Curb, The

by Pattie

Title: The Curb

Author: Pattie

Rated: PG

Spoilers/Timeline: Somewhere in Season 7.

Category: M Angst, Story. Companion piece to "Satin and Lace".

Summary: The FBI Awards Ball is coming up again. Will they or won't they trip the light fantastic? We shall see...

Archive: Gossamer, any other nice home. Please ask.

Feedback: Suggestions, requests, tips--all worthwhile!

Disclaimer: Mulder, Scully and The X-Files are property of Chris Carter, Ten Thirteen and Fox Studios. I am getting no money for this and I intend no copyright infringement.

Author's Note: Written for the August Mulder's Refuge Golden Gurney Challenge: Put Your Best Foot Forward.

J. Edgar Hoover Building,
Washington, DC
X-Files Office
9:15 am

Mulder was already at his desk sipping rapidly cooling Starbuck's coffee and going through the smattering of papers on his desk, when Scully came scurrying in, hanging her coat and putting her purse away.

"Sorry I'm late, Mulder. There was a fire a block away from my apartment and it was hell getting out of there, so I told them I was on my way to get a suspect and they finally let me through... Anything new for us?"

Mulder took delight in the way she could pour out so many words so quickly without stuttering or missing a beat. His smile gave that away. "Well, other than these rough draft case notes and the summary on that Sexual Perp. Seminar, we haven't received any call from upstairs. I was just about to check the In Box."

"I'll do it," Scully offered. "My atonement for tardiness." She grabbed the few pieces of correspondence and leafed through them as Mulder put his signature to a document.

"Invitation to a party from Harvey Adams, Accounting Report says we went overboard, as usual, Most Wanted Poster Updates coming out tomorrow, and an invitation to the Annual Commendations Awards and Ball."

Mulder leaned back in his seat and frowned. "Not Surveillance again, Scully?" Let me see it.

Without saying a word and desperately trying not to snicker, she handed her partner the memo. "Tuxedos and formal wear required... that's all, basically. We're not looking for suspicious looking, well-dressed former agents this time. Well, I think I can find something to do that day. How about you, Scully?"

"Oh, I don't know, Mulder. I think it might be fun!"

"Listening to boring introductions and speeches, eating under-done baked-potatoes and soggy carrots really makes my evening, Scully. C'mon, even YOU have better things to do."

Scully thought a bit on those words of Mulder's. "Yeah, maybe. Maybe not. You're the one who's always saying I should live a little. This is for fun, and even though I did get a sick headache last year, I see no reason not to go. So, I'll go and you can stay home watching those riveting videos and feeding your fish, and going jogging. I think I might like to get another formal dress and live it up. There's only one snag..."

"You don't have a date," Mulder droned. "I know Frohike would be honored to escort you, but I don't think he really belongs there, do you?"

"Well, no, Mulder. But I know how you always try to avoid those things," she teased. I'll ask..."

"Ahem... May I have the honor of escorting you to the ball, Agent Scully?" Mulder stuck out his chest and put on his most serious expression. No answer. "Please?"

"Well, I don't know. Are you asking me out of the desire to go, or the necessity to spare me an embarrassing evening?" she half-giggled.

"In a way, you asked me, Agent Scully."

"I'll, oh. Do I have anything planned that night? Guess not. Let's go to the ball."

Mulder wanted to jump for joy, but he was still quite closed about showing that kind of enthusiasm. Things had been rather depressing for him, with his mother's death and the pressures of the latest workload. "I'd be delighted. Guess that means I'll rent a tux, then."

"Well, you do look good in a tux, Mulder. You've got two weeks to get ready. Now, let's get to this returned requisition form..."

Five Days Later, Monday
Mulder's Apartment
6:30 a.m.

Mulder stretched his arm across the bed to turn the offending noisemaker off. Groggily, he put his feet on the floor and the rest of his body followed to begin the morning ritual. His feet had trod the same path every morning for years. Today was the day that was about to change. Mulder was on his way to the shower and yelled in agony, "Argh! Damn!" His left foot had met with a nail which had been sticking up out of the floor, likely for years, Blood began to flow from the injury immediately. Mulder found a wet washcloth, applied pressure to the wound and dialed the phone by his bed.

Scully had just gotten out of the shower when her phone rang. "Scully."

"Scully, I'm going to be a little late today... uh, I.. well, i t was stupid... "

Scully counted to three and remained calm. "Well, what's happened, Mulder?"

"I stepped on a nail. My foot's still bleeding. I'm going to need stitches, I think. I'm going to the hospital."

"All right, Mulder. Just stay there and I'll be over soon. Clean the wound and apply pressure. Try to keep it elevated." She hung up and went to get dressed.

Mulder had managed to dress himself by the time Scully used her key to enter his apartment.

"Let's take a look at it." Scully knelt beside his couch and examined the puncture wound. "You're right. It is going to need stitches. Looks like that nail went for a two inch ride across the ball of your foot."

"Yeah, it was a swell ride."

Scully stood and grabbed Mulder's overcoat. "We'll get that stitched up. You'll need a tetanus shot, probably. Let's go. And you're not getting out of the Awards Ball."

"Did I say I didn't want to go?"

Mulder was told by the ER doctor, Scully and Kersh to take a few days off, but then when did he ever do what he was told right to the letter? He went straight to the office against the doctor's instructions, but did manage to keep his foot raised and was given crutches to keep pressure off of the foot.

The fifth day after the nail attack, the wound had healed considerably. There had been no out of town cases, so his workload was not heavy. He and Scully had managed to survive the days in the basement.

"Don't forget the tux," Scully reminded him as she left the office. "The dinner and dance is two days away."

Mulder was getting ready to go, and shut off the monitor on his desk. "Done. See? I really want to go to the thing, Scully."

"See you tomorrow, partner." Scully exited the office rather doubtful that Mulder wanted to attend the affair.

That evening, Mulder decided that his foot had healed so well he was ready to go for a run. What he hadn't counted on was the wind and the rain, but he thought it best that he go running. It hardly hurt at all when he put some weight on it.

To his surprise, it was a good run. It was best that he keep in shape, he told himself. Besides, it took the edge off of his workday. He could almost forget his life-long search for the truths that had been hidden so long. Almost forget the voice he once heard, saying Samantha would be returned safe some day. The one that was drowned out by the fourteen-year-old Samantha he held and said good-bye to among the children of the light.

"Shake it," he told himself. "I'm free. I am... SH$&!!!"

He was three blocks from home when he slipped on a glossy, very wet and slippery flyer for a department store. "Hell!"

There was a searing pain in his right leg. "Somebody! Call 9-1-1!"

A young man and his date were walking out of a variety store, and the girl quickly went back to use the phone, as her boyfriend stayed on the sidewalk with Mulder.

Scully hurried through the hospital corridor in time to see Mulder being issued a pair of crutches. "Mulder? What happened? I just got a call saying you were... a broken leg. How bad is it?"

"Uh, I'm fine, thank you. I'll, uh, I'll be in the cast for a couple of weeks."

"Were you chasing someone? You got a tip about some alien again, am I right?" Her exasperation was quite visible.

"What were you doing?"

"I was jogging. I slipped off of the curb and broke a bone. Desk work for a while."

"So, you won't be going to the ball, obviously." She sat on a stool beside his bed. "Well, to tell you the truth, I really didn't even buy a dress, yet."

"The blue satin one with the lace neckline would be fine, Scully. You can still go. I, uh, didn't get the tux yet." His best sheepish look didn't faze his partner.

"Nah. Those things are so boring, Mulder. Besides, it's only a few days away."

A nurse came into the cubicle and handed Mulder a packet. "Dr. Carruthers prescribed these pain pills for you," she informed Mulder cheerfully. "Two tablets three times a day, keep the foot elevated as much as possible. You're free to go. Your wife can take you home now, Mr. Mulder."

They both replied in unison, "We're not... "

The nurse just smiled. She handed Mulder his coat. "You should be. Your frequent flyer points are hitting a record high here." She turned and walked away, shaking her head and smiling.

"Atilla the Hun reincarnated," Mulder mumbled.

"Okay, let's get you back to your place. Maybe there's a good movie on. Maybe an M.G.M. musical with lots of dancing."

"Yeah. Look, Ginger Rogers, just get me outta here and I'll be all right."

"I'll have to explain this to Kersh. We were scheduled to go to Greensboro on Thursday. So, you didn't need to do this to get out of the Awards Ball."

Mulder just winced as he ambled toward the outer doors of Emergency. "I didn't plan it, Scully... really... "

Scully was ten feet ahead of him. "Sure you didn't", she quipped.

Of course, that statement didn't hurt as much as the full-frontal trip on the threshold... Well, at least he was close to quick medical care.


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