Sent: Friday, May 25, 2001 9:31 PM

Title:  Still Life
Author: Agent L
Classification: post-ep for Teliko
Rating: Nothing objectionable
Spoilers: Teliko, One Breath
Distribution: Archive anywhere, but keep my name and
e-mail attached please!
Disclaimer: To Chris Carter, David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson,
and Fox: I know they're not mine, and no money, gifts or even
chocolate would be expected or accepted for this. But if you're
done playing with Mulder, can't we have him?
Summary: Mulder recovers from the end of Teliko.
Author Notes: I did no medical research on this at all, so any
medical errors are mine. This was purely for MT.
Feedback: Yes, please!

Still Life

"Mulder... Can you hear me?"

Her voice comes to him from a dark tunnel, echoes and reverberates,
barely recognizable. He can distinguish shapes and shadows, nothing
clearly. He cannot move, cannot speak, trapped in his paralyzed body
like a genie inside a sealed bottle. His chest and throat are tight and he
struggles to breathe, hanging on to consciousness by the slimmest
of threads.


Her voice is sharper now but he cannot acknowledge it.

"Mulder, if you can hear me, blink once. Please, Mulder..."

He concentrates on lowering his eyelids -- then forces them open
again, relieved that he can control at least one small bodily function.
What happened? Where is he? Her voice fades in his ears as he
thinks back, tries to remember...Chasing Aboah, the sound of his
feet clanging on the catwalk. A sting in his neck, then his body going
numb, limp...Being dragged into the small, cramped air duct.

<Scully. Behind you. Look out. SCULLY!>

It's over now. She's here. She's safe. That's all that matters.

"You're going to be all right, Mulder. Do you understand me? Just
try to relax."

Her voice soothes him, even if he can't see more than a blurry image.
He thinks he feels her hand on his arm, but it might just be his desperate
longing for some kind of tactile sensation. She urges him not to worry,
to breathe slowly, and assures him that the ambulance is on the way.
And when she brushes the hair off his forehead, he hopes he hasn't just
imagined the touch of her fingertips. He wants to stay awake, but the
effect of the drug and his own struggle to breathe has left him exhausted.
His eyes grow heavy and he spirals down into the darkness, not
knowing if he'll be able to surface again.
A steady beeping sound, faint at first, grows louder, more annoying,
like the chirp of his alarm clock in the morning. He wants to roll over,
turn it off, but he can't seem to get the command from his brain to his
arms and legs.

*You're going to be all right, Mulder.*

The memory floods back as if a dam has burst in his brain, and he
gasps under the force of it, only to choke on something stuck in
his throat.

"Mulder, it's me. You've got a tube down your throat to help you
breathe. Just calm down. Don't fight it."

Her voice slices through his panic and he forces his breathing back
to normal, opening his eyes to see a white tile ceiling. The beeping
noise continues and he starts to hear other sounds, as well as
recognize the familiar smell of a hospital. And Scully's perfume.

"Hold on, you'll be more comfortable in a couple of minutes."
She appears in his line of vision and smiles at him, although he can
see the dark smudges under her eyes, a strand of her hair bright
against her pale cheek. Another sleepless night by his bedside.

<I'm sorry, Scully. Sorry to keep putting you through this.>

She turns away and talks to someone, then returns her attention
to him. "Okay, partner. You know what to do. Take a breath
and exhale as hard as you can."

He hates this part, but quickly obeys, having learned that it's no
use to fight. He is surprised that there's no ripping pain this time
as the tube is pulled out of his throat, and supposes that's one
small benefit of his current condition. But he'd gladly endure the
sore throat if he could just raise his head or move his arms.

<Talk to me, Scully. What's going on?>

"Mulder. Can you hear me?"

He remembers the code and blinks once, deliberately.

"Do you remember what happened?"

He blinks again.

"Good. The chemical has to work its way out of your system.
We don't know how long that's going to take. But you're going
to be fine. Do you understand?"

He blinks again to acknowledge her words, although he knows
she's lying. He can hear it in the timbre of her voice, in the
tremble of her mouth, sees it in the way she quickly grabs his
chart as if to hide behind it. 

<Scully, I'm scared. I need you to tell me the truth.>

She won't meet his eyes now, and her discomfort only adds to
his anxiety. "Mulder, I need to go. I have a meeting with Skinner
and some people from the INS. I'll be back as soon as I can."

<No -- Scully, please...Don't go!>

His throat constricts and expands in a fruitless attempt to make
some sound, but the frantic plea escapes as nothing more than
a sigh. His eyes sting and he feels a tear trickle down his temple
into his hair. Embarrassed, unable to turn away, he closes his
eyes tightly like a child trying to hide, and keeps them closed
until he hears her footsteps fade into the general background
noise of the hospital.

He wants nothing more than to slip back into oblivion, but his
brain, restless and wakeful with so little to do, helpfully begins
to provide scenarios of a life confined to beds and wheelchairs,
unable to perform the smallest task for himself. A hellish
existence for anyone, but particularly for a man who has chosen
to live most of his adult life alone, trusting no one, relying
only on himself.


He opens his eyes, but of course can see nothing but ceiling tiles.
He doesn't recognize the female voice, and the other nurses call
him "Mr. Mulder." A hand closes over his, soft and gentle,
squeezing as Scully often does.

"Don't give up, Fox. You're going to be fine."

<Who are you?>

She responds as if she heard the unspoken question. "My name
is Nurse Owens. Dana didn't want you to be alone. I hope you
don't mind if I sit with you for a while."

She moves into his line of vision then, a plain, middle-aged
woman with short brown hair and a kind smile. When her hand
touches his forehead, he feels a peace settle over him for the
first time since he awakened.

"You mustn't leave her," the nurse murmurs softly. "She needs

He wants to tell her Scully doesn't need anyone, and that she
would probably be better off without him, but he is suddenly
tired, barely able to keep his eyes open. He can only squeeze
her hand in a gesture of gratitude.

"Mulder. Mulder, can you hear me?"

Scully's voice penetrates the thick gray curtain only moments
later. At least it seems like moments, although the morning sun
is streaming through the window instead of the last light of day.
He opens his eyes to see Scully, still pale and tired, but with
a broad smile and tears glistening on her cheeks.

"You squeezed my hand," she says, holding up their intertwined
fingers. A doctor enters the room and Mulder feels a few pin
pricks in his legs and is able to push against the man's hands
with his feet. The movements are slow and awkward, like a
toddler learning to walk, and he is exhausted from the effort,
but Scully's smile is his reward.

"You're going to be fine," she says, and this time he
knows it's true as he feels himself smile back.

The End

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