TITLE: Holiday Party OR "Isn’t we supposed to be having a fiesta?!"

AUTHOR: Sita

SUMMARY: The Doggetts throw a party for their "extended family".

TIME/SETTING: Post-Series. Over three and a half years after "The Truth".

SPOILERS: Probably only ones for my own series within the Cerril-verse. I promise to get to them eventually.

DISCLAIMER: This story is mine damnit! Forget who came up with XF. I’m owner for the purposes here. (Umm, do I need a disclaimer for that disclaimer? Nah, ain’t getting paid.)

BACKSTORY: This story is for NeoX’s Holiday/Kid Fic challenge.

AUTHOR’S NOTE OF READER CONFUSION: I understand that this story will make everyone who reads it take a step back and utter a "what the hell is going on?". Just please read and enjoy and don’t worry about the future. The present is here with us now. Ok, ok, I know this story is set in the near future and references the past of the characters, but the characters are having a good time in their present and not worrying about their dangerous future. So read and have fun!

Wyoming

December 24, 2005 (Saturday)

4:02 pm

"How are you feelin’ now?" John whispered as he sat on the edge of the bed.

Monica gave a very low groan, then blinked her eyes open. She stared up at him with an almost empty look on her face, then closed her eyes again. He had the urge to wonder if she was close to voicing blame on him for what she was going through. He hoped he’d be laughing at the absurdness of the thought. But he held his breath, just in case.

"I’ll be alright." She finally said after a long pause. Her hand snaked out from under the pillow and settled on his thigh. She rubbed a small circle of warmth into his jeans.

John smoothed his fingers over her short but quickly growing curls when suddenly her hand stopped moving.

"What are you wearing tonight?", she said, her eyes still closed.

John looked down at his simple T-shirt and jeans. "Don’t know yet, but I’ll change. I was helping Reina in the kitchen."

Monica coughed at the joke. "Where is she now?" She slowly sat up, John’s arm looped low behind her back.

"Taking a nap." He leaned in and planted a light kiss on her lips.

When she pushed him away, he was slightly confused. But when she scrambled off the bed with her hand cupped over her mouth, he figured it out. At one week shy of five months, wasn’t morning sickness supposed to be over, he thought.

"Sorry!", he yelled. After listening to his wife lose her lunch, or was it breakfast this time, he heard her yell back, "No you’re not!"

A short time passed and she emerged from the bathroom. "Neither one of us are." Her characteristic smile was back. Her smile turned into an excited grin, like she’d gotten a great idea. "We should match!" She clapped her hands together as she rushed to their closet.

5:30 pm

The doorbell rung, a nice lyrical chime that the little girl of the house picked out just days before, and her father installed.

Monica made her way down the stairs and John met her from the living room. They both wore red over green. Monica had an off-shoulders angora sweater and a long satiny skirt. John had on a snowmen button-up sweater with dark corduroy pants, that his wife thought was "Oh so cute!"

"She’s still asleep, but she’s got her dress on. Let’s go greet our guests." Monica announced cheerfully as she looped her arm around John’s.

The door opened and on the extremely festive front porch stood Dana Scully and Fox Mulder. Mulder was carrying a medium sized box covered in frolicking reindeer wrapping paper. Scully had her hands tucked under her arms to keep them warm, even though she had a thick coat with a fleece-lined hood pulled almost down over her face. The coat looked like it may have actually belonged to Mulder since the sleeves were past her hands and the bottom hung to her knees.

"Welcome, so glad you could make it to the party!" Monica’s bubbly hostess alter-ego erupted. "Come on in!" She herded Mulder and Scully through the door. "How was your trip?" she asked as both she and John took their coats.

"It was maddening in its redundancy.", Scully said huffily as she shed the parka, uncovering what her very full face strongly belied.

Scully was trying hard not to feel envious as she got a good look at her taller friend for the first time since August. According to their intimate exchange of information, Dana and Monica found out that they’d conceived less than an hour apart. Different time zones not factoring in. But of course, by an effect of biology, Monica carried her weight so much better. Dana thought Monica looked graceful, unlike her own "Porky Pig" self. And the cold even made her pink to boot. The added fact that Monica was carrying twins made Dana feel that much worse. She sighed as she lightly bit her bottom lip.

Mulder put his arm around her as John took the present to a side table. "She was bored out of her mind. It kind of bummed her out." He kissed his wife on the temple, eliciting a cringe and frown from the redhead. He let her go with a smirk.

Monica hung their coats up on the long strip of wooden hooks then slipped her long arm around Dana’s back. "I love your outfit, Dana." She hugged the shorter woman. "You look very beautiful."

That got a smile from the shorter woman. Her tinge of jealousy was gone. "Thank you. It took me a while to find something that looked good and fit comfortably. You look amazing yourself." She looked around at the large vaulted ceilings as Monica led her to the living room where the furniture had been moved to the perimeter of the room. "Your house is beautiful!"

Following slowly behind, John and Mulder were talking about the other guests yet to arrive. Mulder noticed that when Monica reached over to tuck a stray lock of hair back behind Scully’s ear, his wife didn’t even flinch. She actually turned and smiled at her taller friend.

"Well that’s not fair." He said blandly.

John, who was in the middle of saying something, paused. "What?"

Mulder made a gesture at Monica and Dana. They now were sitting on the couch with their faces close together whispering under the volume of the not-so loud music playing through the house speaker system. They both watched as Monica gently cupped her hand behind Dana’s head and leaned in to tell her something directly in her ear. Whatever it was, it made Dana laugh.

"When I try to touch her, she looks like she’s ready to beat me down." Mulder stated.

John tried not to crack a smile, but didn’t quite keep it at bay.

"Yeah, very funny."

"Well don’t feel bad, she loves you. Just think of the treatment I took during the first pregnancy until she worked her way up to just trusting me." John thought of the past he’d brought up and started to say something to reduce whatever emotions Mulder would feel, but it seems that Mulder planned on overlooking it.

"What about Reyes, I mean Monica?" Mulder corrected himself.

John looked at him, his lips slightly parted.

"Unless that would be prying of me?"

"Uhh…" John started.

***

Much Earlier That Day

3:45 am

John woke up with a harsh gasp. He quickly lifted his head and blinked hard to see in the low blue light from the moon reflecting off the snow outside. Monica’s head appeared from under the covers.

"You’re awake." Monica smirked at him, her knee gently nudging that part of him which still had her saliva on it as she slid herself up his abdomen.

"God, Mon! You’re gonna give me a heart attack one night.", he snorted as he flopped back into the pillows.

"But you’re my big," she ducked her head and drug her tongue across his nipple, "strong," she drug her tongue across the opposite nipple, "amante atractiva."

After placing her leg the rest of the way across him, she eased herself down until her pelvis was flush with his. Circling her hips slightly elicited a groan from John. She licked from the underside of his chin up to his lips then across to nip his earlobe as she gently caressed the other side of his face and over his closed eyelid. He could have sworn he heard her purring.

She whispered in his ear. "Quiero joderle hasta que usted chille." To prove her words, she raised her hips then dropped them quickly back down.

"Oh My God!"

***

John’s eyes came back into focus as he remembered he had begun to answer Mulder. The slightly taller man was waiting patiently.

"She’s… she’s totally the opposite."" He said diplomatically.

And that was all he was going to say, Mulder could make his own conclusions. John wouldn’t be sure if Mulder did or didn’t since he changed the subject.

"So, who’s coming tonight?"

"Some of our new neighbors are coming, but most are people that you know."

"Our people, you mean." Mulder said with am impish grin.

"Whatever. You know what I mean." John grumbled good-naturedly. "Renè is on his way. And you’ll get to meet more of Monica’s sisters."

"More of them? How many does she have?" Mulder was astounded.

"Eleven that we know of. Monica’s mother is still adamant about not revealing the true number or if she knows of their whereabouts until her children themselves find their way to her."

"Wow, secretive lady. Ya gotta love the boss."

"Oh yeah." John agreed. "I have a suspicion that she’s actually not sure how many are alive and she wants to save herself some grief, or more of it." John looked across to his and Mulder’s cozy looking wives. "Let’s get off the sob subject, ok."

"Ok. Where’s the most gorgeous, most intelligent little fairy we’ve ever known?"

John smiled at the appropriate dual comment of his daughter. "She’s still asleep."

As the two men passed the stairs, Mulder just happened to look up. A small figure stood at the top, a nightlight shone a golden glow to the little girl’s face. "The fairy’s awake."

John turned to see Reina standing at the top. Both hands were over her head on the banister as she took her first step down. John made a move to go up and get her, but Mulder nudged him.

"Mind if I go?"

At John’s negative nod, Mulder bounded up the stairs. He stopped quite a few steps down, putting himself almost at her level and leaned with one knee on a stair. "Hola, Reina."

Reina smiled shyly at him, her violet eyes flitted up briefly then back down at her feet. Mulder reached out and tickled her pale cheek with the side of his pinky finger.

"Hola, Tío Zorro.", she barely whispered.

"I’ve got a present for you." Mulder smiled at the little girl who was alternately lowering her head and peaking sidelong at him through the jet-black curls haloing her face. Mulder reached into his pocket and pulled out a small golden box. The size of a medium jewelry box. He playfully ducked his head to see her face as he handed it to her on his flat palm. She gingerly took and carefully released the bow keeping it closed. She opened it and Mulder saw a questioning look come to her violet eyes.

"Do you know what this means?"

She shook her head and finally looked up at him, but not for long. He felt compelled to duck his head again to try to regain eye contact.

"This means…" he reached in the box she held and removed the little necklace with a floral pendant. One white gold rose and one yellow gold side-by-side, both with tiny diamonds in the centers. He put it around her neck and fastened the crab claw clasp. "It would be an honor if you would be the flower girl at your Aunt Dana’s and my wedding."

"A wedding?" There was a bit more volume to her voice, but not much. "Yay!" she said with quiet enthusiasm as she circled her arms around his neck.

He inhaled as he brushed his hand over the perfect little curls at the base of Reina’s neck, being careful not to dislodge the faux wreath of mistletoe Monica had placed around her head. The scent of lavender floated in his nostrils. His thoughts drifted.

***

October 15, 2005

Former Doggett Residence

Canada

Mulder sped down the unpaved back road that was seldom used to reach the cabin. He’d gotten the urgent call and was the first to respond. He hoped he wasn’t the only one.

It had been Monica’s choice to live this far from civilization, and hopefully any unwanted watchful eyes. But it seemed not to be. Unfortunately THEY were everywhere. Plus, there was more than one THEY.

Mulder hoped whichever THEY it was now, he’d be able to get Monica and Reina out without the flood of backup he knew was on the way. He just didn’t know how far away that backup was.

Right now, he couldn’t think about that. All he could think about was watching where he was going on the road, Scully’s anxious face as he left her ten miles away at the safe house, and if he would reach Reyes and "Fairy" before…

He actually didn’t finish that thought. He couldn’t, not after he saw the flash of white against the trees.

Screeching to a halt on the muddy ground, he jumped out of the car and ran across the thick undergrowth and roots.

He easily caught up with the frightened child after she fell for the tenth time. He clamped his hand over her mouth and hid behind some bushes. Reina was very strong for her size and he almost couldn’t hold her as she kicked and twisted and even backhanded him in the face.

Taking a risk to calm her, he whispered in her ear. "Zorro."

Reina instantly went still and he moved his hand. She turned into his chest seemingly burrowing under his coat, her arms tightly gripping him as if she’d never let go. She didn’t even look up in his face to check, that one word was enough. He was partially thankful. Seeing the look of pure terror he knew her violet eyes held would have unmade him.

He heard a twig snap as the men, or at least they looked like men, who’d been chasing Reina slowed their approach after losing sight of her.

The little girl shivered violently in his arms. Her socks, the only thing on her feet, were dirty and soaked. She whimpered low in her throat, so low it was more a vibration than a sound.

Mulder took a peek over his left shoulder through the brush covering him and saw his car. It seemed so far away. It got even farther when a large body obstructed his view of it.

The way the body moved indicated that he and the others like him were not human.

Mulder pulled his coat even tighter around Reina. He breathed once and then again. He readied himself to run. He suddenly felt the front of his shirt become wet across his chest. Anger filled him, running through his blood, making him hot all over.

How dare they make this child cry? Not this beautiful child who’d done nothing in her short life to deserve any of this.

The "man" didn’t know what hit him, nor was Mulder sure of how he did it. He just knew he ran straight at the obstacle and he/it went down. The path was clear. He didn’t have time to wonder deeply about it all, the others were right behind him. And beside him, and maybe further in front of him.

So he just ran.

Held Reina tight and ran.

***

Mulder mentally shook it off.

That was a very bad day, but Reina seemed to have dealt with it as well as could be expected. And they all survived.

Mulder stood on the steps with the toddler in his arms. He couldn’t remember being this cognizant at her age. He didn’t even know what a wedding was back then. Not that he was completely clear on the whole idea of marriage even now, considering its true origins and his own first-hand witness of the turbulent union, and subsequent dissolution of, between his parents that didn’t give him much faith in the practice.

But he did have faith in Scully as she did in him. So to him, this was just a reflection of that faith.

Mulder came down the stairs with his precious cargo, her arms gently around his neck. "Look what I found!" Mulder announced to the room as he entered.

Monica and Dana stood and crossed the room so they could take turns fawning over the dark haired child.

***

6:51pm

There were at least 30 people in the house. All happily chattering away, either over their glasses of eggnog or wine or cider.

Mulder carried Reina around, though he’d relinquished his hold on her a handful of times in the last hour. She was back in his arms taking tiny sips of his sparkling grape juice.

Renè came up to them. "How ya doing, man?", his deep voice almost always had an undertone of mirth.

Mulder set the glass down to shake the bald, muscular man’s hand. "Good, things are great. Just hanging out with my little fairy here."

Renè playfully tapped the tip of Reina’s nose. Of course she ducked her head away, but still smiled.

"Why are you hanging with this old man here?"

"Hey!" Mulder protested. "She likes me. We’re buddies, aren’t we?" He bounced Reina a little till she giggled.

Renè noticed the new necklace catch the light. "That’s a pretty necklace, Reina."

"I just gave it to her."

"Ah, so we’re into bribery, eh?" Renè pulled a black velvet box from the pocket of his dress slacks. This was the first time Mulder had seen Renè in anything other than either jeans or loose leather pants. "Here you go, Fairy! A beautiful bracelet for an even more beautiful girl."

Reina watched as Renè placed the bracelet around her left wrist. The short length made her very thin arm look even more doll-like.

"What are you guys trying to do?" Monica came up behind them. "My baby is not for sale." Monica flashed a brilliant smile. Seeing as how she hadn’t been the one to greet Renè at the door, she did so now by throwing her arms around his broad shoulders. "Glad you could come!" Monica kissed Renè on the cheek.

"Wouldn’t miss it for the world.", he said slightly haltingly. Renè didn’t kiss her back, just in case John was watching.

***

September 28, 2005

Riker’s Pub

Toronto, Canada

Of course it had been a mistake to go on a guys’ night out in the first place. The second place was drinking all those beers. And the third, and most importantly stupid, place was when Renè slipped up.

The conversation was normal guy stuff: cars, sports and women.

"You know I’d had my share of one-night stands." Mulder said, his head hung low and swaying, full of liquor as it was.

"Hey, I could have sworn we were talking about sports." John said.

"That is a sport, Doggett!" Renè chimed, a little too chirpy for a man with such a deep voice.

"Hey, don’t pick on our resident family man. He’s in love with his wife and only his wife. Can’t fault him for being a stick in the mud." Mulder defended. He clapped a hand on John’s shoulder.

"You are too.", both John and Renè interjected.

"Yeah, well I don’t need to have a one-night stand now. I’ve got Scully for that."

John, the least drunk of the three, perked up. "I can’t believe you just said that."

"I, ummm… I didn’t mean it like it sounded. You know what I meant!" He said in stuttering defense.

"I still gotta tell her." John said in mock resignation.

"Please don’t!" Mulder’s eyes went wide with fear.

"I understand what you mean though." Renè said of the previous lead to the current conversation. "Some of the craziest shit I ever put on a girl was when I knew I’d never see her again. Or if I knew that would be the extent of the relationship." Every other word was in a different world accent, Renè being the former CIA chameleon, but he was still intelligible.

"Yeah, that’s what I’m saying!" Mulder put his fist up. He and Renè touched knuckles.

John just shook his head. "You guys are sick."

Mulder went on. "Come on, out with it men." He sat up with confidence. "How, what, when and who."

"I got a doozy for ya, but you go first."

Mulder thought he was talking to him, but Renè turned to John.

"Sorry to be the stuffed shirt, but I’m strictly missionary." Amongst the sounds of "boo"s, raspberries and "yeah right, whatever"s, John went on. "I just don’t find tossing my partner this way and that to be a very pleasured experience. And I’ve divulged way more information than ever in my life so I’m shutting up now." John took a long drink of his beer.

"Boring!" Mulder said way too loud.

"Well, Mulder, I bet your best sexual escapade features sitting on your hand then giving yourself a "stranger"." Renè suddenly burst out laughing at his own joke, his fist pounding the table. A truly obnoxious sight to behold.

John smirked and Mulder looked confused and a tiny bit anxious. While the bald man tried to calm himself, John looked over and saw Mulder.

"Whatisit, Fox?"

John, with the added beer intake, forgot Mulder didn’t like his first name. So did Mulder for the time being.

"Scully had an almost one-night stand with a stranger. She had a fling with another too."

John’s eyes went wide and Renè stopped laughing as his jaw dropped.

In the bar, the drone of voices of other patrons surrounding the three men filled the awkward silence. Until Mulder went into riotous peals of laughter.

Then it seemed that his words were forgotten as John and Renè took Mulder’s line as a joke.

Renè leaned over to John beside him and whispered, "Had me worried for a sec there."

"Ok, I can’t wait." Mulder said as if he hadn’t revealed a deep secret from Scully’s past. "Spill it, Robbards. I’ll tell you about the time I made it with the dancer if you tell us about your best wild time."

"Shit man, Mo-Mo put it on me one…"

Renè knew immediately that he was way too drunk to not have been able to stop himself from blurting out that bit of information. Of course it was about 3 seconds too late when John jumped up suddenly, turning his chair over.

Mulder semi-sobered as well. He stood halfway and put a hand on John’s chest as he looked to the other man. "Renè, please tell me you’re talking about some random Mo-Mo." Everyone knew that was Renè’s nickname for Monica Reyes and had been since they first met when she was his subordinate in the Louisiana field office.

Renè stood as well, a defensive posture. "I’m sorry." He quickly explained of his slip.

"What are you sorry for?" John said carefully, his blue eyes on fire.

Renè couldn’t speak.

"You better say something. QUICK!" John’s shout startled half the people around them who could hear him over the not so loud music. The rest of the people in the pub wanted to see what had drawn other’s attention.

***

"How do you like the party?" She looked to both men.

They both answered, enthusiastically positive.

"Great! Now hand her over before you two corrupt her." Monica said straight-faced.

Mulder put Reina down and the little girl reached up to grasp her mother’s hand. She stood very close to Monica’s leg, her free hand gripping the skirt. "Dinner is in exactly twenty-five minutes. Thank you for Reina’s presents." Monica said then she pulled Mulder to her, kissing him on his cheek. She did likewise again to Renè, then she walked away leaving both men stunned and hoping John didn’t see. Reina peeked back over her shoulder to wave goodbye, then resumed her half-hiding.

Just then, Dana came up behind Mulder and lightly touched him on the arm. When he looked down, there was the glossy evidence of tears in her eyes. "What’s wrong?" Mulder asked, turning his full attention to her.

"Nothing, now. John just got a call. My mom and Monica’s mom…"

"Which one?" Mulder interrupted.

"Herminia, Mulder." There was a touch of exasperation in her voice. "Our mothers were riding together and their car broke down. That’s why they’ve been delayed."

"And here you were thinking something bad had happened." This time when he hugged Scully, she didn’t pull away in disgust. "Do we need to go get them?" Mulder was referring to himself and Renè.

"No, they’ll be here in a few minutes. They said they met some friends of yours, actually she said ‘ours’, who stopped to help and that they are riding here with them. Who were you expecting, Mulder?"

"No one. I didn’t even tell anyone else we were coming back to the U.S., much less where we’d be once we got here."

"We’ll know who in a few minutes." Renè said covertly.

Mulder and Scully gave him curious looks.

***

Monica had decided to put off dinner until her adopted mother and Mrs. Scully could make it.

"Are you curious as to who’s coming for the party, Magena?", asked the mahogany skinned woman who certainly didn’t look her age. She looked to be in her mid 20’s, but gathered records revealed she was actually more than 3-4 times that age. Her origins were still unknown.

"Did you set something up, Mom?", Monica answered the question with a question.

"Maybe", came the non-committal answer.

Monica smiled broadly as Reina held her arms out to her grandmother. "Is Queen coming?", the little girl whispered once she was firmly in the older woman’s arms.

"Sorry, chica. That I don’t know. She shows as she pleases." The woman smiled at the child, showing perfectly straight white teeth that were only slightly sharp at the ends. Just barely.

"What about Ada and Sal?" Renè walked up behind them. "They’d attract a bit of attention their way if they showed up. Of course, Sal doesn’t mind most attraction."

"The twins are coming later. They’ll be here in time for gifts. I bet you got Salwa a present, didn’t you?" Monica said with a smirk. It was well known that Renè had a long time thing for the more "outgoing" of the two identical sisters.

The bald man tried to hide the blush, but his lightly olive toned skin showed it easily.

***

Lindey Mwatu Institute

Satellite Laboratory 4

20 miles south of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

July 5, 2000

"Why did I let Ada talk me into this?" Salwa groaned, her smooth voice melodic yet whiny at the same time. She stepped from the shower, her straight hair hung wet and black down the length of her entire naked back. She strode unabashed out to where Specialist Commander Robbards was waiting. "She’s the resident pin-cushion."

Almost always the gentleman, he averted his eyes. Salwa sighed and laughed. "I’m sure this is nothing a man like you has never seen before.", she said as she placed her hands on her hips.

"Salwa…"

"Call me Sal." She commanded as she pulled a short silk robe over her svelte figure. She jerked a simple knot in the belt around her small waist. "I’m ready."

"You’re going like that?" Renè asked of her scantily clothed state.

"I’m covered. Whatever I wear I have to take off anyway."

"Hey, I’m just trying to look after you."

"And what a fine job you’re doing." She fairly glided up to him, not stopping until she was in his personal space. "Although, I do have one complaint with your work."

Renè tried to stay calm and keep even breaths, but was having a bit of a struggle. He kept his back ramrod straight and didn’t back down as she breathed cool air into his face. The smell of the strawberry bath oil she’d just finished soaking in wafted into his nostrils.

Salwa’s eyes seemed to bore into his soul. She flitted her gaze across his face, then suddenly dropped it down between them. Her lids closed and she took a slow, deep breath as she lazily let her head fall back giving him a close view of her graceful neck. When she brought her head back level with his own, her brilliant green eyes flashed bright for a second. In that instant, he saw a familiarity in her but he couldn’t quite place it then. Wouldn’t be able to place it until almost two and a half years later. But there was one glaring trait she shared with a few of women he knew. She smiled showing her sharp, white, even teeth. "There’s nothing like the smell of a man’s arousal." She stepped around him, her arm brushing his.

Renè let out the breath he was holding in a whoosh. There was no way he could hide his attraction to her.

Salwa seemed to float as she walked to the open door of her room. "We could always work our way around actual penetration. On both our parts. If you’re up to it." Her tone was of casual conversation, distinctly opposite from her words. She glanced back over her shoulder at him, then left the room. All he could do was follow, cold sweat having broken out on his forehead and bald scalp.

***

Renè looked down at his feet, totally embarrassed in front of the women.

Monica reached out a hand and playfully caressed his pink cheeks. He gently took her hand away. "It’s ok, Mo-Mo."

"Listen, Renè. Magena didn’t mean to make you self-conscious." The beautiful woman gave a half-chiding look to her daughter. Monica pressed her lips together in a sophomoric smile. "I like that you and Salwa have become close. And she’s more than mature enough to make her own choices. Older than you, of course. Unofficially, you are my child and I love you. I would not be opposed to you becoming truly part of my family." Monica’s mother gave her favored employee a centering hand on his shoulder.

"Thank you, ma’am, very much." The two shared a hug.

He turned to Monica. "Remind me to talk to you about something when you’re free."

"Ok. How about now?"

Just then the doorbell rung. Monica’s birth mother volunteered to answer and excused herself.

Standing outside was Lois Runtz, a.k.a. Yves Adele Harlow, and Jimmy Bond. Lois gasped when she saw the woman.

"You’re here!" Lois said in her lilting British accent as she hugged her mother. "I didn’t know you’d be able to come. Monica told me you might."

The woman of indeterminate age stroked her second youngest child’s brown, wavy locks. When Lois pulled back to remove her coat as her mother had asked, Jimmy stepped quickly into the space vacated by his girlfriend.

"Hi, mom! Merry Christmas!" He enthusiastically hugged the shorter woman.

Jimmy had taken to calling Lois’ mom "mom" since he fully planned on marrying his girlfriend. Lois was not into rushing things, but instead of hurting Jimmy’s feelings, she was passive aggressive. Like now as she rolled her eyes at her boyfriend’s actions. She still loved him, though.

The woman had to take a step back to stay on her feet. She laughed deep in her throat. "Hello, Jimmy. Merry Christmas to you too."

***

"What did you want to talk to me about?" Monica led Renè to the kitchen so she could check on dinner. Reina let go of her mother’s hand as Monica checked the turkey and stuffing, the duck and potatoes, and the rest of the banquet. Renè helped with the heavy lifting. They’d finished in comfortable silence.

"Mommy, I thirsty." Reina piped up from her position on the stool, though quietly.

"I’ll get her something." Renè told Monica, his hand already on the fridge.

"Umm, Re-Re, I’ll handle it. Why don’t we go in the sitting room and you can tell me what you want to say."

Renè beat Monica to Reina’s chair and picked her up. He was unsure why they were leaving the kitchen after Reina’s announcement.

They made their way to the aforementioned room. The music and commotion from the party could barely be heard at this section of the downstairs. Monica sat down. Renè released Reina, who immediately dashed to the couch and hopped up beside her mom. The little girl laid her cheek and her tiny left hand on Monica’s breast. Monica pulled a thin blanket off the back of the sofa to place over Reina’s head as if she were an infant.

"Monica…" Renè had watched quietly, the expression on his face akin to that of a spectator driving past an auto accident.

Instead of acknowledging his unspoken confusion, Monica looked him square in the face. "Sit down, please. What did you want to talk to me about?"

Renè did as she said, settling into an armchair across from the couch. "Uhh, Monica. I really don’t know how to say this. And right now, being in this room has made it that much more difficult."

"How? It’s not like you haven’t seen it all before." Monica smirked. Reina snuggled closer, her left arm reaching up from under the blanket to snake around Monica’s neck. Monica played with a loose jet black curl uncovered and against her upper chest.

"I have. That’s just the point. What happened back in October, when John was returned, it was my fault. The fact that he was ever taken in the first place is my fault. I should have been watching. I should have known something."

For a second Monica didn’t say anything. She just looked down at the top of Reina’s head. She thought back for a second.

***

October 30, 2005

Former Doggett Residence

Canada

Monica brought the rifle up and leveled it at John’s chest. His whole demeanor was different, malicious and crazed. This couldn’t be him. He’d come back different. He held his hands out to his sides in mocking surrender. He leered at her, a face she’d never seen on John Doggett. Ever.

"Keep going!" She yelled at him. He backed slowly down the stairs, turned and fairly swaggered to the front door. "Out! Now!" He opened the door, took one step outside and was promptly grabbed by the small army that Renè brought with him. With a last evil look over his shoulder, John was hauled away.

Monica felt all the energy drain out of her. She had the forethought to hold the rifle out and away so it wouldn’t hit the floor as she fell to her knees. Renè ran to her side to hold her up. He cradled her cheek in his hand. "I’m sorry.", he kept repeating.

Monica hadn’t heard him. She could feel Renè trying to pull the edges of her torn gown back over her breast, his hands brushing the bruises around her neck. She knew she was in shock. She knew he knew it too, but her thoughts now were to get back upstairs. Monica tried to shove away from him, but didn’t have the strength and somehow lacked the coordination of her limbs.

"I have to get back to Reina."

Renè stopped apologizing. He didn’t know Reina had been in the house. "Did he try to hurt her?" Fear made him cold as Monica turned and fell on her forearm. That’s when he saw the blood on the back of her short hair that had run down her neck.

"I have to get to her." She changed subject. "It wasn’t John." Then she changed back. "My baby’s locked upstairs." Monica said in a whispered rush as she started to crawl back to the staircase. She blinked slowly, as if fighting of unconsciousness, continuing to move forward across the floor

Renè finally shook himself. He turned back to the open door and yelled for the medics. As the team rushed in to take care of Monica, Renè looked back up the staircase. He wasn’t sure if he wanted to see what was up there.

***

"That wasn’t John." Monica had stiffened up at the memory. She’d pushed it away as soon as possible.

Renè noticed her visibly relax as she looked down to watch Reina suckle.

"I know that. But still, it is my fault."

"How?"

Renè sighed and brought his hands together over the V his legs made as he sat forward.

"The night before he was taken. I told him about our past. About you and me way back when."

Monica stared at him. She blinked once then snorted a laugh. "I was planning on telling him anyway. It just never seemed important, not with everything else going on in John’s and my lives. Reina being sick on top of it all. Part of him knew already. He’d just never had details before."

Renè shook his head. "Monica, he blew up! He wanted to kick my ass that night. Probably would have if Mulder hadn’t been there. Instead, he stormed out of the bar and that crazy ass cult got him…"

"He was drunk that night. And already under their influence. Jealousy was just the catalyst. The only ones we have to blame are the people who took John. They planned it."

Renè started to speak again, but Monica silenced him with a look. "We are not to blame for our pasts. We didn’t do anything wrong. You understand me?"

The bald man nodded his head. He looked down at the floor between his feet.

"Besides, I told him everything when he got better."

Renè’s light brown eyes shot up and his mouth hung open.

"So, the party moved in here, eh?" Mulder’s voice sounded suddenly as he and Scully walked in.

Monica looked over and smiled. Renè jumped up from his seat.

"At ease, soldier." Mulder teased.

"Is everything ok, Monica?" Scully asked, glancing at Renè, though not accusatory.

"Sure."

Renè made his way towards Mulder still standing by the doors.

Scully made her way to sit on the other side of Monica, behind Reina under the blanket. "Monica, I know I’ve heard of mother’s nursing their toddlers to more graduated ages. But do you think you should be doing that now, what with the twins coming?"

"Is there any medical reason why I shouldn’t?" Monica said simply.

"Well, no. You’ll just have to eat more, maybe up your vitamin intake cause technically you’ll be feeding three."

Monica interrupted. "Two and ¼. Reina isn’t exclusive to the mom’s milk, she only wants it once in a while."

"Ok. But still, you’ll have a hard time trying to break her habit."

"Dana, I’ll worry about that when the time comes." Monica stroked Reina’s head. "She’s just had such a bad time of it. She was sick for so long and then…" Monica looked down. "She just needs more time to grow up. I almost lost her more than once."

Dana waved her hand and nodded. "I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to upset you." Dana smiled. "I think it’s a great idea." She reached over and twirled one of Reina’s growing curls around her finger. "I think she’s asleep."

Monica looked down. Reina’s mouth was slack around her nipple and her head had turned as did her upper torso.

Mulder overheard Scully. "More guests have arrived. You want me to take her to bed?" He came over, respectfully averted his eyes as Monica fixed her top with one hand, then lifted the petite child up.

"Thank you, Fox."

"No problem."

Scully watched the way Mulder tenderly held Reina in his arms. The way he looked down at her as he carried her away. Scully sighed and tears came to her eyes.

"Aww, Dana." Monica hugged her friend. "Seems like we both have things to get over." They both laughed as they wiped tears from each other’s cheeks.

Renè waited a while, then walked back over to the couch. He held both his arms out with a regal flourish and a silly grin. They each took an elbow and he escorted them back to the main rooms.

***

Mulder hadn’t come down right away. He’d opted to sit and watch Reina sleep for a while. He’d promised to be down soon, just wanted to make sure Reina didn’t wake up for some time. That she was good and asleep.

She was, with the gigantic cat curled around her tiny body. Mulder headed quietly out of the room.

Downstairs he saw a couple of new faces. Monica was introducing an outdoorsman/cowboy type man and a cute strawberry-blonde little boy to the room. The man held the little boy in his strong arms.

"And this is Fox, Dana’s husband." Monica introduced Mulder. Monica winked at him for her premature description as she took his arm. "They’ve been married for 12 years."

Mulder gave her a sidelong look. Monica quickly whispered, "He’s very old fashioned." Mulder mouth an "oh" and nodded in understanding.

"Fox, this is Drew." The man held out his free hand for Mulder to shake. "And this is his son, Jessup." Monica pinched his little pink cheek. "Isn’t he cute!" The little boy blushed but didn’t take his green/gray eyes off of Monica. "Are you going to stay for dinner?"

Drew shook his head. "Sorry, Frances and I have family over. Thanks for the invitation though. We just wanted to drop off a present. Well, Jessie wanted to drop off a present for Reina." The little boy reached into a big bib pocket on the front of his overalls and pulled out a nicely wrapped box. It was silver with a violet bow on top. "Frances wrapped it."

"Jessup, it’s a pretty wrapping. Thank your mommy for us. Reina’s asleep right now."

"Frances just loves your little girl’s violet eyes. She had me bring home a dozen different purple ribbon till she found the right one."

Monica smiled as she carefully opened the little box. Inside was a small hand carved fairy with very thin see-through wings. "Drew, you made this. It’s so beautiful." She hugged the man and the little boy in his arms. The man took it all in stride, but the boy was flustered.

"Well, we have to be getting back down the road." Drew walked to the door and John opened it for him.

"Glad you could stop by." He handed a medium sized box wrapped in silver paper with a silver bow on it to Drew.

"Thank you, thank you!" The man seemed shocked. "You didn’t have to."

"Don’t even mention it." John said humbly.

" Well, have a blessed holiday and New Year too. If I don’t see you in a few days. There’s always something to do around here."

"Don’t I know it." John patted the little boy on the back after helping him on with his big parka while Drew slipped his own coat back on that John had handed him. "And a Merry Christmas to you too."

As John watched the two leave, he saw headlights coming down the newly paved driveway. He could tell it was a van, a newer model. Maybe 2004 or 2005, but any outward identification had been removed. The body style looked sort of like a Dodge, but John was more of a muscle car enthusiast and couldn’t be sure.

The first person out of the van put him at ease, and so did the second. It was Herminia Reyes and Margaret Scully. He turned back and announced their arrival.

Dana rushed to the door. She hadn’t seen her mother in two years. They’d only been able to correspond through secure email. The cold air hit her, turning her cheeks dark pink again. She shivered but she tried to tell herself it was from anticipation.

The two older women came up to the steps. As soon as they were on the porch, they were engulfed by their pregnant daughters.

"You two should get back inside, you’ll freeze." Herminia said in spanish.

"We’ve just got to thank our escorts for the ride here." Maggie rubbed her excited daughter’s back. Maggie turned to the three shadows down at the bottom of the exterior steps. Dana looked too.

"Oh my God!" she whispered first. John paid more attention then. He’d been watching the reunion and wondering when he could usher everyone back inside. Monica hadn’t seen Herminia in a while as well.

When Scully yelled her previous words, Mulder and Jimmy appeared on the porch in a hurry. Renè, and two other "special" partygoers were there too.

The tallest of the shadowed men stepped up on the bottom step into the light from the open door.

"Byers?" Mulder said, his face a total mask of shock and utter awe.

***

March 19, 2002

The gunmen knew it was all over. All they could do now was stand and watch the rest of the glowing pink liquid ooze out of the dying John Gilnitz. The sound of Jimmy crying had faded just minutes ago when Yves led him away to get in touch with the CDC’s hazmat team.

The trio was speechless, the ringing of the fire alarm seemed to shake the entire building. The sound was dull and rumbling inside their tomb. They stood now looking at each other, silently saying goodbye.

After 3 minutes, Frohicke couldn’t take it anymore. "Guys, I just want to say how much our years together meant to me. How I could never have found better comrades, better co-workers…" He paused for a breath, then added, "Better friends."

Byers looked first to Langly, then Frohicke. He felt the tears come to his eyes. He thought of how he’d pictured his life ending. "Surrounded by 4 generations, dying peacefully of old age in my bed, Susanne holding my hand."

The other two looked at him. He stopped since he knew that in any other situation, they’d be laughing their asses off at him. Not out of malice, but because Byers had vowed never to think about or mention Susanne Modeski ever again. It had been for his own mental health. But now, seeing as how their physical health was no longer a positive factor in life, mental health didn’t seem so important.

Byers decided that he would spend the last moments of his life feeling sorry for them all, mourning for a world that could be but never was.

Frohicke decided to spend his last moment focusing on the damage, quite frankly barely a dent, they put in the conspiracy.

Langly was surprisingly quiet. There was a joke here, somewhere, but he wasn’t sure of the punchline yet. Nor the opening line.

Just then, they were surrounded by people in bio-suits. All three men were startled since they couldn’t figure out how the people had entered the secured area. At the first push, the three men fired off rounds of questions while being herded down the hall. They received no answer.

Langly looked back in time to see Gilnitz’s body being rolled into some kind of silver tarp, then lifted into a large plexi-glass container.

When a cover was jerked over Byers head, his first instinct was to jump and yell. That’s how Frohicke and Langly saw it coming, but were still powerless to react any differently. They all started to protest, loudly, when they were held firmly and a needle pierced their arms.

Frohicke started to repeat "Frohicke, Melvin Z. Corporal 5034758"

They weren’t sure how long they were led or where. All they knew was that they were guided into a vehicle. Travel time was approximately an hour, maybe. It wasn’t until they had boarded and were strapped into the very comfortable seats of a plane that the covers were removed from their heads.

Langly absentmindedly rubbed the spot on his arm where he’d been administered the shot. Byers immediately started looking around him. There were mostly men around them and only two women. One of the women looked remarkably similar to Lois, but slightly taller. Same build, face shape, characteristic hair, though. The other woman was shorter with black hair, mahogany skin and an air of ancientness to her. It was very confusing to the three men, so they just stared. She sat back in her stylish suit, her legs crossed, watching them as they watched her. She was the perfect picture of calm.

"Gentlemen, sorry to have retrieved you in such a manner, but your presence was needed. Preferably while your bodies held life. " She started, an implacable accent hiding just behind the words.

"Who are you?" Byers asked.

"Yeah, what is this? The Gestapo?" Langly blurted out.

"Shut up, Langly." Frohicke said in a forced whisper.

The woman who’d spoken smiled. The younger woman, the one that looked familiarly like their friend, stayed standing. As were the men around them on the luxuriously outfitted jet.

"We are not the Gestapo, though I have had first hand experience with their tactics. We don’t employ those certain actions on people we wish to work with."

"You want to work with us? What do you want us to do for you?" Byers asked simply.

Frohicke was bold. "No, wait a minute. You didn’t answer his question." The shorter man pointed to Byers.

"If I told you…"

"You’d have to kill us?" Langly interrupted, somewhat nasal.

Light, gentle laughter erupted from the seated woman. The tall woman beside her smiled shyly and looked down at her feet, her arms behind her back. "We want what you want. What you’ve fought so long for. Your mission is our mission for as long as it takes to accomplish it. You’ve made a great impression on me. Us."

"Great impression on the right people, I hope." Byers said. He hadn’t actually meant for it to come out of his mouth, but it did and his expression was one of defiance.

"I would be so bold as to say yes, we are the right people. We’d love to be ‘righter’…" She made air quotation marks with her fingers. "With you. To finish what I started to say earlier, if I told you it would have to be over a meal. It’s a long story to tell." She flashed a smile, her slightly sharp teeth gleaming in the sunlight coming through the windows of the aircraft. The gunmen all gasped, their eyes wide.

The woman turned to the younger woman standing next to her. "Anon, baby. Could you please show these gentlemen to the facilities where they can freshen up."

"Yes, mom." Anon stepped forward. She took note that all three of the men took a look at her, a look back to her mother and then back to her. "She’s much older than she looks." Anon said by way of explanation. She then gestured with a graceful arm. "If you’d follow me, please." She walked ahead of them. The suited, quiet men stood to the side respectfully.

Watching the similar, yet sexually toned down, stride of Anon in comparison to Lois made all three of the men come to the same conclusion almost immediately. The two women had to be sisters. The older woman had to be Lois’ mother also, and they’d had no reason not to trust Lois in most of the past that they’d known her. And they weren’t bleeding through their bodily orifices as of yet, so maybe they were in good hands.

***

Mulder walked down the steps, shaking his head in reticent awe.

"They said they knew you, Fox. Who are they?" Maggie asked from the porch, her arm around Dana’s back. They’d only given their first names as introduction when the three men picked them up after the rental car had engine trouble. Maggie had never had the pleasure of meeting the Gunmen.

"Ghosts." Mulder whispered as he wrapped his arms around Byers’ neck.

The tall man smiled in his normal, semi-repressed way. Frohicke and Langly stepped up too. Damn bravado! The four men hugged like there was no tomorrow.

Mulder hadn’t been there to say goodbye. It was something he’d thought he would have to live with for the rest of his life. The flow of happiness at having a second chance to say hello was his undoing. The three men practically held him up as Mulder was overcome.

Monica put her arm around a tearful Dana.

***

"Wonderful surprise, Mom." Monica said later as everyone was seated around three very long tables in the large sunroom/dining room/soon-to-be aviary (when Monica got around to getting trees and birds put in it). Her hand slipped inside her mother’s as the man of the house prepared to speak. The night sky surrounded them through the four walls of glass, the snow glowing both on the ground and as it fell to earth.

All one hundred diners looked at John as he stood up. Reina yawned in her high chair as her violet eyes set on her father. Her short nap had turned into an hour and a half power snooze after the appearance of the Gunmen derailed the plan to wake her up for dinner, not to mention delayed dinner itself. Cerril escorted the petite beauty down the stairs, ate three pounds of turkey giblets given to him by Monica and Reina, then went out the back door to stalk the woods with the light flurry of flakes floating around him.

John looked around the group. His family, his friends were all here. Even Walter Skinner had arrived during the joyous greeting of the formerly dead, his shock very evident at the sight of men he’d personally secured places of rest. He sat next to Cadence, Monica’s blonde, blue-eyed sister. Usually hard-nosed and blunt, Cadence was in the holiday spirit. Either that or Skinner suppressed her mildly militant attitude.

"I guess I’d like to start by saying thank you for being here, sharing the holiday with us. There maybe, in some of your cases, other places that you could be. We…" John indicated his wife and child, "Are honored by your presence." He looked in Monica’s eyes. "I’m right where I want to be." She smiled. "Now, if anyone would like to say anything before we dig in to the fine vittles that my lovely wife spent all day preparing…"

"My mom, my sister Anon, John, and Reina actually cooked everything." Monica corrected to the assembled.

"They’d have been lost without you." John whispered to get another smile from Monica. Then to the gathered, "We’d love to hear from any who wish to share what they are thankful for."

Those that did speak up made their speeches very short. The excitement high during the welcoming of the three surprise guests had worn off, and everyone was eager to eat dinner.

Mulder’s words probably summed up the overall feeling.

"I’m not going to make this long." He looked around the entire room. "We all know what the future holds. There’s no mystery the way it may be. But there’s hope in this room. There is bright future growing right at this very moment." He glanced at Monica and Dana. "We all know why we have to fight." He raised his glass. "Here’s to everyone’s strength, courage and fortitude."

There was a round of "here here"s and many raised glasses.

"I think that’s everyone who’s not afraid of public speaking, "John said as he tickled Reina’s pink cheek. "Dinner is served. And since we don’t have any servants around here, it’s buffet time!" He clapped his hands together with a goofy grin that made Reina cover her mouth and giggle.

Most people took it of their own accord to help themselves to the big salad bowls already at the table so there wouldn’t be a rush at the warming tables.

Mulder and Scully headed up. "Mulder, that was a nice speech. Very sweet."

"Thank you." He put his hand on her shoulder. When she didn’t shrug it off, he slid it to the side of her neck. She long since shed the turtleneck sweater, so his hand met her skin.

"You know what I was thinking about the whole time you spoke?"

He stopped and so did she. She turned to him, looking up into his eyes. "What?"

He leaned closer, something in her tone leading him to do so.

"I’ve come to a decision."

"And that is?" He drew it out a bit, liking the feel of her breath on his face.

"I want dark meat."

She turned away, totally oblivious to Mulder’s reaction behind her back. His bland face turned into a smile. "To the future." He said to himself.

The End




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