Experiment in Solitude

By Fran Glass aka dynojet, macfran, farscapefran and foreverx

Summary: While Scully recuperates in the hospital from a gunshot wound, Mulder is kidnapped and placed in an isolated cell by persons unknown. This is my very first fanfic of any kind.

Disclaimer: This story was written using the characters and situations from The X-files created by Chris Carter. No infringement is intended.

Mulder closeup

Chapter 1

April 17, 1996 - Georgetown Hospital - 7:32 a.m.

He had spent the night in the waiting room. Unable to sleep, he whiled away most of the wee hours reading magazines and watching television infomericals. When the only other poor soul keeping vigil for a loved one was given some bad news by a doctor, Mulder's heart sank a few notches. It was a young man in his twenties whose wife had been in a car accident. He and Mulder had struck up a casual conversation discussing everything but the totally unimaginable. Now the guy was being led off in tears to visit with his wife one last time.

It could have just as easily been him given that news. It could have been him walking down that corridor crying his eyes out, on his way to saying a bitter farewell to his partner. The partner who had put her life on the line for the umpteenth time to save his. The serial killer they had trapped in a warehouse had circled around and surprised Mulder with a magnum aimed at his head. If Scully hadn't stepped out of hiding and drawn the killer's attention to herself by yelling her partner's name, it would be Mulder lying in the intensive care unit now or more than likely, the morgue.

He wished she wouldn't put herself in jeopardy like that, but he knew she wouldn't have it any other way. She knew that he would have done the same exact thing if roles had been reversed. Those few vital seconds it took for the killer to turn his gun on Scully was all Mulder needed to send the guy to hell where he belonged, emptying nearly a full clip into that worthless body for good measure.

The bullet which had entered Scully's shoulder, severed an artery and caused a massive amount of blood loss. But he had been told that she was out of danger now. The worst was over. When he was finally allowed to enter her room again by the watchdogs of nurses, Mulder took hold of his friend's hand and leaned in close to her ear. "I'm here, Scully," he informed her, to which he received no response. He released her hand, grabbed a nearby chair and pulled it closer to the bed, then settled in to wait. His patience paid off nearly two hours later. A broad grin etched its way across his face when he saw her stir and her eyes flutter open.

"Enjoy your nap?"

"How long?" she spoke, her voice a whisper.

He leaned forward in his seat and softy replied, "This is day two. How ya feeling?"

"Not half as bad as you look," she spoke, her humor intact. She gauged Mulder by his puffy, red-rimmed eyes with dark circles beneath, the disheveled hair standing on ends and his way-past-five- o'clock shadow, and knew instinctively that he had not slept since the incident. His eyes, though gleaming with relief now, still showed traces of the worry he had lived with for the past thirty-seven hours.

"The doctor says you're going to be fine. The bullet nipped an artery. You lost a lot of blood, but they got to you in time. They want to hold you in captivity for a few more days. I tried calling your mother -"

"She's on a cruise ship somewhere in the Greek Islands. I don't see any reason to worry her with this anyway."

Mulder disagreed. Margaret Scully would want to know of each little scratch that her daughter encountered, and a near fatal gunshot wound would definitely warrant her attention. Still, Mulder was somewhat relieved not to have to face the woman, to inform her once again that he had put her daughter's life in jeopardy.

"Did we get him, Mulder?" Scully asked as though that were more important than her health.

He took hold of her hand in a reassuring manner. "Yeah, Scully, we got him. He won't be carving up any more young women. I made sure of that."

She was relieved to hear it. The bastard had kidnapped and sliced up six, twenty-one year women in the past fourteen months, reliving the anger he wallowed in when his girlfriend, the first victim, dumped him. Consequently, every other young woman he chose was in her likeness and suffered the same fate.

"You missed Skinner," Mulder changed the subject. "He stopped by for a few minutes a little earlier. But I got the impression that he was more worried about me than you."

"Well, I have to admit you do look a little like death warmed over. When's the last time you slept?"

"Hey, I'm not the one who's been shot, remember? Although I would gladly change places with you. I really hate this view of you, Scully. That bullet had my name on you. You should've stayed behind cover."

"Oh, so you could be lying here instead of me, is that it?"

"I'm a lot more use to that."

"Mulder, do you have any idea of what I go through when you've been hurt and hospitalized, and I don't know if you're going to live or die?"

"Something like the way I feel now?" He gently squeezed her hand and looked into her sleepy, blue-green eyes with regret and understanding. "I have an idea. Why don't we make a pact?"

"What kind of pact?"

"From now on, we both agree to avoid being shot or abducted or attacked by iridescent, prehistoric bugs."

Scully managed a smile. "What about alien viruses?"

Mulder grinned and nodded. "Definitely avoid alien viruses, and contaminated water that causes premature aging, and quaint little towns where visitors end up on the menu. We'll also have to agree to stay away from volcanoes, places completely covered with ice and --"

"Jeez, Mulder. We might as well stay home with all our doors and windows locked." She thought about that a moment, remembering the incident when the very elastic Eugene Tooms squeezed his way through her apartment air ducts, looking for a snack. Then, of course, there was Duane Barry breaking in through her window to kidnap her so she could take his place as an alien abductee. Scully closed her eyes to shut out the memory. "No, that doesn't work either, does it?"

"Maybe we should just think about a safer line of work altogether," Mulder suggested. He couldn't possibly be serious, Scully thought. She looked at him, seeing the frustration in his weary eyes.

"Mulder, no one is ever safe. Just look at all those victims of senseless crimes we investigate. Those people mostly lead simple lives in a so-called 'safe' environment. And yet, they end up on a slab at the morgue, and we're left trying to figure out at what point they stopped being safe."

Mulder took in her words and nodded in agreement. Still, he would have preferred himself lying in the hospital bed in her place. She seemed so small and delicate, almost childlike. It hurt to see her any way but healthy and vibrant. She could sense his unfaltering concern for her safety.

"Mulder, there's something I never told you... Remember, Clyde Bruckman and his uncanny ability to foresee people's deaths?"

"How could I forget. Did he tell you how you -"

"Not exactly. I asked him. And he told me that I won't."

"What? He told you that you won't die?"

"I'm sure he only meant that I won't for a long time yet. I believe him. Of course, what he said about you and autoerotic asphyxiation..."

Mulder shrugged lightly. "Actually, that doesn't sound so bad," he confessed with a sly grin. "I could certainly think of less pleasant ways to go. By the way, I've willed my adult video collection to Frohike. If he ends up buying it in the same way I do, there may be an X-File in it for you, Scully."

His partner winced in pain at the effort to laugh. Concerned, Mulder leapt instantly to his feet.

"Scully, you okay?"

"You shouldn't make me laugh."

His left hand still held hers tenderly, his other hand gently brushed a few wayward strands of auburn hair away from her face.

"You want me to get the nurse? You need something for the pain?

"No, I'm...I'm fine, Mulder. I'm just tired."

"Get some sleep then. I'll be right here when you wake up."

"No, Mulder, go home. You look like hell. Go home and get some sleep."

"What makes you think I'd be able to sleep?"

"Well, at least go home and get cleaned up. Give me something prettier to look at next time I open my eyes."

"I suppose I'm probably beginning to offend as well?"

"Just a tad."

Mulder grinned and let his forefinger swipe smoothly across her cheek. "I'll leave after you're asleep," he said without allowing her to argue. He then took his seat again, keeping a gentle hold on her hand as she peacefully drifted off.

Mulder waited an hour after Scully was sound asleep before deserting her. He felt if he went home now, showered and changed, and grabbed a bite to eat, he could be back by the time the nurses woke her up for lunch. Of course, he also needed to stop by the office and take care of some paperwork. A.D. Skinner had already cornered him earlier when he came to personally check on Scully's condition. Satisfied that she would be all right, he reminded Mulder of his FBI duties. Besides filing a detailed report of the shooting and the events leading up to it, Mulder had to prepare for the Danny Avery hearing at which he was due to testify in two days. Avery - the son of a wealthy land developer - was being tried for drug trafficking and the murder of an undercover FBI agent. Mulder was the star witness.

April 18 - Location Unknown - 10:47 a.m.

Mulder awoke in a white fog. His mouth was dry and his head was swimming. He closed his eyes and lay perfectly still on the bed waiting for the nausea to subside. After a few moments he dared to sit upright. His eyelids eased themselves open and he slowly surveyed his surroundings.

He was in a white room; a small white room with bare, cement walls and no windows. There was a metal door with a couple of panels in it. One small square at the top and an oblong one near where the door handle should be. Each looked as though they had the capacity of being opened from the outside. It dawned on him that he was on the inside and that this room wasn't just a room; it was a cell of some kind.

How the hell did he get here, he wondered. The last thing he remembered was standing in his shower letting the hot water massage his kinked back. No wait... there was something... a noise. He remembered a noise, then the shower curtain engulfed him with an iron grip, followed by a stinging sensation in his arm. He had been drugged and kidnapped and brought here, wherever here was.

He stood on wobbly legs and made his way over to the sink at the foot of the bed. When he attempted to turn on the faucet, he saw that there were no handles. On further inspection, he realized that the sink worked off of sensors. He placed his opened palms beneath the spout and was rewarded with a spray of cool water. He drank a couple of handfuls, then splashed some water onto his face to help shake off the cobwebs. He had expected to look up from the sink and see his reflection in the mirror, but only painted white cinderblocks returned his gaze.

Looking around the room from this new angle, he saw all that it had to offer. Next to the sink was a low profile toilet which also worked by automatic sensors. The twin-size bed with crisp, white sheets was the only piece of furniture, and it appeared to be sturdily bolted to the tiled floor. A prison cell was his first guess, but it appeared way too sanitary for it to be that. His second thought was that his new residence may well be a mental institution.

Mulder gradually became aware of two more interesting facts. He discovered a mini-video camera bolted to the ceiling over the door. The steady, red light let him know that his movements were being monitored. The next thing he noticed - only after he sensed a chill from the air conditioner - was his complete lack of clothing. Apparently, someone on the other end of that video cable was getting an eyeful.

"Like what you see?" he spoke to the camera with arms outstretched, offering an unobstructed view. He wasn't the least bit bashful, but it was starting to get a little cool in his clean, white cell. He casually went over to the bed and pulled off the top sheet to wrap himself in. Then he crossed over to the door and pushed on it. He knew it would be locked, but saw no harm in making sure. He banged on it a few times and yelled out for someone, anyone to answer him. No one did.

Settling back on the bed again, with the sheet wrapped around him, his back positioned against the wall and his knees drawn to his chest, he began his wait. His mind easily dismissed his own predicament and concentrated on Scully. She had expected him to be there when she woke up. Now he had no idea when that was. He didn't know how long he'd been out. Had she awakened already, disappointed to find him not there? No, she probably would have assumed that he had taken her advice and gotten some sleep. She wouldn't be overly concerned right away.

Suddenly, he had a sickening thought. What if the bastards that had plucked him out of his own shower had also gotten to his partner. He leapt up and went to the door again. He yelled out her name several times, thankful that she never responded. Then again, her voice had been so weak in the hospital, there was no way she could have made herself heard through the solidness of the surrounding walls. Mulder chose to think positively. Scully was still safely recovering in the Georgetown hospital. Skinner had probably checked on her again, as well as her most ardent fan, Frohike. She was safe. He wouldn't allow himself to think otherwise.

"We can start this any time you like," he told the camera. "I do have other commitments." The red light on the camera remained steady. Nothing else happened.

April 18 - Georgetown Hospital - 12:10 p.m.

Scully had expected to see Mulder when she opened her eyes this time. Again she met with disappointment. She could tell it was about noon. She could hear the lunch carts being wheeled about outside in the corridor along with the light clatter of trays and dish covers. She had imagined that Mulder probably stopped by the office to get some work done when he left her yesterday. He probably lost track of time, then went home. He was probably so exhausted by then that he laid down to catch a few hours sleep, and by the time he woke up, visiting hours were over. She could forgive him for not returning to visit yesterday. But she truly did expect to find him sitting in the chair next to her bed first thing this morning. But he hadn't come and he hadn't called. She told herself that he had stopped off at the office this morning and would come by to see her on his lunch break. She closed her eyes again, knowing that the next voice she heard would be his.

"Agent Scully?" It wasn't Mulder's voice, but it was still a welcomed one. Her eyes lifted to witness her boss standing over her, holding a small floral arrangement with a tiny, white bear and a card attached. The stern no-nonsense expression that he normally carried around had been replaced with a gentler look of concern and a faint smile of relief. "How do you feel?"

"Much better, sir."

"You had us all worried for a while there."

"Not my intention, sir, believe me."

A.D. Skinner sat the bouquet on a table next to three others, then turned his attention back to Scully. "So where's your partner? I have to admit, I fully expected to find him handcuffed to your bed."

Scully snickered. "I imagine he must have been pretty tired. I suppose he's still home in bed."

Skinner raised his brows at that statement. "I've been trying to reach him. I haven't gotten an answer on his cell phone, and I've left messages on his answering machine since about this time yesterday. When's the last time you heard from him?"

"He was here yesterday morning. I told him to go home and get some sleep. I got the impression that he had planned to come back later. Did he not come in to work today?"

"No. No one's seen or heard from him today. He's due to testify in the Avery hearing tomorrow morning. The D.A. has been trying to get in touch with him to go over some last minute details. God, I hope he hasn't run off on another one of his truth-seeking tangents. If he doesn't show up for that hearing tomorrow..."

Skinner paused when he noted Scully's growing uneasiness at the thought of Mulder gone missing. She was staring off into space and her color had reached a new shade of pale. He touched her arm to get her attention and smiled disarmingly once he had it.

"Hey, it's probably like you said. He was exhausted. I believe he's been up for at least three days straight. He's probably crashed out at home. I'll stop by and check on him. Don't worry about him."

Allowing her concern to take a step back, Scully gave a slight shrug of her head. "I won't if you won't, sir."


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