From: spookycc []
Sent: Tuesday, October 24, 2000 12:11 PM
To:; spookycc
Subject: High Praise - by spookycc
Title:  High Praise

Classification:  V, MT, A, UST/borderline MSR, but not schmoopy :)

Rating:  PG-13, I guess. Same material as in the series.

Spoilers: FTF, The Beginning, vague for Beyond the Sea, Colony & En Ami

Timeframe:  Takes place before "Requiem", and thus ignores CSM's "death"  (I
didn't *see* Scully autopsy him, so I'm thinking he's still alive and
kickin'. :). Also ignores the pregnancy.

Summary:  Mulder and Scully discover the whereabouts of a child missing for
almost two years, but they're not the only ones looking for him.

Disclaimer:  I don't own any of them.  And just to be sure I'm safe, even
though the S8 premiere hasn't aired yet, I won't own Dogbreath, either.

Dedication:  As always, to Fox's Vixen (now Bobby'sSlut :), my best friend
ever and soulmate cyber and IRL. And for Girlassassin, whose wonderful
support, friendship and feedback keeps me writing even when she's the only
one besides Vixen who reads it. :) Thank you!

Author's notes at end.

No beta-reader used - all typos are my own.


Rolling Hills Nuclear Power Plant - Fall, 1998

A swirl of smoke wafted gently above the grizzled face as he looked through
a blood-stained window at the reactor room within.  He detected no movement
within the room, yet he was sure that the person he sought was still there.
Alive. The boy. Gibson Praise, who could be their saviour or ruin them all.
He intended to take no chances that the child would fall into the wrong

He nodded to the men beside him. They were clad in Class 4 hazmat suits, and
had only been awaiting his approval to enter the room. Raking radiation
detectors in front of them, they fanned out to search the full expanse of
the reactor room.  

The coolant chamber belched and hissed in front of them, and they exchanged
glances through plastic face plates, and approached cautiously. The gauges
in the main control room indicated that there had been a contaminent
introduced into the core chamber, and as they gazed downward, breath shallow
in shrouded hoods, they saw, draped in the liquid, long strands of some
unknown fiber.

The men split into two groups, one attempting to pull the strands from the
chamber, the other following a trail of damp splotches to the connecting
door for the control room. Opening that, they followed the spots through
another door, bringing them to the #4 storage room. Or what was *left* of
the #4 storage room. Tanks and barrels lay helter-skelter, and the back wall
was only partially intact.

They stepped outside easily through the oddly human-shaped hole and met
another group of workers who had just discovered the same hole during a
search of the building's exterior. What they now realized were wet
footprints extended a few hundred feet into the parking lot behind the
reactor building, and then dried little by little, until they were left with
nothing to follow. There was a group of reporters in the lot beyond the
security fence already, so they were relatively sure nothing had escaped in
that direction in the last few minutes. NRC inspectors had their crews
combing the woods beyond for radiation traces, so whatever had left the
prints was gone now, if it hadn't been seen by them, either...

Returning to the reactor room, they saw their colleagues standing in a
half-circle, as if cornering something. Had the creature returned?

As they approached, they saw that this was not the case at all. In the
corner of the room, surrounded by the masked men, a child sat calmly. He
appeared untroubled by their appearance - in fact, he appeared more resigned
than worried.

One of the men radioed their discovery to the "Man with the Morleys", as
they had come to know him in his time here. They ushered the boy back
through the room and the hallway beyond, to the main control room where he
awaited them. The boy stood, unafraid, in front of the man he knew wanted to
kill him.  

"Where did it go?  What does it intend to do?" the smoking man asked him.

"I don't know,"  the boy replied.

"You *do* know. You'll tell me eventually, if you don't tell me now."

The men hustled the boy to a black Towncar parked in the back lot, and
watched as he and the smoking man settled into the back seat. The driver
pulled away, out a secured gate, avoiding FBI, NRC and media alike, and its
taillights faded into the distance.....

Washington, D.C.
Spring, 2000

The sound of locks snapping open kept Mulder and Scully company as they
waited wordlessly outside the door of "The Lone Gunman"'s "publications
office". Frohike spared them a quick smile as they finally entered, leaving
the bleak and misty night behind them. He ushered them over to the monitor
on the desk.

"We knew you'd want to see this, Mulder,"  Byers explained as he and Langly
joined them.

"For sure," Langly agreed.

Mulder and Scully watched the text scrolling on the screen before them. It
was written in the aftermath of the "incident" at the Rolling Hills nuclear
power plant, many months before.

"This guy emailed us yesterday,"  Frohike explained. "After we checked his
credentials, we checked out his story."

"It rings true,"  Byers added.

"We think he's legit," finished Langly.

According to the screen in front of them, Gibson Praise was alive, and their
informant knew his current whereabouts.

Scully jotted the pertinent information down, and nodded once to Mulder.
Thanking Mulder's cohorts, they jogged back up the steps to the street, and
their waiting car.

Driving toward downtown D.C., Mulder acted as navigator, letting Scully know
where to turn and when they were nearing their destination. They were
looking for a parking spot when a sleek black limo pulled up to the curb
ahead of them. Three men left the vehicle. Scully slowed and pulled into a
spot well behind the limo.

They watched and waited, few words exchanged, until the men came back out.
With them was a young boy. There was no mistaking who this must be - the
Consortium wasn't in the habit of randomly abducting children.

Realizing they were too far away to intercept the men here, Scully slipped
the car into gear and prepared to follow them. After the men had bundled
Gibson into the back seat, the limo pulled out into the sparse late-night
traffic, and Scully pulled out a couple car lengths behind.

The men in the limo were certainly in no hurry, and why should they be? They
walked the streets invisible to law enforcement, or quickly released with
apologies if a rookie cop was foolish enough to pick them up for anything.

Stopped at a red light, with Scully and Mulder still a few cars behind, the
back door to the limo flew open. Gibson leaped out and took off down the
street. Two of the three men jumped to follow the boy, leaving the last to
squeal away from the curb, ignoring the traffic signal, following the flight
of the boy.

Gibson dashed into an alley as Mulder and Scully flew out of their own car,
close behind the two men who had already given chase....


For the thousandth time, Scully cursed the career choice that led to her
living life in the dark, both literally and figuratively. She couldn't see a
foot away from her face, even with her flashlight held in front of her. Not
that the journey she'd joined had been unrewarding, but  sometimes a
private, lucrative medical practice looked damned appealing.

How many times had she asked herself why she stayed with Mulder, in his
Quest for the Truth? In truth, she could not see herself anywhere but by
his side now. By her choice or by his, it didn't matter. Both had tried at
one time or another to break the ties that held them together, usually
attempting it for what they felt was the good of the other. Always they had
been drawn together again, by fate, by whatever force bound them as surely
as chains.

She stumbled over some boxes carelessly thrown in the wet alleyway, and
cursed again. Where the hell had Gibson gone? And where the hell was Mulder?
They'd split up a few blocks back, and now Scully wasn't sure she could even
find their *car* again. She paused in the middle of the rain-dappled alley,
trying to get her bearings, then headed off on her original course again.

Dim lamplight puddled in front of her, as the alley dumped into the street
beyond. Scully skirted the building to her right, and decided to stay on the
street, where she might have some slim chance of seeing *anything*. A
movement caught her eye, and she squinted in its direction. A child?

"Gibson! Stop!" If the child heard her, he gave no indication of it. Scully
ran in his direction, nowhere near catching him, surprised at his speed. If
he had been "the real deal" mentally, he had seemed almost physically slow,
possibly challenged in some way. He certainly didn't look challenged *now*.
He was a good block away and widening the gap between himself and Scully.

The boy disappeared around a corner, and Scully panted as she tried to reach
the intersection before he made another turn. Trenchcoat whipping around
her legs, she sprinted around the corner - Gibson was almost at the end of
the block already, and Scully felt her calf muscles protest at the abuse.

Movement tickled her peripheral vision, and she felt a rush of air sweep by
as the black limo whipped out of the alleyway she had just passed, and on
toward the running child, who was unaware of it.

"Gibson!" Scully yelled again. Again the boy ignored her call, kept
running, quite literally, she was sure, for his life.

Scully pushed herself to reach Gibson, knowing there was no way in hell
she'd beat the car there. For his part, the boy ran aimlessly on, neither
toward - nor away from - the car. Still a half block away, Scully yelled
hoarsely, knowing it was futile, but knowing she would be too late to do
anything more.

As the boy - and the car - neared the intersection, a blur of color drew
Scully's attention. Time slowed, and the events that followed played out in
slow-motion, as they would for countless nights thereafter.

That blur was Mulder, sprinting as even Scully had never seen him before.
Still running herself, she heard him call Gibson's name, with no more
response than she had received.

In order, the three objects - two of them dear to Scully - reached the same
exact point in space. First, Gibson - directly in the path of the speeding
car - then Mulder, midair, throwing himself at the boy - then the black

Barely a squeal of tires - certainly no brakes had been applied - a muffled
groan - and the car was gone, as suddenly as it had appeared. Silence fell
over the street, as Scully rushed toward them.

Gibson lay across the curb, dazed but not apparently seriously injured. His
feet trailed into the street, just beyond the outstretched hands of Mulder,
who lay motionless in the street.

"Mulder!"  Scully fell to the ground next to them, visually assessing
Gibson's condition. Her heart was in her throat as she knelt next to her
fallen partner. Running a shaky hand to his neck, she searched for a pulse.
Fast, thready. But at least *there*. She pulled out her cell phone and
called 911, glancing at the street signs to give the paramedics their

Gibson was struggling to sit up, and Scully spared herself a moment to
insure that he was, indeed, alright. He looked scared, tired, but very much
alive. She unsnapped her holster, in case the smoking man's men made
another attempt on the boy. They were certainly sitting ducks.

Well, two *sitting* ducks and a d-...

"Mulder, can you hear me?" Scully needed to make contact, to let him know
she was there with him. She needed to see the light in his eyes. To know
that he was still here with her, as well.

A low moan reached her ears, and she rested a hand on his chest, and one on
his forehead. "Don't try to move, Mulder.  I'm right here."

She felt him relax beneath her hands. He always did. She ran her hand
softly across his chest and stomach, her clinical mind probing his injuries,
her heart needing only to maintain contact. She felt him wince when she
reached his abdomen. "Sorry.  I'm sorry." She replaced her hand lightly
near his shoulders, a tear sliding from her eye. Pulling her trenchcoat
off, she laid it atop Mulder, to keep him warm, to keep him from getting too
cold as his body reacted to his injuries with shock.

A small trickle of blood made its way from the side of his mouth, and Scully
pressed her fingers to his neck again, more alarmed now. She felt the
thready pulse, barely moving against her finger. She leaned closer,
placing her ear near his nose and mouth. She heard and felt nothing.

Scully placed her mouth over Mulder's and held his nostrils shut with finger
and thumb. Breathing her life into him, she watched his chest rise and fall,
then paused to see if it would continue unaided. It didn't. Another quick
check revealed that his pulse had failed as well.

"Mulder! Stay with me!" Scully's mind went into medical-mode as her heart
beat wildly within her chest. Well-versed in CPR, she methodically gave five
thrusts with her hands, and then filled his lungs with her breath a second
time. Again his cheeks puffed out and back in, and again his chest was
still after her breath had left it.

"You're - not - gonna - ditch - me - now," she chanted as she pushed her
hands together on Mulder's diaphram, willing him to breathe, willing his
heart to start so that hers would not stop.

Sparing a few moments to see if he was responding, her breath came in short
pants as she felt for a nonexistent pulse, listened for a breath that was
not there. Darker blood now ran more freely from Mulder's mouth, and
something from her medical training told Dana Scully, MD, that she was
losing her patient.

"Dammit! No!" As the day's earlier rains began again in earnest, Scully let
her clinical mind completely run her administration of CPR, even as her
spirits sank, and her hair hung in red rivulets atop her shoulders.

"Ma'am!" Vague voices, seemingly far away, invaded Scully's thoughts.

"Ma'am, we'll take over now!"

Blinking, Scully looked up to see paramedics settling in beside her. She
was barely aware of them pulling her hands from Mulder. Somehow she found
herself still beside him, as it should be. Dimly, she heard one of the
paramedics tell the other that the patient was breathing, and she released a
breath she hadn't known she was holding.

Disjointedly, Scully watched as they slipped an oxygen mask over his bruised
face. She was reminded of the ER in North Carolina, after Mulder had taken
a bullet through the leg. She remembered watching his face then, the pain
squeezing his eyes shut as he struggled for breath. He *had* been awake,
that time, if not aware. At least this time he was spared the pain.  He lay
limply on the street now, his lips an alarming shade of blue. One paramedic
did compressions while the other readied the defibrillator. Scully's coat
was long gone, and now Mulder's was thrown open and his shirt buttons popped
as they readied him for the paddles.

She felt like she was watching a film back in early med school, as they
placed the paddles on his chest. She heard one of the paramedics recite the
level they were set at, then "clear". Not wanting to watch but unable not
to, Scully saw Mulder's upper body arch spasmodically, then settle back onto
the ground. Scully pinned her eyes tightly closed. She felt the shock run
through her own body, just as if it had been administered to her.

"We've got a pulse."

How simple those words were. How often had she heard them - said them - and
how much more did those words mean here, now?

Scully turned to ask Gibson to come with them to the hospital. He was gone.
Just like that.

"Where's the boy?"  Scully asked one of the paramedics. "The boy who was
just here - where is he?"

The men exchanged glances. "I'm sorry, ma'am. We didn't see any boy.
Just you and your boyfriend."

Despondent, she climbed in after them, not bothering to correct their
faux-pas, not wanting to delay her partner's treatment any longer. She had
been so obsessed, so *focused* with Mulder's life that she had lost Gibson.
Tears welled in her eyes as she thought what might befall him now.

She punched in Skinner's private number on her cell phone and let him know
what had happened. Asked him to search for Gibson.


D.C. Regional Medical Center
Same Night

Scully sat beside Mulder's bed in ICU. He'd come through the surgery to
staunch his internal bleeding, and that was under control. The fractured
ribs would have to heal themselves. No concussion this time, wonder of
wonders. He had some bruising around his cheekbones - where they'd met the
asphalt, no doubt, Scully reflected angrily - and he looked pale and frail,
but she'd certainly seen him looking worse.

Other than that, his injuries were pretty much covered up by the stiff
hospital sheet and lighweight blanket that spread across his lean form.

The standard IV was inserted in the top of his hand.  Scully wondered that
he had no scars on his hands, as many times as they'd been used as pin-
cushions for IV starts.

She slid her hand into his unencumbered one, as so many times she had
before. But part of her still worried about Gibson. Skinner had agents
scouring the downtown area they'd left. No traces of the boy had been found.

She eased back into the chair - as much as its design would allow - and
settled in for another bedside vigil...


When she awoke some time later, she was shocked to see Mulder's eyes looking
into hers. She could barely make out little sounds that he uttered, and she
pressed her head closer to his.  "Sc---- Scu----".

Deja vu. She had heard the same thing from his nearly-frozen lips on the
ice in Antarctica. Right before he passed out beside her, right before she
took him into her arms to lend him what little warmth she possessed.

"What? Mulder, what?"

"Shoulda used the cr- crosswalk *again*."

Scully almost laughed. How many times had Mulder's deadpan humour surfaced
when he *was* near death? It was a relief to hear him sounding like the man
she knew. Like the man she loved.  Like the man she knew loved *her*, in a
way much deeper than simple romance.

She spooned a few slivers of ice into his mouth, and he swallowed and
continued with a little stronger voice, "Is Gibson ok?"

Scully's face fell, and she shook her head. "I don't know, I just don't

At Mulder's quizzical look, she explained. "Mulder, I checked Gibson and he
had no serious injuries. Then you - you stopped breathing, and I couldn't
get a pulse. When the paramedics arrived, Gibson was gone. I just - I lost
him. I'm sorry."

"No-" Mulder's voice was weaker, and Scully leaned in once more.

"*I'm* sorry", he continued. "I know you wanted to save him as much as I
did. Don't blame yourself for what happened while you were helping me."

Scully sighed, and ran her hand through the short hair Mulder sported these
days.  He would accept the guilt for this incident, she knew, as indeed he
claimed blame for everything negative had that happened while they pursued
the truth.

"Skinner has search teams out right now, but they haven't found any sign of
him." she offered.

"I'm not sure they will," Mulder interjected, his voice growing lower, his
eyelids slipping almost shut.

Scully looked at him questioningly.

"He knows what they're thinking, Scully. If he doesn't know who he can
trust even with his gift, it's likely no one will find him."

"I hope he's ok," Scully said sadly.

"M - me too," Mulder's eyes finally slid shut, and his hand went limp
within hers.

Scully gently rubbed the back of Mulder's hand as it lay within hers, and
leaned her head back against the uncomfortable plastic chair.

Days later
Washington, D.C.

Having settled Mulder from the hospital into his apartment, Scully opened
her own apartment door and dragged her weary body into the welcoming warmth
inside. She threw her keys on the kitchen table, opened the refigerator door
out of habit, then closed it.

She sensed a presence in the apartment - God, she really needed to have the
locks changed again - and pulled her gun from its holster.

In dark corner, a waft of smoke caught her attention, as did its creator.

"What the hell are *you* doing here?" she kept her voice even, dark.

"I thought perhaps you'd like to thank me," came the reply.

"*Thank* you?  For what?"

"For deciding not to pursue your partner - or the boy - for the time being."

"What are you talking about?"

"Does the code-name "Rattler" mean anything to you?"

Indeed it did.  That was the informant who had provided the Lone Gunmen with
the information about Gibson's whereabouts.

The smoking man watched as realization dawned in Scully's eyes, and then
flashed a nefarious smile at her.

"This was never *about* Gibson!" Scully realized suddenly. "You knew we
were following him!  You knew!"

"Certainly," the smoking man replied. "Gibson was a pawn who had outlived
most of his usefulness. Mulder was a worthy adversary who needed to be
eliminated. Why not use one to accomplish the eradication of the other?"
He spoke matter-of-factly, betrayed no emotion, if indeed he felt any. It
appeared that his talk of having a special affection for Mulder as well as
Scully had been just that - talk. He had, in fact, supplanted the
information to the Lone Gunmen, under the guise of a trustworthy informant.
It wasn't the first time he'd used someone else's email to convince another
of his legitimacy, and it probably wouldn't be the last.

"Well, it didn't work," Scully breathed slowly, deeply, lest her emotions
dictate her actions.

"No, it didn't. I should have assumed that you would be able to keep Mulder
alive until paramedics arrived.  You've always had these feelings for this
man, though you deny them to yourself," the smoking man answered.

Scully sighed, her fists balled at her sides. "Have you found Gibson?  Have
you killed him?"

"No, no, that part of your plan worked as well. He is on his own for now,
until you - or *I* - find him."

"You can't always win, you know," Scully mused. "Evil doesn't ultimately
win out over good. It didn't this time."

A crack of a smile around his cigarette.  "Agent Scully," a circle of smoke
enwreathed his grey features. "There is always a *next* time'."


Author's Notes:

I'm not a nuclear technician, so please forgive my lack of knowledge herein.

I'm not a doctor or an EMT, either, so please overlook all the medical

I had to rewatch "The Beginning" in researching this fic, and it's one of my
least fav of eps, mainly because in the episode, all the UST of FTF was DOA.

The line about Scully being so obsessed - so *focused* with Mulder comes
from how we at atxf like to describe ourselves to "normal people". :)