Title: "Reality Check"
Author: Angela W.
Category: MSR
Rating: NC-17
Summary: Mulder wakes up in a hospital bed and can't
remember the last year of his life. Much has stayed
the same, but some things are decidely different.
Note: This story can be read in one of three ways. If
you've read some of my previous stories, you can
assume this is just another in that series and believe everything Scully says is true. If you haven't read any of my other fanfic, you can assume that Mulder is correct when he comes to the conclusion he's landed in some sort of alternative dimension. If you're *REALLY* devious, you could assume that Mulder's initial assumption is correct: it's all an undercover operation and Scully is just taking advantage of the situation.
Timespan/Spoilers: Takes place sometime after Season
7 ends. Major spoilers for "Arcadia". Minor mention of events in a number of other episodes through the end of Season Six and a hint of the way Season 7 ended.
Disclaimer: These characters do not belong to me.
They are the property of Chris Carter and 1013
Archive: Feel free to archive anywhere!
Feedback: I belong to the "If you can't say anything
nice, don't say anything at all" school of feedback.
In other words, compliments, questions or
*constructive* criticsm are all welcome. Flames are

Part 1 of 2

Special Agent Fox Mulder opened his eyes slowly and
looked around warily. He had no idea where he was or
why his head felt as if a heavy metal band was playing a concert inside it.  But he felt better once he spied the petite, redheaded woman sitting in a chair next to his bed.

"Scully?" he croaked.

"Mulder!" she replied, then gave him one of those
rare, incadescent smiles of hers. Hell, it was worth
feeling this bad to see a Scully-smile of that

She left the chair to perch gingerly on the side of
his hospital bed. "How ya feelin'?" she whispered,
running her hands gently through his hair. He was
vaguely surprised at how affectionate she was being.
Dana Scully was his partner and his best friend. He
knew he meant a lot to her, but she was usually quite
reserved and not given to physical displays of her
emotions. He must have *really* scared her to make her act this way, he thought woozily.

He answered her question with one of his own. "What

"You got conked on the head trying to subdue a violent suspect. But it's okay. Chan got the guy."

Chan? Mulder thought woozily. Obviously either another agent or a local law enforcement official, but his usually eidetic memory was failing him on putting a name to the face.

"I don't. . .remember. I'm not even sure what case we
were working on."

"That's perfectly understandable, Mulder. You've got a concussion. Short term memory loss pertaining to
recent events is a normal result. But just to be sure, let's call the doctor in to check on you."


The doctor arrived within the hour. He asked Mulder a
number of questions which seemed to indicate he no
impairment of his cognitive functions and no long-term or severe memory loss. He was able to give his full name, his birthdate, his badge number and details about his childhood and education. He was also able to describe himself as an F.B.I. agent whose specialty was criminal profiling. For good measure, he was able to supply most of the same information about Scully, as well, faltering only when asked her badge number.

"He's *never* known my badge number," Scully said.

"Well, then, he can't be expected to remember it," the doctor said good-naturedly. "We'll want to keep you overnight for observation, Mr. Mulder, but I don't see any reason why you can't go home first thing tomorrow morning."

"I do have some short-term memory loss. I can't
remember the name of the suspect or even the type of
the case I was pursuing when I was injured. And Scully mentioned somebody named Chan, who was apparently working with me, but I don't even know if that's a man or a woman!"

"A man," Scully said.

"You have temporary amnesia pertaining to recent
events only," the doctor replied. "That's quite common for patients suffering head trauma. Your memories will probably come back in fits and starts over the next few weeks. The important thing is not to push it! It's not total amnesia, or even close to it. You remember who you are. You remember who she is. Tomorrow, when you're back home in familiar surroundings, your recent memory will probably begin to return. But it will be a gradual process. Don't try to *force* yourself to remember. Just resume your normal daily routine and let the memories return in their own sweet time."

At that moment, a familiar, broad-shouldered figure
appeared at the doorway. "Am I interupting?" the man

"You know who he is?" the doctor asked.

"Skinner," Mulder replied. "Walter Skinner, Assistant
Director at the Federal Bureau of Investigation. My

"That right?" the doctor asked, glancing at the man.

"Got it in one," Skinner agreed.

"Since you've got another visitor, I'll just let Dr.
Scully step out in the hall with me for a minute or
two," the doctor said, gesturing for Scully to precede him out of the room.

"You okay?" Skinner asked.

"Did I screw up?" Mulder inquired. If he was in
trouble, he might as well know it now.

"Not at all," Skinner replied. "Unbelievable though it may sound, you were on a legitimate investigation and followed procedure the whole time. You just got
bushwacked. But everything's turned out okay."

"Yeah, Scully told me the suspect is in custody. But I don't remember the chase or even the case. She also
mentioned an agent named Chan and I don't remember him either."

"Mulder," Skinner began, then hesitated. It wasn't
really his place to ask the question that was on the
tip of his tongue, but given Agent Scully's own
medical condition perhaps she'd be better off hearing
it from a third person. "You *do* remember about you
and Agent Scully, don't you?"

"Well, sure. I mean, I remember who she *is*. Are you
referring to some particular, er, aspect of our
relationship?" Mulder asked. Please don't let him tell me we're no longer partners, he prayed to a God he wasn't sure he believed in. The way Scully had been talking, it had almost sounded like this Chan guy was his partner now.

"Do you remember about the, um, marriage?" Skinner

"Marriage?" Mulder asked weakly. Then he glanced down
at his left hand. A simple gold band on the ring
finger. That case, he thought, where they sent us out
to San Diego to that weird neighborhood and had us
pretend to be married. Certainly we're not still on
*that* case. I remember wrapping it up, getting out of there. I remember subsequent cases.  But I don't
remember the most recent case we were working on, so
maybe we've gone undercover as a married couple again. That might even explain why Scully had been so
uncharacteristically affectionate; maybe she was
trying to keep their cover up in front of the doctor.
Mulder's brain was slightly muddled, but he made an
attempt to think the situation through quickly. If he
admitted that he didn't have the slightest idea what
Skinner was talking about, they might get another male agent to play the role of Scully's "husband".  And that was, quite simply, unacceptable. "Yeah, sure, how could I forget something like that?"

"Just checking," Skinner said.  "Look, don't even tell Scully I asked, okay?"

"Sure," Mulder agreed.

Scully returned at just that moment and gave him
another one of those smiles of hers. "I'll be going
now," Skinner said. "Chan and I will handle all the
paperwork; you two try to get some rest."

"Thank you, sir," Scully replied.

Scully sat back down. She was in the chair, but let
her fingers wander gently up and down his forearms.

"Hey, Scully, there's is something that I'm afraid I
*have* forgotten."

"What's that, Mulder?"

"When's our anniversary?" he asked with a grin.

He fully expected her to give him her patented
"Scully-look" or turn the caress on his arm into a
gentle swat, but she did neither. She simply smiled
softly and said quietly, "May 16th."

"And what date is today?"

"May 30th."

"Okay," he murmured. Two weeks. He had apparently
endured two weeks of the blissful torture of
pretending to be married to his pretty partner. He was surprised she was still speaking to him. He'd nearly lost it after only six days of make-believe marriage during the Arcadia case. "Memorial Day, huh? Hope I didn't mess up the holiday weekend for us."

"We didn't have any real plans. There was a block
party that we talked about going to, maybe trying to
meet some of the neighbors, but it's no big deal that
we missed it."

"I've got more questions," he said.

"I'm sure you do, Mulder. You *always* do. But right
now, you need to rest. I'm leaving now, but I'll be
back first thing in the morning to take you home."

"Hey, Scully," he said as she got up to leave.

"Yeah, Mulder?"

"I love you."

Mulder wondered if she'd roll her eyes and say "Oh,
brother" the way she'd done the last time he'd said
the same thing in similar circumstances. Again,
however, she surprised him.

"I love you, too, Mulder," she replied. Then she
leaned down and kissed him on the lips. It wasn't a
particularly passionate kiss, but there was nothing
tentative about it, either. It was more like she'd
done it so often that kissing him had become a
pleasant but familiar routine.

"Scully?" he whispered.

"Shh!  You need to go to sleep now, Mulder. We'll talk more in the morning."

Mulder tossed and turned most of the night. In a
brief, ten-second interval two things his partner had
done two things he thought she'd *never* do: told him
she loved him and kissed him on the mouth. Had it all
been part of their cover, just pretend? He couldn't
believe Scully would do that to him! She might have
been cool at times, but she was never cruel. Did she
really mean it? He'd known for years that she cared
deeply for him, even loved him in her own way, but for her to actually say it, especially when accompanying the words with a mouth-to-mouth kiss, implied more than friendship.


As soon as he'd finished breakfast the next morning,
the doctor came to check on him. After a few more
questions and another warning not to try to force his
memories, Mulder was left alone to dress. He was just
finishing when Scully walked in.

"You ready to go home?"

"Yeah, let's get out of here."

They walked into the parking lot and got into Scully's car. "Scully, can I ask you a doctor-type question?"

"Sure, Mulder. What?"

"Isn't amnesia almost totally a creation of soap opera writers? I thought it real life it was as rare as the bubonic plague!"

"Depends what you mean by the phrase "amnesia",
Mulder. Total amnesia - the kind where a person wakes
up in a hospital bed and doesn't know his own name,
doesn't know where he grew up, can't recognize his
closest friends or relatives - is extremely rare.
There have only been about a dozen documented cases
worldwide in the past twenty years.  But that's not
what you have. You've got partial amnesia. It's much
more common. Quite often, when a person suffers a blow to the head or has a stroke, the result is a loss of recent memory. The person still knows who they are, what kind of job they have, things like that. They just can't remember what they were doing right before they got injured, don't know the names of people they've only met in the past couple of months or that sort of stuff. Don't worry about it."

"The memories *do* come back?"

"Generally speaking, especially in a case where the
memory loss is due to an external injury and the
victim is an otherwise healthy young adult. Which fits your situation to "T". In older people, or when the amnesia is due to something like a stroke, sometimes the memories are gone for good."

"Okay," he replied, mollified.


"Scully, where are we going?" Mulder asked after a few minutes. She'd said she was taking him "home". He
hadn't known if that meant her place in Georgetown or
his in Alexandria, but they'd just entered suburban

"Home," she answered, then a flicker of comprehension
floated across her face. "Oh, Mulder, I'll bet you
don't remember, right? We've only lived there a couple of weeks."

A couple of weeks, he thought. Since they began the
make-believe marriage.

"Um, no, I'm afraid I don't, Scully."

"That's okay. It will be kind of fun to show you

He nodded. When they pulled up in front of a house in
an older neighhborhood, he was surprised. This was
nice. The type of home he could envision himself
*actually* living in. Scully parked, he grabbed his
overnight bag and they walked into the house. He could hear a dog barking outside.

"Come on in, Elvis," Scully said, opening the door to
let a medium-sized mutt bound into the kitchen.
"Daddy's home safe and sound."

Mulder didn't know which shocked him more. The fact
that the dog obviously knew him or the fact that
Scully would do something so disgustingly cutesy-pie
as refer to him as "Daddy" when talking to the dog.

"Er, Scully. . .?"

"You don't remember Elvis?" she asked.

"No. Although he obviously remembers me." Personally,
Mulder thought it was a bit cruel to bring a dog into
a household simply to give their cover more
authenticity. The poor animal seemed to really like
both of them and would undoubtedly be heartbroken when he had to be returned to an animal shelter. But maybe a dog was an absolutely necessary part of their cover. Maybe this neighborhood was being stalked by a serial killer whose victims had all been couples with dogs.

"Come on, I'll show you around the house."

"Scully, I think I'd really rather rest for a bit
first." He was beginning to suffer from  sensory

"Okay, then. The master bedroom's upstairs."

As they walked into the hallway and climbed the
stairs, Mulder glanced around. The place really was
nice. Homey. Comfortable. They entered the first
bedroom they came to and Mulder kicked off his shoes
and stretched out on the king-size bed. Almost as a
reflex action, he grinned at Scully and asked, "Want
to join me for a nap?"

He nearly fainted when she smiled and said, "Sounds
like a good idea. I am sort of sleepy." Then kicked
off her own shoes and climbed up beside him.

Mulder tried to stifle a groan as Scully snuggled up
close to him. "Um, Scully, when I was injured. . .er,
were you there, too?" He'd reached the point where a
head injury or accidental ingestion of some sort of
behavior-altering drug were about the only things he
could possibly attribute her very unScullylike
behavior to."

"No, Mulder, I was back at the lab. Why?"

"Just wondered," he murmured. 

Within moments, Scully was asleep, a soft smile on her face. Mulder, on the other hand, had never felt more awake. One particular part of his body was on full alert status, as a matter of fact!  As much as he was enjoying all this cuddling, he needed to figure out what was going on here.  So he slowly eased her arm off him and slid off the bed.

Mulder avoided the dresser and nightstand, which were
both near the bed. Opening the drawers in those would
probably wake Scully up. Instead, he crossed to the
other side of the bedroom and slid open the mirrored
doors to one side of the double closet. This side was
obviously his. It contained several suits, a couple of pairs of jeans and a dozen or so shirts, along with both running shoes and dress shoes on the floor.

He walked over to the other side of the closet and
hesitated. Opening Scully's side of the closet seemed
almost like a violation of her privacy, but his
curiousity got the better of him. He slid the doors
open and encountered basically the same type of
clothes, although there were more of them. Several
suits he remembered seeing Scully wear to work, jeans, sundresses, blouses, all that sort of thing, plus half a dozen pairs of shoes. The shoes were stacked neatly in boxes on the floor, of course, not simply tossed into the closet the way his own shoes were. One dress did seem kind of puzzling though; it was blue, a color Scully often wore, but its tailoring seemed all wrong for her. It was a loose fitting almost caftan-type dress, which didn't seem her style at all. For some odd reason, the dress brought to mind a thought of Tara Scully, Bill Junior's wife. Had Tara worn the dress once, decided she didn't like it, and so given it to her sister- in-law? No, it was brand new; in fact it still had a price tag on it, so had obviously never been worn. Maybe something Scully purchased for the undercover operation?

The bathroom door was next to the closet, so Mulder
walked in there next. It was fairly spacious, although not opulently so. He noticed bubble bath and shampoo on the shelf in the tub and noted with amusement that there were two tubes of toothpaste in the medicine cabinet; one was his usual brand, squeezed in the middle, while the other, neatly rolled up from the bottom, was obviously Scully's.

Walking quietly back through the bedroom to avoid
wakening Scully, Mulder stepped out into the
unfamiliar territory of the hall. The next room he
came to was completely empty, which he thought was
odd. Maybe they were planning on setting up
surveillance equipment in there or something. Then
there was another bathroom, but this one obviously
didn't get much use. Then a third bedroom. This one
seemed to be set up more like a guest room. There was
a bed and a dresser, but all the drawers were empty.
The closet held a few boxes; he opened one and saw
that it contained old yearbooks and photo albums; the
kind of stuff nobody ever wants to get rid off, but
which nobody really needs to have easily accesible,

Mulder walked back into the hall and paused in the
doorway of the master bedroom. Scully was still
sleeping, although her dress had shifted position,
exposing her legs almost to the very top of her
thighs. The urge to go back and lay beside her, run
his hand up her thigh, was almost overwhelming, but he resisted. Instead, he turned and headed downstairs.

The kitchen he'd already seen, briefly, but now he
opened cupboards and the refrigerator, finding them
surprisingly well-stocked. Of course, he admitted to
himself, the way I live almost any kitchen would would fit that description. There were both a small
breakfast nook and a larger formal dining room
attached to the kitchen. Next was a large, spacious
living room containing a couch, chairs, coffee table
and an expensive home entertainment system. He flipped through the videos. Sci-fi and chick flicks, about what you'd expect in a married couple's home. None of those videos that weren't his, though. Apparently Scully thought it wouldn't be in keeping with their image of suburban domestic bliss, although from what he'd read in some of his magazines, plenty of couples liked to watch that stuff together, at least the soft-focus kind.

Mulder walked down the hallway and opened two more
doors. One was a compact half-bath, the other was a
closet. Finally, having made a circuit of the lower
floor, he was near the stairs again when he noticed a
final door. He opened it up to find it was . . .home.
The room seemed to be a study or den; it had a
computer, floor-to-ceiling bookshelves lining the back wall, another small desk and a filing cabinet, It also had his old black couch, his "I Want to Believe" poster from the office and a dozen other items that were instantly familiar. What actually drew his attention the most, however, was an item that he couldn't remember seeing before. It was a picture of himself and Scully. Although they were dressed in their usual business clothes, they were smiling into each other's eyes. He stared, almost mesmerized, at it, realizing he'd never seen a picture of the two of them together before.

Curiouser and curiouser, Mulder thought. This was the
most elaborate undercover operation he'd ever seen.
What could possibly be worth going to all this trouble for? He walked over to the bookshelves and began scanning them. Books on UFOs and the paranormal, psychology textbooks, sci-fi novels, medical textbooks, historical fiction...exactly what a merger of his books and Scully's would look like. Most of the titles were familiar to him, either because they were his or from seeing them over at Scully's place.

Mulder crossed to the desk and picked up a checkbook
that was lying on it. He read the names printed at the top: Fox W. Mulder/Dana K. Scully. He flipped through the ledger, noting lots of entries for practical items like utilities, groceries and car insurance in Scully's neat handwriting, along with occasional entries for more frivolous items in his own penmanship. Strangely enough, it was this evidence of co-mingled finances, rather than Skinner's question, Scully's attitude or anything else that finally convinced him. He staggered to the couch and sat down.

This isn't some sort of elaborate undercover
operation, he thought. I'm having a dream or a
hallucination or I've stumbled into some sort of
alternative dimension where things are amazingly
similar and yet, at the same time, fundamentally
different. He'd experienced this sort of thing before. That time on the ship, for instance, where it was 1939 and he'd kissed Scully. Or the time they'd been caught in the hallucinagenic slime of a giant mushroom and he'd imagined he had an alien hiding in his bedroom.

The reason Scully had been so affectionate, so willing to lie down and cuddle up beside him was because she truly believed he was her husband. Thinking back to the conversation with the doctor the previous afternoon, he realized not a word had been said about the X-Files or about he and Scully having ever been partners. Their names and educational backgrounds were still the same, but maybe in this reality they'd never been any X-Files and he and Scully had never been partners.

Mulder wondered, vaguely, if the reason they'd never
been any X-Files was because Samantha had never been
kidnapped. Or, if she had, she'd been returned home
again, the way Cassandra Spender and Scully had been.
Of course he hoped this was true, but, strangely, he
felt no compulsion to find out immediately. His
overwhelming need was to figure out exactly what had
transpired between him and Scully.

Okay, if we were never partners, but both still worked for the bureau, that would explain how we met. If I was at Violent Crimes and she was out at Quantico, sooner or later a case would have come up that involved both of us. Free from both the restrictions against dating an agent in the same division and his obsession with aliens, Mulder could have asked Scully a normal question when they first met, like "Are you free for dinner Saturday night?" instead of "Do you believe in the existance of extra-terrestrial life?"

It still didn't explain some things though. Like. . .

"Fox?" Scully's voice called from the hallway.

"Don't call me that Scully," he said automatically, as she walked into the room.

Scully looked at him with a slightly confused
expression on her face. Damn, she looks scrumptious!
he thought. Her hair was slightly mussed and her face
was still soft with sleep. And, he realized with an
inner sigh, *this* Scully probably calls me 'Fox' all
the time!

"Uh, I'm just sort of in a Mulder-mood at the moment,
er, Dana," he said, almost stumbling over the use of
her first name.

"Okay," she said, coming to sit down beside him on the couch. RIGHT beside him, he noted with both delight and despair. If she were any closer, she'd be in his lap!

"I. . .I've got some questions I want you to answer.

"Sure, Mulder. I know this is a confusing situation
for you. What do you want to know?"

"How long have we been off the X-Files?" he asked,
fully expecting her to ask what the hell he was
talking about.

Instead she responded with, "About six weeks. You're
back at Violent Crimes. I'm back out at Quantico."

"What did we do that caused them to punish us to that
extent? The last time they tried to separate us was
back after you'd only been my partner for a year. The
most recent time, even when they took the X-Files
away, they let us remain partners. Please don't tell
me I'm working for Kersch again, and all alone this

"We didn't mess up, Mulder, and Skinner is still your
boss. Actually things have come full circle. Do you
remember the Thirteen Cult case?"


"I wish I didn't remember it either, Mulder. It was
horrible, like one of those urban legends come to
life. Both of us had nightmares about it. But you
SOARED, Mulder! You did profile after profile to
pinpoint the killers so the bureau could make arrests
and convictions. God only knows how many lives you
saved. I was so proud of you!"

"Why are you saying "you", Scully? Weren't you on the
case with me?"

"Technically, yes. You were chivalrous as always, of
course, and tried to make sure I got half the credit.
Just like you've always tried to make sure I got none
of the blame when we screwed up. I did some work in
the labs and it did help with locating some of the
killers, but your profiling was the key, Mulder.
Everybody knew that. You're a hero at the bureau.
Nobody makes Spooky jokes anymore. If Kersch talks
about you at all, it's probably to say how honored he
is to have had you work for him at one time."

This is definitely either a heavy-duty drug trip or an extremely alternative dimension, Mulder thought wryly. "So, as a reward, they took me away from both the X-Files AND you? I'd hate to see what they would have done if I'd screwed up."

"The President called for the F.B.I. to form a task
force on serial killers, Mulder. The Director of the
F.B.I. personally chose you to head it up. There
wasn't anything either of us could do about it."

"They couldn't at least let you work with me on the
task force?"

"Nepotism laws, Mulder," Scully pointed out. "You're
in charge of the of the task force. All the other
agents on it are under your direct supervision, as
much as you and I were under Skinner's. Letting us
continue to work as partners after our marriage was
already pushing the boundaries. Putting us in a
position where you'd be my boss was simply impossible. Even if *they* would have allowed it, I wouldn't have done it. I'm not about to start saying "yes, sir" to you when you ask me to do something!"

Mulder chuckled at that. "No, I don't suppose you
are, Scully."

"I still do analyses and autopsies and stuff for your
team," she said. "Other women have husbands who send
them flowers and love notes; I've got one who sends me dead bodies with notes to see if I can find out what killed them ASAP!"

"I don't ever send you flowers?"

"Aw, of course you do, Mulder! I'm just teasing. I get flowers and corpses," she said with a smile, leaning in to kiss him lightly.

This had gone far enough, Mulder realized with
something like panic. Now she really *was* in his lap!

"Scully, I'm not me. I'm not Mulder."

"Who are you then? The Alien Bounty Hunter? Eddie Van

"No," he said with a sigh, shaking his head. "I'm me,
but I'm just not. . .me. I'm not your husband. This is a dream or a hallucination or a time warp or an
alternative dimension or something!"

Mulder didn't know exactly what he expected from
Scully after his announcement. Tears, maybe. Or a
refusal to believe him. What he got, however, was

"Mulder, you are SO you! That statement is completely, utterly YOU! Your refusal to accept a scientific, medical reason for what's happening and attributing it to something looney is what you always do!  You're saying you don't remember us being married?"

"That's *exactly* what I'm saying, Scully!"

"Mulder, you've got partial amnesia. It's just a
little more far-reaching than I'd first assumed. I
thought you'd lost only lost a couple of months;
apparently you've lost a couple of years."

"We've been married for two years?"

"No, only one. I told you in the hospital. Our first
anniversary was a couple of weeks ago."

"I thought it was an undercover operation. Like that
time in San Diego. When you told me the date we got
married, but it was earlier in the same month, I just
assumed that's when we began the. . .deception ," he

"So you remember that case, huh? Do you remember what
names we used?"

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