Disclaimer: Mulder and Scully and the movie scenario belongs to CC, 10-13, and Fox. They deserved them since the movie was everything I could have ever hoped for. Well, except for the kiss.
Author's Note: If you haven't seen the movie, don't read this!! Since CC neglected to tell us how Mulder and Scully got off the ice, I decided to fill in the blank. And no offense to those in Antarctica for any opinions put forth here. If you enjoyed my version, let me know at XScout@hotmail.com
Not In My Job Description
Glamorous. That's what I imagined this job to be. Just think, the co-pilot of a senator's private jet, flying to exotic locations, privy to state secrets (or so I like to believe), paid handsomely...woken up in the middle of the night for sudden trips to nowhere.
Okay, so the last one doesn't happen too often, but it happened just recently. I was sleeping, what any normal person does at two am in the morning, when my phone rang. Right next to my ear. I must have jumped a foot off the bed. Almost knocked over the lamp in my haste to answer the damn thing. It was Harris. Harrison Daniel Glendale the Third, Senator Matheson's private pilot. My friend and co-pilot for over seven years, saved my life once when we lost an engine over Turkey. I owe him a lot. Not to mention he is the love of my life - not that I'd told him that.
But right then, as I rubbed the sleep out of my eyes and yawned into the phone, I could have cared less. "Why the hell are you calling me?? Do you have any idea what time it is?" I grumbled, heedless of the fact that it was my job to fly whenever needed.
"Good morning Sunshine." Harris laughed. "I know it's early, but it's time to get up and at 'em. Matheson's got a special assignment for us."
I groaned. "If this involves that buxom blonde in Florida, I won't do it. Just because she's a senator's playgirl doesn't mean she can order us around. I refuse to fly that materialistic bi-"
"Calm down, Nikki, it has nothing to do with her." I could hear him grinning over the phone. "This is a priority mission, something about Antarctica. I'll meet you at the hangar in half an hour."
"Sure." I looked at my clock, wishing it wasn't telling me what it was. Suddenly it dawned on me what I had just heard. "Wait! Harris, did you just say Antarc- Harris? Harris?? Damn it!" I slammed the phone down, causing the receiver to *ding* in complaint.
Antarctica?! What would the senator want to do in Antarctica? Nothing but ice and more ice. Oh God, it was going to be cold too, below freezing. Closing my eyes I took a deep breath and exhaled it slowly. 'Ours is not to question why' I reminded myself.
I glanced at the clock again, realizing I had better get my lazy ass out of bed if I was going to meet Harris in thirty minutes.
Washington DC Airport
"Sorry I'm late. Who would have thought there'd be a traffic jam this early? Damn tanker truck jack-knifed on the beltway." I dropped my duffel bag on the ground next to me and set my hands on my hips, giving the man before me my most intimidating look. "So, what exactly is this *special* assignment?"
Harris smiled apologetically at me, running a hand through his blond hair, the muscles on his chest and shoulder rippling. He mumbled, "Somebody got up on the wrong side of the bed." Ignoring my nasty comment involving him and his ancestry, he just grabbed my gear and loaded it into the plane's cargo area. "We are taking one of the senator's colleagues to Antarctica and will bring him home after he finishes whatever it is he's going to do."
"Colleague? Another politician?" I asked.
"No, an," he pulled something out of his pocket and looked at the paper in his hand, "Agent Mulder of the FBI."
"FBI?" I scrunched my eyes up, trying to remember if I'd flown anyone from the Bureau before. No one came to mind. "Do we know what for?"
Harris shook his head. "And we're not supposed to ask. It's some sort of top secret case or something. We just fly there and back."
I took that in, my heart beating a little faster at the thought of some secret agent on a case. Just like Mission Impossible. Cool. "So when is *Agent* Mulder getting here?"
"Actually, I think that's him walking this way." Harris gestured to my right.
I turned around to see a shadow moving towards us, his features hidden by the dim light. He seemed to be a tall man, long strides bringing him to us quickly. Harris stepped forward and raised his hand, ready to shake. "Agent Mulder? I'm Harrison Glendale, I'll be your pilot on this trip. This is my co-pilot, Nikki Montagu."
The man looked over at me, his face suddenly illuminated by the spotlight directly below our plane. I stared dumbly, grasping his hand automatically, trying not to gape. Tom Cruise, eat your heart out. Who needs Mission Impossible when you have Agent Mulder? He was gorgeous - high forehead, angular jaw, defined cheekbones, full lips, and the most beautiful pair of hazel eyes I have ever seen. Tall as Harris, but not as broad, more like a swimmer instead of a body builder. I dropped his hand, aware that I had been holding it beyond what proper etiquette dictated.
Harris was glaring at me and I blushed until my face was the color of my hair, my cheeks red in embarrassment. Thankfully, Harris took pity on me and saved me from having to say anything. "Your gear is stowed already, Senator Matheson said you'll have all the supplies necessary. We'll be making two stops along the way, one in Columbia, the other in Argentina to refuel. We'll touch down at Vostok, a research facility owned by Russia with its own landing field. There'll be a Sno-Cat waiting for you."
Agent Mulder nodded his head, dark bangs falling across his brow. "Sounds good. Well, time is of the essence, so let's head out."
I finally found my voice. "Certainly. This way please." I gestured toward to stairs that led to the entry hatch of the Leer jet. I followed the agent up, Harris right behind me. Once inside, I quickly showed Agent Mulder where everything was - the minibar, TV, VCR, bathroom, and couch. He thanked me and settled down on the couch, propping his feet up on the expensive leather. I almost said something, but he was a guest, a personal friend of my boss. Oh well, it wasn't my job to clean the plane, just fly it.
I joined Harris in the cockpit and buckled myself in, ready to do what I *was* paid for.
Somewhere Over South America
We had just finished refueling in Columbia, checked to make sure all equipment was functioning smoothly, and were once again airborne. Agent Mulder hadn't moved from the couch, in fact, he hadn't even moved at all. Slept through everything. The guy must have been really tired.
I was doing a routine diagnostic when I hear a strange noise from the cabin. Harris was oblivious to any sounds, since his earphones were still in place over his head. I touched his arm and motioned towards the door. He lifted one speaker from his ear, waiting for an explanation. "I'm going to check up on our passenger."
Harris nodded and gave me this look. The one that said 'You just want to spend time with Special Agent GQ'. I can't deny that the G-man was good looking, but I wasn't about to tell Harris that I wasn't interested in anyone other than him. I swatted him on the shoulder and moved to the back, opening the door to the cabin. It appeared that our guest was still asleep. I closed the door carefully, not wanting to wake him.
Moving over towards the bathroom, I decided to take advantage of being in such a luxurious jet. I never made it. I was halfway there when a strangled cry emerged from the sleeping form. I whirled around, eyes wide, heart pounding. Agent Mulder was thrashing around on the couch, arms flailing about, his head tossing back and forth. He was in the throes of the most horrific nightmare that I have ever seen anyone experience. He was calling out now, something that sounded like 'Culee', between sobs that seemed to be ripped from his throat.
I approached cautiously, wary of his long arms. As I got closer, his words became clearer. He was saying 'Scully' over and over again, every now and then interrupted by 'No'. I wasn't quite sure what to do, knowing that he would probably wake violently and I certainly was in no shape to fight off a trained FBI agent. I watched for a while, hoping that he would calm down on his own. It was then that I noticed a large mark on his left temple, what looked like dried blood. The more I stared, the more I didn't like what I saw. Sweat beaded his forehead, dark circles lay beneath his eyes, and tears began to trail down his cheeks. I had to stop this.
Gathering my courage I reached out and grabbed one waving wrist, holding on tightly, but not enough to be painful. My other hand went to his shoulder, gripping the well muscled arm firmly. I shook gently, saying his name aloud. He jerked beneath my hands and sat up suddenly, gasping frantically. I backed away hastily as he lurched off the couch, stumbling to the bathroom. He threw open the door and collapsed inside. I could see his feet sticking out of the doorway, could see his calves tremble as he retched violently.
I allowed him his privacy, praying that it was just airsickness that was distressing him so. Soon I could hear dry heaves and my stomach clenched in sympathy, tongue sticking to the roof of my mouth. A few minutes later he emerged, his face pale and steps unsteady. He only made it a few feet before he began to keel over. I sprang into action, rushing over to grab him by the elbow, keeping him upright. I led him back to the couch and sat him down, worried by the fact that he was just blindly following my lead.
"Agent Mulder? Are you all right?" I asked, not sure I wanted to hear the answer.
His eyes focused on mine and I was shocked to see that they were just pools of black, his pupils dilated completely. "Scully?" he whispered and reached out a shaking hand to caress my hair. I knelt motionless in front of him, hardly breathing as he touched me. My hair is my one and only vanity, a rich shade of auburn that I inherited from my Irish grandmother. Men often comment on it, but I somehow knew that the man before me was seeing someone else. He blinked several times and let his hand fall to his lap.
"I'm sorry." he mumbled, his voice sounding as though he was on the verge of tears.
"That's okay," I reassured him. "How about you, are *you* okay?"
He swallowed. "Yeah, fine."
"And I'm Amelia Earhart." I chided. I don't know what got into me, I'm not usually someone who pries into other people's affairs, but something inside of me wanted to take care of the darkly handsome man.
He raised an eyebrow as I shook my head in admonishment. "Agent Mulder, it's obvious to me that you are feeling a bit, shall we say, under the weather. It is my duty to make sure you are as comfortable as possible during your flight. You wouldn't want me to get in trouble for not doing my job, would you?"
He just stared at me a moment, then a lopsided grin appeared on his face. "No, I wouldn't." The smile disappeared and he sighed. "I have a headache and feel nauseous."
I patted his knee. "There, that wasn't too hard to admit, now was it? I'll see what I can find, I'm sure there's some aspirin in the minibar." I stood and walked swiftly to the small counter, rummaging around in the cabinets until I found what I was looking for. I returned to my passenger, discovering that he had laid down again, left arm thrown over his eyes.
"Agent Mulder? Agent Mul-"
"Just Mulder will do fine." He peeked out from under his arm, as though trying to gauge my reaction. I took it all in stride.
"Okay Mulder, here's some Extra Strength Tylenol and some water." I held out the items.
He dragged his arm off his face and began to sit up. He arrested the movement all of a sudden, groaning loudly before letting his head fall back against the cushion. I bit my lip, looked at the wound on his forehead and wondered if this was more than a simple headache. "Here, I'll help."
Sitting on the edge of the couch, I brushed back the unruly bangs, shocked at the heat of his skin. He didn't seem to mind my ministrations, just closed his eyes and remained silent. "Open up." I ordered, hoping I wasn't being too officious. He complied with my request and I dropped the pills into his mouth. Then I put my free hand under his neck and lifted slightly, bringing the cup of water to his lips. He drank about two gulps before coughing, the cushions beneath me undulating as his body jerked.
"Sorry." He sounded exhausted.
"No problem." I paused for a moment, coming to a decision. "You're running a fever, I'll get you some cold compresses."
He looked like he was about to object but I just glared at him and he shut his mouth. I returned to the minibar, this time bringing back a bowl of ice water and a washcloth. Dipping the cloth into the bowl, I wrung it out and folded it neatly before placing it on Mulder's forehead. He shivered as the cold water fought against the warmth of his skin.
I repeated the process several times, until I felt his temperature had lowered to manageable levels. I reached over to remove the compress when my fingers accidentally brushed against the dried blood on his temple. He squeezed his eyes shut and I saw his jaw tighten. "Oh God, I'm so sorry."
"No, it's okay, just a little sore." he said through clenched teeth.
"Mmm hmm." My tone dripped with incredulity. "May I ask? How did it happen?"
"Bullet grazed me the night before last." His voice took on a didactic air, obviously repeating the doctor's diagnosis, "Glanced off my temporal plane."
"What?? You should be in hospital!" I may not be a doctor but I know basic medicine. He probably had a concussion, and here he was flying to a barren wasteland of ice for God knows what. That explained his nausea and headache, dilated pupils, fever, and his inability to move his head without pain.
"I'm fine." he replied indignantly. "I don't have time for a hospital."
I saw the expression on his face and knew I wasn't going to get any more out of him. I picked up the now luke warm bowl of water and set it in the sink, tossing the washcloth after it. I headed back to the cockpit, deciding to leave Mulder alone with his stubborn self. "We'll be landing in Argentina in a few hours, try to get some rest." With that I opened the door and moved to take my position next to the pilot.
Harris glanced over at me. "You were gone an awful long time. Did you get lucky?" He wiggled his eyebrows at me.
"Why? You jealous?" I chuckled as he blushed. "Actually, Agent Mulder seems to be suffering from being shot in the head."
Harris stared at me in disbelief. He must have decided not to pursue it, because he just turned back to the instruments.
Somewhere Over Antarctica
We were a bit behind schedule, some rough winds slowing us down over Drake Passage. Now we were flying over a vast field of white, tiny settlements dotting the landscape at large intervals. During our refueling stop in Argentina, Harris and I got a bite to eat, greedily wolfing down the meals we had stored in the small refrigerator. I offered Mulder some of my sandwich but he declined, his face turning a lovely shade of green at the sight of food. Serves him right for not staying in the hospital where he belonged.
As I watched him struggle to keep from throwing up, my conscience berated me for thinking such a thing. Harris said Mulder was on a classified case, something important enough to aquire Matheson's attention. Maybe Mulder had no choice, was being forced to punish his body for the good of the country. Or maybe I've watched too many spy movies.
Finishing our meals, Harris made a quick pit stop in the lavatory and we went back to the cockpit, continuing our flight to Vostok. We were still about half an hour away from our destination and I decided to check on Mulder one more time. I poked Harris in the arm and pointed to the cabin. He nodded and winked knowingly. I just slapped him upside the head.
I found Mulder asleep again, restlessly tossing on the couch. Couldn't the man sleep without having a nightmare? At least this time he wasn't thrashing, not yet. No, this time he was just crying silently, his chest heaving in ragged breaths. I repeated the process I had implemented earlier, shaking him and calling his name. He sat up instantly, wincing as he moved his head. He covered his face with his hands and began to cry in earnest, his body trembling.
"Scully, I'm sorry, I'm so sorry. I couldn't save you, I couldn't protect you." He began to rock back and forth, saying 'I'll find you, Scully' again and again, like it had become a mantra. Though I was at least five years younger than him, my maternal instincts kicked in, the need to comfort him strong. I gathered the weeping man into my arms and shushed him, rubbing his back in circular motions. It took twenty minutes for Mulder to cry himself out, his body sagging against mine in exhaustion.
I lowered him back down, continuing to talk to him soothingly. He seemed to fall asleep as soon as his head hit the cushion. I wondered whether he had come out of sleep all or if he had just had some sort of waking nightmare.
I knelt next to him, caressing his cheek ever so gently, pondering on the life of this troubled man. Harris' voice over the intercom startled me out of my reverie, "Nikki, we're approaching Vostok, I need you up here."
I sighed and stood up, reluctant to leave Mulder. But someone had to land this plane so that he could traipse across the countryside in less than perfect condition.
The landing was a bit tricky, our jet wasn't equipped with skis and the runway was fairly slippery. But we managed and were soon pulling into a small hangar to the left of a large building. Probably the research facility, as there appeared to be no other signs of life anywhere else. I hung my headset on its hook and squeezed Harris' forearm. "Great landing as usual."
He wiped the sweat from his brow and grinned. "Piece of cake."
"You unload the gear, I'll wake up Sleeping Beauty." I got up to leave.
"Remember, you have to wake him with a kiss." Harris managed to dodge that time.
To my surprise, Sleeping Beauty was already awake, pulling on boots and a fur lined jacket. "What time is it?" he queried.
"Almost eight-thirty at night." I replied.
"At night? But it's so bright out."
"We're at the bottom of the world, Mulder, six months of daylight every year." I understood his confusion, it was disconcerting to see the sun out when there should be stars instead.
The hatch opened and Harris stuck his head in. "Found the Sno-Cat at the other end of the hangar, already loaded it up with your gear."
"Thanks." He stood, swaying ever so slightly. He closed his eyes briefly before moving forward, a look of determination on his face.
"When can we expect you back?" I asked, concerned about his physical condition and whether he would be safe out there.
He gazed at me over his shoulder. "If I'm not back in 24 hours, I'm not coming back at all." Then he turned and exited the plane.
25 Hours Later
Antarctica sounds like a fascinating place to be. The bottom of the globe, ice as far as the eye can see. Let me tell you something - it is the most boring place on Earth. I spent half of the past twenty-five hours catching up on my sleep. Then I went on a tour of the Russian research facility, where they were researching...actually, I have no idea what they were researching, no one spoke English very well and I was only paying attention with half a mind. Next came strip poker with Harris, who should know by now that I never play *strip* poker unless I know I'll win. Then I read the latest Michael Crichton novel cover to cover, ate whatever passes for food here, and rechecked the plane.
Mulder was an hour overdue and I started getting worried. Started? Hell, I was worried already. Harris was packing his bag when he told me to accept the fact that Mulder wasn't coming. I refused to believe that, not after seeing how stubborn the man was. He would complete his mission if it killed him. And that was what I was afraid of. It took fifteen minutes to convince Harris to push our departure back three hours so I could search for him.
"How do you expect to find him?" he asked, exasperated by my adamance.
"Remember the DH9 we saw in the hangar? I'll fly it in the same direction he took, follow the tracks left by the Cat. There hasn't been much wind and no snow, the tracks must still be visible." I reasoned.
"That rickety DeHavlin? You are *not* going to fly that old barge out there!" Harris sputtered.
"Yes, I am." I stated defiantly.
"*No* you are not. Does this guy mean so much to you that you're willing to risk your life to find him?"
Oh my, was my partner becoming a green-eyed monster? I took his hand and squeezed. "Harris, you don't understand. You didn't see him terrified in a nightmare, didn't hold him as he sobbed his heart out, didn't nurse him when he had a raging fever. There's just something about him that makes me want to take care of him, something tells me that he needs more friends in his life."
I took a deep breath, preparing myself for what I was going to say next. "If you were stranded somewhere out there, I would do everything in my power to find you. You are my best friend, I care about you more than anything else in the world. And, Mulder, he cares about someone called Scully, cares so much that he is willing to risk his life to find her. Can't you understand?"
Harris' eyes had widened as he listened to me, comprehension lighting his face. Suddenly I was drawn into his arms and found his lips on mine, his body warm and strong against me, sending shivers up my spine. When he pulled back I was breathless, my body aching for more. He smiled down at me and murmured, "I'm going with you."
Forty Minutes Later
"Look, there it is!" I shouted over the roar of the engine, pointing at the abandoned Sno-Cat sitting some distance from a hill of rocks. Putting the binoculars to my eyes, I was able to make out footsteps leading towards the hill. Another pair of Cat tracks separated out from just behind Mulder's and disappeared around the rocks.
"Must have run out of gas." Harris commented. "Couldn't make it that far on foot though, he's got to be near."
I hoped he was right. We were flying low to the ground, the small plane skimming about twenty feet from the snow, so we weren't able to see what lay beyond that rocky hill until we cleared it. That was when I saw the most amazing thing I've witnessed in my entire life. There was an enormous crater spanning hundreds, Hell, even thousands, of feet across, practically as deep. Geysers of steam popped up here and there within the hole, making it look like some sort of arctic volcano. And there, right next to the yawning precipice, was the object of our search.
Mulder was lying on his back about ten feet from the edge of the crater, his body looking deformed for some reason. When we got closer I realized that this was because he wasn't alone. He was cradled in the arms of someone else, someone with red hair. It could only be Scully. And she was waving at us
We circled around in search of somewhere to land, far enough from the crater to be sure of stable ground. We brought the plane down about a hundred feet from the pair, sliding to a stop on the snow. The engines had barely shut off before I was out and running, Harris close behind. I slowed when I reached the woman and her limp friend. Kneeling next to her I took one of her bare hands in mine, feeling the ice cube texture of her fingers.
She was small, no taller than I am, hair a shade lighter than mine. Wrapped in what I recognized as Mulder's jacket and outer pants, her cheeks were mottled by frostbite, her red tresses frozen in places. "Scully?" I asked, already knowing the answer.
She opened her mouth but nothing came out. She looked down at the man in her arms and then back up at me, distrust in her eyes. I smiled kindly, "It's okay, we're here to help. I'm Nikki and this is Harris, we flew Mulder here from DC."
She seemed to accept that because her grip on Mulder loosened. I gestured to Harris, "Let's get them in the plane and back to Vostok, looks like they could use a little warmth."
Harris moved around from behind me and crouched down next to me. He gently took Mulder from Scully, slinging the unmoving form over his shoulder. "Can you walk?" When she nodded I held onto her hand and pulled her to her feet. Together we slowly made our way back to the small plane. Harris laid Mulder out in the back, setting him on several blankets we had brought along for the occasion. Scully climbed aboard and sat down next to her friend, piling more blankets on top of them both.
Satisfied that they were safely inside, I joined Harris up front and together we flew back to the Russian facility. Our passengers remained silent, Mulder enveloped in Scully's arms as she rocked him back and forth, her lips pressed to the top of his head. They say that when you're in love, everyone else appears to be in love. I may be in love with Harris, but that had no influence on how I interpreted the relationship between Scully and Mulder. I could see how much they cared for each other, in Mulder's actions earlier, in Scully's actions now.
Upon our arrival back at Vostok, we unloaded the two survivors and took them to the research facility's infirmary. Mulder was still unconscious and Scully still quiet. The doctor examined them both, concluding that they suffered from exposure, frostbite, and dehydration. Mulder also had a concussion and bruised ribs to add to the list. Harris and I left them in the doctor's capable hands, going back to the jet to spend a little quality time together.
We returned a few hours later to find that though their conditions had improved, Mulder seemed to be in a light coma. They both lay in hospital beds in the same room, various tubes and wires hooked up to each. Scully looked better, color had returned to her face, turning the broken blood vessels on her cheekbones an interesting shade of blue. She smiled at us when we came in, sitting up in her bed.
"How're you doing?" I asked.
"I'm feeling much better, thank you." Her voice was hoarse, raw from whatever she had gone through. "I want to thank you for helping us back there, if you hadn't shown up when you did..." she trailed off, knowing we could all finish her sentence easily.
"If we went back to Washington empty handed, Matheson would have our pilot's licenses." Harris quipped.
"Senator Matheson? That explains a lot. He's helped me and Mulder in the past." Her eyes flicked over to her motionless roommate, her lips turning downward in a frown.
I saw the concern on her face. "Is he going to be okay?"
"The doctor doesn't know why he's in a coma, though it might be due to a pre-existing head injury. We won't know unless we can get a CAT scan, which isn't exactly common medical equipment down here." she explained.
"Do think it could be because of the bullet wound?" I wondered.
"Bullet wound??" she stammered.
"Yeah, he told me it happened about three days ago." I lifted my hand to my forehead, indicating the location of Mulder's injury. "Said it 'glanced off his temporal lobe'." I quoted.
"Oh Mulder." Scully whispered, tears springing to her eyes.
"Look, we'll come back later. Just wanted to check up on you two, get an idea on how soon we can get off this burg." I waved offhandedly, expressing my dislike of Antarctica and its endless ice fields.
"Thank you again." Scully said, never taking her eyes off Mulder's face. Harris took me by the hand and we left silently, aware of the possible outcome of Mulder's condition. He might never wake up.
"Huh?? What?" My head snapped up and my eyes darted around, trying to pinpoint the source of noise. "Oh, Harris, you startled me."
He raised an eyebrow. "Really?" I tried to give him a dirty look but gave up. The man was just too damn good to me.
"What were you saying?"
"Weren't you listening to a word I said?" He must have seen the guilt in my eyes because he didn't wait for an answer. "I was saying that, when we get back to DC, we should ask Matheson for a vacation. My brother has a cabin in Idyllwild, California. A great retreat, snows this time of year."
"That sounds wonderful." I smiled and snuggled closer to him. We were sitting on a couch in the pilot's lounge. Actually, the 'lounge' was an old repair room, but the sofa was soft and it was quiet. We proudly christened it "Pilot's Lounge" with a sign taped to the door.
He reached a hand up and started to play with my hair. "What were you thinking about?"
"Hmm? Oh, I was thinking about our two FBI agents. I wonder what happened out there, what will happen when they go back to Washington."
"Whatever happened, it's government business, classified you know. As to what happens when they get back? They'll probably have to be re-checked out at the hospital and if they're smart, they'll take a vacation too." He grinned at me, his eyes communicating exactly what he planned on doing during our vacation.
I returned his look with a welcome one of my own. I glanced at the clock on the far wall. "It's been at least five hours, do you think we should check on them?"
"My goodness, if I'd known you were such a social person, I'd have taken you out more often." Ducking my swinging hand good-naturedly, he chuckled. "All right, go, see how your FBI agents are doing. I'll start sprucing up the jet, get it ready for our guests."
I smiled my thanks and gave his hand a quick squeeze before I left.
I entered the infirmary to a surprise. One of the beds was empty. Only, not the one I was expecting. I found the wayward patient sitting in a chair next to the other occupant of the tiny room, head resting next to the limp arm.
"Mulder?" I whispered, not wanting to startle him or to wake Scully. "You're awake, that's great! How do you feel?"
His head rose off the bed but he didn't turn to look at me. "Like a defrosted chicken."
I giggled. "More like a turkey."
Now he did look. "Thank you. Thank you for not listening to me. You saved our lives."
I blushed involuntarily. "You didn't strike me as someone who'd give up. I knew you were out there, somewhere." I pulled up a chair next to him, careful not to scrape it on the floor. "So, what happened?"
"Oh, you know, the usual. Found a hidden base of abductees injected with an alien virus, put a vaccine in the system, barely escaped one nasty little green man, fell off a UFO. Boring stuff like that."
All I could do was stare at him. There was a gleam in his eye but I wasn't quite sure what it meant. That he was pulling my chain or that he had seen something so unbelievable? I went with the safe assumption. "Should you be out of bed? I think that coma might have affected you a bit."
A sad smile spread across his face. "Never any evidence when you need any, huh?"
I realized then that he was serious. The man in front of me was absolutely serious! I didn't know what to say. So, I changed the subject. "Scully's safe though."
He sighed. "It was so close this time, too close. I almost lost her. I couldn't...I can't..." A deep breath, "It's my fault."
I opened my mouth to respond but was beaten to it. "Mulder, don't ever say that. Never *think* that."
His head whipped around, a grimace flashing across his face at the quick movement. "Scully??"
She was looking at him with tears in her eyes, her lower lip trembling slightly. Mulder's hands enveloped hers and buried his head in the middle. "You're okay, you're here." his breathing was hitched.
Scully pulled one hand free of the embrace and began to stroke her partner's hair. "It's all right, I'm safe." She repeated it over and over as he broke into sobs.
I felt that this would be a good time to leave them alone. Nodding to Scully, I quickly slipped out the door and headed back to the hangar. I ran into the doctor on my way. "Excuse me, Dr. Vasilovich?"
"Yes?" he asked in a thickly accented voice.
"When will it be possible for them to travel?"
He chewed on his lip for a moment, drawing some of his long mustache into it. "In few hours I think. All they need is rest and all they do on plane is rest anyway."
"Great, thank you."
I returned to the hospital room only once more, to collect our passengers. Wheeled them to the hangar in chairs, Mulder complaining the entire time. Scully reminded him what happened last time he left a hospital without a wheelchair. He quit whining. I couldn't help but wonder what *had* happened.
Mulder was put on the couch, cushions from the other chairs were turned into a makeshift futon for Scully. Once I was sure they were comfortable and didn't need anything, I returned to Harris, who was patiently waiting in the cockpit.
Flopping into my seat, I buckled myself in and lifted the earphones from their hook. "I really want that vacation, but does it have to be somewhere it snows? I've had enough snow and ice to last me a lifetime."
He laughed and rubbed my knee. "No problem, I have an uncle who has a beach front house in Florida."
"My, doesn't your family have a lot of getaway places." I quipped.
"When you meet my family, you'll understand why. It's nice to get away from them as often as possible." An impish grin gleamed at me.
"This is the Vostok control room, are you ready for takeoff ‘Brandenburg’?" a disembodied voice said through the earphones.
I flipped the microphone on. "This is ‘Brandenburg’, we're go. Thank you for your hospitality Vostok."
"Have a safe flight." With that, we were cleared for takeoff. A few minutes later and we were on our way home.
I checked on our passengers every hour, making sure they were all right, and that they were indeed resting as the doctor ordered. Scully accepted my constant visits, Mulder just looked indignant that I didn't think he'd do as told. But the glint in his eyes told me that he was grateful for my concern and he never told me to stop visiting.
The trip went smoothly, the refueling stops were quick and efficient. We arrived in Washington DC a little more than 96 hours after we had left, A seemingly short time for what had happened. We were met at the airport by another FBI agent, claiming that he was to escort Mulder and Scully to the hospital. I happily handed him what luggage they had and jogged back to the open hatch.
"Hey guys, you've got your own personal chauffeur! You must be pretty important to the Bureau." I teased.
"Sure, go in style to your own funeral." Mulder mumbled.
Scully swatted at him playfully. "Mulder, behave! Skinner probably sent it."
Mulder just snorted at that. He then followed her down the steps I had recently vacated and stood, squinting in the sunlight. "Well Nikki, looks like this is where I get off. Thank you again for everything, you've helped me more than you'll ever know." He reached out to take my hand but I pulled him into a hug instead.
"I got more out of this trip than I had ever hoped." I replied, glancing back at Harris, who was standing a few feet away.
Mulder pulled out of my embrace and shook Harris' hand. "Tell Senator Matheson that I owe him one."
"I will, right when I ask him for another raise. This wasn't in my job description." He was smiling to take the sting out of his words.
"Mine either." Mulder chuckled.
Scully said goodbye to us, thanking us profusely before prodding her partner into the car. I watched as the vehicle started and turned towards the gate. I stared after it until it was long gone. I jumped slightly when Harris put his hand on my shoulder.
"Miss 'em already?" he murmured in my ear.
"I feel sort of disappointed that we didn't get to know them better."
"They work for the government, if you ever want to track them down and talk to them, I'm sure it won't be hard." he began to massage my shoulders, his voice soft.
"True. I think I'll do that. Not until we get back from our vacation of course." I amended.
"Of course. Right now, I want to get to know my co-pilot better." He turned me around and started placing kisses on my neck."
"Hmmm. That's not in *my* job description either." I whispered hoarsely.
"Sound's like we need to change that."