Title: Breath of Heaven
Author: Vickie Moseley
Keywords: A Christmas X File
Feedback: vickiemoseley1978@yahoo.com
Category: X A strongly hinted MSR, but very tame.
Rated: PG
Spoilers: Christmas Carol, Emily
Standard Disclaimer: Thought you could throw us for a loop with that one, didn't ya, Chris? Well, not a chance. And just to show what a good sport I am, I won't infringe on your copyright of these characters. However, I claim the Riveras, Joey, Maria and little Chewie, as my very own.

Summary: A Christmas miracle, and the promise of another yet to come.

Notes: Just so no one is offended, Christian overtones. The

comes from Amy Grant--a truly wonderful tribute to the Mother of God.

Further note--I happen to know a 'Jesus' and his nickname is Chewie, so I'm assuming that is always the case :)

Interstate 55, rural Illinois
December 24, 1998
8:35 pm

"It's right here, Scully. Right on the front page," Fox Mulder said with a smirk toward his partner. For her part, Dana Scully didn't acknowledge either the statement, or the tabloid that Mulder now waved just out of her line of sight. She was too intent on keeping their white Mercury Contour on the icy stretch of highway in the face of gale force winds and blinding snow.

"Can't see it, Mulder. Guess you'll have to read it to me," Scully replied dryly.

"OK, it says 'Worst Winter on Record Predicted'. And this one says that the New Testament predicted that this winter would start the Apocalypse." He turned the pages, trying to find the corresponding article.

"I thought Nostradamus predicted that LAST winter was going to bring the reign of the anti-christ," Scully interjected. "He did. Can't be right all the time," Mulder noted absently. "Yep, right here--somewhere in Revelations. C'mon, Scully, you must have read that sometime."

"Haven't you heard, Mulder? Catholics don't read the Bible," she shot back with a wry grin. Just then, the tires skid on the ice and she grabbed the wheel tighter in an effort to keep the car headed in the right direction.

"Turn into the skid," Mulder instructed, knowing she would do that automatically, but feeling powerless to do more than watch as they slid helplessly along the deserted highway.

"We should be off the road," Scully said through gritted teeth. "Don't say that too loud," Mulder whispered as the car continued it's slide and was now going down the highway, at 50 miles an hour, sideways. In the eternity that only comes during moments of extreme terror, both agents watched helpless as the road seemed to spin under their tires. Then, in the blink of an eye, they were off the road into the median, hit one of the burms, and were projected into the air, where they flew for a good twenty feet before coming down with a resounding crunch.

It was total silence when Scully found she could assimilate her environment beyond her own labored breaths. Her hands were still shaking as she brushed the hair out of her face and assessed the damage.

In the silence, she began to hear some sounds. The hiss of a broken radiator finally filtered through the buffeting winds. The groan of her partner came next.

"Mulder? Mulder, are you all right?" It was a ridiculous question. Even if they hadn't just gone 'airborne' for 20 feet, chances were that Mulder would have managed to injure himself when they crashed into the median. The question was how badly had he been injured. When no answer was forthcoming, she unbuckled her seatbelt and leaned over to check him.

"SHIT!" she shouted in the still air. Her right wrist was screaming almost as loudly as she was herself. Somewhere between the road and the landing, she must have broken her wrist. She held it close to her body, panting through the tears that had erupted from her eyes. Only when Mulder moaned again was she able to think past the pain that radiated in both directions, down to her fingertips and up to her shoulder.

"Mulder," she panted. "Mulder, wake up. How badly are you hurt?" She hated the panic in her voice, but it wouldn't go away. If they were both hurt, they could be in real trouble.

"Ahhhhhh," Mulder straightened up from where he hit the windshield. In the green light of the dashboard, she could see blood flowing from a cut somewhere above his left eye.

"Easy. Take it easy," she cooed, reaching over with her left hand to help him back against the seat. "You've hit your head." "That might account for the pain," he mumbled. He blinked, then blinked again. "Everything's blurry," he informed her. "You probably have a concussion. Why weren't you wearing your seatbelt?" she demanded, relieved enough to be angry at him.

"I was. Shoulder strap didn't catch," he rasped, taking a few deep breaths. He noticed how she was holding her wrist. "What did you do? What's wrong with your arm?"

"I think I might have broken my wrist," she admitted.

He started to frown, but it hurt, so he held his face expressionless. "Let me see. Maybe it's just sprained. They can hurt as bad as a break," he advised. He reached over to run a hand over her arm. "Mulder, I know the difference between--SHIT SHIT SHIT!!!" she shouted again.

He grimaced, immediately apologetic and gently laid her arm in her lap. "Sorry. And I think you're right. It's broken."

Scully glared at him. "Thank you, Dr. Welby," she hissed.

She watched him, her face openly expressing her curiosity, as he unknotted his tie and then reknotted it at the end, slipping it over her neck and around her shoulder. In a second, her wrist was resting snugly in a brilliantly colored sling of pure silk. "Better?" he asked.

She couldn't stop the smile that came from the deepest part of her being. "Much," she answered. "Now, let me look at that cut."

He waved her off. "It's not my first conk on the head, Scully. Doubt it will be the last. I'm OK. Honest."

"You're bleeding," she pointed out.

He dug around in his back pocket and produced a white handkerchief. "Not even used," he assured her and she took it left handed and wiped at the blood on his forehead.

"It's not that deep, but I wish I could get a better look at your eyes. I can't see a thing in this light." She then turned her attention to the winter landscape outside. "We can't stay here."

"We have to, Scully. Rule number one in winter driving--don't go wandering off in a blizzard. We'll be safe until the State Police find us."

"They aren't going to find us, Mulder--not for a while. This highway was closed, remember? We aren't even supposed to be out here."

"You're the one who wanted to get home tonight," Mulder shot back, and immediately regretted it. Scully had wanted to get back. It was Christmas Eve and she had wanted desperately to spend the night with her family. Bill and Tara were flying in with Scully's nephew, little Matthew. In two days, Matthew would be one-year-old. And Emily would have been gone for one year.

Mulder brushed those thoughts from his mind. Now was not the time. There were more immediate concerns. "Scully. We should stay with the car."

"Look," she directed and pointed to a sign just a few feet from where the car had landed. Mulder squinted out the window, but there was no way he was going to admit that he couldn't make out the sign that was only ten feet from his door.

"So?" he covered and closed his eyes to keep the sign from splitting and dancing in front of his eyes.

"Rest Area--This Exit," she read. "C'mon. We can get there."

"Scully--if we get turned around . . ."

"Mulder," Scully said, opening the door and standing. "I can see it. It's right over there. C'mon. We'll be warmer there. And they probably have vending machines."

Her partner would not be persuaded.

"OK, Mulder, here's the long and the short of it. I have to pee. I refuse to do that squatting at the side of a road in the middle of a blizzard. Unless you want me to--"

"Should we take the bags or leave them here?" Mulder asked, cutting her off before she could continue the threat.

"Leave 'em," she smiled. "And let me help you."

It took longer than either of them thought possible to battle through the wall of snow and wind. Mulder tried to keep Scully behind him, providing her a little shelter from the pounding forces of nature, but he kept going off course, stumbling over the uneven earth and almost falling. Scully knew better than to try and talk to him--he couldn't hear her over the wind and he'd only ignore her efforts to get him to let her lead. Finally, when he'd turned them away from the rest area building, she fought her way in front and pulled him the rest of the way to safety.

The brick structure was lighted, warm and dry. A bank of vending machines stood sentinel over the various maps and travel brochures. A plaque on the wall proclaimed this 'Coal City Rest Area', and further informed them that it was completed in 1989, and that James R. Thompson, was the Governor of the state back then. Women's restrooms were to the left, Men's to the right. Phones were across the room from the vending machines and the vast expanse of floor in the middle of the room was shiny and almost inviting. The only acknowledgment of the season was a four foot tall artificial Christmas tree set in the floor to ceiling window to the left of the glass double doors, decorated with red satin balls and strung with popcorn--probably from one of the packages in the vending machines.

"I believe you needed to 'go'," Mulder rasped out when they'd finally gotten warm enough to speak. He pointed toward the restroom doors.

Scully looked at him curiously for a moment, then remembered her little ploy. She knew they would be safer here, it was all a matter of getting Mulder to see it her way. Now she had to cover her story or he would find out she'd tricked him. "Oh, yeah, right. Thanks. See what there is for dinner?"

In the restroom, she had a chance to remove her arm from the sling and take a look. The wrist was swollen to twice it's size and the skin was already showing the bruising that had resulted. She looked around, hoping to find something to wrap it with, but there was nothing--only sinks and air dryers. "Can't exactly use toilet paper to bind a break," she muttered to herself in the mirror. She replaced the sling, adjusting it so that the wrist was above her heart, and hopefully would reduce the swelling. At least then, it didn't hurt as much.

When she returned, Mulder was sitting on the floor, surrounded by bubble packaging and cups of steaming liquid and squinting at the label on a package of chips. He smiled at her as she sat down beside him. "Well, we have cappuccino, regular and decaf coffee, hot cocoa--but no soup. I was too cold to think about the soft drinks, but there's plenty of them, too. Then there's bagel chips--onion and the cinnamon kind, cheetos, pretzel sticks, cheese popcorn, sour cream and onion potato chips, chocolate chip cookies, rice krispie treats, and I thought I'd let you look over the various candy bars--there were too many of them to decide." She smiled at him in amusement. "Did you buy One of everything, Mulder?"

"Just about," he answered with a grin. "Lunch was a little light."

He closed his eyes and leaned back against the cinderblock wall. "Maybe that was a good thing," he mumbled.

Scully was already in action. "Lean over here, I want to take a look at your head," she ordered. He knew better than to disobey her 'doctor voice', so he did as she directed.

"Are you dizzy?" He nodded. "Vision still blurry?" He shrugged.

"Feeling sick--" He bolted for the Men's Room door.

She hesitated only a moment at the door--they were all alone in this oasis, after all. She found him kneeling in one of the stalls. He held up his hand to stop her approach.

"False alarm," he told her, then laid his head down on his other arm. "You have a concussion," she said and he grunted.

"Took you what--ten years of medical school to make that determination, Agent Scully?" he growled. "Oh, god, I really don't feel good," he added, more to himself than to her.

"Come on, Mulder," she said, pulling at his arm with her left hand. "It's colder in here than in the other room. And I don't want you falling asleep."

"Are you implying that I _could_ fall asleep in a toilet, Scully?" he asked her, reaching for whatever humor might improve the situation.

"Remember, I've seen your choice of motels, Mulder," she shot back and was happy that at least he could still grin at her. She helped him into the other room and settled him back amid their 'dinner'.

Scully searched the vending machines until she found one that contained ginger ale. She deposited the correct change and brought the can back to her partner. "Drink this," she advised. He screwed up his face into a grimace, but did as he was told. After the first few swallows, it seemed to help. "Better?" she asked.

"Much," he told her, giving her a smile. "Scully, I'm really sorry about messing up your plans for tonight--"

Now it was her turn to cut him off with a wave. "Occupational hazard, Mulder. I should have known better than to make plans. If I really wanted to be home, I would have said no to this little trek to the Midwest in the first place. It's OK, don't worry about it."

"But I know how much you wanted to be there--to see Matthew," he said, his eyes conveying his apology. He watched as her eyes darkened at the sound of her youngest godson's name. "He's walking already, huh?" he asked, trying to divert her attention to something happier.

She smiled sadly. "Yeah, apparently. And into everything, according to Tara. Bill was walking before he was one-year-old, too, Mom tells me. I think Charlie was the late bloomer in the family--he was almost fourteen months."

"Sam started walking late. She was about fourteen months, too. I thought girls started walking earlier than boys--"

"I wouldn't know," Scully said abruptly and stood up to examine the soft drink selection more closely.

Mulder kicked himself mentally, he shouldn't have brought up the subject of Christmas in the first place and then moving the discussion to children was only rubbing salt in the still open wound. "I'm sorry, Scully," he whispered.

It had been a year, and his partner was still in mourning. Not so much for the little girl, Emily, although it was grief that shadowed her memories of the child. Scully had known of Emily's existence for only a few days before the child died. No, Scully was still mourning for what Emily was to her--her only chance to have a child of her own. Her only chance to be a mother. Mulder knew that was something Scully hid from him, her desire to have a normal life--a house in the 'burbs with a minivan and a dog and kids and a husband who worked normal hours and commuted to work on the Metro. All that was denied to her because of her relationship, her partnership with him. I'd give it to you if I could, Scully, he vowed to her silently. You know I'd give it to you if I could.

She'd bought a can of diet cola and was now staring at the lonely little tree. He could see her chin start to tremble and knew he'd better do something fast. "So, what did Santa bring me?" he asked, a bit overly cheerful, but hoping that the diversion would work.

She smiled at him. "Santa left your present in my hall closet," she replied.

"So, what _would_ I be opening, if we were anywhere near your hall closet?" he asked again.

"Uh huh. I'm not telling. What did Santa bring me?" she turned the question back at him.

"A yacht," he said, in all seriousness.

"A yacht?" she laughed.

"Yeah, just like the one Ivana Trump got. Only bigger," he continued. "With more flags," he added his eyes twinkling. "Now, what did I get?"

She was almost laughing now and she couldn't resist. "A Lear jet," she replied. "No, I'm sorry--a 747. Outfitted like Air Force One." "With a whirlpool?" he shot back.

"Of course. And a minibar in the stateroom," she said lightly. "And a 31 inch TV/VCR combo."

"Your yacht has a television _wall_," he deadpanned.

"Can't wait to see it," she said with a grin.

"Me neither. Save the taxpayers a load of bucks in car rentals and plane fare. We can fly to all the places we need to go in my plane, or sail to them in your yacht."

"Sounds good to me," she said, coming over to sit next to him. He was leaning back, his eyes drifting shut. "Mulder. Don't fall--"

"--asleep, I know the routine, Dr. Scully," he said, opening his eyes. "I'm OK, Scully. I promise, on my plane and your yacht, not to slip into a coma on you--OK?" He pulled her closer to him, putting his arm around her shoulder, but being careful not to bump her wrist.

"How's it feeling? Hurt bad?" His eyes were dark with his concern.

She shook her head. "It's not that bad, really. I think we've finally found a useful purpose for those monstrosities you wear around your neck," she grinned.

"You dis-ing my ties again, Scully," he growled in mock offense.

"I love your ties, Mulder. Somedays they're the funniest thing I see," she grinned at him. They settled into a companionable silence and Scully fought the yawns that were coming with more frequency than she wanted.

"Take a nap, Scully. I'm not tired, really. I'll be fine," Mulder assured her.

"No, Mulder--I don't want to," she protested.

"Scully, don't make me get out my gun," he growled low, but with smiling eyes. "Get some sleep. You need it and I'll be fine, I promise."

She didn't want to admit it to him, but she was suddenly very sleepy. "Wake me up in an hour--I want to check your head again," she made him promise and then snuggled into the crook of his arm and fell fast asleep.

"Scully. C'mon, Scully, up and atta 'em," Mulder's voice broke through the fog of her dream. "We've got company."

Scully's eyes flew open at that and she rubbed the sleep out of them with her left fist, straining to get them to focus. They were still in the rest stop, but they were no longer alone.

Before her sat a young man, no older than twenty. He was dark haired, with a full beard. A stocking cap was pulled down over his almost shoulder length hair. He was dressed in an old worn parka and blue jeans, a pair of Converse All Stars on his feet. He looked at Scully with something very like terror in his eyes. When Scully looked at the person next to him, she could understand that terror. Sitting next to the boy was a younger girl--still a teenager. She had a dove-like face, soft brown eyes, though now they were clouded by pain. She was similarly dressed, but her parka was unzipped and displayed her prominently bulging middle. Scully guessed she was nine months pregnant--due any day. When the girl's facial features contorted and she let out a low wail, Scully revised that thought--the girl was in labor--now!

"I invited some guests to join us. Looks like they might bring along another one any minute now," Mulder tried to joke, but one look at her partner, and Scully realized that the boy was not the only one in the room about to panic. Her strong, capable partner was close to losing it himself. He leaned over and whispered in her ear. "I called the State Police right after these two showed up at the door. They said it would be morning at the earliest before help can get through to us." Scully nodded and then looked over to the two kids. Mulder waved at them.

"This is Joey Rivera and his wife, Maria. Joey, Maria, this is Dana Scully--she's a doctor. And you'll love this, Scully. They're on their way to Bethlehem." Mulder chuckled for a second at the look on her face. "Bethlehem--Pennsylvania. Joey has a job waiting for him there. Maria isn't due for another two weeks, but it looks like the baby has other ideas. Kids today--so impatient, huh?" he added with a shrug.

"How far apart are the contractions?" Scully asked, all business. "About five minutes," Joey spoke up. "Maria's water broke in the car. We thought we could make it to Pontiac. There's a hospital there. We stopped in Towanda, a ways back, but couldn't get into town. The road was impassable."

"Well, you're in luck, Joey, Maria. I've delivered a couple of babies," Scully said with a reassuring smile. Mulder shot her a questioning look, which she chose to ignore completely. "Let's get you comfortable and see how things are going, shall we?" she asked to Maria. The girl nodded silently, but the look of fear was fading from her eyes. "Mulder, see what you can find around here that we can use. And have Joey help you."

Mulder got up to comply, but Joey seemed hesitant to leave Maria. "It's OK, Joey. Dana's a good doctor--she's treated me plenty of times."

"Were you ever having a baby?" the younger man shot back in anger, then his eyes softened. "Sorry, I'm just--" He stopped before his words could betray him. "I'm a little worried," he amended himself.

"We all are, but it's gonna be all right," Mulder assured him. He took the boy's arm and pulled him up. "Besides, I can't see that great right now--lost my glasses," he lied, "and I'd probably come back with a mop and a bucket when we need towels and blankets." As he walked past Scully, she caught his arm. "Are you OK?" she asked in a whisper.

His eyes were a little too bright for her liking and he wasn't focusing on her face yet, but he gave her a determined smile. "You just worry about Maria--I'm fine," he told her and gave her a wink. She went back to work and he and Joey went to find towels and blankets.

After some clumsy attempts, Mulder was able to pick the lock on the supply closet, and Joey gave him some nervous looks while he was doing it. "So, what line of work are you in?" Mulder asked, figuring small talk would help the situation.

"I'm in construction. I'm a framer," Joey replied. Inside the supply closet the two found several clean rags and a pile of clean, if slightly threadbare blankets. Joey grabbed the blankets and Mulder took as many of the rags as he could carry. "What do you do?" Joey asked, eying Mulder's holster, which was clearly showing through the opening in his suit jacket. Mulder looked down to follow Joey's gaze and smiled. "I'm an FBI agent. Both of us are, actually. I can show you my badge--" Joey flashed him a relieved smile. "No, that's all right. It's not something anybody would lie about," he said lightly. "I mean--not to be disrespectful or nothin'--you just kinda look--well, you know," he hastened to add. Now it was Mulder's turn to smile. "No offense taken."

When they returned to the main room, Scully had helped Maria out of her coat and was using Maria's coat and her own to make a pallet on the floor. "I need your coats, guys," she told them and both of them handed them over. "Mulder, can I speak with you a moment," she said, her eyes wide.

Scully led him to the farthest corner of the room, well out of ear shot. "Just keep smiling all the time we're talking, OK?" she asked with a forced grin. He immediately smiled and nodded.

"It's bad, isn't it?" he asked, his voice completely at odds with his carefree expression.

"The baby is breach," Scully informed him. "And it's not going to wait till morning."

"Then do what you need to do," he replied. "Don't you do c-sections or something when that happens?"

"Yes, Mulder, in a hospital. This is not a hospital. And I have nothing to perform surgery--that Swiss Army pen knife you gave me just will not work in this situation," she said, her smiled faltering for just a second before she pasted it back in place.

"I'm open for suggestions," Mulder hissed.

"We're going to have to turn the baby," Scully said, looking directly into his eyes. She wasn't smiling now, this was serious. "I really hope you're using the Royal 'We' in that sentence, Scully," he said, equally serious.

"Mulder--look at me!" she hissed, hooking the thumb of her left hand in the tie/makeshift sling on her shoulder. He tried, but it was obviously not a clear picture. "OK, bad idea. Let me spell it out for you. I can't do a thing with this arm. I have very little strength in my left arm, definitely not enough to turn a baby and I would have absolutely no leverage. Besides, your arms--"

"Stop right there!" he commanded as forcefully as his whispered voice would allow. "You better not even think of trying that 'your arms are longer' shit with me again, Scully, because the last time was the _last time_ that one worked on me! That time I pulled up the disembodied head of Leonard Betts. There is no telling what could happen this time! Scully, I don't want to press the point, but my eyesight is for shit right now. I'm not in any shape to help you in this."

"Mulder, that girl needs help," Scully seethed. "She turned 17 her last birthday. She could be _your_ daughter, Mulder--if you got sloppy at your high school graduation party." She watched a full array of emotions play across his face. "If we don't help her, Maria and the baby could both die--it's that simple."

"You don't know what you're asking here, Scully," his voice had dropped so low she had to strain to hear it.

She took him by the arm and then reached up to bring his face so that he was looking directly at her. "Yes, I do. Mulder, you are the best person I know for this. You are calm under pressure. You are sure in your movements. I will tell you what you need to do, I'll be your eyes. You be my hands. We'll approach this as team--something we're good at. I trust you, Mulder. You'll do everything I say exactly when I say it and everything will be fine," she finished, giving him a smile that wasn't forced--a gentle smile, just for him.

He closed his eyes, and for a long moment, she thought he'd refuse. Finally, he opened his eyes and looked at her, the gold flecks in his brown eyes appearing as a fire reflecting back at her. "On one condition," he said evenly.

"Name it," she answered.

"When it's over, and they're safe, I get to pass out. And you don't tell me I can't fall asleep, either."

She had to bite her lip hard to keep from laughing in his face. "Done," she said and turned to go back to Maria and Joey. He grabbed her elbow before she could get very far.

"Scully," he said, his voice still very quiet. "Not to cast dispersions or anything, but exactly how many babies _have_ you delivered?" She looked at him, seeing in his eyes nothing but trust, and hope. "Five, Mulder. And one of them was breach."

"It turned out all right?" he asked, but it was more of a statement. "I think she's in third grade about now," Scully said confidently. "Let's do it," Mulder replied, and now his voice held the same confidence hers did.

Scully sat down with Joey and Maria and explained what was happening. Joey went white as a sheet, but remained silent. Maria wasn't talking much, either, just holding Joey's hand with a grip that could crush granite. After assuring them both that everything would be all right, the doctor and her 'assistant' went to scrub up. "Put the water on hot, full force, and wash for no less than five minutes, Mulder," Scully directed. "Then hit the button on the dryer with your elbow--not your hands. When you're finished, kick the door with your foot. Joey can open it for you so you don't have to touch the knob. Just try not to touch anything," she directed.

"Is this how Anthony Edwards started?" he deadpanned and the look she gave him only made him smile all the more. "See you in delivery, Dr. Scully," he called over his shoulder.

"And people always ask me why I went into pathology," she sneered and pushed open the Women's restroom door.

It had been thirty minutes of pushing and they hadn't gotten any farther than when they started. Mulder was extremely relieved when Scully told him that he'd be pushing _on the outside_ of Maria's stomach, not the inside. Even so, he knew it was hurting her and Scully could see his eyes well up every time she directed him to try again. Not to mention the constant leaning over was turning his face an interesting shade of pale green. Maria was being a little trooper, but she was starting to fade. Scully wasn't sure which of the two of them, Mulder or Maria, was likely to give up on her first. It turned out to be Joey.

"Look, this isn't working," Joey said in exasperation.

"Joey, it takes time," Scully advised him. "We have to be patient." "But it's hurting her!" he cried again. "I don't want her hurt anymore!"

Mulder pushed back on his heels, panting a minute. "Time out," he told Scully. "Joey, let's get some more of those rags out of the closet."

Scully had no idea what went on in the closet, but when the two men returned, Joey was wiping his nose on his sleeve, with a renewed determination in his eyes. Mulder looked a little misty eyed, too, but he nodded to Scully and indicated that they were ready to take up the fight again. Scully gave him a smile and Maria seemed to relax a little when Joey took up his place holding her in his arms.

"This time, we're going to wait until the next contraction, and use the force of the muscles to our advantage," Scully advised Mulder. He kneeled next to Maria, his hands gently on the sides of her stomach, ready for the signal to push. "Here we go," Scully said, and everyone held their breath, as Mulder tried once more to get the baby in a head down position.

"Please, God, let this work," Scully prayed just under her breath and almost as the thought left her lips, the baby seemed to roll under Mulder's hands and shifted into perfect position. It shocked Mulder so much that he was rocked back on his backside. Joey laughed out loud and even Maria giggled a little at his antics. "Good work, Dr. Mulder," Scully congratulated him.

"Wait till they get my bill," Mulder teased and got another giggle from Maria. It was music to their ears.

The night was far from over, and the contractions were now stronger and closer together. Scully watched Joey fight the panic he had to be feeling, and ached for Maria, who took each new contraction with a strength of will that seemed infinite. After about an hour, Maria finally spoke.

"Dana, I have to . . . it feels like I have to--" she looked over at Mulder, embarrassment coloring her cheeks.

"That's the urge to push, Maria, and it's perfectly normal," Scully assured her with a smile. "But we might not be ready for that part, yet. Mulder, I think you and Joey might be a bit more comfortable getting us some cold drinks right about now while I check and see how far we've progressed."

Both men were grateful for the distraction. In just a few minutes, Scully called them back.

"She's fully dilated. I'm gonna let her push. Now, Mulder, you're going to have to come down here and give me a hand--I can't do this as a lefty."

Mulder quickly shifted so that he was almost sitting in Scully's lap. On the next contraction, Maria pushed with all her might.

"Great job, sweetie," Scully crooned. "A few more like that, and we'll have to get a table for five at breakfast." Joey gave Maria's shoulders a squeeze and whispered something in her ear. She smiled up at him, eyes full of love. It brought tears that Scully quickly wiped away, but not before Mulder saw them and nodded in agreement.

Five more good pushes and the baby's head crowned. Scully moved aside and let Mulder take center stage. She thought briefly about letting Joey do the honors, but she could see that he had his hands full right where he was with Maria in his arms. On the next push, the head crowned and a look of pure amazement came over Mulder. He seemed almost to be in a trance, fixated on the tiny crown of dark wet curls peeking out at him.

Another push and the head was free. Scully started to direct him, but Mulder instinctively supported the head, grasping the shoulder that came next and finally, after a terrific push, the rest of the tiny infant. Tears were running down her partner's cheeks, but Scully was having a hard time seeing them through her own. All four of them were grinning like idiots.

"Thank God," Joey said, laughing and crying at once. Then he leaned down and kissed Maria, who was laughing and crying as well. "Thank God," he said again.

"I can second that," Scully said, helping Mulder wrap the baby boy in a clean, white towel. She looked over at Mulder for a moment, seeing the look of rapture in his eyes, and smiled at him. "You're pretty darned good at this, partner."

He looked up at her, his eyes sparkling. "I can't believe it, Scully. He's so tiny. He's so beautiful. I just can't believe I helped in this. I think I'm dreaming."

"You won't when the dry cleaners can't get the blood out of that shirt," Scully joked, but she too was having a hard time keeping her emotions under control. It was a miracle, and she'd been part of it.

It was a wonderful feeling, and yet, it left her with an incredible ache in the very pit of her stomach. This is Maria and Joey's miracle, she thought. I won't get a miracle like this--ever. She wondered sadly if Mulder ever would, either. The two of them were destined to be alone, together, but still alone--forever.

She tamped down those feelings angrily. This wasn't the time or the place. Smiling through her tears, she helped Maria get comfortable, wrapping the girl and the baby in the blankets.

"So, what are you naming this big guy?" Mulder asked, having just bought a soft drink and a bag of cheetos for the proud new father. "We were going to name him after Maria's father. His name would be Jesus Rivera." Joey pronounced the name Ya-sus, but Mulder sputtered on his coffee just the same at the coincidence. Joey didn't seem to notice. "But now, well, how about Fox Dana Rivera?" he asked Maria.

"Ahhh, I think the kid would be happier being named after his grandfather--take my word for it," Mulder quickly intervened. "Then Chewie it is," Joey said and Maria nodded in contended agreement.

After tending to mother, father and son, Scully found Mulder huddled up against the wall near the phones. He looked absolutely worn out.

"Hey, how are you doing?" she asked.

"You promised I could pass out," he whined. "I tried, but I can't get my eyes to cooperate. They just won't stay closed."

"They will, just give yourself a minute to relax." She pulled his face closer so she could look into his eyes. "How's the head?"

"It's down to a 'Skinner just read my expense report' sized headache, actually," he admitted.

"That's the euphoria that hits when you've fought a battle and won," Scully told him, smiling. "It will wear off before too long and your head will start to pound. But I don't see why you shouldn't be able to fall asleep. I'll keep watch--you need some rest."

"You're as tired as I am--you have to be," Mulder objected.

"Nah, I'm on an adrenaline high that won't go away for a while. I've delivered babies before, remember. I'll be circling the planet for several hours. Go ahead, before I change my mind and make you stay awake."

Mulder slid down the wall without further protest and using his suit jacket as a pillow, closed his eyes. In a few moments, she heard his shallow breathing--he was already asleep. By the time she got back to check on the other three, Joey had joined Mulder in dreamland.

Maria sat quietly crooning a lullaby to the little boy in her arms. Scully's arms suddenly felt leaden, aching deep in her bones. She swallowed back bitter tears. Then Maria looked up and into her eyes.

"Dana," she said softly. "You should know by now that miracles do happen." The voice wasn't that of a frightened seventeen-year-old girl who had just given birth. It sounded older, and much wiser.

"I can't have this miracle, Maria. It's not possible. Not for me," Dana sobbed, no longer able to hold back her grief.

Maria reached out and touched her cheek. "Oh, but it is, my child. It will be. You have to have faith. Don't place your trust in mere mortals, Dana. Put your faith in God and all things are possible--even the extremes of possibilities."

Scully swallowed again, and wiped at her tears. As her eyes cleared, it appeared that Maria's face had changed. It was familiar, a face she'd seen a thousand times, smiling down on her from a marble altar in a church many miles away. "Mary?" Scully gasped.

Mary nodded. "My son always keeps his promises, Dana," she smiled. "Remember my cousin, Elizabeth. She was told she'd never have children and she gave birth to John the Baptist. Never give up hope. One day, you too will have a miracle sleeping in your arms." She then looked over to where Mulder was sleeping. "A miracle for both of you," she added with a smile.

It was Scully's turn to laugh and cry at once. When she wiped her eyes again, the young girl was back, looking at her strangely. " Dr. Scully? Are you all right?" she asked.

Scully blinked and then nodded. "I'm fine," she answered. "Just a little tired. I think it's time all of us got a little shut eye, don't you?"

Maria smiled and nodded, snuggling down into the blankets, baby Chewie wrapped in her arms, Joey with his arms around them both. Scully watched the three of them, sleeping so peacefully. She turned her gaze over to her partner and smiled. Quietly, so as not to wake anyone, she moved over next to him and settled down beside him. Sleep came quickly.

It was seven in the morning when the four adults awoke to the sounds of a hungry infant and the drone of snow plows outside their door. The State Police arrived about ten minutes later, and two officers helped Maria and the baby into the back of the squad car, with Joey bringing up the rear. Maria reached out and kissed Dana and Mulder, thanking them both for all they'd done. Joey at first stuck out his hand, but ended up taking Mulder into a fierce bear hug. "I'll never forget what you did, sir. Never."

Mulder wiped at his eyes again, not for the first time that morning. "Just give us a call in 20 years. Scully'll be Director by then and we'll get Chewie into the Academy--maybe he can work on the X-Files." Joey looked like he was about to ask what that entailed when the officer informed them that they were expected at the hospital in Pontiac. A second squad car agreed to take the two agents to a small clinic, in Towanda, which was closer.

It was close to noon before they got Scully's wrist cast and in a sling. Mulder was diagnosed with a mild concussion and told to take it easy on the trip home. Although both of them tried, neither of them could find out what had happened to the Riveras.

One of the troopers dropped them off outside another car rental agency--the only one in fifty miles that was open on Christmas Day. They were back on the road before one in the afternoon.

Mulder was at the wheel and Scully was on her cell phone. He wasn't really listening to the conversation, his thoughts were still back with the Riveras and the events of the night before. Finally, what she was saying broke through the mist of his thoughts.

"Yes, I'm sure of the name. R-I-V-E-R-A. A woman and a newborn. Yes, last night--at the rest stop. Coal City. The Illinois State Police picked them up about eight this morning and drove them to your facility. You are the only hospital in Pontiac, aren't you? Well, did anyone matching that description arrive at your maternity ward this morning? All right. Yes, thank you. And a Merry Christmas to you, too." She disconnected the line and put her phone back in her pocket, a frown on her face.

"What did they say?" Mulder asked.

"They said that no one has been admitted this morning. No mother, no baby. It's been absolutely quiet since midnight." She was chewing on her lower lip and Mulder could tell she was upset.

"Scully, if you need evidence--I have a bloody shirt in my duffel bag that should prove our story," he said after a moment's thought.

"No, Mulder. That's all right. Joey probably just convinced the troopers that they wanted to get on to Bethlehem. I'm sure they're all fine."

He kept his eyes on the road, but shot her a furtive glance. "Scully, I know how much that must have hurt--seeing Maria and the baby--"

She turned toward him and put her hand on his arm. "It's all right, Mulder. By now, we should start figuring out that miracles do happen. Even in the most extreme possibility. Even to us." She graced him with a smile that rivaled Maria's after giving birth.

"I can't argue with that, Scully," he told her, and turned his attention to getting them home.

the end.

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