully, why didn't you tell me you were home," Mulder groaned groggily into the carpet. At least he was conscious.
She ran to him, hastily shoving aside the overturned laundry basket as she dropped to her knees beside him. "Are you okay, Mulder?"
"I'm not sure," he said, honestly for a change. "Is my head still attached?"
A risqué remark crossed Scully's mind before she pushed it aside and maintained her concern. "It looks like it, but I can't see where you hit. Can you roll over so I can check you out?"
He apparently wasn't hurt that badly. "If I roll over, you're going to be checking out a lot more than where I banged my forehead. And speaking of that, could you maybe hand me a towel or something?"
Embarrassed that she'd forgotten his state of undress, she quickly ran to the bathroom, returning with a bath blanket which she draped over his hips.
"Okay, Mulder. Let's see your face." With a groan and a hand keeping tight hold on the towel, he rolled onto his back. He lay quietly as she examined a large bump near his temple. "You've got a hell of a bump, but it didn't break the skin or reopen your old contusions. Track my finger." He did as he was told, and then she checked his pupils.
"You appear to be okay - no concussion, at least. Do you hurt anywhere else?"
"Does my ego count?" he asked with a wan smile.
"Only if your ego includes a part of your anatomy. Speaking of which, Mulder, what are you doing walking around my apartment naked?!"
"I ran out of shorts! I knew you were going to be gone for awhile, so I figured I'd get my laundry done before you got back." The corner of a mouth quirked up. "You're early, by the way."
"I'm sorry to have inconvenienced you," she smiled, relieved to see he was his old self. "How about if we get you up off the floor and onto the couch. Then I'll put your shorts in the washer while you sit and watch some television"
"I don't want you to wait on me, Scully."
"And I don't want you wandering around my apartment half naked. Or fully naked!"
"What ever happened to 'you can do anything at my place that you'd normally do at your own?'"
"Okay, I'm going to renege a little on that. You can do almost anything. Now let's get you up."
They managed to get to the sofa with no more injuries or severe embarrassments.
"Here, Mulder. Let me put your leg up on a pillow."
"It's okay, Scully . . ."
But it wasn't okay.
"Damn! Your cast is cracked in three places! One of them goes all the way from top to bottom. Mulder, we need to take you back to the hospital. Your leg could need to be reset, and we at least need the cast replaced! Does it hurt?"
"No, it doesn't, but . . ."
"It doesn't matter. We still need to get you to the hospital." Mulder watched as she rushed to the kitchen and grabbed her purse, returning to the couch. "C'mon, Mulder, I'll help you up."
"Scully! I'm not going anywhere like this!"
Scully blushed, realizing that, in her worry, she'd forgotten again. How oblivious could one woman be? "Shit. Do you have any clean sweats?"
"Yep, in the bag on the bed."
"Good." She disappeared for a moment and returned with them. "You're going commando, partner. Get these on." Fortunately, this pair had flared legs, so there was no cutting necessary. She turned her back while he slipped on the pants.
The drive to the hospital was silent until Mulder finally spoke. "I think I'm going to go home after this."
"Just because I don't want you running around my house naked?!"
"No, my ego can't take it! I remember somebody famous once said, "a man has never been so insulted as to have stood stark naked in front of a woman and she didn't notice - or care!"
"Oh, I noticed, Mulder. And I cared." And if you ever settle down and let yourself heal, she thought, when you're better, I might show you just how much.
Mulder didn't quite seem to know how to react to that, and the rest of the ride passed in silence.