By Mary Kleinsmith
Category: Especially Written for VS9
Spoilers: Anything up to Je Souhaite in Season 7
Summary: When the agents discover a man who can
make people dream whatever he wants, will they
have the strength to stop him?
Classification: XF, 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 Sally and Brenda for
the betas on this one, and for encouraging me in
my flights of fancy. And to Dawn,
Vickie, Susan, and Sheila, for boosting my
confidence when I wasn’t sure I could do this.
Feedback: Please, please, please, please, please,
By Mary Kleinsmith
The Rodgers Residence
The sun had arisen, but its rays didn’t penetrate
the thick drapes of the master bedroom. The room
itself was modestly furnished but decorated with
an obvious hominess and love.
The clock on the bedside table was an old-
fashioned digital, with small paddles that flipped
over to change the time every minute; the small
readout said 6:29 a.m. Monday. As the time moved
to the half hour, the alarm sounded, but the lump
under the quilt remained still.
When fifteen minutes had passed, a middle-aged
woman with a bit of distinguished gray entered the
room, letting in a bit of offensive light; she
didn’t care. “Adam, you’re going to be late for
work,” she said as she sat on the bed beside the
lump. “C’mon,” she added, shaking a shoulder
“Don’t wanna,” came a muffled response from
somewhere under the linen.
Yet when she didn’t leave him in peace, he finally
squinted up at her, then begrudgingly rolled to
his feet. He grumbled as he made his way
to the closet.
The same clock this time read 7:00 am Tuesday, and
the alarm blared unheeded. The drapes this time
were open, but the sunlight didn’t seem to have
any more success than the alarm clock was having
on the sleeping form. When Janet entered for the
second time in the last half hour, she angrily
yanked off the blankets before Adam could get a
good grip on them. “Adam, do you want to lose
your job after all we’ve done to keep it? Now get
your butt out of that bed ’cause I’m not going to
call you again!” She left in a huff, but he slept
on until the clock read 7:30, when he finally rose
The clock reading 9:00 am Friday was completely
ignored by the lump under the blankets, snoring
away gently. Janet had long since given up
attempts to wake her husband. Oh, it wasn’t that
he couldn’t be awoken – he’d been conscious
several times since the alarm’s initial sounding
at 6:30, two and a half hours ago. But each time,
he ignored both it and the coaxing of his wife,
only to fall back asleep moments later. At a loss
for what to do, she picked up the phone and
“Good morning, could you please tell Mr. Jackson
that Adam Rodgers won’t be in today? Yes, I’m
afraid he’s ill.” She hated lying and hated his
putting her in the position of having to do so.
When she hung up, she redialed another familiar
Artois Motor Lodge
The dim neon light seeped in around the motel room
drapes, bathing the interior with a faint, bluish
glow. It didn’t, however, disturb the dark-haired
man in the bed. But something was obviously
disrupting his sleep, as his eyes moved rapidly
beneath their lids, and the muscles in his face
twitched spasmodically. The somnambulant
disturbance continued a few minutes before. . .
“No!” Fox Mulder, sitting up with a jerk, came
awake shouting, his entire body bathed in sweat.
Panting until his throat was so dry it made him
choke, he made his way to the tiny refrigerator
the motel provided. Finding the half-empty bottle
of Evian he’d placed there, he took a large swig
before he held what remained to his forehead.
He hadn’t been subject to nightmares like these
for some time, and he wondered what made them
Looking at the phone, he realized how badly he
wanted to call Scully, or, even better, join her
in her room. But, since it was a crowded motel
with no adjoining rooms, he also knew her door was
four down and across the hall from his own. It
was just as well. While the case was officially
closed, they were still on the Bureau’s time.
They had chosen, correctly he still believed, to
restrict their more intimate sleeping arrangements
to private time only.
At least, if he stayed here, she’d be spared
having to share a bed with him and his nightmares.
He checked the clock, realizing that it was 5 am.
He wasn’t up to running, but maybe a walk would
tire him sufficiently so he’d sleep better
tonight, he mused. Missing having
Scully beside him, he dressed hurriedly. As he
strode through the door, the phone in his jeans
pocket began to ring.
Outside of Sacramento, California
“Tell me again why we’re going to this residence,
Mulder? Especially when we could be walking the
concourse of the Sacramento Airport by now,” Dana
Scully asked Mulder from her place in the
passenger side of a Bureau-fleet sedan. “This
sounds more like a case for family services or the
AMA than for a pair of FBI agents. Even the CDC
might be a better idea.”
“A man whose wife claims he’s addicted to sleeping
certainly sounds like an X-File to me, Scully,” he
said. He rubbed his eyes and she noted how tired
“Nightmares, again, Mulder?” Scully said
sympathetically, lacing her fingers through his
and guiding them away from his over-rubbed eyes.
He nodded, although she hadn’t really needed the
confirmation. “Well, maybe we can wrap this up
quickly and find some way for you to get a good
“Ooh, Scully,” he grinned. “You planning on
wearing me out?”
“You’d better believe it, buster. We deserve some
time for ourselves.” She paused with a sigh. “So
tell me more about this case,” she requested,
knowing that conversation would keep her tired
partner alert. It wouldn’t hurt her level of
“An acquaintance of mine at Georgetown Medical has
a friend who is the victim’s physician. He called
Peter when he ran out of ideas to help the guy.
Physically, they could find nothing wrong, but the
staff psychiatrist says he’s exhibiting all the
signs of an addiction: tiredness, lack of interest
in anything else, even things that used to be
important to him, that kind of thing. The doctors
are out of ideas, so they asked his wife if it
would be okay to share his case information with a
couple of feds who might be able to help. I think
the fact that you’re a doctor made the difference,
“And he called you on your cell phone this
“Yep. It was luck more than anything that we had
to pass near there on the way back to DC anyway.
I called Skinner and got permission to look into
“He approved the 302 just like that?”
“Well, not really. This is just looking into it
to see it if merits a
302. Besides, it helped when I told him that the
request came from one of the most respected
doctors in the city.”
“In other words, Skinner couldn’t say no,” she
flashed a grin which he returned.
“You could say that.”
Thirty minutes later found them sitting in the
Rodgers living room, being served lemonade by a
frazzled yet congenial middle-aged woman who had
introduced herself as Janet Rodgers. “I know this
is hard to talk about, Mrs. Rodgers,” Scully said
as she took her glass. “The report said your
husband has been acting strangely? And before we
go too far, where is your husband right now?”
She knew the answer, but had found the best
results came when you let the victim tell the
story in her or his own words.
“I finally got him to go into work, but I don’t
know how long I’ll be able to keep persuading him.
And ‘strangely’ is hardly the word for it, Ms.
Scully.” She seemed to find it easier to address
Scully than Mulder, leaving Mulder content to sit
back and let his partner ask the questions. “Up
until two months ago, Adam was a typical guy. He
got up, went to work, came home, spent the evening
with me, and stayed up a little later than he
probably should have watching sports on TV.”
Scully flashed a look at Mulder, her own sports
nut, which he caught and turned crimson. Janet
Rodgers hadn’t seemed to notice. Scully continued
with her casual interrogation. “When did things
start to change?”
“Well, first the plant started having layoffs.
Adam wasn’t one of the ones released, but it
always loomed over our family and us. I’m a
housewife, Agent Scully. I wasn’t trained to be
the breadwinner if he got laid off, and he knew
it. After awhile, the tension started affecting
“Affecting him how?” Scully expected to hear the
addiction idea, but that wasn’t what she got.
Mrs. Rodgers flushed bright red and leaned
slightly closer to Scully.
“He just couldn’t . . . I mean, he wouldn’t . . .
he didn’t . . . .” She cleared her throat and
tried again. “We just weren’t able to – ”
Scully knew instinctively what she was trying to
say. “He wasn’t able to be romantic with you?”
“Yes,” Janet admitted shyly, her eyes dropping to
the hands she had clenched in her lap. “It went
on for over a month. Barely even a kiss
goodnight. Then the nightmares started.”
Nightmares? It was very unusual for someone
having nightmares to enjoy sleeping, both agents
thought. Lack of desire to sleep was more common.
“Did Adam ever talk to you about the nightmares?”
“Yes. It wasn’t like there was any way for him not
to. He’d wake up screaming in the middle of the
night beside me in bed. We both ended up
exhausted, and were afraid that it would affect
his work, moving him to the head of the line to be
Scully shook her head. “I’m sorry, Mrs. Rodgers,
but I seem to be a little confused. How did Adam
go from being awake all night with nightmares to
someone seemingly addicted to sleeping?”
“I’m not sure,” she said, at a loss. “But it must
have something to do with the Yaeger Sleep
Wellness Center in Sacramento.”
For the first time since sitting down, Mulder
spoke. “You mean that sleep clinic with all the
“Yeah, that’s it. They promised to help him if he
spent a few days there, so he took some vacation
time he had coming and checked in.
I was only allowed to visit him for an hour or so
each day. I didn’t think it would do any good,
but Adam wanted to try it, and he just looked so
exhausted all the time . . .”
“And it helped him too well,” Scully stated.
“After the first night there, he told me he’d
stopped having the nightmares. By the third day,
he said that not only was he having no nightmares,
but he was having good dreams. I can’t remember
him ever telling me that.”
“Do you think that the dreams are why he wants to
sleep all the time now?”
“Yes, I do. I expected things to go back to
normal once he came home from the Center — you
know, like it was before the lay offs — but it
just got worse. Now, he hardly gets out of bed at
all unless he’s at work. And I’m beginning to
worry that pretty soon he’ll give up on work, too.
He’s already missed a few days; I had to call him
in sick when I couldn’t get him out of bed.”
“So something must have happened at the Center to
instigate this, is that what you’re thinking?”
“It’s the only thing I can come up with, Agent
Scully,” Mrs. Rodgers smiled slightly. “I’d sure
appreciate anything you could find out.”
“We’ll do our best, Mrs. Rodgers,” Scully said,
taking the woman’s hand as she rose. Mulder also
shook the woman’s hand before following Scully out
of the house.
“So, what do you think?” Mulder asked his partner
as he steered onto the highway.
“I think that a visit to the Yaeger Sleep Wellness
Center is in order.
Instead of answering, he proposed another
question. “And what do you expect to find there?”
“Mulder, it isn’t the bogeyman who’s making Mr.
Rodgers’ dream patterns shift so abruptly.
However, it could be some new form of non-
FDA-approved, experimental medication or
procedure.” Mulder chuckled slightly. “I presume
you don’t agree? So what’s your big theory?”
“I really don’t’ have one,” Mulder admitted.
“Look, it’s 9:00. Why don’t we get checked into
the local hotel and get some sleep. We can come
up with something over breakfast in the morning.”
The nearest motel was a local establishment where
the guests entered their rooms from a hallway
rather than an outside door. It was nice, for a
change, as was the congenial woman at the front
I check you in, Mr. and Mrs. . . .?” she asked
them as they approached her desk. They exchanged
grins but didn’t give in to the compulsion to play
into her mistake.
“Agents Mulder and Scully of the FBI. We’d like
two rooms, please,”
“Adjoining, if you have them,” Mulder added. When
he saw the woman grin, he specified, ” it makes
working late a lot easier.” Not that they owed
her any explanation, so why did he always feel
like he had to give it anyway?
They each entered their rooms, proceeding
immediately to open their own side of the
adjoining doors. Mulder wondered if he’d regret
that, as he had no desire to wake Scully if the
nightmares visited him again.
“I’m going to have a shower,” Scully volunteered,
opening her overnight bag and extracting her
nightgown. “I don’t suppose you’d like to join
me,” she said with a lascivious grin. She came to
him, wrapping her arms around his waist.
“But, Agent Scully, what about our commitment
about business and pleasure?” Despite his words,
he couldn’t resist nuzzling her hair.
“Look at it this way,” she said, taking him by the
hand and leading him to her room. “We’re being
responsible public servants by conserving water.”
“Whatever you say, Agent Scully,” he said,
convinced and happy. And while they both returned
to their individual rooms after the shower, they
fell asleep with the connecting doors wide open.
Sacramento Super 8 Motel
That night, the nightmares came for Mulder just as
they had over the past few days. If anybody had
told him six months ago that they could get worse,
he wouldn’t have believed it, but they had. Too
many things had happened recently to threaten his
partner and the memory of his sister.
The bedside clock read 12:30 a.m. the first time
he awoke, drenched in a cold sweat and uncertain
whether he’d shouted in his sleep. He’d been out
less than two hours, having turned in unusually
early in the hope of getting a full night’s
slumber. He was exhausted. He watched the
doorway to Scully’s room, but she did not emerge
to check on him.
Once he calmed enough to think, he deduced that he
must’ve been quiet enough not to awake her. He
settled down once again, and the exhaustion pulled
him under fairly quickly.
The incident was repeated at 2:05 a.m., but,
thankfully, Scully still didn’t seem to hear.
Sleep reclaimed him only to be snatched away once
more. This third time, Scully was by his side
before he gained full awareness of his
“Mulder, it’s okay,” she said as she rubbed his
shoulder. He found himself sitting up, his back
pressed against the headboard and the blanket
clenched in his tight fist. She kept rubbing,
giving him the chance to calm his heaving chest.
“Guess I woke you,” he muttered, noting the clock
said 3:28 AM this time.
“You’ve done it in more enjoyable ways,” she
intimated with a wink, taking a seat in front of
him on the bed.
“I’m sorry. You must be bushed.”
“This is nothing,” she said in denial, although
her eyes said otherwise. “When I was in med
school, I lost a lot more sleep than this.” Her
smile came, and her eyes sparkled. “And as for
the last nine years, a certain Special Agent I
know has kept me up more than a few nights
worrying about him.”
He gave her a wry grin, not sure what should
happen next. Should he talk to her? Tell her he
was going to go back to sleep – no matter how much
he didn’t want to? She made the decision for him.
“Mulder, I’m worried. I’ve never seen your
nightmares this bad.”
“It’s no big deal,” he countered. “One little
nightmare isn’t all that unusual for me.”
“No, but three in a single night sure is.”
Mulder looked flustered. She must have heard
after all – no sense in denying it. “I didn’t
think you’d heard the first two.”
“How could I not?” She paused, sighing heavily.
“I didn’t want you to feel like I was intruding.
Is this why you’ve been avoiding spending the
night lately? How long have you been having
them?” she asked, not really expecting an answer.
She already knew. “Mulder, this is ridiculous.
Sooner or later your working exhausted is going to
get somebody hurt.”
“What would you suggest I do, Scully?” He replied
defensively. “I see the Bureau shrink when
mandated by a case, and you know my history with
them. They’ve never helped when I had nightmares
in the past, and
I don’t see any reason they would now. Do you
want me to go back?”
“You know that’s not what I meant.” She sounded
frustrated now, and too tired to argue much
longer. “I just want to make sure that you’re
okay.” She smiled as she stood up from the bed,
letting all the emotions except her caring bleed
away. She laid a feathery touch on Mulder’s hand.
“We can talk more about this in the morning, okay?
Let’s get some rest.” And despite their promises,
she slid in next to him and let him wrap her in
his arms. They’d do nothing more, but having her
close would help.
“Say you’re right, Scully. Do you really think
that if we go in there flashing our badges and
asking questions, they’re just going to come out
and say, ‘yes, we’ve been practicing illegal
medicine’? No way.
And ten minutes after they get rid of us, all
evidence of their having used unauthorized medical
procedures will have disappeared.”
Scully tried to ignore the commotion of the fellow
diners around them while eating her fruit plate,
listening to Mulder and watching him eat a
ridiculously large stack of pancakes. Despite how
noisy the other patrons were, it wasn’t that hard.
“Unfortunately, I’d have to agree with you.
Somehow I don’t think it’ll be that easy.” She
paused, seeming to be thinking. “I’m afraid that
our method of attack on this is moot at this
point. I called Skinner this morning.” She waved
a fork to stop the interruption she knew was
coming. “We had to file for an official 302 if
we’re going to stick around and look into this.”
“And he said . . .” Mulder prompted.
“He agrees with you – going in up front and asking
questions isn’t going to work in this case.” Her
eyes rose to meet his. “He wants us undercover.”
“Scully, we don’t generally go under cover.
Unless you count off-the-clock time,” he grinned
“Well, we do now.
“Are you crazy?” Scully practically shouted,
drawing all eyes as she and Mulder walked through
the hotel lobby.
“Shhhh!” Mulder said, smirking at her blush when
she realized she’d raised her voice. It was
unusual for Scully to react so strongly.
“Don’t you think it’s a good idea?”
“Mulder,” she said, now whispering. “I know I said
I wanted you to do something about your
nightmares, but checking into this place is
dangerous! Why can’t your cover be an orderly?
Or a janitor, for
“You’ve been in my apartment. Do you really think
that cleaning is an area where I’d be a natural?”
“Mulder, this is nothing to kid about! There’s a
dangerous person who has full access to that
clinic. How would I protect you?”
“That’s where your credentials come in handy. You
go to the Chief of Staff or whatever the
equivalent is and ask for permission to observe
for a few days. Tell him you’re writing an
‘Today’s Medical News’. You’re a medical doctor;
you could pull it off. And it would let you stay
“And if he’s a co-conspirator in whatever they’re
“He won’t suspect you, and you can keep your eyes
on him as well as the rest of the staff. Whatever
it is that they’re doing out there,”
Mulder reasoned, “I seriously doubt that they’re
doing it in the open, in front of the entire
staff. Someone would be too inclined to report
it. Everybody on the staff can’t be in on it,
right? Between the two of us, from different
vantage points, we should be able to find out
what’s going on.”
“Well, I do have an old friend on the ‘Today’s
Medical News’ staff. I could call him and ask him
to cover for me should they check on my supposed
assignment. He owes me one,” she explained when
his expression asked why the friend would do such
“Should I be jealous, Scully?” Mulder asked,
nuzzling her ear as they got on the elevator.
“I introduced him to his wife, my love. They’ve
been married for eighteen years.” She nuzzled
back, “you have nothing to ever worry about.”
“So how do you intend to spend the rest of your
day, Agent Scully?”
Mulder said, capturing her lips with his own. It
was clear what he had in mind.
“As much as I like your train of thought, I’m
going to have to spend some time learning about
sleep disorders. If I’m going to pull this off, I
need to look like I know what I’m talking about.”
At Mulder’s downcast look, she kissed him back.
“Of course, everybody knows that people learn
better if given breaks to get their mind off the
study topic. Think you can find something like
that, Agent Mulder?”
“Oh, I think I can manage one or two.”
Yaeger Sleep Wellness Center
As it turned out, it had been easier than either
of them expected to get the Chief of Staff’s
permission for Scully to be an official observer.
He seemed eager, she thought, to show off the
unprecedented successes of his facility,
especially if it meant some publicity in a
nationally respected publication. After issuing
her an ID and a lab coat, he gave her the grand
tour, including looking in on several patients.
Once he’d verified her medical license, she was
given access to the patients’ charts.
Scully was quick to notice that not all the
patients of the clinic were having the unmitigated
success of those strictly suffering from dream
disorders. According to her previous day’s
research, the patients at the Yaeger Center had
successful recoveries in time periods which were
about average compared to other facilities… with
the exception of one group. The dream focus group,
with their brief yet fantastically productive
stays, was well above the national norm – on the
realm of three hundred percent better than other
That afternoon, she arranged to be near the
admitting desk when a certain tall, very good-
looking man checked himself in. Scully and
Mulder exchanged a wink as the nurse punched his
vital statistics into the computer. Despite his
interest in the case, she saw nervous tension in
the depths of his hazel eyes. Mulder completed
the paperwork while Scully stood nearby,
pretending to review charts.
Mulder was then ushered into an office to meet
with Dr. Flaherty – an interview that she wasn’t
allowed to observe.
Mulder didn’t mind the questions so much, but he
was beginning to get a little tired of all the
poking and prodding. Okay, so they had to verify
his health before beginning treatment, but did
they have to be so thorough? Nobody was ever more
relieved than Mulder when the doctor finally told
him he could change from the nearly-nothing gown
he wore for the examination into a normal pair of
hospital pajamas and robe.
Normal, he thought with amusement. He hadn’t worn
a pair of pajamas since he was ten. Well, there
was that one brief period of a few weeks where he
gave them a try convinced that Scully would prefer
them. At the time, it was a silly idea – he
hadn’t yet convinced himself to tell her how he
felt. He’d found himself unable to adjust, which
worked out for the best since he now knew that
Scully definitely had no such preference.
As he emerged from the office, Scully hid in a
corner, unsuccessfully trying to cover the smile
on her lips. She knew that, if he’d known the
battery of tests he’d have to undergo, he would
have re-thought the whole idea. Mulder hated
medical tests. He always said that what the
discomfort didn’t take from him, the loss of
She didn’t feel the need to follow him to his
room, which disappointed Mulder. He wished she
was there to reassure him as he beheld all the
equipment that he expected would soon be hooked up
to him. An image of him, looking like an
electronic spider, painted itself in his mind.
Forty-five minutes later when Scully looked in on
him, she wondered how long he’d be able to last in
this particular assignment. He looked more
uncomfortable than she’d ever seen him. Still,
the image he presented made her smile.
“Sure, go on and laugh, Scully. I’m beginning to
be sorry I talked you into this.” Finally, she
did laugh, and he chuckled nervously.
“Mulder, if nothing else, maybe they’ll take care
of your nightmares.
It would be a pleasant by-product of finding out
what’s going on around here.”
“All I know is that these things are driving me
crazy.” His eyes rolled around, trying to get a
good look at the EEG leads that were attached to
various areas of his forehead and temples, then
moved down to take in the EKG pads stuck firmly to
his chest where his pajama top was unbuttoned.
“And do you have any idea how much those are gonna
hurt when they pull them off?”
“I’m going to try to keep myself from saying again
that this was your idea, Mulder. You could have
been a janitor, remember? Now I’m going to get
some rest so I can keep myself from falling asleep
tonight while I’m supposed to be keeping an eye on
“Is there a place you can do that here?” he asked,
worried for her as much as for him. “I could
always make room for you in here,” he grinned
lasciviously, pulling back the blankets for her to
“Uh, I don’t think so. There’s an on-call room,
just the other side of the hall, and an office
area within sight of this room where I can work
tonight after lights out. I’ll never be far away,
so don’t worry.”
“Who’s worried?” Mulder asked with a sardonic
grin. They both knew the answer to that question.
Clinton Leads was proud. He was proud to be the
only male nurses’ aide employed by the Yaeger
Sleep Wellness Center, and even more proud of the
work they did here. He’d always found such joy in
sleeping and was glad when others could find
Making the rounds on his floor, he dutifully noted
the readings shown on each patient’s EEG and EKG
machines, scribbling them on their chart before
moving on to the next room.
This patient’s new, he thought to himself, pushing
the door open and entering the room. The chart
read “Fox Mulder”. “God, it’s no wonder the guy
has trouble sleeping,” Leads whispered as he drew
nearer to the bed being certain to remain in the
darkness. “Who in their right mind would name
their kid ‘Fox’?” After making the requisite
notes on the chart, he paused, staring at the
sleeping man, reaching out to him. Mulder’s eyes
were moving rapidly beneath the lids, his face
becoming more and more pained as each second
Leads deepened his gaze, drawing himself, his
mind, closer and closer to Mulder’s until he was
one with him, a part of him. What he saw there
was like nothing he’d ever experienced. The
nightmares of other patients he’d helped – dreams
of falling or showing up for work in the nude or
ghosts and goblins – were mere happenstance
compared to the torment this man was experiencing.
These weren’t nightmares of threats on the
physical plane, but were of such loss and anguish
that he wondered how the man got any sleep at all.
This was one patient he knew he had to help.
Nobody should have to live through this. He
rubbed his hands together before laying one gently
on the patient’s forehead. To an observer, he
could just as well have been pushing hair out of
the man’s eyes or feeling for a temperature, but
that wasn’t what was happening. At the slight
Fox’s troubled brow relaxed and the slight
twitching that was in his face ceased.
Scully exchanged nods with the night nurses’ aide
as he came out of Mulder’s room while on his
rounds. He seemed like a nice enough fellow and
as diligent as they came. She smiled at him as he
She would have said hello, but when the mere smile
incited a deep crimson blush before he could hide
his face, she knew that it would be too
uncomfortable for the shy man.
Yaeger Sleep Wellness Center
Dana gently pushed the door open, curious to see
if her partner was awake before going to get some
rest herself. She knew she dared not leave Mulder
unprotected while he slept which meant she could
only sleep once he’d awoken.
“Hey, G-woman,” he whispered groggily once he saw
she was alone.
“Hey,” she smiled back at him. “How did you do?”
Long arms stretched overhead before pushing
himself to a sitting position, at the same time
moving himself over on the bed slightly, making
room for her to sit down. “Pretty good.”
Scully interpreted his unspoken signal and lowered
herself gently to the mattress. “By ‘pretty
good’, do you mean you weren’t subject to
“I can’t honestly say none at all, but I didn’t
wake up screaming.
That’s progress.” He fidgeted, obviously
uncomfortable with being the topic of
conversation. “What about our case? Any sign of
“Nothing out of the ordinary whatsoever, Mulder.
Are you sure we’re not wasting our time here?”
Mulder ignored the question to ask one of his own.
“Did you get a chance to look at everybody’s
charts? Was there anything that stood out?
Struck a chord of any kind?”
“There were a few rather unorthodox treatments
being tried on some patients, including sound
techniques, but that wouldn’t explain the
“Could they be introducing subliminal messages in
the sound waves?”
“I thought of that already. I got a look at Mr.
Rodgers’s chart, and according to the records,
sound therapy wasn’t one of the methods used on
his particular sleep disorder. And, from what I’ve
read, sound therapy is most often used on insomnia
patients rather than dream disturbances.”
“So what you’re telling me is that, besides my
first nearly perfect night of sleep in ages, we’ve
got nothing so far?”
“It’s been less than a day, Mulder,” she said,
reaching up to run a hand over his disheveled
hair. “Not nearly long enough to check out
“I know,” he responded, obviously impatient.
“This sudden urge to have this case resolved
couldn’t have anything to do with the activities
on your schedule for today, would it?” she asked,
trying to hide a smile.
“They haven’t even told me what’s on my agenda.
It’s something I’d like to avoid, I presume?”
“It could be worse, Mulder. You’ve got an
MRI, and a full battery of blood work.”
He cringed at the thought of feeling like a
pincushion, dismissing it as he took a closer look
at his partner. She looked exhausted.
“Scully, you need to get some sleep.”
“I’m fine, Mulder. Besides, I want to be around
to check out everything. If they’re administering
some kind of drug, it could be during any of these
“Well, I’m certainly not going to complain about
having you close at hand,” he said, leaning over
and kissing her gently. She could see that the
words he spoke weren’t hollow in their intensity;
Mulder was scared.
“Would you mind terribly if I observed?” Scully
asked, matching her steps to the doctor’s beside
her. Dr. Ian Flaherty, a tall, blond, handsome
man in his mid thirties, smiled at her warmly.
“Not at all, Dr. Scully. I welcome it.” He
winked at her as he added, “just so long as the
patient doesn’t object.”
“Of course,” Dana smiled back at him. So what if
using her feminine wiles was unfair – she was
willing to use all the tools at her disposal,
especially where the safety of Mulder was
Ian held the door for her as they entered the
room. Their patient was being settled into a
reclining chair that looked more comfortable than
the beds in the last ten hotels at which they’d
“Hi, doc,” Mulder smiled nervously as he looked up
into the doctor’s face. “What are we doing to me
“Nice to see you in such good spirits, Mr.
He eyed the nurse who was wiping down his arm with
alcohol. “Why wouldn’t I be with all these
beautiful ladies around.” It was an obvious joke,
meant to distract the physician.
“Just a warning,” the doctor returned, smiling,
“the nurse here is very happily married.” He and
the woman made intense eye contact, and
“You mean to you, huh?”
“You got it. So she is most definitely hands off.
Now, I don’t know about our Dr. Scully here, but
I’ll leave that to the two of you to discuss.”
Mulder sighed in relief and looked directly at
Dana for the first time since she’d entered the
room. The doctor had pretty much just given them
permission to spend more time together, talk more
privately and intensely – exactly what they
needed. So what if he had no idea what their
relationship was or would be.
“For now, Fox, the lovely nurse here is going to
take a blood sample, then we’re going to do a few
tests. Have you ever had a MRI? Or an
“I probably have. I’ve had head injuries at work
a few times, so I imagine so.” Mulder tried to
stifle the instinctive reflex to look to
Scully for confirmation on his medical history;
she always remembered all the little details. As
a rule, when he was in the hospital, he didn’t
want to know what they’d done to him while he was
“Ouch!” His thoughts were returned to the nurse
at his side as she inserted a needle into the vein
of his arm. She drew two vials of blood for
analysis and then bandaged the spot where the
hypodermic had punctured his skin.
The remaining tests were fairly standard, with
Scully by his side the whole way. He was more
relieved than he could say to have her there. She
had a strength he could draw on when the fear of
being closed inside the MRI machine became too
strong. He’d never been claustrophobic before,
but . . .
They maintained eye contact until the bed slid
into the receptor, cutting off Mulder from the
rest of his world.
Despite the fact that all the testing had
exhausted Mulder, he just wasn’t able to fall
asleep. It wasn’t that he was feeling insecure
either; Scully was right out side that door,
looking out for him, watching his back like she
always did. The door was propped open, as usual,
and he imagined he could see her sitting at the
tiny desk he knew she occupied. He just wished
she was here, in his bed, instead.
He’d barely looked away when a shadow was cast
into his room, drawing his eyes back to the
doorway. But it wasn’t any of the medical staff,
or even Scully, passing there. “Hey, where do you
think you’re going?” Mulder asked the other
patient with a grin. He and the man had exchanged
nods and greetings in the hallway before, but he
didn’t yet know the patient’s name.
“Anywhere where I don’t have to lie there all
wired up, staring at the ceiling and counting
sheep trying to get some shuteye!” the man said
back to him with a smile. “Maybe I’ll be able to
sleep after a walk and a cold drink of water. Not
that I couldn’t do with something stronger, but .
“Unfortunately, there’s none of that around here,
I’m afraid,” Mulder responded from beneath his own
sheath of wires. He definitely knew how the man
Adam Wimsby was a high school librarian, well
schooled, and an upstanding member of the town and
his church. He didn’t know why he was suddenly
plagued with insomnia, which is what finally
prompted his wife to suggest trying the clinic.
She was a good woman, he thought as he wandered
the halls in stocking feet. He missed having her
by his side at night.
He turned the corner, stifling a gasp as he spied
people in the halls so late at night. Generally,
they were deserted except for the occasional night
nurse or aide. One of them was Dr. Thiason, who
he’d seen on rounds but who was not his doctor.
The other was a man he did not recognize. Suffice
it to say, the man looked menacing.
“I already gave you the ten vials I promised. I
can only get you three more from here,” the doctor
whispered, withdrawing from the medicine cart.
“Any more at once and it’ll be noticed.”
“Thirteen will be fine for now. There isn’t a lot
of market for morphine in its pharmaceutical form,
but enough to make it worth my while.” The
buyer’s voice was low and deep.
“You’ll see that the proper amount is deposited in
my private account, I trust.”
“Of course, of course. Just as soon as I verify
that the stuff is good, there’ll be a direct
deposit made in cash. No way to trace it.”
“Good,” Thiason said, turning from the man.
Terrified, Adam tried to duck back around the
corner, but tripped.
Both men probably saw him, he realized, as their
eyes looked his way.
His only hope was that they couldn’t see him
clearly enough to identify him.
Wimsby turned on his heels and rushed away. When
he passed Mulder’s door, the agent called to him
again. “Hey, what’s the rush?”
“I can’t talk right now!” Adam whispered fiercely,
the tremor in his voice belying his fear.
“What’s wrong?” Mulder asked, but the man was long
Thinking about the strange reaction of his fellow
patient, Mulder finally fell into a fitful
slumber. He didn’t even notice when the night
nurses’ aide came into his room, laying his hand
gently once again on Mulder’s forehead.
Clinton Leads jumped in astonishment when
something grabbed him by the arm as he exited
Mulder’s room. A second later, he recognized the
face and relaxed. “Dr. Thiason! You startled me.
What can I do for you?”
“That’s just it, Mr. Leads. You can do a lot for
“I’m afraid I don’t understand,” Leads stated,
confused. He didn’t know the doctor that well,
but this was surely odd behavior.
“I know what you can do, Mr. Leads. Do you think
that I’m as stupid as Flaherty? That I don’t see
what you’ve been doing with these patients?” He
drew close, menacing, as he pulled him around the
corner and into an empty room. That nuisance Dr.
Scully had just run to the bathroom; she wouldn’t
be gone long.
Leads was stunned. How could anybody guess what
he’d been doing?
Most people didn’t even believe in psychic
abilities, especially ones as specialized as his.
The conscious world was still a mystery to him,
but the subconscious was his domain.
“Now,” the doctor began again. “If you don’t want
to end up locked up for the rest of your life for
what you’ve been doing, you’ll do what I want.
How’d you like to spend the next seventy years in
The nurses’ aide shook his head vehemently. He
couldn’t take being locked up.
“Then I need you to use your talents on a certain
patient. His name is Adam Wimsby, and he’s two
“But he’s just an insomnia patient,” Leads
remarked. “There’s nothing wrong with his dream
“Not now, there isn’t. But by the time you’re
done, there’d better be. I want him so messed up
that nobody will believe a thing he says, you got
that? You can give him whatever type of dreams
you want, just so long as they’re enough to drive
him over the edge.”
“But . . .”
“Jail, Leads. Think about it. Where would you
Resignedly, Clinton hung his head in shame at the
prospect of using his Gift for disreputable
“Okay, Dr. Thiason.”
“So how are you this morning?” Scully asked,
smiling down at Mulder.
He’d managed to become entangled in the many
wires, and his just-awakened grogginess made him
endearing. So like a little boy.
“Well, I don’t know about the case, but at least
I’m doing better.
No nightmares again – once I got to sleep, that
is.” He smiled sardonically as she stepped
forward and began straightening out the monitor
“You had insomnia? Oh, Mulder . . .”
“It wasn’t too bad. I got to sleep eventually.”
He paused, looking thoughtful. “Hey, Scully. Did
you see a man about my age in the hall last
“About what time?”
“Oh, it must have been about twelve or twelve-
thirty. Tall, dark hair, glasses?”
“Oh, yeah. His name is Adam Wimsby. He’s a
teacher or something like that. Why?”
“I’ve just seen him around and was curious who he
was.” There was suddenly a sparkle in his eyes.
“Hey, Scully. Didn’t it behoove you, as part of
your medical license, to get on his case when you
saw him up so late last night?”
“I don’t remember the policing of men acting like
little boys to be part of my Hippocratic Oath,”
she said, topping it off with that special look
she gave him when he knew she would laugh if she
let herself. “Funny you should mention him,
though. You’re the second person to ask me about
seeing him. Of course, the other was a doctor –
not a nosy FBI agent.” She grinned.
“I am not nosy,” he said with the petulance of a
small boy. Then, he added, “Regardless, I think
I’m going to see if I can find him. He seemed a
little frazzled; maybe he could use a sympathetic
“Do what you want with your ear, Mulder, just keep
your nose out of trouble. The rest belongs to
me,” she whispered before kissing his cheek and
leaving the room.
It didn’t take Mulder long to locate Adam Wimsby’s
room, but Mulder was surprised at what he found
when he did. The man in the bed was definitely
the same person, but this man didn’t smile. He
He looked exhausted, and Mulder noted the addition
of an IV drip where before there had been none.
“Hey, how’re you doing?” he asked.
“I’ve been better,” Adam said simply.
“I won’t kid you, you looked a lot better last
“Last night?” The man looked confused, lost.
“Yeah, remember when you walked by my room? I’m
Fox Mulder from two doors down.”
“I’m sorry, Mr. Mulder, but I don’t remember.
I’ve had a rough night and I’m not doing so well.
If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to try to get some
sleep. At least this stuff is good for
something.” He motioned to the IV, turning his
back on Mulder with a whispered goodbye.
Why did he suddenly feel so dirty? Not dirty on
the outside, but dirty deep inside where you
couldn’t wash. Leads knew very well why. He’d
never used his gift for anything but helping
people, and he was finding very quickly that using
it for other purposes, even to protect himself,
left a bad taste in his mouth.
The time he spent last night in Wimsby’s room was
harrowing, uncomfortable, painful. When he’d
finally pleased Thiason, he swore he’d never use
his gift again. Never, ever! Making the decision
to stop visiting those he’d already been helping
here was already hard, but he’d had to do it.
There was just one exception . . . one case that
he had to resolve before he left this hospital and
this town. Fox Mulder should be an exception in
anybody’s book – he didn’t deserve the ghosts
haunting his subconscious.
After an uneventful day, Clinton’s first stop on
night duty was Adam Wimsby’s room. Maybe he could
try something he’d never tried before.
A trigger to discontinue the horrid nightmares he
had instilled in this patient. It wouldn’t help
now, but at least the man’s future wouldn’t be
totally destroyed. Bringing him to the brink of
insanity yet not pushing him over wouldn’t be
easy. Thiason had ordered him to make that final
push – to drive him insane – but that he couldn’t
do even to save his own skin. But maybe if he was
just acting off kilter, it would be good enough to
save them both.
The perspiration beaded and dripped on his face as
Leads concentrated with one hand on Wimsby’s
forehead. His effort was apparent to anybody
watching, not that anybody was. A twitch in his
face, and then another, both mirrored by the
bedridden patient, signaled the final connection
being established between the two. All awareness
of time faded as he burrowed deeper and deeper
into Adam Wimsby’s psyche.
His second stop was Mulder’s room. The man was
sleeping peacefully, finding blessed sanctuary in
a nightmare-free slumber. Perhaps it was in
contrition for what he was being forced to do to
Wimsby that he made the decision to go one better
and give Mulder some dreams that were more
blissful than anything he could have imagined,
even in his waking hours. Even if he wasn’t doing
it to settle his own conscience,
Fox Mulder deserved it. And so it was with a
thoughtful gaze and inner peace that he placed a
gentle hand on Mulder’s forehead.
He remembered the nightmares he’d helped to
decimate . . . the two women who starred most
vibrantly in them. The first sometimes appeared
as a woman, sometimes as a young child, but he
knew it was the same person. The second he
recognized immediately. It was Dr.
Scully, who had been observing since the day
before Fox had checked in. He wondered briefly
about their connection, how they knew each other,
and why they were acting as if they didn’t.
Perhaps they were both narcotics investigators,
trying to catch whoever was responsible for the
drugs he’d heard had been turning up missing.
Whatever the case, that was not his concern. In
Mulder’s dreams he saw a fierce devotion, a deep
caring, and an almost tangible need for this
woman, yet she often sustained injury, with him
unable to keep the harm from her. Well, from now
on, his dreams would be different. . .
Mulder wasn’t sure what this place was, but it was
wonderful. A large banner along one wall
proclaimed “Special Agent of the Year,” while
various agents and superiors sat at round tables
scattered about the room. Yet the most intimately
placed ones were occupied by non-Bureau personnel.
Teena Mulder sat, smiling lovingly at her son with
a pride he hadn’t seen in years. Beside her,
Scully’s mother, Maggie, beamed with warmth and
affection, for not just Scully, who was at her
side, but for him as well. A nearby table held a
man he didn’t recognize, but who shared Scully’s
red hair as well as her smile, a pretty brunette
woman, and Bill and Tara Scully. Bill smiled at
him and gave a thumbs-up, laughing when Mulder
returned it with wariness.
Scanning the room, he realized that everybody was
grinning at him like that, and suddenly he
realized he was behind a podium. Feeling that the
viewers were waiting for him to say something, he
muttered a quiet thank you. Surprisingly enough,
it incited the crowd to applaud. He knew he
should take a seat, but was frozen. Then, equally
suddenly, a woman was at his side, a dainty arm
slipping through his own. Scully stood beside
him, kissing him on the cheek as he took her hand
in his own. It was odd. While this body was his,
he clearly did not have full control over it. He
was here, in this body, but not all the movements
were his own.
“Come on, Mulder,” she said, pulling him from the
dais. “Speech is over – time to greet your
adoring public.” But he failed to follow her off
the platform, despite A.D. Skinner’s being ready
to make the final remarks. He was surprised when,
instead of following her, he realized he was again
beginning to speak.
In the back of his mind, he was anxious to hear
what he was going to say. The sense of duality
was fascinating. “Ladies and gentlemen, I know
that you’re all sitting on the edge of your seats
to hear what words of wisdom our Assistant
Director has to impart, but if you will indulge me
for just a few more minutes . . . I am very
honored to be here receiving this wonderful award,
and I am thrilled that so many of the people I
love could be here to share it with me.” He
exchanged glances with Dana and Maggie.
“But I have to say that I am not sure you are
giving this award to the right agent. If my
accomplishments look good to the Bureau, it’s only
because I have had the support and assistance of
the most wonderful agent . . . the most wonderful
woman . . . to ever walk the halls of the J Edgar
Hoover Building. Dana Scully is more than just a
friend to me. More than just a partner. She’s a
part of me. A part of my life. No. She IS my
life. And so. . .” At this point, Mulder
surprised himself yet again by dropping to one
knee in front of Scully. “Dana Katherine Scully,
will you do me the honor of not just being my
partner at work, but my partner in life, for as
long as I live? Will you marry me?”
He brandished a velvet box, opening it to reveal a
lovely solitaire diamond. Oohs and ahs rang
through the hall for a few minutes at the shock of
his actions before a chant began. Quiet at first,
it was soon strong and firm. “Scully, Scully,
Scully, Scully . . .” Dana gasped aloud,
surprised to see her entire family and Mulder’s
mother joining in a show of support. Finally, she
spoke loud enough to be heard over the din.
“Yes, Mulder. I’ll marry you. I love you!”
The room erupted into applause and cheers, and
Mulder realized that it felt good – felt natural.
Skinner stood like a proud father beside them as
Mulder’s mouth eclipsed Scully’s in a deep kiss.
When they withdrew, they smiled out at their
fellow agents and family members, watching them
continue to cheer.
Slowly, everything disappeared and a peaceful fog
overtook the room.
Opening his eyes, he realized that he was in his
bed at the hospital, not in the dream world he’d
fantasized. A glance at the clock told him it was
6:30 – time to get up as Scully would be coming
soon. But instead, he simply rolled over and went
back to sleep.
“Mulder, are you awake?” The stage whisper came
from Scully, who’d surreptitiously sneaked into
his room, but it got no response. “Mulder, c’mon.
A groan was her answer, and she realized that
she’d have to be a little harsher if she was going
to wake him. “Mulder, wake up! Breakfast will be
ready soon.” She flicked the switch on the wall,
illuminating the room with light. Adding to the
brightness, she pulled open the drapes as well,
inciting another groan and covers pulled up over
everything but the tousled brown hair.
Mulder blinked owlishly when she yanked the
blanket and sheet down around her partner’s waist.
“Mulder, what is with you this morning?”
“Sorry, Scully,” he muttered groggily. “There was
this dream. . .”
“Did you have nightmares again? So much for last
night being the start of a new routine.”
“Actually,” he said, pushing himself to a sitting
position and motioning for her to sit beside him.
“It wasn’t a nightmare. Have you ever had a dream
you just wished you could have over and over
“On occasion,” she smiled warmly, taking his hand.
“Most of the things I want to repeat these days
happen while I’m totally awake.”
He smiled shyly before realization came over his
“Oh, Scully. I just realized – you must be
exhausted. I’m sorry for being so difficult. Why
don’t you go on to bed. I’ll hold down the fort
from here.” He began to slide down again with a
“Oh, no you don’t,” Scully said. “I don’t go
until I know you’re up for good. I’ve never seen
you sleep so much, Mulder. Are you sure you’re
okay? Did you hear or see anything last night?”
“Not a thing,” he said, swinging his legs over the
side of the bed.
“What about this dream?” She asked. “You sounded
“Trying to pry all my secrets out of me, huh?
Well, I’m not going to tell you everything. I’ll
just say that if I could have the same dream every
night, I’d never again have trouble sleeping.”
“I’d like that as much as you would,” she said.
“So what are your plans for the day while I’m
getting some sleep?”
“Staying in this bed is making me nuts. The
doctor said that there’s a gymnasium downstairs on
the first floor, so I think I’ll go check it out.
Do you know where they put my bag?”
“It’s in the closet,” she motioned, and he struck
pay dirt upon opening the narrow door.
“I’m glad I put my workout clothes back in the bag
after I washed them last time, that’s for sure.
It’ll be great to get out of these pajamas –
they’re driving me nuts, too. If the other
patients are as stir crazy as I am, there’ll be
plenty of them down there. Maybe I can coerce
some into some educational conversation about the
goings on around here.” He began to shed the
night clothes, sliding into his boxers and shorts
“Sounds like a good plan. Just try to keep your
gorgeous nose out of trouble,” she added, standing
on tiptoes to kiss the tip. “I’ll see you
later,” she added, giving his rear a pinch before
leaving the room. He smiled and shook his head.
She never stopped surprising him.
Stopping at the nurse’s station, Scully reported
in to the head nurse, along with Dr. Flaherty, who
happened to be filling out a chart. “I’m off for
some rest. If you need me, I’ll be in the on-call
“I don’t get it, Dr. Scully,” Flaherty questioned.
“Why would anyone in their right mind
intentionally work nights if they had a choice?”
“Too many years spent interning, assigned to the
night shift, I guess. I can’t sleep at night
anymore. Besides, this being a sleep clinic, it’s
more interesting to observe the patients while
they’re not awake.”
“Yeah, I guess,” he said, smiling at her. “Well,
I didn’t mean to keep you from your rest. Take
“Thanks, Ian,” she said, then turning to the
nurse. “Could you ask somebody to be sure to wake
me about 4:00? Thanks.” The nurse nodded, and
Scully made her departure. But sleep didn’t come
quite so quickly. Mulder was behaving so oddly
this morning. Almost exactly like the other
patients who had become ‘addicted to sleeping.’
She questioned that it was true addiction, since
the dedication to sleep seemed to be one hundred
percent the choice of the victims.
She’d have to wait and see how he was in the
Mulder pretty much spent the day in the gym, which
turned out to be incredibly well equipped.
Weights, treadmills, bicycles, a running track,
and a myriad of other equipment including a
jacuzzi and small swimming pool. He was dying to
try out the pool, but he didn’t have his suit, and
his desire wasn’t quite strong enough to incite
him to wear the suits the hospital provided. With
all that, he still wished for a simple basketball
court, but figured he’d make do with what they
had. The track would be good for starters.
He’d always loved to run. It just cleared his
mind as well as his body, letting things surface
from his subconscious that he’d been suppressing
or resisting. He hoped that it would happen now;
so far, all he’d been able to sense was that he
was definitely missing something. Realistically,
they were no closer to solving this case than they
had been days ago when they got here. How long
Skinner let it continue?
The only benefit he’d seen so far was that his own
nightmares had stopped. He knew for sure that it
wasn’t coming from any drug they gave him, or any
weird treatment of which Scully was unfamiliar or
was unable to substantiate through her research.
So what was it about this place that was so
“Well, good morning, Mr. Mulder,” a voice said
from beside him, and he realized that he’d been
unaware of another runner drawing abreast.
“Getting a little workout, I see?” It was Ian
“You got it, Doc. I was going stir crazy in
“Understandable. That’s one of the reasons we
added on the gymnasium area. Patients need
something to do other than sleep their days away,
and the need for physical activity is a general
health issue. It wasn’t easy getting the funding
from the board, but we managed.” He smiled,
panting slightly from his own exertions at keeping
up with Mulder.
Mulder thought about mentioning the basketball
court, but decided that it wasn’t really
constructive. Where would they put it? He
Flaherty, and wanted to draw him out, but couldn’t
be as direct as he wished. Maybe a little
subterfuge was in order.
“Y’know, when I first read about this place, I
really didn’t know what to expect. Somehow I had
these visions of people sleeping day and night,
round the clock, but don’t ask me where that came
from. I mean, nobody can sleep all the time,
“Well, there are those patients who suffer from
narcolepsy, who can fall asleep at any time, but
in general, no, nobody sleeps for twenty-four
hours a day.”
“Have you ever had a case where somebody did? It
seems like that would be the ultimate challenge
for a clinic like this. I mean, I don’t know if
it would be considered a sleep disorder at all,
but . . .” He spread his hands in a shrug as he
kept up his pace.
“No, I know what you mean, Mulder. Luckily, we’ve
never had anybody quite that bad, although we have
occasionally had patients who, once we’ve helped
them, went a little overboard, but nothing
Like he’d admit it if they had, Mulder thought to
himself. There was open, and then there was
complete disclosure, and no physician was likely
to do that – except maybe a certain beautiful,
red-headed one he knew.
“That smile must mean something more than you’ve
just hit your runner’s high,” Flaherty observed
with a chuckle.
“I hadn’t even realized I was smiling,” Mulder
said, grinning nonetheless at the buddy-ish barb.
“No, I don’t think I was.”
“I’m a doctor, Mulder. I think I can identify a
smile when I see one.
It wouldn’t happen to have anything to do with a
certain physician who’s taken a personal interest
in your case, would it?” He was like a male
Yenta, Mulder thought, but since it was his idea,
there was no harm in playing up to it. Plus, it
was like a stamp of approval for him and Scully to
be seen together. And not just as patient and
“Aw, Dr. Flaherty, I didn’t know you cared,”
Mulder joked, stepping up the pace a little bit.
Let’s see what this doctor could do.
“You know darn right well who I mean, Mulder,” Ian
laughed back, not missing a stride. “Look, I know
she probably told you it couldn’t be known;
doctor-patient relationships and all that. But I
don’t have a problem with it under these
circumstances, and I won’t give you a hard time.
Look, she’s warm to you, you’re warm to her. Why
not let nature take its course?”
This time it was Mulder’s turn to laugh,
maintaining his cover. “We haven’t even had a
“Yet?” Flaherty observed pointedly.
“Yes, ‘yet’, so now let’s switch topics, shall we?
When do you think I’ll be released? My nightmares
have been a whole lot better the last few nights.”
“That’s true, and you’ve made great progress, but
I’d like to try to find out what caused the
drastic change before just releasing you.
Something has had a noticeable impact on your
subconscious mind . . . besides the lovely Dr.
Scully, that is. We haven’t really been treating
you with any significant therapy beyond just
simple rest and mild sedation at nights; it
shouldn’t be happening this way, but it is.”
“Could it be simply that I’m comfortable here,
thinking that I’ll be cured, so I am?”
“You mean confidence in our establishment as a
means to a cure?
Well, it’s possible, but it’s kind of far fetched.
But if the nightmares stay away, and we haven’t
identified the cause in the next three days, I’ll
just release you. You’ll know where I am if it
gets bad again.” Mulder noticed that the doctor’s
breathing was no longer as even as it had been,
nor was his speaking.
“Are you okay?”
“Sure. But tell me something. Just how far do
you run? And how often? I used to think I was in
pretty good shape, but I’m just about ready to
“I usually run three or four times a week, five
miles or so each time. Sometimes more, sometimes
less. At times, when it gets cold, I’ll swim
instead. It varies.”
“Well, it’s obviously working for you.”
“I have to keep it up for my job. Can’t afford to
“Yeah, Dr. Scully wouldn’t like it either,” Ian
winked affably. “Okay,
I confess – you’ve worn me out. I’m going to take
a swim and then a steam. Care to join me?”
“I’ll have to pass. I didn’t expect your facility
to be so well-equipped, so I didn’t bring my
“The hospital has suits you can borrow. Come on,
I’d enjoy the company.”
“I really can’t. I’ve just never been able to
swim in those baggy trunk things. They create too
“Well, you really are the athlete, aren’t you?
Maybe I can lend you something a little more to
your liking.” Mulder was surprised at how eager
Flaherty seemed to spend time with him, but
decided to take it in stride for now – no pun
“Locker rooms are this way,” Ian said as he led
the way through a door at the side of the workout
room. It smelled slightly of disinfectant and
chlorine. Banks of lockers were unused and
unlocked, but Flaherty walked assuredly to a row
of larger ones that were labeled and secured. He
spun the dial on the padlock hanging from the one
Mulder noted carefully the names on each of the
lockers, committing them to memory. If a search
became desired or necessary, it would help to be
able to match them with their owner rather than
have to check them all. Perhaps going along with
the doctor for a swim had been a good idea after
The rattle of the door drew his attention,
revealing a fluffy towel hung near the front.
“What, you don’t make use of the towels they
provide?” Mulder asked, smiling. A doctor who
didn’t use his own facility supplies . . .
“Nope. They’re tiny, they’re threadbare, and
they’re scratchy. Lynn keeps me in all the towels
I need.” He took one down, showing another behind
it, and tossed it to Mulder. “See what married
life will do for you?”
Mulder laughed. “Y’know, Doc, subtlety will never
be your strong suit.
And speaking of suits . . .”
“Okay, okay. I’m sure a buff athlete like you
wants to get back to the workout. You’re lucky,
because Lynn just washed these, too. It wouldn’t
be safe to lend you one otherwise. What do you
prefer, blue or black.” He looked at the two
suits being proffered, both of which were the same
brand and style he wore at home, if not the same
color. “I presume these are more in line with
your personal preference?”
“I really appreciate this,” Mulder said with a
smile. “But I really don’t care – you pick.”
Flaherty tossed the black one at him. “You can
put your clothes in one of the lockers along that
wall. The pool is through the door at the far end
– I’ll meet you out there.” He walked towards
Mulder presumed was the restroom area, leaving him
alone to change in relative privacy.
Mulder was already in the pool swimming laps
before Flaherty emerged from the locker room. In
between laps, they tried to continue their
“Hey, how is that guy down the hall doing? Wimsby?
We talked my first night here and he seemed like a
nice guy. I heard he’s not doing so well.”
“No, he’s not, and we’re not sure why. I can’t
really say too much, and he’s not even my patient,
but he’s no longer even ambulatory.
I wish I could help.”
Mulder was struck by the sincerity in his voice.
He didn’t know how to respond, and they swam in
silence for quite some time. After many laps,
they both drew to a stop at one end of the pool.
“We’d better get out. Lunchtime is coming up, and
I need to get back on the floor and check on some
other patients.” Flaherty drew himself out of the
water, quickly grabbing his towel and turning to
Mulder did the same.
Mulder looked up sharply as he heard a gasp. Ian
Flaherty stood frozen, looking at him with rounded
The doctor shook himself. “I’m sorry, Mulder. I
know I’ve seen them before, but it just took me by
surprise when I saw your scars.” His eyes moved
from Mulder’s shoulder to his thigh. “I admire
you for not being self-conscious of them.”
“I guess I figure it’s all part of the job. Each
one is a significant moment in my life. And
they’re so faint now – compared to how they were.
Most people don’t even notice.”
Flaherty chuckled sadly. “Still, call me
narcissistic, but I’d be running for the nearest
plastic surgeon. Have you ever thought about it?”
“Plastic surgery? Never seriously, although my
doctors mentioned it at first. I don’t care that
much about it, and they’re hardly noticeable.
It’s just me.”
“Well, I’m a sure a doctor wouldn’t be bothered by
them. Especially a beautiful, understanding doctor
like Dr. Scully.”
This time, Mulder laughed. His “Will you stop
it!” trailed behind them as they disappeared into
the locker room.
After a very active morning, Mulder found himself
ravenous at lunchtime. He’d been privately pleased
that he’d been able to out-exercise the doctor,
but it had taken it out of him. He found himself
looking forward to bedtime. And while the
afternoon was quiet, filled with reading and
strolling the halls, his appetite was just as
large when it came time for dinner. He couldn’t
have been happier than when he saw the petite
figure who delivered dinner right to his room.
“Scully,” he said, smiling his welcome. “Where’ve
you been?” He knew she tried to wake around four,
but it was now six and he hadn’t seen her in the
last two hours.
“Bringing you a surprise,” she said, raising two
bags in the air.
“There’ll be no hospital food for you tonight.”
She handed him the bag in her right hand, keeping
the one in the left for herself. He read the
outside of the bag.
“Wendy’s? Scully, this is great! What did you
“See for yourself,” she said, beginning to unpack
her own dinner as she settled on the end of his
bed, facing him. Dinner was spread out on the
blanket between them, a burger, fries, and Seven-
Up for Mulder, with a spicy chicken sandwich, a
small cup of chili, and a Diet Coke for Scully.
“You’ve got cola?” Mulder noticed, forlornly.
“Want to trade?”
“You can’t have caffeine, Mulder. Now eat, and
tell me what you’ve learned today.”
“Okay, but don’t complain that I’m talking with my
“I actually spent a good deal of time with Dr.
Flaherty today. He was in the gym while I was
working out, and we talked. I’m totally convinced
that he knows nothing about what’s going on here.
He seems puzzled at even my own improvement when
they haven’t begun any real treatment as of yet –
we’re still going through the preliminaries. He
also told me Wimsby – the guy I saw the first
night – that his condition has gotten worse. Much
worse. He looked upset that he couldn’t help
“Well, we don’t know for sure, but I tend to agree
with you – Flaherty seems honest. But it still
doesn’t solve the case.”
“If it comes down to it, I did see a great place
for somebody to stash an illegal substance.” At
Scully’s raised eyebrow, he continued.
“There’s a bank of lockers in the gymnasium locker
room that are reserved for the staff. Each is
tagged for the staff member and locked with a
standard, dual-latching combination padlock. If
it’s the kind with a key override in the back, we
may be able to pick them, should it become
necessary. Scully, this is so good!” he remarked
off topic, chewing happily on a French fry.
“I’m glad you like it. I’m going to check out
more of the patient records this evening. There’s
got to be a connection between these patients.
And once the night shift comes on, I want to keep
my eyes on a nurse’s aide here. He was acting a
little spooked last night. It might be nothing,
but . . .”
“I appreciate your watching my back, partner,” he
rocked forward onto his knees, pecking her on the
“Always, Mulder,” she answered, swiping one of his
fries. He looked longingly at her food. She knew
him well enough to know what he wanted. “There
isn’t more than one or two spoonfuls here, but
would you like the rest of my chili?”
He knew she never would offer him more while he
was technically a patient here. He nodded
cheerfully. “You’re the best, Scully,” he
grinned, swiping the small, red cup.
“You only love me for my chili.”
She couldn’t believe her eyes. It couldn’t be.
It just couldn’t.
Yet the evidence was so clear.
She’d surreptitiously shadowed Clinton Leads, the
night nurse’s aide. As he went from room to room,
she watched as he recorded pulse rates, sleep
status, and all the other minutiae necessary. In
the third room, a patient was restless, in the
throes of some kind of dream. Nightmare more
likely, or even worse, a night terror. He turned
to leave, hesitated, and then turned back, seeming
to come to some kind of decision. Then, he
touched the patient’s head. . .
And the patient immediately calmed. Okay, that
was no big deal, she’d admitted to herself.
Perhaps the touch of comfort was reminiscent of
one the patient’s mother had used to calm him as a
child. Nothing special, or rare, or
unexplainable. She thought all this until, of
course, she watched him do it three more times in
different rooms. What did it all mean?
Regardless, at the very least, some questioning
was in order. She waited in the shadows for Leads
to emerge from the room, hoping that he’d
cooperate. Finally, she heard the sounds of
hinges that were developing full-blown squeaks.
“Freeze, Mr. Leads,” she said in a stage whisper,
but her gun hand was steady. “FBI.”
The look on his face was stunned silence, like a
deer caught in a flashlight’s beam. She felt
certain that she was safe in approaching the large
Finally, as she drew closer, he seemed to break
out of his near-catatonic state. But what was
originally a quiet man quickly became a sobbing
“I’m sorry, Dr. Scully. . . I didn’t want to. . .
They made me. . .
They threatened me. . . I was so scared. . .”
For a moment, Scully feared the man was quickly
moving into hysterics.
She’d get no information from him this way. “It’s
okay. It’ll be okay,” she reassured, taking the
unresisting man by the arm. “We just want to ask
you some questions. We’re not going to hurt you.”
She tried to lead him away by the arm, and he went
“Are you going to take me to jail?” he asked,
“Not if you haven’t done anything wrong,” Scully
assured him. She was having a hard time picturing
this man as a suspect with any malicious intent.
“For now, let’s go talk with my partner.”
If he wondered who that was, he didn’t question
it, following her docilely to Mulder’s room.
Slipping into the darkness, she flicked on the
light over his bed and shook him by the shoulder.
“Mulder, wake up.”
Despite the hour, Mulder came to consciousness
quickly, pushing himself into a sitting position.
“What’s going on? You got something
on the case?”
“You could say that,” she responded, turning to
look at Clinton Leads, standing behind her. “Hey,
are you okay?” she asked, taking in the shocked
expression of the man as he looked at Mulder.
“You’re a police officer?” he asked Mulder,
“Well, FBI to be specific.”
“I didn’t know. I didn’t mean to interfere.
Please don’t put me in jail.” The man was
literally pleading with them now. “I just wanted
“Okay, okay. Just calm down. We only want to
talk for now,” Scully soothed. “Why don’t you
take a seat in this chair. I’ll sit right beside
“Dr. Flaherty will be upset if he sees I didn’t
complete my rounds.”
“I’ll explain it all to him. You won’t get in
trouble.” At times, the man seemed more like a
small boy. Finally, he sat in the uncomfortable
plastic chair, seeming relieved when Scully sat in
the one beside him, having holstered her gun, and
Mulder sat with his legs hanging off the side of
She looked into Mulder’s eyes, communicating her
deference to him in questioning the man. As an
accredited psychologist, he’d have a better idea
of how to approach him. But his eyes communicated
back that he needed her lead. He needed to know
what she’d seen.
“Clinton,” she said, trying to gain his trust by
using his first name.
“Tonight, when you were checking on the patients,
I saw you touch some of them. You laid your
fingers on the foreheads of some that were
restless, and they calmed down.”
Leads nodded in acknowledgment, but clearly didn’t
understand what they were asking. Mulder took
“What did you do for them, to let them sleep,
Clinton? Did you help them?” Mulder smiled
slightly, non-confrontational. Leads seemed to
take this as appreciation rather than
“Yeah, I helped them. They were having
nightmares, so I took them away.”
“How do you do that? What do you do when you want
to help somebody who’s having a nightmare?”
“I touch them here,” he showed them on Scully’s
forehead, “and then I just reach out with my mind.
I get inside and I tell the nightmare to go away,
and it does.” He shrugged.
Mulder and Scully exchanged looks, both wide-eyed.
“Do you help all the patients here?” Scully asked.
“I can only help the ones with nightmares, or what
Dr. Flaherty calls night-terrors.”
“And have you helped all the patients that have
nightmares?” Leads looked scared for a moment,
but Scully’s look seemed to reassure him.
“Yep. Nurses’ aides are supposed to want people
to feel better; I just don’t do it like the other
nurses’ aides do. I figure it’s better if we
don’t have to give them drugs.” He smiled shyly,
blushing, and added, “sometimes I even . . .”
“You even what?” Mulder asked.
“Sometimes, I even give them happy dreams. I
think some people need happy dreams to make up for
all the bad things in their nightmares.”
“Clinton, did you help me?” The question from her
partner came out of left field, and Scully was
surprised. “Did you take away my nightmares and
give me good dreams?”
Leads blushed even brighter red, if it was
possible. “Your dreams were scary. . . and so sad.
I made them better, didn’t I?”
“Yes, you did,” Mulder admitted, smiling
enigmatically at his partner.
“We know you didn’t mean to do any harm, but we
have to talk to you seriously about this. What
you’re doing for these patients is having long-
term affects on them after they leave the
hospital. It’s making them want to sleep all the
time – not do anything else. So, while I know you
were just trying to help,” Mulder said with
confidence, “you have to stop it. This is a very
special ability you have, Clinton, but you can’t
use it any more.”
“And if I don’t, if I promise never ever to use it
again, you won’t put me in jail?”
“We can’t promise anything,” Scully said gently,
“but we’ll talk to our boss and see if he agrees.
I have to be honest with you, though.
Our boss might not like the idea of your
continuing on with this ability. They may decide
to put you on some medication to try to suppress
your abilities.” Scully couldn’t believe she was
“Tell them I promise. Cross my heart,” he added,
including the motion.
“I’ll never, ever, ever do it again, no matter how
much I want to.”
“I believe you,” Mulder responded. “Could you
please wait in the hallway for just a minute? I
need to speak to Dr. Scully in private.”
Scully couldn’t help but chuckle when the man
smiled and blushed.
“Okay,” he agreed as he got up to leave. “But no
kissing!” He’d apparently gotten more from
Mulder’s mind than simply his nightmares.
“So what do you think?” she asked him.
“I’m finding it very hard to believe that that man
ever had a malicious thought in his life. His
ability is incredible, but I don’t think he had
any intent to hurt anybody when he used it. I
think we should recommend to Skinner that he goes
free with a warning, and then track the records
here to make sure the cases go back to being more
“While I tend to agree with that, Mulder, I’m not
sure the upper echelon will. If he can really do
what he says he does, he’s a medical miracle.
People will want to study that.”
“Can you see what that would do to him, though?
To any person? To
be turned into a guinea pig?”
“I didn’t say I agreed with it, just that the
possibility exists. I think we’re pretty out of
our league at this point, I’m afraid. Ultimately,
it’s not going to be ours to say. Hell, I don’t
know if what he might be doing is even technically
illegal! Let’s just make our report and send it
to Skinner. After that, it’ll be up to him.
Let’s go tell Leads.”
“Hey, Scully,” Mulder asked, beginning to unbutton
his pajama top.
“Since the case is pretty much over, do you think
I can get rid of these things? They’re going to
hurt like hell coming off, but at least they won’t
“Yeah, I think that would be okay,” Scully said,
moving close to him to gently begin removing the
small pads from his muscled chest. She added in
an almost-perfect mimic, “but no kissing!” They
both chuckled as she continued her work.
In the hallway, Leads was pacing, obviously
Scully began, “we need to write up our report and
email it to our boss in Washington, and then we’ll
find out what he decides.
Don’t worry, I’m sure everything will be okay.”
“Good. Don’t forget to tell him I promise. I
won’t ever do it again.”
“I’ll tell him . . .”
Before Scully could say anymore, there were a
series of shrieks that echoed down the corridors.
Leads took off at a run, considerably ahead of
Mulder and Scully, who were still trying to
identify from which direction the screams were
coming. They finally saw him disappear into a
room two doors down from Mulder’s, and followed
The man on the bed was in full five-point
restraints, thrashing about wildly and yelling
nonsense words. Mulder recognized that it was the
man he’d met briefly, Adam Wimsby. Dr. Flaherty
had told him yesterday that he wasn’t’ doing well,
but Mulder wasn’t prepared for this.
They were also unprepared to see Leads, weeping
near-hysterically by the man’s bedside. He kept
repeating, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” in between sobs
as he buried his face in his hands.
“Mr. Wimsby, wake up!” Scully tried shouting into
the man’s ear, shaking his shoulders, but nothing
seemed to calm the man.
“It’s all my fault,” Leads said, the tears running
down his face. “I did this. I didn’t want to,
but they made me. It’s my fault. Please,” he
turned pleading eyes to first Mulder, then Scully.
“Please let me help him!”
“You promised, Clinton,” Scully reminded him.
“But you don’t understand. I did this. I made him
like this – these aren’t HIS night terrors. I gave
them to him. Please let me take them back.”
“Wait a minute,” Mulder said, trying to grasp the
situation. “Somebody coerced you into doing this
to Wimsby? Who was it? What did they say?”
“It was Dr. Thiason. He didn’t tell me why. Just
that he knew what I could do and that if I didn’t,
he was going to have me arrested. Put me in jail.
Or maybe even let them cut me open to see why I
can do what I do. I was afraid.”
“So you did as he ordered,” Scully said sadly,
sorry for the frightened man. Mulder sent her a
look that communicated volumes, and her look back
told him of her agreement.
“If you can help him, we’ll give you permission
just this one time. A man should be able to right
the wrongs he’s done.”
Clinton Leads seemed relieved. He rose, wiping
his eyes and then his face, drying the tears on
his hands onto his uniform. A slight touch on
Wimsby’s forehead was quickly followed by a few
twitches in Leads’ own face. Viewing the process
from up close for the first time, they both
realized that this wasn’t something that was easy
for the aide.
His effort was reflected in the perspiration on
his brow. But within a couple of minutes, Wimsby
grew silent, and then settled unmoving on the bed,
regaining the normal breathing rhythm of sleep.
“Why do you think this Dr. Thiason would make him
do this,” Scully whispered to Mulder as Leads
retook his seat. He seemed tired.
“I’m convinced it goes back to that first night.
The man who left his room and passed by mine was
content. Happy. But when he was returning to his
room, he most definitely was not. He was
terrified. I think he saw something. Something he
shouldn’t have, and it scared him to death. And
Thiason must have been involved. I’d planned to
talk to him the next day, but by the time I got to
him – with the tests and all – he’d already
“Well, I can only think of one way to find out
what he saw that night,” she said, looking to the
sleeping man. “As much as I hate to wake him. .
“Wake him we must,” Mulder concluded. “Maybe you’d
better do it.
Women are much gentler, and believe me, waking to
your face will be a lot nicer than waking to
mine.” Scully chuckled but proceeded to the bed
to wake Wimsby.”
He didn’t wake easily, and Mulder was beginning to
think he was going to have to help when the man’s
eyes slowly opened, evolving from a mere slit to
wide and round. “What’s going on?” He asked,
“Mr. Wimsby, do you remember me?” Mulder asked.
“Yeah, you’re a patient here, like me.”
“Do you remember when you walked by my room the
other night? You were frightened.”
Dawning realization lit in the man’s face as the
memories of what he’d seen obviously flowed. “Oh,
my God . . .”
“I’m an FBI Agent, Mr. Wimsby. I need you to tell
me what scared you so badly. We know it has
something to do with Dr. Thiason.”
“If I tell you, will you protect me?”
“We’ll put you in protective custody immediately
if it’s warranted,”
“Okay. I went for a walk. I couldn’t sleep,
being in a new place and all. The hallways were
pretty dark, but the nurses’ station was well lit.
There weren’t any nurses there, though. I guess
they were making rounds or something. Dr. Thiason
was there, talking with a guy in a leather jacket.
The doctor took some boxes out of the locked
cabinet behind the desk where they keep the drugs,
I guess, and gave them to this guy. They were
talking really low, but I think the guy in leather
told him there would be money put into his bank
account. I started to get closer to hear better,
but I made a noise and they saw me.”
“They saw your face?”
“Yes, I’m sure of it. The halls were dark, but by
that time, I’d moved into the lighted area.”
“Is there anything else they said that might help
“Yeah, the other guy said something, before the
doctor unlocked the cabinet, about what he’d had
in his locker not being enough. I got the feeling
that he’d already given him some that was hidden
somewhere, but the guy demanded more, so he took
it out of the drug cabinet.”
“Okay, just one more question, Mr. Wimsby,” Scully
said. “Would you be able to recognize the other
man if you saw him?”
“Yes, I’m sure I could.”
“Excellent,” Mulder said victoriously. “I know
it’s very late, but would you mind getting dressed
and coming to the local police station?
We need you to fill out a report and then they’ll
get you the protection you need. Hopefully, if we
take Dr. Thiason into custody, he’ll identify this
contact of his.”
In seeming agreement, Adam Wimsby alit from the
bed, heading for his closet. “Could the lady, at
least, leave while I change?”
“Oh, sorry,” Scully said, then turned to Mulder.
“I’ll be right outside. Mulder, you may want to
go back to your room and put something else on
yourself.” He looked down, as if realizing for
the first time his attire and left quickly to
The foursome, once dressed, made their way to the
elevator, and then down the corridors of the first
floor. Coming around the corner, the sight
shocked them all into stillness. Wimsby recovered
“That’s them!” he said, pointing out the two men
standing outside the locker room doors. One was
definitely Dr. Thiason, and the other wore
“Stay here!” Mulder shouted as he took off in
pursuit of the men with Scully on his heels. They
were forced to split up when the dealer ran
through the locker room doors and the doctor
sprinted down the hall.
“Get Thiason!” he shouted as he rammed his way
through the swinging door.
Thiason was not physically fit, but he had
desperation and longer legs on his side. He was
at the stairwell doors by the time Scully caught
up with him, her attempt to halt his flight
shoving them both through onto the landing at the
base of the stairs. Before she could pull her
weapon, he pushed her hard into the wall, stunning
her for just a second.
It was long enough to get away, except that
another large figure then jumped on the man’s
back. Scully looked up, surprised to see Clinton
Leads trying to halt the man’s escape. Thiason
must have had some kind of self-defense training,
she thought quickly as he easily threw
Leads from his back. She cringed as she watched —
and heard — the aide’s head impact the stair
railing. Leads was unconscious, but he had given
her time. Her weapon was now pointing unwaveringly
at the doctor.
“Freeze, Thiason. You’re under arrest.” She
cuffed both wrists, reciting to him his rights by
rote and turning him over to hospital security
guards. She hoped that Mulder was doing well in
containing his own fleeing suspect.
The locker room was a maze of walls, closets,
showers, and toilet stalls, and Mulder had to
check them all. He kept an ear out, hoping that
footsteps would give away the man’s location. He
had to be in here – the only other exit was into
the pool area. Wait . . .
Could it be that simple? If he didn’t know the
lay of the building, he could easy be making his
way to that door, hoping for an escape.
Working on instinct, foregoing closets and toilet
stalls, Mulder ran silently to the pool entrance
door. It was still closing as he caught the
handle and pulled it open again, spying the UNSUB
creeping with careful steps on the smooth tile
that surrounded the pool. A door at the opposite
side was his obvious goal, but Mulder had no
intention of letting him get that far.
Putting on a sudden burst of speed, praying that
his sneakers allowed him enough traction, Mulder
caught up to the man, making a diving tackle that
went slightly wrong, sending both of them
careening into the water. They both sputtered to
the surface, Mulder slightly slower than the
UNSUB, but enough for the man to attempt a
roundhouse punch to Mulder’s jaw. It never
landed, however, as Mulder grabbed the man’s hand
out of midair and twisted it efficiently behind
his back, subduing him to a slur of curses.
He looked up to see two hospital security guards
and his laughing partner standing at the top of
the pool steps. “Could one of you cuff this guy?”
he panted, pushing the still-cursing man up the
stairs and into the hands of the guards. Turning
to Scully, he took in her delight. “Nice that you
can laugh while I nearly kill myself apprehending
“Oh, Mulder,” she said, trying to hold her
laughter. “Even if you hadn’t fallen into the
pool, you’d be all wet.”
Dana Scully’s Apartment
Mulder came into Scully’s bedroom and flopped on
the bed, face down.
“That was a long phone call,” Scully commented
from the confines of the bathroom. When he didn’t
react, she repeated it louder.
“Oh, sorry, Scully. I still can’t seem to get all
the water out of my ears.”
“If it doesn’t get better, you should probably see
the doctor so he can drain it. You probably have
“You sweet-talker, you,” he chuckled.
“Not romantic enough for you? How about this?
Would Agent Mulder like a hot-oil back rub?
Purely therapeutic, mind you.”
“Uh, that would be great,” Mulder murmured,
pushing his face into the quilt. “Y’know, I think
I’m just getting too old for this.”
“You’ll never grow old, Mulder,” she said,
alighting on the bed beside him. She poured the
oil into the hollow at the center of his back
where it pooled, spreading the warm liquid moments
later with gentle hands. “So who was that on the
“It was an update from the local Bureau office on
the Leads case. They kept him overnight in the
hospital, and he seems to be fine. But all tests
show no sign of his ability to manipulate dreams.”
“You mean, he’s not a dreamweaver anymore?”
“Nope. He’s been very cooperative, but hasn’t
been able to repeat the feats he’d previously
accomplished. It’s actually for the best, I
guess, since nobody could seem to agree what the
best course of action would have been should he
have retained the ability.”
“A blessing in disguise. Just like your time with
him. You haven’t had a nightmare since the case
ended, have you?”
“I’d think you’d know the answer to that as well
as I would,” he said, turning his head to wink at
her as her hands continued their magic.
“But, for the record, no. No more nightmares.”
“I know they’re gone now, but have you given much
thought to what caused them in the first place?”
He rolled over, sitting in front of her and taking
her hands in his own. “Actually, I’ve thought
about it a lot.”
“And what was your conclusion, Dr. Mulder?” she
“It was this,” he said, holding her hands higher
and tighter. “My fear of losing this. I’m not
ashamed to admit that it terrifies me.”
“I’m not going anywhere, Mulder. So you’d better
just get used to having me around.”
“I could get used to having you around for the
rest of my life,” he muttered. He joined his lips
to hers, wrapping her in his arms as she reached
over to flick off the bedside light.