They had their suspect penned down. Mulder held his gun on him, "Drop the weapon, Pearson. There’s twenty of us out here. Come on, put it down."
Slowly the thin man bent and placed the gun on the ground. Then without warning, the man darted to the left and began running again. Mulder was closest and began pursuit, the others racing to catch up. Mulder tackled the man and brought him down. Pearson was desperate, fighting for his life. Mulder was shocked to see a second gun, smaller and shiny in Pearson’s hand.
Mulder managed to throw himself to the side and nearly made it before the trigger was pulled.
The sound was explosive in his ear, and the pain that flared in his right arm as the bullet passed through his flesh was searing. No way could he allow the man a second shot. Mulder threw his weight onto the man’s right arm and the gun flew from his grip. What the hell, there were no rules in this kind of fight. Mulder’s knee connected forcefully with the man’s groin and the fight went out of him.
"Mulder!" He heard Scully’s voice, frantic.
"Over here." He called, keeping his weight on the man, after pocketing the second gun. He could actually feel the relief from Scully when she heard his voice.
Then the rest of the agents were there; Pearson was cuffed and hauled to his feet. Mulder rose slower, dusting his slacks off with his left hand.
"Nice work, Spooky." One of the agents, sounded like Simpson, spoke. Mulder didn’t bother to acknowledge him. If they’d listened to him in the first place, this would have been over hours ago.
Mulder turned to the agent in charge, handing him the second gun. His breath was beginning to even out. "Do you need us?"
"Nah, we can handle this. Take the missus and go on back to the motel. If we need anything, we can get it in the morning." He clapped Mulder on the right shoulder, causing a new wave of nauseating pain to flare. Fortunately it was now too dark to see the blood ruining his FBI jacket. "You did good, Spooky."
Mulder managed to nod. Scully could see that his face was carefully expressionless. She assumed it was because of the comments. He hated that nickname and to actually refer to her as Mrs. Spooky was more brazen than usual. He’d made no comment, and she knew none would help anyway. She turned and made her way back to their car, using the flashlight to illuminate the path.
Just before they reached the vehicle, Mulder touched her arm. She turned and looked up at him questioningly.
"Why don’t you drive?"
She took the keys he extended, her brow furrowed. "You okay?"
"Let’s just get out of here."
She nodded and they entered the car. He was able to click his seatbelt and managed to hide his grimace. They were both quiet on the way back.
When she pulled up to the room at the motor court, she put the car in park and reached for the door handle. "Uh, Scully?"
"I, uh, I may need a little help here."
"Mulder? What are you talking about?" She turned back toward him and with the overhead light on in the car, saw the strain in his face. "Mulder?"
"That, uh, that shot may not have missed me quite as much as I wanted."
"You were shot?"
"Just a little." He looked at her sheepishly.
"Damn it, Mulder!" She was out of the car now and hurrying to his side. She jerked his door open and tried to see his wound. "You should be examined at the hospital."
"Scully, it went through. All I need is a little Scully TLC."
"You’re an idiot." But she helped him from the car. "Let me check it, but I may still take you to the ER."
He put his left arm around her shoulders and her arms went around his waist. He leaned on her slightly as they made their way to his room. She seated him on the bed and helped him remove his jacket.
He bit down on a groan as his arm was jostled. "Try to relax." She removed his tie and pulled his shirt from his slacks.
"Will you still respect me in the morning?" He watched her as she removed his shirt.
"Still?" She deadpanned and he grinned.
After looking at his arm and ascertaining that the bullet had indeed passed through the muscle, began cleaning the wound.
She left him for a moment to get first aid supplies from her room. She’d learned over the years to carry such things, but she didn’t usually have to treat this kind of wound.
After bandaging his arm, she eased him back against the pillows. "I’ll get you some aspirin."
"I’m okay, Scully." He tried to look into her eyes, but she evaded him, moving toward the bathroom to clean up.
He sighed; he’d screwed up again.
When she emerged, he looked up at her. "You’re probably hungry, why don’t you go on and get - "
"I’m fine Mulder. You should try to rest now. You’ve had a shock to your system, and lost some blood."
Rather than argue with her, he stretched out on the bed, then watched her take a seat.
"Just go to sleep, Mulder. I’m going to make notes for the report. I can do that just as well in here."
After an instant he nodded and closed his eyes. He would rest better with her here, but damned if he’d say it.
Once he was comfortable, she retreated to the bathroom and peeled off her ruined hose. If she’d known she would be running through the woods, she’d have worn slacks. Oh well, bottomline, they’d gotten him.
She shifted in the chair to stretch, and glanced over at him. She shuddered slightly, remembering her panic in the woods when she’d heard the shot fired. Somehow she’d know he was the target and not the shooter. Thank goodness it was no worse than this, a little more to the left - no, she shook her head. He was okay.
Even as the thought formed, he became restless in the bed. She rose, not wanting him to roll over on his arm. He was probably having a bad dream - no surprise there.
She moved to the right side of the bed, to make sure he wasn’t bleeding again and placed her hand on his cheek to try to calm him.
The fever in his skin startled her. Damn! He’d picked up an infection, no doubt from waiting so long to have the wound cleaned. She should have insisted he go to the hospital.
Scully hurried to the bath and shook three aspirin into her hand from the bottle in his kit bag, and some antibiotic left over from a previous injury. She should check his medication intake better. Then she filled a glass with water and returned to him.
"Mulder, wake up. I need you to take these."
"Scully?" He sounded groggy, shaky.
"Yes. Come on, take these aspirin."
He dutifully swallowed the pills and closed his eyes again. She placed the glass on the bedside table and returned to the bath to get a cool cloth.
He shivered slightly when she bathed his face and looked up at her. "I fucked up again, didn’t I?"
"What else is new Mulder? Go back to sleep."
"Yes. I’ll stay."
He closed his eyes again, but took her hand with his left. That wouldn’t be comfortable, reaching across himself like that, and she didn’t want him to hurt his arm.
She remoistened the cloth and returned, approaching him from the left and sitting on the bed and stretching her legs out as she reclined slightly against the headboard. It was too soon for the aspirin to be working, but maybe the cool cloth would help. She wanted to be close, know if his fever got worse.
He seemed to sense her in the bed and curled toward her, nuzzling his head into her lap, to her surprise. Well, no harm done and it seemed to ease him.
She didn’t realize she’d drifted off until she felt him move away and try to rise from the bed.
"Mulder? What - "
"I have to find Scully."
"What?" She looked more closely at him, his eyes were glassy with fever and his hands were trembling slightly.
"Mulder, I’m right here. I’m going to get you some more medicine."
She hurried to the other room and returned with two more aspirin and another of the antibiotics.
"I have to find Scully!"
"Okay Mulder, but take these first."
His eyes narrowed, but he did as she bade.
"Now just lie back Mulder. It’s okay."
"It’s not okay! She’ll leave me. I fucked up again and she’ll leave me. I need to tell her."
"Tell her what, Mulder?" Scully managed to get him to lie back on the pillow now. He was strong and he wanted his own way.
"I have to tell her." He tried to rise.
"I’ll tell her for you Mulder. What is it?" She needed to get him to be still or he’d start bleeding again.
"No, has to be me. Gotta tell her, tell her I love her."
Scully froze. "Tell her what?"
"Gotta tell her I love her. She doesn’t understand."
"Mulder," she pressed the cloth to his forehead, "Scully knows you care about her."
"No! Not care about her, love! She doesn’t want to know, she doesn’t want me to love her, but if she knows, maybe she won’t leave me. Maybe she won’t care when they call her Mrs. Spooky."
Scully stared at him, the cloth forgotten in her hand.
"What . . . what do you mean she doesn’t want to know?"
Mulder shook his head. "She doesn’t want me to love her. She’s afraid."
"A . . . afraid?" This was stupid, the man wasn’t really even conscious. He didn’t know what he was saying.
"She’s afraid to let me get that close. But I can’t let her leave, I need her and . . . she needs me." His eyes were closing again. "I love her." He managed to open his eyes to her again. "Don’t let her leave me."
She leaned over then and pressed her lips against his forehead. "Your Scully is not going to leave you."
The words seemed to reach him through the fevered haze and his body seemed to relax. "Won’t leave me . . . "
"No Mulder, don’t you worry." She drew his head back into her lap. He nuzzled in and almost immediately his fever broke.
She sat there watching him, stunned at his revelations. Was it true? Well, part of it might be, if she were honest, but . . . his left arm snaked around her. "Scully?"
"Right here Mulder."
He gave her a sleepy smile. "You’re still here."
"Let’s get you into some dry clothes. I think you’re going to be fine."
He let her help him sit up and draw the t-shirt over his head, replacing it quickly. "Course I am. You’re here." He drew her back down onto the bed and snuggled in already asleep again.
She ran her hand through his hair. "Sleep Mulder. I’m right here, where I . . . where I belong."