First Things First

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Summary: In his own mind, Mulder had vowed, for better or for worse, to always be there for Scully. This definitely qualified as “worse”.
Rating: A little mud, a bit of blood.

Title: First Things First
Author: Shelba
Email: Kits1013(AT)

Spoilers: None. An M&S on the run fic.
Disclaimer: Not mine.
Category: Vignette. Scully!Jeopardy, Challenge Fic. A response to the BTT Brevity challenge. Comments and Caroline’s Challenge elements at the end.
Keywords: Mulder, Scully, implied MSR, angst
Rating: A little mud, a bit of blood.
Archive: Ephemeral, Gossamer, Spooky’s.
Feedback: Makes my Muse all warm and tingly.

Summary: In his own mind, Mulder had vowed, for better or for worse, to always be there for Scully. This definitely qualified as “worse”.

Raynard Drive
Outskirts of Baltimore Maryland
October, 2002

A black Mercedes bore down on him, spitting gunfire. Slugs chewed the grass around his feet as he dodged into the bushes along the street. A crushing force spun him around, and another tried to jerk his head off his shoulders. Fox Mulder faded into oblivion, thinking that what soldiers say is true: you never hear the shot that takes you down.

He awoke, rain stinging the new part in his hair. Rain spattered his face and trickled under his collar, raising goose flesh down his back and limbs. Cold water mingled with the blood flowing down his cheek and stung his eyes. He tried to wipe the blood away, but couldn’t lift his arm high enough to reach. He was pretty sure the bullet had gone through his outer arm. Mulder didn’t think he was in danger of bleeding to death any time soon, so he did the only thing he could under the circumstances. He tucked his hand into his waistband to stabilize the arm, then ignored it. He had more important things on his mind.


Mulder’s wounds throbbed with every step. He stumbled on, following the route of the black sedan and the blue car it had been chasing. Right before his stint as an arcade target, the small car had roared past, its red-haired driver bent over the wheel. Scully. He wondered if she had seen him fall.

Ahead of him, sirens shrieked and an ambulance tore around a corner. Emergency vehicles buzzed around 1121 Raynard Drive like bees around a hive. He thanked his lucky stars that no emergency personnel had spotted him lying in the brush, or he wouldn’t be free to look for Scully.

Shivering with cold, shaky from pain, he surveyed the scene.

A team of poncho-clad officers wrestled black and yellow crime scene tape that dipped and swayed from the wind and the slap of cold rain. A baby doll in a tattered pink nightie lay sprawled in the muddied grass and deep gouges defaced an otherwise smoothly manicured lawn. A grapevine wreath lay in wet grass, its flowers soiled and drooping.

Bullet casings and glass nuggets sparkled on wet grass and ruined carpet, like gemstones on velvet. Crimson and blue lights from a black and white Police cruiser’s bubble gum machine made the scene appear bruised and bleeding. Over the sirens and voices of emergency personnel an infant’s cries sounded thin and broken.

Broken siding stuck out like jagged teeth around a gaping hole in the wall of the house. Steam from the ruined front end of a car flowed out the hole and dissipated in wet, heavy air. The back end of the small blue car hung out of the opening, bullet holes dotting the trunk. The overall effect was that of a huge mouth mauling a car.


This was his fault. If they hadn’t argued, they would have been together. He wouldn’t have been out running; she wouldn’t have been alone and distracted. He wouldn’t have returned to the motel to find their car gone, the door swinging on one hinge, wouldn’t have found traces of blood and strands of red hair on the bathroom window’s narrow ledge.

He imagined the scene: Men In Black trying to get in; Scully, alone and doing what she could to protect herself from superior numbers and fire power. In his mind’s eye, he watched her grab the keys and gun, then slide out the small bathroom window, scraping her delicate skin in the process, then fleeing in their small car. They had chosen the car for its unremarkable appearance, not for speed.

His heart broke as he thought of how frightened Scully must have been as she ran for her life, alone, not knowing if she would make it. Had she thought that Mulder had already been found? When he left, full of hurt pride and wounded feelings, had he inadvertently led them to her?

It was a bizarre turn of fortune that had him searching for her along the very route she had chosen as she fled. Mulder had seen the car swerve as the driver spotted him, could almost feel the shooter’s shocked recognition right before the slugs started to fly. He hoped Scully wouldn’t blame herself, that she wouldn’t think she had led the hunters to him.

Thank God all his luck hadn’t been bad. Only luck kept his gunshot wounds from being fatal, luck that he rolled out of sight after he fell. It was luck that brought the unexpected appearance of two black and white cruisers, sirens screaming as they roared past, that stopped his assailants from coming back to finish the job.


Mulder ducked down and crept as close to the house as he dared. An ambulance provided some shelter from the rain and shielded him from the view of those inside. He could heard bits and pieces as a paramedic reported one dead victim to base and began firing off treatment orders to the other paramedics on scene. A woman had bullet wounds; another was injured when the car crashed through the wall of the house. The dead victim, described only as an adult female, had already been placed in a body bag.

He had to find out if Scully was inside being treated, or if she was in one of the police cruisers, on her way to the station. That, God forbid, would land her back in Cancer Man’s hands.

Mulder didn’t want to think about the black body bag that loomed large in his mind. He had to look, though he believed he would somehow know if she were no longer among the living.

He slipped around the ambulance and made his way to where the black bag lay strapped to a gurney. Mulder squared his shoulders and took a deep breath. Heart in his throat, hands shaking, his numb fingers grasped the tab and pulled the zipper down.

In his own mind, Mulder had vowed, for better or for worse, to always be there for Scully. This definitely qualified as “worse”. The hair was red.

Mulder bit his lip and tasted copper and ash. His heart screamed for him to stop, to not look. If Scully were in that bag and he didn’t look, it wasn’t real. But he had to know, so he closed his eyes and pulled the zipper down farther. He opened his eyes.

He zipped the bag shut and sagged against the side of the ambulance.

The woman inside the bag had been lovely. She was cut down years before her time; she would have had years to laugh, to love and be loved. He hoped the young woman wasn’t the mother of the child whose cries still punctured the air. Mulder was sick with guilt and relief. How could he reconcile these feelings? A young woman was dead. He grieved for her and for her family’s loss, but even as his heart bled for the unknown woman, the broken bits of it leapt back together, for his own heart, his Scully, wasn’t in the bag.


Being teamed with Scully had taught Mulder a lot about first aid. Being an FBI agent had taught him a lot about wounds. He knew how it felt when a bullet was lodged in his body and how it felt when one had passed through. He counted himself lucky – he couldn’t deal with a bullet that was still in him. A flesh wound, one that wouldn’t make him bleed out, was no problem.

First things first. He grabbed an unattended bag of supplies from an ambulance and faded away into an alley. After he found shelter, he’d patch himself up. Then, he would start hunting.

Blood, bullets, and MIBs be damned, he had a G-Woman to find.


In October of 2003, there was a series of Brevity Challenges on BTT, with elements proposed by different members. This is my response, using Caroline’s elements.

The elements for the challenge were:
a broken heart
a child’s toy
bullet casings

I found this while fishing around in my completed stories file and realized that I had never had it betaed nor had I ever posted it anywhere except to the BTT list. Thanks to Char, for creating
the BTT List, to Caroline for the interesting elements and last, but certainly not least, thank you to Sallie, first for her friendship, and secondly for her lightning-fast beta. Any errors are mine, a result of my tinkering after it left Miz Sallie’s care and watchful eyes. I hope you enjoyed the story. I’d love to hear from you.

Story written in October, 2003; revised and posted October 8, 2005
When Ephemeral didn’t pick it up, it was tinkered with and posted to xfc-atxc on Muldermas, 2005.