Author: Skinfull
Rating: PG 13
Classification: Fluff City (But honestly...who wouldn't like to see Mulder in nothing but a pair of leather chaps??? Oh...have I said too much? LOL) Case file with a difference. Adult situations and some violence. Use reader discretion.
Disclaimer: Not mine, no profit, no harm.
Summary: ST: TNG Season 5 episode 114 of the same name inspired this fic. (Yes I am a Trek geek as well) What if something happened that cause partial amnesia in Mulder and Scully?
Feedback: Love all feedback. Thanks in

By Skinfull
Callaghan Ranch

"Look Mulder I don't like it anymore then you do, but we have a job to do so just deal with it." 

She was giving him a wickedly crooked smile as she gazed down at him; his dusty shirt was tossed to the ground and his torso was gleaming, tauntingly bare and covered with a sheen of sweat from his hard work in the relentless sun. Before she changed her mind and got carried away with her scrutiny, Agent Scully flicked the edge of her hat, kicked her heels into the side of her horse and broke into a gallop.

As he watched her ride back towards the farmhouse, her figure outlined beautifully in the tight denims and black leather chaps almost made Mulder think this undercover gig was worth it.

Dropping the sledgehammer to the ground, he wiped his brow with his forearm and blew a waft of cold air over his face. Two weeks they'd been working on this ranch as help hands and still they had nothing to report. Having spoken nightly to Skinner, who was adamant that they remain there until they had something to call in, Mulder was now fully sure, as he glanced back over the fifty back breaking fence posts he'd already planted, that it was an obscure form of punishment, not an undercover case.

"Hey, Cody. You about done with them posts?" Mulder looked up to see, John Callaghan, the Ranch owner approaching with two horses. Even after two weeks working on the ranch, he still wasn't used to being called Cody.

"Just about." Mulder fitted the last one into the hole by his foot and pounded it in securely. After securing the last of the wire around it, he stood back to admire his work and couldn't help the smile of pride that stretched over his tired face.

"Good," John drawled, holding out the reigns from one of the horses to Mulder. 

"I just heard Tom calling everyone for supper."
Mulder rolled the hammer and wire tools he'd been using into a blanket, then slid them easily into a shoulder bag on the back of the saddle. The horse, John was holding steady for him, looked around as he tied the latches, but Mulder patted the animal's shoulder firmly in reassurance.

He reached for his shirt and pulled it on but left it open. Thankful for the three-week horse-training course he'd taken with Scully before coming on this case, he slipped his foot into the stirrup and hoisted himself onto the horse easily.

With another firm pat to the horse's shoulder, Mulder flexed the reigns and kicked the horse with his heels to catch up with John, who was cantering ahead towards the ranch.


Dana Scully walked away from the stables and followed the raucous voices coming from the food hall. She had worked with horses before; in stables during summer breaks, but never had she actually stayed on a ranch. She had taken on the role of Ranch Doctor a week after Mulder joined. She slept at the main house, sharing the space only with John Callaghan, who as far as she could tell almost never slept. He was in the office working every night when she bid him goodnight and went to her room, and still there in the mornings when she rose for breakfast.

The other six men who worked the ranch shared a smaller 4-bedroom house that boasted the largest kitchen she'd ever been in, and a great dining room that reminded her of the dorm common rooms at college, only much more rustic. It was filled with a large table surrounded by ten chairs at one end, and scattered with couches and chairs at the other. Three guitars rested against the wall next to the huge marble fireplace and pictures of various horses and ranch workers past and present, lined the walls.

As she opened the door and walked in, the noise level paused for a second as most of the men turned to see her and stood up from their seats. The rest followed suit but they all cheered when she waved them down with smile and a frown.

Mark walked over to her, taking her elbow to lead her to her usual space in the middle of the table, then sat next to her, his smile wide and undisguised.

"Thank you," she said as he poured her a glass of water and placed it next to her plate.

"No problem Sarah. Anything else I can get you?" he asked eagerly, too eagerly she thought.

"No thanks."

"If Cody sees you sidling up to the Doc like that I don't think he'd be happy."
The voice was Tom's, the ranch's cook. An elderly man who had worked with the animals in his younger days, but who's failing back had forced him into the gentler work of feeding the hoard of ranch workers. Mark ignored him but Scully couldn't help the retort.

"Cody? Why wouldn't he be happy?" she asked innocently.

"You know damn well why he wouldn't be, young lady! I've seen the way he looks at you and I know you've seen it too!" She blushed under his watchful gaze and turned away to concentrate on the floral pattern of the tablecloth, giving him all the confirmation he needed.

"Well if Cody has something to say about it, Cody can say it to me," Mark said full of gusto, the audience of the workers giving him the courage he needed to speak his mind.

"Cody can say what to you?" Everyone turned to see Mulder and John walking in. Mulder had donned a fresh shirt and raked his unruly hair away from his face with his fingers. His cheeks were flushed from the brief ride in from the field, and his lips were curved into a lopsided smile as he spotted Mark's proximity to Scully.

Everyone turned back to Mark who was sitting a little straighter now, his face also flushed, but his eyes darting around the room searching for solace.

"Just about the fencing we need to do on the back yard," he muttered, much to the amusement of the rest of them who promptly broke out into cheers and laughter. "What's for dinner Tom?" Mark deftly changed the subject as he stood up and walked to the fire to add more logs.

Mulder walked across the room and purposefully sat across from Scully, leaving Mark's chair empty to show there were no hard feelings. Tom enlisted the help of Jack, who was sitting by the fire strumming on a guitar, and Mark to help him serve the food and soon the conversation was centered back on the ranch; the duties that had been completed and the new ones that had arisen during the day. 

Every evening it was the same routine. Chow time was the chance everyone had to catch up on the day's events and reassess priorities if need be, air grievances and stuff. John listened carefully to everyone's ideas and divided chores for the following day.

Mulder admired his skill in leadership and knew all the men respected him. Would give their life up for him, and work to the bone everyday for this man. So the case bothered him even more. To figure out why seven people that had been brutally murdered, whose bodies were found in scattered locations across the state, and had all worked on this ranch in the past eighteen months. It was puzzling. It was the only common ground found between all the victims and after extensive but fruitless background checks on all the men here, Skinner authorized an undercover operation.

Mulder glanced carefully around the table. Reaching for a slice of bread, he watched the laughing faces of all the men present as Jack told them all about how he found Sonny, who sat opposite him his face flushing with humiliation, skinny dipping in the lake with Mary-Ellen Griffen last Sunday.

Everyday out on the ranch, he relied on backup from all these men whom he had become relatively close with. It was hard to stay distant in such close confines. He always wore his ankle holster though, and made sure Scully wore hers, but most of the men went out into the fields armed in case of an encounter with a bear or wildcat, so no one took any notice of it.

"Okay, okay, finish up now," Tom said as he stood up from the table. "I wanna get this place cleared before sunrise!"

Plates were scraped clean and Scully offered to help, but she was shooed away and steered over to the large blue couch by the fire. Most of the men followed her with cries of entertainment leaving Mulder, Tom and Sonny to clear the rest up.

The fire was stoked again and more logs were added as Jack reached for his guitar and began to strum gently on the strings. As Sonny joined the small crowd and took his seat, with a dishtowel slung over his shoulder, Jack began to sing a well-written parody song about skinny-dipping, much to the amusement of the rest of the men. Sonny took the jibe well and bowed at the waist when the song was over as the rest of them applauded.

Mulder and Tom joined them by the fire and as always, surreptitiously, he did a quick head count. He spotted Scully across the way and winked at her before letting his eyes circle the crowd, counting everyone. John was seated regally in a large black armchair that would have dwarfed a smaller man, but barely held his large frame. Tom sat next to him and Scully was seated next to Mark. Sonny was perched on the edge of the fireplace and Jack on the small stool next to him, his guitar on his knee.

That's only seven, he realized. Someone was missing. In all the time he'd been here it was the first time someone was missing. Mulder frowned letting his eyes wander around the group, spotting and naming each face as his eyes fell upon it. It was Jeff who was missing, he realized. They darted back to Scully who had also noted the absence. He was about to stand and make an excuse to leave when a loud crack of thunder filled the air. The room lit up brightly as a fork of lightning illuminated the night sky, then the room plunged into an eerie darkness that was held at bay only by the fire's glow.

"Whoo that was a whopper!" Tom said sipping his coffee as if nothing had happened. "Looks like the power's down."

"I'll get the generator started," Mark said grabbing a coat from the rack and racing out into the storm.

"Sonny, get them shutters fixed!" John called out and Sonny jumped up to lock them shut and save them from banging noisily against the walls.

"A thunder storm," Scully said almost in awe. Storms in the city were annoying and usually a hindrance, but here in Colorado it was a sight to be cherished. "It's beautiful." She stepped closer to the window and peered up into the angry clouded sky as the lightning danced across it, followed shortly by the clatter of thunder.

"Sc... Sarah...step away from the window," Mulder walked over to her and took her elbow but she brushed him away.

"Look! Look at the sky!" she said smiling, but Mulder offered it only a quick glance before pulling her away with a small degree of urgency. Just then Mark came bounding in, his hair plastered to his head from the pounding rain, bringing with him a gust of wind that scoured the room for a release before fading. He shut the door and pulled off his coat.

"The generator is empty. I need fuel."

"Leave it a while Mark, we'll manage by the fire," John said gesturing for everyone to take their seats again. "C'mon Jack, you know the song I want to hear."

Jack smiled and pulled his guitar back into place, as everyone got comfortable again. This time Mulder held onto Scully's arm and led her over to the chair he'd been using. Sitting her down comfortably, he perched on the wide arm and draped his arm across the back of it. He lifted his leg to balance his foot by her knee, twisting his ankle to the side to show Scully the bulge of his gun if she needed it, but before he could relax the fire was doused and the room was forced into total darkness. Mulder reached for his gun but before he could grab it, brilliant white lights shone in through every window blinding them all for several seconds.

 Mulder moved his body to hide Scully's face, holding her against his chest and burying her head against his shoulder. Then as suddenly as it began it ended. The lights were gone and the fire was once more lit. A little breathless and confused from the shock, everyone glanced around the room at everyone else. Mulder held his eyes tightly closed for a minute more to stave off the dizziness, then realized he was holding someone tighter then was probably comfortable for them.

"Sorry," he said, stepping back as he opened his eyes, he looked down to the small, undoubtedly female figure in his arms. Her eyes were a cool blue and they looked up at him in wonder, as her small face with delicate features, framed by locks of dark red hair observed him. He didn't know why he was holding this beautiful stranger but he was aware how much he was enjoying it.

"Is everyone ok?" Turning to the source of the voice he saw an elderly man wearing an apron, holding his hands out. Various agreements circled the small crowd as everyone nodded, some of them patting themselves down with instinctive checks for injury.

"What the hell happened?"

"The lightning...the storm."

"The fire..."

"What was that?"

Everyone spoke at once but the man in the apron called for silence and quickly received it.

"Listen, I don't know about you guys but I am having trouble remembering who you all are...or for that matter...who I am." More grunts of agreement circled the room as everyone's eyes turned to their surroundings in search of clues.

"This looks like a work house. A ranch workhouse." The younger man who stood by the fire holding a guitar spoke up as he pointed towards the photos of racehorses on the walls. "And it looks like I'm this evenings entertainment!" he added and was rewarded with a trickle of nervous laughter.

"If it is a ranch then there will be employment records. Take a look around and see if we can get some torches so we can see better. No point in hunting in the dark!" the cook called out and everyone fanned out to search the small house. Cody was reluctant to leave this attractive stranger's side, but decided it better to find out his name to introduce himself before he spoke to her.
The cook returned from the kitchen with four torches and handed them out to some of the men.

"Go look in the main house," he suggested. "And try the phone lines while you are over there."

Cody, who had taken the torch with some reluctance, followed two of the other men as they ran from the door across the yard, and over to the main farmhouse. It surprised him how they remembered the basic information of the house and office locations and then finally the filing cabinet, but no recollection of their names, or who they all were had been retained. The man who'd been holding the guitar grabbed the case in triumph and smiled at Cody who offered a weak one in return.

Cody spotted the old style analogue phone on the table and reached for it. Hesitating for only a second he lifted the receiver up to his ear but it was dead. Pressing the cut off button a few times made no difference so he slammed it back into place.

"Lets get back."

Back by the fire the case was handed to the cook who had seemingly taken control, ensuring the fire was kept lit and hanging an old metal pot over it to boil water for coffee.

"The phone lines are dead."

"Probably down all over the county, fuckin storm."

"Okay...Let's see who we have here." The cook delved into the case and pulled out a file. Opening it he looked down at the picture and then over at one of the men.

"Sonny Callaghan." Sonny all but snatched the file from him and opened it quickly to see his own unfamiliar face looking back. He ignored the rest of the names being called in an effort to study his own.

"Cody Phillips." The cook held the file out to Cody and he gingerly took it, stealing a glance at the woman he had only seconds ago held in his arms. He tried to ignore the niggling doubt in his mind as he opened the file and looked down at the photo of himself. It was him, even if he didn't feel it inside.
"Jack Wilson." The guitar player took the file being offered with a smile.

"Present!" he said as if answering the roll call in school.

"Tom Kent...Oh that's me! Looks like this apron wasn't lying! I am the cook!" He laughed uneasily and placed the file on the table next to him to reach for the others. "Sarah Whyte. Well I don't suppose I need to look hard for you ma'am." He said handing her the slim file. She was the only female in the room, a small fact that she was sure no one had missed.

Looking down at the photo she scanned the information and was surprised to see the initials M.D. after her name. Doctor? She noticed, wondering if she would remember how to be a doctor.

"Mark Tavern." Mark took his file and escaped to the couch to read it. "One left," Tom declared, reaching down for it. "Jeff Parson." He read but his brow knitted into a deep frown. The pictures in the file didn't match the remaining man in the group.

"What is it?" The cook looked up to the elder man who still remained without a name. "Tom?"

"It's not you." Tom said as he laid it out on the table so everyone could see. They all looked from the stranger to the photo and back again.

"Well then...who the hell am I?"

"I think I know." Sonny sat forward folding the pages of his own file back. 

"John Callaghan. You're my father. You own this ranch."

"That explains why you wouldn't have an employment record," Tom laughed, relieved.

"Why would you have a record for your own son?" Cody spoke up without thought.

"Well this isn't an employment record for this ranch." Sonny passed it around and everyone saw the mark of University of Texas on the sheet.

" what the hell happened?" John asked, standing up and fixing his shirt with a sharp tug. "What's the last thing everyone remembers?"

"Fixing the generator." Mark chimed in.

"Closing the shutters," Sonny said.

"Watching the lightning," Sarah offered knowing this was getting them nowhere. As the doctor, she supposed she should be examining everyone and checking for injury so she stepped into the center of the tight group and hushed them all. "Listen. I'm a doctor, I think maybe I should check everyone out, make sure no one is hurt or anything."

"A doctor?" Sonny questioned.
She held up her file to show them and Tom nodded with agreement.

"It's a good idea. I saw a medic kit in the kitchen. You can examine us one at a time in my room. Through that door over there." He said pointing to a door to the left beside the kitchen.

"How do you know that's your room?" Cody asked, watching the elderly man with scrutiny.

"I was in there earlier looking for torches and there's pictures of me with my family on all the walls." Tom looked around at the motley group and made eye contact with each one. "Look, I know we're all feeling a mite vulnerable right now but we have to stick together. Trust each other and see if we can get to the bottom of this."

"Okay. I'll go first." John stood up and followed Sarah into the small room, taking a torch with him. The door closed on them and Cody sat down heavily onto the chair behind him.

"This is no accident," he muttered more to himself then anyone, but Jack who stood by him turned around with a frown.

"You think someone did this on purpose?"

"Mass amnesia has been recorded in various circumstances usually revolving around some kind of radiation exposure. But I don't think this ranch has any plutonium deposits nearby."

"You've heard of something like this before?" Jack asked drawing the attention of the other men who inched closer, suspicion in their eyes and apprehension on their faces.

"No...yes...maybe." Cody sat forward and dry washed his face. "I can feel all this information in my head but I can't seem to recall how it got there, or how I know."

"Same here." Jack picked up the guitar and played a few notes. "Don't ask me how I know this but here I am playing the guitar."

"I remember how to make coffee," Tom said retrieving mugs from the kitchen and dividing out some fresh coffee. Before drinking any he went back to the kitchen and returned with a bottle of Jack Daniels. "Just to calm the nerves!" he offered with a wink and he passed the bottle round letting everyone add their own measures.

Everyone fell into an uneasy silence that was broken only by the sound of coffee being sipped. John came out of the room adjusting his shirt and regained his seat.

"Sonny you're up. Then Jack, Mark, Cody and Tom." John had obviously taken to his role of leader well as he accepted the drink from Tom and claimed a large seat by the fire.

"Do you think we should be looking for Jeff Parson?" Cody asked finishing his drink and setting the cup down by his foot.

"Who?" Jack asked looking up from his guitar.

"Hey Yeah, the extra employment record. Maybe he's hurt out there?" Mark said.

"Or maybe he is the cause of all this," John added quietly.

"The weather is too rough out there to go hunting. Anyone who's out in that will be under cover by now if they have any sense." Tom made his suggestion seem final and John seemed to take it that way.

Feeling restless Cody stood up and paced the room. Peering out the window into he darkness beyond the rain, he felt and uneasy tingle down his spine like he was being watched.


Sarah tied her hair back and smiled at Mark as he left the room. She had limited tools and reflective knowledge, which was returning only as she instinctively picked up the instruments in the medical kit. She took blood pressure, listened to heartbeats and lungs. She checked their heads for trauma and examined their eyes and ears, but so far had found nothing but prime examples of various masculine torsos, honed by hard ranch work.

The rain outside banged relentlessly against the window drawing her closer to look outside. The sky was dark with clouds so she could only see a few stars, but she instantly knew the constellations she could make out.

"Hey." The voice from the door startled her. She swung around and saw Cody walking towards her. She blushed under his inspection and turned back to the stars for a moment longer. "See anything interesting?" he asked coming up behind her and peering out into the darkness with her.

"Jupiter." She pointed out the wonderful sight of the planet breaking through the clouds. "And next to that is Pisces. My star sign."

"You remembering bits and pieces too?" he asked glancing down at her.

"Yeah. It's strange. Having thoughts I don't recognize, or traits I don't expect. Saying and doing things I don't fully understand."


"Me too." He said softly, and then added, "Is there anything specific?"
She glanced up at his hooded hazel eyes, wondering about the feeling of safety and familiarity she had felt earlier as she'd stood in the circle of his arms. Wondering if he had felt it too. Or the urge she had now to run her hand over the days worth of stubble that covered his chin and let her fingers linger on his lower lip. Shaking her head she left her words unspoken, and as if sensing her hesitation he didn't push.

A stiff silence permeated the room, forcing their eyes apart. She stepped away from the window and over to the bed where all the instruments had been carefully laid out.

"Okay then," He followed her over and sat in the chair she had set out. "Can you take off your shirt?"

He lifted it off over his head and held it on his lap as she slipped the stethoscope around her neck and lifted the earpieces into her ears. Warming the metal with a quick breath and by rubbing it on her palm, she gently pressed it onto his chest.

"Deep breath...and release.... again.... again.... again." She moved the bell piece over his back, listening to his lungs as he took each breath, then over his heart again, monitoring its loud beat in her ears. "Your pulse is a little fast." She commented as she draped the stethoscope back around her neck and reached for the blood pressure cuff.

"Must be something to do with a beautiful woman asking me to take my clothes off," he held up his arm and she tied the cuff on with a crooked smile.

"Must be," she said pumping the cuff tighter. Setting the scope back into her ears she listened to his pulse and slowly let the air out. He remained silent letting her work and watching her surreptitiously. A small frown creased her brow as she worked, and her teeth bit her bottom lip with concentration as she counted the seconds down. "That all seems fine."

She put her stuff aside and walked to the back of the chair where she could get a better look at his head. He jumped at the feeling of her fingers kneading into his hair, but relaxed into it as she ran her hands over his scalp searching for bumps.

"Everything seems fine." She stepped away from him and walked back to the bed to sort out her stuff for the next visitor.

"Just fine?" he replied with a loopy smile, and a small waggle of his eyebrows as he stood and fixed his shirt back on.

"Is there anyone left out there for me?" she asked, ignoring his comment and turning away with her back to him.

"Just Tom." Cody stopped by the door for a second, hesitating with his hand on the knob, then pushed it open and walked through. After Tom was examined and everyone met back in the living room uneasy glances where shared out amongst the group. Rain and wind rattled the windows at an alarming rate, so Jack concentrated on keeping the fire lit.

"There is nothing we can do at this stage. It's getting late so I think we should all hold up for the night."

"There are seven of us John. Where do you suggest we all sleep?" Mark confronted him angrily, the tension obviously getting to him.

"I think we should stick together. Maybe even take watch in shifts." Sonny spoke with an air of uncertainty, his eyes roaming over everyone's faces then falling onto his father's as if waiting for approval. "There are five beds upstairs and one in Tom's room."

"God idea." John nodded with a smile and stood up from his chair. "Any volunteers for the first shift?"

"I'll stay up." Cody volunteered, crossing his arms across his chest.

"Me too. I'm too wired to sleep." Everyone turned to Sarah who had spoken quietly but with authority that wasn't about to be challenged.

"Are you sure ma'am?" Tom asked touching her elbow, but she patted his hand and nodded her assurance. With grumbles of goodnight, everyone left the room, Jack calling over his shoulder that he'd come down later to relieve them. The fire crackled softly as they took their seats on opposite sides of the couch, both of them staring silently at nothing.

"Annoying isn't it?" Cody ventured without looking at her. She nodded in agreement silently, her eyes never leaving the dancing flames before her. Heat from the fire reddened her cheeks but a cold chill ran down her spine.

"It's bad enough being trapped here but this amnesia..." his mutterings weren't directly aimed at her but she felt the need to comfort him, offer him some solace from the darkness that was creeping into his mind.

"It's so strange, with no reason for it, no clues to explain it," he continued, stepping off the couch and moving to the fire to add more logs.

She waited for him to return to the seat but instead he remained crouched by the marble, the poker in his hand, idly pressing against the charred wood in the flames. She watched as he looked out to the window; where the rain no longer pounded but merely tapped rhythmically. Moving silently she joined him in a crouch and nudged him with her shoulder.

"You want to go out side looking for him, don't you?"

"He could be hurt."

"He could be orchestrating this whole thing."

"How could he? How can one person make us all lose our memory? And not total amnesia but retrograde amnesia."

She looked at him in surprise at his use of the medical term, then in wonderment at her own recollection.

"It'll be light soon. We'll all go out and look for him then," she said rationally, setting a hand on his shoulder for reassurance. But he didn't seem to notice, his eyes glazed over and his focus redirected.

"Cody Phillips." He muttered poking the fire again. "Cody Phillips. Ranch hand." With a small smile he turned to her. "I don't feel like a Cody."

"Oh?" she said, glad for the change in topic. "What do you feel like?"

"I'm not sure but something about Cody just doesn't seem right. I mean it's not familiar."

"The amnesia has taken away all your familiarity." She stood away from the fire and moved over to the couch to curl up on the end, tucking her feet beneath herself.

"Not all of it." He quietly tossed one more log onto the fire before standing and joining her, this time sitting closer until his thigh brushed her feet.

"You remember something else?"

"Nothing specific. Just thoughts, impressions."

"Like what?" Her heart beat a little faster and she wondered if he might have felt the familiarity she'd felt in his arms.

"You." He half turned on the couch and faced her more fully. "I mean the first thing I remember is standing over there," he nodded towards the armchair. 

"Holding you against my chest...your head just here." He patted the area of his chest just below his shoulder and over his heart.

"I don't know what it means, I don't understand." She shrugged, her voice soft and scared.

"Sarah Whyte. Ranch Doctor."
She smiled uneasily, unsure where his thoughts were leading him and was hesitant about following. She turned away and looked into the fire but his arm moved across the back of the couch and touched her shoulder.

"Do you feel it?"

"Feel what?" Moving off the couch she walked to the fire and gingerly touched the kettle. It was only lukewarm and would need more time before the water was boiled for coffee. She turned back to sit on the couch but found him standing directly before her, so close she could feel his breath brushing her forehead.

"This uncontrollable urge to hold you in my this..." He circled her in his embrace, gently pulling her closer, giving her time to pull away. But she didn't. She nestled into his chest, her arms reaching around his back, grasping his shirt tightly. "It just feels so right."

His chin rested on her head, tilted to the side he could smell her hair and his arms squeezed gently around her. He could feel her body hyper aware against his from her shoulders to her thighs. She stayed there comfortably holding him, and being held.

"Maybe we were having some sort of clandestine affair!" he suggested, smiling into her hair.

"Maybe we weren't." she replied but he could feel her smile against his chest.

"Maybe we were on the cusp of an affair..." he pulled away enough to gaze down at her face and she looked up coyly. He bent down to kiss her but stalled just before their lips touched. Their eyes crashed and he saw her desire as her blue eyes darkened before him. Holding his position for a moment longer, their lips only an inch apart he scanned her face then closed the gap.

The kiss that started off so gently, quickly turned urgent as his tongue appeared and rasped across her lips begging for entry. Her lips parted a touch and she gave a little moan, but it was enough encouragement for him as he held her tighter and tilted his head so his tongue could gain more access.
Her tongue matched his stroke for stroke while her hands traveled up and down his back in an effort to get closer. His hands came up her back and delved into her hair, coming round to cup her face he moved his kisses from her lips to her jaw, to travel down her throat. His fingers moving her collar aside when it caused obstruction to the sensitive skin beneath.

Scully arched against him in a purely feminine gesture and locked her arms around him, holding him tightly, not wanting him to move so much as a millimeter as she swirled in a maelstrom of fluid heat. He took her on a sensuous ride where nothing mattered except their connection.
It seemed from a distance that she heard his soft curse as their lips clashed again and his hands worked their way across her shoulders, down her back and over her hips where he was urgently pulling her against him, pressing her close. Closer.

It was the sudden and shocking familiarity with his body, or perhaps the resurgence of sound judgment that jolted her out of the sensual mist and back to cold reality.

She pushed herself away, turning her back to him, seeking solace in the flames as if they held all the answers. She leaned forward against the mantelpiece and took several deep breaths in a vain attempt to regain control.
Behind her Cody stood still, his breath ragged and his blood pumping. He wanted to reach out to her, pull her against him, feel his hands on her skin, trace his lips over her body and experience her lips on his again.

"What are you feeling?" he asked carefully watching her shoulders rise with each shaky breath she took. He took a step towards her and reached out.

"Confused." The crackling of the fire almost disguised her words but they carried over to him, stalling his hands in mid air just behind her. "This isn't right."

"What?" he dropped his arms and slid his hands into his back pockets, palms out.

"We don't know what's going on here. We don't know ourselves, let alone each other." She turned away from the heat of the fire and caught him watching her, his eyes so aware and attentive she almost turned back.

"I know," he conceded but reached out and took her hand in his. "But it felt right, it felt good...great." She smiled so he continued. "If it was so wrong it wouldn't have felt so good." Then he added. "Or was that just me?"

"No," she admitted, feeling her pulse quicken as his hand circled her wrist and slowly pulled her against him into a warm, gentle embrace.

"This is what feels best." Her head rested comfortably on his chest and her arms locked behind his back as he squeezed her ever closer. "You here in my arms. I remember holding you earlier, like I was protecting you."

"Protecting me from what?" she moved her head to look up at him and realized her mistake as his lips were mere inches from hers, but his eyes were distant, unfocused as he concentrated on the shreds of memory that taunted him.

"The light...there was a bright light in the every window," he looked around suddenly and moved away, out of the embrace but he still held her hands. "It was stinging my eyes, I turned away and pulled you over to me..."

"I couldn't see anything, the light was too strong..." she admitted pulling the image from her own mind.

"There was a sound...buzzing," he tried to focus on the thought but it evaded his concentration and evaporated. "I can't...I can't remember."

"The harder we try the less hope we have. We need to relax and hope it will all come back."

"Relax? Are you crazy?" Dropping her hands, he raked his hair with his fingers and tried to shake the feeling of trepidation that coursed through his blood. 

"Someone has done this on purpose. And I'm sure it's for more then just confusion. I feel like I've been watched all evening." He admitted angrily.

"Don't be so paranoid!" she replied, catching his glare and meeting it with one of her own. "We're all stuck in the same situation."

"Are we?" he questioned, never moving his eyes.

"What are you talking about?"

"I know I've lost my memory. I'm pretty sure you've lost yours." He didn't say why he believed her so she didn't ask. "But I wouldn't be so sure about the others."

"You think they are lying?"

"One of them at least. It makes sense." He inched closer, his eyes widening as he thought about his theory and got ready to explain it to her in full. This was suddenly so familiar to her that she was sure they'd argued like this before. 

"This group amnesia isn't a fluke. Someone did this on purpose. So someone will have to monitor the progress to make sure it was effective on everyone."


"Jeff Parson?" he guessed.

"But he's not here."

"Maybe he was. Maybe whatever they used to wipe out our memories didn't work on him so they got rid of him."

"Cody, that's ridiculous." She turned away from him but he took her arm and squeezed it gently, making her turn back.

"It makes sense," he said softly then added, "You know it does."

"Okay, but it's not the only thing that makes sense."

"You have a theory?" He was mocking her. She was sure of it. Not maliciously, but the arch of his eyebrows and the almost smile on his lips was too hard for him to hide from her.

"I have a few thoughts...nothing I can prove."

"Like what?"

"There are numerous possibilities that would cause the memory loss...the power shortage; there may have been an overload, one of the stations might have exploded, which would explain the lights."

"But the lack of fire afterwards would contradict that idea."

"Some farms store chemicals for fertilization or GM Products..." she was grasping and she knew it, but something inside her wasn't willing to just cave in to his conspiracy theory.

"But this is a ranch," he countered. "No crops, just horses and cattle."

"Maybe they sell the fertilizer on so it would need to be stored here."

"Are you going to suggest that we got so high on methane fumes from horse shit that we have all experienced amnesia?" He laughed a little watching her lips already red from his kisses, but more so now as she bit them in idle thought.

"No but I'm just trying to see all the evidence and garner an explanation from there; rather then immediately assume a conspiracy of some sort."

"Me too. It just so happens that I'm willing to admit that the conspiracy exists while you fight to disprove me."

"I can't disprove you, not when there is nothing to disprove." Gazing at him with his face lit up from the fire and his brow furrowed with frustration, she smiled. She shook her head and pulled her hands through her hair, stood away from fire, walking over to the window. "So what do you want to do about it?"

He almost didn't hear her. She spoke without turning, her eyes fixed on the darkness outside and the pattering the rain made against the glass.

"I want to take a look around outside."

"It's pouring with rain outside," she argued then glanced at his flimsy clothes, that moments ago seemed to be heavy and cumbersome as her fingers sought the touch of his skin. "Jeans, a cotton shirt and a pair of boots wouldn't last long out there," she muttered.

"I just need to take a look. I'll only be a minute." He'd already made his mind up and was reaching for a raincoat off the stand behind the door.

"I'm coming with you," she was striding across the room and snatching another coat.

"No, wait here." He tugged the coat out of her hand and threw it back onto a hook. "In case someone comes down looking for us."

"Cover for you, you mean," she snapped angry at his dismissal of her help.

"I'll only be a minute."
He grabbed the torch off the coffee table and tossed a quick glimpse at her over his shoulder, before stepping out and closing the door softly behind him. Sarah raced to the window where she could make out the torch bobbing up and down as she watched Cody's shadow run across the yard to the main house.

Minutes passed after he disappeared inside and she followed the torch's movements from room to room, then it was gone. She imagined he was out the back of the house where the barn was and even through her worry, part of her brain registered the surprise at this knowledge of the farm buildings layout.

For three more agonizing minutes she kept vigil through the window into the darkness for his return, and was on the verge of following him when she spotted the torch's beam of light preceding him around the corner. He was running through the rain, dodging puddles as best he could.

She opened the door for him to race through and closed it immediately afterward. He left the torch on the dinner table and went without delay to the fire to get warm. Pulling off the sodden coat, he avoided her eyes and crouched in front of the roaring flames.

"Did you find anything?" she asked carefully when the silence became too much to bear. Cody stood up, turning to face her and she gasped at the full-unabridged glare of fury he was aiming at her.

"What do you think?" he barked, taking a step towards her, with effort barely holding his body still.

"Cody?" She approached him, her arm outstretched but he watched her with such barely disguised contempt that she snatched her hand back and retreated.

"I did find something of interest...maybe you can clear it up for me?"
From his pocket he pulled out a small black wallet and tossed it over to her. It landed open beside her feet and she looked down to see an unfamiliar I.D. staring back at her. Picking it up for closer examination, she saw in amazement it was her own face looking back at her but a different name. And next to it the gold badge emblazoned with federal stamps.

"FBI?" she whispered. "What the hell?"

"Sarah Whyte or Dana Scully?" Cody stepped over to her, his arms hung loose by his sides, but his hands clenched into tight fists that turned his knuckles white.

"I...Sarah Whyte...I have to be!" she exclaimed not noticing his anger but only her own confusion.

"Is that so?" He snatched the FBI I.D. from her, examining it closer. "Dana Scully it says here. Who the hell are you? What are you doing here?"

"I...I don't know..." Bewilderment claimed ownership across her small features as she sat heavily onto the couch with a 'wumph', her mouth agape and her eyes glazed and confused. "I don't understand."

"Are you working undercover? Are you here alone? Do you have a partner? Did you organize this… event?"

"I don't know Cody, you have to believe me!" she shouted.

"All the evidence is making you out to be a liar ma'am," he hissed hurtfully, dropping the ID onto the couch beside her. She ignored the small black wallet and something in Cody wavered.

"I know but I promise I had...have no idea what it means..."
Cody looked down at her, her quivering hands, her glassy eyes and her small mouth hanging open in astonishment.

"Here, come over to the fire, you're either in shock or a hell of a good actress."
With his help she got up from the couch and sat down on the heavy rug in front of the fire. He draped a blanket he snatched from one of the armchairs over her shivering shoulders and poured her a glass of brandy.

"Drink this." He said gruffly.
As if on autopilot she sipped the drink and felt it's burning pathway right down to her stomach, where it settled her nerves and warmed her blood.

"Thanks," she whispered, then glancing up at him over the rim of the glass she held against her lips, she added, "You do believe me don't you?"

"I don't know what I believe." He admitted as he sat heavily next to her, extending his hands out to the flames, his palms open, accepting the heat.

"FBI?" she said to the fire. "But...I'm a doctor. I know I am. I'm the ranch doctor."

"Maybe you're here undercover...maybe you have lost your memory like the rest of us..." he accepted without looking at her. Her reaction and shock were too genuine to be fake he decided, as he watched her carefully, still keeping a little distance between them.

"Maybe it has something to do with the reason I'm here in the first place." She placed the glass onto the marble fireplace and turned to him. "Where did you find this badge? Was there anything else?"

"No, it was wrapped in a bag in a wardrobe upstairs."

"What made you go into my room?" she asked suddenly turning to face him, anger flaring in her blue eyes.

"I checked all the rooms. Anyway, I didn't know it was your room until I found that," his thumb pointed at the offending I.D. badge that still lay on the couch. But he kept looking at the dancing flames for fear that she saw he was lying. Of course he knew it was her room. The subtle fragrance that clung to the air, the half open drawer of underwear and night clothes that he thought of going through but decided against. Whatever he braved the storm to find wasn't going to be hidden amongst her underwear.

"Did you find anything else?" she asked carefully watching his profile.

"No. The barn was empty. The stables were full of horses, but nothing or anyone else. No sign of Parson." He reached over and poked the fire back to life, tossing a new log onto it. Looking back at her he saw her eyes were unfocused as she watched the flames. "What is it?"

"I wish I could remember. Dana Scully's a bit different to Sarah Whyte, Ranch Doctor."  The creaking of floorboards behind them forestalled his reply. Instead they both shot up and watched the door that led to the stairs. More footsteps but they were slow and intermittent. As if whoever was approaching was listening for footsteps too. Cody moved forward so he stood before her, some instinct putting his body protectively between her and the door. His hands reached back for her and he pulled her against him.

He silently motioned to his lips for her silence and she complied, peering around his arm at the door. The door handle moved around and the door was pushed open. Scully felt his body tense as they waited for it to open fully.
Sonny Callaghan stepped into the room, his hair ruffled from sleep and his eyes half closed.

"Hey guys, I couldn't sleep so I thought I may as well be down here as up there." Then glancing at them both and their close proximity he smiled with a hint of mischief. "I'm not interrupting anything am I?"

"No." Cody relaxed a little, but not totally as he spied the FBI I.D. lying open on the couch. He took Scully's hand in his own and led her over to the couch. Sitting on the badge, he pulled her down next to him and draped an arm lazily over her shoulders. For a second she was confused but then realized where he was sitting. She squeezed her hand behind him and down to the small of his back where she could reach the edge of the wallet.

As Sonny walked over to the fire and warmed himself up, Scully worked her fingers around the wallet and pulled it out from under him, then slipped it deftly into his back pocket. His smile was crooked and teasing when she took her hand back and laid it on her lap.

"Some storm out there tonight. It'll be a while before they get the power and phone lines back working," Sonny said as he filled the kettle and hung it over the fire. "Haven't seen it like this in years."

Cody's ears pricked and he felt the small feminine body arch beside him, almost making him forget his thought.

"I suppose it's unusual weather for this time of year in Colorado."

"Completely different to what you'd see in D.C." He rested one elbow on the mantle piece and lifted one foot onto the marble fireplace.

"D.C?" Cody sat forward so his elbows were on his knees and his feet were planted firmly on the ground.

"It's too late. I know it didn't work on you." Sonny laughed without joy and reached for a toothpick in his teeth. "I hadn't planned it for such a large group but you were getting too close. Jeff couldn't be told. I knew I had to act."

"Sonny...what the hell are you talking about?" Cody inched forward on the seat so he was perching on the edge and ready to pounce.

"Stop pretending you can't remember." Sonny shouted, and then cast a wary glance over his shoulder at the door he'd just emerged from. "Lets take this somewhere where we won't disturb everyone else."

"Sonny, talk to me, tell me what's going on coz I sure as hell don't know what you are talking about."

"Shut up Cody. Just shut up and follow me."

"Where are we going?"

"Out to check the horses." Sonny slipped on a coat and tossed one to Cody who looked down at Scully. Slowly she rose to stand beside him.

"No one is going anywhere Sonny," she said slowly. "Not in that storm."

"Shut the hell up bitch!" Anger flared up out of his voice and he reached behind his back where he had a gun tucked in his jeans, and let his fingers curl around the handle. "Both of you put on the fuckin coats and get out there." He pointed towards the door with the barrel of his gun.

Silently they put on the raincoats and walked out into the storm. The rain battered down heavily against them and the wind threatened to tear them apart, but Cody took her arm and held her against him. Hurrying around the main house they headed straight for the stables and found sanctuary from the rain inside. As soon as they got under cover Cody put himself in front of her, ignoring the droplets of rain on his face, he watched as Sonny calmly walked in.

"Much better, now you can all scream and shout as much as you like, I don't think the horses will complain." The rain battering against the roof of the stable was loud and echoed thunderously around the room.

"You're going to shoot us? What for?" Cody exclaimed as Sonny approached and circled them slowly. He winced as he watched Sonny's fingers run gently up Scully's arm and trace a line across her shoulder to her neck, where his own fingers, his lips had been moments ago.

"You got too close to the secret," Sonny whispered into her ear letting his tongue touch the shell gently. She shivered with revulsion, turning away but it did nothing to dissuade his advances. Walking around her back he cupped her buttocks, squeezing them roughly.

"I have no idea what you are talking about. Neither of us does." She said as calmly as she could, her eyes closed over as she tired to block out his wandering hands, instead concentrating on the sensation of Cody's foot pressed against hers.

"You don't Agent Scully?" Her eyes flew open in shock, not at the mention of her name but at the fact that it seemed so right. All the doubt that sprung up regarding Sarah Whyte vanished when he said her name. She was a doctor, she was in the FBI, she was here undercover...she was about to be shot, she realized in horror. And so was Mulder.

"Sonny," She began opening her hands wide in gesture of helplessness, "the only thing I'm sure of right now is that you don't have to do this."

"Don't I?" he stepped around to the front again and raised his gun, aiming it squarely at Cody's chest.

"No!" she shouted, scaring herself with her urgency. "Don' won't make a difference. If you kill us more FBI will come looking and they won't stop until they find out what happened."

"That's if they remember what they came for in the first place!" he laughed mirthlessly as he held the gun tighter. "The last ones didn't."

Scully watched helplessly as his finger squeezed on the trigger but before he could pull it fully, Cody leapt back with a mighty force breaking through one of the stable fences.

The horse inside reared up on his hind legs whining loudly at the intruder. Beneath the horses stamping legs, Cody squirmed, dodging out of its way but not enough as the terrified animal's hooves ultimately made contact with his ribs, making a painful cracking sound that was heard even over the driving rain. Mulder yelled out in pain and scurried backwards on his ass until he half crouched at the back wall, doubled over in pain, the horse now his body guard.

Scully watched with bated breath at the horse's terrified stamping, tensing at Mulder's howl. She took a step forward but Sonny grabbed her back and held her close, pushing the gun against her ribs.

"If you want to see him alive again stay still." Hauling her over to the door, Sonny pulled some reigns off a hook and tied her wrists to a post. "Don't bother to scream for help. No one will hear you."

Sonny hurried back towards the stable where Cody was hiding and calmed the horse down enough to lead him out. Slapping the horse's hide, he set him on a gallop out the door. He looked around for Cody but the stable was empty.

"Agent Mulder?" he laughed. "Where are you hiding?" But there was no reply. Moving from stable to stable Sonny started to look for him. Scully listened for the terrifying crack of gunfire but it never came. Then suddenly a figure stood behind her and a cold wet hand clasped over her mouth. She tried to scream but the wind was pushed out of her lungs by the advent of a strong arm around her waist.

"Shhhh, it's me."
Mulder's voice in her ear was like heaven but she didn't have time to dwell on it. He pulled her free from the reigns and crept with her out into the yard. He tried to take her to the lodge house but she fought him, pulling him instead towards the main house.

Stealthily they climbed the stairs and she ran straight for her room. Mulder followed her close behind, watching the stairway and front door in case Sonny had followed them.

In her room she pulled the mattress off the bed and fumbled beneath it. When she emerged she had a gun in her hand and was confidently loading the bullets into place.

"You remember, don't you?" he asked in amazement at her deft movements as she pulled off her soaking shirt, slipped on a dry tee shirt, then fastened a holster to the back of her jeans. "Don't you?" Pulling a sweater on over her head she pulled him into the room and eased him down onto the bed. 

"Take off your shirt." Wincing in pain, he did as she asked and was surprised when she suddenly stood in front of him, between his legs. 

"He called me Agent Mulder." He said to keep his mind off her cold hands running over his painful skin.

Pressing her fingers along his sides, she carefully examined his ribs and found two of them broken and tender. A few droplets of rain clung to the hair on his chest but she looked away. He tried not to wince at the pressure she used but it was no good.

"I want you to stay here. I don't want you to move. I'll come get you when it's over." She said as she slipped the gun into its holster and yanked her sweater over it.

"Am I in the FBI too? Are we partners?" he yelled but she hushed him with a finger on his lips.

"Listen to me...I remember who I am. I remember what I'm here for. You don't. It's too dangerous."

"Who am I?" he asked angrily. "You know don't you?" His whisper carried enough anger to convince her he was serious, but it was too deep to delve into right now and they had little time as it was.

"I'll be back soon. Stay here, rest your ribs and stay quiet. I will come and see to them after I do this. " She turned to go but he wouldn't let her. His hand clasped her arm and he pulled her over to him.

"No, it's not that easy."

"I'm afraid that it has to be." Pushing him away she moved back to the door and peered into the hallway but she saw nothing. The butt of the gun suddenly hit her head before she saw it coming and she fell to the floor with a sickening thud.

Cody jumped up as Sonny stepped into the room, with a smile that was wide, almost grotesque.

"So you don't remember, huh?" He kicked her slackened body aside, much to Cody's horror and approached him. "You have no idea?"

Cody said nothing. The rage he felt building up inside his head was barely in control and he feared what would happen if he opened his mouth.

"Maybe I acted a little eagerly," Sonny admitted. "Ah well, too late to turn back now."

"What happened to Jeff?"

"Jeff? He's dead." He announced it with such cold clarity that it took a moment for Cody to react.

"And now it's my turn, then my partner's," Cody nodded towards Scully's body. She still hadn't moved and he prayed for her to wake up. His stalling tactics wouldn't last for much longer and he was sure Sonny would realize he was bluffing.

"Yeah. Or would you prefer the lady went first?" Sonny turned to where Scully's body lay half in and half out of the room.

"No, don't hurt her," Cody said urgently.

"You care? Why?"

"She's my partner, please don't hurt her." Cody bowed his head in an attempt to seem unthreatening, more hurt than he was and watched Scully's head move from beneath his lidded eyes. He prayed she wouldn't make a sound as she came around. "It doesn't have to end like this."

"That's there you are wrong," he said aiming the gun at Cody's chest.

"How will you explain it to the others?" he asked, desperately trying to give Scully more time to wake fully.

"I was only trying to protect my father's ranch. I came down and found you rustling the horses. I didn't have much choice."

"They won't believe you."

"But they'll believe me."

In the doorway stood Tom Kent, still wearing his apron but this time brandishing a heavy shotgun in his arms, its barrel wavering between the two of them. "Put the gun down son," he gestured to Sonny and watched as he gingerly placed it down on the floor and kicked it over to the doorway.
"Now what the hell is going on here? And what happened to the doc?" Slowly he crouched down, his eyes never leaving the two men and felt her neck for a pulse.

"I caught these two in the stables rustling horses." Sonny lied frantically.

"Sonny...I mean no disrespect but you're bullshitting!"

A soft moan from Scully made all three look down to where she was struggling to get on all fours. Cody wanted to help her up but he didn't dare move. As Tom extended a hand out to her, Sonny leapt forward and snatched the barrel of the shotgun. Tom was off balance and crashed to the floor on top of Scully who cried out in pain.

Tom scurried off her, rolling away as she jumped up to tackle Sonny from behind. But she was too late. Turning the gun, Sonny swung round, aimed it at Cody and fired.

The loud crack of the gun firing filled the room and was followed by Cody's body slamming against the wall amidst a volley of blood spray. He wasn't wearing a shirt so she could see the entry wound high up on the far right of his chest and the pool of blood that quickly spread out beneath him.

"No!" she yelled, pulling Sonny to the floor and punching him in the face. Her knuckles stung painfully but she didn't care. Her eyes flashed back up to Cody as she scrambled off Sonny, then Tom pulled him out from beneath her and held him at bay.

Frantically she grabbed the discarded shirt from the bed and pressed it firmly against his wound. He was clammy and unresponsive when she rolled him over to see the exit wound. It was almost fist sized size on his back and quite messy, but she pushed her panic away and focused on helping him.
Her mind reeled with what she should be doing, then suddenly her instinct kicked in and she pulled the blanket off the bed, covering him. She turned to Tom who was still holding a struggling Sonny and yelled at him to get her medical bag. Tom nodded and dragged Sonny, who was a smaller thinner man, out of the room.

"Hold on Mulder, Just hold on for me!" she brushed his sweat soaked hair back from his face and felt his weakened pulse beat erratically in his neck. His eyes remained closed and his breathing shallow as she waited for her medical kit.

Finally after what seemed like agonizing hours but were only moments, Tom and Jack came bursting in. Wordlessly, Tom thrust the bag at her and she quickly prepared a shot of morphine. Injecting it carefully into his leg, she dared to lift up the blanket and remove the blood soaked shirt. The wound was wide and gaping, pouring blood freely down over his paled skin and onto the floor.

She turned to Jack to ask him to get the truck ready but she didn't have to say anything, he'd read her mind, already racing down the stairs before she could utter a word.

"How is he?" Tom asked crouching beside her, but reading the worry in her face all too clearly.

"Not good. Where's Sonny?" She pulled a large cotton pad from the bag and pressed it against Mulder's back and another against the front bullet entry wound. Then Tom helped her lift him so she could strap it to him.

"He's back at the lodge. Chris is watching him and John's trying to talk to him. He had something to do with all of this...amnesia?"

"Yes. Are you remembering anything?" she spoke without looking up, focusing her eyes on Mulder, counting his frail pulse.

"Pieces. It's not making sense though."

"I wouldn't be here if it did Tom," she said cryptically, but Jack beeping the horn in the yard interrupted them before she could say more.

Tom lifted Mulder easily into his strong-arms and carried him wrapped in a blanket to the truck, where he slid him into the back seat. Scully slid in beside him and rested his head on her lap. With one hand she caressed his sweaty face, and the other held the makeshift bandage in place. Tom climbed into the passenger seat beside Jack and smacked the dashboard to get them moving.

"Does this truck have a radio? Can we call ahead?" she asked when she felt her partner's pulse slow down even more.

"Yes ma'am but not for another while yet. Once we get out of range of those hills it will be clear but until then...nothing," Jack replied, never taking his eyes off the road as he sped up, pulling the CB Radio Handset from the hook and turned it on. "See?" All they could get was static.

Scully nodded but it didn't make her feel any better. The night sky was so clear now the storm had ceased she had no trouble making out the stars, but she took no comfort in it, wanting only to help Mulder and keep his frail life blood from slipping away. But there was nothing she could do, except hold him and whisper soothing words in his ear.

"10-45, 10-45 I have an emergency situation, I need connection to Ransom Hospital, over," Jack spoke suddenly, scaring her out of her reverie. She recognized the code for Emergency and felt her back knot up with tension. The radio still answered only with static.

"10-45, 10-45 I have an emergency situation, I need urgent connection to Ransom Hospital, over," he said again, this time receiving a greeting in return.

"This is Ransom General Hospital, you are on an emergency channel, over,"

"Yeah, this is an emergency. I have a man with GSW to the upper right chest. ETA 4 minutes, over."

"Ok. We'll be ready. Over and out."

Relief tinged the air as Jack hung the handset back up and floored the accelerator harder. He risked a quick glance over his shoulder.

"How is Cody doin doc?"

"Badly," she replied, not willing to go into the full-length rendition of how herself and Mulder were undercover FBI Agents, but only she had retained any memory of their assignment to the ranch. Perhaps later she decided. Right now there were more urgent matters.

Then before Jack could ask anything else she felt Mulder's body still as his heart stopped beating and his breathing stalled. Slipping from under him she crouched in the foot space of the truck and started chest compressions, hating to see her furious pressure saturating the bandage with even more blood. His ribs were already broken as it was.

"One...two...three..." she counted each compression like a mantra, then tilted his head and breathed into his mouth. "One...two...three..."

She had repeated it eight times before they got to the hospital where they were met by a team of nurses who had a gurney ready. They all climbed out of the truck, letting the nurses ready the gurney, transferring Mulder's weak slackened body over, all the while continuing their desperate struggle to revive him.

"Patient lost consciousness at the time of shooting and never regained. Prior broken ribs, two. I'd already injected 40cc of morphine to stabilize the pain at the ranch, but he stopped breathing 2 minutes ago. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation was started and he's just responded, weakly," she added as they attached the air bag to his mouth and began pumping as they ran with him to Trauma.

"His name is Cody Phillips," Jack called out as if he thought he could help by offering whatever information he could. Scully raced with them following them into the ER Room only to be pushed back out again.

"I'm his doctor!" Scully argued and one of the nurses stopped and turned back to her.

"You are?"

"Yes. Please I need to be in there!"
It must have been the combination of the pleading tone in her voice, and the determined look in her eyes that made the nurse push the door open to admit her.

They were already working on him in a frenzy of organized chaos she could barley begin to understand.

"BP's 100 over 65. His pulse is at 88"

"Diminished breathing on the right."

"All right, let's get a large board IV and let's roll him. Yeah, big exit
wound at the back,… jeez, the size of a my fist. All right he needs a chest tube, STAT. I need a sterile drape." 

Although she understood everything they were saying and wanted to help, her instincts held her back, letting them work in the environment they were trained for.

"Janice, get two units of O. Neg. from the fridge," The head doctor called out and Scully was shooed aside as she raced out the door.

"He needs this exit wound cleaned out!"

"Just wait till I get the chest tube in."

"Hold on, pulse is weak and thready."

"Hey Cody...Stay with us..." A nurse stood by his head, watching the monitors and calling out readings. "Heart rate's up to 120.

"Chest out. Put in blood...500cc's!"

"He's bleeding out through his chest. All right, spike another unit of
O-Neg." The nurse called out catching Scully's eye as she yelled.

Scully moved away from the door, heart in her mouth and found herself by Mulder's head. Blood stained his lips and a small trickle ran down from his mouth to his ear from when she preformed the compressions.

"BP Rising...stabilizing."

"Lungs are clear."

"BP 115 over 75. Pulse 80."

"Get him to surgery," the ER Doctor demanded, stepping away from the gurney as two nurses propelled it hurriedly out of the room. He spotted Scully's ghostly face and approached her as he peeled off his gloves. "I'm Doctor Carson and you are?"

"Special Agent Dana Scully, FBI."
His hand hovered between them both as she watched after Mulder, her eyes glassy and unfocused.

"I thought you were the doctor out on Callaghan Ranch."

"I am,.. I was. It's a long story." She shook her head, too focused on Mulder's plight to offer an explanation, moving back out the door and into reception. The phone on the counter was dead and useless and she threw it back in its cradle in disgust..

"The line is dead," one of the nurses told her. "That damn storm moving this way again."

"I need to contact the sheriff, how can I do that?" she asked urgently, and after only a moment hesitation the nurse picked up the CB radio and called the sheriff's office.

"I have a lady here who needs to speak to Sheriff Bradley, over."

"Hang on a second Deborah."

There was a brief burst of static at the other end before the sheriff's voice came over the air.

"This is Sheriff Bradley, over."

"Sheriff," Scully said as she took the extended mouthpiece from the receptionist. "This is Special Agent Dana Scully, we spoke a few weeks ago regarding my case."

"Yes. I remember."

"There's been a shooting at the Callaghan ranch, I need you to meet me there as soon as you can." Scully was suddenly aware that Jack and Tom were standing across the corridor listening to her words, but she would explain later she decided.

"Was anyone badly hurt?"

"My partner. Will you place a call through to Agent Benson in Denver?"

"Of course. Meet you there in 15 minutes."

"Thank you. Over and out."
Scully handed back the radio and turned to her rapt audience. Tom and Jack looked shocked, their mouths agape.

"Doctor Carson?" she asked turning to him. "When will my partner be out of surgery?"

"It will take about two hours, maybe more. He has lost a lot of blood; his lung has been damaged, possibly punctured. His shoulder will need a pin placed in. The exit wound is messy. It's hard to say how extensive the damage is before the surgeon examines him fully."

"I have to go back to meet the sheriff but I'll return as soon as I can. Here's my cell number, call me the moment you have news of Mulder's condition."
Carson nodded and headed back to the ER to attend the next patient.


She turned irritably to see Tom walking towards her, his hat scrunched up in his hands and his head bowed low. "I think you dropped this in the back of the truck." Her eyes looked down to see a familiar black leather wallet in his hand.

"Oh...thanks." She met the eyes the two men and their confused faces. "My name isn't Sarah Whyte. It's Dana Scully. Special Agent Dana Scully with the FBI."

"You're not a doc?"

"I am. Forensic pathologist, but I work for the Bureau. I was here undercover working on a case with...with...Cody."

"Cody?" Tom asked skeptically.

"Special Agent Fox Mulder."

"You were working undercover at John's ranch?" Jack's eyes were wide with surprise.

"Agent Mulder and I arrived just two weeks ago to investigate the ranch. Several bodies have turned up across this state; connected by the fact that when alive, they all worked on this ranch at some point in the last five years. But I'm guessing if I named them you wouldn't recognize them."

"I've worked here for 30 years ma'am. Not much gets past me." Tom replied, affronted by her suggestion.

"But I think this amnesic event has happened before. Wiping hours, days, even weeks from your memory." She glanced over at the ER doors that led down from the surgical wing, when she thought they'd opened, but they hadn't. 

"Someone, Sonny I think, has orchestrated this on purpose for some reason yet unknown."

"Sonny? Why would he do that? How?" Jack's voice was rising with each new revelation.

"That's something I can't explain at this point," she shrugged, resigned.

"And Cody is your partner?" he glanced at the doors through which the gurney had disappeared then turned back to her, confused.

"Yes. Agent Mulder." She stood up and slipped her badge into her belt so her ID was showing. Walking towards the ER doors she heard Tom stepping closely behind her.

"How is his memory?" Tom asked carefully.

"He hasn't recalled any of this yet. Only I regained some memory."
He didn't know what else to say and he was a believer in not wasting words, so Tom remained silent.

"Lets go Tom." She said taking him by surprise with her abruptness. "I need to meet the sheriff."

Jack was gunning the engine, and was already pulling away from the hospital before the others were fully belted in. Scully climbed up in the front seat.

"What's happening with Cody…er Agent Mulder? Is he going to be alright?" he asked nervously." He's in surgery for the next few hours. But hopefully he will be okay if he can make it through. They managed to stabilize him before they took him up. Seems like he's in good hands." I Hope, Scully added silently to herself. She sat back and immediately felt the puddle of blood; Mulder's blood, staining her jeans but she couldn't move. She didn't have the willpower. Oh god Mulder, you'd better be okay, don't ditch me now.

The blue and white lights of the sheriff's car raked ominously against the stable wall as they arrived back at the ranch. The electricity must have returned as most of the lights in the main and the lodge houses were back on. Jack parked the truck alongside of it, jumping out to open the door for Scully. Spotting her FBI. ID, he faltered but to his credit he didn't say anything. They moved quickly through the lightly falling rain and Scully reached for the door. Hesitating a moment, she turned back to Jack and Tom.

"Thank you." She said simply. "Thank you for all your help."
They nodded, tipped their hats and then followed her inside. All eyes turned to them but focused on Scully's muddied and blood stained sweater, and the dark crimson blemish all over her jeans.

She scanned all their faces and did a quick mental count. John sat slumped in the chair that had dwarfed him before but now seemed to swallow him completely.

Mark sat on the other side of the room, sipping what she guessed was a glass of whiskey in a vain attempt to wash the paleness from his face. The sheriff perched one leg on the fireplace and an elbow on the mantelpiece. And finally, Sonny slumped in the center of the couch, his hands cuffed on his lap and his chin resting on his chest.

"Sheriff Bradley?" Scully crossed the room and approached him with her hand extended.

"Yes ma'am." He shook her hand and Scully saw that his eyes didn't miss her badge.

"Special Agent Dana Scully, FBI." She proffered her badge and passed it to him. The room seemed to gasp as she spoke and she turned to them all individually, making eye contact. "Did you get in touch with Agent Benson?"

"Yes ma'am." He confirmed. "He said he'd be here as soon as possible. Storm up county is still causing travel problems. Two more of my deputies are on their way out here and I already have two more checking the area." He seemed to want to continue, but hesitated before he glanced over at John and then back to the fire. "I hear one of the men is missing?"

"Jeff Parson." Tom confirmed.

"There's a search team out for him right now."

"Good." She turned to Sonny, but before she could say anything the familiar thunder of helicopter blades broke the tense silence. Scully rushed outside, shielding her face from the mist and debris the chopper kicked up as it landed.

"Agent Scully!" Jason Benson climbed out of the chopper and was racing over to her, followed by three other agents. She guided them indoors and gestured over to Sonny on the couch. One of the other agents read him his Miranda rights and frog marched him outside, everyone watching as the agent pushed him into the chopper then followed him in. He tapped the pilot's shoulder to take off.

For the next hour Scully spoke with Agent Benson, explaining the events at the ranch, exactly what had happened and where Mulder was. She touched briefly on the amnesia, knowing he'd need the information for the interrogation of the rest of the men, but not wanting to have to explain it fully when she didn't understand it herself yet. Her mind was elsewhere and there were still too many unanswered questions.

Agent Benson listened carefully then called out to the two agents who stood guard at the door and ordered them to organize transportation for the ranch workers to be taken to the Sheriffs' office for interrogation. Then he turned to Scully.

"Go," he said, warm smile and with a reassuring hand on her shoulder. "Go back to the hospital. Check on your partner and let me know how he's doing." She managed a small smile. She felt exhausted by the quick succession of the days' events.

"I need to call AD Skinner."

"I'll call him as soon as I get back to the office." She nodded gratefully and headed out to the yard.

"Hey, Doc!" turning she saw Jack running after her. "Take the truck. Doesn't look like I'll be needing it for a while." She smiled her thanks before racing over to the Bronco and leaving the ranch behind, not looking back as she gunned it over the rough terrain.


Crouching low in the mud, Master Sergeant Matheson tightened his grip on the night vision binoculars and focused the lens. He watched as the agents scrambled across the yard to the main house and couldn't help the smile of triumph that curved his lips.

Silently he lifted his hand over his head and motioned backwards, as he shoved his binos back into his satchel and shuffled back on his belly. When he was satisfied that he was fully out of sight, he sat up on his haunches and looked over to the two Sergeant First Class officers that hunkered low beside him.

"Send the men back to camp. Jacobs stay here with me. I want to make sure they all leave before we go down there again."

"Yes sir." One of the SFC almost bent double as he hurried through the brush to the group of completely black dressed rangers that waited there.

Matheson waited till he was out of sight, before crawling back on his belly to his vantage point on the ridge where he could make out almost the whole of the ranch grounds. MSG Kearney lay next to him, awaiting his orders, looking up as he heard a soft chuckle from his sergeant.

"Seventy-fifth, Black beret," Matheson whispered softly reciting the rhythmic cadence he learned at boot camp. "Pick up your weapon and follow me, I'm the ranger infantry."


She made it to the hospital in record time and breezed through the ER, following the signs to the Trauma surgery unit. It was a small hospital so she found it easily. The receptionist watched her racing from the lift and eyed her bloodied clothes with curiosity.

"Excuse me I'm looking for Fox Mulder." Scully ground out breathlessly, scoping out the corridors as if she expected him to be walking towards her.

"Fox Mulder, he's a patient?" the nurse asked after finding no records on her computer.

"He was admitted for emergency surgery today, a GSW victim." Scully added impatiently.

"No dear, I have no one by that name. I'm sorry."

"Cody Phillips!" Scully yelled suddenly, startling the nurse behind the counter. The woman checked her screen and nodded.

"We have a Cody Phillips in recovery at the moment. You can't go in yet, but he's room 212. Dr Carson should be there right now. He can let you know how he's doing."

"Thank you," she called out as she moved briskly down the hall to locate the right room. Sure enough, through the window in the ICU she could see a tall doctor talking with a nurse by Mulder's bedside.

When he left he glanced over at Scully in confusion, then it dawned on him. She was one anxious woman. Agent Scully.

"How did the surgery go?" Scully asked breathlessly before he had the chance to speak.

"He lost a lot of blood. We cleaned up and stitched the wound, repaired everything we could quite nicely. Really neat job if I do say so myself. He's on transfusion at the moment, as well as saline drip and OxyContin for pain. His shoulder and surrounding muscles were damaged quite nastily but will repair in time with some extensive physio."

"Has he regained consciousness?"

"No. But that's to be expected. With the level of surgery required his anesthetic dosage was considerable and we have him sedated for a little while, so he doesn't shift around and mess up his shoulder now we've fixed it. I shouldn't think he'll be awake before the day is out."

Scully looked out at the rising sun over the trees that lined the hospital car lot.

"Would you like to go in?"

"Please," she almost cried with gratitude, but then she looked down, and seemed to notice her soiled clothes for the first time. She glanced up at him again. "I don't suppose there are any scrubs lying around I can borrow?"

"Of course," he smiled knowingly and led her towards the ladies locker room. 

"You will find all you need in there."

"Thank you."

She showered and changed as quickly as she could, discarding her clothes in the waste bin by the door on the way out.

Mulder's room was small and full of the usual ICU machinery. The soft hiss of the ventilator, the rhythmic beeping of the heart machine monitoring his stability, and the faint dripping of the Saline IV that tapped mercilessly on her heart.

She was by his side in three easy steps and resisted the urge to check his chart. Right now it wasn't the medical measurements of his blood pressure, or the details of his surgery that would offer her most comfort. She needed to see the stunning hazel of his eyes and that familiar crooked smile curving his lips.

Taking his limp hand in hers, she held on tightly and watched his face for any response. There was none. A nurse came into the room and jotted notes onto his chart. Silently, she pulled a chair over to Scully and placed it behind her before she left, but it seemed like she didn't even notice. She stood for an interminable amount of time staring at her partner, watching and waiting in hope.

Her other hand moved up from her side and rested on his bare chest, feeling his heart beating slowly. It was reassuring but his skin was warm and clammy, his temperature high with fever from the excursion into surgery. Knowing he would be out for the rest of the day, Scully made herself comfortable on the chair as best she could and held his hand tightly. She hoped he could sense she was there.


Darkness hid the shadows of the room from his tired, half hooded eyes. He urged his body to roll over, mentally thinking of the work he had to do in the yard but nothing seemed to be responding. His legs remained like steel girders in the bed refusing to obey and a flash of hot panic raced through his body, boiling his blood at his temples in a painful rhythm.

In his mouth he felt something soft and thick so he reached up to take it out, but his hands also refused to move. His panic evolved into terror as he realized his breathing was constricted and his lungs ached. There was something trapped in his throat!

Sounds of his heavy choking woke her up immediately, alerting her to his pain and making her jump out of the chair. She hit the light switch beside the bed and leaned far enough over him to pin him to the bed and stop him struggling.
Their eyes locked and she took deep breaths with him, willing him to follow suit and calm down. When his panic subsided enough she pressed the call button and waited for the nurse to arrive, all the while keeping their eyes fixed, hoping he could stay calm.

"It's okay, it's helping you breathe," she soothed, indicating the ventilator tube in his mouth. "Just relax. That's it Mulder, take it easy."

A nurse bustled in with the doctor right behind. They were both frowning at the sight of Scully all but sitting on their patient and breathing with him.

"You're awake Mr. Mulder!" the nurse intoned cheerfully as she disconnected the tube from the ventilator. "I'm going to take this out now and I want you to help me, can you do that?" Scully moved away but held onto his hand, stroking it and he followed her with panicked eyes.

The nurse took hold of the mouthpiece and carefully pulled it a little until he started coughing.


"That's it, now give me one big cough and I'll pull it right out!" His chest heaved with the effort and he winced in pain, but as promised the nurse took the tube out with one slow pull. "There now, is that better?"

"Thanks," he rasped, still coughing a little as Scully held up a small cup of ice chips one of the nurses had carried in, and dropped a few into his mouth and rubbed them off his lips.

"How are you feeling?" the doctor asked stepping forward with his chart and a smile.

"Battered." Mulder's throat ached and his body was a single throbbing pulse of pain. "What happened?"

"You've been shot. Right side of your chest with his exit wound clean through the rear of your shoulder." The doctor pointed out on his own body where Mulder had been injured. "You are a very lucky man, and thanks to Dr Scully it looks like you will make it."

Doctor Carson explained Mulder's injuries and why he was hurting so much, and then answered all the questions he was asked in return. After checking his patient's blood pressure and his vitals, the doctor told Mulder to rest up then left with the nurse after prescribing more pain meds. His passing comment on the way out was to mention there'd soon be a pump Mulder could operate himself to help with his pain meds needs.

As soon as the doctor left, Mulder turned to her, his eyes half closed and his face pale with pain. "Scully..." his voice scraping against an already raw throat.

"Hey," Scully soothed petting his hair, delighted at the sound of her real name coming from his voice and wondered how much he was remembering. "How are you?"

"I'm confused to say the least." He let his head fall back and closed his eyes. "I remember planting fence posts...sipping whiskey in front of the fire...talking to Sonny in the stables."

"Well you shouldn't try to remember right now. I'm sure it will all come back to you in time. It was a severe injury. You suffered major trauma."

She was hiding behind the medical catchphrases she could muster; major trauma, severe injuries, but she couldn't bring herself to speak so candidly with him. The events of the night before had left a gaping hole in their relationship, one that he hadn't discovered yet and if he were to remember kissing her maybe the rift would only widen. Or perhaps not.

"There is more...more I can remember, but it's like remembering scenes from a movie."

"Don't try Mulder." She helped him take some more ice chips, holding his head up for him and gently pressing the spoon against his lips.

"Who is Cody Philips?" he asked suddenly.

She stilled, her hand hovering over the cup she had just replaced on the bedside locker. "Who?"

"Cody Philips...ugh...everything is just so mixed up." He wanted to rub his face but his arms ached from the transfusion, almost numb from the sedatives and he didn't have the energy to lift them.

"We were working undercover. The case on Callaghan Ranch."

"The serial murders...In Colorado. Are we still in Colorado?"


"Wait...I was Cody Philips?" His mind was working things out quicker than she thought he would. His head was shaking, rolling from side to side and he was struggling to keep his eyes open. "Is that why you kissed me?" Startled she looked down at him, but his face was closed off as the exhaustion took over.

"Relax Mulder. Later. You try to get some sleep."

"Were you kissing Cody? Or me?" he persisted, opening his eyes wide for a second as he tried to stay awake, then closing them again against the light and the pain.

"Go to sleep Mulder. I need to go talk to Agent Benson. I'll be back in a little while." She stroked his head then turned to leave. He was out before she had a chance to close the door.

Outside the hospital she checked her watch as she climbed back into the Bronco. It was still early so with the time difference she hoped she'd still catch Skinner at his office.

There appeared to be no one at the ranch when she pulled up outside the main lodge. All the lights were off and no one answered her when she called out. She let herself in and went upstairs to her room. Her luggage was all still there, and a pool of Mulder's blood, stained the wooden floor beneath the window.

Delighted to find the phone lines working again, she hurriedly dialed Skinner's extension and spoke briefly with Kim. Skinner spoke anxiously with her for a few moments about the case, before his voice took on a more tender tone.

"How is he?" he asked after a short pause.

"He's doing much better. Thank you. He'll be out of the field for a while with this one, so the biggest obstacle will be keeping him at his desk."

"And the amnesia? Is he still affected?"

"A little, but it's wearing off."

"Speaking with Agent Benson earlier it seems all the other men at the ranch have regained full memory."

"Yes. I have too."

"But it still doesn't explain how the perp did it." Skinner expelled a frustrated breath into the phone that clearly illustrated his tension.

"No sir." She didn't offer any explanation as she didn't have any, she was glad when he didn't push. It would take many more hours and avenues of investigation, plus questioning of the prisoner before the true facts were discovered regarding this case.

"When will he be fit enough to return to DC?"

"Not for at least another week sir." She was tired and had to turn away from the phone to yawn. "He's over the worst of it now sir. It's just a matter of time until his muscle and tissue heals and he works his energy back up."

"Ok. Keep me informed with his progress?"

"Yes sir."

"Agent Benson will be interrogating Callaghan in the morning. Might be an idea if you'd be there."

"Yes sir."


FBI Field Office
Denver CO

"It doesn't make sense!" Agent Benson dropped his cigar into the ashtray on his desk and paced the room once more. "Hypnosis?"

Scully followed him with her eyes wishing he would open a window and let out some of the cigar smoke from the small claustrophobic room. "Amnesia sometimes occurs spontaneously in hypnosis, and sometimes happens as the result of a direct or indirect suggestion."

"So he hypnotized everyone to forget everything?"

"In a way."

"How?" he barked out angrily. "Why didn't it work on Jeff Parson?" he added as he snatched his cigar back up and took a long drag.

"I don't have all the answers," she argued.

"Well I have some." Agent Benson grabbed the phone and called for an Agent Paul Jules to come into the room. "He wasn't working alone."

"Sonny told you that?" Scully asked sitting up.

"He didn't have to." They both turned to see Agent Jules entering in with the file photos in his hand. "We found footprints. Estimating about 12 men out there."


"In the field behind the barn." He passed her the pictures of the prints and the aerial photos of the ranch. "Everyone remembers the power going out, the storm and then the amnesia."

"Yeah?" She wasn't following him.

"The power went out at approximately 6.30. It was closer to 2am when Agent Mulder was admitted into the ER. That's 8 hours when you all only recall the passing of a mere 3 hours."

"Lost time," she muttered under her breath. "So who was it? What…or who was out there?" she demanded to know, standing. Jules and Benson exchanged worried glances before looking back to her. "The Military."

"The Military?"

"We found bullet casings. They matched army regulation AR - XM8 Army Issue assault rifles."

"The body of Jeff Parson was also recovered. He was shot in the head twice, and chest once. Again with XM8 bullets."

"Can you trace the bullets more specifically?" Scully asked, suddenly seeing light at the end of the case as opposed to the dark dead end she had become resigned to.

"No. Bulk sale, army issue. The motive for all of this is still unclear." He slapped the photos onto the table. "Our only hope to clear all this up is Sonny."

"Lets go talk to him."


They were soon at the cell in the back of the building where Sonny was being held. His curled up form was lying near the top of the bed, his head covered with the flat pillow, and a threadbare blanket draped loosely over his body.

"Sonny?" Benson said as the guard opened the door and they walked in. Sonny didn't move. "Sonny?" Benson reached out to touch his shoulder and watched in horror as Sonny's body rolled onto it's back; his eyes wide open as he stared at the ceiling. "Shit!"

Scully pushed her way over and quickly checked his pulse. It was normal, as was his temperature and his breathing strong.

"Is he dead?" Carson asked.

"No. He' some sort of trance." She murmured, standing away from him. 

"Get the paramedics in here," she added quickly.

"A trance?"

"Some kind of hypnotic trance," Agent Jules added and all three of them exchanged worried glances.

Ransom Hospital
5 Days Later

With some reluctance Dr Markson released Mulder from the hospital under the condition that he would be traveling with a qualified doctor. He was fit enough to go home, just, but he walked slowly, tiring easily. Scully packed his belongings and met him with a wheelchair at the hospital entrance to go to the airport. The effort of moving cost him dearly and he slept with the aid of some sedation through the whole flight and most of the cab journey back to her apartment.

She helped him into her living room and steered him towards the bedroom. It was just past five in the evening when they landed and dusk was quickly taking hold of the city. Undressing him was difficult, as he couldn't move his right arm without surges of pain gripping him. But together they managed it and he slipped in between the cool sheets, taking sharp breaths and over tired from the exertion.

"You need to take a lot of fluids Mulder and rest up." She told him firmly after placing a glass of water on the bedside table beside his clock.

"Yes Doctor," he muttered, his eyes closed and his breathing slowing.

"I'll be in the living room. Skinner will probably call around later for my report. But I don't want you to move from that bed."

"Yes Doctor." He gave her a yawn and a sleepy smile.

"Call me if you want anything. Ok?" she busied herself as she spoke, ambling around the room and shutting the curtains, plunging the room into an uneasy darkness.

"Ok..." Already he was drifting off to sleep so she left without another word.


Scully was sitting cross-legged on the couch when Skinner arrived. He immediately noticed how exhausted she looked but refrained from commenting on it. She offered him coffee and he accepted, so she handed him her report and went to make the coffee as he read it through.

Skinner sat at her dinner table, mindlessly tapping a pen on his lips as he scanned through it. Scully sat across from him waiting for his response. She was prepared to go through it with him step by step. Explaining about the lights, the flashing lightning event, lost time and the amnesia and then her meeting with Agent Benson.

Skinner took it all in, asking only a few questions before moving away from the table when she finished, to stand pensively by the window. He had his back to her so she couldn't read his expression, but his arms were folded aggressively across his wide chest so she was guessing he wasn't happy.

"Mass hypnosis?" He stated turning around and fixing his curious eyes on her.

"Yes sir. We understand that although Sonny Callaghan hasn't performed the actual hypnosis, he was securing the victims."

"For who? The military? In the past the Army have used their own men for experimental drugs and procedures. Why would they need to use ranch hands?"

"It's not particularly clear sir. Sonny hasn't woken from his trance yet. We are still trying to trace the origin of the bullet casing more specifically but nothing has turned up yet. All avenues of investigation have hit a brick wall under the secrecy act. No one is admitting involvement but we suspect a covert group may be behind this. Whatever it is."

"And that is explanation enough for you?" he asked surprised at her dismissal of the unanswered facts.

"No sir. I have requested further interviews with the men at the Callaghan ranch and have ordered numerous tests and scans to be carried out while he is in custody. Currently indefinitely, because of the homeland security clause, they can keep him longer. They have classed this as some kind of terrorism, or run up to a terrorist act."

"Has he recovered yet?" Skinner asked, already knowing the answer but needing to hear her admit it.

"No sir. His catatonic state is impervious to all stimuli."

"So also according to his doctor he may be in the custody of the Colorado state mental health facility for a long time." Skinner walked back to the table as he spoke and took a sip of his coffee, but he remained standing.

"Yes sir."

"Anything from the interviews with the other ranch workers?"

"Not yet sir. As you can see from the polygraph results they all passed. No one had previous knowledge of the other victims or Sonny's reasons for executing this…or the reason for the killings."

"And the polygraph Sonny took before the coma?"

"It was inconclusive sir." She passed the results sheet over to him but he looked down at it without understanding. "Two separate experts read it but couldn't distinguish whether he was lying or not."

"Sounds like Mr. Callaghan has something more to hide." Skinner sat down at the table and shuffled though the notes again.

"I have a psychologist speaking with him on a daily basis to see if we can get any more out of him. The doctors seem to think some other outside involvement may have led to his current state. Some minor brain damage seems to have taken place …but we can't be sure on the cause."

"Okay Agent Scully. I'll sign off as unknown, pending further enquiries. Only I think I don't have to tell you that given our previous experience, we may be ….er unsuccessful in gaining full disclosure regarding the nature of this case. It's an X file all right. So how is he doing?" Skinner asked nodding his head towards the bedroom where he knew Mulder lay.

"He's very tired. Tries too much too soon."

"Has his memory returned fully?"

"Not quite. Just a few pieces remaining though. Since he's been here and on the flight home it seems to be picking up momentum. Hopefully he will be himself again very shortly."

Skinner noticed the small color creep over her cheeks but she turned away, busying her self with the cups in the sink. "Okay. I'll go now. File this. Good work, both of you. Thanks for your time."

Department Of Army HQ
Fort Leonard Wood

Master Sergeant Matheson sat ramrod straight in the small wooden chair. His dress uniform was impeccably pressed with buttons and medals shone to sparkling condition. Across the wide table he watched as Captain Kennedy read through the report silently. To his left, sitting in front of the large window were two Captains he had never seen before but noted with respect, the amount of medals they brandished proudly on their uniforms.

In the corner to the right at the back of the room, Matheson cast a quick glance at the civilian who tipped ash from his cigarette into an ashtray. As the older man caught his gaze, he lifted the cigarette to his dry lips he cast the Sergeant a cold stare of his own and Matheson quickly looked away.

Outside he watched as the infantry marched by, singing loudly in rhythm and suddenly he yearned for the simple beginnings. He didn't want to hear the words 'covert mission' again.

"Master Sergeant Matheson." His eyes snapped back to attention as he looked at Captain Kennedy. "The situation in Colorado was supervised by yourself?"

"Sir, yes i was sir." Matheson felt his back straitening a little further as he readied himself to answer all the expected questions and even a few he knew he would never anticipate. "The Alpha squad set up camp in approx 30 kliks outside ransom. It was a twenty minute hike west to the ranch so it was ideal for Operation Mist."

"How many members of Alpha squad accompanied you?" The question was from one of the captains that sat to his left.

"Sir, 8 men accompanied me from Alpha squad, sir. Two Sergeant First Class Officers, Two Corporals. Four SPC Officers and three men from the medical corps."

For the next four hours Matheson answered the questions as best he could. All three captains took turns grilling him, delving deeper and deeper into the mission than he'd ever expected. The silence from the shady civilian in the corner was unnerving. To watch him light up one cigarette after another without asking a question, or even uttering a single word caused alarm bells to go off in his head.

"Master Sergeant Matheson," Captain Kennedy closed the file over, signaling the end of the meeting. "We'll be in contact."

Matheson stood up and snapped his heels to attention and saluted them before turning abruptly to face the door.

"One more thing…" The civilian stood up and crushed his half smoked cigarette into the ashtray. 


"Special Agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully were at the ranch," he said as he approached the MSG and pulled a pack of Morley's from his breast pocket.

"Yes sir." Matheson looked around the room at the three captains. "Their undercover operation began on the 15th when they arrived at the camp at 15.30 hours."

"At any time did they come close to revealing the lab beneath the Ranch Farm?"

"No Sir. Their investigation seemed to be centering on the personnel around the farm, rather than the farm itself."

"Then can you explain to me why the pulse was set off on the night of the storm?" He clenched his lips to hold the cigarette in place while he struck a match to light it.

"As I explained in my report. Sonny Callaghan had caused it to ignite."

"Okay. Thank you." Matheson turned to leave and shut the door with a soft click behind him.

The room floated in a smoky silence for a few seconds until Captain Kennedy stood up. "I get the distinct impression that you don't believe him?"

"No." He puffed out a breath of gray smoke. "Sonny Callaghan could not have set off that pulse."

"Why not? MSG Matheson is one of the best men in this army. I won't have you-"

"The pulse was set off by someone and we need to find out who before this happens again." He took another long puff of his cigarette and crushed it into the ashtray again. "We have two other labs under observation with similar situations. I won't have them jeopardized for the sake of one man's reputation."

"The incident in Colorado was a mistake. Callaghan should never have been involved." Kennedy argued heatedly.

"Florida and Montana are showing signs of stabilizing. We just need a few more months to finish testing before we can take it out to the field."

"We have approval for field testing in Abu Ghraib prison starting in November."

"All results should be compiled by then." Lighting another cigarette, the civilian looked around the room before turning slowly and leaving.

Dana Scully Apartment.

Sitting in her apartment Dana Scully felt lonely. For the past two weeks working on the ranch she'd got use to company for dinner every evening. 

Conversation and laughter filled the room then, but now she found herself pushing a salad around her plate, barely eating anything. She checked in on Mulder but found him still out cold, his water glass empty. So after refilling his drink she left without disturbing him.

Now as she put her plate on the table and curled up onto the couch, she let her mind wander over the weeks gone by. Images melded in her mind as it all came back to her, but the soft footfall behind her made her turn sharply. 

Mulder stood leaning on the doorframe, his face pale and washed out and his eyes glassy from pain.

He was wearing nothing but a rumpled pair of black boxers and with one arm strapped to his chest, holding his injured shoulder in place, covering the bulky surgical bandages, he looked more vulnerable then she had ever seen. She stood quickly and helped him to stand up fully.

"Mulder?" she asked uncertainly but he didn't give her a chance to say anything else. He leaned back against the wall behind him with a slight wince then hooked his free arm around her.

He pulled her closer regardless of his injury, wrapping his arm tighter around her and he kissed her. He tilted his head, deepening the kiss before she had a chance to react and touched her lips with his tongue.

Her arms held him closely but she was afraid to squeeze him in case she hurt his chest, but he had no such qualms. His uninjured hand traveled over her back, pulling her against him as his other hand rested between them, his tongue stroking hers in eager urgent moves that sent shivers of anticipation through her body right down to her curling toes.

His hand circled her neck and cupped her face as he pulled away from her, his breath raspy and ragged. He held her face mere inches away, staring into her eyes and tried to guess her thoughts.

"That time you were definitely kissing me." He spoke softly and she could feel his breath brushing warmly across her face, as well as his fingers. Her cheeks blushed as his words sunk in and she tried to look away but he held her firmly in place.

She smiled under his gaze and blushed again. He wouldn't let her look away as he came closer and pressed his lips gently against hers.

"It was strange." He began as he hugged her and rested his head on her shoulder. "To forget who I was but still feel the same urges. To still feel the need to be close to you, seek solace in your arms, taste your lips."

"I know what you mean," she whispered her voice getting lost in warm skin. Eager to feel him fully.

He turned his head and kissed her neck before straightening up, wincing from the sharp sudden pain that gripped his chest.

"I can't believe how bad my timing is!" he said with a little laugh as he led her over to the couch and sat down carefully. "If it wasn't for my gunshot wound..." he let his voice fade out as his smile widened and his hand grasped hers, lifting it to his lips.

"Well maybe we'll have to sort something else out!" she grinned coyly as she tilted her head and kissed the edge of his jaw, making him groan with frustration. "Sorry...should I stop?"

"No Scully don't ever stop!" He ignored the pain in favor of the sensual sensation of her lips on his skin, and reached up to pull her closer. "Promise me you won't ever stop!"

The End.
Jan 2005