She woke feeling strangely weak, with a splitting headache. The light in the room was glaring and there was so much activity out in the hall. What was going on?
"Well hello. Nice to see youíre back with us. Headache?"
When she tried to speak, her voice croaked and shaking her head didnít seem a wise course of action, so she didnít respond. He placed a straw in her mouth and the cool water tasted like ambrosia. She cleared her throat and tried again.
"Thanks." She managed to whisper.
"Youíre welcome. Iím Dr. Hickman and Iíve been looking after you." This man looked like a caricature of a country doctor, white hair and kindly face. The phrase, íbut I play one on TVí, came to her mind.
"Doctor? Where am I?"
"Youíre in the hospital. Someone dropped you off unconscious so we donít have a lot of details."
"Dropped me. . . ?"
"Why donít we start at the beginning. Whatís your name?"
"Iím. . . " her eyes grew bigger and the color left her face. "I. . . I. . . "
"Now wait, I donít want you to panic." He took her hand, patting it, trying to calm her. "Youíre been unconscious for three days that we know about, and possibly longer. I find no head injuries, so youíre probably just confused due to being out for so long. I donít want you to start thinking the worst."
"But I donít know my name!"
"Let me tell you what we know about you, okay?" He hadnít let go of her hand, continuing to try to reassure her.
At her nod he continued, "Youíre a very pretty young woman, red hair, late twenties, Iíd guess. You seem perfectly healthy, from the tests we were able to perform here. You were not allowed to become dehydrated, so someone was looking after you and brought you to us when they needed help. You have no bruises or contusions."
"Was I drugged?"
"Thatís a possibility and we did do some blood work, but our facilities here are limited under the best of circumstances. I have to admit you could have been, but there havenít been any signs of toxicity and all of your vital signs have been good from the beginning."
"Where am I?"
"Youíre in Carbury, North Dakota."
"North. . . North Dakota?"
"Doesnít sound familiar, huh? Well, your accent certainly isnít from around here."
"Hasnít anyone asked about me or come looking for me?"
"Now they may have, Dear. You were discovered in the waiting room after visiting hours on Sunday evening. About two hours later, we were hit by an ice storm that is still going. We have no electricity and no phones in the county. This is a 30-bed hospital that has been turned into a shelter because we have generators. Everyone in the nation could be looking for you and not able to get to us to tell us."
"Oh. But the police. . . "
"We have a sheriff and two part-time deputies. Theyíre out evacuating people. I know youíre anxious, but give us a couple of days. Weíll get this all sorted out. In the meantime, Iím going to send someone up to talk to you."
"Well, actually, we donít have one. I thought my wife. . . "
At that she actually smiled. "Thank you. Whatever you think is best."
Dr. Hickman squeezed her hand, winked and left. Shortly, a small woman tapped on her door and stuck her head in.
"Hello, Iím Hazel, Docís wife. May I come in?"
"Of course. I was just looking out the window. It does look bad out there."
"Worst in twenty years theyíre saying, but next yearís will be worst still, so I quit comparing them. Doc thought you might like someone to talk to."
"Well, I donít have a lot to say. I canít even remember my name."
"Youíre remarkably calm about that."
"You didnít see me earlier. Iíve decided I canít do anything right now to find out, so Iíll cocoon myself and wait."
"Good attitude. Why donít you tell me what you do remember."
They talked a bit, Hazel occasionally asking a question. Nothing was coming up until she hit on a new tact.
"Are you married?"
She paused, "Yes, yes I am." She smiled.
"Well, thatís definitive. Do you remember his name?"
"No. . . no, it wonít come."
"You seem pleased about it, Iím guessing itís a good marriage. Heís probably worried to death right now and giving the police a terrible time."
"Yes. Isnít it strange? Even though I donít remember a name heís the one thing I feel confident about."
"Well, thatís enough pushing for now. Why donít you come out and meet the neighbors? I think weíre all here, and thereís not really anyone to bring you meals."
"Thereís no reason to serve me. I feel fine, so I might as well be up and try to get some stamina back."
Hazel located a robe for her and took her out to introduce her to the crowd. It was actually several hours before she made it back to the room she was now sharing with several young women, and she felt a great deal better. These people didnít know her at all, but they had heard of her problem and gone out of their way to make her feel comfortable. She hoped she came from a place like this. It felt warm, she just wished it also felt familiar. Why couldnít she remember her husbandís name? Or her own for that matter? What had happened to her to cause this? There was no trauma to her body that Dr. Hickman could find. It just made no sense at all.
The next day was much the same. A few more people arrived and she was finally able to meet the sheriff. He promised to get to her problem as soon as he could, but he was obviously overwhelmed with what was already facing him.
She had found that she didnít care for the name Jane, so when someone called her ĎRedí it stuck. She borrowed a uniform from the storeroom and was actually feeling almost normal as she headed for the cafeteria.
"Nurse! Nurse, my husband!"
She turned at the frantic call. This man was having a heart attack. She raced to his side and began instructing the others in the crowd of how to assist her.
"Find the crash cart, it should be in emergency. Stat!" She began CPR, grabbing a young man to trade off with her. When the cart appeared she grabbed the defibrillator pads, and ran the dial up to 300. "Clear!"
She jolted the patient and felt for a pulse. Try again.
"Clear!" She sent the second jolt through him and was rewarded with a faint heartbeat. "Get a blood pressure cuff on him."
It was then she noticed that Dr. Hickman had somehow become her assistant. "Yes, Doctor." He responded with a quick wink. She fell back and allowed Dr. Hickman to transfer the man out of the hall and into an examining room.
She began to tremble, the young man that had helped her with the CPR put his arm around her and led her to a chair. "Are you okay?"
She nodded, unable to speak. A few minutes later Dr. Hickman sat down beside her.
"Dwightís going to be fine. You did a good job. Do you remember anything?"
She shook her head, then, "I could have killed him."
"You saved him."
"But I didnít know. . . "
"Obviously you did, and you reacted instinctively. Iím awfully glad you were here. You need to relax, letís get you something to eat."
At least a dozen people came up to thank and congratulate her while she attempted to swallow her sandwich. If she could remember how to do that, damn it what was her name!
During the night the storm broke and crews were finally able to get out and begin the massive repair. She had been missing for at least five days with no word.
The phones came up first.
"Jeff, wake up!"
"What? Shit, itís not even light yet."
"The phones are working."
"So we can get back on-line."
"Theyíll kill us."
"Not if they donít find out. Come on."
The two boys slipped quietly from the room. They grabbed the laptop from where they had stashed it and headed downstairs to an office in the basement.
"Yes!" Josh clapped Jeff on the back. "Finally!"
"Look at the spam." They scrolled down, noting real notes from several friends.
"Hey, whatís this one?" Jeff pointed to a message flashing "Have You Seen Her?"
"Probably porn, letís see." They clicked on it, and watched a face being painted on the screen.
"Itís only a head shot, what a gyp!"
"But isnít that. . . isnít that the lady that saved your uncle?"
"No, why would she be on the net?"
"I think it is her. Look at it."
"Yeah, it looks like her, but why would she be here?"
"Well, they say she doesnít remember her name. Maybe her familyís looking for her. Whatís it say?"
"Thereís an email address. What do you think?
"What should I say?"
"Ask them if sheís a doctor."
"Okay." Josh composed a short email and hit send.
"We canít wait for a reply. Weíll have to check back later." They signed off and snuck back into their room.
It was several hours before they were able to get alone again with a phone line. There were seven responses to their email. Each increasingly frantic.
[Chill guys. Weíre back on-line.] Josh wrote.
The answer came back immediately. [Where are you?]
"Should we tell them?"
"I donít know. We hit the jackpot when we asked if she was a doctor. What if sheís hiding from them?" That stopped them both.
"We need to find out who they are."
[Weíre friends. Tell her Byers is helping locate her.]
[She wonít know Byers, she doesnít even know her own name.]
[Are you serious? Is she okay?]
[Yeah, she just canít remember her name. Whereís she from?]
[DC. Tell us where you are, Iíll come get her. She needs to come home. Her family thinks sheís dead.]
"I think we should tell them."
"Yeah, yeah go ahead."
[Carbury, North Dakota]
[Whatís the nearest airport?]
[The nearest would be Minot, but itís an air force base. Then you have at least an hour and half drive, if the roads are clear. Whatís her name?]
[Dana Scully. Iíll take the next flight out, but itíll probably be tomorrow before I can get there. Let her know Iím coming.]
Byers turned to the guys. "Okay, if it is her, sheís in North Dakota in the middle of west nowhere, but near an airforce base. Why donít I like the sound of that?"
"Maybe we should tell Skinner."
"Heíd think we were crazy, more so than usual. Heís convinced Scully is dead because of the evidence heís seen. Heís not going to listen to us."
"Well that means one of us has to go get her and bring her back. What do our funds look like?"
"Meager as usual. What if itís not her? We canít afford to go traipsing around the country."
"This is the only lead weíre received that sounds legit. And we owe Mulder big time. If theyíve taken her memories she might never find her way home alone. I say we take the chance. Itís only money and weíve been without before."
"Yeah. I agree. Who should go?" Langley and Frohike both turned to look at Byers.
"Yeah, youíre right. Either of you two show up and sheíll run on her own."
"Thanks, I resemble that." Frohike retorted as he reached for his wallet.
Actually reaching the hospital in Carbury, North Dakota was the most exhausting thing Byers had ever done. Plane changes, puddle jumpers, rent cars, snow and ice and countless other annoyances seemed destined to keep him from his destination. All he really wanted to do was crawl in a warm hole and stay there. But this was for Mulder and, of course, Scully.
His reception at the hospital was as frosty as the weather outside. The boys had not warned anyone of his arrival, to protect themselves as long as possible. When he asked for Scully he stirred a hornetís nest.
Byers was escorted by the sheriff and Dr. Hickman to a private room where he presented his id and his evidence that their "Red" was actually his friend Scully.
"We should let her meet him." Dr. Hickman finally said after going over all of the information on the table. "You are not to upset her, do you understand?"
"Yes, sir. I just want to make sure it really is her. Her family was told she was dead and evidence to that fact was presented. They donít know Iím here because we didnít want to get their hopes up. Please, just let me talk to her."
The sheriff stood and went to the door, motioning for his deputy to bring Red in. Dr. Hickman was watching Byersí reaction rather than hers. Byersí shoulders sagged and he closed his eyes in what seemed to be a short prayer of thanksgiving. It did a lot toward relieving the doctorís mind. He stood then and went to take Scullyís arm.
"Red, this fellow says he knows you and came to take you home. Do you recognize him?"
Scully stared at Byersí face carefully. She tried to take in all of his features from her safe distance at the door, unconsciously putting her hand on Dr. Hickmanís arm for reassurance. Finally she shook her head.
"I donít know him."
"Scully, please." Byers was desperate, he had to at least get a hearing from her.
She drew back even farther. "What did you call me?"
"Your name is Dana Katherine Scully. You live in Washington, DC and work for the FBI."
"No! Iím a doctor. I must be a doctor."
"Scully, you are! Please relax. I would never hurt you. Iíll explain, just sit down."
Instead she turned to Dr. Hickman. "How did he find me here? How did he know where to look?"
Byers didnít wait for the doctor to answer. "Weíve been looking for you ever since they tried to tell us you were dead. Mulder wouldnít believe it. He was convinced that if you were dead he would feel it. He. . . "
"Is Mulder my husband?"
That question caught him off guard. She remembered a husband? Well, that might complicate things, what should he say? Scully noticed his hesitation.
"Are you my husband?" She didnít look especially overjoyed at that prospect. Well, heíd known for years that she loved Mulder.
"Mulder is your partner. You, uh, you arenít officially married, but if you remember a man in your life, it would be him."
"Why didnít he come to get me?"
"Heís in the hospital. Your "death" was, um, very traumatic for him. My friends and I took over the search. We sent your picture out over the net and got a response from here."
"The net? Who?"
Dr. Hickman fielded that one. "We have some young men here who enjoy their computer a little more than was realized. They saw your picture and answered the email about you."
"I hope you donít plan to punish them, if I really have been found."
"Donít worry about them, an appropriate punishment will be found, Iím sure. Would you like to speak with Mr. Byers in private, or have me here? Either way would be fine with me."
"I know youíre busy. I can talk to him."
"Scully, we will not leave this building until youíre comfortable with me. I promise to answer your questions, I brought a lot of information with me. Please, I wonít hurt you."
Scully nodded to Dr. Hickman and the sheriff and they let themselves out. She came back to the table and sat across from Byers.
"The FBI?" She started.
"Yes. You are a forensic pathologist for them. Youíre very good. Your solve rate for crimes is much better than average for the bureau."
"Where do you come in?"
"Iím a friend of Mulderís, and you since you became his partner. My friends, Langly and Frohike," he paused hoping the names would be something to her. When she didnít react, he went on. "Weíve worked with you and Mulder on some cases, unofficially of course. We do a lot with computers and sometimes have access to unofficial sources."
"Youíre hackers." She stated.
"Yeah, we are." No sense denying it and she did know the word.
"How long have I been partners with Mulder?"
"Five years, almost since you got out of the academy."
She absorbed that, she had no memory of a man sheíd worked with for five years, except to believe he was her husband. Maybe this Byers had the wrong man. Maybe he didnít know about some personal aspect of her life.
"Have I known you the whole time?" Byers nodded, "But I could be married, and you not be aware of. . . "
"Scully, you wouldnít marry anyone except Mulder. Take that as fact. You two are together, if itís unofficial, itís because of bureau regulations."
"Can I see a picture of him?"
Byers ducked his head. "I thought we had one, but Frohike prefers you as a subject. I have some side views, but nothing you could recognize him from. Iím sorry."
"Tell me the rest, family, friends. . . "
So Byers brought her up to date on her mother, brothers, the fact that her father and sister were gone, her apartment, everything he thought sheíd care about. He had pictures of himself with Langly and Frohike, the bureau, even one shot of the office in the basement. He could feel her relax as they talked, her fear of him waning as he brought more and more evidence that he really did know her out of his bag. There were many pictures of her and she finally took the picture of Frohike in her hands and studied it.
"Why has he taken so many pictures of me?" She finally looked up.
"He thinks youíre hot." Byers blushed as he said it and Scully smiled for the first time.
"I suppose I should thank him, itís these pictures that the boys recognized isnít it?" He nodded. She looked up into his eyes, "Why hasnít this brought back anything? What was done to me?"
He swallowed. He had purposely avoided exactly what she and Mulder did. He knew if he brought up UFOs or government conspiracies or the para-normal heíd lose her. And he couldnít blame her for that. He decided to compromise.
"Listen, you and Mulder work in very sensitive areas. You work with things I donít know about, but itís possible that you were abducted to interfere with your work. I donít know, maybe you got too close to a truth that someone wanted kept quiet, so they separated you and made him believe heíd lost you forever."
"You said he was in the hospital, was he injured when I was taken?"
"No. He had to. . . identify your remains. He. . . it was more than. . . "
"He loves me?"
"Yes." He could answer that one directly and truthfully.