The one in five billion happens. MSR/baby-fic. NC-17.
Completed January 16, 2000.

Disclaimer: These characters are not mine. They belong to CC, 1013 and Fox.
Inspired by my love of fonts. Intimacy Deux is a font available at www.fontaday.com.


| Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four | Part Five | Part Six |
| Part Seven | Part Eight | Part Nine | Part Ten |

"Intimacy Deux"
by MoJo

Part One

Greenridge State Forest
Allegany, Maryland
3:45 p.m.


"C'mon, Scully," Mulder coaxed, looking up at me."What are you waiting for?"

I stared at the sharp incline, wondering how I was going to scramble down it. I shouldn't have come out here.

I was already tired from the seven-mile hike to the center of the forest. My balance was way off. Subconsciously, I laid a hand over my stomach.

"Scully, they are waiting for us," Mulder said, agitated. He looked ahead at the clearing, then back at me. Anxious to get his hands on Warren."I don't know why you wore those damn shoes anyway."

"Shut up, Mulder," I snapped, bracing myself. The manhunt began this morning and I didn't have time to worry about my shoes. I took a deep breath, then headed down the slope after him. Gravity forced me down faster, and I fought against the uneven ground. Slipping only once, but recovering. I crashed into Mulder, his arms catching me protectively. I struggled against him, not wanting to linger in his embrace.

"Let's go," I said, pushing past him and ahead. Mulder ran ahead towards the small clearing where they were standing.

"Agents," Det. Richard Raymond said, moving out of the way. He had caught Warren just moments before. He and another officer had their weapons drawn on Warren, who was lying on the ground face down. Handcuffed and restrained. I narrowed my eyes at him. He disgusted me.

"You son of bitch," Mulder said, grabbing him sharply. He pulled him up, twisting his body backward."Thought you could get away with it, didn't you?"

With opening fire at day care center. Because the voices in his head told him to. Five children died this morning. Violence perpetrated against innocent children just to prove his ideology to Mulder. And we were too late to stop it.

I had to step away, suddenly overcome with emotions that I wasn't going to let show. Raymond stood back as well, allowing Mulder to pound Warren's head against the ground. Completely against policy, but I wasn't going to argue this time.

Overhead, I could hear the helicopter approaching. Coming to take this sick bastard away. It swirled the grass and trees around as it lowering into the clearing. I stayed out of the way as Raymond, Mulder and the other officer loaded Warren in. Making sure he was properly restrained. There wasn't enough room for all of us to head back in it. But another one was on the way. "Scully?" Mulder yelled, over the sound of the blades starting up. "Are you coming? Raymond can wait here!"

"No," I shouted back, clutching his arm as the wind whipped my hair around."You need to get Warren out of here!"

He needed to go. And there would be media everywhere upon their return. Something I didn't feel up to handling right now. My walkie-talkie chirped as the other pilot notified me of his proximity. At least I wouldn't have to hike back to the road. I stepped back, so the helicopter could take off. Mulder peered through the window as I watched it disappear into the sky. I tugged at the kevlar vest, wanting to be freed from its constraint. I tossed it on the ground, along with my jacket. All my clothes were so restricting anymore. I leaned against a tree. Completely exhausted. I had to tell him. I couldn't hold it inside anymore. Not after this.

***

The helicopter took us above Greenridge State Forest. Scully's image had disappeared into landscape as we ascended. I hoped the other helicopter was coming soon. She looked worn out. It didn't surprise me she wanted to stay behind. Less time she would have to spend with me.

"Mulder," Warren said, leaning forward.

"Shut up, you son of bitch," I replied. I didn't want to hear a thing he had to say.

"You got my letters, didn't you?" he asked, ignoring me. He'd been taunting me for weeks with his prophecies of destruction and hate. A modern day Nostradamus who's letters had been delivered faithfully every other day, outlining his madness to the one person he thought would understand. Me. Fox Mulder, Patron Saint of the Fucking Insane. I must be their poster boy.

"Only on even days," he continued."I mailed them only on even days."

Raymond shoved him back into his seat."That's enough."

"Do you have children, Mulder?" he asked, yelling loud enough to be heard.

"No," I shouted back, just wanting him quiet.

"That's why you were too late," Warren said. Taunting me further.

I turned around, ready to shove his ass out of the helicopter. "What the hell does that mean?"

"If you were a father, then you would have understood," he said, speaking in riddles like his letters."The smallest of souls will be delivered, spared the wrath of the judgement day."

He was quoting his last letter, the one that outlined this morning's rampage. I had tried to decipher its cryptic message, only realizing too late that he was going to target the day care center where his ex-wife worked. Where his children were. Two of the five that died were his own flesh and blood.

"Shut up, Warren!" shouted Raymond, restraining him. As a profiler, it was my job to get inside the head of men like him. Try to understand what drives them. Yes, it was an error in judgement on my part. Because I underestimated the length he would go today to prove his point. Sacrificing his own children. I couldn't think of a greater betrayal of trust.

Amazing how people like him are allowed to be parents. While others, more deserving of such an honor, are not. This must have been hard on Scully. Although, she wasn't letting it show. She was good at hiding her emotions from me.

***

Scully's Apartment
6:15 p.m.

The top story in the news was the capture of Dennis Warren. I listened as I hunched over the toilet, throwing up what was left in my stomach. My heart went out to the parents who sent their children to day care this morning not knowing they would never see them alive again.

I did understand what losing a child was like. I had lost my Emily. I had thought she was my only chance to have a child of my own. And maybe in some strange way, I had a father already picked out. Although, at that point Mulder was nothing more than just my FBI partner. Perhaps, I knew he'd be the one all along. Just not for Emily.

I've known for four weeks that I am pregnant. Weeks of nausea and fatigue prompted me to seek out my doctor, fearing that the cancer had returned. Or that I was experiencing after-effects of the fungus infection. It never occurred to me that the answer was so simple.

A one in five billion chance indeed.

And I was scared. I feared my body, which had been violated in so many ways, would be unable to carry this baby to term. The first trimester was the most critical and the percentages shifted drastically in my favor when the 12th week came. I had taken care of myself, took some time off, changed my diet and quit drinking caffeine. The coffee withdrawal should have clued Mulder right in. Two weeks of me at my bitchiest.

I wasn't going to be able to work like this for much longer. Not by his side in the field. My mind ran over the repercussions. What would Skinner do when he found out? How would this be handled? Would I be taken off the X-files completely? Would we be separated? Or even dismissed?

I wiped my mouth and stood up, relieved the nausea had passed for now. I took a deep breath, looking at my face in the mirror.

You have to tell him.

I walked over to my bed, sitting down on the edge. He'd been calling all afternoon. My machine had run out of tape an hour ago. I decided to leave a message on the service for him so I wouldn't have to talk to him directly. I steadied myself as I waited for the tone.

"Mulder, it's me. I need to see you tonight, around 9:30 p.m.? I will meet you at the office. There is something important I need to discuss with you."

***

J. Edgar Hoover Building
6:45 p.m.

I called Scully for the 24th time on her cell phone. Still, no answer.

Raymond said she got back to police department approximately thirty-five minutes after we did. But I was shuffled off, assisting in Warren's interrogation and subsequent confession. Luckily, his letter writing was left out of the media for now. He was being held without bond, in custody until a judge would decide his fate. Already they were talking the insanity plea.

The clerk delivered the evening edition to me. I threw it in the middle of my desk. A reminder of how badly I screwed up today. I had no one else to blame but myself. For being drawn into Warren's doomsday game. His letters still lay in a stack by my desk in chronological order, each neatly addressed to"Mr. Fox Mulder."

I dialed into the service, knowing there were already several calls from Skinner waiting. I ran through them quickly, hoping to find a message from Scully. My heart raced. The last one had her phone number as the origination point.

"Mulder, it's me. I need to see you tonight, around 9:30 p.m.? I will meet you at the office. There is something important I need to discuss with you."

It was about damn time she called. I'd been worried all day. Despite whatever she thinks, I still love her.

I remembered well our three months together. When the walls finally came down. Years of longing finally released. I had no regrets for what we'd done. And I thought Scully didn't either. But then, it was over before it started. No explanations. Nothing. All intimacy was gone, except for our work relationship. The only indicator I had she still wanted me in her life at all.

Doesn't she know there is nothing more important to me that her?

I had wanted to prove to her that it could work. That we could work. Despite all the odds. As always, work interfered and complicated matters. Maybe that was what drove her away. The knowledge we could never have the "normal" relationship within the context of our existing one.

No. Scully knew the risks going in as well as I did. It had to be something else. Something else that mattered to her more that I did. I glanced at my watch. 9:30 p.m. seemed light years away.

***

J. Edgar Hoover Building
9:45 p.m.

My steps grew slower as I approached the door. I knew he was in there, waiting for me. I was already late. I took a deep breath, hand poised above the door. Ready to knock. Nausea washed over me and suddenly I had to pee. I steadied myself. Excuses. Excuses.

I can't turn back now.

"Mulder?" I called, knocking loudly.

"Come in," he answered.

Mulder was sitting in the dark, illuminated only by the light from the computer monitor. I flipped the lights on and he squinted against them. He pressed his fingertips to his eyes, rubbing them soundly and then looking at me. He was annoyed.

"Where have you been?" he asked, holding his hands up."Raymond said you disappeared after you got back. I looked for you. I called you fifty times. If you hadn't paged me, I was about to launch another manhunt."

My eyes fell on the evening paper sitting on his desk. The headline blared"Day Care Shooter Apprehended."

"It's not your fault," I whispered, recognizing the inner turmoil behind his quiet exterior.

"Of course it's my fault," Mulder countered, throwing the newspaper across the desk. He pointed to the stack."If I had studied these closer, taken him more seriously, pursued him sooner...five children would be alive today."

"You cannot be responsible for his actions," I said, walking slowly towards him. I leaned against the desk for support."You are only responsible for your own."

"Do you want to be the psychologist, Scully?" he asked, easing back in his chair."Cause I seem to be slipping here."

"Actually, I'm not here to talk about the case, Mulder," I replied. I cleared my throat. Trying to sound like I had it together."I'm here to talk about us."

"Us?" he asked, frowning. It had been four weeks since the last time we were intimate. I could see disappointment in his eyes at the mere mention of it. I had my excuses...on assignment, not in the mood, not feeling well. I was sure he'd seen it as a rejection of our new relationship. After all, everything just stopped.

"Mulder," I started."Something has happened. Something I've known about for a while. You may not like what I'm about to say."

"I'm listening," he said, as his body tensed in preparation. Fixing me with that penetrating stare.

"I know you've noticed, things haven't been the same between us lately," I said, sinking into the desk."I've been distant, removed, withdrawn."

"I have noticed you don't seem to want me around," he said, matter-of-fact.

"No, that's not it," I replied, clutching the desk for support. It was far from it.

"Then what is it?" he implored."Help me here, Scully."

"I've been keeping something from you," I continued, forcing the air from my lungs."I didn't want to say anything until I was certain...certain I was healthy enough to carry it to term."

"Scully," he breathed, shaking his head."What are you saying?"

"I'm...pregnant."

There. I said it.

The room grew intensely quiet as Mulder stared at me.

In all the years I'd known him, I had finally rendered him speechless.

***

Did she just say what I thought she said? My eidetic mind played it back for me. Again and again. In perfect clarity.

"How?" I mouthed, too shocked to form any other word.

"How do you think?" she replied, smiling at the stupidity of my question. A tear escaped and ran down her cheek.

I pulled my chair back up to a sitting position, scooting closer. I looked up at her."Are you sure? I thought you couldn't..."

"So did I," she nodded, inhaling sharply. Fighting to keep composure.

My hand reached out cautiously to touch her, afraid it was all an illusion. It settled on her stomach, feeling the slight swell she'd been hiding. I smiled as my fingers splayed out, clutching tighter. She really was pregnant. Enough to start showing...my mind began calculating.

"How far along are you?" I asked, narrowing my eyes slightly.

She took a deep breath."Twelve weeks."

"Twelve weeks?" I repeated."How long have you known?"

"Four," she said quietly.

"Four weeks," I repeated again. Hoping I didn't hear that correctly.

"Four weeks," she confirmed.

"Does anyone else know?" I pressed, still completely dumbstruck.

She shook her head."No. No one except the doctors."

I just kept staring at her until the blurry picture I'd been looking at for the last month snapped into focus. The fatigue. The mood swings. The coffee withdrawal. And, the ending of our relationship. If we were still sleeping together, I'd have noticed the subtle changes in her body. Telltale signs she couldn't hide that she was pregnant.

"No one was more surprised than I was," she began, touching my shoulder lightly."I understand what you're feeling."

I shook my head."No, you don't."

"Mulder?" she asked, taking a deeper breath.

"You have absolutely no idea what I'm feeling. You've known for four weeks and you didn't tell me?" I whispered, letting it sink in deeper."What did I do wrong, Scully?"

"Nothing," she said, folding her arms around her body. "Nothing, Mulder."

"Why did you think you have to go through this alone?" I asked, touching her arm. My tone softened."Why, Scully?"

"I was afraid Mulder," she said, closing her eyes. Tears fell with no effort."Because of all they've done to me. The experimentation. The implants. The virus. My doctor said if I could get past the first trimester, the survival rate would be much higher. I didn't want to get your hopes up. Or mine. Since the probability was so low my body would be able to sustain the pregnancy."

"I would have been there for you," I said, struggling to understand why she shut me out of her life at such a critical time. My heart sank as I formulated a reason.

"This changes everything, Mulder. Everything. Our lives are so consumed in work. We live and breathe the X-files," she said, keeping her words steady."And this, this will be beyond that. It has to be. This could be my only chance to have a child. I guess I was being..."

"Selfish?" I finished, standing up."It wasn't enough just to believe. Almighty science has to win out over everything. Even our child. You waited until medical science gave its blessing before it was okay to tell me. Because it's easier to put your faith in that than in me."

"That isn't true," she protested, standing up quickly. She wavered, bracing herself against the desk for support.

"Scully," I said, reaching over to hold my arm. Instantly, concern replaced my hurt pride."Are you okay?"

"I'm fine, Mulder," she said, looking up at me. I clenched my jaw close. The words cut right into me. Her standard denial, anytime I threatened to get too close. An automated response, reflex nerve, instant message for me to leave her the hell alone.

I let her go and reached for my coat. Before I knew it, I was heading for the door. Unable to take another rejection from her at the moment.

"Mulder wait," she pleaded, as I slammed the door behind me.

***

Margaret Scully's Home
10:50 p.m.

I didn't blame him for the way he reacted. Maybe I deserved it. But I was just protecting my child. The one I wasn't supposed to have. Our enemies had rendered this impossible for me. And what if they found out? How would this change their game plan? They were the ones who rendered this impossible for me by harvesting my ova. No way in hell was this child going to be a part of that project. It was bad enough Emily was.

"Dana," my mom said, opening the door for me. I practically fell into her arms.

"Mom," I whispered, clutching her tighter.

"I saw the news report," she said, referencing Warren. "You both were involved, weren't you?"

I nodded."Yes. That was Mulder's case."

"C'mon, honey," she said, leading me into the family room. She was dressed for bed. My late phone call had awoken her."Sit down. You can stay here tonight if you want."

I took a deep breath, searching her face. She thought I was upset about Warren. I shook my head, feeling tears welling up again. These damn mood swings were impossible to control.

"It's not Warren," I began, as she scooted closer. Clutching my hands."Mom, I have something to tell you."

Her face grew pale. I recognized the look. Fear."You're not sick again, Dana. Please, don't tell me the cancer..."

"No," I reassured her."No, I'm not."

Relief washed over her. Her hands squeezed mine harder."Then what is it? Is it Fox? Did something happen to him today?"

"No," I answered, wiping a tear angrily away. She didn't know we'd been together. But she knew how much Mulder meant to me. How much he always meant to me.

"Then what?" she pressed, making me feel like I was twelve again.

"I'm pregnant," I said, with a slight smile. She looked at me the same way Mulder did. Surprised shock and disbelief.

"Are you sure?" she asked, as tears formed in her eyes. Mirroring my own.

"Positive," I said, opening my jacket a bit. I took her hand and placed it over my abdomen."I'm just past the first trimester."

She enveloped me in her arms, holding me tightly."This is a miracle, Dana. An absolute miracle."

"I know," I replied."The father...it's Fox, isn't it?" she asked hopefully, pulling back to watch my reaction.

"Yes," I answered. Praying she wouldn't ask for details of our three month affair.

"Does he know?" she inquired, sitting back down.

"I told him tonight," I replied, trying to steady my breathing."And he was upset because I waited so long to tell him."

"I'm upset you waited," she said, her voice taking on an authoritative tone."This isn't just your child, Dana. It's his, too. And my grandchild."

"I know," I whispered, not wanting to hear a litany of my transgressions."Mom, I just wanted to make sure I could carry this child. After everything."

"Where is he now?" she inquired, rubbing my hands with hers. Waiting for the answer I could not give her.

***

Washington Monument
11:55 p.m.


I threw a stone into the still water of the Reflection Pool, making it skim the surface and cause waves before plunging below.

I'm going to be a father.

I could hardly believe it.

It took a while to sink in, what was really going on all this time. And it all made sense to me now. She had taken some time off work, changed her diet and schedule. Even her reluctance to jump down off that damn cliff today. She shouldn't have been there in the first place. Chasing Warren down. Not a good situation for her or our child to be in. Anything could have happened.

Why didn't she just tell me?

But I already knew the answer to that question. Scully couldn't accept her condition on blind faith alone. She had to turn to her science to dictate the parameters of the unexplained. A child conceived not in a test tube or by artificial means. Created through good, old fashioned sex and random fate. Despite all the odds against it happening.

And I was glad it did happen.

This was what she wanted. More than anything. I could see it in her eyes when we found Emily last year. It was a restoration of what had been taken away from her. Something that happened as a result of the experiment my own father was a part of. And I was the one who drew her into this world of lies, deceit and deception. Hell, I even kept her ova from her.

Which made it ironic indeed I was the father. Because Scully deserved better than me.

I shouldn't have run out like that, leaving her standing in my office. She must really hate me. She should hate me now.

But my feelings for her hadn't changed one bit. I still loved her. More than ever now. We could make this work. It had worked for three months. Three of the best damn months in my life.

I had to find her. She wasn't doing this alone. Not anymore.

***

Margaret Scully's Home
12:00 a.m.

"Dana, are you okay?" my mom asked, checking in on me. I was in my old room, which now served as the guestroom. Same old bed with the loose headboard.

"Yes," I nodded, settling down into the covers. Trying to get comfortable.

"Did you call Fox?" she asked carefully, leaning against the doorframe.

"No," I answered."I haven't figured out what I'm going to say to him yet."

"Well, you've got all night to think about it," she replied, turning off the light."But you need to talk to him, Dana. You both have a lot to work out. In addition to the baby."

"I don't even know if this is something he wanted," I said, looking up at the ceiling.

"I'm sure this didn't happen based on one time," she surmised.

"No," I replied. Mulder's odds weren't that good. "We were...together for about three months."

"And then you found out you were pregnant," she concluded.

"Four weeks ago," I said, realizing how wrong I'd been in keeping this from her. I needed her acceptance and guidance now more than ever."Then, everything just stopped."

"I have a feeling you're not getting rid of him that easily," she answered. Then, she smiled."He's as stubborn as you are. Heaven help you both if your child inherits that trait."

That's just what I needed. Another little Mulder ready to challenge me at every turn.

"Get some sleep," she said, closing the door behind her.

I turned over on my side. Remembering the three months I had with Mulder. It started one night, working late. One accidental touch lead to one sudden kiss. The kiss lead to another. Before I knew it, we were back in my apartment. We barely made it to the door. After six years of...whatever it was between us...something finally had to give.

I couldn't even fool myself into thinking it was a moment of weakness or a one-night affair. Because it wasn't. Mulder certainly made up for lost time. We made love every chance we got. Stolen moments or planned evenings. It didn't matter which. The end result was the same.

And I missed his touch. The way he kissed me. The intimate knowledge we gained from each other.

I hurt him. I know I did. When I ended it all suddenly with no warning. I didn't even explain my actions. Or offer any kind of closure. The pregnancy so eclipsed my thinking that I simply couldn't deal with anything else. Not even Mulder.

If we could start over, would he even want to?

***

Margaret Scully's Home
1:55 a.m.

Scully wasn't answering her phone. Not her home phone or her cell phone. She wasn't booked on any outgoing flights from Dulles. Process of elimination led me to her mother's house. It was a hell of a lot closer than her brother's in San Diego.

I knocked on the door gently, then harder."Mrs. Scully? It's Fox Mulder!" I called, trying to listen through the door. Nothing. Then, footsteps and the rattling of locks.

Scully's mom appeared in the threshold, her eyes narrowing slightly at me."Is Scully here?" I asked, trying to see past her and into the house. But it was dark.

"Shhhh," she said sharply. She motioned for me to come inside.

"Where is she?" I demanded, as she closed the door behind me."Upstairs," she hissed, through clenched teeth. She grabbed my arm and pulled me through the house and into the kitchen. Presumably out of earshot.

"Is she okay?" I asked, squinting at her in the dim light.

"She's tired," she said, exhaling slowly. Margaret Scully studied me for a while, then a thin smile appeared."But pregnancy will do that to you."

"She told you," I replied, glad I didn't have to pretend with her. I half expected her to hit me or something. But she did not. Instead, she folded her arms about herself, like Scully does. Looking back towards the staircase.

"I had no idea," she started, as eyes beginning to water slightly."I thought this was something Dana would never experience. After the cancer and the experimentations, I was grateful she just survived. I never dreamed this was possible."

"Neither did I," I whispered, echoing the sentiment.

"She also told me you didn't know until tonight either," she continued, leaning back on the kitchen counter."Yeah," I said, looking down at the linoleum."Something about waiting until after the first trimester."

"Well, I would have liked to have known," she admitted, touching my arm. Understanding the feeling of hurt and anger at Scully's silence.

"Is she angry with me?" I asked, looking at the staircase as well."When she told me, I wasn't exactly Mr. Forgiveness."

I took off, that's what I did. Like a sorry son of a bitch. After calling her selfish.

Margaret Scully took a step backwards, walking around the counter. She reached back to a pegboard of keys and grabbed two sets. One she threw back at me.

"These are keys to the house," she said, reaching for her purse on the kitchen table."Where are you going?" I asked, confused at her actions. What is with the Scully women? I would never figure them out."You both need time alone," she answered, hand on the back door."She's upstairs, in her old room. Third door on the left."

"Wait..." I started, moving towards her.

"Go talk to her, Fox," she replied."I'm not going to have my grandchild's parents at odds with each other. I'll be back in the morning."

"Thank you," I whispered, unsure of what else I could say. Nothing seemed appropriate. She slipped out quietly into the night, locking the door from the outside.

I stared at the staircase again. Preparing myself.

***

The third door on the left was slightly ajar and I pushed it in further, wincing slightly at the creaking sound it made. Not wanting to wake her.

"Mom?" Scully called. I heard her body shift on the bed. Turning over on her back.

"No," I said, not wanting to alarm her."Mulder?" she asked, sitting up a bit. My eyes adjusted to the darkness, allowing me to see her better. She was wearing a loose fitting shirt and shorts. I glanced at her stomach, seeing the small curve there. Scully propped herself up on her elbows."What are you doing here?"

"Looking for you," I started, maintaining a safe distance between us."I had to launch that manhunt after all."

"I wasn't the one who left," she said accusingly. She scooted up more, so she was sitting with her back against the pillows. It looked liked she'd been crying."Scully, you should have told me," I began, sitting on the edge of the bed."That is my child, too."

She took a deep breath and shook her head."I didn't know how, Mulder. This is something we never talked about."

"Sure we did," I answered, leaning closer to her. "UberScullies. Remember?"

A tiny laugh escaped her mouth. Helping to dissipate the tension.

"I told you I passed genetic muster," I said, nudging her slightly."I just didn't think it worked so fast."

"I'm surprised it worked at all," she replied, laying a hand over her abdomen."I still can't believe this is really happening. I thought it was all another illusion, Mulder. That someone would call me and tell me it was all some big mistake. My results were switched with someone else's or they got it wrong."

"But it's not," I said, laying my hand over hers. "And we've got some decisions to make."

"I can't continue working with you," she whispered, voice becoming unsteady."Not like today."

"If I'd known, Scully...you wouldn't have been there," I answered, protectively."If you held off saying something because you thought I'd be more concerned about the X-files, then you don't know me at all."

"You're not taking me off the X-files, Mulder," she countered, sitting up straighter."There is more at stake now than there's ever been. And I know you, Mulder. Your quest for the truth consumes you whole."

"Not where you're concerned, Scully," I said, shaking my head."And for the record, I wasn't the one who backed off our relationship. You did."

She looked away, my words hitting the right chord of her conscious. "Whether you like or not," I continued."I'm a part of your life. Now and forever, Scully. Through this child. I'd like to be there for both of you."

She pressed her lips together, her eyes searching mine.

"I'd like to try," I said, wanting her to understand. We could start over. Here and now.

***

Mulder sat in front of me, waiting for me to say something. Anything. But I couldn't force my mouth to speak. Did he understand what he was saying? Committing to?"I'm scheduled for my first ultrasound on Wednesday," I said, finally finding my voice."I'd like it if you could be there."

"I'll be there," he confirmed, reaching forward to touch me again. This time, his hand cupped my cheek, drawing my face closer to his. He paused, waiting for me.

"I don't want everyone in the waiting room staring at me wondering where the father is," I said, biting my lower lip. With my luck, he'd be off chasing a flukeman on Wednesday.

"Are you going to tell Skinner?" he asked, thumb tracing my jawline."I was thinking we could tell him together," I said, looking up at him."It's going to be harder to explain than our expense reports."

Mulder laughed a little, bringing my mouth closer to his."And I don't think we can write this off."

I leaned forward, my lips meeting his in a slow kiss. Reacquainting myself with this side of Mulder. One I'd barely gotten the chance to know before everything changed. My mouth parted slightly, drawing it out more. Feeling the warmth spreading through me. Mulder exhaled, kissing me harder.

"Where's my mother?" I asked, when our lips parted. I looked over at the door, half expecting her to be standing there again. "She left," Mulder said, easing me back onto the bed. His long body barely fitting on the twin mattress."She said she'd be back in the morning."

I shifted to get more comfortable. Mulder pulled off his jacket and his shoes to climb in beside me. I lay on my back, Mulder on his side. Propping himself up on his elbow. Staring down at me. It was a wonder he didn't hate me right now."Are you healthy?" Mulder asked, after a while. "I mean, other than being pregnant. Is everything else okay?"

I nodded."Yes, all my tests have come back clear."

"I just can't help but think," he began, hand rubbing my abdomen slowly. Clutching at the T-shirt, trying to move it out of the way."What happens when they find out? You know they will."

"They probably already know," I whispered quietly. Hell, they knew everything else about us."I'm not making any deals," he continued, fingers venturing under my shirt. I shivered at his touch. God, I missed it."Neither am I," I replied, as his mouth sought mine. Kissing me again. It was tinged with forgiveness and regret."This child is not going to be some bargaining chip like Samantha was. Or another victim of experimentation like Emily.""And us, Scully?" he asked, withdrawing his mouth. Pausing to hear my answer.

"Mulder," I pleaded. I couldn't answer that question right now. Everything happened so fast. He went from being my partner to my lover to the father of my child. I had barely adjusted to the first change before the second one came."No pressure."

"I won't pressure you," he said reassuringly. But I knew how that single-minded determination could drive him."But I am going to insist on one thing."

"What?" I inquired, as his finger drew a circle around my navel.

"We are not naming this child Fox," he whispered, with a wry grin."It could be girl," I speculated, relaxing my body under his ministrations. His fingers delved lower, past the waistband of my shorts. Cautiously exploring and giving me the opportunity to stop him. But I didn't want him to stop.

"And she's not going to named Fox either," he said.

Names. I hadn't dared to think about names yet. There were many things I hadn't let myself think about, afraid of the disappointment in case something happened. But, the critical part was over now. Mulder knew. I breathed a sigh of relief, anxious to put this behind us. I hoped Mulder was too. In theory, we could start over again. Reestablish the intimacy I had denied us both.

"Is this your bed?" he asked, distracting me. His fingers brushed the curls at the apex of my thighs."I mean, is this the bed you used to sleep in?"

"Should be," I replied, moving my legs apart slightly. My body anticipated his next touch, sending a rush of heat below. Hoping he wouldn't stop.

"Think it can support us?" he asked, stroking me softly. I moaned quietly. It had been a while. I forgot how good it felt with him. "I don't know, it's been a while since I've tested it," I replied, enjoying the look of surprise on his face as he realized I wasn't backing away."Must not have been tall men," Mulder said, moving over me. He rubbed me harder, finding just the right spot. Bless his eidetic memory. "I'm going to be hitting my head against the headboard."

"I'll see what I can do," I said, unbuttoning his white dress shirt. I tugged at his silk tie, loosening the knot and pulling it over his head.

"I'd like to celebrate," he whispered, sliding my shorts off. His hands caressed my legs as they traveled back up, smiling at me."This is cause to celebrate, Scully."

He seemed genuinely happy. Despite the way he found out. As if this renewed his hope lost long ago. It was a chance now to reclaim some of the family we'd lost, the relationship we weren't allowed to build. And we had a new interest in the future we worked so hard to protect.

My heart was racing, blood flowing to other parts of my body. Pulsing in time. We shifted so Mulder was on his back, head protectively cradled on the pillow. I tugged his shirt over his head. Kissing his nipples, fingers pressing into them. As if, to return the gesture, he pulled my shirt away. Leaving me naked. His eyes immediately traveled to my stomach. Its roundness silhouetted in the dim light from the window. He smiled, touching it gently with both hands."This isn't going to disturb him too much, is it?" he asked, as eased my thighs over his. Straddling him."No, she might find it comforting. The rocking motions," I answered, unbuckling his belt. He was hard already. Must have been all those weeks of being deprived. His hands reached for my breasts, cupping them into a gentle squeeze. I gasped slightly.

"What is it?" Mulder said, eyes full of concern.

"They're...tender," I said, wincing. My breasts had already swollen a bit. Another one of those adjustments my body was making.

"This better?" he asked apologetically. His thumbs traced my nipples delicately.

"Yes," I answered, unzipping his dress slacks. I raised up on my knees, to pull them out of the way. Mulder kicked them off and onto the floor. His boxers quickly followed.

"C'mere," he said, holding his arms out to me. I leaned forward, allowing him to hold me. He careful turned us over, so we were side to side. Staring at each other across the single pillow."I've read on your side is the easiest for the back. Less strain."

"I'm not having back pains yet," I said, shifting so he was pressing against my opening. Sending a shiver through me.

"Consider it practice for later," he answered, his mouth on mine as he entered me slowly.

***

If I thought Scully was beautiful before, she was more so now. Her breasts were rounder, softer. Her natural curves enhanced already with the little weight she'd put on. She looked healthier. Seeing her like this only convinced me she was going to make it through this pregnancy. She was strong. She was a fighter.

I sighed as I entered her, remembering the feel of being surrounded by Scully. She rested her leg over my waist and I held her thigh in place, shifting upwards so I could thrust into her soft core. The headboard thumped against the wall with the motion. It must be loose from the bed frame. Scully smiled a little at the sound.

"Good thing your parents aren't home," I mused, moving slowly in and out her. Rewarded by the sound of her sighing. She was enjoying our return to intimacy as much as I was. I hoped I would not have to go without it again."That's a dead giveaway there's something going on in here."

"It's not my parents you should be worried about," she said, wrapping her arms around my neck securely."It's my brother Bill who'll kick your ass."

When he finds out about her pregnancy...and I was sure he'd know soon. I grinned slightly as I imagined his face red with anger. But he was safely in San Diego, too far away to cause any real trouble. Scully didn't need to be stressed any more right now."Are you comfortable?" I asked, reaching behind her to grab the post at the end of the headboard for support. Allowing me more leverage as I thrust. It stopped the sound a bit.

"Yes," she replied, pressing her hips down and into mine. Grinding with the same fervor I had. Her body was warm and wet around me, coaxing me farther inside.

"Good," I said, between jagged breaths. She clung to me tighter, kissing me between thrusts. Her lips slid over mine, full and soft. Our tongues met, joining our bodies in another way. Consuming the other in all ways physically possible. Scully was so reserved, even in lovemaking. Refusing to surrender that part of herself she kept closely guarded and under control. Even now, her wordless sounds were low and subtle. But there was pleasure across her lovely features, straining to release the building pressure of our motions. Pausing only to breathe.

"I love you, Scully," I whispered, catching her off guard. She looked up at me with her clear blue eyes. The eyes of a skeptic still. Even now as we consummate our union.

"I'm scared, Mulder," she answered, her voice small and uncertain. Pleasure changed into a worried frown as she closed her eyes. Her head rocking back against the pillow. She moaned again and bit her lip. Her body opening itself to emotions she wouldn't allow her mind to. I could feel her start to quake around me. I held her closer. Wanting to ease her fears for the moment. I wished I could promise her things were going to be all right. That this would all work out somehow. But I couldn't. We both knew the life we lived. The roles we'd been asked to play until their inevitable conclusion. There were no guarantees or promises.

Only hope in the life inside her.

***

My insides shook me hard, awakening every little nerve inside. Thrumming with pleasure as I quaked around him. I pressed my face into the pillow, enjoying the sensations."Scully," Mulder said, looking across at me."Yes," I whispered, pulling him closer.

"I missed seeing that," he answered, with a smile.

"I missed feeling that," I admitted, letting my body wind down. Then I turned my attention to him.

I rolled onto my back, pulling Mulder on top of me. He resisted at first, then eased into position. Shifting us back so he wasn't hitting the headboard. His hands snaked under my hips, supporting me as he continued to thrust.

I ran my hands up his chest and over his shoulders, holding on as we rocked in time. The bed continued its protest, squeaking in time.

"I hope we don't break it," Mulder whispered.

"If we do, you're explaining it to my mom," I answered. "I don't think she'd care. She told me she didn't want her grandchild's parents at odds with each other," he said, voice straining slightly. We would always be at odds. That was the nature of our relationship. I knew as well as he did there would always be that tension between us. I suspected it was also the thing that drew us to each other.

"She knew you were the father," I said, keeping my eyes locked with his. Mulder grinned at that, knowing damn well she sided with him."Then it shouldn't surprise her if we do break the bed," he said, kissing me soundly.

Mulder exhaled into my mouth, moaning as he slammed into me a final time. His face twisted with pleasure as he held his position, shuddering inside me.

"Scully," he breathed, carefully withdrawing. He collapsed beside me, pulling me into his arms. His body was warm and I absorbed that warmth. Feeling the energy between us tapering off as we relaxed against each other. It was quiet as we both drifted into a light sleep. Exhausted from the sex and journey that brought us here tonight. Were we prepared for what tomorrow would bring? Tomorrow, we'd have to start dealing with it. The repercussion of our actions. The new responsibility we had to our child. After tonight, everything would change. Everything. It had to. I closed my eyes, letting the darkness fall over me. Comforted only the sound of his breathing and the small pressure in my lower abdomen.

***

8:58 a.m.

I looked up at the clock in the kitchen. It was already 9:00 a.m. and I wondered when her mom would return. Scully rummaged through the cabinets, looking for decaf coffee. Her hair was tousled everywhere. She was wearing only her mother's bathrobe, which was too big for her. I was going to be late for work. I tried to call in, but due to the Warren's arrest, I had to be there. Scully was going in later, after she had a chance to go home and change.

"Are we telling Skinner today?" I asked, as she stretched to reach the Folger's can on the top shelf.

"Do you want to tell Skinner today?" she countered, closing the cabinet.

"He needs to know," I replied. I didn't want her being put into any unnecessary danger. Things are going to change. They have to. "Before Wednesday, because I am going with you."

She looked at me funny when I said that."By Wednesday."

Scully scooped the grounds into the filter, then rinsed out the carafe before starting the coffee maker. She turned to face me, hands braced on either side of the counter."They're going to wonder why you're wearing the same suit two days in a row," she said, looking me top to bottom and frowning in slight disapproval.

"Let them wonder," I answered, walking towards her. "They're going to have more things to gossip about than just my suit."

"Maybe I could just hide in pathology for the next six months," she said, sighing."The scrubs make you look pregnant anyway and there's always the lab coat. Covers plenty."

Before I could come any closer, Scully reached out to me. She wrapped her arms around my waist and buryied her head against my chest. I rocked her gently, one arm around her shoulders and the other resting on her head."I've always thought your scrubs were sexy," I said, feeling her body shake with laughter. But when she pulled away, her eyes were wet.

"You're sick," she said, wiping away a tear.

"Yeah, well," I said, squeezing her shoulder."You're stuck with me. You both are."

She took a deep breath, controlling her emotions again."Mulder..."

"Yes?" I asked, looking down at her.

"I'm sorry," she whispered."I should have told you."

I wasn't going to argue that point. But now that I did know, I was determined she wasn't going to pull away from me again. I needed her. I wanted her. And I was certainly going to be a part of my child's life."I'd better go," I said, forcing myself to move."Warren."

"Okay," she said, taking a step back."I will see you later."

"Call me when you get in," I said, turning for the door.

"Mulder?"

"Yeah?"

"Later, we'll talk," she said, looking down at the linoleum, then back at me."About us."

"Good," I replied, feeling relieved. It was a start.

***

Part Two

Scully's Apartment
8:45 p.m.

I looked at the clock again. Where was Mulder? I called the airport earlier, his flight had been delayed. But he should have been here by now. I hoped he didn't go back to the office. Thinking he had to pick up the slack while they tried to find him a suitable replacement for me in the interim. I was officially off any and all field assignments, per my doctor's instructions.

I was spotting two weeks ago. And it scared the hell out of me. A trip to my OB/GYN confirmed that the baby was fine, just bleeding caused by sensitivity in the cervix. I was in my 16th week already. Almost halfway there and I couldn't bear the thought of anything happening to this baby.

I worked on paperwork and lab pathology as I awaited Skinner's decision on what I would be doing for the remainder of my pregnancy. I wanted to stay close to Mulder, but now I wasn't sure if that was going to be feasible. I put in a request to go back to Quantico to teach, but all the positions were currently full with a waiting list already.

I sat down on the couch, elevating my feet slightly. Already, my ankles were swollen with edema. I had to give up my collection of three-inch heels in favor of something more comfortable that I could handle. Working in the lab allowed me to wear tennis shoes. And scrubs. I had time to buy only three maternity suits and was already sick of rotating them.

I leaned back on the pillow, trying to keep my eyes open as I waited for Mulder. It was a struggle to stay awake. The baby drained my energy so fast, leaving me feeling tired all the time. No matter how many prenatal vitamins, calcium or high protein food I consumed, I still felt completely exhausted every night.

Of course, sleeping was difficult, too. I couldn't get comfortable at all. Something was always wrong. Too hot. Too cold. I couldn't lie on my back or my stomach. If Mulder stayed over, I draped my body over his and found a spot where I could sleep for a bit. It wasn't comfortable for him, but he rarely slept anyway. Less now since he knew of his impending fatherhood.

We were trying to start over. To pick up where we'd left off when I'd pulled away from him. It wasn't easy, since it was no longer just the two of us involved. Every decision I made had one purpose in mind. What was best for the baby. I wanted to continue working, to keep my career intact in case anything does happen to Mulder. I have to be able to provide for my child.

And I didn't want to give up the X-files completely. If there was any way I could assist in the lab for assignments, I wanted to do it. Even though we wouldn't be technically partners, we would still be able to work together. More importantly, I wanted to keep an eye on Mulder to make sure he didn't get lured into anything. Now would be the perfect time for that.

My eyes drifted over to the clock again. It had barely moved.

Where was Mulder?

***

Dulles International Airport
8:45 p.m.


Jesus. Look at the time. Scully is going to kick my ass.

My flight was delayed back from Detroit. I was there investing a woman who could 'fake' her death. She could slow down her body functions to the point where she has no brain activity, heart activity or breathing. I missed not having Scully there to ferret through the medical information. I brought back what I could, since I knew Scully would want to review it. She might be off field duty, but she was still my partner until she was reassigned.

I wandered out to my car, parked at the long-term lot at Dulles. I wondered if Skinner had made his decision on her next assignment yet. I was willing to work out whatever was best for her and the baby right now. After the emergency trip to the OB, I wasn't taking anything for granted. I wanted her safe. I didn't want her stressed. It was still too early in her pregnancy.

I was tired and all I wanted was to see Scully and make sure nothing happened in my absence. I opened the door and slid into the driver's seat. Turning the key in the ignition. Nothing.

Damn it.

I tried again. Nothing. My battery must have died. I groaned and tried a third time, slamming my hand against the steering wheel. Shit. Not now.

"Need help?" said a voice and I turned to see Alex Krycek standing outside my car.

Son of a bitch. I reached for my gun.

Quickly, he moved behind the car, jumping into the passenger side. I released the safety and pointed it level at his head.

"Get the hell out of here," I ordered, squeezing it slightly.

"Not so fast, Mulder," he said, not appearing the least bit concerned for his safety. Arrogant bastard."I'm just hear to offer congratulations. Know what it is yet?"

How the fuck did he know? Of course he knew. Because *they* knew every goddamn little thing about us.

"Get out of the car, Krycek," I said, trying to stay as calm as I could.

"Easy, Mulder. Is that any way to talk to your old partner?" he continued, shifting to face me."We're just surprised, that's all."

"Get out of the car," I repeated.

"We were wondering how it happened," he continued, blinking at me.

"They're going to wonder what the hell happened to you," I warned, applying more pressure to the trigger. Images of spattering his brain over the seat flashed in my mind.

"You won't shoot me," he taunted, with a smirk."Because if you do, I might not be the only one who disappears. Aren't you interested in providing some insurance for Scully and your child?"

"I'm not making any deals, Krycek," I said, squeezing tighter. It ended four weeks ago when I found out I was going to be father. Besides, the Consortium was gone and the project Scully was a part of was over."I'm not playing the fucking game anymore."

"Keep in touch," he said, shrugging."You might change your mind later. We find this whole thing fascinating, given Scully shouldn't even be pregnant."

Krycek opened the door and got out. Disappearing into the night. I scrambled out of the car, aiming my gun at his head. Only that last comment prevented me from unloading the clip into his back.

I took one shot at him, a warning shot that skimmed by his left ear. He ducked to avoid it, then glared back at me. Smiling. That son of a bitch.

I leaned back against the car. History was *not* going to repeat itself. No disappearances into the night. No child of mine used as bargaining chip. I promised Scully that wasn't going to happen and I was going to make good on that promise.

No matter what it took.


***

Scully's Apartment
10:05 p.m.


"Scully?"

I opened my eyes to see Mulder's face peering down at me.

"Hey," I whispered, rubbing my eyes."I must have fallen asleep."

"I'm sorry," he said, kissing my forehead."My flight got delayed. Then the damn car stalled on the parking lot at Dulles. They had to jump start it for me."

"Oh," I replied, relieved he was here."I tried to stay awake for you."

"You need your sleep," he said, standing up. Sounding overprotective again.

"Well, I also needed to talk with you," I said, sitting up. Allowing Mulder to sit on the couch beside me.

"Has Skinner made any decisions yet?" he asked, making himself comfortable. I studied his face. He looked more worn out than I did. Worry lines were creasing his brow.

"No," I answered.

"Have you?" he asked, looking into my eyes.

I sighed. Knowing what he was asking. Decisions about us.

"I wanted to get married in a church, Mulder," I said, with a sigh. He asked me about ten times already. The last time was just before he left for Detroit.

"I can't do that," he whispered apologetically.

"I won't marry you in a state ceremony," I replied, anticipating his next suggestion.

"At least it would be recognized in the eyes of the state," he argued.

"But for me, it's not marriage unless witnessed by God," I stated, shifting around. It was an old argument. One we'd been through several times in the past few weeks and always ending in a stalemate. Couldn't wait for the topic of baptism.

"Then shall we live together in sin?" he suggested, taking my foot in his hands. Pretending to massage it, but he grabbed my ankle instead and pulled me towards him."After seven years, we'd be common law man and wife by default."

"No," I said firmly. I wanted more than that for our child. He wasn't living with me right now and it wasn't about to start."We'll work something out. We still have time."

"Twenty-six weeks before it arrives," he said, trying to pull me into his lap. I moved, choosing to straddled him instead so my weight was evenly distributed.

"Doesn't seem like much when you put it like that," I said, suddenly feeling overwhelmed. I wasn't ready for this. He wasn't ready for this. Nine months was not enough time to rearrange your whole life.

"Scully," he asked, resting his head back on the couch. "Nothing happened while I was gone, did it?"

"What do you mean?" I asked, narrowing my eyes at him. I recognized the look of distraction on his face, he was preoccupied with something.

"Nothing strange?" he continued, pausing before each word. He seemed too calm, like he wasn't wanting to alarm me.

"Why? Did something happen in Detroit?" I countered, sitting back to study him more closely. Something wasn't right.

"No, this was just the longest I'd been away since, well, you know, and I was concerned," he said, dismissing his earlier inquiries.

"You called me every other hour, Mulder," I said, glaring at him."Skinner's going to kill you when he sees that phone bill."

"Hey, you saved him money by being off the front lines. He only had to shell out for one airfare," he said, with a smile. Diverting the conversation."Can't convince you to help me with my expense report, can I?"

"No," I answered, watching his expression soften. "I never did them before and I'm not about to start now."

He laughed to himself."Didn't think so."

His arms came up my sides, drawing me into his embrace. Re-establishing a closeness between us. Maybe we were at odds most of the time, but we did seem to agree on one thing.


***


I held her close, just wanting to reassure myself she was all right. I wasn't about to tell her what happened in the parking lot. It was better if she didn't know, especially after her scare two weeks ago.

"Mulder, is there something you need to tell me?" she asked, her clear eyes probing mine again.

I shook my head, avoiding her interrogation."You're not spotting anymore, are you?"

"No," she replied, taken aback by the question. Her attention focusing back on the baby. Scully touched her abdomen."I told you, everything is fine."

"Good," I said, reaching back around to play with the hem of her shirt. Well, my Nicks shirt. It was oversized on her and probably more comfortable. She was already wearing maternity clothing. The same three outfits she rotated when she wasn't wearing scrubs.

"Skinner didn't say anything to you, did he?" she asked, trying to figure out what was going on.

"Nothing," I replied, tracing the neckline of the shirt. She moaned at my touch. I know I have to go easy around her breasts. They had increased slightly, their round fullness tempting me all the more. Hopefully, I could distract her enough to make her give up her line of questioning. That, and I missed touching her.

My hand reached down and underneath the shirt instead. She settled down in my lap as I fumbled with the bra. She was over her morning sickness and appeared to be feeling much better.

"Is this front hook or back?" I asked her, watching her smile a little.

"Front," she coaxed, letting out a little sigh.

"Ah, got it," I said, snapping it free. Allowing my hands to cradle her breasts."Still sore?"

"Yeah," she replied, closing her eyes. I caressed them gently, rubbing them with my thumbs."Mulder...we shouldn't be doing this."

Sex was off limits at the moment because of her spotting, until the doctor was sure she was all right. Touching was allowed. I relied on Scully to tell me those things. Since she kept the whole pregnancy quiet for four weeks, I was grateful she was even allowing me to participate at all.

"I don't want sex, Scully," I reassured her.

"You don't?" she asked, raising an eyebrow.

"Well, I do," I admitted, with a slight grin."But right now, I just want to touch you."

And I did, but for selfish reasons as well. I wanted to reassure myself she was living and breathing and healthy, to gather strength from it. I knew what I had to do tomorrow. As much as it would kill me, I had to make sure they were safe.

I reached over her to turn off the light, enveloping us in darkness. Scully pressed her soft body against mine, rubbing herself against me through her clothing. Apparently, the second trimester restored the sex drive and Scully was not immune to it. I suspected the additional hormones coursing through her had something to do with it.

She dipped her head forward to kiss me. Gently at first, then her mouth parted. I sunk deeper into the kiss, letting Scully draw me closer still. Driving thoughts of this evening out of my mind.

I snaked my hand under the Nicks shirt and fingered the waistband of her slacks. Moving it down over her belly. I smiled at the contact with my child. It was growing, slowly but steadily.


***


Already, I felt a little self-conscious about my expanding stomach. But Mulder didn't seem to care. I knew he loved the fact my breasts had enlarged.

Whatever was bothering him earlier seemed to be gone. But I made a mental note to ask him in the morning one final time. I wasn't letting him off the hook that easily.

His hand brushed along my curls as they descended even lower. And warmth spreaded below, sending a chill through me as I anticipated his next movement. Just the mere suggestion of sex made my body react, thanks to the extra estrogen.

"Are you okay sitting like that?" he inquired.

"Can I lie down on the couch?" I answered, easing off him slowly. Mulder nodded, letting me go as I fell back against the pillows. He shifted as well, lying on his side between the couch and me.

"Better?" he whispered.

"Hmmmm," I replied, loosening his tie a bit. There was nothing that said I couldn't touch him.

Now that we were lying down, his hand resumed its position. Gently pulling down my knit slacks and panties. I moaned as his hand rubbed my thighs, first along the outside, then through the sensitive skin of my inner thigh. Instinctively, I parted them so he could venture lower. Mulder stroked my creases carefully, thumb searching for a certain bundle of nerves. Wetness flooded me, aching for more.

"Just tell me if you want me to stop," he whispered. "I don't want to hurt you, Scully."

I looked up at him, something about his last words sounded strange. As if he was speaking out of context. His eyes seemed distant.

"I'm fine," I breathed, wanting him to return to me. To us. I reached in the space between our bodies, touching him through his pants. I smiled, feeling the familiar hardness there.

"Scully," he whispered."Better quit that, or you're going to be paying for my dry cleaning bill."

He pulled my hand away, then resumed his motions. My head rolled against the pillow, rocking back and forth as his fingers worked on me. Rubbing harder and harder, driving me over the edge. Internally, my muscles were taut. Threatening to begin contracting and releasing from his touch.

I gasped when his lips suddenly replaced his hand. Tongue pressing the sensitive flesh. My thighs wrapped around his face, surrounding him. My inner walls clenched, anticipating the impending pleasure even more. I raked my hand through his hair, encouraging him to continue. His finger traced my opening, but did not probe further. The motions felt good, and I shuddered beneath them.

My adrenaline surged and my heart pounded, building and building the frenzy until I felt my body start to tremble. I moaned, crying out the release as I quaked inside. His hand replaced his lips, riding out the spasms. Trying to prolong it for me as I throbbed and shivered.

"Mulder," I exhaled, arching my back at the last tremor. Then, I collapsed against the couch.

"Did you enjoy that?" he asked, pulling the shirt down to cover me. He settled back with me. Elbow propping his face mere inches from mine.

"Yes," I breathed. His fingers traced my flushed cheeks, my lips. As if memorizing each curve and plane.

"I just want what's best for you," he whispered, more to himself than to me.

Mulder looked down at me, his smile gone. Suddenly, he was miles away. Lost in thoughts he wasn't sharing. I fought the urge to sleep and stared back at him. Trying to decipher what exactly he meant by that.


***


J. Edgar Hoover Building
8:00 a.m.

I didn't spend the night with Scully, although I wanted to. I'd left around midnight, despite her sleepy protests to stay. I couldn't sleep, too wound up about what had happened earlier that night.

Plus, I had to make sure I would be in before she was so I would have a chance to talk to Skinner without her knowing. I wasted no time getting down to his office early.

"Agent Mulder?" Skinner asked, as I peered through the door. He motioned for me to sit. The last time I sat down in his office was to tell him about Scully's 'condition.' He didn't even crack a smile. I doubted he was really all that surprised we had finally crossed the forbidden line. Maybe like me, he wondered what took so long. . .

"I want to talk to you about Agent Scully," I began. "I know you are still deciding where you are going to reassign her and you are aware of her feelings with respect to the X-files."

"I am," he said, peering down his glasses."I was trying to work something out with Quantico for her, but it doesn't look like that's going to happen."

"I would like to request that you transfer Agent Scully somewhere farther than Quantico," I said, becoming serious. And this was serious."I have my reasons for not wanting her in DC right now."

"Why isn't she here telling me this herself?" he asked, sounding leery of my request.

"Because she doesn't know. But it would be better for her," I said, hoping he was understanding the implied meaning.

"May I remind you, this is Agent Scully's decision," he stated.

"I do have a interest in where she's being assigned, sir," I countered, leaning forward in the chair."Technically, we are still partners and I am the baby's father."

Skinner frowned his disapproval at the last remark. I'm sure what amazed him about this whole situation was the fact that Scully got involved with me in the first place.

"Well, I do have a position available in St. Louis. Full time forensics in the laboratory. They are due to get new equipment and she would be responsible for some training. It's a limited project for about two to three months. Starting in September and ending in November," he said.

Sounded fair to me. It would get her away from DC and hopefully, out of their sight for the time being. Her affiliation with me was what got her drawn into it all. If she never walked into my office that day six years ago, she'd probably be married already with 2.5 UberScullies and driving a minivan. Living a normal life with a normal man capable of giving her all the things she deserved.

But instead, she had me. I was determined to give her what I could.

"I wasn't going to offer it to her, knowing how she wanted to go back to Quantico," he added."I thought the goal was to keep her close by."

"It is," I admitted, but I also wanted her safe."But you know her pregnancy has been labeled 'high risk' by her doctors and I think she would be less likely to be involved with the X-files if she isn't so close by."

He knew about her medical history, it was all spelled out in one of her files. He should also know how important this baby was to her.

"What about you, Agent Mulder?" Skinner asked, leaning back in his chair."Are you going to less likely to be involved with the X-files after your child is born?"

"I still have certain things I need to resolve," I replied. Actually, just one thing. Samantha. At this point, maybe I could walk away from everything else in the X-files. But not Samantha. She was still a part of my family, I held out hope she could be a part of my new one as well."For the time being, I would like to remain on my current assignment."

Skinner took a deep breath, tapping his pen against the desk as the studied me."I suppose I'm going to be seeing additional flights to St. Louis on your expense report."

A slight grin fell across my face."I suppose you are, sir."


***

J. Edgar Hoover Building
3:30 p.m.


"St. Louis, sir?" I asked, staring at the posting.

"Someone with your background would be a perfect match," Skinner said."All your field research and experience utilizing new forensic science is ideal. The hours are flexible, you could set your own schedule and the training would only last two months. Bringing you within just about a month to your due date. When exactly is it again?"

"December 19th," I said. About twenty people asked me that question every day. I thought about sticking it on my FBI lapel badge so I could just point to it.

"Well, it would only go through November 30th. And you could take your leave after that," he said. He was speaking as if the decision had already been made.

"Sir, would it take me off the X-files?" I asked, not wanting to sound ungrateful for his efforts."Right now, I can still do all the pathology on Mulder's cases."

"Well, you can still assist Agent Mulder in forensic work. It can be shipped as easily to St. Louis as it could to Quantico," he stated."It would give you an opportunity to continue working in an environment I cannot provide for you here."

"St. Louis," I whispered, vaguely remembering passing through that city one or twice in our travels.

"Consider your choices, Agent. I will see if anything else matching your experience and qualifications is posted," Skinner said, closing the file and handing it to me."Think about it, and let me know your decision."

"Thank you, sir," I said, picking up the folder.

Damn it. St. Louis?


***


"St. Louis, Mulder," I said, dropping the file down on his desk. "He wants to ship me off to St. Louis."

"Hey, that's where Mark McGwire is," he answered, with a slight grin. Trying to sound positive."Maybe we can catch a game or two before the season ends."

"I'm not taking it," I replied."What about my mother? What about you?"

"I'm still an active field agent," Mulder answered, voice much calmer than I anticipated."I will be out traveling. You know the schedule. Instead of coming home to DC on the weekends, I'll come out there."

"You don't seem that concerned," I said, studying him carefully. I felt my temper flaring up at his apparent ambivalence."What about my doctors? There are all here in DC. I have specialists, Mulder."

"They have specialists in St. Louis, too," he said, standing up. He reached out, touching my arm gently."Or you know what the alternative is."

Leave of absence. I'd be lying to myself if that thought hadn't crossed my mind more than once. But this was my work, as much as it was Mulder's. I wasn't going to step away from it entirely.

"Scully, what's the difference between that and Quantico?" he asked, trying to reason with me."You were all set to leave and go there."

"About 900 miles," I said, leaning back against the desk. I crossed my arms, resting them carefully on my stomach."But this is only for two to three months, starting in September."

"I can send any corpses I come across, I'll save them just for you," Mulder mused, nudging me slightly."I have about ten weeks of vacation accrued that I've never used."

I sighed, glaring up at him. He was doing his best to convince me to go. I knew it wasn't because he worried about my career. Mulder wanted me gone. Perhaps he'd gotten cold feet after last night. He did leave much earlier than expected. Fatherhood was a huge responsibility and I knew Mulder had no idea what that was going to mean. Or maybe this was his way of continuing work on the X-files without me. So he'd be free to run off in relentless pursuit of the truth without me holding him back. I knew something happened in Detroit. It must have.

"Scully?" he asked, snapping me out of my thoughts. "Are you still with me?"


***


She had this analytical expression across her features, summing up my reaction to her news. I could tell, she was suspicious of me. Skeptical. I'd love to just tell her I wasn't being a self-centered son of a bitch this time. There was a reason why she should go. She was going to leave me anyway, to go back to Quantico to teach.

"I want to think about, Mulder," she said finally. "And I want you to think about what it means as well."

I nodded, unsure of what her mind was rationalizing.

"Who is this better for?" she asked, staring at me accusingly."Me or you?"

"The baby," I replied, firmly."If you insist on staying on at the FBI, Scully you can't be in active investigations. You know that."

"But I didn't want to be 900 miles away from it, either," she replied, then her expression softened a bit."Or from you, for that matter."

Her last words stopped me cold. Given that all attempts to move forward in our relationship had failed, that admission gave me hope. Everything happened so fast for us. I wondered where we would stand if she hadn't gotten pregnant. Would we still be lovers? Would we be something more? Or would she have ended it for good two months ago?

The only thing I knew for certain was we were both going to be parents in twenty-six short weeks. I was going to be a part of that child's life, I wanted to be a part of her life. Become a family together. But we couldn't be a family until this baby arrived. Healthy. With no one tampering with her or her pregnancy.

She was running away from me like she always did. Maybe I should just tell her. . .after all, they could just as easily track her down in St. Louis. I was hoping a separation might throw them off. Wasn't that what Krycek had implied? A disappearance? Well, she was going to disappear for a while, but not from me.

"Are you going to be home later?" I asked, as she started to move towards the door.

"No," she answered quietly.

"No?" I repeated. Jesus, Scully.

"I mean, I'm visiting my mom tonight," she replied. I wondered if that was a lie, or something she just decided two seconds ago.

"I'll call you," I said.

I watched her walk towards the door, evenly distributing her weight over each step. Her oversized scrubs and lab coat hid her stomach, but it couldn't hide the change in her posture. Everyone here knew about it anyway. Gossip that Spooky Mulder and Scully were expecting shot through the building faster than a .22 caliber bullet. I knew it made her uncomfortable. Maybe being somewhere new where no one knew our colorful history together might take some stress off as well.

She turned and glared at me, pursing her lips up slightly. Pausing to say something, but she was silent. Giving me the once over one more time with her crystal blue eyes before closing the door behind her.


***

Georgetown Shopping Mall
7:30 p.m.


"Dana, honey, what do you think of this?" my mother said, holding up a tiny ruffled dress.

A smile tugged at the corner of my mouth. First one all day. "A little early for that, isn't it?"

"Just getting ideas," she replied, happily shoving it back on the rack.

I wasn't in the mood for shopping. My feet were killing me, despite the fact they were in running shoes. I stopped and sat down on a bench in the middle of the mall. Mom continued to walk around Mommy and Me, getting more and more 'ideas.'

My cell phone started chirping for the third time tonight. I nonchalantly reached inside my purse to pull it out. Damn it. It was Mulder again. Didn't he ever give up? I adjusted the settings so it wouldn't ring anymore and threw it back in my purse. Luckily, Mom was too busy to notice.

"Have you changed your mind about finding out what the sex is?" she called, holding up an equally charming little baseball outfit.

"No," I answered, scratching my stomach a bit. The skin was starting to stretch and was getting terribly itchy. I should pick up some Vitamin E cream on the way home."I don't want to know."

"Does Fox want to know?" she asked, peering over at me."It's not just your decision."

I exhaled slowly. At the moment, I didn't care what Mulder wanted. He was probably making plans of how he was going to spend the next two months without his pregnant partner in the way. I didn't talk to him for the rest of the day. I don't know what upset me more. Mulder's encouragement just to pack up and go or his obvious disregard for what transpired last night.

"Actually, we haven't discussed it," I finally said, shoving my rising anger back down."There's a lot of things we haven't discussed and I don't think we're going to get the opportunity."

That was the wrong thing to say. My mother shot out of the store and sat down beside me.

"Why?" she asked, scrunching her brow at me.

"Because Skinner wants to send me off to St. Louis," I said, looking over at her. Now I wanted to cry. Right in the middle of this freaking mall. These mood swings were unrelenting.

"Instead of Quantico," she surmised, nodding her head. "Are you sure that's such a good idea?"

"Mulder seemed to think so," I answered, clenching my teeth."I wouldn't be surprised if he's packing my bags right now."

"Was that all Skinner had for you?" she asked.

I nodded."Apparently. I'm off field duty and forensics is the only other thing I can do, since I can't teach right now."

"Do you want to leave, Dana?" Mom asked softly. Her voice tugging at my insides with its frank honestly. Leave it to my mom to get down to the heart of the matter.

"I don't want to give up my work, mom," I replied, looking over at her."It took us six years to get here and I can't just walk away from it all. I can't leave Mulder alone on the X-files. This is the only was I can stay on, at least on a part-time basis."

"I don't think that's the problem, Dana," she said, shaking her head at me."You just think it is."

"Then what is the problem?" I asked. I had no idea what she was talking about.

"Commitment," she answered.

"Mulder is the one who has the problem with commitment, Mom. Not me," I said defensively."He tells me he wants what's best for me, yet he leaves in the middle of the night with no warning and the next time I see him, he's ready to ship me off. Sounds like a man afraid of commitment to me."

"I think you're the one who's afraid, Dana," she countered, saying it delicately.

"I'm committed to this child," I protested, not liking the direction this conversation was taking."I'm doing everything I can to make sure it has the best chance of making it. . ."

"You misunderstand me, Dana. I'm sure Fox is just as committed to this baby as you are. Don't you think he's doing everything he can as well? You want to work and he's supporting your decision."

"He keeps telling me he wants to be a part of the baby's life," I said, looking down at my abdomen."But how can he do that if I'm 900 miles away?"

"You were ready to go to Quantico, Dana. In effect, you were the one leaving him," she said.

"That's not the same thing, Mom," I retorted."I've been shipped off to Quantico before and our partnership survived just fine."

"That's the problem. You think in terms of your partnership. You are committed to him, but through your work. You've been partners for so long that you don't know how to be anything else to him," she replied.

Obviously, she'd been analyzing us for some time now. Between Mulder and my mother, I shouldn't really be needing professional counseling any more. Apparently, they both have me figured out.

"Yes I do, Mom," I argued. Last night flashed through my mind again."Or I wouldn't be carrying his child right now."

"If you were, you would have told him you were pregnant when you found out," she fired back, looking disapprovingly at me. I don't think I will ever be able to live that one down.

"So what am I supposed to do?" I asked, shifting around to face her.

"Take the job in St. Louis," she said, laying her hand over mine."As much as I don't want you to go, it will give you a chance to work things out with Mulder."

"How?" I asked, sounding flippant."Just how can I do that when I'll be so far away?"

"You'll find out what's important to you both," Mom stated."And before you tell me I don't understand, let me reassure you I do. There were plenty of times your father was out at sea halfway around the world and I wouldn't see him for months at a time. One of those times was when I was pregnant with you, Dana. Trust me, it will put things into perspective."

I found myself remembering when Ahab was gone and how she took care of us all. The times when my father came home were some of the happiest times in my life. Now, I understood they were even more important for her. . .for reasons I had yet to fully comprehend.

"I just don't want to do this alone, Mom," I breathed. In the beginning, I thought I could.

"You won't be," she reassured me.

"Whose side are you on?" I asked, narrowing my eyes at her.

"My granddaughter's. Or grandson's," she replied. "A child needs both parents, Dana. And that should start now, before it arrives."


***

Mulder's Apartment
9:30 p.m.

I sat at my computer, trying to search the internet and the FBI files on St. Louis. They had just built a brand new federal building in the heart of downtown. One with state of the art security. It was a short distance from where she'd most likely be living, to make her commute as convenient as possible. Being a city located in the center of the country, it would give me a good shot at flying directly there from anywhere Skinner stuck me.

Her first ultrasound print out was sitting on my desk and I reached for it. Staring at the little black and white shape that was my child, it was little more than just a heartbeat at the time. Scully would be having another ultrasound soon, as she approached her 24th week. Wherever I was, I was determined to be there for that one as well.

"Maybe I can convince her to let me know if you're a boy or girl," I whispered. But I really didn't care one way or the other. As long as it got here.

I had called Scully a few times earlier, she must have turned her cell phone off or just wasn't picking up. As much as it frustrated me, I knew the best thing was to let her go. But I couldn't stop thinking about her or the baby right now. I had no idea how I was going to handle not seeing her everyday. Six hours and I was already a wreck.

Suddenly, there was a knock on my door, followed by a fumble of keys.

"Mulder?" Scully asked, through the door."Hello?"

"Scully," I answered, getting up. I'd given her an extra set long ago, but it always surprised me when she used them. It was rare she came over here unexpectedly, unless there was something wrong."Are you okay? I thought you were with your mom?"

I looked her over. She seemed all right. Except her eyes looked tired, which was becoming the norm.

"I'm fine and I was," she replied."Did I disturb you?"

"No," I said, grinning at her. She didn't appear mad at me, which was a good sign."I'm glad you're here."

Scully looked around my apartment, as if she expecting to find someone here smoking in the shadows or a big 'X' taped on the window. She wandered around a bit, peering over at the computer. She smiled slightly at the ultrasound printout.

"I was just wondering if it's a boy or girl," I admitted, answering her unspoken question.

"Do you want to know?" she inquired, picking it up for a moment and studying it carefully.

"I would," I confessed."Everything we do is so unexpected, for once it would be nice not to be surprised."

That got Scully to smile even wider.

"I've been checking out St. Louis for you," I said, not wanting that smile to fade just yet. I came around, touching her lightly on the back and leaning down to grab the mouse."See? They just build a new federal building. That's where you'll be working, if you decide to go. The lab will be equipped to handle much of the same testings that occurs here, giving law enforcement official everywhere a better chance of receiving forensic evidence back faster."

"I know there is a long waiting period for evidence shipped to DC," she whispered, watching me scroll through the information."It would be an important to make sure the staff is trained properly to maintain efficiency."

"It will look good on your record," I said, letting my hand drift up her back. It felt so good to touch her."Or at least, look a little better than being my 'partner'."

Scully pulled away from me, taking a few steps back around the coffee table.

"That's why I came here, actually. I made a decision tonight and I thought you should know," she began, sitting down the couch. She tucked a lock of hair behind her ear, then laced her fingers together. I sat down beside her, wondering what she was going to say.

"Before you do, Scully, I need to tell you something," I said, looking over at her. She raised her eyebrow slightly at me then lowered it into a frown."Something did happen yesterday, but not in Detroit."

"Mulder..." she breathed, managing to sound aggravated already in just that one word.

"And before you jump over all over my ass, Scully, I only hesitated in telling you because I didn't want you to be worried about it," I continued."But I'm not going to have you go off to St. Louis without knowing."

"Knowing what, Mulder?" she asked, now sounding worried.

"There was a reason my car was stalled at Dulles," I answered, not sure of exactly where to start."So Krycek could pay me a little visit."

Now I regretted saying it. Scully leaned back on the couch, her eyes growing larger with concern.

"Krycek," she repeated, nearly spitting out the name.

"And he knows," I continued, watching her close her eyes and shake her head. I reached out to steady her, touching her arm for support.

"And you didn't tell me," she fired back, glaring at me.

"I'm telling you now," I stated, defending my position. "Because that's why I want you to go to St. Louis. If you're there, you'll be out of sight for a while. It will give you a chance to be as far away from DC as you can but still be working with me on the X-files."

A tear escaped her eye and brushed it away, with a sharp intake of breath."Jesus, Mulder."

"And you can hate me all you want," I said, rubbing her arm. Gratefully she didn't move away from my touch this time."But I was only thinking of the baby. It's not going to be a part that."

"What did he say?" she pressed, wanting answers."Krycek..."

"He said, they were just surprised you are pregnant. And wanted to know how it happened," I whispered, hating having to repeat his words.

She let out a little burst of laughter and wiped away another tear."Don't we all?"

"Not me," I answered, capturing her hand and holding it tightly."I don't care how it happened. I'm just glad it did."


***

I took another deep breath. Trying to focus on his last words.

"So am I," I replied. I should be angry at him. I want to be angry at him. But he was just doing what I had done weeks ago, when I didn't tell him I was pregnant until after the first trimester. He was trying to protect our child. And me, for that matter.

"But if you don't want to leave, Scully," he added. "We'll work something else out."

"No," I replied."That's what I came over here to tell you. I want to go to St. Louis."

"You do?" he asked, confusion setting across his features.

"Because I think it would be good for us," I said, clutching his hand tighter."We haven't been able to work anything out in the last month and maybe putting some distance between us might be good. Apparently, I don't know how to be anything else to you besides your partner."

"Who told you that?" Mulder asked, snaking his arm behind me on the couch.

"My mother," I said, looking into his eyes. Trying not to smile."But she's right. I need to see you as someone else besides my FBI partner if this is going to work."

Mulder nodded, then shook his head."I still want to work with you, Scully."

"We will," I confirmed."But we are going to have a new job to concentrate on as well."

Mulder pulled me towards him, his lips brushing mine gently. Coaxing them apart as we kissed. I exhaled, releasing the tension that I had been carrying around all day.

"This is only going to get harder," I whispered, as he withdrew his mouth.

"I know," he said, clutching me harder in reassurance.

***

Scully's Apartment
7:30 p.m.
Two weeks later

"Put that down, I've got it," Frohike said, taking the box from Scully's hands."You shouldn't be lifting that in your condition."

"I'm not an invalid," she protested. They hadn't let her move a thing.

Byers and Langly were finished packing her closet. I rented a U-Haul trailer to transport what belongings she was taking with her to St. Louis. The bureau had provided Scully with a fully furnished apartment there for her two months stay. And a pretty nice one, from what I could gather, with plenty of security. That made me happy. The only things she had to pack were dishes, clothes, computer and a few other odds and ends. We were leaving in the morning for the long drive there. Moe, Larry and Curly had volunteered to see her off.

"When are you coming back, Agent Scully?" Byers asked politely.

"The first of December," she replied, looking over at me.

We had been busy over the last two weeks getting all the final details ready before she left. Her doctors recommended a specialist in St. Louis, whose credentials and background checked out. I was planning to fly there on the weekends when I wasn't on assignment and was going to keep her up to date on any X-file I was working on. Skinner decided not to assign me a new partner in the interim.

And neither one of us had another visit from Krycek.

"If there is anything we can do, don't hesitate to call," Frohike said, pointing at Scully.

"This is the last box," Langly said as he and Byers dragged it out to the living room.

"Just stick it in the trailer," I said, clapping Frohike on the back.

"We will miss you, Agent Scully," Frohike said, taking her hand in his stubby ones. Then pulled her into a quick hug. I think the little guy was actually choked up.

"Yes," Byers confirmed."After you get settled, let us know. One of us will come down and double check your apartment for you."

"Thank you," she replied."For helping me move."

Byers, Langly and Frohike gathered the rest of the boxes and took them as they left. I closed the door behind them.

"I guess that's everything," Scully said, falling back on the couch.

"Well, not everything," I said, sitting on the coffee table in front of her. I shifted her knees so they rested between mine."There is one box you forgot."

She sighed, rolling her eyes at me. She looked around her apartment, trying to figure out what I was talking about."Where?"

"Here," I said, fishing a tiny velvet box out of my pocket."You don't have to wait until St. Louis to unpack this one."

Her hand trembled slightly as she took the box from me.

"Mulder," she said, almost afraid of what was inside.

"Go ahead, Scully," I coaxed, a faint smile on my lips.

She took a deep breath, slowly opening the box. Inside, a one-carat marquis-shaped diamond sparkled, flanked by one blue topaz stone. I'd had it custom made for her, paying extra to make sure it arrived on time.

"I know we haven't worked out the details yet," I said, watching as she carefully lifted it out of the box."But I wanted to make it official, before you go."

Scully bit her bottom lip, her eyes were shining as she looked over at me.

"Mulder," she whispered, sliding it over her slim finger. It fit perfectly.

"The diamond is for you," I said, seeing it catch the light. Matching the one in her eyes."Blue topaz is the birthstone for December."

"For the baby," she whispered.

I nodded. I think she was surprised, not expecting something as traditional as that from me."I'm not going to pressure you, but think about it and we'll talk more later."

She sighed, holding her hand up to the light and watching it sparkle.

"It's beautiful," she said."I love it. We love it."

"We?" I repeated. It was the first time Scully had referred to herself in the plural.

"Yes we," she confirmed, laying my hand over her stomach with her left one. Joining us all together for a moment.

As a family. Or the start of one.


***

Part Three

Truman Federal Building
St. Louis, MO
9:05 a.m.

I stared at the vending machine. B5 was empty.

How could it be empty? I was just here an hour ago and there were at least three packets of Austin animal crackers sitting in the spirals. I bought two bags this morning, but I had eaten them already. Damn it. The vending service rep should be coming around soon. I thought he filled it up on Friday. He could deliver the whole freaking box to my office. It would save me the trip down here every other hour to get them. I'd become addicted to the crispy little wafers and craved them constantly. Unfortunately, it was a brand that was found only in vending machines. I tried all the local grocery stores and no one carried them. And at 2 fat grams per bag, they were better than the Suzie Q's located in A7.

I exhaled and shuffled back down the hall, feeling a sharp bite of pain in my lower back. Sciatic nerve again. I hoped it wouldn't continue for the remainder of my pregnancy. I still had 20 weeks left to go.

"I'm sorry," I said to the baby apologetically. I rubbed that pinching spot on my back."They're all out of animal crackers. We can try again later."

"Hi, Dr. Scully," said Agent Catherine Schaffer, turning the corner and walking beside me. She had an office down the hall from mine. "How are you doing today?"

I've been in St. Louis almost two weeks and already the entire office knew I was pregnant. I tried to keep it as low key as possible, but once word leaked out everyone took it upon themselves to ask me that question at least once a day. I'm thinking I should stick the answer on my FBI badge along with the due date.

"Same as yesterday," I replied, with a slight smile. She slowed down her steps to match mine."Uncomfortable. Swollen. Tired."

"That's how it was with my first," she quipped. I could tell she wanted to reach out and touch my stomach. Funny how pregnancy inspires such instant rapport with other women."Trust me, your second will be much easier. I had a hell of a time with Christie and my second one, Jordan was a piece of cake."

"Second one?" I asked incredulously. It was a miracle I was pregnant with this one.

"My husband wants a third one, can you believe that? Easy for them to say," she said, leaning against the door to her office."How many does your husband want?"

"I'm not married," I replied quietly, turning to face her.

"Oh, I'm sorry," Schaffer said, looking uncomfortable at her mistake."I just assumed. The ring on your finger..."

I looked down to the diamond and topaz ring gracing my left hand. It certainly was big enough to be mistaken for the entire bridal set. Perhaps he chose this setting because it did, knowing being unmarried and pregnant broke all the rules of my Catholic upbringing.

"It's okay," I assured her."Easy mistake to make."

"Well, if you need anything, just let me know," she answered.

"Thanks," I said, disappearing into my office. Before she had a chance to tell me a horrific labor story. That's the another thing that happens when you are pregnant. Every woman feels compelled to tell you how awful it was giving birth.

I didn't even bother to turn the lights on. I eased into my chair, elevating my feet slightly. I closed my eyes to relax for a bit. I had almost an hour before my next session. Just enough time to rest up. Mulder had sent me something to work up from his latest case last night. Complete with a personal message on the body bag-"Dear Scully, Nothing Says I Love You Like the FTD Forensic Bouquet. Mulder."

I really hope this child does not have his sense of humor.

That was going to be my mid-morning project. Should make the session interesting. Evidence to test on the new equipment. Mulder was flying in for the weekend for my 4:00 p.m. ultrasound this afternoon and I could give him my report then. So far he was keeping me a part of the X-files as much as he could. Besides, gave him an excuse to call me even more.

I could really use a bag of animal crackers. . .

Maybe there was one in the back of my desk that I missed. I leaned forward to open the drawer. Suddenly, I felt a twinge deep inside my abdomen. Something that surprised me and I cried out spontaneously, clutching my stomach.

Oh my God...


***

4867 Carriagepark Rd
Fairfax, VA
10:15 a.m.

"It needs work," Jeannie Dwyer said, walking around the center foyer."But it certainly has a lot of potential."

A lot of potential. Must be one of those catch phrases they teach in real estate class. Along with curb appeal. Cozy lighting. Neutral decor. They also teach perpetual eagerness. She called this morning at 8:00 a.m. to make arrangements so I could see it before going to the office because Jeannie had a hunch this little gem wouldn't be on the market long.

"And Kings Park is a very sought after area," she added."The grade school is Olde Creek and has one of the highest ratings in the district."

"What about parochial schools?" I asked, knowing Scully would never let our kid step foot in a public school. At least we have about five years to work on that argument. First, I had to get the marriage thing figured out.

"St. Dominic's is the local parish. Excellent school, but limited enrollment," she said, checking the facts on her clipboard.

I nodded, turning my attention back to the house. It was a beautiful all-brick townhouse with soaring ceilings and hardwood foyer. Perhaps I've lived too long in my small apartment, because the wide-open spaces seemed foreign to me. But she would love this house. It even had a private decked rear yard in the back. Perfect for our little UberScully to play in.

"Now, the lower level has been furnished as well with a nice play area for the kids. How many kids did you say you have?"

I smiled."Just one. Set to arrive in December."

"Ah," she grinned."Then you'll love this. Follow me, Mr. Mulder..."

*CHIRP*

My cell phone rang in my pocket, causing Jeannie to stare at me.

*CHIRP*

"Just a second," I said, flipping the phone open and hitting send. I walked into the front room for privacy. In case it was Skinner. "Mulder?"

"Mulder, it's me," came Scully's voice. Breathless and shallow.

"Scully?" I asked, sensing distress in just those three words."What is it?"

"The baby," she said, between sharp intakes of air.

"Is there anything wrong?" I asked seriously, seeing Jeannie prick up her ears at that question. The empty house echoed my words, making them sound almost ominous.

"It...kicked me," she said, with a surprised laugh. "Just now. For the first time."

I breathed a sigh of relief, clutching my chest. My heart must have stopped for a second."Whoa, Scully! Had me worried there for a second. Kicking?"

"Yes," she answered, resuming her normal tone."I just thought you would want to know, since you aren't here for this."

I felt guilt at those last words, even though that wasn't how she meant it. She was better off where she was, I keep telling myself.

"I'll be there later," I offered, wishing I could be there now. I hated her going through it alone."Think it'll do it later?"

"I don't know," she replied, sounding wistful."But if I don't find some animal crackers soon, I'm going to be doing some kicking myself."

Animal crackers?

"Mr. Mulder?" Jeannie asked, motioning to the time.

"Scully, I have to go. I have to check out a crime scene," I said, smiling at Jeannie."You got my present, right?"

"If you mean the body bag, yes," she answered, with her familiar sarcasm."By the way, thank you for the lovely card attached."

"Hey, only the best for you," I whispered, with a laugh. She silently hung up the phone.

My cell phone bill was going to be astronomical, even worse than last month's, but it was our lifeline. Just like it had been years ago when the X-files were shut down and she was shipped off to Quantico. Scully's voice was the only thing that kept me going then.

It's the only thing that keeps me going now.


***

Truman Federal Building
St. Louis, MO
11:00 a.m.

Craig O'Dear, Mulder's little present to me, died of lacerations to the abdomen. He'd be cut a total of 24 times. Which matched his age. That seemed to be one of the idiosyncrasies of this perpetrator. The other being, his victims all suffered from genetic disorders. Mulder suspected the method of murder was just a way to cover it up.

My staff ran various tests on the tissue and blood samples, utilizing the state of the art equipment housed at this facility. While they completed the work ups, I made a preliminary evaluation of my own.

"A physical examination will usually reveal the typical pattern of muscle weakness, showing evidence of myotonia," I said to my group of three."In addition, early in the disease process, weakness and wasting of facial, jaw and neck muscles and frontal balding in men often gives the face a characteristic appearance."

I pointed to the drooping eyelids as an example.

"The definitive test for MYDY is to take a blood sample to identify the abnormal gene within the chromosomes which are contained within the white blood cells," I continued.

Karen Myers raised her hand slightly to get my attention."Could you elaborate on the disease's origins?"

I walked back around the table, easing onto a stool to take the weight off my feet."As in all hereditary disorders, the disease process originates in genetic material that is defective. A faulty gene produces MYDY and I believe it's located on chromosome 19. This appears more likely to occur if the faulty gene is handed on by the mother rather than the father."

With my last words, I notice all their eyes had lowered from my face to my abdomen. And it flustered me.

"An individual with MYDY has one abnormal gene and one normal gene," added Dr. Tom Albus, sensing my discomfort."There is, therefore, a fifty percent chance of that person transmitting the disease to his or her offspring."

"The other two victims suffered similar genetic mutations," Myers said, leaning against the table slightly."Seems he or she is trying to rid the world of such defects."

"That's what my partner thinks," I said, referring Mulder's field notes that accompanied the body. Luckily, no one smirked at the word partner. Word hadn't leaked out that I had broken one of the FBI's most sacred commandments. Thou shalt not sleep with thy partner.

"Let's break," Dr. Albus said, gesturing with his hand for everyone to step back from the corpse."If that's okay with you, Dr. Scully."

"Yes," I replied, standing up again."After lunch, we can review the genetics tests to see if my theory is correct. See you back here in about an hour."

They nodded, turning to exit the pathology lab. Dr. Albus covered the body respectfully and began to push it back into the cooler.

"Good analysis, Dr. Scully," he commented, looking back at me."We could really use someone like you full time here."

"I already have a full time job," I said, folding my arms around myself."Pretty soon, I'm going to have two."

He laughed a bit, then his smile faded."Does this case make you uncomfortable? Because of your...I mean, because you're..."

"Pregnant?" I said, tucking a stray lock of hair behind my ear.

"I don't mean to intrude," he said apologetically, slamming the cooler shut."But isn't that every mother's fear?"

I opened my palm, spreading my fingers against my baby. There was something more frightening to me than any naturally occurring genetic disease. A disease that was forced upon someone. Like my cancer. Would they ever try something like that with my baby?

"Of course," I replied softly."But the odds of that happening are statistically low. Both the father and I are in good health."

He nodded, with a thin smile on his lips."But genetic disease has nothing to do with good health. It's something uncontrollable. Determined the second conception occurs."

I opened my mouth to speak something, when I felt my pager go off.

"Will you excuse me?" I said, looking down at it. It was my doctor's office. To confirm my 4:00 p.m. appointment."I have to take this."

"Sure, see you back in an hour," he replied, waving at me as I shuffled out the door.

I took a deep breath and leaned against the wall in the corridor. This child is perfectly healthy and normal, I told myself. No one has tampered with it or me. Not since that chip was implanted.

The chip.

A horrifying thought passed through my mind.


***

J. Edgar Hoover Bldg. Garage
12:00 p.m.

I came back to the office later than expected. Skinner jumped my case about missing a meeting and there were about ten messages for me on the service. Including one that told me Scully's lease is up for renewal in January. Mine they are willing to terminate at any time. After the waterbed incident and Phillip Padgett's body in the basement, my landlord is more than ready to kick my ass out.

I decided to put an offer on the townhouse. With any luck, I could close in four weeks since the previous owners were already gone. I'd like to buy a huge property for her like the one in Arcadia when we were 'playing house' out in California. But I wasn't even sure how she was going to react to this one. It needed a lot of work. With any luck, it would be ready for her when she came back from St. Louis in December. She could move right in. I'd save the baby room for her to decorate any way she wanted.

I glanced at my watch. It was time to go. I'd taken a half-day off so I'd have enough time to make it to the airport. My flight left at 1:15 p.m. I locked the office and headed for the parking garage.

I couldn't wait to see Scully. Talking to her on the phone only went so far. I wanted to touch her. Hold her. Talk to her face to face. I didn't realize how much I'd taken all those things for granted until she was gone. After almost seven years together, I didn't know how to be without her anymore. This would be the last time she'd be away from me like this. I walked through the parking garage of the Hoover Building. My bag was already packed and ready to go in the trunk.

"Fox?"

Did someone call my name? I looked around at the parked cars, seeing nothing. I kept walking ahead, remembering Krycek's little visit nearly a month ago. He wouldn't be stupid enough to show up here. On second thought, yes he would.

"Fox?" the voice asked again. This time clear and distinctive and it stopped me cold.

I knew that voice. I knew it far too well.

"I hear congratulation's are in order," Diana Fowley said, turning the corner to face me.

"Did Krycek tell you that?" I replied, meeting her icy stare. She'd been missing for months, ever since the night the Syndicate was destroyed. Her disappearance was suspicious enough. She didn't even come back for Spender's funeral and he was her partner for all those months. But then again, Diana was never good at being loyal.

"I don't know what you are talking about," she answered nonchalantly. But I could tell she was lying, I had learned the signs long ago."I've been away for a while, Fox. I just got back and I was surprised to learn the news, given her medical condition and all. She shouldn't really be pregnant."

"It's not a condition. It was a violation," I said, resuming my steps to the car.

"How'd it happen then?" she asked, reaching out to touch my arm to stop me."In-vitro? Donor egg?"

"Does it matter?" I threw back.

"Have you married her yet?" she asked, with a sense of urgency to her voice. As if she was hoping the answer was no."I'm sure you know the consequences of marrying your partner."

"No, I only know the consequences of marrying you," I answered. It was so long ago and after years and years of trying to forget, it was like it didn't happen. But unfortunately, it did.

"Or doesn't she know about us?" Diana inquired, then she smiled when I did not answer her."That's it. She has absolutely no idea, does she?"

"Scully knows all about you," I lied, hoping it sounded convincing.

"This is what you always wanted, isn't it?" Diana asked, folding her arms and leaning against my car."That thing I wouldn't give you. A family. To replace the one you lost when Samantha was taken."

"I guess that's why we split up, Diana. You had your own agenda, separate from me," I said, opening the door. I threw my laptop in and slid into the driver's seat."What I wanted never really mattered."

Diana moved forward and rested her folded arms on the door, to prevent me from closing it."This wasn't supposed to happen, Fox."

"Is that why you're here?" I asked, jerking the door closed. It forced Diana back and she stood up, frowning with disapproval. "Did they send you to question me? Thinking you'd get a better response than Krycek?"

"I'm here because I think you're both making a big mistake," she said, taking a deep breath. I turned the ignition over, ready to get the hell out of here and away from my past.

"Well, it wouldn't be the first time," I replied, rolling up the window and pulling out. Diana kept her position, standing defiantly in my now vacant parking space.

If looks could kill...


***

Barnes-Jewish Hospital
4:45 p.m.

My doctor was a short drive from downtown St. Louis, so I arrived early for my appointment. I waited patiently for Mulder for the first half-hour. I tried his cell phone numerous times with no answer. His flight arrived on schedule, touching down at Lambert at 3:15 p.m. He should have been here by now...assuming he was on it, of course.

I convinced the doctor to let another patient go first, to give him extra time. I kept watching the clock, growing more frustrated at each person who walked in the door because they weren't Mulder. I had to drink extra water earlier so I'd have a full bladder for this and sitting was becoming excruciating.

"We can't wait anymore," the nurse said, touching my arm."The doctor is only here until 5:30 p.m. and it's already quarter 'til five."

I sighed. Leave it up to Mulder not to show up for this. I tried one more time on his cell phone. Nothing.

"Okay," I said, following her down the hall. Pictures graced the wall of women at all stages of pregnancy and I glanced at the one for five months. I should be feeling fetal movement, experiencing vaginal discharge, constipation and heartburn. This kept getting better and better.

"You're here for an ultrasound," she confirmed, as I stood on the scale. I'd only gained about twelve pounds so far, which wasn't too bad. I was almost up to my pre-cancer weight now."Been taking your pre-natal vitamins?"

"Yes," I replied, as we entered the examination room. "And my calcium supplements."

"Good," she said, noting it in my file."There's a gown right there you can change into and a sheet to drape over your legs. She'll want to do the pelvic first and check your vitals."

I struggled a bit with the tie in the back, but soon I had the gown on and I wrapped the flat white sheet around me. I stared at the stirrups on the end of the table, imagining what it was going to feel like being in a birthing chair. Am I going to be able to handle it? Liver-eating mutants and alien oil didn't scare me. Giving birth did.

"Hi Dana," Dr. Andrea Stephens said, breezing into the room. She was the OB/GYN specialist referred by my doctor back in DC. I had met her my first week, for a consultation and I liked her. Plus, her background check was clear."Aren't we missing someone?"

"He was supposed to be here," I groaned, as I laid back on the table. I had told them the father was going to be present for this. Dr. Stephens looked over my file, nodding her head and saying nothing more of Mulder's absence.

"You're not spotting again, are you?" she asked, making notes in the margin.

"No," I replied, with a sigh of relief. It had been over a month with no spotting.

"That's good. Weight gain is steady. Good. Any problems you want to talk about?"

"My sciatic nerve," I said, motioning to my lower back.

"Yes. The pressure of your enlarging uterus causes that. Hopefully, the baby will change positions and alleviate that," she said, checking my heartbeat and blood pressure."And speaking of, any fetal movement?"

"Today, actually," I said, smiling a bit. Proud of the baby's accomplishment."I felt it move this morning. Up until now, I've just been feeling pressure. Like gas."

"That's wonderful," she replied, laying her hand on my arm."Exciting, isn't it? After all this time to feel it moving around."

I nodded. It was exciting, just wished the father could have been there too.

She proceeded to do a pelvic exam, and I tried to relax. I heard her slap on the latex gloves, something I'd done a thousand times myself.

"How do you like St. Louis so far?" she asked, probing carefully.

"It's different," I said, staring at the ceiling. It was uncomfortable what she was doing, but necessary."I miss DC. But the job is good. I make my own hours."

"That's important to have flexibility right now," she said, patting my knee to signal the completion of the exam. She withdrew her hand and handed me my underwear."You can put those back on for the ultrasound if you want. It's right across the hall. Julie is waiting for you."

"Thanks," I said, sitting up and sliding them back on. I didn't feel quite as exposed now. Any shyness I felt about pelvic exams I was going to get over real soon when the baby arrived.

By now, my bladder was sending the sharpest pains up through me. I was going to explode soon. She helped me off the table and handed me my clothing and purse.

"I'd say you're doing great," she said encouragingly. "Do you have any questions, Dana?"

"I do. I mean, I have just one," I began, feeling awkward even mentioning it. But I wanted to know for the weekend."What about sex? We've been abstaining since last month."

"Your pelvic exam went fine," Dr. Stephens said."I think it's safe now to resume normal intercourse. Just no deep penetration. Your cervix may still be sensitive."

"Is there anything else I should be doing?" I asked, wanting to make sure there wasn't something I was forgetting.

"Just keep doing what you're doing. Make sure you aren't getting stressed or fatigued at work. Take it easy. When you're done with the ultrasound, we can go over a few more details and set up your next appointment," she said, making more notes in my chart.

Outside, there was a slamming of doors and voices being raised. It startled me. I looked up at Dr. Stephens.

"Must be something going on in the hall," she commented.

Suddenly, the door flew open and we both jumped. Without warning, Mulder was standing in the threshold, with the nurse attached to his arm.

"This man burst in here, I'm sorry," the nurse said, trying to pull Mulder back into the hallway.

He gazed down at me. Mulder looked harried, like he'd run all the way from DC. Or at least from the parking lot. He smiled at me and I grinned back.

"It's okay," I said, glancing over at the nurse."He's the father."

"Better late than never. I'm Andrea Stephens," she said, extending her hand."You must be Fox Mulder."

"Yes," he answered, shaking it firmly."Is everything okay?"

"So far so good. We were just about to take a look right now," she answered, shepherding us across the hall."This is Julie, our med tech and she's going to take care of you."

Mulder helped me ease onto the table, adjusting the pillow so I was comfortable. Julie smiled at us.

Dr. Stephens set my things down in a chair."I'll see you in a little bit."

"This isn't your first ultrasound, right?" Julie said, checking my chart."So you know the routine."

"Yes," I answered, trying to think of anything but my bladder right now.

Julie lifted up my gown and pushed the waistband down a bit. By now, I had to pee so badly and any pressure on my abdomen was sheer agony.

She smeared the gel on my stomach. I flinched at its coldness and looked up at the ceiling. Mulder took my left hand in both of his. Next, Julie lowered the transducer to my stomach. She turned the monitor so we both could see. But even before its body came into focus, we heard the baby's heart. Loud and strong. A rhythmic swooshing sound. Mulder's eyes were transfixed on the image, staring at it intently. Julie moved the transducer around, trying to get a better look.

"Here's the head. Here's the curve of the spine," she said, pointing on the screen. Mulder clutched my hand tighter and I felt tears well up. Seeing and feeling it in one day was overwhelming indeed. My baby. Looked perfectly normal to me. I forced my earlier fears down and away.

"Can you tell what it is yet?" Mulder asked, with a wonder in his tone.

"Unfortunately, it's turned away right now. Do you want to know?" she asked, grinning up at us.

"No," I replied.

"Yes," Mulder replied.

Her smile widened."Looks like we aren't going to see it this time. You can decide before then. I'd say he or she is developing just fine. Do you want a picture of the sonogram?"

"Yes, we both would," I nodded, looking over at Mulder.

She shifted it around my stomach, giving us another view of our child.

"Look at that arm," Mulder said, tracing the tiny shape on the screen."Gotta little pitcher in there."

I shook my head."You and baseball, Mulder. What if it's a girl?"

"Then our daughter will be the first woman to play in the majors," he said. Julie twisted her mouth up slightly. I wondered how many times fathers had made that comment. She reached down and handed the prints to Mulder, then withdrew the transducer.

"Thank you," I replied, as she closed the door. Leaving Mulder and I alone for the first time in two weeks. But first, I had to pee.

***

"Scully," I began.

But she raised her hand, indicated she wanted me to shut up and headed for the tiny bathroom in the corner. After a minute or two, I heard her sigh, then flush. She emerged seconds later, that pained expression on her face was gone. She was probably annoyed with me for being late.

"Scully, I just wanted to say I'm sorry. For being late," I said.

"At least you got here," she replied, lifting her gown up. She wiped the remaining goo from her stomach with a small white towel.

"It was important to me," I said, reaching for her clothes neatly stacked on a chair. She had gotten bigger over the last two weeks. I'd been so wrapped up with the baby on the monitor I hadn't really studied her yet.

"What are you staring at?" Scully asked, looking over.

"You," I replied, standing beside her. I set the clothes on the table."I missed you, Scully."

She sighed. That little furrow in her brow began to ease up. "I hope this baby doesn't have your sense of timing."

Scully turned her back to me and swept her copper hair off her neck, exposing the tie of the gown.

"Mulder, could you?" she implored, eyes pleading with mine.

My fingers reached up to the knot, slowly pulling it free. I let the gown slide off her body, exposing the expanse of her back to me. Her body had changed in shape and she had gotten even curvier. How she used to look before the cancer made her lose all that weight. I traced a line down her back, right to edge of her panties. I saw her shiver at the contact. I missed her so much.

Scully kept her back to me as she put her bra back on. Followed by a pale rose maternity shirt with matching slacks. Stylish, yet designed to be comfortable. She looked absolutely radiant indeed. Watching her dress was almost as seductive as watching her undress.

"How are you feeling?" I asked, averting my eyes as she zipped up the pants.

"Pretty good," she answered, slipping her shoes on. "No more morning sickness. I try to get in a little exercise on the treadmill each morning."

"Nothing unusual happen here?" I asked carefully. She knew exactly what I was referring to.

"No. You haven't had any visits from Krycek, have you?" she asked, picking up her purse and the sonogram prints.

"No," I answered truthfully. I had no visits from Krycek. Now Diana, that was another story. I wasn't about to share that piece of information with her. Not now, when things were going so well. We'd deal with that later.

She stared at me, trying to determine if I was lying to her. I looked her straight in the eyes and she took a deep breath. Accepting that answer for now.

"C'mon," she said, opening the door."She's waiting for us."

We fell into step as we walked down the hallway. It was a nice facility and I was glad they were taking such good care of Scully and the baby. I reached for her hand, wanting to establish contact again. I caught the glint of her engagement ring and I smiled. At least she was wearing it. That was a good sign. I began to lace our fingertips when suddenly, she jerked away from me. Stopping.

"Wait!" she said suddenly.

Scully took a few steps back to a vending machine nestled in the corner, scanning the selections eagerly.

"Mulder, give me some change. Now," she ordered, holding out her hand.

I dug in my pockets and dumped the contents into her palms. She rattled the coins around, counting them.

"Enough for three bags," she said eagerly, cramming the change into the machine.

She hit the button and quickly grabbed the two blue bags that fell to the bottom. Austin animal crackers. She tore into one of them and shoved the other two into her purse. She happily munched them as we headed to Dr. Stephens's office.


***

Scully's Apartment
6:00 p.m.

"Myotonic dystrophy," I said as we walked up the stairs to the main entrance. Mulder had followed me in his rental car to my apartment. "That's what Craig O'Dear had. Tests confirmed it this afternoon."

"Another victim with a rare genetic disorder," Mulder said, dragging his suitcase into the foyer. I swiped my pass card to allow me access to the upper floors of the elevator. I loved the security of the building. There was a guard on duty 24 hours a day and it was well lit. Two other out of town FBI personnel lived here on the fifth and ninth floors.

"This one was found in Wilmington, right?" I asked as we stepped onto the elevator.

"Yes," he confirmed, brushing up against me intentionally as he moved to the back. If I was mad at him earlier, I wasn't anymore. That little touch in the exam room reminded me how much I really missed him. And not just as my FBI partner.

"Was he originally from Canada?" I inquired.

"Canada?" Mulder countered."I don't think so. Does it matter?"

"It's just Myotonic dystrophy is prevalent in French Canadians," I clarified, watching the numbers light up as we ascended.

"Or his parents were," Mulder added, leaning against the railing of the elevator."That might be significant. I knew there was a reason I'm keeping you as my partner."

"Better not be the only reason," I said, as the doors snapped open. We walked down to 714.

He placed his hand on the door, right beside my head and leaned into me. His lips brushing my ear."I can think of a couple more."

I smiled, turning the key. I let the door fly open so he'd lose his balance a bit.

"Love what you've done with the decor," Mulder said sarcastically. It looked exactly the same as when he moved me in. I only moved some of the furniture so I could maneuver around the apartment easier.

"It's not what I would have picked out for myself," I said, turning on the lights and checking my answering machine. All the colors were extremely neutral and bland."I like a little color on my sofa. Maybe a check pattern. Anything."

Mulder pricked up his ears at that comment."Any particular sofa color?"

"I don't know. Hunter green. Maroon."

"How about cherry wood? Do you like cherry wood?" he asked, wandering back to the bedroom.

"I like cherry wood," I replied, following him."Why this sudden interest in furniture?"

"No reason," Mulder said, dismissing the comment. I raised my eyebrow at him.

"I do like this bedroom set," I commented. It had a huge four-poster bed with a matching chest and bureau. I removed my shoes and sat down on the bed, fondly remembering our first night here. Those posts came in quite handy.

"I like it too," he confirmed, nudging me slightly. Then he exhaled as a thin smile spread across his lips. The room grew silent as we stared at each other.

"I really missed you, Scully."

I smiled back, feeling warmth radiating over me from the way he was looking at me. With such longing.

"I missed you," I breathed.

"Let me take you out, Scully," Mulder began. I could tell he wanted to reach out and touch me, but he kept his hands at his sides. "There must be a nice place to eat around here. You could put on something sexy."

"I don't have anything sexy," I replied, raising my eyebrow again."Sexy is not an adjective used to describe maternity clothes."

"I'm sure you do," he coaxed. His expression grew serious."Anywhere you want to go."

"There's a restaurant down the street from where I work that I've heard is good," I said."Private. Where we could talk."

We did need to talk. About this baby. What we were going to do when I came back to DC. The hopes and fears I kept shoved down. Did he have them too? Did he lie awake in the middle of the night hoping our child would grow up normal? And have a life not filled with conspiracy, deceit and lies? Or did he suspect another disease lay dormant in my system, waiting to attack us both at any given time?

"I have something for you," he said, breaking the uneasy tension."Actually, it's from your mother. She asked that I give it to you."

"She did?" I asked, pressing my lips together. She didn't say a word last night when I spoke with her. I made almost as many calls to her as I did to Mulder. Is this right? Did you feel this? Did you experience that?

"Yeah," Mulder said, getting up. He reached for his suitcase and flopped it on the bed. He opened it and searched around for a small package wrapped in white tissue paper."I don't know what it is. Something about a conversation you had the other night?"

"Oh," I said, taking it from him. The little note taped to it said only five words."For your sciatic nerve. Mom."

I tore the tissue paper away to find a heating pad. Mulder laughed a bit as I took it out of the package.

"I guess that's better than my gift earlier," he mused.

"Oh yes," I replied, unrolling it. I laid it back on the bed."Should come in handy later. After..."

"After?" Mulder asked, hopefully.

"Dinner," I finished, smiling faintly.


***

Dierdorf and Hart's
7:30 p.m.

I don't know if it's all the extra hormones racing around her tiny frame, but Scully looked absolutely beautiful. Stunning. She doesn't think it's sexy, but the simple cream dress she wore only accented all her curves.

"How's Skinner?" she asked, taking a sip of her decaffeinated soda.

"Pissed off at me," I replied, with a grin."But tell me what else is new. It's just this new case with the Gene Splicer."

"The Gene Splicer?" she repeated, raising her eyebrow at the nickname I'd given O'Dear's killer.

"I'm inclined to think he might have been part of some white supremacist group at one time or another. Neo-nazism perhaps. He sees his victims as inferior because of their conditions and chooses to rid the world of these afflictions," I said, reciting words I'd transcribed this morning for Skinner in my progress report.

Scully grew unusually quiet, averting her eyes as she glanced at the menu again.

"Scully?" I asked, picking up on her mood change. "I'm sorry...I thought you wanted to talk about work."

She wet her lips, thinking carefully about her next words. Then, she met my gaze briefly."I do. It's just..."

"It's just...?"

"Do you ever worry about it?" she asked, setting the menu down."Genetic disease. For our child, I mean."

"Should I be concerned?" I asked, reaching my arm across the table to take her hand. It trembled and I held it tighter to steady her."All the tests are fine. It looked perfect to me on the sonogram. I was going to have 8 x 10 glossies made of it to hang up in the office."

She bit her lip, ignoring my attempt at humor."It looks fine now, but it's too early to tell. I'm worried about that chip in my neck. What if it has done something that affected the ova? I'm not supposed to be pregnant Mulder. Isn't that what Krycek said?"

Jesus. And that's what Diana said this morning. Do they know something we don't know? Are Scully's maternal instincts telling her there might be something wrong? Or is this damn case causing her to question her own child's genetic make-up? That conversation we'd had so long ago on that park bench kept playing back in my head. I knew it scared her. The hopes and fears a woman has for her unborn child.

"They can do tests, right?" I said, seeing her frown ease up a bit.

"Amniocentesis," she said, looking back at me. I could see the tears welling up in her eyes. Threatening to fall if she blinked again. "But not all genetic disorders have been mapped, Mulder. Especially one that might have been created."

I hated this. I hated what they had done to her. Turning what should be the most exciting time in our lives to something overshadowed by doubts and concerns for the child's well being. That tear fell down her cheek and Scully quickly brushed it away with her napkin. Not wanting to make a scene in such a public place.

"We don't know that," I replied, scooting my chair closer to hers. I lowered my voice for privacy."And we can't spend the next 20 weeks speculating on circumstances that may or may happen. This baby is healthy, Scully. You've been taking excellent care of him. Or her."

She took a deep breath, steadying herself."You're right, Mulder. Krycek was probably just screwing with you."

"Yes," I nodded, letting my thumb caress her palm. "He has to make his bi-annual appearance, you know. Just to keep in touch."

She relaxed a bit, but her fingers clutched me tighter."I don't want this child being part of it, Mulder," she warned, not wanting me to get involved with him again.

I wished I could issue it in writing to her. Have it notarized and certified and sealed in blood that that wasn't going to happen. I hadn't considered the possibility that the chip might have affected her genetic make up. Especially since they took the trouble of harvesting her ova. Why leave behind anything that would affect a child she wasn't supposed to have?

Or maybe that's why Krycek and Diana were so concerned she's pregnant.

I shook those thoughts out of my head. Damn it. They weren't going to ruin this evening. My visit with Scully. I didn't want her to think about it for one second longer. Nothing like that was going to happen. It's all speculation, caused by years of living in conspiracies. Our baby wasn't created as part of any experiment. It was created because we love each other.

"Let's get out of here, Scully," I whispered, knowing she was uncomfortable sitting in this fancy restaurant."We can pick something up on the way home. Sound good?"

She sniffed, then nodded her head.


***

Scully's Apartment
10:15 p.m.

"Everyone here is nice to me," I said, scooping the remains of the Moo Shu Pork from the paper carton. I was sitting on the floor with my back against the couch and my legs tucked underneath me. My stockings lay in a crumbled heap on the floor. I just couldn't stand to wear them one second longer.

"Why wouldn't they be?" Mulder said, eating half the egg roll I'd left behind.

"Back in DC, well, you know they talked about it behind our backs," I said, averting my eyes.

"About how Spooky knocked up the pristine Dana Scully?" he teased.

"Here, everyone assumes I'm married," I said, wiping my lips with a napkin."Or that I've got someone waiting for me back home."

"You do have someone waiting for you back home," Mulder confirmed, leaning in closer to me."And I do want to marry you."

I set the carton down and folded my hands in my lap, looking down at the engagement ring."I know, Mulder. But no one here knows what we've been through. It's almost like we're just a normal working couple. You're in DC, I'm in St. Louis. The anonymity is refreshing."

"That's what I hoped for," he admitted, offering me the last bite of the egg roll. I took it in my mouth and he wiped away a speck of sweet and sour sauce from my lips.

"Work was always my number one priority, Mulder," I continued, stretching out. I had eaten way too much Chinese food."But now, this baby is. What the funny thing is, people don't see Dr. Dana Scully when they look at me. They see, Dana Scully mom-to-be."

"And are you comfortable with that? Dr. Dana Scully," he said, tucking a strand of hair behind my ear.

"I am," I replied, leaning into his touch."It's just an observation on how perceptions change."

"Still, I can't wait for you to come back to DC," Mulder began, wrapping his arm around my shoulder. He pulled me closer and I buried my face in the crook of his neck. Breathing in the familiar scent of Mulder. I wrapped my arm around his waist."You should see the baby shower the guys are planning for your return."

I laughed, imagining some freaky mobile made up of computer parts or a turbo-charged baby monitor."They don't have to."

"Oh, but Frohike wants to," Mulder said, holding me tighter."He's already reading Consumer Reports to determine the best car seats and strollers for you."

I felt a little pang in my lower abdomen and sat straight up.

"What is it?" Mulder asked, releasing me.

I reached for his hand and laid it over the top."I think it moved again. I doubt you can feel it. But it did."

Mulder smiled as he spread his fingers out, pressing into me a bit."Tell me if it does it again."

We waited for a few minutes, but I felt nothing.

"Must be the Chinese food," I said, falling back into Mulder's arms and draping my legs over his. I drew him close, so our lips were almost touching."I don't think it approves of your dinner selection."

"Finicky eater," Mulder commented, nuzzling me a bit. "Just like his mom."

"Her mom," I corrected, settling into a slow kiss. Our first kiss since he arrived.

"Did I tell you how beautiful you look tonight?" Mulder said, running his hand up and down my bare legs. I shivered at the contact. He kissed me again, letting his lips drift over my cheeks and eyelids and resting on my forehead."So beautiful."

A compliment like that at a time when I wasn't feeling particularly beautiful earned him another kiss. Then another. Until we were both lying on the neutral carpet. Me on my back and Mulder on his side, carefully distributing his weight over me so nothing was touching my abdomen.

"I hope it has your nose, Scully," he said, tracing the curve of my cheek. My lips. My chin."Cause no one should be subjected to this jagged nose."

"I hope it has your eyes," I countered. Those dark, hazel eyes that held on the truth with such conviction and determination. True windows to the soul he didn't think he had.

"I can't wait to see what it looks like," Mulder said, easing his hand between my thighs. I moaned quietly, enjoying the sensation of being touched. Feeling desirable. Knowing I was still desirable to him, despite all the changes to my body.

"You saw what it looks like today," I countered, fingering the buttons on his shirt. His tie was already gone, he'd tossed it off an hour ago.

"And it is a beautiful gray, bulbous shape," he said, with a smile. His fingertips reached the cotton of my underwear and he brushed me gently. Stroking me through the fabric.

Mulder continued to push the hemline of my dress up, until it was gathered around my waist. He kissed my stomach gently, working his way lower. I reached down, clutching his shoulder to get his attention. I shook my head, not wanting him to love me that way. I wanted it to be shared. Now that it was all right.

"Together," I whispered. Just like the night we conceived this child.


***

I knew exactly what she wanted and I looked at her, not wanting her to think she had to please me. I didn't have a chance to ask the Doctor if it was okay, but I assumed she did. There was nothing more I wanted to do than to make love to Scully right now in that huge four poster bed.

I kissed her one more time, before getting up. I set the remaining cartons of Chinese food on the coffee table and turned off the lights. It was dark and it took a second for my eyes to adjust. My hands reached down to Scully, to help her off the floor. She clutched them and stood up. Before she knew it, I swept her up in my arms and carried her to the bedroom. She still weighed next to nothing.

I lowered her onto the bed, over a pile of pillows. She leaned back, propping herself on her elbows while she waited for me. I finished unbuttoning my shirt and threw it off to the side. Next were my shoes.

"Mulder," she said, mischief in her voice."That's my job."

"Sorry," I said, easing beside her. She wrapped her arms around my neck and covered my mouth with hers. Kissing me hard and with fervor. Seems animal crackers weren't the only thing Scully has been craving.

The dress she was wearing buttoned down the front and I worked on them slowly, kissing each part of exposed skin as I ventured down. She'd bought a new bra, one to accommodate her increased breast size. I fingered the lace playfully, tracing the swell of her flesh underneath.

"New?" I inquired.

"Yes," she answered, leaning her body into mine."I bought it the other day."

"Panties match?" I asked hopefully, continuing to undress her. I spied the matching cotton accented with just a little lace on the side and eagerly drew them down.

"Enjoy it, Mulder," Scully warned, turning her head to study me."I'm not going to be shopping at Victoria's Secret for much longer. These are the largest size they carry."

"It's not like you wear them for long," I said, rotating her on her side so I could unhook the bra clasp across her back."I like what's underneath better."

My hands cupped her breast, my thumb brushed over the nipple. Feeling it harden even more at the contact. I wanted her to know she was still beautiful to me. No matter what was happening to her body. She was carrying my child and this was a part of that. Nothing could ever be more erotic to me.

"Mulder," she purred, enjoying the sensation. She clawed at my back, pulling my undershirt up and over my head. Scully pushed me off her and onto my back, where she could kiss my nipples as well. Tracing slow circles with her tongue.

I made a mental note to buy a four poster bed for the new house. Just like this one. To commemorate our time away from each other and a reminder never to take this for granted.

"You're still wearing these?" she asked, sitting up. Scully's fingers worked on my belt, snapping my trousers free. Freeing the hard-on I was sporting underneath my Armani's. Within moments, she had me completely undressed. Snaking her way back up my body with kisses. Her hand settled on my member, rubbing it harder.

"Scully," I warned, as she found that spot on the base. Her thumb pressed into it, teasing me further."I thought we were going to do this together."

She let go, gliding her hand back up my body until she reached the back of my head. Bringing her mouth to mine. But instead of kissing me, she breathed,"From behind."

I exhaled, as she moved away from me. Turning of her side with her back facing me. I'd read somewhere that this was the other position good for sex. Hopefully, more comfortable.

I wrapped my arm around her waist, pulling her to me. My face was pressed against her, chin resting on her shoulder. I couldn't see her face from this position, but I could hear her. Feel her reactions. Scully shifted her hips back, parting her legs so I could enter her. Inviting me in.

"Hmmmm," she said, as I slid inside her. Careful not to push too hard.

"Tell me if it's okay," I whispered.

"It's good," she breathed, clutching the arm around her shoulders. Digging her nails into my skin with pleasure.

I kissed her cheek and began pumping gently, easing in and out of her warm wetness. My heart pounding in my head, feeling my erection growing harder still. It had been weeks since we'd had sex like this. With me inside her. I'd forgotten how powerful it was.

My other hand lowered to the space between her legs, past our child and into her folds. They were warm too, pulsing already with life. I pressed into them, hoping to stimulate her there as well. Timing each stroke.

"Mulder," she whispered, rocking her head to my motions. Her hips slammed back into mine, eagerly awaiting each thrust. Prolonging them.

"I love you, Scully," I said, against her ear."I love you both."

She sighed, making little noises that signal her release. Her body tensed up for a second and then she cried out. I felt the pulsing inside her, throbbing waves of pleasure. I held her tighter, wanting to ride them out with her.

Soon, I felt my own need take over. I moved my hands to her hips, steadying her against me. I thrust harder, but not too far in. Establishing the friction needed for release. I hit a certain spot inside her walls, providing enough contact to send me into orgasm. I groaned into her shoulder, kissing her skin as I came crashing down. I pulled her closer, not withdrawing just yet. We were joined. All three of us.

And we would stay that way. No matter what happened.


***

Part Four

Scully's Apartment
St. Louis, Missouri
8:45 p.m.

There are more than a hundred thousand genes in a human chromosome set, and they all influence each other. Human development is an unbelievably complex process.

I sighed, fingering the large envelope that had been sent Federal Express to me this afternoon. Inside were the results of my amniocentesis. The test is not routinely offered to all pregnant women because it carries a small possibility of infection and some risk of miscarriage. But it was an option for me because I believed there was a increased risk of chromosomal or genetic handicap to my child due to the implant. Prenatal diagnostic is possible for all chromosomal disorders, but not all genetic ones. Particularly rare ones and those for which there are no biochemical or molecular genetic markers. Anything they would have given me would be the latter, but I still wanted the test done.

I could wait for Mulder. He was supposed to be flying in over the weekend, if his schedule permitted. He was just here four days ago, but I missed him more than ever. My mother's prediction was correct, being apart from him altered my perception of Mulder. I turned to him now not as a colleague or partner, but as the father of my baby.

And as the father, the results held within the envelope were equally as important to him. Would he accept our child if it does suffer from some unknown disorder? Love it as unconditionally as I already do?

I sat back on my bed, adjusting the pillows around me to a comfortable sitting position. I took a deep breath, then picked up the phone, dialing his number automatically. I bit my lip as I waited for him to answer.

"Mulder?"

"It's me," I said, smiling at the sound of his voice.

"Hey Scully," Mulder replied, soft and low."I was just thinking about you."

"You were?" I asked, easing back a bit.

"Yes," he said."Thinking about Sunday morning."

Sunday morning. My temperature rose as the memory filled my mind. We had taken a nice, long shower together. The bathroom had a large counter to sit on, perfect for certain activities that had nothing to do with getting clean.

"Mulder," I began, not wanting this to turn into one of those phone conversations."It arrived today."

"Your results," he said, becoming serious. He knew I was expecting them at any time."Have you opened them?"

"No," I answered, turning the envelope over. My fingers brushed underneath the seal."I wanted to open them with you. Are you flying in tomorrow?"


***

Mulder's Apartment
Alexandria, VA
8:50 p.m.

I closed on what I hoped would be our house today. Something that was a surprise for Scully. I only have about five weeks to fix it up before she returns from St. Louis. I had planned on staying here this weekend to get started.

"Mulder?" she asked, after a minute.

"I-uh, might be stuck on assignment," I said, lying through my teeth."I'm trying to track down a couple leads on that...that duende."

"Du-en-de?" Scully asked, annunciating each syllable of the Spanish word.

"Yeah. Came up this week. Didn't I send you the file?" I said, trying to sound sincere. Lately, she'd been forgetting things. I guessed it had something to do with pregnancy, since it required so much of her focus to be on her body and the baby.

"No," she replied, confusion in her voice.

"I'm sorry, Scully. I will in the morning," I said, diverting the conversation back."What about the results?"

"My results," she said, with a small sigh."Do you want me to open them now?"

I sat down on my couch, trying to mentally prepare myself. Anything could be in that packet, but it wasn't fair to Scully to make her wait to find out. She had a right to know if the chip had affected the baby. We both did.

"Yes," I answered, after deliberating."But I want you to know something first. Whatever they say, good or bad, this is our baby, Scully. Yours and mine. That's the important thing. But I do take full responsibility if it turns out colorblind."

She let out a little laugh, yet I could hear her breathing deeply as if trying not to cry. I recognized the heavy sounds of emotion being released from her.

"I love you, Mulder," she said, after she steadied her breathing. The faint sounds of an envelope being ripped made my heart pound loudly.

The next few minutes were like hours. All I could make out was the shuffling of paper and the snapping of film. Scully was absorbing the information inside the envelope, processing it with skill and expertise. I imagined her holding up the chromosome map, 46 agents of history and destiny that equaled the sum of my genes and hers blended together to create a miracle.

"Scully?" I asked, unable to stand the suspense any longer."What does it say?"

She was making faint, guttural sounds that I recognized as sobs. Dear God, she was crying?

"Scully?" I pressed, clutching the phone."What is it? What's wrong?"

"It's a girl," she choked out, followed by a laugh. "We're having a girl!"


***


I wiped the tears from my eyes.

"A daughter?" Mulder breathed, amazement in his tone.

"Yes," I said, looking over the report again to make sure my eyes weren't playing tricks on me.

All embryos try to become female, and when a Y chromosome is present, development detours towards male. The mother has two X chromosomes and can only provide an X to their offspring, while the father can provide and X or a Y and determine fetal sex. Which perhaps explained why Mulder had wanted to know the sex more than I initially did. He was the one responsible for it after all.

"A daughter," he repeated, drawing out the word slowly.

"Is that okay?" I inquired, wondering if he secretly wanted a boy and knowing this was our only chance of ever having a child. "Don't all fathers want boys?"

"I just want one that is healthy," he assured me. "Does everything look okay?"

"No signs of Trisonomy 21, spina bifida, anencephaly or congential adrenal hyperplasia," I recited, reviewing the documentation carefully. My fingers were trembling as I flipped pages forward."No prenatal test can guarantee the birth of a healthy baby. One out of three have some kind of birth defect."

"In English?" Mulder implored."You're scaring me with the scientific jargon."

"This test has an accuracy rating of between 99.4 and 100 percent," I said, taking a deep breath."But she appears to be healthy."

"Yes! This is good news, isn't it?" Mulder exclaimed, wanting me to share his enthusiasm."Scully?"

"It means there aren't any identifiable defects," I replied, not wanting to rule out anything yet. In any other context, those were perfect odds. But I was dealing with a very unique situation and the unknown variable of .6% held more significance.

"Then she is healthy," Mulder said, sounding determined. "Scully, you have to believe it. You can't be skeptical about this."

I laid a hand on my stomach, caressing the swell. My second trimester was almost over and I was feeling better than ever. The last time I remember being this well was before my abduction. Before the tests. Before the implant. Before the virus. Perhaps my body had finally restored itself to its natural state through pregnancy, knowing I needed all my strength to sustain the life inside me.

"I'm sorry," I said, wiping the tears that silently fell down my cheeks."It's just, after Emily...she lived to be nearly four, Mulder. What if it doesn't show up right now?"

"She's not Emily," Mulder reiterated."Don't take this the wrong way, Scully, but Emily was created to be an experiment. They had predetermined her fate before she was even conceived in a test tube somewhere. The little girl you are carrying right now is not a part of that past. She's part of the future. Our future."

I smiled, letting his words chase the fears away. I clutched the phone closer."Mulder, I wish you were here."

****

4867 Carriagepark Rd
Fairfax, VA
10:23 a.m.


"That is not how you paint with a roller," said Frohike, snatching it from Langly's hand. Paint went splattering on the hardwood floor.

"What do you mean?" Langly protested, wiping a bead of sweat from his brow. His stringy blonde hair was pulled back into a ponytail. "You take the roller and you go up and down."

"No, you don't, Hippie," Frohike chided, loading the roller up with paint from the tray."You make an N-shape. See? It causes more even distribution and a nicer finish. Are you watching this, twerp?"

"Yeah, I'm watching you."

"Now, you try it," Frohike said, shoving it back at Langly.

"Let's see," Langly said, rolling it again in the paint."You go back and forth in an N-shape like this..."

He drew an N down the front of Frohike's overalls and back up across his glasses.

"Better?" Langly smarted.

"I'll show you better," Frohike said, yanking his glasses off. He grabbed the other roller and proceeded to smear it over Langly in similar fashion. I clenched my teeth and shook my head.

These clowns are never ever babysitting.

"Boys!" I yelled, from my perch on the stairs where I was staining the banister."Do you mind? Paint goes on the freaking wall and not the floor."

They stopped wrestling with each other and stared up at me like I just caught them under the covers with a Playboy and a flashlight.

"Sorry," they muttered collectively.

"But everything should be perfect for Agent Scully," Frohike added a moment later. He glared at Langly."Let's do it right this time."

At least the new carpet arrives Tuesday and would cover up the mess. As much as I hated not flying down to St. Louis this weekend, I had to work on the house. I took today off to get a head start on it. The guys volunteered to help-if you can call it help-this weekend.

*Chime-crackle-ding*

We all looked at each other.

*Chime-crackle-ding*

"What the hell is that?" asked Langly, trying to locate the source of the strange static melody. Without warning, Byers came bounding down the stairs, nearly tripping over me.

"Don't touch the banister!" I shouted, holding my hands out to protect my work.

"The doorbell!" Byers said proudly."I must have fixed it."

"I thought you were working on the ceiling fan?" Frohike said, as Byers walked to the front foyer and reached for the doorknob."You must have got your wires crossed."

"Wouldn't be the first time," Langly sneered.

"Mulder-Scully residence," Byers said politely, ignoring them and opening the front door."Whom may I say is calling?"

I looked down and saw Margaret Scully standing in the foyer. I wiped my hands clean and descended the staircase to meet her.

"Hi Mrs. Scully," I said, as Byers ushered her in. "I'm glad you could stop by."

"Margaret," she corrected. She eyed the mess Langly and Frohike made and smiled disapprovingly."I see you have your hands full."

"They work for cheap," I said, guiding her past the guys and into the kitchen. It was the first room they painted this morning and it actually looked good."I hoped to have it fixed up a bit more before you came by."

"This is a lovely house," she said, smiling over at me. She and Scully had the same smile and it has the same affect on me."I'm sure Dana will love it."

"I hope so," I replied, as she studied the paint swatches and fabric samples on the counter. Byers picked them out, carefully color coordinating each room. I would have just painted everything white."I'd be happy to give you the grand tour."

"You...haven't told her about the house, have you?" Margaret said, gazing up at me.

I wanted to tell Scully about the house. When it was ready. I just didn't want to pressure her into anything. She had already told me she wasn't going to live with me unless we got married. We hadn't come to an agreement about that just yet. She wanted a church wedding. Something I just couldn't do because my previous marriage would have to be annulled and I knew that wasn't going to happen. Diana would never agree to such a thing. It was hard enough getting the divorce finalized all those years ago.

"No," I said, moving over to the sink. I scooped a handful of Goop onto my hands and worked some of the wood stain off."I wanted to surprise her when she gets back from St. Louis."

Margaret Scully took a deep breath."Actually, Fox. That's one of the reasons I came over here to see you. I have a wedding idea that Dana might go along with."

"I'd love to hear it," I said, wiping my hands dry. "Cause everything I've suggested she's shot down."

"This one she might like," she said, setting her purse down on the counter."And by the way, congratulations." Margaret wrapped one arm around me."A girl."

"Thanks," I said, looking down at her."Another Scully woman who'll wrap me around her finger."


***

Truman Federal Building
St. Louis, Missouri
11:58 a.m.

"Ready to go?" Agent Catherine Schaffer asked, poking her head in my office.

"Just a minute," I said, easing out of my chair. I reached beneath my desk for my walking shoes. I slid out of my flats and wiggled into my Reebok."You know, tying shoes is getting increasingly more difficult."

"And it gets worse," she said, smiling at me."Soon you'll forget what your feet look like."

Catherine and I had developed a daily lunch ritual of walking around the riverfront for a half-hour. My doctor had approved walking as an exercise for me, just as long as I didn't overdo it. I'd forgotten what it was like to have a friend at work. Besides Mulder, I was never around long enough to develop any kind of working relationships. And there were so few people I trusted.

"Let's go," I said, setting both feet soundly on the floor. Catherine grabbed my outstretched hands and pulled me up.

"The vending man stocked the animal crackers today," she said, holding the door open for me."He's put in an extra selection just for you."

"I'll have to check it out when we get back," I replied. I peered out the window, seeing the sun glistening off the Arch. It was a warm, fall day in St. Louis. Perfect for walking.

We headed out the door and towards the Arch grounds, starting out slow but gradually picking up the pace. Catherine fell into step beside me. I had already phoned my mother last night and Bill and Charlie this morning. I just couldn't contain my joy in knowing. Wouldn't be any harm in telling Catherine, just as long as she kept it between us. She'd been a good friend to me during my stay in St. Louis, offering whatever help she could helping me adjust to my new position.

"I found out the sex," I said suddenly, glancing over at her.

"You did?" she asked, excited. Catherine stopped walking and touched my arm briefly."Can I ask what it is? Or are you not telling people?"

"I don't want it spread around," I said, still feeling a little awkward at confiding the information."But it's a girl."

"A girl? All right!!" she exclaimed.

"Yes," I said, rubbing my stomach.

"Are you excited? I know we all say we don't care what it is as long as it's healthy, but I think every woman wants a girl," she said, with a huge smile.

It was what I'd always wanted. A little girl. My mother and I had always been so close over the years, that I wanted to have a similar relationship with a daughter of my own.

"It's my only chance to have a girl," I said, more to myself than to her.

"Were you trying for a long time?" she asked carefully. "I don't mean to pry, but Donald and I tried for almost two years before I got preggers with Christie. I just meant, I understand if you had to go through in vitro because I tried it."

"Actually, I didn't," I began, as we passed the Old Cathedral."I thought I was infertile."

"Oh," she said, looking ahead to the river. Her long, brown curls flew into her face and she swept them away. I had not told anyone anything about this pregnancy and there was plenty of speculation about my circumstance."Must have been quite a surprise for you. I'm sorry, that's personal and I shouldn't have asked."

"It's okay," I said, hoping to reassure her. Catherine was awkwardly silent for the next few minutes, walking ahead briskly. Something in her mood had shifted, something I couldn't quite place. Should I have told her?

"Dana," she began slowly."I've been debating all day whether or not to tell you this, but there's a rumor going around the office. Now, I know your private life is nobody's business, but I thought you'd want to know what people have been saying."

"What?" I asked, stopping momentarily. She stopped too, staring back at me from behind her dark sunglasses."What are they saying about me?"

"I think it came down from DC," she continued."But they're saying you're here because your partner is the baby's father. Your whole stint here is some kind of cover up."

"Oh," I said, unsure of what to say next. I headed for a park bench and sat down. Damn it. I knew it was just a matter of time before someone asked around.

"It's true, isn't it?" she surmised, watching my reaction. She sounded less like a friend and more like a highly trained FBI investigator. I tucked an errand strand of hair behind my ear, avoiding her question for as long as I could."Fox Mulder, he's the father."

"I really didn't want that to get out," I said, sighing loudly. I couldn't really deny it. I fingered my engagement ring nervously. "I suppose it makes for good gossip."

"He has," she said, choosing her words carefully, "a reputation in the Bureau."

"Spooky Mulder," I nodded, remembering the nickname that followed us around for years.

"Your work on the X-files is no secret either," Catherine said, taking the sharper, interrogative tone out of her voice."You were abducted and mysteriously returned a few years ago during an investigation."

"That's all in my personnel file," I answered, resigned to my past being an open book of sorts."Everyone in DC knows about that."

"Are you ever afraid it might happen again?" she asked, looking at me. Her eyes lowered to my abdomen, then back up. Watching my reaction carefully."I just mean, if it was me, I'd be scared to death of it happening again. I used to be so fearless in my job. Now, I'm grateful every night I come home to Christie and Jordan in one piece."

A stiff, cool wind blew across us from off the water. I stood up slowly, avoiding her intuitive gaze. I worried about that every day. But I had a greater fear that if I was abducted again now, only one of us would come back. This baby was almost mature enough to survive outside the womb. Just a few more weeks and her lungs would finish developing. She must have sensed my fears, because just then I felt her move. Jabbing me sharply in the side to let me know she was very much alive and kicking. I rubbed the spot and forced the thoughts away.

"I think we better head back," I said, looking towards the Truman building. Animal crackers were waiting for me.


***

J. Edgar Hoover Building
4:00 p.m.

I stopped by the office to get my messages and make sure nothing had come up during the day that required immediate attention. There were a few e-mails here and there and forensic work that I could ship off to Scully. I tried to keep her informed of what I was working on, but I certainly didn't want to increase her work load too much. Apparently, she had a full schedule in St. Louis already. I did not want to add any stress.

I should be doing more to prepare for our daughter's arrival. But with Scully 900 miles away, I felt pretty useless. She was going through this pregnancy alone. As the father, I was unsure of what my role should be right now. Mothers have nine months to bond with the baby and they experience parenting right away. I suppose the house was my way of"nesting." I never even bothered to buy a house with Diana. Seemed pointless since she always made it clear it would be just the two of us.

I locked my desk drawer and turned off my computer. I left the Gunmen at the house to finish up the painting. After this morning's escapades, I decided I better head back as soon as possible. Before they had a chance to install secret cameras in our bedroom to tape any late night activities Scully and I might engage in.

"Agent Mulder?"

I looked up to find Skinner standing in the threshold.

"Sir?" I asked, surprised to find him standing there.

"I know you were taking today off, but there is a situation that has arose," he began, shutting the door behind him. Skinner put his hands on his hips and walked towards me."I was wondering if you'd be willing to take an assignment this weekend since I'm assuming you're not flying out to St. Louis."

"No, I'm not," I confirmed. Shit. There goes any plans for me to play Bob Villa."What situation?"

"It has to do with Paula Finley," he said, through gritted teeth."She keeps asking for you."

"Marita," I whispered, saying a name I thought I wouldn't speak again. Spender had rescued her from the quarantine facility at Fort Marlene, just before he was killed. She was taken into a witness protection program and her identity erased. All I knew was her new name was Paula Finley and she'd been relocated out West somewhere.

"She's experiencing some kind of paranoia," Skinner continued."Her doctors aren't sure what else to do for her. Her body has been cleared of that virus for months and reports indicated she was living a relatively normal life under her assumed identity. Until now."

I never knew what side Marita was really on, perhaps she had been working both in an effort to survive. But the experiments they conducted on her showed the Syndicate did not appreciate her switching allegiances. She was lucky to be alive. I always wondered if they would have conducted the same experiments on Scully if they had kept her a longer.

"With all due respects, Sir," I said, standing up. "I would like to request you assign another agent to this case. Given my past affiliation with her, I would not want to compromise her in any way by investigating this case."

Skinner exhaled, shaking his head slightly."I don't think you'll say that when you know all the facts, Agent Mulder."

Damn it. Skinner was good at dangling the information worm just enough to get me to bite. I wanted to stay as far away from the situation as possible. After visits from Krycek and Diana, I didn't want to get even remotely involved with the Syndicate now. Scully and my daughter came first. Unless it had some kind of direct impact on them, I wanted someone else to investigate this. I have obligations as a father.

"It would be in my best interest not to. Given the circumstances," I said firmly. My decision had been made.

"Even when I tell you she's pregnant?" Skinner added, looking at me.

The word hung in the air, it's implication resounding in my head over and over.


***

Scully's Apartment
St. Louis, Missouri
7:25 p.m.

I shuffled down my hallway to my apartment, weighed down by the grocery bags I was carrying. As I approached it, I noticed a bright blue piece of paper wedged between the door and threshold. I pulled it out and unfolded it.

"Just a note to let you know maintenance was in your apartment to change the air filter," I read, staring at the door. I dropped my bags and walked back down the hall, checking the other doors. I sighed in relief when I saw other notes shoved haphazardly in similar places. Routine maintenance, that's all.

I returned to my apartment and opened the door, pulling the bags in with me. I dumped them on the counter and closed the door, hitting the playback button on my answering machine so I could listen as I stocked the refrigerator.

"Beep. Hi Dana, this is Mom. I found a catalogue with baby furniture I want to send you. Pick out anything you want, it'll be my gift to my granddaughter. Call me. Beep."

I shook my head and opened the freezer, throwing in packets of vegetables and fries. Between Mulder, my mother and me, we should own the phone company by now.

"Beep. This is Dr. Stephens' office. We were following up to see if you received the results of your amniocentesis yesterday. Dr. Stephens wanted to know if you have any questions or would like to go over them. Please give us a call at your earliest convenience. Beep."

I should discuss the results with Dr. Stephens, as well as forwarding a copy to my doctors back in DC. I reached inside the last bag for the one thing I really wanted to buy today. A baby book. A journal to record my thoughts and feelings. Until now, I had held off on starting one. I'd been logging my thoughts and fears into my own journal, but now it was time to start one for the baby. One that concentrated on my other feelings. Joy. Hope. Love.

"Beep. Hey Scully, it's me. Can you give me a call as soon as you get in. Thanks. Beep."

I stared at the machine. Something in his voice didn't sound right. I walked over and replayed it again, trying to decipher any hidden meanings. But it was vague. Designed to get me to call him back.

I reached for the phone and dialed his number, opening the baby book to the first page. On it, was a space to fill in the mother's name and the father's name. All on one line. I imagined writing Fox and Dana Mulder, then frowned at how odd that sounded. Some names were just meant to go together, ours unfortunately were not. I guess I'd be keeping the Scully.

"Mulder?"

"It's me," I said, sitting on a kitchen stood to take the weight off my feet. I leaned on the counter, flipping the pages slowly. All topics were covered. I smiled at the page for Father's Hobbies. Mulder could put 976 numbers, chasing aliens, government conspiracies, fluke men, and baseball. At least one would sound normal.

"Hey Scully," he said, almost breathless. It sounded like he was rushing around.

"What are you doing?" I asked.

"Packing," he replied.

My heart skipped a beat."Are you coming after all?"

There was a pause, followed by an exhale.


***

Mulder's Apartment
Alexandria, VA
7:35 p.m.

She sounded so hopeful. And I wished my reservations were for St. Louis.

"I have to fly out to Oregon," I said, throwing another stack of white shirts in my suitcase."Assignment."

"Oh," she said, disappointment permeating that one word. It all but broke my heart."Is this about that duende case?"

"No," I replied, unsure of what to tell her. It concerned her, whatever had happened to Marita. But I didn't want to tell her anything until I had all the facts. It seemed Scully wasn't the only one with an unexpected pregnancy."Has something to do with the witness protection program. I don't have all the details right now, but I'll know more soon."

Please Scully, don't press me any further.

"Do you think you can book a stop over on your way back?" she asked, after a second.

I quit packing and sat down on my bed, wanting to focus on Scully's voice. Her rich, husky voice like scotch and water with an equally calming effect.

"I'm not sure when I'm flying back, but I'll make sure to request a stop over at Lambert," I replied, imagining Scully and I in a romantic two hour tryst in an airport.

"Good," she replied, hopefully having the same thoughts I was."By the way, if you had to list your hobbies, what would they be?"

"What?" I asked, completely thrown by her question.

"I'm filling out a baby book this weekend," she answered, changing the subject. Thank God."It's making me answer questions I haven't really thought about."

"And speaking of," I began, falling back on the bed. I stared my mirrored imaged looking back at me."I might have an answer to that question we've both been avoiding."

"Lamaze or Bradley?" she quipped, citing two childbirth education philosophies.

"No, the one that starts out 'will you marry me, Scully'," I said."I have another option."

"Okay," she replied, pausing to let me continue.

"I won't do a church wedding and you won't do a state wedding," I said, reciting Margaret's suggestion verbatim."But a Naval Captain can perform marriage ceremonies while at sea in international waters."

"A Naval wedding," she repeated, sounding as skeptical as I was."Someone from very high up would have to give permission to be on the ship. That has to come from a congressman, state representative or a flag officer."

"Another way would be a dependents cruise. When ships are on their way to a new home port, or to the yards for rework when civilians are allowed to go along with their family members who are assigned to the ship," I continued, unsure of the next part."Your brother Bill is in active duty."

Scully laughed to herself. That all knowing, smart laugh."Have you been talking to my mom?"

"Yes," I repeated, wondering how she figured it out. Damn, she was good.

"Because that's the only way Bill would go along with this, if she makes him," Scully answered, her laugher subsiding."You know how he feels about this."

Good old Billy-boy loved the fact Scully was pregnant, but hated the fact that it was by me.

"Well, think about it," I said, imagining a pregnant Scully standing on the deck of a ship out in the sun. Is a maternity wedding dress a contradiction in terms?"It was just a suggestion."

"I'll consider it," she replied in all seriousness. "I will."

"Good," I said. Concentrating on our future was what I needed to do right now. To keep whatever happened to Marita in perspective. "Scully?"

"Yes?" she answered.

"I can't wait for my stop over," I said, wanting her to know how much I missed her.

"Neither can I," she replied.

****

Part Five

Oregon State Hospital
Portland, Oregon
11:30 a.m.


"Excuse me?" I asked the nurse on duty."I'm here to see a patient."

"Prior arrangements for visitation are necessary for scheduling and security reasons," she answered, glaring at me."Have you talked to the patient's social worker?"

I nodded, growing ever impatient. I was dying to whip out my badge and cut through the bullshit, but I had left it in the car. Besides, I couldn't make a scene.

"Anne Tucker arranged my meeting," I said, throwing the name out of the woman I'd spoken with earlier. This was a mental facility that accommodated patients with intermediate and long-term lengths of stay. I had no idea which program Marita was admitted to. Or Paula Finley, as she was known now.

"Just a moment, sir," the nurse replied, standing up and pointing to the alcove off to the side."Why don't you have a seat and I'll get her."

"Thank you ever so much," I said, with a sarcastic grin."You've been so helpful."

She turned away and disappeared into the back. I wandered to the area she indicated and sat down on the vinyl chair. It was a nice facility, but it was a state facility. I suspected this was the only treatment she was able to afford or was covered under her insurance, if she had insurance.

I resisted the urge to call Scully. I'd decided not to tell her about this until I had some answers. The last thing I wanted her to think was that I was getting involved with the Syndicate by coming here. If anything, my visit has probably put Marita at risk of being exposed.

"Excuse me?" asked a voice."You're here to see Paula?"

"Yes?" I replied, turning around to face a tall woman with sandy brown hair and glasses.

"I'm Anne Tucker, Paula's social worker," she said, outstretching her hand."I'm glad you were able to come. It's been hard since Paula doesn't have any other family to visit her."

I nodded, trying to play along. What did Marita tell her? Sounded like I was family. I'll be Mickey Mouse if that's what it takes to get me in to see her.

"How long has she been here?" I asked, as we walked down the narrow corridor.

"About two weeks," she replied, glancing at me occasionally. "Her OB/GYN referred her in. Normally, we can treat depression and anxiety with drug therapy. But since she's pregnant, we can't give her anything above Class B."

"She's needs a higher dosage," I surmised, wishing Scully was here to ask the right medical questions. What did Class B mean?

"Yes," she answered."I'm hoping perhaps you can shed some light on the situation. I think she's suffering from repression."

Oh yes, I knew from my personal experience of the black oil virus that it was a nasty memory best forgotten. I guessed it was the testing she had been subjected to that was the source of her anxiety. Scully has already had her share of anxiety with our child, thanks to the implant.

"Before we go in, I need to verify that you are not carrying any kind of weapons or objects. For the safety of our patients," Anne Tucker said, turning to me. She stopped in front of room 134.

I had left my gun in the car, along with anything else that identified me as a FBI agent. I held my hands up and winked at her."I'm completely unarmed. Care to frisk me?"

She blushed at my suggestive tone and I succeeded in unnerving her."No, that's all right."

Anne Tucker put her hand on the doorknob and stepped inside, just far enough to permit me from entering. I looked over her head and into the room."Paula? There's someone here to see you."

The figure sitting on the bed turned around.

If I didn't know it was Marita Covarrubias, I would not have recognized her. Her once platinum hair was cut short and dyed brown. Her complexion, which was nearly translucent before, had taken on the healthy glow of pregnancy hormones, the same ones that made Scully so beautiful right now. But it was her weight that was the most drastic change of all. Her stomach was round and full, as were her hips and breasts. She must have gained about fifty pounds, which looked good on her since she was nearly a skeleton the last time I'd seen her.

She stood up slowly, counterbalancing her weight as she pushed herself up. She was much farther along than Scully. Marita walked over to us, but kept her eyes focused on me. Anne Tucker pushed the door open and I stepped inside to meet her.

"I'm so glad you came," she said, looking up at me. Even her eyes had returned to their normal shade of bluish-hazel. She turned to the social worker."Can we have some time alone?"

Anne glared at Marita, and then back at me, as if trying to decide whether or not it was a good idea."If you need anything, don't hesitate to buzz the nurses station. I'll check back in about 15 minutes to see how you're doing."

"Thanks, Anne," Marita said, as she exited the room.

"I'll be right outside, Paula," she assured her, as she shut the door. Finally leaving Marita and I alone together.


****

Truman Federal Building
St. Louis, Missouri
11:45 a.m.

I squeezed my inner muscles, then released them as I waited for Dr. Thomas Albus to finish his lecture. The lower torso of a body had been discovered on the banks of the Missouri River over the weekend. Local police suspected it belonged to a schoolteacher who was missing since July. The other half of the body was either washed into the river or buried somewhere else. Monday mornings in St. Louis were never dull.

The subject of the pelvis reminded me I should be doing my Kegels, to strengthen the area of the perineum before childbirth. The idea of avoiding an episiotomy was looking better as my due date approached. I clenched the muscles again, then relaxed. I wondered if Mulder would notice a difference, since Kegels were also supposed to enhance sex. That is, if he wanted to make love to me like this. I must have grown four inches overnight, even my scrubs were snug this morning. I was going to look around later to see if they had an XL size around that I could wear. I rubbed the swell of my stomach happily. My figure was a small price to pay for motherhood.

"Females generally have wider and greater sciatic notches," said Dr. Albus, pointing to the area with a pencil. The forensic students peered in at the remains laid out on a long table."Care to elaborate, Dr. Scully?"

"Yes," I said, snapping out of my thoughts. Eager to concentrate on someone else's pelvis besides my own. I pulled my pencil out of my pocket and also used it as a pointer."Adult females have moderate to deep sulci while males have little or no indentations in this area. The auricular surfaces in males are generally flat, while females exhibit moderate to pronounced elevation."

"So we can correctly identify the remains as female?" asked Kelley Farrell, a second-year student."Based on the pelvis."

"Yes," Dr. Albus said, moving the focus to another set of bones."But it can also be verified by the femur since there is an obvious sexual dimorphism. The intercondylar notch is broader and wider in females."

"Dr. Scully?" asked a voice.

I raised my head, trying to figure out exactly who spoke my name. The group stared back at me, equally as puzzled.

"Dr. Scully?" it asked again, and all eyes in the room turned back to the door.

Agent Catherine Schaffer was standing in the threshold, holding the door open and leaning in."There's a phone call for you. It's urgent."

I removed my goggles and looked at Dr. Albus."I'm sorry, but I need to take that."

"Go ahead," he encouraged."We'll save the lecture on epiphyseal fusion of the humerus when you get back."

"Thanks," I said, walking towards Catherine. She held the door open for me as I wedged my body past her.

"Who is it?" I asked, once we were alone in the hallway. I rubbed my lower back as I waited for her answer. It had better be Mulder. He hadn't called me since Saturday night.

"It's A.D. Skinner," she said, folding her arms and facing me.

Shit. Then it must be something to do with Mulder. Allegedly, he was out on assignment in Oregon. But it just wasn't like him not to call me. Throughout my entire pregnancy, Mulder had constantly called to check up on me. All hours of the day. All hours of the night.

"Did he say why?" I asked, as we walked briskly down the hall back to my office.

"No," she replied, glancing over at me."But I'm guessing it's about Agent Mulder."

The rumors that Mulder was the father of my baby was a hot topic of gossip around the Truman building last week, but only Catherine had had the nerve to come out and ask me directly if it was true. So far, she had kept the confirmation secret.

Catherine held my office door open for me as I walked inside. I saw the line flashing on my phone, signaling a call was on hold.

"I'm next door if you need anything," she said, shutting it behind her to give me privacy.

I took a deep breath in preparation, then hit the flashing line. "This is Agent Scully."


****

Oregon State Hospital
Portland, Oregon
11:45 a.m.

"There is something wrong with the baby," Marita said, as we sat opposite one another across a small table. She was fidgeting nervously, scraping the pale pink polish off her thumbnail. An obvious sign of anxiety.

"What does your doctor say?" I asked, speaking calmly. I had a lot of practice already with Scully since she worried constantly about the same thing.

"He says everything is fine," she replied, looking up at me.

"He checked you in here so you would be," I answered. Her hands continued to work, switching to the other thumbnail and resuming the scraping. Flecks of the polish were covering the table.

"He doesn't know everything," she said, voice trembling with fear."It's not like I could give him my medical history. I'm not even sure what all has been done to me."

"Do you know who the father is?" I asked, laying a hand over hers to stop them from fidgeting. I needed to focus on specific details if I was going to get to the bottom of this. How this happened was a start.

"I don't even know if I'm the mother," she said, as tears brimmed in her eyes.

"Then you didn't have...I mean, you weren't," I began, trying to get some clarification.

"No. I wasn't sleeping around," she said, defensively. She jerked her hands away from mine and laid them on her stomach."I wasn't in any condition for that. My body was so weak from the experiment that I could barely stand. You saw me, you know that."

I have a hard time remembering the woman sitting across from me used to be a Special Representative of the Secretary General to the United Nations. Gone were the cool and calculating mannerisms I had come to associate with Marita Covarrubias. She was merely a shadow of her former self and just believable enough to keep me sitting here.

"How did this happen, Paula?" I asked, using her assigned name just in case anyone was listening. No one would believe her story if they were; they would think it was the ramblings of a mentally unstable woman. Alien invasions, secret syndicates, experiments.

"It must have been the last thing they did to me before the evacuation," she said."I didn't even know I was pregnant until I was nearly five months along. I was so used to being sick all the time that I thought it was just the side effects of the black oil vaccine."

"You received the vaccine," I repeated, staring over at her.

She nodded, running a hand through her hair nervously."The vaccine developed by the Russians which the Consortium got from Krycek. They tested it out on me."

Krycek. It figured. I wondered if the whole pregnancy was his idea, since he took such an interest in Scully's. Yet, I couldn't figure out the purpose of impregnating Marita. The last time I'd seen her, she was so weak. Why subject her to the demands of pregnancy? A healthy baby starts with a healthy mother. Was it all orchestrated as part of the vaccine tests? Or was there another purpose behind it? Why did they leave her behind during the evacuation? She could have terminated the pregnancy, if she felt her life or health was really at risk. But she did not, which lead me to believe there was more to it than what she was letting on.

"When is your due date?" I asked. It couldn't be more than a month away, judging from her size.

"November 6th," she said, shaking her head back and forth. She reached for a Kleenex to wipe her nose."I don't know if she's going to make it."

"She?" I asked, taken aback by her comment."You know it's a girl?"

"That's what the ultrasound said," Marita replied. "But they can never be 100% certain on girls."

She could have had an amniocentesis done like Scully did. It would have eliminated some of the anxiety she'd been having. Her insurance probably wouldn't pay for the procedure unless there was just cause for it.

"The baby should be developed enough to survive if you go into labor now," I said, using my limited knowledge of prenatal growth. "Except the lungs might. . ."

"She's not mine," she said, caressing her stomach. "I want to bond with this child, but I can't. I feel nothing at all towards her. She was manufactured and made by them."

It was then I realized what the problem was. Marita was in a state of denial about the baby. It may coexist with her, but the baby was viewed as foreign and separate.

"Then what are you going to do?" I asked, narrowing my eyes at her. I was concerned for the child's welfare."Are you giving it up for adoption?"

"I won't have to. I'm merely a vessel," she said, as tears fell down her cheeks."And when the time is right, they'll come for her."


****


Truman Federal Building
St. Louis, Missouri
11:55 a.m.

"Agent Scully," Skinner said, voice clipped and short. "I was wondering if you've heard from Agent Mulder today."

"I was just about to ask you the same question," I replied, putting my hand on my back and stretching.

"I've been trying all morning. Since you are the only other family Mulder has, I felt I should notify you," he continued.

My anger and frustration instantly changed to concern. Was Mulder missing again?"Know what, sir?"

"His mother suffered a heart attack this morning. The doctors have stabilized her, but she'll still in critical condition. They need to get in contact with Mulder since there are decisions he might need to make on his mother's behalf," he finished.

I sat down on the edge of my desk. I knew his mother wasn't in the best of health ever since the stroke she'd had about three years ago, despite her relatively quick recovery.

"What's the prognosis?" I asked clinically, adopting a professional demeanor.

"I can forward the information for the hospital and her cardiologist to you," Skinner said, avoiding the question."And the addresses if you need to make any travel arrangements. Do you need me to talk with your supervisor?"

"That won't be necessary," I assured him. That was one of the reasons I went to St. Louis in the first place, a flexible schedule. I knew I could leave for Greenwich this afternoon. But before I did that, I wanted to talk to Mulder. This was his mother and he should be there."What assignment did you put him on out in Oregon, sir?"

Skinner cleared his throat."He's there as a favor to me. I asked him to investigate the suicide of a soldier I served with in Vietnam. It's not an official investigation, which is why I asked him not to contact you."

"And he hasn't checked in?" I asked, glancing at the clock. It was almost noon. I wasn't sure whether or not to believe him. Mulder could really be off chasing Krycek for all I knew.

"No," Skinner replied."I'm going to call the field office out there and see if they've heard from him. I will notify you as soon as I know something."

"Thank you," I said curtly."Please forward that information to me."

"I will," he said. I started to lower the receiver when he called out,"Agent Scully?"

"Yes?" I asked, bringing it back up to my ear.

"How are you doing?" he inquired, awkwardly."I mean, you and the...the.."

"We're fine," I answered, modifying my standard response of 'I'm fine' to include the baby.

"Good," Skinner said, pausing. I waited for him to continue, but he did not. Instead, I found myself listening to a dial tone.

I dropped the phone back into the receiver and pressed my fingertips on the bridge of my nose. Closing my eyes tightly. One of us had to get to Greenwich. And if Mulder was incommunicado, then I had to go. I know he was there for my mother on numerous occasions during my abduction and my cancer. If his mother was dying, then she had a right to see her grandchild. Or at least, feel her moving.

I had to made arrangements fast. The second trimester is the best time to travel and I didn't foresee any problems with making the journey. I was going to call my doctor just to get a physician's approval. Most airlines require it after 34 weeks, but I wasn't that far along yet. It shouldn't be an issue.

Mulder. He's the issue.


****

Oregon State Hospital
Portland, Oregon
12:10 p.m.


"No one has contacted you?" I asked, as we walked slowly around the courtyard just outside the facility. Anne Tucker was watching us from the window."Not even Krycek?"

She shot a glance at me when I spoke his name. Marita opened her mouth to say something, but her lower lip trembled and she pressed them together.

"Have you been contacted?" she whispered nervously.

"No," I lied. I wasn't about to tell her about his little visit months ago concerning Scully's pregnancy. The events were unrelated; all this happened to Marita back in February.

"I keep expecting him to show up," she said, folding her arms around her and walking on ahead of me."If Spender hadn't gotten me out, I don't know what would have happened."

"Spender is dead," I said. She stopped and turned around. The wind blew her dark bangs in her eyes."Everyone in the Consortium is dead. There are no more experiments or secret conspiracies. It's over."

Marita squinted against the sun, shielding her eyes from the bright rays. Listening intently for me to continue.

"I don't know why you called me out here and I'm not sure what game you're playing," I continued, keeping my voice calm and steady so not to arouse suspicion."That child you are carrying deserves a mother who is willing to love it and care for it. Maybe it wasn't your choice to have this baby, 'Paula,' but you do have a choice now. If you can't raise her, you need give her up for adoption."

"It's not that simple," she replied, moving into the shade."And I called you out here because I thought you understood. Once you are part of the experiment, they will never leave you alone. Your life is not yours to live. If they wanted me dead, they would have killed me long ago. They have plans for me, for this child. I can try to live a normal life here in Portland, but I know that is the one thing I can never have. Not now. And neither can you."

There was no reasoning with her and I didn't know what else to do. That child's welfare was in danger one way or the other. Perhaps it had been conceived as part of the Syndicate's 'plans,' but there was no Syndicate anymore. Marita paid dearly for the price of her betrayal, but her child had done nothing to deserve this.

I took a few steps backwards, moving in the opposite direction from her. It was a mistake coming out here, I knew that now. All I could do was present my findings to Skinner in my field report. Marita was under supervision in a state medical facility. When she had the baby, it would be in a controlled environment. I could put in my recommendation that she was unfit to care for the child, but I guessed her OB/GYN already knew that. She stared at me as I continued to move away.

Human life was expendable to them. Evidenced by my sister's abduction, Cassandra Spender, Scully's daughter Emily, the MUFON women, the cloning and all the other experiments conducted over the last fifty years of the project. If Marita's predictions were correct, then this whole pregnancy was just another example of their callous disregard for human life. A baby should be conceived out of love, not because it fits into some master plan orchestrated by men who sit in the shadows playing God.

My child will never be a part of that world.


****

Lambert International Airport
Bridgeton, Missouri
3:15 p.m.

I glanced down at my watch. My flight would be leaving shortly. In just a few hours I'd managed to rearrange my schedule, run home and pack, leave more messages for Mulder and convince Catherine to drive me to the airport.

Teena Mulder had suffered a myocardial infarction, commonly known as a heart attack. Hers was caused by a blood clot forming in a coronary artery. I was able to speak with her cardiologist earlier. He had tried to perform balloon angioplasty on her blocked artery, but the procedure failed to open it. He then resorted to emergency coronary artery bypass graft using the saphenous veins in her legs. The graft was sewn from the aorta to the coronary artery below the site of blockage. She was in stable condition now, but had not regained consciousness yet. Due to her previous stroke, there was additional cause for concern.

I stared out at the sea of faces before me. Of the hundreds of airports I'd been in over the last six years, I never even noticed how many pregnant travelers there were. Now, I constantly looked at the abdomens of women who passed by, just to check and see if they were carrying a child as well. I exchanged knowing glances at those who were, understanding how the simple business of traveling took on a whole new meaning.

This was going to be the first time I would be seeing Teena Mulder since I found out I was pregnant. Mulder rarely mentioned her, so I was unsure how she was taking the news she would be a grandmother soon. My mother couldn't wait; but my mom already had grandchildren. This would be Teena Mulder's first. Perhaps her only. The woman that Cigarette Smoking Bastard introduced as Samantha said she had children. If it was true, then it meant Mulder had nieces or nephews out there and my baby had cousins. Somewhere.

Skinner was right earlier when he said we are all the family Mulder has. I cupped the swell of our daughter and smiled down. The mere thought made me emotional. He had given up so much by sending me to St. Louis just so we'd be safe.

I picked my purse up off the floor and dug around inside for my cell phone to called him one more time before the flight took off. My hopes of reaching him began to sink at every passing ring and I was automatically forward to the exchange.

"Mulder, it's me. I'm just about to fly out to Hartford, Delta flight number 424. I will be going straight to the hospital from the airport. If you get this or any of my previous messages, please call me immediately," I said, clutching the phone closer. Then I added,"I love you."

I closed the phone and held it against my chest. Mulder, where the hell are you? Your family needs you.

"Flight 424 to Hartford, Connecticut is now boarding at Gate 32. At this time, we would like to start pre-boarding any passengers requiring special attention or assistance. Pregnant women or mothers with young children also have the opportunity to pre-board at this time," the woman at the counter said.

I stood up slowly, gathering my things. Pregnant women. That included me.


****


Quality Inn
Portland, Oregon
1:45 p.m.

I fumbled with the swipe key to my room, anxious to get on the next available flight to St. Louis.

I wasn't able to get any additional information from the hospital regarding Paula Finley. The witness protection unit could request them for evaluation. Based on my report, perhaps something could be done to make sure her baby was properly cared for. In her current medical condition, she was certainly unfit to be a mother.

I couldn't wait to call Scully. I was hoping she didn't suspect something was wrong because I hadn't called since Saturday. Skinner had even provide me with a cover story of investigating the suicide of a Vietnam vet he served with. I was torn between telling her about Marita or just letting it go. After all, I wouldn't be coming out here again and the matter was closed.

Once inside my room, I shut the door and reached for my cell phone. I had left it recharging on the nightstand. I picked it up out of unit and checked my messages. There were six.

"Agent Mulder, you need to call me right away concerning a personal matter."

Skinner? Personal matter? Couldn't be something wrong with Scully, could it?

"Agent Mulder, this is Skinner. I know you are out on that 'special' assignment, but it is imperative that you call me as soon as you can. There's been a medical emergency."

My heart began to pound in my chest. Scully...the baby. No, it can't be. I groped for the hotel phone with my free hand, frantically dialing Scully's cell phone.

"Mulder, it's me. I just got a call from Skinner. Your mother had a heart attack this morning and she's in the hospital. Please call me back as soon as you can. I'm in the office and I'm calling the hospital now."

I froze at the sound of Scully's voice. Whispering a prayer of thanks to that God of hers that she and the baby were fine, but the fear in my heart was replaced with fear for my mother.

Damn it. Her cell phone was out of range. I hung up the hotel phone and continued listening to my cell. Message four.

"It's me again. I just spoke with the cardiologist and your mom is in the ICU unit. She underwent an emergency coronary artery bypass and is stabilizing. I'm going to see what I can do about getting a flight this afternoon to Hartford. Please call me."

I got up, keeping my phone pressed to my ear and I gathered my things together, shoving clothes into my suitcase haphazardly. I wanted to catch her before she talked to my mother, there was something I had to explain to her first.

"Damn it, Mulder. Where are you? Listen, I have to make the reservations now and I can't wait for you. I've got about a hundred things to do. I have both my pager and my cell phone on me, so I better hear from you the second after you receive this."

She sounded aggravated. From her perspective, she probably thought I had just run off again in some reckless pursuit, which unfortunately was the goddamned truth. This weekend, I should have been either in St. Louis with her or at home working on our new house. That way, someone could have gotten a hold of me. I already had my sister taken away from me and my father murdered. I couldn't stand the thought of my mother being next.

"Mulder, it's me. I'm just about to fly out to Hartford, Delta flight number 424. I will be going straight to the hospital from the airport. If you get this or any of my previous messages, please call me immediately," she said, sounding much calmer. She paused, then added,"I love you."

That cut right into my heart. Even after all we've been through, Scully never threw those three little words around lightly. She'd only spoken them to me a few times, but I knew she meant them when she did. It was just what I needed to hear right now.

It was going to take hours to get to Greenwich from here.


****

Greenwich Hospital
Greenwich, Connecticut
8:10 p.m.

"Excuse me," I asked the nurse in the ICU."I'm here to see Dr. Kevin Conboy."

Her eyes wandered over me with a bit of concern. I was sure I looked worn out, the flight was much more difficult than I expected it to be. I tried to get up and walk down the aisle, but the plane was so crowded I couldn't maneuver very well. Then, I had to pee the second the pilot turned on the"fasten seatbelts" sign. I was literally the first person off the plane just so I could make it to the bathroom in time. On top of that, there was a ninety-minute drive from Hartford to Greenwich. All that sitting gave me plenty of time to test how well my Kegels were doing.

"For which patient?" she asked politely, motioning for me to sit down.

"Teena Mulder," I replied, collapsing down into the chair. It felt good to get off my feet. I reached up and rubbed my shoulder, trying to loosen the huge knot of tension that had settled there.

"I have to page him," she said, smiling sympathetically at me."Just be a few minutes."

"Thanks," I whispered, closing my weary eyes. I couldn't believe how tired I was. With all the traveling I have done, I would thought my body was used to it. Pregnancy changes everything.

Suddenly, my cell phone rang.

I shot straight up, grabbing it as fast as I could and shoving against my ear.

"Mulder?" I asked hopefully, as my heart pounded wildly in my chest.

"It's me," he said.

"Mulder, where the hell are you?" I demanded, both relieved and frustrated.

"Detroit. I'm stuck on a lay over," he replied. I could hear noises behind him and he had to shout over them."I got your messages and took the next flight out of Portland. How's my mother?"

"I'm waiting to speak with her doctor," I said. I wanted to read him the riot act about not calling, but I knew now was not the time or the place for it."She's in ICU right now, which is normal. She'll be closely monitored for at least the next 24 hours."

Mulder exhaled into the phone. He sounded tired, frustrated and worried. All the things I was feeling.

"Are you Dana Scully?" a tall man asked as he walked towards me. I nodded, not wanting to hang up the phone just yet. His nametag read Dr. Kevin Conboy.

"Mulder, I have to go. The doctor is here. How much longer will you be?" I asked, making eye contact with the cardiologist.

"Another two hours in the air, plus the drive to Greenwich," he replied."About four hours. I'll drive as fast as I can."

"Okay," I replied, sensing the urgency in his voice. "I'll see you soon." I shut the phone and shoved it in my pocket, to give the doctor my full attention.

"I'm Dr. Conboy, we spoke earlier," he said, extending his hand to me. I shook it firmly and he motioned for me to sit back down. His eyes picked up immediately on my condition, despite the baggy clothes I was wearing.

"Yes," I confirmed."How is she?"

"Stable," he replied."She's awake now. I'll allow visitation only to immediate family and only for a short amount of time. Since you're a medical doctor, you understand my hesitation. But I think she needs to know her family is with her now."

I stood up, easing myself up off the chair. Dr. Conboy caught one of my flailing arms to steady me as he stood up.

"Thank you," I said, a little embarrassed at my lack of coordination.

"You're her daughter-in-law?" he asked, as we walked to ICU.

"Not yet," I said awkwardly. I felt his eyes looking down at my stomach again.

"Someone must have written it down wrong when you called the first time," he said, glancing at the clipboard he was carrying. "I apologize."

He held the door open for me as we entered the room."After your visit, she needs to rest. Her body is still adjusting and it might be touch and go all night. The stronger she is, the better chance she'll have."

"I understand," I said, as he touched my arm lightly. "I'll only be a few minutes."

"Mrs. Mulder?" he asked gently."Mrs. Mulder?"

She opened her eyes slowly."Fox?"

"No," he said, shaking his head."It's Dr. Conboy. A member of your family is here to see you."

Her head turned towards me, nodding for me to come closer."Where's my son?"

"I'll leave you alone," Dr. Conboy said, checking a couple monitors before leaving.

"Mrs. Mulder?" I started, unsure of how to address her. It's not like we were on a first name basis before."It's Dana Scully."

She rocked her head to the side, as her eyes fluttered."Where's Fox? I keep asking for my son and they tell me he's not here."

I sat on the edge of the bed, taking her hand in mine, hoping to comfort her."He's on his way right now."

"Did he send you?" she asked.

"I wanted to come," I answered, smiling gently.

Her eyebrow furrowed as she looked at my stomach, as if she was surprised to see the swell. She extended her fingers out, breaking away from me to touch me there. I guided her shaking hand and laid it flat over the baby.

"She might kick for her grandmother," I said, smiling slightly at her. Her face registered nothing as my daughter proceeded to squirm around.

"Grandmother?" she asked, looking up at me. Pain and confusion washed over her features."This is Fox's child?"

I swallowed the lump in my throat. Oh my God. He hadn't told her.


****

Greenwich Hospital
Greenwich, Connecticut
12:15 a.m.


I ran full speed through the corridors of the hospital, slowing down just long enough to read the signs that directed me to cardiology. I couldn't have been any farther way unless I was out of the country. My total travel time was nearly eight hours and I spend a good part of it thinking about my mother and all years of misunderstanding and lies. The decisions my father made on her behalf. Maybe it was wrong to hold her equally accountable for them, but she was a willing partner in the game.

I turned the corner and stopped, my eyes transfixed on a figure standing in the middle of the hallway. As if sensing my presence, she turned.

"Scully," I whispered, quickening my steps again as I walked towards her. She looked exhausted, her face pale and colorless under the dim fluorescent lights. The baby had grown bigger in the few weeks since I'd last seen her, even her posture had changed.

Before she can protest, my arms surrounded her. Holding onto her tight enough so she couldn't move away from me. After seeing the crap they'd put Marita through, I was so grateful she was safe and healthy.

"Mulder?" she said, squirming a bit. Scully brought her arms around my waist as I rocked us side to side.

"I'm sorry, Scully," I said, apologizing before she could chastise me."I know I should have called, but I got..."

"She keeps asking for you," she said, twisting her head up to look at me. I loosened my grip. I could tell she's been crying, her eyes were rimmed red and swollen. She narrowed them at me. Was she angry with me for not calling? For taking so long to get here?

"She's talking?" I asked, grateful she had regained consciousness.

"She was," Scully nodded."They've given her something to make her sleep now."

"Can I see her?" I pleaded, holding onto her shoulders.

She nodded slowly."Mulder, your mother had no idea I was pregnant. I thought you told her."

Now I understood the look in her eyes. She wasn't angry, she was hurt. I fell silent, unsure of what to say next.

"I tried to, Scully. On several occasions," I whispered, as Scully slid out of my arms. I looked past her and into the ICU unit. My mother was lying quietly in the dark. I pressed my fingertips to the glass as I peered inside.

"You need to see her," Scully said softly."To put her at ease."

"Okay," I said, glancing back at Scully. She clutched her stomach protectively, looking at me as if I was a total stranger.

"I'm going to go lie down on the couch in the waiting area," she said quietly."If you need me."

"Scully," I began, wanting to assured her."I swear can explain everything later. . ."

She twisted her lips up, as if to speak, but she turned away.

I pushed the ICU door open slowly, not wanting to startle her. My mom was hooked up to various monitors, the only one I recognized was the EKG. She looked so small, so fragile. The bandages taped across her heart were peeking out of the top of her hospital gown and her right leg was slightly elevated from where they took the vein for the bypass.

I sat on the edge of the bed, comforted only by the sound of her heart on the monitor, beeping steadily. I reached out to hold her hand, placing it between both of mine, careful to avoid disturbing the IV. I stroked the back of her hand with my thumb slowly as her image became blurry before my eyes.

"Mom," I whispered, voice cracking."It's Fox. I'm here."

She stirred a bit, but did not open her eyes.

"I'm sorry I couldn't get here sooner," I continued, bringing her hand up to my lips. I kissed her fingertips gently."And I'm even more sorry I didn't tell you about Scully."

Perhaps she could hear me. I have to say this now, in case something happened in the middle of the night.

"Scully is due on December 19th, it's a girl. I know we haven't been close lately, but I should have told you. I know you used to think Samantha was going to be the one to make you a grandmother first," I whispered, remembering things spoken long ago between the three of us back when we were a real family. Or at least, when I believed we were.

"If there is anything you want to tell me, mom," I continued, leaning closer to her. Pleading with her."I'll listen. I know I'm not a parent yet, but if anything happens to my daughter I'll be devastated. I still believe Samantha is out there, alive somewhere. Maybe there are other grandchildren out there for us to find. I'm not going to give up until I know the truth. I don't want you to give up, either."

I lowered my head, letting it rest on our hands. Silently willing her to survive.


****

Greenwich Hospital
Greenwich, Connecticut
12:45 a.m.

The couch had a spring that was digging into my back. I squirmed around, trying to find a spot so I could rest. The night duty nurse had brought me pillows and blankets, making me as comfortable as possible. Periodically, she would check in on me. Being pregnant gave me preferential treatment; normally, spending the night in the hospital meant sitting in cold vinyl chairs while the staff reminded you that visiting hours are 9 to 5.

One time when I was sick with cancer, Mulder had crept into my room in the middle of the night. I woke up to find him kneeling beside me, his head resting on the bed. He stayed like that for an hour until the nurse came and made him leave. If I wasn't so weak, I would have gotten up and begged them to let him stay.

He was still in with his mother, keeping vigil with her like he did with me. Our parents are still our parents, no matter what they have done to us in the past. A part of Mulder wants to be connected to her, probably the same part that has held onto the hope that Samantha will be found someday.

I couldn't imagine what it must have been like for Mulder growing up after his sister's disappearance. His parents' marriage deteriorated slowly, torn apart by the lies and deceit. Mulder held himself personally responsible for many years, since he was supposed to be taking care of Samantha that night. It was a hell of a burden for a child to be carrying around. His entire quest for the truth centers on that guilt. If he ever found the answers, would he finally be able to forgive himself?

"Here, I brought you something," the night nurse said, handing me a Styrofoam cup. I didn't even hear her coming."It's just steamed milk, but I thought it might help you relax."

"Thank you," I said, as I took it from her. I sipped it cautiously, gauging the temperature on my tongue. It tasted wonderful, both soothing and comforting.

This baby means so much to Mulder. I see it every time he looks at me. It goes beyond the male ego and pride of procreating. This is his chance to have a family again. When I get angry with him for keeping secrets from me, I have to step back enough to remember that this was how Mulder was brought up. His parents have been a part of the project from the very beginning and had always kept the truth hidden. I was sure his mother knew exactly what happened to Samantha, but buried it so deep inside that not even she herself can't find it. Repressed it all, whether willingly or by necessity. Did she know when she was pregnant that she was going to have to give one of them up? Was it planned that far in advance? Were her children 'manufactured'?

No wonder Mulder can't sleep at night.

I took another sip of the milk, letting it warm me from the inside out. We can't keep secrets from each other. I was guilty of it myself when I didn't tell him I was pregnant, a decision I now regret. But I have been honest with him about everything since, from my spotting to the sex of the child to the reasons why I won't marry him in a state ceremony. The Mulder family habit of lies and deception has to stop, otherwise I can't be a part of it. The cycle has to be broken.


****

Greenwich Hospital
Greenwich, Connecticut
1:20 a.m.

I awoke at the touch of a hand on my shoulder. I had fallen asleep in the chair beside my mother's bed. The room was dark and I opened my eyes, focusing first on my mother. Nothing had changed, she was still unconscious and resting peacefully.

I looked down, surprised to find a blanket covering me. Scully must have come in and draped it over my sleeping form. I could see her doing the same thing to our daughter. Scully was gong to be such a good mother, some people have a natural ability to parent. I, on the other hand, would have to learn as I go.

"I'm sorry, Fox," someone whispered in the darkness behind me.

I knew that damn voice. I turned my head and glared at the dark figure standing behind me.

"What the hell are you doing here?" I demanded, keeping my voice low.

Diana Fowley looked sadly at my mother."I'm here because your mother needed family today and you were no where to be found."

I shook my head, amazed she could suggest such a thing."You're not family."

"I was the only person available," she continued. "I have no problems with your mother, Fox. She was always good to me."

"Is that what she was asked to do?" I asked coldly. "Keeping up appearance, so to speak."

Diana brushed the silver strands away from my mother's forehead, in a gesture too staged to be genuine. It wouldn't surprise me to find out our entire marriage had been planned as well. Perhaps by my father or the Cigarette Smoking Man. After all, it happened just months after we discovered the X-files. Was Diana sent to keep me distracted? Was it merely another assignment to her, before getting shipped off to Europe? It didn't take long for me to realize I was in a loveless marriage, which was why I ended it. I had learned the signs too well from my parents.

"Scully looks like she's gained weight. She's sleeping out in the waiting area," Diana said, tucking my mother in."Of course, the last time I'd seen her was months ago after the detox shower. I saw the way you were looking at her on the monitors."

"Did you enjoy watching us?" I asked, narrowing my eyes at her.

"No," she replied, turning to glare at me."Is that when it all started, Fox? Was I somehow responsible for your little relationship?"

I wasn't going to justify that one with an answer."What do you want, Diana?"

"I want you to keep in mind who your family is, Fox," she said, running her hands over the monitors slowly."Your parents have worked very hard to provide for you and your future."

"I'd be dead if I went along with that plan," I said, as images of the burned bodies in the hangar flashed in my head."You were supposed to be there that night, too. You even had me convinced to go with you. Luckily, Scully's phone call stopped me. If anyone is responsible for providing me a future, its her."

"You weren't there when they came, Fox," she said, coming closer to me."I was. And if you think it's over, then you are sorely mistaken."

"How did you get away?" I asked, standing up."Who rescued you that night? Or did you know all along we were walking into a trap?"

"This wasn't how it was supposed to be," she said, ignoring my questions. What the hell was she saying? Is she talking about us? Scully and the baby? My mother?"You can't let them die in vain."

"Who?" I asked, staring her down.

"Your parents," she replied, glancing over at my mother.

"My mother isn't dead, Diana," I warned, as I grabbed her arm. I jerked her around to face me."And if you come near her again, I swear I'll kill you."

"Don't threaten me," she said, shaking herself free. "Only a few people know what really happened to Samantha. One of them is in this room now. Who would you rather kill, Fox? Her or me?"

"Get out," I said, from behind clenched teeth."Just get out." I couldn't stand to look at her any longer. It was the biggest mistake of my life getting involved with her in the first place.

"If you only knew," she whispered. Diana smiled, turning the corners of her mouth upward slightly. I turned away, trying to keep my anger contained. I turned back around in time to see the door swinging on her way out.


****

Greenwich Hospital
Greenwich, Connecticut
2:00 a.m.

"Scully?"

I slowly open my eyes, forgetting where I was for a moment. I must have finally fallen asleep.

"Scully?" asked Mulder again, crouching beside me. He stared at me blankly, registering no expression whatsoever.

"Your mother, is she okay?" I said sleepily, pulling myself up on my elbow.

Mulder nodded, staring at the floor to avoid my eyes. Silently, he slid his arms around me, drawing me against him. Holding me even tighter than before. I felt him breathing heavily, as if trying to keep his emotions shoved down.

"Thank you for being here," he said into my shoulder, his lips pressing against it. His fingers clutched at my back, grasping at me."I need you, Scully."

"She's family," I whispered, trying to explain my behavior."I just didn't understand why you didn't tell her about me and the baby."

"She was a part of the selection process," Mulder said, letting me go. He looked into my eyes, struggling to find the right words before continuing."She determined which one of her children were given up."

I reached for his hand, wanting to reestablish physical contact with him.

"I didn't tell her because I felt it was safer for both of you," Mulder continued, staring at our joined hands."She's vulnerable, Scully. If the Smoking Man pays her a visit to find out the details of your pregnancy, I don't know what he'd do to her."

"And you don't know how much she was involved," I said, following his logic."So, she could give them information about me."

"I'm sorry," he apologized again.

"Did you talk to her?" I asked.

"I tried," Mulder said."But she's sleeping. The nurses say she's going to be out for a while and it's best that we get some sleep ourselves and come back in the morning."

"Where are we going to go?" I asked, sitting up. I pushed the blankets off my body and began to fold them.

"We can go back to her house," Mulder said."I have the key. There's a guestroom where you can sleep. You need to rest, Scully."

I ran my hand down the side of his face, feeling the scrape of his stubble against my fingers."You need some rest, too."

He reached up, pressing his hand against mine on his cheek. Absorbing my touch, as if it would revive him."I just need you."

"Let's go," I whispered, gathering my things. I slipped my shoes back on while Mulder stacked the blankets and pillows on top of each other. I picked up the empty Styrofoam cup on the end table beside the sofa. I was surprised to find something inside it. I turned on the lamp, squinting against the brightness as my eyes adjusted.

"What is it?" Mulder asked, full of concern. I reached inside, pulling out a small cigarette butt. He leaned in closer as I twisted it around to read the label.

"Camel Lights," I said, as we both sighed in relief. I laughed nervously.

"One of the nurses must have used it as an ashtray," Mulder whispered, taking it away from me. He threw it back in the cup, then crumpled them both in his hand.

He kept his eyes on it for few seconds, then looked back at me. Without warning, Mulder cupped my face in his hands, drawing my lips to his in a slow, gentle kiss. His tongue pressed into mine, prolonging it as long as possible. I wrapped my arms around his neck, leaning into his body.

"C'mon," he whispered, against my mouth."Let's go."


****

Part Six

Barnes-Jewish Hospital
St. Louis, MO
11:30 p.m.


"Sorry I'm late," I said, grabbing the pen and signing in as fast as I could."I got caught up at work."

"That's okay," the receptionist replied, taking the clipboard and entering my information in the computer."We're a little behind schedule anyway."

I sunk into the waiting room couch, happy to get off my feet. It had been a long morning, trying to wrap things up before heading out to DC tonight. I was attending a three-day seminar back at Headquarters on forensic technology. Dr. Albus was going to cover my lectures and training sessions. I couldn't wait to go home, even if it was for only five days. There was so much I need to go over with Mulder, so much we hadn't discussed.

"Mrs. Scully?" asked another nurse, popping her head in the room. She was my size-or the size I used to be-decked out in raspberry-colored scrubs. I would look good in that color, but they don't make the cute scrubs in extra large. Just the nauseating green ones I had on right now.

"I'm here," I answered, too tired to correct her wrong prefix of Mrs. I tried to sit up on my own, but she reached out to take my hand and pull me up. I glanced at her shyly."Thanks."

Slowly, I followed her down the hallway, dreading our first stop in front of a scale.

"Let's get you weighed in," she said cheerily. I dropped my purse and coat on the ground, not wanting a false reading. I would have slipped my shoes off, but it was hard getting them laced up anymore.

I stepped up on the scale and she moved the top slider to 100. I watched her with narrowed eyes as she moved the other one. 125. 130. 135. 137. She scribbled it down in my chart and gave me a sympathetic smile.

"You're doing good," she encouraged. If she got any more cheerful, I was going to have to smack her."You've only gained twenty-three so far."

I looked down at my ever-changing shape. It had all settled in my breasts and abdomen, but my face was starting to fill out. I get up in the mornings and I wonder who the preggers woman is staring back at me.

"There's a gown for you to change into and a sheet to cover up with," the nurse said, as she lead me into the examination room."We'll give you a few minutes, then Dr. Stephens will be right with you."

"Thanks," I said, reaching for the gown and sheet as she shut the door behind her. I wiggled out of my shoes and stripped off my scrubs and undergarments. I was in the homestretch now, with just nine weeks left to go. I couldn't wait to go on maternity leave. I planned on taking a full three months off.

There was a soft knock at the door.

"Come in," I said, as I finished tying the gown closed.

"Hi Dana," said Dr. Stephens, flipping through my chart."So much has happened since your last visit! How are you feeling?"

"Ready," I replied, patting my stomach. She laughed a bit, then set the chart down and helped me sit on the examination table.

"I know," she said, reaching for her stethoscope. "But you've still got a few more weeks to go. Any pains or cramping?"

"No," I answered, relaxing as she monitored my heart and breathing."Nothing yet."

"Breath in," she said, moving the scope around my back."Breath out."

"I'm leaving for DC tonight," I said, as she took my blood pressure next."I'm glad I'm here so you can make sure everything is okay before I leave. Mulder, he worries."

"You better get used to it," she said with a smile. "Cause he's probably never going to stop worrying. That's his job as a father."

"You didn't have any questions about your amniocentesis?" she asked, hooking me up to the heart monitor."I left a couple messages for you."

"I'm sorry," I said, trying to relax."Mulder's mother had a heart attack a couple weeks ago and I had to fly up to Greenwich."

"Is she all right?" Dr. Stephens asked, with professional curiosity.

"She had an emergency bypass, but she's recovering," I said.

"I bet you both are excited," she said. She reached for the chart."Now you can decorate the baby's room and start shopping."

"Yes, time to break out the frilly curtains and pink pinafores," I said. But I had no idea where I was going to be even living when I got back. I guessed Mulder would be moving in with me or we'd try to find a bigger apartment somewhere. I certainly didn't want to go house hunting in December nine months pregnant.

Dr. Stephens' brow furrowed as confusion fell across her face. She hugged the clipboard to her chest and stared at me.

"For a boy? Is that something new?" she asked.

The room grew silent as her words echoed around me. What did she just say?

"A boy?" I repeated, feeling my heart suddenly pounding. "I-I'm having a girl. That's what the amniocentesis said."

I sat straight up, clutching my abdomen protectively as she opened my file again. It seemed like hours instead of seconds as she turned the pages over.

"Dana," she said quietly, handing the information over to me."It is a boy."


****

Lacey Spring, Virginia
12:48 p.m.

I hated the week after Halloween. I spent the entire time investigating the weird and cruel shit people do on All Hallows Eve. This year, I don't even have Scully around to make it remotely bearable.

I stared down at the bodies of two German Shepherds, a goat and a small calf. All mutilated in some mock-ritualistic fashion in the middle of an empty field. My stomach turned slightly at the amateur way the animals were slaughtered. It was probably something that some fucked-up kids thought would be fun to do on Halloween. Of course, a small town like Lacey Spring would call in the FBI to investigate occult activity immediately."That kind of thing don't happen here," the Sheriff had arrogantly told me.

I glanced at my watch again. Approximately 6 hours until Scully would be stepping off a plane at Dulles and into my arms. I couldn't wait. I hadn't seen her since my mom's heart attack two weeks ago and it wasn't much of a visit. We were so focused on her.

My mom was recovering. She has to make a lot of life changes concerning her diet, exercise and medication. But Scully was right; knowing she was going to be a grandmother soon certainly gave her the incentive to get better. I've managed to avoid the conversation so far. The one that answered the burning question of why I kept it from her. I'm just not ready to go down that path yet.

I turned away from the scene before me, letting the photographer step in and take his 8 x 10 glossies that will probably end up in the Enquirer next month. Animal Sacrifices Prove Existence of Satanic Cult or some such crap like that. I bet that was all the kids who did this really wanted. Some controversy. Some attention.

What makes a child grow up to do this? Society? Television? The decline of the family unit? The schools? I found myself wondering about these things all the time as I analyzed the world my daughter was about to be born into. Screw colonization; there were plenty of other evil things to worry about.

Those thoughts faded quickly away and I had years to worry about that crap. Right now, what was important to me was being with Scully and getting her through the last trimester. I still couldn't believe I was going to be a father in just nine weeks. I kept expecting to wake up in a mental institution with a nurse hovering over me saying it was all a dream. A crazy man's dream.

Just then, my pager vibrated against my waist. I unclipped it and scrolled through the message.

"Guess what? Your fireplace does work. Byers," I read out loud. I'd given Moe, Larry and Curly the key so they could do the minor repairs in their spare time. I just had no idea how much freaking spare time they actually had. They were over there constantly doing God knows what while I was working. But the house was finally coming together.

I wished I could show it to Scully, but I promised myself I'd wait until she came back from St. Louis for good. I hadn't gotten the nerve up to call Bill about the wedding option Margaret Scully presented me. Every time I mentioned it to Scully, she says I have to call him. Ironic I'd have to go through Billy-boy to make our marriage happen. Scully didn't seem too concerned about it. I suspected she wanted to do it after the baby arrived, judging from her quips about finding a maternity wedding dress.

I was hoping this long weekend together would give us a chance to make some plans. I always knew my future would be with Scully. I just never imagined it would happen this way. Even though things were still considerably complicated, I had to hold onto the idea that somehow we'd make it all work out. My past mistakes were not going to catch up to me and I wanted a fresh start. I owed it to both Scully and my daughter. And I planned to give it to them. Somehow.


****

Barnes-Jewish Hospital
St. Louis, MO
12:00 p.m.


Dr. Stephens slowly moved the transducer over my stomach; the steady sound of the baby's heart filled the room. Breaking the horrible silence that had descended over us.

"There," she said, pointing at the finger-like projection between my baby's legs.

I was trying not to cry again. She agreed to do the ultrasound only if I would calm down and relax. But how could I?

I nodded at image and after the shock wore off, I smiled a bit. A son?

"There must have been a mistake made at the lab," she said softly."I want to see what you were sent to compare it. This has never happened before with the SmithKline labs, but you can bet I'm going to find out how."

I closed my eyes, as tears fell down my cheeks unbidden. This wasn't a simple case of switched results. Perhaps to anyone else, it would be plausible explanation. But not for me.

"I want the test run again," I said, wiping my face with the back of my hand."If those weren't my results, I want them run again under a controlled environment. In DC, the FBI lab can process the sample."

"Dana," she said, laying her hand over mine."You know the risks of a second amniocentesis. You're farther along now optimum time is between 14-17 weeks. The risk of miscarriage is still 1/200, same as before."

"I understand," I said, choking back a sob,"and I want a DNA test run."

She looked at me suspiciously, perhaps wondering why I would want that test done. I had no reason to question the paternity of my child. Or the maternity, until now. She didn't know what we'd been through or what the 'project' entailed or Emily or how these people would stop at nothing to fuck up my life and Mulder's life.

"If that's your decision, I'll make arrangements with your doctor in Georgetown to set up the amnio," she said softly, pausing between words. Dr. Stephens looked reserved, obviously professionally embarrassed by the 'mistake.'

But I knew it had nothing to do with her or this hospital or the lab.


****

J. Edgar Hoover Building
Washington, DC
3:25 p.m.


"Fox Mulder?" I answered, picking up my telephone.

"Agent Mulder, I have a ship to shore call for you from the U.S.S. Davenport," the switchboard operator said."Can I ring it through."

"Yes," I said, leaning back in my chair. Finally, the call I've been dreading. I listened for the clicks as she transferred the call to my line."Fox Mulder?"

"This is Bill Scully," he said, barking out his name as if I was supposed to salute him."Has something happened to Dana?"

"No," I replied, trying to remain calm. I recognized the edge in his voice, the same one he always had when speaking to me. A cross between condescending and disgust."She's fine, but she is the reason I called."

Static crackled across the line."You better not have done anything to her. She is still in St. Louis, right?"

"Yes, she is," I answered obediently, then added. "But I will be seeing her tonight."

That pissed him off.

"If she has any sense, she'll stay in St. Louis. Needless to say I was relieved she got transferred out of DC when she did. The last thing my sister needs is to be dragged all over the damn country in her condition," he said, spitting the words out."I'm hoping this separation makes her realize she's better off without you."

I gritted my teeth, not wanting this son of a bitch to intimidate me."Like it or not, Bill, Scully is carrying our child. Despite what you think, I am taking responsibility for them both."

"That's a laugh," he snarled."I've seen how you take responsibility for her before. You're not doing her any favors."

"This baby means the world to Scully," I started, hoping to find his Achilles heel."I'm sure I don't have to explain that. So what I'm about to ask you...ask that you don't do it for me, but rather for your niece. A child deserves both parents."

"If you're going to ask me if I'll help with a naval wedding, the answer is no," he said sharply."I've already been through this with Mom and your groveling isn't going to change my mind."

Okay. That's it.

"You really are a prick, Bill," I replied in my sweetest voice.

"And you really are one son of a bitch, Mulder," he answered, equally as tender."There's no way in hell I want you to marry my sister. If it were up to me, I'd make sure she sues for sole custody and keeps her child away from you, too. I know what your family is like and I would never voluntarily make her a part of it."

"I'm sorry you feel that way," I replied, sounding like a smart-ass."But with or without your help, I'll be calling you brother-in-law soon enough. See ya at the Christmas party, bro."

"Over my dead body," he answered, hanging up the phone.

I held the receiver out and stared at it.

"I'd say that went much better that I expected," I grumbled to myself, before letting it fall back in the cradle. I looked at the wall clock.

Just three and a half hours left to go.


****

Scully's Apartment
St. Louis, MO
2:30 p.m.


I neatly folded three of my favorite maternity suits and laid them in my suitcase, one for each day of the seminar. Next, I added my support hose and my flats and desperately tried to keep focused on the task at hand. Suits, underwear, slips, jeans, shirts, shoes, toiletries. Anything I'd forgotten?

Just the envelope sitting on the kitchen counter. The one with your new ultrasound and the other results. Proving what you've feared all along, my mind taunted.

I sat down on the bed and buried my head in my hands. How am I going to tell Mulder? I should have double checked the results with Dr. Stephens when they came in. And I should have done DNA test before. But that could have been tampered with as well. No. I was going to do this right this time and under a controlled environment. I'd made arrangements to use the lab after 5:00 p.m. tomorrow after my amnio. No waiting. I couldn't stand it.

How am I going to tell my mother? She would figure out what happened; blaming it on a simple lab mistake wouldn't work. She knew all too well what our enemies were capable of. Bill? He'll find a way to blame it on Mulder. Charlie? My innocent Charlie would side with his big brother.

And then there was Mulder's mom. How would she take the news? Would it even surprise her? I pictured her placid face registering nothing. Was this the kind of thing Mulder sought to protect me from by not telling her? I secretly wondered what else he might be keeping from me ever since I found out about his mother.

My hand reached over to the phone and dialed his number automatically. Trance-like, I held it to my ear.

"Mulder?" he asked, picking up on the second ring.

"Hi," I said, voice shaky.

"Hey," he answered, making the word sound so warm. Inviting."How'd the appointment go?"

"Fine," I said, without a second thought. What else could I say? I couldn't tell him like this.

"Do they know how big she is?" he asked enthusiastically. Oh yes. That was one of the things we were going to find out today. I'd completely forgotten.

"Uh--no," I mumbled."I was running late and I didn't get measured."

"That's okay," Mulder said."As long as you both got a thumb's up."

"We did," I replied.

"And you told her you'd be flying this afternoon?" he asked."That's okay, too?"

"Yes," I said, laying back on my bed. I curled into a fetal position, placing a pillow between my knees. It was comforting just to hear his voice.

"Good. Otherwise, I'd have to drive down there and get you," he joked. I closed my eyes, imaging Mulder was in the room with me now. He paused, then asked seriously,"Shouldn't you be heading for the airport? Your flight leaves is just over an hour."

"I-I just wanted to talk," I whispered, hoping he'd blame my mood on pregnancy hormones. They made my PMS look like a walk in the park.

"Okay," he said, after a moment."I can't wait to see you, Scully. I've got so much to tell you."

I breathed a heavy sigh."I've got so much to tell you."


****

Dulles International Airport
7:15 p.m.

For a Tuesday night, the airport was busy. An Egypt Air plane went down earlier this week, killing 217 people. It made me nervous about Scully flying. My heart fluttered as I searched the screens to find her flight number from St. Louis. I sighed in relief when I saw the flashing ARRIVED Gate 12 beside TWA Flight 257.

I quickened my steps as I headed down the corridor, anxious to see her. That phone call earlier had me worried. If anything was seriously wrong, she wouldn't have gotten on the plane, I kept telling myself. She was probably just tired or emotional. Yet I knew the answers were never that simple. Not for us, anyway.

I stopped at Gate 12, looking out across the crowd of people still piling off the plane. Her red hair made it extremely easy to find her and I searched for it. My eyes filtered everyone else out.

No Scully.

Shit. I pushed past the clusters of people to the counter, trying to get the attendant's attention by waving my arm.

"Excuse me," I said, hunching over the counter."I'm looking for a passenger, Dana Scully? She was supposed to be on this flight."

"Let me check the manifest," she answered, typing in the information with her long, blue fingernails that matched her uniform.

I tapped my fingers as I waited, looking all around in case I missed her. They shut the door from the ramp, signaling the aircraft was empty. I saw the luggage being thrown onto the cart. The plane must have arrived early.

"She was in Seat 19A. I'm showing she checked in at Lambert and should have been boarded," she replied, picking up on my fidgeting. She eyed me warily."Do you want me to page her?"

"Please," I said, more desperately than I wanted to.

She gave me a reassuring smile and reached for the intercom. "Will Dana Scully please meet her party at TWA Gate 12. Dana Scully, please meet your party at TWA Gate 12."

"Thank you," I said, after her voice stopped echoing throughout the airport. I put my hands on my hips and paced around, hoping Scully would suddenly appear. Where would she have gone? Was someone waiting for her? Was someone with her? Following her? I knew I was probably over-reacting, but I couldn't help it. Diana's surprise visit to me in the hospital was a shrewd reminder of how carefully they monitor us.

For some reason, I lifted my head up and past the crowds I saw the sign for the restrooms. I followed the wall with my eyes to the ladies room just in time to see her stepping out.

"Scully!" I called, rushing over.

"I heard my name on the overhead," she said, as I wrapped my arm around her shoulders protectively.

"I'm sorry I wasn't here when the plane arrived," I mumbled into her hair.

"It's okay," she answered, putting her arm around my waist for support."I just had to pee. The baby was sitting on my bladder all the way down here."

Scully had on a long, flowing dress that helped conceal her stomach, but I could tell she had gotten bigger, blossoming with our daughter. I held onto her tighter as I reached down to touch the baby.

"Mulder," she said quietly, laying her hand over mine. Something in the tone of her voice disturbed me and I looked down at her. She avoided my gaze, choosing to stare into my shirt instead.

"Scully, what is it?" I asked, turning her body so we are facing each other. I placed my hands on her shoulders to steady her. People brushed past us, but we both ignored them and focused on each other.

She swallowed hard, trying to keep her composure."We need to talk." Her voice faltered and her hands were shaking. She bunched them into fists to stop it.

What the hell was going on?

"Okay," I replied as calm as possible."Where do you want to go?"

"Anywhere," she breathed, finally looking up at me. "Just anywhere."


****

Washington Monument
8:50 p.m.

We sat on the bench. His bench, overlooking the shimmering water of the Reflecting Pool. How many times over the last six years did Mulder come here seeking solace? It didn't surprise me he should deem this spot 'anywhere.' This was one of the few places where he felt safe.

I huddled in his jacket. The crisp November breezes made me shiver, but the night sky above us couldn't be any clearer. Even Jupiter was visible.

"When you asked me earlier if my doctor's appointment went well," I began, watching as my words turned into puffs of white."I lied to you."

Mulder's body tensed and his hands gripped the edge of the bench. "Scully...the baby..."

"Is fine," I assured him, gritting my teeth to hold back tears,"but, it's not a girl."

Mulder narrowed his eyes as he stared at me with confusion. He shook his head."How? You had an amniocentesis and you said those are never wrong."

"They are when the results are not yours," I whispered, biting my lower lip to keep from shaking."Dr. Stephens was sent a different set of film than I was. She gave me another ultrasound herself and I saw it. The baby is a boy..."

I felt tears falling down my face. Not because I didn't want a boy, but because we were deceived. I loved this child more than anything. Boy or girl, it did not matter to me.

"You were sent the wrong results?" he asked incredulously. "Scully, you interpreted the results yourself. You didn't notice..."

"I didn't have any reason not to believe they weren't my results. We weren't testing for a DNA match, just chromosomal defects," I continued, letting the rational of science calm me down.

"Then your results were switched and a mistake was made?" Mulder asked, reaching across for my hand and squeezing it firmly.

I stared at him long and hard. His austere expression was betrayed by the fear in his eyes. I shook my head sadly."You don't believe that anymore than I do."

"Scully," he said, edging closer to me on the bench. "What if that's all it is? Some random lab mistake?"

"I would love to believe that Mulder," I said, as he wrapped his arm around me again. Huddling close for warmth and security. "But Dr. Stephens was sent my results and I was sent something else. It feels too deliberate to be a mistake."

He exhaled, pulling me closer to rest his cheek on my head. I wiped my eyes on his shirt, letting it soak up my tears.

"Why make us think it's a girl? Why send us false results when they can be verified?" he whispered, struggling to make sense of something that was senseless.

"I don't know," I mumbled into his chest. I could hear his heart beating, strong and steady and it comforted me the same way hearing my son's did earlier."Maybe they meant to switch the baby or maybe these belong to another Emily...I don't know."

Mulder gathered me up in his arms, holding me closer. I was now half sitting in his lap with my head on his shoulder and my arms around his neck. Sobbing like the emotional pregnant woman I was.

"Then we're going to find out," Mulder said assertively. "We'll run the tests over."

I nodded and pressed the side of my face against his. Whispering in his ear."I've already arranged it all. Tomorrow afternoon. After the seminar, I'm going to have another amniocentesis done. Then, I'm having the tests run at the Hoover Building where I can supervise and make sure nothing is tampered with.

"And I'll need a DNA sample from you," I continued, so sorry I had to even ask."To compare it. I want to make absolutely sure this is our child. Yours and mine...because if it..."

"Shut up," Mulder said gently, laying a finger over my lips."Don't even say it. You know that's our child, Scully."

During the time the baby was conceived, I had no lapses of memory or strange abductions. There had to be another reason for this deception. I just couldn't figure out what it was.

"Those results," Mulder said,"we can test them against what you were sent, too. In case it is another Emily."

I nodded in agreement, but inside my heart was aching.


****

Mulder's Apartment
10:30 p.m.


Scully was pretending to sleep. She was lying on her side with her back towards me and a pillow between her knees for comfort. We didn't say much to each other after the conversation at the Monument. What good would it do to speculate anyway?

This new twist was disturbing because it didn't make a whole hell of a lot of sense. As much as I wanted to chase down Diana or Krycek and strangle the truth out of them, I knew it didn't matter. They couldn't change the fact that we were together now or that she was carrying our child. Boy or girl. I was happy with either.

Perhaps Scully was right to trust this pregnancy to science all along like she did in the beginning. For once, I embraced her scientific tenacity. We weren't dealing with the paranormal or unexplained; we were dealing with a human reproduction. An exact science which would reveal the answers to us tomorrow.

I rolled over so I was spooning her and propped my head on my elbow. Even lost somewhere between the waking world and that of dreams, Scully's brow was furrowed. Shit. She couldn't even get a decent night sleep anymore.

I reached out, laying my palm on the small of her back and rubbing in slow circles. Her muscles were knotted and I worked them with my thumb, trying to relax her body. She was wearing one of my old T-shirts and a pair of shorts. They were still too big for her small form.

"Hmmmm," she moaned, after a bit."Mulder?"

"Yeah?" I whispered, leaning down into her ear. She looked so beautiful lying before me. Partner. Lover. Mother. All those names described her now. But she still meant so much more to me. There were no words to define my feelings for Scully.

"Lower," she pleaded and I moved to the muscles right above her buttocks. The shape of her body had changed again; she was even curvier. Scully carried the baby in the front. From the back, I couldn't even tell she was pregnant.

"You're tense," I observed, letting my hand trail back up to her shoulder. She arched her back and moaned again. I kissed her cheek softly, so grateful I'd have the next five days with her.

"I've missed you," she said, easing into my touch. She rolled over slowly, twisting herself around to face me. Her eyelids were swollen from her tears earlier, but her eyes were bright and clear. Luminous. "I hate going through this alone."

"I only wanted to protect you. . ." I mumbled, silenced by her lips. I thought of Bill's words earlier and how wrong he was about the separation. Didn't he know it was killing me?

"Shut up," she said gently."Don't even think it."

She wrapped her arms around my neck, drawing me closer. She was deliciously warm from sleep and softer than I remembered. I kicked the covers around so my bare legs could entwine with hers, establishing even more contact. Her lips slid over mine and down my chin, my neck, my chest. She nuzzled me as she sought out my nipple, licking around it.

I felt my cock twitch in response to her arousal. Suddenly, the entire mood shifted between us from comfort to desire. Maybe they are really one in the same. Sex grounding us to each other, giving us stability that no one could take away.

I ran my hand up her smooth inner thigh, past the shorts to touch her through her underwear. She shivered as my fingers stroked her and to reciprocate, she placed her hand over my member. Skillfully, she unfastened the single snap of my boxers to delve inside.

"Just how much did you miss me, Scully?" I teased, as her thumb worked around the head, pressing hard into the indentation left by my Jewish upbringing.

"This much," she replied, squeezing harder. She exhaled, releasing the tension from her body."How much did you miss me?"

"More," I answered, both to her question and her ministrations. Sweet Jesus, it was so much better when she did it."Can't you feel it?"

"I think so," she nodded, before sliding her tongue into my mouth again. The psychologist in me wanted to analyze our reasons for doing this now, but desire took over and shut my inner Freud up.

I slithered my hand underneath the T-shirt to the round softness of her breasts. She didn't flinch at all, so I surmised they had stopped being tender. I relished in the discovery, cupping one appreciatively. I brushed the nipple over and over again with my thumb, watching pleasure replace the frown on Scully's face.

We laid like that for a long while, just rubbing and exploring and arousing. I took my time reacquainting myself with her body and all its changes. Her breasts had grown yet again; the once rosy-colored nipples were now almost cinnamon-brown and wider. Most noticeable of course was her stomach. Her skin stretched tight over the firm swell that was our son.

Somehow, we managed to get each other's clothes off, my boxers were last and Scully threw them off the bed and out of the way. I wasn't sure what position would be best for her, so I let Scully adjust us. She shifted over on her side and parted her knees invitingly. I stared at the wetness glistening off her sex, shining rivers of life. Her essence she offers to me with completely trust.

With a long, languid sigh I eased myself onto her. I placed a hand under her knee and laid it over my hip. The side position made us equals, but it also allowed me to sink deep inside her. So far, I swear I must be touching her very soul.


****

I enjoyed the slip of skin as I stretched around him. My muscles were stronger now from all those damn Kegel exercises. Any thoughts of the humiliating tests I'd have to do tomorrow were farthest from my mind. What mattered to me was Mulder.

He eased in and out of me slowly. Delicately.

"Mulder," I whispered to get his attention.

He opened his eyes and between jagged breaths asked,"Scully?"

I guessed his apprehension about making love to me stemmed from his concern about the baby. He was holding something back. But he needed to know that he didn't have to.

"I won't break," I whispered, smiling up at him."You don't have to hold yourself back. Harder, Mulder."

"Harder?" he asked, questioning my request.

"Yes," I answered, grinding my hips into his."I need this and so do you."

With that, Mulder leaned across and kissed me. It was the briefest touch, yet completely intimate.

"I love you, Scully," he whispered, letting the words trail off. Replaced by his heaving breathing as he rocked his hips into mine.

My joints were beginning to loosen, the result of the pregnancy hormone relaxin. His hand held onto my hip, providing enough leverage for him to pump in and out of me.

My head fell back on the pillow, as warmth coursed through me. My heart beat hard and strong as my insides flexed in preparation. Building up in sweet frenzy to climax. With one deep thrust, it finally spilled over. Causing wave after wave of pulsing pleasure throughout my core that reverberated in my heart.

"Oh God," I cried out, rocking my head back and forth. Mulder smiled at me, easing his thrusts a bit to let me ride it out. The throbbing subsided, leaving me exhilarated and satisfied for the first time in weeks. I felt stronger than ever and ready to deal with whatever tomorrow would bring.

"Are you okay?" he asked, concern in his eyes.

"Oh yes," I said, smiling my gratification."I'm more than okay."

"Good," Mulder said, grinding himself into me again. I knew he was getting close. I attempted to counter his thrusts. I wanted make love to him with the same level of intensity. Or at least try to.

I wondered if he knew we'd have to refrain from this for a good six weeks or more after the baby was born. I thought I'd spring that on him closer to December.

Mulder gave one final push, then groaned, making primitive sounds that signaled his release. Inside, he throbbed, sharing his pleasure with me.

Slowly, he withdrew and collapsed on his back. He reached for me, wanting to enfold me in his arms. I pulled cover back around our cooling bodies, trying to conserve the heat generated by our lovemaking. Tired, we curled around each other. I closed my eyes, not wanting to think about anything at all.


****

Mulder's Apartment
2:30 a.m.


I awoke to find Scully gone. Panicked, I sat straight up in bed, squinting in the dark for her. Her clothes were still scattered on the floor, her purse in the corner. I strained my neck to peer in the bathroom, hoping to see a light on. But it too was dark.

I pulled my boxers back on, inside out and staggered out of bed looking for her. She wasn't in the living room either and my heart began to race. Where did she go?

I turned my head into the kitchen and saw a dim light through the darkness.

"Scully?" I called out, quickening my steps and rounding the corner. There, in the kitchen sat Scully. I breathed a sigh of relief.

She looked up at me with wide eyes. I'd caught her licking a spoon clean. On the table was an empty carton of chocolate Hagen Daaz Frohike had brought over during the World Series last week. The late night ice cream didn't bother me; but the film spread out across the kitchen table did. Her ultrasound, amniocentesis and other things I assumed were part of her medical file.

"I couldn't sleep," she said, fumbling the words out. She tossed the spoon in the carton and held it up suspiciously."Since when do you keep ice cream?"

"It's Frohike's," I said, wandering over to her. My eyes focused on the documentation as she tried to gather it together. I placed my hands over hers and stopped their frantic movements."Don't..."

"I'm sorry," she said, still trying to stack them together."I just wanted to look it over before tomorrow. I mean, it's awkward for me to be asking to use the lab for the DNA testing of my baby. I just hate having to go through this again. It was hard enough the first time."

She lowered her head, letting her hair fall around her face, hiding her emotions from me still. I walked around behind her, leaned over and wrapped my arms around her shoulders. Holding her tightly.

Goddamn them.

"If the results Dr. Stephen's received are indeed mine," she whispered."Then our son should be healthy."

I remembered well the phone call when she read the 'results' of the test to me. The baby girl we both thought was on the way was nothing more than an illusion. Now we had to start over, fearing what, if any, secrets lie encoded in the chromosomal make up of our son.

"I love this baby," she said, as I relaxed my grip. I dropped to my knees beside her, looking up into her solemn face as she continued. Her hand circled around her belly."I do. More than anything. But it's like...it's a stranger to me...until I know for sure. I'm just so scared that he's not..."

Memories of Marita's words brushed across my mind. I want to bond with this child, but I can't. I feel nothing at all towards her. She was manufactured and made by them.

I wanted to tell her everything right then and there. My first marriage, the trip to Oregon, Marita's pregnancy and Diana's visit to my mother's bedside. Should I destroy what little sense of security she had by drudging up the past?

I made a decision then and there.

"Scully," I said sharply, forcing the voice away. I grabbed her hand and pulled her gently out of the chair."C'mon."

"I don't want to go back to bed," she protested, fighting back tears."I want to look this over one more time. There can't be any mistakes made this time."

"We're not going to bed," I replied, wanting her to get away from the doubts and fears strewn across my table. Proof the past was trying to claim the future."I have something I want to show you."

"Now?" she asked, as I tugged her into the bedroom again. Scully glanced at the clock, flashing its 2:42 a.m. LCD letters.

"Yes," I replied, turning the light on. I picked up some of her clothes off the floor and handed them to her. Scully gathered them against her and stared at me as if I was crazy. I grabbed my jeans and yanked them up my legs hastily."C'mon, Scully. Let's go."

"Where?" she asked, shaking her head at me.

"You'll see," I said, as I slid my T-shirt on.


****

4867 Carriagepark Rd
Fairfax, VA
3:10 a.m.

The father of my child was insane.

I stole a glance over at Mulder as he drove us out of Alexandria and into Fairfax. Of course, it wasn't like I didn't know he was insane before now. His impulsive disappearances over the years have taught me that. I had never been invited to participate before. Of course, leave it to Mulder to finally drag me along when I'm seven months pregnant in the middle of night. I huddled inside Mulder's coat, keeping the baby and me warm.

"Where are we going, Mulder?" I demanded, for the hundredth time. He merely looked over at me with his expressionless face, giving me no clues whatsoever.

Finally, he drove into a residential area. He turned the car into a dark driveway of a brick townhouse. Older brick exterior, from what I could surmise in the darkness. No lights were on.

Mulder jumped out of the car and ran around to my side to open the door for me. I sat back, staring at his offered hand with scrutiny.

"Mulder!" I hissed."Whose house is this? You can't just drop by in the middle of the night!"

"Yes I can," he shrugged, coaxing me with his hand. "Scully, please."

I let out an exasperated sigh and placed my hand in his, allowing him to help me out of the car. He shuffled me up the stairs to a beautiful oak door. I expected him to shimmy the lock, but instead he took out his keys and flipped them around. He inserted one into the deadbolt and turned. I bounced up and down on my knees, trying to generate body heat as I waited impatiently.

"Mulder," I warned, as he pushed open the door. What the hell was he doing?

I followed him inside cautiously, unsure of what to expect. I was hit with the smell of new carpet and fresh paint. Mulder moved over to the foyer and flipped the only light on. I looked around, finding myself standing in the middle of an empty house.

"Why are we here, Mulder?" I asked, raising my eyebrow at him. I glared at him as he smiled like the damn Cheshire cat. I moved towards him, but he backed up toward the stairs. He reclined back on them invitingly.

"What do you think?" he asked, making room for me to sit beside him.

"I think you're crazy," I replied, easing myself down. I threw him an exasperated look.

"Not me, the house," he said, letting his eyes roam around the walls.

"It's...empty," I said, puzzled by his weird behavior. "But I'm sure the owners don't appreciate us barging in here at 3:00 a.m."

"Actually, they're here," Mulder said, sitting up. He hunched over with his elbows on his knees and looked over at me.

I glanced up the stairs to where I presumed the bedrooms were. I instantly lowered my voice."Where?"

"Right here," Mulder said, taking my hand in his. He pressed it between his palms, caressing. He brought our joined hands to his lips."This is our house, Scully. Or what I hope will be our house."

I swallowed hard."Our house?"

"I know it doesn't look like much," he said apologetically. "But I was going to show you after you got back from St. Louis and I've had a chance to finish. It's in a very good neighborhood and school district."

"When did you do all this?" I asked, equally touched and shocked."You visit me almost every weekend?"

"I have help," he answered, standing up."The guys painted the whole house for you. The baby's room is upstairs. Do you want to see it?"

I gripped the banister to steady myself and stood up slowly. "I don't know what to say..."

"Say you'll live with me," he replied, pleading softly. "I don't want to wait until we get married, Scully. I want you here when you come back."

I looked up at him, biting my lip to keep from trembling."You want me to live in sin?"

Mulder laid his hands on my stomach, caressing it gently on either side."I think it's too late for the sin part."

He drew me into a kiss, long and slow. Oh yes. Too late for that.


****

J. Edgar Hoover Building
7:25 p.m.

I threw another pencil at the ceiling.

Eighteen so far. I was going to break my record.

I'd be exiled to my office so Scully could run the tests. I popped another sunflower seed in my mouth, cracking it slowly and rolling the seed free with my tongue. Waiting was like slow torture, but she assured me she could work faster if I wasn't there.

The good news was Scully loved the house. She didn't commit to moving in right away, but I know she will. Her eyes lit up like a million stars at the baby's room and she was so happy I'd left it plain white. She could decorate it any way she wanted. Winnie the Pooh. Charlie Brown. Whatever. I was certain our son would love it.

A son. I would be a liar if I didn't admit to being just a tiny bit proud I'd actually supplied a Y chromosome and not an X.

She now had all my genes upstairs in a petrie dish. I had both my blood and a buccal swab of my cheek cells taken. The DNA was extracted and then enzymes were used to cut the sample into fragments and placed into a gel matrix. An electrical current drove the fragments across the gel until they separated. That all I'd seen before she kicked me out.

It would prove in no uncertain terms what I've believed all along. That is our child.

*Ring.*

"Scully?" I asked, grabbing it quickly.

"It's me," she said, in her most professional voice. "Could you come up here?"

"Is anything wrong?" I asked immediately, unsure of how to read her tone.

"Just come up here," she answered, then hung up.

Within seconds, I was out the door and to the elevator. I punched it impatiently, watching the numbers fall as it descended to the basement. I stepped inside, nervously pacing around like a caged animal. Something wasn't right. I could feel it.

I practically ran down the hall to the lab where she was working. I fumbled with the handle, then realized it was locked. I banged on it repeatedly, trying to see through the frosted glass. Scully's blurry form appeared and opened the door.

She was wearing a long, white lab coat and latex gloves. Her hair was pulled back and she had her glasses on. She looked absolutely exhausted.

"Mulder," she said, moving back toward the table. She eased onto a stool, slouching back so her feet were still touching the floor. Now she was relaxed. It was absolutely impossible to read a pregnant woman."I have finished the tests and have my preliminary findings."

Shit. She was talking scientific. That wasn't a good sign.

"And?" I pressed, wanting her to continue.

"I transferred the separated DNA fragments to a nylon membrane, which was exposed to a labeled DNA probe," she started, standing up again.

"What's a DNA probe?" I asked.

"A short piece of customized DNA that recognizes and binds to a unique segment of the tested person's DNA. This nylon membrane is placed against a film, which after developing reveals black bands where the probes are bound to the DNA," she laid the film on a light table nearby, laying it between the other two previous films."The visible band pattern of the child is unique-half matches the father and half matches the mother..."

"Do we match?" I asked, cutting her off. I had to know.

Scully looked at me, her face sullen and drawn. Jesus. She stared at me for so long I felt as if I was going to crack.

"Do we match?" I demanded, desperate for the answer.

Scully's mouth drew back in a thin smile."We match."

My heart resumed it beating. I shook my head at her, watching her evil smile grow."You had me going there..."

Scully pressed her lips together again, becoming the scientist yet again."But that's not the only match."

"What?" I asked. My mind raced to interpret the information.

She moved closer to the film, laying her fingertips on it."It seems the results I was sent also matches one of us. But not 100%."

Now she was confusing me.

"She's not another Emily, is she?" I whispered.

Scully took off her glasses to look into my eyes."The DNA matches you, Mulder."

I was taken aback. My DNA?

"I don't understand," I said, afraid of what she was implying."It's not 100% match to me?"

"No," she confirmed. Scully took a step backwards and leaned against the table. The room grew uncomfortably tense."This baby shares your DNA patterns the same way I share my nephew's."

It took a few moments for me to realize what she was actually saying.

"Are you saying this is Samantha's child?" I asked, holding the film up.

"I'm saying, it could be," she replied, nodding her head slowly. Scully laid her hand on my arm, squeezing it tightly.

I want you to keep in mind who your family is, Fox, Diana's voice echoed in my head.

***

Part Seven

Truman Federal Building
St. Louis, Missouri
11:50 a.m.


"Dana?" came a soft rap on my office door.

I looked up from my laptop to find Agent Catherine Schaffer standing in the doorway.

"Ready to go to that meeting?" she asked, glancing at her watch. She swept her long, brown curls off her shoulder and tapped her foot impatiently."Although I don't see how a one hour meeting will prepare us if the world's computers decide to meltdown on January 1st."

"I hope I have this baby before then, just in case," I groaned. The last thing I wanted to do was go to meeting on Y2K readiness. The memo showed up yesterday, complete with a schedule of assigned times. Luckily, both Catherine and I had last names that begin with the letter"S" so we could go together. At least if I fell asleep halfway through the meeting she'd be there to wake me up. Lately, all I wanted to do was sleep. If I wasn't pregnant, I would think I was narcoleptic.

I rubbed my eyes beneath my glasses. Next week was Thanksgiving and I'd be off for four days. I knew I couldn't catch up on my sleep, there was too much to do. I had only one week left in St. Louis and I couldn't wait to get back to DC and Mulder. We had to start Lamaze classes as soon as possible, since we were already far behind schedule.

"Could you?" I pleaded, holding my hands out to Catherine. Getting in a chair was easy. Getting out was another story.

"No problem," Catherine said, coming around. She smiled as she took my hands."I think you've gotten bigger since this morning!"

"Ha-ha," I mused, letting her pull me to my feet. I laid a hand on my son, who was kicking something fierce. I felt his little foot jab me harder. He didn't want to go to this meeting either."Oh."

"Are you okay?" Catherine asked, touching my arm. Her eyes were filled with instant concern, as if I was having a contraction.

"I'm fine," I replied, waving her away. I blew the hair out of my eyes."The baby's just kicking."

She smiled again and I could tell she was dying to touch my round belly."I loved watching Jordan and Christie move across my stomach. Catching an arm or a foot sticking out."

"The baby won't do it for Mulder," I replied, folding my glasses and shoving them into my pocket."Every time I think it's going to happen I put his hand on the spot and nothing."

"Funny how they know," Catherine said, reaching her hand out a little. But she refrained. She turned on her heel instead."Let's go find out what the Y2K disaster plan is."

Once I was able to keep up with her fast paced stride, but now I could not. We had given up our lunch walks when the weather changed. I chose to take naps in my office instead. I caught up with her when she stopped at the elevator.

An awkward silence fell over the both of us as we waited. Catherine stepped a little closer to me so we were face to face.

"In case I don't get a chance to say this, I'm going to miss you," she said sincerely.

Suddenly, I felt a little guilty at my eagerness to go back to DC, I wasn't aware how my leaving would affect everyone here. I'd always seen it as temporary. But my pregnancy was something that drew people to me and made me part of some human equation that they could relate to. I could see it in the faces of perfect strangers. More so in the eyes of a new friend.

"I'm sure we'll work together again," I assured her, with a small grin."Mulder and I do a lot of traveling in the midwest."

"Do you think you will after the baby is born?" she asked, her eyes looking down at my stomach."It changes everything, if it hasn't already."

I opened my mouth to speak, but was saved by the chime of the elevator. I had no idea what we were going to do after the baby was born. That was something we hadn't really discussed. Mulder and I lived in the present.

Catherine and I stepped inside and rode in silence down to the second floor where the conference rooms were. I waddled after her, cursing the damn millennium bug the entire time for robbing me of my afternoon nap. Instead of waiting for me, Catherine walked ahead. I groaned and struggled to keep up. She disappeared in the second room without even holding the door open for me. It slammed loudly behind her. Did I upset her or something?

Frustrated, I finally caught up. I twisted the handle open and walked into a dark room. Were we seeing a video? My eyes struggled to adjust to the lack of light just to be blinded by fluorescent seconds later. I raised my hand instinctively up to shield them.

"Surprise!" came a collective shout before the room exploded with clapping.

My eyes began refocus. The first thing I saw were the pink balloons and streamers strewn everywhere. Next, the large stork cut out taped to the wall holding a baby in a pink blanket.

I was really too startled to speak. Oh yes...I had told Catherine it was a girl.

She wrapped an arm around my shoulders and squeezed."I hope you weren't looking forward to that Y2K meeting!"

"Uh, no," I mumbled, as Dr. Tom Albus came up to take my arm and guide me into the room. Everyone was there, my students, trainees and the other doctors in the forensic lab. Two long tables were set up, one with various plates of appetizers, finger foods and dessert and the other with a pile of presents.

"I know it's a little early, but everyone wanted to have your baby shower this week," Catherine said, as Dr. Albus led me to a chair set up between the tables."Since next week is Thanksgiving and this is the last time we'll all be together before you leave."

"Actually, it's kind of a baby shower-thank you-farewell party," Dr. Albus clarified, with a modest shrug as I eased into the chair."You've been a tremendous help the months you've been here."

I stared at the eager faces surrounding me, overwhelmed by the attention."I-I don't know what to say. I had no idea at all."

"That's good!" Karen Myers exclaimed."We wanted to surprise you."

"I'm surprised," I confirmed, nodding my head. Everyone laughed as I felt my cheeks flush. I didn't expect a shower from anyone. If Melissa were still alive, she would have organized one for me. I hadn't even bothered to register anywhere.

I looked at the pink and white streamers sadly, then at Catherine. She had promised not to say anything, but up until a couple weeks ago, I thought I was having a girl. It was awkward for me to be reminded of the way Mulder and I were deceived. But no one here knew the truth and I smiled widely. Their gesture was touching, even if one small detail was erroneous.

"Thank you," I said, tucking a strand of hair behind my ear."Thank you all. You shouldn't have gone to all this trouble."

"Actually, our motives are selfish. We're trying to convince you to stay," Catherine said, as everyone nodded in agreement."Is it working?"

"It's tempting," I said, biting my lower lip. It was all so foreign to me. This would have never happened at the Hoover building. Everyone there avoided Mulder and I, our reputations preceded us. My hand traveled to my stomach as I caressed my son."But I'm pretty sure the baby's father wants me back in DC."

****

4867 Carriagepark Rd
Fairfax, VA
1:25 p.m.

"Watch your step!" shouted Frohike as he and Byers carried Scully's couch over the threshold. I followed them inside cautiously, unsure of what I was walking into.

"Hey Mulder!" called Langly, waving at me from across the room. He was reassembling Scully's kitchen table. I didn't think it came apart...

"Hey," I said, waving back less than enthusiastically. I had raced over during lunch to supervise. After some convincing, Scully decided to let me move her furniture out of her apartment. With any luck, we'd both be 'playing house' next week when she came home for Thanksgiving. Moe, Larry and Curly seemed to have gotten most of Scully's things here in one piece, with the exception of the table.

"We've still got another truck load left," Byers said, wiping his forehead with a handkerchief delicately. He was wearing coveralls, but I bet he had his suit on underneath. His tie was just visible at the neckline.

"Then, do you want us to start on your stuff?" Frohike asked, as he readjusted the bandana on his head.

"Not yet," I said, looking around the house to avoid his gaze. Scully was so dead against living together before marriage that I wasn't sure how she'd take it if she found all my stuff here too. I wanted her to move in right away. After all, I bought this house for her and I wanted her to feel comfortable. The last thing I wanted her to do was feel pressure from me.

"I mean, her furniture is much nicer than mine. I don't know where I'm going to put my stuff," I continued, fumbling for an excuse.

"Okay," Frohike answered, but I could tell he sensed my apprehension."By the way, you had a phone call this morning."

"A phone call?" I asked, surprised. The line was only activated since yesterday. No one had it yet. Not even Scully.

"Yeah," Langly said, coming towards me."We didn't have the trace set up, but it was a woman."

"A woman," I repeated, eyeing each of them."Who answered the call?"

"I did," Byers said, picking up a small pad of paper and reading off it."She said her name was Paula and she had to get a hold of you immediately. I told her to call the office."

"Who's Paula?" asked Frohike suspiciously.

"Some real estate agent," I lied, keeping my face steady."Thanks."

Langly and Byers headed back to the truck, while Frohike watched me for a few minutes longer trying to break my resolve as if I'd divulge the secret identity of the caller once we were alone. He was wrong. I pretended to check the furniture for dings and scratches long enough for him to get the hint and join the other two outside.

I picked up the pad of paper and stared at the message. Mentally substituting the name Marita for Paula.

Something gnawed at my insides, something that had been there ever since I found out about the switched film. The baby girl who mysteriously shared the same DNA with me. The child who in all genetic probability was Samantha's. Thoughts of Marita's pregnancy would find their way into my brain and screw with my rationale. Was she carrying this child? The pregnancy was perfectly timed to coincide with the Syndicate's demise and Marita's release. I shuddered at the thought of them creating children from Samantha's ova like they did with Scully. I knew Samantha was already the subject of their experiments many times over, many of them genetic. What was it about her DNA that made her so appealing to them? Was that the true reason she was taken away so many years ago?

I walked up the stairs silently in measured steps. Before I knew it, I found myself standing in the center of the baby's room. The blinds cast shadows over the stark white walls purposely left blank. My feel sunk into the new carpet of soft neutral gray. I jammed my hands in my pocket as I walked the perimeter of the room. There was no furniture to obstruct my path.

This is the room of the future, I thought. The empty walls are waiting patiently for it to begin.

I knew the logical reason for its barren condition; I had promised Scully she could decorate it. But my mind knew the true reason for my hesitation.

Samantha. Always Samantha.


****


Truman Federal Building
St. Louis, Missouri
12:30 p.m.

I tore through the soft pastel paper of a small box with anticipation. So far, I'd been given a layette, a diaper bag, a mobile, a high chair and a stroller. Only the layette was pink, the other items could be for a boy or a girl. Word would probably come down after the birth that it was a boy. Thankfully, I never told Catherine I had an amniocentesis and ultrasounds can never be 100% certain for a girl.

"A baby monitor," I exclaimed, overwhelmed by the generosity of my co-workers. I suppressed the urge to cry, but a few tears escaped anyway. They had no idea how much this meant to me. The only other shower I was probably going to get would be from Langly, Byers and Frohike and only God knows what they had planned.

"They're wonderful," Catherine said, picking up empty plates across the room."Now you can keep tabs on the baby."

"Can I use it on Mulder?" I asked, as soft laughter and whispers began around the room. It was the first time I'd admitted to the others that he was indeed the father. After this, I guess they deserved to know the rumors flying around were true.

"Sure can," Dr. Albus said."I know my wife used it on me a couple times!"

"Here," said Myers, handing me another box."This one is from me."

"You shouldn't have," I said, scolding her gently. "You've got medical school to pay for."

"It's just a little something," she shrugged."Hope you don't already have one."

"I don't really have anything," I said, laying the package on my lap and unwrapping it carefully."I was going to do my shopping after I got back. Oh Karen..."

Inside was a Precious Moments baby book. I ran my hand over the cover slowly as it blurred in front of me. I had started one weeks ago but had to stop after the switch of the film. Now I could start a new one for my son with no mistakes.

"Thank you," I said, as Karen reached over to hug me carefully."This means a lot to me."

"I know you like to document," she replied."Judging from the way you organize your forensic reports!"

I laughed."I will admit I'm thorough."

"More than thorough, you're retentive!" Dr. Albus said, popping another stuffed mushroom in his mouth."You make me look bad!"

Years of doing the majority of the reporting the X-file made me that way. Mulder's half-ass job of paperwork often left Skinner breathing down my neck for something more concrete.

"I think that's it," Catherine said, surveying the gift table carefully. It was covered in empty plastic cups and plates."No wait, there's one more."

"I can't believe you went to all this trouble," I said for the hundredth time. She handed a small, flat package to me."Thank you all so much. The baby and I appreciate it...you're making it hard for me to leave."

"That's the point," answered Catherine, as she started to cover food back up.

"Thank you," I said again, pulling corners away from the plain white tissue paper that wrapped the final gift."I just can't say that enough."

I looked down at the small box. It was a 3 x 5 silver picture frame with the word 'baby' in building blocks engraved down the side. I held it up for everyone to see."This is lovely. Who's it from?"

All eyes in the room looked around, trying to see a raised hand. I glanced back at Catherine, who shrugged as she wiped the table down.

"They must have left," she surmised.

Curiosity got the better of me and I decided to open the box. I pulled out the bubble wrapped frame and unwound it slowly. I tossed the wrap aside and turned the frame over.

What I saw made my fingers tremble and I nearly dropped it on the ground.

Inside the frame was a wedding picture. I forced myself to keep smiling as I gripped it so tight in my hand that my knuckles turned white.

Despite her much shorter hair and youthful appearance, the bride was Diana Fowley. And the groom...was Mulder...


****


J. Edgar Hoover Building
Washington, DC
3:00 p.m.

"Is the Assistant Director in?" I asked, looking at his red-haired secretary. She stopped typing and swiveled her chair to face me.

"Yes, he is Agent Mulder," she began, glancing over at the closed door."But he's…"

"Thanks," I said, reaching the door faster than she could protest."I owe you one."

"Mul-der," she scolded, frowning as I slipped inside his office.

Skinner was hunched over his desk, absorbed in paperwork. He glared up at my intrusive visit."I'm busy, Agent."

"Can I have a word with you, Sir?" I asked as politely as I could without sounding like a smart-ass."It will only take a minute."

"A minute," he acquiesced, leaning back in his chair to give me his attention."What is it you want?"

I decided not to sit down and kept standing. I shoved my hands in my pockets and gave Skinner full advantage of my height as I stared at him.

"I was hoping you know the whereabouts of Agent Fowley, Sir," I said quickly. I watched his reaction intently.

Skinner pressed his lips together and tapped his pen on the desk."She is no longer under my supervision, Agent Mulder. Is this a professional inquiry?"

I narrowed my eyes a little. He knew a hell of a lot more than what he was letting on. Including our past together.

"No," I answered quietly."It's personal."

"I believe you can leave a message for Agent Fowley on the service if you need to get a hold of her," he replied, looking back down at his work. He raised his eyebrows at me impatiently."Anything else?"

I shook my head. Whatever situation they put Skinner in regarding Diana obviously left him compromised and he wasn't about to divulge any information to me. She vanished without a trace months ago only to reappear in the parking garage asking about Scully's pregnancy. And I'm supposed to believe she's been"on assignment" all this time?

I think I know her better than that.

"Thank you, Sir," I said, exiting the office. I smiled at his secretary as I left to return to the basement.

Today was November 19th. Marita should have had the baby thirteen days ago, according the due date she'd given me. I couldn't even be sure it was really Marita that called.

Once back in my office, I pulled out my wallet and fished around for a small piece of paper tucked between my credit cards. I dialed the number scrawled across it, impatiently tapping my foot as the phone rang.

"Psychiatrics," someone answered at the Oregon State Hospital.

"My name is Fox Mulder and I'm with the FBI. I'm trying to reach a social worker. Anne Tucker?" I asked, remembering the dark haired woman who had allowed me to visit Marita last month.

"Anne is no longer with the facility," she answered curtly."Can someone else help you?"

"Actually, I'm trying to reach a patient," I pressed, not wanting to go through another level of hospital bureaucracy."Paula Finley?"

I promised myself this matter was closed. But that was before I knew about the switched film and Samantha's"daughter." If I had to, I was prepared to fly out to Portland again. I could leave tonight if necessary. With Thanksgiving days away, I wasn't going to be flying out to see Scully this weekend. This might be my only chance to find out what the hell was going on.

"I'm sorry, you'll need authorization," she replied.

"From the doctor?" I asked.

"No, the police."


****


Scully's Apartment
St. Louis, MO
5:35 p.m.

"Watch your step," I said, as Catherine hauled the huge box that held a Graco high chair. She followed me home in her Jeep Cherokee after loading it up with my shower presents.

All except the one I carried myself.

It was hard pretending to be happy when inside I felt like screaming. I kept a placid smile on my face for Catherine's sake. I didn't want her to suspect there was anything wrong.

"Is that everything?" I asked, as she pulled the box to the center of the living room beside the others.

"Should be," she replied, brushing her hands off. "I'd say you made quite a haul."

"I still can't believe you got all that together right under my nose," I said, fingering the picture frame. I was burning with curiosity as to how that present got mixed in with the others. The most obvious of answers was the one I did not wish to consider; that someone I work with is connected to them. Or perhaps someone was asked to bring it innocently.

"Well, I've had two showers myself and I know how important they are," she replied, surveying my apartment carefully."When it's the first one, you have to start from scratch. It's amazing how much one tiny little baby needs."

"I'm finding that out," I nodded, pretending to yawn. I closed my eyes, wishing I could blot everything in my life out except my son. He was all that kept me sane.

"Are you tired?" Catherine asked, picking up it.

"I did miss my nap today," I replied, forcing myself to smile."And I've had quite a bit of excitement."

Catherine moved towards me."I better get going. I have to get Jordie and Christie out of day care by six o'clock or else they charge for every minute I'm late. Hope they are more lenient in DC!"

"Me, too," I said, as Catherine wrapped her arm around me.

"I am going to miss you, Dana," she said, hugging me tighter.

"Thank you, Catherine," I said, trying not to cry. I choked back a sob at the physical contact, needing the embrace of a friend but scared to trust her with this.

"Are you sure you're going to be okay?" she asked, her maternal instincts kicking into overdrive."Is Agent Mulder coming in this weekend?"

"No," I replied, keeping my voice from trembling. "But I have plans. I won't be alone."

"Good," she said, releasing me."I'll see you on Monday. Take care, Dana."

"You too," I replied. My eyes followed Catherine down the hallway as she left. On her way to get her kids and go home where her husband was waiting for her. Returning to her normal life. Did she know how lucky she was?

I closed the door and walked slowly back to the couch, grabbing the picture frame. I pulled it out of the box to study it closer. It must have been taken years ago judging from Diana's age. Mulder didn't look that different, except for the worry lines on his face were few and far between. Diana was wearing a plain, cream dress and Mulder, a suit. It looked like a civil wedding; it certainly was not taken in a church. I knew for fact Mulder would never marry in a church.

Neither one was really smiling.

My mind raced to all the times he could have told me about this. All her months on the X-files with Jeffrey Spender and Mulder didn't bother to say a word. I was right never to trust her, maybe I should have been less trusting with Mulder.

Inside me, my son moved around. Kicking me hard in the side before settling back down. I was certain Mulder would give me every excuse in the book for not telling me. I heard them playing out in my head over and over again like a broken record. It was a long time ago. I made a mistake. I didn't want to hurt you. All the times he defended her suddenly made sense to me. She was more than just his partner. She was his wife.

My eyes were blurry with unfallen tears and I angrily wiped them away. No. I wasn't going to sit and speculate what the circumstances were surrounding their union. I wasn't going to call Mulder either.

I knew of one other person who could explain the photograph and the circumstances surrounding it. I could be on a plane tomorrow or even tonight if I had to.

I reached for the phone.


****

Oregon State Hospital
Portland, Oregon
8:30 a.m.

I had taken a red-eye flight out to Portland. Like before, Skinner arranged it so I could get in to see her. But with the police involved, it had become much more complicated. This time my visit was official, since she was still part of the witness protection program.

She was in a different part of the hospital than before. Behind locked doors and pass cards and guards. I followed the police officer as he led me to her room and unlocked the door.

The room was stark and bare. White walls. White floor. White sheets huddled around a small figure lying with its back to the door.

"You have a visitor," said the officer, getting her attention.

Marita rolled over slowly. She looked like she was under sedation, but raised her head up.

"Mulder?" she asked, straining to see me.

I nodded, then turned my attention to the uniform."Can we have a few minutes alone?"

Without a word, he shut the door. Marita got up and reached for a thick robe lying across the foot of the bed. She wrapped it around herself then pulled a pair of slippers on her feet. Marita folded her arms and walked over to me, her whole body trembling as she moved.

"Did you call me?" I asked, not sure how to begin the conversation.

"No," she answered, looking down at her feet."I'm not allowed to make phone calls."

Her cold fingers reached out for mine. We touched briefly before I pulled my hand away. Angrily, she glared up at me.

"You think I did it, don't you?" she said accusingly. Tears welled in her pale eyes, which were already red and swollen.

"What did you do with the baby, Marita?" I asked softly. I dropped my voice to just above a whisper. I knew she never felt anything towards the child, she told me herself. Only her affiliation with the protection program kept the accusations against her out of the media. Otherwise, she would have been crucified all over the country.

"I didn't DO anything," she pleaded, shaking her head. Her eyes were filled with fear. Marita's hand clutched her empty stomach from where the baby was."They took her, just like I said they would."

"That's not what the police think," I said, prepared to interrogate her to the best of my abilities. I was ready to break her down and tear the truth from her."They say you killed your baby."

"That's not what happened," she continued."That's what they want you to believe. Don't you see? The Syndicate made sure my sanity was in question all along. Anne, she was one of them."

"Then you tell me what happened," I demanded, grabbing her by the arm and guiding her back to the bed. I sat her down on the edge and waited for her explanation.

Marita looked small and lost inside the robe. Her skin and face were missing the healthy glow of pregnancy and her pale pallor had returned. She must have lost most of the weight as well, since she was sickly thin again and wasting away to nothing. Only her hair was the same; except her blonde roots were showing under the brown dye.

"Shortly after you came," she said, lying back against the pillow."My doctor released me. Anne was still my social worker, so she kept tabs on me that way and through home health care. I never went into labor. I never even had a contraction. And one night, they came with needles and injections. I tried to struggle and get away, but I couldn't."

"Who came for you?" I asked, wanting her to name names or give descriptions.

"Anne Tucker and a nurse. They drugged me," she continued, as her face twisted in pain at the memory. From her eyes fell silent tears, spilling out over her cheeks, nose and lips."Gave me something to induce labor. I woke up in a laboratory just like the one at Ft. Marlene. Except my hands and feet were strapped to a birthing chair."

A mysterious pregnancy and forced birth, the same story had been recounted by abductees hundreds of times. During Scully's abduction, I even imagined a similar procedure being done to her.

"I never saw their faces, they were blurry and the pain was so intense I couldn't concentrate. One person held my hand and told me when to push. She wiped my forehead and assured me everything was fine," Marita continued, her whole body shaking. She swallowed gulps of air in an attempt to steady her breathing.

"Where were you Marita?" I asked, wondering if they had taken her to a train car or secret facility."Can you tell me what was around you?"

"I can't," she stuttered."Everything was too bright. Too cold. All I remember is the pain shooting through me over and over again. There was a problem and I couldn't push hard enough. The doctor had to use forceps to get her out. I did hear her cry, Agent Mulder. They laid her on my stomach briefly and I saw her for just a minute. Then, the woman took her away."

"Did you see the woman's face?" I asked, pacing slightly.

"No, she had a mask on too. But her voice was so familiar," Marita continued, wiping her face with her sleeve."I don't know what they are going to do with her, but I'm scared."

"The police said you were found in your apartment," I began, retelling the report I was given this morning."Your bed sheets were soaked in blood and there was evidence you had the baby there. No drugs were found in your system that would suggest you were induced."

"I couldn't have given birth by myself, not like that. They took her from me like I told you they would," she said, shaking her head.

"There's no physical evidence to confirm your story," I continued, wondering how far to push her. Her confession to me was under the false assumption I was here on her behalf when I was not. I was here for the baby. I needed to know for sure if she was alive."Marita. I can't help you unless you give me something more than just this story."

She clutched at my arm, afraid I was going to turn around and leave her."I don't have anything, Mulder. They took it all away. Everything."

I shook myself free. Marita buried her head in her hands, her back heaving as she sobbed. I stared around the empty room, her cries echoed off the walls. Were they tears of pain? Or deception?

Her hair spilled off her neck, framing her face in wispy, brown feathers. It was such a sharp contrast to her skin. My eyes followed the curve of her neck to where it disappeared into her robe. I squinted and came closer, my eyes seeing something disturbingly familiar.

I came closer to her, hand reaching for the collar of her robe. I pushed the fabric back.

"What are you doing?" she cried, trying to sit back up.

"Hold still," I whispered, as my fingers brushed along her vertebrae. There, the skin was raised and puckered and pink. The thin ridge of a telltale scar. Smaller than an inch, but big enough for an implant. Scully had a similar one in exactly the same spot.

"What is it?" she cried.

"I don't think they took everything, Marita," I whispered.


****

Teena Mulder's Home
Greenwich, Connecticut
1:30 p.m.

I stood on the porch and knocked. After a few minutes, I heard the rattling of keys and locks. Teena Mulder pulled back the door.

"Dana," she said, her face looking drawn and sullen. She was still recovering from her bypass surgery. She had lost weight and her eyes looked dull and sedate. So unlike the bright fire that burns in her son's eyes."Please come in."

"Thank you," I said, moving past her. I clutched my briefcase tighter. I had spend the night with Mulder here the night she was in the hospital. If I had known then what I know now, I might have looked a little more carefully at the pictures that were hung on her wall. But none of them included Diana Fowley or Bill Mulder. Just Mulder and Samantha, forever eight.

"Your phone call worried me last night," she said, holding her arm out and motioning me to sit down."You shouldn't be traveling this far by yourself."

"I had to come," I replied, easing onto the couch. I'd taken an early flight this morning to Greenwich. Teena Mulder sat down next to me, her eyes darting between my stomach and my face.

"Is the baby okay?" she asked, wrapping her sweater around her body protectively."Does Mulder know you're here?"

"No. Because he would have tried to explain this himself and I wanted it to come from you," I said. I opened the briefcase and pulled out the wedding picture. My hand shook as I handed it to her."You didn't send this to me, did you?"

Her fingers brushed over Mulder's face and she sighed heavily. "No. I have no pictures of that day. I wasn't there and neither was Bill. Where did you get this?"

"Someone gave it to me as a shower gift," I said, carefully watching her expression change."But I know who she is."

"Of course you do," Teena replied. Her face grew dark and unreadable. I knew that look well. It was one I'd seen on her son a thousand times. She closed her eyes and whispered,"She's responsible for the baby, isn't she? That's why you came here."

My heart sunk in my chest at the mere suggestion that Diana Fowley would have anything to do with our child. If anything, I was certain she had something to do with my infertility and that of the MUFON women. Her mysterious years in Europe made me suspect as much. My heart pounded in my chest as I stared at his mother. Choosing my next words very carefully.

"Yes," I replied, wetting the corner of my mouth. I felt I had stumbled upon something much bigger than just a secret marriage and I had to find out what it was."That's why you were confused when I told you in the hospital, wasn't it? You know I'm supposed to be infertile."

"They told me once Samantha probably wouldn't be able to have children on her own," she said, more to herself than me.

"I was told the same thing. They took my ova during my abduction," I whispered, feeling the hairs on the back of my neck stand straight up. What was she saying? What did she know?

She stared at me."You love my son, don't you?"

I opened my mouth to speak, feeling my lower lip tremble. Tears were stinging my eyes as I kept my eyes locked with hers. Through my hurt and confusion and anger, I nodded slowly."Yes, I do."

"You would have done anything to give him this," she continued, laying her hand on my stomach. She closed her eyes as she rubbed the baby gently."It's a terrible thing to have your children taken away from you. Even before they are born."

"I wanted a baby," I whispered, as the tears slipped down my cheeks. Still, lies poured from my mouth as I desperately tried to get the truth from her."I never thought I'd ever have one. You understand what's that's like, don't you?"

"Yes," she said, pulling her hand away. Her voice grew small and distant."I was like you, Dana. I was infertile too. They promised me they could help us have a family. Back then, the procedures were new and radical and in-vitro fertilization highly controversial. Still, I wanted a baby more than anything."

"You turned to them?" I surmised, referring to the Smoking Man and the Syndicate. She needed no clarification, since she nodded in agreement.

"I made a deal behind Bill's back. One child would be ours. One would not. I had no idea until they came for her," she said, her own tears falling down her face. Was I the first person to learn her secret?

"Samantha?" I asked carefully.

"She was our daughter, or so they said," she answered. "Which is why Bill had to give her up. They made the decision for us long ago. My baby girl…she was my baby girl."

"Do you know who Mulder's father is?" I asked, staring her straight in the eye. I swallowed the lump in my throat, fearful she would stop talking.

"Does it matter?" she asked, covering her face in her hands. She pressed her fingertips to her eyes, as if trying to force the memories away."I made a terrible mistake years ago by agreeing to be a part of this. I deceived my husband."

"He never knew?" I asked, clenching my fists together to keep them from trembling. How could she have shared this with Mulder?

"No," she replied."There were ways of...procuring...so he never suspected Fox and Sam weren't conceived naturally. Did she give you the same choice?"

She assumed I had made a similar decision behind Mulder's back. My body began to shake nervously. I forced myself to calm down, for the baby's sake.

"This is Mulder's child," I said, with conviction and confidence. I was nothing like her. I would never make a deal over the life of my child. I clenched my jaw."I promise you that."

"I know," she breathed, reaching over to my stomach again. Did she know I was lying to her?"I only hope I live long enough to see him."

"You're getting better," I said, hearing something foreboding in her tone."Mulder told me you were recovering."

"I'm dying, Dana," she said softly.


****

Oregon State Hospital
Portland, Oregon
11:45 a.m.

I stared at the x-rays hanging on the light box as I waited. There was an implant in Marita's neck. Its solid, metal body visible on the film. What secrets did this one contain? Was it alien in origin? Man-made? Was it the same one implanted in Scully?

They were removing it so I could take it back with me and have it analyzed. Marita would remain here until the investigation was completed or until a body was found. I didn't know if I could get her out of here, but the implant would give me something to bargain with. I was certain she was telling the truth when she said she did not kill her baby. Marita was many things, but I knew she wasn't a murderer. I knew from past experience that we wouldn't have a lot of time to examine it, since Marita would need the implant back as soon as possible.

The x-ray could have been Scully's. I remember seeing one just like it years ago. I promised myself I would tell her about this, now that I had some kind of evidence to bring back. Something tangible and scientific she could analyze instead of just another wild theory. We had so much at stake now. This wasn't just for our future, but for the future of our son.

"Agent Mulder?"

I turned around to see a man standing in the doorway wearing hospital scrubs and a mask. In his gloved hands, was a vial.

"This is what we removed," the doctor said, holding it out to me."Do you know what that is?"

"No," I answered, holding it up to the light. I instantly recognized its tiny form."But I have seen it before."

"Do you think it has something to do with her story?" he asked, pulling the cap off his head.

"I'm certain it does," I answered, not wanting to give too much away."Thank you. I'm taking it back with me for testing."

He started to go, but stopped."Do you want to see her? It was just a few stitches and she's back in her room already."

"No," I replied, looking up at him. I closed my hand around the vial protectively."There's someone who needs to see this as soon as possible. I will call her when I get back."

"All right," he said, leaving me alone. The door swung behind him.

I pulled my cell phone out and glanced at my watch. It was almost three o'clock in St. Louis. Hopefully I'd catch Scully at home. My flight was leaving shortly and I made sure I would be stopping over at Lambert. This couldn't wait one second longer. I'd already waited too long.

I rolled the vial around my palm as the phone rang and rang. The implant shifted around inside."C'mon, Scully…pick up."

"Beep. This is Dana Scully. Please leave a message. Beep," said her recorded voice.

"It's me," I said."Call me as soon as you get in."

I tried her cell phone next, but there was no answer there either. I felt nervous when she didn't pick up. Scully always had her cell phone with her. I looked at the time again, calculating exactly when I'd be in St. Louis. I was hesitant to leave any other messages besides ones asking for her to call me. This was something I needed to tell her face to face. I knew I'd catch all kinds of hell since I haven't told her, but I now had her blessed scientific evidence. I hoped it would provide another clue about Samantha's daughter, if my theory was correct.

****

Lambert International
St. Louis, Missouri
8:30 p.m.

"Luggage from TWA flight 726 is now arriving on carousel six. Luggage from TWA flight 726 is now arriving on carousel six."

I waited impatiently for my bags. I was uncomfortable, tired and hungry. Two flights in one day was pushing it and I felt my entire body ache. I had to get home and rest.

I reached for my cell phone and checked my messages. There were several from Mulder on the service and my answering machine. Obviously, he was wondering where I disappeared today. I dropped the phone back in my pocket. I wasn't really ready to talk to him.

I went to Greenwich to find out about his marriage and instead discovered his mother's darkest secret. Somehow that overshadowed my anger at him and put me in a compromised position. His mother thought I was part of the same experiment she was. She told me she was dying, something I was certain Mulder did not know.

My luggage finally came tumbling down the belt and I awkwardly grabbed it off the rack. The porter helped me extend the handle so I could roll it through the airport to wait for a taxi.

I walked slowly, not having the energy to go any faster. I dragged the suitcase up the escalator to the main terminal. It was busy at Lambert, people were everywhere waiting at the ticket counter and I moved through them, heading for the doors. If I wasn't so tired, I would turn around and get on the next flight out of here. Somewhere far, far away so I could think things through. Try to make sense of the lies and the truth and find out where Mulder and I fit in. If we did at all. I tuned everything else out and got lost in my thoughts. Through the windows I could see the taxicabs lined up and I kept walking.

"Scully," came a voice through the muffled crowd. Jolting me out of my self-absorbed thoughts.

I stopped for a second and looked around. Now I was hearing things.

"Scully!"

Mulder? No…it couldn't be. I kept on walking. Determined to make it outside. But out of the corner of my eyes, I saw him.

"Scull-lee!"

Dear God, what was he doing here?

My heart raced as he came towards me. He was wearing a suit. I thought he was staying at home and working on our house? I wanted to run as far and as fast as I could from him, but my feet were anchored to the floor.

"I tried calling you all day, but your cell was off," he said, clutching me by the shoulders. It was obvious I had just stepped off a plane and I couldn't come up with a clever excuse to my whereabouts.

"What are you doing here?"

"I could ask you the same thing," I replied, shaking his touch off.

Mulder narrowed his eyes at me, then looked down. Before I could yank it away, he grabbed the handle of my suitcase, looking at the flight tag dangling from it.

"Greenwich?" he read, questioning me with his eyes. "You were in Greenwich?"

"Yes," I replied, barely able to contain my emotions. I swallowed the lump in my throat and started to walk.

"You went to see my mom?" he asked, catching up with me."Scully, wait…"

"Wait?" I snapped, turning around."Wait for what? For you to lie to me about your whereabouts? I know you weren't in Virginia today and I'm sure you didn't fly down here just to surprise me."

His face grew solemn and expressionless. Just like his mother's. "No, Scully. I wasn't in Virginia. I was in Portland."

"Portland?" I repeated, glaring at him. He walked towards me, laying his hand on my shoulder again. My mind remembered something about that city. Wasn't he just there a few weeks ago?

"Yes," he confirmed, looking around the airport. I started to move away from him again, but he held on tight."Scully, can you give me a chance to explain?

I stopped struggling long enough for Mulder to reach down and take my suitcase from me. I was relieved not to be carrying the weight, but I hated depending on him at the moment. I held onto my briefcase closely, not wanting to be separated from it.

Mulder took hold of my coat sleeve and pulled me over to an alcove. We were right against the huge windows that overlooked the runways. I leaned against the railing, trying to take some weight off my feet. Inside me, my stomach churned and a felt nauseous but I tried to maintain my cool exterior.

"I'll tell you what happened in Portland if you tell me what you were doing in Greenwich," he began, fixing me with his penetrating stare."You shouldn't be traveling by yourself this close to your due date."

"I went to see your mother," I answered curtly.

"Is she all right?" he asked, as worry lines creased his forehead.

"Her health wasn't the reason for my visit," I continued, swinging my briefcase around to reach in. I kept the photograph face down, not wanting to see it again. I nearly threw it at Mulder, he caught it against his chest."That was."

He cautiously turned the photo over, keeping his eyes locked with mine until the last possible second. When he finally looked down, a small gasp escaped his lips.

"Where did you get this?" he whispered, clenching his teeth as he stared at it.

"A shower gift," I replied, folding my arms around myself to keep from shaking."My co-workers threw me a surprise shower on Friday and that ended up on the gift table inside a silver baby frame."

"So you decided to ask my mother about it?" he asked, hurt and confusion in his eyes.

"I wanted the truth, Mulder," I snapped, desperately trying to keep my composure. I felt my body tremble as my voice began crack. "I was all prepared to confront her about your relationship with Diana but. . ."

"But what?" he pressed, as his hands cupped my face. My fingers curled around his wrist ready to pull them away, but I couldn't.

"She told me something else instead," I finished, scared to continue."Something about you and Samantha. . .


****


Samantha. Always Samantha.

She was angry. Very angry. But that anger dissolved into something else as she stood before me. Jesus, what the hell happened? Who the hell sent this to her?

Scully was shaking and I knew whatever my mother told her went far beyond my ill-fated marriage to Diana. My hands slipped from her face and rested on either side of her stomach instead. She shouldn't be this upset. I was certain it wasn't good for either of them.

"Scully," I said, desperate to find out what my mother said that upset her this much."What did she say about Samantha?"

She gripped my shoulders and drew me closer for privacy. I wrapped an arm protectively around her and rotated us towards the window. Scully turned her attention to the runway below to avoid a face-to-face confrontation.

"I don't know how to tell you, Mulder," she began, her crystal blue eyes reflecting the red taillights of the planes."She...she was infertile like me."

"Infertile?" I repeated, shaking my head. My mother?

"They told her they could give her the baby she wanted. But she had to agree to their conditions," she said, forcing the words from her mouth. She was flustered and wasn't making much sense.

"Which were?" I asked, trying to steady her. It made me sick to think of them experimenting on my mother the same way they did with Cassandra Spender.

"She had to have two children," Scully continued, struggling to condense her thoughts."One would be hers and Bill's and the other would not."

"Are you saying my mother…agreed to this?" I asked, finally realizing what she was trying to tell me."Scully, I don't understand why she would tell you this."

"Because I'm pregnant," she answered, looking up at me."Because of Diana. Because she made a deal with them."

"Diana?" I asked, remembering how I found her in my mother's hospital room. It was all coming together now. She said she was there for my mother, what exactly did she mean by that? What happened between them before I got there?

"She's part of it, Mulder," Scully said, moving away from me."Her marriage to you was all a lie. I know that. She was supposed to keep you from finding Samantha. From finding out the truth about your mother."

"Scully," I whispered, as my mind tried to piece the information together."I know she's a part of it. She came to see her in the hospital after the heart attack."

Her eyes grew bigger as her eyes searched mine and saw betrayal. "Diana was there and you didn't tell me?"

"I couldn't," I answered, knowing any feeble excuse wouldn't be enough for her. I grabbed for her palm and forced her to open it. Scully struggled against my touch, but I was much stronger."I couldn't tell you until I had some kind of evidence. Scientific proof for you."

I reached inside my pocket and dropped the vial in her hand. Scully's blinked at it, not believing what she was seeing.

"What is this?" she asked, taking it from me."Another implant?"

"Yes," I said, letting her step away from me. She held it up, examining the implant from all angles."That's why I was in Portland. Whatever is on that chip has information about whatever Diana and my mother are involved with. And hopefully, about Samantha's daughter."

***

Part Eight

4867 Carriagepark Rd
Fairfax, VA
8:15 p.m.

"Mom, you missed a spot," I said, blowing a strand of hair out of my eyes. I arched my back, trying to stretch my aching muscles.

"Where, honey?" she asked, standing up to survey her work.

"There," I answered, indicating a small spot of white amid a field of purple. We had divided the room into two colors. The top was a pale blue, the color of the sky. It stopped in the middle, then switched to the purple. Where they met would be covered with a wallpaper border. I was going to sponge paint clouds on the ceiling. Now, how I was going to reach the ceiling was another story.

"I'm too old for this," she said, with a smile before leaning over to touch up the paint. I had finally settled on a theme for the nursery and was anxious to get started. I only had two weeks left to go and had been busy with other things.

"You really should have Mulder help you," she chided, casting a disparaging look over her shoulder at me.

"Things are complicated, Mom," I said, as I collected the used paintbrushes in a bucket. I glanced at my watch. Had to give her credit; she waited a full three hours, twenty-four minutes and eight seconds before mentioning his name.

"Things are not complicated, Dana," she said, straightening back up again."You're just avoiding him. He should be the one painting this room. It is his child, too."

I groaned, rubbing my stomach in small circles. Another lecture. The same one I'd heard on Thanksgiving when I arrived on her doorstep without him. So much had happened and I was still trying to make sense of it all.

After finding me in the airport, Mulder changed his flight so we could talk. It was then I learned what he was doing behind my back. On Skinner's request, he visited a pregnant Marita Covarrubias. A product of the genetic experiments of the late Consortium. I also learned Diana Fowley was at the hospital after his mother's heart attack, speaking in cryptic riddles of family and obligation. Did she even know what those words meant?

My assignment in St. Louis ended last Friday and I came back over the weekend to find Mulder had all my stuff moved out of my apartment and into the house. I told him I wanted some time away from him and he respected my wishes. I unrolled the wallpaper border I had picked out on my own this morning. Winnie the Pooh stared up at me innocently, standing next to his jar of honey and Eeyore. Oh, how I wished I could crawl into the border with him. The image of Pooh became watery and unfocused as I imagined doing just that.

Suddenly, my mother's hands were on my trembling shoulders and she gently rubbed my arms.

"Dana?" she inquired, turning me around to face her. She had to step back to avoid being hit by my huge belly."I'm sorry."

"I'm really sick of these mood swings," I said, drying my tears on the back of my sleeve."And hemorrhoids, heartburn, indigestion, bloating, cravings and vomiting."

"And?" she pressed, raising her eyebrow at me.

"And Mulder," I finished, knowing he was the reason for my mixed-up emotions. I ran my hand through my hair, smoothing back the strands that escaped from my ponytail."Why did you go and mention his name? We were doing fine without him."

"This is fine?" she asked, surveying me from head to toe."Don't lie to me Dana, I'm your mother."

"And it was all right for Mulder to lie to me?" I retorted. She knew the whole, sordid story in painful detail.

"No," she answered."No, it wasn't. But he was trying to protect you and the baby."

"We don't need his protection," I said, nearly spitting the words out. I felt what was left of my resolve crumble in another hormone-induced crying spell."We just need..."

"Him," Mom finished, wrapping her arm around my shoulders.

I blubbered like an idiot for the next ten minutes, clinging to my mother like a little girl. Why the hell my life so damn complicated? I couldn't live with him and I couldn't live without him. Either way, I felt miserable. Deep down, I must really love Mulder.

"There's a reason this is coming out now," she said, rocking me gently."You need to make a decision, Dana. Forget about the conspiracies and the lies and past for a moment and think about what you want. I can't explain why Mulder did what he did, but I can tell you why he did it. Fear. He loves you more than anything and is scared to death of losing you."

"Mulder's whole life has been one manipulation after another," I said, looking into her soft, brown eyes."Starting with his own birth, Samantha's abduction, his marriage to Diana and the X-files. I don't think he knows how much responsibility he has to this baby."

"He does," my mother said, smoothing my hair back. "He bought you this house. He keeps asking you to marry him. He brought you back scientific evidence so you'd believe him. I'd say he's making every effort to be responsible to you both."

"I don't want this child to be a part of that world, Mom," I said, shaking my head adamantly."But I feel us both being pulled into it all over again."

"I think Mulder is trying to find closure right now," she surmised, her hands on either side of my face."Finding out his father wasn't really his father and his mother was a part of an experiment like you were must have been devastating. She probably knows a lot more about Samantha's child, the one whose amnio was switched for yours. He feels an obligation to Samantha to find out the truth."

"I've been researching the chip, Mom. I couldn't find any answers for him," I said. Despite whatever problems we were having personally, I was supporting him professionally."I don't understand its purpose anymore than I understand the one inside me."

"When are you seeing him again?" she asked, laying her hands on my stomach.

"Tomorrow morning," I replied."We're meeting at the Hoover Building to go over our findings before he has to take the chip back to Marita."

"I want you to remember one thing, Dana," she said, firmly."You and Mulder are in control of your lives. Not them. The two of you have been to hell and back on numerous occasions and you're still together. Professionally. Personally. They can't keep you and Mulder from becoming a family."


****

Teena Mulder's Home
8:25 p.m.

"Fox?" my mother asked, peering through the crack in the door.

"Can I come in?" I said, looking down at her pale face. I wasn't really sure what the hell I was doing here, but I knew I had to see her and I couldn't put it off any longer.

"I'm not sure," she wavered, looking down at the porch. "I don't know if that would be such a good idea."

"I came a long way, Mom. I think we need to talk," I said, pushing the door in as far as it would go. It strained against the chain that kept us separated. Everything was turned upside down after Scully's visit here a couple weeks ago. Whatever was going on with Samantha's baby started with my mother. She had told Scully of my true origins, of an deal made behind my father's back involving both Samantha and me. Only one person could give me the explanations I desperately needed.

"I have nothing to say," she replied, fixing me with a blank stare.

"You had something to say to Scully," I pressed, leaning in closer. And it was enough to make Scully to put as much emotional distance as she could between the two of us. I fucked up big time by not telling her about Diana and Marita before and I deserved whatever hell I was going through right now.

My mother sighed, deep and heavy. She closed the door, in order to unfasten the chain and let me in. Before she could change her mind, I moved past her and inside the house. I was instantly struck by her gaunt figure. She had lost a lot of weight since her heart attack. Too much, in fact, and her clothes hung off her body awkwardly. She did not look well.

"You didn't tell her about your marriage to Diana," my mother said accusingly, turning to face me.

"What marriage? If you could call keeping tabs on me a marriage. That's what she was sent to do. She's part of it," I said defensively. "She always has been, I was just too trusting to see it. I believed you were innocent, too. Until now."

"I wanted a family," my mother said harshly. She folded her arms around her body protectively."For years your father and I tried to have a baby. They said they could make it happen. You don't understand what it's like to want something so badly and know you can't have it."

"Oh, I think I do," I hissed, as images of Scully filled my head. I wanted a life with her more than anything in this world. I couldn't let her down again.

"They said they could make it happen," she replied. "They had the ways and the means of giving us a family. You wouldn't be here if it wasn't for them, Fox."

Her words cut into me. Was I supposed to be grateful? Was it some kind of honor? It made me sick to think about it.

"Who's my real father?" I asked, watching her eyes widen at the question. I walked towards her, bracing myself for her answer. My father must have known all along or at least suspected I wasn't his from the way he distanced himself from me."Didn't they at least tell you that much?"

"It doesn't matter," she said, backing away from me. "You are *my* child every bit as much as Samantha was."

"How can you be sure of that? They could have impregnated you with any embryo. Maybe Sam wasn't taken because she was my father's daughter, that's just what they told you. Maybe she part of the experiment from her conception. There was a reason she was created and why she's continually the subject of these genetic..."

My mother slapped my face, stopping me mid-sentence.

"That's not true, Fox!" she cried, her lips trembling. "You are my son and Samantha is my daughter. I don't ever want to hear you say that again!"

I winced slightly from the sting of where she hit me. Her hands went to her mouth, instantly regretting what she had just done. In her eyes, I saw both fear and anger. I bet this was something she'd suspected for years, but chose to deny it. Perhaps she thought I'd never figure it out.

"There's a baby," I said, regaining my composure. "A baby out there that matches my DNA. In all probability, it's Samantha's child. Maybe she's just another clone, but they made sure I knew about this baby by sending Scully the amniocentesis."

"Samantha has a daughter?" she whispered, keeping her hands folded and pressed to her lips.

"I think so," I nodded."I have reason to believe she was being carried by a surrogate. A surrogate who had been experimented on with the black oil virus and survived." I reached inside my pocket and produced a vial."Someone who had this implanted in her neck."

My mother gasped upon seeing the tiny microchip.

"Scully had one just like it after her abduction. We know of other women who were also taken, experimented on and had this implant. Do you have any idea what it does or what it means?" I pleaded, wishing she would tell me the goddamn truth.

"I've never seen anything like it," she replied, closing her eyes tightly. She couldn't look me in the eye and lie to me. She never could.

She turned her back to me, clutching her bathrobe tight to her body. Suddenly, I was overcome with a impulse that consumed me whole. I walked behind her, grabbing her by the shoulders.

"Fox, get your hands off me!" she protested, trying to shake me off.

But I had to know. I grabbed the back of her robe at the neck and pulled it down. I was horrified at what I saw. A scar identical to the one on Scully and Marita. I froze in place, transfixed by the tiny ridge.

"So now you know," she said, pulling the collar around her neck and holding it shut. Tears screamed down her face."Is that what you came here for?"

"What does it mean?" I breathed."What did they do to you, mom?"


****


J. Edgar Hoover Building
10:05 a.m.

It felt strange to be back in the Hoover Building again. Even stranger to have everyone staring at me. Or rather my stomach. My lab coat and scrubs did nothing to hide my pregnancy now. The staff in St. Louis had seen me everyday and saw the gradual change to my figure. But here, after an absence of nearly three months...I was the topic of discussion once again. People who never gave me the time of day before stopped me in the hallway to inquire about my health and well being.

I waddled out of the elevator and headed to the lab. I wasn't able to get a hold of Mulder all last night. I left message after message for him on his cell phone, his apartment and on the service but he never called back. I was up all night worrying about him. He wasn't in the office this morning; I started calling at eight o'clock hoping to catch him. My only hope was that he was going to make it to our meeting at ten. I was already running late.

"Good morning, Agent Scully," said Dr. Lawrence Phelps, holding the lab door open for me.

"Morning," I replied, equally as courteous. I walked to the back of the lab to the small area I had set up over the weekend to examine the implant. I had run it through every test I could and documented everything, but I couldn't decipher its purpose and function. Mulder had to get it back to Marita. Without it, she'd surely develop the same cancer I had.

I watched the clock as I worked, impatiently wondering if Mulder was going to show up. I prayed he didn't disappear again, I couldn't chase after him this time. Not in my condition.

"Scully?"

I looked up to find Mulder peering in the door.

"Mulder..." I said, rushing over to meet him.

He looked like hell. His eyes were bloodshot and he was in desperate need of a shave. He was wearing jeans and his leather jacket.

"You're late," I said, touching him on the arm gently. Cautiously re-establishing contact with him.

His hazel eyes stared down at me and he smiled faintly."Were you worried?"

I pressed my lips together and nodded."I tried to call you all last night and this morning. Where were you?"

"Greenwich," he replied, weaving in and out of the tables as we headed to the back."I went to see my mom last night and caught a red-eye back to DC."

"What did she say?" I whispered. He'd been avoiding her since my visit, but I knew he was only postponing the inevitable. He had to confront her eventually.

Mulder reached inside his jacket and produced the vial containing Marita's implant. He set it on the table between us and stared at it for a good minute before continuing. Something was wrong, terribly wrong. It was etched into the lines of his face.

"She had one, too," Mulder whispered, meeting my gaze directly."It's true, Scully. I saw it with my own eyes. She had an implant but it was removed during her stay in the hospital."

I swallowed hard, laying my hands over the baby to keep them from shaking."She told me she was dying..."

"She'll develop the cancer, just like you did," Mulder said sadly."She couldn't deny it when I confronted her."

"I'm sorry, Mulder," I said, reaching for his hand. He grabbed my arm instead, pulling me into a awkward hug. I rotated my belly to the side so it wasn't pressing into his stomach. I felt his body shudder as he exhaled. He was exhausted. Emotionally and physically.

"So am I," he said, rocking me gently."Scully, I should have told you. I should have been honest with you from the start about Diana."

"Yes, you should have," I agreed, pulling away from him. I picked up the vial and held it in my hands.

"I don't know how many times I can say this," he pleaded. "I'm sorry. But this baby means more to me than anything and I didn't want them anywhere near you. I didn't want this," he gestured to the chip,"to ever affect our lives again."

"Yet here we are," I said, with a heavy sigh. I held the vial out to him."Right back in the middle where they want us to be. Divided with our trust undermined."

Mulder started to reach out but put his hands on his hips instead. Staring not at the vial but at me. His eyes traveled down to the baby.

"I don't have to get on that plane," he whispered. "Nothing means more to me than you and our son."

"Except Samantha," I said, my voice wavering. I met his gaze and held out the vial farther, coaxing him to take it."After talking with my mother last night, I have a better understanding of why you won't let go of her."

"I love you, Scully," he implored. Mulder's eyes met mine and I fell into their depths.

"You love your family," I clarified, laying the vial back on the table."Or the one you thought you had. Your father is dead and your mother betrayed you. All you have left is hope that you can redeem them all by finding Samantha."

"You're my family now," he continued, reaching out to take me by the shoulders."We're a family now. I want that so desperately, Scully."

"We're not going to live the life your mother and father did. This baby is not a part of their machinations. I want our son to have what you didn't." I saw his watery image coming closer.

"Samantha's child is probably another clone," he said, cupping my face in his hands."Like all the others, but I just couldn't give up the hope..."

"That you found a part of her," I finished."That she lives on in that child."

"Yes," he breathed, lowering his forehead to rest of mine."I want it to end, Scully. I just want it to end."


****


Standing this close to Scully, it was if the world consisted of just the three of us for the moment. The sum of my very existence rested inside her. Everything I was and everything I will be lies within her and my son.

Scully was not asking me to walk away from Samantha. She diligently worked on unlocking the secrets of the implant ever since I brought it back from Portland. It was Scully who stressed the importance of returning it to Marita so she wouldn't fall victim to the same cancer.

"We are going to the Circuit Court of Fairfax County. There is no waiting period or blood tests required in the State of Virginia. We can obtain a license and get married the same day," I said, firmly."We'll compromise. We can have a non-denominational minister presiding over a civil ceremony."

Her lower lip trembled."Mulder..."

"No," I continued. I raised my head up and grabbed her by the shoulders again."If we are going to do this, we do it now before our son is born. He already has what I didn't. Two parents who love each other."

"No more secrets, Mulder," she said, shaking her head from side to side. Determination set in her jaw."I mean it. No more secrets. You tell me everything from this moment on. You aren't going to be accountable to me anymore, Mulder. You're accountable to our son. And I will never forgive you if you let him down. Those are my terms."

Behind the tears in her crystal blue eyes, I saw fury and passion. It was all or nothing. She snatched the vial off the table and placed it in my hand, coiling my fingers around it.

"Scully?" I asked cautiously, staring down at it.

"Return it to Marita," she answered, taking a deep breath."And when you come back we'll get married."

"What?" I whispered, my brain processing and re-processing her last sentence. Did she just agree to marry me?

"You heard me the first time, Mulder," she replied, a thin smile across her lips. I reached up with my free hand to brush the tears from her cheeks. She leaned into my palm, pressing it against her face with both hands. Her hands folded around my wrist and she kissed my hand before lowering it to our son.

It took me a second to catch my breath."Are you sure?"

"Are you?" she countered, a worry line creasing her lovely brown.

"Yes," I nodded, as I pulled her into my arms again. I kissed the top of her fiery head and hoped this wasn't just a dream."I never been more sure of anything in my life."

"I'll see what I can do. Today's Tuesday...think you'll be ready by Saturday?" she asked, a smile spreading on her lips.

"I'll make an honest woman of you yet, Scully," I replied. Scully pulled her arm back and rabbit punched me in the gut. Even pregnant, she could still pack a wallop.

"You better go," she said, withdrawing from my embrace. "Your flight leaves in an hour. I'm going to present my formal report to Skinner this morning and hopefully we can buy some time.

I cupped Scully's face in my hand and kissed her. Long and hard before she had a chance to protest. My tongue danced inside her mouth, savoring the kiss for as long as possible. It recharged me, giving me the energy needed to complete this final task before our lives could begin. Our mouths eventually parted and I stared at her for a moment, memorizing it forever in my head. The moment Scully finally agreed to be my wife.

"Call me," she said. It wasn't a request; it was an order.

"I will," I promised, putting the vial my pocket.

Already, I missed her.


****


J. Edgar Hoover Building
1:45 p.m.

I looked at the wall clock. Mulder would be halfway to Portland by now. I drew a deep breath and glanced through my report one final time. It was sketchy at best, but at least I had my own experience and those of the MUFON women to compare it too. Mulder late informant, X, had once told me it was the key to all the answers I was searching for. Years later, I was still searching.

I winced as my son kicked me hard in the ribs. I couldn't wait for him to drop. I was constantly out of breath from my uterus crowding my lungs. I massaged the area, hoping to dislodge him a bit.

I knew from before the implant collects information and artificially replicates a person's mental processes. All the women who were"abducted" were given one and they were all placed in the same spot on the nape of the neck. That area seemed of special importance.

I had no idea how long Marita had hers or what its purpose was. I theorized perhaps it had something to do with the pregnancy itself, Mulder said she appeared healthy on his first visit. A far cry from the condition Spender found her in at Ft. Marlene.

Originally, Agent Pendrell had traced the chip's manufacturer to a Japanese firm and its shipment to a Dr. Zama. Mulder eventually theorized Zama had developed a human-alien hybrid with super immunity, capable of withstanding the effects of atomic and biological weapons. Everything needed to survive "colonization." Later, it was Cassandra Spender who proved this theory correct.

The phone rang, snapping me out of my thoughts. I reached for it automatically.

"Scully," I said, as I closed my file.

"Hi. This is Kimberly. The A.D. can see you now," Skinner's secretary said on the other end.

"Thanks, I'll be right there," I said, scooting Mulder's chair back."But give me about ten minutes. I'm walking slower these days."

Kimberly laughed gently."That's completely understandable. I'll let him know you're on your way."

I hung up the phone and headed to Skinner's office. Again, I felt like everyone's eyes were transfixed on my belly. I tried to cover myself up with my lab coat, but it was hopeless. I couldn't even button it. It had been a long time since I'd seen Skinner and I had plenty of questions for him regarding Mulder's"assignment" in Portland.

Eventually, I made it to his office. I was breathless upon arrival and I gulped down air before opening the door. Kimberly looked up from her desk and gave me a huge smile. Or rather, the baby a huge smile.

"Agent Scully," she exclaimed, standing up. She motioned to a chair by the doorway."He just got on the phone. Please sit down and take the weight off your feet."

"That's not where the weight is," I replied, rolling my eyes a bit."And if I sit down, I'm not getting up again."

Kimberly's smile widened."How much longer to have to go?"

"About two weeks," I replied, moistening my lips. "But I'd be more than happy to go earlier."

"Are you ready?" she asked innocently.

"For delivery? I think so," I lied, knowing I was scared to death of what to expect. I remembered vividly delivering that woman's baby last year in the hurricane. It certainly looked pretty damn painful to me."I know I'm not ready for what comes after that."

Skinner's door flew open, disturbing our little womanly chat.

"Agent Scully," he said, nodding at me. He seemed agitated, sweat was beading off his forehead and his face was scrunched into a scowl. Skinner put his hands on his hips."Has Mulder left for Portland?"

"He left this morning," I replied, puzzled by his demeanor."What is it?"

Skinner pushed his glasses up his nose."I just got a call from the Portland Police Department. Seems Paula Finley was found dead a half-hour ago."


****

Oregon State Hospital
Portland, Oregon
3:00 p.m.

"I'm sorry, you can't go in there," said the security guard. He was holding me back.

"I'm Fox Mulder and I'm with the FBI," I said, struggling against him."What's going on?"

I had asked the front desk about seeing Paula Finley, having made prior arrangements through Skinner yesterday. The woman called security instead. In the distance beyond the locked corridor, I could see police tape and uniformed officers. I had a sinking feeling in my gut. I just knew it had to be Marita. Goddamn it.

"I want to talk to whoever is in charge," I shouted, as he tried to restrain me. If they wanted me to cause a scene, I'd give them one."That woman is in the witness protection program and I am here on her behalf. I demand to see whoever is in charge!"

"Sir, you need to settle down," he said, grabbing my arm. Another two security guards joined us and they approached me. I fumbled in my pocket for my badge, flashing it awkwardly.

"I'm with the FBI," I said, through gritted teeth. "I have to see Paula Finley right now!"

"What's going on?" came a fourth voice, cutting through the commotion we were making."I'm Scott Brandt, homicide division. You're with the FBI?"

How many goddamn times did I have to say it?

"I'm Special Agent Fox Mulder," I said, twisting out of the security guards grasp. I managed to shove my badge in his face."That woman in there, Paula Finley is in the witness protection program."

"She was," Brandt said, gesturing for them to let me go. He started walking towards the corridor, unlocking the door and nodding to the officers inside to allow me to enter."We called your A.D. earlier, but I guess you were in transit."

"Can you tell me what happened?" I demanded."I flew all the way out here from D.C."

"I'd tell you if I knew," Brandt said, stepping over the police tape."She was complaining yesterday of chills and a rash. The doctors gave her some cortizone and had her rest. This morning, she was found dead. I've never seen anything like it."

I swallowed hard as we entered her room. Lying on the bed, I saw her figure silhouetted under the sheet. They were dusting for print and a photographer was taking pictures of the room.

The M.E. looked up at us and Brandt gestured at the body.

"Dr. Evans, this is Fox Mulder with the FBI. Could you share with him your findings?" Brandt said, walking behind me to the opposite side of the bed.

"My best guess is she was poisoned," he said, with a heavy sigh."A contaminant was introduced into her system."

I felt the hairs on the back of my neck standing straight up. "What kind of contaminant?"

"Carbon," he answered, pulling the sheet back slowly. "Pure carbon in the bloodstream."

Marita's swollen skin was covered in purple veins and splotches. She was barely recognizable. I bit my lip to keep from screaming.

"It's as if her blood was used as a weapon against her body," Evans added. He narrowed his eyes at me."What is it, Agent Mulder?"

"I know what this is," I answered, turning away from Marita. It was same fucking thing that nearly killed Skinner. Shit. I knew they were a part of that. I looked directly at Brandt."You need to seal off all the exits right now. Whoever did this to her might still be in the building."


****


4867 Carriagepark Rd
Fairfax, VA
7:05 p.m.

I dragged my two packages of groceries up the stairs to the front door. I was having the worst craving for pasta. I couldn't decide which kind, so I bought a box of each. I dropped them on the ground long enough to fumble with my keys. The Gunmen had three deadbolts on the door already in addition to the security system they designed for us.

I put my key in the second lock, expecting resistance against my key as I turned. But there was none. Did I forget to lock them all this morning? I'd been preoccupied lately, but I generally didn't forget something that important. The third lock was also loose.

I reached for my cell phone and entered"911" quickly. I kept my thumb over the send button as I kicked the door open cautiously, maintaining my distance. The porch light filled the foyer and I peered inside. Nothing looked disturbed; everything was exactly how I'd left it. I leaned in enough to flip the lights on inside. The living room was empty, too.

I wasn't about to take any chances. I took a few steps backwards, opting for the safety of my car to call for back up.

"Hello, Dana," said a female voice.

I looked up. Beyond the living room, a figure was standing in the hallway. She stepped into the light slowly, her hands raised up where I could see them.

"What the hell are you doing here?" I demanded.

"I came to talk," Diana Fowley said, stopping in the center of the room.

I shook my head in disbelief. I pressed"send" hard. "You're a liar."

"What I have to say is important," she continued, watching my movements. She folded her hands and kept them against her body.

"Hello? This is Special Agent Dana Scully with the FBI. I'd like to report an intruder. 4867 Carriagepark Rd."

Diana's eyes narrowed coldly."You shouldn't do that. I don't have much time as it is."

"Thank you," I said, letting my cell phone drop into my pocket."They're on their way right now."

"Listen to me. Fox never understood the sacrifices his mother and father made. Perhaps now you'll understand. I only ever wanted to protect him."

"More lies? Were you the one who removed the implant from his mother's neck?" I yelled, retreating back down the stairs."I know you were there, Diana."

I clutched the railing as I scrambled down the stairs. In the distance, I could already hear the sirens.

"Samantha will come back for her daughter," Diana shouted after me."That's her destiny. We needed a mother who had survived the black oil virus like you did...

I got inside my car and slammed the door, power-locking it shut. My heart was pounding in my ears and I felt a sharp stab of pain in my abdomen. I started the engine, pulling out as fast as I could. I saw Diana in my rear view mirror, standing in the driveway. My hands were shaking something fierce as I tried to steer straight. I hated letting her get away, but I couldn't risk my baby. I didn't care what she had to say. Nothing would have made stay and listen to her.

I hit a red light and rested my forehead against the steering wheel. I forced myself to breathe. In. Out. In. Out. One hand lowered to my stomach, caressing the baby.

"It's all right," I muttered to my son."Everything is going to be all right."


****


Oregon State Hospital
Portland, Oregon
5:23 p.m.

We searched the facility from top to bottom to no avail. I started looking through the security tapes, hoping to catch a glimpse of the man we'd seen before with the long hair and beard.

I made sure Marita's body would be shipped back to D.C. for further testing. Although Scully probably wouldn't perform the autopsy herself, she could certain supervise to make sure none of the evidence would be tampered with. I was anxious to see Skinner's face when he learned her blood was infected by that strange carbon matrix. I suspected he knew more about it than what he was letting on.

"Wait!" I exclaimed, spying someone familiar in the shadows."Can you magnify him?"

"Sure," Brandt said, gesturing to the technician. He applied a marquee around the figure and zoomed in 600%.

"Again," I instructed. He took it up to 1200%, giving me a good angle of his face."Can you lighten the image up? And sharpen it?"

The technician nodded and moved his fingers over the keyboard. Within seconds, the image was clearer. The man's face was still covered with the beard, but this time I could see his eyes. Eyes I'd had the privilege of seeing up close and personal on several occasions.

"Son of a bitch," I whispered.

It was Krycek.

"Can you print that out for me?" I asked. I clenched my teeth together and tried not to put my fist through the screen. That bastard.

*CHIRP*

I dug inside my pocket for my cell phone and pressed it against my ear.

"Mulder?"

"It's me," said Scully, her voice crackled and distant. But even through the static, I could tell there was something wrong.

"Are you okay?" I asked, moving to the back of the room for privacy.

"Must be the little woman," Brandt muttered to the technician.

"Mulder, when I came home tonight...Diana was waiting for me," she continued shakily.

"Where are you now?" I demanded, fear racing through my heart.

"At my mother's," she replied, with a heavy sigh. "I dialed 911 and got the hell out of there."

"Are you okay? The baby?" I inquired.

"I'm fine. We're fine," she answered in her professional voice."The police came and secured the house right away. The Gunmen are over there now, ready to install more security."

"Scully, are you okay?" I asked again, not wanting her to say that damn phrase again.

"Yes," she said. There was a long pause, as if she was deliberating what to say next."I'm just scared. Not for me, for the baby."

I closed my eyes, remembering how she looked this morning. Replaying that snapshot in my mind over and over.

"I know," I breathed. Now wasn't the time to go over this mess. I had something much more important to do."I'll be on the next flight to D.C. and I'll meet you at your mother's."

"Mulder," Scully whispered."I love you."

"I love you," I said, before she hung up.


****

Margaret Scully's Home
6:10 a.m.

I drifted in and out of sleep, stretched comfortably on the couch in the living room. Despite my mother's protests, I didn't want to go upstairs to the guestroom. I wanted to wait for Mulder. She eventually gave up around two o'clock and buried me under a stack of pillows and blankets.

I dreamed of giving birth. But not in the safety of the hospital with Mulder by my side. I dreamed of lying on a table with a strange cylinder apparatus attached to my swollen navel. I'd had it before, several times after regression hypnosis following my abduction. But this time, it seemed vivid and real. Then, during labor, I became Marita. Induced to give birth to a child that was not mine. Off to the side, Diana waited patiently with the Smoking Man. They laid the infant on my stomach briefly, only to snatch her away forever. Her screams became my screams and they forced me awake. I touched my stomach immediately, grateful to feel the familiar hardness of our son underneath.

The sound of the car door got my attention. I sat up immediately, pushing the sheers aside. In the early morning light, I saw Mulder walking towards the house. I threw the covers off and struggled off the couch, pushing myself up. I was at the door before he was, unlocking the door as quickly as possible. I flung it open, just in time for Mulder's arms to sweep me up protectively.

"Scully," he said, holding me close yet allowing enough space for the baby.

"Thought you'd never get here," I replied. He rotated our bodies so he could slam the door shut with one hand. Before I knew it, I had my back against the wall and Mulder's mouth on mine. He tasted of airplane vodka and sunflower seeds.

"Are you okay?" he asked, between desperate kisses. His arms pressed my body to his again and his breathing became shallow. His hazel eyes burned into mine.

"Yes," I said, not wanting to repeat our conversation from earlier."I'm just glad you're home."

"They killed her, Scully," he said, closing his weary eyes. He reached in his pocket and produced the vial."Her blood was poisoned with carbon just like Skinner's was. They're shipping the body back here for you to examine. And I know who did it."

"Who?" I asked, leaning into his arms again.

"Krycek," Mulder answered, his jaw clenching."I recognized his eyes on the video tape."

"He killed Marita to hide the evidence," Mulder said. I took the vial from his hand and held it between us. Scrutinizing its precious contents with my tired eyes.

"Except this," I said, wetting my lower lip."Do you think Diana was looking for it?"

"I don't know," Mulder replied."And right now, I don't care."

With that, he lowered his lips to mine. Then, he lowered my hand and uncurled my fingers from around the vial, letting it fall to the floor.

****

Part Nine

Georgetown Shopping Mall
7:00 p.m.


"C'mon Dana, you have to come out," my mother said for the third time. She shook the dressing room door again, trying to rattle the flimsy lock free.

"I'm not coming out," I replied, also for the third time. I rolled my eyes at her tenacity.

"At least me see it," she implored, her patience wearing thin. But not as thin as mine. My patience was now transparent.

I looked like a huge, buff-colored pear. The dress, with its pleated front, was anything but figure flattering. And it was too long, the hemline pooled at my feet. I hated being so fat and so short and so pregnant the day before my wedding.

"Da-na," my mother began, in her singsong voice. The one she used when she wanted something."I have another dress you can try on. The salesgirl found one in petite you might like. The cut is slimming."

I eased into the chair sitting in the corner of the dressing room and leaned back with both feet apart as comfortably as I could. I should have never agreed to this. I should have waited until after the baby was born, when I could try to squeeze into something that wasn't a maternity dress.

Above the top of the dressing room door, I saw an eggshell dress some spilling down in a curtain of satin.

"Here...just try this one on," she coaxed, wagging the dress back and forth. It shimmered under the dull lights as it bounced on the hanger.

"This is the last one," I moaned, forcing myself to get up again. I snatched the dancing dress from her and hung it up on the peg.

"I'll look for some hose," she said, tapping on the door slightly."Do you have any support hose in an off-white?"

I unzipped the current formal"tent" I had on and stepped out of it slowly. I sighed sadly at my swollen body, trying to suck it the best I could. The baby had dropped last night, changing my shape yet again. With only one-week left to go before my due date, I was anxious to get this pregnancy over with and hold my son. I longed to see the face of the little boy who was kicking my ribs constantly, making me crave animal crackers and forcing me to pee every hour on the hour. I wanted to know if he had my eyes or Mulder's nose, if he had ten fingers and if he really was the eight pounds they were guestimating him to be.

I slipped the new dress over my head and tugged it into place. This one had a high, empress waist, but was cut for a woman of petite stature. All the proportions were correct. The long, lacy sleeves were trimmed with pearls and the neckline scooped slightly and enhanced my bust line. Best of all, the satin fabric of the skirt fell in soft, clean lines around my belly. It made me look...beautiful.

Which immediately made me start to cry.

"Dana?" my mom said, knocking on the door again."What's wrong now? You don't like that one?"

I unlocked the door, much to her surprise judging from the shocked expression on her face.

"No," I sobbed, smiling through my tears."It's perfect."

She turned me around so we were both facing the mirror, her hands on my shoulders."It is."

"Guess this is something you weren't expecting to see," I said, wiping my eyes carefully with the back of my hand."Your pregnant daughter in a 'wedding' dress...well, formal dress. A real wedding dress wouldn't fit me."

She rested her head on my shoulder and hugged me from behind. "Well, actually I expected it would be Melissa who'd be a pregnant bride." A bittersweet smile fell across her lips at Melissa's name."I'm sure she's watching us now and finding this quite amusing."

"Missy is laughing her ass off," I agreed, as she rocked me back and forth. We both suppressed our own laughter at that comment. Mom swept my hair off my neck and twirled it up on my head.

"Up or down?" she asked thoughtfully.

"Down," I said, as she let my hair go."Pulling it back makes my face look even fatter."

"You look beautiful," she countered, kissing my cheek firmly."I'll go tell the sales girl to stop looking."

Poor girl. We'd run her ragged. I hoped she worked on commission.

"Okay," I said, as we exchanged kisses again. My mom gathered the other dresses I tried on off the floor and laid them over her arm."Mom?"

"Yes?" she answered, looking up at me.

"I love you."

"I love you, too," she replied, with a smile."My little girl is getting married and having a baby. I couldn't love you more than I do right now, Dana."

Her words echoed in the tiny space of the dressing room, filling my heart. Silently, she picked up the last dress and left.

I turned to the mirror on more time, taking a deep breath. Tomorrow was the day. We were going to be married in our living room by Rev. Wesley E. Peyton in a non-religious ceremony. Not how I always pictured this day, but it would have to do. Surprisingly enough, I wasn't having second thoughts. I wondered if Mulder was. But then again, he'd been through this before. I frowned as the thought of Diana Fowley permeated my mind. I rubbed my belly, smiling to myself and forcing the image away. She wasn't going to ruin this for me in absentia.

****

Casey's
Washington, DC
7:15 p.m.

"Hey Mulder, think the lovely Agent Scully will be wearing a garter tomorrow?" Frohike asked, between sips of his beer.

"Why? Thinking of borrowing it?" I asked, downing another shot of tequila. I sucked the lime quickly, then licked salt off the back of my hand. My bachelor party consisted of Moe, Larry and Curly. At least my bar tab was on Byers and he has no idea how well I can put it away. I hope he's got a high limit on that American Express card.

"No, I'd like to catch it," he answered, raising his eyebrows at me."A memento before she throws her life away marrying you."

I laughed to myself."Thanks, Frohike. Nice to know I have your blessing."

He leaned it and nudged my elbow sharply."You better take damn good care of her and the baby, Mulder. Or else you'll be answering to me."

I stared at the little weasel for a minute. He was only protecting Scully in his valiant, nerdy way. I took his face in both my hands and drew him near, kissing him hard on the forehead.

"You're a good man, Melvin," I said, slapping his cheek a couple times before letting him go.

"Hey," he protested, looking around nervously. He slid off the barstool and put some distance between us."There's some babes around here! I don't want to them to think my door swings the other way."

In the corner, Langly and Byers were playing foosball and he scurried over to join them. I grinned to myself as I raised another shot glass to my lips. Instead of mourning my bachelorhood, I was celebrating its demise.

"Spooky?"

That voice. Sweet and throaty and so familiar. I turned back around and saw the owner of that voice leaning over the counter at me.

"Hey, it's you," I said, remembering her instantly.

"I never forget a customer," she said, picking up my empty shot glasses disapprovingly."Especially one who can put it away like you can."

I chuckled to myself, raising my last shot of tequila to her. "I'm celebrating tonight."

"Oh?" she asked, wiping the counter clean."What's the occasion?"

"I'm getting married tomorrow," I said, throwing back the alcohol and slamming the glass down with a smile. The tequila burned down my throat pleasantly.

"You are?" she said, smiling back I sucked on another lime."Who's the lucky girl who gets to be Mrs. Spooky?"

"Scull-ee," I said, hearing her name slurring out unintentionally.

"First name or last?" she asked, slightly confused.

"Last," I clarified, realizing I was rambling."Her first name is Dana."

"Well, congratulations," she replied, taking down a cup and filling it with steaming black coffee. She pushed it in front of me."I'd buy you a drink on the house, but I'd say you've had plenty."

I stared at it, then grinned up at her."Can you throw some Kahula in there? I never drink it straight."

"No," she answered, sitting down and folding her hands together. She looked behind me at the Gunmen, who were now trying to line dance to the Garth Brooks song playing off the jukebox."Is that the bachelor party?"

"Uh-huh," I replied, taking a sip of the coffee and choking it down."Pretty sad, huh?"

"No wonder you're over here drinking," she laughed. Her face grew serious again, her liquid eyes penetrating mine. She laid a hand on my arm lightly."I'm happy for you. Last time you were in here, you looked so..."

"Lonely?" I finished, as her fingers trailed down to my hand as she withdrew it. I caught her hand in mine and held onto it for a second.

"One is the loneliest number," she said, relaxing her hand in mine. My thumb caressed her knuckles briefly before I let her go."Isn't that what you said, Spooky?"

"You've got a good memory," I said, my own eidetic one recalling our brief exchange perfectly.

"I'm a good listener, comes with the job description," she said, easing back in her chair."But I'm glad you're not lonely anymore."

Her words echoed in my head, then settled in my heart. I won't ever be alone again after tomorrow. In less than 24 hours, Scully would be my wife. And she'll follow up this amazing feat of trust and commitment by making me a father. My years of self-isolation were finally at an end. I kept expecting to wake up strapped to a table somewhere with the Smoking Man standing over me, informing me this was all some fabricated dream.

"So am I," I said, taking a deep breath."So am I."

"Hey Mulder!" Langly said, clapping me on the back. "Ready to go?"

She raised her eyebrows at me and I shrugged. I had no idea what these clowns had planned next.

"Go where?" I asked naively.

"Well, this is a bachelor party," Frohike said, wrapping a short, stubby arm around my shoulders."I think it's time to check out a certain club...or two..."

"I doubt Mulder really wants to go to one of those places," Byers said, interjecting between them. He held them both back at arm's length. "I mean, he is a reformed man now. How long have you been...well...pornography-free?"

"I guess about nine-months," I replied. I gave most of my things to Frohike; I didn't want those magazines and videos around anymore, especially with a kiddo on the way."I occasionally have a relapse in a hotel room when I'm by myself and I can't get a hold of Scully on the phone..."

"Okay," the bartender announced, holding up both hands in surrender."I think that's more than I wanted to hear! Spooky, you have a wonderful wedding."

"I will," I said, smiling at her once again."You know, I don't even know your name..."

She silently grinned and tossed the towel over her shoulder. "Don't be a stranger, Spooky."

****

4867 Carriagepark Rd
Fairfax, VA
9:15 p.m.


"Dana, don't lift that!" Mom said, taking the chair from my hand.

"It's just a chair," I said, as she snatched it away. "Let me help."

"You can help by sitting down and putting your feet up," she chided. We were standing in the middle of the living room, trying to arrange some chairs into a small aisle for me to walk down tomorrow. Charlie was going to"give me away" in place of Ahab since Bill boycotted our wedding. But Tara and Matthew were coming any minute now, having landed at Dulles a half-hour ago and were on route in a rental car.

"There's so much to do," I said, flopping down on the couch. A Braxton-Hicks contraction pierced my side and I rubbed it away. I'd started having small ones earlier this week. Effacement of my cervix had begun, which caused me to dilate to two centimeters. I exhaled slowly, trying to apply some Lamaze techniques. My mom narrowed her eyes, instantly recognizing the pains of childbirth.

"Was that another contraction?" she said, watching me carefully.

"Either that, or my dinner isn't settling," I replied, with a slight smile. I became serious once again for her sake."I'm fine, mom."

"Okay," she said, setting up another chair."I just hope this wedding isn't putting too much stress on you. Nobody wants to see you two married more than I do, but not at the expense of your health and the baby's health, Dana."

"I'm fine," I repeated, feeling the pain subsiding. My son jabbed me in the bladder instead and I squeezed my Kegels just in time to avoid an accident.

Mom finished arranging the chairs, then sat beside me, surveying the room. Along the banister, we had woven ribbons and silk flowers. Huge poinsettias graced either side of the fireplace where the"altar" would be. In the corner stood a the biggest Christmas tree in the state of Virginia. Mulder had bought it yesterday and it took all night to decorate. Simple one-candle lights were placed in the windows and white icicle lights hung from the gutters. The entire house felt warm and festive, both for Christmas and the wedding.

"Not too bad for a wedding put together in three days," she commented."Think what I could have done with a week to prepare! Move over, Martha Stewart."

"It's beautiful, mom," I said, smiling at her. She smoothed my hair behind my ear tenderly in a gesture she used to do when I was a little girl.

"Is there enough chairs?" she asked, counting them out."Tara, Charlie, Matthew, me. Mulder's three friends..." she paused momentarily before continuing."And his mother?"

I sighed, patting the baby."I don't know if he invited her. And after all that's happened, I'm not sure she'd come anyway."

"You said he went to visit her earlier this week," mom began, leaning forward and putting her elbows on her knees."Did they get a chance to talk?"

"Mulder confronted her about his paternity," I said, imagining the scene as Mulder described it."She didn't give him a definite answer. And...he found something else..."

"What?" she asked, a frown falling across her face. She'd been so supportive of Mulder all along and I wondered how she react to what I was about to say. She waited patiently for me to continue.

"She had an implant like mine," I finished. I reached up to the back of my neck and touched the spot gingerly."They removed it after her heart attack."

"So...she'll develop cancer," Mom nodded, understanding perfectly the implications."Was this voluntary?"

"I think so," I said, feeling emotions swelling inside me. I rubbed the baby to keep myself steady."We still have Marita's implant, but I don't know if that's what it was for."

"She probably wouldn't accept it," mom said, shaking her head sadly. I nodded in agreement. We sat in silence for a long time, both contemplating the family I was marrying into. Wondering what other deals were made between the Mulders and the Consortium that we didn't know about.

****

Mulder's Apartment
2:25 a.m.

"Fox?"

My head was heavy and clouded as I fought my way back to consciousness. I felt fingertips brushing against my face, my lips, my cheek. The hand reached around to the base of my neck and shifted me until my head came into contact with something soft.

I breathed in a familiar scent. The fingers moved to my forehead, brushing my hair back. I must be on my bed, I surmised. The figure beside me leaned in closer, and the bed creaked with the motion. Soft hair fell on my cheek as lips swept across my cheek.

"I love you, Fox," she whispered, caressing my face again. Her words sounded so sincere, yet I knew they were not."I've always loved you."

Through the haze, I struggled to remember. The Gunmen. Casey's. The club. Blindly, I reached for my gun in the nightstand's drawer but another hand closed around mine and laid it back on my chest.

I knew that touch. Thin, icy fingers tried to lace with mine but I shook them away. She was one of them now. Finally, I forced my eyes open. In the still darkness, I could make out her face.

"Diana?" I asked cautiously. The pain in my head got worse as things came into focus. How I could I be hung over? I didn't drink that much, did I?

"I remember you doing this the night before we got married," Diana said quietly."I guess some things never change."

"No," I mumbled, struggling to sit up."But people do."

"Is that what you think?" she asked, her voice seemingly laced with hurt."That I've changed? I haven't Fox. Despite everything that has happened between us, you're still my number one priority."

I sneered at her. Diana was wearing a cream colored suit, her arms carefully folded around her body. She wasn't armed, but I was certain she made sure neither was I. I yanked the drawer open and sure enough, my sig was missing. I didn't need a gun anyway...

"What do you want?" I demanded, narrowing my eyes at her. I slid off the bed and established some distance between us.

"I want you to know the truth," she said, taking a deep breath."I tried to tell Scully earlier this week, but she wouldn't listen to me."

"Why should she?" I fired back, leaning against the wall. The dizzy spinning in my head stopped momentarily."She knows you better that I do. Scully had you figured out since the moment she met you."

"She doesn't know the whole story and neither do you," Diana replied, lecturing me."I'm here to help you, Fox. Help you and Scully and your son."

"Like you helped my mother? She's going to die thanks to you," I said bitterly. Anger started built within me."That's what you were really doing at the hospital, wasn't it? Removing her implant so she'd develop cancer just like Scully."

"No," she corrected firmly."That wasn't my decision, it was hers. You have no idea what sacrifices that woman has made for you and Samantha."

"Then why don't you tell me?" I said, staring her down. I was so sick of the riddles and the games."Or get the hell out of here."

"She was one of the first and so was Cassandra Spender," Diana began, keeping her voice even and measured.

"First of what?" I pressed, not liking where this was going.

"Participants in the hybrid program," Diana finished, her dark eyes searing into mine."The abductions and experiments with Cassandra were just one facet. To create a human hybrid from birth was another. In the beginning, science and technology wasn't advanced enough and they didn't fully understand what they were doing. When your mother asked for a baby, they saw it as an opportunity to...experiment. The chances of it working were less than ten percent, but it was a risk your mother was willing to take."

I clenched my teeth together."What are you saying, Diana?"

"You and Samantha are Teena's children," she said, standing up and walking over to me slowly."But you both possess the capability to evolve into so much more. Your eidetic mind was no accident, Mulder. Did you know Samantha is eidetic too?"

Through the filter of my childhood memories, I knew it was true. Samantha could remember the smallest of details like I could with perfect clarity. A sick feeling started in the pit of my stomach.

"Where is she?" I demanded, clenching her by the elbow and drawing her closer still."Please, Diana...if you ever gave a damn about me...just tell me where Samantha is."

"I don't know. No one can know where Samantha is," Diana started, relaxing her body in my grip."Because she's a hybrid, Mulder. If they find her, they'll kill us all. Just like Cassandra."

"What about the baby?" I said, trying to restrain my anger. My mind made jumps in logic."Samantha's daughter. I know you sent those results to Scully."

"A hybrid is generally sterile," Diana continued, with a sigh. Her shoulder slacked forward."That's what we've learned. Time and time again. Perhaps we can survive the colonization, but the human race will be doomed unless we can continue these experiments."

"So, you've been using Samantha's ova to create children in the hopes of finding the solution?" I hissed, shaking her fiercely. It was all I could do not to slam her body against the wall."How many children does she have?

"We have to explore as many different gene combinations as we can in order for a fertile hybrid to establish itself as a new species," Diana said calmly."Like Scully and the MUFON women, a high application radiation procedure that caused superovulation was administered to Samantha."

"Why are you telling me this now?" I asked, through gritted teeth.

"Because...you still have the potential to become a hybrid as well," she whispered."I don't know what might trigger it, we thought perhaps it would have happened when you were exposed to the virus back in Tunguska."

I shuddered, angered and frightened by the words she spoke. All this time we were worried about Scully and what they had done to her. I was the one putting our son at risk thanks to this agreement between my mother and them.

"So help me God, Diana, if I find out you're lying to me," I said through gritted teeth. My hand traveled up her arm and rested lightly on her throat.

"Think very carefully about what you are going to do," she whispered, her lips pressing into a thin line."Because without me, you might not have a son."

"I won't have you threatening my child," I warned, tightening the grip on her neck. I felt her swallowing hard."Or Scully."

"That chip," Diana breathed, licking her dry lips. "You still have it?"

I narrowed my eyes at her."You know I do..."

"Scully might need it to deliver the baby," she said, cool and calculating. I eased my hold on her."Marita did. You've suspected that all along, haven't you? I can see it in your eyes."

"She won't accept it," I fired back, wanting to contradict her.

"She may not have a choice," Diana countered. Her thin lips twisted upwards in a mocking smile."But you do."

****

4867 Carriagepark Rd
Fairfax, VA
3:15 a.m.

*CHIRP*

I glared at my cell phone on the nightstand, reaching for it before my mother heard it. Or Matthew.

"Scully," I mumbled, sitting up. I wasn't asleep anyway. What bride slept the day before her wedding? Especially one who was nine months pregnant?

"Hey," answered his voice, gravely and thick. Already, I could sense there was something wrong.

"Mulder, are you okay?" I asked instinctually.

"I need to see you," he said, urgently stressing each word.

"You can't," I said, throwing the covers off my body. "You can't see the bride before the wedding..."

"Since when are you superstitious?" he asked, in all seriousness.

"Where are you?" I asked, wondering if he was still with the Gunmen. I knew the guys were taking him out."Have you been drinking?"

"In the driveway," he answered."And yes, but I'm sober now. I need to see you Scully. Let me in."

I shivered as I swung my robe around me. I cradled the phone between my ear and my shoulder as I fastened the knot."It's bad luck, Mulder. Can't we do one thing traditionally?"

"I'll carry you over the threshold tomorrow," he said, as the car door slammed in the background."Is your mom there?"

"Yes," I said, walking down the stairs very carefully. I stared at the door ahead and gripped the railing tightly."She's sleeping in the guest room."

"Is everything okay?" he asked.

"Yes," I said again, trying to concentrate on the stairs. I prayed every hour I wouldn't have an episiotomy. Or else after the baby was born, I was going to be confined to the first floor for a while. These stairs would be murder after an episiotomy.

I wasn't fast enough because Mulder's keys were rattling in the door."Quiet or you'll wake Matthew," I hissed into the phone.

"Sorry," he mumbled as I finally made it to the door. I unfastened the remaining locks and pulled the door back.

"Hi," I said, into the cell phone and hearing it echo out of his.

"Hi," he repeated, into his phone.

He clapped it shut and shoved it in jacket. I let mine fall into the pocket of my robe, hitting the send button with my thumb. I opened the door wider to let him in, careful not to let it squeak.

Mulder had been drinking. There was alcohol on his breath and his clothes smelled like cigarette smoke. But his eyes were clear and alert as they stared at my abdomen. He reached out and laid his hand on our son.

"There's still time to back out," he whispered, finally looking up at me."I won't blame you if you do after what I have to say."

I folded my arms and rested them on my belly to keep from shaking. "Say what?"

"I'm accountable to our son," he began, fumbling over the words."You will never forgive me if I let him down, those were your terms, right?"

"Mulder, you're scaring me," I said, feeling my heartbeat quickening.

He took my hand and led me over to the hearth where the makeshift altar was. I sat down in a chair as Mulder fell to his knees in front of me. I glanced back at the stairs, watching for my mother.

"Diana showed up at my apartment tonight," Mulder said in hushed tones."I woke up to find her there."

"She did?" I repeated, setting my jaw tight. Typical. If she couldn't get to me, she'd go through Mulder. She knew his weak spots.

"It's not you, Scully," he continued, his eyes haunted and distant,"that's a threat to our son. It's me."

"She's lying," I said immediately. My temper flared up."I don't want to hear anymore, Mulder. She's lying to you."

"The experiments in genetics started with me and Samantha," he whispered."All the cloning, the abductions, the MUFON women, all of it. They aren't looking to create just a hybrid to survive colonization, Scully. They're looking for a new species."

"I don't understand what that has to do with you," I said, maintaining composure. Inside, I was burning with rage.

"Samantha is a hybrid," Mulder said, joining our hands together."But they need a fertile hybrid to establish a new species. They're using her ova and genetic material to explore as many different gene combinations as they can."

"Is that what she told you?" I asked."What about Cassandra? They know they can create a hybrid."

"Cassandra was proof they could alter a human being to become a hybrid. But Samantha is proof one could be born. She cannot have children on her own without assistance because she is sterile. As a successful hybrid, it's her ova and her genetics that hold the key to developing a new species."

I stared at him, seeing that absolute conviction in his eyes at what he was saying. Nothing I could argue would change his beliefs. It was certainly a plausible explanation for all that we'd seen. From the way his hands were shaking, I knew this information didn't come without a price.

I could think of only one thing we had that they would want.

****

Scully pulled her hands out of mine and wrapped them protectively around the swell of her stomach. Her blue eyes grew larger as fear filled them and she moved away from me.

"This was the sacrifice my parents made," I explained, forcing the words from my mouth."My mother's way of ensuring we would both survive colonization. There is a chance I will become a hybrid someday like Samantha."

"No," she said firmly, her nostrils flaring."No. There is no scientific proof that you or our son are anything else than human. I've run the tests myself, Mulder. Don't you see what they are doing? They're trying to pull you in just like they did with your mom. Did they offer you a deal as well? Am I supposed to carry another child? A hybrid child?"

"No," I assured her, reaching out and coaxing her into my arms. She slid off the chair and onto her knees. Scully clutched my shoulders tightly, digging her nails into my jacket."You're not. I told her no. I won't let them take you or our son."

"I'm not going to let them take you," Scully said, pulling back to stare into my eyes."I don't care what your mom did, that wasn't your choice. They can't have you, Mulder."

"That's what I said," I said, feeling tears welling up in my eyes. She was so determined and strong. I took a deep breath, prepared to tell her the rest."Diana offered me a choice, Scully. But I turned it down."

"Turned what down?" she said, sniffing back her own tears and steadying her breathing.

"That chip Marita had," I whispered, clutching onto her tighter. The baby pressed into my abdomen and I felt the hardness of my son."She said you might need it to deliver the baby. She would personally make sure the chip was implanted into you and oversee the delivery if I promised to participate in their experiments."

"And you turned her down," Scully said, closing her eyes as tears streamed down her cheeks.

"Yes," I said, wiping them away with my thumbs. I cupped her face gently."Yes, I did. I gave her the chip back. This is our child, Scully. I have faith you will deliver our child on your own without their help."

Her body trembled as my fingers lightly traced her beautiful features. I tilted her head up, drawing her lips to mine, kissing her hard and with purpose. I wanted to give her so much more than this. She deserved so much better than my fucked-up past and the twisted family legacy I was a part of.

"I can't deliver this child on my own," she whispered, when our mouths finally parted. She pressed her forehead to mine and looked into my eyes."I need you there, Mulder. I'm too scared to do this alone."

Relief washed over me as I realized she wasn't going to leave me."You're not going to be alone, Scully. You'll never be alone."

Her robe had fallen open, her round stomach too much of a challenge for the thin belt of terry cloth. My hand shifted to her right breast, cupping it beneath the fabric of her nightgown. Already, it hardened under my touch. She moaned, not out of discomfort, but out of pleasure. I had learned to touch her breasts very carefully during her pregnancy.

Scully's lips parted mine as she slid her tongue into my mouth. Over and over again we kissed with increased passion. I laid back on the carpet, draping Scully over me. She readjusted herself, letting her stomach rest on my own. Her fingers ran down my body and settled on the growing hardness of my cock. Our mouths continued in slow, long kisses that melted into the next one.

"Mulder," she groaned, as I moved my hand lower, past the baby to the apex of her thighs."We shouldn't..."

"Yes, we should," I countered, breathing hard between kisses. I worked my mouth down her neck and clavicles, unbuttoning her nightgown as I descended. She kept moaning and any resistance was crumbling with every touch. I wanted her and I need her.

Without warning, the lights snapped on and temporarily blinded us both. We broke apart and I held my hand up long enough for my eyes to adjust.

"Fox, what are you doing here?" asked Mrs. Scully from the top of the stairs.

Shit.

Scully's cheeks were flushed red and she pressed her fingertips to her mouth, swollen already from our rough kisses. She fastened her robe quickly, covering her breasts up.

"I just wanted to talk to Scully," I mumbled, offering a weak explanation for the situation. But at least it was true. I had come here to talk.

"That wasn't talking," she scolded, with a wry grin.

I helped Scully to her feet, countering her balance. We exchanged knowing glances with each other. I shook my head slightly as she nodded hers. Her mom didn't have to know what happened tonight. At least not right now. From the stern look on her face, I knew she suspected there was more to my visit than a final fling before the wedding.

"I'd better go," I said, staring deep into Scully's eyes.

"Two o'clock," she said, confirming the time of our nuptials."I'll see you then."

"Wouldn't miss it for the world," I answered.

****

4867 Carriagepark Rd
Fairfax, VA
12:15 p.m.

"Dana!" Matthew shouted, hurling himself towards me. He wrapped his arms around my legs and rested his head on my belly."Can I talk to the baby?"

"I would think he could hear you already," Tara said, giving her son a warning look."And I think you need to leave Aunt Dana alone, she's trying to get ready!"

We were in the bedroom. Mom was doing my hair and Tara was helping with my make-up.

"What were you going to tell the baby?" I asked, seeing the disappointment in his eyes. He pouted just like his father did. The boy was the spitting image of my brother Bill.

"That his mommy looks pretty," Matthew proclaimed, charming me with a dimpled smile.

"Hey Matt," Tara said, holding her arms out to catch her wild child as he ran around the room."Why don't you come over here and let's practice again. You know what to do?"

"Yep," he answered, nodding his head exuberantly. He reached for the white satin pillow and twirled it around by the ribbons. Tara caught the pillow and steadied it in his arms.

"Then why don't you show me?" Tara said, crossing her arms.

"'kay," Matthew said, settling down. He held the pillow out at arm length and started to walk a bit.

"Good!" Tara coached. I smiled at my little nephew, who was thrilled to be a part of the ceremony."Hold it steady, Matt. Aunt Dana doesn't want the rings to go flying!"

"You're doing great," Mom added, motioning for me to sit back down. She brushed out another section of hair out before twirling it around the curling iron."That child is just as rambunctious as his father."

"Well, Bill's getting what he deserves," I said, remembering how out of control he was as a boy."You must have put that mom curse on him."

"What mom curse?" she asked innocently.

"You know the one," I said, looking back at Tara. She chimed in with me."I hope you grow up and have a child just like you."

Mom laughed, fingering the curl into place."Well, if that's true, you're going to have your hands full as well, Dana. You were a always a curious child and into everything."

"No wonder she ended up working for the FBI," Tara said, pulling Matthew into her lap. She squeezed him tighter and kissed his cheek. Matthew squealed in delight.

"Do you have something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue?" asked Mom, as she fixed another curl.

"Well, my dress is new and my underwear is blue," I said, remembering the color of the bikini underwear I bought just for this day. The waistline fell below my belly and they were so much prettier than the hideous maternity underwear I had been wearing.

"I brought you a garter," Tara said, as Matthew slid off her lap and started rolling around on the floor. She fished into her purse. "It's also blue, but you can make it something 'borrowed.'"

"This is going to look lovely on my fat leg," I said, as she handed me the small box. I winced at the scrap of lace and elastic.

"Stop it," Mom said, spraying my hair a bit."You look absolutely beautiful, Dana."

"She still needs something old," Tara said, wandering around the room.

"Hey," came a knock on the door."I can help you with something old."

"Charlie," I said, smiling at my little brother. I felt tears welling up in my eyes. We didn't think he was going to make it since we hadn't heard from him all day. I figured Bill had gotten to him and changed his mind.

"My flight got delayed," he said, removing his hat. He held it in his hands, fidgeting with it nervously."I'm sorry I'm late."

"That's okay, you're here now," Mom said, moving over to hug and kiss her youngest son.

"Uncle Char-lie!" cried Matthew, jumping up and down on the bed in excitement.

"Come here, Squirt!" said Charlie, sweeping the child up in his arms and swinging him around."You been behaving today?"

"Barely," answered Tara, putting her arm around her brother-in-law and kissing his cheek."That child is a handful. I think I'm going to leave him here when no one is looking!"

I stood up, holding onto the edge of dresser as I stood up. Charlie plopped Matthew in Tara's arms and came over to meet me. He opened his arms to me and enfolded me in a warm embrace.

"I'm so glad you're here," I whispered into his shoulder. Charlie rocked us both from side to side."I really wanted you to give me away."

"I'm no substitute for Dad," he whispered back, apologetically. "But I'll do my best to stand in for him."

I choked back tears at his acceptance of my marriage. Charlie let go of me and dug into his pocket. He produced a small medal, which I recognized instantly as one of Dad's.

"Is this old enough?" Charlie asked, dropping it into my palm."I think Ahab would want you to wear it, Starbuck."

****

The Lone Gunmen's Headquarters
1:00 p.m.

"You're not wearing that," Frohike yelled at Langly.

"It's the only thing I have that's clean," he protested, smoothing down the front of his T-shirt. It had a tuxedo print on the front complete with frilly ruffles and a bow tie.

"Then go borrow one of Byers' suits," he suggested, smacking him on the back of the head. Frohike looked like a lounge lizard in the tight blue suit he had on. His hair was all slicked back and he had on a tie so wide it could have its own zip code.

"NO!" shouted Byers, from where he was fixing my tie. "You get away from my suits, Langly. They don't fit you."

"They don't fit me either," I said, nudging his arm. Byers's face was locked into concentration as he wound the silk into the perfect knot.

"Yes, and you still owe me for that suit," Byers said, keeping his attention on the tie."I haven't forgotten about that incident in the hospital."

"Get your ass back in there and find something else," Frohike muttered as Langly disappeared down the hall."I mean, this is Agent Scully's wedding."

"And mine," I added, just to watch his expression.

I had on my darkest suit, the one with the light pinstripes that Scully liked. I looked at my watch. Only one hour to go. It was going to be the longest freaking hour of my life.

"Got the rings?" I asked nervously, trying to focus on something.

"Certainly do," Byers answered, withdrawing his hands from my neck. He reached into his breast pocket and produced a velvet box. "I picked them both up from the jeweler this morning."

He opened it for my inspection. There, cradled inside were our wedding bands. Hers was meant to fit into her engagement ring. Mine was a plain gold band. I didn't want anything too fancy, since odds were I was going to lose mine sticking my hand into something sticky or slippery or alien.

"Nervous?" Frohike asked, sneaking up behind me."After all, she's got an hour to change her mind and declare her undying love for me."

"Dream on," I said, clapping the box shut and handing it back to Byers. I took a deep breath."How do I look?"

"You clean up well," Byers said, with a pleasant smile. He was impeccably dressed himself in a dark gray suit. He must own stock in Remington beard trimmers because his goatee was cleanly shaped around his chin and mouth. Takes years to develop a skill like that. Or maybe he's just more retentive than I originally thought.

"This better?" Langly asked, modeling a horrific plaid jacket.

Byers rolled his eyes and held his hands up in surrender."I can't take it anymore. Fine. You can borrow one of my suits. Let me find one I can live without because I don't think I want it back."

I watched as Byers guided Langly back to his room, all the while muttering something about taste.

"So is there a disaster plan?" Frohike asked, once we were alone. I studied my reflection in the mirror, wondering how Scully could still want to marry me after last night.

"She's not backing out," I said, with confidence. "So you can put your little fantasies on the shelf permanently, Frohike. The delectable Agent Scully is mine."

"Oh, I know that," he said, waving off the comment. "I meant the baby. What if she drops the cargo during the ceremony? Are we prepared for that?"

I glared at his poor choice of words."I don't this she's going to go into labor during the ceremony, Frohike. First babies are supposed to be late and her due date is still a week away."

"Do you have a name picked out?" he asked, picking lint off the back of my shoulders. He looked like one of those chimpanzees on the Discovery Channel cleaning off bugs."Because I'm partial to Melvin. It's fine name and one you don't hear too often."

"Wonder why?" I speculated, motioning him to stop touching me. We'd spent hours with the baby book and debated names back and forth before finally settling on one we both liked."Actually, we do."

"Well, spill it," he coaxed, staring at his own reflection behind mine."What's the little UberMulder going to be called?"

"Stephen," I answered."Stephen Michael Mulder."

"Stephen?" Frohike repeated, wincing."Little Stevie? Oh, he's going to get the shit kicked out of him in grade school."

"Stephen," I reiterated."If you call him 'Little Stevie' I'm going to kick the shit out of you. Personally, I think it'll look good on the back of a baseball card when he becomes the youngest player ever drafted into the New York Yankees."

"Stephen Mulder," he said, listening to the sound of the words.

"Look, I just wanted the kid to have a normal name," I commented."No one should suffer the persecution of a name like Fox."

"May I present to you for your inspection," Byers announced, pressing his palms together and bowing to us."Langly."

He stepped out of the way and extended his hand like Vanna White. Langly shoved Byers out of the way and stared at Frohike and me.

"Is this monkey suit okay?" he asked, tapping his foot impatiently. We both looked down at his feet, seeing Converse All-Stars peeking out beneath the brown slacks.

"I TOLD him to change the shoes," Byers said, shaking his head.

"It's fine," I said, glancing at my watch again."We had better get going."

"It's show time!" Frohike exclaimed, clapping me on the back. He wrapped at arm around me."I get to sit next to Scully's mom. She's still single, right?"

****

4867 Carriagepark Rd
Fairfax, VA
1:55 p.m.

"Are you ready, sis?" Charlie asked, swinging the door to the bedroom open."Everyone is waiting on you."

"I think so," I said, smoothing down the front of my gown. I stared at my reflection in the cheval mirror. My hands lingered over the baby and I smiled nervously."Are you ready, too?"

"You look so beautiful," Charlie said, coming up behind me and putting his hands on my shoulders. He leaned in and kissed my cheek. Ahab's metal was pinned close to my heart.

"Is Mulder down there?" I asked softly.

"Oh yes," Charlie confirmed."And Matthew keeps jumping up and down. I swear that kid has ants in his pants."

A final glance at the wall clock confirmed it was time. I took a deep breath and stayed focused. Whatever happened last night wasn't going to change the future we had planned. They tried their best, but they failed.

Below us, I heard the faint sounds of Pachabel's Cannon in D. I wasn't going to have the wedding march, but I wanted some kind of music for my entrance. Charlie extended his arm to me and I wrapped mine around it and together we stepped into the hall.

How like Ahab Charlie was. He had all his features and his mannerisms. It was because Charlie was the youngest and Ahab was home more with us than he was with Bill and Melissa.

The music swelled louder as we descended the staircase. I gripped the banister tightly with my other hand, afraid of losing my balance. The first thing I saw when I looked down was Mulder. He was smiling from ear to ear as he stood next to Rev. Payton. Tara, Matthew and Mom sat on one side and the Gunmen sat on the other. The photographer my mom hired snapped a few pictures. I had ordered him to take mine from the waist up...which was going to be difficult to do since technically I didn't have a waist anymore.

Charlie laid his free hand over mine which was resting in the crook of his arm. We exchanged knowing looks at each other as we neared the landing. There were even more poinsettias than earlier. Candles were burning all around the room, filling the air with their sweet, waxy fragrance of cinnamon and spice. I kept my eyes locked on Mulder as we approached the fireplace. He smiled at me in such a way that it made my knees feel weak. This was real. We were finally getting married and there was no turning back.

"We are gathered here today to celebrate one of life's greatest moments, to give recognition to the worth and beauty of love, and to add our best wishes to the words which shall unite Dana and Fox in marriage. Should there be anyone who has cause why this couple should not be married, they must speak now or forever hold their peace," Rev. Payton said. The room grew quiet, except for Frohike's incessant coughing. Everyone glared at him until he stopped.

"Sorry," he muttered, gesturing for us to continue. "Frog in my throat. Please continue."

"Who is it that brings this woman to this man?" Rev. Payton asked, resuming the ceremony.

"Her brother," Charlie said proudly.

Charlie passed my hand to Mulder, who eagerly took it in his. Charlie stepped away, leaving just the two of us standing in front of the clergyman. After what seemed like an eternity, Rev. Payton began to speak again.

"Dana and Fox, I would ask that you both remember to treat each other with respect, and remind yourself often of what brought you together today. Give your highest priority to the tenderness, gentleness and kindness that our marriage deserves. When frustration and difficulty assail your marriage--as they do to every relationship at one time or another--focus on what still seems right between you, not only the part that seems wrong. This way, when clouds of trouble hide the sun in your lives and you lose sight of it for a moment, you can remember the sun is still there. And if each of you will take responsibility for the quality of your life together, it will be marked by abundance and delight," he continued, barely glancing at the book held in his hands. He spoke from memory. This was probably a ceremony he'd said a thousand times, yet his words rang true for Mulder and I. Only we didn't have clouds of trouble; we had hurricanes.

He turned to Mulder first."Fox, do you take Dana to be your wife?"

"I do," he answered, squeezing my hand tighter.

"Do you promise to love, honor, cherish and protect her, forsaking all others and holding only unto her forevermore?" Rev. Payton continued.

"I do," he said, emphasizing each word so that the meaning behind them was amplified.

Mulder's eyes grew soft as he stared into mine. I could lose myself forever in their hazel depths. Perhaps, I already have.

****

"Dana, do you take Fox to be your husband?" Rev. Payton asked, turning to Scully.

Her lower lip quivered a bit as her crystal blue eyes met mine again as she deliberated the question momentarily. For just a second, I thought she had changed her mind.

"I do," she finally answered.

"Do you promise to love, honor, cherish and protect him, forsaking all others and holding only unto him forever more?" he asked, repeating the same vows I just agreed to.

"I do," Scully said, with complete sincerity. Tears were shining in the corner of her eyes and she looked so damn beautiful. Everything about her was beautiful today. Her hair, the dress, her hands, her lips. When do I get to kiss her?

"Do you have rings to exchange?" Rev. Payton asked, looking over at Matthew who was standing ready. Tara pushed him forward gently and he marched up between us, holding the pillow up to the clergyman. He took the gold bands off the white satin and smiled at Matthew, who let out a squeal of laughter.

"Matthew! Shhhh," Tara said, standing up and reaching for her son. She tugged him into her lap, trying to keep him quiet. But his happy laughter was contagious, even Scully was suppressing her own giggles. "I'm sorry. Matthew, hush!"

Rev. Payton handed Scully's ring to me, regaining control of the ceremony."Please repeat after me. I, Fox Mulder, take thee, Dana Scully to be my wife."

I reached for Scully's left hand. My fingers trembled slightly as I positioned the ring over her fourth digit."I, Fox Mulder, take thee, Dana Scully to be my wife."

Her cheeks flushed slightly when I spoke her first name. The first time in years I said it out loud to her.

"To have and to hold, in sickness and in health, for richer and for poorer, in joy and in sorrow and I promise my love to you," Rev. Payton continued, motioning for me to repeat.

"To have and to hold, in sickness and in health, for richer and for poorer, in joy and in sorrow and I promise my love to you," I repeated, hoping she felt the emotion I tried to convey with my voice. I have waited so long to speak those words to Scully aloud. In my heart, I've already said them a thousand times.

"With this ring, I take you as my wife, for as long as we both shall live," Rev. Payton finished.

I slid the ring over her finger, watching as it fit snugly into her engagement ring. The blue topaz, representing our son, sparkled brighter than even the diamond."With this ring, I take you as my wife, for as long as we both shall live."

Scully let out a sigh and pressed her lips together. A tear slipped out of her eye and I watched as it fell down her cheek. I hoped it was a tear of joy.

Now it was Scully's turn. Rev. Payton handed her my ring."Please repeat after me. I, Dana Scully, take thee, Fox Mulder to be my husband."

"I, Dana Scully, take thee, Fox Mulder to be my husband," she said, repeating the vow softly. We repositioned our hands so my ring resting lightly over my finger, ready to be pushed down at the right moment.

"To have and to hold, in sickness and in health, for richer and for poorer, in joy and in sorrow and I promise my love to you," Rev. Payton said, waiting patiently for her to say them.

"To have and to hold, in sickness and in health, for richer and for poorer, in joy and in sorrow and I promise my love to you," Scully said, covering my hand with mine. Her thin fingers clutched at mine.

"With this ring, I take you as my husband, for as long as we both shall live," Rev. Payton said.

Scully pushed the ring down over my knuckle until it was in place."With this ring, I take you as my husband, for as long as we both shall live."

We moved closer to each other, our hands completely entwined. I wanted to lean over and kiss her right then, but I knew I had to wait. Damn traditions.

"Fox and Dana as the two of you come into this marriage as husband and wife, and as you this day affirm your faith and love to one another, I would ask that you always remember to cherish each other as special and unique individuals, that you respect the thoughts, ideas and suggestions of one another," he said, pausing for a moment to catch his breath. We both glared at each other knowingly. She couldn't stop being a skeptic anymore than I could stop being a believer.

"Fox and Dana, in so much as the two of you have agreed to live together in Matrimony, have promised your love to each other by these vows, the joining of your hands and the giving of these rings, I now declare you to be husband and wife," he finished, spreading his arms wide."Congratulations, you may kiss your bride."

Finally. I cupped her face in both my hands, stroking the softness of her cheeks before pulling her mouth to mine. We kissed, open and inhibited in front of everyone. For those few seconds, there was no one else in the room except Scully and I.

"It is my privilege to present to you for the first time, Mr. and Mrs. Fox Mulder."

****

4867 Carriagepark Rd
Fairfax, VA
8:55 p.m.

"Last one! Last one!" cried Matthew, holding a small package up to me. He was up way past his bedtime and loving every minute of it. Just like Bill, the child loved presents. Bill was always the first one up on Christmas day to open presents.

"Thank you, Matt," I said, kissing him on the cheek sloppily as I took the white package wrapped with silver ribbon from him. It had been a long afternoon. After the ceremony, there were pictures. Then, we all left for a fancy restaurant for a 'reception' dinner my mother arranged for us. We came back about an hour ago to open presents and eat cake.

"Who's it from?" asked Tara, who was writing down names and gifts for me. We were all in the living room, resting and relaxing. I sat in the center of the couch with my swollen feet propped up on the coffee table.

"Frohike?" I said, surprised such a pretty package came from him. Langly's was wrapped in the Sunday comics.

"Yep," he said, straightening his jacket awkwardly. Everyone in the room was staring at him now."What? I can't be traditional once in a while?"

I felt two hands rest on my shoulders, then knead my muscles gently. Mulder took advantage of the distraction to whisper in my ear.

"Hurry Scully," he breathed."I'm anxious to start our honeymoon."

My cheeks flushed instantly from the sensual way he said that. I was having hot flashes all the time and no one would notice. My fingers trembled as I tore open the package. Inside was a white box. I slid my nail under the seal and snapped the tape. I dug around in the white tissue and let out a little gasp.

"Frohike," I said, holding up a crystal goblet. There were two inside and I held one up to Mulder for his inspection."These are beautiful."

Charlie let out a low whistle."Very nice."

"Waterford," Byers said appreciatively."I'm impressed. I didn't know you could even spell Waterford."

"Well, I just wanted to get you something special," Frohike mumbled, embarrassed by the attention.

"You're a romantic," Langly teased, smacking him gently on the back of the head.

"Thank you," I said sincerely. If it wasn't so damn hard to get off the couch, I'd kiss him."Thank you all. I'm overwhelmed."

Half the presents were for the baby, the other half were for us. Mulder let out a sigh of disappointment upon inspecting underneath the tree. There was nothing from his mother. Not that he really expected there to be, but I could tell he would have liked her to have acknowledged this day.

"I put the top of the cake in the freezer," Mom said, coming back from the kitchen."You have to save it for your first anniversary."

I looked over at Mulder warily. I'd eaten three slices of the cake tonight."I'll try. But the urge for sweets can be overpowering."

"I'll make sure you don't get up in the middle of the night," Mulder said, with a sly grin.

Matthew let out a huge yawn then buried his face into Tara's chest. She wrapped her arms around him protectively.

"Someone is tired," she said, laying her cheek on his head. She rocked her son gently.

"Am not!" he protested, fighting it all the way.

"Yes you are," Tara said, smoothing his hair back. "We'd better get going over to Grandma's house so you can go to bed, Mister."

"Nooooo," Matthew cried, wriggling in his mother's arms. I smiled, imaging myself having the same conversation with my son in a couple years. I hoped I would be as good at it as Tara was."Don't want to."

"No if, ands or buts, Matthew Scully," she said, standing up. She carried him in her arms over to Mom.

"Let's get your coat on," Mom said, hugging her grandson tightly. Charlie, Tara and Matthew were spending the night with her. We weren't going anywhere and Mulder was off work for the next week. We would go on a honeymoon later, after the baby was born and I had a chance to recover. Maybe in about ten years.

"Yeah, we'd better hit the road, too," Frohike said, punching Mulder in the arm. He made some weird clicking sound with his mouth as he winked."I'm sure you two want to be alone."

I reached out and Tara took my hands to pull me up off the couch. "We'll see you both tomorrow for brunch at Margaret's house. Is eleven o'clock too early?"

"We'll be there," I replied, adjusting my dress back into place. The house was pretty clean, considering all the commotion that was going on all day. Mom took care of it.

Mulder handed Langly, Frohike and Byers their coat from the hall closet."Thanks for everything, guys."

"No problem," Byers said, shaking Mulder's hand in both of his."It was an honor to stand up for you today."

"And thanks for helping me with the house," Mulder added, with a smile."As you can see, it turned out pretty good."

"We didn't do it for you," Frohike said, as I waddled over to Mulder. He wrapped an arm around my shoulders and drew me close. I leaned on him for support."We did it for the delectable Agent Scully. Or is it Agent Mulder now? Agent Scully-Mulder?"

"Just Scully," I corrected, gazing up at my husband. I wasn't going to change my name professionally. Our son was going to be a Mulder. Stephen Michael Mulder.

Within seconds, we were being kissed and hugged by everyone. The Gunmen were first, followed by Charlie and Tara. Lastly, my mom, with Matthew already asleep in her arms. She rotated her body around so I could hug her neck and kiss her cheek.

"I love you," I said, feeling tears again welling up in my throat."Thank you so much."

"I love you, Dana," she confirmed, kissing me again. Her eyes fell on the medal still pinned to my dress."I only wish your father could have seen you today. He'd be so proud of you."

I touched the medal lightly."He was here in spirit."

"Bye Fox," she said, as Mulder pulled her into his arm."You take care of your wife."

Wife. I am Mulder's wife now. I think that will take some getting used to.

"I will," he said, kissing her forehead gently."Thank you, Margaret."

He held the door for her as she shuffled out the door. Mulder and I shuffled outside in the cold to wave goodbye to everyone. Langly beeped the horn of the Westphalia loudly, surely disturbing all our neighbors. I huddled against him for warmth as we watched them all pull away and disappear down the street.

I shivered and pulled back to step inside. Mulder did the same, locking the door securely behind him.

"Is there any cake left?" I wondered, looking into the kitchen longingly. The baby kicked me a couple times as he shifted around, hopefully settling in for the night.

Mulder swept my hair off my shoulder and kissed my neck."Do you really want to eat cake, Scully?" he murmured into my shoulder.

He shifted positions so he could cup my face in his hands. My big belly was up against his abdomen so he had to lean over it to kiss me. Mistletoe hung suspiciously over our heads. He had that crap hung up all over the house.

"Mul-der," I whispered, with a long sigh after our lips finally parted."I don't want to disappoint you, but..." I gestured to the baby,"I'm too big for it now."

"No you're not," he said, laying his hands on the baby and rubbing in small circles."Doesn't it help induce labor or something?"

"No, I think it makes dents in the top of the baby's head," I countered, in all seriousness, knowing there was some truth to that wives tale he just cited."Do you really want your son to have dents in his cranium and then you'll have to explain it?"

Mulder laughed, touching his forehead to mine."I'll just tell him I couldn't keep my hands off his mother on our wedding night."

"He'll think that's completely disgusting," I answered, remember an incident long ago when I caught my mother and father in a compromising position. You never want to think your parents actually have sex.

"As long as you don't," he replied, playing with the curls still left in my hair. Mulder reached over to the switch plate behind my head and turned off the lights. It was completely dark, except for the Christmas tree lights twinkling in the corner. A rush of adrenaline surged through me. The house was completely silent, except for the sound of our breathing.

Mulder's lips brushed mine, sending a current of electricity through me. I parted my mouth, allowing his tongue access inside. His arms fell around my shoulders and mine wrapped awkwardly around his waist. We kissed over and over again, making out like two teenagers instead of middle age adults who just got married.

"Want to go upstairs, Scully?" Mulder suggested, nuzzling my cheek."Or do you want to do it under the mistletoe?"

"I think you have it hung over the bed, too," I pointed out, still feeling very self-conscious about my body. I had the urge, I just wasn't sure I'd be able to follow through. After all, you only have one wedding night. Granted, most brides aren't nine months pregnant and due in a week. "You're not going to carry me over the threshold, are you?"

"I was going to try. Something traditional, remember?" Mulder said, fingering the tiny pear buttons down the front bodice of my breasts. There had to be at least twenty."Please tell me this dress has a zipper in the back or else it's going to take all night."

"It has a zipper in the back," I said, waddling around to show him. Mulder's hands steadied my shoulders and prevented me from turning back to face him. Instead, he reached up and pulled the zipper down. His lips caressed the nape of my neck, which made my nipples harden. It was such an erogenous zone.

"Can I touch your breasts?" he asked, slipping his hands inside the dress and feeling me up from the back. I leaned back into his arms and enjoyed the massage.

"Just be careful," I warned. But Mulder was good with my breasts now, only took me six months to train him. How disappointed he was going to be when he finds out I'll be back in a B cup after breastfeeding was over.

"You look so beautiful today, Scully," he said, hands exploring my abdomen and buttocks."I nearly lost it when you came down the stairs with Charlie."

"You did seem a bit nervous," I answered, between soft moans. I pressed my palms against the wall to steady myself. Mulder's hips were pressed into my buttocks and I could feel his hardness even through the layers of clothing."Were you afraid I was going to leave you stranded at the altar?"

"After last night, I wouldn't blame you if you did," he said, crushing my body to his."My mother couldn't even acknowledge our marriage and your entire family minus Bill was here to support us. I wish I could provide you with the same sense of family."

"You are," I said, pushing myself off the wall and turning to face him. I placed both his hands on my belly."We're going to be a family soon enough."

Mulder smiled faintly. He really had no idea what a family was like. A functional family with a mother and father who loved each other and kept no secrets. I'm sure this baby frightens him just as much as it delights him. There is so much to learn. So much to screw up. Even with my family background, I was still completely unsure of my own parenting skills.

"Yes we are," he said, after a long while. Mulder took a step backwards and started up the stairs. He raised his eyebrows at me invitingly as he glanced up towards our bedroom.

There were other ways of making love besides intercourse. I knew that as well as Mulder did. Whatever he was planning to do to me would be worth hiking up those twenty-two stairs to find out. I was half-in, half-out of my dress so I wrapped it around my body so not to trip as I slowly started to ascend the stairs. Mulder was right behind me, his hand on the small of my back to steady me.

****

Scully's curvy hips teased me as she moved up the stairs. My fingers caressed her lower back as I struggle to walk with the increasing hard-on I'm sporting underneath my suit. My last wedding night was nothing like this. Diana wanted to make it quick since she was leaving the next morning to fly out to Europe and she hated jet lag. Always thinking of herself, my ex-wife.

My current wife paused momentarily to catch her breath before continuing upwards. Her left hand was resting on the banister and I cover it with mine, smiling at the sight of our wedding bands. It's official. It's legal. It's forever.

Scully started up again and I eagerly followed her. She's worried about disappointing me tonight. She could never disappoint me. I want to make love to my wife because I want to show her how much I love her and how much I need her and how much this day meant to me. My own pleasure will be derived from watching hers. I can't think of a more perfect ending to this day then watching Scully come. Correct that. Watching my wife come.

We finally end up on the upstairs landing and I take the opportunity to remove the dress from her body, letting it pool into a puddle on the floor. Scully has on rather lacy slip with thigh high stockings. She gave up panty hose two months ago, but apparently thigh-highs with elastics tops were okay for today. I see something blue peeking out underneath her hemline and I bent down to inspect it.

"A garter?" I said, bemused by the little satiny band. I fingered it playfully, using it as an excuse to touch her inner thigh."Is this something blue?"

"No," she replied, exhaling the word."It's something borrowed. I have something else blue on."

"Oh," I said, now burning with curiosity as to what it could be. Must be her maternity underwear, everything else she had on was a pale beige."I guess I'll need to find out what it is."

"Guess you will," she said, heading for the bedroom.

"Wait," I called out sternly. Scully stopped in her tracks and turned her head.

"What?" she asked, confused by the tone in my voice.

"This," I said, scooping her up in my arms. Her arms grasped my neck nervously as I swept my arm underneath her legs. Even pregnant, she still felt light in my arms."I wanted to carry you over the threshold."

"Mul-der," she scolded, relaxing a bit in my arms. It was only about five steps to the bedroom and I wanted to do it right. I turned us sideways so we'd both fit through the door and I carefully lay her down in the center of the bed. Our four-poster bed. Just like the one she had in St. Louis.

Scully shifts a bit, trying to get comfortable. She propped herself up on her elbows and slid her legs against each other seductively. Then, she parted her knees slightly. Providing me a glimpse of her blue underwear.

I loosened the knot of my tie and threw it off to the side. My jacket was next. Scully's eyes watched me carefully as I did my little striptease with an amused expression. I grabbed her calves and pulled her back towards the edge so her legs were dangling off. Scully let out a surprised yelp. I knelt in front of her, with my torso between her knees.

"C'mere Scully," I said, mimicking a voice I used when we were playing house in Arcadia."It's okay. We're married now."

"I guess I can't kick you out of bed this time," she said, sitting up. She ran her hands through my hair. She leaned forward and kissed my forehead, my nose and finally my mouth.

Her soft, supple lips parted mine and then our tongues meshed frantically. She could devour me whole with just one kiss. She kisses that good. It killed me to have to break it off.

"Lie back," I instructed, playing with the lace tops of her thigh highs. The silk felt heavenly beneath my fingers. Scully settled back into a reclining position, carefully monitoring my every move. Her breathing was shallow and unsteady and her eyes were clouded over.

I started with her left leg, extending it straight so I could roll off the stocking slowly. I kissed a line down her inner thigh, eliciting moans from Scully the entire time. I repeated it with her right leg, but that time I let my tongue trace the line.

She was absolutely beautiful. Radiant. Stunning. I wanted to see her naked so I could admire her body. I took hold of the hemline and started to shimmy it up her body when Scully stopped me. She looked embarrassed as she glanced at her belly.

"The baby dropped Mulder," she said, a slight flush in her cheeks.

"Can I see?" I asked, trying to charm her with my smile. Her resolve crumbled down as she let go of the hemline. I slid her slip over her head, leaving Scully wearing only her bra and underwear. Little blue bikini underwear? I smiled at her stomach, tightly rounded with the baby. She had dropped quite a bit."You're beautiful, Scully."

My words hung in the air for a while before she finally acknowledged them. Scully reached around to the back of her bra and unfastened it, her supple breasts released from their constraints. Her rosy nipples were already hardened and I took one in my mouth, lavishing it with my tongue.

"Hmmmmm," she purred, enjoying the sensation. I started in on the other breast as my hand felt for the elastic band of her panties. I yanked them down as well as I could. Scully had to help me, since maneuvering it around our son was a bit difficult. They quickly fell to the floor along with my clothes.

"I love you, Scully," I breathed, before tracing a line with my finger down her belly. I circled her navel twice then continued the journey to the soft curls that hid her sex.

Scully shifted again and she bit her lip in anticipation. Her chest heaved and she arched her back slightly as I delved into her folds, separating them carefully and searching for the right spot. The passage was slickened with hot wetness that ran over my fingers. Her essence that I was eager to taste. My thumb pressed up and into her clit, working it in slow circles. Judging from the languid expression on Scully's features, she was comfortable with this. I smiled at her and she smiled back. My wife. My beautiful, pregnant wife.

I spread her skin back to allow my mouth to replace my thumb. With the first touch of my tongue on her damp flesh, Scully shuddered before easing against me. I teased her at first with light, fluttering strokes on her swollen bud. I could do this forever and never get tired of it. Some men think this is a chore, but I think it's a privilege and an honor. Nothing gets me off faster than the taste of Scully on my tongue.

My own arousal was pulsing and I continued to ignore it. This was for Scully. I let my tongue linger over that bundle of nerves, listening carefully for Scully's moans to increase in volume. Her thighs gripped my face as I worked over her in long, languorous strokes.

"Mulder," she repeated. Over and over again. Her hands grabbed at the quilted bedspread, pulling it tightly in her first. She was close. Oh so close. I suckled faster, establishing the rhythm Scully preferred. Her hips bucked against my mouth and then, her body started to quake. She cried out one final time before the orgasm hit her, making her tremble with pleasure.

I continued applying pressure with my tongue, enjoying the throbbing sensation. I tried to prolong it as long as possible. Her bucking stopped and she finally relaxed into the bed with a happy, satisfied expression on her face.

I crawled up the bed to join her, propping myself up on my elbow and gazing down at her lovely face. A thin layer of sweat made her skin glisten in the low light. I traced her features slowly, over every curve and plane. I never wanted to forget how she looked tonight.

"I love you, Mulder," she exhaled, bringing her hand up to my face. She drew me down and kissed me hard, mingling her tongue with mine. I was certain she could taste herself on my mouth.

While we kissed, my hand traveled down her body to the baby. I laid my hand protectively over our son. Scully's hand soon followed and rested over mine. Mother, father and child.

***

Part Ten

4867 Carriagepark Rd
Fairfax, VA
6:55 a.m.


I figured Scully wasn't really sleeping. Still, on the off chance she might be, I crept around our bedroom trying to dress for work. I went back to the grindstone yesterday after taking the week off following our wedding. Her due date came and went on Sunday with Scully having only a few contractions. She cleaned, she cooked, she nested. . . but no baby. Deep down, it worried her.

I told her it's a date basically pulled out of the air. Based on approximations of estimations of possibilities, all piled on top of one another so the final number must be hopelessly inaccurate. There could have been measuring errors in the sonogram, operator error with the machine, and calibration errors. There are statistical deviations from the norms used as baselines for the equations that determine due dates and statistical deviations of babies and when they're ready to come out. Into this mess, throw doctors' prejudices and preferences, as well as medical science's conservatism and dogmatism. Due dates are only estimates.

All this just was a smoke screen for the real fear inside her. The chip. What if she really needed it?

I threw it back in Diana's face, not wanting to accept anything from her or that bastard she worked for. I know Scully can do this. She's strong. The hell they have put her through was a testament to that. I turned around to see her small form huddled underneath the blankets with only a hint of copper hair sticking out on the pillow.

She was going to work with me today. I didn't really want her anywhere near the Hoover Building but I wasn't about to argue with a pregnant woman in her fortieth week. She wanted to get into the lab and review my mother's medical records we had shipped down here. Scully was hoping to find a way to stop the cancer before it started. Her efforts were in vain because I knew my mother wouldn't accept treatment. Whatever they'd done to her she apparently accepted, the deal was made long before I was even born and all my interventions had failed.

She didn't come to our wedding. She didn't return my phone calls. I didn't want her to die or suffer through cancer alone and I can't comprehend why she was even allowing this to happen. I can't fucking help her if she doesn't want to be saved.

"Mulder?" Scully asked, her voice somewhat muffled under the cover.

"Yeah, Scully?" I replied, snaking my tie around my neck. I moved to her side instantly.

"You let me sleep too late," she said, glaring at the clock."I wanted to get up a half-hour ago."

"You were tired," I countered, sitting on the edge beside her."Are you sure you really want to go?"

"I'm sure," she answered, pulling the covers back to reveal her naked form. Scully lunged for her bathrobe lying at the foot of the bed and wrapped it around her body."There are some things I want to do before the baby arrives."

"It can wait," I reassured her, watching as she tried to fasten it over her large belly."Scully, you need to focus on your own health, not my mother's."

"Dr. Weiss says it could be another week," she stated, scooting past me and off the bed."I can't sit around and dwell on it. Otherwise, I start getting scared."

"Scared?" I repeated softly.

"What if I can't handle the pain? What if there are complications? What if the baby's heart rate starts falling?" she started, as she waddled around the room nervously. She stopped right in front of me, her face suddenly pale."What if I need that. . .

"No," I said firmly, deliberately cutting her off. "You don't. This is just what they want us to believe, that we can't do this without their help."

"What's this we stuff?" she retorted, putting her hands on her hips."I don't see a nine pound baby protruding out of your womb, Mulder."

"No, I don't," I acquiesced, laying my hands on my stomach and making it stick out a bit."And I'm not even going to patronize you by saying I understand what it is you're going through because I don't." I put my hands on her shoulders."But I know you can do this, Scully. If you don't go into labor, they'll induce you. If there are complications, you'll have a C-section. Your doctor will do everything she can to make sure you deliver this baby safely. And the last thing I'm going to do is allow them to stick that damn chip in your neck."

Scully's lower lip trembled and she placed her hands on her face as she exhaled."I'm just scared, Mulder. I can read every medical journal, watch every film on childbirth, listen to every account and still have no idea exactly what is going to happen when I go into labor."

"C'mere," I said, pulling her into my arms. I rocked her gently side to side, my hand cradling her head."You're not going to be going through this alone, Scully. I'll be there and your mother will be there. I bet Frohike will even show up if you want him too, although I'm sure he'll pass out at the first sign of blood."

She laughed nervously into my chest."I don't want Frohike in there, Mulder. He can wait outside, thank you."

"For the record, I'm scared too," I whispered, kissing her forehead. I was more scared of what was going to happen after the baby was born. I was determined we weren't going to live our lives in fear. This baby apparently wasn't in their plans for the hybrid program, although I had the sneaking suspicious I was. Somehow, Samantha was an integral part, that much I believed was true. Too many genetic experiments involved her already.

The alarm clock went off, blaring the sounds of"I Can't Get No Satisfaction" into the quiet of our bedroom. We both started to laugh at its loud intrusion.

"I better get dressed," Scully said, pulling away from my embrace."I don't think they've changed the dress code to allow terrycloth robes." She headed for the bathroom, then shut the door loudly behind her.

I adjusted my tie in the mirror. I really didn't look much like a father. I looked like Fox Mulder, the FBI's most unwanted agent saving the world from colonization, freaks and mutants. I guess I was expecting some great transformation to occur. A beam of light would hit me and empower me with all answers I need to know about parenting. But every day that didn't happen, I was faced with the realization that this was a learn as you go process. I certainly couldn't claim to have had a good paternal role model to fall back on either.

"Sorry Stephen," I whispered to my reflection."This is what you're stuck with for your old man."

At least my son was getting a first class mother. Despite all her fears and worries, I knew Scully was a natural. All the cases we've been on that involved children, from those evil Eve girls to Gibson Praise, Scully was in her element. And then came Emily, where I saw her mothering skills as their best. If Emily hadn't died, Scully would have found a way to raise her with or without me.

I heard the shower start with the now familiar squeak of the pipes. This old house still needed a lot of work, plumbing including. It didn't look like I was going to have any time to work on it either and I wasn't going to let the Gunmen touch the plumbing. Took them weeks to rewire the electricity after they messed with it.

RING

I spun around and headed for the phone, wondering who would be calling at this early hour. I reached for it on the second ring so Scully wouldn't hear it. I didn't want her slipping in the shower to find out who was on the phone.

"Mulder," I answered flatly. The caller ID listed "out of area" as the originating number.

"Fox?"

"Mom?" I asked, recognizing her voice instantly."Where are you?"

"I'm in Baltimore," she replied, sounding breathless and shaky."I have to see you, Fox."

I looked up, watching the bathroom door carefully. I hunched over, cupping the phone against my ear and speaking in hushed tones."Why haven't you returned my calls? We've been trying to reach you. Scully thinks she can find a way stop your cancer..."

"Fox," she repeated, ignoring everything I was saying. "I need to see you."


****

J. Edgar Hoover Building
Washington, DC
12:45 p.m.


The corridors of the Hoover Building were sparkling with various Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwaanza decorations. Christmas was only three days away and I hated being reminded that I had nothing done. I'd been having more Braxton-Hicks contractions all day, some more intense than others, but no progression. I slowly waddled down the corridor, headed for Mulder's office. He had left earlier on some assignment and hoped to be back around noon. It was almost an hour later and he hadn't called. I hoped to find some information in his office as to where Skinner might have sent him.

I took a secret joy all day in seeing the terrified looks on people's faces when they would ask me when I was due and I would respond, "Two days ago." It was as if they thought I was going to suddenly squat and deliver right on the spot.

I spent a few hours reviewing my own medical records of when my cancer started and how it progressed. The first thing I wanted to do was have Teena Mulder's cranial cavity X-rayed, just to see if she had developed any tumors or suspicious growths. Mulder didn't want to see her die anymore than I did. Deep down, I knew he still loved her. I hoped our son would offer her another reason to live.

I finally reached Mulder's office and found the door to be open. Suspiciously, I pushed it in and flipped the light on. It was in shambles. Stacks of paper were thrown all over the floor, all the drawers had been pulled out and dumped. Someone had ransacked his office looking for something. My heart pounded hard in my chest as I backed slowly out. I reached for my cell phone and dialed security immediately.

"This is Special Agent Dana Scully," I started, trying to keep my voice steady."There's been an intruder in Special Agent Fox Mulder's office. I need someone to come down immediately."

"We've got you on the security cam," he replied, as I looked up at the camera perched on the wall."We'll be right down. Hold on."

I tried to steady my breathing as I massaged my back, pacing the hall. Damn it. What the hell were they looking for? I knew it had to be either Krycek or Fowley. They both seemed to move freely in the Hoover Building whenever they needed to. They must have control over someone on the inside.

"Is everything all right, Agent Scully?" asked Skinner, rounding the corner and heading towards me. He looked anxious."I just got a call from security. Someone's been in Mulder's office?"

"Yes," I replied, as he put a hand on my shoulder. "I just went in there to look for Mulder and discovered it."

"Where is Agent Mulder?" he asked, narrowing his eyes slightly."He was supposed to report to me this morning at 9:30 a.m. but called in. Something about getting a lead. Do you have any idea where he is?"

I stared at Skinner incredulously. Goddamn it. Where had Mulder gone this time? I felt sick and nervous and faint. Luckily, Skinner put his arm around me for support. I leaned against him, wanting to collapse. He shuffled us both over to a chair in the hallway. By now, security was running down the hallway and other Agents had stopped to find out what the commotion was about.

"Agent Kelly," Skinner said, motioning to woman with long blond hair."Can you make sure Agent Scully is okay? I have to handle security right now." She nodded her acceptance.

"Hi, I'm Mya," she said, crouching down so we were eye level."Congratulations, by the way. I heard about you and Agent Mulder."

"Thanks," I murmured, shifting on the chair uncomfortably. Suddenly, I felt something wet and thick in my underwear. All the blood drained from my face."Mya?"

"Yes?" she answered eagerly, laying a hand on my arm.

"Can you help me to the bathroom?" I asked calmly, not wanting to alarm her."I just really have to go."

"Sure," she replied, standing up and helping me to my feet. I held onto her arm as we headed for the bathroom."I remember this well, having to pee every five minutes. When are you due?"

"Was due," I corrected, trying not to wince as another contraction pierced my side."Two days ago."

Mya held the door open for me and I brushed past her. Like everyone else, she seemed very nervous at this revelation."Do you need me to come inside?"

"No," I answered, waddling into the first stall."I can take it from here."

I waited until she closed the door before I locked the stall. I pulled my slacks and underwear down shakily before sitting on the toilet to get a better view of what it was causing the discomfort. I gasped when I saw something thick and streaked with blood.

My mucous plug.


****

Hyland Clinic
Baltimore, Maryland
12:45 p.m.


The address my mother gave me led to fertility clinic in Baltimore. Its sterile and cold environment felt too much like the other experiment locations I'd stumbled across over the years. I walked down the hallway, following the set of instructions I was given. It seemed to be a legitimate facility by all outward appearances, yet I was only looking at a facade. Something else was going on here, probably the hybrid experiments Diana spoke about if she indeed was telling the truth.

My gun was within reach and I watched my back as I made my way to room 265. It was at the end of a long, dark corridor with the only light emanating from behind the door. It was not unlike the state institution where Marita was kept, only this one was a lot smaller. Various technicians moved in and out of doors, some marked 'sterile.' No one stopped me to question where I was going or what I was doing there.

Cautiously, I pushed the door in, preparing to be ambushed. But all I found was my mother sitting in a rocking chair facing the window. Sunlight streamed across her, bathing her in light. After my eyes adjusted, I walked towards her. It was then I noticed she was not alone.

"Mom?" I asked, staring down at the bundle in her arms.

"Fox," she replied, looking up at me. She'd been crying, her eyes were red and swollen."I wasn't sure if you were coming."

She got up slowly, cradling the child to her breast. She kept facing the window, rocking her body back and forth. The baby made gurgling noises and one little hand had a hold of her index finger. There was no mistaking it was a girl, judging from the pink blankets and frilly sleeper.

"Mom," I began, forcing my cracked voice out of my throat. My body tensed as I held my ground, maintaining my distance from them. "Whose child is that?"

My mother leaned into the baby, nuzzling her gently with her nose and speaking in low whispers."She looks so much like her mother did at this age."

"And what age is that?" I continued, yet my mind had already made the calculation. About eight weeks, I estimated, judging from the baby books I had been reading. Something dark started twisting in the pit of my stomach. This what cruel. Very cruel to do this to her.

"It almost feels like I'm holding her, Fox," she choked out between sobs."I'm almost holding my baby again."

I stepped towards them and laid a shaking hand on her shoulder. Finally, I was close enough to see the baby's face. It could be Samantha. . .but was that just what my mind wanted to see? Her large, brown eyes sparkled in the sunlight before long lashes covered them.

"Mom," I repeated, trying to clear my throat."Whose child is that?"

"Don't you know, Mr. Mulder?"

I snapped back around to find the Smoking Man standing in the threshold. There was a cigarette dangling in his mouth. He took out a match and started to light it, then shook out the flame. He let the cigarette fall to the ground and crushed it with his heel.

"Guess I really shouldn't smoke with the little one around," he said, attempting to smile.

"You son of a bitch," I hissed, drawing my gun and holding it on him. My mother held the child protectively and turned away from the both of us, retreating to a dark corner of the room.

"Is that any way to speak to me?" he patronized, coming towards us. I released the lock on the trigger and he heard it snap."After all, I'm the one who arranged this little family reunion."

"You go to hell," I shouted, wondering how far the three of us would make it if I shot him right now."Is the part where you tell me that baby is Samantha's child and out of the goodness of your fucking heart you decided to let my mom see her, huh? Is that it?"

"No," he replied, rotating on his heel so he was standing in my line of fire."I was referring to you and me."

"What are you saying?" my mother gasped, fear in her voice.

"C'mon, Teena," he purred, taking another cigarette out and rolling it between his fingers."I think it's time we stopped pretending, don't you?"

"Leave her alone," I ordered, darting my eyes from my mother to him."Go on, get out of here, Mom." I fished my keys out with one hand and threw them on the floor by her feet."Take the child and go!"

My mother didn't move. Instead, she held onto the baby even tighter and retreated even further. What the hell was wrong with her? Why wasn't she going?

"Teena, haven't you told him about that little deal you made with me?" he continued, ignoring the gun pointed in his face."It wasn't so long ago that you've forgotten, have you?"

My mother hung her head lower, then raised it back up. Fury burned in her eyes."No, I haven't forgotten. You have *never* let me forget!"

"Forget what?" I shouted at both of them. The child burst into tears, obviously startled by the harshness. My mother bounced her up and down in an attempt to calm her.

"Your mother came to me behind her husband's back and begged me to help her have a baby. She knew enough about Bill's work to know it was in my power to do that. But she had to agree to have two babies," he said, his words poisoning the air around us."And I, well, saw an opportunity present itself."

"You're not his father," she fired back defensively. "You're not!"

"Mom," I demanded, lowering my gun slightly. Anger coursed through my veins and it made my hands unsteady."Is this true?"

"Of course it's true," he said, matter-of-factly. "All these years, Mr. Mulder, don't tell me you never suspect it."

"I loved my husband," my mother cried at him. Then, she looked in my eyes."I never wanted to hurt him or you, Fox. You're *my* son and I love you."

"Bill knew the truth and he hated what you stood for. He didn't want to be a part of those experiments and fought against them from the start. Every time he looked into your face he was reminded that his life belonged to us. And so did his family," he continued.

"Shut up!" I yelled, taking another step towards him. My finger flexed back on the trigger."Leave her alone!"

"You never could pull the trigger, could you?" he taunted smugly.

I lined him up in my site, aiming for his head. Point blank.

"Ever wonder why that was? I think you must have suspected all along. You couldn't kill your father. . ."

A muffled shot rang out and he fell forward, collapsing on the floor.


****

J. Edgar Hoover Building
Washington, DC
1:00 p.m.


The mucous plug stops up the cervix during pregnancy. Towards the end pregnancy, it can come out. One could lose the mucous plug hours or days or weeks before true labor began. I cleaned myself up as best as I could, buying a maxi pad in the vending machine to soak up any more blood that might come out. I washed my hands in the sink, then splashed cool water on my face in an effort to calm myself. It didn't help.

"Agent Scully, are you okay?" came a knock on the door.

"Uh, yeah," I called out, just before Mya peeked her head in. She looked me up and down thoroughly and I knew she suspected something was wrong."Too much excitement."

"You were in here a while," she began, coming over to stand beside me."Are you sure everything is all right?"

"I'm fine," I answered, forcing myself to smile.

"Assistant Director Skinner wants to ask you a few questions if you feel up to it," she continued, yanking a few paper towels off the dispenser and handing them to me.

"Okay," I replied, drying my face. I looked very pale and my hands were shaking, which she picked up on immediately.

Mya held the door open for me as I walked back into the hallway. By now, there was a small crowd outside of Mulder's office. Probably the first time any of them have been to the basement. No one ever bothered to stop by before.

Skinner was breathing heavily and sweat was beading across his forehead. He looked sick or feverish as he tried to corral the three-ring circus going on. We followed him to an empty broom closet down a couple doors from Mulder's office. He motioned for Mya to go. There was barely enough room for both of us to stand with my belly in the way. Skinner maneuvered around me and closed the door for privacy.

"Do you have any idea what they were looking for?" he asked directly, staring me down.

"No sir," I replied honestly."Unless they were looking for Mulder."

"Where did he tell you he was going?" Skinner asked, breathing heavy.

"He said you sent him out of assignment," I answered, carefully observing his physical state. Memories of the carbon poisoning came flooding back, the same thing that killed Marita. Suddenly, I was scared. Krycek was behind that. It stood to reason. . .

I gripped my abdomen tightly as another contraction hit me. This one was stronger than the others were. Skinner was quick to steady my shoulders.

"Agent Scully?" he asked, voice filled with concern.

It took a minute for me to focus again."A contraction, I've been having them all day."

He took a deep breath and studied me, as if deciding what he should do next."Should we call an ambulance?"

"No," I answered, feeling claustrophobic all of a sudden. I clawed my way to the door, opening it to breathe."But I need to call my doctor. And my mother."

Skinner kept an arm around me as we walked to the nearest office. I sat down in a chair while he pulled the phone around towards me. I dialed the number of the office automatically as Skinner paced the room. He was much tenser than he should be.

"Hi, this is Dana Scully calling for Dr. Weiss," I began, but then was put on hold while she was paged. I closed my eyes, fearing the worst had happened to Mulder. Now I know why he didn't tell me where he was going this morning. Either they lured him away or he left on purpose, knowing they'd be looking for him. Maybe that was the real reason he didn't want me to come to work with him today. I squeezed my eyes shut, not wanting to theorize on Mulder's whereabouts anymore. There was no logic where Mulder was concerned.

"Dr. Weiss?" she answered, after a series of clicks and transfers.

"This is Dana Scully. I've been having contractions all day and about ten minutes ago, I lost my mucous plug," I spurted out, seeing Skinner's eyes widen at the words 'mucous plug.'

"How far apart are your contractions? Have you timed them?" she asked.

"About fifteen minutes," I replied, giving her a rough estimation. I rubbed my stomach in circles, trying to relax. I felt like vomiting.

"Are you still bleeding?" Dr Weiss continued.

"Yes," I answered, feeling the dampness of the maxi pad.

"I think you should get to the hospital," she answered, after a minute of deliberation."Just to be on the safe side. I want you to get on a baby monitor and we can check your progress. Have me paged again when you get there."

"Okay," I answered shakily. I hung up the phone and looked at Skinner, not sure if I could trust him right now.

"What did she say?" he asked, kneeling down in front of me.

"I have to get to the hospital," I said.


****


Hyland Clinic
Baltimore, Maryland
1:00 p.m.

From out of the bathroom, Diana emerged slowly.

Blood poured out of the wound to his chest and seeped onto the tile. She missed the heart and she probably collapsed a lung. Not a fatal shot, but one that left him gasping for air as he slipped into unconsciousness. She stepped forward and knelt down, feeling for the pulse in his neck.

"You better get out of here," she said, looking up at me."They know he has the baby and they'll come looking for her soon."

I lowered my gun slowly, still in shock over what just transpired. A million questions raced through my head but I couldn't verbalize a single one. Instead, I turned around to check on my mother, who was clutching the baby tightly as she shielded her with her own body.

"Fox!" she cried out, finally lifting her head. She saw the Smoking Man lying on the ground and her lips trembled."Did you?"

"No," I answered, then directed my eyes towards Diana. "I didn't get the chance."

Diana and my mother looked at each other for long moment and I knew there was something going on between them. Maybe there always had been and I never bothered to notice before.

"You're not taking this baby," my mother warned, suddenly finding her strength again.

"No, I'm not," Diana replied calmly."But I can't guarantee her safety in this world."

"What is your role in this, Diana?" I asked her, as one question finally broke through the confusion. She stared at me in silence, either not able or not willing to answer.

"This was her project," my mother said, walking towards me."Our family, monitoring us all and making sure it succeeded. She'd taken it over right before she married you, Fox. That was her way of making sure the genetic line wasn't disrupted."

"Scully's abduction, the MUFON women, Cassandra, Spender, Marita...you was all a part of it," I said harshly. I wasn't sure who I hated more. The son of a bitch on the ground or the one standing before me.

"They got what they wanted, Teena," she said, gesturing to the baby."This wasn't how it was supposed to happen, but now that they know it's possible all bets are off."

"The alien-human hybrid," I finished, remembering our last conversation."One that isn't sterile."

Diana breathed a heavy sigh as the Smoking Man stirred.

"You have to go," Diana said again."Krycek is at the Hoover Building right now looking for the chip. He has no idea you gave it back to me and will stop at nothing to get it. It holds the key to it all."

"Do you still have it?" I asked, knowing Scully was in danger and I put her there. Damn it.

"Yes," she answered, with a small grin."I hope to bargain with it for my life."

I knelt down and picked up the car keys. I got behind my mother and guided her to the door, anxious to get the hell out of here and back to Scully. Before that bastard figured out she was there.

"I'll take care of Krycek," Diana replied, reading my mind. I brushed past her, our shoulders touching slightly. She caught hold of my arm.

"Why?" I asked, shaking my head.

"Because it's over," she answered, taking a deep breath. Her fingers released my arm slowly as her eyes met mine one final time."It's over until colonization."

Her words echoed in my head as they foreshadowed a future I couldn't see. I didn't share this vision. I never did.

I turned to catch up with my mother and together we snaked back through the corridors to the main doors. Within minutes, we were on the road and driving at top speed back to DC. The baby cried for a while, but the sound of the engine and the steady motion of the car calmed her down. I found myself trying out those Bradley breathing techniques to steady my heart.

When my hands stopped shaking, I reached for my cell phone and dialed Scully's cell phone number. It kept ringing and ringing and ringing. I punched the number for the Hoover Building, hoping someone could track her down for me.

"Special Agent Fox Mulder," I began, before getting cut off and transferred into Skinner's office. Shit. What hell was going on?

"Agent Mulder? This is Kimberly," Skinner's secretary said."I have specific instructions for you. You need to go to Reston Hospital immediately. AD Skinner is taking your wife there right now."

Shit. Panic coursed through my body and I could barely keep the car on the road."What's wrong? Is she okay? What happened?"

"Agent Mulder," Kimberly said calmly."She's going into labor."


****

Reston Hospital
Reston, Virginia
2:00 p.m.

Skinner took me to the hospital. The contractions were at fifteen minutes apart earlier, but now they had shortened to about seven. I called my mother in the car, hoping she would be there when we reached the hospital. Instead, Byers and Langly were waiting for us. Byers was holding my suitcase.

"Agent Scully," he said politely."Your mother is on her way. She asked that we pick up your things since we cannot locate Agent Mulder."

"Frohike's doing his best to track him down," Langly said, looking squeamish as a nurse rushed over with a wheelchair. Skinner helped her lower me into it.

"I'm going to arrange a search as well," Skinner said, sweat beading across his forehead again."We'll find him, Agent Scully. You just concentrate on this baby."

Like I could really focus on anything else besides the radiating pain through my back. I felt something odd in my abdomen and then something wet in my underwear again. I wondered if it could be my membranes rupturing. It wasn't a big gush, just a spurt of liquid as I tried to contract the muscles of my bladder and abdominal floor.

"We'll wait here for your mother," Byers said, briefly touching my shoulder."She should be here any second."

The nurse checked me into Labor and Delivery, making sure everything was in order and paged Dr. Weiss. I answered her questions as quickly as I could. Where was Mulder? I kept looking down the hall, expecting to see him running at top speed this way. Damn it.

"I'm Ellen," said another nurse, coming around the desk. She seemed surprised that I was all by myself, probably wondering where the son of bitch who got me pregnant was."I'm going to be your attending for the next two hours. Dr. Duncan is here and he's a partner of Dr. Weiss. He's going to check you over and see how you're progressing. We'll know more then."

"Okay," I exhaled, trying to rub my stomach. I wished Dr. Weiss was here instead, but she was probably on her way. Ellen pushed me into a room that was fairly large and open, with a nice big window and its own attached bathroom and shower. It was a hell of a lot nicer that most hospital rooms were.

"Dana!"

I turned around to see my mom standing in the threshold. She had the suitcase dangling from her left hand and seemed out of breath.

"Mom," I cried, holding my hand out to her. Ellen moved out of her way so she could bend down to hug me. I melted into her arms. Ellen looked relieved that I had someone with me after all."I'm so glad you're here."

"Where else would I be, Dana?" she laughed, pulling back to kiss my forehead. Her smile fell when she looked into my face, obviously twisted with pain."Where is he?"

"I don't know," I muttered, swallowing hard. I opened my mouth to tell her what I suspected, but Ellen interrupted me.

"We need to get her changed into these hospital gowns before the doctor comes in," she said, holding up the thin, white garments. You can put on in the front and one in the back to help you cover up."

Slowly, they helped me to my feet again. I started to unbutton my shirt as my mom flopped the suitcase down on the table and opened it. The suitcase consisted of changes of clothes, toiletries, my journals, outfits for the baby; a roll of quarters for vending machines, washcloths just in case the hospital ran out, a copy of Husband-Coached Childbirth and the Bradley course workbook.

The last two seemed extremely useless without Mulder here, yet Mom laid them on the nightstand reverently so they would be waiting for him. She saw how my eyes stared at it.

"He'll be here," she said confidently."He'll be here."

Once properly dressed, Ellen and my mother eased me onto the bed. We played with the controls until we found a comfortable position.

"I'll check on Dr. Duncan," she said, scribbling the word Bradley in large red letters on my chart."The nurse's button is right there, if you need anything at all."

"Thanks," I said, watching her leave. I exhaled slowly and turned to my mom.

"Are you going to be okay?" she asked, smoothing my hair off my forehead.

"No," I replied, cupping my stomach and imagining all the possible ways this could play out in the next few hours. They all seemed overwhelming and frightening. How the hell did my mother do this four times?

There was a knock on the door and we both looked up to see some young doctor come strolling in wearing khakis, a golf-shirt and an white lab coat. Ellen was right behind him, carrying another chart with her.

"I'm Dr. Elliot Duncan," he said, extending his hand to me and then my mother."Dr. Weiss has been paged, but she's over at our sister facility delivering another baby. She'll be over here as soon as she's finished."

They adjusted the bed once again so I was now sitting up and ready for a pelvic exam. I forced myself to relinquish all modesty, since a parade of doctors and nurses were surely going to be in and out looking at me. I held onto my mother's arm as he examined me.

"I'd like to try and get a sample of your amniotic fluid," he said, pulling back."Looks like the break is pretty high, are you only gushing out a little with each contraction?"

"Yes," I replied.

"Let's get you on the fetal monitor so we can find out how the baby is doing," he said, motioning to Ellen."You'll be able to see your contractions."

"I can feel them well enough," I answered, wondering how young he actually was. He looked like he just graduated med school. I wanted to smack him. Why were men even allowed to be obstetricians? They had no idea whatsoever what this was like. I couldn't wait for Dr. Weiss to arrive. Or Mulder.

Where was Mulder?


****

Reston Hospital
Reston, Virginia
3:35 p.m.

"Byers," I said, spying him immediately in the lobby. I rushed towards him.

"Agent Mulder," he said, looking beyond me at my mother and the small bundle in her arms. His brow knitted in confusion."Everyone's been looking for you. Assistant Director..."

"Where's Scully?" I demanded, not wanting to hear about the APB put out on me at the moment. I had more important things to worry about. Like the birth of my son. And what I was going to do with my mother and the baby she was carrying. How do I even begin to explain any of this?

"Labor and Delivery," Langly jumped in."Follow me."

I took a few steps backwards to my mother and wrapped my arm around her back, gently guiding her in the direction Langly was headed. My mom was silent, acknowledging me only with non-verbal signs. At least we were in a proper hospital where the baby could be checked out. Who knew where she really came from or who she belonged to or what her medical condition was? I loathed them all the more for playing this deceptive game with so innocent a life. She wasn't some alien hybrid-savior; she was just a baby who deserved more than this.

"I'm Special Agent Fox Mulder," I said, grasping the edge of the desk."I'm looking for my wife, Dana Scully?"

A tall woman with sandy-brown hair stepped away from the computer and approached me."I'm Ellen, her nurse. She's been waiting for you."

I bet Scully was waiting. Waiting without me and wondering where the hell I've been all this time. Maybe she doesn't even want to see me. If she does, she probably won't after she finds out what transpired.

"Who are these other people? Family?" she asked, surveying everyone behind me.

"I'm family," my mother said shakily, as if she was unsure what that word even meant anymore.

"We're friends," Byers said, motioning to Langly.

"Okay, if you want to have a seat in the waiting area," she said, motioning to the guys. Ellen turned her attention to us, staring curiously at the baby. I prayed she wouldn't ask because I didn't have an explanation for her."The baby will need to stay here in the waiting room."

"Mom," I said, putting my hand on her shoulder."Let me see her first. Before..."

"I'll wait here," she said, cutting me off. She rocked the girl back and forth as she waited for me to leave.

I threw a warning glance at Byers and Langly, figuring they'd keep an eye on them both for me. I followed Ellen down the hall, wishing she'd walk faster. I peered nervously into the rooms as we walked by, seeing other women either pregnant or post-partum.

She finally stopped and pushed the door gently in, not allowing me in just yet."Dana? Your husband is here."

"Mulder?" I heard her call. I moved past Ellen, not able to wait any longer. Scully was lying on a hospital bed, hooked up to an IV and an external baby monitor. It looked like two hockey pucks held on by Velcro straps.

My appearance startled her and those blue eyes grew wide and fearful. Then, she reached out with the hand not hooked to the IV, wanting me to come closer.

"Where the hell have you been?" she demanded, at first sounding angry, but her voice crackled off. I took her hand in both of mine and sat down by her side. I raised her fingertips to my lips and kissed them gently, so grateful she was safe."I've been waiting for hours and hours and no one knew where the hell you were."

She squeezed her eyes tightly shut and I could see pain tensing through her body. I felt helpless and powerless, unable to do a thing until it subsided.

"Scully," I said, holding her hand tighter. I turned to the nurse, panic-stricken."What the hell is going on?"

"A contraction," she said calmly, walking over to the monitor."See? This number will spike up when she has one, as well as the graph below."

"I've been having a lot of them," Scully said, after a moment. She looked frail and small and all the color was drained from her face. Yet, her grip was like steel on my hand.

"I'm sorry, Scully," I whispered, putting my head down in defeat. What the hell did I promise her? That I wouldn't get involved? Let this interfere with our family?

"I think Krycek was in the building today," she breathed, resuming the conversation."Your office was ransacked."

"He was," I answered, not wanting to recount everything to her right now. I was just so grateful she was all right."And my mother is in the lobby right now with Byers and Langly. She's not alone."

Scully's face twisted up with worry."Not alone?"

"She has a baby with her," I finished, watching her lower lip tremble."She was told it's Samantha's child, the one whose test results were sent to us."

"Is it?" Scully gasped.

"I don't know," I replied, picturing her little face in my mind."She looks like she could be, but we'd have to run tests to be sure."

Scully collapsed back into the pillow, shaking her head from side to side. I felt her hand trying to break free from mine. Tears welled in her eyes until finally she closed them, one trickling down her cheek slowly.

"I'm sorry, Scully," I repeated, knowing how stupid the words sounded. But I kept saying them over and over again knowing nothing I could say would convey the feeling in my heart at this moment.

"Mulder," she whispered, gazing over at me."I could really use some ice chips."

I awkwardly reached for the pitcher on the table. I shook some ice out of it and into a Dixie cup. I handed it to her, my hand shaking the entire time. Her hand covered mine to steady it. She reached inside and took a chip out, sucking it slowly.

"No progress?" I surmised, moving my other hand to her stomach protectively.

"The last exam showed I'm three to four centimeters dilated," she answered, sounding disappointed."I don't think I can make it without help, Mulder. I want an epidural."

"Why haven't they given you one?" I asked, not wanting her to suffer unnecessarily."Do I need to track down the doctor?"

"I have to wait. They think it would slow down labor if I had one now," she replied, taking another ice chip."It's going to be a long night, Mulder."

"I'm not going anywhere," I said, shaking my head in confirmation. She seemed skeptical and held onto my hand even tighter. "Unless you want me to go."

"I want you here," she replied, spreading her arms open. Her shoulders began to shake and I pulled her into my arms, holding her close but watching the IV."I want you right here."


****

Reston Hospital
Reston, Virginia
7:45 p.m.

"Dana," said Dr. Melanie Weiss, rushing into the room with a nurse in tow. I looked up from where I was resting against Mulder. He was sitting beside me, an arm around my shoulders helping me breathe."I'm sorry it took so long, but I just delivered a set of twins by C-section over at County."

I threw her an exasperated look, not really wanting to hear about someone else's ordeal. I was preoccupied enough with my own. My mother was sitting in a chair in the corner and she got up to stand on the other side of the bed.

"I'm Margaret Scully," she said proudly."Dana's mom."

"Dana," Dr. Weiss said, picking up the chart to review the data."I'm a little concerned your water hasn't really broke. Labor seems to have stalled. I'm going to take a look and see how you're doing."

"Do you want me to wait outside?" Mom asked.

"No," I answered firmly. She'd already seen three other exams today."You can stay."

Mulder got up and helped me shift up into sitting position with my knees spread wide for her to do the exam. Dr. Weiss pulled on a pair of surgical gloves and proceeded to check my cervix. Mulder tried not to look, but my mom was right there watching everything. I squirmed in discomfort.

"Four centimeters and eighty percent effaced," she declared, which was an improvement."Let me get a cart in here so we can break your water and speed things up a bit."

"Okay," I muttered. What other choice did I really have? The look on my face must have been interesting."And I want an epidural."

Dr. Weiss smiled."Epidurals are wonderful things. I've had two of them. I'll get the anesthesiologist in here as soon as I can. Can you hold on for another forty-five minutes?"

"No," I answered defiantly. Forty-five minutes was an eternity to me right now.

She left, then returned about ten minutes later. My nails dug into Mulder's hand as another contraction swept over me. Labor was a bitch and ten times worse than any of the books described it.

I laid back, supported by Mulder on one side and my mother on the opposite. I closed my eyes as the nurse handed Dr. Weiss the needle to rupture my amniotic sac. It had to be inserted vaginally, catching the sac through the opening of the cervix with a little hook. I felt pressure and pain as she pulled, then a gush of water that soaked the pad between my feet.

"Whoa," Mulder said, surprised at the volume. He licked it lips nervously, watching as the nurse replaced the pad with a dry one. "And that will induce labor?"

"Hopefully," Dr. Weiss said, checking me over once again."I'll be back shortly to check on you."

"I'm Jeannie, by the way," said the maternity nurse, gathering up the soiled pad."I'll be on duty until 7:00 a.m. so if there is anything you need tonight, you let me know."

"An epidural," I groaned, rubbing my ever-lowering belly."Can you get me an epidural?"

"She's a little tense," Mulder whispered apologetically to Jeannie.

"Shut up, Mulder," I snapped, not appreciating the fact Jeannie was a cute, skinny little thing either. How dare she be allowed to work in maternity."And I'm a lot tense."

"Your contractions will probably intensify," Jeannie said quietly, moving a dry pad into place. She checked the monitors and my IV drip."I'll get things ready for your epidural."

"Thanks," I mumbled, smiling weakly at her. She was probably used to abusive pregnant women by now.

Mulder readjusted the blankets around my body and a grin began creeping over his face."Little Jeannie. We better keep her away from Frohike. Last time I checked, he was out in the waiting room scoping out the candy stripers."

"I'll be right back," Mom said, giving my hand a reassuring squeeze before she left."I'm going to check on Teena."

Mulder had specifically avoided the subject of his mother ever since he arrived. From my mother, I knew she had been out there with the Gunmen. Skinner has shown up again with a couple other agents as well. The doctors had checked her in for the night, giving her a mild sedative to help calm her nerves. I had no idea where the baby was. The only thing I could really focus on was this baby.

Mulder winced at her name, knowing it would spark my interest again in whatever happened earlier. I had just a couple minutes before the next contraction to find out more.

"What happened this morning?" I asked directly, cutting right to the quick.

Mulder looked at the baby monitor and waited for the numbers to rise.

"It's not coming yet," I said, knowing he was stalling for time.

"More lies," he muttered, with a heavy sigh."At least, this time I hope they are lies."

He soaked a washcloth in cool water and sat beside me again, pressing it gently to my forehead. It provided temporary relief and I sighed gratefully.

"Samantha and I don't have the same father," he continued, his voice just above a whisper. He sounded as if he was in a confessional. "My mother had no say in the matter, she only agreed to let it happen. And it could be another lie as well."

"Who is it?" I asked, gearing up for the next contraction. Pain was swelling over me slowly, building to its unmerciful peak. Mulder watched the monitor to avoid looking into my eyes.

"Let's just say Jeffrey Spender and I had a lot in common," he whispered sadly, pain sweeping over his face as well.

"Is that what she told you?" I asked, not wanting to believe it was true.

"No," he replied."He did. Right before Diana shot him."

"Is he dead?" I breathed, imagining the scene in my head briefly. It gave me satisfaction to think of him dead.

"I don't know," Mulder answered.

I closed my eyes as the contraction ripped through my lower back, harder than before. This time, amniotic fluid came rushing out. My face contorted with pain and discomfort. I must have pushed out a gallon of water.

"Breathe, Scully," Mulder coached, getting on his feet again. He readjusted the towel on my face, sopping down my brow lovingly. I forced myself to concentrate on my breathing, mimicking Mulder's pattern as he sucked air in and out for a few minutes."You need to breathe and be quiet."

I stared into his eyes, seeing they were shining with unfallen tears. We both continued breathing and focusing on each other, finding strength where there was none.


****

Reston Hospital
Reston, Virginia
8:30 p.m.

"Do you hear that?" Scully asked, lolling her head over to the side where I was sitting.

"Hear what?" I asked, looking up from my Bradley course book. It was really too late to be reading it anyway.

"That dripping," she said, her weary eyes looking at the IV."Did it spring a leak?"

I walked around the perimeter of the bed and tried to find the cause. There was a puddle on the floor right below her feet. The amniotic fluid had totally soaked the bed and was running off.

"It's the pad, it's soaked," I said, trying to stay calm. She had lost so much water already. There was an unlimited supply that continued to pour out with each contraction. I called the nurse's station and little Jeannie came. She seemed impressed with the puddle.

"I've never seen anyone flood the bed like that," she said, looking surprised. Scully groaned a few times, acknowledging she was there."Here, let's get you cleaned up. The anesthesiologist is coming down shortly to give you your epidural."

"Thank God," Scully wailed, pressing her head back into the pillow. She had made a little more progress, opening up to five centimeters. An OB with about three students came in a little while ago and decided to conduct a small lecture about Scully's uterus until she threw them out.

"There must be at least three pounds of water here," Little Jeannie said as she worked.

"Good," Scully replied sarcastically."Only thirty-five left to go."

I tried to help her clean up, but I seemed to be getting in the way. I moved over to the window and peered out into the hallway. I could see Skinner pacing around and Frohike standing up by the nurses' station. I was sure they were ready to kill him by now. Margaret informed me my mother was doing much better and was resting. The baby was also being examined and monitored and kept for observation. Later, I'd have her DNA tested. She'd probably be handed over to social services and placed into protective custody until we could figure something out. I was certain that little girl was still in danger.

"Be right back," Little Jeannie said, after fixing Scully up."I need to get another pad.

The room grew extremely quiet again.

"Make it stop, Mulder," she cried, in a tiny voice. I watched helplessly as another contraction swept over her."Please take the pain away."

In the Bradley course they talked about emotional signposts so you could tell how far along labor was. The stage following late first stage was called transition. The signpost for transition had to be despair. Scully kept screaming for her epidural every five minutes as the contractions were coming closer together and stronger. Scully seemed to be a trance now, rocking back and forth gently with her eyes closed, her mouth moving silently.

I had run out of things to say and the stupid Bradley book offered no real support. I kept chanting over and over again"it's okay, you can do this, this is transition, we learned about this, it doesn't last long, it'll be over soon, it's okay, you can do this" like a broken record.

"It'll be over soon," I said for what was probably the fiftieth time.

"How soon?" she asked desperately and I wished I could give her an honest answer.

"Uh, soon," I replied, fumbling for the cup of ice chips again. But she rejected them.

I looked up to find the anesthesiologist coming in with Little Jeannie in tow. Carefully, we rolled Scully on her side and I got out of their way. It took about ten minutes for them to insert the catheter into her back, with Scully groaning the entire time. It seemed to go in very easily and he commented about her long, skinny back.

"I don't have a long, skinny ANYTHING right now," she snapped.

"Dana," said Margaret, returning in the room. Scully raised her head up and smiled at her mom, happy to see her again. I was just no substitute for her mother."You got your epidural."

"Yes," she answered happily, although I knew it was too soon for it to take effect. She extended her arms to her mom."Maybe now I can rest a bit. I'm so tired, mom. I can't do this anymore."

"Yes, you can," she said, cradling her daughter's head with her hands."It's going to be better with the epidural and when you're completely effaced, you'll dilate properly."

"I will?" Scully asked in a small, weak voice.

"You're so strong, Dana. Just focus on seeing your baby. This time tomorrow, it's going to be all over and you'll be holding Stephen in your arms," Margaret continued, smoothing Scully's damp hair back.

At that, Scully began to cry. But they were tears of relief at being reassured the end was in sight.


****

Reston Hospital
Reston, Virginia
11:45 p.m.

I started feeling more pelvic discomfort and buzzed for the nurse. My mother was dozing in the chair by the window and Mulder was sitting by my side, keeping vigil over the baby monitor.

"Please check me," I cried, as Jeannie came rushing in. I got into position and moved my legs apart for her automatically.

I heard the snap of latex as Jeannie started to look. I reached over and clutched Mulder's hand tightly. I was getting nervous and scared again.

"It's okay," he said for what had to be the hundredth time."It'll be over soon..."

"You can do this," I said along with him, having memorized his chant by heart."It's okay, it'll be over soon."

Mulder laughed for the first time since that stupid Rolling Stones song came on this morning."Are you trying to tell me to shut up?"

"No," I answered, as he bent down and kissed my forehead. "Keep saying it, Mulder."

He smiled in relief; grateful I wasn't going to yell at him again.

"You're at nine!" Jeannie exclaimed happily. The uncomfortable feeling became real pain with the next contraction. My mother was on the other side as we all waited for the next few contractions, all four of us breathing them out.

After a while, Jeannie checked me again."You're at nine and a half." She laid her hand on my stomach."You can go ahead and start pushing anytime and that should take care of the last half-centimeter. I'm going to page Dr. Weiss."

"This is it?" I asked hopefully, my eyes darting between Mulder and my mother.

"This is it," mom said. If I wasn't so tired I would burst into tears. Mulder nodded silently, mouthing"I love you" over and over again.

"I love you," I said, as he leaned over to kiss me.

I could feel the contractions, but my perineum and cervix were numb. Jeannie's exam didn't hurt at all. I wanted her to start a perineum massage when she got back, still hoping to avoid an episiotomy if possible.

Finally, she returned with Dr. Weiss in tow."Let's see how you're doing, Dana."

They cranked the bed up into a fully sitting position, then lowered it so it was like a small step. I sat with my rear on the little ledge and my feet on the lower half of the bed. Jeannie adjusted the baby monitor to pick up the baby's heartbeat better.

The urge to push was now overpowering. Mulder wiped my brow again but I felt like I couldn't go on. Unfortunately, the hard part had just begun.


****

Reston Hospital
Reston, Virginia
1:50 a.m.

It took two hours of pushing to get any more progress. Scully used every drop of energy she could with each attempt. Some pushes were better than others. Margaret and I coached on either side. She even tried a couple different positions. After the first hour, Scully didn't feel like she was making any progress, but little Jeannie and Dr. Weiss assured her than every little bit helped.

"I'm tired, Mulder," Scully cried out."I can't focus anymore."

"Yes you can," I said, in my chant that even I was sick of hearing."You can do this, Scully."

"The baby is at zero station," Dr. Weiss announced. I looked down at her, amazed at all the blood and mucous that Scully had already pushed out. I couldn't believe that there was anything still left inside.

Little Jeannie adjusted the fetal monitor again to pick up the baby's heartbeat as he dropped a little lower still.

"You're doing great, Dana," Dr. Weiss said. Her coaching seemed to have the most profound effect on Scully. Every time she said anything, Scully immediately found another reserve of energy to push.

"Not much more, honey," her mom chimed in. Margaret looked positively energized as well. I was working off of pure adrenaline.

Margaret and I continued to help Scully push, each holding one of her legs back as she bore down with each contraction.

"The baby's head is passing through the pelvis," Dr. Weiss said, from between Scully's legs.

"I can feel it," Scully whispered, her eyes squeezing out tears.

Little Jeannie, Margaret and I watched Scully's pushing on the monitor, where we could see peaks when she pushed. I kept trying to bolster her spirits by telling her how well she was doing. The next one blew right off the top of the scale.

"You're going to break the monitor, Scully," I said, with an exuberant laugh.

"Shut up," she said.

"Dana," asked Dr. Weiss, standing up momentarily. "I think we're going to need some help."

"Help?" Scully cried, raising her head up to look her in the eye.

"Forceps or vacuum help," she answered calmly."This baby has a big head."

"It's your fault, Mulder," Scully hissed.

"I have a big nose, not a big head," I mumbled, before she threw me another icy glare.

Scully was quiet for several minutes, pondering the two choices. It was something we hadn't really considered or thought about. But she was a doctor and it was her choice. While she did so, a pediatrician came in to set up a warming table and the anesthesiologist came back.

"Vacuum," Scully finally said, collapsing back onto the pillow. She was as pale as the bed sheets."This is really going to happen, isn't it?"

"Yes," Dr. Weiss assured her, picking up a scalpel off the tray."And Dana, I have to do an episotomy or else this baby is going to tear right through. You shouldn't feel the pain, just the pressure."

Scully's eyes grew huge with fear, then she relaxed again. We breathed in time together as Dr. Weiss made the small incision to widen the passage.

"I love you," I said, not believing what an ordeal this has been for her. I would never look at Scully the same way again. Not after today.

"You better," she exhaled a slight smile on her lips.

I stayed by Scully's head as Dr. Weiss attached the little vacuum to the baby's head. Scully and I kept breathing through it all, both excited at knowing our son was almost here.

"Now Dana," Dr. Weiss said calmly."I need you to push just one more time. Can you do that? Give it all you can on the next contraction."

Margaret and I assumed our positions again and we leaned Scully forward a bit."Here it comes," Scully moaned.

"Okay, you're going to be feeling pressure here--LOTS of pressure," Dr. Weiss said."Try to get at least four pushes out of the contraction."

"Come on Dana, push down here, down low," Little Jeannie said from where she was standing by Dr. Weiss. She began counting."One, two, three, four. Push! Five, six. Hold that breath!"

I encouraged her as best I could."You're doing great, Scully."

"Next one," Dr. Weiss coached, her voice a little strained."One more time, Dana!"

"C'mon," I whispered, winking at her."One more."

We all watched the monitor went up and Scully wailed out. I grabbed her leg again and held on.

"Good, good!" Dr. Weiss said."One, two, three, four. Push, Dana! He's almost out! Five, six..."

Scully tensed up one more time as every muscle in her body forced the baby out.

"Seven, eight, nine. . .ten!" shouted Dr. Weiss. I could see something wet and purple slide out into her hands. Scully collapsed against the pillow with a loud cry.

Margaret gasped as she caught a glimpse of the baby. Jeannie rushed to put a blanket on Scully's stomach.

"Here's your son," Dr. Weiss announced proudly, lifting the little bundle up to lay him on his mother.

I stared at my son for the first time through tears. My heart stopped beating.


*****

Reston Hospital
Reston, Virginia
2:10 a.m.


I was suddenly alert.

The world came into focus again just in time for me to see my son. Tears fell out of my eyes and he let out a huge wail. Mulder was in a trance as he stared down at him. He was barely conscious as Dr. Weiss had him cut the cord.

"He's really a big guy!" mom said, with a huge, teary smile.

His head was cone-shaped from the vacuum, but other than that, he was absolutely beautiful. I cradled him momentarily before the pediatrician took him away to get cleaned up. I couldn't believe he was finally here.

"How big is he?" Mulder asked, watching as the pediatrician lifted our son onto the scale.

"Nine pounds, three ounces!" he announced.

"Oh my God," I breathed, as my eyes rolled back. How did that come out of me?

"Twenty-two inches long," the pediatrician continued.

"Can I hold him?" I cried. I'd spent hours wanting him out of me and now I couldn't stand being separated from him one second longer.

But Dr. Weiss had him next."He's got quite a bit of fluid in his lungs and we're going to have get that out."

"Do you have a name picked out?" Jeannie asked, wiping her hands off.

"Stephen," I answered before Mulder could."Stephen Michael Mulder." I never felt more proud of anything in my entire life.

Stephen was making funny grunting noises as they worked on him and it ended up taking about ten minutes to get it out. But finally, they handed him back to Mulder. Stephen looked so tiny in his father's arms, but Mulder held on tightly as if he was afraid he'd drop him.

"Hi Stephen," he whispered, kissing his forehead carefully. There were tears in Mulder's eyes as Stephen let another a huge wail."Guess he doesn't like me!"

"He likes you," Mom said, reassuringly. She wrapped an arm around Mulder and laid her cheek on his arm to see my son."God, Dana, he's beautiful. Got your red hair and everything."

Mulder walked over to me, holding Stephen up so I could see him again."He is beautiful, Scully. He looks just like you."

"He has your nose," I smiled, before Mulder bent over to kiss me. His lips pressed softly against mine.

"Hey mom," he whispered, before letting his lips drift to my cheek."You did good."

"Hey son," I replied, touching Stephen's face. I was completely in love with him. Heart and soul.

Mulder had to give Stephen back to Jeannie so they could check him over. My work wasn't done. I had yet to deliver the placenta. I was getting the chills and tried to pull the blanket over me. I continued to have contractions as my uterus separated the placenta from the uterine wall. They were mild in comparison to what I had earlier. Mulder stayed by my side, holding my hand the entire time while they cleaned up Stephen.

"What are the Apgars?" I asked, after finally pushing the placenta out.

"Nine and nine," Jeannie answered.

It was hard sitting still while Dr. Weiss sewed me up. On top of the good-sized episiotomy, I had torn into the rectus muscle. I worried about it, but tried to focus on Stephen. It seemed liked I'd never get him back in my arms. The past nine months became a blur as I realized it was all finally over. My son, our son, was finally here.

"Dana, are you still with us?" Dr. Weiss asked.

"Yes," I replied, looking over at Mulder and Stephen.

Finally, I was well enough to sit up a little. Mulder handed me Stephen. He had a little hat on and was wrapped in a white, thermal blanket. He looked up at me with his dark blue eyes and unflexed his tiny hand.

"I love you," I whispered, feeling tears on my cheeks. "I love you, Stephen."

It was all worth it just to see his tiny smile.

"I love you, Mulder," I said, as he settled beside me. He wrapped his arm around my shoulders protectively.

"Can we have a few moments?" Mulder asked, looking hopefully at Dr. Weiss. She nodded, motioning to everyone else to leave.

We stared at our son quietly. He was beautiful. He was perfect. He was healthy. Everything we had hoped for and nothing we feared.

"Are you ready, Scully?" Mulder asked softly."For this parenthood thing?"

"I think so," I replied, gazing up at him."Are you?"

"No," he answered, with a sly grin."But I'll learn."


*****

Reston Hospital
Reston, Virginia
3:00 a.m.

Frohike, Byers, Langly had camped in the waiting room the whole time and were the first visitors. They all argued over whose eyes, nose, chin, hands, feet Stephen had until Jeannie made them leave. Scully nursed Stephen for the first time, the little guy latched on like a pro. Scully nearly fell asleep and so did Stephen.

Margaret stayed with them while I took a walk down the hall. There was one person who still needed to see Stephen. My mother. I asked the nurses where to find her and headed in that direction.

My thoughts drifted from Stephen to the baby girl who could possible be his cousin. I figured she had to be on the pediatrics floor and under guard. At this late hour, no one stopped me from wandering the halls.

I turned the corner for the pediatrics ward and was surprised to find Skinner standing in the middle of the hallway with two other agents and hospital security. The hair on the back of my neck stood straight up as I hurried over. Skinner saw me coming and stepped back.

"Agent Mulder," he spoke in a hushed tone."I want you to remain calm."

I tried to look past him and into the room they were standing outside of."What's going on?"

"Mulder," he said firmly, holding me by the arm."The baby is gone."

"Gone, what do you mean gone?" I demanded, anger rising up within me."She was supposed to be under guard."

"She was," Skinner hissed through gritted teeth."And the guard is dead."

Shit. I ran my hands through my hair, practically ripping it out by the follicles."What about my mother, is she gone, too?"

"No," said a voice from inside the room. I pushed past everyone and found my mother standing over the empty crib."I'm here, Fox."

"Mom," I breathed, rushing to her side. She had been sedated and was still calm, but I could tell she'd been crying. Obviously, Diana was correct that they would stop at nothing to get her back. On top of everything else today, we lost a part of Samantha all over again. We stood there, side by side for a long time as the reality sunk in. One family lost, another one gained.

"They tell me you've made me a grandmother," she finally whispered, turning her eyes to mine.

"Yes," I replied shakily."That's what I was coming to tell you."

She looked back at the crib and exhaled slowly."That *was* Samantha's daughter. For a moment, Fox...I had her back. I had a part of Samantha back."

"I know," I said, wrapping an arm around her slowly. She began to cry and I was hit with an understanding of the pain she has felt over Samantha's disappearance. I'd only been a father for about an hour and already I couldn't bear the thought of losing Stephen. He would be one to keep me sane from now on. To ground me and give me stability.

"Mom, Scully and I really want you to see your grandson," I said softly.

She stifled a sob and looked up at me."After everything?"

"You're still my mother," I whispered, holding her tightly."Making you Stephen's grandmother and he really wants to see you, too."

Slowly, I led her away from the crib. And from the legacy I was no longer a part of to the new one started with my son.


****


The End



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