Virtual Season Two
  • Blood and Thoughtstalking
  • Psychodiagnostiks
  • 360 Maple Grove
  • Oestrus
  • Game Over
  • The Loyal Ones
  • Hypnagogia
  • Electioneering
  • Dreamscape
  • Callipso
  • Teporingo
  • The Jade Monkey Project
  • Bitter Revenge
  • Red Tide
  • Chi
  • Human Nature
  • Asthenopia
  • Ley of the Land
  • Everything To Live For
  • Warden
  • Grimm
  • A Piori

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    9:23 A.M.

     Scully stepped from the elevator into the bitter cold of the clammy, sordid basement of the J. Edgar Hoover Building. She turned the corner to face the office, expecting to see "Fox Mulder" and "Dana Scully" on black nameplates adorning a wide-open door, but instead stared straight at the white lettering of their names. She stopped for a moment, wondering what was different. Then it clicked, and she returned to her walk towards the door.

    She approached and turned the knob, but it wouldn't move. The door was locked. Was Mulder not there? It was already 9:25; she was late as it was. She removed the key from her briefcase and inserted it in the lock, twisting it to manipulate the bolt into an open position. When a draft of cool air smacked her in the face, she realized that no one had been in there for at least the weekend. It was Monday after all, so maybe Mulder had over slept.

    She crossed the room to the thermostat and cranked the heat. Mid-April days were too mild to tolerate the icy air the room circulated. She looked at the phone, expecting to see the red message light blinking, hopefully signaling an explanation from Mulder regarding his whereabouts, but the light was not on. Scully looked at the clock and envied Mulder. She wished she could be sleeping off their last case, considering the rough nature of it. When she realized they had a meeting at 10:30 with Skinner to go over their findings, she knew she had to call Mulder.

    She dialed his number, waiting through five rings and his recording before she began to leave a message. "Mulder, it's me. We have a--"

    He picked up and asked wearily, "Yeah?"

    "Mulder," she said snappishly.

    "Yeah…" he muttered with a yawn.

    "What are you doing? Did you sleep in?" Her tone was maternal.

    "Uh, yeah, I guess so." He was walking towards the door to get the paper from the hallway.

    "You know we have a meeting with Skinner at 10:30…"

    "Oh yeah," he closed his eyes. "I'll be there in 45 minutes."


    "I was starting to get worried," Scully said flatly.

    She looked at Mulder and realized she was worried. He had bags beneath his eyes from lack of sleep, his suit was rumpled, not like its usual crispy, pressed look. His eyes were red, blood-shot with stress and his walk was lazy, as if it took effort to move himself around.

    "Mulder, is something wrong?" Her flat tone turned maternal as she got up to go to his side. She placed a hand on his arm and led him to his chair. "Sit down."

    Scully felt his forehead to see if he had a temperature, which indeed he did. "Mulder, you're sick. What are you doing at work?"

    "You called me," he reminded her.

    "You could have told me. I would have covered for you." She sat on the desk in front of him. If he weren't so tired he would have waved her away. Undeterred, she continued.

    "Mulder, you need to be home resting. Do you know what's wrong?"

    It took him a moment, but he adjusted himself in his chair, closed his eyes, and spoke. "No."

    "Did you eat something bad?" Scully inquired.

    "Yeah, sushi."

    "OK. Did it taste funny?"


    She smiled disapprovingly, then looked into his eyes to further examine them. "You need sleep."

    Mulder remained silent.

    "I'm going to call Skinner and tell him we won't be at that meeting. We'll just have to go some other day."

    "We?" Mulder looked at her. "You can still go."

    "Don't even try to pass this meeting on to me," she replied. "You're in no condition to drive. I wouldn't be surprised if you fell asleep at the wheel. Plus I've got to find something for you to take."

    Scully turned around to dial Skinner's secretary. The phone was answered on the first ring, and Scully had no doubt the lonely redhead behind that desk prided herself on the time it took to answer a call. "Hi, this is Agent Scully. I need to speak with Assistant Director Skinner." She hated being so formal with the woman. There was no need for her to call him the Assistant Director; the secretary knew what he was.

    "One minute, please," she said with her soft voice, putting Scully on hold.

    A moment or so later Skinner picked up the phone, "Yes, Agent Scully?" He sounded annoyed.

    "Sir, hi. Agent Mulder's sick. He came into work and he shouldn't be walking around. I need to take him home." She hoped she sounded genuine. When you are constantly forced to make up excuses, it becomes hard to know that you're really speaking the truth, she thought.

    "Are you asking to reschedule the meeting?" he queried, almost thankfully. He wasn't in the mood to deal with Mulder.


    "All right," he agreed. Scully let out a deep breath of thanks. "Contact me when he's well again."

    With that they both hung up. "Come on," Scully demanded with a hint of concern in her voice.

    Mulder broke out in a cold sweat as he tried to push himself up out of his chair. Seeing this, Scully rushed to his side, helping him stabilize himself. "Jesus," she muttered, placing the back of her hand on his forehead. He looked as if he were going to hurl his stomach at any second. "Come on, Mulder. We gotta get you home."

    Mulder didn't protest. Instead, he let her aid him through the door and to the elevator. When they reached the car, Scully guided Mulder in on his side, rapidly got in on her side, and sped the entire way to Mulder's apartment.

    10:14 AM

    Scully fumbled for her keys to find the one with 'Mulder' written on it. She found them within seconds and shoved it in the lock to open his door. "It's OK, Mulder." His face was becoming gradually paler, almost as white as hotel bed sheets. "We're home now…come on," she urged him tenderly

    He made his way to his couch, "No. Come on, Mulder. You can make it to your bedroom."

    One hand reached around his back, the other lying on his chest, keeping him steady. When he reached his bedside, he flopped down on it- carefully, not carelessly- as if he would break when he hit the soft mattress. Scully left the room quickly, but returned with a cool rag to lay on his forehead. "Let me help you get that off," Scully offered, helping him sit up so she could take his suit jacket and tie off. "Feel a little better?"

    Mulder managed a nod. She took his shoes off and laid them at the side of his bed and unbuttoned his dress shirt so that only his undershirt remained to cover his chest. She noticed his skin was red, as if he'd been scratching or had a large rug burn. She looked at his face, expecting to see anguish as she touched the red area, feeling the heat it emanated. "Does that hurt?" He shook his head no. "Why is your skin red? Did you do something?"

    "No," he rasped. "It itches."

    He writhed beneath her fingers, trying to resist the urge to scratch. His face tightened at his resistance, but loosened again as he heard Scully's soothing voice say, "Ssh, relax. It'll pass."

    Scully's medical mind raced through all the possibilities of Mulder's mystery ailment. It didn't seem life threatening; he would be fine as soon as he got some kind of treatment. But what was she supposed to be treating? She racked her brain, thinking of conditions they'd been in that could attribute to his burst of polar perspiration. Their last case was in Nevada, where the temperature resided at a scorching 3 degrees above 100. The heat caused tension that compounded the stress of the already complicated case. These things could ascribe to minor mental breakdown, but that wasn't a physical ailment. Thousands of scientific diseases and illnesses raced through her mind as if her eyes were scanning a list of a million words, but finally it landed on Prickly Heat.

    Mulder's body had calmed down, his deluge of perspiration slowing. His eyes were settled closed, the heavy black lashes resting on his upper cheeks, and he was about to doze off to sleep. She decided not to stir him, as he'd be fine until he woke up. She didn't need to do anything if he was going to fall asleep. She left his room to retrieve another wash cloth to apply to the red areas.

    She walked into the kitchen, pulling a large plastic bowl from a cupboard. Once she had filled the dish halfway with ice cubes, she added cold water. She dipped her finger into it and quickly withdrew her hand when the coldness pinched her. She piled up all of the washcloths Mulder had, soaking only one. She squeezed the dripping water into the bowl and made her way back to her partner. She hated to disturb him with the frigid rag, but if he was going to sleep, he had to try to heal during the process.

    Mulder felt Scully's soft, little fingers tugging lightly at his shoulder. He complied with them and turned more towards her, only to feel the chill of a freezing rag. His eyes shot open. "It's OK," she consoled. "I know it's uncomfortable, but I have to, otherwise you're gonna be itching in your sleep."

    He let out a deep sigh and adjusted to the temperature. "Now rest." She gave a comforting smile, brushing away his sweaty hair that was plastered to his forehead. His eyes fluttered shut and she remained completely still for just one more second. When she felt it was OK to move, she crossed the bed to the other side and sat up next to Mulder. She noticed a book on his bedside and began reading it while she waited for him to wake up.

    She became so engrossed in the story's plot that she lost track of time. When she heard thunder cackling at her in the distance she suddenly became aware of reality. Glancing over Mulder's frighteningly still body, she read the red digital numbers on his Radio Shack clock. It was already 2:17. He needed to get up.

    Before waking him, Scully looked at him. He lay on his side, facing her, in a peaceful, sweat-less slumber. She hated the thought of having to rouse him. "Mulder?" she whispered calmly, uncrossing her outstretched legs. "Mulder? You need to get up and take a bath."

    "Mmm?" he mumbled. "What?"

    "Come on." She rose slowly. "You've got what's called Prickly Heat."

    "What?" Mulder was only slightly taken aback by the name his affliction possessed.

    "Prickly Heat. It's a skin disorder that can be caused by high levels of stress, heat, and humidity. All of which would make sense, considering our last case," she explained. "I need you to soak in a cool bath. It should help to lessen the itching."

    Mulder rolled over on his back and rubbed his temples with his thumb and pointer fingers.

    "Try to wake yourself up while I run your water," she stated, receiving a nod in return. She helped Mulder remove his pants and tossed them aside before retreating to the bathroom.

    She remembered very few things about Prickly Heat from medical school, but a few came to mind. She knew that he should get plenty of cool showers or baths, expose the affected area to the air as much as possible, and to stay inside during hot and humid weather. She knew she needed to get him some kind of lubricant. Some type of steroid cream would do, prescription or not. It didn't matter; Scully just needed to find it.

    Scully waved her hand underneath the faucet in Mulder's tub, feeling that the water was cool enough. She called for him. "Mulder?" She waited. "Mulder? Can you get up?"

    She turned off the running water, wiped her hands carelessly on her black pants, and then came to Mulder's service as he tried to pull himself away from the comforts of the toasty sheets. "Come on, Mulder. Let's get you in the bathtub. Hopefully you'll feel a little better, or at least make the itching go away."

    He didn't resist her touch on his sleek, sweaty skin, though he almost wanted to keep away to avoid causing her any discomfort. Scully basically dragged him into his bathroom, the sweat and heat sweeping over him a cloud of fatigue. Scully turned her back to award Mulder some privacy as she directed him to remove his clothes and get into the bathtub. She'd cleverly added bubbles to hide things he might be embarrassed about revealing to her in such a manner. "Mulder, don't worry. I'm just trying to help you." She tried to ease the insecurity that emerged with his transudation. Then she gave him a humorous smile that he could respond to. "Not like I haven't seen it all before."

    She let out a laugh-like breath to which his eyes beamed. "Same with you, Scully."

    Her face was washed with a deep red hue. He wanted to laugh, but his weakening body didn't seem to be willing to comply. Scully grabbed a cloth from the pile of rags she'd built up, and soaked it before squeezing it over his back. His hairs were raising beneath goose flesh; he was too cold. "I'm sorry, Mulder. I know this is cold."

    She rolled the sleeves of her blouse up and placed both hands over the rag and squeezed hard, then dipping it back in the water. "You need to expose any affected areas of skin to clean air…" Scully began to ramble. "And cottons socks, and leather soled shoes…"

    Mulder didn't seem to be paying attention, so she stopped. "You've got those things, right?" Of course he did, but she felt as though she'd been talking to a brick wall the whole day. Not that I can expect much out of a sickly man, but I'd still appreciate his attention.

    "Yeah," he muttered, reaching a hand to scratch his shoulder.

    Scully stopped just short of slapping it away. "You can't scratch. Didn't your mother teach you scratching never makes anything better?"

    Mulder smiled at her tired sense of humor, to which she had to grin in reply. Once Scully had washed him down, she brought in a large towel and covered him with it while draining the water. Mulder stood in his room coldly for a moment while Scully searched his drawers for a tank top and boxers- what he wore most often to sleep. Mulder managed to change on his own while Scully cleaned up the kitchen and prepared to make a trip to the drugstore.

    Scully walked back into his room a few moments later, just as he was finishing putting on his white undershirt. She was situating her black trench coat over her black jacket as she told Mulder, "I'm going to go to the drugstore to find you some cream for that." Mulder could tell she wasn't finished, so he stood and waited. "Do you want me to get you anything? Food? Movie?"

    "Nah." He shook his head. "Thanks."

    She turned to leave, but not before asking, "Will you be OK by yourself?"

    "I think I'll manage," he smiled politely. He appreciated her care, and there was no doubt he needed it, but he felt like he was asking her for too much, without having asked at all. He began his climb into bed as Scully turned and exited his apartment, carefully securing the locks.

    When she returned 30 minutes later, she found that Mulder had again dozed off. She hated to stir him, but knew that she had to apply the cream to his body. "Mulder?" She bumped his back lightly, hoping she didn't jar anything that would cause itching. "Mulder? It's me. I bought some steroid cream. This should help a lot with the itching." After a second she demanded, "Sit up, let me put this on you."

    He did as he was told. Scully spread some of the lotion on her fingers, then pressed her fingers firmly against Mulder's shoulders, kneading and squeezing the lotion into his pores. Mulder's tensed muscles relaxed beneath the tight but careful pinching of Scully's fingers. Scully moved her hands down his chest after applying more cream to her hands. When she was finished, she asked, "That better?"

    "Much," he sighed. "Thanks."

    "How are you feeling? Do you think you could eat something?" she asked.

    "Yeah, I think so."

    "What would you like? Do you have anything?" she joked, but he didn't laugh.

    "I have bread, cheese, and milk. Maybe some orange juice." He smiled finally.

    "If I weren't busy taking care of you I might go get you some groceries," she turned her back on him and made her way into the empty kitchen. "Mulder?" she called as she looked for a pan to cook grilled cheese in. "Mulder?" she repeated to find him having padded out and was in the process of sitting in a chair. "You've really got to work on the homeliness of this place."

    He nodded, taking a popular newsmagazine off another chair and began reading it absentmindedly. Scully faced him as she rolled up her sleeves, seeing a completely appalled expression spread across Mulder's face.

    "What is it?" she asked.

    "I can't believe this," he muttered, staring at the words on the page.

    "What?" she walked over to look at the magazine over his shoulder.

    "Bill Clinton is having another affair with that Monica Lewinsky," he said straight-faced. "The least he can do is learn from last time."

    Scully refused to believe it, knowing Mulder was too ill to consider other possibilities. She nonchalantly flipped the magazine closed so that he looked at the cover, pointing her finger quickly to the date, then walking away. "March 1998," he mumbled to himself, then added a little chuckle to it. "Just yankin' your chain, Scully."

    She turned her head over her shoulders and gave a wry smile in his direction, then shook her head lightly. She dropped a piece of bread into the sizzling pan and then placed two slices of cheese on top of that before finishing it off with another piece of bread. Within moments the sandwich was rightfully toasted. "How's that?" She held it up, watching the cheese melt so much that it almost dripped from the sandwich.

    "Yummy." Mulder licked his lips. "A home cooked meal."

    Scully turned the water on in the kitchen sink, flipping the handle to the hot side and swooping her hand underneath it to feel the water heat up and redden her fair skin. When it became hot enough, she plugged the drain, poured some soap in, and let it fill up so she could drop the used dishes in. Mulder had to part his floppy, thin lips to shine off his teeth as he watched Scully doing the dishes in his kitchen. "What are you smiling at?" she snapped. "If you weren't sick I wouldn't be doing this. Don't get used to it."

    "I dunno," Mulder muttered, shaking his head. "I could."

    Scully picked her head up slightly and pondered his comment while soaking her chilly hands in the warm, bubbly water. "Eat. Then you need to get into bed," she commanded.

    "Yes, mother." He slowed down his eating.

    Scully put the dishes on the counter to dry and then pulled her sleeves back down, taking a seat across from Mulder. "How is it?" Scully stared at the sandwich as he took a bite out of it.

    "Pretty decent." He examined the bite he took.

    "If you had any food in this house, you might have been able to enjoy lunch," she told him, looking at the clock and realizing he was having more of a dinner than lunch. It was already 4:56. She was surprised how fast the time was going by; she certainly wasn't having too much fun. She did have to admit, though, that she had a wild sense of compassion flowing through her veins. Deep down she felt like she wanted to be there, cleaning Mulder's kitchen, criticizing him on the lack of nutrition in his cabinets, and caring for him as his health dwindled away. She shook her head and snapped out of her delusion.

    "Something wrong, Scully?" he asked as he finished off another bite.

    "No, no. I'm just a little tired." She half-smiled.

    "Why don't you take a rest, too? You've been working hard all day helping me. You deserve a break."

    "I don't need to sleep right now. You need to sleep. So finish that up and we'll get you back in bed." She rubbed her forehead with the palm of her hand, spreading her middle finger to one temple and her thumb to the other.

    "Jesus, Scully, you're worse than my mom." He snickered. "I feel fine."

    "Yeah, now. You won't if you keep moving around and get your skin agitated," she stated roughly.

    Mulder was down to his last bite. Once he was finished, Scully immediately stole the plate from beneath him, noting that it was covered in flecks of toasted bread. She tossed it into the sink to soak and then asked Mulder to follow her to the bedroom. He slumped onto the bed, having felt physically better. "Let me put some more of this cream on your face, and then you should try to sleep."

    "Why can't I do it?" he asked, trying to ease her responsibility.

    "Because if it's on your hands we don't want to spread it to your face. I don't think you can spread it by touch, but just to be safe…" She applied the cold cream to his ashen cheeks. She rubbed it into his temples, forehead, and finally over his nose and chin. "There. Now, please, try to get some sleep."

    She peeled the covers away and he nestled into them, digging the back of his head into the plush pillow beneath his slightly damp hair. "Sleep," she directed, pulling the covers back over him, tucking them beneath his unshaven chin. "I'll be right out here."

    Mulder let his eyes drip closed and laid there, trying to fall asleep for Scully's sake. Before she could leave the room, she heard him call, "Scully?" She spun around in the doorway to face him. "You need rest too."

    "I'll be fine, Mulder. You're the one who's sick," she rationalized.

    "You need to sleep." He was serious, no doubt about it.

    Scully sighed. She did need some rest. Her only problem with that was that she didn't want to appear vulnerable when she was supposed to be caring for Mulder. She wanted to be the strong one, not turn it all around so that it was about her. But Mulder seemed to be fine at the moment, so she figured she could catch a few winks. "Fine," she caved in. "If you need me, just call. I'll be on the couch."

    "No," he said. "You don't have to."

    This indicated that she could sleep next to him. The down comforter and the taut mattress did seem awfully inviting to her, so she dropped her crossed arms and made her way to the bed. She crawled underneath the covers, leaving a fair amount of distance between her and Mulder, just in case he started to heat up again. "OK, now go to sleep," Scully instructed him.

    His back was to her and she remained awake until his labored breathing calmed to a steady intake of necessary air. When he was settled, she closed her eyes, taking only minutes to drift off into the world of her mind. It was a night that remained dreamless, leaving her to sleep lightly and stir throughout the night.

    It was later than Scully expected to sleep when she woke up. She slowly came out of her sleep when she rubbed against Mulder's instantly soggy skin. She propped herself up so she could adjust her eyes to the lighting that was absent in the room. Scully reached out her hand and touched his shoulder and realized that he was sweating even more profusely than before. His shirt was nearly matted to his body with the expelled bodily wastes that dripped from his pores, and his hair stuck to his neck. Steroid cream wasn't going to help anything this time.

    "Mulder?" she nudged at his side. "Hey, Mulder, you gotta get up."

    "Hmmm??" he moaned. His voice was hoarse with deep sleep and sickness.

    "Come on, I'm taking you to the hospital." Scully tossed the covers from her clothed body, threw her feet to the ground and stood up.

    "Wha--? Why?" He quickly became a part of the waking world.

    "Sweat is pouring off of you like a faucet, Mulder," she informed him.

    Mulder gripped his shirt and pulled it away from his chest, then let it sag back into a wrinkled place almost identical to its previous locale. He ran his hand over his forehead, wiping sweat away, that was only to be replaced by more.

    "This isn't healthy. We need to get you some treatment," Scully said, already knowing his weight was decreasing.

    "Scully, you're treating me."

    "That's not enough." She felt almost guilty, like what she could do wasn't good enough, as if she couldn't help him.

    "Sure it is," he contradicted.

    "Listen to me." She became stern as she buttoned her coat and retrieved a T-shirt and pair of jeans for Mulder. "I can't provide you with the treatment you need. If you sweat out all of these bodily wastes and don't eat, you're going to waste away. You're not going to get well if I don't take you to a hospital. This won't just run its course. It's got to be treated first."

    Mulder sighed deeply, but agreed after he tried moving and found himself glued down to the bed in his body juices. Scully could barely hear him say, "Fine," as he took the clothes from her and went into the bathroom to change. After putting shoes on his hot feet, Scully handed him a wet cloth and they were off to the Urgent Care Center.


    When Scully walked Mulder inside, she could tell he enjoyed the burst of cool air, though it was terribly nippy outside. Scully was surprised that there weren't attempted murder victims being worked on in front of their eyes or a demon child with red eyes peering straight at them. Instead of the scene they were used to, they could see nothing but the nurse typing away at her computer at her station.

    "Can I help you?" Nurse Rime looked up at them, a sudden look of concern crossing her face as she saw Mulder

    "Yes. He needs immediate care." Scully indicated Mulder.

    "Looks serious. Let me get Dr. Lincoln." The short, pudgy nurse quickly got up to find the doctor.

    "At least it's not busy," Mulder mumbled.

    "Mulder, you know you're going to be admitted. I hope you realize that. This isn't the common cold; we can't let this go on untreated."

    Mulder was acting like a child forced to go to a dreaded family Christmas dinner. A man in a white doctor's coat, whom Mulder and Scully both assumed astutely was the doctor, came out with the nurse from an office.

    "Hello." He extended his arm for either agent to shake politely. "I'm Marc Lincoln. What do we have here?"

    "I believe he's got Prickly Heat," Scully began, looking back at Mulder for a second, reading his face and looking for more symptoms. When she turned back to see the doctor's shocked expression, she responded, "I'm a doctor…out of practice. Anyway, he came into work this morning all sweaty and pale, so I brought him back home. Due to his symptoms I concluded that he had Prickly Heat. He was sweating profusely, and after I thought about it I realized that Prickly Heat can be induced by stress and hot weather. We'd just returned from a case in Nevada, so that attributed to my conclusions."

    The doctor was surprised by her scientific basis of things, namely how she had reasoned everything out to narrow the numerous illnesses down to one in specific. "This all started this morning?"

    "Yes," Scully replied. "Like I said, I took him home when I realized he was sick. We applied cold compresses and I bought some steroid cream, which seemed to help. Then I woke up and he was basically bathing in his own sweat."

    "Mm hmm." The doctor took note and then said, "All right Mr…" he trailed off, waiting for a name.

    "Fox Mulder."

    "This must be your wife?" The doctor went to shake Scully's hand again.

    "No, partner. Dana Scully."

    "Oh." The man was a bit surprised to hear this after having learned of Scully waking up and find him bathing in his own juices and so forth. Scully was too exhausted to explain it to him further, so she let the doctor continue. "Well, I think the best thing to do here is to get you admitted."

    Mulder sighed and allowed himself to be wheeled away to a room without Scully. He looked at her as if he were asking why she wasn't following, so she told him, "I'll get things taken care of down here, and then I'll come find you."

    This reassured Mulder. He was such a tough man, but when it came to his health, he was like a carefree child climbing the most dangerous tree in the forest. He wanted independence to do so, but then when he was hurt, he wanted his mother there to kiss his boo-boos so he could go out and give it another shot. Mulder was undoubtedly this child, and Scully had both willingly and unwillingly settled into the role of mother.

    Scully sat down with the nurse to give her all of Mulder's personal information for billing and admittance. Once she was finished she found out Mulder's room number and took the elevator up to the 2nd floor. She found the doctor closing the door and reading Mulder's thin chart. When the doctor saw her, he closed it and walked towards her to give her the information

    "We've got him under close observation, but other than that there's really nothing else we can do."

    Scully nodded, knowing that he was better off under their supervision. "I'm going to tell him I'm leaving," she told the gray-haired doctor, walking away down the hall.

    Scully found his room and slowly pushed it open, in case he'd managed to fall asleep. She was surprised to find him lying awake, looking out the window. Mulder's head turned when he heard her shuffling through the door. "How are you feeling?"

    "Fine," he responded.

    Scully nodded. "I'm going home. Is there anything you need me to get you?"

    "Nah," he said. "I'll be fine."

    Scully's nod was almost sarcastic. She knew he needed groceries desperately, but she wasn't about to drive around and find one open 24 hours and go shopping for him. She would have to demand he go buy some when he got better. "I'll come back tomorrow to see how you're doing."

    He nodded. "See ya."

    She walked out the door into the hallway, wanting to slump down in one of the chairs beside the door, just for a second to rest her knees, but she knew she couldn't without falling asleep. She found her way to the car before collapsing, and sunk into the seat. She remained still for a moment before starting the car and driving away.

    She arrived home near 4:15 AM, gratefully dropping into her bed without bothering to change or do any of the necessities everyone does before turning in.


    "Ah!" Mulder jolted out of a light sleep, startled by a dream he couldn't recollect. When he heard screams in the distance, he realized that what he was hearing might not have been a dream. He became more alert and the screams seemed thicker and more defined. Still no one was attending to them. He turned over, trying to fall back asleep while letting someone take care of the screaming child. But the crying and screaming never stopped; it only became more urgent and closed in.

    Annoyed with his lack of sleep, Mulder threw the covers off his hot body and swung his feet around to touch the cold tile floor. He started to stand up and realized that his body was weaker than he thought. He thought of Scully and how she'd be telling him, "It's not your job to check on those children. You're off duty and you're sick." Her voice was so vividly clear in his mind that it was almost as if she was standing there outstretching her arms to block him from leaving the room, pushing him back down on the bed. With her image so clear, Mulder got up and defied it.

    He peered into the hallway to find that the nurse wasn't anywhere in sight, yet there was still a child screaming bloody murder down the hall. He did his best to get to trek to a door that was slightly cracked, spying the small, faint, dim light from a kid's night-light spilling from the slight opening. Just before the door he felt a flush wash over him, and his face turned bright red. It was mostly due to the amount of effort and stress he was putting on his body while trying to find the wailing youth. He felt his forehead, knowing he had a fever. Her voice is my conscience, he told himself.

    Mulder pushed the door open, noting that he was suddenly in the pediatrics ward. He continued forth, guided by the light of a few shaped night-lights. He detected the room where the clamor was coming from, approached the door, and tapped it open quietly in the event that the tot squealing was simply having a nightmare. He then looked inside to find someone kicking and shrieking behind something transparent. This being that was accosting this child was clearly not human. Its body looked almost like the glass of a wine bottle; the child behind it was somewhat distorted when seen through the body of this thing. Whatever it was, it wasn't man.

    Mulder's body became weaker, his joints failing him as he watched the horror that was taking place. The only energy he had was the adrenaline that pushed him down the hallway, and it was now leaving him when he needed it the most. The demonic being grabbed the sobbing child in his arms, flung him over his shoulder, and ran towards Mulder. It seemed to sense Mulder's loss of energy and knocked him to the floor, leaving him to breathlessly watch the thing escape down a set of stairs with a child's screams muffled by a gag.

    When it was out of sight Mulder pressed against his stomach where he'd been hit, feeling like he'd been kneed and winded by a force of steel. Mulder's body was giving in, giving up the fight to stay awake. He slumped to a relaxed position on the chilly floor of the sickly hospital and drifted away into unconsciousness.

    5:12 A.M.

    The night nurse walked by with a pair of headphones blasting in her ears. Her eyes were closed as her mouth moved to the words, emitting no sound. She headed down the hall to check the kids in pediatrics before she prepared things for the next nurse's shift. Her head was hung down, swinging slightly to the rhythm of the music. She barged sightlessly through the doors, throwing her head back as she walked through the silent hallways. She stopped the music when she prepared to go into a room. Once the sound had ceased, she could hear Mulder groaning into consciousness. She proceeded down the hallway to investigate.

    "Mr. Mulder?" she asked, bewildered. He winced at the throbbing pain in his stomach and at the sweat his body was generating. "Oh my God, Agent Mulder. What are you doing here?" She knelt down beside him.

    "Something…" he gasped. "Something took that kid…" He pointed towards the empty bed and rumpled sheets.

    "Who took him?"

    "A thing…" His voice was barely loud enough to be heard, so she leaned in further. "Get help!" He gave up trying to explain to the oblivious woman.

    She jumped up immediately, called the police, and then paged the doctor that was on shift. Nurse Rime told the police all she could, knowing they'd be down there in a flash when they heard a child was missing at the hands of something unknown. Before Mulder knew it, paramedics and police officers were swarming over him and the room.

    He gripped his head and grumbled at the sudden headache he'd developed. He opened his fuzzy eyes to watch the officers part, and by chance saw Scully stepping off the elevator, looking quite grumpy as she peeked around, obviously trying to find him. Stopped by someone who frantically searched for something, she grew angrier. Mulder could hear her demand, "What the hell is going on here?"

    She crossed the hall when no one answered to his room. He could barely see her through all of the people and wasn't up to calling for her. "Where is the man that was in this room? Fox Mulder?"

    No one would answer, and she was getting more upset than she was when she stepped onto the floor. When she saw his leg through a gap in the crowd, she sped up her pace to almost a jog. Her hair flew to the sides as she knelt down next to him, saying softly, "Mulder, what happened?"

    She took his arm in her hand and started to help him up, brushing the paramedics aside. She led him down the hallway back to his room. "I dunno…" he mumbled. "Something took this kid. I heard him screaming and he woke me up. I made my way down the hall and this thing was taking off with the kid. It knocked me down."

    "You mean someone," she corrected.

    "No, I mean something, Scully. It was transparent. I could see right through it."

    "Mulder, you're sick." She rested her hand on his forehead. "And you're running a fever. It was no doubt a figment of your imagination."

    "Scully, that's a nice way of saying I'm delusional." He sat up straight. "I know what I saw."

    "You saw nothing. You must have mistaken some man for something else."

    "I saw it up close! There was no mistaking it! It jabbed me in the stomach."

    Scully sighed and rubbed her forehead. "You've had a long 24 hours. Why don't you just lie back down and try to sleep for a couple of hours?"

    "No, Scully." He laughed partially that she was so audacious as to assume he'd just sleep this away. "I'm not going to sleep."

    Scully heaved another heavy sigh. There was no getting through to this man. "I'm sorry, but I'm not going to accept that some crystal-clear monster came and took a boy away…"

    "Why not?"

    "Because!" she exclaimed as her hands flew from her hips. "It's not plausible, Mulder!" She calmed herself down, feeling a bit guilty. "Someone took that little boy, but it was no monster. You're sick, you have a fever, and you're hallucinating. It's OK, it's not your fault…"

    "When someone's insane it's not their fault either," he reminded her.

    "I didn't say you were insane." He cocked his head and let her continue. "Things like this happen. It's OK, no one's out to blame you. We just need to find this person before something goes wrong."

    "I want to help."

    "No." Scully's voice was haggardly stern. Then it became more of a whine. "No."

    "I want to know what that thing is!" he hollered.

    Scully became so frustrated that she had to hold back from lashing out at him. His health always came second in his life; it never seemed to matter, but to her that's all that mattered. They were quite a pair. "We will! Just without you!"

    "I'm assisting with this case, whether you agree to it or not," he insisted. Finally she dropped her arms by her sides and drooped her shoulders, giving up.

    "I give up, Mulder." She turned and walked away. She stopped mid-stride, telling him, "I'm calling Skinner, and telling him where you are. Then I'm going home, and when I go home I'm going to soak in a nice long bubble bath that smells like vanilla, and then I'm gonna get out and sleep. Uninterrupted. So don't go causing any trouble."

    Mulder found the pair of clothes he came into the hospital with and quickly threw them on. They had the faint scent of his sweat, and he was surprised he wasn't reeking. As he began to walk out the door of his room, he realized that he couldn't go and request to be a part of the investigation looking like a patient. He needed his clothes, but there was no way for him to get them, unless Scully brought them.

    He fumbled around his pants pockets, searching for his cell phone, and finding that it wasn't there. "Great," he mumbled to himself. Mulder raised his head and quickly hunted down the phone in his room. A silent "ah" was extinguished by the thoughts in his mind.

    Mulder wasn't thinking of Scully's earlier monologue about an uninterrupted sleep when he dialed her number. She didn't pick up after 4 rings, so he hung up, and dialed her cell phone number. Maybe he'd get lucky and find her in the car, awake.

    Scully knew who it was the moment she heard the ringing. "Yeah?"

    "Scully, it's me," he said.

    "I know. What is it?" she breathed.

    "I need you to either come get me and take me home, or bring me some clothes."

    "What? Mulder, don't you ever give up?"

    "You know me, Scully." He smiled.

    "All right, fine," she agreed, slamming the 'end' button on her cell phone and tossing it back in the seat next to her. She turned the car around at her next opportunity and headed to Mulder's apartment.

    Scully arrived at the hospital at 7:14 with a bag full of Mulder's things. She approached him with pursed lips and a pout, handing him the thick bag. "Thanks." He shot her a grin, and then went into the bathroom to change. As he was changing, he called to her, "You hangin' around for a while, Scully? Or are you still planning to take that nap of yours?"

    He walked out before she answered, primped and ready in a pair of dress slacks, white shirt and the best tie Scully could find to match. Mulder pulled his trench coat from the bag, held it up, gave a cocky smirk, and said, "Thanks." He was even more delighted when he pulled out his gun and cell phone. "You really do know me, Scully."

    They walked over to pediatrics, flashing their badges to the uniformed cops who were jotting things down in their notebooks. The hallway was painted with solid blues, red, and yellows. Toys were in little play areas all throughout the hallway, and the names of those residing in the rooms were nailed on the wall with decorated letters.

    Mulder had overheard that the missing little boy's name was Alexander, and there was only one door with that name written on it. Mulder and Scully pushed through the door to his room to talk to the other children inside, whose names, judging by the door, were Tyler and Cole.

    No one else was with them, though Mulder and Scully both knew that they should have been talked to. "Hi," Scully said, sitting on a bed. "Are you Cole?"

    She knew the answer, but she had to come off friendly instead of intimidating him. "Yes," replied the boy, who was no more than 4 years.

    Mulder walked over to Tyler to speak with him while Scully worked as much information out of Cole as possible. Cole's bed was the closest to Alexander's. "My name is Dana. I'm with the FBI. My partner and I are here to find out what happened to Alexander."

    Cole looked over at the empty bed with tussled sheets. "Is he coming back?"

    "We hope so. We're trying to find out where he is so we can help him," she explained. "Did you see anything last night?"

    The tiny, blonde, bowl-cut boy with large, round blue eyes stared up at her with fear. "No," he said.

    Scully scolded herself for disbelieving a child so young, but the fear in his shining, Pacific Ocean-blue eyes told her that he wasn't telling her something. "You're sure?"

    Cole nodded all too quickly, but she couldn't drag anything out of him. "If you remember anything, tell the nurses to call me. My name is Dana Scully. Can you remember that?"

    This time his nod was soft and agreeable, which made her smile at his tiny closed-mouth grin. Mulder was still talking to Tyler, so Scully continued with Cole. "Was Alexander your friend?"

    "Yes," he said politely.

    "Do you know why he was in the hospital?"

    Cole nodded. "Something was wrong with his liver."

    Scully suddenly realized that his parents weren't at the scene. Their ill son was missing and they weren't at the hospital harassing cops and anyone they could find for news about their child's whereabouts. She glanced over at Mulder who was beginning to look a little pale and faint again. As soon as this session was over, she was going to have to beg him to relax. "What about his mommy and daddy? Do you know them?"

    "No, but I've seen them once."


    "When they brought him to the doctor. I've been here longer than he has, so I saw them when they came in. They looked mean and dirty," he said. Children were the best judges of character sometimes. "They didn't even kiss him bye."

    Scully put on a frown for a moment and then asked, "Why are you in the hospital?"

    "Our house caught on fire," he stated sadly.

    Scully looked at him but couldn't tell he'd been in a fire. Her voice was sympathetic, as she told him, "You don't look hurt. Why have you been in the hospital so long?"

    "I got out, but I broke my leg." He removed his covers to show her his green cast. "Wanna sign it? No one's signed it yet."

    "Sure." Scully smiled. She saw a permanent marker on the bedside table, begging for someone to pick it up and use it to sign his cast.

    "Thanks!" He smiled excitedly and watched her sign her name on his right leg.

    Mulder seemed to be finishing up with Tyler, so she prepared herself to leave. "I think my partner's almost done, so remember, if you can think of anything that happened last night, tell one of the nurses or doctors to call me, OK?"

    He nodded and she scooted off the bed to wait for him, reading Cole's chart while he slumped deep in the pillows. She looked at his injuries and his medical records for the past 2 days. He'd had a fever varying between 101 and 103, indicating he had the flu or some other common illness along with a broken leg. But when she read further, she knew that was not why the hospital was keeping him there. His parents had died in the blaze, along with his 6-year-old sister. Did he know this? She somehow felt like he didn't.

    Scully reached over to the other bed and took Alexander's chart quickly, reading his condition. His livers were failing him, probably due to an overdose of drugs. That stopped her reading. Why would a kid so young O.D. on drugs?. She continued on. He'd had a fever of 100.8 and had been vomiting periodically throughout the day. She began to think again. What kind of hospital would allow an already admitted kid to go home in this condition?

    Before she could complete her thoughts, Mulder got up off of the boy's bed and came to her in front of Cole's bed, placed in between two sets of curtains that separated each bed and its young occupant. "Did you get anything out of him?" Scully asked of the 5-year old whose head was turned away from them as he looked out the curtain-covered window.

    "He said he woke up, but that his eyes were too blurry to see anything." He stopped, but then decided to play along with Scully, adding, "Or anyone."

    "Let me see his chart." Scully reached out her hand and waited for Mulder to hand it to her. He stepped back, grabbed it from the end of the bed, commenting to Scully. "He had a fever of 101 yesterday."


    "So…Tyler had a fever yesterday, Cole had a fever yesterday, you had a fever yesterday." She felt his head. "You still do."

    "What are you saying?"

    "I'm saying that this could all be a hallucination brought on by the fever."

    "Did that boy see anything?" Mulder nodded his head slightly towards Cole.

    "He says he didn't…"

    "And you don't believe him?" There was a hint of shock in Mulder's voice.

    "He seemed rather quick to say he didn't," Scully announced. "Come on." She led him out of the room. "He seems scared. I think that whoever it is that took that little boy must have threatened the others. Probably scared them into not talking. I mean they're 4 and…"


    "…5. They're easily susceptible to suggestion, and you can't blame them. We just have to reassure them that nothing's going to happen to them if they talk."

    "Scully." He walked towards the police sketch composite artist and raised the man's hand, the drawing facing her. "This is what I saw."

    "Mulder…" she began before he cut her off.

    "Don't," rushed Mulder's voice, "Don't even start with me."

    "Why don't we talk to some of the other officers, and see what they've gathered?" Scully changed the subject she was going to bring up.

    Mulder's expression seemed to say 'fine', that he was OK with at least that. "Officer?" Scully approached a young cop, who was scribbling notes on his notepad. She flashed her badge, which directed Mulder to do so as well. "Sir, may we have a minute with you?"

    "Sure." He gratefully obliged, looking at Scully.

    Mulder wanted to turn away and heave out and overly exasperated sigh at this rookie cop's doting on Scully, but he managed to keep it in. "What have you and your colleagues found so far?" she asked politely.

    "This is the fourth time it's happened this week, ma'am, each time in a different room, and each time the night before these kids were supposed to go home to their families."

    Shocked at the news, Scully asked, "Alexander was prepared to go home today?"

    "Yes…" The officer didn't seem to see why Scully doubted this. He clearly hadn't been so thorough as to check his health records.

    "He had a fever of 100.8, and his liver wasn't any better yesterday. He'd also been vomiting all day."

    "I don't know, ma'am. That's just what we were told," said the officer.

    "You say three other kids have been kidnapped this way?" Mulder asked.

    "Yes, sir," he replied to the man, addressing him for the first time, while looking him up and down discretely.

    "Have you found any of them?"

    "No, sir, we have not," the man had a slight southern drawl to his voice.

    "Do you have any leads as to where they might be? Or who might have taken them?" Mulder pressed. Scully stayed silent, trying to figure out where Mulder was taking this interrogation.

    "No." This time there was so courteous 'sir' behind his negative comment.

    "Mm hmm." Mulder turned around and began looking for something on the floor. Scully had to drag her inquisitive eyes off of him.

    Scully then asked, "What were the victims names? We haven't been told about any previous kidnappings."

    Scully whipped out her little notebook and pen and prepared to copy the names down as the policeman read from his pad. "Alexa Kerrigan, Nathalya Kelley, and Nathan Hollis."

    "Ages?" Scully didn't look up.

    In order, he announced, "7, 6, and 5."

    "Hmm. What was Alexander's last name? We didn't get that," she asked with furrowed brows.

    "Oparin," he said slowly.

    "OK, thank you," she replied, and left his side, knowing there wasn't much more useful information he could give them. "What are you looking for, Mulder?" she asked as Mulder's feet shuffled around on the ground, toying with the shadows the light made.


    "I don't think you're going to find our suspect's prints," she said matter-of-factly.

    "Me either, but I don't think it's for the same reasons you're thinking." He started to get up, eyes still on the floor.

    "Why don't I doubt you?" Her head shook a little.

    "Want to hear what I think?" Mulder stood up tall, stretching his back and wiping his forehead.

    Scully closed her eyes. "No."

    "Good," he said. "If this monster is made of some type of glass, or something transparent, it would make sense that we're not finding any footprints."

    Scully couldn't help but muffle her laugh. "Or simply that all this commotion and careless handling of the crime scene has erased whomever's prints we're looking for." She paused for a moment. "There is one thing I'm finding weird though."

    "What's that?" he asked, shuffling his feet around. "The previous victims were seven, six, and five years old. Do we know how old Alexander is?"

    "No, but we can find out." Mulder walked past the cops again into Alexander's room, picking up his chart and turning to Scully, who followed close behind him. "Four," he announced.

    Scully tightened her lips with thought. "It seems awfully strange that the victims' ages are consecutive, don't you think?"

    "So you think the next kid's gonna be three?" Mulder chimed in.

    "It's worth looking into," Scully stated. "I'll get a list from the nurse on the floor."

    They weren't going anywhere; Scully had made it quite clear that Mulder was getting back into bed as soon as they were done with the crime scene. Scully approached the nurse's station and asked, "Ma'am?"

    She spun around in her chair. "Yes?"

    ""I'm Special Agent Dana Scully with the FBI." She held up her badge. "Could I have a list of all the three-year olds in the hospital? Rather, a list of all the children three and under?"

    "Sure, give me a minute and I'll have that right out for you," she told her cheerfully.

    "OK, thanks," Scully said. "I'll be in Agent Mulder's room right here." She tilted her head towards the room right across from the nurse's station.

    Mulder was already in the room, sitting on his bed and kicking off his shoes. "Oh, wait," she mumbled to herself and spun around to go back to the nurse. "Miss?" she asked, grabbing the nurse's attention again.


    "Cole, the little boy down the hall in pediatrics," Scully started.

    The nurse seemed to be thinking who she was speaking of, and then it hit her, "Oh, yeah, Cole Brandeis?"

    "Yeah." Scully nodded.

    "What about him?"

    "I was just wondering…does he know his parents are dead?" Scully questioned. "He's only got a broken leg, and he may have the flu, but that's not enough to keep him in the hospital. Is that why he's still here?"

    The nurse looked down sadly. "Yes, I'm afraid so. No one's been able to tell him. He doesn't have any family, except for an aunt in North Carolina somewhere, but she's not of sound mind, so I hear. He doesn't even know her. So by keeping him here, we're avoiding sending him off to an orphanage."

    "OK," Scully said. "Thanks."

    She turned around and walked back to Mulder's room, closing the door behind her, hoping to get the list quickly before getting too deep into thought. "What was that about?" he asked her.

    "That little boy, Cole- his parents and sister died in a house fire, and he's the only survivor. I had a suspicion that he didn't know, so I asked the nurse."

    Scully was prepared not to say anymore, so she sat down. She drew her head up when Mulder asked, "And?"

    She took in a breath as she looked over at him. "And I was right."

    It was enough talk of that. She changed the subject to something other than the orphaned boy. "Once we get that list we can narrow the potential victims down to hopefully just a few."

    As if on cue, the young nurse knocked on the door, opened it, and handed Scully the two-page list of children's names. Scully took a few seconds to look over it, then stopped the nurse before she could leave. "Do you have a highlighter?"

    "Yes." She left the door open, walked to the desk just across the way, leaned over and grabbed a thick yellow highlighter from her penholder. She quickly handed it to Scully and left as the agent thanked her.

    Scully's hand flew across the pages, highlighting every child that was three years old. Mulder sat there and stared as she began to point to the highlighted names. He saw her mouth moving, but it took a moment's thought to realize that she was counting. "How many?" he asked when her lips reached a halt.


    "In the whole hospital?" he asked, hoping for clarification.


    "That's pretty good," he commented.

    "Yeah," she agreed. "We need to post guards by the pediatric unit's doors and by the doors of the kids' rooms."

    "We oughta tell the police to do that, since we're not officially on this case."

    Was that Mulder talking? Scully couldn't believe what she'd heard. Mulder wanted, for once, to leave such a large responsibility in the hands of mere local law enforcers. She was going to take full advantage of this situation and take him up on his offer. She figured that this act was purely due to his condition. He was no doubt tired, groggy, and feeling nothing but lazy. He'd never admit this though, and instead only lower the workload he took on in subtle ways.

    "Sounds good to me." She hid her small grin. "We should also call the parents of these children, and check their charts. Maybe we can send some of them home. That's something we have to do ourselves, though." She sighed, aware of the time it would take them. "Here." Scully handed Mulder the top sheet of the two she held. "You call them, and I'll call these."

    Scully moved over to the white, round table in Mulder's room so that they wouldn't disturb each other's calls. They both began dialing immediately. "Hello? Mrs. Farrell? My name is Special Agent Dana Scully…"

    "Mr. Jackson? I'm Fox Mulder from the FBI…"

    "Mr. Andrews, hi, this is Agent Fox Mulder from the FBI calling. This message is semi-urgent, it's about your son. Please give me a call on my cell phone as soon as you get this…"

    "Hi? Is this Colleen Williams? I'm with the FBI, my name is Dana Scully. I was calling regarding your daughter, Alyssa…"

    Calls and arrangements were made, but there were still parents who weren't home or were unavailable, which would set the agents back a bit. "Who do you have going home?" Scully asked.

    "Um, Chase Jackson, Zoë Carroll, and uh…that's it. The others are either unreachable or unable to leave," he explained. "How 'bout you?"

    "Annie Farrell," she stated flatly. "That's it."

    "How many do you still have to get in touch with?"

    "One. You?" she shot back.

    "Two." He looked down at his list of names. The ones highlighted with stars next to them were unavailable. "What do we do now?"

    "I suppose we should prepare those children to leave. We're going to have to explain to their parents why they're being asked to withdrawal their kids from their treatment. What are we going to tell them?" Scully's eyes were wide with worry.

    "The truth." Mulder's lip curved upward.

    Mulder could almost see Scully shaking her head along with her expression, but she had held back this time. "I don't know how well they're going to take that," she told him.

    "We'll come up with something." He flashed her a grin that she couldn't return. "When are these people picking their kids up?"

    "As soon as possible," Scully replied.

    Mulder nodded. Scully took a moment and then stood, ready to get the kids packed up and prepared for the trip home. Mulder hurriedly shoved his shoes on and caught up with Scully, who was already walking through the doors of the pediatric unit. She had the list in her hand and was looking down at it, then up at doors to make sure she had found the right room. "Here," she said, turning around. "This is the first one, Annie Farrell. Right here." She walked towards the door and pushed it open, hiding the list in her pocket.

    "Annie?" Scully asked when she walked in, finding the little red headed girl was the only one in the room. "Hi." She went and sat on the edge of the bed next to her. "I'm Dana Scully, and this is my partner." She turned around. "Fox Mulder."

    "Hi," she replied in a small, childish voice.

    "Your mommy is coming to pick you up, so we have to get you ready to go."

    "Why am I leaving?" she asked, hugging her stuffed dog tight.

    Scully didn't want to scare the little girl, but she also didn't want to lie to her. Instead, she tried changing the subject. She petted the little dog with golden-brown fur. "Who's this?"

    "Sandy," she said. "Why am I leaving?"

    Scully sighed and smiled, knowing there wasn't any escaping it. "It's for your safety. Your mom will be here soon." There was an instant of complete silence, and then Scully said, "Let's get you dressed and your stuff together so that you'll be all ready when your mommy gets here."

    She helped Annie remove the covers from her small body, and then helped her off the bed. The little girl's bare feet smacked the cold tile floor, causing her to jump away from the chill. "Oh, sorry," Scully apologized, realizing how cold it had to be, and how many germs had to be on that ground. She picked her up and carried her to the dresser where her clothes were.

    Mulder watched her and was worried about her clinical detachment skills not kicking in. She'd seen this girl for all of five minutes or less and already she looked like her mother. He wanted to intervene, but what was he supposed to do? Say, 'Hey, Scully, put that kid down and let her dress herself, you can't be getting attached,' or 'Scully, clinical detachment is the key here.' He wouldn't do it; he'd let her dress this girl and get her ready to go. It would only be a matter of time.

    Scully grabbed some socks, plopped the girl back on the bad, and slid them on her feet, hoping to warm them. "I'll never understand why they don't give patients socks," she muttered beneath her breath. "Do you have a bag for your clothes?" Scully asked the girl.

    She responded, "It's in there," with a pointed finger towards a closet.

    Mulder retrieved the bag for Scully, who promptly filled it with all of her things, which wasn't much. "Do you have a preference on what you want to wear?" she asked the girl, who still seemed a little bit confused. Once she gathered what Scully said, she pointed to her red dress. It was one of the two outfits that she had with her. Scully lay it on the bed, grabbed the only pair of shoes she had, her patent leather slip-on shoes that buckled at the top.

    Once Scully had her dressed, she gave Sandy back to Annie. "There you go." Scully brightened her features up.

    Scully walked over to Mulder and spoke to him in a voice just above a whisper. "Why don't you go get," she referenced Mulder's list, "Chase Jackson ready to go."

    Mulder nodded and walked out of the room, heading down the hall to find the door with the animal letters that would read 'Chase'. Once he found them, he walked in and got him ready. When he was through, he brought the dark brown haired boy to the room Scully and Annie were in. "One more," Scully stated as Mulder walked through the door. "Zoë Carroll. Let me go get her ready."

    Scully returned with a little girl whose hair reached down to the middle of her back, the color a golden brown, with curls swirling in spirals down most of the length of her arms. "I told the nurse to call me when any parents arrive."

    They let the kids go play with the hospital-provided toys in Annie's room while they talked and waited. When Scully was in the middle of explaining something irrelevant to Mulder, her cell phone chirped, waking Mulder out of a trance he'd put himself into. "Scully?" she answered. "OK, thanks."

    She turned to Zoë "Zoë, your mom’s here. You ready?"

    "Mm hmm." She nodded and stood up, clutching onto Scully's outstretched hand.

    Mulder was afraid to leave Chase and Annie alone, but he figured if he asked them to 'play nice' that he could go out and speak with Zoë's parents with Scully. "Be good for a while, ok?" Mulder asked them, giving the two kids a glance before leaving, closing the door behind him.

    He came up behind Scully, almost startling her. "When can I bring her back? She's got to have her treatment on a regular basis. What I've got at home won't last but a week."

    Scully put her hands on her hips and looked around, as if searching for a doctor. "I'm not sure. If we don't call you before your supply at home runs out, give the hospital a call and see if it's OK to bring her back."

    The woman nodded. "What's this all about anyway?"

    Both agents were hoping it wouldn't come to having to answer these questions, but there wasn't any way to evade it. "I'm sure you've heard of the disappearances of other children from this hospital, Ms. Carroll," Mulder asked in an almost rhetorical way.

    "Yes, I have," she confirmed.

    "We have reason to believe that whomever is kidnapping these children plans to kidnap a three-year-old next. We had to get all of the three-year olds out that we could." His face was straight. He wasn't going to mention his monster theory.

    "You might want to call your pharmacy or your doctor on refilling that insulin," Scully offered, before Mulder went further.

    The woman seemed to accept what Mulder and Scully had said and left. Things went fairly smoothly with the first parent, and they could only hope they woul'd go that well with the others.

    At 12:15 P.M., Chase's father came to get him, a little distraught as to what to do, but seeming to accept the fact that he needed to take him home. Two down, one to go. It wasn't until 5:47 P.M. that evening that Ms. Farrell showed up. She came in sporting a long royal blue trench coat, heels, and some kind of suit. Clearly she'd been held back at work. She was almost out of breath, showing that she had rushed to get where she was.

    "Sorry I'm so late," she apologized sincerely. "I'm a personal secretary; there wasn't anyway I could have gotten away sooner. I'm sorry."

    "Not a problem." Scully called for Annie. "Your mom's here."

    The little girl came running out to her mother, who bent down to swoop her up into her arms. "Do you have all your stuff?"

    The child nodded with a wide, teeth-baring grin.

    "You have Sandy?"

    "Sandy!" the little girl cried, alarmed that she had nearly forgotten him on the floor with the hospital toys. Annie's arm was desperately outstretched. Scully got the small stuffed dog for her, which quickly brought the toothy smile back to the girl.

    "OK, are we all ready now?" Ms. Farrell asked her daughter, who nodded graciously.

    Mulder said to the woman, "Thanks for coming to get her."

    "No problem," she lied, all three of them knowing it was.

    "We'll give you a call when this is all over," Scully informed her.

    "Thanks, I'd appreciate that," Grace replied and walked off, putting her daughter down.

    "Now what?" Scully asked.

    Mulder began to walk from the pediatric ward. "Where are the guards? Didn't we say we needed them by six?"

    "It's not six yet," Scully reminded him. "They'll be here soon enough."

    6:07 PM

    Mulder and Scully stood by the double doors of the pediatric ward, awaiting the arrival of the guards that were scheduled to report by six P.M. Scully's arms were folded across her chest as she waited, looking annoyed in a bored way. Mulder stood with his arms crossed lower on his body as he leaded against the blue painted doorframe.

    Mulder's mouth had opened to utter a complaint when he saw two officers in nylon FBI jackets jogging down the hallway. "Sorry," the male agent said as he stopped in front of them. "There was an accident on 95."

    Scully looked up at Mulder and decided that to speak before he had the opportunity to misinterpret the acceptance of apologies that they had just exchanged. "It's not a problem," she stated.

    "You're Agents Mulder and Scully?" the male asked, knowing it had to be them.

    "That's us," Mulder breathed, watching Scully extend her hand to them, so he followed suit.

    "We're Agents Tibideaux," he nodded his head to acknowledge his own name, then cocked it to the left to display his young, pretty, black haired partner, "and Baker."

    "Nice to meet you." Scully smiled, trying to melt away her reputation of Ice Queen. She was ready to get down to business. "While we're investigating this case, we need you on guard out here." Scully turned, suddenly realizing something wasn't right. "Shouldn't there be others?" she asked Mulder.

    "Yeah," he replied. "Two for each room with a three-year old."

    "Damn," Scully muttered to herself. "We don't have time for this. We trust local offices with a task as simple as this and it could cost a life."

    Mulder let her fume all she wanted. He knew something like this would happen, but he wasn't going to complain. It had been his idea to let them handle it.

    "We don't have much time," she reminded Mulder. "Do you think this person's going to hit around 4:30 again?"

    ""I'm almost sure of it," he said confidently.

    Scully wanted to ask the two who were responsible enough to show up to call more agents over, but she felt that no matter how honorable they were, they were still field agents. "OK, stay here," Scully instructed them as a superior. "We expect this person…" she felt Mulder's stare on her, "or thing, whatever it is, is coming back around 4:30 AM. We should be back by then to check on things, but be prepared. Got it?"

    They nodded vigorously, acting every inch the typical rookies. "Where do we go from here?" Scully asked just above a whisper as they walked down the hall and away from the agents; she wasn't as in control as she appeared.

    "Hospital surveillance tapes," he said. "If it was human, it would be on there. If it wasn't, maybe it still is."

    Scully could only look up and hold back a moan in response to his wild theory. It took them five minutes to get someone's attention and then another five to figure out where they were going and get there. Finally they landed themselves on the ground level with hospital security. They introduced themselves and promptly got to work. "What are you looking for?" asked the middle aged, balding man.

    "I'll tell you if I find it," Mulder said, eyes fixated on the black and white moving pictures.

    After almost 30 minutes of wasting time by looking at the empty hallways of pediatrics, Mulder jumped out of his chair, nearly spewing his bag of sunflower seeds everywhere. "There! Stop it!"

    The officer sat up in his chair and rewound the tape a few seconds before hitting play. "Can you see that?" Mulder asked, taking the remote from the man. "Right there, do you see that?"

    "What?" the man asked, suddenly paying attention.

    ""Right there, the outline of something."

    "I don't see anything," he replied.

    Scully almost agreed with him. "Wait, he's right. Right in that area, there's a slight outline of something." She moved her fingers along the edge of the paused figure.

    "I still don't see it."

    Scully moved her hand to allow him better viewing.

    "No, sorry. I don't see what you're looking at." He returned to his seat.

    Mulder turned to the slouched, slightly over-weight person. "Could we get a print out of this?"

    "Sure." He typed something in on his keyboard and an old printer started making loud noises, indicating it was warming up or starting to print. In less than a minute they had all they needed.

    It was 7:00 P.M. on the minute when the arrived back on Mulder's floor. They ran down to the children's unit to see if the other cops had been posted as requested, and found they had. Each were sitting in a bright blue chair provided by the hospital, reading a magazine, or standing up, wandering back and forth in front of the door.

    They were about to turn around when Scully heard a little voice calling her name. Mulder turned around first to look at her, but she shrugged at him then turned back to the direction of the voice. "You hear that?" Scully asked.

    He nodded. "Yeah."

    All of the other agents standing guard had stopped and looked around, trying to figure out who was calling for Dana. Then it was heard again, only louder, and more distinct. It came from an unguarded room. An agent guarding a nearby room left his post to peek around the door to see a boy thrashing in his bed. "Don't leave your post!" Scully hollered roughly at the man as she ran down the hallway.

    Scully recognized this room as Cole and Tyler's, and once Alexander's. "Cole?" she asked when she saw the child stuck in his sheets. "Cole?" She moved in closer.

    Tyler was in his own bed, unsure of what to think of his fellow friend crying out in his sleep. Scully saw this fear and could tell, though the back of Cole was facing her, that there was a saddened or deeply scared look on his face just by the grimace Tyler was making. She rushed to his side. "Cole? Cole? Wake up!"

    She shook the boy lightly but to no avail. She turned him on his back, revealing his sweating face as she calmed his screams. His chest pumped up and down in its effort to retrieve air for his lungs and his eyebrows furrowed into a troubling arch.

    "Cole?" Her voice was less urgent. "Are you OK?"

    His eyes fluttered open.

    "Hey." Scully flashed a reassuring smile. She could feel Mulder's presence in the room, figuring he was most likely at the door trying not to pry by having his back turned to them.

    Cole looked up and focused his eyes, realizing Scully was there. "Dana?" he asked, rubbing his eyes.

    "I'm here." She retained her smile. "What's wrong?"

    He swallowed, his throat dry and hoarse, and then spoke. "I remember that monster that hurt Alexander."

    "Monster?" Scully asked.

    "Yeah. I think I saw him."

    "You did?"

    "Mm hmm. He passed by the door earlier, but he was leaving." The boy's voice was earnest and innocent as he gave Scully a direction that the alleged monster went.

    "What else?" She listened to him intently as he described the crystalline beast, then asked, "Do you think you could tell that to someone who can draw him?"

    He nodded. She got up and read Cole's medical charts. His fever had risen from a 102 that morning to a 104.89. This monster had to be the result of some sort of hallucination. Scully's scientific instinct told her that all of these children who had seen this 'monster' had the same drug and were under the influence of it when they saw it.

    "Don't let it take me." There was pure dismay in the boy's sea-blue eyes.

    "Nothing's going to take you. I promise." Scully didn't smile this time, closing his chart and taking it with her as she made her way to the door where Mulder stood.

    She placed her hands exasperatedly on her hips. "I'm going to head down to the police station. I need to gather all the information I can before our," she made quotes with her fingers, " 'monster' claims another victim, which is in roughly," she checked her watch, "9 hours."

    "What am I supposed to do?" Mulder asked, wanting to be of some use.

    "Get some rest." She expected him to know that but he had a look of shock on his face. Cutting him off before he could protest, she said, "No, don't start with me. You're going to bed. I don't care if you like it or not. If you can be of some help, I'll let you know. Otherwise, just sit back, relax, and wait till this case is solved."

    If only Scully knew that it wasn't that easy, she might have understand why Mulder never listened to her.

    Scully sped all the way through the city, finding that she was getting caught in each red light that she came across. It came to her attention that the clock kept ticking even when her car was stopped at a red light, and her time would be up if she didn't hurry. She finally arrived at police headquarters at 7:32 that night. She ran at top speed to get to the man in charge of it all, or at least to someone knowing what they were doing. She walked straight past men asking her not to interrupt the police chief for he was taking an important phone call, but she blocked their voices out.

    "Ma'am!" one yelled, placing an urgent hand on her shoulder. She stopped and looked at it, wondering what on earth could have possessed him to touch her. She shrugged his hand off snobbishly. "You can't go in there."

    "And why not?" Her hands were perched uptightedly on her hips.

    "He's taking a very important phone call right now. He's given us all orders not to disrupt him for any reason."

    "This is more important than that phone call," Scully insisted and pushed her way past the burly, officer.

    "Please, miss," he asked with the eyes of a beggar.

    "The life of a three-year old resides on whether I speak to him now or later. I only have until four this morning, that's not a lot of time to find this killer," she told him matter-of-factly.

    The man seemed pained to have to hold her back, but he said, "Look, I'm sorry, really, I am. But he's given strict orders…"

    Scully cut him off by crashing through the doors that closed the chief and the rest of the station off. "Ma'am!" he called, tumbling in after her.

    Police Chief Montero sat behind his desk, looking up and holding his hand over the phone. "What is this about?" he demanded.

    "I'm sorry, sir, she wouldn't…"

    "I need to speak with you." Scully didn't have time to listen to them argue and explain things, so she felt the need to interrupt.

    "This isn't a good time…"

    Again Scully cut in. "And it's not a good time for me. So if you'll give me five minutes then we can both get back to our jobs."

    The strict, sturdy, man with graying black hair slowly lifted the phone to his ear and said, "I'll call you back in ten" and hung up on the person on the line without so much as waiting for a response. "Now what is it you need Miss…"

    "Scully," she finished. "Special Agent Dana Scully. I'm with the Federal Bureau of Investigation." She flashed her badge. "I need everything your office has on the kidnappings of these children over at the hospital."

    Within 30 minutes, the two of them had scrounged up everything they possibly could. Files, background checks, mothers' maiden names- anything they could find they had. "Do you have a composite artist available?" Scully remembered.

    "Now?" the chief asked.


    "Let me check." He got up from his desk where Scully had been sorting through things and peeked out the door. When he spotted the man he'd been looking for, he closed the door again and said, "Yep, he's here. Something you need?"

    "Yeah. Could you send him down to the hospital to talk to Cole Brandeis?" She was clear on Cole's name so there would be no mistaking it. Scully opened her mouth to elaborate, but refrained. After taking in a breath, she said as she stood up to leave. "Thank you for your time sir. Sorry to barge in on you like this, but time is a luxury I don't have right now."

    "No problem." It was the second time she'd heard the lie that day.

    She pivoted on one foot and made her way out the door briskly.


    Scully sat behind the steering wheel of her cold car, poring over the various charts and files given to her by Chief Montero. Scattered about the two front seats of her personal car were medical charts, photocopied police notes, theories and educated guesses.

    Scully's eyes scanned the numerous papers in front of her, and finally her eyes gave in. She closed them, intending only to keep them shut for a second, and rubbed her temples. Her head suddenly ached with the stress flowing up from her neck. She rested her forehead against the steering wheel, letting the tension ease out of her.


    Scully shot up in her seat with a start, her heart pumping wildly in her chest, hearing the blast of a shrill car alarm. She hated the sound of those things; no one ever listened to them. She was a Federal Officer and she didn't plan to check anything out. She shook the grogginess out of her head, wiped the sleep from her eyes, and sat up straight, thinking of where she should go from there.

    Suddenly her thoughts came together and formed a giant one that hit her like a load of bricks. The only way these children could see this monster was if they had a fever over 100 degrees, and if it had happened to children, then it most likely would happen with anyone. Then another thought came to her- each of the children was taken the morning before they were supposed to go home. If there was some kind of pattern they could narrow down the list of likely victims to a mere few or maybe even just one. It would make complete sense if the so called monster was doing this- each child would have some of their strength back, almost all, but they'd still be too weak to resist or fight back.

    With this in mind, she shuffled all of her papers together into one heap and threw the car door open, ignoring the car alarm that blazed even louder in her ears. She jogged to the elevator, jumped on and pressed the floor she needed, waiting impatiently until she got there. She paced back and forth, wondering how such an updated, modern hospital could have such unreliable elevators. When it opened finally, a group of people was standing directly in front of the door waiting to get on. She had to push through them as they filed inside so she could get out. She sped up her pace, heading towards Cole's room in hopes of finding the police composite artist still there so she could compare Mulder's description of the monster with Cole's. When she got a glimpse of an alarm clock in one of the rooms, she stopped, discovering that ironically the room was Mulder's. She took a moment to catch her breath before going in and setting the papers down quietly.

    She looked at Mulder with envious eyes as he slept on his side, and then glanced at the alarm clock. The light of the hospital caused a glare, so she tilted it up so she could read the red digital numbers more clearly. It read 11:46 PM.

    She had about four hours and 45 minutes until the attacker would show up, or come out of hiding, but that was a minuscule amount of time when she didn't know what to do. It was as though a light bulb went off in her head, sending her on the run down the hallway in search of a storage room. Her head whipped from side to side as she looked at the labels on the doors she saw. Finally, at the end of the hall on the right she found what she was looking for. She turned the knob quietly and snuck inside, flipping the light switch on once she had the door closed and locked. The room was small and closed in with the scent of medical supplies and different types of disinfectants. She could only hope that what she was looking for lie on one of the cold, steel, gray shelves.

    Pyrexia. That was what she was looking for. That and a sink with running water. She spotted the large, silver sink in the corner with rusting pipes protruding from the bottom of the steel, bathtub-like sink. She quickly turned the handle to see if the water was running, which it was, so she slammed it back into its off position.

    Now she needed to find the pyrexia, and a glass, even a beaker, would help. She heard a loud clank as she bumped into a mop and other cleaning supplies behind her, knocking her gun to the floor. She bent down to pick it up when suddenly a lone white bottle caught her eye from a corner across the room. There was a small caution sign at the bottom and next to it a skull and crossbones indicating that it was deadly. There was no time to waste looking for some kind of glass, so instead she raced over to the sink and clogged it up, pouring nearly the entire bottle of pyrexia in it. She left about half of a cup of the fever-inducing poison in the bottle and turned on the water, letting some of it flow into the white container.

    If Scully was going to something so risqué, she was going to take every precaution she could to insure she would be fine when all was said and done. With the water inside, she shook the plastic jug so that the water would mix with the toxin inside, diluting it to a level safe for human consumption. She took a second to build up her courage, then placed her mouth around the opening of the bottle, tipping it upwards and taking a large gulp.

    As soon as her taste buds registered the foreign taste, she removed the jug from her mouth, shook her head quickly, and then flicked her tongue against her teeth as if it would dispel the awful taste. She carefully replaced the cap to the bottle and tossed it in the general area of where she'd found it, but not draining the rest from the sink, hoping no one would come in a notice what she'd left there.

    She turned off the lights, quietly unlocked the door, and then opened it only enough ajar so she could peer out into the hallway and see if someone was there to see her sneaking from the room. Fortunately, all was clear and she was able to creep her way out and down the hall to Mulder's room, forgetting to completely secure the door.

    When she arrived, Mulder was lying on his side sleeping, his back facing her, with blankets covering him. She crept around to the other side to check on him and his temperature, but saw sweat was again dripping off of him. She knew that if he got worked up again this would start all over, no matter how much better he thought he'd gotten.

    Immediately she removed the blankets to see that he was trapped beneath his work clothes. His dress shirt was no doubt ruined with the stains of perspiration, and his skin was damaged with the same rash he'd suffered from before. Mulder grunted in his sleep as Scully turned him over on his back, unbuttoning the buttons at his wrist and then untucking his shirt. She hastily unfastened the buttons lining his chest so she could spread some cream over his burning body.

    She knew Mulder would feel embarrassed if he were to wake up and see her stripping him down to his underwear, but she had no choice, and little time to waste on appropriateness. She removed his pants next and tossed them to the ground next to his shiny shoes. She then applied more cream to his legs, let it soak in, and then covered him with a thin sheet.

    When she finally calmed down and took a seat, she was shocked that Mulder hadn't stirred a bit in the time she was treating him. Shocked but thankful, Scully's body sulked down in the large chair as she drifted off into a light nap.

    4:23 AM

    Scully shot up in the seat she was in, panting, sweating, and breathing heavy. Her mind had been lost in a horrible dream of a child crying for her help, but she couldn't reach it. All was quiet in the hospital; the nurses were silently sitting at their stations and children were resting fast asleep. She looked at Mulder before pushing herself up with considerable effort. She couldn't remember why she felt so heavy and limp, or why her eyelids felt like they weighed more than barbells, but it hit her when she saw the storage door slightly cracked that she'd taken pyrexia.

    She was too tired to go the opposite direction to shut the door she'd carelessly left open, so she continued down towards pediatrics where the stairs were located. Suddenly she saw the clear outline of the monster Mulder and the children had been describing, and it was carrying three-year old Alyssa Williams who was screaming and kicking. The monster darted through the doors to the stairs and bolted down them.

    Scully watched this in astonishment, eyes wide and bewildered with terror as the creature disappeared with the girl behind the flapping doors. She picked up her heavy feet and made an attempt at a run, which turned into more of a slow trot. By the time she worked her way to the doors at the head of the stairs she couldn't breathe and had to stop, hunch over and suck some air down. As soon as she did so, she hurled her body through the two doors and did as good of an impression of a run as she could, given her feverish circumstances.

    The screams of the small tot echoed louder in Scully's ears as she grew closer to the basement. A shrill, high- pitched scream bounced off every wall within the hospital. "HEELLLLLLPPPP!!!"

    Scully's legs were like jelly beneath her, but the scream pumped adrenaline through her body faster than it ever had before. She felt like she'd slid down the entire length of the stairwell. She slowly approached the door that led into the basement and didn't hear any noise for a moment, but then heard the quiet sobs of a child in pain.

    Scully looked through the slit in the door that was a long rectangular window and saw a limp body. Scully's mouth fell open as she saw the small body of Nathan Hollis, one of the last to be taken. His body was torn in shreds; it seemed as though his insides had been scattered about the cold underground tomb.

    How could police overlook this? Did they totally skip over the basement as they searched? Because of their negligence, four children were no doubt dead, their bodies strewn in pieces on the floor of the hospital cellar. Scully broke out of her trance when she heard the deafening scream of Alyssa Williams again. Looking through the glass, she could see the outline of the monster beating at the girl's small stomach, trying to rip her apart.

    What did it need with these children's insides? What purpose did they serve? After all, this monster seemed to be some sort of transparent piece of goo! When the thing raised its thick paw-like hand, Scully couldn't just stand and watch with droopy eyes, knowing she had to do something.

    "STOP!" she screamed, bursting in and reaching for her gun. Fear washed over her when she realized her gun wasn't in its holster, suddenly remembering she'd forgotten to pick it up from the storage closet. "Oh, God," she muttered as the thing glared evilly at her.

    She felt as if her insides were going to hurl themselves out as she hunched over in weakness. The clear being raged at her, delivering a vicious blow to her stomach. The force of the punch was so rough that blood immediately sprung out of her mouth as she gasped and fell to the floor.

    Through the blood that bubbled in her mouth, Scully choked out, "Run…" to Alyssa, whose eyes and face were covered in tears.

    Scully looked up, peering into the devil's eyes which shone a demonic red. She couldn't make out any other colored features, but she could tell there was some sort of mouth on him. It was as clear as the rest of his body. What was the purpose of mutilating these kids if he weren't using them for nourishment? He had no stomach. It had to have been pure malevolence.

    Mulder awoke to the sound of his watch beeping that it was quarter till the hour. When he realized he was half naked he sat up in search of his partner. "Scully?" he called out, wiping his eyes. "Scully, you in here?"

    He looked over to the table where she'd been studying files and saw that they'd all been closed and her trench-coat was dispersed over the back of the chair. She was somewhere in the hospital.

    Throwing his feet over the side of the bed, he buttoned up his shirt and found his pants and shoes on the floor. As soon as he was semi-dressed, he stepped into the hallway looking for Scully. He looked to the right and then to the left, seeing nothing. He looked back to the right then again back to the left, realizing that there was a light shining through the storage room's door. Being that it was about 4:45 A.M., he didn't see why someone would be in there, so he cautiously advanced to the door.

    He pushed the door to the storage closet open slowly, knowing he didn't have his gun with him. When he looked inside, it was obvious that no one was there, but he saw Scully's gun lying on the ground near the door. How could she have not noticed she dropped it? He could smell the stench that chemicals left behind, and then saw a tipped over bottle of pyrexia, its small remains dripping to the floor below. Next to it was a sink filled with the same thing. What had gone on in here?

    Mulder moved closer to the chemical's container to read the label. It was deadly, and clearly Scully had done something with it. Then he saw the faint, faded lipstick ring around the opening and closed his eyes, thinking.

    He picked up Scully's gun and shoved it down in his pocket, hoping he wouldn't need it. He exited the storage closet, trying to decide where to go next. If Scully had done what he thought she'd done, which was ingest pyrexia, he had to find her so she could be treated as soon as possible.

    He leaned against the wall outside the storage room and thought. Where would someone go if they were going to hide something? If there were a need to keep something out of view, where would it be put? After thinking for a good while, it hit him like a thousand bullets. His mind screamed.

    With his fever almost completely gone, he bolted for the stairs. Halfway down to the bottom he could hear grunts and an occasional scream. He could recognize the sounds he was hearing. The grunt was followed by an occasional, dim, "help", and it was no one else's voice but Scully's.

    When he reached the floor he'd set out to arrive at, he slowly approached the door. He could hear the sniffs of a little girl, the mental pleas he knew Scully wanted to scream. When he gazed through the window he saw her struggling with all her might to fight off this diaphanous adversary. Her eyes were filled with pools of rage and her fingers clawed at exterior of the monster. Her eyes were not only hateful, they were low and heavy looking, like she it was an agonizing task to stay awake. Each ounce of strength in her body was being used to be rid of the antagonist above her.

    He pulled her gun from his pocket, flipped off the safety, prepared to bust in and save Scully's flushed face and feverish body from her attacker. He burst through the doors in a mad rush as the paw of this enormous beast was raised high, just as it had been over Alyssa, in preparation to tear Scully to shreds.

    "Stop!" Mulder hollered awkwardly as all eyes turned to him- two pairs of normal eyes and then a pair of red striking eyes.

    The monster dropped Scully's limp body to the ground and started to run towards Mulder, who wasn't but 30 yards away. Alyssa, who was huddled in a corner clutching her legs to her chest, covered her ears as the bullets popped from the gun Mulder held and pumped themselves into the heart, or lack thereof, of the monster. Surprisingly, the crystalline figure dropped to the floor in a heap of slush, melting into a puddle of nothing but water.

    Scully barely kept her eyes open long enough to see the puddle absorb itself into the concrete.

    APRIL 26TH

    Scully tossed in her bed fitfully, annoyed that she was being pampered. "Mulder," she moaned as he entered the room with a wet wash cloth. "You don't have to do this…" she trailed off.

    He didn't reply to her complaints; he only placed the damp cloth on her forehead. "Is this how it works?"

    "Huh?" Her mind was fogged by the fever she'd induced.

    "Is this how you get fevers down?"

    "Sometimes," she replied, letting her eyelids droop shut. A thought smacked her in the face as she shot up in bed, startling Mulder he'd been turning around to leave the room. "Mulder!"

    He spun around. "What?"

    "Skinner," she muttered, seemingly out of the blue.

    "What about him?"

    "What are you going to tell Skinner?" she asked. "About the monster? What's your report going to say?"

    It was clear that she was nervous as to what his report would say, not only of the monster, but also of the extreme measures of faith she'd put in Mulder. She'd believed him enough to drink a deadly chemical in order to induce a fever which would in turn allow her to see this monster, should it exist. Though she had no reason to be embarrassed by her demonstration of trust and loyalty to her partner, she felt like she'd acted unprofessional and without plausible reason to believe Mulder's allegations of this so-called monster.

    Mulder decided to play with her worry by smiling at her coyly, pulling the covers up to her chin to insulate the warmth, and said, "Get some rest, Scully. We'll talk about it tomorrow."