Title: Mulder's Creek: 10. Fever Dreams
Summary: Doing Bessie a favor leads to Scully becoming deathly ill. Mulder and Bessie spend a lot of time with her at the hospital as they both deal with fear and regret.
Scully walks into Mulder's room and tosses him a one pound bag of M&Ms which he catches with a happy look.
"For me?" he asks, shaking the bag.
"Yes, they're for you."
"Hey, thanks! I love M&Ms because of the way the hard little shells crack in your mouth, and I think they remind me of sunflower seeds. Of course they'd be the sugar version, and far less healthy for you..." He trails off and gives her a suspicious look. "There has to be a reason you're giving me one of my favorite candies, but you haven't brought it up yet. "
"A girl can't give someone candy without wanting something?" she asks, and he shakes his head. "Yeah, you got me...Bessie wants me to baby-sit for Alex and Jared again tonight, and they run me ragged, so I need some help if I'm going to retain even a shred of sanity after the experience."
"Who's Jared?" Mulder asks, stalling for time. Baby-sitting toddlers isn't his idea of fun.
"The little boy that belongs to the friend Bessie is going out with tonight," Scully says.
"She's going out with a friend and leaving you home to baby-sit? That sounds Cinderella-ish to me."
"They're going to a class at the local community college. It's just a four week one on bookkeeping for small businesses. This is week two, so...will you help me?"
"Of course I will," Mulder says, not thoroughly convinced he's just made a wise move.
"I appreciate that. And look at it this way, it will give you an idea of what life around this house will be like in a couple of years."
"Are you trying to change my mind?" Mulder asks, giving her a sour look when she laughs.
Wednesday afternoon, McPhee home-
Doggett and Reyes are sitting on the couch watching afternoon TV when Skinner stomps down stairs curtly says "later" and disappears out the front door.
"I take it that Skinner isn't any happier than when we were at the lodge?" Doggett asks, sounding concerned.
"No, he's not. Apparently he and Ethan had some serious discussions that they didn't mention to us."
"Ethan doesn't like how a long-distance relationship feels, so he's asked Skinner to consider seeing other people," Reyes says sadly.
"Ouch. Does that mean they're officially broken up?"
"I think it's more of a trial separation."
"I'm not sure that's much better," Doggett says.
"I know. I sort of hope that Skinner finds someone else, here."
"Well...If I could find someone to put up with me here, I'm sure your brother can too," Doggett says, wrapping his arms around her.
Wednesday night, Potter home-
Two small boys tackle Mulder while he's sitting on the floor, then laugh hysterically when they manage to bowl him over. Once he's on his back the climb on him and won't let him up.
"Scully!" Mulder calls weakly for help.
"When Toddlers attack, next on FOX." Scully intones as she scoops up a child under each arm. They demonstrate their displeasure at this by whining and flailing at her. Once Mulder has recovered his balance, Scully passes Jared to him, and sits on the couch with Alexander trapped on her lap.
"Mulder, if you could please push play on the VCR..." she says through gritted teeth as her nephew screams.
Mulder traps Jared's arms so he'll stop throwing punches, which he finds more distracting than painful, and turns on the movie. It works like magic, and within two minutes of the opening screen of Dinosaurs the boys settle down and watch it like two almost civilized human beings. A half-hour later they're both snoring, so Mulder and Scully carry them to Alexander's room and put them in his crib. She pauses a moment to look at them after switching off the light.
"I think I can see why people have them," she tells Mulder as they walk back to the living room. "They look like angels in their sleep."
"But only in their sleep," Mulder says.
"So I take it you're hoping for a sister, then? " Scully asks.
Mulder shakes his head. "I want my parents to have a boy. I have a sister, and I don't want another."
"If the baby is a girl...I think that it will make me think of Sam more. Maybe if it's a boy I won't have to worry as much. It probably wouldn't make a real difference, any where but here," he says, tapping his temple.
"Oh...the baby is due in May, do your parents know what it's going to be yet?"
"No. They've done ultrasounds because of Mom's age, but they've asked the doctors not to reveal the baby's sex because they want it to be a surprise. I guess you'll think that's quaint."
"Not really. I don't think I'd want to know, either."
Mulder gives her a long look. "Have you given much thought about that sort of thing? Having a baby, or babies?"
"A little. I think all teenage girls ponder that once in a while, because we're conditioned to grow up believing we'll all be wives and mothers."
"I see. Have you thought of who you'll like to father your hypothetical offspring?" he asks, hoping to fluster her.
Instead she calmly says, "No, but I'll meet a charming handsome man in grad school, I'm sure."
"Oh," he says, partly disappointed that he didn't get a rise out of her, and partly disappointed that she didn't say him. "Only two more weeks of baby-sitting the little hellions, right?"
"Fortunately yes. But Bessie's next class is on Friday of all nights, so I'm thrilled beyond measure."
"I'm sure," he says, giving her a sympathetic look.
Thursday Afternoon, McPhee home-
Reyes is waiting for Doggett to pick her up so they can get a pizza. While she waits she checks her e-mail and listens to the unhappy music emanating from her brother's room. So far all her efforts to cheer him up have been rebuffed. Shrugging to herself, she opens the latest message from FLindley:
Reyes signs off, wishing Fowley would say something more, and decides to make the final overture of the day to her brother. She knocks on the door, and hears the music being turned down. She's is glad that he lets her in.
"What's up?" he asks her, not unpleasantly.
"Doggett and I are going out for a pizza. Would you like to come with us?" she asks with a hopeful look on her face.
"I'm sorry. I don't think I'm up for it," Skinner says, feeling bad when she looks disappointed. "Maybe tomorrow we could something?" He suggests as an afterthought and atonement.
"Sure, you name it," Reyes says, hearing Doggett outside. "See you later."
As soon as she leaves the room Skinner turns up the music and stares at the wall.
Mulder and Scully are walking home when Mulder remembers that she said she's supposed to baby-sit later in the evening.
"So...you're baby-sitting the boys tonight. Do you need any help?" He asks, because as much as he hates to admit it, he sort of had fun with them.
"Actually, I'm only looking after Alex tonight, so I won't really need the help, but thank you."
"No Jared. His mom called yesterday to say he wasn't feeling well, so she's going to miss the class tonight, and get notes from Bessie."
"At least you get a break, right?" Mulder asks.
"It's nice, isn't it? I think that Alex and I will spend some quality time with the play-dough, and maybe play trucks."
Mulder gets a far-away look on his face. "I remember my trucks..." Then he blinks and shakes his head as if to clear it. "Are you baby-sitting on Monday?"
"I haven't seen Lord of The Rings yet, and I was wondering if you might like to come with me then."
"That sounds great, Mulder."
"Good. It will be fun," Mulder says, grinning.
When Mulder gets home his mother is sitting in the living room surrounded by small rectangles of colored paper. She looks up when he walks into the room.
"Hi Honey, how was school."
"Ok, Mom...what are you doing?"
"I'm looking at paint swatches. Your Dad wants to get the baby's room painted soon, but he's left picking the color to me. Do you want to help?"
"Ok," Mulder says, taking a seat on the couch.
She passes him a handful of the rectangles and says, "We were thinking a shade of green, since we don't know if it'll be a boy or a girl."
"You don't want to wait until after the baby's born so you could pick blue or pink?" Mulder can't resist asking, though he knows it's cruel.
A shadow passes over her face. "No. No, we don't want to do that."
Mulder is certain she's thinking of Sam too, which was his aim, but instead of bringing it up he hands her one of the paint samples. "I like this one, Mom."
"Mint mist. That's a nice one, Mulder, despite the name. I think it's perfect, in fact. We'll have to send your Dad after it this weekend."
Monday afternoon, Potter home-
"I'm sorry, Mulder but she's been in bed most of the day with the flu, so I can't let her go to the movies even if she is feeling better." Bessie says.
"I understand," Mulder says.
"I'll go see if she's awake so she can at least say hi."
Bessie goes into Scully's room and sees that she's still asleep. As she turns to leave, Scully moans softly, so Bessie puts her hand on her forehead, then tries to wake her. As soon she realizes she can't she bolts from the room and grabs up the phone in the kitchen.
"Mulder, please come over here as quick as you can. I need you." She says, sounding panicky.
Mulder looks at the dead phone for a moment, then runs for his coat.
Bessie meets him at the door looking pale. "Thanks for coming over so quickly, Mulder. Scully's in trouble."
"What's wrong?" Mulder asks, feeling scared.
"She's burning up. I took her temperature as soon as I got off the phone with you, and it's 104. She needs to go to the hospital right now, but she won't wake up, and I'm not strong enough to lift her. If you don't think you can do it, I can call an ambulance, but I'd prefer not to because it'd scare her to wake up in one."
"Oh. I'll get her to the car for you," Mulder says, in a daze. He's relieved that Bessie didn't even try to lift Scully, because Bessie isn't much bigger than she is.
Bessie gives him a quick hug. "Thank you so much. I'll grab Alexander and start the car."
Mulder almost expects Scully to yell at him to get out of her room, but she doesn't stir, even as he turns on the bedroom light. She's pale, he thinks, so pale, much more than usual, and it makes her hair seem redder some how. He pulls her into a sitting position, and wraps a comforter around her before attempting to pick her up. He's surprised how light she seems, because as far as he knows she weighs around 115 pounds. Her eyelids flutter a little as he carries her out to the car, but she doesn't come close to waking.
Bessie has called ahead, so there's a doctor waiting with a gurney when they get to the hospital. He ushers them into an exam room and looks intently at Scully's arm before looking up and gruffly asking Bessie, "Where are her parents?"
"I'm her legal guardian, her older sister," Bessie says quickly.
The doctor seems to relax a little when he hears that. "Do you know if your sister has had the chicken pox before?"
"I'm not sure," Bessie says. "I don't remember her having had it, and since our mother used to make a big deal about us getting sick, I honestly don't think she has."
"We can send over to your primary care physician for her records to check. Has she been exposed to someone with it recently, that you know of?" Asks the doctor.
Bessie looks at the floor. "She's been baby-sitting a friend of mine's little boy for a couple of weeks, and he came down with it on Thursday."
The doctor picks up Scully's wrist and points at a scattering of sore-looking spots on her forearm. "This looks like Chicken pox to me, and she was around the boy when he was most contagious...since it's serious in adolescents and young adults, we'll have to admit her for at least a few days."
"Will she be ok?" Bessie asks in a small voice.
"We'll have to get her fever down, and see how things look from there." The doctor says, not looking her in the eye.
Mulder takes Alex from her, and puts his arm around her shoulder when she starts to cry.
Late Monday night, Capeside hospital-
Scully runs. There's a striped tent coming up on the right, but she doesn't duck into it because she feels that it might be more of a trap than a blessing if she's followed into it. There she could be backed into a corner, defenseless. Instead she runs. She's not sure if he's still after her, because the pounding of her own shoes on the hard packed ground overwhelms the sounds of others' feet. But she can feel him behind her, grinning. A blood-red smile, and maniacal eyes, that's how you know not to trust them. They're danger signs like the coloring of poisonous butterflies. Stay away. And she's trying to, but he's in pursuit. Trying to get her to be part of the show, chasing her down, demanding she return. If any of the paint gets on her she'll be stained...fear makes her stumble, and around the corner of another tent she sees the toe of a floppy shoe...
The night nurse hears Scully cry out in her sleep and come in to check on her. Scully doesn't protest as her temperature is taken, but the nurse shakes her head; so far all their efforts haven't got her fever below 102. The woman leaves, planning to consult the doctor who is coming onto shift in twenty minutes.
Tuesday afternoon, Capeside hospital-
Bessie taps Mulder on the shoulder, and he looks up at her. He'd been watching Scully sleep for about an hour, and he is beginning to make Bessie worry.
"Hi. Bessie, how is she doing, really? I asked a nurse, but the woman wouldn't tell me anything."
"She's a little better. They've gotten her fever down to a more manageable temperature, and though she's been asleep most of the time, she has been awake off and on, so you don't have to worry about her being in a coma or anything."
"How did you know that's what I was worrying about?" he asks, surprised.
"It's written all over your face. Let's take a walk."
"She probably won't notice we're gone, Mulder, let's go."
Mulder reluctantly follows Bessie out of the room, and casts a look back at Scully's sleeping form. It worries him that she's so still. They walk past the gift store and out into the cold mid-winter air.
"It's too bad it's winter, Mulder. There's supposed to be a duck pond around here somewhere, but I suppose it's iced over now."
"That's ok. I don't like ducks," Mulder says quickly, shuddering a little.
Bessie gives him a surprised look. "You know, I always thought that Scully was feeding me a line when she claimed you were afraid of ducks."
Mulder gives her a sheepish look. "It's just one of those things..."
"And you were the one to pull her out of the duck pond after Doggett knocked her in all those years ago." Bessie marvels. "Maybe that's why she loves you."
Instead of asking her to qualify what she means by 'love' he says, "Yeah, maybe."
"She's going to get better soon, Mulder. She has to, because if she doesn't I won't be able to live with myself."
"Please don't tell me not to feel guilty, if it wasn't for me she would never have been around Jared, and probably wouldn't have gotten sick at all."
Mulder feels helpless because there really isn't anything he can say to make her feel better.
Wednesday afternoon, McPhee home-
Skinner is startled when Reyes comes up behind him and pulls off his headphones. He swivels his chair away from the computer so he can look at her.
"I didn't hear you knock," he says pointedly.
"That's because I didn't knock. Look, Skinner, we need to talk." Reyes tells him.
"About you're wallowing in self-pity. I know that given the circumstances some wallowing is justified, but you're going over-board."
"Yes you are. How many times have you listened to 'only a memory' by the Smithereens this week?"
"A few times..."
"Uh huh. I'm sorry that things between you and Ethan aren't working out the way you want to, but you need to get out more."
"Reyes, I know you mean well, but I think I need to try to work things out with Ethan before looking for someone new to get to know."
"That's not what I meant, though I hope that you'll do that as some point. I mean you literally need to get out of the house more and out of your room."
"Oh," Skinner says, relieved that she isn't giving him the 'it's time to move on' speech.
"Doggett says he wants to teach me how to play pool this week. You should come."
"Sure, ok. I bet I can beat the pants off of him."
"Maybe, but I'd rather be the one to get him out of them."
"Reyes!" Skinner is shocked until he realizes that she's just joking with him, then he laughs too. Mr. McPhee walks by the room at that point, hears laughing, and shrugs. He knows better by now than to ask his children what they find so funny.
Late that night, Capeside hospital-
Scully looks at Mulder shyly and says, "I have a confession to make." He asks her what it is, and she hesitates. "I think...I think I'm in love with you."
Scorn fills his eyes, and he gives her a pitying look. "I hope you weren't expecting a heart-felt declaration in kind." Scully's face falls, but he doesn't even seem to notice as he continues. "The only one I've ever loved in Fowley. She's perfect, a goddess, and so much more deserving of my adoration than you are. She'll be back this summer, you know, and I'll be waiting for her. "
"Oh." Is all she can say, since her throat is tight with unshed sobs that threaten to overwhelm her.
He gives her a quizzical look and asks, "I've known you most of our lives, don't you think I would have made a move by now if I was at all interested?" Scully turns away from him and the whole room turns with her. Mulder walks towards her from a different direction.
Scully looks at Mulder shyly and says, "I have a confession to make." He asks her what it is, and she hesitates. "I think...I think I'm in love with you."
He gives her an uncertain look. "I don't know what to say." He confesses.
"You don't have to say anything," she tells him.
"No, I do. It took me a long time to understand it, but I realized something after Christmas- whenever I think of the future, I think of you. It's significant, I think, that I can't imagine you not being in my life. I think I love you too," Mulder says, then pulls her to him and kisses her.
Bessie looks up from her half doze and listens as Scully coughs weakly in her sleep. Doctors had warned her that pneumonia was a possible complication of getting the chicken pox after childhood, and Scully had complained about her chest hurting when she'd been awake in the afternoon. Never in her experience as her sister's caretaker has she felt so inadequate a substitute for a parent; and never has she wished more for their parents to be around to, if not take over the burden, at least offer her some words of comfort about the situation. Bessie's eyes lose focus as she stares at the bright blotches of color on her sister's skin, and finally she drops her head to her folded hands as she allows herself to pray.
Friday afternoon, Leary home-
Mrs. Leary knocks softly on Mulder's door, but doesn't wait for an invitation before coming in. Mulder is lying on his bed, staring at the ceiling, which she suspects he's been doing ever since he got home from the hospital. His eyes are red, but she doesn't think he's been crying. She sits as lightly on his bed as she can, given her condition, and puts her hand on his forearm.
"Do you want to talk about it?" she asks him.
"She's not getting better, Mom. Actually, she's worse. Bessie said...Bessie said that Scully's doctor told her that the type of pneumonia that comes from the chicken pox kills up to three people in ten who get it, and she's got it. I keep thinking about that, 30%. A three in ten chance that Bessie loses her sister and I lose one of the most important people in my life."
Mrs. Leary looks out Mulder's window while she gathers her thoughts. "Mulder, does she know that she's one of the most important people in your life?"
"Sure. I mean, I guess she'd have to know that, right?"
"You'd be surprised what people don't know when we don't tell them in black and white. Maybe it'd make you feel better if you tell her what you think of her?"
"Bessie says she's awake some of the time, but I haven't seen her awake in a week," Mulder says, sighing.
"I don't know if that matters, Kiddo. Sometimes it's important to say things even when we're not sure that we're being heard," she says, standing up.
"Maybe you're right. I try to think of something to say when I go to see her tomorrow Thanks," he says, getting up, and going to hug his mother. While hugging her he feels something bump against him, and he jumps back, surprised. "What was that?"
Mrs. Leary smiles at him. "I think your brother or sister just kicked you. Not even born yet, and already giving you a hard time."
"Oh," Mulder says, still surprised. "Has the baby been kicking long?"
"A few weeks. Not as hard as you did, though. I thought my insides would still be bruised when you started kindergarten," she teases him.
Mulder is shocked that he had no idea the baby was as big as it must be. Weeks! His ignorance makes him feel guilty. "Mom...would it be ok if I put my hand on your belly, when the baby kicks again?" he asks hesitantly.
"Of course it would be, Mulder. I didn't know if you'd want to, since you haven't asked before, but it's fine. Most people like to feel babies kick. Sometimes complete strangers will ask to, and that's far less all right, but..."
"I can't imagine anyone doing that!"
"You'd be surprised, people are weird about pregnant women. I find that telling them sharply that I don't like to be touched works well when they approach with their hand out," she tells him. "I need to start dinner, would you be willing to peel potatoes for me?"
"Sure. Though I'm not sure what I've done to warrant KP duty." Mulder says, following her to the kitchen.
That night, Bill's Billiards-
Doggett, Reyes and Skinner go to the counter and pay for an hour of table time.
"If you like this," Doggett tells Reyes, "We can pay for another hour."
Reyes looks at the slightly dusty mirrored advertisements on the walls, and takes note of the not-quite-adequate lighting. "Classy place you've brought me to."
"Hey, it's either this or Pete's Pockets, and...that place is more of a dive than this one is. Trust me, this is the best place in Capeside to play pool."
"I take it that you've been to Pete's?" she asks archly.
"My dad's sheriff, and some times, while I was growing up, he got called to the scene of incidents when he had Kersh and I with him. There's a bar next door to Pete's and it was the scene pretty often. He'd give us some money, and send us to play pool while he dealt with things in the bar. Pete would give us free sodas to stay on Dad's good side, and Kersh and I learned a mean game of pool."
"There's something twisted about that sort of nostalgia, but if it made you happy..." Skinner shrugs.
"Skinner, Reyes says you've played before. Rack 'em up," Doggett says as he grabs cues off the wall.
Reyes takes hers and gives him an uncertain look. Doggett shows her how to hold it. "Most people will hold the cue in their dominant hand, and use the other hand to sort of stabilize the cue."
Reyes moves the cue into what Skinner and Doggett decree is a sufficient hold. "Now, you want to bend at the waist and take aim at the cue ball, which is the white one. Try not to get it into a pocket itself, because that's a scratch and you lose a turn. You want it to hit one of the other balls, but not the eight ball. The eight ball needs to be the last ball sunk or you lose. You can pratice a bit before we worry about stripes and solids. You should bend forward a little more," Doggett says from behind her. "Here let me help you-"
"Doggett, help her lean forward any more, and I'll be obligated as her brother to give you a beat down," Skinner says in a pseudo-menacing voice.
"Sorry, Man," Doggett says, taking a shuffling step back.
"Just remember to watch yourself," Skinner says, unable to keep a straight face.
"I will, I will," Doggett says, holding up his hands in mock surrender. "Skinner, I'm glad you decided to join us tonight."
"Why?" Skinner asks suspiciously.
"I can't just be glad that the brother of the girl I love is spending time with us? No? It makes your sister happy, and when she's happy, I'm happy."
"Oh, Doggett," Reyes says, giving him a kiss.
Skinner covers his eyes. "Let me know when it's safe to look again." He groans.
Sunday afternoon, Capeside hospital-
Scully picks up the dark-haired baby girl out of her crib and smiles indulgently at her daughter as she coos and waves her arms. She walks down the hallway, past the row of framed diplomas, and into the study. Mulder looks up with a smile, takes the baby from Scully, and his other arm snaking around her waist.
Bessie goes to the cafeteria to get some lunch while Mulder sits in Scully's room, next to her bed. Mulder looks around to make sure that there's no one else coming in the room before deciding to act upon his mother's advice.
He picks up her hand and clears his throat. "I feel silly doing this, because you probably can't hear me since you're sleeping. But my mother says that this is good for me, and maybe you, so I guess I will. She told me that I should tell you how I feel about you, which I thought was kind of silly, since how could you not know already? I thought about it though, when you know someone well you become guilty of assuming that they know more than they do, just because they know you. So here's the truth: I'm terrified that you won't get better. I know you're a fighter, but the odds aren't fantastic when it comes to living through this. You, though, I believe will be one of the lucky seven, when I'm not overwhelmed by pessimism, that is. The thing is, I need you. I know that it's selfish, but I need you more than...anyone. I don't know if I can live with out you...I love you, Scully. Please get better." Mulder bends down and kisses her softly on the lips.
A few seconds later, Scully's eyelids flutter. Her eyes open and for a moment she looks totally confused, and then she focuses on his face. "Mulder?"
"I'm here, Scully."
"Mulder, I've had the strangest dreams... I'm so glad you're here."
"So am I, Scully, so am I," Mulder says, barely able to keep from crying in relief.
Wednesday afternoon, Potter home-
Scully is wrapped in a fluffy blue robe with stars and moons on it. She gives Mulder a grateful look when he piles her books onto a nearby table.
"Thank you, Mulder. Even if I was given the ok to go back to school, I don't think I could deal with going out in public looking like this."
"Why not?" Mulder asks.
"Why not?? Look at me, I couldn't bear for anyone to see me."
"I don't see why not, you look as lovely as always."
Scully holds up some fingers in front of Mulder's face. "How many fingers?" she asks.
"Two, why?" Mulder asks, looking puzzled.
"I was worried that you had gone blind while I was in the hospital. You're obviously just crazy."
"I'm not crazy," Mulder says. "I just choose to...ignore your spots in favor of the memory of your normal beauty."
"You're such a suck up," Scully says fondly.
"No, I'm just very nice," Mulder says, putting his arm around her.
Scully snuggles closer to him. "While that may or may not be true, at least you're warm, which is nice because I'm cold."
"Parasite," Mulder accuses.
"Sycophant," Scully retorts.
"Why do I put up with you?"
"Because you love me," Scully suggests.
"You wish," Mulder says laughing. Scully just smiles knowingly.
Produced by CC, KW and Neoxphile
< Voice Over>
This episode of Mulder's Creek featured music from:
Butthole Surfers ("Whatever")
Smithereens ("Only a memory")
3 Doors Down ("So I need you")
Stay tuned for scenes from the next Mulder's Creek
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