TITLE: Bloodline I : Red
AUTHOR: Cecily Sasserbaum
EMAIL: cecilysass@yahoo.com
DISCLAIMER: Fox Mulder, Dana Scully belong to Chris Carter, 1013 and Fox. No infringement of copyright is intended.
RATING: PG-13/R for language, mainly.
KEYWORDS: Angst, UST/MSR, somewhat of an X-file.
SPOILER: Emily/Christmas Carol, general knowledge up through current season.

SUMMARY: Mulder receives cryptic photographs that lead he and Scully to suspect that Samantha, or one of her relatives, is still alive and well...but this becomes more complicated. Of course.

COMMENTS: This was originally written last spring; hence a certain character now deceased is still alive. If it looks familiar, it's because this was posted to ATXFC in March 1999, but it's been revised. And <gasp!> a sequel is coming tommorrow.

FEEDBACK: I dearly appreciate it.

Will all great Neptune's ocean wash this blood
Clean from my hand? No, this my hand will rather
The multitudinous seas incarnadine,
Making the green one red.
--Macbeth, Act II, scene ii, line 61

At first the letter in the mail: quite unremarkable.

Scully came across it first, of course, as she was far more likely to sort through their mail than he was. A simple, white envelope, addressed only to Fox Mulder -- no Special Agent title.

"You order some pictures, Mulder?" Scully asked dryly, tossing the letter on to his desk.

"You implying something, Scully?"

"No return address," she commented, raising an eyebrow.

And as it sat on the desk in front of him, Mulder regarded it with only mild curiosity. No return address. Photos, don't bend. An advertisement, maybe?

"Why would I order a couple of pictures, Scully, when I could get a whole magazine?" he smiled, ripping the envelope open.

And there were two snapshots: one quite familiar.

"The paper is Kodak, probably from later than 1976, judging from its rigid quality and the color. Could be as late as 1982, although our source didn't think so." Frohike said cautiously. "And it could have been sold anywhere in the country, Mulder. Anywhere that sells Kodak."

Frohike was subdued and tense, watching Mulder's face intently. They all were, realized Scully. We're afraid because this is so close, so tangible, and that has always meant that our next step is disastrous.

Not this time, she begged internally. Let him have this.

"Not 1982. She doesn't look that old," Mulder said. "1979, or 1980 seems about right."

And Scully looked again at the snapshot: Samantha Mulder, whose face had become so familiar to her, standing on a large rock surrounded by trees. A young teenager, skinny, wearing exactly the kind of halter top that Scully had worn about the same time. Smiling, slightly, squinting a little into the sun -- looking like her brother. Unmistakable.

"Does it look...posed to you, Scully?"


"Like she was told to stand there, smile -- like this was set up for someone?"

"Possibly." Scully regarded him.

"I wonder if my father got a picture like this in the mail from time to time, letting him know that she was still out there."

"And now they're sending it to you?" Byers said. "I mean, why would they?"

"It has to do with the other picture," Scully said. "Mulder, somebody's trying to tell you something."

"The other pictures is newer," offered Byers. "After 1990, our source said. But again...it could be from anywhere."

The second photo was of a hand. Small, with almost translucent fingernails: a baby's hand, lying back against a black background.

Almost certainly a baby whose life is being manipulated towards someone else's agenda, Scully thought stonily, like my own genetic offspring.

"It's a warning," Mulder said, gazing hard.

This has happened so many times, Scully told herself. You would suppose someday these lurchings in my stomach would stop.

He let Scully buy him dinner at a Chinese restaurant in Georgetown, and sat slouched back into the booth, gazing out the window at the Friday night passerbys.

"Mulder," Scully said.

He looked at her, her face so tired and pale. The familiar guilt about Scully: how had she ever become a cog in this awful machine? Shouldn't he have let her go long before now?

"I'm wondering what new and creative way you've found to blame yourself for this, Mulder."

"She was taken as an insurance, you know," Mulder said, stirring the sesame chicken around idly with his fork. "That she might be made a hybrid, if everything worked out -- but if it didn't...she was supposed to insure my fathers commitment to the project."

"Like Cassandra," Scully nodded. "She was CGB's insurance. Unfortunately for her."

"It's a pretty nasty trick, isn't it, Scully? Create a human pawnshop, for the ethically challenged. Use your family members as markers in the game."

"It's deplorable," Scully's face was dark.

"It's effective," Mulder said. "How could my father ever act out against them, knowing they had Sam?"

"Blackmail is usually effective," Scully commented.

"They tried it with me, too," Mulder said.

And he remembered the feeling of wrenching in his stomach. How guilt and terror can worm its way around your intestines. How it can press itself into the sides of your head until you're blind with pain. Or force itself into your sleep.

"With you," Mulder continued, staring at her. "They infected you with the virus as insurance against my work. So that they could control me."

"Yes," Scully said, and looked down at her half-eaten plate of food.

"And had I not gotten the vaccine, it would have worked." Mulder continued, his voice taking an odd tone.

"Mulder--" she began.

"I couldn't have gone on," Mulder said thickly.

"That's not true."

"No, it is, Scully," he insisted. "I don't think I could have."

"Yes, you could have," Scully said. "And it's very important that you hear this, Mulder. Should that happen again, should they threaten you with my life in any context... I'm telling you now: I would rather you continue the work. You have to continue the work."

"It's easy to say, Scully--"

"I mean it, Mulder. I don't want to be a marker used against you," she said. "The idea sickens me."

"It would destroy me -- " he began

"You couldn't let it."

Mulder stared hard at her, and then shrugged, slightly. "I would try, Scully. Good enough?"

Scully seemed to allow herself a small smile. "It's a weak promise."

"Honest, you mean."

"I'll accept it," she said, trying to meet his eyes.

"And the same applies to me, Scully. If they should use the same tactic. "

"All right," she said softly. She put her hand on top of his, her eyes warm, and clasped it. "But let's hope it never comes to that, all right?"

The waitress approached to fill their glasses with water. "Can we have the check, please?" Scully asked.

The waitress smiled. "It's been paid for by the guy at the bar."

What guy? A sudden tightness in his chest. Mulder stood up quickly, scanning the restaurant.

"He left before...maybe twenty minutes ago?" The waitress was puzzled. "Is there a problem? He said you looked like a nice couple."

"Was he an older man? Smoked cigarettes?" Scully demanded.

"No, he was young. Maybe in his twenties, thirties. Wore thick glasses. He seemed nice, really."

Mulder ran for the door, pushed his way through the restaurant out on to the street, searching for someone who had been watching them, someone keeping tabs on their conversation.

But it was only Georgetown at night. Hadn't he been staring at these same passers-by, just moments before? Well-dressed couples on dates. College students.

Scully was standing behind him, looking at the street scene herself.

"Did you see him, Mulder?"

"He's long gone, whoever he was", Mulder replied.

"Maybe someone just thought we looked like a happy couple, Mulder."

"Then we should arrest him for being criminally misguided, shouldn't we, Scully?"

And then he noticed a man standing alone down the street, leaning for a moment against a storefront. But just as Mulder was ready to run for him, ready to make him give answers, several children bounded out of the ice cream shop nearby and ran up to him, one taking his hand. A woman in a nice coat followed them.

"Probably a tourist," Scully said, looking at him.

But he had been standing all alone there, for just a second...

Perhaps, thought Mulder, it was meant as a metaphor.

Because what could possible be more vulnerable than the tiny hand of an infant? He thought of the paleness of the skin, how one could see traces of blue vein down its wrist.

Mulder was reminded of Emily, of the pale skin and sickly eyes of a three-year old doomed to death. Was there any clearer demonstration of the precarious nature of a child's life?

Even a child who had Scully for a biological parent -- a parent who was intelligent and courageous and desperately needing -- even this child had no guarantee of life.

Was the picture meant to remind him of Samantha, of the ease with which someone could take the knowledge of her whereabouts from him?

Or was the picture meant literally: a photo of a child in danger, who Mulder, with the right information, could possibly save?

He was nearly inside his apartment building when he was bumped, abruptly, on the street.

"Excuse me," said the man. His eyes seemed abnormally large behind his glasses. "I wasn't watching where I was going."

And Mulder felt the slip of paper in his hand, as the man walked away.


"Hey!" Mulder shouted after the man, who looked back at him, scowled, and kept walking.

"Hey -- I'm not playing these goddamn games," Mulder said, running up to the man. "I think you better tell me what the hell is going on."

"Agent Mulder," hissed the man, "we are both in danger when you talk to me in public like this."

"Who are you?"

"Follow me into the laundromat," whispered the man. And he ducked across the street, running inside a ramshackle storefront: Mighty L Laundromat.

"Hey, you didn't look both ways," Mulder called after him, feeling a hardness at the pit of his stomach. This was his chance for some answers but he couldn't shake this feeling of foreboding.

The man was sitting in front of a dryer, mutely watching it spin. He was a skinny, pale little man, rather young, with stringy hair and the strikingly large glasses.

"What, are we going to watch your laundry dry?" Mulder said, sitting next to him on the bench. "Who the hell are you?"

"I work in a lab," the man responded. He kept his lips very tight together, and looked straight forward at the dryer. "I work for a very powerful man. He'd kill me if he knew I came to you."

Mulder exhaled. "You have something you want to tell me?"

"I work in a lab. I'm very unimportant. A lab geek, really. I process results I have nothing to do with....with most of it. It's a genetics lab hybrid experiments, mostly. You know what I mean when I say hybrids?"

He was sweating, Mulder noticed. Nervous as hell.

"Yeah," Mulder said. "Did you send me those photos?"

"I needed to tell you...they're waiting, I think, until you're most vulnerable...but I think if you knew now everyone would be better off. I think it's necessary...oh god."

The Lab Geek's eyes became very wide under his glasses, and he stood up, shaking his hands in a peculiar nervous twitch. "Oh god. The same man just walked by the laundromat door twice."

"Does this have to do with my sister Samantha?"

"Listen," the Lab Geek grabbed his hands. "Listen to me, Agent Mulder, I'm going to be a dead man soon. But this was only his project, you know? The chain-smoking guy, my boss? Only his. None of the rest of them -- so many of them are dead now, you know -- they didn't know about it. It was his sick idea. For you."

"What sick idea?"

"Oh, it's all there. I've given it to her. She'll know what to do. Run tests. You'll find it," he said, leaping to his feet.

"Find what? Who are you talking about?"

"Did you see that man?" The Lab Geek ran to the side of the door, peering cautiously out the door.

"Were you followed to my..."

"Do you understand I'm about to be *killed*, Agent Mulder? I have a family, you know!"

The Lab Geek peered out the door until he was convinced it was clear.

"Good luck," he said to Mulder. "I told you because it's better you figure it out now. Because otherwise he'll use it against you. He'll trap you. People will be hurt -- people I care about."

And the Lab Geek took off, out the door, sprinting into the city street.

Mulder watched him run into the distance, debating over whether he should chase him down again or not. He had acquired so little information from this encounter, and yet....

His internal debate was interrupted by the cell phone.

"This is Mulder."

"Mulder, it's me," Scully's voice was breathless. "Where are you? I called your apartment."

"Uh...I'm at the laundromat."

"I found the strangest thing in my mailbox, Mulder. In a padded envelope, no return address. No note."

"What is it?"

"A small vial of blood, sealed tightly. I'm on my way to the Bureau lab to drop it off and have it tested for diseases, unusual levels of toxins..."

"Good idea. I'll need to fill you in on a cryptic conversation I just had."

"Mulder, do you have any kind of DNA sample for Samantha?"

Mulder stopped. "You think--"

"Some baby hair from a scrapbook, something like that?"

He was silent for a moment.

"Mulder..." Scully's voice was gentle. "I have no reason to think the blood is Samantha's. I think it's just prudent to have it checked, because of the photos."

"My mother does," he said. "I'll call her, and see if she can have something couriered down to us."

"I'll call you tomorrow, Scully. We'll go to the lab together."

"My favorite kind of date, Mulder."

The lab technician was able to process the results much faster than Scully had expected, and they were ready when she and Mulder arrived the next morning.

In her dream the night before, she had run down to the beach with Melissa, both of them little girls again, and dug her toes into the sand, and looked up to realize that the ocean was filled with bright red blood.

"Who has done this?" Mulder had shouted, suddenly standing near her in the sand. He was angry.

"It was Moses, Mulder, look he's floating in the rushes," she'd said, softly, laughing, and pointed to a baby floating in a basket on the bloody waves, reaching a tiny hand upwards.

"Oh god, we'll never reach it," Mulder had cried out, running into the ocean. His pant legs were stained with blood and his face was anguished. "He's floating out to sea..."

A troubled dream. The random firings of a troubled subconscious mind, she reminded herself...

How has this vial of blood been acquired, she wondered. Was it voluntarily given? Is its donor still alive?

"Well, you can relax, it's definitely human blood," the lab technician told her, smiling and holding the vial between her fingers triumphantly.

It was her idea of joke, to tease Dr. Spooky. But it did make her oddly relieved.

"And you checked it against the DNA sample that was couriered early this morning?"

"The baby hair sample? Yes. Take a look at the chart here. Some interesting results."

Scully glanced at Mulder. He was standing on the other side of the lab counter silently watching her, strangely subdued.

Let this be something Mulder will be able to understand, she prayed. Let this be something that gives him some reassurance. That doesn't plunge him again into despair.

She picked up the chart and read it over.

And felt her stomach lurch.

"What does it mean?" Mulder asked. "Is it Samantha's blood?"

"There's a lot of genetic material in common here," Scully commented quietly. She looked up at Mulder.

"I've seen a chart that looks something like this before," she added, staring at him directly.

"It is hers," Mulder said dully.

"No," Scully said. Still staring. "But it's very probable that it's a relative."

"A relative," repeated Mulder, slowly moving around the counter towards the chart.

"I've seen this before," Scully said again, hoping he would understand. That she wouldn't have to explain.

But he wasn't listening, he was lifting the chart and scanning it himself -- illogically, Scully thought, as he doesn't know what it means.

"It could be Samantha's child, Scully. The baby's hand. Maybe it's the genetic product of Samantha and... something else?"

"The blood is human," Scully said to him slowly, eyeing the lab technician. "There's nothing especially abnormal about it."

The lab technician, taking Scully's hint, walked away, pretending not to hear their conversation.

Scully continued: "And it doesn't have enough DNA structure in common, I think, to be Samantha's child."

"Then what?"

"It could be your blood," Scully continued. "Let me take a blood sample from you, Mulder. I can run the test myself, if the lab tech will help me."

"My own blood?" Mulder was impatient. "That doesn't compute, Scully, why would he send my own blood to me? And where would he have acquired it?"

Scully was preparing the needle to take Mulder's blood. "Did you give blood any time in the past year?"

"For the Red Cross, or maybe as part of a physical," Mulder shook his head, extending his arm for Scully's needle. "But the man I spoke to, Scully, that lab employee -- he indicated that this blood sample would tell us something new, something important. What could a sample of my own blood have to reveal to us?"

"Maybe it's not yours, then," Scully answered. She wiped a cotton ball with alcohol over Mulder's arm, and injected the needle into his vein.

"Can you help me with a second DNA test?" she called to the technician.

And as Scully watched the needle fill with Mulder's dark red blood, she felt her chest tighten, her stomach lurch with the beginnings of nausea.

When will he realize? she thought furiously. How could he not have seen the similarities? It occurred to her instantly, almost the second she picked up the chart. But then, he hadn't been there when she had found out about Emily.

Mulder's eyes were on her, as she extracted the needle. "You don't think it's my blood at all, Scully, do you?"

She stopped and stepped towards him, cautiously.

"No, Mulder," she answered. "I don't."

He didn't say anything in response, but she could tell that this time he had understood. -

Silently they sipped Bureau coffee, sitting side-by side on uncomfortable vinyl seats in the lab's waiting area.

Scully had expected she would be the first to speak, but she was not.

"This can't be the same as Emily, Scully," Mulder said suddenly. "It doesn't fit into what we know about this organization. Everything we've encountered indicates that they were using human eggs, not semen, for these experiments. "

"It probably isn't...the same as Emily," Scully replied, carefully using the same euphemism he had. "If I had to hazard a guess, I would say that it is very different. But we can't know anything until we see the completed chart."

"And how would a sample of my semen be obtained?" Mulder continued. "How could this have been engineered?"

"Maybe it wasn't 'engineered', Mulder," Scully replied. "Is it possible that there could be a child fathered through conventional means?"

"Through conventional means?" Mulder said. "What are you implying, exactly?"

Scully looked away, awkwardly. "These things happen to people, Mulder. Could they have tracked down a child that you had fathered at some point in your life without knowing it?"

Mulder rolled his eyes. "Oh Jesus, Scully..."

"I'm sorry to pry, Mulder," Scully said, "but it seems more likely than other options. They know that they could use your child against you, Mulder. Insurance. Like they did against your father."

"I had some casual liaisons in college. I guess it could be remotely possible..."

"The photo of the infant's hand dates after 1990," Scully reminded him. "If we're assuming the photo is of your offspring, it would mean a liaison after 1990."

"Then believe it or not, Scully, the list of potential maternal candidates shortens considerably," Mulder said.

And with a sudden bitter laugh, he stood up.

"It's so unreal, Scully, it's just not possible. I think we're going to find that this blood test is not going to indicate I'm the father of any child."

"Forgive me for this, Mulder," Scully said softly, "but Diana Fowley? Did that happen around or after 1990?"

Mulder stared at her. "Scully?"

"If she was able to work with them..."

"It's absurd, and it's insulting," Mulder answered, standing up. "Without any basis."

"Mulder, you're not--"

"The chart," he said quickly. And Scully watched the lab technician come through the glass doors of the waiting area.

"Here it is, Agent Scully," the lab tech said quietly. She wasn't making jokes anymore, Scully realized. And she seemed in a hurry to leave, letting the doors swing behind her.

And the chart was in Scully's hands, in front of her. She read it, feeling her stomach jump yet again.

"Mulder," she breathed in, deeply. "there is a ninety percent chance that you are the father of the person who this blood was extracted from."

"Oh no," Mulder whispered. "How--"

"We could run the test again, if you doubt it," she continued, "but I would consider this conclusive."

"Then they have some child, then, Scully, that has the misfortune of carrying half my DNA," Mulder said bitterly.

"Mulder--" Scully began.

"Some child who they'll screw around with and make crazy and unhealthy, all for my sake. All for me! Will I ever have any family members, Scully, who aren't featured in the X-files?"

"We'll find it," Scully replied. "We're going to find it. They're not going to hold this over you, Mulder, not a child's life."

"Goddamnit!" Mulder slammed his hand against the wall. "He was waiting to tell me, Scully -- that goddamned bastard. Waiting for the most effective moment to tighten his grip on me."

"Mulder --"

And she had the impulse to embrace him, suddenly, and reached to pull him to her, to comfort him.

This happened to me, too, she thought desperately. Don't you remember? How comforting you were to me then?

But he stepped back.

"No, it's not going to happen like this," Mulder shook his head. "I'm not going to sit back passively, Scully, and mourn, and let them dangle this carrot." He grabbed his jacket and moved for the door.

"Where are you going, Mulder?"

"I'm going to find the Lab Geek again somehow, Scully. I'll make the son of a bitch clear his conscience."

"How..." called Scully. But Mulder pushed through the doors, letting them swing behind him.

According to her Bureau file, Diana Fowley lived in the Watergate Apartment complex, and Scully found that strange in itself -- the price range was certainly beyond *her* salary, anyway.

This was going to be awful, she thought miserably. She had no idea what she was about to say to Diana, and was certain it would be a humiliating exchange.

But she couldn't shake the possibility that Diana was the mother of this child of Mulder's. That Diana, and her involvement with the conspiracy, was the connection that could give them a lead.

"Agent Scully," Diana opened the door, smiling slightly. "This is certainly unexpected."

"I have some questions for you," Scully said. "If you have a second."

"Am I under investigation?" Diana said smoothly. "I wasn't aware."

"No, of course not. This isn't a Bureau matter -- exactly."

"So it's personal, then, Dana?" Diana smiled. "Come inside, and take a seat."

"I'm afraid this is a little awkward," Scully said calmly, as she sat down on to Diana's sofa.

"Because you've assailed me repeatedly with unjustified insinuations about my ethics?" Diana suggested.

"No," Scully replied, ignoring the bait. "Because it involves your personal life. Have you ever had a child, Diana?"

Diana's expression did not change. "No, I have not."

"You were never pregnant, at any time, from after 1990?"

Diana smiled, slowly, realization seeming to break over her face.

"I didn't have a child fathered by Fox Mulder, Dana, if that's what you're asking."

Scully clenched her teeth, fully aware of the impression she must be making.

Diana continued, leaning in towards her and smiling: "You'll have to look elsewhere for that candidate."

She definitely knew something. Unmistakable. Scully felt her stomach knot up with anger.

"I'm not entirely convinced of your honesty," Scully said tightly.

"You could check my medical history. It's in the Bureau files."

"Would you give me your permission to check your medical history? I will do it tonight," Scully replied quickly, feeling her cheeks inflame.

"Why should I? You haven't indicated to me what this is even about. Does Fox even know you're here?"

"Why don't you allow me to take a sample of your blood or hair to run a DNA test? I can confirm or refute my accusation conclusively then."

"And what accusation is that, exactly?"

"It is my belief," said Scully, standing up, "that you know exactly what I'm talking about."

"You're wrong," Diana replied. "Now get the hell out of my apartment."

But Scully found that she couldn't control her temper, somehow. "You can tell CGB that he'll fry in hell for what he's done. You can tell him that from me."

And as she turned to walk out the door, Diana said, coolly: "He gets told that by more powerful people than you. On a day to day basis."

Scully turned and looked at her for a moment.

And then left, leaving the door hanging open behind her.

The hospitals had turned up no leads. Nothing!

And Mulder's head was beginning to pound furiously. His good old guilt headache: an old friend from childhood. He had stopped for a moment, to sit in his car, and regroup.

He had called the morgues first. Looking for a white male, twenty to thirty, pale, blondish hair, glasses. Probably a homicide, he suggested to the person on the phone.

And then he'd dutifully gone down to the morgue to try to identify some who had fit the description. Lots of dead white males, as it turns out, but none of them were the Lab Geek.

That much is good, Mulder reminded himself. That means that he is out there somewhere alive, walking around with the answers rattling around in his head.

And the cell phone buzzed, interrupting his thoughts again.

It must be Scully, he thought, and was struck with sudden guilt remembering their last encounter, hours ago. He had been his usual graceless self.

"Mulder," he said, picking up the phone.

"Congratulations are in order, I suppose," came the voice on the other end.

It was not Scully at all.

"You black-lunged son of a bitch," Mulder replied.

"It seems we've had a slight security problem, and you've found out about our little surprise for you."

"I'll kill you when I find you," Mulder said in a low tight voice. "I will put my gun in your face and pull the trigger."

"Yes, yes, so you've said before, Agent Mulder. I think I have information you'll need first."

Stay calm, Mulder, he reminded himself. Obtain information. Would Scully fly off the handle like this?

"What do you want from me? What are you asking for me to do?" Mulder continued.

"Your father was once somewhat troublesome to our operation, you know, Agent Mulder."

"Not troublesome enough," Mulder replied.

"But after your sister's abduction, he was much easier to convince, somehow. It happened to all of us, knowing the fate of our own blood lay in our decisions."

"Your own blood," Mulder repeated, disgusted.

"When you began to cause us real trouble, Agent Mulder, I developed this plan myself. I remembered your father's face when..."

There was a careful pause.

"Well, we thought you might best respond to similar tactics. Some of my colleagues thought it unnecessary, but I nursed it as a side project. And of course now most of my colleagues are dead."

"Where did this child come from?"

"Oh, Agent Mulder, from a human sperm cell and an egg in a laboratory. Nowadays it's a fairly common way to come into life, really. I believe I was there to witness it firsthand."

Mulder ground his fist into the car dashboard, but he kept his voice steady. "How did you obtain my sperm cells?"

The voice on the other end of the phone laughed. "We could obtain your tonsils if we wanted them, Agent Mulder. Or the President's, for that matter."

Keep asking questions, Mulder reminded himself. Don't let him distract you.

"Where was the egg obtained?"

A pause.

Then, very carefully: "We have many ova at our disposal, Agent Mulder. We could select whichever we thought best."

"An abductee's ovum," Mulder replied. "From the hybrid experiments."

"And of course, why should we involve a stranger," the voice continued, "when two birds could so effectively be knocked down with one stone?"

And Mulder froze in his seat, his limbs stiffening and his heart escalating.

"Agent Mulder?" the voice asked. "Are you still there?"

Mulder hung up the phone, and heard a dial tone.

He felt himself shaking, and his mouth was peculiarly dry.

Slowly he managed to press down on the cell phone buttons.

"This is the lab?" he said, almost a whisper. "Agent Mulder here. I'd like you to run another set of DNA tests on that sample we ran over today."

Three hours later, Mulder was sitting in the dark in the basement office, staring at the vial of blood, rolling it around in his fingers.

In the darkness the blood appeared thick and black, a foreign substance.

Mulder stared at the vial as it turned over, the darkness trickling from one side of the to the other. Black blood.

The key turned in the office door, and the door opened.

"Mulder?" Scully was silhouetted by the hall light.


"I got your message." She took a step in. "What are you doing here in the dark?"

She flipped on the light switch, and he was amazed, for a moment, how the black blood became bright crimson in a flash.

"Scully--" Mulder said, but couldn't continue. His voice was too hoarse.

"What's the matter?" Scully said, walking for him. "Did you find the Lab Geek? What did he tell you?"

"I don't know how...I can't begin to --" He broke off. Mulder could only stare at her miserably.

"Are you okay? Are you sick?" She stepped towards him again.

"Here," he finally said, giving her an envelope. "I got a call from CGB today, Scully...I had them run another test at the lab."

"Another DNA test?" Scully pulled the chart out of the envelope. "For what purpose?"

"The lab technician told me what the results meant," Mulder continued.

Scully's eyes widened ever so slightly as she read the chart's header.

"You ran it against my DNA," she said.

"Yes," Mulder said, watching her.

She continued reading, and Mulder watched her face, watched her mouth tighten.

She looked up, her face blank. "I'm the mother."

"A ninety-five percent chance, Scully."

"They used my harvested ova," she said softly. "They used it to create an insurance that we wouldn't destroy their work."

"Scully -- " Mulder said, helplessly. "I can't begin to tell you how sorry I am that they did this to you again."

She was looking past him, and Mulder thought her hands trembled slightly.

"Don't they see," Scully said, in a steady voice, "you don't create children for the purpose of blackmail?"

"They knew," Mulder said, his voice cracking, "that it would be worse for us this way. They knew they could keep up both from working on the X-Files, not only because of the human instinct to protect one's own offspring, but because both of us couldn't bear to hurt the other."

She still wasn't looking at his face, and Mulder thought he understood why. He took a deep breath.

"There's more, Scully. This was lying on the desk when I came in this evening."

He handed her a padded envelope. "It's a videotape. No markings. No return address. Addressed simply to Dana Scully and Fox Mulder."

Scully pulled the video tape out, slowly, and stared at it, her eyes strangely bright.

"I guess," she said, "we should watch it."

"I could watch it first, if you want," Mulder said. "I've had longer to adjust to this..."

"No," Scully said quietly. "No, we'll both watch it."

Mulder took the videotape from her hands, and walked across the room, slipping it in the VCR.

The confusion first of static, and flecks of white and grey, then a moment of darkness and vague sounds of movement.

A woman's voice, faintly, "Say hello to the camera. Say hello."

Autumn leaves, bright red. A grove of trees, maple and oak. The camera jumped nauseatingly.

The woman again: "Are you going to say hello to the camera?"

Then suddenly, very close, a pale face, two wide set hazel eyes, framed with large eyelashes. Exquisite! Scully gasped.

The camera pulled back: it was a child around a year old, barely standing on its own under the trees, a head full of sandy colored hair, its sex indeterminate.

Staring at the camera seriously. Its face wary.

Looking so small underneath the towering fiery maple trees.

"Show how you can count," suggested the unseen woman.

The child cried out a syllable, and thrust a finger forward, looking cautiously at the woman who stood somewhere behind the camera.

"That's right, one," said the woman.

The child saw something on the ground, suddenly, and looked up at the woman seriously, its mouth slightly open.

The camera zoomed in, lurching. The child's face: round and pale, looking down at the ground, its eyelashes shading its eyes.

"Do you see something...what is it?" said the woman.

The child leaned over precariously, reaching for the ground, and picked up a bright red leaf. Its arm extended, shaking the leaf towards the unseen woman, its eyes wide and bright.

"It's a leaf, yes, it's red," the woman said. "So terribly smart!"

The child smiled, just slightly, its lips pink and full over its teeth, and Mulder felt guilt press against the sides of his cranium.

They watched: rapt and frightened. Feeling the horror, yes -- the swirling anxiety and anger -- but also the deep pull.

Standing next to each other, untouching and unmoving, afraid to look away from the screen. His mouth slightly agape. Her eyes wide and filling with tears.

And although it made them weak with fear, they found themselves searching the child's face and body: searching for tiny fragments, the slightest characteristic or movement of: yes, themselves, but mostly of each other.

The deep pull, giving way to deep hopeless yearning. And again they were reminded of the vast deep expanse of their own aloneness.

And the dark red glow of the leaves on the television screen fell over their frozen faces, giving them an eerie blood red sheen.

Our state cannot be sever'd; we are one,
One flesh; to lose thee were to lose myself.
--John Milton, Paradise Lost

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