The Mountain Man by aka "Jake"

Chapter 12

 

What was keeping Bill? Maggie chewed her lip as she darned socks for her husband. He had stormed out of the house more than two hours ago, shouting something about Fox Mulder being in the infirmary with Dana. Lieutenant Skinner left Bill’s study soon after, without stopping to say so much as good day. Then, thirty minutes later, a pimply private showed up at the front door asking Millie to bring a change of clothes to Dana.

Maggie hated being kept in the dark. She pushed her needle through the weave, taking care not to skip any rows and spoil the repair.

Millie returned from the infirmary with a blood-stained dress and the disturbing news that Dana had spent the entire night tending to Fox Mulder, who had been injured in an Indian attack. Ordinarily, Maggie was not one to entertain uncharitable thoughts, especially about someone lying unconscious in a hospital bed, but the idea of that troublemaker being anywhere near her daughter made her blood boil.

He was a distraction. Maggie’s yarn tangled, creating a knot in the middle of her repair. A *dangerous* distraction. She yanked on the knot to free it. The yarn slipped from the eye of her needle.

“Oh, for pity’s sake!” She looked heavenward for guidance.

Dana seemed bent on ignoring the wisdom of her faith. Church every Sunday. Bible readings each night. Grace and prayers, baptism, First Holy Communion, Confirmation. All a wasted effort apparently. Dana risked her immortal soul, as well as her reputation, by spending time alone with the likes of Fox Mulder.

How had Bill Jr. put it? “Crazy Fox regularly raids Kicking Horse's chicken coop.” Maggie understood what that meant. The man was a shameless philanderer.

Dana's impetuousness is my fault, she thought dismally as she untangled the knot and rethreaded her needle. After all, Bill had tried his best.

"Consistency, strict rules, and hard work. These make good soldiers," he had said whenever the children were disobedient, which thankfully was not often.

"Our daughters aren't soldiers, dear," Maggie had argued in their defense. "They're little girls."

Now she wished she had listened to Bill. To think she had persuaded him to let Dana go off to medical school when she could scarcely fry an egg or tat a collar. What practical use was a college education to a woman? It would not help her secure a husband or keep a home.

Maybe it was not too late to save her. A stern lecture from Reverend McGill might turn her around. Maggie would invite him to dinner after Sunday services.

Satisfied with her plan, she laid down several more neat and precise rows until the hole was mended. She turned the sock right side out. The patch was barely discernable.

Millie appeared in the doorway of the sitting room.

“Are Dana’s clothes soaking?” Maggie asked the housemaid. “It’ll be a miracle if those stains come out.”

“Yes, ma’am.” Millie crossed the room and held out a small wooden box, its lid carved with two doves. “I found this in Miss Dana’s pocket and thought you would want to see it right away.”

Maggie set her needle and yarn aside and took the box from Millie’s outstretched hand. “What is this?”

“I think you should see for yourself, ma’am.”

Maggie opened the lid. “Oh!”

A ring! A lovely pearl and sapphire ring.

So the lieutenant had proposed at last. And Dana had clearly accepted. She must have slipped the ring into her pocket to keep it clean while performing her doctor duties last night.

“Do you know what this means, Millie?” Maggie smiled up at the maid.

“Not really, ma’am.”

“We’ve got a wedding to plan! Isn’t that wonderful?”

“Yes’m. If you say so.”

“We’ll start with the guest list...then the invitations...oh, and a menu. I need paper and pen!”

“Right away.” Millie moved toward the door.

“No, wait!” Maggie stopped her. “I’ll get them myself. You unpack my wedding dress from the trunk in the attic. It’ll need airing and pressing.”

“Yes’m.”

She would engage Mrs. Etherage to oversee the fitting and make any alterations. That woman worked magic with needle and thread.

Tears of happiness filled Maggie’s eyes at the thought of Dana wearing her gown, walking down the aisle on her father’s arm, the lieutenant waiting at the altar to collect his young bride. Everything was going to be fine after all. Maggie had been worrying for nothing. Her baby girl was getting married!

She closed the tiny box and stood. “I’ll be out for a while, Millie.” The guest list, invitations, and menu could wait another hour or so.

“Will you be needin’ a buggy, ma’am?”

“No, thank you. I’m just going to the infirmary. I want to congratulate the happy bride-to-be and return her ring. I’m sure she must be missing it.”

*     *     *

Dana emerged from her back office to find Mr. Mulder’s bed empty. Panic shot through her. She had been gone for only a few minutes. Was it possible Cap had changed his mind and evicted Mr. Mulder in the short time it had taken her to update the patient logbook?

“Where did he go?” she asked Sergeant Phillips, who was lying in bed looking at the illustrated plates in “The Pathfinder.”

Without taking his eyes from the book, he hooked a thumb at the front door. “Headed that way.”

The door was wide open. Outside, a corporal strolled down the thoroughfare with a pair of horses in tow. Beyond him, soldiers practiced marching drills on the parade ground. A shopkeeper swept the front porch of the supply store on the far side of the green.

Mr. Mulder was nowhere in sight.

Dana limped across the ward and out the door, hurrying as fast as she could on her injured ankle. Just outside, she nearly ran into her wayward patient leaning against the side of the building, naked except for...

“Is that my doctor’s smock?”

He had knotted the sleeves loosely around his waist. His left hip remained exposed.

“It was all I could find,” he said.

“You shouldn’t be out here.” She took hold of his arm and tried to haul him back inside.

He resisted. “My bladder disagrees. Care to point me in the direction of the nearest privy?”

“There’s a chamber pot beside your bed.”

“And an audience.”

“You don’t strike me as the shy type.” She gestured toward the gaping smock.

“And you haven’t seen the way Sergeant Phillips gazes at me.”

It was a joke presumably. Mr. Mulder had an odd sense of humor, she was learning.

An officer on the mall barked orders at the troops. Two elderly women emerged from the supply store, arms loaded with dry goods.

“Come back inside, please.”

“Not until I’ve visited the outhouse.”

He was very pale and looked like he might fall over at any moment. Blood seeped through the dressing on his lower leg.

“It’s too far,” she argued.

“How far can it be?”

“All the way around back.”

“Then I’ll need your assistance getting there.” He slung a heavy arm across her shoulders and leaned into her.

“Are you always so obstinate, Mr. Mulder?”

“‘Persistent’ has a better ring to it, don’t you think?”

He tried to propel her forward. When she stood firm, he let his arm drop from her shoulder and took two staggering steps on his own.

She moved to block his path. “Mr. Mulder--”

“I could go right here.” He turned on quaking legs to face the building.

“That won’t be necessary.” She snaked an arm around his waist to steady him. “Come this way.”

A fine pair they made, limping around the building together, neither in any shape to walk far. The smock around his waist flapped in the mid-morning breeze, each gust threatening to expose him. Out of politeness, she averted her gaze.

“Who’s being shy now?” He chuckled.

She bristled at his assumption that she was embarrassed by his nudity. “Do you imagine I graduated from medical school without ever having seen a naked man?”

“Did you?”

“I saw plenty.” Most had been cadavers, but what difference did that make? “It was practically a daily occurrence.”

“As often as that? You must be bored to tears with them by now.”

“Indifferent would be a more accurate term. In my experience, the human--” She could not say “penis” in front of a man. She settled on the term her professors had used in medical school. “The male organs of generation are all very much alike, Mr. Mulder. In fact, after seeing one or two, you could say you’ve seen them all.”

It was a lie, of course, intended to wipe the smirk off his face. In truth, there seemed to be considerable physical variation from one man to the next. Not that she had conducted a thorough study.

Naturally, she had seen Mr. Mulder’s penis during his surgery, while he was stripped naked on her operating table. She had not stared at it, or even thought much about it, being distracted by other more urgent matters. However, now that she *was* thinking about it, it had seemed generously proportioned. Bigger than most of the cadavers she had seen in medical school.

“Are you blushing, Miss Scully?”

She silently cursed her Irish ancestry and pale complexion. “It’s *Doctor* Scully, if you don’t mind. And I’m flushed from exertion, not embarrassment. You are no small man, Mr. Mulder.”

“You would know, being an expert.” Delight lit his eyes.

“I was referring to your stature, not your...your...”

“Organ of generation?”

She decided to ignore his teasing. He clearly enjoyed provoking her and she refused to encourage him further.

Miraculously, they made it to the outhouse without tripping or falling down...or engaging in any additional conversation about the size of Mr. Mulder’s genitalia.

“Can you manage on your own from here?” she asked, opening the door for him.

“I’ll yell if I need help.”

He hobbled inside and closed the door behind him. She stepped away.

A few minutes later, he emerged looking as if he might faint. She rushed to his side to prop him up once again.

“Everything all right?” She fitted herself beneath his arm, shouldering his weight.

He clung to her and inhaled sharply. Was he trying to catch his breath or was he...?

“Mm, you smell good.”

He was sniffing her!

She peered up at him, eyebrow raised. “Time to head back, Mr. Mulder. I want to get you into bed as soon as possible.”

“With Sergeant Phillips watching?” he asked in mock horror.

She refused to let him bait her. “That's right; you don’t like having an audience.”

He smiled, clearly pleased by her response, and she realized then that he had not been poking fun at her earlier, or trying to shock her; he merely enjoyed verbal sparring. In his own way, he was treating her as an equal.

She found it quite refreshing. He was one of the few men she had ever met who did not patronize her.

They teetered back toward the infirmary, taking small, if not steady, steps.

At the halfway point, he paused to ask, “Why am I still here?”

“We could try walking faster.”

“No, not here *here*, but here in the fort? Why hasn’t your father tossed me out on my...uh...backside? I was under the impression he hated me.”

Cap did hate him and he was here only because of the false promise she had made to her father.

Regret swept through her at the memory of her argument with Cap. It pained her to be at odds with him, to deceive him the way she had, when in fact, she wanted only to please him. Make him proud of her. But it seemed no matter how hard she tried, he found her lacking. She was a disappointment, like Melissa. He loved them both, she was certain. He wanted their lives to be easy and happy. But he did not trust them to make their own decisions.

Melissa took his disapproval in stride. Always had. She made no apologies, no concessions for her often scandalous behavior. But Dana was unable to shrug off her father’s judgment so easily. She could not turn her back on him. Not even when he made her doubt her own choices.

Of course, she could tell none of this to Mr. Mulder. He was not her confidante. In fact, they barely knew one another.

Cap claimed Fox Mulder was dangerous, a threat to her and to the men of Fort Culbertson. The former was totally unfounded. Mr. Mulder had saved her life. He would not harm her, she was convinced of it. As for conspiring against the U.S. Army, both Cap and Bill Jr. insisted it was true. Even Walter had said Mulder supplied weapons to the Indians because he thought white men did not belong this far west. It seemed a feeble reason to turn against one’s country. But whatever his motives, Mr. Mulder’s loyalties clearly lay with the Indians instead of his own race, and she wanted to know why.

“My father dislikes what you do, Mr. Mulder.”

“Treating Indians like human beings?”

She lowered her voice to a whisper, although no one was within earshot. “Supplying aid to the hostiles makes you a traitor.”

“The Blackfoot are a peace-loving people, Dr. Scully. More so than the soldiers out there on the green.”

“You can’t believe that. Not after they attacked you.”

“The Cree attacked me, not the Blackfoot. There is a difference.”

“Bill says all Indians are thieves and cold-blooded murderers.”

“Bill Scully is blinded by bigotry.”

“Mr. Mulder, you are talking about my brother!”

Mulder shrugged. “Sorry.”

She was unsure if he was apologizing for the insult or because she was related to an alleged bigot.

“Indians do murder whites. It’s a well documented fact,” she said.

“They kill to defend their families, their land, their way of life. We do the same thing, or didn’t you hear about that little scuffle south of the Mason Dixon Line?”

“That’s not the same thing.”

“It’s not?”

He was breathing hard. Sweat glistened on his face and chest. He could barely put one foot in front of the other. Blood dribbled down his leg from the wound on his thigh.

She had not intended to start an argument. She only wanted to understand his point of view. It had been irresponsible of her to bring up such a volatile subject given his condition. The discussion would have to wait until he was more fully recovered. Right now, she needed to get him back to the ward.

“Can you make it the rest of the way?” she asked.

Brow knotted, jaw set, he gave a nod.

They struggled around the building. He clutched her tightly and she feared she might collapse beneath his weight. It was only with considerable effort, and significant relief, that she steered him into the ward at last.

Phillips greeted them with a wide grin. “Int’restin’ nether garment you got there, Mr. Mulder.”

“Very popular back east, Sergeant Phillips,” Mulder said through gritted teeth. He leaned close to Dana’s ear and rasped, “Told you he had his eye on me.”

She was impressed he was able to joke when in such obvious pain.

“I’ll bring you a nightshirt,” she promised, helping him into bed. “Will you be all right while I fetch fresh water and clean bandages for your wounds?”

He nodded tiredly. Digging beneath his blankets, he retrieved her smock and handed it to her.

The garment held the heat of his body and warmed her palms. Folding it, she tried not to imagine it caressing his bare skin.

His organ of generation.

“Tackle him if he tries to leave again, Sergeant Phillips,” she called over her shoulder as she headed to the surgery for supplies.

*     *     *

Skinner tied his horse and Mulder’s pinto to the rail of his porch. Looking up at the house, he imagined bringing Dana here on their wedding night. At the threshold, he would lift her into his arms. The train of her gown would hang to the floor; it would brush the stairs as he carried her up to the front bedroom. There, he would set her on her feet and, even though she would be wearing heeled shoes, she would barely come up to his chin. He would then sit to watch her undress. Or he would remain standing and help her, if she let him. When she was finally, completely undressed, he would lead her to their bed. A wide bed with a feather mattress and a white canopy. They would lie there together while he kissed her lips and caressed her soft, pale skin. When she was ready, he would make love to her, gently, so as not to hurt her too much her first time.

Would she be shy with him? Or would passion overtake her as it had the evening they kissed on the dock?

Either way, they would grow comfortable with one another soon enough. Love would blossom. And, God willing, they would be blessed with children.

But he was getting ahead of himself. First he must convince her to accept his proposal.

He hefted a bulging haversack from behind his saddle and carried it inside. Taking the stairs two at a time, he hurried to the empty, front bedroom. He dropped the bag on the hearth, causing a swirl of pine-scented sawdust to billow up around it. Kneeling beside the fireplace, he reached up into the chimney and dislodged the weapons he had stowed there earlier: two rifles, four pistols, and several boxes of ammunition, all wrapped in a blanket and tied up with rope.

He shrugged out of his frockcoat and vest, and tossed them aside. His cravat, sash, and shirt soon followed. Upending the haversack, he dumped its contents onto the floor. Out fell a fringed tunic made of deer hide, matching trousers, a pair of well-worn moccasins, and a beaver-skin hat. It was the sort of outfit a trapper would wear. A mountain man like Fox Mulder.

Sitting back, he yanked off his boots. Then rose to strip off his pants. Quickly, he donned the buckskins and moccasins.

The clothes felt strange on him. Freer than his uniform. He was confident no one would recognize him dressed this way, especially if he stuck to the shadowed trails of the mountain forest. And if anyone did take notice and spot him, it was likely they would mistake him for one of the dozens of hunters who trapped the hills around Flatwillow.

He fitted the beaver hat to his head, then stowed his uniform in the linen closet along with the haversack and his boots. He carried the weapons downstairs.

Out on the porch, he untied the ropes that bound the guns and shucked off the blanket. They were all there: a Spencer repeating rifle, a Springfield musket, three Colt revolvers and an old derringer, transported at great risk from Kingsbury Basin in Dana’s phaeton. He had intended to take them to Buffalo Jump, where Mulder would gather them up and deliver them to the Blackfoot camp on Miin Creek. But with Mulder laid up for who knew how long, Skinner must take them to Kicking Horse himself.

He slid the Spencer into the carbine boot on Mulder’s pinto and strapped the Springfield behind the saddle. When he tried to pack the pistols and cartridges into Mulder’s saddlebag, he found it was already full. He emptied it onto the blanket. Out spilled trading trinkets and several objects Skinner could not identify.

A small drawstring pouch caught his eye. Inside he found a medallion -- a Jefferson Peace Medal, stamped with the words “Peace and Friendship.” It seemed an omen, so he pocketed it. Maybe it would bring him luck.

He rolled Mulder’s trade goods into the blanket and took them, along with his own horse, into the barn. He moved quickly, leading the horse to a stall, filling the trough with water, tossing a forkful of hay at the horse’s feet. He tucked the blanket containing Mulder’s things into the phaeton and hurried back to the house.

Mulder’s pinto waited patiently while Skinner untied the reins and climbed onto the saddle. He looked up at the house one last time.

Married life could not come soon enough. Once married, he would truly settle down. Retire from the military. Take up farming. He would not leave Dana on her own the way he had left Liddeah.

“Get-up.” He spurred the pinto and steered north, toward Miin Creek and Kicking Horse’s summer camp.

*     *     *

Maggie decided to stop at the Picayune on her way to the infirmary to enquire about an engagement announcement. The proprietor, a short, scruffy man with a kind smile, met her at the door.

“Good day, Mrs. Scully.” He ushered her inside.

“Indeed it is, Mr. uh...Frohike?”

“Yes, Melvin Frohike, at your service. And these are my associates, Mr. Langly and Mr. Byers.”

He pointed to two men who hunkered over a printing press, which lay in pieces on the floor. Ink stained their hands and clothes.

The bearded man smiled. The blond waved a blackened hand.

She acknowledged them with a nod. “Gentlemen.”

“What brings you to our humble establishment, Mrs. Scully?” Frohike asked.

“Good news, Mr. Frohike.”

“We like that! What sort of good news?”

“The best sort, I should think, short of a birth announcement. My daughter is getting married and I’d like to place a notice of engagement in your paper.”

“Congratulations!”

“This is her ring.” Maggie withdrew the wooden box from her bag and opened the lid with pride. “Isn’t it beautiful?”

Mr. Frohike adjusted his glasses to inspect the stones. The other gentlemen abandoned their work on the floor to come peer over his shoulder.

“Lovely,” Frohike announced at length. “But why isn’t it on the bride-to-be’s finger?”

“That’s...a complicated story.” She did not want to spoil the occasion by mentioning Fox Mulder or Dana’s blood-stained dress. “Shall we discuss the announcement?”

“By all means. What would you like it to say?”

“‘Captain and Mrs. William Scully of...’ Maybe you should write this down, Mr. Frohike.”

“Of course.” He gathered paper and ink, then dipped his quill to take down her words.

“‘Captain and Mrs. William Scully of Liberty, Virginia, are pleased to announce the engagement of their daughter Dana Katherine to Lieutenant Walter Skinner of Mission, Delaware. A September wedding is planned.’” She took the ring from its box and held it up to the light of the window. The sapphires glittered and the pearls shone warmly.

“Is that all?” Frohike asked.

“Should it say more?”

“Some people include a poem, to capture the sentiment of the occasion.”

“An excellent idea, only...”

“Only what, Mrs. Scully?”

“As inspired as I find my daughter’s welcome news, I’m afraid I’m at a loss to put my feelings into words.”

“Perhaps I could suggest something appropriate.”

“Could you? Would you, please?”

Frohike thought for a moment. “How about this: ‘She is thine, the word is spoken, hand to hand, and heart to heart, though all other ties are broken, time these bonds shall never part.’”

“Oh, that is splendid, Mr. Frohike! You certainly have a way with words.”

Frohike gave a modest bow. “Thank you, Mrs. Scully. I don’t like to brag, but I do have something of a reputation for--”

“Your announcement and Mr. Frohike’s poem will appear in our next edition, Mrs. Scully,” Byers interrupted. “Assuming we can get our press back together.”

“I told you not to remove the crank,” Langly complained.

“It was sticking.”

“It just needed a little push.”

“It’ll be fixed straight away, Mrs. Scully, not to worry,” Frohike promised, ending their argument. “Look for your announcement directly below our story about Harmon Loomis.”

“Harmon Loomis?” Maggie asked.

“Malefactor in Kingsbury Basin,” Byers said.

“What did he do?”

“Breach of promise of marriage.”

“Oh dear, a serious offense then.”

“Indeed. Mr. Loomis failed to appear at his own wedding. He claimed his omission of duty was entirely unintentional, but he is in hot water nonetheless. Prospective damages to the lady’s affections are set at $10,000.”

“A fair compensation, wouldn’t you agree, gentlemen? After all, Mr. Loomis gave his word. A promise of marriage is a binding contract that should be honored by all parties. That poor woman.” Maggie tucked Dana’s ring away in her bag. “Thank you for your time, gentlemen, and your expert help, Mr. Frohike. I look forward to seeing your lovely poem in print!”

*     *     *

Mulder’s left arm throbbed. His right shoulder burned -- even more than the time he had been shot by a musket ball in Mexico. But the worst by far was his leg. It ached from toes to groin.

He had been an idiot to go wandering out to the backhouse, but would do the exact same thing all over again given the same circumstances. His refusal to use the chamber pot had nothing to do with Sergeant Phillips, although that was the excuse he had given Dr. Scully. Truth be told, he disliked the idea of her cleaning out his dirtied bowl. It made him feel like a helpless child. And he hated feeling helpless. Especially in front of a beguilingly intelligent woman.

“Drink this, please.” Dr. Scully held a glass to his lips.

“It smells bad.” He pushed it away.

“Yes, it does. And it tastes even worse. But it’ll stave off sepsis and help thin your blood.”

“I want thin blood?”

“You do, Mr. Mulder, so your leg won’t throw a clot and cause paralysis or death.”

“Death might be a welcome relief right about now.”

“Is the pain as bad as that?”

Damn, he had not intended to say anything out loud. Now she would prod and poke and hover over him the rest of the day.

She set down the glass and placed her hand on his forehead.

Was it too late to pretend he was asleep?

“No fever,” she proclaimed, then moved to unwrap the dressing on his arm.

A bloody thread dangled from his sutured flesh. She tugged at it.

“Ouch!”

“Sorry, I had to make sure the ligature was still attached.”

“It is.”

“Yes. And it’s a good thing, too, Mr. Mulder.”

“I’ll take your word for it.”

She swabbed the site with a wet cloth. Sergeant Phillips sat up in his bed to watch.

“Looks mighty painful, mister.”

"It hurts like hell."

Did she intend to scour him down to the bone?

He jerked his arm away. “Enough.”

“Don’t be such a baby, Mr. Mulder.”

“A baby? I was nearly a corpse twelve hours ago.”

“And I intend to keep you from becoming one twelve hours hence.”

She rebound the wound with fresh bandages. Her expression remained serious, but calm. The tip of her tongue stuck out from between pearly teeth as she concentrated on her task. Her fingers fluttered over his raw flesh, soothing the fire deep within the muscles of his arm.

Unfortunately, when she folded back the bedcovers to change the dressing on his upper thigh, her fingers grazed his scrotum through the wool blanket and ignited a fire of a different sort.

His cock stiffened. He cursed its timing and the circumstances.

She carefully loosened and removed his dressing. Her touch was as gentle as a lover’s. When she leaned close to inspect the wound, her warm breath tickled the sensitive skin of his inner thigh.

“Wish I’d been shot by an arrow,” Phillips said, sounding wistful.

Had he noticed Mulder’s erection? Worse yet, had she?

His worry was quickly replaced by another, more serious concern: how would he measure up against the hundreds, maybe thousands of men she had seen on a “practically daily” basis while in medical school? Would she find him lacking? It wasn’t the sort of problem he had run into before. Most women he'd known were far less experienced than Dr. Scully. Including Madame Pearl and the courtesans at the Buffalo Rose Pleasure Palace in Cripple Creek.

“Ever hear the legend of Blood Clot Boy?” Mulder asked, trying to distract Dr. Scully, the sergeant, and himself. If he was lucky, his condition would either disappear on its own or remain safely concealed beneath the folds of the bedcovers.

“I’ve not heard it, Mr. Mulder.” She daubed at his thigh with her cloth.

His cock began to tent the blankets.

“Tell it, please,” Sergeant Phillips urged.

Mulder shifted, trying to nonchalantly pile the covers more generously onto his lap. “An old couple had three daughters who all married the same man.”

“Lucky man,” said Sergeant Phillips.

Dr. Scully frowned, but continued to meticulously tend his injured thigh.

“Miserly man,” Mulder corrected, wishing she would either finish her ministrations or ask Sergeant Phillips to leave the room so he could throw her to the bed and fuck her until the Devil dragged him off to Hell. “He wouldn’t share his food with his in-laws. Soon, they were starving. One day, the old couple found a blood clot in the snow and took it home to put in a pot of boiling water.”

“They weren’t going to eat it, were they?” Dr. Scully looked appalled.

Had her eyes always been such an intoxicating shade of blue?

“They were very hungry,” Mulder reiterated. It took all of his willpower not to touch himself. Or her. “After a short time, they heard a child crying in the pot. They looked in and found the blood clot had turned into a baby boy.”

“There was a living baby in the pot of boiling water?” Dr. Scully’s brow arched.

“According to the legend, yes.”

“Water boils at two-hundred-twelve degrees Fahrenheit, Mr. Mulder. I don’t have to tell you, a baby would never survive such extreme temperatures.”

“It’s a myth. A metaphor. You aren’t supposed to take it literally.” Would she slap him if he kissed her? “Anyway, the baby instructed the old couple to hold him next to--”

“The baby spoke?” she interrupted again.

“Are you going to question every detail of the story?”

“Only the parts that contradict what we know to be possible.”

“You’re claiming that everything that is possible is already known?”

“I’m saying that observable, empirical, and measurable evidence can help us determine whether a thing is possible or not. Procedures may vary from one field of inquiry to another, but there are identifiable features that distinguish scientific inquiry from other methodologies of knowledge. Scientists propose hypotheses as explanations of phenomena. They then design experimental studies to test those hypotheses. The steps must be rigorous and reputable if they are to yield dependable results.”

Oddly, the more she talked, the harder he became.

“You sure know how to squeeze the fun out of a story, Dr. Scully.”

“And you tell a tall tale, Mr. Mulder.”

“Please, let him finish, Doc,” Phillips begged.

“Yes, let me finish.” So to speak.

She moved her hand higher up his leg. He suppressed a moan.

“Fine.” She rolled her eyes. “I won’t say another word.”

Her fingers inched closer to his groin. If she was trying to drive him crazy, it was working.

“The baby instructed the old couple to hold him next to each lodge pole in the tepee. As they moved him from one pole to the next, he began to grow.”

Just like his cock.

“I don’t think I need to point out that--”

“Dr. Scully!” Phillips and Mulder whined in unison.

“Sorry.” She closed her mouth and pursed her lips.

Full, rosy lips. They would feel sooo good on his--

“By the time they held him next to the last...uh...pole,” -- his cock twitched beneath the blankets -- “he was a full grown man. He said he was the Smoking Star and had descended to earth to help them.”

“He came from Heaven?” Phillips asked, eyes round with wonder.

“Or an alien world,” Mulder said.

“Lift your leg, please,” Dr. Scully ordered.

“Pardon?”

“Lift your leg so I can wrap it.”

God help him, he was going to explode.

He raised his knee, carefully, so as not to detonate all over the blankets. “The couple named him Blood Clot Boy. For obvious reasons.”

“What happened next?” Phillips asked.

“Blood Clot Boy helped the old couple. He hunted for them, provided them with food.”

“And what happened to the miserly son-in-law?” Dr. Scully asked.

“Nothing.”

“Nothing? There’s no moral to this story?”

“It’s not an Aesop’s fable.”

“You can put your leg down now.”

“I don’t think I can.”

“Of course you can.”

“No, I mean, I don’t think I want to. I--”

Before he could say more, a well-dressed, middle-aged woman blustered into the ward. Mulder had seen her before. Wasn’t she--

“Mother?” Dr. Scully blinked in surprise. “What are you doing here?”

“I came to return your engagement ring. What are *you* doing?” Mrs. Scully’s eyes targeted the small feminine hand caressing Mulder’s bare thigh.

Mulder’s erection wilted beneath the covers and Mrs. Scully’s disapproving stare.

Did she say “engagement ring”?

 

Continued in Chapter 13

 

THE MOUNTAIN MAN
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