Title: Fugue for the Forgotten
Authors: frogdoggie and Crash
E-mail: frogdoggie@hotmail.com and/or mamymac@juno.com
Class: MSR Rating: NC-17 for language, sex and violence...basically we've got everything here but cruelty to animals, but we aren't THAT sick. ; )
Spoilers: Anything up to Emily in US Season 5
Archive: Anywhere you like as long as our name, disclaimer and addys stay with it

Disclaimer #1: Drum roll please. Fox Mulder, Dana Scully, Walter Skinner, the Lone Gunmen, the Cigarette Smoking Man, Marita Covarrubias, Alex Krycek and the X-Files are the property of Chris Carter, 10-13 Productions, Fox Broadcasting and the brilliant actors who portray those characters. No infringement is intended. No money was made. No animals were injured. No White House employees were harassed sexually or otherwise. No CFC's were used. No trees were burned. Fun was had.

Disclaimer #2: If you are below the age of 18, please leave now. NO REALLY! I mean it! The following fanfic contains violence, foul language and the graphic depiction of consensual sex between our heroes. If this sort of thing bothers you, scram now. It also contains the graphic depiction of sex between a wrinkly old man and a really bitchy woman. That sort of thing bothers us, but we put it in anyway. You have been warned. We've also taken some liberties with certain elements of the X-Files mythology. All of us know Marita Covarrubias works at the UN in New York. For our purposes in this story, we have given her a temporary Washington, DC office...Nah, nah, booboo! Feedback of the constructive nature is greatly appreciated and shamelessly begged for. Please send it to frogdoggie@hotmail.com and mamymac@juno.com Frogdoggie will use flames to roast marshmallows. Crash will merely walk into a wall...AGAIN. (Ten, stop giggling.) "They throw people out for giggling."Summary: Scully has a crisis of faith after the death of Emily. She and Mulder then learn they have a child together. How? Read on and find out.

 

Note: If you have missed a section of this epic through either the vagaries of e-mail or the cyberspace meddling of Invisigoth a.k.a. Esther Nairn from "Kill Switch", you are in luck. We have archived "Fugue for the Forgotten" on frogdoggie's X-Files fan fic web site. So, go on over to: http://www.geocities.com/Area51/Lair/7228/xship.htm and follow the links until you find the story. Enjoy!

Author's Notes AT END...


fugue - n. 1 a: a musical composition in which one or two themes are developed in a continuous weaving of voice parts b: something that resembles a fugue esp. In interweaving repetitive elements. 2: a disturbed state of consciousness in which the one affected seems to perform acts in full awareness but upon recovery cannot recollect the deeds -Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, Tenth Edition


Tuesday, January 6, 1998
3 AM EPIPHANY? (Oh sure! Yeah! If things weren't so dismal, I'd laugh.)

How do I start these Ramblings? Dear Diary? Wow, that's original. I'm finding it very hard to write here. I feel like I'm talking to myself. On second thought, what's so unusual about my talking to myself? It's practically an every day occurrence. They don't call me Spooky Mulder for nothing. Well shit. All right, look - I haven't kept a journal for years, but now I'm going to start with the true confessions because, if I don't, I'm going to go stark raving mad, thank you very much - and I'm afraid I might take Scully with me.

Scully and I just got back from San Diego last Thursday. We were traveling on New Year's Day, yessiree, after all we didn't have much to ring in this year. Jesus - Scully, she, she's so...it's just too hard. I AM still railing to God over that trip which is a stretch for me since I don't really believe in Him. But I could ask if I did believe - Please deliver her, deliver us? No, just her, I don't want to ask for too much. I haven't asked for anything in so long...

I feel like...well I can barely let myself feel because when I do, I feel like I'm going to die, and I can't feel that way because it's not going to help Scully. For once I have to be the anchor. She's been a rock for me time and time again. I'll turn to stone now for her. I'll be freaking Mount Rushmore if it'll help. I have to hold it together.

Dear God.

Scully had a child, a little girl. Her name was Emily. She was an alien human-hybrid with blood that killed and Scully's beautiful blue eyes Emily's dead. That sums up our trip to San Diego in very simplistic terms, of course. A simpler term would be one word: AGONY. And I knew. In the back of my mind I knew when I saw her ova. I knew deep down it could come to this, but I denied it, and I didn't tell her.

Jesus Scully can you ever forgive me? She shouldn't. I don't deserve it Fuck me. If there is a God, He will surely damn me. Christ, if He does exist He's done that all ready, long ago. Now I'll probably fry in hell Good.

I spent most of the trip in a state of numbness right up to that moment in the church when Scully took her crucifix out of her daughter's coffin. I went beyond numbness then. I died inside. And like I said I feel like I'm dying still. But I won't show it and I won't let her know it, no way in hell.

So, we flew back to DC. Scully was on autopilot just like the United Airlines flight. I took one look at her face when we got off the plane and I drove her home and stayed with her. I stayed at her apartment all weekend. I unpacked and even did my laundry at her place. I didn't have the energy to repack. Shit, the stuff can just stay here. I didn't want to risk taking it home.

There is no way I will leave her alone for long. She is too adrift and I'm afraid where she may drift off to if I don't watch her. She's suffering She's got the soul sickness. Something I am certainly familiar with, dear journal. And the bad news is, I don't know how to cope with that illness myself. How in the hell am I going to get her through it? Prayer's out Maybe I should try a human sacrifice - mine.

Skinner gave Scully some time off. Nice of him for once. I took a chance and went down into the Bureau basement on Monday for a short time. My plans for the work week? My plans are that we have no work week - Ha. Yeah, I've seen to it that we're between cases. I've called in every favor I'm owed by the Violent Crimes Division just in case something rears it's ugly head from that direction. The X-Files? - The A.D. finally told me to <work from home.> But you know what - screw The X-Files for now. I have the wheel on that out of control bus. Just call me Sandra Bullock, baby.

Tonight was one of the worst nights since we got back. She couldn't stop crying. It started out as a trickle and turned into a deluge. She gets angry when she cries as well, so by the time things were in full swing it was like Hurricane Andrew or (should I say Scully?), in the apartment. She threw some stuff around, and I was afraid she was going to hurt herself, so I finally just pinned her arms to her sides. She struggled a bit, but then she finally settled down and...thank God, she let me hold her close and still.

I got her to sit down on the couch then and I just...I held her for hours You know, since this is true confessions I have to tell you - this is something I've wanted to do for years. Hold her close and know that she wanted me to do it, at last. And I ask myself...Why did it take something like Emily's death to give me the opportunity to do it? How fucking pathetic is that? How pathetic am I? Shit. Why am I even thinking about that now anyway? Another selfish Mulder wish? Maybe Scully was right - maybe I think this is all about me, all of the time. Grow up, grow up, grow up, Mulder!

At any rate, we sat and I stroked her hair. I tried to say words that would help, but all my efforts sounded so facile to me. She did seem to hear me, though, and appreciate the sentiments. We talked a little then. Not about Emily - just about things. I made some idiotic jokes and she smiled a little. She talked about her Mother - which was nice. I like Margaret Scully. She fell asleep in my arms. Her utter exhaustion was plain to see I...I wanted to lay against her on the couch and drift off to sleep next to her. Sleep? What a fucking joke. I knew it wouldn't come. And also, sleeping next to her - well, it just didn't seem right tonight. It was another selfish desire for me, and I was royally sick of my self absorption by that point. So I laid her on the couch, and tucked her in with the afghan she had hung over the back. I think it's the one her Mother made for her years ago. It's white. Scully's face looked just like it. God.

I'm going to close now. I'm sitting in that nice overstuffed chair by Scully's couch writing this on a tablet I found in Scully's desk. You know, the legal tablet size? Yellow? Scully's sound asleep. She looks peaceful at last - at least for now. I know I'll sit here all night. But, I don't mind I want (yeah, crap, I want to), need to watch her, to be on guard. She'll be safe and really that's all that matters now.

I'm going to hide you, little journal, in my suitcase as soon as I'm done here. I hope to write more soon (I have to write more soon). So until then, Good night.


Saturday, January 10, 1998
Morning

Rain splattered the window outside Dana Scully's apartment. The sky was growing darker even though it was only 9 AM. She sat at her kitchen table starring out into the bleakness. A tear slid down her face and dropped into the murky depths of her coffee cup.

"Why?" she asked herself, silently. <Haven't they taken enough already? Why did they have to take her too?>

"Christ, it's still raining," Mulder thought as he looked out the tiny window over Scully's kitchen sink, "only a little after 9 AM and it looks more like 9 PM," he sighed drying another plate and placing it in the drainer to dry. "I guess it suits the mood," he mused dismally, glancing over towards the small kitchen table next to the larger kitchen window, where Dana Scully sat, coffee cup in front of her and back to him, lost in thought.

Scully clenched the gold cross she normally wore in her right hand. Emily had worn that cross, but now Emily was gone. A life taken with no more care than that for a lab rat. But Scully cared.

Emily had a name. She was flesh and bone. Despite the green blood that coursed through her veins, she was still a person. Not some test subject. A person who had a mother. A mother who didn't know until it was too late. A mother who had her child taken away as simply as they had taken the ova.

Mulder could just see that she was fingering her gold cross. The cross she usually wore around her neck. The cross that only recently had rested inside Emily's coffin. The cross Mulder had been upset to see Scully holding now instead of wearing. "God, Scully, I am so sorry," he thought.

Scully's pain over the loss of her daughter, the rape of her body's precious ability to create a child naturally, and now the obvious danger of her losing her faith, made Mulder want to take his fist and punch a hole through the window in front of him. His frustration, anger, and grief were almost too much to weather. And much like the storm outside his feelings threatened to turn violent. But he held his emotions back, breathed to calm himself, and struggled to remain on an even keel for Scully's sake. "This would be more easy, if it was me and Samantha again," he thought, "instead of her." He put the last glass into the drainer to dry.

Scully swore loudly and slammed her fist on the table. The coffee cup shook and spilled some of it's contents. She made no move to clean it up, continuing to stare blankly out the window. She didn't even flinch when a large hand holding a dish towel appeared to clean up her spill.

Scully kept her back to him. She was so angry and she didn't want to be angry at Mulder. He at least understood. He had stood by her through all of this. He'd done a remarkable job of keeping his concern in check, giving her space but being within arm's reach if she needed him. But she sensed it was getting harder and harder for him to hold back.

Mulder was startled from his reverie by a sudden loud bang as Scully swore and slammed her fist against the kitchen table top. He whirled around to see coffee spilling out of her cup and Scully's back and head tense and upright. She seemed to be staring out the window, unmoving, and the coffee was winding it's way to the table's edge. Mulder walked over quietly, dish towel in hand, and bent to clean up the mess.

"Why don't you talk about it if it upsets you so much?" he asked.

"She's really angry," he observed as her back became even more straight and her jaw muscles clenched tight. "All right, I've given this woman her space for days now. I've been here, practically living on her couch, and she still hasn't discussed anything with me. I think it's time we do something about this situation," he considered grimly as Scully remained mute.

Mulder had stayed with her off and on since she'd left San Diego. Scully had begun to think it was weird to wake up and not find his lanky form draped across her sofa. She'd also grown to like having him there. His presence seemed to make the hurt seem less. When it got to be too bad she could simply walk over and touch him, just squeeze his hand, and that seemed to make her feel better.

San Diego seemed like eons ago, Mulder thought, as he continued to stare at Scully's back. He wanted, needed, desired to be with her now. There had been no other decision for him. He wouldn't have left her to her own devices after Emily's death. He knew his mere presence made her feel better - she showed him that much with a gentle squeeze of the hand, a touch, a hug. It was all he expected and it was comforting to him as well.

"Scully?"

"What Mulder? What can I say? Nothing I say will make this go away. They took my ova and then they took my child. They say they gave me back my life but what the hell kind of life is it anyway?" She spat, instantly regretting the bitter words. She wasn't mad at Mulder. She was mad at "THEM." Whoever "THEM" was.

Mulder winced. He couldn't see her face, and her words stung, but he bore her no malice, only sympathy, and compassion, and understanding and in the back of his mind a little, familiar, voice said - love.

"I'm sorry Mulder...I'm not upset with you. God, I wish I knew who to be angry with."

He sat down at the table next to her. Scully looked into his eyes and drank in the sadness they held. He was sad for her. She idly thought he was probably blaming himself for this too.

Mulder almost squirmed in the chair because he finally got a chance to look into Scully's eyes. "Oh my God," he thought, "She, she looks like I look when I, when I'm thinking of Samantha," he was profoundly sad. He knew his emotions were playing all across his face and he tried to contain them so that she wouldn't worry that he was so worried for her.

"The sons of bitches," he thought, "if there is any way in hell I can..." he let the thought go because it was only serving to shake him up even more, and he wanted to maintain his composure at all costs now. He decided to try another tack - something that came all too easily to him, but it was all he could think to fall back on at the moment. He reached across the table and laid his hand protectively over Scully's small delicate one, the small hand that tightly clenched the golden cross.

"It's OK if you're angry with me," he said quietly.

Scully's voice broke on a sharp, bitter laugh. "Mulder. I'm not going to use you as a surrogate punching bag. This isn't your doing. Do NOT blame yourself for this or I really will be mad at you." She looked down and then pulled her hand from underneath his. She turned it over and stared at the gleaming cross in her hands.

Mulder watched her, searched her face, knowing that she had seen his badly concealed worry, and guilt, and sadness, "Lord," he thought, "why do I wear my emotions on my sleeve? Shit," he cursed silently and then he followed her head as Scully started to rise.

Scully stood and walked behind Mulder. She unclasped the chain and dropped the cross down Mulder's neck and then fastened it again. He turned and gave her a confused look. She laid a reassuring hand on his head.

"I don't have faith in many things right now, Mulder. But I do have faith in you. I want you to keep that for me until I find my path again."

<Oh God, here it comes.> Mulder struggled to swallow. He was close to tears and he bit them back. <She's lost her faith, she's, she's abandoning God, she's letting it all go...> His mind fought for the words to say to her.

She was starting to walk away. Mulder rose abruptly and caught her wrist, pulling her body around. "Why, Scully?" was all he could bring himself to ask.

"Because you're here and you understand, or at least try to." Her voice cracked and a tear slipped down her face. "Because you care. Because I trust you and this is a time when I don't feel like I can even trust myself. But I trust you." She let her head drop until she felt his finger push her chin back up to face him. She noticed he'd begun to cry too.

"God, what do I say?" he thought. His tears ran down, hot and salty and they hit his upper lip. <Not a thing,> he decided, looking into her tortured eyes and he leaned down and kissed her, gently and chastely, on the lips. Scully pulled away. He could tell she did so reluctantly and then she allowed him to simply hold her. Scully sobbed into his chest and clawed at the material of his t-shirt. Mulder wished she would hit him, pummel his chest even, scream her anger and grief to the world. He didn't care. He tightened his grip and whispered into her hair, "It's all right, Scully, I'm here, just, just lean in against me, let me hold you."

Her sobs slowly subsided but she didn't let go. For once in her life she needed this. She needed to be held. She wanted it, especially now, especially from Mulder. She remembered the time he'd held her like this after the Phaster case. A shiver ran through her body. It had felt good to have him hold her that night, to help her piece herself back together Mulder could do that for her. She shivered. Always Mulder.

Mulder was glad to see her sobs slowly ebb. He was also relieved that she didn't let go of his waist. She seemed to want to be held, and Mulder sighed as she leaned against him. A thought came almost unbidden into his mind, "God, this feels so good," he mused, "It feels so great to have her in my arms, so right." But he passed the thoughts into some other area of his brain rather quickly because a shiver suddenly ran through Scully's body.

He moved apart from her and looked down at her. She blinked up at him, saying nothing.

"She looks so tired," he thought, studying the dark circles under her eyes "I've got to see to it that she gets some rest before she collapses," he added, his lips tight.

He took her hand and led her to the couch. He laid across it and patted the space in front of him. She laid down on her side in front of him and he draped one arm over her, using his free hand to stroke her hair.

"You need to relax a little Scully. It's Saturday and we've got no case to deal with or paperwork or anything. You haven't slept the last two nights, so I want you to relax and just sleep. I'll be right here."

She started to protest but his soothing hands running through her hair quieted her. She was exhausted and the nightmares she'd had the last few nights afforded her little sleep. She felt him press his lips to her hair again. Her mind drifted back to the soft kiss they'd just shared in her kitchen. She wished he'd do that again, but explore it further. The thought crept unbidden into her mind. She stamped it down.

<This is my friend. My best friend and my partner. He's just comforting me and dammit I deserve this now.> Soon she was drifting into the soft recesses of sleep.

Mulder stroked her head, shushed her, and she was quiet. He pressed his lips to her hair. Her hair was so soft and smelled faintly of her perfume He drank in the sensation and the smell. He closed his eyes. Scully seemed to relax at last and he continued to stroke her hair as her breathing slowed. <Thank you, Jesus,> he sincerely prayed for once, for Scully, as she began to fall asleep.


Bright light surrounded her and the air tasted stale. She tried to move her arms and legs but couldn't. She struggled. She tilted her head forward and her eyes grew wide when she saw the table next to the cot she was on. Shiny metal implements pointed at her. She tried to speak but words would not come. She was helpless and didn't know why. She wanted to scream.

Faces appeared above her but they were covered by masks. All she could see were their black eyes. She struggled and then a flash of light blinded her She felt like she was floating. Her eyes slowly flew open and she was lying in a bed. The air smelled sweet. She rolled over and bumped into something hard. She was able to move and looked up and saw Mulder sleeping peacefully next to her. She was suddenly aware they were both nude. She became aroused.

His eyes popped open and he reached out to her, pulling her closer. He was touching her and she was touching him and the next thing she knew she was filled with a sense of fullness and bliss. She felt like she was floating again. She was in a park. The green of the foliage seemed almost too green, it was bright. The sun was shining and she watched two children chasing each other around a small playground. A boy and a girl. They ran to a merry-go-round and started spinning it. Running in a long worn trench around it. Round and round in circles they went until the creaking metal toy was going as fast as it could and they both jumped on. Their faces and bodies blurred as the merry-go-round spun.

She looked down at her side and saw Emily looking up at her. She reached for her but Emily stepped away. Scully tried to move closer to her, but again, the child stepped away. Scully started to cry, each time she reached for Emily she moved just out of her reach. She found her voice and cried, "Please."

Emily shook her head and pointed a small delicate finger across the playground to a swing set. A brown-haired girl was swinging by herself Scully felt Emily finally take her hand and the little girl pulled her in the direction of the swing set. Scully heard Missy's voice, "She needs your help, Dana."

They reached the swing set and Scully looked at the girl on the swing Dozens of brown curls framed her face and two expressive hazel eyes gazed back at her. Scully thought she saw red highlights in the girl's hair. Her smile seemed familiar too. She smoothed her skirt down and walked towards Scully. The child looked up at Scully and spoke.

"Mommy, where's Daddy?"

Scully's mouth fell open. It suddenly dawned on her who she thought the child was. The child looked like the pictures she'd seen of Samantha, only the nose was slightly different, smaller in a way. Her nose looked a lot like...


Mulder was half dozing when Scully's body jerked violently against him and she let out a startled gasp. He moved to grab her as she almost fell off the couch. She would have if Mulder hadn't caught her. He pulled her back up and rolled her over to face him. <What the hell?> He was dazed as he struggled to focus his eyes on her face.

"Scully, you all right?"

"I...I had a dream..."

He sighed heavily. "A nightmare?"

"Please, no more nightmares," Mulder thought, pressing his eyelids tight and holding his breath.

Scully looked into his eyes. "Look at him," she thought. <I can't tell him what I was dreaming. Not now. He...we've been through enough. He deserves to rest and I know I need to sleep.>

"No, Mulder, it, it wasn't a nightmare - I just dreamt about my brother Bill, a Bill argument," she said, her voice muffled against his chest.

"You want to tell me about it?" he asked softly.

"No, that's OK, it was pretty much your typical Bill dream - I whipped his butt," she tried to smile into his t-shirt.

Scully felt Mulder relax. She could feel the slight chuckle that rumbled in his chest.

"Good, whup him for me too next time," he said snuggling closer to her again. Soon he was asleep and breathing gently into her hair. Scully lay awake staring at the living room ceiling for quite some time.


Saturday Afternoon

Scully slowly woke up. Glancing at the clock she realized she'd been asleep for over three hours. It was knocking on 1 o'clock in the afternoon. Mulder was sleeping peacefully behind her. In their slumber, their legs had become tangled and one of Mulder's arms was wrapped protectively around her waist She sighed. It felt good to have him hold her like that.

She turned over and shook him lightly. His eyes slowly blinked open. He seemed to start a bit at their close proximity. Scully's mouth was just inches from his. She dimly wished he'd kiss her again. She touched his face.

"I've got to go to my mother's for a little while, Mulder."

"Mmmm..," he responded sleepily.

"I'm only going to be gone a couple of hours. You can stay here if you want to. We can get dinner, if you like, when I get back?" she offered. She knew she didn't need an excuse to get him to stay, but her practical side insisted she come up with one anyway.

"You sure you don't mind?" he asked.

"No...I...I want you to be here when I get back," her voice was barely a whisper. The dream she'd had earlier was still haunting her but, some how, Mulder's presence made it easier to handle. She cursed herself inwardly for becoming dependent on him, but not so much she was willing to do something about it.

She glanced up into his eyes and he cupped her face with his palm. "Are you sure you're all right, Scully?"

"I'm fine, Mulder. I just don't want to be alone."

He nodded at her and kissed her forehead. She sighed when he broke the contact. She moved slowly off the couch and he caught her hand. She turned and looked into his eyes again. He looked like he was going to say something but he remained silent and stroked her hand. She gave his a light squeeze.

"I'd better go. I don't want Mom to worry."

He nodded and let her hand go. She walked down the hallway and went into her bathroom. Her face in the mirror didn't look like her own. Dark circles shadowed her eyes and her face seemed gaunt. She'd lost a lot of weight with the cancer. She'd started to gain it back but she was still too thin.

She splashed water on her face and brushed her teeth. She went so far as to put on a small amount of make up to hide her tired eyes. She was not in the mood to deal with her mother's overwrought concern today. She walked into her bedroom and found a denim shirt to throw on over her t-shirt. She pulled on a pair of jeans and slipped into her sneakers.

As she walked back down the hall into the living room, she had a thought.

"Hey, Mulder if it's more comfortable you can sleep in the..."

She came around the front of the sofa and stopped short. He'd fallen asleep again. She laid a protective hand on his head briefly and then quietly walked out of her apartment.


Saturday, January 10, 1998
4 PM

When Samantha and I were kids - the summer just before she was taken from us - she had this little diary she used to write in. It was small and bound in dark oxblood leather. I think GrandMa Mulder had given it to her. I used to tease Sam about it a lot because she was always so careful to keep it locked up tight and hidden somewhere when she was done writing in it. Even though I teased her I would never have dreamed of taking a look in that book. It was her private world and I never wanted to encroach on her privacy. I regret that I never, I may never, get a chance to tell her about that respect. Sam...

So, I have my own little book now. I didn't feel stupid buying it - I did it to honor my sister. It's a little larger than Sam's book but it is leather bound and it also has a lock and key. Well, it beats the yellow legal pad, all right.

So, now I'm writing in it, in script, because it's faster - and just in case someone does have a chance to see it they certainly won't be able to read it. HA!

We had a bad morning. That doesn't quite convey how utterly hurtful it was and I can barely write about it even now. I'm fingering her gold cross on it's chain. It's around my neck. Scully took it off and put it around my neck this morning. She said, "I don't have faith in many things right now, Mulder. But I do have faith in you. I want you to keep that for me until I find my path again."

I cried. I couldn't help myself. To think she's lost her faith now profoundly disturbs me. Scully had just found that faith again during the cancer and now...she's lost it? I would cry out to God myself over this development, if I believed in Him. I'd cry out to Him if I thought he'd listen. I'd beg him to bring her faith back. I need to give her this cross back and tell her to...to what? And if I knew what, how will I tell her anyway? And the cruel irony? She has faith in me!? That's a fucking joke More about that later.

I finally got her to rest. I made her lay down next to me on the couch and finally got her to sleep by stroking her hair. It helped to soothe us both I think. It felt so good to have her finally relax, in my arms, in my arms...

She had a dream this afternoon. She said it wasn't a nightmare. She said it was some idiotic dream about her brother Bill. Why don't I believe her, God Damn it? I don't want NOT to believe her. I mean, we're supposed to trust each other, right? Fuck.

Still - the look on her face, that tight pale face. I just don't know. I should try to talk to her about it later when she returns. But, I just don't think I can bring myself to do it. Why go over and over yet another horrible nightmare about Emily anyway? I just feel like it's pointless to dwell on all that anguish. Why rehash it all? Why think about an unending list of sad mysteries that totalled up equal her dead daughter.

Scully's daughter, Scully as a mother...and...and...God - did Emily even have a father? I never even considered the other half of the equation. What about the father? Somehow that thought deeply disturbs me. Immaculate conception just isn't in my vocabulary. But any possible alternative makes me want to vomit. Good Lord. I suppose, no, I hope this part of the mystery will be an unsolved puzzle. The answers are too horrible to contemplate Damn it. It's all such a waste!

Scully left to visit her Mother at around 2 PM, I think. I'm not really sure because, God Bless her, she left me asleep on her couch. I, I was glad to think she might feel good enough to go see Margaret. I think Margaret Scully can be a big comfort to her. I just hope Scully lets her help.

And, if Scully IS starting at last to turn things around here (she seemed happy about paying her Mom a visit), then once again I ask - how can I belabor yet another possible bad memory about her dead daughter? And at any rate, I have to believe she was telling the truth about the Bill dream. I don't have much of a choice. The alternative is too dreadful to contemplate.

Besides - and here's where I tell you why it's a fucking joke that she has faith in me. Why? Because - I, I'm starting to doubt my feelings in this situation anyway. And my feelings may betray us both.

This afternoon when Scully said "I want you to be here when I get back," and then "I'm fine, Mulder. I just don't want to be alone," it pierced my heart. Jesus, I want to be here too. She...I almost think I could be helping her. God, I hope it's true. I know that when I woke up on that couch this afternoon and we were so close, it felt so good...She was so warm and...these are dangerous thoughts. I know it. I can't help them.

I...I kissed her forehead but I wanted to kiss her mouth. God help me I grabbed her arm and I wanted to pull her back down into my arms. I wanted to tell her...I wanted... Damn it - I just wanted to hold her close and tell her that I'd make...that things would be all right.

But, I'm afraid of what may be happening between us here. I, I'm afraid that my comforting her, and my caring may be going in a direction that isn't going to be safe, isn't going to be advisable for either of us Christ. I don't want the emotional closeness over Emily's death that we are feeling now to turn into something we both may regret later. I can feel it in my heart - the more dangerous emotional connection between us spreading there. I think I can see the same thoughts on Scully's face. We may be playing with fire now - or maybe it's spontaneous combustion.

Heaven help us.

But, God, I know I have feelings for her. I can barely admit it but I know And...I don't think it's right that I should have these feelings. It's not professional and it's not good for anything and...I just don't think I ever want her to know either because I don't think Scully...I have to maintain control. I need to shove these feelings back, way back and deep down into my mind, into my soul, and never think of them in Scully's presence. She's not stupid - she's preternaturally perceptive as a matter of fact. She'll know and then...what would we lose? The loss of her friendship would be more than I could stand.

Could she care for me? She couldn't possibly, except as a friend. Yeah, it's too much to even believe anything else. Too much to ask as well.

Fuck this. I'm going to close this bastard book now. I'm going to lock it up and if I was smart I'd throw away the rotten key. This is not helping! For crying out loud - how could I ever imagine that Scully would even entertain the thought of caring for me? Loving me? To quote the Latin - " aegri somnia" a sick man's dream. Yeah - that more than fits.

So, enough is enough. Scully will be coming home soon and I want to be calm and clear, and ready to lend an ear, just in case. Later, *torture* book - maybe.


Sunday, January 11, 1998, 10 AM

Dana Scully snuggled down under the comforter on her bed, pulling it up around her ears. The fluffy down warmth was wonderful and for the first time in weeks she actually felt a bit more calm, almost peaceful.

Saturday afternoon at her Mother's house had surprisingly helped to lift her mood. Margaret Scully had gone out of her way to be less clinging and obsessively worried, and more simply supportive, loving, and upbeat Margaret's mood was infectious and finally her efforts succeeded in buoying her daughter's spirits.

Scully spent more time at her Mother's than she originally planned and called Mulder to let him know she was going to be a bit late so that he wouldn't worry.

"Oh, that's all right, take as long as you like," Mulder said, a grin in his voice, and Scully hung up the phone with a quizzical look on her face.

The first thing Scully noticed when she opened the apartment door, upon her return, was the aroma of simmering spaghetti sauce. It smelled delicious, and she realized immediately that she was starving. Taking that as a good sign she headed towards the kitchen. As she passed her dining room table she noticed it was set for two and she raised an eyebrow.

"Mulder?" she asked as she entered the kitchen.

"Oh, welcome back, how was your Mom?" Mulder asked, turning from the stove He had on one of Scully's aprons and she grinned slightly at the sight.

"She was fine, she sent her regards," she replied, "is that what I think it is?" she added gesturing towards the stove.

"Oh, yeah, I thought you might be hungry, so I made some spaghetti." There was also a salad, and Italian bread on the side board. Mulder was practically buzzing with his barely contained pleasure at surprising her with dinner. Scully felt a small smile spring to her lips.

Scully walked over to the stove and looked down into the pot he was stirring. She sniffed, and looking over at him raised her eyebrow again.

"Oh, come on, Scully, don't look so surprised. I know how to make three things, well maybe four if you count coffee. Meat loaf, breakfast, and spaghetti. And the meat sauce is from scratch too, I'll have you know," he grinned at her, waving the spoon slightly for emphasis.

She smiled back, "I wasn't going to criticize your sauce at all, Mulder, in fact I was going to say I thought it smelled exquisite. I can hardly wait to eat, is it almost ready?"

Scully was met with a tremendous smile from Mulder, the kind with teeth.

They ate dinner. The whole thing tasted superb. It had been a really pleasant evening. Mulder insisted that she go to bed early, that she get her rest, and then he left her alone to go watch an old horror film on TV Scully actually felt good about being alone for the first time in weeks After a warm relaxing bath, she went to bed and had the first restful night's sleep in weeks as well.

Now, on Sunday morning, she was so warm and comfortable under her comforter that she wanted to enjoy sleeping in as long as she could. But then, a frown creased her brow.

"This IS Sunday, isn't it?" she thought. It had been her habit since the cancer and before Emily to attend church on Sunday. She had even begun to go to confession again. But now? No, now that wasn't an option any longer She sighed as she put all thoughts of God and religion out of her mind. She just didn't want to think about them. It hurt too much and she was just starting to feel better this morning. "I just want a little peace - Please," she thought and then she shut her eyes.

There was a tiny knock on her bedroom door, "Scully, are you awake?"

"Mulder!" she thought instantly. She'd been so sleepy, and lost in her own thoughts there for a moment she'd almost forgotten about him. She blinked back the sleep and guilt in her eyes, and pushing the covers down replied, "Yes, Mulder, I'm awake. Uh...come in."

Mulder cracked the bedroom door and then pushed it aside with his hip. He was carrying a tray. There was breakfast for one and an extra cup of coffee on it.

"Oh wow," Scully thought, "He looks so nice. Nice? Ha! He looks incredibly handsome, refreshed and rested too," she amended. Mulder had showered and shaved, his hair was still slightly damp, and he was dressed in jeans, a sweatshirt and his glasses. He was barefoot too, Scully noticed, and as she studied his feet a slight fluttering started in her stomach, "I must be hungry," she thought bemused, as she once again put any out of the ordinary feelings about Mulder into her psychic filing cabinet. She sat up in bed, and plumped up the pillows at her back.

"OK, here's another of the three things I can cook, Scully," Mulder was saying as Scully stared at him in amazement, "Madam...your breakfast of bacon, eggs, toast and coffee," he said, placing the tray down on the bed and near her hands.

"Mulder!" she exclaimed, "Good grief, I...well I don't know what to say," she stammered.

"How about, pass the salt and pepper," he smiled shyly at her.

She snorted slightly, suppressing her laughter, "Mulder, you'd better watch out, a girl could get very spoiled..." she gestured over the tray.

"You, spoiled?" he raised an eyebrow at her for a change.

"Well, you do have a point," she chuckled and then she pushed the covers further aside. She pulled the tray closer over her lap, and then she really began to tuck into the food.

Mulder sat on the edge of her bed and sipped from the extra cup of coffee that had been on the tray. He had gotten her morning paper in from outside her apartment door and was now pouring over the news. He chuckled a bit now and again as he read. He suddenly guffawed very loudly and Scully looked up from cutting up her eggs.

"What?" she asked.

"The Stupendous Yappie is being sued," Mulder laughed looking over at her.

"You're kidding?" Scully put her knife and fork down.

"Would I kid about something like this?" he asked turning the pages around so that she could see the headline - *Television Psychic Sued in Paternity Suit*. There was a large file photo of the man himself accompanying the article.

Scully burst out laughing, "God, it serves that jumped up little jerk right! More power to the woman suing him."

"Who said it was a woman?" Mulder smirked, his head bent down, as he pretended to read the paper further.

"Mulder!?" Scully was helpless with laughter.

Mulder looked up at her and thought, "Thank God, she's laughing!" His heart filled with emotion and his chest became tight, <And she looks so much better this morning.> He felt the emotion reaching his face and he knew his ears were turning red, so he hastened to look back down at the paper before Scully saw what was written in his eyes.

Scully became quiet quickly because she had seen the expression on his face. She recognized the look of relief, mixed with pure happiness, and she was somewhat taken aback.

Mulder blinked slightly, and then he folded the paper up and nervously placed it on the bed.

"Scully, I...it's really great to see you laugh, you know, it's really...you look much better..." he let his voice trail off.

Scully picked up her cup of coffee and took a long sip. She felt her heart squeeze in her chest. Mulder's emotions were so plain to see and they should have frightened Scully in their intensity. Instead they didn't scare her at all. It felt really good to be with him like this - right, and real, and... she was becoming slightly flustered, so she drank more of her coffee and struggled to regain her composure.

Mulder stared at her for a fraction of a minute longer and then he glanced away and picked up the paper again. He opened it and cleared his throat, "Uh, Listen, Scully. There's a great old movie playing at that little art house theater in my neighborhood. *Bringing Up Baby,* have you ever seen it?"

"Isn't Cary Grant in that film?" Scully asked finishing her coffee.

"Yes, and Katherine Hepburn. It's what Hollywood affectionately used to call a *screwball comedy*."

"No, I've never seen it," Scully replied interest in her voice.

Mulder smiled at her evident interest, "Well, there's an early evening show - 5:25. I thought if you'd be up for it, we could go. My treat of course."

Scully looked at him. He looked so hopeful and caring. She knew he just wanted her good mood to continue. He wanted her to get out of the apartment and have some fun. He wanted her to lose herself with him at the movies And, Scully thought instantly, she really did want to go with Mulder. She wanted to lose herself in his company and for some reason this idea suddenly didn't disturb her at all either.

"You know, Mulder, that sounds like it might be fun. I loved Cary Grant in *Arsenic and Old Lace*. If this film is even half as good it should be a laugh riot."

"Oh, it is REALLY funny, Scully, I can almost guarantee you'll enjoy it Great! We can grab a late lunch maybe, and then go to the film, if that's ok. I need to stop by my place for a couple minutes anyway - to feed the fish," he chuckled, "We can go from there."

"All right, Mulder, that sounds like a plan," Scully replied.


Late Sunday Afternoon

"Mulder, when did you find this place?" Scully asked in appreciation as they sat in a small bistro in Mulder's neighborhood. The restaurant was within walking distance of the theater. The menu was authentic Jewish style deli cuisine, with matzo ball soup, kreplach, borscht, goose liver and onions, mile high corn beef and rye, and thick rueben sandwiches.

The atmosphere was low key, with a quiet intellectual clientele - just the opposite of Mulder's usual greasy spoon dump of a restaurant with truck drivers and/or bikers at the counter, and a big haired waitress snapping her gum at your table. Even the decor was tasteful. The tables and booths were plain but comfortable with checkered tablecloths and little vases with fresh flowers in the center.

Mulder had gotten them a booth in the corner and now they were both enjoying each other's company over identical bowls of mushroom barley soup and a shared plate of goose liver pate with onions and crackers.

"You know, I just wandered in here one day, Scully. And then wham - their mushroom barley soup hooked me," he grinned at her as he took another spoonful into his mouth.

Scully looked into his eyes, "Mulder, I think they've reeled in another customer," she replied, and he smiled.

Scully felt so good. She was relaxed and at ease and...well, she was really enjoying herself. And Mulder? He looked almost like another person. Most of his haunted look of the previous weeks seemed to be gone and his face was composed, except when it was crinkled with his good humor. Scully even felt a bit giddy. She knew this was in part due to the horrendous stress she had been under during the last few weeks. But maybe it was due to something else - and she almost stopped her thoughts from going in that dangerous direction - almost. Scully pondered Mulder's graceful hand as he spooned soup into his mouth.

"Would you like some more coffee?" he asked her suddenly.

"Hmmm?" she replied coming back from her reverie, "Oh, yes, thank you," she said, picking up her cup to hand it to him. As she gave him the cup, their hands touched, and Scully let his fingers linger on hers for just a fraction longer than necessary. Mulder studied her face intently. He removed his hand and placed the cup down on the table. His hand shook slightly as he picked up the coffee pot and filled both their cups. Scully looked down at her soup and busied herself trying to fish an errant mushroom out of the broth.

When she looked back up Mulder was carefully placing the coffee cup by her plate, he didn't look at her but instead made a dive for more of the goose liver and crackers.

"So, you're an *Arsenic and Old Lace* fan?" Mulder asked, popping a liver laden cracker into his mouth.

"Yeah, it's such a funny film. I saw it for the first time in high school actually. But I read the stage script first. My high school drama class staged the play my senior year," Scully replied.

"Oh yeah? Did you have a part?" Mulder asked, raising both his eyebrows in amusement.

"As a matter of fact..."

"Scully, really?"

"Yes, I had a part."

"Well, which role did you play, Mortimer's girlfriend or what?"

"I was one of the Brewster sisters, one of his aunts," Scully admitted with a rueful grin.

"One of the *Auntie Maims*? Holy shit," Mulder chortled, "it figures - a poisoner seems somehow appropriate in hindsight, doesn't it?"

Scully chuckled, "I have to admit I did enjoy doing some extracurricular research regarding what poisons would best be masked by their introduction into elderberry wine."

Mulder was laughing hard, "I bet you did, Doc!"

"But you know, Mulder I really auditioned for a different part at first."

"A different part? Which one?"

"The Peter Lorre part, the Doctor of course," she grinned.

Mulder's eyes went wide and then he laughed so hard he spit part of a second cracker he was eating out onto the table. Scully laughed as well and handed him a napkin so he could pick up the mess.

"Peter Lorre, the plastic surgeon part? Oh, God, yeah, "Don't worry Johnny, I can feex your face," Mulder replied doing a pretty passable Peter Lorre imitation from the film.

"Yes, you'd better Doctor, because they say I look like Boris Karloff," Scully retorted with her own rather on-the-mark imitation of Raymond Massey in the film version.

Mulder gasped for breath, "You know, Boris Karloff played that part on Broadway, originally?" he gulped.

"No, I didn't know that," Scully answered, as she handed him another napkin.

"Yeah, he did, and that line about looking like Boris Karloff brought down the house every night," Mulder replied. He had stopped laughing and was more under control.

Mulder looked into Scully's eyes. He was just thinking how lovely she looked with her blue eyes sparkling when the waitress came over to their table and interrupted his train of thought, "Can I get you two some more coffee?" she asked, pleasantly.

"Scully?" Mulder asked, not taking his eyes off his partner's face.

"Well, maybe half a pot," she replied smiling gently at him.

"OK, coming right up," the waitress smiled back.

They spent the rest of the meal in more light, bantering conversation. It was much like their every day repartee at the office. Both of them became very comfortable falling into this old pattern and the afternoon seemed idyllic as they whiled away the hours.

At the conclusion of the meal, Mulder picked up the check, as promised, and then they started to leave. Their winter coats were hanging on a rack right next to the table. Mulder hastened to grab Scully's long grey coat. When she stood up, he gently placed it around her shoulders. Mulder's hands touched her arms as he settled the coat around her. He didn't let go of her arms. He gently ran his hands down the sleeves of her coat. His touch was so gentle, so protective, and Scully held her breath. She knew at once that she wanted to turn in his arms and, she wanted...What the hell did she want? <Not that!> She felt alarmed. <Why not?> Her thoughts were interrupted as Mulder released her, and pulled his own coat from the rack They walked out together into the dark of the early January evening.

Mulder's mind was spinning slightly. He felt almost dizzy with confusion and guilt. "God, I, what am I doing?" he thought in dismay. Scully's close proximity, her warmth, her more buoyant mood - it was all combining to make him feel - make him feel what? He wanted to touch her again, and again, to touch her and have her really know for once what he felt for her to...Christ - this was wrong, so wrong, even though it felt so right.

He had to stop himself here and now. This wasn't going to help matters at all. It might just offend Scully, or send her reeling back down into depression if she thought her friend and partner was harboring any desires for her. He was risking ruining a really nice afternoon with his pathetic fantasies.

After all, his desires were probably brought on by his need to protect and nurture Scully through the trauma of Emily's death. At least that's how he was going to rationalize his feelings now - it was the safer road. He was just infatuated because of his need to help her get through this crisis and that was all. His feelings would probably fade away after this was over And besides, if Scully was placing her faith in him and not her God, the least he could do for her was keep himself from fantasizing about what might be possible between them.

Mulder's fingers reached through his slightly open coat neck. He touched the cross, her cross, on it's chain, where it lay under his shirt. His fingers stroked it in an absent minded way. "I need to stop thinking with my johnson, for crying out loud," he thought, in disgust. "That certainly wasn't a very Godlike thing to do, unless of course you were a Greek one, like Zeus," he mused with bitter self depreciation. He dropped his hand away from his shirt front. He turned and glanced over at Scully. She smiled at him and his head cleared a bit. He slowed his pace because he noticed she was falling behind his long strides.

Scully raised an eyebrow, "Mulder is actually slowing down for me? Will wonders never cease?" she thought, and then she impulsively wound her arm through his.

Mulder almost jumped, but he just caught himself before he did so. Instead he sighed and settled into perfect step with Scully as they continued down the street towards the theater. "This is nice," he thought, "What the hell, she's a good friend, we've had a fun, friendly afternoon together, and now we're going to have an enjoyable evening. And hey, at least arm and arm, she can keep up with me," he nodded exhaling into the cold night air. They arrived at the theater, arms still entwined and still in perfect synchronicity.

Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn were chasing the leopard named "Baby" in the woods. A crazed wire haired fox terrier was chasing all three of them and Scully was really laughing along with most of the rest of the audience.

Mulder had to grab the popcorn bucket he had bought for them to share before she knocked it to the floor. He was laughing as well, in fact he was laughing like an idiot, but not at the movie. He was laughing because she was laughing again, and it was the most important thing to him in all the world that evening.

Scully calmed down a bit finally and settled back to catch her breath in anticipation of the next comedic moment. She reached over for the popcorn and Mulder quickly placed the bucket within reach of her hand. He rested it against the chair arm between them.

And then incredibly, as she munched the popcorn, Scully shifted closer and soon she was leaning against him comfortably as she watched the screen Mulder glanced down at her. She was really engrossed and smiling. Mulder breathed out slightly and then gently moved his arm up and over the back of Scully's theater seat. He rested his arm lightly across the seat's back When he felt her shift even closer, Mulder draped his arm more heavily and then down, and completely across Scully's shoulders. He thought he felt her give a little sigh. Mulder held her close. <She's not protesting, she's, she's actually letting me hold...touch...I'll just allow myself this, allow us this...> his thoughts spun again and then they spun away because he was in heaven.

Scully did sigh. Having Mulder hold her like this in the darkened theater, amongst the faceless crowd around them, was safe. It felt safe, she felt so protected and comforted and...no one would see. It felt...it felt so marvelous.

The film unreeled and as Cary Grant and Kate Hepburn careened off the walls, Mulder and Scully reached a perfect stillness, in the dark, under each other's touch.

Before the credits ended and the lights came up, Mulder carefully removed his arm from Scully's shoulders and busied himself with gathering up their half full popcorn bucket and empty soda cups. The lights finally did come up, and he helped Scully extricate her coat from the seat in front of her He shrugged into his own long black winter coat.

"Mulder, you were right, that was hilarious!" she exclaimed slightly breathless from all her laughter.

"Yeah, it's a classic. I love the part when the dinosaur skeleton..."

"I thought I'd pass out I was laughing so hard," Scully smiled back at him as they walked up the theater aisle. They walked out into the lobby and Mulder placed his hand on the small of her back to steer her towards the door. As Scully walked ahead of him and through the theater's glass exit door, she ran head on into Melvin Frohike.

"Whoa, Agent Scully!" he exclaimed trying to back pedal as fast as he could. His hasty retreat caused him to plow right into Byers and then Langly as both men came up behind him.

"Jesus, Frohike, my foot!" Langly exclaimed, "Hey, Mulder, Scully? Que pasa?" he asked as he spotted the two Agents.

Byers smiled. He was the most shy of the trio and seldom spoke unless he really had something to add to the conversation.

Mulder quickly grabbed the back of Scully's coat and pulled her gently away from a potentially embarrassing collision with the grizzled photographer He placed her carefully to the side and then dropped his hands instantly, shoving them deep into his coat pockets.

"Hey, what are you guys doing here?" he asked.

"I could ask you the same thing, G-Man," Frohike chuckled eyeing up the situation with a slight leer on his face.

"Give it a rest, Frohike," Byers interrupted instantly looking into Scully's face.

Scully smiled slightly at him and then she turned to Frohike, in an attempt to make conversation to cover the awkwardness of the moment, "Are you three going to see 'Bringing Up Baby,' Frohike?"

"Yeah, I wouldn't think that would be your type of film," Mulder hastened to add.

"Hey, why not, it's a classic," Frohike blustered.

"Classic, Yeah...But I just didn't think it had enough heavy breathing in it for your taste," Mulder smirked.

Frohike shrugged his shoulders and looked at his two companions. All three spoke in unison, "Katherine Hepburn!"

"What?" Scully asked, amused confusion on her face.

"Katherine Hepburn," Byers replied patiently, "she's a Goddess," he sighed.

"Yeah, she's HOT," Frohike laughed.

"A consummate comedienne," Langly chimed in.

Mulder guffawed, "OK you guys, I didn't realize you were so hung up on Ms Hepburn, my apologies."

"Yeah, well, even I can appreciate a fine performance, Mulder, even if it isn't between the sheets," Frohike retorted.

"Frohike..." Byers warned again.

Scully was smiling despite the randiness of Frohike's conversation. He could be amusing at times and she was definitely in the mood to be amused that evening.

"So, you two are out for an evening on the town?" Langly asked.

"Yeah. We, well, we just decided to get away from the J-O-B," Mulder started to explain awkwardly, "you know, relax a little with a good movie."

"Yeah, us too, we were starting to go crazy over the latest issue of the Lone Gunman. We had to get out of the office or rip our hair out," Langly replied.

"No shit," Frohike added, 'and I can't afford to lose any more," he smiled in a good natured way, running his hand over his head.

Byers was glancing at his watch, "Hey guys, we'd better get inside, we're going to miss the beginning of the film in a minute."

"Oh yeah, OK," Frohike answered. Then he gave a little bow towards Scully, "A pleasure to see you, as always, Agent Scully."

"The pleasure is mutual, Mr. Frohike," she smiled back at him. Frohike puffed up a bit, and the trio turned to enter the theater. Mulder started to turn away, but as he did, he just caught a snatch of their conversation when they thought they were out of earshot.

"You idiot, Frohike, couldn't you see what he was doing?" Byers was saying.

"What, Mulder?" Frohike was stammering.

"Her daughter's only been dead a few weeks for Christ sake, he's taking her out to try to cheer her up, I swear, you..."

"Jesus, I didn't think of that. Shit, I should have my..."

"Ass kicked," Langly added as they entered the theater.

Mulder quickly glanced at Scully. She was biting her lower lip slightly "Shit," he thought, "she heard them." He tenderly reached over and took her small hand in his.

"Hey, Scully, what do you say I take you home now, OK?" he began, quietly "It's been a great day. I...I really had a wonderful time," he continued Scully looked down at their entwined hands. Mulder whispered, "Scully, let's go - I don't want you to get too worn out, all right?" he chewed on his lower lip as well, and then made a conscious effort to stop because she was looking up into his eyes.

"All right, Mulder, that's fine," she replied a weak smile playing on her lips.


Late Sunday Evening

The ride back to Scully's apartment had been silent. Scully was brooding She had heard the Gunmen's comment about Emily. She bore them no malice, she just simply hadn't wanted to be reminded of her daughter. The whole day had been so wonderful. She'd finally felt herself relaxing until then.

Now thoughts of Emily filled her head. She sat rigidly in the car seat She'd only known the child a short time but she now knew the meaning of the phrase mother's bond. She had bonded with Emily. She had so desperately wanted the child to live. The idea that she had given life to someone when she no longer thought she could had breathed a hope into her soul. Yet, like her ova, that hope had been snatched from her. She twisted her hands around the leather straps of her purse.

Mulder pulled into a parking space in front of her apartment. She heard him cut the engine.

"Do you want to be alone or do you want me to come up?" he asked softly.

She didn't know. She already felt alone, even with him sitting inches from her in the car. She looked at her hands. She then turned to face Mulder She started to speak but froze when she looked into his eyes.

His hair had fallen into his eyes as he regarded her. There was so much kindness in those eyes. Her anger began to ebb as she looked at him and remembered the wonderful day they'd had together. Any thoughts she might have entertained of sending him home flew out the window.

"I want you to stay again, Mulder. If you don't mind."

He smiled at her. "No Scully, of course I don't mind."

"Who was she kidding?" he wondered. They opened their car doors and got out. He sidled up behind her placing his hand at the small of her back as she walked up the sidewalk in front of him. But this time he allowed his hand to linger and eventually let it rest on her hip. She said nothing, in fact, he even thought she leaned into him a little.

They made their way into the apartment and Scully immediately headed for the kitchen. Mulder caught her arm and she whirled around and fixed him with a surprised look.

"What?"

"Where were you going?" he asked.

"To make some tea," she said chuckling at him.

"No. Let me do it. You sit down."

They stood there regarding each other for a moment. He was still holding her arm. He trailed his hand down to hers and held it. Scully felt prickly as his fingers brushed hers back and forth. She watched their hands for a long time before she finally spoke up.

"OK, Mulder. Knock yourself out."

He finally let go and she instantly missed the contact. She laughed as he saluted her and made his way into the kitchen. She went over to the couch and flopped down sinking back into the cushions. She propped her tired feet up onto the coffee table. Something she usually never did when someone was at her home. But Mulder was different. She idly thought Mulder belonged here as much as she did. She quickly tamped the thought down.

She noticed a white envelope lying on the coffee table. She raised her eyebrow and then remembered. Her mother had given it to her yesterday and she hadn't had a chance to open it yet. Her mother said it was some pictures Bill had taken and she wanted Scully to get to look at them too.

Mulder was bustling about in the kitchen and seemed quite content to hum and make tea. She smiled at his back and allowed her eyes to linger just a little to long on what she termed his "exquisite derriere." She picked up the envelope and pulled out the pictures.

Most of them were from Christmas and a few of Bill's new baby. Then one picture fell out and landed in Scully's lap. It was a picture of Missy when she was a child. Scully remembered looking at it while they were in San Diego. Missy looked so much like Emily. She had lost them both.

Scully stared at the picture and felt the lump rise in her throat. She didn't want to see it but she couldn't tear her eyes away. She brought a trembling hand to her lips in a vain attempt to stifle a sob. Mulder's large frame appeared instantly in front of her. She didn't look at him but heard him sit the mugs of tea down on the table. He sat next to her.

"Hey, what is it? What's wrong?" He leaned over and saw the picture.

He abruptly turned his head away. He forced himself to look back. Tears streamed down Scully's face but she said nothing, just stared at the photo Mulder tentatively reached out for it. She let him take it. He set it on the table.

He turned back to her and she launched herself into his arms. He tucked her head under his chin and ran his hands over her back in an attempt to soothe her. Her shoulders hitched and she kept repeating over and over, "It's not fair."

"Shh," he said kissing her forehead. She finally looked up into his eyes He moved a hand around to her face, cupping her cheek. "God, Scully I'm so sorry. None of this would have ever happened if you hadn't met me...I feel like such an ass for bringing this pain into your..."

She placed a finger over his lips. Her breathing was slowly returning to normal. "Mulder, don't ever say that. It's not your fault. You didn't kidnap me or steal my ova or kill my child. You had no way of knowing those things would happen to me, nor did I. I'm with the X- Files...with you because I choose to be...because I want to be. I couldn't make it through what I'm going through with out you Mulder. Don't put this guilt on your shoulders."

He pulled her close again and resumed stroking her back. She sighed and settled into him. She idly thought it felt so good to be in his arms. It felt warm and safe. She inhaled his scent and immediately felt a little dizzy. The rhythmic strokes of his hands over her back were no longer soothing.

Her mind drifted to what it would feel like if her shirt were no longer there, or if his hands were some where else on her body. She backed away from him again and looked into his eyes. He looked into hers. Their mouths were dangerously close to one another. Scully was desperately fighting the urge to lean forward and kiss him.

"You still want your tea?" he asked. She felt each of his words in puffs of breath that startled her lips. Her eyes slipped shut briefly and then she composed herself. "This is your partner and best friend,"she mentally chastised, "get a hold of yourself Dana."

"Oh, yeah. Thanks."

He moved away and got her cup for her. "How 'bout I build a fire?"

Her mind supplied he already had and she was desperately trying to put it out. "Yeah, that'd be nice, Mulder." He moved off the sofa and began stacking logs in the fireplace.

He fumbled for a moment and found some matches on the mantle. The smell of sulfur stung his nostrils. He was glad. All that proximity to Scully had assaulted him with her delicate perfume and it was doing the most delightful, yet potentially embarrassing things to his body. He chastised himself, "She needs your comfort not your raging hormones, Mulder."

He worked hard at getting the fire going and it provided enough of a distraction that he was able to get himself back under control. He lit some scraps of newspaper under the logs and soon they were catching fire. He recalled feeling the same way just a few moments ago. It was amazing what simply holding Scully in his arms did to him.

Maybe it was the way she smelled. Or the way she looked. Or the way she felt. God it was everything about her. The word came unbidden to his mind, love. He was totally, hopelessly in love with her. This day had only served to reiterate that fact. He couldn't let her know that. She didn't need that now, she had enough to deal with. He sat down on the rug in front of the fire. He heard her stirring behind him. He cautioned a glance over his shoulder and saw her moving to him holding the tea mugs.

"You forgot this," she said smiling at him.

"Yeah, thanks," he took the mug from her and their fingers brushed. She allowed the contact to linger. She needed to feel close to him now. He was the only thing keeping her from insanity. If she still believed in God, she'd thank him for the comfort that was Mulder. She sat next to him and leaned her head on his shoulder. She felt his arm snake around her and pull her closer.

They sat watching the fire burn for a long time. The flames licked up the chimney as it roared to life. The wood popped and snapped and soon was the only noise she was conscious of. She dimly wondered if it was making Mulder nervous. She knew how afraid he was of fire, yet he'd offered to build it She noted he kept his distance but he was still watching it, almost transfixed.

"This doesn't make you nervous?" she asked.

He swallowed hard. He felt sweat bead on his forehead, "Of course it makes me nervous having you this close to me," he thought, then he realized her meaning.

"No. Actually, I read something about how people who are afraid of snakes often learn to overcome their fear by exposing themselves over and over again to them. I'm conducting a little experiment."

"Oh."

"Yeah, and besides this is a very controlled fire. I can deal with it." She looked at him and he smiled. She turned back to the fire and snuggled in close to him again. "Yeah right, controlled," he told himself, "just like your wildfire feelings for the woman in your arms? Mulder, you're an idiot."

He touched the cross around his neck and sighed. He still couldn't believe she'd given it to him. He didn't want her too. Her giving up that cross signified the death of her faith. He shook his head realizing Emily had taken that with her when she died. Yet another thing the bastards had managed to take from Scully.

The one thing she'd never been skeptical about. Religion. <What a pair we make.> He was doubting his belief in little grey men while she pondered her faith. But that wasn't how it was supposed to be. Scully was the rock. She was firm in her beliefs. He could not allow the shadow powers to take that from her, it was too much. He touched the cross again, it felt like fire to him.

"Scully?"

"Hmmm."

"Why do you doubt your faith?"

She turned to face him. He put his hands on her shoulders. She was regarding him seriously. She reached out and touched the cross. Then dropped her hand back to her lap.

"I've lost so much. Once I would have told you God was testing me, but I don't believe that anymore. I used to believe in a world where evil existed but good prevailed. I don't believe that anymore either. I've seen so much and it seems that those who want to do ill have more success than those of us who want to do good. The God I learned about would never allow that to happen, Mulder. So how can I believe?"

"I don't know. I still believe in what we do because I still believe in good. I just don't know if I believe in God."

"Well, how can you believe in good and not in God?" he said tilting her chin to face him.

She smiled at him, but it was a pained smile. "Mulder, you don't believe in God, why do you care what I think?"

"I care about you, Scully. And I guess I hate seeing you struggling with this, at a time like this. Before, I would have imagined you would have turned to your faith for comfort. I hate to see you with out that comfort Why don't you take the cross back Scully? I can't take the pain away, but I want to give you everything I can that will help to lessen it."

She stiffened at his words and rose. She walked to the window. She was silent a long time. Finally, he rose and stood behind her. Settling his hands on her shoulders.

"Mulder, I feel wrong wearing it. I'm doubting every single institution I once believed in. The only thing I trust...the only one I trust now is you I want to believe, Mulder, I'm just not sure I can. You're the one who's always been open to the extreme. I guess I'm hoping your wearing that cross will do the same for me some how. I need that from you. I need the strength of your beliefs."

He sighed heavily behind her and placed a small kiss on the bare skin between her shirt and neck. She was sure he meant it to be an innocent gesture of comfort, but to her it felt anything but innocent. A bolt of pure desire shot straight through her. She shuddered.

"Whatever you need, Scully."

She turned and faced him. "Are you going to stay here tonight?"

"Do you want me to?"

"Yes."

"Then I am," he brushed a lock of hair off her face. She stared at his mouth. She desperately wanted to kiss him. To sink into him and let him make love to her and comfort her. But she stamped the feelings down. This was hardly the time for such folly. "Isn't it enough you're monopolizing all his time, Dana?" she asked herself. She leaned forward and kissed his cheek.

"Thank you, Mulder. I...I'm glad we spent the day together, despite all this junk tonight I actually relaxed and I so desperately needed to do that. Thank you for being there for me."

"You don't have to thank me Scully. What are friends for?"

She smiled and squeezed his hand. "I'm going to bed, do you need anything?"

He shook his head.

"Very well then. Good night, Mulder."

"Good night, Scully."


Monday, January 11, 1998
Midnight

Midnight. The witching hour. Witches connote magic, and magic - yes, this was a magical day! I have hope that Scully, that we, may be seeing some light at the end of the tunnel at last. I feel such relief tonight. Scully had so much fun today, and God, I really enjoyed myself too. She's eating and sleeping better (no nightmares lately, since the one I now think may have been about her brother Bill after all.) But best of all the paleness is leaving her face and that little furrow in her brow is almost gone as well.

Certainly, there are still issues. I still have the cross. This bothers me, but I think it's something we can deal with over time, at least I hope so Shit. I have to stop thinking about her faith. She'll come around. She has to eventually. I mean, she can't just keep denying her God, and placing her faith in me forever. I think she's too much of a pragmatist to stay in denial for that long. And as for her faith in me - well, I just hope it isn't misplaced.

No, I'm going to try to be upbeat. She'll regain her faith, and I'll do anything I can to see that she does. We can work it out! And you know, I even think I have the confidence to leave Scully alone to her own devices at last. Christ, I guess that's a good thing all the way around. Skinner called on my cell phone late Saturday. He was polite, and still showing concern for Scully. I'm sure he wonders when I'll...we'll be back on the job, though.

But what a day! I think both of us were really tired by the end of it, but it was more than worth the fatigue! Sure, I'm exhausted. The whole day was very emotional - emotionally taxing for both of us. But it's a good exhaustion for once. Good because Scully is better and...well, pardon me for belaboring the point but, I'm walking on air a bit here. Hey, and by the way, I'm sorry I called you "torture book", all right? Mea Culpa my little confessional. Things are going great, so good, so wonderfully so...

Damn it to hell. Why can't I be content? This has been such a fabulous day - we were so close, we were so happy...why let this mood fade...I should shut up now, I should tell myself to get fucked...but it's too late!

Now, I have to ask - God help me - what's wrong with this picture? And why do I need to ask that question? Why do I do this to myself, to Scully? Because damn it, Mulder, you have to analyze, search out, discover, and seek the truth, so that you can believe. Even when that need to believe means unending pain for you, and anyone you may care bout. Credo ut intelligam? - I believe so that I may understand? I believe so that I may suffer is more to the point, I think. And so those words...

Emotional? Confessional? Those words are something of an understatement, aren't they Mulder - you prick? I shouldn't go there, oh hell - I can't...I must STOP!...it was such a magical day. We had a magnificent time, and I just have to keep telling myself that it was all for Scully, all for..crap All right, why must I always be delusional? Because I am a fucking coward that's why! Well, screw that, no one's going to read this shit. This book is under lock and key and...

FINE! I'm not going to beat around the bush here any more. I can't stifle my emotions for one more second. I just can't, because if I do I'm afraid where they may take me, where they may take us. If I write about them I can rationalize them, and then...I'll fucking sublimate them - IT'S THE ONLY WAY! So - here IT comes, and there IT goes, and the subject is never going to come up again.

Dear Diary - Some things are becoming clear to me, yessir! Certain matters are becoming as clear as the crystal blue of Scully's eyes - clear, dangerous dreams, and dreams I'm not going to tell anyone, especially Scully. No, these things are going to remain between these pages now, and I'm going to hide, conceal, the dreams way back in my mind, and down deep in my heart, because although I'm going to confess them here these thoughts should never see the light of day. And they won't, I'd rather die than let them out.

Day? Light? My heart is being revealed in the glare of bright white daylight. That muscle in my chest is under a spotlight, the shafts of a klieg light and those shafts are piercing it! After today I, I can't deny it any longer. I'm in love with her. I'm in love with Dana Scully, my partner, my friend, my trusted friend. I'm sorry Scully. I can't help myself any longer.

It's been too much to hold her, to be close to her, to comfort her, to wear her cross for God's sake - to have her faith! It's more than anyone can expect me to go through and not want, need... How can I be expected to deny what I really feel for her? How can anyone blame me for loving her now?

Oh Scully. I will allow myself, us, this one paragraph - before I do what I have to do and banish these ideas from my mind, and flip the switch that turns out the light shining on (in?) my heart. Dana, if you should ever read this I just want you to know I wish - I wish that we could celebrate this love. Oh hell - I love you so much. It's not a pure, romanticized love, no, it's the love of a man for a woman and all that entails. Respect, loyalty, honor, tenderness, compassion, and so many other words - and yes passion. I want to touch you, to feel your body in my arms, to give you pleasure to...receive pleasure from you in return. I want us to be one We've been spiritually one for a long, long time I think. I just...I want, forgive me, I want us to be physically one as well. And I only have one last thing to say to you. I will love you with my dying breath and beyond even that, Dana - but I will never, ever hurt you by letting you know it You deserve to be your own master, unfettered by me and my wants and needs Stay your own course. I'll let you. I respect you too much to do anything else.

So, dear diary, I have to reign in my heart and soul now because...

The whole day and then tonight, back at her apartment, was the worst. If I called this a torture book then this whole day was torture with a capital T. But heaven help me it was divine torture - But how could I be any more treacherous? I was treacherous, a traitor to our friendship. A traitor because I let myself covet her soul, and lust for her body. Sure, I'm only human, but I think she needs me, expects me to be something more for her right now. Like a friend that she can rely on - not a lover.

She's called me friend so many times, and tonight I said "You don't have to thank me Scully. What are friends for?" Friends are for support in times like these - they are not for what I want us to have, to be together. But God, I want her. And it isn't just the sex. I am so lonely. I just want someone to share with, to protect, to care for and really hold, and have them know how much I really care...Oh fuck it.

I told you these things should never see the light of day. Why? Because they're like malignant toadstools on my soul and the only place they really should thrive is in the dark underbelly of my heart. They should stay in the dark where they can't ever compromise her.

I know loving her is wrong. Why? There are so many reasons. Obvious ones like the basic logistics of such a relationship and the impact on our work come to mind. Ho, is that elementary - How PC! God, how stupid that sounds And it is naive. Crap, the main reason my love is wrong is because I know deep down, well - I know she'll never love me. Scully is putting her faith in me at the moment. I know she wants me here, needs me to act as an anchor for her right now. Her need for me is an immediate need. It lies in the here and now of her depression and loss. I think when she recovers from the shock of losing Emily she's going to realize that...well I just think things will change. She'll go back to being Agent Dana Scully and I'll go back to being...damned?

I'm in hell. But as long as Scully's not it doesn't matter.

I look into her eyes and sometimes I see...I see it there - maybe she does care. Maybe she feels the same? And here's the real horror of it - dear little journal. What if I'm making her feel it? I mean what if she thinks she should love me because - she's lost her faith and I'm all she has left, or she's doing it out of - God - gratefulness? guilt? loneliness? or pity? Dear God, I don't want her under those conditions. I don't want to make her think she should love me. It feels like force. It feels like a betrayal of her trust in me...it feels like rape. I don't want to use her that way. I'd kill myself first.

So where does that leave us? It leaves Scully at peace maybe for the first time in weeks - and I will do everything I can to see that she stays there It leaves me with this vow. I will not give in to these feelings "Lead me not into temptation, Lord?" You bettcha. I will continue to deny. I will center all my thoughts and strive for the clarity of my resolve. I will be merely a good friend, a best friend and confident, protector and partner, and backup for Scully. AND THAT IS ALL. From now on, I AM the anchor, the rock I said I would be in that first pathetic journal entry. The one I made on the yellow legal pad. I owe her that much and I owe her so much more There is no question. "Cadit quaestio" - the question drops - END OF STORY! Good night.


12 AM Monday Morning
January 11

JOURNAL OF DANA K. SCULLY

I don't know why I'm doing this. I guess because Karen Koseff suggested I do it. I haven't even told Mulder I'm talking with her. Well, I've just spoken with her once recently. But I had to talk to someone about all this that's going on in my head.

I spoke with her on the phone when we first got back from San Diego, but I'm actually going to see her next week. In the meantime, she suggested I get all of my feelings on paper. Psychologists often believe writing one's problems down on paper helps the person to own their problems. I don't want to own my problems, I just want them to go away.

I've examined everything. I've paid special attention to my diet, scrutinized everything I've read or watched on television and even over scrutinized all my conversations trying to figure out where these ideas are coming from. My scientific mind can't come up with a logical explanation and I'm terribly frustrated by it. Maybe there isn't a reason for them other than just the sheer stress of losing Emily.

Loss. I seem to know it so intimately now. I lost three months of my life that I can't account for. I lost a sister and then a daughter I never had a chance to know. I also fear I've lost my faith. Maybe that's selfish. Mom seems to think I feel this way. I went to see her today. She didn't berate me about my feelings. Mom just thinks because of all the things I've lost I selfishly believe a caring God wouldn't take them from me. Maybe she's right. But damn it what am I supposed to do, blindly accept those things. I refuse.

It isn't right to have that much taken from you and I don't think I'm selfish for feeling that way. Perhaps I do want too much or expect too much. I always want things to make sense and none of this does. I guess that's the problem. Too little in my life makes sense now and it's really making me uncomfortable.

Even Mulder is making less sense to me than he normally does. That's not fair, it's me really. I'm having trouble making sense of the feelings I'm having for Mulder and the feelings he seems to be having for me. God, today was wonderful. I actually relaxed for once. I haven't done that in so long.

He was so wonderful. I can't believe I'm saying that but it's true. He made me laugh and comforted me when it got to be too much. I used to feel so horrible when I broke down in front of him. I still do but it doesn't seem so bad now. I trust Mulder, often more than I trust my own family, so I guess it seems right to show him that side of myself. I know he won't judge and he never pushes me with this, even though he can push the hell out of me in other areas, and I couldn't be more grateful to him.

I gave him my cross. He's not comfortable with it, I guess I wouldn't be either in his shoes. He doesn't believe in God. What surprises me is he seems to be upset that I doubt now. Maybe it's because he's doubting his own beliefs. He has always expected me to be rock solid on this issue and here I am letting him down. I'm so sorry, Mulder, but I just can't believe now. All I can do is believe in you. It's crazy I know but I need you to be strong for me now.

What am I saying? He has been so strong and warm and so many other things that make me nervous. I actually slept peacefully for the first time the other day when he held me. I was completely taken aback when I came home the other night and he'd made dinner...he even brought me breakfast in bed That was a little unnerving. There he was trying to cheer me up and all I could think about was the fact that both of us were in my bed Together...well not together TOGETHER. I actually felt like I wanted that though. I don't know how to feel about it. I chalk it up to the fact that I haven't had a date in so long but I'm beginning to believe it's more than all that.

All the little touches we've shared over time. The way he guides me through doors, his hand ever present at the small of my back. He always leans in close to talk to me when we're discussing a case. At first those things bothered me, but then I realized it wasn't a dominance thing with him Mulder is so very private and protective and that's how he manifests those things. I know he does it because he trusts me. I trust him too, more than myself now. What else do you feel for him Dana? Why is it so hard for you to talk about that?

He's kissed me chastely so many times. I never let it bother me much. I mean, every time he touches me it makes me tingle all over and I really hate that he can make me react so strongly. But lately it's worse. Tonight, when he kissed the back of my neck, it was hard to fight the urge to turn and kiss him back.

I know he meant it to comfort me. He's trying so hard to make me feel safe and feel better and I...I what? Damn it, I will allow myself this feeling even if it is only in this stupid journal. I love him. I love Fox Mulder He's a wonderful man and he cares about me and I'm going to allow myself to at least enjoy that, even if it is only in my mind.

I say I trust him and love him but why can't I tell him about the dreams. I guess I'm just afraid. I'm not afraid of what he'll think so much as I'm afraid of what he'll do. He already feels so much guilt over what has happened to me, I don't want to cause him more. I won't cause him more I'll just talk these things out with Karen and get through them the best I can. It's the least I can do for Mulder. He's already done so much for me.

I'll close now. I'm sure I'll have more to write once I've talked to Karen.


Friday, January 16, 1998
High Noon

Scully pulled her coat up around her neck. It was a cold January day. A Friday. She'd decided to come back to work on Monday. Mulder had returned with her as well. She thought it would help. <Idle hands are the devil's playground?> Her idle mind was home for demons now. Better to face the daily grind than what lurked in her thoughts back in her apartment - even with Mulder present to comfort her, and even after that almost idyllic Sunday they had spent together. "God, that pleasant moment had been short lived," she thought bitterly.

She was lost in the rhythmic clack of her shoes on the pavement as she walked to lunch. She and Mulder had been working on paperwork all morning and Scully finally said she needed to get outside for awhile, even if it was below zero. She didn't really feel the cold - at least not the cold of the air.

Mulder had joked about calling the Gunmen on something frivolous, something they had discussed on Sunday but which she didn't even remember. He had asked her to pick up some chili for him while she was out.

She crossed the street with the light. She found herself in one of the many parks scattered throughout DC. She didn't know why she was drawn there This one wasn't one of your more picturesque parks. The only thing parkish about it was the fountain, now empty, the rest of the place was covered with cement or cobblestones. There were a few anemic looking trees that had seen better days before the car exhaust and vandals had gotten to them They clutched at the sky now as if they wanted to escape the cement they were moored in. Scully sat down on one of the many benches and watched the DC suits bustling through their lunch hours. "I'm like that more often than not," she told herself silently, "and it's surprising how so many of us want to get out of the office - no matter what the weather."

Despite the cold, Scully felt lazy. No lazy wasn't exactly right she thought. Lassitude was probably a more accurate word. She felt listless. A feeling that was awkward on Scully. She didn't remember a time when she simply just wanted to sit back and watch the world go by. Every time she tried something interrupted her. She crossed her feet at the ankles, cursing her small frame. Her feet never touched the ground, forcing her to stretch her short legs out, hooking her heels into the brick sidewalk.

More suits hustled by and she felt a little smug. She wasn't going to be like that today. Today she'd merely sit here and relax. "Then why don't I feel at ease?" she thought, a sudden chill running up her spine. <God, maybe the cold is getting to me.> She shook herself - NO! - today she was going to revel in the fact she didn't have to rush anywhere. The only thing on her agenda was two cups of chili for her and her partner and she'd do that when she got to it.

A child's laughter interrupted her thoughts. She glanced over and saw a young girl with brown curly hair. She was playing some sort of game with her mother, it looked like peek-a-boo or something. Scully couldn't tell, the child's back was to her. The girl was only 3 or 4, about Emily's age Scully instantly felt sad. How could she miss someone she only knew for such a short amount of time? She forced her gaze away from the mother and daughter.

She felt angry again. She'd been angry a lot lately. Ever since she'd been back from San Diego she felt angry impulses she couldn't quite contain She'd talked to Karen Koseff about it and the psychologist had suggested she keep a journal and work out more. The combination of the exercise and writing her thoughts on paper had been helping but the feelings were still there. She made a note to have a long session with her journal that evening.

She looked back up and the girl and her mother were walking past Scully The child turned her head and looked at Scully as she went by. Scully froze. The child's eyes looked so much like the eyes of someone familiar She racked her mind to think of who. God, they, they looked a little like Mulder's eyes. But more to the point they looked like photos she had seen of his sister - the little girl's eyes looked like Samantha's eyes. "What. why should that bother me?" she thought and then she felt another more violent shiver run like an electric shock through her body. "Dear God, that dream," she gasped. She got up in near panic and began to run back to the J. Edgar Hoover Building, all thoughts of warm bowls of chili forgotten in her haste.


Sunday January 18
Late Evening

A pale light filtered into Scully's room, bathing her face in white. Mulder watched her from the door. His tall form filled the door frame. It was late, nearly 11 p.m., and he couldn't sleep. He was indulging in something he felt terribly guilty about but refused to give up. Since he'd been staying with her, he frequently watched her sleep.

He had started a few nights before. Her soft cries had woken him from his fitful slumber on her couch. He had walked to the door of her bedroom, which she had begun leaving open, to see her twisting and turning in the sheets. Mulder had taken a few steps into the room and she stilled. He remained a few moments but then she seemed to relax. From that night forward, he would make a check on her every night.

Tonight, she seemed peaceful. But he was wary. She had screamed the previous evening, waking him from a dead sleep. She either didn't remember the dream or refused to tell him about it. He assumed it was the latter For some reason she was afraid to tell him about the dreams. He assumed they were about Emily and far too painful for her to talk about. It still bothered him. He felt so responsible for her pain the least she could do was share it with him.

He heard a muffled sound come from across the room. She was twisting in her sleep again. His body went stock still and he became cold. She was having another nightmare. She murmured again and seemed to quiet. He balled his fists and held them by his side. He chewed on his bottom lip. She cried out again.

Scully saw a flash of light. She twisted to escape Duane Barry's grasp, but it was no use, he was too strong. Then she felt his arms fall away from her and she floated upwards. She felt weightless as she drifted closer to the light. She heard voices but could not tell what they said.

She blinked and was in a room. She was surrounded by white. The only color she could see was two sturdy black bands that ran across her chest. She glanced down the length of her body struggling to move. She froze.

Her belly distended before her. It was more than abnormally large. "I'm pregnant!" she thought. She smelled cigarette smoke and he swam into view He touched her belly and she struggled to shrink away from his touch.

"Get the hell away from me!"

"You have nothing to fear Agent Scully. Besides, you shouldn't over do it After all you are with child," he took a long drag off of his cigarette. He blew the smoke away from Scully's face.

"You bastard. You fucking bastard. Let me out of here."

His face disappeared and suddenly men with masks surrounded her. They leaned in at once and she closed her eyes. When she opened them she was in a hospital. But Mulder was the one in the hospital bed and not her. She felt worry for him as she looked over him. He wasn't speaking and his eyes were shut. "Wake up, Mulder!" She shook him but he made no move.

She scrubbed her face with her hands and stared across the room and out the door. A blonde woman stood in the doorway. Her ice blue eyes made Scully wary. She looked at the woman's hands. She was holding a vial full of a milky-white substance. The woman smiled at Scully and realization swept over her.

"NO! MULDER!"

Her screams forced Mulder from his frozen position. She sat up in the bed abruptly and her eyes popped open. Yet she wasn't fully awake, she still seemed dazed. He crossed the room to her bed in three long strides. She threw her arms around him and held on tightly. Mulder felt her trembling in his embrace.

"Shh...it's OK. I'm here. It was just a dream."

She clung to him like a frightened child. He felt a knot build in his back as he tensed. He hated what was happening to her and he hated she wouldn't talk to him about it.

"Scully please, tell me about it. I want to help and don't tell me THIS dream was about Bill," he regretted the bitter words the moment they were out of his mouth. She stiffened and backed away from him. She was staring at her lap.

"Mulder, how can I tell you something I don't know?"

"Are you saying you can't remember the dream?"

"No...I remember but it's so disjointed I wouldn't know where to begin."

"The beginning?"

She bristled. "Damn it Mulder, this is hard enough without..."

"Without what?" he spat.

She rolled off the other side of the bed and walked into the bathroom, shutting the door. Why couldn't he just leave her alone about this? She was getting to the point where she was afraid to sleep because she'd have to explain every murmur and twitch. She turned the faucet on and splashed cold water over her face. When she looked up, she saw her face in the mirror.

Dark circles ringed her eyes and her cheeks looked hollow. She'd lost a lot of weight. She was just never hungry these days. Her hair wasn't as shiny as it normally was. "I look like shit," she told herself silently.

She felt so tired. She didn't sleep much anymore the little sleep she was getting was filled with nightmares. She sighed. She just wanted it all to go away. The dreams, Mulder's nagging, her confused feelings about him...why wouldn't it all go away? She slumped against the wall and slid to the floor. She sobbed louder than she intended and then couldn't control it anymore.

The bathroom door swung open. Mulder squatted in front of her and pulled her hands from her face and then stood, pulling her with him. He held her up against the wall and stared intently into her face. He worked his jaw willing the anger to leave his body. He didn't want to be angry but he was.

"I'm not the bad guy here, Scully. So why the hell are you pushing me away?"

He was holding her hands at her sides. She twisted her hands free and moved them toward his chest. He saw in her eyes she meant to physically push him away but he caught her wrists again. Her body was stretched against the length of his. Her face was just inches from his. He felt her breath hitting his bottom lip. He held in a shudder.

His shoulders sagged in defeat and he let her hands go. He stepped back from her and turned and leaned heavily on the sink. "Why won't you let me in? I thought you trusted me."

"I do trust you, Mulder. It's me I don't trust. I don't know what all this is that I'm dreaming and feeling and I don't trust myself with...whatever it is. When and if I straighten it out then perhaps I can tell you what it is, but not until then. Can you accept that?"

He turned to face her. Tears were falling from her eyes still. He softened at the sight. He moved closer to her again and brushed a lock of hair from her face. She moved closer to him again and looked up at him. He moved his hands and mopped the tears up with his thumbs. She placed her palms flat on his bare chest.

"From you, I'll accept just about anything," he said softly.

They stared at one another for a long moment. She licked her bottom lip and it sent a jolt of pure desire straight through his body. He cursed his traitorous body for allowing him to harbor such a thought at this delicate moment. He turned his head and stepped back but she caught his arms and drew him back close to her. His brow furrowed with confusion.

Gripping his arms she leaned up on tip-toe and kissed him on the lips. It was soft, not demanding, not unlike other chaste kisses they'd shared, but only for a moment. She slid her hand up his arm and around the back of his neck pushing his head closer to hers, deepening the kiss. Alarm bells were going off in his head.

Her mouth fell open and allowed entrance to his tongue. They each probed the recesses of one other's mouths. His hands danced along her back and she delighted in the feel of his hands through the thin material of the t-shirt she'd worn to bed. Then she realized what she was doing and who with. She backed away. He groaned at the separation.

"Mulder...I'm sorry. I shouldn't have done that...I..."

"Scully," he stepped closer to her again and cupped her face with his hand "It's OK. We both got a little carried away there. No harm done." He kissed her forehead. "I should have stopped us sooner."

"No. Mulder it's not your fault. I...I wanted to," she looked at her feet and then walked out of the room. He followed her back to her bedroom. She was standing at the edge of her bed. She heard him approach her from behind and then felt his heavy hands on her shoulders.

"Look, Mulder, I don't want to confuse either of us any more than we already are. I'm sorry. Please don't be angry with me..."

"Angry with you? Scully, you kissed me. Why would I be angry with you for that?"

She turned and gave him a look. He smiled back at her and she gave him a weak smile. "It's OK Scully," he squeezed her shoulders, "Go to sleep. I'll be in the next room if you need me." He let her go and walked out of the room.

"That's the problem," she told herself aloud, "I do need you. In so many ways."


Monday, January 19
8:27 A.M.

"Don't you want to know?"

Tendrils of smoke rose in the air around him. He was such a smug bastard Standing there, calmly smoking his cigarette barely even noticing the gun she held on him. Her small hands gripped her Sig so tightly, she thought she could feel every ridge of the handgrip. The anger she felt started at the base of her feet and shot straight through her body. Her arm was quivering in front of her as she desperately fought the urge to pull the trigger.

"Shoot me, and you'll never know. I can give you your memories back, Agent Scully. And you do want them back, don't you? You want to know about Emily, your little girl."

"Why should I trust anything you have to say?"

He smiled, "Who else would give you this information?"

"I was under the impression the only information you were capable of dispensing was misinformation," she replied coolly.

He laughed, "Ah, but some of it is misinformation and some of it is information. I leave that up to you and your brilliant partner to sort through. You two really make an excellent team. You seem so connected. I'll bet you don't even know how connected you are."

"What the hell are you talking about?"

"You never wondered who Emily's father was? Harvesting your ova was only half the job, Agent Scully. We had to harvest the other half of the equation to give her life," a smug smile crossed his face, "We at least had the decency to fertilize your eggs with the sperm of someone you know."

"Mulder?" Scully gasped.

The Smoker blew out a cloud of foul-smelling smoke and smiled. "How perceptive of you, Agent Scully. Yes, we took Agent Mulder's 'half of the equation' from him when he was in Alaska. You really should have watched over him more closely."

"That's...that's impossible. That happened in 1995! Emily was four years old!"

"You're forgetting, Agent Scully, she was an alien-human hybrid. The alien DNA structure causes these children to mature much faster than a normal human child would." He tossed his cigarette on the floor and crushed it with his foot.

She felt herself snap and heard the guttural cry that escaped her lips. The Sig crashed to the floor discharging as it hit. She flung herself at the man standing in front of their filing cabinets. Her small body sending him crashing into it.

A rush of air left The Smoker's lungs as she collided with his body. Both of them crashed to the floor. Scully's fists were wild, connecting with any part of him she could.


Mulder got off the elevator at the basement level, humming "Viva Las Vegas". Things had been a little tense between he and Scully last night but he couldn't get his mind off the kiss they shared. She'd even admitted she wanted it. He was thunderstruck. He was a little concerned about her confusion but he knew if they talked about it some more they'd both feel better.

She'd kissed his cheek this morning as he left to go change before work Then she squeezed his hand. Everything seemed very encouraging. Sure he was nervous about where all that was headed, but with Scully he just knew it would all work out.

He began to fumble for his keys when he heard loud voices coming from their office. He recognized the male voice and froze at the door.

"We at least had the decency to fertilize your eggs with the sperm of someone you know."

"You fucking bastard! I'll kill you, you son of a bitch...you fucking black-lunged son of a bitch..."

He heard Scully's cry and then the discharge of a weapon. He burst through the door in time to see his petite partner lying atop the Cancer Man, beating the hell out of him.

At first, he thought he might be hallucinating. Skinner had told him the man had been shot and was believed dead. But the smell of Morley's in the air more than convinced him this was not his imagination. Some how, he wasn't surprised the black-lunged bastard was still alive.

Scully's angry shouts had softened to desperate sobs, but she was still pounding on him. In the twist of bodies, Mulder could see she'd managed to black his eye and bloody his nose. He dimly wondered why he never fared as well in his fights.

He moved swiftly to them and pulled Scully off the man, wrapping one of his strong arms around her. She squirmed but was quickly wearing out. He lowered his gun at the man's head.

"I don't know what the hell you're doing here or even how the hell you're alive. But I'm just going to give you one chance. You leave now, or I'll finish what someone else failed to do and that's put a bullet in your head Get OUT."

He dabbed the back of his hand at his bloody nose. He rose gracefully and eyed Mulder circumspectly. He began to walk out the door, but stopped just inside the doorway, "I'll be in touch, Agent Scully."

She screamed and twisted in Mulder's arms but he held her still. "Get the fuck out of here you bastard," Mulder hissed. The door clicked quietly into place and he was gone. He felt the shudders of his partner's sobs. He gently laid his weapon down, sliding the safety back on. He turned her around in his arms, holding her tightly.

"Shh, it's all right now," he smoothed her ruffled hair from her eyes. Scully was not supposed to come apart at the seams. He was growing so tired of seeing her like this. Just when things had been so wonderful this morning, the prince of darkness had to darken their door. He pulled her closer to him.

"What happened Scully? Can you tell me?" he asked backing away slightly and looking into her eyes.

She shuddered but spoke, "He said he could give my memories back. He also told me who Emily's father was," she said backing away from him. She turned and braced herself against Mulder's desk.

"Who?" Mulder asked through clenched teeth.

Scully felt cold. The very idea that they had done to Mulder what they had done to her felt like an even further violation. Bits of the dream she'd had the night before came back to her in a rush. The retrovirus Mulder had been given when he'd gone to the arctic. How could she have been so stupid? She didn't know any of those doctor's and yet she left him alone with them so much. It must have happened then, right under her watchful eye.

"I let you down Mulder," she said in a sob.

"What the hell are you talking about Scully?"

"Mulder, they harvested your sperm just like they harvested my ova. Don't you understand? And they did it when I was in the same building with you God! I fucking can't believe it. I should have stayed with you every minute. Why did I let my guard down?"

"Scully! That's crazy. He's just fucking with your head. When would they have done that?"

"The retrovirus Mulder. They took your sperm from you when you were incapacitated then. I had to leave you alone with the doctor's several times."

He crossed the room and gripped her shoulders, spinning her to face him "Scully, you can't believe that. He's just saying it to fuck with you Christ, I should have shot him where he stood."

"Mulder, damn it, he wasn't lying," she shouted.

"How do you know?" he yelled back.

Her shoulders slumped and she regarded him seriously. "Because I'm remembering...in my dreams. All of it is coming back Mulder. My abduction...I saw what they did to me. And last night I dreamt they did the same thing to you."

"It's all LIES Scully! He just wants you to think that."

A security guard entered the room and eyed them both suspiciously. Their postures suggested a serious argument but neither one looked as though they would attack one another. The guard cut his glance to Scully's weapon. It was lying on the floor next to a filing cabinet with a fresh bullet hole The guard touched the gun in his holster but then pulled his hand away.

"Agents, we heard gunfire come from this room. Could you please explain what happened."

Mulder whipped around to face the guard. Before he could say a word, Scully excused herself and ran out of the room. Mulder hung his head.

"Agent Mulder?" the guard pressed.

"Agent Scully dropped her weapon and it discharged. I'll be up to give Assistant Director Skinner a full report shortly, OK?" he spat angrily.

The guard stiffened and walked out of the office, shutting the door behind him. Mulder kicked his waste can and sent it flying across the office. It crashed into the opposite wall and spilled onto the floor. He flung his lamp, blotter, pencil cup holder and several pictures off his desk onto the floor. His rage reached a crescendo as he slammed his fist into the wall He let his body fall against it and then slid to the floor. Hot tears streamed down his face.


Later That Morning...

"Thank you for seeing me on such short notice."

"You seem very upset Dana. Please, have a seat."

Scully sunk into the beige sofa in Karen Koseff's office. She didn't like that she was seeing a psychologist. It seemed so weak. But after the argument she'd just had with Mulder, she needed someone who would at least listen. She had to get all of this out of her head before she went crazy She sighed and looked out the window.

"Are you still having the dreams, Dana?"

Scully fixed Koseff in her gaze. She recounted the dream she'd had the night before and then explained her confrontation with the Cigarette Smoking Man. She explained in very vague terms who he was to Koseff. She was holding back because she felt no need to neither endanger the psychologist nor give her too much information. Koseff listened intently When Scully finished, Koseff remained quiet for a long time.

"You believe you and your partner were both brainwashed into not remembering what was taken from you?"

"Something like that," Scully said nodding. How could she possibly explain all of this without sounding completely crazy. She still referred to her abduction as a kidnapping to keep up appearances.

"But now you're getting your memories back."

Scully nodded.

"What about Agent Mulder?"

"He doesn't remember...or refuses to. I'm not sure which."

"Without talking to him, I can't be sure either. What I can tell you is that if the memories come back to him suddenly, as yours did, it could be very dangerous. You're fully aware of how frightening your dreams are, but had your memories come back to you in a flashback, when you were conscious, it could have been much worse."

"Why wouldn't Mulder's memories come back to him in a dream as mine did?"

"They might. But there is a possibility they might not. Do you think you could convince him to talk with me about this?"

"I'm not sure. He's very angry about everything that's happened. I don't think he's in much a frame of mind to discuss anything. You really think he's in danger?"

Koseff nodded.

Scully lowered her head and pursed her lips. "I will talk with him and see if I can get anywhere." She stood to leave. "I'm sorry I barged in on you like this. I'll see you next week, Karen."


9:20 AM

Mulder sat against the wall for quite some time struggling to get himself under control. The sobbing continued until finally he just couldn't cry any longer. He wiped his eyes on his shirt sleeve and then rose from his position on the floor. He shook his legs to get the cramps out and then winced. His ankle was sore from kicking the trash can. He held his hand close to his body because it was extremely tender from being abused against the wall.

"Good," he said aloud, "I deserve the pain."

Just as he voiced that thought, the phone on his desk rang. He walked over to it and picked up the receiver, "Mulder," he sighed into it.

It was Skinner.

"Yes, sir. Yes, I can be there shortly. Right, fine." Mulder hung up, a quizzical look on his face. <That's odd.> Skinner had merely requested his presence. He hadn't said anything about the gun shots or Cancer Man. Mulder raised an eyebrow and ran a hand over his mouth. He reached down and smoothed his shirt front and brushed off his dress slacks. He adjusted his tie and then ran a hand through his hair.

"Christ I'd better go down to the can and see if there's any worse damage before I go up to see Skinner," he sighed. Mulder went back to his desk and picked up his suit coat. He surveyed the mess on the floor of the office as he shrugged the coat on. "I guess the cleanup job will have to wait until I get back," he mused, "it wouldn't do to keep the A.D. waiting."

Mulder set his shoulders and walked over to the office door. He glanced down at the knob and then pulled out his keys. "I'm locking this place up," he thought, "not that it will help to keep that Morley smoking freak out of here - but maybe it'll make us feel less violated if we know other prying eyes are keeping the hell out of our business." He twisted the keys in the lock and headed down to the men's restroom to finish his sartorial repair work.

"He's expecting you," Sharon Childes, Skinner's long suffering secretary, told Mulder as he approached her desk just outside Skinner's office.

"Am I going to need aspirin after this one, Sharon?" Mulder asked a weak grin on his face.

Sharon shrugged her shoulders, "Hard to say, Agent Mulder. He's been unusually quiet this morning. Just go right in."

"Oh, THAT'S comforting," Mulder thought with chagrin as he stepped forward and rapped on the door. He cringed a bit over his bruised and skinned knuckles.

"Come," a clipped voice replied from inside.

Mulder pulled open the door and went in to meet his fate.


"Agent Mulder," Skinner rumbled in way of a greeting from the chair behind his desk. He had been reading a memo but now he looked up into Mulder's face and inclined his head towards one of the chairs in front of his desk, "Sit down."

Mulder complied and remained silent. He had learned through experience with Skinner that it was best to let the A.D. open the conversation. Gauging his mood right off the top had saved his and Scully's neck on more than one occasion.

"Agent Mulder, I called you up here because I need to talk to you about Agent Scully," Skinner began tersely.

Mulder blinked. This was not what he had expected, "Agent Scully?" he replied confused.

"Yes, were you aware that she was seeing Karen Koseff?" he asked holding up the sheet of paper he had been reading, "This is a memo from Karen informing me that Agent Scully is seeking her counsel. It doesn't go into much detail, of course, that would violate Doctor patient confidentiality."

"Yes, I was aware Agent Scully was seeing Doctor Koseff," Mulder lied flatly.

"So..."

"So, what, sir?"

Skinner's eyes narrowed slightly, "Well, do you think Agent Scully's recent experiences, the loss of her daughter I mean...has the death been unduly hard on her, Agent Mulder?"

Mulder bristled slightly, "No, sir, Agent Scully's doing well. She seems to be coping. Her job performance is rock solid. She's been the consummate professional through this whole crisis. I think the time off helped her too, she.."

"Mulder, cut the crap," Skinner snapped.

"Sir?" Mulder replied his body becoming tense.

Skinner sighed and got up from behind his desk. He had the memo in his hands and he walked over and handed it to Mulder. Mulder read it. It didn't say very much except that Scully was in counseling voluntarily and that it was recommended that Agent Mulder continue to supervise her off duty time as a precaution against her falling into depression.

Mulder looked at the memo again. He wouldn't look up at Skinner.

"You've been staying with her?" Skinner asked in a low voice.

Mulder's heart lurched in his chest. "Oh God, what can I say?" he thought He was shocked Scully had even mentioned it to Koseff.

"Agent Mulder?" Skinner prompted again.

Mulder finally looked up and handed the memo back to Skinner, "Yes, sir, I've been doing just what the memo recommends, supervising my partner's off duty time in order to facilitate her recovery. I do, after all, have a degree in psychology, sir."

"I know your file, Agent Mulder," Skinner retorted brusquely. He turned around and walked back behind his desk. He placed the memo on it and then he turned, keeping his back away from Mulder. Skinner gazed out the window His hands came up and went into his pants pockets.

"Look, Fox," he began.

Mulder went on alert. He'd used his Christian name. Trouble was just a word away.

"Off the record, all right?"

"Off the record, sir?" Mulder hastened to ask, "Uh, sure," he hastened to agree.

"I think you should spend as much time with Agent Scully as possible," Skinner quietly stated.

"As much time as possible?" Mulder asked barely able to conceal the surprise in his voice.

"Yes. I think she needs your support as well as the support of all her friends and family right now. Losing a child is a very difficult thing, Mulder, very difficult."

"Yes, sir. To tell you the truth, Scully isn't really doing very well. She, she's been having nightmares, not eating properly, that sort of thing. I think my staying with her is probably a very good idea."

"Right, I suspected as much. Listen, I'm going to tell you something and I don't want it to go any farther then this office, understand?"

"Yes, sir."

"Scully is probably going through agony over her daughters death. Take my advice on it, Fox. I have a little experience in this area. I know what I'm talking about."

"Sir?"

Skinner sighed at Mulder's prompt reply, "When my wife and I were first married she had a miscarriage. It was fairly far along in the pregnancy and it was very traumatic for us both. My ex-wife was, well, she was never able to have children after the miscarriage. It's probably the one thing that started to drive a wedge through our marriage. I saw her suffer through it, Mulder. I think in her case the mental damage was worse than the physical damage could ever be."

Mulder looked at Skinner's tense back, "I'm sorry to hear that, sir. I...I appreciate you sharing this with me."

"Well, Fox, I'm sharing it with you because I want you to make sure that something like that doesn't happen to Dana Scully. Do you get my drift?" he asked at last turning to face Mulder. His face was set in stone so that Mulder couldn't read the underlying emotions that most likely haunted Skinner's mind 0 "I understand, sir," Mulder replied shaking his head in the affirmative.

"Good, because I wouldn't want to think Agent Scully was suffering like my wife did. I didn't manage that business well at all, Mulder. I don't want to see you make the same mistake. Scully is too good a woman, a human being, to not warrant all our support. And besides, I don't need to lose a damn fine agent because the friends around her didn't come to her aid in a time of crisis."

"I agree with you, sir, no question. I'll give her all the support she needs, sir."

"All right, fine."

"Is that all sir?" Mulder asked hope in his voice.

Skinner fixed him with a piercing stare and then he pulled his chair back out and sat down.

"No, Agent Mulder. I want to know what the hell was going on down in the basement this morning."

<Oh, oh, here it comes.> "You mean the gunshots sir?" he asked aloud.

"Yes, do you have an explanation, Mulder?"

Mulder stared back at Skinner, his face as unreadable as he could make it He studied Skinner's flinty eyes and then he came to a decision, "Are we still off the record, Sir?" he asked.

Skinner raised an eyebrow and put his hands out, palms up, in a gesture of acceptance.

Mulder let out his breath, "Well, sir. Scully and I had an unexpected visitor downstairs this morning. An unpleasant visitor. A certain Morley smoking whoremaster that you and I are both all too familiar with."

A flash of shock passed over Skinner's face. His jaw tensed with his emotion, "Cancer Man?" he hissed half in disbelief.

"In all his black-lunged glory," Mulder replied.

"How the hell..."

"Sir, I don't know, but he's back from the dead. He made some.. he made a cruel remark about Scully's daughter. He was down there really goading her, sir. I think he just did it to be sadistic, to fuck with her head."

"That prick," Skinner hissed with venom.

"Sir, Scully kind of lost it...she pulled her gun on him and when I came in she threw it on the floor, I think to avoid killing him. The gun discharged," Mulder finished.

"Oh. Well. Uh, I guess I can understand her reaction under the circumstances. Was there any damage?"

"Only to Scully's emotional well-being, Sir. One of the file cabinets has a minor ding in it. The bullet's probably in the wall somewhere."

"Fuck. You're damn lucky that stray round didn't hit you or Scully. It would have been no loss if it had found that Morley sucking turd, though."

Mulder shrugged his shoulders.

"All right, look, Mulder," Skinner began, fixing him with a serious glare, "I think it's about time we did something about this scumbag. I want you and Agent Scully to open an X-File on this power hungry pervert. I want you to get him dead to rights and then I want to hang him by his testicles Understand?"

"If he has any sir - I'll see to it that he swings by them from the top of the Washington Monument."

Skinner's mouth twitched into a tiny smile, "Good, I'm glad you get my drift again, Agent Mulder. Dismissed."


Monday, January 19
Approximately 10 AM

Mulder walked down to the basement office after having seen Skinner, his steps slow. He was somewhat buoyed by Skinners' order to open an X-File on Cancer Man. The A. D.'s tacit approval for Mulder to take whatever means necessary to deal with the black-hearted monster cheered him just a bit But he was still half in shock from the mornings events. He couldn't believe that bastard had been in their office. And he certainly couldn't believe what Scully had told him the prick had said.

<I heard him too, though, the sick fuck. Jesus! Took my sperm? Used it to, to...My God, that's too much.> It had to be a lie. He was just sticking it to Scully, to them both. <Of course he'd tell her something like that to make her hate herself, and blame herself for not protecting me as well. It would have been just like the overweening shit to throw a lie like that up at her.> The Smoker probably had to stick the knife in and twist it because he regretted giving Mulder the second implant that sent the cancer into remission and spared Scully's life. He was just enough of a sick dickhead to regret that slip of his conscious.

Mulder reached the closed office door. Scully wasn't back yet. He sighed, took out his keys, and opened the door. The damage from his outburst still faced him all over the room. He stared at the disarray and a vision of Scully pummeling the prostrate form of their mutual nemesis came instantly to mind.

"I should have shot that rat bastard right between the eyes," Mulder hissed through clenched teeth.

But how could he possibly trust what the bastard had said? And how could Scully have trusted it? She had to realize it was a lie. A fabrication to hurt her, to possibly drive a wedge between them, to ruin their work, a route to their ultimate destruction and the dissolution of the X-Files That was the truth. The nicotine soaked son of a bitch would lie, cheat, steal and murder to accomplish that goal. He had done it before and he would do it again and again.

Mulder began to walk around the office, picking up the trash can first and then the other objects he had thrown from his desk. He bent and lifted his lamp from the floor. The bulb was shattered and there was broken glass underneath where it had come to rest. He began to pick up the shards. His fingers slipped and he cut his thumb, the blood welled up in the sliced flesh.

"Fuck, par for the course," he cursed, taking his handkerchief out of his pocket to staunch the red flow. He finished clearing up the glass. When he was done he swabbed at his thumb a bit more and then he placed his desks contents back in a semblance of order. Finally he sat down behind the desk He rocked back in his chair and stared off into space. He glanced at the slight indentation where his fist had impacted against the wall.

<God, I should have broken my hand against the wall. It would have hurt me a lot less than I just hurt Scully. How could I have yelled at her that way? I grabbed her by the arm and...God that had been cruel.> He hadn't trusted her. He hadn't believed her. She had struggled to believe him so many times in the past. Now, when push came to shove he had shouted his disbelief right into her tear stained face. Even though he didn't trust what the cigarette smoking man had told her he could have handled it all a hell of a lot better than he did. <You blew it dickwad. She put her faith and trust in me, expected me to support her in this as well and I threw that trust back in her face.>

"What a friend I am," he thought dismally. "Could this be any further from what Skinner had meant by support for Scully? She should shoot me again - some support I offered her," he cursed himself, "maybe Skinner should hang ME up by MY balls." He put his cut thumb up to his mouth and sucked on the blood that still oozed from it.

But he couldn't tell her he thought it was true when he knew it was a lie That wouldn't have been fair either. It was an obvious cruel lie, a horrible, perverted lie from a man who would more than likely murder his own mother and then light up a fucking Morley over her cold, dead body.

But Mulder furrowed his brow then because a niggling thought passed across his mind, a very disturbing thought, <If it was a lie though, what made Scully so positive it was the truth? And if she was remembering, what did she know about her abduction that she hadn't told him? And why didn't she trust him enough to tell him, tell him what? - The real truth?>

"Mulder?" a tentative voice from the doorway interrupted his depressing reverie.

Mulder jumped slightly, "Scully, are, are you all right? Where did you go?" he asked looking at her.

"I went to see Karen Koseff," Scully replied quietly. She crossed over to his desk and stood in front of it looking down into his face. "He looks haunted," Scully thought, worry creased her forehead. <God, if Karen's right, I have to convince him about the dreams. He's got to know especially if remembering his role in the child's creation could be dangerous for him.>

"Karen? Why did you drag Karen into this?" Mulder replied, strain in his voice.

"Why bring an outsider into our affairs," he thought in annoyance. In the back of his mind he thought, "Mulder, go slow, reign in, you're going to blow it again," but for some formless reason he felt anger growing in his chest. His last questions, <If it's a lie, what made Scully so positive it was the truth? and why didn't she trust him?> came back to him instantly.

"I'm not dragging her into anything, Mulder, I had to talk to someone, someone who would help me work through what just happened. I need help to work through what I believe is the truth regarding my abduction."

"And I wasn't a good choice to help you examine that truth?" Mulder asked, his eyes hooded.

"Mulder, obviously not. Your actions and words were proof enough that you don't believe me," Scully sighed.

Mulder set iron control into his voice and tried once more to convince Scully of the heinous lie she had just heard, "Scully, it's not that I don't believe you. I trust you, you know that. I just don't believe that low life piece of pond scum that was floating around in here earlier, that's all. I know you were abducted I mean, that much is obvious for God's sake. But as for the rest of it - Scully I saw your ova. I was told all about the procedure for harvesting them. You know that - you were angry with me because I didn't tell you I knew about it.

Emily was a product of those stolen ova and alien DNA - an alien human hybrid. And don't forget, the DNA testing confirmed she was your child, she looked just like your sister for Christ's sake. She wasn't, she couldn't have been our child. Can't you see?"

"All that proves is she looked like my side of the family, Mulder! That says nothing about who her father was."

Mulder pretended to ignore her remark. "The Cancer Man is the master of misinformation. He'll tell you any lie to confuse you, to hurt you, to destroy everything we..."

"But I believed him, Mulder."

Mulder stopped dead in his recitation of the facts as he saw them. He looked into Scully's eyes and saw the total futility of continuing to convince her. He knew that look in her eyes. She had made up her mind. She did believe, and nothing he said was going to sway her. His heart sank and the anger rose up completely into his chest to replace it.

"Fine," Mulder grated, looking away from her. He began to suck on his cut finger again.

Scully noticed the blood and she walked around the side of his desk. She reached for his hand and took it in hers. She examined his thumb.

"Glass from the lamp's light bulb," he said coldly giving her no explanation of his earlier outburst. He pulled his hand away. She stared longer, noticing the skinned knuckles as well.

"Mulder, please, listen, all right. I have to tell you what I think is going on. You have to listen because it may be vital that you do," Scully whispered urgently. Mulder still wouldn't look at her.

"Mulder, damn it, look at me," she snapped. Mulder swiveled his chair around abruptly and Scully had to jump back quickly before his legs knocked her down.

"All right, Scully, I'm listening, tell me all about why you think that black suited bastard could possibly be telling the truth," he hissed into her startled eyes.

She tried to recover her composure. She didn't know what to do with her hands or her body. She wanted to touch him, to reestablish their earlier close connection, to explain to him gently why she thought he needed to believe. It was for his own safety. But instead she began to become annoyed at the look of anger in his face, and the tone of his voice. She turned and walked back over to her side of the room putting physical distance between them to match the philosophical distance she suddenly felt.

Mulder crossed his arms over his chest and sat waiting. Scully walked over to her desk and sat down. She rubbed her eyes and began to speak as calmly as she could. There was a quaver in her voice and she cursed herself for the sound of it.

Mulder watched her walk back to her desk. His entire body was telling him to believe her, to go to her, to comfort her. But his mind was saying something all together different. He was beginning to think that Scully had been keeping part of the story back from him, withholding a vital piece of what had been going on in her head. She'd been hiding her innermost thoughts and fears from him all the while he had been trying to help her <while he was kissing...holding her...loving her...>. And if he was right in this assumption then the betrayal of his trust, of their trust was almost too much to bear.

Scully was talking and she looked down at her hands as Mulder stared at her, "Mulder, I've been having a recurring dream since we got back from San Diego. I've had it so often I'm almost afraid to fall asleep at night. In this dream I've seen Emily. But along with Emily I've also seen another little girl. The two of them are always together. Sometimes they're playing and sometimes they're just sitting or standing in front of me, hand in hand."

She glanced up towards Mulder. He was still staring, his face impassive, almost mask-like. Scully had seen this control in him before and it's blankness frightened her. She looked down again and plunged on, however, wanting to get it all off her chest. "The other little girl is dark, Mulder, as dark as Emily was fair. She, she has brown curls and your beautiful hazel eyes. She looks a lot like you Mulder, but mostly she looks - well, she looks a lot like a cross between Emily, me and your sister, Samantha."

There was a creaking of the chair across the room. She looked up again and Mulder was rocking slightly back and forth.

"Is that all?" he asked flatly.

"No, it's not all. I kept having that dream and then last night, when I kissed you," she said in a small voice, "I dreamt about Duane Barry and my abduction. Mulder, I swear to God, that what I said, what the smoking man said is true. I'm remembering. They took my ova and then they used your harvested sperm to make a child, our child, maybe children and..." she let her voice trail off because Mulder was on his feet.

"You swear to God? What a hypocrite you are!" he yelled. Mulder pulled the cross out of his shirt and stretched it out full length on it's chain Here's your God, Scully! You've given your faith to me remember? And now I see that you don't even have enough faith to trust me with anything, do you?"

"Mulder, I..."

"You what? You've been going through all this for weeks and you haven't trusted me enough to let me help you through it? I mean if you were so positive it was the truth couldn't you have at least given me a chance to believe you? After last night, when we, when...when I held you in my arms - Oh, shit - you just couldn't let me in could you? Or was that kiss some kind of distraction, so I wouldn't catch on that you were dying inside?" Mulder had crossed the room and stood in front of her desk now, towering in his rage. His neck muscles convulsed and he was struggling for control.

Scully was gasping in horror at his words, "What have I done?" she thought She tried to salvage the situation, tears were springing into her eyes again.

"Mulder, I wasn't really positive. It was all so disjointed. I wasn't positive until today, when the smoking man..."

"Oh, that's wonderful Scully. You weren't positive until that God damned, fucking Prince of Lies came down here to validate all this crap for you? Are you serious?" he laughed bitterly.

Scully's face turned red. Now she was totally angry as well. She stood up at her desk and balled her fists, "Yes, I'm serious!" she shouted, "And you'd better get serious too, because if you don't take me seriously it may kill us both."

"What?" he asked in amazement, "What the hell do you mean by that remark?"

"Karen said that you more than likely have a repressed memory regarding the, the sperm harvesting. She said she wants to talk to you about it right away because if you start to remember suddenly without some guidance it could be very dangerous, even deadly for you," she sputtered. And then she looked down again and said very quietly, "And if anything happened to you, Mulder, if you died...I'd..."

"Fuck this!" Mulder swore, "You and Karen Koseff can go to hell. Tell Karen I don't need her help to believe a lie. I'm obviously quite capable of doing that all on my own." Mulder tried to lower his voice but didn't quite succeed, "Look, Scully, this conversation isn't doing either of us any good. I...I'm going home all right? If you want any more of my HELP, you have my cell phone number," he finished sarcastically and then he turned on his heel, went back to his desk for his coat, and left the basement office.

Scully watched his receding back, tears streaming down her face.


Scully slumped onto her office chair. She dropped her face into her hands and sobbed. "Bastard!" she cried to the empty room. She was scared and angry and depressed. She had feared Mulder would react badly, but not this badly. She felt helpless.

She was shocked. He'd actually called her a hypocrite. <That's what you are isn't it, Dana? You swore to a God you claim to no longer believe it. Or have you taken to believing in him when it serves you now?> Hot tears burned her cheeks. She knew Mulder had said the words in anger, but it still hurt. She supposed he had a right to be angry with her. She had been withholding information from him, but what could she tell him? She was having these crazy dreams she couldn't make sense of?

"What can I do?" she wondered. He refused to believe anything she said. His famous paranoia was leading him into danger and not away from it. The fact would be ironic if it didn't happen to him all the time. He launched himself off and she had to go diving in after him. But she was so weak and so tired. Every part of her body felt so drained. And in this weak and drained state she was now supposed to rush off and come to his rescue again. She fought the bitterness, but the anger just came out.

"Fuck you, Mulder. Fuck you for doing this to me...to us."

All of this was too much. It was bad enough she hadn't had a decent night's sleep, then she has a physical confrontation with the black-lunged bastard and now she'd just argued with Mulder. "What next?" she asked what she thought was an empty room.

"Agent Scully?"

She whirled around in her chair to see Karen Koseff standing in the doorway. She was glad it was dark enough in the office that Koseff wouldn't really be able to see her face. She grabbed a tissue from her desk and blotted her eyes. She quickly stuffed the tissue into her pocket and turned around.

"Dr. Koseff?"

"Yes Dana. The more I thought about our conversation I decided you might need some help convincing Agent Mulder to talk to me. I came down to talk with him."

"Oh," Scully replied, the defeat evident in her voice. "He left. You're right though, he refuses to believe me. I'm not sure what I'm going to do now."

Koseff crossed the room and stood before Scully's desk. The light from the doorway illuminated the doctor's features and Scully could see the worry playing across her face.

"Agent Scully, Agent Mulder could be suffering from a fugue. Are you familiar with the phenomena?"

"You mean he appears to be aware of what he's doing but really isn't?"

"He may have repressed the memory of what happened to him, he went in the fugue when the harvest took place, but now he's not remembering...just like with your own experiences. Yours came back to you in dreams but they could have just as easily come back to you in a flashback...that would be far more dangerous."

"You said that before about a flashback being dangerous. Just what do you mean, Karen?" Scully asked.

"Well, let me try to explain further, Dana," Karen replied clearing her throat slightly, "Agent Mulder has repressed things before, the abduction of his sister for one. I know he under went hypno-regression therapy to regain the memories, but that was because he wanted too.

>>From what you've told me, he doesn't want to remember this. But the amount of stress he's under could cause it to come back violently. If he has a violent flashback he could injure himself severely. For example, if he fell he might severe an artery and bleed to death. I've even known of instances where the individual vomitted during the flasback and choked to death. Some fugue victims just disappear. Given Agent Mulder's profile, I fear he's at high risk for such behavior."

"How do you know all this?" Scully asked rigidly.

"Agent Scully, I am the psychologist for the VCS and you and Agent Mulder are, for administrative purposes, tacked on to that unit. I have access to everyone in the department's profiles. You should know that. I wouldn't even be discussing this with you if I didn't think Agent Mulder was in danger."

Scully nodded. She dimly wondered if she was becoming as paranoid as Mulder. She was immediately not trusting Koseff, even though the doctor had given Scully no reason to mistrust her. The words, "Trust no one," rumbled through her head and she frowned. But she WAS worried about Mulder and she could sense Koseff was genuinely worried as well. She sighed heavily.

"Dr. Koseff...Karen. Thank you for coming down here. I appreciate what you were trying to do, but Mulder doesn't trust...well he rarely trusts anyone or anything. I understand what you're saying about the danger he's in but I think I may be the only person who can reach him and I'm even doubting that at the moment. What do I need to do to help him through this?"

"You won't get anywhere until he's able to accept the fact something has happened to him. But in the meantime, if he's as hostile about this as you say he is, you need to keep an eye on him. If he should start to have a flashback, you need to talk to him as calmly as possible. Don't endanger yourself, if he becomes violent you may have to sedate him but try to avoid that. Try to talk him down, make him comfortable. Then once he's through it, try to convince him he needs to see a counselor. No one should go through a repressed memory like that without the benefit of a counselor."

"I'll see what I can do."

Koseff nodded, "Good luck." She walked out of the office, leaving Scully in the dark. Scully stood and paced about the office. She had to gather her thoughts. She'd really bungled things with Mulder earlier. Why was it they could be so in sync with some things yet completely on different planets about others? She shuddered as she thought about how angry he'd been.

She looked to the floor and saw a few shards of glass from the broken light bulb, then she noticed the dent in the wall and the one in the trash can He'd had a violent outburst in her absence. She remembered his cut thumb Koseff was right, Mulder was in danger.

His violent refusal to listen to anything she said bothered her too, and even before that, he'd been so angry with her after her confrontation with the Cancer Man. Why?

As she replayed their argument in her head something occurred to her.

"Tell Karen I don't need her help to believe a lie. I'm obviously quite capable of doing that all on my own."

Mulder's words filled her head. They'd been said in anger but her logical mind, the side of her that always heard things Mulder didn't, caught the thread. He'd slipped. In his mind he'd meant something else, but the true meaning of those words was that he knew. Deep down, he knew what had happened to him. He was simply refusing to believe it. She couldn't be sure why, however.

She grabbed her purse and jacket and walked out the door, taking care to lock it on her way out. She stopped in the ladies room to clean her face up a bit. She took a deep breath and pushed on. She had no idea where Mulder was going. But the idea of Mulder some how injuring himself was far too frightening for her to fathom. She had to find him.

Scully pulled her cell phone from her purse and dialed his number, after ten rings she hung up in disgust. She made her way to the parking lot and noted that his car was still there. She walked over and looked inside, but it was obvious he'd not been to the vehicle since he'd parked it this morning.


11:15 AM
Metro Blue Line Train Towards King St.

Mulder screwed his eyes shut and let the rhythmic clacking beneath him drown out his thoughts. At least the darkness inside the subway mirrored those thoughts. His hands were shaking badly and he balled them into fists at his sides. He was thankful there were few people on the train with him.

He had practically sprinted to the subway station to get away from the office, get away from Scully and everything else that was tormenting him He decided to take the train because he was too upset to drive. He was a little surprised he even had the presence of mind to take such a precaution.

He absent mindedly bit down on his lip. A metallic taste touched his tongue and he realized he'd bitten his lip open. Anger, he had to forget about that. "You have to calm down, Mulder," he told himself quietly.

The train whirred on and Mulder stared out its window into the blackness He wished it would envelop him so he wouldn't hurt anymore. Perhaps it already had. He replayed the whole ugly scene with Scully over in his head He cursed himself, "How is it you manage to fuck everything up, Mulder."

His invective brought a harsh stare from an elderly woman sitting a few seats away from him. The train broke out of the tunnel and made its way onto the above ground tracks. Mulder squinted in the light as an idea began to form in his head.

He left the train at the King Street station in Alexandria. He didn't have far to walk home, but he decided to wander the streets of Old Town awhile His brain had begun to work on something and he wanted to wander and let it fester awhile longer.


4:45 PM
Dana Scully Residence

"FUCK! Where are you?"

Scully violently pushed the cancel button on her cell phone. She was decidely unhappy Mulder had managed to forget to turn his phone on. She dialed his home phone and got no answer as well. She'd been looking all over for him the entire afternoon.

She'd been to dozens of his favorite places in the District and even visted the Lone Gunmen. They were genuinely concerned and so Scully was convinced they weren't hiding him from her. She'd even stopped by his apartment a little over an hour ago and he wasn't there.

Scully scrubbed her face with her hands and got up off her couch. She paced back in forth in front of it trying to figure out where he might have gone She picked up the phone and dialed Dr. Werber's office but his machine announced the office was closed for the week. "Nice work if you can get it," Scully muttered sarcastically.

She tossed her cell phone back into her purse and picked up her keys again She checked her answering machine once more before leaving. The red indicator light wasn't blinking, no messages. She sighed heavily and walked out the door.

Her sturdy gait carried her swiftly to her car as she decided to take another stab at Mulder's apartment.


Monday, January 19
6 PM - Fox Mulder's Apartment

Mulder paced the dark apartment like a caged leopard. His mind was in complete and utter turmoil. He cursed the world, he cursed the X-Files, he cursed Cancer Man, he even cursed Scully. But at the end, he cursed only himself for everything that had occurred earlier in the day.

He was close to tears again and he knew that he was close to going over the edge into something even worse than a case of the waterworks. He was near a descent into madness and he almost welcomed it. "If I'm committed to the nut hatch at least I can't hurt her again," he screamed inwardly at his actions with Scully that afternoon.

<But why had she done it? Why didn't she trust me. I love her, I...> But of course she didn't know about his love and she didn't share the feelings anyway. He tried to push it all out of his mind but as he pushed his feelings aside another horrid thought sprung up to take their place.

"What if Scully had been right?" Mulder thought. He knew he still had so many repressed memories regarding his sister Samantha. Dr. Werber's regression had only scratched the surface of the truth behind her abduction. Mulder would do almost anything to find out more about Samantha He had even gone so far as to have a *mad scientist* pump him full of hallucinogens and then drill a hole in his skull to *release his demons*.

"Why wouldn't Scully be right? What if Cancer Man had been telling the truth? It would be just like that creep to admit a fact thinking I'd believe it a lie," he thought. "Wouldn't that be fun for him? He'd get endless pleasure watching Scully and me inflict damage on each other like we so obligingly did this afternoon. He'd get off on watching us suffer," he railed silently, <Why couldn't I have another suppressed memory. Oh, God, what if she was right? What have I done to her if she was...Oh Jesus!> he began to cry again, weakly and pathetically.

He sat down miserably on his couch. <I have to get a grip, here. I have to come up with a plan to get at the truth...I...> He stopped his mental harangue instantly as his eyes were drawn to the top of his TV set. There was video tape resting there and the Title caught his eye. The tape was *Spellbound* a film by Alfred Hitchcock. The idea that had been circulating in his head all day finally took form. He gently fingered Scully's cross on it's chain around his neck.


7 PM - Outside Fox Mulder's Apartment

Dana Scully dashed up the hall towards Mulder's apartment door in a panic She had tried to call him again several times on his cell phone but there had been no answer. She even tried his home phone number again. There had been no answer there either. His answering machine had been turned off as well.

Scully pulled out her key ring and groped for the one that was Mulder's as she quickened her pace. She skidded to a halt in front of his door and plunged the key into the knob, twisting it the wrong way at first in her haste. Just as she felt the lock disengage she heard a low moan come from behind the door. Her eyes grew wide and she slammed the key into the dead bolt lock simultaneously snatching her gun from it's holster on her hip.

She stepped back and cautiously pushed the door open. It was dark inside but she stepped in, weapon up and ready, and shut the door.

"Mulder?" she whispered hoarsely, squinting into the apartment. There seemed to be one tiny lamp on near Mulder's couch. She could just make out his legs stretched out ahead of his body. He was sitting on the couch Another low moan came from that direction. All the hair on the back of Scully's neck stood on end.

"I see the conning tower, Oh Jesus, it is a sub!" he whispered in wonder, and then "Oh God, it's so cccccold," Mulder groaned. Scully tip toed forward. A quick sweep of the apartment told her what she all ready instinctively knew - no one was there but the two of them. She holstered her weapon. She walked over to Mulder's seated form, her mouth open slightly to speak. But what she saw stopped her voice dead in her throat.

Mulder was seated on the far end of the couch, the one nearest his desk by the window. The small lamp that usually sat on his desk was set before him, an extension cord running to the socket under the desk. That lamp illuminated his legs and cast eerie shadows over his face. Mulder's head was thrown back against the back of the couch. His mouth was open, he was breathing heavily and his eyes were closed.

Mulder was still dressed in his slacks from work, but he was barefoot, and wearing only his t-shirt. His legs were outstretched ahead of him and his hands rested on his thighs. He cupped Scully's cross in his hands, as if he'd been holding it out into the pool of light from the lamp which sat before him on the coffee table.

Scully drew close and quietly sat down on the edge of the couch farthest from him. She spotted Mulder's pocket tape recorder on the couch cushions The recorder was nestled close to Mulder's thigh. She could just see the mini tape inside. It was gently spinning, mechanically recording Mulder's every word. "Oh my God," she thought, "What is he doing? What has he done?"

"Oh Jesus," Mulder whispered suddenly and his body jerked.

"Mulder, what is it?" Scully asked quietly. She decided immediately to try Karen's advice. She would talk to him in a calm voice. She'd try to help him, to bring him gradually out of whatever hell he was in.

<Whatever hell he had put himself in,> she suddenly realized. "How could he be so stupid," she thought, "he's trying to regress himself, or he's done self-hypnosis or, shit, Karen never thought of this I bet...My God why?" she cried mentally, "Why? - for me, that's why," jolted into her mind.

"It, it's not, he's not who he said he was, he's, Mother of God, he's changing, morphing.." Mulder's voice shook.

"Mulder, who's changing, into what?"

"The assassin, he's hereeeee," Mulder cried out, twisting on the couch as if to escape. Scully wanted to touch him but she didn't dare. She was afraid that if she woke him suddenly it would make it worse, maybe kill him.

"Get away from me you fuck, OH God, he's he's got that thing, that mechanical thing, the weapon - that pig sticker!" he groaned. His entire body bucked up off the couch. He dropped the cross onto the floor.

"You tell me you motherfucker! Tell me where she is, where is my sister? You God damned alien son of a bitch - Don't leave me here to wonder for the rest of my life. Please, have mercy on me, have...! TELL ME OR KILL ME, TELL ME OR KILL ME, TELL..." his voice was cut off abruptly and his body fell back on the couch with a thwack.

Scully's hands went up to her mouth to stifle a scream. She couldn't lose it now though, she thought, she had to keep her head. She leaned forward slightly and spoke as gently as she could.

"Mulder, it's all right, you, they got you to the hospital at the base You're going to be fine."

"Sculleeee?" his voice moaned again. "I, I was so cold and it was ddddark," he stuttered pathetically. His arms came up around his chest and he rubbed them as if he were cold. Then he snapped over convulsively, "Oh, God, I feel sick," he made retching noises but they were over as quickly as they started. He straightened back up, resting his head once again on the back of the couch. Then, a different look came over his face. The expressions of confusion and horror that had been there up to that point were gone. In their place was an expression of utter happiness, of total peace.

"Sculleee, God, I, it's so good to see you. I thought I'd never see you again. Yeah, I, I didn't think I was going to make it...Wwwhat? Jesus, you what? Scully, I, I never thought...Oh, Scully..," he said in a quiet voice tinged with awe and passion.

Scully watched Mulder closely and a feeling of dread crossed her heart. She studied his face and as she watched, his eyes snapped open, and although they were open she knew he wasn't seeing the apartment around him. Mulder's glazed eyes were turned inward, and he was having a blissful, very personal vision all his own.

"Scully, I...I don't know what to say," he whispered holding his hand up slightly. "I...yes, for years, I've loved you too - for years..." his breath came out in a shuddering gasp. His lips formed a wide, wonderful smile.

Scully bent her head down and looked at her hands. They were shaking. <God, I should wake him up, I should...> She felt guilt wash over her for hearing this. Guilt and confusion. Why was he seeing this? Her eyes flicked up to his and she moved a hand to shake him but then stopped. He was beautiful in that moment and she couldn't move or take her eyes away.

"Oh, God, Scully, yes! I...please, I want, OH GOD..." he groaned in his throat, and then the hands that had held her cross only moments earlier tentatively touched his crotch. Mulder started to move his hips slightly in an unmistakable rhythm, "Oh Scully, Oh Jesus. Dana. Oh God, I love you," he cried out as he stroked his hardening penis through his slacks.

Scully was aghast. She stared in dawning disgust and outrage at what her partner was being made to do, and the entire proof of everything she believed came crashing down on her head all at once. <That bastard, that God forsaken, smoking son of a bitch, I'll kill him next time, I'll...>

Mulder's moans of pleasure stopped suddenly. He removed his hands from his crotch. He raised one hand up and passed it over his eyes. The other hand flexed and spasmed on his stomach. "Scully?" he asked, fear returning to his voice, "Whattttt, no, you're not, Oh Jesus, where's Scully? What, what..." he voice was rising and he started to thrash about again. His arms flailed out and down. He knocked the pocket tape recorder to the floor. It smashed into several pieces. Tape unreeled from the cassette Mulder howled in absolute terror.

"YOU'RE NOT SCULLY!"

Scully jumped forward instantly and grabbed his arm. "Mulder, come back, wake up, it IS me, it IS me," she yelled.

His whole face convulsed in anguish and then he screamed out one last time as he focused on her face, "IT'S NOT YOU, IT'S MARITA!"


Monday, January 19
Approximately 9 PM - Fox Mulder's Apartment

Scully sat at the end of the couch and held Mulder's head in her lap. She stroked his hair. Mulder was curled up in a fetal position.

"Mulder, I...I still can't believe you tried this stunt. For God's sake, you could have died on this couch."

Mulder sighed, replying in a muffled voice, "Scully, I just had to know, all right? I got back here and I started thinking about the utter shithead I had been earlier and well, fuck it, I thought maybe your version of things was true. I owed it to you to try to explore the possibility that I did have a repressed memory."

"But self hypnosis - using my cross and that lamp - God, that was so dangerous."

"Yeah, well it worked for Gregory Peck," he grinned weakly, gesturing with his head towards the video tape on top of the TV. His head rubbed lightly across Scully's legs. She liked the sensation.

"Well, Mulder, Gregory Peck had Ingrid Bergman to help him you..."

"I had you Scully," he whispered, a note of appreciation tinged with compassion in his voice. He sat up and looked her in the eyes. Scully cringed slightly at the double entendre in his words.

Mulder misinterpreted her cringe, "Scully I'm so sorry for the way I acted earlier. I, I don't know why I said those things. Maybe I have been living in some kind of fugue state for a long time, just like Karen Kosseff's theory. Can you forgive me?" The last was said in a very small voice as Mulder searched her face, his eyes incredibly sad.

"Mulder, there's nothing to forgive. I...I know you didn't mean what you said in the office. And anyway, the important thing is, you remember now and so do I."

"Scully, what did I say?" Mulder asked suddenly, "You're going to have to help me out here. With no tape of this, this thing - I'm stuck. I mean you've explained what Karen said might happen, and how you found me. But what exactly did I say? I know I told you I remembered some of the incident. I remember the bounty hunter and the sub, of course. That shit happened before I got sick with the retrovirus. I can remember a lot of the stuff in the hospital, now as well - especially the fact that it was Marita Covarrubias standing there with a vile of my semen. But, I can't, I mean how the hell did she get the sample?"

Scully looked at him and then she looked away and down. She spotted her cross on the floor next to the couch. Neither one of them had thought to pick it up. She leaned over, grabbing the glinting chain. Scully brought the cross back up and unclasped the chain. She gently lifted it over Mulder's head and placed it onto his neck again. She had to bend forward to reclasp the chain. Mulder's face was very close. She looked into his eyes She released the chain and touched his cheek.

Mulder still studied her face, his mouth was partially open as if he was going to ask her the same question again. Scully shifted away and dropped her hands. She placed both hands in her lap, and then she started to offer up yet another lie to her trusted friend, the man who was obviously deeply in love with her.

"Mulder, you didn't really elaborate on that point. I wish I had been more watchful - more observant. I still feel I could have prevented what she did if I'd protected you better."

"Scully, don't sweat it all right, that woman is obviously capable of anything. I just can't really remember what she..."

"Mulder, I'm assuming from some of your actions that she went about it the way someone, even a man himself, would normally obtain a semen sample for let's say artificial insemination or for frozen semen donation."

"You mean she jerked me off?"

"Yes, that about sums it up," Scully looked over at him wincing slightly.

"Crap," he hissed.

She gestured with her hand in an aimless way. She felt guilt over the lie, but it was close enough to the truth to not hurt too much. She thought the truth would have hurt him a hell of a lot more.

"Well, I guess that's something Ingrid Bergman wouldn't have thought of doing for Gregory Peck, hey Scully?" he grinned at her slightly, trying to make light of the situation.

Scully allowed a small smile to cross her lips. It was so typical of him, she thought. Here he is having just lived through one of the most harrowing experiences of his life and he was trying to make her smile. Her heart nearly broke. She reached around and took one of his hands. He gripped hers tightly.

"Mulder, what are we going to do now?" she asked in a move to change the subject away from what she was starting to feel for him again.

"I...I think we need to explore the possibility now that you have, that we may have a child somewhere out there." Mulder's voice suddenly caught in his throat. He continued on even more quietly because another horrible thought had entered his mind, "Damn it, we may have had a child all ready What if Emily was our daugther as well, Scully? Oh, God, I shouldn't have...I didn't mean to...Oh, Scully, please I'm sorry..."

"It's all right, Mulder," Scully replied, fatigue making her voice crack She reached over and brushed the hair out of Mulder's eyes, "That's something we'll just have to face if it's true. We'll just have to cope with the memories..."

"Well, we have to get to the final truth behind those memories, no matter what that may be, Scully."

Scully sighed and patted him on the knee, "Mulder, I think we need to have a long talk with Marita Covarrubias."

Mulder's jaw muscles jumped, "Scully, I think we need to pay a visit to both that cigarette smoking bastard AND his blond *blow me* bombshell and wring their necks until they give us some answers."


Later That Evening

JOURNAL OF DANA K. SCULLY

Redemption. According to Webster the word means "the act, process, or an instance of redeeming. Redeem means, among other things, "to release from blame or debt; to free from consequences or sin."

In a sense I feel redemption tonight. The argument between Mulder and I has passed and we seem to have weathered the storm with our trust intact. Yet, with that danger passed, we are faced with much more tonight.

I came here expecting to find Mulder in the violent throes of a fugue state and instead found he'd taken the initiative himself. He plunged headlong into danger only because the truth had gone there first. I feel redemption in the sense I got here in time, to watch over him and I suppose to pull him back after I so deftly pushed him away.

I pushed him away and yet I heard those words fall from his lips. I know he meant them. A small part of me fears what it means to be loved by Fox Mulder. All of the passion and intensity those kind of feelings bring from someone who is already so passionate and intense. The very thought is staggering. But another part of me is joyous. He returns the feelings I hide, the feelings we both hide. It isn't fair, I should tell him but I am so afraid, especially now.

Now is definitely not a good time. So much lies ahead of us at this moment I need him to not know I love him too. Well, he already knows but he thinks it's a friendship kind of love. I fear he will be even more overly protective than he already is if he knows I share his feelings. We need to be focused on the task at hand now, not these dangerous feelings.

We'll have enough danger to contend with. Mulder told me Skinner has cleared us to go after the Cancer Man. I look forward to the challenge but I fear it as well. I know full well what the black-lunged bastard is capable of. I know this will not be easy. But my anger far outweighs any worries over difficulty.

I'm anxious to see Marita Covarrubias as well. It will take a lot for me not to shoot her on sight. I'd really love to know how she pulled off that little stunt. The very idea of her touching Mulder, let alone leading him to think she was me makes my blood boil. I'm left wondering if she too is a shapeshifter, another of the bounty hunters. She could have easily shifted to look like me...but I've never even seen this woman. Of course, I'm not so foolish to think that doesn't mean she hasn't seen me.

I'm asking myself a million questions tonight. One of which is why us? Why did they choose us for whatever experiment this was? Just to torture us. Is this yet another tool to manipulate us? Or were we just handy? Both? I cannot be certain but I intend to find out.

Mulder is twisting in his sleep on the sofa, but his face remains peaceful He was so drained he drifted off mid-sentence awhile ago. I promised him I'd stay with him tonight. Neither of us wants to be alone. Neither of us should be alone. I'm surprised I can even admit that about myself. I'm learning a lot about myself these days.

I watched Mulder sleep for a long time. It's funny in a way. I know when he was staying with me he'd slip in and watch me sleep. He thinks I didn't know. But I've become such a light sleeper of late I'd often wake and see him standing in my doorway. I imagine he thinksit makes me mad, but it didn't. I actually felt safe and found it easier to go back to sleep knowing he was there.

Which leads me to further dangerous thoughts. I've begun to wonder what it would be like to wake up next to him; how much safer would that feel? Then tonight, I heard the sound of my name on his lips in ecstasy. How many times have I fantasized about that? Far too many times for my Catholic upbringing to be comfortable with.

Maybe I shouldn't be, after all we may have had a child together. Emily. I only wish she weren't some cruel experiment, that this child, hell OUR child, was the result of our love for one another. Instead she was the result of some terrible research and born of a test tube and trickery and not of my body.

I also felt an immense sense of guilt for not telling him what that woman did to him. But I was afraid. He was already hurting so much. I want him to feel his secret is safe, if not with Marita, with me. I'll hold onto that information like a treasure until it's right to share it with him. I have to eventually, it's not right not too. But now we need our strength and I have to be strong for Mulder and I have to keep him strong.

But tonight there it was. I caught a glimpse of what it would be for him to lose himself in me. As horrible as it felt to see him go through that under false pretenses, I felt myself want it. I do want it, God that's so hard for me to admit. I want to surrender myself to him the way I heard him surrender himself to me. A fire ignited some where inside me in that perverse moment and I can't seem to extinguish it.

Tonight I contented myself to stroke his hair and hold his hand as he drifted into blissful sleep. He remains there now. I wish I could join him, but I remain on the watch. I can't let anything else happen. We've already had too much taken from us and it's time we did some taking back. I'll close now and allow myself a little sleep. No one is coming through Mulder's door tonight without me hearing it. I'll stay here, mere inches from him, and if they come after him again they'll have to do it over my dead body.


Tuesday, January 20
Fox Mulder's Apartment 6 A.M.

Scully woke with a start bent uncomfortably over Mulder's desk. A yellow legal pad had been her pillow the night before. She lifted her head up gingerly and she felt every stiff muscle in her body complaining as she made them work. She groaned lightly and stretched. Checking her watch she realized she needed to make the long drive back to Annapolis in a hurry if she was going to even attempt to make it to the office on time.

She rubbed her eyes wearily. She was so tired her eyes were having difficulty focusing. She half saw the legal pad on Mulder's desk. It dawned on her she shouldn't leave her musings from the previous evening where Mulder could find them. She wanted him to know those things she wrote, but she wanted to tell him face to face. She hastily ripped the pages from the pad and stuffed them in her jacket pocket. She made a quick sweep of the apartment gathering her things. She slipped her heels back on and crossed the room to Mulder's sleeping form on the sofa. She reached out to shake him to tell him she was leaving. But stopped in mid-reach.

Instead she bent forward and placed a warm kiss on his forehead. She wasn't sure where the urge had come from. His eyes flicked open.

"Scully?"

She rubbed his arm. "Yeah, I've gotta go home and change. You gonna be all right?"

"Mmm. Yeah," he replied groggily, "I'll see you at the office."

She flashed him a smile and then hurried out the door. He grinned. She'd kissed him awake. He didn't want to allow himself the pleasure of thinking about that but he couldn't help it. It made him think of her kissing him night before last. He worried he was getting his hopes up, but some little part of him wanted to allow himself some happiness, just this once.

Mulder rose off the couch and stretched. He reached for his glasses on the table and discovered Scully's earrings, she'd forgotten them. His brow furrowed. He'd still been half asleep when she told him she was leaving, but he had noticed the dark circles under her eyes. He sighed. She hadn't gotten much sleep last night. It was becoming an unwelcome pattern for her He knew she had to be exhausted.

He made his way to his desk, deciding to check his e-mail. He was wary he might have some cryptic message from the Cancer Man. Mulder knew he wouldn't stop at yesterday's little surprise. A personal appearance like that always warranted further garbage.

He paused when he got to his desk. His yellow legal pad lay on top of the desk. He could see several pages had been torn away, there was also a half page of Scully's precise handwriting. He wondered if she meant to leave it Was it a note to him? He sat in his chair and picked up the tablet. His eyes widened at what he read.

"I also felt an immense sense of guilt for not telling him what that woman did to him."

At first he was angry, she was holding out on him again. But as he read further, he softened.

"I have to eventually, it's not right not too. But now we need our strength and I have to be strong for Mulder and I have to keep him strong."

She was protecting him. He couldn't fault her there. How many times had he done that to her against her wishes? So now the roles had reversed a little. He sighed, "Oh Scully." He felt somewhat guilty for reading something she so obviously wasn't ready for him to know yet, but he couldn't help himself.

He kept reading. His heart leapt to his throat on two lines.

"I want to surrender myself to him the way I heard him surrender himself to me. A fire ignited some where inside me in that perverse moment and I can't seem to extinguish it."

He reached out with a shaking hand and tore the piece of paper from the pad. As much as he was sickened by the implications of what he surmised must have happened to him in the arctic, his heart was hopeful because of Scully's words. He made up his mind. They needed to talk. She might be afraid of what their feelings would do to them but he was more afraid of what continuing to deny them would do. He placed the page next to his wallet and padded down the hall to the shower.

"We have to talk about this Dana. We've lived in denial too long."


9:30 AM FBI Headquarters

Scully held the envelope in trembling fingers. She'd found it under the door when she'd come in. She was a little surprised she'd made it to the office before Mulder. She wished he was there to deal with whatever this package was. Her hair stood on end as she looked at the seemingly innocuous manila envelope. She walked to her desk opening the package. She stopped just before her chair and removed the contents.

She had to grip the side of her desk as she viewed the pictures the package contained. Scully was staring into the face of a dark-haired child. The child had piercing blue eyes and dark curly hair. Light freckles played across her small aquiline nose and her smile was all too familiar.

There were three pictures of the child and a handwritten note paper clipped to them. Scully detached the note from the photos and set the photos on her desk. The note was addressed to Mulder.

>>Mr. Mulder:

You may not remember our meeting in the arctic, but I do I was instructed to take something from you that I thought inconsequential at the time. I did think the nature of my orders strange, but I followed them anyway. The result of my theft is not so inconsequential. The attached photos are of a child that, for all intents and purposes, is your daughter.

I want to warn you this child is dying. She is the result of some cruel experiments being performed by the people I work for. I am not without compassion, Mr. Mulder and I simply cannot allow this to happen. At present, I do not know where the child is being held but I can find out. If it's possible, I'd like to meet with you to discuss this. I will be in touch soon.

MC<<

"Marita," Scully hissed aloud. She grabbed the photos and another slip of paper fell out from between them. The typewritten words jumped from the page but gave no clue as to who THEIR author was. But the paper smelled of smoke.

>>Agents Mulder and Scully:

Please forgive my associate's - let me see, how should I put it - ah, yes - overzealousness. I had thought of her as 'la belle dame sans merci' you see, 'the beautiful lady without mercy'. Perhaps I was wrong in that assumption. At any rate, even though she is misguided in her actions here, she has still accomplished essentially what I had wanted to have done anyway. She has successfully delivered my little surprise you see. I suppose I will need to thank her in my own way and in my own time.

This child's name isn't Emily, but she is her sister Her name is Elizabeth. Elizabeth doesn't look like her sister. No, she looks more like her parents. But she shares another similarity with her sister. She's dying from the same disease that took Emily.

As her parents, I thought you had the right to know. Her adoptive parents were killed in a tragic accident. Elizabeth now resides at a medical facility near Laurel, Maryland The good doctors there are managing to keep her alive. But I fear they are running out of viable resources to keep her living much longer. Of course, this tragic situation can be rectified. I'll be in touch with the details on how. In the meantime, I've enclosed the facility's address and informed the staff they are to give you full access to the child. They have been told you are the child's aunt and uncle.<<

Scully slumped into her chair. Anger, fear and sadness descended on her in a swarm. She was so shocked she couldn't even move. She gripped the sides of her chair, willing her control to come back to her. She was dimly aware the door to their office opened, yet all she could manage to do was stare at the wall.

Mulder was taken aback at his partner's countenance as he entered their office. Her face was pale, her jaw slack and her eyes glassy. He rushed across the office to her desk, dropping the rose in his hand onto her desk.

"Scully...SCULLY! What is it?"

She numbly handed him the letters and the pictures. Mulder started to shake as he read Marita's and the Cancer Man's notes. He threw the papers aside and started to do the same with the pictures until he saw the child's face His felt a stabbing pain in his chest. Just looking at the girl in the photograph, there was no question whose child she was. She was such a perfect combination of them both. His perusal of the photo was interrupted by a soft sobbing below him.

Mulder quickly dropped the photos to the desk and crouched in front of Scully. He placed his hands over hers on either side of the arm rests. Her eyes slowly raised to meet his. She was shaking but trying so hard to keep it all in, keep it all together. His Scully, ever the one to try to be strong.

He slid his hands up her arms and gently pulled her up from the chair and into a standing position. He tucked her head under his chin and held her tightly. The shaking got worse.

"Let go, Scully. It's OK, it's just you and me here. Let it go. I'm here and it's OK, just let it all go."

She sobbed and let loose with a loud cry. The anguish in her voice made Mulder's heart break. She clutched at his chest and buried her face against his body. He felt his own anger bubbling in him. He pulled them both back against a filing cabinet and slid to the floor, no longer able to stand Her anguish was his as well. He spread his legs in a vee, and she tucked her knees under her so they could remain in one another's embrace.

Mulder pushed his anger down and concentrated on rubbing his hands over Scully's back in a vain effort to lessen the pain. "How could that bastard do this?" his mind screamed. Scully hadn't recovered from the pain of Emily's loss, now the bastards in the consortium were torturing her with this. He wanted to lash out but he fought the urge, focusing on Scully. It kept him grounded.

She slowly relaxed and her sobs subsided. She turned loose of his jacket lapels. He felt her small hands smoothing over the fabric. He cocked his head so he could see her face. She pulled away slightly from him and looked into his eyes again.

"Why Mulder?"

He shook his head slowly. "I don't know Scully, but I'm sure the bastard will tell us. He wants something. I have no intentions of giving him a thing until we see this child and determine she really is ours. I'll only play his game to a point."

She nodded and fell silent again. She pushed her head back under his chin She drew in a sharp breath. "Mulder, don't let go. I...I know we're both going through so much right now, but if you let go I'll fall apart, I..."

"SCULLY. I'm not letting go of anything. I'm right here. We're in this together," he said into her ear.

"I know...but you seemed so upset yesterday when you learned we might have a child...I know this is difficult for you, I know you think they're manipulating us...and to an extent I know they are. But Mulder can you look at that child and not know..."

He brought a finger to her lips. "That photo could be a fake, Scully. There are many possibilities here, including that the girl is our daughter. I'm not saying that isn't a possibility. I also know you want to believe and I'm not doubting you, Scully. I'm doubting them. I told you last night this was something we had to investigate. If anything we have a lead now," he said in a defeated tone.

Fear and anger began to run through her again. "What the hell is wrong with him?" she asked herself. "Why is he still refusing to believe we may have a child together? Is it because the idea repulses him?" she wondered bitterly.

Scully shrank away from him. She stood and gripped the back of her chair She heard him rise behind her.

"What?" he sounded confused.

"A lead," she said dully. "That lead is flesh and blood, Mulder, and she may just be your...our daughter."

"Scully, I wasn't trying to make any less of this child, but we don't have all the facts yet..."

"No, we don't. But somehow I get the impression you're not too comfortable with the idea of having a child, of being the father of MY child," she spat.

He felt himself grow sick. "How can she think that?" he cried inwardly Then he became angry. "No, not again. We are not going to allow this to tear us apart again," he vowed silently. He gripped her shoulders and turned her to face him. She was trying hard to look angry, but he saw the fear and sadness there too.

"Scully. I'll admit seeing myself as a father is difficult, that much is true. But if I were to become one, I would be honored if you were the mother of my children. Having children with you would be...well it's not something I'd ever regret. But, I AM uncomfortable with this situation, The way things seem to have taken place make me sick. You HAVE to know that You HAVE to feel the same discomfort. And that discomfort is exactly why I'm skeptical here. I don't want us to go through all this pain only to find this is just another lie to facilitate our own manipulation."

He pulled her to him again and her shoulders relaxed. He felt her hands circle his waist. He let loose a sigh of relief. He ran his hands over her back and she gripped him tighter.

"I'm sorry Mulder, this is just all so much to deal with."

"I know Scully, but no matter what happens we still have each other."

She nodded into his chest and then pushed away, but her hands still lingered on his hips. "What next?"

"You up for a trip to Laurel, Maryland?"

She sighed heavily. "No, but I'm going regardless." She looked up at him and he nodded back. She watched a range of emotions play across his face Sadness, grief, anger. But as they stared at one another his face softened Another emotion appeared in his expressive hazel eyes. Love. Scully stiffened a little. The emotion still scared her. She dropped her hands from his waist and took his hands, giving them a light squeeze.

"You'll have some time to get used to the idea," he said angrily, "I think we should pay Marita a visit first. I'm not waiting for her to contact me I'd like to know just exactly how much she knows."

She let go of his hand and nodded. She started to walk away but he caught her arm. She watched his free hand go to her desk and pick up a rose. He must have brought it in with him and she never noticed it.

She smiled at him. He moved past her and placed the flower in a small bud vase she kept on her desk. She watched as he turned back to her, a sad smile playing about his lips.

"Thank you, Mulder," she said shyly.

He smiled at her and bent forward and kissed her forehead, much like she'd done that morning.

"We will get through this Scully. We have too," he said firmly. They gathered their things and headed out the door.


Tuesday, January 20
Office Of Special Representative To UN Secretary General
Washington, DC 11 AM

Agent Fox Mulder and Agent Dana Scully stood outside the elevators that had brought them up to the floor in the building where the United Nations Office Of Special Representative to the Secretary General could be found.

"Mulder, I don't like the way this looks," Scully whispered as they walked down the hallway towards the office Mulder knew as the home base for Marita Covarrubias.

"Yeah, I was just thinking the same thing," Mulder answered as he surveyed the quiet, seemingly deserted expanse ahead of them. The sound of their heels echoed as they walked through the shafts of cold winter sunlight that shone through half closed blinds over the windows to their right. As the two Agents neared Marita's office door, Mulder put his hand on the butt of his weapon and Scully did the same.

Mulder lifted his left hand and firmly rapped on the office door. There was no answer. Scully reached past Mulder and gave the door handle a gentle turn. The door started to swing open on silent hinges. They glanced sideways at each other and then quickly drew their weapons.

"On three," Mulder hissed and on the three count, both Agents plunged through the door, Mulder high and Scully low.

The office suite seemed empty. Empty of light, empty of sound, empty of every stick of furniture and definitely empty of Marita Covarrubias.

It turned out however, that it wasn't totally empty.

"What the hell?" Mulder cursed as he bent to pick up the business sized envelope which lay dead center on the plush beige carpeting of the outer office.

"I was wondering when that would capture your attention," Scully tried to joke but she couldn't quite keep the strain out of her voice.

"Yeah, maybe my standing on it convinced me it might be a clue," Mulder retorted, the tension making his joke weak as well.

Mulder took the envelope over to the wall of windows on one side of the suite's outer office. The blinds were closed tight of course, so he yanked their drawstring, and sunlight spilled in to illuminate the room. Scully walked over to stand next to him. She placed a hand on his shoulder as Mulder carefully tore the end of the envelope.

He pulled out a single sheet of paper and held it up into the light. Scully could see the crisp old fashioned typewritten letters of the message and apprehension gripped her heart. The message consisted of only one line and it said:

*sic transit gloria mundi*/p>

"Christ..." Mulder hissed.

"So passes away the glory of the world," Scully whispered.

"Yeah, God damn him," Mulder swore as he sniffed the typewritten sheet, "if this asshole didn't use *Eau De Morley* as an aftershave we'd have more trouble figuring out who's writing this shit," he tried to joke again but grim determination set his jaw.

"Well, the trademark megalomania's a pretty good hint too," Scully sighed trying again to match his attempt at humor. She rubbed Mulder's shoulder slightly. When she stopped rubbing she stepped away from him to gaze out the window.

"Mulder, I don't think we can put off going to Maryland any longer," she stated quietly as she studied the street far below. "Look at all those tiny people down there," she mused idly, "if they only knew, if they had any idea..."

Mulder cleared his throat as he returned the typewritten sheet to it's envelope. Scully looked up at his face.

Mulder stared into her eyes, "Yeah, you're right," he replied, "Besides, I guess we can obviously forget about getting anything out of *Blow-me Blondie* for now," Mulder added with disgust as he shoved the envelope in past his coat and into his suit coat's inner pocket.

Scully fixed him with a piercing stare of utter conviction, "Personally I think we should go after her Morley sucking bastard of a partner, Agent Mulder."

Mulder looked back at her and he smiled wide, "You bettcha Agent Scully," he replied, clapping her gently on the back, "Let's get this show on the road."


Tuesday, January 20
Approximately 12 PM
Outside Laurel MD

Scully stifled a yawn as she and Mulder walked up to the Geneteco Medical Center. She was barely able to keep moving. The whole situation was exhausting and her lack of sleep the previous evening wasn't helping matters either. The sun glinted off the mirrored windows of the building causing her to squint. She desperately wanted to shut her eyes all the way and just sleep.

They passed through a revolving door and a security guard stopped them.

"May I see your IDs or are you visitors here?"

Mulder and Scully produced their FBI badges. Mulder addressed the guard, "I'm Special Agent Fox Mulder, this is Special Agent Dana Scully. We're here to see a patient, Elizabeth Fox."

The guard checked his clipboard and nodded at them. "Take the elevators to the third floor. The nurse on duty will direct you from there."

Once inside the elevator, Scully leaned heavily against the wall. She raised a trembling hand to her face and covered her eyes. Despite her exhaustion, she was terribly nervous. She felt sick at her stomach and her knees were wobbling. A girl who was possibly she and Mulder's daughter was on the third floor, never mind the fact the child might be dying.

"You OK, Scully?"

"Yeah, Mulder. This is just a little unsettling."

Mulder pursed his lips. Scully looked so tired. He vaguely thought the last time she'd had a decent meal was the lunch they'd shared a week ago. Sure she'd had a soda now and again and he'd seen her eat some yogurt, but she seemed to be losing more and more weight. Mulder held a swear under his breath. If he saw the Cancer Man in the next few minutes, he'd shoot him on sight.

The doors to the elevator opened and Mulder guided Scully through the doorway. They approached the nurses' station and pulled out their IDs Scully spoke wearily to the nurse.

"We're with the FBI. We need to see Elizabeth Fox," she said matter of factly.

The nurse peered over ancient reading glasses at their IDs. Mulder idly wondered if someone so old should be doing such a job. The nurse's eyes flicked back up to Scully.

"We've been expecting you Ms. Scully. Elizabeth's down the hall. Room 203."

Mulder gently took Scully's arm and pushed her in the direction of the old crone's crooked finger. He felt a little relieved and a little worried that Scully allowed herself to be guided. She walked a few steps in front of him. His jaw tightened as he realized her shoulders were sagging.

Scully pushed the door marked 203 open, walked into the room a few steps, and froze. Elizabeth Fox's blue eyes focused on hers. Scully choked down a gasp. The pictures of the child were haunting enough, but the flesh and blood girl made Scully's heart stop. Scully felt Mulder's hand rest on her shoulder.

Elizabeth's face was very pale and dark circles rested heavily under her eyes. Her curly brown hair seemed lifeless around her head. Her mouth was drawn tight and she twisted her hands nervously in her lap as she stared at the strangers in her room. She winced a little, seeming to squeeze her own hand a little too hard. The child coughed slightly.

"Elizabeth?" Scully asked, her voice cracking.

"Yes, ma'am," the child replied shyly.

Scully approached the bed and pulled up the hard, yellow chair adjacent the bed. She sat down. Mulder remained standing behind her, arms crossed over his chest.

"I'm Dana Scully and this is Fox Mulder," Mulder nodded at her and managed a weak smile. "We're trying to learn some things about you so you can get well. Is it OK if I ask you some questions?"

The child cast her eyes downward, shyly. "I guess so."

Scully fumbled with what to say next. Elizabeth was only about four years old. There were few telling questions she could ask. She didn't want to ask the child about her parents fearing the reaction. Elizabeth was very sick, her parents were dead, and now two strangers wanted to ask her a bunch of questions. An idea popped into Scully's head.

"Elizabeth, do you ever see anyone other than the doctors here?"

The child shook her head, "No ma'am."

Scully looked at Mulder. He was shaking. She reached over and touched his hand. He gave her a sheepish look and then stuffed his hands in his pockets and walked over to the window. Scully sighed and pressed on ward.

"What do the doctors say is wrong with you, Elizabeth?"

"My blood is bad," she said sadly, "They do things that hurt."

"What kind of things?"

"They stick me with needles. Sometimes they put me in this big machine It's loud and scary."

Scully's mind flashed back to the tests they ran on Emily and how uncomfortable they made the young girl. Tears threatened to spill, but she took a deep breath and composed herself again. She touched the girl's arm and stood up.

"Elizabeth, I know the things the doctors do are painful but they're trying to help you. Mr. Mulder and I are going to try and help you too, if you'll let us. Will that be OK?"

Elizabeth nodded.

"Mulder, I need to talk to you outside for a minute."

Mulder followed her from the room. He shut the door behind him as Scully slumped onto the bench in the hall. Mulder sat down next to her.

"What do you think?" he asked.

Scully stared at the wall in front of them and crossed her arms over her chest. Mulder dimly thought she was trying to physically hold herself together. He heard her sigh heavily.

"I don't know, Mulder," she said tersely, "What do you think?"

He reached over and pulled an arm away from her body. He pulled it toward him and laced his fingers through hers. "Looking at that child, Scully, there's no question in my mind that she's ours."

Scully turned and faced him. One crystalline tear fell down her cheek Mulder caught it with his free hand. She bit her lip and reached across to touch his cheek. A nurse interrupted them.

"Ms. Scully?"

Mulder and Scully immediately extricated themselves from one another Scully wiped her eyes and fixed the brunette woman with a wary stare.

"Yes."

"I'm Nurse McCallister. I keep an eye on Elizabeth on this shift. I know she has some serious problems and I've been told you're related to her. Are you just finding out she's here?"

"Yes."

"Oh. It was so tragic her parents we're killed the way they were. I have to say, given her condition, she's handled their deaths well. I'm sorry about your loss. Will you be taking care of her now?"

"What exactly were you told about Elizabeth?" Scully asked directly.

Nurse McCallister bristled a bit at Scully's harsh tone. Scully immediately surmised McCallister was merely a pawn in the game.

"Just that her parents were killed and she has a rare blood disorder. We learned earlier this week that you and her uncle had been located and would be coming to see her."

Mulder and Scully exchanged glances. Scully nodded at the nurse. She started to say something but Mulder cut her off.

"Nurse McCallister, who is Elizabeth's doctor? I'd like to speak with him."

"Oh, of course, it's Dr. Kerry. I'll go see if he's available."

Mulder nodded and turned back to Scully. She rubbed his shoulder.

"Mulder, I want to get a blood sample from Elizabeth. I want to do a DNA test and know for sure."

Mulder blinked at her. "You really think they'll let you do that?"

"If they don't know I'm doing it," she patted the side of her purse, "I have a hypodermic with me. Keep the doctor out here until I come out will you."

Mulder nodded as Scully slipped back into Elizabeth's room. Sunlight was washing across the child's features and she was sleeping. Scully groaned She hated to wake the child to cause her more pain.

Scully quietly approached the bed and pulled the hypodermic out of her purse. She gingerly pulled it out of its plastic casing. She gently shook Elizabeth. The child opened her eyes groggily. Scully gave Elizabeth a weak smile.

"Elizabeth, I'm going to need to take a little blood from you. I'm sorry I know you don't like to have this done, but I need to find some things out so we can get you well. Is that OK?"

The child nodded sleepily. Scully took in a deep breath. She quickly found a vein and plunged the needle in. She worked carefully trying to make it as painless as possible. Elizabeth bit down hard on her lip but she didn't cry. Scully was some what thankful the child was so tired, it made the whole procedure easier. Outside she heard Mulder's voice and it wasn't happy.

"I want to know just exactly what you're doing for this child, Dr. Kerry!"

Scully quickly deposited the blood in a vial she had in her purse, capped it and hid the vial in her jacket pocket. She tossed the used needle into the biohazard container in the room just as Mulder and the doctor entered Mulder's fists were clenched and his face was bright red.

"She's obviously quite sick and you've only got ONE nurse assigned to watch her. Shouldn't she be under constant observation?"

"Mr. Mulder, please lower your voice, we don't want to upset Elizabeth."

Scully took the child's hand and Elizabeth squeezed back. Scully fixed the blonde doctor with an ice blue stare. "OK, I'll ask you more quietly Dr Kerry. What are you doing for this child?"

The doctor seemed startled by Scully. He stood stock still and stared at her for what seemed an eternity. After a long pause, the doctor addressed Scully.

"We're doing all we can Ms. Scully. We are constantly monitoring her via machine and she undergoes tests daily. Since we know nothing about the blood disorder she has all we can do is keep trying old and new methods until we find something that works. I assure we're working night and day on this."

Scully raised an eyebrow. Dr. Kerry seemed to know both she and Mulder's names, unlike the nurse who thought Mulder and Scully were the child's aunt and uncle. Mulder walked up behind the doctor.

"It's obviously NOT enough," Mulder rumbled.

"Mulder..." Scully said, her tone warning. She gave him a long stare willing him to be quiet so they could leave. He seemed to get the hint Scully cut her eyes back to the doctor. "If I was a betting woman I'd say ol' Dr. Kerry is in on this whole thing, I can practically smell the smoke," she told herself silently.

Scully hadn't missed the doctor's reaction to her when he entered the room Dr. Kerry seemed to know Scully. Frightening thoughts of how entered her head. Scully surmised the Cancer Man had meant for this all to play out much the way it had. The Smoker might have even guessed they'd try to get a blood sample, but she couldn't be sure. But this had all been far to easy The Smoker wanted them to see Elizabeth and get as much information as they could. There was something else he wanted.

"You'll have to excuse us Dr. Kerry, we've been driving a long time. We're both short on sleep. Could you give us a few more minutes with Elizabeth? Mr. Mulder and I need to get some sleep and then we'll return in the morning."

The doctor nodded and left the room.

"Why did you do that?" Mulder hissed. Scully just gave him a look.

"We've got what we need."

She returned her attention to Elizabeth, she let go of the child's hand and stroked her hair. "We need to go now Elizabeth, but we'll come to see you tomorrow. Will that be OK?"

Elizabeth nodded. "Mr. Mulder," Elizabeth said in a small voice, "Your name is Fox too?"

Mulder coughed loudly, "Well, my first name is like your last name."

"Oh, are you my real Daddy then?" she asked plainly.

Mulder's jaw set. His mind raced with the possibilities of how she would even think to ask such a question. He started to speak but she beat him to the punch.

"Dr. Kerry says my real Daddy will come for me someday."

Mulder stared blankly at her not knowing how to respond. Scully crossed the room to him and took his hand. "We don't know who your real parents are, Elizabeth. But we're going to try to find out."

"OK," she said quietly. "Bye Mr. Mulder...and Ms. Scully."

"Goodbye Elizabeth," Scully said sadly.


Tuesday, January 20
Approximately 3 PM
FBI Headquarters

Scully entered the room carrying two vials of blood. She wore a lab coat over her clothes and her hair was in disarray. Dark circles ringed her eyes and Mulder cringed as he saw her. He knew she had to be tired.

She'd gotten no sleep the night before and she was working on pure adrenaline.

She set the vials in a test tube rack next to him, one was marked "DKS" the other "EF". She walked over to the sink in the sterile smelling room and began washing her hands. Mulder sighed heavily.

"Roll up your sleeve, Mulder."

"What did you tell Anderson you were doing when you asked him to take your blood sample?"

"That I was testing one of your crazy theories," she said making a weak joke.

Mulder shook his head. He took off his jacket and unbuttoned his shirt sleeve. He worked the cotton material up his arm as he heard Scully snap on latex gloves near the sink. When he looked up she was carrying a hypodermic and headed for him. Even in her exhausted state, she was ever the efficient doctor.

Mulder turned his head as she plunged the needle into his arm. A few seconds later she announced she was done. She swabbed his arm with alcohol and then placed a bandage over the puncture. She placed a small piece of tape on the vial and wrote the letters "FWM" on it and placed it in the rack with the others.

Mulder numbly watched her begin adjusting several pieces of complicated looking equipment. Scully was tense as well as tired. She'd been a bit angry with him in the car. He'd griped at her for saying so much in front of the doctor. She tersely told him the good doctor was in on it all anyway and that it didn't matter.

Then she'd told him she was worried.

"I think this child is ours, but she's a means to an end, Mulder."

"What do you mean?"

"Didn't all that at the medical center seem a little too easy to you?"

He realized she was right. Elizabeth was more than likely their daughter but she wasn't the point, another thing that was infuriating him. This girl was merely a lab rat to those people. She was the carrot he and Scully were being taunted with. The Smoker wanted something and he was going to use Elizabeth to get it. Mulder clenched his jaw.

Scully's voice startled him out of his reverie.

"Mulder, why don't you go on downstairs to the office. This is going to take awhile. I've got to centrifuge the blood to get at the white blood cells and a whole host of similar procedures I won't bore you with to eventually extract the DNA. It'll take me most of the night and I may not finish until morning."

"Are you sure you don't want me to stick around?"

"No, I could use a little time to myself. I'll come get you for a break in a few hours."


Tuesday, January 20
5 PM, Location Unknown

Marita Covarrubias stared out the window of the dark apartment into the inky black of the night. "Matches my mood," she thought bitterly. She'd successfully cleared everything from her part-time Washington office so she could permanently move to New York. The Consortium had deemed she needed to work from there from now on. It was just as well, Marita wasn't too fond of DC. The constant commuting between the two places had worn thin and she welcomed the opportunity to be back on her home turf for good.

Marita dimly hoped it would get her away from the Morley Smoking bastard She sniffed, "Didn't think that lowly of him until recently did you, Marita?" she chastised herself aloud.

When she first met him she found him charming. After all, The Smoker was a brilliant man. He was also as cold and aloof as she was. She found him so much more appealing than that simpering Alex Krycek. What a toy boy he'd been. She chuckled a little at the thought. Krycek had been so easy to manipulate, all she had to do was bat her eyes seductively and he came running.

But The Smoker had been different. He was definitely a powerful man. Power was a serious turn on for Marita. Just thinking about the number of people The Smoker could kill just by opening his mouth made Marita wet. She self-consciously licked her bottom lip. "I can't think like that now," she told herself silently, "I've got to get away from him. So much of what he's doing is wrong. Once I'm in New York I know I can change things."

A chill ran through her body and she wrapped her arms tightly around her waist. She jumped when she heard his voice.

"Pondering your recent exploits, Marita?"

Marita whirled on her heel. She could barely make out his shadow leaning against the door frame of the apartment. "Actually, I was thinking of the future," she answered truthfully.

He moved into the room but she still couldn't see his face, only the red glow of his cigarette in the dark. "Ah, the future. Yours or someone else's?"

"What do you want?" she asked tersely. "I'm not in the mood for any of your insipid word games, John."

He chuckled softly. She was one of the few people who called him by name It wasn't his real name certainly, he'd never give that up to anyone. But it was difficult to pretend to make love to someone if they didn't know your name. He'd allowed her to call him by his pen name.

"You want me to cut to the chase, Marita?" he asked moving closer. Marita stepped in the other direction. They'd begun circling one another like caged leopards.

"That'd be nice," she spat.

"Oh, I don't think so lover," he said in a low voice, "I too was thinking about the future just now. Yours and how quickly it's about to be your past." He stubbed the cigarette out in a discarded soda can on the coffee table in front of him.

He strode across the room in three long strides and grabbed her shoulders He roughly shoved her up against the wall behind her.

"Just what the hell were you thinking telling Mulder he has a child?"

She trembled in his grip. "I...I don't know what you're talking about."

He let go of one arm and slapped her across the face, "Don't lie to me," he hissed.

"I wanted to plant a trap..." she was grasping for any explanation shecould pull out of the air. She needed to buy time to get out of this situation He cut her short.

Marita felt his free hand close over her throat. She gasped for air.

"I said DON'T LIE TO ME, you bitch."

The Smoker pressed his body closer. Marita's mind spun. Thoughts were running wildly through her head but she couldn't come up with an answer, at least one that wouldn't get her killed. Then she felt it. Anger aroused the sick bastard and she could feel his erection pressing against her thigh Despite the situation, she felt her own arousal building too. She supposed that was why things had worked between them so long. They both liked it rough.

She struggled, but managed to bring one of her hands up and stroked him through his pants.

"I don't want to lie to you John, so I'm not going to say anything," she choked, "but there are other things I can do for you."

She could barely see his face in the dim light but she could see the twist of his mouth lessen. He also loosened his grip. He trailed the hand down her chest and cupped one of her breasts. His thumb automatically began circling her nipple through her blouse.

"You whore," he spat as he covered her mouth and kissed her roughly.

The Smoker pressed her harder up against the wall. It had been a long time since he'd been with Marita or anyone else for that matter. He hated that she still had the same effect over him, even when she'd betrayed him. He couldn't help himself though. Sometimes just looking at her made him rock hard. She was so cold and distant but she turned to fire under his touch Marita had as much of a weakness for him as he had for her.

"What the hell," he told himself, "I'll satisfy this little urge and then press her back into my service." He moved his hand from her breast and tore through all of the buttons of her blouse. He backed away long enough to pull the garment off her body.

She grabbed the lapels of his suit jacket and pushed it off his shoulders He let it drop to the floor. She grabbed his tie roughly and pulled him to her. "You bastard." She loosened the knot at his neck and pulled the scrap of silk over his head. She kissed him roughly and tore through his shirt buttons. She discarded his shirt in much the manner she'd rid him of his jacket.

He pushed away from her laughing, "I've made you that eager, Marita?"

"Shut up," she hissed working his belt buckle loose. He heard the metallic slide of the zipper and felt his pants drop to the floor. He grabbed her hands roughly then pushed away from her. He kicked his shoes off and discarded his pants and boxers. She reached for him again but he stopped her.

"No! You finish undressing for me now," he ordered. He placed his hands on either side of the wall next to her head.

"Don't you want to go into the bedroom?" she suggested.

"I said strip."

She reached down and unclasped her bra and discarded it. He leaned forward, "Very good," he growled, "Now the rest," he took one of her breasts into his mouth, sucking at her hard nipple. She moaned but continued to disrobe She had to move away from him slightly to remove her nylons. She then moved to take off her panties but he caught her hands.

"I'll take over from here." He knelt in front of her and slowly slid the lacy material down her legs. She accommodated him by stepping out of them He slid his hand up her thigh and teased the edge of her folds with his finger. She leaned back against the wall and moaned.

He slid a finger inside her and began to stroke slowly. She tossed her head back and forth against the wall. The Smoker watched her with amusement. He loved having this kind of power over a woman. Especially Marita. He loved reducing her to this state, because soon he would make her beg and that was one of his favorite pastimes. She was moaning above him.

"Ohhh..."

"Marita, you sound so wanton. Is this...pleasurable?" He slipped another finger inside and she arched her back towards him. She gasped loudly.

"Answer me," he said withdrawing his hand. She groaned from the loss of contact.

"Yes," she hissed, "finish what you started."

He covered her with his mouth, darting his tongue into her. She felt so tightly wound. This was torture and, although pleasant torture, she knew she wouldn't come without a price. But somehow the fear was making her even more aroused. Her hips bucked against his face.

Marita knew she was close and she so desperately craved release. It had been a long time for her. Well, at least a long time since she'd been with someone. She and The Smoker hadn't seen one another in quite some time She'd forgotten how much his touch inflamed her. She was moving higher and higher towards the inevitable. She twined her fingers in his hair and murmured to him, egging him on. Then he stopped.

"You want to come don't you, Marita?"

"Yesss...please."

He laughed. "Oh I think you can do better than that lover. I want to hear you really beg for it." She felt his finger circling her clit, but he was light on the pressure, only teasing her.

She knew this was it. The game was about to go up a notch. He'd caught her trying to help Mulder and there was no doubt in her mind he'd kill her if she didn't go along now. Her thoughts became less and less focused as he touched her, biology was taking over. She knew that was exactly what he wanted but she was helpless to do anything now.

"I've always loved working with you Marita," he breathed huskily, "Your sexual appetite makes you so pliable. I really get off on that you know."

She groaned.

"I have some important news for you, Marita. I had planned to let Mulder in on his daughter's condition but you beat me to it. In a way you did me a favor, so I'm willing to not only bring you the precious release you're dying for now but also let you live...provided you do as I tell you."

He thrust his fingers deep inside her and pumped a couple of times and then stopped. She cried out.

"Uhhh, God what? What do you want me to do?"

"You'll help me finish what you started. We're going to use the girl to get Mulder to agree to be 'collared' so to speak. You need not know anything further than that. Just say the word, Marita, and I let you come and I'll let you live." She felt him pump into her twice more for emphasis.

She was totally helpless and her mind was certainly not clear. She knew she was agreeing to something sinister, but what other viable choice did she have. "Yesss, anything you want John...please."

His hand moved furiously between her legs until she screamed and slumped against the wall. Tremors ran through her body as she lie there. The smoker just watched her. He made no moved to hold her. Instead, he crossed his arms over his chest and stared at his now straining erection.

Marita's breathing finally calmed and she looked up at him. He gave her a wicked smile. "Don't just sit there. Did I forget to mention the other part of the bargain, lover? You know the drill. Get to it."

He watched as she slowly got up on her knees and took him in her mouth. He leaned into the wall, placing his hands on it to steady himself. He felt her lips and tongue slide along his length. He bit his lip to keep from making any noise. He had too much pride to allow her to think she was THAT arousing to him. He ordered her to move faster and she complied and moved her hand up to stroke his balls. He finally allowed himself an audible groan, if only to encourage her.

Moments later he came violently in her mouth, knocking her over and falling onto the floor next to her. He rolled away from her and braced himself on his arms until he was more calm. He turned and looked at her. She was wiping her mouth and looking utterly disgusted. He slapped her again.

"You deserved it after betraying me. How stupid do you think I am?"

He rose and pulled her up with him and then pinned her against the wall "You're lucky you do that so well you spineless prostitute, it will keep you alive for the time being." He circled her throat with his large hands again. He knew how to use just enough pressure to make her pass out. He pressed his hands in a little harder and her eyes grew large and then her head lolled to one side. He dropped her and let her slide down the wall.

"Sweet dreams Marita, you've been so useful."

The Smoker gathered his clothes and quickly dressed. He lit up a cigarette and smoked it over her prone body. When he finished he stubbed the butt out against the wall and dropped it next to her head. He pulled a scrap piece of paper from his pocket and scrawled across the small page. He dropped it next to the cigarette butt. He let himself out into the night.


Three Hours Later

Marita woke groggily. Her head was throbbing and her neck felt like it was locked in a vice. She felt chilled and noticed she was still nude.

Thoughts of what had just happened flooded her memory and she fought back the urge to vomit. She stood wearily and groped for the light switch on the wall.

Light flooded the room and Marita had to squint to see. She took a couple of tentative steps towards the bathroom. Her head swam and she stopped moving to avoid falling. She steadied herself against the wall and let her head fall forward. She snorted when she saw the cigarette butt lying on the floor, but then a piece of paper lying next to it caught her eye. She reached down and picked it up. It was in the smoker's signature scrawl.

"Geneteco Medical Center, Laurel, Maryland. This information will be useful to you in the next couple of days. Don't stray again."

Marita sighed. She scrubbed her face. The name of the facility rung a bell In her muddled state she couldn't figure out why it sounded familiar. She rose and placed the scrap of paper in her purse on the small table next to the door.

She willed herself to walk into the bathroom where she finally did throw up. She ran water in the sink and washed her mouth out. She then took a long drink of water. She faced her countenance in the mirror and spit out the water. She sputtered and coughed at what she saw. A dark bruise mottled the skin of her neck. The Smoker had left his mark. She swore to the empty room.

Marita hated being forced to do anything. Well, not the forced sex. She knew on some level she had just enjoyed John's less than tender attention It was John and his scheming she couldn't stand any longer. The arrogant son of a bitch and his power hungry manipulative ways made her want to scream. <Not to mention what he planned to do to Mulder and that innocent little girl.> John's whole convoluted world was beginning to disgust her and she was finally as mad as hell over it all.

She mentally told herself she'd been fucked in more ways than one. And one of those ways had been no where near as enjoyable as the other. "That stops here and now," she said aloud. She walked back into the living room and dressed. She slipped her shoes on and dimly wondered where the hell Mulder was, it was nearly 9 PM. She figured this would be the one place she'd find him. She shrugged guessing she was lucky he hadn't found her in the state she woke up in.

She walked to the door and grabbed her purse. She re-locked the door she'd so skillfully broken into a few hours earlier and shut it behind her. She tried to get the 2 on the door back into an upright position but it wouldn't go. Behind the closed door she heard the phone ringing. She listened closely as the machine picked up.

"You've reached Fox Mulder, please leave a message...BEEEP."

"Mulder it's Skinner, I need to speak with you regarding your progressin the morning. Call Sharon and set up an appointment."

Marita walked away.


Tuesday, January 20
9:00 PM, The Basement

Basement, yeah that's more appropriate than you could ever know little journal. We've pretty much hit rock bottom, Scully and I. I haven't written in you for a while. Jesus, I wonder why? HA! Even now I don't really want to write. I'm just too numb. Exhausted. My hope is almost exhausted, and I think I understand, at last, why Scully's faith is exhausted as well.

I'm sitting here waiting to see if we have a daughter. Well, another daughter. I know in my heart that Emily was mine as well. We haven't talked about it much. God, I don't blame Scully for not talking about it. How much more can she take? Besides, we can't help Emily. We need to concentrate on Elizabeth. If Elizabeth is our daughter we need to concentrate on saving her.

If Elizabeth is our daughter? Who am I kidding? Of course I believe she's our child. Scully and I are just waiting for scientific confirmation. If there was a time I never wanted to hear the truth, oh my journal, this is it. I'd like Scully to say - "Mulder, Elizabeth is not our daughter, there's been a mistake". But I know it's true, there's been no mistake. I saw her face. She's ours all right. But I never gave her to Scully and Scully never gave her to me. Elizabeth is not a product of an act of love, she's a product of a horrible experiment.

Dear God, I wish it wasn't so. I wish Scully and I had made love and created those children together. Damn it. I feel so violated. I feel Scully's violation too now more than ever. And I can understand why she's lost her faith. Who could believe in a God cruel enough to let the devil in human form do this to two little girls?

The only bright light in this entire horrible mess is that I now know that Scully loves me. I should feel joy in this knowledge. If I could think straight I might. Did I mention how dead I feel? Tired. Dead tired. No, just dead inside. Yeah. I think I did somewhere up above. And why am I less than ecstatic about knowing Scully loves me? Well, maybe it's because I had to read about it on a pitiful piece of yellow legal paper that she accidentally left behind in my apartment.

She wrote: "I want to surrender myself to him the way I heard him surrender himself to me. A fire ignited some where inside me in that perverse moment and I can't seem to extinguish it." And you know what - I don't even know what she's talking about. All she told me was Marita Covarrubias jerked me off and harvested my sperm. How romantic! I mean, that was humiliating enough. Why in God's name did she write those words and what in the hell really happened to me? Perverse moment? Wonderful! Can I humiliate myself any further? Hey, give me time - I'm sure I can top my last performance And speaking of performances, you know what? I'm sure Alfred Hitchcock could have made a better film out of all this shit without even trying "Spermbound," starring Fox Mulder and Marita Covarrubias. Christ - that's pathetic. I'm sorry.

I have to talk to Scully about finding that journal entry. I have to do it soon. I love her and now I can't remain mute any longer. We have to confront everything. No more denials and no more shutting it all away behind our professional ethics. I can't take it any more and I don't think she can either. We're going to need to be strong now and we can be stronger together than apart. I have to talk to Scully about finding that journal entry. Oh, I said that all ready, didn't I? Christ. I read this last sentence 3 times before I realized I'd written the same words at the start of this paragraph. Well, I guess I know those words are true, don't I? It's almost 10 PM. Scully's got to come down here soon. I'm locking this up for the night. That's it for now, dear journal. I'll stash you in my desk tonight. I don't know when we'll talk again. I'll come back and get you later. Cross your fingers. I'd say pray but...yeah, right. Good night.


Tuesday, January 20
10 PM, FBI Headquarters

Scully sighed heavily as she placed the metal box containing the vials of blood she'd been working on deep in the back of one of the lab's many unused cabinets. She moved a bunch of paper towels in front of the box to further hide it from view. She removed the combination lock from her gym bag and placed it around the handles of the cabinet. She was relatively sure almost no one came into this room any more except for spare paper towels, but she wasn't about to leave anything to chance.

She walked out of the room and spied the keys to it hanging on a peg in the other room of the lab. She smiled. The lab tech had been in a hurry to get to his date and forgot them. She crossed the room quickly and picked them up, returning to lock up the room and deposited the keys in her bag. The lab tech wouldn't miss the keys. Scully had every intention of returning long before he got there at 9 AM. In fact, she intended to return as soon as she got Mulder to go home. She turned out the lights and made her way to the elevator.

Scully entered the office and Mulder was sitting in front of his computer with his back to the door. His screen saver was running. Scully walked over to his desk, as she drew closer she heard the sound of light snoring. She forced a weak smile.

She laid a hand on his shoulder, "Mulder wake up."

He started and spun in the chair. He grabbed her arms, then realizing who she was, he relaxed but didn't let go. "What time is it, Scully?"

"Around 10. I got a lot done but there is still a couple of hours worth of work to complete. Why don't you go on home? I'll finish up and let you know what I found in the morning."

"Hell no," Mulder said flatly.

"Wha.."

"Scully, you're dead on your feet. You got no sleep last night and you've not eaten since that rice cake you had 6 hours ago. I'm taking you home."

"Mulder I need to finish..."

"You can finish it in the morning. Let's go down and make sure it's all locked up safe and sound, but you can come back early tomorrow morning and finish it. It will keep."

"I already have," she replied tiredly. She knew Mulder was right. She reached into her pocket absent-mindedly and fingered the keys she'd pilfered earlier. She made a mental note to make sure they got back to their peg before 9 AM the following morning.

Mulder looked her in the eyes. He desperately wanted to talk to her about the piece of her journal entry he'd found that morning. They needed to talk about it, especially in light of all the things that were going on. They needed one another's strength.

He gripped her shoulders, "Scully, let me take you home. There's something we need to talk about."


Later
Dana Scully's Apartment

Scully turned the key in her apartment's lock and pushed the door open with effort. Mulder reached over her shoulder and helped her to push it further inward.

"Thanks, Mulder," she said her back to his chest. She sagged against him, "Mulder, I AM SO tired," she sighed.

Mulder touched her shoulder for a moment and then Scully walked a bit further into the apartment.

"Yeah, me too Scully," Mulder agreed, running his hand through his hair, "Maybe I should go, and let you get some rest," he added staring into her face as she turned to look at him. Mulder knew he didn't want to leave. He needed to talk to Scully desperately now and going home was really the last thing he wanted to do.

Scully's brow furrowed, "Mulder, you're the one who suggested we needed to talk. I agreed. Come in. Let me take your coat."

Mulder followed her in and shrugged out of his long winter coat as Scully opened the coat closet. She took her coat off and hung it up inside. Mulder handed her his coat and she did the same. Mulder stood watching as Scully bent over and removed her shoes, slowly, one at a time.

"God, her feet must be killing her," he thought in sympathy as Scully tossed her heels into the bottom of the closet.

"Mulder?" she asked glancing up at him. Mulder raised an eyebrow.

"Hey, don't stand on ceremony, you might as well be comfortable," she replied gesturing towards his feet.

"Oh, OK," Mulder gave her a tired, lopsided grin. He reached down and pulled his shoes off without even untying them. He had to work to get the right shoe off and wobbled around a bit on his left leg before he tossed the shoe next to it's mate in the closet.

Mulder looked at his shoes lying next to Scully's shoes with a sigh. The site made a pleasant, warm picture for him, but it also made him nervous again as he contemplated the discussion ahead.

Suddenly, Scully was snorting in a vain attempt to suppress her laughter.

Mulder looked over at her, a bemused smile on his face, "What?" he asked confused because he was obviously not in on the joke.

Scully was looking down at his feet. Mulder glanced down and then he laughed as well. Both his socks had holes in them and his big toes were poking out through the material.

"Well, what can I say, my Mom hasn't dressed me in years," Mulder chuckled.

"And the words needle and thread aren't in your vocabulary?" Scully teased.

"Naw, but *circular file* is. That's usually where I put these things when they get in this condition," Mulder retorted wriggling his toes for emphasis.

Scully raised an eyebrow but her tired grin was still firmly in place.

"Look, Mulder would you like some tea or I might even have some iced tea Why don't you go sit on the couch? I can get you whatever you'd like," Scully offered.

Mulder studied her pale, taut face. He could tell she was trying to stall for time, trying to postpone the inevitable. Well, he'd give her a break He still had to gather his thoughts a little anyway, "Yeah, I'd like some hot tea actually, but nothing with caffeine. I need to get some sleep later myself."

"I have some herbal tea."

"That would be great," Mulder agreed. He headed over to the couch as Scully walked towards the kitchen. A thought struck Mulder, "Oh, and could you put some honey in that Scully?"

She took her tailored business suit coat off on the way and tossed it over the back of a chair. "Sure, Mulder."

Mulder crossed to the couch and took off his jacket as well, placing it over the couch's arm. He loosened his tie and sat down with a thump.

Scully pulled out the box of Celestial Seasonings Sleepy Time Tea from it's cabinet over the stove and placed it near her microwave. She stopped a moment and leaned against the counter, slightly dizzy. She blinked her eyes. There was only one advantage to her fatigue as far as she could see It helped to blunt the fact that she dreaded having to talk to Mulder about Elizabeth. The whole idea of talking to him about anything significant at this point filled her with alarm. She knew she was near collapse and she just couldn't face dredging up all the day's events. She understood that they probably needed to formulate some kind of battle plan to deal with the Smoking Man but the effort of even thinking about the necessity was making her head spin.

Also, Scully knew where any discussion would end up as well. They would have to face the significance of Elizabeth in their lives, how to save her if possible, and ultimately where her and Mulder's relationship should go from here. She knew what she wanted to say to Mulder regarding that last question.

Despite being almost dead on her feet she knew she still felt attracted to him and the idea of confronting those feelings right now in her condition terrified her. There wasn't much she could do about the situation, however She had agreed to talk, Mulder was sitting out on the couch, and she probably couldn't forestall the inevitable any longer. She pulled out two cups from the cabinet, filled them with water, and placed them in the microwave.

Mulder rubbed his eyes with his hands as he waited for Scully to return. He had decided to begin talking about Elizabeth. He did really want to reassure Scully that he believed she might be their daughter. He also wanted to come up with the start of a plan to help their child, and to thwart whatever Machiavellian horrors Cancer Man had devised for all of them. But Mulder was having trouble thinking about any of those issues at the moment. Part of this was due to his fatigue and worry for Scully. The other part was due to the folded up piece of paper contained in his wallet He would have to get to the journal entry tonight. His defenses were so low however, that the thought made him shake.

"OK, Mulder, watch it, this is hot," Scully was saying as she came up behind him. Mulder jumped slightly.

"Sorry, I didn't mean to startle you," Scully hastened to apologize. She placed a mug near his hand, "I couldn't find any honey, it's on my shopping list, but I did put some sugar in it."

"Hey, that's great," Mulder smiled as she sat down on the couch next to him. Both sipped the tea for a moment and then Mulder took the plunge.

"Listen, Scully, for what it's worth, I really do believe that Elizabeth could be our daughter. I mean, God, her face. When I got that first glimpse of her I thought it could have been Samantha in that bed."

"She does resemble your sister, Mulder and.."

"Yeah she bears a superficial resemblance to Sam, but hell, Scully, she looks more like you and me than my sister. Christ - she even has your eyes."

Scully sighed and put her mug down. She reached over and touched Mulder's arm, "I know, Mulder. She looks even more like a child of ours might look than the little girl in my dream. If she isn't our daughter then I don't have an explanation for what's going on here at all anymore."

"Yeah, well, I think the explanation is hiding behind a fucking cloud of cigarette smoke, Scully. What the hell are we going to do about that asshole?" Mulder sighed putting his mug down as well, "Ah, screw it Listen, we're both beat. I know we should talk about what to do about Cancer Man and Elizabeth. We need a plan of attack here Scully, but God, I can barely put two thoughts together," Mulder replied looking over into Scully's eyes.

He was shocked again to see her pinched, strained face, and lackluster expression. He almost didn't want to talk to her about anything else tonight especially the journal entry. It just didn't seem fair. She needed so desperately to rest.

Before he thought better of it he reached out his hand and stroked her cheek. Scully leaned into his hand for a second, but then she pulled away from him to pick her mug up again.

Mulder watched her reaction tension in his jaw. Before he could reconsider his words he said, "Scully I have something else I need to talk to you about."

"What, Mulder?" she asked dully, hesitating to pick up the mug.

"This," he replied taking out his wallet. He withdrew the folded up paper and placed it on the coffee table in front of them, "Scully, lastnight, when you stayed in my apartment after my self-induced flashback, well, I guess you left this there. I think it must be some kind of journal entry. I just picked it up, and...I'm sorry..." he let his voice trail off. "Damn it, I'm not handling this very well," he thought as Scully's trembling hand picked up the paper and unfolded it. he began to read. Scully put a hand to her mouth, "Oh my God," she thought as she read the lines.

"I also felt an immense sense of guilt for not telling him what that woman did to him."

"I have to eventually, it's not right not too. But now we need our strength and I have to be strong for Mulder and I have to keep him strong."

"I want to surrender myself to him the way I heard him surrender himself to me. A fire ignited some where inside me in that perverse moment and I can't seem to extinguish it."

"Mulder..." she began. She wouldn't look up at him and her hands still shook.

"No, Scully. I need you to give me an explanation, not an excuse. I need you to tell me what I said and did during that flashback. Please, I, I'm begging you all right?" he asked her miserably. He passed a hand over his face.

Scully looked at his face then and she saw the look of utter humiliation that he felt. "Oh no," she thought, and she drew close and gathered Mulder into her arms. She rocked him gently and he sagged against her.

"Scully, tell me, I have to know," he whispered against her breasts.

"Mulder, when you were having the flashback, you...Well, it became obvious that Marita was somehow making you think I was with you when, that we were..Oh, Mulder you thought you were making love to me when Marita was harvesting your sperm. I couldn't stop watching. You called out my name and Oh God, I wanted it to be true, I wanted it to be me, I've always wanted it to be me!" Weak tears began to leak from the corners of Dana Scully's eyes.

"Oh, Scully," Mulder rose up and looked into her face. He took one look and he knew. Through her tears, her pain, her exhaustion, and her fear he knew She loved him. Dear God in heaven she wanted and needed him as much as he wanted and needed her, "Oh, God, Scul...Dana, I love you," Mulder replied huskily.

"Mulder, please, I...hold me," Scully whispered. Mulder took her into his arms and rested her head against his neck. He had done this so many times before over the last few weeks but now it took on a whole new meaning for them both. His heart pounded in his chest and his hands shook as he stroked her hair. "God, she, this feels so good," he thought. Gradually, Mulder felt her stop crying.

Scully could feel Mulder's heart hammering beneath her cheek. She had been so tired only moments ago but now her body began to respond to Mulder. She could barely believe it was happening. But, oh Lord, she wanted it to happen. Her heart was pounding to match his beat for beat. She stroked the spot next to where her head rested and idly touched her cross where it lay beneath Mulder's shirt. She smoothed the material of his shirt front down, and then she sat up and looked him in the eyes.

There was a desire in the depths of Mulder's sad hazel eyes that Scully had seen so many times recently but until almost that very moment had never wanted to chance reciprocating. But now she desired him as much as he desired her. She wanted to make love to him. She wanted his warmth and his gentleness, his caring, and...

"Scully, I, I'd like to kiss you," Mulder whispered, instantly interrupting her thoughts.

Scully reached up and touched his cheek, "I love you, Mulder," she replied quietly.

Mulder touched his fingers to her lips after she spoke. He stroked her bottom lip slowly and sensuously. Scully let her lips part slightly and Mulder bent to press a gentle kiss to her lips. Scully opened her mouth further and eagerly accepted Mulder's questing tongue.

The movement of Mulder's mouth over hers was so erotic that Scully could barely breathe. She became incredibly hot. She felt like someone had thrown her into orbit around the sun, except it wasn't the sun, the hot body she was circling was Fox Mulder.

Mulder reveled in Scully's taste and smell and the warmth of her body through her tailored blouse and skirt. He deepened the kiss and Scully moaned into his mouth.

They began to touch each other then, exploring their bodies through their conservative G-man and G-woman clothing.

Mulder held Scully's face with his right hand as his left cupped and tenderly stroked one of her breasts and then the other. He could feel her taut nipples through her bra and he rubbed each in turn with a slow, circular motion.

Scully pulled his tongue deeper into her mouth as she mimicked the movement of his hands with her own tongue. She stroked his chest with both her hands seeking out his hard, male nipples. She teased each in turn and Mulder's breath began to quicken. Scully glanced down as she let her hands trail lower on Mulder's body. When she reached the zipper on his slacks she pulled it open with one deft motion. She heard Mulder's intake of breath as she insinuated one hand though his fly. She gently touched his penis, and then she began to trail her fingers along it. She looked up into Mulder's face as she began finally to stroke his length.

Mulder pinned Scully's eyes with his. "Her eyes are so beautiful," he thought, "so beautiful." But Christ they looked so tired despite her arousal his mind realized in a rush. He could almost lose himself in her blue eyes if it wasn't for the fact that deep down in them there was a mixture of fear and exhaustion still lurking. He watched her face as she began to increase the pumping motion of her hand. He felt what she as doing but, then he began to realize something else.

He wasn't getting hard. Obviously, Dana Scully wasn't the only one seated on that couch who was suffering from bone numbing exhaustion. As much as Mulder desired it, there was no way he was going to be able to get an erection. He sighed. "Scully, Jesus. I love you..." he whispered with as much tenderness as he could put into his voice. Then he reached down, grasped her hand, and pulled it from between his legs.

"Mulder, what's wrong," Scully whispered in concern. For one horrible moment she thought Mulder was thinking about Marita and what she had done to him.

"Scully, I, I just can't do this. God, I, I want to make love to you more than anything in the world right now. But, I guess I'm too tired. I can't get hard, OK, it's just not going to happen. I'm sorry," he looked down at the hand that held hers. He drew it up and kissed her palm. He released her hand and looked down at his lap.

"Oh, Mulder..." Scully replied in a quiet voice, "I...Oh," she didn't know what to say.

"Hey, it's all right, I've, well, this has happened to me a couple of times before, it'll pass. I just need to get some sleep. Shit," he cursed, "I feel like an asshole - why didn't I stop myself, how could I let myself make you...God, are you all right, I mean I can..."

"Mulder, no, it, it's all right. I'll be fine. I can wait for us to be together. I want us both to experience our love when the time's right Don't worry about tonight, it won't make any difference later. I love you, that's all that matters right now," Scully replied gently. She touched his hand, picked it up, and rubbed his fingers between her own.

"God, I love you too, Scully," Mulder replied as he sank back against the seat cushions.

"Mulder, why don't you just hold me here on the couch. We can go to sleep I want to fall asleep in your arms. I know I can rest if you're holding me," Scully gently whispered.

"All right, Scully," Mulder replied. He took a couple of the throw pillows and put them next to the couch arm. Then he lay back and motioned for Scully to join him. She snuggled in close next to the front of his body and they spooned together.

"It's lucky this couch is wide enough for two," Mulder said kissing her hair.

"Hey, I have some knowledge of practical interior decorating you know," Scully chuckled.

Mulder snorted with humor and draped an arm protectively over her middle Scully hugged his arm close. She cuddled against him. Her breathing became slow and regular. She let out a small sigh.

Mulder stroked her hair, "Scully, I'm so terribly sorry about, about our daughter. I would want to have a daughter like her with you, Scully. She, she's beautiful just like her Mother. Please try not to worry...Oh, my sweet angel. Christ, I love you, Dana. Go to sleep, just relax, let me hold you, I'm here, I..." but he soon stopped talking because it became obvious that Dana Scully was fast asleep.


Wednesday, January 21
6 AM
Dana Scully's Apartment

Scully's eyes popped open when she heard a sigh next to her. After a couple of seconds of sheer disorientation, she realized she was lying on her couch insinuated next to her partner's lanky frame. She smiled.

Scully managed to sit up without waking him. She took a moment to study his face. He seemed so peaceful when he was sleeping. His jaw was slack and his lips had fallen open. He was breathing softly. She hated to wake him, but she had no choice, she had to go to work and finish the tests she'd begun the day before.

She brought one of her small hands up and ran it across his bare chest He'd managed to lose his dress shirt and slacks about an hour after they'd initially fallen asleep. She'd gotten up long enough to slip into an oversized t-shirt. She'd offered to move them both to the bedroom and he'd made some joke about only being able to sleep on the couch.

"Mulder."

"Mmmm, that's nice Scully."

She giggled a little bit, he was still really out of it. "Mulder, I've got to get up."

"No, five more minutes," he grumbled and then reached up and pulled her down to him. His eyes popped open. "Hi." Their noses were just inches apart.

"Mulder," she threatened, "I have to get back to the lab."

"Oh," he said suddenly sobering. He kissed her on the cheek but she turned her head and kissed his lips. She kissed him a little longer than she should have. It was a struggle to back away.

Scully awkwardly climbed over him. "You can sleep awhile longer, but I've got to get to work. I want to go back to the medical center as soon as possible. I really didn't get a good look at Elizabeth's chart."

Mulder reached out and grabbed her hand and placed a warm kiss inside her palm. Scully ruffled his hair. She walked into her bedroom and a thought struck her. She walked around the bed and picked up the phone on the nightstand. She reached over to her discarded jacket she'd brought into her room the previous evening. She fumbled a piece of paper out of one of the pockets. She dialed the number written on the paper.

"Geneteco Medical Center."

"Yes, I need to speak with the nurse on duty on the third floor please."

"One moment, I'll connect you."

"Nurse McCallister."

"Nurse McCallister this is Dana Scully, we met yesterday. I wanted to know how Elizabeth was doing this morning."

"She's fine Ms. Scully. I just checked on her a few minutes ago. Will you and your husband be visiting her again today?"

"I think so. Nurse McCallister, do you still have the number I gave you as we were leaving yesterday?"

"Yes, I promise I'll call you the moment Elizabeth's condition changes, if it changes. I know you're very worried, but we are doing all we can for her Ms. Scully."

"I'm sure you are."


Four Hours Later
FBI Headquarters

Mulder tapped a pencil against the legal pad on his desk. He checked his watch for the third time in the last minute. "God, where is she?" he grumbled aloud. He dropped the pencil on the desk and stood. He began to pace.

Scully asked that he not be in the lab for the procedures she needed to finish. She didn't want to draw any unnecessary attention to what she was doing. If she was alone and he wasn't hovering it would look like she was doing routine tests. Mulder had begrudgingly agreed.

He stopped pacing and stared at the "I Want To Believe" poster behind his desk. Mulder did want to believe. He wanted to believe he and Scully had a child. In a small way, the thought of being a parent frightened him. But the thought of being a parent with Scully made him immensely happy.

Despite his nerves about the tests his partner was performing, he'd been deliriously happy since the previous evening. Mulder felt like a weight had been lifted from them both now that their feelings were out in the open. He smiled. He heard the door open behind him and he spun, expecting to see Scully.

Instead, he saw the red glow of cigarette ash.

"What the fuck do you want?" Mulder spat.

"Now, now Agent Mulder. Temper, temper. I trust you've been to see your daughter by now."

Mulder was a little shocked the Morley sucking bastard came straight to the point.

"Yes," Mulder growled, "we've seen the child you claim to be our daughter."

The Smoker laughed. "I also assume Agent Scully's absence means she's off performing the odd test or two to determine the veracity of my claims She's about to learn I'm telling the truth. But that's not important. I'm here to give you some further information, Agent Mulder."

Mulder crossed his arms across his chest, "I'm listening," he said tersely.

"I told you the child was dying. The hospital is about to run out of the plasma serum I provided them with to keep her at her current level of health. When that runs out she'll die. I don't think either of us want that to happen. I'm here to make you a deal, Mulder. If you agree, I won't replace the serum, I'll merely give the child the cure she needs to survive. But, of course, there is a price."

Mulder's jaw tensed. "What?" he bit out.

"Agent Scully has an implant in the back of her neck, but you know all about that," he drolled smugly, "I think it's time you shared that experience with her, Mulder. You allow us to put a chip in your neck, we allow the child to live. It's really quite simple."

"And what happens if I allow you to put this chip in my neck, aside from your claims to heal the child?" Mulder spat.

"That I can't tell you, Mulder. But I think you already have some idea of how those chips can be used," a sinister smile crossed his lips.

Just then, Scully entered the office. She froze in her tracks when she saw The Smoker. She hastily placed the DNA charts in her hands on the filing cabinet next to the door. She crossed her arms across her chest and stood defiantly in the doorway.

"What the hell is he doing here?" She hissed.

The Smoker took a long drag off of his cigarette and squinted at her. "I'm merely offering your partner a chance to save your daughter's life Agent Scully. She IS your daughter. I would imagine those little negatives you just tried to hide prove my point."

Scully remained silent and merely glared at him. The Smoker turned back to Mulder. "You have 24 hours to decide Mulder." He pulled a piece of paper from his jacket and placed it on Mulder's desk. "Call this number when you make your decision. But you better hurry, those doctors have no idea what they're dealing with."

The Smoker turned and walked toward the door. He stopped next to Scully and stared at her for a long moment. Scully shrank away from him.

"Good day, Agent Scully," he said and walked out the door. Scully looked at her feet.

"Is he right, Scully?"

Scully reached behind her and took the negatives off the filing cabinet She crossed the room and placed them on his desk. She slipped one chart under the other and pointed to a series of blobs on the negative.

"These are DNA markers. The one on top is my DNA, the one on bottom is Elizabeth's." Scully pointed to a series of the blobs that looked just alike. "These markers indicate Elizabeth is my daughter." She shuffled Elizabeth's negative out from her own and placed it under the third negative. "The top sheet is your DNA." She pointed to another set of alike blobs. "These markers indicate you're Elizabeth's father." Scully dropped the sheets back onto his desk.

Mulder put his hands on Scully's shoulders. "I...I don't even know how to react. I mean, were this any other circumstance, I'd be so happy but Scully..."

"Mulder, she is our child. But she was born of some sick experiment, not out of love...you know what I mean...I don't know how to react either. I know we have to do all we can to find out what's wrong with her. She doesn't deserve what's happening to her." She paused and looked into his eyes. "What was all that about having 24 hours to decide, Mulder?"

Mulder tensed and dropped his hands from Scully's shoulders. He turned away from her and walked over toward the corner of their office. He had to get some space from her. He was scared to death of her reaction. Scully would never go for this, how could he tell her? Yet he dare not lie. There was a good chance this little procedure The Smoker suggested would kill him. He balled his fists.

"We do have to do all we can for her Scully. I'm going to do just that very thing," he bit out.

"What are you talking about Mulder...look at me."

Mulder spun to face her. He tried to keep his face neutral but his eyes betrayed him. She started to walk towards him but he held up his hands and she stopped. "The Smoker offered me a deal Scully. I have a chip put in my neck, he'll give Elizabeth the cure she needs."

"And you TRUST him?" Scully asked incredulously.

"Scully, he cured you why should I doubt him?"

"Because he never does anything without personal gain. We have no idea what the chip he gave you to put in my neck will do! We have less of an idea what one in your neck will do. Why should both of us be compromised?"

"To save Elizabeth's life, Scully!" Mulder yelled.

She crossed the room until she was standing in front of him and she pushed him against the wall.

"Fox Mulder you are NOT going to have this done. For all I know he's going to try to kill you and I'm not going to trade one life for another," she yelled back.

"YOU aren't going to trade one life for another. It's MY fucking life, Scully. Who are you to make such a decision for me?" he spat bitterly, "I'll do whatever I damn well please, Dana. This is MY daughter we're talking about here."

"OUR daughter," she shouted raising her hands away from him, "Fuck you, Mulder. You think I'm being selfish for trying to save your life? I don't want to let either of you die. Why can't you let me try to find a cure?"

"Scully, we don't have time for you to do all the work..."

"Oh, my methods are too slow to take a chance on," she moved totally away from him, her fists balled at her sides.

"Scully! You know I have the utmost faith in you, but I think this is bigger than we are, I think we're both outclassed here."

"Now who's the HYPOCRITE!? How dare you stand there and tell me you have faith in me in the same breath you're telling me you can't trust me to find a cure..."

"I never said..."

The jangling of the phone on Mulder's desk interrupted his thought. He crossed the room and jerked the phone off it's cradle.

"Mulder...yes sir, I'll be right up." He hung up the phone. "I have to go see Skinner, we'll talk about this later." He turned and put his jacket on.

"Where the hell do you think you're going, we aren't finished here Mulder!"

"I said, LATER," Mulder yelled as he stormed out the door.

Scully picked up the coffee mug on his desk and hurled it after him. It mashed against the door frame and shattered into a million pieces.

Scully slumped to the floor.


Approximately 11 AM
Outside A.D. Walter Skinner's Office

Mulder strode towards Assistant Director Skinner's office with his head down. He wasn't really looking at anything except the tops of his shoes as he struggled to control his anger. "Just breath in, and out, in, and out," he admonished himself.

He bumped into what was to him a nameless and faceless fellow agent, and he ricocheted off him, spinning away but never straying from his course.

"Excuse me, Mulder," the Agent said, and then, when there was no response, "Hey, Spooky?"

The man's question didn't even register on Mulder's radar as he continued on in his self-absorbed way. "Count to 10, 1, breath in, 2, breath out, 3..." he kept repeating in time to the cadence of his feet.

As he neared Skinner's office he almost had himself under control.e looked up at last to get his bearings. Sharon, Skinner's secretary wasn't at her desk. Mulder raised an eyebrow. He couldn't remember the last time he hadn't seen Sharon at her desk. Skinner's door was open also.

"What's wrong with this picture?" Mulder thought as he moved towards the doorway. Just as he reached the opening, there was a loud thwack and then Skinner swore.

"Fuck him and the horse he road in on!"

Mulder stood in the doorway, his eyes grew wide and both eyebrows shot up Skinner stood behind his desk. The room was empty except for the Assistant Director, but Mulder could smell the cigarette smoke. "I can even see that bastard's toxic cloud in there," Mulder thought. <What the hell is going on here?> Mulder felt renewed anger flooding his chest. He swallowed hard and cleared his throat.

Skinner looked up instantly from the point on his desk where he had thrown his glasses. He was rubbing the bridge of his nose, "Mulder, come in and shut the damn door," he ordered, shutting his eyes.

Mulder took two steps forward and with a forceful shove slammed the door shut with a tremendous crash. Skinner jumped as if he'd been shot. His head jerked round. He caught Mulder's eyes, and Mulder glared at him. Mulder tried to gauge Skinner's thoughts but the Assistant Director's face was set in stone.

"Agent Mulder, sit down please," Skinner commanded, his voice tight as he picked up his glasses. He nodded towards the chair in front of his desk.Mulder stood immobile.

"Sit down, Mulder," Skinner rumbled.

"Sir, I'd rather stand," Mulder stiffly replied.

Skinner finished putting on his glasses and then he fixed Mulder with a piercing stare. His eyes resembled cold steel.

"I said sit down, Agent Mulder."

Mulder moved towards Skinner's desk. His entire body was like a coiled spring. He pulled the chair out that Skinner had indicated for him to sit in and threw it to the side. It tipped over and hit the floor with a loud thud.

"No, sir, I will not sit down," Mulder hissed as his face turned red. His neck muscles tightened and he balled up his fists. His next words came out in a rush and his voice rose an octave with every syllable, "I demand to know what that cowardly piece of shit was doing up here. Why is it that that cancer stick smoking son of a bitch always seems to show up in your office...sir? I mean just why is that really? Would you do me a favor and just tell me so I won't have to sit in here with my thumb up my ass for once? Would you mind telling me, sir? *Enquiring* minds want to know!"

Skinner's face flushed crimson. He took three short strides around the desk and grabbed Mulder by his coat lapels. Skinner pulled Mulder close and shouted into his face, "YOU DEMAND, MISTER? WHAT GIVES YOU THE RIGHT TO DEMAND ANYTHING OF ME YOU LITTLE SHIT?"

Mulder twisted in Skinner's grasp and yelled back, "The fact that he's trying to kill my daughter gives me the right you bald-headed, tight assed, son of..."

"THAT WILL BE QUITE ENOUGH AGENT MULDER," Skinner spat and then he threw Mulder down into the chair that the younger man hadn't tipped over. Mulder landed hard and Skinner straddled the stunned Agent as he gasped for breath. Skinner placed a hand on either arm of the chair and pressed his face close to Mulder's nose.

"Now you shut up and listen to me, you insubordinate idiot," the A.D hissed, "I don't know what you mean by *he's trying to kill my daughter*, all right? If you'll sit there calmly I might let you explain that to me But let me tell you this first. If you have even one infinitesimal suspicion that I might be in league with that devil you are sadly mistaken I'm not in collusion with that cocksucker. I'm on your side Mulder. I always have been on your side, and in your and Dana Scully's corner. In point of fact I called you in here to tell you that prick just paid me a visit. And if you don't believe I'm telling the truth, then get your sorry ass up out of that chair, and take it out of my office. Go back to the basement, you faithless prick. I'm sick of dealing with your shit."

Skinner stared into Mulder's eyes for a few more seconds and then he removed his hands from the chair arms. He stood up and walked back over behind his desk and shuffled the papers on his blotter.

"Sir, Agent Scully and I have a daughter," Mulder whispered.

"What?" Skinner replied looking up, "What did you say?"

"I said Dana Scully and I have a daughter," Mulder repeated and then he sighed, "and I'm sorry I blew up, sir."

Skinner's lips tightened even further and he sat down behind his desk slowly, "Never mind the earlier histrionics, Mulder. You'd better explain what the hell you're talking about."

Mulder went through a brief explanation regarding both Elizabeth and Emily He described what the Cigarette Smoking Man and Marita Covarrubias had done to him and Scully. He detailed as much as he knew regarding Elizabeth's and Emily's medical history. He ended by explaining about the disease that had killed Emily and now threatened to kill Elizabeth. As he talked his hands shook slightly and Skinner listened without interruption.

"Sir, Scully did a DNA test, Elizabeth is definitely our daughter. We've accepted the fact that Emily was as well. But, as I've explained neither was conceived in the way nature intended their conception to take place Sir, for all intents and purposes that maniac raped me and Dana Scully. He created those two little girl from what he stole from us both."

"And you say Elizabeth's ill? She's also got some kind of alien DNA that's given her the same disease that killed Scully's, uh, your other daughter...Emily?" Skinner asked, "Mulder this is hard to believe," he quickly added.

"I know, sir, and I wish it wasn't true, believe me. But, you're correct Elizabeth has the same disease and it's slowly killing her just like it killed Emily."

"God damn him," Skinner interjected in a low voice.

"I'd like to think he would, sir," Mulder replied quietly, running a hand across his mouth.

Skinner watched Mulder for a moment, and then he squinted his eyes and said, "There's one other thing I don't quite understand Agent Mulder."

"Sir?"

"Why did Cancer Man choose you as Elizabeth's biological father? I mean he could have chosen anyone, himself even. I would have thought that would have appealed to him more. He's sick enough."

Mulder studied Skinner's face and body language carefully. Everything that he saw said Skinner's question told him two things. The first was that he really didn't have anything to do with Cancer Man. If Skinner had been part of the conspiracy he would have known why Cancer Man had used Mulder's sperm. He would also have been in on the deal with the devil regarding the implant. The second thing was that Skinner had no idea that he and Scully had any type of relationship other than professional. Mulder breathed a sigh of relief.

"Sir, I have no idea. Maybe it was because I was easily accessible at the time. Maybe because I'm Scully's partner and friend. He did try to goad Scully by telling her he'd been kind enough to use the sperm from someone she knew. I don't really have any idea what was going through his mind."

"Well, It's probably going to be hard to find out the real reason Mulder, I'm sorry," Skinner replied sincerely.

"Thank you, sir. And uh, I would like to apologize for blowing up earlier Seriously."

"Well, just try not to let it happen again, Mulder. I don't like to get physical like I did with you. It's...unprofessional."

"Not to mention one-sided," Mulder grinned slightly.

"Yeah, that's twice I've whipped your butt," Skinner quipped with a gruff chuckle.

"For what it's worth, sir," Mulder hastened to add, "I don't believe you're involved with Cancer Man. I don't think deep down that I ever did. This whole situation with Scully and Elizabeth and...well, it's been difficult, I..."

Skinner held up his hand, "Mulder, that's fine, skip it, all right. I accept your apology, let it rest. I know what you've been going through, believe me," Skinners eyes were cold as he said the last words.

"Yes, sir," Mulder replied with a nod of his head.

"Now, where are you going with this Mulder?" Skinner asked.

"Well, Scully and I have a lead to Cancer Man's whereabouts that we'd like to pursue. Also, we'd like to go back to Maryland to, uh, see... our daughter before she..." Mulder let his voice trail off. He trusted Skinner now, but he knew better than to tell him just what he really planned to do to save his daughter. He knew the A.D. wouldn't approve and if he didn't know about the implant he certainly couldn't prevent Mulder from going through with the procedure.

"All right. Fine," Skinner replied with slight embarrassment. He lowered his eyes to the papers on his desk again, and continued, "Uh, see to it that you and Agent Scully report back to me as soon as possible."

"Yes, sir," Mulder replied.

"And Mulder," Skinner added looking back up at the Agent, "I want to help you two out on this one. I'm going to pay some of my government and Bureau connections a little visit. I'll see if I can dig up any more information for you and Scully. I'll turn over every rotten rock I can to roust that cigarette smoking cockroach. I'll contact you soon with anything I find out."

"Thank you, sir. I appreciate the effort."

"Appreciation is all well and good, Mulder, but I have one additional request," Skinner asked.

"What, sir?"

"When you and Scully have that bastard dead to rights I want to be in on the coups de grace - all right. And it'll be off the record, Fox. This is payback time. I owe that fucker for making my life a living hell, and ruining my reputation with anyone I really care about. He's going to pay, and if I have to break some rules to see that he gets what he deserves, I will. Do I make myself clear?"

"As crystal, sir."

"Good. You're dismissed then, Agent Mulder. And don't slam the door on your way out.


Nurse McCallister made her way into a lab area to retrieve the serum she'd been instructed to give to Elizabeth Fox. She fumbled briefly with her keys and opened the cabinet. The door stuck as she tried to open it and she yanked on it a little too hard.

The door came open suddenly with a jerk and several bottles in the cabinet overturned and crashed to the floor, nearly hitting the startled nurse. She swore under her breath. Several of the bottles had broken, including the bottle of serum Elizabeth Fox needed. It was the last bottle in the cabinet.


Wednesday, January 21
FBI Headquarters
Approximately 11:45 AM

Scully's head was throbbing. She and Mulder had to stop having arguments like this. If they were going to get through this ordeal they had to work together. She rubbed her temples lightly and slowly got up from her seated position on the floor. She walked to her desk and pulled the drawer open She fished around and finally found a bottle of Tylenol. She swallowed the tablets dry.

Scully sat back down at her desk and realized again how bone tired she was She and Mulder had gotten a little sleep the night before but all the days without sleep had caught up with her. She laid her head on her desk.

"Why won't he work with me on this? Why does he have to try and run off and be the hero?" she asked her desk blotter bitterly.

Scully raised her head slightly and stared at the shattered remains of the coffee mug near the doorway. "I'm going crazy," she told herself silently, "First I'm throwing a coffee mug, then I'm having a deep conversation with my desk blotter." She dimly wondered what Skinner wanted from Mulder.

She decided she should just go find out. As she rose to leave, the phone rang.

"Dana Scully."

"Ms. Scully this is Nurse McCallister at the Geneteco Medical Center."

"Yes," Scully answered wearily.

"Ms. Scully, Elizabeth's taken a turn for the worse. I really think you and your husband should get here as soon as possible."

Scully gripped the phone tightly. She'd heard countless doctors and nurses use that tone with families of patients. Elizabeth was in trouble and, from the sound of it, serious trouble. Scully felt a knot bind its way around her stomach.

"I'll be right there," Scully said dimly and hung up the phone.

She grabbed her legal pad from her desk to write Mulder a note.

>>Mulder,

The medical center called to tell me that Elizabeth's condition has worsened. I had to leave to go up there because they said we should come right away. Please meet me up there when you are through talking with Skinner. I fear we're running out of time.

And please don't do anything rash. I need your help Mulder. We have to work together on this. I'm sorry we argued, but I don't think the solution you were offered is plausible. Call me when you get back and let me know when you are leaving.

DKS<<

She paused and started to write "I love you" at the bottom of the note, but thought better of it. The office walls had eyes, ears and occasionally hands. That wasn't information she was ready for anyone else to know. She grabbed her purse and keys and ran out the door.


Ten Minutes Later...

Mulder froze in the doorway. His foot had just crushed a piece of broken ceramic. He stared at the broken shards of Scully's FBI Academy coffee mug "Shit!" He swore aloud.

He walked back out into the hallway and made his way to the janitor's closet. Mulder had actually been glad their office was close to it with the amount of destruction the two them had caused of late. He told himself mentally they had to stop arguing like that. It was simply taking too much out of them. He sighed heavily and pulled out the broom and dustpan.

He wondered where Scully was. He assumed she'd just gone out to get some air. He was still angry about the argument they'd had but his anger was lessening. He felt like a real shit heel for yelling at her. "God, why am I so on edge?" he asked himself. He finished sweeping up the mess and returned the broom and dustpan to the closet.

He walked over to his desk and finally saw Scully's note. He read it over three times but his eyes kept coming back to one line.

"I fear we're running out of time."

He folded the paper up and placed it in his pocket and pulled out the piece of paper The Smoker had given him. He slumped heavily in his chair. He was actually afraid. He had absolutely no idea what they would do to him once he gave himself up for this. But could he actually ake a chance of saying no when his daughter's life was on the line? He thought not. He stared dimly at the piece of paper before him and hesitantly picked up the phone His fingers trembled as he dialed the number.

The number rang a couple of times and then someone picked it up but said nothing.

"It's Mulder," he breathed into the phone.

Mulder heard the person on the other end of the line exhale slowly, "That didn't take you long, Fox," a smoky voice answered.


Wednesday, January 21
Geneteco Medical Center 12:01 PM

Scully's heels clacked loudly on the deserted hallway floor of the Geneteco Medical Center. She was a little confused to not see any doctors or nurses milling around on the third floor. It had seemed so busy when she and Mulder were there before. There was no one even at the nurse's station.

As she drew closer to the nurse's station she could see a lot of activity just down the hall from it. She suddenly felt sick. All of

the activity was in front of, and possibly inside, Elizabeth's room. Scully broke into a run.

Just as she was about to get to the room Nurse McCallister stepped out of it. Scully stopped.

"What's going on?" Scully asked in a tense voice.

McCallister pulled her aside, out of earshot of the other staff members "We've run out of the serum we'd been giving Elizabeth, there was an accident and our last container of the substance was broken. She is in serious condition and we're attempting to stabilize her until we get more serum. Dr. Kerry has been working feverishly to find more, but for some reason he can't get it from the supplier, which I find highly suspicious He also tells me you're an FBI Agent. Do you have any more surprises for me Ms. Scully?"

Scully raised an eyebrow at the woman and crossed her arms over her chest "As part of this investigation, I'm really not allowed to speak freely with you on the subject. I will tell you I am a doctor and you had better find more of that serum or the child will die. I've already watched one child die under similar circumstances. I will also tell you that I'm not Elizabeth's aunt. I'm her mother."

The nurse's eyes went wide with shock. Scully pushed past her roughly.

"I want to see my daughter."

She got to the door of Elizabeth's room and was stopped by Dr. Kerry "Elizabeth is in a coma, Agent Scully. I know you had a remote amount of success with the daughter you discovered in San Diego. Do you have any suggestions on how to get the serum or how to keep Elizabeth alive?"

"Let me see her chart."


Ten Minutes Later...

Nurse McCallister let herself into a private office whose owner wouldn't be in until that evening. She shut the door behind her and made her way to the phone. She pulled a scrap of paper from her pocket and dialed the number scrawled across the ripped page.

"Yes," an icy female voice answered.

"She's here, Marita. The child is quite sick...in a coma."

"Oh, I've been attempting to find the man who can get you the serum but I've had no luck. Is Agent Scully's partner with her?

"No. She's not saying much either. She's begun to run tests on the girl She had some experience with her first daughter I'm assuming, but it doesn't look good."

"I see. Call me when you have more information or if something happens to the child."


Wednesday, January 21
Geneteco Medical Center
Approximately 11 PM

Scully sat in the hard, yellow chair next to Elizabeth's bed. She was worrying the child's fingers in her hand. Scully was fighting hard to keep her eyes open. It had been an exhausting day. She had helped the doctors there try everything they could to stabilize the child and bring her out of the coma. They had not succeeded.

Scully was also extremely angry that the broken bottle of serum had been incinerated making it impossible for her to analyze what was in it. Weak tears leaked from her eyes. At least Elizabeth wasn't in any pain. Scully's shoulders slumped. She felt so abandoned. Elizabeth's body had given up The doctors were all at a loss and were refusing to come in the room Scully had the distinct impression they'd been ordered too. Even Nurse McCallister was keeping her distance. Worst of all, Mulder still hadn't shown up. If she wasn't so tired, Scully dimly thought, she'd be livid.

She wished she could pray but she felt like a hypocrite. But then she realized she didn't have a prayer against the people she was up against More tears fell. "Dammit Mulder where are you!" She swore aloud.

She reached for her cell phone in the pocket of the trenchcoat draped over the end of the bed. She dialed Mulder's cell phone. There wasn't an answer She tried his home phone and got the machine. She left a terse message.

"Mulder, I really need you to be here. Call me as soon as you get this." She hung up.

She rose from her chair and sat on the bed next to Elizabeth's comatose form. She wrapped her arms around the small girl and held her. She laid her head against the hard wall. Her eyes finally drifted shut and she fell into a restless sleep.


Thursday, January 22
Geneteco Medical Center
Approximately 3:45 AM

A loud beeping noise startled Scully out of her sleep. She looked over at Elizabeth and immediately realized she wasn't breathing. Her head whipped around and saw on the monitor. Elizabeth was flatlining. Just then a host of doctors and nurses entered the room.

Scully was too numb to move. She merely stood by and watched as the doctors repeatedly tried to restart Elizabeth's heart. No one even seemed to notice Scully was there. Finally, one of the doctors shook his head.

"It's no use she's gone."

"NOOOO!" Scully screamed. "You have to keep trying!" She made a move to grab the paddles from the man but one of the other doctors grabbed her and pulled her into the hallway and pushed her into an empty room.

"I know this is hard for you, but we've done all we can. She's with God now." He dropped her arms and walked out of the room. Scully slumped against the cold wall and fell to the floor. She sat there shaking for several seconds before she noticed a crucifix on the wall across from her She scrambled to her feet and ran across the room and pulled the bject from the wall. She screamed and threw it at the window, shattering the glass The cross dropped to the street below.

She left the room and walked back into Elizabeth's. An orderly was changing the sheets. The nurses had already wheeled Elizabeth's body away.

"Get out," Scully spat at the orderly and he complied.

She picked up her trench coat and found her cell phone again. She tried Mulder's cell and home phones again to no avail. She numbly dialed her own number on the off chance he'd left a message for her. Her answering machine coolly announced she had a message. Scully punched in the code.

<<Message received at 9 P-M.>>>

BEEEEEP...

"Scully, it's me. I got your note and I know we don't have much time That's why I've decided to go ahead with that procedure. I tried to call you earlier but you didn't answer your phone. I assume you must have been busy with Elizabeth.

Scully, I know you don't agree with me but I think it's our only hope I don't want to leave you Dana. But if risking my life will save our daughter's, I have to do this. I know you are strong enough to go on without me. You've always been the strong one.

But, if your back's against the wall, call Skinner. I mean it. He understands more than you know Scully. When I talked to him today he told me he wants that smoking bastard to pay too. Scully he's in our corner, and he's willing to break the rules to bring him in. Call him if you need his help. Please don't hesitate to do it.

I know we had harsh words this morning and I'm sorry. Dana...I love you. I will love you forever, but I can't bear the pain I saw you go through after you lost Emily a second time. I've done so very little for you, the least I can do is assure that another of your children...our child lives. I'll love you forever Dana. Goodbye."

Scully collapsed against the wall behind her.


Location Unknown
Approximately 4:00 AM

Marita Covarrubias pulled the squawking piece of plastic that was her cell phone up to her ear and hit the send button.

"Yes," she hissed.

"Where are you?" The Smoker asked her.

"I'm on my way to Geneteco. Mulder's daughter has died."

"Excellent. See to it you get your hands on Agent Scully. I don't want her telling her partner. I'm on my way to see to it Agent Mulder goes through with his earlier agreement."

"Oh, I'll make sure matters are taken care of," she said with venom."Fine Collect Agent Scully and bring her to the location I gave you earlier. I'll enjoy allowing her to watch what's going to happen to her partner."


Outside Fox Mulder's Apartment
4:03 AM

Mulder stood next to the dumpster outside his apartment. The Smoker had called to tell him to meet him there for further instructions. Mulder's hand rested uneasily on the Sig beneath his coat. He wanted to be prepared for anything. He kept a nervous eye on the street before him and a wary ear on the alleyway behind him.

Mulder's thoughts drifted to Scully. He was scared. He knew this was a risky stunt but he had to try, for her. Always for Scully. Without him she'd probably have a successful career as a pathologist with kids and a loving husband. Without her, the X-Files wouldn't have moved as far along as they had and he would be dying inside. He chastised himself for the thought. <Damn it why are you always thinking of yourself. It's time you gave something back to Scully...give her back her child...our child, even if it means taking myself away. She's better off without me.>

He hung his head and felt bitter tears sting his eyes. An optimistic thought surfaced in the back of his brain. Maybe the procedure would be just what the Cancer Man said it would be, just a chip in the back of his neck. Mulder had guessed they were using Scully's to track her movements or monitor something else inside her they didn't know about. It obviously controlled her cancer. He shuddered at the thought of what would happen if they decided to reverse whatever they'd done to make the disease go away.

Anger seeped into his blood. He had to live to protect her from that. He clenched the fist of his free hand. He had to stay sharp for this little game. He had to find a way to get a cure for Elizabeth without compromising himself...

All of his thoughts faded as he felt a sharp pain in the back of his neck and then passed out in a heap on the cold ground next to his apartment.

The Smoker crushed a cigarette out under his foot and stared at Mulder's prone body. A thin smile crossed his lips. "That should make you so very cooperative, Agent Mulder."

He pulled Mulder's body up and dragged it towards the white van in the alleyway. He hated having to do this sort of administrative work himself, but so many of his operatives had failed when it came to Mulder in the past. "If you want a job done right, do it yourself," he told himself quietly. Besides, he was really looking forward to seeing Scully's reaction to her partner's torture. He certainly hoped his blonde bitch had succeeded in collaring her.

The Smoker got Mulder to the van. The driver got out. "Can I help you get him inside sir?" The Smoker nodded at Mulder's feet and the driver picked them up. They unceremoniously tossed him into the back of the van and were on their way.


Geneteco Medical Center
4:05 AM

Scully's eyes blinked open. It took her a few seconds to realize where she was. Then the whole sickening situation came flooding back to her with frightening clarity. She took several deep breaths and calmed herself and stood up. She felt weak but she knew she had to pull it together and find Mulder before he went through with the procedure.

Scully walked into the hallway and headed for the elevator. A group of people were standing there and as she approached she heard one of them remark how long they'd been waiting. She passed the elevator and opted for the stairs a few steps away. Making her way down the steps she tried to list the places she thought Mulder would be. God, how would she find him in time? She had no idea of even knowing when they were planning this little torture session. <Get a hold of yourself and think, Dana.>

She pushed the exit door open with a burst of angry energy. It swung open and hit something on the other side. Scully heard a groan and a dull thud Hand on her gun, Scully stepped outside and planted her feet firmly in front of Marita Covarrubias' prone body. Marita lay stunned and Scully quickly put her weapon back in its holster. Scully's hands flew straight to the lapels of Marita's trench coat. She pulled the blonde woman up and slammed her roughly against the wall. Adrenaline had taken over and Scully no longer felt weak. Dana Scully was mad as hell.

"What the fuck are you doing here?" Scully had instantly recognized her from her DMV photo. She was glad that Mulder had suggested she run Marita's DMV records earlier. It was a great way to find out what Ms. Blonde Bombshell looked like. "God, she even looks just like her driver's license photo." Scully sneered inwardly, "It figures."

The image of the woman holding a vial of Mulder's semen crept into her head unbidden. "I've seen her before in my nightmares, haven't I?" She thought horrified.

Scully roughly pulled the woman's coat open and rifled around inside and found a small hand gun. "Answer me," Scully hissed but Marita remained silent. Scully pulled the weapon from its holster and placed in the waistband of her pants.

Marita took advantage of Scully only having one hand on her to wriggle free. She pushed Scully away violently. Scully stumbled back a few steps then launched herself at Marita. Scully crashed into her body and they both fell to the ground against a dumpster.

Marita reached behind her head with her one free hand and found a small wooden object, but it was heavy. She grabbed it and brought it crashing down against Scully's shoulder. Marita heard Scully groan as Marita noticed the object she'd used to hit her attacker was a crucifix. Marita's momentary pause allowed Scully to wrestle it away from her and bring a small fist crashing against Marita's face. Marita's head twisted around from the impact.

The blonde's head snapped back around and she brought the cross back up towards Scully's head. Scully saw it this time and quickly ducked away. The move allowed Marita to roll from under her. They were both standing, facing one another. Scully swung her leg up and kicked the cross out of Marita's hand and Scully lunged for her. The two women came crashing together landing punches and slaps.

Marita managed to back away from Scully and started to run but tripped over a large hunk of wood next to the dumpster. Scully pounced. She twisted Marita's body over until they were facing one another. The blonde woman's face and shoulder's were illuminated by an overhead light. Marita's shirt had become torn in the scuffle and just under the ruined silk garment Scully could see the faint lines of a bruise on her neck. A bruise that had the exact markings of fingers. Scully's eyebrow shot skyward.

"You feel like answering my question now Ms. Covarrubias?"

Marita swallowed. She wondered just how she was going to get Scully to believe she wanted to help her save Mulder. She also wondered how the red-haired woman knew who she was. But knowing Mulder, he'd found a way to let Scully know. If anything, Marita knew the two agents were a formidable team.

"Perhaps you don't like that question, Marita," Scully spat, "How about you tell me just where the hell my partner is and why you all are playing this little game?" Scully pushed down harder on the blonde's shoulders.

Marita let out a low groan. "I...I do know where Mulder is. I also know they're planning on putting a chip in his neck like yours...or at least that's what I was told they were going to do. Agent Scully...I want to help you stop Jo...my employer. What he's doing to these children is wrong. I know you lost your daughter tonight. I've had three children taken from me in much the same way. I know you may not believe me but you've got nothing else to go on right now...you need to trust me," she breathed.

The image of what the blonde woman had done to Mulder crept into Scully's mind unbidden. Scully felt another surge of anger, but she fought it back Marita was right. At the moment, Marita was her only hope of finding Mulder. Scully just had to figure out how she was going to keep the upper hand in this situation. Mulder's voice suddenly echoed in her head.

"But, if your back's against the wall, call Skinner. I mean it. He understands more than you know, Scully."

Scully sat back and let Marita stand up, but she still kept a hand clasped tightly on the blonde woman's arm. She reached back into her trenchcoat and found her handcuffs. "Give me your hands," Scully commanded. Marita complied and Scully snapped the metal bracelets around Marita's wrists.

"OK, you'll get out of those when we find Mulder safe and sound. From this point forward you do as I say when I say. Is that clear?"

Marita nodded. Scully pushed her in the direction of the parking lot "Now," she said in a controlled voice, "what's with those finger bruises on your neck. I was pretty rough on you but someone else has been too."

"My employer did that to me," she replied matter of factly, "he likes it rough...and so do I."

"You're lovers?" Scully asked incredulously.

"Yes, why is that such a surprise, Agent Scully. You and Agent Mulder have a child together."

Scully cringed. The very idea of that nicotine smelling man touching anyone repulsed her, let alone the idea of him beating someone. And Marita, someone that poised liking it rough? Scully shook her head, "Get your mind on the task at hand here," she told herself silently.

"Agent Mulder and I have a child together because YOU took his sperm and your cigarette smoking friend took my ova!" Scully swallowed and composed herself. "All of that is immaterial at the moment, Ms. Covarrubias, why don't you tell me where it is we're going?"


Twenty Minutes Later
I-95 South Towards Washington

Scully glanced at Marita Covarrubias and then picked up her cell phone. he hit the sequence for her second speed dial number and brought the hone to her ear.

A gruff voice answered the phone, "Yeah..."

"It's Scully," she said tersely, "I've got one of our smoking friend's associates with me. It seems Agent Mulder is about to have a chip put in his neck. He's been duped into thinking it will save a dying child...my dying child, who is now dead," she continued bitterly.

"Christ, Scully," Walter Skinner replied, "Look, Mulder told me who the father is...I know...Agent Scully, do you need something?"

"Yes sir. I'd like you to meet me at the abandoned building facing Lee's Chinese Takeout on H street, it's just a few blocks from Headquarters. It's a red brick building with the word Temple on the top. Do you know the building I'm talking about?"

"I know where Lee's is, I'll find it. How long until you're there?"

"About 15 minutes sir. I'll park my car a block or so down from the building and wait for you to get there. How long will it take you?"

"I'll be there in twenty Agent Scully."

Scully hung up the phone and placed in back in the pocket of her trenchcoat. Marita was staring at her.

"Calling out the calvary, Agent Scully?"

Scully kept her eyes on the road. "I don't particularly want to fall into a trap, Ms. Covarrubias. I plan on playing every card I've got...including you if I have to," Scullysaid evenly.

Marita looked at her cuffed hands in her lap. "I know you don't trust me, as well you shouldn't. I was ordered to get to you before you found Mulder I would imagine they have him now. Otherwise, I wouldn't have been told to bring you to this address. HE wants you to watch what happens to Mulder," she said icily.

Scully tightened her grip on the steering wheel. "So, is that the real reason you came to the Medical Center?"

"No, I told you I want to bring the bastard down. I knew as long as he had Mulder I could count on your help. I'm not stupid Agent Scully, I can see how much you care about your partner. It was practically coming off of you in waves when you were at his bedside in the arctic," she gave Scully a sinister smile, "I almost felt guilty making him come for me when he thought it was you. Almost. He's an attractive man. I can see why you'd be so interested...but he's a little too sensitive for me, not strong willed enough. I'll bet he's a real gentleman in bed, isn't he Agent Scully? I mean he must be very tender and thoughtful, right?"

Scully thought her nails were going to go straight through the plastic of the steering wheel. "No, do not let her goad you into an argument, Dana, she's trying to take advantage of your anger," she told herself silently Scully clenched her teeth, then composed herself. Two could play at this game.

"Actually, Marita," Scully said disdainfully, "Mulder's a beast in bed. An animal. I love it too. We're into bondage. I've worn that pair of handcuffs you have on your wrists a number of times." She kept her eyes pinned on the road so as not to betray the lie she'd just told. "Not a lie," her mind supplied, "You merely participated in a campaign of misinformation."

Marita snorted. She knew Scully was lying. She could see it in her face Dana Scully didn't break rules unless she had good cause to. Mulder was one of those causes, but Marita had a feeling Mulder and Scully hadn't crossed that line...yet. But Marita had accomplished her goal. She needed Scully to be angry enough to break lots of rules and a few heads if need be. Marita knew they were about to face the fight of their lives against The Smoker and his minions and victory was excessively important to her. She wanted to pay the bastard back in spades. She fully intended to have Scully ready to beat the hell out of anyone. Their lives depended on it.


An Abandoned Building Near Lee's Chinese Takeout
Approximately 5:00 AM

Fox Mulder struggled to clear his head. "Where the hell am I?" he thought muzzily as his vision began to clear. He was lying on some kind of table, face down and naked. He could feel the cold surface below him. His balls were crushed uncomfortably against his thigh. He shifted in a vain attempt to rearrange himself. He tried to move his arms and legs ut they were bound down to the table with leather straps. He glanced around as much as his head would allow him and he could see he was in some kind of operating theater. A door was set in the wall on his right. Bright lights illuminated the entire scene. He blinked.

"Fuck me!" he cursed aloud as the memories of where he most likely was and what was going to happen to him suddenly flooded back into his head.

"Not this time, Agent Mulder," a voice chuckled hoarsely somewhere near his feet.

Mulder craned his head around but he couldn't quite stretch far enough to see. Of course he didn't really need to look. He could smell the cigarette smoke.

The Cancer Man walked forward and bent slightly from the waist. His head was on the same level as Mulder's then and he blew acrid smoke into his eyes.

Mulder coughed loudly, "Don't you know second hand smoke causes lung cancer?" he hissed shutting his watering eyes, "Cut the crap, tall, dark and gruesome, let's get this show on the road!"

Cancer Man threw his cigarette down and crushed it under his foot, "All in good time, Agent Mulder, all in good time," he replied taking a step back.

Mulder sighed. He should have realized this sick fuck would want to prolong the moment. It was just like him to decide to twist the knife a little Mulder didn't want to play into the game though. He definitely wasn't in the mood. He remained mute and just stared at a spot a foot or so in front of his face.

Cancer Man watched for a reaction and when none came he spoke again, "I expected you'd have more to say, Mulder. You're usually so loquacious Don't you want to know exactly what we're going to do to you?"

"Not really, it's beside the point isn't it? You agreed to save my... our daughter if I submitted to this procedure. I don't really care what you do now as long as you stick to the deal."

The Smoker stared at Mulder for a fraction of a second and then he said, "I'd be happy to stick to our deal, Mulder, but unfortunately your daughter is dead.""What?" Mulder asked as if he hadn't heard him.

"I said your daughter died, Mulder. Agent Scully was with her however, so at least she had the comfort of her Mother as she...crossed over."

"You lying sack of shit, I don't believe you," Mulder whispered hoarsely "It has to be a lie," he thought, "God, please don't let it be true."

"Whatever, Mulder. Believe as you please. But at any rate, all bets are off now. Just relax and...go with the flow." Cancer man replied, an evil smile playing about his lips.

Mulder gazed at him and labored to hold his face immobile. He didn't want to give the Smoking Man even one clue regarding the emotional turmoil his remark had created in his heart and mind.

"How are we doing in here?" a cheery voice interrupted them. The Smoker glanced back towards the door. A man in surgical scrubs had just entered He was pushing a small sheet covered wheeled table ahead of him. He strode over and stood next to the Cancer Man. He hadn't bothered to put on his surgical mask. It still lay where it was tied around his neck. Mulder stared up into his face.

"Dr. Kerry, I presume?" Mulder sneered.

"Nice to see you again, Agent Mulder.""Sorry I can't say the pleasure's mutual," Mulder coldly replied.

Kerry's smile broadened slightly and he made to speak again but the Cancer Man interrupted him.

"That will do, gentlemen. Dr. Kerry, are we ready to begin this procedure?"

"Yes, sir, I'm just waiting for Dr. Kim." Kerry promptly replied.

"The anesthesiologist?" Cancer Man asked.

"Right," Kerry confirmed.

"You're going to sedate me?" Mulder asked concern in his voice.

"Why, Agent Mulder. I thought you said you didn't want to know anything else about our little surgical procedure." The Cancer Man's evil smile sent a chill down Mulder's spine.

"Didn't you tell him?" Dr. Kerry asked as he glanced behind him. A shorter Asian man was just coming in the door, "Dr. Kim," he said in way of a greeting. Dr. Kim inclined his head and crossed to the opposite side of the gurney where Mulder lay. He sat down on a stool next to Mulder's arm. He busied himself with the IV equipment and other monitors that were there.

"So?" Mulder prompted as the Cigarette Smoking man crossed his arms.

"No," he spat out at Dr. Kerry, "Why don't you explain, Dr. Kerry?"

Mulder swiveled his head from the Cancer Man to Dr. Kerry. He winced slightly as he felt Dr. Kim insert the IV into the back of his hand.

"Well, all right," Dr. Kerry puffed up slightly, clearly happy to be at center stage. He had moved to the covered table. Pulling the sheet back he started to move things around on the table top. Mulder tried to see but his head wouldn't quite allow him a good view once again.

Kerry was speaking again and Mulder gave him his attention, "Agent Mulder, we are going to put an implant in the back of your neck as you were told I'm not going to go into all the technology behind the chip but I know you've assumed that part of it's purpose involves monitoring of your brain's function. You would be correct in that assumption. The insertion procedure for this chip doesn't really need a general anesthetic."

"So, far you haven't told me anything I didn't all ready suspect," Mulder replied with annoyance.

"Patience, patience, Mulder," Cancer Man interjected as he fished into his suitcoat pocket for his Morleys."Can I ask you not to do that in here?" Dr Kim admonished gesturing with his head towards the oxygen containers that sat against the wall next to his stool.

The Smoker frowned but he returned the cigarettes to his coat pocket. Dr Kerry had moved close to Mulder and he began to swab a Betadine solution on the back of his neck with a swab held in sterile forceps.

"So, can someone tell me the rest of this boring little story before I freeze my nuts off in here?" Mulder asked in exasperation.

Dr. Kerry barked out a harsh laugh, "Well, Mr. Mulder you've sort of beaten me to my next point anyway." He walked down towards his ass and then he stood looking down at him.

Mulder could sense Dr. Kim doing something to the top of the IV stand and he surmised that he was getting ready to either start the drip or infuse the anesthetic into his veins. He knew he didn't have much time for any more verbal fencing.

"Cut the shit, Kerry and just spit it out. What the fuck are you babbling about?"

"What Dr. Kerry is trying to tell you...Fox...is that we have several experiments we'd like you to act as a participant in. You will recall Agent Scully's earlier donation to our cause? The harvesting of her ova?"

Mulder stared back at the Cancer Man. Dawning horror began to etch itself into his face.

"Yes, I see you remember her donation. Well, we'd like to thank you for yours as well. And now we'd like to thank you for allowing us to make more, shall we say, extensive use of your...contribution."

Dr. Kerry had moved very close and suddenly Mulder lurched up violently in his bonds as Kerry's hands plunged roughly between his legs and gripped his balls.

"Jesus..." Mulder screamed as Kerry swabbed his scrotum with ice cold antiseptic fluid.

"Jesus? Yes, that might be appropriate, Fox, after all he was a product of immaculate conception as well, was he not?" The Cancer Man quipped and then he turned on his heels and walked out the door.

Mulder's eyes rolled up in their sockets and his head lolled sideways. Dr Kim injected more anesthetic into his IV and Mulder sank into oblivion.


Near Lee's Chinese Takeout
Approximately 5:00 AM

The street was relatively empty and quiet as Dana Scully drove past block after block of old or abandoned buildings. She scanned for addresses on store fronts and warehouses. She thought she remembered the location of Lee's, but it was damned hard to pick out the exact spot. All the buildings tended to blur together and looked so much alike in her shell shocked mind.

"Just a little further," Marita Covarrubias advised from the seat beside her. She shifted and tried to rub her hand cuffed wrists against the front of her skirt. Scully didn't reply. She merely continued to scan the numbers on the buildings.

Finally, she spotted what she was looking for all along. Scully braked her car a block down and across the street from Lee's Chinese Takeout. She could clearly see the word TEMPLE in peeling paint on the facade of the red brick building next to it. Scully glanced at Marita, her eyebrow raised.

"Yes, that's it, don't worry. He's in there," Marita Covarrubias whispered shifting uncomfortably. "God, I wish this red headed bitch would take these cuffs off. They're cutting off my circulation," she sighed inwardly.

Scully glanced at her watch and turned off the ignition, "Where the hell's Skinner?" she thought in irritation, "He should be here by now."

A metallic blue, Ford Taurus pulled up a half block further down from Scully's car. As soon as the car came to a halt the driver's side door swung open and A. D. Walter Skinner climbed out.

Scully looked over at Marita and ordered, "Stay here and keep quiet."

Marita stared back at Scully with hooded eyes, "What about these handcuffs?" she asked holding her wrists up. She shook the cuffs for emphasis.

"Just sit tight," Scully answered and then she pulled open her own car door and stepped out. She shut the door and Marita dropped her hands back into her lap.

"Agent Scully." Skinner rumbled in greeting as he reached Scully's side. He leaned around Scully to peer through the window of her car. "Shit, I recognize that woman," he thought.

"Scully is that..." Skinner began.

"Marita Covarrubias. She works for United Nations Office Of Special Representative to the Secretary General. She's also one of Mulder's contacts. I just found out she's in league with the, uh, Cigarette Smoking Man."

"Yeah, we've met," Skinner grated. He was more than familiar with the leggy blonde. Their introduction didn't bring back very fond memories, "What the hell is she doing here?" he asked.

"Well, apparently she doesn't agree with The Smokers plans any longer. I guess she's having a crisis of conscious, sir. She told me where Mulder was being held and then she said she wants to get back at her boss as well."

"Can we trust her?" Skinner asked.

"I think so, sir. Um, it appears she had a relationship with that bastard He...abused her. She has the marks on her throat. I think she's mad enough to make him pay. I would be if it were me. We have to take her word that she's sincere. I think we're going to need her help to get inside that building. We don't have much choice. But I'd keep her on a short leash."

Skinner ran his hand over his mouth, "All right, let's impress that idea on her, Agent Scully. Get her out of the car."

Scully walked around the car and opened the passenger side door, "Get out," she snapped. Marita slid over on the seat. She started to lever herself out of the car but the handcuffs on her wrists made it difficult for her to maneuver. Scully reached forward, grabbed the cuffs and helped to hoist her off the seat. Marita stumbled a bit but Scully supported her as her feet hit the sidewalk. By the time Skinner had rounded the car hood to reach them, Scully had Marita propped up against the side of the car.

The blonde woman turned her head sideways to stare into Skinner's glasses, "Assistant Director Skinner," she stated in greeting.

Skinner raised an eyebrow. Well obviously she remembers me as well he thought. Skinner's eyes were drawn to her neck and the livid finger print bruises that ringed it. He shrugged slightly. Scully hadn't exaggerated the abuse at the Cigarette Smoking Man's hands, that much was certain.

"Ms. Covarrubias," he answered gruffly.

Marita looked away from him and looked at Scully. Scully held her face impassive. Marita shrugged and then her head swiveled around to Skinner's face again, "You can call me Marita," she said in a low voice.

"Fine, Marita," Skinner replied, "now listen up. I'm going to make this short and sweet. Don't fuck with us. I'm going to take Agent Scully's evaluation of your sincerity as gospel. If you prove her wrong and thereby make a fool out of me, I won't hesitate to blow your head off. Do you understand?"

Marita's eyes flashed, "You're going to have to believe me Mr. Skinner, you're not going to get into that building any other way without me," she stated matter-of-factly. "Now would you be so kind as to call off your dogs?" she added holding her cuffed wrists and shaking them in his face.

"Why you...you're the dog, you bitch, you..." Scully stammered.

"Agent Scully!" Skinner warned. Scully instantly stopped her invective Skinner glanced at her. He saw the anger, concern and fear in her eyes. He pitched his voice low and spoke much more gently, "Scully, she's right, we don't have much choice. If we're going to help Mulder we're going to have to take her at her word. Give me the keys."

Scully flushed angrily, but she reached into her coat pocket, and producing the cuff's keys, handed them to Skinner. Skinner took them from her, and taking Marita's hands in his unlocked the handcuffs. He handed the keys and cuffs back to Scully as Marita chaffed her hands and wrists together to restore her circulation.

"Thank you," she stated. Neither Skinner nor Scully answered her. Marita inclined her head to look at Scully's waist and the gun that was jammed there, "I don't suppose you'd consider giving me my gun, would you?" she added looking up into Scully's eyes.

Scully stared back at her in defiance, "No way," she hissed.

Marita shrugged and looked back at Skinner. "All right, I'm ready, Mr Skinner. How would you like to proceed?"

"I just want you to get us in the God damned lobby and then get out of the way. Don't interfere. We'll take it from there. We'll take care of your employer. Don't worry about it," Skinner replied.

"That's all I ask," Marita answered and then she straightened up from her slumping position against the car. She wasn't very happy about this little turn of events. She had really wanted a more personal exchange to take place between her and that monster she had called her lover. "Well," she thought looking from Skinner to Scully, "I'll just have to bide my time and see what develops."

"Fine, now get us in there," Scully interrupted her train of thought.

"Right. There's a camera next to the entrance. It's recessed slightly so you can't see it right away. It's field of vision encompasses just the person standing immediately in front of the door. You'll need to stand to either side at first so that the guard inside doesn't see you on his monitors," Marita explained.

"Only the one guard?" Skinner asked, raising his eyebrows.

"Yes, it's really a research facility. One guard and a bunch of gutless wonders poking lab rats for a living," Marita sneered.

"Little or no resistance, then?" Scully asked, hope growing in her voice.

"Bingo," Marita replied, "Lucky thing too, I guess," she arched an eyebrow and looked sardonically at their meager rescue party. "Now, do you understand about the camera?"

"Yes, let's go," Skinner rumbled. He drew his gun from it's holster and Scully did the same. Marita pushed off from the car's bumper. She rearranged her clothing so that the damage from her fight with Scully wasn't quite as obvious, and then she turned, rounding the car's bumper headed off across the street. Walter Skinner and Dana Scully moved to follow her.


The Cigarette Smoking Man lit up as soon as he was out of the make-shift operating theater. He puffed on his Morley and snuffed out the match with his fingers. He threw the match to the floor and leaned against the wall He could just see through the glass window in the room's door.

Mulder was strapped to the gurney and unconscious. The Cancer Man smiled This was superb, he thought. He could see the whole procedure. Mulder's humiliation was complete and now the Cancer Man would have complete control over both him and Agent Dana Scully. And my God, how much further would their research jump ahead now? Everyone would be supremely happy over the technological and biological strides these experiments would bring about.

He basked in the glow of ultimate power. The feeling was almost sexual. It was a hell of a lot more erotic than anything he had ever experienced with Marita Covarrubias. He frowned a bit and looked at his watch, "Where the hell is Marita anyway?" he wondered. <Well, she'd be along directly, and with Agent Scully in tow if she knew what was good for her.> He crossed his arms and drew smoke deeply into his lungs.

In the operating theater, Dr. Kerry began to argue slightly with the smaller Dr. Kim. As The Smoker watched Kerry walked over to examine the valves on the oxygen tanks. He shook his head and gestured at the mask that Kim was holding in his hands. He refused to put the oxygen mask on Mulder and the two men started to gesture at each other in real anger.

"Oh for Christ sake," the Cancer Man thought. <Do I have to do everything myself?> He pushed off from the wall, threw his smoke to the floor and crushed it out. With weary annoyance he stepped forward to reenter the room.


Marita Covarrubias stood in front of the camera at the building's entrance Skinner and Scully stood well to the side with their weapons at the ready Marita raised her hand in greeting and the electronic lock on the door buzzed open. She pulled the door open and then Skinner took the door out of her hands and pushed her to the side out of the way.

"Federal Agents, don't move and get your hands in the air!" he shouted at the lone guard seated at the monitors inside. The guard stood up, knocking his chair over and then he turned and ran down a hallway off to the side of the main lobby. Scully started to pursue him.

"Let him go," Skinner barked and just as he said it an alarm started to blare throughout the facility, "Oh shit," he cursed.

"There's an exit down that hallway. It's alarmed?" Scully asked coming up behind them.

"Do you know the building's layout?" Skinner asked her.

"Yes," she stated flatly. "Do you know where they might be holding Mulder?" Scully asked looking into her face.

Marita could see the expression of desperation there. Marita felt pity for Scully at that moment. Everything that had been done to her had been so wrong. Marita could sympathize. She had been a victim as well. It was time to see that justice prevailed for once. She'd do everything she could to see that it did.

"I can make an educated guess," she replied nodding her head.

"Then take us there," Skinner ordered.

The Cigarette Smoking Man's hand had just touched to door knob to enter the operating theater when a blaring alarm sounded throughout the building. He jumped and than turned to look down both directions of the hallway. He could see several people running for exits and he frowned deeply, "Just like rats leaving a sinking ship," he thought, "Well, fuck them all," he fumed and then he gave the door handle a violent twist and threw the door wide.

"What the hell is that noise?" Kerry was blustering. He yanked his surgical mask down as he stared at The Smoker. His eyes were popping out of his head. The man was clearly terrified. Dr. Kim stood by speechless.

"It's the alarm, you cretin," The Cancer Man replied, "Clearly we are about to have company! Move him," he ordered gesturing towards Mulder.

"Move him yourself, you fucking asshole," Dr. Kim shouted. He had finally found his voice, "I've had it. I am out of here!" he added and then he rose up off the stool next to Mulder and dashed out of the room.

Dr. Kerry danced from one foot to the other. It was obvious he felt the same and The Smoking Man pinned him with a scathing look, "All right, Kerry, get the hell out. I'll take care of Agent Mulder."

Kerry gulped and headed for the door.

"And Dr. Kerry?"

"What?"

"I'll be in touch," The Smoker hissed. Dr. Kerry fled.


 

The Cancer Man moved to stand close to Mulder. He looked down at the Betadine stain on the back of his neck. As he stared at the spot he reached inside his coat and drew an automatic weapon from the shoulder holster he wore. He grasped the top of the weapon, pulled, and the gun clicked as a bullet entered the firing chamber. A noisy commotion somewhere outside and down the hallway broke his concentration. He turned to walk back to the room's door.

Skinner and Scully ran behind Marita down a hallway and deeper into the building. People scattered before them, heading for every available exit No one hindered them and soon they met no other employees of the facility The entire building had been cleared out.

"This way," Marita called back over her shoulder, "There are two operating theaters back here. Mulder has to be in one of them."

The Cancer Man opened the door to the operating theater. He could hear running feet approaching fast. He glanced back at Mulder and shrugged his shoulders. He knew when to cut and run. Knowing when to call it a day had saved his neck more than once. He stepped through the door and shut it quietly. He turned and headed up the hallway. Just as he rounded the corner at the end of the hall, Marita came around the one at the opposite end. The Cancer Man heard her voice. He stopped his exit and flattened himself against the wall just around the corner.

"This is the first operating theater?" Marita asked somewhat breathlessly. She stood back as Scully drew up beside her.

"Try the door," Skinner commanded.

Dana Scully stepped forward and twisted the handle. She pushed the door open a crack. Skinner stood at her back, sweeping the hallway. Scully peeked inside and saw the room was empty except for Mulder on the gurney.

"Oh, God," she whispered before she could stop herself. She pushed the door open violently and rushed inside. Skinner stood in the doorway and continued to cover the hallway. He glanced in and saw Scully run to the gurney containing Mulder's unconscious naked body. Scully grabbed Mulder's wrist, feeling desperately for his pulse.

"Is he alive?" Skinner grated. Marita moved over to get a look into the room as well.

"Yes, he, he's alive. He's just been drugged that's all."

"All right, Scully, try to wake him up. Marita, stay here, I'm going to take a look around. And Scully?"

"Yes, sir?" Scully replied glancing over her shoulder at the A.D. Skinner was staring intently into Marita's face. His eyes narrowed and than he turned back to look at Scully.

"Give Ms. Covarrubias back her weapon," he ordered, "Do you think you can keep watch out here?" he asked the blonde.

"No problem. I know how to use a gun," Marita answered derisively.

"I bet," Scully replied with hostility in her voice. She walked over and taking the gun from her waistband handed it to the taller woman, "See to it that you don't point this in my direction, please." Scully advised in a low voice as she pinned Marita's eyes. "That is unless you really do have a death wish."

"I'll bear that in mind," The blonde replied taking the gun. She checked it over quickly and then turned to face Skinner, "Don't worry, Walter, I'm not going to fuck with you, as you so succinctly put it earlier. You're really not my type. Just see to it that you find that black suited bastard I used to ball, all right?"

Skinner gave her a surprised look and then his face settled into a sour frown, "Whatever," he replied, "If you ladies will excuse me, I'm going to reconnoiter," he added and then he turned and headed back in the direction they had just come to check several doors down the hallway.

Marita glanced at Scully, "Go ahead, see to him," she sighed and than she smiled just a bit at the shorter woman. Scully blinked at the expression of sudden sadness she saw in Marita's face. She turned on her heels and quickly strode back to Mulder's side.

Scully bent forward to peer into his face. Her hand shook as she gently touched his forehead, brushing his hair out of his eyes, "Mulder, it, it's me. Can you hear me?" There was no response. She rubbed his wrist and than yanked at the strap that bound it, deftly undoing it. She walked to his other arm and undid that strap as well. She gently pulled the IV from his hand and replaced the adhesive tape over the puncture to stop the bleeding When she reached the first of his leg straps she gasped. "Mother of God," she breathed as she saw the Betadine solution covering his genitals.

"What-?" Marita said. She had come up behind Scully and her question caused Scully to jump. She whirled around, and flinging her hands into Marita's chest, pushed the blonde violently backwards.

"You stay away from him you, you Godforsaken slut!" she yelled, "Get back outside and keep and eye out for that Whoremaster you call a boyfriend, all right?" she cried, her blues eyes flashing in anger.

Marita's mouth dropped open as she reeled back. She recovered her balance, breathing hard. She stared into Dana Scully's face and her heart froze in her chest.

There on the other woman's face Marita saw the emotion she had yet to feel in her entire power hungry, ladder climbing life. She saw love. She recognized Scully's love and devotion for the man lying unconscious on that table in the operating theater. Dana Scully loved Fox Mulder. Marita had all ready seen the physical attraction Scully had for him, of course. She had more experience than most in seeing that aspect of a relationship. But she now also sensed something more.

There was a deep spiritual element to their love. An element that transcended the physical. A bond that went way beyond any kind of sexual union. It was an aspect of love that Marita knew she would never, could never, hope to attain. As she studied Scully's face her heart broke and in the few short moments all this had moved across her mind, she felt overwhelming guilt for what she had done to both Dana Scully and Fox Mulder.

"Agent Scully, I, I'm so sorry. Please believe me when I say I wish none of this had ever happened. And I'll make that brutal bastard pay in spades for what he made me do to both of you. I swear to God he's going to get what he deserves." Tears sprung into her eyes. She cursed inwardly because she couldn't control them as they slid down her cheeks.

Scully stood looking into Marita's eyes. She studied her face and than her body relaxed slightly, "All right, Marita, I, well I guess I can understand your situation. It doesn't excuse what you did, but I can try to understand. Now, get back out there and stand guard. I have to try to get Mulder up and out of here."

"He's heavy, you're going to need help?" Marita asked practically, glancing up and down the smaller woman's body. Then she felt her torn blouse and smiled slightly, "Then again, maybe you won't."

Scully let a tiny smile play about her lips, "I'm going to try to wake him up enough so he can help us move him, but yeah, I guess I'd appreciate the hand."

"All right, call me when you're ready," Marita replied and then she turned and went back out into the hallway.

Scully went over and began to massage Mulder's arms and legs. She chaffed them roughly and than she went back up to Mulder's head.

"Come on, Mulder, wake up for me, all right. Try. Mulder, can you hear me?" She put the back of her hand against his cheek and stroked gently. She could feel his rough beard stubble against her knuckles. She bent forward and whispered into his ear.

"Mulder, come back to me, I need you to wake up now."

She felt his head move slightly under her hand. He groaned, "Sculleeee."

"That's right, Mulder, it's me, wake up. Snap out of it. Get moving."

Mulder opened his eyes slightly. They were very dazed but he did manage to smile, "I hope that's really you this time, Scully," he quipped and then he coughed violently. His whole body shook with the violence of his gagging.

"Oh God, it is me this time, it's me, hang on, Mulder," she held his shoulders as he wretched from the effects of the anesthetic.

Outside the operating theater Walter Skinner had finished checking the doors down one entire side of the hallway and was headed back up the other He had seen the fresh Morley butt on the floor outside the operating theater. He knew it's former owner had to be nearby. He held his gun at the ready. Most of the doors had been locked. The ones that weren't yielded up empty rooms or storage closets. He finished checking the other side and than worked his way back to where Marita Covarrubias stood by the operating theater door.

Marita glanced back to see Dana Scully holding Mulder in her arms. They were obviously giving each other very unprofessional comfort at the moment Marita gently pulled the door shut behind her and moved to draw Skinner's attention away from the door's small glass window.

"Did you find anything?" she asked.

"No, I'm going to check up at the other end now. Stay alert."

"I'm frosty," she replied, "Just make sure you watch your ass, Walter." she advised. "I will," she grinned at his receding back. Of course she'd lied before. Skinner could definitely be her type. "Any time," she thought as she watched the A.D. walk away.

The Cigarette Smoking Man had heard Marita and Skinner's exchange. He had entertained the vain hope of walking back around the corner to confront Marita, but now with Skinner heading his way that seemed totally impossible. He came to a decision. As Walter Skinner approached, The Smoker crept down to the next door in the wall. He quickly twisted the door knob, opening the door silently. He stepped inside, shut the door and locked it behind him.

Scully rubbed Mulder's back. He had managed to sit up but he was still very groggy. Scully had taken off her trenchcoat and put it around his trembling shoulders. His heaving had stopped, and without bringing up anything after all. He took several deep breaths. Then he turned slightly and tried to kiss Scully.

Scully gently pushed him away, "Mulder, as much as I'd like to have you kiss me, we don't have time for that right now," she shook her head in bemusement.

Mulder's eyes tried to focus on her face, "I, I'm sorry Scully, I just had to see if it was really you," he sighed, blinking rapidly. He shook his head back and forth and then he almost pitched off the table. Scully caught him, "Oh, Mulder," she whispered and then she did kiss him on the cheek.

"Yup, s'you," he slurred.

The Cancer Man quietly walked to the back of the room he had taken refuge in until he reached what he was looking for. He stepped up close to the rack of oxygen containers that rested in the second of the makeshift operating theaters. The one without the window in the door he thought gratefully. He smiled. "Ah, yes, this should do very nicely," he thought His hands reached out to rest on one of the tank's valves. He turned it Oxygen began to hiss out. He heard someone rattle the doorknob. He twisted the valve shut and held his breath.

"Marita!" Scully called from inside the operating theater, "I could use that extra hand."

The blonde opened the door and walked in. Mulder was dressed in Scully's trenchcoat and he stood leaning heavily on his much smaller partner. The trenchcoat came to his knees. Marita suppressed a laugh. Mulder looked at her woozily, "Now I know it's you Scully," he deadpanned and then he swayed a bit.

"Whoa, Agent Mulder, let me help you," Marita hastened forward, jamming the gun into the back of her skirt. When she grabbed Mulder's arm to place it over her shoulder he shrank from her touch.

"Mulder, please let me help. You're going to knock Agent Scully over Just...Look, I'm more sorry than you can know for my earlier actions. Let me make amends by seeing that you get out of here safely."

Mulder swallowed hard as he fought to retain his balance. He nodded his head in the affirmative and then concentrated on moving his feet.

"All right, here we go," Scully warned and then they headed towards the door, Mulder balanced precariously between them.

Walter Skinner came back up the hallway just as Marita and Scully were dragging Mulder through the operating theater door.

"Mulder, you look like shit," he quipped gruffly, but there was a grin on his face.

"Thank you, sir," Mulder replied dizzily.

"Scully, let me take that side," Skinner said as he holstered his weapon and moved to take Scully's place at Mulder's side.

"Did you see any sign of him?" Marita asked Skinner as he took hold of Mulder's arm.

"Why, I'm right here Marita," a cigarette hoarse voice called from the end of the hallway.

Skinner whirled in an instant, his gun flying from it's holster and back into his hand, "Freeze! Drop your weapon, and put your hands in the air!" he shouted.

Scully tried to reach for her gun but Mulder's weight sagged against her He was trying to look sideways towards the sound of the voice. He was starting to twist in their grasp.

"You fuck, you God damned monster, I'll kill you, I'll"...he choked out as he was racked by more dry heaves.

Marita held tight to Mulder's shoulders. She looked over at Scully. Their eyes met and in an instant Scully read Marita's intentions, "No, Marita," she whispered.

"Hold on to him, Dana," she replied and than she let all of Mulder's weight sag into Scully's arms.

"Oh, shit," Scully gasped. Mulder's wretching had ceased, but now he fell sideways to the floor taking Scully down with him. They sprawled through the doorway to the operating theater. Mulder fell unconscious again and Scully rolled him onto his stomach. She checked his pulse. It was still strong. He was just out for the count. Scully extricated herself from the tangle of their arms and legs and then reached for her weapon. She was up in a flash and back out the door, weapon at the ready to stand next to Walter Skinner. Marita was all ready standing next to him.

The Cancer Man stood at the end of the hallway his gun drawn on all three of them. He grinned and stepped back slightly around the corner.

"I said freeze Mister," Skinner yelled angrily and than all three of them advanced down the hallway. Marita strode ahead a little more quickly, purpose in her step. She reached the corner before either Skinner or Scully. She rounded it, one hand behind her back on the butt of the gun that was jammed into her skirt waistband. The Cancer Man stood waiting.

"Hello, John," she whispered seductively, "I'm glad I finally found you, lover," she purred.

The Smoker stared at her, his grin still firmly in place, "Yes, I'm glad you found me too, my sweet," he replied.

Skinner and Scully just rounded the corner. They were about 10 feet away from their target. Unfortunately Marita Covarrubias was in their direct line of fire.

"Marita!" Scully gasped.

"Put down your weapon you Morely sucking fuck!" Skinner commanded again.

The Cancer Man ignored them. He only had eyes for Marita as she swayed up to him.

"John, honey, I think we should leave now, really I do," she whispered. I mean this isn't going to do us any good. We need to cut and run. I'd like you to take me out of here, John. I'd like you to take me home and than I'd just like you to take me," she licked her lips lasciviously and smiled into his face. She was right in front of him now and she reached down and touched his cock through the front of his slacks. He growled. Her hand came up from behind her back and she shoved her gun up towards where her other hand was resting. In one deft move, The Smoker grabbed her arm in a grip of steel and jerked it up causing the gun to fly impotently off down the hallway. Marita screamed in anger and frustration and then she screamed in pain and fear as the Cancer Man jerked her arm up sharply behind her and flipped her around to face Skinner and Scully. He pulled her arm up tight against his chest and jammed his weapon into her temple.

"Sorry, dear, I must refuse your delightful offer," he whispered into her ear. Marita could feel his cock through his pants. It was hard. She looked sideways into his eyes. His eyes looked like those of a great white shark just before it strikes it's prey, flat, black and dead. Marita closed her eyes and looked away.

"Let her go and drop your weapon!" Skinner yelled again training his gun on the Cancer Man's head. <Shit.> He cursed to himself. There was no clear shot. Marita was almost as tall as The Smoker and he was holding her directly in front of him.

"Scully?" he hissed. Scully being slightly behind and to the side had a different angle on the line of fire.

"No, sir," she replied quickly. "I can't risk it, I'll hit her for sure."

The Cancer Man stared at them both for a moment and then he glanced back at Marita. He pressed the barrel of the gun even tighter against the side of her head.

"Dearest?" he asked her.

She looked into his eyes and she knew, "John?" It was half question and half pleading request. She saw the confirmation in his soulless eyes and she turned to look at Dana Scully. She watched her face and basked in the feeling she had seen there earlier. The blissful look of perfect love Dana Scully had for Fox Mulder. Marita sighed peacefully and shut her eyes once more. She began to silently pray. She didn't think God was listening but it never hurt to try.

The Cancer Man smiled at her and then he pressed a gentle kiss to her blonde hair.

"Sorry, Marita. Nothing personal really, this is just business," and then he pulled the trigger.

"NO!" Scully screamed.

The sound of the shot was deafening in the hallway. Marita Covarrubias' brains blew out the right side of her skull and splattered all over the wall. Some of her blood landed on the Cancer Man's polished right shoe and he flicked his toe in disdain.

Skinner and Scully looked on in stunned horror as The Smoker tossed Marita's body to the floor in front of him with no more feeling than he might use to throw down one of his smoked up Morley cigarettes.

When her body hit the floor with a dull thud, The Smoker dropped his gun on top of her crumpled form, "I'll surrender, now." he stated flatly and then he placed his hands at his sides.

"I said get your fucking hands in the air," Skinner yelled anger mixed with disgust in his voice, "and then don't move an inch you sick piece of shit!"

"Certainly, Walter," The Cancer Man answered, "But, I'd be even more docile if I could just reach for my smokes. Would you mind? Really, please don't shoot. Isn't that what a good agent says before he reaches for his ID in a situation like this one?"

Scully glanced at Skinner out of the corner of her eye. Skinner wasn't putting his gun up but he wasn't going to fire either. Scully held her gun firm.

The Smoker shoved his right hand in his pocket, drew out a cigarette, and match, and lit up. He dragged the smoke into his lungs, and then he dropped the match. Both Skinner and Scully's eyes followed the match as it fell onto Marita's dead body. The Smoker lunged for the door handle to his right.

Skinner and Scully fired simultaneously. Skinner's round missed but Scully's just grazed the Cancer Man's shoulder. He must have been running on adrenaline however, because he reached the door knob without any hesitation. He even still held his cigarette firmly clenched between his teeth.

Skinner prepared to fire again but he stopped suddenly as a very important notion jumped unbidden into his head. He saw the cigarette glowing brightly in The Cancer Man's mouth. The image jogged his memory and his mind's eye suddenly saw the canisters of oxygen that had been in Mulder's make-shift operating theater. Marita had said there were two operating rooms down this hallway. He vaguely remembered a hissing noise...

The Cigarette Smoking Man took his smoke out of his mouth and started to yank the door open in order to gain entrance to the room to the right Skinner turned towards Dana Scully.

"Scully, RUN!" he shouted and then he grabbed her arm and turning her around, propelled her ahead of him, back up the hallway in the direction they had come.

They dashed around the corner together at a dead run. Scully was almost even with the door to the operating theater where Mulder lay unconscious when there was a terrific drop in air pressure. Skinner had been in Vietnam. He knew what it meant. He dove for Scully's body and knocked her sideways into the operating theater. They sprawled next to Mulder's form, Skinner slightly on top of Scully. He shielded her as a terrific explosion shook the entire building.

A deafening roar filled their ears and then the smell of smoke assailed their nostrils.

"Jesus!" Skinner yelled over the din. Mulder slept on in total unawareness Scully coughed over and over as the hallway filled with smoke.

"We have to get out of here!" Skinner shouted into Scully's ear. They both stood up. Scully bent to help Mulder but Skinner merely swept her aside. He leaned over and picked Mulder up in his arms. Scully's mouth dropped open slightly at the sight, and Skinner shifted Mulder's weight, "Go, on Scully, I'm right behind you," he ordered. Scully headed out of the room without any more prompting.

Later outside the building, fire, police, EMTs, and more FBI vehicles were beginning to pull up. The building was engulfed in flames. Skinner had ordered the other Agents to the scene over his cell phone. He now directed them to search the area for The Cigarette Smoking Man. As the Agents fanned out, Skinner saw to it that Mulder was getting medical attention. The paramedics were working on him right on the ground next to Scully's car across the street. As soon as they had him stabilized one of the paramedics went to get the ambulance gurney.

Scully hovered over the scene, "I'm a doctor, I can help," she had said Skinner had taken one look at her hollowed eyes and gently pulled her away, "He's in good hands, Agent Scully. Come on, I'll buy you a drink," he joked as he handed her a can of Diet Coke.

Scully was staring at the can. Skinner chuckled slightly. "I bought a six pack at the store yesterday. It was still in my car."

Scully took a sip, "It's warm, sir," she replied in a dull voice.

"Hey, beggars can't be choosers," Skinner grinned slightly. But then his face grew serious.

Scully picked up on his expression.

"He has to be dead, sir. No one could survive that..." she stated gesturing with her head towards the raging inferno that the building had become.

"I hope he burns in hell," Skinner growled.

One of the paramedics approached them, "We're ready to transport Agent Mulder now, do you want to follow us?"

Scully glanced at Skinner.

"Why don't you go in the ambulance, Agent Scully, I can see to your car I'll have one of the Agents drop it off at the hospital."

"Can I ride along? I'm his partner," Scully asked the EMT quietly.

"No problem," he replied gently, "just get in back and make yourself comfortable.

Scully walked over and climbed in. Skinner had a few more words with the driver to find out where they were taking Mulder and than he slapped the side of the ambulance as the doors were shut and it pulled away from the curb.

Inside the back of the ambulance, Dana Scully sat close to Mulder and held his hand. She entwined her fingers with his. She gave his hand a tender squeeze. Her gentle pressure was answered by a tiny squeeze from Mulder's hand. She bent forward and whispered into his ear, "You're going to be all right, we're going to the hospital," he squeezed her hand again. Tears welled up in her eyes and she bent forward close to his ear as the ambulance siren began to wail.

"I love you," she whispered, and as Mulder squeezed her hand a third time The ambulance shot forward in it's breakneck trip to the hospital emergency room.


Memorial Hospital
Approximately 7:45 AM

Scully leaned heavily against the cinderblock wall behind her. She stared dully at the door in front of her, waiting for it to open. She'd ordered Mulder's doctor to do an X-ray of his neck and give him a thorough exam She wanted to make damn sure nothing had happened to him besides being anesthetized.

Skinner had left an hour ago telling her not to worry. He told her he'd take care of administrative matters. He then ordered her to take Mulder home, once he was released, and make sure they both got some rest.

Scully looked at her watch again. It seemed like the doctor was taking an awfully long time with Mulder. She began to get nervous. The door swung open and the doctor stepped out. He gave her a tired smile.

"He's just fine, Agent Scully. I've looked him over and we're running a toxicology test to make sure they didn't inject him with anything else. I should have the results of that back in a little over an hour. In the meantime, he's awake, alert and quite cross. He'd like to see you."

She gave him a weak smile. "He's not the best patient in the world."The doctor nodded in agreement and walked down the hallway. Scully pushed herself off the wall and pushed the door to Mulder's room open. He was staring at the door in anticipation. She walked around the edge of the bed and picked up his chart. Mulder was not amused.

"I'm going to be fine, put that damn chart down and come here!" He grumbled. He noticed she jumped a little. "Please," he added quietly.

Scully walked towards the head of the bed and sat on its edge. Mulder brought a hand up and settled it on her waist. She put her hands on either side of his face and kissed him on the forehead. She moved to pull away but he caught her and kissed her lips tenderly. They both reluctantly broke the kiss.

"What happened after I passed out?" Mulder asked.

Scully shuddered slightly. She was exhausted and suspected she might be in a bit of shock, so much had happened in the last 24 hours. "We cornered Cancer Man but Marita went to him...he...he...God, Mulder he shot her They'd been lovers and...he FUCKING shot her in the head..." tears spilled down her face and Mulder sat up gingerly and pulled her against his body.

"Shhh..." he chastised himself inwardly for asking. He knew she'd been through a lot the last few hours, as had he. The Smoker's words about his daughter came flooding back into his head. Suddenly he felt cold.

"Sc- Dana? Elizabeth...is she all right? I mean, did they..." He choked on his words as he heard his stoic partner cry out in agony. Sobs racked her body and she clung to him desperately. He felt hot tears sting his own eyes.

Scully pushed away from Mulder a little and looked into his eyes. She had to tell him. "I...I...tried to call you Mulder, but I couldn't reach you. I tried to save her Mulder," she began to sob violently again, "I tried so hard, damn it. It was no use...I..I..." she threw her hands up in the air violently in frustration. She tried to move away from the bed. Her anger was consuming her. She felt like she needed to throw something. But Mulder caught her and held her still.

"Mulder, let me go. Damn it! Can't you see? I failed again! I couldn't save her. Those bastards...I fucking let them beat me again...I couldn't save her, nothing I did mattered. I couldn't figure it out in time..."

Mulder silenced her with a kiss. She fought him at first and then dissolved into his arms, holding onto him tightly. He broke away from her but kept his face very close to her. He was crying in earnest now.

"Scully, I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry I wasn't there when I should have been I'm such a fuck up, Scully. You were right, it was all a game. They had no intention of saving her, the bastard told me as much. It isn't your fault Scully, please don't feel like that. There was nothing we could do...God that makes me feel so helpless," he growled. He hung his head, leaning his forehead against hers. They stroked one another's faces for a long time Mulder slowly found his voice again.

"You got to me on time, Scully," he said quietly. "You always do. I don't know why you don't just leave me behind, I've caused you so much pain, Scully..."

"Damn it Mulder," she said in a harsh whisper. "Don't you EVER say that again. How could I EVER leave you behind...how could I ever leave you? I love you. God damn it Mulder! I love you..." She stopped talking and kissed him. He shifted again so he could totally envelope her in his arms. It was his turn to cling tightly to her.

"I love you too, Scully. I love you so much it hurts. I don't want you to leave me. I don't ever want to leave you." He pushed his fingers into her red hair and held her face. He planted dozens of kisses on her tear stained cheeks. "I wanted so much to have a child with you Scully. God I wanted that and so much more."

She collapsed against him. Every nerve in her body felt raw. She wanted to scream and hit something but she was just too tired. She'd finally reached the point of no return. She planted a kiss on Mulder's chest and then fainted dead away.


Saturday, January 24, 7 PM
Location Unknown

Doctor Robert Kerry sat next to his patient's bed, a deep frown creasing his brow.

"Hold still, please! I can't adjust this bandage if you keep moving your arm," Dr. Kerry admonished his patient as he added more tape to the gauze on his shoulder.

"I wouldn't be moving around if you didn't have the bedside manner of Dr Kevorkian, you imbecile," his patient replied with venom, "now give me that pack of cigarettes, and the matches, and get the hell out."

Dr. Kerry looked up into The Cigarette Smoking Man's eyes and saw the writing on the wall. He cringed slightly at the utter lack of humanity he saw there and, once again, considered himself lucky to be alive under the circumstances. Of course, the fact that the rotten fuck had been injured in the blast at the research facility had kept his services necessary for now.

It was amazing he had survived with only minor burns and the gunshot wound to the shoulder. The Doctor knew he would have to come up with some sort of escape plan once he was no longer needed to tend to the man's minor injuries. He'd either have to escape or sell what was left of his soul to this devil in order to stay alive. In the meantime, he thought he'd better tow the line or risk premature unpleasantness at the hands of this psychopath. Kerry sighed, rose and retrieved the cigarettes and matches from a table near the foot of the bed. Kerry handed the cancer sticks over to The Smoker.

"I wish you wouldn't smoke while you're trying to recover. It hinders the healing process," Kerry advised as the Cancer Man took the smokes from his hand.

"Thank you for your concern. Now, I said get out," the man replied coughing slightly.

Dr. Kerry walked towards the door and, with one final look over his shoulder, exited the room.

As the door swung shut behind the Doctor, The Cancer Man pulled a Morley from the pack and fumbled with the matches. "God damn it," he cursed as the bandages on his hands forced him to drop the match. He finally succeeded in getting the cigarette lit and into his mouth. He took a long drag and inhaled the acrid smoke into his lungs.

"Ah, that's much better," he thought. The bullet wound in his arm felt just fine now. Even the minor burns on his hands were less painful as well. The pain was diminished but not his anger. He was royally outraged over the events that had occurred at the research facility.

What a mess. The project was in a shambles. Mulder and Scully were stronger than ever and Skinner was obviously becoming more sympathetic to their cause. Even though they all thought The Smoker was dead, he realized manipulating them would be harder than ever before. As for Marita, no great loss there. Whores were a dime a dozen as far as he was concerned. But the rest of the fiasco wouldn't bode well for him. Perhaps he should just disappear again for a while. It wouldn't hurt. He'd need the time to rest, recover and regroup his resources.

"Yes, a little R&R might just be what the Doctor ordered," he mused as he reached for one of six file folders that lay on the night stand next to him. He'd all ready studied all six files and as he opened the one he held in his hands he thought, "I just have to decide where to go for my little vacation.

He stared at the photo and report inside the file folder. The photo was of a small research facility in Johnson Creek, Wisconsin, south of Madison The first page of the report was a cover letter. It was short and sweet:

>>January 23, 1998

ArtiGenetics, Better Bovines through Biology Johnson Creek, Wisconsin

Dear Sir:

Please be advised that we have received the shipment of frozen fertilized ova sent from the Geneteco Research Facility. The samples arrrived in excellent condition. We have had no trouble proceeding with the project per your request. In point of fact, we have all ready introduced the xenogeneic DNA to the fertilized ova with complete success. So, our research here is proceeding quite satisfactorily.

I hope the following report will serve to show you that you have not misplaced your confidence in myself, and my staff. We look forward to receiving further instructions from you regarding the surrogate Mother program here in Wisconsin.

Thank you once again for using our services. We are very excited about the project and hope you see fit to continue on here with us.

Sincerely, Dr. Roger Compton Head of Research and Development<<

The Cigarette Smoking man's lip twitched slightly in what passed for a smile, "Bovines indeed!" he thought. <Well, Wisconsin wasn't the best vacation spot in winter. Still, he did enjoy the odd bit of skiing now and again. And spring WAS right around the corner.>

"Yes, Wisconsin just might be the place to relax, bide my time and plot further plans for Agents Mulder, Scully and Assistant Director Skinner," he decided. The Smoker took another drag on his cigarette and shut the folder placing it back on the nightstand. He reached for the phone that sat there, pulled it to him and punched in the number for ArtiGenetics that had been printed at the top of the letterhead.

The phone rang and a voice answered at the other end.

"Am I speaking to Dr. Roger Compton? Good evening, Doctor. Ah, very perceptive of you sir. I'm glad you recognize my voice. Yes, I'm so happy to hear that you are dedicated enough to be working this late. I appreciate intiative such as yours and I always reward it. Which, by the way, brings me to the reason for my call tonight. Dr. Compton. I have some good news for you."


January 24, 9 PM

PERSONAL JOURNAL OF DANA K. SCULLY

It has been a long time since I've been able to pause and write a few lines. It has been a long time since I've been able to even have a thought that wasn't merely a reaction to what was happening to me. I suppose that is why I am here, writing these lines, alone tonight.

Mulder and I were excused from our duties Friday. He had no busines working after what he'd gone through. In retrospect, neither did I. I briefly blacked out at the hospital. It was only for a minute or so, but it was enough for me to realize my body was trying to tell me something.

After he was released from the hospital, I brought him back here and we both collapsed. I remember waking up for an hour or so to shower and make us both some soup. We finally woke up this morning. Neither of us talked much. I don't think either of us know where to begin.

Skinner brought the report he filed on our behalf over around noon. Mulder poured over it as soon as Skinner left. I have been unable to read it. I suppose it isn't even necessary for me too. I was conscious for the whole horrible thing, unlike Mulder, and I envy him that. I'm not sure I care to relive the experience in someone else's words either.

I feel bereft for two daughters I was never given the privilege to know Yet in my heart, I loved them. Maybe there is some comfort in that. Despite the horrible circumstances of their lives, I did love Elizabeth and Emily I still do.

The bodies of both of my children have disappeared. They've simply vanished. My fingers still ache from the time I opened Emily's coffin and ran my hand through the sand I found there. There is nothing left of these two beautiful children. They only existed to serve someone's sick idea of science. They were born for the use of a higher authority and tossed aside No one placed any value on their lives until too late. I cannot understand why.

I am a doctor. The science I learned was one that existed to save people's lives and keep them free from disease. In that capacity, I knew full well a certain amount of testing had to be done to find the ways and means to a cure. Yet I always wanted to believe our society would keep such tests humane and within boundaries. I see now how wrong I was.

I would turn to God in this time of turmoil, yet I feel unable to do even that. I feel selfish to a degree because, instead of a prayer for comfort, I want to scream at what's been taken from me. Were I not so exhausted from what has come to pass the last few days, I would be so very angry. Instead, I am merely heartbroken.

I am making arrangements for two memorials to be placed near Missy's grave The message in the marble will read, "Despite all, you are loved." I want to always remember my daughters. I want to always love and value them, because others did not. In a way, I suppose it is my need to overcome the darkness that took away their light. I cannot be sure. I only know I cannot forget.

In some small manner, I am glad for my solitude this evening. Mulder grew restless a few hours ago and I told him I needed some time alone. He said he needed to go visit Frohike about something the two of them had begun work on before all of this started. He asked me if I wanted him to go back to his apartment tonight. What a strange feeling that was. Aside from the night I spend at Elizabeth's bedside, Mulder and I have slept under the same roof for quite some time now. I must have looked at him like he was speaking Greek.

I told him I only needed a few hours to myself, that if he wanted to come back and stay with me I'd very much like him too. He gave me a weak smile and said he didn't know what he would have done if I had told him to go home. I'm not sure what I'd do if he doesn't come back.

It's another thing we have to deal with now. Mulder and I love one another I guess that's how we both got through this ordeal. At first, I was worried about admitting our feelings for one another. But perhaps it was divine intervention. We admitted our love for one another at the time we needed it most. Maybe I shouldn't doubt my God as much as I do.

I am conflicted about it though. I feel such grief yet I also have a sense of joy because he and I have this connection now, at least we have admitted our spiritual connection. Both of us want more than that. I sense it. I don't think I am alone when I say both of us were more than frustrated with our exhausted bodies yesterday. But I suppose the time was not right. We are both still grieving and although we desperately want to comfort one another, I suppose this little respite is for the best.

I guess a part of it is that Catholic guilt that has been hard wired into my psyche. Although I grieve deeply for the loss of two children who were mine, I feel wrong for wanting the physical touch of the man I love. But another part of me begs the question: Haven't I suffered enough?

I have pushed my love and desire for Mulder away for so long. The logical side of my brain is screaming at me that I have waited enough. And truthfully, it isn't just want any more. I've always been attracted to Mulder and I was able to dismiss my desire for him as such at first. But now, now it is so different. I no longer simply want him. I need him. I need him spiritually. I need his love. But I also need to feel that love and share it with him.

I face yet another obstacle, however. I know Mulder wants a deeper union between us, but he is frightened. Mulder is having a hard time dealing with the intensity of our feelings for one another. He told me as much last night. Then he held me and stroked my hair until we both fell asleep. I fear the real reason he is afraid is his fear that he doesn't deserve to be loved. I don't know how to convince him nothing could be further from the truth. But I have every intention of showing him.


Sunday, January 25
Annapolis, Maryland

Scully walked along the sidewalk with Mulder in companionable silence. It had been his suggestion they go walk around Annapolis. It was a nice day and Scully had agreed they both needed some air. Scully's feet came to stop in front of a curious looking store they were about to pass.

She stared in the window at the jewelry they had on display. Claddaugh rings, necklaces and earrings all glittered in the window. The sign on the door read, "Celtic Mist: Purveyors of fine Irish Goods."

"Let's go in," Mulder suggested.

Scully shrugged and pushed the door open. She felt Mulder's hand insinuate itself on the small of her back. She smiled. She worked her way over to the glass case in the middle of the room. A red piece of velvet was in the center of the case and a shiny silver necklace lay across it. Scully froze.

The necklace had a Celtic Knot charm on the end of it. She smiled. She'd always wanted one. Missy once had one and Scully had coveted it. But her sister had given it to some boy in high school. Her mother had bought one for Scully a few years later. She had lost it in college.

She loved the symbolism behind the Celtic knot. The idea that life was a journey through several lives to a sacred center. She smiled as she thought of Mulder as the sacred center of her life now. He was leaning close, studying her as she studied the necklace in the case below. His hand was resting on her shoulder. She realized she was lingering.

She gave him a smile. "Sorry, I'm like a crow I guess. Attracted to shiny objects."

He laughed. "No, it's a beautiful necklace. Isn't that a Celtic knot?"

"Yes. I used to have one when I was younger but I lost it."

She turned away from him and headed over towards a rack of wool sweaters Keeping an eye on Scully, Mulder motioned to the clerk and pointed at the necklace. The clerk nodded his understanding as Mulder laid a credit card atop the case. Mulder walked up behind Scully.

"Hey, what's in that room back there?" he asked.

He put his hand at the small of her back again and guided towards a small room in the rear of the store. The room was full of various foodstuffs from Ireland and Scotland. Scully made a beeline for the cookies. She picked up the Walker's Shortbread.

"I love these," she said smiling like a six-year-old.

Mulder could barely contain his smile at the happiness he saw in her eyes He took them from her. "Well then, I'll just have to buy them for you."

"Mulder..," she said in a threatening tone, but he'd run out to the front of the store before she could get another word out.

"These too," she said breathlessly to the clerk. The young man smiled and pointed to the box he'd actually had time to slip a delicate red ribbon around. Mulder mouthed the word "Perfect," just as Scully came up beside him.

"You're going to help me eat all of those," she said jabbing him in the ribs. She dimly thought he was acting funny. She sensed he was up to something but she was happy and really wasn't worried. She'd had enough to worry with the couple of weeks. Mulder took his credit card back from the clerk and put it in his wallet. Scully smirked at him for using the plastic to buy a two dollar package of cookies.

They stopped in a Ben and Jerry's and got lemonades and then went to sit by the dock. A little boy was trying to skip rocks across the water. Scully felt a little sad and she looked down. Suddenly, a shortbread cookie appeared atop her knee.

She turned to face her gift giver. Mulder smiled at her not sensing her melancholy and she gave him a smile back. She told herself not to go dark now. She was having a wonderful time with Mulder. As she looked at him she realized how attractive he looked to her. Not that he hadn't before, especially given everything they had all ready said to each other, but he looked especially good today.

He had on a light blue denim shirt with a white t-shirt underneath. He was also wearing a pair of khaki pants that, when she could see his rear end, hugged him like she still entertained thoughts of doing. Her eyes were drawn to the gold cross around his neck. Her gold cross. Before she could even think she reached out and touched it, allowing her finger to linger at the base of his throat.

"I like that on you," she said softly.

"It was a gift from someone I love."

She looked at her feet and then back up to him and smiled. "Well, she loves you too."

She reached over and squeezed his knee. He covered her hand with his. They stared into one another's eyes for a long while. A breeze whipped in off the water and Scully shivered. The sun was setting and it was beginning to get colder. Mulder moved his arm and drew her in closer. She laid her head against his shoulder.

"Let's go back to your apartment, Scully."

"Yeah, Mulder. Let's go home."


It had started to rain when they pulled into the parking lot at Scully's apartment. They both ran to avoid getting soaked. They got inside, hung up their coats and ditched their shoes. Mulder insisted he build a fire Scully quirked an eyebrow at him. She had this warm fuzzy feeling all over, like she'd been drinking wine. But she realized she wasn't feeling the effects of a good Bordeaux. A smile lit her face as she realized she was drunk on Mulder. Despite all that had happened to them, she was actually feeling happy.

Despite all, you are loved.

This do nothing day had been exactly what she...they needed. Things had been so tense up to this point. Now, they were finally relaxing around one another. A slight shiver ran through her. She wasn't sure f it was from her racing emotions or the cold. She admired Mulder's muscular shoulders as he finished piling the wood in the fire place.

"I'm going to make some tea, Mulder. You want some?"

He struck a match and lit a crinkled up piece of newspaper under the logs "Sure Scully, sounds good. I'm a little chilled."

He watched as she crossed the short distance from the living room to the kitchen.

"Tea the old fashioned way, Mulder. How does that sound?" Scully called into the living room.

Mulder didn't answer.

She filled the tea kettle with water and placed it on the stove, igniting the gas burner. Mulder walked over to his coat and pulled the small box from the pocket. He stared for a long time at the red bow on top, gathering his resolve.

He walked into the kitchen and stood behind her. She turned her head slightly. He put his hands on either side of her on the counter. He then pulled them away leaving the box next to her right hand. He moved his hands to her waist.

"Open it," he said, his voice quavering.

"Mulder, what the..."

She picked up the small box. He kept her pinned against the counter not allowing her to turn and face him just yet. He was so nervous about her reaction. She untied the red ribbon and put it aside on the counter. She opened the box and he heard her breath catch. She spun in his arms and hugged him tightly. He felt her start to cry lightly.

"You like it Scully? You seemed pretty interested in the store."

"I love it Mulder," she said into his chest.

"Here," he pushed her away slightly and wiped her tears away with his thumb. He took the necklace from her and clasped it around her neck. "I know you want me to hold on to the cross, but your neck looked lonely," he said wryly.

She chuckled and bent up and gave him a kiss on the cheek. She lingered a little longer because she loved the feel of his skin. She felt him give her hand a little squeeze. Butterflies fluttered in her stomach. "I'm still nervous about this?" she mused, "We're still nervous about this? Yes, I guess we are," she thought with bemusement. They reluctantly backed away from one another. She pulled two mugs from the cabinet next to her. Mulder began rummaging around in another cabinet.

"What are you looking for?" she asked with a touch of amusement in her voice.

He turned and regarded her seriously. "Honey."

"Oh. Other cabinet, top shelf."

She listened as he fumbled around. A muffled "Ah ha," signalled he'd found it. The tea kettle whistled and she pulled it off the burner. She poured the hot water into the two mugs over the tea bags. She picked up Mulder's mug and placed it next to him. He was struggling with the top to the honey jar.

He worked with it until the lid jumped free with a loud pop. The sudden movement caught Mulder off guard and Scully stifled a giggle as his thumb slipped into the jar and became coated with the sticky substance.

"Shit." He pulled his hand from the jar and started to move his sugar coated digit up to his mouth but Scully grabbed his arm. His eyes flicked to hers and they stood there for what seemed like an eternity merely staring into the other's face.

Finally, Scully moved her small hands down Mulder's arm. She slowly pulled his hand to her and drew his sticky thumb into her mouth. She sucked at it at first, her cheeks hollowing from the effort. Then she swirled her tongue over his thumb, making sure to sweep up every last bit of the honey.

Mulder's jaw dropped. He felt electricity run straight from his thumb to his groin. Her lips still surrounded his thumb. Visions of what other parts of his body would look like in that same place jumped into his head unbidden. He pulled his thumb slightly out of her mouth but allowed it to rest on her full bottom lip. He ran it over the surface, delighting in the softness there.

He silently wondered what the hell they were doing. "OK, that's a stupid question," he thought as he stroked her lip. This sort of thing had been going on all day. "Christ I want her so much," he thought staring into her eyes. And he knew she wanted him too. They had been flirting. Little touches and glances. The way she'd touched the cross around his neck and then settled against him. She'd said she loved him, God, she'd wanted to make love to him all ready. And still he didn't have the courage to follow where his feelings were leading them? He let out a shuddering breath.

She'd been with him during every tiny, cherished and tender moment and now, as he looked into her face, he could tell exactly where things were headed He'd sensed it since they'd been in that store together. Finally, he welcomed it. There would be no more reluctance, no more hestitation, no more denial. Mulder felt like he was riding on an out of control speeding locomotive and his heart rejoiced in the knowledge that now, at last, he never wanted the ride to stop.

She took the jar of honey from his hand. She sat it down on the counter behind her. Then she dipped one of her fingers into the jar and scooped up a blob on her index finger. She pushed it to his lips.

He opened his mouth and took her delicate finger in, sucking the sweet liquid from her. His ears started to ring. She began sucking on his thumb again. Even now Mulder could hardly believe they were doing this. He watched her mouth making little sucking motions. He was positively on fire and Scully was ablaze with passion. Of all of his fantasies, this moment surpassed them all. He had no idea something so simple could be so erotic He released her finger. He wanted to kiss her.

"Scully..." his voice was husky.

She scooped some more honey from the jar and placed the blob on his bottom lip. She took a step closer to him and his thumb left her mouth. She leaned forward and took his lower lip into her mouth and sucked. He felt her tongue dart out and lick away the honey. She backed away slightly, hovering inches from his mouth.

"Yes Mulder." It was a statement, vague at best, but Mulder knew what she was saying with her mouth and her eyes. He wanted her and she was saying she wanted him. The air around them was heavily charged. Mulder brought his badly shaking hands up to her face. A tear slipped down his cheek. He had to be sure.

"God, Scully. I love you so much. But, if you don't want this...if this isn't...I mean, after all that's happened..."

"Mulder," she turned her head and kissed one of his palms. Her lips burned at the touch. "I want you to make love to me. I'm more sure about that now than I ever was before. I want to share this pleasure with you more than anything else in the world. I need to." She ran her palms along his lean chest.

He surprised her slightly with the speed at which his mouth covered hers The kiss was searing hot and searching. She could still taste the honey She moved a hand around to hold his head and deepen the kiss. Their lips worked frantically over one another until she opened her mouth to allow his tongue. She probed his mouth learning every nook and cranny, savoring his taste.

She moved her one hand from his head and the other down his chest and began to pull the shirt from his pants. She quickly worked it free and then began to work on his buttons. She finally ripped through the last ones in a frustrated attempt to get him naked as quickly as possible. She reached up and pushed the shirt off his shoulders leaving him in only his thin t-shirt.

His shaking hands fluttered down from her head to the hem of the shirt she was wearing. He pulled it free from her silk, flowered skirt. He broke their kiss and pushed her shirt up over her head and dropped it on the floor next to his. She moved for his t-shirt but he stopped her, and pulled it off himself. They both stood staring at one another breathing raggedly.

Mulder felt the heat rising in his body as he looked at her. She was flushed and aroused, just as he was. His eyes lingered on the pale peach bra she was wearing. The small scrap of fabric that held her breasts the way he longed to. He just wanted to touch her all over. Her body was so beautiful. He could almost content himself by staring at her like this for hours. Almost.

He stepped closer to her and effectively pinned her against the counter. He kissed her hard but then abruptly moved back. He pulled a finger up to her lips and traced their softness again. She drew the finger in and sucked on it lightly. His mind was mesmerized by her lips. His body was aroused. He felt the dull throb between his legs, he was getting hard, and he shifted uncomfortably. He pulled his finger from her lips and trailed it down her neck to her breasts. He circled her rapidly hardening nipples through the satiny fabric of her bra. Her mouth fell open. He leaned in and kissed her again, then pulled back.

"Scully, I, I love your skin, it's, God, it's like silk."

She said nothing but made quick work of his belt and unzipped his pants. He sucked in his bottom lip as her hands traced his length through his cotton boxer shorts. He gasped.

"Well, I guess that answers the question on whether I'm going to come to attention this time," he tried to chuckle but it came out as a groan Scully smiled, as her fingers teased him.

"My self-control is gone...are we gonna do this here?" he asked hoarsely.

She withdrew her hands and slid his pants down his legs. He stepped out of his pants and took off his socks.

"Is that a yes?" he said making a move for her skirt. She smiled back at him again and removed her bra. He took the garment from her and dropped it to the floor. He slid his hands up her waist and cupped her breasts. Sweat beaded on his brow as he finally touched the bare skin of her breasts. He then moved his finger up to touch the knot hanging around her neck. He bent his head and kissed it. He then slid the silky fabric of her skirt and her tights down her legs. He paused to press a kiss into the insides of her thighs. He heard her sigh. She stepped out of the garments and back into his arms.

"Yes, Mulder."

They stood very close, with only their underwear separating them. She stared at his chest and then tangled her fingers in the crisp hairs between his pectorals. Then she moved her hands up to stroke the gold cross around his neck. His hands slid around her back and pulled her in closer. She leaned forward and kissed the cross and the flesh below it.

He wondered if it was some sort of benediction to her. She kissed his chest again but kept working her way up. She stopped momentarily to suck lightly on his adam's apple. He swallowed hard.

She was standing on tip toe now and he bent over to give her better access He almost lost it when she traced the outside of his ear with her tongue He felt its wet slide come to a stop on his earlobe where she sucked it lightly.

"I want to give myself to you Mulder, just like I gave you the cross. I want you to know how much you mean to me, how much I trust you, how much faith I have in you, how much I love you," she whispered.

She heard him swallow. "Oh God Scully," he gasped and then brought his hand up to her face. "I love you more than life itself," he said looking in her eyes and then she leaned forward and kissed him deeply.

She felt him drop his hand and then she felt his thumb circling her nipple lazily. She groaned into his mouth, then ground her hips against his. He pulled his head away from the kiss and gripped her waist. She shot him a quizzical look, but before she could say anything he lifted her onto the counter. He bent his head and kissed her fiercely, sucking on her lower lip in his passion.

She tangled her fingers in his hair as their tongues dueled again. She lifted her head as he kissed down her throat. She gasped when he strayed over to bite her earlobe. He started with the lobe and then licked and tongued her entire ear. He slowly worked his way down until his lips covered one of her breasts. He slowly swirled his tongue around the nipple, teasing it the way she had with his thumb earlier.

"Oh God, Mulder, that feels so good." She tightened her grip on his head.

He moved to her other breast and gave it much the same attention. She released his head and moved her hands down his chest. She rolled his male nipples between her thumb and forefinger. She heard him groan against her breasts. Her abdomen began to flutter with the heat of her arousal.

"You're so beautiful," he whispered.

His hands were still on her waist and he gently tugged at her panties. With a small amount of struggling he worked them free and down her legs. He tossed them on the floor with the rest of their clothes. He turned his head back to her and they stared at one another. She watched the rapid rise and fall of his chest, then lowered her eyes to his straining erection, making a tent of the fabric of his boxers. He reached back over to her and pulled her to the edge of the counter. She realized what he was about to do.

"Yesss Mulder."

He stroked her with his finger and she felt her inner moisture begin to flow, she was incredibly wet. He rubbed her clitoris gently and then harder. She gasped and he covered her mouth with a fevered kiss. He reluctantly broke away.

"You have no idea what this does to me Scully," he said raggedly. Then he lowered his head and stroked between her folds with his tongue. She held onto his shoulders and cried out. She felt him suckling at her clit with his teeth. Her hips bucked awkwardly against him. He probed, licked, sucked and laved until she was mewling incoherently. She felt tight, like she would break, but oh God she wanted to.

"GODMULDER!"

Mulder was experiencing total rapture. He could hardly fathom what he was doing, with Scully. With Scully. She was responding to his ministrations in ways that he had only dreamed could be possible. Mulder couldn't believe he was capable of giving her this kind of pleasure, but he was. She was purring his name and tangling her fingers in his hair. He was unbearably aroused, but he pushed the feelings aside. He wanted...needed this to be about her.

He lifted his head away from her and looked into her eyes, replacing his mouth with two of his strong fingers. Her eyes slipped shut, her head fell back and her mouth fell open.

He increased his pace and her thighs began to quiver. Her breathing was shallow and she was mouthing all sorts of nonsensical words. She let one hand trail down to stroke where his fingers entered her body. He could feel her inner muscles clenching around his fingers and he could tell she was close.

"Come for me, Scully."

"OHGODMULDER!" she shouted as spasms rocked her body and she toppled off the counter into his arms. He pulled her onto the floor and over his body He held her tightly as shudders of pleasure rippled through her. He kissed her face and stroked her back until her breathing calmed.

He was dimly aware the floor beneath him was cold but the rest of his body was so hot, it more than made up for the slight discomfort. She stirred in his embrace and then sat up, straddling his waist. He could still feel moist heat radiating from her core against his stomach. He ran his hands along her arms as she regarded him under hooded eyes.

"Mulder that was...incredible," she said softly. She ran her hands over his chest, reveling in the feel of his skin beneath hers. Then she moved a hand behind her and found his length and began to lightly stroke it through his boxers. He gasped. "But I think it was a little one sided."

"I wanted to give you that," he said touching her face. "I just want to touch you everywhere. I want to make you feel a fraction of what I feel for you. I can't get enough Scully...But I have an idea, let's take this somewhere a little more...comfortable."


She nodded and stood up. She offered him her hand and he rose up next to her. She pulled him close to her and kissed him, then twined her fingers with his and led him into the living room, she grabbed a blanket from the sofa as she passed.

She made her way to the fireplace and spread the blanket out on the floor in front of it. She knelt in front of him. He moved to sit next to her but she stopped him. She hooked her fingers into the sides of his boxers and pulled them down. He stepped out of them and she tossed them to the side She took his length in her hand again and ran her fingers from base to tip.

"AHH...Scully..."

A small drop of liquid appeared at the head of his penis and she swirled it around the top. Then she bent forward and took him in her mouth, lightly sucking on the head to tease him. He growled and gripped her shoulders. The wood popped in the fire.

She slid her lips all the way down his length, swirling her tongue around him. She bobbed her head up and down making him moan. His hips bucked slightly with her efforts. She began to move more quickly and she heard him take in a sharp breath.

Mulder tensed at the feelings she was invoking. His whole body prickled with each lap of her tongue. He thought he would go insane but he wouldn't mind losing it this way, not at all. She stopped briefly and looked into his eyes. His face was a grimace of pleasure. His fingers clenched slightly on her shoulders. She resumed her ministrations. Mulder's legs began to tremble.

He moaned low in his throat and then he touched Scully's hair, "Scully, STOP! I...I don't want to come yet."

Scully released his cock and gently kissed him on the stomach.

Mulder went down on his knees before her, placing one knee on either side of her thighs. He kissed her mouth then moved further down to her chin, neck and the hollow of her throat. He wanted to kiss every square inch of her body. He moved lower still but paused when the gold cross around his neck came to rest between Scully's breasts. Right where it used to rest The small cross was just touching the silver knot he'd just placed around her neck. He looked back up into her eyes.

She brought her palm to his face, he placed a warm kiss inside it. He took her other hand and kissed that palm as well. Then he stretched both her arms up and out to the side. His fingers entwined with hers for a moment and then he released her hands and slid his hands down her arms. He cupped her breasts, bent forward, and suckled at them both in turn. Scully cried out and wound her arms around his neck. The fire crackled.

He kissed her breasts, then worked his way to her navel and swirled his tongue around it. Her stomach muscles twitched and he kissed along the trembling movement. He loved the way she tasted and the way her skin felt under his touch. He felt her moving restlessly under his lips. He looked back up at her.

"Mulder please. I want you inside me."

Mulder felt an explosion go off in his head. Her words staggered him. She wanted him. Him. He still couldn't believe he was worthy of her desire but here she was begging for him. He burned like the fire raging in front of them. His body was smoldering from the touches she was now giving him and the words falling from her lips. He gently pushed her back and she laid down on the blanket on the floor.

"Jesus, yes," Mulder replied in a quiet voice.

Scully raised her arms towards him. Mulder bent forward and let himself be enveloped by her arms and then her legs as she spread then to admit his hips. She cradled him between her knees.

"Scully, just, just hold me..." he whispered into her neck.

At last, he moved to enter her. She reached between them and took him in her hand to guide him to her. Mulder bent his head to kiss her. Their necklaces intertwined. Finally, with one thrust, he was inside Dana Scully Scully gasped slightly, but then she stroked his back as he settled against

her. They lay connected for a moment each savoring the sensation of their bodies joined at last. Mulder rose up slightly to look into Scully's face He stroked her hair. Her smell, and her wonderful warmth, and tightness were intoxicating. He never wanted to leave her embrace. He grunted slightly as he felt her body spasm around him.

"God, Mulder you feel so good."

"Oh Scully..."

He couldn't hold back any longer. He began to pump his hips and she gripped his shoulders and rose to meet him. They moved slowly at first, learning one another's rhythm. He braced himself on his forearms as he slid back and forth. She raised her hips to meet his and then gripped his waist. The necklaces twisted together further, becoming helplessly tangled. Neither noticed what was happening to their jewelry.

She drew her knees up so he could plunge deeper and she moved her hands around to grip his ass. He picked up the speed.

"Mulder, oh, please, faster, it's...oh...harder!"

Their thighs slapped together and he freed a hand to stroke her clit. She cried out. Her body began tensing, she could tell she was about to fall over the edge again. She pumped and rotated her hips under him. Mulder was bathed in sweat, his mouth hung open and his breathe came in short gasps.

"Scully, don't stop moving like that, Jesus, please, OH DEAR GOD."

Mulder started to groan in time with his thrusts as he drove into Scully's hot, tight body. He was almost beyond thought and he cried out, sobbing incoherently. He struggled to bite off his cries, so that he could concentrate on what his hand was doing between them.

Scully looked up at Mulder's face but her eyes were drawn back to the gold cross and silver knot dangling between them. The tangle of metals only slightly distracted her as she realized how intricately they were linked both literally, by two chains, and figuratively, by two souls. A religion born of love, respect and trust. Had she found a new faith?

Mulder made a growling sound at the back of his throat and then he was begging her to come with him. He was so close but he wanted to bring her over with him.

"Please Scully, come with me," he pleaded.

She felt his finger circling furiously between them and then suddenly she was crashing over the edge.

"MULDERRRRR," she shrieked as her entire body convulsed.

Mulder felt her tighten around his cock and then he cried out, "OHGODDANA!" as he pistoned forward tightly against her. As his ejaculation filled her, he closed his eyes and pumped his hips again, and again, in ecstasy as her body milked him.

Scully felt him empty himself into her. She arched up to meet his last few weak thrusts and then caught him as he collapsed on top of her. She rolled them on their sides, still joined and they stroked one another until their breathing slowed and became more regular. Finally, Mulder tenderly kissed her forehead and pulled out. He shifted to lay on his back, pulling Scully with him and she moved over him and cuddled close.

"Oh Christ, I...I...this was..." Mulder began, "I love you," he whispered He was really at a loss for words as he stroked Scully's hair.

Scully ran her hands over the tangle of jewelry. She gently untwisted the chains, smoothing the cross back down over Mulder's chest. She loved seeing it hanging around his neck.

In a selfish way, Scully thought of it as marking him as hers. Yet in another way it symbolized the trust and love she'd given him.

"I want you to always wear this Mulder."

He bent his head to look at her. "I'll wear it as long as you want me to, Scully. But it will always belong to you, just like the body and soul that wears it."

He touched the knot around her throat and sighed. He pulled her closer and she snuggled her head under his chin. "The Celtic knot deals with an eternal life journey doesn't it, Scully?"

"Yes," she replied softly.

"I see us that way," he said matter of factly, "I'll love you eternally and I see us forever linked like the whirls of that knot."

She moved her head back and kissed his lips softly. "I like that Mulder No, I love it. I always want to be with you. If not always in body at least always in spirit."

She kissed him and tucked her head back under his chin. She snuggled in closer to him and fell asleep as he gently stroked her back. Her thoughts drifted to dreams. But for the first time in a long time, her dreams weren't frightening and she welcomed the thoughts sleep brought.


Later...

Somehow during sleep Mulder and Scully had become spooned together, Scully nestled against the front of Mulder's body. She shifted against him slightly and mumbled something in her sleep. Mulder woke and noticed the fire had burned low. He reached a hand around and drew the blanket that was under them up around them both.

He gently kissed the back of Scully's neck and than he lazily began to rub his hand down her shoulder and over across her stomach.

The delightful friction of Mulder's hand moving sensuously against her belly woke Scully a moment later. "Mmmm...Mulder, how long have we been asleep?"

"A little while," his voice was low and gravelly, "are you all right?" he continued sucking her earlobe into his mouth. She groaned. His hand slipped lower and teased the auburn curls at the apex of her thighs. Her body unconsciously arched into his and her ass ground against his cock. He was rock hard again.

"God, Mulder you're insatiable," she breathed.

"What do you expect? I've been waiting for you for so long."

She rolled over to face him. Tears were forming in his eyes. She felt her own eyes mist over. She loved him so much. She cupped his face in her hands and kissed him softly on the lips. She moved away and murmured, "I love you," then kissed him again, "I want you," kiss, "I need you."

As she came back to his lips, she felt his hands grip her head and hold her against his mouth. Their tongues snaked out and chased one another. His hands drifted down her body. One of his fingers found its way inside her folds, she was wet.

"Seems I'm not the only one who's insatiable," he said into her mouth. He moved his hands and she groaned at the loss of contact. He sat up and pulled her with him. A wicked smile crossed his features.

"We've consecrated the kitchen and the living room," his voice was full of mirth, "care to try the bedroom for a change?"

She stiffened and looked down shyly. The smile left his face and worry took it's place. She was suddenly withdrawing from him.

"Hey, what is it?"

His use of the word consecrate had reminded her that there were other reasons Mulder wore her cross. She reached over and touched it again. She was dimly aware she had continually touched it since she'd given it to him She could only deal with it in the context of something that was on his body. She could bring herself to touch Mulder but not God. Her desire to do so led her to force him to wear the cross, to bare her sins so she could cope.

She was overwhelmed with love and guilt. She had done so many things for Mulder, taken on his demons, monsters and aliens. She'd taken punishment for him and suffered the ire of her superiors because of her association with him. She had figuratively now done the same to him, by forcing a God on him that he didn't believe in so that she might continue. Was it any different then him dragging her into his quest? Equality. Through some bizarre sequence of events and circumstances they'd come full circle.

She picked the tiny cross up in her hand. "I want to believe, Mulder." She lifted her eyes to his. "God, I don't know how I would have made it these last few weeks, the last years without you. I can't believe I was so stupid. All of the shit that has happened to me caused me to doubt my faith because I didn't see anything positive in my life...in what was happening to me...but it was there all along. You, Mulder. You are a miracle to me Without you I would have died, if not from the cancer from all the rest."

Mulder put his hand over Scully's hand as she held the cross. He pulled her hand and the cross closer until both their hands rested over his heart.

"Scully, Listen. I've told you more than once that you've always had the strength of your beliefs. I still think that's true. If you want to put that strength here, in me, so be it. I'd be honored to have your faith in me. But Scully, this is only flesh and blood and weak flesh and blood at that. I love you and I trust you with my life. That will always be true But, I don't think I qualify for your miracle and I think you know that too."

Scully put her head against his chest and he enfolded her in his arms. She still gripped the cross tightly in her hand.

"Mulder, if I can't believe in you, what can I believe in?" Scully asked quietly.

Mulder pushed her gently back and stared into her face. Scully's lower lip was trembling. Mulder removed her hand from the cross and then he reached behind his neck and started to unclasp it's chain. Scully stopped him.

"No Mulder. I appreciate what you are trying to do. I think I understand now that my faith is important to me but you are just as important to me. I want you to keep that so I can always be with you in some form, just as I can keep this knot around my neck to always be with you."

"But Scully, it's also a symbol of your faith."

"I know. Mulder, I can get another cross. The necklace isn't important to the faith, the feelings are. Thanks to you I think I'm getting them back You've believed in me, stood by me, put up with me...You are a miracle to me and I've drawn so much strength from you these last few weeks. I don't need a piece of jewelry when I have the strength of my beliefs and YOURS."


Monday, January 26, 1998, 4 AM

Dear Journal:

Words cannot describe the utter and unfettered joy I feel this morning. I'm writing this at Scully's kitchen table as she sleeps peacefully in the bedroom nearby. I just had to get up to put my thoughts here because, really little book, this is going to be my last entry in you for now - more about that later. Excuse me if this is a bit disjointed. I am still walking in a dream. I don't want to wake up either.

Why? Because this morning I am whole. I am complete now for the first time in my entire pathetic, lonely, self-obsessed life. My God, I have found my soulmate. I have found the love of my life and she's returned that love ten fold. Dana Scully loves me. God in heaven!

We made love last night. More than once. Jesus, it was - I can't even tell you how wonderful that felt, I...I still can't believe Dana Scully would want me at all. To have given her pleasure...to have received such pleasure from her in return. It's a miracle. She is a miracle. I felt so protected and fulfilled inside her. I know she felt the same. Christ, there was no doubt about her feelings for me as we made love. When we held each other, we never wanted to leave each other's arms.

I want to have her by my side for the rest of my life and it fills my heart with total elation to know she wants me by her side as well.

I still wear her cross. But she told me her faith is returning because of me - because of ME! My God! I hope I am worthy of her trust and I hope I can live up to the strength of her beliefs in me. I know that I will try my level best. I will strive to succeed. She deserves nothing else.

The only sad note this morning comes from knowing that we have lost our daughter. I still feel a tremendous emptiness in my soul over that loss. I know Scully feels it as well and that angers and saddens me even more. I struggle not to descend into violent emotions over Elizabeth's death and the violations Scully and I were forced to endure at the hands of The Cigarette Smoking Man.

But it's hard. I have to stay calm for Scully. I want to be strong for her at last. I don't want to lose my head. It will be more easy to stay strong now that I know she values my help and loves me for it.

I can only say that Elizabeth, like Emily, was doomed from birth. It IS a horrible tragedy. But I draw some solace from the fact that Scully and I can truly comfort each other now over our loss. We can take strength from the death of both those children and use that strength for the battle ahead. It may be the only positive aspect of the whole horrendous affair.

And oh yes, I do have a vow to make here. I swear that if that black- lunged bastard didn't die in the fire, I will see that he roasts in hell over a low flame, and on a turning spit, before I am through. On my honor, dear journal. He will burn.

But I've had enough with these thoughts of revenge. Perhaps I'm not the one to deal out vengence anyway. And besides, those thoughts all pale in comparison and fade away in my celebration of last night and this day, as it dawns bright and clear. I will revel in Scully. I will bask in the warmth of our love. Sure, the road ahead may be rocky, but hey, we'll be on it together now. I mean REALLY together. I love her so much. I will never let her down again.

And now, I will stop writing. I intend this to be my last secret entry in you journal. I will take you, little book, in my hands, and with your pages unlocked and open. I will carry you into the bedroom where my lover lies sleeping. There will be no more secrets between us. I will no longer hold anything back from Scully. She deserves to know the truth just as I have sought it every day since I became aware of the X-Files. So, I will close this journal now, but it's pages will remain open to Dana Scully, just like my heart.

** Fox Mulder, January 26, 1998 "Vincit Omnia Veritas - Truth Conquers All Things." but: "Amor Vincit Omnia - Love Conquers All".


Author's Notes

frogdoggie's Author's Notes:

Greetings gentle reader. This is frogdoggie a.k.a. Jay Fox talking here When I was a small frogdoggie one of my most favorite phrases in all the world was: "Let's pretend." I'd like to amend that phrase now to: "Let's pretend with a friend." The friend is Crash. A friend and writer perceptive, wise, and talented, who has forced me to stretch ever farther in pursuit of writing excellence. A friend I value highly even though I have only known her for a short time. A friend who is fun and supportive and imaginative enough to match me idea, for crazy idea, and who keeps me honest in the bargain.

Sure, we've messed with the X-Files mytharc in this story. Hey, what the heck, it was fun. And besides, I always prescribe to the axiom, "do what thou whilt" when it comes to fan fic. It's time to rock and roll, folks, and Crash and I are playing lead guitar!

And what an adventure it was to collaborate with Crash as well! This woman is a dynamo, a creator of electric sparks that flew from her across cyberspace to energize my heart and mind in the joint process of creation.

So, behold the product of our efforts, dear reader. It rises like the proverbial Post Modern Prometheus. It dances, it tumbles and it floats on air. And it only asks one thing of you all, it says "Please - ENJOY!"

Bests, frogdoggie a.k.a. J. Fox

"Natural things exist only a little; reality lies only in dreams." ** Baudelaire (Paradis artificiels)


Crash's Author's Notes:

One of my writing teachers once told our class that writing was one of the most isolating occupations one could take up. True, when I write I spend many lonely hours at my computer pounding away.

I've had the wonderful good fortune to work with frogdoggie on this piece That much of the experience, I assure you, was anything BUT isolating. I think the two of us probably fried several phone wires with our constant e-mails back and forth. Collaborating in the cyberworld is no easy task.

A word of thanks to my co-author, not only for the kind words above but, for keeping me going when I felt like I was running out of steam. He has truly been a joy to work with and possesses the patience of Job. I have the damnable habit of constantly wanting to tweak things and he's never so much as once offered to complain.

I've little to add to his comments, other than to say he has helped me to expand my horizons as well and I sincerely hope this piece of fanfic is evidence of that.

I'd also like to say a word of thanks to three other very helpful people First, frog's wife for putting up with this little creative venture and for being willing to help edit. You're the greatest. To Ten, for demanding all 15 parts because you simply couldn't wait to read our rough Ramblings. And also to Janis, who certainly made a Herculean effort of searching for errors. Thanks ladies.

I also want to thank you for reading our little story and I sincerely hope you enjoyed it. We had a ball writing it, but our ultimate satisfaction comes from having you good folks enjoy the fruits of our labor.

Thanks for reading.

Best, Crash

"I really like sculpture. There are no editors involved." -John Deering, Editorial cartoonist

-THE END OF THE WHOLE STORY, REALLY!-


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