Life on Mars

by ?

© 2003


Disclaimer: All characters belong to 1013 Productions and CC. I’m merely borrowing for my own fun.


Storyline spoiler: Mulder dropped his gun on the floor and stumbled backwards, hitting the wall behind him hard. His head crashed roughly into the doorpost. He couldn’t go any further backwards than that; he wasn’t able to anyhow. He was hit.


Spoilers: Small one referring to “End Game”.


Rating: PG


Type: MT, Angst, UST




Life on Mars

© 2003


“Oh Jesus.”


Mulder dropped his gun on the floor and stumbled backwards, hitting the wall behind him hard.  His head crashed roughly into the doorpost.  He couldn’t go any further backwards than that; he wasn’t able to anyhow.


Before him lay the deceased body of Robert Carr, dead by a single bullet to the chest. Mulder focused on the man’s bloodshot eyes staring into nothingness as he himself sunk down through his knees and shifted his body against the post while sliding to the ground.

He sunk down until he could not go any further, until his back rested against the post and his butt and hands came in contact with the icy cold floor.  He could see his own breath escaping his mouth and the constant trembling of his hands. 


He felt absolutely nothing.


Nothing could hurt him right now.  Not a single sense of pain shot through him as he remained seated.  The pain had been short and sharp when the bullet entered his body and then numbness had settled in like a comfort blanket.  Not one prickle inside his brain could motivate his body to move up and away from the floor, to go for help outside of the cabin and to find someone, somewhere who could save his life.


He closed his eyes and concentrated on his breathing: In and out, in and out.  It was all he could do to remain awake and alert.  He could not accept his possible fate without a fight.  Yet his body resisted all the prickles his brain was trying to send through.  He felt as numb as he had been on the ice, when he had traced down the hunter who claimed to know where his sister was.  Then he had not been able to do anything to help himself either.  Just like now.  Now he was just as out of it as he had been back then.  And strangely enough it felt good.  He would do anything to stop his body from aching and hurting, from torturing him.  Anything was better than the destructive pain one felt after the shock wore down. 


“Somebody.  Help.” 

His voice sounded raspy.

He could hardly bring out the words he needed to express so badly.  His throat seemed closed up; his back and neck ached.  The pain came.  He knew the bullet had cracked at least one rib.  It felt like twenty.  Every single move would hurt like hell; he couldn’t stand that.  A movement might even kill him.  He was afraid.  Extreme fear swirled through him, hammering him on the head like a sledgehammer.  Don’t move.  Don’t do anything.  Sit back and take it like a man.  Let death take you over.  Don’t do anything. It’s so easy to go there.  Just take it.  Accept it.


No. Focus! His mind urged him to concentrate.


His mind swirled instantly back into reality as one single move with his head sent the pain rushing through him.  Suddenly he was grateful for it: He had to stay here.  He had to stay alive.  He couldn’t let Scully find him like this: bled to death and going down for nothing.  This truly was not the ending he had in mind for himself.  He preferred autoerotic asphyxiation over this.


Focus.  Concentrate.  Stay alert.  Stay put.  Be alive.  You can do it.  Get up and pick up that cell.  Find her.  Tell her.  Have her come here.  Have her get help.


It took a while for the engine to start up again, for his mind to shoot in action and for his body to respond while he was bleeding on empty.  He moved his arm and shoulder, sending prickles of pain through his head that told him he was still alive and stood a chance of survival.


Somehow he pulled one arm out of its stupor and into the direction of the floor.  His fingertips touched the cold tiles again, feeling them.  The other arm followed, the other fingers tapped on the floor too.  His entire body moved forward.  He lost contact with the doorpost.  There was blood on his shirt, pants and hands.  It seemed to come from everywhere.  He dropped to his side, wincing and groaning as he crawled on his side on the floor.


Yeah, that was good.  Crawling felt okay.


His body shuffled on the floor.  His left shoulder felt paralyzed.  The bullet had gone in there, underneath the collar bone, into his chest.  He cried silently in pain, biting his lip as he struggled with the darkness that eagerly awaited him.  He would not give in.


It took forever to move forward.  The floor came dangerously close to him, urging him to drop his head and just let it be.  Don’t lose it, his instincts warned him.  Don’t rest your head.  Move.  Go.  Crawl.  Anything.


Pain.  Extreme pain.  Horrid senses hurting him.  Had to move.  Had to get to Scully.  Had  to find her.


Panting he finally rested his head.  He had moved only a few inches but it seemed as if he had crossed a thousand miles.  If he tried, he could touch the cell phone.  He just needed to stretch out his fingers.


Yeah, there it was.  The cell phone lay within his sight.  Cold metal touched his fingertips. He almost laughed in sheer joy as the blood continued to drip out of him.  His heartbeat hammered in his eardrums.  He was exhausted.  Robert’s body was close to him now.  He could see death in the man’s face.  The whites of his eyes were bloodshed.


Mulder shivered, swallowed and groaned.  He was not there yet.  Not by far.


His fingers pressed the speed dial button “2” where Scully’s name was hidden under. A few clicks, the ringing tone, a voice.  He almost passed out of pure and unrequited joy.


“Mulder, where the hell are you?” she came, and her voice was stressed from worry.  He could have cried by the sound of her.  In his distress, pain and fear he needed her more than anything else in this world.




He wanted to talk to her and tell her what happened but he couldn’t.  He couldn’t bring out a damned thing.  His tongue was tied, his throat thickened.  Not a single word.


And she knew straight away what went wrong. 


“Carr,” he groaned and the sound came from the back of his throat.


“John Carr?” she asked in disbelief. “That can’t be.”


“R - Robert.”


A silence occurred before his partner continued to ask her questions.


“Mulder, did he get to you?  Mulder?  Mulder!  Mulder, listen to me!  Tell me where you are. Are you hurt, Mulder?  I’m on my way.  Just tell me where you are.  Mulder!  Are you still there?  Listen to me, to my voice.  Mulder, say something.  Please, oh god, be alive.  Mulder, talk to me!”


He could hear her throat close at the sudden fear it might already be too late.  He groaned and wheezed and then heard a surge of relief coming from her.


“Mulder, oh thank god.  Mulder, listen to me.  You can push the buttons on your cell phone if you can’t speak.  If it hurts too much.  I need to know where you are.  One click for yes, two for no, okay?  Got that?  Are you at Robert’s house?”


His stiff fingers touched the buttons.  He pushed the eight twice as his fingers cramped over the cell phone.  He laid his head down and stared at the spotted ceiling.  The wooden beams should have been restored ages ago, he thought ludicrously.

This place was dead and cold.  Not a single soul should be forced to live in this dump.


Her voice continued to ask questions and he could tell she was on the move.  He could hear her exit the hotel, slamming the door to her room.  The sound pounded in his ears, yet seemed the most beautiful thing he’d ever heard.  Then she stepped inside the rental car, driving, even with him on the other side of the phone line.


He just needed to hold on now.  Just needed to stay awake.  Just ignore the aching that begged for him to pass out.  Nothing difficult about that.  He could do it.


“You are with Robert Carr?” The questioning continued.


One click.


“Are you hurt?”




“Were you shot?”




“Are you at John Carr’s house?”


Mulder’s mouth regained the ability to form words through the red haze of exhaustion after he took several deep breaths. “Cabin.”


“I’m on my way,” she sighed in relief, thankful he was able to say where he was.  She knew the cabin: they’d been there twice before.  “We’re getting you help, Mulder.  I swear!  I’ll be there in less than five minutes.  It’s not far.”


“Don’t –“ His voice came out rasping and soft but, she understood before he finished his words. “- leave.”


“I won’t desert you, I swear,” she spoke firmly.  “But I have to call for help first.  Do you understand that?  I’ll call you back.  I’ll stay with you on the phone until I get there, but right now I have to dial for help.  Okay?”


“Y – Yeah.”


“Stay alert, Mulder.  Stay with me. Stay awake.  I’ll call you back in two minutes, I promise.”


He pushed the off-button, clutching the phone as he curled into a ball, ignoring the screeching pain that gesture sent through him.


He was cold, so cold.  Sleep.  Death.  Dying.  Gone.


No, don’t sleep! Sleep. Don’t – sleep.


Don’t -


The cell phone rang, throwing him out of his stupor.  His finger automatically pushed the on-button. She was there.


“S – Scu –“


“It’s me.  Nearly there.  Help is on the way.  Hang on.  Promise me!”




Mulder grasped the cell phone, stretched his legs to get the blood flowing through them again. He pushed the metal object against his ear, listening to his partner’s ramblings as she made her way through the small town of Westford towards the cabin standing on the ledge before the mountain.


He knew she felt guilty.  He could tell by her panic-stricken voice that continued to hold him out of darkness.  She used her voice as the only weapon she had to protect him from the abyss.

At the same time on her end of the line, she could tell by her partner’s gasps and horrifyingly difficult breathing that he could have a punctured lung.  He sounded weak and unable to talk.  His banter was gone, his voice died away.  Words escaped him.


Finally she stopped her car before the cabin, standing in the Montana snow.  It had taken her five minutes or longer to get there, thrown off by rough ice patches that covered the slick roads.  It would take the paramedics even longer to reach them.  Time Mulder did not have.


A single car stood in front of the garage.  She knew Mulder would be wearing his jeans, sweater and T-shirt.  No coat.  He had most likely been taken off guard back at the hotel. He had gone downstairs to pay for their rooms and she had gone upstairs to the room to pack up. They had thought the case was over and had made an arrest.


He had been gone a mere twenty minutes before she suspected something was wrong and went to look for him, unable to find him inside the hotel.  Enough time to kill him, she thought wryly. 


“I’m here, Mulder,” she whispered in the cell phone. “Entering.”


She hung up.


Mulder smiled as he stared at the spotted ceiling and let the phone drop from his hand.  It fell on the floor.


She grasped her gun and carefully approached the cabin door, eager and hungry to kill Robert Carr, brother of their arrested suspect.  She did not know what to expect in there. She could only hope that Carr was already dead and was no longer a threat to them.


Mulder heard the door open.


Scully entered the cabin to find her partner lying on his side in stretched position on the floor, 
head turned towards the ceiling, arms forward, and hands on the ground.  A pool of blood lay underneath him.  
He was almost out of it; she could tell by his slow breathing and his feverish eyes that stared upwards.  
He didn’t even bother looking at her. 

His breathing became strained and difficult; his chest hardly moved.  His gun laid lay on the floor.  She spotted another gun in Carr’s hands. He was lying dead on the floor.  He had shot her partner in the chest.  She knew the bullet still had to be in there.  It was bad.


“Mulder.”  She dropped her own gun, fell to her knees and gently touched her partner’s right shoulder, turning him slowly on his back while avoiding the severe injury on his left shoulder and upper chest.  It didn’t take an expert to tell he had lost too much blood. She could only pray she was wrong about the punctured lung.


“It’s me,” she spoke with tears in her voice, unable to fight the urge to cry.


His eyes closed and then flew instantly open.  His mouth widened in a broad smile as he blinked his eyelids and stared at her.  “You’re here.”


In amazement she replied, “Yeah, I am.  I’ll take care of you now.”


He grinned gratefully.  “Sure you will.” 


Mulder felt instant relief that someone else could take over the task of taking care of him now.  He wanted to lose consciousness and sink into the painless deep.  But the first shock had worn off.  He was regaining every sense and every fibre within him that ached and hurt.


Scully knew he was snapping out of the initial shock and felt sorrow rush through her. She almost wished he was out of it again.  Now, lying on the cold tiles, waiting for help to arrive, he was vividly aware of the bullet inside of him and the damage it had caused.


The blood had soaked through his black sweater and ruined his jeans.  His hands and arms were covered with it. She needed to cut through the sweater to take a good look at the damage the bullet had done. He shivered.


“I’m cold,” he spoke through gritted teeth.


“I know.”


Her hand pulled on the sweater as she tried to take a look at was underneath it but his panting stopped her.




“Mulder, I need to take a look.”


“Can’t help me.  Stop bleeding.  Here.”  He touched the area underneath his collar bone.


She looked around for something to stop the bleeding with and spotted a set of kitchen towels lying on the counter.  She had noticed them during her first visit to the cabin.  She had believed then that John Carr often came here, even though their suspect had always denied this himself.  And since there was nothing else inside the cabin betraying his presence or possible murders taking place here, she had assumed the towels had lain there as a leftover of previous inhabitation.  She had never thought Robert Carr was their killer.  He had seemed so innocent.


She shook off the thoughts of guilt, grasped the towels and made a heap of them.  She moved back by her partner’s side.


“This is going to hurt,” she spoke, gently touching his face.


“I know.”


He closed his eyes as she put both hands over the towels and pushed them hard on the exact spot he had pointed out.  He winced and groaned the second she placed the pressure on his body.  She let go with one hand and grasped one of his.  He clawed into her grip and finally lost against his resistance to cry out in pain.  The cry came out of the depths of his throat and was so raw that it broke her heart.


His pain-stricken eyes opened and found her. “Let go,” he begged.


“I’m sorry. I can’t.”


He turned his head away from her and struggled to throw her off guard.


Her hard and firm grip would not let go.  She watched as beads of transpiration formed on his forehead.  He stopped protesting and returned to taking deep, wheezing breaths. She knew she could be causing further damage to his chest and shoulder but she had to take the lesser of two evils.  If he lost too much blood – as he had probably already done – he would not even make it through surgery.  His body would be too weak to repair the damage.


“Sorry,” she spoke, gently touching his face with one hand as he let go of her hand and allowed her to continue torturing him.


He looked into her eyes and concentrated on anything but the pain.  It was the only way to cope with reality right now: to pretend he was in another, better place.


“I’m sorry,” she repeated. “So sorry.”


“Save me,” he whispered.


“I will.”


“Glad you’re here.  Missed you.”


“I’m sorry,” she whispered. “I had no idea.”


“I’m sorry too.  I went with him.”


“What happened?”


“Showed up in the lobby.  Told me we were wrong all along.  He had done it all.  Taken another kid to prove it.  Had to go with him.  Said he would kill her.  Wanted me instead of her.  Angry.”


“Is she here?  The girl?”


“Dead.  Other room.  Dead when getting here.”  Mulder’s breathing became difficult but he was determined to tell her the whole story.


She stared at the door leading to the only bedroom the cabin had.  All this time they had gone after Carr’s brother, tracking him down and locking him up after he was accused of slaughtering three girls. She had been denying Mulder’s gut feeling that there was something missing about the story, but he was right.


“Went crazy.  Came in here.  Told me to kill him or be killed.  Let me keep gun.”


“The bastard got what he deserved.”  Scully smiled bravely, realizing her partner had gone voluntarily in the hope to save a young girl’s life.  It was a meaningless sacrifice.  At least Robert Carr was dead now.  “They’ll be here soon.”


“Takes long.  Roads slippery.”


“I know.  I’ve noticed.”  Scully leaned over her partner and tried to sooth him.  “Don’t talk.  You need your strength.  I have to go for a moment.”




“Just one moment. I need to take a look around for blankets.  You are freezing.  You need warmth.”


“Never warm again.”


“I’ll be right back.”  Scully hated leaving her partner on the cold floor but she knew she stood no chance in hell of moving him.  She needed to keep him warm with all the means she had, how futile it might seem.  She moved his hand on top of the pile of kitchen towels.  “Hold this as firmly as you can.”


She rushed into the bedroom and stopped in shock at the sight of a fifteen-year-old girl lying dead on the bed, on top of a few old blankets she had seen lying around before. She knew she could do nothing for the girl: her body was already cold.  She gently moved the stiff body to the side and pulled the blankets from underneath her.


She closed the door and knelt down by her partner who still held the towels. She placed one blanket over his legs and another one over his chest, leaving only the area open where he had been shot. He clenched his teeth, frozen to the core. The paleness of his skin and the blue rings underneath his eyes betrayed the anemia.


“I’m dying,” he said after she moved back into position and took over the pressure again.


She stared at him.  His voice came steadily and fast.  He was not delirious.  She could not tell what was going on inside of his body but it was as if he knew. 


“No,” she told him bravely.  “You are not dying.”


“I am.  Blood loss.  Tired.”


“No, Mulder.  Don’t talk like that.  You’ll be fine.  It’s just a bullet, you know.  You’ve had worse.  Much worse.”


“Bleeding empty.  Bullet hit rib.  Rib hit lung.  Difficulty breathing.  Difficulty staying awake.  Tired.  Weak.  Nothing else.”


She felt tears spring in her eyes as she listened to his self-diagnosis.  He knew too well what he was going through and she hated it . If he would just hold on.  Just suck up the strength she still had and breathe on that.


“You are not going to die.”


He smiled and his eyes found hers.  He coughed and wheezed.  Damn it, she thought. God, no. Don’t do this to him.


“What do you still want to do, Mulder?” she asked, shifting so that his head rested on her lap.  He concentrated on his breathing and she begged for help to arrive now.


Immediately.  “In your life.  If you have the chance, what do you want to see?  Or do? Discover?”


He closed his eyes.


“No, stay with me.  Open your eyes.”


He blinked.  “I want to see Disneyland.”


She laughed.


“Seriously.  Never saw it.”


“You’re kidding.”


“No.  Not a good American.”


“Okay,” she smiled. Disneyland.  What else?”


“Dutch windmills.  Ireland.  The Louvre.”


“Sounds good.  What more do you want?”


“Ask questions.”


“To whom?”




“Not today,” she whispered, fearful that he would give up. 

“You’re not going to be able to ask Him anything just yet.  He’ll have to wait.”


“Still curious,” Mulder mumbled tiredly.


“About what?”


“If there is life on Mars.”


She laughed.  “Is that your ultimate life’s question?”


“And knowing Elvis is alive.  And who shot JFK.”


She wanted to embrace him and hold him against her chest but her hand was still pressuring the blood soaked cloths on his chest and she had nothing else to do but sit back and wait for someone to come and save him.  His eyes closed.


“No.”  She shook him.  His eyelids fluttered open.  “Stay with me.  What else?”


“Nothing else.”  His voice died away and he turned his head to the side.  She shook him. He responded by groaning.  “Hurts.”


“I know.”  Tears filled her eyes.  “I wish I could take the pain.”


“I know.”  He laughed suddenly.  “I remember now.  Fantastic song.”


“What song?”


“Life on Mars.”


“I don’t know it.  Whose song is it?”


“David Bowie’s.”  
Mulder’s voice became a soft, gentle whisper as he thought of the words he knew by heart.  
He could hear the singer’s deep, warm voice in his mind.  
He had grown up with the song, taking it to heart when he became a vulnerable boy struggling 
to deal with the largest pain he would ever encounter in his life.  
She listened as his warm voice whispered the words that meant so much to him, 
holding him against her. 
“It’s a God awful small affair to the girl with the mousy hair.  
But her mummy is yelling “no”, 
and her daddy has told her to go.  
Her friend is nowhere to be seen.  
Now she walks through her sunken dream.” 
He almost choked on the words.  
And they died away as the sound of sirens cut through the foggy morning.  
His head turned to the side; his voice died away.  His eyes closed. 
The pain had finally won and she knew she could do nothing about it. 
“I’m here,” she whispered.  “I’m right here.  I won’t go.  I won’t leave you. 
Don’t you leave me now.
Her hand caressed his face and she held onto him tightly as the doors 
slammed open and a group of medics entered the room, followed by the police chief 
whom she had contacted after calling for help first.  They took over the lead and she watched, 
touched and vulnerable by her partner’s pain. 
They brought him to hospital and she sat by his side inside the ambulance. 
They cut through his clothes in the small ER and took X-Rays while she answered police questions. 
They fed him blood, placed a Foley catheter and inserted an IV while she stared through the glass. 
They found that one of his lungs was damaged by a cracked rib but not punctured, 
and that the bullet inside of him had caused enough problems to make him fear for his life. 
They moved him to the OR to remove the bullet and set the broken collar bone. 
She stayed by his side in the ICU where he needed to stay for at least twenty-four hours.
The monitors finally rocked her to sleep after a long, tiresome morning, afternoon and finally evening. 
She had not eaten, not rested and not relaxed.  
She read about David Bowie and tears entered her eyes when she learned the lyrics by heart. 
She dozed off with his hand in hers, and his face turned towards her.  Closed eyes.  
She knew he could not hear her or talk to her, but the fact she was there meant enough to sooth him, 
even in his sleep.  
She knew that.  It always soothed her too. 
In the morning, as he was moved from the ICU to a semi-private room, she sat by his side again, 
held his hand and waited for first signs of waking up. 
Then she hummed, “Take a look at the lawman, 
beating up the wrong guy. 
Oh man, wonder if he’ll ever know. 
He’s in the best selling show.” 
From the bed came the hoarse response. “Is there life on Mars?” 
She smiled, stood up and looked into his fever-free eyes.  
“You’re going to have to wait a while longer to find that out.”