Daniel/The Couch series
by Macspooky and Ten


01 A Christmas Miracle 02 The Couch 03 Dreams of a New Father
04 Making It 05 Making It II: Making It Legal 06 Spreading Good News
07 Unexpected Arrivals 08 Old Home 09 Housewarming
10 A Chip Off The Old Fox 11 Bedbugs 12 The Joys of Boys...
13 Dreams Fulfilled 14 Father's Day Unveiled... 15 Snapshots

Title: 01. A Christmas Miracle
Author: Macspooky
Rating: PG
Classification: Romantic in nature
Disclaimer: The X-Files and the characters therein belong not to me but to Chris Carter, 1013, Fox and probably some others. No copyright infringement is intended here and no money is being made. I'm just having fun. I finished this story on December 20, 1997.

Summary: Fox Mulder has a lot to think about as Dana has to spend a Christmas Eve in the hospital.


Fox Mulder looked at the tiny redheaded woman lying in the hospital bed. His whole life was about to change again, and he wished he could spare her what was to come and take the burden on to himself, but there was no way. She had to do what she had to do. He hoped she wouldn't find it too hard although somehow for her, nothing seemed to come easily.

He bent over and kissed her forehead gently.

"How are you feeling?" he asked her softly.

"I'm fine," she replied. "I just want to be home. It's Christmas Eve and I didn't want to spend it in a hospital."

"I know, babe, but things don't always work out according to plan. You know what Dr. M'Benga said. We need to watch you carefully..."

"All that work decorating the tree...our first one together..."

He grinned. "Yeah, but it was sure fun what we did under it afterwards wasn't it?"

"Yes, Fox William Mulder, it was wonderful, and probably why I'm here..." she smiled at him and he noticed that she winced and glanced at the clock on the wall.

"Try to get some sleep, love," he said tucking the sheet up over her a little more and kissing her again. He sat back and watched as she closed her eyes and her breathing became deep and regular. She had actually fallen asleep. Her ability to do that nearly anywhere never ceased to amaze him, but she had told him it was a survival mechanism for any med student and intern.

How things had changed from last Christmas when she had gone to San Diego to visit her family. The vacation had turned into a nightmare for her, and when she had finally called him, it had been for him to come and act as a witness on her behalf so she could adopt a very sick little girl named Emily. The adoption had never happened. Her little girl had died a few days later leaving Dana empty and alone, her only chance to have a child gone.

He had held her all the way home on the plane. It had been a surprise to him that she had let him. She hadn't even wanted to stay with her family anymore. She had wanted him to take her back to Washington. Dana didn't talk a lot about it, but he knew none of her kin had been very supportive of her. Dana didn't have to because Maggie Scully had come to him later and told him. She felt terrible. Mrs. Scully had thought her daughter was having emotional problems. She had been so looking forward to going to visit her son and her new grandchild, to finally having some happiness that she hadn't been able to deal with her daughter. Maggie hadn't wanted to forgive herself, but she had cried in Fox's arms and he had told her that there was nothing to forgive. She was human after all. Maggie and Dana had worked things out as he had known they would. They loved each other. He had grown closer to Maggie than ever. It took a wonderful human being to admit weakness and deal with it, and Maggie was nothing if not that.

Still, six weeks after they had returned home and Dana's building had caught fire because some idiot had been smoking in bed and had a heart attack, and Dana had lost everything, she hadn't wanted to go stay with Maggie. She had wanted to stay with him. Closer to work had been her excuse and he had believed it. It had started out that way, however, their relationship had been changing since her cancer. She had acknowledged it in her mind. He had avoided the issue. Of course, he wasn't living in the same apartment anymore. He had discovered that he couldn't tolerate being there so he had rented another...same complex...different building and one that had two bedrooms although the basic layout was the same. He had griped about paying extra rent for the extra bedroom, but then she had come to stay and he had been glad for the space. Oh, she had looked for apartments. They had looked together. Nothing had seemed right though. Her stay stretched out. Suddenly curtains appeared where none had been before. A pretty matching set of dishes miraculously ended up in the cupboard in place of his cracked thrift store crockery, and for whatever crazy reason, the domestic arrangement had worked between them. His shabby looking apartment had become a home.

The sex...no lovemaking...hadn't come right away. That had taken awhile. And, when it had happened it hadn't happened in a particularly romantic or passionate way. He had been plugged into the TV. So what else was new? He had been watching a Charlie Chan Festival on a Friday night on AMC. She had brought him a bowl of popcorn and sat with him and they had settled in to watch the cheesy old racist murder mysteries. He had slipped his arm around her. She had leaned on his shoulder. They had munched popcorn. Her hair smelled pretty. They began to kiss and then neck like teenagers and suddenly they were making love.

Just thinking about that night stirred desire in him as he watched her sleep. It was pretty damned tame in retrospect, but God it had been good. He hadn't known it was possible to love a woman so much or to be loved so much, to feel so as one with another human being. Later she had laid on top of him on the couch beneath an afghan purring like a kitten and asked him where he had learned to make love like that. Well, he didn't feel he'd done anything particularly great except spend a lot of time with her in the early stages. Her confession that no one had ever satisfied her before had shocked the hell out of him, but before he had a chance to pursue it, she had been sound asleep. He grinned. It had been nice having his ego stroked, and he was just selfish enough to be a little bit pleased that her other lovers had been idiots. Yeah...it had gone from best to even better from there...he and his tiny redhead...and as the days wore on, it had grown far less tame.

And then, she had gotten sick.

He turned toward her. She had stirred in her sleep. He heard a low moan and her eyes opened.

"You okay?" he asked glancing at his watch.

"Yeah...it kind of hurts..." Her eyes drifted shut again.

Yes, and then she had gotten sick. She had come down with a cold that didn't go away. The nose bleeds started, albeit minor ones. She began to feel tired all the time and couldn't keep food down. Headaches became constant.

And he had almost hit her. She had made an appointment with Dr. Zuckerman and the only way he had found out was that a message had been left on the answering machine that her tests had come back early and could she come to the office that afternoon.

They had had their first real fight. He had been furious that she would shut him out. She got angry in return and told him she didn't need him. He had nearly hit her but had stopped himself ramming his hand into the wall instead. She had threatened to leave, and then they had been in each other's arms crying. They had gone to Zuckerman's office together, both terrified. Some of the test results had been positive. Dr. Zuckerman introduced her to Dr. Anandi M'Benga and they had been working together ever since to make certain that Dana got the best care.

Dana woke up with a sudden howl.

"Fox..." she wailed...

"Oh, God...Dana...what..." he was on his feet in a minute.

"It hurts... it hurts so bad...something is tearing me apart...It isn't supposed to be this way..."

"Hold on... hold on, Scully..." he ran and got the nurse. "Dr. M'Benga was standing at the nurses station and they flew into the room together..."

"Ah...now didn't I tell you it was a good idea to keep you where we could watch you..." said Dr. M'Benga in her musical voice.

Dana let another cry escape her and then clenched her teeth.

Dr. M'Benga and the nurse exchanged glances and ripped the sheet off of her.

"No time..." said Dr. M'Benga. She began to don protective gear.

"Agreed..." said the nurse.

"Help me, please..." panted Dana. Suddenly she drew her legs back and in an act as old as time, her body gave a mighty push. An indignant scream was heard. It had been warm and suddenly it was very cold. Warm was better. Warm was nicer. It had been dark and suddenly it was light. Light could be painful to the eyes.

"Well, hello little darlin..." said the nurse with a grin as Dr. M'Benga lifted a screaming bundle into the air.

"And a Merry Christmas to you too," said the beautiful African woman. "You've got a beautiful son...and I don't think I've ever seen more hair on a baby..."

They lay the infant on his mother's chest. Dana looked at the baby and then at her husband and tears ran down her cheeks. Her son had come into the world at 12:01 on Christmas morning.

"I love you, Mrs. Mulder," he said softly choking up and wiping away the tears on her cheeks.

Ever since the day that Fox Mulder had sat in Dr. Zuckerman's office and the man had grinned at him and said, "Oh, something is growing alright but it isn't a tumor...I don't care who you think harvested your eggs, Dr. Scully, they missed one..." he had been preparing himself for this moment. He thought he had, but he realized there was no way to prepare.

"Do you want to cut the cord, Mr. Mulder...Mr. Mulder?" Dr. M'Benga was smiling at him as she snapped him out of his trance.

"Oh...yeah...chord...cut..." He took the appropriate tool and did what he had to do, and suddenly sat down heavily in a nearby chair. Hey, he'd done it. Gone through labor and delivery and hadn't even passed out. And, it hadn't even been that hard on Dana. Only seven hours all together and only a few bad pains. Wow. For once something had gone okay.

"We have to take the baby and finish cleaning him up a bit more in a minute," said the nurse, "but you might want to hold him first."

Mulder nodded and they placed his son in his arms for the very first time.

His eyes filled with tears.

"Hello, Daniel Fox Mulder. Merry Christmas and Happy Birthday. Hey, already life is not fair...Christmas and Birthday on the same day...Well, don't you worry. Daddy will make sure you don't get gypped out of any presents..."

He heard Dana chuckle from the bed. His heart was filled with love for his wife and the tiny infant.

Here he was, Spooky Mulder, holding his very own Christmas miracle.

The End

Title: 02. The Couch
Author: Macspooky
Category: Guess you'd have to classify this as a romance.
Distribution: I don't care who archives it where as long as my name remains attached. I finished it on March 24, 1998.
Disclaimer: All the usual disclaimers still apply. The X-Files belong to Fox, Chris Carter, 1013 and others. I am just borrowing them and no money is being made by me. No copyright infringement is intended and I hope I am encouraging new fans to watch the show.
Rating: I am going to rate this story a very strong R for sexual content although I am not terribly descriptive. There is also some bad language that every six-year-old has heard I'm sure.

Summary: This fic deals with the conception of Mulder's child and the ensuing destruction of the famous leather couch.

Author's notes: I want to thank G. Hill and Vickie Moseley for beta reading this for me and I hope that I caught all the tense errors! I wrote this after having received a challenge to do so from Vickie.


Dana's Narrative

I couldn't believe that I was pregnant. I mean it's like it just wouldn't quite sink in. I had gone through so much hell when I found out that I couldn't have children, and then as I had watched Emily die, I found myself in hell. I didn't think I would ever come out of it. Then, just when I was beginning to get over it, if you can get over that kind of thing, my house burned down. I'd hardly been able to salvage anything at all. It had gone up in a horrible blaze and I'd found myself wondering why I was still here on earth.

I don't know what I would have done without Mulder at that point. Basically speaking, he took me in and coped for me. I mean I coped but he was there to lean on. I could have stayed with my mom of course, but she has looked so worn out lately, worn out with Dana and her problems, and I didn't want to be a burden.

Now I sat on the couch in the apartment I shared with Mulder and stared at the wall. I was pregnant. I was going to be a mommy after all. I carried the seed of life within me, a seed planted by the crazy man, the lunatic who I feel as though I have loved forever. Yes, I was pregnant...three months pregnant. I'd gone to see Dr. Zuckerman thinking that the cancer had come back. I had a cold that wouldn't quit. I felt tired and nauseated and I was having some pretty heavy duty nosebleeds again. I found out I was expecting a child instead.

Mulder is ecstatic. I wouldn't have believed it of a man so married to his work. He's been like a little kid since we found out. Of course, he is terrified too, but he is trying to hide it for my sake. He took me out to dinner, most of which I threw up later but it was good while it lasted. He proposed marriage and I agreed insane person that I am, and then we passed a toy store and I had to stop him from buying toys already. This apartment is too small to rush into scads of toys. Oh, there is an extra bedroom and all so the baby will have a nursery, and there is one empty corner for a playpen, but with two of us here, we are already pretty packed, especially since we got the new couch that I am now sitting on.

Now getting a new couch with Mulder was quite an experience. He...no we...really needed it though. It was like this. We'd been living together for a few weeks since the fire. I don't mean we'd been together together. We had been roommates. I had moved into his second bedroom. I'd even bought some lovely used furniture...Ethan Allen...solid pine...for a song...but I digress. I was looking for a place but nothing had come up that I really liked. Somehow, his highness and I were managing to make it work in spite of the fact that I am a neatnik and he is a slob.

Well, we were faced with the prospect of a weekend off. It was Saturday night, we were basically bored having done all the grocery shopping and run all the errands, and there was a Charlie Chan Marathon on TV. I love those old movies. I know they are stupid and racist by today's standards but I still enjoy them. They exist for the sole purpose of mindlessly entertaining Dana Scully. We ate dinner and settled on the couch with a bowl of popcorn. Of course, we promptly started arguing about "who dunnit." I was right of naturally. By the second film in the marathon, the popcorn was gone, the coffee was gone and I was leaning my head on his shoulder. His couch was the most uncomfortable damned thing and none of the chairs were any better.

The next thing I knew he was kissing me. In a few moments I wasn't sure who was kissing whom anymore, but a hand had slipped under my blouse and discovered that my bra was a front snap. I'm not exactly built like Dolly Parton and don't need a hell of a lot in the way of support, so it wasn't the most difficult to undo. I was wearing a skirt and as soon as I ended up underneath him, where by that point I very much wanted to be, it was easy enough to pull that up which he did with a practiced hand.

I made some stupid comment about never having done it without a condom.

"Me either," had been his reply.

Then I made an idiotic comment about that making us virgins.

I think he said something equally dumb in return, but by that time I wasn't thinking about it anymore. I was thinking about what Fox Mulder was putting inside of me and you had better believe me when I tell you there was a lot to put. Well, it had been five years for me, but I hadn't forgotten the moves and he sure as the devil knew them. We gave that couch one hell of a workout. I mean those springs bounced and I can testify to the fact that my scream...make that screams... reverberated around the apartment very nicely, and I've never been a screamer. I, no, make that we, made so much noise that when we were finished the neighbor banged on the wall.

Jeez, that really pissed me off. It was embarrassing. I raised my fist and banged back and told him to get the hell used to it. A muffled, "Fuck you," came back through the wall at which point I screamed in return, "He will...good and hard."

By this point poor Mulder was laying on top of me laughing his head off. He had always heard of my reputation as the Ice Queen and I sure as hell hadn't been acting like any freakin Ice Queen on that couch. Somehow or another we managed to switch places so that I was on top. It required a lot of wriggling. I think he kind of wanted me to just lay there except that not very long after that I detected some stirrings that I hadn't expected. I guess it was the wriggling. I mean he should have been on empty and I should have been on full if you know what I mean, but apparently there was more in the old gas tank so we started all over again. I made it a point to scream really loud and to create a great deal of creaking from the furniture. Amazing, what I thought was big when I was on the bottom felt even more so from on top. I have a degree in physics and one day maybe I'll work it all out scientifically. Anyway, eventually we were both so satisfied we couldn't move. I just kind of lay my head down on his chest and he pulled an afghan over me and we both fell asleep. We didn't hear diddly from the neighbor during round two either. Maybe he had given up.

I was actually up before Mulder in the morning. I slid off of him, admired his morning hard on but decided to let him sleep. I needed a shower desperately and coffee. Once I was clean and had washed my hair, I came out and put some on to brew in the Mr. Coffee. Boy did I feel good. My body was singing. I couldn't remember ever feeling so good. Then again, I could never really remember sex that good. For me it had been a shock. I had never had an orgasm before, not really. For Dana Scully the earth had never really moved. Last night had been an earthquake of 10 on the Richter scale a fact that had shocked Mulder and would probably make him impossible to live with. Anyway, if that is what it did for you, then I wanted more...a lot more...frequently.

Mulder got up and made me breakfast. I hate to say this but the man is not a bad cook. He makes one fantastic pan of scrambled eggs, and I could see that he felt really good too...yeah...really good. He looked relaxed and Mulder never looks relaxed. I wanted to catch the morning news show so while he sat at his ugly dining room table with the paper I took the rest of my coffee into the living room. When I cried out he was there in 10 seconds or less looking for his weapon.

Fox Mulder's beloved leather couch was, basically, no more. There was a huge tear in each of the cushions. I was afraid he would never speak to me again. I know he loved that damn couch.

"No big deal, Scully," he said. "We'll turn the cushions over."

Then I was sure he'd like it...what we'd done last night I mean. If he thought it was worth sacrificing this couch for, he must have thought it was great.

"We can't," I explained.

"Why not?"

"Because the other side is torn too. I found that out when I cleaned along with $17.87 in change which is in a jar in your closet, at least three pounds of sunflower seeds, and a used condom...bright green..." Hmm...maybe it had been better with the other woman. Nah, I wouldn't let myself believe that.

He looked vaguely alarmed. He knew that I would not have liked the condom business but that was before my time...before last night...so what could I do? At least I knew he was careful right?

"Oh..." he said. "Well, we'll buy a new couch. The stores are open today. That one came from the Salvation Army anyway."

Only Mulder would find a leather couch at the Salvation Army. Sheesh. He looked relieved when I did not pursue the matter of the condom.

He hesitated for a moment and then said the stores were open late. In a way, we had been a bit awkward with each other all morning. He had looked as though he wanted to kiss me but hadn't. I had wanted t tell him that I was deliriously happy but had kept my mouth shut.

"So?"

"So, let's go test out the bed to make sure we don't need to replace it too." With that, he picked me up and undid everything I had done in the shower that morning but that was okay. The awkwardness was gone. The mattress was nice and firm and the headboard had these really neat slats that you could grab on to and...well never mind. It was a nice bed. What we did in it was even nicer. After we had finished it's status had changed to well-used bed. After lunch and another shower which we shared, it was off to the store to look at couches.

I was terrified. Mulder was so damned eccentric I couldn't begin to imagine what he might want and what could I say? It wasn't my apartment. He had screwed my brains out but he hadn't said a word about making the arrangement permanent. He hadn't even said he loved me although I knew he did. For all I knew I could end up moving out the following week or staying for ever. If I moved out the following week the bright yellow leather sofa he gravitated towards immediately wouldn't have been a problem, but if I stayed forever as I wanted too, it would drive me insane.

"Um...couldn't we just buy a canary instead?" I asked. He snorted and headed toward a purple one that made the yellow one look like the epitome of loveliness. My heart was in my mouth when suddenly something caught his eye and he left me standing there.

I knew it was love at first sight. It was forest green, velvet, modern with a high back...a sectional and he was like a kid in a toy shop. It had an armrest that came down the middle and he pointed out to me that it even had a phone jack for the laptops built in. It was a double recliner and a sofa bed. It had everything. It was huge.

"Do you think it will fit?" he asked.

"You'll make it fit, Mulder," I replied. "You're good at that."

He laughed. "I've had recent experience. But do you like it, Dana?"

I didn't know what to say. "It's your apartment," I replied softly. "You live there. If it is what you want..." I knew immediately that I had said the wrong thing and hurt him. I could have kicked myself. "I love it," I replied changing tactics.

"It isn't my apartment anymore," he said gently. "It's ours...isn't it?"

"Yes, it's ours...let's go for it. I should get the insurance check soon..."

"No, the couch is on me," he grinned happy once again.

"No, we're on the couch or we will be," I replied. The damned cell phone rang. It was Skinner. Some doggone politician had managed to croak in a whorehouse and they wanted Dana Scully to do the autopsy. I hated cases like this because if he'd been offed I'd be under pressure to keep it quiet and I wouldn't keep quiet. Still they had called the Bureau in. The thing is, I was better than most at finding causes of death. Well, maybe it would just be a heart attack. I told Mulder I had to go. He reached down and kissed me goodbye. I hadn't expected that from him. We were going to have to be very careful around the office and even in public.

Frohike, Byers and Langley carried out the old sofa claiming that they were going to get it fixed. Yeah right. If I had known I had gotten pregnant on that couch, I might have cried when it left. I know that Mulder almost did although he was trying not to make a big deal about it. I don't think I'll ever forget the night on that old thing. It is seared into my memory forever. Mulder and I have had a lot of sex in a lot of places since then and it has been good, but that night was special for both of us.

The new couch came the next day. Mulder managed to be missing on delivery day of course leaving all the hard work to me, but then again that was Mulder for you. He had gone hog wild too. I had to laugh. He got not only the couch, but a matching recliner and end tables, and then my heart swelled with love because he had also gotten the matching dining table and chairs and a small hutch where I could put some pretty things. He hadn't told me. It was a surprise. I wish he would have been here. I would have kissed him right there in front of the delivery men. I knew all I'd need was some new curtains, and we would have a real home. We christened it that night. Boy did we ever. I was reluctant because it was so nice and new, but when Mulder really wants something, he has this way of getting you to go along. It's amazing what you can do in a recliner too. We couldn't leave that unbaptized. My butt is no longer bruised from doing it on the dining room table, thank God, but Mulder told me he thought it looked kind of nice black and blue...my but that is, not the table. I didn't notice the bruises happening when I was lying there with him above me. What he did to me on that table felt too damned good. There is nothing you can do with a hutch or at least nothing either of us could think of. Oh well.

I'm pregnant now and I can't remember a time when I've ever been happier. We are going to mom's tomorrow for Sunday dinner. Billy is going to be there. Mulder and I are going to break the news then. I know mom will be ecstatic. I am going to be delighted by brother Billy's discomfiture. Then next week we are going to Las Vegas to be married in the Elvis Chapel. I surprised him with the tickets. He was like a little kid when he heard about my plans. He even promised me that we could have Father McHugh marry us in the Church when we got back.

Last time we saw the old couch it was on the street outside the Lone Gunmen's office. It was not salvageable. It seems a bunch of the springs broke and poked Frohike in the ass. He had to go to the hospital for stitches, poor guy. I am trying to be sympathetic and adult, but every time I think about it, I laugh.


Fox's Narrative

My God, all I can do is sit on this couch and stare at the wall across the way. I have my laptop plugged in to the built in phone jack. I promised myself I would work, but I can't. Dana is pregnant. That wasn't supposed to be possible, but they say miracles do happen. I know I'm grinning like a fool. It's all I've been doing since I found out earlier today. This morning started out with a terrible fight, the first since we've been living together, when I found out she had made an appointment with Dr. Zuckerman. I nearly hit her I was so angry with her. I guess I couldn't believe that she would try to shut me out when we were both afraid that she was experiencing a relapse of her cancer.

It's a darn good thing I didn't. Dana isn't sick. She's pregnant...oh yeah. Yes...the thought is nearly is good as the climax I had when I got her that way! Of course, there is never any excuse for hitting a woman. I really scared myself. That is not my thing, not at all, but fortunately, I didn't. I saw dad hit mom once...Anyway, when Zuckerman told us that it wasn't a tumor growing I thought I would pass out. She looked at me for a moment as though she thought I might not think a baby was a good thing and for once I said the right thing and reassured her.

Now all I can do is stare. She just went out to the store to get some skim milk. I didn't want to let her go. I just want to wrap her in a bubble for the next six months, but I knew if I said anything she'd shoot me and this time she'd aim to kill. She doesn't like to be protected.

A part of me wants to go into the office tomorrow and walk into the bullpen and tell all those sons of bitches that I knocked up the Ice Queen. It's a guy thing I know. Boy would that make their mouths drop open...Spooky Mulder knocked up Dana Scully. She'd really shoot to kill then though and I'd be the target so I guess I'll have to restrain myself. I better not ever use that phrase around her either. It's crass. Guys like crass, but she sure as hell doesn't. I guess she lived with her brothers too many years and was very glad to escape it.

The live-in arrangement was not supposed to be permanent. I told her she could stay here until she found a place after her apartment building burned down. I was surprised when she agreed. I figured it would last a week, maybe two at the most but apartments are hard to get these days in this area and she was holding out for Old Town.

Don't ask me how, but we actually discovered we could live together. Skinner had made her take a week off to deal with everything that needed to be dealt with, so when she wasn't shopping for essentials or on the phone with insurance companies, she was cleaning my house. Before long she had it shining and I discovered I liked it. She actually got me organized and I decided I didn't like to be alone. Doing laundry wasn't half bad when you had someone to do it with. Grocery shopping was less a chore when there were two.

Anyway, it worked. It's still working.

Dana surprised me in a lot of ways. She actually went to a moving sale two floors down and bought a bedroom set...used. I didn't think that was her style. I said so. She told me the idiot rednecks were selling Ethan Allen furniture for $200 and she wasn't about to let that get away. Well, I didn't have a clue. That's okay. I don't really need a clue about the brand names of furniture. Anyway, we pushed and hauled and got it into my apartment and she disappeared to buy curtains for the second bedroom. What is it with women and curtains anyway? And, the woman still owes me for all that hauling a shoving...big time.

Anyway, I digress. We were faced with a weekend off. By Saturday night we were bored having done all the chores that needed doing. We ate dinner and I loaded the dishwasher while she made coffee and some popcorn and then we settled in for a Charlie Chan filmfest on AMC. I couldn't believe it when she told me she liked those old movies. I was in hog heaven though. I wanted to watch and had been nervous that she might make fun of me. I know. I know. It is my place and my TV, but Dana can tease sometimes, another after-effect of having brothers. No, let me amend that. It was my place. It is our place now, our home soon to be shared by a little newcomer.

Anyway, we had a good time with the filmfest. We argued over "who dunnit." I was right of course. Dana has never liked my old leather couch and I guess she wasn't really comfortable so she rested her head on my shoulder and we finished the popcorn. I don't know what happened next exactly. I know I kissed her. It was just supposed to be a brief kiss, but the next thing I knew, my hand was under her blouse and her bra was unstrapped, and I was on top of her humping...excuse me...making love to her after we had this conversation about condoms that was too silly to be believed.

My, God, can that woman scream! I never would have thought it possible. What a turn on! After all the years that I had known the cool rational Dana Katherine Scully, it was like she morphed into a different woman when confronted with having a penis inside. I was no slouch either. Between the two of us, we must have driven the neighbor nuts because just as things reached an astonishing climax he started banging on the wall. Then my cool rational partner banged back and told him to get used to it. A discussion followed thereafter between the walls about who was going to fuck who and by this time I was laying on top of her laughing so hard I didn't think I'd ever be able to stop.

I knew she was feeling my weight so I let her wriggle around to get on top of me. I just wanted to hold her. I realized that I was lost. I loved this woman totally and completely and after that night I knew nothing would ever be the same. It took a bit of wriggling. Actually, the wriggling got me started again. Should have been on empty but judging by what happened next, I must have still been on at least half full. Scully emptied the tank with all due speed and enthusiasm though and then she passed out asleep. We stayed that way all night. I wish she would show that much enthusiasm for my opinions on cases. The woman also shocked the hell out of me by telling me she had never had an orgasm before. Boy am I going to be strutting my stuff for the next 50 years if I live that long. I figure that meant I was pretty damned good. Men have egos about these things.

I wonder what brother Billy would think if he knew? If I didn't value my life a whole lot right now, I might tell him. "Hey, Billy Boy Scully, you know I'm the only one who ever made your sister come, and boy did I ever. I made her scream so loud she nearly brought the house down." Wish I had the nerve, but I was a brother once and I know if any guy ever made a crack like that to me about Samantha, I'd kill him, so I guess I'd better keep my mouth shut.

She got up first the next morning because I awakened to the smell of coffee and nothing on top of me. I ended up cooking breakfast. Scully is not a morning person as a rule and besides, I do eggs better than she does. She is much better with dinners than I am, so that is kind of how we do things. She looked good, really good. The woman was absolutely glowing. She picked up her mug to move into the living room when she was done eating while I sat at my old table with the paper and I heard a scream. I thought something was coming through the window. Mutants, aliens...I didn't know...

It was my couch...my beautiful old leather couch from the Salvation Army...the buy of the century. All of the cushions were torn as a result of the night's activities. I felt heart sick but what could I say? I could see Scully was worried about my reaction. I know she was glad the thing was ruined, but she was concerned that I would be angry.

My telling her we could turn the cushions over was met with a dirty look and the explanation that when she had cleaned she had discovered a tear on the other side along with $17.87 in change, a ton of sunflower seeds and a bright green used condom. When she said that, I got worried. I was afraid she might ask how it got there and I had no desire to tell her about the one night stand I had had with a woman I'd met in McCormick's Irish Pub. She'd been a flaming redhead and a lot of fun, but no Dana Scully. She couldn't have been. We'd only torn one cushion and the neighbor hadn't banged on the wall. Fortunately, Dana hadn't asked any questions. Maybe she hadn't really wanted to know.

I told her we would go to the store and buy a new couch. We'd been a little awkward with each other since getting up, but when I suggested we check out the bed to make sure it didn't need replacing too, she literally jumped into my arms. I had a feeling that I was going to be in for a real workout over the next couple of months, not that I minded. For the most part I lead, or rather used to lead, the existence of a monk, the redhead from McCormick's aside, and I'd wanted her for so long it was doubtful I'd ever get enough. I was in this for the long term. This wasn't just sex with me. It still isn't. I love Dana Scully. I'm not sure when it happened exactly, but that night on the couch was the culmination of years of longing, not so much for her body but her soul. Oh hell, her body too. I am a man after all. I shouldn't be a hypocrite.

Well, we tested the bed thoroughly. She was very taken with the slats in the headboard. She could reach back and hold them, and boy, could she move those hips. Once her legs were wrapped around me, I could even forget that she was short. We decided that the bed didn't need replacing and went to the store.

I can't resist the urge to tease Scully so I zeroed in on a bright yellow leather couch. She suggested buying a canary instead. Wise ass. Then I went to the purple one, or I started to head in that direction when something caught my eye. I changed paths. It was love at first sight...me and a forest green couch. I asked her if she liked it. She really hurt me when she told me that it was my apartment and I should get what I want, but I realized it was partially my fault. I had never once told her I loved her, so I rectified that quickly. I could see that she didn't want to go back to living alone, that she wanted to share a home with me. I wasn't sure if it would fit in the apartment, but she told me I was an expert at fitting the very big into the very small. Yeah...I know she was stroking my ego, but I enjoyed it. Not as much as when she was stroking my...well never mind...suffice it to say it felt very very good.

Then Skinner called and she had to leave. I was pretty pissed but work is work. I also went a little crazy. Well, my dad's blood money is no good in the bank where it has been sitting and growing for a hell of a long time. I bought not only the couch but a recliner and everything else that matched, even a new table and chairs and hutch. I knew Scully liked pretty things and had lost them all in the fire and I wanted to give her a place to put some nice useless china or something. Maybe I'll get her some for her birthday or Christmas or just cause I feel like it. I bet she likes Lladro.

The Lone Gun Nuts took my old leather couch swearing that they could fix it and use it. Yeah right. Well, it was one way to get rid of it. If I had known Dana got pregnant on that old thing, I might have shed tears when it left. As it was we found it in the street with the springs broken about two weeks later.

Of course I had to be away when the furniture was delivered. Damn it all anyway. When I got back though she had the place fixed up, even new drapes on the living room window. The place really looked nice.

She was a little reluctant to make love on the new couch. I guess it is a woman's thing wanting to keep the furniture nice. When I want something though, I usually find ways to get it, and I really wanted us to do it on that new couch. We did too. Boy did we ever. I was learning quickly the right buttons to push. She liked it. I won't go into the details of what we did on the recliner but my partner is a very resourceful individual and extremely flexible. We gave the dining room table a workout the next morning. You know, the height is absolutely perfect. I get the better part of that deal because I get to be the one standing and not laying on the hard wood, but she didn't seem to mind. The chairs aren't bad either...great for serving dessert if you know what I mean. They also match which I know makes her happy although I personally don't give a shit. We haven't been able to think of a damn thing to do with that hutch though except put things in it so I guess it is safe for now.

Anyhow, after we left Dr. Zuckerman's and before we got home I took Dana out to dinner and I asked her to marry me. She'll probably throw up every thing she ate later, but I know she enjoyed it while we were there. She also said yes with no argument.

Tomorrow we will go to her mother's house for dinner to break the good news. Billy Boy is going to be there. I can't wait to see the look on his face. I should be reasonably safe because Mrs. Scully doesn't put up with much nonsense from her kids and never did. I'll never forget the way she came to my defense when Dana was in the hospital and Billy got started on me. She thumped him right up side the head and he is 6'4" tall. Anyway, I know she'll be happy. I'm glad to be bringing her good news for once.

I wanted to rush right to the toy store and go hog wild but Dana wouldn't let me. Ever the logical one, she pointed out that the apartment was too small to buy a ton of toys right away. I did get one thing though. She picked it out actually. It's a stuffed gray fox. I would have preferred a baseball mitt, but how could I have refused her when she fell in love with it? For now, it is in the hutch.


Epilogue - Fox's Thinks Aloud

I am sitting in my office and my mouth is still hanging open.

I don't believe what that woman did. I mean I just don't believe it. The interview with Skinner was over, you know the one where you have to tell your boss that you are pregnant. I went along, but Dana did most of the talking, thank God. I think he was genuinely happy for us. I can't recall ever seeing him smile like that before. We have a good friend in him. Of course, maybe he was just happy that he would have to split us up now and we might be less of a pain in the ass, but I don't think so. I think he was pleased for both of us and wanted us to be happy.

Anyway, I found myself following my soon to be bride. We didn't get off the elevator in the basement as I expected. We got off on the second floor by the bull pen as she said that she had to stop and pick up a file. I should have sensed that she was up to something. I guess the fog of happiness I've been in lately has been just too thick.

What did she do? She climbed up on Tom Colton's desk. My heart was in my mouth. What if she fell? I wanted to hold her, but didn't dare. Then before I could even process the sight of her on the desk, she clapped her hands loudly three times attracting the attention of every one there. Believe me when I tell you it didn't take long. Scully may be little, but she is also pretty damned intimidating. When they were all looking at us much to my horror, she gave her audience a big smile.

"I have an announcement to make," she said in a loud voice. "Before you hear it from anyone else, I just want you all to know that Spooky Mulder knocked up the Ice Queen. Boy did she enjoy it. Caught her on the first go round and broke the couch. Now let's hear a round of applause for Special Agent Fox Mulder and Dr. Dana Scully, soon to be Mr. & Mrs. Spooky."

I wanted to "kill" her. Hell, I still do, but she's pregnant so I can't. There are innocent parties involved here. All I can do is sit here with my mouth hanging open. I mean, after all, what is a man to do? Besides, when you think about it, it's kind of funny. I'll say this much, I know now who as the balls in the family and it sure as hell isn't me.

The End

Title: 03. Dreams of a New Father
Author: Macspooky
Disclaimer: The X-Files still belong to Fox, Ten Thirteen, Chris Carter, etc. and not to me. I am just borrowing them. I am making no money and don't intend to infringe on anyone's copyright. Just having a bit of fun among cyberbuddies.
Rating: R for some bad words.
Distribution: I don't care who posts it where. It was completed on January 23, 1998.
Category: MSR Romance

Summary: Mulder dreams after bringing his new son home from the hospital.


God, but my wife, your mommy, is beautiful. Sometimes I still can't believe she is my wife...like now, or even how she became my wife...your mommy. She's finally asleep. Things just didn't go according to plan this week. I mean we were supposed to spend our first Christmas alone together. I had grandiose plans. We were going to go to Church and then open gifts. She was going to roast a small turkey which I would put in the oven because she couldn't bend over anymore, and then I was going to spend the rest of the time rubbing scented massage oil into her stomach and whispering beautiful things in her ear. She always liked that and always rewarded me in countless ways. Even after she got big, a little creativity kept us making love just as frequently as we could. Your mommy and I love each other a lot you see.

All the plans changed when she went into labor and had you, my beautiful Daniel Fox, two weeks early. Instead of spending Christmas the way expected, I spent it bringing her home from the hospital and screwing it up royally. Her 24 hours were up and everyone thought that because she was a doctor I could handle it. I forgot half the things she said to bring because it suddenly occurred to me that we had insisted on Grandma Maggie going to visit Uncle Charlie in Denver. First babies never came early. So, instead of having the person I needed...really needed most to get me through this, I was on my own. It occurred to me in a sudden flash of insight that Fox Mulder...Spooky Mulder...was domesticated...was a father, and I didn't have the slightest idea of what the hell I was doing. I was totally clueless. I panicked. And that was just earlier today.

Normally, mommy would have been the one to calm me down only you screamed all the way home in the car, and then she burst into tears because you nursed and nursed and didn't get enough milk. I thought I was being logical in suggesting that we give you a bottle. We had disposable ones in the house. That only made her cry harder because she claimed it made her feel inadequate. Alright, so I lost it and I told her I was going to give you the goddamed...I mean darn... bottle because your cries were breaking my heart.

She finally agreed that we should. Then I had kissed her and stroked her hair and dried her eyes and she fell asleep. Of course, that left me with my Daniel Fox. Oh, I had read all the books, of course. What yuppie dad doesn't? The trouble is that books never really prepare you for the first encounter with baby poop. I'd never changed a diaper before. Well, you're clean, I think. Then there is the matter of the fact that when they go, babies don't just get the diaper. No one told me that the boy apparatus that I am so proud of points upward and soaks the whole front of the pajamas, or that the damned manufacturers put the snaps on the back so I had to turn you over.

You didn't break. I was a bit worried. Although it doesn't show just yet, there is a neck buried under there somewhere, or so they assure me, a neck that I was afraid I might injure. You moved though so I guess I didn't. Something tells me that I'm going to be grateful that this apartment is next to the laundry room. Maybe we need a house but your dumbassed...I mean idiot...dad signed a two year lease here.

I didn't know it could feel so good to have a baby snuggled up against your shoulder...once you cleaned up the poop of course. You smell kind of nice. Dana told me that you'll be even prettier when she washes the crap out of your hair. For some reason in hospitals they always want to slick down the baby's hair. I think you look just fine now though. Elvis slicked down his hair too and he died a million or was it billionaire. Don't tell your mommy though that I admitted Elvis was dead. I have her convinced that I think that the King still lives and I don't want to disillusion her. Okay, little buddy?

Hey, small guy, I love you. I love your mom too. This couch is kind of comfortable isn't it? Soft...green velvet with a double recliner. I used to have this old leather couch but your mom and I kind of ruined it making you. That was a real stitch little buddy. She'd moved in with me because her house burned down. Shit...I mean stuff like that always seems to be happening to us. Anyway, she was in the process of looking for a new apartment when we got to watching cheesy old Charlie Chan mysteries on TV one night. I couldn't believe it when your mommy told me she liked that kind of thing. I'd known her for five years and didn't know that. Well, we ate a bowl of popcorn, and I slipped my arm around her just to give her a hug, but her hair smelled nice. You'll like the way she smells. Anyway, I kissed the top of her head, and all of a sudden things got out of hand. We were making you. We had such a good time the neighbor banged on the wall. Your mom shocked the living daylights out of me at that point. She yelled to the neighbor that he'd better get the hell...I mean heck...used to it.

God, I just about died laughing. Then we went back to making you some more.

The next day when I finally woke up I discovered that somehow a big tear had developed in Fox Mulder's famous leather couch. Mom and dad decided to go buy a new one but the store didn't open till 12 so we spent the morning testing out the bed to make sure it didn't need replacing too. Anyhow, your mom has faced down murderers and monsters and flukemen, but she told me nothing scared her more than the idea of shopping for a couch with Fox Mulder. I didn't blame her. We got this one. She never moved out. I know she's going to be a pain in the ass...I mean neck... about it...No grape juice in the living room Daniel...yadda yadda yadda...but that's what moms are for. She is something of a cleanliness fanatic. My sunflower seeds upset her. I've just about got her trained though. I keep the husks in a bowl now instead of scattering them all over. Gotta be tough, you know...let em know who the boss is. I'm sure you'll get the toilet seat lecture in a few years too. They only have to fall in once in the middle of the night and your life is never the same. Then there is the business about aiming...you know...but we won't get into that yet. As a matter of maintaining your dignity and masculine pride, you never want to learn to aim too well...except with a gun.

You know, at first little fella, I didn't realize I was domesticated and then mom went to see your Aunt Ellen one night. She isn't really your aunt but your mommy's good friend and I'm sure she'll be here to see you soon. I begged off. I didn't like visiting people much. I've always been kind of a lone wolf. I came in the door alone and turned on the light, and I realized suddenly that my old bachelor digs had become a real home with curtains and pretty dishes and all that stuff that women are famous for. Scared the F**king S**T...I mean living daylights out of me on one level, but then it hit me...I liked it and wouldn't have wanted to change it for anything. Your mommy would come home and I wouldn't be alone again anymore. She was much better than my video collection which I passed on to Uncle Frohike any day, or night even if she did make me load the dishwasher and pick up the dry cleaning on time. It's worth it to have a family, a real family.

And then we found out that you were coming. What a shock! They said your mommy couldn't have babies. She was pretty sick at first and we thought it was something else. Then the doctor said it was you. I don't think I've ever been so happy or so scared, but the moment I saw that sonogram it was love, Daniel Fox. I mean you looked like a tiny alien life form, but boy, did I ever love you. That heartbeat was music to my ears...better than Elvis even.

I don't know how to be a daddy, little man. I really don't. My daddy wasn't very nice...if he was my daddy. I'm still not 100% sure. He used to hit me a lot and it hurt. I mean I got used to the physical pain, but it hurt my heart. I promise I won't do that to you little fella. If you need a spanking, I'll let mommy do it. She'll know how to do it right. And Tina isn't going to be much of a grandmother God knows. Just not interested. I suppose it should bother me more than it does. I've gotten used to it, and well you'll probably just never really know. Grandma Maggie will make up for it. She's wonderful. I wish your Grandpa Bill were still alive to see you.

Mommy was always kind of his favorite I think and you would be special. And, if we are really lucky maybe your Uncle Billy will come down off his high horse and attend your Christening. He thinks I'm a sorry son of a bitch...I mean...not very nice. I don't know where your Aunt Samantha is, but she doesn't seem to want to have anything to do with me. I guess that doesn't bother me quite as much as it would have a year or so ago either, if the woman that smoking bastard...I mean that bad man introduced me to really is my sister. Long story. I won't bore you now.

Fox Mulder woke with a start. Daniel was laying against his chest making grinchy noises and sucking motions.

Dana was standing in the door.

"Hey, beautiful...why are you crying now?" he asked softly.

"Because...because you and the baby look so sweet together..." she sniffed.

"I Dreamed I was talking to our son...telling him things."

"And what were you telling him?" she asked sitting gingerly beside him.

Her stitches were sore.

"Mostly that I love him. I guess that is what I mostly plan on telling him."

"Sounds like a good plan to me."

"I changed his diaper..." bragged Fox.

She would have congratulated her husband only the baby let out a sudden shriek. She laughed through her tears. Fox Mulder looked suddenly helpless. He was. Daniel was hungry. She took him and put the infant to her breast. This time he didn't seem to have any trouble getting milk. In fact, quite the opposite was true. She was suddenly leaking all over.

"Fox..."

"What, sweetheart..."

"I love you..." More tears started to flow.

"I love you too, babe," he said quietly.

The phone rang. It was Maggie.

"Dana is home and everything is fine," he smiled. "We are coping but we miss you. Remember, mom. Next Christmas you have to spend it with us."

The End

Title: 04. Making It
Authors: Macspooky and Ten
Category: V, absolutely MSR, A, H
Rating: R because Mulder and Scully just couldn't keep their hands off each other (we're SO sorry. Really. Utterly.) and one or two words that all six-year-olds would know.
Archiving: It goes to Gossamer through xff. Can be archived anywhere as long as our names, addys and disclaimer stay intact.
Disclaimer: The X-Files and the characters of Mulder and Scully, and all others recognizable from the episodes belong to Chris Carter, Ten Thirteen Productions and Fox Broadcasting, and are used without permission. No copyright infringement is intended, no profit will be gained. All other characters and Daniel belong to Mac.

Summary: Mulder thinks back over the different and unexpected milestones he and Scully have reached ever since a certain night spent on his couch. He has finally made it...in ways he never dared to hope for.

Thanks to: Debbie and Gerry for editing. Ladies, you are gems.

Author's notes: Ten here. Several months ago I had an idea for a vignette and felt it would fit into Mac's Couch universe. I explained the scenario and asked her if I could borrow her world and write it. To my delight, she said yes and collaborated with the vignette which quickly grew into two, but also gave me creative freedom. Thanks so much, Mac. It's been great fun.


Present
March 1999

I'm hot and hard and she's hot and wet and I do believe such opposite things can be easily merged into something very satisfactory for us both. So does she. I know that panting noise. I know what she wants. And that I'm the only one she wants it from. Her head is thrown back in abandon and - We get interrupted. Bummer.

Her eyes open. Instantly her face is alert. She gets up, saying, "I'll be back in a few minutes. Don't go anywhere. Or should I say...don't come..."

"Ha ha..." My mockery has a distinctly strangled edge to it.

I watch Dana leave the room. In order to keep myself from bursting with frustration before she gets back, I instigate a temporary 'downer', so to speak, thinking of a time when I was utterly terrified...


Summer, 1998

Dana and I were arriving at Maggie's for Sunday dinner. I had thought that it would be a great day, but the nearer it came, the more I was struck with serious doubts. And suddenly we were there, walking up the path to the door. This was it. This was the way that Dana wanted to do things, and what could I do but agree? I just didn't think it would turn out the way we'd planned. Hell, things never turned out the way we planned or expected. If they had, we wouldn't have been there then to do what we were about to do.

The door opened and Maggie was standing there. "I'm so glad you could make it after all!" She gave both of us hugs, then looked at Dana in poorly-disguised alarm. "Honey, you're awfully pale - are you all right?"

"Yes, Mom, I'm fine. Is everyone here?"

"Laura's just gone to the drugstore. She shouldn't be long."

Dana and I exchanged glances. Charlie's wife. We would have to wait. But surely someone would notice -

"Auntie Dana!" Charlie's sons came sprinting into the hallway and leapt at her. I had to restrain myself from preventing them. Dana really wasn't well, and I didn't want them accidentally making her worse. /And what if they've got a cold or chicken pox?/ I convinced myself that I was being paranoid. I had to be calm.

The boys herded Dana into the living room. Mrs Scully and I followed - not before Maggie had noticed my expression, leading her to gently tug at my sleeve and whisper,

"Is she all right, Fox?"

I managed a nod - it was for Dana to tell. It was her body. The return of the nosebleeds... The doctor's appointment... I was trying not to shake. Maggie had no idea just how irrevocably everything had changed.

Tara was sitting on the sofa, holding Matthew. Boy, had he ever grown. Tara was looking nervously at Dana, probably not sure how she would react to the baby after what happened last Christmas. Dana untangled herself from her nephews and went over to hug them both. Bill and Charles appeared in the kitchen doorway - I recognized Charlie from the photos. And I recognized the glare in his eyes as 'brother of Bill' when he looked at me. I should have known it was too much to hope for that the younger brother could be an ally. My luck just didn't run that way.

"Dana, it's so great to see you. But are you okay?" Tara had put Matthew down and was very worried as she embraced her sister-in-law, perhaps thinking that the sight of the baby was too much for her.

"I'm okay, I just..." Suddenly Dana turned and sprinted for the nearest bathroom, nearly scattering the kids, hand to her mouth.

Maggie raced after her. I would have too, only the hand of God landed heavily on my shoulder and hauled me around. I found Bill looming over me, glaring. "What have you done to her? It's that chip thing, isn't it? It didn't work, did it?"

"It's not the cancer..." I managed. It was something that was scary on a whole new level.

"Why else would she be puking her guts up?"

Charlie suddenly loomed in from the side. "He's probably working her to death again," he said to Bill, then turned to me. He demanded, "Start explaining," not wanting to miss his moment of glory. Then he remembered the others in the room. "Boys - go play outside please. Tara, I think you'd better put Matthew down in the bedroom."

"Um...Bill, Charlie, maybe this isn't the time to..." Tara began tentatively, in what I hoped was going to be a defense. Billy gave her a look, and she began to move away, holding the baby. The boys disappeared outside, to my relief.

I was saved by Dana coming back in with Maggie. Everyone immediately forgot about me, and Dana was besieged by 'are-you-all-right?'s. But with all her family there, her eyes sought mine out first. "I'm okay," she assured me.

My own stomach was in knots. /Damn, when the hell is Laura going to appear? I can't take much more of this./ Dana sat down on another sofa, and I immediately went to her side. Then I heard Tara blurt out, "Oh my God!"

Everyone looked at Tara, then followed her stunned gaze. To Dana. Specifically her left hand. At not only the engagement ring, but the wedding ring she now wore - the Celtic knot that signified our love. Bill looked at me, his eyes roving towards my ring finger. For a second, a part of me wanted to sit on my left hand, but instead I reached over to hold my wife's hand, my own matching ring still gleaming in its newness.

"Oh God! Not to EACH OthER!" Bill managed in a desperate whine which I found surprisingly amusing.

"Married?" Maggie's stunned expression was rapidly being overtaken with delight, especially when her brain began putting factors together. Wedding ring...pale...desperate run for the bathroom...

"Married and pregnant," Dana said proudly. She was as serene as a Buddha, even though she probably felt like throwing up again. This was usually her worst time of the day. We had meant to arrive earlier to prevent that, but traffic and my pregnant beloved feeling carsick promptly nixed that idea. I was just glad that the nosebleeds she had been getting seemed to have petered out to a stop over the last week.

Tara slapped a hand to her own forehead. "How could I have missed it? All that breastfeeding must have drained away my female intuition. I mean, one look today and I could tell you were sleeping together, but... Oooo, congratulations!"

My new sister-in-law and mother-in-law besieged Dana, then me. As for my new brothers, they stood there like Easter Island statues and looked about as happy.

"A grandchild...a grandchild..." Maggie repeated in a daze like she didn't have three already. Well, four counting Emily...and however many others those bastards made... But I could understand her reaction after all that had happened with Dana, her only surviving daughter, who we'd all thought would never be able to have a child in the normal way.

A baby... My baby. I was terrified and overjoyed and everything in-between. I'd muddle through. As long as Dana was okay.

Maggie's joy was nearly too much for me though - because it was the complete opposite of my mother's reaction. I'd been so excited when I gave her the news over the phone, but good old Mom just acted as if I'd bought a new car or computer. "That's nice, dear. Pass my congratulations on to Dana." The way she said 'Dana' was like 'Agent Scully'. Her whole manner had been 'Oh, another child to ruin the life of. Excuse me if I don't get excited.'

She kept the call brief and then rang off. I just sat there on the couch. I didn't have to hang up the phone - I had it on speaker, and Dana was right next to me.

"Fox -" she said.

"It's okay," I cut in, my mind busy processing excuses for Teena in an effort to dull the blow. It was the stroke and we'd never really been the same after I accused her of having an affair with that

But Dana knew me better than my own mother, and her arms went around me, and next thing I knew, I was crying harder than I could ever remember.

And there we were a few days later in Maggie's house, with love and hate around us.

"I wanted to wait until Laura was here..." Dana explained.

I'd known the rings would give us away, but in the car when I had suggested that perhaps we take them off just until the announcement, Dana had given me the 'do that and you are DEAD, buddy, not to mention not getting any until you've groveled for two decades' look. "We are married, Fox, and I don't intend to EVER take these rings off."

"Me neither," I quickly amended. Women. They were sentimental about stuff like that, I guess. Pregnant ones even more so. I should have known better. Hell, I'm supposed to be the Oxford-educated psychologist.

"Pregnant?" Bill repeated dumbly. The guy had wanted to rip my head off for the abduction that apparently took her fertility away. He knew how much Dana had wanted a child - and now that she did have the gift of a new life, he still wanted to kill me for knocking his sister up.

I almost felt sorry for the guy. Within the space of a few seconds he'd found out that we were sleeping together, married and pregnant. It's a lot to digest separately, let alone all at once.

"We found out just over a week ago...a bit of a surprise," I said.

"And you're married already?" Maggie asked. By her tone, she was trying not to sound disappointed. She wasn't being judgmental either - she was just so ecstatic for us, but naturally she would have liked to have been there. And to have been told a little earlier...

Dana explained that she wanted to tell her in person at Sunday dinner last weekend, but we got a case and had to cancel. "It was so hard not to tell you on the phone, Mom, but I wanted to see you... We were sent to the Virgin Islands on a case that went nowhere, and it was so beautiful we just couldn't pass up the chance - but in a few weeks we'll have a proper ceremony in church with Father McCue. I promise, Mom." She pulled out the photos. Tara and Maggie oooo-ed and ahhhh-ed. Thank God we didn't do the Vegas Elvis Chapel after all. Perhaps for our tenth anniversary.

Charlie reluctantly looked at a few photos, then frowned.

"Dana...you're crying..."

She gave an embarrassed laugh. "I was so happy..." And even crying, she had looked beautiful.

"So, you're going to have to move," Maggie said.

I cleared my throat. "Not right away, Maggie - Mom," I hastily amended at her look. Bill was thrilled. "I signed a two year lease on the apartment. The baby will have a nursery though. Then when he's old enough to run around, we'll have a proper house."

I could see that is another black mark to my name in Bill and Charlie's eyes. Not being able to provide suitably for my woman. They wouldn't think to ask if Dana was happy with her lot.

They didn't know that with my father's blood money, I could have afforded any house my wife wanted. I wasn't about to tell them. The truth was that we just weren't in a hurry. When the right time came, we would talk about it and decide, but for now our place was close to work and low maintenance, and I didn't think moving was a good idea while Dana was pregnant. She didn't need the extra stress.

I could tell by Maggie's smile that she thought I was being a typical male by using 'he' for the baby, but I had it on good authority that's just what we were going to get, and that was fine with me. Another Knicks convert.

"Hey, Mulder." Bill's voice was full of false cheer. "Wanna come grab a beer so we can welcome you into the clan?" He jerked a head at the kitchen. I knew what he had in mind. I had no desire to be pinned to the side of the garage while the Scully men gave me a verbal whipping and dictated thEIR terms for my existence with their sister. Or gave me the good old 'you only decided to marry her because you got her pregnant - wasn't she good enough for you before that?' lecture. Please...

"No thanks. I'm not a big drinker, and I have to drive back."

"Well, come out here so we can shoot the breeze. Get to know each other better."

Maggie turned her attention to her sons and waited. She was more than a little suspicious of their motivations. Dana snorted quietly. I hoped she wasn't going to drop the bombshell on them that I was the only one who had ever made her come and come good.

Tension hung thickly. I didn't stand. I didn't feel the need to try to gain height on Bill. I was perfectly comfortable beside my wife. "I am not going to apologize for loving your sister or for our child or for making her happy or being happy myself or marrying her."

I saw the tiniest glimmer of respect in his eyes. It was just a bit too tiny for my liking under the circumstances.

"Does that cover everything?" I asked as Dana's hand slipped into mine again.

Bill and Charlie both glanced at their mother. I couldn't see her expression, but suddenly two pairs of shoulders slumped and they both nodded. Somehow I had the feeling that they hadn't backed off due to my intimidating masculinity, but there are times when even I know that silence is golden, and I decided to let it rest. Maggie seemed to sigh with relief and announced that dinner should be ready, just as Laura finally walked in the door.

One of Charlie's boys suddenly appeared from behind the sofa - little bugger must have crept back inside without us noticing - and announced to her in one excited breath:

"Mommy, Mulder's knocked up Auntie Dana but Uncle Bill isn't gonna punch his lights out because Grandma won't let him because they're married."

So confusion and more hugs and a bit of laughter resulted as I wondered what sort of family I'd ended up joining. Then Charlie's other son was rounded up from outside and Matthew was placed in the high chair and we sat down to dinner.

Naturally, the Scully women wanted to know all about our wedding. Dana told them an edited version of it...otherwise I would have been pinned to the garage wall so fast my head would have spun. It was a damn good story for the lead players. Tara and Laura kept giving wishful and jealous sighs at my wife's descriptions of the Virgin Islands and looking at their husbands as if to say, "You've never been thAT romantic."

I guess I'll never forget our wedding, our first wedding, that is. We had planned to go to Vegas and get married in the Elvis Chapel. I knew that was the last thing that Dana wanted to do...get married in a tacky chapel. She has never entirely understood or appreciated my devotion to the King. The tickets for the ceremony were her gift to me.

But before we could tell Dana's family about the pregnancy or go to Vegas, we were sent to the Virgin Islands on a case - St. Thomas to be precise. There had been some pretty grizzly murders down there and it was felt that Voodoo was involved. Took a lot of ribbing about it too on our way out the door. I didn't really want to go. I felt it would be dangerous, but I knew that it also might be the last case we would ever work on together since Scully would start to show soon, so I didn't protest too much. Besides, with all the crap-ass places we've been sent to, if I'd turned down paradise, she might have shot me again. In a part that had finally become more useful than my shoulder in the last few months.

So, we flew down there and picked up our rental car. This turned out to be a battered old van decorated with 70's style flowers because they had lost our reservation. I always grin when I remember it. I think it actually belonged to the owner. The van needed a new muffler, but it ran. Scully and I argued because she said preferred death to being seen in such a thing, but I asked her where her sense of adventure was, and eventually she decided that it beat walking or taking one of the donkeys that can still be seen on the island roads. We checked into a small hotel which was somewhat better than we were accustomed to, a small place in Charlotte Amelie. It wasn't on the beach, but that was okay because we had the car and we were working anyway. In any case, the capital of St. Thomas was quaint and scenic, with cobblestone streets and flowers and the smell of frangipani.

We arrived at the police station just as they were dragging in a very strange-looking young man in dredlocks, flying higher than a kite on something. He made a full confession, and I have to confess as well that I heaved a sigh of relief.

I thought we would fly home immediately, but my partner had other plans. She informed me in no uncertain terms that we were in paradise, and it was in paradise that we were going to stay for at least 48 hours. She changed into something casual, took her late morning throw up break, and we hit the streets of Charlotte Amelie.

We took a long walk along the waterfront and watched the boats sail in from the other islands, carrying bananas and other tropical fruits and produce, listened to the musical lilt of the island's natives as they transacted business, and we probably slathered on enough sunscreen to keep the chemical companies in business forever. Even the dark-skinned residents tended to carry parasols to protect their skin from the brutal tropical sun. The water was incredible though, a real aqua, and it sparkled in the sun like a jewel. It was the color of Scully's eyes. I hoped we would get a chance to use the beach. I wanted to swim in those eyes forever.

Then we went to a small restaurant and had lunch, a slow affair. Normally we would have indulged in Planter's Punch, a real tourist attraction that goes down easy and packs quite a wallop, I am told. However, Dana was not allowed to drink and I couldn't enjoy it without her, so we just had fruit punch instead and a delicious meal that I hoped she would keep down. Although the nausea was not as severe as it had been at first, she still had bouts of it unexpectedly and tended to tire easily and sleep heavily.

Then she told me that she wanted to shop. I whined but to no avail. St. Thomas is a duty free port, a shopper's paradise, so I couldn't blame her. We ended up almost immediately with a Lladro baby statue that she fell in love with. Shortly thereafter, it was a dress. I had to admit that it was beautiful, a snowy white gossamer affair with just a bit of pale yellow embroidery around the neckline, not her usual style at all. But it was loose-fitting and she looked up at me and smiled and told me that she just couldn't get through a summer pregnancy without it, and what could I say to those beautiful blue eyes that grew so soft when they gazed at me?

We made our purchase and began walking again when suddenly it clouded over. I couldn't resist getting a dig in about how I'd told her that if she dragged me shopping it would rain, but before she got done telling me that I could shove it up my ass, the sky opened up and it began to pour. Next thing I knew, my hand was in hers and we were running down a quaint alley which was lined with beautiful pots of hanging plants. In no time the alleyway was filled with clear, running water and we were soaked to the skin. I have to say that Scully looked good in a tee shirt soaked to the skin. Her breasts had expanded remarkably in a short span of time, and it was a real turn on.

We finally ducked into a small shop, and I was able to get a good look at said breasts in said tee shirt. Dana was laughing. It had been so long since I heard her laugh like that. The time that sticks in my memory is our first case on a cold night in Oregon in front of an open grave. I couldn't help but laugh with her then and I couldn't help it now. There had been a lot of water under the bridge since then, a lot of hard times, but a lot of beautiful times too. At least this time it was warm, and for once we were not chasing aliens... You know, I remember thinking how small she was when she was wet that night in Oregon. That hadn't changed. Apart from the breasts.

A beautiful woman with ebony skin stepped out of the back room and smiled a smile that lit her entire face, displaying perfect white teeth.

"Can I help you?" she asked.

I started to tell her that we had just ducked in out of the rain, and then I looked down. I realized that we had ended up in a small jewelry shop and an upscale one at that. I had never seen a set of rings like the ones that shone in the glass case I found myself gazing into. The engagement ring was set in platinum and was not a diamond, but an aquamarine that matched the color of the Caribbean and Scully's eyes perfectly. On either side sat a small diamond and just the hint of the same pattern that made up the two wedding bands, the Celtic knot that intertwined in an unbreakable circle, like her and me.

"Yes," I heard myself say, "I want to see those rings."

My God, that aquamarine fit Dana perfectly and so did the wedding ring. The man's ring fit me too. It was as though fate had decreed that those rings be waiting there for us.


When Dana saw the price of the rings, she started to protest, but I am not a fool. I knew it was probably half of what we would pay for the set at home if we could even find one. These rings were the work of an artist. I took out my American Express card and was grateful for my father's money for about the only time in my life apart from when I'd bought Dana all that furniture for the apartment. That had come about because we had gone shopping for a new couch after having wrecked my old one when we became lovers and became pregnant. I ended up buying a couch that had everything...and a matching recliner and dining table and chairs and hutch. I didn't realize at the time that a cradle would have been more appropriate.

Dana's eyes sparkled like the engagement ring when she held it up to the light and looked at me.

"And when will you be married?" asked the woman, finishing the transaction.

"Next weekend. We are going to Las Vegas," Dana replied.

"Oh...why go to Las Vegas when it is so beautiful here?" The woman smiled, and I have to confess that I would have found it difficult to turn her down if she had tried to sell me the entire store. "My brother is a Justice of the Peace, and you could be married today, except that it is getting late. No blood tests needed. Only ID - birth certificates. No waiting period. Perhaps if I call him, you could arrange the marriage for tomorrow. He is a shrewd businessman, my brother, and for a fee he will perform it on the beach at sunrise. It is very romantic. You will have beautiful memories."

"I think," said Scully with a twinkle in her eye, "that you are a very astute businesswoman as well. We already have tickets to Vegas, thank you."

"Call him," I heard myself say, "Pick the most beautiful beach on the island, and we'll do it at sunrise tomorrow." I don't know why or how, but somehow I realized that this beautiful, dark-skinned woman was right. It was romantic. I didn't have a romantic bone in my body. I mean, I had never done any of the normal things that a man does when courting a woman. I had never bought Scully gifts or candy, or really even taken her on a date. We had worked together, and her apartment had burned down, and she had moved into my spare bedroom, and the next thing we knew, we were making a love child.

"Fox," she began to protest....

"Who needs Vegas when we have paradise?" I asked her.

"But what about the King?"

"We'll play his CDs in the van."

I could see that she wanted to marry in this paradise, but things were happening so fast that she was automatically and frantically searching for reasons why it would be impossible, just like at work when I pitched a theory. "What will I wear?" she asked.

I burst out laughing. It wasn't a mean laugh. It was a happy laugh and I teased her. "Is the increasing size of your belly diminishing the size of your brain cavity?"

She thought about that for a moment and then burst out laughing with me. "My white dress....." She grinned, and then she did something totally unScullylike. She put her arms around my neck and pulled my face down and kissed me full on the lips in public. "I love you, Fox Mulder. I love you more than anything."

Who needed flowers or dates? What I saw in her eyes was more romantic than that, and I realized that we didn't have to hide our feelings when in public any more either. We had a baby on the way and were going to be married. The wedding rings were back in their respective boxes as the saleslady was putting them in a bag for us, but Dana was still wearing the engagement ring. I took her hand and slipped the ring off.

"Fox, what are you doing?" She was worried.

"Putting this on properly." Dana had slipped it on herself when I'd urged her to try it, busy protesting about the cost. Now I gazed at her as I slid the engagement ring back onto her finger, where it would stay, then kissed the hand. She nearly melted.

The jewelry store proprietress indicated that we should leave everything to her and we did. Thank you, American Express.

We went back to the motel, where I wasted no time in peeling that wet shirt off my partner and warming her right up. Didn't want her catching a chill now, did I? Things got so hot that I could see the water evaporating to steam on her skin. She told me emphatically where to shove it. Again and again. I love a woman who knows what she wants.

When I woke up, Dana was looking over at the Lladro baby we'd put on the dresser and smiling that special, serene smile that had appeared since we found out she was pregnant. Well, it hadn't been there when the doctor first told us. She was stunned. She stared at the doctor, then at me. I knew what she was thinking. She was amazed and overjoyed that she was going to become a mother - in the natural way - after all, but how did the father feel about it? Just when we had admitted our love and acted on it. Would I dump her, back out of the responsibility, disappear into the night, actually want a baby?

I admit I nearly needed emergency resuscitation, but how could I refuse a second miracle on top of Dana becoming my lover? Considering that Scully's symptoms had at first terrified us that her cancer was back, I'd take pregnancy any time.

And now we were in paradise, though we were making more of our own brand of paradise than seeing Charlotte Amelie itself.

I resumed kissing Dana. She laughed and shoved lightly at me with her hands. "Fox, we've got a wedding to prepare for."

"Our fairy godmother and American Express are taking care of it..." I pouted, intent on my work.

"Yes, but - ohhhh..." Dana struggled to focus. "We have to sort out what you're going to wear and -" She let loose a strangled sound and jolted on the mattress.

"I'll wear clothes. No one looks at the groom. And I'm preparing for the wedding...for the wedding night..."

She gave up. "Make the most of these breasts, Fox... Oh God, yessssssss... Make the most of them...while you can... There, yes, right there! Oh!"

The next morning at sunrise, the woman, Lila, came to act as a witness for the ceremony and wove yellow flowers in my beloved's hair. It was a real family affair. Her brother - the justice of the peace - had brought along his wife, and his daughter was our flower girl. There was also a cousin to take photos.

Dana and I were married on the white sands of Magens Bay as the sun rose over the crystal blue waters. The dress was perfect. Somehow the baby had become bigger overnight and you could see the outline of early pregnancy through the dress. It made her all the more beautiful.

Dana cried through most of the ceremony. Not loud, grating sobs or anything like that, but gentle tears slipped down her face. I nearly panicked, then I realized that it was because she was so happy. And hormonal. Lila and her family told us that we would have a beautiful, healthy boy. Yesssss! I nearly punched the air.

When the others left, we realized that the hideous rental van we had laughed about was going to prove to be a blessing in disguise. We were able to duck into it and get into bathing suits, and then we swam in the Caribbean. I saw the rings sparkle on her hand, and it hit me that she really was my wife. Mrs Mulder. I wasted no time calling her that. I wasted no time in kissing her. And she wasted no time in showing me what she wanted.

My new wife led me to the rental van, which was fortunately parked in a secluded spot amongst palm trees, because we didn't quite make it inside. I lifted her off her feet. Next thing I knew, we were making love standing there, her legs wrapped around me, her back pressed against the side of the van.

The fear of discovery made it so exciting we could hardly contain ourselves. In fact, we didn't. Perhaps it was the tropical climate, but she melted quickly and completely and almost immediately, and you better believe I did too. It was one of those climaxes that a man wishes for, long and slow and shuddery and intense and not too much work to get to, not that I minded the work part as a rule.

It might have happened again but we heard some people approaching and decided to move into the old van. That thing might have been ugly, but I sure remember it fondly. I may even hire one for our wedding anniversary. It did have a CD player in it, and I popped in a CD of the King I always made Dana carry in her purse for rental cars. You better believe that old van shaked, rattled and rolled for a good part of the morning. Dana said she would fill Bill in on how she had been filled. The woman knows how to scare me. I tried to make her forget that she even had brothers. Then we took another swim and headed back to town.

It was probably the happiest day of my life at the time, but I knew I was going to pay for it when brother Billy saw the ring on my finger and realized that the bulge in his sister's belly was not a sudden weight gain.


Present
March 1999

Daniel was born on Christmas Day, which was appropriate enough. He had a headful of my brown hair right from the word go and blue eyes and has old Dad well and truly suckered. I guess I'm a domesticated Fox now, but that's fine by me. Well, apart from the diaper washing. How one kid can produce that much should be an x-file. But it's a small price to pay, really, so I keep my trap shut. Most of the time.

Now my son is down for his nap in the bedroom and I'm down on the couch, about to be seduced by my insatiable wife, who is desperate to continue our interrupted lovemaking. She obviously hasn't heard that having a baby is supposed to dampen those drives; thank God. I know mine sure haven't been dampened by fatherhood. We're still technically newlyweds and also working our way through five years of pent up desire. We're been working through it on the couches, the table, the recliner, the chairs, the floor...and sometimes just to be kinky, the bed. Our neighbors can't believe the noise we generate and the pace we set.

When Daniel is a bit older, I wonder what's going to happen about all this furniture hopping and how vocal Dana is. I, of course, am the picture of restraint.

"You know, Babe, we're gonna have to squeeze in as much of this as we can -" I start to say.

My wife sits back on my hips and looks at me with a light in her eyes that I know is just for me, and a faint smile playing about her lips. "Believe me, we squeeze it all in, Fox Mulder. We will definitely squeeze it all in."

And, of course, being Scully, she has to provide proof of her theory. "See, Fox?" she coos, arching her back.

I reply, "Nhgghhhhhhhhhh..." which I think passes for 'sure do' in some language - on some planet.

And when we're finished and she's draped over me like an afghan, I remember a time not long ago when just 'squeezing it in' wasn't that simple...


JANUARY 8th 1999

"Fox... Fox!"

"W-w-w-what?"

"Fox!" Dana was shaking me. Pulling at me.

At the best of times I'm not really a great, solid sleeper. At the worst of times, which was basically my life before Dana and I became lovers, my sleeping patterns were lousy. I sleep lightly and wake at anything. But usually there's a stage in the early hours of the morning where I get an hour or so of sleep so deep that I'm almost in a coma. It's that lot of sleep that saved my sanity for so long in the past.

Usually when I'm awakened suddenly, I'm alert fairly quickly - have to be in my job. But when I'm awakened during my coma-hour, I'm more of a 'lert' than 'alert'.

This was coma hour. "Whatizit? Whatsamatta?"

Dana was shaking me urgently. My befogged brain started setting off alarm bells.

Something bad must have happened - and why on earth was my partner in bed with me?

Was there only one bed available at the motel on this case?

Then I remembered she was my wife. /Oh. That's right./

"I need you!" she practically howled.

"Huh? To do what...?" I mumbled.

"What do you mean WHAT? To do ME. Sex, Mulder!"

She only reverts back to 'Mulder' if she's really frustrated or scared. "I want you and I want you NOW!"

My brain still wasn't functioning but let's just say that another part of me had all of its facilities. /Wife wants sex,/ it said. /I'm there!/

"Okie," I mumbled, sitting up, swaying with sleep-deprivation. My brain was still setting off bells, trying to tell me that something wasn't right, but the other part of me was telling it: /Go back to sleep, buddy. We don't need you for this./

"Wife wants sex..." I muttered.

"Yessssssssssssssssssss..." came the agonized reply out of the darkness. I could see her face, just, but I couldn't make out her expression. I could tell that she was naked though.

So I pulled my boxers down, and Dana scuttled across before I could even move over, so that she was lying across the bed. She didn't want to waste any time. She was lying on her back, waiting.

My brain piped up, wondering how she could move so easily. Something was not right.

"MULDER!!!! If you don't do something soon, I'm going to shoot you again! I want you on me; I want to feel you in me!"

I sat up on my knees - thank God for knees when your wife's belly gets so big that it looks like she's swallowed a basketball...along with the whole basketball team - and felt around to get my bearings. Yep, I was between her legs, check, I'd just hold onto that belly for balance and - My brain couldn't believe the feedback my hands were giving me. I halted and patted her belly.

"MULDER, what are you doing??????? This isn't patting down a suspect! Skip the foreplay and get in here now!!!!!!!!!"

No belly. Well, there was a belly, but it was flat.

"The baby?" I asked dazedly.

"He's over there!"

I looked and there was the cradle at the foot of our bed.

Memory popped up like a lifebuoy in a sea of hormones. Daniel had a nursery of his own, but for the first month or so we were having him close by as we adjusted to being parents and getting him into a routine and wanting to check him every five minutes to make sure that he was still breathing.

"We won't wake him," Dana said. "He'll sleep through anything. Move him out of the room if you're going to feel strange about doing me with him in here. Just HURRY!"

I backed away, nearly falling off the bed. My mind was kicking in more. "But - but - he's only two weeks old!"

"We'll be quick!" She was REALLY getting pissed off with me, but I knew what my brain was trying to tell me.

"But the doctor said we had to wait six weeks!" I reminded her.

"I'M a doctor!" she roared. "And I'm giving you permission!" She punched her fists into the mattress.

"No, Dana -"

"Oh, for God's sake!" She sat up and used a wrestling throw to shove me down on my back. "Do I have to do everything myself?" She went to climb onto me. I grabbed her by her rediscovered waist and lifted her off and away as gently and firmly as I could.

She nearly spat sparks at me. She was smoking with horniness and anger. My eyes had adjusted enough to the lack of light for me to see her expression. I was in deep, deep trouble.

I tried to reason with her. "Dana, the doctor said six weeks. I don't want to hurt you. We can't -"

"Fine! So you don't find me attractive anymore! You hate the way I look!" She was crying.

How could she say that? I loved her - I love her no matter what she looks like: even when she was so pale and thin from the cancer, or ripping one of my theories to shreds, or saying 'No, Mulder, I did not see that alien, the light was in my eyes'. Big with child or not, I loved her and wanted to make love to her...

"Dana," I said gently, "We can't. And - and - we have to consider contraception now too..." When did I become the logical one in this relationship? Contraception was a bit of a dilemma too - after all, we didn't know how many or how few eggs Dana had left...

We'd already been given one gift, could we take the risk of missing another, even if Daniel was only just out of her body?

My wife pitched a fit at my gallant refusal. I couldn't take her - more's the pity - so I grabbed my pillow and stormed out to the couch. "I'm doing this for you!" I yelled, and hoped all this wasn't disturbing Daniel. It was certainly disturbing me.

As I lay on the couch, I ached. And not just the parts of me that you'd think. I pulled the afghan down off the top of the couch to cover my nakedness; we always have a blanket there to curl up in after making love...

Upset, I curled up alone, trying to get thoughts of my horny wife and my horny self out of my mind.

I'd read all the books. Not just the baby books, but about the changes that having a baby can bring to a couple, and to their sex life. I was determined to be an Understanding Husband, especially in this abstinence period. I'd been prepared for the cold showers (and had a few), been prepared for her tiredness and mood swings, that her body may be different and that she may be self-conscious and that I had to boost her esteem and the fact that even after six weeks were up that she may not feel like being that intimate again for a while...

Whenever I felt jealous about the attention that the baby got, or when I felt like having sex when my son was getting more breast than I was, I would count my blessings. And I had more than most new fathers to count.

'Remember the gift that your partner has just given you and be patient and grateful,' one book counseled. 'Use the time to bond with the baby - you are not the one who had to carry him/her around for nine months.' So I spent a lot of time with my new little buddy. I recounted the all-time best Knicks plays - held the kid enthralled. So yeah, I'd been prepared...

But there was no way that I'd been prepared for thIS! A full frontal attack, no less!

And I'd done the right thing and as a result I was in the doghouse... Typical.

I wanted her so badly... For a long time I just stared at the wall. Daniel cried and Dana got up to him.

I just lay there. Daniel kept crying. I could hear my wife getting more and more upset as she unsuccessfully tried to hush him. To my astonishment, we had found that I was the one who could calm him down more quickly when he cried. I mean, it wasn't a competition or anything, but it was something that both amused and upset Dana, depending on her mood. The sort of thing that makes a new mother feel inadequate. Plus she thought that as a doctor, she should know what to do, but I think all that knowledge was a major contributor to her tensing up in the first place and making our son cry more.

Dana came storming out and deposited a howling bundle in my arms. "Here! Your son needs you! He doesn't want me. No one does. And I don't need YOU, Fox Mulder!" She stalked back into our bedroom and slammed the door.

All that made ME tense, so it took a while to soothe Daniel. I had no idea how to do the same for my wife. My buddy and I watched TV together for half an hour, then his eyes drooped and I quietly opened the bedroom door and peered in. Dana was in a tight ball at the far end of her side of the bed. Her side. Often we were melded together so tightly it was a surprise to think we were separate people. She didn't respond when I quietly called her name. I put Daniel down in his cradle, hesitated, then went back out to the couch. They had some basketball repeats on, but I couldn't concentrate. I dozed fitfully.

It was still dark when a pair of hands whose touch I knew so well were on my hair and shoulder, gentle. "Fox?" Her voice came softly. I turned around. She was kneeling beside me. "Fox, please come back to bed and hold me. I just want you to hold me, please." She was crying. "That's all I want, please."

I got up and picked her up - it had been a while since I'd been able to carry her. In a few seconds we were back in bed, cuddling, warm and content. She said how sorry she was, I said how beautiful she was, and we kept holding and kissed a bit. We could actually hug properly again. There was no not-so-little bump in the middle anymore. I sort of missed the bump, but I had also missed the closeness. We drifted off.

I woke up to find that the close proximity of my wife had led a certain part of my anatomy to show some hope, shall we say. Damn. I began to ease my limbs out from under and around Dana so I could slip out of bed and take care of things. Too many more cold showers and I'd be hypothermic.

A hand shot out and seized hold, effectively halting my progress. "Dana!" I gasped.

Her hand moved up and down, and I fell back. This time it was my hands that were punching the mattress. "Oh God, Dana, we can't -"

"Now, now... There's more than one way to snare a fox..."

That woman drained me of every last bit of hope, I'm happy to say. I just hung onto the headboard slats - Dana's right, you can really reach back and get a good grip - and let her go. And damn, her grip was great too.

When I came back to earth, she was holding me, purring contentedly. My pleasure had given her pleasure. So I reached down to return the favor with interest and held her as she quickly began to writhe.

When her scream finished bouncing off the walls, we held until Daniel let loose again. Dana insisted on getting up to him, and this time she wasn't tense at all. She said I'd gotten rid of every last bit of tension in her body. Once his needs were met, Daniel sensed all was well and zapped back to sleep. Dana hugged and rocked him for a little, whispering to him, then returned to me.

I said, "I think we've found a good solution to our problem."

She gave that grin. "Well, there's more than two ways to snare a fox..."

And she started kissing her way down to prove it.

So once again the hills were alive with the sounds of two very happy individuals, and every few hours or so, the howls of a demanding young baby.

Then the baby turned six weeks old. And on that day - which Dana had insisted that I take off from work - the second that she was back from her doctor's and Daniel was out for the count, my wife turned my way. "Fox...wanna try the old snare again?"

A few seconds later we were rolling all over the bed, getting clothes off and tossing them aside - I think my Knicks shirt went flying out the open window. Oh well. The baby was now in his nursery, so there wasn't the worry of any pieces of clothing landing in the cradle and smothering him, and the monitor was on.

I was into it, but I was holding back a little. Dana noticed - even when she's as horny as hell, she's damn observant. "What's wrong?"

I had to tell her. I didn't want to tell her, but I didn't want her to get upset again like last time. "I...well, I'm just worried that it won't be as good for you anymore. As good as it was..." I was going bright red.

"What do you mean?"

"The books - the books said that after childbirth sex may feel different for a woman. Not as good. I want it to be good for you." Better than good.

"Mulder - let's not panic unduly until we see how things go, okay? And we've been able to satisfy each other damn well the last few weeks, haven't we? We'll manage."

I nodded, but I was worried that I couldn't make her come the other way anymore. The way she loved.

She sucked on my ear and then whispered, "Going by the book isn't always the way to do it. Throw the rules away, Fox. Go by your instincts. Your deep, primal, mating instincts..."

So I pushed aside those thoughts and put my heart and soul and mouth and hands and myself into the act. We could really hold and touch and I didn't have to use my knees as much...

Fox was back in his den.

We thudded the bed so hard into the wall that at any second it was gonna burst through into the laundry room next door. Perhaps it did.

I can't hold on much longer - it's been too long. Long... God, Spooky, you survived how many years of virtual monkhood beforehand and now you're moaning about six weeks? But she hasn't come yet and I'd better reach down - Wait - I know those noises. And that face she's making! That's the one! That's my ride, babe. No additional work required. I held on and surged forward.

Dana's screams blasted the paint off the walls. In several apartments.

And her nails raked all the way down my back - something which she hadn't been able to do for a while. She kept them cut short to handle Daniel, otherwise it would have been much worse...

But what we were doing was so intense that I didn't care if she cut me into eight strips.

Then I blasted apart into about eight zillion atoms anyway.

Abstinence makes the orgasm grow stronger...

When I could see again, Dana was lying there with this 'where the hell did that come from and have you been holding out on me since we became lovers' look. "That answer your question?" she managed to croak out. Somehow I was able to hear it over the ringing in my ears.

"Mmmm hmm." I tried not to be smug. I really tried. /What a relief./

"That was so intense, Fox... I'm not kidding. Maybe we should hold off for another six weeks if that's what the result is."

I sat up slightly and glared down at her. "You're asking for a good tongue lashing, Wife."

She grinned in delight. "I'm just begging for one..."


Present

Yep, I'm domesticated now, but feeling pretty wild nonetheless, because what Dana and I just did was anything but tame.

Back to work tomorrow. Dana and Daniel will be checking out Old Town townhouses so we can buy ourselves a home; and I'll put up with idiot Spender in the office and get phone calls from my wife every so often to defuse me and provide calm and to make sure that I'll still have the x-files in my possession when she comes back.

But boy, the itch to ditch is STRONG.

Hmmmm, looks like Dana is showing interest in the dining room table again. I'm up for that. Definitely. Gotta go.

The End


Scully's POV vignette is called "Making It Legal". Thanks for letting me take the baby out of the cradle and take him twice around the park, Mac!

Disclaimer about "Places where you can get married the same day" - there was conflicting information published in newspapers about what the rules really are for the Virgin Islands: whether it is same day or if you have to file eight days ahead for a marriage license, and also about what you do need in order to get married. Well, we went for the most convenient for our story!

Title: 05. Making It II: Making It Legal
Authors: Macspooky and Ten
Category: V, absolutely MSR, A, H
Rating: R because Mulder and Scully just couldn't keep their hands off each other (we're SO sorry. Really. Utterly.) and one or two words that all six-year-olds would know.
Disclaimer: The X-Files and the characters of Mulder and Scully, and all others recognizable from the episodes belong to Chris Carter, Ten Thirteen Productions and Fox Broadcasting, and are used without permission. No copyright infringement is intended, no profit will be gained. All other characters and Daniel belong to Mac.

Summary: It is Scully's turn to think back over all the much prayed for changes that have occurred in her life since she and Mulder ended up in each other's arms on his couch.

Timespan/spoiler warning: This is part of Macspooky's Couch series, which includes: "A Christmas Miracle", "The Couch" and "Dreams of a New Father". All are available on Gossamer. The Mulder counterpoint story to this is "Making It". We have tried to make this story as self-contained as possible, but since it is part of a series, it would probably be best to read the others first. Just in case or to refreshen the memory, here is some background info

After the surveillance on his apartment in "Gethsemane", Mulder moved into a different apartment, though it was still in the same complex as his old one. This apartment has the same basic layout, but includes two bedrooms. Then about six weeks after Scully and Mulder came back from Emily's funeral in San Diego, Scully's apartment building burned down because one of her neighbors had a heart attack while smoking in bed. Dana wasn't able to salvage anything. She moved into Mulder's spare bedroom temporarily while she looked for another apartment, but she couldn't find exactly what she wanted. In the meantime Mulder and Scully found they could coexist surprisingly well, and one night they were watching movies together when nature took its course, wrecking Mulder's leather couch in the process. Only one bedroom was required thereafter. But then Scully began having nosebleeds again...


Present
March 1999

I jolt awake. /Breathe, breathe,/ I tell myself. And gradually I do. I'm in my bed. I'd dreamed of being alone again, the only person on this earth, adrift in a barren landscape.

I remind myself that that scenario isn't true anymore. I have Mulder. I have him in ways I'd never dared to hope... Or do I? What is the dream and what is reality?

I stop clinging to the pillow and roll over, wanting to cling to him. But the other side of the bed is empty. Am I a lonely woman dreaming I'm married, or a married woman dreaming of the time I was lonely? The very long time...

Or has he left me? He's always leaving me.

The rational side of my brain is trying to shake me awake and search for evidence to reassure my heart.

A noise. There it is again. Noises in the next room. I jump up.

I peer around the corner into the second bedroom as memory fully comes back to me. I should have known he would be in here. It is the way of things lately. He keeps coming in here to sort things out. He is pacing round and round, oblivious to me. So I watch him.

Mulder - Fox - is so intense that sometimes I think I could get off just from him gazing at me. God knows he's made my world rock in every other way imaginable. In my study of him, I start at the bottom - I mean his toes;

I'll get to that sexy butt soon enough - and work my way up. Bare feet. He has gorgeous feet - not that I have a fetish or anything in that regard. Long, long, long legs encased in faded and threadbare navy sweatpants. And oh, that behind... A work of art to behold and hold. When I reach his torso, his back is to me. And what a back... The bonus is that he's shirtless.

I love that back. Fox sometimes grumbles that for someone who loves it so much, I keep injuring it. I keep my nails cut shorter now to avoid that problem.

And this is one ditch I never mind.

Because he turns in his pacing, and there is the reason for his absence held in his arms. Our precious Daniel Fox. Our dark-haired, Caribbean-eyed baby. Christmas miracle and joy of our world.

Daniel is three months old now. I hadn't thought it possible, but his daddy and I love each other even more since he's arrived. Often I wake up in the night convinced that it is all a lovely dream though; that Mulder is still just my work partner and that there is no baby, and I have to check that Mulder is in the apartment and that Daniel even exists. I guess my hormones are still haywire. Fox understands - occasionally the same thing happens to him, though I guess we can't blame the hormones - I wake up in the middle of the night to find he's brought Daniel into our bed and he's clinging to the both of us as though he can't believe he really has a family.

And in the times when I shake Fox awake and whisper, "Are you really there? Are you really mine?", I love the ways in which he proves that we're much, much more than just partners... Providing I don't wake him when he's in his one hour of dead-sleep each night - he's usually a light sleeper and raring for any night maneuvers I may suggest - but when woken up from the deep sleep, he can't even remember how many fingers he has, let alone what they're useful for. Anyway, where was I? Oh yes...yes, indeed. In the future my screams may awaken Daniel if I am not careful - fortunately when three-month-olds sleep, they sleep. Still, better screams of joy than pain. I guess Fox and I are going to have to train ourselves to be less vocal when he gets older, but we will never hide our affection for each other - five years was quite enough - this is one kid who will know how much his parents love each other, and him.

Now I watch my lover and my child, and I wonder if Fox had a panic attack and raced in here, or whether Daniel cried and I didn't hear him. I guess Fox turned the baby monitor off as soon as he heard a howl or a whimper, so I could keep sleeping. It wasn't feeding time, otherwise he would have brought the baby in and woken me up with gentle words and a great big grin. Sorry to wake me, but not sorry to witness me feeding his son. This kid has his father's appetite too...

Daniel is totally zonked out in Fox's arms. Fox is still rocking him, walking, so absorbed in the baby's features and gorgeous sleep-crumpled face that he's probably forgotten that he can put Daniel down now and come back to bed.

I would like him to come back to bed. Seeing him with a baby clutched so tenderly to his bare chest is a serious turn on for me. As is everything else Fox William Mulder does. He is very good about getting up with the baby at night so that I can sleep and does his share of the diaper duty. I've realized that in that terrible time when I thought that I couldn't have children and was devastated, so was Fox - Mulder then. That was his chance of having children lost too. But he hid it and channeled everything into helping me deal with it.

So Fox doesn't even mind the less-pleasant aspects of child-rearing too much, because for us they are a gift. Even when Daniel howls and won't quit. In fact, in those times my beloved compares the noise to my singing. But he hastens to reassure me that he loves us both. Sometimes I have to wrest a diaper away from the man so that I can get a share of the experience. Then Fox gives me that goofy grin as he realizes his monopoly.

Still, women would kill for a man like Mulder and God knows that I have in the line of duty. My friends want to know if they can hire him.

When I was pregnant, I had been worried how Fox would react to my changing body. Would it repel him? Though surely the ample breasts I suddenly found myself with would be a dream come true for the man.

He was fascinated, and not just by my expanded chest. Not even the body of the mothman sent him into such raptures. He said I looked beautiful, even in the morning-sickness stage. In his own way, Fox Mulder is very romantic. He still made me feel sexy.

And I'm sure that the fact that I still wanted him, wanted him very much, had a lot to do with it. The bigger I grew, the more creative we got with ways to keep the earth moving.

Our poor neighbor at the time - Robert... He's the one who lived in the apartment right up against our living room. The wall where our couch is. Where Fox's leather couch used to be. On Fox and my first night as lovers, things had just reached the most amazing climax on that couch and under Mulder when our neighbor decided that enough was enough and banged on the wall. Fresh from the first real orgasm of my life, I was not shy in informing him that there would be more to come and set about getting my next. Enough was not enough. Fox and I wrecked the couch...we got a lovely new one though...but I digress.

I discovered that I liked sex. Lovemaking. I liked it very, very much. And I had just the man willing to give it to me and receive it over and over. Let's just say that no inch of that apartment was safe. Well, apart from that hutch that Fox bought me to put pretty things in. We could never work out how he could put his better-than-pretty-thing in me on that, so we left it alone. And we loved giving the new couch a workout. I think Robert bought earplugs.

I'll never forget the first time that our neighbor realized I was pregnant. We hadn't told him; I mean, it wasn't like we were close (apart from distance-wise and his intimate knowledge of our sex life). We'd let Skinner and our families know - now that was quite a time... - Fox wanted to run out and yell it to the world. I settled my desire by telling the entire bullpen that he'd knocked me up.

Occasionally we passed Robert in the hall or saw him in the laundry room, which was over on the other side of our apartment - the bedroom side, so goodness knows what the other occupants heard in the lulls of the machines grinding when they were washing their stuff...

The little old lady from Number 39 stopped me in the hall once and said of Mulder: "He's a keeper, dear." and I'm sure it was more to do with our own grinding than the fact that Fox would always carry the laundry basket for me.

Perhaps Robert had thought that I was just putting on some weight. Then finally enough time had passed that my torso had sloped into that unmistakable-for-anything-else mound that I wouldn't have believed if I wasn't the one carrying it. Fox and I were in the laundry room, and I was in a loose shirt, and our neighbor came in with his washing. He just gave us this look, as if to say, "You two had a late night..." which was very true, and we all got on with sorting and putting powder in, etc. Suddenly our little unborn moved in me and Fox could tell from the look on my face and didn't want to miss out, so he put his wonderful large hand over mine on my stomach. We both gasped.

Poor neighbor muttered, "Oh God, you two aren't going to start up in HERE, are you?", then he saw what we were doing and heard Mulder's proud, "Feel that kick!" and the guy's face went ashen. We had bred. And he was going to have to put up with baby howling all through the night now, not just us.

Two days later a moving van arrived, and two hours after that, he was gone.

Now we have Malcolm next door. He moved in when I was seven and a half months pregnant. It had taken a while to find someone for the apartment as on the inspection they usually saw me waddling by and realized what they'd be living next to. But Malcolm said he didn't mind because he had to travel away a lot for his job. And he has. So we still had to 'break him in', so to speak.

Before Daniel's birth, Malcolm was home for a few of Fox's and my performances and didn't comment, either via the wall or to our faces. I think he was biding his time until the birth, thinking that would cure all.

He hasn't complained about the baby's cries - perhaps because the bedrooms aren't over against his apartment so the noise wouldn't be as bad, and one of us is always right there for our boy when any howling begins. Plus, it's not like a baby has any choice but to cry out... He's not a mature adult, after all. So what's my excuse?

Ahem.

When Mulder and I brought Daniel home, there was a dizzying mix of enchantment and terror and tears (all three of us, often all at once) and settling into a routine... Though Fox and I have been pretty lucky. We don't seem to have the tension between us that a lot of new parents complain of. Oddly enough, Mulder and I haven't fought a lot ever since I moved into his apartment - at least about domestic arrangements. Work is another matter, naturally.

Our worst moment was probably when my morning sickness first hit but I had thought it was the cancer returning and hid it from him while I underwent tests. He found out and went ballistic that I would keep quiet about it. I'm ashamed to say that I told him I didn't need him, when he was the one person I desperately did need. I was so scared that I would get sick again and I didn't want him to go through the worry until I was sure. It made me heartsick to think that I'd have to break the news to him once more and watch him get eaten up with guilt and we'd have to go through all that hell and I'd die this time, leaving him with an even bigger hole in his heart and access to a gun...

But we cried together and hugged together and went to the doctor's together to get the results...and found out we were going to be parents together instead of gaining more tragedy.

So our harmony was restored and magnified. Though I nearly screwed it up when Daniel was only a few weeks old. Naturally husband and I couldn't make the earth move in the same way for a bit, but, when he could tear his besotted self away from his son, Mulder made me feel like the most clever and smart and wonderful woman in the world for giving him such a gift. Sex could wait.

Well, they told us it could wait. In fact, they told us it had to wait six weeks. The trouble is that after two I couldn't stand it any longer. The birth hadn't been that difficult, and for the first time in months my stomach was flat, and one night I'd fed Daniel and gone to bed and I couldn't sleep. I just lay there tossing and turning and generally feeling miserable. I was so horny I thought I was going to lose my mind.

Nature was playing the dirty trick on me that it played on so many women. In my heart of hearts I knew that this was how babies were born 10 months apart - I'm a doctor, for crying out loud. But I still wanted Fox to make ME cry out loud! I didn't care for anything except sex. I wanted it. I wanted it badly. I told myself I was being ridiculous, but it sure as hell didn't feel ridiculous.

Mulder was no help. He had to pick this very time to be in his heavy sleep, instead of all those other hours of light sleep. He was dead to the world, and suddenly that really pissed me off. Here I was, horny and miserable, and he was laying next to me, zonking his z's like his newborn son. This was all Mulder's fault. If he hadn't shown me what sex could really be like and what an orgasm really is, then I wouldn't have desperately craved getting some more! It was his problem - he could damn well fix it.

So, what did I do? I woke him up. I actually woke my husband up and demanded that he make love to me. Or screw me senseless. Whichever. At first he was so punchy that I thought I was going to get him to comply with my wishes. He shed his boxers while muttering "Wife wants sex" over and over and I was sooooo close to getting some...but then he woke up properly and remembered that the obstetrician had said it was a no-no for six weeks. With all due consideration, Fox declined my rather open-worded and open-legged invitation. I know he wanted me, but he didn't want to hurt me. He also logically pointed out that we would now have to do something about birth control. I was not in the mood for logic. I wanted sex...right then and right there. I went ballistic. No, that isn't entirely true. I went hormonal, and poor Mulder ended up out on the couch, naked.

I was so angry and upset. Daniel must have sensed the fuss, because he woke up screaming, and I couldn't quiet him. He didn't want to be fed and he didn't want to be rocked and changing him didn't help, so I did what any self-respecting woman would do. I marched him out and handed him to his father, informing him that the kid didn't want me either, and went back to bed. I'm not sure when I finally cried myself to sleep, but by morning logic or hormonal balance had restored itself. I got up to find that Daniel was back in his cradle, and my husband was curled up in an uncomfortable heap on the couch, covered with an afghan.

The sight nearly made me cry. I wanted Fox back where he belonged - in bed with me, even if he couldn't be in bed IN me. So I apologized. I knew I had been out of line. With Fox doing so much, I didn't feel like a zombie the way most women with a newborn did. I had a husband who loved me enough that he wouldn't do anything that might hurt me - even though I had threatened to hurt him - and I knew he had wanted me so badly himself. I was a very lucky woman.

I think I shocked the hell out of him when I made it clear that morning in bed that although full sex may have to wait for me, I could still take care of his 'problem' before he could sneak away to deal with it himself, thinking that he was being a sensitive new age man. I figured that there was no reason for us both to suffer. Love has to be a two-way street, and I did love him so much at that moment. After that, in his own gentle way, he touched me and solved my problem too. It suddenly occurred to us that this was the perfect solution, without any danger to me. So, with everything right in the world again, we cuddled in satisfaction until Daniel woke up looking for a feed.

I laid the baby in bed with us, and Mulder just kind of stroked his son's soft hair as the baby nursed. It felt wonderful to just lie there, all three of us, and be a family.

When the gynecologist did give me the okay to way-hey-hey, I was ready for the whole nine yards though. Fox was still a bit...hesitant. Nervous. I thought it may have been my post-birth body that was the problem, even though I was now for the first time in my life big of breast and when I fed Daniel he loved to watch.

It turned out he was worried because he'd read that sex is never as good or the same for the woman once she's given birth. And he wanted it to be better than good for me. He didn't know if he could still pleasure me in the same way.

I was touched by his concern, but we had to at least try and see what happened before panicking. I'd been doing all those pelvic floor exercises religiously. And even after birth, some things don't change.

But things had changed. Amazingly, for the better. It had been six weeks since I'd had Fox inside me, so you could say I was primed. Welcome home, Babe. It had never been that intense.

We celebrated. Boy, did we celebrate. We wore a groove into the mattress and created so much friction I'm surprised that we didn't start an actual fire as well as the stoking and flaming explosions we gave each other internally.


Present
March 1999

Now I stand here, smiling, with a few tears, and I watch my husband who has nearly rocked himself to sleep along with Daniel.

"Hey, Stud," I call softly.

Fox blinks and gives that goofy I've-done-it-again grin.

"Yes, Wife?"

I walk over to him and kiss Daniel on the forehead. Our son puckers his lips slightly into the classic Mulder-pout, curls a tiny little hand across his face, and then settles again. Fox puts him down in the cradle and we arrange bedding, stare at our son, then turn to each other.

"Take me to bed, Big Daddy, or lose me forever," I say.

He knows it makes sense. It always makes sense. Plus, our kid will want his feed soon, so we'll have enough time to fool around first, instead of trying to get to sleep and then having to get up just when we do drop off.

Fox puts his arm around me and I put my arm around him...the difference being that I slip my hand under the band of his sweatpants and take a handful of that gorgeous butt. That butt that had better be between my legs within the next five minutes or I'll shoot him - I can blame the hormones. WHICH hormones is open to interpretation. I feel like having him on top tonight.

"Hey, hands off the merchandise unless you're buying it."

"I wanna road-test it first."

And suddenly I feel like having him on the couch. I steer him away from our bedroom door.

"Dana, what?"

"Couch, now. You, now." I tumble onto the piece of furniture in question and begin hauling up my nightgown, seizing big handfuls in my hurry.

"Me Tarzan, you Jane?" he half-kids, staring down at me in astonishment, definitely awake.

"Yes..." I moan impatiently. We haven't done it on the couch since before Daniel was born. The last time we were in the living room was when we had just decorated our first tree together on Christmas Eve, and Mulder was doing a damn great job of filling my stocking, so to speak, beneath it. Actually, I think that's what sent me into labor...because seven hours later, just after midnight, we were holding our beautiful boy.

A much better Christmas than the year before.

Fox's eyes glow, and next thing I know, my panties are off and have landed on the dining room table. Oh yes, if there's any of me left after this session, I want to try the table again.

"Ooooo! You ARE a Big Daddy..." are the last words I get out.

The world bursts apart and reforms and it is all Fox, all Fox, all mine... my God... How does he make it this good for me?

We lay in a drained heap on the couch. Then over my gasping and Fox's hoarse breathing in my ear, I hear a banging. Is Fox still going? I thought he'd just...

It's our neighbor. And boy, is he verbal.

"Shit, will you two give it a rest? You've already got one kid! Domestication should have set in! You should hate to touch each other! You've bred! Retire from the field!"

I somehow find enough breath to yell back, "I'd tell you

to kiss my ass, but there's already a claim stake driven

deep into this territory so shove -"

My words descend into a moan as my laughing (and very quickly recovered) husband takes matters into his own 'hands' and shuts me up by doing a bit of 'shoving' himself.

"I claim this land...on behalf of... Fox. William.

Mulder."

And he strikes the mother lode.

Our son tests his lungs again a few minutes later. Fox is just about to get up to let me tend to Daniel, and he's still laughing. "I know who's got the balls in this family, and it sure isn't me..."

"You're right about that," I purr, wrapping my arms and legs tighter around him for a moment so he can't escape from me. I do have them...right where I want them. All mine. "And don't ever forget it."


Present
March 1999

It's Sunday. We're sitting on the couch, clothed, playing with Daniel after an outing in the park. I want to be claimed again, but there's plenty of time for that when Daniel has his nap. My boys...

Fox spent a few hours this morning helping Malcolm swap his bedroom and living room around.

I've started looking in the Saturday Real Estate section in the Washington Post. Time we began to think about moving. I know that Fox is getting exasperated by the amount of quarters he's had to put into the washing machines - I don't think he realized just how much laundry an infant can produce each week. And I want us to have a proper home. I'm on unpaid leave from the Bureau at the moment; I'm lucky that Fox's money allows me the luxury of being off as long as I want, instead of having to rush back six weeks after the birth so there can be food on the table. And the money will also make sure we can get whatever house we want.

Or rather, the house I want. Mulder isn't too fussed as long as I like it and there's enough room for the essentials, like the bed and the couch and a nursery, as well as space outside for a basketball hoop and father-son sporting activities. During the last week, I've put Daniel in his carriage, and my boy and I have walked around Old Town Alexandria looking at townhouses while Mulder has been at work on the x-files, ringing me up every few hours to 'clarify' his thoughts and 'let' me argue with him. Ha. Next weekend Daniel and I will show Daddy our prime choices so far, perhaps sooner if he does what he's been threatening to do and ditch that new temporary partner of his and get suspended as a result.

Suspended over Spender. Sounds ironic enough. I've met the guy once and don't like him. What a dweeb. He even gives skeptics a bad name.

Daniel needs a change, which Fox does. I hear him say, "You're worth your weight in quarters, Danny-boy." Our son is allergic to disposable diapers, and for our own peace of mind and quality control, we don't use a diaper service. So my husband reappears from the nursery, Daniel in one arm, and carrying the diaper pail in his other hand, resigned to another trip to the laundry room. He hands the grinning baby over to me and jiggles his own pocket to make sure he has change. This is one of the few circumstance in which Fox seems to get this glazed 'how did Spooky Mulder get to thIS point?' look on his face and perhaps a wish that we'd reconsider our diaper service paranoia.

As he's about to go out the door, I say, "Fox."

"Hmmm?"

"Cheer up. We're aiding the environment."

He gives me a look more toxic than the contents of the bucket and mutters something.

I decide to give him his favorite incentive. "You'll get some later for being so good."

For a second the glazed look is gone, then he smirks.

"Nice try, Wife. But I always seem to get some anyway.

Almost every weekday and twice on Sundays."

And then some. He's right. We're still in our first year of marriage, after all, and damned if I can keep my hands off him or stop encouraging him. We're catching up on five years of abstinence too. I'm just glad that we're relatively young and healthy and have a lot of stamina. What can I say? We energize each other.

Time for some new incentive. I tell him about the scarves I bought a month ago and have been saving for a special occasion. Large, see-through scarves, perfect for a veil dance and for tying the consenting audience of one to the bed and dancing my tongue and mouth and body all over him...

Fox hurries to the laundry room with the bucket strategically positioned in front of him.

I see the gleaming gold band on his left hand as he disappears out the door, and I look over to our wedding photo on top of the hutch. Or rather, the photo of our first wedding...


Summer, 1998

When we found out I was not only pregnant, but three months so, Mulder had proposed to me that night over dinner. Next day, Saturday, I surprised him with tickets to Las Vegas so we could get married in the Elvis Chapel the next weekend. He was amazed and loved the idea, but he also agreed we would get married again after that by Father McCue in front of my whole family.

My family. Fox and I were planning to tell everyone that we were engaged at Sunday dinner...but...

Work intervened. Skinner said he had an X-File for us.

The Virgin Islands. Was he trying to tell us something? Well, a few years ago we did go to Hawaii, but we didn't have any time for sightseeing on that case.

So I had to ring Mom and cancel. I almost blurted the news out over the line, but somehow managed not to. I wanted to see the joy on her face in person. And I was having trouble myself accepting that one of my most desired wishes had come true. Fox and I would keep looking at each other with dazed grins, as if to check that this was really happening.

Mulder didn't like the idea of me flying in my condition, but women do it all the time, and besides it was only about a three hour flight. And we were going to fly to Vegas the next weekend. Since we both knew that this would probably be our last case together in the field, we didn't want to turn it down. Besides, it was St. Thomas, paradise.

We landed safely and went to pick up our rental car. They had lost our reservation and what we ended up with was a 1973 Volkswagen Bus painted with psychedelic flowers, apparently the proud possession of the establishment's brother-in-law. It was awful. At first I refused to get into it, but Mulder, who was obviously enjoying the situation, asked me where my sense of adventure was and dared me. I still refused. Then the bastard told me that Missy would have loved it. That got me. I think I muttered something about playing dirty pool, but I knew he was right. Missy would have loved it. She would have laughed herself silly at the sight of her prim and proper sister bouncing along the road in it too. Well, here's to Melissa. I'm sorry she never got to see the sight.

We checked into a nice little hotel in the capital of St. Thomas, a quaint little city called Charlotte Amelie, and went to the police station. Luck was with us this time, because just as we arrived they hauled in a rather strange looking man in dreds who was flying higher than Peter Pan on God-only-knows what. He was eager to confess to a string of murders that had left the police baffled enough to call in the Spook Brigade.

Mulder thought we were going to turn around and go right back to DC, but I set him straight on that. It was the weekend. I had had to cancel dinner at Mom's to come on this case. We were in paradise, and I told him we were staying and enjoying it for at least 48 hours. We returned to the hotel where unfortunately I had a nasty bout of nausea, but it passed and I changed into some shorts and a tee shirt, and we went and had lunch. No Planter's Punch for me. I couldn't drink in my condition. They say it packs quite a wallop, but God, this baby was too much a shock and too much of surprise to take that kind of a risk. Anyway, we had a nice leisurely lunch after a walk along the waterfront. The Caribbean is so blue.

I told Mulder I wanted to shop. Can that man whine or what? He hates to shop and I don't blame him, but this was special. It was a beautiful little town filled with cobbled alleys and hanging baskets of flowers, and you could feel the history all around you. It's a duty free port and well...I wanted to shop. I was pregnant. He gave in. The first bargain I found was a gorgeous Lladro baby for the hutch, which was still practically empty. He teased me about wanting a China baby when I had a real one coming, but tough. I wanted it. It was a little boy with a halo. Then I saw a dress that I had to have. It was so totally different from anything I usually buy, a piece of white gossamer with the most beautiful yellow embroidery. I knew it would be perfect over the summer as my tummy expanded, and it was. I talked him into it.

Of course, the clouds started to move in, a fact he had predicted as he whined, and then next thing we were running down an alley, sloshing through three inches of water almost immediately after the sky opened up and poured buckets on us. There is no sewer system per se in the city. In fact, the water that runs off of roofs is collected in barrels and reused.

By the time we ducked into a small store, the first we came to, I was laughing so hard I couldn't stop. I don't think I've laughed like that since the night in Oregon on our first case together, when I found myself standing in a cemetery in the cold, pouring rain, getting suckered into my insane partner's theories on aliens and lost time. He laughed with me then and laughed with me now, all these years later, only this time the water was warm, and I was carrying my insane partner's child, who in theory would be human. If you want to call Mulder human that is. There are times when I do wonder.

The most beautiful woman I have ever seen popped out of the back room of the store and asked if she could help us.

It was then that Fox was able to pull his gaze away from my transparent tee shirt long enough to see the ring. You know, it's funny, but I hadn't even really thought about rings. I thought we'd pick up a couple of plain gold bands before we went out to Vegas, and that would be that. Mulder and I have never really had a particularly normal romantic relationship. He brought flowers to the hospital once when I had cancer, roses actually, but by the next day all the heads had flopped over, and they had ended up looking worse than me after a chemo session. But he saw the ring, and he fell in love with it - an aquamarine set in platinum with diamonds. I guess I should have just said yes, but I had to argue about it being too expensive. What an idiot. Since St. Thomas is a duty free port, the ring was very affordable and so were the two wedding bands that matched. This made him right about something for the first time since I've known him. Well, score one for Spooky. The ring was a perfect fit.

It was like fate.

I told the clerk we were going to Vegas to get married, and she asked why we shouldn't get married right there on St. Thomas, with no waiting period or blood tests, etc. It occurred to me that it would be a beautiful setting, but I started to say no because Mulder loves the King and I already had the tickets, but Mulder told her to make the arrangements. I hope I was smiling when I told her that she was an astute business woman. I know I was happy inside, but I was shaking too. I mean my mind was so swarmy, I said I had nothing to wear, despite holding a bag in my hand containing a gossamer white dress. I guess I was just that shocked.

Like I say, Mulder and I have never really had a terribly romantic relationship in the conventional sense. I mean, for five years we worked together. We had no illusions left about each other when my apartment burned down and I went to stay with him temporarily. The domestic arrangement worked against all odds. There was no dating, no courtship, just Mulder and Scully on the couch one night several weeks later and then wham bam, thank you ma'am, the unexpected gift of a child. Now, suddenly, he was making up for it all at once.

And all my lectures to him about hypothermia over the years had finally sunk in, because as soon as we got back to the hotel, he got me out of those wet clothes and into bed and quickly sunk the message home some more.


Summer, 1998
Magens Bay, Virgin Islands

Over the years, I've taught myself not to cry. I didn't cry when Daddy died and I didn't cry when Missy or Emily died. The tears would form in my eyes, but I'd almost always hold them back. I didn't cry when they told me I had cancer. I did cry after Pfaster, but only for a moment. I think I made up for it the morning of my wedding as I stood on that beautiful beach at sunrise. My tears flowed throughout the whole ceremony because everything was so perfect and harmonious.

"Do you wish your family were here?" Fox asked me, concerned that I was having second thoughts.

"They weren't going to be with us in Vegas anyway," I pointed out. "We can tell them when we get back. We're overlooking the sea - that's where Ahab's ashes were scattered. He's here... And -" I took Fox's hand and placed it on my belly. "- I have my family here with me." I thought of the song 'Beyond the Sea', that Mom and Dad had played at their wedding.

Lila, the clerk from the store, had braided pale yellow flowers in my hair. Her brother was there to perform the ceremony, his little girl was dressed in pink to act as flower girl, and his lovely wife acted as another witness. There was a cousin to take pictures. There we stood, Mulder and I, two pale faces among the ebony. Fox spent the ceremony with his hands cupping my face, gently wiping the tears away with his thumbs. He had a wonderful, tender smile on his face the whole way through... The Justice of the Peace had music in his voice. It was just beautiful, like a dream. When it was over, my stomach was patted, and I was told we would have a beautiful, healthy boy.

Mulder's smile became a full-fledged grin.

Finally, everyone was gone, and Mulder and I were alone on the beach. We went into the back of the van and slipped into bathing suits and lay out in the early morning sun. I felt a little funny. I realized that my tummy had popped and I was no longer flat in the bikini. Mulder told me he thought it was beautiful. I finally got my swim in the Caribbean. It was just beautiful, as warm and as perfect as I had expected.

We dried off and then I don't know what the heck came over me. I think it was because Fox kissed me and called me Mrs. Mulder for the first time, but I found myself desperately searching for some place private. I wanted him so badly I felt like my body would blow apart if I didn't have him. Let's blame it on hormones. The van was parked near some palm trees, and, taking him there, I put my arms around him and felt the desired response. We didn't make it inside the van... My husband lifted me into his arms and I wrapped my legs around him, and the side of that van got the shortest, sweetest workout of its life. Maybe it was the excitement at the possibility of being seen. I don't know. I never used to be this wild. Hell, I never used to be wild at all. The only thing 'wild' about Jack and me had been our age difference.

I do know that if I hadn't been pregnant already, it would have been guaranteed when Mulder was finished, as it seemed like he drained that much into me. I know it was magic for him. It sure was for me. It was one of those sweet, sweet climaxes that you didn't have to work to reach. It was just there, leaving you feeling drained and complete. Over the last three - nearly four - months, I had been learning all about climaxes. Doing major catch-up study and after hours work.

We might have gone for round two, but we heard someone coming. That ugly van was the most beautiful thing in the world as we climbed inside it and closed ourselves off from the world. Mulder still refers to it as the love machine. I told him later that I thought 'sex machine' was more like it. A CD player had been installed in it, and Fox had magically found an Elvis CD, so we made the van do the old shake, rattle and roll. It wasn't Elvis' hound dog that was crying all the time...it was me, and it wasn't cries of displeasure either.

Not quite the same as having Bobby Darin's 'Beyond the Sea' as 'our' song, like my parents did, but I didn't mind in the least.

Fox stared down at me. "Do you know how long I wanted you - this?"

I shook my head, unable to remember what words to use. I was surprised I could still remember English.

"Five. Years." He underscored each word and not just with his voice.

"Five?" I gasped.

"Five." He reiterated his underscoring. "One."

Filled my mind and my body.

"Two."

Shockwaves traveled through me.

"Three."

And built and built and built.

"Four...."

The sensations had all collected into every cell, full to overflowing, and they had to release, they had to...

"Five -"

Civilizations rose and fell and peaked and ebbed and existed and ceased and built again...

Awareness returned slowly. We were still joined. I was still in shock. Whoever thought that being legal could be such a sex-enhancer?

Mulder moved. I gasped and clung tightly to him; then I realized that he was not about to leave me - he was just turning us over onto our sides so that I was not crushed and so he could hold me.

He chuckled. "Not going to let you go." Then his voice became more emotional as his hold became tighter. "NEVER going to let you go."

I clung to my husband, but he eased me back a little so he could run his left hand down my front. I thought I knew where he was heading...but he stopped at a certain point on my belly, and stroked it lovingly. My hand joined his, feeling the wedding ring, resting on our child.

After a long time of laying that way, his hand continued its journey.

When my new husband was finally through with me, I couldn't help but burst out laughing again in spite of the fact that he had actually managed to wear me out. I mean here he was, lying on the floor of the old van, bitching and moaning that he might never be able to get it up again - at least until tomorrow - and all I could think of was Missy's reaction to the idea of her priggish baby sister getting her brains screwed out in the back of an VW old bus and enjoying every minute of it. Just as well the suspension was already ruined. The laughter stopped when my husband pointed out to me that I also had an older brother, but it didn't stop me for long. I told Mulder I would make sure that Bill got all the details when I saw him. I think I scared my husband and Mulder doesn't frighten easily.

That was probably the most beautiful day of my life, perhaps better than the night we made the baby on the couch, equaled by when they put Daniel Fox into my arms.

And as for the day we went to tell my family all the news...


The Sunday After The Wedding

Well, I suppose it worked out for the best that our schedules were messed up for once. If we had gone to Mom's the Sunday right after I found out I was pregnant, Bill and Charlie would not have been there. Bill's plans got cancelled the same way ours got changed, and Charlie was out to sea. Anyway, now we could break the news to the whole family at once. Poor Fox. He was so nervous. I had a vision of him blurting out the news the moment we walked in the door and then running for his life. I begged him to let me do it.

I knew he was right when he said in the car that we should take the rings off until the whole family was assembled, otherwise we'd give the game away early, but somehow the thought of Fox Mulder without a wedding ring drove me crazy. Yeah, call me a jealous bitch if you want, but I hadn't forgotten how women reacted to him. Well, I told him a thing or two about the removal of wedding rings. He was mine, and I wanted the whole world to see it.

He concurred. I liked how pregnancy had turned him into a yes-man. It so became him...

The nausea had been getting better over the week since the wedding. I mean I was in my fourth month by that stage, and days passed without trips to the bathroom. Soon there should be none, but, of course, my stomach started feeling upset in the car. I hoped it would pass, but naturally it didn't. Tara slobbered all over me when she saw me, which didn't help. I love my sister-in-law dearly. I mean, she is a wonderful woman to put up with Bill and all, but she was wearing some sort of perfume and, well, strange things happen when you are pregnant. The nausea got worse. I must have been green when she was done hugging me, because even Bill noticed.

Of course, Charlie's wife wasn't there and I wanted to tell everyone together, and so what happened was, not five minutes after we arrived, I had to run out of the room and puke my guts up, leaving my poor, benighted husband in the same room with my two brothers, the older one of whom hated him and had been filling the younger one in on all the sordid details of everything Mulder had ever done wrong.

They thought I had cancer again, and Mulder was alone to face the hordes. Mom was hovering over me, and I tried to send her back out to look after Fox, but she didn't realize, and I wasn't really in a position to explain. The truth is that my husband did not deserve their shit, if you will pardon me. He was still reeling from his own mother's reaction, that of being totally nonplussed. That had hurt him when he had called to tell her. More pain that he didn't need. I'm just glad my mom was there. She loves him and I knew she would be delighted. It didn't take them long to notice the rings once I came back out. Cue scenes of riotous delight by the Scully women.

Naturally Bill and Charlie then tried to subtly throw some weight around.

I have to say one thing for Mulder. He handled himself well. Bill was really asking for it, and in the past I think Mulder would have gone off half-cocked and given him one right in the jaw. He didn't though. He just looked Bill in the eye and told him flat out that he wasn't going to apologize for loving me and being happy with me. He spoke so quietly and with such authority that I think even Bill sensed it was 'End of story'. Now if I could only get him to react that way with Skinner, we'd be set, but a woman can't have everything, I guess. Dinner was a little uncomfortable, but Mom kept things under control, and as I expected, she was delighted. When she had visited Mulder and me at the apartment over the last few months and when we or I visited her, she may have suspected that Fox and I had become lovers, but she never said anything. I'm not sure.

Tara, Mom and Laura wanted to hear all about the wedding, so I told them...what I thought they were old enough to hear, that is.

By the end of the day, Charlie was coming around well. He and Mulder are both Knicks fans, and the two of them had a good time in the den watching the game and eating Mom's bundt cake. It wasn't male bonding exactly, but there was no overt hostility. Bill was quiet, which was all that I wanted of him. If he had tried anything, I would have protected my man with all guns blazing. Tara and Laura just about bent my ear off with baby stories, which was kind of fun. I'm not used to that sort of conversation. It felt very, well, female.

And Mom, well, she just kind of walked around and smiled. I don't even think she cared all that much about a Church wedding to be honest. I know she was wishing that Ahab was here. No matter what anyone says, I know Daddy would have liked Mulder. I'm not sure he would have totally appreciated what Mulder did to me in the back of the love machine, but I know he would have liked the man I chose to spend my life with. I can't tell anyone - they would think I am crazy - but sometimes I feel that when I was in that coma, Daddy sent me back because he knew I was meant to be with Mulder. He couldn't tell me, but somehow he knew.


Present

Now Daniel is asleep and fortunately remains that way as I put him down for his nap. I glance at the nursery rhyme clock on the wall - present from Teena. Limited edition, very expensive. Very impersonal though. The parcel arrived a few days after her grandson was born, but she didn't deliver it herself. She might be showing some signs of thaw though. She rang up a few weeks later and said to me: "I've been looking at the photos you've been sending me..." There was a long pause. "He's lovely..." Some emotion slipped out through the aloofness. She might make a grandmother yet - nothing like Mom, but for Mulder's sake and Daniel's sake, I'll be grateful for any effort.

I go back into the living room to find my husband has returned and is on the couch, flicking through the Real Estate section, checking out my circle marks. He looks at me over the top of the paper. "Anything worth moving into yet?"

I give him the page number of the most interesting prospect, and he looks at it and goes, "Maybe, but don't you thi-" He stops, having looked up again to find that I'm shedding my clothes. I'll get the scarves out later.

"At the moment, Husband, I'm less interested in moving house than moving the earth."

The paper is thrown to the floor at the same time my bra is. Fox and I start examining each other's properties, and he is quite happy to move into mine.

Yes, I have found the perfect occupant. For my body, my life, and my heart.

The End

Author's notes: Ten here. Several months ago I had an idea for a vignette of Mulder & Scully going to break the news to the Scully clan that they were not only married, but pregnant too. I was going to write it as a standalone, but kept thinking of Mac's Couch universe, and thought that if allowed, I'd love to explore that moment in time for that M&S, as well as life with little Daniel. It was wonderful to not only have one of my favorite writers say 'sure, go ahead', but for her to trust me enough to hand her baby over and say 'do what you like, this is your story'...!

Then we started plotting about the wedding and post-birth and the vignette grew and grew because once one of us came up with an idea, it was 'okay, you write S's POV of that and I'll write M's.' It's been a blast. And in answer to a friend's comment: Mulder has survived the retrovirus and black cancer and gunshots, etc, so he'll survive all this sex too! He's resilient. LOL. Or he'll die with one hell of a grin on his face...

Title: 06. Spreading Good News
Author: Ten
Category: V, A, M&S Married
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: The X-Files, the episodes referred to, Mulder and Scully and all other characters from the show belong to Chris Carter, Ten Thirteen Productions and Fox Broadcasting, and are used without permission. No copyright infringement is intended, no profit will be gained. Characters not recognized from the show are either mine or Mac's.

Summary: Informing relations and friends that you and your wife have just become parents is one of the most happy tasks in the world. For Mulder, however, things are never quite that easy...

Timespan/spoiler warning: This is set in Macspooky's Daniel/Couch universe. You don't have to have read the others to follow this vignette: suffice to say that in the series M&S become lovers a few months after the events of "Emily" and then find that Scully is pregnant.

It is a great series that can be found at Gossamer, and it includes: "A Christmas Miracle", "Dreams of a New Father", "The Couch", "Making It" and "Making It Legal", plus a few others that are bubbling at present...

Dedication: To David, Tea and Madelaine, who are starting out on the path - have a great journey.


"Okay, Mommy and Daddy, smile!"

I hear the nurse's words but I don't care. The flash of the camera going off is something noted on the edge of my vision. Neither Dana or I are smiling at the camera. We're too busy gazing at our son. He's about two hours old and perfect. Even the doctor said so and she's nowhere near as biased as I am.

Well, okay, Daniel is red and a little squashed-looking, but I knew to expect that. After what he went through to get here, he's entitled. I don't care. He's healthy, that's the main thing. And he's ours.

Dana gave birth two weeks early after only seven hours of labor. Since her pregnancy had been considered high-risk, her doctor had no hesitation in admitting her to the hospital to be monitored as soon as labor began, instead of waiting it out at home for the contractions to become shorter. Just as well. And I hadn't phoned Maggie to let her know her grandchild was on the way, because Dana had asked me not to for a few more hours at least, thinking it would be a long ordeal and one she didn't want her mother to have to endure until things really started happening. "It's hard on a mother when her daughter is in pain and she can't do anything about it."

So we've been through recovery and are now settling into our private room. My arms are around Scully from behind. She's resting against my torso and the pillows and holding Daniel, and I'm so glad my arms are long because I can wrap them around my two favorite people in the world at the same time.

The nurse gives me the Polaroid and I nod absently with a faint "Thanks" and put it in my pocket. I'd rather look at the real thing.

I am a father. This is my son. My chin is resting over Dana's shoulder, but I want to bury my face there and cry.

I stroke Daniel's hair. He's got a ton of it. My hair. I watch his tiny little hand. I watch his nose bob as he moves his lips in his sleep.

Daniel Fox. Dan for Dana. I guess it also sounds like Sam. Though Danny in the FBI labs will think it's for him. Scully and I knew early on that we were going to have a boy, and when we were discussing options, she at first hinted that she wanted something similar to MY name.

"Oh, no! No Fox Junior! Uh uh - forget it!"

"Mulder, I know you'd never go for thAT. I said I want it to be something LIKE your name."

Something LIKE my name? Just what else IS like my name? I was afraid to ask. The pregnancy hormones weren't getting her to consider Zorro or Reynard, were they? Or was she talking about my surname, which I've always liked better than my first name apart from when Dana says it in that voice of hers... The effect it had on me the first time she said it in the car on the Tooms stakeout - well, it scared the hell out of me and so I didn't dare let her do that again until we'd become involved and I could let myself enjoy it at last.

Where was I? Fox or Mulder... Either way, the poor kid... I hoped I could talk some sense into his well-meaning Mommy for all of our sakes.

Dana continued, "After all, we should mark this special occasion. The fact we finally became lovers was miraculous enough, but for you to knock me up in the bargain, on the first time, in what was supposedly a barren field... You deserve recognition."

"You standing on Colton's desk and telling the entire bullpen what I'd done was recognition enough, wife."

She was not deterred, though she did give a brief and very satisfied grin at that memory. "Even if we just find a first name starting with F to tie in," she coaxed.

I wrinkled my nose. "I can't think of a single good boy's name that starts with an F. Frank. Fred. Ferdinand. Besides, I have a better idea."

"Am I going to have to wait in suspense, or does this involve use of the slide projector?"

"Ha ha. How about Daniel?"

She thought for a moment. "I do like that - hey, hold it; why Daniel? It wouldn't have anything to do with MY name, would it?"

"Yeah..." I realized I was neatly trapping myself.

"What's good for the goose ISN'T good for the gander?"

"It's different with you - you've got a much nicer name."

"Look, Fox, there must be a way to combine both of our names."

"Danfo? Foxana?" I ducked.

"No. Daniel Fox."

Dana could see I wasn't opposed to the idea. It did combine the best of us, which was just what this baby would hopefully become. So to seal the bargain and distract the hell out of me, she promptly seduced me. And that was that. Okay, I'm easily convinced with the right type of incentive. Too bad Dana didn't try that when she was flaming my theories in the first or second year of our partnership....

Now, as we hold each other in our room, my wife and I have barely spoken since our son arrived. We are too full of what we've gone through. What we have given each other and been given.

But our eye contact has never been as intense and meaningful in the six years we've known each other. Not even during our wedding. Not even when we're making love.

After a feed, Daniel is put down in his little plastic crib, right up close to the bed where Dana can reach out and touch him, and we are finally left alone. A trio. Exhaustion has caught up with my wife though, the adrenalin ebbing.

"Go ring Mom," she tells me sleepily.

Oh yeah...I have a list of people to phone. Not a very big list, mind you, because people who are around us tend to have a high morbidity rate and we're running out of relatives and we never really had that many friends to start with.

Why am I letting my thoughts be so morbid right now?

"I'll do that when you're asleep," I promise, kissing her. "I'll tell the whole world just what my wife has given me. Ya done good, G-woman." She smiles and lies so that she can stare at Daniel while holding my hand. I stroke her forehead. Within minutes she's joined our son in dreamland. I watch them both for several minutes more, before reluctantly leaving as quietly as I can manage without tripping over my own awe and amazement.

The corridor is so quiet. No bustle. Everyone must be trained not to wake the babies, I guess. Then I get a good look at a wall clock.

Shit. One thing we've both forgotten in the rush: Daniel was born just after midnight. Now it's past two in the morning. Should I wait until a 'decent' hour to wake everyone up?

Well, everyone will probably be having early mornings anyway, with it being Christmas and all. Bill and Charlie will be woken up by their kids in a few hours, yelling that Santa has been and left all kinds of wonders.

Oh God - in a few years, that'll be ME.

I never thought...

I choke back the tears.

And I know that I have to phone Maggie now. She deserves to be the first to hear, and she deserves to know ASAP. How would she feel if I rang her at breakfast and she asked for time of arrival and I said: "Twelve o-one last night"? She'd kick butt. The birth of a grandchild, especially this grandchild, is worth being awakened for.

Christmas Eve had been going really well at my - now OUR - apartment. Dana and I had just finished decorating our first tree. Of course I had to reach the top branches because of Dana's girth, but she directed the placement of every ornament. I like spontaneity, but she takes Christmas very seriously. I said how sexy she looked in the glow of the colored lights and then next thing you know our clothes were nearly dangling from the branches like bizarre ornaments and we were beneath the tree making love. Hmmm, perhaps she likes spontaneity too. It was beautiful. Even if I had to put up with wooden angels knocking against my naked flesh as if punishing me for sinning, and I had to be careful not to poke my eyes out on the pine needles.

We finished and were laying there, me on my side, arm encircling her belly as she lay on her back. We just drifted for a while. Then, without warning, her water broke and we were brought back to reality in an instant.

I went from bliss to terror. I tore myself to shreds inside - the baby was coming early. No way to stop it. This was my fault. I shouldn't have made love to her; I should have told my hormones to take a hike... We rushed to the hospital. Neither of us had been in any condition to think about anyone but her and the baby.

For all the scare though, the labor was actually fairly easy on Dana. A few bad pains and a few stitches. No complications. I can breathe again.

I'm glad it was over so quickly, but the speed still scared the hell out of me.

Now, duty calls.

I can't have my cell phone on in here, so I go to a wall phone. I'm still within sight of the room. The room that my family is in. I pull out the Polaroid and just stare at it. I prop it up on the phone as I lift the receiver. I have a son. I am a father... Everything has happened so fast. It's still hard enough to believe that Dana is my lover, let alone my wife, and now...

Okay, Maggie first. Ring in this Christmas for her with the best news in the world. About time I finally got to phone her up with some joy.

The phone rings until her answering machine picks up. I hang up without leaving a message, frowning. Where the heck would Mom be at this hour? Surely any Midnight Mass would be well over by now?

Oh shit, I'm an idiot. Maggie isn't at home this week. That's another reason why we didn't tell her Dana was in labor - she couldn't have come to the hospital anyway. She'd gone to spend Christmas with Charlie and Laura and the kids seeing as they missed out last year. In Denver.

So I dial the number by memory, ticked off with myself and brain-drained, and also forget that Maggie isn't going to be the one answering the phone.

"Hello?" comes Charlie's sleep-thick voice, throwing me.

"Um...hi, Charlie, it's Mulder."

"Mulder? You know what time it is, man? What the hell's going on?"

Damn it - I don't want to tell him before Maggie knows. Maggie has the right to know first. "Um, I'm...sorry to bother you..." I'm a dad I'm a dad! "But, uh, can I please talk to Mom - if she's awake?"

"Why?"

"Just - I'll explain everything... I just need to talk to her. We're okay," I add, to offset any more panic than this whole situation is creating. How do I get INTO these messes?

"Just a minute." He doesn't sound too happy. The phone is put down and I can hear a little voice saying, "Can we open our presents yet, Dad?" though the voice sounds like it can barely even open its own eyes at the moment. Whoops, I'm going to get it for that one, baby or no baby.

There's a babble of voices and "Why? What's wrong?" and Charlie saying "Dana's husband would like to speak to you, Mom."

"Fox?" I hate the frantic tone in her voice, that it was necessary to put it there. But in a few seconds I'll blow it away. "Fox, what's wrong?"

"You've got a beautiful little grandson, Mom. We had our little boy at 12:01 tonight. Dana and baby are doing fine. Merry Christmas, Mom." I hope that wasn't as much of a garbled rush as it sounded to me...

"Oh my God! She's had the baby! Dana's had the baby! Is she all right? Is he?" is some of what I can pick out of HER elated garbled rush of a reply.

"Dana's fine. I'm recovering! He's perfect, Mom. He's got heaps of brown hair."

Maggie is crying, overwhelmed, thanking God and talking about Christmas miracles, and my heart is aching, but it's a wonderful ache, and I can hear Charlie and Laura in the background, and I really need to sit down because my knees feel like they're about to give out...

"He's early..." Maggie says.

"He doesn't take after me then." She 'grills' me on the length of labor and things that a guy probably isn't comfortable talking to his mother-in-law about. She says she'll fly home as soon as possible.

"Mom, it's fine. Enjoy Christmas morning and dinner with everyone there." I convince her to wait until tomorrow or the 27th to come back to D.C. Then I can pick her up and we'll all be settled at home and she won't have to throw all Laura's plans for today into chaos.

One of Charlie's sons, upon being told he has a new cousin, asks if the baby was born in a manger. Charlie himself seems pleased enough for me and offers to buy me a drink when they come visit.


Anyway, that's taken care of Charlie, and his clan as well, so I can tick them off my mental list. I really don't want to make the next call. Bill. But the longer I hold it off, the more angry and insulted he's going to get at the 'demotion'. Perhaps they're up walking the floor with Matthew anyway. Perhaps I'll get Tara. Fifty-fifty chance, because Bill isn't at sea at the moment. Unfortunately. The thought makes me feel guilty that I want him away from his family at Christmas.

Would I stop overanalyzing things already?

Sooner I get this done, sooner I can go back to my wife and child.

I stare at Dana and Daniel in the photo as I punch in the numbers. "The things I do for you two..."

The phone is picked up. The gruff "Scully residence" is nearly obliterated by the howls of a disgruntled almost-one-year-old. Uh oh.

I swallow. "It's Mulder."

"Mulder? What the hell do you think you're doing? You woke the kid up! And us!"

"I'm sorry, but -"

Then I hear Tara approaching. Next thing I know Matthew isn't howling as much and she's on the phone. "Fox - what's wrong? Is Dana okay?"

"Yeah - she just had the baby. A little boy. I'm sorry I disturbed you, I just thought you'd want to know..." My tone starts out joyous then leeches away into doubt.

"Of course we wanted to know! Oh, that's fantastic! Are they okay? How long a labor? When? Billy, you're an uncle!"

I hear him mutter, "So what? I'm already an uncle."

I'm answering all her questions and then she promises to ring tomorrow to have a longer talk. As she gives all her love to all of us and heads off to tend to Matthew, I hear her tell Bill to wish us a Merry Christmas at least.

Oh, don't put Bill back on the phone, please don't -

By the sound of his voice, he doesn't want to be here either. "Give Dana our love and congratulations. We'll come down and see her and Daniel as soon as we can."

"Okay, thanks." Give Dana and Daniel - not me. Well, Bill, I don't want your love, but some congratulations wouldn't go astray. Or would you have preferred a virgin birth like with Emily instead of me muddying your gene pool?

Bill goes to ring off. I stare at the Polaroid, at my little boy. And Daniel empowers me. I don't have to take this.

"Bill?"

"Yeah?"

"I've just become a father - I'm on top of the world and I don't have to take any shit from you, stated or otherwise. Contrary to your opinion, which is that the world revolves all around you, I don't care what you think."

He blusters, and I smile at Polaroid Daniel. Thanks kid.

That felt GOOD.

My silence gives Bill time to regroup and bite back, aiming for the jugular. "Dad would never have approved of you."

"The only Scullys I care about are Maggie and Dana and my son. Merry Christmas," I say, and hang up on him.

I realize I'm shaking with anger and try to make myself calm down. Bill can't help it, I tell myself. It's just his nature. He should know what it's like to be a new father, but - as much as the thought makes me dry-heave - my psychologist training makes me look at this from his perspective. He could be disgruntled because his own son's birth happened during Emily's illness and death. He was robbed of his crown, so to speak. It was his time to be in the family spotlight. He and Tara had been trying for ages, Dana told me. Then they faced the difficulty of enjoying the imminent arrival of their baby when his sister was fighting to save her own child, then mourning for her loss. It would have been hard for him to know how to react to Dana or treat her. The same with Tara and Maggie.

I can understand how difficult it was and still is for him. I can. If only the man wasn't such an innate jerk by nature anyway, we could perhaps have become friends.

Now we're stealing the thunder of his baby's first Christmas...

And jealousy will probably have a part in all this, because as much as Maggie treats her grandchildren equally, I have a feeling that Daniel will be her favorite. He already is, and she hasn't even seen him. But she'll get to see him every week from now on. Her only surviving daughter's child.

I really wish I could phone Melissa and tell her. And Samantha... Not that my sister seems to care since that night in the diner. If she was my sister. I just don't know. Just like I don't know whether to believe in aliens or not anymore. But whether aliens or Consortium or both...SOMEthING big and diabolical is being worked towards. That I do know.

I need a break from this angst - time to make a happy call.

Frohike's yawn contains "Lone Gunmen" somewhere within its depths.

I don't care if the tape is on - in fact, I hope it is on. I want a record of this kept for all posterity. "Hi guys, I couldn't find the three wise men, so the three stooges will have to do. Just giving you your Christmas present. You're uncles."

"SCULLY'S HAD thE KID!" Frohike bellows. Next thing I know, all three are on the speaker phone. I tell them that all is well with us and Daniel Fox.

"This wouldn't happen to coincide with a big astronomical event, would it - like a mother of a star in the East?" Byers asks.

"Haven't checked yet, but I wouldn't be surprised if there was."

"Mulder, did you cut the cord?" comes from Langly.

"Yeah, I did."

Langly crows, "Ha! Told you!" to the others.

"Did you faint?" Byers asks.

"No." I knew that one was coming.

A snort comes from Frohike. "Rephrase that so it sounds more manly, Byers. Did you pass out or collapse?"

"Not at any stage."

"He's lying," Byers says. "I'll check with Scully."

Langly laughs. "You just don't want to hand the moola over."

"Were you lot betting on the birth?" I ask.

Langly isn't fazed. "I bet that you'd cut the cord, no problems. Frohike thought you'd turn down cutting it. Byers thought you would, but you'd faint."

"It was actually pretty quick, all things considered. There were two of us, then suddenly there were three... I can't really give you any gory details."

Langly shows his practical side. "Well, Daddy, it's gonna be at least six weeks until you can get any again - think you'll survive? You can sneak round here and visit your video collection."

"No thanks. I lived like a monk for ages - I'm sure I'll pick it up again. My time will be plenty occupied, and my hands will be full in another way."

"Yeah, with diapers!"

I go to the nurses' station and do some heavy-duty flirting and appeal to their Christmas spirit (and nearly bring out my badge) so that I can enlarge the Polaroid on their photocopier and send it to the guys via fax. I send it myself to spare the overworked nurses. And so they can't see the Gunmen's number.

I don't know if the nurses gave in due to my killer pout and soulful eyes combo or to get rid of me or because they know how special this baby is to us. A miracle no matter what day he's born on. Gotta admit though - the kid's got a great flair for timing.


I ring Mom. I don't want to disturb her, but there's a good chance she'll be up, sitting in the kitchen, reading. Or just staring into space. What does she think of during those dead hours? Samantha, Dad, that man...?

I used to think that I knew my mother, but I really don't. I don't know how she'll react if I don't phone now, if she'll react at all. If I wait until morning, I'd feel uncomfortable, especially if she finds out that Maggie knew much earlier than her. Not that Teena has shown much interest in becoming a grandmother.

She'd feel more snubbed if I didn't call than actually caring about what it is that I tell her.

"Hello?"

I haven't awakened her - she's alert and I can hear the scrape of a chair over the kitchen floor. I know that sound well. "Hi Mom..."

There is a slight pause. "What is it, Fox?"

Only in my family can I ring my mother at this hour and not be asked what's wrong. "Um, sorry for ringing late, but Dana went into labor yesterday, and we just had a son."

"Oh." She sounds flustered. Trying to work out how to react. "Is everything all right?"

"Yes. He was born at midnight. He's got a heap of hair!" I'm getting excited again, the terror and angst fading as I recall that first sight of my son, of holding him. "Brown hair..."

"You did too, when I was conscious enough to see."

She's trying to cover it, but I can hear the strain in her voice. And she goes on and asks a few standard questions, but she's forcing enthusiasm into her voice. Glad to have a script to follow.

Why do I set myself up on such a high when I know I'm going to have the pillar knocked out from under me? Mom, what do you want from me? Sam? I tried and tried. I gave up so much of my life, and Dana's... We deserve some happiness. We deserve this. Can't you be happy for me? Be happy to be a grandmother?

After Dad died, there was a time when Mom and I did actually become close for the first time since Sam disappeared, but that all came to a grinding halt when I demanded to know about her relationship with Cancerman. And that was that.

She promises to visit but doesn't say when. Typical. If I dropped her words onto the floor, they would ring with hollowness. We round off our conversation like two passers-by commenting about the weather.

Oh God, is that what sort of a parent I'm going to turn into? Unloving? Unmoved? Indifferent to my firstborn?

*Dad would never have approved of you.*

I need a grounding...

I ring Skinner. By the background noise, he's at some party. Wow, must be a pretty good party to be still going at this hour. He must have a decent social life again.

"I'm a Dad..." I tell my boss, wondering how long it will be before I'm used to saying that. Probably in a week's time when I'm so sleep-deprived that I don't know if it's 3 in the morning or 3 in the afternoon and my wonderful son is howling the building down. "Santa's given us a little boy."

Our boss, our friend, is overjoyed. He'd come over right now if the hospital would let him in.

He's more enthusiastic than my own mother.

After establishing that Dana and Daniel are fine, Skinner then asks something that no-one else has. "How are you, Mulder?"

"Me?" I laugh even as I stumble a reply. "I'm fine. I-I'm not the one that had to do all the w-work."

No, I just stood there helplessly as the woman who means more to me than my life screamed in pain and there was no bad guy to shoot to make things better or stop her suffering. And it was all my fault because I shouldn't have made love to her last night even though she was very willing to aid and abet - what was I thinking? Thinking with my damn selfish -

All the feelings were crashing back over me. If anything went wrong, I was to blame. It wasn't time - this was two weeks early. Was the baby going to be all right? Was Dana? What if he wasn't healthy? Could we cope? Would he die? A miracle that was never meant to be? Nine months to get used to the possibility, the hope, then to have it snatched away...

I vaguely realize that Skinner's worried voice is coming down the line. "Fox? Fox, it's okay. It's all right to be scared. It'll be all right. They're both fine. You're going to be a great father."

Am I? How can I be? Dana's father wouldn't approve of me.

My own father... I flinch.

Can I look after my son? How can I watch him 24 hours a day? What if he falls into a swimming pool? What if he eats a penny? What if he's abducted? A bright light... How could I face Dana?

As much as Daniel was a longed for and unexpected miracle, his mother and I are in the unique position of knowing what the future is most likely to bring, whether by humans or aliens. We've brought a child into the world when he could be taken away and experimented on, or die because of colonization. Can I stop the conspiracy?

I can't breathe...

"I'm fine. I have to go. Talk to you later," I blurt out. And I hang up on my boss. Wonderful. That's put another Christmas off to a fine start.

Anyway, there's no one else to phone right away. Just some aunts and cousins and a few friends that Dana can phone in the morning.

I lean against the wall, collecting myself, trying to clamp the lid down on all those irrational fears. Some have escaped the box though. I decide that going back to sit with my family will be the best medicine.

Cherish the here and now. Be mindful of the future.

I take the Polaroid off the top of the phone and turn to go back to our room. Then I stop. I pull out my wallet and look at the photo in it. Samantha. Once that photo gave me drive, kept me going. Then Scully became my drive, but I didn't have a picture of my partner in there because I saw her almost every day.

I pull Sam's photo out and, after a bit of folding, insert the Polaroid. I tuck Sam's photo in my pocket, where I will put it away in a family album when I get home. I know that Scully will do the same with the photo of Emily she has in her purse. We still care for them, their photos will still be on the hutch, and we'll still look for answers as to why such horrible things happened to them. But our priorities have changed. Time to look forward. I'm not putting them behind me; there is still the quest, but my first responsibility now is to keep my son safe and guarantee him a future worth having.

In ten years time I want to be playing catch, not playing slave to an alien race.

I sit by Daniel's crib. Dana's hand is resting on his swaddled leg as they breathe in sync, perfectly at peace. Watching them lightens my worry, but I still hear Bill's voice in my head. WOULD William Scully Senior have approved of me? I never got to meet the man. I wish I did. I know how much Dana loved him. It would be nice to have someone around to talk about fatherhood with.

So, once again I'm full of regret. Is this normal? Mentally I flip back through all the baby books I read in preparation. My emotions are going up and down like I'm the one with the haywire hormones. I'd almost have preferred sympathy labor pains...

Anyway, it's Christmas. I decide that when I finally do tear myself away from this room or am thrown out, I'll go home, get a few hour's sleep, then go buy a little ornamental spruce so that Dana can have a Christmas tree with her on the bedside table. Daniel's first tree too. Just his size. And I'll bring along some of the presents so that we can do that ceremony too. I really want to find out what's in that octagonal-shaped parcel that Dana kept smiling at... The crockery and Lladro figurine and the other stuff I bought her won't be anything compared to the present we both got, but hey, I'm not passing up those extra brownie points.

A year ago today, Dana found out she was Emily's mother and was thrown into one of the deepest circles of hell. So, God, whether I believe in you or not, thank you for rectifying the balance today. Thank you for this last year.

I lean over Daniel and then I notice something near his ear that I couldn't see from my previous angle. Panic shoots through me. A scratch. A bad scratch. He doesn't have a birthmark... That wasn't there before when I left to use the phone. How on earth? Did Dana accidentally get him with a fingernail when she moved? Did I handle him too roughly? What if it gets infected?

I hover there, trembling. Visions spring into my brain. Krycek slipping past me into the room and marking my son so that I know just how vulnerable he is, a warning. Child injury cases march before my eyes. Snippets of John Douglas in "Mindhunter" appear, with him talking about how all those years of seeing crime scenes desensitized him to his own children's mishaps. Even when his children were upset, it didn't seem like anything to fuss over in comparison - would I turn out that way?

Whoah. Calm down. Close the gate before all the horses bolt. Think - there was something about this in the baby books... Think.

It comes to me and I almost sag in relief. The culprit is none other than my son. Babies have very sharp nails which can't be cut immediately. All infant gowns have cuffs on the sleeves, but sometimes the nurses forget to cover their little hands and so scratches happen. It's common. A baby can even do it in the womb.

I breathe. I reach in and gently cover Daniel's hands. Then I go and talk to a nurse at the desk to see if the scratch needs any ointment put on it. Dana has slept through it all. I sit down, confident in the knowledge that I have steered my family through their first crisis without unnecessary disturbance.

Okay, I'm being melodramatic, but I'm a little stressed out here, so cut me a break, huh?

After a while, Daniel wakes. He's not crying though. He's just looking up, and although his eyes aren't exactly focused yet, I swear he looks curious. A mixture of me and Dana in that look. Ooh boy, what are we in for? I can't wait to find out. To see his personality fill in before our eyes.

Dana has moved in her sleep and her hand is no longer in the crib, so I reach in and pick my boy up. He doesn't protest. I walk around the room with him, getting used to the weight and feel of a baby, practicing for all the nights to come. I talk to him softly about his Mommy and basketball and rock 'n' roll.

"I'm scared, little man. But I'm going to do something constructive while I'm being scared - I'm going to look after you as best I can. I'm never, ever going to take you for granted. You'll make sure of that, won't you?"

We've sort of wandered over into a corner, then Dana mumbles and moves restlessly. Nightmare. I want to step forward to wake her up, but my hands are full and the crib is on the other side of the bed - where do I put Daniel down? "Dana," I say, trying to work out what to do.

She wakes up with a start. She sits up and stares at the empty crib and chair and then claps one hand to her deflated belly and the other to her mouth and makes a sound like her arm has been cut off.

"He's here, he's here!" I say, stepping forward.

Dana's head whips around, and she nearly snatches him from me in her desperation and relief. She holds him as the nightmare dissipates, rocking him and herself, and I enfold them both, whispering reassurance. Once again I've created panic when there was no need. Her arms are full and her face is pressed to Daniel's head, but then she turns towards me, pressing into my neck, lips on my jaw. Drawing strength from me even as she gives it to me, and in a way that is much more open than we ever used to allow ourselves to be.

"I'm here too," I say.

She smiles up at me, tears in her eyes, then looks down at Daniel. She notices the scratch and I hastily jump in to reassure her, even as her own brain provides the answer.

She nods and sighs in relief. Or perhaps contentment.

"Look at what we've made... He's perfect."

"That's one thing that we agree on without argument."

"Apart from sex," she reminds me with a chuckle.

"And buttered popcorn with cheesy movies."

Then her amusement is gone. "Thank you," she whispers to me, choked up.

"You too, babe."

We kiss gently. Daniel, displaying even better timing than a ringing cellular phone, then needs a change and demands another feed. It's still not even dawn yet. We have to get the nurse in to guide Dana with the feeding. After that I tell my wife about her mother's reaction and how the Gunmen think that Daniel is better than the autonomous bots programmed into Ninjitsu Princess, the most gnarliest piece of entertainment software ever. I leave out key elements of the conversations with Bill and my mother and Skinner. I'll phone Skinner at breakfast and apologize.

Dana is humming a carol to Daniel, but leaves off for a moment to say to me. "You should go get some sleep."

"I'm not the one who had to do all the work." Said it without a hint of a tremor this time. I'm proud of myself.

Her look tells me I'm fooling no one. "Fox, don't you think I didn't see the look in your eyes? My water breaking wasn't your fault. Yes - what we did could have set it off, but do you know that in some cases sex is actually recommended to set labor in motion? And you had to deal with Bill..." She reaches up to stroke my stubbled cheek, soothing the roughness inside and out. "Go get some sleep."

I promise to go once she's fallen asleep, but when she does again, I get distracted by Daniel, and I'm so comfortable sitting here holding him in this chair - which is a hospital chair so I MUST be feeling tired - and I don't want to move and wake him...

I guess I doze off.

Something wakes me. I'm still sort of drifting, aware that I'm holding Daniel, and even as I'm ticking myself off for the possibility that I could have dropped him I can feel that I've instinctively sat with my legs propped on the bed frame and my knees up and my arms locked in such a way that there is no chance I would have let go. He's safely cradled. That's a relief. Perhaps I will be a good dad after all.

Dana's still asleep. Reassured, I drift...

There's someone beside the bed. Bending over Dana. I try to focus. A man. But not a doctor... Alarm zips through my sluggish system. Who? Consortium? How did he get past security? I inwardly scream at my unresponding body to get up, to yell. I have to protect my -

Then he turns and smiles at me and the panic rushes out like a retreating wave.

I know this man but I've never spoken to him in my life.

It's Dana's father.

Bill Scully Senior turns back to his daughter and places a kiss on her forehead. Then he comes to me. I am still in the chair. I can't tell if he walks or floats. Smiling, he touches Daniel's head with his transparent fingers.

Just as I am coming fully awake, my father-in-law looks me straight in the eye, salutes, then disappears.

Woah. Now was that dreaming or wishful thinking or what?

I think it was real. I want to believe.

Dana wakes. I manage to sit upright, arms and legs sore, but I could still hold our son for decades longer than this. I expect my wife to gently tell me off for not going home or for falling asleep here, but she's smiling.

"Fox...I dreamt my father came. He kissed me and told me how proud he was of Daniel." She's crying, tears tracing a path past a beautiful smile as she reaches out to weave her fingers in with mine against the baby blanket. "He was so pleased we got married. It felt so real."

I believe. Our little secret, hey, Daniel? And I smile in gratitude.

The End

Title: 07. Unexpected Arrivals
Author:Macspooky
Disclaimer: This is the disclaimer spot. We all know that CC and others own all this and I don't. I'm still broke guys. Don't sue. I'm just playing...honest.

Summary: Maggie arrives for a late night visit with her new grandson Daniel.

Notes: This belongs in what my great beta reader Ten has named the "Daniel" universe. It includes "The Couch," "Dreams of a New Father," "Christmas Miracle" and a few others including some she wrote specifically "Making It" and "Making it Legal." Thanks to my other beta reader Ghill too. They are great and very patient with how long it takes me to put in the edits these days.

Distribution: I don't care who posts it where as long as my name is attached.

No Ros had better bail from the entire series. I don't think any spoilers are necessary here.


After many years of marriage to Bill Scully and after having had four children, the one thing Maggie Scully had learned was patience, until today that is. She felt herself growing increasingly restless as the jet plane circled Dulles Airport yet one more time awaiting permission to land. Flying during the holidays was always hectic at best, but her return from Denver had consisted of one delay or hassle after another. It was late and she was tired, and frankly, not in the mood to be going in circles thousands of feet in the air.

Maggie had very nearly canceled her trip to see her son Charlie and his wife in Denver for Christmas, but Dana and her husband had insisted that she go. Charlie had invited her all the way back in October, and when she had booked the flight, her daughter had had one due date. Then a sonogram had revealed that the baby might come a bit earlier, and Maggie had wanted to change her plans, but her daughter wouldn't hear of it.

"I'm a doctor, Mom, and one of the first things they teach you in medical school is that first babies are always late."

She had started to retort that half of what they taught in medical school was bullshit and that after four kids she knew better, but had decided against it. First of all, her daughter would have argued that if that was the case, her mother should ignore the sonogram and second of all, Dana would figure it out soon enough. Babies did what they wanted regardless of what the doctors said. Besides, she did really want to see Charlie and the trip to Denver would give her the opportunity to meet her sister and do something that the two of them had always wanted to do together...take skiing lessons. Reluctantly she had gone, and of course, her new grandson had arrived right on schedule...two weeks early...just a few minutes into Christmas Day.

Maggie had been fortunate in being able to return home three days earlier than planned on the 27th, sans skiing lessons of course, but the flight time had been inconvenient. The delays had commenced the moment she had walked into the airport at Denver. It was illogical to think the baby had already grown up without her, but she had wanted to be in on those first few minutes of his life just as she had been with Matthew the year before.

Finally the plane touched down at Dulles and she made her way to her car, glad that she had insisted on leaving it in the parking garage. Fox had wanted to drive her to Dulles, but her flight to Denver was in the middle of the work day. By that time her daughter had been on leave but was so uncomfortable she had forbidden her daughter to even think about coping with the traffic around the airport. Secretly, she preferred to maintain her independence and come and go as she pleased anyway.

Maggie started to head for home, but suddenly she saw the exit to Alexandria and turned off. She told herself that she shouldn't, that she would not arrive at her daughter's until past midnight, but she didn't seem to be able to stop herself either.

Daniel Fox Mulder was her miracle grandchild. Born to her only living daughter, a daughter who had nearly died of cancer and had been considered sterile, his conception had shocked the hell out of everyone. He was extra special to her, because after Dana's cancer had gone into remission, Maggie had been certain that she had used up her share of miracles. She smiled. God was good. The frustrations of the airport melted away.

Daniel's conception had especially shocked the living daylights out of his poor father, a man who professed no belief in God and certainly not in miracles. The man had walked around looking shell-shocked for weeks. Every time Dana threw up, Fox grew just a little bit paler. It would have really been quite funny to watch, in a way, if it hadn't been so pitiful. Fox had a way of blaming himself for everything including what came naturally.

And, Lord have Mercy, Bill had been pissed. That might have been kind of amusing too except that he gave Fox such a damn hard time for.. well, doing what comes naturally. The young man had actually handled her son quite well under the circumstances. He had put Bill in his place with a firm and quiet dignity, not allowing himself to be steamrolled into apologizing for loving Dana.

Of course, that hadn't stopped Bill's whining and complaining when Fox and Dana hadn't been around. Finally she had had to do that old mother's thing: reach up and grab him by the ear and tell him to shut the hell up because everyone including God almighty himself who had chosen to send them this baby was sick of hearing Bill Scully Junior's complaints. Tara had worked very hard to keep a straight a face over that. Later she had told Maggie she'd been tempted to do that more than once herself. Tara was a very good wife for Bill.

Anyway, almost before Maggie realized it, she was standing at the door of Fox and Dana's apartment. The fact that they were living in an apartment was another one of those things that had ticked Bill off as though Fox was some sort of a failure for not owning a house. Bill acted as if Navy base housing was the Ritz or something. What he didn't realize was that if his brother-in-law had wanted to, he could have bought the whole damned apartment building.

Everything was quiet inside. She knocked softly. If someone was up, they would answer. If not, she would leave and return in the morning, she decided.

The door opened and her son-in-law stood there, unshaven, hair rumpled, clad in sweats and a stained t-shirt. Over his shoulder, which was now covered in baby drool and spit up milk, he had the most beautiful infant she thought she had ever seen, more beautiful even than Matthew and Bill's son had been a gorgeous baby. And, even as exhausted as he appeared, Maggie thought she had never seen Fox Mulder look so happy.

"Oh, my," she said softly, reaching for the child. She forgot to say hello. She just took Daniel into her arms and looked at his little face and devoured him with her eyes. Her belief in miracles had been vindicated and all her prayers answered in this tiny bundle of hair in a little blue sleeper. She thanked God for granting her one more miracle.

When she was finally able to look up again she saw her son-in-law smiling at her. He was a bit blurry, she realized, because she was crying. She had spent a lot of time on her knees praying for this child. She had just about worn out her rosary.

"I'm sorry to come so late," she finally managed. "I took an earlier plane back. There were so many delays. I just....found myself outside the door."

"That's okay, Maggie," he said softly. He supposed he should have been more surprised to see her than he actually was. "Dana is sleeping, but I was just up playing with my son. Of course, I'm the one who's playing. He's just snoozing."

Maggie nodded and smiled. "My husband used to do that...get up in the middle of the night and sit there and hold his babies." She felt a pang suddenly wishing Bill were here to see this boy. Dana had been his special child in so many ways, his favorite, although he would never admit it. And, Bill would have loved Fox.

"I'll put coffee on," he said. "You entertain the newbie while I'm gone. If you're lucky, he'll stretch or maybe even yawn or something." With a grin, he disappeared into the apartment's small kitchen.

Cradling the infant, Maggie sat down on the couch and glanced around the living room. It had suddenly become a nursery. There were baby things everywhere. The dining room table was piled with folded receiving blankets and sleepers. It smelled of baby oil and powder. That was what infants did to a place. The TV was on in the background, the volume barely audible. It looked like the rerun of a basketball game. In the corner stood a Christmas tree, all decorated, with some gifts underneath. Dana loved Christmas trees, always had. Maggie wondered when they would finally get around to taking this one down. Knowing her daughter, it would be well after New Year's.

Well, the sofa was comfortable. Maggie had once made the mistake of asking Dana what happened to Fox's nice leather couch. A leather couch was something she had always wanted and had never gotten around to getting. Leather couches and Navy pay just didn't go together. The young couple had blushed and spluttered. It came out a bit later when Fox wasn't around that the old thing was the conception spot for the infant she now held in her arms, and that Dana and Fox had broken it in the process of making miracles.

It wasn't that Dana had told her mother that exactly. It wasn't the kind of thing a person told their so-called sainted Catholic mother. It had actually come out in the course of an argument her daughter had had with Billy. Dana had popped in for a visit one evening, her belly now bulging, when Fox had been stuck at work. Bill had been there on a short visit, Navy business in Annapolis. Her tiny little redheaded girl, the sweet innocent apple of her daddy's eye, had looked up at her 6'4" brother, hands on her hips, and informed him in no uncertain terms that Fox Mulder had f**ked her so hard and so long that they'd broken the couch and that she'd loved every minute of it and that if he kept Tara half as happy, which she somehow doubted, she was a lucky woman.

Maggie could have sworn that Bill walked funny for the rest of the day. Bill had always said his little sister was a ball buster when he thought his parents were not around to hear. What he didn't realize is that he had had a lot to do with making his kid sister that way. He had always been a pushy kid and something of a bully. Billy had probably spent more hours in "time out" and felt the back of his father's hand more than her other three children combined.

Maggie had had to go into the bathroom to laugh herself silly over the broken couch and her daughter's announcement to her big brother.

Yeah, it had been nasty, but Bill had been quiet after that. Her children always thought of their mother as a sexual ascetic. None of her kids ever would know that she and Bill had broken a recliner chair the night Dana was created and she was the third child. Ah, the memories of the earlier...well...another time...couches, recliners; like mother like daughter. And besides, who knew, maybe Dana and Fox had broken one of those too. It wouldn't surprise her, but she wasn't about to ask either. The biggest difference was probably that Dana's had been knew and most of her furniture when the kids had been growing up had been used. New would have been a waste of scarce resources.

Maggie set the baby in her lap and gratefully took a cup of coffee from Fox when he returned.

"Don't worry." she smiled seeing how nervous Fox was about her having both hot coffee and new baby in close proximity. "I won't spill anything on him. Believe me, I could hold three babies and still drink coffee."

"I believe you. You've had a lot of practice." He grinned. He's seen Maggie handle Bill Jr. An infant was a piece of cake by comparison.

"That is good java. How's my daughter?"

"Fine...weepy and rather sore, but fine. It was a pretty easy labor. He just kind of popped. I mean we got to the hospital in time and everything but after that, it was quick."

"Only way to do it. How are you holding up?"

"Who me? I'm in total shock. I mean, I didn't think anything so little could......."

"Change your life so much," Maggie finished. "It will never be your own anymore, not really."

He nodded. Funny how quickly that understanding came the moment they placed your child in your arms.

"You'll be a wonderful father, Fox," she said setting down the mug taking his hand. She knew the self doubt that the younger man suffered from. He really had never had much family life and from what Dana had told her, his mom probably should have been up for the Queen Bitch award, albeit an elegant one.

"I....I think I'm too selfish sometimes...I...."

"You'll be a wonderful father," she said again. "You are a very kind and caring human being and that is what children need....along with a good spanking once in awhile." she grinned.

"I think I'll leave that to Dana," he said quietly.

"You aren't your father, Fox," she said softly.

"Just remember that."

"How do you know?" he asked.

"I just know things. Whatever your father may have done to you, you aren't him. I've seen the way you are...with my daughter. Dana told me about the way you were with Emily."

"I hope you're right," he said. He supposed Dana had talked to her mother about his father, perhaps before leaving to attend the funeral while he had been near death in New Mexico. It was possible though that Maggie just knew. She was strange that way sometimes, fey.

"He's a beautiful baby. He looks just like you."

"He has Dana's eyes," said Fox. "I hope...all babies have blue eyes. I don't want his eyes to change."

"They will be beautiful no matter what color they are," she smiled. "And he will be his mother's son I'm sure."

"Hi, mom," said a sleepy voice suddenly from the doorway. Dana stood there hair askew. Maggie got up and giving her grandson back to his father went and hugged her daughter. The decibel level rose and the two of them were immediately talking labor and delivery. Fox took his son to the kitchen to put water on for his wife's herbal tea.

Maggie watched him go out of the corner of her eye. She thought to herself that Fox and Daniel were already on the way to becoming good buddies. She was glad. She couldn't think of anyone who deserved love more than Fox Mulder.

The End

Title: 8. Old Home
Authors: Macspooky & Ten
Category: V, A, H, M&S Married with kid (so MSR)
Rating: Probably somewhere in between high R and NC-17 for consensual sexual situations (Marriage has stoked the flame, not dampened it!), but great detail is not gone into.
Disclaimer: The X-Files, the episodes referred to, Mulder and Scully and all other characters from the show belong to Chris Carter, Ten Thirteen Productions and Fox Broadcasting, and are used without permission. No copyright infringement is intended, no profit will be gained. Characters not recognized from the show are either Mac's or Ten's.

Summary: Dana is saying goodbye to the old before moving into the new...

Important endurance Disclaimer: The sexual capacity of this Mulder has been enhanced for the pleasure of Scully and the readers (and the writers). Don't expect this at home. <VEG>

Thanks to: Gerry for everything, as usual. Especially for embracing this universe even though it wasn't her usual cup of tea. And thanks to Debbie.


Dana Scully stood near a pile of dust bunnies and leaned on her broom, looking around the now-empty apartment. The movers had come and gone, packing everything quickly and neatly. She had wanted to do it herself but her husband was insistent. He didn't want her to raise a hand. Dana rolled her eyes.

She had told him earlier in the week, "Fox, in case you haven't noticed, I'm not ill or pregnant anymore."

Mulder looked at her fondly as she breastfed their five-month old son. "True, but we're going to have enough stress unpacking and sorting everything out. Let them do the hard stuff. They've been screened. Then we might have enough energy left to really christen the place."

Damn. The man could be so logical when it suited his purposes. And he'd come up with reasoning that benefited her too...

Dana absently twirled the broom in place. She knew that she should be eager to get over to her new home, a historical townhouse in Old Town, Alexandria. It was a dream come true for her, exactly what she had dreamed about for years, and she had chosen it and decorated all the rooms herself (including just the right naked man to wake up next to each morning and a miracle baby in the nursery, even if both did whine occasionally...), yet she felt a strange reluctance to leave this place. She shook her head in surprised amusement. "Talk about an X-file..."

She never expected to call this place home. Her thoughts returned to the time before she and Mulder became lovers and parents. When she was back at work following her remission from the cancer, Mulder said he'd decided to move out of number 42 at Hegal Place - he found he could no longer remain in the apartment where he'd been secretly surveilled for months and then forced to kill the spy and dump the body in his own living room. Her partner had been scouting through the papers for weeks and found the perfect place. She was delighted, until she learned that his interpretation of moving was into a different building in the SAME complex.

She remembered with a faint smile the first time she had seen number 27, Fox Mulder's 'new' apartment in the old, rundown garden apartment complex. She somehow managed to keep herself from shuddering visibly. To her it represented a nightmare.

She'd been a military brat, spending far too much time in substandard military base housing. Fox Mulder's place was just a bit too much like it for comfort. And the truth was, in some ways it almost was military housing. The complex attracted a lot of military families who could not get housing on the nearby bases and had turned to the next cheapest alternative in the overpriced Virginia suburbs.

She tried to talk him out of it but to no avail. He had already signed the lease and bitched and complained to her about being forced to take a two bedroom since there had been no single bedrooms available. She consoled herself that at least the new place had a dishwasher and hoped that he would use it. He bragged about the fact that the apartment was right next to the laundry room and she teased him about hoping that meant he would change his underwear every day. He threatened her with a sexual harassment suit and they laughed together, comfortable in their friendship and their partnership, which had been reinforced immeasurably with his role in her remission and their closeness during her hospital stay.

Then catastrophe had struck twice in quick succession. First came her horrible Christmas at Bill's in San Diego; then, just as she was recovering, her beautiful apartment in Georgetown burned down. It broke her heart. It was true that bad things had happened there, but it was home.

Scully had always been glad to live in a vintage building until she could afford a proper house, and had carefully purchased her furniture one piece at a time until things were just the way she liked. After returning from trips on the road and from days spent at the office, it was nice to come home to the same place, knowing that she would not be moving every other year. Now all that was over.

When faced, however, with moving in with her mother and commuting all the way from Annapolis, or temporarily renting Mulder's extra bedroom, she had opted for the latter. Then Dana did something else she'd sworn she would never do again - go to a moving sale and buy second-hand furniture. That had been too reminiscent of being a military brat as well, but the bedroom set was Ethan Allen and in beautiful condition; too good a buy to pass up. Her plan had been to eventually furnish a guest room with it when she found a new apartment.

Trouble was, she'd never found one. She DID look. Maybe the problem was that she always took Mulder with her every time she went looking, and nothing was good enough for him. Once he even went down into the basement hunting for rats in an effort to convince her that the beautiful high-ceilinged rental unit was really a hole. He'd found some too...just as she was ready to sign her name to a lease.

The bottom line was that they liked living together. He hadn't wanted her to go, and she hadn't really wanted to sign that lease no matter what she told him. By all rights, they should have been at each other's throats inside of a week of living together, but, in reality, somehow they worked just as well together domestically as they did in the office. Even better, to their astonishment.

He didn't mind her decorating the apartment, and even admitted that he enjoyed the pleasure of relaxing with her without work getting in the way or being the excuse for dropping round. It was fun to do normal, everyday things together. Dana was used to doing it alone, and liked her independence, but a part of her longed to make a home. Not with any man in general - just Fox Mulder. So she was enjoying this and didn't want it to end.

Maybe it kind of took both their minds off the fact that the world might end in alien colonization. When you weren't alone, you couldn't brood as much.

And maybe they were both finally at the right stage at the same time to relax into their feelings for each other, instead of being so guarded and in denial.

Sex had been a bonus, and not one that happened immediately. When Dana thought about it, it happened after the rat incident. They had settled down on the couch to watch a movie that evening and the rest was history. Fortunately, it proved to be a history that repeated itself over and over again. The countless memories made her smile and look at the wall where the couch used to be. There were chips in the plaster from where the back of the couch kept banging into the wall. The bedroom wall told the same story. The neighbors had hated it. Or been in awe of their pace. One had even moved out.

That first time she made love to Fox Mulder proved to be a revelation for her. Before that, she had never enjoyed sex. She always thought that there was something wrong with her, but as it turned out, all she'd needed was the right man. She had loved and trusted him enough to relax and, boy, had she ever. In their very successful efforts to get relaxed, they broke Mulder's leather couch and had to buy a new one.

They had also done something else. They had made a baby. She was (supposedly) infertile, so they hadn't used any precautions. Hell, they'd both been celibate for so long and tested so often during their many ER visits and quarantines that diseases weren't an issue.

Soon she grew sick and thought her cancer was recurring. Terrified, Dana tried to shut her partner out and had never seen him so angry. The faint indentation of Mulder's fist that was still visible in the hallway wall attested to that. And just below that mark was the spot where they sank to the floor a few seconds later, crying in each other's arms. Together, no matter what the verdict would be.

They were both stunned when Dr. Zuckerman told her she was pregnant...stunned and overjoyed. If she'd let him, Mulder would have filled the whole apartment with toys that very night. She was so relieved that he wanted a child too. She hadn't realized just how much that her sterility had impacted on him. He'd hidden it well.

Dana leaned on the broom and looked at where the couch had been. A thousand moments filled her mind. The feel of Mulder's mouth on hers, on her skin, skin to skin, the taste of him... The shock and delight of her first orgasm, and the next and the next... Making love; going through the pages of the Kama Sutra with intent instead of just wistfully; lying there and holding; whispering to each other; being able to kiss him whenever she felt like it; watching television; laughing uproariously; an ice cream eating session that quickly turned into a 'smear here and eat off' session; Fox resting his head against her expanding middle and smiling at her as he felt their child move...

They got married in the Virgin Islands on the spur of the moment. Fox had proposed to her after they were told she was pregnant, and the partners had planned to go to the Las Vegas Elvis Chapel, but a case intervened and they ended up in St. Thomas instead, so didn't waste the opportunity.

It was so perfect that Dana thought she was dreaming. Fox Mulder wanted marriage, he wanted the baby, he wanted HER. He wasn't doing this because he felt trapped into it and because it was the 'honest thing to do'. It was all meant to be. And the look in his eyes was magic.

She laughed aloud as she thought about the old hippy van they had rented and what they did in it after the ceremony on the beach. One day back in D.C. she was seven months pregnant and on a shopping expedition with Fox when a similar van drove past. It caused memories so hot that she looked at her husband and he looked at her and without a word drove to the nearest motel (the apartment was too damn far away). It didn't even matter that it was one of those motels where you could pay by the hour. An hour was all they needed. Though when a man and woman were coming out of the room next door and saw Dana's protruding stomach, the guy said to Fox, "Geez, I hired this one BECAUSE my wife's pregnant. What sort of sick kink are you on?"

Dana remembered the fight that ensued when they assembled the baby's crib. Men were not really good at that kind of thing despite what they liked to think. She remembered how she and Mulder had made up after the fight. They barely made it to the bed. If she hadn't been quite huge at that point, they probably wouldn't have bothered actually reaching the bed. The floor would have been good enough.

Fox Mulder may not have been good at putting up a crib, but what he put up her he was VERY good at. She certainly enjoyed it, though it was frustrating that he had to be behind her all the time now since she was so far along - she couldn't hold him properly, having to make do with clutching his encircling arms or a pillow. But the sacrifice would be worth it, and soon they could get back to every position under the sun.

Now that they were going to live in a new and far bigger home, they could have bought a king-sized bed, but Dana couldn't bear to give up the Ethan Allen one just yet, or relegate it to a spare room. It had too much sentimental value. After all, they'd already broken and thrown out the leather couch that their son was conceived on.

The last two months of pregnancy had been especially hard. She was small, and the baby felt so big. She usually needed Fox's help to get off the couch and out of the armchair. And as for bed... But how could she complain about a miracle? The discomfort would be worth it, she knew. And no one could accuse Fox Mulder of making her feel unsightly and not sexy. He was always telling her how beautiful she looked, and she knew he wasn't lying. In his eyes, she was a goddess. He was fascinated by her changing shape, as well as stunned and terrified about his approaching fatherhood.

She had reached mega proportions the night they decorated their first Christmas tree. By this time the apartment had new furniture to go with the new couch. Like the dining room chairs where she loved to sit while running her hands through her husband's hair and clutching at it as he knelt and...

Focus. Christmas. Though he was damn lucky she'd never yanked handfuls of his hair out in her excitement.

Christmas. One corner of the living room was bare in preparation for a playpen, so that was where the Christmas tree went, with a girth almost as wide as her own. They had a great time decorating it and then suddenly her husband pulled her into his arms and gazed at her with such love. Somehow, in spite of carrying a live basketball inside, she'd managed to get down on the floor - this time she could NOT care about making it to the bed - and he'd gotten behind her and they managed to make earthmoving love.

Afterwards both felt incredibly content, and were thinking about moving to the bed for round two (or had it been three?), when a funny kind of pain ripped through her body and suddenly the flood on the floor had nothing to do with lovemaking. They hadn't been in the hospital terribly long when Daniel made his appearance.

Her little fox cub. Oh yes, Mulder and Scully worked well as partners in the X-Files, and Dana and Fox worked well at playing house and worked extremely well as lovers, but the joint project of parenthood was their best by far. Dana smiled at the spot where the armchair had been. It was there that she had sat, so heavy, and felt Daniel kick and move inside her. Here she had seen her son's first smile. Where she sat to breastfeed and hold him as a newborn, to rock and soothe and sing and watch him sleep. Watching Mulder sit there, awe on his face as his tiny replica clung onto his index finger.


Daniel Fox had been born a few minutes into Christmas Day 1998. Dana remembered waking up in the hospital at about ten o'clock Christmas morning to find herself staring at a little pine tree in a pot on the bedside table, trimmed with a tinsel star. And her husband was sitting beside the bed, holding their baby out to her like the gift he was. He had even wrapped a big red bow around Daniel's middle. Dana stared at him - them - and cried. Fox looked alarmed. "I made sure it was loose - he can breathe!"

Dana had laughed and reached out for them both. And then came the fun of opening her presents - Fox had brought Christmas to her. Among so much else. The fact that he'd completely forgotten to bring all the practical and necessary things for the hospital stay and the trip home was therefore forgivable.

She had awakened in bed the day after Christmas, startled and disorientated, realizing that she was no longer carrying a ten-ton weight around in her stomach, and that she was no longer in the hospital. The apartment. Home. She got up as quickly as she could manage from her nap, realizing that the apartment was silent and wondered how Fox was faring, left alone with their son for the first time. Especially after Daniel had screamed all the way home and then couldn't get enough breast milk.

She had found them asleep on the couch, the closest thing to perfection she had ever seen. Contented Fox Mulder with Child.

That set off more couch memories: her first sight of Maggie holding her miracle grandson; Fox glassy-eyed at 2:09 am for the seventh night in a row, mumbling to Dana 'over' the sounds of their refusing-to-be-pacified newborn: "Does he come with a mute button?"; Fox lying on the couch with Daniel propped up against his bent knees a few weeks ago as he talked earnestly to his very pre-verbal son about the merits of baseball (though it had to be said that Daniel was drooling very attentively); Fox making Daniel laugh, making her laugh, making her groan, gasp, pant, moan, and scream with pleasure...

Giving Fox a foot rub, his feet propped up in her lap, because he loved having one and she loved doing it. He had such sexy feet. A turn on. The massage usually made her husband so relaxed that he would fall asleep, and when the task *did* lead to something more, it was usually Dana attacking Fox, much to his half-asleep surprise...

She had a family of her own and a house to enjoy with them. Decorating it had been exciting and fun. She and Mulder were able to get out of his two-year lease on this apartment. They'd lost the security deposit, but they were not short of money. Besides, they had each other and didn't really care. They had a real home now.

But this place WAS home too.

Before moving into this apartment she was a tragic figure

homeless, with barely any possessions, bereft of children, depressed, barren - so she thought - isolated within herself...

Then she had come here. She sure had come here!

And now she was leaving as a wife, lover, mother, homeowner... A transformed, more open, and very, very happy woman. Having Fox and Daniel didn't 'validate' her existence as a woman, but her soul mate and child HAD helped her let herself live and love fully, without fear, at last.

Sometimes she thought that perhaps her apartment burning down had been like a cleansing - taking her to rock bottom and then giving her the chance to emerge again, giving her so much more than she thought she had lost.


She heard the door opening behind her. Startled out of her reverie, she nearly dropped the broom to reach for a gun that wouldn't be strapped on again for another month when her maternity leave finished.

Dana saw that the intruder was her husband. "What are you doing here?" she demanded, trying to calm her breathing.

Mulder blinked at her question. "Hey, beautiful, the movers have come and gone, Danny's still at Mom's, and I got worried. How long could it possibly take to sweep up?"

"I was just kind of waxing nostalgic," she said softly. "Thinking about what a dump this was and about how happy I'd been here."

"Aren't you happy with the new house?"

"Of course I am." She smiled and leaned against him as he slipped an arm around her waist. She loved how relaxed and contented he looked these days - apart from the times work or a teething baby wore him to a frazzle. He was suited to his new roles too.

At the moment he was looking very sexy in his standard casuals of jeans, t-shirt and his leather jacket. The fact that his jacket collar bore faint nibble marks just added to the charm. Daniel had tested his new teeth on it instead of a teething ring, and Dana had clamped her own teeth on it to avoid letting loose her cries when they got carried away in the basement office one Saturday morning. Making reality out of their fantasies of doing it on Fox's office desk proved irresistible.

Scully swapped the broom to her other hand and reached up to touch her husband's face. "I love our new house very much. But that is ours and I doubt we'll put nicks in the walls like we did here. This is where everything began. Where we really began." A remarkable and blessed chain of events since she had entered this apartment and he had entered her.

Mulder stepped away to run his hand over the wall where his old leather couch had resided. He felt the dings and holes and laughed. "Yeah, we sure did make some memories here, didn't we?"

"Perhaps we should put a plaque on the wall to commemorate all the firsts that happened here."

He walked up to her, deliberately very close, grinning that grin. His face and tone reminded her of their first meeting, where he asked her if she believed in extraterrestrials. "Think it would be put on the historical tours listing?"

She couldn't help smiling and nodding, though she tried to keep a straight face.

Suddenly he too felt a touch of nostalgia...More like a surge, actually. In his groin. He lifted her off her feet and the broom fell to the floor with a thud.

"Hey, what the heck do you think you're doing?" she asked him.

"I'm gonna make one more memory, babe, right here against this wall." Her back landed against it with a gentle thud. "I'm glad you're wearing that ratty old denim skirt that I hate." He pushed that out of the way easily enough. She'd always admired how he was able to hold her up with one arm while removing barriers with the other. So much for changing his underwear every day - more a case of getting into HERS every day.

His hand was doing just that. He raised his eyebrows. "I thought you weren't packing heat, babe."

"For you, always."

"Good. Now wrap those short little legs around me, woman."

She laughed as she complied and heard the sound of his zipper, releasing that which was not short or little. Eagerly she reached around his back to pull his jeans down more, wanting to cup his rear in her hands and feel his muscles move as he did what he did so well. Two quickly became one.

Dana clung to him, gasping into Fox's ear. "Oh God! Thank God...that this is one household fitting that I...ohhhh...CAN take with me...when I move...otherwise...I wouldn't be...going anywhere..."

"I don't know - about going - but you're going to come - babe. That's - a - promise. And it does - fit well - doesn't it?" He was sliding her up and down the wall with his movements.

She nodded vigorously, staring over his shoulder, but not really seeing anything, her hands leaving his rear to now clutch and pull at his jacket. Mulder shifted his feet, changing his angle. A vague and annoyingly logical thought came to Dana that her husband was stomping all over and through her neat pile of dust bunnies, wrecking all her hard work.

But thIS hard work was well worth the destruction.

However if he tripped over that damn broom and landed them both on their asses in the middle of this, he would be toast.

Thoughts of dust and brooms flew from her mind as Fox's pace increased. She moaned her appreciation, her breathing hoarse, and sucked on his earlobe. Lost in the sensations, she nearly bit his ear when he suddenly launched into a sneezing fit. Hay fever - the damn disturbed dust was having revenge. But the sneezes caused him to shudder and that changed his angle even more and suddenly she was spasming wildly and he was crying out...

and oh yes if this is what sweeping can cause then I'm never going to use a vacuum ever again...


Malcolm, the next-door neighbor, sighed. He'd been delighted when he saw the moving truck pull up. He'd heaved a sigh of relief when he saw the last piece of furniture go out the door. He thought that at last he could retire the earplugs and invite company around and actually get to watch TV in peace at night without being reminded of the fact that the Fed who lived next door was scoring when he wasn't. Frequently and consistently and obviously very successfully...

But...

With no rugs or furniture in the place, the screams were louder than ever. That little redhead was some hot number. Not even pregnancy and a baby had slowed her drive. Finally, Malcolm banged on the wall in disgust.

"Jeez, that's your second goddam go round!" At least he thOUGHT it was. These two invariably made so much noise - at all stages, regardless of who was doing what to whom - that it was impossible to tell WHICH round they were currently engaged in.

"Keep it up, Fed, and you aren't going to have anything left for the new house!" The guy had to be an alien who'd come to earth to study mating habits or something. He could NOT be human. At that moment things reached a climax. A few seconds later, someone banged back.

A husky and breathless voice answered, "He's always got plenty left, Mister. And our lease isn't up until the end of the month."

God, but that woman had balls. He knew damned well enough it was sheer spite when the thudding started again.


Dana loosened one arm from around her husband's back to jam her fist into her mouth, but the giggles kept coming. She could not believe him. She just couldn't, no matter how long they were together, or the situations he put her in.

Because once she'd told the neighbor off, her husband had gotten that wicked look in his eyes and hefted her more securely in his arms, turning around so that HE was the one with his back against the wall, and promptly set about thudding against it for the sound effect instead of for real.

Before Mulder had come into her life, and even before they became lovers, she never would have had the nerve to pull a stunt like this. It was part of the reason that she'd fallen in love with him. Her stubborn, insane, bad boy, beautiful idiot of a man. Always marching to the beat of his own drummer.

Though she couldn't help but hope that their poor neighbor had a more peaceful existence from now on. He deserved a break.

It was time to go.

A home was made up of memories, people and love, not bricks. Even though Dana was sad to leave this place, she knew she would always be at home.

The End

Title: 09. Housewarming
Authors: Ten & Macspooky

Category: V, A, H, MSR (Married with kid - and still going strong)
Rating: NC-17 for consensual sexual situations. If this isn't your thing or you're underage, better bail now. Summary: Mulder and Scully throw a very private housewarming party at their new home.

Important endurance Disclaimer

The sexual capacity of this Mulder has been enhanced for the pleasure of Scully and the readers (and the writers). Don't expect this at home. <VEG>

Notes: We couldn't resist taking slight geographical & episode license with the location of a certain X-File landmark. Plus, for plot purposes, "Never Again" came before "Leonard Betts" (as they were originally meant to be aired) and there was a significant time lapse in-between those eps.

FEEDBACK: Love it. Brings joy to our world!

Thanks to: Gerry and Debbie for everything.
Disclaimer: The X-Files, the episodes referred to, Mulder and Scully and all other characters from the show belong to Chris Carter, Ten Thirteen Productions and Fox Broadcasting, and are used without permission. No copyright infringement is intended, no profit will be gained. Characters not recognized from the show are either Mac's or Ten's.

 


Monday

I still can't believe it. I've become a photo-on-the-desk guy.

I'm sitting here in my office - well, Spender thinks it's his office too, but just wait until my wife's back from leave, jerk. You'll be out on your ass faster than -

Anyway, I'm sitting here, finishing up a few things so that I can go home on time. Yep, these days I'm eager to go home instead of staying late to chase down some elusive clue. Or because there's nowhere better to go.

There's always been a photo on my desk, and often taken with me on cases. Samantha.

But carrying around the image of your long-vanished sister isn't exactly the norm for most people. They have their wife and children captured in eternity, people they can actually go home to and be with at night and hold, or at least talk to on the phone.

Through a series of miracles - because there's really no other word for it, no matter what I believe - I've become a normal guy.

Well, maybe. Sort of. On the outside anyway.

I gaze at the framed photo on my desk and I'm still amazed. Dana and Daniel and I all grin back, Daniel in Dana's arms, me sitting behind, with my arms around them both. My wife. My perfect little boy. My family. I never expected to become a family man. No one else had that expectation of me either.

So what if I'm grinning like a sap. I think I'm entitled.

And we finally have a proper home. Dana found the perfect house in Old Town Alexandria and has spent time making it even more perfect, redecorating, remodeling. It's time I went home to it.

Jeff Spender picked me up this morning, so I hop on the Metro. I could afford the mega bucks for a taxi, but trying to find one in rush hour is one miracle that I doubt I will be granted.

I sit in the train as it hums and clanks through the underground tunnels and stations and let my thoughts wander. This is my first weeknight in our completed house. We moved in on the weekend. I'd better psyche myself up for the official housewarming Dana is planning to hold in a few weeks. Playing host to Billy boy. Gag me with a spoon.

At family gatherings when Dana was pregnant and then when Daniel was a newborn, Bill made it clear that of all the things he didn't approve of about me, the 'fact' that I didn't adequately provide for my wife - i.e., a nice house - was near the top of the list. (Having the sheer nerve to screw and impregnate his sister was the top sin.) Instead I 'kept' my family holed up in a dingy apartment. Not Good Enough.

But soon after Dana and I had recovered from the shock of her being pregnant, she had agreed with me that there was no hurry to move. We didn't want the high stress of moving until after the baby was born, and this gave us time not to rush into buying the wrong house. The apartment was adequate for our needs in the meantime. And, thanks to the money my father left me - what percentage is blood money instead of old money, I don't want to hazard a guess on - it wasn't like we couldn't afford the rent.

When Daniel was three months old, Dana started looking around and reading the Real Estate section of the Washington Post, specifically in regard to Alexandria. She wanted a townhouse in Old Town, and I certainly didn't mind where we were as long as she was happy. She said there would be good public schools there for Daniel too.

After only two weeks of scouting, Dana phoned me up at the motel while I was packing after wrapping up an out-of-town case and said she had a winner. My wife was very excited about the place but didn't tell me much, preferring to show me instead. I didn't press for details because her tone then went very sultry, signaling the start of some blistering phone sex. Soon I was back home and we put Daniel in the car and she drove us over to meet the estate agent at this special house for a look through.

Even I think that Old Town Alexandria is a great area.

There's something about the look of cobble-stoned streets. We pulled up in a nice, quiet neighborhood, a few blocks away from a Metro station. The townhouse was brick on the outside, an end unit, attached on one side only and set back slightly from the street, with large windows and shutters.

The front fence was wrought iron and there was enough room in-between it and the house for a tiny garden. More wrought iron separated it from our neighbor along the dividing line. Only a few shrubs could grow in the front garden, but Dana said the beautiful window boxes and the backyard made up for that.

This townhouse/duplex was one of the lucky ones because it had a narrow, cobbled alleyway on the left side that led to the backyard - for the old time horse and buggy. Nice driveway. And at the back there was a garage converted from a carriage house that was against another wide, common alley at the back.

I walked through the house and admired. This type of house isn't huge, but we have no use for a mansion, and I didn't want to flaunt the money Dad left me, not even to shut Billy boy up. Though at times I'm sorely tempted to tell him just how much I rolled over from an investment or that my kid's trust fund is probably bigger than his yearly wage.

Anyway, three bedrooms upstairs, two of them fairly small but comfortable, along with the bathroom and a tiny sitting room off the main bedroom. Downstairs there was a kitchen, nice front entry area and hallway, a living room and a dining room, all large. The finished basement I quickly pegged for the gaming room, and we could use the unoccupied bedroom as a guest room and study. The little sitting room could become another study if one of us wanted some space, and would most likely become an en suite bathroom for us when Danny got older.

My mind was turning over the possibilities. We could even convert the game room when he hit teenagerdom so he could live down there, or buy the other half of the duplex...

The service porch out back had been turned into a laundry room, which suited us perfectly. Having our own laundry room after having to put up with the communal one in the apartment complex was a major incentive to move into a house. Danny goes through diapers like I go through sunflower seeds - he's allergic to disposables.

"What about the history of the place - any good X-file hauntings here?" I joked. Scully glared at me. The realtor just stared and coughed.

I gave a final 360 turn in the front entry and nodded my approval. "It's great, I like it, but it's similar to that other one two blocks away we're considering. You didn't get as excited about that."

"I'll show you why."

The agent handed her a key. My wife led me out the back door, into the garden. I noticed that the estate agent wasn't following us. Dana said, "She knows that this is a private moment."

Townhouse backyards vary. (I've learned a lot since Dana began house hunting.) Usually they are not huge, but can be big enough for a child to play in. This one wasn't wide, because of the alley, but it ran deep. The yard had high fencing, including along our dividing line. We walked through the garden and ended up at the side gate, which I'd only glanced at on the tour fifteen minutes ago. I looked at Daniel, who was in my arms. "You have any idea what she's up to, Danny Boy?"

He just gurgled and grinned. Dana unlocked the gate and opened it, then took Daniel and led me through. We were in the little cobbled lane. I hadn't come this far along it on the tour, since I could check out the garage from the backyard. We walked down to the back alley that all the houses in this row had access to, and I saw that behind the house, across from the communal alley, was a park. "Great!" I enthused. I'd known that this house was near the Potomac river and parks, I just hadn't realized how close.

"It gets better," Dana promised. We walked through the park, checking out what it offered. Good play equipment and paths for walking and jogging, and there was a picnic

area. Lots of young kids. I could see the river. We walked towards it. We could bring Daniel down here in the stroller, and play games when he got older, and sit on that bench I could see and -

That bench. It hit me. I turned and stared at Dana, who was nodding and smiling radiantly at me with our son in her arms.

*Our* bench.

A thousand memories hit me like starbursts. Meeting Deep Throat there. Clandestine meetings with Scully when the X-Files was closed down. At that time I just couldn't believe that she still wanted to have any sort of communication with me when she didn't have to. That she was actually seeking me out. "Is this seat taken?" The shock on her face when I told her I was considering quitting the Bureau. The expression it took me ages to realize was alarm. "You could request a transfer to Quantico." Don't leave, don't leave *me*.

The gulf, the deep chasm beside me as I sat on that bench when she was missing. How Maggie had met me there and made me keep Dana's cross.

Then my partner was returned, and we didn't use the bench for a long time. Her cancer came along. And one night after she finally admitted to seeing the ghosts on the bowling alley case, I was so frustrated and upset with being shut out and not knowing how to save her, that I just had to go jogging at some god-forsaken hour as a release. And I found myself slowing down near our bench. I didn't even remember heading in that direction. And as I approached it, I saw Dana coming from the opposite direction, crying, looking desolate and sick. Drifting helplessly, but drawn to this lodestone.

She stopped and we looked at each other in bewilderment and sorrow and desperation, and we both surged forwards and held tight and cried and healed just enough to survive that dark night and what was to come.

And on the house-search I stared at that bench and at my wife and child, and back across the park, even though I couldn't see the back of the house for the trees. We had come home. A big grin spread across my face.

"We'll take it," I said without hesitation.


Of course it wasn't quite that easy. But we moved fast and were able to pay a higher price than the other interested parties. I wanted that house even more than Dana did.

So we own our own home. Bought it outright. (We sold Dad's house. It went to me in the will, but I'll never use it. I'm not selling the summerhouse though.) Wonder what Dad would think about his blood money being put to such use. It has also ensured that we don't have to fret about having less disposable income now that Danny is here, and that Dana could have six months maternity leave.

It was fun taking Daniel on his first tour of the house when we bought it. I carried him from room to room, giving a running commentary.

"This is the sitting room, where if we happen to spill cranberry juice, we'll go hide in the garage until Mommy calms down..."

"We can set up first base here for indoor baseball when it's raining and we can't go to the park."

"This is your room. And here's the guest bedroom and study, although in time your little brother or sister will be in here."

Dana's voice startled me. I'd thought she was downstairs.

"Planning ahead, Fox? Or do you know something I don't?"

Caught. I couldn't explain myself. "Just call it a feeling." One I hadn't wanted to voice to her in case I raised her hopes and was proven wrong. It didn't feel like mere wishful thinking.

She looked at me with interest and affection. "And when do you feel that this feeling will become reality?"

I just shrugged. "Not for another year or two at least."

"We'll see..."


We're not going hog-wild with showy, new, expensive stuff for each room. That's not either of our styles. We want it to be a comfortable home, not a showroom. Our furniture is a mix of old and new. And we kind of already broke the place in before we moved in properly. As soon as the house was truly ours - the previous owner having already moved out - Dana and I visited it a lot to start planning for wallpaper, furniture, renovations and some remodeling. Some repairs too.

Well, Dana did the bulk of the deciding because she's better at that than me, and I don't care about interior design. She wanted to have it all completed before we moved in, because of the baby.

I hung around, helped when needed - "You're getting in the way! You're a pain in the ass, Mulder, but it is a nice ass. Come here and put it to better use." "Right there? Won't it be in the way? Can't see you painting while I'm -" "Shut up, Mulder..." - and made sure she had plenty of breaks from all that hard work. So it's a wonder we got any work done at all.

Before carpet was laid in the sitting room, I got laid there. Okay, it's not actually carpet. Dana says it's an 'area rug'. The sitting room had dark-colored hardwood flooring that she loved, but she wanted Daniel to be able to have a soft landing when he starts crawling and toddling and playing and racing around, so the wood will be hidden until he's older.

When she was holding up swatch after swatch of material to the kitchen windows one Saturday, I just had to ask, "What is it with you women and curtains?"

Dana dumped the swatches on the counter and turned and I thought I'd put my foot in it big time. She folded her arms. "Curtains, Fox, are the thin veneer of civilization. They separate us from the pack. Literally. For example, they keep neighbors and passers by from seeing what I am going to do to you now." She reached for my belt.

From that moment on I've understood about curtains and drapes. Especially when my wife 'drapes' herself over me.

And as conscientious homeowners, we just HAD to fill up the bathtub to check the plumbing and spend a long lazy two hours enjoying a joint soak to ensure it was roomy and comfortable. Though the waters got whipped up into a frenzy at the end there.

Lack of furniture in the other rooms did not prevent us from shagging each other senseless either. Halfway through putting wallpaper up in the nursery, Dana was taken up up and away... (Nearly destroying a teddy bear decal in the process.) If Daniel was being babysat, we'd collect him off Maggie after a long session and she'd say, "Decorating is tiring work", but there would be this grin on her face. Was she wise to us? Nah.

I can't believe how much Dana loves being at home. I don't mean that in a sexist 'little woman whose place is in the kitchen' way. I mean, she's still more of my partner than Spender, because we're always on the phone so she knows exactly what I'm doing and can help out with the cases as much as she can. She gives advice and does research for me. But she's taken to motherhood and decorating. I guess it's a nice break from being stalked by flukemen. I'd come home to our apartment at Hegal Place and be greeted by the smell of dinner cooking and my wife coming towards me with our son in her arms. Or sometimes the sound of Elvis playing, which was a sure sign that Daniel was down for his nap and I was about to get lucky.

Or sometimes my howling son would be bundled into my arms, with Dana saying that he'd been at it all day or the damn wallpaper kept falling down in the townhouse hallway, and my strung-out wife would then have a nap or get back on the phone with the decorators and get tough with them or get out for a well-deserved break. Life can't always be perfect.


Moving in on Saturday was crazy - Maggie snapped our family photo outside, then, as I'd arranged, she held the now-five-month-old Daniel while I swept my wife up and carried her over the threshold. Despite us wanting Mom to stay for supper (we were going to order pizza, but she brought along a special 'picnic lunch'), Maggie went soon after. She said she was sure we had plans to christen the house and she'd leave us to it.

I had watched my mother-in-law put her Starbuck's cup down on the coffee table (which by miracle was visible despite all the boxes) and reach for her bag as she said that. It nearly made me choke on the dregs of my own coffee, and when I threw a quick look at Dana, she hastily focused on the bottle she was giving Daniel, because that table was very much 'broken in' furniture from our old apartment - Maggie's mug was right next to a scratch that Dana had made during one of our bouts. I prayed Mom wouldn't notice it. And the memory of the creation of that mark popped back into my brain in glorious Technicolor...


Two Months Previously

Mulder Apartment

Dana and I woke up in each other's arms on the couch, naked apart from the afghan draped over us.

Dana stretched and looked at me. "I thought marrying you would CURE you of sleeping on the couch."

"You didn't seem to mind my attempt to recreate that love scene." I couldn't even remember which damn movie we had been watching.

"True..."

Conscientious parents first and foremost, we checked to find our boy was sleeping soundly, so we decided to take advantage of the chance of a lie in. We returned to the couch. My wife smiled at me. "Did I thank you for last night?" Dana's clever hands were turning morning glory into full bloom.

Then she suddenly got out of our warm little haven and went around the other side of the coffee table. She squatted and leaned over the table, looking at me expectantly. Her fingers drummed. "What are you waiting for?"

"Huh?" My brain was fogged with sleep and hormones.

She looked down at the reflective surface of the table.

"I want to see it. I want to see us. Get over here."

I got behind her and got busy. We watched ourselves for a bit, reveling in our bond and love, but soon we were busy feeling, so all focus went by the wayside, and our breath misted the surface anyway. One of Dana's hands was back in my hair, the other clutching the side of the table so hard I saw gouge marks.

Thank God that's not my back... I thought. This position had some advantages.

She suddenly pushed back off the table to fall back against me, no longer afraid to let me catch her like she used to be. I gathered her close as I continued to move us and be moved, her back melting and melding perfectly against my torso - we were made for each other, the two halves of the whole, finally united after all those trials that couples with our great love have to go through. Boy, that chick flick had really gotten to me... And as I reached around and touched her she let out a tiny gasp and a delighted shudder, and I knew that she was there just as much as if she'd given a full-blooded scream.


Present

Wow, it's getting hot in this train... Just as well it's pulling up at my stop now. I pick up my briefcase and disembark. The Metro station is only a few blocks from our house. It's late afternoon on a pleasant late spring day. I'm grateful I won't get drenched.

Rain had threatened on Saturday, but held off, to our relief. By the time all the furniture and boxes were moved in and we started into some of them, the day was over. Perhaps we should have gotten the movers to unpack everything for us too, but by the time everything was in the house it was getting late and we just wanted to be on our own. Daniel finally went to sleep after grizzling (understandably) for ages after being returned from Grandma's. Poor kid was unsettled that we weren't in the more familiar surroundings of the apartment. Perhaps we should have taken Maggie up on her offer to have Daniel overnight, but we wanted to share that first night in our new home as a family.

So there was only time to make love in our marital bed that night to 'properly' christen the place, though Dana and I were very tired by that stage (especially after I kept up the theme of 'carry the bride over the threshold' by scooping her up and carrying her up the stairs), but that worked out well because it meant some beautiful slow and tender sex. Just after we climaxed I found myself expecting someone to bang on the wall and yell at us, even though by our standards we were fairly quiet. But our bedroom isn't on the attached side of the house. Free at last.

Sunday morning after my jog, I came out of the shower and went into our room to find Dana's clothes in a pile on the floor, but no wife, naked or otherwise, in sight. They weren't folded - she'd taken them off in a hurry.

I found one of my suits hanging from the wardrobe doorway, complete with tie, and a note pinned to the lapel, saying, "Put this on, Agent Mulder, and meet me downstairs."

"Hmmmm." Daniel was napping, and I could smell a fantasy enactment... Sure enough, there was another note on the stair railing that informed me that for this morning our sitting room was the Potomac and the sofa was our bench. AGENT Scully wanted to meet me there for a clandestine rendezvous.

I entered the sitting room - the park - to find Scully sitting on one end of our bench. She was wearing her trench coat, buttoned up, and was also wearing that expression she had in the first few years of our partnership - guarding her emotions. Cool, aloof. It wasn't until the unforgettable night we made our son that I fully saw the emotions she had been hiding. And even then it was the next day before we could actually vocalize those feelings.

Walking across the 'park', I was about to ask if I was accidentally sloshing around in the river itself, but I didn't want to ruin the fantasy mind-set. I'd learnt that before. It kills her mood.

I approached the bench. "Is this seat taken?"

"No, but I must warn you, I'm experiencing certain...impulses."

I sat down near her - keeping a bit of distance. We went through some old banter, reminisced about old cases, but upping the innuendo - Tooms, for example. "Well, Agent Mulder, I've heard that you're good at squeezing into very small spaces..."

Upping the heat while not touching. Boiling in our unresolved sexual tension. Communication with the eyes and words and voice and body, using the tools of Before 'Us'. Then finally not being able to last any longer, we made a mutual snatch at each others clothes. Surrender can be so sweet. And hot.

My partner had no clothes on under the trench coat... Too bad we couldn't really do it out there on the real bench. The thrill of being seen would really add an edge, but this bout of passionate lovemaking felt like the first time anyway, thanks to our mindset. Must try it again sometime. Dana, no - Scully - oh, whichever, I love the woman any way she comes, and she sure did! - gave me a congratulatory ass slap for my performance. Go team.

"Well, Agent Mulder, it is a pleasure being debriefed by you. This secret contact is quite...satisfactory."

Next time we'll try the "I just happen to have ice tea in this bag" scenario out in our car in the garage. Dana licking ice tea or root beer off my chest... I'd try going nude under the trench coat, but I'd look like a flasher. Or worse. Perhaps if I have the paper bag over a certain anatomical part, and say the line with an innocent look, and then she can reach in...


Present

I open our wrought-iron gate, look at the window box garden gnome that was painted to resemble an alien (Billy's idea of an early housewarming gift), and bound up the front steps of our house.

I close the front door behind me and can't resist yelling, "Honey, I'm home!" like Fred Flintstone. Whoops, if that wakes Daniel, I'm on diaper-change for the next week solid...

I can't smell any food cooking, but Elvis is silent. Ah well. There are still unpacked and half-full boxes everywhere. You can only get so much done in a few days. Especially when you're doing each other.

"I'll be down in a minute!" Dana calls.

The sideboard is just inside the door, and I dump my keys, glancing at the open mail there. Only a glance, because Dana's footsteps are on the stairs. When I look up, my wife is coming towards me, wearing a blue silk robe. She opens the robe with a flourish that would do a stripper proud, revealing a wisp of bra and matching panties that will disintegrate at the touch of a finger.

"Daniel's down," she announces with a look that matches the sexiness and intent of her outfit, "And I want you UP."

As I said before, life is GOOD.

"No Elvis?"

She sashays down the last few stairs, eyebrow raised. "My skin is singing, Fox. Can't you hear it? It's calling for you."

And like Ulysses, I do not want to resist.

Wordlessly I hold my arms open. Both beckoning and surrendering. My personal Siren slinks up to me, places the baby monitor on the sideboard, then slips out of the robe and gleefully jumps my bones. I am whacked up against the door, my ship lured onto the rocks - but I'm about to get my rocks off, so that's fine - breath leaving my lungs to be immediately sucked into her mouth as she takes possession, reaching her goal by climbing up my body like it's a coconut tree. My briefcase drops to the floor, striking my foot, but who cares? We kiss lustily.

Maternity leave gives Dana time to do other things... Enjoy our son; decorate our house; plot out sexual fantasies she then wants to turn into glorious Technicolor reality... That sort of thing.

"Down," she says as she tugs at my zipper. "Up!" as her hands find what they're looking for. "There's a good boy..."

"I can jump...through hoops, ya know..."

"I'm counting on it."

Soon I'm sitting on the floor, absolutely hooped, pinned up against the door, the back of my head banging against it, as my wife goes for it. I hope we don't get any visitors... I'm still pretty much clothed, apart from my pants and boxers, which are snared around my knees. Dana's naked behind slides up and down my thighs, my bent knees giving her something to fall back on if she should have need. She covers my face with wild, frenzied kisses.

Dana loves my chest, so I go to undo a few buttons, but she shakes her head as she moans and pants. "Don't want that - superficial tonight...only want you for one thing... Ohhhhh, yes..." Her head whips from side to side, captivated with our duet.

Back and forth through the hoop... It's a hoop of fire now...

My wife's scream rings out - very much like a siren. And with that permission, I'm gone.


Sirens, hoops, music... Sheesh, I certainly go on when I'm getting some.

I came home, I got laid, I was conquered. Or should that be I saw, I came, I was conquered? My head is thrown back against the door and my wife is on my lap as I come back to reality. Tiny little bits of gossamer bra are drifting down through the air and onto the floor like dust motes. Dana nuzzles my jaw, purring contentedly. "So, how was work?"

Work? What's she talking about? Oh. Big place. Basement.

Files. Gotcha. But today...?

"I can't remember..."

SmugDana surfaces. "Well, you put in some nice hard work just then."

"Geez - I've created a monster..." I mock-complain, still heaving in search of a deep breath. I'm serious. I'm not boasting - after the first time we'd made love, Dana told me that she'd never really had an orgasm before. About the closest she'd come was that Kindred guy who had the pheromone-charged touch - hardly much of a notch to put on the bedpost. And getting that tattoo. Fortunately that's all she got out of that night. Also she stated how hot and bothered I'd unintentionally get her over the years, when she'd catch a glimpse of me naked or bare-chested in a motel room. That sort of thing. Build-up, but never any release.

So I gave her her first real orgasm. She loved it. It made her insatiable for more. I have a duty to 'uphold' and deliver. Though she's more secure in self-pleasure now too. I started off one hell of a learning curve. And Scully has always learned fast and excelled and then turned around and taught me a thing or two.

"If you couldn't stand the heat, you shouldn't have set me off in the first place," Dana points out logically as she unbuttons my shirt to admire and lick my chest.

Somehow I manage to concentrate. "Beautiful, you hadn't gotten any in over five years. Five years is enough to make anyone explode."

She raises her head and pokes a finger into my chest. "Talking yourself down, Fox? Don't. It was all you. Now that I know what I was missing, I can't believe I lasted that long without one. Or without a daily dose of you." Then her voice becomes barely audible. "Or without telling you that I loved you." She puts her cheek down against my bare skin, against my heart.

I hold her even closer. "We didn't leave it too late. Thank God." We are silent as we contemplate. If Dana's neighbor hadn't had a heart attack while smoking then Dana's apartment wouldn't have burnt down and then my partner wouldn't have moved in with me and if I hadn't kept pretending to find faults in the places that she was looking to move into and if we hadn't settled down that night to watch Charlie Chan on the old leather couch and if she hadn't leaned her head against my shoulder and if I hadn't put my arm around her and kissed her and if we hadn't made love at that very moment... There would have been no Daniel. Perhaps no us, either. Ever? Would we ever have gotten there? Don't think about it. Don't torture yourself. No second guessing. No assumptions.

A lesson that was reinforced a few days ago


Saturday

When I walked Maggie out through the wrought-iron gate to her car, she suddenly stopped and turned to me and gave me a huge hug. I was surprised. I mean, I had gotten used to physical contact and shows of affection since the night Dana and I wrecked the couch, and Mom always embraces Dana and me to say hello and goodbye and is ALWAYS holding Daniel...

But I knew that this wasn't just a goodbye hug. Something was up.

"Thank you so much, Fox," she said.

I could hear her sniffling. "Mom? For what?" Just for having her over? "What's wrong?"

She pulled back and smiled in that self-aware way her daughter has. "Thank you for everything. But especially for my beautiful grandson and for making Dana so happy." She swiped at her eyes.

I stumbled out, "But, I..."

Her smile was knowing. She knew of those moments of doubt I had, that my dented psyche would pop up just when I was sure I'd slain them. Ones that were much briefer these days, mere micro-blips on my radar, but there were times that I'd wonder if Dana really did love me and that perhaps she was just staying for appearance-sake and Catholic feelings because I knocked her up and 'trapped' her. I'd known that she had wanted kids in her future, but did she really want them with ME? Would I come home one day and find that she'd taken Daniel and gone, fed up with living with me after all I'd put her through, deciding that I wasn't a good enough husband or father? 'Thanks for the baby, have a nice life.' Or was she in this for lust, just using me as an upgraded vibrator?

Hey, I KNEW this was ridiculous. All I had to do was look into my wife's eyes and it was clear my worries were pure bullshit. But those blips loved popping up in nightmares in the dark. Dana couldn't get out of me just what would wake me up in such a cold sweat - I'd pretend that I couldn't remember - but she knew to hold me close and to have the light on until I calmed down. Luckily the frequency of that has diminished. Perhaps I should have said something, but right after the nightmares I never could, it was too close and I doubt I'd be coherent, and afterwards when I'd calmed down enough, bringing up such an issue seemed...insultive to what we had.

Did Maggie know about the nightmares? Had Dana told her? My mother-in-law was still speaking. Her words smoothed out those stubborn dents better than I could ever manage by myself. "All I ever wanted for Dana was that she be happy and healthy. Thanks to you, she's both. I know that neither of you could love another man or woman as much. And to see the change in her since she's been able to express her love for you..."

And an even more knowing smile surfaced, which seemed to say, "And her finally getting some great-quality sex helps no end too", but that must have been my male mind. How could I think that my angel of a mother-in-law would think that?

Maggie wasn't finished. "Never doubt that Dana loves you, Fox. Even when it's been a very rough day with the baby and she's crying or you have a fight and say things. The love you two share isn't transitory. Nothing can destroy it; not even your self-doubt. You deserve all this. Enjoy it."


Present

I am taking Maggie's advice.

Now my wife and I sit here against the front door, getting our breathing back under control, grinning like idiotic teenagers.

I recognize her robe and underwear, such as it is. Or was. The evening that we signed on the dotted line for the house, Maggie babysat while I took Dana out to celebrate. My wife expected that we'd go to a nice restaurant, but I had other plans first. I remember the confused look on Dana's face when I escorted her into a large department store.

I took her to the household appliances section and spread my arms out at all the washers and dryers and said, "Sky's the limit, babe. Go for it."

She laughed, then quietly hugged me.

"I couldn't fit them into a bouquet, sorry."

All that time of having to use the laundry room in the apartment block would soon be no more. Good. I never wanted to see another quarter again, and especially no more pairs of grey-pink boxer shorts. Then after Dana made her selections, we went to the lingerie department, where she let me make MY selections.

And $352 of those selections didn't make it through one wearing... Even on the last night in our old place, even after repeated vacuumings, we were still finding loose sequins in the bedroom carpet.

The washing machine was installed a few weeks ago. Dana and I couldn't resist trying it out. As in going at it on top of the machine while it was going. Just like a vibrating chair when it hits the spin cycle. I had to stay 'grounded', so to speak, but it's less tiring with Dana able to sit somewhere instead of me having to hold her against the wall. And doing it there is like being on the dining room table - especially the bruises to the rear.


Present

Dana and I get up off the hallway floor, both needing to help each other stand, and laughing at that fact.

"Does this mean we're getting old?" she asks.

"Nah, that just means we're getting very, very good..."

She puts her robe on and ducks upstairs to peer in on Daniel and have a quick shower, still quivering from the effects of our lovemaking.

Then it's my turn in the shower. I kind of wish that Dana was still in there too, but she remembers someone she has to phone right away, so escapes my clutches. Well, more recovery time. See the glass half-full.

Then I peek in on Daniel. My son is asleep, so I just stand in the doorway and watch him, mesmerized by his little face and the rise and fall of his chest. Hard to believe that he's capable of morphing into one big long howl within the space of seconds.

Hair still spiked from my shower, I go back downstairs.

Gee, I finally OWN a staircase.

Dana is back in her robe, waiting for me at the bottom of the stairs. "I'm hungry," she announces.

Well, we are overdue for some food, but I don't think she's got any on the stove yet. Unless we're having salad or such. Perhaps this is her subtle hint that it's my turn to cook. Okay. "What would you like me to whip up, honey?"

"Me, into a frenzy."

I give her a look.

"I'm HUNGRY," she intones, and this time I'm not so slow on the uptake. Before she can undo the robe again, we're on the floor, and my hands and tongue are at work. Dana probably expected to be lifted off her feet and up against the wall, but I want to pleasure her first. This is her time. Besides, we did the wall thing this morning, just here. A quickie we just couldn't resist, even though we knew that Spender would be along at any minute. We knocked several framed pictures off the wall, undoing Dana's fine decorating and upturning a side table, but I knew I wasn't going to get in trouble for it. We're going to total this house in short order though.

And just when things were reaching their peak against the wall, two things happened. Daniel began making noise over the monitor. "Mommy's coming..." Dana moaned, though fortunately the monitor was on 'receive only'. "Mommy's coming..." A few seconds later, she did. And the second that happened, I heard Spender blast the car horn outside - fortunately no one can see IN our front door.

"Coming..." I announced rather firmly, and did.


Present

So we're on the hallway floor again, and I am currently engaged in the very pleasurable task of nuzzling and kissing my wife all over. She smells and tastes of jasmine body lotion.

I glide my tongue over her bare back, reveling in its smoothness. There is no tattoo marring that perfection now - it is gone. I don't know exactly when Dana had it removed. I've never really asked, though I know it is a time consuming and painful procedure.

Usually all things elective are deferred for six months to a year after the diagnosis of 'you're in remission now', so the most logical bet would be that she started the laser treatments soon after she came back from Phily, before she realized she had cancer. It would have cost a lot, money that she would have missed when she was diagnosed.

I can just remember the first time that we showered together once we were lovers, and I saw Dana's back and realized there was nothing there anymore. I hadn't been sure how I'd react to seeing the snake - whether it would turn me on or off. For a moment there I even found myself thinking that this was a clone Dana, but all she said was: "It didn't match who I was anymore. Perhaps it never did. I broke the circle."

Now I turn her over and kiss her inner, upper left thigh. That's the spot we've chosen for her next tattoo, where her gynecologist will be the only other one privy to it. We plan on getting it done sometime next year. Dana has already chosen the design she wants. A smiling fox.

It will be a his and hers experience. My tattoo will be on my left hip. A little cross, the same shape and size and design as Dana's cross. When I told her what I'd chosen, she was hesitant - not as in offended, otherwise I would have picked something else. She just didn't want it to seem like she'd converted me or anything, but that's the symbol I want. It'll go on my hip because it would be perhaps a bit crass on my upper inner thigh. She is me, and I am her.

Dana said this will be a much better experience than the last one, especially since she can look into MY eyes this time instead of closing her eyes and having to pretend that it was me standing there watching.

We're just inside our living room doorway at the moment, as I bend to my task. Dana's head grazes a box which is still waiting to be unpacked, and she looks up at the label. Somehow she manages to read it upside down, and frowns. "That's the china - the idiots put it out here! Look, it clearly says - ohh, ohhhhhhhhhhhh... It should be in, ummmmmmmmmm..." She gestures vaguely. "In...that room - that room with the oven in it..."

Her hands thrash at her sides, clasping and unclasping, as if they're bowing to the power of my attentive tongue elsewhere. Her body bucks, and I hold her in place.

"Talk to me, Fox," she pants. "I love that...but...I want to hear...your voice. I need..."

"What do you want to hear, babe?"

"Tell me things...wonderful things... please...

Fantasies."

I let my fingers do the work as I come up next to her ear and lick it, then whisper hotly of a very wonderful thing. "No more coin laundry."

She chuckles, then thinks about it for a second and moans in delight.

What else? "Delivery men that are always on time."

"Ohhhh..."

"Wallpaper that's the same shade in real life as in the catalogue."

"Ahhhh! More, more..." Her fists pummel the floor.

"All the rooms finished, furnished, and decorated just the way you want them."

She's getting close.

Got it - I bury my lips in her ear and deliver the ultimate slayer

"You're right, Scully. I was wrong. Fox William Mulder admits it. You're so completely right about EVERYthING."

She nearly shoots through the roof. When she recovers enough, she tells me that the sheer surprise manifestly increased her orgasm. That was the word she used. 'Manifestly'. I figure it means that I did good.

Can't provide for my family, huh, Billy boy? Guess again.

We stop for her to catch her breath. My eyes drift over a painting that has a fruit tree in it. When Dana was pregnant, she had a few cravings for bananas and such, but her main craving was for ME. Lots and lots of me. Luckily I could provide just that without having to drive down to the 7-11 at all hours of the night. Even when she got very big, she wanted me. I was worried that I'd hurt her, especially when she got to the point where simply walking around was uncomfortable. Not that she ever said one word of direct complaint; to her this baby was worth stoically enduring discomfort for. But Dana said that what I did to her made her feel so good that everything else faded away.

When Dana went into labor (just after we'd made love under the newly decorated Christmas tree), I found myself wondering if this was the end for all that sex, for her desire for me. After all, apart from that very first time, we'd never made love when she HADN'T been pregnant. It was all probably just a result of the pregnancy hormones or the novelty of orgasms. And I'd read that women could lose interest in sex after giving birth. Big time.

That fear was shattered two weeks after Daniel was born. Dana woke me out of a sound sleep in the middle of the night, begging - no, demanding - that I do her then and there.


Present

Dana sighs. "I've said 'God' more times in the last few hours than in the entire rest of my life..."

I kiss the breast nearest to my mouth. "You're giving me a swelled head, woman."

"Am I? Oooh, good!" She raises an eyebrow with childish delight and sits up to have a look...but she's not looking at my face. "Liar! Come on, sleepyhead, up and at 'em! You've had enough recovery time."

The 'monster' I've created has surfaced again. With her eyes glowing like that, she could be a vampire. She nibbles on my chest, then increases the pressure, nipping and sucking. Then she tires of that and goes for the sexual jugular.

Reciting times tables can get boring, so I stare at the scribble on a box - that's my handwriting, not Dana's. A box of stuff that I'd had stored in our apartment - my apartment, back before Dana's place burned down and she moved in. "Hey, my old Oxford memorabilia! Cool, I wondered where that was!" I pant out.

"Well, close your eyes and think of England!"

I'm sure she doesn't include Phoebe in that equation.

Neither do I.

Soon I sit up and reach for my wife, feeling an overwhelming desire for our pleasure before she can complete my own. I move us forward and down, Dana going willingly to lie on her back on the floor. Now I'm on top. She wraps her legs high and gasps as I go deep. I've got the living room doorframe to brace my feet on.

"God, I love this," Dana says, eyes closed, savoring. "Let's go at it like bunnies over and over until someone's head blows."

I chuckle. "Mine usually does, or don't you notice?"

"Shut up and get to work."

I put more energy into her request than I did into the whole day in the basement. So much so that I propel us forward, further into the living room. I don't mean to sound crude or anything, but I'm literally 'riding' her.

We travel over the area rug fairly quickly in the good old missionary position, covering a substantial distance with each thrust. I'm probably getting kneeburn. I hope Dana appreciates my gallant saving of her from severe buttburn by cupping that sweet little rear of hers with my hands and lifting it as we move. Her shoulders are probably saved from grazes by her hair - she's grown it out longer, though it beats me why she decided to now when Daniel keeps grabbing at it.

We become stationary near the coffee table - well, stationary as in no longer moving across the carpet, but our hips are far from stationary. We can't go any further because of some piled boxes. Five yards ago we brought some tumbling down as we tried to wend our way through them. While searching for something substantial to brace my foot on, I accidentally kicked a cabinet too. I didn't put my foot through it, but I think a Lladro figurine tumbled off into the armchair. It shouldn't be broken. At the moment I don't really care.

Now Dana bucks and moans beneath me, biting her lip, eyes closed. With a little help, her legs hook up over my shoulders. Her foot upends the bowl of sunflower seed husks on the coffee table and we get partially showered like it's confetti or rice at a wedding. Great, more vacuuming, though fortunately there wasn't much in there to begin with. Haven't had the time to do much crunching and cracking. She laughs, though she'll probably be cross later.

I know she wants this one to be slow and last, so I'm trying to pace myself. That requires some distraction. Staring at her flushed, smoky face and iridescent eyes (when they flicker open) isn't the way to do that, so I end up looking at the nearest object - an armchair.

Design of little stripes. Greens. Ethan Allen. Slow, go slow. What else about Ethan Allen? Dana was so happy with this armchair - when we got it, she made sure we tested it out -

whoops, go back to green stripes, calming green, green that matches our couch, the couch that we bought after breaking the other during - don't remember that! - don't come yet, that's better.

Yes - remember Dana on the phone to the store, channeling her no-nonsense FBI persona into getting the best deal and refusing to be intimidated by the salespeople or tradesmen. "I want it. I want it now. No arguments, I want it as agreed, and you'd better deliver!"

whoops

green stripes, Ethan Allen - wonder if he had a casting couch? - she wants it

slow slow

Dana when the chair was delivered: "yes, just here - right here! careful - that's it...just a little more, it'll fit, no it's not a tight fit if we just... Back a bit...just a little more - Yes! That's it!"

That's it that's it

And that is it.

"Sorry," I say apologetically when I'm able. I'm not even sure if she got there or not.

Dana strokes the damp hair off my forehead. "Oh, I think I can forgive you. But what happened? You stared at the armchair as if it was the most fascinating thing you've ever seen, then like it was a Penthouse Centerfold and you let rip... Is there something you want to tell me?"

I explain and she laughs. We agree that thinking about furniture to distract ourselves is not the best thing, because of all the memories...

I look around the room as best I can from our positioning, and over all those boxes. The living room has high ceilings and some moldings around it, and a big mantle above the fireplace, already festooned with flowers and family photos.

Dana sees the destruction left in our wake and shakes her head. "We're not supposed to be demolishing the place..."

I shrug. "Home sweet home..." I say into her ear.

"You referring to our slice of real estate or the property in which you are currently lodged?"

After our laughter dies down, we separate reluctantly and lie on the floor, holding and stroking. We've managed to 'knock' the baby monitor along beside us on our travels, and to toss it onto the nearest chair or sofa relative to where we think we'll end up. Dana gets up and listens to it. "Sleeping like a log," she reports.

"Good." I happily remain upside-down, watching my wife, stretching my cramping legs.


Present

After that round we're REALLY exhausted, with not even the energy to collapse onto the nearby couch, so we lay and hold again. Just as well we can't reach the couch. Then we might be tempted to recreate what we did on Sunday.

Dana sighs contentedly. "I have everything I want. A job I love, a home, a baby, great sex. You."

"Same here."

Daniel is gurgling over the monitor. I want to tell Dana "You wore me out - it's your turn," but I have a feeling that's exactly what she'll say to ME, and I haven't greeted my son properly tonight. Time sort of got away on us. He usually doesn't sleep this long of an evening, but I think the sleep he lost in settling in here is finally catching up with him. I tell Dana that I'll go up and check on Daniel and, if she puts dinner on, I'll clean up later.

Dana lies back languidly. "Fox, I've noticed something about you. When you get laid regularly, you become a much nicer person."

"Glad you've figured that one out."

"So if I want to invite Bill and Co. to the housewarming, I'd better give you a sex session lasting four days beforehand?"

I just look at her. She grins at my lack of response and gives the sigh of a complete and utter martyr. "Well, if I MUST."

Dana gets up and I admire the shape of her behind and the way her breasts - she turns and looks at me, fully aware of what I'm up to, then laughs and heads for the kitchen, still stark naked and poised. Go, girl.

I find my boxer shorts by minor miracle and pull on the tattered remnants of them, then recollect where the stairs are and head for the nursery. I look into the cot. My son is playing with the blanket and kicking his legs. I'm glad he's too young to ask about the teeth marks on my torso.

He sees me and immediately his hands drop the blanket and he laughs like his mother. His hands wave. I pick him up and his head fits snugly against my neck. I stroke the top of his head and kiss him and listen to his baby-babble. Pride and awe surge up in me again. It seems hard to believe that I could have had a part in making something - someone - this perfect.

My blue-eyed son has already had his very first X-file experience. He was only about six hours old at the time. The ghost of his grandfather, Bill Scully, Sr., appeared in the hospital room and gave my family his blessing. Dana and Daniel slept through it. Hmmm, I hope that won't prove to be habit. Then again, I don't want my kid having to take up the baton in this crusade like it looks like I did when my father dropped it. Or threw it away along with my sister...

Daniel bats me on the chin with his fist and jolts me back to reality. "Thanks, Danny Boy. You ARE your mother's son."

I like the nursery. If Bill, Jr. asks if I helped with the painting, etc, I'll tell him the truth. I stood there when it was finished and said "That looks nice." I don't care what Bill thinks - on the whole I was sensible enough to stay out of the way.


I'm carrying Daniel along the hallway towards the stairs. I love what Dana's done to the place. She loves architecture. I have no idea, so to me the house is full of green, comfortable things.

Daniel makes hungry noises as we go downstairs. His mouth is opening and closing, and he's close to a howl because he knows that my bare chest doesn't have what he's after. I chant soothingly, "Almost there, almost there," as I rub his back.

Dana and I are taking advantage of a flexible work program that the FBI offers to parents. Both male and female agents can work a minimum of 16 to a maximum of 32 hours a week on a prorated pay basis, to balance work and family. Agents can jump in and out of the program as needed. When Dana's six months leave are up, she's going to go back to work for sixteen hours a week for a start and see how things go. She gets to keep her seniority and can come back full time when she wants to.

I've used the program too so I can spend a lot of time with my family, and Dana will probably go into work at night, or the days when Maggie can baby-sit or I'm home. We don't want to leave Daniel in daycare.

One of Dana's first tasks, apart from forensic work, will be to conduct interviews for the expansion of the X-Files division. Spender has been making noise about wanting to move onward (and upward), thank God, but apart from him, we do need more help in the office and the field. Two additional people for now, but Skinner has hinted that we'll be needing and getting more in the future. Something's brewing, whether through humans or aliens, and more and more people as well as me are sensing this or stumbling across pieces and turning to us for help.

Daniel is still grousing for his milk. Dana won't have to wean him, since she won't be working full-time just yet. She'll just pump and freeze so that Maggie or I can give him bottles when she's at work. We've been giving him at least one bottle a day to get him used to it from the beginning anyway. And soon we'll start introducing him to solids.

Daniel and I enter the kitchen. "Someone's hungry," I announce.

Dana smiles and holds out her arms. "Come here, Fox Cub." God, she looks so serene and content in moments like this. Being able to watch them or to be responsible for them is mind-blowing. I hand our son over and she sits down at the kitchen table, sliding her robe open and Daniel into position. Babe with babe. But despite being presented with what he wants, for a second his little head inexplicably swivels towards me.

I smirk. "Go for it, son. Daddy's already had his share."

"Mulder!" Dana's scolding holds a smile.

I keep an eye on the soup and get the bread out while Daniel nurses. Our meal is almost ready when Dana hands the baby to me to be burped. Our little ray of sunshine promptly throws up down my back. I did have a towel draped over my shoulder - I learned that lesson very well on about day three of fatherhood - but the warm and sour milk doesn't all end up on the towel. It trickles down my bare back and onto my boxers. The floor is spared though.

I glare at the laughing Dana and the now de-winded Daniel. "You two planned that."

"Just a matter of perfect timing. Go have a shower.

Alone."

"That's my thanks for sparing you?"

"Fox, I don't intend to spare ANY of you."


Finally we have eaten, played with our son for a while, and are now dressed for bed. Daniel is asleep again, down for the night - we hope - and I'm so tired that it will be nice just to climb into bed and hold and sleep, happy in our home.

One more thing would make this perfect. "Can we skip the big party with Bill and Company? After all, we've just had a great private housewarming, surely? If we don't have the big party, I can promise many more private sessions." I'm hopeful of my logic, but Dana just looks at me as she climbs into bed.

I shrug in defeat and turn the blankets down on my side. I'm about to get in when I feel something on the sole of my foot. Those damn seeds. I brace my body on the bedside table and raise my foot to look and remove. But I look and freeze.

"What is it?" Dana asks.

"Our household's very first X-file."

I show her the underside of my foot. Three sequins are stuck there.

Now it REALLY feels like home.

The End


End notes: Info on the FBI's flexible work program was taken from an article in The Connecticut Post, "Women of the FBI", by James G. Clark, November 8, 1999.

Title: 10. A Chip Off The Old Fox
Authors: Ten
Category: V; MT of sorts; MSR; Lone Gunmen Angst; H Rating: PG-13 Summary: On what is supposed to be a wild night in, the Lone Gunmen find themselves on babysitting duty instead. Timespan/spoiler warning: This is set in Macspooky and my "Daniel/Couch" series, about a month or two after the events of "Housewarming". It can be read as a standalone

Mulder and Scully have bred and wed. This series and universe diverts from the show after the events of "Emily" in the fifth season. Some aspects of the following seasons are kept, but baby Daniel was named long before the episode "all things" was written, and seeing as it is unlikely Dana would have named her child after that guy, that past history for her does not count here.

The usual sexual endurance disclaimer still applies here, but it's a PG-13.

FEEDBACK: Always great to know who's out there in the ether!

Thanks to: All those who have been waiting for the next in the Couch series. Thanks for your patience! And to Mac, as always, Gerry and Vickie for insider knowledge, and Debbie.
Disclaimer: The X-Files, the episodes referred to, Mulder and Scully and all other characters from the show belong to Chris Carter, the writers of the episodes, Ten Thirteen Productions and Fox Broadcasting, and are used without permission. No copyright infringement is intended, no profit will be gained. Characters not recognized from the show are mine or Mac's.

 


Tonight's the night.

And it is going to be GREAT!

We've been planning this for weeks. Langly has been shopping, Frohike has been cooking and I've been setting the office up for it.

This is going to be the best poker/cheese steaks/video games/guys-night-in we have ever had. Now that Mr and Mrs Scully-Mulder are completely settled into their house and our schedules are aligned, Dana has given Mulder permission and time off to spend the night here.

I phoned him yesterday to confirm it was still on. He assured me that it was, but... I'm not sure. My writer's instincts told me that something was up. He sounded strange. Unless it was a bad cellular line.

Or, knowing Mulder and Dana, I interrupted them at a rather...delicate stage.

Then again, they seem to be always at some stage of that stage. Having a child is supposed to put a spanner in those works. It just seems to have speeded those two up. I guess they do have five years of holding out to make up for. Though Langly suggested - albeit not in Dana's presence - that their answering machine message should be: "We're not out at the moment, we're very much *in*. We'll get back to you as soon as we come - er, can."

Perhaps they're making up for missing tonight's session. Who knows? Musing on that, I do a final circuit of the room, checking that the computers are all positioned and ready for when we have a networked game of 'Doom'. Once we eat, the table will quickly be transformed into poker central. I look towards the kitchen. Clanking can occasionally be heard over the blaring radio. I could offer to help, but it is best to stay out of Melvin's way when he's in there.

Langly is in the bedroom getting changed. One of these days we'll move our HQ to a place that has more room instead of being forced to share the bedroom when we're here working on an issue or whatever, but we usually sleep in shifts so that time and space can be used to maximum benefit. All for the service of the truth.

A quick glance at the clock confirms the time. Mulder will be turning up at any minute. I think we're ready.

Just like old times. Well, mostly. We haven't really managed a night like this since Mulder and Scully got together. Things just happened so fast. Lovers, pregnant, married, parents, homeowners...

So, unlike old times, Mulder will actually be happy. As in REALLY soul-deep happy, instead of walking around with large pieces missing from his heart. He's not going to be sitting there, nursing a beer and his hand of cards, contemplating the unreachable Agent Dana Scully and all the angst he's put her through. How she'd never fall for a loser like him.

It makes me think of Susanne, and wonder...

No. No pining of my own. At least not for tonight.

Where was I? Yes, things have changed for the better for our friend.

"Far out, is thAT Mulder?"

Startled, I look at Langly. I hadn't heard him come out of the bedroom. But he is standing near me and staring at the video monitor we have over the entrance door.

Mulder is framed on the screen. Or at least a zombie who resembles Mulder. He reaches for the buzzer and fumbles with it a bit before managing to work it. With his other hand, he rubs at his face and yawns. With his eyes half-closed like that, it's lucky one of his fingers doesn't put an eye out.

I hurry for the door and undo the locks and open it to reveal that Mulder looks even worse in the flesh. "Hi," he manages quietly, shuffling past me, his head nearly slumped against his chest.

Langly is staring at his red-rimmed eyes and hair that is sticking out like the Statue of Liberty's crown. "Geez, what happened - you get robbed? Or jumped by Scully as you headed out the front door, wanting a different kind of stick-up?"

Mulder stares at him vaguely, as if trying to place him, then a light goes on in his brain. "Danny's teething again."

"So you didn't get much sleep last night?" I ask.

"Tuesday," Mulder says with all seriousness. "I'm pretty sure I got ten minutes solid sleep on Tuesday. That was good."

Today's Friday.

"Oh," remarks Frohike from the kitchen doorway, resplendent in his gingham apron. "Then I guess you won't feel like raging too much tonight."

That comment seems to rouse our friend. "No! No, guys, I've been looking forward to this for ages! Fro's food will perk me up, then I'll be ready for some hot poker, and I can always sleep in tomorrow."

Langly gives Mulder a quizzical look. "Scully let you come out when the kid's teething?"

"She said that I needed the break. And Mom's going to be there tonight, so that'll take some pressure off Dana."

Mom as in Maggie, of course. Though apparently Teena is showing more interest now.

So we Lone Gunmen and the Not-So-Lone Anymore G-man start off our evening. Langly and Frohike serve up our feast - which will be supplemented through the night with plenty of potato chips, burritos, popcorn saturated with butter and so on. Mulder does seem to perk up, putting away his food, laughing uproariously (and nearly spitting Pepsi out his nose) at Langly's descriptions of antics that he and his latest date are getting up to.

We won't get any bragging or tales like that out of Mulder. Not even if he gets drunk, which he won't. He just sits there and radiates contentment. As Melvin says to me in the kitchen when we're about to bring more food out, we can't even call Mulder a smug bastard. He keeps the facts private. Well, apart from with his neighbors, who don't have soundproofing. Yet.

The dishes have been cleared away - heaped up in the sink for later, much later - and now we can play poker. But as the first hand is dealt, I can see that Mulder is drooping again. His arm is heavily supporting his head and he squints at the cards.

"Mulder, perhaps-"

"I'm fine!" he says immediately, sitting bolt upright.

Frohike snorts as he arranges his chips. "We don't believe that one from you or your wife."

"Shut up and play."

So we do. Mulder's concentration is so poor that we stop before he loses enough to pay for a new house. "I'll be better at Doom," he promises, and is 'blown away' three times in quick succession.

I hope he's not doing any fieldwork at the moment...

Mulder stares at the 'Game over' message on the screen.

"Damn," he says softly.

"Time to bring out the big guns." With that comment and a magician's flourish, Langly produces a magazine. It might even be one that Mulder transferred into our possession when he and Scully got married. "This might be the cure." Langly opens it up and gives Mulder an eyeful of one hot and naked babe who is lying on a king-sized bed. Waiting. Beckoning.

Mulder stares fixedly at the image. "Man... That bed looks *really* comfortable." He gives a sigh of longing.

"Okay," I say, motioning to Langly to put the magazine away so that I can concentrate. "Come on, Mulder. You can crash on the spare bed."

"No, guys..." He stops and sighs again, accepting the hopelessness of the situation at last. "I'm sorry. I was really looking forward to tonight."

"There'll be plenty of other nights. Get some sleep now, and we might be able to pick this up in the morning before Scully comes for you."

"You guys sure you don't mind?"

We chorus our affirmations and steer him to the bedroom. He's down and out for the count in seconds, after a heartfelt "Thanks..."

The three of us try to resume our poker game. We're really getting into it when the buzzer goes again. We look around at the monitor.

"Mrs Zombie and the Tooth Monster," Frohike says, scrambling up to let them in.

He's right. Dana looks exhausted too. She's hefting one of those baby carriers that is a car seat and cradle all in one. Daniel is in it, securely strapped. The baby looks like he's on the verge of howling. "Hi, guys. Sorry to interrupt," Scully says, shuffling in. She looks around the room. I hope Langly has put that magazine away. Now I can also see that she's got a large baby bag over one shoulder. Melvin rushes to assist her, and she gratefully lets him take the bag. "Thanks."

I hastily clear the surface of the nearest table. Dana decides that it looks sturdy enough and places the car seat on it, then rubs her neck. "Where's Mulder?"

"He's out the back -" I begin.

She shakes her head. "You men and your bladders. He went just before he came here..."

"No -" I begin.

"Got a bit of a crisis happening, fellas," she informs us before we can correct her. "One of Mom's friends has become ill and Mom's at the hospital with her. They need me for about an hour or so, two at the most. I can't take Danny. I've got the taxi waiting outside, so can you tell Mulder that I'm sorry and I'll be back as soon as I can so you boys can keep reveling. Danny should fall asleep soon anyway. I have to run. Thanks, guys. Bye, Fox Cub. Mommy won't be long. Have fun with Daddy and your uncles." As she is saying all this, she puts the bag on the table next to her son, kisses him on his forehead, blows a kiss to us, and races out the door.

"Okay..." Frohike says, shutting the door. It's like a tornado has just whisked in and out.

As one, the three of us turn to look at Daniel. He stares back from his 'throne', sniffling and grizzly, his cheeks red. This child is a Mulder-Scully. Any second now he's going to realize just who he's been left with and start howling, which I don't think will do his sore gums a world of good. And judging by the expression on his face, the 'fall asleep' soon assurance appears to be wistful thinking on his mother's part.


"Hey, Dan the Man," Langly says with false bravado, going up to the baby carrier car seat thingie. "How they growing?"

Scully-eyes peer back at him out of the face of a miniature Mulder.

Daniel whimpers, his fists bunched.

"Hey, none of that - you'll wake your dad, and he really needs the rest. We'll look after you." Langly pats Daniel on the top of his head. "I know that getting your teeth must be a bitch, but think of all the new things you can do with them!"

I feel uncomfortable. "Ringo, don't say that in front of him."

"What? Bitch?" I wince. Langly rolls his eyes. "Calm down, JFB.

He's a baby, not a parrot. Plus he's only, what, six months old.

Seven? Slightly preverbal."

"Seven. And he's the offspring of Dana and Mulder. If he suddenly recited our entire conversation word for word, or 'Hamlet', I wouldn't be surprised." Daniel has certainly got Mulder's curiosity, always looking around at things, reaching out. God knows what he's going to be like when he starts crawling...

Danny batters listlessly at the string of brightly colored toys that hangs across his car seat thingie. His expression seems to state, "Oh God, bad enough that my mouth's killing me, now Mom's up and left me with the dweebs". Then he yawns, screwing his face up at the pain. I get a view of the two bottom teeth he'd been making do with - and managing with them quite well, if the chew marks I noticed on Mulder's leather jacket were anything to go by. Or perhaps those marks were courtesy of Dana...

Daniel's yawn also allows me to see swollen redness on his gum. I flinch in sympathy. Looks like some top ones are trying to come through. Not only does the poor kid have to live with the ectoplasmic goo that passes for baby food, but as Mulder mentioned at some stage tonight, those teeth are coming through a bit late, which makes it harder on the baby.

Like father, like son. Nothing the easy way.

"Let's see if we can get him to sleep." Frohike stands next to me, pulling faces and doing funny voices. I guess it's time to see if we can live up to our 'three stooges' nickname.

Not impressed with the three ring circus, Daniel lets out a cry, then gets taken aback by our chorus of frantic 'shushes'. We look desperately at the closed door to the bedroom. Nothing stirs.

I lean over the car seat and to my surprise I manage to easily undo the safety harness. I guess they make it that way - childproof, but not impossible for poor befuddled fathers. Once that is out of the way, I lift Danny out and up. This is my good suit - well, all of my suits are good - but under the circumstances, I'll have to risk some baby dribble. I have a good drycleaner. "I'll take you on a tour of the room, hey?" I add to the guys, "I think motion might wear him out. Perhaps find one of our taped conversations with Mulder. Hearing his voice might help."

"Gotcha." Langly heads off to search our extensive archive. If we can just get the baby asleep, then he'll be happy, and Mulder can keep sleeping and we can still play poker.

Daniel squirms in my arms, looking shy. I've held him before, but always with either his mother or father present or both, and those times the baby was always quite happy to be handed to someone new. That curiosity again. But I guess he's growing out of that phase now. He looks like he might pitch a fit. I'd better get moving.

I begin my circuit, holding Danny so that he can see properly. Again thoughts of Susanne come into my mind. Mulder and Scully getting together like this makes me...wish? Wonder?

I decide that I'd better talk instead of think. "This is the CD burner, this is the printer, this is the zoom lens camera that I took some fantastic shots of a government cover up with - that was our biggest selling issue. This is a really neat computer that we can use one day to hack into your school files and change your grades. Though I don't think that will be necessary. And when you're a teenager, all this equipment will be obsolete."

Even as I'm talking - rambling really, but I guess my tone is the most important thing, lulling him to sleep hopefully - I'm amazed by this child. Yes, I have held miracles in my hands before. The chip that saved his mother's life, for one. And all children are special. The odds they have to overcome just to be created, to develop, to be born hale and hearty... Even though it happens countless times over, every day all around the world, and has been happening ever since humanity evolved.

This kid scoops the pool though.

It was miraculous enough that his parents actually got together in the first place. I've never seen two people more meant to be together, but huge obstacles kept getting put in their way - both by others and themselves...

I remember when we first found out that Scully was pregnant. At that stage Melvin, Ringo and I knew that she and Mulder had finally acted on their feelings - we had been sure that them sharing an apartment after Dana's burnt down would help collapse the final walls. The destruction of Mulder's famous leather couch was strong evidence of our theory. So one weekend a few months later when the two of them arrived here looking happy but secretive, I assumed it was because they were still basking in their new relationship or even due to the possibility of a new and intriguing X-File, as they wanted to get any research we had pertaining to Mulder's latest phenomenon of the week - he wanted enough to get Skinner to agree on an investigation. If he didn't, I was sure Mulder would go ahead anyway.

I brought some data up on screen, then realized that although Mulder was peering at it over my shoulder with interest, Scully wasn't. She was staring fixedly at something else.

I turned to look. She was looking at Melvin, who was munching contentedly on a Hershey bar. That was all he was doing, but Dana kept staring at him. Or rather, at the bar. I thought she was going to make some comment that he should have a more healthy snack, however, as Frohike noticed her unnerving scrutiny, I realized she was almost...well, not quite salivating, but close enough.

Melvin slowly stopped chewing and swallowed nervously. I'm sure he

wished that he was the one she was giving ravenous looks at, not

the remains of his treat. "Uh... Scully, there should be another

one still on the kitchen bench if you want -"

He got no further before she bolted into the kitchen. I turned to seek Mulder's reaction to all this and see if he could offer some enlightenment, but then a howl issued from the kitchen and Scully reappeared in the doorway. She was holding a Hershey six pack - an empty six pack. Her expression was grim.

Langly's gulp was clearly audible. "I ate the last bar when I was

in there getting some juice be-"

"How could you be such insensitive pigs?" she yelled. I wondered if she was about to pull her gun. "You don't even have a bite size bag left?"

Mulder raced to her side, hands out placatingly. "It's okay, it's okay. I'm sure the guys have plenty of other snack food in there that you can munch on."

She looked at him like he was depriving a village somewhere of an idiot. "I WANT Hershey bars!"

"Okay, I'll go grab some for you," he said immediately.

What was this? Could I believe my ears? Special Agent Dana Scully suddenly placing such vital import on a snack food? And she was nothing if not a strong, independent women - so why couldn't she just go get some herself?

Then a little voice inside my head answered that in these circumstances, it was traditionally the male's job.

Before I could stop myself, I blurted out: "Oh God, you're pregnant!"

"Yes!" she yelled at me, almost defiantly. "And you're going to be a eunuch if I don't get a Hershey bar soon!"

That threat didn't alarm me as much as it might have, because my brain was in shock and relief modes at her news. Considering what I knew of Scully's infertility, saying what I had and then being wrong about it would have caused a lot of pain and uncomfortableness.

Dana wasn't finished with us. In fact, she started to cry. "It's bad enough that you tossed out the couch that the baby was conceived on -" At this news Langly's eyebrows shot up and Melvin shifted in his seat, no doubt recalling that the couch that we had been sure we could salvage had soon sent a spring right into his... Well, let's just say that it was a visit to the ER I will never forget.

So, that was quite an announcement. And fortunately when I produced my stash of Twinkies it was enough to mollify Scully for the time being and take the edge off her craving while Mulder went for some Hershey bars. We then had a celebration of our friends' great fortune and happiness.

"I'm very sorry that we threw the couch out, Scully. We had no idea - well, I mean we knew how it must have gotten trashed in the first place -" At that I realized that my diplomacy and sense of preservation must have remained in bed that morning and that I should promptly join them. Providing Scully let me live.

But thankfully her hormones and humor were on an upswing or something, because she smiled and laughed. "You weren't to know. We were all set to throw it out until you said that you could fix it. And we got a much more comfortable couch instead. Extremely durable." She gave a very unladylike grin.


Now if we can just mollify the baby as easily...

Langly has managed to find a tape - fittingly the call that Mulder made to us in the early hours of last Christmas morning, to announce Daniel's arrival.

Hearing Mulder's voice provides some distraction for Daniel, and he quiets. But he's still awake and factitious.

"I thought Dana said he was due to zonk out?" Frohike says.

"Wishful thinking, most likely." I consider causes and possible solutions. "Well, he's in strange surroundings. He's probably feeling unsettled. Perhaps we should read to him."

Langly gives me the 'you nark' look. "Read to him from what - a recent issue or a UFO spotters handbook or from an issue of Celebrity Skin?"

Danny starts making noise, struggling in my arms. Frohike leans in. "Oh, come on, buddy. Work with us, huh? We're the good guys." He pats the baby on the cheek.

We all freeze. Frohike is wearing this 'did I just do that I didn't mean to and tell me it isn't anywhere near the sore spot...' pleading look.

Cue one very loud, very long, indignant howl.

Damn. We'd been doing so well.

Before I can take any action, the bedroom door flies open and Mulder emerges. That's a pretty good word, actually. He really does look like he's emerging from the grave. When we put him to bed he was half asleep - he's pretty much asleep now. But his son is crying and so Fox Mulder is on autopilot.

He takes the baby from me without asking how he got here or acknowledging my existence or demanding to know what I did or didn't do to cause this. It's not that Mulder is angry at me or anything - Daniel's cries are just blotting out everything else. Mulder walks and rubs and whispers and rocks and rummages in the baby bag, pulling out some sort of ointment that he deftly administers. Within a few minutes, Danny is quiet. One lap of the room later, he's asleep.

At this point, Mulder looks around the room. Cradling his son, he frowns in puzzlement. "Where's his bed?"

"Um, here." I point at the car seat. It's about all that's available, unless Mulder takes him into the bedroom. But none of the beds have rails on the sides, and if the baby decides to roll...

Mulder settles his son in the seat and automatically refastens him in, then covers him with a blanket from the bag. He looks down at him with pride that still has a touch of awe about it. Then he leans against the table, blinking blearily.

Time for me to step in. "I think it's time to put Mulder Senior to bed too."

Frohike and I guide him back to the bedroom. No rocking required.

Back in the main room, Langly is fiddling with the video camera. He speaks in a hushed whisper, "Okay, I recorded what he did. So if Dan the Man wakes up again, we'll know the drill, the routine."

Frohike asks, "What tape did you use?"

"The one that was in there."

"Ringo! That was a tape of that hot game of beach volleyball I recorded last week! Dammit!"

"Shhhh, you'll wake them!" I hiss.

We settle down to resume our poker. We find ourselves putting the cards down on the table with infinite care and not clinking the chips.

A little while later a smell pervades the air. At first I assume it is one of my compatriots. But they are giving me the same look. We all come to the truth at the same moment as the source wails for his problem to be taken care of.

We turn expectantly and look at the bedroom door. Nothing. Danny screams louder. Still nothing. His father is probably in a coma.

Actually, that's probably close to the truth. Mulder does have that hour or so of sleep most nights where he's so out to it...

"We can't leave Danny like that," I say. The other two nod. We can't. But which one of us is going to change him?

We all get up and go to stand in a semi circle around Daniel, hesitating. I feel about as much terror as I did the time Mulder had me with him when he broke into that clinic looking for clues to Scully's cancer.

"Shortest straw?" Langly suggests.

"This is ridiculous!" I explode. "We've done a lot of things for Mulder over the years. Hacked into government files, broken into secret facilities... We can do this."

Langly explains, "I know how to beat a security system. But... I've never really been around kids. My sister lives in England with her pack. And besides...um...she mentioned sometime that teething is supposed to cause the runs in infants. Major league."

Oh great. Even for us, there is such a thing as too much information.

Frohike turns to Langly. "Your kung fu is the best. YOU change the diaper."

"Okay," I say, rummaging in the bag. "We'll ALL change it."


As I come to, I become aware that my ears are ringing. Loudly. I guess Daniel's screams are still vibrating round in my head...

Ringing AND buzzing, actually.

The phone. The phone and the doorbell.

Groggily I fumble for the nearest phone. The door can wait - just picking up the phone is taking all of my energy. "Lugumen..."

"What the hell is going on?" Scully's voice demands stridently in my ear, at the same time as my vision clears enough to bring her into focus on the monitor above the door. "Open the door!"

"'k'..." I forget to release the phone as I get up and stagger forwards. And it's not a cordless. I nearly garrote myself while her voice keeps pounding in my ear.

"Are you all drunk? You weren't when I dropped Danny off. Okay, I'm late, but I wasn't thAT long. And I left a message. Mulder wasn't answering his cell. Do you mean that you STILL all got drunk anyway, despite Danny being there? I thought you had more sense than that! He'd better be all right!"

I drop the phone and disentangle myself and reach the door - all at basically the same time, while throwing a look over my shoulder. Daniel is perched in his car seat, serene and secured, giving me a 'Momma's gonna get you' look. "He's fine, Scully."

"Come ON!" Scully yells through the door as I'm fumbling with the locks. "I've had quite an evening and I just want to go home."

My scrambled mind is missing its common sense gland. "If you were so frantic, why didn't you pick the lock?"

"The LOCKS, thank you, very much." True, I don't think she would have had the patience for it. Another few minutes and she just would have battered the door down. "Not to mention set off God knows what as your security system."

As I pull the door open, I hear the bedroom door opening and

Mulder's dazed-but-awake voice reaches me. "Guys, was I dreaming,

or is Danny here -"

Mulder and Dana both step into the room from their opposite ends, then stop. Stunned. Being parents, their eyes immediately hone in on their precious offspring. Then, seeing that he is there and okay, their gazes travel over the room. What was once, just a few hours ago, the headquarters of the Lone Gunmen, before we became the Diaper Brigade.

The indoor snowstorm is pretty noticeable. When we were changing the diaper, we couldn't find any talcum powder in the baby bag, which surprised us. Langly went to get some from the bathroom, hurrying because we didn't think we could 'reseal' Daniel up until we'd dusted him down. But just when Langly got back into the room, he accidentally popped the top off the container. It was like dropping ink into a bathtub. My beard now has a distinguished old man look to it. That can be fixed easily enough, but getting the powder out of the keyboards and computer circuits, less so. Though in one way the accident proved to be a blessing because when we phoned Langly's sister for some help, she informed us that talc isn't used these days because infants tend to inhale it.

I think Langly went to the laundry to get the spit up out of his favorite t-shirt. And to dump our makeshift diaper pail far, far away. We both paid him to do it. Especially when his factoid about teething children proved to be oh so accurate. At least we know the sites where the government dumps its toxic waste.

He'd better get back here soon.

Frohike is fast asleep, his head resting on our poker table. He's got marks on his face from the scuba mask he insisted on wearing when we took the diaper off, and the peg he had on his nose, and Band-Aids on his finger from where Danny decided to have a taste test. Or a protest. Even just two bottom teeth can give a sharp nip.

Melvin turns his head in Scully's direction like a sunflower turns towards the sun, and one of the playing cards and a poker chip are stuck to his face, probably through baby drool super glue. I'm sure the nervous twitch his left cheek spontaneously developed will go after a few child-free days.

As for me, apart from my Santa Claus beard, I've got the Band-Aids from stabbing myself with a safety pin. Oh well, better my flesh than sticking the pin anywhere in Mulder's little miracle. And the word 'good' no longer applies to the suit I am wearing.

"I kept the blue blanket on him because it's the lightest I figured in this weather and it's the one you had on him, Mulder, and you'd know, being his parents and all and I wiped the corner where he was a little ill on it." I give details of how much Daniel has had from his bottle. "And Langly's gone to get more diapers since you were using double cloth ones. Too bad he's allergic to disposables. Danny, I mean, not Langly."

Mulder and Scully are staring at me like I'm talking Plutonian. I just want to make sure they know everything so they can take the baby and then not have to phone me up in the middle of the night - heck, the day, I'm sleeping for the next two straight - to ask me something.

Scully's mouth is open, her hand hovering near it. Mulder blinks hard.

Laughter rings out. It's coming from the car seat. Delighted laughter. Danny is kicking his legs in merriment, as if to say, "I want to do that again!" I guess his teeth must be feeling better. I'm sure he's laughing not only because of that and being clean - he's enjoying the havoc he's created. Or the fun, from his point of view.

Though when a baby giggles like that, it does warm the heart, no matter what they've done.

His parents both join in, wending their way around the messes to meet up at the car seat, nearly tripping because they're laughing so hard. Tears are running down Dana's cheeks. Perhaps it's from the powder...

"Oh Byers... Oh guys..." She expertly unstraps her son, then lifts Danny up and out, kissing his forehead and looking around at ground zero. Then she hands him to his father and comes over to give me a kiss. "We can never thank you enough. You've outdone yourselves this time."

"Well, we're his uncles. We've got to learn how to help him. It'll just be more fun when we can sit him at a computer."

The End


The tooth is in there <G>.

Title: 11. Bedbugs
Authors: Ten
Category: V, A, M&S wed & bred, H
Rating: PG-13 (for fairly non-descriptive adult situations)
Archiving: It goes to Gossamer through xff. Can be archived anywhere as long as my name, addy and disclaimer stay intact. FEEDBACK: Love it. Great to know who's out there in the ether. Thanks to: Mac for letting me loose in her universe, Gerry for the back up, Debbie for the editing and Suzanne for the looksee. Also this story has been 'coming soon' for quite a while now, so I apologize to those who have been waiting patiently, and thank people like Stephanie and Katie for making sure I got there in the end.

Summary: On a Winter's night, Dana Mulder is worried what the future holds for her family.

Timespan/spoiler warning: This is set in Macspooky's Daniel/Couch universe. You don't have to have read the others to follow this vignette: suffice to say that in the series M&S become lovers a few months after the events of "Emily" and then find that Scully is pregnant. They marry and have a son, Daniel, then move into a house in Old Town Alexandria.


Disclaimer: The X-Files, the episodes referred to, Mulder and Scully and all other characters from the show belong to Chris Carter, Ten Thirteen Productions and Fox Broadcasting, and are used without permission. No copyright infringement is intended, no profit will be gained. Characters not recognized from the show are either mine or Mac's.

 


Winter, January 2000

Mulder Townhouse
Old Town Alexandria

Dana lay in bed. It was a freezing Winter night, but she was in her own home and thankfully not in a cheap motel. She was warm and well covered, and her husband was close by in the bed. She looked at him tenderly in the light of the full moon. Normally on a night like this they would be spooned together, whether to sleep, to make love, or to just hold each other in contentment, but Fox had caught a cold while in Seattle on a solo consult. By the time he got back home, it had developed into bronchitis. Of course.

So the heavy breathing she was hearing now was NOT a turn on.

Damn the man anyway. She'd spent nine days, seven hours and forty-one minutes away from her husband and his wonderful ways with her body, and when he finally came back, any actual *coming* was out of the question for a little longer. Nine days of fantasies begging to be turned into reality had to wait.

At least the cold was gone, but he was now on meds for his lungs. And whining every time she brought him his next dose. He didn't like pills and all that coughing had made his chest very sore - probably pulled a muscle or two...

Dana knew he was out of sorts since he was very tired and achy so they couldn't make love and he couldn't play with Daniel. But he was getting better. Soon he would once again be carrying Daniel to bed on his shoulders or draped over his back like Superman's cape, their son laughing in delight. They'd better not read Daniel any more dog stories for a while though. Their two-year-old kept saying "Dog. Dog, Dog!" like a chant and it was abundantly clear he wanted one NOW.

In another year they could all go look at puppies, since they had decided that Daniel would be at the right age then to grow up with a dog and be best buddies through all his childhood years. Scully didn't know who was the most excited at the prospect of a dog - Fox or Fox cub. At the moment they had fish to fill in the gap. She was looking forward to having a dog too. It had been a long time since Queequeg was around. She really wanted a purebred.

Fox shifted restlessly, mumbling in his sleep. Dana reached over and soothed him, then quietly slipped out of their good old Ethan Allen bed and into her thickest dressing gown and slippers. She just wanted to check on Daniel and make sure he was warm enough.

Their son was sound asleep. And so adorable. Dana knelt by him for several minutes, drinking him in. Thanking God for the miracle conception that had completely stunned his mother and father.

A few days ago, she and Daniel had met one of Dana's old college friends in the supermarket. Meryl had her baby in a stroller, and Daniel was fascinated. At least it had stopped him repeating "Dog" over and over, and he had howled as they left, clearly upset that they weren't taking the baby home with them along with the groceries.

Dana smiled wistfully. I'm not being ungrateful, Lord, she thought. What I've been given is more than I ever dreamed. I'm so happy...

But she did reserve the right to feel a little melancholy occasionally. A tribe of kids...

Her son was still so young and unfolding in so many wondrous ways. Each day he captivated her, fulfilled her, expanded her mind in ways that no X-file could ever manage. But sometimes she ached that he was no longer a little baby in her arms, at her breast.

And sometimes she was so scared for him, of what the future held for him. Because she knew the full truth now. That the Consortium had been in league with the aliens. Actual aliens. She and Mulder and their enlarged X-Files division had managed to prevent all-out colonization by teaming up with the rebel aliens. What a shock to her system that had been... Though as Gibson Praise had once said, she did know there were aliens, she just wouldn't admit it yet.

She had hidden behind her fear for long enough, and the time for acceptance came.

Dana went to the window and stared out, up into the star-ridden sky. What was awesome and beautiful to others was too vast and full of danger to her. Now both alien factions were far out there somewhere, locked in war. Hopefully any space battles would not be picked up by astronomers. Even Fox agreed that for now it had to be kept from the populace to avoid a mass panic.

But which side was winning? There had been no word, no sign for months. The Earth was free of the Consortium and aliens, but for how long?

What would the repercussions be? Could they stop those dark plans completely? Was the colonization defeated or simply on hold?

There was hope of a new vaccine going into mass production. What Mulder had been injected with in Tunguska had expelled and killed the black worms, but had proven only to be a temporary measure. If he had been exposed to the oiliens again after coming back from Russia, he would have required another injection to defeat them. And so on.

This new vaccine was stronger and provided lifetime immunity from the black cancer. It was spread by contact and inhalation, and able to be sprayed from airplanes. She prayed that the rebels could buy them enough time to use it. Worldwide vaccinations could be enough to defeat any interest in taking over the planet - but the logistics of ensuring that every government and country participated and that every single person was vaccinated....

Dana took a deep breath. And I want more children? Having one child exposed to this risk is frightening enough... Damn it! I promised myself I wouldn't dwell on this! Fox and I have done all that we possibly can for now. We just have to wait...

She firmly put those fears to one side and tucked Daniel in more securely, noting the ear of his fox toy just visible above the blankets, held tightly to his chest. She couldn't help smiling at that. Mommy likes holding foxes too, my little cub.

Dana returned to her husband. He didn't wake. Sleep came quickly, despite the slight churning in her belly.


Dana sensed that it was still night time when she reawakened. She didn't open her eyes, just drifted, lovely and warm. Toasty, in fact. And as she listened, she realized her husband's breathing wasn't congested at all. Great, she thought, those meds have really kicked in. First thing in the morning, he's mine!

She grinned in anticipation and decided not to snuggle up next to Fox - if he was finally in a deep sleep she didn't want to risk disturbing him. Then she realized that there was a body very close to hers under the covers. A small body.

How did Daniel get in without me hearing? I must have been tired.

But something was...odd. Not WRONG exactly, however...

Daniel wasn't that big.

Her eyes flew open. They adjusted to the moonlight. She was too surprised to move as she stared at the sleeping face next to hers on the pillow.

She knew that face. It WAS her son's.

But he looked about seven years old...

What on earth? Dana, it's a dream. You're just dreaming. It's okay.

But this felt different to every other dream she'd had in her life - no, *almost* all. What about the handful of ones that had come true? Like Mulder returning from the dead, out of the ashes of the boxcar blaze. Those dreams had a quality about them... So did this.

And as Dana stared at her changed son, she became aware that she could hear other breathing too. Lots and lots of breathing...

She sat up, hands automatically pulling the blankets back down to cover her son, as the air was still chilly. She sat there, ignoring the coldness settling on her shoulders, and stared at the sight before her on the bed.

There was a hell of a lot to take in. Firstly, her eyes were drawn to her husband. He was lying on his stomach, facing her, eyes closed. Was it just an effect of the moonlight or were those one or two silver strands gleaming in his hair?

And his shape looked strange - very large. Well, as far as she could tell since he was covered in blankets. Had Fox Mulder succumbed to some serious middle-aged spread?

Dana gaped as she realized that it wasn't Fox-bulk at all - instead a little boy was lying atop the covers on the bottom half of the bed, between Daniel and Fox. Virtually on top of Fox in fact, using Mulder's lower back as a pillow. The child was covered with his own little pile of blankets and was clinging to his father's waist, sound asleep.

Dana's mind supplied the name: Brett James Mulder. Four years old.

She stared at him, the sweet little face, trying to comprehend.

Another baby? Could they be that lucky?

And just as her brain was wrapping itself around that concept, right beside Brett the patch of blankets stirred and a little head poked out. "Awake. I's awake!" a slightly younger boy piped up.

Oh my God! Dana thought dazedly. A four-year-old AND a three-year-old...

Dana watched this new addition in a daze of surprise and chagrin and delight. Dragging a threadbare rabbit along, the youngest crawled up to Mulder's head, not disturbing his brothers or even looking his mother's way. "Awake, Daddy."

"Mmmmm... I am now..." Fox mumbled.

Kieran David Mulder was nothing if not insistent, patting his father's cheek. "Awake."

Mulder kept his eyes closed. "No, you're not... You just think you are. Get back under the blankets and go back to sleep."

"Nup."

A sigh of defeat. Despite having Brett half on him, Mulder had just enough free space next to his torso to be able to lift the covers up enough for their youngest to scramble in. "C'mere, Squirt." But before Kier could move, Fox paused, suddenly more awake. "Speaking of which, do you need to go to the bathroom?"

"Nup."

"You sure?" Mulder opened his eyes and looked at his son. Dana found herself knowing that Kier had been easy to toilet train, copying his brothers, but a diaperless under-four-year-old in the big bed was still a risk. "Okay then," Fox decided.

Dana grinned. He'd only made that mistake once with Daniel. Once was enough. Before that her husband thought she was being overcautious in buying and installing a plastic underlay on their bed.

Kieran and his rabbit - Mr Buns - eagerly snuggled in between his father and Daniel. Mulder, still half-asleep, made sure he was covered properly and settled down himself. He started humming softly and tunelessly to the toddler, who joined in with a vigorous babble of 'la-la's. Mulder tried to hush him down a bit, but gave up. Her husband then looked up at her for a moment and winked, before his eyes closed again. A rush of love went through her.

After about thirty seconds, son number three zonked off to sleep.

Father followed twenty seconds later.

Mother, however, was WIDE awake.

Two more little boys... It was overwhelming.

She couldn't see hair or eye color at the moment since all colors were bleached by the moonlight, but she didn't have to, because she KNEW them. Their second son took after Fox and Daniel in hair, but while Daniel had blue eyes, Brett had hazel. Their third son, Kieran, had inherited her red hair and blue eyes.

She didn't notice the cold as images filled her mind. Daniel staring in wonder at her large abdomen; Fox holding newborn Brett and singing Elvis to him in front of the whole delivery staff; her walking the floor with a howling few-weeks-old Kieran, crossing paths with Fox every few seconds, who was comforting a howling eleven and a half-month-old Brett, and making bets about who could make theirs go quiet the fastest (Fox armed with a bottle while she had the unfair advantage of breasts); playing on a blanket on the floor with crawling Kieran and wobbly-on-his-feet Brett and a Daniel that was growing so quickly...; Daniel and Fox playing catch with a large ball, laughing the same laugh. The delightful chaos that was bedtime, with Daniel still draped across his father's back on the way to his room, but Mulder having an Irish twin tucked under each arm and his wife hovering a few yards behind, ready to fetch a back brace.

Seeing Brett sitting in a highchair at the dinner table while she tried to interest him in a new food. He spat it out. "Look, Daddy loves it," she said in desperation, and popped the spoon into her husband's mouth. Big mistake. What *was* she thinking? Mulder gallantly tried to make a 'yum' face under Brett and Daniel's keen scrutiny, but his face soured and he spat it out too (though at least into a napkin) and said, "What the hell - I mean heck - are you feeding my kids? Yuck!"

Kieran was a Scully in looks and name (though ironically they had chosen the Irish name for 'dark' when he was the lightest colored of her trio), and Mulder's shadow by nature. Dana saw a memory of waking up to find their youngest happily snuggled in bed with them at two years of age. Fox denied bringing him in.

"Oh God, he's climbing out of the crib already? I was hoping for a few more months of peace." But all that melted at the sight of his little sleeping face. Peace was relative after all.

When pregnant for the third time, Dana had originally wanted to call their youngest by a different spelling of his name: 'Ciaran'. She had liked the originality and strong Irishness of it, but Fox (in one of his rare logical moods) had pointed out that not many people would know how to pronounce the 'Ciaran' version, plus it would probably lead to teasing at school. That was true - she didn't want their child to go through the same hell that his father had, nor to end up insisting that he be known merely as 'Mulder' too. Mulder still had reservations about 'Kieran', but she and her hormones hung onto it, thinking it would be fine, and won. Time would tell.

She could even recall how Mr Buns the rabbit had received his name. Daniel had christened his brother's toy after overhearing his mother call his father that... Whoops. Little ears had a habit of hearing big things. But those jeans had been so scrumptiously snug...

Brett piping up at breakfast one day, "Mommy, I heard you call out to Daddy last night. Wasn't he with you?"

"Um..." Very satisfying images filled her mind. He certainly had been...

Dana was glad that Fox was in the bathroom at this moment. Who knew what he would tell them in explanation. She improvised quickly. "He went to get a glass of water and I wanted him to get me one too."

Daniel and Brett exchanged glances. "You must get thirsty a LOT."

Remembering brain-melting sex against the wall just inside a hotel room doorway on a night when Maggie was babysitting at their place... The little amused look that her mother threw her upon their return was enough for Dana to know that her mother was well aware they hadn't gone out to dinner, or at least not at any restaurant.

Dana coming home in the rain from the hardware store with items to continue renovating the battered gaming room, and entering the house to find her sons playing indoor hockey...with Daddy as goalie right near her beloved stained glass window. Just as well her arms were full and all the males involved scattered very fast in self-preservation upon seeing the look on her face.

The City replacing the old riverside benches with newer ones, so Fox and Dana appropriated 'their' bench and installed it in the back garden. It wasn't exactly as ornate as the ones available at the garden centre, but it was solid and dependable and had lasted - just like their partnership. There were too many memories ingrained in that bench for them to let their old meeting place end up as junk.


The memories ended, but she was still sitting in bed, in the future, with a seven-year-old Daniel snuggled beside her.

Now she watched Fox Mulder, her husband literally festooned with children. The instigator and impregnator of all this. The man was going to be strutting his stuff once she told him of his lucky strike rate in her real time zone. Then again, the insufferable edges would be surely knocked off very quickly with three little ones to chase after.

Good thing for you that I'm always horny when I'm pregnant, Mister, because it looks like I'm going to be pregnant a lot...


Had the kids all come in to sleep with them en masse or gotten scared or what? Scully had a sneaking suspicion that Brett had come in with them, then Kieran had awakened and started whining when he realized that his brother wasn't in the room. So Mulder brought Kieran in and this all in turn woke Daniel, who was probably feeling a bit too grown-up to join the mass bed-in, but was unable to resist.

Her future persona told her that this wasn't a nightly occurrence. That was a relief. It was wonderful, but not something for EVERY night.

Dana sat and watched all her boys breathe. She remembered a day when she herself was six years old, standing up to Charlie and Bill when they picked on her. Aunt Olive had witnessed this and nodded approvingly. "It takes a strong woman to handle boys." At the time young Dana just stared at her, thinking: What do you mean 'a woman'? I'm a girl and I fixed them! But she knew that Aunt Olive had five boys, so was probably a bit crazy in the head.

NOW she understood. There was a pang of regret that no little girl lay nestled in the bed, but it didn't really matter. She was blessed. Boys were great fun - they kept you laughing. Daniel times three - or perhaps Fox times three. She could handle that. And at least Kieran had the Scully coloring instead of being a miniature Mulder. But she wouldn't change any of them.

Brett made fretful noises, and before she could respond, she watched her semi-conscious husband as he reached back and down and stroked his son's head. Then as Fox's hand moved back undercover, it brushed against a bump that suddenly changed shape, purring and stretching contentedly. Fox made a grumbling noise and then his breathing evened out.

A cat. This was even more mind-bending than Irish twins...

Fox was NOT a cat person. Oh, he'd tolerate cats at other people's homes - especially in the early years of their partnership when he was trying to cozy up to attractive pet owners. But suddenly a vision popped into her head. Of a six-and-a-half-year-old Daniel finally being taken to see some puppies, now that his brothers were old enough for the family to have one as a pet. Brett and Kieran were being minded at home by Maggie.

But these people had cats too, and it was to some six-month-old cats that their eldest son was drawn. "Daniel, no, Danny, not..." Mulder started to protest. Daniel scooped two up, a white and a tabby, one in each little arm, hugging them in rapture.

The owner smiled. "They were from one of our litters and were given to a relative, but her circumstances changed unexpectedly and we took them back to look for a good home."

"What about the puppies, huh, Danny boy? Don't you want a puppy?"

Fox sounded desperate.

Their son was unmoved from his feline fixation.

Dana looked at her husband. Mulder just stared at Daniel. "One. He can have ONE," Fox conceded.

Dana smirked. "You tell him that."

It was the white cat that was now settling back down, still purring, practically blending into the light-colored quilt in the moonlight, which is why she had missed it earlier.

Then Scully saw the tabby cat perched on the end of the bed, over on her side near the wall, washing itself. She nearly fell off the bed in silent laughter.

It was hard to move her eyes away from her children and pets, but curiosity won out. She looked around the room and found that a few pieces of furniture were different or rearranged. The wallpaper had changed. But it was still the bedroom in their townhouse.

And now that she thought about it, this wasn't their bed. Well, not the bed that she had bought after losing everything in a fire at her Georgetown apartment. The loss of her apartment meant moving in with Mulder - just as friends at that stage - and she had then bought an Ethan Allen bedroom setting at a bargain price. This wasn't the Ethan Allen bed. Just as comfy though. Larger. And hopefully reinforced.

I guess we finally moved the Allen into another room. Perhaps as Daniel's bed?

The bedroom door was slightly ajar, and suddenly it was pushed further open. The move was quiet, but Dana saw it, and saw the dark figure enter. Her hand went to the side table, reaching for a gun she knew would not be there...

...it was a dog. A good old Heinz 57 - a little bit of everything.

"Flukie, get back downstairs!" Dana found herself whisper-hissing.

"You've got a nice warm basket!"

The ugly-looking but lovable mutt froze, front paws up on the bottom of the bed. The dog cocked his head and gave her a look as if to say, "Hey, everyone else is here - why not me?" and promptly jumped aboard. He turned around three times and plonked down near the tolerating tabby.

Luckily he was a small dog. Though there wasn't much room left once he'd made himself comfortable. Dana could barely stretch her feet out.

Memory came of Mulder returning home from somewhere with the children, and the mongrel was in tow. "He followed us," her husband said sheepishly in the kitchen while trying to prevent the ecstatic kids from giving cat food to the canine. The cats themselves arched in protest and fled the room. "I told them he wasn't ours and that we'd have to look for the owner." His voice lacked conviction of finding one, but he didn't seem too disappointed by that prospect.

Dana kept her voice low. "It can't stay even if we don't find the owners."

Her husband gave her that grin that usually made her want to knee him in the groin. "YOU tell them that."

So they ended up with a purebred mongrel that the cats gradually warmed to and she soon admitted was irreplaceable. "Like you, Fox Mulder, my ultimate stray, I eventually melted and succumbed to his charms."


Dana stared at the overrun bed, still too distracted to notice the cold. She should really get up and put everyone back in their respective places.

But this was too much fun. And Daniel would cease to be a bedbug soon enough. One by one they all would. Why ruin it? Revel!

A tribe. A menagerie. A Noah's Ark!

And with it came sure knowledge that the future wasn't so scary. Somewhere in the interim she, Mulder and their X-Files division had made a difference. Enough time had been bought. The rebel aliens had won, or brokered enough of a deal to keep the Earth safe. They had defeated the timetable. The details weren't as clear to her as what she knew about the children, but the certainty was strong.

Dana took one more look at her brood, caressing every face with her eyes, even the faces with fur. Then she lay down and pulled the blankets back up, caught between crying and laughing.


DAWN

Scully drifted back into awareness, hearing her husband's breathing close by. She listened. Still congested, but better than last night. Well, a night that had spanned years.

What had happened? The clarity was fading with every second.

There was an image in her mind of two dear little boys that she couldn't name, and something about grey hairs and cats...

She sat up quietly, keeping some blankets close around her in the cold. In the morning light the bed only contained herself and her husband, and it was the Ethan Allen bed. The room was the same as she was used to. Good old 2000. Whether her experience was a vision or a dream, it was good to be back.

But all the same, she felt hopeful for the future. And she wanted it. Very very much.

Dana looked at the bedside clock. Early, but she just wanted to peek in on Daniel. Making sure he's still two years old, Dana?

However, when she got out of bed and put on her robe and slippers, she felt...

Cue a sprint for the bathroom.

She threw up in the toilet and was kneeling there, trying to work out if more was to come or if she could flush, when her husband burst in.

"Dana, what's wrong? Are you okay?" Semi-awake, he was gasping hoarsely and leaned against the countertop, staring down at her.

She pulled her robe more tightly around herself and tied it securely. "I'm okay. Get back to bed - you'll freeze." He was only in an old t-shirt, socks and sweatpants.

As a concession, he pulled two fuzzy towels off the rack and draped them over his shoulders. He squatted down beside her. "I did give you the damn cold," he said mournfully. "I'm sorry."

She smiled. Her body told her that it wasn't going to be sick again, at least not in the next ten minutes, so she reached up and flushed the toilet. "This isn't a cold, Fox." Her smile grew wider, and she stood up, washing her hands and rinsing her mouth, then she gently pulled her puzzled and still-squatting husband to his feet. Dana reached over to stroke his cheek lovingly.

It was too much for her husband to put together. "You're remarkably happy for someone who's throwing up..."

"That's because our baby is announcing his presence." Dana could place this feeling now and knew it for what it was. Well, I always want evidence - and here it is!

He stared at her blankly. Then dazedly. She wondered if this was the best time to tell him. After all, he was half-asleep - though the meds had worn off by now - and here they both were standing on their bathroom mat in the early morning, but she couldn't resist. "First of the Irish twins," she found herself saying, then blinked in surprise.

She wasn't the only one. "Twins?" He stared at her lower torso, then up to her face again and sagged back against the counter. "As in 'you're pregnant - and there's TWO in there'? We're talking plural?" A silly and proud grin was spreading across his face.

"No, Fox," she found herself explaining over her own confusion, "Irish twins are babies born within a year of each other."

Unsuccessful in trying to shake off his sleepiness despite this news, Mulder frowned in thought. "But Daniel's TWO years old, so how..."

"No, we're about to have our second son." She knew that for certain, but there was a faint image of another child... "And I think we're going to have a third soon after him. I think... I'm not sure."

Mulder was still grinning with delight, but a little bemused too, peering at her to make sure she was actually fully awake. "How on earth can you know that? Are you sure you're just not coming down with something?" He went to feel her forehead.

"Remember how when we moved in here you had a feeling we'd need the guest bedroom as a room for another child one day? Well, you were right, Fox, but I'll see you that bet and may even raise you another."

"How do you know?" he repeated. "How long have you known? When did you go to the doctor?" The questions were coming, along with some coughs, even as he was grinning and hugging her.

"I think I had a premonition." That statement was much easier to make these days than in past years. "And morning sickness is a pretty good indicator too. Come back to bed and I'll tell you what I can remember."

She quickly went to check on Daniel. He was sound asleep and would probably remain so for a few more hours. She kissed his forehead. "You're going to have some company, little cub." Then she returned to her husband, and they snuggled back in bed. He held her from behind - being careful of his still-sore chest - and gently stroked her abdomen as she explained what she could.

Mulder's left hand ambled towards a breast. "So these will be kicking in soon." He sounded gleeful.

She lightly slapped his wandering hand. She didn't want him starting anything he was too sick to finish properly. "Cool it - remember, major tummy bulge will kick in too."

"So? Just made you look even more sexy last time." His lips trailed over her neck. "Desirable..."

"You're impossible!" Though Dana couldn't help exposing the length of her neck for him to keep exploring. And his words were true - he loved her body whether it was pregnant or not. "I don't know how far along I am. What with my periods being so haywire..."

That made him stop kissing her. Suddenly he laughed. "I know exactly how far along you are. Two months."

"Huh?"

"The couch, Dana. Remember the couch?"

"Ohmigod! You're right. It worked its magic again!"


Mulder was not referring to the same couch as Daniel's conception spot - Mulder's poor old leather bachelor couch had broken under the sheer strain (and most likely shock) of the first time Fox and Dana made love. So they had bought another couch. Huge, green, velvet, with double recliners, the works. It served them well through these last few years of domestic life, even enduring Daniel's sticky fingers and his parents' occasional bouts of mad, passionate lovemaking when their son was sound asleep upstairs.

Until two months ago, that is. Fox had to go to Rhode Island to help his mother with some legalities over selling her house. While there, the RI field office asked for his help with a case, and before they knew it, a three-day trip had stretched out indefinitely. Dana would have gone up to join him, but she had the X-Files division to oversee, agents to supervise, and Danny to look after. Then the weekend came and with it the arrival in D.C. of Bill Scully Jr, Tara and Matthew. They, Maggie, Dana and Daniel were all at the Mulder home, preparing to go on a trip to the zoo.

Then Fox arrived home, much to the delight of his wife and son. He was too tired to go with them to the zoo, but would stay at home and relax until they came back. Then Dana looked at him across the coffee table as the two excited youngsters were being put in their coats, and suddenly all she wanted to do was leap over the table and take her husband.

She told herself to cool it. It had only been a week.

It had been a WHOLE damn week.

And considering how often they usually did it, that length of time was intolerable - a denial of their basic human rights, and a situation that had to be rectified. Now.

Fox's gaze pinned hers and she could almost see his aura because he was crackling so much with matching desire. It obliterated his tiredness. Visual sex.

Maggie must have sensed the change in atmosphere, because she just looked at the two of them staring at each other and said, "You know what, Dana, why don't you stay home and catch up with Fox? We can handle these two."

Bill started to protest, but Maggie had them all out the door before he got the full sentence out. Dana and Fox kissed Daniel once he'd been strapped into the car. They had taken him to the zoo several other times anyway. So while he was visiting all his favorite sites at the zoo, his parents were busy on the couch visiting all their favorite sites on each other.

It seemed like no time at all before they heard the car pull up again. Cue a frantic scramble for clothes - the outer garments at least. Fox kicked the rest under the couch as Dana tried to pat her hair back into place.

Daniel raced into their arms, full of energy. The nearly three-year-old Matthew was similarly hyper.

"They'll drop soon," Tara said, stumbling into an armchair, a prayer in her voice as the kids bounded around the sitting room floor, imitating the monkeys. Maggie chuckled.

Bill gave Fox a 'you owe me BIG' look as he flopped down on the couch, too exhausted to make a verbal comment. But as his large frame landed, the couch made a horrible noise and suddenly the middle caved in, leaving Bill sitting three feet lower. And stuck.

"Oh no! Bill, are you all right? Oh, Dana, Fox, we're so sorry - we'll pay for it..." Tara said, leaping up.

There was the matter of freeing Billy boy as well as getting Matthew and Daniel away from the couch in case there were any broken springs. The accident had drawn them over like it was a magnet. Fox pulled the coffee table aside to get more room and reach for his son, but as he picked the boy up, he found to his consternation that Daniel was holding a satin bra.

"Hey - give me that!"

"No! Mommy's!" Daniel waved it like a flag. "Look, Mommy!"

"I'm looking..." Dana said faintly, though she was certainly NOT looking at anyone.

Not to be outdone in the treasure-hunting stakes, Matthew wiggled out of his mother's grasp and came up from next to the couch, holding a pair of cotton boxer shorts. Or actually one half of a pair since they had been ripped off Fox's body in rather a frenzy.

"Daddy's!" Daniel identified them proudly. He liked to help with the washing.

"Oh come on!" Bill bellowed from his prison on the couch. "It's only been a week. Couldn't you control yourselves? When I'm out at sea, we have to wait months!"

"A fact for which your wife is probably grateful!" Dana snapped at him.

What threatened to degenerate into a major fight was cut short because Maggie rushed into the kitchen and closed the door. Everyone stared after her, the adults appalled at what their poor sainted Catholic mother had just witnessed. How would they ever face her again?

But nothing could muffle her howls of laughter.


2000: Winter, January

Dana couldn't help but smile at the memories of having to prise a rather subdued Billy and his ass out of the couch. Threatening to leave him there had worked wonders. She and Mulder had bought a new couch, as close a match as they could find to the green velvet one, but they couldn't get the same color. That was fine with Dana, who was then free to redecorate the living room, seeing as she'd had to design the current one around the couch because it came with them from the apartment.

"The couch strikes again," Mulder said contentedly, looking forward to the new addition to the clan. He was now properly awake and relieved by her strong feelings that the future was going to be safe. "So, you think we score a hat-trick?"

She smiled and stretched. "I don't know what to think. My sanity may be in question. I guess time will tell."

"It always does. Geez, we're going to need another bathroom up here though. One for the boys to fight over, and one for us to use in peace." At a 'yeah right' noise, he amended, "Okay, for you and me to fight over. Perhaps we can convert the mini-study." That was a tiny sitting room off the main bedroom. "And we're going to lose the guest bedroom/study. God, should we move into another house or refit the basement or what? Is this place and backyard big enough?"

"We've got time to plan for it. Calm down."

Mulder then lapsed into a fit of coughing, causing Dana to turn around and hold him, stroking his back until it passed.

"Time for more meds."

"Noooo..." he groused and pouted, outdoing his own two-year-old.

Scully rolled her eyes as she got out of bed. She had a plan - one she knew she wouldn't be able to try on Daniel when he got sick. She soon came back out of the bathroom and stood over her husband with the pill bottle and a glass of water. "Fox, the fact is that soon my middle will take on the proportions of a small African nation. It may even do so again after that in quick succession. Then we are going to have more than just Danny to deal with. Time and privacy and the energy for grand-scale and frequent sexual shenanigans are fast running out. So I want you to be fit and well very, very soon so we can make the most of the time we have."

She grinned as Fox lunged for the pills. To the future, she thought in satisfaction as he drained the glass.


EPILOGUE

"Danny's asleep."

"Brett's finally asleep too. For now."

"Good. Now we can get some sleep."

"Or perhaps just get some."

"Why Mrs Mulder, are you propositioning me?"

"I'll certainly position you." Scully gave Mulder a light shove and he obediently fell backwards onto their bed. The bed was soon thudding at a merry pace against the wall.

When the thuds had ceased and the instigators were lying in each other's arms, the bed did one more thing. It collapsed in the middle.

Mulder and Scully found themselves half-sitting in the aftermath, somewhat squashed up, startled but unhurt. They were now positioned in the middle of the bed, which was resting its weary mattress and spent frame on the floor. The headboard and baseboard were listing in.

Husband and wife blinked.

Mulder was the first to speak. "Wow. Okay, when we break the bed instead of the couch, what do you think that means? Twins, a daughter, a real handful, or what..."

Scully thought hard, trying to capture an elusive subconscious image. "It may be the secret ingredient for getting the Scully coloring."

Sure enough, exactly nine months later, Fox was holding their third son in their private hospital room. He looked at the sleeping, red-haired baby, and said, "Well, your mother wants to call you Kieran David, but I think Ethan Allen Mulder would be much more fitting!"

The End

Title: 12. The Joys of Boys...
Authors: Ten
Category: V; MT; MSR; some angst; some H Rating: R for fairly non-descriptive, consensual adult situations

Summary: A household of three young boys is chaos enough, but add three cousins to the mix and then pull Scully out of the picture when work calls... Can Mulder survive?

Timespan/spoiler warning: This is set in Macspooky and my "Daniel/Couch" series. It can be read as a standalone

This series and universe diverted from the show after the events of "Emily" in the fifth season. Mulder and Scully have bred and wed, then bred some more. A few aspects of the following seasons are kept, but not many.

The usual sexual endurance disclaimer still applies here. Namely: The sexual endurance of this Mulder has been enhanced for the pleasure of Scully and the readers - and the writer. Don't expect this at home. We don't want to cause any unrealistic expectations re: males of around this age, but hey, it's nice to dream!

FEEDBACK: Always great to know who's out there in the ether!

Thanks to: Sally, Judie, Suzanne, Debbie, Mac, Gerry and Sheila. For plot, medical and child advice!

DEDICATED TO: Sally - see author's notes at end.
Disclaimer: The X-Files, the episodes referred to, Mulder and Scully and all other characters from the show belong to Chris Carter, the writers of the episodes, Ten Thirteen Productions and Fox Broadcasting, and are used without permission. No copyright infringement is intended, no profit will be gained. Characters not recognized from the show are mine or Mac's.

 


PROLOGUE

Late February 1999
Mulder apartment

Soft singing woke Mulder. He opened his eyes and saw his wife. She was holding their eight week-old son as she got up from the rocking chair that was perfectly situated between the bed and the cradle. Still singing, Dana kissed the now-sleeping Danny and tucked him in his cradle. Rearranging the front of her nightgown, she came back to the bed. "Ah, NOW you're awake."

"I missed the feed?" Mulder asked sleepily. "Must have been in my hour of dead sleep."

"You usually are when he needs changing." She slid back into bed, into her husband's arms. "But after the session we had a few hours ago, I might find it in my heart to forgive you."

"I'll get up next time, I swear." Mulder toyed with the buttons of her nightie, debating whether or not to undo them and instigate further fun or whether she was too tired. He tried to gauge her mood in the light of the lamp, which she had yet to turn off. "You seem amused."

"Just pondering men. How you can act just like babies."

He halted, his thumb on a button. "'You' as in me, or maledom in general? And how so? The breast fixation thing?"

"Take you for example." She poked his bare chest. "A prime example. The minute your needs are met, you zap off to sleep, just like your son."

"Different needs."

"Same result."

"Not ALL the time. And when I do, it's because *you* wear me out! And it's not like I deliberately crash. If you want to assign blame, it's all oxytocin's fault." She made a sound about as close as a lady could get to a snort of derision. Mulder pressed on. "You know that better than I do - you're the scientist! It's proven fact." Oxytocin was a hormone that bonded men and women, as well as mothers with babies. A hormone at its peak during orgasm, it ensured a good night's sleep. More so in men than women.

"You expect that to validate the male race?"

He tried a schmooze routine instead. "You're so sexy when you're scientific. Lovely when you're logical."

"Shut up and put that mouth to better use."

"Just show me where..."


January 2006

Mulder residence

Friday night

The music issuing from the stereo was almost loud enough to cover the cumulative cries of pleasure coming from the couch in the sitting room. Not from the couch itself, per se, but from one of the two people on it.

Since their three sons and the dog were staying overnight at Grandma Scully's, Fox and Dana were making the most of having the whole house to themselves. They were alone apart from the cats, who were staying out of the way, and the hamster, who was safely stored in Daniel's room.

And tonight was a trade off for Saturday night, when they would have not only their children and the dog back in the house, but Matthew Scully and two other cousins on the Scully side - grandchildren of Maggie's sister - Steven, nine and Ben, ten years old.

This onslaught was because Maggie, Tara and her daughter Lisa, and Maggie's niece Jodie and her daughters were all going to some huge sleepover that a local charity or church were having. A girl's thing. Mulder wasn't really sure of the details. The only points of importance to him had been that Friday was a free night in which he and his wife could get up to all sorts of funky mischief without little ears overhearing, and that Saturday night would be where payment was painfully extracted in stereo.

"Don't you want to go to the sleepover too, Dana?" he had asked.

"And leave you alone with six boys for that long? It would be interesting in a sadistic sort of way to see what would be left of you by the end of that period, but hardly fair. And besides, I like sleeping in my own bed..."

Oh, how Bill had crowed and bragged when Tara gave birth to Lisa, Maggie's first female grandchild, five years ago, not long before Dana and Fox's second son, Brett, was born. Lisa had arrived prematurely, but fortunately not so early that it had caused complications. It looked like Lisa was going to be Maggie's only granddaughter too, which just made Bill all the more impossible. "Another boy, Mulder?" was his derisive response both times when Mulder had phoned about the arrivals of his two youngest.

Upon hearing that response to Brett's birth, Mulder had replied, "Yes. Another wonderful boy. Any child your sister gives me is a miracle and a gift." That had shut him up.

Until son number three...

At the same response to Keiran's birth, Mulder tried a different tack. "Considering the odds, I'd say I'm doing a great job of knocking her up. We're aiming for a baseball team."

Cue stunned spluttering from the other end of the line.

And at the moment it was still Friday night and Mulder was drifting, safe in the knowledge that his house was not going to be invaded just yet and that he'd just scored.

So sated, so content, so sleepy...

WHACK!

So completely smacked upside the head.

"Ouch!" Mulder jerked back to reality: the couch. Naked him. Naked, flushed and impatient-looking wife. "What?"

"No falling asleep on the job!"

"But -"

"Don't go giving me the old 'oxytocin' excuse, Mulder!

You haven't done your duty!"

"I was trying to... I just..."

She glared at him. "Get with the program! You got to be happy. I got to 'teetering on the edge of happy'."

"I was trying... It was just so warm and comfortable... This is why it's easier to get you off before or during," he muttered defensively.

"Well excuse me for not orgasming to your timetable..."

"Can't I give you an IOU for first thing in the morning? Special treatment? So I can sleep now and give you my full attention then?" He was joking (especially since he valued his life), and as usual their banter - even as pillow talk - was stimulating him awake and holding the oxytocin at bay. For long enough, he hoped.

"Fox, in all the time you've wasted arguing you could have easily made me a very happy woman and then gone back to sleep."

"Well, we don't have the boys around - we have the run of the house. I'm not going to make you a very happy woman. I'm going to make you a positively *ecstatic* woman..."

The anticipatory gleam in her eye eclipsed the frustration as he moved in for the thrill.


Over the course of Saturday morning and most of the afternoon, Dana and Fox had revisited some of their favorite stomping grounds (or rather bonking and thrusting grounds). The stairs. The spot against the wall in the front entryway where many a kiss goodbye had turned into a lot more, back before the kids were mobile and roaming around the house. It had been agreed to leave the kitchen table and/or counter until the next time. A joint bath had rounded things off nicely.

"I should really do some cleaning up before everyone arrives," Scully said.

"Why? They're just going to undo all that fine work. And why waste time and energy doing that when we can waste both much more creatively? Besides, we have been dusting - we did a great job of polishing the couch cushions and buffing the stairs!"

"True. Very true..."

Then the invasion had come.

Mulder wondered if his boys were as noisy as these other three or if he was just so used to it that he didn't usually notice, or whether they were all being louder than usual because there were more voices to be heard over and outdo...

And these other three kids were pretty obnoxious. Was it because they were hyper about being out of parental care or were they usually this way or was it just an 'age/phase/boy thing'? The thought of Daniel possibly going through the same phase in the next few years made Mulder shudder. But at the moment Daniel was eight, Brett was five and Keiran four, and Mulder was in no hurry for them to grow up.

Though nine-year-old Matthew Scully was a dear boy most of the time - those times usually being when his father was out at sea and he was under his mother's full influence - however, when Bill was around, Matty started to take on the less likeable aspects of his personality. Tara would try to enforce the rules, but Bill would ignore them in an: 'I'm home on leave and what I say goes, lighten up will you' way. Which did not improve matters.

Bill had shipped out a week ago, and Matty was still in residual bossy-boy mode, ordering all of his cousins around, even Ben, who was a-year-older than him. Matty was being generally arrogant and opinionated and 'the assigned leader' in games, so Mulder or Scully made sure they were around to keep things fair.

One night and Sunday morning, then back to the status quo, Mulder told himself.

On Saturday night, they set up mattresses, blankets, pillows and sleeping bags on the floor in the basement game room for a mass sleepover - for the older boys anyway. Daniel and his cousins stayed up late, watching videos and talking and playing games. Mulder and Scully went to check on them frequently and had to referee food fights, pillow fights, claims of cheating and bossing, and also settle issues such as what video to watch next, what game to play next, whose turn it was on the playstation, who was going to sleep next to whom...

In between keeping an eye on the boys in the game room, Mulder and Scully were with Brett and Keir in the sitting room, where the youngest two had their own 'special' setup to watch videos and play games without being kicked off or ignored or accused of being babies by their cousins. (Or never getting much of a go at the game because the older boys didn't 'die' as often.) And Brett and Keir could also flake out on the sofa bed at their own internal setting of 'late' instead of being frequently awakened by the older boys still busy doing their own thing. Hopefully that would mean a less cranky kid quotient in the morning. The boys tended to take after Mulder's sleeping habits anyway and therefore could probably lose some sleep tonight without too bad an effect.

The youngest could join with the game room crowd when they wanted, but Brett and Keir had quickly tired of Matthew and Co. ("Matty called me a baby and I'm not a baby." "Matty's too bossy and I hate him.")


Sunday morning

Mulder lay dozing, lying with his wife in a loose spoon, his arm draped over her.

He wasn't in a sexually-sated blissful stupor - they hadn't dared get up to anything with all the kids in the house, even with them sleeping downstairs. Plus there wasn't any time with all the checking and to-ing and fro-ing and the accompanying exhaustion. But going without didn't matter too much for now. He was warm and loved and with his wife, and drifting in the peace and contentment that only comes when it is a weekend morning and the air will not be disturbed by an alarm clock.

thUD! thUMP! SLAM!

Of course, who needed an alarm clock with six boys in the house? And by the sound of things, they were all up and out of the game room and sitting room. In the kitchen... Which was right below the main bedroom.

He could only see the back of his wife's head, but he could hear her eyes snap open.

The fridge door was slammed shut.

"No, we can't. We're not allowed to -" Daniel.

Sound of the blender being turned on - Matthew, he bet - and just as quickly turned off - Danny, he bet.

"We can make cereal. I pour the milk for Keir, and I'm allowed to do the toaster when Mom or Dad's around and -" Daniel said.

Fox could hear Matthew's sneer. "I'm a-year-older that you! Here, pour the cereal then and shut up. Catch!"

Mulder had a vivid image of Matthew throwing the cereal - not the box itself, but the contents of it, in Danny's direction.

Sure enough, he then heard his son say, "We don't pour it on the floor!"

"Stop whining, you wimp. Your dog'll vacuum it!"

Mulder could feel his wife's skin bristle at the affront to her baby and her home.

Surely she'd get up?

She elbowed him instead.

Oh no. Not me.

He feigned his infamous dead sleep. If she was so worried about the house being trashed, she could go do her 'Warrior Woman' thing.

"I want those!"

"I'm thirsty!"

"Keir, don't eat those cornflakes!"

"No one's stepped in 'em! Fluke didn't lick these!" Keir stridently asserted before his next sentence was obscured by a mouthful.

Scully's hand squeezed Mulder's thigh. Hard.

From downstairs came a yell of: "Don't put jelly on the cat!"

Scully applied even fiercer pressure. Mulder considered his options. Well, it didn't sound like the kid was actually *setting fire* to the furball... Yet.

But...

Damn. Damn. Damn.

He did the maneuver only a martyr could manage, namely that of falling on his sword while rolling out of bed. But he was going to salvage *something* from this situation, dammit. "You'd better be naked when I get back..."

"Done."


Mulder sorted out the fracas - as much as humanly possible anyway. And it would take a few hours of coaxing to get Underfoot the cat to come out from his hidey hole so he could be bathed. The other cat, Come Here, had also made tracks. They would resume living up to their names once the trauma had worn off. Mulder was glad that UFO the hamster (aka Unidentified Furry Object) was safely shut away in his hutch upstairs.

He whipped up a heap of pancakes to keep the boys going while they watched TV and used the Nintendo in the game room. The dog was happy to forgo a walk for the moment, knowing that he was going to get plenty of morsels from the boys if he stuck with them. Mulder just hoped that whatever cornflakes Fluke had devoured off the floor before parental intervention wouldn't be puked up at any stage.

Wife was not amused when he returned to the bedroom. "Why didn't you keep them contained in the kitchen until they ate? Now there'll be crumbs and sticky fingerprints everywhere."

"Like there aren't usually with our little angels?

Besides, nuclear blast doors couldn't contain that lot.

There would have been just as much mess in the kitchen. Actually, there is to a degree. The game room needs scraping and industrial sandblasting soon anyway. Let them have a bit of fun now - they can help clean it up later on. Plus the trade off is worth it so you and I have a bit longer to lie in. I'll go down and check them again soon."

Scully thought for a moment, then nodded. "Are Brett and Keir okay in with the others?"

"I got them alone and asked. While there's food to be had, I think they'll stick with them. K and B have got the sitting room for themselves whenever they want it. That was a good idea - they didn't fall asleep too late last night and they're not really cranky this morning. For the short time it's going to take them to remember how annoying their cousins are, they'll want to mix with the big boys... Can't blame them - they don't want to seem like 'babies'."

Scully nodded as he continued speaking, "Though why they'd want to mix with Monster Mode Matt... Poor kid - Tara gets him straightened out back to normal and he's fine, then Bill comes back, lords around, and undoes all her work." Mulder shook his head. "Anyway, K and B know their options if they change their minds or get left out."

He looked at Dana, who had the sheets and blankets demurely up to her chin. "I seem to recall issuing an edict of bare flesh, wife."

A creamy, naked shoulder appeared, then disappeared in a

tantalizing shrug. She said, "Perhaps you'd better -"

"Come and find out?"

The door burst fully open and, with two bounds, Brett landed on the bed. "Morning, Mommy! I brought you breakfast!" He proudly offered a slightly worse-for-wear cookie and started chatting.

Mulder realized too late that Scully had been about to say 'shut and lock the door'. He'd left it partly open - a house rule was no barging in if a door was closed... Whoops. Oh well, perhaps this was for the best. Now nothing would distract him from 'sentry duty'.

So near, yet so far, he thought, just as Keir appeared, his legs not quite able to keep up with his brother, bearing his own 'breakfast in bed' contribution: a handful of cornflakes.


After the boys had finished their chores, like feeding the hamster and cleaning up the kitchen under supervision, Mulder spent time with them in the game room, watching cartoons and playing some games. Keiran and Brett stayed because he was there - after a spell in their parents' bed, happily talking and sleeping. The phone rang when Mulder was in the middle of showing off a really cool trick on one of the games, where the player could use a shortcut key to instantly upgrade his legion of Roman soldiers to spacemen with ray guns.

Soon after, Scully entered the game room. She spoke over the buzz of the boys. "Work called. They want me in to do an emergency autopsy."

That got everyone's attention. "You have to go cut up a body?" Matthew asked. "Cool! Can we come watch?"

Scully ignored that and continued speaking to her husband, "Skinner really wants me to do it - straightforward enough from what he's told me, but he wants an 'unimpeachable' report. There are times when having such a good rep is a pain. But it should only take a few hours."

"So we CAN come?" Ben was nearly beside himself with glee.

Matthew was right beside him. "Oh wow - what did he die of?"

"Might be a she," Steven said.

Mulder gave Dana a 'you deserter, this is deliberate' look, but smiled. "Sure. I'll take the guys to the park. Wear them out." He had planned to do that anyway this morning because fortunately the Winter weather was fairly mild at the moment. "And give Fluke his walk." The dog looked around and thudded his tail enthusiastically. Mulder clapped his hands. "Okay, everyone - coats, socks, shoes. And I think the football is around here somewhere..."

"Can't we go and just *see* the body?" Matthew whined.

"If you behave at the park, Aunt Dana might tell you about it when she gets back. Or about some really gory stuff she's seen over the years..."

"That's bribery."

"Live with it."

Matt got one of his Big Bill wise ass expressions and announced to his cousins, "I wanna see the intestines. Sausages and hotdogs are really ground up stuff stuck into intestines. My Dad says so."

"Like tennis racket strings being made out of cat guts," Ben said, not wanting to be out-grossed.

"And horses being made into glue!" was Steven's contribution.

Mulder checked out his son's reactions. Daniel was giving his cousins a 'yeah, right' look. Brett looked both curious and a little green. By Keir's look, a family barbeque would be out for the time being, more out of horror of the wherefores rather than it producing an upset stomach - Keir very rarely tossed his cookies. Damage control time though, he thought, heading towards his youngest.

As Scully was getting ready to leave, Mulder was busy alternating between putting socks on Keir and congratulating Brett on his determined effort at tying his sneaker laces.

He piggybacked Keir around the room, searching for a pair of the boy's shoes, doing his best pirate imitation. "Ahoy! Over there!" Keir yelled in his ear from the 'crows nest', pointing behind the armchair.

"Nah, matey, that's one of Brett's, not yours. Might be yours next year though, when it's a hand me down."

His wife eyed the six boys and then turned to her husband and said, "I'll drop into the church and pray for you."

"Hey, I'm doing fine so far. Look -" He waggled his son's stocking feet. "Keir's actually in matching socks!"

She smiled and Keiran laughed at the tickling of his toes, tugging at his father's hair. "Yeah, but are they fresh ones?" Dana asked.

"Don't mess up a miracle with details..." Mulder said. "And don't dawdle too long over the body. Think of me with all these bodies..." He kissed her, and heard 'ewwwww' noises in the background from Matthew and Ben.


After Scully had left, Mulder was on the way out the back door with his entourage when the phone rang again. It was Tara, announcing that she and Jodie and Maggie and the girls would be back earlier than expected. They were cleaning up the church hall at the moment. She said that Jodie hoped Ben and Steven were behaving...

When Tara gave her estimated time of arrival, Mulder glanced at his watch. "That works out well. I've still got time to take the boys to the park. They're all hyped up for it now. If we're not back when you arrive, that's where we'll be. We won't be too far away though." Especially not when I can offload three problem children earlier than expected, Mulder thought. And if I wear them all out, I'll be surrounded by grateful women!

Since it was a weekend morning and good weather for the moment, with no frost or snow, the park had a good turnout of people.

The older boys and the dog played with the football. Brett hesitated, not wanting to miss out on their action (and probably not wanting to be thought of as a baby either), but the lure of the playground won out. So Mulder was kept busy with Brett and Keir as they slid, swung and scrambled over their kingdom. He kept his eye on the other boys and gave the occasional yell to ensure fair play. So, his throat got exercised, while his ears were assailed by: "Watch me Daddy/Catch me Daddy/Look at what I can do Daddy". His diplomacy and negotiation skills got a workout in trying to halt some tantrums in the bud when his sons' favorite items of play equipment were already being commandeered by other children.

He loved playtime, but this was very large scale. Yes - the Scully women owed him big time. And he already knew how he was going to collect off one of them...

Eventually Mulder played catch with Brett and Keir near the footballers while also throwing a tennis ball for Flukie to fetch.

He looked at his watch then called out, "A few more minutes, guys, then we head for home."

A collective: "Awwww!"

"The girls are due back. And there's a mess to fix up in the basement, remember?"

Since he was sans-Dana, some of the mothers had been more flirtatious than usual at the playground. Mulder chuckled, thinking back to another weekend a few years ago. He and Dana and the boys had returned from an outing to the park. The two youngest went down easily for their naps, exhausted, and Daniel went with the neighbors to play next door. Mulder turned to his wife. "The sunshine must have agreed with you, babe. You're glowing."

"Happiness. Pride. I heard something today that I think you might like..."

Dana recounted how she had taken Keir to the park's public restrooms and upon coming back they were approaching the play area when she overheard two other mothers talking up ahead on a bench, their backs to her.

"Who's that guy over at the swings? The one filling out those jeans so well..."

"Forget it. He's taken. He's *very* taken. You can join the rest of us who look but don't touch. Most of the time he and his wife are like newlyweds. Devoted to each other."

"Oh, damn." The woman sounded disappointed, then rallied. "He must be good in bed then. Still, with the divorce rate as it is, I've got some room for hope he'll become available! Is that his kid he's swinging? Looks like he's a devoted father too. I wish my ex was."

"Yes, that's his middle one. He just waved to his eldest son on the slide. Three sons."

"Oh." The woman appeared to be giving up on her fantasy. "I don't know if I could handle being stepmother to that many boys."

"They have their moments, but they're not demon incarnates. Sweet little ones."

Dana had finished recounting the discussion. And she started rubbing a hand over Mulder's jeans. One place in particular. "I agree with what they said, and I think you should be rewarded for your devotion."

"I won't say no." He reached for her zipper, but she blocked him.

"Uh uh. This is for you. Let my fingers do the walking.

And my mouth..."


"Dad! Can you get that?"

Mulder paused, his mind still dwelling in the memories, his body about to toss a baseball to Brett. The football was careering past on his right - someone's wild kick or throw. He turned in pursuit.

And then everything happened at once.

Later on, he couldn't quite reconstruct the order of events. He remembered his ankle turning and, as he was trying to right it, Flukie was suddenly right there, streaking up with the tennis ball between his teeth from his latest retrieval. Mulder recalled thinking how the dog's tongue was hanging out the side because the ball was taking up the rest of the room in his mouth. He tried to leap or dodge or something, but either the dog ploughed into him or he avoided the dog but came down awkwardly, or perhaps he tripped over the dog's tongue...

One thing he was sure of was PAIN.

Mulder lay on the ground on his side, gasping and writhing. His left ankle hurt like hell.

"Dad? Dad!" Worried.

"Daddy!" Frantic.

It's just my ankle. It's NOT broken. I won't let it be broken. I'm fine. I have to get up. I'm scaring the kids.

"I'm okay..." He pushed himself onto all fours, then over into a sitting position. "Yowtch!" By now all the kids were there, ringing him like wagons preparing to defend against an attack. The dog was there too, unhurt and sensing his discomfort. Fluke would have been trying to lick him, but was still clamping the tennis ball for dear life. Daniel pulled the dog back a bit.

"I'm okay. I just rolled my ankle..." Mulder said.

But he could tell he wasn't fooling them. He was breathing shallowly and couldn't stop, and he had to keep clenching his eyes shut to ride out the waves of rather intense agony.

The boys were all crowding around him. Natural curiosity about injuries and accidents. Also, sometimes when playing with the boys, Dana would turn medical scenarios into games - serious 'what if' training, but still fun

"Okay, we're going to pretend that Daddy has just broken his arm here in the sitting room. What do you think we should do - Mulder, stop overacting. You're scaring Keir."

"Am not!" Keir and Mulder declared at the same time. And with the same expression.

"I've had a broken arm before, babe. You haven't. So don't knock my performance."

Dana folded her arms. "How about we pretend that Daddy has passed out on the floor instead, and is unconscious, *unable to speak*."

"Fine. I'm not dedicating my Oscar to you then!" Mulder declared, before 'swooning' as directed.

A few times the boys had gotten overenthusiastic with their bandaging jobs and nearly turned their father into an Egyptian mummy. Like the time last year when Mulder was napping on the recliner with his feet up, went into his 'dead sleep', and woke up immobilized - they'd wrapped bandages right around the reclining part of the chair, not just his legs. His kids were nothing if not thorough.

"Thanks for stopping them, dear," he said sarcastically to his wife, when he thought she had stopped laughing hard enough to actually hear him.

Dana wiped tears from her eyes. "I just couldn't make myself stop them - I *had* to see the look on your face when you woke up! Besides, they said the recliny-bit was like a splint for your 'broken legs', so who was I to argue with such logic?"

Not to mention the time they decided to turn 'vets' instead and started wrapping Flukie up before Mulder realized what they were doing. Good thing it hadn't been the hamster.

So, Mulder's ankle injury here in the park was just an extension of the scenarios to his boys.

"Dad, do you have your phone?" Danny asked.

Mulder shook his head no. Daniel began looking around for help and a relieved expression came over his face.

Mulder knew what - or who - was coming. As if it wasn't embarrassing enough to have taken a header, he had also taken it in a public place. More than just his boys and their cousins were in the vicinity. Several women from the 'swing brigade' hurried over, clutching hastily scooped-up children. "Fox, are you all right?"

One in particular looked like she wanted to give him pretty thorough attention...

"I'm fine. I just need a few minutes." Downplay the pain. He felt like clenching his eyes shut again, but forced them to remain open and did a quick headcount of his charges, just to make sure all were present and accounted for, especially Brett and Keir. To his relief, they were.

One mother had whipped out her cell phone, finger about to hit the speed dial. "No, no ambulance," Mulder said.

"Then what about your wife? At least let me drive you to the ER."

"We gotta get Dad home and bandage him up!" Brett declared.

"It's just his ankle," Matthew said, rolling his eyes.

Ben and Steven made accompanying jeering noises.

Mulder forced a smile and explained to the woman, "I'll call Dana when I get home. Relatives are going to be on the doorstep at any minute and one of them can drive me if need be." Thank God the arrival of Tara and Co. was imminent. Babysitting six boys was stressful enough when the sitter was healthy. With his ankle sprained, Mulder knew he couldn't properly supervise or keep up with that many kids.

"Danny, put Fluke on his leash please. Matthew, can you and Ben gather up the balls?" Too bad they hadn't brought the baseball bat along - could have been a stand-in cane. "In a few minutes I think we'd better head for home. Then we can have some ice cream." Bribery couldn't hurt. Damn, his voice was husky.

"Your dad's a wimp," he heard Matthew say to Brett. "MY

dad wouldn't -"

Mulder couldn't overhear the rest as one of the mothers scrutinized him carefully and said, "Perhaps you'd better stay put. You look very pale."

"Just a little sprain. I've had them before." That was true - the initial pain was usually intense and this was no exception. It was shaking him up and he could feel sweat forming. Hopefully his tennis shoe had limited the sprain.

Once everything had been gathered, Mulder got to his feet, the most eager of the swing brigade lending a helping hand...which ended up straying - quite accidentally - to his behind and staying there to 'steady' him as he kept the weight off his injured ankle.

"Thanks. Okay, guys, let's go home."

"Lean on me, Dad. Ben, can you take Flukie?" Danny held the leash out to his cousin. "So he doesn't tangle Dad up?"

Ben muttered about dumb dogs, but did as requested. He and Steven started talking together about how they weren't looking forward to having their sisters back and what silly things girls did. Matthew joined in.

"Dad, are you okay?" Brett asked.

Mulder ruffled his son's hair. "It's fine. I've had lots worse."

His ankle was throbbing. It had started swelling immediately. The injury hurt, but he was able to walk on it with support from some of the boys, leaning on them. He started to head for home, going very slowly to keep the limp down to a minimum. It was not keeping the pain down though.

Groper-woman was still present. "I can help you back to your place. It's just over there, isn't it?"

I'm sure my wife will be thrilled to catch you tucking me into bed...

"Thanks for the offer, but I'm fine. Um, I think your daughter wants to go to the bathroom..." Mulder pointed at a girl several yards away who was pulling her little pants down. The mother hastily disappeared from his side.

Mulder had to stop a couple of times to catch his breath and heard whispers about 'wimp' and 'wuss' from the brat pack. By the time they reached the house, Mulder was more than ready to keep his weight off the ankle. He used furniture within reach to help propel himself, and, once he reached the sitting room, he hopped to the couch and sank down gratefully.

Matthew went to the picture window and looked out. "No sign of Mom yet. Or anyone."

"So we're still stuck here," Steven muttered. "Though at least we're still a boy zone! No girls!"

Damn, Mulder thought. Tara couldn't be far off though.

Daniel was eyeing him carefully. "Dad..."

"It's okay. Your aunts and Grandma will be here very soon. I just need to sit for a while."

Actually, his ankle was throbbing relentlessly now, and the pain had started to radiate up his calf. Now that he was no longer walking, he hoped the pain would die down to a dull roar. Quickly.

One thing that was both touching and amusing was how Daniel was taking on Scully's role. The concern and care. He was the one who insisted that his father lean on him for support on the way home from the park. Who had insisted - even before Mulder could say so - that Matthew keep Brett and Keir with him as they crossed the road. Matthew had grumbled about babies, but did as told. Now Daniel was looking at his father in that scrutinizing, judging way that was classic Doctor Dana Scully, trying to figure out just how much front Mulder was putting up.

It was bizarre. An eight-year-old physical replica of himself, but with Scully's blue eyes... And a mixture of their personalities.

Matthew was heading out the door into the entranceway.

"Matthew, where are you going?"

Bill's son stuck his head back in. "I need permission to

go to the bathroom in this place? No wonder my dad says

that -"

Mulder waved him out, but decided to keep an eye on the time. No telling what that kid would get up to while Uncle Mulder was incapacitated. All of the boys had gone to the little boys' room while in the park, so Fox did wonder if Matthew genuinely had to go again or was up to no good.

Ben and Steven were on the move too. At Mulder's look, Ben said, "We're gonna go play on the computer until Mom gets back."

"You can use the playstation in here." So I can keep an eye on you all, within reach... The only other absent child was Brett, whom he knew was in the kitchen. Actually, they were probably all thirsty too... "Ben, Steven, you can go get sodas out of the fridge. One for everyone, and bring them back in here please."

"I'll do it," Steven said and exited.

Mulder started unlacing his left tennis shoe, and was about to ask Daniel to get him some ice, when Brett raced in with something in his hands. "I found some! I'll put it on his ankle!"

"You found some ice? Good boy. That's what I need." But when Mulder reached out, he found himself being handed a packet of...rice.

"What's that for?" Danny asked his brother, bewildered.

"That's what you said. I heard you. You didn't say ice, you said we had to rice! I've heard Mommy say that too!"

"No, I meant as in an aberration."

"Abbreviation," Mulder corrected. "RICE, standing for Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation." He then realized that was actually an acronym, but Mulder was not up to delivering a lecture on the finer points of the English language.

"Oh, right!" Scully's scenarios were coming back to Brett now. To the Mulder boys it was almost the equivalent of the 'ABC' song.

"Put that back in the pantry and check the fridge," Daniel ordered, though not in a Bossy Bill way. "Just be careful when you stand on the chair."

"I wanna help," Keir said.

"Then you can get me those blue cushions over there. So I can prop my foot up," Mulder suggested. Something safe and easy enough.

"After we've iced and comp-compressed it," Daniel said, managing to get his tongue around the word.

"Sure thing."

"We have to crush it?" Ben asked, looking up with interest from the playstation controls. "The ice or the foot?"

While Daniel tried to explain, Mulder noticed the dog slinking out of the room, looking guilty. He checked his watch. Where was Tara? "If Aunt Tara's not here by the time I fix up my ankle, I'll call her and find out where she is, and then I'll phone your mom," he told the hovering Daniel. "Can you get the first aid kit, please?"

Daniel nodded and went to fetch it.

A nightmare vision came to Mulder of none of the Scully women showing up by lunchtime, leaving him to hobble around the kitchen trying to fix something... He *could* take them to the nearest drive through window, he supposed. Thankfully the van was an automatic and not a manual, so he wouldn't have to use his bad leg...

Matthew wandered back into the room with Steven and the sodas as Mulder was slowly easing his shoe off, trying not to whimper. Fox needed the returned Daniel's help to get the shoe completely off. The process made him see serious stars.

Danny said, "I think I better phone Mom."

"In a few minutes... Once I've had a look at it and once I know what's happening with Tara and Grandma. Otherwise she'll rush home for nothing."

Recovering a little, Mulder decided to remove the sock.

The boys crowded around.

"Whoa!" Matthew pulled a face a gargoyle could have borrowed.

"Yeah. Wow, that is huge!" Ben said.

"I was talking about the smell!" Matthew made a pantomime performance out of holding the sock up like it was toxic waste.

Jerk.

"Don't forget this!" Steven dangled one of the tennis shoes.

Mulder's plan was to lie down and try to wait out the pain. He used one of the Ace bandages from the kit and propped his foot on the cushions with the ice on it. He involuntarily let out some groans while doing so.

"Dad, are you sure you're okay?" Daniel asked.

"It's just my ankle, son, not my head. But I'll make those calls now." He could see Matthew whispering to Ben and Steven, no doubt plotting up some mischief. Then a thought occurred to him. "Hey, someone check the answering machine on the hall table. Tara might have left a message."

"The light's flashing!" Brett said.

Too bad the boys hadn't seen it earlier, but Mulder conceded his injury had kept them on the go and distracted. "What is it? Can you turn it up loud?"

It was quite a message: another car had run into Tara's parked car while the girls were fortunately still in the church hall. Aunt Jodie was taking the girls back to Grandma's and looking after them while Maggie and Tara dealt with the insurance people and forms and so on. So, they weren't coming back any time soon.

"We'll fix him - Dad and me!" Matthew declared about the driver who caused the damage. He went on to his cousins about the horrible tortures he would inflict, and Ben and Steven started adding their suggestions.

Danny gave his father the phone. Mulder sat up a little to make the call to Dana. He started to dial, wincing.

Matthew saw this and snorted. "Your dad's such a wuss. My

dad says -"

Daniel exploded with worry-fuelled anger. "I don't care what your damn dad says! I'm sick of hearing about him. And I'm sick of YOU!"

Next thing Mulder knew, Danny and Matthew were on the floor, wrestling. "Stop it!" he yelled, the task of completing his call now the last thing on his mind.

The boys rolled. Right towards the coffee table, their heads unknowingly aligned with one of the heavy wooden legs.

Still yelling, Mulder leapt up in one movement, putting himself between them and the danger. In that one movement, he also put weight on his ankle...

Several things happened at once. His foot sent a bolt of agony to his brain. He yelled - the queen of all swear words, actually, not that he realized it at the time. His brain tried to alleviate the pain by having him quickly take the weight off. He lost balance. The floor rushed towards his face. CLUNK! The edge of the coffee table gave his head a love tap on the way down.

"Fu-Far out..." Mulder censored his summing up of the situation as he lay in an even-more injured heap. At least he had blocked the boys from crashing into the coffee table - and stopped the fight - but of course Lady Luck had seen fit to make him lose his balance in the wrong direction. Instead of tumbling onto the relative safety of the carpet, he just HAD to fall towards the coffee table.

Then again, if he had gone the other way, he might have squished Daniel and Matthew. Both were only a few feet away from him, now scrambling up, looking at him in alarm.

Mulder put a hand to his head and came away with blood.

Great. Now he was bleeding profusely at the top end and in agony at BOth ends. Pity they didn't have a canceling effect on each other.


FBI Building

Pathology Department

Scully wondered how Mulder was coping.

With boys, some chaos was unavoidable. But like the lady in the park had said, her boys were not demon-incarnates. They were mature for their ages, but they weren't child prodigies. They were intelligent, and had parents who spent a lot of time with them and talked to them, not down to them. So they were simply more mature and thoughtful than normal.

Still. Boys would be boys...

For one example out of many, there was the time the boys had been in the sitting room. When she looked in on them, Danny was watching TV, Brett was playing with his train set on the floor, and Keir was napping. She went back into the kitchen, and two minutes later the sounds of a riot burst forth.

Dana had raced back to the sitting room door and halted. Chaos. The TV was up at maximum volume, train carriages and tracks were scattered everywhere, the remote control was burbling its way sadly to the bottom of the fishtank, the dog was running around in circles, barking, all three boys were yelling at each other...

Dana opened her mouth and took a deep breath, as her voicebox worked itself up, like a pitcher on the mound, ready to deliver a yell that would even make the TV go quiet. Suddenly her husband appeared behind her. Right behind her. Mulder's arms encircled her, his body pressing up against hers and his nose nuzzled her ear. "Barren my ass!" he intoned.

Pride, love, amusement and amazement were in his voice.

The anger drained out of her and she started to laugh. She tilted her head and purred right back at him, "I don't think your ass was the culprit, but it did aid somewhat in the delivery."

She remembered holding Daniel a few minutes after his birth and whispering to Mulder through her tears, "We're parents..."

They certainly were. Dana looked at her brood and the worse-for-wear sitting room. "Who'd a thunk?" Sometimes in the midst of the chaos it was good to remember just how lucky they were to have it.

Still... They couldn't let the kids run completely riot, miracles or not.

Mulder apparently agreed with her, saying authoratively over her shoulder, "Danny, turn the TV down - off, in fact. Brett, get the remote out of the tank before the battery acid gets to the fish."

Three boys.

Her and Fox's passion had been - and still was - so great that they had managed to conceive in the rare times that an egg had been released. Or at least a viable egg. And when Keiran had been born, they both knew that there would be no more. A strong feeling, just like in the vision of the future Dana had experienced six years ago in her dreams. Keir was their last baby.

Dana pulled her thoughts back to the autopsy. Not long to go...


"Dad!"

"Daddy! Daddy's broken!"

"Uncle Mulder?"

"Wow, look at all that blood!"

"I'm telling my father he swore! He REALLY swore!"

"I'm okay..." Mulder tried to collect his scattered thoughts. I can't have a concussion. I won't let myself have a concussion - I've got six boys to look after!

Voices.

"I'll get more ice."

"No - we need something to stop the bleeding... I know!

Brett, go to -"

Mulder missed the rest of the sentence. He was certainly

bleeding. He was glad that the area rug in the sitting

room consisted of dark colors. He instinctively tried to

cover his head, in a vague attempt to shield the cut and

blood from the youngsters' views - blood either

fascinated or freaked out one of his boys, but he

couldn't remember which, or if it depended on their mood

but someone stopped him.

"Dad, can you hear me?"

"Yep..."

"Do you know who I am?"

"I know my own boys! Miracle son number one."

"And how many fingers am I holding up."

For a moment Mulder couldn't tell, then his vision cleared. "Four..." He made himself look at Daniel and Matthew. It didn't seem like they'd hurt each other in their wrestling bout.

Daniel nodded at Mulder's finger-count. His expression was becoming less an 'I'm ten seconds off dialing 911' look and becoming more a 'Let's see what we've got here first' one. Mulder knew that if he'd knocked himself out or hadn't responded properly, Danny would be making the call.

His eldest son said to the others, "We have to turn Dad onto his side. You know, we've done it before in the practices."

"Mommy helped," Keir pointed out.

"There's six of us and no choice! Otherwise he could throw up and choke on it!"

"He could? Wow..." from Steven.

Now thAT made Mulder feel sick. He closed his eyes. "I can turn on my side by myself," he informed the boys.

"No, Dad, don't! Save your strength," Daniel insisted.

Mulder decided to humor them on the issue. The boys kept talking. Something was pressed against the cut and held there.

"Your dad is such a klutz. My dad wouldn't fall and hurt his ankle. Or his head."

"Dad hurt his head because of you and me, Matt. Our faults, not his." Danny sighed. "Good thing the cut and the ankle are both on his left side. Be hard to know which way to roll him if it was one on each..."

"A person can actually choke on puke?" Ben asked.

"Yep, and die from it. It can get into their lungs. Some rock star went that way."

Mulder felt hands pushing and pulling at him. Little faces were staring down at him. "Heave!"

"Get me the cordless phone," his eldest son said.

Matthew's voice and Daniel's firm reply...

"Are you gonna call 911?"

"Close. Mom."


Scully was on the tail-end of the autopsy, closing up the corpse. The technician, Mike, was busy in the background. When the phone rang, he answered it, then told Scully, "It's your son - Danny. Says its urgent."

Dana wanted to lunge for the phone, but she was still in detritus-covered latex. The technician solved that problem by holding the phone up to her ear. "Honey, what's wrong?"

"Dad's had an accident - two accidents. He's hurt his

foot and now he's lying on the floor and he's bleeding -

and it's my fault but Matthew was being *such* a pain and-

"

"Danny, honey, slow down. Dad's cut his foot?"

"No. He hurt his ankle in the park, now he's cut his head. Well, the coffee table cut his head. He's awake. So I called you first instead of 911. We've got him on his side."

"Danny, is he -"

"Gimme the phone." Mulder was in pain, but alert. And the mischievous looks he was seeing on Matthew, Ben's and Steven's faces were NOT reassuring him.

Sure enough, Matthew was in obnoxious mode and going for the mind games. "Ooh blood. To the bone. Yup. Are his brains hanging out? Oooh brains...cool. Look Keir, Daddy's brains are hanging out."

"Shut up!" Mulder raged, then regretted the pain such a loud sound caused him. But it was too late either way. Keiran howled in terror.

Brett looked like he wanted to cry too, however he was making an effort to be really grown up. "It's okay, Keir. Mommy always says that Daddy has more brains th'n he knows what to do with. Remember? So he can lose some and be fine!" Brett looked to his other brother for reassurance. "Right, Danny?"

"Mom, Matthew says that Dad's brains are spilling out but I don't see any brains. Brains aren't white, are they? I'm sure that's just bone."

"My brains are NOT falling out!" Scully heard her husband rage.

Matthew grabbed the phone from Daniel, nearly chortling with glee. "His brains are falling out!"

"No way!"

"Yes way!" one of the cousins yelled, not wanting to be upstaged by Matty.

"Give the phone back to Daniel - NOW!" Scully demanded.

When Daniel retrieved the phone, he said to his mother, "The only thing that's coming out is blood. Brett's holding a diaper to it."

A diaper? Mulder realized it must be one of the old cloth ones from the closet. Or somewhere.

"We'll wrap a bandage around it," Danny continued.

His youngest was still giving a few hiccoughing sobs. "Keir, it's okay, I'm fine." Mulder waved his hand even harder. "Daniel, if you want to get a car when you're sixteen, give me the phone NOW."

His son held the phone to his ear.

"Fox, what the hell's going on? Are you all right? Are the kids all right?"

"Keir might need some therapy. I'm kidding, I'm kidding. But certain household visitors *will* need medical attention once I'm finished with them. Ouch!"

At that threat, Matthew's 'what a great joke' mood went down a few notches and he shut up, though not before he dared to mutter something about telling his father what word Uncle had used.

Mulder continued on the phone, "Relax, babe. The kids are okay. I'm not concussed... Just probably need some steri strips and some pain meds." He gritted his teeth. Definitely some meds. He had lifted his head a bit, despite the pain, wanting to count heads again, and Brett and Daniel were making the most of this to wrap a bandage around his forehead to secure the old cloth diaper on. One quick sweep-around ended up covering his eyes and he hastily shoved the strip upwards out of his way.

Dana wasn't mollified. "But Daniel said -"

"I'm just lying here to keep them happy. Ow. They won't let me move." And if they kept up the bandaging like that, soon he wouldn't be ABLE to move. He was trying to keep up a light tone, not wanting the younger boys to get any more upset.

"Well, you sound coherent. That's a start." Mulder knew that despite that, he hadn't been able to keep the pain out of his voice. His wife pressed on. "What have you done to your foot?"

"Sprained my ankle when Flukie tried to become a furry hurdle."

"It could be broken."

"It isn't."

"All right, I won't phone for an ambulance, but I am coming home *now*. And if I decide that you're going to the ER, then you're going! Give me back to Daniel so I can tell him."

A few minutes later, the phone was off and Danny was taking charge again. Mulder watched his eldest son. Daniel was in charge not through his age, but by force of his personality, quietly coping. If anything happened between now and Dana getting home, Danny would call 911.

"Okay, Keir, you know how when you're not feeling well, you've got Mr Buns to hold?" That was his favorite toy, a rabbit. "Well, can you do that for Dad? Be his Mr Buns?"

Keir nodded. Mulder would have nodded approvingly too if possible. Daniel had maneuvered his brother so that Keir would no longer see the blood and get hysterical. And he would also be 'helping' his father while being comforted, but not feeling like he was being treated like a baby.

Mulder felt the icepack being placed on his ankle. A cool cloth was applied to his cheek - his forehead was too swathed in bandages for there to be any room.

Daniel said, "Okay, now we keep talking to him. I'm sorry, Dad. We can't give you any aspirin."

"Why can't you?" Matthew asked.

"Mom keeps it locked up out of reach."

"Besides, it's a blood thinner. Not what I need right now. Oww... And something stronger would just mask any symptoms," Mulder said. "It's fine. You've made me very comfortable." And now Warrior Woman was on her way home, so if he could just hold out that long...


Scully arrived home fearing the worst and praying for the best.

She found Mulder lying on his side on the sitting room floor. Her husband had been covered with a blanket. There was a pillow under his head and Keir was curled up with him and Mr Buns. "I'm keeping Daddy warm!"

Brett was holding one of the old cloth diapers to Mulder's head. A mound of unraveled bandages was nearby. "We just took the bandage off 'cause we knew you'd want to have a look."

Mulder gave her that grin that always made her want to knee him in the groin. Or do something to his groin... "Hey babe, how was your day?" Then he winced.

"Let's see what you've done..." Though she did a quick head count of the boys first, just to make sure all six were still around. The cousins were engrossed in a playstation game.

"I've been doing headcounts. Making myself dizzy doing it too..." Mulder announced. "How do large families manage to keep track of everyone? I'd have a nervous breakdown..."

Several minutes later...

"Doesn't look like you have a concussion, but you're going to need a few stitches," Dana concluded. She had put another bandage around his head. "Plus x-rays of your head and foot, to be sure. Your ankle could be broken."

"It's a sprain. The pain of a break increases over time.

This is staying about the same."

"Come on, guys, we're going to the ER. All of us."

"Scully, do you think that's wise-"

"There aren't many options! There's enough room for everyone in the van. Just. Come on, guys, move it! The tallest of you can help me with Dad."


The stress and worry had gotten to her brood too, and ALL the boys were playing up on the trip. Being in the front row at a heavy metal concert would have been more soothing on both Mulder and Scully's nerves.

Mulder was taken into the ER. Scully then turned to the six reasons that she was unable to accompany him, and marched them into the waiting room. This many boys in such a confined space had 'disaster' written all over it, so she knew she had to take strong preventative measures. Especially since some of these boys were almost as big as her.

Dana lined them up on chairs while rummaging in her handbag - the advent of motherhood had also brought the handbag into her life. In her pre-children working career she had sometimes used a satchel or briefcase, but never bothered with a handbag. The moment Daniel popped out of her was the beginning of the new phase of her life - baglady. Carrying a kid around also meant hauling their entire nursery too. Just In Case. Pre-kids, she had been able to pack an incredible amount of things in her suit pockets, but trying to fit spare diapers in them without making her body look lopsided was something that could not be achieved.

Even when the kids left infantdom, there was still any number of items that could become essential and needed to be on hand at any moment. Like food bribes. Or food simply because boys basically seemed to have hollow legs and were always starving just when the pantry or a seven-eleven were too far away. She'd give them each some chocolate soon if they behaved. And to take an edge - or sliver - off their hunger.

All she could come up with in the way of intimidation was a hairbrush. She made do, marching up and down, pointing it threateningly, telling the boys in no uncertain terms, "Nobody moves or else."

She hadn't gotten any sex last night and her house was a wreck and her husband was injured and she couldn't be with him and she WAS Warrior Woman and the hairbrush was her sword and the boys took one look at her eyes and decided that behaving would be a Very Good Idea. And at least the waiting room TV was on.

Message delivered, Scully sank down on a couch. The process with the hairbrush had reminded her of intimidating a bad guy with her gun. Brett and Keir had been spared the worst of her glare-and-point routine, not because their behavior had been any better than the others, but they were both half asleep now, worn out, so hopefully they would nap and lose some crankiness along the way.

At some stage someone would want to go to the bathroom though... The logistics were enough to give her even more of a headache.

It belatedly occurred to her that she hadn't brought her cellular along and she hadn't left a note behind in case Tara and the others arrived at the house and wondered where they all were. Scully went to check her watch, but she hadn't put it on after the autopsy, rushing home instead. She looked at the wall clock while taking the brush from her lap and sweeping it through her long hair, now down from the bun she'd tied it in at work. If Mulder was okay, they should be home before the others came to pick up the kids. She didn't want to leave the boys in the waiting room to go and try to phone them, or troop all the boys with her to the phone - they'd block the flow of traffic in the hall...

Skinner had been very understanding about the situation when she phoned him while changing out of her scrubs before her mercy dash home. "At least you were the one who did the autopsy. That was the main thing. And we'll have to wait for the lab results to come through anyway before the full report can be done." But she would still have to find time to do the preliminary autopsy report...

A familiar-looking woman entered the waiting room, literally juggling three children, and sat down on the other end of the couch. The elder two children looked like twins, and were around eighteen months old and very fractious, and the youngest was about five months old and starting to howl. The mother looked like she was about to do the very same as she tried to calm them all.

Other people in the waiting room were alternating between trying not to look annoyed at the disturbance and just plain looking amazed at how Scully could keep so many boys so quiet (and most likely hoping that she would share some tips - or at least her hairbrush - with this woman.).

A very sympathetic Scully could recall her own days when the boys were younger and more high maintenance, and the accompanying exhaustion, even though Mulder had been, and still was, fully involved in looking after the kids. The energy levels needed to deal with boys, even when they were no longer little... Ideally, Dana would not have had three children so close together - a few years between Brett and Keir would have been nice, instead of eleven months - but miracles like those were not something you resented the timing of.

Scully leaned towards the harried woman. "Excuse me, you're Jill Collins, aren't you? I think we go to the same daycare? I'm Dana Mulder."

"Yes, that's right! Oh, what a mess... My husband cut himself doing some 'do it yourself' and I didn't have time to drop the kids off at my sister's."

"My husband had some bad luck himself... My sons know how to make an emergency call, and their father knows how to provide the need for such a call!"

Jill gestured with her chin towards the boys, who were in a regimented line, like soldiers, hardly daring to breathe, while her own brood continued to create havoc in her arms. "They're not all your kids, are they?"

"No. Those three are."

"They're all very well behaved."

Too scared to move, more like. "Yes, they're being very good." And they had better continue doing so, Dana communicated over to them with a Look.

Daniel fidgeted slightly, then quickly stopped. "Your father is going to be fine," Dana reassured him, knowing what was on his mind.

One of Jill's twins poked the other and even louder howling burst forth.

Dana put the hairbrush back in her bag and said, "Here, I'll hold the baby for you while you deal with your other two."

"Are you sure? She's just had her milk and she's quite a spitter."

"Been there. Bought the t-shirt, and promptly had it thrown up on."

"By me, Mommy?" Keir asked sleepily. The other boys looked at Dana with a mixture of curiousness and nervousness, wondering if he was going to be told off. Her instructions had been not to move, but 'do not talk' had been strongly implied.

"No, honey, you have a strong tummy." Ironically, he was the child who hardly ever threw up, which had been a godsend in the early days. Keir seemed to have a cast iron constitution. So, obviously he didn't take after his father, and had instead inherited more than just his coloring from the Scully side, namely his grandfather's sea-faring stomach.

Keir had a smug look on his face as he closed his eyes. If he wasn't in nap-mode, Dana knew he would have done something like poke his tongue out at his cousins and do the equivalent of 'nyah nyah, I've got a strong tummy!'.

Dana held her arms out for the little girl. The mother really needed some help, regardless of the risk. "It's okay. Good to have something to keep my mind occupied." That was certainly true. Dana couldn't be with Mulder at the moment. Her children were not babies anymore and she lived in a house full of males - even the pets had turned out to be hims - and the thought of holding a beautiful little girl baby all done up in pink seemed like just the balm and calm her frazzled system needed.

She went to settle the baby so the girl was sitting in her lap and could see her mother, but the baby suddenly resisted and wriggled and turned and threw up on Scully. And threw up again before Dana could do anything. Yes, this perfectly caps off my day, she thought, as her just-brushed hair clung together in sticky strands and more spit up worked its way beneath her shirt and trickled between her breasts.

The other people in the waiting room kept staring. She wondered if it was because they still couldn't believe anyone could have that many kids and keep them quiet or that one baby could upchuck that much.

The boys were probably now keeping silent because the baby puking was highly entertaining. Though she was sure they'd start chortling any second.

And even a few ounces of sour milk and drool is an awful lot when you're wearing it...


Mulder didn't have a concussion, but he did have another line of stitches to his name. He didn't have a broken leg either - it was a sprain. Bad, but not of the 'really bad and will take months to heal with possible permanent weakness' variety. So he could leave.

When they got out to the van, there was a parking ticket on the windshield. Scully removed it and put it in her pocket, looking murderous. All of the boys - including the adult one - were *very* subdued on the ride home.

At home Maggie and Tara were waiting. They had used Maggie's key to get in, and were worried about the deserted house and non-answering of cell phones. They'd had a quick look around the park too.

Before Dana had taken the boys to the hospital, she had fortunately gotten Danny to put the bandages and bloodstained diaper from the boys' patch-up job in the trash. Otherwise Maggie and Tara finding such things would have caused a whole new level of panic.

The women got Mulder to the couch, and a frazzled, fed up, spit-up drenched, smelly Dana was trying to explain, as were all six boys, who were also all by this stage starving, thirsty and in severe sugar-withdrawal mode. Most of the pets were hanging around, also starving and making noise, then the phone rang and Bill was bellowing down the line, having spoken to a frantic Tara not long beforehand, demanding to know what was going on.

Dana was yelling back and Mulder was lying there with a splitting headache and throbbing ankle, wanting everyone to shut up, or at least to escape the mayhem, but he didn't have the strength to make it upstairs by himself. Suddenly he started to gag, about to throw up. "Bucket - trash can!" he gasped desperately, trying to hold on or hold it in, while trying to signal for attention and help.

Keir, the closest, grabbed the nearest thing and shoved it into his father's hands. Mulder didn't have time to have a good look and by the time he could, it was too late. He'd thrown up in Tara's bag.


30 minutes later

Mulder lay in bed and drifted.

The pain meds were working. Thank God.

One good thing about his literal upheaval in the sitting room was that it had been a showstopper - immediately halting all the yelling going on and putting the focus of three worried Scully females back onto him.

Then when Tara and Maggie had been helping Scully to get Mulder up to the bedroom, Dana had spotted damage to the wall just before the stairs. "Who did that?" she raged, glaring at all the boys who were present.

Mulder pulled her back enough to whisper in her ear, "Um, honey, I think that was *us*. Remember?"

She did. Things had gotten so hot against that wall on Saturday that her body had probably acted like an industrial wallpaper steamer. "Never mind," she said to the boys, not meeting their eyes, then practically carried her husband up the stairs in order to make a speedy escape.

Mulder let his mind spin off towards sleep...

There was a thud out in the hall. "Shhhhh!" from someone, one of the boys, also out in the hall.

Mulder mentally shrugged. He had a sick note - he could sit this one out and let his wife or Tara or Maggie handle it, whatever 'it' was.

Then the door opened and he heard stockinged feet pad in. He cracked one eye open and saw Danny heading stealthily towards Dana's bureau. Danny proceeded to open the top drawer and rummage around.

"Son, what're you doing?"

Daniel jumped and whirled around, looking guilty. "Nothing!"

Mulder started to sit up, then regretted it. "Ow!"

"Dad, it's okay. Just lie down."

"What are you doing?" Then Mulder saw movement in the open doorway. Brett was there in the hallway, holding his own money box and Keir's piggy bank. "What IS going on here? Where's your mother?"

"Mom's in the shower getting rid of the upchuck," Daniel began, his hand still in the drawer.

Just then Dana's voice could be heard in the hallway. "Mom, I need to talk to you!" Danny called. He hurried out, leaving the drawer open, but shutting the door behind him, not before saying, "It's okay, Dad!" but not sounding very confident about it.

What the hell WAS going on?

Mulder decided if it was a serious enough crisis, he would be woken. If not, Scully was more than up to sorting it out.

He began to drift off again. Lovely soothing sleep...

The door opened again and bare feet entered. He didn't need the smell of body lotion to know that it was his wife.

Then her hands were suddenly in the vicinity of his groin, patting around. Frisking.

Mulder opened his eyes. Dana was leaning over him, wearing only a very haphazardly tied towel, her wet hair dripping onto the bed. "Um, honey, if you want some action, I'm gonna have to plead the fifth for now, sorry..."

Then he realized she was actually searching the pockets of his sweat pants. "Is it Thief Week in this house or something? What is going on?"

She didn't seem to be in the mood for either amour or explanations. "Where's your wallet?" she demanded briskly.

"I can't remember... I did have it when we got home... What have the boys done?"

She hurried over to the bureau, but pulled open a lower drawer and rummaged. "They're not stealing. They're gathering. The pizza delivery man is at the door. With six pizzas. Daniel ordered them. He told me just then that he DID ask me before he phoned for them, and that I said yes, but everything was happening at once, if you recall. I guess he thought he was doing the right thing, and he was, since we're all starving, though Matthew may have hiked the number up on him, but the upshot is that the pizzas are here and I left my bag at the hospital, with my purse and checkbook in it! Seems to be my day for leaving things behind... The hospital phoned just before. Jill Collins noticed my bag just after I left, so at least no one has gone through it and got the credit cards..."

"Oh. Can't we borrow some money off Ta - ahhhh...." He remembered. Then, "Ahhhrgh!" as he moved a bit too much and his ankle reminded him not to. At least his son's behavior had become clear: Danny not wanting to wake him with the problem, then when that failed, his son didn't want to go into detail and stress him out further.

Dana said, "Mom's only got some change. Though she'll head to the nearest ATM if we can't raise enough. The kids are about ready to eat the pizza man. Or the pets. Typical - we've got plenty in the bank, but not enough on hand! Where's that damn stash I had?" She slammed drawers and headed for the wardrobe. "I might have to hunt for your checkbook. Though by the time I find it in your desk -"

"It's not that much of a mess!"

"- the pizzas will be cold and the kids will be in college! By the way, you haven't felt like throwing up again, have you?"

"Nope."

"Good. You're not exhibiting any other signs or symptoms of raised intracranial pressure but I'll keep an eye on you to be sure." Throwing up after a head injury was not an unexpected thing. Too much throwing up could be bad though, so Doctor Dana was still in residence.

"Any chance we can trade Matthew for the pizzas?" Though Bill's son had gotten some comeuppance - Matthew had accidentally left his favorite baseball cards in Tara's car on Saturday, so Tara had put them in her bag for safekeeping... Mulder had to work to keep the smirk off his face at that news.

Scully pulled a velvet bag out of the depths of the wardrobe and peered inside. "Damn, I thought there was more than that. Pretty close though. With the boys' piggy banks and spare change from under the cushions, we should be right... Saves me having to -" The last half of the sentence was lost as she rushed out, nearly losing the towel on the way. The pizza man might not want a tip if he got a free show instead...


Same day
Early evening
Mulder residence
Dana and Fox's bedroom

Awakening, Mulder opened his eyes and found two amber ones staring back at him. For a second his brain thought it was a mutant and wanted him to lunge for his gun, but then he realized that it was just Underfoot the cat, who was presently on top of the wardrobe and would most likely remain so for some time. Dana had managed to give the cat a bath a few hours beforehand to get the remaining grape jelly out of its fur, and as soon as it had been released, it streaked back to 'safety'. So Dana had no choice but to put a food bowl up there. She'd better remove it before coming to bed - he didn't want to be woken up by munching if Underfoot rediscovered an appetite at three in the morning.

At least the house was now no longer harboring any children apart from his own. He had managed some sleep. But his head and ankle were hurting again.

The slightly-ajar door opened further, and wonder son number three appeared, blinking blearily and lugging Mr Buns.

"Hey, big boy. What're you up to?"

Keiran came around and leaned against Mulder's side of the bed, resting his face on the blankets. "G'night time."

Dana came in, carrying a dozing Brett and guiding a dead-on-his-feet Daniel. "Time for more pain meds. And to say goodnight. Time we all got some sleep."

Mulder looked at the clock. It was before Keir's usual bedtime. But none of the boys were complaining. No stories would be asked for or read out tonight.

He hoped Dana had enough energy to get herself back to their bedroom after tucking the boys in, because he wouldn't be able to come out and sweep her up.

Dana boosted Keir up within reach. "Night, kiddo."

A minute later, Mulder said, "Boys, I'm proud of you all. You did a great job looking after me. Thanks."

"Okay, tribe, let's hit the hay." Brett was now awake enough to walk out under his own steam, so Dana hefted Keir and led the boys to the door.

"Danny, wait up a minute," Mulder said. Dana and the younger boys exited, and Daniel came back near the bed, looking down at his hands.

Mulder watched this eight-year-old near-carbon-copy of himself and realized that Scully was correct about what she had been saying for years, even back when they were only work partners: guilt did NOT look good on him.

"I know you're feeling guilty, but it wasn't your fault that I hurt my foot or my head, Danny. It was mine."

Daniel shrugged, not convinced. "Maybe not your ankle, but you only stood up from the couch and fell because I got angry at Matthew and we started fighting. So that's my fault."

"You were trying to do the right thing - to help me and he was being stupid about it. You two shouldn't have started fighting, but it was hard on you. You were worried about me and stood up to him. Despite the fight, everything else you did today you proved you're more sensible than a nine-year-old. You weren't the eldest there, but you took charge and coped." At that, Daniel smiled. "I'm lucky and glad that you were there."

Now the both of them smiled. Mulder made a 'c'mere' motion and they hugged as best they could in between his injuries. "Now get to bed before your mother digs out another hairbrush!"

Very soon, Scully was settling into bed next to her husband, meds having been issued and the cat gently outed to another room. "So, who babysat whom today?"

"I think I'd rather face six liver eating mutants than six boys..."

"I think you did a good enough job of injuring yourself without any help from them! Oh, and Matthew said you dropped 'the word' in front of them."

"Like his father has never?" Then Mulder became thoughtful. "Hmm, I wonder..."

"What?"

"After I hit my head, Matthew was even more of a pain, but come to think of it, perhaps it was because he was scared. Of how much trouble he'd be in and that I might really be hurt. But he didn't want the others to know, so he put on an act."

"Perhaps... Perhaps not. Interesting theory though." Dana eyed his head bandage and the bulk at the end of the bed where Mulder's foot was propped and surrounded by cushions. "Lucky we had such a good session over Friday night and Saturday."

"If you get the urge tonight, babe, you'll just have to take care of it yourself. Sorry. I just couldn't do it to the standards which you deserve."

She pressed up gently along his good side, to be close and just hold him. "I don't expect you to do your duty tonight."

"Well, I consider it more a pleasure than a duty."

"Not to mention essential. But we can abstain long enough for you to mend enough."

Mulder chuckled. "Looking back now, I can't believe we held out five years..."

"Well, I love you for more than just how good you are in bed! Besides, before we got together, we didn't know what we were missing. In our fantasies we knew it would be something special, we just didn't realize how incredible it would be."

They gazed at each other, content, for several long minutes, then sleep started creeping up on them.

"Won't need rocking tonight..." Mulder murmured.

"Not even our special brand of 'rocking'. No oxytocin required this time..."

The End


Author's notes

Those of us who enjoy MT usually have a favorite form. I'm partial to giving my heroes fevers. My friend Sally is, it could be said, a sprained ankle whore <G>. When I was deciding what story out of thousands of ideas to work on next, her reply was definite: "You're going to sprain his ankle. And in the Daniel Universe."

I was sure I could come up with a sprained ankle scenario, but the second part of her demand had me floundering. So Sally came up with an outline and that set my brain going, then we showed Macspooky and she upped the ante ('more disaster - add more boys!'). And so, Sally and Mac, you've been invaluable co-conspirators in this.

The addition of Brett and Keir to this universe came about (and sat on my hard drive) long before the show 'Malcolm in the Middle' appeared, but since then I have found the show a great crash course in the 'art' of raising boys (or surviving boys). I've even had Sally phone me up during the commercial breaks and say, "You are taping it, aren't you? That scenario would be perfect for the Couch Universe!" Yes, inspiration (and a few lines) have been used in this story and more will follow. (Oh, and Keir looks *nothing* like Dewey <G>.)

Title: 13. Dreams Fulfilled
Authors: Ten
Category: V; MSR
Rating: R for fairly non-descriptive, consensual adult situations (half my beta readers said it was an R and half said it was PG-13, so I'm staying on the side of caution.)
Disclaimer: The X-Files, the episodes referred to, Mulder and Scully and all other characters from the show belong to Chris Carter, the writers of the episodes, Ten Thirteen Productions and Fox Broadcasting, and are used without permission. No copyright infringement is intended, no profit will be gained. Characters not recognized from the show are mine or Mac's.
FEEDBACK: Always great to know who's out there in the ether!

Summary: Mother's Day celebrations for Dana in the Couch Universe as Fox and their sons give her a day to remember.

Timespan/spoiler warning: This is set in Macspooky and my "Daniel/Couch" series. It can be read as a standalone

This series and universe diverted from the show after the events of "Emily" in the fifth season. Mulder and Scully have bred and wed, then bred some more. A few aspects of the following seasons are kept, but not many.

Stories in this series have been set at various times, some even during the next seven years. The installments of the series where Samantha Mulder re-enters Fox's life have not been written yet, but in this alternate universe the woman that CSM brought to Mulder in the diner in 'Redux' was the real Samantha. It is planned that Sam reappears sometime in or around 2000-2002 after CSM's death and the Consortium's defeat, so by the time of this Mother's Day story (2005), she and Fox are close siblings again.

The usual sexual endurance disclaimer still applies here. Namely: The sexual endurance of this Mulder has been enhanced for the pleasure of Scully and the readers - and the writer. Don't expect this at home. We don't want to cause any unrealistic expectations re: males of around this age, but hey, it's nice to dream! And they're making up for lost time.

Thanks to: Mac, Gerry, Debbie, Suzanne and Judie - all for giving help repeatedly and swiftly, despite being busy.


Mulder Townhouse
Old Town Alexandria
Second Sunday in May 2005

Main bedroom

Dana opened her eyes and slowly focused on the alarm clock. Dawn. Damn. She groaned and heard a chuckle close to her ear. Turning over, she burrowed closer to its source.

Settling contentedly into her husband's embrace, she felt him kiss her on the forehead. "Get some more sleep," he whispered. "The boys and I won't be bringing you breakfast in bed just yet."

That's right... She opened her eyes to Fox's smile.

He continued, "Happy Mother's Day, love."

Sleep was momentarily forgotten. "Thank you for making me one."

"It was a literal pleasure," he said sincerely, exercising great control over his grin. "Each time."

Sleep was discarded. She tapped his chest, studying his reactions in the weak, but adequate, morning light. "Sooooo, when do I get my presents?"

That got an eyebrow raise. "I can give you one of them now if you like, but I thought you wanted to sleep some more."

Her fingers stopped tapping and started trailing instead. "Let me guess... A re-creation of how I got to be a mother?" she asked.

"Yeah, but not downstairs on the couch. That would be a little too risky."

She felt him jump slightly as she hit a sensitive spot. "Two boys created on couches. One in bed. Yes, let us review the situations leading up to their conceptions..."

"Talk or diagrams or..."

She rolled him over onto his back and said firmly, "Actions."

"Okay, but as I recall, the first time, I was on top..."

"Mere detail. Oh, but thAT isn't..."


A few hours later

Her boys brought her breakfast in bed. Fox had made sure that most of it turned out edible, though Keir did insist on creating some toast that contained more butter and jam than it did bread.

Dana made a mental note to change the sheets before tonight, otherwise there was the danger of her or Fox getting a rash from the crumbs, especially if they...

She looked at her boys. Seven-year-old Danny, Brett, who would be five in July, and Keiran, who was almost four. From their excited expressions, they were bursting with a big surprise. So she ate as quickly as she dared.

"That was lovely. But I'm so full now I don't think I can move!"

"You have to!" Brett insisted. His face was worried.

"We're giving you your presents downstairs, so you'd better get dressed and ready," Fox explained.

Soon Dana was sitting on the couch in the living room. The boys had all thundered upstairs, after getting repeated promises out of her that she would not move or touch anything until they were ready. She could hear all four males moving around upstairs, in and out of rooms. There was talk, but she couldn't make out the words. What on earth were they up to? Trying to remember where they had hidden the presents?

Still sitting, she looked around the living room for clues. The coffee table and various other pieces of furniture had been moved so there was a bare area in the middle of the room. The dog, Flukie, and the cats - Come Here and Underfoot - had been temporarily banished outdoors by her husband.

Finally Danny called out from the top of the stairs, "Mom, are you ready? You haven't moved?"

"Not an inch."

Footsteps on the stairs. Excited whispering. Then a hand Fox's - came just into sight in the doorframe, holding a remote control. Dana could tell from the size and shape that it was for the stereo unit. The remote was being pointed in the general direction of the stereo, which was on. A button was pushed. Dana waited expectantly. Nothing happened.

The hand tried again.

The stereo fired up with 'Jailhouse Rock'.

And not one, not even two or three, but *four* Elvises sashayed into the room.

Fox, Keir, Brett and Danny lined up across the living room in front of her. Each of them wore their hair slicked back and coiffured into various styles that the King had made famous. No fake sideburns were in evidence, but all four were wearing sequined silk shirts and bandanas.

Fox had a fake microphone. Their sons were carrying tennis racquets as guitars. The Elvis ensemble launched into 'Jailhouse Rock', singing along with the real Elvis, complete with some choreography and instrument playing. The moves didn't always coordinate, however that was part of the charm. Their energy and enthusiasm was wonderful to watch. And the handles of the racquets doubled as microphones.

Dana couldn't help but notice that there were no pelvic thrusts. That was fine, as their sons were too young for that and she knew that King Fox would give her a private performance of hip gyrating that night.

After the first chorus of 'Jailhouse', the music changed. Dana realized that Fox must have made up a compilation of appropriate songs by the King, or got the Gunmen to do so.

The next song was 'Love Me Tender'. Her husband stepped forward while the boys bopped on in the background, doing backup. Gazing into her eyes, Fox sang the lyrics without any pretence of a persona - one hundred percent himself, with one hundred percent honesty on his face.

"Love me tender, love me sweet
Never let me go


You have made my life complete


And I love you so.


Love me tender, love me true


All my dreams fulfill


For my darling I love you

And I always will."

Brett leaned over to Danny, still 'playing' his guitar.

"Mommy's crying."

"That means she likes it!" their eldest replied confidently. "Don't you, Mom?"

"I love it," she blurted out, nearly choking on her emotions.

"Told you."

Reassured, Brett continued on happily. Fox stepped back into line when 'Blue Suede Shoes' started. Each of their sons then came forward individually to sing a section. Fox and the Gunmen had either found an extended version or had spliced the song in twice seamlessly, because all three boys got a decent time in the spotlight.

Danny was a born rocker and to a degree an exhibitionist like his father, twirling his 'guitar' with aplomb and even with some Hendrix style. Brett was a little hesitant when he first stepped out alone, but within a few lines was fine and threw himself into the lyrics with grand hand gestures - fortunately having put his tennis racquet down first. Keir sang his part faster than Elvis, so when the King was still singing, the unfazed youngster then on the spot made up a few additional and hysterical examples of what you could do as long as you laid off of those shoes.

This concert was so far both one of the most touching and funny things that Dana had ever seen.

Fox took the spotlight again to serenade Dana with: "Take my hand, take my whole life too - for I can't help falling in love with you."

Both adults couldn't help chuckling at the "Wise men say only fools rush in" line.

The concert ended with a rousing delivery of 'All Shook Up'.

Dana gave them a standing ovation and cries for an encore as she rushed around hugging each Elvis.

Within a few minutes, Fox said, "Okay, now for the presents!"

He sat next to Dana while the boys stampeded excitedly out of the room. Within a minute they returned with their hands behind their backs.

Brett came forward first. He was the middle child, but his parents did their best to ensure he didn't always have to be relegated to being second in events. From behind his back he produced a red rose which he gave to his mother along with a hug and kiss. A little package was dangling from the stem. Dana opened it to find a thin golden ring. The band had a sort of zigzag on one side at its widest part instead of being straight the whole way around, but was otherwise plain.

"Thank you, honey." Dana went to put it on a finger of her right hand to see which one it best fitted.

"Other way up," Fox said quickly and quietly.

Dana privately wondered what difference it made, but she immediately turned it over and found it fit the ring finger of her right hand. The zigzag point was facing away from her. "It's beautiful, Brett." With it being so thin though, she would have to be careful or it could get damaged easily. "Did you choose it yourself?"

Brett looked like he wanted to say something, but looked over at his father. Fox smiled at him, then Dana, and said, "You'll find out in a minute."

Next was Keir's turn, which was just as well, as the youngster was showing signs of impatience, wanting to give Mommy her present *now*. Another red rose with a package, complete with hug and kiss and "Love you LOTS".

The package had another of the rings in it. But as Dana examined the ring, she realized that it was slightly different from the one Brett had given her. Fox smiled and took it and put it on the same finger as the other one. And they fitted together.

The pieces literally fell into place. "A puzzle ring!"

"Yep! Here's the next piece!" Danny said eagerly, coming forward with another rose and package so fast that he nearly tripped and ended up in her lap.

Then Fox added the final one and Dana was wearing four rings that together formed one, the 'zigzags' over-and-under-lapping to create a beautiful Celtic design. Dana thought about how a puzzle ring summed everything up perfectly: the X-Files, their family, their love.

"I don't want to ever take it off," she told her sons and husband.

"Good," Fox replied. "Because unless you memorize which piece goes where and which way up, it's a real b... pain," he corrected himself smoothly, "if you happen to get them mixed up."

"We wrapped each up in different paper so we knew the order," Danny said proudly.

And the look Fox gave her showed that he would also hate her to lose the puzzle ring in a corpse's innards or accidentally throw it down the laundry chute with her autopsy garb.

Fox and the boys went back upstairs to retrieve more presents, and soon she got to unwrap a lovely cut crystal vase to put the four red roses in.

Then came drawings and cards the boys had made especially for the event, complete with a framed photo of the four Elvises (signed, of course). These meant as much to Dana as the bought gifts.

Just when she thought there were no more presents, Fox handed her a velvet box. She opened it to find a bracelet, beautifully worked in gold, set with three blue jasper stones.

As she hugged her husband, she whispered in his ear, "You are going to get *so* lucky tonight..."

"Already am, babe. Already am."

When Maggie arrived there were presents for her too - including a special rendition of Bobby Darin's 'Splish Splash'. Fox and the boys also gave an encore performance of the Elvis concert. This time Dana videotaped it. Fox told Dana and Maggie that he had been worried the boys would blab and give away the surprises, but they hadn't. The concert had been rehearsed at Grandma's or at times that Dana was away from the house.

Lunch was held in the park. Then the adults sat and watched the boys play. Dana turned to her mother, deciding to address something that she had been wondering about since Maggie had arrived. "Mom, is everything all right?" At that question Fox's attention returned to them.

Maggie stared at her. "Yes. Why?"

"I don't know. You just look like you want to tell us something, but don't know how to."

Maggie hesitated, then nodded, her face coloring. Fox

said, "Mom, if you want to talk to Dana alone -"

"No. No, this is something I wanted to tell both of you. Nothing is wrong," she hastened to reassure them. "But I've just been worried how you'll react." At their looks of support and concern, she forged ahead in a rush. "I have a date."

"Really? Who with? When?" Dana asked, caught off guard.

"It's next week. It's not really a date, actually, more like a 'catching up'," Maggie clarified hurriedly. "Dana, did you ever hear your father or me mention Rob Harper?"

Her daughter thought hard. "I don't think so."

"He's someone I knew years ago in school. We stumbled across each other in a department store on Thursday and somehow recognition won out after all this time. He's a widower and is visiting from Oregon for the next few weeks, staying with his son and family. So Rob wants to take me out for dinner and catch up on what has happened over the years." Maggie smiled, a little nervously.

"That's great!" Fox said, and Dana agreed.

Dana noticed Maggie throwing her a worried look and knew that her mother was checking to see if she really was okay with her mother going out with a man. Maggie had been out on a few dates since Ahab died, but nothing had become of them. This seemed different. Dana knew she had stressed that it was only 'catching up' while this Rob was in town, but something in Maggie's voice made Dana wonder if they had been in love at some stage in the past. What if something blossomed between them again? No one could replace Ahab, but her mother deserved happiness if she did fall in love again.

It occurred to Dana that perhaps Bill Junior had phoned Maggie today to wish her a happy Mother's Day, heard the news, and shot his mouth off without thinking, therefore giving her a complex...

Dana had an intuitive feeling that something good would come out of this. Perhaps not immediately, but somewhere along the line.

She reached over and squeezed her mother's hand. "If you want help with picking an outfit, just let me know." Her smile grew at the relief on Maggie's face.

Dinner was at Samantha's place. Teena was there, so the boys got to give her presents and race around with their cousins.

Dana felt her eyes tear up again as she watched. Once upon a time this scene would have been a longed-for fantasy: her and Fox married - and being able to *call* him Fox - having children, watching those children play in Samantha's backyard, everyone happy.

That evening came bath time and the rather enormous task of washing the boys' hair. Fox had used Vaseline to slick their hair down and had been rather liberal in his application... Dana was sure that any minute the strain would prove too much for the hot water system. After as much of her efforts as each individual boy would tolerate (in other words, not much, even with the more-patient Brett: "Mom, I've had enufffffffff!"), she gave up and reminded herself that there were worse things than a little grease. It had been worth it for their show.

But the leftover Vaseline caused problems at bedtime. "My pillow's yucky!" Keir complained. So Dana had to break out towels to tuck over the pillows for the night. She knew she would probably have to do that for a week or so.

Eventually all the boys were asleep. Fox went downstairs for something, and Dana went into the main bedroom. After several minutes of rummaging she picked a sexy nightie and went to the connecting master bathroom to get ready for bed herself. An early night was in order, because it was almost time to get Big Elvis to move that pelvis...

And by the state of this bathroom, it had taken him quite a lot of effort to de-Vaseline himself. Or at least start to.

Dana smiled at herself in the mirror as she applied

perfume and adjusted the neckline - or rather 'bustline' of her nightie. She touched her ring and bracelet. She was a very lucky, happy and content woman. Her reflection certainly showed that. And she was determined to give Fox a wonderful time when it was Father's Day. Plans were already forming in her mind...

And a wonderful time tonight, of course. Definitely rock and roll.

Exiting the bathroom, she saw that the bedroom door was now locked. Fox was lying on top of the bed, wearing only green silk pajama bottoms. His hair was gloriously spiky. Fox looked over at her and put the book he was holding - but probably not reading - down on his nightstand and whistled at the sight in front of him.

"Today is your day - but it looks like I'm the one getting the present!" He rolled over on his side and regarded her. "Did you enjoy your day?"

"How could I not?" Dana replied as she came to stand next to the bed. "I loved it. Thank you so much."

"Well, it isn't over yet..." he said cryptically.

She raised an eyebrow. Fox sat up, moving with the grace that had always entranced her. It wasn't a feminine grace far from it. More like 'sleek jungle cat'. Then he smoothly slid off the bed, down onto his knees. He took her hands in his, and kissed them.

"Now, your final present..." His look was pure 'smolder'. "Anything you want, any way you want it." A quirky grin touched his lips. "With due deference to my age and moral sensibilities, of course."

"My day, my way?"

"Exactly. Anything, anyhow-"

"I want YOU!" she announced emphatically. Dana hauled him up off the floor and onto the bed in one strong motion. She climbed up after him, then onto him. "The rest of the details I'll work out along the way..."

The End


  • "All Shook Up" copyright Blackwell-Presley
  • "Blue Suede Shoes" copyright Carl Perkins
  • "Jailhouse Rock" copyright Lieber-Stoller
  • "Can't Help Falling In Love" copyright Peretti-Creatore-Weiss
  • "Love Me Tender" copyright Presley-Matson
  • "Splish Splash" copyright its respective writers

Used without permission, but not for profit and with no infringement intended.

Title: 14. Father's Day Unveiled...
Authors: Ten
Category: V; MSR (They're married); A; some H Rating: PG-13 for fairly non-descriptive, consensual adult situations
Disclaimer: The X-Files, the episodes referred to, Mulder and Scully and all other characters from the show belong to Chris Carter, the writers of the episodes, Ten Thirteen Productions and Fox Broadcasting, and are used without permission. No copyright infringement is intended, no profit will be gained. Characters not recognized from the show are mine or Mac's.Archiving: It goes to Gossamer through xff. Can be archived anywhere as long as my name, addy and disclaimer stay intact. FEEDBACK: Always great to know who's out there in the ether!

Summary: After a wonderful Mother's Day, big surprises are afoot for Father's Day. But things don't go according to plan...

Timespan/spoiler warning: This is set in Macspooky and my "Daniel/Couch" series and is a sequel to the Mother's Day story "Dreams Fulfilled".

It can be read as a standalone: This series and universe diverted from the show after the events of "Emily" in the fifth season. Mulder and Scully have bred and wed, then bred some more. A few aspects of the following seasons are kept, but not many. Oh, and Mulder is not color blind in this universe <G>.

Thanks to: Gerry, Debbie, Suzanne and Judie.


Mulder Townhouse
Old Town Alexandria
June 2005
Kitchen

Fox Mulder was used to being the odd man out. This situation, however, was different.

Dana and all three of their boys were on the tail end of the flu, but somehow he had escaped... That was a minor miracle, considering his track record with illness and hospitalizations. However, married life had managed to tone down his propensity for being a disaster-magnet, making him weigh risks a lot more carefully instead of leaping *then* looking.

Of course, the tiredness he was now feeling might be the beginning of the symptoms. Fox was well aware that if not for the help given by relatives and friends to look after his family, he would be a completely exhausted mess.

He wished that he had been the sick one instead. Watching Dana be ill tore at his heart. And when Brett came staggering in to him, feverish and crying, saying, "I'm sick of being sick!"...

Last night had been better than the night before. All four patients seemed to have turned the corner, more or less together.

Fox finished preparing breakfast for his wife. Dana had awakened feeling hungry and alert, so he told her he would bring a tray up and see how she did with its contents. There was no danger of tripping over the pets on the way, or them wanting handouts from the tray, as they were currently outside. Fox tucked the newspaper under his arm in case his wife wanted something to read.

Carrying the tray table, he went out into the hallway and found his pale wife was coming out of the living room in her dressing gown and slippers.

"Danny's asleep," she said quietly. Their eldest son had been lying on the couch, watching cartoons, but Fox was not surprised to hear that.

"Back to bed!" Fox ordered in a mock stern tone.

She gave him a look and said firmly, "It is a mother's prerogative to check on her children. Keir and Brett are asleep too." They were currently in their own beds.

Husband and wife went upstairs. In the main bedroom, Dana got back in bed and arranged some pillows behind her back. Fox opened a few more blinds while she blew her nose. Dana looked at breakfast and said: "That actually looks appetizing."

"Is that a complaint about my usual cooking standards, wife?"

"No, a comment on my state of health."

"Good!" He put the tray-table down over her lap. "Let's see how you do. Here's the paper if you want it."

"Thanks." She placed the paper next to her and picked up some toast. "When is Mom coming back?"

"In an hour or so."

"Good. I want to ask her about Rob. I've been meaning to, but with everything that's happened... Has she mentioned him?"

"No, we've kind of been busy - not much chance to sit down and talk."

Rob was an old friend whom Maggie had met again by accident in May. The widower and Dana's mother went out often while he was staying in D.C., and Maggie really enjoyed his company. Fox liked the man. Both he and Dana could see that something could come of this, if the distance didn't prove to be a stumbling block.

Dana swallowed a mouthful of toast. "Now that he's back in Oregon, I hope they keep in contact..."

"We'll just have to see."

When Dana had eaten as much as she could, she decided to read for a while. Fox took the tray and was on his way out of the bedroom when Dana let out a gasp. He turned around. "What is it? What's wrong?"

She was staring at the top section of the newspaper in horror. "Is this today's paper? What's the date?"

"That's today's."

She looked even more upset and stricken. "Father's Day, Fox... We missed Father's Day!"

"We did? Oh, we did, but that's okay. I didn't even realize - it was the last thing on my mind. And you were sick."

Uh oh, now she was crying. Fox hastily put the tray down and went back to the bed. He sat on the edge of the mattress next to his wife. "Dana, love, it's okay. It doesn't matter. Honestly. I'm just glad that you and the boys are getting better. It's not your fault."

"Mother's Day was one of the most beautiful and perfect and happiest days of my life," Dana said, trying to wipe away her tears. "I wanted to give you that too."

"Even if we had known what the day was, no one would have felt like doing any celebrating," he pointed out. "It's just a date - a date probably made up by greeting card companies. We can have it when you're all feeling better. I'm sure it'll be worth the wait." Fox hoped his words were getting through to her. He didn't want her thinking he had been shortchanged in some way, when that definitely wasn't the case. And if the boys found out she was this upset about it...

He took some tissues and gently wiped her face with them. She was still sniffling and he knew it wasn't just from her flu.

"I had such big plans..."

"You can still have them." He reached for her hand. "Dana, when you say how much Mother's Day meant to you, that makes me happy. I'm so glad we were able to give you that day to show you what you mean to us. But I also hope we show you that every day - perhaps not in an Elvis concert, but in other ways. Perhaps small, but important. You do that for me." He took a deep breath and hoped the right words would come out, to show her what he was feeling.

Here goes... "Years ago all there was to my life was my quest. But gradually you got under my skin, into my heart. I considered myself so lucky to be able to see you every day at work and spend time with you, and thought I'd have to be content with that. Then when you became my lover I thought I was the luckiest man alive. I got to wake up with you each morning and you loved me like I loved you. And suddenly we found out you were pregnant against all odds. So I went from being a man who was doomed to spend the rest of his life chasing lights in the sky and spending his nights on a couch watching TV to *this*. It may sound cliched, but every day is Father's Day for me, because I am one. I got to be one. Yes, every day, even when the boys are tearing the place apart or tossing the king of tantrums in a department store. Going back to what I once was and had isn't an option. It's unthinkable."

Now Dana was in tears again, but with a smile. She hugged him, stroking his hair. Thanks to the Vaseline that Fox had used to get the 'Elvis style coiffure' going for the Mother's Day concert, for two or three weeks afterwards, the hair of all four Mulder males was the softest it had ever been. General consensus in the household was that such softness was not worth the effort nor the amount of hair washes and trouble it had taken to be rid of the Vaseline.

Dana said, "Well, I'm going to make sure I get better very soon. I want to be able to start giving you your presents as soon as possible."

"There is something that you can do now, but only if you feel up to it and only for a few minutes. I don't want to wear your poor tongue and throat out."

She gave him a knowing look. "Of course. And I want to make you feel as good as you just made me feel. Let's get in position. How would you like it? Face to face? That might not be such a good idea, though it's not like you haven't been exposed to these germs already."

After a quick think they settled down on the bed, Fox lying on top of the covers, each on their separate pillow, but facing each other.

"What's your pleasure? Any requests or 'however it comes'?" Dana asked, holding his hand.

"Whatever's on your mind."

So Dana began to talk - about her feelings for him and what she really loved about him. Fox had not specified a particular topic or time or question, like something that had happened on one of their cases or between them in the past.

Since it wasn't a 'request', Dana got to select what to start off talking about. Fox could interject with a question based off what she was saying, but he often didn't, simply listening to and absorbing what she told him. Some things he knew already, but they were good to hear again.

After those first years as partners on the X-Files, of hiding their feelings from each other, these talks were something they both gave each other regularly and were very much looked forward to, not just for the words and knowledge, but the closeness and the emotion behind them. How to be open was something they had learned and treasured.

This time Dana told him how she had felt when she saw him holding their first child. The little things he did that meant so much to her each time she was pregnant. As many things as she could think of about Fox William Mulder, the father.

All too soon, Dana had to stop to have a drink and blow her nose.

She went to continue afterwards, but Fox smiled and said that was

enough for now. "You're the only woman I know that can satisfy a

man just as much through words as through -"

"Well, I'd *better* be the only one you know!" she said with a mock affronted look.

He went to give a suitable retort, but then the doorbell rang. He doubted that was Maggie - knowing that the bell might wake her daughter and grandsons, she would have let herself in.

Dana took Fox's hand as he went to step away from the bed. He looked down at her enquiringly.

"You mean so much to me, to the boys," she said, squeezing his hand. "Do you have any idea how much you are loved?"

Once upon a time he would not have, could not have, grasped or accepted such a thing. But that was then.

"Yes. Yes, I do," he replied honestly.


Epilogue

Over a week later

Fox lay in bed. He was dozing, waiting for Dana to join him. He had somehow managed to survive the flu zone unscathed. Instead he had hit his own finger while putting a Father's Day present up on a wall of the study. Of course. Fortunately the finger was all right. The present was a large frame, one of the gifts that the boys had presented him with. It contained two photos. The first picture was of Danny, Brett and Keir wrestling with him. Next to it was a photo of complete contrast - him sprawled out asleep on the couch, with all three sons also piled on the couch, and on him, completely zonked. The sight of those images made him grin every time.

Dana had given Fox tickets to a much anticipated Yankees game that was sold out. Somehow his wife managed to get them. Not only that, but fantastic seats too. He couldn't wait.

He turned over onto his back and stretched. He would take his cue from Dana as to what they would do tonight. She was fully recovered from the flu, but both of them being in good health didn't necessarily mean rampant lovemaking each and every night. One of their little revealing talks would be great - perhaps this time he would do the talking, remembering and revealing. Or just being able to hold her, instead of having to worry about coughing fits and a good supply of tissues and watching her be miserable.

Fox opened his eyes, thinking he could hear the clinking of...coins? Dana must be going through her change purse or something. Or rearranging bottles of cosmetics.

"Fox?"

"Mmmm?"

"Is the bedroom door locked?"

"Yeah." That sounded promising... He looked over at the bathroom door. Still closed.

Dana continued, "You know how I've been going out with the girls on Monday nights?"

"Uh huh." Fox and Dana made sure they had nights out - both together and with their friends - as regularly as possible. She usually had her 'girls night' once a month or every few weeks, but recently - apart from flu-time - she had been going weekly, saying that one of her friends was leaving town soon so she wanted to see her as much as possible before the move.

"Well, we didn't actually go out just for coffee and catch-up."

"What do you mean?" Fox asked.

"Close your eyes and keep them closed until I tell you to, then you'll see."

That line had often been the start of some quite memorable sessions, so he did as told. He heard that clinking sound again and the bathroom door opened. He heard Dana moving towards the bed, accompanied by rustling and the clinking.

"Open them."

He did, to find his wife standing a few yards away in what he could only describe as a costume one of the dancers in '1001 Arabian Nights' would wear. A midriff top and long skirt with a belt of silver coins were visible under a length of sheer material that was wrapped around her body. All in shades of red.

"I took exotic dancing lessons," the vision before him said.

"Exotic dancing or *erotic* dancing?" Fox asked, his eyes growing larger in appreciation at the same rate that his mouth was going dry.

"You'll have to get back to me on that one." She moved gracefully towards their CD player while saying, "After your Elvis concert, I wanted to do something similar, but private. I was thinking about doing a torch singer act, but my singing voice is untrainable, as you know."

"Sounded great to me that night we were stuck in the forest with mothmen prowling around."

"What do you think kept them away?" She laughed and fiddled with the CD player. "I might mime to a smoky song, though. One day soon. But I saw an ad for these dance classes and I've always wanted to learn how to move like that. To do a veil dance. Between Mother's Day and Father's Day - and that damn flu - there wasn't much time for a lot of lessons, but I watched very carefully and practiced and I've always been a quick learner, especially when I'm motivated..." She raised an eyebrow at him and her finger hovered over the 'play' button.

"Bring it on."

She did. Fox just had time to notice that a pendant hung out of her hair, down onto her forehead, and that she was wearing heavier, more elaborate make up than usual, then the music started and Dana started moving, and his gaze was brought back below neck level. Could she ever move those hips! On the night of Mother's Day, the 'Elvis pelvis' move had been quite popular in the privacy of their room. This would be quite a payback.

The sheer material wrapped around Dana turned out to be a veil, which she sensuously removed partway into the dance, and brought into play, whirling it around. She also used it as a screen to dance behind and tantalize with. It was fitting - how their love had removed the layers that were between them.

He was entranced. By her body, by her gracefulness, by her beauty, by her spirit. The love and emotions in her eyes.

When the music stopped, his private dancer didn't. She moved up onto the bed and put the moves on him.

The End

Title: 15. Snapshots
Authors: Ten
Category: S; AU; MSR (married); some angst; some H Rating: High R for consensual adult situations (mostly dealt with in innuendo instead of great detail.) Summary: Dana and Fox celebrate ten years of marriage and think back over family memories.
Timespan/spoiler warning: This is set in Macspooky and my "Daniel/Couch" series. It can be read as a standalone. This series and universe diverted from the show after the events of "Emily" in the fifth season. Mulder and Scully have bred and wed, then bred some more. See the notes below if you want more explanation.

Note: This story is set in 2008, with Mulder and Scully looking back on ten years of marriage. Some plot threads from the 'between time' have been more fully dealt with in the other vignettes and stories or will be in ones that are still to be written. For example, the full tales of Maggie's second marriage (around 2006) and Sam's reappearance are in the 'still to be written' category.

In this alternate universe the woman that CSM brought to Mulder in the diner in 'Redux' was the real Samantha. Mulder is able to make contact with her again in 2000 and they reunite in 2001.

Maggie's remarriage: In 2005, Maggie meets up with Rob Harper again, someone she used to know in school. Rob was in love with her, but after high school she married Bill Scully. By the time she and Rob run into each other again, they have both lost their spouses and fall in love. It leads to marriage a few years later.

The usual sexual endurance disclaimer still applies here. Namely: The sexual endurance of this Mulder has been enhanced for the pleasure of Scully and the readers - and the writer. Don't expect this at home. We don't want to cause any unrealistic expectations re: males of around this age, but hey, it's nice to dream! And it is only fair to let them catch up with and make up for missing time.

FEEDBACK: Always great to know who's out there in the ether!

Thanks to: Mac, Gerry, Debbie, Suzanne, Vickie, Sally and Judie for all of the help. And to readers of this series sorry for the wait!

Disclaimer: The X-Files, the episodes referred to, Mulder and Scully and all other characters from the show belong to Chris Carter, the writers of the episodes, Ten Thirteen Productions and Fox Broadcasting, and are used without permission. No copyright infringement is intended, no profit will be gained. Characters not recognized from the show are mine or Mac's.


Summer 2008
Mulder Townhouse
Old Town, Alexandria
Evening

Fox wandered around the ground floor of his house, checking his watch. What was it with females? Both Dana and Sam were late. Dana had said she would come down in five minutes. That was fifteen minutes ago. Well, the next time that she wanted to 'come', he'd make her wait...

As he went through the hallway, Daniel appeared at the top of the stairs. "Mom says she'll be right down." Father and son exchanged knowing 'yeah, right' looks. Danny came down the stairs, the image of his father as a child, only with blue eyes. "Aunty Sam still isn't here?"

Fox shook his head. "I tried her cell, but it wasn't on." Maggie and her second husband, Rob, weren't due back from visiting his daughter for a few more days, so Sam was filling in as babysitter. Or childsitter, since the boys were no longer that young. Danny was nine, Brett was nearly seven years old and Keir was now six. Sam's husband and children were off visiting her in-laws at the moment, so she had offered her help for the night. "She can't be far off," Fox told his son.

"Hope not. I'm starving!"

"I know. Your brothers look like they're about to start eating the furniture. Or the pets. She's probably been held up at the take-out."

Danny took his mind off food long enough to notice his father's very dressy attire. "Wow, what's going on? I thought you were just taking Mom to the same place as usual."

"We are. But I thought it would be nice for both of us to dress up a little. We might go dancing later." Then Fox, after making sure the coast was clear, leaned over and whispered in his son's ear just why tonight was so special.

"It is? Wow!" Danny then endured a brief hair-ruffle. "So why aren't you taking *me* out?"

At that moment Dana appeared and the doorbell rang. Danny headed for the door and Fox was free to admire his wife. He held his hand out and she gracefully came down and took it. He only got the chance to give her a look to tell her how beautiful she was, because Sam came in, hauling bags of Chinese take-out. She was mobbed by the three Mulder boys, who were trying to snag the bags in amongst the greetings. Sam and the kids all talked at once while moving in the direction of the kitchen.

Sam blew her brother and sister-in-law a kiss on the way past and yelled over heads and the noise, "Sorry I'm late. Have a great time. I'll take care of them! Hey, that one's mine, not yours! I know, I'm famished too! Flukie, get out of the way!" she cried out as the dog joined the action.

"Mmmm, that smells great," Dana said, looking like she was tempted to stay home.

"Here, Mom!" Keir tossed her something just before the group vanished into the kitchen.

Dana caught the small object. A fortune cookie. She laughed and put it in her bag. Then she turned to her husband and indicated her cocktail dress. "Is this what you had in mind when you told me to wear something special?"

"Perfect."

Their wedding anniversary was in a few more days. Since it was the ten year milestone, they had decided to renew their vows, this time in a church wedding with family and friends present. Then everyone would go onto the reception and celebration.

When Fox and Dana had told their sons about these plans, Danny asked, "Does that mean you have another honeymoon? And do we get to come?"

"We will and you can come," Dana replied. "At the ceremony you boys can give me away too."

"We get you back though, don't we?" came from Brett. He said it in a joking tone, but looked momentarily worried. He had inherited Dana's more serious nature to a large degree, though he was tempering it more and more with shows of definite Mulder-wit. Who he had gotten his great singing voice from, however, was either a mystery or a throwback to a previous generation.

So Fox and Dana's decision to marry again had kept Dana busy with plans and preparations. But Fox insisted that tonight be kept free for the two of them to go out. "It'll be good for us to have a break before 'showtime'," had been his excuse, but he had other reasons. Today was also an anniversary of sorts for them. He was sure that it had slipped Dana's mind in the rush, and he looked forward to reminding her.


Restaurant

"And will Sir and Madam actually be staying for all three courses tonight?"

Fox grinned. "We'll do our best. You know how it is." They did. He and Dana often came to this restaurant to eat - it was one of their favorite places, not only for the excellent food, but for sentimental reasons. They looked forward to their nights out here, but sometimes they ended up cutting their visit short. It was never intentional, but being out on their own for the evening, knowing that the boys were being looked after... Well, a look or a touch could suddenly put them both in the mood for dessert... Their own brand of dessert. So they would hurry off to a nearby hotel room for the rest of their evening out. It wasn't like they couldn't afford the cost of the half-eaten meal or the hotel fee.

("Oh Fox, I feel so guilty - the chef is going to think we don't like his cooking!"

"Well, if you hadn't licked your spoon like that...

Drives a man wild.")

The restaurant staff - and the hotel staff - had gotten used to Mr and Mrs Mulder's visits. Their booth was always a secluded one, but close enough to the door for a quick getaway if needed. Fox knew for a fact that bets were placed at the restaurant as to how long the couple would 'last'. A few memorable times they had left even before the entrees arrived. And once before the *menus* had arrived...

Or he and Dana would just not show up at all and one or the other of them would breathlessly phone to cancel their reservation. "Um, something's...come up..." Indeed.

Though once when Brett and Keir were still very young, Fox had come out of the bathroom at their house, all dressed for the restaurant, to find his wife lying in her good clothes on top of the bed - sound asleep. He had stood there and smiled at the sight, then phoned the restaurant to cancel. That done, he went and told Maggie of the change of plan, then covered Dana with a blanket, kicked off his shoes and crawled in with her. Asleep within a minute. At least they'd get several hours of uninterrupted sleep with Maggie and Sam babysitting. The two women enjoyed each other's company, and Fox privately thought that Sam reminded Maggie a little of Melissa in personality.

Actually, the falling asleep part had happened more than once. Even in a cinema... With three boys so close together in ages, tiredness was a major factor in the early years.

And the cancellations or cut-short meals weren't always because of hormones. Sometimes duty called in the form of work, or in the form of crises with the boys...

Now, Dana and Fox settled in their booth, chatting about this and that. The menus came and they studied them thoughtfully. Or at least one of them was doing so.

"Dana."

She looked up at her husband, to find him gazing at her.

"Yes?"

He smiled and asked, "Marry me again?"

She stared at him. "Well, I *am* planning on doing just that very soon..." Then she realized. Today was an anniversary too - the ten year anniversary of his marriage proposal. And also ten years to the day that they had found out she was pregnant, that they were actually going to be parents, which had then led to his proposal that same day in this very restaurant. Now she knew why he wanted to go out tonight...

Dana blinked back tears and gave him a huge smile.

"Always, Fox. Always."

He leaned over and they kissed. When they parted, Dana touched Fox's face and looked deeply into his eyes.

"Uh uh. Don't give me that look, otherwise we'll be out of here in two minutes flat and we'll give another cook a complex," he warned.

Dana tried to tone her look down to 'demure'. Her husband knew he would get lucky tonight anyway.

After Fox's proposal ten years ago, Dana had bought tickets to the Elvis Chapel, much to his delight. But things did not work out as planned - they actually turned out better. The partners ended up in the Virgin Islands on a case and when the investigation fizzled out they went sightseeing and shopping. A shop assistant suggested they get married while there, and, the very next day, they did. The opportunity to get married in paradise was too good an opportunity to pass up.

Upon returning from the Virgin Islands and telling everyone they were married and pregnant, Fox and Dana had promised Maggie they would then do a 'repeat'. It ended up coming about in a completely unexpected way a few weeks later, when Fox came home from visiting the Gunmen to find his wife modeling her wedding dress for Maggie. The Scully women had been looking through the photos again. Dana kissed her husband in greeting and started describing to her mother what the ceremony had been like and suddenly Fox found they were both repeating their vows to each other while standing together in their living room, with Maggie the one crying with happiness instead of Dana. It felt just as real and meaningful as the first time, and from then on Fox, Dana and Maggie described it as their second marriage.

Now with the ten year anniversary approaching, they felt it was the perfect chance to have a third wedding. So Fox and Dana were going to take their sons, as well as Maggie and her husband, Rob, over to the Virgin Islands for the honeymoon. Then the Mulders were going to spend some of the summer traveling, since the boys were old enough to really remember and gain from the experience.

Though it remained to be seen whether the boys would appreciate the traveling or instead do something like constantly look for video arcades instead of the new sights...

Fox had told Dana they would do the Elvis Chapel for their fifteenth wedding anniversary. Or the next time they were over that way. She agreed.

The waiter came with their drinks. Mulder sat watching Dana. His lover and wife. And mother of not just one, not even two, but a hat trick of happy, healthy boys. He let his mind go back ten years in time.


1998

He couldn't stop staring at her.

Pregnant. She was pregnant. With his baby. They were going to be parents.

Okay, he was scared. But not 'she's got cancer she's going to die' scared. This was a good scared. He could deal with this.

This was the icing on the cake. Or the bun in the oven.

He'd knocked her up on the first go. She was three months pregnant. They had gotten through the 'danger zone' in the best way possible - total ignorance. There were still risks with any pregnancy after that period, but it was a relief to know they were over the first hurdle already. And things looked fine.

Mulder and Scully were holding hands as they walked. Normally they would not have been so open while out 'in the open'. Trying to keep their relationship a secret had been standard procedure.

But this news changed everything. They would tell Maggie and Skinner within the next few days. There was the risk that they would be split up at work, but Mulder had hopes that he could argue for an expansion of the X-Files division so he and Dana could still be in the same department.

To celebrate their good news, he took her to a very nice restaurant for dinner. "This is a step up from your usual, Mulder."

"You deserve it."

Scully admired their surroundings. Mulder admired her.

Three months as lovers.

They had not talked about marriage during that time. They had been too busy with work and enjoying their developing togetherness. Mulder and Scully knew how they felt about each other. Marriage was something that would be further off down the track, one day when their lives hopefully settled down...

Until this unexpected development.

But when should he ask? It had been on his mind ever since they had stumbled dazed and ecstatic out of the doctor's office. If he didn't do it soon, he'd be too nervous to eat...

Mulder took a very deep breath. "Dana?" She looked up. He often called her Dana now, but it was still 'new' enough to get her attention. He could see from the look on her face that she was wondering what was on his mind. "Will you marry me?" Nervous, he kind of blurted it out, but no one could doubt the sincerity and love behind his words.

She looked startled, then a beautiful soft smile lit up her face. "Yes." Practically immediate, there was no trace of uncertainty in her reply.

His lover, mother-to-be of his child, and now, fiancee. And he knew that she knew his proposal was not just because she was pregnant. The baby had just accelerated its timing. And that was not a bad thing.

They grinned at each other, hands meeting under the table and holding.

Dana ordered a larger meal for herself than usual. When their food was placed in front of them she set to hers with an appetite he had rarely seen in his partner outside of the bedroom. Usually she sort of picked, but now she demolished her courses with gusto. Mulder realized that it wasn't just cravings or 'eating for two', but because she was so happy. And he could tell she was enjoying it. All of which made him even happier.

However, since she wasn't used to eating like this and since she was still getting what they now knew was morning sickness, he had a feeling she wouldn't keep it down for long.

He was proven right, though fortunately Dana didn't lose her meal until later on at home.

Home was a two bedroom apartment in the same complex as Mulder's old one. He hadn't been able to stand No 42 Hegal Place anymore after the surveillance it had been under and the events that led up to him gaining the cure for Scully's cancer, so he had moved. Then six weeks after Scully and Mulder returned from Emily's funeral, Scully's apartment building burned down because one of her neighbors had a heart attack while smoking in bed. She moved in with Mulder, into his spare bedroom. It was supposed to be temporary, but one thing led to another...

And to a slight situation. Mulder thought about their boss. Skinner knew that they were living in the same apartment since the fire but he did not for sure that they were involved. Well, all because they were in the same living space it did not mean that they were lovers - not for the first while, anyway. Then when they did start sleeping together, they had been careful - both agents were professional at work, and found that Skinner did not pressure them for details. Scully privately told Mulder that their boss probably thought they deserved some happiness after all the crap they had endured. Rumors had always flown around about them being lovers since they were first partnered anyway.

And here Mulder and Scully were, engaged and pregnant all in the one day, it could be said.

On the way home they had passed a toy shop. Instead of being something that would create upsetting memories, toy stores were suddenly an Aladdin's cave, a joy. There was so much Mulder wanted to buy, but Dana restrained him - for the moment - down to a stuffed grey fox that she picked out.

Eventually bedtime came. Since Scully had lost her meal Mulder thought that she wouldn't feel like getting up to anything, and he knew he would be more than content just to lie there and hold. After so many years of rare, if any, touching, cuddling with his partner was bliss in itself. But he saw that she had slipped into a scanty lace teddy.

She smiled at him, her expression leaving no doubt as to what she wanted. "I thought I might as well put this on while I can still fit into it."

Mulder walked up to where she was standing, beside the bed. "I didn't go down on bended knee when I asked you to marry me..."

"I didn't mind. It was perfect as was."

He went down on his knees, up close to her, hands sliding

up her thighs to the teddy's lacework and the lower

fastenings. She shivered in response - a very good shiver

and pressed against his fingers. He spoke in a tone that set off even more shivers, "Well, now I have a different sort of proposal in mind..."

Her 'yes's flew thick and fast and loud.


2008
Restaurant

"Fox?"

"Sorry. Just thinking."

Dana gave him an x-ray look but then declined to comment.

Ten years...

She thought back to their first days as lovers. The first time they had sex was on a Saturday night. They didn't realize until the next day that they had wrecked Fox's leather couch in the process. So after more fun, this time in Dana's bed, they had gone couch shopping. After finding the perfect one, but while still in the store, Dana received a call on her cellular. She was being summoned to do an autopsy...


1998
FBI Headquarters

Scully got in her car and immediately phoned her partner.

"Mulder," he answered.

"It's me."

"Hey."

His voice had a quality to it that she knew she was responsible for. That made her smile.

"Have you finished?" he asked.

"Yeah. I'm about to come home." And it really was home now, instead of just Mulder's apartment, somewhere to stay while she looked for a place of her own.

When they ended the call, she realized how relieved she was that the autopsy had been so straightforward. There were no suspicious circumstances - the politician had suffered a heart attack.

She also realized just how much she was looking forward to getting back to the apartment. And not just for more of the pleasure that she and Mulder had shared today and that she had been initiated into last night...

When they had gone couch shopping she felt nervous. Where did she and Mulder go from here? She didn't want this to have just been a one-night-that-spilled-over-into-the-next-day stand. She didn't think that he did either, but neither of them had broached the conversation. He hadn't even said he loved her, although she knew he did. And vice versa.

So when Mulder located his perfect couch in the showroom and asked what she thought, she replied, "It's your apartment." And by his hurt expression at those words she knew for sure that her fears could be put to rest.

"It's *our* apartment, isn't it?" he answered.

Then she got the autopsy call.

He leaned down and kissed her goodbye. In public.

They knew, but they hadn't said the words out loud yet. Scully was determined to rectify that as soon as possible when she got home.

When she entered the apartment, she could smell a meal cooking. Mulder was a very good cook - mainly of breakfast, and she was better at dinners, so that was the way the cooking was usually shared. But from the smell Mulder was getting better at dinners, which was fair enough, as he was exercising his skill a lot now instead of relying on quick fixes like pizza delivery. There was reason to make the effort. It had been one of the ways in which he had helped her and shown that he cared after her own apartment burned down.

She got a few steps into the room and Mulder appeared. Immediately they met in the middle and kissed, then embraced. Their awkwardness of this morning was gone. "I missed you," Scully said.

"Not if you aim carefully," he replied with a chuckle, hugging her more tightly.

Neither was in a hurry to break the embrace. Scully realized that admitting how she felt just now had come easily. At last. She heard a sigh of contentment near her ear and raised her head to look at him. "I love you," came from both of them, at the same time.

Grins broke out on their faces.

"Definitely an X-File," she said.

"And definitely the truth," he said.

Scully returned her head to his chest, but not to hide or rest. Definitely not to rest. Instead her nose nuzzled at his t-shirt. She brought her hand up and pulled at the collar, exposing some flesh which she immediately set to with her lips, sucking along his collar bone.

She felt his knees move. Either they were buckling or he was squatting a little to give her more access.

"Scully... Oh, yes..."

She lifted her mouth long enough to be momentarily logical. "How long until the food's ready?"

"Um... Ten minutes... Or fifteen... I think..."

Scully debated whether or not this was likely to be the truth. Mulder probably wouldn't notice if his shoes were on fire at the moment. Oh well, what the heck. "Time enough for what I have in mind!"

It ended up that there was enough time. Then over dinner, relaxed and content, they talked intimately, revealing things to each other they never had before. That included opening up more about their feelings for each other and the first times each had realized they loved the other.

Then they showered together. The partners were enjoying soaping each other up when suddenly Mulder stopped.

"What's wrong?" Scully asked.

"You've... The tattoo."

Or rather, that there was no tattoo. Not anymore.

Scully could tell that for a second he was wondering if she was a clone, but there was clearly a red mark and rough skin where the image had been. The skin there would probably never be the same again, but that didn't matter.

"It didn't match who I was anymore. Perhaps it never did.

I broke the circle." That was all she said.

He had a puzzled look on his face, but she knew he was also relieved, although trying to hide it. She still wanted a tattoo, but had regretted that one very quickly and was glad to get rid of it. Next time she would choose something a lot more fitting and in much better circumstances.

"Oh. Okay." Mulder's eyes became contemplative. Contemplative and sexy... His fingers were caressing her skin.

"Now what?"

"Now we finish our shower and get dry, because I want to take you to bed and learn every inch of you."

"Every inch?" She could tell he was serious and she felt her voice waver a little with anticipation.

"Of course. Amongst other reasons, I want to know what spots cause the best reactions and from what you've told me, there's no map. So we're going to have to make one, and there's no time like the present to start."

He certainly accomplished what he set out to do. He explored her, the tips of her fingers, the nape of her neck, and so many other places that she wouldn't have thought would have been a turn on. His fingers, his hands, lips, tongue, nose...

Mulder was so patient and giving, not rushing for his own sake, in tune with her reactions and words, watching and listening and learning and experimenting. Slow and tender. But when required, hot and heavy.

She never knew she could feel so good...

Then when they were moving together she kept up her commentary, progressively louder, about how good he felt and how good she felt. His hands were on the small of her back and she could tell he could feel the contrast of smooth and rough skin. It sort of summed up their lives. But she only thought about that for a second. There was plenty else to keep her mind occupied.

Afterwards they lay there, Scully's head on what she had quickly dubbed her favorite pillow - his bare chest. "Mulder, I'm so happy. You make me so happy."

There was silence. For a second she thought he had fallen asleep, but then she realized that his heart was speeding up and his breath hitched underneath her ear. She raised her head and found he had tears in his eyes. The fact that he had made her happy impacted on him as much as her saying 'I love you'.

That next morning the alarm went off early. Mulder was not amused upon seeing the time, but then Scully showed him just why she wanted some leeway before they had to get ready for work. She wanted to start her own thorough map of his body, even if she could only learn the lie of some of the land before duty called.

"Turnabout is fair play. I'm a fast learner, and I picked up some things last night that I'd like to try my hand at today, so to speak."

At one point she had him lying on his front, with strict instructions not to move, and she was slowly and sensually making her way down his spine. Mulder was shifting and fidgeting, and not out of boredom. He went as if to roll over and quickly received a playful slap that halted the motion. "I told you not to move!"

He groaned and said, "But it's so hard... And I mean that literally! I swear, any second now my legs are going to pole vault clear over my head!"

Scully looked down and laughed. "Okay, you can get on your side and take some pressure off."

That didn't completely alleviate the problem, but it was a start.

And just in case they were already bored of the bed, the new couch and all the additional furniture that Mulder had bought as a surprise were delivered that night, so they had even more spots to get creative.


2008
Restaurant

'Get creative'. They certainly had... They'd made quite the career out of it, in fact.

Dana reflected on how 'get pregnant' had already been achieved by them during their first time together, but in those first few months they didn't know that. And when she had returned from autopsying the politician, their greeting just inside the doorway of the apartment started off a life-long habit of kissing each other hello (and often goodbye) no matter where in the house the other was at the time.

"Now you're awfully quiet," Fox said, putting down his glass. "Remembering anything good?"

"How could I not? You've given me quite a few good memories. And then there's the future to look forward to." That made her remember something. "Oh, Keir gave me a fortune cookie. Seems an appropriate time to open it." Dana dug it out of her handbag and withdrew the fortune. She read it, blushed bright crimson, and promptly doubled up in howls of laughter. Laughter that showed no sign of stopping. Tears were running down her cheeks.

Fox stared at her, then exchanged bewildered looks with the passing waiter. "I'm glad you didn't react like this to my marriage proposal. Either one of them. Did the boys pull a joke or boobytrap the fortune or what?"

Dana managed to push the source of such hilarity towards Fox. Eyeing her cautiously, he picked up the slip of paper, which had a sentence and a little, pale line drawing of a fortune cookie in the background. "This had better be good," he remarked.

It read: Enjoy the good luck a companion brings you.

Fox blinked. That was it. That was all?

Then he noticed the way that the drawing was placed made the l in 'luck' look like a different letter...

Oh. Ooooo...

He cracked up too.

"I do enjoy it. Very much!" Dana eventually managed to say.

His sides were aching. "We are a pair, aren't we, Mrs Mulder?"

"No argument there. Ten years..." Her eyes went to a treasured gift she had received one Mother's Day. A puzzle ring - four slim individual rings which together formed a full ring in a Celtic design. The boys and Fox had given it to her, a piece each. She thought about their sons - not so much about whether they were behaving for Sam at the moment though. Instead memories were popping up.

Fox was doing exactly the same. "Remember that night when..."


August 2005

Knock knock knock...

"Daddy!" son number two called out from the other side of the closed bedroom door.

"Daddy's in the middle of something..." Namely Mommy's legs. Fox tried to make his voice sound as normal as possible, which was no easy task. "What's wrong?"

"Can't sleep. I want a story please."

"Not yet... I'm telling Mommy a story... It's a grown up story," he elaborated hastily before his son forgot the 'no entering closed bedroom without permission' rule. If the door was locked, that wasn't a problem, but Fox couldn't remember if he had done so. It was a struggle to keep his voice from sounding breathless and somewhat strangulated. "Go back to bed....pick a book... and I'll be there."

Dana was lying beneath Fox, hand over her mouth, not so much as to hold back moans of pleasure as her howls of threatened laughter. The trouble was, her whole body was convulsing with mirth, which put considerable pressure on a part of his anatomy that was already having trouble acting as a stationary bookmark between the pages. It wanted to forge ahead with its favorite read.

Brett's voice was plaintive. "Will you come soon?"

"*Definitely*..." his father managed, even more plaintively.

"Okay..." Their son shuffled off down the hallway.

Then Dana, oh so sympathetic to her husband's plight, asked with admirable innocence considering her current state and position, "How does the story end, Fox?"

"Like...this..."

They very quickly arrived at their 'happily ever after'.

Dana's voice came in gasps. "Oh yes... I never get tired... of that story. It's got passion, excitement...action... and romance, and... nothing beats that climax... My hero!"

Fox reflected that it was his favorite bedtime story too. Though he could remember back when he and his wife didn't only 'read' it in bed. The couch, the hallway, the kitchen table...

But if 'selective reading' was the price of having children, then Fox happily accepted it. Besides, occasionally the boys were being minded elsewhere and the fun and games could resume, with literary endeavors all over the place.

He and Dana lay there, trying to decide who had enough energy to go get Brett back to sleep.

"He asked for you, not me," Dana reminded her husband, who was in danger of dozing off. She suggested, "Go read 'The Three Little Pigs'... You won't have to fake the huffing and puffing."


2008
Restaurant

"And you're still just as helpful. All the times that happened over the years..." Fox said.

"Poor baby," his wife said oh-so sympathetically.

Fox thought of the number of times that he'd been sitting in his armchair reading the paper, and then a little round face would appear at his shoulder, one of his sons wanting 'up'. So he'd settle the boy in his lap and his son would usually fall asleep, meaning that it would then take ten minutes to try to quietly and gently turn the page so not to wake him. Or Fox wouldn't dare try, so he would instead have to read the same articles ten times over or - more enjoyably - sit and watch the peaceful angel face.

Or his sons would want to be read to, or read to him. Sometimes one would come up, then another, then the other and there would be no room for the paper. Dana would find him covered in napping children and wriggling his toes to keep the circulation going in his legs.

But often if she went to pick any of them up to put them to bed, he would tell her it was okay.

And there were the times where he hadn't locked the bedroom door and during the night had decided to see if his wife felt like some ardent adventures...only to find one or more of the boys curled up asleep between them. It had certainly killed off any amorous intent.

He mused over those events while chatting and eating. While he and Dana were waiting for their next course, he started to say, "Hey, remember when we had that argument over whether -" He stopped at the look she gave him. "What?"

"Fox, let's stick to happy memories tonight, especially since it's the anniversary of what turned out to be such a wonderful day."

"Sure. Sorry," he said with a mock-contrite pout.

She laughed. "What about that Sunday morning..."


Late 2007

Dana stretched happily as she came downstairs. Fox had insisted that she have a lie in and long bath this morning, while he took care of the boys. Her sense of languidness wasn't just from the bath.

She could hear the television going in the living room, the door of which was closed, and she went into the kitchen to find her husband at the table with the newspaper.

Fox looked up with a smile. "Good morning."

"It certainly is." Dana put her arms around him from behind and said sultrily, "Though I'm surprised you can speak after the workout you gave your tongue last night."

Keir popped up from under the table, a headband and feather adorning his head. "Did you talk a lot last night, Daddy?"

"Yes, son," Fox said smoothly, despite Dana being so startled that her draped arms nearly put him in a chokehold. "I was in a very... conversational mood."

Keir frowned disapprovingly. "Didn't you let Mommy talk?"

"Yes, but she was in a more... receptive mood. She wanted to listen. A lot." Fox sipped at his orange juice to cover his growing grin.

"Oh, that's okay then. 'Cause that can be rude." Having said his piece, their son disappeared back under his teepee tablecloth.

"I'm sure some people would consider what we did very rude indeed," Fox whispered into his wife's ear, smirking all the while.

Dana tightened her hand on her husband's shoulder and hissed in his ear, "You didn't tell me that small children were present!"

"Like you gave me warning that you were in a corruptive frame of mind?"

And like she had done a headcount of the boys before opening her mouth...


2008
Restaurant

"Actually, you were the vocal one on the night in question, Dana," Fox reminded her with the same look of smugness he had been wearing at that time.

"Don't talk with your mouth f-" she started to fire back, then stopped, realizing that she was getting herself in even deeper.

"Exactly. And there have been plenty of other times..."


Early 2003

Dana was watching Danny playing with a friend's little girl, Jemma.

Jemma said to him, "My daddy calls Mommy 'Sweetiecakes' and 'Honey'."

"I've heard my daddy call my mommy 'Scully'," Danny replied.

Jemma wrinkled her nose. "That's a funny name."

Danny shrugged, intent on loading his toy pick up truck. "It was her name before she married Daddy. Sometimes she calls him 'God' or 'my God'."

Dana reported the conversation to her husband a few hours later, once she had recovered somewhat.

After Fox finished choking and spluttering, he said, "That's it. I *told* you we should get our bedroom soundproofed!"

"And as I told you, no soundproofing has yet been invented that blocks outgoing noises but doesn't block incoming. If one of the boys calls out because he's sick or having a nightmare or wants something or is at our door, I want to be able to hear him. Danny's too old for a baby monitor now and the others will be soon enough. We're just going to have to be quieter."

"I thought we were!"


2008
Restaurant

They had nearly finished their meal by this stage. Dana looked at Fox. "You're not exactly blameless either, you know."

He said, "I suppose you're going to provide evidence?"

"You know me well. Even just last week, for example..."


Fox and Dana's bedroom

Dana answered the phone. It was her brother, Bill. They were still chatting five minutes later when Fox entered from the connecting bathroom, dripping and clad only in a towel. When he realized who the caller was, a very evil expression came over his face. Her husband went over and locked the bedroom door.

Uh oh...

Fox then proceeded to dry himself in front of her - firstly by a spot of flashing, giving her glimpses of bare thigh, bare ass... All the changes in wind currents from flapping that towel around would probably give him a chill. And it would serve him right.

Dana continued talking to Bill while watching Fox. It was like a game or a challenge - her trying to hold onto her professionalism and her end of the conversation while Fox did increasingly erotic acts with the towel, brazenly trying to crack her composure (and putting on a very nice show at the same time). She had to watch him, because not only was he very watchable indeed, but this was part of the challenge. If she did not maintain her composure or eye contact - with any part of him - he had won.

There was no doubt about it. Her husband was the embodiment of the lyrics: "Sexy baby, you drive me crazy."

She managed to keep her outer cool, but her tongue and throat were dry by the end of the conversation. Other parts of her were the opposite...

She put the phone down then wiped the smug grin off Fox's face (and as a bonus parched her thirst - on many levels) by throwing him to the floor and giving him a thorough tongue lashing, making sure that she caught every annoying little rivulet of water that the towel had missed on his top half, then she brought his rampant swelled ego back down to size while taking care of her own needs.

A phrase that she had heard on a TV show once, as part of a song, popped into her mind. "Come melt into me..." Very apt description. Physics might say it was impossible, but physics was not married to this man.


2008
Restaurant

Dana was warming to her subject. "Not to mention the time -"

"Then why are you mentioning it?" her husband asked wryly and rhetorically.


2000

While getting ready for bed, Fox was still fuming about their next door neighbor's actions. "I can't believe he just chopped the elm like that, without getting help - it's bad enough that he brought down the fence. He could have got our house. Hell, he could have hit Danny!"

Dana was trying to be patient. "Fox, he did it on a day when he knew we were all away for the weekend. It's only a *section* of the fence. It can be replaced." Though the thought of Danny possibly sitting there playing at the time... But he wasn't, and with everything that had happened and was happening on the X-Files front this year, dealing with the fence was something blessedly normal. "Yes, he should have got professionals in to do it -"

But her husband was off again. Even when they were under the covers and lying on their sides, holding, he kept grizzling about the irresponsibility and the damage and what he would have done in their neighbor's shoes. He was too distracted to notice his wife wriggling and shifting about.

"And another thing - mmmmph!" Fox found himself gagged, or rather 'stoppered'. His wife had just put the business end of one of her breasts in his mouth in a perfectly executed maneuver. "Hrmpgh, mmmmm..." His surprise and indignance faded amazingly quickly and he did not waste the presented opportunity, forgetting all about the fence.

Dana tried not to sound smug. "I figured it used to work with our son, it works with you...oooohhhh, and it *definitely* works for me!"


2008
Restaurant

"All that proves is how shameless *you* are," Fox insisted. "And speaking of which..."

"Uh oh. I knew this one would come up sooner or later."

"Which?"

"The Saturday morning when I was pregnant with Brett and armed with nail polish."

"That's the one."


Spring 2001
Around 6.30 am

Exhausted, Dana quietly padded back into the main bedroom. Danny had been waking up every few hours and it had taken a lot to settle him down again each time. The night had been unseasonably hot for this time of year, so whether that was a factor or their toddler was having nightmares or just going through a phase, she and Fox couldn't tell for sure.

Or perhaps Danny wasn't happy about the talk that a baby was on the way, seeing it as competition instead of a future playmate... Dana touched her abdomen. The baby was starting to show. His influence in the cleavage department certainly was in evidence too.

She beheld her husband. He had gone for a run at dawn before the temperature increased, then had a shower and returned to bed. Fox was lying on his back, sound asleep, wearing only lime green boxer shorts. He looked adorable.

Daniel had chosen those boxers. Dana had taken him into a department store to choose a birthday gift for his father last year, and Danny's eyes were caught by the color. Trying to convince him to at least pick boxers that were a more conservative color, Dana found that her gentle coercions were met by utter stubbornness and the promise of a major temper tantrum.

Gee, who could he possibly have inherited that from?

They had ended up getting the boxers. Then for Christmas Fox 'retaliated' by 'helping' their son choose a bottle of nail polish for her, in that very shade of green.

A lot had happened in 2000: the destruction of the Consortium and Fox nearly dying in the process, saving the world 'on the quiet' with the rebel aliens and those 'good' aliens going to war with the other aliens far away in space. Those were just a few of the events... So it had been nice to have some light relief at Christmas that year. Early this year the X-Files division had found out for sure that the aliens who had planned on colonization were no longer a threat. The rebel aliens who defeated that faction had decided to leave Earth alone. Also there was now a vaccine that provided lifetime immunity from the black cancer.

And then Samantha came back into Fox's life...

Dana stood in the bedroom, barefoot and pregnant, and pulled her mind from its wandering back to the situation at hand. She found herself thinking how funny it would be if she painted her husband's nails lime green to match his boxers. Not his fingernails - his toenails. Payback of sorts.

Fox would hardly sit still for that, but she could see he was in his hour or so of deep 'dead sleep'.

Before she had time to think about what she was doing and come to her senses, Dana made sure she had enough light to work by, and went to it. As she expected, Fox slept through her ministrations. The end effect was amusing and very cute. She took a photo and was soon back in bed. This time she hoped that Danny would keep sleeping. She was exhausted.

She also couldn't wait to see the look on her husband's face...

She didn't know how much later it was that she heard Fox's gentle voice. "Dana? Dana..."

Still at least eighty percent asleep and having temporarily forgotten her little joke, she murmured, "Mmmm?"

"Skinner called. He wants me at work for an hour or two.

No big deal. I've got time to feed Danny before I go. Beth's fine to have him for a while. You enjoy a sleep in, love. You need it." Fox was ecstatic that he was going to be a father again.

"Mmmm..."

Dana felt his lips on her cheek. His hand gently brushed through her hair. She went back to sleep.

A while later she drifted near the edge of wakefulness. Memories floated past her. Painting Fox's toes. Fox saying he was going in to work...

Dana's eyes flew open and she yelled in alarm, "Fox, you've got green toes!"

The bedroom was empty. "Oh no..." She got up and went to check if Fox was still around. No, he was gone - he'd left a note to confirm where he was and where their son was. The car was gone too, which meant that he had already dropped Danny across the road at their neighbor's house and left.

Dana looked at the phone. Fox couldn't have noticed his toes this morning, otherwise she was sure she would have heard about it.

But what was the point of phoning him and telling him? No one was going to see her handiwork. She would 'fess up' when he got home.

After going to the bathroom she had some breakfast then went and collected Daniel.

Upon returning, she saw the light flashing on the answering machine. She pressed play. Danny reacted happily to his father's voice, which said, "Hi hon! Was able to sort things out quicker than I thought. I'm going to have a swim here, so I'll see you at around -"

Dana tuned out at that point. Horrified, she looked at her son. Oblivious, Danny kept eating the Popsicle that Beth had given him.

Oh, not the FBI pool! Daddy is going to divorce me... Dana thought. Though not if I catch him in time!

She swung into action but couldn't raise Fox on either his cellular or desk phone or any other likely avenue. Agent Coffrey from their division was going to try to find him quickly, but it was probably too late. Fox must already be at the pool. So instead of prevention, she would have to go into damage control.

Though hopefully Fox would see the color while removing a sock and be able to quickly put the sock back on and pretend that he had changed his mind about a dip.

But she knew her husband's luck didn't usually hold up that well.

Perhaps he HAD noticed the polish and his phone message was part of a diabolical revenge.

But it wasn't his style to do that to a pregnant woman.

Still, he was going to be pissed.

Yep, definitely damage control. Time to plan. Thank God Mom was coming soon to take Danny to a picnic with some of her friends.

Eventually all was ready - including the bottle of polish remover on the sideboard and their son safely away from the house - when Dana saw her husband stomping down their back garden path from the garage. Quickly she went into the living room.

"Dana!" Fox bellowed as he entered the house.

"In here!"

Fox came to the living room doorway, his face dark. Dana lay on the couch in an extremely suggestive pose, wearing a nightgown that was very very short and very very translucent. It also highlighted her burgeoning breasts.

Husband was unmoved. "Do you think *that's* going to make amends?"

"I guess I should have chosen the French maid outfit instead."

"Don't change the subject."

"But it's my favorite subject..." She pouted playfully.

"Dana, you painted my toenails. Not just that, but you painted them *lime green*."

"Well, that's more masculine than Barbie pink! Lime green could be your signature color. I didn't know you would have to go in to work today! Or that you'd then decide to take a swim, today of all days! Didn't you realize when you took your socks off?"

"There are days when everything in the universe seems to conspire against me. Today was one such day," Fox said. "This morning I dressed in the dark to avoid waking you or Danny. When I got out into the kitchen I just made sure that I hadn't put on odd socks or shoes. Then Pete Chapman and I were talking in the locker room while we got changed, so I didn't notice my Kermit the Frog feet."

Dana was trying very very hard not to laugh.

"As I was walking out alongside the pool, Pete and I were still talking. I could see that I was getting some attention -"

"You usually do when you wear your Speedos, big boy..." she couldn't help saying with a purr.

Fox ignored that and continued on with dignity, "Then I could hear snickers but didn't know what was going on. I thought that maybe you'd left some scratches on my back or a hickey on me or something. I wish that were all. Then I got up on a block to dive into the water, found myself looking at a pair of lime green toenails and realized they were mine. Not only that, but as I was in my red Speedos, I looked very festive! Too bad it's not Christmas!"

"Oh Fox, I'm so sorry..."

"You will be. I'm sure this is in the top ten of things you're supposed to never, ever do to your husband."

She borrowed his puppy dog pout. "I'm pregnant. My

hormones -"

"Dana, pregnant women get strange cravings for food, and in your case, sex. Toenail painting doesn't fall under either of those categories. And that excuse does not get you off the hook."

"But as you can see, I'm ready to be chastised." She ran a hand over her thigh and the curve of her behind, and battered her lashes at him invitingly.

Fox folded his arms. "Tom Colton was at the pool. Of all people."

"Fox, please come here." She hoped he would. He was right about her craving for sex while pregnant -she did get very horny. If he'd just... It would kill two birds with one stone.

He kept glaring at her from the doorway. "I'm not in the mood. I've got to go upstairs and de-lime my toes. And for the rest of my career I'll have to put up with J Edgar Hoover jokes..."

Dana then decided to get even more devious. As the lyrics of a song went, "I love it when you do that thing you do." Well, Dana promptly did a raunchy little move that always got her husband's attention. This was no exception.

"Don't do that..." His voice started off angry then got very distracted. Early on in their marriage he had told Dana that when she did that move, his sperm always started queuing up to leave.

"Don't do what? This?" She did it again.

"Dana..."

"All's fair in love and war. I don't want to make war with you, Fox. I want to make love. Besides, you haven't given me a kiss yet... Come on. You just need to get over this bad mood. I'll make you forget all about it."

She proceeded to make her husband so mellow that afterwards she was able to remove all traces of lime paint from his toenails with the same ease that she had removed all traces of grumpiness from his expression.


2008
Restaurant

Fox looked at his wife. "You were SO lucky with that one."

Dana grinned at him. "When you woke up, you looked down at your toes and I could tell by the expression on your face that I'd shagged you so well and thoroughly that you couldn't even remember if you'd just dreamed about the lime nails or not!"

"True. Though I knew I hadn't on the Monday morning when I arrived at work."

She decided that a subject change was in order. "Oh, what about the time that Danny..."


Early 2003

It was open day at a school near where the Mulders lived. Dana and Fox took Danny along for a looksee, planning ahead for the beginning of their son's school education, while the younger boys were being babysat for a few hours.

In the large, toy filled kindergarten room, Dana went over to examine an exhibit made by this year's students. Danny's attention was caught by a colorful mural on one of the walls and he 'dragged' his father over to it. Fox picked his son up to give him a better look. Dana could hear them talking about it.

A pretty young woman approached father and son. Dana could see that she was wearing a name tag - a teacher. And even from halfway across the room, Dana could see that the teacher was clearly taken by Fox's looks. If she had to profile the teacher's mind at the moment, she would bet the woman was hoping that this guy would enroll his son so she would get to keep seeing him. And probably also hoping he was divorced or single... Fox's wedding ring was currently out of sight, on the arm he was using to hold their child.

Dana began to make her way over to them, having to navigate around some toys and a table and a few kids playing on the floor.

"I'm Fox Mulder," Fox said, extending his free hand. "And this is Daniel." In adorable imitation of his father, Danny stuck his hand out for the teacher to shake.

The young woman nearly melted on the spot. Two males who were not only handsome, but beautifully mannered. She practically cooed, "And what does your father do, Daniel?"

"He makes Mommy very happy!"

This loud and proud declaration was of course heard by the entire room.

"Lucky Mommy..." said a woman who was sitting at a dollhouse with her daughter.

"He does all right too!" Dana couldn't help replying on her way past.

Fox heard her, and his grin became even wider. "I'm not complaining..."


2008
Restaurant

"One of the best long term careers I've had in my life," Fox said. "That and fatherhood, of course."

Dana smiled. "And I tied them in together - happiness and parenthood."

"That you did."


Late December 1998
Mulder Apartment

Sleep-deprived but extremely happy, Fox returned from a trip to the store and found the reasons for those emotions were currently in an armchair. His wife was nursing their three-day-old son.

Fox put down the groceries, shed his coat and gloves, then went over to give her a kiss and stroke Danny's head. He squatted down next to the armchair and watched them. "How do you do that?"

Dana raised an eyebrow at him. "Do what?" she asked.

"Breastfeed?"

"No. It's just that every time I think that you can't possibly get any more beautiful than you already are, you prove me wrong."

She blinked, surprised. Having given birth so recently, beautiful was probably the last thing she felt.

Fox reached out to touch her face and then Danny's tiny fingers as he explained. "I've always thought that you were a very beautiful woman. Then when we first became lovers, I thought there was nothing more beautiful than how you looked when we were... You know." He grinned at the memories, even though there would be no more of that for weeks. "Before, during and after. And when you'd arrive home and come over to kiss me. Then when we got married and you were standing on the beach in that dress... When Danny was showing I thought you couldn't possibly top that. I should have known better. Seeing you with him now..."

They kissed gently, careful not to squash their still-feeding son between their bodies.

Dana smiled at her husband. "I've got a theory."

"Oooo. About?"

"How I became pregnant against all odds."

Fox thought he already knew her theory. The scientific side of her would say it was a random ovulation of an egg that had fortunately avoided collection or sterilization. The religious side of her would say it was a miracle or gift from God. He had always thought she viewed Daniel's conception as a mixture of both.

But once again his wife surprised him.

"When we got together for the first time, I think that our love was so strong that it had to physically manifest itself - and I don't just mean as in the incredible orgasms we gave each other," she clarified with a grin, then became serious again. "We hadn't verbally said the words at that stage, but we knew what we felt. Our love was too great to be contained just by the two of us, so it took physical form. And here he is."

"I like that theory. I like it a lot," Fox said quietly, barely trusting himself to speak.

It looked like Dana was feeling as emotive. Her eyes were bright as she fixed them on the baby. "And since I had Danny, I realized the truth of something that Mom told me a long time ago. You remember how I killed that garter snake with the BB gun when I was a girl?"

Fox nodded. Maggie had told him a long time ago, but Dana also had brought up the incident herself in the intervening years.

Dana continued, "I felt awful. I was so upset at the time and nothing Mom said could comfort me. I told her that I was horrible for what I did and that I knew there was no way she would forgive me or love me anymore. Mom replied that I was her daughter and that she would always love me."

His wife blinked hard, her voice becoming more choked. "I understand now. I love Danny because he's my son and because I didn't think I'd be able to have a baby, but I love him even more because he's yours. Ours." Tears were running down her face as she looked at her husband again.

He reached out and held his family.


2008

Fox and Dana were leaving the restaurant. The staff almost gave them a round of applause for making it through to the end of the meal. Dana had made sure to put the fortune cookie message in her bag ("I want to get it framed and put in our bedroom to commemorate this special day.")

She knew that Fox had made plans for the rest of their evening, so she waited in anticipation to find out what they were. Between courses at the restaurant she had phoned home to see if everything was all right, which it was.

Her husband took them to a hotel that was not their usual one. Their usual had been the nicest one nearest to the restaurant, or the closest after that depending on vacancies. This was more of a drive and more upscale. And they were escorted up to a luxury suite. Dana and Fox usually had overnight bags in the car on those nights out, knowing how handy they would become during their hotel visits. So the bellboy put those bags down now and exited.

Dana stared around the suite. It was beautiful and filled with flowers. She gave her husband a hug then asked impishly, "And what would you have done if I'd turned down tonight's proposal?"

"Thought that you'd come to your senses at last?" he joked. "I told the boys that I might be taking you dancing tonight. When they ask where we went after eating, we can say that we *did* go dancing. There's a stereo over there with a selection of music I think you'll approve of."

They spent time dancing close and barefoot on the carpet, laughing and enjoying the intimacy, before close became closer and things started smoldering. Fox had already arranged for a 'wake up call' to prevent them becoming late just in case they fell asleep afterwards.

"Ten years," Dana said as they slipped between the sheets.

"Ten years..."

"And you haven't gotten bored with me?"

"Bored?" He looked affronted at the very suggestion.

"Well, you know every inch of me..." she pointed out.

"I could never be bored with you or by you. Especially after not being able to touch you for so long... Or being able to show you how I felt..." His hands and lips were on the move, to appreciative noises. "And I'll never be sick of hearing you make that noise, and know that I'm the one responsible for it. Any requests?"

She told him precisely what she wanted.

"If that's your plan, I'm your man."

"That is my goal, Fox in the hole!"


2001
A Saturday in Winter

Dana lay on the living room couch, reading while Danny played on the floor. The morning sickness hadn't been too bad today, but she was taking it easy anyway. She and Fox had gone to the doctor's earlier in the week, where the pregnancy was confirmed. So far, so good.

And to top off what was already an incredible week, Fox had received a phone call from his sister. During the Consortium's defeat and destruction in 2000, Fox found out for sure that the woman the Cigarette Smoking Man had brought to him in the diner when Dana had cancer really was Samantha. This time Fox was also able to get her location. He made contact with her again, but just like in their meeting at the diner, she was frightened and reluctant to re-establish a relationship with him. Fox left his contact details with her, upset but relieved to know that she was alive and had a family. That quest had been fulfilled, even if not quite in the way he had envisaged.

Dana lowered her magazine and watched Danny play, while thinking about how Samantha had phoned a few days ago. Events had made Sam re evaluate her decisions to shut her brother out of her life. She and Fox talked for an hour and Sam wanted to meet him when she came back to D.C. early in the next week. She was still somewhat nervous and uncertain, especially since it was bringing so many emotions and memories to the surface, but it was a start.

When Danny was a baby the X-Files division had been expanded, which proved very useful when the whole alien factor came to a head over the last year. One of the new agents was a man in his early thirties called Sebastian Bahnsen. 'Bastian' was a friend of the Gunmen and on the same wavelength as Fox when it came to the paranormal, but without his burden of guilt and 'rush in and worry about the consequences later' approach.

Fox and Dana came to trust him and have a great working relationship with him. Fox had found his perfect successor - as well as someone to hang out with and shoot the breeze (and basketballs).

Lately the Mulders been spending time on consults and training of X-Files agents while Bastian and Co took care of the day to day running of the division. Dana had made sure there was also a nice balance of scientists in the division. They were all still monitoring the alien situation, among other things.

The paranormal now had more credibility than it used to, validated at last, though the average citizen had no idea just how close they had come to being colonized. Grateful people in power knew just how important the X-Files were.

The Mulders were planning on moving fully into consulting work, contracted to the FBI and other appropriate government agencies. The X-Files Division would certainly call on them when needed, and they could still keep a finger on the pulse of the X-Files through Skinner and Agent Bahnsen and the other agents. The Mulders could take on private cases if they wanted. Contracting provided them with needed flexibility.

Fox and Dana did not have to work such relentless hours a week anymore, apart from rare occasions that could not be avoided. Family came first - they wanted to raise their miracles themselves and enjoy this time and what they had been given, especially now that they had made sure their children's future was a lot safer and had answers to quests that had driven them for years. They could sleep in instead of saving the world or sacrificing.

Now that their family was growing, Dana was cutting back her hours even more. She was going to see how the consulting went. Part time autopsy work was an option, as well as journal articles, which she could produce from home.

Dana was just about to get up and take Danny upstairs for his nap when she heard her husband come in the back door. He entered the living room. Danny immediately held his arms up and the toddler was scooped into his father's grasp for a hug. Fox came over and kissed her with Danny perched on his hip. "How are you feeling?"

"Okay."

Their eyes were shining. Pregnant again. Another baby.

Danny pressed his father into service with his block building before Dana could tell Fox that their son had missed his usual nap time so should be put to bed now. But a few minutes of father-son time wouldn't hurt. Fox sat on the floor and followed his son's lead. While doing so, he looked over at Dana and told her that he had been talking to their next door neighbor, Peter Stanton, who had the other half of the duplex. "He said that he's been offered a better position at his Seattle branch. He and Mary are thinking seriously about it. They've got family there and he said it would be good for the kids."

"When do they have to decide? It sounds good, but they were great neighbors - yes, apart from the tree-dropping incident. I hope our luck holds out with the next ones..."

Fox smiled. "Well, I've got an idea on that count... But to answer your question, they've got until next Thursday to yay or nay."

"And my next question is, what's going on in that head of yours?"

"We've got a growing boy with another on the way. And perhaps a third soon after, if that vision you had comes true," he said, bringing to her mind what she could remember of her strange dream a week ago, by the end of which she had realized she was pregnant again. "We'll need more room. Perhaps not straight away while the kids are young, but it would be good to have that option. We could get a bigger house somewhere, or..."

"We could buy the other half of the duplex," she finished.

"Exactly. Well, we both love this place, and it would be handy. We wouldn't have to go through the stress and upheaval of moving! Just renovation... If we expanded through into the other half, the kids could have a room each, and we could have a study each, which could double as bedrooms for visitors. A bigger backyard..." The Mulders could afford a mansion, but they had no need or desire for one.

Dana nodded as she considered. "I like the sound of that... You're not just a pretty you-know-what."

He smirked. "Be worth it to make sure that we don't get any more trees dropped on us. And there's something else to be considered if we did buy it. For starters, while the kids are little, we could just put a door through on each level to the other half, so that they would still be two self-contained homes. Then Mom could stay there whenever she wants, or Sam, or whoever is on babysitting duty, especially when it comes near your due date. And if we do end up with three kids very close together, I have a feeling Mom will want the option of being at close quarters on occasions while they're very young so that you aren't in a permanent state of exhaustion."

"Or you, Mr Sensitive New Age Man."

"Hey, you carry them around for so long and then have to give birth... Least I can do is my share."

"Too bad they haven't worked out a way to make a man produce breastmilk..."

"You shoved a bottle my way at 2.00 am often enough, woman, and I'm sure will continue to do so."

As Dana had once noted, when Fox got laid regularly, he became a much nicer person. But there was more to it than that. His tendency to be self-absorbed at times shrank back an amazing degree once he and she had admitted their love and acted on it, able to talk openly and honestly, at last allowed to express their feelings without fear or guilt or backing away.

And it went both ways. Her own character flaws and stubborn denial had also reversed. Fox had opened her up in many ways...

Speaking of which...

When Dana sat up, he said, "Are you feeling sick again?"

"No. Not sick. If you can put Danny down for his nap, I'll be waiting for you in the bedroom... And I really feel like doing page 32."

That was their sexual shorthand, like a code. She watched Fox mentally flick through the pages of their favorite sex guide and land on the position she wanted. He whistled appreciatively. "Son, I hope you're ready to go down, because Daddy would like to go down too, with Mommy..."

He picked Danny up. Danny promptly sensed that bedtime was imminent and started crying. The way he was crying told them both that he was overtired, and that he wasn't about to go down without a fight. Or rather, a tantrum.

As Fox took him upstairs, she could hear her husband saying, "I know you don't want to go to bed. You must think it's very boring. But believe me, kid, when you get older, going to bed takes on a whole new meaning!"


2008

They had ended up buying the other half of the duplex and still lived in that house.

Now Fox and Dana were driving home from the hotel. "Did you enjoy tonight, babe?" he asked.

"Well, I certainly fitted a lot in..." She gave him a good leer, then laughed.

"The fortune cookie was right - enjoy the good luck a companion brings you. We both got lucky!"

Dana shook her head in amusement. A little while later they started talking about their sons. A comment of Dana's led to Fox saying, "Are you insinuating that my kids are badly behaved?"

She smiled. "They're boys. And they're your boys! Some chaos at least is a given. They do have their good points, of course."

"Which they all get from you, no doubt?" Fox asked in a studiously casual tone.

Dana gave him a look. "Well, they've all got good timing. Even before they knew how to tell the time! Danny being born on Christmas Day. Brett having your sense of timing when it comes to telling jokes. As for Keir..." She thought back and smiled.

"Right from birth..."

"And he has always been your shadow. I think that's because you're the first thing he saw. Imprinted."


2002
Main bedroom

Fox came in quietly from Brett and Danny's rooms, careful not to make much noise shutting the door. "They're both asleep," he reported about their three-year-old and eleven-month old.

"Good." Dana looked at her large abdomen. "And hopefully this one will decide to follow their examples so that I can get some too."

Having two babies under one-year-old as well as a preschooler was going to be a handful. But they definitely weren't going to send this one back on that count.

Fox was still consulting and enjoying it. He needed such an outlet for his drive to solve puzzles and investigate and use his skills, while also allowing him to be there for his family instead of working a zillion hours a week or being away on field trip after field trip.

Occasionally he did some lecturing and was popular - his style and passion for his subjects were a welcome change for those attending his presentations. That was the consensus regardless of whether the audience were agents-in-training or college attendees. One of the students told him he should write a book on the paranormal. Fox thought he might somewhere down the track.

Dana was having time off for now. With three children so close together she wanted to raise the kids without doing a big juggle while they were young and so time-consuming. Journal articles could still be factored in though. Like with Fox's lectures, they went down well. There would also be an occasional autopsy so she would stay certified and keep her hand in. Being so good at them was another reason, as well as providing an outlet for her own desire to investigate and solve puzzles. When their children were older she could go back into consulting or part time in the autopsy bay. And her husband still relied on her opinions and knowledge with his consults.

That was the plan, anyway. As usual, they would see how things went and take it from there. Adaptability was the key. Fox had even remarked that if Dana found she wanted to get back into work quicker than they had anticipated, then he could stay home and try to write the paranormal book, instead of 'waiting until retirement to do it'. Dana had replied that him alone in the house with three kids would equal no book... He'd be lucky to get one chapter done by the time they were all in school. Not to mention the mess the house would be in. But the thought had counted.

"I'm going to tiptoe downstairs for a snack. Any cravings?" Fox asked, watching Dana try to get her little body and huge abdomen comfortable in the bed.

"Just for sleep."

"I might watch some TV for an hour or so, then I'll come up, okay?"

"Okay, but if anyone howls, you're on duty."

"Yes, ma'am." He picked up the baby monitors.

Fox went downstairs and got his snack, then promptly fell asleep in the living room while watching the History Channel. He went into his dead sleep. When Danny was still a baby, Dana had fretted about what might happen while Fox was in this state. "What if the baby starts to choke and you're the only one in the room with him?" But Fox had reassured her that although his dead sleep was very deep, something seemed to kick in if major trouble threatened, and he would wake up. And so it proved, especially when it came to the kids. Parental 'disaster prevention' radar. When told of this, Byers reminded him of the time when Fox had slept through Daniel needing a diaper change. "He was letting out a racket, but you didn't get up."

"That's easy. He wasn't in danger. Subconsciously I knew that you three Stooges were there and that you'd do it. Though if you'd let him scream for much longer, I would have woken up."

"Now you tell us."

And so it also proved when some nephews had taken advantage of the dead sleep to start tying Fox up, saying they were playing cowboys and Indians. As Fox explained to Dana later: "On some level I knew that (a) it was only kids tying me up, not a madman, and (b) that you were in the house so I wouldn't be at their complete mercy or stuck if anything happened, like a fire."

Fox woke up with a start. Living room. TV on. He stared at the clock, absently noting it was about thirty minutes since he had come downstairs. What was -?

Dana was screaming his name.

Oh God, Dana, the kids...?

Fox raced upstairs, still somewhat disorientated. Dana's yells were coming from the main bedroom. He burst in. Dana was alone, hunched on the bed.

"Fox, the baby's coming!"

"Now?" he stammered. She cried out and her face contorted. Fox was relieved that Maggie was in residence in the other half of the duplex, not far away at all. And quickly accessible through the connecting doors they'd had put in on both levels. "Okay, I'll go grab Mom and go get the car round."

His wife was shaking her head. "He's COMING NOW!" She cried out again in pain.

Fox was by this stage at the bed and saw that Dana was not exaggerating. The baby's head was crowning. That woke him up fast. He looked frantically for the phone - the bedroom cordless, his cellular, her cellular, anything - but no luck. The cordless wasn't in its cradle and it was nowhere in sight. Great.

Dana was able to tell him that the cordless was under the bed. She explained later on that she had knocked it under there by accident when her water broke, then she hadn't been able to reach it.

Cue a blur of activity. He phoned 911, then Maggie, while giving Dana encouragement - "I'm here. Okay, you're doing great. I can see the head. He's a redhead!" - and quickly racing to the connecting bathroom for some clean towels and to wash his hands.

Then Fox scrambled up onto the bed, in position, trying not to think of what could go wrong. There wasn't much point telling Dana to push. She was doing that and would probably give him a death glare for stating the obvious. And now Maggie was here too, so he wasn't 'alone'.

He kept up a running commentary, partly as a distraction, and to give Dana a progress report, and he ended up delivering his son. During all the activity, Maggie had also been trying to keep watch for the ambulance's arrival out the bedroom window so she could go and let the EMTs in and guide them upstairs as quickly as possible.

Dana and the baby seemed fine and the birth seemed to have gone well, but it would be best to be sure, so Fox wanted EMTs and a hospital in the equation in the shortest possible order and wondered where the hell the medics were. Surely they should have been here by now?

It turned out that the ambulance had been involved in an accident on its way over and another one had to be dispatched...

Finally, Fox, Dana and the baby arrived at the hospital in the second ambulance and all proved to be fine. Maggie stayed behind in their half of the duplex to look after the elder boys.

In their private hospital room, husband and wife smiled at each other and at the newest addition to their family, touching him. Dana was rocking little Keir gently. "The Scully coloring at last... Hello, little one."

"You okay?" Fox asked her.

"Yes. I have a feeling though... That he's our last baby."

Fox nodded. "Me too. But three out of zero ain't bad, love."

"That's true. We're so blessed."

"I've been thinking," Fox said as he picked the baby up. "We broke the bed when we conceived him and we know what date and time that was, seeing as it was very memorable. And I'm pretty sure that he popped out nine months later to the day, to the hour and perhaps even the minute!"


2008
Mulder Townhouse
Alexandria

Fox and Dana put the car away in the garage and went inside.

They and Sam chatted while Sam got ready to leave, then came thank yous and goodbyes. Sebastian Bahnsen was going to be Fox's best man, but Sam was going to be his attendant - though not in a suit and tie, she insisted. Then if Bastian got a case, 'best man' would still be covered.

Fox and Dana went upstairs to check on their sons. The kids had all bunked in together - a common occurrence. Each boy's bedroom had a bunk bed and a couch, so often the younger boys would sleep in the same room or they all did. Tonight they were in Keir's room.

Brett was found to be reading under his covers, and the other two woke up while his flashlight was being confiscated.

Dana didn't like Brett reading under the covers as it caused eye strain. But Brett liked the 'atmosphere' of it. He was the son who at aged three had asked his father for a glass of milk, received it, then promptly poured it into a potted plant. "Hey! Why did you ask for a drink if you didn't want it?"

Fox had received a withering look in reply and the emphatic response: "The plant was *thirsty*, Daddy!"

Ahhh, memories...

Brett was also into rocks - crystals especially held his fascination. So Fox and Dana weren't sure if they had a future geologist on their hands or a son who took after Melissa, or it was just a phase. Time would tell.

The book Brett had been reading was one of Danny's, about the Loch Ness Monster. That reminded Fox of the time that their eldest had gone through a Bigfoot phase. Danny had come into the living room, dragging a loaded backpack and announced to his parents that he was packed and wanted to be taken to Bigfoot territory as soon as they were ready and could load the tent. He said he had gone over everything he could find on the subject. The resulting ribbing from his brothers did not ruffle him in the slightest. Those traits were pure Fox.

Some of his 'Dana traits' were evident when his mother asked to check his bag and found that he was thorough in his planning and packing. The backpack contents included: several changes of underwear, warm clothing, a canteen of water, forest survival handbook, mini stereo/computer with games and enough candy bars "for me and Bigfoot to share". Fox had been amazed that his son could move the pack at all.

Dana's view of this was: "I can handle him wanting to chase monsters, though by the time he gets his driver's license and doesn't need us to do the driving he'll be chasing girls instead. That's more of a worry! Actually since he takes after you in looks, the girls will start chasing *him*. That's even scarier."

Now, in Keir's room, Fox was pleased to see that his sports-mad son had remembered not to leave his baseball lying around on the floor after a few near-accidents. Then he turned and took a step and was nearly done in by a toy truck instead... Keir apologized around a yawn and offered to cook brownies the next night. Fox took him up on that because the kid was showing signs of being a good cook under supervision. It was just the resulting mess that was the problem...

Finally Fox and Dana were out in the empty hallway and he gave her a mock 'alone at last' look. She gave him a 'yeah right' look straight back.

Though there had been times over the years when it was just them in the house...


Summer 2007
Mulder townhouse

Fox had taken the metro home. He came in the front door and was greeted by his wife, but no stampede of kids or pets. Dana was holding some printed pages that bore changes in pen, working on a journal article. After their kiss, his wife walked back into the living room and he followed her in puzzlement.

"Where is everyone? Where are my boys?"

"Mom and Rob took the boys to the movies. The dog is out the back, probably burying his bone. So, we've got the house to ourselves for the next few ho-"

There was a soft thud behind her. Dana turned around to find her husband was now naked and draped seductively across the coffee table. She blinked, impressed. "That has got to be a record!" she remarked as she put the pages down out of the way and tried to break a few speed records herself.


2008
Mulder townhouse

There had been plenty of memorable homecomings over the years.

Like Dana getting into some sexy underwear, then peeking out the window to make sure that her husband was arriving home alone. Then she appeared to him once he'd shut the door behind him. "The kids are -"

She didn't get to say the word 'out' before Fox scooped her up in his arms without breaking his stride. "With you dressed like that, I kind of figured they were!" (His other usual response in such situations was: "Oh, that's too bad... License to be loud!")

Now the very eventful anniversary evening was drawing to a close. The pets had settled themselves down for the night in various locations, and the boys were in their beds. Dana and Fox checked to make sure that all was secure and snug, then turned in themselves.

Fox practically collapsed into bed. "You wore me out, woman!"

"And you're complaining? It's better to wear out than rust out, Fox. I think I do a great job of keeping your parts functional and well oiled."

He laughed. They curled up together and drifted easily and quickly off to sleep.


2008
Church

Dana was escorted up the aisle by her sons, who were all far too subdued to cause any trouble. Or any more trouble than they had already managed...

Because the pretty white dress - not a fancy gown, but a lovely dress - was currently lying in the trunk of the wedding car, splattered with mud. As Dana had alighted from the car, the boys had gotten into a fight and one threw some mud at the other, who ducked...Bullseye on the wrong target.

So Dana had changed in the church rest room into the only gear she could find at short notice... And was now standing sheepishly before her husband, guests and God in t-shirt and jeans. The t-shirt had a little blood on it, because the fight had given Brett a nosebleed, and "I'm a mother before I'm a bride..."

The priest was shaking his head. Maggie was cringing in her seat. The boys were too scared to utter a sound. Fox was thinking, "How us."

That was the point where Dana mercifully woke up...


2008
Mulder townhouse
Bedroom

Fox woke up to find his wife sitting on the edge of her side of the bed. "Dana?" He looked at the clock. Around four in the morning. "What's wrong?"

"Tonight I've had not one, but TWO dreams about renewing our vows and... Maybe we should just elope!"

"Dana, we don't have to get married again if you don't want to."

"I do want to. I'm just worried that these dreams are a sign!"

"Of what? What happens in them?"

Dana explained about the mud-dress that required a 'jeans and t-shirt bride', then about the next dream. "As a treat, you gave Keir a container of 'green slime' or 'alien goo'. You made him promise not to open it until later, but Danny loosened the lid and just when I was ready to leave for the church, he told Keir to go and show me."

"Uh oh."

"Yep. 'Look, Mommy'. Trip. Splat. The need to shampoo my hair for a week. It went everywhere... I tell you, I am NOT going to wear a white gown! Or white anything."

"Babe, you're overreacting." The second after he said it, Fox thought he really should have known better than to say that, especially after so many years of marriage...

She glared at him. "We have three boys. I'll just have to make sure that they're not in the house while I'm getting ready."


2008
The church

For real

The car pulled up outside the church. Dana looked out. Her sons were waiting for her on the front steps, with the Gunmen. The Gunmen were ushers and had also been charged with making sure that the boys didn't get up to any mischief or have anything stowed in their pockets that could spell disaster. It had always been handy to have a ratio of one son per Lone Gunman. Byers gave Dana a thumbs up, meaning that all was well.

The boys remained where they were, as instructed. They had been mollified at being 'barred' from the house by the knowledge that they would get to see Mom in her finery before Dad did.

Her younger brother, Charlie, had driven her to the church. Both of her brothers had been able to attend the wedding. Charlie wasn't in the Navy anymore and Bill was now riding a desk at a navy base instead of the waves after Tara had put her foot down and insisted he spend more time with his family.

Charlie moved around to open the door for Dana, but she did it herself. She wasn't in a veil or huge skirt. She was wearing a long, green embroidered dress, the skirt of which only had a few layers and no hoop, so it was easy to maneuver and alight in. No train. The hem skimmed the tops of her shoes. It was *not* slime green either, though if that situation had occurred, at least the stain wouldn't be quite so obvious.

Dana felt a rush of satisfaction as she got out of the car. She was only five minutes late. All was ready and all had been scrutinized down to the last detail to make sure that nothing went amiss.

Unfortunately she got a little distracted while congratulating herself.

It was at that point that she shut the car door on her skirt and, not realizing, started to move. A tug and a tearing sound froze her in her tracks. Dana knew instantly what she had done, even before the looks of horror on the boys' faces and on the Gunmen and Charlie. Whether a breeze had lifted a layer, or a fold of the skirt had been not quite clear of the door...

Oh my God. I was so worried about the boys but they're being complete angels and I've done myself in anticipating...

Too scared to look at the damage, Dana gave a nervous little laugh that had an edge of hysteria to it. Suddenly all her famed coping skills deserted her and she just stood there.

Danny, Brett and Keir raced to her. "Mom, Mom, it's okay!" They opened the door and assessed the skirt.

"There's a crease and a tear and some grease -" one said.

Charlie said, "Do you have another outfit? We could drive home."

Brett said, "Mom, if we fold the skirt, like this, nobody'll even see it!"

Dana dared to look down and noticed that the fold didn't even look out of place. It looked like part of the design.

"But how can we keep it folded over like that?" Danny asked. "Unless one of us can walk right up close to Mom, right there, to hide it!"

"Gran's brooch! I'll go get it off her." Brett raced up the stairs and disappeared into the church.


Fox looked up. Instead of seeing his wife floating down the aisle towards him, surrounded by their sons, he saw son number two racing up the carpet, saying as loudly as he dared, "Gran! Gran!"

Maggie got out of one of the front pews in a hurry and went to him. "What's wrong, dear?"

Brett whispered in her ear and she quickly set off towards the front entrance.

"Brett -" Fox began as his son started to follow.

"It's okay, Dad. Mom isn't running off!"

"Well, that's reassuring to know..." Fox murmured as Brett raced off. Fox couldn't help but notice that Bill Scully Junior was looking momentarily hopeful that Dana *had* ditched him.


Once the brooch was in place it actually looked quite good - suiting the outfit and hiding the damage.

Relieved, Dana got her composure back. She and the boys moved into their positions, the music started, and off they went down the aisle. Her eyes locked with her husband's gaze and nothing else in the world mattered.

Apart from the sound of the brooch coming adrift halfway up the aisle. It hit the carpet as the fold unfolded itself...

Eyes widened. Mouths formed perfect 'O's. Keir hastily moved to try to block the sight.

For a few seconds Dana was mortified. But then she realized it didn't matter. She had three children that she was so very proud of and a husband who loved her no matter what - things that once were an unlikely dream for her. And this outfit, even damaged, was still better than jeans and a t-shirt.

Being a mother of three boys, there were a lot of moments in her life where she just had to laugh and say "What the hell" and keep going regardless. This was one of those times. (Though she didn't say the hell part in church.) Danny had picked the brooch up and they could try pinning it again after the vows. The photographer would just have to work around it until then.

"It's okay." Her smile showed everyone that everything really was okay. It was so bright that it distracted from the dress. She and Fox grinned at each other, gazes locked again. "Onwards!"


2008
Virgin Islands

Fox and Dana had found that 'their' beach was just as beautiful as they remembered. The water was the same stunning blue.

They, the boys, Maggie and Rob had flown over here together several days ago. For the first few days Maggie and her husband had the boys with them at their hotel. During those days Fox and Dana spent some honeymoon time alone, exploring paradise and each other. Then Danny, Brett and Keir moved to their parents' suite of rooms for the rest of the vacation. They would all catch up with Grandma and Grandpop during the stay at the resort.

The Mulder clan was playing in the water, laughing and shouting. All except Dana, who was returning from a quick trip to their parked rental car. She smiled as she took in the view. This was the beach where she and Fox had exchanged their vows and consummated their marriage.

Memories popped up of that consummation. She and her new husband had been so eager that they hadn't even made it inside their rented van. Fortunately they were the only ones in the vicinity at the time.

It had been wonderful.

Dana looked at Fox and their sons. They were splashing and wrestling and swimming. And she felt a glow in her body, almost an ache in its intensity, that was even more wonderful.

When her mother and Rob came back from their sightseeing she would get one of them to take some family photos. She would always remember this but it would be good to have them when Danny, Brett and Keir were grown up. For now she took a mental picture of the sight, then hurried back to join her boys.

The End




Author's Notes

With thanks to Gerry Hill for having a dream about Mulder in lime green boxer shorts and then sharing it - that set a scene bubbling nicely in my brain!

And to Pete for the fortune cookie message - she actually got that fortune at a restaurant, right down to the line drawing, and misread it just like Scully did. Not only that, but Pete happened to be at an X-Files fanfic writers and readers gathering at the time, and was surrounded by smut writers...so she had the right audience.

The line "Come melt into me" was sung in the Xena episode 'Bitter Suite' by Ares (Kevin Smith) to Xena. We miss you, Kevin.

"Sexy Baby" song and "That Thing You Do" are copyright their respective owners. No infringement intended or profit gained in any song lyrics used in this story.

After I wrote this story, I thought I had better reread over the Couch Universe stories to make up a timeline of what happened when - especially to make sure the dating of the flashbacks was correct. Before then, I had been using a timetable I had made up several years ago with the boys' ages in each particular year. While doing this new timeline I discovered that I had made mistakes in the original timetable...so in some of the stories the boys' ages don't match the year correctly or vice versa. Argh. I think I've got it sorted out now!

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