Sent: Monday, April 23, 2001 12:18 AM

A Simple Complication(1/2)

Author: Sally Bahnsen <>

Date: April 2001

Rating: PG-15 (language throughout and slightly adult situations at the

Category: S, MT, UST, MSR(eventually), XF

Spoilers: This is one big spoiler for Jersey Devil. A small mention of

Disclaimer-- Mulder and Scully and all other recognisable characters
belong to CC and 1013. I don't own them and I don't want to, I could
never afford to maintain them. When I'm finished playing, I promise to
hand them back.

All 12 parts can be found at my website:-

Summary-- Mulder suffers what he believes is a minor injury during
Stakeout duty. Ignoring it, he convinces Scully to accompany him to New Jersey
To investigate what he hopes is an X file. Mulder realises too late that
His minor injury may not be as trivial as he first thought.

Author's notes: I first put words to paper for this story in November,
1999. So, as you can see it's taken me 16 long months to complete.
Unfortunately it's not because this is a work of brilliance, but
rather, because I'm a slow writer. I have to give many, many thanks to
my team of betas who have helped me to complete this. First to Ten and
Judy, who regularly asked me if I'd written anymore and when I said no,
just kept on telling me not to worry, but hurry up and get on with it.
Thankyou to Vickie Moseley who's words of encouragement are always kind
and make me feel as if what I'm writing might be okay. A special,
special thank you to Peg, who came aboard at the just the right time and
helped me get through the paramedic and hospital scenes, where I was
hoplessly stuck. Thank you to my punctuation nazi: Laurie, who showed
me the 3 billion places that needed commas. (okay, slight exageration,
but you get the picture.) And a huge thank you to Suzanne who went over
this with a fine toothed comb and had the guts to tell me all the places
I was going wrong<G> I owe you big time! And I would like to thank my
friend, Dawn. Whenever I read her stories, my first thought is 'who am
I kidding, thinking I can write?' But after getting over that, I find
that what I am reading usually inspires me to try harder and do better.
Thanks, Dawn. And thanks to all the many talented fanfic writers who
have kept the X files alive while Mulder has been gone. This story is
about Mulder and Scully together, as a team. And it has an awful lot of
gratuitious MT and Scullycomfort. Because, when it's all said and
done, that's how I like to see them.

Feedback will be lovingly treasured and answered.


A Simple Complication 1/12

By Sally Bahnsen

Friday, June 2, 2000


One of my English professors once lectured me about boredom. "You know,
Mr Mulder," he said, "a man's life can be wasted in many different ways,
but none is quite as debilitating as in the form of boredom. 'Risk is
what separates the good part of life from the tedium.,'" he quoted at
me. "A very useful phrase, Mr Mulder. Remember it. Live by it. Don't
allow others to prevent you from achieving your full potential simply
because they refuse to take a risk. Boredom wilts the soul, Mr Mulder.
Mark my words."

Of course, at the time I had no idea what he was talking about. Life at
Oxford was full and satisfying. I studied hard, I played hard. The
world was my oyster. Perhaps my English professor was psychic. Perhaps
he saw something in me that I hadn't recognised in myself. When I
joined the FBI my life continued on in much the same vein. I didn't
know what boredom meant. Until I took the wrong turn somewhere along
the road to success and managed to piss off my superiors. It was then I
discovered in the worst possible way exactly what my professor meant. I
hate him for it. I don't blame him, but somehow I feel he cursed me
that day. His words come back to haunt me whenever I find myself in any
situation that forces me into a state of inactivity for any length of

Today is no different. I pray for something - *anything* - that will
relieve me from the boredom that is currently not only wilting my soul,
but shrivelling it up into something completely dry and lifeless...

Pick up laundry. Return books to the library. Buy fish food. Invite
the guys over to watch reruns of Deep Space Nine. Now that has

I run a mental checklist through my mind, ticking off what I need to do
after work, then stretch back in the driver's seat and clasp my hand
over my mouth, trying to hold back a yawn.

I check my watch for the twenty-ninth time and sigh in weary
frustration. Okay, so maybe this is my fault. I don't mind taking the
rap for the unfortunate situation that Scully and I are currently
enduring. But, sheesh, Skinner really could have cut me a little slack
here. It was all a misunderstanding. A glitch, a hiccup, a lapse in
memory. Call it what you will.

Hell, maybe I was drugged.

I could have sworn I'd filled out that 302. I had every intention of
signing my hot little monogram on the dotted line. I guess I just

So, one ass reaming, and three hours later, Scully and I are still
sitting in the car staring plaintively at the rearview mirror in the
hope of getting some action soon. No one is even sure if this is the
right guy. They *think* he's involved in some sort of stolen car
racket, moving them across state lines and into the hands of the big
time criminals.

Another yawn escapes, and this time I don't bother to hide it. Yep.
There have got to be better, more productive things I could be doing
with my time.

There hasn't been a peep out of this guy. The house is so quiet I'm
beginning to wonder if there's even anybody inside and this isn't just
some spiteful ploy by Skinner to get me out of his hair-- figuratively
speaking of course--for a few hours.


It's been two long weeks since anything even remotely resembling an
X-File has come across my desk. Who can blame a guy for trying to find
something meaningful and worthwhile to fill his working hours?

Daily visits, sometimes twice or three times, to our Imperial boss's
office did not produce the required results. He had nothing for me.
Nothing except paper shuffling, report writing, and expense
reconciliations. Like three or four months worth. The only reaction I
got from Skinner were the 'placatory' tones of, "Well, Agent Mulder, why
don't you take advantage of this lull in activity and try getting that
backlog of paperwork completed and on my desk by Thursday morning."
Trust me, there was nothing friendly in the way he delivered the
message. I was left with no doubt in my mind that he was issuing an
order and there'd be hell to pay should I ignore it.

I didn't ignore it.

Not exactly. Not in the Websters Dictionary interpretation of the word
'ignore.' I just kind of got distracted. I found an X-File. Yeah,
okay, it was in the National Enquirer, but hell, surely some of the
stuff they print is true. Isn't it? Well, as Scully would say, I ran
off half-cocked, then wham, bam, thank you ma'am, the deadline for my
paperwork came, and went, and now here we are, tucked up nice and cosy
in a surveillance vehicle.

Did I mention that my partner is severely pissed at me? Not so much
from the point of view of being forced to do stakeout duty, although
that initially went down like a lead balloon--only serving to bolster
her already frayed mood. It's something else that I did. Once again
totally accidental.

I was down to my last handful of sunflower seeds. That was after the
first hour. We'd been talking. Actually, I was doing the talking,
Scully was in one of those less-than-communicative moods. I happened to
be biting down on a sun flower seed at precisely the wrong moment. As I
spoke, the husk shot from my mouth and landed in the air conditioning
vent. It was brilliant. It would never have happened in a million
years if I'd planned it. I turned to Scully expecting to see
admiration. What I saw was a look that didn't quite give the impression
that she'd stood in dog poop, although it was close. No, that look was
still coming.

Being pretty impressed with myself I told her to watch and I'd do it
again. I should have quit while I was ahead. I bit down on the husk
and prepared to blow it from my mouth. I miscalculated and it shot off
the side of my tongue and straight into Scully's hair. That's when I
got the 'new improved look,' the one that said she had not only stood in
the dog poop, but traipsed it all through her apartment as well.

I apologized profusely. I even promised to write all the reports for
the next two months as well as finish the surplus from the previous
three or four. She was unmoved. So, consequently, we have passed the
last two hours in stony, monosyllabic, silence.

"Mulder!" She pokes me in the ribs. Forgiveness?

"Look. Cantlon's heading this way," she whispers to me as if the
suspect is going to hear us through the layers of bullet-proof glass and
reinforced metal.

I sit up a little straighter in my seat, craning my neck to get a better
look in the mirror. Scully observes our man through the sideview.

"Dammit," she curses softly under her breath. "I think he's seen us."

Yep. The guy takes one look at the car, our car -- the plain, black car
that screams, 'look at me, I'm spying on you,' parked four doors down
the street from where he is residing -- does a double take, then a
runner, right back in the direction of his house.

"Hallelujah." I sigh under my breath. Action. I reach for the door,
throw it open and prepare to alight. That is until I feel something
tugging on the back of my jacket.

"Mulder! Where are you going?" She hisses at me.

Sometimes I wonder about Scully and her powers of deduction.

"He's getting away, Scully. I'm going to stop him." I jerk forward,
out of her grip.

"You can't. We need back up."

"You're right," I tell her reasonably. "Why don't you call it in."
Then I'm off. Feet thundering on the pavement, arms pumping, chest
heaving. Man, it feels good to be *doing* something.

I head off after Cantlon. He has a start on me but I'm about 6 inches
taller, ten years younger and around 20 or 30 pounds lighter. I don't
think he's going to be getting too far.

I reach the driveway and stop, getting my bearings and trying to catch
sight of him.


His house is suburban and ordinary. A single story structure wrapped in
white clapboard. A porch stretches across the front and winds around
the corner. The yard is neat, the grass clipped. Baskets of flowers
hang from the eaves above the wooden railing enclosing the porch. I see
nothing that offers a hiding place.

I cautiously make my way towards the side of the house. The driveway
continues along its length, stopping at a waist high steel gate,
separating the front yard from the back.

"Mulder!" Scully runs towards me, her coat flapping behind her like a
cape belonging to a cartoon superhero. The faint sound of sirens are
playing in the background. Back up. "Where is he?"

I open my mouth to answer but am interrupted by an earth shattering
scream. His wife? Girlfriend? A hostage? The sound of breaking glass
follows close behind the scream. Scully and I look at each other,
then, reading our respective expressions, take off in different
directions. She moves to the front door and I race off towards the back
yard, the gate no obstacle for me as I hurdle it and continue on my way.

I skid to a halt at the corner of the house, drag my weapon from its
holster, pull my arms close to my body and point the muzzle to the sky
in readiness to round the corner and take aim.

One, two, three. I count soundlessly in my head then step from my cover
and extend my arms straight out in front of me.


Shit. Pain ripples along my arms and the gun is sent flying through the
air, coming to rest some twenty feet from where I am standing. Damn
it! I wonder if I included loss and damage reports in my rash promise
to Scully?

Something whizzes past my ear. I glare at the man before me. The man,
mirroring my own defensive stance. Except for one thing. He has a
baseball bat, I am unarmed. I curse a long string of very inventive and
if I do say so myself, very creative expletives.

How the hell do I keep getting myself into these situations? For once,
just once in my life I would like to have an arrest go down by the
book. I know it's possible. I've seen Sipowitz do it on NYPD Blue.
Wait. Bad example. That guy is a complete nutcase, a censure waiting
to happen. Who's the blond guy? The one that replaced Simone? Now
he's got style. I'd like to get an arrest happening like him.

WHOOSH. I side step a double swing. One aimed at my stomach, the other
at my head. The action is a little too close for comfort. I eye my
weapon longingly, calculating the chances of diving on it and rolling
into a position to fire before I am used for batting practice.

I lick my lips, then make my move, lunging for my weapon.

There are certain things I do well, and certain things I really struggle
with. I run with the grace of a gazelle, I swim like a fish, my
profiling skills are renowned throughout the FBI. But when it comes to
fighting...well, lets just say things don't quite happen the way I
anticipate. Today is no exception.

As I leap towards the gun, my coat somehow entangles itself in my legs,
upsetting my finely-tuned timing and sending me sprawling to the ground,
laid out flat on my stomach. My right hand is stretched in front of me,
sliding along the dirt gathering tiny bits of gravel under the skin.


That, however, is the least of my worries. I turn onto my side just in
time to see Cantlon raise the bat above his head ready for the downward
swing. Instinct takes over and I roll to the left as the bat crashes to
the ground, throwing Cantlon off balance. I take advantage of the
situation and scramble to my feet, using the momentum to propel myself
forward, wrapping my arms around Cantlon's chest and allowing my weight
to carry us both to the ground.

My luck is still with me. My bad luck. I feel Cantlon grunt as our
bodies hit the ground, a gush of hot breath rushes past my ear and the
rancid smell of garlic fills my nostrils. But those are just peripheral
sensations. What really grabs my attention is the agonizing pain
shooting through my right thigh. Somehow, with the utmost precision
that only I am capable of achieving, the bat has become wedged between
our bodies, ramming itself with the full force of our weight right into
the fleshy part of my thigh, just above the knee.

Aaah! Fuuuushiiiieeet! I bite down hard on my lip to keep from crying
out. What I'd really like to be doing is hollering at the top of my
lungs, but a man has to maintain some sort of dignity. Underneath me
Cantlon continues to puff and grunt his foul breath inches from my
nose. But I don't move. I can't move. Not yet.

"Sir? Sir, are you all right?" Hands. Strong hands. On my
shoulders. Pulling. Lifting me. Rolling me on my back. This time I
lose the fight at heroic stoicism and let out a low growl from the back
of my throat as the movement sends a sharp, piercing pain through my

Who is this guy, and why is he touching me? What about Cantlon? He'll
get away!

"Agent Mulder?" Huh? He knows my name?

I open my eyes.

"Who the hell are you?" I demand. Okay, so my manners could use some
work, but too bad, my leg hurts and I don't feel like playing nice.

"Um...uh...Special Agent Keith Simmons. Agent Mulder? Your partner,
Agent Scully, she said you might need some help. Guess she was right."
He answers timidly.

I twist my head to get a better look at this guy. *He* is an FBI
agent? Are they grabbing them straight out of high school these days?

Suddenly I feel very old. And for some reason that really pisses me

"Help me up." I stretch out my arm and grab Agent 'whats-his-name's'
hand. It's at about this time that I notice two uniformed cops
dragging Cantlon to his feet and escorting him to the front of the

I stand up, balancing on one leg, waiting for the thudding ache to

"Sir, would you like me to get you some medical assistance?"

I test my leg, tentatively putting some weight on it. Yeah, I've had
this sensation before. Nothing too serious; my guess is it's just a
bruised muscle. Not the first time I've had one of those. I'll live.

"Sir, shall I..."

"No! No. I'm fine. Thanks." I give him a sheepish grin.

"I saw what happened, but you got in the line of fire before I could
wing him. You were lucky he missed your head."

Oh yeah. I'm lucky all right. This has been about the luckiest day in
my life. Maybe I'll go and buy a lottery ticket to celebrate!

I take a couple of limping steps. Yep, getting better all the time.
Perhaps I'll even be able to keep this whole incident from Scully.

Hmmm. I eye 'wonder boy' warily. He's staring at me with a mixture of
wide eyed fascination and puzzlement. I decide to put him at ease and
flash him a reassuring grin as I drape my arm conspiratorially around
his shoulder. I figure I need to have a little 'man-to-man' chat with
him about keeping his mouth shut.

"Um, Ken. Can I call you Ken?"


"Excuse me?"

"My name is Keith, not Ken." Right. Not a good start.

"Sorry. Keith. I wonder if you'd do me a favor?"


"Look, how about we keep this little fiasco just between ourselves. I'd
rather my partner didn't know about the bat thing. You
know what I mean?"

"No, sir." Damn. This isn't going to be as easy as I thought.

"It's just, well, you know how women get. They think you're injured,
they get all worried, start hovering, making silly, irrational demands
about going to the Emergency Room..." I pause, waiting for the words to
sink in.

Aah, there it is. Suddenly the light bulb clicks on and the kid smiles
knowingly. Progress!

"Sir, I think I know what you mean. My girlfriend, she's the same. If
I come home from work with so much as a paper cut she starts fussing and
carrying on."

Atta boy.

"So, mum's the word then," I say winking and holding my index finger
over my lips for added effect. I give him a couple of 'male-bonding'
claps on the back and head towards the front of the house to find

"Sir! Agent Mulder, sir." I hear Ken's voice ringing out from behind
me. Now what?

"Your gun. You forgot your gun."

Dammit. I've really got to do a better job at looking after my weapon.

"Thanks, Ken. This really is my lucky day." I squeeze out through
gritted teeth.




One look at Scully and I feel my resolve shrivel. The minute I step
from the corner of the house I know she has me pegged.

"What the hell happened to you?" she asks, running her eyes over my body
from head to toe.

"Uh...nothing. Nothing at all. Ke...Keith and I were just finishing up
out back." I explain, pointing to the thankfully retreating form of
Agent Simmons.

"And?" She presses.

"And what?" I ask innocently.

"Mulder! You're filthy. Look at your clothes. *And* you are limping."

I am?

"Oh, that. I fell when I tackled Cantlon. It's no big deal." I shrug.

"You fell?"


"Well, you know, Mulder, there's falling and then there's falling.
Which did you do?"

What the...? She's gotta be kidding, right?

I stop walking and turn around to face her. I place my hands on her
shoulders and gaze seriously into her eyes, then, very quietly reply, "I
fell." With that, I turn on my heel and stride purposefully towards the

"How did you fall? Did..."

"Jeezus, Scully!" I cut her off. "How does anyone one fall? I lost my
balance, gravity took over and I hit the ground."

"Hmmm. Lost your balance." She seems to consider this for awhile then
asks, "Were you dizzy?"

"No! I wasn't dizzy. I tripped. I fell. Plain and simple. Now, can
we drop it, please?"

This time when I resume my walk to the car I keep going. I'm sure I can
still hear her mumbling under her breath, but I am not hanging around to
continue the argument. My leg is aching, my hand is stinging and all I
want to do is get back to the office and forget this morning ever

End of part one

feedback to <>


A Simple Complication Part 2

By Sally Bahnsen

Disclaimer in part one

Basement Office

Friday 2:00 p.m.

I nudge the basement door open with my shoulder, struggling to maintain
the precarious hold I have on the various literary journals balanced in
my arms and the brown paper bag clenched in my teeth. I head over to
where Scully is working at her computer and release the parcel from my
mouth like a dog presenting it's master with a ball to play with.

"Where the hell have you been and what is *that*?" she whines at me.

"Lunch, Scully. Two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese,
pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun!" I sing at her.

She looks like she wants to vomit.

"Only kidding." I reassure her. "That was my lunch. Yours is:
lettuce, cucumber and sprouts, on low fat, gluten free, fibre enhanced
rye. No butter, margarine, mayo, mustard, salt, or anything else that
might resemble taste."

Her face lights up with pure delight.

I screw up my nose in disgust. "I don't know how you can eat that
stuff, Scully, let alone enjoy it!"

"Mulder, when you're lying in hospital recovering from triple bypass
surgery *then* you'll know how I can eat this." She replies, pulling
the sandwich from the brown paper bag.

"Save the lecture for someone who cares, Scully. Your scare tactics are
not gonna work on me." I say, holding my hand up to ward off any
further health care sermons she feels I need to hear.


What? Surely she can't be upset about that.

"What's the matter?" I ask, confused.

"Your hand. What happened?"

My hand?

Scully covers the space between us in four quick steps, snatches my hand
with her own and turns it over to inspect the palm. She seems oblivious
to the fact that she's just sent three or four fine literary journals
tumbling to the floor.

"My God, Mulder. You're an infection waiting to happen. Look at all
this dirt under your skin. Did this happen this morning, when you

Ow, yeah. Come to think of it my hand is stinging. I guess in all the
excitement at finding something that really does qualify as an X File,
I'd forgotten about the gravel rash blazed across the palm of my hand.

"Why didn't you say something?" She glares at me angrily as if this is
some secret conspiracy I've attempted to hide from her. Close. The
real conspiracy is the constant throbbing in my thigh.

"I'm thirty-nine years old, I've endured gunshot wounds, exposure to
alien viruses, numerous concussions and you expect me to come running to
you over a grazed hand like some overgrown toddler?"

"Well, Mulder, if the shoe fits..." She smirks at me.

"Ha. Ha. You're a regular comedian. Now, give me my hand back. I've
got work to do."

She lets go then returns to her desk, ducking down behind it and
reaching for something that I can't quite see stashed at the back of her

She bobs up and plonks a first aid kit on her desk.

"Geez Scully, have you got those things planted all over the Northern
Hemisphere?" I snap at her.

She ignores my comment.

"We need to get that wound cleaned up."

Wound. She calls this little scratch a wound?

"Sit, Mulder. I'll be back in a minute." She disappears through the
door not even bothering to check if I am complying with her orders.
When did I become so easy to boss around?

I stoop down and gather up the magazines scattered across the floor.

Heaving a deep sigh, I drop into my chair and start flicking through the
pages while I wait. Just like a regular waiting room in a regular
doctor's office, I muse to myself.

Scully returns in a few minutes armed with a bowl of water. Where the
hell does she find these things? Is it some secret doctor code that
just enables her to sense where medical supplies are hidden? She grabs
the First Aid kit on her way past, totally ignoring the sandwich that I
went to so much trouble to buy.

"What are you reading?" She asks as she disentangles the fingers of my
right hand from around the pages of the magazine. The tabloid wilts and
caves in on itself, making it impossible to read the print. I close it
and lay it to rest on the pile with the others.

"A magazine."

She looks at me. That's all it is, a look. But it's enough to send
certain parts of my male anatomy crawling up inside me for cover.

"I know that, Mulder. What's in it that you find so interesting?"

She returns to her task and begins unpacking her tools from the kit.
Gauze, tweezers, antiseptic, sticking plaster, all lined up neatly on
top of my desk.

"What are you doing this weekend, Scully?" I ask as she pulls my hand
close to her breast, holding it under the light to get a better look.

"Why?" She asks, not looking up.

"How does a little trip to New Jersey sound?"

This time she raises her head and looks at me from under a stray strand
of hair that has fallen across her eyes. She puffs it out of the way
and eyes me suspiciously.

"It sounds like trouble, coming from you, Mulder."

She turns her attention back to my hand and starts rubbing vigorously at
the graze with the gauze and antiseptic. She picks up the tweezers and
begins an enthusiastic excavation of the little specks of gravel.

"Hey! Watch it, Scully. That's live flesh and blood you're digging into
there." I shift an inch or two in my seat to keep from yanking my hand
from her grip.

"Spill it, Mulder. What's the sudden interest in New Jersey?"

I reach for the magazine I'd been reading and hold it up triumphantly,
for her to see.


Her expression is a mixture of pained disbelief and blatant disgust.

"Oh, Mulder, " she groans. "Please tell me this is a sick joke."

I hold her gaze.

"No. You can't be serious. Have you checked the name of that
publication? 'National Enquirer.' It's a load of crap. Remember this
morning? Getting bawled out in Skinner's office? Stakeout duty? Didn't
you learn anything from that?" Her face is scrunched up in an
frustrated frown.

I calmly place the magazine back on the desk and reach for another. I
hold it up so she can clearly see the front cover. The same picture as
the one on the National Enquirer stares back at her.

"So? What is your point?" she asks.

You're a hard woman, Scully.

"New Jersey Reporter. A reputable magazine, and they are running the
same story. As is another well known hunting journal, 'Open Season New

"All I see is a bunch of hysterical reporters each fueling the other's
fear and convincing themselves that this thing is real. We've already
travelled this route, Mulder, and proven it to be nothing more than an
anomaly of nature."

"Well, actually, that was never proven and I'm not disagreeing with you
on that. I don't believe that what is being reported here is the work
of the 'Jersey Devil.'"

"You don't think this is an X File?" She sounds both puzzled and

"Oh yes. This is an X file. I'm certain of it. But not in the way you
are thinking."

She turns back to my hand and plucks at the last remnants of gravel.
She sits back and admires her handiwork, frowning as she seems to
consider my last words then lifts her head to speak to me again.

"All right, Mulder, what's *your* theory?"

"I thought you'd never ask!" I grin at her.

Scully sticks a bandage over the graze on my hand and lets it go. I
take the opportunity to make my escape, fully intending to head to the
filing cabinet and retrieve a folder. That is, until I straighten my
leg to stand. A tight, crampy, pain clenches at the muscle in my thigh
and my forward motion is halted as my leg gives way and I collapse back
in my chair.

"Mulder?" I hear Scully's concerned voice.

"Cramp." I grind out.

My hands are pried loose from my leg and I feel Scully's strong fingers
digging into my flesh, massaging the knot with one hand and pulling my
leg out straight with the other.

Eventually she succeeds and I start breathing again. Shit. Now, that
was an intense ten seconds that seemed to last a life time.

"Better now?" She asks.

I nod my head and offer a husky, "thanks."

"What happened, Mulder?" She still has one hand resting on my knee as
she squats before me.

"I don't know. It just hit me when I stood. Must've been all that
exercise I got this morning chasing Cantlon." I deflect her questioning
with the usual flair that I have developed over the last seven years.

"You were limping when you came back, does this have anything to do with
your fall?" Either I'm slipping or she's waking up to me. My flair
just let me down big time.

"Scully." A little reassuring chuckle. "No. I'm fine, really. It was
just a cramp. Guess I'm a little out of shape. Now where were we?"

I stand and this time make a very determined effort to keep the limp out
of my walk. Not as easy as I'd hoped. The dull ache of earlier has
become a sharp pain with each step I take.

I find the file I need in a couple of minutes and return to my desk
sinking gratefully into my chair. Scully is busying herself with
packing away the medical supplies but still manages to watch me from the
corner of her eye.

I pretend not to notice.

The file has streaks of black smudged across it's cover. A stark
reminder of how close we came to losing everything in the fire. This
was one of the few files that managed to remain relatively undamaged.

"I'm still waiting for your theory, Mulder. And it better be good."

The first aid kit has magically returned to its former hiding place and
Scully is back behind her desk unravelling her sandwich from its paper
covering. I guess my efforts at lunchtime weren't wasted after all.

"Okay. It goes something like this. Bodies have been turning up in a
New Jersey state forest. The cadavers have bits missing. Part of a
leg, part of an arm. All gnawed off." I pause for dramatic effect.

No response. Scully sits there chewing on her sandwich staring at me.
So, I'm failing miserably as a showman as well. That fits in perfectly
with all the other things I have successfully failed at today.

"Gnawed off, Scully." I reiterate. "As in eaten, chewed, bitten."

"Go on." She encourages, not in the least bit phased.

"Well, doesn't that remind you of anything?"

"I thought you said we weren't going down that path, Mulder? This is
not the Jersey Devil. And if you are sitting there suggesting

"No. I'm not suggesting the Jersey Devil per se. I'm suggesting son
of Jersey Devil, or daughter. And I don't mean Jersey Devil as in 'Big
Foot' and 'Sasquatch.' I'm talking about the woman who was killed by
the Atlantic City Police Department. You said it yourself Scully, her
uterus showed signs that she'd given birth. I think what we are seeing
here is the result of that birth. The kid. All grown up with a very
healthy appetite.

"That's quite a leap, Mulder. Why couldn't it be something as simple as
a bear or a mountain lion? Why does it have to be a wolf baby?"

"Because...bear and mountain lion don't exist where those bodies were
found. And, did I say anything about wolf babies? Although that's an
interesting point. I hadn't really considered the child may have been
raised by wild animals."

"Mulder, no."

"Think about it, Scully. The pattern is identical to that of the other
victims in 1993. Only these weren't homeless people. These were
unsuspecting hikers, caught out while walking on their own. This time
the mountain came to Mohammed. Home delivery instead of takeout. Hey
Scully, even primitive creatures are moving with the times."

I grin at her.

She glares at me.

"I'm still waiting for the punchline. You must have more than that.
What aren't you telling me?"

"All I have is a theory. What do we know for sure?" I hold up my
fingers and count off.

"One: The woman gave birth, proven from the medical examiner's report.
Two:..." I pause, this is where my argument gets weak.

"Two: Well, we don't really have a factual two but we do have a two
based on speculation. Let's assume for arguments sake that the child
was ten years old at the time..."

"Sure, Mulder, why not. Pluck any number you like out of the air and
run with that. It's about as substantial as anything else you've

I scowl at her. "You know, sarcasm does not become you, Scully."

She takes another bite of her sandwich. While her mouth is full I
continue with my theory.

"Let's say the child is sixteen or seventeen. Big enough now to go out
hunting, big enough to overpower a fully grown adult. And, okay, just
to cover some other options, the child could be anywhere from eight
years old to twenty years old, but that's unlikely. I'm going to go out
on another limb here and suggest that it could indeed have been brought
up by wolves or some other forest creature, once its mother died,
depending of course, how old it was at the time. You've got to assume
it's learnt some survival skills, either from it's parents or--and I'm
only suggesting this not setting it in concrete--from whatever type of
animal has taken care of it."

"But why come out in the open now?"

That's better, at least she's asking intelligent questions.

"Maybe its adopted parents are dead. Maybe food is running low, or it
got curious. Who can say for sure, but it's worth checking out.
Imagine what we could learn from it if it was caught alive. I don't
trust the police in Atlantic City. You saw how they hunted the woman
down like a wild animal. All that matters to them is keeping the
casinos full, the slot machines turning over and the tourists spending."

"It's a bit late for that don't you think, Mulder? They've splashed the
whole thing over the front pages of several magazines. They can hardly
keep it quiet this time." She screws up the sandwich paper into a ball
and tosses it into a wastepaper bin on the other side of the office.

"Nice shot, Scully. To answer your question: No. The press has built
this up as the work of a mythical creature, the Jersey Devil. That
legend is as old as the hills; it'll either bring in more tourists or it
will be ignored as just another crackpot report."

"Hmmm. I wonder why you didn't see it that way," she mumbles to

"And besides, Mulder. That detective...what's his name..."

"Thompson." I supply for her.

"Whatever. Whoever. He's probably got wanted posters with your face on
them plastered all over his office. I can't see him letting you just
waltz in there and start poking around. And Skinner will see you in
hell before he'd be willing to sign off on another 302 based on a
tabloid story."

"Scully, you are so right. And that's why I'm not going to go through
official channels or deal with the local police. I'm going to take some
personal time, mosey on up to New Jersey and take in the sights. I hear
the woods are looking great this time of the year. Care to join me?"

Scully buries her head in her hands. I've got her, I know I've got
her. She won't be able to resist this. Her scientific mind will not
allow her to pass this up.

"No, Mulder. I'm not going."


"I'm not spending my weekend in some two-bit motel stuck out in the boon
docks of New Jersey. Sorry, Mulder."

"All right, Scully. What will it take to change your mind?"


End Part 2 <>


A Simple Complication Part 3

By Sally Bahnsen

Disclaimer in part one

Interstate 95

Friday 8 p.m.

"I mean it, Mulder. Four stars or we turn back to D.C. now."

"Scully. I promised, didn't I? When have I ever broken a promise?" I
ask with mock indignation.

"Hmph. Maybe not *broken* your promises, Mulder, but you've sure bent
them out of shape often enough."

"Trust, Scully, whatever happened to trust?"

"Trust no one, Mulder. And when it comes to motel accommodation, that
includes you."

I shake my head in disbelief. I can't understand what her problem is.
Do I not provide a place of rest that offers all the comforts of home?
Television, couch, table to work on, even a bed. Women! I could
dedicate a whole section of the X-Files just to attempting to
understand how their minds work.

"So what exactly is it you hope to achieve out of this little trip to
the woods?" Scully asks as she idly picks at a loose thread on her

"I thought I explained all that. We're going to try and find the kid
before the authorities do. They may not be worried about keeping this
quiet but I'm pretty sure they'll be working around the clock to solve
it by whatever means prove expedient. And you can be fairly certain
they are not going to be concerning themselves with the finer points of

"Okay, let's assume we find this kid, if it is indeed a child that we
are looking for. What then? Do you think it will just allow itself to
be caught and taken into captivity?"

"I don't know. But I do know we have to try. I'm not going to let them
hunt it down like some kind of rabid dog."

"Mulder, maybe that's exactly what we're looking for. Nothing more than
a wild animal. Where's your proof that the killer is even human?"

"Well, Scully, that's the point of our trip. To gather evidence and
prove our case." I grin at her.

She heaves a sigh, turns to look out the window then shifts her
attention back to me.

"And a spa, Mulder."

"Excuse me?"

"I want a spa in the room. If I'm going to be trekking all over the New
Jersey State Forest, I at least want to be able to soak in a nice hot
tub when we're done."

And she says I make leaps.

"Only the best for you, Scully."

"And I want to eat dinner in a real restaurant. One where you get to
sit down and choose from a menu, and the food actually has some
nutritious value."

"Are you suggesting that McDonalds is nutritionally challenged?"

The look tells me she is. And she manages it without even moving an

"Your wish is my command." I say, weaving my hand through the air in an
exaggerated bow.

"Shut up, Mulder, and watch the road."

Lucky Stars Motel

12:35 a.m.

Maybe if we had left for this trip yesterday, or tomorrow, or perhaps
next century, I wouldn't be caught in this vortex of bad luck that
seems to be hounding me today. Maybe if my uncle was my auntie...yadda,
yadda. yadda.

But life doesn't work like that. How was I supposed to know one of the
biggest gatherings of science fiction fans in the US was being held
right here in Atlantic City?

On arrival, all that stood out to greet us were the flashing neon lights
of 'No Vacancy' signs. We must have checked out every motel with a four
star rating in the city. Failing that, we graduated to five stars.
Nothing! Back down to three star and that was just as bad. The
temperature in the car was rapidly plummeting, and it had nothing to do
with the weather.

By 11:30 p.m: tired, hungry and completely at odds with one another, we
managed to scrape up a charming two and a half star motel on the
outskirts of town. Of course 'charming' is in the eye of the beholder.
To me, anything that didn't display the words 'No Vacancy' and offered
something horizontal to lay on and a TV with cable was looking not only
charming but downright spectacular.

My eyes were hurting from staring at the road, my neck was stiff from
avoiding eye contact with Scully, and that annoying pain in my leg was
reminding me of its presence with a little more insistence than earlier.

I snapped up the two remaining rooms with enthusiastic gusto, and as
good luck would have it-- for a change-- there was even an adjoining
door --although I am wondering at the wisdom of that, given Scully's
mood by the time we found a place to call home. But...what really
nailed it was the community bathtub just down the hall. Scully would
get to soak after all. When I told her this she didn't quite receive it
with the joy and excitement I had hoped. In fact I could have sworn
that her first reaction was to reach for her weapon.

We sorted out the rooms and I dialled a local pizza delivery. I even
let Scully choose. Tonight she introduced me to a new concept:
vegetarian pizza--up until this point in time I'd managed to avoid such
culinary delights. I guess Scully felt she was doing her bit to ward
off my apparent impending heart problems. As much as I hate to admit
it, I kind of liked the taste. The fact that she had encouraged me to
eat vegetables seemed to improve her mood and the chilly aura that had
surrounded us since checking in gradually lifted.

Scully has since retired to her own room and I am left to clear away the

I pick up the empty pizza box, fold it over and toss it in the general
direction of the tiny trash can hidden under the counter that supports
the television. On my way past I hit the 'on' switch. Immediately the
silver light from the TV screen offers some much needed extra
illumination. The insipid yellow glow from the overhead light just
isn't cutting it. A soft fuzzy noise fills the room. Oh yeah, this
motel is really living up to its meagre two and a half star rating. I
should have realised that decent television reception would be too much
to ask for.

In lieu of catching a late night movie I decide to put in some reading
before calling it a night. My briefcase is lying on the counter by the
TV. I open it and retrieve the Jersey Devil file that is resting on top
of a pile of case notes, then flop onto the bed, landing spread eagled
on my back. I fight back the urge to cough and sneeze as a cloud of
dust swirls lazily through the air. I guess that's another downside of
two and a half stars. Dust, poor lighting and a lousy TV reception.

I turn on the bedside lamp and settle back to wade through the reports
and case files dating back from 1930 up until the more recent sightings
in October last year.

But before I start on the case files there are a couple of other things
I want to check out first. So, I lay the files beside me and sift
through the assortment of computer printouts I collected this afternoon,
deciding to brush up on the general history of the Jersey Devil.

The earliest sightings date back to the 1700s. While it would seem that
differing legends place the 'Devil's' year of birth at 1735, 1778 and
1850, it is generally agreed that the birth place was Leeds Point.

Remains of the old Shourd house, where the devil was supposedly born,
can still be found in the woods today.

Hmm, I wouldn't mind taking a look at that.

Some of the earlier documented sightings of the devil include naval hero
Stephen Decatur, who in 1800, reported seeing a creature in the Hanover
iron works and fired a cannonball through it. The gaping hole had no
affect on the creature. It flew casually away.

The guy must have been a good shot.

Joseph Bonaparte, the former king of Spain and son of Napoleon, saw the
Jersey Devil while hunting on his estate near Bordentown in the early

Then there were a spate of sightings in 1909 where over one thousand
residents in thirty towns around Delaware saw the creature in January

All very interesting reading, but for now, I'm sticking with my 'wolf
boy' theory.

I drop the printouts on the floor by the bed and pick up my files.
Maybe there's something in these that I missed last time. Something
that will help me find the child before the local authorities do.


Lucky Star Motel

4:00 a.m.

Dammit! I've just about exhausted all the possibilities. One chance
left. I make my way over to the rickety wooden chair in the corner of
the room, eyes fixed on my black leather jacket draped carelessly over
the back. There's gotta be some in there. It's my last hope. I
propel myself awkwardly forward by leaning one hand on the table and
one on the counter reluctant to put my foot to the floor.

The intermittent pain in my leg has become a relentless ache, deep
inside my thigh muscle. Weight bearing isn't impossible, but it is damn

I reach for my jacket and search the outside pockets. Nothing. I delve
into the little pocket camouflaged in the lining! Twelve
Tylenol capsules wrapped nice and snug in their plastic covering. I
close my eyes and offer a silent thank you to whoever may be listening,
knowing full well that the one who really deserves the thanks is
sleeping soundly in the next room. Scully. In all likelihood these
little white gems are left over from some other forgotten time, a time
when I was suffering the effects of something a little more serious than
a bruised thigh muscle.

I pop three capsules from the blister pack, return the rest to my pocket
and head off in search of water, limping my way to the bathroom.

I wonder idly why my leg would be hurting this much. Yeah, okay, so a
baseball bat jammed into me, but hell, it wasn't that bad.

I lay back on top of the bed, drape my arm across my eyes and wait for
the painkillers to kick in. I'm not even sure I'd describe the pain as
a throb anymore. It's more like a persistent squeezing. I roll onto my
side and try massaging the muscle but that hurts too. So, gritting my
teeth, I lay still and wait for the tylenol to work.

Lucky Star Motel

6:30 a.m.

The radio alarm squawks an inhuman shriek into the stillness of my
room. I slam my fist at the snooze button with a little more force than
I'd intended but it does the job and silence reigns once more. Not that
I was asleep. I've been lying here willing the time on. I know you're
not supposed to take these painkillers before four hours but I'm not
sure I'm gonna last that long. The ache started again about half an
hour ago and hasn't let up.

"Mulder." A knock on the adjoining door and a muffled call from my

Dammit. I bet she's up and dressed and looking like a million dollars.

"Mulder? Are you decent? I'm coming in." Boxers and a t-shirt is
about as decent as I get at this time of the morning.

"Yeah, come in Scully." I sit up slowly and swing my legs out of bed,
swallowing pack a gasp as the sudden movement sends a lance of pain
through my thigh.

Scully slips through the connecting door and joins me.

"Mulder! I thought you wanted an early start?" She pauses, her eyes
travelling over my body. The scan continues around the room, her
roving eye coming to rest on the scattered papers adorning the floor,
the bed and the nightstand.

"You look like hell. Did you get any sleep?" Her eyes narrow as she
looks at me accusingly.

"What? Six-thirty not early enough for you, Scully," I snap at her.

Her face caves into a frown and she opens her mouth to retaliate. I
apologize before she gets the chance.

"Sorry." I comb my fingers through my hair a couple of times then turn
back to look at her. Her expression is expectant.

"I didn't sleep well."

"It shows. Why don't you get showered and dressed and meet me in the
diner for breakfast."

Yeah, yeah. Just go. I gotta take some more Tylenol.

"Fine. See you in ten." I force my features into a less than convincing

"Fine." She closes the door and I breathe a sigh of relief.

My leg is still taking my weight, but it's no fun. I hop to my jacket.
What the hell, who's going to see me? I decide to save walking for the
public arena.

Lou's Diner

7:00 a.m.

By the time I make it to the diner, the little white pills have
performed their magic and the pain is a mere shadow of its former self.
The relief is almost overwhelming and my mood is much lighter than
before. As penance, I may even let Scully order me something healthy
for breakfast.

The aroma of freshly brewed coffee and frying bacon permeates throughout
the diner. My mouth waters in appreciation and any intentions of
letting Scully order for me fly out the window. Suddenly I'm starving
and craving a *real* breakfast.

I search the diner and find Scully sitting in a corner booth sipping on
orange juice and digging daintily into what I presume to be cereal. I
grab the waitress on my way over and place my order with her before
sliding into the booth.

"That was a long ten minutes, Mulder." She eyes me over the rim of her

I don't bother answering her.

"I'll call a waitress over and you can order something to eat," she

"Not necessary, Scully. I've already ordered." I smile at her.

"Hmm. I can imagine." She dips the spoon into her bowl of shredded
cardboard, puts it in her mouth and chews appreciatively.

I take a second to look her over. She has her hiking gear on. Blue
jeans, white t-shirt, and red checked, flannel shirt. She looks good,
kind of like a little girl playing 'dress up' in her dad's clothes.

"What are you smiling at, Mulder?"

"You, Scully. You look... hot." I suggest, casually.

"It's okay, I've allowed for the weather. If it gets too hot I can
strip down. I'm wearing a t-shirt under the...what? What the hell are
you laughing at?"

"I wasn't referring to the weather when I said you looked hot!" I can
barely contain myself, but with some effort I manage not to choke on my

Her cheeks turn a light shade of pink. Dana Scully blushing. Now that
*is* hot.

She deftly side steps the compliment and turns the conversation to the

"Still planning on heading up to the park this morning?"

"Yep. I want to speak to the ranger. See if he can add anything to the
newspaper reports. I also want to take a look at the area where the
latest body was found."

"What makes you think the ranger will co-operate? And supposing he
does, what do you hope to find? It's been over a week since the last
body was found and I'm sure the area would have been thoroughly

"Oh, I have no doubt about that. Look, Scully, I'm pretty certain they
know what killed those hikers. That's not the point. It's what they
are going to do about it that I'm concerned about. The press can have a
field day promoting the theory of some kind of monster, call it
'Bigfoot', 'The Jersey Devil', whatever. It's the perfect smokescreen.
While all the attention is being focused on a monster, the authorities,
the Atlantic City Police Department, will be hunting down a 'wolf
-child' with the intent of killing it. I'm not going to let that

Scully places her hand over mine and gives it a gentle squeeze.

Before she can say anything, the waitress arrives with my breakfast.
Bacon, eggs and hash browns. Scully gives me a disapproving frown.

"Hey, I need the energy."

She heaves a sigh. "Eat up, Mulder. I'm gonna go pack the backpacks.
You did remember to bring the water bottles didn't you?"

"Sure. They're in the trunk, with the medical kit, the extra flash
lights, spare blankets, flares and ponchos. I think you might be
suffering from over kill, Scully. It's just a day trip."

"Hah! I've got one word for you, Mulder. Mothmen. I'll see you back
at the motel."

I watch Scully's retreating form. When I'm sure she's out of sight I
stretch my leg out in the aisle and rub at my thigh. The ache is
building again and it's only been an hour since I took the tylenol.
This could be a long day.


end of part 3


This part was a bit big so it is split into 4a and 4b.

A Simple Complication 4a / 12

by Sally Bahnsen

Disclaimer in part one

Garden State Parkway


8:21 a.m.


"Mulder, this article really doesn't go into much detail about the dead
hikers. The reporter seems more intent on stirring up the Jersey Devil
legend. It says that it all started, and I quote here..."

Scully pauses and throws me a sceptical look before continuing.

"...'When a woman who was pregnant with her thirteenth child was said to
have given birth to a 'devil child' that flew away up her chimney.
While the claim can never truly be substantiated...'-- that's for
sure..." she smirks.

"Go on, Scully, keep reading." I prompt.

She sighs but keeps going, "...'Several New Jersey residents have
reported sighting the demon child on a number of occasions over the past
two hundred years..."

She reads quietly to herself for a few minutes, running her finger over
the print as she goes.

"Basically, Mulder, all that is being said here is that anything unusual
or unexplained is shoved under the banner of the Jersey Devil."

"Which is exactly why I want to find this kid before the authorities
do. Hysteria, hype, whatever, the truth won't even enter into it. The
child will be labelled a 'devil' and hunted down as such. Think about
it, Scully. By allowing rumors of the Jersey Devil to circulate via the
press, the Atlantic City Police Department can stand back and without
criticism, let any trigger-happy hunter loose in the woods under the
guise of tracking down a monster." My frustration at the death of the
woman seven years ago is clawing its way to the surface.

"Mulder, I can't help wondering if maybe you've..."

"What?" I demand.

"Maybe you've got the wrong slant on this..."

"Those bodies had parts of their arms and legs chewed off. *Chewed*
off, just like last time."

"Without seeing an autopsy report there is no way to prove it was done
by a human."

"I've told you already, there are no wild animals out here. No bear, no
mountain lion, the most ferocious animal you're likely to encounter is a
disgruntled beaver. And, I might add, the bodies were discovered
nowhere near water. My thoughts are that the food supply has somehow
reduced and the child has been forced to hunt outside its natural

"There is another possible explanation."

I glance at her quickly, wondering where she is going with this.

"We've seen something similar before. Have you considered the
possibility that some other type of wild animal, something a little more
dangerous, from...from...somewhere else might have been abducted and
transported to...Mulder?"

The car skids precariously to the side of the road, I fight with the
steering wheel to keep the car from running into the guardrail. When I
get both the Taurus and myself under control I blow out a long gusty
breath and wipe the sweat from my brow.

"Scully, are you trying to get us both killed? You've gotta give me a
little more warning before you launch into something like that. As much
as I like the idea that you are considering extreme're going to give me a heart attack if you start
expounding paranormal theories without at least a little warning."

Scully glares at me from the passenger seat before continuing.

"I'm only saying that maybe, after everything we've seen, it shouldn't
be discounted without at least some investigation." She looks away
guiltily. I'm not sure why, perhaps she feels as if she's just betrayed
the entire scientific community.

"I'm all for keeping an open mind, Scully, you know that." I grin at

"Get over in the right hand lane, Mulder, the next exit is ours."

I get the message loud and clear; the subject of 'alien abduction' is
closed for now.


Wells Mills County Park

New Jersey

8:40 a.m.

From a distance, the ranger station is just visible, hidden amongst
shadows created by the tall pine trees surrounding it. The building
itself is a log cabin structure with a porch in front and a few steps
leading up to a sliding glass door. A small parking lot surrounds the
immediate building, government issue signs stand like rigid sentry
guards indicating that this area is reserved for staff cars and
emergency vehicles only. Around back and up a narrow asphalt road is a
larger parking lot for the general public.

I opt for the staff lot, the only vehicle visible is the ranger's four
wheel drive parked under a modest garage attached to the office. I
figure on only being here long enough to question the guy and find
directions to the crime site.

"Not much sign of activity." Scully comments as she pushes her door

"It's still early. Most of the weekend park dwellers won't be out until
later." I open my door and climb out.

The moment I'm upright, the throb in my thigh increases. Along with
that inconvenience, I realise that somewhere along the journey, my foot
has fallen asleep. My toes are tingling, almost numb.

I'm forced to hang on to the car door and wait out the initial pounding
triggered by standing. I rub my hand over my face and close my eyes.

"Are you okay, Mulder?"

"Yeah, sure. Why?" I ask, snapping my head up and pushing away from
the door.

"You look like you're in pain."

"No, I'm fine. My foot's gone to sleep. Pins and needles," I offer by
way of explanation shaking my foot lightly in order to restore some

I steal a quick look at my watch. Two hours since I had the last
Tylenol. I weigh up whether I should try and wait out another hour or
top up with a capsule now.

The throbbing seems to be easing up and the feeling is returning to my
foot. I decide to bite the bullet and hang on for a while longer.

"Come on, Scully, let's go talk to the ranger."

"Mulder." Scully pulls my arm so I'm facing her.

"What is it?"

"Remember, we are not here in any official capacity. If the ranger's
not willing to talk..." Her voice trails off and I get the distinct
impression that what she's not saying is what I'm really supposed to be

"Scully! Are you suggesting that I would be anything other than my
charming self?"

"No, Mulder, I'm suggesting that you *should* be anything other than
your charming self. You cannot pull rank on this guy, no matter how
uncooperative you think he is being. We have no jurisdiction here."

"Trust me Scully, I keep telling you that."

"I know you do, Mulder, and that's what worries me."


"Good morning, folks, how can I help you?"

The guy seems friendly enough. I give his office the quick once over.
A long counter runs the length of the cabin. Scattered over the surface
is an array of maps and brochures, pointing out the parks best features
and places to visit. Behind the counter is an oak desk, which seems to
be a life support system for loose-leaf papers, manila folders and a
stack of magazines that look like they might date back to the nineteenth
century. Hmm, I could be at home in a place like this.

Behind the desk, standing on a table in the corner is a two-way radio.
I see a door leading off the main office, opening onto a small
kitchenette. I guess there's probably a bathroom in there as well.

I return my attention back to the ranger and study his name badge- Jeff
Davies. Not the same guy the press was reporting as the one who found
the latest body. But, he'll do for now.

"Hi, my name's Fox Mulder, and this is my par.." A thought suddenly
strikes me..." wife, Dana." I feel Scully stiffen beside me at
the same time as I notice a crestfallen look cross the ranger's face.
What is he thinking? That he's going to hit on Scully while we are
here? I don't think so, pal. I drape my arm around Scully's shoulders
and pull her a little closer.

He holds out his hand to me and nods at Scully, "Mr and Mrs Mulder, Jeff
Davies, what can I do for you?" I bite back the smile I feel creeping
across my face...Mrs Mulder...yeah, it has a nice ring to it.

"We're up visiting from D.C. I've been reading some pretty interesting
magazine reports over the past few days. Is it true that the
Jersey Devil's been seen around here recently?" I study the man's face,
trying to gauge his reaction. He offers me a slight twitch of his
eyebrow, before breaking into a wide grin.

"You've come to the right place, Mr Mulder. The..." he raises his
fingers in the air imitating quotation marks..." 'Jersey Devil' is seen
around these parts pretty darn regularly. It's our biggest tourist
attraction." He folds his hands on the counter and puffs out his chest
with pride, as if he personally is responsible for the upturn in the
tourist trade.

"Really?" I ask. "Well, you know, that's very interesting.*we* were kinda hoping to catch a glimpse of the creature
ourselves. Can I share something with you Mr Davies?" I ask dropping
my voice slightly.

"Go ahead."

I feel Scully's eyes drilling holes into me. She hates it when I do
this, she's never quite sure which way I'm going to jump. She'd never
admit it, but Scully is not real big on surprises. It's nice to know
that after seven years I can still keep her guessing.

"I've been studying up on the Jersey Devil ever since I was a kid, kind
of a hobby with me. That...that's why when I read the magazine and
newspaper articles about those hikers being killed, I said to Dana ..."
I give Scully an affectionate hug for emphasis, "...I said, 'you know
honey, this might be the biggie. The one and only *real* opportunity to
catch a look at this creature. Nothing like a couple of bodies to
produce some hard evidence and prove the infamous legend really
exists.' I'd sure like a chance to see the 'Devil' for myself." I lift
an eyebrow to show the guy how hopeful I am.

Another little nuzzle with Scully for added effect, coupled with an
indulgent smile. I'm on a roll. In fact I may just quit my job at the
FBI and take up acting, this is real Emmy material.

The ranger shrugs. "You never know your luck. I have several maps here
marking some of the more recent sightings. Are you experienced hikers?"



Scully and I answer simultaneously.

"We are." I confirm, squeezing Scully a little closer and hoping she'll
get the message.

"No matter, the trails are clearly marked, I only ask because we have
advanced walking trails if you really want to get back to nature." He
picks up a couple of brochures from the counter and opens them out.
"See here, this trail will take you around the lake and up a slight
incline, it can be a little hard going but the view is well worth it.
Did you bring binoculars? The bird life is really something to see
along this route."

"Hmm, it sounds very interesting. I'm a little concerned though," I
tell him.

Scully does a quick dip from under my arm and leans forward over the
counter to get a better look at the map.

"According to the newspaper reports the hikers were killed in *this*
park. Were they walking one of these trails?" I point to the map laid
out before us. "While I'm keen to see the Jersey Devil, I'd prefer Dana
and I weren't its next meal. Do you really think the 'Devil' was
responsible for the deaths?"

"No, sir, to be perfectly honest I don't. What you read in the papers is
pure hype. We had two hikers fall to their deaths on separate
occasions. The press got wind of it and contrived their own version.
But that doesn't mean you won't get to see what you came looking for.
We've had a couple of recent sightings of the 'Devil'. Who's to say it
isn't the real thing? The tabloids like to jump on the publicity
bandwagon, one person starts to make noises that the Jersey Devil is
responsible for killing those two young men...the press picks it up and
before you know it, everyone's talking as if it's fact. Like I told you
though, there's no real harm done and it brings in the tourists."

"Two deaths in the one park in as many weeks. That's quite a
coincidence, don't you think? I wouldn't mind having those odds on my
side down in Atlantic City." I lean a little closer claiming some of
his personal space.

"These things happen. We see it more often than I'd like; inexperienced
hikers wandering off then getting themselves lost. That's why the trails
are marked, to avoid this type of tragedy."

"So, if we stick to this trail here..." I run my finger along the red
line winding through a thick patch of green..." we should be safe?"

"Yes, sir, those two fellows wandered off in a northerly direction,
here." He points to a place an inch to the side of the marked path.
"It gets a little hazardous in that area. Stay away from there." He
looks at me, his expression deadly serious.

Hmm. I consider this for a moment. "Both those hikers were killed in
the same place? Makes you want to ask the question: what lured them
into that particular area?"

"It's a very scenic route, lots of wildlife. If you were a nature
enthusiast or a keen birdwatcher, the temptation to explore further into
the park often overrules common sense." He shrugs. "Maybe they thought
they saw the Jersey Devil."

"Maybe. Were the bodies autopsied?"

I feel a slow pressure build in the toes of my left foot. I look down
and see one of Scully's size fives pressing down on my boot. Her eyes
are boring into me, a clear warning written in them.

"Can't see why they would be? It was pretty obvious how they died.
You've sure got a lot of questions." The eyebrow twitch has mutated
into a full arch. Suspicion is swimming in his eyes.

"Just naturally curious, I guess. When I'm not studying up on the
Jersey Devil, I'm reading crime novels. Dana here says I should have
joined the FBI or something." I offer a very reassuring smile to our
friend Mr Davies and yank my foot out from under Scully's before I am
forced to utter some very undignified words.

"Well, Mr Mulder, stick to the path on the map and you should be fine.
Is there anything else I can do for you?"

"No, Jeff, you've been most helpful," I gather up the map and brochure
then offer the ranger a firm handshake.

"Well, you take care, now, and remember, stick to the marked paths. We
don't want any more accidents happening."

I wave my understanding then guide Scully through the door.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"What the hell was that all about, Mulder?"

"What? Was I not the ambassador of good manners? Did I flash him my
badge, mention I was with the bureau? I was so charming that for a
minute there I nearly had to pinch myself to make sure it was really

"I *mean*, the husband and wife act." She is keeping perfect pace with
my long strides, a sure sign that life is not perfect in the Scully

For a second her comment actually wounds me. "Is the thought of being
my wife really so repugnant to you, Scully?"

She stops suddenly, then turns slowly towards me.

At first I'm not sure how to read the look on her face. It's a mixture
of shock and some kind of realization rolled into one. What she means
by that expression is anyone's guess. Her mouth is moving but there's
no sound coming out. If I didn't know better, I'd almost say my
question had hit a raw nerve.

"'s not that. I...uh..." I decide to stop her before
she does herself some real damage tripping over her words.

"Hey, relax, Scully, I was only kidding. It's a good cover story
though, don't you think? Mr and Mrs Mulder. It has a certain...Ow!
What was that for?" I rub my shoulder and give her an offended look.

"Just catching up on one that I probably owe you and forgot about."

Oh, God, I think my knees are gonna buckle. She's just flashed me her
million dollar smile. The one that lights her eyes and turns them a
deep sapphire blue, the one that scrunches her nose so you can't help
but notice the little sprinkling of freckles decorating it, this one
even includes teeth and if I'm not mistaken I think I hear a little

"Come on, Mulder, let's go catch us a Jersey Devil." She tugs on my
sleeve then turns and heads back to the car.

"Jersey Devil *child*." I correct her when I can eventually make my
voice work again.


End of part 4a


A Simple Complication part 4b / 12

By Sally Bahnsen

Disclaimer in part one

One hour into our trek and I am just about ready to chew my leg off. I
can feel sweat dribbling between my shoulder blades. Droplets pool on
my top lip then every few minutes trickle over the edge, winding a path
under my chin and onto my chest, soaking the neck of my t-shirt.

It occurs to me that perhaps I was a little hasty in my decision to
forego the Tylenol. It is taking every ounce of will power I have to
not throw myself at Scully's feet and beg for painkillers. If that were
to happen I know my chances of finding this child would amount to zip.
Scully would have me whisked off to the nearest Emergency room quicker
than you can say 911. So I bite down on my bottom lip to stop myself
groaning and fight valiantly to keep the limp out of my walk.

"Mulder, the ranger was right. This is truly beautiful country. You
know, it is so easy to forget how to appreciate nature, to only focus on
the hustle and bustle of city living. Always rushing to meet
deadlines...I'm really glad you brought me with you. Even if this turns
out to be a wild goose chase, I just want you to know that I'm having a
good time."

I'm glad someone is.

Scully stops and turns to face me. Her cheeks are bright and a fine
layer of perspiration graces her brow. She looks beautiful. The
picture of good health.

"That's...great...Scully..." My leg feels as if someone is squeezing
the thigh muscle and twisting it inside out. While I may have had a
minimal amount of success at hiding my limp from Scully during her
preoccupation with Mother Nature, I realise that the strained panting
that accompanies my words has just set off Scully's 'med-alert' alarm.

"Mulder? Are you all right?"

I pause to consider her question, trying to decide what my chances are
of admitting to the pain and then convincing Scully that a couple of
Tylenol will do the job just fine. I almost have the answer formulated
in my mind when the throbbing stops.

For about two seconds.

"AArghhh!" I clutch desperately at my thigh as the muscle contracts
into a tight and extremely painful cramp. I hop blindly towards the
side of the path and collapse in a tangled heap on the ground.

"Mulder? What is it?"

"Cra...aaarggh! Shit!" Another spasm hits. I curl over my leg and try
to massage the knot.

"Cramp?" Scully asks.

I nod my head, not trusting my words to come out in anything resembling
intelligent speech.

I feel Scully's hands on my chest, gently pushing.

"Lie back"

And in a scene reminiscent of what happened yesterday in the office,
Scully unclasps my hands from around my leg and replaces them with her
own. For a small woman Scully has remarkably strong hands. I feel the
force of that strength flowing through her fingers and digging into my
flesh. It hurts. I brace my good leg on the ground and lift my hips,
pushing myself backwards as if by doing so I can somehow distance myself
from the source of agony.


I ease back onto the ground, cover my eyes with the heels of both hands
and concentrate on trying to relax. Gradually the spasms stop and so
does Scully's massage. When I eventually get my breathing back on an
even keel, I lift my hands and squint at Scully, who is straddled in a
most unpartner like manner across my right knee. Her hair is hanging
about her face in untidy tendrils, and she is puffing with the effort of
working on my leg.

"Hey, Scully." I venture, testing the water.

She glares at me.

"Thanks." I offer.

She leans back, hands on hips, her weight resting on my knee. Any other
time I would find this rather...well...rather enjoyable. But now, while
the spasms have eased up, the ache is till pounding away in my thigh,
which as a consequence is making the rest of my leg kind of

"Um, Scully. Could you get off me? Not that you're heavy or anything
it's just..."

"Just what, Mulder?" At least she's speaking to me.

"My leg hurts." There! It's out. I said it.

"Really? You're kidding me, right?" She climbs off and stands up,
hands still resting defiantly on her hips. She appears a lot taller
from the ground up.

"That's twice in two days, Mulder. What the hell's going on?"

"I got a cramp, Scully. It could happen to anyone." I shuffle up into
a sitting position, not quite ready to brave standing and putting weight
on my leg.

"That may be true but when it happens to you, it's more than just a
simple cramp. So, come on, out with it. What's going on?"

Not only does she look tall from the ground up but the word menacing
also comes to mind.

"Okay. I might have hurt my leg yesterday while apprehending Cantlon.
But it's nothing, really. I think I just bruised the muscle.
big deal, now if you'll just give me a hand up, we can be on our way."

I stretch out my arm, expecting Scully to help me to my feet. However,
she doesn't move. She just stands there, staring at me.

Fine. I'll get up on my own. I roll over onto my hands and knees then
push myself upright. Ah, shit. I balance on one leg for a second then
put my full weight on both feet. I feel a cold sweat break out on my
forehead and under my arms. Hoo, boy, this is not looking promising.

"Mulder." Scully takes me by the arm. "You're in pain. Come and sit
for minute and let me examine you."

"I'll be fine." I reach inside my pocket, pull out the packet of
Tylenol and hold them up for her to see. "I've got the magic remedy
right here." I smile at her as I swing the backpack off, rest it on the
ground and dig around for the bottle of water.

"Have you been taking painkillers since yesterday?"

"No, I haven't. I took a couple this morning and they worked fine.
Give me another couple of minutes and I'll be fine again." I slide the
blister pack from the box and push two capsules into my hand. The pills
slide easily down my throat with a little of the water.

"How exactly did you hurt yourself yesterday, Mulder?"

I heave a weary sigh. She's not going to quit. But...if I play my
cards right...

"I tackled Cantlon and fell on a baseball bat." I close my eyes and
shake my head. When I say the words out loud, what happened to me

Scully folds her arms across her chest and gets a look on her face. Do
I detect a hint of amusement mixed in with her concern?

"A baseball bat? You fell on a baseball bat? Dare I ask *how* you
happened to fall on a baseball bat?"

"Sculleee, when you say it like that you make it sound like a scene out
of the 'Three Stooges'. Cantlon was using the bat as a weapon. I..."
Oh, boy, here we go again, "he hit the gun out of my hand, and when I
tackled him the bat came between us and jammed into my leg. See?
Simple. It is not something to get all worked up about!"

"Well, Mulder, for something so simple you seem to be in a lot of pain."

"Only because the muscle cramped. Now that it's stopped, I'm as good as

"I could do with a break, how about we sit for few minutes and let those
pills do their work."

Oh, God, yes, that's the best idea I've heard in a long while.

"If you're feeling tired, Scully, I guess it wouldn't hurt to have a

I pick up my backpack and sling it over my shoulders. Now that the
cat's out of the bag I don't bother hiding the fact that I'm favouring
my right leg.

We wander a little further up the path, looking for a suitable place to

"Here, Mulder, this will do." Scully leads me to one of the wooden
barricades beside the walking trail. Perhaps barricade is too strong a
word. My guess is that the fence-like structure is there to remind
hikers not go wandering off into unchartered wilderness. Anyway, right
now, the barricade is going to serve as a seat.

I ease myself down and swing the pack from my shoulders. Scully does
the same then sits back, watching me.

"What?" I ask.

"Mulder, why didn't you tell me that you were in pain this morning?"

I drop my head momentarily before meeting her eyes.

"It's not that bad, Scully. Really. I'm okay."

Her eyes linger a little longer, as if summing up my answer before
deciding whether to accept it or not. I guess she rules in my favour,
her eyes leave mine and her attention turns to the backpack wedged
between her feet.

"Hungry?" She asks.

"You brought food?"

"Sure. I picked it up from the deli while you were still eating
breakfast. If we're going to put in a full day's hiking we have to eat.
Unless you were planning to go 'Caveman' on me, Mulder, and hunt down a
wild animal for lunch?"

"Very funny. What did you bring?" I hadn't really given food much
thought, but now that the subject has come up, I guess I am feeling


"I'm not really in the mood for bean sprouts and tofu on rye." I whine
at her.

"Just as well." She hands me a paper bag. "Peanut butter and jelly,"
she announces like she's just presented me with the Nobel prize.

"Ooh, Scully, splurging out!"

"You may not know this, Mulder, but peanut butter is a very nutritious
food staple. It contains protein, fibre, vitamin E, niacin, folate,
vitamin B6, B1, B12, magnesium, phoserous, iron, copper, zinc, and

"Sort of a brown, gooey vitamin pill." I finish for her.

"It's more than that, Mulder. One ounce of roasted peanuts provides 10%
of the daily value of folate recommended for lowering the risk of heart
disease." For some reason she looks pointedly at me while making this

"And you gained all this rivetting information from where? The back of
a peanut butter jar?" I ask while releasing this amazing cure for all
human ailments from the confines of the paper bag.

"No, no. I've read about this in at least two leading medical
journals. As you know I like to keep up to date and abreast of new
developments. And in the past seven years, I must say, I've had ample
opportunity to catch up on my reading while waiting in various emergency
rooms throughout the country."

Her eyes hone in on me again.

"I'm glad to have been of service to you, Scully."

"A peanut butter and jelly sandwich is an excellent energy source. The
sugar in the jelly gives you an instant energy hit while the
carbohydrate in the bread releases energy into your body gradually over
time. Did you know that a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on white
bread contains almost no cholesterol and less saturated fat than other
items such as a chicken fillet burger, hot dog, a slice of pepperoni
pizza or a hamburger?"

Suddenly the peanut butter and jelly isn't looking as appetizing as it

"And...Did you know, Mulder, that there are actually web sites dedicated
to peanut butter?"

"Well, well, the secret life of Dana Scully. You actually surf the net
in search of peanut butter web sites?"

She purses her lips and fixes me with an icy glare.

"I read it in a medical journal."

No kidding.

"Scully, tell me something. Do you ever eat food simply because you
enjoy the taste of it?"

"I like the taste of everything I eat. Just because it's good for you
doesn't mean it has to taste bad."

"Really? I was under the impression of the exact opposite. If it
tastes good, then it has to be bad for you."

"That depends..." A low growling sound rumbles over the top of Scully's

My hand automatically reaches for my weapon, but I hold off on drawing
it. I drop the bag and what's left of my sandwich into the backpack.

"What was that?" Scully whispers, tossing her uneaten lunch beside

I put my finger to my lips and slowly stand up, adjusting my stance a
little when my right leg almost gives out from under me.

Scully stands beside me, her hand hovering at her back, finger-tips
brushing the top of her holster.

Another burst of growling, this time a little louder and a little more
insistent. The undergrowth behind the fence rustles, but I see nothing
to tell me what is causing it.

"Wait here," I tell Scully.

"Mulder, stop. We don't know what it is." Her words are quiet,
features strained.

"That's why I'm going to take a look," I hiss back at her.

She pulls her weapon and holds it in both hands, ready to cover me if it
should become necessary.

A sound resembling that of a distressed animal screeches through the
peaceful tranquillity of the woods. My heart jumps into my throat and I
steal a quick glance at Scully. She's moved from passive observer to
trained investigator in a matter of seconds. Her arms are stretched out
in front of her, the gun cocked and ready to fire.

I nod my approval at her, swallow hard, then make my way along the path
towards the sound. The painkillers have taken the edge off the ache in
my leg, but the prospect of finding the Jersey Devil child has done an
even better job of taking my mind off it.

I climb the guard rail, and pause, listening. The woods are strangely
quiet. I creep closer, the skin at the back of my neck prickling in
anticipation of what might be waiting. A rustle of bushes behind me. I
swing around. Nothing. A quiet, slow growl to the left of me. I rub
my fingers together, the skin on my hands clammy, nerves twitching,
anxious to draw my weapon, but still I hesitate. I'm not sure what to
expect, but if it is the child, I don't want to risk accidentally
hitting it with a stray bullet.

"Mulder!" A harsh plea from my partner.

I move again.

SWOOOOSH! A figure leaps from the bushes, running away from me. I am
momentarily stunned. For all the world, the thing that erupts from the
scrub is an animal, but it stands on two legs. I catch only a fleeting
glimpse of the creature and in that split second it is impossible to
tell exactly what it is but I do know one thing: it doesn't resemble any
animal I've ever seen before.

Its small stature enables it to move quickly and almost undetected
through the bushes, the only clue that it is on the run are the rustling
of leaves and branches as it cuts a path through the woods.

Without hesitating any longer I break into a run and give chase. This
may be what we came to find. If not...well, it's something and I want
to know what.

My mind is fully occupied in negotiating the terrain and not losing
sight of the creature. In the back of my mind I am aware of my leg
twinging in protest each time my right foot hits the ground but I refuse
to give into it, not now, not this close to maybe discovering one of
nature's true anomalies. I vaguely wonder if Scully is following behind

Whatever this thing is, it's fast. The effort of remaining upright and
ducking under low hung branches is beginning to take it's toll. My leg
is more insistent about reminding me that all is not well and my chest
is heaving with the added strain of fighting to maintain my balance
while running.

I stop.

The moving branches and soft rustle that I had been following no longer
offers me guidance as to where the creature is heading. My breathing is
loud in my ears and I strain to hear, listening for any unusual sounds.

But the forest is still and quiet. Too quiet. Once again the silence
screams at me that something is not right. I hold my breath and listen
harder. Nothing. Then...


Something slams into my side, knocking the wind out of me and sending me
sprawling to the ground. My head bounces off a rock or a log or
something, a swirl of lights dance across my vision. With trembling
arms I push myself to all fours, pausing to catch my breath and fight
back an overwhelming urge to decorate the forest greenery with peanut
butter and jelly.


Whatever hit me before has decided to come back for a second go. Caught
off guard and already dazed, I am an easy target as the creature crashes
into me again. Lurching sideways, I hit the ground with my right
shoulder and hip. The force of impact jars my leg and sends a bolt of
agony from thigh to toes.

The thing moves with lightning speed. For a creature that I deduced to
be only around five feet tall, it's doing a damn fine job of kicking my
ass. Nice to know that some things never change. I wonder idly why it
hasn't come in for the kill.

"Mulder!" Then the answer arrives in the form of my partner.

"Mulder! Are you all right?"

Scully doesn't rush to my side. Not exactly. She kneels beside me and
with one hand edging along the side of my neck, does what has almost
become a routine act of greeting for us- she checks my pulse. The other
hand is stretched out in front of her, moving her weapon in a slow arc
around the surrounding forest.

I brush her hand from my neck.

"I'm not dead, Scully."

"What the hell happened, Mulder? What was it?"

"What was it? That's a very good question. I didn't actually get the
chance to take a good look. I was too busy getting my ass kicked."

"Are you hurt?"

"Only my pride." I sit up a little straighter, wincing when my head
reminds me that more than just my pride suffered in that little
encounter. I reach up and feel the back of my skull. No blood, but
already there is a decent sized lump forming.

"Did you lose consciousness?" Hoo, boy. Here we go, Dr Scully,
Medicine woman performing amazing feats of medical prowess out in the
wilderness. And as much as I love the way she cares for me, I really
can't afford to have her look me over too closely. Not if I want to
keep Scully on my side while we search for the 'wolf child.'


"Are you nauseous, dizzy?" She pries my eyelids open a little wider and
stares at my pupils.

"No and no." Not anymore.

"Are you hurt anywhere else?"


"Okay then, Mulder. All things considered, you seem fine."

That's it? No 'track my finger,' 'do you know what day it is?' 'What
did you eat for breakfast?' Hmm. I got off lightly this time. Not one
to look a gift horse in the mouth, I decide to climb to my feet before
she changes her mind.

Arrrrggh. Shit! As soon as I stand my leg goes into total rebellion. A
sudden burst of pain shoots through the thigh muscle radiates down my
calf and into my foot. I scramble for support clutching at Scully to
prevent myself from hitting the ground again.

Before I can gain control it a groan slips past my lips. I bend over
and close my eyes, waiting for the worst of the pain to subside.

*Now* I feel nauseous and dizzy.

In the background, Scully's voice floats around me. I'm not really
paying much attention to what she is saying, but the tone is soothing,
encouraging, and it helps to know she is with me.

Eventually the pain drops to a bearable level. Enough so that I can
stand up straight again. I realise that my left arm is draped around
Scully's shoulders. Funny, I don't remember doing that.

"Mulder, do you think you can make it back to the path? The backpacks
are still there and I need the medical kit."

I nod my head and draw a deep breath to steady myself. "I think I'm
okay now." But even to me my voice sounds husky and anything but okay.

"Sure you are G-man. Let's go, I want to see for myself."

I wonder how she plans to do that. X-Ray vision? Because if she thinks
I'm going to drop my pants in the middle of the New Jersey State Forest,
along a public hiking trail...well, she can think again.


End of part 4b



A Simple complication 5/12

By Sally Bahnsen

Disclaimer in part one

Wells Mills county Park

Saturday 11:30 a.m.

"Okay Mulder, lose 'em!"

"Excuse me?" I know damn well what she's referring to.

"I want to see the damage you've done to your leg, and in case you
hadn't noticed, I can't do that unless you drop your pants." She
rummages around in the backpack as she speaks. We've manged to make it
back to the trail and our backpacks without any further close encounters
of the 'wolf boy' type. Scully currently has me perched on the wooden
barricade while she squats at my feet searching for the medical kit.

"Scully, you have no idea how tempting an offer that is, but let me just
remind you that we are in the middle of a public park and not in any
official capacity as you were so quick to point out. How do you think
Skinner is likely to react if two of his agents are arrested for
indecent exposure in New Jersey? Let me tell you in case you have any
doubts. Do the words wiretap duty or suspension mean anything to you?"

"Mulder there's no one around for miles. I only want to take a look."
She pulls out the medical kit and rests it on the ground.

"I promise that when we get back to the motel, my leg is your leg, to do
whatever you want with. Although I can think of more interesting parts
of my anatomy that deserve a little attention." I raise my eyebrows in
a suggestive leer.

"Well, Mulder, if you happen to injure yourself in that more deserving
part of your anatomy, I promise to give it plenty of attention." She
doesn't face me but I'm able to see the corner of her mouth turn up in a
smirk, and for a second I am scrambling for a comeback of my own.

"I'd really prefer it didn't come to that, Scully, I'm kind of
protective about the family jewels."

Scully studies the medical kit for a second, looks at me, scans the
area, glances back at the medical kit again then puts it away in the

"Do you think you can make it back to the car?" She asks, squinting up
at me before peering back along the path.

"No. I..."

"Dammit." She thinks for a moment then slides her hand inside the front
pocket of the backpack, pulls out her cell phone and gets ready to punch
in a number.

"Um...Scully? What are you doing?" I rub my hand along my thigh,
working at keeping the ache away.

"If you can't walk out of here, Mulder, I'm going to call for help," she
tells me matter-of-factly.

"Whoah, just a minute. First off, I don't think your cell phone will
work out here and secondly, when I said 'no', I meant that I had no
intention of walking back to the car. Scully, I've *seen* what we came
out here to find. I'm going back in there," I indicate the thick
forest behind us, "to track it down."

"Mulder! You can hardly walk, how the hell do you think you are going
to keep looking for this thing when you can barely put one foot in front
of the other?"

"I admit that my leg hurts..."

"...well that's a start," she chimes in.

"But, only when the muscle cramps and that may not even happen again.
I'm sure I can keep going. I have to. We may not get another
opportunity to find it."

"I'm not so sure that's a good idea."

I heave a frustrated sigh. "I'm fine now, look at me."

She does.

"Yes, at the moment you are okay, but I wasn't referring to that. I
don't think it's a good idea to mess with nature. What are you going to
do if you catch called 'wolf child?'"

"Scully, there have been numerous documented cases of feral children
being captured and taken back into society. Look at the case of
'Victor the wild boy' found outside of Lacaune, France in 1800. This
boy was discovered in a wolves' lair when he was approximately 12 years
old. He lapped water like a dog, refused to eat anything but raw meat,
bit anyone who got too close to him, spent his nights growling, and his
days grunting inarticulate sounds..."

"My point exactly. Where would a child like that fit into society?"

"Look, if a child like that can be rehabilitated back into civilisation
in the 1800's, I'm sure with today's modern medicine and advances in
psychology, there would be one hell of a good chance that the child we
are seeking could be taught to adapt."

"I read that story too. Only I remember it as a dismal failure. A
French doctor worked with that child for ten years. Everyday he was
tickled, massaged, bathed in hot and cold water in an attempt to
stimulate his senses. It took that long before any kind of meagre
communication between the doctor and Victor developed. Apparently it
was another 5 years again before he could be trusted in a normalized
environment. At 30 years old he still whimpered like a child when
separated from the doctor, sat rocking himself staring at walls and
avoiding all eye contact. Eighteen years after being found the boy was
no better off than when he was discovered with the wolves."

"I'm impressed, Scully. You did do your homework. Did you also read
that Victor had a three inch wide, six inch long scar on his larynx? In
all likelihood someone had tried to kill the boy then dumped him in the

"Because they thought he was intellectually disabled," she states.

"Yes. Don't you see, Scully. That boy never had a chance from the
start. The child we are chasing is in the woods alone because its
parents were killed. Not because it was an idiot and abandoned. I
still believe he or she has a chance to be rehabilitated into normal
society. I'm not saying it will be easy, but what's the alternative?
Let the child be hunted down and killed?"

"It's already killed two innocent people, Mulder, and attacked you."

"It was acting out of self defense. It was scared and saw me as a
threat. It could have killed me but it didn't."

"Only because I arrived and scared it off."

"Scully, please. We have to at least try. Where's your sense of
scientific adventure?" I rub my hand lazily up and down her arm. She
stares long and hard at the ground.

"You do this all the time, Mulder. You talk me into going along with
your crazy ideas and nine times out of ten all it amounts to is a whole
lot of trouble and a stack of paperwork." She pauses then looks up at
me before continuing.

"Look, I'll do this on one condition. That you are totally honest with
me about your injury. If it gets too bad, you tell me and we turn
back. I am NOT, and I repeat NOT spending one single night out in the
woods because you didn't know when to call it quits. Do we understand
each other?"

"I promise. If it gets so bad that I can't go on you will be the first
to know." I hit her with a look so innocent that I almost feel guilty
pasting it on my face.

"And no bullshit, Mulder!"


She checks her watch. "Okay, its 11:45 now. We've still got plenty of
daylight left and I want to be back at the ranger station with some of
that daylight still up our sleeve. Two hours out and two hours back
plus another hour to make it to the car. Agreed?"

Is she kidding? She's the one calling the shots right now.

"Agreed, Scully. Indian guide's honor." I hold two fingers up to my
forehead in a salute.

"Okay, let's go." She hoists the backpack over her shoulders.

I stand up and grab my own pack at the same time as a knife seems to cut
straight through my thigh. I give my botton lip a good work out with
my teeth to stop myself from crying out. Scully is watching me
suspiciously and I offer her a weak smile.

"I'm ready, let's move it out."


Somewhere in Wells Mills County Park

1:36 p.m.


The going is not as easy now as when we were following the marked path.
I have taken to snapping small branches in half to leave a trail for us
to follow back. Scully is marking our route on one of the maps the
ranger gave us, using a compass to guide her. I feel pretty secure in
the knowledge that at least we won't get lost.

As the noon sun forces it way higher into the sky, the rays creeping
through the overhead branches are making the forest underneath as hot
as a sauna. The sweat no longer beads on my forehead or lip but runs a
steady course down the side of my face, pooling momentarily at the base
of my neck before running off and soaking into my t-shirt. I reach up
and undo the front buttons of my denim shirt. Scully has long discarded
her checked one and has it tied neatly around her waist. I marvel at
the way her hips swing ever so slightly as she steps out, the back pack
bouncing off her nicely rounded ass. A welcome distraction from the
pain building through my leg and the constant nagging throb in the back
of my head.


She snaps me out of my quiet appreciation of her physical attributes and
I feel like a kid who's been caught with his hand in the cookie jar.

"What's the matter?" She looks at me, puzzled.

"Nothing, you just startled me."

"Oh. I've been thinking, when or if we do find this child. What then?"

"What do you mean?" I ask wiping my sleeve across my brow in an effort
to stave off another river of sweat from making its way down to my

"I mean, how the hell are we going to get it out of here?"

She stops walking and daintily dabs at a drop of perspiration weaving a
damp trail along the side of her cheek with a white lacey handkerchief
magically produced from the pocket of her jeans. She is a contradiction
of determination, mental toughness and pure femininity all rolled into
one. A perfect package.

"That's a good question, Scully. I think the answer is fairly simple
though. We don't. I want to find it first, find its lair then get
someone who knows what they are doing to come out and rescue it. This
time I want proof positive that the child is real and not some kind of
monster. I want photos to back up what we find and then if necessary I
will go to the press and present my case. Never underestimate the power
of the media, Scully. The Atlantic City Police Department wouldn't dare
allow the child to be killed once the discovery of what really is
lurking in the woods is made public knowledge."

Scully does something that really surprises me. She takes my right hand
in both of hers and caresses the back of my knuckles.

"You know, Mulder. Sometimes your childlike propensity for attracting
trouble and putting yourself in really pisses me
off." I go to pull my hand free but she grips it tighter.

"Don't, Mulder. I'm not finished." She smiles up at me, her eyes misty
and her mouth a soft pink curve.

"I know I don't always agree with the way you do things, and that will
probably never change, but I want you to know how much I admire the way
you fight for what you believe is right. The way you defend the weak
from being manipulated by forces stronger than even they can
contemplate. I thought this idea of yours, chasing after what I
believed to be a fictional character from a long held local legend was
just another waste of time and effort. I guess...what I want you to
know is, that I respect your determination and I support what you are
trying to do. You're right, this child will be allowed to be killed by
the authorities. You are a good man, Mulder, and I'm proud to call you
my friend and my partner."

I automatically search through my repertoire of smart ass comments, but
my mind is totally devoid of anything but stunned shock. I know there
has always been an unspoken mutual respect between Scully and myself,
but to hear her actually say it out loud has left me with a sudden tight
and painful lump in my throat, and I'm really not sure how to get the
words out around it without betraying the fact. I am left with the
ability to say little more than one word.

"Thanks." I smile back at her and squeeze one of the small hands
surrounding my larger one. "Thanks, Scully."

We look at each other for a few more seconds, then the moment is lost.
We both puff out an awkward sigh.

"How about a drink break?" Scully suggests, back to her practical self.

"Sounds good." I reply, shuffling my feet like a 14-year-old who's just
had his first kiss.

We find a relatively smooth rock and perch ourselves on that. I pull
out the brown paper bag containing the peanut butter vitamin pill and
offer it to Scully.

"Still hungry?" I ask. "It would be a real shame to waste an energy
boosting health food like this, especially one that actually tastes

She takes the bag from me and opens it, passing me my earlier discarded
sandwich before unravelling her own hastily rewrapped lunch.

"You may scoff, Mulder, but later on you'll be glad to have this in your
stomach." She takes a bite to punctuate her statement.

I give my tattered sandwich a quick inspection, it's a little worse for
wear, but Scully is right, we are both going to need the energy to keep

As I chew the sandwich, I unscrew the lid of my water bottle and wonder
if I have any chance of sneaking a couple of Tylenol out of the pack
without Scully noticing. Not likely. I have them stored in the front
pocket of my denim shirt.

Then I get an idea.

"Oops. Nature calls. I'll be back in a minute, Scully."

She nods at me. "Be careful, Mulder. We don't know how the survival
instincts of this kid work. He may be waiting to separate us before

"This is a 'wolf boy,' not a mothman."

"Just be careful." She reminds me.

I slip the bottle of water up under my arm and head off taking cover
behind a large pine tree that is surrounded by some smaller bushes. The
pain in my leg is a solid ache again and I'm a little anxious that I'll
be hit with another cramp. This time I push three of the little white
pills from their blister pack and swallow them down with a long swig of
water. I take a quick look around, unzip my pants and do what I said I
was coming here to do in the first place. Might as well try and stick
to the truth as much as possible.

Just as I finish fastening the top button on my jeans I hear a noise
behind me. I swing around but see nothing. The prickling feeling at
the back of my neck has returned and with it a new release of adrenalin
rushes through my veins. It's probably nothing, but I've come to trust
my body's instincts over the years. I step out cautiously and start
walking backwards towards the rock where I left Scully, glancing back
over my shoulder to make sure I don't lose my footing.

I hear nothing else that gives me cause for concern so I turn around and
face the front.


My leg erupts in an explosion of pain as something blindsides me. It
catches me right across the muscle on my bad leg, before scampering off
amongst the trees.

"SCulleeeeeeee." Pain reduces me to a whimpering mess on the ground. I
wrap my hands firmly and protectively around my right thigh. I can
feel myself rolling around on the ground but nothing relieves the fire
in my leg.

"Aaarggh." I groan helplessly into the dirt.

"Mulder! God, what's wrong? Another cramp?" I hear Scully beside me
and shake my head.

"Shit." I half gasp, half sob. Tears leak unbidden from the corners of

I feel Scully's arms wrap around me, holding my upper body tight while I
grip my leg in an effort to find relief.

"Mulder. Shhh, it's okay, I'm here." I feel my breathing rasp through
my nose, my lips locked in a death grip between my teeth. I consciously
try and open my mouth so I can breathe properly but have only minimal
success. The air whistles through my teeth.

"Scully," I gasp. " hurts."

"Shh, I know Mulder, try and relax." I can feel her hand rubbing across
my shoulders as she holds me. Gradually I am able to suck in deeper
breaths. It seems to help. The pain is slowly receding to a level
where I no longer feel as if I'm going to die.

I lay in Scully's arms, shivering and gasping. Her hand brushes across
my brow, fingers weaving through my hair. My eyes relax, no longer
squeezed tightly shut, and my breathing calms.

Scully continues to stroke my brow as she speaks to me. "What happened,

"Don't...know...think it...was...the...kid..." Another wave of pain
washes over me. I curl tighter into a ball.

"Okay, don't talk yet, don't talk."



I lay there another couple of minutes, huddled in Scully's embrace.


"What hit you, Mulder? The kid?"

"Yeah...caught the...leg. Cantlon."

"Do you think you can sit up for me?" Scully pulls under my arms,
manouvering me into a sitting position. I push myself upright, using my
hands as leverage and being very careful not to jostle my leg. Scully
supports my back.

"Okay, we've gotta get you out of here. I want you to see a doctor."

"No! No, Scully... just give me... a few minutes, I'll be all right...
caught me by surprise, I'll be fine."

"Uh-uh. Not this time. You are not weaseling out of this. You
promised, Mulder."

"I promised if I couldn't go on then I'd let you know. I don't believe
I've met that criteria yet." I tell her, pulling myself up a little
straighter. I turn my head as I feel the comfort of Scully's body
disappear. She is standing up, hands on hips, shoulders heaving up and
down as she fights to control her temper.

I roll over onto my hands and one knee -- my right leg I keep straight
out behind me-- and push myself up, hopping on my left foot. For a few
seconds my head spins a little but the dizziness passes quickly. I rest
the toes of my right foot on the ground to maintain balance.


She turns to face me, her expression surprisingly calm, then walks to
where I am standing.

"You look terrible, Mulder."

I feel terrible so her description is probably accurate.

"I'll be okay." I say quietly.

Scully pulls my right arm across her shoulder, "Let's get you back to
the rock. I want to look at your leg, and no arguing!"

"Just a second, I dropped my water bottle around here somewhere." I
pull my arm from her shoulders and half hop, half stagger to where I
think I dropped it.

"There it is, Mulder, I'll get it." Scully strides past me and squats
down to retrieve the plastic bottle from under some bushes. As she
reaches for the bottle her hand seems to freeze in mid air, then with
both hands she starts to push some of the branches to the side. I watch
her, wondering what the hell she is doing, but before I have a chance to
ask, she disappears inside the bush.

"Hey, Mulder. Take a look at this," she calls.

I stumble to the place where Scully has vanished and drop awkwardly to
one knee.

"What is it, Scully?"

"I think you need to come in here and see for yourself."

I push the bushes to one side and slither in on my left side to join
Scully, who is crouched in a corner of a small cave-like dwelling. Her
brow is creased in a confused frown, she does a quick scan of our
surroundings then turns her gaze to me.

"You were right, Mulder." This statement is made in much the same tone
of bewilderment she used when admitting to me that the artifact from
Africa might be alien in origin, holding all the secrets to the
existence of human life.

The bush enclosure is made of tightly woven tree branches, camouflaged
by a thick covering of green foliage. Just to the left of where Scully
is squatting there is what could only be described as a nest. Dried
leaves and small twigs have been piled into a corner. One or two
primitive looking tools made of stone lay on the ground by the 'bed'.

"What's that, Scully?" I pull myself a little further inside and point
to what looks like a piece of blue material, dirty and mottled with
brown stains, laying partly buried under the pile of leaves.

Scully scoots a little closer and puts out her hand to pick it up.

"Wait!" I yell.

She nearly jumps out of her skin.

"You got latex, Scully? That could be evidence." I nod towards the
scrap of material.

She blows out a slow puff of air. "You're right, Mulder, I guess I
wasn't thinking of this as being a case. I do have some gloves but
they're in the backpack."

"Try pulling it out with a stick." I suggest.

She finds a small twig and scrapes at the piece of cloth, edging it out
from under the leaves. As she gets it all the way out it becomes
obvious that something is attached to it.

Oh god! My stomach jumps into my throat and it's all I can do to stop
myself from throwing up. I turn away and cover my mouth and nose with
my hand.

"Jeezus, Mulder. I think it's part of a human hand, there, this bone
here, it looks like the metacarpal bone in the thumb. In fact the base
of all the fingers are still intact but the tops are missing. God,
Mulder, they look like they've been chewed off. And look at the wrist

"I'd rather not."

"I need to examine it in a lab to be sure, but it's possible that these
marks here, " she points to a particularly battered looking piece of
bone, "could have been made by human teeth."

"Well, Scully, I guess we've found our proof. Let's go get the evidence
kit and the camera, I want photos of this. Cold, hard evidence that
the 'wolf child' really exists. And...and we need to search the area,
there might be other bones lying around."

Scully leans over and touches my hand. "Mulder...I...I owe you an
apology. I really didn't think we were going to find this child. I
don't know what I thought was responsible, but this...this is amazing."

"I know, Scully. Now comes the hard part; convincing the authorities to
take it into custody alive."


Half an hour later, Scully has the bones safely tucked away in an
evidence bag and I have the photos I need to at least make people sit up
and take notice. My first step to prove the existence of the New Jersey
version of the 'wolf child'. We found more bones buried in the leaves;
part of a foot and some smaller fragments that Scully identified as
toes. Scully did most of the scooting in and out of the 'cave',
insisting it wouldn't do my leg any good crawling around on the ground.
I had to agree with her. My feelings were that the ground and I had
spent enough time together for one day.

Finally, it feels as if the Tylenol has kicked in, dulling the pain down
to a managable level.

"Mulder, before we head back to the car I want to check your leg. We've
still got a lot of walking ahead of us and I think it will be easier on
you if I strap your thigh and you take some more painkillers." Scully
speaks to me and pulls out the medical kit from the backpack yet again.

Oh, shit. I guess this is where I fess up about the three Tylenol
already swimming around in my system.

"Um, Scully...before, when I went to... you know... went to the
bathroom, I took some Tylenol at the same time."

"Really? And you were going to share this little piece of information
with me, when?"

"Now?" I answer hopefully.

"So you're feeling pretty good at the moment?"

"Yes. Yes I am, much better in fact."

"Sit, Mulder!"


"You might think you're pretty clever hiding behind the Tylenol, but let
me tell you something, the level of pain you are experiencing suggests
to me that you have done something more serious than just bruise a
muscle. I've seen you in pain before Mulder, under a number of
different circumstances. What I saw when I found you on the ground
earlier is one of the worst I've had to witness for a long time. Now
drop your pants and let me examine you!"

"Any other time, Scully, I'd be happy to..."

"NOW, Mulder."

"I wonder if this is what my mother envisaged when she warned me about
wearing clean underwear." I mumble to myself as I unbuckle my belt and
work at the button on my jeans.

"Mulder, I bet this was the last thing your mother had on her mind when
she was worried about clean underwear." Scully has a bandage out of
the medical kit and is standing next to me waiting for me to expose my

"Can you at least turn your head away? Don't I deserve a little privacy
here?" I whine at her.

"I'm going to see you anyway, Mulder, just get on with it."

I lower my jeans to just below my knees and sit back down on the rock.

"Cute, Mulder. Marvin the Martian has always been one of my favourite
cartoon characters." She smirks, gazing appreciatively at my boxers
before squatting by my side.

I flinch as she gently runs her fingers over my thigh. Oh God, pain or
not, it is going to take every mundane, boring, thought I can draw on to
act as a distraction so I don't completely embarrass myself.

She presses a little harder on the sore spot and I nearly launch myself
into space.

"Sorry. You've got quite a bit of swelling here. I'm surprised there's
not more bruising. Could be a tear in the muscle and it's bleeding
internally." She lightly massages along the top of my thigh, edging
towards my groin. Hoo boy! Just as I start to feel an all too familiar
--and in this case very unwanted-- tell tale stirring, slightly south of
my belly button, I grab her hand and move it back towards my knee.

"It hurts down *there*, Scully." I grind out through clenched teeth.

"Just checking." She looks up at me innocently.

"And I'm just helping you. We wouldn't want to waste anymore time than
necessary." I glare at her.

"I can't make a definitive diagnosis out here Mulder, but I'm going to
err on the side of caution and assume you've torn the muscle. I'll
strap it, that should make you a little more comfortable till we get
back to the motel, then I want you to rest, elevate the leg and apply
some ice packs."

Do I argue now or wait till we get back? Can't see the point in
spending the next hour and a half or so in stony silence, so I agree
with her and decide to work on a counter attack on the way back to the

"You're the doctor, Scully, whatever you say."

"Yeah, right, Mulder."

I have a very strong feeling she doesn't trust me.

"Here hold this in place." She hands me the edge of the bandage and
places my hand over the swelling, then proceeds to wrap my leg securely.

"Hows that? Not too tight?"

"It's good. Thanks."

"Okay, you can pull your pants up now." She grins at me and sneaks one
more peek at Marvin.

"Thank you." I tell her injecting a little sarcasm into my tone.

End of part five



A Simple Complication 6/12

by Sally Bahnsen

Disclaimer in part one

Wells Mills County Park

Walking Trail

Saturday 3:50 p.m.

"How are you holding up, Mulder?" Scully looks up at me from under my
arm where I have had it draped over her shoulder for the past 30
minutes. I know she must be struggling under my weight and however
unfair it may be, I have found myself gratefully leaning on her,
depending on her small frame to take most of the weight off my right

"I could do with a break actually." It's the least I can do.

She turns her head sharply and gives me a long look.

"Okay. We'll stop when we reach the next barricade." A smile plays
about her lips but doesn't quite reach her eyes.

We stagger on another hundred yards or so until one of the wooden guard
rails comes into sight. I remove my arm from around Scully and the
backpack from shoulders then limp the last few steps under my own steam,
easing myself down on the rounded edge of the fence. I wriggle my
toes. For some reason my right foot is tingling with pins and needles.

This day just keeps getting better and better.

"What are you doing?" Scully asks as she pulls her drink bottle from
the pack, opens it and takes a quick sip.

"My foot's fallen asleep." I bend over and attempt to massage my toes
through the thick hiking boot. It seems a fairly useless exercise.

"Hmm. Maybe the bandage is too tight. You better let me check it."
Scully screws the lid back on her bottle and studies me for a few

"And how to you propose to do that? We're no longer 3 or 4 miles off
the beaten track, and there is a very strong likelihood that we are not
the only people traveling along this trail. Sorry Scully, you've had
your fun for today. The pants stay up until we get back to the motel
room. Then...and only then do you get to see Marvin again." I pull my
own drink bottle from the side pocket of my backpack, unscrew the lid
and take a long draught emptying the bottle without taking a breath.
She watches me, chewing thoughtfully on her bottom lip.

"How's the pain, Mulder?"

"Honestly? While I'm sitting it's not too bad. Walking is a bitch,
though." I replace the empty bottle in the side pocket of the backpack.

"Not much further now," Scully reminds me, her tone sympathetic.

"Yeah, we should be back at the Ranger station in another half hour or
so." I check my watch for confirmation.

"I really think I should check the bandage, if it's too tight it might
be cutting off the circulation and doing more damage than good."

"It feels fine."

"Seriously, I think I should make sure. I can't think of any other
reason why you would have pins and needles. It's not like you've been
sitting in one place for any length of time."


"Come on, Mulder, there's no one about." She swivels her head left and
right, peering up and down the path.

I puff out a long breath of air, pinch the bridge of my nose, then drop
my hands to my belt buckle in defeat.

"You've got thirty seconds." I warn her.

"You'd be surprised what I can do in thirty seconds, Mulder." She grins

Once again, I present Marvin the Martian to the New Jersey State forest
and Scully gets up close and personal with my right thigh, slipping her
fingers inside the edge of the bandage and giving it a little tug.

I mean, really, can it get any more embarrassing than this?


Both Scully and I swing around at the sound of a throat being cleared
and come face to face with a giant of a man. His rugged features are
scrunched into a puzzled frown, eyes squinting suspiciously at Scully
and me. A wispy fluff of brown hair pokes out from underneath a New
York Yankees baseball cap which sits haphazardly angled to one side of
his head. Like me his flannel shirt is unbuttoned at the front,
exposing a slightly rounded belly hanging lazily over the top of his
blue denim jeans. He could be my age, maybe a little older, he is
definitely taller and wider than me. Attached to his right hand is a
little girl with long, blond hair, braided neatly into two plaits that
hang almost to her waist. Her dark brown eyes peer tentatively up at
Scully and me from a safe place just behind the man's hip.

Oh, Shit! Not now. I really don't need this.

"Everything all right here?" His voice matches his build and I am a
little surprised he didn't start his question with ' fi fie fo fum'.

Scully pulls herself up to her full height. Her chin jutting out just
in front of the man's sternum.

Nice try, Scully, but I think you're slightly mismatched.

"Yes...thank you. My...uh...partner injured himself and I was just
checking his bandage." She reaches into her back pocket and whips out
her ID.

I reach for my pants and whip them back up to their rightful position at
my waist.

"Uh...huh." The guy looks unimpressed.

"I'm a doctor." Scully tells the man.

He squints at her badge. "Says here you're an FBI agent."

"I'm a forensic pathologist with the FBI." Scully replies as she
returns the ID badge to her pocket.

"Official FBI business, eh?" The man nods in my direction.

I fiddle with the belt buckle trying to force the end of my belt through
the loop, an exercise I can usually achieve in 1.5 seconds flat-- with
my eyes closed. But under the intense scrutiny of a 6 foot plus, 250
pound man and his bewildered ten year old daughter, suddenly all my
natural flair and dexterity for doing up belt buckles flies out the
window, along with the tattered remnants of my dignity.

"No...I just told you...oh, never mind." She almost stamps her foot.
Almost. "How far is it back to the ranger station? My partner is hurt
and needs to see a doctor."

"Didn't you just say you were a doctor?"

Jeezus, Scully. Just get rid of the guy and let's get going.

Scully's hand slips automatically to the top of her right hip,
fingertips gently caressing the butt of her gun.

"How far back to the ranger station?" Scully snaps out again.

"Oh... you're looking at maybe one and a half, two miles." The guy
scrapes a large calloused hand along the stubbly five o'clock shadow
outlining his jaw.

"Thank you." Scully scoops up her pack, swings it over her shoulder
and turns to me. "Come on, Mulder, let's go."

I nod at the man as I pass him by and avoid all eye contact with his
daughter as I head off after Scully.

When I catch up to her I open my mouth to make my feelings known.

"Don't say it, Mulder. Just don't say a word."

I clamp my mouth shut again and heed Scully's advice.


Scully sets a scathing pace for all of 100 yards until she realises she
is walking alone and I am lagging further and further behind. Her Irish
temper seems to have got the better of her again. And thankfully, this
time I'm not to blame.

She waits up and eventually I limp my way to her side.

"Hey, Scully? Are you trying to set a new race walking record?"

She glares at me.

"Mulder! Why didn't you say something? You must have seen him coming
along the path."

"I...I...ME? I'm the one who told you to wait until we got back to the
motel! How the hell did this become *my* fault?" Pain and
embarrassment have sent my temper soaring to match my partner's.

Scully loops her thumbs behind the straps of her backpack, does a quick
turn on her heel and stalks about five or six paces down the trail.
With her back still to me, she stops abrubtly and turns her face to the
sky. I can imagine what she is doing. Her eyes will be closed and she
will be breathing very through her nose and out through her
mouth, continuing this exercise until she feels herself slip back in

She drops her head to her chest, waits a couple of seconds then turns
and walks back to me.

"I'm sorry, Mulder. That was unfair."

Do I know this woman or what?

She looks up at me and puffs a loose strand of hair out of her eyes. My
heart clenches tightly in my chest. For a second I am overwhelmed with
the desire to take her in my arms and kiss her. Fortunately I have
enough sense of self preservation to know that now is neither the time
nor the place.

I settle for a smile instead.

She returns it and then giggles. I guess we must have looked pretty
strange. Scully kneeling on the ground with her head only inches from
my naked thighs.

Scully's giggling is contagious and I find myself joining in with her

"One thing I'll say about being partnered with you, Mulder; it's never

"I aim to please." I tell her with a wink.

"I think we've had enough excitement for one day, let's get back to
civilisation. C'mere." She tugs on my arm and wraps it around her
shoulder. "Let me help you."

I do. One, because right now, the way my leg feels, I could really use
some help. And two, well, lets just say any opportunity to have
Scully's body this close to mine is an opportunity not to be wasted.


Wells Mills County Park

Ranger Station Parking Lot 4:40 p.m.

"Oh Crap!" I stop short just as the parking lot and our rented Taurus
come into sight.

"What the hell...?" Scully echoes my own thoughts exactly.

No. This can't be happening.

"What do you think they want?" Scully whispers at my side.

"I don't know." I reply, running my hand through my hair and massaging
my forehead. "Only one way to find out." I remove my arm from Scully's
shoulder and, willing my leg to hold me up, step carefully towards the
patrol car parked a few yards from our vehicle. Scully takes up
position by my side.

A Ford Crown Victoria displaying the emblem of the Ocean County
Sheriff's Department is pulled up behind our car. Two uniformed
men--one on either side of the patrol car--are leaning casually with
their arms hooked over the open doors of the vehicle. From here, I can
just make out another figure seated in the back.

As I approach, both men stand up straighter, shut the front doors and
each take a step away from the car. All their moves perfectly

I feel the hairs on the back of my neck stand up on end in a basic,
primal, act of warning. Adrenalin pours into my blood stream as my
body automatically prepares itself to fight or take flight.

I paste a non-threatening expression on my face and force a friendly,
casual lilt into my voice.

"Hello,officers. Is there something I can help you with?"

The two men take a few more sauntering steps in our direction. "Is this
your vehicle, sir?"

I glance quickly at Scully. Her puzzled expression reflects my own
confusion. I decide to play nice until I can find out what the hell is
going on.

"Yes. Is there a problem?"

Both men look behind them, it only takes a second for me to register
that they are peering into the back of their car, seemingly seeking
guidance from the shadow hiding within.

Instinctively, my stomach clenches into a tight ball. Men hiding in
shadows have had that effect on me over the past few years.

My spine tingles as I watch the back door of the car ease slowly open
and the shadowy figure steps out into the late afternoon sunlight.

Recognition flashes through my mind and so does a detached form of
relief. I had been running off a mental checklist, trying to come up
with a feasable identity for the person hiding in the back of the car.
I have to admit, the man facing me now hadn't quite made it to the top
ten list of possible suspects. Although in hindsight he should have
been number one.

"Detective Thompson." I say evenly.

"It's *Captain* Thompson, Mr Mulder." He nods his head non-committedly
in my direction.

"Uh huh," I reply. "And it's *Special Agent* Mulder." I say,
emphasizing my title. Okay, so it's probably the last thing I should
have said under the circumstances but my alpha-male tendencies are
racing to the surface, leaving common sense and reasoning in their
wake. And the man standing in front of me just happens to do an
excellent job of bringing out what Scully refers to as my
'testosterone-loaded' responses.

"Really? And you would be here for what purpose, 'Agent' Mulder?" He
succeeds in spitting my rank out as if it were something nasty that has
found its way unbidden into his mouth.

"Just getting back to nature, enjoying the great outdoors and taking in
some of the New Jersey country side. Of course, I had no idea these
activities were worthy of police investigation, *Captain* Thompson." I
inject a note of sarcasm into my own voice and despite the fact that I
know I am displaying the completely wrong attitude to have this turn out
right; I just can't help myself.

"I didn't realise the FBI was encouraging holy matromony between its
agents now." He looks pointedly at Scully before returning his gaze to

I don't bother answering him. Instead I try to figure out how the hell
he came to know of our cover story.

The look on my face must have told him of my surprise. "Not as smart as
you think you are? You should check who you're speaking with before
you go around opening your big mouth. I believe you met my
brother-in-law, Jeffery, this morning." I groan inwardly. Well, that
would explain a few things.

"I haven't forgotten you, Agent Mulder. I had a feeling this case

"And I haven't forgotten you, either, Captain. I remember very clearly
you giving the order to murder an unarmed woman in cold blood..."

Thompson takes two steps forward and his face hovers inches from mine.
"How would you like to spend the rest of the weekend in the lock up,
Agent Mulder?" His jaw tenses as he poses the question. I feel a
certain childlish delight in having incited him to anger.

"Hmm, I believe you actually have to have a justifiable reason before
you can throw someone in jail. Or is my law enforcement training
letting me down? So, unless taking a walk in a state forest has become
a criminal offence I just don't see that happening. Now, if you'll
excuse us, Agent Scully and I will be on our way."

I push past him and only take three steps before two pairs of hands
grip me tightly on each arm. One of the hands forces my right arm up
behind my back, the backpack digging into my elbow on the way. I
grimace painfully as the tendons in my shoulder crack in protest. I
bend over slightly trying to relieve some of the strain.

"Hey! Let him go! What the hell do you think you're doing?"

Atta girl, Scully. You tell them.

Struggling against these two 'apes' proves fruitless and all I manage to
achieve is having my arm pulled further behind my back.

I stifle a moan.

"Taking a walk in the State forest may not be a criminal offence, Agent
Mulder, but I'm sure you'll agree that interfering in a police
investigation is a whole different ball game. It sure as hell is enough
to buy me some time to check out just exactly what it is you've really
been doing out here." My head is forced down until all I can see of
Captain Thompson is the tops of his black dress shoes.

"What the hell are you talking about, you son-of-a-bitch?" I spit at
him. This earns me another solid yank on my arm before my body is
propelled forward towards the Taurus, the two big gorillas pushing me
showing no sign of letting up.

Not until my body slams into the side of the car.

Agony shoots through my right leg as it takes the brunt of impact and
this time I make no effort to stifle anything. A scream tears loose
from my throat. Vague sounds hover around me. I press my cheek into
the smooth metal of the car hood--still warm from the afternoon
sunshine--and fight to stay conscious. As inviting as the thought is of
giving up and letting myself drift into a pain-free sleep, the fear of
what these bastards might do to Scully forces me to stay awake.
Although just how much use I can be as the 'great protector' in my
current predicament, and if my recent track record is anything to go
by, then Scully is probably better off handling this without me.

The deputies release their grip on my arms and with their loss of
support my body slides freely from the car hood and heads towards the
ground. But pride steps in and I push myself upright, balancing on one
leg just as Scully appears by my side. She puts her arm around my waist
for support; and I gratefully accept her assistance.

"I won't tolerate your interference this time, Mr Mulder. Get back in
your car and go home."

I don't answer him. Can't answer him. My throat is tight and I find
myself swallowing hard, trying to stop myself from vomiting in front of
these assholes and further disgracing myself.

"You've just assaulted a federal officer, Captain Thompson. An
unprovoked attack. If I were you, sir, I'd be more concerned with the
repercussions of your..."

"Don't preach to me, little lady. This is my territory, my
investigation, one word in the right ear and you two will be censured so
damn fast your heads will be spinning. Now get the hell back to D.C.
and mind your own damn business." Thompson's face is an ugly mask of

"Why?" I challenge him, finding my voice again. "What are you so
afraid of? What are you hiding in the forest, Captain?"

He stares at me long and hard, his expression gives every indication
that he'd like to kill me, or at least hurt me very badly. Yeah, take a
number and get in line, Thompson, you're not Robinson Crusoe there.

Instead of committing murder, Thompson decides to answer my question.

"Afraid, Agent Mulder? I'm not afraid of anything. I'm trying to
conduct an investigation and I don't appreciate uninvited interference
by the FBI. Especially from the likes of you..."

"I know what killed those hikers. And I know how you plan to bring the
perpetrator to justice. You're hunting down a child, a child who has
killed for survival, who has no idea that he or she has committed an
unlawful act. This child needs..."

"A child? You think a child killed those hikers?" He snorts a sharp
burst of humourless laughter. "Where the hell did you come up with that
crazy idea?"

"You know as well as I..."

"I know that I've been more than patient with you, Agent Mulder. I
suggest you and the little lady here get in your car and leave this park
while I'm still feeling generous."

I open my mouth to continue my argument, but Scully's fingers wrap
around my hand and give it a little squeeze, the quiet warning I hear
in her voice as she whispers my name stops me from continuing the

A self-satisfied grin spreads across Thompson's face. He turns on his
heel and strolls back towards his car,deputies in tow.

Scully and I stand in stunned silence as the police car speeds off,
leaving a flurry of exhaust fumes and dried leaves swirling in its

"That went well." I concede to Scully. Then nearly collapse against
her as the adrenalin rush leaves my body and the pain in my leg becomes
so intense that I wonder if staying conscious is even an option now.


"Give me a minute, Scully." I bend over, both hands gripping my leg as
I wait out the relentless thud pounding through my thigh.

"Mulder, come and sit down." Scully's suggestion sounds pretty good
right now and I start to lower myself to the ground.

"No, not there, come and sit in the car." Her arms wrap around my
waist, helping me to straighten. She guides me towards the passenger
seat with one hand and unlocks the car with the other. How she manages
to stay on her feet with me leaning most of my body weight on her is an
X-file in itself.

The backpack is stripped from my shoulders and I collapse gratefully
into the soft plush seats of the rented Taurus, my right leg still
dangling outside the door, heel resting on the ground. I've just about
reached the limit of voluntary movement, which is okay because Scully
lifts my leg for me and gently eases it into the compartment. She
reaches under me and adjusts the seat so I have more room.

"Thanks." I offer in a quiet whisper. The pain is rendering me almost
incapable of thought or speech. I squeeze my eyes shut and dig my
fingers into the upholstery then lean my head back and concentrate on
breathing. I'm not sure how long I remain like this before I become
aware of Scully moving around inside the car. She taps me on the

"Here, take these." Her voice is close to my ear, her breath warm
against the side of my face.

I lift an eyelid to see what she is offering me.

Pills. Tylenol no doubt. And a bottle of water. My stomach rolls
around itself, queasiness doesn't even begin to explain the sensation.

I give my head a quick shake. "I can't." I gasp out and slam my eyes
shut again.

"Do you feel nauseous, Mulder?"

"Mmm." A quick nod this time. "Can we go, please?" I'm really doing my
best not to toss my cookies but I'm not sure how much longer I'll be

Scully's hand brushes gently across my forehead then glides down my
cheek, coming to rest on my left shoulder. She gives it a quick squeeze
then settles back into the driver's seat and starts the engine.

I hunch down deeper in my seat and pray for light traffic.

End of six

All parts can be found at my website

feedback to: