“We have an emergency evacuation situation. Requesting quarantine facility for two, possibly three victims, with undiagnosed infection or exposure to unknown biological vector. Repeat. That’s an emergency evacuation situation. Two, possibly three victims…”
The first thing he becomes aware of upon waking is a burning sensation in his throat and lungs. He swallows thickly, carefully, trying to remember what happened and where he is. It comes back to him in a rush, then -- the Jeep, the bugs -- and he opens his eyes only to slam them shut against the blinding white light that surrounds him.
“Scully,” he rasps.
He hears a muffled voice, male, near his right shoulder. “He’s waking up.”
Opening his eyes again, more slowly this time, he squints into the light until he can make out a figure in a white HazMat suit standing over him. “Scully,” he tries again, his voice like gravel. “Did she make it?”
The man shifts and gestures to the gurney behind him. “You’re all very lucky to be alive, Mr. Mulder.”
Mulder cranes his neck until he can see her, watches the slow rise and fall of her chest for several long moments while he waits for his heart to stop racing. He was so sure they were all going to die in that Jeep, that Scully was going to die and it would be entirely his fault. He whispered an apology to her just before he lost consciousness, an apology that’s still on his lips now, even though he hasn’t gotten her killed after all.
(Not yet, anyway.)
Another HazMat-suited man joins the first. “Agent Mulder, I’m Dr. Tanaka with the CDC. How are you feeling?”
Like I swallowed a bunch of steel wool and almost destroyed one of the few people I actually care about.
“Glad to be alive,” he says instead. “Could do with some water, though.”
“I’m afraid you’ll find that trying to swallow anything just yet will only make your throat feel worse. I’m going to continue hydrating you intravenously for the time being, but now that you’re awake, I can increase your dose of pain medication.” He reaches past his colleague and taps a button on the machine connected to the IV in Mulder’s arm. “This should help with the discomfort.”
The effects are almost immediate, and Mulder gives another experimental swallow as the pain in his throat starts to subside. “That helps, yeah. Thanks.”
Dr. Tanaka walks to a counter across the room and picks up a clipboard. “When you’re feeling up to it, I’d like to run some tests on pulmonary function, see if there’s been any permanent damage to your system. What we learn from you might help us more effectively treat the others.”
Pain or no pain, he’s more than willing to do whatever they need him to do, if there’s a chance it will help Scully heal faster. He tries to shift himself into a sitting position, but the other CDC guy puts a hand on his shoulder.
“There’s no rush, Mr. Mulder. You’ve only just regained consciousness. Let’s take it slow.”
“I’m fine, let’s do the tests.”