Title: Beauty's Beast
Author: Susan Proto
Written: March 1999
Category: Story, MulderTorture, Angst, M&S/UST/
Rating: PG13 for language
Spoilers: Through Sixth Season
Archive: Yes
Disclaimer: Mulder & Scully characters belong to 10/13 productions and Chris
Carter. I'm just borrowing them. I won't keep them. At the end of the story
you can have `em back, I swear, (unless you *want* to give `em to me.) All
other characters belong to me, and if Mr. Carter wants to borrow them, all he
needs to do is ask. <grin>

Summary: Mulder suffers love and loss.

 

Notes: Do I want feedback? Of course I want feedback! Will I respond to you? Of course I'll respond to you....but be patient.. I'm planning a Bar Mitzvah, and real life is a tad hectic! Thanks in advance for your understanding! For Vickie: ;-)

1.) Mulder ain't dead.

2.) Scully don't give a hoot about Emily.

3.) They're physically apart, but it ain't by their choice... and emotionally, they're as tight as ever! <G>

4.) There is a "No Dumping" sign posted in the disclaimers, just for you....<eg>

5.) But there is enough angst to go around for all....


Burke Rehabilitation Center Baltimore, MD
Tuesday, 2:45 p.m.

Mulder shifted in the bed, having totally forgotten the excruciating pain just that little action had caused him not five minutes earlier. "DAMN!" he shouted aloud. "Damn it!" he repeated with a little less vehemence.

He'd been in the rehab center for only a day and a half, but he'd already had enough of the confinement. To make matters worse, Scully was still out of town. She had to go back to Kentucky to finish up the remaining paperwork on the case that got him injured in the first place.

She hadn't wanted to leave him, but since she'd stayed by his side all through his initial hospital admittance, surgery, and recuperation period for the last ten days, the bureau was not about to grant her leave to baby sit Mulder while he went through rehab. So, she returned to the scene of the crime, and got stuck with filing all of the reports.

Mulder owed her big time. And at the moment he would have given anything to have been able to return with her if just to keep her company. He missed her. And his leg hurt like hell. And he wanted to go home. And he missed her. Oh. That was mentioned already. But he missed Scully a lot, and it made him feel even more miserable and in pain to not have her around to remind him everything was going to be okay.

So, for now, even though Mulder desperately wanted to go home, he knew the only way they'd discharge him was to make sure his leg was healed enough for him to be able to maneuver about.

Of course, with the amount of damage his leg had sustained, it seemed very unlikely he'd be released before the estimated three week time period. So for now, he simply wanted to find a more comfortable position in the bed to which he was now confined.

He didn't succeed. "SHIT!" he cried out in pain.

"Nice mouth," called out a hidden voice with an odd timbre. "You eat with that mouth too?"

"What?" Mulder responded in an irritated tone, as he had no idea as to where the person, whose voice he was listening to, was hiding.

"I said you seem to be suffering from 'potty mouth'."

"What the hell? Who the hell is talking? Show yourself for crying out loud!" Mulder was in too much discomfort to have to deal with both his leg and insults.

"Maybe I will, maybe I won't," taunted the voice.

"Who the hell are you? Where the hell are you?" Mulder asked in confusion, as he could hear the voice fairly clearly, but he didn't have a clue as to where or from whom it was coming. Now the paranoid side of him was coming out, and he was becoming, if nothing else, anxious about the seemingly lack of security in the facility. After all, he was an FBI agent who was shot in the line of duty. Mulder was in fact, becoming downright nervous.

He pressed again, "Look, I don't know who you are, but I know I want you out of my room now. So, whoever the hell you are, get the fuck out of here before I call security!"

"NO! Wait! Kelly. My name is Kelly. You like the name Kelly?" asked the slightly raspy, somewhat nasal voice.

"Oh, yeah. I - love - the name Kelly," he said with little patience. Mulder was in pain and having an unknown person hiding somewhere in his room was not sitting well with him at the moment. "Look, Kelly, I would appreciate it if you would either come out of hiding, or get the hell out of here. I'm not feeling too great at the moment, and I don't feel like dealing with this crap right now."

Mulder in fact felt rather nauseous at that moment, and would have given anything for a garbage can to hold onto for security. He was trying to go cold turkey in using pain killers, but the intense stabbing sensation which now pulsated up and down his thigh was making him feel sick to his stomach.

"Kelly, where ever the hell you are, I need that trash can over there. Now. Please I need it now!" Mulder pleaded, as he felt his stomach do enough flip flops to make up for ten Coney Island Cyclone roller coaster rides.

Several moments passed and there was no response, when suddenly from behind the closet door, a small figure appeared. Her head was down, but Mulder could see she had a full head of dark, brown hair.

"Kelly? The trash can, please hurry!" he pleaded anxiously.

She kept her head down and moved as quickly as she could to the trash can on the side of the bed. She picked it up and pushed it toward Mulder. He took it greedily and immediately put it to good use.

Mulder vomited the contents of his breakfast and his lunch. His leg continued to throb and now his head was pulsating to the same pounding rhythm. It took a few minutes for Mulder to finish emptying the contents of his stomach, but when he did, he felt totally whipped. All he could think of was pushing the call button to get the nurse so she would give him some meds. As much as he didn't want to have to use them, he knew at that point in time, he didn't have a choice.

When he finally felt like he was able to pick his head up out of the trash can, he got a better look at the small figure in the room with him. It was a child; a young girl, though since she still hadn't looked up Mulder couldn't determine how old she was. Her face remained clearly pointed to the floor as if she were intent upon counting the tiles beneath her feet.

While Mulder contemplated the small figure before him, he reached for the pitcher of water on the table right beside his bed. He poured himself some water and sipped it very, very slowly through the straw.

The child then slowly raised her head with her eyes opened wide, as if to offer him a dare. When he continued to sip slowly on the straw and drink his water, she remarked with a slight edge to her voice, "Okay, I'm impressed."

"Impressed?" he echoed, not sure as to what to say next.

"Yeah. Not a shudder, not flinch. I'm impressed," she repeated.

Mulder nodded slightly in acknowledgment of what she'd just said and then responded, "Yeah, well, you'd be surprised what I've seen in my line of work."

"Oh."

Mulder noted the look of what appeared to be surprise on her face. At least he thought it was surprise. He maintained a neutral expression himself, but It was, to be honest, difficult to discern exactly what expression the child was expressing on her rather uniquely formed face.

He noted her slightly larger than expected head with its somewhat flattened face, which caused the child's eyes to be spread farther apart than normal. Her nose was actually wider and much flatter as well.

She fell silent for a moment as she wasn't sure how to respond to Mulder's rather atypical 'lack of response.' Finally, she went with what she felt most comfortable with; taken from the old adage, 'a good defense is a good offense.'

"You know, they don't know what they're talking about," she said very confidently.

"Who doesn't know what they're talking about, and what is it that they're talking about?" he asked curiously.

"Well, they're talking about you, but they're wrong. Your nose is too big; way too big for your face." It was a presented as a statement of fact.

"Excuse me?" he remarked incredulously. "What are you talking about, young lady?"

"The nurses keep saying how gorgeous you are, but your nose is too damn big!" she said matter of fact.

"Umm, watch your own 'potty mouth' young lady," he said. "And my nose may be too big, but yours is pretty much nonexistent, so I guess we should call this one a draw, okay?"

Kelly stood there with her mouth practically gaping open. Had he actually said what he said? Kelly wasn't sure how to react to this new found candor.

"What's your name?" she asked in attempt to divert them both.

"Mulder."

"Mulder? That's a ridiculous first name," she responded.

"Never said it was my first name."

"Oh. So, what's your first name?" Kelly asked.

"Doesn't matter, since you're never going to use it," he responded in rapid fire succession.

"Oh? And why not?" Kelly retorted.

"Because, I don't allow anyone to use it," he replied, "My own mother even calls me Mulder."

"Oh, bullshit," she reacted.

"Damn potty mouth," he muttered.

They stared at one another, in an apparent standoff. Minutes passed, when she finally asked, "Why you here?"

"Screwed up my leg chasing down a bad guy," he said.

"You're a cop?" she asked curiously.

"Kind of. FBI agent." Mulder paused for a minute and then asked the same question of her. "What's your excuse?"

"Oh, I had another stupid surgery on my spine. I gotta go through these stupid exercises and stuff, so I don't get all out of whack again," she replied. "But it's okay. I like this place better anyway. It's kind of like my home away from home," she chuckled a bit as she said that, as if she'd made a joke.

Suddenly the door to Mulder's room swung open and one of the floor nurses, Lin Hu, walked in. "So there you are, Miss Porter. We've been looking for you, sweet pea! Time for your therapy session. Let's get you a chariot and get you over there PDQ."

He watched as Kelly, a mere wisp of a child, nodded compliantly at Lin and went to the door. Before she left, however, she turned to Mulder, and said in her best 'Terminator' voice, "I'll be back."

Mulder responded in the only way he could. In his best 'Arnold' impersonation, he said, "I'll be here."


When Lin Hu escorted Kelly Porter out of his room, Mulder had a chance to reflect upon what had just occurred, though he wasn't able to make too much sense out of it. Kelly was a child with physical problems which went beyond her spinal surgery. She had facial deformities as well as tumor like growths on her face and neck.

Mulder had also observed the skin around Kelly's eyes seemed to bulge out. There was definitely something odd about the construct of her eye sockets, but Mulder wasn't sure what it was. The most noticeable characteristic about Kelly's face, however, was the numerous small, dark brown, beauty marks around her face and neck which framed the small tumors scattered around her face.

Upon reflection, Mulder couldn't believe he'd made the crack about her nose, yet he hadn't meant it cruelly. Granted it was rapid fire retort to her comment about his nose, but it was a more of a statement of fact, much in the same way Kelly was referring to Mulder's too big nose as a statement of fact. He could understand if the child was insulted, but she didn't seem to be. Granted, she seemed surprised, but not upset.

At this point, however, Mulder wasn't sure if he even wanted to think about the scenario which had just taken place; he had enough of his own problems to worry about. Mulder certainly didn't need to worry about those of a young girl with enough medical problems to make his own seem very insignificant.

Yet, he couldn't get her expression out of his mind when he threw her own imperfections back up in her face. It was certainly one of surprise, but tinged with something he thought might have been one of respect, or perhaps even gratitude.

Of course, moments after she'd gone and he'd finished focusing on someone other than himself, the pain in Mulder's leg returned in full force. He rang his buzzer in the hope he'd find relief as quickly as possible.


4:15 p.m.

"So, Fox, what's up?" Kelly asked as she wheeled herself into Mulder's room about ninety minutes later.

"How the hell did you find out my name?" he asked annoyed, though he was pretty sure it was more because the pain meds still hadn't kicked in by then.

"Checked your chart, Fox," she said, with an obvious emphasis on his given name.

"Look, I would really appreciate it if you didn't call me that. I'm asking you nicely. Please," he pleaded firmly.

"So, how come your Mom hated you so much she named you 'Fox'?" Kelly asked.

"Why are you assuming my mother hated me? My mother didn't hate me. It's my mother's maiden name. She wanted to keep the name going," he said.

"So it couldn't have stayed alive as your middle name?" she asked incredulously. "God, Fox, how many times did you have to defend yourself because of that dumb ass name?"

"Too many times," he muttered. Once again he shifted around in the bed and tried to get comfortable. He was not succeeding and was becoming more and more upset. For some reason the pain meds the nurse had given him earlier now felt as if they were nothing more than sugar pills. His leg started acting up immediately. "God damn leg hurts like a mother fucker!" Mulder gasped.

"You want me to get Lin? " she asked earnestly.

"Yeah. Kelly, please. It suddenly feels like my leg is burning up," he explained through clenched teeth.

Kelly, who was still in her wheelchair, pushed herself to the door, opened it, and then called out loudly, "Mulder needs an infection inspection!" She waited for an acknowledgment from the main desk and then returned to Mulder.

"They said two minutes. Hang in there, Mulder. Two minutes isn't too bad," she said encouragingly.

"Okay. I know, but damn, it hurts. This wasn't supposed to happen. I was supposed to be clear of this shit," he bemoaned.

Lin walked in the door with Doctor Crane in tow. "Okay, Mr. Mulder, what can we do for you?"

"My leg. Hurts like hell, and it feels like it's burning up," Mulder complained.

"Okay, Mr. Mulder-," the doctor began before he was quickly cut off by Kelly.

"He likes to be called 'Mulder'. And that's Secret Agent Mulder to you!" retorted Kelly.

Mulder managed to cast a smile over Kelly's innocent slip of the tongue. Secret Agent Man. Mulder thought that sounded way 'kewler' than just ' Special Agent'. However, the only thing he was truly concerned about being 'cooler' was his leg. It really did feel warm to the touch.

"Okay, Agent Mulder, let's check out the leg." The doctor gave a perfunctory exam of the leg wound and subsequent stitches. The leg felt tender to the touch of the doctor's hands, which meant Mulder was probably not going to be walking on it in the near future. At that moment, he didn't care anymore. He simply wanted some relief from the pain.

"Well, it looks like you've developed a little infection in the incision, Mr. Mulder. Everything had been progressing well, so I'm surprised you developed an infection at this point, but, it's not unheard of. We'll get you started on a nice little antibiotic cocktail and have you up and ready for therapy in a couple of days," Dr. Crane concluded.

"Thanks, Doc. What about the pain. Can I get something for it?" he asked.

"We'll try some Tylenol (r) with codeine Mr. Mulder. That should do the trick," he replied. He nodded toward Lin Hu and she went off to pick up a dosage of the Tylenol (r). "So, Miss Porter," the doctor said, as he turned toward the younger of the two patients in his care, "have you been harassing one of my patients?"

"C'mon, Doc, give a kid a break! It's soooo, darrrrrn, booooring in this place! What's a kid to do if not harass the other patients?" Kelly replied dramatically.

Dr. Crane smiled at Kelly's performance. He felt compassion for her, as did the rest of the staff who were familiar with Kelly's circumstances. "Okay, Miss Porter, we need to let Mr. Mulder-"

"-Mulder! Just plain, Mulder," Kelly insisted.

"Fine, we need to let - Mulder - rest for now. I'm sure he wouldn't mind a little more harassing tomorrow, but for now, he needs to let the medication do its job without any interference from you, young lady."

"Oh, okay," Kelly agreed begrudgingly, "but I'm gonna check on you later, just to make sure they're treating you all right. Okay, Mulder?"

"Sure, Kelly. I'd like that," replied Mulder. What surprised the hell out of him was he really meant it.


6:25 p.m.

A couple of hours passed and the phone rang Mulder out of his stupor. He reached for it blindly, as he found it difficult to deal with the light with his opened eyes. When he picked it up, he said a mumbled, "Mulder," to which he heard the reply, "Mulder, it's me."

He woke up right quick after that.

"Scully? Is that you?" His tone of voice was frightfully close to that of an adolescent's whine. "What time is it?" he asked confused.

"It's going on six-thirty, Mulder. What's going on? You're not sleeping on the job, are you?" she asked in jest.

"Naw, Scully. I'm getting ready to do an Irish Jig for you," he replied in kind. "So, what's going on? Are you coming home soon?"

"Not soon enough. Mulder, the bullet that hit you? You're not going to believe what the ballistics tests finally showed up; at least once they decided to unbury it."

"What? What are you talking about?" Mulder asked curiously while working very hard to maintain his control over the still intolerable pain in his infected leg.

"You were hit by friendly fire, my dear partner."

"What? Friendly fire? Damn. You're kidding. Who?"

"Officer Gregory Halpern. Third year on the force. First shoot. Can you imagine? The poor guy gets his first shot in , and it has to be against a fellow officer.

"Funny, I would think he'd have won the office pool," Mulder muttered.

"C'mon, Mulder. None of that, okay? Now, how are you doing? Did you have a good therapy workout?" Scully asked with concern.

"Well, no. Umm, I mean, they had to reschedule my therapy for tomorrow, since they were, umm, overbooked," Mulder explained weakly.

"Oh? That's rather unusual, isn't it , Mulder?"

"Yeah, I guess, but you know things are never mundane when I'm around, Scully."

"True, true," she chuckled, not giving the lame excuse another thought. "So, how - is - the leg feeling?" Scully asked curiously.

"Fine," he replied. "I feel just fine."

Which of course should have been Scully's first clue that everything was definitely not fine.


Kelly had taken up residence in the closet just prior to Scully's phone call, so she'd heard the entire side of Mulder's conversation. She was a pretty smart kid, and was able to fill in the missing points of interest fairly easily.

For one, she learned that much like herself, Mulder lied through his teeth when he didn't want to draw attention to himself or share bad news. She'd watched him throughout the entire phone call, and she watched him wince every time he shifted in the bed or said he felt 'fine.'

Kelly wasn't positive who this Scully was, though her people sense knew Scully had to be a woman. The man practically melted into the pillow when he'd realized it was her. So, not only was Scully a woman, but she was a woman who Mulder was in love with. Time to find out exactly who this Scully person was.

"So? Who the hell is Scully?" Mulder practically jumped out of the bed he was so startled!

"Jeeze! You have got to stop doing that!" Mulder cried out. "God they're gonna have me in for a God damned coronary instead of just rehab for my leg." At the mere mention of his leg, Mulder winced. He was still in pain, and he couldn't understand why. The antibiotics usually kicked in a lot faster than this. He then looked over at his visitor and something occurred to him.

"Kelly, how long have you been in there?"

"Not long," she hedged, but when she looked up at Mulder she confessed a bit more, "Oh, just for a little while."

"Kelly, you really can't be coming in here without being invited in. Please. There are times I would appreciate my privacy and being absolutely certain that I have it. Please?" he pleaded.

"Sure, okay," she responded quickly. She saw Mulder still looked a bit annoyed, so she added a not very contrite, "Sorry." Mulder nodded in acknowledgment, to which Kelly immediately asked, "So? Who is Scully?"

"Christ, Kelly! Isn't anything sacred," he snorted with a slight chuckle. The kid had so much moxie, he couldn't stay angry with her for too long.

"Sure, but who is she? Wife?"

"No! No, she's not my wife, and how the hell do you know she's a woman?" he asked curiously.

"Oh, women just know these things, Fox."

"Mulder," he reminded in a deadpan.

"Right. So if she's not your wife, what is she, your girlfriend?"

He actually hesitated. He hadn't meant to, of course, since Scully was not in any way, shape, or form his girlfriend. Oh, but how he wished it to be true. When he finally came to his senses, he replied, "That would not be very accurate. She's not my girlfriend; she is my partner."

"Oh, another secret agent, huh?" Kelly responded excitedly.

Mulder laughed lightly as he corrected her miscue again, "Special Agent, kiddo, not 'Secret' Agent. God, you make us sound like we work for the CIA instead of the FBI."

"Oh. Well, how are you feeling now?" she asked. Kelly was astute enough to see the face that was smiling not seconds ago, took on a pained expression.

"Okay. I'm fine," he answered automatically.

"You lie," she retorted quickly.

"What?" he looked at her incredulously. How the hell did she know? "What are you talking about?"

"Mulder, I can see it in your face. And I was watching you when you were talking to Scully. Every time she asked you how you were doing, you said you were fine, but every single time you said it you made a face. The same face you made just now!" she animatedly explained.

"A face? C'mon, Kelly. I don't know what you're talking about," rebuked Mulder.

"Oh, yeah? You make - this - face," and she then proceeded to make a small grimace with her mouth. She squinted slightly with her eyes, and she tried to squinch up her nose a bit, but the facial deformity didn't allow her to do that part of her imitation justice.

"I look like that?" he asked with a dubious tone.

"Yep. Look, I'll show you. She opened up one of the night tables and pulled out a hand held mirror she knew they kept in there. She stood up gingerly, and moved to be by Mulder's bedside. Next, she asked Mulder to tell her why he didn't tell Scully the truth about his leg, to which he replied without hesitation, "I'm fine, Kelly!"

The youngster was fast on the draw and held the mirror up very quickly. Mulder could plainly see that, with the exception of his wrinkled nose, Kelly had his expression down to a tee. He closed his eyes then and sighed.

"I can't tell her yet. There's nothing she can do about it at the moment, and it would only make her feel badly," he said softly. He paused momentarily, and then just started talking as if he needed the catharsis. "She's stuck in Kentucky. The guy who shot me turned out to not be the perp, but one of Lexington's finest. Scully's gotta stay in town for the internal investigation since she's one of the few eye witnesses. Lucky her." He then added in a whisper, "Unlucky me."

"You were shot by a cop?" Kelly asked unbelievingly.

"Yep. Like I said, 'unlucky' me," he replied.

"So, how come no one else has comes to visit you?" she asked curiously.

"Brazen little pistol, aren't you?" Mulder asked rhetorically, but Kelly nodded enthusiastically in agreement anyway.

"Don't have anyone around to visit me," he explained wearily. "My mother lives in Connecticut, so it's not a little jaunt around the corner for her to come and see me," he explained.

"Ya mean she didn't come to see you when you first got shot?" she asked incredulously.

"Well, no. I mean, she had a stroke a few years back, and she's never been quite the same physically," he stammered.

"Bullshit."

"Kelly, knock it off," Mulder admonished.

"But it is, Fox! Your mother is supposed to visit you when your sick or hurt," Kelly protested.

"Yeah? So where's your mother?" he asked in frustration. Of course, he regretted the words as soon as they were out of his mouth. "Kelly, I'm sorry. It's none of my business."

"Naw, it's okay. I never said my mother was Cher. Guess yours isn't either," she proposed.

"Cher? I'm sorry, but now you're confusing the hell out of me," he replied.

"C'mon, Fox, surely you know the movie 'Mask.' You know, the one with Cher and that guy who's now on Chicago Hope playing a really weird holistic kind of doctor? Eric Stoltz. That's what his name is. I keep forgetting his name.

"Well, anyway, remember? Eric Stoltz played this kid named Rocky. I don't remember what his last name was, but it don't matter. Anyway, he had something like NF or maybe Proteus Syndrome or something, but the point is, he was an ugly sonofabitch, just like me.

"But Cher loved him cause he was her baby. And all of Cher's biker friends liked him too, cause he was Cher's son. I guess not every mother can be like Cher, can they?" she asked wistfully.

He looked at her for a moment and tried to imagine what the world saw when they looked at Kelly Porter, for he suddenly realized he saw a very different person. He wanted to tell her there was a Cher out there for her, hell, for both of them. But he knew he could never lie to her. He respected her too much to ever lie to her.

"No, Kelly," he responded. "I don't suppose there are too many Chers out there at all."

"Ya think there are any at all? I mean, it was a stupid movie, right? Maybe even Cher wasn't like, for real."

No, he could never lie to her, but he could never burst her dreams either. "No, I'm sure Rocky's mom was pretty cool, Kelly," he said confidently.

"Ya think?" asked the teenager, her tone brightening.

"Yeah," he said, and then just to make sure she understood, he added, "Yeah, Sweetheart, I'm pretty damned sure.


8:15 p.m.

He looked really tired, so Kelly told Mulder to try and let the pain killers do their job and get some rest. Besides, she was pretty whipped herself. It was hard work making a new friend.

'Specially since she'd never made one before.

Oh, sure, she'd known people who treated her okay, but those were the doctors and nurses, and the therapy staff. They were paid to be nice to her. She'd never known anyone who would treat her nice 'cause they wanted to.

Her parents should have fit into that category, but of course they didn't. Her dad had left when Kelly was only about three, maybe three and a half years of age. The tumors had been popping out already, but they'd been contained to her spinal area and the neck.

And of course the Scoliosis was most noticeable by the time she was five. The curvature of her spine made her look like even more of a freak than the disfigurement on her face.

So, Dad took a hike and left Mom holding the bag; over the baby's face of course. She found it very difficult to look beyond the tumors and the brown beauty marks that covered much of her neck and the right lower part of her chin.

Nope, Mom was no Cher.

Not that her mom ever beat her or abused her physically. She simply couldn't look at her without seeing a little crippled kid before her eyes, and Kelly got to a point where she couldn't stand it any longer.

So, she ran away. More than just a few times. Many, many times.

And the courts finally got tired of picking her up for the petty crimes she committed to keep food in her stomach and clothes on her back. She wished she could have headed up a group of misfits, but even they felt they were too mainstreamed for the likes of her.

So where was Cher when she needed her? Nowhere to be found. But she found the next best thing. She found herself a Fox.

Better than that, she found herself a friend.


12:55 a.m.

She'd quietly returned to his room, just to check up on him. She'd been around doctors and nurses so much of her young life, Kelly felt she should put an R.N. or M.D. next to her name. She cracked the door slightly to make sure she wouldn't startle him if he was awake. When she didn't hear anything unusual, Kelly assumed he was asleep.

The teenager pushed the door in all the way and walked in. She saw Mulder was sleeping, or rather, trying to sleep. When Kelly put the small overhead light on, she could see he was extremely flushed, and he was sweating. She touched his forehead lightly to check to see if he was as warm as he looked. Mulder unconsciously leaned into the touch and groaned softly with discomfort.

He was warm. Very warm. Yet Kelly also noted he was huddled under the blanket which meant he had the chills. She realized the infection was nowhere near under control, so she buzzed for the nurse.

The night nurse probably wouldn't be as understanding of Kelly's night time visits as Lin Hu would be, but Kelly knew she didn't have any choice. Not if she wanted to see Mulder get well, she didn't.

Leslie Perkins appeared at Mulder's door a few minutes later. She was aware he'd developed a case of cellulitis around his incision, so she expected to hear some pleas for more analgesics. Needless to say, Leslie was more than just a little surprised to see Kelly Porter standing next to her patient's bed.

"Miss Porter? What brings you here at such a late time?" Leslie asked sternly. "Shouldn't you be in bed young lady? You have your own recovery to consider, you know," she reminded.

"I know, I know. Like it's really gonna matter," she muttered and then more forcefully said, "But look at him. He's supposed to be getting better with the antibiotics, and he's not. He's worse Mrs. Perkins. He's a lot worse than from earlier this evening."

"All right, Kelly. Let me check his temperature, and I'll page Dr. Stewart as well, okay?" Perkins asked.

Kelly nodded and then thought to herself that perhaps Perkins wasn't so bad after all.


1:15 a.m.

Leslie hadn't liked what she saw and paged Dr. Stewart immediately. Mulder's temperature was elevated to over 103. This was way too high for someone on antibiotics. Obviously, a new regimen was going to have to be prescribed immediately.

While she'd waited for the doctor to appear, Leslie had taken a quick look at the infected area. The area was screaming with redness, and with a tight, glossy appearance of the skin. What truly alarmed her was the thin red line that seemed to creep along up toward Mulder's heart.

This was definitely not the symptoms of a man who'd been on antibiotics for several hours. When Dr. Stewart had finally appeared, Leslie had pointed out all of her observations.

"Well done, Leslie. You made a good pick up," the doctor praised.

"Actually Doctor, I have to confess it wasn't my pick up," replied Leslie. When the doctor looked at her curiously, she explained, "It was Kelly. She's the one who came in to check on Mr. Mulder, and she's the one who buzzed me when she'd realized he was running a fever and still in pain."

"Really? Good job! I do believe, Miss Porter, we should put an R.N. right next to your name!" he reacted.

Kelly thought to herself rather smugly, *Told ya so.* However she came out of that reverie fairly quickly when she heard Perkins and Stewart planning Mulder's next course of treatment.

"We'll start him on a new round of antibiotics, but I want a blood work up. I'm a little concerned we might have the beginnings of Sepsis here, and, on top of the Cellulitis and trying to recover from the gunshot wound, well, I don't want to be in this poor guy's shoes at the moment.

"We should notify his family about the new course of treatment," Dr. Stewart concluded.

"He doesn't have any family near here. His mother lives in Greenwich, but she won't come here," Kelly informed them. The nurse and doctor looked at the youngster with a amazement. They couldn't imagine how she was able to wheedle that information out of Mr. Mulder.

"You'd better call his partner. Her name is Scully, and he really wants her here, but she's in Lexington, Kentucky, finishing up the reports from the case he was just on. You know, the one where he was shot."

Once again, the two members of the medical staff stood in awe of the mere wisp of a child before them. Both them nodded in appreciation of the information the child provided, but then Leslie said, "Kelly, we are most grateful for all of this information. It will certainly help Mr. Mulder, I no doubt. However, you, my dear child, must get into bed and get some rest. Your health is every bit as precarious as Mr. Mulder's is right now, and you know it," Leslie admonished. "Now, off to bed with you, young lady. I mean it."

Leslie Perkins looked at the petite figure before her. The nurse was experienced enough to know the adolescent didn't look upon her with the same feeling of comfort as perhaps she felt with Lin Hu, but Leslie felt compassion for the child nonetheless. She'd seen Kelly in the rehab center more times than anyone would have wanted. The number of tumors which needed to be removed never seemed to end, but of late, more and more were finding their way to Kelly's spinal cord.

However, the last tumor the doctors had found was the most dangerous of all. It was at the base of the skull, and it was growing inside of the spinal cord and up through to the brain matter.

And it was growing, quickly. Too quickly.

And it was inoperable.

And the child knew it was only a matter of time.

Leslie held her hand out to point her towards the door.

Kelly nodded and reluctantly turned around to leave the room. Leslie, however, called out to her before she left the room.

"Kelly!" The child paused at the door, but did not turn around. "You did good tonight, Kelly. Real, real good," she praised.

Kelly smiled slightly and then returned to her room.


4:15 a.m.

Mulder woke up in a frenzy. He felt alternately hot and then chilled. His head pounded from the fever, and he also felt as if he couldn't catch his breath. Though he knew he'd never be able to fall back to sleep tonight, Mulder felt so fatigued he seriously considered asking for a sleeping pill.

He wished Scully was there with him. Scully would know what to do to help him. He didn't even realize he was calling her name aloud.

"Don't worry, Mulder. Scully will come," the child's voice said.

"Scully?" Mulder asked in confusion. "Scully, is that you?"

"No, Mulder. I'll call her. Do you want me to call her for you?"

"Scully. I want my Scully," he practically whimpered.

Kelly reached for the phone and dialed nine for an outside line. She knew she was taking a big chance in coming back into Mulder's room, but she sensed he needed someone, and since the doctor had told her she should have an R.N. next to her name, she figured she had every right to take on the role seriously. Besides, Kelly looked at Mulder's chart and saw a notation for them to call Scully in the morning.

They'd decided to wait to call her until the morning instead of getting her when Mulder needed her. Kelly decided that wasn't right. He needed her now, not hours from now.

"Mulder, what's Scully's phone number?" Kelly asked.

"Don't know. Don't know where she is," he mumbled.

"She's in Lexington, Kentucky, Mulder. But that doesn't matter, does it? Wouldn't Scully have a cell phone? What's her cell phone number?" she asked more firmly this time.

He mumbled a number, and Kelly quickly punched it in. When the youngster heard the ringing begin, it felt like her heart was dancing. Finally, she heard a voice say, "Scully. What's the matter, Mulder, you couldn't sleep and couldn't stand the thought of me actually getting some shuteye?"

"Hello, Scully? My name is Kelly, and-"

Scully cut the child off immediately. "Who is this? How did you get this phone number?" she asked abruptly.

"I told you. My name is Kelly. Kelly Porter. I'm in the same rehab joint as Fox. Though I know he hates me calling him Fox, he doesn't really care about that right now."

"What do you mean? Is something wrong? Has something happened to Mulder?" Scully now asked anxiously.

"Yeah, Scully. He's got something called cellu- Oh, I don't know, it sounds like cellulite, but his problem is definitely not fat thighs," groused Kelly.

"Cellulitis? He's got Cellulitis? When? How?" Scully asked in confusion.

"Yeah, that's it. What the hell is it, anyway?" Kelly asked.

"It's basically a nasty inflammation of the connective tissue of the skin," she recited in perfect textbook form, and then murmured more to herself than to Kelly, "probably a staphylococcus or maybe streptococcus bacterial infection."

"Oh," replied Kelly, not totally understanding everything Scully said.

"I'd just spoken to him last evening," said Scully with frustration. "I don't understand.""

"He didn't want to worry you," Kelly began to explain, "so he didn't say anything. He told me there wasn't anything you could do about it, and it would only make you feel bad, so he thought it was better to not tell you until you could come and visit him.

"But, Houston, we have a problem," Kelly continued.

"Damn him for keeping this to himself," cried out Scully. "When is he ever going to learn it's better not to keep things from me, even when he thinks he's protecting me?!" Then, she forced herself to push all of her fears and emotions aside to put on her doctor's hat. "What's wrong with him, Kelly? Didn't they start him on antibiotics?" Scully asked in an attempt to clarify his condition.

"Yeah, but they aren't working, and now the doctor is worried about Septic something," she answered.

"Sepsis? They're worried about Mulder developing Sepsis? Oh, shit!" she cried out.

"What?!" asked Kelly in alarm. "Is that worse than that cellulitis stuff?"

"Yes, Kelly. It's worse. It's life threatening if it's not treated properly. Damn it! This shouldn't have happened in the first place! How could he have been exposed to all of this bacteria and become infected? If he develops septic shock, someone has a whole lot of explaining to do. Damn it," she cursed in frustration.

"Okay," Scully continued, "I have to notify the people here I need to skip out on them, but tell Mulder I'm coming. Please. Tell him I'll be there later this morning, okay?"

"Yeah, Scully. I'll tell him, but I'm gonna hold the phone to his ear and let you tell him yourself," Kelly suggested.

"You're in his room with him? Right now?" Scully asked incredulously.

"Yeah."

"Thank you, Kelly. Thank you for being there for him," Scully said from the bottom of her heart.


5:40 a.m.

When Leslie Perkins found Kelly back in Mulder's bedroom there was hell to pay. The nurse wasn't too pleased when Kelly also informed her she'd already called Scully, so there was no need to put in another call.

"Thank you, Miss Porter, but now it's time to let me do my job, so the next shift will have a better idea as to what they're dealing with. We have to get Mr. Mulder ready for transport," said Leslie.

"What? Where you transporting him?" Kelly asked aghast.

"Sweetheart, this is a rehabilitation center. He needs more of an acute care facility. He needs to be in a place where they're familiar with his case. He's not getting what he really needs here," Leslie said gently.

"But, he can't go," Kelly lamented.

"He has to, dear. None of us has a choice in this. I need to inform Miss Scully he's going to be moved this morning back to University of Maryland Medical Center," she said before she left the room.

Kelly looked at Mulder forlornly and said, "I don't want you to go."

Mulder heard her, or rather he heard the sadness in her voice. He desperately wanted to connect with her again and let her know he understood. He forced himself to focus, and he became coherent for the first time in hours.

"Hey, Kiddo, it'll be okay. When they clear up the damn infection, they'll transfer me back here so you can abuse me again, okay? Can't stay away from my best girl, now, can I?"

"Best girl? I thought Scully was your best girl," Kelly said. She was fishing, and she knew it.

"Scully's my beautiful, best woman, but you are my beautiful, best girl," Mulder replied softly.

Kelly looked at him with wide eyes. Did she just hear him say what she thought she'd heard him say?

Did he just call her 'beautiful?' No one had ever used that word in the same sentence with the name Kelly Porter. Never.

And now thanks to her new friend, Kelly Porter felt, for the first time in her life, beautiful.


University of Maryland Medical Center
6:45 a.m.

Mulder was admitted and made as comfortable as possible in his hospital bed in the ICU. There were too many variables for them to consider placing him in a regular room on the medical ward.

First, he was still recovering from the gunshot wound to the leg. Second, he had Cellulitis, and was now certainly showing signs of Sepsis. Finally, the medical staff wanted the time to go over Mulder's charts from the initial gunshot wound with a fine tooth comb.

They wanted to be sure they did not play a role in this latest bout with infection. They feared they may have left themselves open to a malpractice suit, so they planned on treating Mr. Mulder with kid gloves from this point on.

Mulder continued to cry out for Scully, and on occasion, he even tried calling for Kelly. There was no one around to offer him a comforting hand, and that was what he longed for most at the moment.


7:05 a.m.

Meanwhile, Scully was on her way back to Maryland. The Lexington PD were not too happy with her decision to leave before the internal investigation was completed, but Scully let it be known there was no alternative to her decision. She did inform them that as soon as Mulder was stable, she would return if she were still needed.

But at the moment, as she sat on the runway waiting for the plane to take off, Scully couldn't help but wonder if Murphy's Law was somehow written specifically for Mulder. It really did seem that if something could go wrong where Mulder was concerned, there was no doubt that it, indeed, would.

It was a gunshot wound. Granted, gunshot wounds are never to be taken lightly, but it was certainly not nearly as serious as the one he'd taken a few years back. He hadn't lost nearly as much blood as he had back then. The bullet did do some damage to the muscle in the leg, hence the need for rehab. But as bullet wounds went, this one was routine.

Routine. Right. As if anything that affected Mulder was ever routine.

And now he was in a hospital bed in the throes of a horrible infection. And try as she might, she couldn't seem to get to him any faster than a snail could make it round the world, and it was frustrating the hell out of her. Scully sat in her seat and closed her eyes to say a silent prayer. Maybe, if nothing else worked, she could will the plane to take off.


7: 15 a.m.

Kelly Porter laid in bed and felt a pain like she'd never felt before. It wasn't the physical pain; she was used to that. It was a feeling in her heart that caused her to feel queasy and lightheaded.

It was a feeling of helplessness and hopelessness, yet at the same time she felt an unmitigated joy. She was given a gift these last few days that she'd never thought she would possess.

She was blessed with a friend. A real friend, who saw beyond the ugly tumors and the horrible brown spots, crooked spine, and odd looking facial features. She'd found a real, true friend, whom she feared might be taken away from her, or at the very least, she feared she would not have the opportunity to see him again.

It was the former possibility that made her feel physically ill. The latter made her feel simply sad. For all of them.

But the fact that the headaches had begun again were probably a good indication the second scenario would be the more likely outcome. She wondered if she dared ask Lynn if there were any possible way she could visit Mulder in the hospital.

She'd have to be very careful in how she worded her request, or she too might land back in a hospital room. Now, if she could guarantee it was UMMC, that would be okay. But somehow she doubted it, and she knew they'd simply bring her back to Johns Hopkins, her usual haunt.

She was frustrated, as she really wanted to see if her friend was okay. She was frustrated, because she wasn't sure if she'd live long enough to see that he was.


8:55 a.m.

Finally, Mulder fell asleep. He'd fallen into a deep sleep, and should have found some rest, but instead, his mind went into overdrive and he dreamed. He dreamed of the demons of his childhood, and of monsters, and of Cher.

Cher? He couldn't imagine how Cher infiltrated his rem sleep, but she did. Mulder wanted to talk with her and find out how it came to be she was able to love Rocky so completely. But she shushed him and said in that raspy, hoarse tone so classically associated with Cher, "Oh Fox, don't you know that's just make believe? You can't possibly believe anyone could love someone that completely. It's impossible, Fox. It's impossible!"

"But you loved Rocky, didn't you?" he asked hopefully.

"Oh, honey! That wasn't really Rocky, now you know that. That was Eric. He's an actor. He was hired to play Rocky. It wasn't my job to really love Rocky. The real Rocky was dead long before that movie was filmed anyway. Surely you knew that?" she asked assuredly.

"What?" Mulder suddenly felt confused and out of control. He didn't know what to say. The one thing that had grounded him all these years was his ability to believe in extreme possibilities. What was more extreme than believing a woman could unconditionally love her imperfect child?

He'd always wanted to believe in that, but experience taught him it wasn't always possible. It wasn't right, of course. Parents are supposed to love their children, no matter what. It's what makes them parents, or they shouldn't be allowed to keep their children.

He knew his own parents shouldn't have been allowed to keep him, especially after Sam's disappearance. They'd forgotten how to love him with all of his imperfections. They'd forgotten it was their job to love him even with all of the blemishes on his character and soul.

Cher was supposed to love Rocky, but Rocky was dead, so what was there to love? It's easy to love an imperfection after it's been wiped away. It's dealing with the fault while it's still visible; still in plain view.

"Kelly," he moaned. He needed to see Kelly. He had to let her know she wasn't an imperfection and that he never saw her as one. "Kelly," he moaned again. He had to tell her. She didn't know the truth. Kelly was still looking for Cher, but Rocky was dead, and it didn't matter anymore. Cher couldn't help her. Cher was simply an actress doing her job.

Mulder could help her though. But, Mulder felt as though he was running out of time. He needed to tell her, before their time ran out.


10:05 a.m.

Scully had been sitting by Mulder's bedside for almost forty minutes, but he was still in a deep sleep. When she'd first walked in, he was mumbling incoherently, though she was able to pick out the name 'Kelly' and, oddly enough, 'Cher'. She reached over to caress his cheek, when he slowly began opening his eyes.

"Good morning, Mulder. Long time no see," she said softly.

"Mornin'," he mumbled. He licked his lips and tried to find some moisture to wet them with, but he wasn't very successful. He watched Scully reach over him for the tray which held the pitcher of water and the cup and straw.

Scully smiled as she watched his face practically glow with anticipation over taking a sip of the liquid. "Go slow, okay?" she reminded as she placed the straw to his lips. He followed orders beautifully and released the straw from his mouth. Mulder then laid his head back on the pillow and whispered, "I'm sorry."

"Sorry?" she echoed in surprise. "Mulder, what do you have to be sorry for?"

"For getting sick and making you come back here," he confessed.

"Oh, Mulder, how could you possibly have anticipated the incision becoming infected? C'mon, you had no control over that. Besides, I was going crazy in Lexington and was looking for an excuse to escape. Of course, a call from our illustrious AD with a new, more pressing case would have been a much more sensible way to 'spring' me, but you've never been one to be sensible, have you, Mulder?"

"No, I guess not. Umm, Scully? Can I ask you a question?" When she nodded, he asked, "Umm, I know this probably sounds absurd, but, where am I?"

"UMMC," she replied. "The doctors over at the Maryland Rehabilitation Center felt they didn't have the capabilities to treat your infection or any possible complications, so they transferred you back to your original placement."

"Oh." He couldn't hide his disappointment.

"What's wrong?" Scully asked.

"I was hoping I was still at the rehab center. I mean, there's this kid there who I've gotten kind of close to," he explained.

"Kelly?" she asked in confirmation.

"Yeah," he said and then looked up with a startled expression. "How did you know?"

"I spoke with her," she explained.

"You did? When?" he asked in confusion.

"Very, very early this morning. She'd apparently sneaked into your room and saw you were still running a fever. You were calling me and she somehow managed to pry my cell phone number out of you. I'm so glad you work for the FBI, Mulder. Chinese water torture wouldn't elicit information from you, but a teenage girl who bats her eyes at you will!" she chuckled slightly as she teased him.

Mulder didn't take the bait though which surprised Scully. She figured for sure he would have come up with some kind of sexual innuendo that they could have bantered back and forth. Instead, he looked away and remained very quiet.

"Mulder? Did I say something wrong? If I did, I'm sorry." His head still faced away from Scully, and she didn't understand what she'd done to make him look away. "Please, Mulder, what's wrong?"

Still facing away, he said, "I think she would have been a very pretty girl." He fell silent again.

"Who?" Scully asked after several moments had passed. "Who would have been very pretty?"

When Mulder turned his head again to face Scully, she could see his eyes brimming with tears. Scully felt as if her heart was going to break when she saw how saddened he felt. "Mulder, who would have been very pretty?" He remained silent, so Scully ventured an educated guess, "Kelly?"

He nodded mutely, and the tears began to fall with equal silence. Scully pulled down the guard rail on the side of his good leg and climbed on to the bed and sat right next to him. She wrapped her arms around his shoulders and chest and asked quietly, "Can you tell me about her?"

He nodded, and after taking a few deep breaths he leaned into Scully more and began talking about the young girl he'd somehow grown very attached to in only a matter of hours. He told Scully about the conversation he'd had with the teen about the movie 'Mask' and Cher, (which now explained his mumbling when she'd first entered his room,) and the fact that he really didn't see her disabilities. She really was his beautiful, best girl, and he wanted Scully to get to know her.

Mulder really wanted to see her again for himself as well. Kelly helped keep him grounded when Scully wasn't there. "And besides-" he began.

"Besides, what?" Scully asked.

"I'm afraid for her. I just have a feeling something is terribly wrong, and I need to see her again," he admitted.

"I'll call the rehab center, Mulder. I'll see what I can do, okay?" she said. Mulder nodded his thanks and then nestled into Scully for some much needed comfort.


12:50 p.m.

Mulder had eventually fallen back to sleep and actually slept peacefully for a couple of hours. Scully had put in a call to her mother to let her know that, first, she was back in town, and second, she needed something edible for both her and Mulder at the hospital. Maggie Scully, like the cavalry, arrived with enough supplies to feed an entire unit.

Scully decided sharing the wealth with the nursing staff wasn't a bad idea to help insure a little extra TLC on their part. She figured they could use it as a credit for the time when Mulder started feeling better and he made a royal pest of himself.

While her mother was there to keep Mulder company, Scully decided it was a good time to call the rehab center to see if she could make arrangements for Kelly to visit Mulder. It seemed so important to Mulder; she hoped there wouldn't be a problem.


2:05 p.m.

Scully sat on the chair, stunned. All she could think was, 'He knew.' She didn't understand it, but she knew in her heart, Mulder felt something was wrong, and he needed to see the child.

After Kelly'd left Mulder, earlier that morning, she'd returned to her room. She'd wheeled herself over to the desk that was provided and pulled out her journal. She'd started keeping one as soon as she'd learned how to write, and she'd found it to be a great tension reliever. Whenever people were unkind to her or showed their ignorance of how to behave like a member of the human race, Kelly had often written her thoughts down in the journal. She'd already filled eight of them, and was nearly finished with this one too.

She knew it would be the last journal she would ever keep, so she wanted to be sure she recorded her final thoughts in a careful manner. And she knew just what she was going to write. Her best friend gave her the words; all she needed to do was write them down.

She wrote, "Dear Journal, It has been an interesting day and night. My new friend, Fox (who hates that name, and wants me to call him Mulder, so I do to his face, but I - LIKE - the name Fox, so I'll call him Fox here, okay, Journal?) is still very sick. They keep treating him with different antibiotics, but they don't seem to be working. I don't understand why he's still sick.

"I went into his room again tonight, cause I knew he was scared. It's strange, Journal, but it's almost like I could read his mind. I mean, I didn't actually know what he was thinking; it was more like I knew how he was feeling. And he was feeling so bad! So sick! I had to go back in there.

"And then I got him to give me Skully's (or is it Scully?) phone number. I talked to her, Journal. At first she didn't sound very nice, but then, then when I told her Fox wasn't feeling well and he needed her, she sounded so different. She loves him, Journal. Just like he loves her, she loves him. I hope they tell one another soon. When people love each other, it shouldn't be a secret.

"So, Mrs. Perkins shushed me out of his room after I'd told her we phoned Scully. She wasn't too pleased with me, but I think because she doesn't want me to get sick too. Everyone knows that's gonna happen sooner or later, but they're all so hell bent on prolonging the inevitable. Oh well, I was too tired to argue. I didn't get too much sleep tonight, Journal.

"Anyway, I was real upset when Mrs. Perkins told me they were moving Fox to the hospital. I didn't want him to go. I wanted him to stay here, with me. But Mrs. Perkins explained he couldn't get better here, so I didn't argue anymore.

"But Fox knew I was sad. I don't know how he knew; he was hardly awake, but he knew. He called Scully his beautiful, best woman, but he called me his beautiful, best girl. That's okay. I'm willing to share.

"He called me beautiful, Journal. I didn't think I'd ever hear that said about me. I didn't think I'd ever care whether it was said about me or not, but now that it was, I care. I really do care, Journal.

"I am beautiful. I am Fox Mulder's beautiful, best girl. I feel beautiful for the first time in my life.

"I feel happy for the first time in my life.

"I can die happy now, Journal.

"Love always, Kelly."


Kelly had been transferred to Johns Hopkins, where she'd been treated in the past for her Neurofibromatosis. The tumor on the base of her skull had grown so much, it began strangling her spinal cord and the brain tissue at the base of her skull. Suddenly, and without warning, Kelly lost consciousness as a result of the tumor's stranglehold on her lifeline.

They'd rushed her over to Johns Hopkins in an ambulance in the hope their medical team would be able to do something to reverse the effects.

But they were too late.

Kelly Preston, age fourteen, died at 10:25 a.m. of complications from Neurofibromatosis. Ironically, it was about the same time Mulder had told Scully he was afraid for his beautiful, best girl.


1:30 p.m.

Scully had done everything in her power to cleanse her eyes of the redness. She wasn't sure if now was the right time to tell Mulder of Kelly's death. She didn't want to keep something as important as this from him, but she didn't want to cause him any added stress that could hamper his healing process.

It didn't matter what options she considered though, because as soon as she walked through the door, Mulder knew something was wrong. Mulder sensed a change in her, and it discomforted him.

Maggie Scully knew something wasn't quite right also, but she didn't know what she could do about it. The best thing, she thought, was to give her daughter and her partner some privacy so they could deal with it. She quietly excused herself.

"You phoned the rehab center, didn't you?" he asked somewhat rhetorically.

"Yes."

"She can't come, can she," he said, more in the form of a statement rather than a question.

"No, Mulder, she can't come."

He looked at Scully, and within an instant, understanding came immediately. He gasped and grasped the sheets with both of his hands as tightly as he'd ever held anything before. "Scully!" he cried out, and she ran to him. He continued to hold on to the bed covers for dear life. He was so afraid of letting go, for he felt if he did, he'd go tumbling into despair without any hope of ever climbing back up out of it.

"Oh, Mulder," Scully whispered into his ear as she embraced him and held him tightly to her, "I am so sorry. I am so, so sorry."

He couldn't hold it in any longer. He didn't know how to control it. He didn't want to control it at this point. Mulder felt so much love, so quickly and so deeply for that child, and the thought that he wasn't ever going to get the chance to tell her that was absolutely devastating to him.

He began to sob, great, huge, gasps of emotion. And Scully held him and gave him as much physical support as her own small body could provide, and as much emotional support as her huge heart could offer.

She rubbed his back in circular motions, and she cooed in his ear that it was okay; he would be okay. She held him, and she rocked him, and he wept until there were no more tears. He laid quietly in his Scully's arms and allowed himself to be held and comforted.

After much time had passed, Mulder finally spoke. "All she wanted was people to see her for who she was."

Scully nodded gently, which she was sure Mulder could feel as her head rested on top of his. When he remained quiet, Scully offered in a whisper, "You did that for her, Mulder."

"I wish I knew that for sure, Scully," and she felt his breathing hitch a little.

"Oh, Mulder, you did. You have no idea what you did for that young woman. You made her feel something she never, ever thought she would feel.

"You did something very, very special for her, my wonderful, sensitive, compassionate Mulder."

Mulder looked up at Scully, the tears still quite evident in both of their eyes. "What did I do for her, Scully? I didn't get enough of a chance to say all the things I wanted to say," he lamented.

"Oh, Sweetheart, but you got the chance to say the important things. She knew she was important to you. You let her know that in no uncertain terms.

"And Mulder, you made her feel beautiful. And happy. You made her feel beautiful, and I swear, Mulder, she died happy. You did that for her, my love. You did a great and wonderful thing."

"I hope so, Scully. God, I wanted her to know she deserved her Cher. I really wanted her to know that."

"She knew, Mulder. Kelly knew." Scully reached around Mulder and drew him closer to her. They sat like that for many more minutes, and when he suddenly felt a fleeting sense of joy, he knew it was Kelly letting him know Scully told the truth.

Mulder finally decided he could believe, because he always searched for the truth, where ever it could be found.

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