text file (5k)

Mulder wakes in the hospital
to find that he has a roommate.

SPOILER: missing scene for Brand X
DISCLAIMER: Not mine; the X-Files belong to CC, FOX, etc.

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Even the dim light was uncomfortable to Mulder's unadjusted eyes. Slowly blinking his lids, he let his eyes grow accustomed in stages. As his world gradually came into focus, he recognized the sterile whites and pastels of hospital decor. His sleep-drugged mind, still a step behind his vision, struggled to recall what he was doing there. But the tightness in his chest soon reminded him--the tobacco beetles.

Glancing up at the wall across from him, he saw the television broadcasting what looked to be the local news, but without the accompanying sound. The adjacent clock read 11:07, and the apparent lack of daylight suggested that was p.m. Carefully testing out his mobility beneath the mass of tubes and wires that ensnared him, he pivoted his head to the left to find Scully sitting in the chair next to his bed. Her head was tilted back in sleep, a position that made his neck ache sympathetically. He reached his hand out and gently brushed her arm, but even that soft touch jolted her from sleep.

"Mulder, you're awake."

"Yeah. You weren't." He was dismayed at the raspy whisper that emerged from his own mouth. It wasn't as painful as he expected, although it sounded like it should be. Swallowing to moisten his throat, he made another attempt at coherent speech. "You planning on spending the night there?"

A small smile played at Scully's lips as she stretched the kinks from her muscles. "I've hardly left the hospital since we brought you in a week ago. I've gotten used to sleeping in this chair."

Mulder frowned at her. "I've been here for a week?"

"Yeah. You've been unconscious for most of that time, which is probably for the best considering what you've been through. We found a way to kill the remaining larvae in your lungs, but it wasn't very pleasant. We've been pumping nicotine into your body, and it's been very effective."

So *that* was the stale flavor on his tongue. "No wonder my mouth tastes like I just ate a pack of Morleys."

His partner offered a sympathetic smile. "Sorry about that. I'm afraid it's going to be one of the side effects for a while. After we're sure we've eradicated the infestation from your body, we're going to have to put you through detox to break the addiction we've created."

"Sounds like fun. Maybe I should go back to sleep until you're finished."

Extending a hesitant hand, Scully softly stroked his face. "The rest will do you good, Mulder. It'll help your body heal."

"What about you? You sleeping in that chair again tonight?"

With a sigh, she let her hand drop and sat back in the chair. "I might as well. Skinner doesn't know it, but I checked out of my hotel room after he went back to Washington. I wasn't using it, so I didn't see the point in keeping it. The doctors here have been letting me use their showers. They offered me an empty bed in a room down the hall, but I end up sleeping here most of the time."

Without a word, Mulder turned back his sheets and gestured for her to come join him. Scully opened her mouth to object, but something stopped her. After a moment of contemplation, she rose and made her way to the door. Locking it, she turned off the light switch and then reached for the curtain that encircled the bed, cocooning the two of them in privacy. He watched in the lingering glow from the television as she took off her shoes and then lowered the metal railing on the side of the bed. Amidst the tubes and wires, most of which he couldn't identify their purpose, he moved over what little he could to make room. With one more moment of hesitation, Scully made her decision and climbed into the bed next to him, pulling the thin blanket up to cover them both. Before settling in, she reached over for the remote and extinguished the TV. Placing her head on his chest and carefully avoiding his IV and the wires monitoring his heartbeat, she curled up next to him on her side.

"Is this part of my therapy?"

"Shh, Mulder. Don't talk anymore. Doctor's orders."

*Yes ma'am. I'll take your orders anytime.* Mulder would have said it aloud, if it hadn't been a direct violation of what she'd just told him.

Scully looked up at her partner in surprise, trying to make out his features in the dim light of the room. It wasn't like him to be so compliant instead of getting in the last word with some wise ass comment. Apparently feeling a lack in the silence, she filled the void with a response of her own. "I do have to admit, this is more comfortable than that chair." Then she added, her voice dropped to an intimate whisper, "I missed you."

Donning a silent smile, Mulder closed his eyes and leaned his head down to rest on hers. For the first night that week, both slept a restful, peaceful sleep.

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Notes: Just a little piece of missing scene fluff.

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