TITLE: Shooting Hoops
AUTHORS: XSketch and Sally Bahnsen
EMAIL: XSketch@hotmail.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
CATEGORY: MSR, MT, A
RATING: PG-13…..maybe a little more for violence and language
SUMMARY: One crazed fan, one ignorant athlete, one game and two FBI agents do
not mix. Could this night *really* get any worse? Hell yes!
FEEDBACK: Even fanfic writers need nutrition! Why not feed two today? You know
you want to… <g>
DISCLAIMER: Mulder and Scully are our slaves to be emotionally or physically
tortured whenever we wish. Huh? Oh, apparently there’s new rules: some guy
called CC and a big ol’ corporation called Fox own ’em 😦 Just as well we get no
monetary benefit out of this then, isn’t it? LOL
ARCHIVE: Two weeks exclusive to VS13
AUTHORS NOTES: Written with love for the VS13’s Spring Sports Special. We should
also note that we took some artistic license and swapped round the venue for the
last basketball game of the series because it was more fun to have it at The Garden,
so please don’t come chasing after us with pointy items unless it’s to poke us into
writing more 😉
DEDICATION: (Sally) This story is dedicated to the gals at MR. But especially the
nubester, for being a worthy opponent and for making me smile everyday.
(Sketch) For Nubsie, all at MR, and my writing buddy on this, Sal – this has been an
awesome writing experience, thank you sooo much 🙂 Also a nod to Kathy Bates,
whose portrayal of Annie Wilkes in the film version of Stephen King’s ‘Misery’ creeps
the living hell out of me more than Donnie Pfaster, even to this day! And, lastly, Mr
The ball bounced – one, two, three – against the shiny wooden
boards. One foot fell gracefully in front of the other before both
legs coiled and then propelled the body they were attached to into
the air. Hundreds of flashbulbs flickered to life for a hundredth of
a second, but the ball’s aim remained on target as a long, muscular
arm launched it ever forward.
The LED clock on the scoreboard counted down another second.
The whole crowd of spectators snatched in a breath; waiting,
Yet somewhere above and beyond the crowd, perched precariously on a
metal rafter as far from where the light reached as possible, a very
unimpressed soul shook her head, wiped away the beads of sweat
blurring her vision, and then lowered it back to stare through the
scope. A black barrel sliced through the shadows as she sought out
her prey once more, and–
With purpose, the basketball left the palm’s cradle, and spun through
four revolutions until it hit the metal hoop it had been heading
towards, where it then hesitantly teetered for an instant – chance,
air current, weight, Newton’s theory of Gravity and one hundred other
factors congregating to decide the orb’s fate, whilst Todd Hooper
(who had put it into play) landed back on his feet and prayed for
this game-winning two-pointer.
The shadow-shrouded figure didn’t care either way, though. For
years, up until just a few days ago, the result scores of her
favorite sporting team’s games had meant everything – the world – to
her, but then the final straws of patience, loyalty and tolerance had
snapped, and now the only thing that did matter was taking down
Hooper for being such an ignorant, arrogant pig.
One lousy autograph! That was all the lonely stranger had asked for
in her dozens of letters to the star athlete, and yet no reply had
come. So, it was time for the good ol’ logic to kick in: if one
devoted fan wasn’t allowed to have the simplest of things like a
signature scrawled no-matter-how-quickly on any item at hand, why
should anyone else have the chance?
A finger rested against the trigger and started to apply pressure.
The orange Spalding was finally given its decision and fell through
Spectators went wild as the horn to mark the end of the game blew.
Crosshairs remained fixed on Hooper’s head, and the assassin was just
about to pull the trigger completely back, when suddenly a blinding
flood of camera flashes illuminated the whole arena and members of
the audience swarmed onto the court.
One more attempt to find and shoot down the player, but the chance
had come and gone within the blink of an eye.
There was no time to regret or linger, though – the assault rifle had
to be packed away and an escape needed to be carried out before the
janitors and security did a sweep of the place. For now, the only
consolation to take away was the fact that there would always be
And, with a small smirk, the figure already decided upon when that
next time should be – in one week, during the team’s game against the
New York Knicks.
Now, that would really get some attention.
Two cups of coffee in a cardboard tray and a box of Krispy Kreme
donuts were balanced precariously in Scully’s left hand while her
briefcase hung like a lead weight from her right. She kicked twice at
the door with her right foot before it swung open wide enough for her
to squeeze through.
Mulder sat with his feet propped on his desk, his tie loosely knotted
and the top button of his shirt undone. It was barely 11 am, yet he
looked as if he’d put in a full 8 hours. There was even the beginning
of a 5 o’clock shadow darkening his jaw line. The handset of his
phone was pressed between his ear and shoulder, both hands busy
twirling a freshly sharpened pencil. He smiled when Scully entered
the office, dropped the pencil and made a half-hearted effort at
shuffling files to make space for the coffee and donuts.
Scully caught the tail end of Mulder’s conversation as she plunked
her Krispy Kreme bounty and coffee tray on the desk.
Mulder nodded his thanks at Scully and spoke into the handset. “Okay,
yeah. Tonight? You can? Here? Yeah, yeah, that’ll be fine. Okay,
thanks. No, really. I owe you one– No, make that a hundred! Yeah,
you too. Bye.”
Scully nearly jumped out of her skin when Mulder slapped his desk and
let out a very uncharacteristic ‘yee hah’! When he stood and did
what Scully could only describe as a happy dance, she was seriously
considering calling 911. Instead she stood very still and raised her
left eyebrow as both crossed over her chest.
“Is everything okay, Mulder?”
He came around to the front of his desk, placed his hands on Scully’s
shoulders and planted a wet, sloppy kiss on her forehead. “You are
not going to believe what just happened!”
“Try me.” Her eyebrow remained embedded in her hairline, and it was
taking every ounce of self-restraint not to reach up and check his
pupils for evidence of a head injury.
Mulder released her shoulders and did a quick foxtrot kind of pace
around the office, before coming to a halt in the middle of the
room. In a very ‘Adam West’ sort of way, he then pointed his finger
at the ceiling while turning to face Scully and announced, “Have I
got a surprise for you?!”
Pausing only long enough to check his watch, he raced back to the
working side of his desk and this time enthusiastically gathered his
strewn files into a neat pile. “We’ve gotta get this report written
for Skinner. I wanna be out of here by 2 o’clock.”
“Mulder, will you stop, and just tell me what the hell is going on?”
“I’m taking you out tonight, Scully. The tickets are being FedExxed
to the Hoover Building even as we speak, and I think you’ll be pretty
pleased when you see where we’re going to be seated.”
Scully felt herself relax and a warm, gooey feeling pooled in the pit
of her stomach. Mulder was going to surprise her with a romantic
night out. He’d organized tickets. Great seats, he’d said. She
imagined all kinds of scenarios. Andrew Lloyd Webber had top
billing, or could it be the Kirov Ballet? Had she hinted to Mulder
that she would love to see their performance of William Forsyth’s
“Come on Scully, quit daydreaming, we’ve got work to do.” She glared
at her partner for interrupting her visionary splendor and watched as
he took a long swig of his coffee around a huge mouthful of glazed
cream-filled donut – a little dollop of custardy cream clinging to
the corner of his mouth. For one mad second Scully wanted to leap
across the room and lick it off… But then she came to her senses,
straightened her hair, and wiped two sweaty palms along the side of
her skirt. Taking a delicate sip of her own coffee, she gave herself
a mental slap, metaphorically rolled up her sleeves and seated
herself behind her desk to write her own report. The quicker the
paperwork was done, the quicker they could leave the office and the
quicker her fantasizing would become a reality.
Scully sunk down in the warm tub of water, bubbles fizzing and
popping around her ears. She felt wonderful. Mulder had picked up the
FedEx envelope from the front desk of the FBI building around 1:30pm,
still refusing to tell her exactly where they were going, only that
she would get the surprise of her life.
She still couldn’t believe that Mulder had organized this himself. Oh
god! What was she going to wear? If she didn’t know where they were
going, how would she know how to dress?
“Scully?” Mulder rapped lightly on the door and opened it just wide
enough to peek in. “Are you nearly done? We need to think about
leaving – I want to beat the crowd so we can get something to eat.”
He was taking her to dinner, too? Oh, Mulder. She smiled
indulgently. “Okay, I won’t be long.”
Five minutes later, Scully was shaved in all the right places, blow-
dried, talcum-powdered, moisturized, and deodorized. Dressed in only
her underwear and bathrobe she was applying the finishing touches to
her make up when Mulder again rapped on the bathroom door, this time
a little more forcefully. He opened the door and came in, clearly
agitated. “Um, Scully, we really need to get on the road.”
Scully tucked her mascara back in its cover and reached for her
lipstick. “You know, Mulder, you better tell me where we’re going or
I’m not going to know what to wear.”
“Dress warm. I’d suggest jeans, sweater and probably some kind of
Scully stared at Mulder’s reflection in the mirror. “Jeans? But…”
But Mulder wasn’t listening. He was eyeing his watch as if he could
control the time by mind power alone.
His earlier happy dance in the office had definitely morphed into the
dance of the impatient. “Scully? Will you be much longer? Tip off’s
at 7:30 and I really want to grab a bite to eat before the start.”
Scully abandoned her lipstick and turned slowly to face her partner.
“Yeah, the game starts at 7:30.”
“What game?” She took a step towards him.
Mulder sighed and grinned. “Okay, I guess I’m going to have to tell
you. I really wanted this to be a surprise, but…I have got
corporate seats for the Knicks versus Nets game. We will be
practically court-side where we can get up close and personal with
all the action. Scully you’ll be able to smell the sweat!” Mulder’s
smile was so wide she was worried he’d rupture a cheek muscle.
Meanwhile, she could feel her own face contorting into a deep frown –
the earlier warm fuzzy feeling in her stomach quickly turning into a
solid lump of ice.
She had to swallow twice before she could bring herself to speak.
“We’re…we’re going to a basketball game?”
“Scully, not just any basketball game. The *Knicks* versus The Nets
game. Do you have any idea how hard it is to get tickets for this
Actually, no, she didn’t. It wasn’t something she thought about on a
regular basis. In fact, truth be told, it wasn’t something she had
ever thought about at all, in her whole life. She had reservations
about baseball, but at least she liked it – understood it… But
Basketball? It was like another language that she had no interest in
Scully took a long look at her partner, tamped down her rising fury
and considered the way he was practically bouncing off the bathroom
walls with unbridled enthusiasm. He was genuinely pleased with
himself, and just as genuinely expected her to share his excitement.
There was an empty, hollow feeling in her gut, her eyes stung with
disappointment, and when she swallowed she noticed a nasty lump
hovering at the back of her throat, but she was not going to let
Mulder see how stupid she felt. So, in a quiet voice, she said, “I
better finish getting ready or we’ll be late,” and then turned back
to the mirror to pick up her lipstick.
Mulder came up behind her, wrapped both arms around her and squeezed
her in a big bear hug. “This is going to be great, Scully. It’s a
once in a lifetime opportunity.” Scully noticed his broad grin had
settled into a wistful smile. He was already at the game, imagining
the plays in his head. He gave her one last squeeze, a gentle kiss to
the crown of her head, studied his watch one more time then
announced, “I’ll go bring the car around while you get dressed.” His
exit reminded Scully of a big Afghan pup, bouncing on all fours.
The surprise of her life, she reflected dubiously. Yeah, he was right
Scully sighed. God, she loved that man, but sometimes he just really
pissed her off!
MADISON SQUARE GARDEN
APRIL 19th, 2006
Like a vulture patiently waiting for its next meal to drop dead on
the ground below it, the slim, solitary figure dressed all in black
rested against one of the room supports high up in the eaves of the
stadium and intently watched the deluge of sports fans (most adorned
in their extortionately expensive yet tacky team paraphernalia) pour
in and fill the seats.
Tonight was the night.
Tonight *had* to be the night: it was the last game of the series for
both teams (neither of which had a chance of going through to the
playoffs whatever the outcome of this match-up anyway), and Hooper
had been allowed to live a week too long – there could be no re-
planning and waiting for the next season.
Definitely tonight, no matter what it took or who she needed to take
out to get to that conceited, obnoxious, ignorant, self-centered
bastard who didn’t even care about the people that essentially paid
his wages enough to give one measly autograph.
The figure reached for the long black duffel bag and pulled it closer
to comfort herself.
‘He’ll learn. They all will.’
“I still say it wasn’t right to do that! What if Skinner finds out
you’ve been recklessly waving your ID credentials around just to get
“Scully, if I hadn’t we’d still be stuck at the damn turnpike!”
“Yes, but I don’t think a du–…a basketball game constitutes as a
As he handed over their tickets and they finally filed into the arena
at twenty-past-seven, Mulder shot his partner an unappreciative
glance, and Dana felt the last glimmer of hope she’d been clinging to
that this was just a bad joke fade away – taking with it any argument
she may have had left within her.
‘Dumb, pointless basketball game…’
His features quickly melted into a smile as he looked toward the
court, and before she could say anything more there was the familiar
feel of his hand pressing against her back. “Come on, Scully, let’s
go find our seats.”
Shuffling forward – moved by the force of his hand as opposed to her
own will – Scully blinked several times. “But we haven’t eaten since
“We’ll just have to grab a ‘dog or something during the half-time
period,” he dismissed, never faltering in his progression toward the
courtside. “If you hadn’t spent so long in the bathroom or the
traffic hadn’t been so clogged we woulda gotten here in time to get
something more an–…” He trailed off, looked down at their ticket
stubs and then at the seating either side of them, mumbling,
“…section 27, row c, seats– Aha! Here we are! Isn’t this great?”
His words ran over and over in Scully’s head as he directed her to
their seats. She appreciated that this meant a lot to him, and was
even pleased to see that joyous, excited, relaxed aura surrounding
him, despite the cost of her own boredom and disappointment (for
God’s sake, she loved him – of course she wanted to see him happy!),
but if he ignored her or made one more snide crack, she would not be
held responsible for any physical damage she would be driven to incur
Let down, starved, and out of place… Scully highly doubted this
night could possibly get any worse.
The game started on time without a hitch, and everything seemed to be
Except, for one embittered soul, the plan was going far from well.
The center, Todd Hooper, hadn’t started the game – wasn’t even on the
High above the court, the crazed fan gripped frantically at the black
gun bag beside her on the framework. This couldn’t be happening…
Dammit, she deserved her revenge!
Tears of anger and hurt welled in her eyes as she prepared to stand
and leave. But then she faltered – actually looked back down at the
court to reconsider any further course of action, as if intuition was
telling her there was still hope…that vengeance could still be won.
So, she stayed.
And the decision paid off: not one minute after she retuned to her
place, a whistle was blown and her prey entered the arena – waving
self-righteously at the cheering crowd.
Scully let out a deep sigh as her stomach loudly begged for some –
*any* – form of sustenance, and glanced down at her watch for the
hundredth time since the game had started, briefly lifting it to her
ear to check it hadn’t stopped.
The minute hand was mocking her, she just knew it. She suspected
that whoever had gotten them the tickets (more than likely Danny) was
off somewhere having a good laugh at her expense too.
“Come on!” Mulder suddenly called out as his beloved team advanced
towards the opponents’ hoop.
She studied his face as he watched the game – followed the line of
his unshaven jaw as it constantly moved, like the ocean – and
literally felt her mouth watering at the thought of how tasty he
…which, in turn, had her thinking of food again, and set her
stomach off once more with its desperate gurgling and growling.
Maybe if she weren’t so bored, she’d be able to distract her hunger,
but the game was far from entertaining or remotely interesting, and
the only thing she could think about was how lovely it would have
been if he’d just been thoughtful enough to take her out to that show
or that restaurant…anywhere but here!
Another deep sigh as she sat back and distractedly lifted her chin up
to look at the roof structure.
And that’s when she saw it. Out of the corner of her eye and for no
more than a second, but there nevertheless, and something about it
niggled at her senses: a figure, dimly highlighted by the lighting
rig below where it stood, crouching down until the blinding glare
from the lamps made it impossible to see.
“Mulder,” Scully started, never lowering her gaze as she tapped his
arm. “Mulder, there’s someone up on the roof supports.” He didn’t
respond, so she tried again. “Mulder!”
“What?” He was clearly desperate to turn his attention back to the
game, but, bless him, at least he looked genuinely concerned.
“I saw someone above the court.”
Mulder shrugged, briefly glancing back at the gameplay before looking
at his partner again. “It’s probably just security…The place is
swarming with them.”
She shook her head, dismissing the comment. “It wasn’t–”
The short, sharp whistle blow cut her off, and before she knew what
was happening, the whole stadium was ringing with the sound of
applause and cheers, and Mulder was on his feet joining in as if she
wasn’t even there.
That was the last straw, and Dana quickly moved out into the aisle to
report what she’d seen to one of the arena police as a throbbing
headache begun to build behind her eyes. She thought she heard his
voice calling after her, but the noise from the spectators washed it
out, and she was past the point of caring enough to return to her
Although she couldn’t turn fast enough on her heels when a gunshot
ripped through the air and panic ensued.
Ducking for cover and reaching instinctively for weapon that wasn’t
there, Mulder turned and looked for his partner – only just
realizing she was no longer at his side. “Scully?” A quick glance
at the rafters and he leapt back to his feet, desperately searching
for her amongst the fleeing crowd. “Scully?”
“Mulder! Over here.”
She forced herself upstream against the surging mob, inching her way
back towards her seat, but for every foot of progress she made, the
panicked spectators forced her further away from her goal.
Mulder caught a glimpse of red hair crushed between a sea of people.
“Mulder, he’s in the rafters.”
“Call for back up. I’m going up there.”
“No wait, Mu–”
But Scully was pushed backwards and her last glimpse of Mulder was of
him scrambling over rows of seats heading towards the back of the
Mulder leapt across the seats, taking the rows two at a time. Most of
the spectators had made a beeline for the nearest exits leaving seats
empty and a relatively easy path to navigate.
Nervous glances towards the roof produced no sign of the shooter, and
he wondered anxiously if maybe the gunman was lining up for another
By the time he made it to the top of the stadium Mulder was wiping
sweat from his eyes and gasping for breath. The ladder reaching up to
the roof supports was in the western corner against the back wall.
Using the seats as cover, Mulder crept between the rows, searching
the eaves above for the shooter and wishing he had his weapon.
“Hold it! Don’t move. I’m armed and I will shoot.” The orders were
issued with authority from somewhere behind Mulder, but there was no
mistaking the underlying fear in their delivery. Mulder couldn’t see
who was speaking to him and he wondered briefly if he’d found the
shooter, or more to the point, if the shooter had found him?
The rush of people forcing Scully toward the exit never seemed to
end, and it was by pure luck that she somehow managed to shoulder her
way through the flow and out into a clearing at the side without
being knocked over. She glanced back in the direction of the court,
wishing she could see what Mulder was doing, but then ‘Agent’ mode
kicked in, and Dana quickly reached for her phone as she ran in
search of the security office.
“This is Special Agent Dana Scully of the FBI – I need immediate
police back-up at Madison Square Garden…We’ve got shots fired by a
By the time she’d confirmed the location, any other pertinent
information and hung up, she was opening the door to the security
“Hey! What the hell d’ you think you’re doin’?” a large man
exclaimed, standing up from behind his desk and moving around to bar
“I’m a federal agent–”
“I don’t care – you can’t just burst in here like you own the damn
It wasn’t something she enjoyed at any particular time, but now was
really pushing her tolerance for dealing with a complete asshole.
“You’ve got a sniper out there who may have shot someone – or even
still may if you don’t do something – and you’re worried about the
protocol of your office?” She barked, forcing her way past the taller
figure and then sharply turning to face him. “Why aren’t you out
there doing anything?”
As if it answered all her questions, the guard unsnapped a two-way
radio from his belt and waved it in front of her face. “You think I
haven’t a clue what’s goin’ on? We’ve got venue staff struggling to
calm thousands of panicking spectators down and I got a team sweeping
that arena tryin’ to determine where the shot came from.”
“I know where the shot came from.” If she wasn’t so worried about
what Mulder was doing, Dana wondered if she would have just left this
jerk in the dark and taken control of everything herself, but lives
were at stake and they needed all the help they could get.
What was that she’d thought about the night not getting any worse?
The uniformed man straightened at the new tidbit of information –
chewed at the inside of his mouth as he sized the red-haired woman
up. She knew where the shot came from? Was it just pure coincidence
that an FBI agent was at the stadium on the night of an attack and,
furthermore, could pinpoint the origin of the shot, or was there
something else going on here?
He frowned, and inconspicuously rested a hand atop his holstered
pistol. “Who’d you say you are again?”
Scully noticed the uncertain, protective stance and gave an
understanding nod of her head as she slowly reached for her ID…only
to remember it was in her jacket pocket, which she’d taken off and
draped over the back of her seat once they’d settled down.
Mulder raised his arms above his head, not willing to identify
himself until he knew who he was dealing with.
“Okay, turn around nice and slow, keep your hands where I can see
He did as he was told, turning in a slow arc until he was facing the
man issuing the orders.
A security guard.
Mulder’s knees trembled with relief and he let out a slow breath.
“I’m a fed –”
“Shut up! I’m doing the talking. Now, what the hell are you doing
hiding out up here?”
Mulder kept his voice nice and steady. “My name is Fox Mulder. I’m a
federal agent. My ID is in my pocket.”
“Oh sure, we get a sniper and there just happens to be a federal
agent watching the game.” The man licked his lips, adjusted his
stance. “Okay, come over here; keep it slow, one step at a time.”
“Contrary to popular belief, occasionally we do get to experience
life outside of the Bureau.” Mulder informed the guard as he edged
his way towards the man. “I’m *not* the shooter and every second you
waste talking to me is giving him more of a chance to get away.”
Mulder ran his tongue over his lips, his mouth dry but his brow wet
with nervous perspiration. “I’m going to reach into my back pocket
and get my ID.”
The security guard, a tall man who looked to be in his late fifties
shuffled his feet and corrected the grip on his weapon. “Don’t try
anything silly, son.”
“Believe me,” Mulder insisted, “I have no intention of trying
anything.” Mulder pulled out his ID, held it up for inspection and
then tossed it at the man’s feet. The security guard picked it up,
keeping his weapon trained on Mulder’s chest. He studied the ID and
scrutinized Mulder’s face, waiting for what seemed like an eternity
before finally loosening his grip on the gun and lowering it to its
Mulder relaxed visibly, and easily caught his ID when it was tossed
back at him.
“What are we dealing with?” The man moved to stand beside Mulder.
Pointing towards the roof beams, Mulder shared what he knew. “I’m
going up there to check it out, my partner’s down there somewhere
hopefully organizing back up. You need to let the police know what
we’ve got and I want you to keep everyone not involved in law
enforcement away from here. Okay?”
The uniformed man nodded and gave Mulder a dubious look. “Should you
be doing this alone?”
“Probably not, but I’m off duty,” Mulder called over his shoulder as
he ran towards the ladder.
“My name is Special Agent Dana Scully,” she hesitated, inwardly
cursing herself for not thinking to snag her coat as she’d stormed
off. “My badge is in the arena with my belongings – I was here just
watching the game and happened to look up and see someone in the
rafters shortly before the shot. Wh–”
“Sir, this is Virgil up on deck 6,” the radio crackled to life,
cutting Scully short. “Just encountered a Fox Mulder from the FBI –
he says the shooter’s up top.”
‘Please don’t play Superhero, Mulder,’ she prayed, lowering her head
as her eyes briefly slipped shut.
“Two feds?” the security supervisor coughed, “Isn’t this just my
lucky night?” He paused and then spoke into the walkie-talkie,
“What’s going on up there?”
There was a silent pause – only broken by the faint crackle over the
speaker – and then “Crazy bastard’s gone up to talk the perp down.”
She wasn’t surprised, but Scully still felt something heavy settle
within her stomach as her head snapped up – the image of him climbing
up the rows of seats as the distance between them had increased
playing over and over in her mind. She opened her mouth to say
something, but another voice was talking over the radio before she
“Mack reporting in.”
This appeared to be what the supervisor had been waiting for as his
features lit up and he quickly asked, “Go ahead, Mack.”
“The players are all accounted for and uninjured, but we got an
“I’m a medical doctor,” Scully suddenly announced, wishing that one
fact could solve everything. “Look, Officer–?”
“Gene Wilkes – Captain Gene Wilkes,” the broad figure introduced –
shoulders relaxing fractionally. “Agent…Scully? I’m sure you’re
just trying to help, but we got a medical team that’s equipped to
deal with any emergency an–”
“And they may be lucky to get in there at all with their first aid
kits!” she exclaimed. “Look, that’s my partner in there going after
that sniper and there’s an injured person I might be able to help –
at least until the first-aid team or EMTs do arrive. Yes, I’m trying
to help, but this is my job too – even when I’m off the clock – and
I’m not about to back down from that. I just need to get back in
Wilkes considered what she’d said, but knew that without any time to
waste on arguing, all he could do was agree and help in whatever way
he could. “I’ll help you get through the crowd,” he finally
acquiesced, re-holstering his radio and moving aside so that Scully
could leave the room first.
“Oh god, oh god.” What had she done? There were people everywhere,
running, screaming and she couldn’t even tell whether she’d hit her
target. To top it all, her shoulder ached from the recoil – she
hadn’t expected that. All she wanted to do was make that uppity
bastard pay. And had she? Oh shit, there were no more chances and
they’d put her in jail and then what? Run. She had to get away or the
place would be swarming with cops and they’d catch her and she’d be
locked up. Hands trembling, sweaty inside her leather gloves, she
slung the rifle over her shoulder and crawled along the scaffolding.
Shit, what was that? There was someone coming up the ladder. She
shuffled backwards until she was up against a railing, cornered. Oh,
god, who was it? The cops? She pulled her rifle from her shoulder and
took up aim. She wasn’t going to jail, no way. Whoever it was had
better keep their distance.
Mulder peeked over the top of the ladder. The ceiling was a maze of
scaffold-like beams and rafters. He looked left and right and saw
nothing but rows and rows of latticed steelwork disappearing into
gloomy darkness. Carefully, he pulled himself up, the skin on the
back of his neck prickling in anticipation of a bullet taking him out.
Mulder climbed a little further so that he was perched on all fours
along a narrow platform. The roof rafters branched off on either side
of him and stretched out into gloomy darkness in front. There were
huge spot lights a few feet below the small platform, anchored in
place with thick rope. Electric cables were threaded along the beams,
coiled on the ground at regular intervals. Warily, he crawled along
the scaffolding straight out in front, painfully aware that one wrong
move could send him hurtling to the ground.
“And just where the hell do you think you’re going?” A loud ‘click-
click’ informed Mulder a weapon had just been cocked at about the
same time as his mind processed that the voice he was hearing
belonged to a woman.
In the shadow to his left, he was just able to make out a small
figure crouched in the corner. As his eyesight grew accustomed to the
semi-darkness there was no doubt that this was the shooter. The woman
was dressed all in black, her gloved hands wrapped tightly around the
barrel of a telescopic rifle.
“What are you doing up here?”
There was an edge to her voice, desperate.
“Would you believe I’ve come to check out a report of bats in the
“Don’t give me that shit. What the hell are you doing here!?” The
woman handled her weapon nervously.
“Why do you think I’m up here?” Mulder asked in that smooth-as-
chocolate voice, hoping to draw the woman out.
“I think you’re about to meet your maker, that’s what I think.” The
woman stood up, the rifle an ugly extension of her arms as she raised
it to her shoulder.
“WAIT! Wait.” Mulder cautiously moved from all fours to a kneeling
position, holding one hand up in a defensive gesture.
The woman took aim, “What have I got to wait for? The cops’ll be here
any minute and then I’ll be behind bars.”
“No one knows you’re up here. There’s just you and me.” Mulder tried
to get a look at what was happening below him, but the angle was
wrong to get a good view. From where the shooter was, she could
probably see the whole stadium. “Why don’t you tell me your name?”
“Why would I want to do that?” Her finger twitched against the
“Because you look like you need someone to talk to. You look like you
could use a friend.”
“It’s no good. I’m going to jail.” Mulder thought he could detect a
slight shift in the shooter’s mood. “I killed him.”
“Tell me your name.” Mulder insisted quietly.
“Laura,” she answered, just as quietly.
“Laura, my name’s Mulder.” But the woman wasn’t listening to him. She
was staring off to a place that existed only in her head.
“I shot him.”
“Who, Laura? Who did you shoot?” Despite hearing the sound of the
gunshot, Mulder had no idea whether she’d actually hit anyone.
“Todd Hooper.” She practically spat the name. Then more quietly,
almost like a whiney child. “I only wanted his autograph. He couldn’t
even stop for 10 seconds and scribble his name on a photo.” Her voice
grew angrier, “He’s an arrogant bastard!”
Mulder started to rise to his feet, still holding his hands out
“Laura, we don’t know that you actually hit anyone. If you missed
then there’s no harm done.” He was all the way up now.
“I’ve gone to every game. He was my hero. All I wanted was a little
“Laura?” Mulder took a step towards her.
“He just brushed me off, didn’t even look at me.”
“Laura, why don’t you give me the gun?” Inching closer.
“What?” She seemed to see Mulder for the first time since he stood
up. “What are you doing? No! Get away from me!”
“Laura, take it easy. I’m not going to hurt you.”
“Don’t make this end badly. If you give me the gun now, nobody else
needs to get hurt.”
“You’re a cop!” Laura raised the gun. “You’re not going to take me! I
WON’T GO TO JAIL!”
The woman was almost hysterical. Mulder needed to calm her down
before the situation got out of control.
“No one wants to put you in jail.”
“Bullshit! Get away from me.” She took a step backwards, stumbled
slightly and in an attempt to right herself her finger squeezed
around the trigger.
Mulder saw the flash of gunfire just before he felt the bullet enter
his left leg above the knee. One millisecond later his brain
registered the pain. Instinct made him clutch at his wounded leg, the
sudden movement throwing him off balance. With sheer terror, he
realized that he was toppling sideways with nothing to break his
fall. Desperately, he fought to find something to hang onto but his
hands, slick with his own blood were unable to find purchase on the
metal railing and he slid over the edge of the roof beam hurtling
towards the ground.
In the space of a second, Mulder discovered it was true what people
said about your life flashing before your eyes when facing death. And
just when he’d resigned himself to the fact that he’d never see
Scully again, never have the chance to say goodbye and tell her how
much he loved her, his descent came to an abrupt halt.
He felt something wrap tight around his left ankle and his knee
cracked in protest as it took the full strain of his weight. It was
then Mulder realized that he was dangling in mid air.
The bullet wound burned in his thigh, his knee and hip screamed with
the sudden wrench of his broken fall and his ankle felt as if
something were trying to cut right through the bone, but God-dammit
it, he was alive.
Despite the unwavering bedlam as everyone fought to evacuate the
building as quickly as possible – cries and screams and yells
probably audible within a twenty mile radius of the building – moving
against the crowd certainly proved to be easier with the broad figure
of Wilkes leading the way, and it wasn’t long before Scully was back
inside the arena. She looked up at where she’d spotted the shooter
as she moved toward the injured spectator, but the bright floods
blocked her vision so for now she would just have to draw comfort
from the idea that Mulder knew (in his own strange way) what he was
“This is Katie,” Officer Mack started as Scully crouched down in
front of the seated ten-year-old girl and pulled back the bundle of
tissues that had been pressed against her bleeding left arm. “She
and her mom were watching the game – her dad had just disappeared to
use the john…”
“Does her dad know?” the female agent queried, carefully inspecting
“We put a message out over the PA system, but he’s not shown up yet.”
“Judging by the crowds out there, he’ll be lucky to get in at all…”
Dana remarked, distractedly. She paused and smiled reassuringly at
the girl, who was braving it enough to not cry. “You’re gonna be
okay, Katie,” she nodded before turning her attention back to the
security guard. “Where’s her mother then?”
“We took her aside just to help calm her down – she was getting
hysterical, and we didn’t want her scaring the kid anymore.”
“You didn’t wanna scare her but took her mom away?”
“Is it serious?” Wilkes quickly cut in, bending over to glance at the
Scully shook her head, replacing the wad of tissues and standing up
before reaching once more for her cellphone. “The bullet’s just
nicked the skin…She’ll need stitches, but nothing serious.” She
stepped away and looked once more up at the lighting rig well above
where she stood as her fingers tapped out 911 on the keypad.
The sound of a woman’s voice shouting filtered through the air, but
the echo made it impossible to locate, so she assumed it was the
girl’s irate mother and lifted the phone to her ear.
“911 – how–”
Everyone ducked down and several guns were instinctively drawn…
But Scully stood frozen and aghast as she saw first the gun flare,
and then – shortly after – Mulder’s form come into view…falling
He was falling from the ceiling!
From his precarious position, Mulder could see the whole stadium.
There was an unearthly silence as he hung suspended above the seats,
swinging idly in a tight circle. He thought he saw a flash of red
hair below him. No, it couldn’t be. But then he saw it again.
“Scull-eee!” His voice was raspy, strained. Could she even hear him?
The look of shock on her face mirrored the fear he knew was etched on
his own. He may have been spared the finality of hitting the ground,
but how long would the cable be able to hold him?
Blood flowed freely from the wound in his leg, dripping on his face,
and splattering to the floor below. Adding insult to injury, he felt
his cell phone slip from his pocket and plunge towards the ground.
And then the cable shifted, just an inch or two, but Mulder’s body
jerked downwards with the sudden movement.
His head throbbed and his vision blurred as gravity forced too much
blood to his brain.
How the hell was he going to get out of this one?
Scully’s phone slipped from her grasp and landed on the polished
floor just as Mulder’s fell from his upside-down pocket and smashed
She went to run forward in a desperate attempt to try to catch him or
at least break the fall, but as quickly as his descent began, it came
to an abrupt stop, and she was left blinking with confusion as he
seemingly floated in mid air (the pain and terror carved in his
features visible even from this far below him).
One of the lights in the rig blew, sending sparks flying everywhere,
and a horrid creaking scratched at her senses.
“He’s snagged on a cable!” a voice suddenly exclaimed from somewhere
The throbbing pain in his leg, loss of blood and his good friend:
shock, all combined to send his heart rate skyrocketing and his head
spinning. The roaring in his ears told him it would only be a matter
of time before he would pass out. The only saving grace was that he’d
be spared the agony of being awake when he finally plummeted to an
almost certain death below.
Mulder caught another glimpse of Scully standing beside a small child
with a crowd of security guards gathered around her. She was staring
at him, at first with uncertainty, then she seemed to come to a
decision and with a new kind of fear in his heart, he understood what
she was planning to do.
He shook his head ‘no’ at her. If she tried to help him she risked
being taken down when the rig gave way. He mouthed the words ‘I’m
sorry’, and ‘I love you’ just before she took off in much the same
way he had done what must have been only 10 or 15 minutes ago.
‘Oh god’ he prayed, ‘please let me go before she gets to the top.’
And with that last thought, his vision faded to black and the noise
of screams and yelling grew more distant as he slipped into
Scully held her breath, her heart hammering against her chest at a
million miles an hour, as she saw the cable cradling his foot slacken
even further. It wouldn’t be long before the whole lighting rig
crashed down to the court’s surface with him.
She had to rescue him. There had to be a way.
Mulder shook his head as if begging her not to try to help. Scully
knew he wouldn’t want her up there risking her own life, but she’d be
dammed if she was just going to stand by and watch him fall to his
When he mouthed ‘I’m sorry’ and ‘I love you’, Dana knew she couldn’t
wait any longer.
“I need some guards to come up there with me, someone to get the
tallest ladder this place has…and will somebody *please* call for
EMTs!” she barked out orders, rushing in the direction she’d seen
Mulder take not ten minutes earlier and refusing to pause long enough
to see if anyone was obeying or following her.
The first thing Scully encountered when she finally made it to the
top of the stadium was another security guard, his panicked
expression telling her he’d been witness to Mulder’s fall.
A few seconds later, two more security staff joined her at the base
of the ladder.
“We’ve got to go up. He needs help.” Scully stated the obvious, but
by doing so it at least made her feel as if she was doing *something*.
The first guy moved to the side, but caught her arm as she went to
climb the ladder. “The shooter’s still up there and since your
partner fell, there’s no guarantee that structure is still stable.”
It was logic she would have used in any other situation, and dammit
she was trying to stay as calm as humanly possible (had to, in fact,
congratulate herself for actually pausing long enough to listen to
these people who didn’t value Mulder’s life anywhere near as much as
she did), but the longer they stood here debating the ‘right’ thing
to do, the shorter her partner’s chances of getting out of this alive
And she wasn’t going to let him fall.
“Whether anybody goes up there or not, that whole rig is gonna go,”
she snapped, tightly gripping onto one of the ladder’s rungs with her
right hand to both support her shaken, terrified frame, and make the
point very clear that there would be no stopping her.
“And the shooter?” Wilkes suddenly quizzed as he approached the small
gathering. “You wanna get yourself shot, too? Or maybe someone
This was ridiculous – there was no time for this! – and with one last
shake of her head as she glanced up at where Mulder hung, Dana
started her ascent up the ladder; shaking, sweaty palms making it
difficult to retain hold of the rungs.
At the base of the ladder, Wilkes shook his head in disgust and then
quickly snatched up his radio. “Maintenance? Anyone from
maintenance there?” There was no reply, so he tried again to no
avail. “God damn…” Wiping a hand across his dry mouth, he glanced
up at the dangling figure raining blood upon the court and then at
the three guards gathered beside him. “Virgil, you go up there with
her – make sure you keep me informed on *everything* that’s going on,
no matter how insignificant it may seem.”
“Yes, sir!” the tall, gray-haired guard affirmed with a nod of his
The supervisor smiled his appreciation at the older man before
barking into the radio once more, “Mack? Where’s that medical team?”
“They’re on their way, captain.”
“What about the emergency services?”
“The same, except there’s traffic all the way back to the Hudson so
they may be another ten minutes. Hope you didn’t have any bets on
this game, sir.”
“Under the circumstances I’ll pretend you just didn’t say that,”
Wilkes coughed. Clipping the two-way back on his belt, he started
making his way back down the seating blocks. “You two,” he called
over his shoulder before he got too far out of earshot, “with me – we
gotta go get that scissor lift and move some people so that we can
get it in here!”
There was a metallic groaning noise and some movement as Scully
pulled herself up onto the beam and took stock of her surroundings.
The first thing her gaze fell on was the cowering, whimpering woman
huddled at the far end of the walkway – a bolt-action rifle discarded
and balancing hazardously on the strut five feet away.
“I–…He–…I didn’t mean–…*Make it stop*!”
Scully considered her options, decided the sniper was subdued enough
to not be a further threat, and then carefully inched toward where
her partner hung.
“Mulder? Mulder, it’s me – can you hear me?” she called, leaning
over the edge. From this angle, she couldn’t see his face or exactly
where the bullet had hit him, but she could see the pool of blood on
the floor below and, added to his non-existent reply, it was enough
for her to fear the worst. “We’re gonna get you out of this, so
don’t worry. Just…Just hang in there, partner, okay?” She hated
the pun, but hoped he could draw some strength from the hint of humor.
He still didn’t respond, but the framework let out an even louder
protest as Dan Virgil appeared at the top of the access ladder.
“His foot’s tangled in the cable,” she announced, never taking her
eyes off the black length saving her partner’s life but feeling her
fear rack up another notch as it dropped from the bar a fraction.
“But he hasn’t got long.” Quickly, her gaze lifted to fix on the
“They’re getting the personnel lift in – it won’t reach high enough,
but they’ll have a much better chance of safely catching him when he
goes,” the security officer replied. He put a foot up on the rafter,
but when it shifted and let out a screech, he quickly reversed the
move and sighed when silence fell once more.
“What’s your name?” Scully ground out, trying to remain as composed
as possible but knowing she was failing miserably. “Why did you do
Laura shook her head and continued to babble nonsensically to herself
as she rocked back and forth.
“*Who are you*?”
Faint and barely there but there nevertheless; Scully’s head snapped
around at the sound of Mulder’s whimper of her name and she quickly
shifted to lean as far over the edge of the beam as possible.
“I’m here,” Dana gently assured, outstretching a hand to tenderly
brush against his shin – unaware that the movement would send yet
another surge of pain wracking through his leg and body. He
instantly hissed and shuddered in response, and she quickly pulled
the offending hand away. “Oh, Mulder…Why is it only you that can
get into these messes, and so frequently, too?”
This time his only reply was a low groan.
“Can you tell me where it hurts? Where did you get hit?”
“No, don’t close your eyes…You know the drill by now: you have to
“No!” She sat up, feeling even more helpless than she had before as
she looked out at the arena. He was going to fall and she couldn’t
stop it, just as she hadn’t been able to stop them from coming to the
game in the first place, or hadn’t been able to stop him from running
after the homicidal bitch that now cowered like a big baby in the
…And she had to stop thinking like this. Mulder was counting on
her to save him and arrest the perp. He was counting on her to remain
rational and take charge. Basically, he was counting on her, and
blame or negativity wouldn’t get them anywhere.
“Virgil, we’ve got the lift,” the security supervisor’s voice
suddenly came over the walkie-talkie. “We should be there in three
As if sensing its chance to take them all down with it was slipping
away, the rig creaked, groaned, shuddered, and then dropped several
inches. Another light exploded in a shower of sparks and Mulder’s
unconscious body swung limply back and forth like a pendulum – the
momentum causing the cable to tighten impossibly further around his
“Sir, we…we don’t have three minutes,” Virgil managed to rasp out
into the radio as he clung for dear life at the ladder.
The tears had been welling up, unshed in the face of professionalism,
but now there was no holding them back as Scully desperately reached
over to grab onto Mulder’s left foot with both hands and pulled as
hard as she possibly could. As expected, his weight was too much to
lift, but she wouldn’t give up – *couldn’t* give up…
“Help me…please…Please, God, no…” Her head lowered as the sobs
flooded from the depths of her being and trembling hands continued to
scrabble at his leg. “Please…”
Her last word was as quiet as possible, but Virgil had heard enough,
and decided there was only one chance left. As carefully as
possible, he clambered onto the beam too and smoothly moved up next
to the female agent, outstretching his own hands to tug at Mulder’s
Suddenly from the other side of the court, there was a motorized
sound, and both the security guard and Scully lifted their heads to
see the large vehicle with the powered platform on the back drive
into the stadium until it was just below them.
“Lock it down!” Wilkes’s voice could be heard commanding as his two
colleagues rushed to either side of the vehicle.
“See? It’s gonna be okay,” Virgil smiled at Scully, pretending to
ignore the increasing groan emanating from each end of the strut.
“He’ll be safely on the ground again in no time.” There was a
whirring noise from below, and when he looked again, the platform was
beginning its steady but slow climb upwards.
Very slow climb.
…Maybe too slow…
“It’s not gonna hold any longer!” he called out.
Wilkes shook his head with non-acceptance at the obvious. With the
platform half-way as high it could go, he refused to believe they
would lose this one now.
With a deafening crash, the rig dropped a further ten inches. Scully
grabbed for Mulder instead of the beam and almost threw herself off,
whilst Virgil reached in his pocket and withdrew a knife.
And all the while this was happening, the sniper responsible for
everything continued to cry to herself.
All three men on the platform raised their arms in the air as the
platform reached its peak.
“Cut it, Dan!” one of them called.
Virgil nodded and lowered his knife to the cable.
Dana heard the words and saw the action, but nothing registered until
Mulder’s body started free-falling again.
The awaiting guards were able to slow his descent, but the agent’s
weight slipped through their fingers and dropped onto the blue
platform with a muffled clang. The fact he was safe just a matter
of feet and not meters below, though, sent a wave of relief beyond
anything imaginable sweeping through Scully’s body…until the beam
“Jump!” Virgil ordered, grabbing Scully’s arm.
“What about her?” – pointing toward the huddled figure.
“I’ll get her – just go!”
Even more structural groaning, and she obeyed, easily dropping the
ten feet to crouch down beside Mulder’s motionless form without a
“Lady, this is gonna fall in a minute, so why don’t you just come
here?” the guard started, standing up and taking a step toward the
“I’m not going to jail!”
“No – you’re gonna end up dead if you stay up here, so…” Another
step, more weight placed where it wasn’t sturdy, and the rig had had
enough – without warning the whole thing broke away from its supports
and tumbled toward the floor. Virgil instinctively grabbed out for
the first thing he could, and the next thing he knew he was being
helped over the bar and onto the now-crowded platform.
But the last thing heard from Laura was an ear-piercing scream, cut
off by the almighty crash of metal smashing into the stadium floor.
It all became too overwhelming, and before she even had chance to
examine her partner’s injuries, Scully passed out.
3 DAYS LATER
Mulder leaned back on the couch, his left leg stretched out in front
of him and propped up on several pillows. It still throbbed
mercilessly and every four hours on the dot, Scully would arrive with
his painkillers and stand over him while he took them. Not that he
needed any encouragement – the pain was sufficient enough that he
didn’t feel in the least bit inclined to argue.
Not only had he suffered the bullet wound, but his knee and ankle had
also taken a battering when they had taken the full brunt of his
weight after he fell. Torn ligaments in both joints only added to his
woes…not to mention the bruised ribs and grazed shoulder courtesy
of his rescue drop.
For the last three days Scully hadn’t left his side. She hovered
protectively over him in the hospital, checking and double-checking
whenever a member of the medical staff came in to take his vitals or
administer medication. By the time he’d been released she had just
about pissed off every staff member she had come in contact with. In
fact, when Scully had wheeled him towards the exit earlier that day,
he could have sworn he’d heard a not-so-subtle cheer go up.
“Mulder, here.” Scully pulled him back from his reverie, thrusting
more pain meds and a glass of water towards him. “It’s time.”
He swallowed the pills, drank all of the water and shifted uneasily
on the couch. At the moment his leg wasn’t too bad, all things
considered, but every time he moved, or breathed deeply or god
forbid, coughed, his ribs screamed bloody murder at him.
“How are you feeling?” She sat on the arm of the couch, staring into
his eyes in a way that Mulder doubted very much meant that he was
going to get lucky that night. He saw concern, and in an odd sort of
way: fear, distance. ‘His’ Scully had almost completely disappeared
behind an aloof curtain of professionalism, and despite her constant
close proximity, Mulder felt as if she were miles away in every other
When he woke up in the hospital, he was sure he’d be in for an
earful. Usually she would kick his ass from here to kingdom come for
being so reckless; running off again and putting himself in danger.
But she hadn’t said a thing, just looked at him with something he
couldn’t quite wrap his mind around. She’d been walking on eggshells
now for three days, treating him like he might disintegrate into a
million pieces if she so much as looked at him sideways.
Scully continued to watch him, her face too pale and her eyes haunted
as if she were seeing something unbearable over and over in her
mind. She was really starting to scare him.
She stared right through him.
She snapped back to the present with a soft gasp, and an almost
imperceptible shake of her head.
Mulder reached out and took her hand and made space for her beside
him on the couch. “C’mere.” He pulled her gently down.
“No, Mulder, your injuries. . . ”
“I’m fine.” He offered what he hoped was a reassuring smile and,
mustering all his strength, stretched his arm out along the back of
the couch, inviting her in. She slipped into the warm cocoon of his
body, careful of his ribs and shoulder. Mulder refused to accept her
distance and scooped her closer, clenching his jaw against the pain
in his side.
Gently, he rubbed her arm, long soothing strokes from elbow to
shoulder until he felt her begin to relax under his touch.
“Scully, are you all right?” He felt her stiffen, and she snapped her
head around to look at him, her expression making him wonder if he’d
just sprouted another head.
“Why would you ask me that?” She frowned, her tone defensive.
“I don’t know, you just–…you haven’t been yourself. Scully, you’d
tell me if there was something wrong, wouldn’t you?”
“Something wrong.” She repeated under her breath. And then she puffed
a soft snort. “Something wrong.” Her gaze turned inward and she was
lost in space again.
“Scully?” She came back to herself almost immediately, turned back
to look at Mulder and seemed as if she was about to say something.
But instead, she covered her mouth with her hand and ran from the
A few seconds later Mulder heard the bathroom door close and the
sound of painful heaving coming from down the hall.
“Oh shit!” What the hell was going on with her? Mulder eased his
leg off the couch, his movements slow and awkward and riddled with
pain. He scooted forward and grabbed his crutches from the floor
beside the couch. Again those damn ribs begged him not to move but
this time he just ignored them.
“Don’t get off that couch, Mulder.” Scully was in the doorway, her
face pale and the hair around her face wet.
“Jeezus, Scully, what happened? Are you okay?”
“No. No, I’m not.” The words hung like ice in the room.
Slowly, Mulder sat back, keeping his leg straight out in front of him
and one arm wrapped around his middle. The pain in his side was like
a knife in his ribs.
“Are you going to tell me what’s wrong, Scully?” Despite the burning
in his side, he felt a cold shiver run down his spine, a heavy lump
in his stomach. She was frightening him. Had that damn cancer come
“What would be the point, Mulder?” She’d taken to pacing now. Her
arms wrapped tightly around her chest.
“Wha–…what do you mean?”
“Because we’ve had this conversation a thousand times before, and not
one of those times has it ever made any difference! Have you ever
taken any notice?” She stopped, sucked in her bottom lip and
chewed. In exasperation, she dropped her hands to her sides and
sighed. “Just what would be the point?” This was more to herself
rather than Mulder.
Suddenly, it was starting to dawn on him. This was the ass-kicking
he’d been waiting for. No problem, he knew he probably deserved it.
All he had to do was sit there and ride out the storm.
“Scully, I’m sorry. I know you were scared when I fell – shit, *I*
was scared! I–”
“No more, Mulder.” She looked at him with an expression that chilled
the blood in his veins.
“No more what?” he asked, not sure he wanted to hear the answer.
“I can’t take it any more. The other night, when you were
dangling…” She shook her head, her body trembling slightly.
“…bleeding, and the roof was falling and I had no idea…I didn’t…
I– ” She sucked back a sob, raising a trembling hand to her face to
cover her mouth. But another sob broke free, louder, filled with
hurt, confusion, and it was the worst sound Mulder had ever heard in
“Scully, come here.” He shuffled to the edge of the couch. Scully
didn’t move, she’d turned her back on him and he watched in horror as
her shoulders shook with all the pain and fear and stress of what
she’d been holding back since the other night.
“Scully, please.” His own voice was quaking. “Please, babe, come
She turned to face him, her bottom lip still trembling, her sobbing a
painful sound that caught in her throat and Mulder felt his world
start to crumble. God, what had he done to her?
He pushed himself up, every muscle in his body protesting, but none
of his injuries hurting as much as the ache in his chest. He took one
limping step towards her, his abused leg screaming at him to stop and
for a moment his vision grayed and his stomach rose and he had to
grab onto the wall for support.
“Mulder! What are you doing?” He felt Scully grab his arm and wrap
it over her shoulder, carefully guiding him back to the safety of the
couch. She eased him down, lifted his leg and propped it back on the
pillows. “What the hell do you think you’re doing?”
He couldn’t remember, his head was still woozy and he wasn’t too sure
about the stability of his stomach, either. If he could just rest and
get his breath, let his head clear.
“Mulder? Can you hear me?”
“I’m okay, I’m alright.”
Mulder felt the couch dip, and Scully’s warmth pressing against his
side. For once his ribs didn’t complain.
He looked up at Scully. “What…what did you mean…you can’t…take
She closed her eyes, effectively shutting him out again.
“Scully? What are you — ”
“I don’t *know*.” She shook her head. “I don’t know, Mulder. It’s
just…I can’t watch you die again. For all intents and purposes you
should be dead. You have no right to be here, laying on the couch,
talking to me.” Then, very quietly, “I thought I’d lost you.” Her
words were trembling and she shuddered against him.
“You’re going to leave me.” He knew it. Somehow, all along, he knew
it would happen.
But Scully stared at him wide-eyed with shock, her head shaking.
“No. No, never Mulder. God, why would you even think such a thing?”
“But…what else is there? You love your job, you can’t quit the
“I love *you*.”
It was Mulder’s turn to shudder. Memories of hurtling toward the
ground had snapped him out of sleep and kept him awake without fail
over the last few nights, and that was scary enough, but…What if it
had been Scully up there, dangling from the cable only seconds away
from death – her blood decorating the basketball court? How would he
be reacting right now? The words ‘strait’ and ‘jacket’ crossed his
He reached up and cupped her cheek. They hadn’t spoken of Laura or
passed comment when they’d seen the news reports on the television at
the hospital, but none of that mattered. What did, however, was that
he’d rushed off without her watching his back or a second thought and
put his life dangerously on the line yet again with almost fatal
consequences. He needed to apologise for putting her through that
helpless nightmare. “I’m sorry, Scully. I’m sorry for what you went
She took his hand and stilled the gentle caresses on her cheek. “I
know you are.”
After a few moments of silent contemplation, Mulder said, “What are
we going to do?”
Scully shrugged. “I don’t really think there’s an answer. I…I guess
I was…I’m…. I’m maybe…suffering some kind of delayed shock.”
She squeezed his hand. “I was so certain that I wouldn’t be able to
save you in time.”
“But you did, Scully.”
“Mmmm.” She smiled at him and after a few moments added. “You really
thought a basketball game was going to be the surprise of my life?”
“Hey, I dare you to tell me you weren’t surprised.” He teased,
relieved that Scully’s mood had lightened a little.
“Well, next time you want to surprise me, how about you make it
something a little more sedate.” She traced a lazy circle on the palm
of his hand. “Did I ever mention the Kirov Ballet are performing at
the Kennedy Center?”
“Ballet–” He was mid protest when he remembered her sobs, the look
of utter devastation on her face. With a brighter tone to his voice,
he said “The Ballet sounds like a great idea, Scully.”
“Don’t make promises you can’t keep – it’s not nice.”
“Seriously, if that’s what you want, then we’ll go.”
She frowned and pulled away fractionally. He actually sounded…
genuine? “Really? You – Fox William Mulder – would go to the ballet
with me?” She reached up and felt his forehead. “You don’t seem to
be running a fever…Are you sure?”
“Yeah. I’m sure.” And with that he pulled Scully down so she was
laying along the length of the couch, cradled in his arms, and
despite the throbbing in his ribs and leg, for just a moment, he
didn’t think life could get any better than this.
“Do they sell hot dogs at the Ballet?”