TITLE: Everything That Really Matters
AUTHOR: Dyann Zimmerman
RATING: R/NC-17
KEYWORDS: MSR; RST; AU (I guess)
DISCLAIMERS: Please sue me. I'd love my fifteen minutes.
E-MAIL: philer@onemain.com
TIMELINE: There was no Season Nine. Mulder left after William's birth and Scully didn't give William up for adoption. There isn't an alien even hinted at in this story.

SUMMARY: The passage of time has a way of making everything all right.


ST. LOUIS UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL ST. LOUIS, MO
May, 2009

"Can you get Mrs. Cooper some more ice?" she asked the nurse's aid assigned to Danielle Cooper's room.

"Thanks," she smiled, truly appreciating the aid's kind attendance to her patients.

"Mrs. Cooper thinks you're a miracle worker, Dr. Scully," the aid responded.

"She's tired," Scully smiled, her modest demeanor always firmly in place, unlike many of the hospital physicians.

"She means it; you saved her baby's life," the aid told her and meant it, an admirer of Scully's skill and kind dedication to her patients.

"Ice?" Scully reminded her with a smile, wanting the topic of conversation to change, fairly embarrassed by the woman's adulation.

Scully was finishing her day, hoping young Danielle Cooper had turned a corner and would be going home with her family again soon. And that's just what she wanted to do. She realized that she had been working at St. Louis University Hospital for exactly a year now even though she still felt like a novice with so much still to learn. She was pleased to finally be working full time in the Pediatric unit after finishing her residency, her new specialty a far cry from her former life.

After William was born and Mulder going underground only a few days later, Scully had stayed with the FBI, hoping and praying for Mulder to return. And she had waited; waited almost two years, until the day Skinner had come by her apartment; come by her apartment to tell her that Mulder was dead.

And she never stepped foot in the J. Edgar Hoover building again. She had taken some time off, spending time with her son, contemplating what her life was going to be, where her life was going to go without Mulder. And one quiet day, she had received a simple flyer in the mail, one of many she received weekly announcing a seminar here or specialty training there, and for some reason she happened to read it instead of tossing it in the trash. Fate, she thought. And after she read it, she packed her things and moved to St. Louis and enrolled in a new residency program at St. Louis University for current Physicians wanting to change their specialty that the flyer had so unremarkably advertised.

By the time she'd finished the program and the required residency, William was ready for school and Scully had found herself very involved with someone she realized she didn't want to leave. And she found she liked St. Louis, feeling it was a city big enough to offer lots of culture and interesting things to do, but somehow having a small town feel.

And she knew St. Louis would be a better place for William to grow up in than Washington. She needed a new direction and she couldn't bear returning to all of her memories she shared with Mulder. After she had found out that Mulder had died, Scully remembered thinking that things would never be the same and then realizing that thought was woefully inadequate. Things would never be as good.

But she had made a good life, a life that was good enough. She had been shocked that the man she had been dating had asked her to marry him on the night of her 43rd birthday and found herself even more shocked when she had told him 'yes'. Dr. Richard Lancaster had been her savior in a way.

When she and William had come to St. Louis, she had absorbed herself in her work and her son. Sometime later, she had begun to date Richard only as a kind of diversion, she guessed; another adult to talk to, to do things with. When she was introduced to him at a charity dinner by a mutual friend, she had thought he looked a bit like Peter Jennings. But after they began dating, she realized he also had a bit of Mulder's expression in his eyes. Their arrangement had developed into a comfortable relationship that meant a great deal to her. She had forgotten what it was like to be thought about as a woman and as a lover and she remembered how much she liked being held at night while she slept.

Richard was an oncological surgeon sixteen years Scully's senior who was semi-retired from the surgical group he and his younger brother had started almost 30 years prior. He taught a class at the St. Louis University medical school and still consulted on various cases when his brother asked him to, but he devoted most of his time to various community causes and charities and, in the last couple of years, to his new wife and her son. He served on several boards and did charitable work with the St. Louis Zoo and the public library system. And when he and Scully had begun dating and were first seen in public together, the event was enough to make the news in the 'About Town' column of the Post Dispatch. *Dr. Richard Lancaster attended the Zoo Benefactor's gala held at the Chase Park Plaza hotel last night. He and new gal pal, Dr. Dana Scully, seemed to enjoy the event and each other.* The small blurb had mortified Scully, never comfortable being in the limelight, but she had gotten used to it and she and Richard and William had settled into a nice life. **

HOME OF RICHARD AND DANA LANCASTER LADUE, MO
May, 2009

A few months after they had married, they had moved into a large home in Ladue, an expensive suburb of St. Louis fairly close to Scully's work. Richard, a widower with two grown children but without any grandchildren, doted on William, something Scully had to curtail once in a while to prevent him from spoiling the child. Scully had made sure that William knew who his real father was and a photo of Mulder holding his infant son was always in its place on William's dresser. Occasionally, William would ask questions about his 'other dad', someone he only knew from what his mother told him. But William adored Richard and never knew any different than to call him 'Dad', too.

Scully and Richard socialized when they had to because of her work or his status in the community, but when their time was theirs, they most often chose to stay home with each other and William. They traveled some, usually taking a short trip around a holiday or two and an extended vacation during the summer. As William turned eight, he realized he had visited every continent in the world except Australia and Antarctica and the trip to down under was planned for next month. Money had never meant a whole lot to Scully, but now that she had plenty of it, she appreciated the experiences it afforded her son. He had become an intelligent, inquisitive kid with a mind like a sponge. He was like Mulder in that way; paid attention to everything and didn't forget anything.

"Sweetheart? I can't find Will's knapsack," Richard called from down the hall. Scully and her husband were going to a concert at the Sheldon and William was spending the night with a boy from his fourth grade class who lived down the street.

Scully appeared at the door in her robe, toweling her hair dry. "It's in the dryer," she told him, but looking at her son. "William, next time please throw whatever you have left over from lunch in the trash. You don't need to bring it back home, okay?" she reminded him kindly, not wanting to clean peanut butter residue out of his bag again.

"Okay, Mom," William answered absently, busy selecting which video games he wanted to take with him to his friend's. "Can I take my telescope?"

"No, honey. You'll be back tomorrow and you and Aaron can play with it then if you want," Scully told him. "Don't forget your pajamas." They had managed to get William packed and unloaded down the street and made it to the concert hall before the lights had gone down.

"Thanks for the night out," Scully said later as she took a bite of her smoked salmon. "We haven't done this in a while... just the two of us, I mean."

"No, we haven't. So let this be a reminder that we should do it more often," Richard smiled to her. "Sure you can't go with me next week?" He was scheduled to be a guest speaker at a medical convention in Seattle and had an early Monday flight out of Lambert Airport, notorious for its long holding patterns, so he wasn't exactly looking forward to his trip.

"William has the thing at school... But next time. I promise," she smiled to him, taking a sip of her wine.

"I think everything is set for our trip next month. I meant to tell you I made the reservations at the Beach House at Newell this morning," he told her, cutting a piece from his filet with his fork.

"I think William is already planning his next trip," she said, slightly teasing him.

"He's still on the Antarctica thing, huh?" Richard asked, understanding what Scully meant. After William realized that he only had one more continent to visit after their upcoming trip to Australia, he could barely wait to get there.

"Yeah, I think that'll need to be a father-son trip. I'm not anxious to go back," she said lightly, but meaning every word. Scully hadn't told Richard a lot about her previous life on the X-Files and he hadn't really asked. But when something came up, she didn't hide anything.

"I would think not," he responded understanding what she meant.

"But I'm really looking forward to Australia," she smiled. "I'm glad you got the Beach House resort. It's close to so many other things that William will enjoy and the beach looks wonderful."

"Yeah, and I was able to get the beachfront bungalow, so we'll have our own bedroom," he told her, giving her a teasing glance.

Scully smiled back, truly looking forward to their vacation and having uninterrupted time with each other, time away from their hectic schedules. She loved being with her husband, loved having time to be together without the stresses of each of their lives. For a long time after Mulder's death, she never gave thought to being with another man; never thought she would want to be... could be. Even after she'd met Richard, she knew she didn't love him the way she'd loved Mulder. But after a while, she realized that what she felt for Richard was love, just a different kind. He was sweet and kind and patient beyond words and she loved him all the more because he loved William so much. She had found a life that gave her great satisfaction and contentment and a career that provided stimulation and fulfillment as a counter balance. She decided she just might make it.


ST. LOUIS UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL ST. LOUIS, MO
Two weeks later

"This is Dr. Scully," Scully answered her cell phone as she entered her office, not even remembering that it was her personal line.

"And this is Dr. Lancaster," he said, kidding her about her formal greeting.

"Hi..." she sighed, glad to hear his voice after the crazy day she'd had.

"Bad day?" he asked, picking up on her stress-laden response.

"You have no idea... Where are you?" she asked, quickly scanning several reports that had been waiting for her on her desk.

"We're on the road. Will is headed to his class at the Science Center. Did you forget?" he asked, glancing toward William next to him in the car, playing with his Gameboy.

"Yeah, I didn't realize it was that late. I'm getting ready to leave, though, so I'll see you at home?" she asked, taking off her lab coat and gathering her briefcase.

Richard pulled into the parking lot of the Science Center and William had already recognized a friend that was in his class, an after school program about the planets. "Yeah, I'll run get something for dinner while Will is in class and come back and pick him up," he explained. "What sounds good?"

"Anything. I haven't eaten all day," she told him, getting her key out to lock her office behind her.

"Dana..." he lovingly chastised her.

"I know... I know," she responded, knowing he worried about her often sporadic eating habits. "It has just been one of those days."

"Then I'll surprise you with something special... and fattening," he said, the smile in his voice carrying right to her. "And after dinner, I'll rub your feet..."

"You know the way to my heart," she smiled back even though he couldn't see her.

"I hope so. I love you, ya know," he said, getting out of the car to walk William into the building.

"I do know. And I lo-," she said, stopping in mid- sentence when someone walked up beside her as she waited for the elevator. "Um, me, too... I'll see you both at home," she finished, closing her phone before slipping it into her pocket.


HOME OF RICHARD AND DANA LANCASTER LADUE, MO
Later That Evening

Scully had arrived home fairly quickly, the traffic being relatively sparse since she had gotten away from the hospital a bit late, after rush hour. She took a quick shower and set the table in anticipation of whatever Richard would find to bring home for dinner. She had gotten busy with other things and had lost track of time until her phone rang and she realized how late it was. She figured the caller was Richard, telling her he and William had gotten side-tracked with something or other.

"Where are you?" she answered automatically.

"Dana?" the woman's voice queried.

"Oh, hi, Michelle. I thought you were Richard," Scully said, a slight chuckle to her voice.

"He's not with you either...? Because I'm still here at the Science Center. He hasn't come to pick up Will," the woman told her.

"What? He, um, was going to get dinner while William was in his class and then come back by to get him," Scully told her.

"You sure?" Michelle asked wondering if maybe her friend and her husband had gotten their plans mixed up.

And Scully was thinking the same thing. "Let me talk to William a second," Scully said, wondering what Richard had told him. "William? What'd your dad tell you? Was I supposed to pick you up?"

"No, Mom. He said he would be back to get me," William explained. "He was getting me 'Imos'."

"Okay, honey. Can I talk to Michelle again?" Scully said to him, now becoming a bit nervous about where her husband could possibly be. "Do you mind waiting with him, Michelle? I can be there in about twenty minutes."

"Dana, I'll just bring him. It isn't that far out of my way," the woman told her and Scully was relieved. She wanted to use her time to find out where her husband was.

After she knew William was on his way, Scully tried Richard's cell but after a few rings, the voice mail picked up. "Honey, where are you? Call me," she left as her message. Maybe he had swung by his brother's house for some reason, she thought to herself. "Jack, its Dana," she said when Richard's brother answered.

"Well, how's my favorite sister-in-law?" he teased.

"Your favorite sister-in-law is looking for your favorite brother. Have you talked to Richard?" she asked, trying not to sound too alarmed.

"Not today. He called last night with a list of things he wanted me to do while you were down under," he said to her. "Why? Is something wrong?"

"He was supposed to pick William up at the Science Center and he didn't show," she explained.

"It isn't like it would be a first for Dickie to forget something, Dana," Jack laughed, often teasing his brother about being a bit unorganized at times.

"Well, if you hear from him, tell him to call me, okay?" she asked, then saying her good-byes, not wanting to alarm Richard's brother. Scully didn't think Richard would have gone all the way downtown to his athletic club, but she had no where else to call so she tried there with the same results- they hadn't seen him.

After trying his cell again, Scully just stood there with the phone in her hand, wondering where her husband could possibly be. She was thinking about where she could call next to look for him when the phone rang in her hand. 'Finally,' she sighed to herself, expecting Richard on the other end.

"Could I speak to Dana Lancaster, please?" a woman's voice spoke.

"This is she," Scully said, an ominous feeling suddenly overtaking her whole being.

"My name is Dr. Kay Williams from Barnes-Jewish Hospital," the woman began.

"Yes?" Scully responded, her heart beginning to pound.

"Mrs. Lancaster, your husband has been in an accident..." and Scully remembered very little else for the next two weeks.

Scully's mother had flown in from Baltimore later that night and Richard's children had flown in the next day. Her mother stayed for two weeks, sincerely worried about her daughter's mental health, but Scully had finally sent her home saying she was 'fine'. Neither of Scully's brothers had been able to be with her, but she hadn't really expected them.

The wake and the funeral had been a blur, Scully barely able to recall who had visited, brought food, stopped by the house. The one thing she could remember, all too well, was having to tell William that the man he knew as his dad wouldn't be coming home with his favorite pizza.


BEACH HOUSE RESORT NEWELL BEACH NORTH QUEENSLAND, AUSTRALIA
Six months later

Scully sat in the shallow surf, watching William picking through the sand looking for only the most interesting shells, ready to add them to the ones he had found each day for the last week. She adjusted her oversized straw hat, not wanting any more of the late afternoon sun on her fair face. She watched the surf ebb and flow, the water coolly lapping at her feet and then pulling itself away from her. It mirrored her life, she thought.

Mulder and her work had been her life and then, in an instant, all of it was gone, ebbed away from her. And after finding a new life with peace and contentment that she never imagined could even exist after Mulder, that, too, disappeared from her as quickly as the subconscious blink of an eye. And even now, her only constant, her only reason for continuing on, her precious son, would soon grow up and go out into the world without her.

She had decided to enjoy her son while she could. After Richard's death, she had tried to go back to work part time, trying to fill her days. But part time turned into more time which became full time, so she had taken a leave and had made use of all the moments she and William had together. She had taken him out of school for a couple of weeks and they had gone to Australia to have the vacation they had planned to have with Richard. And as she watched William play, finally enjoying the vacation they had postponed, she knew he would be all she had for the rest of her life.

"Look, Mom," William said, showing her a particularly large shell he pulled from the sand. "It looks almost like an ear."

Scully smiled at him, loving his young wonder at a simple sea shell. "Wow, that's a nice one," she responded, looking at the shell as he held it up to her. "I don't think that one will fit in your jar." She stood, slipping her feet back in her sandals, shaking the sand from her small blanket. "Come on, let's go back to the bungalow and we can clean your shell and find a good place for it."

They had walked on the beach only a few minutes, William still seemingly mesmerized by his shell, when he spoke. "You think Dad knows we're here?" he asked pensively out of the blue.

Scully shuddered to a stop, her heart leaping into her throat. She pulled him into her arms, unable not to, and kissed the top of his head. "Yes, William. I'm sure your Dad knows we're here... both of them," she finished, truly believing what she had just told her son.

And when a gust of wind blew her straw hat from her head, her shock of red hair flew in the air like a beacon. And he couldn't believe what he was seeing... watching as the boy ran to capture his mother's hat, the sound of her voice calling after him oh so familiar.


DOWNTOWN NEWELL BEACH NORTH QUEENSLAND, AUSTRALIA
The next day

He had barely slept, knowing that he had seen her; that she was actually in Australia, enjoying a holiday with her son. And that morning, despite himself, all he could think about was trying to see her again. He walked along the beach looking for her, then watched the resort where she was staying, watching the exit to the main street. And then he saw her, her and her son walking to an ice-cream store down the boulevard from the main entrance of her resort. He followed them from a distance, not close enough to hear their conversation or for her to notice him, but close enough to see that she looked different... older... sad almost. He'd wondered if he'd done that to her by leaving her all alone to raise their son without him, to make her way alone.

After Mulder had left his life in Washington, his son only a few days old, he had been sheltered by several old contacts of the Lone Gunmen and stayed put near the Canadian/Alaskan border for almost two years. But he had become increasingly uneasy, sensing that Scully and William weren't as safe as they could be. So he thought it best for everyone concerned, particularly Scully and William, that he have Skinner let it be known that he was dead. Skinner had been torn and Mulder had felt guilty asking him to make sure Scully believed it, but he had had no where else to turn after the Gunmen had died. And Skinner hadn't let him down.

Mulder had wandered aimlessly around the globe for several years, staying in some places for a few months, longer in other places that interested him. He had inherited more money than he could ever spend and had never been very attracted by money in the first place. But, luckily, it wasn't something he had to worry about. He hadn't involved himself with anyone, unable to move past his feelings for Scully. He'd been with a few women, but no one he'd seen past the next morning.

He'd had a particularly bad time about three years after he'd left Washington and since the danger had passed, he thought about going back, but figured Scully was better off moving on. But after another year or so, he'd made a trip back to the States, just to try to get a glimpse of Scully and William. And he had been devastated to find that she was gone, no longer even in Washington. Skinner swore he didn't know where she'd moved, but Mulder figured he was keeping her confidence just as his boss had kept his a few years earlier. That's when Mulder had decided to get as far away as he could and headed to Australia, finding a small place near the beach in Newell and was almost surprised when he liked it so well.

Mulder had watched them go into a book store and had sat across the street on a bench in a small park and watched them come out almost an hour later. William carried a bag that looked like it had several books in it and he found himself smile, comforted by the fact that his son must like to read. And he could see himself; William looked so much like him, his lanky frame, and his unruly lock of dark brown hair. Scully walked only a few steps before stopping, reaching into her bag to get her straw hat, the morning sun shining towards noon. And when she raised her arm to shield her eyes from the glow of the sky, that's when he saw it, the sun catching the sparkle of the diamond lined rings on the third finger of her left hand...


HOME OF DANA SCULLY LANCASTER LADUE, MO
Six days later

Mulder had watched them numerous times in the next several days, seeing how they enjoyed each other, but also still seeing some kind of sadness in Scully that he couldn't identify. He thought he had almost been discovered one day, but realized Scully hadn't recognized him, his longer hair and goatee providing a good enough disguise. But the one thing Mulder hadn't seen was any sign that the husband he knew Scully must have was with her.

Then finally, he had seen her checking out of the resort, the bellhop loading her luggage into the hotel airport shuttle. He hailed a cab and followed them to the airport, another bellman checking her luggage before she and William went into the airport terminal. He followed them to the gate and watched as she boarded her flight, memorizing the flight number. He checked at the counter and found that her flight went to Los Angeles, with the end destination being St. Louis. Was that where she was living?

Mulder went back to his apartment and packed enough for a couple of weeks, only thinking once that he could be making a mistake by following them, but putting that thought quickly out of his head. He got off the plane in St. Louis, not really knowing where to go or where to start, deciding to get a hotel room for the night and heading out to buy a computer the first thing the next morning. He had remembered some of the hacking skills the Gunmen had taught him and, of course, knew Scully's social security number by heart. He found her name listed as an adjunct faculty at St. Louis University and discovered that she was a Pediatrician at the hospital of the same name. He didn't find a home address and figured the address must be listed under her husband's name, that bit of information still a mystery to him. He told himself that he wasn't there to upset anyone's life, but just wanted to see where they lived, that they had a nice life. So he told himself.

Mulder had called the hospital, innocently asking to speak to Dr. Scully just to determine if she was there. It wasn't difficult to get out of them that she was returning the next week from a 'leave'. He gave a fleeting thought to why she was on a leave rather than a vacation, but then quickly forgot about it. He didn't really feel like waiting around until the following week to stake out the hospital, so he decided to try his hand again at some good old investigation and headed back to his computer.

Mulder tried several searches trying to find an address or a last name other than 'Scully'. He tried the AMA..., a St. Louis University faculty registry... he even tried William's name. Finally, he took a last stab and went to the Post Dispatch archives and did a search for 'Dana Scully' and there he found it-- several references, mostly at charity social events, for Dana Scully Lancaster. And her husband Richard.

It took him a little while, but he finally found an address for Dr. Richard Lancaster in a west suburb called 'Ladue'. He did a 'Mapquest' and found directions easily, printed them out and headed his rental car toward the west county of St. Louis. As he got closer to her neighborhood, he began to realize that Scully's new life, whatever it may or may not be, was a very successful one. He wasn't driving into the low rent district. And when he turned onto her street, he wouldn't exactly call the homes along the tree-lined drive houses; mansions would be a more apt description.

When he located the house number he was looking for, he wasn't too surprised by what he found. Within the conspicuous consumption that seemed to be most of the neighborhood, Scully's house was relatively modest. Most of the homes were over landscaped and pretentiously gated, but Scully's had no gate and the drive and yard appeared relaxed and welcoming. And he noticed a 'Star Trek' wind sock lazily waving in a tree near the edge of the property.

Mulder had driven past her house and turned around in the cul-de-sac and when he was in front of her house again, he noticed a Volvo station wagon pulling out of her drive, Scully behind the wheel, William in the passenger seat. Instead of heading out of the cul-de- sac, she turned the other way and was headed right for him. He slid down into the seat, watching her just over the edge of the car door as she turned into the driveway of a neighboring house. He waited and a few minutes later when she'd pulled back out of the neighbor's drive, he noticed another boy in the car, obviously a friend of William's.

He followed Scully's car out of her neighborhood and after a few miles, into Forest Park. He followed her through the park, over the gradual hills, around the curving roads, past all of the old architecture that still remained from the 1904 World's Fair. Finally, she pulled into the parking lot at the Boathouse Restaurant and both of the boys flew out of the car, very excited about something. Scully corralled them a bit before they entered the outdoor area of the restaurant, a small quaint place surrounded by a small pond fully equipped with paddle boats and quacking ducks. The day was unseasonably warm for a St. Louis November and the sun was bright and warming, so Scully sat at an outdoor table after securing the two boys in a rented paddle boat. Mulder watched from outside the restaurant, an area active with joggers and restaurant patrons, so he easily blended into the scenery. She ordered a tall coffee, her motion of how she stirred the cream into her cup bringing back memories he didn't expect. How many times had he seen her do that, a meaningless motion back when, something to behold now. She pulled a book out of her bag and gave the boys in their boat a glance before she settled down in her chair to read.

He walked around some, feeling the beauty and the peace of the old park. He didn't go far, soon returning to the area just outside the gate to the outdoor part of the restaurant, seeing Scully still sitting there with her book. But when he moved closer, he could see that she wasn't really reading, her eyes unfocused into the distance, a far away look on her face. And he noticed again that, while her outward actions may indicate a calm contentedness, she seemed somehow sad...


HOME OF DANA SCULLY LANCASTER LADUE, MO
The next day

Mulder had watched them only a little while longer, really not sure why he was torturing himself, watching what he knew he couldn't have. He drove back to his hotel, unsure about everything; why he was following her, his son; what he was thinking about everything; why he'd even left Australia. Yes, he'd found Scully and his son, but what was he going to do now? Even though he felt she seemed unhappy in some way, he could see that she loved William with everything she had and they seemed to have a good life. But where was her husband? He hadn't seen her with him yet.

He began to worry that his presence may be the worst thing for Scully... and for William. Why upset their lives? He had started to pack his things, thinking it would be best if he just returned to Australia and continued his writing. But he found that he was pulled by an indescribable need to see his son, to talk to him and get to know him. And even though it was Scully who had brought him there, it was William who seemed to be keeping him.

He had driven by her house again the next day, her Volvo in the drive, but still no sign of anyone else in the home but her and William. Maybe her husband traveled a lot; maybe they were divorced... But for some reason on that Sunday, he finally pulled into the driveway and got out of the car. He exited his rental quickly and went straight to the door, knowing that if he hesitated at all, he would lose his nerve. He rang the bell and he was surprised when William answered the door. He found himself both relieved and disappointed that his son didn't seem to recognize him.

"Um, is your, um, mom here?" Mulder stumbled through his words.

"Mommmmm," the boy yelled back into the house, walking away to leave Mulder just standing there.

"William, I've told you never to answer the do--," Scully said to her son, stopping suddenly when she saw Mulder on the front step. She staggered, putting her hand on the wall in the foyer to steady herself. "William, go to your room."

"Why?" he asked innocently at his mother's unusually harsh tone.

"Go to your room," she told him even more firmly and he complied, not understanding why she sent him there but complying just the same.

Mulder thought she might pass out or maybe shoot him, he wasn't sure. "You okay, Scully?" he asked softly. But he could tell she wasn't really able to speak, so he gave her time to gain her composure. She put her hand to her chest, her breath quickening as she staggered again, sitting on the bench just inside the door. He stepped inside and bent down beside her, asking again, "You okay?"

"Who the hell are you?" she asked, jerking away from him.

"I'm sorry, Scully. I didn't mean to upset you," Mulder said again, still on his knee beside the bench. Scully quickly moved back toward him, moving his hair away from his neck to check for the telltale markings of an imposter. He allowed her examination knowing exactly what she was looking for.

"It's really me," he said as he stood, nervously stuffing his hands in his pockets.

"Who are you?!" she asked again, this time more strongly. Mulder didn't respond, feeling that Scully knew it was really him and just needed time to absorb it. "You can't be... you just can't..."

Mulder tried to give her a small smile, hoping she would recognize it for what it was. "It's me, Scully. See, I still have your brand," he told her, pulling the collar of his shirt open enough to expose the wound from her gunshot from so many years before.

"Oh, God," she gasped, slowly backing away from him, her brain unable to process what her eyes were telling her. "Wha-- Whe--, I... Oh, god," she stuttered, still unable to compose herself.

She moved into the living room, sitting down on one of the couches, her hand shaking as she secured a lock of hair behind her ear. Mulder slowly followed her into the room, taking in the tasteful opulence of Scully's home, his eyes immediately spotting a picture on the mantle of Scully affectionately wrapped in a man's arms, a happy smile on her face.

"You're... you're alive," she finally managed to say.

"Yeah, I have been all along," Mulder responded, his flippant attitude not exactly what Scully needed at the moment.

"God...," she said again, holding her head with her hand as she took a deep breath. "How did you find me?"

Mulder took her in, noticing the still smooth tone of her skin, showing a few lines, but her beauty still radiating from her. "Believe it or not, I saw you in Australia," he revealed to her plainly.

"You, you were in Australia?" she was able to query.

"Yeah, I've been living there for about four years now, I guess," he told her.

"That doesn't tell me about the other years," she said, the tone in her voice taking on an edge and Mulder could see her walls going up.

"It's a long story," he sighed, knowing she had a right to be angry at him. Very angry.

"Yeah," was all she replied. "Jesus, I can't believe this," she said to no one in particular.

Mulder looked at her, trying to get her to meet his gaze, but she continued to stare at her hands, fidgeting in her lap. "Will... God, I can't believe how he's grown..." he started.

"Don't talk to me about William," she snapped, suddenly standing from her place in the chair. "I think you need to go," she said, trying hard not to let her emotion show in her voice, but unable to totally prevent it.

"Yeah," he sighed, realizing he had probably overstepped his bounds. "I want to explain things, Scully... if you want to hear. I'm not here to upset your life," he told her softly.

"I think it's already too late for that," she replied, finally looking him square in the eyes. He could only give her a small, sad smile, wishing things could be different, but knowing that their lives had been changed for too long.

Mulder let himself out, Scully still sitting stunned in the wingback chair in her living room. She could hear the phone ringing, but seemed paralyzed to get up to answer it. She sat there for several more minutes, her mind feeling like it couldn't work, trying to process what had just happened.

"Mommmm, can I go to Aaron's for dinner?" she heard William call from the family room, but still unable to get up. "Mom, Aaron wants me to come over for pizza," William said, moving into the room to stand next to her, the phone still to his ear.

"What?" she asked, finally able to focus.

"Aaron. He wants me to come over. Can I?" he asked again.

She had let him go, walking with him part of the way down the street to make sure he made it to the neighboring house of his friend. As she returned to her home, she realized his friend's request couldn't have come at a better time; she needed to be alone with her feelings. And as soon as she got back into her house and the door closed behind her, the magnitude of everything overwhelmed her and she began to sob, her entire body feeling like it was crying.


ST. LOUIS UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL ST. LOUIS, MO
Three days later

Scully had barely been able to sleep on Sunday night, finally going into William's room to lie down with him. She had returned to work that morning, her first day back from her three month leave and she had been emotionally ill-equipped to handle much of anything. She had split the care of her patients between three different physicians while she was gone, all friends of hers and Richard's, and would be taking them back part time as she could. She had a long, busy day and was looking forward to going to her Yoga class to try to clear her head. Her friend, Michelle, was picking up William and was taking him with her son to their class at the Science Center. God, what memories that brought back to her.

Scully had walked out of the west entrance of the hospital, heading to her car in the Physician's parking area of the garage when she saw him approaching. "Are you following me?" she said to him.

"Yes. I want to talk to you," he told her, wanting to try to explain, make some peace.

"I have an appointment..." she said evasively, but half- heartedly, Mulder noticed.

He moved closer to her where she stood near the door of her car. "Please, Scully... just give me thirty minutes. I'll buy the coffee," he smiled, hoping she'd give in. And she did, having him follow her car to a Starbucks only a few blocks away.

"What did you tell him?" Mulder asked, Scully knowing what he meant, both of them seated at a small table close to a window.

"I told him what I was told," she answered and he could see that she was hurt at having been lied to.

"So, he thinks I'm dead," Mulder said.

"Of course. I thought you were dead," she retorted quickly.

"But does he know who I am? Who his father is?" he asked, hoping she would understand why he needed to know.

"Mulder, I kept you very present in his life until...,"

"Until you married?" he interjected.

She quickly looked up at him, wondering how he knew, but then realizing Mulder would've found out that her name was 'Lancaster' in order to find her. "Yes," she answered simply. "And he considers Richard his father, too. But he knows you, Mulder. I would never keep that from him."

"What did you tell him about me?"

"After he was older, I told him the truth or what I was told was the truth. Did Skinner know you were alive?" she asked.

"He did what I asked him to do. I thought it was the best thing to do to protect you and Will. I had to disappear... totally," he said, barely touching his coffee.

"And how are you able to be back here now?" she asked suspiciously.

"I figured you knew that the forces inside the FBI had been defeated and destroyed," he observed.

"That was years ago. You could've revealed yourself a long time ago," she said curtly.

"Actually, I tried. I went to your place in Washington years ago but you were gone. I figured Skinner knew where, but, of course, he wouldn't tell me. And your Mom was gone," he said, hoping nothing had happened to her.

"She remarried. She lives in Vancouver now," Scully explained, surprised to hear him say he had actually tried to find her.

There were several long minutes of uncomfortable silence, Scully seeming to him like she could barely stay in her seat and not bolt from the shop. But he trudged on despite himself. "I want to see Will," he finally told her.

"No," she answered plainly.

"I have a right, Scully," he told her.

"You gave up your rights eight years ago, Mulder," she said, her defensive walls rock solid.

"I did what I had to do," he told her. "And I want to see him and I think he needs to see me."

"You have no idea what he needs and you can't just show up here and expect to pick up where you left off, Mulder," she said angrily. "And, what, I'm just supposed to tell William I changed my mind and his father is alive after all?"

"Look, Scully, I'm not looking to take a place in your life. I know it's too late for that. I'm not looking to take your husband's place in Will's life. I'm sure Will loves him and I won't do anything to change that," Mulder told her sincerely.

"Mulder..." Scully tried to interject.

"Let me finish, Scully. I didn't realize it until I saw him on the beach in Australia, but I just want to know my son. I don't want to push your husband out," he continued.

"Mulder, my husband was killed six months ago," she told him bluntly.

"I, I, God, Scully, I had no idea. I, I'm sorry... truly," he said, reaching across the table to touch her hand.

Scully slowly removed her hand from his, despite the fact that she found his gesture comforting. "So, it's just William and me and we are adapting. We're both still trying to find some peace after Richard's death. And we are okay, Mulder. We have a nice, quiet life and I'm not sure I want to upset that."

Mulder suddenly felt terrible, both for Scully's plight and for choosing the wrong time to come back into her life. She didn't need any more upset than he was sure she already had. "Scully, I didn't realize or I wouldn't have bothered you. Not now."

"Life goes on..." she said defeatedly and he could tell that the memories swirling in her head were haunting her.


SHERATON HOTEL ST. LOUIS, MO
The next day

Mulder had left her then, giving her his cell phone number and telling her they'd go at her pace. She had sat there for a long time after, just thinking before realizing she would be late getting home to meet William and hurried out, momentarily forgetting the turmoil in her life.

"Walter Skinner," he answered his personal line.

"It's Mulder."

"Mulder? Where are you?" he asked quickly, not having heard from him in several years.

"St. Louis," Mulder answered, knowing what Skinner would realize.

"You found her," Skinner said flatly.

"Yeah, despite you," Mulder replied even though he knew Skinner was just being loyal to Scully. "I've been here a couple of weeks."

"Have you seen her?" he wondered.

"Yeah. Why didn't you tell me she had married?" he asked, pacing around his room as he talked.

"It wasn't any of your business," Skinner replied.

"Did you go?" Mulder asked, wondering what her wedding must have been like.

"Yes..., I did."

"Was she happy?"

"Yes, Mulder. She was and she was equally devastated when he was killed. It hasn't been easy for her," Skinner told him.

Mulder thought for a few moments, finding it a bit off setting that Scully and Skinner had experienced so many things that he didn't even know had happened. "Maybe it would be best if I didn't interfere. Maybe its best if I just leave her with her life," Mulder told him, not really knowing what to do.

"Mulder, I'll tell you something," Skinner started. "If you had seen Scully when I told her you were dead, you wouldn't even consider that."

And after Skinner's words, Mulder had gone back to Scully's house, but she wasn't there; at least she wasn't answering the door. He'd left a note in her mailbox, telling her that he'd wait to hear from her, that it was up to her if she wanted to see him or wanted him to see William.

And he had waited. Almost two weeks. And one day he knew; knew that she wasn't going to contact him; that what they once had was over and that's the way she wanted to leave it. He wanted to be a part of his son's life, hell, he wanted to be part of Scully's life, but he now knew that that was never going to happen. He had been thinking that it would probably be best if he left St. Louis, go back to his small place in Australia, and finish the novel he had been writing.


TWO DAYS LATER

"May I have Fox Mulder's room, please," Scully asked the desk.

"Mr. Mulder checked out early this morning," the voice told her, the words not quite absorbing into Scully's brain. She thought he would wait, she guessed; wait until she was ready, no matter how long it took. But Mulder had never been a very predictable person and she hadn't predicted that he would leave before she'd had a chance to share her decision. But he had...


HOME OF DANA SCULLY LANCASTER LADUE, MO
Several days later

Scully had been much more affected by Mulder's leaving than she felt she would be and couldn't seem to make herself move on. During the time he was waiting for her in St. Louis, she had barely been able to sleep and had felt like she had been terribly inattentive to William. Her son had even asked her one day if she was sick.

But she knew she wanted Mulder to be a part of William's life, part of her life. She had loved Richard, very deeply and had found great comfort in her life with him and his relationship with her son. He'd been a life saver of sorts, for both of them. But it had been Mulder whom she had always felt had been her soul mate and she loved him in so much more of a total way than she had Richard. She wanted to make a life with him again if he was willing to try. But she had missed her chance to tell him that. She had tried his cell phone, but it was no longer in service, something that made her figure he had moved out of the country again. She called Skinner, hoping he had talked to Mulder and knew where he might be.

"I honestly don't know, Scully. The last time I talked with him he was still in St. Louis," Skinner had told her.

"I need to find him... please," she asked and Skinner had told her he would try as he could to get some information for her.

Several days later, she was surprised to find Skinner at her door, his news less than promising. "He's not using his credit cards and he withdrew a considerable amount of money out of his accounts just before he left St. Louis," Skinner said, taking a sip of his coffee as they sat at her table.

"He's going to disappear again," she sighed, knowing why Mulder was using cash.

"Looks like it," Skinner replied sadly. "And you know Mulder, Scully; if he doesn't want to be found, he won't be."

Skinner had kept trying and she would either call him for a periodic update or he would call her just to let her know that he was still making an effort. But neither held out much hope that they would be able to track him down if he didn't want to be found.


HOME OF DANA SCULLY LANCASTER LADUE, MO
One year later

Scully had tried for months to find some hint of him, but it was slow going; she no longer had her contacts or her access. She had worked hard to make peace for herself that she was never going to see Mulder again and, more importantly, that her son was never going to see his father. She hadn't told William anything about Mulder being in St. Louis, that it had been his father whom he had seen at their front door that day. Since there would never be a meeting, she saw no reason to upset him or get his hopes up.

"Hey, Mom, can I get all three of these?" he asked, showing her all the books he wanted.

"Just two today, William. Look them over and pick out two," she reminded him already having had the conversation in the car before arriving at the book store. She could literally buy William anything he would want, but she never did that, wanting her son to grow up to appreciate things. "I'll be over there," she told him, pointing in the direction of the newest releases.

She had looked over the non-fiction and found most of it too serious for her present mood, wanting a good novel for the weekend instead. She went around the other side of the rack, perusing the latest releases and that's when she saw it: "The Dream of a Young Boy" by M.F.Luder. She couldn't grab the book off the shelf fast enough to look at it, immediately turning to the inside of the back dust cover to look at the picture of the author. Her hands were shaking and her heart was pounding so hard she could hear it as she looked at the picture of Mulder. "Oh, my god," she said to herself, almost unbelieving what she was seeing.

She stood there and stared at it for several long moments before turning it to the front, flipping through the pages in search of the dedication. 'To my son and his mother. I will love them forever.' it read and she felt her eyes begin to fill with tears, her heart aching with emotion.

She gathered William as fast as she could and they paid for their books and left the store in record time. She spent the rest of the night reading the book, finding herself crying through virtually every page. It was beautiful and touching and she knew that even though Mulder's book was labeled a novel, much of it contained his true feelings about what he wished his relationship would have been with his son... and her.

The next morning, she contacted the publisher to try to find out where M.F.Luder was located, but wasn't too successful in finding out much. She had only been told that he worked outside of the U.S. and that she could send any correspondence through their office. But she couldn't wait for that, figuring Mulder would never see it anyway, his mail probably being handled by someone's secretary instead. So she called Skinner.

He had used his FBI credentials to get all the information the publishing firm had. "He's somewhere in Australia, but they didn't know exactly where," he'd told her. But she knew... and she made quick plans to go there.


BEACH HOUSE RESORT NEWELL BEACH NORTH QUEENSLAND, AUSTRALIA
Two days later

Scully had been in such a rush, both to organize herself and her emotions, that she had barely packed enough to last her more than a couple of days. She had told William where she was going but not why and he couldn't understand why he wasn't going back to the resort with her. But he seemed to feel a bit better when he found out he was going to stay at his friend Aaron's house for the next week. She was torn about leaving him, but felt it would be best if she went alone to see Mulder, having no idea how things would go or if she'd even find him.

After she arrived in Queensland, Scully immediately wondered just how in the hell she was going to find him. What if he hadn't even come back to Queensland; what if he'd gone somewhere else in Australia?

Scully wasn't sure if Mulder had been living his life in Australia as himself or M.F. Luder or George Hale, for that matter, so she didn't really know who to look for, let alone where. She knew Mulder had spotted her near the resort where she and William had stayed before, so she hoped his place was somewhere in the vicinity of where he had seen her then.

She had gotten in late and was exhausted from the day- long plane ride and felt she wouldn't be worth much of anything if she didn't at least get a few hours sleep. She lay down on the couch in her clothes, not expecting to sleep long, but found herself totally in the dark when she woke almost five hours later. "Shit," she sighed to herself as she rubbed her eyes. It was morning Australia time and she felt like she had already wasted too much of the day. She showered and dressed and headed for the beach, hoping she'd see who she'd come half way around the world to find.

As she walked along the beach, she remembered the beautiful prose of his book; how he spoke of the woman he loved and their son hoping it was her and William he was actually writing about. She wondered if he'd hoped she'd seen his book or whether he even thought of her anymore... She wanted him to and wished that if she found him, he would want to see her.

She had checked at the local library and the telephone registry, but found nothing that would indicate it was Mulder. Scully had taken her time walking to the downtown area of Newell Beach near her bungalow, eventually settling in at a window table in a small coffee shop for a while, watching the people go by, hoping he'd appear somewhere amidst the shoppers. But he didn't.

Finally, late in the afternoon, Scully had gone back to her bungalow and made a light dinner, thinking she'd read for a while on the beach, but deciding to take a walk in the park across the street instead when she noticed a small gathering listening to a concert. She walked up to the periphery of the crowd, some standing, some sitting in lawn chairs and on blankets, the shadows growing as the sun set. The music was beautiful as it floated through the crisp evening air, Scully finding a quiet spot on the ground next to a tree to settle. She crossed her ankles and leaned back against the tree, finding herself almost sleepy from the impending nightfall and the tranquil music.

Scully had listened for another twenty minutes or so when she noticed a man walking away from the center of the crowd and, for a moment, thought it was Mulder. But after he turned around, she laughed to herself thinking that Mulder would be highly offended to think she had mistaken such a homely man for him. But then after only a few more minutes, she noticed an elderly couple move away from a park bench and there he was, sitting there by himself, reading a book under a park light. It was really him.

Scully's heart began to thump and she had trouble catching her breath after standing from her seat on the ground. She brushed the grass from her jeans, giving herself a few moments to gather her thoughts and decide how to proceed with what could be the most important conversation of her life. She had thought about virtually nothing but this moment since she'd read Mulder's book and now that she was smack dab in the middle of it, she felt almost paralyzed.

Scully walked closer to the bench where Mulder sat, but making sure she stayed out of his line of vision, still barely able to believe she was seeing him sitting there. And just as she got closer, the band took a short break and the park seemed suddenly silent and she could hear nothing but her heart pounding. She slowly walked toward the area behind his bench and all of a sudden, two young women walked up to Mulder and began to converse with him, Scully not close enough to hear what they were saying, but close enough to see that they were obviously flirting, doing their best to interest him.

Scully held back, her breath shortening, her mind fearing she might have to just stand there and witness Mulder respond to the attentions of someone else. But he didn't, barely giving the women a glance, his less than enthusiastic response quickly sending them on their way. Instead, he returned his interest to the book he was reading, seemingly caring less that the two women found him interesting, or available.

Finally, she moved around the opposite end of the bench, quietly sitting down, Mulder not even glancing in her direction. "This seat taken?" she asked quietly, the sound of her voice startling him where he sat.

"Scully? My god, what are you doing here?" he said, sincerely shocked to see her sitting next to him.

"Oh, I just finished the latest M.F. Luder novel and wondered if you'd read it," she smiled at him.

Mulder looked down, smiling a knowing smile, realizing that deep down he knew she'd find him. "Um, no, but I, uh, heard it was great," he smiled to her. Their eyes met and they just looked at each other for several moments, Scully finally glancing away. "How'd you find me?" Mulder asked, moving a bit on the bench to face her.

"I used to work for the FBI, remember?" she answered back.

"Oh..." he smiled to her, starting to say something else, but stopping when the band began to play again, suddenly making their interchange seem way too public. "Let's walk," Mulder said as he stood, reaching out for her hand. And she took it, letting him help her up.

After they'd walked far enough away from the din of the music and the crowd, Mulder spoke, "You look great."

"Liar," she chuckled. "I'm about as jet-lagged as I can get."

"Well, you look great," he told her and meant it, still not believing that she was there with him. They walked a little further, the crowd and the concert now barely discernable to either of them. "Will with you?" Mulder finally asked as they found another bench to sit on.

"No. He's staying with friends," she told him simply.

"He know you're here?" he asked quietly, wondering what she had told him.

"Yes... but not why," she answered just as quietly.

"Why are you here, Scully?" Mulder finally asking.

Scully thought for a moment, wanting to explain everything the way she really felt it, wanting him to know how she felt about him. "I, um, went to your hotel in St. Louis, but you'd already gone," she started.

"I waited, Scully... for weeks...," he reminded her.

"I know. You had just left the morning I came looking for you," she explained. "I, I needed time... Richard had only been gone six months and it seemed more like six days to me. I guess I felt guilty, in some way, to be so happy to see you."

"That was happy to see me?" Mulder chuckled, his view of the memory of her reaction to him not being all that 'happy'.

"Well, I was," she smiled. "God, Mulder, I'd lived for years believing you were dead. It was all too much to absorb... I, I was so worried about how to tell William the whole thing, wondering how he would react. I was just very mixed up, Mulder, and I waited one day too long to try to explain things to you, I guess."

"So, you came here to explain things? Explain what, Scully?" he said to her, still unsure how she really felt, what she wanted to tell him.

"I wanted... I want to... to... try again," she managed to tell him, the emotion clouding her voice.

"That's why you came down here to find me?" Mulder asked softly, hoping that what he was hearing was actually what she was saying.

Scully looked up from her hands to meet his gaze and nodded, trying to give him a soft smile but not sure how she must look at the moment. "Yes," she told him simply.

Mulder moved closer to her and she was gathered into his arms before she even realized what happened. "Jesus Christ, Scully... You didn't have to make me work so hard for that," he said as he held her.

"I've missed you so much, Mulder," Scully said into his sweater as he held her. "So much..." Mulder moved back from her a bit, relaxing his embrace and looked at her, his eyes telling her what he was feeling. Then, he bent to kiss her and she could feel her heart pound as their lips met, a feeling she thought she would never know again. "Don't let go of me..." she sighed.

They kissed several times, the feeling of Scully's nails against his scalp sending sensations through Mulder that he figured he'd better put a hold on before they got out of hand. They were still in public. "Where are you staying?" he asked softly against her ear as they continued to hold each other.

Scully looked at him, knowing what he was really asking. "The Beach House Resort," she told him.

"Let's go get your things..."


HOME OF FOX MULDER NEWELL BEACH, NORTH QUEENSLAND, AUSTRALIA
The next morning

"Good morning," he said as he sat down beside her on the old glider that rested on the deck of his apartment.

"Yes..., it is," she smiled back to him, her smile his permission to give her a soft kiss. She had woken early and was sitting in the glider, enjoying her coffee as she listened to the lap of the ocean waves.

"You made coffee?" he said, reaching for her cup to take a sip.

"I hope you don't mind that I went through your cabinets. You actually have food. I'm impressed," she teased.

"Carry out isn't as easy to get down here," he smiled to her, taking another sip from her mug.

"There's more coffee in your kitchen," she chastised him jokingly.

"But I like drinking yours," he told her before bending for a longer kiss. Scully returned his kiss, her thumb stroking the bone of his cheek as they lingered. "When I woke up and didn't find you in the bed, I, well, I thought maybe you had changed your mind..." he told her gently.

Scully almost couldn't believe what he'd just admitted, but then realized why he'd thought that. Had it been him who had gotten up first and she found the bed empty beside her, she probably would've thought the same thing. "I won't leave you, Mulder... I promise," she told him sincerely, reaching up to give him another kiss.

Mulder nodded, his look giving her the same promise. They sat there in silence for several minutes, Scully pulling the spread she had on her lap up around her shoulders. Mulder moved closer to her and put his arms around her, snuggling into her and the spread. "Cold?" he asked against her ear as he held her.

"Not anymore," she smiled to him.

"Last night was..." he started, trying to tell her how overwhelmed he was at being with her again after thinking he'd never even see her again.

"Yeah, it was," she smiled to him and reached up to kiss him again. He tightened his embrace and lifted her fully into his lap, neither of them stopping their kiss.

After a couple of more minutes, Mulder slid an arm under her knees and the other around her shoulders before he stood, Scully sliding her arms around his neck as they headed back into the house, to the bedroom.

He laid her on the bed and quickly crawled in next to her, both of them still in their robes. "I can't believe you're here with me," he whispered to her, his arms and legs wrapped around her, hers around him.

"I know... I know..." she whispered back, kissing the strong bone of his jaw.

"This isn't a dream, is it?" he asked, almost believing it might be and he'd wake up alone.

"This isn't a dream..." she reassured him and, probably, herself.

Mulder slid his hand into the gap of her robe, finding her fully nude underneath. "Mmmmmm, just skin... You plan this?" he teased her, his hand rubbing over her bare back, across her bottom.

"No... I just didn't put anything on when I got up," she told him, her hand slipping into his robe, over his side and down to his backside. "Did you plan this?" she teased back.

"I've been planning this for years, Scully. Thinking about our times together got me through many bad days," he told her, his voice now more serious.

"Have you been with anyone? I mean, didn't you meet anyone in all these years?" Scully asked him tentatively, her fingers working on untying the belt of his robe.

Mulder began working on her belt as well, moving to give her a soft kiss before speaking. "I've had a few meaningless liaisons here and there; I am a man, Scully," he started. "But I've never really been interested in a relationship... I guess I thought I'd already had mine..." he told her, Scully knowing that he meant her.

"Mulder, I didn't move on until I was told you had died," she told him, somehow feeling he was judging her for moving on without him. "It was a long time before I began seeing Richard..."

"I understand, Scully. Really... I do. I don't blame you," he told her and meant it. He knew she had to have been lost and lonely in a new place all alone with a young son to care for. He truly didn't blame her. "Believe it or not, I'm glad you had someone..."

"And I have you now," Scully told him, moving her hands to help Mulder slip his robe all the way off.

"That you do," Mulder smiled to her, helping her with her robe as well. "And I'm about ready to have you..." he teased in his best lascivious voice.

Scully chuckled, enjoying being around Mulder's silly sense of humor and enjoying the anticipation of being with him again. She couldn't believe how good they had been together the night before, the nine year absence not seeming to make a difference. She had been nervous at first, but when they had finally undressed each other and made it into the bed, it felt like it always had when they were together so many years before.

"You feel so good," she told him when he pulled her fully against him as they lay facing each other on their sides. "You've stayed in good shape," she smiled, admiring the hard muscles of his chest, the firm feel of his abdomen.

"As have you, Scully. When I first saw you again on the beach, I couldn't believe how little you'd changed," he told her, moving over her to turn her to her back. "I've always loved the way you look, Scully... always... always so beautiful..." he told her, barely whispering next to her ear when he moved further on top of her, nuzzling her neck. His hand moved to her breast at the same time he kissed her and he shuddered when her hands stroked his back, down over his bottom.

"I'm glad we found each other again," she whispered to him before kissing his neck, her lips finding their way to his. They kissed for several long minutes, Mulder rubbing himself against her, Scully responding to the feel of his erection against her mound. She reached down to touch him, take him in her hand to stroke him a few times before helping him to find her center, wanting him inside her. She bent her knees and opened her legs around his hips as he entered her, the feeling of his penetration eliciting a moan, "Mmmmm, Mulder..."

"Yeah... you, too, Scully... you feel so good," he told her as he began to move in and out of her, his hips slow and strong. Scully moved her legs up further, locking her ankles just behind his bottom as he continued to rock against her. Scully pulled her head up from the pillow wanting just to kiss him again and again, not letting his lips get away from hers. She held on as he slowly lowered her back to the pillow, their lips never losing contact, Mulder's body flush against Scully's as he continued to move within her. He could feel her getting close, her abdominal muscles tightening beneath him, her breath shortening. He pushed harder against her wanting her to go before him but he was having difficulty holding back much longer.

"Mmmmmm, right there, Mulder," she managed to tell him as she worked to take herself where she wanted to go. "Uhhhhhhhhhh," she sighed as her climax hit, her soft tissue clamping him inside before it began to pulse around him like a velvet glove.

"Sculllllyyyy..." he moaned, moving faster within her as she came down, her breath panting against the sensitive skin of his neck. She tightened her arms around his neck, moving her hips more firmly against him as he continued to move, wanting him to let go. After a few more moments, his movements quickened, but became more erratic and she knew he was getting close. He thrusted several more times, then letting loose inside her, his hips grinding against her with every surge of his fluid into her, finally emptying himself. "Jesusssss," he sighed when he was able to catch his breath enough to speak.

Scully held his face with her hands, willing him to look her in the eyes. "I love you, Mulder," she told him openly, wanting him to hear the sincerity in her voice, see the passion in her eyes. "I. Love. You."

"Scully, god, I've never stopped loving you... never," he told her before moving off of her, lying on his back. "C'mere," he said, opening his arms to her, Scully snuggling into his side, Mulder pulling the spread up over them.

"Mulder, I want you to understand something," she started, feeling he felt that even though he had always loved her she had stopped loving him at some point in her life and moved on. Scully moved up to look at him, wanting him to be able to see her. "I never stopped loving you..."

"But you loved your husband. I know you, Scully. You wouldn't have married him if you didn't," Mulder told her, his hand softly smoothing against her back.

"Yes, I loved Richard... I did. He was a wonderful man. But I loved him in a different way than I loved you. I never stopped loving you, Mulder," she told him softly. "You never left my heart."

Mulder looked at her and could see the earnestness in her eyes, see her need for him to understand. He gave her a soft smile and nod, affirming that he did understand and believed her. Scully laid back down next to him burrowing against his side, laying her head on his shoulder, wrapping her leg over his.

"What now, Scully?" Mulder asked after a few minutes.

"You want breakfast?" she asked softly, missing his real point.

"I mean, what are we going to do with our lives?"

"Well, I have to go back to St. Louis. Beyond that, I don't really know... What do you want to do?" she asked tentatively, wondering if he wanted to make a life with her and William or wanted to stay where he was.

"I want to be with you... and our son," he answered. "So, whatever we have to do to accomplish that..."

"Do you like living down here?" she asked him after a few more moments.

"Yeah, but I'm not married to it. I can write anywhere... especially if I'm with you," he told her sincerely. "And I want to know Will."

"And I want you to... I'm just not sure how to tell him about everything that has happened," she explained.

"You want to tell him together?" Mulder asked.

"I've thought about it... but I think, initially, it'd be better if I talked to him alone... to let him get used to the idea before he meets you," she told him, hoping he'd understand.

"I think that's fine... I think you know what would be best, Scully," he told her softly, realizing he would have no clue what might be best for William and suddenly felt a bit overwhelmed.

Scully moved up to look at him again, giving him a soft kiss before speaking. "I want to get back tomorrow and I'll talk to him when I get home," she told him.

Mulder nodded and gave her a soft smile, "We'll get the next flight."


HOME OF DANA SCULLY LADUE, MO
Late the next night

Their flight from Los Angeles had been delayed, so they had arrived at Lambert Field in St. Louis just before midnight so Scully decided to pick William up the next morning and take him to school. Mulder wanted to get a rental to use for the time being, but Scully wouldn't hear of it, getting a cab for them instead.

"Mulder, I have three cars in my garage," she told him, almost embarrassed. "There's no reason for you to rent a car."

"Let me guess," he teased. "Your wagon... a mini-van, maybe an SUV..."

"I thought you knew me better than to ever think I'd drive a mini-van, Mulder."

"SUV, then," he grinned at her. "Am I right?"

"Yes," she admitted reluctantly, trying not to smile at his little game.

"So, what's the other one?" he asked, wanting to tease her, seeing her reluctance to tell him. "Come on, what else? Lexus? A Jag? It's gotta be some kind of luxury car. Come on, Scully."

"A Porsche..." she confessed.

"Your husband had a Porsche?" Mulder asked, wondering about the man who Scully had chosen to be married to.

"No, it's mine. I got it shortly after we got married," she told him. "Richard teased me about it, but we used to take long, wonderful drives in it and I just haven't had the heart to get rid of it. But it somehow didn't seem enjoyable anymore and I just hadn't been able to get past his death... I haven't driven it since he died."

"Oh," Mulder ineptly replied, feeling bad that he had kidded her about something he didn't realize was so personal, what her car had symbolized to her. "I'm sorry, Scully. I didn't realize..."

"It's okay, Mulder. Really. I can talk about Richard without falling apart. At least, now I can," she told him.

After they'd arrived at Scully's house, Mulder had sat his luggage just inside the door, figuring he'd stay just long enough for them to eat a late bite and using one of Scully's cars to go find a hotel room. Scully had put together a couple of sandwiches and made some tea and they sat down at the small breakfast nook in the kitchen to eat.

"Tell me about your life now... how you ended up here... married," he asked her as they began to eat.

"You want the details or just the Cliffs notes?" Scully asked, taking a drink of her tea.

"Whatever you want to tell me," he told her, slipping a lock of her hair behind her ear in an age-old motion.

"Well, I quit the FBI the day Skinner told me you were dead," she told him flatly.

"Really?"

"Really... I never went back. A couple of months later, I found out about a program here where I could earn another specialty, so William and I packed up and I completed the program in Pediatrics and began working at the hospital," she began.

"That where you met your husband?"

"No, we met through mutual friends. Things went slowly for a long time... he asked me to marry him on my birthday and we were married a few months later," she continued, her fingers idly stroking the back of his hand where it laid on the table. "We were only married for a little over two years before... well, before."

"You've never really told me what happened to him, Scully," he asked carefully.

"He, um, was killed in a car accident," she began, wanting to tell him about what her life had been. "He had taken William to a class at the Science Center after school. I was at work. He went to pick up dinner while William was in class and I later found out, had driven downtown to pick up my favorite chocolates because I'd had a bad day at work." Mulder could see by the look on her face that it was becoming difficult for her to finish.

"It's okay, Scully. You don't have to tell me," he told her softly, moving closer to her and gathering her in his arms.

"No, I want to... He, he called me just before and he... he had told me he loved me... I don't know why he said it; we weren't the mushy type. But he had and I started to tell him I'd loved him back, but I didn't... someone walked up within hearing distance and I didn't... I didn't say it..." she confessed and her voice broke. Mulder figured she hadn't told what she'd just said to him to anyone before, knowing she kept her emotions sometimes too much in check. He held her as she cried and he didn't say anything, just trying to be there for her and let her have the time she needed.

Finally, when she had quieted, he spoke, "Thank you for telling me that, Scully."

"Thank you for asking, Mulder. I'm sure it isn't easy for you to hear about my husband," she told him, dabbing at her tears with her napkin. "He was a good man, Mulder. And he loved William very, very much. He was a good father to him."

"I'm glad. I'm glad you and Will had him and that you were happy and had made a life for yourself and Will," he told her sincerely.

"Mulder, William loved Richard, but he never forgot about you. We talked about you often," she reassured him. "And no matter what influence Richard had on William, he is so much more like you."

"Really?" Mulder asked, finding himself feeling nervous about how his son viewed him.

"He loves astronomy... science fiction... his favorite food is pizza," she smiled to him. "He plays basketball, but loves baseball more. And he reads everything he can get his hands on."

"And I bet he loves his mother as much as I love her," Mulder said, overcome with the realization that by this time tomorrow, he would have met his son, a 9 1/2 year old boy who didn't even know his father was alive.

"Oh, Mulder," Scully sighed, her arms slipping around his neck, holding on tight.

"I'd better go, Scully," Mulder soon said, finding his body starting to respond to her proximity. Mulder figured it might be more appropriate to get a hotel room.

"You can stay here tonight... if you want to," Scully had told him. "We'll play things by ear tomorrow..." He put his things in one of the guest rooms, but after they had both showered, they settled into Scully's bed together, her lying on her back, Mulder on his side facing her.

"You okay?" he asked, sensing she seemed a bit off key.

"I'm nervous, I guess."

"About us?"

"Yeah, sort of... how things will go with William... with you," she confessed, snuggling closer to him.

"What are you going to tell him?" Mulder asked, his hand soothing her back as he held her.

"The truth," she told him, not knowing what else to say.

"It'll work out, Scully. He knows you love him and that's everything," he told her before he kissed her; a kiss she returned, her intensity increasing. "I love you, Scully... I hope you know how much," he told her, kissing her neck, her shoulder, slipping her top pajama button open to kiss the top of her right breast. He finished the remaining buttons, and moved his mouth to her nipple, then sucked it into his mouth, his hand moving over her stomach, her abdomen. His palm slid into her panties, moving against her curls and she bent her knee, opening herself to him, wanting to feel his touch.

Mulder continued to stroke her, knowing she was very aroused by the sounds she was making and the way her body was moving under him. "What do you want, Scully..." he said, wanting to make her relax and just let him make her feel good.

"You're batting a thousand thus far, Mulder," she mumbled, her breath quickening as he slipped a finger inside her. Mulder moved down her body, kissing and licking his way down to the vee between her legs. She bent her other knee and when he was positioned between her legs, she laid both her legs over his shoulders.

"Oh, god, Mulder..." she sighed, the feeling of his lips and tongue against her soft flesh absolutely wonderful. He licked her, flicked his tongue against her clitoris, sucking on it as he slipped a second finger inside her, moving them in and out of her. Mulder took her clitoris in his mouth and sucked hard as he moved his fingers into her more deeply, rubbing the top of her vagina firmly. Suddenly her hips bucked and her gasp sounded almost like a scream in the silence of the dark bedroom. He felt her inner muscles grab his fingers, and then begin to pulse as he continued to suck her hardened tissue.

"Jesus..." she said when she was finally able to speak. He continued to stroke her lightly as he moved up over her to look at her.

"Good?" he smiled, happy that she was obviously able to put their current situation out of her mind for a while and let go.

"God, I've missed that," she said, lifting her head from the pillow to kiss him. He moved over her and she helped him to enter her, neither of them moving because of the tremendous sensations they were both feeling. He continued to look into her eyes until, finally, he began to move, her eyes closing at the sensation.

Mulder's orgasm was intense, his body trembling on top of her before he gradually came down. They were laying in each others' arms, moving their bodies slowly against the other, their hands moving lazily over each other's sex-warmed skin. "That felt really good," he told her sleepily.

Scully just watched him as he'd moved off of her, his chest moving as he continued to breathe hard from his efforts. "If you knew how sexy you were, Mulder, you'd be impossible to get along with," she told him, reaching to caress his abdomen. She kissed his chest, snuggling in closer to him, suddenly feeling so tired she could barely keep her eyes open.

"I'll let that slide," he said in response to her comment, spooning up behind her after she'd turned on her side. He kissed her neck, "See you in the morning..."

"Love you," she managed to mumble as she fell off to sleep, hoping her son would love his father as much as she did.


HOME OF DANA SCULLY LADUE, MO
The next afternoon

"Can we drive by the stadium, Mom? They're putting the Christmas lights up," William told her after he'd gotten into the car after school.

"How about we save that for this weekend," she told him as she drove, trying to pay attention to the traffic but having a difficult time concentrating. "We can order 'Imo's' for dinner, though. How's that?" she smiled to him while they were stopped at a light.

"Yessss! Can Aaron come over?" he asked excitedly.

"No, honey. Not tonight. I, um, need to talk to you about something," she told him matter-of-factly.

"Did I do something wrong?" William asked innocently.

"No, honey. No. It's something good, actually," she said to him, forcing a smile through her internal turmoil. She couldn't believe she was as nervous as she was feeling, seemingly tongue-tied over talking to her own son.

Mulder had left most of his things in one of the guest rooms at Scully's house, but they had decided it would be best if he got a hotel room for the night, maybe a few days, depending on how Scully felt about the situation. Mulder trusted her judgment.

"Did you have a good day at school?" she asked William after they had arrived at home and had sat down with their pizza.

"Yeah, sure, Mom," he answered off-handedly, his mouth full of pizza.

Scully took a deep breath and figured she'd just better get on with what she had to do, knowing waiting would achieve nothing. "William, you remember me telling you that your father and I used to work for the FBI, don't you?" she started.

"Yeah, Mom. You and my first dad," he noted.

"Yes, William, your dad, Mulder. Your father. Anyway, sometimes our jobs were very dangerous back then. There were bad people who wanted to hurt us," she explained.

"But not now, right Mom?" William asked concerned.

"No, honey. Not anymore. We're safe and the bad men are gone. But many years ago, just after you were born, there were people who wanted to hurt us, especially your father," Scully continued, losing her taste for her pizza. "And he had to leave us so that all of us would be safe. Do you remember me telling you about that?"

"Yeah. That's when he died, right Mom?" William asked, his attention on his mother.

"Well, William. That was when I was told your father had died," she told him. "But you see, William, it was necessary for the bad men to think that your father was dead so that they wouldn't try to harm him or his family-- you and I. Do you understand?"

"Well, I guess if he was in heaven, they couldn't hurt him," William answered, his insight bringing a smile to Scully's face.

"Exactly, honey. But, recently, well, William, I found out that your dad only made people believe he had died so that the bad men wouldn't hurt us," she said slowly.

"You mean..."

"Yes, William, your dad Mulder is still alive," she told him, looking at him, trying to gauge his reaction.

"My dad Mulder is still alive?" he asked, his voice quiet, but calm.

"Yes, honey. He only pretended that he was killed to protect us," she confirmed.

"My dad's really alive?" William asked again.

"Yes, William. He is."

Scully just watched William, knowing the wheels were spinning in his mind, seeing that he wanted to say something. Finally, he spoke, "Did you know, Mom? Did you know he wasn't really killed?" William asked tentatively, wondering if his mother hadn't told him the truth all along.

"No, honey. No. I was told by the FBI that your dad had been killed. I didn't know he was alive until very recently. That's why I went back to Australia... to find him," she told him. "I wanted to find him before I talked to you. You know, he wants very much to see you, William."

William couldn't seem to look at her, taking a drink of his Sprite before he answered. "He remembers me?"

"Oh, William, of course he does. He's never forgotten you," she smiled to him. "He only did what he did to protect us... to keep us safe. And now that we are safe, he wants to see you."

"He wants to see me?"

"As soon as you're ready."


THE NEXT AFTERNOON

Scully had a fitful sleep, up several times checking on William, despite the fact that he seemed to be sleeping quite well. William hadn't said anything more about what she had told him until she'd tucked him in to sleep.

"When is my dad coming to see me?" he had asked as he crawled into bed.

"How's tomorrow sound?" Scully asked softly, sitting next to his hip on the bed.

"Tomorrow?" he asked quietly.

"He's anxious to see you, William," she told him sincerely.

"Is he going to stay here with us?" he asked then, surprising her. But after what he said soaked in, she realized she should have anticipated his question.

"What would you think about that?" she asked slowly.

"Are you married to him, too?" he asked.

"Remember, William? We talked about this several years ago. Your dad and I never really had the chance to be married," she explained, remembering when she had talked to him about it when she and Richard planned to marry.

"Does he love you like Daddy Richard?" William asked.

"Yes, William, he does... and I love him," she slowly admitted to him, hoping he'd understand. "And he wants a chance to be a father to you..."


HOME OF DANA SCULLY LANCASTER LADUE, MO
The next afternoon

Scully jumped like she had been shocked when the door bell rang, the family room quiet except for the muffled sounds coming from the television as William played his new 'Alien Busters' video game. William didn't seem quite himself at breakfast, but he didn't seem as outwardly nervous as Scully knew she was inside. She had called Mulder late the previous night, after her conversation with William and found herself almost in tears as she related her conversation with him to Mulder. Even though he hadn't openly admitted how nervous he was about seeing his son, she knew Mulder's jokes and retorts were no more than thinly disguised, coping mechanisms to counteract his anxiety.

"Hi," Scully said when she'd answered the door, William still in the family room with his new game.

"Hi," Mulder replied, walking tentatively through the open door, his apprehension very apparent to her. Mulder looked around, not immediately seeing William anywhere. "Where's Will?"

"Um, in the family room. He has a new video game he's enthralled with," she smiled to him. She noticed he had shaved his goatee and cut his hair, making him look almost as she'd remembered him the day he left almost ten years before.

"I suspect I'd be more interested in that than I would be in a father I'd never met if I were him, too," Mulder tried to joke, but Scully understanding his real meaning.

She moved closer to him, taking hold of his hand before speaking, "Mulder... he's your son, just the same as he is mine... he's ours. He will love you," she told him trying to keep her emotions in check; she was probably as nervous as he was. "It'll be okay. Just be yourself and he will love you..."

Mulder followed Scully into the family room, William sitting on the floor in front of the large screen of the television, playing his game. "William..." Scully said softly, getting her son's attention. William immediately stood; looking at his father, recognizing him from the pictures Scully had shown him many times.

"This is your father, William," she said, her voice almost shaking from her apprehension.

"Hello, Will," Mulder said not really knowing what else to say.

"Hi," William answered, holding out his hand as he'd been taught to greet any stranger.

Mulder returned his handshake, bending slightly to William's level before speaking, "Can I give you a hug? It's been a long time since I've done that," Mulder smiled to him. William didn't answer verbally, but allowed Mulder to give him a soft hug and returned it, Mulder noted, as a kid might the affections of an elderly aunt. But what could he expect; his own son didn't know him. When Mulder stood, Scully noticed the tears in his eyes even though he was unable to look at her.

"You look like me," William said out of the blue, Mulder and Scully smiling at his observation, cutting the tension in the air a bit.

"But you have your mother's eyes," Mulder told him, seeing the beautiful blue hue behind his son's long lashes. Mulder looked at Scully and she gave him a slow smile, both of them so apparent in their son.

"Um, you two okay for a few minutes while I make something to drink?" Scully asked, looking at each of them to make sure it was okay to leave them alone together.

"Hot chocolate, please," William said, still standing there while Mulder moved to sit on the overstuffed couch.

"Whatever you're having is fine with me," Mulder added.

"She'll have tea. She always drinks tea," William quipped, looking at his mother for confirmation. Scully smiled to both of them, leaving them alone, not knowing what would happen next, but knowing that she loved both of them beyond words.

"I, um, hear you're a Cardinal's fan?" Mulder said, starting the first real conversation he'd ever had with his own son.

"Everybody in St. Louis likes the Cardinals," William told him, wondering how someone couldn't already know that. "Well, except Mom. She likes the Yankees." Mulder felt his throat tighten, the realization that maybe some things from his former life with Scully were still part of each of them.

William and Mulder talked for several more minutes, neither of them really knowing how to relate to each other, but getting along decently enough. "What have you two been plotting?" Scully asked as she walked in with William's hot chocolate and a couple of mugs of tea for her and Mulder.

"Mulder wants to see the Science Center," William told her excitedly. "Can we go?"

"Um, yeah, that sounds like a good idea," Scully said, glancing at Mulder, giving him a proud smile. "You know, William, maybe Mulder could drive you there after school on Monday..."

"But, Mom, we won't have time to tour the space exhibit," William objected.

"Yeah, Mom," Mulder mimicked and William's surprise at Mulder's comment making Scully laugh.

"I guess I'm outvoted. Is tomorrow afternoon better?" Scully smiled to William.

"Yeah," Mulder and William answered simultaneously, then giving each other a high five. Scully smiled, almost unable to believe where she found herself; in her own living room, watching Mulder and their son enjoying each other's company. In her wildest dreams, she could have never imagined her life being where it was... never.

After the three of them had played a long game of 'Clue', Scully had gone out to pick up take-out, giving William and Mulder more time together. Things seemed to be going well, almost too well, but she was glad that William had seemed so comfortable.

Later, when she'd gone in to tuck William in, she could tell he had something on his mind. "Everything okay?" she asked him, sitting on the edge of his bed.

"Yeah, sure," William answered off-handedly.

"William..." she said, a warning in her voice that let him know she didn't exactly like his answer. "Come on..."

"How come my name's 'Mulder' when you aren't married?" he asked innocently.

Scully was taken aback at his question, never expecting that to be what was bothering him. She wasn't sure what she expected, but that question wasn't it. "Well... he's your father and he, um, had to leave us before we were able to be married. We've talked about this before, William."

"But where's he gonna live?" William then asked, Scully realizing what he really wanted to know.

"I'm not sure, yet. Where would you like him to live?" she asked tentatively.

"I don't know, but if he picks me up from school, my friends might ask me who he is 'cause they think Richard was my dad."

"Honey, Richard was a very good father to you and he loved you very, very much. But he was your step- father. Your friends know that," she said sensitively. "A lot of your friends have step-parents, William."

"But they think my real dad died," he said, Scully finally understanding what the real issue was.

"William, as always, the best thing is just to tell the truth," Scully began. "You've told your friends your real dad was an FBI agent; they know he had a dangerous job. They will understand that his job required him to play like he had been killed... and that's essentially what happened, honey."

"Do I have to tell 'em Monday?" he asked after a few moments of silence.

"No, honey. I can pick you up from school and you can take your time telling your friends. How's that?" she asked him tenderly. He nodded and Scully kissed him before turning out the light, feeling herself sigh a breath of relief after she'd walked out of his room. She'd thought things had gone too easily.

She found Mulder in the family room, sipping a beer as he tried to play William's new video game. "Having fun?" Scully smiled to him as she entered.

"Will can play this thing?" Mulder asked, tossing the controller aside, totally unable to figure his son's new game out. "He's a boy genius."

"Yeah, I've tried to play a few of those things with him, too... they make my head swim," she chuckled as she sat down next to Mulder on the couch, reaching for his beer and taking a sip.

"You okay?" Mulder asked, seeing a distant look in her eyes as she sat beside him.

"William has a lot of questions," she sighed.

"Yeah, I was wondering what was taking you so long to tuck him in," Mulder admitted.

"He's afraid his friends won't understand," she told him, snuggling into his side, laying her folded knees in his lap.

"Well, it might be hard to explain that you dad has come back from the dead," Mulder came back with. Scully gave him a look, not in the mood to kid around, knowing that her present situation was a very serious one, especially to her son. "I'm not making light, Scully. I tend to say inappropriate things when I'm nervous enough to throw up."

"No kidding," she replied deadpan, laying her head back on his shoulder. "He's also wondering where you're going to live."

"I understand that concern," Mulder told her, not knowing himself how things were going to develop. "What did you tell him?"

"Nothing, really. Actually, I think he'd like to have you around, but..." she started, Mulder reading her like a book.

"He wonders why his parents aren't married," Mulder finished for her.

"Yeah, something like that," she confirmed.

"Then let's get married," Mulder said, shifting her to look at her.

"Mulder, just because William wants to be able to tell his friends that his dad is married to his mom is not a valid reason to get married," she told him honestly.

"Scully, that reason is about dead last on the list of reasons why I want to marry you," he told her. "I've known since, well, I think since you were abducted, after you returned, that we'd always be together... somehow. Getting married is just kind of figured in there."

"Seriously?" she asked, surprised that Mulder had ever really given serious thought to being married.

"Look, Scully. I want to be with you and Will and I want to figure out the best way to do that... for all of us. If it were just you and me, well, maybe that piece of paper wouldn't be so important. But it isn't just you and me," he told her and she only nodded and he could tell she didn't fully understand what he was trying to say. "Scully, you do know that I love you, right? I mean, if I didn't love you with everything that I have, I wouldn't want to get married just for Will."

She looked up at him and touched his face with her palm, giving him that soft smile that told him everything. "And I love you, Mulder... I always have."

"Even if I was your husband?" he teased.

"Husband...wow," she sighed, the enormity of the word sinking in.

"Yeah," he agreed, understanding her emotion. "Well, I guess I'd better go..." he said, standing from the couch, picking up his empty beer bottle from the table. "See, I can even clean up after myself."

"You're leaving?" she asked, her disappointment obvious.

"I... didn't think you'd want me to stay," he said. "Under the circumstances."

"Yeah, I guess having you here in the morning might not be the best thing... yet," she confirmed. "But, we could, um, watch a movie or something... eat some popcorn," she smiled, snaking her arms around his neck.

He wrapped his arms around her back, pulling her against his body. "Or maybe make out on your couch..." he smiled.

"Make out? I haven't heard that word in thirty years, Mulder," she chuckled, her hands rubbing slowly over his back.

"Meaning's still the same," he smiled, bending to press his lips against her neck, his hands sliding down to cup her bottom.

"That it is..." **

HOME OF DANA SCULLY AND FOX MULDER LADUE, MO
Two weeks later
Saturday night

Mulder had gotten a motel room until they decided what to do and he had made arrangements to have everything in his apartment packed and shipped back to the U.S. When they went back to Australia to visit, and they would they both decided, they would find a place on the beach, not stay in Mulder's cramped apartment. He had been with William and Scully everyday, but returned to his hotel room each night.

Scully had talked to her mother and told her the news about Mulder, her mother almost hysterical with joy that William had his father and that Scully wouldn't be alone anymore. Margaret and her husband had flown in from Vancouver for Thanksgiving and the holiday had gone well, Scully and Mulder doing their best to cook some of the meal, most of it being done ahead of time by the local grocery store. William loved spending time with his grandmother and he liked his new step- grandfather as well.

"Dana, I want to talk to you," her mother said, calling her into the kitchen from the family room where they all had congregated after dinner.

"What's up, Mom?" Scully asked, picking up a small carrot from an appetizer tray her mom had prepared for later.

"Sit," her mother told her firmly and they both took a seat at the table.

"Am I in trouble?" Scully asked jokingly, but actually wondering if her mother was upset about something.

"I'm going to ask you something and I'm not prying, honey," Margaret started. "But have you and Fox had any time together since he's come home? I mean alone together?"

Scully was surprised to feel herself blush, but felt her cheeks warming at her mother's question, knowing full well what she meant. "Um, not really," Scully answered, feeling that since they hadn't been together since the night they had gotten in from Australia, she was only fudging the truth a bit.

"I want you and Fox to go to his place and Sam and I will stay here with William tonight," her mother told her insistently, seemingly not giving her a choice.

"Mom... I appreciate your gesture, but we're trying to take things slowly with William," Scully explained. "Mulder hasn't stayed here and um, well..."

"Then it's time you two had some time together, Dana," her mother told her again. "You need to work on your relationship with Fox just as the two of you do with William. Don't neglect yourselves, Dana."

Scully thought about it for a few moments and remembered how frustrating it was to send Mulder home each night and how close they'd come several times to doing the deed on the couch in the family room. "You sure you don't mind?" Scully then asked, imagining Mulder naked next to her in bed, feeling her cheeks color again.

"Oh, of course not, Dana. Sam just loves William and I'll bet, William will barely notice you're gone," Margaret smiled, Scully hoping she was right.

"You think William knows where we're going and what we're going to do?" Mulder said, wagging his eyebrows at Scully as he drove towards his hotel.

"Mulder, for god's sake, he's nine years old," Scully replied, not wanting to even entertain thoughts about William growing up; not yet.

"Your mom knows," he teased.

"She suggested it, Mulder," Scully told him plainly. "And I don't think William even cares that we aren't there since Sam and Mom were taking him to the movies and to Ted Drews for ice cream. He's probably forgotten our names."

"You've done a great job with him, Scully. He's a fantastic kid," he told her, reaching for her hand. "I wish I could've been a part of all of that."

"Mulder, please don't say that. It's done. It's not something that can be changed," she told him. "We just need to focus on everything yet to come and be satisfied with what we have." Mulder nodded and gave her a reassuring smile, pulling into the parking garage of his hotel.

Mulder's room was nice, a small suite with a little living room with a couch and TV and a mini refrigerator and microwave in the corner. The view from the bedroom was beautiful, looking west out the twentieth floor over the sparkling lights of the city. "Nice view," she commented as she sat her small overnight bag on the bed, tossing her jacket into the closest chair.

"Yes, it is," he said, walking up behind her, slipping his arms around her waist as he kissed her neck.

Scully turned the instant he did and began kissing him for all she was worth. "God, I want you," she said between kisses, barely able to catch her breath.

"That's not a problem. I ain't plannin' on leavin'," he told her, his hands already moving to the buttons of her sweater as he continued to kiss her. After a few moments, Mulder moved her away from him, taking her face into his palms, giving her only a glance before kissing her. They continued to kiss and it became harder and more heated, both of them panting through their nose until Scully pulled away to breathe.

Mulder buried his face in her neck, softly chanting her name. "I've missed you so much... These two weeks have been absolute torture, Scully," he whispered, his emotion staining his voice.

"I know, Mulder. I know," she said, kissing his cheek, his neck. Mulder moved back to be able to see her again, the meaning behind the look in his eyes very obvious to her. He kissed her again, lifting her to his chest, her feet dangling against his shins. They were both kissing like they were trying to make up for the last nine years, let alone the past two weeks, walking slowly toward his bed.

Even as he carried her, Mulder kissed her passionately, almost forcefully, his gait half-stumbling. Finally, he set her down on her feet, their lips barely parting even as he did. It was Scully who pushed his jacket over his shoulders and began to pull his sweater from his pants. Mulder only stopped kissing her long enough to pull her cardigan over her head without regard for the rest of the buttons. Scully reached behind her back and unfastened her bra even as Mulder was reaching for the button of her pants. "God, Mulder," she panted, grabbing for the button of his jeans, now noticing his sizable bulge. Mulder's lips latched on to a nipple, his suction taking a sizable portion of the end of her breast into his mouth.

Scully pulled down the zipper of Mulder's pants, her hands trying to pull them down as quickly as she could. Suddenly, Mulder moved her hands away, pulling his pants down himself, not wanting to waste any more time. As Scully watched him, she hurriedly pulled off her pants and panties, kicking them off her feet. Mulder pulled his boxers and pants down, his penis springing free, Scully reaching for him as she pushed him toward the bed, both of them falling back on top of the spread, Mulder's legs hanging over the edge of the bed.

"Mmmmmm, Scully," Mulder managed as she crawled up over him, her breasts pressed against his chest, as she kissed him and kissed him. Mulder grabbed and squeezed her bottom as she lay atop him, her groan caught in his mouth. Mulder then grabbed her shoulders, rolling her off of him, his body moving over hers in one move. "God, Scully, I can't wait," he moaned, kissing her neck, his groin nuzzling hers.

"God, me either. Mulder...," she panted, reaching for his penis to help him put it where she wanted it. He pushed into her quickly, hard, both of them grunting from his action.

Mulder's back arched at the feeling of her warm, tight canal, him tightening himself trying not to come at that very moment. "Scully, I... I..." he stuttered barely able to speak. "I'm not going to, uhhhhh, last long."

Scully began undulating against him, wanting him to move, needing him to move. She held onto him low on his hips and pulled her knees up so that her feet were sitting on top of his bottom. He shifted on top of her, moving his knees closer to her thighs which put more pressure on her pelvic bone. "Oh, Mulder. Yesssss, there. There," she gasped, his pubic hair making sweet friction against her swollen clitoris. The smack of flesh against flesh echoed in the bedroom as they were both almost desperate to make each other come.

Mulder shifted against her again and thrusted harder and deeper, her body arching underneath him as her climax hit, her pelvis jerking underneath him as he continued to pound into her. "GodIloveyou," she managed to tell him after she was on the downside, his orgasm hitting just as she was able to focus and lift herself up to kiss him as he yelled her name. He emptied into her with several more erratic, forceful thrusts, his body collapsing over her afterward.

"Scully, Scully, Scully," was all he could say, his voice muffled into the flesh of her neck. He balanced himself on his forearms and his hips continued to move sinuously against her until his penis slipped out but she could still feel its warm wetness moving against her folds.

Mulder held himself over her, the full length of their bodies pressed together, both of them still moving slowly against each other. His eyes never left hers and they looked at each other without speaking for several long minutes. "I love you, Scully," Mulder finally said, holding her face between his palms. "I never stopped loving you."

Mulder moved off of her rolling to his side next to her as she lay on her back. They were still lying across the bed, never having made it to lay lengthwise. "That was worth waiting for," he said, drawing his finger against her skin from her breastbone to her pubic hair, causing her to shiver.

Scully moved to kiss him, her arms wrapping around his neck, her leg hanging itself over his hip as they faced each other. "I would have to agree," she said plainly, nuzzling further into him to hold him. Finally, they moved into the bed and covered each other before falling into a sated sleep.

The next morning, Scully roused slowly, the familiar feeling between her legs bringing a small smile to her face. She stretched as she rolled to her side, trying to wake, Mulder still asleep, his mouth half-open. Scully smiled to herself, thinking how unbelievable it still was that she had him back. She moved over quietly, slowly taking his nipple between her lips and beginning to softly suckle.

"Scully... what are you doing?" Mulder drowsily grumbled, still not opening his eyes.

"Giving you a wake-up call," she chuckled to him.

"You're chipper this morning," he said, finally able to open his eyes to look at her next to him.

"Yes, actually, I am," she smiled, moving up to give him a quick kiss on the lips. "I feel really good."

"You do, huh?" he looked at her and smiled.

Scully lay back down against him, her head on his shoulder, her leg draping across his. "Mulder, we need to do something about our living arrangements," she finally said. "I don't want to be alone anymore and I don't want you here alone either."

"At least you have Will," he reminded her.

"I know and I can't stand the thought of you being here without us."

"What do you want to do?" he asked, letting her decide how to handle things with William. Even though he felt things had gone well between them the last two weeks, he knew Scully knew best about how to deal with his reintroduction into his son's life.

"We'll talk to William as soon as Mom and Sam go back to Vancouver. I want you home," she told him, holding him as tight as she possibly could.


THREE DAYS LATER

"You like the Yankees, too?" William asked as he helped Mulder unpack his clothes, noticing his baseball cap.

"Well, yeah, Will, I do," Mulder answered honestly.

"But you can't be a Yankee fan and a Cardinal fan at the same time," William pointed out.

"Sure I can. Yankees are American League, Cardinals are National," Mulder tried to convince him. "Now we've got two teams to like." William pondered that for a moment and finally nodded, seemingly convinced that Mulder's idea would be okay.

"You don't have much stuff for an old guy," William observed, Mulder's few boxes having finally arrived from Australia.

"I've lived fairly simply," Mulder smiled to him.

"Well, Dad, I'm not sure it'll be so simple around here," William said, not even realizing how profoundly his word had just affected Mulder, Scully walking into the room just as he'd said it, hearing it, too. "Mom'll make you do chores. That's what she does to me."

Mulder moved to William and bent down to take him in his arms and hugged him tight before he even realized what he'd just done. When he'd let him go, Mulder looked at him sincerely. "Will, I want you to know something... I love you, son. I just want you to know that," Mulder said, Scully barely able to watch their interchange.

"Yeah, I know. Mom told me," William replied, then noticing the tears in his dad's eyes. "It's okay, Dad. It's okay," he said, hugging Mulder in return. Scully left the room, unable to contain her emotions, not letting either of them know that she had witnessed their conversation.

"I, um, I'd like you to be my best man... for the wedding," Mulder told him.

"Best man?" William asked, not fully understanding what that meant.

"Yeah, you'd stand up with me and your mom at the wedding. You'd be a part of it, too," Mulder told him, hoping William was accepting parents' wedding as well as he seemed to be.

"Awesome. Do I get a tuxedo like yours?" William asked hopefully.

"Um, yeah... yeah," Mulder confirmed, relieved that William wasn't abhorred by the idea. "Come on, Will. Let's get the rest of this stuff unpacked," Mulder said, ruffling his son's hair as he stood.

"You get everything unpacked?" Scully asked when the two of them came downstairs a little while later, finding her in the kitchen.

"Yeah, Mom. Did you know that my Dad likes the Yankees? Just like you," William said innocently, Mulder's eyes immediately making contact with Scully's.

"I know, William. How do you think I became a Yankees fan in the first place?" she smiled, moving over to Mulder, slipping her arm around his waist.

"And I get to be best man?" William told her excitedly, Scully smiling to Mulder, relieved that he had talked to William about the wedding.

"But I'm the only one who gets to kiss your mother," Mulder teased, giving Scully a long kiss on the lips.

"Oh, brother," William said, rolling his eyes, starting to head for the family room.

"Hey, William. Aaron wants you to come over for dinner. Go get your coat," Scully said to him, looking up at Mulder with a smile.

After Mulder walked William to his friend's house down the street, he imagined that Scully had something on her mind. When he got back in the house, he found her bundled in her coat complete with scarf and hat, slipping on her gloves. "There's an extra scarf and hat in the closet, Mulder. You're gonna need to dress warm," she smiled to him.

"I fully expected you to be taking your clothes off when I got back, Scully, not putting more on," he smiled to her, but getting the things from the closet.

"Come on, Mulder," she said, gathering her purse and her car keys.

"Do I get to ask where we're going?" Mulder asked, following her toward the door to the garage.

"Ever ridden in a Porsche?"

END




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