Title: Daybreak 1. Dusk
Authors: Jennifer Frye & Annie Jennings
Disclaimer: Okay, do we all know how this is going to go? I am not creative enough to create characters like Mulder, Scully, Skinner, Cigarette-Smoking Man, the Lone Gunmen...I could go on making myself look bad, but I won't. The all-mighty genius, Chris Carter, made them up, thus addicting me to his show. I have absolutely no permission from Ten Thirteen Productions, Fox Network, yada yada yada, to use them. I wish that I did. But I have a little saying, and that is that some rules were made to be broken...:-)

I might also add that the song "I Shall Believe" was written and performed by Sheryl Crow, and can be found on her Tuesday Night Music Club CD. Any and all song excerpts were used without permission. If you want to hear them with the music, go out and buy them! Gee, do we smell a shameless promotion...?

All other excerpts have been credited below the lyrics, but I still have no permission to use them. I want to say this: you have to apply the lyrics' meaning to the story.

Summary: Agents Mulder and Scully discover the truth about what happened to Scully during her abduction - and what they discover will change both of their lives forever.

Author's Note: I would like to add that the script for this story, as well as the plot and idea, up until Chapter Five, was Jennifer Frye's, until I took it and adapted it for story. This tale is a darker tale, with some humor to lighten the overall somber storyline. Yes, this story is a Shipper story, but there is no real romance in this story. It's mostly UST, and some interesting revelations from Scully and Mulder. I would rate it PG-13.

About the Title: The title,"Dusk", refers to how this is merely the first in a series of deception and betrayal of Mulder and Scully. There are two other stories in this trilogy, which I shall call the "Daybreak" trilogy. The other stories will be called "Night" and "Darkest Hour." Expect them shortly.

The trilogy takes place before "Leonard Betts" and "Momento Mori." It is an alternate explanation. Remember, I wrote this long before either episode was aire.

If you have any comments, whether they are positive or negative, feel free to send them to Auralissa@aol.com. I love to hear suggestions, but please, no flames!

 


Prologue: CONTRIBUTIONS TO SOCIETY

Whittaker Commune for the United States Army
Outside of San Francisco, California
Sunday, October 6 8:45pm

The nursery was silent. There were no cries from the twenty-six sleeping infants, no whines, no whimpers. Only silence. It was a disturbing silence for Nurse Gretchen McKinley, who tended to one red-haired child, humming to herself, softly. A doctor glanced up at her upon hearing her voice.

"Nurse, no humming," he briskly reminded. "Not a single noise."

Gretchen bowed her head, and stopped. Often, she was confused by this silence, this lack of sound. Why it was so important that there be no music, no color, muddled her thoughts. She simply thought about her pay, and went back to her duties. She put the infant in a crib, and handed him a bottle. Gretchen resisted the urge to smile at him. He was so cute, with those red curls and blue eyes...all the children in the commune were attractive babies. She thought there was something odd about that, too.

Before she went on to the next child, a deep voice smoothly asked her a question. "How is the child progressing?" Gretchen turned about, to see one of the directors of the project standing next to her. He was the cold one, the coldest one of all. He stood in front of the crib, gaunt, with dark brown hair and creased eyes that were like ice.

He started to pull out a cigarette, but Gretchen shook her head. "I'm sorry, sir, but there's no smoking around the children," she explained. He slid the Morley's out anyway, disregarding her. The director lit a match, and glanced at the baby.

"I asked you a question," he said.

Gretchen fumbled. "Oh! Yes. He's progressing quite well, sir," she stuttered. "The baby's intelligence test results came back the other day, and they were above what was expected. The parents must have contributed to that."

Gretchen searched his face, which was shaded in smoke. He smiled, slowly, and she was chilled by his words.

"Indeed they did..."


Chapter One: THE TRUTH BEHIND THE LIES

"We do what we can
Live for the moment
Cause that's who I am
Yeah, that's who I am"
- Sheryl Crow, Tuesday Night Music Club, 1993

~

Washington Hospital Emergency Room
Washington, D.C.
Friday, November 8 5:06pm

The gurney rushed through the room, doctors and nurses milling about it. The young woman on the stretcher moaned, in great pain. "We're losing her!" a doctor said.

"There's nothing to do!"

The woman stirred, and moaned again. "Dana..." she muttered, and a nurse leaned down.

"You'll be fine, dear, just hold on," the brunette said.

The woman shook her head. "No...give this...to Dana Scully..." the battered patient whispered. "Please...please..." She handed the nurse a crumpled envelope, stained with blood. "FBI...Agent Dana...Scully...number..."

An electronic machine gave out a long, flat sound. She flat-lined, and the doctors rolled her away, desperately trying to revive her. The brunette nurse stood there, holding the tattered paper, and read the number on the note.


5:56 pm

Dana Scully's high heels echoed down the halls of the hospital as she quickly walked to the desk. Heads turned at the sight of the slender, petite, red-haired woman, dressed elegantly in a conservative green suit, but she had no time for anything else than Amanda Harding.

Scully had been shocked when she got the call fifteen minutes ago. She had been in her car, exhausted from a long, heated day at work, and ready to collapse into bed. She tired of her career sometimes, but always knew it was worth it. Scully could only take so much from her partner, and when he got caught up in a mood, she wanted to break the coffee machine and cut off the caffeine. Today's case was a routine kidnapping for her, but for him, it was another notch in the paranormal belt.

Scully and her partner were not run-of-the-mill agents. They worked in the shadiest Bureau territory - the X-Files. Cases of the unexplained, the unnatural, and project of the unwanted, namely, Fox Mulder. Mulder had fallen in love with the X-Files, adopting them, and petitioning for the dusty files to be reopened. After he began to discover some things that the government did not want exposed, Scully was assigned to put Mulder's theories to the test of science. Mulder had often shocked her with his ideas of aliens, UFOs, and psychics, but there were times when even Scully couldn't explain what she saw.

Scully continued down the hall, thinking of Amanda Harding, and their days at Quantico Academy. Scully had never been close to Amanda, but they had studied together and had gone out for drinks on occasion. Amanda had been a cover girl, with flawless skin, perfect blonde hair, and a great figure. She had been very upset by the news of her death, and even more upset by the news that there was a letter for her.

The clerk at the desk looked up as Scully approached. "Can I help you, ma'am?" she asked. Scully leaned on the desk for support.

"Yes, my name is Dana Scully, FBI. I received a call about one Amanda Harding," she said, flashing her badge. The clerk glanced at it, and nodded to her.

"Down the corridor, to the left, room 132," she said. Scully thanked her, and moved on. Just before she made the turn, a brown-haired nurse in a blood-stained uniform came to her.

"Miss Scully?" the nurse asked.

"Yes," Scully replied, confused. "Is there anything I can do for you?"

The nurse looked relieved. "My name's Hannah Reeves. I was there when Amanda Harding...passed away. She was in a lot of pain, but she said that it was important that you get this..." Hannah pulled out a crumpled and bloody note, handing it to Scully. She felt waves of sadness wash over her at the sight of Amanda's blood. Hannah looked on her with sympathy. "I thought that I owed it to her to see that you got it. I'm sorry."

Scully smiled briefly at the young nurse. "Thank you." Hannah walked away, and Scully sat down in a hard, plastic chair to read the letter.

Dana,
If you are reading this, then I know that I didn't make it. Please, don't be sorry. I know that if this got to you, then I did not die in vain. I only wish that I could have told you personally about this, for I am sure that it will come as a shock... I was out one night with a boyfriend of mine. He was in training for military medicine. We had gone to a bar, had a few drinks, and he got a little drunk. He started to to talk about a new position he'd been offered, as a head doctor in a commune in California. He said that the pay was unreal, and that the project was highly classified. But the alcohol had loosened his tongue, and he started to tell me the details.

The government has been running a project for about three years involving young infants. The odd thing about these infants was that they were made from 'stolen' eggs and sperm. The directors and doctors would select parents, mostly by random availability, and then use in vitro fertilization to create the baby. The sperm was kept frozen until its time came, and usually the child was fertilized in the womb of the actual mother, then removed and out into the womb of a surrogate mother. These women were usually mothers that needed money, or green cards, and were mostly Mexicans. The child would be raised to be the 'perfect soldier, ' not showing any emotions, not allowed to be human.

At first, the project parents were simply chosen by random factors, then they were chosen as blackmail. Dana, when you were missing during 1994, you were supposed to be killed. But the directors, one in particular, decided to add you on as part of the project. You were brought to the commune and impregnated. You have a child out there, Dana. A child that needs you. You have to find him or her, and save that child before it is too late. There is only one place to go for help, and that is to the former head doctor, Trisha Wheeler. I have enclosed her address. Be careful.

Amanda H.

Scully folded up the letter, numb. It can't be true...I can't be a mother. I never had a child... but Scully knew that it was the truth. She recalled little of her abduction, but one thing that she did remember was lying on a cold, metal table, with doctors examining her, very interested in her swollen belly...

She put her head in her hands. Why her? Why did it always come to her being hurt, her being put in jeopardy because of him? No, no, no...this wasn't Mulder's fault. She couldn't put even more blame on his shoulders. This was the fault of some greater force, some shadow that had always stalked them ever since they had begun working together. And Scully wasn't the only one who suffered. Mulder's father had been killed, his mother had been in a deep coma, and even Mulder himself had nearly died in a boxcar in New Mexico. She had to discover the truth about this, and the only way to do that was to go to this Dr. Wheeler for some answers.


Dulles International Airport
Washington, D.C.
Friday, November 8 7:03pm

Scully stood in front of the airport terminal, her piercing blue eyes scanning the airport for her partner. She was getting irritated. She had told him to be at the airport at exactly six fifty, counting on him being late. Naturally, Mulder had to count on her adding the extra minutes, so that he arrived overly late. Scully sighed, exasperated, and shifted the duffel bag on her shoulder. "Dammit," she cursed. If I miss this plane because of you, Mulder...

She felt a hand on her shoulder, and a low, coy voice whispered in her ear. "Excuse me, miss, this is my first time flying, and I was just wondering if I could hold your hand." Scully turned around to see a sly, lopsided smile on Fox Mulder's face. He had finally showed up, carting one large duffel. His usually wild brown hair was still untamed, but his suit wasn't rumpled and his tie matched. He had a devilish glint in his jade-green eyes, and Scully was immediately annoyed.

"Mulder, I told you to be here almost fifteen minutes ago," she said, trying to keep her voice steady. "Do you even own a clock?"

He shrugged. "I own one. I just don't use it."

Scully started down the walk to the plane. Mulder followed, trying to keep up with her fast, furious pace. "What's going on, Scully?" he asked, following closely. "I get a cryptic phone call telling me that we have two one-way tickets to San Francisco, and I get here to find you in what seems to be a state of melodramatic pmS. I think I deserve some sort of explanation."

Scully looked back at her bewildered partner, and felt bad. She shouldn't have snapped at him like that. He had no idea what was going on. She sighed, and stopped, allowing him to catch up with her. "I'm sorry, Mulder," she apologized. "I'll explain when we get on the plane...this is a personal matter for me, but I need your help. I'm afraid...and more than a little upset."

Mulder looked down at his partner, curious. "What is going on...?" he mused, and they boarded the plane. Scully led him to their seats, in middle class. She sat down, exhausted. Mulder graciously took the middle seat, squeezing his long legs in, while Scully took the window seat. She pressed her head up against the glass, collecting herself.

Mulder quietly watched her, worried. She was badly shaken, and Mulder knew from experience that it took a lot to disturb her that badly. He put his hand on her shoulder, and she turned her head. Mulder looked at her with a concerned look on his face. "Scully, what is it?" he asked. "You don't look too well."

She took a deep breath. "An old friend from my days at Quantico died today."

Mulder winced. "I'm sorry..."

Scully shook her head, looking down at her hands. "Mulder, that's not the worst of it..."

Scully finished her story, and Mulder stared at her in growing horror. "Scully, you don't know if that's true or not," he said. "For all you know, this whole tale could have been a story brought on by alcoholic fabrications. You can't just accept the story of a drunk man as truth."

Scully glared at him. "Give me a little credit, Mulder," she snapped. "I wouldn't run off to California with no reason. I know that this fits...I wish that it didn't but I know...Amanda had no reason to lie to me, and from what I remember of my abduction..." She shuddered, and looked into his eyes. "Trust me on this...I think that this is the truth, and I have to know if it is."

Mulder nodded. "I'll trust your judgment, Scully. What choice do I have? Don't worry. We'll get to the bottom of all of this, whether or not it's the truth." She smiled tightly, and bowed her head.

"There's nothing to fear but the truth," she murmured, and swiped at some stray strands of red. "But what about the people who are behind the truth?"

Mulder had no response.


Holiday Inn, downtown Phoenix
Saturday, November 9 3am

Scully lay propped up in the bed. She was tired, but not sleepy. Her mind demanded relief, but her body refused it. She listlessly changed the channels on the fuzzy television set, trying to keep her mind off of what had been said today. Unfortunately, that was impossible. Her mind naturally wondered to the child she may or may not have.

What was he or she like? Was the baby strong? Was the baby intelligent? Did her child have her own blue eyes and red hair? Scully could not help but think about the father of this child. What was he like? Was he aware of this project? Did he know that there was a baby that needed him? She sighed...too many questions...

Scully was startled out of her reverie by a knock at the door. "Who is it?" she called.

"Who do you think it is?" a wry voice called. Scully sighed, and opened the door for him. Mulder walked in, casual in an old, worn shirt and cotton shorts. His brown hair was wet from a shower, and a stubby hotel towel hung around his neck. He nodded to her.

"I can't sleep either," he admitted. He cocked his head at her, studying her face. "Scully, would Amanda have any reason to lie to you?"

Scully frowned at him."No - she was on her deathbed. She was fighting so hard to give me this information as it was. People who are dying tend to tell the truth, clear their conscience."

Mulder nodded, agreeing reluctantly, but still not completely understanding."I still can't see how you could have had a child without knowing..." Scully interrupted him, not wanting to tread on dangerous territory.

"We'll be able to put more of the pieces together after talking to this Doctor Wheeler." Scully stifled a yawn, her exhaustion finally setting in. Mulder noticed this.

"We both need to try and get some rest," he gently prodded. She sighed, and looked away.

"I couldn't possibly sleep, Mulder,"she said, softly. He knew that she was speaking the truth; she would not sleep.

Mulder picked up the remote control from the nightstand and clicked off the television set. Before Scully fully realized his intent, he grabbed a blanket and spare pillow from the closet and plopped down on the floor beside her. He then turned out the light, and tossed the wet towel on a chair. Scully weakly protested.

"Mulder..."she started, but before she could continue, he interrupted her.

"Good NIGHT, Scully," he said, forcibly.


Chapter Two: A MELANCHOLY MELODY

1013 Armadillo Avenue
Saturday, November 9 10:30 am

Scully knocked on the door of the small, ranch style house, apprehensive and more than a little nervous about the confrontation. Mulder stood by her side, and as they waited for an answer, he put a hand on the sleeve of her dark trench coat.

"Scully, what you hear today may or may not be the truth," he warned. "But no matter what the outcome is, I want you to know that I'll be there for you."

Scully gave him a tight smile. "Thank you, Mulder. I have a feeling that I'm going to need whatever support I can get..."

A dark-haired, tall, and expensively clothed woman cracked open the door. She stared at the two agents with sharp green eyes, that were full of intelligence and manipulation. Her voice was cold; her manner brisk.

"May I help you?"she said, politely. Scully glanced desperately at her partner, then looked back at the woman.

"I hope so," Scully replied. "Are you Dr. Trisha Wheeler?"

The woman's eyes narrowed, suspicious. "Who wants to know?"

Scully took out her badge, and showed her the identification. "Agent Dana Scully, FBI. This is-"

The woman opened the door wider, her eyes full of recognition. She cut Scully off before she could introduce Mulder."Hurry. Come in. I've been expecting you."

Mulder cast a quizzical glance at Scully as he motioned for her to lead the way. She shrugged, and entered the house.

Dr. Wheeler breezed through the house, her manner elegant and cold. She led the agents to a well-decorated office, with metal filing cabinets and rosewood furniture, and she sat on the edge of the desk.

"Please have a seat," she instructed, gesturing to a sofa. "Can I get either of you a drink?"

Scully sat on the soft beige couch in front of a large picture window. She took in the Santa Fe atmosphere: clay pots, Indian paintings, wolf statues, Aztec designs...she shook her head, jogging herself out of distraction. "No, thanks," she declined.

Ignoring the doctor's instructions to sit down, Mulder walked to the pictures of a dozen or so babies displayed in photos over the fireplace. They were all handsome children, innocent, and yet wise. He studied them with his sharp eye for detail. Scully knew what he was doing - looking for her child.

Scully wasn't the only person to notice Mulder's interest. Trisha Wheeler spoke up, her eye on Mulder.

"Those children...I can be proud of having participated in their births," she noted. "Those photographs were taken when I worked at a fertility clinic in Nevada. Your child isn't in those pictures."

Mulder snapped his head about. "You mean Scully's child."

The doctor looked confused for a second, then quickly regained her composure. She turned to Scully. "Amanda Walters?" she inquired.

Scully shook her head. "She didn't make it. She was barely able to give me this in time." She handed Dr. Wheeler the letter.

There was an uncomfortable silence as Dr. Wheeler read the letter. She finally looked away from the letter and glanced up at Mulder. "You'd better sit down," she said, carefully selecting her words. "There's so much more to tell you. She probably had to write this in a hurry."

Mulder took a seat beside Scully, his shoulder slightly leaning against hers. Somehow, he hoped, this will give her his unspoken support.

"I'm so sorry," the doctor began, as she paced in front of them. "I was one of the few who actually knew who the babies' parents were. I despised my job. I was taking and creating children unsuspecting parents. I cringe thinking of all the damage they caused."

"They?" Scully questioned.

"The directors. I never knew them by name. They probably do not exist in any records, anyway. My job was to create life, if that's what you want to call it, for them. They would give me the cryogenically frozen sperm and eggs and I would thaw and fertilize them. Then the fertilized embryos would be implanted in surrogate mothers - illegal immigrants usually...they do it in exchange for money, a green card. Then they are raised under guarded conditions at a commune. They are not encouraged to exhibit normal emotions such as sadness, fear, or joy. These children are raised to be 'perfect soldiers' devoid of feeling. I only knew who a few of the parents were, if they were high profile. Your baby," she nodded to Scully,"was special to them. I could tell they had more sinister intentions for your child than the usual plans making it a double agent or spy. "

The doctor took a deep breath, and continued."They told me that I had to be extra-careful with this creation. They had been planning this for some time." She stopped directly in front of Mulder. She stared down at him, at his face, and was saddened.

"You were detained several years ago while trespassing on a military base,"she said.

Mulder's eyes opened wide with astonishment. "How did you..."

"That's when they decided to include you two in this experiment. A little 'insurance' if the two of you ever got 'out of line'."

There was a thick silence. No one spoke, no one moved. There was nothing. For that moment, time stood still. Suddenly, breaking the tension, Mulder jumped up from his spot on the couch. He stood close, leaning into her face, his eyes fierce. "It was crazy enough for you to expect me to believe Scully has a baby out there somewhere," he said through clenched teeth. "Now, you're trying to tell me I'm the father of this child. Of Scully's child."

Dr. Wheeler hung her head in shame. For the first time, she was really seeing how much pain her participation in the project had caused. She mumbled,"Yes. You are the father of her child."

Mulder grabbed her by the shoulders. "You're lying!" he yelled. "Who are you working for?"

The doctor's poise was gone. Dr. Wheeler gasped. Scully, shocked, got to her feet and stopped him with a firm hand on his upper arm.

"Mulder, please," she begged, her voice firm and unsteady all at once. "Let it go..." Mulder spun around and walked toward the window. He pressed his forehead against it, hiding his profile from the two women. Christ, he thought. Christ...

"I...I have proof," the doctor stammered, still shaken. The agents did not respond, and she silently went to fetch it.

Dr. Wheeler opened a safe located behind one of the large Indian paintings. Silently, she took out two thick files, and offered them to the brooding Mulder. "Here," she muttered, and sat back on the edge of her desk.

Mulder took the folders, and read the cover of the first. The name read "Mulder, Fox William." He opened it up, and started to browse through it. Frustrated, he threw it down. "It's just a bunch of medical jargon," he said, pushing a hand through his dark hair. "This doesn't mean shit..."

"Mulder," Scully reprimanded. He looked at her, and she put out her hand, silently asking for the files. "Let me see if I can make anything of it."

He handed her the files, and Scully opened up his file. She quickly scanned them, her eyes widening with horror. Each page was like a slap in the face. The files spoke the truth.

"It's true," she hoarsely whispered. "Mulder, these files are legitimate. They contain medical information that only someone who had examined us would know."

"How do you know they are correct?" he stammered. This can't be happening, he thought.

"Dammit, Mulder, with all the times we've been in the hospital...I think I've looked at our charts and medical files dozens of times!" Scully was beginning to become impatient with his skepticism. Is this how he feels when she refuses to believe?

"Scully...." he said, slowly, but the doctor interrupted, her voice containing a note of panic.

"You're wasting precious time!" she exclaimed. "The children are in a heavily guarded commune outside of San Jose. Your son is there."

"Son?" Scully whispered. Mulder took a swift glance in her direction, and Scully turned so he couldn't see the tears welling up in her usually sharp blue eyes.

"Yes," Dr. Wheeler confirmed, smiling. "Just a little over a year old now. And such an intelligent child, such intelligent parents, the perfect combination. The doctors often tried to find an interesting combination of personalities, to study how long it took for the children to conform. Your son was one of the most difficult. We were so proud of that day, the day he finally joined the rest of the babies. The nurses would always talk about the child, so handsome, from two attractive parents...a true favorite.The children," she explained," are assigned letters of the alphabet until they are over three and there are never more than twenty-six at any time. This impersonalizes them. The directors requested a slight jump in the order so that your child's turn fell on the letter X. Baby X."

Scully shook her head, trying to clear it."Why didn't you find us sooner?" she asked in a hushed voice. "If you objected to what they were doing, why not tell us sooner?"

Dr. Wheeler bowed her head, ashamed. "I was afraid. When Amanda found me I decided enough time had passed for them to be monitoring me. Luckily I had some health problems to use as a legitimate excuse to leave..."

The doctor was cut short by a sudden, jolting bang. Mulder reflexively threw Scully to the ground and lay on top of her, shielding her body with his. A car peeled off in the distance.

They eased up, guns drawn. Mulder slowly pushed the curtain aside, peering out the window for any sight of a vehicle.

Scully rushed to Dr. Wheeler's side. She lay in a pool of blood, groaning in pain. "Mulder, Dr. Wheeler's been hit."

Mulder turned to see Scully trying to cover the doctor with a blanket. A lot of blood, he thought to himself. She's not gonna make it.

"Please forgive me," she softly begged the agents, a single tear treading down her cheek. "I did the best I could..."

Scully kneeled next to her. "Dr. Wheeler..." she started, but the doctor shook her head.

"No...address in...safe..." She drew one last breath, then once again, "Sorry."

Scully numbly walked to the safe. Mulder noticed something in her hands, but couldn't see what as she approaches him. She looks tranced. "Scully, what is it?" he asked, gently. Her eyes blank, she handed Mulder a tiny ID bracelet. He held it in the palm of his hand, which soon started to tremble. She looked down at it, her heart aching.

"It's his." She looked up at him with sad, mournful eyes, and he met her eyes with his own eyes looking like shattered green glass.

The sun set on the clear blue river as Scully and Mulder drove across the Golden Gate Bridge. Mulder drove, allowing Scully to sit in the passenger seat, where she promptly rested her forehead against the glass, her eyes blindly searching the serene waves. How could the rest of the world go on when she was so torn apart? she wondered. She was all alone, and yet nothing had changed. Did life really go on so easily?

Scully shifted her eyes over to Mulder, and was painfully reminded that she was not alone. Now, he was with her, for now and for always. Funny...she had always wanted him near her, and now she had gotten her wish in a sick and perverse way.

And why was he so stoic? So cold, so icy...where were his words of compassion, his solace? Why was he so detached? She sighed. He didn't care, either. Why should he? She was in just as much pain as he was. What made her situation so different?

Mulder, too, was in misery, unable to face her, unable to say any words to help her or help himself. It was all his fault; he knew it. Why did it always have to be her? Never him, always Scully. She was so innocent in this hell, and and she always seemed to suffer consequences that were meant for him. Punish me, he pleaded silently. Leave her be! Kill me, hurt me, do whatever you want. But let her be...

He broke the tension. "What are we going to do?" he whispered. "We can't possibly be attentive parents."

"My God, Mulder..." she choked out. "We have to find them. They've taken so much from us. My sister, your father, Samantha...they can't have him, too..."

He had to reign in his emotions, hold himself steady. The aching in her voice told him more than her words ever could. Inside, she was breaking.

Scully decided to turn her thoughts from the pain she was in by turning on the radio. She played around with the dials until she found a station playing a melancholy melody.

Come to me now
And lay your hands over me
Even if it's a lie
Say it will be all right
And I shall believe

The words broke through Scully's carefully placed barriers, forcing her to listen to her own heart. She thought about the irony of hearing one song that truly reflected her emotions. That was all that she wanted from him. She just wanted for him to tell her that everything would be all right, that she would survive. She didn't care if it was true or not. She just wanted for him to tell her that it would all work out.

Broken in two
And I know you're on to me
That I only come home
When I'm so all alone
But I do believe

Mulder, too heard the music, and it sparked a flame that he always so desperately tried to put out. Why did she always get to him? Scully always saw past his layers of self-inflicting sarcasm, his "cool exterior", and his rehearsed method of hiding all of his emotions. She was his sole reason for living, and it hurt him that he could never tell her.

That not everything is gonna be the way
You think it ought to be
It seems like every time I try to make it right
It all comes down on me
Please say honestly you won't give up on me
And I shall believe

He glanced quickly the woman next to him. She was independent, strong, beautiful...God, what right did he have to want her? She didn't need or deserve anyone like him clinging to her, bringing bad fortune and misery. She was better off without him. But that didn't change him wanting her to say that she would never leave him, would stay be his side, and would never lose her faith in him. Mulder just wanted her to say that she would be with him in spite and because of his perpetual failure and mistakes. And he felt guilty that he wanted that.

Open the door
And show me your face tonight
I know it's true
No one heals me like you
And you hold the key

Scully just wanted him to be honest with her. She wanted to see the true Fox William Mulder, and she wanted him to have no fear of showing her his identity. No one did heal her like he did, and no one ever could. He was the only one. He could he not see it...see that...she...

Never again
Will I turn away from you
I'm so heavy tonight
But your love is all right
And I do believe

Whenever Mulder was low, or down, it was always Scully that was there, beside him, helping him and holding him up. Yet, somehow, he always managed to pull away, and retreat into his world where nothing mattered, not even himself. God, her patience, her devotion. Was it any wonder that he...he...

With a flick of his wrist, he changed the station, turning it to a rock band that always managed to give Mulder a headache. He would rather take the headache than the heartache. Scully turned away from him, trying to hide the tear in her eye.


Chapter Three: MATERNAL INSTINCT

Forrester Commune
Just outside San Jose
9pm

A small, burly man with thinning sandy hair hung up a telephone. He was wearing a white lab coat.

"They may be coming," he says to an older man whom was only seen from the back.

"You must take all necessary precautions to move that baby," he coldly stated. "Hopefully we will have this place cleared out by then. But, under no conditions are they to find any evidence of Baby X."

The burly mad added,"Dammit. We should have never trusted Dr. Wheeler. We should have had her watched after she quit. I had no idea she would be such a problem."

"The problem has been eliminated. Now clear this place out, before you too become a 'problem'."

Workers furiously began destroying files and breaking lab equipment.

Then, the baby room was silent. There were rows of cribs, all drab grey. The walls were a shade lighter than the cribs. There was no window. The cribs all had a letter etched in the side. The security camera panned down the cribs until it stopped at the crib marked X. The baby had wide blue eyes and red-gold hair. Very quiet. Not a smile on his face. There was only a fleeting shot of him. Suddenly, hands reached into the crib and snatch the baby. The alarm screamed throughout the compound.


Scully and Mulder pulled up in their rental Ford Taurus. Scully fidgeted nervously with her crucifix necklace, winding it around her slim, white hands, carefully tangling and untangling the silver chain. Mulder knew how nervous she was, and he felt the same way.

He glanced over at her, and she quickly collected herself, checking her flashlight. "I wonder how many federal laws we're about to break," she mused. He picked up his gun, and checked it.

"I wonder how many federal laws have already been broken," he countered, leaving her discomfited. Mulder put the weapon in his holster, and got out of the car. "After you."

They were surprised by the barbed wire fence and check point area, security measures that usually marked top military operations. But the place was desolate. There was no guard and there were locks on the gate. Mulder got out of the car and walked to the gate. He bent down to examine it, shining a flashlight on the lock. Scully followed him, and he shook his head.

"It's locked," he said, frustrated. She sighed, and leaned back, pushing a hand through her red hair. The light shone on her tiny silver earrings. Mulder's sharp eye caught the light on her lobes, and he stood up, fiddling with her jewelry. She swiped at his hand, though her pulse raced at the gentle swipe of his long-fingered hand through her hair.

"Mulder, I don't think they go with your outfit," she said, dryly.

"Very funny. Just hand one over."

Keeping her eyes on her partner and giving him a very confused look, Scully took out one of the studs, and passed it to him. Mulder bent down again, and proceeded to pick the lock. He stood up, triumphant. She nodded her head.

"Good idea," she said, and he gave her her earring back.

The agents got back in the car and continued the drive through. In the clinic-laboratory, they only found overturned tables, scraps of paper, and broken equipment.

"We must have the same decorator," Mulder quipped. Scully shut him up with a raised eyebrow. The look on her face said it all - -she did not find the situation funny.

They ventured to the quarters where the babies had been kept. Scully gasped at the sight of overturned cribs and the general ominous feel of the room. As Mulder searched the room, she traced her fingers over the letters BABY X.

Tears welled up in her eyes. There was nothing and everything here for her. Nothing. It was all gone, and all here. She was overwhelmed by what she saw.

"Scully, these files...there are only a few papers left. It's all gone. I can't find anything," he said, despairingly. "Is there anything you can see? Scully?" Mulder turned around, and saw that Scully was on the verge of breaking down. He went to her and tried to put his arms around her, but she pulled out of the embrace. He took it as a sign of rejection, and looked hurt. But Scully knew that one of those feathery, wispy caresses would only lessen her resolve. That was something she could not risk.

"I can't lose control," she managed to whisper.

"You can't keep it all inside. I'm in this too. Now is not the time to alienate each other." Mulder reminded, seriously. But she shook her head, her eyes tightly shut.

"I have to keep it inside. This isn't about you...it's about me. Now is not the time to deal with all of my feelings. I didn't know the human psyche was able to handle so many conflicting emotions all at once. I'm so damn angry at whoever is responsible for this. What gives them the right to play God with our lives? And I'm frustrated because we keep running into these dead ends. I'm overwhelmed with this sadness at not being able to be with my child, whom, I might add, I didn't even know existed 24 hours ago!" Scully's voice was almost at a hysterical shout at this point. Her voice wavered. "And I'm afraid. So afraid of what will happen if we do find him. What next? I can't possibly raise a child right now..."

"We," Mulder interjected, firmly.

"WE can't possibly raise a child right now. We have so much work left to do. There's no place in my life for a baby right now. I'd make a terrible mother. Think of all the things he'd be exposed to," she finished. "I suppose that what I have to do for now is concentrate on finding him and the truth about what they did to me and you."

Mulder nodded in agreement. She squeezed his hand. "Since we now we have a bond we can't erase, alienating you would be darn near impossible anyway. You're too persistent. And charming," she added, allowing a small smile to escape her lips.

The piercing ring of Mulder's cellular telephone broke the moment. Mulder searched for the phone, found it, and answered it. "Mulder."

"Agent Mulder?"

"Who is this?"

"I have your son..."


Chapter Four: A NEW-FOUND LEGACY

Mulder edged the car along the muddy alley. He was careful to avoid abandoned boxes and overturned barrels. It was almost dusk. Light enough, though, that Mulder was still wearing sunglasses.

"Do you think this is a set-up?" Scully asked.

"We're about to find out," Mulder answered as he pulled up beside a dark sedan with tinted windows.

The driver's side window of the sedan rolled down to reveal a husky, dark-haired man, also wearing dark sunglasses. He had a cigar in his mouth, and had pulled out a match to light it. The man smirked, his eyes coldly glaring at Mulder.

"No one followed you?" he asked. His thick German accent was quite noticeable.

"Who would want to?" Mulder snapped back. The German arched an eyebrow.

"Let's just say they've probably figured out what I've done by now and are anxious to shut me up like they did Dr. Wheeler," he answered.

"What the hell's going on here," Mulder muttered. He was starting to develop a headache, and was getting irritated by the cryptic words. Scully noticed his discomfort, but kept it to herself.

The German kept cool, and detached. "Tell Agent Scully to get out of the car."

"No. I'm getting really tired of the runaround here. Where's the child?" Mulder demanded.

The doctor leaned forward. The baby was visible sitting in a car seat behind the passenger seat. Mulder could clearly see the child's cap of red curls. He caught his breath, but kept steady.

"What's the catch?" Mulder asks. The doctor inhaled on his cigar, the smell making Mulder nauseous.

"I'm ruined either way. I just thought I'd get back at them. You see, I don't even know who they are. They approached me about 10 years ago when they started this project. I was a military doctor. They paid me well. I don't really care about them, or you, or this child. I know they plan to eliminate all who knew about this project. That's just how they operate. Never leave a trail. Once I heard about what Dr. Brown had done in contacting you, I planned to steal the child for a little...insurance."

"You want our protection?" Mulder guessed, shaking his head.

"No. I want the peace of my from knowing they will suffer by knowing they were not successful in keeping this child from you." The doctor corrected.

"I'm glad we could help you clear your conscious Doctor," Mulder said, obvious distaste in his tone.

"We haven't the time to argue about ethics here. Do you want to come get your child or not, Agent Scully?"

Scully drew her gun and moved towards the car. Mulder drew his and pointed it at the doctor. Scully, not taking her eyes off the doctor, opened the car door and started to remove the seat belt. She was unable to keep her eyes off of him, her little titian-haired son. The doctor noticed the love in her eyes and the tremor in her hands.

"Take the whole seat. I don't want anymore to do with that child, you, your partner, or my former employees."

Scully grabbed the seat and placed it on the trunk of the rental. The doctor added, "Good luck. I don't know how much damage our program has done to his mental state in only a year."

"What are you talking about? What have you done to him, you bastard."Scully took a step towards the car.

"Part of the program called for us to make sure the children received no emotional connection. No touching, hugging, playing. Vital elements in early childhood development. We weren't running a day care center. Just a laboratory."

Sirens began to ring out in the distance. The doctor whipped the sedan in reverse and peeled off, leaving a shattered Mulder and a bereft Scully in the dust.

With trembling hands, Scully began to unstrap the car seat. Mulder placed a hand over hers, signaling for her to stop. "Mulder, what are you doing?" she asked. He glanced at the road, where the doctor had just sped off, worried.

"We need to get out of here. Whoever this doctor was afraid of...we can't waste any time," he said, in a hushed tone.

Scully nodded as she picked up the seat and put it in the back, behind the driver's side. "I just wanted to hold him,"she whispered. She climbed in beside him.

Mulder understood Scully's heartfelt desire and anxiety. The fact that she was on the verge of tears ripped at his heart, but he covered it up with his shield of sarcasm.

"What do I look like, your personal chauffeur?" he asked, nastily. She knew it was an act, but it helped to bring her out of the past.

"We can't waste any time," Scully reminded. "Just drive."

He took it as a sign to move.


The time passed away as the two FBI agents and their new-found legacy drove down the road. Mulder had stopped at a burger joint, and happily ate a cheeseburger. Scully watched him, astonished.

"You know, it must be a miracle that you haven't fallen over from a heart attack," she said. He gave her a sly grin, and ketchup oozed out of the burger. She looked away, with a little sigh of revulsion. "God, that's disgusting."

Mulder pointed to the greasy basket of fries she had in her lap. "Do you want those?" he asked, his mouth full.

Scully looked down at the fries, and groaned. "They're all yours." Mulder took the fries, and popped one in his mouth as though they were candy.

"Did you see the look the sales clerk gave us? I think she suspected something was funny." Mulder looked concerned. Scully gave him a sly look.

"Well I'd think something was funny too if I asked a customer if he was interested in crib lining to match the spread and he asked 'You mean they don't come with lining. Won't the baby fall out?'" Scully quipped.

He chuckled. "Well I think the portable crib will do for now. Until we figure something out we'll have to keep moving around. Oh, I almost forgot...While you were choosing between strained carrots and strawberries and bananas baby food, I got these out of a bubble gum machine." Mulder pulled out two gold wire fake rings, each holding a plastic gem. Scully took one of the rings, rolling it about in the palm of her hand.

"What are these for?" Scully inquired, examining the cheap ring. Immediately, Mulder gave Scully his innocent-little-boy face.

"Oh, I think that we should wear them for appearances." Mulder took the ring from her, and slid it on her left ring-finger.

"Dum dum de dum...." he teased. Scully took off the ring, aimed, and tossed the ring at her partner. It bounced off the side of his head, and she gave him her innocent-little-girl face.

"Ouch," he pouted, rubbing the side of his head. "Love hurts."

Scully smiled, then turned to watch the sleeping figure in back. She smiled, softly, and yearned to ruffle the babe's red locks. "He's so quiet," she whispered. She frowned. "He doesn't make a sound, or cry, or laugh..."

Mulder noticed the sad, wispy note in her voice, and meekly spoke up. "Scully, I didn't want to bring this up, but what if this isn't our child?"

She was shocked, and, oddly enough, saddened. "Mulder..."

"Listen to me, Scully. They've lied to us before..." Before he could go on, she stopped him.

"Fine. I'll administer DNA testing." Her voice was short, and her words clipped. He mentally winced.

"Scully. I believe it's possible. But who knows. Maybe this has all been a lie to set us up with some bogus kidnapping charge. Or maybe we do have a child out there and this one isn't it..."

"Mulder," she said, sharply. Her nerves were shot, and her eyes were like daggers. He stopped talking. "I said that I would do the DNA tests."

"Scully," he said gently. "I think we've had a difficult day. We could both use a little rest. I'll stop at the next motel."


Scully's sharp nails ripped into the plastic packaging, tearing the wrapping into slim ribbons. Mulder came to the conclusion that in her current state of anger, she didn't need a gun to kill him. He shoved his hands in his pockets, his suit jacket discarded, and his tie loosened. He felt horribly guilty for causing her so much pain, but didn't really know how to remedy it. He bowed his head, and looked up again, slowly exhaling.

It just wasn't fair.

Scully grunted, and she glared coldly at her partner. Damn it, why was it that even when she was so pissed at him, he could still be attracted to him? That jerk; he had no right to be gorgeous when he was such a pompous ass. She wished that she could just kill him without missing him or feeling guilty.

Mulder was not oblivious to the hateful glances she fired his way, and tried to bring up the subject.

"Scully," he began, unsure. "About those DNA tests...I think you're taking this all way too personally. I don't trust anyone except you. I just want to be sure. I'm not trying to shake off my responsibility as a father."

Scully shook her head, a grim smile on her face."You say you trust me. Well, Mulder, I truly believe that this is our son. I don't know how or why, but I have this gut feeling....probably maternal instinct."

He nodded his head to pacify her, although she knew he was still uncertain. She wondered...was this how he felt when she disregarded his theories...? Still, she felt angry that the one time she asked him, him of all people to believe her, he couldn't.

"Damn," she cursed, leaning back and swiping at a loose strand of red hair. He looked in her direction.

"What is it, Scully?"

She shook her head, trying to vent some of the anger she held. "I forgot to get a bottle. I was so worried about getting the right diapers, food, and formula, I didn't even think about a bottle. And I didn't get a baby dish or utensils..."

Mulder, seizing the opportunity to make peace, offered, "There was an all night grocery store about a mile up the road. I'll go get them."

Scully managed a half-smile, recognizing that he was trying to make a truce. " Thanks."


What is the point of thirty different brands of formula? Mulder thought, his hands on his hips, his brow furrowed. This is pointless...

A young woman tapped his shoulder, and he jumped, startled. The woman jumped back as well, and he sheepishly apologized. Get a life, he told himself.

"Can I help you?" she asked, meekly. "I didn't mean to scare you..."

Mulder shook his head, a dry smirk on his face. "No, no...it's all right. But I guess I could use a little help. I'm supposed to get a bottle, dish, and utensils for a one-year-old."

She picked up what he needed. "A one-year-old? You looked so lost, I would've pegged you for a brand new father."


Scully yawned, leaning back on her knees with a sigh, and stared at the child who sat quietly beside her. She had just finished unpacking all of the baby's things, and was exhausted, both physically and mentally. She only wanted to sleep, and she wished, as foolish and as childish as it was, that somehow everything would magically work out. She shook her head, and reminded herself that everything did not always work out well.

She smiled softly at her son. "We've had a busy day, haven't we?" she asked. The baby showed a swift reaction, one that seemed like surprise. She pondered that, then shook it off. Nothing, she reasoned. She smiled with reassurance at him, and picked up her child. "Let's go to sleep."

Scully picked up the baby, and lay down on the bed, her hand lightly running through his thick, deep red locks before drifting off into a restful, contented sleep.


Mulder balanced the paper bags of groceries on his hip, and unlocked the door. He paused when he realized that there was no movement in the room, and wished that he had brought his gun. He softly called to her.

"Scu..." he called, then stopped when he saw her, asleep on the bed, her arm curled protectively around their child. He put the bag on the table, and went to her. The moonlight shone upon them, surrounding her in an aura of deep blue light. She looked like a fire born angel, laying beside an icicle cherub. Mulder was moved, and he leaned down, tenderly brushing a strand of her brilliant red hair out of her eyes. She did not stir, and he continued to stroke her fair cheek.

In Scully's dream world, she was suddenly yet pleasantly awakened, and she opened her eyes to see him there, his green eyes filled with warmth. When he noticed her, Mulder quickly drew back, and shoved his hands back into his pockets.

"I'm sorry," he whispered, somewhat embarrassed. "I didn't mean to wake you."

"What were you doing?" she asked, groggily.

He smiled, and looked down at his son."I don't think there will be any need for a DNA test. God, he has your hair, and your skin. Look at his eyes, they're the exact shade of blue...even the light in them..."

His eyes darted between Dana's face and his sleeping son's. She smiled and whispered,"But his face looks so much like yours," she said, with a note of deep affection. "And when he winced when the car door light awakened him earlier, I could swear he had the same dimples. He has your cheekbones, and your nose." She slowly ran her forefinger down his nose, before moving to his mouth. "And...he has your lips. The right side curls up a little, the exact replica of yours..."

In return, Mulder ran his thumb along her bottom lip. "But his are fuller, like yours." He cupped her face in his hands, and she stared into his hooded, brilliant emerald eyes, shaped just like her beautiful son's. He looked down into her eyes, and sought out her love.

They both looked for the love in each other, and Scully breathed heavily, her heart soaring with hope and with love. She closed her eyes, and leaned back her head, ready to meet Mulder as he leaned into her face...

The baby stirred, and the moment was broken. Mulder straightened up, embarrassed again. "This poor kid is probably starving," he said with an unreadable expression. He picked up the baby, and took him to the table.

Scully opened her eyes, and her body sagged on the bed. He was so close...he was almost hers. Almost...

Her heart ached.


Chapter Five: THOUGHTS TOWARD INSANITY

Kingston Motel
San Francisco, California
Sunday, November 10 7:56 am

Scully stirred, the light pouring in from the windows flooding into her eyes. She blinked, clearing her head, and noticed the indention in the pillow beside her, and the rumpled bed sheets. "Mmmm..." she mumbled, and ran her hands over her hair. She was still sleepy and disoriented. "Mulder," she called.

She was confused until she heard the sound of the shower running. She sighed, and put her head in her hands. What a night. What a hellish night. She had been so close...all gone.

Perhaps it was for the best, a little voice inside of Scully mused. This is really no time for any kind of relationship. Their lives were not the only ones at stake now. They had a son...put him first.

But he could have been yours, another voice said, sadly. He was in your hands, and now he's gone again. So close, you could almost taste his lips upon yours, could almost feel his hair between your fingers, could almost hear him whisper her name...

She shook her head, clearing her head of the thoughts. Such thoughts would lead to insanity, she reasoned.

She got up to check on the baby in the portable crib. He was wide awake, his blue eyes piercing and intelligent, so like Scully's own eyes, but they were hooded, shielded, like Mulder's. She picked him up and carried him back to the bed.

"How am I supposed to know if you're hungry, or wet, or if something's wrong," she chided, and clicked on the television set.


Fox Mulder stood under the shower, relieved at finally being able to be alone, and away from his new "family." Privacy was something he cherished, and something that he didn't want to give up without a fight.

Mulder sighed, and realized that there would be no fight. There was no reason for one. He had to take care of his partner more than ever, and his son was now first in his life. So much was going to have to change, and he knew that she was in the same position.

His thoughts drifted to last night. She had been in front of him, just Scully, knowing and understanding, with her sensitivity and her... her passion? Was she there in front of him for the same reason he was there with her?

He remembered the look in her eyes last night, hopeful and full of expectations. She had wanted him to do it; wanted him to kiss her and claim her as his own. Why hadn't he done it? It would have been so easy for the both of them...why hadn't he just leaned down, and met those pouty, perfect lips with his...

He turned off the nozzle, and let the water drip off of his face, still contemplating what to do, until he knew. There was nothing to do but continue to look upon her with love, and think of her, and dream of her...but to do so all in secrecy. All in his mind. He had to put his emotions second. Another life came first.


The noise from the shower stopped. Scully turned her head as Mulder appeared at the door, a thin, stubby, cheap towel wrapped loosely around his waist, his rich brown hair wet. "The kid awake?" he asked, bringing up a hand with a smaller towel to dry his hair.

Scully looked away, a slight blush rising to her cheeks when she saw Mulder's athletic, well-built body. "Yeah. Was he awake earlier?" she queried.

He shrugged. "I didn't hear him."

"You didn't check up on him?" Before he could answer she added, obviously irritated, "Dammit Mulder, he doesn't cry, you should have known better."

He lifted an eyebrow. "Well, I guess someone woke up on the wrong side of the bed."

Scully sheepishly realized she shouldn't have snapped at Mulder. It wasn't his fault; he couldn't help what those monsters had done to their child. And Mulder wouldn't know what to do with a normal child anyway.

Her eyes full of apology, she whispered, "Maybe we ought to take him to a doctor."

"What are we supposed to say? We want our kid to have a checkup pronto because he doesn't cry?" Mulder sat on the bed beside her, the towel still around his waist. Scully suddenly felt awkward and purposefully averted her gaze to the television set. "I guess so. I'm a doctor, Mulder, but not a pediatrician. He seems okay, but what about the experiments Dr. Brown and the man who gave him over mentioned?"

Mulder sensing Scully's uneasiness, stood. "I think we should worry about getting this child back to Washington before we do anything else. There's no telling what they'll do to recover this child and to keep the truth from coming out...Scully what is it?"

Scully had grabbed the remote and turned the volume up. "Mulder look - -It's the man who gave us the baby..."

The morning news anchor's voice filled the silent room. "Dr. Emmett Yates, a retired military doctor was found dead in near his home this morning. A San Jose police spokesman said that this appeared to have been the result of a botched robbery. They have no witnesses or suspects at this time. In other news..."

The two exchanged worried glances. "Get decent Mulder, we have to get out of here." Scully orders.


TJ's Truck Stop
35 miles south of Sacramento
12:30pm

Scully swiftly spoon fed the baby at a booth with cracked vinyl seats near the back of the restaurant. She absently picked at her cold fries. "What I would give for a good steak dinner," she muttered.

"Just how far are you willing to go for one?" Scully jumped at the sound of the rich, velvety voice, until Mulder slid into the opposite booth. She quickly straightened herself up.

"Any luck, Mulder?" she asked, smoothly. He gave her a crooked smile.

"Let's just say that if everything goes as planned, I'll cook you that steak dinner myself when we get home tonight."

She raised her auburn eyebrows in surprise. "Tonight?"

"Yeah, as we speak the Gunmen are hacking into the American Airlines reservations database. Two tickets will be waiting for us in Sacramento. The flight leaves at 1:30. Are you almost finished with him?"

She nodded, and her thoughts shifted to more dangerous things. "Mulder, how do we know 'they' won't be waiting for us at the airport?"

He gave her an innocent smile, turning the natural, Mulder charm first on her and then on their silent child. "Well, Mrs. Grant, why would anyone want to question a normal, happy family with a small child heading to D.C. to visit relatives?"

She gave him an amused look. "Mrs. Grant? How on earth will be ever produce ID?" He gave her a playful and scolding smile. "Tsk, tsk, Scully, I'm offended. Don't you have faith in me? You know I have shady contacts in all 50 states and Peurto Rico to boot. Seriously, Scully. Our fake ID's are being printed as we speak. We need to hurry."

She gave him a swift smile. "Fine. Just let me run change him while you pay the bill."

As agitated as he was becoming about the necessity of hurrying, Mulder was learning not to challenge her about anything that concerned the child.


American Flight 1013

Scully sighed as she unfastened her seat belt. They were pretty sure they had not been followed. Boy, the Gunmen had really come through. They had seats together, something she and Mulder were rarely able to do on cases in such short notice. The baby was securely fastened in a carry on beside the window. She took the middle seat so she could talk to Mulder without disturbing the child. Mulder kept an ever watchful eye on the other passengers from the aisle seat.

A flight attendant stopped to offer them refreshments. She cooed over the baby. "Wow. Your baby is adorable. What's his name?"

"The poor kid probably thinks his name is baby. 'What a cute baby.' 'Oh, look at the baby.'" Mulder laughed as if his joke was funny. The attendant smiled, tightly. Luckily, an elderly woman wanting a blanket diverted her attention.

Scully was grateful. That had been a close call. If she had detected anything suspicious they would be hauled in for kidnapping or something. Not having a name for a child as old as theirs would seem strange.

"Mulder, he needs a name." Scully stated the obvious.

"Anything is fine but Fox." He smiled.

She smiled, wryly. "I wouldn't dream of it. Seriously Mulder, I think we should do this together."

"Scully, I didn't mean to suggest I not take part in naming my own son. I've never thought of names I would like for a child. I never dreamed I'd even be a father."

Scully understood. She had never dreamed she would be a mother after she met him. "How about William, after our fathers?"

Mulder shook his head. "No...my middle name is already William. Besides, my family seems to be cursed...I want this child to have a new start, a new chance at life."

Scully thought for a moment. "Christopher. There isn't any particular meaning behind it. It just seems to fit."

Mulder nodded, and a slow smiled spread across his face. "Christopher Ahab." Scully looked up, surprised. "We all need a little determination."

The baby suddenly began to whimper, as if in response to his new name. He was so quiet, so soft, yet the sound was audible.

"My God, Mulder." Scully smiled at the irony as she wept tears of joy for such a small showing of emotion. She gently stroked the recently named baby's hair. Mulder was also overcome with emotion. He draped one arm around Scully's shoulders and stroked his son's hair with his free thumb. Instinctively, he planted a small kiss in her hair as she leaned back, surprising Scully. "Although we didn't bargain for this," he whispers,"I'm glad out of all the women in the world they could have picked to be the mother of my son, they picked you."

At her raised eyebrow he apologized. "OK. So that sounded cornier than it did in my head."

"I know what you meant, Mulder."

She noticed the baby has fallen back asleep she gently pushed Mulder's hand away, placing her hand in his instead. They sat content, happy to rest for the moment. Both contemplated what lay ahead in D.C.

"I wonder what Mom's reaction will be when I tell her she has a new grandson," Scully mused. "How am I going to explain his heritage? I should tell her as much of the truth as she can handle. She'll never understand how you and I would have a son without ever having..." Scully's voice trailed off suddenly, embarrassed when she realized she had been thinking aloud.

"Yeah," Mulder retorted. "I never even got to participate in any of the joys of conceiving a child with you."

"Mulder. I've figured it out."

"You mean your parents never had that talk about the birds and bees..."

The raised eyebrow stopped him from further teasing.

"I've figured out how we can keep this child and continue our work."


Baltimore, Maryland
6pm

The peeling of the telephone startled Margaret Scully out of the state of contentment she had settled in while reading a novel.

The ring of a telephone was a more frightful sound to her than any she could imagine. As a Navy sea captain's wife, she often sat alert on sleepless nights after not having heard from Bill for weeks - praying that she wouldn't get one of those calls. One that her own mother had received on one dark stormy night. In a matter of minutes she no longer had a father and her children never knew their grandfather.

But she had never received one of those calls. Bill had always safely returned to her. But she never dreamed that she would worry about her daughter the same way. The phone, to her, equaled the melody of funeral bells.

Margaret took a deep breath, and released it in a sea of relief when she heard her youngest daughter's voice. "Dana, is everything OK?"

"Mom, are you sitting down. I have some news..."


Dulles Airport
6:04 P.M.

Dana Scully closed her eyes after gently placing the pay phone on the receiver.

"Well?" Mulder's eyes were full of questions as he struggled to balance a steadily falling Christopher.

Scully's eyes were downcast, and her cheeks were red. "She's shocked. I figured she'd be. Since I didn't have time to give her any details...well, she asked when you were going to marry me."

Mulder's jaw dropped open.

"I told her that I had a lot of explaining to do. But it really doesn't matter what she does or doesn't believe. She practically insisted on helping me raise him. Her other grandchildren live so far away. And she said she has felt so empty since Missy..." Scully's voice caught as it drifted off. "I feel like I'm going to be dumping Christopher on her, but we have no choice. We can't raise him right now and she's more than willing - I don't know why I didn't think of that sooner. And he's not going to be far away."

She took Christopher from the obviously struggling Mulder. He looked harried with a diaper bag slung over a shoulder - half of the contents coming dangerously close to spilling out, a blanket thrown haphazardly over a shoulder, and a very hungry baby sucking on his thumb. "YOU are definitely not ready."

"Someday," Mulder responded. He noticed Scully's eyes flashing alarm signals. "That man over there, in the tweed coat and khakis, he has been standing there the entire time. I think I noticed him when we came out from the gate."

As if in response, the man suddenly swooped a young woman up in a bear hug greeting.

Mulder gave her a sly grin. "Paranoid, Scully?"

Scully shrugged her shoulders and jiggled the baby in her arms, anxiously awaiting Frohike. "I wish he would hurry up and get here so we could leave. We're wasting time. Are you sure they knew what time our flight got in?"

"Scully, they arranged the flight. Maybe traffic is bad."

He grinned as he noticed someone behind Scully. "Or maybe they had a difficult time coming up with an elaborate disguise."

She turned, gasping as her eyes caught sight of a groomed Frohike with a chauffeur's cap and sign with the name Grant etched on it. "What ever happened to subtlety?" she inquired.

The little man darted his eyes about, rapidly. "Let's just go. We can't waste another moment of time. I'm sure they've figured out we're here by now."


Chapter Six: DANCES OF TEMPTATION

Your skin smells lovely like sandalwood
Your hair falls soft like animals
And nothing else matters to me
- Lisa Loeb "Sandalwood", Tails,, 1995

 

New York City 7:56 pm

The aroma of cigarette smoke filled the room with an unpleasant stench. A tall, well-groomed Englishman looked at his well-filed nails with criticism, until the smoking man released his news.

"You moron!" he hissed, furious. "You let them escape with their child? You bumbling fool. The project is as good as gone, now. Wasted, all of our time and money wasted." He shook his head. "An absolute waste."

A stockier man with a low, monotonous voice glared at the smoker. "This will certainly result in a total loss. If you do not act soon, then this could be the biggest security threat we have ever received."

The smoking man was nervous. "Mulder and Scully are a minor problem. We have taken care of them in the past, and we can take care of them in the present. We have nothing to worry about."

He was lying, and the other men knew it. "You had better have something to remedy this situation," the Englishman threatened.

The cigarette-smoking man smiled, slowly inhaling the tobacco, swimming in the luxurious taste of it. "I do..."

He had won.


Washington, D.C.
8:09 pm

Frohike glanced over at Mulder, who was leaning back in his seat, disturbed by something. "Hey, Mulder, what's the deal?" the little man queried. "Is there something that I need to know?"

Frohike had deliberately not been told about Christopher's parentage or origins. He had been left in the dark on purpose. Mulder did not want anyone other than Scully's mother to know about Christopher Ahab until it was absolutely necessary. Mulder shook his head. "No, Frohike..."

Frohike knew that Mulder was lying. Mulder always had been a terrible liar. "C'mon, Mulder," he prodded. "Something is up...and why in the hell did you have that kid with you? I've never known you to be a baby-sitter."

Mulder gave Frohike a look that told him to let it go. "It's nothing, Frohike. Okay?"

Frohike looked hurt. Mulder sighed. God, why couldn't the Gunmen have sent Byers or even Langly? "Look, I'll explain to you when I myself know everything," he promised. This seemed to pacify Frohike...for the time being.

The metallic chiming of Mulder's cellular phone broke the tension, and Mulder reached inside his jacket, answering it. "Mulder," he said in a way of greeting.

"Mulder? It's me," Scully's breathless voice responded. Mulder was immediately alert. Something was wrong; he could tell already.

"What's going on, Scully?" Now Frohike, too, was worried. He could hear the panic in her throat.

"I just got home from Mom's...Mulder, someone has been in my apartment," she said. "It's been wrecked...papers everywhere, files raided...Mulder, I'm going to go back to my mother's."

"No!" he protested, a little too forcefully. Frohike gave him a sly look, and Mulder glared. "Scully, Frohike and I are turning around and going back to get you."

"Mulder, I can take care of myself..."

"I can't let you do it."

Her temper soared. He can't let me do it? That son of a bitch, he knows that I'm perfectly capable of managing this. "Dammit, I'll be fine."

"We're more than partners now, Scully. We have to look after each other. If not for you or for me, then for Christopher. As his father, I have to take care of the mother of my child." The game was up. Frohike was most definitely interested. "Frohike and I will be there in a few minutes."

She sighed. She knew that he was right. There could be no more separate duties. They were more than a team. They were parents. "Okay...I'll be armed and in the hallway."

Before he hung up, he glanced at Frohike. "Scully, please. Be careful. Don't do anything stupid."

She smiled. "And you're telling me this...?"

He chuckled, the deep, throaty tones sending chills down her spine. "I'll see you soon."

As soon as he hung up the phone, Frohike's eyes were on him. "Well, I guess that there's no use in hiding anymore," Mulder mused. "I'll explain on the way to Scully's apartment. You know where it is?"

Frohike gave him a licentious grin. "Moi?"


Apartment of Fox Mulder
Alexandria, Virginia 8:29 pm

Mulder unlocked the door to his apartment with a sense of relief. Home, sweet home, he thought. Scully peered in behind him, and gasped. "Mulder, it's a wreck," she whispered. He winced. His apartment, too, had been ransacked, tables overturned, books tossed carelessly off of bookshelves, papers strewn everywhere. Reflexively, he put his hand to his gun.

"Welcome back," he muttered, before helping Scully with her bags. "Come on, whoever did this did it in a hurry. They're gone now." She nodded, and wrinkled her nose at the natural mess that Mulder had made.

"God, don't you know how to clean?" she muttered, kicking at an empty pizza box and pair of boxer shorts. He smiled wryly, and dropped her bags on the couch.

"Yeah, I just don't like to apply what I learn," he said. She went into his kitchen, hoping to find something to eat. Mulder went to a plant, testing the soil. He winced at the dying flowers. "I never did have a green thumb," he lamented.

Scully closed the refrigerator door, giving up. "Well, if it helps, something is growing in here." She sighed and sat down. "It's hopeless," she murmured. Mulder gave her an exasperated look.

"Fine, I'll call the Maid Brigade tomorrow," he consented. She gave him a dirty look.

"I don't mean the mess...God, how could I have been so stupid, thinking that I could just hand over our son and go on with life?" she whispered. "I miss him already. I want to know that he's all right, to see that he's safe. I don't think I could manage living without him."

Mulder knew how she felt. He could still smell the sweet scent of baby powder on his hands. Shrugging off his jacket, he sat down across from her. Mulder took a deep breath. "This is only temporary, Scully," he assured her. "I don't know if I could live without him either. But one thing is definite. The best place for Christopher right now is definitely not with us, and I'm not sure that he should be with your mother, either." She looked up, startled.

"What do you mean?"

"I mean that the same people that are hunting us down could easily use your mom as a target. They could figure out where we put our son," he reminded. "No one is absolutely safe."

She slowly nodded. "I suppose that you're right...but still..." She frowned. "I'm sorry."

He looked at her, quizzically. "What for?"

She looked into his eyes, those beautiful browny-green eyes. "For doubting you."

Mulder took her hands, holding the small, delicate, white palms in his large, long-fingered, browned ones. "I'm sorry for putting you in this situation," he confessed. "If it wasn't for me..."

"No," she assured. "If it weren't for you, I would have a son with a father I didn't know. If it weren't for you, I would be alone on this...oh, Mulder, if it wasn't you, it would have been someone else. And there isn't anyone I know that I would want to be the father of my child over you."

Mulder's heart soared as he caressed the back of her hands with his thumbs, rubbing them in small, warm circles. The tiny circles on her hands shot fire through her arm, and her heart ached. She smiled weakly yet warmly at him, and he stood up.

"Well, Scully, I promised you a steak dinner, but I'm going to have to call a rain check," he apologized. She nodded.

"I can settle for a pizza."


Scully smiled to herself, pleased. The night had gone well. Mulder had been himself, sarcastically tossing out plans for their child, but getting serious when he had to. Typical, she thought. She opened up a can of diet soda, her second. Mulder, on the other hand, was going to be wired from his seven cans of Coke. She had to give him credit, though, he hadn't gone up to use the bathroom once.

She took a measured sip, and put down the aluminum can. "Mulder, there is one thing that we've avoided that we need to discuss," she said, and he could tell by the seriousness in her voice that this was not the time to be cute. She continued. "Where is he going to live? I think that we both agree that living with my mother is not going to work full-time."

Mulder nodded, slowly. "Yeah...but when we go out of town, we can leave him with her. I would suggest my mother, but after her stroke she couldn't handle a toddler, not even one like ours."

She agreed with him. "All right, so when we're not in D.C., he'll be with Mom. But what about when we are in Washington?"

Mulder knew that she was watching him carefully, awaiting his response. "I think that my apartment could hardly qualify as 'safe'," he said, deliberately watching his words. "It would probably be...best if Christopher lived with you, and I could visit him."

She was hurt and pleased. Visit? Then again, what other choice was there? She could hardly ask him to move in with her, though that tiny voice knew that was exactly what she wanted. She knew it was folly to think so, but she couldn't help what she thought.

"So...that's settled," Scully murmured, rolling her can of soda in the palms of her hands. Mulder nodded.

"Guess so."

Noticing the awkward silence, he cleared his throat, and jumped to his feet. "Hey!" he called out. She looked up, alarmed, and Mulder gave her a devilish smile. He walked to his suitcase, and unzipped it. "When we were in the mall, I picked up something for the baby from a gift shop." Curious as to what kind of present Mulder would buy, she kept her eyes on him, amused.

Mulder pulled out a mobile. Not any regular Fisher Price Mobile, but a plastic mobile with tiny UFOs and stars. The look of pride and pleasure on his face was just too much, and she burst out laughing.

Mulder looked at her, looking slightly hurt. "You don't like it?"

She shook her head, smiling. "No, no. It's perfect." With that secret smile on her face, she stood up. "I love it."

He laughed too, a sound that he rarely treated her with, and put the mobile away. If it didn't make Christopher laugh, it had brightened up Scully. She was suddenly exhausted, and she had no place to sleep. Mulder stood up, and finished his can. "You look tired," he observed. "Look, you can sleep in my bed, and I'll take the sofa."

Scully nodded, knowing that the sofa was the place he slept the most, anyway. "Thanks..." her voice trailed. She walked slowly into Mulder's bedroom, and walked cautiously around in it. It was surprisingly neat, with very few signs that he inhabited it. She looked around, not wanting to pry, but at the same time curious. Scully glanced about the bedroom, and her eyes rested on two photographs.

One was of Samantha, Mulder's long lost sister, so young and full of hope in that particular shot. She was smiling, winking into the camera with a youthful mischievous glitter in her dark hazel eyes, so similar to her brother's. Samantha...Mulder's reason for life, his foundation.

The other one...was of Scully. She caught her breath as she picked up the picture with trembling hands. It was a picture of her that had been taken only a few months earlier, her hair a deep red in the photo, and her eyes a sapphire blue. The camera had caught her off guard, and Scully remembered that picture. Oh, God...Mulder had taken it shortly after he had shot Robert Patrick Modell, the "Pusher." What a hellish nightmare of a case. She would never forget when he had pointed the revolver to his head, and fired the weapon. Tears had freely streamed down her cheeks, and she felt a part of her die as he tried to kill himself.

Why had he chosen that photograph...? That picture of her...Scully examined it closer, and saw what lay in her eyes that day. Her shields were down, and pure, unconditional love rang in her eyes. Why would he select that photograph...?

She sighed, and quietly sat down on the rarely used bed. She smiled at the sloppiness that was so characteristic of him, and at the dark, silky sheets. Why did that not surprise her about him? Scully brushed a strand of her red hair out of her eyes, and silently changed her clothes.


3:47 am

Dana Scully opened her eyes, shocked out of sleep and thrown into reality. There was something wrong, something odd. She listened carefully, and heard moans coming from the other room. She jumped out of bed, her bare feet pounding on the floor, and raced into the living room.

Mulder was tossing and turning on the black leather sofa, his blanket discarded on the floor. She went to his side, her brow furrowed in concern and fear. "Mulder, wake up," she whispered, bending down to place her hand on his shoulder. She shook him, gently at first, then with increasing vigor. "Mulder? Mulder!"

His mouth worked without sound, his lips forming words that he never gave breath to, and she frantically tried to steal him away from his world of slumber. "Mulder, please..." Scully pleaded. "Wake up...Mulder...Fox..."

At the rare sound of her speaking his first name, he opened his panicked green eyes, and murmured her name. "Scully?"

She exhaled, a deep sigh that gave escape to her turmoil. "Mulder, you were having a nightmare," she soothed, putting her hand to his forehead. He shook his head slowly, trying to clear it.

"Another nightmare...just a dream..." he muttered, the words calming not only himself but Scully as well. "Was it just a dream, Scully?"

She nodded. "Yes. Just a dream." She faltered. "Do you want to talk about it...?"

Mulder rubbed the back of his neck with his hand. Secretly, he needed to tell her about the dream, he needed to tell her what he saw, but he couldn't work up the courage. You're such a wimp, he told himself. What a wuss.

"No...it's all right," he promised her. "Go back to sleep." He gave her a smile, but it didn't throw her off. He knew that it wouldn't.

"All right," she said, but the tone in her voice spoke volumes. She didn't believe him for a second, but she knew that there was nothing that she could do to dissuade him.

As she entered the bedroom, Mulder allowed his eyes to follow her, watching her slender body, so lost under the blue silk nightshirt. How could he possibly tell her that the dream was not of Samantha, but of her?

Scully closed the door and locked it, and Mulder buried his face in his hands, that face which held so many similarities to his son's face. He thought about how much Christopher looked like her, and knew that each glance into the baby's face would be just another painful reminder of his unexpressed love.

He didn't know how he would be able to live with the charade when the two of them had to grow so much closer. He didn't know how he could act as though he cared less than he actually did. Every day, he would see her, hear her voice, and he could say nothing. Temptation would dance in his face, and he would be forced to resist. He would have to remain silent.

"How can I tell her that I love her?" he murmured.

The silence offered no solution.


4:34 am

Scully sighed.

She had been unable to sleep after Mulder's nightmare. Her mind was awake, and that meant that there would be no rest until it shut down again. Her body could be exhausted, but once she started thinking, then she was awake.

Not to mention the fact that she was still worried about him. She knew how violent and how disturbing his nightmares could be, and she also knew that if he allowed the dream to unsettle him too much, it could affect his work. That was something that would be horribly inconvenient.

Still, Scully had to admit that part of the reason she was concerned about the dreams was the pain that went with them all. She was always deeply bothered by that haunted, shadowed look in his eyes.

"This is pointless," she muttered, and got out of the bed.

As soon as she entered the living room, she was shocked by the chill in the room. She tiptoed to his side, and looked down at Fox Mulder.

His innocence was stunning in sleep. All of his guards were down, all of his castle walls abandoned. She sighed, slowly, taking in Mulder in his existence.

She longed to be able to touch him, but resisted, knowing that that would only disturb his few hours of peace. She wondered what he was dreaming of that put that slight, kind smile on his lips. He looked so young in slumber, so wonderfully young. Scully marveled at how he appeared to be no more than twelve when he was, in reality, thirty-six. With a trembling hand, she reached down, allowing herself to place her fingertips on his cheek. His skin was so soft...she gently, lovingly stroked his face. Curious thoughts and questions entered her head, and they swam lazily about in her mind.

I wonder what he smells like...

His hair always seems so silky...

Look at how long his lashes are...

His lips...

Scully opened her eyes, and almost jumped. What in the name of God was she doing? She had her head bent over his, and her fingers were entwined in Mulder's dark hair. My God, she had almost kissed him...and he hadn't even stirred. Funny, he was so paranoid in consciousness that she had been sure that he would have waken up by now. But he had not stirred. In fact, she thought that she detected a smile on his face...

Scully straightened up, and removed her hand. She was thrust out of her reverie, but still in awe at his youthful vulnerability while he lay in lethargy. She thought it odd, that while he seemed so much wiser than his years, he was still that frightened, lonely, guilt-ridden adolescent that he had been when he was twelve.

Dana picked up the blanket that still lay on the floor, and quietly tucked him in. "Good night," she whispered, and she coiled up in a chair across from him. Letting her eyes rest on his calm, innocent face, she uttered three last words.

"I love you."

Her last thought before she entered the inviting world of dreams was of how good he had smelled.


Chapter Six: The American Dream

A new life
What I wouldn't give to have a new life
One thing I have learned as I go through life
Nothing is for free along the way

A new start
That's the thing I need to give me a new heart
Half a chance in life to find a new part
Just a simple role that I can play

A new hope
Something to convince me to renew hope
A new day
Bright enough to help me find my way

A new chance
One that maybe has a touch of romance
Where can it be...this chance for me?

A new dream
I have one I knew that very few dream
I would like to see that overdo dream
Even though it never may come true

A new love
Though I know there's no such thing as true love
Even so, although I never knew love
Still I feel that one dream is my due

A new world
This one thing I want to ask of you world
Just one chance to prove the cynics wrong...

A new life
More and more I'm sure as I go through life
Just to play the game and to pursue life
Just to share its pleasures and belong
That's what I've been here for all along
Each day's a brand new life...
- "A New Life", Jekyll and Hyde

 

Apartment 42
Alexandria, Virginia
Monday, November 11 7:56am

Mulder lazily opened one eye, and through a haze of sleep, saw the sun pouring his shaded windows. He moaned, wanting more time but knowing that he had to wake up. He slowly sat up, and the blanket that had been carefully tucked under his chin fell to his lap. Funny, he didn't remember having a blanket. He yawned, and as he massaged his temples with his fingers, he noticed someone else in the room.

Scully was curled up in an armchair, her red hair shining in the light. He wondered how she got in the room; she was supposed to be in his bedroom. When had she gotten up?

Mulder slowly stood, and his mind started to wake up. He blindly walked to the kitchen, and yawned. Coffee. Coffee.

In his sleep-ridden daze, he tripped over the telephone wire. "Shit!" he yelped, before stumbling to the floor. He moaned, and cursed again when he saw the telephone had been ripped right out of the wall. He crawled over, and picked it up. A bright red light caught his sharp eye, and he looked at it, curiously.

His apartment had been bugged. They had been monitored.

Mulder panicked. "Jesus Christ." Their careful plans, the location of the baby...oh, Christ. He glanced over at the sleeping woman in the chair, and his heart leapt into his throat. He had to go get Christopher. That was all that mattered. Their son was in danger; that was all that he needed to know.

Mulder went into the bedroom, quickly put on a pair of blue jeans and a flannel shirt, and got his familiar, comfortable, black leather jacket. He put his cellular phone into the pocket of the jacket, and scribbled a note for the unconscious woman in his living room. After one last fleeting look at the object of his desires, he left her.

While in the car, he called Mrs. Scully.

"Mmmm...hello?" she responded, slowly waking up.

"I'm sorry I woke you," he apologized. Immediately, she perked up.

"Oh, no, Fox. I was just going to get up," she lied. He knew that she had had plans to sleep in longer. "What is it? There isn't anything wrong, is there?"

"I don't know yet," he assured. "I just wanted to make sure that there weren't any problems with the baby."

"Christopher's doing well. But there is one thing...Fox, he never cries or speaks. What's wrong with him?"

"It's a long story, one that I promise you'll hear," he vowed. "Mrs. Scully, have you noticed anything suspicious? Anything out of the ordinary?"

He detected a note of concern in her voice. "No...Fox, what is going on? Why should I be looking for anything suspicious? I think that I deserve the entire story here, and I want to know everything. Not later. Now."

"Mrs. Scully, now is not the - " She cut him off.

"Now."


Scully slowly stirred, unaware of her surroundings, and rather confused. Where was she...Scully then recognized the interior of Mulder's apartment, and groaned. Her back was sore from the uncomfortable sleeping position, and her eyes were clouded. She blinked, and her vision returned. Mulder was gone.

She stood up, and stretched, then searched the apartment, calling his name. Dammit, where was he? Finally, in the kitchen, she found the note. It was a Post-It, stuck on a pot of coffee. Picking up the note, she read it.

Scully,
Apartment bugged. Say nothing that is important. Will return with baby.
Mulder

She sighed, and picked up the pot of coffee. Trouble...that wasn't much of a surprise. Scully made herself a pot of coffee, and sat down at his kitchen table. She thought about the tiny, innocent infant who said volumes with his blank, expressionless face. Was it fate that every day of her life, she would look at Christopher Ahab and only see a cold, mechanical version of her partner? Was it mere irony?

There were many things that disturbed and unsettled her. There were images that haunted and stalked her. She would never forget the sight of the dead lepers in Perkey, West Virginia. She would never forget the cold, confident smile of Robert Patrick Modell. She could never forget the desperate, calculating voice of Luther Lee Boggs. Now, she had one more thing to add to her list of visions: her child's handsome face.

She closed her eyes, and all that she saw was the tiny, perfect face of her only child, a child that belonged to both her and Mulder. She wanted to cry, thinking of the flawless blend of Mulder's dark good locks and her fiery coloring. They would never forget the pain when they saw that baby. From the child's flaming red hair to his slightly awkward nose...Christopher Ahab was both Dana Katherine and Fox William.

Scully stood up, slowly, and went into the bedroom. She needed to get dressed and repack. Judging from the urgency of the note, he would probably be back with a desire to run.

As she got dressed in a simple pair of jeans and a sweater, she kept her eye on the door. As a last thought, she put her holster on her belt, and secured her gun in the holster. "Better safe than sorry," she muttered, and reached for her brush. As she ran it through her hair, it crackled with electricity. She thought about her son's own cap of titian hair, and smiled, a hint of sadness on the corners of her mouth.

Scully zipped up her bag, and brought it into the living room. Funny, she thought, I know his apartment almost as well as I know my own...yet for some reason, everything seems different. She smiled, a quick flash of sunlight in the gloom of the day.

The door opened suddenly, and Scully pulled her gun on the intruder, her eyes wide and panicked. Her heart leaped into her throat, and she sighed with relief when she recognized the "burglar."

Mulder stood there, a sly grin on his face. In one arm, he haphazardly carried their red-haired, calm child. "Hi, honey, I'm home," he greeted, sarcasm oozing from his voice.

She dropped the weapon, and gave him an irritated glare. "Do you remember what a doorbell is, Mulder?" she asked, putting the gun back.

Mulder handed her her son, and she felt a wave of contentedness wash over her. He felt so good in her arms. She planted a kiss on Christopher's head, and Mulder slowly averted his eyes. "Sorry," he apologized. She nodded at him, telling him that she understood without saying a word.

"You're out of milk," she said, carefully selecting her words. "I don't have my car. Will you drive me?"

Mulder saw how her words were calculated, and he nodded. "Sure. Let me get my wallet."

Scully sat down, and rested the infant on one knee. It felt good to hold him again, to see that tiny, perfect face, familiar in more than one way. There was no evil in the innocence she beheld. She could only see pure potential, potential for great strength and for great hope. She held her child closer, and felt guilty, knowing that the security she offered him now was a false security. She was not helping him in the least, and was only giving him a lie.

Mulder emerged from the bedroom, carrying a suitcase that was hastily packed. He looked at the mother and child, and took her suitcase in his other hand. "Come on," he said, and she stood up, holding the baby in her arms.

"All right," she said, and followed him out the door.

Mulder drove quickly, darting his eyes about, nervous. He kept glancing in the rearview mirror, and she sighed.

"All right, we aren't being monitored," she reminded. "Where are we going? Where can we go?"

Mulder sighed, and tapped his fingers on the steering wheel. "To our 'friends'," he alluded. She arched an eyebrow.

"Oh, our 'friends'..." she mused. "The same friends that helped us back into Washington?"

Mulder nodded. "Those 'friends'."

Scully sighed, but nodded. She supposed that they were the only friends that they could turn to, but she was still hesitant to put her trust into anyone but him with their baby. "How can they help us?"

He gave her a dry look. "Trust me...they can."


The Offices of The Lone Gunman
Washington, D.C. 11:00 am

Byers opened the door to reveal the two agents, Mulder holding Christopher in his arms, and Scully carrying the baby bag. Byers chuckled, and let them in. "Such a sight is a rarity these days," he said. "Two federal agents with an infant. Come in, Mulder. We want the story."

He entered the room and sat down in a chair. "I thought that Frohike told you what happened," he said, confused. Langly nodded, and polished his thick glasses on his T-shirt advertising the Hush Puppies from Hell.

"We heard the main story, but we want the details," he explained. "And Frohike had some embellishments that you probably don't care to hear."

"Far beyond the limits of good taste," Byers added. Mulder nodded, understanding. "We sent him on an errand. He won't be back for a while."

For the sake of the two remaining Gunmen, Mulder repeated the case, while Scully looked intently at the father and son. Would she ever be able to look earnestly at them without thinking of the deplorable conditions surrounding the conception? She wondered if she would ever get over the lies, the deception, the greed surrounding this innocent child. And she wondered if her son would ever be able to live a happy, normal life.

"So, there you have it," Mulder finished. "That's all of it."

Langly bent down over the child, examining him. The child stared back up at Langly, expressionless. "I can see the resemblances," the blond man said. Scully wanted to laugh. How could he not? The baby had Mulder's face...

Byers sat down. "So, what exactly do you know? It would seem to me that there is still a great deal that you don't know about this baby and his origins, and still a great amount that you need to find out."

"We know a precious amount of information," Mulder admitted. "I suppose that at the moment, we're more concerned with the safety of the baby, though. Answers can wait."

Scully was surprised to hear him say that, but somewhat pleased. He had really pulled through on this, taking complete responsibility with Christopher. He knew that the truth would have to wait, that this time security was what mattered. "But there are still truths that need to be uncovered," he said, and she knew that he was still himself. "There are still innocent lives that are in danger, and the victims of this experiment still need to be told about their children."

Langly nodded, agreeing. "You can stay with us if you want," he offered. "And I'm sure that Scully is always welcome in La Chateau de Frohike."

"I think I'll pass," Scully said, sourly. Mulder smirked, and shifted the baby.

"We both will have to pass," he said. "We have to stay on the run, and I don't want the three of you put in danger. You would risk 'exposure', anyway."

"Worth it for you, Mulder," Langly said, his tone falsely sweet. "Besides, this is a great story."

"Well, this eyewitness is telling you to hold the presses," Scully ordered. "Nothing on this. This isn't the Elvis conspiracy, guys. This is serious."

Langly gave her an innocent look. "Who, us?"


12:09 pm

As Scully opened up the car door, her cell phone rang. "Oh, Jesus," she muttered, and Mulder groaned.

"I thought you had it turned off," he said.

"I turned it on when we got out of the office," she explained, and answered.

"Scully," she responded, and she winced when she recognized the voice on the other line.

Walter Skinner, the Assistant Director of the F.B.I., had found her. And he was furious.

"I see you've decided to start answering your phone, Agent Scully," he said, his voice barely controlling his anger. "Would you like to tell me where in the hell you and Agent Mulder have been for the past few days?"

"Sir, there's a logical explanation- "

"Well, I think that you had better give it to me."

"For the situation we're in, and as soon as I have found that explanation, I will be prepared to give it to you," she finished. Mulder looked at her, his heart sinking. There was no one else it could be. Skinner.

Skinner's frown could be felt over the phone line. "Agent Scully, I want an explanation now."

She knew that she was going to regret her next move, but she had to get off of the phone. "Sir? Sir, you're breaking up... sir, I can't hear you..." She turned off the phone, and sighed. Mulder looked at her with an amused look on his face.

"Nice move, Scully," he complimented. She arched her eyebrows, her expression unreadable.

"I learned it from you," she retorted. She got in the car, strapping Christopher into the car seat. "We have to go somewhere..."

He sat next to her, and buckled his seat belt. "Well, where do you suggest we go?"

If she had had the courage, she would have told him to take her and their son away, far away from there. To some hidden paradise, a sanctuary. A place where they would be able to be together, a place where there would be no secrets. No men in black waiting to steal away their shot at happiness. She so wanted to flee. She wanted to abandon all of her responsibilities, and indulge herself in happiness and in pleasure.

What was so wrong with a worry-free life? What was so wrong with joy and eternal love? Wasn't that the American dream? The dream to be able to aspire to become anything, to be free of any repression and of any tyranny, the dream to be free to worship whichever God you wanted without persecution, to be able to practice any profession you chose without consequence, to love anyone you wanted openly without fear of being torn apart...

Over the past few years, she had learned the hard way that the American dream was dead, destroyed by a group of evil men that lived in the shadows and dictated the lives of the American public, deciding what was the truth and turning fact into fiction. She had been held back, ruled over, abused, violated, and tossed into a state of near-constant fear. By trying to rebel against those men, she had only given herself up to their rule.

Scully longed to escape.

Mulder studied her sad, hopeless, and tired face, his heart wrenching at not being able to do anything. He was helpless, unable to take away any of her hurt and pain. He yearned to touch her, to be able to trace the outline of her jaw, but he knew that such a simple grazing of his fingertips to her flesh would make him lose control. "Where do we go from here?" he asked her, his voice low and gentle. She turned her worn-out, weary eyes to him, and he saw how much she had aged in the past few days.

"Any place where we can survive," she said, and he almost died inside. For her words were truth, and that was the only place to go. They would retreat into anonymity, and hide. Hide like cowards...the thought was unattractive, yet it was their only hope...to be tucked away like secrets that were never meant to be told.

His jaw grimly set, Mulder started the car, and started to drive. She raised her eyebrows. "Where are we going?" she asked.

He turned his head to her, and he licked his dry lips, nervous. "Do you want the truth?" he asked her.

She nodded. "Of course."

He swallowed. "I don't know."


New York City
5:09 pm

The smoking man drew in on his cigarette. After the past twenty-four hours, he had needed his addiction. It supplied him with the only sense of peace he could achieve. The inhalation of the tobacco, its taste that rolled around in his mouth, the final satisfying exhalation...he never had been able to quit.

Besides, the years that the cigarettes would take off of his life were unnecessary, anyway. Why would anyone wish to live into old age, a burden to society, feeble, weak, and troublesome? He had strict beliefs about his importance to mankind, and he did not want to fade away from his position in the project. He would die fighting.

The nobility that surrounded a heroic death was desirable...

The smoking man tapped his fingers on the television set, which replayed the footage that had been shot at Fox Mulder's apartment. The technician was editing, cutting, redoing the graphics, and improving the quality of the tape. The technician had no idea about the importance of that footage. He was a servant, a lap dog that needed the money and the opportunity.

There was never a shortage of lap dogs these days.

Which, of course, suited his purpose perfectly. The degredation of the integrity of man, the increase of deception and greed, the desire for power and control over a world gone mad had fit in perfectly. Mankind had lost sight of the truth, and wanted no part of it. The truth was painful, and lies had seduction and pleasure surrounding them. Humanity did not want to feel pain.

Except for those select few who still had vision and were not lost. And two of those human beings had become an extensive threat to the project's security.

Their conversation that night had been light yet serious, and sometimes dangerously profound. The smoking man watched the replay, narrowing his eyes as a predator would, staking out his prey.

"We should set up a college fund," Scully had mused, and Mulder had laughed.

"I always knew there was a reason I never threw my pennies in the fountain and made a wish," he said. She smiled briefly, and looked intently at him.

"Mulder, if there was such a thing as a magic well, and all you had to do was throw a penny in and wish for your dreams to come true, would you still wish for your sister?" she queried.

"You ask me a difficult question, Scully," the agent mused, slowly measuring his words. "I still want her back...twenty-four years can never change what I went through. But over the past few days, I've had to change who I am. Not just for Christopher, but for you. We're a family. A dysfunctional and highly unusual family, but we're still a family. And we always will be." She smiled, and the smile sent a look of warmth and life through her pretty young face. "So, Scully, if I had to make a wish, I would wish that we would always be safe...I'd wish for security."

She looked at him, her eyes tender and loving. "What about your search for the truth?"

The smoking man had heard the answer that Mulder would give many times before, but the response still filled him with a small sense of dread. The young agent's eyes burned with intense heat, and his words were serious and meaningful.

"If anything, my resolve is stronger."

The smoking man stubbed out the cigarette. He was starting to think that maybe the cigarettes weren't such a good idea after all. He turned to the technician. "Skip to the nightmare."

The technician looked warily at his superior. "Sir, may I ask why?"

The smoking man glared at him. "No. Just do it and don't ask questions." The technician, fearing the smoker's wrath, obeyed.

Not asking questions was the key to getting ahead in the world. Obedience was a necessity. One followed the orders of his superiors, without questioning his reasoning or motivation. In a way, it was a return to the old times, when the younger men did as the elders commanded. The modern world still had hope as long as there was order in the system, and men who could control the system. "Manipulate" was too harsh of a word, he thought. He preferred to say "maneuver."

The technician stopped the tape, and pressed play. The enhanced sound and picture added to the drama of the situation. A frightened Mulder being soothed by a worried Scully. He watched in pleasure as Mulder's still-wide eyes watched the young woman walk back to his bedroom, and slowly smiled as the agent put his head in his hands and whisper some of the most wonderful words he had ever heard.

"How can I tell her that I love her?"

The smoking man smiled, and lit up another cigarette.

Perhaps the old habit still had its perks.


Chapter Seven: STOLEN TREASURES

American Cherokee Inn
Raleigh, North Carolina
Tuesday, November 12 12:34am

Mulder stopped the car, and looked down at his partner. She had fallen asleep long ago, and she now lay in sweet slumber, her eyes tightly locked shut, and her breathing slow and regular. He passed her over with loving eyes, and looked to his son in the back, who just stared back at Mulder with no expression in those Scully-esque eyes of his. He was silent, and he seemed to be mutely observing the two agents. Mulder couldn't help but wonder if Christopher knew that he and Scully were his parents.

Mulder stepped out of the car, and went around the back. Though his heart wasn't in it, he made sure that a smile was on his face. Imitating those proud fathers at the Bureau, he tapped his fingers on the glass. Usually, those babies would smile and laugh at the sight of their fathers, but his child just stared at him, his emotions guarded.

He sighed. This was probably the one and only chance at fatherhood he would ever have, and his child didn't even care. Mulder had long ago tried to put his personal life out of the way, declaring it insignificant in his greater purpose. Of course, that was why Christopher had been born. To weigh him down and anchor him to his personal life. To get in the way of his quest for the truth. Mulder was actually rather surprised that they insisted on pursuing the trio. It would serve their purpose if he was allowed to keep the baby.

The most bizarre thing was how quickly he had grown attached to the child. He had only known his son for a matter of days, and already he couldn't bear to imagine a life without him. He loved the silent infant, the child who did not speak or show any emotion. Mulder thought that the child could one day break out of that almost comatose condition, and show his persona.

Mulder picked up the baby, and jiggled him in his arms. He then knocked on Scully's window, and she slowly came to. "Mulder?" she murmured, her eyes heavy still.

"We're staying here for the night," he explained. "I'm afraid that if I see one more billboard for 'Hooters', then I'll lose all of my integrity and get tempted."

"Mulder, haven't you lost it already?" she asked, still sharp after a long nap. He gave her a nasty look, and helped her get out of the car. Her knees almost buckled from being in the car for so long, but it did feel good to be awake again. Scully smiled at the sight of her precious son in her partner's strong arms, and placed a kiss on Christopher's forehead. For a moment, Scully thought that she detected surprise on the infant's sweet face, but it was soon gone.

The agents unloaded the car, and took all of the baby supplies into the sleazy motel. To Mulder, it looked like the seedy kind of joint two horny high-school kids would go to in order to lose their virginity. He wouldn't be surprised if the place had been visited by a couple of those "Hooters" waitresses.

The owner of the motel came up to meet him and Scully. "Howdy, sir," the man said, keeping his hands on his belt. "Mighty nice night, ain't it?"

The guy looked like a victim of a Jeff Foxworthy joke. "We would like a room for the night," Scully spoke up, her voice strong and cool. The man smiled even broader.

"Well, sure thing, little lady. Let me sign y'all both on in."

As the owner went to get their keys, Scully leaned into Mulder's ear. "If there are mounted animal heads on the walls, I'm taking my son and sleeping in the car," she threatened.

"Not if I can beat you to it," he countered.

The room was sufficient, and barren of very little decor. "You folks aren't from these here parts, are you?" the owner asked.

Mulder shook his head, amused. "No, we're from D.C."

The man shook his head. "I tell you something. As long as that Clinton fellow's in the White House, we folks down here won't be getting nothing. Damn Yankee boy." The man walked away, grumbling, leaving the agents to stare after him.

With his eyes still on the owner's back, Mulder spoke. "Think I should have reminded him that Clinton was from Arkansas?" She smiled tightly, and sat down on the bed. She was both physically and mentally exhausted. All that she wanted was a good night's sleep and a shower. Mulder noticed that she was about ready to fall asleep, and swiftly took the bag from her. "Here, let me set up the crib. You take your shower first."

She smiled, sheepishly. "Do I smell that bad?"

His humor suddenly gone, he looked her straight in the eye. "No." He wanted to tell her that she smelled like fresh rose petals and lilacs, but he didn't have the courage to do so without fear of being laughed at. Her eyes slowly looked away, and she kept a blush from rising to her cheeks. Quietly, she took her clothes and a bathrobe into the bathroom.

Mulder put up the crib, and struggled with the bars. He struggled to keep from cursing. Scully would kill him if their child's first words to them were "you motherfucking piece of shit, I'm going to murder your ass with my pacifier of death." The child watched, and Mulder wondered if he was amused under that cold demeanor. Mulder put the child in the crib.

Christopher stood, his eyes alert, and his face expressionless. Mulder bent low, and met the baby's eyes. God, why did he have to have a parody of Scully's lively eyes, dead and fathomless?

"Hello, Christopher," he said, feebly. The baby said nothing. Mulder tried again. "Do you know who I am?"

No response.

Mulder broke. The restraint, the trauma...his child couldn't be so cold, he couldn't be so chilling. What horrible force had so ruined his baby? This was his son, his son, his goddamned son, and now what had happened?

He kneeled down to his red-haired child's eye-level, and the baby did not move. "Christopher," Mulder said. "Christopher Ahab!"

Scully slowly, unobtrusively, opened the bathroom door, and swallowed her tears. The sight she saw was frightening, and heart-breaking. "Please, please," Mulder begged, his hands folded as if in prayer. "Christopher, Christopher, I'm your father!"

Scully's eyes began to tear up, and the image blurred. "Speak to me, please, please please please..." She clapped her hand over her mouth to keep back her sharp cry. Slowly, she retreated back into the bathroom, and turned on the shower.

Scully slipped out of the robe, and entered the shower, hoping that the pelting water would drown out the sound of her partner's pathetic pleas, but the whimpers echoed in her head. Scully shut her eyes, and sagged against the side of the shower stall, sliding to the floor, her salty tears mingling with the warm water. She huddled in the corner of the tub, hugging her knees to her chest, and sobbed for her stolen treasures.


Scully left the bathroom, wearing a green silk pair of pajamas, her hair brushed and curled to perfection. Her partner was lying on the bed, his eyes staring up at the ceiling. She couldn't keep that pitiful shadow of Mulder out of her mind, and knew that she had to talk to him. She sat down next to him, and put her hand on his shoulder.

Mulder couldn't take it. She had to stay away from him. He was not the same man he usually was. Her touch usually brought comfort, now it only brought temptation and guilt. He was ashamed that he had caused their child to be so devoid of emotion and personality, ashamed that he had caused her pain, and absolutely ashamed about the fact that he couldn't even handle his own damned love for her. Not that night...

But her words, her voice soothed all of the cracks and breaches. Her words, soft, caring, and affectionate, and her sweet voice took that pain away. "What's wrong?" she asked.

"I feel trapped," he admitted. "Like I should be out there, trying to save our son's only chance at stability. Trying to keep us safe. Trying to get all of those other children away from that prison."

She shook her head. "In a way, we're lucky. We have our child. We know each other, and can raise this baby together. We'll be able to stay together. I know how hard it is to be inactive. Believe me, I blanch at the very thought of those poor children out there, their parents not knowing that they need their help. But we have to make sure that we'll survive...that's what matters first."

He held her arm for a moment, and looked to the now sleeping Christopher. "I wonder what he's like under that shell," he said. "Does he have your skepticism? Your strength? Your intelligence?"

"Does he have your intensity? Your passion? Your instincts?" she added. Secretly, she wondered if Christopher had his father's innocence, that vulnerability that made her heart ache.

And he wondered if he had that wisdom that made him ponder the mystery of Dana Katherine Scully...

He sighed, and stood up. "You take the bed," he offered. "Let me take the sofa." She seriously considered telling him that they could share it, then lost her nerve. She nodded, and tucked herself in.

"Good night, Mulder."

She got no response, though he had whispered,"Good night, Dana."


11:34 am

Scully carefully appraised her appearance in the mirror. She looked good, fairly decent, which helped when she had gotten about three hours worth of sleep. Strange, but she actually wished that she had been woke up by the demanding cries of her son. No such luck. She had gotten awoke by Mulder's insomnia and his pacing.

The dark purple of the suit was an unusual color on her, but it made her look like a flaming iris, with the tip on fire. Her hair looked good, perfectly in place. She skillfully applied makeup to cover the rings under her eyes, and looked at the mirror closer.

God, it was impossible to believe that she had had a baby. Her abdomen was flat, her stomach muscles taut. She was slender, and youthful. She had to wake up and face reality, though. She had had a child. No way around it.

Scully slipped into her heels, and walked out of the bathroom. Mulder was cautiously feeding Christopher something that looked green, and she decided not to ask what was in it. He looked almost comical, concentrating heavily on not messing up his son.

While Scully's beauty was one of perfection and elegance, Mulder's was one that relied on chaos and mayhem. He was dressed in his usual suit, sans jacket, with the sleeves rolled up to just below the elbows and the still irritating tie loosened. He had a languid, careless grace to him that he was unaware of. The truly remarkable thing about Mulder was that he was oblivious to the charm and beauty that he possessed. He was a shameless flirt at times, but he had no idea that she was always stunned and dazed by him.

He looked up at her, oblivious to the fact that she had been staring at him. "I packed up our stuff," he said. "We ought to be able to leave after he's done."

She let herself ask that dreaded question. "Mulder, what is that stuff that you're feeding him?"

He gave her an innocent look. "Canned baby harp seal." She gave him a look that told him that she wanted a serious answer. "Strained spinach. I know, I know. I tasted it. It's not so bad."

She arched her eyebrow, a classic Scully expression of disbelief and amusement. "You ate baby food?"

"What, Scully, you don't?"

The answer was so typically Mulder that she let it slide. She sat next to him, and helped him feed their son. Between smiling warmly at her son and at her partner, she was beginning to feel as though they were becoming a family.

Then, all hell broke loose.

The door was kicked open, and Mulder dropped the baby dish onto the floor in horror and shock. No, no, they couldn't have found them...

Men in dark suits raced in, flooding the tiny room with their uniformity and their stature. Mulder immediately picked up Christopher, and Scully tried to draw her gun. She was grabbed by a man, and her arms were twisted behind her back. She cried out in pain, and Mulder snapped his head in her direction. "Scully!" he gasped, and felt the baby being ripped from his arms. She screamed, and one more man entered the room, a smile that conveyed pure evil and loathing stretched across his worn face.

In his mouth was a Morley's cigarette.

"Get them and bring them all out back," the "cancer man" ordered. Mulder tried to charge at him, but was restrained. Mulder was brought to the ground, still writhing in protest, as was Scully. The smoking man towered over Mulder, and blew cigarette smoke in his face. Mulder started coughing, and the smoking man observed this with little emotion.

"So, Mr. Mulder, you have seen your future...and now you will watch as it is taken from you forever."

"NO!" Scully screamed, and she continued to scream as the two were dragged outside. He desperately reached for her arm, and she grasped his for an instant, before the men dragged her in one direction and him in another. "MULDER! MULDER!" she cried.

"SCULLY! NO!" he cried back, reaching to her still with his arms.

Just before a rag was placed over her mouth, out of the corner of her eye Scully caught sight of her beautiful child being carried away in the arms of the cigarette-smoking man, and she called out for her stolen baby until she passed into unconsciousness.

Mulder watched as his partner was dragged away, limp and lifeless, and his adrenaline rushed. Instead of drugging him, the hilt of a gun connected with his head, and he fell into pain with a fighting spirit.


Chapter Eight: UNTARNISHED HEARTS

I'll give you a million things I'll never own
I'll give you a world to conquer when you're grown
You will be who you want to be, you
Can have whatever Heaven grants
As long as you can have your chance
I swear I'll give my life for you
- "I Swear I'd Give My Life For You" Misss Saigon

 

Locaction Unknown

The first thing that Dana Scully saw when she woke up was her partner. She forced her still-groggy mind to come to, and she was alert when she noticed that he had been tied up. "Mulder," she whispered, her voice hoarse. But when she tried to move, she realized that she, too, was in ropes. She grunted slightly, trying to break free.

A low, masculine chuckle broke her struggling. "Ah, so you have come to, Ms. Scully. We were beginning to wonder when you would ever join us."

She turned her attention away from Mulder to look at their captor and their surroundings. They were in a white room, sterile looking, bare of everything but a television, a V.C.R., and a security camera in the corner. They were in the center of the room, Mulder facing Scully. For some odd reason, while Scully's legs had been tied demurely at the knees and ankles, Mulder's legs were parted, one tied to each leg. She supposed that their captors had figured that Mulder would need the most restraint. God, they were so close that she could brush her fingertips with his. But it wasn't the same. She wanted to feel the warmth of his full grip, her hand in his. She gasped when she saw the blood in his dark hair, and realized that while she had been lulled into oblivion, he had been beaten.

Scully turned to the man before them both. "Who are you?" she demanded. "What do you want from us? Where is our son?"

The man smiled, and she could almost feel the evil that poured from him. It was corrupt, deceptive, and full of unspoken evil. He shook her head at her actions. "No, no, my dear Ms. Scully. We have a few things to discuss. So many questions, my dear. You are being taken out, for once and for all. My name for today will be Mitchell. And your son is where he belongs. That's all that matters."

Her heart was plummeting. She had lost him, oh, God, she had lost him, and she didn't know if she would live to find him.

Mulder had long since ceased to fight through the ropes. "Why are we being taken out?" he demanded.

Mitchell cocked his head. "Isn't that obvious? You've asked too many questions. You have been the biggest threat that we have ever seen. Today, we end your quest for the truth. But you need to learn a few things, first."

Scully resigned from fighting the ropes. She was trapped. As the world spun in front of her, she managed to keep her calm. "What do we need to learn?"

Mitchell's smile grew wider. "Let's let the television set tell us. The night of November 10 was quite an interesting night, wasn't it, Mr. Mulder? Some surprising things, as you may recall."

Mulder was immediately uncomfortable. "You already know what went on that night," he spat. "You already know what we discussed. Leave it at that, okay?"

Scully saw his barely masked fear. What was he hiding? He was trying desperately hard to keep something from her...but it was too late. Mitchell was selecting a tape.

"We had cameras there that night," he explained. "Very well-placed, very high-tech. We only use the best. But, after you decided to retire for the night, we caught some interesting footage. Our information was complete, and we really didn't need to keep taping, but we decided to see if there was anything else." Mulder flinched, nervously. "Agent Mulder, apparently, had a bad dream. Do you remember what you dream about?"

Mulder gave the tall, military-like man a pleading look. "It was a dream, dreams don't - " Mitchell pulled a gun, pressed the barrel to Scully's temple, and cocked the hammer. Mulder froze, his eyes on hers. She saw only fear in those green orbs, and it was reflected in her own eyes.

"Tell us about the dream," Mitchell ordered. "This is something that I find interesting. Just tell me and your lovely partner about your nightmare." Mitchell gave Mulder a cruel and ruthless smile. "She's quite a beauty, isn't she?" He put his thumb to Scully's mouth smearing her lipstick. She sat, still, composed, like a marble statue. Mulder, however, did not remain cool. His blood boiled, and his temper flared.

"Leave her the hell alone, you bastard!" he yelled. Mitchell nodded.

"So, that's what it takes to get you talking," he observed. "Through the little lady here. I'll remember that. Now, talk."

Mulder closed his eyes, ashamed. "It was her," he admitted in that pitiful little-boy voice. Mitchell pressed the barrel harder against her temple.

"Louder."

"It was Scully. The dream was about Scully." Scully gave him a startled glance. God, the way that he had been shaking, the way that he had been so scared...that was a fever that he usually gave only for Samantha.

Mitchell smiled. "What happened to her?"

Scully felt that he was slipping away, that he was retreating into that world where nothing mattered, and she spoke up. "Why torture him?" she hissed, her words like ice. "What's the use in making us suffer? You know what you need, and you have us in your custody."

Mitchell lightly slapped her cheek, and though she did not recoil, Mulder did in her stead. "You don't know how long these guys have hunted you. How much trouble you've been. This is just for fun. We finally have the both of you under our will. We're going to take advantage of that. I get to ask the questions, princess, because I had the best ones. We're taping this one for parties. Get it, honey?"

She felt ill at being reduced to sheer entertainment. She wanted to strike back at him, to kill him, but couldn't. "Don't call me honey," she hissed. "Leave Mulder alone. You want to torture someone? Torture me."

Mitchell's grin was one of a predator, and his prey was the two agents. His tongue flickered on her cheek, and Mulder cursed the ropes. "Don't you worry, princess, your time's coming up. Finish, Mulder."

Unable to risk the consequences of him hurting Scully, he had to continue. "Scully, forgive me," he begged. He was stammering, and all of his usual composure was gone. The only time she had seen him in this broken state was when Robert Patrick Modell had forced him to aim a gun at her, and he was telling her to run. She had seen the sheer despair and sorrow in his eyes, and now it had returned. Oh, now she knew why the chairs had been set facing each other...to cause them pain. "I'm so sorry..."

Mitchell cocked his head, feeding off of Mulder's agony. "This is some great footage. We'll move on." He snickered, his fingers tracing down Scully's collarbone. "The best is yet to come."

Mitchell pressed play on the V.C.R., and the tape played out. Scully waking him, concerned, and Mulder telling her to go back to bed. Mulder winced, knowing what was coming up. He hung his head low, bracing himself for his humiliation.

Scully kept her attention on the screen, and watched herself leave the room, seeing how Mulder had followed her with his eyes, and then watched as Mulder buried his handsome face in his long, slim hands, and her heart stopped when she heard his familiar, deep, rumbling voice speak the words that she had so longed to hear.

"How do I tell her that I love her?"

Mulder slowly let his fingertips breeze hers, defeat on his pale, drawn face. It was done. It was over. He had lost that long battle of control, and she knew that he loved her. Mitchell paused the tape, allowing the image of a tarnished Mulder to linger on the screen.

"Well, well, well. Rather interesting, don't you think, Ms. Scully?" he prodded. She was speechless, and he went on. "But you know, I think that these lovely sentiments need to be expressed in person." She closed her eyes, horrified. She knew that that would bring him over the edge. When she opened her eyes again, she saw that he was shaking. The sight of him so destroyed made her want to give up hope completely. There was nothing if he was not there...

"Dana..." he whispered, his voice tight and raspy. "Dana...I'm...Dana... Dana..." She wanted it all to stop. It was her worst nightmare, hearing the person she loved so much so utterly degraded and shattered.

"Mulder, it's all right...please, don't make this any harder," she soothed. His eyes, those beautiful, usually strong eyes, were glittering with unshed tears.

"Dana...I love you..." he choked out. She seemed to melt under the three simple words. Mitchell nodded.

"Again," he ordered.

"I love you."

Mitchell nodded, and took the gun away from Scully's temple. She collapsed in her seat, then regained her composure. "That wasn't so hard. Your prize: Dana Katherine Scully." Mulder bitterly looked away, and Mitchell stood up, putting in another video tape.

This tape began with Mulder sleeping peacefully on the couch, and Scully started to remember what had happened that night, and grew pale. Oh, Jesus...

The door in the video opened, and she watched herself walk out to the sleeping man. Mulder slowly snapped himself out of the stupor he was in, and turned to the set. There he watched as the young, slim, Dana Scully slowly, lovingly caressed his face, tangling her fingers in his dark locks. He saw the woman across from him tighten her jaw, once again displaying that hard pride that he so loved. Then, with shock, Mulder watched the recorded Scully bend down, as though she would kiss him, then abruptly stood up. She curled up in the armchair, and spoke the magical words. "Good night." Her voice grew softer. "I love you."

The tape stopped. Once again, time stopped with him, and the words echoed in his mind, bringing sound and comprehension to the formerly empty halls. She loved him... If the circumstances had been different, he might have laughed. Instead, he could only look in her eyes, bewildered and hopeful. She met his probing gaze, and put her soul in her eyes. The spark confirmed his every dream. She did love him, and it was love that redeemed him, revived his will, and resurrected his indomitable spirit and heart.

Mitchell stopped the tape, and threw cold water on the growing warmth in the room. "I can feel the love," he coldly stated, and turned to Scully. "Well, angel face, what do you say to him?"

Reaffirmed, Scully frostily glared at him. "I think that enough has been said already." Mitchell nodded. He placed the gun on the television, and took out a switchblade. He stood over Mulder, and knicked Mulder's ear. The sight of blood on her partner stung more than her own harassment earlier.

She swallowed her pride. Why be afraid to speak the words when he had seen the truth in her eyes? "I love you, Fox Mulder," she confessed.

Mitchell smirked, and held the blade in front of Mulder's eyes, the light dancing on the steel of the knife. "Tell me, Dana, what do you think is the most attractive thing about him?" he sneered. "You're gonna have to fill me in, honey bee, because I just don't get it. He isn't that special."

Mulder met her eyes, and she looked at him, addressing them both at once. "The most beautiful thing about Fox Mulder is his heart," she said, her eyes full of emotion. Mulder continued to stare helplessly into her crystal blue eyes, and she spoke with her heart, her soul, and her spirit. "That's what makes the rest of him beautiful, and that's what makes him shine. No tarnish, no stains, no darkness. His heart shines through it all. And that is what makes me love him." Her words grew cold as she directed them to Mitchell. "And that is something that you can never touch, you son of a bitch."

Mulder was won over by her courageous speech and by the love in her eyes and voice. She truly did love him... Mitchell cocked his head.

"The lady both speak with a gilded tongue," he mocked, and Scully held her head high. Mitchell stared at Mulder. "You don't deserve her, Fox."

Mulder kept his eyes on Scully. "I know," he said, softly.

Mitchell smiled again, that cold, menacing smile that drove fear into Scully's heart. "Well, I guess that our time is up. I hope you think of me every time that you jump her bones, Mulder."

Scully lost control. She spit in Mitchell's twisted face. He wiped the saliva off in one swift, sharp gesture. "Bitch!" he snarled. "You'll pay for that!" He started to approach her, holding the knife, and Scully braced herself, anticipating the pain. He halted, and smiled. "On second thought, I think that we'll let Mulder pay for that error." She felt dread creep up on her, shadowing her earlier heroic antics and poetic words. The look of pure, unrestrained malice on Mitchell's face should have been her warning. She should have known that he would have used that trump card: the pain of the man that she loved.

Despairingly, she shook her head. "No..." she whispered. Her skin paled, and the dark rings under her eyes showed darker and more haunted. "Please...leave him alone!" She struggled violently against the ropes, cursing herself for not being able to get free, cursing herself for indulging her impulse, and cursing herself most of all for not taking the pain herself.

Mitchell stood behind Mulder, and savagely kicked Mulder's chair into Scully's. The chairs bumped violently, and the agents were pushed together. Scully realized now the purpose of the way their legs had been tied. Her knees fit perfectly between Mulder's thighs, and they were so close that he could feel her panicked breath on his face. Mulder took Scully's hand, drawing strength from her.

Mitchell leaned down to Mulder, and slowly put the switchblade to the left side of Mulder's face. As he cut into Mulder's skin, Mulder cried out, unable to conceal the pain of the long, torturous wound. His handsome face was contorted in pain, and Scully started weeping, her tears compensating for the tears that he did not shed. The blade worked down the left side of his face, starting at the temple and ending at the chin. Blood welled from the wound, and it formed a line of crimson from his brow to just below his lower lip.

Scully's body convulsed in heavy sobs, and Mitchell felt a deep sense of pleasure in his heart at the woman's suffering and agony. Pain had always pleased him, sustained him. and this was the best agony, the best pain. The pain and fear of a lover. The best-tasting torment. He laughed, intoxicated by Scully's tears. This was the reason that he was not at the top of the government shadow men. They maintained a neutrality in times of great moral crises that would ensure them a place in Hell.

"Well, I suppose that it's time to say 'adieu'," he said, straightening his tie. "Oh, yes...one more minor detail. Fifteen minutes after I leave this room, a bomb will go off, killing you both. I would highly suggest avoiding it... but that would be rather impossible, wouldn't it?" He chuckled, a macabre sound to Mulder's ears. "Have a good time trying to escape. But you won't find your son. He's ours now."

Mitchell smiled, and tossed the sheathed blade up into the air. It landed on Mulder's lap, near Scully's left knee.

And Mitchell left, forgetting the gun on the television set.


Mulder felt the angry wound on his face, but ignored it. There were more important things on his mind, and one was the near-hysterical tears of Dana Scully. "Scully!" he choked. She kept crying, and he squeezed her hand. "Scully, I'm sorry, but we have to get out of here. We have to find Christopher."

At the mention of her son's name, she slowly halted her crying. Her thoughts turned to her trapped son, and she calmed herself down. Jesus, what had come over her? How odd that one person's pain could affect her so deeply...but the pain of her own flesh and blood struck a deeper chord, a string that had never existed before Mulder spoke those words.

"Oh, God," she whispered, her words hollow. "I'm so sorry, I don't know what..." The understanding on his bloody face told her that she didn't have to apologize. He had undergone the same horror when Scully had been abused by the government agent. "Get the knife, Mulder. Quickly!"

He reached down and picked up the switchblade, cutting the ropes that bound his wrists. She looked about anxiously, and Mulder quickly released himself. Scully looked urgently up at him, and with a few quick flicks of his wrist, freed her from the ropes.

He pulled her up into his arms, and she remained there, finally able to find comfort in his strong embrace. His arms encircled her body, and she leaned her head against his chest. He pressed the side of his face to her red hair, and blood dripped into the flaming locks. She was relieved to press her hands against the solid warmth of his back, and he put one hand in her soft, wine-colored hair, taking in a smell that he had thought he might never smell again...that heady mix of floral and tropical aromas...like sweetness and seduction, all in one.

He pulled away from her, still keeping his restraint. There was more to do then just be with her. In his mind, he could see his child, and took her hand. "We have to get out of here and find Christopher," he repeated, and she nodded. First, though, she grabbed the gun from off of the T.V. and put it in her belt. Mulder wielded the switchblade that had marred his perfect features. Before they left the room, Scully lead Mulder to the security camera.

She glared up into it, knowing that they were watching her and him. Were they pleased that they knew of their love, or amused, or angry? Mulder stood beside her, and put an arm protectively around her slender shoulders. "You sons of bitches haven't won yet," she said, her words conveying her anger and her frustration. "There is no stopping us. You should know this by now."

Mulder narrowed his eyes, and added his threats to hers. "Until every single child is safe, and every parent knows the truth about what was done to them, you will never get rid of us. Now more than ever. This is not just a threat, this is a promise." He paused, and moved closer to the lens. "And I never break my promises."

And on that note, Scully drew her gun, and shot the camera.

Putting the gun back into her holster, she went with him to the door.

The hallways were empty, uniform, and the stench of evil was upon every wall. There was no good in the establishment, and Scully felt the cold sterility clinging to her, making her feel dirty. She felt it like a layer of oil on her skin, and she yearned to be able to wash it off.

Mulder lead her from door to door, forcing them each open, only to find that room after room was empty. The empty rooms blurred before his eyes, making them each seem alike and indifferent. He was starting to panic, and suddenly remembered the words of the tall man called Mitchell.

"Good luck trying to escape. But you won't find your son. He's with us."

"Dammit!" he exclaimed, and stopped her. She was breathing heavily, and her hair was falling in her face, inhibiting her vision. "He isn't here."

"What?" she asked in disbelief. "But he has to be here... where else could he be?"

"With them. In the other location of the commune." His words were true, and she staggered. Oh, Jesus, they would never see him again. She had lost him, and she felt blinded from the verbal blow.

Mulder hid the realization from himself, not allowing himself to fully comprehend his own words. He grabbed Scully's hand, and started to run. "Holy shit, the bomb!" he yelled, and she cursed as well, following him.

They ran down identical halls, twisting ways, and perfectly matching doors, desperately seeking a way out. Finally, the moonlight shone through one way, and their exit was marked. Mulder thrust open the door, and raced into the black, starry night.

For a moment, he was blasted with the coldness of the night, remembering that this was November, and the night could become treacherous. With Scully behind him, her small, white hand clutching his tanned, large one, he started for the forest surrounding the building. "Hurry!" she screamed, and the building exploded.

Brilliant fire spewed everywhere, and the blast knocked the agents to the ground. Mulder grunted as he dropped into a roll, silently blessing his training at Quantico. Scully landed on top of him, and thrust her arms around his waist. They quickly pulled each other into a sitting position, and gazed in awe at the flaming building.

The flames scorched the night, adding a cloud of smoke to the silvery skyline. The moon shone through the darkness and the gray ash, but was then overpowered by the black smoke. Mulder and Scully were left in the dark, with no natural light to help guide them to safety.

Scully pressed her hands to her forehead. She couldn't believe it. They were stranded, with no way to get out. Mulder stood up, offering her his hand. She took it, gratefully, but when she put her weight on her right leg, she cried out and almost fell. Mulder smoothly caught her in his arms, and supported her. "Are you okay?" he asked, concerned.

She nodded, though she was wincing. "Yeah..." she murmured. "But I might have sprained my ankle."

Wordlessly, he slipped one arm about her waist, offering her his body to lean on. She gazed into his eyes, sending her thanks, and put her arm about his shoulders. She cursed the high heels that she had put on that day. Oh, sure, Dana, they go great with the suit, but what happens when you have an injured ankle and have to hike through a forest in the night?

The forest was wet, and cold, and the wind was biting. Mulder was leading the way again, and she stopped him. "Wait, Mulder," she protested. "We should wait right here. Someone is going to notice the fire, and call the forest patrol."

He shook his head. "They don't want us out here alive, Scully, remember? This area is probably a secluded area, as far away from civilization as possible. No roads. Mitchell used a helicopter as transportation. And look at the sky. No city lights for miles. My guess would be that if we didn't die from the explosion, then we're probably meant to die of exposure." He swallowed, a little nervous. "And I wouldn't be surprised if they came back to make sure that we were dead."

Scully leaned on him a little harder. "Mulder, are you sure that's not just your paranoia talking for you?" she asked. He looked her straight in the eyes.

"We've been through things like this before. If there is one thing that they are, it's thorough," he reminded. She sighed, and fear crawled up on her. "We have to find a place to hide, and fast."

God, she longed for her cellular phone. And she thought that she wasn't dependent on modern technology...

The pair continued, Scully limping badly, putting most of her weight on her partner. He still hadn't permitted himself to think about Christopher. He couldn't allow himself to think about him. The moment his mind settled on the lost babe, it was over for him and for Scully. They could count themselves dead. He had to concentrate on getting them to safety. When they were once again safe, he could drown himself in the misery of his errors.

They reached a small clearing, and Mulder stopped. There was a tiny cave in a pile of rocks. It was invisible to the naked eye, but Fox Mulder's eyes were always attracted to the tiniest details. "A cave," he murmured, showing his partner. Scully nodded, and they entered it.

It was cramped for the two adults, Scully having more room due to her diminutive height. The cave was cold, and supplied little warmth. There would be no fire in the cave, though. They couldn't risk another inferno in an open area. Plus, the cave was so damp that nothing would ignite.

Mulder sat down, and she sat across from him. "What do we do?" she inquired. He shrugged.

"We wait until morning, I guess." Their words reverberated in the tiny cavern. "There isn't much else to do."

She nodded. "What exactly do you still have?"

He emptied his pockets, and produced his F.B.I. badge, his wallet, and a wrinkled receipt. "Well, Scully," he said, his voice sly. "If you can find a phone in the forest, I have a quarter."

She laughed, bitterly. "Yeah, right next to the convienently abandoned car," she added. She also took out her badge, a rubber band, and a few pennies. "That's all..." Her voice trailed off, and she took one more thing out of her pocket. Something that she had absently put in that morning.

Christopher's baby bracelet.

Scully's eyes filled up with tears, and she clutched the tiny I.D. to her lips, huddling up in the corner of the cave. "He's gone," she whispered, her voice weary. "He's really gone."

Mulder leaned in close to her, and put a hand about her forearm, firm and yet lenient, allowing her to cry but letting her know that he was there for her. "I know," he acknowledged, his own voice choked with unshed tears.

Scully leaned into his arms, her body convulsing in sobs. Mulder held her, gently stroking her hair, seeking comfort as well as giving it. He was surprised to find wetness in her titian strands, and realized that they were his own tears, caught in her hair. He pressed his face in her hair, burying his anguish in her soft, silky, scarlet locks. She wrapped her arms around him, holding on tightly, as though he was her anchor.

"They just keep taking and taking from us," she whispered. "It doesn't matter who they kill or who they hurt so long as we feel pain. My sister, your father, and now our son... dear God, when will it end, where will it all stop..." Her voice grew quiet as she whispered the words into his blood-sodden collar. "When will these games finally be over, and one of us will die?"

He clutched her tightly, not wanting to let go of her. "They can't kill you. They can't get away with it. God, Dana, they have to draw the line somewhere, and if they won't, then I will. They won't come near you... I promise you that."

She looked up into his eyes, and saw the pain that lay there, saw the sorrow, and saw the guilt. It was like looking into a reflection of what rested in her own eyes. She slowly raised her hand, and stroked the side of his face with the back of her hand. Mulder cringed as the delicacy of her skin ran across his open wound. Blood clung to her pores, and Scully cupped his chin in her palm. His lower lip trembled, and she slowly moved in, growing so near that he could feel her hot breath in his mouth. He slowly closed his eyes, and she moved to the side, pressing her cheek to his, resting her chin on his shoulder.

"I've told you before," she said, so softly, into his bleeding ear,"and I will tell you now. I wouldn't put my life on the line for anyone but you." He nuzzled into her hair, and she placed her hand on the back of his neck, reveling in the softness of his dark hair.

The couple leaned back into the cave, put their arms around each other, and slept, their dreams shadowed by the face of Christopher Ahab.


Wednesday, November 13 8:09am

Scully awoke to the sound of thunder and the warmth of Mulder's arms around her. She came to with a jolt, and remembered where she was and what had happened. Her head rested against Mulder's chest, and her arms were encircling his neck.

And her child was gone.

She reluctantly left the security of his embrace, and crawled out of the cave. Her ankle was in serious pain, and she was feeling ill. She sighed when she saw the clouds forming, her breath showing through. A storm was coming, and she knew that the sun would be very faint. She would have to wake up Mulder, and they would have to get to safety.

She crawled back into the cave, and shook her partner awake. "Mulder, wake up. The sun's up, but it's going to storm," she said.

Through his haze of sleep, Scully was like a ruby-haired angel, even with her damp, tangled hair and dirty, sooty face. It didn't matter how much grime she was covered in; she was still beautiful. He sat up, and immediately took her hand. Funny, it felt so natural to hold it, as though he had always done so.

The clouds were forming overhead, and thunder rumbled in the distance. He slowly crawled out of the cave, and lead her out. Using Mulder as a human crutch, she hobbled along at his side. Mulder looked back, and saw that there was no sign of the fire. The government agents had probably taken care of it while the two had slept. He turned around again, and noticed a thin trail of smoke. Smoke from a chimney. "Scully, look!" he cried, and she looked in the direction he pointed to. Her heart leapt into her throat, and hope soared.

The two went as quickly as possible to the smoke, and Mulder hoped to God that they had a phone and a car.

They stumbled upon a humble, quaint log cabin, with a Jeep in the gravel driveway and a swingset in the back yard. She felt like crying tears of joy and relief at the sight of such simple civilization. Scully had cried a lot in the past five days.

Mulder helped his partner stagger to the door, his strong arm still wrapped supportively around her slender waist. Mulder knocked on the door, and silently prayed.

Oh, please, God, I know that it's asking a lot, but let this all end now, right here. Let us get home. Please...

The door slowly opened, and a tall, middle-aged brunette appeared. She wore a simple floral dress, and her feet were bare. She looked alarmed at the sight of the two disheveled agents.

"Hello?" the woman asked, wary of the man and woman.

Mulder thought that the woman must think that he was insane with the grin on his face. "Hello," he said, his tone full of gratitude. "We're with the F.B.I., and we're in some trouble. I wanted to know if I could use your phone, and my partner is hurt."

She looked alarmed. "The F.B.I.? Does this have anything to do with that fire last night?"

Scully nodded. "Somewhat. I'm Agent Scully, and this is Agent Mulder," she introduced. They each flashed her their badges, and she nodded, quickly.

"I'm Andrea Bennett," she said. "Come in, please." She noticed Scully's limp, and helped her to the sofa. Scully sank into the comfortable cushions, relieved to feel the luxurious couch. Andrea lead Mulder to the phone, and went for the First Aid kit.

Mulder picked up the phone, and dialed Skinner.


J. Edgar Hoover Building
Washington, D.C.

Walter Skinner sat at the desk, reviewing the files that lay before him. His mind wasn't on the paperwork, though. It was on Fox Mulder and Dana Scully.

He still had no clue as to where they could be, and last night's report was even more disturbing and unsettling. The local law enforcement in Raleigh, North Carolina had gotten an anonymous phone call reporting disturbing events in a motel. When the police had gotten there, the room was trashed, and there was nobody there. They were able to identify the two by Scully's abandoned purse, though they were registered under an alias. According to the owner, a red-haired woman, early-thirties, petite, and a dark-haired man, mid-thirties, tall, had checked in with a red-haired infant. The man said that they were the Moody family, Rosalie, Alexander, and baby Peter, and that they came from Washington. He paid in cash, and never checked out.

The most disturbing part of this tale was the child. Where had the two agents acquired an infant? And why were there the odd baby supplies, from a spilled bottle of strained spinach to a U.F.O. mobile that could have only belonged to Mulder? He sighed, and shook his head. The "Harrison family" was gone, and there was no sign of when they would return.

Until the phone rang.


"Sir, it's Agent Mulder," Mulder said, and he could hear the relief in Skinner's voice.

"Agent Mulder," the assistant director confirmed. "What in the name of God is going on?"

"I'll explain when we get back to Washington," he promised. "That's where I need a little help. Agent Scully and I are stranded in..." He put a hand over the phone, and looked to Andrea, who was wrapping an ACE bandage around Scully's ankle. "Where are we?" he asked her.

"This is Hudson, West Virginia," she responded, confused at why he would ask such a dumb question.

He turned his attention to Skinner. "We're in Hudson, West Virginia. Agent Scully has a possibly sprained ankle, and I've suffered some minor injuries. We need to get back to D.C. as soon as we can."

Skinner took this in, and decided to wait for the whole story, which he expected. "Where in Hudson are you?"

Mulder gestured for Andrea to come to the phone, and she took the phone. "This is Andrea Bennett," she said, her voice pleasant. "Whom am I speaking to?"

"This is Assistant Director Walter Skinner of the Federal Bureau of Investigation," the gruff voice replied. "Thank you, Ms. Bennett, for taking in the agents. Could you please tell me exactly where you are?"

She cleared her throat, nervous. "Um, let me give you the coordinates for the cabin, Mr. Skinner..."

While the poor Ms. Bennett scurried about, Mulder kneeled by Scully and picked up her ankle. She winced, and he quickly put it down. "How are you?" he asked, tenderly. Scully smiled, wanly.

"I'm okay. You should have that cut looked at," she suggested. He shrugged. "It can wait... but you can't," he responded. She smiled softly down at him, and he held her hand, squeezing it tightly.

Andrea hung up the phone, and walked to the two federal agents. "The director said that I should drive you to the air field, and a plane would take you back to D.C.," she relayed. "He also wanted to make sure that you were both in good condition."

Scully nodded. Andrea continued. "And he wants you to both check into the hospital in Washington." She nodded; she had expected as much. Andrea passed Scully a pair of crutches, and Scully took them. "I think that your ankle is broken, Agent Scully, but I don't know... I'm only a part-time nurse." Andrea lead the two out to her truck, and helped them in.

Before Mulder got into the cab, he looked back at the forest and knew that what had happened out there had changed his life forever, and he would never be exactly the same.


Epilogue: SILHOUETTES

So you walked with me for a while
Bared your naked soul
And you told me of your plan
How you would never let them know
In the morning of the night
You cried a long lost child
And I tried oh I tried to hold you
But you were young
And you were wild

But I, I will never be the same
Oh, I, I will never be the same
Caught in your eyes
Lost in your name
I will never be the same

Secrets of your life I never wanted for myself
But you guarded them like a lie
And placed them on the highest shelf
In the morning of the night
When I woke to find you gone
I knew your distant devil
Must be dragging you along

But I, I will never be the same
Oh, I, I will never be the same
Caught in your eyes
Lost in your name
I will never be the same

And you swore that you were bound for glory
And for wanting you had no shame
But I loved you And then I lost you
And I will never be the same

But I, I will never be the same
Oh, I, I will never be the same
Caught in your eyes
Lost in your name
I will never be the same

- Melissa Etheridge "I Will Never Be The Same", Yes I Am, 1993

 

J. Edgar Hoover Building
Washington, D.C.
Wednesday, November 20 11:21am

Dana Scully's high heels echoed on the tile floor of the hallway outside of Fox Mulder's basement office. It seemed like a year instead of a week... had time really passed so slowly? Was she really that different since she had left Washington?

She knew that she was different. The pure, good, and clear search for the truth had been replaced by a distorted, bitter, and clouded search for her son. Her son... oh, God, why him?

Scully was empty of tears to shed. They were all gone, spilled for herself, for Mulder, but most of all for Christopher Ahab. Her lost child, her stolen dream, and her life.

She braced herself for opening the door on him. Was he as broken and as shattered as she was? She was unsure of the man she would see when she entered the office. God knows that she was different... was he, too?

Scully knocked on the door, and she heard an empty call. "Come in."

Mulder sat at the desk, his face buried in his hands, the fingers ruffling his brown hair. His tie was loose around his neck, his jacket and coat draped over the back of a chair. When he saw Scully in the doorway, he started to get on his feet, but Scully shook his head, signalling for him to stay seated.

She took the seat across from him, and crossed her legs. She looked pale, and her eyes were red from crying. She looked tired, weary, and full of sadness. It was funny, just how empty he had felt this past week, without his silent son and his makeshift wife always with him, beside him. They had been so close that now there was a hole in his heart... and it only grew bigger when he realized what he would have to do.

"How have you been, Dana?" he asked, surprising her with the sentient use of her first name. She shook her head, slowly.

"I don't think that I could ever cry again," she murmured. He felt the pain that she radiated. He nodded, slowly.

"I told Skinner the entire story," he said. She nodded.

"What did he make of it?"

He shook his head. "I don't know how I know, but I think that this has permanently shaken Skinner's faith in the government and the system... That wasn't my intention, Scully, and I feel guilty about it. I didn't want to ruin him, too. He believed me."

Scully was only mildly surprised, but what Mulder did next got to her. He passed her a thin file, and she read the outside: X-1001106: Christopher Ahab Scully-Mulder. She looked up at him, quizzically. "You opened an X-File on him?" she asked.

"That's why I called you," he explained. "I need your signature on it to initiate the file. I've already signed it. I think that this is the only place where I can do this. The only place where he belongs."

She looked over the file, and felt sorrowful when she saw the photograph in it. It was of Christopher in his crib, staring pensively at the camera. She traced the outline of his face, remembering the softness of his skin, the silkiness of his flaming hair, the emptiness in those hooded blue eyes...

Scully took out a fountain pen and signed her name: Dana K. Scully. "I can't stop thinking about him..." she whispered. "I suppose that you're right. This is where he belongs."

He cleared his throat, and she noticed how nervous and edgy he was. She passed the file back to him, and he sat down across from her, holding her hands. "I've missed you so much..." he whispered. "I feel like a part of me's been taken away. You and Christopher are all that I am, and all that I ever will be."

She knew how he felt. On every lonely night, she kept turning back to that night in the woods, when he had held her in his arms and kept her safe. "You're such a part of me, too," she confessed. "Mulder, what do we do? I don't know where we go from here."

He nodded. "What do we do? Dana, you know how I feel..."

She did, oh, God she knew. The words that she struggled to say were full of choked emotion. "Maybe... maybe it's best if we let things remain as they were for a while," she said, her voice denying the fact that she was dying inside. "Until he's back. Until we're all together."

He nodded, and his soul wept the tears that he could not shed. "For him..." he agreed, and still held her hands in his. She looked away for a moment, then back at him. "I don't know how I could go on without you at my side. I need you with me, now and always."

He looked earnestly at her. "And I will be with you. Always." She knew that he would be... and she knew that the decision she had made would haunt her always, and she already regretted it.

She looked back into his green eyes, and furrowed her brow. "How are we going to continue this quest for the truth? Will the X-Files survive?"

His jaw tightened, and he stared deeply into her eyes, so intense that it overpowered her. "We have to tell the people involved about this. The people have a right to know. They should know that they are needed. And a child out there needs us. This is only the beginning of all of this."

"The dusk before the night..." she murmured, and he nodded.

"This is our time to strike back," he vowed, and she knew that he was right. They needed vengeance. They needed to stop letting these men torture and control them. This was the time for revenge.

Fox William Mulder stood up, his sillhouette pronounced by the desk lamp. He looked strong, powerful, and willing, standing in the light, unafraid to move on. He gave her his hand, and she accepted it, entering the light as well, and being consumed by his strength, his courage, and his will. She was almost whole next to him, and he was almost whole next to her. "I'll be here, Mulder," she promised. "I will always be here for you."

Mulder put his hand on her shoulder, wishing that he could do more. "I know," he whispered.

And the two solemnly prepared for the dark, deep, fathomless night.

THE END


Thank you for reading this! This is the first story in a trilogy, and I will soon be sending the second part,"Night", in. Merci, mes amis.

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