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Tithonus

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“Look, Ritter, don’t sweat the math. It’s him. Just get there and find Agent Scully.”
“All right. I’m on it.”

He didn’t even ask permission before leaving. It wouldn’t have mattered, anyway; he was going, regardless of whatever Kersh might’ve had to say about it. Scully wasn’t answering her phone, and no one knew where she was -- like hell was he going to sit around twiddling his thumbs in Washington.

He spent the whole flight trying to convince himself her phone had just run out of batteries. Or got switched off accidentally. Or she’d dropped it somewhere, maybe left it in a car. Any one of the perfectly reasonable explanations he could come up with for why she wouldn’t be answering.

It didn’t help much.

When turned his own phone back on after landing, there was a missed call and one new voicemail, and he nearly dropped the phone in his eagerness to play the message. His stomach clenched when it was Agent Ritter’s voice, not Scully’s, in his ear.

“Agent Mulder, this is Peyton Ritter. There’s, um, there’s been an accident. I thought you’d want to know. Agent Scully was, uh… she’s in surgery right now for a gunshot wound--”

The world seemed to tilt sideways for a moment.

“--NYU Medical Center. I’ll, uh, I should have some more information for you in a few hours.”

Damn it.

The next forty minutes passed in a haze of anxiety and tension as he sat in a cab in traffic, trying Ritter on his phone again and again and getting no answer. He called the hospital, and all they would tell him was that she was still in surgery. (This, at least, meant that she was probably still alive, a fact that gave him only momentary comfort because he knew how quickly things could go south.) The trip uptown from JFK felt interminable, his mind racing at a million miles an hour while the taxi crawled.

Finally, finally, they got within a couple blocks of the hospital, stopped at yet another red light. Mulder threw a $50 bill at the cabbie and bolted out of the car, sprinting up the sidewalk with his overnight bag thumping against his back.

Please be okay, please be okay, please be okay.

He burst through the doors, breathing hard and looking around wildly. He did this far too often, the terrified dash into some unknown hospital, shouting her name not only aloud but with every cell in his body.

“Dana Scully, where is she?” he demanded of the first person he saw wearing scrubs and a badge.

“I’m sorry, I don’t--”

“FBI Agent Dana Scully.” He fumbled in his breast pocket to pull out his badge and hold it up. “She's my partner, and she was brought in for emergency surgery about three hours ago. I need to know where she is.”

“Surgery’s up on the third floor, but--”

He was walking away before the man could even finish, ducking into a stairwell and taking the stairs two at a time. Up two flights, he barreled through another door, nearly taking out an orderly pushing a cart full of linens. The surgical reception area was, blessedly, visible just up the hallway, and he covered the distance with long strides, his shoes squeaking against the linoleum. He slapped his badge down on the counter.

“Special Agent Fox Mulder with the FBI. I’m looking for my--”

The admitting nurse cut him off. “Right, Mr. Mulder, we spoke on the phone. I’m afraid your partner is still in surgery, but you’re welcome to wait with the other agent over there, and I’ll give you an update on her condition as soon as I have one.”

He turned, expecting to see Ritter and ready to lay into him for not returning his calls, but he saw a woman standing to walk toward him instead.

“Agent Mulder? I’m Elizabeth Stone. Agent Ritter said you might be coming.”

“Yeah, where the hell is Ritter? And what the hell happened? No one’s been able to tell me a damned thing.”

That she was still in surgery after three-plus hours meant she’d probably been shot somewhere complicated, like the gut or the chest or, god forbid, the head. If he had to wait much longer for any information about her prognosis, he was going to lose it.

Agent Stone gestured toward a row of chairs set along the wall, the same damned chairs that were always in the hallways at hospitals. Mulder clenched his jaw, radiating impatience, but he walked over and set his bag down, then turned and stood with his arms crossed, waiting for Stone to tell him what was going on.

“I don’t have all of the details,” she said, pitching her voice low, “but there was a complicated arrest, and Agent Scully was brought in with an abdominal GSW. I was called down here to relieve Agent Ritter when he left to meet with the SAC.”

So that was why Ritter hadn’t called him back. He was too busy getting chewed out by his SAC for letting a fellow agent get hurt.

Good.

Abdominal wounds, though, could run the gamut from extensive organ damage to easy repairs, depending on the circumstances. He fervently hoped for something on the less dire end of the spectrum.

He blinked, realizing that Stone was waiting for a response. “So Fellig shot her during the arrest?”

“Erm, actually, no. Agent Ritter was actually the one who--”

Ritter shot her?!” Mulder couldn’t help shouting. The edges of his vision blurred, and his pulse pounded in his ears.

“He said he saw the suspect go for a gun, and he reacted,” Stone said as if reading from an old case history, her voice infuriatingly calm and emotionless. “Agent Scully was, unfortunately, standing out of sight behind the suspect. She was struck when the bullet went through and through.”

“Of all the stupid…” he spat. “Let me guess, they never found a gun on Fellig.”

Stone cleared her throat. “It, uh, appears Agent Ritter mistook the suspect’s camera for a weapon in a darkened room.”

Mulder clenched his fists, barely restraining himself from punching the wall. Ritter was damned lucky he wasn’t there.

By extension, Mulder was probably also lucky that Ritter wasn’t there.

He forced himself to take a deep breath. “What about Fellig, where’s he?”

“That’s the man they went to arrest? He was dead on-scene, so, almost certainly at the ME’s office by now.”

“He died?” It wasn’t possible. Fellig couldn’t die; that was the whole point. “There has to be some mistake.”

Stone shrugged. “Well, all I know is what Agent Ritter told me, and he said the suspect was shot and killed. Left the scene in a bodybag. Any more than that, you’re going to have to talk to him or the first responders.”

A door opened down the hallway, and Mulder spun around at the sound. Someone pushed a gurney into the hall, and even from thirty feet away he recognized his partner, pale and looking even smaller than usual. It never got easier, seeing her unconscious and intubated, but her face was visible, not covered with a sheet, and he sagged with relief. He was at her side almost before he realized he’d moved, reaching for her hand as the gurney continued to roll.

“Sir, you’re going to have to step back, please,” barked the nurse by Scully’s head. “We need to get Ms. Scully to the ICU, and Dr. Johar will be with you shortly.”

He wanted argue, but he knew better than to get in the way of the people who had probably just saved his partner’s life. He took a shaky breath instead and kept his gaze fixed on her until the elevator doors slid closed.