Title: Family Ties II
Author: Nikki
Archive: Gossamer, Xemplary, MTA and Ephemeral ok. All other archives, please ask first--I like to know where my stuff is so that I can visit.
Rating: PG
Spoilers: Colony, Endgame, Redux II, Emily and of course, my story Family Ties (there's also an eensy weensy reference to Soft Light, let me know if you catch it)
Category: story, angst, alternate universe, UST
Keywords: Mulder, Scully, Maggie Scully, Samantha

Summary: Um, well, it would really help if you read Family Ties. But if not, you need to know that Samantha and her husband were killed and left instructions that they wanted Mulder to take care of their two young children. When we last saw the dynamic duo, Scully was going home to pack for the trip up to deal with Sam's belongings and she had agreed to consider Mulder's suggestion that she join him in an effort to adopt the children.

So, we rejoin this saga already in progress:
Timeline: This entire series of events occurs after the 5th season/movie (remember, in Folie A Deux, Mulder is still referring to he and Scully as having been partners for 5 years. They have a funny sense of time in their universe, not my fault.)
Disclaimer: Still not mine. I'm still trying though. In the meantime, no money is being made and no harm nor infringement is intended.

Thanks: Thanks to Gerry, Suzi, Traci, everyone who wrote me about the first Family Ties story and the faculty at XFU. (But especially to Gerry who patiently read and re-read this story way more times than anyone should have!) This story was originally presented as a thesis at XFU. Go visit them, they have cool things there.

She paused at the scene before her. It touched her heart in ways she'd never imagined it would, and yet, it disturbed her at the same time. This was not the Mulder that she knew. Mulder had never once mentioned wanting children, a family. She quickly silenced the little voice in her head that reminded her of other things that Mulder had never mentioned that had turned out to be important.

Mulder was sitting cross-legged on the neatly manicured front lawn at a tiny pink plastic table, sipping tea from a tiny plastic cup, surrounded by dolls. Large dolls, in frilly ruffles. Dirty dolls, with tangled hair and missing limbs. Tiny dolls, laying in receiving blankets on the ground. And directly across from him, sat Felicia, his 3-year-old niece, with a doll resting in her lap and a cup of tea held in her hand in what she hoped was an exact mirror image of the way Mulder was holding his cup. Steven, Felicia's 5-year-old brother, was less than 10 feet away, chasing a remote control car in an endless series of dizzying spins.

As she approached them, Scully made a mental note to remind Mulder that it wasn't healthy for the children if he continued to display such a strong sense of favoritism for Felicia--siblings grew resentful of one another if one believed that the other was loved more.

Steven saw her first and started jumping up and down and chanting "Dana" at the top of his lungs. Mulder saw her and placed his tea cup on the tiny table as he unfolded his legs and rose to greet her.

"Scully..." Mulder, embarrassed at having been caught playing tea with a three-year old and surprised by his own joy at seeing Scully again, fumbled, at a loss for what to say, and finally settled on something harmless. "How was the drive up?"

"It was fine." Steven directed his car to attack Scully's ankles and he came running right after it.

"Dana, Dana! You came back!"

She smiled down at him. "Yes, I did. I told you I would."

"I know, but..."

She saw a flash of pain cross his features and she rushed to try to lighten the moment. "I couldn't leave Felicia up here with just you two guys. I had to come back to make sure that you two didn't gang up on her and make her do all kinds of icky boy stuff." Scully crinkled her nose up and made a face, but she quickly smiled to let him know that she was only teasing him.

Mulder looked at her, his question apparent in his eyes, but when he spoke, it was to the children. "Come on guys. Time to go inside and clean up for lunch."

Steven looked up at him and asked, "We're having peanut butter and jelly right? You promised."

Mulder nodded. "The biggest peanut butter and jelly sandwiches you've ever had! But you've gotta clean up and put all your toys away first."

As she and Mulder watched, Steven happily ran off, grabbed his truck and ran inside to prepare for his feast. Felicia, however, looked at Mulder and said, "But we haven't finished tea yet."

Mulder crouched down to speak to her. "I know Leesh. But it's lunchtime right now and I need to you to put everything away and wash your hands."

"But I want to finish my tea!"

"We can finish tea after lunch. We can set everything back up in the living room, or we can even come back outside if you want, but right now it's lunchtime."

"No!!!! I want to finish tea now!!! Before lunch!!!"

"Well Leesh, you know, in England, they usually have tea after lunch. So if we do it then, we can pretend that we're all proper British ladies, and maybe even Scully will have tea with us, and..."

"No!!!!!!" Felicia had turned bright red with anger and the first tears were already rolling down her rounded cheeks.

Scully raised an eyebrow at the display and wondered about the wisdom of her decision to return. This was not the picture of domestic bliss that had been her last glimpse of the three of them as she'd gotten into the taxi to go home a week ago.

"Felicia, Dana and I are going inside now to wash up and have lunch with Steven. When you're ready, you can put your toys away and come and join us." With that, Mulder rose and started walking towards the house. After a few steps, he stopped and turned, "You coming Scully?"

She started walking towards him as she answered, "Oh yeah. Wouldn't want to miss these giant peanut butter and jelly sandwiches of yours."

Scully noted that despite his apparent tactic of not allowing Felicia's misbehavior to impact the actions of everyone else, Mulder was very careful to not let either child remain out of his hearing or his sight for more than a few seconds. He stepped just inside the threshold of the house and called out to Steven, making certain that he was in fact, inside the house and not up to too much mischief. More importantly, when Mulder came in, he didn't quite close the door all the way. Through the small opening, he watched Felicia as she sat and pouted. However, after just a few seconds of Mulder not being in her sight, Felicia got up and began moving towards the house. Once she was in clear view of the door, he turned and went towards the kitchen.

By the time they reached the kitchen, Steven was already there. "Can I help? Can I spread the jelly?"

Mulder laughed. "Naw. That's ok buddy. I think I can handle it. Why don't you go hang out in your room for a few minutes and I'll whip up the sandwiches and call you when they're ready."

Steven thought about it for a moment. Scully took that opportunity to once again study the boy. She was fascinated by how much of Mulder she could see in him. She'd seen photos of Mulder as a young boy and the resemblance was startling. From the wide smile, the full lips, the straight dark hair, the freckles, the big, expressive eyes. She wondered if the resemblance would persist into his teen and adult years. Whether he'd find, as Mulder had, that with age, the freckles would fade, the hair would become unruly and the nose would grow.

Steven, given the choice between a few more minutes of play and helping to make his own lunch, chose to play, leaving Mulder a precious few minutes alone with Scully. He turned to her and was disappointed to find that he couldn't read her expression.

She however, could read his easily. He looked anxious and guilty--a state of mind that she couldn't afford to have him in when she told him her news.

"Look Scully, I know you left here because you felt like everything was moving too fast, that you needed some time away to think about everything. And...well, it gave me some time to think too."

"Mulder, I..."

"No, wait Scully. I want you to know that I don't...that...that there's more going on here with Steve and Felicia than we knew last week. It was unfair of me to ask you to take them on. I'm sorry."

"Mulder, it's ok. Like you said, I've had time to think about it. And, I don't think it's such a horrible idea. Yes, there are a lot of things about our lives that we'll have to change, but, like you said on the first plane ride here, what are the odds of someone else literally begging me to take care of their children. The situation is right for me to be able to adopt them. And they already know me, and you would remain an important part of their lives because they wouldn't be with strangers who don't know you, and..."

"No Scully. You don't understand. I can't ask you to do this with me. I won't."

"What?" Despite her exasperation at him for cutting her off, she gave him a questioning look that was normally saved for his most outlandish of theories.

"I appreciate that you think enough of the kids, of me...of us...to want to take this on. I'm grateful beyond words to know that in this, as in everything that's come before, you've been willing to follow my lead. But,...this is my family, my responsibility."

Scully used every ounce of self-restraint she had to not slap him. She took a deep breath and spoke quietly. "Mulder, a week ago, when I left here, you were virtually begging me to help you adopt these children. You reasonably and rationally refuted every single argument that I posed for why it was a bad idea and refuted arguments that I hadn't even thought of. You posited multiple scenarios of how such an arrangement could be made to work...."

"I know, Scully and I...."

"Shut up Mulder and let me finish." She took another deep breath and continued. "I left here convinced that you were crazy. That what you were proposing was madness. Then I spent a week thinking about it, talking to people and gathering information. I had just about decided that maybe you were right, that we could do this, and then, that we had to do this, and now I come back to find out that not only have you changed your mind, but that you think so little of me, as to say something as selfish as, 'this is your family, your responsibility! We discussed how our work would be affected if both of us were to do this. Did you stop to think for one minute that perhaps your decision to be the great noble one might have repercussions in my life, in my career? Did you ever think that perhaps those children need us more than you might have ever imagined?"

"Scully, it's for exactly those reasons that I can't let you do this. There are things you don't know. Unexpected...difficulties..."

"Well why don't you enlighten me?"

Mulder turned away from her and reached into a cupboard and pulled out jars of peanut butter and jelly. He sat them on the island in the center of the kitchen then went back to the cupboards for four small plates. He said nothing as he removed the bread from the bread box and rooted around in the silverware drawer for a knife. His preparations complete, he began speaking again.

"The day after you left, Felicia started...acting up. I assumed it was just a grief reaction. They're still trying to understand that their parents are never coming back, never mind why they aren't coming back. I figured in a few months, with care and support, she'd be fine. And then, I got this phone call and some papers in the mail."

Scully sat on one of the blond wood barstools and cleared her throat. "Mulder, I said that while I was gone I gathered some information. I think it may relate to what you're trying to tell me. I wanted to confirm some things, so I..."

"Scully, Felicia was molested by an aide at her pre-school. Sam had dealt with her 'behavior problems' for the past few months, until a new teacher suggested that Leesh's behavior was indicative of something traumatic having happened to her. Sam and Leesh were in therapy for it. Leesh has all this anger about what happened--and no way to really deal with it. This,..." Mulder waved his arms around to indicate the entire situation in general, "...is not making things any easier. Anyway, the therapist called to find out why they hadn't come to their next appointment on the same day that some documents arrived from their lawyer. Philip had started some sort of proceedings against the daycare center and there were a bunch of papers that needed signing. So you see Scully, there are all sorts of unforeseen complications here. Felicia is a very deeply troubled little girl with all sorts of issues and problems that are going to take a lot of time and a lot of energy and a lot of unconditional love to work through. And that's more of a commitment than I have a right to ask of you."

It wasn't how he'd intended to tell her. In fact, it was miles away from the carefully thought out speech he'd developed over the last few days. But he knew that they had at best, only a few more minutes of privacy and somehow, his bald statement just seemed the best thing to say at that moment. He said nothing as he spread obscenely thick layers of peanut butter on two pieces of bread. Two other pieces of bread had barely enough peanut butter on them to cover the surface. Scully easily guessed which sandwiches were for whom and then chastised herself for getting so easily distracted. She then briefly pondered how once again, Mulder, in a gesture that was intended to spare her hurt, had managed only to hurt her more deeply.

"Mulder, I don't know what to say. I'm heartbroken, for a little girl who has suffered something horrible, whose whole life has been colored by the inexplicable and callous acts of someone else. And I'm disappointed. Because despite all that we've been through, despite all that's happened, despite your profession that the truth is what matters most to you, you still insist upon withholding bits of the truth from me and allowing me to go forward as if I had the whole story. Mulder, I spent a week agonizing over what to do. Did it ever occur to you to that perhaps knowing what I might be getting myself into might have made a difference in terms of my decision? Not that it would have, but once again, *you* made the decision to withhold information from me until either you were forced to share it or until you thought the time was right for sharing it. And I'm disappointed that you seem to think that I'd be willing to help you only so long as it was easy...or at least easy in relative terms."

"No, Scully, that's just it. I knew that knowing what happened to Leesh probably would make you even more willing to help. And I can't ask that of you."

"Why don't you let me decide what is and is not too much for you to ask of me?"

At that moment, Felicia came into the kitchen. She made a big production of sitting down at the table and impatiently awaited her sandwich.

Mulder gave Scully a look, and placed the completed sandwiches on their separate plates. He picked up two and carried them to the table. Scully picked up the two remaining plates and followed him to the table.

Lunch, though quiet and tense, passed without incident. Mulder asked Scully a number of obligatory questions about how things were proceeding at work and her answers were short and distracted. For her part, Scully used the time to covertly study Felicia, noting her short brown curly hair that was just a shade lighter than either her uncle's or her mother's had been, the pert nose that was just a bit more of button that anyone in the Mulder family could lay claim to, her smattering of freckles that was so light that one had to look closely to even see that they were there, and dark brown almond shaped eyes that were most certainly going to entrance more than their fair share of males as she got older. Scully thought about the two children and the advice that she had sought from her mother.

When she'd first returned to DC after the funeral, she'd given her mother a brief summary of what had happened and what she and Mulder were contemplating. Her mother had looked at her intently and finally said, "Dana, children are a huge responsibility when you've planned and hoped for them. To have them just dropped into your life...and these children are grief stricken. They'll start misbehaving, not to make you angry but because they're angry and don't know how else to get it out. And by the time they've reached three and five, so much of their personalities have already been formed, and..."

"Mom, I know that. And I know the huge changes that I'll have to make in my life to accommodate children. But I think...I think it's right for me now. The children are wonderful, they need parents--I want kids but I can't have them. Mulder and I know one another better than any two people really should. And he wants the children as well. And we both know that the chances of either one of us alone getting custody, despite Samantha's wishes, just aren't that good. But together..." Scully's voice had taken on a wondrous quality, as she tried to convey to her mother just a hint of how much stronger she and Mulder were together than apart. "...but I need your support mom, for whichever decision that I make."

"Dana, I'm sure that you've thought about all of the logistical things that come with having children. How to balance work with having time to spend with the children; how you and Fox will handle nurse duty when one or both of the kids gets sick, and then what to do when one or both of you comes down with whatever the kids have; how you'll cover all of those unexpected bills and surprise calls from school to come down and pick up your errant child." Maggie Scully held her hand up to let her daughter know that she wasn't through speaking.

"I'm sure you've thought of all of those things, as well as how to deal with a...partner...who like most males, will often seem like more of a child than the children, and who, since you work with him, will be a virtually inescapable aspect of every moment of your life. But I don't know if you've thought about some of the other things. How your heart will break the first time one of them comes home scraped up because some bully at school pushed them around; or the intense frustration that comes with having teenagers in the house--teenagers who are angry at their bodies and at everyone around them, but most especially, angry at you; or how you will deal with the heart stopping fear that comes whenever one of them gets home later than expected.

"Now Dana, don't get me wrong. Motherhood is a wonderful experience. For every negative thing that I've pointed out, there are five magnificent things that will happen." Her face grew more somber as she said, "Unfortunately, with these children, you'll have already missed some of them. But there are other things. The youngest one,...you might still get to experience the first day of 'real' school; and the first sports team; watching them develop into young adults, and then adults; graduation and a hundred other things." Maggie sighed then continued, "Dana, there's so much to being a parent, so many moments of extreme joy and extreme sadness. And I don't know that anyone is ever really 100% ready or sure if having children is the right thing to do. But no one can do it alone. It's too much, and if you're uncertain...."

Dana stood up and picked up her purse, preparing to leave. Maggie reached out and grabbed her hand. "Dana, I have stood behind every decision you've made in your life. Even when I thought you were making a mistake. I told you what I thought, then I supported you as best I could. I did it because you are my daughter and I love you. That hasn't changed. But I'm asking you to think very very carefully about what you're considering doing. Think about all of the parties involved. Fox is a nice man. But is he really ready to be a father? And are you ready to enter into a childrearing relationship with him? And most importantly, is this best for the children? Once you've made your decision, I will do whatever I can to help you. Ok?"

Dana had nodded and said a few parting words before returning to the Bureau to do some work. That afternoon, while sitting at her office, she'd received some information that put all of her mother's arguments, and all of her own carefully considered arguments had been thrown into a different light and had caused her to call Mulder and tell him that she would be returning to New York that weekend.

By the time Mulder carried the empty plates to the dishwasher, Felicia's anger over her disrupted tea had abated, but her desire to complete the ritual was still strong. Mulder ruffled her hair as he sent her off to collect all of the "guests" in the front yard while Steven was treated to a high five before returning outside to resume playing with his car. A part of Scully was pleased to see that temper tantrums aside, Mulder had grown much more comfortable with the children during the time that she'd been away. While Mulder had never had a problem with children, initially it had been apparent that he hadn't spent that much time with any. Now, he showed all of the signs of being almost like any other overindulgent parent-- equally comfortable doling out discipline and affection. For various reasons that she didn't want to explore, the thought made her uneasy.

Mulder and Scully walked back outside and stood just outside the door. Mulder explained that from that vantage point, they could speak privately while still keeping an eye on both children. Mulder knew from the look that Scully gave him that she thought he was taking his child-watching duties, particularly of the older Steven, just a bit too seriously. He could not tell her how the children had kept him going over the past week. That he needed to be around them, around their energy and their ability to live in the moment if he was to keep himself from giving up completely. He knew that he was sublimating his grief over his sister's death into unbounded enthusiasm for her children, but he also knew that to do anything else would leave him virtually paralyzed.

He also knew that they had to resolve the issue of the children's care quickly and amicably. Even if he was adopting the children on his own, he would still want Scully to speak to the court on his behalf.

"Scully, look, I'm sorry that my decisions have upset you. But I think that maybe that's just further proof that this is something that I need to do alone."

"No Mulder. This is *not* something that you should be doing alone. All this proves is that you need to think a little more carefully about how your decisions might affect me and others around you. But I've been trying to tell you something since I first got here. I've uncovered some evidence...."

Mulder's brow wrinkled in confusion. "So wait a minute. It was ok when you wanted to adopt Emily on your own, but not when I want to adopt kids?"

Scully sighed in exasperation. How like Mulder to get stuck on the unimportant part of her statement. "Mulder, this is not about me. It's not about Emily. This is an entirely different situation." Then she stopped herself. "Actually, no. It's not. That's part of what I've been trying to tell you. When I went back to DC, I took some hair samples from Samantha and the children and had PCR testing done."


"I needed proof of Samantha's identity. I wanted...I wanted to be sure that you weren't being somehow set up, somehow thrust into some situation that was guaranteed to keep you...to keep us from searching for the truth. Mulder I'm sorry, but we've seen too much for me to just blindly believe the claims of anyone appearing out of nowhere and claiming to be Samantha."

"Scully, I told you before..."

"I know, Mulder, I know. That you'd sat and talked with her, that you were convinced that it was really her. But I didn't talk with her, and I needed evidence to convince myself."

Mulder shook his head. "I...our search..."

Scully took the opportunity to cut him off. "I know Mulder. I remember our conversations. That taking care of the children just meant that we'd have to find new ways of searching, that our quest would involve more computer and paper research rather than active field work, that we'd have to cover our paper trails more carefully. Believe me, I remember the speech. But you have to admit, that getting one or both of us out of the field would reduce our effectiveness. What good is uncovered information if there's no one out there to act upon it?"

Mulder was silent, which emboldened Scully to continue.

"Mulder, the results of the tests I had done...I went back and checked with the morgue here. Didn't you think it was odd that there were no remains whatsoever from the car accident? Of either Samantha or Philip? Accepting that there was an explosion and fire after the crash, think about the heat that's necessary to burn bone Mulder..."

Mulder began shaking his head in disbelief. "Are you saying that someone stole the bodies? That the accident was a set-up?"

"No. No one stole the bodies because there were no bodies to steal. The PCR results on Samantha and Philip Martin showed the presence of additional DNA sequences. Sequences that do not occur in nature. After I saw those results, I asked the Bureau labs to run a few additional tests on the remaining fragments of the car. There was a residue. Corrosive. Identical in composition to the residue that was left behind when the body of that other woman who claimed to be Samantha was recovered from the water."

Mulder placed his hands on his hips and bent over at the waist as if she'd punched him. She could see him take several deep breaths as he tried to assimilate this new information. She knew he didn't want to hear her next words just as surely as she knew that she had to say them.

"Mulder, whoever that woman was, she wasn't Samantha Mulder-Martin."

Mulder straightened up. A muscle in his jaw twitched as he asked Scully, "Another clone?"

Scully pursed her lips as she tried to phrase her answer. "I can't say that with any certainty. All I can say is that she was subjected to some procedure or exposed to some contaminant that caused her blood and bone and tissue to decompose in a manner that we've encountered before."

Mulder restrained himself from rolling his eyes at her response and asked another question. "And the kids?"

Scully studied the ground for a few seconds before bringing her eyes up to meet his. "Felicia's DNA indicates that she was not the child of either the woman who claimed to be Samantha Mulder-Martin nor the man who went by the name of Philip Martin."

Mulder turned his face up to the sky and blew out a large breath. Looking back down at Scully he asked, "And Steven?"

"Steven's DNA tests indicate that there is a 98.5 percent certainty that he is your son."

Mulder looked at her blankly for a moment. Then he whirled around in anger, cursing and stamping his foot on the ground like a petulant child. She watched as the emotions cascaded across his face. Sadness, anger and then something that appeared to be resigned acceptance.

"Goddamn it, Scully! Goddamn it!"

"Mulder, calm down. It's ok. We'll find out what they did, and how they did it."

Mulder just shook his head, unable to speak just yet.

Scully went on in an attempt to reassure him. "Mulder, this time, they've made a mistake. They've repeated themselves. I can't believe that they didn't think that we wouldn't see the pattern."

Mulder looked up at her, pain and confusion evident in his eyes. "Pattern?"

"Of suddenly having a child who is a genetic offspring appear. I know you've said it before, Mulder, but this time, I think we must be really close to something. When I was in DC I reviewed all of the files for cases we've been working on recently, but I didn't see anything that stood out as being particularly unusual. I brought the files up with me for you to review them as well.

"In the meantime, I'd like to have Steven tested in a secure facility as soon as possible. If he isn't sick yet, there's a possibility that we can save him. That we can prevent what happened...what happened to Emily from happening to him."

As she spoke to him, Mulder's face crumpled. Scully fleetingly thought that the last time she'd seen him look so dejected, he'd been sitting by the side of what everyone thought was his mother's deathbed.

"No, Scully. It's not what you're thinking. At least, I don't think it is. I think that Steven is my son. And I think that he came into this world the traditional way. I think that they found my ex-wife and the child that she was pregnant with when she left me."


Mulder looked up into the sky again, and began speaking in a quiet monotone. "After Patty left, I was cleaning up the bathroom, putting my stuff back where it had been. And back behind one of the drawers under the sink, I came across this instructions for a home pregnancy test..."

"What were you doing looking behind the drawers?"

Mulder looked at Scully, bewildered as to why, in the face of what she had just heard, she would ask about his particular cleaning habits. He quickly replaced his look of curiosity with a purposefully blank one. Scully was just being Scully, dealing with an emotionally loaded issue by first dealing with the details. He had no doubt that she'd thoroughly tackle the main issue in due course. Or perhaps not. Perhaps this time she would wait and see what he would tell her of his own accord.

"I was looking for a pack of replacement blades for my razor which I had put in the drawer. But that's not important. Look, I'm sure you're wondering why I've never mentioned having a wife before."

Scully arched an eyebrow at him and dryly replied, "The thought had crossed my mind." She held up her hand to silence his reply. "But I also know that we've never talked much about our private lives. Unlike your behavior on various cases and other things that have directly affected my life, I can fully understand why you wouldn't want to share the news of a failed marriage...of course, like so many other things in your life, this does now seem to have encompassed my life as well, so I suggest that you start explaining."

Mulder couldn't help smiling at her olive branch, offered to him securely wrapped within a gentle gibe at his behavior.

"Not much to tell. She was my first romance after I got back to the States after Oxford. We dated over a summer, got married that fall, two weeks before I started at the Academy. The marriage went south within three months. But we were both too stubborn to end it. Her parents and mine had been against the marriage. Neither one of us was ready to let them gloat about how right they were. So, we separated, went our own ways. Amazingly enough, we managed to keep our parents from finding out about things for almost two years. Even then, we wouldn't divorce. I kept saying that maybe we just needed time apart, that maybe, the problem was with me, with my inability to get past the fact that she wasn't Phoebe. I was stupid enough to think that she'd wait around for me to get my act together. Then I found out that she was dating some congressional aide. I started seeing Diana not long after that. Then, in one of those acts of fate that is neither random nor without consequence, we both found ourselves alone again in late 1991. And we both thought that we'd matured enough to try and make it work. Wrong again. We lasted about ten months. I came home one night and Patty said she'd had it. That my obsessions had merely changed and worsened. She left. End of story. Until now."

"So you didn't know she was pregnant when she left?"

Mulder paused before answering. "No. I'd had suspicions, after I found that instruction sheet, but, she was gone."

"And you didn't make any efforts to find her?"

"I did. But you know as well as I do, when someone really wants to disappear, it's not all that hard. Especially not after you've spent time with someone who, in casual conversation, might have mentioned once or twice various tricks used by criminal suspects."

Scully nodded understandingly, but her voice held more than just a little sarcasm. "So you let a woman who may or may not have been carrying your child just fade into the woodwork?"

Mulder exhaled in exasperation. "It wasn't like that, Scully. I can't explain it. But it was the best thing for everyone at the time."

"Somehow I can't imagine a judge looking favorably upon awarding custody of two young children to a man who saw fit to let a woman walk away with his unborn child."

Mulder's eyes held the beginnings of anger. "You think they'd be more likely to find in my favor if I had *stalked* her?"

Scully pressed her lips together and turned her head away, realizing that their discussion was quickly degenerating. Mulder prevented her from saying anything more by turning to go back into the house. "I've got to get back to the kids. Not good to leave them alone for more than a few minutes."

Scully nodded, suddenly feeling more charitable towards him. She couldn't help but smile to herself as she considered how the children had already impacted their emotional lives. She and Mulder had shared more, had run through more emotions more quickly in the past two weeks than they had in the entire five years before then. Better to return to the odd state of being that served as neutral ground for them.

"Razor blades, Mulder? You were looking for razor blades?" Her tone was both mildly disbelieving and sarcastic.

"Not razor blades. You know, the little round blades that go in an electric shaver. Do you have any idea how hard it is to find the right sized ones when you need them? I usually buy two or three packs at a time."

Scully raised both an eyebrow and a half smile. "Now I know what to get you for Christmas."

"I'm still waiting for that tool belt you promised me."

"Maybe I just prefer seeing you whip things out of your pockets."

Mulder's head whipped to the side, checking to make certain that the woman standing next to him was still Scully.

She had one more serious question for Mulder before they got inside. "Mulder, we need to find out what happened to Steven's mother. What happened to Felicia's parents as well. The photo albums that we saw when we first got here would seem to show that Steven and Felicia were with the couple posing as the Martins since they were born."

Mulder nodded. "My guess is either the kids were stolen from their parents at a very young age, or they were taken from them at a later age and have had false memories implanted."

"False memories? Mulder, scientists still don't have a complete understanding of how the memory centers in the brain work. To implant false memories would require..."

"Do you remember what happened to you out at Ruskin Dam? Or after you were taken by Duane Barry? I still can't remember what happened to me, what I saw at Ellens Air Force Base."

Scully blinked back sudden and unexpected tears. While Ruskin Dam was still a gaping hole in her memory, she had, over time, recalled a great deal of what had been done to her after Duane Barry had broken into her home and kidnapped her. She'd never mentioned her returning memories to Mulder, although the subject had come up in the middle of a heated discussion with Skinner during the time when she was protecting Mulder after his fake suicide. Perhaps Mulder wasn't the only one who withheld personal information that could impact other lives. Pushing those thoughts aside, she responded.

"But Mulder, why? Why would someone do all this? And how?"

As he opened the door to the house he answered, "That's what we need to find out."

The End

Author's NoteS: Well, when I wrote Family Ties seven months ago, I had no intention of writing a sequel. In fact, I was dead set against it. And then so many folks sent such great feedback, and I suddenly found myself fielding offers from other folks to write a sequel for me. I was thrilled and honored and overwhelmed. And then, just as suddenly as the original idea occurred to me, the sequel popped into my head. It contains a lot of the elements that I'd said I wanted to see in a sequel--Scully getting her mom's perspective on motherhood, Mulder and Scully still dealing with some partnership issues, and of course a lack of closure to the question of whether or not they would indeed decide to adopt the children. :)

As to the specifics of the story, I don't know nothing 'bout no PCRs and DNA tests. Just nifty letters that they're always throwing around on the show, so I figured I'd join in on the fun. Hey, at least I didn't have Scully get the PCR results back in just a day or two!

As for the molestation, the scenario I portrayed, of being molested by an older child at daycare did in fact happen to my youngest nephew when he was three and the resultant behavior problems and anger management difficulties (which did in fact manifest themselves almost immediately after the incident) are still being struggled with now, six years after the fact. It's a long, hard road for a parent to travel and I have the utmost respect for those parents who have to do so.

Is there more coming? I don't know. Honestly. I have one more scene in my head, which I didn't write because it was an awful ending point, it was really more of a beginning to another chapter. But I don't have another chapter rolling around in my brain begging to be written. Sorry. I'm open to suggestions though.

Anyway, thanks for reading. And extra thanks for reading all this extra smush at the end. Feedback is life affirming. nikoleaw@aol.com

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