Archivist's note: This is the complete series "A Day in The Life." There will be no more stories in the series, because to the sorrow of the X-Files community, Girlie_girl passed away the last week of May 2005.

On a completely different note, I want to point out that I think this fic, A Cold Night, was meant to be a prequel to this series. In any case, A Cold Night is one of my favorite fics ever, and the first of Girlie's that I ever read, so I consider it well worth the read even if my suspicion about it is wrong. Give it a read, huh?


If you would like to go to one of the individual stories, click on the links below to take you to that section of the document.

01 A Day in The Life 02 The Purchase 03 The Fight 04 The Visitor 05 The Suit 06 The Hostage
07 Squeek 08 The Speech 09 Friends 10 The Party 11 Shopping 12 A Fractured Christmas Story
13 Christmas Eve 14 Christmas 15 Sharing Cake 16 Choices 17 The Lone, Lone Gunmen 18 A Day in The Life of William
19 The Crash 20 Aftermath 21 The Incident 22 Daniel 23 Teeth 24 Hands
25 Cookies 26 Scully's Day at Work 27 Pictures 28 Will and Petie's Big Adventure 29 The Progress Report 30 The Shooting
31 Home Coming 32 Father 33 The Anniversary 34 The Good, The Bad, The Children 35 Fox Mantle 36 Problem Child
37 Instincts 38 Trick Or Treat 39 Super Bug 40 Super Thanksgiving 41 The Christmas Program 42 The Gift
43 Dog Gone Christmas 44 The Vet 45 The Cost

Title: A Day in the Life

Author: Girlie_girl7

Date: 08-08-03

Category: family fic

Spoilers: Existence then AU

Rating: PG

Archive: anywhere

Disclaimer: Fox owns 'em

Summary: Days in the life of Mulder, Scully and their children.

~ 01 A Day in the Life ~

"Take a look at the case file I have assigned you and be prepared to discuss, dissect, and disseminate it on Monday." A murmur passes through the room as stiff bodies stretch out the kinks acquired from hours of sitting. The group slowly snakes out of the room with Mulder being the last. He wipes off the whiteboard, shuts off the lights and locks the door behind him.

A small group of agents are standing outside the door carrying on an animated conversation as Mulder slips around them. One of the agents speaks up, "Agent Mulder."

Mulder stops and turns around to face the younger man. "Yes Agent Moore."

The agent steps foreword from the group and asks, "Sir, there is something I don't understand about the case we just discussed."

Mulder fingers his keys then tucks them into his suit pants pocket. "What's that agent?"

"If Mr. Weaver was indeed the carrier of the tobacco beetle. . ."

"There's no question he was." Mulder cuts the agent off.

"And he's still alive?" Agent Moore questions.

"Yes he is," Mulder says with a nod.

"Then is he still receiving the experimental cigarettes? I mean, if he isn't he should have died from the beetle, right?"

Mulder looks directly at his student. "Good question Agent Moore."

The agent beams at the compliment from his instructor.

"Mr. Weaver was treated in the same way Agent Scully treated me. He was taken off cigarettes but given large doses of nicotine while he was in the hospital recovering from his gunshot wound. He wasn't happy about it but it was for his own safety and those around him."

"So now he's serving the seventy-to-life he received for the killings?" The agent asks.

"And I have been told he has become quite the anti- smoking advocate in prison," Mulder chuckles.

"Bet that goes over well." Agent Moore deadpans. Mulder and the other agents all laugh but suddenly he grows quiet and stares down the long hallway softly saying, "Well speak of the devil," as a large grin covers his face. The younger agents all turn to see what their instructor is staring at.

Down the hall walks a petite redhead dressed in a yellow, floral print sundress and sandals. In her arms she carries a wispy, brown-hair baby with deep, dark eyes, wearing a white sundress with tiny white socks; beside her walks a sandy redheaded little boy with the same large, expressive, blue eyes that she has. The little boy is clad in a white Tee and a tan sun-suit along with white sneakers on his feet.

The agents all stare at the beautiful woman approaching them with a warm smile on her face but eyes only for their instructor. Suddenly the little boy breaks free from the woman's grasp and runs toward the group of agents laughing and screaming, "Da-dee!"

Mulder steps from the crowd and scoops up the child, kissing his cheek and patting his back. He turns to the assembled crowd and says, "This is my son William." Scully soon catches up with the little boy. "And this is his mother Dana and our daughter Katherine." The agents all mumble hellos with Scully returning the greetings.

Suddenly Agent Moore speaks up; "You're Agent Scully, Special Agent Dana Scully, right?"

"That's right," Scully smiles at the agent as she straightens Katherine's dress.

Agent Moore seems enchanted by the female agent. "We've heard so much about you from Agent Mulder."

Scully shoots Mulder 'the brow', which doesn't go unnoticed by the crowd. "No," Agent Moore speaks up; "it's all good. You must have been a terrific agent."

"Thanks," Scully smiles.

"She still is," Mulder interjects. "She hasn't retired yet."

"I still come in for the occasional autopsy or lab work."

William points to the empty classroom door. "Waz dat, Da-dee?" He asks.

"That's where I teach," Mulder softly tells the child in his arms.

"Want down," William says and begins to squirm. Mulder places him down on his feet. Will toddles off touching each door as he walks down the right side of the hallway.

Agent Moore looks at Scully. "How long were you in the field Agent Scully?"

"Seven years," Scully answers shifting Katherine in her arms while she pats down the baby's unruly hair, just then Will reappears softly saying, "Tix, seben, eight." One agent from the groups speaks up. "He's awfully young to be counting isn't he?"

Mulder chuckles at his son who is now headed down the other side of the hallway counting doors as he goes. "He's two but Scully works with him. He can count and he's learning to read."

Scully watches her son travel down the hall. "He's very bright but he doesn't talk much yet."

"They say Einstein didn't speak until he was three," another agent says.

Mulder laughs. "Yes, and I'm sure Einstein wouldn't have known who SpongeBob SquarePants was either."

The agents all laugh as they continue to watch William walk back up the hall. Mulder picks up his son and asks, "Will, how many doors on this side?" Mulder points to the right side of the hallway."

"Eight!" William shouts.

"And how many on this side?" Mulder now points to the left side of the hallway.

"Seben!" Will shouts, twisting his fingers in embarrassment as the agents all laugh causing him to hide his face in Mulder's chest.

Agent Moore moves over to speak to Scully again. "So you're a pathologist too, huh."

Scully's attention is drawn from her son's antics to Agent Moore. "Yes, I am. What is your field of expertise in Agent. . .?"

"Moore," the agent eagerly provides. "I'm a linguist. I speak five languages."

"You're exactly what the bureau is looking for these days." Scully says brushing her hair away from Katherine's active fingers.

"Yeah," Agent Moore blushes. "I was headed for a life in academia when the bureau recruited me. I just hope I can do the job."

Scully empathizes with the agent. "You'll do just fine. They only take the best," she assures him.

Will has been placed down and is being teased by the agents standing around him. He's enjoying a game of peek-a-boo by hiding behind his father's legs and peeking out at the agents.

"Agent Scully, what attracted you to the FBI?" Agent Moore asks.

Scully shifts the fussy baby in her arms. Mulder reaches out to relieve her of her burden. Katherine immediately stops complaining and stares intensely at her father.

Scully steps out from the crowd to talk further with Agent Moore. "It wasn't for the money."

Agent Moore laughs and nods his head, focusing all his attention on the redhead standing in front of him.

She looks down and crosses her arms. "I'm not sure, but I think I saw it as a form of rebellion."

The agent looks surprised at Scully's comment. "Really, I never guessed you to be the rebellious type," Moore says as he steps closer to Scully and leans against the wall on one elbow.

"No I wasn't. I did very few rebellious acts in my life."

Moore nods his head toward Mulder. "I take it he was the rebellious one of this partnership?"

Scully looks over fondly at the man easily talking to the other agents while trying to deal with two small children. "Yes he was, or still is. Hard to believe that isn't it," she laughs.

"So the partnership has worked out well for the both of you?"

Scully looks up at the tall, blonde agent and smiles. "Yes, it has. I'm exactly where I want to be."

"I was afraid of that," Agent Moore mumbles and looks down at his shoes.

Mulder notices Agent Moore talking to Scully, it bothers him but he doesn't leave the cluster of agents encircling him. One of the agent's has asked him what the worst case he ever worked was. Mulder reflects for a moment then says, "The Santa Claus killings in California." He shifts Katherine in his arms while the baby stuffs a fist into her mouth. "Anytime you have to deal with a child's death it's rough but Agent Scully and myself stumbled onto a killing field filled with children's graves."

"Oh, I remember that case, it was all over the TV. That was you?" Another agent asks.

Mulder nods. "Yes, Agent Scully and myself were the lead investigators on that one."

Mulder moves over just a little, either trying to hear what Agent Moore and Scully are talking about or trying to impose himself into the male agent's view.

Moore moves in just a little closer to Scully. "I've heard you've worked on some pretty freaky cases."

"Yes, Agent Mulder and myself were known to work on a freaky case from time to time." Scully says to the agent who is riveted to her every word.

"I'm hoping Agent Mulder will assign us some of those cases to review, they sound fascinating." It's apparent to Mulder that isn't all Agent Moore finds fascinating.

"I'm sure Mulder will toss in a few of those cases too," Scully smiles. Mulder doesn't care for the toothy grin she's flashing at the younger agent.

"Agent Mulder, Agent Mulder." It finally sinks into Mulder that he is being paged by one of his students. "Can you tell me whatever became of Morley's involvement in the tobacco beetle case?"

Mulder frowns at Scully and the attentive agent who's standing just a little to close for his comfort. "Oh, uh, they were sued, they settled, everyone's happy," he mumbles then says, "excuse me." He brushes past the group of agents and heads straight for Scully with Will clopping along behind him. Scully puts out her arms and Will runs into them. She lifts him up as Mulder slides along side her forming the perfect family montage. He leans into Scully and says, "Ready to go dear? Our kids are getting restless." Will stares calmly at his father who is making a fool of himself while Katherine is draped over his arm like a rag doll. Scully flashes her bright, blue eyes at him, unsure of what's gotten into him.

Agent Moore thrusts out his hand, "Agent Scully, it's been a pleasure to meet you."

"You too Agent Moore and don't worry, you'll do just fine."

The younger agent smiles a full tooth smile. "I better be going," he says as he points to the group of agents moving down the hallway. "I'm Agent White's ride," he tosses over his shoulder as he walks down the hallway with what Mulder would claim is a little more swagger than necessary.

Scully watches Agent Moore until he's out of sight then whips her head around to look at Mulder. "Dear? What was that all about? You know I don't like platitudes like that."

Mulder continues to stare down the hallway. "He was awfully chummy, don't you think Scully."

"Mulder, he was only. . ." Suddenly Scully's face lights up. "You're jealous!" She laughs.

Mulder looks down at her indignantly. "I am not!" He takes off down the hallway carrying Katherine in his arms.

Scully catches up with him. "Whoa, whoa, whoa. Mulder you were jealous!" Scully puts Will down and takes him by the hand.

Mulder stops and turns to face her. "Okay, so shoot me."

Scully pulls on his suit jacket sleeve. "Mulder, I think it's sweet that you're jealous," Scully teases.

Mulder winces, "I'm not sweet Scully, this is a testosterone driven need to protect what's mine."

"Yours?" Scully frowns at him.

Mulder backtracks. "Well yeah, you're mine and I'm yours and Will and Katherine are ours. "You know love and all that stuff."

"All that stuff? Mulder do you want a bigger shovel to dig yourself in deeper with?"

Mulder sighs and looks down, "No, I'm doing just fine."

Scully turns down the short hallway that leads to the double glass doors; she leads Will through the open door while he counts his steps. Mulder follows her through the door, squinting at the bright sunshine; he places his hand over Katherine's eyes to shade them. Scully opens the backdoor to Mulder's car and scoops Will up placing him in the car seat and buckles him in. She then walks around the car and takes Katherine from Mulder and buckles her into the baby bucket she travels in. Mulder looks around. "Where's your car?"

Scully shuts the backdoor and moves back around the car. "Mine's in the shop so mom dropped us off. She has car seats too you know."

Mulder crawls into the driver's side and starts the car. He turns to Scully and says, "Do you realize we are carrying two children in this car whose combined ages are two and a half years old?"

Scully looks confused. "Yeah, so what. We do it all the time."

"But not without a diaper bag we don't."

Scully laughs. "It's on the floor in the back. I put it in there when mom dropped us off. I expected to be in and out in just a few minutes." Meanwhile in the back seat, Will is trying to teach Katherine to count, something she finds very annoying.

"But instead you ran into Mr. 'Fascination', no let me correct that, Agent 'Fascination'," Mulder snipes then mumbles, "Let's see if he passes my class."

Scully's eyes flash at Mulder but she curbs her anger. "He was just asking me some professional questions, that's all," she reassures him. Mulder contemplates what she has said and pulls out into the traffic and heads toward one of their favorite eateries. Scully knows he isn't prepared to let this go just yet, he'll go home and brood.

"Mulder what makes you think he would be the least bit interested in me. I have two small children by his instructor, no less, plus he just might be married."

"Scully you are the beautiful, intelligent mother of two beautiful and intelligent children and if he would hit on you knowing he sits in my class, what would he have done if I hadn't been standing there breathing down his neck, and for your information he is single."

"He is!" Scully teases.

Mulder flinches and glances over at her. "Come on Mulder, you don't think for one minute that I would be the least bit interested in anyone but you."

Mulder shrugs, "It's been known to happen."

Scully sighs and looks back at the two little Mulder's sitting in the back seat. "You know if you were a woman I'd say you were PMSing."

"Now that's a rather sexist statement isn't it?"

"Which part?"

"All of it!"

They pull into the restaurant parking lot, find a free spot and unbuckle and unrestraint everyone in the car.

A tall, thin, blonde man greets them at the door. "Agent's! And I see you have brought William with you." He leans down to look at the baby in the carrier, "And who is this?"

"That," Scully says, "is Katherine. The newest member of the family."

Will chimes in, "Dat's da bee-bee!"

The man ruffles Will's hair and leads them to a quiet booth in a side room away from the main dining area. Mulder sits Will in a high chair while Scully slides into one side of the booth as he places Katherine's carrier next to her and then slides in the other side next to Scully.

A waiter arrives to take their drink order. "Hun- gee!" William yells. "Shhh," both Mulder and Scully correct him. They order their drinks then Scully moves over to unbuckle Katherine and sit her up a little higher in the bucket she's nested in.

Mulder turns to William and asks, "Okay buddy, what do you want?"

"Hicken," Will spouts as he kicks his foot against the footrest on the chair.

The waiter comes back. "Two iced teas and one cherry Kool-Aid."

"The Kool-Aid is mine," Mulder quips while Scully ignores him. She orders a turkey club sandwich as does Mulder but he adds fries to his order and Will gets chicken strips.

Scully glances over at Mulder. "So what are you doing this afternoon?"

"I don't know," Mulder shrugs. "Work on my class notes for Monday, play with Will, the usual."

And pout, Scully silently adds then sighs, "Mulder you're still not upset about Agent Moore are you?" She knows she has to tread lightly, while the man she loves has all the professional confidence in the world, personally though he lives in a glasshouse.

"No, you told he I have nothing to worry about."

The waiter returns with their meals. Will gets grabby and wants his chicken but Scully pulls his hands away from the basket of hot little chicken parts. The waiter looks down at William and says, "Better listen to your pretty mother, those are hot." Then the guy winks at Scully and takes off for the kitchen. Scully beams while Mulder turns sideways in the booth with one leg out and his arm draped over the back as if he's about to go after the guy. Scully breaks up Will's chicken strips into smaller pieces while Mulder turns back around and takes a bite out of his sandwich. She's sure she can hear his teeth gnashing together as he chews.

"So Mulder, did I hear you right, you were discussing the tobacco beetle case with the class?" Scully takes a bite of her own sandwich and reaches over to give Will a few of Mulder's fries.

"Yeah. I noticed a couple of the smokers in the group were turning a little green."

"I'll bet," Scully smiles over her sandwich. Will tries to pick up his lidded cup to drink through the straw but Scully has to help him. Minutes pass as they eat in relative silence. Finally Mulder wipes his mouth and says, "Scully, do you miss it?"

Scully doesn't know what he is referring to. "Miss it, miss what?"

"Being in the field, the freedom, the excitement. Do you miss it?"

"Do you Mulder?"

Mulder smiles, "I asked you first."

"Well," Scully pauses, "yeah, I guess I do."

"Enough to regret the path you're on? I mean, you didn't exactly chose this," Mulder says sweeping his hand around the little family before him.

"No I didn't," Scully smiles and laughs. "Mulder I can't believe at my age I got myself in trouble."

"You weren't alone as I recall," Mulder leers. "No I wasn't." Scully blushes and reaches over to wipe Will's mouth.

"So," Mulder says pensively.

Scully looks up and stares into his eyes. "Not for a second do I regret my life as it is today. I would have changed some things if I could have." She drops her voice to a near whisper, "I wish you hadn't been taken from me and . . ." her voice hitches, she lowers her head and wipes at her eyes, "and returned like you were."

Mulder attempts to lighten the mood. "Gee Scully, you make it sound like you didn't want me back."

Scully blows out a long breath. "No Mulder you know that is not true."

Mulder looks into her bright blue, shimmering eyes and says, "I know, I see it everyday."

Scully is staring at him just as the waiter returns. "Would anyone want dessert?"

"Sure." Mulder says. "My son and I will split a hot fudge sundae."

"And for you ma'am?"

"Oh," Scully sighs, "nothing for me."

"What!" The waiter feigns surprise. "A tiny thing like you worried about a small dish of ice cream?"

Scully places her elbows on the table and entwines her fingers. "No really, nothing for me."

The waiter leaves their table with Mulder glaring at him. "There's a man playing fast and loose with his tip."

"Mulder, he was just being nice."

Mulder glares at her. "You've ran into a lot of 'nice' men today."

"Well, would you rather they dismissed me or treated me as if I wasn't there?"

Mulder furrows his brow, "No but they could treat you a little less cute." Now Scully frowns. Mulder shrugs, "You know what I mean."

Katherine chooses this particular moment to sneeze and rub her runny nose all over her face. Will points to his sister. "Ot oh, da bee-bee gots a runny face."

Scully looks down at Katherine then corrects William. "No, sweetie Katherine 'has' a runny 'nose'."

Will points again. "But look, momma!"

Mulder laughs, "I have to admit Scully, she does gots a runny face."

Scully wipes off the little girl's face, much to the annoyance of her daughter when suddenly William coughs. Scully looks up just in time to see a beautiful Armani suit covered in bits of chicken strips. Mulder sits back in the booth and closes his eyes in defeat. "And I thought that flukeman case was the most disgusting thing I had ever seen until we had children."

Scully hands him a wad of napkins and laughs, "Better get used to it Mulder, we've still got eighteen years of this ahead of us."

Mulder wipes off Will's mouth and cleans up his suit as best he can.

The ride home is relatively uneventful, Will has nodded off and Katherine is consumed with looking at her foot. Scully glances out the side window then back at the two children. "Mulder, I need to get groceries."

"What again!" Mulder says, pretending to be surprised.

Scully laughs, "We do have to buy food for four now." Mulder glances down at her chest and wiggles his eyebrows, "Technically still just three."

Scully blushes. "Okay, I'll give you that but laundry and paper products have increased sharply, plus you have introduced Will to wonderful world of junk food."

Mulder chuckles, "Just a chip of the old block."

"Well that may be true," Scully says as they pull into the driveway, "but I still need to feed the chip and the old block. You can either watch Will and Katherine or we can all go, it's up to you."

Mulder ponders the question then asks, "Can I pick out my own snack food?"

"As long as I don't find anymore pork rinds in my cupboards, then yes you can."

"Then count me in."

They pull into the garage and unbuckle and unrestraint the little ones who depend on them for their survival, a fact that Mulder finally came to grips with a couple a weeks ago when Scully told him, 'Mulder, get over it, we can do this parenting thing'. That plus the withering look she gave him convinced him he could do it!

William is immediately taken in and dumped into his bed. He's limp as a rag doll and shows no sign of regaining consciousness for at least several hours.

Katherine on the other hand, is in need of a bath. Scully soon has her sitting in the kitchen sink, scrubbed clean and yawning. She is dried off, powdered and diapered and before long well fed. Scully carries her to the bassinet in Mulder's downstairs office.

Mulder comes out of the bathroom in jeans and a white T-shirt, carrying a rolled up Armani suit. "Might as well drop this off on the way," he says as Scully comes out of the office.

Scully returns to the kitchen to sit at island to begin working on her shopping list. Mulder is running his finger through his spiky hair and digging soap residue out of his ears. Scully glances over at him and smiles. "Okay," she sighs, "can you think of anything else we need?"

Mulder moves behind her to look over her shoulder at the list but he also takes the opportunity to rest his head on her shoulder and wrap his arms around her waist. He can feel her cheeks knot up in a smile as he presses his face next to hers.

Scully draws her head back looking directly at him. "Mulder, your hair is dripping all over me."

Mulder pretends to be so engrossed in the list that he doesn't notice he's getting her wet. "So go take a shower."

Scully leans in to whisper in his ear, "Care to join me?"

Mulder looks surprised by her offer then breaks out into a huge grin. "Race ya."

Scully abruptly jumps off her stool and runs toward the stairs with Mulder hot on her heels.

Long after the water has turned lukewarm they finally step from the shower and dress. Katherine woke up sometime during their little tryst but she is once again content just to play with her toes. William, on the other hand, is yelling, "Momma, come get me."

Scully finds her son standing in his crib definitely in need of a bath. She lifts him from his bed and carries him to the bathroom off his bedroom. "Wanna try the potty-chair again?" Scully softly asks but Will shakes his head no, he's still a little bit too sleepy to care. She runs a shallow tub of water while William automatically raises his arms so she can remove his shirt; mother and son perform like a well-oiled machine.

Soon Will is as clean as the rest of the family. Scully sets him down on his feet and gives him a little push. He takes off running around the corner of his bedroom door and runs smack into Mulder's legs. He falls backwards onto his butt and begins to cry, more from surprise than being hurt. Mulder scoops him up and cradles Will's head against his chest. "Sorry buddy, did I hurt you?"

Scully comes out of the bathroom and Will reaches for her. She takes the crying child from Mulder and asks, "What happened William?"

"He ran into me," Mulder softly says, cupping his son's head while Scully holds him close. She carries him back into the bathroom and wets a washcloth to clean off his face.

Katherine has heard all the commotion from across the hall and now she too is crying. Mulder picks up his daughter and changes her diaper then dresses her in the sun-suit Scully has laid out for her.

Eventually Katherine and William are both clean and happy at the same time. The diaper bag is packed, the coupons are located and everyone is back in the car.

Mulder backs out of the driveway and turns to his partner, "Scully, you know we really should check into an SUV or maybe a school bus."

Scully looks up from studying her grocery list. "And just how many kids do you see us having?"

Mulder shrugs his shoulders and smiles, "I don't know but they sure are fun to make."

Scully stares at him. "Well fun of not, I'm happy with just the two we have besides if you want the fun to continue you can always get a vasectomy."

Mulder scrunches up his face and shifts around in his seat. "Ouch Scully! That sounds painful."

Scully lets a slight smile cross her face, "No more that giving birth."

William is back to annoying Katherine by counting her fingers when all she wants to do is stick them in her mouth. She starts to cry and Will pulls her fingers out of her mouth. "Da-dee, da bee-bee bites her fingers."

Mulder looks in the rearview mirror with a smile, "I don't think so Will, she doesn't have any teeth yet."

Will tries to open his sister's mouth but she's having none of that. So he chooses to look in it while she's bawling, then his eyes grow wide and his mouth forms a perfect 'O'. "Momma," Will yell's.

"What Will?" Scully says over the front seat.

"Da bee-bee don't have any teef!" Will says.

Scully and Mulder both laugh at Will's sudden interest in his sister's dental needs. Mulder chuckles, "Scully, do you think he will ever call her anything but 'da bee-bee'?"

"I hope so," Scully sighs, "other wise someone's going to pick up on that and her nickname will become Bee-Bee and I for one don't want that to happen."

Mulder nods in agreement. "Besides every time I hear bee-bee I think of Captain Kangaroo's sheep dog."

Scully looks puzzled at her partner.

Mulder swallows hard. "He was on TV when I was a kid. He had a sheep dog named Bee-Bee." Then he defensively adds, "I was a child of the sixties."

They pull into the large supermarket parking lot. It's filled with vehicles but for a late Friday afternoon when everyone has been paid, it's not as crowded as Scully thought it might be.

Mulder takes Katherine in her baby bucket into the store while Will and Scully eventually catches up with them. He's become an old pro at clipping the baby carrier onto the shopping cart while Scully puts Will into the child seat on the cart she has chosen but not before she pulls out a Wet One and wipes the cart handle free from germs.

"Don't walk to close to me Scully, you never know when Will is going to decide to check for more teeth." Mulder smiles.

Scully looks down her list while Will kicks the cart with one foot. Mulder has already headed for the snack food aisle where Scully knows he'll be for at least the next twenty minutes. It never ceases to amaze her how the man can spend so much time looking at Ho Ho's and Little Debbie cakes. He doesn't spend that much time trying to decide which suit to buy.

Scully and Will have put the dairy products and sandwich supplies into the cart and next head for the paper products aisle. Will chews on a tortilla chip that a woman handing out samples gave him while Scully picks out the proper diapers knowing full well that Mulder's 'one size fits all theory' doesn't hold water or anything else. She starts around the end of an aisle when she hears a young woman gushing, "She's so cute! I'd take her home if her daddy would let me." She smiles, it has to be Katherine she is referring to, after all that is the cookie aisle. She peeks around the corner and frowns. The woman is going on about Katherine but she's eyeing Mulder! He's stammering and looking down at his feet much the same way Katherine looks at hers, only her cheeks are never flame-red like her fathers are.

"She definitely takes after her father in looks," the woman leans into Mulder and says just a little too breathy and a little too naked for Scully's comfort. Scully suspects the woman buys her clothing in the same section of the store she buys Katherine's in. She wheels her cart up to Mulder and says, "Dear, did you find your Little Debbie's?"

The woman looks up and pushes her long brown hair away from her face and says, "I thought her name was Katherine?"

Scully rolls her eyes and continues down the cookie and cracker aisle. Mulder turns the cart around and follows her. "Hey, wait a minute!"

Scully stops but doesn't turn around. Mulder laughs, "Dear? What was that? You're jealous!"

Scully's head snaps up from looking at her list. "I am not! And for your information that woman was just a few years older than your daughter." Scully shrugs, "Maybe we can bring her home and she and Katherine can try on each other's clothes."

Mulder laughs while customers standing nearby just stare. He drops his voice and says, "You are jealous. I think that's sweet."

Scully flashes her blue eyes at him and grits her teeth. "Sweet! You think. . ." Then she realizes she's heard this before and just huffs out a breath and pushes her cart down the aisle, aware of Mulder's snickering.

They finally approach the checkout with one full cart of groceries and the other half full. The young woman running the checkout keeps batting her eyes at Mulder. Scully has to admit it does get damn aggravating to see the flow of estrogen that oozes from the pores of most woman that meet Mulder. He grabs the bags as the clerk fills them. Occasionally her fingers brush his and she giggles and smiles. Scully turns her head and places one hand on her hip muttering under her breath, "Oh brother."

Soon the trunk is full of groceries and the back seat is full of children. Mulder pulls out into the traffic and heads for the dry cleaners. "Scully, we really should check into something a little bigger. We're out growing this car and we do have the money."

"So what have you got in mind?"

Mulder shrugs and flexes his fingers against the steering wheel. "I don't know, maybe a Hummer."

"A Hummer!" Scully can't believe what she is hearing.

"Yeah." Mulder blushes and tilts his head. "It doesn't have to look like a family-mobile, does it?"

"No, but Mulder I think a Hummer is a little out of our price range. We could get two nice little SUV's for the price of one of those."

Mulder nods, "I agree, two SUV's it is, but I get the big one."

Scully flips her hand into the air. "Okay, it's your money."

"No. It's not, it's our money." Mulder motions to the back seat, "And their money."

Scully shakes her head and looks down. "I still can't get use to the fact that we have expendable income. My folks lived so tight and dad never made a lot of money even as a Captain."

Mulder realizes the dilemma Scully is caught in, she's never had a great sum of money and every cent her family had they worked hard for but now to be part of Mulder's windfall from his parents estate; it's difficult for her to find comfort in it. "Scully, its just money, our money, and we don't just throw it away."

Scully laughs then grows quiet, "No, we don't, but our house was a big investment."

"That's right an investment," Mulder softly says to her.

Scully sighs. "Okay. I do have to admit by the time I get those two in the back seat, I don't have room for anything else."

"So it's agreed then, we look for two moderately priced SUV's and I get the big one."

Scully smiles at her partner, "Yeah, you get the big one."

They pull up to the drive-thru window at the dry cleaners and Mulder drops off his suit and takes his receipt.

They finally pull into their own driveway around seven in the evening. William is bouncing in his car seat and saying, "Momma, I want copper's." Katherine is hungry too and cranking up for a good squall.

"Mulder, can you get Will and the groceries while I feed Katherine?"

"Sure, go ahead." Mulder unbuckles Will and whispers to his son, "Will, the coppers are in the trunk."

Will scrambles out of the car seat so Mulder can lift him out of the car. He then opens the trunk and begins to paw through the many bags. Will bounces on his feet next to his father clapping his hands together in anticipation. Soon Mulder finds just what he's been looking for and hands Will a pack of Oscar Meyer all beef franks. The little boy clutches the package to his chest as he and Mulder walk in the back door.

Will takes off down the hallway yelling, "Momma, momma!"

"I'm in here," Scully says from Mulder's office that right now contains the downstairs bassinet. Will rushes in and says, "Coppers," proudly displaying the hot dogs for Scully to see.

"I see that," Scully softly says trying to not wake the infant she's holding. "Tell dad to fix you one, he knows how."

"Okay!" Will says and runs back toward the kitchen. Scully hums softly to her daughter just enjoying their quiet moment together.

Mulder has finally brought all the groceries in with the help of Will who is now carrying in a bag of chips almost as big as he is.

"Okay Will, now let's fix a hot dog for you." Will jumps up and down beside his father. Mulder lifts the little boy up to sit on the counter next to the microwave. He opens the pack of hot dogs and grabs a paper plate from the cupboard and a knife from a drawer under the watchful eyes of his son. He places the hot dog on the plate and cuts it into tiny coin- sized slices. "Hang on Will, your copper pennies are almost done"

Will kicks the cupboard with his heels. "Shh," Mulder says, "you'll wake the baby."

"Da bee-bee wants coppers too!" Will says.

Mulder grins as he places the hot dog into the microwave. "No, Katherine can't eat coppers yet."

"Cause she don't got teef yet," Will rationalizes. "That's right," Mulder laughs.

The microwave dings and Mulder takes the hot dog slices, that now resemble copper pennies, out of the oven; Scully and Will came up with the copper penny idea a few months ago.

Mulder lifts William up to sit in the high chair, buying him some time to allow the coppers to cool. He opens the bag of chips Will brought in earlier and puts a few on his plate, next he opens a juice box and sets it down for his son. William digs in with gusto.

Mulder crouches next to William's chair. "Pretty good, huh?"

"Um hum," Will agrees with a mouth full of sliced hot dog.

Scully comes in the kitchen and rubs Mulder's back while she watches her son eat. "So you have coppers, huh Will?"

The little boy nods as he crams another slice of hot dog into his mouth.

Scully turns Mulder around and wraps her arms around his waist, hugging him tightly. "You go on, I can finish putting these away."

"You sure?" Mulder asks, looking down at her.

"Yeah, it would be quicker if I did it." He returns the warm hug and heads down the hall to his office. `

Scully puts away the rest of the groceries and moves the ones Mulder put away earlier in the wrong places. By now Will is done eating and holding out his paper plate for Scully to throw it away. "All done?" She asks.

"Down," Will says while Scully wipes off his face.

"What do you say William?" Scully softly chides.

"Down, peas."

"Okay, that's a good boy," she says lifting William from the chair. "Be quiet, Katherine is asleep in daddy's office."

"'kay," the little boy whispers.

Scully finishes putting away the groceries then unloads the dishwasher. Putting the last plate away she shuts off the kitchen lights and goes to check on Katherine. She walks into the office to find Will sitting on his father's lap while Mulder scans the Internet. Will looks around his father to see her standing there, putting his finger to his lips he says, "Shh, da bee-bee is seep."

Scully smiles down at him and ruffles his reddish- blonde hair. The deeper into summer it gets the more brown that the sun bleaches out of his baby fine hair. "Come on lets go read," Scully says helping Will off his fathers lap. Mulder is so engrossed in what he's reading that he hardly notices that Will is leaving.

Hand in hand Scully and Will walk up the steps to the second floor where all the bedrooms are. She walks Will into his bedroom and this time Will accepts the offer to use the potty-chair with better results than the last time he tried. Scully washes the little boys' hands and face and puts a diaper on him along with his cotton pajamas. She turns on a soft light and adjusts the thermostat. Will grabs a blanket off the toy chest and brings it to her in a well- established routine. Scully sits down in the rocker and wraps the blanket around her son then picks him up along with his storybook. She opens the book and begins, "The brown bear runs. . . what is that word Will?" Scully asks as she points to a word in the book.

"Up," Will says.

"Up the hill." She turns the page. "The black?"

"Dog," Will replies.

"That's right," Scully says, "and how do you spell dog?"

Will yawns, "D-o-g."

"That's right," Scully softly says, realizing its too late and Will is too tired to comprehend so she continues to just read to him. "The cow mooed at the goat."

Soon Will is soundly sleeping with his thumb in his mouth. Scully lays him in the crib and pulls a blanket up to his chin and places a kiss on his cheek. He flinches but immediately settles back down. She turns out the light and turns on the nightlight in the bottom of the lamp then pulls the door nearly shut.

She heads back downstairs to the office. Mulder is still on the computer but looks weary. Scully picks up Katherine and heads back to the stairs just as Mulder says, "I'll lock up down here." Scully smiles and carries her daughter upstairs.

Katherine opens her eyes and yawns. Scully lays her on the changing table in what will eventually be the baby's own room. She strips off the sundress and diaper; soon the baby is changed into a fresh diaper and one-piece sleeper. Katherine coos and tries to grab at her mother's hair but Scully is too quick for her. She scoops up the baby and walks around the room swaying her back to sleep.

She walks out of Katherine's room and into the room she and Mulder share. As she lays the baby down in her bassinet Katherine sniffles but settles back down. Scully stretches out the kinks in her neck and back as Mulder wanders in having already shed his shoe, socks and shirt. He walks up behind her and begins to knead the bunched up muscles in her back. "Umm," Scully murmurs, "that is almost as good as sex."

"You think so? Then I've been doing something wrong." Mulder whispers in her ear.

Scully laughs.

Mulder next moves in to kiss her neck. Scully reaches behind him and hooks her thumbs into the hip pockets on his jeans. Mulder reaches around to encase her in a hug. They stand there enjoying the silence for a few moments then Scully finally moves away. "I have to go change." Mulder pats her back and runs his fingers through the soft hairs at the nape of her neck. "Why don't you take a hot bath, if either hellion wakes up I'll handle it." Scully turns around; she and Mulder share a few tender pecks on the lips before she leaves to take her bath.

Forty-five minutes later Scully returns from her bath. Mulder is laying in their bed; the huge oak one he bought for her just before Katherine arrived. Unfortunately she could hardly get into it at the time but she knows Mulder meant well. He's propped up on a pile of pillows reading his notes for Monday's class. He puts down the file and asks, "Feeling better?"

"Much," Scully replies. Mulder folds back the hand- made quilt and Scully slips in next to him. He lifts his arm and she snuggles in close, laying her head on his bare chest, she closes her eyes.

Mulder puts down his file and looks over at the woman he will forever share his bed with. "Tired?" He asks in a gravelly whisper. Scully hums in the affirmative. He kisses her nose and chuckles. Scully doesn't open her eyes but asks, "What?"

"I don't think Katherine enjoys Will teaching her to count." Both Mulder and Scully laugh. "No, I don't think so either," Scully replies while she plays with the soft hairs on Mulder's chest.

He wraps his free arm around her. "I don't know how you do it," he says kissing the crown of her head.

"Do what?" Scully groggily asks.

"Keep those two well fed, clothed, and under control." Scully sighs, "Well, I've had years of practice with their father." Mulder grins and Scully can feel the chuckle building in his chest.

He pulls her closer and looks down at her. "You alright Red?"

Scully slowly opens one eye and looks at her partner. "Red is okay, not dear, but it had better not leave this room."

Mulder smiles down at her, he loves to bait her. Scully settles in again and Mulder watches her relax then says, "Scully my knee itches, you think you could scratch it with your toes?"

Scully turns her head so it's resting on her hand that is flat against Mulder's chest. "Is that a short crack?" She has a hard time keeping a straight face."

"No," Mulder laughs.

"Good," Scully says, "because I know an agent who finds me 'fascinating'.

Mulder sticks out his bottom lip. "It had better be me."

Scully rubs her nose against Mulder's muscled chest. "Why don't you turn out the lights and we'll find out together."

Mulder reaches over and turns out the lights. Silence fills the room then Mulder says, "Scully, you gots a runny face."

Both agents can be heard laughing and sighing and laughing once more.

~ 02 The Purchase

It's a hot, humid, sticky day; it's the kind of day that makes the level of reported domestic abuse cases rise along with the murder rate, and one hot, sticky, sunburned redhead is tempted to add to both categories.

"Mulder, we have been looking at vehicles for hours," Scully whines. "The kids are cranky, my feet hurt, and we all need fed."

Fox Mulder is sitting sideways in the car, clad in his jeans and a Tee shirt. His sunglasses are perched on his nose and his cell phone is snuggled against his ear.

Scully sighs and shakes her head, while bouncing Katherine on her hip, trying to keep her fussing from breaking into a full-blown squall.

Will is a few feet to the left of his mother, entertaining himself by tossing rocks down a storm drain, in the middle of the baking asphalt car lot.

"Thanks Frohike, I owe ya," Mulder says then pauses, "No, I don't think payment will come in the form of Scully."

This statement catches Scully's ear and her eyebrow. "So what now?"

Mulder closes his phone and pockets it. "Frohike said, if we go two blocks over, one of the Lone Gunman subscribers has a car lot. He does all the work on the van."

Scully switches Katherine to her other hip so that each side of her blouse is equally covered in baby drool. "Mulder, I am not driving a piece of shit like the Gunman drive."

"Scully! I thought we agreed no profanity around the children."

Scully glares a cold, heart-stopping look at Mulder. "For your information, Katherine hasn't developed language recognition skills yet, and your son is off throwing rocks."

Just then a large bang is heard as Will begins assaulting the rear fender of the Ford Taurus with rocks.

"Hey!" Mulder yells. "That's our trade in." Will simply turns back to tossing rocks down the storm drain.

Mulder turns back to face a frazzled Scully, her blouse drenched in sweat and drool, while her pink tinged arms and legs are quickly turning persimmon red. "No, this guy has a Jeep dealership." He lifts Katherine from Scully's arms and leans into his partner, "Scully, can you picture yourself in a Steel Blue, metallic flake, Grand Cherokee with leather interior and automatic seat height adjustments?"

Scully pulls her sunglasses down from her head and puts them over her eyes. She slumps her shoulder's and sighs, "Okay, one more dealership." Then she steps up to her partner and looks him straight in the eyes. "But Mulder, I swear if one more salesman refers to me as, the 'little woman', some ones gonna get hurt."

Mulder knows better than to smart off. Scully looks around her partner and yells, "Come on Will, time to go."

Suddenly Mulder jumps. "Ouch! Something bit my leg!"

"No," Scully sighs, "Will hit you in the leg with a rock."

Soon everyone is stuffed back into the sedan that is now boasting two fresh dents.

Scully turns to Mulder, "Look we've already ordered one SUV why not call it a day?"

"That's mine." Mulder says protectively. "Can I help it if you're pickier than me?"

"Mulder, that monstrosity you picked out is as big as a fire truck! In fact, it's the same color and I'm betting it gets the same gas mileage."

"Scully, you have to admit, it is one of the safest vehicles on the road. The salesman said, it's highly rated by Car and Driver Magazine."

"Of course it is Mulder, it just runs over anything that gets in its way." Mulder laughs.

"But those automatic steps are pretty cool, and it makes getting into it much easier for you and William."

Scully stares at him, then looks out the front window and snarks, "Thank you, very much Mulder."

Mulder makes a left turn and swings the sedan into a huge, new car lot. "Mo, caws!" Will exclaims. "That's right William, more cars," Scully deadpans.

The moment all the car's occupants are out, a salesman is assaulting them. He's pulling out a handkerchief, trying to wipe off the sweat, before it pours down his neck and settles into the bright orange golf shirt he's wearing. He tucks the cloth back into his hip pocket, then pats down his bad comb-over. "Hey folks, how ya all doin?"

"Fine," Scully mumbles, as he puts out a big meaty hand. He shakes Mulder's hand, then Scully's, and bends down to look at Will. "And what is your name, lil' feller?"

Will takes a step behind Scully's red legs and hides. "Momma, he 'cares me," he pleads.

The salesman ignores Will and looks up at Mulder. "You interested in a wagon, a mini, or an SUV?"

From behind his sunglasses, Mulder looks out over the vast acreage of vehicles and asks, "What if I wanted a canary yellow, 5 speed, 4.7 liter, 235 horse with 295 torque at 3200 rpm, aluminum alloy heads, on a two-seater ragtop with a ten disc CD changer, aluminum wheels and cherry-wood instrument panel?"

The salesman grins, "In a 2003 or 2004?"

Mulder finally looks down at the Weeble-looking salesman. "You're good."

The salesman winks. "Oh, by the way, my name is Daryl."

"I'm Fox Mulder, but everyone calls me Mulder."

Daryl flashes Scully a greasy grin. "And what's the lil' woman's name?"

"That's Dana, but her friends all call her 'killer'," Mulder coolly says from behind his shades.

Daryl isn't sure if Mulder is joking or not, but he steps away from Scully.

Scully smiles an 'I owe you' smile at Mulder. He winks back.

Suddenly a tall, thin, older man with salt and pepper hair appears from the glass showroom door. "Daryl, go see what the gentleman in used cars is looking for. I'll help these people."

Daryl deflates and slumps his shoulders and trudges over to the used car lot.

The older man thrusts out his hand. "I'm Jack Ford, the owner."

Mulder shakes the mans hand and comments, "A Ford owning a Jeep Dealership?"

Mr. Ford smiles, "It is a bit unusual." Mr. Ford then turns to Scully, "And you must be Dana; Melvin has spoken of you many times. Come on, let's get out of the heat."

Scully is left to wonder just what 'Melvin' has been saying about her."

They step into the showroom and immediately feel relief from the heat. Mr. Ford crouches down in front of William and inquires, "What's your name?"

Will hesitates just a second, then softly tells the man, "Will'um," as he twists his fingers in his light blue T-shirt.

Mr. Ford chuckles. "Well William, see that man sitting over there behind the desk?" Mr. Ford is pointing to one of his salesman, who has his back to them and his feet propped up on the desk, while he twirls the phone cord with his finger. Will nods.

"That's Don, now I want you to walk up to Don and yell, 'Hey Don! I wanna a sucker', and he'll give you one."

Will looks over at Don and marches off toward the salesman. He stops three feet from the unsuspecting salesman and yells, "Hey Don! I wanna a zuckur." Don jumps in his chair and nearly drops the phone receiver. He scrambles to regain his composure as he turns his chair around to see William, and his boss, standing there. He whispers something into the phone and hangs it up then looks down at Will, "So you want a sucker, huh?"

Mr. Ford turns to Mulder and Scully, "Sorry folks, I guess I'm guilty of using your son. Don's always on the phone to his new girlfriend." Will comes wondering back, chewing on a cherry sucker.

"Come on, let's go into my office."

They just get settled in, with Will sitting on Mulder's lap and Scully trying to deal with a squirming baby, when Katherine finally can't stand it any longer and really cranks it up. Nothing Scully can do seems to satisfy the baby. "Mr. Ford do you have a restroom I can use?"

"Sure," Mr. Ford smiles, "I have five kids of my own." He directs Scully to the restroom while Mulder offers her his help. She tells him to just keep an eye on Will, then disappears with Katherine.

"So Mr. Mulder, I've been warned to just call you 'Mulder'."

Mulder smiles, "I see the guys have filled you in."

The dealer leans back in his chair and fingers his pencil. "Mulder, I've been following your work for years."

Mulder is momentarily caught off guard. "You have?"

"I'm a big believer in the paranormal, and in the possibility of life outside this planet."

Mr. Ford gets up from behind his desk and shuts the glass door to his office then returns to his chair. "I've seen things, things I can't explain."

"Like how zero percent financing, can suddenly become fifteen percent," Mulder wisecracks.

"Well, that too," Mr. Ford laughs.

Mulder grins, "We should talk sometime."

"Anyway, Melvin says, Dana is looking for something to drive."

"That's right." Mulder says, as a now lethargic Will asks to be put down. Mulder lets the little boy down, and William slowly lies down on the carpet, falling fast asleep. Mulder sees the look of surprise on Mr. Ford's face and shrugs, "He's like his mother, he can sleep anywhere."

"Look, Mr. Ford. . ."

"Please call me Jack."

"Okay, Jack, I want Scully, I mean Dana, to have something nice but safe. To be truthful, she's worried about the expense, but I'm not."

"FBI must pay great." Jack grins.

"No, believe me they don't," Mulder smiles. "I've inherited some funds from my family. Dana's a realist, she would be willing to get by with what ever was safe for the kids, no matter what it looked like." Mulder looks down at his son, sleeping on the floor. "But she deserves more and I want her to have it."

Both men look up to see Scully coming through the door. "Sorry that took so long," Scully blushes. But now the baby in her arms is much happier. "Where's Will?" Mulder points to the child sleeping on the floor. Scully nods.

Mr. Ford twists his chair back and forth, eyeing Scully. "So Dana, Mulder tells me you're looking for a vehicle to transport these two in."

"That's right, but nothing flashy or too ostentatious."

"Have you given any thought as to what model you might be interested in?"

"Not really," Scully replies as Katherine settles in for her nap.

"Excuse me," Mulder says and suddenly dashes from the office.

"Dana, we do have a nice selection of 2003's in stock. They're a better deal, because of our closeout specials, than if you ordered a 2004."

"That's fine with me," Scully says trying to deal with the sleeping child in her arms.

"And we can slip you into a much nicer vehicle for the money."

Mulder returns with Katherine's baby carrier. He gently lifts her from Scully's arms and places her in it, without waking her. He settles back down in his chair.

"Mulder, Mr. Ford says our best buy at this time of the year would be to take one off the lot."

"I agree," Mulder says, knowing full well, Jack is trying to upgrade Scully without her realizing it.

They flip through the pages of information on each model. Scully narrows it down to the Grand Cherokee. Jack turns to his computer and brings up all the models of Cherokee's that they have on the lot.

Mulder has his elbow on Jack's desk and is resting his chin on his hand as he stares at the vehicles on the computer screen. Scully moves a little closer to Mulder, so she too can see the pictures. Mulder points to one Cherokee and says, "Ahh, Inferno Red, that color reminds me of you Scully."

Scully smiles at him. "I think I prefer the Bright Silver."

Mr. Ford clicks a few keys, "Bright Silver it is." Up comes five, Bright Silver, Grand Cherokee's.

Mulder grimaces and glances over to the sleeping children, "I don't think we want cloth seats."

"Well, I do have two in Dark Slate, Gray Leather."

"That sounds nice," Scully chimes in, showing more interest.

Mr. Ford clicks a few more keys and brings up pictures of each Cherokee. "What's the difference between those two?" Mulder questions.

"Well. . ." Mr. Ford pauses, "they both have the Mopar Navigation Systems, towing and trailer packages, running boards, all-terrain tires and, oh, one has a power sunroof."

"Can I see that one?" Scully jumps in. Mulder smiles at her, but she's too consumed by the thought of the sunroof to notice.

"Sure," Mr. Ford says, why don't I get the keys and we can take it for a spin."

Scully looks over at William and Katherine and says, "No that's okay."

Mulder bumps her with his arm. "Go on, I'll watch these two. You're the one who is going to be driving it. Go on!"

Jack leaves the office to retrieve the keys as Scully gets up. "Okay, but I'm just looking."

"Go on!" Mulder laughs.

Jack comes in holding the keys, "Come on Dana, lets take it for a spin."

Mulder follows them out of the office and watches through the window, as a sleek, silver, SUV pulls up. A young man exits the vehicle and holds the door open for Scully. She crawls in the driver side while Jack gets in the passengers.

Mulder can see Jack talking; he is pointing out the instrument panel and the various luxuries on the Cherokee. He sees Scully look surprised and then laugh, as her bucket seat begins to move closer to the steering wheel. Jack points to something on the left side, and the mirrors move. Scully looks up and the sunroof opens. Both occupants buckle their seat belts and Scully pulls the SUV away from the curb.

Mulder returns to Mr. Ford's office just as Will is waking up. The child looks confused by his surroundings, but once he sees Mulder sitting there and Katherine's bucket sitting on the desk, he calms down and crawls into Mulder's lap, promptly falling back to sleep.

Mulder pulls out his cell and dials. "Frohike, it's me."

"Yeah, she's out test driving one right now. I think the clincher is the sunroof." Mulder laughs.

Frohike replies to Mulder.

"You're right, Jack is smooth. I better go, they'll be back soon and thanks." Mulder pauses for a moment. "What's that? Okay, it's a deal." Mulder closes his phone just as Scully and Jack return.

Scully enters the office but Jack has been called away. "So what do you think?" Mulder asks her.

Scully smiles, "It's great, but Mulder, it's so expensive, and we are soon going to have payments on the one you just ordered."

Jack returns. "Sorry for the interruption folks, now where were we?" He sits down at his desk and pulls up the cost sheet on the Cherokee; that Scully has just fell in love with.

Mulder clears his throat. "Jack, what are we talking here, price wise?"

Jack clicks a few keys, then settles back into his large, leather chair. "She books out at just under thirty."

"Thousand?" Scully gulps.

"But, I can let you have it for twenty-eight."

"How much for cash?" Mulder questions.

"Mulder!" Scully gasps.

Jack thinks for a few moments, "Twenty-six, five, but that's as low as I can go."

Scully looks at her partner and finally deflates, "Okay, we'll take it."

"Fine," Jack says, "I'll have the paperwork drawn up." He grabs a pile of papers from his desk. "I'll be right back."

Scully turns to her partner, "Mul . . ."

"Hold it Scully, this is to go with a birthday present I once gave you."

Scully regards Mulder, then her eyes well up with tears, and she softly says, "My Apollo key chain."

Just then, Will wakes up and sees Scully sitting there. He slowly sits up, and crawls into her lap. He sighs and goes back to sleep. Scully and Mulder, both, hold back their laughter.

Jack comes back in with papers for Mulder and Scully to sign. Mulder signs his name, then says, "I'll have my bank transfer the funds to your bank tomorrow."

"That's fine." Jack replies, and hands Scully the keys. "She's all yours."

"What! You mean now?"

"Sure," Jack laughs, "you are with the FBI and better yet, you're friends of Melvin."

Mulder turns to Jack. "Frohike is buying the sedan off us so I'm going to leave it here. Have your guys check it over and send me the bill. He'll be over in a few days to get it." "Not a problem," Jack assures Mulder.

Scully carries Will out of the office, while Mulder gathers up Katherine and the diaper bag.

Mulder unhooks the car seat from the Taurus, and secures it in the Cherokee while Jack helps Scully buckle Katherine in. Mulder shakes Jack's hand, and crawls into the passenger side. Scully just stares at him. "Well, come on. This is yours, you drive."

Scully's face breaks out into a large grin as she opens the driver's side door. She starts up the engine, checks her mirrors, and puts the Cherokee in drive before pulling out into traffic. Suddenly William wakes up and sits up straighter in his car seat. Looking out the side window he sighs, "Oh no, mo' caws." He then settles back to sleep.

Mulder and Scully both laugh.

~ 03 The Fight ~


"Hi mom, come on in." Dana says as she stands back to let her mother in the house.

"Hello honey, where are the kids?"

"William is in the living room watching Beauty and the Beast."

"Not again," Maggie laughs.

"'fraid so," Scully smiles, "and Katherine is asleep in the office."

Maggie hugs her daughter, then walks into the foyer. "I'll go check on Katherine, then see if I can tear William away from Beauty and the Beast long enough to play with his grandma."

Just then the phone rings. Scully heads to the kitchen to answer it.


"Sir, it's nice to hear from you."

"I suppose I can. My mom's here, she can stay with Will and Katherine until Mulder gets home."

"But how will this effect my family leave? Won't it void it, if I go in?"

"Okay, I'll be right there."

Scully hangs up the phone, turning to see her mother coming in the kitchen carrying her grand daughter. Scully leans back against the counter and crosses her arms. "Mom, I hate to ask you this. . ."

"What is it Dana?" Maggie grows concerned.

"Can you baby sit until Mulder gets home?"

Maggie laughs, "Well, it's such a burden to watch my grand children for a couple of hours, but I think I can work it into my schedule."

Will bursts into the kitchen. "Momma, I'm hun-gee!"

Scully smiles and rubs his curly head. "Of course you are William, you're like a baby bird; always hungry."

"Look mom, can you feed him? I really need to get going."

"Sure honey, where will you be?" Maggie turns to follow Scully, who is busy looking for her keys.

"At the bureau. Skinner needs me, three gunshot victims have been brought in and they want me to look them over." Scully kisses Katherine's head and William's cheek, then she leaves the house.

Fox Mulder's cell phone chirps while he's in the middle of his class. He excuses himself to take the call out in the hallway.


"Hey Mulder, it's me."

"What's up?" Mulder asks as he slumps against the cool, cinder block wall.

"I'm headed into the bureau. Skinner has requested that I look over three shooting victims that have already been autopsied."

"Why would you be performing autopsies on stiffs already autopsied?" Mulder muses.

"They're the victims of the latest possible spree shootings, Skinner was told by the director to make sure nothing was missed."

Mulder smiles, "So they called in the best, huh."

Scully blushes, "Let's hope so, it's been a long time."

"You'll do fine," he says reassuringly.


"Where's Will and Katherine?" He asks.

"Luckily, mom had just gotten there. I told her you would relieve her after your class is over."

"Not a problem." Mulder pushes himself off the wall and walks to his classroom door.

"Okay. See you later."

"Later." Mulder smiles and waits to hear the click before he disconnects.

"So William, what do you want for lunch?" Maggie asks, as she bends down, eye-level with her grandson.

"Celeal," the little boy says, then adds, "Swededeet!"

"What?" Maggie questions.

"Swededeet!" Will repeats.

Maggie opens the cupboard door and laughs, "Oh! Shredded Wheat."

"Yeah!" Will replies, jumping up and down.

"Let me set your sister down and I'll get your Shredded Wheat." Maggie sits Katherine in her baby carrier and straps her in.

"Da bee-bee wants swededeet too!" William says.

"No William, Katherine can't eat Shredded Wheat yet," Maggie smiles. She pours her grandson a bowl of cereal and puts him in his highchair. She places a bib around his neck, and hands him a spoon, then pours the milk on. Years of experience has taught her to add the milk last, it prevents a lot of accidents from happening.

Scully is immersed in the first autopsy, when she hears the doors open and looks up to see Mulder standing in front of her, holding up a Styrofoam cup and a white bag. "Bet you didn't have any lunch."

"No, I didn't," Scully smiles and removes her latex gloves and goggles.

"So, what have you found, anything?" Mulder questions, as he sets her cup and bag of food down on a nearby table.

"Nothing yet," Scully replies as she walks over and pulls the lid off the cup of coffee, taking a healthy drink. "I won't know until I've finished all three and compare the results."

Mulder plops down on a stool and twirls himself around. Scully smiles at his antics. There's a rap on the door and a young man dressed in a suit and sporting a bureau ID comes in. "Agent Scully?"

"That's me," Scully waves to him while taking another sip of her coffee.

The young man thrusts out a large pile of papers. "Here's the copies of the case files you requested."

Scully puts down her coffee and grabs the pile of papers with both hands. "Thank you," she says placing the pile on the table, next to her lunch.

The agent nods and leaves the room.

Scully begins to flip through the papers, when she notices Mulder frowning at her. "What?" She questions.

"Scully, where are your rings?"

She looks down at her bare, left hand, then smiles and pulls her necklace out from under the top of her scrubs. "I put them on here, to keep them safe."

Mulder reaches over to finger the two brilliant rings. "For what these things set me back, if you ever lose them in some stiff, we're digging him back up."

"I won't lose them," Scully smiles as she stashes them back under her top.

Mulder is eyeing the reports the agent brought in. "Mind if I take a look at these?" He casually asks Scully.

"No, be my guest," Scully says as she pries the lid off the salad bowl Mulder brought her for lunch.

Twenty minutes later, Scully is back to examining the first body, and Mulder has left.

Maggie has fed both children, and changed Will. He still managed to spill cereal down his shirt and into his lap. Katherine is sitting in her swing, entertaining herself by jabbering to no one in particular. William is pushing a toy truck across Scully's new coffee table, while Maggie watches him play. Suddenly Katherine gets much louder, Maggie looks up in surprise, but it doesn't phase Will. "Da-dee says, da bee-bee sings wike Momma," Will prattles on, not looking up.

Maggie laughs, "He does?"

"Um hum," Will acknowledges, but continues to play.

Maggie moves a little closer to her grandson. "William, why don't you and I bake some cookies?"

That gets William's attention; his head snaps up and his big, blue eyes grow wide. "Okay!" He grins and scrambles up off the floor.

Maggie lifts Katherine from her swing, and takes it and her, into the kitchen. Will follows her in and waits, while she settles his sister into the swing. Once that's done, Maggie lifts William up and sits him on the counter, to wash his hands in the sink.

Mulder has taken the pile of folders, that Scully gave him, back to their old X Files office. He turns the key in the lock and shoves the door open. He flips on the lights, and scans the room that once crackled with excitement and hummed with energy; but now it's just his old office. The bureau doesn't even want the space back. In his mind, one day he and Scully will return to the X Files, and spend their days traveling and searching for the Truth. But sometime will have to elapse, and upper management will have to change, before they'll forget his little Lazarus impersonation; besides he has more important things in his life now.

He sits down in the cool leather chair, and just like old times, props his feet up on his desk and begins to read the files.

Scully has just rolled out the second body, she can already feel the twinges and aches, from muscles not use to standing and bending so much. Her mind drifts to William and Katherine, and what they are up to. Has Mulder taken them out to the pool, if so, did he put the baby's sun hat on her? Did he find Will's new blanket, the one she bought for him to drag around when he gets sleepy and decides to crash on the floor, and just what floor did he choose to sleep on this time? Scully smiles and begins to unwrap the body.

Maggie and Will are busy washing the few dishes they dirtied while making cookies. Will is perched on the counter next to her as she hands him a wooden spoon. He dries the life out of the poor spoon, before putting it in the jar on the counter. A glance reveals Katherine is fast asleep, in her now motionless swing. Once the dishes are all done, Maggie lifts William from the counter but not before he protests, "Wanna cookie, gamma."

Maggie sits the little boy in his highchair. "Okay, but first, why don't you and I share a grilled cheese sandwich?"

"Okay!" Will readily agrees.

Maggie slides one golden brown, grilled cheese sandwich onto a plate and cuts it in two, then grabs a glass and a sipper cup. She locates the milk and fills them both. Will has not taken his eyes off her since she started to make his sandwich. She sits one-half of the sandwich before the child, along with the sipper cup of milk. Will just stares at it.

"Come on Will, eat up." Maggie encourages, but Will just sits there. Finally she asks, "What's wrong?"

Will looks up from his sandwich, and softly says, "I don't wike cwust."

"Oh," Maggie laughs, "is that all." She grabs a knife and trims off the crust. William snatches up the sandwich and takes a large bite.

"Can grandma have your crust?" Maggie asks. "Um huh," Will says around a mouth full of grilled cheese sandwich.

Maggie laughs and William grins.

Mulder is no longer in his office; in fact he left hours ago.

Scully has finished the second body, and is half way through the third, when the thought hits her; Katherine has a doctor's appointment tomorrow. It looks like she's going to be stuck here until this autopsy is finished, there will be little time to do it tomorrow, so she pushes on.

It's getting late, and Maggie is bathing Katherine, while Will is playing on the kitchen floor behind her. Wrapping the child in a large towel, she heads upstairs. "Come on William, I need to dress your sister." Will follows her upstairs and into his sister's room. While Maggie is diapering Katherine, Will pulls a one-piece sleeper out of the basket under the changing table, and hands it to Maggie. She looks down and laughs, "Thank you William, you're a big help."

Will doesn't acknowledge the praise, he's already off, digging into Katherine's toy box.

Maggie carries the baby into her own daughter's room and sits down in the rocker. Will follows her in, carrying Katherine's rag doll and a blanket. Maggie watches him wrap the doll, while she rocks her grand daughter. Closing her eyes, she softly says; "I wonder where Fox is?"

"He's wiff momma," Will says as he continues to wrap the doll.

"He is?" Maggie smiles.

"Day go dancin'," William replies. He's finally satisfied with his wrapping job, and sits down on the floor, rocking Katherine's doll to sleep.

Maggie listens to the A/C kick on, and the crickets beginning to chirp. Soon Katherine is sound a sleep, and deposited in her bassinet, in the corner of the room. Will, in the meantime, has fallen asleep on the doll, crushing his baby. Maggie shakes her head and lifts her grandson off the floor. She carries him to his own room and strips off his shoes and clothing, and next places a fresh pull-up diaper on him. Will rolls over on his side and sighs. Maggie pulls the new blanket over her grandson and kisses the top of his head. She shuts out the light, and turns to look back at the sleeping child once more, then leaves the room.

Once downstairs, she picks up the toys that William has strung throughout the huge house. She pauses to remember the day, shortly before Katherine arrived, that Fox took Dana, and herself, to see this lovely, white brick, home. Dana was overwhelmed by the immensity of it. But somehow, Fox had cajoled and charmed his way into getting Dana to agree to buy it. Within two weeks, with the help of Fox's three strange friends, the Mulder family was all moved in. Maggie's only regret, is that Dana sometimes fights all the love and adoration Fox wants to heap upon her, if she would only let him.

Scully has just shut out the lights in the autopsy bay when her cell phone chirps. "Scully."

"Scully, this is Skinner. How's it coming?"

Scully sighs, and rubs the back of her neck. "I've just finished sir."

Skinner pauses then says, "You think you can fax me your report tonight?"

"Tonight!" Scully bits back, before she catches herself. "Sorry sir, but it's been a long day."

"I'm sorry Scully, but you're the best pathologist around, and what's more important, I know you don't deal in supposition. Your findings will be the facts, as they appear to you."

Scully rubs her tired eyes, and purses her lips, then leaves the building. "What if I fax you my notes and my conclusions?"

Skinner perks up. "That will be fine, at least the assembled task force can get some idea of what we're dealing with here."

Scully pulls out her key chain, and disables her alarm, then unlocks the door to her SUV. "I can tell you this much, in my opinion, you have two shooters, either working in tandem or separately. Look, I'll fax my notes over, just as soon as I get home."

Skinner let's out a breath, "Thanks. I'll be waiting. Oh, and I owe you one."

"Good, you can baby sit sometime," Scully smiles as she pulls the door shut.

Skinner chuckles, "It'll be my pleasure. Good night."

Scully pulls her seatbelt over her shoulder, and just sits there for a moment, allowing her body to unwind. She then starts the car and pulls out into the night.

11:35 PM finds Maggie Scully resting on her daughter's living room couch. "Mom?" Maggie hears the word but it doesn't register yet. "Mom, why are you still here? Why didn't you go home?"

Maggie finally wakes up to see her daughter standing over her. She lifts the afghan that covers her legs and sits up. "Oh honey, you're home. I must have dozed off," she yawns.

Scully crosses her arms and shifts her weight to one tired leg. "Where's Mulder?"

Maggie pushes the hair back from her face. "I don't know Dana. I haven't seen him all day."

Now Scully is furious. "He never showed up!"

"No dear, I assumed he was busy, like you."

Scully shakes her head, but doesn't want her mother to be aware of the rage that is building inside of her. "Mom, I'm so sorry you had to spend all day and part of the night here."

Maggie gets up and folds the afghan, before slipping into her shoes. "Honey, it's okay. I'm just glad I could be of help. Well, I'd better get going."

"Mom, I hate to see you drive home, alone, at this hour of the night."

Maggie laughs, "Dana, stop worrying. Remember, I sold the house and took your apartment, how many miles can that be?"

Scully smiles at her mother, she knows she's right. Maggie kisses her daughter's cheek and lets herself out. Scully watches from the window until her mom is out of sight.

Scully unpacks her plastic bag of reports and files, having forgotten to take her briefcase with her; she had to make do with what she could find. Her feet are killing her, so she slips off her shoes. She fires up the PC in the office, then heads upstairs to look in on the kids.

Will is curled up into a tight, little ball. She has to smile, wondering if he'll ever sleep in any other position. She kisses his cheek and walks across the hallway to check on Katherine. The baby is sleeping on her back with her tiny fists clenched to her sides. Scully is amazed at how much Katherine resembles Samantha. The word, clone, enters Scully's mind, but she immediately dismisses it. Scully knows that this peace with her daughter will not last, soon she will be hungry again. She kisses the baby's head and feels a touch of sadness that she too, will soon be sleeping in her own room. She wishes time would slow down and let her enjoy her children, at this young age, for just a bit longer.

She closes the door to the bedroom she shares with Mulder, well, for now she does, and makes her way back downstairs to begin faxing her notes to Skinner.

Soon the floor is covered in her notes, as she places them in order, to begin faxing them to Skinner. She stacks the papers into the self-feeder and sits down to check her Email. Scully hears a noise coming from the kitchen, and then that all too familiar sound of Mulder dropping his keys on the counter. He's home and she's mad.

Mulder walks in the office and sees Scully sitting at the PC with her back to him. He walks up to her and kisses the crown of her head, then begins to massage her shoulders. He takes one look at the papers strewn about and asks, "Rough day?"

Scully attempts to control her anger. "Where were you?"

Oh shit! Mulder knows he's in trouble when she answers a question with a question.

Scully swivels the chair around to face him. He looks down into those cool, steel blue eyes, and knows this is not good. "I was working on a profile for the same case you were working on."

Scully runs her tongue over her bottom lip and stands up. "Mulder, I told you, my mom was here with the kids."

"I know Scully," Mulder hurriedly interjects, "that's why I went to the bureau and worked on the profile."

Scully is lost in his logic. "Why did you ditch my mom to work on a damn profile?"

Now Mulder is getting mad. "I knew Will and Katherine were in good hands, and I saw something in the files that I thought had been over looked!"

"So you left my mom, and Will, and Katherine, for fourteen hours so you could play profiler?" Scully is nearly shouting now.

"Scully! I did just what you did. I left the kids with your mom so I could help."

Scully studies him for a moment, then lowers her voice a bit, "The big difference here Mulder, I was asked to come on board this case, you were not!" She is staring directly at him.

Mulder doesn't say a word, but begins to pick up the papers lying on the floor. Scully turns back to the PC and discovers she has an Email from Skinner. She reads his message conveying his thanks, and shuts down the computer.

By now Mulder has picked up all the papers and is starting up the staircase. Scully catches him half way up and says; "You know what really bothers me?"

Mulder doesn't reply.

Scully takes another step up so they're on the same level. "What really bothers me, is you didn't even attempt to phone home and see how the kids were."

"Did you?" Mulder snarks.

"Mulder!" Scully screams, "I thought they were with you!"

"Scully, I trust your mom. If she had needed anything, she would have called my cell, or hell, called you! But she didn't, did she?"

"Mulder, this is not about my mother's ability to handle any situation that might arise. This is about you not giving a damn about your children! You run off to who knows where. . ."

"I was in West Virginia." Mulder says with his head down.

"West Virginia!" Scully says incredulously.

"I wanted to get a feel for the crime scenes."

Scully is seething now. She walks past him and comments over her shoulder, "Well, at least I know where your priorities are now."

Mulder marches up the steps behind her, this is far from over. "My priorities! My priorities!" He spits out. "Look, you were the one who took on this case, on your family leave time, not me."

"I've already told you, Skinner asked me to do it! And for your information, in lieu of pay I get more time off to spend with the kids."

"And since when did you start kissing Skinner's ass?" Mulder yells.

Scully walks up close to him, sticks out her chin and yells, "Since I stopped kissing yours!"

Suddenly a crying can be heard, not just a whimper, but a full-blown, scared shitless, hard bawling. Will has been awakened by the sound of his parents fighting.

Scully rubs her temple with her thumb and forefinger then rushes to her son, with Mulder hot on her heels.

Will is pressed up against the far side of his crib, his fingers in his mouth and his chest wet from his tears. His breathing is hitched and he looks scared to death. Scully scoops up her son and hold him tight, as her own eyes well up at the sight of confusion and stress on his face.

Mulder leans against the dresser, holding himself as he stares down at his feet. He flashes back to his parents fights he had witnessed as a child, and had sworn then, that he would never put his own children through what he had went through. But he has.

Scully talks softly to William and calms his down, somewhat. She carries him into his bathroom and wipes his face and chest with a warm washcloth, but once again, he sets up a howl. Even though he has been off the bottle for months, she asks Mulder to fix Will a bottle of water. She needs to get some fluids into her son, and the feeling of comfort, might help calm him down.

She carries Will downstairs to the living room, so he won't wake up Katherine. He's starting to settle down when Mulder returns with the bottle of water. "Thank you," Scully softly says, to a very concerned looking Mulder. She sits down in their glider and offers the bottle to her son. He greedily drinks it, but still cries out occasionally, as he wipes at his eyes.

Scully looks up at Mulder and whispers, "Why don't you go check on Katherine." Mulder nods and heads upstairs.

Scully rocks the little boy and holds him close, mumbling words of comfort to him. He is starting to respond and relax, while his eyes grow heavy. He reaches up to finger the tendrils of hair that have escaped from his mother's ponytail. Scully's eyes begin to water; she remembers how William loved to play with her hair when he was no older than Katherine is now.

Mulder returns from upstairs, but stands in the doorway to the living room, watching mother and child interact. Scully takes Will's hand and runs her own fingers over his, then pulls it to her lips to kiss. Will sees Mulder standing there and stops drinking to grin at his father. Mulder now has red rimmed eyes too. Scully looks up to see him standing there. She smiles at him and puts out her hand. He walks over and gets down on one knee, running his fingers over Will's soft cheek, his voice thick with emotion, he asks, "Is he gonna be all right?"

Scully takes Mulder's hand in her own and squeezes it. "Yeah, he's gonna be just fine."

Mulder looks directly at Scully and croaks out, "Are we okay?"

Scully looks at the distress on his face. "Yeah, we're gonna be okay too." Mulder is relieved, but still distressed at what they have put Will through.

Scully starts to get up, but Mulder stops her. "No, let me. You go take a shower, I'm sure you could use one." Scully hesitates, but senses the need in Mulder to hold his son. She follows him upstairs and heads for their bathroom.

Mulder cradles his son to him, kissing his head and running his large hand over Will's small back, then he puts his down. He leans over the railing and softly says, "William, I promise you 'that' will never happen again." Then he pulls the blanket over his son and leaves the room.

Mulder toes off his shoes, and sits down on his side of the bed, he shares with Scully. He pulls off his tie and takes off the sticky shirt he's worn all day. Next to go is his undershirt and socks. He unbuckles his suit pants and lets them drop to the floor. He then picks up the clothes and tosses all of them, except his suit, into the hamper in his closet. He sits back down on the bed and rubs his palms into his weary eyes.

Scully comes out of the bathroom and tosses her clothes into the hamper as well and says, "All yours."

Mulder smiles at her and chuckles, "I hope it still is."

Scully flashes him a sideways look and a grin.

"Scully, come here."

Scully does as she's asked and steps over to Mulder. He stands up and envelops her in his arms. "I am so sorry Scully. This should have never happened."

Scully lays her head against his chest. "I know, I know, it's just not worth it."

Mulder kisses her forehead. "You were right Scully, my place is here."

Scully looks up at him; "You should be here because you want to be, not because I say so." Mulder squeezes her tighter. "I do want to be here, more than anything in the world." He tilts Scully's head up and softly kisses her lips. They cling to one another for a few moments then Mulder pulls away. "I guess, I should shower."

Scully ducks her head and brushes back the tears while going to check on Katherine and William. The baby has managed to sleep through this one not so shining moment, in her parent's lives.

Will is curled up once again as if nothing had ever happened. She lowers the crib rail and leans in to kiss her son's cheek as she strokes his head. She pulls up the blanket and raises the rail. She pauses and stoops down looking through the bars on the crib, and says, "William, I am so sorry." Tears fill her eyes. "Don't be mad at your dad and I, we're still new at this." She rubs his tiny fingers. "But I swear, this will not happen again."

By now, Mulder is back in their room and pulling down the quilt and the top sheet. He adjusts the thermostat and sets the alarm clock. Scully comes in, and sits down, running a comb through her hair. Each partner is alone, with his or her own thoughts, but equally feeling guilty. Mulder sits down beside Scully on the bed then he takes her left hand. "What?"

Mulder lets a small smile cross his face. "I just wanted to make sure you didn't flush your rings down the toilet."

Scully looks down at Mulder's hand covering her own and places her right hand on top of his. "And have you crawling around in a sewer, like some flukeman, looking for them." She grins at him. "Never."

Mulder pulls her closer and they softly kiss, then meet forehead to forehead. Mulder finally breaks the silence. "Scully, this cannot happen, ever again."

Scully draws back and looks into his eyes. "We can't make promises we can't keep."

Mulder looks confused.

Scully continues, "Mulder, you and I are both strong willed, determined people, who can't take 'no' for an answer. We will argue, and from time to time fight, but. . ." she pauses, "never again in front of William or Katherine."

Mulder looks down at their entwined hands, "I agree, and I will call your mom tomorrow and apologize."

Scully chuckles, "She'll tell you it was no trouble, but thanks for thinking of her."

Mulder grabs her shoulder and squeezes it, "Come on, let's go to bed." Scully turns her head and kisses him once more.

They both crawl under the covers and Mulder turns out the lights. Scully settles in, in her usual place, tucked under Mulder's arm and snuggled against his chest. "So Mulder, what did you learn on your trip to West Virginia?"

Mulder snuggles in closer. "I am positive, they should be looking for two killers, not one."

Scully lifts her head from his shoulder. Mulder can tell, even in the dark, that she is staring at him. "What?" he asks.

"I came up with the same conclusion."

"You did?" Mulder looks at her, then lays back down and chuckles, "Damn, we're a great team."

Scully lays her arm across his chest and sighs, "Yes, we are."

~ 04 The Visitor ~

Thursday ~

Scully isn't sure how Mulder will take the news. They hadn't planned on another arrival so soon, but it's going to happen... her brother Bill is coming to visit, again.

Mulder has classes scheduled for all day today and won't be home for another hour, but Scully is already nervous. Granted, Bill had been congenial when he and Tara came to see William, shortly after his birth. But Mulder was still recovering from the torture he had endured during his captivity, and subsequent death. Bill never did fully wrap his mind around Mulder's version of the big dirt nap, but he had at least been civil to him. Only this time, they're staying at her house for a full week! Scully isn't sure that Mulder won't want to crawl back into the ground once he hears the news.

Scully turns off the PC, putting away her notes regarding the case she's been assisting on in an advisory capacity, for one of the FBI field offices. She hasn't really been concentrating on it since Tara called with the 'wonderful' news.

Suddenly the kitchen door opens and shuts; which means one thing. . .Mulder is home. "Hey Scully, I'm home."

"I'm in here," Scully replies, trying to keep the nervousness out of her voice.

Mulder comes through the doorway and tosses his jacket on the nearest chair. He walks up behind her and kisses the crown of her head then begins to work his way down her neck. "Where are the kids?" He breathes on the shoulder that he is now nibbling on.

"What kids?" Scully moans.

Mulder stops long enough to chuckle, before he draws her out of the chair and continues his lip-trip south.

"Oh," Scully sighs, "you mean 'our' kids." Then she slaps him on the arm. "Mulder stop that."

Mulder acquiesces and releases her. "So where are they?"

Scully walks into the kitchen with Mulder trailing along behind her. "My mom took them for the day."

"She can handle them both at once?" Mulder questions.

Scully smiles at him as she pulls a bottle of water out of the fridge. "Mulder, she raised four kids, most of the time by herself."

Mulder grabs the bottle from Scully after she has taken a drink. "Yeah, but she's older now." Mulder tips up the bottle and nearly drains it.

"She's watched them for us in the past."

"I know, but Katherine is starting to squirm."

Scully is confused, "Starting to squirm?"

"You know, she's suddenly aware that there is a whole big world out there, and she wants to be a part of it."

Scully laughs and looks up at her partner. "She is five months old Mulder, how much 'squirming' can she do!"

Mulder hands the nearly empty bottle of water back to Scully. "Remember Will at five months?"

Scully's face goes blank, as she remembers her son at that age. "But Mulder, we didn't know what we were doing the last time."

Scully drains the bottle and tosses it into the recycle bin. "Anyway, the kids will be home around seven." She sits down at the island counter. "I have something to tell you." Mulder sits down across from her, wide-eyed and tense. It finally dawns on Scully, he's afraid of what she might say. "No, no, Mulder, it's not cancer."

Mulder drops his head and lets out a long breath. "Scully, don't ever start a conversation with me with the words, 'I have something to tell you'," he rasps out.

Scully reaches across the table and takes his hands in hers. "I know Mulder, I'm sorry."

Mulder swallows hard. "So what is it?"

"Bill, Tara, and Mathew, are coming to visit. They'll be here Saturday, and are spending the week," Scully blurts out.

"Sooo, they're staying here?" Mulder looks around the kitchen.

Scully licks her lips and lets go of Mulder's hand. "I'm afraid so," she softly replies.

"And you were afraid to tell me. Why?"

"Well, I know Bill hasn't been the nicest person to you in the past."

"Scully, he had no reason to be nice to me in the past." Scully looks up, surprised by what she is hearing. "Look, I know he thinks I'm a prick, but I'm ready to prove him wrong. I'd like to think, in some way, I've contributed to your being happy." Mulder looks down at the counter, then raises his eye's to glance across at Scully. "You are happy, aren't you Scully?" He softly asks.

Scully gets off the stool and walks around to stand behind him. She wraps her arms around his chest, steps close to him, and whispers in his ear, "Mulder I am happy, no qualifiers, no stipulations, just happy, solidly happy."

Mulder swings his stool around to face her. Scully steps between his bent knees and places her arms around him once more. Mulder kisses her lips before Scully continues, "Thanks to you, I have two lovely, brilliant . . ."

"Squirmy." Mulder chimes in.

"Squirmy," Scully laughs, "children, who love their father almost as much as I do." "Thanks Scully," Mulder quietly says, then ruins the moment by adding, "and don't forget, I bought you this monster house and a really cool SUV."

Scully pats his shoulder and steps back from him. "Mulder, do me a favor and don't speak to our children until they're twenty."

Friday ~

Dana has spent the day with her mom, Katherine, and William. They bought groceries, paid bills, picked up the dry cleaning, and ordered pre-cut flowers, all in anticipation of her brother's visit tomorrow.

Maggie puts away the groceries, so that Scully can work on the case she is currently involved with. Will does interrupt her long enough to have his shoes tied. He can almost do it himself, but Scully has a terrible time getting them off his feet with so many knots in the strings. So the rule now is; mom ties the shoes.

Maggie fed Will, while Scully fed Katherine, and now both kids are asleep.

Maggie pops her head into the office. "Honey, how about some lunch?"

Scully sighs and removes her glasses, then stretches her arms over her head. "Sounds good to me. Want some help?"

"Nope, it's all ready, just go wash up." Maggie says, then disappears around the corner.

Scully smiles at her mother, still insisting she wash up first, just like when she was a child.

Maggie is setting two glasses of iced tea on the kitchen island when Scully walks in. "So how did Fox take the news about Bill coming here?"

Scully dries off her hands. "He took it quite well, actually."

Maggie sits down on one of the tall stools. "I hope your brother is civil to Fox. If Bill could only get past the ill feelings he has for him, I'm sure they could become friends."

Scully sits down opposite her mother and picks up the tuna sandwich that's on her plate. "Mom, I doubt they will ever be buddies." Scully says, before taking a bite of her sandwich.

Maggie looks surprised. "Dana, why would you say that? Doesn't Fox like Bill?"

Scully smiles, "Well, Bill hasn't really given Mulder a reason to like him, but yes, he does seem too."

Maggie takes a drink of her tea. "I always thought Bill and Fox would get along even better than Bill and Charles did."

"That wouldn't take much," Scully laughs, pulling a piece of dill out of her sandwich. "Bill used to terrorize Charlie so."

"Yes," Maggie laughs, "but Charlie always managed to get his big brother back."

"You think he ever figured out who set the bucket of water on the top edge of his bedroom door?" Scully chuckles.

"No, and I'm still trying to figure that out too, what a mess." Maggie scolds.

"Well, don't look at me. I was too short to put that bucket up there." Scully laughs, before popping a potato chip into her mouth.

Maggie finishes a bite of her sandwich. "For some reason, I suspect your father and Charles were working as a team."

The phone rings and Scully gets up to answer it. "Hello."

"Hey Scully, how's it going?"

"Fine. Where are you?"

"I'm on my way out."

"Class all done?"

"They were good little agents, so I let them out early."

"You're getting to be an old softy, Mulder." Scully can hear him laugh. "So did you want something, or did you just call to annoy me?"

"No, not this time. Frohike called just as I was leaving, he wants me to stop by."

"Why, did he get a new blow-up doll?" Suddenly, Scully realizes her mother is sitting there.

"As a matter of fact he did, it has red hair, and big, blue eyes."

"Well, you two have fun."

"We always do." With that Mulder hangs up.

Scully's face is crimson. "That was Mulder." "So I heard." Maggie smiles.

Sometime after 5pm Mulder walks in the back door. Scully is in the kitchen arranging the last of the flowers. Will is playing on the floor with his trucks and cars, while Katherine is sitting in her carrier next to him, watching him play.

"Hey Scully," Mulder says, maneuvering past the little ones on the floor.

"Hello Mulder," Scully replies, pushing back a strand of hair.

Mulder kisses his partner then stoops down to cup his daughter's downy-soft head in his large hand, the baby responds to her father's touch. He moves over beside his son, "What cha doing Will?"

"Paying," Will responds, never looking up.

Mulder unbuckles Katherine and lifts her up, a long string of baby drool lands on his tie, while the baby is laughing and squirming in his arms. "You want out of that old hard carrier, don't you." The baby scrunches up her face and babbles, as Mulder takes off down the hall with her.

"Don't you two go very far, I've ordered pizza," Scully yells behind them.

Mulder carries his daughter up the wide, wrap-around, front staircase and into his and Scully's bedroom. Katherine is laid down on her tummy, in the middle of the bed, while Mulder changes clothes.

Scully enters the bedroom with an arm full of Mulder's dry cleaning. "Mulder, I've told you to put some pillows around her, if you're going to lay her on our bed."

"I'm watching her," Mulder says, jumping up and down, trying to get his leg into his jeans.

"One of these days Mulder, she will crawl right over the edge of the bed," Scully says, sitting on the bed next to her daughter.

Mulder finally manages to get his jeans on. "So are we all set for tomorrow?" He asks, zipping and snapping his jeans.

"I hope so," Scully replies as she strokes her daughters tiny back. "I've bought enough food to feed an army."

"I wouldn't say that around a navy man," Mulder teases. "Wouldn't it be easier to just order out?"

"Mulder, we have a huge grill out back, let's use it, and speaking of ordering out, I need to get downstairs to wait for our delivery."

Scully leaves the bedroom to wait for their dinner while Mulder plays with Katherine. Suddenly Scully screams, "William! What have you done?"

"Ot oh, Katherine, it sounds like your brother is in the deep stuff." The baby babbles and rubs her nose with her fist. Mulder picks her up and tosses her into the air. Judging from her response, she likes it. "Let's go downstairs and see what Will has done."

Mulder finds Scully in the kitchen scrubbing Will with a sponge. The little boy is screaming in peals of laughter. "Hold still William."

Will wiggles around on the counter. "Dat tick-olds!"

Scully looks up at Mulder and places one hand on her hip. "Your son decided he needed a tattoo on his stomach." She moves aside so Mulder can see the black, indelible, drawing on Will's stomach.

He stares at it, then turns his head. "I don't know Scully, it's either an anchor or a naked lady."

Scully frowns at him. "A lot of help you are."

Mulder hoists Katherine up a little higher in his arms. "Will, what did you do that for?"

Will looks down at his decorated tummy and says, "I dwawd it."

"You certainly did." Mulder laughs.

Scully is drying off her hands, when the doorbell chimes. "That's dinner. Will, stay here until I get back," she says, pointing a finger at her son.

"Come on," Mulder says as he lifts William down. The little boy scampers off, while Mulder puts Katherine in her swing.

Scully comes in with several boxes in her arms. "I swear Mulder, it costs more each time we order out."

"Well, Will only likes cheese pizza and we're supreme eaters, plus he wants breadsticks."

Scully sets out plates, and glasses, and a sipper cup on the island then grabs some silverware.

Will is pushing his highchair up to the island. Mulder laughs, "Tattooing must make you work up an appetite." He swings Will up and into the highchair and they all sit down to eat.

Will lifts his sipper cup up, but nothing comes out, so he bangs the cup on the tray. "William! This is not prison, stop that."

Will holds his cup out, "Wanna dink."

Scully realizes she hasn't gotten them anything to drink. She starts to get up, when Mulder places a hand on her arm. "No, let me get it."

"Thanks," Scully mumbles, as she opens a pizza box.

Mulder pours iced tea into two glasses and fills the sipper cup, Will having developed quite a fondness for the beverage.

He sits back down just as Katherine begins to fuss. He takes a bit of dipping sauce on his finger, and feeds it to the baby. She makes an awful face, and he and William laugh at her. She grins back and smacks her lips.

"Mulder, why do you insist on making our children living garbage cans?" Scully scolds.

"I am not!" Mulder defends himself, then adds, "Besides, she likes it!"

It's well past 9PM and Mulder is busy on the computer while Scully has just finished cleaning the fridge. Both kids have been in bed for over an hour, with Katherine not due up again until well past midnight. Scully walks into the office rubbing her tired hands together, having washed them for the umpteenth time today.

"What time is your brother due in tomorrow?" Mulder asks, continuing to stare at the computer screen.

Scully flops down on the old leather sofa and brushes her hair back from her face. "Early," she huffs out.

Mulder turns to look at Scully; she is frazzled and dragging. He shuts down the PC and walks toward her. She looks up, as he plops down next to her on the couch. He grabs her and pulls her into his lap, then begins to shower her with big, sloppy kisses. Scully laughs and tries to push him away, but not very hard. "Mulder, I have work to do!"

Mulder has his head buried in the nape of her neck, "No, you don't. Time for play."

Scully pushes him back; "I still have to change the sheets in the spare room."

Mulder looks into her eyes with a feral grin on his face. "Tell Tara to change her own damn sheets, I have plans for you!"

Scully laughs. "Tell you what, you help me change the sheets and then," she kisses the end of his nose, "I'm all yours."

Mulder lifts Scully off the couch and carries her to the staircase. "Mulder! I can walk."

"Oh no, you're gonna need all the energy you have left." Mulder hefts her up in his arms, much the same way he does Katherine.

Scully tosses her hand out, "Lead the way."

And up the stairs they go.



Saturday ~

A Mercury minivan, bearing a Lariat Rental sticker, pulls into the large circular driveway in front of the Mulder household.

Bill Scully ducks his head under the visor to get a good look at the tall, white brick house, which his sister now occupies. "His old man must have been loaded, for him to be able to afford this place."

"I love it!" Tara exclaims. "Can you imagine Mathew growing up here."

"I can't imagine paying the taxes." Bill huffs, pulling the van to a halt in front of the large front door. He and Tara, along with Mathew, crawl out of the van and make their way up the steps. Tara starts to ring the bell, when Bill stops her. "We're family, just walk on in."

"Bill, we can't just walk in unannounced."

"Sure we can." Bill pushes the door open. "Anybody home?"

Bill is answered by Scully screaming his name, and running into his arms. He scoops her up and twirls her in the air. "Hey, little sister, good to see you." He hugs her and puts her down.

Tara embraces Scully and they exchange hugs. Mathew stands beside his mother; unsure of what is going on; behind Scully stands William, thinking the same thing. Tara pulls Mathew out, "Matty, do you remember your Aunt Dana?" The little boy nods his head.

William grins at his cousin, like this is the first time he has ever seen a child near his age. Scully pulls him out from behind her to face his cousin, "William, this is Mathew, he's your cousin." Will chews on his finger, hiding his grin. The two boys' stare at one another, but it's apparent that they are going to enjoy the week together.

Mulder walks down the wide staircase holding five month old Katherine. Tara spots the baby first, and runs toward Mulder with her arms outstretched. "Oh my! What a cutie you are!"

"Thanks," Mulder replies much to Bill's chagrin.

Tara pokes Mulder's arm, "Oh Fox, I was talking about the baby." She scoops Katherine up into her arms and runs her hand over her soft, baby fine, brown hair. She looks at Scully and laughs, "Dana, this is one beautiful little girl you've got here."

Scully blushes. "Thanks, we like her too."

By now, Will and Mathew have disappeared into the house. Mulder shakes Bill's hand, "Bill, good to see you, you want some help getting the luggage?"

Bill shrugs, "Sure."

Scully leads Tara and Katherine into the living room. Tara looks around at the massive crown molding decorating the high ceilings. "Wow, this is some house! You have got to show me the rest of it."

Just then Mathew runs into the living room with William right behind him. "Mom! Mom!"

"What is it, Matty?" Tara asks, still holding Katherine.

"Will'um has a pool!" The little boy's eyes grow wide. "Can we go swimmin' in it?"

"Mathew, let's get settled in first, then we'll see." Tara looks up just as Bill and Mulder are bringing in the bags.

Scully stands at the bottom of the staircase. "Here, let me show you where your room is. I thought Mathew could sleep in the youth bed in William's room."

Tara still hasn't put the baby down. "Hear that Matty, you get to sleep in Will's room with him."

"Aww wight!" Matty exclaims, while Will looks on, a little confused but excited.

Scully starts upstairs, with Tara and Bill following her, and Mathew and William in front of Mulder. She walks to the end of the hallway and opens a door. Tara follows her in and stops in her tracks. "Dana, this is a beautiful room!" She looks around the large, pale green bedroom, filled with limed-oak furniture.

"You can thank Mulder for the room, he spotted this house."

Bill and Mulder tote the bags into the room and drop them on the floor. Mulder turns to Bill. "You wanna beer?"

"Do I have to look at more furniture to get it?" Bill deadpans.

"Nope, not one stick."

"Oh, you two!" Tara laughs, as the guys head back downstairs.

Matty runs in and pulls on Tara's shirt tail. "Mom, I found Will'ums woom, come see it!" Scully, with Tara still carrying Katherine, follows Matty and William to Will's room.

Tara steps in and looks around. "This is pretty cool, huh Matty."

Scully is a bit embarrassed by how ostentatious the house is. But Mulder loved it, and how could she refuse him when he was sucking on her neck at the time he asked her if he could buy it; Mulder never did play fair.

The boys' busy themselves by emptying the toy box, while Tara and Scully wander through the rest of the upstairs rooms.

"So Mulder, what cha doing these days?" Bill asks, as he takes the offered bottle of Shiner Bock from Mulder's hand.

Mulder leans against the counter, twists the cap off his bottle and takes a long drink. "I teach at the academy."

"So you're out of the Bureau?"

"Not in so many words, but I don't investigate cases anymore, at least not in the field."

"Dana, she stays at home with the kids?"

"She does for now. Her family-leave is up in October, she has to decide what she wants to do."

"She thinking of going back to work?"

"I don't know, I haven't really discussed it with her."

"I suppose if she does, mom will be doing the baby-sitting."

"No, if Dana does go back to work, we'll work it out so that one of us will be at home with the kids."

"You, playing Mr. Mom? I just can't see it."

"I did when Will was six months old. I worked half-days and so did she. I don't mind being at home with my kids."

"I'd go nuts, if I had to be home with Matty all week." Then Bill catches himself, "It's not that I don't love my son, but I've been so use to being out to sea, that I get antsy, and when I get antsy Tara and Matty pay for it."

"What are you going to do, if you're posted to shore duty or have to retire?"

Bill thinks for a moment. "I'm not sure, but it's this always knowing that I have such a short time at home, before I have to leave that gets me. Maybe I don't get close to my family because I have to leave them again." Bill takes a swing of his beer and laughs, "Shit Mulder, we sound like the women."

Mulder swallows another drink. "You might, but I don't."

Bill laughs and tosses his now empty bottle into the trash. "Come on, let's go see what Tara is impressed with now."

The two men find the woman admiring Mulder's office. Tara is still holding Katherine, while William and Mathew are playing upstairs.

Tara walks over to her husband and hits him with her shoulder, "Isn't this a lovely home?"

"Lovely," Bill belches.

Mulder looks down at Scully and smiles.

"So when do we eat?" Bill asks, with Tara glaring at him.

"Anytime we want, Mulder is grilling out," Scully says. "I have to call mom, she wanted to know the minute you arrived." Scully takes off for the kitchen with Tara following her.

"Come on, let's go start the grill," Mulder says, leading him out the French doors to the flagstone patio, but not before Bill grabs two more beers.

Bill looks out over the full acre backyard, with the pool in the middle, and playground equipment tucked into one corner, while a high fence surrounds the entire lot. He takes a swig of his beer and points with the bottle. "So, what did this set ya back, three-quarters of a mill., maybe more?"

Mulder smiles at him. "Something like that."

Bill continues to stare at the backyard. "You know Mulder, you weren't my first choice for Dana, hell, you weren't even my last, but she seems happy, and you seem to treat her right."

"Thanks for the ringing endorsement," Mulder laughs.

Bill turns to face Mulder. "But, if you ever hurt her, I'll kick your ass from here to China."

Mulder looks solemnly at Bill. "I wouldn't expect any less."

Bill smiles and slaps Mulder on the back. "Let's go burn some meat."

Scully hangs up the phone and turns to Tara, "Mom's on her way."

"How is mom doing these days?" Tara asks, bouncing Katherine on her lap.

"She's fine. We see her a lot, but unlike what Bill thinks, she isn't constantly babysitting."

"Bill's just a little jealous of the time mom can spend with you and Fox." Suddenly, Tara holds out a very crimson faced Katherine. "That look can only mean one thing."

Scully laughs, "Upstairs, next to your room, under the dressing table."

Tara takes Katherine to change her diaper. Scully yells, "You might check on the boys."

Maggie arrives and hugs are shared all around. She helps Scully prepare lunch, while Tara watches the kids. Mulder and Bill finally get the burgers done and the meal is served in the backyard.

Katherine sits on the picnic table in her carrier, while Will and Mathew eats at the plastic kiddie table. Mulder and Scully sit together next to the baby, while Tara, Bill and Maggie sit on the other side.

The two boys' finish their lunch and head for the swing set. Will is fascinated by the exploits of his older cousin, and Mathew likes playing the part of big brother to William.

It's past two when lunch is over. Scully takes Katherine into the house to feed and change her, before being put down for a nap, while Maggie and Tara take the leftovers in.

Mulder checks on the boys while Bill wonders around the yard.

"Anyone for coffee?" Maggie asks, stepping out the French doors.

Both men decline. Mulder walks over to Bill who is currently admiring the pool. "Wanna take the boys for a swim?"

"Sure, Bill replies. "Matty, get your suit on, we're going swimming," he yells.

"Aw wight!" Mathew exclaims. Will is equally excited, but he's not sure why.

Mulder grabs up his son and carries him into the house. "Scully, Will and I are going swimming with Bill and Mathew."

Scully is coming down the stairs. "Okay, but watch him close, and put a life jacket on him."

Mulder leans into her, "Don't worry Scully, I won't let anything happen to your little boy."

"You better not," she warns.

Soon all the men in the group are in the pool acting like typical males. Maggie and Scully are sitting nearby watching them show-off. Tara comes out with Katherine sleeping in her carrier. "Do you mind if I bring her out here, Dana. She was fussing."

Scully smiles at the slim excuse Tara is giving her. "No, not at all, you're a good babysitter."

Tara sits down next to the sleeping baby. "I'd just love to have a little girl."

"Well, feel free to spoil mine all you want."

Tara grins at Scully, "Thanks! I will."

Mathew is jumping off the diving board and into his father's arms, while Mulder carries William around on his shoulders, much to the little boy's delight.

Maggie laughs and takes a sip of her coffee. "Do you think any of them are acting their age?"

"Well, Will and Matty are," Tara comments.

Mulder has been looking over at the woman sitting in the lounge chair. "Hey Scully," he yells.

"What?" Scully yells back, as she draws up her knee. Mulder motions for her to come join them in the pool. "Not me! You guys play too rough."

Mulder looks at William and says something to him. Will nods his head and claps his hands. He lifts Will off his shoulders and stands him next to the pool. He walks up the pool steps and heads for the patio, dripping wet and with a feral grin on his face. William is watching intently while bouncing on his feet and clapping. "Come here, Scully," Mulder says, motioning with his finger.

Scully grabs the arms of her chair and plasters herself against the back, shaking her head. "Oh, no, no, no!" She protests while Will screams in a fit of laughter.

Mulder grabs her by the hands pulling her out of the lounge chair. Scully isn't putting up as much resistance as she could be, or as much as Mulder has seen before. He tosses her over his shoulder, straightens his back, and marches off to the swimming pool. Now Mathew is screaming in laughter along with William. Scully is kicking her feet and trying to squirm out of his grasp. He stops at the edge of the pool switching Scully around so he is cradling her. "So, William, what do you think we should do with momma?"

The little boy, with the spiky hair and red eye's, laughs and jumps up and down. "Fro her in da poo, da-dee!"

Scully pleads, "No Will! Tell daddy no." But it's of no use; Mulder tosses her into the pool. William and Mathew scream with delight. Tara and Maggie sit stone still, unsure what will happen next. Scully comes up for air and swims to the end of the pool with William running along side her. She stands up, her shorts and T-shirt sticking to her, as she pushes the wet hair away from her face.

"Momma, gots wet," William howls.

Scully stands in the shallow end of the pool and glares at Mulder with her hands on her hips, but trying not to smile. "See if you get any soon!"

"Da-dee's gettin' any soon!" William parrots.

The adults all roar with laughter. Will isn't sure what he has said, but he laughs too.

Mulder helps Scully out of the pool and pulls her close. He softly speaks to her and picks the wet hair away from her face. He releases her and she walks toward the house. "Mom, can you keep and eye on Katherine? Tara, grab your suit, I've got a score to settle."

Over two hours later, four very tired adults, and two exhausted little boys are dripping all over Scully's kitchen tile.

Scully looks down to see a red-eyed William, shaking like a leaf. She lifts her son up and rubs his concave back. "Come on sweetie, let's get you warm and dressed." She takes him upstairs and into his room, gathering up his clothes as she goes. She heads for his bathroom and sets him on the potty-chair, then dresses him in a pull-up diaper, clean shorts and a T-shirt. "Did you have fun, William?" Scully softly asks.

"Um hum," Will says yawning.

"Did you think it was funny that daddy threw me into the pool?"

"Yeah," Will softly says, with a huge grin.

"All done, but let me comb your hair first." She parts Williams's hair just like his fathers, then she sets him down on his feet and bends down, "Go find an adult, okay Will."

"Okay," he agrees.

"I'll be out as soon as I get dressed." She grabs her sons jaw and kisses him, he returns the kiss and turns to try and open the door, but Scully has to help him.

Will meets Matty coming out of the guestroom. The two cousins walk down the backstairs to the kitchen, where Maggie is bouncing Katherine on her lap. Mathew pats his grandmother on the shoulder, "Gwamma, I'm hungwy."

Maggie turns to face her two grandsons, "You are! Well, lets see what we can do about that." She puts her grand daughter in the swing, then turns to open the refrigerator. "How about a ham sandwich and some potato salad?"

"Yeah!" Mathew yells. "Yeah," William parrots his cousin.

"Can we have sompin' to dwink too?" Mathew asks, crawling up on a stool. Will tries to do the same thing as his cousin, but he can't get on the tall stool. Maggie lifts her youngest grand son up, putting him on a stool next to Matty. Will looks over at his cousin and rests his arms on the counter just like Mathew does.

Maggie opens two juice boxes for the boys when Bill comes in the kitchen. He looks in the refrigerator. "So, what's to eat?"

"Sit down, I was just getting ready to feed the boys."

Bill pulls out a stool next to Mathew. "I'm a boy too. Mathew did you know I'm grandma's son?"

Mathew stares at his father with large eyes. "Awe not!"

Bill laughs, "I am too." He wraps his arms around Maggie. "I was grandma's little boy once."

Mathew looks at his dad. "Yower lying to me!"

Maggie finally speaks up, "No, Matty, it's true. Your daddy is my oldest son, and William's mommy is my little girl."

William isn't sure what's going on, but Mathew seems surprised, so he is too.

Tara and Scully walk into the kitchen chatting. Mathew speaks up, "Mom, mom, daddy's gwamma's little boy, did you know 'bout that?"

The adults all laugh hysterically.

Tara pats Mathew on the back. "Of course I did, Matty."

Maggie sets a pile of sandwiches in the middle of the counter just as Mulder comes in.

Scully comes in the kitchen and grabs a baby bottle of juice from the fridge. "Oh, let me," Tara asks, getting up from her stool. Scully hands the bottle to Tara, and lifts Katherine out of the swing. She sits down next to William, and cuts the crust off his sandwich, as Mulder slides onto the stool next to her. Maggie continues to pile salads, and chips and drinks, onto the counter. Mulder gets up and walks over to her. "Enough Maggie, we can get anything else we need, ourselves."

Maggie looks around. "Oh, alright Fox."

"You go sit down," Mulder softly says.

Bill is watching Mulder interact with his mother and seems pleased by what he sees.

Mulder returns to his stool and rests his arm across the back of Scully's. She turns to smile at him. He grabs her hand, which lies on the table, and gives it a squeeze.

Katherine is finally dozing so Tara takes her to Mulder's office and lays her in the downstairs bassinet. Scully and Maggie finished clearing off the counter.

Bill walks around the corner of the kitchen and into the dining room when his foot nudges something. He looks down, to see William, asleep on the floor. Mulder steps past him and gently lifts his son off the floor. Bill looks puzzled. Mulder just shrugs, "When he gets tired, he lays down and goes to sleep. We never know where we're going to find him." He carries the sleeping child upstairs as Bill stares at them.

Mathew is now sitting on his mother's lap, half asleep himself.

"Where's William?" Tara asks.

"Mulder took him up to bed."

"I think this one is about ready to go upstairs too."

"Let me take him," Bill offers.

Tara relinquishes her son to her husband, gets up, stretches, and wanders out onto the patio where Maggie is sitting. She leans over and squeezes Maggie's shoulder, "That was a great meal, mom."

"Thanks dear," Maggie says, grabbing her arm and squeezing it back.

Scully is out in the yard picking up towels and toys that are strewn about.

"This home is so beautiful," Tara comments to Maggie.

"Yes, it is. Fox, was so set on buying it, but Dana wouldn't budge."

"What changed her mind?"

"They were living in Dana's small apartment with all of Will's things and Katherine was due in a matter of weeks. I think Dana panicked, and said yes."

"Mom, I know Bill loves me, but he never looks at me the way Fox looks at Dana."

"Don't feel bad dear. I've never seen that look either on any other man toward the woman he loves."

"Why do you think that is?"

"I'm sure a lot of it has to do with the dangerous job they shared. Dana once said, if she were to tell me everything they had been through, I would probably lock her in the house and throw away the key."

The door opens and Mulder walks out. He passes Maggie and Tara, and heads straight for Scully, who is now fishing a raft out of the pool. He bends down to grab it for her. Together they finish the job, never having said a word. Mulder takes Scully's hand and leads her to the back of the lot. He's pointing to things that aren't there.

"I'll bet Fox is on another building project," Maggie says, all the while never taking her eyes off the couple.

"Why do you say that?" Tara questions. "This house had a vacant backyard when they bought it, but right away Fox had plans." Maggie turns to Tara. "He fenced in the entire lot, put the pool in, the patio, and the eating area. He said, he wanted a safe, private place, where he and Dana could relax with the kids."

"You think he wants to add-on?"

Maggie looks back at her daughter, who's intently shaking her head no, but listening to the man standing before her none the less. "I'd say so from the stoic look on Dana's face, and the pleading expression on Fox's."

"Who will win?"

Maggie watches them interact. "He will, he always does."

The evening has turned chilly, so the entire clan is tucked away in the big house.

Will and Matty are playing with the toys. Katherine is lying on a blanket on the floor, trying to eat her toes, while Scully and Tara chat next to her. Bill is dozing off in the recliner while Mulder checks the scores on SportsCenter.

Maggie walks in and announces, "Well everybody, I think I'm going home now." She kisses both of her grandsons and wiggles Katherine's tiny toes. Tara and Scully hug her, then she walks over to Bill and kisses his forehead. He jumps but doesn't wake up. "Night son."

Mulder gets off the couch and walks Maggie to the door. She stands on tip toes and kisses his cheek, then smiles and says, "So what are you trying to get Dana to agree to let you put in the backyard, this time?"

Mulder turns red and grins. "A basketball court, but in the winter it can be flooded and the kids can skate on it."

"Good idea," Maggie agrees, "keep working on her."

"Oh, I will." Mulder smiles.

"Night son."

"Night, Maggie." Hard as he tries, Mulder just can't bring himself to call Margaret 'mom' yet, but he's getting closer.

Tara has put Mathew in William's youth bed, while Will is sound a sleep in the crib. Both boys were too exhausted to be of much trouble. Scully fed Katherine and tucked her into her bassinet, in her and Mulder's room.

Bill finally wakes up long enough to crawl upstairs and flop into the guest bed. Tara says her 'good nights', and follows him.

Scully goes around checking the locks, and turning out the lights, messes will just have to wait until morning to get cleaned up. She sees the lights on in the office and finds Mulder sitting in front of the computer. She walks over and runs her hand across his back. "It's late, you coming to bed?"

Mulder leans back in his chair and rubs his red eyes. "Yeah, I'll be there soon." He swivels the chair around and pulls Scully into his lap. He rubs her back while she encircles him with her arms. "I'm sorry about today, Scully."

"What about today," she murmurs.

"You know, tossing you into the pool, like I did."

"Well, Will seemed to enjoy it."

Mulder smiles. "He did, didn't he."

"Why did you do it?" Scully asks, looking into his eyes.

"I don't know," Mulder shrugs. "I guess, I wanted Bill to see us as a normal couple.

"So you tossed me into the pool?"

"Well, yeah, normal guys do that."

Scully kisses his throat. "Mulder, if that's normal, then I prefer you spooky."

"Okay, okay," He softly laughs, "I get the message, loud and clear."

"But Will did enjoy it," Scully sighs, getting off Mulder's lap.

"I'll be up in a few."

"Don't make me wait," Scully says, slipping out the door.

Immediately Mulder starts shutting down the computer, he gets that message too.



Sunday ~

Mulder comes in from his morning run to find the house quiet. He assumes the family has all gone to church. It's not that he doesn't occasionally go with Scully, but this is a tradition she shares with her family.

He grabs the coffeepot and begins to pour a cup when he hears, "Dana, said to tell you, they went to church." It's Bill, dressed in jeans and a light green button down shirt.

"You didn't go?" Mulder glances back at him as he sips his coffee.

"No, I attend every Sunday on the ship. This is my vacation," he smirks, grabbing the coffeepot. "So what's on the agenda for today?"

Mulder is leaning against the counter, his legs crossed at the ankles, his sweaty shirt plastered to him. "I don't know, probably a visit to the zoo." Bill pulls out a stool and sits down at the island. "Why do women do that?"

"Do what?" Mulder questions.

"You know, we all have to caravan around for a week, being entertained. They will organize every minute, of everyday, we're out here."

Mulder smiles over his coffee cup.

Bill takes a drink from his cup and continues, "We all have to eat at a set time, leave at a set time, come back at a set time. Shit, it's like still being onboard ship."

Mulder puts down his cup. "Can you wait until I take a shower?"

"Sure, why?" Bill puzzles.

"Let's cut out and ditch the rest of them." Mulder grins.

"You got it!" Bill laughs. "Just let me put on some shoes, and we're out of here."

Before Bill and Mulder take off, they leave a note on the counter.

Scully walks through the back door. "I don't understand it, Mulder should have answered his cell phone."

Tara walks in behind her, carrying Katherine. "Bill should have at least answered when we called the house."

Maggie comes in with her grandsons trailing along behind her.

Scully finds the note and pauses, then furrows her brow. "Now it all makes sense."

"What?" Maggie asks.

Scully waves the note in the air, "It seems our missing men are together and they have ditched us. Mulder left a note, saying they'll be back gone most of the day, and for us to go do whatever we had planned."

Scully pokes her tongue into the side of her cheek and hits her leg with the note.

"Dana, don't be too hard on Fox, we can take the kids with us." Maggie clutches Scully's arm, "Just be glad, he and Bill, are getting along."

Scully rubs her forehead and sighs, "I guess you're right." She then nods to herself, having made up her mind, "Everyone upstairs, out of our dress clothes, we're all going to the zoo."

The Bar-None sports bar and grill has the usual Sunday baseball crowd, plus two very happy husbands.

"Mulder, I gotta admit, I enjoyed the tour of the bureau." Bill says, downing a drink of his beer. "I still don't understand how Dana has the stomach to cut up stiffs. That autopsy bay was just creepy," he says, taking a bite of his Rueben sandwich.

Mulder puts down his iced tea. "The first time I saw Scully slicin' and dicin', I almost lost my lunch, but after changing diapers, nothing scares me anymore."

Bill laughs, "Don't I know it! I swear, every time Tara got pissed at me she would feed Mathew stewed prunes then leave him with me, while she spent the day shopping."

Mulder laughs, "The first time I had to change a messy one, I had Scully come in and give me her medical opinion, then she shocked the hell out of me by saying there would be more."

"Made ya regret having kids?" Bill laughs.

Mulder turns quiet, "No, never."

Bill clears his throat, "So where to next?" He looks at his watch, "I figure they're just about up to the monkey house by now."

Mulder spreads his arms across the back of the booth and motions for the check. "I've got some friends that you might find interesting."

Tara is pushing Katherine in her stroller while Mathew and William run ahead. Scully has just paid for the train tickets that will take them into the African Safari section of the zoo, and is currently waiting for her mother outside the restrooms.

"Mathew, William, stay here, we have to wait for grandma and Dana," Tara says, adjusting the sunshade over the now sleeping Katherine.

Scully and Maggie catch up with Tara and the kids. "Okay, are we all set now?" Scully asks.

The little group makes its way to the train station and wait in line with the other zoo visitors.

Fox Mulder stands outside what looks like a derelict warehouse. Bill nervously looks around.

Mulder pounds on the steel door once more. "Open up, Frohike."

Without any warning the door swings open and before Bill stands a myopic, little man, in need of a shave. "Mulder!" Frohike yells and looks around both men. "So where is the delightful Scully?"

Mulder grins and points to Bill. "Here he is."

"Stop shittin' me, Mulder," Frohike growls.

Bill steps forward, "I'm the 'delightful Scully's' older brother, Bill."

Frohike swallows hard and blinks. Mulder holds back a laugh.

"Mulder!" Suddenly, Byers appears to save the day, or at least Frohike's skin.

Langley wanders in from the back and Mulder motions to his three friends. "Bill, this is Langley, Byers, and you've already met Frohike. Guys, this is Bill Scully."

Byers thrust out his hand, "Bill, glad to meet you."

Bill frowns, "Geeze, doesn't anyone in DC go by their first name."

They all walk into the main room. Bill wanders around looking over all the computers and equipment that's crammed into the small space. "What is all this stuff?"

The guys all eye Mulder. "It's okay, he won't rat you out."

Soon the guys are explaining and demonstrating their hardware. Bill is overwhelmed at just how deep into 'the system' that these guys can go. They even pull up his personnel file, which reveals he has been reprimanded for mooning a lieutenant.

Scully is carrying a limp, sleep of the dead, William, over her shoulder. He'd fallen asleep beside the penguin tank. Maggie is carrying a wide-awake Katherine, while the much too big Mathew, is asleep in her stroller. Scully brushes back her hair, "I don't know about you two, but I'm about 'zooed' out for the day."

"Me too," Tara sighs, as she pushes the weighted down stroller. "My feet are killing me."

Scully turns to Tara and Maggie, "Let's put these guys to bed, get on our suits, mix up a pitcher of margaritas, and hit the pool."

"Sounds good to me," Maggie sighs.

Scully and Tara both stare at one another. "I can have fun too," Maggie blushes. Tara and Scully both laugh.

Bill puts down his piece of pizza. "You're shittin' me! You guys can decode HBO!"

Frohike shrugs his shoulder, "Piece of cake."

Mulder reaches for the last piece of supreme pizza, as Bill finishes off the pepperoni.

"So where's Dana?" Byers asks.

"Shit!" Mulder exclaims and looks at Bill.

"Shit!" Bill parrots, looking back at Mulder.

Mulder swipes a napkin across his mouth, "We better get going."

Langley laughs, "So you two sneaked out, huh."

Bill swallows hard. "We did leave a note," he says meekly.

Mulder looks at his watch. "Yeah, we did, about nine hours ago."

Frohike pats Bill on the back, "Man, if your wife is anything like Dana, you are in big trouble."

Bill looks stoically at the little man; "Dana was trained by Tara."

Mulder laughs and grabs Bill's shoulder. "We need to get going."

Scully is lying on her stomach on an air mattress in the middle of the pool, wearing her deep blue, one-piece suit. Sunglasses cover her eyes and a drink glass rests in her hand. Maggie is sitting on the pool steps, while Tara is drifting around the pool in the middle of an inner tube. A drink glass is also clutched in each woman's hand.

Tara sleepily lifts her head, "Dana, you think I should go check on the kids?"

"No need, the guys wires the whole house, all I had to do was turn on the outside speaker. If a pin drops, we'll hear it." Scully says, without even bothering to lift her head.

Tara drags her hand through the water and takes another sip of her drink.

Scully hears a vehicle pull up and two doors slam. "That had better be Mulder," she mumbles.

The French doors open and Mulder steps out, followed by Bill. "Hey Scully, we're back."

"'Bout time," Scully growls, never moving.

"And where were you, William Scully?" Tara demands.

"Aw, don't start raggin' on me, Tara. Mulder got to keep his balls." Then Bill spots his mom sitting there and blushes, "Sorry, mom."

Maggie chuckles at her son's embarrassment.

Tara plows ahead, "Balls or not, we got stuck with the kids, all day."

"Tara," Bill teases, "if I had known our son was going to be such a burden to you, I would have taken him with me."

Tara's eyes close to little slits and she flicks water on her husband. "You are so full of shit, Bill Scully!"

Mulder smiles at the interplay going on between these two."

Finally Scully comes to life. She raises up, then props her sunglasses up on her head. "I think those that played hooky today, should go pick up dinner."

"Fair enough," Mulder agrees, knowing he and Bill got off easy. "What would you like?"

"Pizza!" Scully says.

"Ohhh," Mulder and Bill both groan.

Monday ~

Mulder is up and out early. He has class until noon and then he's free.

Scully has been up, since shortly after Mulder left the house. She has picked up the house, started a load of laundry, and made scrambled eggs and sausage for breakfast, which is now sitting in the oven keeping warm.

Bill has just wandered in. "Got any coffee?" He asks, scrubbing his face with his hand.

Scully sets a mug in front of her brother and pours herself one. "Sleep well?"

"Well enough," Bill croaks. "Dana, I've been wanting to talk to you."

Scully eyes her brother. "About what?"

"I've got the chance to take a desk job, back here in New London. I haven't told Tara yet."

"Why not?"

"Because I'm not sure I want to be land locked, so to speak."

Scully sits down next to her brother. "Don't you think she deserves to be in on the decision?"

"Yeah, but remember how hard it was for dad, when he finally retired."

"But Bill, he was much older than you are, and all of us were out of the house by then, and we both remember what happened, he and mom didn't have that much time together."

Bill ponders what his sister has said.

"Bill, you're still young with a young son, wouldn't you enjoy spending more time with him?"

"But, I get so antsy when I'm on leave, and I know I take it out on him and his mother."

Scully rubs her brother's arm. "People can change."

Bill smiles at her. "I know, Tara is yammering to have another kid too. I guess it would be easier if we weren't 1,500 miles apart."

Scully giggles, "That would make it easier."

"I guess if Mulder can settle down, I can."

"It's not easy Bill. We work at our relationship, and at raising our children, all the time. It's not always easy. It used to be, if I got pissed at Mulder when we were on a case, I would take a long, hot bath and when he got mad at me, he would go out for a run. It isn't always possible now, but you know what?"

Bill looks Dana in the eyes. "What?"

"I'm right where I want to be and so is Mulder. After years of pouring ourselves into our work, we finally are pouring that same energy into our children, our home, and our own relationship."

Bill looks down at his coffee cup. "You make it sound so simple."

"Believe me, it's far from simple, but well worth it."

Tara walks in yawning and running her fingers through her blonde hair. "Do I smell sausage?"

Scully and Bill both grin at one another.

The morning is spent playing around the pool and relaxing in doors. Around noon, Maggie arrives with a huge pot of her homemade chili. A salad is fixed, and hot rolls are pulled from the oven, just as Mulder walks in the door.

William runs to his father. "Da-dee!" He screams. Mulder picks up the little boy and kisses his cheek. Scully brushes past him. "Do you want to change before we eat?"

"I should." Mulder says, carrying William upstairs with him.

Tara is washing Matty's hands while Maggie is dishing out the boys' soup to cool.

Bill comes in from using the computer in Mulder's office. "Hey, great! Mom made chili. I haven't had hers in years."

Maggie smiles at her son. "Sit down and I'll dish you up a bowl."

"Do you have any Cheddar cheese?"

"That's right," Maggie laughs, "you always ate a big chunk of Cheddar with your soup."

Mulder comes downstairs, dressed in loose-fitting jeans and an old blue T-shirt, with Will riding on his shoulders.

Scully looks up at her partner and smiles. "I'd be careful, Mulder, he hasn't been changed yet."

Mulder puts Will down on his feet. "He did, he used his potty chair."

Scully rubs Will's sandy-red head. "Way to go, William!"

They all cluster around the big island counter in the kitchen. Tara sets Mathew on a stool, but the little boy sticks out his bottom lip and crosses his arms. "What's the matter now, Matty? She asks her son.

"I wanna sit by Will'um."

"But honey, he has to sit in his high chair."

Mathew continues to pout and Bill is getting annoyed.

"Hold on a second." Mulder says, before stepping out the French doors leading to the patio. Bill looks over at his sister but she just shrugs her shoulder.

Mulder walks back in carrying the plastic Lil' Tyke picnic table over his head. He plops it down in the corner of the room. Scully grabs a dishcloth and wipes it down. Mulder lifts Matty from the stool, "Come on big guy," he says, sitting him on one side of the picnic table, then Will is set down on the other. Now everyone is happy.

"So how was work, Fox?" Tara asks, reaching for the crackers.

"Not bad, teaching is easy, once you get the hang of it."

"Do you miss being an agent?" Tara prods.

"I'm still an agent, I'm just not in the field, much, anymore." Mulder blushes, "Yeah, at times I do, but not enough to go back.

Scully smiles at Mulder and wipes her mouth, "I think those that left us with the kids yesterday should watch them today, so mom and Tara and I can go shopping, right Mulder."

Mulder whines, "Can you at least take Katherine with you, she's a girl too."

"Nope, you've had enough practice, now you can baby-sit." Scully says as she pops an oyster cracker in her mouth.

Tara smiles at Maggie and Maggie smiles at Dana.

Everyone has been well fed and the dishes all put in the dishwasher.

Maggie has left to change her clothes and to wait for Tara and Dana to pick her up.

Scully comes downstairs in a light blue, scoop neck shirt and tan shorts. She pauses before the mirror at the foot of the stairs, fixing her hair, when Mulder walks up behind her. He looks at the beauty reflected in the mirror. "Do you need any money Scully?"

Scully smiles at him, "No, I have money and my credit cards." She turns, and stands on tiptoes kissing him, then wipes off the lipstick she left behind. Mulder wraps his arms low around her back. "You, stay safe, okay."

"I will, and please don't feed Will the junk you and Bill will no doubt eat, and remember Katherine stayed home with you. She 'is' in the house."

Mulder laughs. "I know, I will."

Tara comes down the stairs, dressed similar to her sister-in-law. "All ready?"

"Let's go," Scully says, pulling away from Mulder.

"You two stay out of trouble," Mulder teases.

"We will," both women say before shutting the door.

Mulder looks up the stairs to see Bill standing at the top with a scowl on his face. "So what now?"

Mulder stares up at him. "Bill, do you golf?"

It's well past seven when Tara and Dana return home. Tara trudges into the kitchen, her arms burdened down with packages. Scully comes in carrying just her purse. Mulder wanders in to see what the women are up to. "Hey Scully, didn't you buy anything?"

"Yes, I did, but I need you to unload it for me."

"What did you buy?" Mulder exclaims.

"Go look." She teases.

Mulder can tell something is up, by the gleam in her eyes. He walks out to the garage and opens the rear hatch on Scully's SUV. Before him sets a basketball backboard with a large red bow on it. Scully walks up beside him. He looks down at her with a confused expression on his face. "What's this for? I thought you didn't want a court in the backyard."

Scully rubs his arm. "Well Mulder, it would give you a place to play and maybe someday, Will can use it too."

Mulder squeezes her around the waist. "Thanks Scully, I'll call the contractor tomorrow."

"Whoa, whoa!" Scully laughs, "No so fast, let's wait a few days."

"Okay," Mulder blushes, kissing her head.

They walk into the house and Scully pauses, "You left my packages out there."

"Wow Scully, you bought me more?" Mulder teases.

"No, I got William some jeans, Katherine some sleepers, and a sexy little nightie for myself."

"See," Mulder grins, "you did buy me something else."

Will runs in, ""Momma, momma, I wanna a toy too."

Mathew comes in with a small remote in his hand and a little car trailing behind him.

"You did get him something too, didn't you, Scully?"

"Of course I did, its out in one of my bags."

Soon, both boys are playing in front of the fireplace in the family room. Bill is spread out on the couch; Mulder is sitting in the rocker, watching the baseball game.

Tara comes in from the kitchen. "Matty, are you hungry?"

"No," the little boy shrugs, "we ate at the goff couwse."

Bills eyes snap open. "You ate at the golf course?" Tara questions with a frown on her face.

Scully has now walked into the room. Tara turns toward her. "Dana, did you know the boys ate at the golf course?"

Bill looks at Mulder, his eyes round as saucers. Scully crosses her arms and leans on one leg. "Mulder, did Katherine eat at the golf course too?"

Mulder swallows hard, trying to act casual. "Of course not, she ate here, before. . .we. . .went. . .to the golf course," he trials off.

Scully looks over at Tara and runs her tongue over her top lip.

Bill sits bolt upright on the couch, he's not going down without a fight. "What's the big deal! We played a little golf and fed the kids."

Scully turns her head back to look at Mulder. "You went golfing? Mulder, who took care of Katherine?"

Mulder looks down at his hands. "We did. We strapped her carrier to the golf cart."

"And William and Mathew?" Scully dips her head, trying to catch Mulder's eyes.

"They rode in the cart too." Mulder looks up at Scully then over at Bill. For some reason Bill is laughing. Mulder can't help it, even if he has to sleep alone for the next month, he laughs too.

Tara doesn't think it's as funny as Bill does, but she's not really mad. She bends over to talk to Matty. "Did you have fun today, Mathew?"

"Yeah! The little boy says, getting up to stand in front of his mother. "We wode on the cawt."

"You did!"

William gets up and stands next to his cousin, "We ate hot dawgs and woot beew!" Matty exclaims.

"Yeah," William chimes in.

"And we picked up goff bawls."

"And what did Katherine do?" Tara asks, knowing she is now getting the truth.

"She was a sweep. We wach'ed her."

Bill groans. "Oh for heaven's sake, we all watched her, she was fine."

"Da bee-bee wiked to goff," William offers.

Scully scoops William up in her arms, "And I know one little golfer who needs a bath." Scully turns to Mathew. "Matty, I'm going to bath Will in my big, bubbly, bathtub. You want to bath too?"

"Suwe!" The older boy exclaims, following Scully and William upstairs.

Tara looks over at Bill with squinted eyes. "You got lucky this time, mister."

Bill stands up and grabs her around the waist and rubs her back. "I got lucky the day you married me."

Tara pulls away, "And don't you forget it!" She walks upstairs to check on the kids.

Bill looks over at Mulder. "What a great vacation, twice I got my nuts caught in the grinder and twice Tara didn't turn the handle." Mulder laughs.

Scully has bathed Will, washed his hair, and dressed him in a pair of lightweight cotton pajamas. He is sitting on her lap getting his hair combed. His bright, blue eyes snap at every utterance his mother makes. He's so much like Mulder, it's spooky, but no one can deny the closeness William shares with his mother.

Mathew struts into Scully's bedroom, wearing his San Diego Padres pajama set. His hair sticks up in sandy-colored spikes, and when he grins, he reminds Scully so much of Bill. "Alright young man, so this is where you got to!" Tara chastises her son. "You were supposed to be in bed."

"I'm waitin' for Will'um."

Scully pats Will's back and slides him off her lap. He turns to look at her, with his hands twisted together up near his face, he softly says, "I wanna sweep wif him."

Mathew understands Will first. "Yeah! Aunt Dana, can Will'um sweep wiff me?"

Scully looks a little stressed. "Oh, I'm not sure that's such a good idea, Mathew. He might fall out of bed."

"I can sweep in front." Mathew argues.

Scully smiles at Tara, "He would make a great lawyer."

Tara holds up a finger. "Give me a minute," she says, leaving the room.

"Please, Aunt Dana, let him sweep wiff me."

Scully is torn. She sees Will standing there, wanting so badly to be a big boy like his cousin, and yet he's still her little boy, who might get hurt.

Tara yells from the boys room, "All set, you can come in now."

Mathew and William run into the room with Scully following them. Mathew stops and gasps, "Aw right mom!"

Tara has taken the top mattress off the bed and placed it on the floor. Both boys are jumping up and down on it. William falls flat on his butt and gently rolls off onto the floor, no worse for wear.

Scully is leaning up against the doorframe with her arms crossed, smiling and laughing at the boys' antics. "I'd say that works just fine."

Tara claps her hands, "Now settle down guys. It's time to go to sleep." Mathew falls down and William follows him. They lay in bed, side by side, breathing hard. Tara covers them both with a blanket.

Suddenly a soft crying can be heard. Scully looks over her shoulder, "I think I hear a hungry little girl." She goes to check on Katherine.

Tara tucks both boys in and kisses each one, then turns on the nightlight and shuts off the overhead light. "Good night boys," she says just before she pulls the door nearly shut, then walks into the guestroom to get ready for bed.

Mulder comes into the bedroom just as Scully is finishing up feeding Katherine. She lays the baby on a blanket in the middle of the bed. Mulder crawls up along side her, they both sit quietly, looking at their little, brown headed girl. He catches one tiny flailing hand in his. "She really is beautiful, isn't she."

Scully is propped up on one arm; she looks up at Mulder with a smile. "Yes, she is."

Mulder runs his large hand over his daughter's small head. "We really did take good care of her today," he softly says, not looking at her mother.

"I know you did. You would never do anything that might put her in harms way."

"No, never," Mulder solemnly looks up at Scully. "I would die for my children," he pauses, "or for you."

Scully runs her hand over his cheek then draws his close and kisses him. "I know, I have no doubt."

She pulls away and slips off the bed to pick up Katherine, but Mulder stops her. "Here, let me."

"Okay, I'm going to check on Will," she whispers.

Mulder gathers his daughter up in the blanket, and sits down in the rocker. They are holding a very private conversation between father and daughter. He showers her with his thoughts of how their lives together will be, while Katherine coos and pours all her attention onto her father.

Scully finds Mathew lying on his stomach fast asleep, and William is, as usual, curled up in a little ball next to him. She brushes back his now dry hair and kisses her son and nephew goodnight.

Bill is coming up the stairs just as Scully is closing the boys' door. "Kids asleep?" he asks.

Scully opens the door for him to see. Bill chuckles, "Well, I'll be damned."

"They wanted to sleep together, Tara figured that out." Scully says looking in at the boys. "I'm glad they're close. Mathew is so good to William."

Bill's chest puffs out as a smile crosses his face. "He's the man of the house when I'm gone."

Scully looks up at Bill wistfully, "But he's still just a little boy."

Bill gets the meaning hidden behind her words. Scully grabs him around the waist and looks up at him. "Have you had fun here?"

"Yeah, I have," Bill answers a bit surprised, "and Mulder is okay too."

Scully lays her head on his chest, "I'm so glad you feel that way." She gives her brother one last hug and walks across the hall and into her own room.

Tuesday ~

Morning dawns with Mulder at work, and Tara and Dana doing their combined laundry. Bill is getting ready to go visit some old navy buddies and won't be back until late. The boys have been fed breakfast and are playing on the swing set.

Scully is opening the washer to add the bleach, when Tara comes in with a huge basket of laundry. "This is the last of the dirty clothes."

Scully looks over her shoulder. "Oh, Tara, you didn't need to empty all the hampers. I could have done that."

"Nonsense," Tara replies, "you're busy, and it didn't kill me."

The dryer 'dings' and Scully opens the door, pulling out piece after piece of baby clothes. Tara begins to fold the tiny shirts. She sighs, "I do wish Bill would agree to have another baby."

Scully is surprised, "He doesn't want too?"

"He says, he thinks we should wait until his future is a bit clearer." She continues to fold the sleepers and little socks. "I'm not sure what he's even talking about, I thought the future was twelve more years in the service."

Scully decides its time to change the subject. "Why don't you go get Katherine and I'll get us a glass of something cold."

"That sounds really good," Tara says, moving around Scully to go get the baby.

Scully checks on the boys, before she gets their drinks. Tara comes back carrying a very happy baby. Scully lovingly looks at her daughter and strokes her head. "This poor child can't wait until she is able to crawl."

Tara holds the baby on her lap while Katherine waves her arms. "It looks like she is trying to fly," Tara laughs. "Dana, why don't you call her Kathy or Kat?"

Scully winces, "I wouldn't mind calling her Kate but I prefer Katherine, although William always calls her 'da bee-bee'. I just hope that doesn't stick."

As if on queue, William and Mathew burst through the back door. Mathew speaks up; "I'm thiwsty."

Will pipes up, "Me too!"

"So you are!" Tara laughs at the grimy little pair standing before her.

Scully opens the refrigerator door and steps back. "What will it be?"

William spots a small red can, his eyes widen and he grows excited, "'Mato juice!" He says.

Mathew crinkles up his nose, "What's that?"

Scully pulls out the small can, shakes it, and pops the top handing it to William. "Tomato juice, Matty. Will loves it. Do you want to try some?"

"No!" Mathew shakes his head and wrinkles up his nose.

Will walks over to Tara, drinking his tomato juice. He tucks the can into the crook of his arm and pats Katherine's head while giving her a kiss. Tara laughs, "That was very nice of you William."

"I wanna juice box," Mathew says.

"What do you say Matty?" Tara scolds.

Pleeease!' Mathew says.

Scully pulls out a box of juice and sticks the tiny straw in it then hands it to Mathew.

"Thank you," Mathew softly says.

It's nearly noon, when the laundry is all done and put away, and Mulder is due home any minute. Scully and Tara are busy scrubbing the boys clean while Katherine watches from her blanket on the floor. She finds the soap bubbles that escape from the tub particularly fascinating.

A soft knock is heard on the bathroom door. "Anybody home," Mulder asks, peaking around the door.

"Oh hi," Scully says a bit surprised, "is it that late already?"

Mulder smiles at her, "'Fraid so."

"Sorry," Scully says getting up from crouching on the floor. "Lunch will be a little late."

Mulder rubs her back. "Why don't we all go out for lunch?"

Scully looks at Tara and the three kids. "Bill isn't here, he went to see some friends, you sure you want to deal with three kids?"

Mathew speaks up with a big grin on his face; "I'll be good!"

"Me too!" William chimes in.

"See," Mulder says, "two out of three say they'll be good." He picks Katherine up and holds her over his head. "And this one isn't talking." The baby squeals with laughter.

"Sounds good to me." Tara says, crawling off the floor. "Let's get the boys dressed.

Mulder is still in his suit while Scully and Tara are clad in simple cotton tops and trousers. Mathew has a pair of bibs on and William is dressed in a light blue shirt and matching shorts. Katherine is dressed in a light green, one-piece sun suit.

Will and Mathew are buckled in the back seat, while Tara and Katherine occupy the middle, and Mulder and Scully sit in front of the SUV.

"So where too?" Scully asks. "McDonalds, Burger King?"

"No," Mulder laughs, "not kid food. How does Marco's sound?"

Scully closes her eyes, "Sounds heavenly."

They pull into the parking lot of the neat little Italian restaurant and begin to unbuckle the kids. They all wait patiently in the foyer for their name to be called.

Katherine is seated in a high chair, for the first time, while William sits on a booster seat. To Scully, it's another sign that her children are growing up. Matty sits between William and his mother, while Mulder and Scully sit on either side of their daughter.

"So, what's good here?" Tara asks, scanning the menu.

"Mulder likes the Sicilian beef and I usually get the Seafood Fettuccini. William likes the hot dog on a plate with a side of kids' spaghetti."

Mathew speaks up; "I want that too!"

Tara smiles, "Then I guess it's up to me."

All the orders are placed, with Tara finally deciding on the Sicilian Beef. Coffee is served to the adults, while the kids just have water. Scully is digging a bottle of water out of her bag for Katherine, when her cell phone chirps. "Hello, oh hi mom."

"Bill went to see some friends from the navy, and Mulder took the rest of us out for lunch."

"I don't know, I'll put her on." Scully hands her phone to Tara; "Mom wants to talk to you."

Tara looks surprised but takes the phone, "Hi mom."

"Sure, I'd like to do that."

"Right after lunch. Oh wait, Bill has the van, let me ask Fox."

Tara pulls the phone away from her ear, and looks over at Mulder. "Fox, can you drop Matty and me off at mom's, after lunch?"

"Not a problem," Mulder says.

Tara returns to the phone, "Mom, he says he'll drop us off. Great, I'll see you then." She shuts off the phone and hands it back to Scully. "Mom, wants Mathew and I to spend the afternoon with her, you don't mind do you Dana?"

The food is beginning to arrive. "Of course not," Scully says, sitting Will's plate down in front of him.

Tara laughs, "I'm sure you need a break from us being under your roof."

Scully cuts up William's hot dog. "I like having adult company for a change."

"I'm adult company," Mulder pouts.

Scully pats his hand, "You're close, Mulder."

Tara and Scully both laugh at the look on Mulder's face.

The meal is eaten and as usual, Mulder has stuffed Katherine with anything that he can get past Scully.

The SUV is loaded once again and the group heads for Maggie's place while Scully calls her mom to tell her they're on their way. Maggie meets them out front, just as Mulder pulls up in front of her building. He turns off the vehicle, and runs around the front, to help Tara get Mathew out of the car seat. "Here we go big guy," he says, lifting Mathew out. William begins to struggle in his car seat.

Maggie pats Mathew on the shoulder and hugs Tara. "All set?" She asks. Suddenly a wailing can be heard coming from inside the SUV. It's William.

Scully turns around to see huge tears streaming down her son's face while his fingers are in his mouth. "What's wrong, William?" Scully asks, with concern in her voice.

Mulder looks in at his son. "You wanna go too, don't you."

William gulps back the tears, wipes his arm across his face and pitifully answers, "Yes."

"Can he come too, gwamma?" Matty asks, tugging at his grand mother's arm.

"Well, of course William can come too!" Maggie steps up to the open door and unbuckles her grandson. "We wouldn't leave you!" She says, lifting the little boy into her arms. Mulder pulls out his handkerchief and cleans up his son's face.

Scully exits the SUV and kisses William. "You be good for grandma okay?"

Will nods his head and quietly answers, "I will."

"You sure you want both of them here?" Scully questions.

"Don't worry so much Dana, we'll do fine." Maggie says, before turning toward her building.

Mulder shuts the side door of the SUV and returns to the drivers seat. "Poor Will," Scully sighs, "he's so glad to have another little boy to play with."

"I've noticed that," Mulder says, pulling into the traffic. He also notices the troubled look on Scully's face. He adjusts the mirror so he can see Katherine. "She looks happy," he says nodding at the mirror.

Scully looks back to see her daughter playing with her toes. "Hey! Where did her shoe go?" Scully turns around, trying to see if the shoe is on the floor. She sighs and closes her eyes, "I hope she didn't lose it at the restaurant." Mulder pulls up to a red light and puts the SUV in park. He unbuckles his seatbelt and turns around, scrounging around on the floor he comes up with a little white shoe and a tiny pink sock. "Thanks," Scully says in relief.

Mulder put the SUV in gear and continues. "Scully, you know we could put William in daycare for half a day. He could make some friends there."

Scully shakes her head, "No, I don't want him in daycare."

"Scully if it's because you're doing a better job teaching and caring for him, then I agree, but if you're worried he won't be safe, then I think we have a problem."

Scully's eyes flash at her partner. "Mulder, how can you say that, after all we've been through!"

"Scully, we have never had any threats made against us or the kids. We don't matter anymore. The kids aren't what they thought they would be. They're normal, beautiful, children."

"I know," Scully sighs, looking at her daughter. "It's just so hard not to be looking over my shoulder all the time."

Mulder senses her angst and grabs her hand. "Maybe we can find some kids in the neighborhood to invite over."

Scully brightens up, "You know, I could invite some of the little kids from the church over to swim and play on the swing set."

Mulder laughs, "See, I knew you would find the answer, you always do."

Scully blushes, "Well, you did help."

Mulder squeezes her hand; "We still make a great team."

"Yeah we do," she squeezes back.

Suddenly, jabbering, and babbling, coming from the backseat breaks the mood. Mulder laughs, "She really does have lousy timing."

Scully smiles, "Just like her brother."

Mulder pulls into the driveway and shuts off the engine. He turns to Scully, "What are you going to do this afternoon?"

"Enjoy the quiet," Scully smirks.

"Lucky your mom called."

Scully gets out of the SUV, "Luck had nothing to do with it, she knew I needed a break."

"Way to go, Maggie!" Mulder says, pumping his fist in the air.

Scully pulls Katherine's carrier out of the backseat. "Here, let me," Mulder says, grabbing it.

Scully puts her arm around his waist, "I could almost guarantee, that she knew William would react like he did, when he was being separated from Mathew."

Mulder looks down at her. "I knew your mother was intelligent, but devious too! My admiration for her only grows."

"Oh you!" Scully responds, as she unlocks the door.

Mulder follows her inside. "Where do you want her put?"

"Let me take her. She needs cleaning up and her clothes changed."

"Kitchen sink, or upstairs?" Mulder grins.

"No, I'm taking her upstairs for a sponge bath." Scully picks up the baby and starts upstairs. Mulder heads for his office to check his Email.

Katherine has been cleaned up, powdered, and dressed in a diaper and undershirt. She is slowly being rocked, while Scully feeds her.

Mulder walks in and stops to stare at the two most important females in his life. "I'm gonna shower and change," he says as he walks to the dresser, pulling out a pair of well-worn jeans and a T-shirt.

Scully grabs his arm and says, "Don't be too long, she's almost asleep."

Mulder is surprised by the innuendo in Scully's statement. He doesn't want to ask her to clarify herself, so he leaves his clothes on the bed, just in case he isn't going to need them.

Bill Scully walks into the kitchen and sticks his head in the fridge, pulling out a beer. He twists off the cap and takes a big swig, and walks around downstairs looking for a sign of life, but he can't find any. He walks out onto the patio, but no one is there either. He heads upstairs with his beer in hand. He checks the guestroom, but can't find anyone there. He checks the boys' room, but finds it empty. He shrugs his shoulder and starts back downstairs, when suddenly he hears a giggle coming from Dana and Fox's room. He walks over, pressing his ear to the door again he hears laughter. He knocks on the door, "Dana, you in there?"

"Shit!" Scully says, pulling the sheet up her nude body. "Bill's home."

"So what!" Mulder exclaims, nibbling on Scully's neck.

"Mulder, that's my brother on the other side of the door!" Scully huffs, blowing the hair out of her eyes.

"Dana, you there?" Bill knocks again.

Scully pushes the mass of hair off her face. "I'll be out in a minute," she yells.

"No she won't!" Mulder yells.

Scully turns and swats him on the arm, "Mulder, stop that!" He laughs at her near panic.

"Take your time," Bill answers, heading back downstairs.

Scully is pissed, and she can't get untangled from the sheets. "Mulder, now Bill knows what we were doing!"

Mulder pins her to the bed. "Scully we're married, we have two children, of course he knows what we were doing."

Scully sighs, and smiles up at him. "Sometimes I wonder about you Mulder, but not enough to ever leave you."

Mulder smiles back and kisses the end of her nose. "Mulder?"

"Yes," he replies kissing her neck.

"Get off me, before I ensure William and Katherine will never have any more siblings."

Mulder chuckles as he works his way down her shoulder, "You wouldn't do that to a guy would you?"

Scully tries not to laugh, "Don't try my patience, Mulder."

"Okay, okay," he concedes, getting up to head for the bathroom, while Scully is still struggling to get out of the bed. She untangles herself and follows him in. He ambushes her, but she slaps him on the arm again. They clean up and get out of there in record time, no thanks to Mulder.

By now Katherine is wide-awake. Scully lifts her from the bassinet and carries the baby into her future room to be changed.

Mulder is coming out of their room, just as Scully leaves Katherine's. "Mulder, I think it's time we bring her crib into our room and get her out of the bassinet."

"Why don't we just put her in the crib in her own room?"

Scully tilts her head and draws in one shoulder. "Okay, okay, I get the message. I'll move the crib in before bed time."

"Thanks!" Scully says as they head downstairs.

Bill is in the family room, slumped on the couch, watching the five o'clock news. "So what took so long?"

"We were having sex." Mulder announces.

Scully hits him in the gut with the back of her hand, "Mulder!"

Mulder gasps and says, "I was wrong, I guess we weren't having sex."

Bill smiles a wicked smile, first at Scully, then at Mulder. "I know Tara and I always groan and giggle when we're not having sex too."

Scully rolls her eyes and heads for the kitchen muttering, "Men."

"So where are the rest of them?" Bill asks.

"They're over at your moms house."

Bill laughs and drains his bottle. "She must have known Dana needed some time to relax," then he narrows his eyes at Mulder, "Lotta good that did her."

Mulder would love to comment back, but he doesn't fancy being hit by Scully again.

Wednesday ~

The extended family has now settled into a routine. Mulder goes to work, Bill drags out of bed, and Tara and Scully fix breakfast.

Mathew and William are running through the house. They have become so close in such a short time; they're inseparable. "Come on, Will'um, yow too slow!" Mathew laughs.

"Hew I come!" William yells.

Tara catches Mathew by the shirt collar, "Hey, I told you, no running in the house!"

Scully is in the kitchen when she hears William screaming. She drops what she is doing to go find him. He is lying at the bottom of the backstairs holding his head. By now Tara has heard the screams and she too comes running. Scully rolls him over before picking him up. By now he's wailing and asking for her. She tries to calm him while she gently checks his head and eyes. The skin over his right eye is broken but not bleeding and he has a rather large bump. Once she is sure he isn't concussed, or suffering from a neck or back injury, she picks him up.

Tara looks at William, white as a ghost. "Gosh Dana, is he going to be all right?"

Scully is cradling him to her chest and shushing his crying. "Yeah, he'll be fine, it looks worse than it is."

"Dammit! I told Matty, no running in the house!" Now Tara is mad.

"No, no," Scully says, "it isn't his fault. Tara, please don't take it out on Mathew."

Mathew is standing there with big tears rolling down his cheeks.

Scully sits down on the step, trying to quiet her son. "Tara, I'm so glad Mathew plays with William. He needed the companionship." Tara smiles, "Thanks, Mathew loves to play with him too. We don't have many younger boys on the base. She looks sympathetically at William, I am sorry he got hurt."

"It's just a bump." Scully pulls William away from her to look at his face. "And maybe a little shiner." Then she nods toward Mathew, "I think someone else could use a hug."

Tara looks over at her son. "Come here, Matty," she says opening her arms. He runs to her and begins to bawl. "I didn't mean to huwt Will'um." Tara hugs him and sits down on the floor holding him. "You didn't hurt him, Mathew." She strokes the hair away from his eyes. "The mean old floor did," she hits the floor with her hand, "bad floor, bad, bad." Both boys think this is funny.

Scully carries William upstairs, to clean him up and fill him with baby Tylenol. Tara follows her, carrying Mathew. Both little boys need time to calm down.

Bill comes in from walking around the backyard. He hears noises upstairs, so he heads for the family room. Katherine is sitting up in her playpen, holding on to the mesh that surrounds it. Bill sits in the chair across from her. She eyes her uncle and babbles at him. He looks across the room at her, "Hi, how ya doing?" He asks. Katherine answers him with more babble. "Yeah, tell me about it." She furrows her brow and jabbers on.

Bill can't stand it any longer; he gets up from the chair and walks over to the playpen and picks up his niece. She stiffens her back and stares at him with wide-eyes then promptly hits him in the face. "Hey, watch it, or I'll put you back in your cage."

Suddenly, the baby is wracked with hiccups. "Oh, don't you just hate that," Bill says to her as he sits down in the rocking chair. "I don't think we have been formally introduced, I'm your Uncle Bill and you are. . ." he pauses, "the spitting image of your father." Katherine hiccups once more. "You know, my wife thinks you're the greatest thing since sliced bread. Now she's gonna start whining for one just like you." He holds the baby close to his chest. "I don't know, I guess you're not so bad." The baby points to his nose and jabbers on, then smiles a big toothless grin at him. Bill returns the smile.

Tara comes in the family room to find Bill rocking the little girl. She smiles at her husband and leans in to whisper, "Wouldn't it be nice to have a little one like her around the house." She kisses Bill's cheek and leaves the room. Bill looks down at the baby who is busily chewing on her fingers. "See, what did I tell you." He squeezes her tight to his chest and smiles down at her. "You're a bad influence." Katherine stares back at her uncle and promptly hiccups.

Scully comes downstairs carrying William, a tiny bandage covering the wound.

Bill looks up, "What happened to him?"

Scully brushes the hair away from her son's eyes, "He fell when he was running and hit his head on the bottom of the staircase."

Will lays his head on Scully's chest, sucking on his thumb, with an occasional whimper bubbling up out of him.

Bill looks at the dark ring that is beginning to circle Will's eye, while the little boy gives his uncle a watery-eyed smile.

The phone rings and Tara comes in carrying the cordless. "Dana, it's the bureau."

Scully shifts William around in her arms and takes the phone, "Hello."

"Today?" She sighs. "I'll be right there." She hands the phone to her sister-in-law and looks down at William, then up at Tara. "The case I'm assisting on, they need me to put in an appearance. Can you watch the kids for a few hours?"

"Sure, Tara replies, lifting William from Scully's arms. We'll be just fine, don't worry about it."

Scully pauses, "I guess I had better change clothes and get going."

"Come on William, lets you and I go find Mathew, then we'll all go outside to play." Tara rubs soothing circles on William's back as she heads upstairs.

Scully watches them leave then pauses, "Shit, I need to call Mulder."

Bill steps up, "Anything I can do?"

Scully looks around, "Katherine. Where is she?"

Bill walks into the family room and scoops up his niece and carries her to Scully. "I'll watch her," he smiles down at Katherine, "we've become good friends."

Scully rubs the back of her daughter's tiny hand, kisses it, and starts up the stairs. She changes clothes and dials her partner while applying her make-up. "Mulder, it's me."

"What's up?"

"I've been called into the bureau."


"They want me to look over the latest victim, and before the wheels start turning in your head, they have already caught the guy."

Mulder grins at the implication. "So why do they need you then?"

"He's telling several different stories, and I need to find out if he killed her where she was found, or somewhere off site."

Scully sighs and rubs her forehead. "Look, I'll be home when I can, oh, and Will fell down and hit his head." She finishes applying her lipstick and begins to look for her pumps.

"Is he going to be okay?" Mulder asks, with concern in his voice.

"Yeah, but he is going to have a black eye." Scully stands up and brushes off her trousers.

"I'll come straight home from here. Try not to worry."

"Bill and Tara, are going to watch them for me, but I'm sure Will would feel better if one of us were with him."

"I'll be there soon. Call me when you get the chance."

"I will." Scully says, closing up her cell. She takes one last look in the mirror, slips downstairs and out of the house.

12:30 PM

Mulder makes it home in record time. He walks in the kitchen door to be met by the smell of cooking. Tara is pulling fish sticks out of the oven, the table is set, and milk has been poured. She turns around to see Mulder standing behind her. "Oh Fox! I didn't hear you coming in. I hope Will likes fish sticks."

Mulder smiles, "Next to hot dogs, they're his favorite." Mulder's mood now changes, "How is he doing?"

Tara fans her hand in the air. "He's fine. He does have a bump on his head, but it hasn't slowed him down any," she smiles.

Mulder lets out a long breath.

She dumps the fish sticks onto a paper towel to cool. "Fox, can I give you a little advice?"

"Sure." Mulder nods.

Tara sits down across from him. "Don't sweat the small things that happen to kids, or it will drive you crazy."

Bill starts to walk in the kitchen, but hesitates when he hears Tara. "I know what I'm talking about, with Bill out to seas so much, I've had to learn not to panic every time Mathew gets hurt."

Mulder nods. "It must be hard raising him by yourself."

"Oh, I'm not totally alone, Bill does get shore leave from time to time." She twists a paper towel into tiny knots. "The worst part is knowing what Bill's missed, Matty's first steps, his first words, prayers at night." She grows quiet. "Things he can't recover."

The backdoor flies open and in run two giggly little boys. Bill turns around and heads back upstairs.

Mulder lifts up his son. "Hey buddy, what happened?"

Will pats his forehead. "I huwt my head."

"I can see that." Mulder tells him, examining his head. "Mom, said you were very brave."

"He cwied." Mathew offers. Tara shushes her son.

Will's mouth turns down, "It huwt, da-dee."

"I know Will, but it will get better, and you do have a pretty cool bandage on it."

Mathew hasn't missed a thing. "He gots a bwack eye too!"

Mulder looks closer. "He sure does, Mathew."

Mulder sits Will a little farther up in his lap. "William, Aunt Tara fixed you some fish sticks."

Will's mouth opens to a perfect 'O'.

Tara and Mulder chuckle. Think you feel like eating?" Mulder asks his son.

"Yup," William grins.

Everyone is fed, Mulder has changed clothes, and the kids are all out in the backyard. Mulder is swinging Katherine in the infant swing on the swing set; Mathew and William are in the pool with Bill. It's after three when Mulder's cell finally rings.


"Mulder, its me."

"How's it going, Scully?"

"Slow." Mulder can hear the frustration in her voice.

"Need my help?"

Scully smiles, "Not unless you want to crack a cranium."

Mulder winces. "No thanks, I'll leave that to the professional."

"How are the kids?"

"Will and Mathew are swimming with Bill, while I'm . . ." Mulder stops to peer around the swing, "pushing a soundly sleeping baby in the swing."

Scully looks at her watch, "Well, it is past her nap time."

"Scully, don't worry, do your job and get home when you can, we'll be waiting."

"Thanks, I will. I had better go."

"I'll save you some dinner."

"Thanks," Mulder can tell she is smiling now. "See ya soon." Scully hangs up, feeling much better.


Scully pulls into the garage. Her feet hurt, her shoulders ache and she's starving. Mulder is holding the kitchen door open for her. She drags in. "You look beat."

Scully plops down on a kitchen stool. "I feel like it too." Mulder rubs her shoulders. "Um, that feels good."

"All done?" Mulder questions.

Scully shakes her head. "It was a waste of time. He confessed an hour ago."

"Ow." Mulder sympathizes with her.

"But my findings do confirm that his last statement was true. Skinner is pleased."

"I'll bet his is." Mulder kisses the crown of her head.

Scully looks up at him and he kisses her lips. "Is that barbecued chicken I smell?"

Mulder chuckles. "Here, I thought that big smile was caused by me, but it's only the damn chicken."

Scully kisses him once more. "Mulder I love you, but right now, I would fight you for that chicken."

Tara walks in the kitchen. "Dana, I didn't hear you come in. I have a plate of food for you in the oven."

"Oh, that sounds great."

Mulder pats her on the back and sits down next to her. "So how were the kids?" Scully asks.

Tara pulls a hot plate of chicken, Irish potatoes, and warm rolls out of the oven. "They were great. Everyone ate their dinner."

"Let me guess," Scully says looking at Mulder, "Katherine likes barbecue sauce too."

Mulder blushes and shrugs.

Tara sets the plate in front of her sister-in-law. She gets out silverware, a salad and a glass of wine. "Fox said, you would need this."

Scully smiles, "If he says so, then I must." She takes a drink then a bite of her chicken. "Tara, this is wonderful. Where did you learn to cook like this?"

"I love to cook, but with just Matty and me, it doesn't make sense to make a whole meal."

Everyone looks up to see Bill coming in. "Well, she's down for the count. Dana, I didn't hear you come in."

Scully takes another sip of her wine. "You put Katherine to bed?"

Bill frowns, and steals a small piece of her chicken from her plate then looks at everyone staring at him. "What? I'm not a total caveman, I have my sensitive side too, you know."

Scully laughs, nearly choking on her dinner. Bill sits down across from her. "Dana, you have a very charming daughter. Makes me want one of my own."

Tara drops the pan she is scrubbing and turns around. "Bill, do you really mean that!"

Bill turns around on the stool. "Let's talk about it later, but yeah, I think I do."

Tara hugs her husband. "I'd like that too."

Mulder looks over at Scully to see she has the same grin on her face as he has on his.

Tara walks upstairs to see Scully going into Will's bedroom. She softly opens the door and bends down next to her son, brushing back his hair and examining, the now black and blue eye. Tara stands in the doorway. "He did just fine, Dana."

Scully looks back at her. "I know, you did a great job." Scully gets up and hugs her sister-in-law, "Thanks."

"You're welcome." Tara hugs her back.

Scully comes out of the bathroom to find Mulder already in bed. He pulls back the blankets for her. She crawls in and snuggles up to his bare chest. "Umm," she sighs.

Mulder rubs her arm and reaches over to turn out the lights. He kisses her head then kisses her lips. "So you don't have to go in tomorrow?"

"No," Scully yawns and softly says, "Skinner said, I could fax in my report some time tomorrow."

"Can you get it done with all the madness going on around you?" Mulder asks, stroking her arm.

"I'll just have to." Scully is getting sleepier by the moment. "Maybe mom will take Tara and the kids out for a couple of hours."

"I'll be home around noon, I can take everyone out, if you want the free time?"

"I love you Mulder, but I would not force this bunch off on you. I'll figure out a way to get it done."

Mulder takes her hand, playing with her fingers, "Scully I know I don't tell you this often enough, but I am proud of you. You are so good with the kids, William can count and he's starting to read, while Katherine is a happy, well-fed baby. I always knew you could handle anything, but you really excel at motherhood and that's a far more important, and hard job, than anything you ever did at the bureau." Mulder can hear her softly snoring. He grins and kisses her once more then snuggles in next to her.

Thursday ~

The day dawns with Mulder off to work and Tara getting breakfast. Bill is sitting at the counter, holding Katherine while Mathew and Will are seated next to him eating cereal.

A black and blue eyed William looks up from his bowl, "Unca Biwl?"

"What is it William?"

"Wew's momma?"

"She's still asleep. She had to work late."

"Wew did she wok?"

"She went to the FBI."

"Wike Da-dee," Will grins.

Bill laughs, "Yeah, like daddy."

Tara smiles, pushing the curly hair out of Will's eyes and away from the wound.

Bill puts Katherine over his shoulder and pats her back, then frowns. "Tara, Mathew could use a trim, in fact, so could William."

Tara sets a plate of bacon and eggs in front of her husband. "We can get Matty's haircut when we get home, and as for William's, it's none of your business."

A yawn is heard and in walks Scully, wearing her robe and pajamas. "My, the whole family is here. I guess I over slept."

Bill holds Katherine out. "Tara wouldn't let the kids wake you."

Scully scoops up the baby and sits down next to William. "You hungry, baby?"

"I found a bottle in the fridge and fed her, I hope you don't mind."

"No, not at all, just saves me doing it." Scully says, but doesn't mean it; she looks foreword to the time alone with her daughter. She looks down at William, who is busy shoveling cereal into his mouth. "How's the head, Will?"

The little boy wipes his mouth off on the back of his hand. "Okay."

"Can I look under the bandage?"

"Okay," Will answers.

She pulls the little patch off his head and squints. "It looks much better William, I think we can leave this off now." She shifts Katherine in her arms and pulls off the tiny bandage.

"What will it be, Dana?" Tara asks.

"Just toast and coffee."

Bill sits down his coffee cup. "So you all done on that case?"

Katherine bounces up and down on Scully's lap and chatters to no one in particular. "All done but finishing up my report. Tara, do you think you and mom could watch the kids for a few hours? I need to finish it. Mulder will be home by one."

Bill speaks up, "You don't need mom, I can do it! It's about time the boys and I have a day out together."

Scully sits her daughter down on her lap. "I'm not sure."

"Dana, let me have some fun with the kids, I promise I won't take them golfing," Bill laughs.

The black-eyed Will chimes in, "Da bee-bee wikes to goff."

The adults laugh, and Scully agrees, "Alright, but don't get into trouble."

Bill claps his hands, "Come on boys eat up, we're going out for the day."

"Good," Tara says, "and I'll take Katherine to moms with me. You'll have the whole house all to yourself."

Scully laughs, "I'm not sure I can stand the quiet."

Scully kisses her daughter goodbye and shuts her SUV door. Tara has to take it because Bill will have their rental. "Dana, call moms anytime you want."

"I will," she replies, just as Bill comes out with Mathew and William. Will runs to Scully's vehicle and tries to open the door. Scully grabs him, "No, William, you're going with Uncle Bill."

Bill picks up his nephew and walks to the minivan. "You're going with me, buckaroo." He sets Will down and picks up his car seat, securing it to the backseat. Matty has already crawled into his own car seat while Bill is buckling William in.

Scully waves to Tara, then walks over to look in the back of Bill's minivan. "Will, you be good for Uncle Bill and Matty you hold Will's hand so he doesn't get lost."

"I will Aunt Dana." Mathew replies.

Bill turns around in the driver's seat. "Dana, give the kid some freedom!"

Scully would love to explain to Bill why she is so protective, but he wouldn't understand, or believe, any of it.

Bill starts the minivan, everyone waves, and he takes off down the driveway.

Scully walks back into the house and heads to the kitchen for a mug of coffee, and then it's off to fire up the computer in Mulder's office.

Thanks to all the work she had to do, the day goes fast for Scully. She no sooner faxes her report to Skinner and Mulder walks in. She turns to smile at him; "I'm all done."

"That's good, I'm sorry I couldn't get here sooner, but a couple of students nailed me in the hallway after class, and I couldn't get away."

Scully shuts down the computer. "It was an X File, you were discussing, wasn't it."

Mulder gives her a half-grin, half-embarrassed smile. "Yeah, it was."

Scully picks up her mug and brushes past him. "It's okay, Tara and mom have Katherine, and Bill has the boys with him."

Mulder looks wide-eyed, "And you let him?"

Scully walks into the kitchen with Mulder right behind her. "I think I need to loosen up a little. You were right Mulder, they are normal children and maybe I am overprotective."

Mulder sits down on a stool. "But Bill! Scully that's like putting an ape in charge of the monkey house."

Scully poured each of them a cup of coffee. "While I'm slightly offended at your calling my brother an ape, I was smart enough to put Matty in charge of William."

"Well that's a relief," Mulder says, shutting his eyes. "Have we got time to go grab some lunch?"

"I don't see why not. Where to?"

"How about one of our old haunts, back when we were young, energetic agents."

"Mulder, I gave up that crap, when they closed the X Files. I'm not lowering myself to eat like that again."

Mulder grabs her around the waist. "I think I liked you better when you were a cheap date." Scully laughs and leaves him to go change her clothes.

It's around five, when Mulder and Scully return home. He unlocks the door and grabs Scully's hand. They walk into the big, quiet house. Scully looks around, "I don't think anyone else is home yet."

"I guess so." Mulder pushes her toward the staircase, "Come on, we're got time for a quickie."

Scully resists and stands her ground. "Oh no," she laughs, "we're not getting caught again."

Mulder pulls her to him and grins; "They're leaving tomorrow, right?"

Scully wraps her arms around his waist and buries her head in his chest. "Early, I hope."

He strokes her back; "It has been fun though."

Scully looks up at him and smiles, "Well, we did find out that Katherine likes to golf."

They both snicker and hear the front door open. "Anybody home?" Tara yells.

"We're in here," Scully yells back as she and Mulder separate.

Scully takes Katherine from Tara. "Was she good today?"

Tara sits down the diaper bag she has slung over her shoulder. "She was the perfect baby."

Maggie tickles her grand daughter's tiny toes. "Mom! She didn't lose her shoes, did she?"

"No, Tara took them off her when she put her down for a nap, we never put them back on."

"Thank goodness, she is always taking her shoes off."

Maggie laughs, "Dana, I think she's ready to start crawling any day now."

"I do too," Scully says, looking down at her daughter.

Tara pushes back her blonde hair. "Bill called from his cell and said he wanted mom and I to be here with you and Fox when he gets home, he said it was a surprise."

Scully looks up at Mulder; "Wonder what it is?"

Suddenly a honking horn can be heard coming up the driveway. They all make their way out the door just as Bill pulls up out front. He has a huge grin on his face, but the side windows are too dark to see in the minivan. He shuts off the van and gets out. "I'm glad you're all here, you gotta see this!"

The assembled crowd is stumped as to what his surprise might be but the words, ape and monkeys, immediately comes to Mulder's mind.

Bill walks around to the passenger side of the van and opens the back door. Scully can see movement and hear giggling, but that's all. He appears to be unbuckling the boys, but neither one of them has come out yet.

He steps aside and out jumps Mathew, clad in a sailor suit with shiny black shoes, and a sailor hat perched on his head. Bill helps William out and he too is similarly attired.

Maggie gasps, "Oh, how cute! Where did you find these, Bill?"

"At a kids specialty shop, they had everything in there."

William is beaming from ear to ear along with his cousin.

"Look mom, I look just like daddy."

Tara laughs, "You sure do, Matty."

Scully, holding Katherine, looks down at her son. "That's pretty neat, William."

"I wook wike him," William says, pointing to Mathew.

"You sure do, son!" Mulder chuckles.

"Sorry Mulder, they were all out of G-man clothes." Bill teases, adding, "Wait there's more." He turns to the boys and says, "Take off your hats."

Both kids remove their hats to reveal buzz cuts.

Scully's eyes grow wide, and her jaw drops. "Holy shit Bill, what in the hell, did you do!"

Maggie touches her daughters arm and whispers, "Dana, not in front of the kids."

Scully gulps and calms down, some.

Tara has her hands on her hips. "Bill, it is one thing to scalp your son, but to do it to Dana's, is quite a different matter."

Mathew is running his hand over Will's fuzzy head. "That feels funny," he laughs. William runs his hand over his own head, and grins.

Scully is speechless; her eyes begin to grow red. Finally, Mulder walks up to William and stoops down. "What do you think of your haircut, Will?"

The little boy in the sailor suit, sporting one black eye, softly says, "I wike it, da-dee."

Scully is holding Katherine in one arm while her hand is over her mouth; she looks like a woman in shock. Mulder looks up at her, "He says, he likes it, Scully."

Bill is looking a little remorseful.

Finally Scully sighs and shakes her head. "I guess if Will likes it, it's ok."

You can hear a communal sigh being released. "But Bill, next time, you ask first," Scully warns then adds, "Mulder go get the camera. They're too cute not to have pictures of them."

Bill follows Mulder into the house to look for the camera. "Will really saved my ass back there."

Mulder smiles back at Bill as they enter the office. "Every time Will needs a haircut, Scully acts like they're going to remove a limb."

Bill watches Mulder look for the camera. "The barber thought they were cool."

Mulder looks up from his pawing through the bottom desk drawer. "How did you explain Will's black eye?"

Bill shrugs, "I told his he was in a bar fight."

"You didn't!" Mulder laughs.

"Yes, I did." Bill beams.

Mulder spies the camera on the shelf behind Bill and walks past him to retrieve it. He turns and puts his hand on Bill's shoulder, "Bill, that is one story I don't think we should share with Dana."

Bill chuckles, "Damn straight, we won't."

The pictures have all been taken, plenty of the two little sailor boys, and even more of one of them with his sister. Family group shots and shots of all the kids together are also snapped.

Scully has downloaded the pictures from the digital camera and sent copies to Bill's computer and made hard copies for Maggie. She especially likes the one of Mulder sitting on the staircase, with her sitting one step below, and William one step below her, then Katherine sitting one step below him, between his legs. Bill walks in just as she is finishing Maggie's prints. "I'm glad we took all of these pictures, it might be a long time before we see you guys again."

Bill pulls over an office chair and sits down next to his sister. "Don't be so sure about that. I'm going to tell Tara about the job in New London."

Scully leans over and hugs her brother. "Bill, that's great!"

Bill laughs, "Does that make up for the haircut."

Scully leans back to look at her brother. "Almost."

Tara comes in carrying Katherine. "You two ready for supper?"

Maggie has patched together a late supper for her family. It's being served on the patio while the sun sets in the background. The table is piled high with cold cuts, chips and a veggie tray. The adults gather around the table, with Katherine still in Tara's arms. The boys, sans white sailor suits, are seated at their little plastic table that Mulder has brought back outside.

Tara has placed half a sandwich before each boy, Will's of course, without the crust. The food is passed around the adult table, and then Maggie says a prayer for her family, those with her, those far away, and those taken from her.

Tara speaks up, "Dana, Fox, I have enjoyed this week. You've both been very gracious to all of us. I hope you can make it out to San Diego for a visit real soon."

Bill clears his throat. "That might not be such a good idea."

Tara looks at Bill with a startled look on her face. "Why not?"

"Because there is a desk job opening up in New London, and I'm applying for it."

Tara holds Katherine with one hand and puts the other one on her husband's shoulder. "Bill! You aren't kidding, are you?"

A large smile breaks out across Bill's face. "Nope, I'm not."

"How wonderful," Maggie interjects.

"Well, after having spent the week here, I see what I'm missing," Bill swallows hard, "and I want to spend more time with you and Mathew."

Tara hugs her husband. "Bill, I love you so much." Bill blushes and clears his throat. "Mulder pass the potato salad."

Everyone laughs at Bill's futile attempt at changing the subject.

Scully speaks up, "Well since this is a day for announcements, I have one of my own."

Mulder leans over, "Don't tell me you're pregnant again?"

Scully turns red. "Shut up, Mulder." He puts his hand on top of her shiny, red head and shakes it, then chuckles. The adults now are all laughing at Scully's expense.

"Like I was saying, before I was so rudely interrupted." Scully looks directly at Mulder. Bill is enjoying this little battle of wits going on in front of him. "I've talked to Skinner and told him I'm not coming back after my leave, but, he has offered me at home work, much like the last two cases I've been asked to assist on."

"That's great." Mulder replies. "I think that's a wise choice."

Maggie gets up from the table and takes Katherine from Tara. "Does that mean I won't be baby sitting?"

"No mom, I'll still have days when I have to go in," Scully looks at her brother, "But remember, you'll have Matty nearby soon."

"That's right!" Maggie says, looking over at Mathew.

Mulder drops his napkin and steeples his fingers. "My turn. I have an announcement of my own." He looks directly at William. "Dammit Scully, I like Will's hair!"

The entire table roars with laughter, except for Scully, who sits with her elbows on the table and her fingers laced together under her chin giving Mulder a sideways glare. Mulder begins to laugh at her and finally she laughs too. "Well, don't get use to it," she says.

William has gotten up and carried his plate to Mulder. "Da-dee, want mo' 'tatos."

Mulder picks up his son. "But I want them all!" He teases.

"No, da-dee!" Will laughs. "Der mine!" he says, grabbing the bowl of potato salad and hugging it to his chest. Mulder rubs his fuzzy head and helps him get some salad. By now Mathew has crawled up into his fathers lap. Laughing, happy family members surround the table.

It's late when the last of the dishes are done and put away. Will and Mathew are going for one last swim with their fathers.

Scully and Tara are on the floor in the family room playing with Katherine. The baby is on her hands and knees, chugging back and forth, but not going anywhere. She frowns, as she tries to pick a flower off the pattern on her blanket. She babbles, and jabbers, and drools on her blanket.

Maggie comes in carrying three mugs of coffee. Not wanting to chance burning the baby, Tara and Scully get off the floor, and sit on the couch. Maggie sits in an armchair across from the two younger women. "This has been a wonderful week."

"I can't believe how fast it went, but Bill has to be back on ship by Tuesday. Tara looks out the window at the activity in the pool. "I still can't believe Bill is going to apply for a desk job in New London."

Scully blows on her coffee. "I'm so happy for you."

"And who knows, maybe in a year, I'll have a little one just as cute as Katherine." Tara's eyes grow wide, "Dana look!" Tara points to the baby. Katherine is crawling toward her mother.

Once the baby has made it to the couch, Scully picks her up. "You finally did it!" She kisses her daughter's cheek. "Your dad is going to be sad that he missed this."

"Call him in, now that she's done it once, she'll do it naturally," her grandma says.

Tara goes to the French doors and calls Mulder to the house, while Scully puts the baby back on the blanket. Mulder comes in the door with a towel draped over his shoulders and shedding water. "What's Up?"

"Look!" Scully points to their daughter who is motoring toward her mother once more.

A big grin covers her father's face, "Way to go, kid!"

Will runs in and stands next to his father. His face registers total shock as he looks up at his dad. "Wook, da-dee, da bee-bee is cwalin'"

"I see that Will." Katherine has now made it to her mother. Scully lifts her up and stands her on her feet. The baby bounces up and down and sings out a loud string of jabber, then hiccups. Everyone laughs at her antics. Her eyes grow big as saucers at the commotion surrounding her.

"I think she'll walk early." Maggie says, with Scully adding, "I think you're right mom."

"Mulder, Will is shivering, either take him back to the pool or let me dress him."

"I wanna swim some mo'," Will protests. Mulder scoops him up and heads back to the pool. He jumps in holding William. Will can be heard laughing, "Do 'gin, da-dee."

The day has grown to a close. Mathew and William are sound asleep on their mattress they share on the floor.

Katherine has been prompted to crawl until she's exhausted. She too is now snuggled down in her crib in her mother and father's room.

Maggie has kissed and hugged every family member and left for her own home as Bill and Tara head upstairs.

Scully is sitting on the edge of the pool with her feet in the water. Mulder wanders out clad in shorts and a T-shirt. He sits down next to her and puts his feet in the warm pool water. They sit there in silence for a few minutes enjoying each other's company. Mulder drapes his arm across her shoulders. "Been a good week, hasn't it."

Scully grins, "Other than Will's tattoo, his head, black eye, and that awful haircut; it was nice."

Mulder rubs her back, "Scully, it will grow back, eventually."

They sit in silence a few more minutes.

Scully looks up at the stars. "I'm so glad Katherine has learned how to crawl, she wanted too so badly."

"She's stubborn, just like her mother."

Scully glares at him, Mulder laughs.

Mulder looks up into the night sky, then down at his partner. "Scully, how many nights have we spent looking up at the stars."

"You mean in general?"

"Our lives together have always ended up under the stars. Remember our first case?"

"How could I not, I was standing in a cemetery, soaked through, while you were doing a victory dance."

"And there was Pusher, that was the stakeout where you first drooled on me, now I know where Katherine gets it from."

"I remember the night we had to run for our lives through that damn cornfield."

Mulder grins at her, then grows quiet. "Then there was the night we were looking for my sister, but she wasn't to be. Lots of important events in our lives have happened under the starlight."

Scully's eye grow red and moist. She softly says, "The night I found you," her voice breaks, "in the field, lying there under the stars, dead." She begins to cry. Mulder holds her close and lets her have the release she has never had, at least in front of him. "I wanted to die, but I knew I had to be strong to bring William to term, he was all I had left of you." She sobs even harder. "Mulder, I loved you so much!"

Mulder wraps his arms around her. "I know, I know, but it's over now, and it won't happen again."

Scully rubs her nose with the back of her hand and giggles, "Look at me, I'm a mess."

Mulder stroke her head. "Yes, you are, but you're a pretty mess. Come on lets go inside and check on the kids." He grabs her hand and helps her up. She wipes at her eyes and walks hand-in-hand with her partner. "Scully."


"You said, you loved me so much; past tense. You still do love me that much don't you?" He is now teasing her.

"Nope, I don't." Scully plays along. Mulder is now wondering. "I love you even more now."

Mulder pulls her close. "I'm glad to know, now let's go to bed."

Friday ~

12:45 Mulder pulls into his driveway to find Bill and Tara loading the rented minivan. Scully is standing beside the van, holding Katherine, who has on a sunbonnet and no shoes. The black-eyed William and Mathew are chasing each other and rolling around on the lawn. Tara notices them and yells, "Mathew, get off that grass! You're going to get stains on your new jeans."

Mathew stands up, huffing, and puffing, and giggling. He walks to the van with William following him.

Mulder drives on into the garage and the boys' run to meet him. "Da-dee," William hollers, running up to his father.

Mulder lifts his son up. "What are you and Mathew doing?"

"Paying," William says.

Mulder rubs his nephews shaved head. "We're going to miss you around here, Matty."

"I know," the child huffs out. Mulder grins down at him.

"Mathew, come on, we gotta get going! Bill yells.

"Come on Will'um," Mathew yells over his shoulder as he runs to the van. William squirms in his father's arms until Mulder puts him down. He takes off at full speed, running after Mathew.

Bill lifts up his son, and puts him in the van, while Tara and Dana talk. He buckles Mathew into his car seat, and turns around to see Will trying to crawl in the van, too.

Bill lifts him up to keep him from crawling in, but Will thinks he is going to be buckled in, and lunges for the open door. "Sorry little guy, but you have to stay here."

"Wanna go wiff Mat'ew." Will mumbles. "Yeah dad, he can come wiff us." Mathew screams.

"Not this time Matty, we're going home."

"We awe!" Mathew says, looking confused. "But, I don't wanna go home." Big tears fill the small boy's eyes.

Will starts to cry too, "I wanna go wiff Mat'ew!"

Mulder takes William from Bill. "No Will, Mathew has to go home."

"I wanna go too!" William cries.

"I wanna stay wiff him." Mathew pleads.

Suddenly Scully hears the commotion. "Shit, I was afraid this might happen." She walks around the van to see Mulder struggling to reason with his son. She hands Katherine to Tara and takes William from Mulder.

Will continues to sob, "I wanna go pay wiff Mat'ew."

"But he has to go to his own home, he lives far away," Scully softly says to her anguished son.

"But I wanna go wiff him." Scully holds her little fuzzyheaded boy close to her. Will looks at the van and sniffles and pleads, "Can he stay wiff me."

Scully tries to make Will understand. "Sweetie, Mathew just came to visit us for a few days, but he will come back."

"When?" He pleadingly asks.

Scully is at her wits' end, when Bill walks over, "William, we're going to see you again, real soon. I'm trying really hard to move here and if we do, you and Mathew can play together all the time."

"Okay," Will softly says, laying his head on Scully's shoulder. He reaches up to play with the soft strands of his mother's hair. Scully has come to realize, he does this when he is stressed and in need of comfort.

In the meantime, Tara has handed Katherine to Mulder, and is calming Mathew down in the back of the van.

Bill hugs his sister and kisses his nephew. He walks over to Mulder and shakes his hand. "Mulder, I never thought leaving you would be hard to do," he smiles, "but it sure as hell is."

"Thanks," Mulder smiles back. "I hope you get the job."

Bill looks back at Tara and Mathew. "You know, I hope I do too."

Tara is still talking to Mathew in the back seat, so Bill just shuts the side door and crawls in on the driver's side.

Scully and Mulder both wave as the van moves down the long circular drive. Will is still playing with his mother's hair and Katherine is squirming in her father's arms.

Scully walks in the front door of the house and carries William to the downstairs bathroom. She wets a wash cloth and carries him into the family room, sitting down in the glider-rocker. "Here, let me wash your face," she softly says. Will pulls back slightly, allowing her access. "Your eye looks better," she soothingly says.

Mulder walks in and sits down on the couch. He has shed his suit jacket and removed Katherine's bonnet. He puts her down on the floor and she crawls toward one of her dolls. She tries to pick it up but she can't do it with both hands on the floor.

Will lifts his head to watch his sister's antics. Eventually, he crawls down from his mother's lap and walks over to his sister. Mulder and Scully watch as their children interact.

Will lays down next to Katherine and she immediately crawls onto her brother. Will laughs and draws up his legs. Katherine jabbers and pats Will's stomach. Will tries to roll away from her. "Wook mom," he has picked up the word, mom, from his cousin. "Da bee-bee is cwalin' on me!"

Scully smiles at her children playing together, before this time, Will didn't have much to do with his sister, except to look at her occasionally. Katherine rolls over on her butt and tries to get up. Will sits up on his knees and helps her get back on her hands and knees, then he falls down in front of her. Katherine cackles in laughter so he does it again, once again she laughs.

Scully gets out of the rocker, and sits down next to Mulder, with her legs drawn up under her. He grabs her hand and laces his fingers with hers. "I think William has found a new playmate."

"I can't understand, why all of the sudden he has taken an interest in her."

"Its simple Scully, Will needs to fill the void left by Mathew, and Katherine is suddenly mobile. He teaches her and she keeps him entertained."

Scully draws back and looks at him. "Wow, you really are a psychologist."

Mulder grabs her shoulder and tips her down onto his lap. "One more crack like that, and you won't be my playmate, anymore." He kisses her lips as giggles bubble up from her chest.

~ 05 The Suit ~

Fox Mulder has just hit the backdoor, his Armani jacket is thrown over his shoulder, his white dress-shirt sleeves are loosely rolled up to the elbows, and his sunglasses are resting on his nose. "Ohhh," he groans, as he hits the cool, air-conditioned house. Scully is fixing lunch in the kitchen, she looks up and smiles, "Rough day?"

"The worst!" Mulder responds, kissing her forehead. He takes off his sunglasses and tucks them into his pocket then removes his jacket, tossing it onto the counter, before he opens the refrigerator door. He rummages through the fridge and comes up with a bottle of water, leaning against the counter; he drains the small bottle. "What's for lunch, I'm starving."

Scully has to smile at him, even at Mulder's age; he still has little boy moments. She walks up to him and places her arms around his waist, resting her hands on his ass, an act that does not go unnoticed by Mulder. "Got your hands riding a little low there, don't you Agent Scully?" Mulder flashes her a smile, and as an added bonus, a little blush.

Scully looks up at the man towering over her and grins, "If we could get the kids nap times synchronized, I might be facing sexual harassment charges."

Mulder laughs and rubs her back, "I'll never tell," he says, kissing her lips.

Scully starts to turn around when she sees a little, well dressed, ghost scoot down the hall past the kitchen. She holds back a laugh and runs her tongue over her bottom lip. "Mulder, where is your jacket?"

"On the counter, where I . . ." He realizes it's gone. He looks on the floor and around the kitchen. "Where did it go?" Scully laughs, "I believe you'll find your son is now dressed in a three hundred dollar jacket."

Mulder blanches and races down the hall, "Will, William, come here."

Will walks in from Mulder's office. He has the sleeves on the jacket bunched up on his skinny arms, while the hem is dragging the floor, and he tows Scully's briefcase behind him.

Mulder grins, "Where are you going?"

Will holds up his arm so the jacket slinks down. "To wok."

Scully is standing in the kitchen doorway leaning against the frame, trying not to laugh.

Mulder stoops down, "Where do you work, William?"

Will begins to go through the briefcase. "Da FBI," he grins.

"Will, can I have my jacket back?" Mulder begins to take it off the little boy.

"No!" Will protests and wraps his arm around the jacket, protecting it from Mulder.

Mulder picks up Will and grabs Scully's briefcase, "Let's go upstairs and play, okay Will?"

As they start upstairs, Scully looks around the corner; "Good luck." She swears she can hear Mulder mutter something that sounds a lot like, bite me.

Mulder puts William down when they reach the master bedroom. Will sits in the middle of the floor on the Armani jacket, and once again begins to look through the briefcase. He picks his son up and sits him on the edge of the big bed, putting his hands on his thighs to be at eye level to his son. "Will, how about we play store? Would you like that?"

Will's blue eyes light up, "Okay!"

Mulder reaches into his wallet, pulling out several bills and stuffing them into Will's hand, "There, now you've got some money, so I'm going to sell you something."

Mulder opens his closet and rummages through his suits, finally pulling out one that is buried in the back, destined for Goodwill. He dusts off the jacket and lays it on the dresser then turns to his son, "Hello sir, and what is your name?"

Will's eyes snap and he giggles at his father, then says, "Will'um."

"Well William, I can see you could use a new suit."

"No!" William demands.

Mulder ignores his complaint and pushes on, holding up the brown jacket, he says, "As you can see, this suit is one hundred percent wool with a silk lining." He opens up the jacket, Will is fascinated by his father's antics. "There are three buttons on the sleeves, while that old thing you have on, only has two." William looks down at his bunched up sleeve.

Mulder is unaware that Scully and Katherine are watching their reflection in the mirror from the hallway. He brings the suit jacket over to William, "Now sir, if you'll allow me try this on you."

"No!" William protests and twists away from his father.

Scully finds this whole mess Mulder has gotten himself into very amusing.

Mulder drops his head and whines, "William, please give me my jacket."

"No!" Will frowns, "I go to wok."

"But why won't you trade me coats?" Mulder pleads.

"Cawse I yike dis one!" William smiles.

"But I like it too." Mulder tries to reason with him.

Will points to the brown suit. "You wea dat one," he suggests.

Mulder drops his shoulders, "I feel like I'm trying to get a hostage released."

Will slides off the bed, still wearing his Armani jacket.

Scully walks around the corner of the door carrying Katherine and trying hard to hide her smile, "How's it going?"

"It's no use, he won't cough it up." Scully hands the baby to her father and calls William back into the room. She stoops down in front of her son, "William, daddy needs his jacket, his boss will be very mad if he doesn't wear it."

Will looks contemplative, then shrugs off the jacket. "Hewe, da-dee."

Scully picks up the coat and lays it on the bed. She bends down and kisses her son and brushes back his hair. "That was very good of you."

"Okay," William says, taking off out the door and down the stairs.

Mulder sits down next to Scully on the bed and exhales; "I'm glad that's over."

Scully lets out a little giggle.

"What?" Mulder asks.

"You do realize your son has one hundred and fifty dollars of your money."

It sinks in, "Shit!" Mulder heads down the stairs, taking them two at a time, calling out, "William, William!"

Scully takes Katherine into her bedroom and changes her into a terry sleeper. Mulder comes in holding his money, "That was close!"

Scully lifts the baby up, cradling her in her arms. "How did you get that?"

Mulder smiles, "I sold him one of your mom's homemade cookies for a hundred dollars and a glass of milk for fifty."

"Mulder, you didn't!" Scully laughs.

Scully puts a very sleepy baby into her crib and closes the door. She and Mulder walk downstairs to find William asleep on the floor in the office. "I guess I had better put him to bed," Mulder says. He picks up his sleeping son and turns toward Scully with a suggestive grin, "Scully, does that proposition you made, if we could get both kids to sleep at the same time, still stand?"

Scully pulls him toward the staircase, "You bet your Armani suit it does."

~ 06 The Hostage ~

"Scully!" Mulder yells.

"What!" Scully yells back from upstairs.

"Will just spilled his cereal on the floor."

"Well, clean it up!"

"I'm going to be late for work!"

"If you had just cleaned it up when it happened, instead of calling me to do it, you could have had it cleaned up by now and been on your way to work!"

Mulder looks over at his son; "I hate it when she uses logic."

Scully comes downstairs carrying a freshly bathed and very naked Katherine wrapped in a bath towel. "For heaven's sake Mulder, you know I have to get her ready to go with my mom."

"Scully, you know I have to be out the door by. . ." Mulder looks at his watch, Ten minutes ago. Dammit, now I'm late!"

Scully picks up the bowl and spoon while holding Katherine. "Leave! Go on!"

Mulder shakes his head and turns his back, dismissing her with his hand before he leaves.

Scully stands up and sighs, putting Katherine in her playpen in the family room she pleads, "Please, don't do anything until I can get a diaper on you." Scully can hear the squealing of tires and looks up, "Well, that went well."

Will is yelling, "Mom, I'm hun-gee!"

Scully comes to the kitchen and pulls out another bowl, filling it with Shredded Wheat and milk; she sets it in front of Will then runs to the office to grab a diaper. As she walks back past the kitchen doorway she sees Will picking up the cereal with his hands and stuffing it into his mouth. It dawns on her; she forgot to give him a spoon. She puts down the diaper and gives Will a spoon from the drawer, but now she can't locate the diaper, she finally spots it on top of the microwave.

Will is paying no attention to his mother's breakdown until he hears, "Oh Katherine! Couldn't you have waited!" He turns his head trying to see into the family room, but gives up and goes back to eating his cereal by the handful.

Mulder pulls into his parking space still peeved at Scully. He can't help it if Maggie wanted to take Katherine to Granddaughter's Day at her Mother's Club, and it isn't his fault she had to be ready by 8:30. What he does know, is that he's late for class and he had a full morning planned for his students. What a way to start the day.

Scully finally has Katherine fed, cleaned up, and dressed her in a soft yellow, cotton dress with matching panties.

William, on the other hand, is a different story; he's running around with a sticky face and hands, and for some reason known only to him, he has taken off his pajama bottoms. He's now trying to use the remote to turn on the TV so he can watch his cartoons, but so far all he has been able to tune in is Judge Judy, blaring from the surround sound at around 90 decibels.

"William, will you please turn down the TV," Scully yells from the top of the stairs. Will doesn't respond, most likely he can't hear her. Coming downstairs, she sets Katherine in her swing so she doesn't get her dress dirty, then grabs the remote lowering the volume and changing the channel for Will. He isn't real happy; he was just getting interested in Judge Judy.

The front door opens and in walks Maggie, "Anybody home?"

"We're in here," Scully says from her family room.

Maggie walks in and takes one look at William and laughs, "What happened to his pants?"

Scully looks up from picking up toys; "I have no idea."

Maggie walks over to the swing and picks up her granddaughter. "What a pretty girl you are Katherine," she says, straightening the baby's new dress. "Dana, you always have the children dressed so nice."

"My problem is keeping them clean," Scully sighs.

"That's every mother's problem, if you can find a solution, we could make a million dollars."

Scully picks up a magazine to put it away as sunflower shells cascade to the floor. "Dammit! I've told him, and told him, about these shells!"

Maggie rubs Katherine's back, "Maybe, it's a good thing I'm taking her for the day."

Scully tucks a strand of unruly hair behind her ear and puts her hands on her hips. "Maybe tomorrow you can take her father for the day."

Maggie shifts the baby in her arms, "Okay Dana, what's up?"

Scully tosses her hand into the air. "We had a small argument this morning."

"Doesn't sound like it was so small."

Scully rubs her forehead, "Look mom. . ."

"I know, I know, it's none of my business, so Katherine and I will be on our way." Maggie picks up the diaper bag and calls William over, "Will, can I get a hug from you?"

Will gets off the floor and hugs his grandmother goodbye as she hugs him back. Scully walks her mom to the front door and pulls it open, "When will you have her back?"

"It should be no later that four o'clock. Oh, and before I forget, here is the number you can reach me at." Maggie pulls out a small piece of paper and hands it to Dana.

"Okay, well, call me if you need anything." "I will Dana. Tell Fox hello from me," Maggie smiles, "the next time you two are speaking again."

Scully just rolls her eyes and shuts the door.

Mulder has just finished the last two hours of his four-hour class. He knows he should have called Scully during the break, like he usually does, but he's not ready to deal with her wrath just yet. He knows from experience that the best thing to do is give her some time to cool off.

He starts to open his office door when his cell rings; he assumes its Scully wanting to make up. "Hello Scully, and I'm sorry."

"That's nice Mulder, but it's Skinner."

"Oh, sorry sir, what's up?"

"We have a situation that we need you on."

"What kind of a situation?"

"Guy named Dean Hovick, he's holding two doctor's hostage in a senior care center in Arlington."

"Why me? I'm not a negotiator."

"No, but you are well-versed in alien abductions."

"Shades of Duane Barry," Mulder mumbles.

"His mother is suffering from Alzheimer's and he's convinced that she has been given the disease by aliens."

"Where are you now?"

"About five minutes from you."

"I'll meet you outside." Mulder hits 'end' and hits the first number on his speed dial. The home phone begins to ring but no one is there to answer it. "Shit, she really is pissed." The answering machine picks up; he waits for the message to end, "Scully, its me. I'm with Skinner, I'll call ya later." Hell, if she is going to be mad all day, then so is he.

Mulder unlocks a cabinet in his office and removes his weapon, an extra clip, and his holster. He locks the door to his office and meets Skinner outside. He sits down in Skinner's car and says, "So, it's the alien excuse, huh."

"It gets better," Skinner says, pulling away from the curb.

"He claims his mother was taken many times by aliens. They were 'rewiring' her brain. In his ramblings, he has stated that the aliens are taking humans and rewiring their brains. The successes are returned to fit back into society, but as aliens not humans. Their failures slowly regress into dementia, that we call Alzheimer's disease. He's currently holding two doctors at gun point at his mother's care center."

"When did this go down?"

"About an hour and fifteen minutes ago." Skinner passes a truck and pulls in behind a small car. "There's more, Hovick thinks her doctors are aliens too." He stops for a light and pulls a stack of papers out of his briefcase. "Here's Mrs. Hovick's medical records; we got them from her family physician."

Mulder glances over the thick folder. "So what do we know about Dean Hovick?"

Skinner shrugs, "Guy's a college grad, majored in mining. Travels a lot, but his home base is his mother's house. Never married, never arrested, finances all in order."

"Nondescript then."

"That's about it. He believes his mother's doctors are slowly killing her with the drugs she's been taking for the Alzheimer's disease, trying to eliminate their failures."

"Fascinating," Mulder mumbles.

Skinner pulls onto the expressway and hits the gas. "The news has leaked out to the media."

"So, it's already a circus." Mulder comments, as he closes the folder.

"We do have them moved back but their presence doesn't help."

"I'm sure," Mulder says. "Can you get me inside?" Skinner looks shocked. "Mulder, you're here in an advisory capacity only, you're not a member of the swat team or negotiations."

"Sir, with all due respect, I don't want another Duane Barry on my hands. I need to speak with this guy, up close and personal, not through some damn phone line."

Skinner tilts his head and clinches his jaw. "I'll see what I can do."

They pull off the expressway and onto a tree-lined, side street filled with satellite trucks, media crews, and police vehicles.

Skinner stops the car, he and Mulder step out and walk to the yellow crime scene tape; they flash their badges and crawl under the barrier. "The CP is over here," Skinner motions to a large, blue van. Skinner flashes his badge to the agent sitting inside, "I'm AD Skinner, and this is Agent Mulder.

The sandy-headed agent extends his hand, "I'm Agent Burris."

"Agent Burris, Agent Mulder is here to speak to Mr. Hovick."

Scully has finally gotten her house in order and cleaned up William; she's dressed him in his red T-shirt and blue bib-shorts. She pulls his sneakers off the top shelf of his closet while Will digs around in his toy box. "Will, come here so I can put your shoes on you." Will sits down on one of the tiny chairs next to his table. Scully stoops down and begins to shove one of the sneakers onto his foot but she just can't get the shoe to fit. "Damn," she mutters under her breath.

Will looks down at his foot and also mutters, "Damn."

Scully grins up at her son. "I think you need some new shoes."

"Um,huh," Will agrees.

Scully pulls off the sneaker and checks all of Will's shoes. Six pairs, all the same size, too small. She does find a pair of sandals that she can let the buckle out on. Once his feet are covered, Will goes back to digging in the toy box.

Scully brings in a small garbage bag and fills it with the outgrown shoes and some assorted clothing that can go to Goodwill.

She finally finishes her chore and turns around to find Will's toy box empty and no sign of her son. "Will, where are you?" She yells, but gets no returning answer. She grabs the bag and checks out Katherine's room, and finds him sitting under her crib playing with his toy horse. She leans down to look under the crib. "Will, what cha doing under there?"

"Paying wiff ma howse." Will answers.

Scully smiles at her son, "Well, can you come out so we can get you some new shoes?"

"Can Ah take ma howse?" Will asks.

"Sure," Scully answers, and William crawls out. "Bring your horse into my room while I change my clothes."

Will follows his mother into her bedroom. She selects her clothes and walks to the bathroom, leaving the door open a crack she quickly changes, then puts on a touch of makeup and runs a comb through her hair. "All done," Scully says, opening the door to an empty room. She looks around, "Will, where are you?"

She hears a muffled, "Hewe." It's William, under her and Mulder's bed.

"What are you doing?"

"Paying wiff ma howse." Will answers.

Scully rolls her eyes, "Come on, we need to get going."

Will crawls out and Scully brushes off his clothing. They head downstairs and she grabs her purse, keys, and the small diaper bag while William has his horse safely tucked under his arm. They pass the office unaware of the flashing answering machine.

"AD Skinner, are you here to take command?" Agent Burris asks.

"No, I'm just here to help, but Agent Mulder has dealt with people like Hovick in the past."

The agent gives Mulder the once over. "Think you can deal with this guy?"

"I can try, but I need to get in there; anyway to communicate with him?"

"Yeah, he's been calling us via 911 on one of the doc's cell phone, so far no one has been hurt, but he's getting itchy."

Just then the phone rings. "That's him," Agent Burris says, turning on his stool to reach the phone. "Dean?"

Scully and Will are moving along with the flow of traffic driving to the shoe store. She bends down the rearview mirror to look at her son, "How about after we get your shoes, you and I go to Mickey Dee's for lunch?"

Will's attention is drawn from his horse to his mother, "Yeah! Can da-dee come too?"

"No," Scully sighs, "he seems to be too busy to come home, or call me, but we'll have fun anyway." She turns on the radio, just as they break in with a news bulletin reporting the hostage situation going on in Arlington. She listens but doesn't think much about it.

"Dean, I have someone here who wants to speak with you. His name is Fox Mulder and he's a believer," Burris says.

Mulder is at least relieved he's not getting any crap from Agent Burris; he seems more interested in ending this thing than in giving him grief. Agent Burris hands Mulder the phone. "He says he'll talk to you."

"Mr. Hovick, I'm here to help you." Mulder says in a soothing voice.

Hovick finally speaks up; "I don't want any help except with getting rid of these aliens."

"What are the aliens doing now, Dean?"

"They're sitting in chairs, and don't try anything, or I start shooting."

"I understand Dean. Where is your mother?"

"She's in bed. They're trying to kill her."

"Dean, can I see your mother? I know the signs of alien abduction."

"How can you possibly know?"

"Because I've been abducted." Burris looks up at Skinner, who merely nods his head.

"Don't jack with me! I'm not some crackpot!"

"There was a force field, I walked into it, then a bright light appeared and they took me."

Hovick is listening.

"Several of us were taken at the same time. I woke up strapped to some type of torture device." Mulder's voice trails off.

"How long were you gone?"

"Several months."

Hovick sighs, "Okay, come on in, but no guns, no listening devices, just you. If I smell a trap, someone dies, maybe you."

Mulder nods and swallows hard, then hands the receiver to Burris.

Scully pulls into the parking lot of Happy Feet Children's Shoes. She unbuckles Will and takes him by the hand into the store. He brings his horse along, and seems more interested in making it gallop along the low benches, then in getting new shoes. Scully walks to the toddler's section and picks up a pair of sneakers that are one size larger than what he was in. She turns back, "William, come here."

Will tucks his horse under his arm and plods over to where his mother is waiting for him. She sets him on a bench and shows him a pair of white sneakers; "Do you like these?" She asks.

"Um huh," William answers, but he is too busy checking out his horse to really look at them.

Scully slips the sandal off his foot and unlaces the sneaker. She shoves his foot into the new shoe but it too, is too small. William looks down at his foot and mumbles, "Damn." Scully shushes him and takes off to find a larger size.

Three pairs of toddler's shoes and one pair of pumps later and they're on their way. "I swear Will, you must get your big feet from your father!" Scully complains, as she buckles him into his car seat.

"Da-dee gots big feet too!" Will chimes in. Scully laughs and shuts the door; soon they are off to McDonald's. The radio is on and once again the station breaks in with the news on the hostage situation. This time they mention the FBI's involvement in the case, this peaks Scully's interest, but they don't give out any more details. She wheels into the McDonald's parking lot with Will yelling, "Mickey Dee's!"

"That's right, and you want a Happy Meal, don't you?"

"Um huh," Will answers then adds, "Can Ah take ma howse?"

Scully shakes her head and smiles, "Of course you can. William, you're just like your father when you get obsessed with something."

Mulder, you sure about this?" A concerned Skinner asks.

"This guy isn't a killer, he's afraid. He needs a friend right now, someone he can trust, who can understand, even if he is just delusional, he believes it."

Skinner scratches his head, "Okay, but be careful out there."

"I will," Mulder assures him.

"And I want you in a flack jacket, no sense taking anymore chances than you need too."

"Okay mom," Mulder grins at Skinner, relieving some of the tension. He takes off his jacket and unbuckles his holster, handing it and his weapon to Skinner; next he strips off his dress shirt and puts on the flack jacket. He replaces his shirt and walks outside putting up his hands; he walks to the entrance of the facility. A woman quickly pulls the door open and they disappear inside.

Skinner frowns, "Shit! I thought they had emptied that wing. Where is the intelligence officer?" He roars.

The scared woman turns out to be a nurse. "Don't worry. Where is he?" Mulder softly asks.

The nurse points to the end of the hallway. "Second from the end on the left." Suddenly a man appears in the hallway pointing a gun. Mulder pushes the nurse back toward the door and puts his hands up.

"Dean, Dean Hovick? It's me, Fox Mulder. I'm unarmed."

Hovick looks Mulder over, once he's satisfied it's legit, he waves Mulder toward him.

Mulder approaches the man and stops. Hovick pats him down then turns him back around. "Who are you?" He suspiciously asks.

"I'm with the FBI," Mulder swallows hard, unsure of how Hovick will react.

Hovick turns white.

"But, I ran my own division that dealt with crimes like yours."

This seems to calm Hovick down some. He shoves Mulder into the small cinderblock room. An elderly woman, not more than 85 pounds in weight, lies in bed, either sleeping or comatose. Two men, in white jackets, sit on straight-back chairs; one appears to be taller and older than Mulder, while the other is shorter, younger and nearly bald.

Mulder nods to each of the hostages and turns to look at the elderly woman. "Is this your mother, Dean?"

Hovick's eyes soften as he moves to the woman's side and gently lifts her bony hand. "Yes, it is," he quietly says, then turns on the doctors, "They're trying to kill her!" He yells.

"Mr. Hovick, you're wrong," the younger doctor argues. Mulder frowns at him and shakes his head slightly. The doctor immediately stops talking.

Hovick loses it, "I saw you, you were giving her drugs and all they did was make her worse! She isn't getting better, none of them do! You're killing them all!"

"Dean," Mulder draws Hovick's attention away from the doctors. "How many times was your mother taken?"

Hovick runs his hand over his face, "I don't know, maybe twenty or thirty times." He looks up at Mulder, "And you?"

Mulder grimaces at the memories the question dredges up. "Only once, but it went on for months," he softly says.

Hovick stares at Mulder, unsure as to what to believe.

"Dean, what is it you want?"

Hovick paces the floor, "I'm not sure." He pauses and points the gun at the doctors. "I want them to reverse what they've done to her!" He yells

Mulder knows this isn't possible. "Dean when was your mother taken?"

Hovick looks at Mulder. He lowers the gun from the doctors. "Usually at night, from the time I was a kid, I would wake up and find my mom gone." Angst is written all over Hovick's face. "Do you know what that's like?"

Mulder solemnly nods, "My sister was taken."

Hovick stares at him, "She was returned wasn't she."

Mulder shakes his head and his eyes grow red, "No."

"Man!" Hovick sardonically laughs, "I always found my mom in the same place."

Mulder looks up a bit surprised, "Where?"

"About five miles from here, near a ravine."

"She was always returned there?"

"Winter, summer, rain, or shine," Hovick gives a madman's chuckle, "she would be there." Mulder's eyes widen, "Dean, can you take me there?"

"You think I'm nuts! This is some kind of trick!" He explodes.

Mulder walks to Helen Hovick's bed. "Dean, I want you to turn your mother's head to see if there are marks behind her ear."

"What for?"

"Please, just humor me."

Hovick pauses a moment, then does as he's asked. He gently turns his mother's head as Mulder moves in to look. Helen Hovick has a tiny 'V' shaped scar behind her ear.

"What the hell is that?" Hovick frowns.

"Most abductees have these marks behind their ear."

Hovick points the gun at the doctors. "I knew it, you son of a bitches!"

Mulder steps in between Hovick and the doctors. "Dean! I need to check their necks."

"For what!" Hovick yells, so nervous that the gun in his hand is shaking.

"You trust me don't you?" Mulder calmly asks.

Hovick considers what Mulder is saying, then motions with the gun for Mulder to check out the doctors. He walks behind the doctors as they glance at one another, then he runs his hand over the back of the neck of the older man. He moves on to the younger man and does the same, then drops his hands and walks around them. "They aren't aliens, Dean. If they were, there would be two bumps on the back of their necks."

Hovick rushes around Mulder to check their necks for himself.

"You could be lying to me."

"No, I'm not. I have no reason to." Mulder looks directly at Hovick.

"I'll take you to the spot," Hovick agrees, pointing the gun at the doctors, "but they go too."

Mulder knows it isn't the best situation he could ask for, but at least he gets this guy away from an entire wing of patients and workers.

Hovick tosses the cell phone to Mulder, "You're FBI, you set it up, but no funny business or they die." He points the gun at the younger doctor's head.

Scully, William, and his horse make it to the head of the line at McDonald's and place their order. Scully carries the tray to an out of the way table in the back. At the other end of the restaurant is a TV hanging from the ceiling with the news playing on it.

Will is sitting on his knees next to Scully on the bench seat, while hie horse is standing on the chair across from them. Scully pours her son's French fries onto the placemat and unwraps his burger. "Do you like your new shoes?" She asks the hungry toddler.

"Um hum," Will says around a mouthful of burger, "Ah yike da boo ones."

"I do too, but you needed the black ones for church, and the white ones for going out with gramma," she softly says, while stealing one of Will's fries.

"Ah yike do white ones too."

"I'm glad you do," Scully says, while picking at her salad.

Will looks into his Happy Meal box, his blue eyes grow large and he gets excited as he digs into the box, "Mom! Ah got nudder howse!" He says pulling out a little white pony.

"So you did!" Scully laughs. She glances up at the TV just in time to see the hostage situation on the screen and gasps; in the background, over the reporters' shoulder she can clearly see AD Skinner. She puts down her coffee cup, "Will, you stay right here." She walks to the front of the restaurant to read the closed captioning. She runs back to where she and William are sitting and grabs her purse, pulling out her cell phone, she hits speed dial, one. "Come on Mulder, pick up, please pick up," she pleads. She waits, then dejectedly closes the phone, but a thought hits her and she dials once more. "Sir, is Mulder with you?"

Mulder closes up the doctors cell phone. "It's all set up, they have a car waiting for us out back."

Hovick turns the gun on the doctors once more. "You two, get up and stand in front of me, FBI you on my left. Any funny business and the first one I can hit dies."

The doctors line up as told and Mulder stands to Hovick's left. They walk down the hall and turn right, heading for the back entrance, away from the media.

An abandoned car sits off to the left with the motor running. Hovick orders one of the doctors into the front passenger side and the other into the back. "FBI, you drive but remember, I got a gun pointed at your head.

"I understand Dean," Mulder calmly says. They pull away from the curb and start down an access road used by the garbage disposal trucks.

Skinner is apprehensive about letting Hovick and his hostages out, but at least they can now evacuate the twenty or so other people in the care center. A helicopter has just touched down and is waiting for him to climb in, when his cell rings. "Skinner."

"Sir, is Mulder with you?" A frantic Scully says.

"Who called you, Scully?" Skinner asks, surprised to hear from her.

"Dammit sir! It's all over the news, is he with you?"

Skinner sighs and rubs his forehead, "He was, but he's not now. He left with the suspect."

Scully is totally unprepared for this news, "Where to?"

"I'm not sure, but I'm on my way to a 'copter to join in tracking them. Look Scully, sit tight and I'll call you as soon as I know anything, okay?"

Skinner doesn't hear a reply at first, then a small voice says, "I will, sir."

Scully closes her phone and turns away from William, trying to compose herself before sitting back down. She gulps in some air and slides in next to her son. "Eat up, William, we need to get going," she shakily says, then realizes, but to where.

Skinner's helicopter has caught up to the one already tracking Hovick, they fly high enough so they don't alert him to their presence.

"Dean, when did they first take your mom?"

Hovick shrugs, "I don't know, I must have been four or five." Then he motions with the gun, "Turn right."

Mulder does as he is told. Skinner can see the turn form the air. "I think they're headed over there," he says to the pilot through the microphone, "Mulder mentioned a ravine and there's one just ahead." Off to the right is a small hill with a steep depression beyond it.

Mulder looks at Hovick in the rearview mirror, the man is nervous and obviously tired. "Dean, when did you last sleep, or eat for that fact?"

Hovick stares out the side window, "Why should you care?"

"You look weary Dean, you can't keep this up much longer, why not let them go?"

Hovick hasn't moved and the gun is still pointed at Mulder's back, "Because they are trying to kill my mother, can't you understand what I have been saying?"

Mulder grips the steering wheel tighter. "Dean, I told you they checked out."

Hovick is getting agitated, "Shut up and drive, besides I still don't believe you."

Mulder looks at him in the mirror. "You should, I know from first hand experience what I'm talking about."

Hovick sighs and puts his head against the side window. "I think you're lyin'." He scoots to the edge of the seat and pokes his head between Mulder and the older doctor, "Stop! We're here."

Mulder pulls the car around, aware of the helicopter tracking them; this gives the pilot a few seconds to back off, as he puts the car in park. Hovick pokes the gun into the back of Mulder's seat, "Shut off the engine and everyone get out on the right side, slowly, no sudden moves." The three hostages do as they are told; they all get out and stand in a small group, eyeing one another.

Hovick gets out, "Hands in the air." The three men raise their hands, Mulder's ring glitters in the sunlight. "You married?" Hovick asks.

Mulder slowly nods his head.

"Any kids?"

Mulder swallows, "Two little ones."

Finally, Scully is back on the road, trying to keep her panic down, she drives around aimlessly, unable to return home and just sit and unsure about alerting her mother to what's happening; but where would she tell her mother to meet her, when she doesn't know herself. She slows for a light and finally makes up her mind; she swings the SUV around the corner and heads for the crime scene.

Skinner's 'copter has backed off but he can still see the tiny figures through the binoculars. He orders the swat team to move into the nearby woods just as his cell phone rings. "Skinner."

"Sir, I know you told me to sit tight, but can you tell me anything yet?" Scully pleads

"Where are you?" Skinner frowns; knowing if things go badly Scully will need someone there for support.

"I'm headed to the care center, sir."

This is not what Skinner wants to hear. "Dammit Scully, I told you we were working on it, go home."

"I can't sir, I can't just sit by and wait for something to happen. Please, tell me what you know."

Skinner sighs, "Hovick, Mulder and the two docs are standing near a ravine where Hovick says his mother was always returned to."

Scully gasps, "Sir! If this is true, it might be an alien hotspot and Mulder could be in danger of being taken again!"

Skinner reels at the thought, but tries to remain calm. "Scully, calm down, you and I both know they don't want Mulder, or you, or your children. We have no evidence that they are even still active on this planet." Skinner hopes the pilot hasn't overheard their conversation.

Scully rubs her forehead and licks her bottom lip. "I know sir, but we have so much more to lose then we did before," she says, looking back at her sleeping son.

Skinner clears his throat, fully aware of the meaning behind her words. "Scully, I need to go, but I promise I will keep you informed and bring Mulder back to you."

"Thank you sir," Scully softly replies, hoping he is able to fulfill his promise.

Hovick looks at Mulder's ring. "You better watch it FBI, the aliens will be after your kids."

Mulder blanches, "Why, were you taken too?"

Hovick shakes his head, "No, but I'm adopted, my mother did tell me about seeing whole families there."

The doctors look as if they are watching two crazy men converse. Suddenly the younger one makes a break for it and runs. Hovick brings up the gun to take aim, but Mulder hits his arm, they struggle for control.

Skinner can see the situation from the air. "Shit, it's turned sour!" He grabs the radio, "All swat team members move in, signal ten!"

The problem is the helicopters have outrun the swat team and they're not in position yet. Skinner feels helpless then it hits him, "Drop down!" He orders the pilot. "Maybe we can create a diversion."

Scully has made it to the original crime scene and pulls up to the yellow tape. Few media crews are left, most of them moved out when the swat team did. She kills the motor, lowers the window slightly and locks the doors. Will is still asleep and well within her line of sight. She steps up to the back of the van. "Hey, you can't be here!" Agent Burris yells. Another agent grabs Scully by the arm and begins to escort her away from the van.

"Let her go, that's Agent Scully, she's one of yours, and Agent Mulder's partner," a large, broad, black DC cop roars. Scully is released and looks up at the huge man standing before her. "I worked a case in DC with you and your partner about five years ago," he calmly says.

"Thanks," Scully mumbles.

Mulder struggles with Hovick, trying to get the gun. He looks over at the horrified older doctor and yells, "Run!" The shock of what is happening finally wears off and the doctor runs for the tree line.

The helicopter is beginning to make its presence known, the rotor blades can be heard and the wind starts to swirl, just before Hovick and Mulder fall into the ravine.

"No!" Skinner shouts!

Scully is standing next to Agent Burris as the radio crackles; "Burris get an ambulance up here, now! Get the directions from the swat team. Hovick and Mulder just went over the edge, we're sitting the chopper down now."

Scully is horrified; she stands in the doorway of the van feeling totally helpless and stunned by what she has just heard. She pulls out her cell and begins to dial.

Skinner can hear the first of the sirens approaching the scene as the swat team makes its way up the dusty road. He runs to the edge of the ravine and looks down to see what appears to be two lifeless bodies, laying some fifty feet below him, resting on the thin edge of an outcropping.

The distinctive sound of the EMS siren can be heard above the rest of the clamor. "Over here!" Skinner commands the swat team members. Several ropes are brought over and two men repel down the gravel-covers walls of the ravine to check out the two men lying on the ledge. One team member calls up to the assembled group, "We got one DAS, and one alive, but unresponsive." Skinner's cell phone rings.

Scully is near panic now, but trying hard to hide it. She's just about to hang up when Skinner answers. "Sir, can you tell me anything? Is he okay?"

Skinner is silent; he doesn't know what to say. "Scully, I told you when I know some. . ."

Scully cuts him off, "Dammit Skinner, cut the bullshit! I heard it all on the radio." People are brushing past Scully as she stands in the doorway of the van watching William sleep in the car. She calms down a bit and steps inside, "Please sir, tell me."

Skinner is about to tell her he'll call her back so he can learn the identity of the dead man, when one of the team members climb back up over the edge. "Hovick is dead, looks like he broke his neck."

Scully can hear the report over Skinner's phone. "What about Mulder!" She demands.

"How's Mulder?" Skinner screams to be heard over the chopper rotors.

"He's alive, is all I can say." The team member yells back before climbing back down over the edge.

"He's alive!" Skinner yells over the phone.

Scully's breathe catches in her throat and she sits down on the van step. "Where are they taking him?"

"We've got to get him up top first; look Scully, I promise I will call you back but I need to get going."

Scully's head falls to her chest, "Thank you, sir."

Skinner can sense her helplessness. "Scully don't worry, I'll stay with him."

"Okay," Scully mutters, closing her phone and walking to her vehicle. She unlocks the door and finds Will still asleep, unaware of the chaos swirling around him. She runs her knuckles over his soft cheek; he flinches and stretches slightly but settles back to sleep once more. Katherine! It suddenly hits Scully; she needs to contact her mother. She sits behind the steering wheel and grabs her purse, in it is the small paper with the number Maggie can be reached at. "Hello, can I please speak to Margaret Scully."

Mulder has been fitted with a neck brace and strapped to a backboard ready to be lifted up by the helicopter to the surface. Skinner can only stand by and watch.

The two doctors that were taken hostage are currently on their way to DC PD to be questioned.

The 'copter slowly lifts the backboard up the steep ravine. This isn't the type of chopper that normally does this kind of work, but time is of the essence for Mulder. Once on top, the straps are released and the backboard is placed on the gurney. Skinner is at his side immediately, Mulder is moaning and incoherent, but he can make out that he is asking for Scully. An EMT grabs Skinner's arm, "Sir, we need to get going."

"I'm riding with him," Skinner says in a tone that no one dares to question. The gurney is loaded and Skinner crawls in the cramped ambulance. They slowly take off down the narrow rutted road.


"Hello mom, its Dana."

Maggie already knows by her daughter's tone that something is wrong. "Dana, what is it," Maggie asks, turning away from the group of woman for more privacy.

"It's Mulder, he's been hurt."

"Hurt! How?"

"There was a hostage situation and some how he ended up in the middle of it." Scully starts to sniffle; I'm not even sure how badly he is hurt or where he is."

Maggie is trying to remain calm. "Honey, where are you now?"

Scully wipes her nose on the back of her hand and looks around; "I'm at the care center where it took place at."

"Is Fox there?"

Scully lets out a shaky breath, "No, no, he ended up outside DC somewhere. Skinner saw it all."

"Dana, where is William?"

Scully looks back at her son still asleep in his car seat; "He's in the car with me."

"Honey, listen to me, you cannot drive in the state you're in, especially with William in the car."

Scully shakes her head, "No mom, I'm fine, really." Scully drops her head, "Look mom, I'll call you as soon as I find out where he's going to be taken to. Do you think you can keep Katherine a bit longer?"

Maggie can tell Scully is softly crying. "Of course, Dana," Maggie laughs trying to relieve the tension. "Honey, Fox is a young, healthy, athletic man and a survivor, I know it's hard to do but try not to worry."

Scully breaks down; "I love you, mom."

"I love you too, Dana."

Scully hangs up and decides to start out for home, she can't sit in the parking lot all day and William is going to be awake soon. She wipes her eyes and jumps when there is a knock on her side window. It's the black officer who helped her out earlier. "Agent Scully, are you okay?"

Scully rolls down the window, "I'm sorry, but I don't remember your name."

"I'm Officer Reese Calloway, you look like you could use a little help. Anything I can do?"

"No Reese, but thanks. I need to find out which hospital Mulder is going to be taken to."

Suddenly there is a noise from the back seat; William is awake. "Momma, Ah wanna go home," he softly says, with a yawn.

Reese looks in the window. "Agent Scully, is that baby yours?"

Scully looks back at Will and smiles, "Yes, mine and Mulder's."

Officer Calloway looks at her with a surprised expression on his face. Just then Scully's cell phone rings, she quickly answers it, "Yes."

"Scully, this is Skinner, I'm in the ambulance with Mulder."

"How is he; where are they taking him; let me talk to the tech," Scully fires back at Skinner.

"Scully, they're working on him now. We're only a few minutes from DC General, he's been asking for you, but I can't tell you much more except to meet us there."

"I will, and thanks." Scully closes the phone and puts her head on the steering wheel, then starts the SUV. She turns to Officer Calloway, "That was AD Skinner, Mulder has been taken to DCG."

Officer Calloway opens Scully's door, "Get in back with your son."

"What?" Scully asked, surprised.

"Look Agent Scully, I like you and Agent Mulder, let me help you out. I know these streets like the back of my hand, and the little guy in the back looks confused by all this."

Scully gets out and runs around the SUV, crawling in the back with her son. She grabs his hand and says, "Will, we're going to see your dad."

"At wok?" William yawns.

Scully brushes his hair to the side, "No, he's not at work."

Officer Calloway wasn't kidding, he roars out of the driveway and down the street. He looks back at Scully, "Agent, don't get me wrong but doesn't the bureau frown on partners, you know, consorting?"

Scully smiles for the first time in along time, "We're married and William here, has a six month old sister. Agent Mulder, normally teaches at the academy but today they ask him to look into this case," Scully looks out the side window and sighs, "I'm not sure of the particulars."

"And what are you doing these days?"

Scully looks over at her son, "Me? I stay with William and Katherine and go into the bureau when they need me."

The officer's questioning has taken Scully's mind off her plight and before she knows it, they are pulling up to the emergency room doors. "You go on in, I'll park the car and bring in the keys."

Scully gets out of the passenger side door and walks around to unbuckle Will. She lifts him out of his car seat but he complains, "Ah wa ma howse." She reaches in to retrieve his toy.

She carries William in the emergency room door, where a nurse meets them asking, "What's wrong with him?"

Scully frowns unsure of what she is talking about, then it hits her, "No, my son is fine, but I'm looking for a federal agent that has been brought in, Fox Mulder. Can you tell me anything about him?" Scully's heart is pounding in her chest.

A large, warm hand is laid on her shoulder. "Agent Scully, here's your keys." Scully puts William down. "And your purse, and I thought you might need this," Officer Calloway says handing her the small diaper bag.

Scully's eyes suddenly grow moist, "Thank you Reese, you have been very kind to us."

"How's he doing?" Reese asks, nodding toward the emergency room.

Scully looks down the long hallway, "I don't know yet, the nurse is checking for me."

"I've radioed for a ride, so I had better get outside, but I'll be checking in on Agent Mulder."

"Thanks," Scully answers as the officer walks toward the door.

Scully finds Will playing under a chair with his horse. "Come on Will, we need to get going."

The nurse comes down the hallway. "I need to know who you are ma'am."

"I'm Agent Scully, Agent Mulder's wife."

The nurse gives Scully a strange look; "Come with me, Agent Mulder is currently in surgery."

"Do you know his condition when he was brought in?" Scully asks, picking up William.

"No, I wasn't the attending, but the surgical nurse will be out to speak to you soon." The nurse hits the elevator button, Scully and Will step in. She holds the door open; "I'm sending you to the seventh floor, that's surgery. The waiting room you need to be in is on the right once you step off the elevator."

"Thanks." Scully says, as the doors shut.

She steps off the elevator to face Walter Skinner. He takes her by the arm and leads her in the waiting room. "Scully, I've been waiting for some news, but so far I haven't heard a word.

"What happened?" Scully asks, as she sits down and allows Will to slide off her lap.

Skinner sits down next to Scully, "Mulder and the two hostages had stepped out of the car, Hovick had a gun on them when one of the doctors broke off and tried to run for it. Mulder hit Hovick's arm before he got off a shot. They struggled and went over the edge of the cliff." Skinner clears his throat and nervously adjusts his glasses. "They were found some fifty feet below. The EMT's figure Hovick tumbled the entire fifty feet and broke his neck, while Mulder slide down the side, that slowed his descent but he was cut up and scraped pretty badly."

"Why is he is surgery?" Scully asks as she twists her fingers together.

"All I've been told is that they suspect internal bleeding but they aren't sure from where."

Scully stares out into space; "Did they say anything else?"

"No, other than they would let me know how he is doing in surgery," Skinner looks down at his watch, "but that thirty minutes ago."

Scully draws in a breath and sits up straight, "I need to call my mom."

"There's a pay phone around the corner. I'll keep an eye on William, if you want to call her now."

Scully gets up and grabs her purse, pulling out her calling card; she starts for the bank of phones. Skinner puts his hand on her wrist, "Dana, I'm so sorry I brought Mulder in on this case."

Scully turns to look down at him. "Sir, even if you hadn't called him, the minute he heard about this case he would have been out there before I could have stopped him," Scully says, before walking around the corner.

Skinner looks around to see where his charge is, but Will is nowhere to be seen. He panics for a moment; he couldn't have lost the kid that fast. "William," he softly calls, not wanting to alert Scully.

"Wha?" William answers from under a table.

Skinner looks down, "What are you doing down there?"

"Payin' wiff ma howse," William explains.

Skinner grins, "But why are you playing under there?"

Will looks up at Skinner with a raised eyebrow and a frown, "Cawse da howse is in da bawn."

Skinner chuckles, "There's no doubt whose kid you are."

"Mom, its me." Scully says with a thin voice.

"Dana, how's Fox?" "He's in surgery at DCG. They haven't told us anything yet." Scully says, rubbing her temple.

"I'm on my way," Maggie firmly says.


"Yes, dear?"

"I need to see Katherine," Scully softly says.

"I know you do, dear. What floor are you on?"

"The seventh, waiting room two."

"Dana, are you alone?" Maggie asks trying to hide the concern in her voice.

"No, Skinner is here." Scully looks around the corner to see Willaim and Skinner interacting.

"That's good, see you soon."

Scully puts the receiver back into the cradle and walks back to Skinner just as a nurse comes out of the OR. Will spots her and gets excited, her scrubs are covered in black and white ponies. She walks directly to Scully and Skinner. "Since you're the only ones out here, I'm assuming you're Agent Mulder's family."

Scully speaks up; "I'm his wife Dana."

"Well Dana, I'm Carla and I've been assisting in surgery."

"How is he?" Scully pleads.

"He's not out of the woods yet, but he is holding his own."

Scully pushes back a strand of hair and embraces herself, suddenly cold and slightly perturbed. "Look Carla, I'm a medical doctor, how is he?"

The nurse is a bit taken back by this, "I'm sorry, I thought they said you were with the FBI."

Skinner stands up, "She is, but Agent Scully here, has a degree in medicine."

Now the nurse is totally confused. "I thought your name was Mulder?"

Scully is losing her patience, "I am Fox Mulder's wife, what the hell does it matter what my name is!" Skinner grabs her arm and Scully backs off. "I'm sorry, but it's been a bad day and I can't find out how Fox is doing." Scully figures if she calls him Mulder, Carla will really be confused.

"Of course, I understand," Carla reassures her then takes a seat as does Skinner and Scully. Will is standing next to Carla admiring her smock. "You're cute! What's your name?" Carla asks him.

Scully softly says, "Go on sweetie, tell her who you are."

Will brings his fingers to his mouth and shyly says, "Will'um." Then he points to Carla, "You gots howses on yow shiwt."

The nurse looks down and laughs, "Yes, I do." Then Carla's face turns serious, "Dana, Fox has no fractures as far as we can tell. He does have some deep lacerations to his hands and face. When he was brought in, he was in and out of consciousness, but he came to before the surgery." The nurse's face lights up, "That's what he kept saying, 'Scully', none of us could make sense of the word."

Scully feels guilty, "I should have been there for him."

Anyway, his abdomen was distended and his H&H were dropping fast indicating a bleed. We opened him up and found a tear in the left kidney and a nick in the liver. Dr. Magee is his surgeon and one of the best in his field, so try not to worry. He'll be out to talk to you when he's finished."

"Thank you," Scully says breathing out a long held breath.

Carla pats Scully's hand, gets up and begins to leave then turns back, "By the way, the flack jacket probably saved him from major thoracic damage." A look of relief comes to Skinner's face, he's glad he had insisted Mulder wear the jacket.

Scully picks up William and sits him on her lap. "I want ma howse," Will quietly says, leaning back against his mother. Scully bends to pick up his toy, handing it to her son.

Skinner swallows and watches how gentle Scully is with the small boy she holds. "Dana, I'll get us some coffee, do you need anything else?"

Scully looks around her son's sandy-red head. "Could you bring Will something to drink, water or fruit juice.

"Sure," Skinner says, getting up. "I'll be right back."

Scully hugs her son to her and kisses his head. "I wanna see ma dad." Will softly pleads.

Scully's eyes well up, "I know, I know, soon."

Skinner brought back coffee and juice, which was finished off half an hour ago. Scully paces the floor and stares at the OR door.

Will is showing Skinner his horse when he looks up and suddenly takes off screaming, "Gwamma!"

Maggie has walked in carrying Katherine; Scully turns to see her and rushes to pick the baby up, holding her tight.

Maggie walks over to Skinner, "Mr. Skinner, can you tell me how Fox is doing?"

"Of course, Mrs. Scully."

"Please call me Maggie."

"Maggie," Skinner begins, "he's still in surgery. The nurse told us they've found some internal bleeding."

Scully has William and Katherine near her; she's softly speaking to her children while glancing up at the OR doors. Will is getting antsy, he's been here for several hours now and he's hungry.

Suddenly the OR doors open up, out strides a small, round man with glasses and gray hair, "Mrs. Mulder?"

Scully jumps up holding Katherine, "That would be me," she says. "I'm Dana."

The doctor shakes her hand; "I'm Dr. Magee, and I operated on Fox."

"How did he do?" Scully asks.

"He did just fine, but he's going to have to take it easy for a few weeks. The kidney was touch and go for awhile but we did manage to save it."

"Dr. Magee, I'm a medical doctor."

The doctor smiles at Scully, "So I've heard. His output in surgery was 200cc's and we'll continue to monitor it every hour for the first twenty four."

"Thank you doctor." Scully lowers her head, "I'm sorry about the way I acted, I need to apologize to your nurse."

"Don't worry, stress does funny things to people."

"It was still unprofessional. Do you think I can see Fox's charts?"

The doctor considers the request for a moment, "I don't see why not."

"I promise I'll be good," Scully smiles at the doctor.

Dr. Magee laughs, "He's in recovery right now, you can see him once he's transferred to ICU."

"Thanks," Scully say, with a nod of her head. Maggie and Skinner have been listening to the doctor. "Dana, the kids need fed and put to bed, it's been a long day for the little one's."

"Mom, it's getting late and I don't want you trying to deal with getting two sleepy kids in and out of the car."

Skinner speaks up; "I'll help. I don't have a car here, if Maggie will give me a lift to her place, I'll call a cab to pick me up there. I can help her get Will and the baby settled in."

Maggie eyes her daughter, "What do you say, Dana?"

Scully knows she is out numbered, "I guess that would be best."

Maggie begins to gather up the kids' things when Skinner stops her, "Let me take those."

"Dana, I know it's useless to say it, but I do have a spare room if you want to get some sleep," Maggie offers.

Scully slowly rocks her sleeping daughter in her arms, "No, I think I'll stick close by Mulder tonight."

Maggie smiles at her daughter, "I thought so."

Skinner calls William over; "You want to spent the night at grandma's house?"

"Wiff you?" William asks.

Skinner laughs and blushes, "No, I'm going to my own home but I will put you to bed if you want."

"Okay," Will replies with a yawn.

Maggie takes the sleeping Katherine from her daughter, who is finding it hard to part with the baby. "Don't worry Dana, we'll be just fine and I'll bring them over tomorrow afternoon so Fox can see them."

Scully hugs her mother, "Thanks mom." Then she walks up to Skinner, who is holding her son, and kisses William's cheek. "You be good for grandma."

"Ah weeh," William yawns.

Scully looks up at Skinner, "Thank you sir for staying with me."

"You're welcome Scully," Skinner mumbles and clears his throat.

Maggie carries Katherine, and Skinner carries William, out of the waiting room. Scully sits down and buries her head in her hands. Just then William runs back in, she looks up, "What are you doing here?"

He crawls under the table and comes out with his toy, "Ah gots ma howse," he says, and takes off down the hall once more. Scully checks to make sure he gets back to Maggie and Skinner.

Scully has had two cups of coffee, half a tuna sandwich and made two trips to the bathroom before she's notified that Mulder has been moved to the ICU. She is only allowed to sit with him for fifteen minutes on the hour. On her first trip in, she sees that Mulder is off the ventilator, replaced with a nasal cannula for oxygen. Only two IV lines remain, while his head is swathed in bandages she can clearly see the ugly, black ring forming around his left eye. He looks like the typical post-operative patient, swollen, pasty and unresponsive. She's glad Will and Katherine can't see their father like this.

She pulls up the hard-backed chair and grasps Mulder's hand, it's warm and when she squeezes it he squeezes back. His eye's flutter and he groans. She stands up to lean over him. "Hey partner, can you hear me?"

Mulder rolls his head slightly and groans again, running his tongue over his dry, swollen lips he looks up to see Scully's blue eyes staring at him. "So, I'm still here?"

Scully smiles at him, "Yes, you are."

"Good," Mulder softly says, as he tries to swallow. "That hurts."

Scully brushes back his hair, "I know, let me get you some ice."

Scully tips up a small cup, he sucks on a few small pieces of ice.

"Better?" She asks.

"Um hum," he tries to smile at her while his eyes remain closed, soon he drifts off to sleep.

Around 2AM the nurses take pity on Scully and let her remain by his side for the rest of the night, they even provide her with a more comfortable chair.

"Scully, Scully." She can hear a voice off in the distance; it sounds like Mulder. Mulder! "I'm here, I'm here," she says as she jumps up from her chair.

"I'm okay," Mulder smiles at her. "You were out like a light."

Scully looks at his monitor and at his urine output. "Did you sleep well?"

"On and off," he croaks out. Mulder finally fully opens his eyes and takes a good look at his partner, "Scully, when was the last time you ate?"

She looks down at the blankets that suddenly seem to be in need of straightening. "I had a. . ."

"A meal, not some crappy sandwich that you picked apart."

"I don't know," Scully says avoiding his stare.

Mulder starts to get out of the bed. "Mulder! What do you think you're doing?"

"I'm going to the cafeteria and get you something to eat."

"Okay, I get the message," Scully says, as she moves over to push him back down into the bed; he's too weak from the surgery to resist.

Just then the door swings open and in walks Walter Skinner. Mulder slowly looks up. "Sir, just the man I want to see."

"And how are you, Mulder?" Skinner asks, disregarding Mulder's remark.

"I'm okay, but I need you to do me a favor, take Scully down to the cafeteria or out to a restaurant and make sure she eats a meal, a whole meal."

Skinner eyes Mulder then looks at Scully, who is trying to not look at either one of them. "Sounds like an order to me Scully, come on."

Scully rolls her eyes and leans over to kiss Mulder's dry lips, "You better be here when I get back."

Mulder smiles a swollen, purple bruised, smile, "I will be."

Skinner makes sure Scully fills her tray and under his watchful eye, she eats most of it. She excuses herself to go freshen-up then meets Skinner at the elevators. They return to the ICU to be greeted by William. "Mom, we come see da-dee!"

She scoops up her son. "I can see that and I'm glad you did," she says kissing her son. She puts him back down and walks over to her mom, gathering up her daughter and cradling her in her arms. "Hi mom, I'm glad you brought them by." Scully bounces Katherine while patting her diapered bottom.

"Ah wanna be wiff ma dad," William pouts.

Skinner takes pity on the child. "Mulder, can he sit with you for a few minutes?"

"That would be great," Mulder croaks out as Skinner lifts Will over the bed rail.

"I knew you and Fox would want to see them," Maggie says.

Scully turns to Mulder, "Has the doctor been in yet?"

"Not yet," Mulder winces as he tries to smile around the bruising on his face.

Katherine is leaning over her mother's arms with her tiny arms outstretched, wanting her father too.

Mulder reaches out his hand and gently rubs his daughter's curly, brown hair. "Sorry kiddo, but I can't hold you right now."

Scully looks at her daughter and asks Mulder, "Do you want me to sit her on the other side of the bed?"

Mulder's face lights up, "Sure." She lifts the baby over the bedrail and sits her down next to her father. Katherine puts her fingers in her mouth and turns to look at him then slowly leans back until she is lying next to him.

Maggie beams at the sight of the two children lying next to their father. "I wish I had my camera."

"I don't think I'd take a very pretty picture," the bandaged, and black and blue Mulder says.

Will speaks up, "Da-dee, you comin' home?"

Scully stands next to the side of bed that William is lying on, "No, sweetie, your dad has to stay here a little longer."

Will sticks out that bottom Mulder lip of his, "I wanna say too."

Mulder grins a weak smile at his son's comments.

Just then the door swings open and in walks Mulder's surgeon, he stops to look at the assembled group. "I didn't know I had three patients."

Mulder smiles and looks down, "No, I'm your only patient, this is my son, William and his sister, Katherine."

The doctor grins, "Katherine is my mother's name."

Will begins to squirm and look around. "What is it?" Mulder asks.

Will frowns, "Ah wan ma howse."

The doctor looks down and finds a chocolate brown horse lying on the floor. He picks it up and hands it to William, "Is this yours?"

Will takes the offered pony, "Ma howse!" "What do you say?" Scully chides.

"Tank yo," William softly says.

"Okay you two, off the bed." Scully picks up Katherine and Skinner moves in to pick up William.

Maggie speaks up; "Why don't Mr. Skinner and I take the kids to the cafeteria so you can talk to the doctor."

"Thanks mom," Scully replies.

Skinner and Maggie take the two little ones and leave the room.

"Okay, now that we're alone, here's the skinny on you." He pulls a penlight out of the pocket of his white coat. "Your neurodiagnostics are relatively normal. . ."

"Relatively is the best you can get from me, doc."

"So I've been told. As I was saying, your head is in one piece, so that's a plus. The damage to your kidney and liver was repaired as well as could be expected. I'm going to hold you here for a few more days."

Before he could go on Mulder interrupts, "Can I have that in writing?"

The doctor smiles, making notes on Mulder's chart that he is sure contains the words, non-compliant'. "Don't get your hopes up, if your urine output stays satisfactory and the color continues to improve, you are looking at three to five days here on the surgical unit then you can go home."

Mulder grimaces, "What exactly is the color of my urine at the present time and how is it unsatisfactory? I've never been quizzed on the color before."

Scully chuckles and rubs his hand. "It's the color of William's faded red wagon right now, but it did match Rudolph's nose when you came out of surgery."

"Your liver, however," the doctor continues, "will require a bit more time to heal. You'll go home on some activity restrictions, as soon as I am satisfied with your liver profiles, and that will be something we'll want to watch on an outpatient basis for a while longer."

Mulder's forehead wrinkles, "Meaning. . ."

"Meaning I'll discharge you with home health orders for a nurse to come and draw blood once a week for a while. You won't be working for at least six weeks and you won't be able to participate in any physical sports, walking only for exercise, no driving, limit riding in a car, but there's plenty of time to talk about all that later. Right now, just know that you are doing well, and I look for a full recovery."

"Eventually." Mulder's voice is flat.

"Eventually." The doctor sighs. His patient is obviously a very active person; he is sure Mr. Mulder will chafe some under his restrictions.

"Thank you," Scully tells Dr. Magee, certain that Mulder won't be thanking him.

"Call me if you need anything," the doctor says before leaving the room.

Mulder leans back into the bed. Scully can tell he's feeling rough. She leans over him and strokes his head, he responds with a little smile for her. "You're in pain, aren't you?"

"A little," Mulder confesses.

"You can control that with your pump."

"Only if you will promise me something," Mulder says with closed eyes.

"What is this Mulder; lets make a deal?" Scully lightly teases then softly asks, "What do you want?"

"I want you to take Katherine and William home with you and all of you get some rest in your own beds."

Scully wants to argue but she knows he's not up to it. "I'll make sure we all get our rest, and tonight I'll bring Will and Katherine back up."

Mulder slightly opens his eyes and smiles, "Good, I need to see them."

Scully huffs out a little laugh, "And they need to see you." "So its a deal then?" Mulder groggily says.

Scully leans over to kiss him, "Deal." She brushes her knuckles over his scrapped red cheek and whispers, "You know I love you, don't you?"

Mulder smiles, "I kinda got that idea." He finds the button on the pump and pushes it.

"I'll be back after five, you get some rest."

"That's nice," Mulder says, his voice barely audible and definitely feeling no pain. Scully kisses his cheek and shuts the blinds before leaving the ICU and walking to the desk, "I'm leaving for the afternoon but I'll call to check on him from time to time, here are the numbers I can be reached at." She gives the nurse her phone numbers. "Don't hesitate to call me, and if he gets unruly, call me right away."

The nurse takes the offered card, "Don't worry, we'll take good care of him."

"Thank you," Scully says, as she turns toward the bank of elevators, suddenly realizing just how tired she is. She meets her mom and Skinner as the doors open. "Hi, I was just coming to check on you."

"How's he doing?" Maggie asks.

"Considering what he has been through, he's a lucky man. He'll make a full recovery but it will take some time and you know how impatient Mulder is when it comes to time off."

Scully rubs her red eyes, "I'm going home now, but mom could you follow me with the kids, I'm just too tired to trust myself driving with them in the car."

Maggie frowns, "Dana, then you're too tired to be driving at all."

"She's right," Skinner interjects.

"But I need my vehicle to get back to the hospital, which reminds me I don't know where Mulder's SUV is."

Skinner speaks up; "He left it in the lot at the academy, if you can give me a key I'll arrange to get it home."

"Thanks," Scully yawns.

"And if Maggie will give me a lift back to my car, I'll drive yours home."

Scully starts to protest but gives in, "Okay, I just want to go home."

Scully and both children are settled in for a nap, Katherine is in her crib in the master bedroom while William chose to sleep snuggled up next to his mother in her bed. Scully wakes first and slips into the bathroom for a quick shower. Soon everyone is dressed and fed and on they're way back to the hospital, earlier Scully had called to check on Mulder and was told he had been moved to his own room.

Scully enters Mulder's room carrying Katherine, who is dressed to the nines in her lavender dress and matching sweater, with little Mary Jane's on her feet. Her hair lies in soft brown curls all over her head and her deep dark eyes light up at the sight of her father. Will; on the other hand is all boy, from a sweater covered in horses to his denim jeans. Scully has combed over his copper-blonde hair in the same manner as his father's; while securely tucked under his arm, is his horse.

Mulder is sitting up a little higher in his bed, the bandage on his head has been reduced to a large patch but the bruises around his eye and down his cheek have turned an awful shade of purple. He's watching the sports news on TV but turns it off when his family enters the room. "Hey, thought you weren't coming for a minute there."

Scully leans over to kiss his lips. "If I remember right, I was ordered out of here," she teases.

Mulder looks around the room. "Where's Will?" He asks.

"Hewe!" They hear a small voice coming from under Mulder's bed.

Mulder frowns. "Don't worry, he's taken to sitting under the furniture lately," Scully laughs.

Mulder smiles and tries to look down at his son, "Will, what are you doing under my bed?"

Will crawls out and tucks his horse under his arm, "Da howse is in da bawn," he states, then crawls back under the bed.

Scully holds back a laugh, "Didn't you know that Mulder?"

Mulder slowly bats his eye's, "I must have forgotten that after my fall."

Katherine is fussing and squirming in Scully's arms. Mulder moves his IV line out of the way. "Here, put her down on the bed."

Scully sets Katherine down next to Mulder. She looks up at her father but is more interested in trying to pick the pattern off his gown.

Scully pulls up a chair and sits down next to him; "Did you eat anything?"

Mulder lays his head back against the pillow. "Tonight I got what they loosely called solid food, but you could have fooled me."

They sit in silence for a few moments just watching Katherine explore the hospital bed. Mulder looks over at Scully, "I'm sorry they couldn't save Dean."

"Dean?" Scully questions.

"Dean Hovick, Scully I'm sure his mother is a multiple abductee. She displays all the signs, I want to talk to her when I get out of here."

"Mulder, she suffers from Alzheimer's, how can you question her?"

There is a soft rap on the door and Walter Skinner walks in.

"Hello, sir," Scully says as Katherine turns around to see who her mother is talking to.

"Where's Will?" Skinner asks.

"Under the bed," Scully sighs.

"Got his horse in the barn again does he?" Skinner grins as he takes off his trench coat and pulls up a chair. "Mulder, do you know how long before you will be able to teach again?"

Mulder swallows, "The doctor said six weeks, but I can be back in two."

"Good, Skinner nods, "I'll let them know they need to find a replacement for six weeks."

Mulder eyes Skinner but doesn't say anything.

"I do need a statement from you as soon as possible."

"How does six weeks sound?" Mulder snipes.

Skinner smiles and straightens his tie. "Mulder, you must be feeling better, you're back to your old surly self."

Mulder only smiles at the comment then ask, "How is Helen Hovick doing?

Skinner looks surprised; "She died late last night."

Scully looks up at Mulder and he looks back at her. "Sir, I want Scully to perform the autopsy on Mrs. . ."

Skinner shakes his head, "As per her request in her will, she was cremated this morning."

Mulder drops his chin to his chest. "Mulder if it makes you feel any better, her attorney told me she had requested this be done so that the aliens couldn't take her body." Mulder looks dejected, "Thank you for telling me sir."

Skinner clears his throat, "Mulder, Scully, I want to apologize for getting you involved in this case. It almost cost Mulder his life," Skinner looks down at the kids, "and these two their father. I am sorry."

Mulder lays his head back. "It wouldn't have mattered if you had asked me or not, once I saw it on the news, I would have been there anyway."

Scully looks out into space and doesn't say a word.

Skinner continues to stare at Mulder. "Agent, I know you're in here because of me, but I do think it is time you get your priorities straight."

Scully glances at Skinner, who is tempering his anger at Mulder's comment. William crawls out from under the bed and pats Scully on the knee, "Mom, I hafa go potty." Scully gets up and takes him by the hand but instead of using the restroom in Mulder's room, she walks out the door.

Skinner's head snaps back to look at Mulder. "Son, I've known you for over ten years now, but that was the most insensitive statement I've ever heard from you and that's saying something."

Katherine is lying next to her father chewing on her fingers and looking intently at Skinner. Mulder is gently fingering her soft hair.

"Look at yourself Mulder, you have a woman, who by all accounts should have left your sorry ass years ago, but for some unknown reason adores you; two kids that I, most men would give their right arm to have and a mother-in-law who treats you like her own son. You would risk all that, for what? To chase little green men?"

"If you think you can get a reaction from me by using that old 'little green men' shit, you're mistaken. I've been there, I know what they do to humans, you, do not." Mulder closes his eyes.

Skinner rubs his head and adjusts his glasses, trying to curb his anger. He clears his throat and notices the small, brown hair, little girl sitting beside her father. He takes her small hand in his; she tries to put it in her mouth and grins up at him and babbles. Skinner smiles back at Katherine and in a husky voice asks, "You would risk not being around to see her grow up?"

Mulder rubs his swollen hand over Katherine's back. "It's because of her that I fight."

Skinner shuts his eyes and winces. "Mulder, we haven't found any evidence that they're even still here since they found out Will wasn't what they thought he was." Skinner pulls his hand away from Katherine and looks at nothing in particular, then regaining his stoic composure he says, "I'll check on you in the morning." He turns to leave and tosses back over his shoulder, "Have a good night."

"You too," Mulder softly replies.

Mulder raises the head off the bed up slightly. Katherine babbles and turns herself around to look at her father. He marvels at the similarities between Katherine and Samantha. "I love you, Katherine," Mulder croaks out. "I promise I will keep you, and your brother, and mother safe."

Katherine picks at the tape that covers two of Mulder's fingers then hiccups. She looks so surprised that Mulder has to laugh even though it hurts.

The door opens and in runs William, "Pick me up, da-dee!" The little boy demands.

Mulder reaches over to rub his head, "I'm sorry son, but I can't, maybe mom will."

Scully walks up to the side of the bed. Will turns to her, "Pic me up, mom!"

Scully lifts Will up to sit next to his father. So far she hasn't said a word.

Mulder lies back on the pillow, still stroking Katherine's back. "So you going to bust my chops too, Scully?" He looks at her sheepishly.

Scully takes his hand from the baby's back, holding it in both of hers. "Mulder, when I met you, I knew you were driven; then when I fell in love with you, I knew you were still driven; and when Will came along, I figured nothing had changed. Then I agreed to marry you; and even when Katherine came along, I knew you were the same man I had met in the basement that first day. The same one I fell in love with, and the same one I wanted to raise a family with," she smiles, "why would I expect you to be anything less."

Mulder looks visibly relieved and grins, "I'm glad I'm not married to Skinner."

Scully snickers and kisses his forehead, "I'm glad too." She runs her fingers through his tousled hair. "But Mulder, you and I need to talk when you're feeling better, but for now I need to get these two home."

"Umm," Mulder sighs, "come see me again tomorrow?"

"I wouldn't be anywhere else." Scully kisses his lips and picks up the baby. "William, come on, its time to go."

William is nowhere to be found. Suddenly Scully hears water being splashed. She opens the bathroom door to find William playing in the toilet with his horse. "William! What do you think you're doing?" She demands.

Will looks up at his mother with his bright, blue eyes and says, "Gibbin' ma howse a baff."

Mulder lays back and closes his eyes and laughs until it hurts.

~ 07 Squeak ~

It starts out as a typical day in the Mulder household, the planets are not aligned, the moon isn't full, it isn't even a pagan holiday, but it might as be, because things are about to change.

"Dana, Dana, honey it's me, are you home?" Maggie Scully yells from her daughter's kitchen door.

"I'm in here mom," Scully yells back from the family room.

Maggie walks in to find Dana standing in the middle of a mass of toys strewn about everywhere. Katherine and William are playing together in the middle of the mess, she is laying on the floor while Will sits next to her acting nonchalant, then he pounces at her and yells, "Boo!" The baby cackles in delight.

Maggie smiles, "They look happy."

William says, "Boo," again and Katherine shrieks in laughter.

Scully sits down with a basket of laundry in front of her. "This has gone on for fifteen minutes."

Once again William yells, and his sister is sent into fits of laughter.

"I think I have something that might put an end to this." Maggie leaves the room and comes back with a used bouncing horse. It's one of the older ones on a metal frame, held up by four huge metal springs. Will takes one look at it and races over to see it. "Zat mine, gwamma, zat mine?" He asks jumping up and down.

Maggie lifts her grandson up and sits him on the well-worn, plastic seat. "Of course it is William, I bought it for you."

Maggie turns to Scully, "You don't mind, do you, Dana? It was at the church rummage sale and no one wanted it, so I got it for a dollar."

Scully tosses her hand in the air, "If it keeps him in one place for awhile, I'm all for it."

Will can't figure out how to make it go, so Maggie tells him to bounce up and down on it, but there just isn't enough boy to move it. Finally Maggie has him rock back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, soon Will gets the hang of it and he's off to the races, so to speak, but each time he bends foreword, the large springs squeak, and each time he bends backward, the large springs squeak.

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Maggie kisses her granddaughter and daughter good bye, then tries to kiss her grandson, but she can't get him to slow down long enough to kiss him too.

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Scully finishes folding the clothes, and picks up all the toys, to the monotonous tune of William and his bouncing horse. squeak-squeak squeak-squeak squeak-squeak

By now its lunchtime and Mulder has just walked in the house. He picks his daughter up off the kitchen floor and kisses Scully.

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"What's for lunch?" He asks.

"I thought we would have cold chicken, left over from last nights dinner."

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"Sounds good to me," Mulder replies as he carries Katherine to her highchair.

squeak-squeak squeak-squeak squeak-squeak Scully is busy setting the table and pulling food out of the refrigerator.

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"Scully, you should have been in class today, you would have loved it, one of my skeptics got into a heated debate with one of my believers. . ."

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Mulder suddenly stops, "What the hell is that squeaking?"

Scully places a bottle of water in front of Katherine. "That sound is coming from your son."

Mulder frowns, "I suggest we oil him."

Scully sighs, "I've already tried that, it didn't do any good. His springs are just too big."

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Mulder gets the strangest look on his face as Scully continues, "You think this is bad, I've had to listen to this for the past two hours."

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Mulder grabs her by the shoulders and looks down into her eyes, "Scully, what are you talking about?"

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"Mom bought William a bouncing horse at the church rummage sale and he's been riding it ever since, and he's driving me nuts with all that squeaking."

Katherine is trying to reach a piece of the cold chicken sitting on the table. Scully catches her and moves the dish out of the way, making Katherine unhappy.

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Mulder walks into the family room and sure enough, William is putting that bouncing horse through its paces.

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William spots his father. "See," squeak "ma," squeak "howse."

"I see that William, that's a fine horse you've got there," Mulder smiles.

"I," squeak "yike," squeak "it!"

"I noticed that, but mom has lunch ready." Mulder begins to lift Will off the horse, but he is having none of that.

"No!" William yells, and continues to rock back and forth, squeaking as he goes.

"But Will, mom wants you to eat."

"I," squeak "not," squeak "hun-gee."

Mulder walks back into the kitchen. Scully looks up from feeding a spoonful of pureed corn to Katherine. "Well, where is he?" She asks.

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Mulder nonchalantly sits down, "He's not hungry right now, but when he is, he'll eat."

Scully glares at him, "Mulder, you're his father, make him come in."

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"Oh, so you want me to be the bad cop?"

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"Yes, for a change, I do," Scully says, shoveling more pureed corn into Katherine's mouth, "I'm always the bad cop."

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"Well, it's not going to be me. Missing one meal won't kill him."

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"Fine, when he's hungry, he'll eat," Scully huffs.

"Fine." Mulder snaps back.

Sometime after lunch, while Scully is putting Katherine down for her nap, Mulder slips Will a chicken leg, which he munches on while riding his horse.

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The squeaking continues on for hours, Mulder ducks out on the pretense of picking up dinner while Scully has to stay behind and listen to it. squeak-squeak squeak-squeak squeak-squeak

Finally around 7PM, William crawls off the horse to eat a few bites of spaghetti then promptly falls asleep at the table. Mulder picks him up and carries him to his room. Scully comes in and begins to undress her son. Mulder marvels at how her deft little fingers could undress, wash up, and dress the kids without ever waking them up. He has to wonder if she could do that to him.

They each kiss their son and leave his room. Scully leans against Mulder, "I need two Tylenol and a stiff drink, but I'll settle for the Tylenol." Mulder chuckles.

"Tell you what, why don't you go take a hot shower. I've got some work to do, then I'll lock up and join you up here," he says, kissing her nose for emphasis.

"Sounds good to me," Scully yawns.

Around 10PM, Mulder walks in the bedroom, pulling his shirt over his head he finds Scully sitting against the headboard reading a medical journal. "I thought you would be asleep by now."

Scully lowers the periodical and eyes the man undressing before her. "Oh no, Mulder," she seductively smiles, "I've got plans for you."

Mulder shrugs out of the rest of his clothing, crawls under the sheet and blankets and shuts out the lights. Soon all that can be heard is a few giggles and a lot of moans.

Sometime later, Mulder sighs, "Scully, that was wonderful," as she lies across his chest, running her hand up and down his ribs. "Scully, wasn't that wonderful?" This time, Mulder says it as a question.

"Oh yeah, it was good."

"Good? Just good?"

"Mulder, did you ever hear an Abba song, then for the rest of the day you can't get the damn thing out of your head, and it drives you nuts."

"Scully, what does that have to do with our making love?"

"Well, um," Scully begins to stammer, "your pace was similar to that damn horse of Will's and well, I swear, I could hear squeaking."

"Scully, if you heard squeaking while I was making love to you, then I'm in serious need of a check-up."

"No Mulder, it's not you. It's like the heart in Edgar Allen Poe's story."

"So, you want me to bury Will's horse beneath our floorboards?"

Scully is getting exasperated, "No! It's just that, it's so difficult to forget a sound that you have been exposed to all day long."

Mulder pulls her close and begins to rub her arm. "Look Scully, I'm sure by tomorrow, the newness will have worn off and William will be back to annoying his sister and getting into my fish tank."

"Let's hope so," Scully mumbles, as she drops off to sleep.

7AM came fast in the Mulder household. Scully rolls over to find her bed empty, she stretches and crawls out, headed for the bathroom. She next checks on her daughter, Katherine is wide-awake but entertaining herself with her toys. Scully scoops her up then it hits her. . .

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She drops her head and with a mock cry says, "Will it never end, Katherine?" The baby hiccups. Soon Scully has her daughter changed and dressed. She carries her downstairs and into the kitchen, where Mulder is leaning against the counter, holding out a mug of coffee. Scully puts Katherine in her highchair and snags the steaming mug from Mulder. "Thanks."

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"I thought you might need that."

"Add a wee dram of whiskey and you've got that right."

Katherine is sitting in the middle of the family room playing with her soft toys, while William is riding the old bouncing horse for all it's worth.

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Scully is in the office checking the Email and occasionally checking back on the kids.

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Katherine grows tired of her toys and decides she wants to get a closer look at William's horse so she crawls over to the bouncing horse. Will stops just before he crashes into her head.


Scully's head snaps up at the silence that fills the house, and sighs. She figures he has finally grown tired of the horse then she hears, "Mom, da bee-bee is twyin' to wide ma howse!" It finally sinks in what Will is saying, in a flash, she is in the family room looking at her daughter holding herself up by a front hoof on the horse. She scoops the baby up just before Will bends foreword. Katherine is not happy with the intrusion; she stiffens up and begins to bawl.

"Come on baby, don't you give me grief over that horse too," Scully says, kissing her daughter's cheek.

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"Mom, I wanna watch da chit-monks," Will yells. Scully's face lights up, "But you can't Will, not while you're on your horse." She knows the horse isn't facing the TV. There is silence from the family room, then the sound of the TV being turned on and the channels being changed. Scully puts Katherine in her highchair and gives her a few dry Cheerios to eat. Finally the restful sounds of the Chipmunk's theme drifts through the air. Scully walks to the entrance of the family room, expecting to see Will sitting on the floor in front of the TV, but no, instead the pajama-clad toddler is attempting to drag the damn bouncing horse around so it faces the TV! She drops her head and walks over to help her son; then picks him up and sets him back on his horse. He gives her that Mulder grin, the one that always melts her heart, and takes off...

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By noon Katherine is down for an early nap, Scully wonders if it was just to get away from the squeaking.

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Mulder walks in the kitchen door and groans, "Shit! I was hoping this little obsession of his was over."

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Scully is sitting at the table, one hand propping up her head and the other clutching her coffee cup. "Mulder, we have got to do something." Scully's voice rises as she rises from the chair and looks up at her partner, "He's driving me nuts!"

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Mulder pulls Scully to him; she wraps her arms around his waist and groans as he pats her hair. "Scully, why don't you go see your mom for a few hours, I'll watch the kids."

Scully pulls away from him and snags his keys off the counter, "Okay, see ya later."

Mulder recovers from his shock before she hits the back door, "Hey, wait!"


"I thought you wouldn't go!"

"Nope, see ya."

"Scully! You can't leave me here with this, this, horse!"

"Get used to it!" Scully yells from the garage.

Mulder leans against the counter and wonders how the day suddenly went so wrong.

Scully returns several hours later, the house is quiet, not a squeak can be heard. Katherine is crawling around on the kitchen floor and motors over to greet her mother. Scully picks the baby up and kisses her soft, curly, brown head. "Are you all alone?" She asks her daughter, carrying her into the hallway. A soft whir can be heard coming from the family room. She walks in to find Mulder down on his hands and knees with William next to him; they are both sitting amid a maze of black racecar tracks. The thing covers her entire family room floor. "Mulder, why was Katherine in the kitchen?"

Will never looks up from watching his father tinkering with a small car. "Da bee-bee boke da twak."

Scully purses her lips to keep from laughing, "Mulder?"

Mulder puts the car on the track and off it goes, Will claps and tries to put another car on. Mulder crawls off the floor and takes Katherine from Scully's arms and tosses her into the air. The baby shrieks with laughter. "Hey Scully, did you just get home?"

Scully crosses her arms, "Yes, I did, but Mulder I don't hear any squeaking."

Katherine is trying to put her fingers in her father's mouth, but Mulder pulls her hand down, "That's because I took Will to the toy store and we bought this freaking big, race track!"

Scully looks around, "Freaking big is right."

"Da-dee come hep me!" William complains.

Mulder hands Katherine to her mother, "Coming."

Mulder crouches down next to Will, "Here let me do that." He puts another car on the track and off it goes. Will claps in delight.

Soon Mulder and William are racing each other and Will is ecstatic each time Mulder's car wipes out.

Scully carries Katherine into the office to change her diaper. Mulder walks in with a smug look on his face as he leans into her. "Enjoying the quiet?"

Scully grabs a clean, one-piece sleeper and starts to dress the baby. "Where did the horse go?"

Mulder shrugs, as he plays with Katherine's tiny toes, "I don't know, Frohike kidnapped it while we were at the toy store, he said he'd take care of it."

Will runs into the office, "Come pay wiff me da-dee!"

"Sure son," Mulder turns on his heels and follows William out of the room.

Scully picks up the baby and looks into her dark eyes. "Looks like it's just you and me kid," she says patting Katherine's diapered bottom.

Mulder and Will spend the rest of the day racing their cars and Will actually pauses long enough to eat some dinner.

The sun is starting to set when Scully sees a familiar car pulling up. She walks to the family room, "Mulder, Skinner is coming up the drive."

Mulder crawls off the floor, leaving Will to race alone, "I wonder what he wants?"

Scully opens the garage door so Skinner can come in the back door. Mulder pulls the door open to find a grinning Walter Skinner standing there holding the damn bouncing horse! He walks in and puts it down, "Look what I found! It was sitting beside a dumpster, no one wanted it so, I grabbed it for William," Skinner beams.

Scully looks at Mulder with him returning the look.

Skinner takes off his trench coat and tosses it over the chair. "Isn't it great! I always wanted one of these big ones when I was a kid. Of course, it will need cleaned up, you never know where this has been."

"Oh, I've got a good idea," Scully mutters as she walks past Mulder.

Will comes in the kitchen to see what all the commotion is about. He takes one look at the horse and breaks out in a big grin, "Oh boy! Ma howse!"

Skinner lifts the little boy up onto the horse and Will immediately begins to rock back and forth.

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"Hey, he already knows how to ride one of these, how about that!"

Mulder is leaning against the counter with his feet crossed at the ankles and his hands behind him braced on the counter. He glances to his left at Scully who is trying hard to force a smile across her face.

It's after 9PM at the Mulder household, the house is buttoned down for the night, but if you listen closely you can still hear...

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~ 08 The Speech ~


Fox Mulder has just gotten home from teaching at the academy. He walks in his office to find William playing with his farm animals while Katherine is trying to eat the eyes off her Raggedy Ann doll. Scully is sitting against the arm of his old leather couch with her sock clad feet drawn up and her knees being used as a desk. She is lost in her own thoughts, scribbling on a yellow legal pad.

"Hey, anyone home?" Scully jumps and Mulder smiles.

"Oh sorry, I didn't hear you."

"That's apparent," Mulder chuckles.

Scully jumps up and grabs a letter off the coffee table. "Look at this," she says handing the letter to Mulder. She puts her hands on her hips and waits in anticipation for Mulder's reaction.

"Well congratulations," he says pulling her over and kissing the crown of her head.

"I couldn't believe it when it arrived. The FBI wants me to speak at their symposium in San Francisco."

"That's quite an honor Scully, you've worked hard for this."


"So what are you going to speak on?"

"I was thinking, maybe the affect of Ritalin in the older child and the corresponding rise in crime statistics by those using it."

"Sounds good," Mulder nods.

"I thought we could make it a week in San Francisco, the kids would love it."

Mulder sits down on the couch, "Scully, I can't leave my class. I just got back from six weeks medical leave." Scully sits down next to him, her hopes about to be dashed.

"Look, there is no reason you should miss this. I can take care of Will and Katherine and your mom can watch them until I get home, she loves to baby sit."

Scully looks down at the letter in her hand, "I don't know, Mulder."

He wraps his arm around her waist. "Scully, you earned this, go, and the audience deserves to be blown away by the evils of Ritalin."

Scully laughs, "I guess five days isn't that long."

Suddenly Katherine starts to bawl, Will has just slapped her for messing up his farm.

"Will, don't hit your sister," Scully says.

"But she boke ma toys," he sticks out his bottom lip and begins to cry.

Mulder gets up, "You take the little one and I'll get the big one."

Scully' scoops up Katherine and wipes her tears away then heads upstairs with her.

Mulder picks up William, cradling the toddler to him. "Shhh, it's okay, buddy. Don't cry."

Will gulps in a few breaths and wipes his eyes with the back of his hands. Mulder carries him to the guest bathroom and sets him on the counter to clean his face and hands. "It's okay Will, but Katherine is a baby and you shouldn't hit her."

Will draws in a shaky breath, "But she boke ma toys."

"I know she did," Mulder says looking down at his son's face, "but I'll help you set it up again." Will reaches out and wraps his arms around his father's neck and yawns. "Feel better?" Mulder softly asks.

"Um hum," Will says.

"I love you, William." Mulder quietly tells his son.

"Me too." William replies. Mulder's face is covered in a huge grin.

Mulder carries William to the kitchen. Scully soon meets them there carrying Katherine, who is now dressed in her sleeper.

"Want a bottle?" Mulder asks Scully.

"Yeah, and I remember when that offer from you had an entirely different connotation."

Mulder flashes Scully a smile and pulls a bottle out of the fridge.

Scully puts the bottle in the microwave while Mulder sets Will on his booster seat. "You want a juice box Will?" He nods his head. Scully pulls a box of juice out of the fridge and sets it down in front of William as Mulder hands her the warm bottle for Katherine. She takes it and pokes it in the baby's mouth.

Mulder opens the juice box and puts the straw in it. Will greedily drinks the liquid.

Scully looks at her children and shakes her head. "I'm not going, Mulder."

"Why?" Mulder frowns. "You can't handle these two at once."

Mulder slumps back in his chair and fingers the straw wrapper. "So you're saying only you have the ability to care for Will and Katherine."

"No, I don't mean it like that."

"Scully, that not only is a sexist statement, it's not true. When you had the flu, I took care of them and when you're called in to the bureau, I watch them."

Scully looks down at the drowsy baby in her arms and her sleepy son finishing his juice. "I think we had better put him to bed before we find him sleeping in the pantry."

Mulder laughs. "Let me take her," h e lifts Katherine from Scully's arms and heads up the backstairs to his daughter's room.

Scully drapes her arm over William's chair back. "You ready to take your nap?" She softly asks.

Will looks up at her, "I wan you ta wock me."

Scully's face breaks out in a large smile. "I love rocking my little boy." She lifts William up and carries him to the office. She sits down in the glider and he is soon fast asleep.

Mulder comes in the office, "Here," he whispers, "let me take him upstairs."

He turns to leave when Scully says, "Mulder, I'm going to make my plane reservations."

Mulder nods, "I'm glad, you'll do great."

"And so will you," Scully affirms.

Sunday- two weeks later

"Scully hurry up, your flight leaves in less than two hours."

Scully comes downstairs adjusting her charcoal gray pantsuit. "I wasn't sure this would fit after carrying two kids."

"You look great, now come on," Mulder says, holding Katherine.

"I need my notebook," Scully says, as she turns to retrieve it.

"No you don't. I packed it in the SUV, everything is in there but you."

Scully looks at her watch, "Mulder, where's Will?"

"In the SUV. Now either you can walk out and I'll carry Katherine or she can crawl out and I'll carry you."

"Okay, okay," Scully sighs, "let's go."

Mulder pulls the front door shut and opens the back door on his Expedition. He settles the baby into her car seat and closes the door. Will is already buckled into his own car seat and has been entertaining himself peering into a kaleidoscope.

Mulder pulls out of the driveway and heads to the airport. He glances over, "Are you nervous Scully? You look a little nervous and there is really no need to be..."

Scully looks at him with a frown on her face, "Mulder, shut up."

They finally reach the airport and make it to Scully's gate just before they begin to load. Scully takes Katherine from Mulder and holds her tight. Mulder sees Scully's eyes begin to grow red and moist. He's not sure she will ever get on the plane. "Scully, it's okay, I will take good care of them."

"What?" Scully has been staring into space. "Oh Mulder, it's not that."

"What is it then?" He asks, as he leans into her.

Scully rubs her cheek over her daughter's soft, curly, brown hair. "Mulder, the last time I took a flight without you was when I flew back from North Carolina." Tears start to flow.

Mulder wraps his arm around her. "Scully, it's over, we've moved on. Now get on that plane and go to San Fran and make me and Katherine, and William, where ever he is..." Mulder says looking around for his son, "proud." Will is standing a few feet away watching the planes taking off.

Scully wipes away the tears just as boarding is called. "I will."

Mulder takes Katherine from her. Scully kisses the baby's chubby cheek, "Be good for dad, Katherine." She calls Will over and stoops down, "Will, you be good while I'm gone." She kisses his cheek and hugs him as he softly replies, "Ah will."

She stands up to face Mulder. He smiles down at her, "What will you give me if I'm good?"

Scully nervously laughs, "It's what I won't give you, if you're bad."

"I'll be good," Mulder quickly says, then bends down to kiss her lips.

"I miss you already," she says, then gathers up her carry-on luggage and disappears.

Later that same evening-

Will is sitting on the floor, next to his sister, playing peek-a-boo. He covers his head with her doll blanket and pulls it off yelling, "Boo!" Katherine howls with laughter.

Mulder has been busy, he folded a load of clothes, put away the clean dishes and put the kids down for their nap. While they slept he did his paperwork for the next days class. So far things have gone well.

"Hey guys," Mulder turns to face his children, "how about beans and weenies for dinner. How does that sound?"

Will looks up a his father, "Momma says, we haffa have sompin' gween to eat."

Mulder frowns at his son, "Okay, we'll have green Jell-O too."

"Okay!" Will readily agrees.

Mulder walks back into the kitchen mumbling, "How the hell does he know what's green?"

The kids are served up beans and weenies and lime Jello cups. "Here Will, let me set you on your booster seat," Mulder says as he lifts the little boy up. "You want some iced tea?"

Will shakes his head, "Momma says, Ah gots to dwink milk."

"Okayyyy," Mulder nods as he opens the refrigerator door. "How about chocolate milk?"

"Yeah!" Will agrees.

Mulder pulls out the chocolate milk and fills Will's plastic cup with the snap on lid and drinking straw. He next fills Katherine's bottle with chocolate milk. He hands it to the little girl sitting in the highchair and she chugs it down.

The phone rings and Mulder picks up the cordless. "Hello."

"Mulder, it's me."

"Scully, did you get there okay?"

"Yes I did and I just checked in. They did provide me with a nice room."

"That's great."

"How are the kids?"

"They're fine."

"Can I talk to Will?"

"Sure," Mulder says. "Here Will, mom is on the phone and wants to talk to you."

"Okay," Will says, not sure what is going on as his father hands him the phone. He puts it to his ear and listens, like the adults do.

"William, sweetie, its mom."

"Mom!" Will looks up at Mulder. "It's mom," he grins.

"I know," Mulder laughs. "Talk to her."

Will puts the phone back up to his ear, "Hi."

"Hi Will," Scully laughs. "What are you doing?"

"Eatin'," Will says, as Mulder waves both of his hands at his son, not wanting Scully to know his choices for dinner.

"What are you eating?"

"Bees and weeies and gween Jell-O," William spouts.

Scully frowns, "William, is Katherine eating beans and weenies too?"

"No, she's dwinkin' choco miwk," Will volunteers.

Mulder rolls his eyes, he knows he's in the deep shit now.

"Will, can I talk to daddy?"

Will hands Mulder the phone but not before he kisses it and says, "Bye."

"Ah, hey Scully, we're doing just fine."

"Beans and weenies, and green Jell-O?"

"The Jell-O was Will's idea."

"Mulder, I'll only be here five days, try to get at least one proper meal a day into them."

"Will do Scully. When your mom is here I'll have her feed them."

"Good idea."



"I miss you."

"I miss you too Mulder. Kiss the kids for me, I had better hang up."

"Okay, call whenever you get the chance."

"I will."

Mulder hangs up the phone and turns to face his children. "Let's eat!"

Monday ~

Scully is just leaving the sign-in table after having taken part in the continental breakfast. She decides to check on the kids and dials her home phone on her cell.

"Hello, Mulder residence."

"Mom, it's me."

"Dana, how good to hear from you. How are you doing?"

"I'm fine, how's Will and Katherine?"

"They're fine. We're just getting ready to eat lunch."

"What are they eating?"

"Well, Katherine has a jar of macaroni and cheese and a half jar of pureed peas, while Will and I are eating boxed macaroni and cheese and canned peas."

Scully sighs, "Thank goodness you're feeding them a decent meal."

"Why, isn't Fox cooking for them?"

"Yes, but his meal choices lack something."

Maggie laughs, "Dana, why don't I fix dinner and put it in a crock pot before I leave."

"I'm sure Mulder would appreciate that."

"They're doing well Dana, don't worry."

"I'm not mom, I'm just concerned."

"Well don't be, we're fine."

"Okay, I'll, um, talk to you tomorrow then."

"Alright, I'll talk to you then and try not to worry."

"I will, bye."

"Bye, dear."

Scully hangs up the phone and looks at the symposium itinerary.


Scully is getting up from her chair, where she has sat for the past two hours, along with sixty other people, listening to a salesman describe the latest tools available to pathologist, when her cell phone rings.


"Hey Scully, it's me."

"Mulder is everything alright?"

"Just fine Scully, just fine. I fed the kids a great dinner, homemade chicken and noodles, green beans, and dinner rolls."

Scully has to smile, "And you made all that?"

"Oh yeah," Mulder lies, "I'm a better cook than you give me credit for."

"Well, that's great Mulder, when I get home I want you to make chicken and noodles for me."

"Mulder, are you there?"

"Yeah, ah, sure I'll do that."

"Did you want something?"

"Yeah, do you know where Will's green tub frog is, he won't bath without it."

Scully frowns, "He doesn't have a green tub frog."

"Humm, wonder what he was saying then."

"Are you sure he isn't saying, his Great Dane dog? He has a basket of plastic dogs that he plays with in the tub."

"Umm, let me ask him." Scully can hear Mulder asking Will about the dog. "That's it Scully, thanks."

"His dogs are under the sink."

"I'll get them."

"How were the kids today?"

"We did just fine, I'm going to bath them and put them to bed. How was your day?"

"It was okay, boring actually."

"Well, maybe tomorrow will be more exciting."

"I hope so."

"Look, I have two naked kids staring at me and you know how dangerous it is to have kids sans diapers around the house."

Scully snickers, "Yeah, I should go."



"We all love and miss you."

"I miss and love all of you too."

"See ya."

"See ya."

Tuesday ~

Scully is up early; she wants to set in on two discussions before lunch. She grabs a coffee and yogurt from the continental breakfast and takes her seat as the first program begins.

Three and half-hours later, she is back in her room just about to eat her room service meal, when her cell rings.


"Scully, it's me."

She immediately knows something is up. "What's happened, Mulder?"

"Now don't panic."

"Dammit Mulder, don't tell me not to panic, did something happen to the kids?"

"No, to your mom."

"My mom?"

"She's okay Scully, or she will be."

"Mulder, tell me what happened!"

"She fell and sprained her ankle."

"How did she do that?"

"Will had his pull-along duck out, she got her foot tangled in the cord and tripped."

"Is she okay. Did she hurt anything else? I'm coming home."

"Whoa Scully, slow down."

"She did it just as I walked in the door. I took her to the ER where they X-rayed it. She has a bad sprain and that's all. They wrapped it and told her to stay off of it."

Scully sighs, "I have to come home, she can't watch William and Katherine."

"No, she can't, but you don't need to come home. I've already taken care of it."

"Mulder, I don't want the kids in daycare."

"I know, and they won't be."

"Well, you can't miss work."

"I'm not. Byers is coming over in the morning to take care of Katherine for four hours and Will is going to class with me."

"Mulder, while I trust Byers, how can you handle Will for four hours in a classroom?"

"Scully, he can bring his toys and play under the desk. We've got a break at ten and maybe I can get him to take his nap. If not my female students will be more than happy to entertain him, he's a real babe magnet."

"Well, babe magnet or not, those women are there to learn, not to baby sit your son."

"Come on Scully, last week we spent valuable time discussing the baseball play-offs."

Scully sighs, "I suppose it will be alright."

"We'll be fine and I'll check on your mom everyday. Don't worry and go out there and give them one hell of a speech."

Scully chuckles, "Mulder, you would make a great cheerleader."

"You're right Scully, I even have the legs for it."

Scully laughs, "I need to work on my speech."

"Yeah, and I need to get Will out of the dryer."


Mulder laughs.

"Mulder, you shit! Don't do that to me."


"I do have to go."

"I miss you."

Scully fingers the pattern on the bedspread; "I miss you too."

Tuesday 6PM PST

Scully has worked on her speech for nearly three hours. She started to work on it shortly after Mulder called, but soon fell into a much-needed sleep. She gets up from the bed, shutting down her notebook she wanders toward the bathroom. There is a film being shown at 7:30 and she has just enough time to clean up and grab a bite before it starts.

Her cell phone rings. "Hello."

"Scully, it's me."

"Hey Mulder, what's up?"

"You know that time Will locked himself in the bathroom."


"I was wondering, how did you get him out?"

"Did William lock himself in the bathroom?"


"I see. Mulder, have you tried your lock pick?"

"No, but that's a good idea. Hey, nice to talk to you but I really have to go."

Scully is now sitting there looking at a dead phone.

She changes her clothes, grabs a bite in the downstairs restaurant and looks in on the film. Ninety minutes later she is standing in the lobby when she decides to see how Mulder fared with Will.


"Mulder, it's me."

"Oh, hey Scully."

"Did you get Will out of the bathroom?"

"Oh sure, piece of cake."

"So everything is fine?"

"Sure. Did you know we had one of those Shop-vacs? They sure do suck up the water."

"Will flooded the bathroom?"

"Well, I wouldn't say it was a flood but the hall carpet got wet, not to worry though, the cleaners said they can get that stain out. Did I tell you we're having the carpets cleaned next week?"

"No, you didn't. There was a stain?"

"Funny isn't it. Who would think grape juice would set like that."

"Will had grape juice in the bathroom?"

"No, no, this stain is in the family room, but not to worry, the cleaners will be here Monday morning, 9AM sharp and they'll look at the hallway while they're here."

"Mulder, I sense a pattern here."

"What! Scully, you're just too suspicious."

"So where are the kids now?"

"Scully, it's after 11PM, they're in their beds of course."

"Where I should be."

"You should get some rest."

"I always sleep better when you're next to me."

"That's nice to hear."

"Well, I'd better go."

"Yeah, me too."

"I love you."

"I love you, too."

Scully closes her phone and wanders what color the stain in her hallway is.


Scully awakes from a restful night. Once she got to sleep, she slept the entire night through. She yawns, runs her fingers through her hair and heads for the shower.

She steps out of the bathroom clad in her robe with a terry wrap on her head, suddenly the phone rings.

"What is it Mulder?"

"Scully, its not Mulder, its me, John Byers."

"Oh Byers, is everything okay?"

"Yes it is. I'm baby sitting with Katherine."

"So I've heard, thanks for helping out."

"No problem Dana, I enjoy being around your children."

"I'm glad I can depend on you."

"Thanks, I do have a question; do you prefer Katherine have pureed bananas from a jar for her lunch, or would you mind if I mixed up some fresh fruit in the blender. It's much better for her to have fresh fruit."

Scully has to hold back a laugh. "No John, that would be fine. So how are you two doing?"

"We're getting along just fine. Mulder had her up and dressed when I arrived, but I felt her clothing was too hot for the house, so I changed her. We played with her dolls and I read to her. I hope you don't mind that I read, Clifford the Big Red Dog, although studies have shown some children are traumatized by the thought of a giant dog."

"No, that's okay, we read that book in our house all the time."

"Good. I thought Katherine was bright enough to tell fiction from reality."

"John, you do realize she is only seven months old."

"Yes, but she is very bright."

"Is there anything else you need?"

"No, we're doing just fine and don't worry, I'll be here tomorrow at 7:35 sharp."

"Thanks, I'm relieved." "Good bye, Dana."

"Good bye, John."

Scully shakes her head, closes her cell and begins to look through her suits.


Scully has spent most of her day polishing her speech. She is scheduled to speak tomorrow night just before the closing remarks.

She has decided to take a trip to the shopping district to try to get her mind off her speech. She spots a shoe store and is soon trying on shoes. She purchases a pair of stunning pumps then its off to a children's specialty shop where she buys William a cargo coat and a pair of deck shoes while Katherine gets a sailor dress that will match the sailor suit that Bill bought for William earlier in the summer.

She stops at a street side cafe for coffee, while she enjoys the coffee, several men are enjoying the view of Scully, but she is unaware. She takes a sip of her coffee just as her cell rings.


"Scully, it's me."

"How's it going, Mulder?"

"Fine, I took the kids over to see your mom. She was glad we stopped by."

"I'll bet she was, she was so looking foreword to watching them."

"I know. She is feeling better though, she even cooked for us."

"Mulder, mom is in no shape to be cooking."

"She just popped a frozen meatloaf in the oven and we made sandwiches out of it."

"So your day went well?"

"Oh yeah, Will went to work with me and he only got loose once, but another instructor caught him and brought him back. I'm still not sure how he got that door open when he can't open the one to the bathroom."

"So he did okay?"

"He was the hit of the day. He played with his toys and announced to the class he had to potty. Everyone laughed, but we did make it to the bathroom in time."

Scully is starting to forget her speech and starting to miss her family.

"Scully, you there?"

"Yeah, it sounds like you're doing well."

"I do have a question."

"What is it?"

"How do you get gum out of hair?"

"Whose gum, in whose hair?"

"That would be William's, and Katherine's."

"How did William get gum?"

"That would be me."

"Mulder, you gave gum to a toddler!"

"Well yeah, you need gum if you want to teach him how to blow bubbles."

"Mulder, you didn't."

"He was doing great until Katherine got too close, then it all went to hell."

Scully sighs and rubs her forehead. "Mulder, all you can do is cut it out, but don't you do it. Run her over to mom's, she's cut her share of gum out of kid's hair and hasn't lost an ear yet."

"You mad at me?"

"I'm not happy, but you are interacting with the kids, but next time try to do it without the gum."

"Okay, I will."



"I still love you."

"As Will would say, me too."

Scully laughs and closes her cell.

Thursday 2:30 PST

Scully is sitting in on an extremely boring seminar dealing with expense accounts. She has to smile at the thought of the way she and Mulder used to stretch the truth, their reports would put Al Capone's bookkeeper to shame. Her cell phone rings, she's glad to have an excuse to leave the room.


"Hey Scully it's me."

"Hello me."

"You're in a good mood."

"One more night and I get to come home."



"If you expect to see William when you get here, you'll have to tell me where he might be hiding."

"Mulder, did you lose our son!" Scully says, suddenly aware of the crowd staring at her. She ducks her head and continues, "Did you call the police, how did this happen?"

"Scully, he's not out of the house. We were playing hide-and-seek. He would hide, and Katherine and I would seek. I have to admit, he is good at it."

"I don't know Mulder, did you check all the cupboards and under the beds. You know how he is when he gets tired."

"That's a good idea, I'll check those out."

"Mulder, call me the minute you find him."

"I will."

Scully looks around a bit sheepish, then straightens her jacket, sticks out her chin and walks to the elevators, all the while her cheeks are turning a crimson red.

Scully slips her key card into the slot when her cell rings. She hurries through the door and pulls out her phone.

"Mulder, did you find him?"

It was just like you said; he was sleeping in the little closet under the stairs. He's lucky he wasn't playing hide-and-seek with you."

"Thank goodness you found him. Did you put him to bed?"

"No, I put a blanket over him and cracked the door."

"I guess that would be best."

"You okay, Scully?"

"I'm a little nervous. I speak in less than four hours."

"Scully, you'll do fine, you're the best of the best."

"I wish you were here to say that."

"You don't need me Scully. You're held in high esteem by your peers and what's more you're respected, now go get 'em."

"Thanks, Mulder."

"Hey Scully, call me just before you go to the podium to speak."

"Mulder, I can't do that."

"Yes you can, humor me."


"Just promise me you'll call. I'll be waiting." "I'll see."

"I had better let you go."


"Call me tonight."

"I'll try."

Scully takes a hot shower and lays out the suit that she brought along just for this night. She doesn't need to change yet but she is nervous and needs to keep busy. She glances at the newspaper and orders a carafe of coffee from room service, knowing full well that she could not keep a meal down even if she ordered one. She settles against the headboard of the bed to go over her speech once more.

Two hours later, she is dressed in her best navy blue blazer and skirt. Her feet are clad in her new shoes and her hair is coiffure to its usual perfection. She grabs her cell and sticks it in her blazer pocket, more out of habit than from Mulder's request. She picks up her notes and key card and walks out the door. She is nervous as hell, but she keeps Mulder's words in the back of her mind, 'you're the best of the best'.

She stands at the edge of the curtain, awaiting her introduction when suddenly she remembers Mulder's request. She takes out her cell and hits the speed dial.


"Mulder, it's me, what did you want?"

"To hear your speech."

"Mulder, I don't have time for this."

"Sure you do Scully, just don't turn off your phone."


"I said, don't turn off your phone."

"I know what you said."

"Just lay your phone on the podium and I can hear your speech."

Scully smiles and whines, "Mulder."

"Scully, they just introduced you."

Scully looks up to see the man at the podium clapping and motioning for her to come out. She stoically walks to the dais and places her cell and notes down on the podium.

Mulder is sitting in front of the lit fireplace in the family room while Katherine and William are quietly playing with Katherine's dolls in front of the French doors. Mulder moves foreword on the couch and braces his elbows on his knees. From the nervous energy he generates, one would think he was delivering the speech. He listens to Scully's every word and smiles when the crowd laughs at the appropriate times. He grows quiet when the crowd does, both being caught up in what Scully is saying. He finally relaxes and leans back against the couch and enjoys the rest of her speech. Some thirty minutes later as William and Katherine sleep among the toys, Scully's speech comes to an end, to much applause.

She thanks those assembled and picks up her cell. As she walks off the stage she asks, "Mulder, how do you think I did?"

There is silence for a few moments then Mulder says, "Scully, I am so proud of you."

Scully beams, "Thanks, I think knowing you were there helped ease the jitters."

"Well, I'm glad I could help, but I meant it when I said I wanted to hear your speech."

Scully finds a quiet corner, "We always find a way to do things together, don't we."

"As often as possible, speaking of which, when are you coming home?"

"As soon as possible," Scully grins

"It won't be soon enough."

"I'd better go, they're bringing the symposium to an end."

"I'll be waiting when you get here and Scully..."


"You really did do a great job."

"Thanks, see you soon."

Mulder puts both kids to bed. Katherine is dressed in her fleecy pajamas and tucked into the crib in her own room. He has dug out a small stocking cap and put it on the baby, he's afraid her little bare head will get cold. He knows Scully's eyes are going to tear up when she sees the baby's butch haircut, courtesy of her son.

Will, for some unknown reason, decided he hates to wear his pajama bottoms so he sleeps in just the top. Mulder tucks an extra blanket around him in case he gets cold in the night.

He kisses each of his children good night and heads for the master bedroom. He undresses as he walks to the bathroom then closes the door and steps in the shower. The jets of hot water ease his aching muscles. Once he's done he towels off and pulls on a pair of flannel pajama bottoms.

He starts to turn down the bed when he stops; he turns out the light, grabbing his pillow, he heads downstairs. He enters the office and turns on the speakers that run from each kid's bedroom, courtesy of the Lone Gunman. The glow of the aquarium provides ample illumination so he doesn't turn on a light. He toss his pillow on the end of the old leather couch and slumps down on it, rubbing his eyes he spots a framed photo hanging on the wall. It's the one that once hung on the bulletin board in the old office. He stares at the young woman who stands beside him, amazed that she is now his and he is hers. He lays his head down on the pillow and pulls the Indian blanket over himself and soon falls asleep.

Scully slips her key in the lock on the kitchen door and enters her home. She didn't want to wait until morning to fly out, so she took the first available seat headed to DC. She slips off her new shoes; not even taking the time to change clothes after the symposium. Scully piles her bags and notebook on the counter and slips up the backstairs.

She enters William's room first and finds him asleep, curled up in a tight little ball. She kisses his forehead and pulls the blanket up. Next she walks into Katherine's room and turns on the Pooh nightlight, seeing the knit cap on the baby's head, she sighs and says, "This must be bad." She pulls off the cap and runs her hand over what was once a head full of beautiful brown curls but is now shorter than Will's hair. She sighs and realizes her mother did the best job possible, but does wish she could have seen Katherine's first haircut. She kisses the baby and turns to shut out the light when she spots a little envelope with her name on it sitting on the dresser. She opens it to find a few soft brown curls; her mother must have saved them for her. She smiles and takes the envelope with her as she leaves the room.

Scully walks across the hall to the room she shares with Mulder, but finds it empty. She checks the bathroom, but doesn't find him there either, so she walks downstairs in search of him.

She enters the office and spots him sleeping on the couch. She walks over and crouches down next to him, running her fingers through his sable brown, hair. He stirs but doesn't wake.

Scully returns upstairs, coming back down a few minutes later with her face scrubbed and dressed in one of Mulder's old T-shirts. She gently lifts the blanket, sliding in next to him; she wraps his arm around her and kisses his hands. He moves slightly and tightens his grip on her. "When did you get home?" He asks in a gravelly voice.

"Just minutes ago."

"I thought you were coming home tomorrow."

"I was, but I didn't"

"I'm glad," Mulder slurs, pulling her tight against him.

"Why aren't you in our bed?"

"It's too big and empty."

"You want to go upstairs?"

"Not really, I like sleeping here with you."

"Umm, I like it too."

"Did you see Katherine's hair?"

"You mean the pieces in the little envelope, yes I saw it."

"I'm sorry."

"Me too, but these things happen."

"Scully, you think we'll survive these two and grow old together?"

"I'm banking on it." "I'm glad you came home early."

"Me too."

"Night Scully."

"Night Mulder."

~ 09 Friends ~

Scully pulls into her driveway tired and drained from a day at the bureau. She had been asked to assist on several autopsies, but knew full well that she would not be assisting, she would be expected to come up with the answers no one else could, and she is happy to say she did.

It's after six PM and all she wants to do is see her kid's, kiss Mulder and get something for the headache she has developed. As she rounds the curve in the drive she notices another vehicle parked in front of her white brick home. It can't be, but it is, the Lone Gunman are here.

She opens the garage door and pulls her SUV in. She steps from the vehicle and into her kitchen, "Mulder I'm home." She gets no answer. "Something smells good." She peeks in the pot on the stove, and finds it filled with beef stew from a can, but at least he's tried.

"Frohike, if you don't stop doing that she's gonna puke all over you." Mulder says, as he walks into the kitchen, nearly running into Scully. "Oh hey Scully, I didn't hear you come in."

William comes running in, out of breath. "Da-dee, Langee is chasin' me!" He screams and runs around the island counter to hide.

"Mulder..." Scully doesn't get the next words out because Langley comes in the kitchen on all fours, roaring like a lion. William shrieks and runs from behind the counter. Langley grabs him and pretends to bite his tummy while carrying him out of the kitchen. Will is howling in laughter, "Da-dee hep meeeeee!"

Scully puts one hand on the counter and one on her hip and looks up at her partner. "Mulder, just what is going on around here?"

Mulder opens a cupboard and pulls out some bowls. "I made dinner but its not quite ready yet, I've got a salad to make and a loaf of bread to warm up."

Scully stops him from digging out the silverware, "No, I mean why are the guys here?"

Mulder shrugs, "I don't know, they wanted to see the kids and you know how Will loves to see them come over."

"Mulder, Will loves to see them come over because it's like having three big third graders for him to play with."

Mulder looks down; "I did kind of invite them to dinner."

Scully runs her tongue over her bottom lip and stirs the stew. "You better open another can of this then."

"So they can stay?"

"Look, you brought them home, so you have to feed and care for them. I'm going to take Katherine upstairs with me to take a bath, save me some stew."

Mulder quickly pulls her to him and kisses her lips. "Thanks Scully, you're the best."

"I don't know about that, but they have been good to us and William does love to see them." Scully wraps her arms around Mulder's waist and he kisses her once more before releasing her.

Scully walks into her family room to find Frohike bouncing Katherine on his lap while Langley is wrestling with William and Byers is busy looking through Will's first reading books.

"Hello guys," Scully says.

"Hey Scully," Frohike replies.

"Hello Scully, nice to see you," Byers greets Scully.

"Hey Scully," Langley chimes in.

"Lo Cully!" William screams, while beating on Langley's chest.

Scully rolls her eyes then lifts Katherine from Frohike. "Sorry but Katherine and I need a bath," she says, as she starts to leave the room.

"Any room for me?" Frohike leers.

Scully turns around. "Frohike, do you want me to tell Mulder what you said?"

Frohike swallows hard, "No Ma'am."

She smiles at him and leaves the room.

Mulder appears in the doorway, "Come and get it."

Frohike crawls off the floor, as does Langley. William jumps up with his hands in the air so Langley can lift him up and they both head for the kitchen. Byers puts down a book he has been looking at, "I'd watch it if I were you, Frohike. You could get in some trouble flirting with Scully like you do."

Frohike straightens his striped shirt. "I could take him if I had to, I might be small but I'm wiry."

"Sure," Byers says, brushing past his friend, "just like Barnie Fife."

Will is already sitting on his booster seat next to where Mulder will sit. Langley has the kid so wound up that Mulder is having a hard time settling him down.

"Mulder, can I do anything?" Byers asks.

Mulder looks around while trying to tie Will's bib. "Yeah, get the bread out of the oven, if you would."

"Hey Frohike, maybe Will here will loan you a bib," Langley jokes.

"Shut up Langley," Frohike frowns.

Will parrots, "Shup Langee!"

Frohike laughs.

"Okay, everyone settle down," Mulder demands.

The salad is passed around along with the bread. Mulder fills the deep bowls with stew and sets a pitcher of milk on the table.

"Milk!" Frohike gripes. "You got anything a little stronger?"

Mulder chuckles, "I have chocolate milk."

Frohike frowns, but they all sit down and pass the pitcher around.

Scully has filled her big tub with bubbles and taken her Tylenol. She removes her clothing while Katherine stands beside the tub and tries to eat the bubbles. Scully removes the baby's clothing and diaper then they both slip into the warm water. Katherine is standing on her mother's outstretched legs. "You like this don't you?" The baby bounces up and down and responds in baby jabber. "I miss you when I have to work." The baby looks Scully directly in the eyes and says, "Durrrrr." Scully laughs, "I'll take that as 'I miss you too'."

Scully lets Katherine hang on to the edge of the tub while she pours handfuls of water over her brown, curly hair. She reaches for the baby shampoo and begins to lather up Katherine's head. The baby beats on the edge of the tub and tries to sing, or as Mulder refers to it as 'Scully singing'.

"You like to have your hair washed don't you sweetie, so do I. I love it when your father lathers up my hair and runs his fingers through it massaging my scalp, then he rinses it and squeezes out the water." Scully sighs, "Your father can do wonderful things with those fingers."

"Hey Mulder, remember the first time you brought Scully around to meet us?" Langley asks, stuffing a chunk of bread into his mouth.

"How could I forget it, Frohike nearly got me killed."

"Can I help it if Scully was hot, and still is I might add."

"Cully's hot!" Will yells.

Everyone roars with laughter.

"Frohike, you should watch what you say around the youngster."

"Will you lighten up Byers," Frohike frowns

"So tell us Mulder, you thought Dana was hot back in the day, didn't you?" Langley pries. Mulder blushes and smiles, shrugging his shoulders he says, "I don't know, I guess so, yeah."

"That's quite a commitment," Frohike teases.

Mulder takes a drink of milk, "Scully was just always Scully."

William yells, "Cully!"

Don't let your mother hear you calling her that." Mulder says, tweaking William's nose.

"So when did you know Scully was the one for you, Mulder?" Langley asks, scooting his chair up closer to the table.

Mulder blushes, "Langley, when did you stop minding your own business?"

"Come on, Mulder," Frohike chides, "'fess up."

Mulder plays with his empty milk glass, "I think it came in bits and pieces. The first few cases, when she took all the shit I threw at her..."

"Shit," William yells with a big grin oh his face.

"Shhh," Mulder corrects. "Then when she was taken..."

The room grows quiet. Mulder slumps back in his chair and looks at his glass. "When she was returned, I, I couldn't believe I was that lucky, but she got cancer." Mulder lifts Will from his seat and holds him on his lap. "I never felt so helpless, but somehow together, we met that challenge too." Mulder rubs his chin on his son's fuzzy head. "By then, I knew I never wanted anyone else, even if I couldn't have her."

"She sure was sick," Byers softly says. Frohike gets up on the pretense of refilling his bowl but everyone can hear him blowing his nose.

"Anyway, things between us began to change and we both were ready at the same time. I can't explain it, I doubt I ever can."

"You're one lucky son of a bitch, you know that Mulder." Frohike says, returning to his chair.

"Son o' beech!" William yells.

"Guys really, watch what you're saying or Scully isn't going to let us come back here," Byers pleads.

"So how did you get her to agree to marry you?" Langley asks.

"Well it didn't hurt that I was already the father of her child," Mulder laughs and looks down at William, who is currently chewing on a chunk of bread.

"Damn, I should have thought of that," Frohike teases. Mulder glances over at the myopic little man.

Byers leans foreword and grins, "So how did you ask her?"

Mulder gives Will a bite from his own bowl then puts him back into his booster seat. He leans back and laces his fingers behind his head and looks up at the ceiling with a smile on his face. "We were driving back from a visit to Will's doctor, he had just gotten his shots and was cranky, it was raining, we were stuck in traffic and Scully was pissed at me for something I had done earlier. I looked out the side window and thought, what the hell, I turned to her and said, 'Scully, you wanna get married?'"

"And she said yes?" Byers jumps in.

Mulder smiles and says, "I swear, she looked at me and said, 'to you'? We both realized the absurdity in her response and began to laugh like idiots."

"And she said yes?" Byers asks again.

Mulder smiles and nods, "She said yes."

"So why didn't you guys have a big, fancy wedding?" Langley wants to know.

Mulder shrugs, "It just wasn't our style. I know her mom was disappointed, but she was glad I was making an honest woman out of her daughter."

"Scully's mom is pretty cool." Frohike says, with Byers and Langley agreeing.

"Yeah she is," Mulder adds. "We stopped off at a jewelry store, by this time Will was asleep and the sun had begun to shine but let me tell you, we got some strange looks from that jeweler. Here we were at our age, toting around an infant, trying to buy an engagement ring and wedding bands. Of course when he saw what I was willing to spend, he had no trouble taking my money."

The guys all laugh.

"Three days later Scully, her mom, Skinner, and I were all standing in front of a judge, along with Will." Mulder smiles.

"Skinner!" All the gunman cry.

"Yeah, you didn't expect me to try and choose one of you to be my best man did you? Besides, I doubt anyone except Byers owns a suit."

"So Skinman stood up for you, huh," Frohike says.

"Yes he did, then we left Will with Maggie and flew to New York for the weekend but only made it through one night before we both missed him." Mulder looks over at the child, who is currently cramming potatoes into his mouth. "And that's about it."

"About what?" Scully asks as she carries a now pajama clad Katherine into the kitchen.

"The guys were asking me about our whirlwind romance and subsequent marriage." Mulder smiles up at Scully as she walks behind him to sit next to him.

"Did you tell them you proposed in the middle of a traffic jam?"

"Yes I did and I told them how you responded."

Scully blushes and licks her bottom lip, "Well, my mind was on other things, like William fussing in the back seat and the fact that you ditched me the night before to talk to one of your contacts."

"That's right! That's what you were pissed off at me for."

The guys are enjoying the sparring going on between these two.

Mulder starts to take Katherine from Scully so she can eat, but not before he kisses her cheek and softly laughs. Scully giggles and hands over the baby.

Byers gets up from his chair, "Here Dana, let me get you some stew."

"Thanks John," Scully says as she picks at her salad.

Will is trying to eat his potatoes with his spoon by picking one out of the bowl and placing it on the spoon. Scully leans, "Here sweetie, let me help you." She takes her own spoon and scoops up a bite full and offers it to her son. He eagerly takes it and hums with delight. The guys all look at one another with smiles on their faces.

Mulder is busy bouncing Katherine on his knee and slipping broth from his bowl to her. The baby loves to be seated with her father at the table; she enjoys delicacies that her mother would never give her.

Langley rips off another chunk of bread and says, "So, tell us Scully, why did you choose this big lug?"

Mulder smiles at Scully while she glares at him. "They seem intent on grilling us tonight," Mulder alerts her.

Scully wipes off Will's mouth and looks over at Mulder who is busy trying to keep Katherine from putting her fingers into his bowl. She shrugs, "I don't know, why not."

The Gunman all laugh. "Wow Mulder, she really had it bad for you," Frohike sarcastically says.

Scully blushes, "Well, what do you want me to say, that from the day I met him he rocked my world."

Mulder laughs, "I got to admit Scully, that does sound a lot better."

"Do you want me to tell the truth or not?" Scully teases then sighs, "Okay, when we first met I was scared to death that I wouldn't be able to keep up. I didn't pay any attention to the 'spooky' stories but the ones about his intellect made me wonder if I could compete. After the first few cases I knew we would be a great team if we didn't kill each other first." Scully laughs and continues her story, "Then when I was taken, I knew Mulder would find me." The friends around the table grow quiet. "And when I developed cancer, I knew I wouldn't go through it alone, even though I tried to spare him." Mulder looks down at his empty bowl and clears his throat. "But even then he had a hand in my fate. I think fate brought us together, that and he really is a little spooky," Scully says to add some levity to the room. Mulder finally makes eye contact with her as a grin covers his face.

"So is it just these two or do we see a few more little Mulder's in the future," Langley asks.

"No Langley, I think we're done at least for awhile," Scully smiles.

"We are?" Mulder teases.

"Yes we are!" Scully turns to look at him.

"But if you have one more, then when we come over each of us will have a kid to play with," Langley gripes.

"I don't think we're going to have another child so you have a playmate Langley,"

"Aw Scully, you're no fun." Frohike frowns.

"Don't bet on it." Mulder laughs.

"Mulder!" Scully says, turning a lovely shade of red.

Frohike rests his chin on his bent arm and leans in, "Tell me more!"

"If I want to keep my happy home, I'd better shut up," Mulder says, glancing over at Scully.

"And another thing Mulder," Langley jumps in, "why did you buy this big freakin' house."

"Cause Scully wanted it," Frohike says.

"No, actually I didn't," Scully answers, as she takes a sip of her stew.

"You didn't? Why not Dana, it's a lovely home," Byers says as he looks around.

Mulder wanted it, I thought it was too big and ..."

"Expensive," Mulder adds.

"But we were already cramped in my apartment and Katherine was due in a matter of weeks, so I caved and we bought it."

"And you were moved in courtesy of the Lone Gunman moving company," Frohike winks.

"Yes, and I should have thanked you guys at the time."

"As I recall Scully, you were a little indisposed at the time, about to give birth," Byers jokes.

"Either way I should have thanked you."

The guys all beam.

No one is aware of it but Will had been putting all his carrots from his stew into Langley's bowl, even the ones he has taken out of his mouth.

Scully watches Mulder feed the broth to Katherine but she doesn't say anything to him. "I'm glad we bought it, it's big and roomy but it feels like home."

Langley takes a bite of his stew and frowns but doesn't say anything. Will holds up his bowl, "Da-dee mo' 'tatoes peas."

Mulder hands Katherine to Scully and takes the bowl from his son and scoops out another helping of stew. "Will, this needs to cool, eat your salad for now."

Will picks up the leaves of lettuce and stuffs them into his mouth. He frowns at the oil and vinegar dressing but swallows the bitter lettuce.

Langley laughs, "Hey guys, you remember that time we babysat for Will. We took that big cardboard box and cut holes into it to make him a cage."

"It was not a cage, it was a cardboard playpen." Byers corrects.

"Either way I thought Scully was gonna have our balls when she saw it," Frohike laughs, "but she was cool with it."

Scully just smiles.

Mulder sets the now cool bowl of stew in front of his son. Will takes a bite of the broth and smiles, "Da- dee da bee-bee wikes 'tatoes too."

"She does?" Byers playfully asks the toddler.

"Um hum, an' she wikes sgetties too."

Mulder's eyes grow wide.

"She does?" Scully jumps in. "Who feeds her spaghetti, William?"

Will points the Mulder, "Da-dee does."

Scully looks directly at Mulder. "I wondered what that red stain was on her pink shirt."

Mulder shrugs, "What can I say, Katherine likes Italian food and William has a big mouth."

"Ah gots a big moff." William repeats.

Everyone laughs, even Will.

Byers pushes his bowl away and opens his hands, "Here Dana, let me take her while you eat."

Scully hands her daughter to Byers. "Thanks John, if she fusses just bring her back."

"Oh, we'll do just fine," Byers says, patting Katherine's back, "we're friends."

"Yeah, Byers tells everyone he has a girlfriend named Katherine," Langley teases.

"Well, I do, but not like you use the term girlfriend," Byers corrects before carrying the baby into the family room.

Will is putting his carrots into Langley's bowl. Frohike catches him and smiles, "Hey Langley, do you like carrots?" Langley wrinkles his nose, "Not in particularly, but there sure are a lot in this stew."

Frohike laughs, "Yeah, yours and Will's"

"What?" Langley asks just as Will plops another carrot into his bowl. "What gives, little man?"

Everyone laughs.

"I guess he doesn't like carrots anymore than you do, man."

"No, he doesn't," Mulder says, getting up to lift Will off his booster seat. "He's a meat and potatoes man, not a carrot eater, aren't you Will."

Will rubs his messy hands together and says, "Ah yike 'tatoes."

Mulder sets his son on the counter and washes off his hands and face before removing the bib and setting him down on his feet.

"Langee, be da wion 'gain," Will yells as he runs to the family room.

Scully smiles at her son's antics as she starts to get up, "I don't know about you guys but I could use a cup of coffee."

"Sit down, I'll make it," Mulder says as he pats her shoulder. "You've been on your feet all day."

Scully sits back down as Langley gets up, "None for me, I have a part to play." He runs into the family room growling to the sound of Will's shrieking.

"Be careful Langley, you might be wearing Will's dinner," Scully warns.

Langley yells back, "I'll take that under advisement."

"Coffee Frohike?" Mulder asks.

"Yeah, what the hell, I'm up all night anyway."

Scully looks at him with concern on her face.

Frohike blushes, "I have an enlarged prostate and yes I do see a doctor, Scully."

Mulder sets two mugs down, "Frohike, that's just a little too much information for me."

Frohike takes his mug and warms his hands with it, "Don't be an ass Mulder, you're getting old too and just when was the last time you had your prostate checked?"

"The last time we had sex," Mulder grins at Scully.

"Mulder!" Scully frowns.

Frohike shakes his head, "Mulder you shit! Dana doesn't deserve a lug like you."

Mulder laughs and leans over to rub Scully's back.

William can be heard screaming in delight, "Langee, be ma howse!"

Mulder takes a sip of his coffee. "Sounds like Langley has met his match."

Frohike shakes his head, "Intellectually he has."

Scully gets up, "I better see how Byers is doing."

Frohike watches her leave and sighs, "What a woman."

Mulder leans over his coffee mug, "Frohike tell me something, is all this admiration of Scully just a game or does she really mean that much to you?"

Frohike leans back in his chair and crosses his arms, "That, my friend, is a loaded question. Either way I answer it I'm in for an ass kicking."

Mulder smiles, "No, I would never kick the ass of the CEO of the Lone Gunman moving company."

Frohike laughs and shakes his head, then turns serious as he nervously fingers a packet of sweetener lying on the table. He clears his throat and begins, "Mulder, I have loved that woman since I first laid eyes on her. She is everything I have ever wanted in a woman, but know I can never have."

Mulder quietly sits, listening to his friend pouring his heart out over his wife.

Frohike wraps his hands around his mug and stares at the table.

Mulder clears his throat, "You might find someone yet, Frohike."

Frohike raises his eyes to Mulder and sardonically laughs, "Sure." He drinks the last drop of coffee from his mug. "Let me ask you something Mulder; can you see yourself finding anyone to compare to Scully?"

Mulder is now the quiet one; he drops his head and stares at his now empty mug and softly says, "No, never."

Frohike leans back in his chair and grins. "See, we got it bad."

Mulder smiles.

Frohike adds, "Only you got the prize while I'm still waiting."

"Sorry Frohike, but you might be waiting a long while."

"Yeah I know, but rest assured if anything happens to you, again," Frohike smiles, "I'll make damn sure Dana is safe. I know she'd never have me, but any guy who gives her grief will have me to answer to."

Mulder nods, "Thanks, Frohike."

Frohike gets up from the table and stretches, "Come on Mulder, I haven't done this much confessing without bein' all liquored up in ages."

The two friends walk into the family room. Byers is rocking a now sleeping baby, while Langley and Will have moved on to playing a video game. Frohike looks at the mess in the family room and says, "I'll trade you my two for yours."

"Not a chance," Mulder laughs, "I hear the terrible forties are the worst."

Scully walks past Mulder and Frohike. Mulder grabs her by the arm and motions with his head for her to follow him, an act that doesn't go unnoticed by Frohike. Mulder pulls her into the kitchen and out the back door. "Mulder, what's going on?"

They step out onto the flagstone patio. "I want to see you."

Scully looks up at him, "Why, is something wrong?"

Mulder smiles, "No, does there always have to be something wrong?"

Scully laughs, "No, I guess not."

Mulder pulls her close and wraps his arms around her. Scully wraps her arms around his waist and rest her head against his chest as he strokes her hair. "This is nice," Scully purrs.

Mulder looks out over the vast expanse of their backyard. "Scully, if anything would happen to me, would you remarry?"

Scully draws back, "Mulder, where did that come from? Have you been talking to Frohike?"

Mulder ignores her question. "Well, would you?"

Scully breaks away from him and walks to the edge of the patio, rubbing her wind chilled arms. "I don't like talking about this. Would you remarry if I died?"

Mulder grimaces, "Scully, don't say that!"

Scully turns around, "Why, because you think you would take it harder if I died? Well, let me tell you, I've been there and if not for William, I would have died too, probably at my own hands."

Mulder is stunned by her revelation, and sits down on a stone bench. "Scully, don't say that!"

Scully sits down beside him, taking his hand and softly saying, "But it's true."

She turns so her back is against him. He wraps his arms around her and rests his chin on her shoulder. She softly says, "No Mulder, the answer is no, I would not remarry."

"Why?" Mulder whispers.

Scully leans her head back against him, "Because of your hands."

"My hands?" Mulder nearly laughs.

Scully sighs, "It's hard to explain, but from the moment I met you, you put your hands on me. We shook hands that first day; you usher me in and out of rooms with your hand on the small of my back and you gently brush the hair away from my face with your hand. When things got more personal between us, you touched and caressed me with such reverence, I knew then that no other hands would ever touch me again. Now when I see you brush away William's tears or hold our daughter I fall in love with those hands all over again." Scully takes one of his hands in hers and kisses it, "So there, you have your answer."

Mulder kisses her head and pauses a few moments, "Scully, does this mean I'll be getting gloves for Christmas?"

Scully turns her head to glare at him and they both break out in fits of laughter. They settle back down and Scully asks, "Mulder, would you remarry?"

Mulder grows quiet, "Scully, I don't like thinking about it."

Scully leans back into him, "I know Mulder, none of us do but would you?"

"No," Mulder shakes his head, "I know it would be hard, but with your mom's help I could raise Will and Katherine."

Scully turns to look at him, "I'm sure you could."

"Scully, I'd love to tell you it was your big, blue eyes or satiny, red hair that attracted me, but it was nothing tangible. I love that sassy, kick the crap out of anyone who gets in my way attitude of yours." Mulder then teasingly adds, "It was that, and you were just so darn cute."

"Cute!" Scully huffs.

Mulder smiles, he loves baiting her. "Is being called cute that bad?"

Scully settles back against him, "No, I suppose not, but don't do it in front of anyone else."

"Scully, you don't think others, especially men, don't already know that?" Scully huffs as Mulder holds her tighter and they sit in silence for a few minutes. "Scully?"


"Why is it so hard for us to be normal?"

Scully looks back at him. "Mulder, we're normal."

"No we're not." Mulder laughs. "We don't do dinner parties, we don't socialize, we don't even fawn all over each other at the mall."

"I hate going to the mall," Scully sighs.

"We have no adult friends."

"What about the Gunman?" "Like I said, we have no adult friends."

Scully laughs. "I never knew it bothered you."

"It doesn't, I mean it shouldn't. See that's what I mean."

"Do you really think we can fit in? I can see us at a cocktail party, 'hello Dana, and what do you do for a living?' I cut up dead people and follow, my then partner, all over the world looking for aliens."

"I gotta admit that does sound strange. Maybe we're just weird."

"I prefer to think of us as antisocial, besides I like spending my free time with you, Will, and Katherine."

"Me too," Mulder says trying to protect her from the chill.

"Speaking of William, I see him standing at the French doors, pounding and yelling."

Mulder turns to look at his son. "You think he wants to come out?"

"Either that, or he wants to get away from the Gunman."

Both Mulder and Scully chuckle while Mulder motions for William to come out and join them. Will turns to Frohike and yells while bouncing on his feet. Frohike peers out the door and lets the youngster out.

Will runs straight to his parents. It's cold enough to see the little puffs of breath coming from the child. "Hi," Will charmingly says, clasping his hands together while a wide grin covers his face.

Mulder and Scully return the smile while Scully scoops up her son. "Hey buddy, what are you doing out here?" Mulder asks.

Will leans against his mother, seeking her warmth, "Ah come ta see yo."

"Good," Scully beams, "I missed you!"

"Is cowd." Will shivers.

Scully hold him even tighter, "You want to go back inside?"

"No," Will shakes his head and looks up pointing at the sky, "Look, staws."

Mulder and Scully look up. "Yes, they are. You have stars on your bedroom ceiling, don't you." Scully comments, as she stares at the stars.

"Yup, Ah do," Will agrees. "Da bee-bee wans staws too."

Mulder smiles at his son, "Maybe we need to buy Katherine some stars."

"Okay!" Will says, as he begins to get off his mother's lap.

Scully laughs, "No, not now Will, maybe tomorrow. It's too late tonight."

"It's never too late to reach for the stars." Mulder grins at Scully.

Scully looks back at him, "You're not serious?"

"Sure, I am. I'm not putting things off anymore. If Katherine needs some stars, then Will and I are going to find her some stars."

"Okay!" Will agrees and jumps up into his father's open arms.

They start to walk toward the garage. Scully yells, "What should I tell the Gunman."

Mulder yells back over his shoulder, "Tell them Will and I are hunting for stars."

Scully sighs and walks to the kitchen door, "Normal, we will never be."

~ 10 The Party ~


"I'm up here, Mulder." Scully says from the top of the stairs.

"I just got the mail and we received an invitation." Mulder is tossing each piece of mail onto the entryway table. "Some kind of party at the home of one of our neighbors."

Scully comes downstairs. "Oh really, which one?"

"How should I know, I've never seen any of them," Mulder smiles down at her.

"Well, what's the address?" Scully huffs, as she pushes back her hair.

"1452 Franklin Drive."

"That's only a few houses down."

"Must be that ugly pink house."

"That's not pink, Mulder. It's Magenta Sand Stone."

"How do you know that?" Mulder looks down at Scully.

"I saw the color at Home Depot, but you're right it is ugly. So who's throwing the party?" Scully asks, looking around his arm to see the invitation.

Mulder flips the card open; "You are cordially invited to a cocktail party, December 6th, 2003 at seven PM at the home of Bennie and Bunny Slater, owners of the big ugly pink house."

Scully grabs the note; "It doesn't say that!"

Mulder laughs, "It might as well."

Scully fingers the note as she walks into the kitchen, "So are we going?"

"I don't know? Do you want to go?" Mulder asks, sitting on a stool at the counter.

Scully pours herself a cup of coffee. "I don't know? It would be a nice way to meet some of our neighbors."

Mulder leans against the counter, "Ah, but the question is, do we want to meet our neighbors?"

"We really should, if only to see if they have kids that Will and Katherine can play with."

Mulder looks around, "So where are our two?"

"They crashed about an hour ago. Katherine got tired of Will trying to put his hat on her so she bawled."

"And he cried." Mulder adds.

"Mulder, we have got to get him over that crying every time she cries."

"He'll grow out of it eventually. What can I say, he's a sensitive guy like his dad."

"Sensitive or not, its difficult enough to have one crying child but to have two crying at the same time can be maddening."

"Scully, he's experiencing sympathy cries."

Scully just glares at Mulder. Suddenly the phone rings and it's a good thing for Mulder it has. "Hello, Mulder residence."

"Hello Dana."

"Hi mom."

"How's everyone."

"We're fine. The kids are asleep and Mulder and I are having a cup of coffee."

"Sounds like you're enjoying it."

"Yes, we are." Scully smiles.

"So, no work for you this week."

"No, none so far."


"Mom you sound disappointed."

"I am a little, I like taking care of the two of them."

Scully looks over at Mulder, but he's busy reading a newspaper that's lying on the counter. "Mom, how would you like to baby sit this Saturday night?"

Mulder's head snaps up and he catches Scully's eye but she turns away.

"I'd love too, what's the occasion?"

"We've been invited to a party at one of our neighbors."

"Dana, that's wonderful. You and Fox need to get out more."

Scully glances back at Mulder. "I'm not so sure about that. Look, I'll call you back with the details."

"Okay honey."

"Bye mom."

"Bye Dana."

Scully hangs up the phone and finally looks at Mulder, "Well?"

"Well what?"

"Well, are you mad that I said yes without checking with you?"

"Not mad, a little hurt maybe," Mulder says, as he tries to pout.

Scully rolls her eyes and brushes past him, "Mulder, you are so full of shit!" He snickers as he watches her leave the kitchen.

Saturday December 6th, 6:45PM

A knock is heard at the front door. "I'll get it," Mulder says, carrying his daughter with him.

"Hello son," Maggie Scully says as she enters the warm home.

"Hi Maggie."

"Aw come see grandma, Katherine." Maggie lifts the little girl from her father's arms. "It's easy to tell this one is a Mulder baby." She says, brushing the dark curls away from Katherine's eyes.

Mulder beams at the compliment as Will bounds downstairs. "Easy buddy." Mulder says, catching his son at the bottom.

"Where's Dana?" Maggie asks.

"Gettin' dwessed," Will answers.

"She is!" Maggie laughs.

Will turns to his father while chewing on his fingers and softly says, "Mom, sayin' bad woods."

Mulder chuckles, "Sounds like mom is having a hard time deciding what to wear."

Just then Scully comes down the stairs in a form fitting deep green, sleeveless dress that stops two inches above her knees. Mulder gazes up at her with his mouth hanging open. "Wow," is all he gets out.

Scully smiles, "I'll take that as a compliment."

"Momma's pwetty," Will adds.

"Why thank you, William. You're pretty cute yourself." Scully says, tweaking her son's nose as he grins at her.

"Dana, you look great!"

"Thanks mom." Scully turns to Mulder, "You ready?"

"As I'll ever be," he says kissing William's cheek and putting him down.

Scully grabs her purse off the hall table and kisses Will and Katherine. "We won't be late, mom. The number is on the pad next to the phone in the office."

"We'll do just fine," Maggie says, smiling at the baby in her arms.

"Come on Scully, let's get this over with," Mulder says, opening the door.

Scully gets in the passenger side while Mulder gets in the driver's side of the SUV. She pulls out the seat belt. "Mulder, it seems silly to drive two houses down."

"I guess it might be hard to say we didn't make it because we were lost."

Scully glares at him. "Mulder, if you don't want to go we can just stay home."

Mulder starts the engine. "No, I don't mind, it's just that I would rather be home playing with Will."

Scully looks out the side window and sighs, "Me too."

They drive the one tenth of a mile it takes to get to the home of Bunny and Bennie Slater. Scully gets out of the vehicle and straightens her skirt. Mulder walks around the SUV and puts his hand on the small of her back. "Forget it Scully, it just isn't going to get any longer," he smiles.

Mulder pushes the doorbell and when the hostess answers the door, Scully is still glaring at him. "Hello, I'm Bunny Slater, and you two must be the new neighbors."

Before either partner can respond Bunny has ushered them into her living room filled with people. "Everyone," Bunny says, clapping her hands together, "everyone, this is... oh my, I didn't get your names," she laughs.

"We're the Mulder's," Mulder says. "This is Dana and I'm Fox but I prefer to be called Mulder." A murmur can be heard from the females when Mulder says his name is Fox.

"Well Dana and Mulder," Bunny nervously laughs, "welcome to our community. I'm sure you will like it here."

Scully smiles and nods as Mulder mumbles, "Shades of Arcadia."

"Now you two go mingle," Bunny says, pushing her newest neighbors into the middle of the fray.

"Mulder leans over, "I don't know about you Scully, but I'm gonna need a drink."

Scully looks around and licks her lips, "Make mine a double." Mulder chuckles and makes his way through the crowd to the bar.

A tall, very thin, blonde comes walking out of the crowd toward Scully; she thrusts out her hand. "Dana?"


"I'm Jill Santo, Bill's wife."

Scully gives her a look that says none of this has registered.

"We live in the yellow colonial just around the corner."

"Oh," Scully says, finally placing where she has seen her before; "I know which one, its lovely."

"Not as beautiful as the one you and Fox, er, Mulder bought."

Scully has to smile at the woman's awkwardness.

"I tried to get Bill to buy it but we just couldn't swing it."

"We like it," Scully says.

"What does Mulder do for a living?" Jill pries.

"He teaches at the FBI Academy."

"And you?"

"I'm a pathologist with the FBI. We're both agents."

The woman standing before Scully stares, wide eyed then snaps, "It must pay well."

"Actually its not that great."

"But how did you get the house then?"

Scully is slightly peeved by this woman's implication so she changes the subject. "What does Bill do for a living?"

"He's a corporate lawyer for Phillip-Morris."

"That must pay well what with all the litigation."

"It used to," the woman sighs, "but since they've had to pay off so many smokers, well we haven't seen a Christmas bonus in years."

Scully tries to be polite, "I'm sure." She spots Mulder and decides to seek refuge with him. "Excuse me Jill, I think Mulder wants me."

Jill turns her head to stare at Mulder and mutters, "I wish he wanted me." She tosses back her drink and walks away from Scully.

Mulder brings her a glass of wine, "How's it going 'Dana'." Scully glares at him. "Well you don't expect me to call you 'Scully' do you?"

"No Mulder, I get the feeling they already think we're weird."

"Oh I don't know," Mulder says. "I just spent a sizzling ten minutes listening to Brad and Chip discussing how Viagra has changed their lives."

"Well they say that saves a lot of marriages."

"I don't think either one of their wives is on the receiving end of the benefits of Viagra."

Scully huffs and shakes her head.

A brunette, who is falling out of her dress, slinks up to Mulder and with a drink in one hand takes Mulder's arm in the other. "Hello Fox," she purrs. "I don't think we've met yet, in fact I know we haven't, I would never forget a man like you." Mulder stares at the woman with a polite smile on his face. Scully, on the other hand, is not amused. "Come on Fox, lets you and me get acquainted. I'm sure the little woman here, won't mind," the brunette slurs at Scully as she begins to drag Mulder away. He looks back pleadingly at Scully as she crosses her arms and watches the spectacle. Scully sits down on a cushioned hassock, trying to look as small and indiscriminate as possible. Another woman sits down across from her on the couch. "Dana, is it?"

"Yes, it is," Scully replies to the athletic woman in short bobbed hair.

"Hi I'm Patricia, nice to meet you." The woman looks around the room. "I hate these things."

Scully is relieved to find someone she can agree with. "I suppose they're all right."

"This is the first one I've been too since that rats ass husband of mind decided he needed his freedom and left me and the kids for his dental hygienist."

"Your husband is a dentist?" Scully questions.

"No, he's a cosmetic surgeon, but he damn well has the cleanest teeth in town." The woman eyes Scully, "How about you? This your first marriage?"

Scully is shocked by the question. "Yes, this is my first and only marriage."

The woman looks over at the brunette who is doing everything but crawling into Mulder's lap. "Look sweetie, if I were you, I'd pull manzilla over there off my husband."

Scully looks over at Mulder and manzilla with wide eyes that narrow to little slits. "Thanks, I'll take that under advisement."

"Well, gotta go socialize, but if you ever need to talk you know where to find me, I'm a good listener."

Scully finds Patricia's last statement hard to believe. She sits on the hassock a few more moments then finally can't stand it any longer and walks over to Mulder and manzilla. She taps him on the shoulder, "Care to dance with me, Mulder?"

"Aw," Manzilla pouts, "and we were just getting to know one another."

"I can see that," Scully smiles as she takes Mulder's hand and leads him into the great room where the music is playing.

"Thanks Scully, you have no idea what I was going through back there."

"It's okay Mulder, I saw what she was doing and what you were not."

Mulder smiles down at his partner. "You know I only have eyes for you, don't you Scully?"

"You better, or I'm taking the house."

Mulder laughs, "What about the kids?"

Scully looks up at him as they slowly begin to dance, "They go with the house."

Mulder holds her tight and turns serious; "I would never leave you or the kids, at least not voluntarily."

Scully lays her head on his chest and they dance for a few minutes when she finally says, "Mulder, we're not mingling."

Mulder has his head down and his hand entwined with hers holding it against his chest. "No, we're not."

"Not at all."

"You want to?"

Scully sighs, "Maybe later."

Just then Mulder feels a tap on the shoulder, before him stands a tall, young, blonde man. "Can I cut in?"

Mulder glares at him, "Actually she's with me."

"Come on," he says, beaming a perfect smile. "Be a sport, we're all neighbors."

Mulder looks down at Scully, who subtly nods. He releases her hand and moves off to stand at the bar.

The blonde man takes Scully in his arms, a little too tightly for Mulder's liking. "My name's Dan and you are Dana?"

"That's right."

"So what do you do besides drive men wild?"

Scully looks Dan straight in the eyes, "I cut up people."

Dan starts to sweat, Scully can feel it on her hand and back, and then he swallows hard. "You do autopsies?"

Scully softly smiles, "Oh yeah, on rotting, filthy, disemboweled people."

Dan frowns, "And you like that?"

"It's a job," Scully shrugs. "What's not to like?"

"Uh, I see an old friend over there," he motions with his head.

Scully looks around but doesn't see anyone in particular. "I thought we were all neighbors here?"

"We are but I haven't seen him in ages, excuse me." Dan nearly races to find his imaginary buddy.

Mulder has been watching the whole thing unfold. Scully walks over to where he is sitting at the bar. "Scully, you told him you cut up bodies, didn't you," he grins.

Scully sits down next to him. "I sure did."

"Good, I'm glad you did." Mulder sips his wine and plays with the stemmed glass. "Scully, what time is it?"

Scully looks at her watch. "Almost eight, why?"

Mulder looks off into space. "It's almost Will's bedtime, I could be reading to him or helping him on his ABC's."

Scully sighs, "And I could be slipping into a hot, steamy tub," then she nudges his arm with hers, "waiting for you to join me." Mulder grabs her hand and drags her off the stool. "Mulder, what are you doing?"

"We're going home."

"But I thought we were here to mingle and find Will some friends?"

Mulder pulls her through the crowd, "I just realized I don't like to mingle and these people are far too old to be William's friends."

Scully giggles just as they hit the front door. Their hostess spots them and comes over, "Dana, Mulder, you're not leaving so soon are you?"

"Yes, I'm afraid we have too," Mulder lies.

"Is something wrong?" Bunny questions.

Both partners stare at one another then at Bunny. "It's our son!" Scully blurts out at the same time Mulder says; "It's our daughter!"

Bunny looks from one agent to the other. Finally Scully says, "It's both of our kids, they're sick. My mom called my cell, she's baby sitting." Scully glances up at Mulder.

"Oh my!" Bunny exclaims. "I hope it's not serious."

"No," Mulder smiles, "they both get sick at the same time, all the time."

Scully glares up at him.

Mulder moves past Scully and grabs the door knob, "We, we should be going, dear."

"Yes, we really should," Scully agrees, backing away from Bunny.

They start out the door when Bunny says, "Each New Years we have a huge indoor-outdoor bar-b-que in the back yard, weather permitting of course, we'll expect to see you there."

Mulder and Scully sickeningly smile at their hostess as she closes the door.

Mulder grabs Scully by the hand, "Come on, let's get out of here."

They both jump into the SUV then Mulder starts the engine. He manages to get out of the driveway without clipping any fenders. He heads north but drives past their home. Scully looks back, "Mulder, what are you doing?"

"Ah, the night is still young Agent Scully," he grins.

She stares at him in disbelief, "But I thought you wanted to go home."

"I do, but can't we grab a cup of coffee first?"

Scully leans back and smiles at him.

"What?" Mulder questions.

"You're still the same impetuous man I met all those years ago."

"Would you want me to be anything else?" Mulder smiles.

Scully shakes her head, "No, I suppose not."

He pulls into the parking lot of an out of the way diner. They hold hands and walk to the door.

Once inside, Mulder finds a dark booth in the back, away from the other customers. He has to smile at the male heads that turn as Scully walks past. He takes the seat facing the slack-jawed men just in case any of them thinks they have a chance; he'll prove them wrong.

An older man comes out from behind the grill and grabs a pencil and a pad of paper. "What'll it be folks?"

"Coffee for me," Scully answers.

Mulder leans back in the booth. "What kind of pie have you got?"

The man scratches his balding head, "I got peach, custard, and apple."

"Wanna piece of pie, Scully?"

"No thanks, just coffee."

Mulder looks up at the man. "I'll have peach and give her a piece of custard."

"I don't want pie, Mulder."

"I know you Scully, if I get a piece you'll steal bits from it but you won't eat a whole piece and I'm hungry so I'll eat what you leave."

The old man smiles at the two sitting before him.

Scully gives in, "I'll have pie too, but I want apple."

The old man leaves to fill their order.

Mulder leans back in the booth and closes his eyes, "Scully, we don't fit in do we?"

Scully laces her fingers together as she rests her elbows on the table. "No Mulder, I don't think we do."

"Does that bother you?"

"Sometimes, yeah it does."

Mulder opens his eyes and looks at her. "Why?"

"Because of how it might affect Will and Katherine."

"And you?" He questions.

"Me? No, I got use to not fitting in early in our partnership."

The old man returns with their two coffees and two pieces of pie. He hands Mulder a knife, "I thought you might need this."

"Thanks." Mulder takes the knife and cuts the slice of apple pie in half and places one piece of it on his plate.

"Hey, no fair! I want some of yours too." Scully frowns.

Mulder cuts his piece in half too. "I don't recall this being part of the deal," Mulder teases.

Scully merely smiles back as she digs into her sliver of peach pie.

A few silent moments pass between them. "Scully, do you mean that?"

"Mean what?" Scully says, after taking a sip of her coffee.

"That you got used to not fitting in?"

"Mulder, why do you always fixate on how our partnership was bad for me in some way?"

Mulder looks down at his coffee. "Well, wasn't it?"

"No, not at all," Scully laughs. "Mulder, I could have left at any time or worse, have had you thrown out of the bureau." She smiles at him. "You did ditch me a time or two."

"A time or two! Scully, I worry about this long term memory loss you seem to be having."

Scully laughs, "Okay, maybe twenty or thirty times then."

"That's my girl!" Mulder laughs with a twinkle in his eyes.

Scully takes his hand in hers. "Mulder, I don't know if our partnership molded me or if I helped mold it, but I'm happy where I am."

"I'm glad," Mulder smiles. "But Scully, you said our not fitting in might affect Will and Katherine, how did you mean that?"

Scully lets go of his hand and takes a sip of her coffee then sets the cup down. "Take tonight, for instance."

"What about tonight?"

"We went over there with the intention of finding children for them to play with," she takes another sip of her coffee, "but instead we chicken out and come home empty handed."

"Scully, those people were weird."

"No Mulder, those people were normal."

Mulder slouches down in the booth to pout and play with his fork. "Then I don't want to be normal."

"That may be Mulder, but Will and Katherine are still alone."

"No they're not, they're with your mom."

"Mulder!" Scully huffs. "You know what I mean."

Mulder sits up straighter in the booth, "Wait one minute Scully, I think you're looking at this all wrong."

Scully is the one now sitting back against the booth. "How so?"

"Okay, so we went to a 'normal' cocktail party with what I consider a bunch of freaks but you say they're 'normal', so we'll go with that supposition. So where were these 'normal' peoples kids?"

"I don't know, I suppose they were with their grandparents."

"Wanna bet! I over heard old Bennie say his two kids were with the baby sitter, who has a boyfriend who drinks, but that doesn't seem to bother Ben who was busy tossing back, his third tequila shooter. Then Jan..."

"Jill," Scully corrects.

"Jill, whatever, Jill's hubby said his three kids were staying at a twenty-four hour daycare. Sounds warm and fuzzy don't it."

Scully is sickened and irritated by what she is hearing. "Mulder, what's your point?"

"My point is, I figure this gang of 'normal' people party at least twice a month, now that's twenty-four times a year that they dump their children and that's not including special event dumping, like business trips and week end getaways. I guess what I'm saying is, I don't want our kids around those certain to be screwed up, kids. I want to stay home and read to my son, I want to wash my daughter's face after she's cried, I want to be there when they're sick or need a hug."

Scully's eyes grow red.

"You know Scully, I could leave my class at noon and everyday head for the gym, or hang out with the guys, but I don't because I can't wait to get home. I want my buddy to be my son, and I want to be the father to my daughter that neither I nor my sister had." Mulder looks down at his half-full coffee cup. "I know I'm obsessive Scully," he swallows hard, "but I love my kids and would rather spend time with them and you than be at some drunken, trolling for sex party filled with 'normal' people anytime."

Scully looks up with a tight-lipped smile on her face and brushes away a tear. Finally she says, "Come on Mulder, let's go home to our kids."

They leave their half-eaten pie on the table with a large tip and slip out the door.

Mulder drapes his arm over Scully's chilled shoulders. "I'm sorry I made you cry."

She looks up at him, "I'm not, I need to be reminded that nothing is more important than family." She stands on tiptoes and kisses his lips. "Thanks for reminding me."

"Scully, I think I notice it more because its something I never had."

"And something I take for granted," Scully adds.

Mulder opens the door for her. "Well maybe just a little, but it was always there for you, I'm just discovering what it is to be a family, a functioning one," he says closing the door.

Mulder pulls out of the parking lot and aims the SUV for home. "Scully, do you think Will and Katherine will think we're weird?"

"Mulder, by the time they are teenagers, I can almost guarantee it."

Mulder laughs, "But by then Scully, they'll probably be right."

"All we can do is love and protect them."

"And play with them, Will and I have more fun then humans should be allowed to have."

Scully looks at him, "Have you been watching David Letterman in the office again?"

"I have to Scully, every time I watch it in our bedroom we end up having sex and I miss the top ten list."

Scully blushes, it's too dark for Mulder to see but he knows she's blushing.

They pull into their driveway while the house a few doors down is still lit up like a Roman candle. Mulder drives on into the garage but takes Scully's hand and pulls her away from the back door and leads her to the front step. The porch lights are off but the downstairs lights are on in the house. He takes both of Scully's hands and steps closer to her. "Umm Dana, I really enjoyed our date tonight."

Scully is smiling up at the man who stands before her. "I did too, Fox."

Mulder actually looks nervous, "You think I might be able to see you again?"

Scully blushes, "I don't see why not, after all my mom likes you."

"She does!" Mulder feigns surprise.

"She said you're better than most of the guys I bring home."

"Most of the guys?" Mulder frowns. "Dana, just how many guys have you brought home?"

Scully wraps her arms around his waist. "None, since I met you."

Mulder grins and looks down at her, "May I kiss you good night?"

"I was hoping you would."

Mulder tilts her chin up and takes her face in his hands and brushes his lips across hers, but it doesn't stop there, soon they are involved in some serious lip locking.

Just then the door opens and Mrs. Scully peeks out. "Oh Dana, Fox, you're back. I thought I heard a noise."

Mulder pulls away from Scully, "Maggie, you think you could baby sit for just five more minutes?"

Maggie gets Mulder's drift. "Of course son," she smiles, "just let me know when you're finished."

Maggie shuts the door as Scully giggles, "Mulder, that was mean."

"No it wasn't Scully, your mom likes to baby sit and I like kissing you, so we're both happy."

"So what's in it for me?" Scully teases.

"Just this," Mulder bends her over and kisses the stuffin's out of her.

Both come up panting for air. "Mulder, I think we better go inside."

"Yeah," Mulder sighs.

Just as Scully is turning the doorknob she looks back at Mulder. "Oh, and Mulder, I don't think you'll be catching the top ten list tonight either."

~ 11 Shopping ~

A silver Jeep Grand Cherokee is winding its way through the heavy late December traffic. The woman behind the wheel has a determined look on her face and a steel grip on the wheel, the man next to her looks out the side window at the whirlwinds of snow that churn up along the highway.

"Mulder, I hate Christmas shopping for the kids with you."

"But Scully, I want to help pick out their gifts."

"No," Scully corrects, "you want to play with all the toys and get gifts far too advanced for their ages."

"Will, is exceptionally bright," Mulder challenges.

"Bright or not, he could not ride that ten speed bike you bought him last year; he could barely walk!"

"I did go back and buy the child seat for it, besides we had fun riding it together through our old neighborhood."

"This year we are buying more educational toys."

Mulder slumps down in the car seat and mumbles, "Will and Katherine aren't going to like that."

Scully glances over, "I was talking about for you."

Scully wheels into the mall parking lot and hunts for a place to park, she finally finding one and pulls in; shutting off the Cherokee she and Mulder get out to face the cold. She pulls her boot length, red wool coat tight against herself. The color was not one she would have preferred with her red hair, but once Mulder got a look at her in it he insisted she buy it.

Mulder is wearing jeans, a gray sweater over a T-shirt and his leather car coat. Scully had to battle him to shave on his day-off, but she's had enough of woman staring at his furry face and running over her toes with their shopping carts.

Mulder pulls the entrance to the mall open just as a gust of wind nearly blows Scully away. "Where to first?" He asks, as they stuff their coats into a mall locker and take the key.

"The bookstore," Scully says pointing down the long hall covered in Christmas glitz.

Mulder whines, but follows her anyway.

Once in the bookstore, Scully takes off for the juvenile section while Mulder wanders around. Soon Scully has picked out several cloth books for Katherine and a book on farm animals and one on big trucks for Will.

Mulder meets her at the checkout carrying a large book on trains. "Mulder, what are you doing with that?"

"I got it for Will," he says clutching the book possessively.

Scully has to smile at him, "Why does William need a ten pound book on trains?"

Mulder flips open the book to reveal the big beautiful pictures of trains. "I thought we could look at this together."

"Me and you?" Scully grins.

"Nooo, me and Will."

A couple behind them snickers.

Once the books are paid for they make their way through the throng of people deeper into the mall.

"Scully, we should have brought the kids along and had their pictures taken with Santa."

"We'll do that one day next week after your class. I didn't want to bring the kids today because of the long lines on the weekend, and I want to get Katherine a Christmas dress and Will a Christmas sweater for the pictures."

Mulder drapes his arm over her shoulder and smiles, "See that's why I keep you around, you're the logical one." Scully flashes him 'the look' but he pretends not to see her.

Scully crosses through the crowd to stare into a woman's clothing store window. Mulder walks up behind her and puts both hands on her shoulders and softly says, "See anything you like?"

Scully looks up at him, "The reflection of the guy in the window."

Mulder beams and grabs her hand, "Come on, let's go in."

Scully resists, "Mulder, this store is much too expensive."

"So what!" Mulder says over his shoulder.

They immediately come to the attention of a saleswoman. "Can I help you?"

"No. We're just...," Scully starts to say.

"Yes, clothing. Her size," Mulder cuts in, pointing down at Scully's head.

Scully glares at him but the woman merely wiggles her finger for them to follow her.

"Everything in this section of the store is petite and in your size. If you need any help, please let me know."

"Thanks," Mulder answers.

They wander amongst the silver and silk, while Scully brushes past the flimsy negligees Mulder stops to admire them. "Hey Scully," Mulder says, picking up a teddy that you could read a newspaper through, "how about this?"

Scully blushes and pulls him away from the garment. "Mulder, its December, I'd freeze to death in that!"

Mulder slings his arm over her shoulder. "No, you wouldn't, I'd keep you warm."

Scully laughs, "Can you see me getting up to check on Will in that thing?"

"You could wear your long johns under it," he teases.

Scully spots something and takes off across the store. She is admiring a deep blue silk dress. She takes it off the rack, then turns it around. She holds it up in front of a full-length mirror.

Mulder stands back with his elbow resting on a garment rack. He never takes his eyes off Scully. She runs her hands over the fine silk. He motions the saleswoman over and pulls out his gold card, pointing to the dress he hands the card to the saleswoman. She takes the hint and disappears. He walks back over to Scully. "That would look sharp on you."

Scully sighs, "It's gorgeous, but far too expensive."

"How much?"

"Four hundred dollars."

"You know I'll buy it for you, hell you can buy it for yourself, it's our money."

Scully shrugs, "I know Mulder, but I still can't bring myself to spend that kind of money on a piece of cloth, no matter how beautiful it is." She feels the sleeve once more then moves on. Mulder lingers behind and retrieves his card from the saleswoman, he'll return for the dress later.

They make their way through the left wing of the mall. Mulder carries the packages from the bookstore in one arm and holds Scully's hand in the other as they silently walk on. Suddenly he stops dead in his tracks; just a head lies a toy store. He drags Scully through the crowd to its entrance. "Here it is Scully, the Holy Grail of Kiddom."

Scully rolls her eyes, "Mulder, you are not going to quote Ralphie from A Christmas Story all day, are you?"

Mulder grabs a basket off the quickly dwindling pile. "Thanks for reminding me Scully, I want to get that on DVD for Will."

Scully glares up at him, "Mulder, so help me if he runs around screaming 'you'll shoot your eye out', I'm gonna kill you!"

Mulder laughs and takes off in search of the video section while Scully wanders over to the infants. She looks over the toys and wonders what might catch Katherine's fancy. Will was easy to buy for when he was her age, but Katherine is an enigma much like her father. She selects an Aqua Pad filled with stars and glitter, a soft dog that winds up and barks, and a Jack in the Box. Looking over the large dollhouses, she wishes Katherine were just a little older so that they could enjoy building one together. Next she picks out a Teddy bear with a button up vest and cloth shoes that tie, hoping it will teach her how to do it properly when the time comes, unlike William, who prefers one quick knot. She picks up a few more small items for Katherine's stocking and turns to go to the toddler's section when she spots Mulder's head above the displays. He rounds the end of the aisle and nearly runs into her. He is carrying his overflowing basket and pushing an equally overflowing cart.

"Hey Scully," Mulder says looking down at Scully's purchases and laughing, "Is that all you got! I wouldn't want to be on Super Market Sweep with you, we'd suck!"

Scully chooses to ignore his smart-ass response. "Mulder, what on earth did you buy?"

"What's it look like; toys!"

"I know that!" Scully says exasperatedly.

Mulder begins to paw through his finds, "A can of Lincoln Logs for Will and a train set, a remote controlled truck, a T-ball set and a remote controlled boat for next summer."

Scully frowns, "I never thought about getting things they could use in the summer."

Mulder pulls out more toys, "And I got Katherine a Pre-School kitchen set, a See and Say, a Sit and Spin, and a remote controlled duck for the pool."

"You got a See and Say, where did you find that?" Scully wistfully asks. "I was looking for one of those."

Mulder waves three pieces of paper in the air. "We need to drive around back and pick up a battery operated Hummer for Will to drive and a Barbie car for Katherine, plus a two-seater Flexible Flyer sled."

Scully is amazed and nods her head. "You did good."

Mulder beams at the compliment. "I did, didn't I?"

"You sure did," Scully laughs.

They check out and leave their purchases on the dock with the two cars and sled that they will pick up later, and enter the mall once more. "I don't know about you Scully, but I could use a sandwich and some coffee."

"Me too, but not at Kiddie Junction, let's stop at a proper restaurant."

They walk hand in hand to Casey's Grill. Mulder finds a booth by the window so they can watch the shopper's. A server approaches. "Can I get you something to drink?" She asks, handing them two menus.

"Coffee." They both say.

Their server leaves to get the coffee while they peruse the menus.

"So what's it gonna be Scully?" Mulder asks, glancing over his own menu.

"Turkey Club on wheat." Scully answers.

"I think I'll have a bowl of clam chowder and a turkey sandwich."

The server appears with a carafe of coffee and two cups. She fills each cup and takes their order.

"What's next?" Mulder asks, taking a drink from his cup.

"Well since you were such a thorough toy buyer, I think we need to find a children's clothing store."

Mulder smiles.

"What?" Scully questions.

"Nothing," Mulder shakes his head, "it's just that I'm really enjoying myself."

Scully looks confused so Mulder explains, "How many times have you been Christmas shopping?"

Scully frowns, "I don't know, I would say every year since I was a little girl, why?"

"Because I've never been Christmas shopping before, I mean before William came along."

Scully's eyes grow wide. "I didn't know that Mulder," she sympathetically says.

"It's not a big deal," Mulder shrugs.

"Yes it is!" Scully says, as the server returns with their food.

Once their food is served, Scully questions Mulder further. "Why didn't you ever Christmas shop?"

Mulder takes a spoonful of chowder and swallows, "My mom always ordered our gifts or picked them up on her travels, and when Samantha was taken Christmas just never seemed to matter anymore."

Scully pauses, chewing her bite of food then swallows. "You didn't shop for gifts while you were at Oxford?"

"Why should I? I never went home."

"Not for Christmas?" Scully looks at him with wide, blue eyes.

"Not ever." Mulder shakes his head.

Scully puts down her sandwich and wipes her mouth. "Mulder, you spent all those years in England and never saw your folks?"

Mulder smiles and runs his finger around the lip of his coffee cup. "The All American family, we were not." Then he looks up. "Oh Scully, I didn't tell you that to make you cry."

Scully lowers her head. "I'm not crying," she says turning her head to look out into the mall as she quickly wipes at her eyes.

With their lunch over they walk back into the crush of people. "So you want to pick out some clothes for the kids? Mulder asks.

Scully stops walking while people stream past her. She looks up at her partner, "No Mulder, I want you to go pick out their clothes while I shop for mom's gifts."

Mulder stops and turns back. "You want me to pick out their clothes! Scully, I don't know what to buy."

Scully smiles, "Just get Katherine a Christmas dress for an eight month old and Will needs a Christmas sweater in a 3T." She pats his arm. "You'll do just fine and I'll meet you at the main entrance."

Mulder's face breaks out in a huge grin, "Okay, I'll meet you there." He turns and struts through the mall concourse heading for Green Tree Children's Clothing. Scully watches him, happy in the knowledge that Mulder is Christmas shopping.

Forty-five minutes later Scully is standing at the mall entrance shuffling her aching feet and guarding her packages. Around the corner comes Mulder, his arms burdened with his purchases. Scully laughs, "Mulder, just how many dresses and sweaters did you buy?"

"Scully, I found the kids some great clothes and they were on sale."

"That's nice Mulder but we have a lot to cram into the SUV." Scully walks over to the lockers and puts the key in, retrieving her coat and Mulder's jacket. Mulder puts down his packages and helps Scully into her coat then puts on his jacket. They each gather up their parcels and head for the exit. Mulder pushes a button on his key chain and the SUV lights come on as the engine roars to life.

The snow is softly falling as they approach their vehicle. Scully loads all their packages into the back seat while Mulder makes room for the toys yet to be loaded. They get in and weave their way across the parking lot to the back of the toy store. Mulder pulls into a short line and is soon the next vehicle to be loaded. Two teenagers help him load the cars, sled, and assorted bags of toys into the SUV for which he tips them generously. Mulder has to force it, but he finally gets the back door closed. He climbs in the now comfortably warm SUV and blows on his fingers while Scully flicks the snowflakes out of his hair.

"All set?" he asks her, as the daylight grows dim.

"All set," Scully smiles back. "Let's drop the gifts off at the house then go pick up the kids from mom."

Mulder swings the SUV out the mall exit and heads home.

They pull into their garage and Mulder unloads the cars and the sled into the storage room while Scully carries the bags and boxes into the house.

Mulder walks in the back door. "Wait Scully, before we pick up the kids I want you to see the clothes I bought."

Scully puts one hand on her hip and the other on the kitchen counter and smiles up at him, "I was curious to see what you picked out."

Mulder paws through the bags Scully carried in until he finds the two from the clothing store. He pauses, "Now I know Will has your eyes and you look great in blue so I got him a blue sweater with snowflakes on it." He pulls out the little blue sweater.

Scully is amazed; she takes one sleeve and runs her thumb over the soft fabric. "I know its kind of light weight but I figure he will have a shirt on under it and well, you know how hot they keep those malls," Mulder trails off with a blush on his face.

Scully looks up at him, "Mulder, this is perfect!"

Mulder beams, "You really think so?"

"I sure do."

He pulls more clothing out of the bag. "I also got him some real pajamas, not the kind with feet in them, and a robe and slippers to match." Mulder pulls the ensemble out of the bag.

Scully laughs, "Mulder, how cute! He is going to love that, it looks so grown up." She folds up the tiny robe. "Can I see what you got for Katherine?"

Mulder hesitates. "Scully, I hope you like this. I thought it would look better on her than one of those red velvet dresses all those women were snapping up."

Scully lowers her head and runs her tongue around her bottom lip, picturing Mulder amongst a throng of grabby woman, trying to buy a baby dress.

He pulls out a deep plum, satin dress with several petticoats underneath. "I thought she might look good in this with her skin tone and dark hair," Mulder shyly says.

Scully's mouth hangs open. "Mulder, this is beautiful. She will look great in this with white tights and her Mary Janes."

Mulder looks relieved, and then opens the bag again. "And I got her these," he says handing Scully a small package.

Scully looks at the front and reads the back then laughs, "Mulder, where did you find such tiny thermal underwear?"

"While the women were fighting over the dresses, I checked out the rest of the store."

Scully steps up on tiptoes and kisses him, "I'd have to say you've done a fine job."

"Thanks," Mulder blushes.

Scully looks at her watch. "We should go get the kids."

"One more package," Mulder says as he shoves a long slim gold box across the counter toward Scully.

"Mulder, don't you think we have got enough things for the kids?"

"This one is for you, Scully."

Scully looks shocked. "For me?"

"Remember the Christmas party the Bureau has every year."

"You mean the one we always try to get out of?"

"That's the one," Mulder laughs then grows quiet. "I want to take you this year and I want you to wear this," he says tapping the box.

Scully lifts the lid and lays back the tissue paper to reveal the blue dress she had admired earlier. "Oh Mulder!" She says putting her hands to her mouth and then on her chest.

"I love the way it brings out your eyes." He looks down at her, "And the tears."

Scully laughs and puts down the dress to wrap her arms around him. "You are one silly, wonderful man," she says looking up at him, "whom I love very much."

Mulder wraps his arms around her. "Scully, you have given me so much over the years." He lowers his voice and his head, "Your friendship, your loyalty, your love, two wonderful children, tradition and a sense of belonging."

"Oh Mulder," Scully buries her head deeper into his chest and softly cries.

Mulder lift her chin with one finger. "Those better be tears of joy and not over all you've lost."

"Never," Scully softly says.

Scully laughs and rubs her nose on the back of her hand then she pulls away. "We need to get the kids picked up."

"I know," Mulder says as they walk toward the door. "Scully, lets take the kids to a proper studio and get a family Christmas picture made."

"That's a good idea."

"And I want some wallet-sized photos too."

Scully smiles at him as they get in the SUV to go pick up their kids.

"And maybe you can wear that dress and have a couple snapshots of just you and me."

Scully nods, "That would be nice."

"And maybe you can wear that dress and I can get a couple of shots of just you."

Scully looks at him.

"And maybe you can pose..."


~ 12 A Fractured Christmas Story ~

It's one week before Christmas in the Mulder household and Mulder has just returned from a late meeting. Katherine is already tucked into bed, but William is far too excited to entertain the thought of sleeping just yet. Scully did manage to get his cold medicine down him, bathe him, and put his flannel footie pajamas on him. He has run her ragged all day, if not by getting into things, then by asking her a myriad of questions about Christmas.

"Scully, I'm home," Mulder yells from the kitchen.

"Shh," Scully says, as she walks in pushing a strand of unruly hair behind her ear. "I've just got Katherine to sleep."

Will races in behind her and lunges for his father. Mulder catches him and picks him up. "Hey buddy, why are you still up?"

Scully sighs, "He's all excited about Christmas."

"Are you?" Mulder asks, his sandy-red headed boy, whose grin displays a mouth full of enamel beauties.

"Yeah!" William replies, with a raspy cough and a runny nose. "Sanee, come see me!"

"Will, you have got to go to bed," Scully pleads.

"Ah, not tiored," he replies, twisting his fingers up and stuffing them into his mouth.

Mulder rubs the little boys back, "How about I read to you?"

"'kay," Will says, laying his head on Mulder's shoulder.

"That reminds me," Scully says, "mom brought over the copy of 'Twas a Night Before Christmas' that she and dad used to read to us kids. She thought Will might like." She leaves the kitchen in search of the book.

"You want me to read to you about Santa Claus?" Mulder asks Will.

"Yeah!" The little boys face lights up.

"Here it is," Scully says, handing the book to Mulder.

"Okay Will, let's go upstairs to read." Mulder carries the toddler upstairs and into his own room, where he now sleeps in a youth bed instead of the crib, an act that brought tears to Scully's eyes.

Mulder sits down on the low bed with his knees practically touching his chin. Will sits down tight against his father with his feet sticking out straight and his hands in his lap, "Weed to me, da-dee."

"I will son," Mulder says as he opens the well-worn book.


"Twas the night before Christmas," Mulder reads.

"Wuz a twas, da-dee?" Will asks.

"That's like saying, it was."


"When all through the house, not a creature is stirring, not even a mouse."

Will pats Mulder's leg, "Momma don't yike mouzzus in da howse, da-dee."

"I'm sure," Mulder smiles down at his son then continues, "The stockings were hung by the chimney with care."

"Wuz a chimbly, da-dee?"

"That's what the smoke goes up when we light a fire in the fireplace."

Will looks up at his father, "Ah don yike fiore."

"Neither do I," Mulder leans in and confesses to his son. "In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there."

"Da-dee, wuz a say necklos?"

Mulder smiles, "That's another name for Santa Claus, Will."

"Oh!" Will grows excited.

"The children were nestled all snug in their beds."

Will laughs.

"You think that's funny, do ya?" Mulder looks down at Will.

"Yup, day gots ta go ta bed."

"While visions of sugar plums danced in their heads."

"Da-dee, wuz a shooger pum?"

"It's candy, Will."

"Do day danze?"



"And momma in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap."

"Momma don' have no kee-chief," Will laughs, turning up his hands.

"No, she doesn't," Mulder grins. "Had just settled down for a long winters nap."

Will giggles, "Dat momma gots ta take a nap!"

"When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter, I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter."

"Ohhh!" Will exclaims, as he pushes down the page of the book to get a better look.

"Away to the window I flew like a flash."

"Wuz iz it, da-dee; iz a mon-ser?" Will is concerned for Santa Claus.

"No, no monsters in this story, buddy."

"Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash."

"Oh, he fowd up!" Will stands up on the bed.

"No Will," Mulder laughs, "that means he opened the window."

Will looks at Mulder wide-eyed, "No da-dee, he fowd up sash!"

Mulder can't argue with Will's logic, "Okay, maybe he did."

Will sits back down, a bit concerned about the man's possible gastric trouble.

"The moon on the breast of the new fallen snow, gave a luster of mid-day to objects below."

Will looks up at Mulder and coughs, "Dat's bwight!"

"It sure is. When what do my wondering eyes should appear."

"Wha iz it, da-dee?" Will climbs up on the bed again to look over Mulder's shoulder.

"But a miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer."

"Iz wainin'?" Will looks at Mulder with disbelief in his watery blue eyes.

"No Will, its reindeer, they're like Bambi."

"Oh," Will says, as he sits back down tight against his father.

"With a little old driver, so lively and quick I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick."

Will looks up at his father, his mouth forming a perfect 'O'. "Daz Sanee Caws," he whispers.

"It sure is."

"More rapid than eagles his coursers they came."

"Wuz a cowsews, da-dee?"

"No, its coursers, and I have no idea."

"Me too," Will grins up at his father and draws up his shoulders.

"And he whistled and shouted and called them by name."

"He's happy, iz he, da-dee," Will says, scratching at his ear.

"Yes, I assume he is."

"Now Dasher, now Dancer, now Prancer, and Vixen!" Mulder yells. "On Comet, on Cupid, on Donner, and Blitzen!"

"An' Langee!" Will shouts.

Mulder nearly falls off the bed in fits of laughter, and Will laughs right along with him.

"And Langley!" Mulder croaks out. "To the top of the porch, to the top of the wall, now dash away, dash away, dash away all!"

"Wed day go, da-dee?"

"You'll see."

Will continues to sit right beside his father, with his pajama clad feet sticking off the bed and his hands together on his lap. He's looking intently at the book Mulder holds in his hands.

"As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly. When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky, so up to the house-top the coursers they flew."

Will grins at his father, "Cowsews."

"That's right," Mulder laughs. "With a sleigh full of toys and St. Nicholas too."

"Oh boy!" Will exclaims as his eyes light up. "Sanee Caws bwings toys!"

"And then in a twinkling, I heard on the roof, the prancing and pawing of each little hoof."

"Das da deews," Will softly says to Mulder.

"As I drew in my hand, and was turning around, down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound."

"Oh! Sanee Caws iz in da fior!" Will says, looking distressed.

"No Will, the fire was out."

"Oh!" Will says, looking at the book. "Weed me so' more."

"He was dressed all in fur from his head to his foot and his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot."

"Wuz soot, da-dee?"

"That's the black stuff in the fireplace that mom doesn't want you to touch."

"Cawse Ah git aw diwty," Will looks up at his father, "Did he git aw diwty, da-dee?"

"I assume so," Mulder smiles and continues, "A bundle of toys he had flung on his back."

"Ohhh, toyz!" Will excitedly says.

"And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack."

"Wuz a pee-der, da-dee?"

Mulder grins down at his son, "A peddler is a man who sells things."

"Iz Sanee Caws a pee-der?"

"No he isn't, Will." Will settles down next to his father and waits, anticipating his next words.

"His eyes, how they twinkled, his dimples how merry, his cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry."

"He fun-ee wooking," Will softly says, as he stuffs his hands between his knees.

"His droll little mouth was drawn up in a bow and the beard on his chin was as white as the snow."

Wills mouth drops open and his blue eyes snap. "Da-dee, he goz a beawd."

"Yes, he does Will," Mulder smiles. "The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth and the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath."

"Ohh," Will frowns, "momma won' yet Sanee Caws smoke in da howse," he says turning up both hands and dropping them in disgust.

Mulder leans over, "I hear he's wearing the patch."

The joke goes over Will's head. "Weed me so' more da-dee."

"He had a broad face and a little round belly that shook when he laughed like a bowl full of jelly."

"I wike yelly." Will replies with a grin.

"What's your favorite kind of jelly, Will?"

"Swabewwy," the little boy says. "He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf, and I laughed when I saw him in spite of myself."

"He a eff." Will coughs.

"A wink of his eye and a twist of his head, soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread."

"Sanee Caws wink at da man," Will laughs.

"He sure did," Mulder laughs. "He spoke not a word but went straight to his work, and filled all the stockings and turned with a jerk."

Will laughs, "Langee's a jewk."

Mulder chuckles, "You shouldn't say that, Will."

"But Fro-heekie tod me dat." Will rationalizes.

Mulder laughs and returns to his reading. "And laying a finger aside of his nose, and giving a nod, up the chimney he rose."

Will stands up and looks at the picture in the book. "Da-dee, Sanee Caws wen' up da chimbly! Wer' day go?"

"Listen and you'll find out."

Will puts his elbow on Mulder's shoulder and stares, engrossed in the book.

"He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle."

Will laughs, "Sanee Caws wis-tled."

"And away they all flew like the down of a thistle, and I heard him exclaim as he drove out of sight, Happy Christmas to all and to all a good night."

Will sits down next to Mulder once again as he closes the book. "Did you like that Will?"

"Yup," Will yawns, then lies his head on Mulder's arm and looks up, "Say da Wain deews names 'gin, da-dee!"

Mulder laughs, but can be heard repeating all the reindeer' names including Langley.

~ 13 Christmas Eve ~

It's the day before Christmas and DC is unseasonably cold. Fresh snow fell during the night and the sky is gray but in the Mulder household it's warm and bright. The fire is lit in the family room while Christmas music floats throughout the house along with the smell of spice cookies and gingerbread men, both gifts from Grandma Scully.

Katherine is confined to her playpen having spent the morning trying to eat the popcorn strings off the tree. She isn't happy being caged up but her mother is far too busy to chase her out of things.

Scully is in the kitchen making lunch for the soon to be home, Mulder. Will comes running in, "Mom, mom, when kin Ah go ou'side?"

Scully stirs the soup she has on the stove. "Later, I told you after dad gets home and we eat lunch."

"But Ah wanna go ou'side an' pay in da sno."

"I know sweetie, but dad will be home soon."

Will drags himself from the kitchen to stand in front of the French doors to watch the snow fall."

The backdoor opens and in walks Mulder, clad in his gray suit and trench; his son suddenly attacks him. "Da-dee!" Will screams at his father and turns on the charm, "Ah wan' go ou'side an' pay in da sno." He twists his fingers together and grins. Scully ladles out the hot soup for Mulder and herself while Will's and Katherine's is already cooling on the counter.

Mulder looks over at their lunch. "We need to eat first Will, mom has gone to a lot of work."

Will sticks out his full bottom Mulder lip but doesn't complain.

Mulder sets Will on his booster seat and put the bib on him that Scully has draped over the chair. Suddenly he looks up and frowns, "Where's Katherine?"

"Da bee-bee in da cage," Will offers.

Scully dries off her hands on a dishtowel. "I regret the day Frohike called that playpen a cage."

The air is pierced by the scream of, "Ma!" Scully looks up at Mulder as he looks back.

"Did she just say, "Mom?" Mulder asks.

Scully grins and takes off for the family room. Katherine is standing up in her cage, bouncing up and down, as she hangs on to the mesh side. Scully scoops up the baby and brushes back the soft brown curls while Katherine stuffs a fist in her mouth.

Mulder comes in and Katherine immediately lunges for him with a big, two-tooth grin. He takes her from Scully, "I think you just gave your mother an early Christmas present." Katherine looks over at Scully and grins.

"Ah hun-gee!" Will yells from the kitchen.

Scully laughs, "I think we better get back to our lunch."

"Ma, ma, ma, ma," Katherine chatters as they step into the kitchen.

"I was hoping she would start to talk soon," Mulder says, as he sets Katherine in her highchair.

"Me too," Scully agrees, "all though, there are times I wish Will wasn't so talkative." She rubs her hand over Will's soft hair then sets his bowl of soup in front of him.

"Mom, Ah wan' kackers."

"Hang on a minute Will, while I open a pack," Scully says before opening a bag of oyster crackers and placing them in a small bowl.

Will pulls the bowl over and begins to fill his soup with the tiny crackers. "Dank yo," he offers.

Mulder is watching him, "Will yours looks more like cracker soup than chili."

"Ah yike it!" Will smiles as he digs his spoon into the lumpy mess.

"Let him be Mulder, the more crackers he uses, the more soup they soak up and the less chance that it will end up on his clothes."

Katherine is trying to reach for a tiny cracker that lies on the table. Mulder catches her and drops a few crackers on her tray. Scully finally sits down next to her and spoons a bit of soup into her mouth. Katherine has gotten to where she refuses to eat baby food, thanks to her father always slipping her his food.

"How was class today?"

"How do you think it was on the day before Christmas?"

"That bad?"

"No, not at all, we had a great time, but no one learned a thing."

"So you're off until Monday then?"

"That's right, you think you can stand having me around that much?"

Scully smiles, "Mulder, we spent eighteen to twenty hours a day together on the road for years, I miss you when you're at the Academy."

Mulder smiles with a slight blush then Scully adds, "Besides you can watch these two while I take down the tree."

"Oh so now I get it, I'm just a baby sitter," he teases.

"But a very sexy one," Scully says kissing his cheek as she gets up to grab the pitcher of milk.

Mulder pokes another spoonful of soup into Katherine's mouth. "Scully, don't you think it seems funny not to have your mom here this year?"

Scully pours herself a glass of milk and sets a sipper cup in front of Will. "I suppose, but it isn't every year that she gets to see both my brothers families at the same time.

Mulder looks over at her, "I'm sorry I couldn't get off so we could join them. If I hadn't had to use the last of my personal days with my medical leave when I got hurt, we could have gone too."

"That's okay Mulder," Scully softly smiles at him, "it couldn't be helped, and my family is here now." Mulder nods but adds, "I know, but I love to show off the kids. I might have been a major screw up at other things in their eyes, but I did something right with these two."

Scully smiles at him, "You certainly did."

Will is currently trying to put a soggy cracker on the bowl of his spoon while his sister is rubbing her button nose with her fist. Scully looks lovingly at the two little messes sitting next to her.

"So what's on the agenda for the rest of the day, Scully?"

"I thought you could take Will outside for awhile so I can clean up the kitchen and pick up the toys in the family room, then when they go down for their nap we can assemble some of the gifts," she says trying not to tip off Will.

"Ah wanna go ou'side an' pay in da sno," Will says, starting to crawl out of his booster seat.

"Easy there buddy, finish your soup."

"But Ah not hun-gee," Will says turning up both hands.

"Well I am," Mulder laughs.

"Hoowee da-dee!" Will pleads.

Soon Mulder and William are out playing in the snow. Scully can see them from her kitchen window, they are laughing and tossing snow at one another. She leaves the dishes and picks up Katherine; soon all four of the Mulder's are out in the snow.

Katherine is in her light green snowsuit, snug and warm except for her cherry red little nose while Will has his blue snowsuit on with a heavy scarf wrapped around his neck.

Mulder rolls three large snowballs and sets them next to each other, creating a wall. Will chases him around it until his father backtracks and scoops him up screaming and giggling. He sets Will down on top of the snowballs where he promptly lies back, huffing and puffing.

Scully holds Katherine by the hands as the baby goose-steps in the bulky clothing. She lets the baby sit down in a patch of clean snow where she immediately picks up a handful in her wool mitten and puts it in her mouth.

Mulder puts his finger to his lips and points to Scully. Will grins in delight as his father creeps up on his mother. Mulder ambushes her from behind, grabbing her around the waist. Scully laughs as they struggle and tumble to the ground, with Mulder landing on top of her. Scully smiles at him as he picks strands of wet hair away from her face and moves in to kiss her. She returns the kiss and wraps her arms around his neck. Suddenly William has had enough of this, "Da-dee come git meee!" He screams from the top of the snowball bench he's perched on.

"Just a minute son," Mulder shouts, "I'm not through kissing your mother."

"You kiss 'er all da time!" Will says tossing his hands in the air.

Mulder and Scully laugh and begin to get up. Katherine has crawled over to her parents and is tossed up in the air by her father. He carries her over to where Will is sitting and lifts Will off the snowballs with his free hand.

Scully turns around to reveal a wet butt on her jeans. Will laughs and points, "Mom, peed 'er pants!"

Mulder laughs as Scully feels her wet bottom. "That isn't funny," she scowls but isn't really mad. "And for your information William, my bottom is wet from the snow."

Scully takes Katherine and heads for the house. "We're going in to get warm and have some cocoa."

Mulder whispers to Will and his son yells out, "Bet'r change ya dwaws!" Mulder and William both laugh as Scully looks back at them with a glare.

Scully has changed into her fleecy sweats while Katherine was so worn out that she went straight to bed.

Mulder comes in wet and red nosed. He takes a hot shower and changes into a pair of sweats while William is running around in his own tiny pair, but for some reason known only to Will, he has put his dress shoes on.

Mulder and Scully are sitting on the couch reading and glancing out at the snow that is still falling outside the window. Will has finally fallen asleep in front of the fire with one of Katherine's rag dolls as his pillow.

Suddenly the phone rings, Scully looks up concerned. "Mulder, if that's Skinner, tell him no."

Mulder gets the phone in the kitchen and comes back in, "You were right Scully, it is Skinner, but he wants you."

Scully gets up to take the phone call.

Mulder picks up William and carries him upstairs; upon returning to the family room he finds Scully staring out the window, wringing her hands. "What's up Scully?" Mulder asks as she nearly jumps out of her skin.

"Mulder, I have to go in," Scully says, without looking him in the eyes.

"Why?" Mulder questions.

"Skinner has an important autopsy he needs done."

"On Christmas Eve!"

Scully grows defensive, "Mulder, people are murdered everyday of the year including Christmas Eve."

Mulder retreats, "Must be a VIP stiff."

"A mayor's daughter, and the mayor has suspected ties to the mob. They found her dead in a rundown motel room, twenty-three hours after she was reported missing."

Mulder sits down on the arm of the couch. "So when do you think you'll be done?"

"I have no idea," Scully sighs, "but the sooner I get there, the sooner I get back."

Mulder walks to her and wraps his arms around her, resting his chin on her head. "The kids and I will be here when you do get done."

Scully just nods her head and pulls away. "I had better go change," she dejectedly replies.

Mulder has washed up the few dishes Scully had left in the sink and remembers the toys they were going to assemble. He heads out to the garage and brings in a huge box with the words 'Pre-School Kitchenette' on the side. He wrestles with the box until he finally gets it in the house. He opens it and dumps out its contents. Plastic pieces clatter to the floor along with bags of parts, sheets of decals and one thin page of instructions that Mulder is currently standing on. He looks over the large plastic pieces and notices that half has a tab and the other half has a slot. "Piece of cake," he smiles.

Ninety minutes later, he is looking at the picture on the side of the box trying to figure out how the oven door goes on. He finally pops it on the plastic hinges but can't get it to stay together without a couple of pieces of duct tape.

He places the last of the decals on the Kitchenette but its too rickety to move so he shoves it in a corner and throws a blanket over it.

He turns around to see Will standing in the doorway rubbing his eyes. "Wha ya doin' da-dee?"

"I'm putting your sister's Christmas present together."

"Wanna see it," Will says.

Mulder lifts the blanket and Will looks under it, then frowns and backs away.

"What do you think of it?"

Will rubs his head and yawns, "Ah don' yike it."

Mulder laughs, "Well, it's not for you."

Will stands there in his pajamas, patting his hands together and grinning, he softly says, "I wanna toy."

Mulder picks him up and rubs his head. "Oh no you don't, Mr. Charmer. I'm not falling for that. You're almost as good as your mother when it comes to getting me to do things."

Just then Katherine can be heard crying. Will's eyes grow wide and he points to the stairs, "Da bee-bee's wake."

"She sure is, we had better go get her." Mulder starts upstairs as Will begins to pucker up. "Oh Will, don't cry. We're going to get her, okay buddy."

Will nods his head and holds back the tears. Katherine is standing up in her crib, reaching through the bars. Mulder puts Will down and picks up the baby only to find she is soaked. "I think I better change you." Mulder takes her to the changing table and begins to change her when the phone rings. Will races into the master bedroom and picks it up but doesn't say a word.

"Hello, Mulder?"

Will breathes into the phone.

"William, is that you?"

"Uh hum," the little boy answers.

"Where's your dad?"

"Wiff da bee-bee, she cwied."

"She did! Why did she cry, Will?"

"She gots wet."

"How did she get wet?"

"She gots wet ou'side."

"Katherine was outside? Let me talk to dad." Scully is beginning to worry.

Will hangs up the phone.

"No, no Will, don't..." Scully realizes its too late.

Mulder walks into the bedroom carrying a now dry Katherine in one arm. "Was that the phone?" He asks Will, as his son starts to crawl up on the big bed.

"Yup," Will grunts out as he pulls himself up.

The phone rings again and this time Mulder picks it up. "Hello."

"Mulder, is Katherine all right?"

"Sure she is, she was wet but that's all."

"How on earth did she get outside?"

Mulder laughs, "She wasn't outside."

"Will said she got wet outside."

Mulder looks over at Will, who is currently rooting under the blankets on the bed while Katherine laughs at him. "He must have thought she was still wet from playing outside. She woke up from her nap wet and I changed her." "Thank goodness," Scully sighs.

"So when are you coming home?"

"I don't know, its slow going, everyone is gone for the holidays so I have to do most of the work myself."

"Scully, come home. Skinner can wait. It isn't fair to you, he's using you."

"But its my job, Mulder," Scully softly says.

"You are coming home tonight, aren't you?"

"I intend too." Scully mumbles.

"I'm calling Skinner," Mulder angrily says.

"No Mulder! Don't."

There is a pause in the conversation.

"We'll wait for you."

"Mulder, I could be hours. Feed the kids dinner and we'll celebrate Christmas Eve with them next year, they hardly know what Christmas is at this age."

Mulder laughs, "Oh Will knows plenty."

Scully sighs, "I better get back so I can get home."

"Scully, be careful, it's been snowing on and off all day."

"Great! I might be spending my Christmas with a corpse."

"I'll wait up for you."

"Thanks. I better go."


Mulder hears the phone line go dead. He sits on the edge of the bed holding his daughter and still toying with the idea of calling Skinner when he hears a loud thud and Will beginning to bawl. He has accidentally crawled off the edge of the bed while under the blankets.

Mulder races around to the other side of the bed and sets Katherine on the floor while he picks up William. "Shh, it's okay buddy." Will is bawling and holding his head.

"Here, let me see it," Mulder says, taking down his sons hand. "It's okay Will, its just a little bump."

Will is still sobbing, "Ah wan ma mom."

Mulder holds him close. "I know, I know, we all do." He realizes Katherine is gone and calls her, but gets no response. He is up in a flash and finds her sitting at the top of the stairs about to take a header down the steps. He scoops her up and carries both kids downstairs.

He bounces them in his arms and they howl in delight as they make their way to the kitchen. "How about some cookies and milk? That will tide us over until dinner." Mulder puts Will down while he sets Katherine in her highchair. Will crawls up on a kitchen chair on his knees and waits for his cookie. His forehead is bright red where he fell and hit the floor.

Soon Mulder has Maggie's homemade cookies in front of each kid along with a bottle of milk for Katherine and a sipper cup for Will. Mulder takes a sip of his coffee and smiles at the pair sitting before him. "You two like those cookies, don't you."

Will grins and rubs his fleecy sleeve across his nose. "Ah yike gamma's cookies."

Katherine stuffs another piece of her broken cookie into her mouth.

"Are you ready for Christmas to come Will?" Mulder asks his son.

"Yup, mom say it heer in do moaning."

Mulder smiles at Will's attempt to put words together. "She's right, tomorrow is Christmas."

Will take a drink of his milk and wipes his mouth on his sleeve and grins up at his father.

Mulder and the kids finish their cookies and milk. They spend the afternoon in the family room. Katherine has been easy to entertain but Will is getting antsy. He can't wait for Santa and he misses his mom.

Daylight is coming to an end, the sky is turning purple and blue but it's only five o'clock. The phone rings and Mulder picks it up. "Hello."

"Hey Mulder, it's me."

"How's it going?"

Scully sighs, "Slow."

"Still don't want me to kick Skinner's ass."

"No, he's been down here twice already."

"So he's pulling an all nighter too?"

"It would seem so."

There is silence for a few moments. "Mulder, how's Katherine and Will?"

"They're fine. We had milk and cookies a couple of hours ago."

Scully rubs her temple and closes her eyes. "You had better figure on feeding them dinner too."

Mulder drops his head. "Sculleee, I really wanted you here tonight," he moans.

"I know Mulder, but you're not making this any easier for me."

Mulder doesn't want to fight so he changes subjects. "I know someone who would love to talk to you."

"Better not be Frohike," Scully says, trying to lighten the mood.

"No, but he's about the same height," Mulder laughs then covers the receiver with his hand. "Will come here and talk to mom," he softly says.

Will runs over to take the phone. He puts it up to his face and grins, then says "Hi."

Scully melts. "Hello William."

"When yo comin' home?" Will pitifully asks.

Scully stiffens to avoid crying, "As soon as I'm done here, Sweetie."


Scully giggles, "I'll try to be home soon, okay?"

Will holds out the phone, "Mom say she be home soon!"

"No, no William, I said I would 'try' to be home soon."

"Too late," Mulder says, having taken the phone from Will.

"Oh," Scully groans.

Mulder toys with the phone cord then says, "Look, I'll feed the kids and wait dinner for you."

"Mulder, really I don't..."

"No Scully, I'll wait."

"Thanks," Scully softly says. "I better get back to work. I have some tox screens to run."

"You be careful coming home tonight."

"I will."



"I love you."

Scully smiles, "I love you too."

December 25, 12:32 AM

Mulder fed the kids around six o'clock and filled the Jacuzzi in the master bath and let his two water babies splash and play until they wore themselves out. He dressed Katherine in the tiny nightgown Scully had bought just for her to wear on Christmas Eve while Will tried to dress himself but Mulder knew there was no way Scully would want him going to bed in his dress pants. So against Will's protest, Mulder redressed his son and took both kids downstairs to sit by the fire. He made Katherine a bottle and rocked her while Will watched A Christmas Story, for the fifth time today.

Soon both kids were tucked into their own beds and are currently sleeping soundly.

Scully walks in the backdoor to find her kitchen neat and clean, not a dish out of place and no food in sight. She rubs her tired neck and stretches before kicking off her shoes. She pads into the family room to find a slowly burning fire, all the presents under the tree, and Mulder asleep on the couch. She smiles at him and stoops down to run her fingers through his hair. "Come on Superman, time for bed."

Mulder slowly wakes up then realizes Scully is home. "Oh, hey there, all done?" He rasps out, rubbing his eyes.

Scully smiles. "Yeah, got all done about an hour ago." She pulls at his flannel sleeve, "Come on time for bed."

"No," Mulder protests. "I made dinner for us."

Scully frowns, "Mulder, there is nothing in the kitchen."

"You go take a quick shower and I'll get it ready." He looks unsure now; "You are hungry, aren't you?"

"Yes," Scully smiles, "I haven't eaten yet." She finds his look endearing.

Mulder runs his hand through his jailbreak hair and heads for the kitchen. "Go on and shower."

"Okay," Scully laughs and shakes her head.

She starts upstairs to shower but stops off at Will's room first. He's asleep in his youth bed, lying on his side with a stuffed horse under his arm. She sits down next to the bed and pulls the blankets over him. She shares a closeness with her son that she doesn't even share with Mulder. For months he was her only link to the man she loved and was grieved to find she'd never see again. William had been her lifesaver, literally. She softly kisses his cheek. His fingers flex and his eyes flutter but he settles back down to sleep.

She next opens Katherine's door and tiptoes to her crib only to find the baby laying there, smiling up at her. Katherine struggles to sit up but Scully comes to her rescue and picks her up. The blanket falls off to reveal the flannel white gown covered in tiny poinsettias that Scully had bought her. "Well look at you Katherine, your dad remembered," Scully laughs as she cradles the baby, holding out one tiny foot. "He even remembered to put socks on you." She sits down on the white rocker and runs her chin over the baby's dark brown curly hair.

Katherine is Scully's daughter but she is Mulder's little girl. Scully can see a look in those deep Mulder eyes that reflect a connection with her father that Scully can only hope for. She rocks her back to sleep and places her back in the crib. Then Scully kisses the baby's fuzzy head and quietly shuts the bedroom door.

She showers and quickly changes into her champagne colored satin pajamas and robe. She finds Mulder sitting on the bottom stair step. She pats him on the shoulder and he slowly stands up and turns to look at her. "Sorry, your daughter was awake and I rocked her back to sleep." A smile covers Mulder's face.

Scully starts for the kitchen but Mulder pulls her to the family room. She finds the coffee table loaded with two plates piled high with cold food. Mulder has prepared thin slices of ham; slices of cheese, quartered boiled eggs, and various bits of fruit and vegetables. Next to each plate is a stemmed glass and a bottle of wine sits off to the side. Mulder blushes, "I didn't know when you'd be home so I thought cold food would be best. I hope you don't mind."

"Mind?" Scully says popping a slice of apple into her mouth. "Mulder, this looks wonderful."

They sit down next to each other with their backs against the couch. Mulder points a remote at the stereo and soon Christmas music floats through the room. The couple eats in silence for a few moments then Mulder speaks up. "How'd it go?"

Scully finishes her bite, "I finally figured out what happened, she had valium and liquor in her system but not in amounts normally fatal but she suffered from bronchial asthma and the combination of liquor and drugs suppressed her already over-burdened respiratory system to the point of heart failure." Scully pops a small pickle into her mouth. "It was such a waste of life."

Mulder rubs her back. "At least you were able to bring some closure to her family."

"Yeah," she sighs, "I guess you're right." Scully looks up at Mulder with a smile on her face.


"You put Katherine in the new gown I bought her to wear on Christmas Eve."

"Of course I did."

"And you put socks on her feet."

"I'm not a total knuckle-dragger, Scully. I thought her feet might get cold."

Scully smiles at her partner and nudges him with her arm then she spies the blanket in the corner. "Mulder, what is that?"

He looks over his shoulder, then gets up. "That's Katherine's Pre-School kitchen I put together."

Scully gets up brushing the crumbs from her robe as she walks over to the blanket and lifts the corner. She stares at the pile of plastic for a moment then asks, "Mulder, why does the dishwasher have a label on it that says microwave?"

Mulder lifts the blanket. "Damn, no wonder Will didn't like it."

Scully holds her fingers to her lips, trying to suppress a laugh. "That's okay, we can take care of it tomorrow."

Mulder rubs her satiny back. "Scully it is tomorrow, we will be woken up in four hours by our Christmas Elf."

"Better not be Frohike."

"No, same height though."

Scully laughs and runs her arm around Mulder's back then pulls away. "We forgot their cars!"

"No it's all taken care of."

"But they're not in here," Scully says, looking around. "Come here," Mulder wiggles his finger. He opens the backdoor and steps into the garage with Scully tagging along behind him. They walk past the two SUV's sitting in the garage to find two little cars parked side by side with the batteries being charged.

Scully has to laugh, "Oh how cute! They have their own parking spaces."

"I thought we would open everything else, eat a big breakfast then once they're dressed, we can show them the cars. That way they can play with them until dinner time."

Scully rubs her chilled arms and frowns, "That's a good idea Mulder, but I don't think Katherine can run hers by herself yet."

"No but Will's Tracker is a two-seater, we'll just have to rig up a seat belt for her."

"Well, I want her bike helmet on her too."

"Then it's okay?"

Scully looks up to see the boyish look of wonderment in Mulder's eyes. "It's more than okay, it's a great idea."

Mulder pulls her close as she yawns. "Come on Scully, you need to be in bed."

"I agree," Scully yawns once more.

They walk back into the house. "You go on upstairs," Mulder says. "I'll shut everything off down here."

"Okay," Scully mumbles, "but don't be long."

"I won't," he assures her.

Mulder checks the locks, adjusts the heat, and picks up the empty plates and glasses. He turns out the kitchen lights and starts to turn off the lights on the Christmas tree but he hesitates and sits down. He stares at the beautiful pine tree standing before him. His eyes grow red as he rests his chin on his fisted hands and softly says to himself, "I finally understand what Christmas is." Then he shuts out the lights and pads up the stairs to sleep with his family.

~ 14 Christmas ~

Fox Mulder dozes, he dreams of the early days of his partnership with the fair Scully, the stakeouts, the endless hours in the basement, the sheer joy of hearing her call his name.

"Da-dee, da-dee, wake up!"

Where the hell did that come from, Scully never called him daddy before.

He lies flat of his stomach with one arm draped off the bed and the side of his face mashed into the mattress.

"Da-dee, da-dee!"

There she goes again. This time Mulder cracks his eye open, the one that isn't mashed into the mattress, yup its Scully's blue eyes but they're on a cherubic face that's grinning at him while trying to pull him off the bed by his T-shirt.

"Da-dee, da-dee wake up. Sanee Caws comed was' nigh'."

Da-dee? Santa Claus? Oh Will!

Mulder turns his head to face his pajama-clad son and puts out his arms. Will crawls up onto the bed and snuggles up to his father. "Da-dee, Sanee Caws comed!" He says, patting Mulder's cheeks.

Mulder runs his hand through his hair as he clears the sleep from his eyes. "Oh right, Santa Claus," he croaks out.

Will pulls away and starts to crawl off the bed. "Wanna see ma toyz."

Mulder rises up on one elbow. "Hold on buddy, not everyone is awake yet."

Will slides off the bed. "'kay, I git da bee-bee!" He says and runs toward the door.

Mulder flops back on the bed until William's last statement registers in his head, then his eyes pop open and he jumps from the bed. "No Will! Let me get the baby up."

Mulder finds Katherine sitting up, plastered against the back of her crib as her brother tries to lower the rail to get her out. Mulder scoops her up and turns to look down at his son, "Let me change her, and you need to use the potty chair, then we'll get mom up."

"I'm up," a groggy, yawning Scully says, shuffling in.

"Sanee Caws comed, mom!" Will yells.

Scully takes him by the hand. "Will, you'll just have to wait until you go potty, then we'll go downstairs." She leads him to his own bedroom but not before she yells over her shoulder, "Mulder, when you get downstairs turn on the coffee, will you?"

Mulder lifts the now dry Katherine up in his arms. "I set the timer last night, it's been done for half an hour."

"You're a saint!" Scully yells, before closing Will's bathroom door.

Mulder rubs his nose across his daughter's own little button nose. "Saint Mulder, I like the sound of that, Katherine."

Soon all four Mulder's are descending the staircase. Scully has Will by the hand so he doesn't fall in his highly excited state, while Mulder clutches Katherine to his chest.

They round the corner of the family room and Will's big, blue eyes grow large at the sight of the gaily-wrapped boxes under the tree and bulky stockings hanging from the mantle. "Chriwsmus, Da-dee!" He shrieks, jumping up and down. Katherine is feeding off her brother's excitement and wants down too.

Mulder sits down on the couch and stands the baby up on the coffee table, something that doesn't go over well with her. "Sure you don't want to eat breakfast first?" Mulder teases his son.

The little boy stops jumping and looks at his father with one raised eyebrow. Mulder is beside himself with laughter and even Scully has to join in.

"No Will, dad is teasing you," Scully says, "but I do need a cup of coffee."

Scully walks to the kitchen with William hot on her heels, making sure she gets coffee and only coffee. She carries two steaming hot mugs back to the family room where Mulder is still holding Katherine. She sits his mug on the coffee table, out of reach of the baby, then takes a sip from her own mug. "Okay William, let's you and me play Santa this year and hand out the presents."

"Aw wight!" Will jumps in agreement.

Scully sits down next to the tree and picks up a gift, "W, i, l, l."

Will's eyes grow wide, "Dat's me!"

Scully laughs, "It sure is."

"Kin Ah open dis?" Will asks.

"Don't you want all your gifts, then you can open them all at once."

Will is torn by indecision but finally agrees.

Katherine has had enough of being held and wants down where all the excitement is taking place. Mulder sets her on the floor but she can't crawl in the long gown, it begins to make her mad and she starts to bawl. He picks her up and pulls the nightgown over her head, leaving her in a diaper, T-shirt, and socks.

Scully hands Will the gifts and he distributes them to Mulder and Katherine, and piles his mother's on the couch for her. When Scully comes to the presents behind the tree, he willingly crawls on his tummy to pull them out.

Mulder watches this mother and son team with a broad smile on his face while Katherine is busy trying to get a sticky bow off her hand.

Soon there is a large pile of presents sitting before each of them.

Scully lifts Katherine off the floor and sits down next to Mulder. "Now you can open your gifts," she says to her son.

Will giggles in delight as he makes short use of the wrapping paper. "A twuck!" He screams, unwrapping the remote-controlled Hummer.

Mulder sits on the floor next to Katherine's pile of gifts, "Here Scully, put her down and we'll help her open her things then we'll open ours together.

Scully sits down between her children as William screams, "Wood!"

Mulder laughs, "No Will those are Lincoln Logs."

"Yincoln Yogs!" Will corrects.

Katherine scratches at her package, and with her mother's help, manages to open her Aqua Pad. The stars and glitter floating around in it instantly mesmerize her.

"Oh boy, a boat!" William shrieks.

"You can play with that in the pool this summer," Scully tells him.

"And in yo' big baff tub," William adds.

Mulder is busy trying to entice Katherine to open another gift but she won't leave the Aqua Pad.

"Ah gots a ball!" Will yells, tossing paper behind him.

"That's a T-ball set, Will. I'll set it up in the garage for you."

Mulder starts to lift Katherine off the Aqua Pad but she stiffens up and begins to cry.

"Might as well leave her, Mulder. Will can help her open her gifts later."

"A twain!" Will shouts in delight.

Mulder smiles at his son, "It sure is, buddy."

Katherine has finally grown tired of her toy and starts to open another present. Will begins to laugh, "She gots a naged baby!"

Scully corrects him, "No, that is a dolly Katherine can play with in the bath tub."

"Ah see iz butt," Will laughs causing Mulder to spit coffee all over his T-shirt.

Scully runs her tongue over her bottom lip, trying not to laugh. "Will, why don't you open another gift?" She says trying to distract the toddler.

Katherine opens her See-and-Say and right away Will is fascinated by it, that is until his sister tries to eat the remote control to his boat, then all hell breaks loose until Scully gets each child back to their own toys.

"Ah gots guves." Will frowns at the pair of mittens he's received, then drops them to tear into another gift.

Katherine manages to get her next present unwrapped; it's a musical farm animal keyboard. She presses the chicken and it clucks she presses the cow and it moos, which sends her into fits of laugher.

"I think you're going to get tired of hearing that cow, Scully," Mulder laughs.

"We'll just save it for when you're home," Scully smiles back.

Will has opened his last present and sits among the mountain of gift-wrap, the top of his head barely visible.

"Will, you haven't looked in your stocking yet."

The little boy's eyes light up as he cuts a path through the paper to get to the fireplace, only he can't reach his stocking. "Da-dee," Will pleads, "hep me!"

Mulder hands Will his stocking and gives Katherine's to Scully. Will empties his on the floor to find it's filled with Matchbox cars, tiny farm animals, and candy. Katherine finds a rattle, hair barrettes and teething biscuits in hers.

Mulder sits back down next to Scully, "Well, are we going to open our gifts or just sit here?"

Scully hands him a box, "Will picked this out for you, in fact he insisted we buy it."

"Okay," Mulder says with a puzzled look on his face as he opens the gift from his son. He starts to laugh, "Thank you William, I always wanted a Dale Ernhart mug."

Scully starts to unwrap a big, long box. "Scully, your mom helped me pick this out." She pulls the lid off to reveal a beautiful, camel colored, Cashmere, calf-length coat.

"Mulder, this is wonderful!" Scully says, slipping on the coat and cinching the belt. She puts her hand in the pocket and pulls out a plastic card. "What's this?"

"It's a gift card to a shoe shop, I thought you might want to pick out a pair of boots to match it."

Scully kisses Mulder and unties the coat taking it to the hall closet to hang it up. She returns to find Katherine asleep on her Aqua Pad clutching her naked baby. William is running his remote-controlled Hummer through the mountain of paper and into the kitchen.

Scully hands Mulder a long rectangular box. "Wow, that's heavy," he groans.

"It's your personnel file, I had it bound for you," Scully grins.

Mulder laughs and begins to tear away the paper to reveal a telescope. "Oh, Scully, this is great!"

"I thought you could watch the sky from our bedroom balcony."

Mulder runs his hand over the brass beauty. "This must have cost you a small fortune."

"It's our money, you keep reminding me, so it cost us."

Mulder looks up at her, "I'm glad you finally feel comfortable spending money, especially when you're spending it on me."

"Oh you!" Scully says hitting him on the arm just as Will's Hummer comes racing back into the room. Mulder jumps up to grab the car before it runs over the sleeping baby."

"Will!" Scully yells. "You almost hit your sister, go play in the other room."

"Wait Scully," Mulder says, "let me put her in the playpen. Will wants to run his truck through the paper."

"Yeah!" Will agrees.

"All right, but put all your toys on the coffee table so you don't crush any of them."

Between Will and Mulder they have all his toys piled on the table.

Scully grabs another mug of coffee and sits down next to Mulder; he hands her an envelope. "Must be a gift certificate," she laughs. Scully opens it to find it's for a day at the spa. "Mulder, this is what we got my mom," Scully says a bit puzzled.

"I know, I thought the two of you could go together."

"Thank you," Scully says, kissing his cheek.

Mulder picks up an envelope and shakes it, "If this is for a day at the spa, we're going to need a baby sitter." He opens the envelope to reveal two tickets to the Wizard's game."

"Those are for when the Knick's come to town, I thought you could take Will."

Mulder's face breaks out in a broad smile. "You can never start them out too young, Scully." He kisses her forehead, "Thanks."

Scully opens a sweater and a subscription to a cooking magazine and a collection of exotic bath oils while Mulder finds two new games for the Play Station, several silk shirts and a new pair a flannel pajama bottoms.

The couple sits back into the sofa, shoulder to shoulder, and watch Will wreck havoc on the wrapping paper. Suddenly Scully jumps up; "I'll be right back."

She returns with what looks like a small photo album, clutching it to her chest she begins to explain, "Mulder, remember when we had the Christmas photographs taken and you said you would like to have some of me in my new blue dress?" She sits down next to him as he scoots forward on the couch. "Well, one afternoon I went to Glamour Shots, and I swear if you tell anyone I went there I will hurt you!"

Mulder chuckles at Scully's apprehension.

"Well anyway, here are the pictures from the session." Scully hands him the little album.

Mulder begins to flip through the pictures but stops at the first one, mesmerized by the beauty staring back at him from the photo. He doesn't say a word but slowly, almost with reverence, looks at each picture. Scully begins to get nervous. "Well?"

"I, I don't know what to say Scully," he looks up at her, "I always knew you were pretty but these are breathtaking."

Scully's eye grow wide. "You like them?"

Mulder looks stunned, "Like them, I love them and I know how hard it must have been for you to do this, that makes it all the more special."

"Just one more thing Mulder, no one sees these but you!"

"Not even Frohike?"

"Especially Frohike," Scully growls. Mulder pulls her over and kisses her forehead.

Will has chopped all the wrapping paper up into tiny pieces with his remote-controlled Hummer. He tucks the remote under his arm and walks over to where Mulder and Scully are sitting. He pats his mother's leg, "Mom, Ah hun-gee!"

Scully looks over at the mess. "But I have all this to clean up before I can get breakfast," she says, sweeping out her arms.

Will looks back over his shoulder then starts to pick up the little pieces of paper.

Mulder stands up and laughs, "He must be hungry if he's willing to help do the housework. Tell you what Scully, I'll get a garbage bag and help our little elf here, if you'll make us a big breakfast."

Scully gets up, "Sounds good to me."

Half an hour later, the smell of breakfast cooking drifts into the now reasonably clean family room, Mulder and Will sniff at the air, "Come on buddy let's eat."

Mulder carries his son into the kitchen on his shoulders, "Your men are hungry."

Will parrots, "Yo men aw hun-gee!"

Mulder laughs as he sets his son down on his booster seat. "Ah hun-gee!" Will chimes.

Scully sets a plate of fluffy scrambled eggs in the middle of the table just as Katherine begins to cry. "I'll get her," Mulder says, jumping up from the table. She next puts a large plate of sausage links out, along with a plate of buttered toast, and begins to pour everyone a glass of juice, as Will reaches over to steal a sausage from the plate. Scully merely smiles at her son.

Mulder walks in with Katherine in his arms and a concerned look on his face. He puts his hand to her forehead. "Scully, she feels warm."

Scully immediately switches into doctor mode. She feels Katherine's forehead. "Let me get the aural thermometer."

Katherine lays her head against her father's chest as the tears roll down her cheeks. She coughs a deep, raspy cough and begins to whimper. Scully returns with the thermometer and checks her temperature. She pulls back the thermometer, "It's 101.2."

"What do you think it is?" Mulder asks with concern in his voice.

"Could be the flu, could be several things. Let me take her and you fix Will's plate."

Scully carries the baby upstairs while Mulder sits down with William.

Will has pulled the plate of eggs over and is currently eating scrambled eggs by the handful.

"Here Will, let me help you." Mulder scoops a couple of spoonfuls of eggs on to his plate and adds a link of sausage. Will points to the juice so Mulder fills his cup.

Scully comes downstairs with Katherine. "She has a touch of diarrhea, and I gave her some baby Tylenol for the fever." Scully walks past the table and opens the fridge. "Mulder, can you hold her?"

Mulder takes the lethargic baby while Scully fixes her a bottle of Pedialyte water. "You eat, let me feed her," Mulder says holds out his hand for the bottle.

Scully hesitates but sits down to fill her plate, but before she can get a bite in her mouth the Pedialyte all comes back up. "Oh Mulder," Scully whines as she sees his soaked shirt. She gets up to take the baby, who is now beginning to cry.

"Da bee-bee fowd up!" Will announces. "I know," Scully says, pushing her hair behind her ear.

Mulder steps into the laundry room to find a clean T-shirt while Scully carries Katherine upstairs to change her pajamas.

Mulder comes back into the kitchen pulling a gray T-shirt over his head just as the phone rings, "Hello."

"Merry Christmas, Fox!"

"Hello Maggie, Merry Christmas."

"Is Dana there?"

"Actually she's upstairs with Katherine, she's sick."

"Katherine is sick! What's wrong?"

"We're not sure. She woke up from her nap with a fever and diarrhea, and then she vomited.

"Oh my! What does Dana think it is?"

"She's not sure, it came on so suddenly."

"Look Fox, I'm sure she's busy so I'll call back later, but if anything changes you call me here at Bill's."

"I will."

"I'll let you go, give my love to everyone."

"I will."

"Bye son."

"Bye Maggie."

Scully hasn't come back downstairs yet and Mulder is starting to get worried. He looks over at his son, "Are you done eating, Will?"

"Um hum," Will says eating the last bite of his sausage.

Mulder lifts him up and sets him on the counter to wash his face and hands then he carries him into the living room. "You play with your toys until I come back downstairs."

Will starts to paw through his toys laying on the coffee table but settles on Katherine's See-and-Say.

Mulder takes the stairs two at a time and finds Scully in the baby's room, rocking the sick child. "Scully, why is it so cold in here?" Mulder says, rubbing his arms.

"Her fever went to 102.6 so I cut the heat in her room. She vomited all the Tylenol up that I gave her. I did get another dose down her, I just hope it stays down."

Mulder stoops down beside the rocker and runs his hand through Katherine's curly, brown hair while Scully gives her a little more plain water. "She's so little to be so sick," Mulder whispers.

Scully tries to reassure him, "Mulder, William was this sick when he was younger than she is."

Mulder frowns, "I remember, that was one of the longest nights of my life."

Scully clutches his hand. "We won't let anything happen to her." She no sooner gets those words out when Katherine vomits up the water. "Oh sweetie," Scully moans as she gets up to take the baby into the bathroom.

Mulder follows her in. "Scully, now I'm starting to get scared."

Scully holds Katherine over the sink and pats her back, not wanting her to inhale the vomit. "Mulder go get dressed and dress William," she calmly says. "I'll change Katherine and get dressed, while you warm up the car and buckle Will in. I think we should head for the ER."

Mulder goes white and his eyes grow wide. Scully softly says, "She needs to be re-hydrated, that's all."

Mulder numbly nods and takes off to change his clothes.

Soon William is buckled into his car seat while Scully carries a bundled up Katherine out to the SUV. She puts her in the carrier and sits down next to her. They round the curved driveway and head for DC General.

Mulder carries his ill daughter through the pneumatic ER doors while Scully and Will hurry along to keep up with him. He pulls the blanket away from Katherine's face, afraid of her lack of sound or movement, but she looks up at him through dull eyes. He forces himself to calm down as a nurse approaches. Scully steps up to speak with her.

Mulder looks around the waiting room, thankful to see it is sparsely populated. Scully returns to him and pulls the blanket down to see her daughter who is currently chewing on her fingers. "She said it would be just a few minutes," Scully softly says. Mulder nods but remains silent.

Will has brought Katherine's See-and-Say with him and is sitting on the floor playing with it. The baby hears the sound coming from it and tries to look beyond the blanket but she can't see it.

"Katherine Mulder," a nurse announces. Mulder follows her while Scully gathers up William.

They are led to a cubical and Will watches in wonderment as the nurse draws the curtain to contain them.

"Here Mulder, let me take her," Scully says. "They'll want to examine her."

Mulder hands the baby to her mother and swallows hard, "What are they going to do to her, because you know how Will gets if she cries." Mulder is rambling now. "I just don't want him to be upset if, if its bad."

Scully realizes Mulder is uncomfortable. "I agree, why don't you take him to the waiting room. I'll make sure they update him, I mean you."

Mulder purses his lips and nods his head. He scoops up William and turns. "I can stay if you want, it's just that with you being a doctor and all..."

"No Mulder, its okay," Scully assures him.

He carries William out to the waiting room then it dawns on him; they left the damn diaper bag at home. Hoping to head off disaster he asks, "Will do you need to use the potty chair?"

Will looks at his father with large, blue eyes and says, "Iz at home."

Mulder laughs for the first time in hours. "I think we can figure something out." They take off looking for a rest room.

Ten minutes later Mulder and William are back in the waiting room. Will is playing with the See-and-Say while Mulder is staring at his shoes. His cell rings causing him to jump. "Hello."

"Fox, it's me."

"Hello Maggie."

"I didn't hear from you and I tried the house, but didn't get an answer."

"We're in the ER."

"Oh dear!"

"It's okay, the doctors are in with Katherine now."

"Where is William?"

"He's in the waiting room with me."

"With you? Oh son, I should have been there so you could be with Dana."

Mulder winces and rubs his forehead. "We're doing okay. Look I'll call you when I hear anything."

"I'll be waiting to hear from you."

"Bye Maggie."

"Bye son."

Mulder paces the floor and stares holes into the door that separates him from his daughter."

Will tires of the See-and-Say and wanders around the room entertaining the elderly women that are waiting on various relatives. Several other people seeking emergency care, enter the waiting room. Mulder brings William back to where they were sitting and places his son on his lap.

Will looks around, "Ah wan' see ma mom."

"I know buddy, but she's with Katherine."

"Ah wan' go too." Mulder smiles and rubs Will's back. "Katherine is sick and the doctors are with her."

"She fowd up," Will explains while grasping his hands and raising his shoulders.

"Yes she did, she's a sick baby."

"She cwied," William says looking at his father with large, blue eyes.

"Yes she did."

Just then William looks beyond Mulder. "Mom!" He scurries off his father's lap to race to his mother.

Mulder stands up and nervously pulls down his sweater. Scully walks over to him carrying William. "They have decided to admit her."

Mulder's eyes grow wide, "Why?"

"They think it's the flu."

"But we all had flu shots."

Scully shakes her head, "Not for this strain. They have checked her blood and there is some dehydration and they have started her on Comazine for the vomiting, which she did while they were examining her."

"So, can we see her?" Mulder asks, unsure of what to expect.

"They are transferring her to the pediatric care unit, then we can go up," Scully says glancing at her watch. She sets Will down and looks at her stained sweater and pulls it away from her stomach. "I'm going to clean up, I'll be right back." She takes William by the hand, "Come on sweetie."

Mulder slumps against the wall, forcing his hands into the pockets on his jeans and drops his head; Scully returns to find him still standing in the same position.

"How's her fever?" He asks, not looking up.

"It was over 103 this time. They'll put a fever reducer through the IV." Mulder frowns at the thought of an IV being stuck into his daughter.

"Come on, lets go find Pediatric Care," Scully says, grabbing Mulder's hand. He picks up his son while Scully gathers up their coats and the toy.

Soon they are on the fifth floor, walking down a gaily decorated hallway that leads to a circular room divided into cubicles, each one filled with a sick child and concerned parents. Scully approaches the desk, "I'm here for Katherine Mulder; I'm her mother, Dana."

A pretty nurse smiles up at her from the desk. "Yes, our newest flu patient."

"So you have seen a lot of that?"

"Look around," the nurse motions with her hand, "nearly all these kids are in here because of the flu." Then she smiles at Scully and reassures her, "We take good care of them." She walks from behind the counter and spots Will. "Oh my, are you the older brother?"

Will hides behind Mulder's leg. Scully looks down at her son; "He can be shy."

The nurse rubs his head. "Just watch him for symptoms." She leads them to cubicle eight and stops at the entrance. Another nurse is busy checking the monitors; she turns to face Mulder and Scully. "She's resting now but you can see her," the nurse says before leaving to give them time to be with their daughter. Scully moves to the right side of the metal crib and begins to examine the readings on the monitors. Mulder stiffly walks up to the crib Katherine lies in and looks down at his ill daughter. "Scully, how did she catch this, we were so careful."

Scully looks down. "They can pick viruses up anywhere, Mulder. Remember the photos we had taken, the studio was filled with kids."

"But Will was the one mingling, not Katherine."

"That's true, but she hasn't yet developed the immune system Will has."

Mulder looks his daughter over from head to toe. "Scully, why is the IV bag at the foot of the crib?"

"Because they put the IV in her foot, babies tend to pull them out of their arms."

Mulder frowns. "Doesn't that hurt?"

"No more than in her arm."

"What are they giving her?"

Scully looks at the bag. "It's mostly fluids to re-hydrate her."

Scully finally gets a good look at Mulder and frowns, "Mulder, you don't look so good, maybe you should sit down."

Mulder lifts Will up a little higher in his arms. "I'm fine," then it dawns on him, "I need to call your mom."

"My mom?"

"She called twice, and I need to let her know how Katherine is." Mulder hesitates then asks, "Scully, how is she?"

Scully sighs, "Mulder, she is sick, very sick but they have her stabilized." Scully can tell he isn't handling this week. "Look Mulder, I'll go call mom, you stay here and don't let Will run around."

Mulder just nods.

A short, chunky woman in a lab coat walks in. "I understand you're the father," she says looking down at a chart in her hand.

"Yes," Mulder croaks out.

"I'm Doctor Haber, I tended to your daughter in the ER."

"Thank you."

"You're welcome," she smiles. "Mr. Mulder it appears to be the flu. We need to let it run its course but keep her hydrated and the fever down. "If all goes well, she'll be released tomorrow."

Mulder looks up at the doctor; "Can we stay the night?"

She chuckles, "Well your wife can, but this little one," she says, pointing to William, "needs to go home."

Will blinks his big, blue eyes at her just as Scully walks into the cubicle, "All done." She then realizes the doctor is there. "Hello Doctor Haber, any news?"

"Nothing, except I was telling Fox that barring complications Katherine can go home tomorrow."

"That's good news," Scully says, more for Mulders benefit.

"Well the chair folds out into a semi-comfortable bed," the doctor laughs then starts to leave but adds, "I'll be back in the morning."

"Thank you," Scully says.

A few moments pass then Scully says, "Mulder, it looks like our Christmas dinner is on hold, can you feed William and make sure he gets to bed early?"

"No," Mulder says shaking his head, and then looking directly at Scully, "I'm staying here tonight."

Scully is surprised. "Mulder, I can..."

"No Scully, please let me be the one to stay." He leans over the metal crib railing and drags his fingers gently through the little head of soft, brown curls. "I feel like she needs me here tonight."

Scully rubs his arm. "I understand Mulder, if anything..."

"Changes; I'll call you." Mulder steps from beside the crib and wraps his arms around Scully. "I'll make sure they take good care of her."

"I know you will."

"Speaking of Will, where is he?"

"One guess," Scully says then looks under the crib and flips her thumb out. "Come on Will, we're going home."

"Iz da bee-bee comin' too?"

"No she isn't Will, Katherine's sick." Scully watches, as Will reaches through the metal bars and touches his sister's arm then pulls his hand back, unsure of what's going on.

Mulder lifts William up and kisses his cheek, "You be good for mom, and the baby will be home tomorrow."

"'kay," William replies.

Mulder sets Will down on his feet as a nurse comes in to check on Katherine. Scully takes her son by the hand and they start to leave then she looks back. "Mulder, its still fairly early, I can stay for awhile."

"Scully, you worked yesterday until well after midnight and you got what, three hours sleep and Will was up late last night and up early today, go home, get some sleep." He looks over at Katherine. "We'll be fine."

Scully takes Will by the hand and they head for the elevators.

The nurse lifts the blanket to check on the IV. Mulder sees it and goes green around the gills. The nurse notices him and pulls the chair over. "Easy there dad," she says, gently pushing him down into the chair.

"Does it hurt her? I mean can she feel it?"

"Not really," the nurse smiles, "babies are pretty resilient."

Several hours later the same nurse finds Mulder hovering over the crib. "Mr. Mulder..."

"Its just Mulder," he says, not taking his eyes off his daughter.

"Okay. Mulder, why don't you take a break and grab a cup of coffee."

Mulder shakes his head then asks, "Why is she so still, she is normally a squirmer."

The nurse moves in to stand on the other side of the crib. "Babies need lots of sleep to get well, it's actually good for her to sleep." She checks the baby's diaper, "I know someone who needs changing and that's a good sign."

"It is?" Mulder excitedly asks.

"It means her kidneys are functioning and she's re-hydrating."

The nurse lowers the railing to change Katherine but Mulder stops her, "Please, let me do that."

"Sure, just be careful of the IV."

Mulder gently changes his daughter and pulls the blanket back over her. "She doesn't feel as hot as she did earlier."

The nurse points to the monitor, "She isn't, her temp is down to 101.5"

"That's good!" Mulder excitedly replies.

"That's very good," the nurse smiles.

It's nearing 1:00 AM but Mulder hasn't moved from the chair.

The same nurse looks in on him, "Mulder, I'll stay here if you want to get some coffee or food."

"No, thanks." Mulder shakes his head, not looking beyond his daughter.

Ten minutes later the nurse returns with a Styrofoam cup of coffee and a turkey sandwich. "Look, I feed all the stray cats in my neighborhood, so I'm feeding you too."

For the first time in hours Mulder smiles and takes the offered coffee and food.

The nurse rests her arms on the metal crib and studies Mulder. "You're sure a good sitter," she comments.

Mulder swallows a bite of turkey. "I work for the FBI, I'm use to sitting during stakeouts."

"The FBI, isn't that dangerous?" The nurse frowns.

"It used to be, but now I mostly teach at the academy."

"So your wife is a doctor, I heard."

Mulder smiles and finishes another bite. "She's actually a pathologist and was my FBI partner for seven years."

The nurse, Mulder can tell, is dying to ask the universal question about fraternization. "We became involved in our seventh year and decided we were both ready for a change. The change included our son and our jobs."

The nurse smiles and puts a hand on her hip. "I admire you, Mulder."

"Me. Why?"

"Yes you, this place is full of sick kids all with mom's watching over them tonight, you're the only father here."

Mulder shrugs, "Maybe they have to work in the morning."

The nurse narrows her eyes, "I'll bet even if you had to work in the morning you'd be here tonight."

Mulder chuckles slightly embarrassed. "I'm here tonight because she needs me," he says getting up and setting his coffee down. He leans over the rail and tugs at the tiny blanket covering his daughter.

3:00 AM

Mulder is sitting forward in the chair, resting his chin on his fisted hands. Katherine suddenly begins to move around, she seems disoriented. Mulder jump up and looks over the railing at her, she looks up at her father and struggles to sit up. Mulder panics and calls for the nurse. He looks up at the nurse with wide eyes, "What's she doing?"

The nurse looks down at the baby and smiles, "She recognizes you and wants to be held." "But she's got all those wires attached to her and that IV."

The nurse begins to unhook the tiny wires from his daughter. "Sit down Mulder, you can hold her if you're careful with the IV line."

Mulder sits down in the chair and holds out his hands. The nurse wraps his daughter in a small blanket and hands her to him. He carefully takes her in his arms. He smiles down at her then looks up at the nurse and quietly says, "I haven't been this nervous holding her since she was born."

"Don't worry Mulder, kids are pretty tough."

"It's just that Scully, I mean Dana, was never supposed to be able to have children. Our son was a miracle but this little one," he says looking down at his daughter, "was a gift."

The nurse is visibly moved by Mulder's confession. "Why don't you see if you can get her back to sleep and I'll be back in a few minutes."

Mulder holds his daughter tight; almost as if he loosens his grip he'll loose her. Katherine is staring up at her father as the nurse comes back in. "Here Mulder, try giving her this, lets see if she can keep a little water down, but don't give her more than an ounce."

Mulder tips the bottle up; Katherine takes it and reaches up to grab his thumb in her tiny hand. This simple act brings a smile to her father's face.

4:00 AM

The nurse comes in, "Ready to lay her down?"

Mulder looks up; "Do I have to?"

"No, but let me check her temp." The nurse picks up an aural thermometer to check the baby's temperature. "100.9, that's an improvement."

"It's coming down then," Mulder smiles.

"Yes it is, I'll check back in a little while."

5:00 AM

The nurse returns to find Mulder's head tipped back with his eyes closed, still clutching his sleeping daughter. She moves in to take Katherine from him. "I'm not sleeping," he says, while his eyes slowly open.

"Mulder, I need to change her and hook up the monitors again."

Mulder looks down at his sleeping daughter but finally relinquishes her. The nurse lays Katherine in her crib and begins to hook the leads back up.

Mulder stiffly gets up to stretch and bends over to loosen up his back then takes a couple of steps.

The nurse looks back at him, "Look Mulder, go get some coffee or go pee, just do something."

Mulder's face gets red. "You had to say that didn't you."

The nurse starts to change Katherine, "Down the hall and to the left."

"Thanks, I'll be right back."

"I was expecting that," the nurse mumbles.

6:00 AM

Katherine is sleeping soundly but begins to squirm and whimper, Mulder is out of the chair in a flash. He steps out of the cubical and catches his new friend's eye. "What's up?" The nurse says rounding the corner of the cubicle.

"She's awake and starting to cry."

The nurse looks down at the child who is currently waving her arms and building up for a good cry. "I think she's feeling better and demanding to be changed, maybe we can even get something in her tummy." The nurse checks all the monitors and makes some notes.

For the first time since Mulder brought Katherine in, he finally lets out a huge puff of air. "She's going to be all right then?"

The nurse smiles, "Don't worry dad, she's still got the flu but she is over the worst of it. "Let me go see if I can get her something to eat."

Mulder leans over the railing and lets his daughter grab his finger. She smiles up at him, baring two tiny bottom teeth. "That's the most beautiful smile I've ever seen from you," he says as the nurse returns.

"Here you go Katherine, lets see how you handle this." The nurse lowers the rail and lifts the baby out of the crib. "Sit down Mulder, my shift is nearly over, so you get the honor." She unhooks the monitors and hands the baby to her father.

Mulder takes his tiny jewel from her and looks down at his daughter and then back up at the nurse. "Thank you."

"You're welcome, if I don't see you tomorrow, you take care of that little one, she's a keeper." The nurse winks at Mulder and smiles.

Katherine eagerly takes the offered bottle of formula and for the first time she scans her surroundings. "I'll bet you are wondering where you are." Her eyes snap back to her father. "You were a very sick little girl." Mulder rubs his fingers across her tiny cheek, Katherine responds with a weak grin. "I'm sorry about not being there for you, or your mom, when they did all those awful things to you in the ER, but I chickened out. See, it's hard for me to see you, or your brother, or your mom in pain."

Katherine blinks her eyes and stops feeding, as if she is concentrating on what her father is saying. "See Katherine, I used to do that to your mom, ditch her when she needed me most, but I always came back to see her through whatever she was going through. I guess I did that to you too, but I'm here now and I was here last night. I don't know if it mattered to you but it mattered to me."



8:00 AM

Mulder is sitting in the chair holding his daughter when he hears the familiar staccato click of heels on the tile floor and the unmistakable tap, tap, tap of a little pair of cowboy boots. He looks up to see Scully's fiery hair. "If they let you hold her, she must be doing better," she smiles, approaching the sleeping baby and running her fingers through the silky, brown curls.

"I was able to hold her most of the night," Mulder softly croaks out.

Scully frowns and rubs his cheek with the back of her knuckles. "Mulder, just how much sleep did you get?" She questions.

Mulder shakes his tired head and with a smile says, "Not a bit."

Scully crouches down next to him. "Why not; did she get worse?"

"No, she steadily got better but I didn't stay here so I could sleep."

Mulder frowns and looks past Scully to William. "Scully, why is he wearing dress pants with cowboy boots?"

Scully shrugs and looks back at her son, "I have no idea but he wouldn't give them up." Mulder simply nods his head. "So, did you two do okay last night?"

"We did just fine," Mulder says, looking down at his sleeping daughter. "How did it go at home?"

"The house looks just like it did twenty-four hours ago," Scully smiles, "Will and I went home, I made another breakfast for us, he played with his toys and I laid down on the couch to watch him and the next thing I knew it was 7AM. Will slept in the middle of a pile of toys and I spent the night on the couch."

"You two needed the rest," Mulder softly says, as Katherine slips back to sleep.

Will has been playing with a small bag of toys he brought with him. He leaves the tiny pile on the floor and clomps over to his mother and father to look at his sister. He gently pulls back the blanket to get a better look then says, "Ah miz Kat-run."

Scully looks at Mulder with a stunned expression on her face and begins to praise William for saying his sister's name but Mulder stops her with a look and a slight shake of his head.

"So you missed Katherine, did you William?" Mulder asks his son.

"Um-hum," he says, clopping off toward the nurses' station.

"He finally said her name!" Scully laughs.

"I told you he would in his own sweet time, he's stubborn just like his mother," Mulder softly laughs.

Scully grabs Mulder's chin and tilts his head up to kiss him, "Stubborn or not, I need to go drag him back." She kisses him and smiles, "You need a shave." Mulder smiles back at her.

Just as Scully is getting up Katherine's doctor comes in carrying William. "Look what I found."

"Come here Will," Scully says, as the doctor sets Will down on his feet. William scurries to his mother's side.

"So how is my patient today?" She says looking over the notes left by the night nurse. "It looks like things began to turn around early this morning. Her temp is just a little over one hundred and she's taking in fluids. I think we can lose the IV and you can take her home." Mulder and Scully both let out a collective sigh of relief. "But Dana, you're a doctor, watch for signs of relapse and if you see any, get her back in here. Normally I would keep her here until a full twenty-four hours has passed but I'm sure she's in good hands."

"I'll watch her closely."

"And watch this one for any symptoms," she says pointing to William.

"We will," Scully replies.

"Let me get the nurse to remove that IV and we'll get you ready to go."

"Thank you, Doctor."

"You're welcome."

Doctor Haber leaves and immediately the nurse returns to begin to get Katherine ready to go home. "Here is a list of do's and don't we made up for you, but most of it is just common sense," the nurse says handing Scully a small piece of paper. "If you would like to get the car, we can bring her down."

"I'll get it," Scully offers.

"No, let me," Mulder says.

"No," Scully says shaking her head, "you haven't slept in at least twenty-four hours. I'll get the car." Scully turns to leave before Mulder can argue with her.

He looks around to find William playing on the floor. "Come on buddy, we're going home, pick up your toys."

The nurse takes Katherine from Mulder and wraps her in her blankets while he stiffly rises from the chair. She looks over and smiles at him, "You okay, Mulder?"

"I must be getting old," he croaks out.

She glances up at him; "You could have fooled me." Mulder blushes at the remark and smiles at her.

Another nurse comes in with a wheel chair. "Are we all set?"

"She can't ride in that!" Mulder laughs.

"Oh yes she can," the nurse smiles, "if you hold her."

"Me! I can walk."

The first nurse shakes her head, "Sorry Mulder, rules are rules."

"But..." Mulder stammers.

Scully pulls her Cherokee up to the side entrance to the hospital. The doors open and two wheelchairs appear, Mulder is in one with Katherine and William is in the other.

Scully walks around the SUV to open the backdoor. "What's he doing in that?" She laughs pointing to Will.

"He wanted to ride too," Mulder says, handing Katherine to a nurse so he can get out of the chair.

Scully buckles William in his car seat and starts to take Katherine from the nurse. Mulder leans into her, "Scully that was humiliating, some smart-ass asked me if my labor was hard."

Scully laughs, "Now you know how I felt." She secures her daughter into her car seat just as another nurse yells, "Wait!" Scully turns to find a nurse running toward them. "Your little boy left his bag of toys." She hands Scully the small sack William had carried in earlier.

"Thank you," Scully says, taking the bag, then she waves to the three nurses looking on. "Thanks all of you, and have a safe New Years."

Scully gets in the Cherokee to find Mulder with his head back and his eyes closed, she assumes he's sleeping. She puts the vehicle in gear and heads out of the parking lot.

"We sure know how to celebrate Christmas, don't we?" Mulder says looking over his shoulder at his children.

"I thought you were asleep, but you're right. We never have done things the easy way."

Mulder smiles at that statement.

They pull into their garage and unload the kids. Scully puts Katherine to bed as Mulder drags himself upstairs to the master bedroom hoping to just stay awake long enough to make it to the bed.

It's starting to get dark out and Mulder is unsure where he is, then it hits him, he's home in his own bed but it's the day after Christmas. He lies on his back and runs his fingers through his hair as the door creaks open. "Okay, now you can go in, dad's awake," he hears Scully whisper.

Immediately he is assaulted by his son, "Come on Da-dee, iz Cwismus 'gain!"

Mulder props himself up on one elbow. "No son, Christmas was yesterday."

"No," William insists, "mom say so!" He tilts his head and turns up both hands.

Mulder looks up to see Scully standing in the doorway in a beautiful, pale blue, sweater set and black pants. "I thought you bought that to wear on Christmas day and why does William have on his Christmas sweater? What gives Scully?"

She walks over to sit on the edge of the bed. "I just thought we had put our Christmas on hold for twenty-four hours."

Mulder frowns, "I don't understand."

"I've got a ham in the oven and the table is set, we're waiting for you to get dressed."

"An' Ah gets 'nudder pesent." Will excitedly adds.

Scully laughs, "Mulder just get dressed and come downstairs."

Scully gets off the bed so Mulder can get up. He heads for the bathroom then turns, "How's Katherine?"

She has bounced back fine. She was up earlier but I put her down an hour ago. I thought I'd let her sleep until we eat then she can get her present when William gets his."

Mulder just looks confused and nods while Scully makes the bed.

Will is setting in his booster seat ready to eat as Mulder walks in the formal dining room. The table is covered in an Irish lace tablecloth with fine china covering it, while serving bowls are piled high with various vegetables. Scully is carrying in a platter of ham surrounded by potatoes and baby carrots.

"You really out did yourself, Scully." Mulder croaks out, still not fully awake.

"Huwee up dad, Ah hun-gee!" William announces. Mulder smiles at his son while Scully laughs. He pulls out a chair for her and then sits down next to her. "When did you have the time to do all this?" He asks.

Scully begins to fill William's plate. "When you were taking your nine hour nap."

"Sorry," Mulder blushes, "guess I was sleepier than I thought." He starts to fill his plate. "This looks great."

Scully puts down the water pitcher and stares at him, "Mulder, how much did you have to eat yesterday and last night?"

"About as much as you do when you were sitting next to my hospital bed."

Scully glares at him then continues to fill the glasses.

Mulder shoves out his chair and begins to get up. Scully looks up at him, "Where are you going?"

"To check on Katherine."

"Wait," Scully says, "I put her in the family room. He finds her sleeping soundly in the dimly lit, warm room; she flexes her fingers at her father's touch.

Soon Will and Mulder have had their fill of ham and assorted goodies. Scully lifts William from his booster seat and takes him to the sink to clean his hands and face as he kicks the base cabinet with the heel of his shoe. "William stop that, you're going to wake up your sister."

"Too late," Mulder says, carrying the baby into the kitchen.

"Hello sweetie, you feeling better?" Scully asks, kissing Katherine's cheek.

The little girl smiles, revealing two small bottom teeth then coughs.

"Mom," Will says, patting Scully's arm. "Ah wan' ma toyz."

"Wait a minute Will, you need to put your coat on."

Finally it hits Mulder as to what is going on. "Katherine can't go out, you take her and William upstairs and I'll bring their gifts inside."

Will isn't sure what's going on but he's getting antsy.

"Okay William, come with me." Scully takes Katherine from Mulder and the three of them go upstairs."

Ten minutes later Mulder calls them downstairs. Will comes down as fast as he can, being sure to hang on to the spindles on the stair railing. Three steps from the bottom he lunges into Mulder's arms. "Easy buddy, wait for your sister."

Scully carries Katherine down the steps then Mulder leads them to the now dark family room. "Everyone ready?"

"Yeah!" Will yells, bouncing in Mulder's arms.

Mulder flips the light switch on to reveal the battery-operated four-wheeler for William to ride on, and the pink Barbie car for Katherine.

"Oh boy!" Will yells, squirming to get down. He races for his four-wheeler and crawls on. "Make it go, da-dee!"

"No Will, you make this one go." Mulder shows him where all the controls and pedals are, then turns it on. Will pushes on the right pedal and the car creeps forward, he pushes the left pedal and it goes backwards. He claps and grins, "Wanna go ou'side."

Scully shakes her head, "William, it's dark out."

"It's okay Scully, I'll take him out."

Scully acquiesces, "Alright, but both of you bundle up and I want a bike helmet on him."

Mulder motions for Will to follow him, "Come on buddy, lets you and me get dressed." Father and son race up the staircase.

Scully carries Katherine to her Barbie car and sets the baby on the seat. She immediately grabs the steering wheel and furrows her brow, then jabbers. Scully laughs, "You look just like your father when he drives."

Soon William is racing up and down the long driveway with Mulder right behind him on a bicycle. Scully can hear the laughter through the window. Katherine had been entertaining herself by opening and closing the door on her car and wore herself out playing with it.

Scully has made a pot of coffee and hears her men or boys, coming in the backdoor.

"Dat wuz fun da-dee, wanna do it 'gain."

"Sure Will, we'll play tomorrow."

The little boy wipes his nose on the sleeve of his snowsuit as he laughs and giggles.

"No Will, not on your sleeve!" Scully sighs. "Better take it off so I can wash it tonight."

Mulder rubs his frozen hands together and picks up his son. "Come on, let's you and me hit mom's big bath tub and warm up."

"Kin Ah take ma boat?" Will asks through watery, chilled eyes.

"No not tonight, it's late, but maybe we can go to the bureau pool tomorrow and run it there."

"'kay!" Will claps.

The two warriors head upstairs.

Half an hour later Mulder comes downstairs, alone. He finds Scully sitting on the couch with two hot cups of coffee on the table in front of her. "Is Will in bed?"

"He dropped off the minute his head hit the pillow," Mulder says, padding around in his flannel pajama bottoms and gray T-shirt. He sits down next to Scully. "How's Katherine?"

"She's fine, a little weak yet, but she'll be fine. Her fever is almost gone."

"That's good!" Mulder says after taking a sip of coffee. "Thanks for waiting to finish Christmas. The food was great and the company was even better," he says fingering a few strands of Scully's hair.

"Mulder, why did you stay last night?"

Mulder shrugs, "I'm her father, it's not a big deal."

Scully glances over at him with squinted eyes. "I know you better than that, Fox Mulder."

"Ouch that hurt, Scully," Mulder teases, "using my full name."

"Mulderrrr." Scully drags out.

"I told you months ago that my ditching days were over. I wasn't about to ditch my daughter like I used to ditch her mother."

"Scully smiles at him, "Well, it was a very fatherly gesture that I will one day tell her about."

"Thanks," Mulder blushes.

"Oh Mulder, we have one more gift to open."

"What's that?"

"The one from my mom. I thought we'd open it together." Scully gets up and walks over to the tree and pulls out a large flat package. "She dropped this off before she left for San Diego."

Scully sets the object on the table and Mulder picks it up. "Feels like a picture."

"Well, lets open it and find out," Scully laughs.

They pull and rip the paper and both sit there speechless. Finally Scully looks over at her partner, "Mulder, its our family tree!"

Mulder looks down at it in wonderment. "Look there is a picture of my mom and one of my dad," he pauses and then runs his finger over one photo in particular, "and this is my sister." He looks up at Scully, "Where did she get these pictures?"

Scully looks at her side of the tree where pictures of her mom and dad, brothers and sister, and nieces and nephews hang. "I have no idea, she must have slipped them out of the house and had copies of them made."

Mulder smiles and points to the tree, softly saying, "And there are William and Katherine, our own branch."

Soon the room is filled with laughter and silliness, mostly at brother Bill's expense, as Christmas Day finally comes to an end on this branch of the Scully-Mulder family tree.

~ 15 Sharing Cake ~

A red haired woman plops down on a couch, exhausted and frazzled. Her hair is mussed while her face is flushed. She is wearing a stained sweatshirt and a pair of dirty-kneed sweatpants. She holds one arm across her brow and sighs.

"Here, drink this," Fox Mulder says as he hands Scully a hot mug of coffee. He looks no better than she does. His hair looks as if a riot has taken place among his follicles; his gray T-shirt is covered in something green and smelly. He's barefooted and just as shagged out as Scully. He joins her on the couch, props his long legs up on the coffee table, where they now sit in silence sipping their coffee.

"This has been the worst day yet," Scully finally sighs.

"What has gotten into those two?" Mulder frowns.

"I don't know, but this is by far more exhausting than chasing Krycek's ass all over the country." Scully protectively holds her coffee mug and rolls her head to loosen the tension in her neck.

"Did Will finally go to sleep?" Mulder asks over the rim of his mug.

"Yeah, he fought it but he dropped off about ten minutes ago."

Mulder leans back into the couch. "Scully, why do they fight like that?"

Scully swallows, "Well they are brother and sister and at times they will fight."

"But four times in one day! I've never heard so much screaming and crying and that was from me!"

Scully wearily takes a drink of her coffee. "Katherine has finally gotten old enough to fight back. I swear if William would just stop trying to see her new baby teeth this kind of behavior would never happen but he always starts it."

"Is it any wonder that after Katherine learned to say 'mama' her next word was 'no'."

This brings a smile to Scully's lips then she looks over at Mulder and frowns, "What's that green stain?"

Mulder looks down and pulls his shirt away from his chest. "I've been wondering about that, it's either cough syrup, pea soup, or something equally disgusting that I don't care to even think about."

"Take it off and I'll wash it," Scully says as she leans her head back and shuts her eyes.

Mulder rolls his head to look over at her. "Scully, any other time I would say something suggestive and totally inappropriate but I'm just too damn tired."

Scully looks at Mulder with a puzzled look on her face. "Did you ever figure out how Will got Katherine out of the playpen?"

"I've been thinking about that too and all I can come up with is he used a lock-pick."

"Mulder," Scully laughs, "he's only two and a half!"

"Your point being?"

Scully simply glares at him.

Mulder takes another sip from his mug. "We did find out one thing today, Katherine has learned how to slap her brother but good."

"Well, he pesters her something awful, can you blame her?"

"Yeah, she's not as easy going as Will is. She takes after..." "You," both partners say. Both look surprised and say, "Me?"

Scully stares at Mulder, "Me? Mulder sometimes you growl around here like a bear with a thorn in its paw. If you're feeling down, you can sulk for days."

"Me? Look Scully I've been on the receiving end of some of your worst days and it isn't pretty."

Scully glares at her partner then sighs and shakes her head. "What are we doing, Mulder?"

"Yeah, we need to stick together."

"Right," Scully nods.

"If they divide us, they win."

"True, but Mulder, their combined age is barely three years!"

"That's when they're the trickiest, the difference being we can't reason with them. All William says is 'why'. I told him he couldn't wear his boots to bed, he said 'why'. How the hell am I suppose to answer that? Because it's one of the rules adults have, or it's a breech of Martha Stewart etiquette."

"It's like when I put a spoon in Katherine's hand and help her eat her cereal, the minute I turn my back she plasters the wall with it, but never when I'm watching her. They're sneaky like that."

"I was never like that," Mulder says, shaking his head.

"Me neither," Scully agrees.

Mulder raises his arm from off the back of the couch and sifts through Scully's hair. "Did you get all the jelly out?"

"Yeah," Scully sighs, "but the next time Will wants to love on me, I hope its before he eats a Strawberry jelly sandwich."

"It did go well with your hair," Mulder teases Scully.

Scully takes a long drink from her mug. "William will take Katherine's doll just to get a rise out of her."

Mulder laughs, "But she did get even, she tossed the remote control to his car behind the couch."

"Even or not, she wasn't the one who had to move this heavy thing when Will got stuck back there and screamed at the top of his lungs."

"I'm sure Katherine took great pleasure in that." Mulder grins then takes another sip of his coffee.

Scully twists around to look at her partner. "Mulder, do you ever remember taking off your shoes and throwing them like Katherine does?"

"Not me, I kept my shoes to myself." "I put her shoes on her and two minutes later she has them off," Scully says, hitting her leg with her open hand.

"Maybe she uses them as weapons, as a form of protection."

Scully glares at him. "I'm not threatening her when I dress her."

Mulder shrugs, "Maybe she will grown up to be a nudist."

Scully sighs then puts her open hand into the air and grows still. "Wait, is that a noise?"

Mulder turns his head. "I don't hear anything."

Scully settles back into the couch. "Thank goodness, I thought one of them was awake."

Mulder slumps down into the couch a little farther. "Lunch was a disaster."

"The spoon banging I could tolerate, but throwing peas at one another was too much."

"I agree, but when you yelled at them they both bawled."

"I know," Scully says holding her head in her hands. "I felt bad about that but I was at the end of my rope with those two."

Mulder laces his fingers through hers. "I don't know how you do it sometimes."

Scully squeezes his hand back. "It's usually not too bad. They are, basically, good kids."

"Will is protective of his sister, remember at the photographers when that pudgy, four-year-old took Katherine's toy from her?"

Scully snickers, "I wonder if he was still bawling when they took his picture?"

"I was like that when it came to my sister, I could drive her nuts but no one else had better try it or they had me to answer to."

Scully runs her thumb over Mulder's hand. "I'm sure you were the best brother any girl could have."

Mulder smiles and looks down at the coffee mug he's clutching. "How about Bill? Was he a good older brother?"

Scully ponders the question for a moment; "I guess so. He had to be the man of the house when dad was out to sea, so he had to be stern and strict but he was only trying to fill my dads shoes."

"Did he?"

"Did he what?"

"Did he fill his shoes?"

Scully shakes her head and gets a far away look on her face. "No. Never. No one could ever replace my father."

"So you two were close?"

"Yeah," Scully sighs, "when he was out to sea I would get this ache in my chest, I missed him terribly. I know the others thought I was my dads favorite but really I just loved being with him, just like Katherine loves being with you." She looks up to see a wide smile crossing Mulder's face.

"We do seem to have a simpatico relationship, that and I'm not the one who has to do all the bad things to her, like correcting her and cleaning her up, and trying to get her to eat all her veggies like you do 24-7. Scully smiles and lets out a little chuckle. He takes his hand from hers and tucks an unruly strand of hair behind her ear. "You and William seem to be on the same page."

Scully gets excited, "Oh! I forgot to tell you what Will said yesterday. He asked me what I do at work. I wasn't sure what to tell him, so I told him I worked at the Bureau in the morgue. He asked me what that was and I told him that's where they take people who have been injured and died. He thought for a moment then said, 'so you can kiss it and make it all better'."

Mulder tosses back his head and laughs; "We need to talk to that boy."

Scully snuggles in next to her partner and he reciprocates by drawing her closer to him. "Scully, have you noticed how gently Will treats Katherine's dolls?"

"Yeah, when he isn't throwing them across the room to make her mad."

"No, I mean when he's playing alone with them. He's very caring and tender."

"That's how we have always treated him."

"Except when you screamed at them at lunch," Mulder teases.

"I couldn't help it Mulder, it was either scream or sit down and cry."

"Then Katherine would have cried and Will would have cried because Katherine was crying."

Scully shakes her head slightly. "Do you think William will ever stop crying every time his sister cries?"

"I'm sure he will."

Scully sloshes the last of her coffee around in her cup. "He is a complex child."

"Well, look who his parents are."

Scully has to laugh. "Will came in yesterday and told me Katherine was hungry. I asked him how he knew and he said because she was eating dirt out of the plant."

"Was she?"

"Yes, I think she inherited your eating habits."

"The last time I took her to the Bureau, everyone oo'ed and ah'ed over her."

Scully smiles and looks up at Mulder, "She is a beautiful, little girl, with those dark eyes and that dark hair."

"She reminds me so much of my sister," Mulder softly says.

"I'm glad. You had a very pretty sister."

Mulder draws in a deep breath and exhales; "I can't wait to watch her grow up. She'll attend ballet classes."

"Or kick boxing."

"She'll learn to speak French."

"Or swear like a trooper."

"She'll be a doctor or a lawyer someday."

"Or she'll drive a garbage truck."

Mulder smiles down at Scully. "Do I sense a pattern here?"

"No, all I'm saying is don't pigeon-hole her. She'll do and be what she wants to."

"When do you think she'll start walking?" Mulder asks.

"I look for her to try anytime now."

Mulder laughs, "Wanna bet her first steps will be away from her brother."

Scully lets a small smile cross her face, "I wouldn't doubt it."

"Will told me the other day he likes ice cream because it's not hot."

Scully laughs and takes another drink of her coffee. "He asked me why he couldn't drink the bath water?"

"I'm sure you gave him a sound scientific answer."

Scully smirks, "I told him, he couldn't drink the bath water because it was icky."

Mulder nearly chokes on him coffee. "Very scientific, Scully."

"Well you try reasoning with a two year old."

"I have. I thought it was pretty funny when he brought out Katherine's bath tub baby to show your mom its butt."

"Oh," Scully whines and puts her hand to her face, at least Father McQue wasn't with her."

"I'm sure he'll do a lot more that embarrasses us before he's eighteen."

"The other day I was carrying Katherine over my shoulder in the grocery store and I stopped to pick up some grapes. When I started to leave I couldn't move. I looked back to see her clutching the beard of some burly, tattooed biker!"

"No shit!" Mulder laughs. "What did he do?"

"I pried her hand loose and apologized. He laughed and rubbed her head. I'm telling you Mulder, I was so embarrassed."

"I can just picture you, all red-faced and wanting to just melt into the floor."

"I do know one thing about being a parent, you lose a lot of dignity."

"Remember, after Skinner babysat with William when he was about fifteen months old and the following week we took him to the photographers and he yelled, 'shit' right in the middle of the room."

Scully turns to face Mulder, draping her arm across the back of the couch. "I know he got that from Skinner, because when we came home that night it was the first word out of his mouth."

Mulder stiffly crawls off the couch, "Here give me your cup and I'll get us a refill."

"Hey grab the cookies while you're up," Scully yells toward the kitchen.

Mulder peeks his head around the corner. "You mean the ones Will sneezed all over?"

"Oh, I forgot about that. Hell, bring 'em anyway, he's done worse to me."

Mulder returns with two more mugs of coffee and two pieces of coffee cake." Scully sits up, her attention drawn to the cinnamon delicacy setting before her. "Where did you get that?"

"While you were upstairs rinsing the jelly out of your hair, your mom dropped this off. I hid it so we could have it later."

"You are a smart man, Fox Mulder," Scully says as she bites into the delicate cake. "Guess where I found Will sleeping?" She says around a mouth full of coffee cake.

"Scully, you are going to have to narrow it down a bit. Okay, where?"

"Under your desk."

"Do you think he'll ever go to sleep in his bed?" Mulder asks as he swallows a large chunk of the cake.

"His father never did," Scully teases.

"Yes I did," Mulder says, "as soon as a certain copper haired, beauty decided to share it with me."

Scully blushes. "I really intended to just tell you I was going home but..."

"You were drawn to the Fox Mulder love magnet," Mulder interjects.

"Yeah, something like that," Scully smiles up at him.

Mulder drops his arm across her shoulder and draws her over to kiss her head. "I'm glad you did," he softly says, "it lead us to where we are now."

Scully turns her head and Mulder gently kisses her lips. She glances over and draws back. "Mulder, we are not alone," she says as she nods toward the entry to the family room. Mulder turns his head to see his son standing there in his footie pajamas, twisting his fingers together. He lets a full grin covers his face as he hunches his shoulders and says, "Ah not tiored."

Mulder and Scully smile at one another then Scully puts out her arms. "Come here, sweetie."

William runs and jumps into his mother's arms. "Ooph!" Scully groans. "You're getting big." She pats down her sons unruly hair as he lays his head on against her chest and grins up at his father.

"Hey buddy, all done with your nap?"

"Yup," Will yawns then says, "Ah hun-gee."

"Of course you are," Scully laughs.

"What do you want to eat?" Mulder asks as he tugs at his son's fleecy covered toes.

"Swabewwy yelly san'ich," Will softly says.

"Oh," Scully groans, "I sense another shampooing coming my way."

Mulder stands up and takes Will from Scully. He carries his son into the kitchen and sets him on his booster seat. "How about a piece of coffee cake?"

Will hunches his back and squishes up his face, "Ah don' yike coffee."

Mulder smiles as he places a thin slice of cake on a small plate. "No Will, its not made out of coffee, it's made with cinnamon, just like mom puts on your toast."

"Better cut another piece," Scully says, carrying Katherine into the kitchen.

Mulder reaches out to cup the baby's soft, curly, brown head. Katherine puts out both arms and lunges for her father. He scoops her up and kisses her cheek while she chews on one tiny finger.

Scully puts a bib on her and pulls out the tray on her high chair. William has wolfed down his cake and is trying to break another piece off the cake. "Wait Will, let me help you," Scully says as Mulder places Katherine in her high chair.

Scully cuts Will another piece of cake and turns to get him a glass of milk to drink.

Will breaks off a small piece of his cake and places it on Katherine's tray. "Hewe Kat-run, eat dis, it don' tase yike coffee!" Will exclaims.

The baby grabs up the offered piece of cake and crams it into her mouth. She chews it up and grins at her brother. He giggles and shares more of his cake with her.

Mulder leans against the counter, coffee mug in hand and smiles at the gentle interaction between his children.

Scully bustles around, making sure everyone has cake and milk. She finally takes a seat across from her kids where Mulder joins her and they finish the afternoon laughing, giggling, and sharing cake.

~ 16 Choices ~

A small boy comes running down a hallway, not a stitch of clothing covers him. His mother is hot on his heels as he screams in delight. She pleads with him, "William, come back here. I need to dress you!"

"Nooo," the little boy laughs then screams, "Da-dee, hep me!"

He finally doubles back and his mother snags him by the arm as he's rounding the corner to his bedroom. "Got you!" Scully says as she scoops up her wiggling son. "You can't run around with out clothes on."

Will throws his head back over Scully's cradling arm and giggles. "Tell you what, you can pick out which pair of pajamas you want to wear." "Da boo ones," Will huffs, out of breath from running and laughing.

"The ones with the horses on them?" Scully asks as she continues to hold her son while digging through his dresser drawer. "Here they are." She pulls out a pair of winter pajamas and sets Will down on his feet. "Go grab a pull-up William, and I'll help you get dressed."

Will obediently retrieves a pull-up out of the box next to his dresser and hands it to Scully. "Thank you," she says as she holds it open for him to step into. "There you go, now let me get your pajama bottoms." Soon Will is dressed and headed down the stairs in search of his father.

Mulder is sitting in the office pouring over the computer. Will runs in and grabs the blanket off the old leather couch and approaches his father. He pats Mulder's leg and puts out his hands, "Hode me da-dee."

Mulder reaches down and lifts Will and the blanket up while still staring at the computer screen. Will snuggles down into his father's arms and chews on his fingers, his bright, blue eyes riveted to the image on the screen. He pulls his fingers out of his mouth and point's one wet finger at the screen. "Waz da, da-dee?"

Suddenly Mulder realizes Will is looking at a gory murder scene. "Scully, can you come and get Will?" Mulder yells as he reduces the picture on the screen.

Scully enters the office. "There you are! I wondered where you had gotten to," she smiles at her son.

Mulder looks down at William. "I don't think my work is appropriate viewing for a child." Scully scoops Will up. "Want me to rock him?" Mulder offers.

"No, I can," Scully says as she carries Will over to the glider-rocker in the corner. She sits down and wraps the blanket around him. William says something to his mother; but Mulder can't make out what he is saying. Mother and child softly chatter away as he watches them. Soon the small boy grows quiet as his mother hums to him. After some minutes have passed Mulder shuts down the computer and walks over to them, crouching down he run his fingers over his son's soft cheek. "Here Scully," Mulder whispers, "let me carry him up to bed." Scully looks down at her son once more then turns him over to his father.

Mulder comes back downstairs to find Scully still sitting in the same chair, slowly pushing the glider back and forth. She opens her eyes and smiles at him as he walks over to her.

"Get up," he says motioning with his thumb. Scully does as he requests. Mulder sits down and pulls her into his lap. She drapes her legs over one arm of the chair; looping her arms around his neck, she rests her head against his chest.

"Rough day?" Mulder asks.

"Um hum," Scully hums.

They sit like this for the better part of an hour while Mulder rubs Scully's back and she snuggles into his chest. He eventually picks her up and heads for the stairs, intent on putting his exhausted partner to bed.


Mulder has gotten off to work, Will and Katherine has been fed and has had only one minor fight. They now are sitting together on the floor of the family room watching the Muppets on a DVD. Scully has cleaned up the kitchen and started a load of laundry. She is currently working on her notebook, preparing her notes on the consult she has just finished via the Internet.

The doorbell rings but both kids are so engrossed in the antics of Grover that it goes unnoticed. Scully opens the door to find her mother standing there. "Hey mom, come on in."

"Hello Dana," Maggie Scully says then pauses, "it's awfully quiet in here."

Scully smiles. "The Muppets are baby sitting for an hour. Come on in, I'll make us some coffee."

Maggie follows her daughter through the formal dining room, not wanting to disturb her grandchildren.

Scully starts up the coffeemaker and pulls two cups out of the cupboard along with the sweetener and cream. Her mom takes a seat at the island counter. "Dana, did you know the church is setting up a free baby sitting service in the church basement?"

"No, I didn't." Scully blushes, "I haven't been attending church like I should be." She sits a cup of coffee in front of her mother and pours another one for herself.

"It's for the occasional times when the kids are just driving their mothers or fathers insane. It's called 'Timeout Baby Sitting', and its available Monday through Friday from 8AM to 4PM. I've volunteered to work Tuesday and Thursday afternoons."

Scully sits down across from her mother. "Mom, that's great!"

"I don't have a lot to do and I do enjoy children, and I know some moms could use the break."

"I think it's a worthy cause," Scully says, blowing on her hot coffee.

Maggie sets her cup down and wraps her hands around it as if she needs something to anchor herself to. "Dana, I was wondering if you would like to bring William up this Tuesday afternoon?"

Scully gets a surprised look on her face. "Mom, I'm not stressed out. Oh, I might get a little tired from time to time but. . ."

"No, Dana," Maggie says reaching over to take her daughters hand in her own. "It's not for you, it's for William."

"William?" Scully frowns.

"Dana, he's cooped up in this house, day after day, with no kids to play with."

"He's got Katherine," Scully weakly offers.

"You know what I mean, kids, boys his own age. He needs the companionship."

Scully looks over her shoulder toward the family room where two of the four most precious people in her life are sitting watching the Muppets.

"Look honey, I'll be there the entire time and you can pick him up at four or I'll be glad to drop him off. I just think Will needs to be with other children and believe me I understand your reservations but he has to venture out eventually."

Scully looks down at her cup, afraid that she'll start to cry in front of her mother.

Maggie squeezes her daughter's hand, "Dana, just think about it. Talk it over with Fox, you know I'll abide by any decision you come to."

Scully nods her head as Maggie gets up. "And now I'm going to see my grandkids before I go." Maggie walks around the counter and places her hands on Scully's shoulders. "I love you, Dana."

Maggie finds Katherine asleep beside her brother and Will in a trance-like state as he watches Bert and Ernie. She doesn't bother him but instead slips out the door.

Mulder has had meetings all afternoon so he doesn't get home until after seven. "Umm, something smells good," he says as he walks into the kitchen tossing his keys on the counter.

"I saved you some," Scully tells him, walking in from the laundry room. He grabs her from behind and wraps his arms around her waist, resting his chin on her shoulder. "What if I'm referring to you?"

Scully turns her head and with a wry smile on her face replies, "I'm talking about me."

Mulder laughs. "You mean William and Katherine didn't get all of you today?"

"No," Scully says as she draws away from Mulder and pushes a couple of buttons on the microwave. "They were very good today, aside from one small fight and Will trying to help me fold the clothes, by the way that's why all your T-shirts are in tiny little balls."

"Oh no," Mulder chuckles closing his eyes. "Let me go change and I'll be back down in a few minutes."

"Alright but be quiet, they went down early tonight."

"Early to bed, early to rise," Mulder mumbles as he climbs the stairs.

Scully sets a plate of food on the center island along with a slice of apple pie as Mulder walks in pulling a blue sweatshirt over his head. "Hey, your mom brought over a pie!"

Scully stares at him, "Mulder, I made that."

He sits down and grabs his fork. "I didn't know you baked pies."

"I can when the kids are good," Scully smiles.

Mulder shovels a spoonful of chicken and rice into his mouth and reaches for a hot dinner roll from the basket Scully has just set down. "Thanks, I'm starved. I didn't have time to eat lunch today."

Scully sits down across from him with a hot mug of tea in her hand. "You shouldn't miss lunch. I could fix you something to take with you."

Mulder sticks another piece of chicken into his mouth and points his fork at Scully. "I don't think it would be a good idea to be sitting in front of the Assistant Director's of the FBI eating a bologna sandwich."

"I should say not!" Scully says blowing on her tea. "We never eat bologna in this household."

Mulder laughs and turns to face Scully. "The meetings were good though, I learned a lot."

"Such as?" Scully asks.

"Such as Kersh is retiring soon."

Scully attention is peaked. "Mulder that's wonderful! Maybe we can get the X Files back."

Mulder continues to shovel in his dinner. "The question being, do we want them back?"

Scully blinks at him then takes a sip of her tea. "I thought that was our goal, to get back in the basement."

"Goals change, Scully."

"But with Kersh out of the way, there's a good chance we'll be under Skinner again."

"A good chance," Mulder says. "In this age of terrorism the X Files have been validated. One look through our files will prove that we were far ahead of conventional police work. We found poisons, bacterium, viruses, and the means to deliver them. We knew they had the potential to wipe out millions of people."

"But no one would listen to us," Scully sighs.

"That's right," Mulder says stabbing another piece of chicken. "Scully this meeting opened my eyes. The entire Federal Bureau of Investigation has to become one big basement office."

"I don't understand?" Scully frowns.

Mulder grows excited. "Every agent, every office, and every division, will be trained to look for and to investigate poisons, bacterium, and viruses plus the means to distribute them."

Scully smiles at the thought, "One big X File Division."

"From two sprang many," Mulder smiles. "They don't need us doing the fieldwork anymore. They need us to teach them how to do the fieldwork." Mulder gets a huge silly grin on his face. "We were right Scully, we were just ahead of our time. After all of us met with the Director and the A.D.'s, I was asked to stay behind."

"What for?" Scully grows concerned.

"They wanted to talk to me, and Scully, this time they listened!"

"What did they want to talk to you about?"

"The X Files. It was great being able to talk openly about what we did and saw in the field, without fear of recrimination."

"Wish I could have been there." Scully wistfully says.

"You can. I got the impression that we will both be presenting the X Files Division as the Division of the Future."

"You really think they want us to teach paranormal investigation."

"Not paranormal Scully, terrorism prevention."

Scully gets up and walks around the counter and wraps her arms around Mulder's neck. "I'm so happy for you. So happy that you're finally getting the recognition you deserve."

Mulder pats her arm; "I'm kind of happy for me too." Then he spins around on his stool and wraps his arms around her waist, drawing her in to stand between his legs. "But don't forget I could have never done this without you; we're a team."

"Well this team member is tired and going to try to slip into a hot tub before the two newest members of our team are up again."

Mulder smiles at Scully and releases her, "You go on upstairs, I'll join you after I complete some work on the PC."

Scully heads upstairs and is soon settling into a hot bath. Mulder begins to check his Email but within a half an hour he too is heading for bed.

Scully comes out of the steamy bathroom to find Mulder already in bed. Clad in his flannel pajama bottoms, no shirt on and his glasses balanced on his nose; fully engrossed in the file he's reading.

Scully picks up a jar of cold cream from her dresser and begins to spread it over her arms and legs. "I hate how dry my skin gets in the winter," she sighs.

Mulder glances over at the bit of leg she is exposing as she messages cream into it and he grins, "I never noticed dry skin on my favorite parts."

Scully snickers and recaps the jar, she then crawls up on the bed and carefully removes Mulder's glasses. "Time to go to sleep Mr. Mulder." She places the glasses on the night table and shuts out the lights.

"Scully, can't I stay up late please," he says, parroting his son's whine.

"No, you'll be cranky in the morning."

Mulder tosses his papers on the floor and scoots down to snuggle with her. She rests her head on his chest and wraps her arm around his waist.

"I told you about my day, now you tell me about yours."

"Okay," Scully yawns. "My mom was over and said that the church is starting a new program called, Timeout Baby Sitting."

"I've heard of that. It's meant to give mother's a break from their kids when the tension gets to be too much to handle."

"Yeah, well mom volunteered to work Tuesday and Thursday afternoons."

"That's great Scully, she's really good with children."

"The thing is, she wants me to bring William next Tuesday afternoon."

Mulder frowns but Scully can't see him in the dark. "Does she think you're going to need a break by then?"

"No. She thinks William needs a break from me. She says he's lonely in this big house with no children his age to play with. She wants me to drop him off at noon and pick him up at four."

Mulder doesn't react right away then says, "I think she's right."

Scully rolls her head and looks up at Mulder. "You do?"

"Yes, I do. He does need to be with other kids so when he goes to school it will make the adjustment easier for him."

"You really think he should go?"

"Scully have you got a problem with him going?"

"Me! No, no, well, maybe just a little." Scully can't see his face but she knows Mulder is grinning from ear to ear.

Mulder runs his hand up her arm. "Wanna tell me about it," he softly asks.

"No," Scully sighs. "I know I'm being irrational and over-protective but I don't want him to go."

"Scully, we've been through this before."

"I know, I know, the danger is over. They don't want William or Katherine but Mulder there are still predators out there, murderers, child molesters, pedophiles. . ."

"Scully, you really stink at pillow talk," Mulder teases her.

Scully slaps his chest. "I'm serious."

"I know you are, but it isn't good for Will to be cooped up here all day. Why don't you take him there and stay out of the way but watch him if it makes you feel better."

"That's just it, it's not suppose to make me feel better, it's suppose to make William feel better."

Both parents lay there in silence for a few minutes when Scully finally says, "You're right, I need to let him go. I'll take him Tuesday at noon, then he can eat lunch with the other children." Scully sighs, "I'll pick him up at four, like mom said."

"You sure you're okay with this?"

"No, but I will be by Tuesday."

Scully scoots up and kisses Mulder with him returning the kiss.

"Night Scully."

"Night Mulder."

The rest of the week passes quickly. Mulder spent Saturday bringing home files with the aid of William, while Scully sorted and organized them. He wants to scan everything he can in an effort to develop a database he can access at home. He's too paranoid to download them from the Bureau directly to his home computer and he wants his own hard copies at home.

Sunday found all in the household sleeping in. Mulder got to bed around five AM while Scully gave up organizing around two o'clock. When everyone was finally up they spent the day shopping for groceries and playing outside.

Tuesday morning came too fast for Scully. Mulder has gone off to work and Will and Katherine are still sleeping. Scully takes her shower and picks up the bedroom she and Mulder share, then changes into a pair of jeans and a mint green sweater when she pauses, certain she has heard a sound. Sure enough she hears a soft 'mama'. It's Katherine. Scully crosses the hallway and walks into her daughter's room to find the baby girl bouncing up and down in her crib while holding onto the side railing. Katherine thrusts one tiny, open hand through the bars. "You ready to get up, sweetie?"

Katherine grins that Mulder lop-sided grin of hers as Scully lowers the rail and scoops up her daughter. She kisses her cheek and takes her to the changing table just as a yawning William enters the room and announces, "Ah hun-gee."

"Let me finish Katherine and we'll go eat breakfast."

Will wrinkles his nose. "She 'mells bad!"

"Tell me about it," Scully mumbles under her breath while continuing to clean up the baby.

Soon both kids are seated at the island counter in the kitchen waiting to be fed. Scully puts a bowl of oatmeal in front of William then she sits down next to Katherine's highchair to feed her.

"Mom," Will says patting Scully's arm.

"What Will?"

"Ah wan' some gumma sooger."

"You want what?"

"Gumma sooger."

Scully is stumped then it dawns on her what William is saying. "Does grandma put brown sugar on your oatmeal?"

"Yeah!" Will replies with a snap of his blue eyes.

Scully grabs a jar of brown sugar from the cupboard. "You know I used to eat this on my oatmeal when I was a little girl."

"Who wuz yo mom?" Will asks between bites of toast.

"Grandma is my mom," Scully smiles at Will as she puts a spoonful of brown sugar on his cereal.

"No she not!" William protests. "She gumma."

Scully laughs, "Well before she became a grandma she was my mom and still is."

Will isn't listening; he's become fascinated with the brown sugar melting in his bowl.

Scully chooses this time to talk to him about going to Timeout Baby Sitting. "William, how would you like to go to the church and play with the other children today? Grandma will be there helping to watch all the kids and I thought you might like to go too."

Will's eyes light up, "Yup, I wanna go!"

"You do? Now I won't be there but grandma will. Is that okay?" Scully is hoping he will hesitate.

"Yeah, I wanna pay wiff da kids."

"But I won't be there, I'll be home with Katherine." Now she is grasping at straws. "Will you miss me?"

"No," Will honestly says.

"Well then I guess you can go," Scully dejectedly sighs.

Will starts to crawl out of his booster seat. "No Will!" Scully says stopping him. "We can't go for several hours yet, eat your cereal and then I'll dress you."

Scully is putting the last of the breakfast dishes into the dishwasher when she hears a ker-thunk coming from upstairs. She dries her hands and picks up Katherine, depositing her in the playpen before heading upstairs. She enters William room to find him trying to drag a suitcase out of his closet. She has to cover her mouth to keep from laughing. "William, what are you doing?"

Will gives one big tug and pulls the suitcase over the closet door runner. "Ah goin' ta see da kids," he innocently says.

"Sweetie, you're not going to live with them, it's only for four hours."

Will stares at her unable to comprehend what she is saying until Scully says, "That's four Muppet Shows."

"Oh," William acknowledges.

"So you don't need your suitcase," Scully says as she takes the case from her son and places it back in the closet.

"Can Ah ta ma howse?" Will asks twisting up his fingers.

"I don't see why not."

Mother and son take off back downstairs.

Shortly after ten Scully has grown tired of William asking when he can go play with the kids so she picks up Katherine and they all head upstairs to get Will dressed. Scully sits the baby down on Will's floor and gives her some of his toys to play with.

"It's cold outside so I think you'll need a shirt and a sweater," Scully says to Will as he digs through his bottom dresser drawer. "No Will, your sweaters are in this drawer," Scully says, pulling out the second drawer from the top and lifting out three neatly folded sweaters. "Which one do you like; the green one, the gray one or the blue one?"

Will looks them over and picks the charcoal gray sweater with the snowmen ringing the middle of it. Scully opens the next drawer and pulls out a white turtleneck and an undershirt. Will is busy rooting around in the bottom drawer and finally pulls out a pair of gray corduroys.

"Wow Will," Scully muses, "you have the same fashion sense as your father."

The remark goes over Will's head; he's too busy trying to put on a pair of socks. "Here honey, let me," Scully softly says. "Do you need to potty first?" Will shakes his head 'no' so Scully has him sit on one of the little chairs that go with his wooden table. Soon William has his socks, corduroys, undershirt, and turtleneck on and is currently being fitted with his sweater.

"There we go, now let's go comb your hair and you need to brush your teeth." Scully points the toddler in the direction of his bathroom while Katherine is busy entertaining herself by chewing on one of Will's sheep from his set of farm animals.

Scully sets the little boy on the counter and helps him brush his teeth. He then bares them at her to show her how clean they are. Next comes the comb. Scully carefully parts William's baby-fine hair in the same manner as his father's then she kisses his cheek and puts him down on his feet. "There, all done."

Katherine is gathered up and the three leave Will's room just as the phone rings. Scully picks up the extension in her bedroom.


"Hey Scully, it's me."


"How's it going? Did you tell Will about the thing at the church?"

"Yes, I did."

"How did he take it?"

Scully sits Katherine down on the bed then sits down next to her. "Well, you know how kids are, he was nonplussed by the whole thing," she lies.

"He was? I thought he would be chomping at the bit to go."

"Well Mulder, I guess you don't know your son as well as you thought you did."

Just then Will comes racing in and runs up to Scully. "Mom, I wanna go pay wiff da kids! Come on!"

Scully can hear Mulder's laughter. She sighs and rolls her eyes.

"So I don't know him, huh."

"Well maybe he was just a little bit excited," she has to admit.

"I should be done about the time you drop Will off, want to meet me for lunch, say at Barnie's over on Third Street?"

"Sounds good," Scully replies.

"Great, and Scully, he will be coming home tonight."

"I know," Scully chuckles and looks down at some lint on the bedspread.

"See you at Barnie's."

"Bye," Scully says before hanging up the phone.

"Come on Will, let's get our coats on so we can go."

Scully is behind the wheel of her Cherokee while Katherine and William are buckled safely in the back seat. "Ah wanna pay wiff da kids!" Will repeats over and over in singsong.

Soon Scully pulls up in front of the Catholic Church. "Oh boy!" Will exclaims as he tries to wrestle out of his car seat.

Scully opens the side door to help William out. "Stay right here, don't move," she warns her son as she unbuckles Katherine with the same quickness and fluidity that she uses when performing an autopsy. She lifts the baby out of the car seat and pulls down her hat. She grabs the bag she brought William's things in and shuts the door. Taking Will's hand she says, "Come on, lets go." They walk up the stone steps and enter the large church. Immediately they turn right and follow a set of steps down to the basement. They walk down a short hallway with a chorus of laughter and giggles growing louder as they approach a door on the left.

They enter a room filled with children; they are playing at little tables, lying on mats on the floor and generally entertaining themselves and each other. Scully looks down to see a look of amazement covering Will's face. He looks up and grins at his mother. Maggie spots them and comes over. "Hello Dana, I wasn't sure you'd come," she says, taking Katherine from her daughter's arms. "Hello baby girl."

"Mulder and I had a talk and he thinks this will be good for William, so I guess we'll see," Scully says, still unsure that she likes the idea. She begins to unbutton Will's coat and remove his hat while he stands beside his mother watching a small group of boys playing with a set of trucks.

"Honey, take off his boots too, we prefer they run around in their stocking feet," Maggie says as she gently rocks her granddaughter.

Scully removes Will's boots and straightens his sweater. "Okay Will, I have a bag of toys here, and I brought your horse."

"He won't need them here Dana, there are lots of toys for him to play with," Maggie offers.

"Well I brought him a couple of pairs of pull-ups, incase there is an accident. You should ask him once an hour if he needs to use the potty."

Maggie laughs, "Dana, I know how to deal with children."

Scully stands up. "I know, you're right." She pats Will on the head, "Well William, you should go play now."

Scully watches her son take a few tentative steps onto the mats and toward a small group of boys playing with the trucks.

Maggie still isn't convinced Dana will leave William here. "Honey, we are just about to feed them."

"What are they having?" Scully asks never taking her eyes off her son.

"Macaroni and cheese, bread and butter, a sweet pickle spear and sponge cake."

Scully looks at her mom, "He loves macaroni and cheese."

"What kid doesn't," Maggie laughs.

A little girl in glasses and pigtails approaches them. "Mrs. Scully can you help me get some more paper?"

"I'll be there in a minute Jennifer." That satisfies the child and she returns to the table where she has been coloring. "I'd better go Dana," Maggie says as she kisses Katherine before handing her back to her mother.

"Yeah, me too," Scully sighs. Suddenly she sees a boy talking to William and pointing to a truck sitting off to the side. Will gets on his knees and pushes the truck over to the group of boys; soon he is woven into their make-believe world.

Scully smiles and looks down at her daughter. "Looks like it's just you and me, Katherine." Scully pulls her daughter's hat down over her ears and takes one last look at Will then slips out the door. She starts down the hallway when she hears a noise behind her and turns to see Will running toward her. "William, what are you doing out here?"

Will runs up to his mother and as she stoops down, he grabs her around the neck and kisses her cheek. "Bye mom," he says.

A tear-filled laugh bubbles up from Scully's chest. "Bye William, I love you," she says returning the kiss.

"Me too," he says then turns to run back down the hall toward Maggie. He passes his grandmother and runs back into the room.

Maggie waves to Scully and shuts the door.

Mulder is already at Barnie's, sitting in a booth with a highchair at one end, waiting. He sees Scully before she sees him. He can tell she has either been crying or is trying hard not to. "Sorry we're late, I got tied up in traffic," she says.

Mulder isn't sure he believes her but lets it pass. He takes Katherine from her and places the baby in the highchair. Scully strips the baby of her hat, coat, and mittens then slides into the booth across from Mulder.

Katherine pats the tray while Scully buries her nose in the menu. A waitress appears at their table and takes their drink order.

"So Scully, how'd it go?"

Scully looks over her menu, "Go? What go?"

"You did take William to the church didn't you?"

"Oh that, it went fine," Scully says off the cuff.

"No problem getting him to stay?"

"No, none at all."

"That's good," Mulder, says as the waitress returns with their drinks and a pack of crackers for Katherine.

They place their orders and sit in silence for a few moments, Katherine chewing on her crackers and Scully sipping her coffee.

Mulder is too inquisitive to let this go. "So you're okay with William being at the church for four hours?"

"Mulder," Scully feigns exasperation, "he is with my mom."

"So he can go on Thursday too?"

Scully looks undecided then shrugs, "If he wants to."

"And that's okay with you?"

Scully takes a sip of her coffee and rest her chin on her fist, "If he wants to go Thursday then yes, it's okay with me."

"Sounds like you did okay too."

"What do you want me to say," Scully says with agitation in her voice, "that I cried all the way here, that I couldn't bare to part with William for even a few hours?"

"No, nothing like that, but I did think you might find it hard to leave him for the first time."

"Well, I did, there I said it, and yes I cried, just a little," Scully mumbles as she looks down and straightens her napkin on her lap.

"I'm sorry if I made you uncomfortable Scully," Mulder sincerely says.

"No, its not your fault Mulder," Scully says shaking her head but still not looking up at him. "My emotions are a little mixed up right now."

The waitress returns with Mulder's burger platter, Scully's seafood salad, and Katherine's potato soup. Scully mixes the baby's soup with a small amount of milk to cool it down then begins to feed it to the hungry child.

Mulder wipes his mouth on his napkin. "Scully, I was called into the Director's office today."

"What for!" Scully asks with a touch of concern in her voice.

"No," Mulder grins, "this is good news."

Scully lets her breath escape. "What did he want?"

"He's very interested in our helping the Bureau get organized. The last meeting I attended wasn't just a bunch of smoke and mirrors."

Mulder leans across the table and softly says, "Scully, they really want us."

Scully smiles at his enthusiasm, something she hasn't seen from him regarding the Bureau in years. "That's good Mulder, I'm glad we are finally being recognized for our work."

"The thing is, he wants us to get a program up and running right away."

"So soon!" Scully says wiping her mouth.

"Bio-terrorism waits for no one. The U.S. is already years behind in the field of prevention. Who knows, maybe my father and his gang were on the right track, they just picked the wrong group of aliens," he says with a smile.

Katherine picks that exact moment to interject her thoughts. She babbles and pats the highchair tray. Scully smiles at her and feeds her a bit of crab from her salad. The baby wrinkles her nose and spits the crab out, then turns toward Mulder with her mouth open. He smiles at his daughter and tears off a small piece of his burger for her. She gladly accepts it and wants more. "Face it Scully, you have a little beef eater on your hands."

"It would appear so," Scully says as she glances at her wrist.

"Scully, stop watching the clock, he'll be home soon."

"I know," she sighs, "it just seems weird without him here." "We've left him with your mom before."

"I know," she says then changes the subject, "so when do you begin to set up your program for the Bureau?"

"No Scully, not me, us, they want us to start a program."

Scully looks confused. "Mulder, I can't just drop what I'm doing at home and put in forty hours a week at the Bureau, and to be honest I don't know if I want to, not now anyway."

Mulder shoves his empty plate aside. "That's the beauty of this Scully, you don't need to."

Scully wipes off Katherine's face and sets a baby bottle of water on her tray.

"See, we've already got all the files that Will and I brought home last Saturday. We need to download and categorize them, which you are far better at than I am." Scully huffs and nods her head. "You can work at home while I work on how we'll present the information we have. I can begin classes within a month."

"Isn't that cutting it kind of short Mulder? We spent years accumulating the information in those files."

"Scully, I could quote you everything in the files, chapter and verse," he smiles.

"I'm sure that's true but what about the class you're teaching now?" "Scully, a monkey could teach that mundane class, in fact I think I'll recommend Colton for my replacement." This draws a smile from Scully. "When we do get the program going I want you there too, say every Tuesday and Thursday."

Scully thinks she knows what's going on and what Mulder is up to. "Mulder, was I setup?" She frowns.

"What?" He asks a bit confused.

"Was I talked into leaving Will at the church so you could get me back to work?"

Mulder's eyes grow wide as he thinks back. "No Scully, nothing like that. You're an investigator; work the timeline. Your mom approached you with her idea about Will going to the church before I got home with the news that they were considering us. But it only makes sense that you could be there on Tuesdays and Thursdays." He takes her hand, "Look your mom won't let anything happen to then, you know that. I need you there Scully, I won't do this alone."

By now Scully is used to him turning on the charm but that doesn't mean he still can't get his way with her. She sighs and looks out over the restaurant. "Let me think about it." Then she turns to face Mulder, "The church doesn't take children so that the parents can work, and it's for timeouts only."

Mulder grins, "The way I see it, your mom would love to baby sit with Katherine and Will but if she's working Tuesday and Thursday how can she?" He leans back into the booth. "So if the church doesn't want to lose it's best volunteer, she's allowed to bring them along on those days."

Scully runs her tongue over her bottom lip and finally says, "IF my mom can swing it, and IF she can take them on Tuesday's and Thursday's I'll think about it, but Mulder I am not dumping them at a daycare."

"Scully, if it comes to that I'll stay home with them on those days."

"As long as William and Katherine come first I won't have a problem with my returning to work."

Scully finishes her last drop of coffee and scoots out of the booth. Mulder is already up and lifting Katherine out of the highchair. Scully begins to pull the baby's hand through her bulky coat sleeve. "Do you think there is any way we could work under Skinner again?"

Mulder lowers the baby to allow Scully to put her hat on her head. "Scully, I get the impression that anything we ask for, we'll get."

They walk toward the front door of the restaurant. Scully looks up at Mulder with a smile on her face. "Think he'll want us back?"

"Sure he will, this is his chance to be the AD over the hottest Division in the Bureau. Besides I think we owe him this one."

Mulder pulls Scully's vehicle up to the door so Katherine spends less time in the blowing snow. "Thanks Mulder, I'll see you at home." They share a kiss and part then Scully heads for home. She glances over at the dashboard clock; Will has been away for almost two hours now. She wonders how he's doing but stifles the urge to pullout her cell phone and call her mom.

Katherine has pulled off her hat and is working on getting her white leather baby shoes off. Scully looks in her rearview mirror, thinking Mulder might be behind her but she doesn't see him. Within ten minutes she's pulling up the circular driveway. She cuts the engine before getting out then walks around the SUV and pulls open the backdoor. "Oh Katherine!" Scully whines. "Do you have to pick the coldest day of the year to undress your feet?" Sure enough the baby is sitting there with two little pink feet sticking out of a pair of light blue, cotton trousers. Scully picks up the shoes along with the blue socks and stuffs them into her pocket. She puts the hat back on her daughter, much to Katherine's disgust, unbuckles the baby and hustles her into the warm house. She sets Katherine on the kitchen counter and strips off her outer garments then puts her socks back on and carries the baby into the office and begins to rock her. It's naptime.

Katherine soon drifts off to sleep. Scully carries her upstairs and into her bedroom where she is changed and put into her crib. Mulder still marvels at how Scully can change the clothes on a sleeping infant without disturbing the child.

Scully closes the door to Katherine's room and returns downstairs. Just as she hits the landing the front door opens. "Mulder, where have you been? I thought you were right behind me."

"I was, then I wasn't. Where's Katherine?" He asks as he hangs up his coat.

"Oh no, you're not getting out of this one," Scully says with her weight firmly planted on one rigid leg and her arms crossed.

Mulder knows he's defeated. "I went by the church to see how Will was doing."

A smile crosses Scully's face.

"Okay, I admit it, I miss him too."

Scully walks up to him and envelops him in her arms. "So what was our son doing?"


"Nothing?" Scully frowns.

"Scully, they were all asleep on the cutest little cots." Mulder frowns and mumbles, "It must be a form of mass hypnosis to get all those kids to sleep at once."

"But you did see him?" Scully anxiously asks.

"He was sleeping in a cot off with all the other boys. Seems the girls like to sleep on one side of the room and boys on the other. Must be a social thing that develops in kids early on, sort of a child's form of herd mentality."

Scully pulls away and they walk into the kitchen. "Mulder I don't want a dissertation on herds of children; how was William?"

"Like I said Scully, he was asleep, but I did talk to your mom."

"What did she say?" Scully asks as she puts the teakettle on.

"She said he fits right in, he ate a hardy lunch, and he's brighter and uses more logic than the other kids do, and he told them he had a great dad." Mulder grins, "I just made up that last part, but I know he would have said that if his language skills were better."

Scully smiles at him and shakes her head then pours two mugs full of hot water and digs out two tea bags. Mulder grabs the sweetener from the cupboard and they set down at the island counter. "Sounds like he's doing well," Scully says taking a sip of her tea.

They sit in silence for a few minutes then Scully looks at her watch. "It's about time to pick him up."

"I can get him," Mulder offers.

"No I can, but you can go with me."

"Let me get my coat, we'll take the Expedition it's already out."

Scully grabs her coat from the closet and hands Mulder his. They start out the door and down the steps when Scully draws up short. "Shit!" She says. "I forgot Katherine."

Mulder looks shocked then laughs, "Scully, it's a good thing you remembered, I was about to drive off."

Scully looks longingly at the vehicle then back at the house and wistfully says, "You had better go get him, she'll sleep for at least another hour."

"You sure?" Mulder asks.

"Yeah, go get him," Scully says as she trudges back into the house.

An hour and fifteen minutes later Scully is standing at the front window holding Katherine and growing anxious with every minute that passes. Finally she sees Mulder's SUV pulling into the driveway. She leaves the window and lingers by the backdoor where she can hear animated chatter coming from the garage.

The door opens and Mulder walks in carrying William. A broad smile covers Scully's face as she spots her son. "Will, did you have fun?"

"Uh hum," the little boy offers.

Katherine stares at her brother from the nest of her mother's arms while Mulder sets his son down on his feet. He takes off his leather jacket then removes Will's hat and coat. Will sits down on the floor amid a pool of slushy water and pulls off his boots, much to Scully's chagrin. She hands Katherine to her father and picks William up.

"Come on Will, you sat in some water and we need to change your clothes." She and Will head upstairs to his room. She sets him on his little white table and pulls off his sweater and turtleneck. He shivers at the chill. Scully smiles at him, "You cold?"

"Uh hum."

Scully grabs a sweatshirt from the drawer and pulls it over his head. "Did you like going to play with the kids today?"

Suddenly Will's eyes light up. "Yup, Ah did," he grins.

"Did you like the kids?"

"Ah yike Pee-ie and Yoie."

Scully looks puzzled then it dawns on her. "Oh Petie and Joey."

"Yup, Ah do. We payed wiff da caws an' Pee-ie gots a sisor jus' wike Kat-run. She comes too."

"She does!" Scully laughs as she slips a pair of dry socks on Will's feet.

"An Ah payed wiff da gools too."

"You did! Do you like the girls?" Scully smiles while she pulls up his sweatpants.

"Ah do, an' day yike me too." Scully picks her son up and carries him into the bathroom. "Gumma ate wiff me."

"She did!" Scully replies as she sets him down on the counter and pushes up the sleeves to his sweatshirt. "Ah ate maca-wonie and sheeze an' miwk, an' gumma kiss me!" Will laughs.

Scully has seldom seen her son so animated. His eyes snap as he babbles on. "Pee-ie can' weed so Ah tode him you hep him."

Scully laughs as she washes Will's hands and face. Mulder walks in carrying Katherine. "Did you tell mom that the girls like you?"

"Yes," Scully blushes, "and it sounds like he had a nice time."

"Food, playtime, a warm spot to sleep and four year old girls fawning over you, what more could a two year old boy want."

"Mulder, I hardly think that's how William sees it."

"He will in a few years," Mulder laughs.

The phone rings, Scully sits Will down on his feet and walks into her bedroom to answer it."


"Dana, how did Will like it today?" Maggie Scully tentatively asks.

"He did just fine mom, in fact he loved it."

"That's good. I thought he was having fun with Joey and Petie."

"He mentioned them, it seems he now has best friends."

"Petie's older sister is autistic so Carolyn sends him and his baby sister Jane, to the church twice a week. It gives her more time with her daughter and the two little ones get to go out."

"I'm sure it helps all of them."

"Yes it does. Honey, will William be coming again soon?"

"I don't know, I think that's something you should ask him yourself." Scully lays the receiver down and calls Will into the room. "Grandma wants to talk to you."

Will takes the phone while Mulder looks on as he leans on the doorframe. 'Hi," Will shyly says.

"Hello William, this is grandma."

"Hi," he repeats

"Did you have fun today?"


"Would you like to come back?"

Will's mouth forms an 'O' and he turns to his mother. "Mom, gumma say Ah kin go back!"

"She does! Do you want to?"

"Uh huh," Will nods

"Then tell her."

Will lifts the phone to his mouth. "Ah wanna go 'gin."

"Then you can," Maggie laughs.

"Okay!" Will lays the phone down and runs to his father. "Da-dee Ah kin go 'gin."

Scully can hear her mother's laughter, "Will, William!"

"Sorry mom, he's gone," Scully informs her mother. "He did seem to enjoy his day."

Scully drops her head and sighs, "I have to admit it, you and Mulder were right, it was good for him."

"Dana, you knew it too or else you wouldn't have agreed to let him go."

Scully laughs, "Mom, how did you get so wise?"

"Easy," Maggie chuckles, "I inherited it from my children."

"I love you mom."

"I love you too, and Fox, and William, and Katherine. Bye honey."

"Bye mom."

Mulder walks into the room and puts Katherine on the bed next to where Scully is sitting then he sits down next to his daughter. Katherine pulls herself up on Scully's arm and begins to pat her mother's cheek. "Ma, ma, ma," Katherine babbles much to Scully's delight. Mulder rubs his partners back. "You okay Scully?"

"Yeah, it's just that there have been a lot of changes for one day."

Suddenly William burst in. "Mom, kin Pee-ie come pay at ma howse?"

Mulder laughs, "And a lot more coming."

~17 The Lone, Lone Gunman ~

A pretty, red head, dressed in a stylish cable knit sweater and black slacks is pushing a shopping cart that holds a beautiful baby girl. Her curly, brown hair matches her long, dark lashes while her skin is a shade darker than her mother's Northern European tone but the baby's features are delicate and fine like her mother's. She is a beautiful combination of seriousness and playfulness, of warmth and tenderness, of laughter and joy; a combination of her loving parents. She's dressed in red corduroy bibs, her father's favorite color on her, along with a white, long sleeved turtleneck underneath. Her feet are clad in white leather baby shoes, but only she knows how long it will be before she takes them off.

They walk down several aisles, browsing and putting various items into the cart.

"Scully, is that you?" The woman hears a familiar voice and turns around.


A little man in a vest and well-worn blue jeans approaches the woman. "I thought that was you and I see you have the baby with you," he says taking Katherine's tiny hand.

Scully looks down at her daughter and smiles, "Yes, we decided the day was so nice that we would catch up on some of our shopping."

Frohike looks around Scully, "Where is William?"

"He's at a program run by the church. He goes twice a week and gets to play with other kids."

"That's cool," Frohike says, "kids need interaction."

Scully has to smile at the childless sage. "So what brings you here Frohike?"

"Food, if it weren't for starving to death you would never catch me in one of these super stores."

"Why don't you let Byers or Langley do the shopping?" Scully asks as she puts a box of tissues into her cart.

Frohike stares at her, "Are you kidding, have you seen the way those two eat?"

"No," Scully smiles, "can't say as I have."

"You're lucky," Frohike huffs. "Mind if I tag along?"

"Not at all, in fact you can help me keep an eye on Katherine. She loves to shop for herself. Last week, when I got home, she had put a packet of corn pads into the cart. Mulder teased me all evening, saying they were mine," Scully laughs.

"So how is the old man?" Frohike asks as they pass the dairy case.

"He's fine," Scully says as she grabs two gallons of milk.

"Here, let me." Frohike takes the jugs from Scully and places them into her cart.

"Thanks," Scully smiles at the little man.

"How's work going for him these days?"

"Busy," Scully says putting a bag of fat-free chips into her cart. "The Bureau wants us to work with their terrorism division, teaching."

"No shi...kidding." Frohike catches himself before he says anymore in front of Katherine. "I'll bet Mulder is about to bust his buttons, finally getting the recognition he damn well deserves, after all these years. Oh sorry, that one just slipped out."

"That's okay," Scully smiles, "and yes, he is."

They walk together down the canned goods aisle. "So you're involved in this terrorism thing too, huh Scully?"

Scully picks up a can of hash and reads the label on the back of it then puts it back on the shelf. "It would appear that way."

Frohike grabs a jar of tamales, "Care if I share your cart?"

"No go ahead, but be sure you take those with you, Mulder will think I've caved and I'm buying him junk food."

Frohike laughs and picks a packet of taco mix out of the cart and hands it to Scully. "You might want to put this back unless you're going to let Katherine mix up a batch of tacos."

Scully rolls her eyes and puts the little packet back on the shelf

"I'll have to admit it Scully, I never pictured Mulder settling down."

Scully puts two boxes of baby teething biscuits in the cart, while Katherine helps herself to another one. "He is trying, but once in awhile he strays. Like the time he was taken hostage."

"I remember that Scully, he nearly got himself killed," Frohike says.

"Yes he did, but we straightened it out later."

"Did you threaten to divorce him?" Frohike questions

"No," Scully laughs as she shakes her head, "but we did have a long talk about priorities."

"Just give him a chance Scully, he's new at this 'no roaming' life style. Kinda like a dog that has been allowed to run and is finally tied up."

"You make our marriage sound so wonderful, Frohike," Scully dryly replies.

Frohike turns red, "Come on Scully, you know what I mean."

"Yes I do."

They walk down the cereal aisle. "It's amazing the amount of cereal William can eat. He could live on it if I let him."

"Ya know Scully, Mulder is always telling us things that William has done. He's really proud of his son."

"I'm glad to hear that. William adores his father."

"Lucky man," Frohike mumbles.

Scully leans one arm on the cart and looks at Frohike, "Melvin, there is something I have always wanted to ask you."

"You know you can ask me anything," Frohike says looking her straight in the eyes.

"When Mulder was partnered with Diana, how involved were they?"

"Haven't you talked this over with Mulder?" Frohike questions.

"I guess it never really came up or maybe I was afraid to hear it from his lips," Scully confesses.

Frohike shrugs, "They were tight, I mean, he thought she really cared for him."

"But she didn't?" Scully softly asks.

Frohike shakes his head, "All she wanted to do was hitch her star to the best profiler the FBI had seen in sixty years. He was the best of the best and it made her look good."

"So she used Mulder?"

"And tossed him away when she had built up her own credibility."

"That's too bad, I didn't know," Scully says with her head hung low.

Frohike takes a box of Pop Tarts from Katherine and puts them back on the shelf. "I think that's why he danced around you for all those years."

Scully frowns. "What do you mean?"

"Come on Scully, you had to know he fell hard for you."

Scully looks surprised.

"Geeze, you're supposed to be an investigator," Frohike laughs. "He would come over and talk incessantly about a case you two were working on, but we knew it was just a cover so he could talk about you, or if you two had been fighting he would be moody and mope around."

"I didn't know," Scully says as she turns to look at the interesting cans of corn, trying to hide the blush covering her face.

"And that time you had the date with that screwball in Philly, well it damn near killed him."

Scully whips her head around. "I didn't mean to hurt him, I just felt like I was spinning my wheels in my life."

"See I got this all figured out," Frohike says as he leans against the side of the shopping cart as Scully fills it with canned goods, "Mulder was burned by all the woman he cared about in his life, even that British chick Bee Bee or whatever the hell her name was."

"Pheobe," Scully corrects.

"Yeah, that's the one, anyway, then you came along and he not only cared about you, he loved you but he was afraid he would lose you so he kept his distance. Used that tired, old line 'against Bureau Policy'. Scully this was coming from a man who loved to breech Bureau Policy!"

Scully agrees with Frohike while Katherine has put two miniature cans of squash into the cart unbeknownst to Scully.

Frohike eyes Scully. "What?" She questions.

"So Scully tell me, why didn't you make a move years ago? I mean, it was obvious you were nuts about the guy."

"I do not go 'nuts' over guys," Scully huffs.

"Okay, gaga, hot for, head over heels for..."

"I get the idea Frohike," Scully says as she tries to get a box off the top shelf.

"Sorry Scully, I can't help ya there," Frohike states.

"I hate being short," Scully mumbles.

"Try being a man and being shorter than you are!"

Scully looks at Frohike sympathetically. A tall, young, dark haired man approaches Scully. "May I help you?" He says as he reaches up and grabs the box.

"Thank you," Scully smiles.

"Show off," Frohike mumbles.

The man smiles at Scully and tickles Katherine under the chin before he leaves.

Frohike watches him, "I was so jealous I could have kicked his ass and I'm not even married to you." He turns around. "How does Mulder do it?"

Scully has to laugh, "Well he has yet to strike anyone for helping me reach a box of Wheaties."

They walk down the baking ingredients aisle. Scully stops to look at the assortment of Jell-O while Katherine picks out a cake mix for her self. "William loves Jell-O Jigglers," she says as she picks up several boxes of the sweet treat.

Frohike picks up a cake mix, "Wow, Butter Brickle, I didn't know they were still making that!"

"You like that?"

Frohike tears his eyes from the box to look at Scully, "I'll say. My mom used to make this for my birthday when I was a kid."

Scully takes the box from his hand and places it in her cart. "Grab the frosting that goes with it and I'll make it for you next Sunday for dessert."

Frohike's face breaks in a huge, kid like, grin as he seeks out the matching frosting. They walk past the marshmallows and assorted nuts. Scully starts to pick up a sack of flour when Frohike stops her, "Here, let me get that for you." He makes room for the heavy sack in the bottom of the cart.

"Thank you Frohike, Mulder usually just tosses it on top of everything else," Scully laughs.

"So Scully, you didn't answer my question."

"Hum," She replies, reading the label on a can of cherry pie filling but in actuality is trying to ignore Frohike's question. "What was that?"

"Why didn't you put the moves on Mulder, and don't give me that Bureau Policy crap; he's got looks, charm, and I'm sure the largest organ in his body is his brain, unless you want to tell me different," Frohike grins.

Scully blushes and runs her tongue around her bottom lip, something Frohike finds fascinating to watch.

"I don't know, I guess I didn't want to ruin our partnership."

Frohike stares at her and grins, "So you're sticking with that?"

Scully rests her elbow on the shopping cart; unaware that Katherine has just purchased a box of raisins for the family. "I did love Mulder; I think I always have, well not from the beginning back then I wanted to strangle him, but I think I was afraid."

"Afraid? Afraid of what?" Frohike softly asks.

"Afraid he didn't love me back, and if he didn't then I couldn't be his partner anymore." Scully looks down at the floor and shakes her head, "It was all so complicated."

"Sounds pretty simple to me," Frohike says taking a box of figs from Katherine, "you were both afraid of being hurt."

Scully laughs, "You should write a lovelorn advice column Frohike."

"You haven't read the latest edition of the Lone Gunmen have you?" Frohike grins.

They continue down the next aisle putting assorted pastas and sauces into the cart. An elderly woman is having a hard time trying to get a bag of macaroni off a low shelf. "Here ma'am let me get that for you," Frohike says as he picks up the bag and hands it to the woman.

"Thank you son, my old joints just won't let me bend over like I used to."

"Not a problem," Frohike smiles.

The woman plays with Katherine's brown curls, "What a lovely daughter you have!"

"Yes she is, isn't she," Frohike beams as he steps a little closer to Scully.

"Well, thank you once again," the woman says as she continues around the corner.

"I can dream, can't I," Frohike says to Scully in a form of apology.

She smiles at him and takes him by the elbow, "Come on, and let's finish our shopping."

They walk down the condiment aisle and Frohike puts a jar of pickled onions into the cart, as does Katherine.

"So you're going back to work too?"

"I plan on it," Scully says as she pushes the cart.

Frohike stops walking, "Scully, why don't you let me push this thing. I feel funny letting a woman push a cart loaded with groceries, no offense, I don't mean it as a gender thing."

"None taken," Scully laughs. She walks over to the frozen food cases and looks around while Frohike pushes the cart and entertains Katherine. She selects two frozen pizzas and a gallon of ice cream. "I need to get some chicken, then we're all done."

"I need to pick up some brats. Langley found a great recipe on one of the UFO sites on the 'net."

Scully frowns, "There are recipes on UFO sites?"

"Guy said he was abducted and all they fed him was brats," Frohike says as he grabs a package of the sausage. "Good thing he remembered to write down the recipe when he was returned."

Scully looks at Frohike confused, then picks out several packages of chicken strips. "Do you like stir-fry, Frohike?"

"I love any kind of 'fry'," Frohike jokes.

"Then be at our house, Sunday at 6:30, and I'll make dinner and your Butter Brickle cake, and bring Byers and Langley."

"Do I have to," Frohike whines.

"Yes, Will loves to play with Langley," Scully laughs.

"Well they are the same age, mentally," Frohike mumbles.

Scully walks into the produce section. "I should pick up some fresh fruit. I'm trying to get William to eat more fruit and less junk but that's hard to do with Mulder slipping him that stuff every chance he gets." Scully looks over the apples and chooses a few to purchase.

"You have to remember Scully, Mulder had to fend for himself for years. He once told me, guys are just bears with furniture and he was right."

"I'm just trying to get him to eat healthier," she says as she grabs a bunch of bright yellow, bananas.

"I know you are and that's great that you worry, but don't be too hard on him, after all he's been through he deserves the occasional plate of nachos."

Scully's eyes turn red and begin to brim with tears as she looks out over the vast store lost in her thoughts.

"Oh Scully! I didn't mean to make you cry," Frohike says as he rips open the box of tissues Scully put into the cart earlier. "Here," he says offering her a tissue.

Scully dabs at her eyes and giggles, "I'm so sorry Frohike, but when I think about what was done to him I can't help it. Those emotions are still too close to the surface." Katherine looks up at her mother and offers her a grape she has stolen. "Katherine you cannot eat those, you might choke." Scully takes the grape from her daughter and places it in the bag along with the ones she had just selected.

Frohike places his arm around Scully and gives her a gentle squeeze. "You're a good woman, Dana."

"Thanks Frohike," Scully blushes. "We need to get these paid for so I can pick up William."

They walk together to the first free checkout. Scully begins to put her groceries on the belt. "Let me help you," Frohike says and begins to unload her cart.

Katherine has now added three packages of gum and a roll of dental floss to the family groceries.

"I think the rest are yours," Scully says looking down at the little pile of groceries left in the bottom of the cart.

"If you wait, I'll walk you to your car," Frohike offers.

Scully has to smile, she is a fully trained FBI Agent about to be escorted to her car by a myopic, out of shape, middle-aged man that for some reason she finds endearing. While she waits on Frohike, she puts Katherine's coat and hat on the baby then puts on her own camel colored, wool coat, the one she got from Mulder for Christmas. She plays with Katherine, beeping the baby's tiny nose causing her to giggle.

Frohike looks on and smiles at the gentle interplay going on between mother and daughter. He pays his bill and picks up his bags.

"Why don't you put those in my cart?" Scully offers.

"Only if you'll let me push it," Frohike grins.

Scully steps away and Katherine puts out her hands. "Okay, I'll carry you, but only if you leave your hat on," she tells the baby tugging her hat down once more.

"Does she take it off?" Frohike asks as he pushes the cart through the pneumatic doors.

"All the time," Scully laughs looking down at her daughter, "don't you sweetie." She kisses the baby's cheeks and holds her tight away from the wind. "Over there," She says pointing to the Cherokee.

"You buckle the baby in and I'll load the groceries," Frohike offers.

Scully unlocks the doors and opens the backdoor to put Katherine in her car seat.

"All done," Frohike says dusting off his hands.

Scully gets in her vehicle and rolls down the window. "Thanks Frohike, we should shop together more often," she laughs.

"Anytime Scully," Frohike laughs and adds, "thanks for being my pretend wife for the last hour."

Scully can tell Frohike isn't joking, "It was my pleasure, Melvin."

She starts the engine, rolls up the window and waves then pulls away.

"No it was my pleasure," Frohike sighs as he watches her drive off.

Scully has picked up William, driven home, and carried in all the groceries. Katherine is seated in her highchair eating a teething biscuit while William is working on a banana. He always comes home starved from church school.

Mulder walks in the backdoor while Scully is unpacking the bags. "You couldn't have gotten here ten minutes earlier?" Scully teases.

Mulder kisses her forehead; "If I had known you had all this to carry in I would have cut out a few minutes early."

"Excuse accepted but you can help me put these away," Scully tells him.

"Hi guys!" Mulder says looking at his kids.

"Hi do-dee," Will says around a mouth full of banana, Katherine just smiles a mushy teething biscuit grin and pats her tray.

Mulder takes off his trench coat and tosses it and his suit jacket over a stool. He begins to take the groceries out of the bags and place them on the counter so Scully can put them away. He grabs a can and a tube and reads the labels on each and frowns; holding them up he says, "Why did you buy hemorrhoid creme and a medication for jock itch?"

Scully looks up in confusion and begins to read the labels. "Is there something you're not telling me, Scully?" Mulder grins.

Scully raises one eyebrow and looks over at her daughter, "Katherine!"

~ 18 A Day in the Life: Of William ~

Fox Mulder is driving his Expedition through heavy rush hour traffic beside him in a car seat sits Will, his buddy, his companion, his son.

"So Will, did you have fun today at church school?" William prefers to think he is attending school instead of being baby-sat by his grandmother at the church.

"Yup, Ah did," Will tells Mulder while kicking his left foot against the car seat.

"Did grandma feed you lunch?"

"Ah ate gween beams an' fis' tixs."

"You like that don't you," Mulder smiles at him.

"Yup, Ah do."

"Who did you play with today?"

"All da kids, but I wike Pee-ie, Yoey, Zally, Kebin, Bwittani, Bwian, and Tommy da best."

"So you like the girls too?"

"Yup, Ah do," Will smiles then his blue eyes snap. "An' Yanie but she a baby yike Kat-run, she Pee-ie's sisor."

"That's good."

"Ah don' yike Mawy Kat-run. She bosses us awound."

Mulder has to chuckle at how his son's vocabulary has expanded since he's been attending the Timeout Baby Sitting program at the church.

"She tode us hew da-dee cud bea' up ow'r da-dee's."

"She did!"

"Yup. I tode hew ma mom cud bea' up hew mom," William grins.

Mulder nearly loses it on Will's last comment. He tries to stifle his laughter as tears well up in his eyes. "You didn't tell Mary Katherine that, did you?"

"Yup, Ah did," Will laughs, then yawns, "she's mean an' ode!"

"How old is she?"

"Seben," Will says.

"That's old," Mulder agrees.

Will turns in his car seat to face his father. "Know what."

"What?" Mulder asks, assured that he will be hearing 'know what' at least ten thousand more times before Will heads off to kindergarten.

"Bwian has sis toes on his foot, he show'd me," Will informs Mulder.

"Six toes?" Mulder asks playing along.

"Yup. Ah wan' sis toes too."

"You do! Why?"

Will just shrugs his shoulders and continues to kick his foot against the car seat while he looks out the side window.

Traffic has slowed to a crawl and a cold rain has begun to fall, William yawns.

"Didn't you get a nap today?"

"Yup, Ah did. The gools won' yeave us 'lone."

"They won't?"

"Nope," Will seriously says.

"Why won't they leave you boys alone?"

"Day wanna figh' wiff us all da time!"

"You sure you boys don't want to fight with the girls too."

The comment passes right over Will's head. "Gumma say we can' figh' no mo'"

"That's good. You should all listen to your grandma, she's a smart lady."

"Mawy Kat-run yike ta figh', Ah tode her ma gumma don' yike figh'ers."

"What did Mary Katherine say?"

"She say mine ma own b'nuss."

"Do you know what that means Will?" Mulder is grinning from ear to ear.

"No, but she's mean!"

Mulder regrets that Scully isn't along to hear this, Will usually doesn't open up like he is today. "So what did you do after your nap?"

"Ah payed wiff Pee-ie."

"You like Petie don't you."

"Yup, Ah don' yike Mawy Kat-run."

"I gathered that."

"She's mean!"

"Does Mary Katherine have any brothers or sisters?"

Will's blue eyes grow large as he looks at his father. "No! Bwian say she eat 'em."

"Will!" Mulder exclaims before braking to keep from rear-ending the car in front of him. "I wouldn't tell mom that."

The line of traffic moves at a snails pace and William is getting agitated. "Ah hun-gee, da-dee," he informs Mulder.

"That's good, we're going out for dinner."

"Can Pee-ie come too?"

"Not tonight, but soon," Mulder smiles. "Mom wants to eat Italian tonight, that's spaghetti."

"Ah yike sketties."

"So do I."

"Ah wan' zoop too."

"I don't think you can get soup and spaghetti."

"Mom does!"

Mulder stops to think, "You're right, she does get soup."

"Ah yike soup."

"Then we'll get soup," Mulder agrees.

They are creeping slowly foreword in the heavy traffic when Mulder's cell phone suddenly rings. "Mulder."

"Mulder, its me, where are you?"

"Stuck in traffic."

"Will you be home by five?"

"I hope so."

"Our reservations are for 5:30."

"Have Katherine ready and we'll just swing by and pick you up."

"Does Will need a clean sweater? I can bring one along."

"Hey Will, hold out your sweater."

Will looks down and pulls out the sweater he is wearing. "Is it clean?" Mulder asks.

Will looks down again then up at his father. "Yup."

"It's clean."

"I don't trust you two, I'll bring one anyway."

"Then why did you ask!" Mulder rolls his eyes.

"See you at five." Scully says before hanging up.

"Women," Mulder sighs.

"Woohmun," William agrees.

Traffic finally starts to move. Mulder turns on the radio, a rock song from the seventies is playing. William laughs. "What is it?" Mulder asks.

"Da gools danz fu-ee," Will laughs.

"They do?"

Will throws his head foreword and laughs. "Bwian says da gots anz in der panz."

"That Brian is a pretty smart guy, huh."

"Uh hum, he say Mawy Kat-run is dumb."

"No Will, we don't call people dumb."

"But Bwian say she is."

"But Brian also said she ate her family. I wouldn't put a lot of stock in what Brian says."

The traffic thins out and Mulder isn't far from the house now. "So you like going to school every Tuesday and Thursday then?"

"Yup, Ah do." Will says rocking back and forth to the music. "Kat-run wan's a come too."

"She does?" Mulder asks.

"Yup, she tode me."

"That's funny when all she can say is 'mamma' and 'no'."

Will doesn't respond but Mulder isn't so sure that they don't share some form of silent communication.

"Der's ma hose!" Will points out the side window.

"It sure is and there is your mother and sister coming out the door."

Mulder pulls up to the house and puts the SUV in park. Scully steps around the vehicle and opens the passenger door. "Hey where is William?" She teases.

"Ah'm hewe!" Will yells and giggles from the front seat.

"Oh my! So you get to sit in the front seat now," Scully says as she puts Katherine in her car seat. "So where am I going to sit?" Scully asks feigning a pout.

"In da bock!" Will laughs.

"Okay," Scully says, "then you have to listen to your dad's music." "He likes it," Mulder laughs.

"Oh no, not two of you," Scully sighs.

"Will, tell your mom what you did today at school." Mulder is grinning from ear to ear while looking at Scully in the rearview mirror, waiting for her reaction to her son's stories.

Scully takes the bait. "What did you do today, William?"

Will shrugs his shoulder, "Nutin'."

Scully looks up at Mulder puzzled. "You didn't do anything?"

"Sure you did Will, tell mom about Mary Katherine."

"Who is Mary Katherine?" Scully asks.

"No one," Will says slumping down in his car seat.

"Will remember, she ate her family."

"Mulder!" Scully exclaims.

"Don't worry Scully, it's just a kid rumor."

"I should hope so," Scully says sitting back in her seat.

"Will, tell her about the kid with six toes."

Will just looks out the side window and announces, "Ah hun-gee!"

"There's a kid there with six toes?" Scully asks.

"Yeah," Mulder dejectedly says, "there is, but it was a lot funnier when Will told it."

Mulder isn't giving up so easily. "Tell her how mean Mary Katherine is, and how you told her your mom could beat up her mom. Come on Will!" Mulder pleads as they near the restaurant.

"You did what!" Scully is shocked by what she is hearing. "Mulder what is going on at that church? I'm not sure I want William going there again. Children claiming to eat their families, kids claiming to have six toes, William telling other children that I will beat up their mother's. Just what kind of child care service are they running there?"

Mulder has slumped farther down in his bucket seat with each accusation Scully has flung at him until he can barely see over the dashboard. "I guess you had to be there," he finally mumbles then looks over at his son and adds, "thanks a lot for helping your old man out there Will."

Later that night as the rain changes to snow, a single light can be seen in the upstairs window of a large, white brick home where a desperate man is trying to explain to his wife why their son should be allowed to remain in the church baby sitting program.

~ 18 The Crash ~

"I wonder where mom is?" Scully says standing in front of the large mirror in the foyer straightening her suit collar.

"She'll be here soon," Mulder assures her from his office, "if you Scully women are anything, you're prompt."

Scully walks in, "Yeah, well we need to get going."

William runs in and pats Scully on the leg, "Mom, Kat-run gots da newspap'r in her mouff!"

"Oh crap!" Scully exclaims as she hurries from the room. "She'll have ink all over herself."

Mulder smiles and continues to paw through the stack of files he's been assaulting for the past ten minutes. "Oh Katherine!" He hears from the kitchen. "Must be bad," he mutters.

"Hello, anyone home?" Maggie Scully's voice rings out from the foyer.

"I'm in here," Mulder replies.

"Hello Fox," Maggie says as she walks into the office. "Where are Dana and the kids?"

"In the kitchen, Katherine decided she would devour the newspaper, literally."

"Oh no," Maggie laughs, "I'd better go see if I can be of help."

Mulder finally locates the file he has been hunting for and he looks up to see William coming in. He has to smile at his son, clad in blue jeans, hiking boots and a red, plaid flannel shirt; he looks like a miniature farmer, but Will insists he wants to dress like his best friend Petie.

Will laughs, "Katherine gots a back mouff."

Mulder has to laugh too, "She does?"

"Yup," William says as he crawls up into his father's lap. "She gots back teef too!" He bares his teeth to his father, pointing to his front ones.

Scully comes in huffing back a strand of hair. "Come on Mulder, we need to get going."

Mulder sets Will down on his feet and rubs his son's head. "I have to go buddy. You be good for grandma today and don't let your sister eat anymore paper."

"Okay," Will says, as Scully bends down to kiss his cheek.

"We're leaving mom," Scully calls out from the foyer.

"All right Dana," Maggie calls back.

"We'll stop by the church at four to pick up the kids."

"See you then."

Mulder and Scully walk out the front door and step into Mulder's Expedition. Soon they are passing homes and business, headed for the Bureau to begin another day of training agents in the art of fighting bio-terrorism.

"It's Friday Scully, you want to go out for dinner tonight?" Mulder asks as he adjusts the rearview mirror.

Scully looks up from the folder she is glancing through. "We really should get groceries tonight."

Mulder winces, "Scully, we just bought a shit load of groceries last week!"

Scully looks over at her partner as if he's grown another head. "Mulder, there are four of us to feed now and you shouldn't say 'shit'. The other day I caught William trying to say 'son of a bitch'."

"He probably heard that from Brian at the church," Mulder mumbles.

"No, Mulder, he did not hear it from a four year old boy, he heard from his father the last time the Knicks lost."

Mulder has to smile. "Okay, I get the message."

"William, come here. I need to get your coat on you," Maggie yells to her grandson who is digging through the toy box in the family room. He finally comes up with a plastic toy tractor.

Maggie has Katherine cleaned up and her coat and hat on her. "Now Katherine, please leave your shoes on until we get there," she pleads with her granddaughter.

Will runs in with his tractor under his arm. "Good, I need to get your coat on you," Maggie smiles at him as she grabs his coat off the counter and hurriedly slips his arm into it. "We need to get going, we're late." She grabs Will by the hand and scoops up Katherine. They walk out the front door pulling it shut behind them. Maggie opens the rear door on her sedan and lets William crawl up into his car seat while she carries Katherine around the car to buckle her behind the driver's seat. She locks and shuts the door then after making sure William is secured she starts the engine and rounds the circular-drive.

Mulder is in the middle of a slideshow, he's intense, consumed, and in his element. Scully is standing at the back of the large room watching him work his magic. Unlike previous years when Mulder would have been ridiculed and jeered now the agents hang on his every word, this pleases Scully. A burst of laughter rolls off the attending agents but Scully can tell by the way that Mulder is smiling he's made some wisecrack.

Gumma, can me an' Pee-ie pay ou'side?"

"No William, it's too chilly and some of your playmates already have colds." Maggie Scully is nearing the church. She turns off the four-lane highway and onto a city street.


"What William?"

"Can Pee-ie come home wiff me?"

"Not today sweetie, you'll have to check with mom and dad first."

Maggie maneuvers the sedan down a narrow street lined with cars on each side.


"What William?"

"Kat-run gots her shews off."

Maggie glances back over the seat. "Katherine, why must you always take off your shoes?"

The baby just gives her grandmother a big toothy grin.

"An' hew zocks!" William laughs.

"It's okay, we're almost there, I'll dress her feet once we stop."

Maggie is approaching a red light but it suddenly turns green. She continues on through the intersection when a large cargo van appears from her right side, but it's too late for her to take evasive action. The van impacts the car on the passenger side with enough force to push it up the curb and against a light pole. The awful sound of metal on metal fills the street then silence.

Scully hands out some figures revealing the total amounts of live viruses that have been stolen from various labs around the world. Her audience gasps at the large amounts reflected on their papers. She has to smile, extremely satisfied with the agents reactions to her findings. She's worked hard to get these figures and even stooped so low as to ask the Gunman for help.

The driver sitting in the cargo van is unhurt. He can hear the wail of sirens as a crowd starts to gather. He crawls out of the mangled van and looks at the mess of metal trapped between the front of his vehicle and the light pole. He steps back into the crowd and vanishes.

"Hey dis lady has two babies in da back of da caw!" A passerby exclaims after peeking into the mess. A DC police cruiser pulls up next to the twisted metal and two cops step out. By now there are sounds starting to come from the sedan. Two muffled cries of differing pitches break through the cold air. William has begun to cry with more intensity as the shock of what has just happened wears off. "Ah wan' ma mom!" He screams.

Suddenly a large, black, hand touches Will's cheek. "It's okay son, we'll have you out soon." The cop looks over, "Is that your sister?"

"Yesss," Will pitifully stammers. "Ah wan' ma mom."

"What's your name son?" The officer asks, as the first rescue units arrive.

"Will'um," Will replies.

"Is that your mom in the front seat William?" The officer asks the toddler as he looks at the dark haired woman slumped over the crumpled airbag.

"No," Will bawls, "dats ma gumma."

Katherine is growing quiet and appears to be getting lethargic. "We need some help over here!" The large cop roars.

"Ah wan' ma mom," William cries out.

"It's okay son, we'll have you, and your sister, and grandma out soon. Can you tell me your last name William?"

Will's breath hitches as the tears roll down his cheeks. "Mudder," he answers with a quiver in his voice. The cop isn't sure what William has said. "Can you tell me your moms name?"

"Will coughs out, "Ah wan' ma mom!"

The fire department and EMT's are busy checking out Maggie. "We have a pulse and airway is clear," one of them yells.

The cop tries again, "William, what is your moms name?"

"'Cully'," William shakily says.

The cop frowns then mutters, "Cully, Mudder." It finally dawns on him what the child is saying. "William, is your father Fox Mulder?"

"Yeah," Will shudders.

"Will, don't you remember me, I'm office Reese Calloway, I took you and your mom to see your father when he was in the hospital."

Will blinks at the large man.

"Of course you don't, you were too little," the cop sighs.

An EMT moves in between Will and Officer Calloway. "I need to check him out."

Reese backs up and pulls out his cell phone, he pushes one button then says, "Get me the Hoover Building."

Mulder has returned to the podium and is currently explaining the various methods of transporting a virus. He stuns the group with his story of the honeybees. He doesn't single out Scully, but he does tell them he has witnessed the effects of their sting first hand. Suddenly, the door off to Mulder's right opens and an ashen-faced Walter Skinner walks in.

"This car is a mess, this ain't gonna be easy," one fireman comments.

"I think if we cut the roof off we can lift the kids out in their car seats," another fireman offers.

"Then let's do it!" A third man chimes in.

Officer Calloway is back at Will's side. "Okay son, the firemen are going to cut the roof off the car and lift you and your sister out."

"Ah wan' ma mom!" William wails.

"Now William, listen to me." Reese holds Will's small chin in his large hand; the little boy grows quiet. "I need to put a blanket over you and your sister sothe little pieces don't get on you when they remove the roof. Can you sit real still and not cry so your baby sister isn't scared?" Will pulls in his bottom lip and tries not to cry as he slowly nods his head. "I'll be right here with you," Officer Calloway assures the small boy.

A fireman hands Reese a blanket to cover William with while he covers Katherine from the other side of the car. The Jaws of Life are brought in and soon the roof is peeled back, allowing four firemen to lift the kids out of the opening. Each child is hustled to a waiting ambulance. Officer Calloway stays true to hisword and follows Will to the ambulance. "You okay, William?"

"Yeah," Will sobs as the EMT's check him over in the back of their unit.

"You were very brave for your sister back there William," Reese reassures him.

"I know," Will shakily answers, making the officer smile. Will looks around and softly asks, "Whew's Kat-run?"

"Is Katherine your sister's name?"

"Yeah," Will sobs.

"She's right here son," the EMT says as he moves Katherine's carrier closer to William so she can be in his line of sight. "We need to go," the EMT tells Calloway.

Officer Calloway turns Will's car seat so that it's facing him. "William, this nice man is Mike, he's gonna take you and your sister to the hospital." Will begins to bawl even harder. "Will, I called the FBI."

The EMT looks up, a little puzzled.

"They're telling your mom to go to the hospital."

"An' da-dee too?" William asks, as large tears run down his face and off his injured chin.

"Yes, and dad too," Calloway says then pauses, "Are your mom and dad both at work, William?"

"Yeah," Will sobs.

"You and Katherine go with Mike and he'll make sure you get to see your mom and dad."

"Okay," Will says letting out a tiny sigh as he rubs his runny nose on his coat sleeve.

"His folks are FBI Agents, they should arrive soon," Calloway tells the EMT. Mike nods and pulls the backdoor shut from the inside as the ambulance pulls away from the curb and speeds toward DC General.

Skinner motions for Scully to follow him out of the door. Mulder looks over his shoulder but continues on with his lecture. He doesn't get five words out when he hears Scully softly calling his name, he knows her well enough to know this isn't going to be good news. He leaves the podium and steps out the door. Skinner clears his throat and looks off to the side then back at Mulder. "I was telling Dana, that there has been an accident in downtown DC involving Mrs. Scully, and William and Katherine."

Mulder is speechless; he looks down at Scully who is holding her hand in front of her mouth as tears begin to fill her eyes. "Where are they now?" Mulder manages to croak out.

"DC General," Skinner says looking down at his shoes and feeling totally helpless.

Mulder touches his partner's shoulder, "Come on, Scully."

They start down the hallway when Skinner calls out; "I'll be right behind you."

The ambulance carrying the two Mulder children arrives at the hospital. They are whisked through the air lock doors and into the trauma center.

Maggie Scully has finally been cut out of the car but hasn't regained consciousness yet. She's loaded into a waiting ambulance to also be transported to DC General.

Mulder roars out of the Bureau parking garage, leaving wide rubber burn marks on the concrete floor. Several agents turn to see what's going on as the Expedition speeds past them.

Skinner steps up to the podium and looks out over the room filled with puzzled agents. "Ah, due to circumstances beyond their control, Agent's Mulder and Scully will not be returning today. Class dismissed."

A murmur falls over the crowd as Skinner hastily leaves through the side door.

William and Katherine are brought into the trauma center still strapped into their car seats. Mike is carrying William while his partner is carrying Katherine.

"We got two juveniles involved in a T-bone accident. Male is under three years old, pulse is 120, BP is 100 over 58, respirations are 25 and strong. Pupils are of even size and responsive. Upon palpitation, abdomen was soft although there is a hematoma to the right lower quadrant. There appears to be a deformity to the lower right arm, there was no sign of a compound fracture at the scene so due to the extreme cold, we did a load and go. There are also minor lacerations to the face and hands due to flying glass. The other patient is a female, approximately one year old. Pulse is 135, BP is 110 over 41, resps are 18 and strong. Patient was sluggish in response upon our arrival but has since then responded to stimuli and pupils are even and responsive. Cursory abdominal exam revealed a soft belly and no marking. Left leg or ankle appears to have a closed fracture due to being pinned between the door and the car seat during the accident."

Both children are scared and William is crying out for his mother. He is hastily examined and released from his car seat. He is laid down on the gurney and his clothing cut away. A female nurse tries to soothe the scared child but to no avail. The same scenario is being played out in the next cubical as the medical staff works on Katherine.

Mulder is gripping the steering wheel so tightly that all the blood has drained from his hands. He stares straight ahead, almost in a trance like state; he's a man on a mission.

Scully looks out the side window, occasionally wiping away a stray tear. Her breathing is rapid and shallow as she waits to find out the fate of her children.

Katherine has already been taken for x-rays while William is being cleaned up. His position in the car meant that he caught more of the glass and flying debris than did his sister. He has cried so long and hard that he is reduced to whimpering. Once his facial and hand injuries are cleaned, he will be placed on a hydrating saline IV.

A large shadow falls over William. He looks up to see Officer Calloway staring down at him. "Hello William, do you remember me?"

"Yeah," Will softly responds.

The officer stoops down. "I told you I'd stay with you."

"Ah wan' ma mom," Will pleads, as a nurse continues to treat the tiny cuts on the little boys hand.

Calloway looks up at the nurse. "His parents aren't here yet?"

The nurse simply shakes her head.

"I called the Bureau son, your mom and dad should be here soon."

"Excuse me officer," one of the attending nurses says, "Do you know these children?"

Calloway stands up. "I know their parents, they're with the FBI. I've worked with them."

The nurse grabs a clipboard and takes a pen out of her pocket. "Can you give me some names?"

Office Calloway looks down at his charge, "This is William and the baby girl brought in with him is his sister Katherine. Their parents are Fox Mulder and Dana Scully, but that's about all I can tell you."

"Thanks," the nurse smiles. "That's a big help."

Maggie Scully is rushed through the trauma center doors having finally been cut out of the car. She still has not regained consciousness but is stable. The EMT at the foot of her gurney yells out, "We've got a sixty-three year old female involved in a car versus truck, she was in the car, car lost. Temp is 97.9, BP is 110 over 58, respirations are 16. Pupils are equal but sluggish, SPO2 at 97 percent, on two liters of oxygen via nasal canula. She's been stabilized on a spine board and we've established an IV.

Mulder races into the hospital parking lot and takes the first space he finds. He cuts the engine and soon he and Scully are running hand in hand toward the trauma center. They race through the pneumatic doors and up to the admissions window, both start to speak at the same time but Mulder defers to Scully. "I'm Dana Scully and we've been informed that our children, William and Katherine Mulder have been brought here along with my mother, Margaret Scully. Can you check on that for me, please?" Scully is talking so fast that Mulder isn't sure the nurse understands her.

"I'll go check," the nurse smiles and disappears through a door.

Scully rubs her forehead while Mulder has both hands on his hips inside his suit jacket as he stares off into space. After what seems like hours the nurse returns, "They're all three here, but did you say your name was Scully?"

"Yes that's right."

The nurse looks cautiously at Scully, "But you are their mother?"

"Yes, of course," Scully starts to bark then realizes the mix up. "Scully is my maiden name, I use it for work."

The nurse looks relieved. "Then you can go back, but I must warn you to stay out of the way of the doctors and nurses, let them do their jobs."

"I'm a medical doctor, I understand."

"Then by all means, this way," the nurse says as she leads them through the door.

Scully can hear William's soft cries coming from the second cubical and she races for him.

"It's okay William, I'll stay until your mom and dad get here." Scully knows that voice but isn't sure from where, while Mulder doesn't recognize it at all.

"William?" Scully tentatively says as she opens the curtain. The large cop stands up and turns around. Scully moves in to look at her son who upon seeing his mother begins to bawl again. "It's okay William," Scully says fighting back the tears, "I'm here sweetie, I'm here." She rubs her hand lightly across her sons toast colored hair then she looks up, "Officer Calloway?"

"That's me," the officer smiles. "William here, was a very helpful, he told me everyone's name and who his parents were."

Scully frowns, "I don't understand, why not ask my. .." It suddenly dawns on her; she doesn't yet know the condition of Katherine or her mom.

Officer Calloway sees the look of terror in her eyes. "It's okay Agent Scully, Katherine is next door and they have brought your mom in."

Scully blinks and swallows hard, then shakes her head slightly as if she's trying to clear out the bad thoughts. She then leans over and kisses William's forehead. "I'll be right back Will, I want to see how Katherine is doing."

Will begins to cry again. "It's okay William, I'll stay here until your dad comes in." This seems to ease Will's mind so Scully slips out of the cubical and into the next one where she finds Mulder brushing back his daughter's curly, chestnut colored hair. The baby is unresponsive and Scully begins to panic until she looks up at the bank of monitors and her medical knowledge takes over for her instincts. Mulder takes her by the arm, "Scully, they have her under sedation. She broke her left ankle, they're getting ready to set it." He looks down at his partner, "She's gonna be okay." Scully nods her head and bits her lower lip. Mulder rubs his hand across her shoulders and leaves to go check on William.

A nurse come in as Scully is leaning over to kiss her daughter. "You must be her mother," the young woman smiles.

"Yes, I am."

"I'm Doria and I'll be taking Katherine up to Orthopedic Surgery soon.

"Can you tell me how bad the break is? I'm a medical doctor." Scully says as she rubs her thumb over the back of her daughter's tiny hand.

The nurse picks up a large envelope off a near by table. "Here's the films, you can see for yourself." She hands the packet to Scully.

Scully clips them up on the light box and looks closely to find the tiny breaks, but there they are, three of them.

"They're so small," Scully says, fingering the three tiny white lines.

"Babies feet are small," the nurse replies.

"I really need to get her to Orthopedics," the nurse says as she piles the X-rays and charts onto the end of the bed. "You can wait in the family room on the fourth floor."

"Thanks," Scully smiles as she draws back the curtain. An intern takes one end of the gurney while Doria takes the other. "Don't worry Mrs. Mulder, we'll take good care of her."

Scully is taken back a bit at the words 'Mrs. Mulder'. She almost expects Mulder's mom to be standing there. She recovers quickly and bends down to kiss her daughter as Mulder comes out of Will's cubical. "They're taking her up to set her ankle now," she tells him.

"I'll go with her, Will is asking for you," Mulder says as he follows the gurney. Scully nods and slips into Will's cubical.

William has an IV drip in his left arm now, while his right arm has been stabilized until they can get enough fluids in him. He slowly blinks his blue eyes at his mother. His face is swollen and covered in tiny cuts and scratches. He swallows hard and licks his dry lips. A nurse is adjusting the flow in the IV line as Scully approaches the bed. "Can he have some water?" she quietly asks the nurse.

"Sure, we're not putting him under to set his arm."

Scully pours a small amount of water into a glass then lifts William's head so he can drink. He takes a few sips and smiles at his mother then softly says, "Ah hewt ma ahm."

"Yes you did, but you were very brave," Scully says as she brushes his hair away from his eyes.

"Ah know," Will replies, causing the nurse to smile. The curtain is pulled back and a diminutive, dark haired doctor enters. "Sorry to keep you waiting Mrs. Mulder, but it's been one of those days in the ER." He extends his hand and smiles, "I'm Doctor LeMay. I was the attending when your family came in."

Scully runs her fingers over Will's tiny hand and looks up. "What can you tell me about my mother?" She hastily asks.

The doctor flips open one of several folders in his arms. "Your mother is Maggie Scully, right?"

"Yes," Scully says, nodding her head.

"Your mother was brought in unresponsive but began to regain consciousness in the ER. X-rays and CT scans revealed a grade three concussion. We'll want to keep her overnight for observation and she will be sore for quite some time, she's got some nasty bruises but all things considered, she's a lucky woman." Scully rubs away a tear with the back of her hand. "When can I see her?"

The doctor smiles at Scully, "She should be in her room by now, the seventh floor."

"Thank you," Scully says, letting out a breath.

"Now for William," the doctor says as he scans through another folder. "He has a closed fracture to his right radius just above the wrist but once we get it cast he will be fine. He does have a large hematoma to his right abdomen." The doctor looks up from his folder. "I've been told you are a medical doctor."

"Yes, I am," Scully softly says.

"Then I don't need to explain to you how vulnerable a child's internal organs are to injury, due to their underdeveloped abdominal muscles, so we'll want to keep him overnight just for observation, but I can tell you we found no IB or blood in his urine. He did sustain multiple lacerations on his face and hands but nothing deforming as I'm sure you've already seen."

"Yes, I have." Scully nods.

"And finally Katherine, she came in slightly lethargic but we ran a series of X-rays and did a CT scan and found nothing abnormal and we found no external head trauma. Some kids just shut down during a traumatic event and we think she is one of them, but we'll also want to keep her overnight. She fractured her Talus bone in three places, which is slightly unusual for a child her age but I'm told the accident was quite severe. She too will be fitted with a cast. Barring further complications I expect them all to be released tomorrow." The doctor closes the last file and looks at Scully. "Do you have any questions Mrs. Mulder?"

"No, not right now, Dr. LeMay and thank you."

"That's why I'm here," the doctor grins as he leaves the room.

William has gotten drowsy while the doctor was talking and has drifted off to sleep. Another nurse peeks around the curtain, "We're ready for him," she says then quickly disappears. The nurse hovering over William begins to ready him for transport to Orthopedics. "You can go to the family room on the forth floor, but I'm sure you've already been told that," she smiles.

"Thanks," Scully replies and heads for the elevators when she hears her name being called. She turns around to see Skinner standing there.

"How's everyone doing?"

Scully puts one hand on her hip and rubs the other across her brow. She sighs and puts down her hand. "William has a broken arm and facial cuts."

Skinner frowns.

"Katherine broke her ankle and received some minor abrasions. Both of them are being fitted for casts right now." Scully pushes the button for the elevator. The door opens and she and Skinner step in. "My mom," Scully sighs, "has a grade three concussion and multiple bruising." Skinner shakes his head. "I'm so sorry Scully, if there is anything I can do just say the word," Skinner says, deeply moved by the tragedy.

"Thanks that means a lot," Scully says then frowns. "How did you get in here?"

Skinner grins and pulls out his badge. "It's amazing the places this piece of metal can get you into."

The doors open and they step out and turn to the left. They find Mulder sitting on the edge of a cushioned chair with his elbows resting on his knees while his hands are clasps in front of him and his head hangs low. Scully feels the need to comfort him just as she had felt the need to comfort her children. She sits down next to him and places her hand on his. He draws back and wraps his arms around her; finally he is showing her some emotion. He has been stoic ever since they had gotten the news about the accident. He buries his head in her shoulder and holds her tight. "It's okay Mulder," Scully soothingly says. "The doctor said that they should all be fine."

Skinner shuffles his feet and swallows hard.

Mulder pulls back and takes out his handkerchief. He blows his nose then laughs, "I never knew parenting could be so hard."

Scully chuckles, "You didn't expect it to be all bedtime stories and piggy back rides did you?"

"No," Mulder smiles back at her then drops his head again.

Scully takes his hand between hers, "Look Mulder, we're a team, we've always been a team but now our team has gotten bigger."

Mulder has to smile at her comments.

"But we'll get through this together," Scully softly says as she looks into his eyes.

Mulder smiles, "Like we always do."

"Yeah, like we always do."

Skinner clears his throat and moves into Mulder's line of sight. "Sir, I didn't know you were here." Mulder starts to stand but Skinner motions for him to remain seated.

"Any news?" Skinner asks.

Mulder shakes his head, "No."

Scully rubs his arm. "It's just two routine cast fittings, Mulder." Scully stands up. "I'm going to check on my mom, I'll be right back."

"Okay," Mulder says, watching her leave.

Scully finds her mother's room and quietly enters. Her mom is sleeping soundly, so Scully doesn't bother her but she does check the monitors before she leaves to return to Mulder.

An older nurse dressed in scrubs enters the family room and calls out, "Mr. Mulder."

"That's me," Mulder says as he bolts from his chair.

"You can see your kids now, they came through it just fine."

Scully enters the room as Mulder starts to follow the nurse. "Come on Scully, they said we can see them now."

Scully walks over to Skinner. "Come on, you've come this far."

Skinner smiles and gets up.

"He's their grandfather," Scully lies to the nurse.

The trio enters the large room to find William sitting up in his bed, sporting a light blue fiberglass cast on his arm. He is busy talking to an intern. "Ah boke ma arm," William says to the young man. "It hewt!"

"I'm sure it did, but it will get all better now," the intern assures William.

Scully and Mulder walk up to him. "Yook mom," William says holding up his cast for his parents to inspect, "Ah gots dis on ma ahm."

"Yes, you do!" Scully smiles.

"Is boo!" William announces.

"Yes, it is and you like blue don't you,"

"That's pretty neat, Will," Mulder tells his son. "Petie is going to like that."

"Yup, and Kat-run gots one on hew foot."

Mulder laughs, "Guess she won't be wearing any shoes for awhile. She'll like that, huh Will."

"Yup," William laughs then shutters from the cold.

"Can we get some clothes on him?" Scully asks.

Will sticks out his bottom lip and pouts, "Day cut ma shiwt, mom."

Scully is amazed at Will's memory. "They did that so they could get your clothes off you without hurting you. We'll go buy you some new clothes." She strokes her sons chilled back then pulls the blanket up on him.

Scully turns her attention to Katherine as Mulder and Skinner stay with William. Her daughter is sleeping soundly and sporting a bright pink cast on her left foot. Her tiny toes are blue and swollen but due to Scully's medical background, she doesn't panic. She kisses her daughter and tucks the blanket around her.

Skinner walks to the side of William's bed. "William, did you know that people write their names on casts like you have?"

Will looks down at his cast then up at Skinner and asks, "Why?"

Skinner frowns, "I'm, I'm not sure why."

"Maybe it's done for good luck and to hope you get better soon. Do you want Walter to sign your cast Will?" Mulder asks.

"Yeah!" Will readily agrees.

Skinner pulls out a felt tipped pen and gently writes, 'AD Walter Skinner, FBI." Will watches Skinner's every pen stroke then smiles when he's all done and turns to his father, "You do dat too, da-dee."

Mulder smiles and takes the pen from Skinner and writes, 'Fox William Mulder, Dad' on Will's cast.

A nurse comes up, "Okay, let's get these two settled into their room and we'll dress them there."

Will yawns and calls out, "Mom, come do dis." He holds out his cast as Mulder hands Scully the pen.

"Alright Will, but then you have to lay back down and let them take you to your room. Scully neatly signs his cast; 'I love you, Mom.' Then she helps him lean back down onto the gurney.

Mulder and Skinner walk next to the gurney carrying William while Scully sticks close to Katherine's. The elevator doors open and the nurse pushes William gurney in first then Katherine is wheeled in next. Will realizes he is about to be separated from his mother once more and puckers up and begins to bawl. Scully races to him, "Shh, its okay William. They are just taking you downstairs. Dad and I will get into the elevator in the hall and be right behind you."

Will huffs back his tears.

"If you cry William, you're going to wake up your sister and she needs her sleep."

"Okay," Will softly says.

Scully kisses her son and daughter then backs out of the elevator. "Second floor," the nurse whispers and Scully nods.

Scully, Mulder and Skinner head for the elevators at the end of the hallway. Skinner bids them goodbye and good luck as they step off on the second floor. A nurse approaches them, "Are you here for the Mulder children?"

"Yes, we are," Mulder replies.

"Well I need one of you to go down to admissions and fill out the forms. I don't know how you slipped through their fingers."

"I'll go," Mulder offers.

"No Mulder, let me go. I need to sign the papers for my mom too." Mulder agrees and Scully leaves him to wait on the kids. He paces the floor in front of the nurses' station and tugs on his bottom lip. A few minutes pass when the nurse who accompanied William and Katherine down approaches Mulder. "Mr. Mulder, they are all settled in. You can go in now, they're in room nine."

"Thank you," Mulder mumbles and takes off down the hallway in search of room number nine. He finds it and peeks in the window to see a nurse adjusting Katherine's IV while another is dressing William. He walks in and approaches Will's bed. "Hey buddy," he softly says, "those jammies look cool."

Will smiles then tries to look around his father. Mulder knows he's wondering where Scully is. "A nurse asked your mom to fill out some papers, she'll be back soon."

The attending nurse, trying to take his mind off his mother says, "Hey William that's a pretty blue cast you have there and it's already signed." She bends down to read it mumbling, " AD Walter Skinner," and then she pauses and looks at William, "FBI! That's neat!"

"Das da-dee's boss," William replies.

Mulder blushes slightly, "I'm with the FBI as is his mother."

The nurse's eyes grow wide, Mulder isn't sure why, when DC is crawling with FBI Agents. Then she blushes, "I've only been in DC a few weeks, and you're my first FBI Agent."

Mulder smiles at the obviously star struck young woman.

"Can I sign your cast too?" The nurse asks.

"Okay," William says and puts his arm out.

"Let me go get a marker, I'll be right back." The nurse rushes from the room and passes Scully coming in. "That was an experience," Scully sighs.

"What happened," Mulder questions Scully.

"They had my mom listed as their mother and no record of Katherine ever being admitted."

Just then the nurse returns and steps to Will's right side. She gently lifts the little boy's cast and writes, 'to William my favorite patient, your nurse Sandy.' She takes another marker and draws a tiny flower on the cast. The little drawing delights Will.

Sandy puts her pen in her pocket and pulls up a blanket from the foot of the bed. "We put your daughter in a crib but thought it would be better for them if we kept them together."

"Thanks, that's easier on us too," Scully replies.

"If you need anything just let me know, otherwise I'll be checking in every 15 minutes for awhile." Sandy leaves Mulder and Scully with their children.

Scully walks over to Katherine's crib and gently folds the blanket back to reveal her fiberglass, encased foot. Her little toes are a bit pinker than before but still swollen. She lifts the blanket up farther to reveal the baby's bruised legs. She tucks the blanket around Katherine's legs then folds it back from her chest. The T-shirt she is wearing has ridden up to reveal slight bruising on her belly and near the base of her ribs. Scully lifts the shirt to find her chest and shoulders are a relatively undamaged. The baby's arms are also bruised, and both hands are covered in minute cuts and scrapes. Katherine's beautiful little face is marked by a few cuts but nothing as severe as William's. She pulls up the blanket and tucks it around the sleeping infant then runs her fingers through the baby's curly, brown hair and softly kisses her cheek.

While Scully is tending to her daughter, Mulder is busy with William. He holds Will's broken arm in his hand and places the tiny hand that sticks out of the cast in his own. His son's fingers are cold, swollen, and cut. He gently clutches Will's tiny fingers then stoops down to be at eye level with his son. "Were you scared, buddy?" Mulder asks.

"Yeah," Will confides in his father.

"You want to tell me about it?" Mulder isn't sure he wants to hear the grizzly details, but as a psychologist he feels it might be therapeutic for his son to talk about the accident.

"Ah wanna see gumma," Will asks.

"You can tomorrow, buddy."

"Whew is she?" Will asks.

"She's upstairs Will, but she's sleeping." Will seems to accept this but Mulder isn't sure his son entirely believes him. "Mom saw her just a little while ago."

"Ah was 'fraid," William confesses.

"But Officer Calloway said you were very brave."

"I know," Will agrees, causing Mulder to smile.

"Da-dee dat twuck crash gumma's caw."

"I know Will, the police are trying to find the man who did it."

"He a bad man," Will concludes.

"Yes Will, I'd have to agree with you."

William looks down, "Kat-run cwied, she was 'fraid."

"I know Will," Mulder says, as his eyes grow red.

Will puts his fingers into his mouth and grins at his father. "Da-dee, Ah hun-gee."

Mulder chokes out a chuckle, "Sure you are Will; you're always hungry." He turns to Scully, "Hey mom, this kid of yours is hungry, you think you can rustle up some food for him?"

Scully looks up from her daughter, "Goodness are you hungry, William?"

Will smiles through his cuts and scraps, "Yup."

"Then let me get you some food," Scully says as she leaves the room.

Mulder turns back to his son, "Your mother will be back with some food, even if she has to cook it herself."

Will smiles at his father then draws in his shoulders and winces. "Do you hurt, son?" Mulder asks with concern in his voice.

"Ma ahm hewts," Will softly says.

Scully comes in followed by a nurse carrying a tray. Mulder smiles down at William, "See I told you she would find you something to eat."

"I hear you're hungry William," Sandy says as she sets the tray on William's table.

"Yup," Will grins at her.

"Well, let's get some soup in you. Someone told me that you like chicken and noodle."

"Yeah," Will smiles and tries to look at the tray as she lifts the lid. Will's eyes grow wide, "Oh mom, Ah gots cwackews too!"

"Yes, you do," Scully laughs.

"And a bowl of Jello for dessert," the nurse adds.

"He said his arm hurts," Mulder quietly tells Sandy. Scully catches what Mulder has said and winces.

"Let me get his meds, I'll be right back." The nurse leaves the room to find William something for his pain. Scully moves around the bed and rubs her sons back. "Does your arm ache, sweetie?"

"Yeah," Will softly says then adds, "Ah wan' ma zoop."

Scully smiles and picks up a pack of crackers. "Let me break your crackers up in it first and then I'll help you eat."

The nurse returns with a small bottle of pink medicine along with an eyedropper to dispense it. She squeezes the dropper full of the liquid and says, "Open up Will, this is cherry. You'll like it."

"He gets that at home," Scully tells the nurse.

William opens his mouth as far as he can without pain and let's the nurse feed him his medicine, then Scully gives him a sip of water to help wash it down.

A noise is heard from Katherine's crib, the baby is starting to stir. Mulder turns from William's bed to check on his daughter. The nurse leaves Scully to feed Will while she helps Mulder. "I think she needs to be changed and fed," he tells her.

"Let me get a diaper, then I'll feed her."

"No," Mulder says, "just bring me a diaper and then I'll feed her." Scully looks over at him with a wide smile on her face. The nurse retrieves the diaper and leaves Mulder to change his daughter while Scully continues to feed their son. He changes the diaper and looks over his shoulder at his partner, "Scully, do you think I'll hurt her if I pick her up?"

"Don't pick her up under the arms Mulder, try to scoop her up like you did when we first brought her home."

Mulder does as he's told and soon Katherine is resting in his arms. The nurse comes in with a baby bottle. "This is a special formula we give to babies once they're stabilized."

Mulder sits down in a rocking chair that stands in the corner of the room.

"Let me give her the pain medication before you feed her," Sandy says, giving Katherine the same meds that William received. "I'll check back in a little later," she says before leaving the room.

Will has eaten most of his cracker filled soup and has taken a few bites of his Jello but his eyes have grown heavy and he's in need of sleep. Scully retrieves a warm washcloth from the bathroom and carefully wipes Will's face then moves on to wash his hands. She lays him back down in his bed and shuts out the overhead room light. The lamp above his bed casts an eerie glow to the purple and green bruises covering his face. She softly hums to him while she brushes back his hair. He tries to fight sleep but soon succumbs to it. She pulls the blanket up and grabs another one off the end of the bed to insure he stays warm. She kisses his cheek and moves around to where Mulder is holding Katherine and bends down to kiss her daughter. Mulder starts to get up when Scully stops him. "Let me put her down."

"Okay," he softly replies, "I think I'll go check on your mom."

Scully looks shocked, "Oh Mulder! I forgot about my mom." She then glances at the door with a guilty look on her face.

Mulder moves behind her, grabs her shoulders and whispers in her ear, "I'm sure she understands that you've been busy."

Scully turns around, "If she's awake, tell her I'll be up in a few minutes."

Mulder kisses Katherine's cheek and Scully's forehead then leaves the room.

Scully places her daughter in her crib and then just like she did for William, she adds another blanket. She raises the crib rail and looks over at William once more.

Scully paces the floor outside her children's room, never straying very far. She moves to the large bow window at the end of the hallway and looks out over the sleeping city. The elevator doors open just a few feet from her. She senses Mulder before his reflection actually appears on the pane of glass. He gently places his hands on her shoulders and stares out the window.

"How's mom?" Scully softly asks as she reaches up to stroke his right hand.

"She's groggy but doing well. I told her that you would stop in before we settle in for the night."

"I'm leaving, Mulder."

He looks down at her. "Scully, I thought you would want to stay here tonight."

"I do, that's not what I'm talking about. I'm leaving the bureau."

Mulder turns her around by the shoulders. "Scully, you can't let this get to you, it could have happened to any of us."

Scully shakes her head, "No Mulder, they would have been home where they belong."

"Scully, you're not serious?"

Scully knits her brow and bites the inside of her bottom lip. Mulder walks toward the upholstered bench that sets against the wall across from Will and Katherine's room. He runs his fingers through his hair and sits down with his elbows on his knees and his tired shoulders slumped in defeat.

Scully wipes at her eyes with her fingers; her tissues used up hours ago. She sighs and slowly walks to the door that separates her from her children. Looking in the window, she sees her daughter and son, both bandaged and bruised. She turns and walks over to where Mulder is sitting and slowly lowers her tired body to the bench. Mulder has slumped back against the cold wall and shut his eyes. Scully reaches down to relieve her sore feet of her pumps.

Mulder looks down at her and smiles as she rubs her foot. "I remember six years ago Scully, we would have had a fresh change of clothes in the back of the car."

"Things change, Mulder." Scully wearily says.

"Yeah, six years ago you would be sitting out here worrying about my carcass instead of those two," he motions with a nod of his head and a smile.

Scully smiles and shakes her head. She tucks her pumps under the bench and leans back. Mulder has once again returned his head to the cool wall. "You hungry?" He asks.

"No, not really."

They sit in silence for a few more moments when Scully finally says, "So why aren't you trying to talk me into staying?"

Mulder opens his eyes and lowers his head. "Scully, we're been through this before. I can't make up your mind for you, this is far too important. It's not like I'm trying to talk you into sitting out in some swamp with me."

"I know," Scully says looking off to the side, away from Mulder. She rises and turns to him. "If you'll stay here, I'll go see mom."

"Of course I will," Mulder says then takes her hand. She stands there for a few moments then slips her hand from his and picks up her pumps.

Scully peeks around the door to her mother's room. Her mom is quiet and her eyes are closed. She has a bandage that covers most of her brow and part of the left side of her head. Scully slips in and sits down in the chair next to Maggie's bed. "Hello dear," Maggie weakly says.

"Mom, I thought you were asleep."

"No, just thinking."

"What about?"

"I was wondering when I'd be able to return to my job."

"Mom, it's just volunteer work, take some time off."

"I might not get paid for what I do, Dana; but it's important to me and to those I work for."

"I didn't mean it like that," Scully says, lowering her head.

"I know you didn't dear. Dana, you and Fox are very good at what you do. I want that same feeling; that what I do matters. I'm good at handling children."

"Yes, you are," Scully smiles at her mom. "So the accident hasn't deterred you?"

"Of course not dear, I wasn't driving the truck," Maggie smiles.

"No you weren't," Scully softly laughs.

"How are Will and Katherine doing?" Maggie asks trying to hold off sleep.

"They'll be okay, Mulder is with them now."

"Dana, is something bothering you, besides the wreck?"

Scully takes her mom's hand, "No mom, not anymore."

"That's good. We need to get our two little soldiers back into shape."

"That sounds funny coming from a navy wife," Scully teases.

Maggie softly smiles at her daughter. "The nurses tell me they were both very brave in the ER, and William helped them to locate you and Fox. He's developed so rapidly since he's been going to the program with me."

"Yes he has," Scully has to agree.

"Dana, I know I don't tell you often enough but I'm so proud of the way Will and Katherine are turning out."

"Well only half the credit goes to me, Mulder loves those two with the same intensity he used to show for his work."

"Did you ever doubt he would, Dana?"

Scully shifts in her chair, the weariness in her bones has left her vulnerable and when she gets like that she opens up, much to her chagrin. "Mulder always knew I wanted to eventually settle down and have children, but he was such a free spirit that I never imagined he would want to do the same."

"He must love you a lot, Dana."

"Why do you say it like that mom?"

"Because you said yourself he was a free spirit, maybe he wanted a family because you wanted one, and he was so in love with you that it didn't matter."

"But he really does love Will and Katherine."

"Of course he does Dana, but what he didn't realize was he would fall in love with his children like he did his partner."

Scully blushes at those words and looks down then up at her mom. "I need to let you get some sleep." Scully rises and leans over to kiss her moms cheek. "I love you mom."

Scully steps off the elevator to find Mulder leaning on one elbow with his hand on his hip looking in the window at William and Katherine. She easily slips up on him, with all his attention focused on the tiny beings beyond the door. She runs her arm around his waist, as he looks down at her, surprised by this show of affection. Scully looks up at him and lets a small smile cross her face. Mulder returns the smile and they both stand there staring into the room. Suddenly Will starts to stir and tries to sit up. Scully pushes open the door and she and Mulder approach the bed. "Hey sweetie, we're here." Scully soothingly brushes back the reddish strands of her son's hair.

Will smiles but his eyes begin to droop and he soon falls back to sleep. Scully checks Katherine's crib while Mulder tucks Will's blankets in, she scans the monitors surrounding her children as a soft knock is heard; it's Officer Calloway. "How they doing?" He asks, quietly entering the room.

"Much better," Scully softly replies. "Mulder, this is Officer Reese Calloway."

"We met while I was with Will," Mulder says.

"That's right," Reese smiles, "we had a nice talk about the case we worked together two years ago.

"I met Reese again last year during the Hovick case. He was a big help getting William and I to the hospital you were taken to," Scully says. "But how did you know it was William in the accident?"

"I was the first officer on scene. After William told me his name and who his parent's were, I stayed with him and his sister until the EMS pulled away. I'm told that your mother is going to be okay too."

"Yes, they're all going to be just fine," Scully says as she runs her hand over Katherine's.

"That's good to hear," Officer Callaway agrees. "Agent Mulder, that boy of yours was a big help. He was pretty cool considering the chaos going on around him. He helped keep his sister calm and by him giving me his name and yours, we were able to track you down much faster."

Mulder looks like he's about to burst out of his white dress shirt from the pride he feels. "Thanks Reese, we intend to keep him," Mulder jokes to his new friend.

"This isn't just a social visit, I have news concerning the accident. We found the guy who hit the car, some people in the neighborhood I.D.'ed him. He was driving while suspended and has a history of drunk driving offenses, but the most interesting part was what we found in the back of the cargo van. It was loaded with knock- off computers and software. He swears he had no idea what he was hauling and I believe him, but he did point us in the right direction to get the brains behind the group. We're rounding them up now."

Scully crosses her arms and shakes her head while Mulder simply says, "That's good."

"Sorry it had to be at the expense of an accident involving your family," Reese adds. He looks over once more at William and says, "Well, I'd better be going."

"Reese, do you have any kids?" Scully asks.

"Yes I do. One a little older than Will and one his age."

"We have a pool and a big backyard, bring them by this summer and we'll make sure they have a good time."

"Thanks," Reese grins, "I'll do that! I need to get going."

"Reese," Mulder says as he shakes the cop's hand.

Scully looks over her children once more, as does Mulder, then they quietly slip out of the room. She drags her weary bones back to the bench and flops down. Mulder soon joins her. They sit in silence, Scully again rubbing her tired feet while Mulder drops his head back against the wall. Scully finally yawns and Mulder let's a small smile cross his lips as he looks over at her. "Been an event filled day hasn't it."

"It certainly has," Scully sighs, "and one I'd just as soon forget about."

Mulder drops his head down and stares out into space. "Look how much has changed in a little over twelve hours Scully; your mom picked up the kids, we left for work, they were involved in an accident, your mom was out cold, Katherine broke her ankle, William broke his arm, and you decided to quit the Bureau."

Scully sighs and looks down at her hands. "Mulder, maybe I spoke too soon."

"About what Scully?" She now has Mulder's full attention.

"About quitting the Bureau."

"What made you change your mind?"

Scully stares off into space. "Oh you know, emotions calm down, reality sets in, my mom."

"Your mom?" What does your mom have to do with this?"

Scully frowns then glares at him, "Let's just say she's a smart woman and leave it at that, okay Mulder?"

Mulder grins, he knows Maggie must have touched a nerve in her daughter that Scully doesn't want to admit was touched.

"What are you grinning about?" Scully asks sounding a bit irritated.

"Nothing," Mulder chuckles then wraps his arm around her shoulder, "it's just nice to have my partner back."

They sit back, Mulder's arm draped over Scully and she nestled into his chest. "Scully?"


"You hungry yet?"

"I'm starving," she replies looking up at him.

"Wanna go check on Will and Katherine, while I tell the nurses where we'll be."

Scully slowly gets up and tugs on Mulder's hand. "You got it partner."

Mulder stretches his arms over his head. "Scully?"

She turns back, "Yeah Mulder?"

"We'll always be partners, won't we?"

Scully smiles, "In one form or another."

"Yeah," Mulder smiles back as he heads for the nurses' station and Scully softly opens the door to check on their children once more.

~ 20 Aftermath ~

Dana Scully is bustling around her mother's hospital room. "Mom, I told you it's no bother. You shouldn't be home alone for at least three days. A concussion like you received needs to be monitored and you're so sore you can hardly walk, let alone dress yourself."

"Yes, Doctor Scully," Maggie smiles at her daughter.

Scully has to smile at her mother's teasing. "Besides I need you to help me watch William and Katherine."

"So the truth comes out," Maggie laughs, "but when you put it that way, of course I'll stay."

Maggie, William and Katherine have just been released from DC General where they spent the night after having been involved in a serious auto accident the day before. Will broke his right arm while Katherine broke a small bone in her left foot. Maggie received a grade three concussion and was pinned in the car.

"All set?" The nurse asks Maggie.

"I think so. Dana, would you check the bathroom for me just in case I have left something."

"No need to mom, years of living on the road with Mulder taught me to check every nook and cranny before checking out."

"I'm sure," Maggie laughs.

Another nurse brings in a wheelchair. "Is that absolutely necessary?" Maggie whines.

"Absolutely," the nurse teases.

"We're headed down to Pediatrics to pick up my son and daughter," Scully tells the nurse.

Maggie gingerly sits down in the chair; sore from all the bruising she received in the accident. "Maybe this isn't such a bad idea after all," she confesses.

Scully and the nurse both smile at one another.

"William, you need to sit down, don't stand up on the bed. If you fall off, your mom's gonna have my ass."

"Whew's mom, Ah wanna go home!" William demands as Mulder deals with Katherine.

"I told you she's upstairs getting grandma." Mulder finally can't stand anymore of Will standing on the bed so he grabs him and socks him down in the metal crib with Katherine. Will gets an indignant look on his face. "Just consider yourself having been put in jail," Mulder grins at his son.

Just then Scully appears, followed by the nurse pushing Maggie in the wheelchair. "Hey mom," Will yells, "da-dee puts me in yail!"

"He did! Well I knew it would come to that sooner or later," Scully jokes.

Will holds onto the metal bars and looks over. "Gumma gots a wide!"

The nurse laughs, "So do you William. Let me go get you a chair."

Will leans over the railing and yells, "Kat-run wan's a wide too!"

"William, what a pretty cast you have on!" Maggie exclaims.

Will shoves his arm over the railing so Maggie can see it better. "Is boo an' dwawd on."

"I can see that." Maggie laughs then turns to her daughter and softly says, "Dana, his face is so bruised and cut up, doesn't it bother him?"

"Well, he is loaded with pain meds, but no it doesn't seem to."

Two nurses appear each pushing a wheelchair. "Scully, I think I'll let you ride with Katherine while I go get the car," Mulder says as he picks up their bags.

"Okay William, so you want to ride in the chair, huh," the first nurse says as she lowers the rail and lifts William up onto her hip. "But I kind of like you, why don't you stay here with me?"

Will chews on his fingers and softly says, "Ah wanna go home."

Everyone laughs. "I get the picture," the nurse says as she sets William in the chair.

Scully picks Katherine up under her knees and across her back then gently carries the baby to the chair.

"Here," the nurse says, "they're going to need these." She hands a blanket to Scully and tucks another one around William. "I'm afraid their coats were ruined down in the ER."

The parade of wheelchairs heads for the elevators and soon everyone is bundled into the SUV. Maggie sits up front with Mulder while William occupies the middle seat, and Scully and Katherine are in the back.

"Home sweet home," Mulder says as he unlocks the door and sets the bags just inside the door then helps get everyone else inside. Scully carries Katherine upstairs and turns back, "Mulder, see if William needs to go potty before you bring him upstairs so I can dress him."

Scully takes Katherine into her room and sets the baby in her crib while she gathers up some clothing. She looks back to see her mother standing behind her. "Mom, you should have waited until I could help you up the stairs."

"Nonsense Dana, I hit my head I didn't break my leg." Scully is rifling through Katherine's dresser, "I guess I'll put her in a sweatshirt and cut the left pant leg, but her foot is going to get cold."

"Put one of your athletic socks on her foot."

"What?" Scully asks, turning her head to stare at her mother.

"Your socks are larger and will cover the entire cast, put one of your socks on her."

Scully smiles. "See you've already been a big help." Maggie blushes.

"Scully! What should I put on Will?"

Maggie laughs, "Sounds like Fox is having a crisis, better let me finish dressing her while you help with William."

"Be right there Mulder," Scully calls out. "Let me get a pair of socks first," Scully tells her mom.

Mulder has William stripped down to his pull-up when Scully comes rushing in, "Mulder, you're going to freeze him!" She pulls a blanket out of the closet and wraps it around her son.

"I was trying to find something he could wear."

Scully pushes a strand of hair behind her ear, "Well, put some sweatpants on him and we'll cut the cuff off the right arm of his sweatshirt." She leaves to retrieve her scissors while Mulder puts the sweatpants on Will.

Soon everyone is dressed and downstairs. Scully heads for the kitchen while Mulder entertains the kids in the family room. She opens the fridge but closes it and moves on to the pantry.


"I'm in here mom," Scully yells.

Maggie walks into the pantry. "Mom, you should be taking it easy and why are you still in your street clothes."

"Would you rather I run around naked?"

"No, you know what I mean," Scully says as she brushes past her mother with two cans in her arms.

Mulder comes in the kitchen. "Don't let her bully you Maggie, she used to try that 'take it easy' line on me all the time." Maggie smiles at the playful look that crosses Mulder's face.

Into the kitchen bounces William, "Mom, Ah hun- gee!"

"I knew you would be," Scully laughs as she opens a can of stew. "And as soon as we're all fed, you three are laying down while I finally take a shower."

"Dana, I'm fine." Maggie pleads.

Scully heats the stew and sets the kitchen island for five.

"Look what I found wandering in the family room all alone," Mulder says, as he carries Katherine into the kitchen.

"I forgot all about her," Scully says before taking the baby from Mulder.

"Let me set her in the highchair. Mulder can you help me, I think we need to get the tray off so her cast won't catch." Will has already crawled up on his booster seat. He spies Katherine's sock and laughs, "She gots a big zock on!"

"That's to keep her toes warm," Maggie tells her grandson.

Katherine begins to beat on the highchair tray with her hands. "Goodness," Maggie laughs, "such a large racket from such a small child!"

The baby just stares at her grandmother and drools down her chin.

Mulder grabs a handful of spoons and tosses them on the table then gets a loaf of crusty bread out of the cupboard and plops it down on the table too. "Don't be so formal, Mulder," Scully jokes.

"We want to get food in everyone don't we?"

Maggie watches the easy interplay going on between the two partners. Scully ladles out three large bowls of stew along with the two smaller bowls she set out earlier to cool. Will's bowl contains only broth and potatoes; he refuses to eat anything else. Katherine, on the other hand, will eat anything she can get into her mouth.

Maggie cuts the bread into slices while Mulder fills Katherine's bottle with milk and William's sipper cup. The coffeepot will provide the adults with a beverage.

Finally everyone is seated and the bowls are set on the table. Maggie feeds Katherine her stew and breaks up a piece of bread for her granddaughter.

William picks up his spoon but soon finds, with the bulky cast on his right arm, he can't eat. "Ah can' reesh ma mouff!" He exclaims.

"Here honey, let me feed you," Scully says reaching for his spoon. William is so hungry that Scully seldom gets a bite of her own lunch. Mulder lifts William out of his booster seat and holds his son on his lap as he feeds him. Scully takes this time to eat then it dawns on her, "I forgot their meds." She gets up and comes back in with the same pink pain reliever that the kids were given in the hospital. Each one gets the required amount then returns to eating.

"How's the head, Maggie?" Mulder asks Mrs. Scully.

Maggie finishes giving Katherine a bite of her stew. "It aches a little, but it's not too bad." She spoons another sip of the stew into the baby. "We were lucky that none of us was not more seriously injured."

Mulder takes a drink from his coffee mug. "I'm going down to take a look at the car, I'll call your insurance agent if you want him to meet me there."

"Oh Fox, that would be wonderful. I wasn't looking forward to dealing with the paperwork," Maggie gratefully says.

"If it's okay with you, I'll handle the insurance and police reports for you."

"Thanks Fox, I'll take any help I can get."

"No problem," Mulder says as he sets William down on his feet. "You're all done buddy, now let mom wash your face. "Scully, I'm going to make a few stops then go into the Bureau, I'll call you later."

Scully turns in her seat and drapes her arm over the back of the stool, "Mulder, you didn't get anymore sleep last night than I did."

Mulder smiles, "I don't take much sleep. I'll shower and change then take off."

"Okay but if you do start to get sleepy take a nap before you try to drive home."

"You got it, mom," Mulder grins, while Maggie chuckles trying not to laugh.

Scully ignores his remark and takes Will to the sink to wash him. She lifts her son up onto the counter, "Here William, let me wash your hands. You can't get your cast wet."

"Why?" William questions.

"Because if it becomes wet it might fall apart." Scully pats his hands dry with a towel then dabs at his cut and bruised face.

"Oww!" Will complains.

Scully draws back, "Sorry sweetie, I'm trying not to hurt your injuries."

Will frowns, a bit confused.

Scully stoops down to be at eye level with her son then gently takes his chin in her hand, "You haven't seen your face yet, have you?"

"No," Will softly says, shaking his head.

"Do you want to see it?" Scully quietly asks, aware that it might bother him, but also aware that he might accidentally see it and find it disturbing.

"Yeah," Will nods.

Maggie has picked Katherine up and is playing with her granddaughter as she watches Dana carry William from the kitchen.

Scully flips on the bathroom light and steps into the room. "William, you have some little cuts on your face. Do you remember the nurse cleaning them?"

Will nods his head and sticks out his bottom lip, "It hewt."

Scully's eyes grow moist. "I know it did, but it won't hurt anymore. You know the bruises you've got on your tummy?" Scully says patting William's belly, "well you have some bruises on your face just like that."

Will looks down and pulls up his sweatshirt to reveal the deep purple bruise on his tummy.

"But soon the cuts and bruises will go away and you'll look like your cute, little self again."

Will blinks at his mother, not quite sure of what's going on. Scully moves him slowly in front of the mirror. Will looks up at his battered, swollen, blue-green bruised face. His eyes grow wide and Scully can feel the shock stiffen his body. He slowly brings his finger to the mirror and runs it over the most pronounced bruising.

"Well, what do you think William?" Scully's curiosity is getting the best of her.

Will shrugs his shoulders and says, "Can Ah have a cookie?"

Scully chokes out a relieved laugh and hugs her son, careful not to hurt him. "Sure, you can, come on." She sets him down on his feet and he takes off for the kitchen.

"How did he take it?" Maggie asks, as she clears the table.

"Just fine," Scully smiles, "he was more concerned with getting a cookie."

Soon Scully and Maggie have the kitchen cleaned. Katherine is sitting in her highchair and Will is playing on the kitchen floor with a little car. "Mom, can you watch them long enough for me to shower?"

"Go ahead Dana, we'll manage," Maggie teases.

Scully takes off upstairs to finally get her shower.

Maggie lifts Katherine from the highchair and carries her into the family room, putting the baby on the floor in front of the couch. Will follows them in. "Gumma, Ah wanna see Bwet an' Ewnie."

"I don't know where Burt and Ernie are William, you'll have to wait for your mom."

Will looks at his grandmother in disbelief. He walks over to the cupboard under the television and rummages through it until he finds what he's looking for then shuts the door and opens a DVD crystal. He pulls out the little disk and pushes a button on the DVD player, the door opens and the tray pops out. He loads the DVD with his left hand then turns to pick up the remote control from the coffee table. He points it at the TV and on comes Bert and Ernie. He sits down in front of the TV then looks back at his grandmother with a grin on his face. Maggie has to laugh at her grandson. Katherine crawls over next to her brother; he moves over to give her a little more room. They both sit in silence mesmerized by the antics of Bert and Ernie.

Scully scrubs herself clean and washes her hair while all the time wondering how it's going downstairs. She towels off and rubs her hair partly dry then quickly dresses in jeans and a pullover sweater. She pops a pair of socks onto her feet then slips into her loafers. She puts on a touch of makeup and runs a comb through her hair then she walks downstairs to the sound of Bert and Ernie singing. She rounds the corner of the family room to find Will and Katherine asleep in front of the TV and Maggie asleep on the couch. She smiles and walks over to close the drapes and turn off the TV. She leaves the family room and walks into the office intent on catching up on her Bureau work.

"Mulder, how's the family doing?" Agent Smith inquires.

Mulder stops to talk to the younger agent, "They'll be fine, a few broken bones, and cuts and bruises, but that's all."

"That's good to hear," Agent Smith says as he pats Mulder on the back. An act that Mulder has not yet gotten use to.

"Thanks," Mulder nods and leaves the agent. Suddenly his cell phone rings, "Mulder."

"Mulder, why didn't you call us?"

Mulder smiles as he continues to walk. "I figured you had heard it all on the police scanner Frohike then tapped into the hospital data bank and knew all about the accident before I did. I missed your shining face at the hospital yesterday."

"No body likes a smart ass, Mulder."

Mulder chuckles. "So where were you?"

"We were out of town. We just got back this morning and what do we see when we open up the paper, a horrible accident involving the Mulder kids, then we tapped into the hospital files. By the way William could use a little more potassium in his diet."

"I'll be sure and pass that along to Scully. Is there something else you wanted or did you just call to annoy me?"

"No, I called to see when we could come over and see the kids."

"Anytime after five, Scully wants all of them to get some sleep this afternoon."

"Can we come around seven?"

"Can you guys behave yourselves?" Mulder grins.

"Anything for you, big guy."

"Yeah right," Mulder laughs. "See you guys at seven," he says closing his phone.

Mulder steps onto the elevator and runs into Skinner. "Oh sir, I was just on my way to see you."

"How's the kids and Mrs. Scully doing?" Skinner asks.

"They'll survive, but for awhile I had begun to wonder if their mother would."

"You didn't look so 'together' yourself," Skinner says.

"No, I didn't," Mulder looks down at his feet and blushes.

"It's okay to be concerned about your family, Mulder. You were not on a case that you had to remain personally detached from, this was your family that was in danger." Skinner lowers his voice, "Personally, I was impressed by your demeanor."

Mulder frowns, "How so sir?"

"You have grown emotionally in the last few years. I don't know, maybe having kids does that to a man or maybe having the right woman at your side changes you. Mulder you have turned into the kind of father I always hoped someday I would be."

Mulder can tell Skinner genuinely means what he has said. "Thanks sir, that means a lot to me coming from you. Why don't you stop by the house and see the kids. I know they would love to see you."

"Really?" Skinner asks surprised by Mulder's statement.

"Remember they don't have a grandfather," Mulder smiles, I think Will sees you as the grandfatherly type.

Skinner beams, "I'll be over one evening and I'll bring dinner."

"I'm sure Scully would like that," Mulder laughs.

"I'll see you then," Skinner says as he gets off the elevator then turns back, "Mulder, you wanted to see me?"

"Right, Scully won't be in next week."

"I'll make a note of that," Skinner says as the doors close.

Scully has been working late into the afternoon on her computer when she hears the front door open. She runs from the office to the foyer just as Mulder is about to bellow, 'I'm home'. She puts her hand over his mouth and can feel his smile behind it. He wraps his arms around her waist as she drops her hand. "I take it this isn't some new type of foreplay," he softly says.

"No," Scully smiles back. "Everyone fell asleep in the family room while watching the Muppets."

"I wonder who turns your mom on, Bert or Ernie?" Mulder grins.

Scully takes him by the hand and pulls him into the kitchen. "Where have you been?" She asks as she fills the coffeepot with water and starts the coffee maker.

"I went to the Bureau to tell Skinner that you would be off next week. Scully I can stay with them if you want, you do know that don't you?"

"Yes, I do but I'm a doctor, Mulder. I know what signs to look for it if they are in distress."

Mulder fights to keep a smile off his face. "I agree."

"What's in the bag?" Scully asks pointing to a white plastic bag Mulder has lain on the counter.

"Just some things I picked up to help keep our patients occupied. And speaking of occupied, the Gunman are coming over tonight around seven."

Scully pours two mugs of coffee and pushes one toward Mulder. "I'm surprised it took them that long to call."

"Um, is that coffee I smell?" Maggie says as she walks in the room.

"Sorry mom, did we wake you?"

"No dear, the smell of the coffee did," she says, taking a seat next to Mulder.

Scully sets a cup down in front of her mom.

Maggie takes a long drink from her mug; "This is my first cup in over a day. They wouldn't let me have any coffee in the hospital."

"How are you feeling, mom?"

"I'll have to admit I am a little sore but that will pass. Sorry I didn't do such a good job watching Will and Katherine."

"Nonsense, all three of you needed the rest."

"Did you rest Dana?"

"No," Scully blushes, knowing she's just been caught. "I worked on the computer all afternoon."

Mulder spins his stool around to face his partner. "I know one little FBI Agent who's going to bed early tonight."

Scully has to snicker.

A shuffling is heard and everyone turns to see William coming in, not fully awake yet. Scully picks him up and he lays his head on her shoulder. "How you feeling, honey?" She asks her son.

"Okay," he softly says then adds, "Ah wanna go potty." Scully puts her hand on the back of his head and carries him to the downstairs bathroom.

Maggie watches them leave and turns to face Mulder. "I'll bet you two couldn't believe it when you were told there had been an accident."

Mulder puts his mug down and nods his head. "You'll never know the terror we felt."

"I'm sure."

"To think in an instant you might have lost three of the people you love most..." Mulder stops, aware of what has just slipped out.

Maggie puts her hand on his. "I know son, I felt the same way every time you and Dana had a mishap in the field."

Mulder looks up at Maggie wide-eyed.

Maggie smiles, "Fox, you did know I loved you and still do? Not like Dana does, of course, but as I love my own children."

Mulder swallows hard and looks down at his cup, "Thanks Maggie that means a lot to me."

"I think our boy here is adjusting to his cast just fine," Scully says smiling down at her son as she carries him into the kitchen and sets him on a stool.

"I'll go check on Katherine," Mulder offers as he climbs off his stool.

William plops his cast down on the counter and announces, "Ah hun-gee!"

"I figured as much," Scully laughs. "How 'bout a banana?"

"Okay," William agrees.

Scully peels the banana and cuts in into small pieces for him. He's awkward at first but he finally does get the hang of using his left hand.

Mulder returns to the kitchen, "She's still asleep."

"Fox, did you find out anything about my car?" Maggie asks.

"The insurance adjuster met me at the salvage yard. He took one look at it and said they would be writing you a check, less your deductible. I did clean your car out for you, everything is in a box in the back of mine."

"Thank you Fox, that's such a relief."

Scully has to smile at Mulder.

"What cha eating there, Will?" Mulder asks his son as he sits down next to him.

"A 'nana," Will answers around a bite.

"Scully, why don't I take Will and go pick up some dinner for us."

Scully hesitates, "I'm not sure he should be out so soon."

"Mom, ah wanna go wiff da-dee."

Scully is torn but finally acquiesces, "Okay, but be careful."

"What should I get?"

"No pizza, and nothing spicy. Pick up some sandwiches or a chicken dinner."

Mulder carries William to the sink to wash his hands. "Come on buddy, lets you and me go find some previsions for our family."

"Wuz pro-veesiuns?" William asks.

"Food!" Mulder laughs as he scoops up his son and carries him upstairs to dress his feet.

Suddenly a noise is heard from the family room. "I think our littlest one is awake," Maggie says as she leaves the kitchen.

Scully tidies up then heads for the family room but finds it empty. She folds up the blankets and hears her mom coming down the stairs talking to the baby. "Did that badman hurt you, honey? We won't let him do that ever again."

Maggie turns the corner to the family room. "I see you've changed her," Scully says.

"I put her rompers on her but didn't snap the last two snaps. She always looks so cute in red with her dark hair and eyes."

Scully takes Katherine from her mom and sets her on the floor amid her soft toys. "Mom, I should look at your head and change the bandage."

"Can I wash my hair while the bandage is off?" Maggie pleads.

Scully slowly shakes her head, "'Fraid not, maybe Monday."

"Dana, this is Saturday! I can't go that long."

"Tell you what, tomorrow, late, I'll change your bandage again and if it looks better I'll help you wash your hair. Now sit still while I peel this off," Scully says as she pulls the gauze squares off Maggie's left temple. "It doesn't look too bad and the seeping has stopped, let me get my medical supplies." She leaves the room but isn't gone long. "What I can't figure out is how you got by without getting a black eye or at least more bruising."

"That's easy," Maggie says, "us Scully's are hard-headed."

"Not as hard-headed as the Mulder's," Scully replies as she tapes the new gauze on Maggie's forehead.

"That was sweet of Fox to check on my car for me today. I hope I can get enough out of it to buy something dependable."

"Well Mulder has wrecked enough Bureau cars to be able to give you a rough estimate of its value."

Maggie sits down on the couch and Katherine crawls up to her. She lifts the baby up and sets her on the couch. "It's been so long since I've bought a car, I'm not even sure what to look for in one."

"I'm sure Mulder will help you," Scully says as she gather's up her medical supplies.

"I hate to impose on him, he's done so much already."

"Please let him help you," Scully says taking Katherine and holding her on her lap. She pulls the snaps apart from Katherine's left pant leg and removes the large sock. The baby grins and wiggles her toes. Scully smiles, "That's what I want to see, some movement." She blows across her daughter's little toes and the baby cackles, displaying her tiny baby teeth.

There is a noise heard coming from the kitchen. It has to be Mulder and William. "Food!" William yells at the top of his lungs. Scully can hear laughter and giggles; she knows Mulder put their son up to saying that.

Scully carries Katherine into the kitchen followed by her mom. She walks over to Mulder and peeks into the bag sitting on the counter. "What did you get?"

"'Hicken!" Will pipes up, "an' yiddle cowns, an' bake beams, an' wha else da-dee?" Will asks, looking up at his father.

"We got rotisserie chicken, little corn on the cobs," Mulder laughs, "baked beans, mash potatoes and gravy, and Will picked out a cherry pie for dessert."

"That's sounds delicious Will, you did a good job," Maggie praises her grandson.

"I know," Will agrees.

Soon everyone is seated at the counter and passing around bowls and plates of food. Will is determined to eat his 'little corn' with his left hand and is successful except for the butter dripping down his elbow.

Each adult takes a turn at feeding him and Katherine so that everyone gets a chance to eat. Scully clears the counter while Maggie cuts the pie just as the doorbell chimes.

"I'll get it," Mulder says getting up from the table.

Scully hears animated talk coming from the hallway. "Better cut three more pieces of pie."

Maggie looks up just as the Gunman invade the kitchen.

"Hey, hey, how's everyone doing?" Frohike exclaims, clapping his hands together.

Will snaps his head around to see his favorite playmates, next to Petie.

"Mini-Mulder!" Langley says as he rubs William's head.

"Hello Mrs. Scully, good to see you again," Byers' adds.

"Sit down guys, you're just in time for pie and coffee," Scully says setting three more pieces in front of her guests. Maggie pours three cups of coffee and everyone sits down.

Byers is next to Katherine, it's obvious he has taken a shine to the little girl. "Hello Katherine, I heard you hurt your leg. I hope its feeling better." Katherine stares at Byers then breaks into a huge, toothy grin and offers him her spoon. "No," he laughs, "you keep it."

Langley sits next to Will. For some reason William finds the myopic, stringy haired man fascinating. "Will, my man, I heard you got your wing clipped, bummer." Will laughs but he isn't sure why.

Frohike inserts himself between the two Scully women. "And how are you, Mrs. Scully? Looks like you took a nasty whack on the head."

"That's right Mr. Frohike."

Frohike leans toward Mrs. Scully, "Please call me Melvin."

Mulder has disappeared but comes back in with the shopping bag he had brought in earlier. He sits down next to Scully as the guys all chat with Maggie about the accident. Scully has her elbows on the table and her chin resting on her hands. She glances over at Mulder and leans into him, "What's in the bag?"

"Just a few things to keep our patients occupied," Mulder softly says.

"All right you two, no getting all lovey-dovey on us," Frohike teases, catching the partners talking.

Mulder smiles and Scully blushes. "Nothing like that Frohike, I have a few get well gifts for our injured family members."

Mulder opens the bag as William's eyes light up. "Wuz in da bag, da-dee?"

"You'll see Will," Mulder grins.

"Is sum'pin fo me?" Will asks.

"Hang on buddy, I'm getting to it." Now all eyes are on Mulder. "Maggie I didn't know what to get you but I did find this." Mulder pulls out a small but thick, well worn book and hands it to Maggie.

She reads the title and her face breaks out into a large smile. "Fox, where did you find this?"

"In a used bookstore down on Wells."

"What is it?" Langley finally asks.

Maggie holds up the book. "It's an old Irish cookbook." She reaches over to clasps Mulder's hand, "Thank you Fox, but why get me something?"

"It was nothing," Mulder blushes and brushes off her thanks. "Wuz for me, da-dee," Will says, standing on his chair and leaning over the table.

"Hold on Will," Mulder says. Digging around in the bag, he pulls out a Winnie the Pooh bear.

Will's eyes grow wide as a smile crosses his face, "Is da mine?"

"No Will, this is for Katherine." Mulder flips a switch and the chubby bear crawls across the table toward Katherine. "I thought since she can't go to her toys, her toys can come to her."

"That's a great gift," Scully tells Mulder as she pats his arm.

The Pooh bear crawls to Katherine and her eyes light up as she laughs and picks it up. The guys all laugh when she tries to chew off its nose.

Finally William can't stand it any longer, he pats his hands together, mindful of the cast that comes down and surrounds his thumb. "Whew's mine da-dee?"

Mulder hesitates and digs around in the bag, "Where is it, now let me see."

"Mulder, stop teasing him," Scully says.

"Here it is." Mulder pulls out a box then unfolds the flaps on one end.

"What is it da-dee?" Will bounces.

Mulder pulls out the toy; "It's a Fisher-Price slide show projector."

"Oh," everyone except Maggie moans and slumps back into their chairs.

"What!" Mulder looks around very confused.

"Like father, like son," Scully laughs, grabbing the box and pulling out the little set of slides.

"Wuz it do, da-dee?" Will excitedly asks.

Mulder picks up his son and the projector and carries both into the family room but not before turning around and saying, "Give us five minutes and be prepared to be amazed."

Everyone groans once more.

Byers now has Katherine on his lap as she plays with the Pooh bear. "Dana, those two are so much alike it's scary."

"It's spooky," Langley adds.

"Scully come see this," Mulder yells from the other room.

"Yeah mom, come see dis!" William mimics his father.

Scully look back at the faces surrounding her then slowly gets off her stool. "We might as well get this over with."

They all shuffle into the family room and take their seats. The next twenty minutes are spent watching slides of various nursery rhyme characters to hoots and hollers and some ribald comments. Finally the lights come on and everyone claps, much to William's delight.

"Mulder, I have to admit this was better than most of your slide shows."

"Ha, ha Scully, very funny," Mulder remarks.

"Well guys, we should be going and let these people get some rest," Frohike says as he stiffly rises from the couch.

Byers hands Katherine to Scully. "He's right, but I would just like to say I'm glad the children are going to be okay," then as an after thought adds, "oh, and you too Mrs. Scully."

"Thank you John," Maggie replies.

The three friends trudge to the front door followed by Mulder carrying Will. They all bid him good night then Frohike turns back, "You take good care of them Mulder, you're a lucky man."

"I know that Melvin and I will," Mulder sincerely says.

William and Katherine have been in bed for hours when Maggie finally bids Scully good night.

Mulder is downstairs working on the computer in his office when Scully comes in. She quietly walks up behind him and wraps her arms around his neck. "You going to be long?" She asks.

"No, I'm almost done," Mulder yawns. "Everyone in bed?"

"Down and out for the count," She says walking around the desk and flipping through the latest pile of medical journals sitting on the edge. She walks over to the glider-rocker and sits down shutting her eyes. "Mulder, how much do you think my mom will get from the insurance company for her car?"

Mulder stops typing and thinks for a moment, "The adjuster mentioned around two thousand dollars, if she is lucky."

"Two thousand dollars!" Scully blurts out. "Is that all?"

"Well the car was seven years old plus she had a large deductible." "But it was still a good car."

"That may be true Scully," Mulder says as he shuts down the computer, "but the insurance company will go by the book value less the deductible."

Scully walks over to the desk and rest her hip on the corner nearest Mulder. "My mom doesn't have the money to start making payments."

Mulder stands up and stretches then brings his arms down to encircle Scully's waist. He pulls her close and kisses her forehead. "You worry about the broken bones and let me worry about your mom's car. Now come on let's go to bed." He releases her and flips off the light switch then follows Scully upstairs.

Sunday dawns clear and unusually warm for a mid March day in DC. Mulder has been up and running for the past hour while Scully and the rest of the family has slept in. He hits the back door sweaty and softly puffing. He walks into the laundry room and toes off his running shoes as Scully has asked him to do. He pulls up his shirt to wipe his face as he walks into the kitchen and nearly runs into Maggie.

"Oh Fox, I didn't see you standing there."

"Sorry Maggie, I wasn't watching where I was going," Mulder blushes.

"Let me put on the coffee pot and start breakfast."

"Scully's not gonna like that."

"Oh poo," Maggie says, "I'm not an invalid."

Mulder smiles at her and pulls two mugs out of the cupboard. Soon both are seated at the island counter in the kitchen. Maggie takes a sip of her coffee and looks over at Mulder. "Fox, why did you buy that cookbook for me? It had to cost a small fortune."

Mulder sets down his mug, "It wasn't that much really. I guess I just wanted to say thanks for being so good with William and Katherine. I know you spend a lot of time with them and it has to get old after awhile."

"Fox," Maggie laughs, "I love my grandchildren and it doesn't get old, I enjoy it."

Mulder looks down at his mug, "I know my mom would have loved the kids but I'm not so sure she would have wanted to spend the time with them you do."

"Of course she would have Fox, being a grandmother brings out the best in women," Maggie says, then realizes what she has said, "I didn't mean to imply..."

Mulder looks up at her and smiles, "I know what you meant and I only hope you're right." He takes another drink from his mug, "Scully, I mean Dana, and I trust very few people in our lives and even fewer in our children's, but we know they're safe with you."

"Thank you Fox, you know I would never let anything happen to them, even yesterday the truck was upon us so fast that..."

Mulder grasps Maggie's hand, "Hey, Scully and I know this accident was not your fault. I'd love to be on the team investigating this but because of personal ties they wont let me near the little bastard."

Maggie smiles at Mulder's protectiveness. "Well, I'm sure for that man's own well being that's best."

Mulder gets up to refill his mug, "Yeah, we wouldn't want to find him hanging from a bed sheet in his cell."

"Fox!" Maggie exclaims.

Mulder turns to face her, "I'd do it too!"

Maggie gets up to refill her mug, "You would not, I know you too well. Eventually they would figure out you did it, you'd go to jail and Dana would have to raise these two alone."

Mulder looks down into his coffee mug then at Maggie and grins, "You're right, I wouldn't do it but when I was thinking about it at three o'clock this morning it seemed like a good idea."

Maggie laughs, "Don't all ideas seem good at that time of the night." Just then a very groggy, very disheveled Scully shuffles into the kitchen.

"Morning dear."

"Morning," Scully mumbles.

Mulder chuckles, "Scully, you look like a cat has been licking your hair."

"Shut up, Mulder," she says as she walks over to the coffee pot.

Maggie leans into Mulder and softly says, "She never was much of a morning person."

Scully sits down and takes a sip of her coffee then looks around, "Mom, what are you doing?"

"I'm cooking breakfast, and don't say a word. I feel fine."

"In that case, I'll have a scrambled egg and toast."

Mulder and Maggie look at each other with smiles on their faces. "So where are William and Katherine?" Mulder asks.

"Still asleep. I doubt they will be up very soon. The last few days had to leave them exhausted."

"Don't bet on it," Mulder laughs as William pads into the kitchen. He leans over to pick up his son.

William lays his head on his father's chest and softly yawns, "Ah hun-gee."

Mulder pulls out a stool and sits Will's booster seat on it. "Here you go buddy, let grandma cook you some eggs."

Maggie puts a plate of scrambled eggs in front of Scully and pulls her toast out of the toaster.

"You want this William?" Scully asks her hungry son. He nods his head 'yes', so Scully pushes the plate in front of him. "Do you need to use the potty?" She asks. He nods his head once again.

"I'll take him," Mulder offers.

"I should go check on Katherine," Scully says rising from her chair. "It's uncanny, but once one of them wakes up the other isn't far behind."

Soon everyone is seated around the kitchen island. Will has given up trying to hold a spoon in his left hand, and like Katherine, is eating his scrambled eggs by the fist full.

Maggie wipes her mouth on her napkin, "Dana, I'm going to church today."

William pipes up, "Can Ah go pay wiff Pee-ie?"

"No dear," Maggie laughs, "today is Sunday, it's the day we sit upstairs and listen to the man speak."

Will wrinkles up his nose, causing everyone to laugh.

"Mom, I'm not sure you should be out yet."

"Dana, after what we're been through I need to go to church and thank God that we're all safe."

Scully contemplates what her mother has just said then says, "I'm going with you."

Scully, Maggie and William leave for the church in Scully's Cherokee while Mulder and Katherine stay behind. He has cleaned her up and put her rompers on her then carries her downstairs and sets her on the floor in the middle of the office. He leaves the room to retrieve her toys from the family room. "Here Katherine, now you play with these while I do some work." The baby grins a big, four-toothed grin at her father and picks up her rag doll. Mulder smiles back at his daughter and walks over to the desk. He turns on the computer and brings up the notes he has been working on for Monday's class. He gets up to retrieve a book from the shelf behind him when he feels something strange and looks down to see Katherine holding on to the pant leg of his jeans, grinning up at him. He puts the book back on the shelf and bends down to pick up his daughter. "Hey there little one, what are you doing here. You're supposed to be playing with your toys." He carries her back to the pile of toys but no sooner sits back down at his desk then she crawls back to pester him. He picks her up once more. "You're just like your mother, you can't resist me," Mulder chuckles.

Katherine lets out a string of baby babble and pats Mulder's face. "Okay, you can sit here with me if you behave." He gets up once more to retrieve the book he needs. Katherine's quick little hands grab another book that falls to the floor as Mulder is pulling out the one he wants. The baby slumps over his arm to stare at the book now lying on the floor. Mulder puts the book he needs on the desk and picks up the book Katherine pulled out but once again she's too quick for him and this time two books crash to the floor. "Katherine! I can't get my work done if all I do is pick up books."

Mulder picks up both books and this time turns the baby away from the bookcase before replacing the two books that fell. He sits down at the desk holding Katherine on his left knee. He opens the book he just got out and flips through the pages until he finds the passage he wants and begins to read as he takes down notes. Katherine grabs the book and pulls it off the desk; it falls to the floor short one page that she is now cramming into her mouth.

"Katherine!" Mulder yells. The baby's eyes grow large and she begins to bawl. "No, no, don't cry. I didn't mean to scare you. Please don't cry! Oh shit." Katherine cries even harder.

Mulder carries her into the bathroom. "Come on baby, don't cry, I would never hurt you," he says holding her close, trying to comfort her. Katherine begins to ask for her mother, Mulder feels bad that she doesn't trust him and wants her mom for comfort. He holds her close to his chest and softly hums to her. She begins to grow quiet and more pliable in his arms. He draws back to look down at her. She has puffy eyes and her nose is running from crying. He turns on the tap and wets a washcloth then sits down on the toilet lid and dabs at her tears. She lets him gently wash her face mindful of the tiny cuts and scrapes then smiles up at him. His heart almost breaks when he says, "So we're friends again, huh kiddo?"

He carries her into the family room where they spend the morning playing. He gets on his knees and crawls after her, he blows on her tummy, and they play pat a cake, all to Katherine's delight. They finally end up on the couch, which is where Scully finds them. Mulder is sprawled out with one leg draped off of it, while Katherine is spread across his chest with her cast protectively cradled in his hand.

"Mom, come here," Scully softly say to her mom. She points to her two couch potatoes and smiles. Will runs in but Scully quiets him while she drapes a throw over them.

Later in the afternoon Scully has William in the office working on his reading while Maggie is upstairs in the guest room with Katherine. Mulder softly knocks on the doorframe. "Can I come in?"

"Of course you can, Fox."

He walks over to the bed where the baby is sitting. "I wondered where you had gotten to." Katherine grins up at her father as she pats the ball she and Maggie have been playing with.

"Is there something you wanted Fox?"

"Yes there is," Mulder says as he sits down on the edge of the bed. "Maggie how much do you think your car was worth?"

"I don't know Fox, I just hope I get enough out of it to allow me to get something dependable."

"Would you ever consider something like Dana drives?" He asks as he runs his hand over Katherine's cast.

"No, that's too big for me, too expensive, and I couldn't afford to fill the gas tank."

"Yeah, you're probably right."

"I just need a plain car like I have always driven."

Mulder looks up at Mrs. Scully, "Why don't you and I go take a look at some cars later today."

"But I'm not even sure how much I'll be getting from my insurance company yet."

"It wouldn't hurt to just go look," Mulder says, turning on the charm.

"Well, I guess it wouldn't"

"Great, I'll be ready when you are," Mulder smiles then picks up Katherine and carries her downstairs.

Later that afternoon while the kids and Scully are sleeping, Mulder and Maggie slip away.

"So Fox how much do you think I'll get out of my car?"

Mulder clears his throat, "Maggie, I'm not an adjuster but I think you might get two thousand out of it."

"Oh my!" Maggie exclaims as she brings her hand to her mouth. "That isn't much."

"Look, I know a friend of a friend who has a car lot, let's go see him."

Maggie doesn't say anything but Mulder can see she is worried.

They wheel into a huge car lot and Mulder pulls up to the showroom. He and Maggie step from the car. She pulls her coat around her as the wind starts to pick up. Mulder puts his hand on the small of her back and they walk into the showroom filled with shiny new sports cars, minivans, and pick-up trucks. A tall, thin older man approaches them with his hand extended. "Ah Fox, how good to see you again."

"This is Jack Ford," Mulder tells Maggie. "Jack, this is my mother in law, Maggie Scully and she is looking for a used sedan."

"But nothing too expensive," Maggie adds.

"Of course," Mr. Ford assures her. "Let me get my coat."

Mulder and Maggie step outside to wait for Mr. Ford.

"Ah, here let me show you what we have in previously owned vehicles," Mr. Ford says as they walk to a row of cars. "Mrs. Scully, can you tell me what you're looking for?"

"I need a simple car, an automatic, air conditioning would be nice, and I have grandchildren so four doors is a must."

Mulder smiles at Mr. Ford and winks.

"Sounds good, let me show you our line of sedans." They move down another row, "I have a Chevy Malibu and a Monte Carlo I think you might like." He shows her a white Malibu with a red pin stripe down the side and a red Monte Carlo. "These are both 98's, low mileage and very clean."

Maggie looks them over. "They are both nice. I like the red one," Maggie says then looks at the prices written on the front glass and frowns.

Mulder steps in, "Jack, do you have anything newer?"

Mr. Ford thinks, "We do have a 2002, but I'm afraid it's a stick."

"What about a new one?" Mulder asks.

Maggie's head snaps up, "Fox!"

Mulder ignores her plea and follows Mr. Ford. "I do have a 2003 that's new with only has 75 miles on it, I can make you a good deal."

"Let's see it," Mulder says taking Maggie by the elbow.

The dealer walks them across the lot to the new cars. Sitting amongst the SUV's and minivans is a dark blue metallic flake Monte Carlo with a sunroof and gray leather interior.

Mulder can tell Maggie has fallen in love with the flashy car. "Well, sit in it," he nods toward it.

"Fox, I can't..."

"Sit," Mulder says as he walks her toward the open car door.

Maggie sits down as the dealer crawls in the other side and begins to point out the accessories as Mulder slowly shuts the door. He can see animated talk coming from the dealer as Maggie nods her head. He steps back as the engine comes to life. Maggie turns to retrieve her seatbelt and waves to Mulder. He smiles and waves back. The car slowly pulls away with Maggie at the wheel. Mulder pulls out his cell phone and hits speed dial one.


"Hey Scully, did I wake you?"

"No, I've been up for awhile."

"I think your mom has found a car."


"Yeah, it's a 2003 Chevy Monte Carlo. Scully, you should have seen her face when she saw it, she's out testing it now."

"Mulder, do you think you can get her to accept the money for it? I know we discussed it last night but I'm still not convinced she'll let us buy it for her."

"Leave it to me Scully."

"I always do," Scully laughs.

Soon the Monte Carlo comes into sight. Maggie is handling it like she'd driven this car all her life. They pull up next to Mulder and Maggie shuts off the engine.

"Well?" Mulder grins down at her as he helps her out of the car.

"I like it," Maggie says as she looks back over her shoulder. "It drives like a dream, but I can't afford it."

Mr. Ford puts out his arm; "Come on lets go inside where it's warmer."

Once they are seated at the desk Maggie begins, "Mr. Ford it really is a nice car but I..."

"How much?" Mulder interrupts.

"Two thousand," the dealer says.

"We'll take it," Mulder answers.

"I'll write it up," the dealer says as he starts to get up.

"Now just a minute here!" Maggie complains.

The dealer sits back down as Mulder slumps down in his seat with both elbows on the chair arms as he brings up one hand to his chin.

"I wasn't born yesterday, Fox Mulder! I know that car is worth a lot more than two thousand dollars. Want to tell me what's going on here?"

Mulder pulls on his bottom lip and sighs like a little boy caught in a lie.

"Fox?" Maggie asks with her arms crossed and leaning over to look at Mulder.

"If you'll excuse me, I think I'll go check on our stock," Mr. Ford says as he gets up and quickly leaves the office.

Maggie watches the dealer. "You would think he could have come up with a better excuse than that."

Mulder has to chuckle.

"Fox?" Maggie says looking directly at Mulder.

Mulder winces, "Scully said you'd never go for it."

"Oh so Dana was in on this too."

"Don't blame her, this was my idea," Mulder says as he gets up and begins to pace the room.

Maggie has to smile at the nervousness he displays. "Are you going to tell me what's going on?"

Mulder runs his fingers through his hair then flops down in the dealer's leather chair. "I found out you were only going to get two thousand bucks out of your car and I knew you couldn't get much with that kind of money." Mulder is now playing with a pile of paper clips stuck to a magnetic base. "I only wanted to help you out. Scully and I have the money; hell we won't even miss the money. I just wanted you to have a dependable car and out side of my family, and my kids, you're the only one I love," then he quickly adds, "except for Scully of course."

Maggie has to purse her lips to keep from laughing at his babbling.

"And besides you'll be hauling Will and Katherine around and I want them to be safe too."

Maggie doesn't say a word but walks to the door. Mulder drops the paper clips and slumps down in the high backed chair sulking. She opens the door and motions for Mr. Ford to come back in. He enters the office and Mulder tilts his head and slumps down even farther. "Mr. Ford, two thousand you say?"

The dealer merely nods.

"I will give you two thousand and Fox can give you the rest. We'll take it."

Mulder's eyes light up; he can't believe what she is saying.

"Excellent," Mr. Ford says, "let me get it prepped for you."

Maggie turns to her son in law and points her finger at him, "And as for you mister..."

Mulder averts his eyes.

"Your name will be on the title too." Maggie's face breaks out in a huge grin and she approaches Mulder. He stands up and she wraps her arms around him, hugging him. "Thank you Fox, you've been everything a mother could have wanted for her daughter."

Mulder returns the hug, "Thanks Mag...I mean mom; that means a lot to me. Now come on lets go get your car."

Scully can hear a horn honking and looks out the front window to see a dark blue car rounding the drive followed by Mulder in his own vehicle. The car comes to a halt in front of the house. Scully carries Katherine to the door and opens it to see her mom stepping out of the car with a wide smile across her face. "Well Dana, do you like it?"

Scully laughs, "Mom, I love it!" She carries Katherine out of the house to the car, as Will tags along.

Mulder steps out of his SUV and walks over to Scully. "Here let me take her in."

It's then that Scully realizes Katherine is out in the cold wind without a coat on. "Oh sweetie, you must be freezing."

"Dana, put on you coat and bring Will's and his car seat." Maggie laughs as she looks in her new car to see William sitting in the front seat.

Scully runs back inside, froze to the bone. "Mulder, how did you get her to agree to take the money?"

Mulder leans into her. "Piece o' cake," Scully smiles, "Yeah, well you can tell me the truth later."

"Come on Katherine," Mulder says cradling his daughter, "let's you and me go check out the best car seats available on the 'net."

Scully retrieves their coats and pulls William's car seat out of Mulder's vehicle and installs it in the car while Maggie dresses William in his coat.

Once everyone is buckled in they pull out onto the road. Will looks up at the sunroof and points, "Gumma gots a ho' in her woof!"

Scully laughs, "No Will, that's supposed to be there. How does it drive, mom?"

"Like a dream. Dana, I want to thank you for helping me out."

"I'm glad you like it, and it was Mulder's idea."

"Dana, he's such a sweet and thoughtful man."

Scully has to smile, "Well, he likes you."

"I know that, but he puts a little more effort into our relationship than most men do. I am, after all, his mother in law and you've hear all the mother in law jokes."

"Mom, there is one thing I will say for Mulder, he really does admire and respect you. He only regrets that his own mother was not made from the same mold as you."

"That means a lot to me," Maggie says as she rounds a corner. "Dana you know I love Tara, but Fox always seems so hungry for acceptance and support that I have a special place for him in my heart."

Scully looks back at William who is busy watching the sky through the sunroof. "You certainly do seem to know how to handle Mulder."

Maggie wheels her new car into a Baskin-Robbins parking lot. "How about some ice cream?"

"Ah yike ize keem!" William shouts.

"Of course you do William, it's edible," his mother teases as she unbuckles him, being careful not to hit his cast.

Mulder does look for car seats on the Internet and narrows it down to three that he wants to show Scully but not before Katherine gets the top off of a Sharpie and decides to put it in her mouth, and then draw on her arm with it. He knows Scully is going to have a fit when she sees the baby's artwork.

Suddenly he hears voices and decides he might as well face the music, so he picks up his daughter and carries her into the kitchen with her back toward her mother. "Um Scully, I need to show you something."

Scully finishes taking off Will's coat and pushes a strand of hair back as she turns, "What is it Mulder?" She says with a touch of concern in her voice. Everyone grows quiet.

"Well, it's like this, I ah, I was on the computer looking up car seats and I found three really nice ones but, ah, while I was reading the ad on the car seats... Did I mention that I was holding Katherine on my lap?" The baby turns her head toward her father at the mention of her name. "Anyway, some how she go hold of a marker and well..." Mulder turns the baby around so everyone can see her face. Maggie burst out laughing, as Will pulls on his father's arm so he can see what Katherine has done and he too laughs. Katherine sees her brother laughing and she joins in. Scully holds her hand to her mouth and tries to suppress her own laughter but doesn't succeed.

"Does this mean you're not mad?" Mulder sheepishly asks.

Scully turns Katherine's arm to get a good look at the ink covering it. "Mulder, we could have lost her two days ago. I'm not upset over a little ink but I am concerned that you weren't watching her closer."

"I know Scully and it won't happen again," Mulder says as he rubs his chin over his daughter's soft, curly, brown hair. William pats Mulder on the leg, "Da-dee, da-dee," he says but Mulder isn't paying attention to him. Scully takes Katherine to see if she can get some of the ink off her. "Da-dee!" William demands as he pulls on Mulder's pant leg.

"What is it buddy?" Mulder asks as he bends over to pick up his son.

William chews on the fingers of his left hand. "Ah got to wide in gumma's new caw an' she gots a sunwoof."

"She does!" Mulder laughs.

"Yup an' she open' it"

"That's pretty neat!"

Will twist up his fingers and softly says, "An' we got you somepin'."

"William!" Scully groans. "It was supposed to be a surprise."

"That's okay Dana, its not a big deal," Maggie smiles.

Mulder whispers in William's ear, "What is it?"

Will leans around his father and whispers back, "Ize keem." Mulder grins at his son then acts surprised, sending William in fits of giggles.

"See how they gang up on me," Scully teases.

"So Scully," Mulder says as he grabs her around the waist while still holding Will, "been holding out on me, huh."

Scully looks up at him, "No Mulder, mom bought you some ice cream."

Maggie pulls the container out of the bag. "Fox, I got you a quart of double chocolate fudge."

"How did you know that was my favorite?"

"Will pointed it out to me," Maggie chuckles.

Mulder looks at William, "Smart choice son."

Will pats Mulder's cheeks and turns on the charm, "Can Ah have some of yo' ize keem?"

"Oh brother," Scully says rolling her eyes, "he sounds just like his father."

Maggie laughs as Scully hands Katherine to her and sets out three bowls and spoons. "Might as well put her in the highchair mom, once she sees Will eating ice cream she is going to want some too."

The rest of the day is spent eating ice cream and riding around in grandma's new car. Maggie has William ask Scully if she can wash her hair yet. Scully finally acquiesces; how could she turn down a request from her son.

~ 21 The Incident ~

Scully bends down to tie the hood on her son's jacket. "Now you be good for grandma today and remember it's her first day back at church school too."

"Ah weo," William assures his mother.

Scully can hear a car coming up the drive, "There's grandma." She kisses Will's cheek and opens the door. He bounds down the steps and out to his grandma's car. "Hello Will," Maggie says as she opens her car door. "Let me help you get in." She opens the back door and lifts William into his car seat. "All set?" She asks after buckling him in.

"Yup," Will replies.

Maggie shuts the door and gets in behind the steering wheel. She starts the car and off they go. Several minutes pass without William having uttered a word, which is a bit unusual when he's headed for church school. "Are you looking foreword to seeing Petie again?"

"Um hum," Will answers as he continues to stare out the window.

A few more minutes pass when Will finally speaks up, "Gumma?"

"Yes, William," Maggie says glancing back at her grandson in the rearview mirror.

"Ah don' wanna go."

Maggie is puzzled by his reply. "Why William, you love to play with the kids."

"Ah don' yike dis."

Maggie can't figure out his cryptic answer. "What don't you like, honey?"

"Dis woad."

It dawns on Maggie; they are a few blocks from the site of the accident. Calmly she says, "Then let's go another way to church school." She turns at the next light and drives several blocks over then turns back in the direction of the church. William becomes his old, well almost three years old, self once again.

Maggie pulls into the church parking lot and soon they are walking into the basement playroom of the Catholic Church. The other volunteers all rush over to Maggie to greet her return.

"Come here William, let me take your coat off you." Scully has him dressed in a fuzzy blue jacket, but left his right arm out of the sleeve because his bulky cast wouldn't fit. Maggie unties his hood and unzips his coat. Will is dressed in a pair of dark blue corduroy bibs with a red flannel shirt underneath. Scully has rolled up his right sleeve so he can move freely without catching it on the cast.

All the kids gather around and stare at Will's cast. Maggie turns to them, "Boys and girls, William has been in an accident and his arm was broken." The kids all gasp and murmur. "So be careful not to hurt his arm."

Will pats Maggie's leg, "What is it honey?"

"Ah can' take ma chews off."

"I'll help you." Maggie sets him on a table to remove his shoes. Normally he would take them to his assigned cubbyhole but he can't carry them both at once so Maggie puts them away for him.

Will stands there, a bit befuddled, until he spots his best friend, Petie. The two boys meet in the middle of the activities mat and grin at one another. "Wha' happened?" Will's brown haired friend asks.

"A big twuck cwash ma gumma's caw but she gots a new one."

"Wuz that on your arm?" Petie asks as the other kids begin to inspect Will's cast.

"Is a cas', day put it on ma ahm 'cause da twuck boked it," Will explains.

"Did ya get keewed?" Joey, the three year old asks.

"Nope," Will replies, "but it hewt, an' da fiore man cut da woof off gumma's caw!"

"Why day do dat?" Joey asks all wide-eyed.

"Da doows was yocked." William reasons.

"Wow!" The assembled crowd remarks.

"My uncle was in a wreck," Brian, the five-year-old sage of the group tells everyone. "He can't move; all he does is sleep. My mom says he likes vegetables."

The kids all stare at the tall, dark haired boy.

"I like peas," Joey says.

"Me too," Petie adds.

One of the volunteers appears, "Okay boys and girls, its time for lunch."

Everyone scurries off the mat to line up at the door and walk to the kitchenette down the hall. Petie takes William by the left hand, "Come on William, I'll help you." Down the hall the two friends walk hand in hand.

The children all sit four to a table while the women bring them half a grilled cheese sandwich, tater tots, and a peach half. Petie knows William detests crust, so being the friend that he is; he nibbles the crust off Will's sandwich for him. William is able to eat his potatoes without any help along with his de-crusted sandwich.

Scully has been cleaning the upstairs bathrooms and changing the bed sheets while Katherine follows along behind her, crawling from room to room. The phone rings so she scoops up the baby to answer it in her bedroom. She plops Katherine down amongst the pillows and picks up the phone. "Hello Mulder's"

"Hello Mulder's, this is Mulder."

"Very funny," Scully laughs as she sits down on the edge of the bed.

"How's it going Scully?"


"Did Will get off to the baby sitting program okay?"

"Yes, and you know its 'church school' not baby sitting," Scully laughs.

"Oh right, Will thinks he's going to school."

"He has learned a lot there," Scully says as she toys with the phone cord.

"That might be, but Scully you have him so advanced that he will probably start school in the third grade."

Scully blushes, "I'm just trying to give him a head start in life."

"And you're doing a terrific job."

"Thank you." Scully can tell Mulder really means what he has just said.

"So when are you going to teach Katherine how to say daddy?"

Scully glances over her shoulder at her daughter, who is currently tossing the throw pillows off the bed. "She's going to be a tough one."

"Why do you say that?"

"Because she has that Mulder stubborn streak in her."

"Mine! As I recall you was the stubborn one in our partnership."

"I guess you might be right."

Mulder is puzzled for a moment, "You're giving in?"

"That's right," Scully laughs, "I'm not the stubborn one."

Mulder chuckles, "I owe you one."

"Maybe you can pay me back later tonight," Scully purrs.

Scully can tell Mulder is grinning from ear to ear. "You can count on it."

There is a moment of silence. "Scully, I thought you would have been apprehensive about sending William back to the program."

"Well," Scully says, cradling the phone against her shoulder as she takes a thread away from Katherine before she can get it in her mouth. "I can't say I'm not a little bit anxious but I know he has to grow up."

"I'm glad to hear that, you've come along way Scully."

"So have you Mulder."

There is a pause then Mulder says, "Look, I'll be home after three."

"I'll be here."

"I know you will be," Mulder says before disconnecting.

Scully looks over to see that Katherine has fallen asleep amid the pile of pillows. She gently picks her daughter up and carries her to her own bed.

William has finished his lunch with some help from Maggie; she cut his peach into tiny pieces and fed it to him, while Petie opened his carton of milk for him.

After twenty minutes of free time, each child is either taken to the restroom or changed if needed then its naptime. Will and Petie always sleep next to one another but Will can't drag out his foam filled sleeping pad so Petie helps him. They lie down and pull their blankets up then the lights are dimmed and the woman make sure everyone settles down.

Petie hears a muffled sound and sets up on one arm then gets up and walks over to Maggie, who is sitting in a rocker crocheting. He taps her lightly on the arm. "What is it Petie?" Maggie asks.

"Will is cryin'."

Maggie looks over but can't see her grandson in the darkened room. She quickly moves over to William's side and stoops down, hearing the soft sobs coming from him, she brushes back his hair and he rolls over. "What is it, William?" She softly asks.

"Ma ahm hewts," Will sobs.

Maggie gently lifts the little boy up off the mat. "I'm sorry Will, I forgot to give you your medicine."

By now several other children are sitting up, a couple of the women move in to settle them down.

Maggie carries Will into the kitchenette and sets him on the counter near the sink. "Helen, can you watch Will while I get his medicine?"

"Sure I can." Helen smiles at William as she wipes her hands off on a dishtowel. "Does your arm hurt, honey?"

Will sticks out his bottom lip and nods. Helen fills a glass with tap water and offers it to him. He readily accepts it.

Maggie returns with the pink, pain reliever and gives William an eyedropper full then offers him another drink. "Thank you, Helen," Maggie says as she picks up her grandson.

"Anytime," Helen replies as she returns to wiping down the countertops.

Will lays his head on his grandmother's shoulder and softly coughs. "William, next time you're hurting, you come and tell me. I'm sorry I forgot to give you your medicine. Do you need to potty before you take your nap?" She asks.

"No," Will softly answers.

Maggie returns to the dark room and grabs a blanket off the shelf then sits down in one of the rocking chairs. She covers William with the blanket then begins to rock him. He grows limber in her arms as the medicine kicks in and he begins to fall asleep. She looks up to see Petie dragging his mat and blanket toward her. He doesn't say a word but lays his mat down next to the rocker then lies down on it and covers up. Soon both boys are asleep. Maggie asks another volunteer to bring William's mat over so she can lay him down next to his friend. The two boys spend the next hour sleeping next to one another on the floor.

Scully has finally gotten Katherine to take her nap, so she begins to catch up with some of her work on the computer in the office. She has only been online for a few minutes when her chat pops up with a message from Mulder, she smiles and logs on.

'Hey Mulder, what's up?'

'Nothing much, I'm bored.'

'So you have decided to annoy me?' Scully loves baiting him.

'Among other things.'

'Care to expand on that thought?'

'Not really,' he answers.

'Scully, I was just thinking,'


'Who do you think our children look like, and you better not say the pizza man.'

Scully has to smile at that one.

'William is tall and lanky like you.'

'And Katherine is short and squat like you.'

'Mulder! I may be short but I am NOT squat,' Scully types.

'Yes, you are! You're just like that teapot in the song.'

'What teapot, in what song?'

'You know, the one. I'm a little teapot, short and squat.'

Scully has to laugh at his fractured version of the popular children's song.

'Mulder for you information it's, I'm a little teapot, short and STOUT, here is my handle, and here is my spout.'

'Are you sure?'

'Positive, besides what rhymes with squat?'

Scully realizes what Mulder is thinking and quickly types, 'Don't answer that!'

Mulder posts a full-tooth smiley face on the screen.

'Is there anything you REALLY wanted?' Scully types.

'No but I will be home soon and we can work on our rhyming tonight.'

Scully rolls her eyes and posts, 'Mulder, you are impossible.'

Mulder posts a smiley face with a blinking heart beside it and leaves the chat.

The children begin to wake up from their naps, while William is the last one up due to the affect the pain medication has on him. Once everyone is up and has gone to the restroom, they are broken up into little groups of four per table then are given crayons and large coloring books. William has a hard time coloring with the cast on his right arm so Maggie suggests he and Petie play with the farm set. The other boys slowly drift from the tables and soon all are playing with the toys.

"Okay, everyone gather 'round," Helen says. The children all form a circle around her as Maggie starts a CD. Helen leads the children in what could be called exercise but they are having so much fun that it really appears to be organized chaos.

It's growing close to three o'clock when the door opens and in walks a seven-year-old girl dressed in a green and black plaid school uniform and white blouse. Her long dark hair is pulled back into a ponytail and the scowl on her face can only mean one thing; Mary-Katherine has entered the building.

Scully has gotten Katherine up and put her in the highchair while she works on the soup she is preparing for supper. She hears the backdoor open and in walks Mulder. He plops his coat down on the counter and tries to sneak up on Scully while she is peeling carrots. "I know you're there Mulder," she smiles, never taking her eyes off the carrot she is holding.

Mulder deflates and back up to the counter that Scully is working on and jumps up to sit on it next to her. Scully keeps on peeling carrots as Mulder reaches over and steals one. He looks at Katherine and holds the carrot to his mouth and wiggles his eyebrows, impersonating Groucho Marx. The baby giggles and pats her tray. Scully swats him on the thigh, "Mulder move, I have work to do."

"Aw Scully," he says as he slides off the counter, "you're no fun!"

"Well, fun or not, if I don't finish this, we don't eat."

Mulder carefully lifts Katherine out of the highchair, mindful of the cast that covers her left ankle. "I'm taking my daughter upstairs and we're going to spend quality time together," he says as he kisses the baby's cheek.

Scully drops her hands to the counter and leans on them, "Mulder, why is it she's your 'daughter' when she's clean, fed, and in a good mood but she's 'my' daughter when she needs changed, is hungry, and cranky."

"Funny how that works," Mulder says as he heads for the stairs with Scully staring holes in his back.

After exercising, William and Petie along with Joey went off into the corner to continue playing with the farm animals and the big red barn.

Mary-Katherine has removed her coat and shoes and is now scanning the room to see whom she can annoy and intimidate. The girls all turn away from her and try to blend into the background so she won't pick on them. Brian and the rest of the boys also ignore her but then she spots Will and his cast.

William is sitting back on his heels, the strap to his bibs is falling off his shoulder but he is far too consumed with playing to notice it or Mary-Katherine.

She walks over to William and taps him on the shoulder. "What's that?" She questions, pointing to his cast.

Will looks up, startled; he wasn't expecting her to be standing there.

"Well stupid, what is it?" Mary-Katherine demands.

Will looks down at his cast. "Ah boke ma ahm."

"How did you do that?" She demands.

"A big twuck hit ma gumma's caw an' it boked ma ahm."

"I'll bet you cried like a little baby," Mary-Katherine teases Will.

William blinks up at her, "A yiddle, it hewt."

Mary-Katherine towers over him. "I'll bet you're lying, there never was a big truck. I'll bet you fell over your big feet and just hurt your arm a little."

"No!" Will vehemently disagrees. "A big twuck hit ma gumma's caw."

Joey pipes up, "It kewled his gumma!"

"It did not stupid!" Mary-Katherine points to Maggie, "She's standing right over there."

"But she gots hewt too." Will offers.

Mary-Katherine stares at Maggie, "She doesn't look hurt to me."

"She hewt hew head," William says looking around Mary-Katherine and wishing his grandmother would come over.

Mary-Katherine turns around and kicks the farm animals that the boys had been playing with. "I don't believe you. I think you're a liar, William Mulder!"

"No Ah not!" Will says trying to defend himself.

Brian has been lingering on the fringe, taking in the drama that's been unfolding. He walks up to Mary-Katherine, being the only child there that is anywhere near her size and says, "Leave him alone, he's hurt."

"You mind your own business, Brian!" Mary-Katherine angerly snaps.

The scene is rapidly escalating out of control.

"Who's gonna make me!" Brian yells back.

"I am," Mary-Katherine says then pushes Brian down.

What happens next is still not clear but Will swings his cast at Mary-Katherine and takes her legs out from under her and then exclaims, "Yeave him 'lone, you dumb ass!"

William's final words reverberate throughout the church basement.

Maggie turns at the sound of the swearword and sees William and Mary-Katherine fighting like two alley cats. She races over, along with two other women, to break up the fight as all the other children cheer on William.

Maggie peels William off the larger child while Helen takes Mary-Katherine and the third woman deals with the other children.

Will has tears in his eyes and begins to cry while trying to regain his breath. "Ah wan' ma mom! Ma ahm hewts."

Maggie looks down to see a crack in the cast and says, "Oh William, you've broken your cast."

Will sniffles back the tears and looks down at his arm. He flexes his fingers and each time he does the cast separates a little more. Maggie holds the two pieces together and calls Brian over. "Brian, go tell Mrs. Blue that I need the duct tape."

"Okay!" Brian excitedly replies then runs off to find Mrs. Blue.

Maggie cradles William to her, "Don't cry honey, it's going to be okay." Will chews on the fingers of his left hand as he usually does when he's feeling insecure.

Helen shows up with the tape. "That little brat! I'm calling her mother," she huffs out as she tears off a piece of tape.

Maggie holds out the cast so Helen can tape the break in it. "Let's sort this out before we do anything," she says.

Once the cast is secured, Maggie stands up and carries William to his cubbyhole to retrieve his shoes and jacket. "Helen," Maggie softly says, "can you call my daughter and tell her I'm heading to DC General with William." She grabs her own coat and turns back just before she leaves the room, "And Helen, just tell her there was a mishap and William's cast came apart."

Helen nods but Maggie can tell Mary-Katherine won't be getting off easy this time, if Helen has anything to say about it.

Maggie pauses in the hallway and dresses William's feet and wraps his coat around him while Petie lingers nearby. Maggie picks William up and pats Petie on the shoulder, "He's going to be just fine Petie, don't worry." The little boy nods and wipes fat tears away from his face.

Scully has just put a large pot of soup on the stove when the phone suddenly rings, "I'll get it," she yells.


"Yes, this is she."

"Oh my, how did that happen?" Scully says as she drops to a nearby stool.

"I'll get my husband and we'll be there as soon as we can, and thank you for calling."

Scully runs to the bottom of the stairs and yells, "Mulder, come quick!"

Maggie carries William into the nearly empty ER and races up to the nearest nurse. "Can you help me, my grandson was in an automobile accident ten days ago and broke his arm."

"And you're just now bringing him in?" The nurse says crossing her arms and looking down her nose at Maggie.

"No," Maggie snaps, "he broke the cast that was on his arm."

The nurse wilts under the ex-navy wife's glare. "Bring him right through here," she says as she leads them through two large doors. "Room three," she says motioning left.

"Scully, did Mrs. Blue say anything else?" Mulder asks as he maneuvers the Expedition through the heavy traffic.

Scully glances back at Katherine; who is busy chewing on her shoe. "I've told you everything she told me, word for word."

"So there was no indication of what might have happened?"

Scully just glares at her partner.

Maggie is trying to calm down William while they check out his cast. He mumbles something that Maggie can't make out. She moves in a little closer to listen to him then looks up at the nurse and smiles, "He wants to know if you're going to cut off his shirt?"

"No," the nurse assures Will, "we're not going to cut your shirt off today."

A portable X-ray machine is brought in and soon several pictures have been taken. Maggie is stroking William's hair and holding his left hand when Scully and Mulder walk in.

Scully hovers over her mother, looking down at her son. "How is he?" She softly asks.

Will looks up at his mother and beings to cry. Maggie moves aside to let Scully stand next to him. She leans over and kisses his forehead. "It's okay sweetie, mom and dad are here."

"Ah boke my cas'," Will sobs.

"I can see that," Scully softly replies.

Mulder moves around to the other side of the gurney, holding Katherine in his arms, he leans down and says, "Hey buddy, what happened?"

Will cries even harder, "Ah had a figh'."

Mulder looks up at Scully just as she looks up at him, neither parent knowing what to make of William's revelation.

Maggie steps in to take Katherine from Mulder and says, "It was nothing, really."

"Then how did William's cast get broken?" Scully demands.

Mulder reaches out to take her arm and frowns as he shakes his head slightly.

Scully returns to caring for her son. Mulder steps around Maggie and Katherine to stand next to Scully. He gently rubs her back and can feel her starting to calm down.

A doctor comes in carrying the X-rays that were taken earlier. Maggie turns toward him, "Dr. Schuler, this is my daughter Dana and her husband Fox, they are William's parents.

Dr. Schuler shakes both Mulder and Scully's hands. "Your son certainly did a number on his cast, but the break hasn't shifted and it's healing fast. We'll get him into another cast and he can go home."

"Thank you doctor," Mulder says as Scully returns to tending to Will.

"I'm sending him to Orthopedics in a few minutes." The doctor pats William's leg and leaves the room.

Will has finally calmed down when the nurse comes for him. "You remember the last time you were here William and we put this pretty blue cast on your arm?"

William nods his head.

"We're going to put another one on and you can pick out the color, only this time when we're all done you get to go home," she smiles.

They start to wheel William out but he begins to bawl, "Ah wan' ma mom!"

"Can I go with him," Scully asks.

Mulder speaks up, "She's a medical doctor."

"Then I'm sure we can get you in," the nurse replies.

Mulder nods to Scully, "You go with him and mom and I will wait for you in the family room."

"Okay," Scully says as she walks beside the gurney.

One hour later Mulder and Scully are heading home with Maggie following them in her car.

It's well after 6 PM when they arrive home. Will has fallen asleep from the medication and the events of the day. Mulder gently unbuckles his son from his car seat and carries him into the house to the old leather couch in the office. Will is still sleeping when Scully begins to remove his clothes. Maggie peeks around the office door, "Honey, I'm going to start some dinner."

"Thanks mom, that would be great," Scully says never looking up from William.

Mulder has taken Katherine's coat and hat off her, then sets her in the highchair so Maggie can watch her while he puts his SUV in the garage.

Scully comes in the kitchen, "I put two dining chairs in front of the couch so he can't roll off." She puts a bib on Katherine and gives the hungry baby a cracker to tide her over until dinner is ready. Maggie is frying up a pan of hamburger and has a pot on to boil for spaghetti. Scully grabs a jar of pasta sauce from the pantry and sets it on the counter then puts one hand on her hip and one of the counter, facing her mother she says, "Now, do you want to tell me what happened?"

Maggie turns on the oven as Mulder walks in. "There's not much to tell."

"You could start by telling me how William got into a fight and broke his cast."

Mulder sits down on the stool next to his daughter and listens.

"There is this older girl there who likes to pick on the younger kids. She comes from the parochial school down the street every night after school."

"Mary-Katherine?" Mulder questions.

"That's right, Maggie says a bit surprised. "How did you know?"

Mulder crosses his arms over his chest, "Will has mentioned her a time or two. He says she's mean."

"That's putting it mildly," Maggie says as she drains the grease from the hamburger.

"How old is this girl?" Scully huffs.

"Seven," Mulder and Maggie both answer.

"Seven!" Scully exclaims, "She is almost five years older than Will! It's no wonder she was able to break his cast."

Maggie turns to face her daughter, "Dana, she was picking on another child when William struck her from behind with his cast causing her to fall then a fight broke out, or so I've been told. The facts are still a little fuzzy."

Scully looks shocked and takes a seat next to Mulder; "William attacked another child with his cast, and hit her hard enough to break it? I don't know what to say."

Mulder looks over at Scully, "That's not like Will, Scully. There has to be some extenuating circumstances."

Maggie stirs the pot of boiling pasta then begins to slice a loaf of Italian bread. "I was hoping to talk to William tonight and get his side of the story."

"What must that poor girl look like if William broke his cast on her legs?" Scully frets.

Mulder stands up as Scully gets off the stool; she turns to let him hold her. "Scully, there has to be more to this story than we know. William could not have swung his cast with enough velocity to crack it on a cement floor let alone a child's legs."

Suddenly the phone rings. "I'll get that," Maggie offers and grabs the phone then steps into the hallway.

"We'll have to get him into therapy for his temper," Scully says.

Mulder laughs and takes her by the shoulders, "Scully, you're always the one who needed more proof. Let's do some investigating then we'll decide what to do, okay?"

Scully nods her head in agreement and walks to the stove to take the pasta off but Mulder stops her and carries the heavy pot to the sink to drain it. Scully pops the garlic bread her mom has prepared into the oven to brown.

Maggie comes back into the kitchen and hangs up the phone while a smile begins to cover her face. "That was Helen calling to check on William. And before you go blaming William, you might want to hear the whole story." She now has Mulder and Scully's full attention.

Mulder turns around to lean against the sink while Scully looks up from the bread browning in the oven.

Maggie takes a seat next to Katherine and begins, "It seems Mary-Katherine was picking on William, calling him a liar and a baby."

Scully looks at her mother, bristling at this revelation.

"So Brian took William's part and Mary-Katherine pushed him down. William was sitting behind her and he brought his cast up, and yes, he did push her legs out from under her. She then turned around and began to hit William."

Scully looks up from the oven with wide eyes as she brings her hand to her mouth in shock. Mulder crosses his arms and is doing his best to hold back his anger, but he's having a hard time controlling it."

"Some how William got the advantage and ended up on top of Mary-Katherine but not before she had slammed William's arm against the wooden floor breaking his cast."

Scully looks over at Mulder as he clenches and unclenches his jaw.

"That's where I came in," Maggie says as she places the pasta in a large bowl and pours the pan of sauce over it. "Dana, better get the bread out of the oven before it burns."

Scully realizes what her mom has just said and turns around to pull the slightly scorched bread out of the oven.

"Anyway," Maggie says as she sets the bowl of spaghetti on the counter, "like I said, I got there when William was sitting on top of Mary-Katherine. I pulled him off of her and that's when I noticed the crack in his cast."

Scully sucks in her cheeks and frowns; "Well he's not going back there with that little she-devil stalking the children."

Maggie puts the bread in a basket and covers it with a cloth to keep it warm. "That won't be a problem, Dana. Helen said Mary-Katherine has been dismissed from the program permanently and the school was contacted. It appears that they have had problems with her too so the only way they will allow Mary-Katherine to return is to start anger management classes."

"I should hope so!" Scully exclaims as she puts some spaghetti out to cool for Katherine.

"And William has been suspended for one week," Maggie slips in.

Scully looks up in amazement, "Why? He didn't start it, he was defending another child from that, that bully!"

Mulder smiles at his worked up partner.

Maggie begins to smile and finally laughs, "Dana, it isn't for what he did, it's for what he said."

"What he said?" Scully frowns.

Maggie laughs, "It seems that at some point during the fight William called Mary-Katherine a..." Maggie tries to regain her composure but fails miserably. "He called her a dumbass!" She blurts out.

Scully looks directly at Mulder, knowing full well where William got the expression. "Mulder!"

Mulder puts both hands up as if surrendering, but he too is over come by laugher.

"This is serious!" Scully fumes.

"You gotta admit Scully, it is funny and he won't be needing therapy." Mulder is over come with fits of laugher as is Maggie.

A noise is heard from one of the other rooms. Everyone grows quiet to listen. "Mom. Come git me!" William is awake.

"Scully, I think you're being paged," Mulder smiles.

Scully just stares at her partner as she leaves the room.

Mulder leans back against the counter with his arms crossed and a large grin on his face, "Do you think she's pissed?"

Maggie sits down next to Katherine, "No, I think she's a little confused right now."

Scully comes back in carrying William on her hip. He rubs the back of his head and yawns, then smiles at everyone. "Look who decided to join us for dinner," Scully says smiling at her son.

Mulder puts out his hands, "Come here buddy and let me see your new cast."

Scully gives William to Mulder and sits down on the other side of Katherine. Mulder lifts Will's cast and examines it, "Ya know Will, I think I like this one even better.

"Is geen," Will tells his father.

"It certainly is, I think they call this color lime green."

"Ah hun-gee da-dee," Will informs Mulder.

"Sorry buddy, let me give you some spaghetti," Mulder says as he cuts up the pasta in William's bowl and offers his a spoonful. Will greedily accepts it.

The phone rings and Scully gets up, "I wonder who that could be?"

She picks the phone up, "Mulder's"

She frowns, "Who?" Then she smiles, "Oh hi Petie."

Will's head snaps around at the mention of his friend's name.

"Let me get him," Scully smiles as she walks over to her son. "William, it's for you. It's Petie."

Mulder takes the receiver and holds it up to William's ear as Katherine looks on.

"Hi," William says unsure of what to do. He listens intently then says, "Ah wen' to da hospedal an gots a new cas' an Pee-ie know what, is geen!" William looks up at his father, "What kind da-dee?"

"Lime green," Mulder smiles at his son.

"Yime geen," William tells his friend. "An' you can dwawl on it Pee-ie."

Will listens to what Petie is saying, his eyes grow wide and his mouth hangs open then he looks at Maggie, "Gumma, Pee-ie say Mawy-Kat-run can' come no mo!"

"I know," Maggie tells her grandson.

"Ma gumma knows," Will tells Petie.

He listens some more then says, "Ah don' yike hew eever." Then Will says, "Ah be okay Pee-ie."

Mulder and Scully both look at their son, glad to see he has a good friend. Will listens for a few more seconds and then says, "Bye Pee-ie." He looks up in wonderment, "Pee-ie cawd me!"

"I heard that," Mulder laughs as William holds his mouth open, waiting to be fed again.

It's late, Maggie has gone home and Will and Katherine have been in bed for several hours. Scully comes out of the bathroom to find Mulder already in bed reading the newspaper. She rubs lotion on her hands and arms. "How are we going to tell Will that he can't go to church school for awhile?" He says putting down the paper and looking at Scully.

"We're not going to," Scully says as she crawls into bed.

"Scully, he's going to want to go and when he finds out he can't, it's not going to be pretty."

Scully snuggles down into the bed. "I've taken care of it. I called Petie's mom, Carolyn, earlier this evening and asked her if Petie could spend Tuesday and Thursday here with William. She was delighted to get Petie out of the program for a few days. She has her hands full dealing with Petie's older sister."

"She's ill, isn't she?" Mulder comments.

"She's autistic and Carolyn tries to spend as much time with her as she can. If Petie likes it here I wouldn't mind having him over more often."

Mulder drops the paper and turns out the lights. "He's so good to William. I'm glad Will has a friend like him."

Scully yawns, "Carolyn also told me that Mary-Katherine is a holy terror and has been suspended from two other schools."

Mulder snuggles up to Scully, "I guess I would prefer a potty mouth to a holy terror."

Scully snuggles up to her partner and laughs, "Me too."

The room grows quiet and Scully softly hears, "Scully's a little teapot, short and squat. Here is her handle here is her..."


~22 Daniel ~

"Dammit all!" Dana Scully yells at her partner as they enter their basement office. She slams the file that she carries down on her desk. Her blue eyes flash a fiery stare at her partner.

"Scully, don't get mad at me. I only reported what I saw."

"That's just it Mulder, you didn't see it!" Scully fumes as she puts one palm down on her desk and one clenched fist on her hip.

"I read your report, I assumed it was accurate," Mulder barks back.

Now Scully is beyond mad, she is seething. "Just what are you inferring, Agent Mulder?" She sticks out her chin and doesn't move a muscle.

"Scully, you reported what you saw in that movie theater in Ohio, or does that not ring a bell?" Now Mulder is getting agitated. "You know very well why I'm pissed Mulder, and this is not about my report," Scully says as she points her finger at her partner. "That was a classified mission you were on and you just de-classified it in front of a whole room full of agents in training!"

Mulder laughs, "Is that all! Scully that was eons ago."

"But it was still classified and now Skinner is going to have our asses, again!"

Mulder flops down in his chair with his elbows resting on the arms. He brings his fingers up to his lips and utters, "Scully, you worry too much."

Scully walks over and puts both hands on his desk and leans over and in a voice just barely above a whisper, coolly says, "Maybe I'm done worrying." She grabs her briefcase and empties it out on her desk and then grabs the framed photo of Mulder holding William and Katherine and places it in her briefcase.

Mulder watches her with a confused look on his face. "Scully, what are you doing?"

"I'm going home," she mumbles and reaches for her coat just as her cell rings. "Damn," she mutters.


"Oh hi mom," she says trying to calm down.

"He did?" She frowns. "I'm on my way." Scully sighs and folds up her phone.

"What's up?" Mulder asks.

"That was my mom," Scully says looking down at her phone. "She said Will got sick at church school. I need to pick him up."

Mulder sits up straight in his chair. "Do you think it's serious?"

Scully turns to face her partner. "I don't know," she wearily says as she leaves the office.

"Call me," Mulder says but the door has already closed.

Scully drives through the heavy rush hour traffic more concerned about William than her job, but her job has set her mood for the day.

She soon reaches the church and opens the door to the playroom to find Maggie rocking her sick son. He spots her and sits up, sticking out his bottom lip he says, "Ah fowd up."

Scully stoops down next to him and brushes back his hair. "That's what grandma told me. Do you feel bad?"

"Yup, ma tummy hewts."

Maggie removes the blanket she has wrapped around him. "All the other children have had some kind of flu bug but William never caught it, until now."

Scully takes her son from her mom. "Come on William, I'll take you home." She looks over at her mom, "Can you get Katherine for me?"

"Oh honey, we just got the babies down for their naps, Helen is in with them now. Why don't you leave Katherine here and I'll bring her home with me."

"Well, if you'll put William's coat on him for me then I'll go check on Katherine."

Maggie takes Will while Scully finds the nursery. She slowly creeps in and spots the children all soundly sleeping.

"Hello Dana," Helen whispers from her rocking chair.

Scully approaches the middle crib where her daughter is sleeping. "I'm here to pick up William so I thought I'd check in on Katherine." She leans over and runs her fingers over the baby's soft knuckles then lowers the rail to kiss her.

Helen walks up to stand next to Scully. "She's such a sweet child, never gives us any trouble."

"Unlike Will," Scully smiles.

"Dana, none of that fight was his fault. I'm just glad that awful child is gone."

"We did have a talk with him about his language."

Helen laughs, "Believe me Dana, I have heard a lot worse."

Scully smiles. "I need to get William home." She raises the rail and reaches through the bars to tuck in her daughter.

Soon Scully and William are headed home. She pulls into the driveway and stops in front of the house. She unbuckles Will and carries him into the house, setting him down she removes her coat and his then picks him up. "Come on William, let's get you upstairs and into some pajamas." Scully makes it to the head of the stairs when Will starts to retch. "Oh honey," she exclaims as she heads for her bathroom and nearly makes it. What hadn't come up at the church comes up now. Scully and William are both soaked. He begins to cry, Scully sets him on the counter and gives him a paper cup filled with water. "Here sweetie, take a drink but don't swallow it, swish it around in your mouth and spit it out."

"Yike da-dee does?" Will asks as he shivers.

"Yeah, like daddy does," Scully smiles at her son.

Will does the best he can then Scully strips him down to his pull-ups. She takes him into her room and sets him on her bed then pulls the throw from the end of the bed and wraps it around him. "Honey, I need to change my clothes then I'll put your pajamas on you. I'll be back in a minute."

Will nods and curls up on his parent's bed. Scully brings in the wastebasket from the bathroom just in case. She flies around grabbing the clothes she needs and removes her jacket and heels then steps into the bathroom to change, wishing she could take the time to grab a shower but knowing she has to get back to her son. She emerges dressed in an old pink sweatshirt and ratty jeans; she slips her feet into her flat white sneakers and puts the soiled suit and silk blouse in the bag bound for the dry cleaners.

She picks William up, still wrapped in the throw, and carries him across the hallway to his room. Once there she sets him on his bed and begins to dig out his pajamas, she helps him into them only to discover he has to potty.

Finally they head back downstairs to the family room. Scully can instinctively tell by how quiet and lethargic her son is that he doesn't feel well. She leaves him on the couch so she can retrieve a pillow, sheet, and blankets from the hall closet. Soon William is lying in a warm little nest his mother has made for him. Scully comes in with a tray and sets it on the coffee table then sits down next to him. "William, I'm going to take your temperature, okay?"

Will merely nods as Scully puts the thermometer in his ear until it beeps. She looks at it and softly says, "You do have a little fever." She strokes his hair as she asks him, "Honey, can you turn over on your back for me?"

"Will rolls from his side onto his back. Scully pulls the blankets away and lifts her son's shirt. "Can you tell me if this hurts?" She probes Will's lower right side, then his left, and his stomach, but he never complains. She picks up a small flashlight. "Now sweetie, open your mouth really wide and stick out your tongue." Will does as he is asked and Scully looks down his throat then places her hand on his neck and begins to feel his lymph nodes. "Does this hurt?"

Will shakes his head, no."

"Okay, you're doing fine," Scully says as she straightens his pajamas and pulls up the blankets. Will snuggles down into their warmth. "Are you cold baby?"

"Um hum," Will replies.

Scully starts to go to the kitchen. "Don' yeave me," Will softly pleads.

Scully comes back in, "I'll be right back, honey. I'm going to get you some medicine." She soon comes back with a bowl, a towel, and the bottle of fever reducer."

Will is given his medicine that Scully hopes he can keep down. The phone rings just as she is returning to the kitchen. "Hello Mulder's"

"Scully, its me. How is Will doing?"

"He seems to just have a bug that's been going around. I think I'll call Doctor Moss and see what he thinks."

Suddenly Will calls for Scully, she can hear him retching. She hastily says, "I've got to go," and hangs up.

"Coming Will!" Before she can get there he has covered his pajamas and the sheet. "Oh Will, honey," Scully sympathizes with her son. Will begins to bawl as she lifts him up and carries him to the armchair. She strips him of his pajama top. "Honey, let me get you cleaned up." She pulls off his bottoms and asks, "Do you want a drink?"

"No," William miserably replies.

Scully retrieves a warm washcloth and wipes Will's face and chest then pulls back the sheet to blot the couch. "I'll get you some clean pajamas." She heads to the laundry room and grabs a clean set of pajamas, a bath towel, and another sheet. She quickly dresses him and wraps the blanket around him then sets him in an armchair so she can pull off the soiled sheet. Scully places the towel over the couch then puts the clean sheet on top of it. "Come on honey," she says as she lifts him up.

"Howd me," Will pleads.

Scully carries him into the office to the rocker-glider. She holds him tight and softly hums; soon he is fast asleep. She carries him back to the couch and tucks him in then lowers the lights.

Scully is sitting in a chair in the family room trying to find a few moments to catch her breath but is interrupted by the phone ringing once again.

"Hello Mulder's"

"Scully is everything okay?" Mulder asks, a bit confused and concerned.

"Yeah, Will was sick again."

"Oh I'm sorry to hear that; did you call his doctor?"

"No Mulder, I didn't have time yet, I was cleaning up puke," she cuttingly replies.

"Do you want me to call?" Mulder coldly asks.

Scully tilts her head and sucks in her cheeks, "I think I can manage, in fact I need to go so I can call Dr. Moss."

"Fine," Mulder snaps, "I'll call you later."

Scully isn't sure who hangs up first and at this point she doesn't care, she has other things on her mind right now. She phones the doctor and is told to pick up some medicine at his office but she has to be there before 5 PM and its 4:15 right now. Scully has to decide whether she should bundle up William and take him with her or hope her mom shows up soon. She hears a car door slam and races to the front door, throwing it open to find her mom carrying Katherine up the step and into the house.

"Hello dear how is William?"

Scully grabs her coat and car keys, "He's sleeping. Mom, Dr. Moss has some meds for him but I only have until five o'clock to pick them up."

"Go on, I'll watch the kids," her mom replies.

"Thanks, I won't be long," Scully says as she jumps in her Cherokee and takes off for the doctor's office.

Scully pulls into the parking lot of the medical building that houses William's pediatrician. She cuts the engine and races to the door then up one flight of stairs and turns left, passing various specialist offices as she walks to the end of the hall to Dr. Moss' office. She pulls open the door and walks up to the large counter where a woman with a familiar face slides the window open. "Hello Mary, Dr. Moss said he had something for William."

Mary smiles at Scully, "Let me check." She leaves Scully standing at the counter where she finally looks down and sees her pink sweatshirt is now stained and the knees are out of her jeans. She feels about four feet tall without her heels and her hair is in need of a quick comb through. She self-consciously tugged at her coat as the receptionist returns.

"Here you go Dana," Mary says as she hands Scully a box of foil-covered pills. "These are free samples of a new drug that has just been approved for stomach flu symptoms in kids. Dr. Moss has given out a lot of these this month."

"Thank you," Scully says looking down at the little box she holds in her hand.

"We've had good results with this Dana. I hope Will feels better soon," Mary smiles at her.

Scully nods and walks to the glass doors she came in. She slowly walks down the hallway, reading the back of the box when suddenly someone backs out of an office and she runs into him.

"Oof," Scully says as they collide and she drops the box then bends down to pick it up.

"Here, let me," the man offers.

"No that's..." Scully pauses then looks up, "Daniel?"

Mulder has made it home and finds Maggie's car in the driveway. He parks in the garage and enters the backdoor. Katherine is sitting in her highchair and squeals when she sees her father enter the room.

"Hello Fox, I thought I'd make dinner while Dana is out."

Mulder lifts his daughter out of the chair. "Where is she?"

"The doctor ask her to stop by and pick up some medicine for William," Maggie says as she arranges lettuce leaves on a split loaf of French bread.

"How's Will doing?" Mulder asks, trying to avoid Katherine's fingers that she insists on trying to put into his mouth.

"He's been asleep since I got here. He's just like Dana, when she would get sick it was best to just let her sleep it off."

"I'll go check on him," Mulder says carrying Katherine into the dark family room. He finds Will snuggled down amongst the blankets. Katherine starts to babble but Mulder covers her mouth with his hand. The baby thinks he is playing and bites him. "Son of a bit..." he starts to say shaking his hand.

Mulder carries Katherine into the kitchen. Maggie sees his furrowed brow and asks, "Is everything alright son? Is William okay?"

"He's still asleep," Mulder says looking down at his injured hand, "but Katherine bit me."

The baby pats Mulder's cheeks and babbles, he can't stay mad at her. "I think we should feed her before she turns into a cannibal."

Maggie offers her a few croutons from the salad she is about to make. Katherine greedily crunches them down.

Mulder takes off his trench coat and jacket and sits down next to his daughter.

"You're awfully quiet," Maggie comments as she finishes making the sandwich they'll all share for dinner.

Mulder smiles and rubs his eyes with the heels of his hands. "It's just been one of those days."

Maggie puts a large bowl on the island counter and sits across from Mulder. She tears up a head of lettuce and places it in the bowl. "Do you want to talk about it with someone other than Dana?" Maggie smiles. "Or is this about Dana?"

Mulder leans back against the stool and lets a small smile cover his face, as if he's been caught. He toys with a crouton that has escaped Katherine's grasp. "Maggie, she's been a bear lately and I don't know what to do about it."

"And you're her target?" Maggie smiles.

"Yeah, most of the time. Don't get me wrong, she never takes it out on the kids but last week she had a lab tech near tears and he was ten years older than her and a foot taller," he grins.

"Have you talked to her?" Maggie asks, as she scatters sliced olives over the salad, offering one to Katherine. The baby gently takes it and starts to chew it but makes an awful face and spits it out. Maggie and Mulder both chuckle at her antics.

Mulder looks down at the crouton he has crushed with his thumb. "Have you ever tried to get Scully to open up when she doesn't want to?"

"I know exactly what you're saying, of all my children Dana was the secretive one. She holds her emotions deep within herself."

"But when one of the kids feels bad or had been hurt she doesn't exactly fall apart but she does get emotional."

"Of course she does Fox, they're her children. Having kids affects people more that any other single event in their lives, believe me I know."

"Been there, done that huh?" Mulder grins.

"Fox, Dana would never intentionally hurt you or your feelings, you must know that. Maybe since going back to work, she has fallen into her old habits. As I recall you and she used to have some rather intense discussions."

Mulder sighs and plays with the crouton crumbs. "Maggie, I don't expect Scully to ever be all warm and fuzzy. I never wanted that but I wish she could be the relaxed, smiling woman at work that she is at home."

"Fox, is it possible that Dana has had to maintain that tough as nails persona to be taken seriously at the Bureau for so long that she isn't even aware that she's still doing it?"

Mulder smiles. "Funny thing is that's what attracted me to her," he chuckles, "among other things." Mulder blushes and dusts the crumbs into his hand and walks to the sink to drop them in the disposal.

"I know William is nearly three, but remember Dana never thought she could have children so she didn't have the time to consider how her life would change. Listen, I know this is the age of equality but it's still harder on the woman to be a mom than it is on a man to be a dad. Plus she has returned to a job that she left several years ago, things change."

Mulder smiles and leans against the counter. "It's been an adjustment for me, I can't imagine how difficult it has been for Scully."

"All I'm saying is give her some time, but I would bring it to her attention if she is hurting your feelings at work." Maggie gets up from the counter to wash and dry her hands. "Fox, one thing you can be certain of Dana loves you very much."

"I know," Mulder says looking down at his feet as if they're the most interesting things he's ever seen.

Maggie pats his arm; "I'm going to check on William."

The tall, distinguished looking man stares at the moppet standing there then it dawns on him, "Dana?"

Scully falls back into that unsure, insecure student mode as she shoves back her hair and tugs on the soiled sweatshirt, trying to appear a little more presentable but failing miserably. "How are you Daniel?"

"I'm fine, I'm waiting on a colleague. We're flying to Colorado for a conference," Dr. Waterston says giving Scully the once over. "How are you, Dana?"

"I'm fine," Scully softly answers wishing she were anywhere but standing there.

"It's been, what, four years since our paths last crossed?"

Scully smiles, "Something like that."

"Do you work here?" Waterson asks motioning with a nod of his head toward the offices.

"Me? No, why do you ask?" Scully looks up at him, surprised by his question.

"I thought maybe you were part of the cleaning crew the way you're dressed," he laughs then takes the lapel of her wool coat between his fingers, "but not in such a fine garment."

Scully feels even smaller than she did when she placed her sneakers on her feet. "Look, I need to get going," she says trying to brush past Waterston.

He reaches out and takes her by the arm and starts to pull her into the dark office he has just emerged from. "Daniel, what do you think you're doing!" Scully resists but doesn't want to make a scene.

"Dana, we need to talk."

"We talked four years ago," Scully seethes jerking her arm out of his hand.

"And I want to continue that talk," he calmly says with a smile.

Scully bristles, she had more important things to do but does walk into the office.

Daniel sits on the edge of a desk in the darkened room and looks Scully over from head to toe. She realizes it's now or never and plants her weight on one rigid leg and crosses her arms over her chest and stares at Waterston.

He laughs and claps his hands together. "There's that spark, that attitude I miss. Dana, you're wonderful."

Scully frowns and takes one step toward her former mentor, lover and Svengeli. "Daniel get over it, you need to move on. I have."

"Have you?" Waterston smiles. "It would appear that you have taken a step backwards."

Scully sticks out her chin, "You have no idea all the steps I've taken forward," Scully snaps.

"Dana, look at yourself," Waterston says with a sweeping motion of his hand, "you're unkempt, you look tired, I don't see that self-assurance and what is that smell?" He wrinkles up his nose.

Scully starts to wilt under his criticism but pulls herself together, sticks out her chin and then starts in on him. "My self-assurance is as in tact as it ever was, what you saw from me all those years ago was fear. Fear that I would fail you, that I wouldn't measure up but not anymore!" She is nearly shouting now. "And the smell that offends you so is from my son getting sick on me!"

Waterston's registers surprise on his face.

"That's right, I have a three year old son and a year old daughter, whom I adore as much as I do their father. And before you ask, I married my FBI partner, Fox Mulder, a man who not only love me for just being me but who also respects me." Scully looks down at her feet and gathers steam as she looks back up at Waterston. "Daniel you were a wonderful instructor but you wanted someone you could mold in your own image. That wasn't me. Mulder and I are miles apart in our opinions at times but he respects me as I do him and I never have a reason to fear him, unlike you."

Waterston swallows and stares at the woman taking him to task.

"And as for your brilliance, I agree you are a great doctor but you have a stodgy mind while Mulder has always been seeking and asking. He's not happy to sit in a comfortable chair and count his money, and believe me he could buy and sell you but he isn't like that."

"Dana, I..."

Scully cuts him off, "Daniel, I've listened to you through all those years in med. school, now it's time you listen to me." She pauses and stares at him garnering her strength she plows ahead. "Yes, my clothing is a mess, my hair needs combed, and I haven't had my nails done in ages. But at night when my son crawls up on my lap and we read together, I'm the most beautiful woman in the world in his eyes and that's all that matters to me."

Daniel's smug grin begins to leave his face.

Scully smiles, "My son can read, add and subtract all before he turns three. You were a good teacher but I'm a better." Daniel doesn't say a word; this is not the hero-worshipping student he once possessed.

"I used to crave what little attention you showed me outside of bed, but I get all the attention I need from my daughter and what's more she needs me. You never really needed me, you just needed to be able to control me."

"Dana, I..."

Scully puts up her hand to stop him. "Before you make some dumb ass comment..."

Daniel chuckles and shakes his head.

"Yes, from time to time I swear and I know how that offends you but tough shit!" Scully puts both hands on her hips and paces back and forth in front of her former mentor. "What I was about to say is I'm still at the Bureau working with Mulder. The work we're doing now is a lot like yours only you save people one at a time while we're saving people by the thousands everyday."

Scully tucks a strand of hair behind her ear and stares out the window across the room. "I actually should be thanking you. The last time we spoke it opened my eyes and I went to my partner, no I ran to my partner. You finally made me realize what I had in the man and how much I loved him. You brought us together and for that I'm grateful."

She pauses and looks down at the little packet of pills she still clenches in her hand and smiles, "These are for my son, he's home with the flu." She rolls the box in her palm and softly says, "I hate it when my kids get sick. I need to go."

Scully walks to the door and opens it then pauses and looks back at Waterston, "Daniel, you're an old man stuck in the past, I suggest you seek counseling." With that she shuts the door, cinches up the belt to her coat and walks to the stairs with a smile on her face.

It's after six by the time Scully walks in the backdoor. The kitchen island is set for two but no one is in sight. She takes off her coat and tosses it on the counter then opens the box of pills and fills a glass from the tap. She head to the family room where she finds Mulder sitting amid the blankets on the couch, Will has his head on his fathers right thigh while Katherine has hers on his left. Both kids are sprawled out watching the Rug Rats.

Mulder looks up, "Oh hey Scully, I didn't hear you come in."

"Where's mom?"

"She went home about twenty minutes ago but she did fix dinner. I waited on you so we could eat together."

Scully realizes Mulder is nervous.

"Good, I'm glad."

Mulder looks relieved. "I was getting behind on my Rug Rats viewing so I thought I'd catch up. Tommy is my favorite," he grins.

"Yeah, mine too," Scully laughs.

She walks around the coffee table and stoops down beside Will. "How are you feeling, sweetie?"

"Bedder," Will mumbles, mesmerized by Chuckie.

"Your mom gave him some 7-Up, so far it has stayed down and we feed Katherine."

Scully looks over at her daughter. "Who got her ready for bed?"

"I did. I knew you would have your hands full dealing with William."

"Thanks," Scully says before walking into the kitchen and toeing off her shoes. Mulder walks up behind her and massages her neck and shoulders. "Um, that feels good," Scully purrs.

Mulder looks around at her; "Do you want to eat?"

"Yeah, I'm starved."

Mulder drops his hands and walks to the fridge while Scully peeks around the corner at the two little ones still under the spell of the Rug Rats.

Mulder brings out a large bowl of salad and a plate with two sandwiches on it. Scully puts a sandwich on each of their plates while Mulder tosses the salad. He fills two bowls and passes one to her. She sits down across from him. "This looks good, I was getting hungry."

"Me too," Mulder says around a bite of his sandwich.

"Then why didn't you eat?" Scully asks between bites of her salad.

"It's more fun eating with you," Mulder grins.

Scully picks out an olive and pops it into her mouth. "I don't see how, I've been such a bear lately."

Mulder plays it cool, "Oh really, I hadn't noticed."

Scully looks up at him as she stabs a lettuce leaf with her fork. "Mulder, I know when you're lying."

Mulder swallows, "Well, maybe you were, just a little."

"I ran into Daniel Waterston today," Scully nonchalantly says.

Mulder looks like he's seen a ghost but regains his composure. "Where did you see him and do you want me to shoot him?"

"No," Scully laughs, "I've taken care of him."

"You shot him?" Mulder questions, unsure that she won't say yes.

"No," Scully laughs and shakes her turned down head, "but I'm sure right now he wishes I had."

"Did you hurt him, Scully?" Please tell me you did."

"Mulder!" Scully laughs as she picks at her sandwich, enjoying the companionship she is sharing with Mulder.

Mulder takes a large bite of his salad. "Well, you going to tell me what happened."

"I told him he was going to listen to me this time."

"Did he?" Mulder asks eating his sandwich while both elbows are on the counter and he leans in not wanting to miss a word.

"He didn't utter a word," Scully smugly says. "I decided I wasn't intimidated or afraid of him anymore and once I did that I felt this rage building in me. I told him he had used me, never really cared for me and subjugated me."

"You didn't!" Now Mulder is grinning from ear to ear.

"I told him about Katherine and William and how wonderful they are."

Mulder smiles but remains quiet.

"I informed him that my job with you was important and that I loved it."

Mulder is eating this up.

"Then I thanked him for driving me into your arms," Scully blushes and looks down to toy with her salad.

Mulder walks around the counter. Scully looks up a bit surprised. He turns her stool around and wraps his arms around her pulling her off the stool. "Mulder," Scully giggles just before he kisses her. She wraps her arms around his neck and returns the kiss. They come up for air and Scully says, "I didn't get this response from Daniel."

"You had better not," Mulder looks down at her and laughs.

"I also told him he was a stodgy, old man who should seek counseling."

Mulder puts his forehead on her own, "I believe you said that."

"I probably shouldn't have but he never just talked to me, he would lecture."

"I don't do that, do I?"

"No, you don't and we might fight but it's a fair fight."

"It has to be, otherwise you'd kick my ass," Mulder grins down at her.

They both laugh and continue to hold each other when they hear soft footsteps approaching; it's William.

Mulder releases Scully and picks him up. "Hey buddy, I thought you were watching Rug Rats with your sister?"

"She's sweeping," Will says as he rubs the back of his head.

"She is!" Scully says acting surprised.

"So what are you doing up?" Mulder asks his son.

Will twists up his fingers and grins a weak smile, "Ah hun-gee."

Scully pats his arm and shakes her head, "Baby-bird, you're always hungry. How about some chicken noodle soup?"

"Ah wan' kackers," William adds.

"Well, we'll see," Scully says as she walks to the pantry.

Later that night after Will is fed and both kids are asleep Scully takes her long needed shower. Mulder is at the computer just finishing up his preparations for tomorrow's class when she comes in. He watches her take the framed photo she had brought from the office and places it back in her briefcase. Scully turns toward him, "Are you coming to bed?" Mulder shuts down the computer and taps his papers on the desk then puts them in a file. "All set." He walks over to Scully and wraps his arm around her shoulder. He flips off the lights and they walk out of the office.

"Mulder, I need to apologize for the way I've been treating you."

They start up the stairs. "Sometimes life seems to swirl around me and I have a hard time keeping up and I tend to take it out on you."

They walk up a few steps. "I'll try to not let things get to me but if I do, please remind me that it's not your fault."

They reach the top of the stairs. "I am sorry."

Mulder releases his partner and looks down at her. "Scully, don't you think you should apologize to that lab tech?"

Scully looks up at him. "Don't push your luck."

Mulder smiles as she walks into their bedroom.

~ 23 Teeth ~

The dentist office is crowded and Dr. Scott is running behind, off in the corner sitting beside a decorative palm tree is Dana Scully and her son William. They've been here nearly half an hour already. Scully looks at her watch and sighs, she has left Katherine with her mom so she can take Will to his first dental appointment.

She is growing uncomfortable sitting on the hard wooden bench while Will has been entertaining himself by playing with the bag of toys that she thought to bring along. He's crawling around in front of her playing with a toy tractor while dressed in blue jeans, a long sleeved, striped tee shirt, and red sneakers. He stands up and runs his tractor down the length of the bench while Scully reads a medical journal then he pats her leg, "Mom."

"What William?"

"Ah wanna go home," he says laying his head on her lap and turning on the Mulder charm.

Scully rubs his back and smiles; "It won't be long."

"But how wong is wong?" William questions.

Scully picks Will up and sets him on her lap. "The dentist needs to see your teeth."

Will bares his teeth. "You can yook at dem."

Scully laughs, "But I'm not a dentist."

Will pats Scully's cheeks and grins. "Ah yike you."

"I'm glad," Scully laughs trying to avoid his little hands, "I like you too."

Will runs his tongue around the side of his mouth and loops his arms around his mother's neck. Scully grabs him around the waist as he attempts to stand up on her lap. "Mom, Ah hun-gee!" He demands.

"You can't eat until after the dentist looks at your teeth. Why don't you go look at the fish in the aquarium," Scully suggests nodding toward the large tank.

"Okay," Will agrees and crawls off her lap and walks to the other side of the room. He barely comes up to the bottom of the tank that is sitting on a stand but he's still mesmerized by what he sees. He follows the antics of a large angelfish as it swims among the other smaller fish.

Scully joins him and stoops down next to him. "Those are pretty," she comments.

"Um hum," Will replies, too enthralled with the fish to respond. He points to the angelfish that is swimming near. "Ah yike dis one."

"He's very colorful," Scully says.

"He's big!" William exclaims. "Ah wanna take him home for da-dee."

Scully laughs, "They don't sell their fish and besides he's too big for your dads small tank."

"We can buy him a biggor one," Will grins.

"But these are special fish that live in salt water."

Will looks at his mother with the large, blue eyes he inherited from her and says, "We gots sawt and peppa too!"

Scully laughs. "I don't think we should put salt and pepper into our fish tank."

Will points to something hiding among the reeds, "Wuz dat mom?"

Scully stretches her neck to look back into the corner of the tank. "That's a seahorse."

Will looks at his mother and grins, "Ah yike howses."

Scully smile, "Well, this fish is called a seahorse but he's really not a horse."

Will seems to accept what his mother is telling him. He spots a skin diver bobbing up and down in the back of the tank and laughs, "Yook mom, da mans jumpin' awound."

"He sure is, he's a diver. He works under the water."

Will stares at the man for a few moments. "Ah don' yike dat, I wanna wide a howse."

Scully smiles at her son, "When you grow up you could be a policeman who rides a horse." She now has William's full attention. "Or you could work on a ranch, they ride horses too."

"Ah yike howses," Will smiles. He tires of watching the fish and begins to walk around the room. He crawls up on the cushioned couch and checks it out by laying down. Scully returns to her bench keeping Will in her line of sight. By now the room has thinned out and William is getting antsy, he walks over and tugs on his mother's hand and whines, "Ah wanna go home."

"I know William but it won't be much longer."

"But how wong is wong?" Will asks once again.

Scully looks at her watch and sighs. She picks up Will and sets him next to her then pulls a small book out of her bag. "Want me to read to you?" She asks her son.

"Okay," he readily agrees, anything to relieve the boredom.

Scully begins, "The... What is this word?" She asks Will.

"Dawg," Will replies.

"The dog ran across the yard to chase the...?"

"Cat," Will says, then a thought hits him, "Know wha!"

"What?" Scully asks.

"Bwian can wide a bike all by himsewf!" Will's eyes snap as he tells Scully the news.

"He can!" Scully says acting surprised.

"Yup." William sits beside his mother with his hands tucked between his legs and his shoulder's hunched. "Ah wanna a bike too."

Scully brushes back the hair from his forehead. "Well, you do have a birthday next month, I'll talk to dad about it."

"Kat-run wanz a bike too!" Will smiles at his mom.

"Your sister needs to learn how to walk first then she can ride a bike."

"'Kay," William agrees.

"William Mulder," a nurse calls out.

Scully and Will get off the bench, she gathers up her purse and coat along with William's toys.

The nurse looks down at the little boy standing before her; "You must be William?"

Will hides behind his mother's dress slacks. "Yes, this is William," Scully says. "He's a little shy today." Will peeks around at the nurse and grins.

"My name is Nancy," the nurse says. "Can I take your hand William?"

Will gently offers the nurse his hand and they walk back into the office with Scully following close behind.

"Dr. Scott," the nurse says to a man dressed in a white lab coat with his back to the group, "this is William Mulder, he's here to have his teeth checked."

The doctor turns around, "Well William, I understand that this is your first time. Don't be afraid, I'm just going to look in your mouth and see your pretty teeth."

Scully leans over to talk to her son. "Nancy will sit you in the chair so that Dr. Scott can look at your teeth, okay?"

Will nods his head yes, and Nancy lifts him up to sit in the chair. He doesn't seem to be afraid but Scully stands nearby just in case he should choose to bolt.

Dr. Scott sits down on the stool next to William and begins to raise the chair. Will looks around but seems to enjoy the ride.

"So William, can you tell me how old you are?" Dr. Scott asks. "Ah be fee," Will says holding up three fingers.

"His birthday is next month," Scully smiles.

"Wow, you're getting to be a big boy! I remember your father right after you were born, he went on and on about you," the doctor laughs. "I had a hard time keeping him silent long enough to clean his teeth."

Scully is moved by this revelation. She has never heard this story before.

"Ma da-dee gots big teef," Will offers.

"Your daddy has beautiful teeth," Dr. Scott says.

Suddenly Scully's cell phone rings. She excuses herself to answer it in the waiting room.

The doctor arranges his tools while William is looking around the room. "Ma da-dee say vampiors gots big teef and days shawp too!"

The doctor and his nurse both stare at William. "So dad watches movies on TV does he?" Dr. Scott smiles.

"Nope," Will replies, "he chased 'em."

The nurse nervously glances at her boss. "Dad's quite a story teller."

Will doesn't understands the doctor's comment so he just shrugs his shoulders. He is asked to open his mouth and the little boy complies. Dr. Scott looks at his top teeth and pulls back the mirror to wipe it off.

"Da-dee wikes to catch vampiors," Will says nonplused. The doctor looks at Will's bottom teeth as he says, "We don't have vampires here William."

"I know!" Will exclaims. "Day wiv in Te'tus."

This time the doctor looks at his nurse.

"Da-dee say mom hot for da vampior."

The doctor chuckles, "That's quite an imagination you've got there William."

"I know!" Will says as he pulls the chair arm up and down.

The doctor smiles at his young patient. "Now William, I'm going to put this piece of paper in your mouth and I want you to bite down on it and do this." Dr. Scott demonstrates how he wants Will to grind his teeth down on the paper.

Will opens his mouth and bites down on the paper. Dr. Scott has him open up again so he can move the paper to the other side of his mouth. Will once more is asked to bite down.

"Allie-ga'ors gots big teef too!" William tells Dr. Scott.

"Yes, they do."

"A allie-ga'or ate ma moms dawg."


"Ma mom's daw-gee gots eat by a allie-ga'or an' she cwied."

The nurse grows wide-eyed and looks from Will to the doctor.

"Did you say an alligator ate your dog?"

"Nope," Will says as the doctor sighs in relief.

"It ate ma mom's dawg, Ah don' have a daw-gee but Ah wan' one," William smiles and continues to play with the chair arm, "A dea man gabe it to hewr."

"A dead man gave your mother an alligator?" The doctor frowns.

"No!" William laughs. "Da dea man gabe hew a daw-gee."

Dr. Scott sits down on his stool trying to recover from what he's just heard.

"Doctor, are you going to check William's bite?" The nurse looks down at her boss trying to get his attention.

"What," the doctor says with a blank look on his face, "yes of course." He gets off his stool and hovers over his small patient. "Open up once more William."

Will does as he is asked and Dr. Scott checks out his bite pattern. "That's fine William."

Will plays with the paper bib that has been draped around his neck. "One time a dawg twied to bite ma da-dee. Dawgs gots big teef too!"

"A dog tried to bite your father?" The dentist asks as he checks William's gums.

"Yup," Will answers, "it had wooms in its eaw."

"The dog did?" The doctor frowns.

"Yup, but it gots bedder."

"How did a worm get into the dogs ear?"

"Mom pud it der so da daw-gee gots aw bedder!" Will says as he turns his hands palm up.

"I see," the doctor says shaking his head.

"Sakes gots big teef too! Some sakes bite ma da-dee an' it hewt. He gots sick and mom cwied."

"How on earth did your dad get bitten by snakes?" The doctor blinks and frowns.

"Dunno know, but he don' yike sakes no mo'."

Scully finally reappears. "Sorry that took so long, it was the Bureau." Scully can tell by the expression on Dr. Scott's face that something is up.

"Mulder it's me," Scully sighs into her cell phone as she drives toward their home with Will happily chewing on a free sucker.

"Hey Scully, how did the Will's visit to the dentist go?"

"Not so good I'm afraid."

"Why, what happened? Wouldn't Will open his mouth?"

"Oh he did that alright," Scully huffs. "Mulder, we need to stop discussing old cases in front of the kids."

There is a long pause at the other end of the phone then Mulder finally asks, "What did he say?"

~ 24 Hands ~

"Will, will you stop pestering your sister. You know she hates it when you kiss her and slobber all over her."

"But Ah yike hew, da-dee!"

"Well, can't you like her and not make her mad at the same time?"

"Nope," Will honestly admits.

Fox Mulder adjusts his rearview mirror so he can watch his children in the backseat of the SUV.

"When aw we gowna be der?" William whines.

"Soon son," Mulder assures him.

"But Ah don' wanna go," Will responds, kicking his left foot against his car seat and patting the side window.

"Will, we are not going to the mall for pleasure, we are on a mission that I hope will make your mother very happy."

"Wuz a mession, da-dee?" Will asks as he sticks his finger in his mouth then uses it to draw on the window.

Mulder looks at Will in the rearview mirror. "A mission is something you set out to do and cannot fail at. In this case our mission is to find mom a great Mother's Day gift."

"Wuz dat, da-dee?" Will questions as he continues to draw on the window; something that Katherine finds very tempting to try.

"Mother's Day is a day we give presents to our mother's, meaning your mom, for putting up with us all year long and for not kicking our butts."

Will laughs, he's at the age where he finds the word 'butt' funny. Now he and Katherine are both slobber painting the side windows on Mulder's SUV.

"So what kind of present do you think mom would like, Will?"

Will licks his finger once more and swipes it across the window. "Ah fink she wanz a big twuck so I can pay wiff it."

Mulder laughs and shakes his head; "Oh William, but what if she wants a teddy bear so Katherine can play with it?"

"No," Will demands, "Kat-run wikes twucks too!"

Mulder rounds a corner. "I was thinking more like getting her some clothes or perfume."

Will wrinkles his nose and continues to paint the window with spit.

Mulder looks back in the rearview mirror and finally notices the mess William and Katherine are making of the windows. "Hey! You two stop that."

Will smiles at his father as he licks his hand and slaps it against the window, leaving a tiny print. Katherine watches and does the same. "Will, don't so that!"

"Ah won' but Kat-run don' unner-sand an' she won' sop!"

Mulder is often amazed by Will's logic but this isn't one of those times although he won't disagree with his reasoning. "Well, you be the example for her and stop."

"Wuz a zample, da-dee?"

Mulder just shakes his head and mumbles, "Your mother doesn't deserve just a gift, she deserves a vacation."

They soon pull into the mall parking lot and unbuckle everyone. Mulder grabs the small bag Scully keeps in each vehicle for the kids. He shuts the doors and gets Katherine seated in her stroller. Once she is buckled in they take off toward the mall entrance, Mulder pushing Katherine and Will standing behind her hitching a ride.

Mulder stops just inside the mall entrance and takes all their coats and puts them in a rental locker then takes the key with him.

They start down the main hall with Mulder pushing Katherine as Will skips on ahead. He stops in front of a woman's clothing store. "Hey Will, come back here," he beckons to his son.

"Do you think mom would like this dress?" Mulder asks pointing to a flowered print sundress.

"Nope," Will shakes his head, "she wanz a twuck."

Mulder smiles down at Will just as Katherine licks her hand planting her palm print on the plate glass window. "I can see you're not going to be much help."

"No, no!" Mulder says taking out his handkerchief to wipe off his daughter's hand.

They continue to walk past men's clothing stores, candy shops, fabric stores and bookstores. Will comes running back, Da-dee Ah wanna get dis for mom." He leads Mulder to a pet shop and points to a cage in the window.

Mulder stoops down next to William and peers in, then shakes his head. "Will, I don't think your mother would appreciate a rat for Mother's Day."

"But she wikes 'em an' Ah can pay wiff it."

Mulder tousles his son's reddish-blonde hair. "I don't think so buddy, we better keep looking." They leave the pet store window but not before Katherine has christened it with one tiny palm print.

They come upon a toy store, which of course William insists they check out. They walk down the doll and stuffed toy aisle then pass through the remote controlled cars, next is craft supplies. Mulder looks over the various papers, paints, clays and plasters while William checks out the crayons. One large coloring book, a box of Crayola's, and a glitter wand later they leave the store.

Mulder looks over the rings in the window of the jewelry store but moves on when he finds Katherine has once more left her mark.

They come to the center of the mall with all its eateries. "Ah hun-gee!" Will announces.

"I figured you would be," his father replies.

Mulder steps in line at the soft pretzel stand. He orders two pretzels, mustard and cheese dipping sauces and three Cokes. Once he's paid, he maneuvers through the crowd with William following behind his pushing Katherine's stroller. He finds a table and pulls out one of the heavy chairs for William to crawl up on then he wheels Katherine near his own chair. Will has already grabbed his drink and taken a long swig from the straw. Mulder pours part of Katherine's drink into the sipper cup that Scully keeps tucked in the bag. He hands it to the baby and she too takes a drink but the carbonation tickles her nose and she coughs, causing Will to laugh along with Katherine.

"Drink up kids, its not often that you get soda pop."

Will puts his cup down. "Ah yike soa pop too!" He belches and all three of them laugh.

Mulder breaks up one of the cooled pretzels. Will grabs a large piece and chews off the end. "Wuz dat?" he asks around a mouthful of pretzel pointing to the cups of dipping sauces.

Mulder opens each one. "This is cheese," he says pushing it toward Will. "And this is mustard," he adds also pushing it toward his son.

Will tries the cheese and likes it, then he tries the mustard and if the look on his face is any indication, he loves it. Mulder holds back a laugh as Will carefully pushes the cheese toward him and keeps the mustard all to himself. Mulder puts a dab of cheese on a tiny piece of pretzel and offers it to Katherine. She gently takes the gooey morsel from her father and pops it into her mouth and immediately wants another piece. Mulder tears off a large chunk of pretzel for himself and dips it into the cheese sauce then takes a bite, an act that makes Katherine growl and put out her hand wanting more.

By now Will has eaten his half of the pretzel he shares with his sister. "Ah yike dis da-dee!" He tells Mulder. "Ah wan' mo!"

Mulder digs out his wallet and pulls out two dollars. "Do you want to go get another one?"

Will's face lights up, "Can Ah?"

"Here you go," Mulder says handing the bills to his son. "Go up to the girl," he points to the clerk, "and say, 'pretzel please'. She'll get a pretzel for you and then you hand her the money and say 'keep the change'."

"Okay!" Will says crawling off his chair. Mulder watches Will as he tentatively approaches the clerk.

Mulder offers Katherine another cheese-covered bite of pretzel and looks up to see Will almost up to the counter when he turns around, unsure that he wants to continue. A huge grin is on his face and his tongue is stuck out the right side of his mouth. Mulder makes a shooing motion with his hand and Will finally makes it to the front of the line. The clerk smiles and leans over the counter. Will says something to her and she nods. He looks back at his father while the clerk is getting him a pretzel. She places it on the counter and puts out her hand. William gently lies the two bills in her hand then says something. The clerk smiles and says "thank you," as she hands Will the pretzel he has just purchased. He gingerly carries it back to his father who helps him put it down on the table.

"Way to go Will!"

"I know," Will replies as he crawls up on his chair and begins to pull the pretzel apart. Katherine sees Will eating and begins to fuss she wants more. Mulder feeds the last of his own snack to her but when Will can't stuff anymore into his mouth he gives the last few bites to Katherine.

"Now remember Will, if mom asks you we did not eat greasy fries, we ate pretzels."

"Okay," Will agrees as he finishes off his Coke.

Mulder begins to clear up their table while Will pushes Katherine around in her stroller, he finishes his task just in time to see Katherine and her brother licking their hands and pressing them against a nearby jewelry store window as an obviously very perturbed clerk looks on. Mulder immediately pulls the kids away but not before the clerk comes out with a bottle of cleaner and a wad of paper towels. The look she gives him is nearly as scary as the one Scully gives him after she has tripped over his sneakers.

"Come on you two, and stop doing that!" Mulder says as they hastily move away from the window. Suddenly Mulder stops and stares off into space then mutters, "That's it!"

He quickly turns the stroller around and starts to walk down the same wing of the mall that they had just been down and enters the toy store once more.

Two days later...

Mulder and Scully enter the backdoor to their home. Will runs in after his mother while Mulder carries Katherine. Scully takes the baby and sits her on the counter to remove her hat and coat then yells, "William get back in here so I can get your coat off you." Will walks back in and unbuttons his dark blue, wool dress coat. Scully sets the baby in her playpen in the family room while Mulder helps Will out of his coat.

Scully returns to the family room after hanging up the coats and walks up to Mulder and loops her arms around his waist pulling him close and looking up at him. "Thank you Mulder for going to church with us and taking me out for a lovely Mother's Day lunch."

"You deserved that and a lot more," Mulder says kissing her forehead.

"Thanks," Scully replies smiling up at him.

"Ready for your gift?" Mulder asks her.

"There's more?" She says with one raised eyebrow.

Mulder releases her and scoops up Katherine. "You sit down," he tells her. "Come on Will," he says to his son who dutifully gets off the floor where he has been playing.

Scully sits alone wondering what she could be in for. She hears paper crinkling and lots of giggles just before Mulder reappears still carrying their daughter, but this time she has a bouquet in her hands that is nearly as large as she is. Katherine trusts them toward her mother while Mulder grins and blushes. "Scully, these are for you."

Scully takes the offered gift from her daughter; she is not only overwhelmed by the enormity of the flowers but also by the rarity. Among the roses and carnations are delicate orchids, tulips and out of season garden flowers. "Mulder, these are absolutely gorgeous!"

He sits down next to her, "Scully this is my favorite holiday." Scully pauses then gets the meaning behind his words and leans over to hug him. He softly says, "Scully, I think you're crushing your mums and our daughter."

Scully pulls back and chokes out a tear filled giggle.

Will bounces up and down. "Wha 'bout me, da-dee?"

Scully finally turns to notice her son standing there with something in his hands.

Mulder speaks up, "Scully, the other day the kids and I went shopping for you but nothing seemed appropriate until I saw something these two were doing.

Scully looks puzzled.

Mulder chuckles at Will's anticipation.

A grin covers Will's face as he thrusts the awkwardly wrapped package at his mother.

"What pretty paper!" Scully exclaims.

"Ah hepped da-de wap it!" William proudly tells Scully.

"I can see that," Scully says as she begins to tear away the paper. She finally gets all the paper off what appears to be a piece of irregularly shaped plaster that stumps her until she turns it over to reveal two small sets of hand prints, one slightly larger than the other, preserved in the plaster. The larger of the two sets of prints has the cryptic word 'Will' written above it in the plaster, undoubtedly the signature of the owner of the prints. The small set of prints is signed 'Katherine' but obviously by someone else.

Will stands tight against his mother and pulls her hand down so he can get a better look at the plaster cast. He puts one finger in his mouth, grins, and points to the larger set of handprints. "Dat's ma hand." He then places his hand over the imprint.

"I can see that," Scully says wiping away a tear.

"Ah wote ma name too," Will offers, "but Kat-run can' wite hew name so da-dee hepped hew."

Scully laughs as Mulder squeezes her around the shoulders.

"This is wonderful William," Scully softly says as she kisses her son.

"And thank you too Katherine," Scully says kissing her daughters cheek.

"And you Mulder," Scully gently cups his chin and pulls him closer to kiss. They are holding each other close when William blurts out, "An' we din' hab no geezy fwies!"

Scully and Mulder both look at their son and laugh.

~ 25 Cookies ~

"Mom, mom," William Mulder demands.

"What," Scully replies as she finishes typing a line on her computer.

"Ah wanna go ou'side an' pay."

Scully hears a rumble of thunder off in the distance; she leans over to rest her elbows on her knees so she will be at eye level with her son. "I'm sorry William, but it's raining outside."

"Ah can pu' on ma coa'," he hopefully says.

"If it stops raining then we'll see." Scully can see her son deflate before her eyes. She brushes the reddish-blonde hair away from his big, blue eyes. "Tell you what, Katherine is asleep and dads at work, why don't you and I bake some cookies."

Will's eyes light up, "An' can we ea' 'em too?"

"Yes we can, but we have to save some for dad and your sister."

"An' gumma," Will solemnly says.

"Yes, and grandma too."

Scully and William walk hand in hand to the kitchen. She turns on the oven, as Will watches from her side. "Wha' ya doin'?" Will questions.

"I'm getting the oven warm so we can bake our cookies. Come on lets go get our ingredients." Scully pulls the pantry door open and turns on the overhead light. Will stares at the assorted cans and boxes that line the shelves. She grabs a bag of chocolate chips off the top shelf and hands them to Will. "These are going to be your cookies so you can carry your own ingredients."

Will smiles as his mother hands him a bag of walnuts, a bag of brown sugar, a box of baking soda, and a jar of vanilla along with the chips. He beams at the responsibility that has been thrust upon him. He shuffles into the kitchen in his sock-clad feet as Scully follows him carrying jars filled with flour and sugar. She smiles as William grunts under his heavy burden then she takes each item from him and sets them on the island counter. They move over to the refrigerator where Scully hands him two sticks of butter. Will slides them onto the counter. He is next given two eggs one for each hand; he slowly carries them to the counter. "Hold it for a moment, William," Scully says as she puts a hand towel on the counter and takes the eggs from him placing them on the towel. She moves to the far cabinet with her little shadow right behind her. She hands him a large plastic bowl and a wooden spoon.

"Okay Will, all I need to get is the cookie sheets."

Will shoves the bowl onto the counter and slaps the spoon down.

Scully bends down to look in a base cabinet for her cookie sheets, as a little head appears looking in the same cabinet. She pulls out one long sheet of aluminum and hands it to William. He bangs into several cabinets and a chair before he gets his cookie sheet to the counter.

Scully grabs her son under the arms and sets him on a kitchen stool. He crawls up to sit on the counter while his feet rests on the stool. "Ah wan' make coo-kees," Will says as he tucks his hands between his legs and hunches his shoulders while a huge grin covers his face.

"Oops," Scully says. "We need to wash our hands first." She scoops up her son and carries him to the sink where she pours a little soap into both of their hands then she scrubs her own while Will mimics her every move. She rinses, he rinses, she pats her hands dry, and he pats his hands dry, then she carries him back to his perch on the counter and pulls out a set of measuring cups and spoons from a nearby drawer. Everything is ready until Scully looks over at William sitting there in a long sleeved T-shirt. She tries to roll up his sleeves but they won't stay, so she unsnaps his bibs and pulls the shirt over his head leaving him in a white undershirt. The static from his shirt causes his fine hair to stand on end. Scully smiles and pats down the wayward strands as Will tries to snap his bibs but she has to help him. She then places a large plastic mixing bowl between his legs. "Here you go William, we'll put all the ingredients in this bowl."

"Wuz geed'enzs?" William asks as he pats the bowl. "That's all the things you carried over here from the pantry."


Scully unwraps two sticks of butter and places them in the bottom of Will's mixing bowl then hands him a large wooden spoon showing him how to mash the butter. Will takes the spoon from her and pushes it down repeatedly but grows exasperated at his progress and takes matters into his own hands, literally. He squeezes and squeezes the sticks of butter until they form a large mass in the bottom of the bowl and on his hands.

Scully looks over after she has mixed the dry ingredients together in another bowl. "Will, that's some pretty fancy mixing you did there but let's get the butter off your fingers." She runs a rubber spatula down her son's hands, removing most of the butter, then adds both sugars and the vanilla to his bowl.

"Alright William, you can mix that all together too."

Will trusts his slippery hands into the gritty mass and squeezes the sugar into the butter as he wraps his legs around the bowl for leverage. His left bib strap has slipped down off his shoulder during all his exertions as he grunts each time he squeezes the buttery mess. "Bakin' is hawd!" Will exclaims.

"Want me to help you?" Scully offers as she approaches the bowl with her spatula.

"No!" Will protests as he sticks out his arm to prevent Scully from sticking her spoon in the bowl. "Ah kin do it!"

He grunts and groans a few more times then Scully stops him. "Let me see your bowl, Will." She peers in. "That's not too bad actually." Scully is surprised that he did manage to get the sugars amalgamated with the butter. She grabs one of the eggs and cracks it into William's bowl then adds the other one.

Will pokes his finger in the slimy eggs. Scully laughs, "You're going to be just like your father; you'll put your fingers into anything."

"Can Ah mash dis up too?" Will asks.

"Sure you can but it's messy."

Will begins to squeeze the eggs and butter between his tiny fingers. He wrinkles his nose at the feel of the cold, slimy eggs but continues to squeeze and squeeze the mixture until it's all worked together. Scully brings over the dry ingredients she has sifted together earlier. "Let me pour a little flour into your bowl and then you can mix it up."

"Kay," Will agree, rubbing his itchy nose on his bare arm then he returns to squeezing the mixture into dough. Scully adds a little more flour and gives William time to work that all together. She has to admit he is diligent.

"Will, would you like me to mix the rest of it for you?"

"NO!" Will frowns, growing protective of his cookie dough.

"Okay," Scully laughs and pours a little more flour into the bowl. "Will, can you sit here while I go check on your sister?"

Will grunts as he sticks his tongue out of the side of his mouth and never looks up but says, "Ah be aw wite."

Scully runs up the backstairs to check on her daughter who is napping in her own bedroom.

Will has mixed all his flour into his dough but he spies the bowl that Scully was pouring the flour from and leans over to pull it closer, he grabs it and dumps the remaining flour into his cookie dough. The flour plops into his bowl raising a great white cloud that covers his bibs, and his arms and face, but he doesn't care, he's intent on working the flour into his dough.

Scully reappears and stops in her tracks. "Will, what happened?" She asks upon seeing him covered in a fine white sheen.

"Ah'm makin' some coo-kees," Will informs her as he squeezes his dough together.

"I see that," Scully laughs. "So you mixed in the rest of the flour, huh."

"Yup," Will grunts out.

Scully dusts off the counter and sets the flour bowl in the sink. She stands next to William and grabs her rubber spatula. "Okay sweetie, let me finish mixing in the flour then we can add the chips to your dough."

Will isn't sure he's ready to relinquish control of his cookie dough to his mother but he finally pulls his hands out of his bowl and Scully scrapes them down then quickly mixes the dough.

She opens a drawer and pulls out her kitchen shears, cutting off the end of the bag of chocolate chips and dumping some into Will's bowl. The little boy's face lights up and he grins at his mother. "You want to put the chips in?" She asks.

Will sticks his tongue out of the left side of his mouth as he takes the bag from his mother and dumps in a few chips.

"You can put some more in, William."

Will begins to shake the bag up and down sending chips flying all over the counter and floor.

"Whoa, whoa, whoa," Scully exclaims taking the bag from William. "Slow down honey, we want the chips in the bowl not all over the counter."

Will helps Scully pick up each wayward chip but most of them make their way into his mouth. He moves quickly and soon has a mouth full of chocolate.

"Will, you're going to be sick, put the pieces in the bowl."

After the last little chip is located and dropped into the bowl Will resumes kneading his cookie dough. He squeezes and pushes the dough around until he's worked the chips into it. He yawns and absentmindedly rubs his hand across his face and slathers cookie dough across his cheeks.

Scully grabs a towel and dusts off his face. "Honey, you look like a big chocolate chip cookie."

Will laughs at that thought.

Scully sets a cookie sheet on the counter next to William, dips a spoon into the bowl and begins to drop spoonfuls of dough onto the aluminum sheet.

Will watches her for a few moments then digs his fingers into the bowl and plops a little mound of dough onto the pan. Mother and son perform like a well-oiled machine and soon the pan is filled with cookies waiting to be baked. Scully takes the pan to the oven and pops it in. She pulls out another pan and this time let's William fill it all by himself except that every fifth ball of dough goes into his mouth.

Scully stops him after he has the pan a third filled. "We need to add walnuts to the remaining dough, dad like his cookies with nuts in them."

"Why din we put dem in aw of dem?" Will questions.

"Because your sister can't eat nuts yet, so we made some for her."

"Can ah put in da woo-nuz?"

"Yes you can, you've done such a good job so far."

Will sits back on his hands with the bowl still between his legs as his mother pours the walnuts into the dough. He once again squeezes the dough and does a fairly good job of mixing the nuts in, but its obvious that he's getting sleepy.

He dips into the bowl and brings up a huge handful of dough.

"Will, that's too big," Scully tells him.

"But da-dee's big an' he eaz big coo-kees."

Scully doesn't say anything but let's Will press the great globs down onto the cookie sheet.

The oven buzzer goes off signaling that the first batch of cookies is done. Scully pulls them from the oven and immediately transfers each one to a cooling rack. She pops the last sheet into the oven, as Will picks at the bits of dough left in his bowl.

Scully takes a gallon of milk from the refrigerator and pours two glasses then takes two small plates from the cupboard and places two warm cookies on each plate. She turns around ready to share cookies with her son only to find him spread eagle on the counter fast asleep with the bowl still sitting between his legs.

The buzzer once again goes off and she pulls another batch of cookies out of the oven. She puts the cookies on the rack to cool being especially careful with Mulder's huge, walnut-chocolate chips ones.

Fox Mulder has just gotten home from teaching his last anti-terrorism class for the day. He walks through the back door and into the kitchen.

He tosses his trench coat and keys on the counter as he always does but spies Scully sitting at the center island with one hand bracing her chin as she dips a cookie into a glass of milk.

"Hey Scully, what's up?"

"Will and I decided to bake cookies today," she replies pointing to their son still asleep on the counter.

Mulder walks over to him and looks down at the little boy, "Good grief Scully! What did you do to him?"

"Nothing," Scully says as she wearily climbs off the stool. "He just threw himself into his work," she smiles down at her son.

"It looks like he threw himself into the flour bin," Mulder laughs.

"He needs to be put to bed," Scully sighs rubbing her forehead.

"Let me," Mulder offers.

"No, you'll get your jacket covered in flour dust."

Mulder pulls off his tie and jacket, tossing both onto his trench coat. Scully removes Will's mixing bowl so Mulder can pick his son up. "Noooo, is mine," William softly says in his sleep.

Mulder looks at Scully, she smiles, "He got very possessive of his cookie dough." Mulder grins and gently carries William upstairs.

Scully is cleaning off the counter when Mulder returns.

"Something smells good," he remarks.

"Sit down and I'll get us some cookies." Scully sets a large tumbler of milk in front of Mulder and puts down a plate with four large cookies stacked on it.

Mulder's eyes grow wide and he laughs and points to the plate. "What the hell are those? Pancakes?"

Scully sits down next to him. "Your son said since you were big you should eat big cookies."

Mulder leers at Scully. "Do you think I'm big?"

Scully glares at him. "Mulder, drink your milk."

~ 26 Scully's Day at Work ~

"Scully can you be in the office within the next hour?"

Dana Scully has just picked up the phone after having seen her son off with his grandmother to the Catholic Church's Time Out Day Care Program. "Mulder, I'm not dressed yet and what do you expect me to do with Katherine, bring her along?"

"Of course not, you can drop her off with your mom and Will."

"What is so important that I need to be at the office in an hour?"

"Scully do you remember that scene in the Ohio theater?"


"I think we've got another victim and I want you to do the autopsy."

"Give me an hour and a half and I'll be there." Both agents hang up.

"Well Katherine, it looks like you'll be spending your morning with your brother and grandmother," Scully says to the baby she cradles in her arms.

A little over ninety minutes later Scully walks into the basement office she still occasionally shares with Mulder. "So where is the body?" Scully huffs trying to catch her breath.

"It should be arriving any minute. A homeless man stumbled onto a body in Fairfax, Virginia."

"So he reported it to the authorities?" Scully asks as she picks up the slim folder lying on Mulder's desk.

"No, this is the homeless man."

Scully looks up at Mulder; her attention now fully focused on him.

"Apparently he was only in contact with the dead man for a few minutes before he succumbed. He still had his hand in the guys pocket."

"He was stealing from a dead man?"

Mulder moves around the desk and sits on the front edge next to Scully. "It would appear so."

The phone rings and Mulder leans over to pick it up, he listens to the caller and thanks them before hanging up.

Scully flips through the few pages in the file that Mulder has opened on the case. "Why aren't there any pictures of the victims?"

Mulder turns around to face her. "Because this is a DOD case and..."

"Whoa, whoa, a Department of Defense case? Then why am I performing the autopsy?"

"Because they seem to have misplaced the body," Mulder grins.

Scully plants all her weight on one pump, crosses her arms, and frowns at him. "How did you get it?"

"Well, with a little help from the Gunman."

"Stop right there, I don't even want to know," Scully says putting up her palm. "One of us needs to stay out of jail to look after William and Katherine."

Mulder jumps up, "Then you'll do it?"

Scully sighs and looks down at the floor, "Does Skinner know?"

"No," Mulder honestly answers. "And that call was from the morgue, your shooting victim has just arrived."

Scully looks up at Mulder with a sly grin on her face, "My shooting victim? Righhht."

Mulder turns her around by the shoulders and moves her toward the door. "Autopsy bay three, better wear hazmat gear."

"How do I explain the use of hazmat gear for a gunshot victim?"

Mulder shrugs. "Lock the door."

Scully enters the elevator and presses a button then blows air out of her puffed cheeks as she leans against the back of the car. On the third floor the doors open and much to her shock in walks Skinner.

"Agent Scully?" He is apparently as surprised as she is by this chance meeting.


"I wasn't informed that you were coming back to work."

"I'm not, well, I am but just on a consult," Scully lies.

"Oh really?" Skinner sternly looks down at her as he clutches a file with both hands. "What case would that be?"

"Ah...a gunshot victim."

"And why would they need to call you out on a conventional gunshot?"

"Well, it's not exactly a conventional gunshot."

"Oh really."

"Yes," Scully nods her head trying to avoid eye contact with Skinner.

"And what about this shooting is so unconventional, may I ask?"

"They used very tiny bullets," Scully wrinkles her forehead; even she isn't buying that one.

"Agent Scully, you..."

Just then the elevator doors open on her floor. "Sorry sir, I really must go." Scully escapes down the labyrinth of rooms that is forensics.

She locates bay three; she is in her element after all. She has already changed into her scrubs before the body arrives; the morgue boys leave it on her stainless steel table as she signs for it. Once she is alone she dons her protective gear, locks the door and begins to unwrap the body. She doesn't get far before her cell phone rings. She turns to grab it off the instrument table and flips it open.


"Scully, it's me. Skinner was just here asking some weird questions about tiny bullets."

"Shit," Scully sighs.

"He's expecting to see a gunshot victim. I think you had better put Mr. DOD on ice and see if you can rustle up a shooting victim."

Scully frowns, "Mulder, I don't like this."

"Like it or not, we might be able to nail these guys this time."

Scully sighs into the phone.

"Scully, I need you on this one."

"Okay," she says looking around, "I'll see what I can do."

"Thanks, I knew I could count on you."

"But you owe me!" Scully counters.

"Name it, sex, money, sex, chocolates, sex, clothing, sex, jewelry, sex."

"A free Saturday away from the kids so I can go shopping with my mom."

"Did I mention sex?"

"A free Saturday," Scully repeats as she hangs up the phone.

She checks out the halls before she carts the body to refrigeration where she puts Mr. DOD in a drawer and sheds her bulky protective gear. She pulls out several bodies until she finds a gunshot wound then wheels it into autopsy bay three. She prepares to begin the autopsy, one she hopes to never actually start.

Sure enough there is soon a knock on the door and in walks Skinner. "How's it going Agent Scully?"

"Hello sir, ah, I haven't actually started yet."

"Skinner frowns. "Any specific reason, Agent?"

"I'm not in the mood?" Scully weakly offers.

"I see, and just when do you think you will be in the mood?" Skinner asks towering over Scully.

"Right now," Scully mumbles.

"Good." He looks at his watch and then at his Agent. "I have a meeting but I'll be back in a couple of hours to see if you find any of those 'tiny bullets'."

"Yes sir," Scully sighs as she runs her tongue over her bottom lip and tries to avoid Skinner's stare.

Once Skinner has gone, Scully grasps the side of the autopsy table and begins a slow burn.

One hour later...

Scully is up to her elbows in the autopsy on the gunshot victim when her cell phone rings.


"Hey Scully it's me, how's it going? Did you find anything yet?"

"Yes, I did. He was definitely shot," Scully says nodding her head.


"I thought his face was eaten off?"

"Mulder! I am autopsying the shooting victim."

"Scully, I need those results, the DOD is going to be missing their man soon."

"Mulder, I can't help it. Skinner wants to see how I'm coming on the gunshot autopsy."

"He said that you were looking for 'tiny bullets'," Mulder laughs. "Gee Scully, you are worlds worst liar."

Scully sucks in her cheeks and rolls her eyes. "I don't like being put in the position to have to lie and ..."

Scully's tirade is cut short by the appearance of Skinner. "Look, I need to go," she says into her phone then closes it.

"Hello sir, did you have a nice meeting?"

"Have you ever been to a nice meeting in this building, Agent Scully?"

Scully lowers her head. "No sir; can't say as I have."

Skinner stares at her fully aware that most of her meetings involved him. He looks around at the various pieces of the shooting victim lying in assorted bowls and on trays. "Find those 'tiny bullets', Agent?"

Scully nervously laughs then looks down at her feet. "No sir, they were just your average six millimeter slugs. Those guys in ballistics will be hearing from me on this one you can rest assured." She looks him straight in the eyes.

Skinner stares off over her head. "Can I assume you're finished here?"

Scully looks around. "Yes sir, you can assume that."

"In that case give my love to William and Katherine when you get home."

"Thank you sir, I'll do that sir."

Skinner leaves the autopsy bay.

"Shit," Scully says reaching for her cell. "Can I please speak to Margaret Scully?"

Scully has called her mom and made arrangements with Maggie to keep the kids until she can get free. She finishes the autopsy on the shooting victim and returns him to the drawer when her cell phone rings.

"Mulder, I'm getting to it!"

"Agent Scully?"

"Oh sorry, I thought it was Agent Mulder."

"No, its me, Kim, AD Skinner's secretary." Scully is anxious to get started on Mr. DOD. "Yes Kim, what can I do for you?"

"The AD would like to see you in his office before you leave."

"Me? In his office?" Scully winces. "Sure, I can do that."

Scully closes her phone and mumbles, "Dammit."

She is soon entering AD Skinner's outer office, just having shed her scrubs, carrying her purse and coat to make it appear that she is indeed headed home.

"I'll let the AD know you're here," Kim warmly says to Scully then pokes her head into Skinner's office. "He'll see you now," she says returning to Scully.

Scully enters Skinner's large office. "You wanted to see me sir?"

"Close the door," Skinner says never looking up from his paperwork.

With dread in her heart Scully closes the door and slowly walks to the chair she has mentally tagged as her own. Once seated she waits for her boss to begin.

Skinner looks up. "Agent, I'm sure you're wondering why I've called you in here."

"Yes sir," Scully timidly admits.

Skinner gets up and looks out the large window behind his desk. "It's just that I put a lot of stock in your judgment and truthfulness Agent Scully."

Scully can feel a proper dressing down coming.

Skinner walks around his desk as he cleans his glasses on his handkerchief, drawing out Scully's misery. He sits on the corner of his desk and replaces his glasses. "Agent, I need to know the truth."

Scully hangs her head; the burden of guilt she feels from lying to her boss is almost too much to bear.

"Agent," Skinner begins, drawing her attention to him, "do you remember that woman that attended the premier of the Lazarus Bowl with me?"

Scully numbly shakes her head yes. "It seems she is going to be in town this weekend and wants to meet me for drinks."

"Drinks?" Scully mumbles.

"Drinks," Skinner nods. "What I'm asking you is, do you think it would be proper for me to meet her?"

Scully titters in relief. "Sir if you want to go, I don't see anything wrong with meeting a lovely woman to share a drink with."

Scully can see the waves of relief rolling off her boss. "Thank you Agent Scully, I will," Skinner smiles at her.

"If that's all sir..." Scully begins to rise from her chair.

"Of course," Skinner says waving her off. "I'm sure you want to get home to your kids."

Scully hurries to the door and looks back as she is about to leave. "Yes sir, thank you sir."

She races to the elevator, catching it just as it's opening. Several people get off on various floors before Scully reaches her destination. She hurries into autopsy bay three, tosses off her coat and begins to put her scrubs on once more.

Her cell phone rings.


"Hey Scully, how's it going?"

"It's not," Scully huffs as she steps out of her pumps. "Skinner called me to his office."

"Oh," Mulder whines.

"Don't panic Mulder, he only wanted some advice on his personal life."

"How personal?" Mulder bristles.

"He wanted to know if he should have a drink with that woman he took to the premier of that awful movie."

"Oh that hot babe with the big... Scully, are you there?"

"Yes Mulder and unless that hot babe can wield a scalpel you'd better stop right now." "So are you going to get to Mr. DOD?"

"I would if someone would stop calling me."


"And I called my mom, she'll watch William and Katherine until we get home."

"That's good. I'll talk to you... when you call me."


Scully closes her phone and pulls on her scrubs. She doesn't bother to store her clothes in a locker, instead choosing to pile them on a table. She heads back to refrigeration and pulls open a door but Mr. DOD isn't there. She panics and pulls open another one but it too is empty. Suddenly she is opening door after door until she finally locates her victim. She puts her hand over her heart and breathes out a sigh of relief. In all the commotion she had put Mr. DOD in a different drawer than the one she had taken him from. She pulls him out of his resting place and wheels him into bay three. She then once more dons her protective gear and is ready to begin the autopsy.

She carefully begins to unwrap the body, documenting her every move on her micro-cassette.

"I'll begin by unwrapping the body."

She pulls back the white sheet to reveal Mr. DOD. She takes one look at the body and frowns. "Son of a bitch!" She exclaims as she rips off her hazmat helmet.

Fox Mulder is sitting at his desk pouring over the thin file that Scully had been reading earlier in the day. He glances at his watch and starts to pick up the phone when the door is pushed open and in walks a very surly Dana Scully.

Mulder leaves his chair and moves around to sit on the edge of his desk. "Are you done already?" He frowns.

Scully walks around her partner's desk and flops down in his chair. "All done."

"So what did you find?"

"Mulder let me ask you, who told you this guy was headed to the DOD?"

Mulder looks down and stares at his shoes and mumbles, "The Gunman."

"I see, are you sure he wasn't bound for the CDC or the EPA?"

"Why?" Mulder looks up as he gets off his desk and turns to face her. "What did you find?"

"Oh, we've seen this before," Scully says slumping down in Mulder's chair, "but not in Ohio."

"Where then?" Mulder frowns.

"In California."


"El Chupacabra."

"Scully, you're not telling me this was done by that Mexican Goat Sucker as you call it." "No, it's the fungus we discovered there, dermatophytosis."

"The athlete's foot one?"

"Yes but the virulent form."

"So a large dose of NP27 would cure it?" Mulder asks.

"Well, it would take something stronger than an over the counter remedy and with the speed it moves it is deadly but fortunately one would have to come in direct contract to be infected."

Mulder is deflated. He sits down in Scully's chair while she moves around to wrap her arms around his neck.

"I did get to brush up on my autopsy skills," she leans into his left ear. "Skinner has a date with a 'hot' woman," she whispers. "We discovered the fungus is still out there." She can tell Mulder is grinning.

"Katherine got a day out of the house and you get to baby sit all day Saturday." She then abruptly heads for the door. "See you!"

Mulder sits up straight in his chair, "Hey wait!" He yells. "I'm still offering sex!" But its too late Scully is already gone.

He slumps back into his chair rolling a pencil between his fingers. "Gunman," he huffs, "sometimes I hate those guys." He suddenly sits up and grabs the phone quickly punching in a number. "Frohike, Mulder, what are you guys doing Saturday?"

~27 Pictures ~

"Come on Will, let me open the door then we can go in."

"Okay, gumma."

Margaret Scully pushes open the door to her daughter's former apartment that is now her own home. Her grandson William walks in ahead of her. "Let me take your coat Will," Maggie says as she unzips Will's spring jacket and peels it off his arms then removing her own coat she hangs them both on the coat rack. Maggie loves the way his daughter dresses the children, so unpretentious and child-like not like miniature adults. Will has on his favorite pair of blue jeans and red sneakers, a gray sweater and a white T-shirt. She has to admit, everyday in his dress and mannerisms, he reflects more and more of his father and sometimes his intelligence can be a little unsettling to her. He's far wiser than his age, which is precisely why he is with her today and not with his mother and sister out shopping for his birthday presents.

Will walks into his grandmother's living room and heads straight for the big basket of toys she keeps hidden away at the end of her couch.

Margaret is brought back from her thoughts by a small pat on the knee. "Gumma, kin you pay wiff me?" Will asks.

"I don't know William, what would you like to play?"

"How 'bout you be da bad yadie and Ah be da FBI?"

Maggie laughs, "I don't think I can do that. How about if I read to you?"

Will wrinkles his nose, "Ah weed at home."

"Oh I see," Maggie smiles, "then why don't you come and sit next to me and we'll talk."

Will pulls back his head and eyes her suspiciously; no one has ever asked him to just talk, but he gives in. "Okay," he says as he tries to crawl up on the couch to sit next to his grandmother.

Maggie helps him up and he manages to maintain his grip on the small plastic tractor that he holds in his hand.

"So do you like church school?" Maggie knows Will prefers to think he is attending school instead of daycare.

"Yup, Ah do."

"You've made some friends there haven't you?"

"Yup, Ah did. Ah yike Pee-ie."

"I know you do. He is a very nice boy."

"Yup, he is," William agrees. Will runs his toy tractor across the couch cushion. "Kno' wha'?" He asks Maggie.


"Ma mom an' dad ha' a figh'"

"They did?" Maggie frowns, growing concerned.

"Yup, da-dee tick-old ma mom an' she fowd him on da coush 'an da-dee pic' ma mom up an' she din' yike it but da-dee din' put hew down." Will runs his tractor up the side of the couch and across the back. "Mom wan's down but da-dee kizz hew."

"That's nice William."

Will shrugs his shoulders. "Ah yike to kizz ma mom too."

Maggie smiles, "I'm sure she likes it when you kiss her."

"Not when Ah bin eat'n swabewwy yelly," Will laughs.

"Oh my!" Maggie laughs. "So mom and dad weren't fighting then?"

"Yes day were." Will stares at his grandmother. "Da-dee say he a wover not a figh-or."

"Oh is that right?" Maggie chuckles.

"Yup," Will says as he returns to playing with his tractor.

"Will, your birthday is coming up soon."

"Ah be fee," Will interjects.

"I know. What do you want me to get you for your birthday?"

Will thinks for a moment. "Ah wan' a daw-gee, a yiddle one so it can go up."

"Well William, I think that's something your folks should get you. What else would you like?"

"Ah wan' some diwt."

Maggie is puzzled. "Did you say dirt?"

"Yup, Ah wan' yots a diwt."

Maggie laughs, "Why would you want lots of dirt."

Will turns both palms up and tilts his head. "To pay wiff ma caws!" He can't believe Maggie wouldn't know why he would want dirt.

"Okay William, besides dirt and a puppy what do you want?"

"Oun't kno'," Will announces while he continues to play with his tractor.

Maggie's phone rings. She goes to the kitchen to answer it leaving Will to play on his own. He wanders around the living room and settles on looking at her old photo albums. When Maggie returns he has several of them open. He picks up one and carries it to his grandmother.

Will sits down on the floor and opens the book. "Gumma, dis is ma mom."

"Yes it is William," Maggie smiles, "and do you know who the baby is in her arms?"

William shakes his head no.

"It's you."

Will looks up at his grandmother with a wide grin on his face.

"You were just a few weeks old."

"Ah wuz a bee-bee."

"Yes you were. Here, come sit down next to me and we'll look at the pictures together." Maggie lifts up her grandson and he settles in next to her.

"This one is a picture of your dad holding you."

Will leans over his grandmother's arm to get a closer look. "Da-dee yooks hoppy."

"Oh he was, he was so happy," Maggie smiles down at her grandson.

The next picture shows Scully bathing William. Will laughs, "Yook, Ah don' got no cowse on!"

"No you don't, your mother was giving you a bath."

"Wuz Ah diw-dee?"

"All babies need to be bathed."

"Oh," William says then points to a picture. "Dat's me too!"

"Yes it is, you fell asleep on your father's chest while you two were watching TV. That's one of your mom's favorite pictures."

"Ah yike it too," Will smiles up at Maggie. "Yook gumma, dat's me in da s'ow."

"Yes it is, your mom and dad brought you to my house for Christmas and they took you outside to play in the snow. You couldn't even walk yet."

Will looks down at picture. "Ah yiked it."

"You did," Maggie laughs, "but your mother was afraid you would get too cold."

"But Ah didn'."

"No, you were fine."

"Yook gumma, dat's me undoor da Kismus twee!"

"Your father set you there. See how big your eyes were."

"Wuz Ah 'cared?"

"No honey you weren't scared, you were excited by all the pretty lights."

"Wha' Ah git fo' Kismus?"

Maggie thinks for a moment. "I know I got you two sweaters, a couple of pairs of mittens, and two baby blankets for your crib."

Will wrinkles up his nose. Maggie laughs at him. "I also got you two soft books that Katherine now has."

"Ah gabed 'em to hew."

"I know, that was nice of you."

"Wuz dis one gumma?"

"That's a picture of your mother and father sitting together on my couch."

Der eyes is cowsed."

"Yes they are, they had just gotten back from Christmas shopping and were very tired."

Will looks up at his grandma with a grin on his face. "Day gots me pwesen's."

"Yes they did."

Will points to the picture of two little boys. "Who dat gumma?"

Maggie looks closely at the picture. "That's you and Mathew."

Will smiles up at Maggie. "Ah yike Mat-yew."

"I know you do and he likes you."

Will moves a little closer and looks over several more pictures. "Who dat gumma?" He asks pointing to a man in a uniform.

A soft smile covers Maggie's face. "That William is your grandfather."

Will snaps his head up at his grandmother and blinks his eyes in confusion. "That was my husband and your mother's father so that makes him your grandfather."

"Dat's ma moms da-dee?"

"Yes, it is," Maggie replies.

Will looks intently at the photo then up at his grandmother. "Ah yike him."

Maggie laughs as her eyes brim with tears. "William, your grandfather would have loved you! You look so much like a Scully."

"Whew is he?" Will asks.

"He died long before you were born."

William looks down at the photo once more.

"Will, do you know what your grandfather's name was?"

Will shakes his head.

"His name was William."

Will grins, "Ah Will'um too!" Will yawns then says, "Ah wanna see mo' pit'chews."

Maggie turns the page. "Do you remember this Will?"

Will looks intently at the photo. "Ah gots a bwack eye."

"That's when you fell on the bottom of the staircase in your house when you were being chased by Mathew."

Will looks at the photo once more. "Ah cwied, it hewt."

"I'm sure it did."

"Wuz dat?"

"That is a picture your mom gave me of your dad and herself at work. She said they were finishing up a case and a man took their picture."

"Wuz Ah der?"

"No honey, you weren't even born yet."

The next picture is of two people slow dancing at some kind of party. Will points to it and grins. "Dat's ma mom an' dad."

"Yes it is. They were at the Bureau's New Years Eve party. Your mother told me it was the first one they have ever attended. I think they went just to show people your cute picture," Maggie says tweaking William's little nose.

"Mom say, Ah hew yiddle cootie," Will grins.

"Yes, you are," Maggie laughs.

"Wuz dis one?" Will asks.

Maggie looks closely at the picture, "Why don't we look at these over here."

"No, who dat yady?"

Maggie has tried to avoid discussing this photo.

"That's your mother, William."

Will looks closely at the photo. "Dat's not ma mom."

"It is. See William a long time ago your mother was very sick and...well I wanted one last photo of her before..." Maggie pauses as her eyes mist over.

Will looks up at his grandmother then down at the photo again. Maggie can tell he's confused by her reaction so she gathers herself and continues, "Anyway, your mom got better and she's fine now."

"Da-dee don' yike it when ma mom gez sick. Mom say he 'fwaid."

Maggie wraps her arm around her grandson. "I'm sure he is but your mom is a strong, healthy woman."

"Wuz dat?" Will asks as he points to two pre-teen boys standing on a pier in their swimming trunks.

"That is your Uncle Bill and Uncle Charlie when they were kids."

Will stares at the photo. "Dat's Mat-yews da-dee. Ah wanna see ma da-dee."

Maggie laughs. "I'm sorry Will but I don't have any pictures of your dad. He wasn't my little boy."

"Who wuz he?" Will innocently asks.

"He was his own mother's little boy."

"Ah don' know hew," Will answers.

"She died before you were born," Maggie quietly explains to the little boy.

"Oh," Will's eyes light up, "is she in heb'in?"

"Yes Will, I'm sure she is in heaven along with your grandpa Scully and your grandpa Mulder."

"But not yew." Will looks solemnly at his grandmother.

"No, I'm not," Maggie laughs.

Will grins at his grandmother. "Sho me so' mo'."

"Let's see what we can find," Maggie says as she flips through the pages in the photo album. "Here's one of your mother." Maggie shows William a picture of a bare baby lying on a blanket.

Will laughs, "Dat's ma moms butt."

"Well, yes it is William, but don't you think she was a cute baby."

"Yup," Will says but is still grinning over seeing his mother nude as a baby. "Wuz dat one?" Will asks pointing to another photo.

"I had forgotten about that one," Maggie mumbles to herself. She lifts the plastic protector sheet and removes the photo. "This one was given to me by your father. It's a picture of the your mom and dad working on a case just before your mother was taken."

Will looks at his grandmother. "Who taked hew?"

"A man, a very bad man."

"But he gabe hew back wite?"

Maggie sadly shakes her head, "No William, your father looked for her for months, it hurt him very badly. One night he came to my house, he had this picture in his hand and he was crying."

Will looks up at his grandmother with wide, blue eyes. "We talked late into the night and he fell asleep on my couch. The next morning he was gone but he left this picture behind. Soon after that, we found your mother in the hospital and your mom and dad have been together ever since.

"Wuz she sick?"

"She was very sick but in time with help, and the love of your dad, she got better."

Will stares at the picture and grin up at his grandmother. "Ma mom gits sick a yot."

"Not anymore she doesn't," Maggie reassures her grandson. "The last two times she was in the hospital she came home with two beautiful children, you and Katherine."

Will frowns. "Gumma whew did Ah come fwom?"

"Oh William, I think that's something you should be asking your mom and dad."

Will shrugs. "Pee-ie come fwom Cweevewand."

Maggie laughs at her own misunderstanding. Will yawns and rubs his eyes. "Why don't we eat a bite of lunch then lets take a nap."

"Yew gonna sweep too gumma?" Will asks.

"I just might," Maggie smiles at him as she puts the photo album away. Will crawls off the couch and follows her into the kitchen.

"What would you like for lunch William?"

"Macawonies wiff sheese," Will replies.

Maggie rubs Wills downy-soft head. "Kiddo, don't you eat anything else?" Maggie laughs.

"Ceweal," Will replies.

"I know, Shredded Wheat."


Will crawls up on the kitchen step stool and dutifully watches his grandmother retrieve a box of macaroni and cheese from the cupboard. She sets a pan of water on the stove to boil and brings out the milk and butter that will be added later.

"Gumma, can Ah hab a dwink?"

"You most certainly can. What would you like?"

"'Mato juwse," Will beams.

"I'm sorry honey but I'm out of tomato juice, how about a glass of apple juice?"

"Aw wite," Will says as he crawls off the stool and pulls out a kitchen chair. Maggie places a glass of juice on the table then returns to her now boiling water. Will drinks his juice while he watches his grandmother cook. "Kno' wha' gumma."

"What William?" Maggie says as she pours the macaroni into the boiling water.

"Ah gonna hab a boofday paw-ee."

"I know. I'm coming to your party."

"Pee-ie is comin' too!"

"I know. All the church school kids are coming."

"Ah kno'! Ah yike all da kids. An' kno' wha'?"

"What?" Maggie asks as she drains the macaroni.

"Yan-yee and Byews is comin' too! Ah yike Yan-yee!"

"Isn't Mr. Frohike coming?" Maggie questions as she adds the milk and butter to the macaroni and the powdered cheese mix.

"Oh yeah!" William laughs. "Ah fowgot 'bout Fow-heekie."

"How could anyone forget Frohike," Maggie mumbles as she stirs the macaroni and cheese.

"Kno' wha'?" William repeats once more.

"What?" Maggie once again asks as she dishes out two plates of macaroni and cheese to cool.

"Da-dee say we can pay in da bock yawd."

"Your mother is going to decorate the yard with balloons and streamers, and I'm going to help her. It will be very pretty."

"Ah kno'!" William agrees.

Maggie sits the two plates on the table and gives Will a spoon. "Do you want anything to go with your macaroni and cheese?"

"Cackews!" Will replies.

"How could I forget your crackers?" Maggie laughs as she gets up from the table to retrieve the crackers.

William digs into his macaroni and cheese with gusto. He's definitely hungry.

"Here you go," Maggie says offering her grandson a small plate of saltines.

Will grabs one and crams it into his mouth. "Ah yike cackews," he mumbles.

"I can see that." Maggie smiles.

Maggie and William eat their macaroni and cheese together and discuss his up coming birthday party.

"So William, you'll soon be three. I can remember the first time I saw you. You were the cutest baby I had ever seen."

"Ah kno'," Will agrees.

"And your father, I thought we were going to have to chisel that grin off his face. He was so proud of you. Your mother would look at you and cry."

Will frowns. "Wuz she sad?"

"No honey, she was so happy to have you that it made her cry. Those are called tears of joy."

"Oh," Will says as he chases one last macaroni around his plate finally giving up and using his fingers. He then picks up his plate and hold it out. "Ah wan' so' mo'."

Maggie takes the plate to the stove and fills it. "You were hungry weren't you!"?

"Yup, mom caws me hew yiddle bee-bee biwd."

"That's because like a baby bird, you are always hungry."

"Gumma wha' did dat man in the pit'chew do?"

Maggie has to stop and think for a moment. "Which man was that William?" "You kno'," Will puts up his hands and tilts his head, "ma mom's da-dee."

"Oh, you mean your grandfather. He was in the navy."

"Jus' wike unco Biwl?"

"Yes, just like your uncle Bill."

"Mat-yew wan' to be in da naby when he gows up." Will takes a sip from his glass. "Ah don' wan' to be in da naby." Maggie smiles. "What do you want to be when you grow up?"

Will swallows his last bite of macaroni and cheese. "Ah wanna wide a howse an' be a fammer, Ah wike da aminols."

"You could have a farm and raise horse and other animals."

"An dwive a big twactore," Will readily agrees.

"That's right." Maggie laughs.

"Da-dee say, pay basetbawl but mom say weeve him awone." Will laughs at that comment.

"You could do both. You can play basketball in high school and college and become a farmer once you're out of school."

Will looks stunned by this revelation. "Does ma da-dee kno' 'bout dis?" He asks.

Maggie laughs. "I'm sure he does." She carries their plates to the sink and fills it with water. She wets a paper towel and wipes Will's face off then sets him down on his feet.

William pushes the kitchen stepstool over to the sink. "Ah can dwy da dishes gumma, ma dad sho' me how."

"That would be a big help." Maggie unfolds the step so Will can climb up on his knees facing the sink. He picks up the dishtowel and waits for Maggie to hand him a plate. She scrubs off the food and rinses the plate handing it to her grandson. He rubs and buffs the dish until it gleams then sets it on the counter and repeats his actions on the next one. Soon all the dishes are done and put away. "You're a good helper, William."

"Ah kno'!" Will agrees and yawns.

Maggie picks up her grandson and he lays his head on her shoulder. "I know a sleepy little boy." Will rubs his nose against Maggie's blouse. She cups the back of his head and carries him into the living room. She turns a radio on low and soft music floats through the room then she sits down in the rocking chair.

William's eyes grow heavy but he sits up and looks around the room. "When is ma mom comin' bock?"

"She'll be here soon, she doesn't like being away from you for very long," Maggie softly tells the little boy.

Will settles back down and begins to chew on his finger, a sure sign that sleep is near. Maggie slowly rocks her grandson and feels his hand fall to his side as he drifts off to sleep.

She slowly rises and lays William down on the couch then pulls a throw off the back to cover him.

One hour later Maggie is sitting in the rocker looking at her photo albums when she hears a noise outside her door. She leaves the rocker to open the door to find Scully holding Katherine's hand while the baby high-steps down the hall trying to get the hang of walking. "There you go sweetie, you can do it."

Maggie watches them from the door. "So are we finally walking again?"

"She's trying," Scully says looking up at her mother as she picks Katherine up. "She was doing so well before the accident. Breaking her foot set her back, but we're catching up aren't we," Scully smiles down at her daughter.

Katherine launches herself at Maggie making her grandmother very happy.

Scully sheds her spring jacket and unzips Katherine's then works the baby's arms out of the sleeves. "Where's William?"

"He's sleeping on the couch."

"I'll check on him," Scully says as she leaves to check on her son while Maggie carries Katherine into the kitchen, kissing her chubby cheeks as she goes.

"Did you have fun with your mom today little one?"

Katherine babbles to her grandmother, throwing in an occasional ma, ma.

Scully walks into the kitchen. "He's out like a light, what did you do to him?" She laughs.

"I plied him with macaroni and cheese," Maggie laughs.

"Ah, William does love his macaroni and cheese."

Maggie pulls out a kitchen chair then sets her granddaughter on the table facing her.

"Got anything cold to drink?" Scully asks as she pulls the fridge door open and looks over the selection. "Yum, apple juice, that sounds good."

"Will thought so too, he had that with his lunch."

"I'm trying not to give it to him very often, it can cause diarrhea in children."

Maggie looks concerned. "I'm sorry Dana, I didn't know that or I would not have given it to him."

Scully takes a drink of her juice. "No, that's okay mom, I just don't keep it around the house." Scully finishes off her glass of juice and rinses it out. "So what did you two do today?"

Maggie is playing pat a cake with her granddaughter. "We looked at old photographs.

"What did Will think of them?" Scully asks sitting down across from her mother.

"He was fascinated. Dana, he is so logical and bright it's almost scary."

Scully smiles. "I work with him a lot, he loves to read."

Maggie looks surprised. "But he isn't even three yet!"

"I know mom but he seems to have this thirst to know. He's so much like his father in that way. Speaking of which I should be calling Mulder to let him know I got William's birthday present."

"What did you get him?"

Scully gets up to raid her mother's cookie jar. "A jumper." "A what?" Maggie asks.

Scully laughs, "That was my reaction when Mulder told me he wanted to get one for William."

"What on earth is a jumper?"

"It's this huge balloon that is filled with air and the kids jump up and down in it."

Maggie's eyes widen. "I've seen those at the amusement parks. Fox bought him one of those enormous things?"

"No," Scully smiles, "he saw an ad in the paper offering the smaller version for the backyard. It comes with an automatic air pump to fill it."

"Sounds expensive," Maggie adds.

"Well, it wasn't cheap," Scully says feeding bits of cookie to her daughter, "but Mulder insisted he wanted William to have it."

"You're lucky, you can afford to buy the kids such things."

"Believe me if we couldn't afford it we wouldn't be spending it, besides if Mulder wants to spend money on the kids I'm not going to stop him, there are a lot worse things he could be spending it on."

Just then a noise is heard and in walks a sleepy-eyed William with a bad case of bed head. He rubs his eyes and yawns then shuffles over to his mother and puts out his arms so she'll pick him up.

"Hey there, baby bird," Scully says picking up her son. "I missed you."

"I kno'," Will softly says as he rubs his head and yawns.

Katherine reaches over to pull a cookie toward her. Maggie takes it from her and breaks it into small, chewable pieces with Katherine quickly gobbling them up.

Will snuggles into Scully. "Ah wanna see ma pwesen's"

"No honey, you can't see your presents until your birthday."

"How yong is dat?" William softly asks.

"Not much longer." Scully pats down his wayward hair. "Grandma said you looked at her pictures today."

"Yup, Ah did," William yawns then begins to giggle.

"What's so funny?" Scully asks smiling down at her son.

"Ah saw yo butt!" William laughs.

Scully looks at her mom. "Mother! Did you show him my baby picture?"

Maggie and William both laugh.

~ 28 Will and Petie's Big Adventure ~

The children at the Catholic Church Time Out Day Care program have just had their lunch and are now all playing outside in the fenced in backyard. The kids are broken up into little groups; three-year-old boys are playing in the sand while three-year-old girls are chasing one another. The four and five year old boys are trying to play on the old merry-go-round while the girls play on the few swings that they have. The older girls are lined up to go down the slide while smaller groups of children run to and fro. Off to the side stands a brown haired, brown eyed, freckle face, little boy while his sandy-red haired, blue eyed, friend stands next to him.

"Ah hate dos swings!" William Mulder tells his buddy Petie.

"Me too, and the merry-go-roun' stinks!" Petie complains.

"Yeah, it sinks!" William agrees.

Off to the left of William and Petie a milk truck has pulled up along side the vine covered chain link fence.

"Ma dad an' me wen' to dis pawk an' it gots good swings an' a teedor tador," Will tells Petie.

The milkman loads his handcart with milk crates filled with cartons of milk. He lifts the latch on the gate and pushes his cart through it. He backs up to the rear door of the church and pulls it open then disappears down the steps and into the basement.

"Where is the park?" Four-year-old Petie asks his best friend.

"Is ober dare," Will points toward the fence then he spots the open gate. "Come on, Ah sho' you!"

The two friends walk through the open gate and follow the fence until it ends at an alley then they take off down the alley.

The milkman opens the backdoor and hauls his empty cart to the open gate and walks through it, stopping to lock it, then tossing his handcart into the back of his truck, he crawls in the left side and takes off down the road to make his next delivery.

Will walks beside his slightly taller friend Petie. "Kno' wha', Pee-ie."

"What William," Petie says as he kicks up clouds of dust.

"Da pawk has dis 'tone biwd and wadder comes out is mouff."

"It does?" Petie asks wide-eyed.

"Yup an' Ah payed in it," William laughs.

Will and Petie turn down another alley in the old residential section of the city. The houses sit tight to one another while huge old trees canopy the streets. The late spring day is warm but it doesn't seem to bother William who is wearing a long sleeved red t-shirt under his bib overalls along with his favorite red sneakers. Petie is clad in his usual cowboy boots and jeans and he too has on a striped long sleeve t-shirt. The two boys walk down another alley where Will finds a shiny white rock. He picks it up, tossing it, both boys race for the rock. Petie picks it up, throws it and again they race ahead to retrieve it. They play this game all the way down the long alley, getting deeper and deeper into the city and farther away from the church.

Mrs. Green opens the backdoor to the church and calls out, "Playtime is over, you need to come in now."

The children climb off the swings, off the merry-go-round, and out of the sand. They walk and run to the door that Mrs. Green is holding open. She watches them pass her then looks around the yard for any stragglers and shuts the door.

The kids line up to wash their hands in the boys and girls restrooms as Maggie and the other volunteers dim the lights so that the children can nap. After washing up each child retrieves his or her sleeping mat and lies down, usually next to their friends. When all the children are settled down Maggie looks over to find William and Petie's mats are still rolled up in the storage cubical. She scans the room but sees no sign of her grandson or his friend. She races down the hallway to checkout the restroom but finds it empty. Near panic, she runs up the basement steps and out the backdoor calling out, "William, Petie," but to no avail.

Betty Green opens the door. "Maggie what's wrong?"

"William and Petie are missing!" Maggie frantically says.

"They must be here," Betty replies. "Look, I'll get the rest of the woman to search the church." Betty looks over at the gate. "Maggie, the gate is the only way out of the play yard and neither boy is tall enough to reach the latch."

Petie drags his foot through the sand along the old alley. "William, where is the playground?"

Will looks up from picking up a butterfly. "Is ober dare," he says pointing left.

"Then let's go there," Petie reasons.

"Wook, wha' Ah foun'," Will says showing Petie the orange butterfly. "Ah fink is a biwd."

Petie looks the butterfly over. "It's a skinny bird."

"Maybe is hun-gee," Will rationalizes.

Petie looks it over once more. "I think it's dead."

Will frowns then tosses the butterfly into the air and it promptly falls to the ground. He bends over to stare at the dead insect for a few moments. "Yew wite," he agrees then picks it up and gently places it in the front pocket on his bibs then he runs down the alley to catch up with Petie.

The phone rings at the Mulder household just as Scully had fed Katherine and placed her in her playpen.

"Hello Mulder's."

"Dana, it's mom."

Scully can hear the quiver in her mother's voice. "Mom, what is it?"

"Now don't worry."

"Mom!" "We can't find William or Petie."

Scully slowly sinks down on the stool next to the wall phone stunned. "What do you mean you can't find them?"

"They must have gotten out during recess."

"Mom! Did someone take them?"

"Honey," Maggie starts to cry, "we just don't know."

Will and Petie follow the alley until it T's into a street where cars line either side of it. Occasionally a slow moving vehicle will go down the street but it doesn't have much traffic.

"Where's the park?" Petie patiently asks his friend.

"Ah fink is cwoss da sweet," Will assures his friend.

Petie stands on his tiptoes and cranes his neck. "I don't see it."

"But is not hewe," Will rationalizes, so they stand next to a car and look both ways for close to two minutes before they dash across the deserted street. Both boys stop and grin at one another, thrilled by their latest feat of crossing the street by themselves and down the alley they go.

Fox Mulder is standing before a group of agents presenting a slideshow on some of the types of terrorism that he and Scully have encountered, terrestrial or otherwise. "This next photograph comes from New Jersey, notice the bite mark on the sanitation workers back." Several agents squirm in their chairs and wrinkle their noses. Mulder has just changed the slide when his cell phone rings. "Excuse me one moment."

"Mulder!" A frantic Scully says as she cradles the phone between her shoulder and cheek while she picks up Katherine. "William is missing!"

Mulder frowns, unsure that what he is hearing is correct. "Missing. How?"

"I don't know. Mom just called from the church. He and Petie are gone!"

Mulder bits his bottom lip and calms himself; Scully is panicking enough for both of them. "If they're both gone then I doubt it would be our enemies. Look, I'm on my way."

Mulder turns to face the roomful of agents. "Class dismissed," he says as he flees from the room leaving a stunned group of students.

Will and Petie turn onto another sleepy residential street. They walk down the sidewalk that is shielded by cars parked all along the street. Will looks down at a cryptic chalk drawing on the sidewalk. "Wuz dat?" He asks Petie.

Petie looks closely at the sidewalk. "Looks like a game the girls play. They hold up a foot and jump around."

Will and Patie are soon hopping up and down on one foot. Will stops, exhausted he says, "Ah don' yike dis game."

"Me neither, it stinks!" Petie, the old sage, declares as he huffs and puffs.

"Yeah is sinks!" William parrots then he spots a stick of chalk near the curb. He picks it up and sniffs it, and being of Mulder stock he puts it in his mouth and tastes it then finally settles down to write on the curb. Petie sits down next to him, hidden by a car. Will puts some muscle into it and manages to break the chalk in half offering it to Petie as a smile covers his friends face. Both boys are furiously drawing on the curb as they sit with their feet in the street, behind the car as a police cruiser rolls past in search of them. They draw until the chalk runs out then they crawl up off the curb. By now Will's bib strap hangs low on his arm and his knees are covered in grass stains as are Petie's. The two friends are covered in sweat, dirt and now a fine sheen of chalk dust.

"Come on Pee-ie da pawks dis way," Will says having absolutely no idea where they are going.

Walter Skinner is sitting at his desk; he's finished his paperwork and is about to head to the cafeteria for a cup of coffee and to stretch his legs when his phone rings.


"Sir, it's Mulder."

"What can I do for you Agent?"

"Will and his friend are missing."

"Missing?" Skinner incredulously asks. "From where?"

"St Vincent's Catholic Church Day Care Program on Harper Street. Mrs. Scully volunteer's there and called Scully. Look sir, I'm on my way over there but I was wondering if you would call DC PD and see what you can find out and get back to me?"

"Of course, I'll get on it right away, and Mulder good luck."

"Thanks," Mulder says in a shaky, unsure voice.

Petie and William cross another street and walk between two houses and down another alley where they find an abandon, rusty, Radio Flyer wagon.

"Wow!" Petie says. "Look at this!"

"Ah wan' a wagon yike dis one!" Will exclaims.

"Get in William and I'll pull you around." Petie offers.

Will eagerly crawls in the rusty, red wagon and hangs on as Petie pulls him down the alley kicking up great clouds of dust as they go. Will laughs and shrieks until Petie tuckers out and drops down on a stretch of grass to catch his breath.

"Come on pee-ie Ah puw you!" Will yells. Petie hauls his tired little body off the ground and flops in the wagon. Will pulls and pulls but he can't pull his larger friend very far or very fast. He pauses and turns to Petie. "Yew heaby Pee-ie!"

Petie laughs, "I eat a lot."

Will continues to pull Petie then mimics his friend by falling to the grass only he pretends he's dead. Petie jumps out of the wagon and lands next to William, they tumble and roll over and over screaming in delight.

Dana Scully grabs her daughter out of her car seat and weaves her way through the many police cars that now block the street in front of the church. A beat cop grabs her by the arm. "Hey! You can't go in there."

Scully gives his a testicle-shriveling stare. "Get you hand off me, I am William Mulder's mother and an FBI Agent!" The cop quickly releases her. "Sorry ma'am," he apologizes as he leads her up the steps and into the church.

Mulder tears through the DC traffic, daring any cop to try and stop him. He screeches to a halt in the middle of the street outside the church and abandons his car. He races up the steps and into the church, which is crawling with cops. He sees Maggie with a handkerchief to her mouth standing near the alter occasionally wiping away tears, as a detective interviews her.

He spots Scully standing off to the left talking to a DC officer. She sees him and waves him over meeting him halfway where he takes Katherine from her. He kisses his daughter who grins at him and slobbers on his tie.

Scully rubs her arms as if she's cold but Mulder knows her well enough to know she isn't cold, she's scared. "They have an APB out on Will and Petie with their photos and descriptions but they don't have any news yet." Scully glances around the room, she is holding herself together but just barely.

"How long do they think they were gone before someone noticed?"

Scully wipes away a tear as she looks around the church. "About twenty five minutes. The other children saw them standing together but that's all any of them remember seeing." Scully looks past Mulder and he turns to see just what she is looking at; it's Skinner walking toward them.

Will and Petie filled the wagon with rocks and tin cans but grew tired of playing with the wagon and left it in the alley.

They walk down another alley that runs at an angle to the one they were playing on.

"Where is the park William?" You said it was this way," Petie calmly asks his friend.

"Oun't kno' Pee-ie," Will says looking around, "maybe day moobed it."

"They don't move parks, William," Petie corrects but Will isn't listening.

"Look Pee-ie a daw-gee! Come hew daw-gee," William yells.

A lanky, long legged, buff colored terrier-mix wanders up to the boys. Will cautiously puts out his hand. The dog sniffs it but doesn't attempt to bite him. Soon William is hugging the mutt while Petie is petting it.

"Ah yike dis daw-gee, Ah'm gonna keep 'em," Will announces.

"You can have him," Petie tells Will. "I already got a dog, his name is Blackie."

"Ah'm gonna call ma daw-gee Bwackie too!" William says as he pets the dogs back.

"But he's not black!" Petie argues as he throws up his hands.

"Ah don' care, Ah yike him." Will and Petie walk slowly down the alley as William coaxes the dog to follow him. "Come on Bwackie, heh boy!" The dog slowly lopes along behind the boy's as Will laughs and calls his new pet again.

"I didn't expect to see you here sir," Mulder says to his boss.

"Why not? The FBI is a family and William's a member of that family."

Scully lowers her head as her bottom lip begins to quiver and she wipes away a tear.

Skinner feels awkward as he scans the faces of the distraught parents. "Now Agent Mulder, if you were William and you say, just wandered off, where would you go?"

Mulder bites his bottom lip and stares into space, his mind working like the tumblers in a lock then he looks at his boss. "Will and I used to go to a small park about halfway between here and Scully's old apartment."

Skinner turns toward the mass of cops that fill the building. "Did anybody check out the park William Mulder used to go to with his father?" Every law enforcement man and woman stops what he or she is doing. Finally one speaks up, "We didn't know about a park."

"Well you better damn well find out from his father here," Skinner yells pointing to Mulder.

Several officers begin to speak with the frazzled agent still holding his daughter. Mulder slowly steps back to Scully and softly says, "I'm going to the park with them, call me if anything new develops."

Scully slowly nods her head and quietly says, "Okay." Mulder starts to hand Katherine back to her but Skinner steps in and takes the little girl. Katherine stops chewing on her fingers and stares at the bespectacled man that is holding her. Skinner bounces her up and down while watching Scully out of the corner of his eye. She slowly sinks down into a seat and drops her head. Skinner assumes she is praying until she begins to speak. "Sir, what if..."

Skinner interrupts her. "Scully, don't start what if'ing. You know as a trained agent you can't let yourself do that."

"But as a parent of a missing child I can," she says looking up at her boss.

Dis is a good daw-gee!" William proclaims as the ratty, friendly mongrel walks beside his new master that is until he hears a shrill whistle. The dog stops dead in it's tracks then Will and Petie hear a man calling out, "Cupcake, here girl." Apparently Blackie is actually Cupcake. The dog dashes across several yards and through a hole in a hedge before she races up a set of steps and into an open screen door.

Will stares at the hole in the hedge then with his mouth hanging open he turns back to his friend. Petie scratches his dirt filled hair. "That dog belongs to that man."

"Yeah," Will agrees then shrugs, "Ah bedder fin' me anudder one."

"Yeah," Petie agrees as they shuffle down the dusty alley.

"The dogs have arrived!" An unknown law enforcement officer yells into the church.

"'Bout time," Skinner mutters as he walks toward a group of DC detectives.

Scully is outside looking over the gate and the latch as Carolyn Brown races up to her. "Dana, Dana, what happened? I was just able to find someone to stay with Karen and Sally, Dave is on his way over."

Scully can see Petie's Mother has been crying. "I'm not sure myself. The DC police and the FBI are handling the case and detectives are talking to possible witnesses as to their whereabouts."

Carolyn gets into Scully's face. "Dana, you make it sound so antiseptic, this is our children that are missing, not some 16 year old girl out with her boyfriend!"

"I know, I know," Scully says with her head down, "but if I fall apart now I can't help find them." Scully's voice begins to crack and her bottom lip quiver. Carolyn pulls her close and they both cry together.

William and Petie have now been missing for over ninety minutes and traffic is picking up with rush hour approaching. Officer Reese Calloway has been monitoring the search on his cruiser radio. He knows the Mulder family personally and has unofficially appointed himself to the search team. He's been driving around the perimeter of an area he thinks the two might be in. He turns down a wide residential street and spots two small boys standing on the sidewalk looking confused. "Damn!" The large, black cop smiles, "That's William."

He stops a few yards back from the boys, not wanting to scare them and cause them to run from the police car. He puts the cruiser in park and exits the car. "William, William Mulder?" He calls out.

The shorter, light haired boy responds to his calling. "Will, it's me, Officer Reese. Do you remember me?"

Will stares at the policeman with a blank look until a hint of recognition crosses his face. "That's right!" Reese says as he stoops down. "And who is this with you?"

Petie grows shy. "Dat's ma fwien' Pee-ie," Will tells Officer Calloway.

"Hello Petie, what are you two doing out here?"

Petie remains mum but not William. "We goin' to da pawk!"

"Where is the park?" Reese asks.

"Ober dare," Will motions to the left.

Reese stands up. "Well boys your parents are worried about you. Everyone is out looking for you."

William frowns. "But, we goin' to da pawk."

Reese smiles and deftly picks up both boys. "How would you two like to ride in my police car?"

"Yeah!" Petie finally responds to the officer.

He carries both boys back to the cruiser and sits them in the back. Before he can crawl in the front, Petie and Will have plastered themselves to the cage that separates the front seat from the back. He smiles over his shoulder at his charges and keys the microphone. "All units on the manhunt for William Mulder and Petie Brown can signal nine, both boys have been located and are being returned to the command post. Car 258 clear."

"Bring the dogs around here will ya," a burly lieutenant yells out just as everyone's hand-held radios chirp to life. Each law enforcement officer including Scully stops and holds his or her breathe to hear if it's good or bad news.

Once Reese's message has been delivered the entire place erupts in a chorus of salutations and hand clapping. Petie's mom looks around a little confused. "Carolyn, that means they've been found and they are on their way back here!" Scully excitedly tells Petie's mom.

Carolyn grabs Scully and screams for joy. Scully pulls back and wipes away a tear then reaches for her cell phone. "I have to call Mulder."

"Yes, I need to call Dave. I know he's frantic."

"I'm sure," Scully agrees as she hits speed dial one on her cell.

Will and Petie are still standing up behind Reese as the officer slowly drives the two back to the church. "Yook Pee-ie he gots a yiddle jail in his caw," Will laughs from behind the cage.

Petie's eyes grow big and he softly asks, "We aren't going to jail are we?"

Reese looks back at the two in his rearview mirror. "No son, you're going back to the church."

"Is ober dare!" William says as he points to the right.

Officer Calloway chuckles, "Are you sure William?"

"Nope," Will honestly answers.

"Mulder, it's me..."

"I know Scully, they found them. It came across the radio and I'm headed back." Mulder hesitates for a moment. "Don't cry Scully, he's okay."

"I know," Scully chokes out. "Um, I'll see you then."

Mulder flips his cell phone shut and swallows back the knot in his throat.

Reese hits his lights and siren as he nears the church. Due to the crush of the media all the family members are cloistered inside the church. He pulls his cruiser to a spot cleared for him in front of the church. He emerges from the car and opens the backdoor. He hands Petie to a waiting officer who hustles the little boy inside. He then helps Will from the car and carries him up the steps all the while trying to shield his face from the cameras but Will keeps looking around his large hand, curious to see what is going on.

Petie's dad and Mulder arrived shortly before the boys did. Carolyn and Dave take their son and whisk him off to a quiet corner.

Mulder looks up past Scully and laughs. "Well I'll be damn, it's Reese."

Scully moves foreword in the crush of people to see her son. She spots Reese and runs toward him with her arms out. Reese holds out William so she can take him. She grabs her son and sinks to the floor crying, and holding him tight. She kisses his filthy face and rubs his dirty hair much to Will's confusion. He simply continues to chew on his fingers and look around. Mulder parts the crowd and stoops down next to Scully with a large smile on his face. He runs his hand over the back of his son's head. "Scully," he softly says, "I think you're suffocating him, stop squeezing him." He takes her hand and pulls it away from Will then picks up his son and helps Scully up.

Maggie has now joined them and she too squeezes the stuffing out of her grandson.

Mulder hands William back to his mother and sticks out his hand to the man who found his son, "Reese Calloway, we meet again."

"We sure do Agent Mulder. I knew if anyone could find William I could. We have a way of crossing paths from time to time," the large cop laughs.

A DC detective interrupts. "I just talked to Petie and he said the gate was open and they just walked out."

Mulder ponders for a moment. "I'm willing to bet the milkman left it open when he brought in the milk then shut it before he left."

"Could be," the detective agrees. "We'll need to interview him and I need to talk to William to see if his story jives with the other kids."

"Just give us a moment will ya?" Mulder asks.

"Just let me talk to him before you leave."

Maggie is holding Will and softly talking to him as Scully walks up to Reese. She offers her hand and he shakes it. "Thank you Reese. I don't quite know what to say."

"It's all in a days work, Agent Scully," the modest man says.

"If William has a guardian angel it must be you," Scully smiles.

Reese laughs, "I don't know about that but we sure do meet under the strangest circumstances." Reese steps back. "I have to get going, I'm still on duty."

"Of course," Scully says. "And thanks once again."

Carolyn and Dave approach Mulder and Scully. Dave is carrying a very sleepy Petie. "Dana, Fox, I'm glad this turned out like it did."

Mulder and Scully both agree. "We're going home now if we can get through the crowd outside."

Skinner overhears them and orders a group of officers to aid the Browns in getting to their car. He then assigns an agent to drive Dave's car to his home so he can ride with Carolyn and Petie.

Scully once again is holding Will. Mulder hovers over both of them. "Come on Scully, let's go sit down." He ushers her to the nursery at the back of the church where they find Maggie and Katherine.

Mulder sits down on a nearby couch and motions for Scully to join him. She sits down holding their son who leans against her still chewing on his fingers. "You have grass in you hair sweetie," Scully softly tells William.

"How did you get grass in your hair, Will?" Mulder asks.

Will shrugs his shoulders. "Will can you tell me how you and Petie got lost?"

"We not yost," William correctly observes.

Mulder smiles. "Well no, you were not but how did you get out of the playground?"

"We wak," Will innocently says.

"But how did you get out of the gate?"

"We wak," Will repeats.

Scully senses Mulder's frustration and intercedes. "Honey, did you open the gate?"

"Nope, it was op'n."

Scully takes William's hand from his mouth and holds it. "Honey, why don't you tell me the story about what you and Petie did. I would really like to hear it."

Will looks up at his mother and begins, "Ah tode Pee-ie dat da udder paygown at da pawk was bedder. So we wen' dare, but we cud not fin' it!" He says as he tosses out his hands and cocks his head.

Mulder grins at his son's expression.

"Know wha'?"

"What?" Scully smiles.

"Ah foun' a daw-gee but he wunned away!"

"Oh my!" Scully exclaims.

"An Pee-ie pud me in a wagon. Ah yike it!"

"You did!"

"Yup," William exclaims as he rubs his dirty nose.

"You got all dirty," Scully says as she wets her thumb and rubs the dirt off her son's face.

"Pee-ie and me wode in da g'ass an dwawd on da si-wak wiff white cayons!"

Mulder speaks up, "Will why did you leave the playground?"

Will looks up at his father. "Cause it sinks, da-dee." "Why does it stink?"

"Cause is boke."

"It is? What's broken?"

Will is getting exasperated. "Da swings sink! Dares no tee-dor ta-dor an' know wha'?"


"Da merwy go wound sinks too!"

Scully chuckles and looks at her mother. "I think William has a new favorite word."

Maggie laughs and wipes away a tear.

There is a knock on the door it's the detective. "Can we talk to William now?"

Mulder walks to the door. "He says the gate was open, they left to find the park Will used to play at."

"Did you ask him if anyone confronted them?"

"No, but I will." Mulder returns to his spot on the couch. "Will, did you talk to anyone while you were miss... looking for the park?"

Will thinks for a moment then stretches up to wrap his dirty hands around Scully's neck. "Yup, Ah did." His parents stare at him. "Ah tak to Pee-ie!" Mulder and Scully each let out a sigh.

"But no one else?"

"Nope. Mom, Ah hun-gee," Will says as he tires of the questions.

Mulder straps Katherine into her car seat as Scully sets Will in his own. Maggie has already left for her own home and the church is clearing out. "You take these two home Scully, I'll be there in a few minutes."

"Okay, but where will you be?" She asks as she shuts the door on her Cherokee.

"I want to do a little more nosing around."

Scully has a concerned look on her face. "Don't worry Scully, it's nothing bad. I'll tell you when I get home." Mulder opens the side door and leans in to kiss each of his children then shuts the door and takes Scully in his arms. "You take him home, scrub him clean, feed him, and hold him all evening."

Scully looks up at her partner and smiles, "You read my mind." Mulder kisses her forehead and releases her.

"William, I don't know how you got all this dirt in your hair," Scully says as she dumps more shampoo onto her son's head as Katherine hangs on to the edge of the tub watching her brother.

"Ah tode you mom, me and Pee-ie wode in da diwt!"

"Petie and I," Scully corrects.

Will's eyes grow wide. "You an' Pee-ie wode in da diwt too?"

"No William," Scully laughs.

Katherine leans over the tub and grabs a handful of bubbles to eat. Mulder walks in as she stuffs them into her mouth. "Hey Will, you think Katherine will be farting soap bubbles?"

Will shrieks with laughter while Scully glares at her partner. "Mulder, stop saying things like that!"

"Kat-runs gonna fawt bubolds, mom!"

"Okay William, I heard it the first time."

Mulder picks up his daughter and tosses her into the air. "Why don't you see if you can get her to sleep?" Scully yells as he walks out of the room carrying Katherine. She turns to her son, "All done. I think the grit is out of your hair, and William, don't roll around in the dirt again."

"But Ah yike da diwt!"

"Well, just try to not get it in your hair or I'll have to cut all your hair off," Scully teases.

"Okay!" William readily agrees much to Scully's dismay. "Ah wan' no hawr. Cut it aw off!"

"Maybe later, come on time to get out of the tub."

Will stands up as Scully lets the water out of the tub then she wraps a towel around her shivering son and lifts him from the tub. Will yawns and rubs his eyes. "I know a sleepy little boy," Scully softly says as she carries him into his room. She returns to his bathroom to gather up his dirty clothes and find the butterfly in his front pocket. "Will, what is this doing in your pocket?"

"Is my biwd but he dead."

"Will honey, it's not a bird, it's an insect called a butterfly but it is dead." Scully puts Will's 'bird' on his shelf and places his clothes in his hamper. She dresses the little boy and carries him into her room and sits down in a rocker. Will yawns again and snuggles down into his mother. Scully rubs his cold feet and plays with his tiny toes as she rocks him. "I was afraid when you were lost today William."

"Ah wasn' yost," Will corrects.

"But no one knew where you and Petie were."

"We did," Will once again corrects.

"But you mustn't walk away from the playground again. It makes me afraid something has happened to you."

"You cwied," Will yawns.

"That's because I didn't know where you were."

"Ah won' go to da pawk no mo'."

"That's good," Scully smiles down at him.

"'Sides Ah cudn' fin' it."

Scully laughs and holds him tight as he yawns and slips into sleep. She softly kisses his forehead and hugs him. Mulder walks in, "She's down for the count."

Scully draws back to look at her son, "We almost lost him today Mulder."

Mulder stoops down next to her and chuckles, "Will wasn't lost Scully, he knew where he was." Mulder cups his son's chin causing him to snuggle farther into his mother. "He's something else, isn't he, Scully."

"Yeah, he is," Scully smiles down at their son.

"By the way, Will and Petie won't need to look for better playground equipment anymore."

"Why not?"

"I did some calling and between Dave and I and several other fathers of the kids attending day care with Will, we gave enough money to completely update the playground, new swings, merry-go-round, monkey bars and sandboxes."

"That's wonderful Mulder."

"There's only one hitch."

"What's that?"

"Will and Petie won't be able to use it right away, they have been grounded to the playroom for thirty days."

"Oh no," Scully moans as she throws her head back and shuts her eyes.

"Come on, let's put our happy wanderer to bed," Mulder says as he helps Scully out of the rocker.

Scully stops in the hallway and looks up at Mulder. "Thirty days?"

"Thirty days."

~ 29 The Progress Report ~

"Mulder would you stop fidgeting. It's only a review on behavior, attitude and cooperation."

"I know Scully, but this is serious it could determine the future."

"I think you're making too big of a deal out of this, calm down."

"I am calm," Mulder replies as his knee jiggles.

"You are not, if you were any more jittery I'd have to sedate you."

"But what if we get bad news?"

"Then William and Katherine won't be allowed to continue in the day care program."

Scully wheels her Grand Cherokee into the parking lot of the Catholic Church were her son and daughter attend the Time Out Day Care Program. She had earlier picked up Mulder at work so that they can both attend the meeting to discuss William and Katherine's progress in the group.

Scully turns the SUV off and looks over at her partner. "I'm sure they'll do just fine. He's an intelligent, sweet, little boy and Katherine's a charming, good baby."

"And they're both Mulder's," Mulder grins then frowns, "they are both Mulder's, aren't they Scully?"

Scully glares at him. "Of course they're both Mulder's but don't forget they're Scully's too," she smugly says.

They exit the SUV, enter the church and they soon locate the office they have been instructed to look for. Mulder raps lightly on the frosted glass window and receives a soft, "Come in," in reply.

They enter the small room and are greeted by a woman who appears to be a few years older than Mrs. Scully. She moves from behind a large desk and offers each agent a seat. She then returns to her own chair and begins, "Mr. and Mrs. Mulder, it's nice to meet you. I'm sorry I wasn't here to greet you when you enrolled William and Katherine but I spend two months a year with my sister in Florida."

Both agents smile politely at the woman.

"Oh, where are my manners," she says throwing her hands to her chest. "I'm Alice Evans, Program Director."

"Nice to meet you," both agents mumble.

"Now," Mrs. Evans begins as she taps down a stack of papers then places them on her desk and folds her hands on top of them, "where to begin?"

Suddenly Scully feels as jittery as Mulder does.

"As you may know we like to speak to every parent of the children attending our program, and William and Katherine are no exception." The woman smiles at both parents.

Mulder clears his throat and nervously strums his fingers on the arm of his chair.

"Katherine is here only occasionally but she is a joy to have around. I understand she was starting to walk when her foot was broken."

"Yes, that's right," Scully replies.

"She seems to have recovered nicely and toddles all over the infants room."

Mulder speaks up, "Scully spent a lot of time teaching her how to walk again."

"Scully?" Mrs. Evans questions.

"Yes," Scully looks up and answers.

"Who is Scully?" Mrs. Evans asks.

"That's her," Mulder replies pointing to his partner.

Scully can already tell Mulder is going to be a handful during this interview. "Scully is my maiden name and the one that Mulder calls me." She hesitates and looks down, "Just as I call him... Mulder."

"I see," Mrs. Evans responds. "Katherine is alert and attentive. She is a little behind in her speech but don't worry babies all talk at their own pace."

"Maybe she doesn't have anything to say," Mulder comments.

Scully nervously looks up and runs her tongue over her bottom lip. "You were saying?"

Mrs. Evans looks down at her paper once again. "Katherine gets along well with others but is perfectly content to play by her self."

"She's used to being alone since William attends the program more often than she does."

"May I ask why that is?" Mrs. Evan says leaning across the desk on her elbows.

"Katherine attends only when I have to work but we felt William should attend so that he could be with other children his own age."

"Besides he was driving us nuts," Mulder interjects from his slumped position in his chair.

Scully nervously laughs trying to add some levity to the room when she would really like to throttle Mulder.

"Mrs. Mulder."

"Please call me Dana," Scully replies breaking the tension in the room.

"Dana, now we move to William who is three years old."

"Yes, he just turned three in May."

The director pulls out one of the papers that she has stacked in front of her. "But he is already reading at an advanced level."

"Yes he is, I work with him," Scully proudly smiles.

"And he can write not only his full name but many of his classmates as well."

Even Scully is amazed by the discovery.

"He seems to have no problem with number identification and is in fact doing basic math problems."

"We tried teaching him calculus but he just couldn't grasp it," Mulder deadpans but his joke falls flat with Scully and Mrs. Evans.

"Right," Mrs. Evans says staring at Mulder. He has remarkable writing, reading and math skills but his language skills are in need of some development."

"He's only three," Scully softly defends.

"Yes and I'm sure he'll catch up soon."

"Yeah," Mulder jokes, "we have very few agents at the bureau who still say, "Ah haffa go pot-ie." This time Scully nudges him with her foot.

"Right," Mrs. Evans unsteadily replies. "We of course do no intelligence testing but my guess is William would test highest of all the children attending the program."

Mulder's ears perk up at this last remark. "But he's one of the youngest children here."

"I'm aware of that and I'm including the seven year olds that come here after parochial school."

Scully glances over at Mulder taken back by what she's hearing.

"While William is highly intelligent, he doesn't seem to be bored by the day to day events going on in the program, in fact he is interested in everything going on around him."

"He's nosy just like his mother," Molder smiles while Scully does a slow burn.

Mrs. Evans smiles not fully understanding Mulder's sense of humor. "Anyway, we now come to his behavioral evaluation."

Molder loses the smirk that has covered his face while Scully merely looks stoic.

Mrs. Evans shoves her glasses farther up on the bridge of her nose. "He is well liked and has made fast friends, Petie Brown in particular. He gets along well with the other children but there have been incidents," she says looking over the top of her glasses.

"Such as?" Scully softly asks.

"He was one of the instigators of a fight that resulted in his suspension..."

"For swearing," Mulder interjects from his slumped down position with his chin resting on his bent arm.

"and another students dismissal."

"Mary-Katherine," Mulder adds.

"That's right, Mr. Mulder."

"Well, you can hardly blame him for that, she was a bully," Mulder says defending his son.

"Bully or not, he swore at her," Mrs. Evans coldly says.

"Dumbass," Mulder mumbles.

"I beg your pardon Mr. Mulder."

"Will called Mary-Katherine a dumbass."

"Oh I see," Mrs. Evans says as she regains her composure.

By now Scully is glaring at Mulder. He looks over then slinks a little farther down in his chair.

"We also have the most recent incident when he and Petie ran away."

Mulder straightens up in his chair and points a finger into the air. "Technically they did not run away, they went in search of a better playground, which was recently purchased for the children so I don't think you will be having any more problems keeping him in the fence."

Now both women are staring at Mulder.

Scully moves foreword in her chair. "Is there anything else we should know, Mrs. Evans?"

"William does seem to have a very vivid imagination."

A small but audible moan can be heard coming from both parents.

"He apparently told a group of children that when you are stung by a bee they put you in the snow, naked."

Mulder starts to laugh but thinks better of it and covers his mouth with his hand while Scully runs her tongue over her bottom lip and looks directly at him. "Well, you know how children are, they love to tell a good story." "There's more," Mrs. Evans coldly replies.

"There's more?" Scully softly asks as a putrid look crosses her face.

"Yes, it seems you had a dog that was eaten by a crocodile..."

"Alligator," Mulder corrects.

"What was that Mr. Mulder?"

"Her dog was eaten by an alligator."

"I see," Mrs. Evans says as she looks down at the paper she is holding in her shaking hands. "He also told the other children that you took a cruise that made you real old, and your shoes were once eaten by green Jello."

"Now technically that's wrong, it was green but it was not Jello," Mulder affirms.

By now Mrs. Evans is getting a little edgy. "He also said you chased a vampire, and a man who had a monkey tail. Mrs. Evans folds her hands together and stares at Mulder. "Tell me Mr. Mulder, why do you think William says these things?"

Mulder looks straight at the woman. "Because they're true."

Scully jumps in, "Mrs. Evans, we work at the FBI"

"I'm aware of that."

Scully squirms in her chair. "And we are assigned the, the, out of the ordinary cases and maybe William overheard us discussing some past cases and he got things a little jumbled."

"That's right," Mulder adds, "and she was not naked in Antarctica, I gave her my snowsuit."

Scully glares at her partner.

"Getting back to William," Mrs. Evans says as Scully continues to stare at Mulder.

"He also says he plays with a, oh where did I put that page?" Mrs. Evans digs through her pile of papers as Mulder and Scully begin to visibly sweat.

"Ah, here it is. His playmates are a Byers, Frocky, and the third name I would only be guessing at but he says these three boys play video games with him and drive a car. I can only assume by William's description of them that none them are out of their early teens. I only mention this to let you know they are driving and you may want to check this out."

"I'll get right on it," Mulder says as he slumps down once again in the chair while Scully looks glum.

"He is well behaved and listens to orders, never cries unless he's injured."

"When has he been injured?" Scully inquires as her maternal instincts take over.

"Well, I don't exactly recall," Mrs. Evans, says as she thumbs through her papers. "Here it is. He was injured when his cast was broken by Mary-Katherine."

"The dumbass," Mulder adds.

"Mulder!" Scully hisses then returns to Mrs. Evans. "Was that the only time he was hurt?"

"Yes, that appears to be the only case. He did have the stomach flu but you know that, you were the one who picked him up."

"That's right," Scully agrees.

"We also had a bit of an embarrassing situation one afternoon. All the children were gathered in a circle and were asked some familiar questions. We do this routinely so that if they are ever lost or wander away, as William and Petie did, they can tell someone who they are and where they live. Anyway, William was asked what his fathers first name was." At this point Mrs. Evans begins to blush. "William blurted out a word that all of our volunteers thought for sure was a swear word until his grandmother came to his rescue and informed everyone he was trying to say 'Fox'."

"Oh no," Mulder laughs as he closes his eyes and throws back his head. By now Scully is so numb she just rests her chin on her fisted hand and smiles.

"His eating habits are fine but we did have to stop Petie from eating the crust off his sandwiches."

"He has an aversion to crust," Mulder explains.

"Yes, we gathered as much, so now we cut the crust off for him. He usually eats everything on his plate but like all children he has things he won't touch."

"He's very easy to please at home," Scully says.

"The kid eats all the time," Mulder interjects. "I suspect he has a tapeworm."

"Mulder!" Scully admonishes. "William does not have a tapeworm!"

"I was only kidding, Scully," Mulder contritely says as he plays with his tie.

"So I've noticed." Now Scully has built up a head of steam. "You have spent this entire time joking and making smart remarks while you should be listening to what Mrs. Evans is saying about William and Katherine. If you didn't want to pay attention you should have stayed at the bureau and told your students about brain eating mutants, boys who control lightning, and virus carrying bees!" Scully suddenly becomes aware that Mrs. Evans is staring at her. She too slumps back into her chair and mumbles, "Sorry."

Mulder is smiling at his partner. "You'll have to excuse my wife, she gets like this when I'm being a smart ass."

Scully drops her head to her chest. Mrs. Evans begins to nervously stammer. "Well, ah, well, I think that's about all for today. I, um, I'm sure if you have any further questions a member of the staff will be more than hap, happy to answer them for you." She hastily gathers up her papers and clutches them to her chest as she steps past Mulder and Scully and slips out the door then pauses. "Now if you'll excuse me I am needed in the kitchen." With that statement she flees from the room.

Mulder turns in his chair and watches the door slowly close. "She never did tell us how well he preformed on potty breaks."

Scully lifts her head and scowls. "Mulder, shut up."

Scully pulls the SUV into the light afternoon traffic while Mulder sits quietly in the passenger seat. He starts to reach for the radio dial but Scully swats his hand away. He glumly looks out the side window and sighs, "Do you think they'll ever let us back in that church?"

"I'm not even sure they will let William and Katherine back in," Scully snaps as she takes a corner just a little too tight and squeals the tires.

Mulder taps his fingers on his knees then turns to Scully. "She did say Katherine was a joy to have around."

"Yes, she did," Scully agrees. "And she gets along well with others."

"That's right and William is the brightest kid there."

Scully smiles. "Even smarter than the seven year olds."

Mulder sits up straight in his seat. "And he's reading and writing already, she did seem impressed by that."

"He writes the other kids names, can you believe that Mulder!" Scully excitedly says.

Mulder nods in agreement. "He is smart."

"And he gets along well with others."

"Except for Mary-Katherine," Mulder adds.

"Well, she couldn't get along with anyone and that fight was her fault," Scully says as she slows for the traffic.

"That's right!" Mulder excitedly agrees. "Why should that incident even be on Will's record? We should request that it be expunged."

"I'm not sure I would go that far but it does seem odd that it is on his record."

"And where does she come off telling us who William should be playing with at home!" Mulder has built up his own head of steam. "And that woman is pushy!"

Scully shrugs. "I'm sure she was just doing her job but I would say she is nosy, not pushy."

"Got that right!" Mulder says pointing his finger at Scully. "And how dare her say Katherine and William are behind in their language skills. Will can look up in the night sky and name the Big Dipper, the moon, and Venus."

"Well, yes Mulder," Scully laughs, "But he does say 'Benus' not 'Venus'."

Mulder shrugs. "That's just a slip of the tongue, Scully."

Mulder looks out the side window then turns back toward his partner. "You know Scully, I don't think this day care program is good enough for William and Katherine."

"Mulder!" Scully laughs. "We went from feeling like our kids would never be welcomed back to deciding this day care program isn't good enough for them."

Mulder grins at her. "You're right." He lays his head back and looks out the side window once more.

Scully maneuvers the Grand Cherokee through the steadily increasing city traffic. "Want to grab a cup of coffee? Mom won't mind watching the kids for a few more minutes."

"If you're buying," Mulder teases.

Scully smiles back at him.

"Scully, raising kids isn't easy is it?" Mulder asks as they pull up to their favorite coffee shop.

"Sometimes the most rewarding things in life are the hardest to do."

"Yeah," Mulder agrees as they get out of the SUV. He takes Scully by the hand then drapes his arm over her shoulder. "I've decided they can stay in day care."

"Good, I'm glad," Scully smiles up at her partner.

He holds the door open for her and as she is stepping under his arm he adds, "But I still don't like that Mrs. Evans."

~ 30 The Shooting ~

It's a warm, July, Saturday in Washington, DC, and the perfect day to go to the National Zoo and watch the animals.

"Scully, stop your worrying, we'll do just fine. Go and enjoy the day with William," Fox Mulder assures his partner as he follows her into the family room.

"You're sure you have the afternoon free, you won't be taking off on some tangent that I don't know about?" Scully says as she puts Katherine in her playpen.

"And what kind of tangent would I go on with a fifteen month old baby?" Mulder replies as he scoops up his daughter.

"One that would involve the Gunmen," Scully says looking up at him with both hands planted firmly on her hips.

"Scully, I haven't talked to the guys in days. No, Katherine and I will hangout together while you and William tour the zoo."

Scully drops her head and shakes it. "I don't know how I let my mom talk me into chaperoning the day care outing to the zoo." She reaches out and ties the lace on Katherine's tiny sneaker.

"You agreed because ever since Will and Petie escaped you haven't let him out of your sight." Mulder grins.

Scully doesn't deny it she only smiles. Will comes racing into the family room wearing a pair of heavy jeans, a long sleeved, button down, flannel shirt over a striped shirt and a pair of hiking boots on his feet. "Mom, Ah dres' ma sewf, kin we go now?" William proudly proclaims.

Scully takes one look at her blue-eyed boy and laughs. "Honey, you'll burn up in these clothes."

Will looks down at himself then back up at his mother, puts a finger in his mouth and shyly grins.

"Will, mom has on shorts, sandals, and a much too revealing tank top, wouldn't you rather be dressed like she is?" Mulder smirks while Scully just rolls her eyes.

Will hesitates.

Scully puts her hands on her knees to be at eye-level with her son. "I'll bet Petie has on shorts and sandals."

"Okay!" Will now agrees and takes off up the staircase with Scully right behind him.

Mulder carries his daughter into his office all the while rubbing her dark, curly, head against his cheek. He pulls out the desk chair and switches on the computer then sits down with Katherine balanced on one knee. Scully has the baby dressed in a light blue, terry tank top and matching shorts, she kicks her white baby shoe against the desk as Mulder absentmindedly reaches down to still her foot. He brings up his email and begins to open and delete messages. He's just opened one from a UFO hotline when Katherine begins pounding the keyboard and jabbering. Suddenly the screen goes black and the computer shuts off.

"Katherine, you shut me down," Mulder says with a frown.

His dark-eyed daughter looks up at him and hiccups. He laughs and so does she. He can hear Scully now rummaging around in the kitchen so he and Katherine go to investigate.

William is seated at the counter with his head in his hands watching his mother. "Now William, you want a jelly sandwich right?" She asks her son as she stuffs carrot sticks, apples, and crackers into her insulated lunch bag.

"Yup, wiff pee-ut budder." Scully pulls out a loaf of bread and deftly assembles Will's sandwich remembering to trim off the dreaded crust.

Mulder looks his son over. "Will, I like those khaki shorts. I've got a pair just like those."

Will smiles and pulls at his tank top. "Ah yike ma shiwt too, is boo."

"It sure is," Mulder smiles.

"Okay," Scully says letting out a huge sigh. "I think we're ready to go. No wait I forgot the sunscreen! We have got to have..." her voice trails off while she races from the room and up the stairs.

Mulder puts Katherine down and the baby toddles around the kitchen. He grabs a carrot from the open package and crunches down on it. "So what do you want to see at the zoo, Will?"

Will jumps up and down. "Ah wanna see da yions, and da beaws, and da pain-wins."

"You liked the way the penguins swam the last time we were at the zoo."

"Yup, Ah did," William agrees with a laugh.

"Okay, we're all set," Scully huffs as she stuffs the sunscreen into her bag and steps up on her tiptoes to kiss Mulder. "Where's Katherine?" She asks looking around. "Don't tell me you have lost her already?"

"I do not lose our children," Mulder replies as he looks around for the child. Katherine comes toddling out of the laundry room carrying one of Scully's black, satin bras, a fact that Will finds all too funny and laughs uncontrollably. Scully takes her bra from the baby and tosses it back into the laundry room and pulls the door shut.

"You and I share the same taste," Mulder tells his daughter as he picks her up.

Scully opens the door leading to the garage. "Call my cell if you need me."

"Yes mom," Mulder teases.

Mulder and Katherine watch Scully and William leave from the front door then they return to the house.

"So it's just you and me kid," Mulder says to his daughter who is squirming to be put down. Since Katherine has fully recovered from her broken foot she wants to explore the world around her.

Mulder sets his daughter down on her feet in the foyer and steadies her before letting go. She toddles toward the family room while Mulder sorts through the mail piled on the foyer table. He drifts toward the office and sits down at his desk to open a letter. He props his long jean clad legs up on the desk as he scans down his correspondence. Minutes pass when he realizes he hasn't heard a sound in quite some time. He plops his sneaker covered feet on the carpeted floor and listens, then calls out, "Katherine?" But he gets no response until he looks up to see his daughter standing in the doorway, her face and hands covered in black dirt along with the front of her terry tank top, behind her Mulder can see a trail of deep, rich soil. He jumps up and scurries over to the baby who puts her hands up. Mulder picks the tot up. "Katherine, what did you do?" The baby begins to put her dirty hands into her mouth but Mulder intercedes. "No," he says pulling her hands back, "don't eat that stuff." Then he looks down the hallway and clamps his eyes shut and moans, "Oh no." He follows the trail of dirt back to the family room to find Scully's favorite plant pulled from its pot and laying in the middle of the floor where Katherine has dissected it.

"Katherine, look at the mess you made."

The baby twists around in her father's arms to gaze at the destruction she has wrought on the family room.

Mulder sits the baby on the couch and puts out both hands, palm side up. "Now you stay put while I get the sweeper." He races from the family room to the laundry room to retrieve the vacuum cleaner. He turns around to carry it back to the family room and nearly runs over his daughter. "Whoa! How did you get here so fast?" The baby walks past him and grabs one of Scully's clean, white towels. "No, no," Mulder scolds as he sets the sweeper down and takes the filthy towel and tosses it into the hamper.

"No, no, no," Katherine mumbles with a frown on her face.

"To bad you don't understand the meaning of the word," Mulder says as he scoops up his daughter and carries her on his hip while dragging the sweeper behind him.

Mulder puts Katherine down and she immediately takes off for his office. "Hey, hey, you come back here!" He pleads as the baby rounds the corner of the door. He catches her just before she makes it to the fern standing in the corner of the room. He scoops her up and carries her to the hallway. "What is it about you and plants. I'll bet you're going to grow up and be a botanist." Katherine squirms in his arms wanting down. "Oh no you don't, I'm on to you," Mulder says as he plops her down in the mesh-sided playpen.

Katherine begins to bawl for all she is worth. Mulder starts to run the sweeper while talking to his daughter. "Honey, don't cry, I'll be done soon."

Katherine stands in the middle of the playpen with her dirty fingers in her mouth and wails. Her tears leave muddy tracks down her face.

"Come on baby, don't cry. I'm almost done." Mulder is vacuuming for all he is worth. He finishes and pulls the plug out of the wall and looks at the rug shaking his head in disgust. "Shit! Scully is gonna kill me."

He carries the sweeper back to the laundry room and returns to his daughter. He picks her up and pats her little concave back. Holding her close he whispers words of comfort to her. He carries her upstairs. "You need a bath and a change of clothes." He opens her bathroom door and sets the baby down on her feet as he begins to fill the tub, then he takes her by the hand and leads her back into the bedroom to find her some clean clothes. Katherine picks up her stuffed dog as Mulder pulls out a pink terry outfit that is similar to the one she has on. He returns to the bathroom to find Katherine's dog at the bottom of the tub. Mulder winces and looks down at his dark-eyed daughter, "Why did you put your puppy in the water?"

Katherine looks over the edge of the tub while Mulder fishes the sopping wet, cloth dog out of the tub. He begins to wring the toy out causing his daughter to laugh. Mulder grins, "Oh so you think that's funny do you!" He put the dog in the sink and grabs a bottle of baby bath to pour under the running water. The tub is immediately filled with foam much to Katherine's delight.

Mulder strips off the baby's shoes and clothing then removes her diaper and lowers her into the tub. The bubbles come up to her chest and she pats them causing soap snow to float everywhere including in her father's hair.

"Okay, okay, that's enough of that," Mulder laughs. The baby grins, a six-tooth grin, at her father and rubs her button nose with her fist. Mulder laughs at her eyes that are beginning to cross as she tries to look at the bubble that clings to the end of her nose. He takes a small washcloth and begins to gently wash her face and hands. "You must behave better for your mother than you do me, otherwise she'd be going to work and leaving me at home."

Katherine jabbers away not saying anything intelligible but that doesn't stop her. Mulder soon has his daughter bathed and dressed. He cleans up the bathroom and carries her downstairs. He looks at the child and frowns. "Katherine, you and I should hit the road if mom wants to come home and find her house in any semblance of order." He trudges back upstairs and puts sandals on the baby's feet and grabs her hat and sunglasses then at the last minute remembers to tuck the diaper bag under his arm.

Out the front door father and daughter go. He straps Katherine into her car seat then puts her sunglasses on her. He closes the rear door to the SUV and climbs in behind the wheel. He starts the engine and turns to look out the back window when something flies past his face; it's Katherine's sunglasses. He puts the vehicle in park and retrieves the glasses from under his feet. He folds them up and sticks them in the pocket of his T-shirt. "Mom's not going to like you taking these off. She's afraid you'll damage your retinas."

Katherine kicks her car seat and babbles something that contains the word, 'da'.

Mulder starts the SUV. "Although I can't say as I have ever seen a blind kid, I mean blinded by the sun but I trust your mother."

At the mention of her mother Katherine begins to chirp, "Ma, ma, ma."

Mulder pulls out of the driveway and into the flow of traffic then heads into the city. "You hungry kiddo? What am I saying, you and your brother are always hungry."

The baby entertains herself as they cruise down the highway. Mulder turns on the radio and hums along with a song when suddenly his peace is broken by another object flying over the front seat. "What the hell?" He looks in the rearview mirror just as Katherine flings something else past his head. He looks down to find two tiny sandals lying on the passenger side floorboard. "Katherine! Shoes are for wearing not to be used as missiles." The baby plays with her now bare toes.

"Don't get too comfy, I have to put those back on your feet before we eat. You've seen the sign, no shirt, no shoes, no service." The baby plays with the toys Scully has tied to the car seat. Mulder checks her out in the rearview mirror and laughs, "Your mother is pretty smart, you can't throw those."

Mulder is soon pulling into the parking lot of a local eatery, local to Scully's old apartment. He opens the rear door and begins to put Katherine's shoes on her. "I'm not letting you out of there before I get your feet dressed, do I look like a dummy?" Mulder grins at his daughter.

With her shoes once more on her feet he finally lets her out of her restraints. He sets her down on her feet and holds her tiny hands as she walks between his legs. They make it to the door where he scoops her up then holds the door open for a gaggle of older woman walking in. They all thank him before entering. He and Katherine stand behind the group and wait to be seated.

"Party of two?" The pretty attendant asks.

"Yes, but I need a highchair," Mulder replies as he shifts Katherine around in his arms.

"You look a little big for a highchair," the girl teases.

"It's for her," Mulder laughs.

"Smoking or non-smoking?"

"Non-smoking, she's trying to give it up," Mulder says as the baby looks around the room while chewing on her fingers.

The attendant laughs and leads them to a table near the kitchen and beside a window. She grabs the highchair and holds it while Mulder slips the baby into it. "Your waitress will be right with you."

Another young girl with her hair pulled back into a ponytail arrives at their table. She pulls a packet of crackers out of her apron and lays them on the highchair tray. Katherine instantly grabs the packet and tries to stuff it into her mouth.

Mulder pulls the crackers out of her mouth and carefully unwraps them. He hands a cracker to her and gets a toothy grin in return. He brushes the curly, soft, dark hair away from his daughter's face then he tilts his head and stares at the baby. "Katherine, I should have pulled your hair back with one of those tie thingies that your mother uses." Katherine just wants more crackers.

The waitress reappears. "So would you like to order your drinks or is she trying to give that up too?" She smiles at Mulder, "Cary told me what you said."

"She was hooked on chocolate milk but she finally gave it up with help from the patch," Mulder teases. The waitress laughs and shakes her head. "I'll have an ice tea, no lemon and she'll have an orange soda."

"I'll be right back," the waitress assures Mulder as she walks away.

Mulder turns back to his daughter, "You like orange pop don't cha?"

Katherine lifts herself up by standing on the footrest on the highchair and prattles on. Mulder laughs and the baby offers him a bite of her cracker. He gently bites down and snaps off a small bit of cracker. Katherine wrinkles up her nose and snuffles out a laugh.

The waitress returns with a large, cool, glass of ice tea and a small-lidded paper cup filled with orange soda. Katherine immediately makes a grab for the cup but Mulder gets to it first having learned from his experiences with Will. Katherine frowns and jabbers on at her father.

"Hold on to your diaper, I'm putting the straw in for you." He puts the straw in the tiny hole and offers it to the baby to drink. She latches on to it and drinks until Mulder pulls the cup away. Her little lips are orange and she purrs with delight at the taste of the syrupy, sweet drink. "Don't tell mom I gave you pop, she would kill me and pump out your stomach."

"Are you ready to order?" The waitress asks trying to glance at her pad instead of the good-looking man seated before her.

Mulder looks over the menu and closes it. "I'll have a deluxe, double cheeseburger and fries." He points to Katherine. "She'll have chicken fingers."

The waitress picks up the menus and smiles, "Comin' right up."

Mulder leans foreword resting his elbows on the table. "I'll split my fries with you if keep mum about all the grease we're eating." Katherine smiles at her father and pats the tray on her highchair then begins to sing, or as close to it as she can come. What she lacks in talent she makes up for in volume. Mulder puts his hand over her mouth but she simply bats it away and sings even louder. "Shh," Mulder pleads placing his finger to his mouth. "You definitely inherited your mothers singing ability."

The waitress reappears with a handful of crackers. "I thought you might want these." Mulder gratefully accepts them and opens a pack. Katherine stuffs the little Club cracker into her mouth and once again silence reigns supreme.

Their food soon arrives and Mulder breaks up the chicken fingers into more manageable and chewable pieces for the baby setting them aside to cool, something Katherine finds annoying. She starts to fuss so Mulder breaks off a tiny bit of the lettuce covering his sandwich. Katherine takes the offered bit and stuffs it into her mouth then promptly spits it out, frowning at her father in the process. He checks on her chicken and it has finally cooled enough for her to eat. He shoves the plate over to Katherine and she immediately snags a piece of the chicken and shoves it into her mouth and smiles. "Now that's more like it!" Mulder laughs as Katherine grins. He breaks up a few fries and sets them aside to cool; Katherine watches him and puts her hand out wanting some more. "You're pretty smart, you have learned that the broken up pieces are meant for you."

Mulder takes the opportunity to grab a bite of his own burger, which Katherine also wants. He places a few fries on her tray and she quickly gobbles them up. "I swear Katherine, you and Will can eat your mother and me under the table, but then again your mother hardly eats." The baby motions for another drink from her cup. Mulder holds out the straw and she once again savors the sweet treat then he takes a drink of his own beverage. "You know what kid, you and I should make this a weekly adventure. You're a cheap date, a few chicken fingers and you're happy and you get to drink pop, it works out well for both of us." Katherine puts out her tiny hand wanting more fries and just as Mulder is handing her a few more he hears a heated argument going on in the kitchen of the restaurant. He pauses for a few moments and hears the voice of the girl that waited on him along with some unknown male voice. The level grows louder, as does Mulder's concern along with many of the restaurant's patrons.

"Stop it! You're hurting me!" Rings out from behind the door.

Mulder leans over and taps an elderly woman, who is eating with her husband, on the shoulder. "Excuse me ma'am but if you'll watch my daughter for a few minutes I'll go see what's going on in the back."

The shaken woman looks up at the federal agent. "Yes, by all means do." Her husband gets up to go and sit with Katherine.

Mulder pats his daughter's curly head and kisses her cheek then heads toward the kitchen. He slowly pushes the door open to find that the elderly cook is huddled in fear near the stove. Beside the back door he spots a wiry, dark haired man in a tank top, his arms covered in tattoos. He can't be much more than five feet tall but Mulder can tell he's built for street fighting. The man has the girl who waited on Mulder around the neck with his arm bent under her chin and her arm bent behind her back. Mulder can see the fear in the girl's eyes.

"Who is this Teresa, the dick you been sleepin' with?" The man screams at her when he spots Mulder.

"No Barry! I swear I haven't been sleepin' around on you. I been workin'." Teresa looks over at the old cook. "Tell him pop, I been workin'."

The cook nods his head and manages to mumble, "That's... that's right." Mulder squares his shoulders. "I'm just a customer, Barry. I've never met this woman before." He stays calm. "It's just that you're so loud that I came back to investigate."

"Investigate?" Barry laughs. "What are you some kind of cop?"

"Actually I'm an FBI Agent," Mulder coolly says. "Now let Teresa go, you're hurting her."

"You think?" Barry smirks as he tightens his grip on the girl causing her to scream out in pain.

Mulder lunges for Teresa as she screams, "He's got a gun."

Mulder feels the white-hot bullet enter his body. He crumples to the floor unsure if the man will shoot him again but there is no further volley. All he can hear is the back door slamming and Teresa's screams.

The dining room is filled with pandemonium as patrons struggle to get out of the restaurant doors.

Mulder is fighting to remain conscious but he's losing the battle. He can hear sirens in the background but even those are beginning to fade.

The EMS races toward DC General carrying one severely injured FBI Agent. "Base this is unit ten, we have one male patient, victim of a gunshot wound to the upper right leg, no exit wound was noted. Due to the amount of blood lost we have compression pants on him and have started two IV's pushing saline. BP is 90 over 40 pulse is 110 and thready. He's beginning to show signs of shock. ETA is five minutes. The EMT clicks off his microphone. "Hal, check this guys pockets for ID, all I could get out of the girl was he's an FBI Agent."

"Wanna bet he just said that to scare the guy," Hal says as he checks Mulder's pockets. "Got it! Well I'll be damn, he is FBI, Special Agent Fox Mulder."

The EMS is backing up to the trauma center doors. Two men in scrubs pull the backdoor open as soon as the unit comes to a halt. Mulder is unloaded and begins to call out, "Katherine, Katherine."

"Must be his wife," one of the attendants says.

Hal begins to read from Mulder's drivers license. "Fox Mulder, age 42."

"He's been in here before," a nurse yells, "someone check for his records."

"Any next of kin listed?" A male voice asks.

"Yup got it here," Hal says. "Dana Scully, oops that's no Katherine." Hal raises his eyebrows as the assembled group takes a moment to look at one another then begins to work on Mulder once more. "Better call this Dana Scully, let them straighten it out once she gets here."

Scully and William along with twenty-two other children and parents have just climbed off the African Safari train when her cell phone rings. She stops to place her sunglasses up on her head then answers her phone. "Scully."

"Yes, this is Dana Scully," Scully frowns. "Who is this?"

"DC Gen..."

"Yes, of course I know him, he's my husband, what's happened?"

Maggie over hears her daughter and picks up William carrying him to where Scully is standing. Scully listens intently as she absentmindedly runs her free hand up and down her arm that's holding the phone. Her eyes begin to brim with tears and she brings her hand to her lips. She glances up at her son, who after all the sun block she slathered on him, still managed to sun burn his nose and cheeks. "I'll be right there, yes you have my permission. Thank you." She closes her phone and tilts her head and covers her mouth with her hand.

"Dana, what's happened?" Maggie anxiously asks.

"Mulder's been shot."

"How! I thought he was home with Katherine."

"Katherine!" Scully gasps. "I forgot to ask about her. Mom can you watch William for me?"

"Of course, Dana."

Scully kisses her mom and her son then runs toward the entrance to the zoo.

"Get him to X-rays, he's been stabilized."

"Katherine, Katherine," Mulder tries to say through the oxygen mask that covers his face.

"Mr. Mulder, who is Katherine," a nurse yells to get his attention.

Mulder's eyes fly open, "She's my daughter."

"Was she with you?" The nurse continues to question.

"Yes, she was in the dining room with me, she's only a year old."

The nurse looks up at the doctor searching for an answer to Mulder's question but the doctor just shakes his head slightly. "I'll do some checking," the nurse reassures Mulder before she leaves his side.

"Okay Mr. Mulder, we're taking you up to x-ray. We've contacted your wife."

Mulder drifts off. One of the techs laughs, "I was wondering what he was doing with a pair of Barbie sunglasses in his shirt pocket."

Scully races through the heavy traffic toward the hospital with her heart in her throat. "Mulder, what were you doing?" She mumbles under her breath, "And where is Katherine?"

A man dressed in green scrubs looks at a CT scan. "The bullet seems to have lodged itself in the Vastus Lateralis muscle and appears to have nicked the femoral artery." The surgeon turns around and yells, "Let's get him prepped, and make sure we have plenty of blood on hand, he's going to need it."

Scully wheels into the parking lot of DC General, she's been here so often that she knows where to find the best parking spaces. She slams the SUV into park and races for the doors leading to the trauma center. She runs toward the first person in scrubs she sees. "My part... I mean my husband was brought in with a gunshot wound, Fox Mulder. Please can you tell me how he is?"

The female nurse takes Scully by the arm. "Hang on Mrs. Mulder, I'll get the ER doctor who treated him."

The nurse turns to find the doctor but Scully stops her. "Can you tell me how my daughter Katherine is?"

The nurse walks over to the trauma center desk and looks at the admissions list. "I'm sorry Mrs. Mulder but no child has been brought in?" The nurse looks down the list once more and frowns. "Maybe she was listed as an adult, is she married?"

Scully's eyes grow wide. "Hardly, she's only fifteen months old! She was with her father," Scully sighs and rubs her forehead, "or at least I thought she was."

A tall, dark haired man walks toward Scully with his hand out. "I'm Doctor Lightfoot, I examined your husband in the ER."

"I'm Doctor Dana Scully."

The doctor looks puzzled. "Sorry I thought you were the wife."

"Yes I am but I kept my maiden name for work." Scully is growing frustrated. "Please, just tell me how Mulder is!"

"Agent Mulder was shot with a nine millimeter semi-automatic at close range. He was stabilized and taken to surgery where they are removing the bullet from his upper right thigh and repairing a nick in the femoral artery. He's on the fourth floor, surgical wing."

"Doctor, can you tell me how he was injured?"

Dr. Lightfoot looks down at the small, worried woman in front of him. "It's my understanding that Agent Mulder was eating in a restaurant when a fight broke out between a girl and her boyfriend in the kitchen. He tried to intervene and was shot by the boyfriend."

Scully is frantic now. "Can you tell me the name of the restaurant? Our fifteen month old daughter was with him and now she's missing."

"Oh dear," the doctor frowns. "Come with me and we'll check at the desk." Scully and the doctor walk to the ER admissions desk. The tall man leans over the counter. "Sara, can you tell me where paramedics picked Agent Mulder up at?"

The nurse flips through what is already a considerable amount of paperwork on Mulder. "Here it is, McKibbins on 74th Street."

Scully turns and pulls out her cell phone and begins to punch numbers as she nears the elevator. Just as the doors open she says, "Frohike..."

"Byers, Langley, get in here now!" An agitated Melvin Frohike barks out.

"Now what?" Langley questions as he shoves his glasses up onto his nose.

"Katherine is missing," Frohike informs his roommates as he begins to cram equipment into a duffel bag.

"Katherine," Byers frowns then his face lights up. "Oh you mean Katherine Mulder, Mulder and Scully's kid!"

"Missing?" Langley asks. "Maybe she took off from that day care like Will did."

Frohike takes a step toward Langley. "You idiot, she is only a year old." He walks to the large junk table in the middle of the room and grabs his vest. "Scully called and said Mulder was watching the kid, the two of them apparently were in the restaurant where Mulder broke up some sort of altercation and in the process got himself shot in the leg."

"Oh my!" Byers groans. "Is he gonna be okay?"

"Yeah, Scully said he was in surgery and should be out soon but in all the chaos Katherine came up missing," Frohike says as he continues to stuff cameras and binoculars into his bag.

"What are we standing around here for?" Langley yells. "Let's go!"

The three friends head for the door but not before grabbing more equipment.

(continued) (Disclaimers and Headers in Part A)

Scully finds the surgical wing waiting room and has just called Skinner to report Katherine missing when she looks up to see Mulder's face on the TV that is suspended from the ceiling. She runs to the screen and turns up the sound. She watches as Mulder is loaded into the ambulance. The reporter confirms that an off-duty FBI Agent was shot while attempting to break up a domestic fight. Scully scans the scene for any sign of her daughter but finds none. She lowers her head as fat tears roll down her cheeks. She turns around to find the room is filled with people watching her. She wipes at her eyes with her hands and walks out of the room preferring to pace the hallway as she waits on news concerning Mulder and worries about where Katherine might be.

Anxious minutes pass as Scully watches relieved family members pass by on their way to visit their own loved ones in recovery. Her cell phone rings and she fumbles to get it out of her pocket. "Scully," she answers her voice filled with tension.

"Scully, it's Skinner. I've just come from the first news station that was on scene at the shooting. I was hoping that there might be some sign of the baby on the video tape." Skinner pauses. "I'm sorry but there is no evidence of Katherine anywhere."

Scully stands in stunned silence.

"Scully, Scully are you there," a concerned Skinner inquires.

"I'm here," Scully flatly answers.

"Look, I know it's not much but we've got authorities combing the area looking for her."

"Thanks," Scully softly says trying to gulp back the tears.

"I did get word a few minutes ago that they have arrested the shooter. He had a rap sheet a mile long."

"Figures," is all Scully can say.

"Look I'd better go, the news crew wants to interview me concerning Katherine."

"Thanks," Scully says as she shut her phone.

"Mrs. Mulder?" A small Oriental woman dressed in animal print scrubs calls out.

"Yes," Scully replies.

"Mrs. Mulder, I am Doctor Lea Young and I assisted on your husbands surgery."

"How is he?" Scully tentatively asks.

"He's being taken to recovery. He came through the surgery just fine. You can go up in a few minutes."

"Thank you," Scully softly says as her eyes brim with tears.

The doctor takes her by the arm and reassures her, "Don't worry he did great."

Scully nods her head knowing full well that Mulder isn't her only concern right now. She steps onto the elevator that will take her up the two floors to the recovery room. She looks down and realizes she is still wearing the khaki shorts, white tank top and sandals she put on this morning, out of her heels she feels small and vulnerable. She steps off the elevator and heads to the bank of pay phones outside of the recovery area. "Hello mom, it's Dana," Scully says trying her best to remain composed. "I, ah, I need you to bring me some clothes, something more business like than my shorts and Tee."

Scully listens to her mother's response but her thoughts are elsewhere.

"Yes, he's out of surgery. I'm going to see him now." Maggie says something further to Scully. "He took Katherine out to eat and..." Scully begins to break up, "and he got involved in a domestic and was shot but mom... we, we can't find Katherine!" Now she is sobbing. "Skinner has everyone out looking for her, I, I don't know what to do."

Scully listens as tears roll down her cheeks and her nose begins to run. She wipes her face on the back of her hand and hitches her breath. "I know mom, I know, please don't cry, I don't want William to be upset."

"Mrs. Mulder," a nurse inquires.

"Yes," Scully responds as she holds the phone to her chest and once more wipes her eyes.

"You can go in now, but only for a few minutes."

"Thank you," Scully nods then returns to her mother. "Look mom, I have to go, I'll call you later."

Scully puts her head down and softly replies, "I love you too and give my love to William."

Scully hangs up the phone and walks past the nurses' station; she glances over to see Skinner's face on the little TV behind the counter. "Can you turn that up?" She asks one of the nurses watching the set.

"She's fifteen months old with dark hair and eyes..."

A nurse looks over. "She's your baby isn't she?"

"Yes, she is," Scully softly says holding her fingers to her trembling lips as she wraps her other hand around her waist.

A tall brunette comes around the counter and puts her hand on Scully's back. "Come on, I'll take you to see your husband."

Scully spent a few moments in recovery with Mulder. He acknowledged her presence then fell back to sleep before he could question Katherine's where about, something Scully knew he was not up to hearing yet.

Scully is just leaving Mulder in recovery when her cell phone rings. She quickly leaves the room and moves down to the end of the hall to a large window. "Scully."

"Scully, it's Melvin."

"Frohike, have you found out anything?" Scully hopefully asks.

"Sorry Scully, it's like she disappeared off the face of the earth...oh sorry, I didn't mean to imply."

"I know Frohike, it's okay. I just hope some earthly predator doesn't have her."

"We were able to sneak Byers into the crime scene with fake credentials but other than over turned chairs and spilt food, he saw no sign of Katherine. There was a highchair at one of the tables but that's about it," Frohike says in a hushed tone.

Scully sighs and rubs her forehead with the heel of her hand wishing that this nightmare really were just a nightmare. "Thanks for trying anyway."

"We'll keep looking, you know us we get our man or in this case our baby." Frohike grows quiet. "Scully, we do consider Will and Katherine our kids too."

Scully begins to sob quietly.

"Well, um, I'd better go so we can hit the streets."

Scully nods but can't speak she simply closes her phone. A nurse approaches offering her a box of tissues, Scully takes several and sits down on the arm of a nearby couch as she tries to regain her composure. Not only is her daughter missing but also her support in times like these is lying in a bed with a gunshot wound.

The nurse who had earlier taken her to see Mulder walks over. "Mrs. Mulder."

"Please, call me Dana," Scully says as she blows her nose.

"Dana, we're taking Fox to his own room now. You can find him on the fifth floor in a few minutes." The nurse pauses then adds, "I hope they find your little girl soon."

"Me too," Scully nervously laughs as she tucks her hair behind her ear. She spots a restroom and goes in to try to freshen up before seeing Mulder again.

"Gumma, why aw we takin' ma mom some cose?" William asks from his car seat.

"Your daddy got hurt, William and mom had to go to the hospital to be with him and she needs something nice to wear."

Will looks out his side window as they rush past houses and shops headed for the hospital. "Ah was in da hopsiple when ah boke ma ahm."

"Yes, you were," Maggie replies as she glances back at her grandson.

"An' Kat-run was wiff me!" Will exclaims. "An' now she's wiff da-dee," he laughs, unaware that his sister is missing.

"Let's hope so," Maggie says under her breath as she wheels into the hospital parking lot.

"You can see him now," the nurse tells Scully as she paces the corridor.

Scully starts down the hall when a voice calls out from the nurse's station, "Dana, Dana Scully."

"Yes, that's me." Scully rushes to the desk.

"Phone," the nurse says as she holds it out.

Scully has hopes of it being good news. "Scully."

"Agent Scully, I'm Detective Hanford with DCPD, when do you think I might be able to speak with Agent Mulder?"

Scully shakes her head, rolls her eyes and is about to rip into the guy when she realizes he's just doing his job. "I'm not sure detective, you might want to check with his doctor."

"I'll do that and thanks," the detective says before hanging up.

Scully turns and walks down the hallway toward Mulder's room when she hears the elevator doors open. "I'm sure this is the right floor," an elderly man says.

"I still don't think you're right," the old woman with him replies.

For some unknown reason Scully turns around to see that the old man is holding the baby. "Katherine!" She screams and races toward her daughter.

The old man puts his arm up to shield the baby. "Who are you?" He frowns.

Katherine begins to yell, "Ma, ma, ma," and puts out her arms.

"I guess that answers my question," the man laughs as he turns the baby over to her mother.

Scully hugs her tight as Katherine looks around the room. "Where did you find her?"

"We've had her all along," the woman answers. "Oh me," she says. "Where are my manners. I'm Opal Dale and this is my husband Everett."

Scully kisses the baby's head as the floor nurse's realize what's going on and all gather around. "I don't understand? You've had her all this time?" Scully asks.

"See Mrs. Mulder, we were eating next to your husband and daughter when there was a commotion in the kitchen. Your husband asked us to keep an eye on the baby while he went to check things out," Mrs. Dale tells Scully.

At this point Everett takes over. "I moved over to sit next to her so she wouldn't be afraid."

Scully glances down at her daughter who is laying her head on her shoulder while playing with the tiny cross around her neck.

"The next thing we heard was screaming and a gun shot, so we got out of there as fast as we could. We got in our car and waited with the baby but when we saw her father being brought out on a stretcher well we just kept her."

Opal jumps in, "Everett doesn't mean we kept her like we were not going to return her."

"My land no," Everett corrects. "We just didn't trust no one with her so we took her home and fed and changed her."

"I keep diapers at the house," Opal laughs, "I've got twenty-one grandkids and great grandkids. I'm always prepared."

"Then we saw Agent Mulder on TV and figured we'd find the baby's family here."

Scully puts out her hand. "I want to thank you for taking such good care of Katherine."

"Katherine, huh," Everett says. "We wondered what her name was."

At the mention of her name Katherine turns her head and gives the old man a toothy grin before putting her head back down on her mother's shoulder.

"How is Agent Mulder?" Opal asks.

"He came through the surgery just fine in fact I'm on my way to see him."

"Well don't let us keep you," Everett says.

Suddenly there is a noise coming from the direction of the elevators. Maggie Scully steps off with William beside her carrying Scully's tote bag. Maggie spots her granddaughter and rushes toward the baby.

William grunts and groans. "Mom, hew aw yew cose and days heaby!"

Everyone in the room laughs as William blushes.

Maggie takes Katherine from Scully and kisses her cheek. "Where did they find her?"

Scully motions toward the elderly couple standing beside her. "Mulder had Opal and Everett here watch her while he went to the kitchen to investigate."

Maggie offers the Dale's her hand. "I want to thank you for taking care of my granddaughter. We were so worried about her."

Scully bends down to take her bag from William and sets it on the floor then picks up her son. "And this is Katherine's older brother William."

Will shyly chews on his fingers and tilts his head. "Ah wanna see ma dad."

Scully brushes back his hair. "Soon, you can see him soon."

The Dale's turn around to leave and Scully stops them. "Mr. Dale did you make a statement to the police yet?"

"No," he says looking at his wife, "we didn't see anything."

"They will still want a statement," Scully informs the couple.

Mr. Dale takes his wife by the elbow. "I'll stop off at a police station on our way home."

"That will do just fine, and Everett and Opal thanks once again for taking care of Katherine."

"It was our pleasure," Opal assures Scully. "And I hope Agent Mulder gets better."

"I'm sure he will," Scully says as she hugs her son to her.

The Dales disappear into the elevator.

"Have you seen Fox yet?" Maggie asks her daughter.

"Just in recovery, I was about to go in when the Dale's arrived with Katherine."

Scully walks to the nurse's desk. "May I use the phone? I need to let my boss know that my daughter has been returned."

Scully places her call to Skinner knowing full well that the Gunmen will get the news through the police frequencies that they monitor.

The door to Fox Mulder's room is slowly opened. Mulder looks over to see the bright faces of his two children. He sits up slightly as the two tots tentatively approach his bed. "Hey guys, what are you two doing here?" He rasps out.

"We wanna come see you," William softly says causing Mulder's face to break out in a huge grin.

"Where's mom?" He croaks out as Katherine grabs the metal railing on the bed and peeks in at her father.

"I'm right here," Scully beams as she enters the room followed by her mom.

Mulder puts his hand through the railing and runs his fingers through Katherine's soft, brown curls.

Scully instinctively offers him a drink that he readily accepts.

"Ah wanna a dwink too!" William pipes up as Katherine puts out her hand also wanting a drink. Mulder chuckles and lays his head back down on the pillow.

Maggie steps up. "How about Will, Katherine and I go to the cafeteria for some juice?"

"Yeah!" Will quickly agrees while Katherine watches her brother in confused silence.

Maggie picks up the baby. "We'll be back soon, I'm sure you two have a lot to talk about."

Mulder frowns, "What'd she mean by that?"

Scully lowers the rail and takes Mulder's hand. "She means you need to just get better." She brushes back Mulder's hair, something he finds settling and soothing. He begins to flag and soon falls asleep.

Scully sits down in a chair next to his bed; a nurse comes in and lifts the blanket from the foot of the bed. "I'm just checking his circulation," she smiles.

"I know, I'm a medical doctor," Scully says then gets up from the chair. "Do you think I could see his charts?" "I don't see why not, but it would be better if you cleared it with the head nurse."

"Thank you, I'll do that."

Scully is reading Mulder's chart at the nurses' station when Skinner and the Gunman step off the elevator.

"Did you all ride together?" Scully asks with a smile.

The Gunman all look at Skinner and he looks back at them then everyone answers, "Of course not!" Scully laughs and lays the chart down.

"Where did they find Katherine?" Byers asks first.

Scully pushes her hair back behind her ear and walks over to the bag of clothing Will had struggled with earlier. She grabs it and turns to face the guys. "It seems when Mulder heard what was going on in the kitchen he asked an elderly couple at a nearby table to keep an eye on Katherine for him, but when the shooting started the couple fled the restaurant and took Katherine with them. When they saw Mulder's picture on the news they brought her here hoping to find her family."

"Aw that was nice," Byers says.

"Bet you were scared shitless," Langley adds.

"Watch it Langley, we are in a hospital," Frohike reprimands.

"How's Mulder?" Skinner asks.

Scully looks back over her shoulder at her partner's room. "He came through the surgery fine. He's sleeping now." She looks at the quartette assembled before her. "Would one of you mind sitting with him while I go change clothes."

"I'd rather go with you," Frohike leers while everyone, including Skinner, groans.

Scully has changed her clothes and ran a comb through her hair; she had to laugh when she found her pajama top in the bottom of the bag; it had to be the work of her son.

She slowly opens the door to Mulder's room and is surprised to find not only Skinner but also the Gunman, her mom and William and Katherine. The adults are all quietly watching Mulder sleep. If it hadn't been such a serious occasion Scully would have laughed out loud.

A nurse comes in to check on Mulder and is stunned by the number of visitors the agent has in his room. "What's going on here?" She softly barks out. "About ninety percent of you need to leave. This man has just had surgery and needs time to recuperate."

Skinner and the Gunman look contrite while Katherine and William are having fun under the bed. "I'll check back in the morning Scully," Skinner softly says as he starts to leave the room.

"We really should be going too," Byers says.

"Yeah, we have a big case we're working on," Langley adds.

"What big case is that?" Byers questions.

"Will you two just come on," Frohike says but not before giving Scully the once over and adding, "Nice threads."

Maggie walks over and kisses her daughter. "Dana, I should be going too. Do you want me to keep the kids tonight?"

"No," Scully answers. "We won't stay long and tonight I want them with me."

"I understand," Maggie smiles and leaves the room.

"Sorry 'bout that," the nurse apologizes.

"Don't worry about it, it's in Mulder's best interest."

The nurse runs through all the routine tests and checkups, recording each finding as she does, while Scully makes William and Katherine come out from under the bed. "Come on you two, we need to tell your dad goodbye and go home."

The nurse leaves the room and Scully finally has the kids out from under the bed. She is brushing the dust bunnies off William's shorts when Mulder speaks. "Scully, don't go yet," he softly says.

Scully's head jerks up. "Mulder, you're awake?"

"I've been awake but didn't feel like facing that crowd, although I do want you to remind me to kick Frohike's ass when I'm up and around."

Scully laughs as she lifts Katherine up then says, "Oh no, I hope I can find a diaper around here somewhere." She starts to leave the room when Mulder calls her back. "Scully, can you set Will up here next to me?"

She pauses for a moment to consider Mulder's request. "Okay, but William you mustn't move around, your dad is sore and you might hurt him.

"He'll be fine," Mulder assures her as she lifts William up to sit next to his father. "I'll be right back," Scully tells the two men in her life as she carries the baby out of the room.

William looks over at his dad and softly says, "Hi."

Mulder grins at him. "Hi, how was the zoo?"

"Fine." William isn't quite sure what to say.

"Did you see the lions?"

"Yup, an' da tigors too. Did you bake yor ahm?"

"No Will, I didn't break my arm like you did."

Will runs his finger over the IV tube that runs from the drip bag. "Does dat hewt?"

"No, not really."

"Oh," Will replies. "Did you bake yor foot?"

"No Will, not like your sister did."

"Oh," Will says.

"A man shot me in the leg," Mulder confesses.

"Wuz he a mean man?"

"Yes he was a very, mean man."

"Oh," Will replies as Mulder smiles at him. "Kno' wha'?" William asks as he twists his fingers up in the hem of his shirt.

"What?" Mulder asks.

"Pee-ie gots to pet a s'ake at da zoo!"

"He did!"

"Yup," Will says wide-eyed then frowns. "Ah did wan' a pet it!"

"Why not?" Mulder questions

"It migh' bite me!" Will exclaims.

"I don't think they would let Petie pet a snake that would bite him."

"Da s'ake had a fu-ee lil' tongue!" Will and Mulder both laugh and yawn.

Scully returns to find both Mulder and William fast asleep, "Great, now how am I going to get him out of here with Katherine to carry?" She mumbles.


The hospital doors open and out steps Scully carrying William while a nurse trails behind her pushing Katherine in a wheelchair, something the baby seems to enjoy.

The ride home is a quiet one, both kids are asleep and all Scully wants to do is crawl into her own bed although she does regret Mulder won't be sharing it with her tonight.

She wheels the SUV into the driveway and on into the garage then turns off the vehicle and shuts the door. She tiredly crawls out and opens the side door, quickly unbuckling Katherine and taking her into the family room where she lays the baby down in the playpen then William is the next one brought in. She lays him on the couch then locks the door to the garage, checks the alarm system, and turns on the stairway light. She carries William upstairs and lays him on her bed then returns for Katherine.

She strips both kids down to their underwear and puts a pull up on Will as she usually does at night. Neither kids wakes up so she pulls back the blanket and sheet and lays each child down then covers them up. William curls up into the little ball that he always sleeps in while Katherine mimics her father and sprawls all over the bed. She stares down at two of the loves in her life and thinks of another one lying in a hospital bed across town. She walks over and adjusts the thermostat before quickly shedding her clothing before heading to the bathroom to grab a shower.

She finishes towel drying her hair as she shuts off the bathroom lights and stops in her tracks unsure why she put her children in her bed. She slowly shakes her head as a smile crosses her face. She picks up the phone and rings the night nurse to check on Mulder before sliding into bed with her kids.

Scully is lying in bed still unconscious with sleep when she feels something on her face and one of her eyes being pried open. She brushes it away, but once again her eye is being pried open. She finally comes to and finds a set of big, blue eyes just inches from her face. William is sitting beside her with Katherine sitting next to him. A grin covers his face when he realizes his mother is awake. "Ah hun-gee mom," he announces.

Scully moans and sits up on her elbows. "What time is it?" She croaks out then looks over at the clock. Her eyes widen. "9:30! It can't be, I can see why you two are hungry." She gets out of bed and directs Will to use the potty while she changes Katherine.

The kids are quickly dressed then the front doorbell rings. "Ah get it!" William screams and takes off out of the room before Scully can grab him.

"William, don't you open that door until I see who's there!" Scully yells as she scoops up Katherine and trails after her son.

William looks out the panel window next to the door and turns back. "Is gumma!" He yells over his shoulder.

Scully is finally in the foyer and lets her mom in. "Hi mom, you're just who I need."

"I called earlier but there was no answer so I came over to work on the carpet." "The carpet?" Scully frowns.

"The one in the family room," Maggie replies then smiles. "You haven't seen it yet?"

"No," Scully says as she turns on her heels to go check out the carpet.

"I figured you would be too busy with Fox today and I was going to try to get the.."

Scully stops at the entrance to the family room and sets Katherine down on her feet. She slowly looks over the huge black spot on her cream colored carpet. "My carpet!" She exclaims then groans, "And where is my plant." Finally all the puzzle pieces fall into place and she looks at her daughter. "Katherine, you have been in my plants again, haven't you?"

The baby merely walks to the empty planter and looks in. Maggie covers her mouth with her hand and tries not to laugh then looks over at her daughter. "Dana, why aren't you dressed yet?"

"Crap!" Scully replies as she looks down at herself.

"Mom, Ah hun-gee!" William once again announces as he tugs on his mother's nightshirt.

Maggie side steps the worst of the dirty patches and picks up Katherine. "Honey, you go get dressed, I'll feed these two then we can all go see Fox."

"Okay but injured or not he's got some explaining to do," Scully huffs as she leaves the room.

"I'm sure he does," Maggie mumbles as she leads Will into the kitchen.

One hour later Scully can be seen carrying Katherine off the elevator on Mulder's floor followed by Maggie and William who has decided he would rather hop than walk. "William, if you don't hurry up you're going to be left behind," Scully warns.

"Ah comin'," Will grouches.

Scully stops at the nurse's station, "I'm here for Fox Mulder, can you tell me how his night was?"

The day nurse looks up from her paper work, "And you are?"

Scully is ready to snap her head off after years of practicing on other unsuspecting health care workers then it dawns on her the woman hasn't met her yet. "I'm his wife, Dana," she calmly answers.

The nurse smiles back at her. "He did just fine."

Scully frowns. "This is Fox Mulder we're talking about right?"

"Yes," the nurse replies. "Why?"

"Because he rarely has fine nights in the hospital, usually by this time the staff has his bags packed and sitting outside his door."

The nurse laughs. "I assure you he did just fine. He finished his breakfast and I'm sure he would like to see you."

"Thank you," Scully says as she sets Katherine down and takes her by the hand.

Mulder is sitting up in bed, free from all the IV's and monitors, he looks up and smiles. "My four favorite people," he says making Maggie day.

"Hi da-dee!" William yells as he runs around the bed. "Ah wanna sit wiff you."

"Tell mom to lift you up here." Scully lifts Will up and sets him down beside Mulder then Katherine toddles over and puts up her hands.

"Talk about spoiled," Scully gripes as she puts the baby in bed with her father.

"They are not!" Mulder defends.

"I was talking about you," Scully jokes.

Maggie watches the interplay going on between her daughter and her son-in-law with great joy.

Mulder places his arm over his kid's heads, "Scully, the doc thinks they'll spring me today."

"I don't know Mulder, you can't climb the stairs to go to bed."

"I can sleep on my couch, I did for years, and there is a bathroom just off the office and the kitchen is down the hall. I've got everything every man needs," he grins.

"Well, we'll see."

Mulder looks over at Maggie. "Was she always this hard-headed?"

"Oh no, you're not dragging me into this," Maggie laughs.

Mulder looks down at his two namesakes. William is playing with the TV remote while Katherine is entertaining herself looking at the plastic hospital bracelet on her father's wrist.

"How's the leg?" Scully asks.

"Better, the pain meds help."

"So you feel up to talking?"

"I guess so, there isn't much to tell really."

"Oh I think you've got lots to tell me."

Mulder is confused by Scully's statement. He looks at Maggie who has the beginnings of a smile crossing her face.

"Well," Mulder stammers, "what do you want to know?"

Scully pauses for a moment as if she's deep in thought then says, "How did Katherine get dirt all over the family room floor?"

"Ohh," Mulder groans as he plops his head back down on the pillow shutting his eyes. "Scully suddenly I don't feel so good. I think I need to spend a few more days or weeks in hospital."

Scully huffs out a laugh and shakes her head. "No you don't, I want you home with me, and William, and our little plant killer."

~ 31 Home Coming ~

It's been one hour since Fox Mulder was released from the hospital. While breaking up a domestic fight he was shot in the thigh and in all the chaos he lost his daughter Katherine. An elderly couple, which had been dining at the same restaurant when Mulder was shot, brought the baby to the hospital where she was reunited with her family. Little did Scully know Katherine wouldn't be the only baby around the house for the next few days.

"Scully, I can walk just leave me alone," an agitated Fox Mulder barks.

"Mulder, if you fall on your ass you'll be in a wheelchair not on crutches."

"Scully, no one breaks their ass and even if it were possible I doubt that I would be sitting in a wheelchair on a broken ass!"

Scully rolls her eyes and leaves Mulder to his own devices while she unbuckles Will from his car seat, which he immediately flees from. Katherine is the next to be released. She too scrambles out of the SUV. "You two wait on the porch," Scully hollers out to Will and Katherine. Will runs up the steps while Katherine crawls up.

Mulder has managed to step from the passengers side of Scully's SUV and is leaning on his crutches.

Scully folds her arms across her chest and frowns. "I think you should have stayed one more day."

"Scully," Mulder huffs as she takes a step, "you know me and hospitals just don't mix."

"I don't know why not," Scully says as she shuts the door behind him, "you've been in enough of them."

Mulder makes his way to the steps and stands there contemplating. Scully opens the front door and Will and Katherine scurry in. She pokes her head in the door. "William, make sure Katherine stays out of the plants."

Mulder lets that little dig pass he has more important things on his mind like how to get up the three now huge porch steps that loom in front of him.

Scully returns to the SUV to gather up Mulder's belongings. She looks up to see Mulder has turned around. "Mulder, what are you doing?"

"I'm trying to bake a cake, what does it look like I'm doing?" He snaps as he leans on the crutches and hops up on the first step backwards.

Scully closes the door and sets the bags down on the driveway. "Here let me help you."

"No, no, I think I've got it figured out."

Will appears at Mulder's side followed by his sister. "Dad, wha' ya doin'?" Will asks as he gives Mulder the once over.

"I'm trying to get up the steps son," Mulder grunts out as he jumps up onto the second step. Will laughs and steps down the step then jumps backwards up to the next one and on up to the porch. "Dats fun!" The little boy exclaims.

Scully holds back a laugh as she sees Mulder do a slow burn. He finally hops up the third and last step. By now sweat is pouring down his face and Will has jumped up the three steps again while Katherine crawls up on the porch.

Mulder turns around on the crutches and maneuvers his way through the door while Scully picks up Katherine and turns back toward Will. "William, can you grab the bag for me?"

Will hops down the steps and drags the bag back with him grunting and groaning all the way into the house.

Scully shuts the door and sets Katherine down then picks up Mulder's bag. She finds him sitting on the edge of the couch.

She pulls the hassock from in front of the glider to the couch. Mulder slides back on the couch as Scully places the hassock under his injured leg. Mulder lets out a huge puff of air.

"I'll be right back Mulder, it's time for your meds," Scully says as she leaves the room.

Will crawls up on the couch to sit next to Mulder. "How come you got 'jamas on?" The little boy asks.

"Because my leg is sore and my jeans would rub it."

Will turns to look at his father. "You cud wea' a suwt."

Mulder chuckles. "I don't think that would be very comfortable."

Scully comes in with a handful of pills, a glass of water, and a wet washcloth. "Here takes these, drink this, and I figured you could use this," she says as she hands him the cloth.

"Unt dink," Katherine says with her hands out.

"Another new word, huh kiddo!" Mulder grins then drinks most of the water but saves a few ounces for his daughter. Katherine accepts the offered water and smacks her lips in delight.

"Come on you two, your dad needs to get some rest and you need to be fed." Scully herds her two little ones out of the office. "Scully," Mulder calls out.

"What?" Scully says as she pokes her head around the corner.

"Could you hand me the TV remote?"

"Sure," Scully answers as she retrieves the remote from Mulder's desktop. "Anything else before I go?"

Mulder starts to shake his head 'no' and Scully starts to leave when he calls out, "Scully."

"Yes," she once more says from around the corner.

"Could you fix me a sandwich and maybe some juice?"

Scully laughs. "Mulder, I was going to fix lunch for all of us." She leaves the room and Mulder hears, "Katherine, what have you done?"

Will runs into the office laughing. "Kat-run gots 'tatoes all ober!"

Mulder smiles. "Why didn't you stop her?"

"Ah didn' wan' to!" Will laughs as he scrambles onto the couch to sit next to his father.

"William!" Scully calls out.

Will looks up at his father. "You had better go see what mom wants."

"Okay," Will replies scrambling off the couch. He turns around and looks at Mulder. "Ah be bock."

"Okay Arnold," Mulder laughs.

Scully has thrown together a quick lunch of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the kids. Katherine is already seated in her highchair eating. Will comes in as Scully is taking Mulder his ham and cheese sandwich.

"Here you go Mulder and I'll bring in your juice after I pour the kids some." Scully turns around to find Will slipping past her. "Whoa, whoa, whoa, where are you going?"

Will clutches his strawberry jelly, peanut butter, minus the crust sandwich in his little hands. "Ah'm gonna eat wiff da-dee."

"William you..." before Scully can finish Katherine begins to bawl. "I'll be right back." She leaves the room and Will manages to crawl up on the couch without crushing his sandwich then settles in next to Mulder.

"What are you eating Will?" Mulder asks between bites of his sandwich.

William looks down at the sandwich in his hands. "Is pee-ut budder an' yelly." He takes a bit of it and replies around a mouthful, "Is good!"

Suddenly Katherine toddles in carrying her sandwich, her cheeks are red from crying but she has a grin on her face. "She got lonely," Scully smiles down at her daughter as she sets four glasses of juice on the end table then leaves to return with her own sandwich. She sits down on the hassock next to Mulder's foot then hands each child a drink of juice and offers Mulder his own glass.

"Scully, if I'm grounded to this couch for awhile I think we need to rearrange a few things so I'm not a burden to you."

"Mulder, you will not be a burden to me you are injured but I agree things do need to be rearranged."

Will takes his last bite and clears his throat of the last wad of peanut butter. "Kin Ah hab some mo'?"

"What do you say?" Scully corrects.


Scully starts for the kitchen and turns back, "Anyone else want anything?"

"I could use some more juice," Mulder says holding up his empty glass.

Scully finally makes it to the kitchen with William at her side.

Mulder looks down at his daughter who is munching away on her sandwich. "So we had quite an event filled lunch at the restaurant didn't we."

Katherine looks up at her father with her big, dark eyes and offers him a bite of her sandwich. Mulder takes a small nibble and the baby gives him a big, peanut butter covered toothy grin.

Will walks back in eating his second sandwich as Scully hands Mulder his juice.

"Thanks," he responds.

Once everyone has finished his or her meal Scully gathers up the dishes and takes them into the kitchen. She returns to find Mulder standing on his crutches. "Where are you going?"

"I need to use the can."

"Da can?" William questions.

"Dad has to go to the potty," Scully informs William.

Will skips behind Mulder. "Hey dad kin Ah go to da can wiff you?"

Scully shakes her head then picks up Katherine to clean her up.

While Mulder is in the 'can' Scully puts a sheet and several blankets and pillows on the couch, she also puts Will's little wooden table next to it.

Mulder comes out of the bathroom with Will at his side trying to help him by holding his crutch. "Scully, that looks comfy."

Scully smiles over her shoulder at him as she finishes straightening out his blanket. "Mulder, why don't I get you a clean pair of pajama bottoms and a t-shirt."

"Do I smell ripe?" He smiles at her.

"No," she answers as she pushes her hair behind her ear. "You might feel better in clean clothes that's all." Scully looks over to see William and his sister crawling up on the couch. "Hey you two, off, right now," she snaps while motioning with her thumb. Both kids immediately get down.

"Scully, I'm impressed," Mulder smiles.

"I've trained them well," Scully smugly smiles back at him.

Mulder is beginning to flag and Scully can tell he's tired. "Will can you fold back the blankets so dad can lay down?"

Will pitches in and pulls the blankets nearly off the couch before Scully can stop him.

Mulder slowly eases down onto the couch careful to protect his injured leg. He finally makes it to the prone position.

Scully pulls up the blanket, brushes back his hair, and kisses his forehead saying, "I am glad you're home."

Mulder lets a satisfied hum escape from his throat as he drifts off to sleep.

"Come on, let your dad sleep," Scully says as she takes Katherine by the hand while Will follows. She shuts out the lights in the office and pulls the pocket doors shut.

Scully picks up Katherine and carries her upstairs. "William, come play in your room while I get Katherine to lie down." Will dutifully follows his mother upstairs.

Scully carries Katherine to her own room and pulls off the sun suit she is dressed in and changes her diaper. She lays out a terry tank top and shorts set to dress her in after her nap. She carries the baby to the hallway where she peeks in on Will. He's sitting on the floor playing with the big ship his Uncle Bill gave him for his birthday. She creeps back into Katherine's room and begins to rock her daughter, making small talk as she does. The baby is soon fast asleep. Scully tucks her into her crib and kisses her cheek before leaving the room. She walks into William's room to find him soundly sleeping in the middle of the floor. She sits down next to her son and gently removes his shoes, then covers him up with a throw. She quietly leaves the room and heads back downstairs, finally having a few free minutes to herself.

Mulder opens his eyes to find a pair of bright blue, and a pair of dark brown eyes staring down at him. Will grins, "We not 'post ta wake you up."

"That's okay buddy, I'm awake," Mulder croaks out. "Will, can you ask mom if I can have some water."

"Okay!" Will excitedly says, glad to be of help. He races into the kitchen. "Mom, mom! Dad wunz a dwink an' Ah din't wake him up!"

Katherine continues to stare at her father then points to his foot. "Hewt?"

Mulder cups his daughter's head in his large hand. "No honey, my foot wasn't hurt like yours was."

"A bad man shoots dad in da yeg," Will interjects as he bounds in the room followed by his mother. She hands Mulder a glass of water and a handful of pills.

Mulder takes his meds and drinks down the water saving the last drop in the glass for Katherine. "Hey Scully, Katherine said just said 'hurt'."

"Way to go Katherine!" Scully says rubbing the baby's concave back.

The phone rings and Scully goes to the kitchen to answer it.

Mulder starts to get up; he reaches for his crutches but is just an inch or two short of grabbing them. "Ah hep you da-dee," Will offers as he tries to drag the crutch to his father. Mulder reaches out to help him while Katherine pitches in and lifts the end of the crutch. Finally, in spite of all the help he's receiving, Mulder manages to stand up.

"You goin' to da can da-dee?" William asks.

Mulder chuckles, "Yes Will, I'm going to the can."

"Ah hep you," William says as he gently puts his hand on Mulder's right crutch.

Mulder makes it to the bathroom door and realizes Katherine is trailing along. "Scully," he yells, "come and get her."

Scully hangs up the phone and finds her daughter standing in the bathroom doorway. She grabs up the baby and shoos William out too. "I could change now if you bring me some clothes."

"That was my mom, she's going to bring over some dinner, do you mind the company," Scully yells through the closed door.

"Scully your mom is not company, the guys are company, your mom is family, besides she'll bring dinner."

Scully grins at Mulder's last remark. "Mulder I should change your dressing."

Mulder leans against the sink and sighs, "Bring me some athletic shorts and you can change it in the office."

Scully runs to the laundry room and grabs Mulder some clean clothes.

Will has wandered into the family room to dig through his toy box. He pulls out a large plastic dump truck and begins to fill it with other toys.

"Mulder." Scully knocks on the bathroom door.

"Come on in." Scully finds Mulder still leaning against the sink. He blushes and stammers, "I, ah, I think I need some help here."

Scully has to smile at his awkwardness. "Mulder, I'm not only a medical doctor but I'm your wife, nothing I'll see should embarrass you."

"And people say the romance leaves after you're married," Mulder jokes.

Scully snickers as she helps him change. Katherine has found her rag doll in the pile of toys William has dragged out. She carries it into the office and puts it on the couch. Will follows her in pushing his truck filled with toys. He stops to look around for his father but he doesn't see him. He heads for the small bathroom and tries the doorknob but it's locked. "Da-dee wha' ya doin?" Will questions now with Katherine at his side.

"I'm kissing your mother," Mulder replies. Will can hear his mother's laughter.

"Anybody home?" Maggie Scully calls out from the foyer.

William races toward the sound of his grandmother's voice. "Hi gumma!" He cheerfully yells.

Maggie walks into the kitchen carrying a crock-pot. She sets it on the counter and looks around. Will crawls up on the two-step stool and onto the counter to look into the pot. "Where is your mother, William?"

"She in da can kissin' ma dad," Will answers nonplused as he looks into the crock-pot.

"What?" Maggie laughs. "Wuz dis gumma," Will asks pointing to the pot.

"Chicken and dumplings. William, where did you say your mom is?"

"I'm right here," Scully says as she walks in carrying Katherine.

"Hi honey, I was sure he said you were in the can kissing Fox," Maggie says as she takes the baby from her daughter.

"I was," Scully grins and wipes at her lips. "I have to change 'Fox's' dressing," she teases as she leaves to retrieve her medical supplies.

Maggie holds Katherine close to her. "I was so worried about you yesterday." She wanders into the office to find Mulder sitting on the couch with his foot on the hassock. "Hello Fox."

"Hi Maggie," Mulder says as he sits up a little straighter, an act that does not go unnoticed by her. She sits down in the glider-rocker and strokes Katherine's back as the baby pats her hands together.

"I was so afraid we had lost her for good yesterday," Maggie softly says looking down at her granddaughter.

"Lost her?" Mulder frowns and looks up in confusion at Scully as she enters the room.

Scully sits down on the floor next to Mulder. She begins to unwrap the bandages that cover the wound on his thigh. "Scully?" Mulder bends his head down to try to look into her eyes but she lowers her head.

"Oh dear!" Maggie exclaims. "Maybe I ..."

"No mom, it's okay," Scully says as she finally makes eye contact with Mulder. She sighs and begins, "Mulder, I was going to tell you but I wanted you to have some recovery time before I did."

Mulder remains silent. Scully begins to unwrap the gauze from around his leg. "When you were shot. . .in all the chaos. . .well, Katherine went missing."

"Went missing?" Mulder frowns.

"Mulder, after you were shot the restaurant emptied out, I found you in the hospital but Katherine wasn't with you." Scully's eyes begin to tear up as she carefully unwraps the gauze. "Anyway, I called Skinner and the guys to help look for her. I had to stay with you, it was touch and go for awhile, you had lost so much blood." Scully finishes unwrapping Mulder's leg and wipes at her eyes.

"Oh Scully," Mulder sympathetically says.

Scully removes the large gauze pads that cover the wound and examines the surgeon's work. She packs the wound with fresh pads and begins the wrap Mulder's leg. "Skinner called and said there was no sign of her and I was so afraid she was gone for good." Scully hitches up a breath then wipes her nose on the back of her hand as she softly laughs in embarrassment at her inability to control her emotions in front of her mom and Mulder. She wraps the gauze around his leg. "I felt so helpless, I know I should have been out there looking for her but you were still in surgery." Scully secures the gauze and looks up at Mulder. "When