Title: I Shall Believe
Author: Cathey Scully
Category: S, R, A, Pre-XF, AU, Kidfic
Keywords: Mulder/Scully Romance, Alternate Universe
Spoilers: Everything, Seasons 1-8 Summary: Over the years, anything can happen.
Disclaimer: I claim no ownership to any characters related to the X-Files. I mean no harm in writing this story, and am not making any form of compensation for time spent on it. Please take no legal action against me. Also, I do not own Stargate SG-1, or MacGyver, and the title is from a Sheryl Crow song, which inspired this fic. I don't own that, either.
Archiving: Anywhere, just tell me first, and keep my names on it. CatheyScully@gmail.com
Feedback: you know I want it, so don't be shy, just be sensitive.
Summary: Over the years, anything can happen.
Notes: Okay, I know that this would never have happened in Chris's universe. Disregard anything you have ever been told about the x files, I'm changing it.
Impossibly long notes that I think you need to read before you begin reading the fic: This fic was started in January of the year 2000. It was meant to be only a short thing, but it manifested into this. I wrote the parts about season 8, before ever seeing season 8. All I had to guide me was spoilers. Therefore, most of the details are wrong compared to the Season 8 that everyone knows from broadcast. I have included the character of John Doggett, and a scene that was partially inspired by a part of This is Not Happening. After that, the similarities end. I ask for you to keep that in account, and when you get to the parts about season 8, and not dismiss it outright. Thanks.
Read more of my fics at: http://catheysfic.tripod.com
Another case, another injury averted.
It'd been such a long couple of days and I couldn't have dealt with it if Mulder, or myself for that matter, had gotten injured. These last few months had been bad enough because of Mulder's illness, his kidnapping, and subsequent surgery. We couldn't handle anything else so soon.
I looked up at my partner. He hadn't said much since our discussion of Tony's condition. I stopped, reaching for his hand. He smiled, taking his hand from its familiar spot against my back and curling it around my waist. We didn't often indulge in walking so close and affectionately, and hardly ever in public. He grinned, tugging me around to face him.
After a soft nuzzle of his mouth against mine, I smiled.
"You know, it's amazing. You actually managed to stay out of here."
"I do my best to make you proud, Scully."
We continued out of the hospital, clinging to each other like the teenagers we once were. We reached the car and I reluctantly released him. I unlocked the doors and opened the driver's side door. I prepared to slide in when Mulder grabbed my wrist and pulled me into the backseat.
"Mulder!" I laughed against my will. Mulder settled me onto his legs. He brushed my hair back from my face tenderly. I smiled at his wistful expression.
"So you'd really be happy with an old man like me?" I smiled slightly as I slid my hands up from his chest to his neck.
"Mulder, you're only two and a half years older than me. If you're old, so am I." I told him as I ran my fingers over his jugular.
"Okay." He conceded. "Maybe not old. But I'm not your average fifteen-year-old." I grinned as I leaned over to whisper.
"You must remember, Fox." I ignored his petulant look at my continued use of his first name. I've known you for almost our entire lives. I know what you were like when you were a teenager."
"I remember. I remember that you saw me in my completely gawky stage."
"And I remember that you weren't gawky. You were my best friend and kind of shy and reserved but not gawky. You are as young as you were when you were 17 and you ran ten miles to stop me before I made the biggest mistake of my life. And if not in body, then in spirit and mind." I kissed his cheek. "I love you as much now as I did then, when you pulled that stunt and broke up my first date." His grip tightened on my waist.
"I'm touched that you remember my act of heroism."
I grinned. "Oh I remember everything about that night, Fox."
"You do?" He feigned surprise.
"Yes. Of course. I got my first kiss that night." He smiled.
"And your 2nd, and 3rd, and 4th, and 5th, and 6th, and 7th, and even 8th and 9th kiss too."
"It's also the first time we ever said we loved each other." I told him seriously.
"Ahh yes." He joked, "I think I remember that night. But you may want to refresh my hazy memory."
"Since you asked so nicely, I guess I'll answer. You followed me on my first date. You broke my date's nose and I wanted nothing more than to break yours."
"Oh thank you." Mulder snorted.
"That's how I felt at the time. But then you told me that you loved me and I melted."
"Remember anything else?" He asked coyly.
"You kissed me. Sorta like this." I brushed his lips sensually with mine.
"Oooh. Very good."
"That's what I thought." I slid off his lap and straightened my suit. He did the same and then wrapped his arms around my waist. I grinned into his chest.
"You're stalling Mulder. We have children at home waiting for us." I commanded softly. "I'm anxious to see what insanity Kiera has created with her sisters today."
"Let Kiera do her thing. She's seventeen. And if I remember correctly, you weren't exactly the most normal teen on the block."
"Yeah, I guess I wasn't. We were the weird duo." He reached over and grabbed my hand.
"Still are?" He asked softly.
"Always Mulder. Oh shut up."
"Yes dear. I see through you, you just wanna get home to watch Stargate."
We pulled into the driveway of the Mulder household about ten after ten. After I'd stopped the car, Mulder went around to the back and grabbed our overnight bags. I yanked mine out of his hand and started up the steps.
"Scully, I can get it."
"No. I have a feeling about how we'll be greeted."
"Whatever you say." Still he pouted a little and I found it irresistible. I unlocked the door to the house that only a handful of people know about.
"We're back!" I called from the foyer, trying to be heard over the Stargate SG-1 theme song.
"Mommy!!! Daddy!!" Emily screamed from the living room. "You're home!" Without warning our five-year-old came flying through the air and into Mulder's arms.
"Told ya." Was all I said. I gently took Emily from Mulder. He smiled and kissed her face.
"It's good to be home."
Next Emily hugged my waist. "I missed you mommy."
"I missed you too Emily." I stroked her head. "Have you been good for your sisters?" Emily nodded.
"They're watching Stargate." Mulder started up the stairs.
"Fox? Can you take my bag upstairs with you?"
"Sure sweetie pumpkin," he took my bag before I could throw it at him for that, even though I suppose I deserved it, and playfully pouted. "What is it with women and Richard Dean Anderson? The man's name is mentioned and every female in the house turns into a puddle of goo." Emily giggled.
"That's 'cause he's cute daddy." I laughed at my husband's reaction as Emily energetically pulled me along into the living room.
"Hey, what's happened so far?" I greeted my eldest daughter as I sat down on the couch. My eyes never left the TV screen. Emily settled herself on my lap, careful not to block my view.
"Mom." Kiera greeted me with a nod. She quickly explained what had transpired in the first ten minutes of what was by far, our favorite show.
"Shh." Our middle daughter, Amara ordered. Amara's ninth birthday is in two weeks. She has an amazing way of putting everything in perspective. Mainly that we need to shut up and watch the TV. Amara is the bossiest of our children. Fox says this is because Amara inherited most of my traits and Kiera and Emily got his. Amara looks more like me than she does Mulder, facial feature wise, but she has his hair color and from the time she was younger I could already tell that she'd be taller than both Kiera and I. Where Kiera bonded with Mulder at birth, Amara is more attached to me. She scooted closer into the spot between the left side of the couch and me. We all sat in silence.
About ten minutes later Mulder came into the room holding our new black lab puppy in his hands. We still hadn't named him yet and Kiera was leaning toward something Stargateish. Mulder sat down and kissed Emily's cheek softly.
"Daddy. Lemme see the puppy."
"Me too!" Amara yelled.
"No. He's my puppy." Emily argued. Mulder handed me the pup and took Emily into his arms.
"I think someone needs to go to bed. Kiera, did she have a nap earlier?"
"Yeah." Kiera answered in monotone, saying she definitely wasn't listening. I nudged her foot sharply and she broke her intense gaze with the television. "Kiera, please pause your love affair with my Jack to listen."
"What mom? Your Jack?"
"Yes. My Jack. And did Emily have a nap after she got home?" I asked irritated.
"Yeah. She did."
"Alright. Resume." Kiera faced the TV again. Mulder and I turned back to Emily.
"Daddy. Please don't send me to bed."
"Alright Emily. You don't have to go to bed." I told her.
"I'm sorry if I upset you, Mommy."
"I just don't like it when you fight with your sister." Emily smiled.
"I'll try not to anymore, Mommy." I smiled, knowing that this was a promise she couldn't keep.
"Okay. Now let's watch Stargate."
Toward the end of Stargate, the still unnamed puppy needed to go outside. I carried him to the back door and set him down while I put on my coat. Once I returned, MacGyver had been switched on and I pushed Kiera out of the reclining chair. About midway through, I stood and motioned for Mulder to stand with Emily sleeping in his arms. I shook Amara gently to wake her from her slumber.
"Come on, Ames." I whispered using her nickname. "Time for bed." She opened her clear aqua eyes slowly.
"Yep baby. Now up." I took her hand and pulled her up. She held out her arms for me to pick her up. I lifted her slowly, trying not to hurt myself. As I carried her, I whispered. "You know, you're really getting too big for this, Amara."
Mulder and I carried our two youngest children to their rooms. I kissed each of our babies on the forehead before returning downstairs to my oldest baby.
Once we returned to the couch, Mulder pulled me into a loose embrace as we finished watching MacGyver. He dropped feather light kisses on my neck every time I got too engrossed in Richard. After the end credits, Mulder pulled my lips into a hungry kiss. I guess it's his way of claiming possession over me. I couldn't help but blush as Kiera hooted. Mulder playfully slapped her knee.
"Can it, Kid, you're embarrassing your mother." She laughed once more and I was reminded of how much of a culmination of Mulder and me, Kiera really is. She has her father's sense of humor and his eyes. Her hair is like mine, now that it's getting back to normal anyway. For the last few years, Kiera has been dying her hair black with a bluish tint. She's since let it wash out as she claims being a redhead isn't so bad.
After a few minutes, I yawned, "Well, I'm going to go upstairs now. Mulder, you can stay down here with Kiera for a little while longer if you want."
"Please stay down here just for a bit more," Kiera asked, looking up at me with her wide eyes.
"Alright, Kiera." I sat back down, tucking my legs back up underneath me. Mulder motioned for Kiera to come sit by him. She complied and regained her spot as Daddy's-not-so-little-anymore, little girl.
"How was your day?"
"Pretty good. Mila and Cora transferred into a couple of my classes. Emily seemed a little odd today. Amara seemed okay. She was excited about you coming home."
"I'll talk to Emily tomorrow." I mumbled.
"That's good. She seemed a little out of sorts. I didn't catch it all, but I think someone made fun of her or something."
"Daddy?" Kiera whispered.
"Yeah, Tiger?" Mulder answered in a tone equally as soft, using the nickname he'd given Kiera at birth.
"We're going to have to start filling out college applications."
"Where were you thinking of applying?" I asked curiously. Kiera was a junior, but had been working so hard, going to summer school when she didn't need to, that there was a possibility of her graduating early. Whether it would be a semester, or a full year, we didn't know. She had said once that she wanted to make up for the government's screw up of losing her immunization records and then telling us that she wouldn't be allowed in school for a full year because we hadn't filled out the paperwork. Thankfully, my mom had watched Kiera so we wouldn't have to put her in daycare while Fox and I worked.
"I don't know. I kind of want to stay closer to home. I don't want to miss my little sisters' childhoods."
"So it has absolutely nothing with missing your dear old parents." Mulder teased. Kiera hugged us both.
"Oh, Daddy. Of course I'd miss you and mommy. I didn't mean to imply that I wouldn't." I stroked her head gently.
"Kiera, your father was joking with you. We know that you'd miss us. I think that was your father's way of saying that you can go anywhere you want to and we'll support you."
"Thank you, Mommy."
We sat there talking for another half hour before Kiera yawned and I sent her into her room to get ready for bed. I knocked gently on her door and waited for her signal before entering. Kiera sat on her bed looking through her CD's. I walked over to her and brushed her soft hair back from her face. She'd managed to keep it beautiful looking even as it got longer and longer, something I'd never succeeded in doing.
"Hey, Kid." I sat down next to her. "What're you doing?"
"Looking for the CD you said you wanted to borrow. It was Third Eye Blind right?"
"Hey, are you going to need me tomorrow night?" I shook my head no.
"Dad and I can handle it. Why?"
"I have a date."
"Oooh what's his name?"
"Is he cute?"
"Looks just like my Jack."
"We've been through this before. Oh whatever. Your Jack."
"Thank you. Tell me about Evan." Kiera began to tell me about her date for tomorrow evening. We talked until Mulder came in and made his goodnights, urged me to do the same and stood outside Kiera's door. We left and started to walk toward the top floor. I couldn't resist the urge to jump on Mulder's back. At first he protested saying that he couldn't carry me because he was too out of shape.
"Do you remember when I was pregnant with Kiera?"
He chuckled. "Do I ever."
I swatted his shoulder. He laughed.
"That's not what I was referring to, Fox Mulder. What I was talking about is when I was about six months along and the elevator was broken. Do you remember what you did?"
"I picked you up and carried you up four flights of stairs." He nodded and brought my palm to his lips. He put the pieces of what I was trying to say together. "Dana, I was 21. I'm going to be 39 this year, I don't think I can."
"I think you can. Try it, for me?" I asked, much in the same way I had earlier in our case, kissing behind his ear. He tilted his head back and I pressed my lips to his lightly. Mulder began to climb the stairs while I hummed the first few bars of some song I'd heard on the radio on the way home.
I still remember the first time for everything Mulder and I have shared. Fox and I have been through hell and back together and we're even stronger for it. We first met right after Samantha's abduction. Fox was in a state where I was the first to really get through to him. Our friendship began one night when I'd gotten lost while wandering around my new home. I found him sitting on a swing in the park crying.
"Hey." Nine-year-old Dana Scully put her hand on the boy's back. He straightened defensively, and Dana noticed his hand dive back into his pocket.
"What?" the boy asked snidely. Dana withdrew her hand to sit on the swing beside him. She was undaunted by his rude attitude.
"You just seemed upset. Wanna talk about it?" the boy looked at her and she saw that he was older than her. Not a lot, just about 2, maybe 3 years.
"You mean you don't know?" The boy asked bitterly. "What have you been doing? Living under a rock?"
"Actually yes. My rock is very nice and comfortable. What about yours?" She paused and then seriously answered, "I just moved in today. I was walking around and got lost. Then I saw you." She stuck her hand out. "I'm Dana Scully." The boy grasped her hand firmly.
"Nice to meet you Fox. Would you like to talk about it?"
Fox shrugged. "Why not? You'll find out soon enough, anyway."
By the end of his story, Fox was in tears again. Hearing the pain in his voice, Dana offered her new friend a tight hug.
"I was so mean to her Dana. And I hope she knows that I didn't mean it."
"She does know Fox. Wherever she is, Samantha does know." Fox released her from his crushing embrace. Dana handed him a tissue she'd had in her pocket.
"Thanks." Fox muttered. He was slightly embarrassed to have been crying. His dad made a point to tell him that real men don't cry.
"Welcome," Dana rubbed his back comfortingly.
"So what are you, like 10 years old?" He asked suddenly.
"Nine." She answered softly.
"Oh," Fox was silent for a moment. "You said you got lost, want me to help you find your way home?"
"If you won't get in trouble for it, yes please."
"No one really cares where I've gone. So that means I'm all yours."
"Thanks." Fox nodded and stood, gently taking Dana's hand in his.
That night was the beginning of a wonderful, wonderful friendship.
Three Months Later
"Hey, are you sure you're okay?"
Dana looked up, accepting a soda from her best friend. They both looked at her skinned knee, and after a moment, he sat underneath her extended leg. He grabbed the washcloth from her hand and slowly started the clean her knee.
"Sorry," Fox apologized quickly.
"How's your eye?"
"It's okay too."
"Can you still see me?"
"Yup, ugly as ever," she teased. He spread ointment over the wound on her knee and bandaged it carefully.
"Let me look?"
She sat forward, presenting her swollen eye to him. He touched her cheekbones gently.
"I think you'll pull through."
"Your elbow's hard, Fox." She pushed him playfully, taking a sip of her soda.
"So's your head."
"But I hurt more."
"You know I'm sorry," he started.
"Of course I do, dummy," she turned, setting her head on his shoulder. "You're a good babysitter, Fox."
"Yep. 'Cept for when you push me down," she teased.
"But I lost Samantha."
"It wasn't your fault, Fox. And you haven't lost me."
"I'd be pretty stupid to lose you, what with all your curly red hair."
"Watch yourself carrot top," he grinned, teasing her playfully. "I might have to tickle."
As his fingers dug into her sides, she squealed, squirming away from him. When she was out of breath, and her cheeks were wet with happy, laughter induced tears, he stopped, leaving her on the couch to change the TV channel.
"Do you want some dinner?"
"Wanna help me?"
"Sure," Dana scrambled off the couch.
She liked it when Fox was asked to take care of her. He never treated her like she was dumb, or a little kid. He let her help cook food, and played big kid games with her, even though she was only ten.
He had set a stool on the floor for her to stand on, so she could wash the lettuce for the hamburgers he always made them.
"Burger and hotdog? Or just burger?"
He reached over and tugged her hair. She spun around and tossed splatters of water at him. They both laughed at her retaliation.
They both jumped. Fox's father stood angrily in the doorway.
"Sir," Fox straightened. He reached over and turned off the water, lifting Dana down from the stool. She hid herself slightly in his side. For all of her bravery, Dana was terrified of his father.
"Take Dana back inside and finish making your supper," Bill ordered. Fox nodded.
"Yes sir," Fox lifted Dana up, knowing that the sooner she was away from his dad, the better.
Dana squeezed his neck. "You can put me down now."
"Are you sure?"
She nodded, and he set her down on his bed. She smiled up at him.
"Are you okay?" he asked, knowing that she'd deny being scared anyway.
He nodded, leaving the room. Her smile faded when she heard Fox's father's angry voice.
"I saw her eye, son. What did you do?"
"Nothing, Dad. She fell."
"I'm sure she did. Did she have any help from you?"
"We were riding bikes and we got tangled up. She hit her head on my elbow as she fell and scraped up her knee."
"So help me, Fox, if there ends up being another scratch on that girl's head..."
Dana winced as she heard Fox's dad hit her friend.
"Now finish your dinner."
After dinner, Dana and Fox sat on the couch. His arm was wrapped protectively around her shoulders and she leaned against him.
"Can we go to the park, Fox?"
"I don't think so."
"I'll go ask," he smiled softly.
"Okay, thank you."
Fox walked beside Dana as she rode her bike to the park.
"Does it hurt?"
"When he hits you."
"Not anymore. I don't feel it much anymore."
Dana reached over for his hand.
"If you come live with me, it'll stop."
Fox laughed. "You're so cute."
"Ewww," Dana let go of his hand.
"You're gonna like me some day," he poked her side gently.
Later that night, Fox lifted his sleeping friend effortlessly. Her head lolled to his shoulder and he gently kissed her hairline. She was such a sweet kid, she took care of him as best she could, and he wasn't sure why. He pondered briefly about the connection they had; he felt like he'd always known her.
He set her down on his bed; glad that he'd made her put her pajamas on before they'd watched more TV. He covered her with his sheets, and turned off his bedside lamp, going to the sleeping bag he'd set out for himself on the floor.
When Dana was eleven, her father received word that he was being transferred again, this time to San Diego. Dana protested vehemently to the news. She was afraid of something happening to Fox. His father's beatings had started coming on a regular basis. Too many times for Dana's comfort, had Fox come to her window and knocked. The day she told him she was leaving, her point was proven.
Dana rolled over. Her mind was still muddled with sleep, but she'd distinctly heard his trademark knock. Dana quickly slid from her bed and opened her window, helping Fox climb in. She looked at him through the darkness, one hand reaching up to touch his arm. She ordered him to sit on her bed and tiptoed down the hall to the bathroom. Dana grabbed every first aid supply item she could get her hands on. Dana rushed back to Fox. She cleaned his cut lip and his forehead. After giving him some Tylenol, Dana pushed her best friend back onto the pillows and climbed in next to him.
"Thanks, Dana." He whispered. Fox took her hand as she kissed his cheek.
"It's got to stop, Fox." Dana sighed against his skin, sounding far older than her eleven years. "I'm leaving in two weeks. One of these times he's going to really, really hurt you."
"I know, Dana. There's nothing I can do short of leaving home."
"You have family near San Diego. Right?" Dana laid her head on his shoulder, her face in the crook of his neck.
"My grandparents live out there, yeah."
"You could live with them. I know they'd let you. Fox I can't, I just, you're the only friend I can't leave."
"Dana," he sighed, both loving and hating how she trusted and fit with him. He tried not to think about the way his developing hormones would interpret this embrace. "I'll be okay, Dana, you'll never lose me," he assured her, softly running his fingers through her hair. Fox yawned and Dana let the subject drop for the moment. She nodded and closed her eyes, drifting off again.
The next morning, Margaret Scully opened the door to her youngest daughter's bedroom. The lack of surprise she felt surprised her as she saw Dana and Fox curled up together. Had it been anyone else, she would have separated them immediately, but it was Fox who was with her daughter, and she knew he would never hurt her. Dana rarely slept late, and Fox's late night arrival was the reason this time. Through the sunlight seeping through Dana's open window, Maggie could see bruises covering Fox's face. On his forehead was a butterfly bandage. His lip was cut, but seemed to be healing. In his sleep, Fox moaned in pain. Dana smoothed her fingers over his chest to calm him. Fox settled and as he pulled Dana's body closer, Maggie could see a deep gash on his side where his t-shirt bunched up. Every time he moved, he grimaced. Maggie suspected that he hadn't told Dana about his injury. Sighing, Maggie pulled out the gauze and ointment and dressed Fox's wound. Once she finished, she kissed both Fox and Dana on the forehead. In return, Fox pulled her daughter closer to his body in a gesture to either keep her safe or show possessiveness. Maggie slowly backed out of the room and turned to find herself face to face with her oldest son Bill Jr.
"Hi, Mom." he blinked sleepily. "What's wrong with Dana?"
"Nothing's wrong, dear. I was just checking on them."
"Them?" Billy asked. "Is he in there?"
"Yes Billy. Fox is in there."
"Has he been in there all night?"
"I don't know." Maggie admitted. "Fox wasn't here when I went to bed last night."
"Why did he come over?"
"It's not my place to tell you, Billy. If Fox and Dana want to say, it's their choice."
"Are you gonna let them sleep still? He's so much older than her. What if he decides to ra-"
"Alright William Scully Jr. I've had it with your dislike for Dana's best friend. He cares about her, and she cares about him. Fox would never hurt Dana." Maggie opened Dana's door to allow Billy to see inside. "I probably shouldn't be saying this, but Fox came to Dana to get away from his father."
"His dad did that?" Billy wondered aloud.
"Hard to imagine. Isn't it?" Maggie asked rhetorically.
"What are you going to do mom?"
"I'm going to arrange for Fox to come with us when we move in two weeks." Maggie spoke resolutely. "Don't wake them," she added as she walked off to find and talk to her husband.
When Dana woke up she found Fox staring down at her, his eyes dark and sleep clouded. Dana reached up to check out Fox's forehead and her fingers danced across his face, caressing every little bruise and imperfection. Fox remained perfectly still until her exam was over. Once she'd finished, Fox reached out to mirror Dana's actions. He ran a finger under her eyes, where there were dark circles forming.
"I kept you awake last night." Fox whispered apologetically. "I'm sorry." Dana shook her head. She slid out of Fox's embrace to sit next to him at the head of her bed.
"Fox, you were hurt. You are my best friend; I'd do anything for you. Don't blame yourself for something that is not your fault."
"I know I said differently last night, but I don't think that I will be okay without you," Fox paused. "What'll I do?"
"Nothing, Fox. You're coming with us," Margaret interjected. Dana looked over at her mother, confused.
"Mom?" Dana asked as Maggie crossed to her bed and sat down.
"I called your mother, Fox. She gave her permission to allow you to live with your grandparents if they are okay with it. Then I called your grandparents. They also gave their permission for you to come with us. I also cleared it with your father and Dana's father for you to stay with us until we move. This means no more late night climbing into Dana's room."
Dana squealed and hugged Fox tightly. He hugged her back and rested his forehead in her hair.
"Thank you," he murmured softly.
While Dana showered, Fox found himself outside the kitchen. Margaret was at the counter, humming and pouring pancake batter onto a griddle. He shoved his hands into his pockets, walking up to her side.
"Is there anything I can help with, Mrs. Scully?"
"Could you set the table for me?"
"Sure." Fox grabbed plates and silverware from their respective cabinets and put them on the table, setting only six places.
"Squeeze in one more, dear. Between Dana and Missy if that's okay."
"I don't need to stay, Mrs. Scully. I should probably go home, anyway."
"I'm not sending you home hungry, Fox. Besides, I'm sure Dana will want to talk to you. While you were getting washed up, she said something about you moving your things now."
Fox blushed. "About that. I-"
"You're coming with us, Fox. That's final," she stopped. "I shouldn't say that. It should be your choice. The invitation is open, and arranged for you to come with us. I know you're going to be starting high school soon, and that you'll want to be with your friends, but it would mean the world to Dana."
"We're only concerned about your safety, Fox."
"I know, thank you. I need a few hours or so to think about it, but thank you, very, very much."
Margaret smiled as Dana bounded into the kitchen, Melissa hot on her heels. Both girls greeted Fox, but it was Dana who curled her arm through his and rested her head on his shoulder.
After a moment, Fox spoke up. "I think you're right, Mrs. Scully."
After the move, everything settled down considerably for two and a half years, when Fox found himself seeing his best, and only true friend in a new, completely different light.
"Are you tired?" Fox asked, squeezing Dana's shoulders. She shook her head around a yawn.
"You didn't have to stay so long, you know. I know you need to be at school early tomorrow."
"Please, Gram would rather me be here than anywhere else. Besides, I like your mom's cooking."
Dana giggled. "Knew it wasn't because of me."
"I never said that," he argued. "I like your cooking just fine too."
She slapped his arm, "Pig."
"I'm your future husband, babe, watch it."
"Wow, there went my future, down the toilet," she teased, grinning up at him. He poked her side in response.
They sat together in silence, and Dana's head landed on his shoulder. After a moment, she yawned against his neck, and he turned to her. His face was close to hers and he ignored the murderous glance her brother threw his way.
Dana nodded, snuggling closer to him. "Yep."
His lips involuntarily brushed her cheek. "Go to bed."
"I think I will," Dana's hand squeezed his. She stood, holding onto his hands and leaning down to kiss him on the cheek. "Drive carefully, okay?"
"I will," he returned her cheek kiss.
He watched her go, holding onto her hand until it wouldn't have been possible to stay seated any longer.
"She's fifteen," Bill murmured, catching his attention from across the living room.
"She's fifteen. You touch her and I'll make you regret it."
"I'm not- I wouldn't-"
"You deny it now, but I can see it. Stay away from her, don't touch her, don't look at her cross-eyed, and you'll be fine with me."
After a long, tense moment Fox nodded, standing and walking out the front door.
He was loath to ask her about her feelings, because he didn't want to make her feel uncomfortable. He also knew that her parents probably wouldn't approve of him staying over if they knew that he was attracted to their daughter. Fox found that he could deny his feelings no more than he could hide them, and on the night of Dana's first date, the truth came out.
Fox Mulder paced Dana's bedroom. As he walked, Fox surveyed his friend's room. It was decorated in the styles that Dana had begun to like. Her room had posters from TV shows and movies covering the blue-green walls. Since he spent a great deal of time at Dana's, he had his own drawer for clothes. On Dana's dresser, there was a photograph of the two of them from her younger brother's birthday party, the summer before she started high school. All the adults had gotten out to the patio before Dana, and she never got a seat. Fox had offered his seat to her, but Dana had refused and Fox simply pulled her onto his lap. Dana hadn't complained and had relaxed happily into his arms. It was then that Missy had snuck up and snapped the picture.
He surveyed the pile of clothes resting on Dana's usually spotless floor, picking up her discarded clothes and putting them away. They had landed there during her frantic attempts to pick out an outfit. Finally, she'd gone and raided Missy's closet. Had she been wearing her selection for anyone else, Fox might have been more accepting, but he blatantly told her that she looked downright trashy the way she was dressed.
After seeing Dana's hurt reaction, Fox immediately opened his arms and held her. He apologized for hurting her feelings about her outfit, but said nothing about her date. Her date, Brad Moore, was a guy known for his accomplishments with the ladies, whether they were welcome or not, and Fox saw red every time he heard Brad's smug, arrogant voice describing to his buddies how he was going to score on Dana Scully that night. Just the memory of Brad's face was enough to spur Fox into action. He grabbed his keys from Dana's bureau and dashed outside to his car. After turning the key in the ignition about four times, Fox slammed his hand down on the wheel and cursed. Finally he gave up and began to run to the spot in which Brad had said that he was going to take Dana.
It was only a few miles away, and then Fox saw the sign for the popular parking spot by a romantic creek. Creeping past the gates, he saw Brad's car and made his way over to it.
He saw Dana in the front seat of Brad's car. She looked uncomfortable, but Brad didn't seem to notice. Fox saw Brad lean over and that was his breaking point. He ran over to the car and pulled open the door, tearing Brad away from Dana.
"Fox, buddy, whatcha doin' here?" Brad sneered
"If you so much as touch her I'll..." Fox growled.
"Whoa, whoa. Where is all this coming from?"
"I know your intentions."
"And what would those be? I'm just trying to show Dana what she's missing by hanging with you." Brad choked out as Fox's grip on his shirt tightened. Fox didn't think when he pulled back and punched.
"Fox!" Dana screamed as she rushed out of the car and over to Brad's side. "What the hell do you think you're doing Fox?"
"I think he broke my nose." Brad's voice was muffled.
"Good. You deserve it."
"Fox. Get away from us Fox." Dana told him seriously. He looked into her eyes and saw genuine anger. He backed off a little as Dana loaded Brad into his car. He saw Brad tell Dana something, which only made her scowl deepen.
Fox looked down as Dana shot him a venomous look and started walking in the direction Brad's Camaro had taken. He ran after her, catching her by the arm, even as she struggled to get away from him.
"Damn it, Fox! Leave me alone!! Haven't you done enough tonight?" Dana growled.
"Dana, stop. There is a reason why I did what I did," Fox tried to justify himself.
"I can take care of myself."
"Not this time Dana," Fox argued and Dana howled in frustration.
"Bite me," she spat and pulled her arm away.
"Dana! Dana, wait!" Fox ran after his friend as she stomped away from him. He caught her around the waist and held her tightly. She struggled to escape from his embrace, and went so far as to scratch his face. Fox didn't let up.
"Let me go! Damn you Fox! I hate you!! I hate you!!" Dana beat her fists against his chest. Fox just stood there undaunted until she took a breath.
"You wanna know why I came after you tonight? I came after you because I wanted to make sure you're safe. Even if you hate me. And I came out here because I was jealous out of my mind-"
"You're jealous!?" Dana shot back. "You can't even talk about being jealous. How do you think I feel? When I risk getting caught skipping class to see you at lunch and instead all you can see is Lisa Wallace! If you're so jealous, why don't you go make out with her!?"
"Because I was just talking to her! If you had come over, instead of running away, I would have forgotten all about her. I wasn't trying to make you upset!"
"Well I was! I'm tired of being your stupid sidekick, Fox."
"You're not my stupid sidekick; you've never been that to me. I came after you because I love you, and I couldn't take it that you went out with him, when you should've been out with me!" Fox yelled right back at her. Dana stopped moving at his words.
"You - you love me?" she asked softly. He nodded, his eyes grave. "You love, love me. Not friendship, 'I think of you as my little sister' love?"
"Well, I do love you as a friend, my closest friend, but I love, love you too."
Dana grinned, realizing he was speaking the truth. Fox chuckled and slowly lowered his head, giving her time to pull away before he pressed his mouth to hers. When she kissed him back, he cuddled her tightly and deepened the kiss. When they broke apart, Dana pulled away and looked down at her hands. Two of her fingers had small smears of blood on them. She immediately looked up at Fox's face. The long scratch mark she'd made in her anger was bleeding slowly.
"Fox, you're bleeding. I'm so sorry, I did that to you. Come on; let's go home so I can clean that up."
"No. I'm okay. We still have to talk. I need to explain to you what made me do what I did out here tonight." Fox let go of Dana's waist and took her hand, holding it loosely to lead her over to a bridge covering the creek. Fox leaned against the rail and Dana fitted herself next to him, her free hand reaching out to cover his heartbeat.
"Why did you come after me tonight, Fox?"
Fox curled his arm around Dana, holding her like he always used to do. "This afternoon, I heard Brad talking about your date and the fact that he was going to score on you. Dana, I don't care how powerful you are, Brad is bigger and stronger. I wasn't going to let him hurt you."
Dana looked down and then back up at him. "Thank you. Although you could have been more delicate, you did the right thing for me," she stood on tiptoes and lightly kissed his lips. "And I do love you, too."
Fox smiled. "Come on. I'll walk you home."
Fox released her waist and they began to walk.
"So where's your car?" Dana asked, looking up and down the street.
"My car is at your house. It wouldn't start."
"Does that mean that you walked all the way here?" Dana asked, reaching for Fox's hand. He nodded.
"Well, ran, mostly. And I cleaned up your room, by the way."
Dana nodded, but otherwise they walked in silence.
When they were halfway to her house, Dana whispered, "I'm sorry."
Fox squeezed her hand. "For what?"
"I was such a bitch earlier. I said so many horrible things to you Fox. I made you bleed! And you just took my abuse. You shouldn't have to Fox. I shouldn't have acted like that. It was, it was just immature and uncalled for. After all that you went through with your dad, I shouldn't have ever hit you," Dana covered her face with her hands. Fox covered her shoulders and pulled her backwards into his arms.
"Dana, Dana, Dana. We both were a little out of line, me for not just telling you before you left. Let's just get on with our lives."
"No. Not until I'm sure you know how sorry I am, and how much I do love you, 'cause I don't think I accurately conveyed my feelings as I was yelling at you like a lunatic."
"I know, Dana. The sheer fact that you felt the need to yell like that says it all. Don't beat yourself up over this. That's where I come in." Fox teased gently.
"I'm just teasing. You know I love getting beat up," Fox replied. Dana rolled her eyes.
"How's your hand? If you broke Brad's nose, you had to have hurt yourself."
"It's okay. Nothing that a little ice and Dana Scully love won't cure," Fox took Dana's hand and kissed her fingers. Dana turned and took Fox's head in her hands. She kissed his face.
"How's this?" Dana asked softly.
"It's a start," Fox remarked coyly. Dana smiled and tightly gripped his hand as they once more began to walk home.
Once they arrived back at Dana's house, Dana got some ice for his hand and marched Fox up to her bedroom. After turning on the radio, they sat on Dana's bed against her headboard and talked. After a few hours, they heard Dana's parents talking downstairs.
"I wanna shower. I need to get the smell of Brad off of my clothes."
"He didn't touch you, did he?" Fox asked quickly.
"No, no. He never touched me. His car just smelled like an ash tray."
Fox breathed a sigh of relief and Dana kissed his nose. He gently took her face between his hands and rubbed his thumbs over her cheeks. They kissed softly, and slowly, their kisses went from gentle to lustful.
"Shower with me?" Dana whispered into Fox's kiss. Fox broke off and looked at Dana curiously. Sure, they'd taken showers together before, just never in the kind of context that Dana seemed to be suggesting.
"Isn't that, a little fast?" he asked.
Dana rolled her eyes. "Fox, I'm not asking you to do anything that we're not ready for. I meant in your swim trunks, and me my bathing suit. It's just, and I hate to tell you this, you smell bad. You're not sleeping with me smelling like that."
"Can it wait for a little while? I want to clear something with your parents first."
"I just want to get their blessing about us." Fox smiled as Dana kissed his chin.
"You just don't wanna get busted for making out with me when they still think you're the boy next door."
"You're damn right." Fox whispered before he kissed Dana again. She smiled and pushed him away.
Fox stood outside Dana's father's study. The door was cracked open and he could hear Dana's parents talking. He knocked lightly to alert them of his presence and waited until Maggie called for him to enter. He walked in and shut the door behind him.
"Mrs. Scully. Sir. I have something I'd like to ask you about."
"Sit down Fox. Ask us anything, we'll try to help." William told him. Fox sat and began to wring his hands nervously.
"Um, well, actually," Fox stuttered, "I'd like your permission to date Dana. I care for her a lot, I have for a long time, and I'd never hurt her or force her into something she wasn't ready for." Fox babbled. He dropped his eyes from Dana's parents and examined his hands. Maggie looked at her husband for a moment before covering Fox's hands with her own.
"Fox. Look at me Fox. Fox, both Dana's father and I are very happy that you've come to us to talk about your relationship with Dana. It shows that you really do care about our daughter. And if Dana accepts your offer, then it's okay with us."
Fox's face lit up. "Thank you. Thank you, Mrs. Scully." He hugged his best friend's mother tightly. She laughed and patted his back.
"Go back to Dana, Fox. I expect to see you tomorrow morning at breakfast. I'm fixing nothing short of a feast for William's send off."
Fox blushed. "Yes ma'am."
Fox rushed up the stairs and knocked on Dana's door. She let him in, wearing her robe. He immediately took her face between his hands and kissed her. She responded by shutting the door and slipping her hands under his shirt. After a few minutes of Dana's mouth plundering against his, she pulled away from him and took his hand.
"You got a yes, I take it?"
"I think they were relieved that it was me asking, and not anyone else."
Dana blushed. "Good, because I was too," after a moment she smiled, "You smell bad Fox. Let's go shower."
Fox sighed, resting his forehead against his arm. After a few quick deep breaths, he looked back up at her.
"Don't be like this."
"Like this?" she retorted, her eyes widening. "Like this is my fault? I'm not being 'like this', buddy."
"Okay, okay. That was a bad choice of words. I'm sorry."
"Yeah," she huffed. "You better be."
"Now that you're talking to me, can I have a chance to explain?"
"I never said I was talking to you. I'm answering you, there's a difference," Dana crossed her arms.
He reached over, taking her hand from where it protruded from under her arm. When she tried to snatch her hand back, his fingers tightened.
"You know I didn't mean anything by it."
She turned her head to avoid looking at him. He used his other hand to turn her chin. After a second she rolled her eyes and pulled her face away.
"Just leave me alone, Fox. Let me be mad at you."
He grinned, raising her hand to his lips. "I didn't mean to upset you."
"Well, you did."
His lips pressed to her fingers again. "You mean more to me than anything, okay?"
Dana looked him square in the eyes. "'Oh, it's only Dana,'" she spat, her voice low and mocking his.
"That wasn't what I meant."
"Well it still hurt!" she whipped her hand away, moving over to her bed and sitting by the window. He stood where she'd left him, his jaw opening and closing like a guppy out of water.
"You acted like I wasn't welcome. Like you didn't care if I stayed or went."
Fox crossed over to her, kneeling in front of her and lifting his hands, palm up. "You will always, always be welcome beside me, Dana. When I said that, I meant that whatever Jessie had to say to me, could be said in front of you. She was scared."
"About what?" Dana asked, her voice thick.
"She thinks she's pregnant, but she just broke up with Tyler because he was hurting her. She didn't want you to know because she doesn't want to put you in the middle of it."
"Because Tyler hit her." It wasn't a question.
"Yeah. She doesn't want him taking his frustration out on you. That's all it was. It wasn't me trying to upset you. You know that I never would tell you to go away."
Dana blinked, finally looking at him. "Why?"
"Why won't I ever tell you to go away?" he asked, waiting for her nod. "Because."
"That's all?" she raised an eyebrow. "Because? Because why? I mean, you're nearly three years older than me, you have friends I didn't even know about, you could have a girl who's a lot prettier and," Dana looked down at her chest, "...better than me. So why don't you?"
He stood, wrapping his arms around her and pulling her back onto her bed. She laughed quietly as he squeezed her and snuggled closer to her.
"Because you're cuddly. And I've never had a problem with your breasts so far," he grinned, moving his head to kiss her and accept his thwap on the head. "Okay, do you want me to date someone else?"
"You would like Jessie, Dana. She's a lot like you. Maybe she'd go out with me," he teased.
"I don't like you," Dana murmured. He kissed behind her ear, moving from one side of her jaw to the other. "Stop it. I haven't forgiven you yet."
"Yes you have," he murmured, pulling away and cupping her face. His thumb stroked her cheekbones and he kissed her bottom lip softly.
"Yes, yes I have," Dana agreed, setting her cheek on his shoulder.
After a few seconds he kissed her forehead. "What would you do?"
"What would I do, what?"
"If you were in Jessie's shoes."
"I couldn't ever be in Jessie's shoes. Because you'd never hurt me like Tyler hurt her."
"But, if you were."
"I don't know. You know I'm catholic, so I couldn't terminate, but I know I couldn't keep it at my age."
Fox nodded, "I think that's how Jessie feels too."
"I'm sorry for getting upset. I was being immature."
"It's okay. I don't want you to be upset at me. Besides, if you'd been as rude to me as I was to you, I'd be upset too."
"So we can kiss and make up?"
"We can kiss and kiss and kiss," he grinned, pulling her gently to his lips.
Throughout the last year of Fox's high school career, he and Dana carried on as normal. Their friendship hadn't suffered from their relationship, if anything it was stronger. Despite having applied to Oxford University in England, Fox had yet to receive word whether or not he'd been accepted. He had been accepted to UC San Diego, and opted to attend there, because it was close enough to his girlfriend and to his family. During his freshman year, in an effort to help him get acclimated to college, Dana would make weekly visits to campus, always surprising him at his job at the bookstore.
He would also make an effort to pick her up from school at least twice a week. Most afternoons he would take her back to her house and they would do their homework together. Or at least they'd try.
"Why? You're not actually working," she murmured, tracing her finger over the shell of his ear.
"I am too," he muttered, trying to catch her hand as it skittered away. She giggled, going back to her government textbook. After a few minutes, he felt her hand stray around to his waist.
When he looked over at her she was pouting slightly.
He scooted closer to her, wrapping his arm around her shoulder and lowering his mouth to hers. When he released her, he slumped farther against the couch.
"I wasn't reading anyway," he admitted. She grinned, going back to her book, but holding onto his hand. They both went back to their work.
After finishing the chapter, he shifted, tugging her in between his legs and wrapping his arms around her shoulders from behind. She dropped her head back onto his chest, just below his collarbones.
"Now you're distracting me," she mumbled, smiling as he pressed soft kisses to the curve of her eyebrows.
"Should I go?"
She opened her eyes, looking straight into his. "Never."
San Diego, California
He could barely look at her. She knew it was out of guilt because he was leaving, but he could at least make eye contact, damn it. She'd told him multiple times that she didn't blame him, she wanted him to go. She wanted him to get his degree in England, like he'd been wanting. He'd applied so long ago, and had been so upset that he'd been placed on the waiting list. Even if he'd tried to hide it from her.
"You know, you can talk to me. I'm not gonna bite you," she murmured, handing him the shirt he was missing. He went to take it from her, smiling slightly, but she held onto it, rising to her knees.
"Are you sure?"
She sighed, sliding her arms around his neck and stroking her fingers over the back of his ears. She pressed her lips to his lightly. His arms came around her and he rested his palms on her back, murmuring nonsense.
"I'm going to miss you," she whispered, "but this is what you need to do."
"I don't want to do it without you," he lightly kissed her neck.
"I know, but it's only a couple of years."
"That's forever when I'm away from you," he whispered, squeezing her tighter. She squeezed him back just as tightly.
"Are you done packing?"
"Not yet. But I need a break if you do."
"Can we get some dinner?" she asked.
As if she'd read their thoughts, Fox's grandmother knocked on the door and stuck her head inside. She smiled kindly when she saw their embrace.
"Are you hungry? I've made some dinner, if you don't mind a break."
"That would be great, Gram, thanks," Fox slowly released her, pressing his lips to her forehead. "Is that okay?"
Later that night, Dana followed Fox back into his bedroom. After dinner they had ditched packing and went to a movie. What they could really say about the movie was limited, most of the feature they had spent kissing.
After the movie, Fox called home and got permission to stay out a little later. He also called and asked Dana's mom to let her stay the night at his house. It was then that Maggie gave him some good news. Dana's acceptance letter had arrived.
"Fox, are you sure this is okay?"
"Your mom said it was. Besides, I still need your help to pack the rest of my stuff."
Dana smiled sheepishly. "Yeah."
They packed in silence. Every so often, Fox would reach over and kiss her. After a few times, Dana was in on the game too. By the time they finished one of their final boxes, there was more kissing than packing going on.
Fox's grandmother was amused when she stuck her head in to say goodnight. Dana was sitting on the footboard of Fox's bed, her arms curled around the neck of her still too-tall boyfriend. Their mouths
parted with a smack, causing her to chuckle.
"Should I wait to go to sleep? Or can you behave?"
Dana blushed furiously. She and Fox were usually never all over each other like they had been tonight. What was she thinking? Better yet, what was she doing? Was this even her? Maybe it was all her, maybe this was the way she really was.
"We're okay, Gram," they replied as one. Fox's grandmother absolutely refused to be called anything else by Dana.
"Alright then. Goodnight, Fox, Dana," she walked over to them and pressed kisses to both of their flushed cheeks.
Dana settled her head on Fox's shoulder and laughed. "I think I'm losing my mind, Fox."
He grinned into her hair, rubbing her back. "Meet you back here after another box?"
"You got it."
Midway through the box, Dana excused herself to go change into her pajamas. Fox's jovial mood darkened when he realized that it indeed was late. Their time together was once again limited. What if she wasn't ready for that?
Dana closed the door behind her softly. Fox was sitting on his bed, looking through his favorite photo album. Most of the pictures were of him and Samantha, but there were more recent pictures of Dana. Very few were of them together, most were of her alone. She crawled onto the bed behind him, wrapping her arms around his back.
"I still don't understand why you need to keep those terrible pictures of me, Fox."
"Very funny. Are you tired?"
"No. I'm just getting comfortable." She looked at the box, clucking her tongue. "What's this? You're not done?"
As he was placing a stack of magazines in the box, she rose to her knees again, beckoning him close. Once he was in her arms, she kissed him slowly. When he kissed her back, she began to steel her courage. This was it, wasn't it? She reached down with one hand and slowly inched her shirt up. Fox deftly tugged the hem up a little higher, reaching his hands to touch her back.
He broke away. "Dana, what are we doing?"
"I, I have something, don't worry."
"N...No, that's not it. I, why are we?"
"You're leaving tomorrow."
He framed her face. "I don't want this to be goodbye. This is more important than goodbye."
Dana bit her lip. Her eyes filled with tears and she nodded, wrapping her arms around his waist and burying her face in his chest.
"Don't think that I refused you, Dana. I refused your timing," he whispered, "I will always want you," he emphasized the word 'always'. She nodded against his chest, squeezing him tighter.
The Next Day
Dana stood by a pole in the airport, watching her boyfriend check his bags to be put on a plane to London. Everyone was there to see him off, but they all kept their distance, giving her and Fox the time they needed alone. When Fox was done at the checking counter, he sauntered over to Dana and took his carry-on duffle bag from her. Without a word he wrapped his arm around her shoulders and pulled her body to him.
"Where do you want to go until they start boarding?" Fox asked as he and Dana walked up to the group.
"Your gate sounds like a good place to go." Melissa Scully offered. Everyone agreed except for Dana, who kept her eyes cast on the floor. Fox motioned for everyone to go on ahead of them and turned Dana to face him.
"Dana." Fox brushed Dana's hair away from her face. She didn't acknowledge that he'd spoken; she simply stared down at the ring he'd given her when she was ten. He'd jokingly said it was all he could afford and would buy her a better wedding ring when they were older. It was from one of those machines where you inserted 25 cents and got a cheapo prize, but Dana treasured it. "Dana, look at me." Dana's hair flopped back into her eyes as she raised her head.
"I'm fine, Fox. Let's just go." Dana avoided looking at Fox as she began to walk. Fox caught her hand and pulled her back into a hug. Dana's arms wrapped tightly around his waist and she took deep breaths, no doubt to control her emotions.
"I don't want you to go, Fox." Dana's words hitched as she allowed some tears to fall. He knew this was the emotion she'd held back last night.
"Dana, I don't want to go either."
"So don't. Stay with me." She mumbled into his shoulder. Part of her hoped that if she begged, he would stay.
"But you told me to go." Fox defended playfully. "I wish I could stay. But I've already got a flat and everything."
"So you're leaving me for an apartment." Dana sniffled.
"I'm not leaving you." Fox answered mysteriously. If she only knew what her parents had done. She was going to be so happy. With a squeeze, Fox released his shaky girlfriend. He framed her face with his hands and kissed her softly. "I love you, Dana."
Dana's hand closed around the back of his neck and deepened the kiss. She moved closer into his embrace and threaded her hands in his hair. They broke apart for a few seconds before crushing together again in a tight embrace. Fox and Dana continued to hold each other and kiss until he felt a tap on his shoulder. Dana's mother stood beside them, amused by their public displays of affection.
"Come on you two. You're making it harder than it is." She spoke softly, and her comment was equally as puzzling as Fox's earlier statement that he wasn't leaving Dana.
Forty minutes passed before the announcement was made for first class passengers of Fox's flight. Fox was in coach and so he had a little more time, but began making his goodbyes to everyone. He kissed his grandparents and assured them that he'd call as soon as he got there. He hugged Dana's sister and shook hands with both of her brothers before turning to Dana and her parents. He held out his arms for Dana and she willingly walked into them, burrowing deeply. After a few seconds, Fox turned her around in his arms to face her parents. Maggie smiled and held out an envelope to Dana.
"Mom, what's this?" Dana looked at the envelope and turned it over and over again.
"Just open it, Dana." Fox whispered. Dana did so and gasped at the contents. Inside were Dana's medical and school records along with a one-way ticket to London.
"Your seat's already confirmed, Dana. You and Fox should get going."
"You mean.... Oh god." Dana tore out of Fox's embrace and hugged each of her parents tightly. "Thank you, thank you. But, what are my records doing in here?"
"Fox, I think you should tell her." Maggie gestured to Fox.
"Congratulations, Dana. You're one of the few who have been accepted into a special program sponsored by Oxford for exceptionally bright students. You'll be finishing high school and will have your place reserved for you at the university. You'll love the flat I bought for us."
"What about my stuff?"
Fox held up the duffle. "Here's enough for you until Melissa sends the rest over."
"Oh Fox!" Dana threw her arms around his neck and kissed him quickly. The woman at the gate made final calls for passengers and Dana gave her family a hug before pulling her boyfriend toward their future.
After a year of living in England, and of getting adjusted to being on their own, their relationship was put to a test. A classmate of Fox's was enraptured with him, and made a concentrated effort to attract him. At one point she asked him to meet her at Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's tomb under the guise of studying for an exam about said figure.
"Phoebe?" Fox called. He checked his watch, making sure that he was at their meeting on time. He looked around, deciding to continue on toward the tomb. He stopped dead when the candles came into view.
"Hi Fox," she murmured, crooking a finger at him. He drew closer, stopping when he realized that she was wearing a blanket and a blanket only.
"Phoebe. You're...that's...a blanket."
"Very astute, Love. Come along now."
Despite his better judgment, he moved forward, letting her hand reach out and caress his leg.
"Phoebe, what are you doing?"
"You're a smart boy; I know you can figure it out."
"Phoebe, I'm, I'm flattered, really. But, you know I love Dana."
Phoebe tugged him down to her level. She reached out to caress his face. "She doesn't have to know, Fox."
He pushed her away. "I'm sorry, Phoebe, I can't do this. I won't be able to live with myself if I do this to Dana."
He scrambled to his feet. "Please, Phoebe. I know that you feel...something for me, but I don't feel the same for you. Just let me and Dana be happy."
She nodded, pulling the blanket tightly around her. "Well, I'm sorry to have mistaken your interest." She replied haughtily, standing and gathering her belongings. "Goodbye, Fox."
As he drove up to his apartment building, he was happy to see Dana's bicycle out on the balcony beside his. She was home, good. He'd tell her, so that his guilt wouldn't get the best of him.
"Dana?" he called out, closing the front door behind him.
"In here." Dana shouted from her bedroom. He jogged in and saw that books surrounded her and her glasses were perched on her nose. Dana always said that she hated her glasses, but he always made her keep them, instead of getting contacts, because he insisted that if she were any sexier, she'd be forced to move out to be with more beautiful people.
Fox moved over to the side of the bed, and set some of the books on the floor so he could sit next to Dana, taking her face in his hands, kissing her gently. She laughed and shoved him away.
"I'm trying to study, Fox." She laughed and he backed off.
After three minutes of him watching her, she set her pen down, taking her glasses off. "What?"
His hand reached over for hers. "I just love you."
She moved closer to him, touching his down turned chin and kissing his mouth softly.
"What'd you do?" she asked playfully.
"Nothing!" he insisted, a little too defensively. "I just didn't expect you to be gone when I got home earlier."
"Fox, I told you this morning that I was starting work today."
"When?" Fox looked astonished.
"When I was doing that thing with my tongue..." she giggled.
"Okay, then it is obviously not my fault that I don't remember!"
They laughed, and Dana went back to her work while Fox sprawled out behind her, his fingers drawing patterns on her back.
"You were meeting Phoebe tonight, right?"
"How'd that go?"
His fingers stopped. "Fine."
"She wanted me to have sex with her."
"Oh." Dana was silent. "Well, thanks for telling me."
He poked her side. "You asked."
"Actually she did," Dana snorted. Fox grinned, resting his forehead against her back and laughing. "Well, I'm glad you didn't, you'd end up with all sorts of diseases."
Fox made cat sounds before planting a kiss on the exposed skin of her side. "Glad to know it woulda made such an impression on you."
"I'm secure enough to accept that you wouldn't sleep with someone else if you ever thought you had a chance at sleeping with me... ever."
"You're so sexy when you're giving me an ultimatum," he grinned, settling back against her pillows. She closed her books and set them aside, turning into his embrace.
"So long as you remember it," she grinned, kissing him softly.
"Will you stay with me again tonight? Just so I can have good dreams, of course."
They went into Fox's bedroom and Dana pulled off her top, looking for her pajamas. Fox stripped to his boxers and reclined on top of the bed covers. He noticed Dana's pj's lying on the bedspread and slowly snatched them up and hid them behind his back.
"Fox? Where are my pajamas?"
Fox feigned innocence, trying to look as obvious as possible. "Where'd you leave them this morning?"
"On the bed." Dana stopped and looked suspiciously at Fox. "What do you have behind your back?"
Fox pulled his hands out. "Nothing."
"I don't believe that." Dana pounced onto Fox wearing only her bra and panties. He retaliated by bringing his hands to her sides and tickling her mercilessly. Dana rolled so that he was on top of her and tangled her fingers in his hair and pulled him down to her, swallowing her laughter into his kiss.
"Hmm. Maybe I should tickle you more often. I seem to like the result." Fox grinned as Dana pulled on her pajama top and shucked her bra, masterfully removing it without showing an inch of skin.
"Haha. You're such a comedian, Fox. I'll be back." Dana slid from the bed and walked out of the room.
After she didn't return, Fox's smile faded and he rolled off the bed, to the floor. He ran across the apartment to Dana's room only to be greeted by a door in his face. He tried the handle and the door opened slowly. Dana sat on her bed surrounded by books.
"Well, I know where I stand," Fox grinned.
"I'm sorry; I remembered I hadn't finished something."
"Okay," he settled next to her, sprawling back on top of the covers. "I'll wait for you."
Dana reached back, touching his hand and squeezing. "Thanks," she smiled. They both recognized the double meaning behind her words.
Though they didn't discuss the state of their relationship, they were both comfortable with where it was going. Both recognized it as something which would come in time. And it did.
"I can't believe it started to pour." Dana moaned unlocking the door to her and Fox's apartment, leading him inside gently. He was shivering and soaked to the skin, even more than she was because when the downpour had started during their walk, he used his body to shield hers.
"It wasn't supp-posed to." Fox chattered. Dana began to tug him into their bedroom, where she'd set up the room for Fox's surprise. When they were standing in the doorway, Dana lightly kissed Fox before beginning to take off his shirt.
"You're going to catch pneumonia if you stay in these clothes Fox. Come on." Dana spoke softly, her plan not completely spoiled by the weather.
"So are you." Fox countered. He took in his surroundings. "Dana, what's all this?"
Dana succeeded in getting Fox's shirt off. "Your real present." She leaned up to kiss him, her body molding to his. "Happy birthday, Fox."
Fox pulled back, his eyes searching hers. "You're sure? Nothing has to happen if you're not sure."
"More than sure. Positive, Fox." Dana smiled widely and leaned in to kiss Fox again. He kissed her roughly, his hands making their way to her hips as he tugged her wet shirt out of her pants. She returned the favor by unbuttoning his pants and pulling them down his hips. He pulled away and looked at her seriously again. She nodded and after much deliberation, he did too.
The next morning, Dana's hair tickled his nose, causing him to startle awake. He blinked sleepily, wondering where exactly he was. As he tried to move, he realized that they were tangled together. He looked down, and pulled away quickly when he saw his hands practically groping Dana. As he moved, Dana squirmed, and despite his awkwardness, he smiled.
"Mm, hi," Dana looked back at him, her eyes still sleepy. He dropped a light peck on her cheek. She looked down, a soft blush infusing her face, and took his hand from her chest. Her fingers stroked his.
"Are you okay?"
"Last night was really-"
"Yeah," she echoed.
"Awkward," he finished.
"Yeah," she blushed, unable to say more.
"Are you hungry? I can make breakfast."
Dana snuggled back against him. "Not yet. Stay here a little longer."
He nodded against her neck. His eyes slid closed and he tightened his hold on her.
Once they'd both showered, she sat at their kitchen table and watched as he maneuvered around, making breakfast. After a few minutes, she stood up, moving over to him and hopping up on the counter. When he came back to that part of the countertop, she was blocking his way.
"You're being detrimental to the preparation of our breakfast," he murmured, trying to work around her.
"What's the problem with that?" she asked, sliding an arm around his neck.
He poked her in the stomach. "I'm hungry. And since you don't feel like feeding me, I've gotta do it myself. On my birthday and everything."
She rolled her eyes, but otherwise started to jump off the counter. He stopped her suddenly, cupping his palm around the side of her face.
"Thank you," he murmured, pressing a kiss to the corner of her mouth. "For my gift."
She returned his kiss, blushing softly. "You're welcome."
He reached over, turning the range off. "What are you doing? I thought you were hungry?"
He raised her fingers to his lips. "I'll get over it, come on."
Later on, while Fox napped, she slid from bed, finding a shirt to cover herself with, and padded to her desk. She switched on the desk lamp and pulled out a pen and some paper.
After some thought, she wrote to her sister. She told her about her decisions about Fox, and then about how awkward it had been, and still was. By the end of her note, she was blushing, but she new that Melissa would help her to figure the uncertainty out.
Two weeks later, Melissa's reply arrived. Melissa's advice was to stop pushing themselves for something they weren't ready for, and to let it happen.
Dana took her advice to heart, and began spending more time sleeping in her room alone. If they were going to 'let it happen', maybe she needed to back away. Gradually the awkwardness which had developed between them began to fade. During the night she would pad into his room and slide underneath his covers, cuddling up to his back.
One night, he was awake when she came to him. He had stretched one arm open to pull her in close, and the other wrapped around her. Dana slid her hand around to the back of his neck and touched her mouth to his.
All awkwardness was gone.
Once their winter finals were over, they flew home to the states for the holidays. While they were at Dana's parents' for Christmas, Fox proposed.
Fox and Dana sat together on the love seat in her parents' living room. Melissa and Charlie were sprawled on the floor and Bill and his girlfriend were on the couch next to Dana's mom and dad. Suddenly Fox pulled away and left her in the room, telling her to stay put.
Dana looked at her mother curiously. Maggie was grinning widely. "What? What is it Mom?"
"Nothing Dana. You'll see." Maggie looked up at Fox as he walked back into the room.
Fox settled back into his seat next to Dana and waited for her cousin's card game to finish. When the other members of the Scully clan filed back into the living room and Dana's baby cousin climbed into her lap, Fox dropped down in front of Dana.
"Fox?" Dana asked in confusion.
"Fox?" Lena mimicked. Dana smiled and kissed the six-year-old's hair.
"I had prepared this whole big speech, but then when I got down here, it all flew out of my head. Dana, you've been my best friend for years, and I don't know if I could have lived a day without you. I guess what I'm trying to say is, you've made me whole this long, what do you say we make it official?" Fox presented Dana with a ring that made her eyes go wide. She looked over at her mother incredulously.
"You knew about this?!"
"Guilty." She smiled. "Well, answer the poor boy."
Dana turned back to Fox. She lifted Lena off her legs and slid into Fox's waiting arms. After covering his face with kisses, she whispered, "Yes."
Later that evening, Dana pulled Fox up into "her" bedroom for a little quiet time. They had changed out of their church clothes and had put their pajamas on. They climbed onto the top of their bed and Dana slipped into Fox's arms. As he stroked her hair, she gathered her courage and whispered.
"Never mind. Now come on, Mom wants us down to open our one present each tonight. I love you." She whispered.
"I love you too, Dana." Fox kissed Dana softly.
When they returned to England after New Years, they had already begun planning their wedding. Dana didn't want a long courtship and had set a date for some time in March. Then she and Fox got the surprise of their lives. Dana was pregnant.
Dana sighed, wishing that the world would stop spinning. She'd woken up sick to her stomach, and while the nausea had cleared up, the dizziness hadn't. Right now she just wanted to get through class and go home.
Finally Professor Lawrence finished his lecture and asked for anyone who had any questions to stay after class and talk to him about it. The bell rang and she gathered her books, placing them in her bag. Fighting back a wave of dizziness she descended the steps to where her teacher was standing, only to stumble and be steadied by Tasa, her study partner.
"Easy Dana. You okay?"
"Yeah, I'm okay. I just need to ask Professor Lawrence something."
"You sure? You don't look so good."
"I'm fine." She snapped, turning toward Professor Lawrence. He was in the process of answering her question when she swayed on her feet and fell, the world turning black.
Fox rushed into Royal Hall, searching for where Tasa had said they'd settled Dana down. Tasa said she'd passed out. He knew that she had been feeling sick, and had even encouraged her to stay home. But Dana was so damn stubborn, saying she needed to attend class, to get the notes she'd missed from a day when she had stayed home.
"Where is she? Is she okay?" Fox demanded. His eyes flew to Dana, lying on a small cot in the back of Professor Lawrence's office. He made his way over to her, and brushed her cheek. It was hot and at his cool touch, Dana's eyes slid open.
"Fox?" She asked, sitting up slowly. His arm came around her back and he pulled her against him.
"Hey, how ya feeling?"
"Tired. I wanna go home."
"No can do, babe. We're taking a trip to the doctor. You took a spill and I wanna make sure you're okay."
"I just want to go home, Fox."
"We will. After you see a doctor."
"Okay." Dana murmured sleepily, relaxing in his arms. He picked her up and cradled her.
"Thanks for taking care of her." He spoke sincerely. Fox pressed his lips to Dana's head and walked out.
After they got to the doctor, they waited for someone to see them, and when they did, Dana promptly almost threw up on her physician. She decided to do some blood work and came back, announcing that Dana was pregnant.
"What? I can't be. I mean, we were careful."
"Every time?" The doctor questioned.
Dana squeezed Fox's hand, shaking her head no.
"Right," he murmured, resting his chin on their joined hands. He bit his lip thoughtfully, but didn't give any hints as to his thoughts.
"Well, not to sound cliche, but one time is all it takes. Is there anyone you'd like me to call?" The doctor offered.
"No, our, our parents are in the US. How far along am I?" Dana asked.
"Well, you seem to have pinpointed the relative date of conception, so you can calculate a rough estimate from your last period before that, but we should do an ultrasound to be sure that everything is fine."
"Okay." Dana squeezed Fox's hand as the doctor went to find the equipment. "Are you upset?" she asked after a few moments of strained silence.
"Upset? I don't know," he considered that for a moment. "I need to go outside, get some air," he kissed her forehead lightly. "I'll be back."
She nodded, sniffing and turning her head, not able to watch his back as he left. Her eyes squeezed shut as she realized that he might not be back.
"Let me guess, he went for flowers?"
Dana's eyes opened. The admitting nurse was standing by her bed.
"That sweet lad you were with, I'll bet he went for flowers."
"He went for air. For himself," Dana murmured. Her arms crossed over her chest.
"Oh dear. Would you like to talk about it?"
"Alright, would you like company until your doctor returns?"
"No." Dana lowered her eyes. "I just want to go home."
"You're from America?"
"May I ask where? My niece lives in Vermont."
"I've lived practically everywhere. My Dad's Navy."
"What made you decide to come here?"
"Your young man?"
Dana nodded, drawing her knees to her chest.
Her nurse patted her hand. "He's shell shocked about your news, I'm sure, but if he's worth your moving across the ocean, then he's worth
"Thanks," Dana rested her cheek on her knee. She sniffled when she felt soft hands in her hair. After a moment the bed dipped and he drew her into his chest.
"I'm sorry, Fox," she whispered softly, her voice thick. "I didn't even think."
His lips pressed against her temple. "I'm not... I'm not angry. And, it's not your fault alone."
She looked up at him, her eyes big and wet. "You came back. Because you're not angry?"
He brushed her tears away. "No, I'm not upset. I'm shocked, and knocked flat on my ass, yes, but angry, no. I'm sure after it sinks in, I'll even be excited," he stopped to take her hand and press a kiss to the back of it.
"Are you sure?" she asked softly.
"Yeah. I'm, well I'm not thrilled, yet. And I'm scared as hell. Especially since I'm sure your brother is going to want to kill me for getting you pregnant. Hell, if I were him, I'd kill me," Fox answered. "But I'm not going to-"
"Fox, I don't want you staying with me just because of this."
He shook his head, pulling her close again. "I love you, Dana. That's not going to change. Are you upset?"
"Yes. I can't have a baby at 17."
"Weren't your parents young when they got married and had Bill?"
"They were still older than I am."
"What do you want to do?"
"I don't know," she settled her head on his shoulder, closing her eyes. He rested his cheek on her hair.
"I want to believe that it'll be okay."
"You promise?" Dana whispered. Fox kissed her lips gently.
"I can't promise, but I'll try."
They were silent until the doctor and a nurse entered, carting an ultrasound machine. Squeezing each other's hands, Dana and Fox prepared to see their baby. The shock only grew when two heartbeats were detected; twins. Because of her age, Dana's doctor immediately put her on a series of pre-natal vitamins, she would need to adjust her schedule and take it easy because she didn't want anything to upset the pregnancy.
After they found out, Fox and Dana called up his grandparents and Dana's parents, and they flew to England to discuss things. Everyone knew that they wouldn't be able to give up their babies. The only thing they could offer was support, but Maggie offered to come stay with them after Dana gave birth.
After a series of debates, the location of the wedding was finally decided upon. In order to make it easier on Dana and Fox, their families and friends consented on traveling to England for the ceremony. Though Fox had no desire to convert to Catholicism, they agreed to let Dana's mother handle most of the arrangements, including the pre-cana classes they attended, the church and the priest.
For the three weeks before the wedding their apartment was overrun by any combination of Dana's family, Fox's grandparents, and even in the days leading up to the wedding, Fox's parents.
In the dark, Dana blinked, letting her eyes adjust. Fox was still out with his parents, showing them around and helping them to find a place to stay so that the apartment wouldn't be completely full.
Yawning, she slid from bed and fixed her socks so that the hardwood floor wouldn't send chills up her spine. Running a hand through her hair, she moved into the kitchen for a midnight snack.
As she rummaged in the refrigerator, she heard her sister's snicker.
Dana straightened, looking down at her full plate. She shrugged, grinning over at her older sister. Growing up she'd always had a huge appetite.
"You're eating pretty late, Danes, sure that isn't going to just come back up in the morning?"
"I hope not. I haven't been sick in a week or so."
Dana smiled, sitting at the kitchen table beside her sister. Melissa reached over, stealing some grapes from her plate and grinning as if she'd gotten away with robbing the US mint.
"Any reason why you're up so late?"
Dana shrugged. "Woke up and I wasn't tired anymore."
"Excited about finally tying the knot? Ceasing your stint in living in sin?" Melissa grinned.
"I guess, yeah."
"You don't sound too excited."
Dana sighed, setting her slice of salami back on her plate. She turned to the side, resting her head on her palm. Melissa mirrored her pose and waited for her to continue.
"I don't know, Mel. I love Fox, and I know he loves me. I want to get married. I want to be married to Fox."
"But I don't think I'm ready. I mean, I wasn't expecting a proposal, a pregnancy, and a shotgun wedding all in the span of almost four months. You remember how hard it was for us to be comfortable together, what if this is really just a mistake?"
Melissa reached out to take her sister's hand. "Dana, you'll probably hear a lot which will seem to contradict this, but this, marriage, children, etcetera is not a mistake. You've been in love with Fox practically your entire life, and this is right. This is what is supposed to be."
She squeezed Dana's hand, giving her a moment to process what she'd just said.
"You're right," Dana admitted, looking at their hands. "I guess I'm just overwhelmed. It feels like it's too soon to be getting married."
Melissa sat up, rubbing Dana's arm. "It would feel rushed even if you waited over a year to get married. That's part of what's involved in a wedding. You're going to be fine, baby sister, I promise."
Dana smiled. "Yeah?"
"Yeah," Melissa nodded.
Dana's uncertain smile widened. She and Melissa chuckled as she turned back to her remaining food.
"Why don't you go to bed? Tomorrow night is the rehearsal dinner, you should get some rest."
Dana shook her head. "I want to wait up for Fox and talk with you."
"Okay," Melissa stood, moving to the cabinet for a glass. She filled it with water from the tap and moved back beside Dana. "Alright, now you get to tell me. How does it feel?"
"How does what feel?"
"To be pregnant. How does it feel?"
Dana smiled sheepishly. "It feels really different. One minute I'm throwing up every meal I've eaten since 7th grade, the next minute I'm sitting with Fox and he's rubbing my stomach and all is fine."
"You're only showing a little bit. Is there really anything to feel?"
Dana laughed. "Not really. Sometimes I think I feel flutters, but they're a lot like gas bubbles honestly."
Melissa chuckled. "So it really doesn't feel like you're a mom yet."
"Oh I've always felt like a mom. 'Fox, don't play basketball in the house.' 'Fox, drink your milk before you can have soda.' 'Fox, this room's a mess, clean it up,'" Dana and Melissa both giggled.
"See? You're already prepared."
They both giggled again. Dana smiled, taking a deep breath.
"Did you see the name book that mom brought?" Melissa asked.
"Mmmhmm. I think it's a little early to be worried about that. Specially considering all the rest I've got to deal with."
"I understand. I do have some suggestions though," Melissa pulled some paper from her pocket.
Dana grinned. "Mel, I'm not naming either one of these children Moonbeam, Skye, or anything of the same hippie feel."
Melissa laughed. "Relax, I gave that list to Fox."
"Funny," Dana took the paper, looking over it. "Some of these are nice."
Dana showed her. Melissa nodded.
"Where'd you get Kiera?"
"My roommate from freshman year. Her sister died of leukemia when they were kids, and her name was Kiera."
Dana nodded. "What does it mean?"
"I'm not exactly sure, but it's Gaelic. It's a female version of Kieran, so if one's a boy..."
"Thanks, Mel. I'll hold onto these."
"Hey, what're you doing up?"
Both of them turned and Dana's smile widened. She tilted her head back, catching him in a soft kiss as he bent to peck her forehead.
"Missy and I were just talking."
"You should be sleeping."
"I wanted to wait for you. Did you get your parents settled?"
"Yep, in separate rooms at separate ends of the same hotel."
Dana chuckled. "Did you eat?"
Fox nodded, kissing her eyebrow. "What about you?"
Melissa snorted, and Dana swatted at her. "I'm full."
"Okay," Fox yawned. "I'm going to go to sleep now. I can still inhabit my own room, right?" he asked, referring to the fit Dana's mother had had about them breaking tradition by continuing to stay in the same room before the wedding.
Dana giggled. "You're safe for tonight. Tomorrow night you're out of the apartment completely."
Fox sighed, "I've gotta stay with one of my parents?" he whined softly.
"Just for one night," Dana assured, pressing on his cheek.
"Marrying you better be worth it," he grumbled playfully.
Reaching up, she dragged his head down to hers. "Oh it will be," she grinned, kissing him softly.
"Goodnight you two," Melissa called, standing up and patting Dana on the back. Fox released her sister gently.
"Night sis," she kissed Dana's cheek, and then kissed Fox's cheek as well.
The next night at the rehearsal dinner, Fox's parents barely said two words to each other, and consequently to everyone else. Fox tried his best to draw both of them out, but they both remained aloof to the proceedings.
"Mom, would you like some more champagne?" Fox offered the bottle, posing the lip at the top of her champagne flute.
"No Fox, I've had enough."
"No. I'm still drinking my scotch."
Fox nodded, biting his lower lip and returning to his seat. Dana's hand scurried over to cover his. She kissed his cheekbone softly before turning back to face her mother.
"How are you feeling, Fox?"
Fox grinned. "I've been better. But I've been a lot, lot worse."
Maggie reached across to touch his hand. "It's not exactly the reception you'd hoped for, is it?"
"No, Ma'am. I'd expected something... warmer, I guess."
Dana squeezed Fox's hand. "They'll come around, Fox."
He kissed her cheek gently; draping an arm around her shoulder and tugging her gently back to his chest. She smiled, resting her cheek against his.
"How much longer do we have to stay?" Dana whispered softly, causing him to laugh.
He turned to press his lips to her temple, "Only as long as you want to, I'm definitely ready to ditch the parental squad."
Dana giggled. "Not what you'd expected, huh? In any direction."
He closed his eyes against her upswept hair just as the clink of silver on crystal rang out. His mother was looking up at his father expectantly; waiting on the speech he was about to give.
"Fox," he stopped, sighing gently. "We wish you all the best."
After another second of silence, he sat down. Dana's parents looked at each other in surprise, and Fox's head bent slightly.
"Thank you, Mom, Dad."
"Yes, thank you," Dana echoed softly, reaching up to squeeze the hand resting on her bicep. Fox turned and kissed her nose.
"You ready to go out for a little while?"
Dana smiled, "Yeah," she turned to her mother. "Do you mind if we go out for a little while before I'm supposed to turn into a pumpkin?"
"Take your brother with you. He'd like to see a little more of you before we have to leave," William nodded in Charlie's direction. Dana looked up at Fox, who nodded in agreement. Charlie was fifteen, so he wouldn't be too hard to deal with.
"Okay," they agreed.
In the end, Bill Jr. and Melissa also came along. Bill was there for no other purpose than to chaperone, and Melissa was there to keep him from intentionally walking between Dana and Fox just to keep them separate. In fact she made both of her brothers go inside before Dana, just to give the couple some privacy.
After a few quick goodnight kisses, Dana went into their apartment, and Fox made his way to the hotel where his room for the night was waiting.
The next morning went by as a blur; Fox remembered waking up to the impatient poundings of Dana's brother. He and Fox's future father in law had arrived to help Fox prepare. After that however, until the moment his hands were joined with Dana's in front of the alter, he didn't recall a second.
Dana's lips curved in a smile. "Are you okay?"
Fox stroked her knuckles, raising one of her hands to his lips. "I'm amazing," he murmured, grinning at her. "Are you okay?"
"Children, please," their priest smiled indulgently.
"Sorry, Father," they murmured in unison.
As Fox repeated his vows, his hand reached up and stroked the silky skin of Dana's cheek. With every soft-spoken word of love, Dana leaned farther into his caresses.
After his vows were completed, Fox bent, pressing a kiss to her ring finger. Dana sniffed, brushing her thumb across his lips. She repeated his actions as she slowly repeated the instructions from the priest.
She held his hands tightly, her grin spanning the width of her face. He reached up and wiped a stray tear from her cheek.
"Fox, you may kiss your bride."
Fox grinned, squeezing her hand and dropping his head to hers. She licked her lips, and brought her hands up to frame his cheeks.
"I've never loved you more than I do today," she murmured.
He nodded, pulling her close and kissing her softly, respectfully, reverently. When they pulled apart, the audience cheered.
The middle months of Dana's pregnancy weren't too hard on her both physically and emotionally. She managed to rearrange her work schedule and class schedule to work one day and go to classes the next. On workdays, Fox would come and pick her up at 7pm after he got off work.
"Almost ready to go, Dana?" Fox leaned against the door jam watching his wife scribble notes on a chart. She looked up toward him.
"Fox. I didn't hear you come in. Let me finish these last few charts and then I'll be ready."
"Alright." Fox relaxed into a chair in front of Dana's desk.
"How was your day?" Dana asked absently, signing the last of the charts. Since Dana was majoring in pre-med, she'd gotten a job working as an intern in a clinic.
"It was okay. My favorite part finally rolled around." Fox grinned as Dana blushed. He stood and crossed to her side. He wrapped his arms around her shoulders and kissed her sweetly. "Almost done?"
"Almost." Dana answered and then giggled as the babies started to flip flop in her stomach.
"Are they moving around?" Fox asked as he gently placed his hand on her belly. "How've the lumps been today?"
Dana set her pen down. "I'm done. My back hurts, my feet hurt, and they're not lumps Fox, they're babies." Dana's eyes filled with hormone induced tears and Fox quickly shushed her.
"Shh. Shh, I'm sorry. I forgot how much you hate it when I say that. I won't do it again." He promised kissing Dana's temple.
"Good enough." Dana smiled through her tears and lifted herself out of the chair. "Let's go home."
Once they got home, Fox led Dana into the building, his hand supporting her back as she was leaning farther and farther back as the pregnancy progressed. She was in her sixth month and since she was carrying twins, had gained more weight than normal and it was putting horrible strain on her back. Fox moved them to the elevator and Fox pressed the button. After a few minutes, he stabbed at it again. He stabbed a few more times before Dana tugged on his sleeve and smirked. He followed the finger she was pointing to a sign that said "OUT OF ORDER"
"Looks like we're taking the stairs. Can you manage?"
"I'll try. Just stay behind me and make sure I don't fall backwards." Dana smiled. As they started up the stairs Fox stopped her and lifted her up gently.
"Fox! Put me down! You can't carry me up four floors!" Dana protested.
"Yes I can. I've done it before."
"Not since I became a beached whale," she argued.
"You're just fine to carry." Fox assured. "See? All that protesting and we're here." He set her carefully on the floor. She looked up at him under heavy lidded eyes.
"I love you, Fox."
"I love you, too." Fox whispered back as Dana pulled him inside their apartment.
Toward the end of Dana's pregnancy, carrying two children in a body only meant for one began to take its toll on Dana. She gradually had to cut back to one class per day and took advantage of the maternity benefits that her job offered. When she did go to class, Fox accompanied her and pretty much held her upright while walking. They were in class when Dana went into labor.
Fox was worried. After Dana had gone into labor they'd rushed her to the hospital and called Maggie Scully. That's where they'd been for the last nineteen hours. They'd strapped a fetal heart monitor to Dana's stomach and were monitoring both Mother and babies' vitals. Then, all at once, the machines began to beep.
"It's time! Dana, when the next contraction comes, I want you to bear down as hard as you can and push." Dana's doctor spoke. Fox tightened his grip on Dana's left hand as Maggie did the same with Dana's right. The words were barely out of Dana's physician's mouth when Dana began to howl in pain.
Fox concentrated on helping his wife, who was in such pain he ached with her. She was whimpering and he kissed her gently. His grip on her hand tightened.
"Come on Danes, you're doing great. I can see the first one now. She's beautiful, honey. So beautiful, just like her mother." Fox finished as Dana bore down again and they then heard an angry cry of a newborn.
"We're only half done here Dana, next contraction push." Dana's doctor called. Unconsciously Dana gripped Fox's hand to the point of pain. Fox barely noticed. The next contraction came and Dana pushed. The rest of the birth went smoothly, and soon Fox and Dana were holding their new daughters. Tears ran silently down Dana's face; she was so damn exhausted. She closed her eyes and offered a prayer of thanks for the gifts she'd been given.
A squawk from her arms brought her back to the present. Fox was standing next to her. "She needs a name." Dana croaked. "Both of them do."
"Let's just think bout this one's name first," Fox indicated the baby she was holding, "and since you did all the work, it's your choice."
She thought for a moment. "Kiera," she whispered. "You pick a middle name Fox."
"Ann, Samantha's middle name is Ann."
"I'm just not ready to admit that she's dead, okay?"
"Okay," Dana smiled, reaching over to squeeze his hand.
"Hello Kiera Ann. I'm your mommy, and I just want to tell you that you're so precious to me and to your Daddy." Dana told her newborn daughter. Kiera let out a little cry and Dana rocked her gently to shush her. Kiera nuzzled at Dana's chest, obviously hungry. Dana chuckled and prepared herself to nurse. Once she was finished, she passed Kiera to Fox, who handed her the other child.
"What should your name be?" Dana cooed to the sleeping baby. "Anything coming to mind?" she asked Fox.
He shook his head, smiling easily. "My creative genius is tapped out."
Dana snorted in a decidedly unladylike manner. "I'll remember that."
"What about Adrian?" he asked.
"Adrian? Isn't that a guy name though?" Dana asked.
"Doesn't have to be. Spell it with two n's and it's been known as a girl's name."
"I don't like it with two n's. That's why I bypassed it in the book mom bought." Dana argued.
"So we leave it with one n. It's a unisex name. I think it's pretty," Fox finished.
"Okay," Dana conceded, smiling. "How bout Renee for her middle name?"
"Beautiful. So it's settled, Kiera Ann, and Adrian Renee."
At the mention of her name, Adrian let out a small cry and her eyes opened slowly. She stared up at Dana as if she was actually seeing her mother. Adrian blinked once, twice, before tugging on Dana's gown.
"Do you want to nurse Adrian is that what you want?" Dana looked up at Fox. He shifted Kiera and settled her into the crib that a nurse had set up for the babies.
Adrian whimpered again and Dana quickly shed her top to allow the baby to nurse. Fox noted that they both seemed to be calmed by the act and he gently ran his fingers over Adrian's face.
"I haven't told you how beautiful you are today, have I?"
"Not today, no."
"You are, holding both Kiera and Adrian in your arms, you're radiant. I love you so much." Fox whispered, kissing Dana's temple.
"I love you too Fox." Dana smiled through the tears that had spilled down her cheeks.
A few days later, Dana, Kiera and Adrian were all discharged from the hospital. Things were relatively peaceful until one night Dana and Fox went out for some time to themselves. They left Dana's mother with the girls and decided to just go to the park and spend some time alone.
When they walked home however, their evening came to a swift halt. There were medics coming in and out of their apartment. Dana and Fox rushed up the stairs.
"What's going on?" Dana demanded, dropping Fox's hand, looking for her mother. A uniformed paramedic stopped her. Fox took that opportunity to go looking for Maggie.
"Ma'am, can I help you?" he asked calmly.
"This is my apartment, I live here! What's going on? Is my mother okay? Are my daughters?"
Dana heard her name called and looked past the paramedic to find her teary-eyed mother standing with her husband and the older of her twins, Kiera. She rushed forward. "What's going on, Mom?"
"Oh Dana, I'm so, so sorry. It's Adrian."
"What? What happened? Is she okay?" she asked. Fox took her hand between his.
"Dana, she's, she's gone," he whispered.
"What do you mean? Did someone take her?" Dana's eyes widened as she realized what he was saying. "No, no," she backed up and stumbled. Fox's arms shot out to catch her. She collapsed against his chest. He lowered them both to the ground and rocked her gently.
"It's okay, Dana. It'll be okay," he murmured.
"How can you say that? One of our daughters is dead!" Dana spat, her face buried in his chest. He didn't respond, but his arms tightened around her. Finally, she pulled away, wiping her eyes. "What happened to her? Where is she? I want to see her." "Dana, I don't think that's a good idea," Fox stood, reaching for her arm. She pulled away, and turned, running off to find someone who would tell her what was going on. Fox spun, wiping his own eyes discreetly before turning back to Maggie and taking Kiera from her. Maggie reached up and hugged him tightly. Fox's breath hitched and he began to cry in his mother-in-law's embrace.
After Adrian's death, Dana began to detach from everyone. As hard as he tried, Fox couldn't get her to talk to him. Especially since he had his own pain to work through.
Fox Mulder sighed tiredly. Kiera wasn't settling, and he was exhausted. Shifting his child, now his only child, he resumed pacing the kitchen.
Kiera whimpered against his neck. He patted her back softly, smiling when she burped in his ear.
"I miss her too, Kiera," he murmured, continuing to walk the floor.
Most nights like this, Dana would be up with Adrian too. They'd walk the floor, occasionally stopping to share a kiss and trade kids. But since Adrian's death, Dana couldn't bring herself to spend a lot of time with them.
He turned Kiera in his arms, cradling her head in his palm. After a long moment of staring at her, he lowered himself down into a chair. He blinked, mentally cataloguing her features and comparing them with Adrian's. His eyes filled and he bent, kissing Kiera's smooth cheek. She squirmed, full of life, and it only made him cry harder.
"I didn't even think I was ready to be a dad, you know. I mean, I smiled through the uncertainty, told your mother that I was okay with it, but I wasn't. I was completely shit scared, unprepared, and not ready to be a real father," he sniffed, laying Kiera on his lap and coving his face with one hand.
"When you were born though, I couldn't imagine not loving you both. I didn't care that we were both young, or that it meant I was bound for the rest of my natural life to you and Adrian. All I cared about was doing anything for you and Adrian," he bit his lip, trying to get his breathing under control. "I didn't think I wanted to be a dad. And now I can't even imagine otherwise. And your sister is gone. I finally accept my life, and she's gone."
He felt warm arms slide around him, guiding his head onto a shoulder. He recognized his mother in law's strong hands as they sifted through his hair.
"Maggie, I don't think I can do this anymore."
"Sweetheart, I know this seems impossible," Maggie began, pulling away to accept the baby, "but everything will be okay."
"I try to be strong. For Dana, for Kiera, but I just want to give up."
"You have every right to be upset, Fox. Adrian was, is a part of you too. But you're going to be okay," she promised, reaching up to stroke his hair.
"I'm so tired, Maggie."
"I know, Fox, I know."
"Dana won't even speak to me. She barely looks at Kiera."
"Give Dana time. She never has been an outgoing person when it comes to grief. She takes time to work it out in her head, and then decides if she wants comfort."
"Does she even need me then, Maggie?"
"Of course she does. Of course she does," Maggie repeated, hoping Dana wouldn't let this poor boy down.
Fox sat up, swiping his hand over his eyes. He reached for a tissue to blow his nose. When he was ready, he turned back to Maggie.
"You can talk to me any time, Fox. Any time you need me."
"Thank you," Fox sniffed, reaching for Kiera.
"I'll take her. You go on to bed."
"Okay. Thank you," Fox kissed Maggie's cheek and kissed Kiera's forehead softly.
He found Dana in their bathroom, leaning against the wall. He lowered down beside her, mimicking her posture by drawing his knees up to his chest.
"I couldn't sleep," she whispered, her voice hoarse, "I heard you get up with Kiera; I kept expecting Adrian to want attention too."
"I didn't ask if you wanted to get her. I'm sorry."
"No, it's okay."
"Dana, come here."
She leaned quietly into him, resting her cheek on his shoulder, but not letting him hold her. He lowered his arm, resting his hand back on his knee. He'd do it on her time.
"Please talk to me."
"Dana, please. I want to help. I want to talk to you. I need to talk to you. I need to confide in you. I know you need me too."
Dana pulled away. "No, Fox, I don't need to talk. I don't want to talk. What I want and need is my baby!" she scrambled to her feet, going into their bedroom and getting back in bed, effectively ending their conversation.
Fox's head fell back against the wall. After a long time, his eyes closed and he covered his mouth to try and muffle his sobs.
Finally, weeks later, Maggie managed to get Dana to open up.
"Dana?" Maggie Scully pushed open the door to her daughter's bedroom. Her son-in-law had asked her to talk to Dana. Fox was worried about his wife; she was withdrawing more every day since their daughter Adrian's death.
"Hey Mom. What's wrong?" Dana asked from her seat by the windowsill.
"Nothing honey, I just came to see if you wanted to talk."
"We don't talk much anymore, do we?" Dana sighed, leaning deeper into herself. Maggie settled beside her and slipped an arm around her shoulders.
"Dana, sweetheart, can we talk about Adrian? Fox says you won't talk to him about it."
"What's there to talk about?" Dana replied miserably, "She's gone and there's no amount of talking that will bring her back."
"Sweetheart, we both know that it's not healthy to bottle up your emotions."
"You sound just like my shrink husband," Dana spoke bitterly and Maggie drew back a little at her harsh tone.
"Dana, you know how much Fox loves you. He only wants you to feel like yourself again."
"I can't do it," Dana whispered. "I can't be everything that my husband wants. I can't be everything that Kiera needs in a mother. I can't do everything that the church demands of me. I can't be a wife, a mother, a student, and me all at the same time!"
Maggie pulled Dana close as her tears began. Not knowing what else to do, she simply held her youngest daughter tightly.
"Shh, Dana. It's okay to feel this way. You've been through a terrible ordeal these last few months, and nobody expects you to simply bounce back. It's understandable to feel less than adequate, but Dana, you are a beautiful mother, and a wonderful wife. Adrian may be gone, but Kiera's still alive. You need to think of her too. Sometimes God works in mysterious ways."
"And was this punishment for something I did, or didn't do?"
"Of course not."
"So tell me why? Why not me? Why not Fox?"
"Dana, you know I don't have the power to answer that," Maggie soothed, rubbing Dana's arm. She pulled away as Kiera began to howl.
"I'll get her, and then we'll be out of your hair for awhile."
"No mom. I'll get her." Dana stood, wiping her eyes. Steadily, she left the room. A few minutes later, she came back in, cradling Kiera against her chest. Smiling slightly, she whispered, "She just wanted a little love. And a new diaper."
Maggie chuckled, and then grew serious, "I know you're hurting, Dana, but it will get easier with time."
"Not before it gets harder though. Oh Mom, I've been so horrible to Fox these last few months."
"He understands, Dana. After all, he's put up with your moods for a while," Maggie smiled gently. "Why don't you get some rest sweetheart? Fox will be home soon, so I'll make dinner and send him in when it's ready."
"Thanks Mom. Would you take Kiera?" she asked. Maggie stepped forward and lifted Kiera from Dana. Kiera protested, and so Dana took her back. "It's okay. She can stay with me."
"Night Mom," Dana whispered, turning to Kiera. "I love you dearly, Kiera. I know you know that. I never want any type of harm to come to you. Since we lost Adrian, you're all your father and I have. I love you, Kiera." Dana settled down on the bed, making sure that nothing would hurt Kiera before kissing the baby and closing her eyes.
When she came to, Fox was leaning over her. He smiled gently.
"Hey Dane, have a nice nap?"
"Mmm," she stretched and looked around. "Where's Kiera?"
"She's out getting her dinner. I was sent to wake you so you can have yours."
"Mmm, okay. C'mere," she tugged his head down to hers. Their lips met and they both sighed. Fox pulled away, looking quizzically at her. For the last few weeks, she hadn't even allowed him to touch her. "I love you," Dana breathed.
"I love you too, Dana," Fox shifted so that he was lying beside her with his head supported by one arm, and the other curled around her waist. "Is, are we okay?" he asked, resting his chin on her shoulder.
"We will be," Dana assured. "So, what's for dinner? I'm starving."
Fox smiled, seeing glimpses of the 'old' Dana. The happy young mother she'd been before Adrian's death. He kissed her face gently. "Please remember that I love you and I'd do anything to take away the pain you're feeling."
Dana touched his cheek, "I do remember Fox. I just, got so wrapped up in grief that I forgot that you were hurting too."
Fox picked up her hand, and kissed it softly. "I just want you to feel better. You can scream at me, you can hit me, whatever. I just don't want to you hide what you're feeling."
"I don't. And I might yell, but I'd never hit you, Fox. Well, not unless you were being a monumental asshole."
Fox chuckled, "That's good. Cause for someone so little, you pack a hell of a punch," he pulled her upright.
"Fox," Dana giggled, "I want to change clothes. I've been in these for the last two days. I think my shirt is probably ruined."
"I think it'll be fine," Fox kissed her brow.
"I don't think so. Baby puke is something that isn't easy to get out of this type of shirt."
"I'll wash it then. Come on, off with it," he teased, lifting the hem of her shirt. She giggled and leaned into him.
"I know what you're trying to pull," she warned. "You just want to get me undressed and into bed."
"Why on earth would you get that idea?"
"Gee, I don't know," she laughed, tugging on his hair to kiss him. "I've missed you, Fox."
"I've missed you too," he whispered, slightly confused by her admission. She saw him every day and every night.
"Will you," Dana lowered her voice, "make love to me tonight, Fox, please?"
"He'll manage to do that, after you both eat dinner," Maggie's amused voice broke through. Dana's head dropped down onto Fox's chest in embarrassment. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw her mom leave the room.
"So I got a little sidetracked," Fox grinned. Dana smiled slightly into his chest.
"Go on, Fox. You're getting me in trouble with my mother."
"Oh really? So she'll really hate it if I do this," Fox dipped Dana at the waist and covered her face and neck with noisy kisses. Dana laughed and held onto his upper arms so she wouldn't' fall over. He brought her up and kissed her deeply.
"You have five minutes before I'm coming back in, and then you can forget about dinner."
The next months were very hard on both of them. There were many times that they thought they were falling apart, but a joyful smile and a laugh from Kiera would bring them back together. Adrian's death was not one that was easy to recover from, but soon, Dana managed to bury her grief and put the effort into loving her surviving daughter and her husband.
Over the next 17 months, Dana and Fox made efforts to move on with their lives. They took Kiera to visit Adrian's grave with them frequently, only telling the toddler that they were visiting a friend of 'mommy and daddy's'. They were reluctant to tell her more, knowing that she was too young to understand, but promised each other that they would tell her when Kiera was old enough.
They decided that when Kiera was about a year old that they should make a trip back to the states because with the exception of Maggie, none of their family had seen Kiera in person. They flew to Maryland where William had been transferred and then Dana's parents, her younger brother, and Dana, Fox and Kiera flew to California to visit his grandparents. While they were in San Diego, they decided to drive up to LA to go to Disneyland and the beach. When they went to Disneyland, Kiera cried the entire time.
The beach was received decidedly better by Kiera. She loved the water and the sand. Dana and Fox couldn't keep her out of the latter. They found that she enjoyed covering herself from head to toe in sand and then didn't hesitate to run headlong into the water, cleaning herself off and giving them a heart attack in the process.
When Kiera was finished playing in the sand, she toddled over to Dana and curled up in her arms with her head on her mother's shoulder. Dana chuckled and gave her sandy daughter a kiss on the forehead.
"You wore yourself out Kiera. Didn't you honey?" Dana whispered shifting the baby in her arms. "Okay sandy girl, let's go back inside and get you cleaned up before you take a nap." Dana stood, allowing Kiera to get comfortable in her arms before she walked back up the beach to where her husband was tossing a football to her younger brother.
When she walked up, Fox gave the football a final toss and turned to his wife and sleepy daughter. Kiera had her thumb in her mouth and was gazing at him sleepily. Fox smiled and kissed Dana before leaning down and brushing his lips over Kiera's head.
"Let's get beach baby inside. She looks like she's ready to drop." He offered to take her from Dana, but she merely tightened her arms around Kiera.
"You just get our stuff." Dana commanded, and Fox nodded. As he moved away to grab their blanket, Kiera whimpered. Fox immediately turned back and kissed her on the nose.
"Behave for Mommy, Kiera. Daddy's right here." Fox took the hand that Kiera had clasped a handful of Dana's bathing suit in and kissed her fist softly.
"Let go of Mommy's suit, Tiger. She doesn't want it to fall down."
"You might," Dana smiled suggestively at Fox.
"Hey, you said it not me." Fox defended wrapping an arm around Dana and Kiera. "I'll come back and get this stuff after we get her inside and in the bath."
"Okay." Dana agreed, walking ahead of Fox toward their hotel room.
After Kiera's bath, Dana dressed her in her pajamas and read her a story before putting her to bed on her and Fox's bed. Fox entered the room to find her filling the bathtub again.
"I'll join you if you don't put any of that girly junk in there." He whispered. Dana barely glanced at him as she grabbed the bath oil. The tub filled up with bubbles and Dana shed the robe she'd slipped on. She was still in her bathing suit, having found no reason to change because during bath time, Kiera always managed to douse her anyway.
Fox crossed over to her and wrapped his arms around her tightly. He settled his head on her shoulder and gave it a soft kiss. He slid his hands to the top clasp of her bathing suit and unfastened it. He moved the spandex off of Dana's body and lifted her into his arms. As he set her in the water, Fox ran his hands over her face.
"It's about Adrian, isn't it?" He asked, knowingly. Dana bit her lip and turned her head from him. Fox reached out and turned her face to meet his. He wiped away the few tears that had escaped her eyes. Without caring that his shirt was getting wet, he drew her torso to his as Dana wrapped her arms around his shoulders and buried her face in his neck. He ran soothing hands over her back and whispered soothing words in her ear.
"It hurts so much Fox. It feels like I have a shard of glass in my chest and everyday someone comes by and pushes it in deeper." Dana sobbed quietly into his shoulder.
"Dana. Dana. Dana." Fox whispered. "It's going to get better, Dana. I don't know when, but it will. That glass in your chest will go away. One day it will have shrunk and disappeared."
"But I don't want Adrian to have disappeared." Dana whimpered.
"Nothing says you have to forget about Adrian sweetheart. Nobody ever said that you had to forget about her. I don't want you to forget about her." Fox stroked Dana's hair. He pulled back and kissed her forehead. "I'll get out of your hair and go watch some TV or something with Kiera." He whispered.
"Kiera's asleep." Dana countered, wiping her eyes.
"Well, then I'll go entertain myself with the TV." Fox released Dana back into the warm water and began to walk away. Dana's arm shot out and grabbed his hand.
"Don't go." She whispered. "Just stay here."
"Alright." Fox grasped her hand and kissed it gently.
That night, they went out to dinner, leaving Kiera in the capable hands of her Uncle. Charlie hadn't wanted to go and volunteered to watch his niece while her parents went out and had a good time.
Kiera woke up as they were leaving and tearfully ran to Dana. Dana lifted her daughter up and held her close. Kiera cried softly in Dana's arms.
"Come on, Kiera. Mommy has to go." Dana whispered. Kiera shook her head defiantly. "Daddy and I won't be gone long. And Uncle Charlie's here. You can play with him. And tug on his ears and his hair and stuff." Dana looked down at Kiera. "Still no?" Kiera grunted. "Thought so. Okay," Dana sighed. "You guys go on to the car. I'll be out in a few minutes."
Fox shook his head. He crossed over and lifted the sleeper-clad baby away from Dana and waved her toward her parents. "I'll take care of Kiera. Come on sweetie let's walk around for a bit." Fox settled Kiera on his chest and started to pace the floor.
"Okay, Tiger. I'm gonna reason with you then I'm bringing in the big guns." Fox shifted Kiera and she reached for his nose. He smiled and disengaged her hand with a kiss. Kiera squealed and gave her father a kiss on the cheek. He drew in a breath and pulled Kiera tighter against him.
"Okay, since reason seems out of the question, here come the big guns." Fox walked over to the chair that Charlie inhabited and motioned for him to give it up. Fox sat and spread Kiera on her stomach across his lap. Fox smoothed his hand over the baby's back. Kiera gripped his other hand with both of hers and was soon snoring. Fox grinned over at Charlie.
"Works like a charm. She should be out for a few hours or more." He told his brother in law. Fox wrinkled his nose when a familiar smell permeated the air. "Okay Kiera, let's change your diaper before I pass you over to Uncle Charlie." Fox grinned at Charlie.
Later on during their trip, Melissa and Dana sat together while the guys were out playing sports of some kind, and the older females were out shopping. Dana was sprawled out on a lounger by their hotel's pool, while Melissa sat beside her in a chair, bouncing Kiera lightly on her knee.
"Hey Danes, you awake?"
"If I say no, will you leave me alone?"
Melissa chuckled, picking Kiera up and letting her stand on her knees. "No."
"So what was the point of the question?"
"My, aren't we cranky today?"
Dana ignored her comment. "What, Missy?"
Melissa pulled Kiera close, pressing noisy kisses to Kiera's cheeks and grinning when her niece giggled. Kiera jumped up and down on Melissa's thighs, surprising her aunt with her strength.
"I bet you wanna go swimming, huh, Kiera?"
"Check her diaper before you take her in," Dana murmured, peeking on eye open.
Melissa nodded, lifting Kiera up and walking toward the bathroom. On the way back, Kiera squealed and spun around in Melissa's arms, trying to get to a brightly colored pool toy.
"Like that? Hmm, okay, let Aunt Missy go get some money."
Melissa returned to her belongings, finding her sister asleep in the chaise lounge. She smiled, patting Kiera's bottom lightly, and grabbed her purse to go purchase the toy for her niece.
As she and Kiera played in the water with the new inflatable turtle float, she watched for signs that Dana was waking up. After being splashed in the face by her niece for being preoccupied, she turned her full attention back to Kiera.
The two of them played for almost a half hour before Dana slid into the pool and paddled up beside them. Kiera squealed when Dana's hand tickled her bare feet.
"Nice nap?" Melissa asked, pulling Kiera's float through the water. Kiera giggled, squirming on the float and causing Dana to burst forward, lifting her up and into her arms. Melissa's eyes narrowed as she watched Dana hold Kiera in a protective embrace.
"I wouldn't have let her fall," Melissa murmured, resting her upper body on the turtle. She waited for a response as Dana pressed soft kisses into Kiera's hair.
"I know. She can be quicker than you think sometimes, though."
Melissa nodded, not replying to avoid upsetting Dana further. After a minute she nodded again and swam away, leaving the float with Dana. She sat on the side of the pool for nearly 15 minutes, dangling her feet in the water while Dana settled Kiera on the float and slowly pulled her around. Before she knew it, Dana and Kiera were at her feet, splashing her playfully.
Dana lifted Kiera off the raft again and lifted her up to Melissa. "Give Aunt Mel a kiss to say thank you for your new toy, Kiera."
Melissa tickled Kiera's side and gave her a couple noisy kisses before handing her back to Dana. "You're welcome, sweetie."
Once they'd both climbed from the pool, Kiera settled down for a nap across Dana's lap, and while she and Melissa talked, Dana idly stroked her hair.
"Dana, I know you better than you think. Tell me what's wrong?"
Dana sighed, looking down at the sleeping toddler in her lap. "I think," she took a deep breath. "I want Fox to leave me."
"What are you talking about?" Melissa moved to sit in front of her sister. "Why would you say that? You adore Fox, you've adored him since we were kids."
"He's not happy with me anymore, Mel. He spends so much time trying to make sure I'm okay, and that I'm coping, that he's miserable and I can tell. And I can't seem to get better; no matter how hard I try. And I don't want this to be the rest of his life, I don't want it to be this way for Kiera."
"So why are you waiting for him to do it? Why don't you break it off? Fox could understand your reasons," Melissa asked, not really believing what she was hearing.
"Because I can't. I can't be that strong."
"Dana," Melissa gripped her hand quickly. "I know this is hard for you. I know you're still hurting, I can feel it. And I know that distancing yourself from that pain will be easier than facing it, but letting your husband walk out on you and take Kiera with him isn't going to help."
Dana bit her lip, lowering her eyes to her daughter's peaceful strong back.
"What can I do, Mel? Fox isn't happy, I don't want him to be this way, always trying to fix me."
"Then let me help you. Work with me instead."
"I don't know, Missy."
"Dana, you have never, ever given up on anything you wanted. Ever. Why the hell do you want to start now? You love your husband, you love your daughter, and I know you don't want to lose either of them."
Dana hiccupped, nodding and reaching out to her sister. Melissa pulled her closer, wrapping gentle arms around her sobbing sister.
Later that night, Dana and Melissa retreated to Melissa's room in the hotel suite. At first they merely talked, and once Dana had told Melissa about every day she'd had with Adrian, Melissa helped her to relax and begin to meditate.
When they emerged from Melissa's room, Dana made a beeline for her husband's arms. She ignored the questioning looks from her family and settled beside Fox on the couch, her arms wrapped around him.
"Hey," he smiled, kissing her forehead. "Get all of that girl talk out of your system?"
"Most of it," Dana smiled, tossing a look to Melissa. "What're you watching?"
"Just the news." Fox scooted down further on the couch, propping his feet up on the coffee table in front of him. He pulled her into his embrace tightly, careful not to squeeze her too tight. Dana settled her head on his shoulder, rubbing her foot up his shin.
"Do you mind me sitting with you?"
"Yes, you smell, go away," he deadpanned. She looked up at him, knowing that he was kidding, but almost ready to go anyway. He tugged her to him tighter, kissing her nose gently.
"I put Kiera to bed, but you can go check on her if you want."
Dana nodded, giving him a quick kiss and moving to their bedroom, where Kiera slept in the middle of a mound of pillows. She strode forward and bent, running a hand down Kiera's back, feeling her heart beat against her palm. She smiled, imagining an identical little girl lying beside Kiera. When she bent to kiss Kiera's smooth cheek, the image disappeared.
"Sleep well, sweetie."
The rest of the trip was uneventful, and soon they were back home and working on their studies. Since Kiera was older, Dana and Fox talked with Maggie about her going back to the states indefinitely. Dana could put Kiera in the daycare at her office and they'd arranged their schedules so that someone was always with Kiera otherwise, so Maggie was really only there as a babysitter. So Maggie moved back home but made it clear that she would be there for her daughter and her family.
After fall classes started up again Dana and Fox managed to work their school and work schedules out so that Dana went to classes in the morning while Fox stayed with Kiera and then while Fox went to classes and worked, Dana watched Kiera and then every Tuesday and Thursday Dana went to work in the evening.
Kiera was almost two when Fox graduated from Oxford with his degree in psychology. Both he and Dana decided that for his graduate work, and the rest of Dana's college career and future medical education, they would move back to the states. One of the last things they did before moving was going to the big party that one of the wealthy student groups at Oxford was hosting. Their usual babysitter cancelled at the last minute after having come down with bronchitis and it was too late to find another sitter. So Dana and Fox decided to take Kiera with them.
Dana straightened her dress and inspected her reflection in the mirror before walking into the living room to retrieve Kiera. Fox had just finished feeding their toddler and he'd set her in her playpen so he could get dressed. Dana smiled to herself when she saw that Kiera was already wearing her clothes for the evening, a small green dress that was basically a miniature of her mother's. Kiera was playing with the doll that Fox had bought her right after her birth. Adrian had one just like it, Dana remembered, it was now hidden away in the back of their closet.
"Hey there pretty girl." Dana spoke as she leaned over to Kiera's level. "You ready to go party with me and Daddy?" Dana asked, brushing Kiera's soft hair away from her face. Kiera giggled.
"Yah Mommy." Kiera laughed, making Dana smile. Kiera was almost always well behaved for her parents; almost like she knew of the struggles they went through.
"Alright then. Let's go see how Daddy's doing." Dana bent and lifted Kiera up, pulling the baby's diaper bag along with her. Dana smoothed Kiera's dress down as she carried her into her and Fox's room. Kiera clung tightly to her neck, her breath hot on Dana's cheek.
Dana set Kiera down and tickled her to make her giggle. After she got the desired response, Dana gave her daughter a kiss and handed Kiera her doll to play with while she fixed her make up.
After a few minutes, Dana wrinkled her nose. "Fox," Dana called. "Come here and check Kiera's diaper."
Fox walked up to Dana, messing with his tie. She smiled up at him and expertly tied the bow tie on the tux. She leaned up and gave him a soft kiss on the lips.
"I love you."
"I love you too Dana." Fox released Dana and turned back to Kiera. "And I love you too Tiger, now let's check your diaper. Did you make a stinky?"
"No Daddy." Kiera shook her head. Fox smiled and gave Kiera a kiss on the forehead.
"I think you did. Come here Kiera." Fox pulled Kiera up and off the bed to set her on the floor and get a diaper. As he changed her, Kiera squirmed and laughed.
Once they arrived at the party, Fox and Dana were immediately accosted by some of the girls in Fox's class. They barely knew them, but the girls knew Fox. They all swarmed to Kiera who dropped her mother's hand and huddled behind her.
"Is this your baby?" One asked Fox, ignoring Dana. She leaned over to get a closer look at Kiera.
"What a sweetie." Another exclaimed as Kiera hugged Dana's leg tighter and shoved her thumb into her mouth.
"She's so cute." Another girl uttered, again looking only at Fox.
One girl named Jenny that Dana and Fox actually knew and were friends with leaned down and smiled at Kiera. "I remember when she was a tiny little thing that you brought on campus. She's gotten so big."
Dana smiled widely at Jenny. "Thank you." She turned around and lifted Kiera up into her arms. She smoothed her hand over Kiera's back. To the others she spoke. "Yes, this is Kiera, our daughter."
Dana saw someone else step up behind the girls and cut her way through. It was Deirdre, one of Dana's close friends who had been her professor during her freshman year. She was also Kiera's godmother. Deirdre came up to Dana and gave her a hug before turning to Kiera.
"Hey sweetie. You look so pretty, and you're getting so big." Deirdre lifted Kiera from Dana's arms and held her loosely. After giving the uncomfortable toddler a kiss she handed Kiera back to Dana.
"It's all the people. Why don't you stop by our flat sometime tomorrow so Kiera won't avoid you?" Dana suggested.
"Okay. I'll see you then."
Fox smiled and leaned over to whisper something in Dana's ear. She emitted a low laugh and took his hand. She looked at the crowd that had gathered around them and nodded.
The women looked at Dana with what she saw was barely concealed jealousy. Fox released a low chuckle and slipped his arms around Dana and Kiera. He steered the two of them toward the table that was reserved for them, not even looking back at the jealous girls.
Later that evening, after dinner, the band began to play and Fox asked Dana to dance.
"But Fox, what about Kiera?" Dana asked, looking down at the sleeping toddler in her arms.
Fox shook his head and bent, taking Kiera from Dana and lifting her up. Kiera's head rested on his shoulder, and he held her loosely with one arm. The other he held out to Dana. She took his hand and allowed him to pull her to the dance floor. They stopped and Dana wrapped one arm around Fox's neck and he put his hand on the small of her back, bringing her close.
"This is nice." Dana murmured. Fox smiled and leaned down and kissed her.
"Have I told you how beautiful you are?" Fox asked, his lips touching Dana's ear.
"Not in the last twenty minutes." Dana smiled up at him. Kiera stirred against her father's chest. Dana rubbed Kiera's back.
"You're so beautiful. Whether you're holding Kiera or just standing there in a robe, or even without the robe, you're beautiful."
Dana blushed. "Fox, I'm not beautiful. Not compared to everyone here. Look around, I'm so small and ordinary."
"Shh. Dana, you're anything but ordinary." Fox answered, silencing her with a kiss as they walked off the dance floor to gather their things.
"I am too. I would need about ten arms to count the number of flaws I have." Dana protested. Fox snorted and handed Kiera to her while he grabbed the diaper bag and then took her hand.
"You're perfect to me, and for me. Okay? No more of this talk of flaws."
After about six months of living in the states, the FBI recruited Fox and Dana continued on to med school. Soon after he entered the VCS, Fox got the moniker of Spooky Mulder. Dana told him to ignore the people who mocked him when he told her of his new nickname. She told him that they were jealous, and that she loved him either way.
In 1989, Dana decided after a falling out during med school, that her career path wasn't in medicine, and so she decided not to practice, but to join the FBI with Fox, much to everyone except her husband's dismay. He told her that whatever decision she made, he would support her in it. Her father didn't see it the same way, and a rift was formed for the first time in years.
"Daniel, come on in," Dana was surprised to see her supervisor at her doorstep on her night off. She was helping Kiera with some math homework, and hadn't expected anyone. Fox was working late again because of the case his superior had him assigned to.
"I'm sorry for coming by so late Dana, but I wanted you to take a look at one of my patient's charts. I want your input on something."
"Alright. Kiera and I are working in the kitchen, follow me." Dana led Dr. Waterston into the kitchen and gestured for him to sit. "Can I get you anything to drink?"
"Diet soda would be nice."
"Sure," Dana smiled and grabbed a soda from the fridge. "Kiera, sweetie, you want anything?"
"No thank you Mommy." Kiera never lifted her head from her math book.
"Hi Kiera," Daniel smiled at Kiera. The seven-year-old ignored him. "What are you working on?"
Kiera held up her math book and still said nothing. Dana settled beside her and ran her hands over Kiera's hair.
"She's a little shy," she smiled.
"What do you have for me to look at?" Dana asked, getting straight to the point.
"I just want to get your opinion on the course of treatment for one of my patients."
"Isn't that against policy?" Dana teased softly, still playing with Kiera's hair.
"I think an exception can be made for my brightest student."
"Let me go get my glasses," Dana pressed a light kiss into Kiera's hair before moving toward her bedroom.
"Go away," Kiera's voice was so low, Daniel barely heard it.
"Go away, leave my mother alone."
"What do you mean, Kiera? I simply came by for her input."
"At 9:45 on a Wednesday night. While my father's not home. When you'll see her in a few hours anyway. Right," Kiera retorted. Daniel was taken aback by the amount of sarcasm in such a small girl's voice.
"Kiera, I assure you, that I simply wanted another opinion on a patient before it's too late to take this course of treatment."
"That's crap and we both know it. You're in love with her." Kiera smarted off.
"How old are you, Kiera? I know your mother has taught you better than to speak to an adult in that tone of voice."
"My mother has taught me better, but my father has also taught me not to take crap from jerks."
"Kiera!" Dana's voice broke in. "Kiera Ann Mulder, apologize to Dr. Waterston right now. He did nothing to deserve that tone of voice, or that disrespect from you."
"Mom," Kiera began, "he's, and I was-"
"Kiera, either you apologize or you go to bed without finishing your homework," Dana's voice was firm, leaving no room for argument. "Well?" she asked, off of Kiera's silence.
"Goodnight Mom," Kiera gathered her stuff up from the table and brushed past her mother without another word.
Dana sighed and sent Daniel an apologetic glance, "I'm sorry. She's not usually like this around strangers. I think her father and I are going to have a little chat."
"Your husband, is he a good father?" Daniel asked.
"Of course, Fox adores Kiera."
"What about you? Does Fox adore you too?"
Dana was taken aback by the question, "Of course he does. It might not seem that way right now, but that's because we're both working really hard, and trying to keep some time set up solely for Kiera, and so we don't get much time to ourselves or for each other anymore. It will get better, once Fox's boss stops coming down so hard on him, and once I'm not working all night shifts."
"I take it you're looking forward to getting off your current schedule?"
"Very much. I think we all are."
Daniel nodded, "Here, this is what I wanted you to look at." Dana settled beside him and shifted her glasses on her nose, starting to page through the file.
"I disagree with this. Giving him that high a dose of a completely experimental drug could cause devastating side effects. I would switch to a more tested, safer drug, possibly with the same dosage."
"We can't. He's allergic to every other medication we tried. We gave him one, and it stopped his heart. Until something better comes along, or he recovers a little, this is it."
"You're just looking for a mal-practice suit. He's already at the dosage level where brain damage is a risk," Dana argued. "At least back down the dosage and see how he reacts."
Daniel chuckled. "What?" Dana asked, taking off her glasses.
"Daniel we talked about this. We can't-"
"Hear me out, Dana. Your daughter, while lacking in tact, was correct in stating that I am in love with you."
"Daniel, stop. I'm married, and you are too."
"But you're not happy. I can see it in your eyes."
"I'm not happy with the fact that I spend more time away from my husband than with him because we work conflicting schedules. That in no way means I'm willing to betray the man I love, simply because my advisor is having a midlife crisis and wants to sleep with one of his students."
"Dana, this isn't a midlife crisis. Did you know that you're beautiful when you get angry?"
"Daniel, stop it! Just stop it. I love my husband, I love what we have together, and I'm not willing to jeopardize that. How do you think it will affect my daughter? What do you think I'd be teaching my beautiful little girl if I went against the vows that I made when I married her father?"
"Come on, you told me that night that you've thought about it. About what it would be like to kiss a man who's not your husband, or to make love to a man that's not him."
"Get over that night, Daniel. It was a horrible mistake. Your daughter could have caught us. Does that not bother you?"
Daniel leaned close and brought one hand up to frame her face. "Then push me away," he whispered defiantly, ignoring her latter question.
Their lips touched for a few seconds before Dana shoved him away. She wiped her lips with the back of her hand angrily.
"I'm sorry, that was out of line."
"You're damn right it was. In fact, tomorrow when I go to request a transfer to a hospital closer to home, I will be filing a complaint."
"Dana, you're not serious."
"I'm dead serious."
"Dana, I'm sorry. You're a wonderful student, and you have an excellent career ahead of you. I don't want to lose you in my hospital and my classes."
"It's too late for that. It should have been too late after that night. I want you to leave, now." Dana let him gather the file and led him to the door. She opened the door only to find her husband with his hands full, trying to slip his key into the lock.
"Fox, what are you doing home so early?" she asked, taking the satchel from his hands and throwing her arms around his neck. He hugged her back tightly, putting his mouth close to her ear.
"Patterson left about an hour ago, and I decided that I could finish whatever work I had at home with my arms around the most beautiful woman in the world."
"Good call," Dana kissed his cheek, "I'm glad you're home."
"You read my mind. Now, can I come into my own home, or are we going to conduct our nightly activities out in the hall?" Fox teased, pressing a kiss to the corner of Dana's mouth.
"Sorry," she smiled sheepishly and released him, leaning down to grab his briefcase and slip her arm around his waist. Only then did she look at Daniel. Fox followed her gaze. "I was just walking Dr. Waterston out. He wanted me to look at a patient's chart."
"Kinda late for that, isn't it?" Fox asked, looking curiously down at his wife and then at the doctor. She looked away and turned her gaze to Daniel.
"It really couldn't wait. I'm only on call for part of tomorrow. My daughter has a part in the drama club's play tomorrow night," Daniel shrugged, slipping past Dana. She looked up at Fox and smiled, before turning to Daniel.
"I'll be in late tomorrow."
"That's fine." With that, Daniel closed the door behind him and Dana rested her head on Fox's shoulder.
"What's wrong?" he asked, running a finger down her cheek. He took his satchel from her and set it on the floor. He leaned down and kissed her lips, letting them both be swept away by feelings that hadn't been allowed to surface in weeks. When they pulled away, each gasping for breath, Fox nuzzled her ear and whispered, "God I've missed this. Missed you so much. I don't think I've ever missed kissing you this much."
"I know," she whispered back. "I can't do this anymore Fox. I need you too much to have us both working these stupid hours."
"I know. I'm frustrated too, but in the end we'll see that it's for the best. Where's Kiera?"
Realization dawned on her. "Damn it."
"Nothing. Get out of these clothes."
"Wanna help me?" he leered.
"I need to talk to Kiera. You'll do fine without me," she assured.
"Make it up to me later and I'll forgive you," he smiled and leaned down to kiss her lips gently.
"I'll think about it." Dana kissed him gently again before turning away and walking toward Kiera's room. "Kiera, sweetheart, it's mom." Dana knocked lightly.
"Go away," Kiera's voice was muffled, but Dana heard the tears.
"Kiera, I'm sorry I yelled at you. You were right."
"I want Daddy. Make him come home."
"Daddy's home and he's changing right now. Please talk to me."
"No. I want my daddy."
Dana drew in a soft breath, "Okay. Daddy will be in soon." She turned and quickly made her way to her bedroom and found her way into Fox's arms. Snuggling against his bare chest, she took in a few haltering breaths.
"Hey, what's wrong?" Fox asked, dropping his chin onto her head.
"Fox, you know I love you, and would never do anything to hurt what we have, don't you?"
"Of course I do," Fox dropped a kiss into her hair, "but what does that have to do with Kiera being in her room?" he lifted Dana's chin, "does it have something to do with Waterston being here?"
She bit her lip and he bent, looking into her surprisingly wet eyes. "Hey, now I'm really confused. Don't cry."
"I'm so sorry Fox. Daniel came over with the chart for me to look at. When I went to get my glasses, Kiera started to accuse him of being here with intentions of seducing me or something. I sent her to bed because she was so rude, but then Daniel confessed that Kiera was right, and he was in love with me. He wouldn't listen when I told him that I'm happy where I am. He kissed me, Fox. I pushed away
immediately, and told him I was going to complain to the chief of hospital staff, and try to transfer to another hospital."
"So what's the problem?" he asked. Dana looked at him in disbelief. "You think I'm angry with you because your boss is scum? I'm not mad, Dana. You didn't initiate the kiss; you didn't even want to kiss him. How could I be angry?"
Dana bit her lip, wondering if she should come clean about the night a month and a half ago.
"I feel like the world's worst mother, Fox."
Mulder shook his head and dropped a kiss on her lips. "In your place, I probably would have done the same. I think Kiera's just throwing a fit now."
"She won't talk to me. She wants you."
"Let me go reason with her," Fox kissed her quietly. "In the meantime, can I beg you to make me something to eat? I had to skip lunch, thanks to Patterson."
"Okay. What are you craving?"
"Besides you?" he asked, kissing her neck. "Sandwich. The way I like it."
"As if I could forget," Dana stood on tiptoes and kissed his cheek. "I love you."
"I love you too, and if you don't let me finish getting dressed, we'll be evening the score here. You might have to lose that top, and maybe..." he trailed off, smiling as she giggled slightly.
"That we'll work out later."
"Yeah, you've been a really good boy, and deserve a reward."
"I know I do. It's been far too long." Mulder nuzzled her cheek. He released her, slipping his t-shirt over his head in the process. Stealing a slow kiss, he turned into the hall and toward Kiera's room.
"Tiger, it's me. Can we talk?" Mulder settled beside Kiera on her bed. His hand reached out to stroke her hair and she rolled over to face him.
"Daddy," Kiera sniffed. Mulder wiped his thumb over her cheeks, gently clearing her tears.
"I hear you gave Dr. Waterston the what-for tonight," he started gently. Kiera nodded. "Wanna tell me why?"
He shifted so that he was resting against her headboard. Kiera nestled into his arms and her hand found his. He smiled down at his young daughter.
"I'm scared, Daddy."
"What are you scared of, Kiera?"
Kiera shook her head.
"You gotta tell me, Tiger," he coaxed.
"He loves Mommy. He looked at her the same way you do. An' all my friends said that before their parents split, their dads weren't around as much, and their moms spent a lot of time with other guys."
"And you're afraid that Mommy and I are going to get divorced?" he asked. Kiera nodded into his neck. "Oh, Kiera, your mother and I aren't going to get a divorce. I know we're both working a lot, but when we do get a chance to be with each other, we're so happy. We love each other too much, and we love you too much to do that to you. Honey do you know what fidelity means?"
"I think so,"
"Tell me what it means," he requested. Kiera giggled and shook her head. "In reference to being married, it means faithfulness, and commitment to the person you're with. And that means that you trust and love them completely. That's why even though I know you're scared, you have nothing to be worried about, because when we got married, Mommy and I pledged complete fidelity to each other. Okay?" he asked, hoping to reassure his daughter. Kiera nodded and smiled hesitantly up at him.
"Just remember that Waterston may love your mom, but she loves someone else. Me," he grinned and tickled Kiera. "So, feeling better? Ready to go talk to Mommy?"
"She's mad at me."
"No, she's not mad sweetheart. If she even was, she's not anymore. In fact, she thought you were mad at her. Come on," Mulder sat up, pulling Kiera along with him into the kitchen. Kiera held out her arms to Dana, who eagerly accepted her daughter's embrace.
"I'm sorry I yelled at you baby girl. You were right about Daniel and I should have listened to you. I'm sorry. Can you forgive me?"
Kiera nodded and laid her head on Dana's shoulder. Dana smiled over at Mulder, who had eagerly devoured his sandwich.
That night, after they made sure Kiera was asleep; the two of them took the time to reaffirm their physical love. They went into work late the next morning, after spending most of the night taking their time for each other.
When Dana arrived at work, two official looking men were waiting for her.
"Yes, can I help you?"
"Dr. Mulder, we'd like to discuss an excellent career opportunity with you."
"Please, follow me to my desk."
Twenty minutes later, Dana sat, stunned.
"You want me to join the FBI?"
"We think you'd be an excellent addition to the bureau based on your background in the fields of science and medicine," One of her recruiters answered.
"Can I have a few days to talk this over with my family?"
"Yes. We need your answer within a week, though."
"Alright. Thank you, very much," she offered her hand to each of the men.
"Thank you, Doctor Mulder."
"Actually, it's Doctor Scully. I kept my maiden name."
"Of course," they answered, slightly flustered by her response.
"I'll be in touch."
Dana was making her rounds when she felt two arms encircle her waist and warm lips press against her neck. She smiled and settled her hands on his, lacing their fingers together. They walked as one unit until he stumbled and they nearly fell to the floor, laughing all the way.
"What are you doing here?"
"I missed you too much."
"Good, my master plan worked."
"Mmm, you had me hooked from the moment met you."
"Liar," she giggled. "Why are you really here?"
"I've got some questions to ask a patient on this hall."
"All by yourself? Don't you FBI guys usually have a partner with you?"
"What would you say if I told you I ditched him to come and see my wife?"
Dana shook her head. "Where are you heading?"
"That's where I'm heading, I'll take you."
"Anytime babe," Mulder leered.
Mulder allowed Dana to check up on her patient before starting with his questions. Dana watched him work for a few moments before remembering that she had other work to do.
"I've got to finish up here, and then I'm going back downstairs. I think I'll be home to pick Kiera up, but I'm not sure."
"If you can't, call me and I'll swing by and get her. Patterson can shove it if he doesn't like it."
"Mm, thanks," Dana tugged on his tie to bring him to her level. She kissed him quickly. "Later."
"See you, love," Mulder gave her hand an affectionate squeeze before turning back to his witness. "You're lucky; you've got the best doc. Her specialties are forensic pathology, medicine, and physics," he smiled, trying to put the young woman at ease.
"You looked like you know her pretty well," the girl remarked.
Mulder grinned. "Married, 7 years. Childhood sweethearts. Kiera's our daughter."
"She's nice. She makes sure I don't freak out any time they come to take blood."
"Can you tell me why you'd freak out when they take blood?" Mulder asked, settling beside her.
Sometime later Mulder walked through the halls of the hospital, looking for his wife. It dawned on him that she had said she'd be back downstairs, and he made his way down to the morgue where she spent most of her residency. He neared her unofficial "office" and stopped, not wanting to intrude on a conversation she was having.
"Daniel, I thought I'd made myself clear last night. Since you refused to go, I am. I'm leaving and there's nothing you can do to stop me. I don't want to practice anymore."
"But the FBI? Dana, are you out of your mind?!"
Mulder's brow furrowed. 'FBI?'
"They want me to teach at the academy. It's not fieldwork, and I think it'll be good for me. Why should I have to justify myself to you, Daniel? I'm a grown woman, and you're not my father. My decision is final."
"What does your husband think about this?"
"What do I think about what?" Mulder asked, taking that as his cue to enter. Dana barely glanced in his direction.
"I've been offered a position with the FBI, teaching at Quantico. They're willing to allow me to begin immediately, and train at the same time."
"Sounds great. Are you going to accept it?" Mulder stepped forward and stood next to her, brushing a loose strand of hair behind her ear.
"I want to. It sounds like a wonderful opportunity."
"Then take it. Besides, Quantico is where the BSU is located. You'll be close to me most days."
"I can't believe you're actually encouraging her to piss away her medical career!" Daniel raged.
"I'm encouraging my wife to do what makes her happy," Mulder shot back, encircling Dana's shoulders with his arm. "And after the bullshit you pulled last night, you should feel fortunate that she hasn't decided to bring you up on sexual harassment charges. I think you should just leave."
Daniel did, shooting Dana an unreadable glance as he did so. Dana turned away from his accusing gaze.
"Thank you, Fox," Dana answered smiling up at him. "Now to break the news to my parents," Dana mumbled, less thrilled than she had been.
Because of his fear that the wrong people would find out that they were married, Fox and Dana decided to hide their marriage records. Another thing they decided to do was stop wearing their wedding rings. They also bought a second apartment in Maryland for Dana to put on her official FBI file, but for the time, they considered Fox's apartment home.
Alexandria, Virginia May
Fox Mulder sat on the couch watching an old congress hearing. Dana and Kiera had long since gone to bed. He turned his gaze from the TV to the file sitting next to him, and back up to the TV. He was startled by a floorboard creaking. He turned to see his seven-year-old daughter standing in the hallway. Kiera's hair was mussed and her nightgown rumpled. In her arms she clutched her treasured doll.
"Come here tiger." Mulder beckoned his daughter close. She padded over to him, her bare feet slapping the hardwood floor softly. She stood in front of him and lifted her arms for him to pull her into his lap. She rested her head on his chest.
"Whatcha doing up, Tiger?" Mulder asked.
"Couldn't sleep. Mommy's tired, so I didn't wanna wake her. Why are you up?"
"I'm working. That's what this is." Mulder pointed toward the TV.
"Oh." Kiera was quiet. Mulder smiled into her hair and shifted on the leather couch.
"Why can't you sleep? Is something wrong?"
"Not really. Daddy, they're having an end of the year parent's luncheon at school."
"When?" He asked, shifting Kiera on his lap.
"Next week. Can you and mommy come?"
"It depends. What time?"
"Here, I have a paper in my book bag." Kiera scrambled out of his lap and over to her bag. She returned with a green sheet of paper and sat back down. He read over the sheet and gave Kiera a kiss on the forehead before he opened his mouth to speak.
"Well, it looks like someone is having a party and I wasn't invited." Dana interrupted.
Fox and Kiera turned to see Dana leaning against the wall, a slight smile on her sleepy face. She shifted her weight and strode over to them.
"What's going on? Why's everyone awake? Especially those who have school tomorrow." She teased, reaching out to tickle Kiera. Kiera giggled and reached out to hug her mother.
"Daddy's working, and I couldn't sleep."
"Okay." Dana sighed, knowing that this wasn't the first time Fox and Kiera had had sleepless nights. Mulder's solution was to work and Kiera's was to crawl up in her father's lap to go to sleep.
"Kiera was just telling me about this parent luncheon thing that's going on next week," Mulder filled her in, giving her the paper. Dana took it and read it.
"I'm pretty sure I can be there. I don't have any classes scheduled for that day; it's my "real work" day."
Kiera wrinkled her nose, thinking about her mother performing autopsies. Mulder chuckled, "I'm with you kid."
Dana huffed good-naturedly, and smacked her husband's arm. "Thanks."
"Daddy?" Kiera looked up at him, "what about you?"
"Sure Tiger, I'll be there."
"Yes!" Kiera laughed. Dana smoothed down her daughter's strawberry blond hair in the way that never failed to put her to sleep.
"We'll work something out."
Kiera relaxed against Fox and her eyes drifted shut. Dana continued to stroke Kiera's hair until she was sure she slept. Dana glanced at the TV.
"How are the new files you found looking?" Dana snuggled up against Fox's side.
Fox had been working with the VCS lately, having been assigned a new partner. A woman named Diana Fowley. They had worked together on several cases, but now they were officially assigned as partners. From what he said, Diana seemed like another Phoebe Green, and that didn't sit well with Dana. Phoebe Green was the type to pursue Fox without regard for the fact that he wasn't interested. In fact, Diana began grating on Fox's nerves so much, that he began telling everyone to call him Mulder, instead of his given name. Dana respected his wishes, but sometimes she slipped up and called him by the name that she'd called him for seventeen years. Mulder said that as much as he despised his name, he couldn't help but love it when Dana said it.
"They're really, really interesting. When I can, I'm going to put in for a transfer into the division. I actually went to see the agent who founded the section today. I forgot to take off my ring," he chuckled offering her his hand.
"And you smoked," Dana accused.
"You know how I feel about cigarettes; I've read too many studies that say that each one takes off five years of your life."
"I know. However, I do seem to remember a time not too long ago when I caught you with a cigarette in your hands," Mulder retorted.
"I know," Dana closed her eyes. "I'm sorry. That was hypocritical of me. Just...don't make a habit of it, please? I'd hate to stop kissing you because your mouth resembles an ashtray."
He grinned. "I got it."
Dana Scully crept outside and settled on the front porch swing. She tried to be as quiet as possible, even with lighting the cigarette; she was sure the entire neighborhood could hear her heart pounding. She raised her hand to her lips, intent on not burning herself. She was about to take a slow drag when her boyfriend stepped from the house. She quickly tried to hide the cigarette from his view.
"Fox, what are you doing up?" she whispered. He came to sit next to her on the swing.
"I felt you get out of bed," he kissed her neck, and buried his face in her hair. "Why do you have that?"
Dana felt her face burn, "What do people do with cigarettes Fox? They smoke them. That's what I'm gonna do."
"Yep," Dana whispered with conviction.
"Okay," Fox shrugged. Dana pressed the cigarette to her lips and inhaled. She immediately began coughing violently. Fox grabbed the cigarette from her fingers and stabbed it out before pulling her shuddering body to his chest.
"Why the hell did you let me do that?" she rasped.
"You can't learn from a mistake you didn't make," Fox replied. "Come on, we'll get you some water and you can brush your teeth and we'll go to bed."
"I love you."
"Yeah, yeah," he grinned, kissing her forehead.
Gentle lips suckling the spot behind her ear brought her back to the present. Dana smiled and pulled away from him.
"What's the division called again?" Dana questioned, changing the subject.
"The X-Files. Strangely enough, I found my father's name in one of the files," Fox trailed off, "You know, no more work for tonight."
Dana reached up and pulled his head down to her. She kissed his temple and nuzzled her nose into his slightly shaggy hair.
"As long as you're happy sweetheart, that's all that matters," she murmured.
"I am, Dana, I am."
"Good, now are you ready to go to bed?"
"I guess so," he drawled, but stood and prepared to carry Kiera to bed.
Two weeks later, the Parent Luncheon was looming over them. Both Mulder and Dana arranged to take half days off from work. That day they had their first real test of how well they could work together, Dana was called in to do the autopsy for one of the victims of the case Fox was working on.
"And Mulder, the pathologist conducting the autopsy is kinda new, and she's young. So don't give her too hard of a time, okay?" Jerry Lamana laughed.
"What's her name?" Mulder asked, even though he already knew the answer.
"Dana Scully. She's a real knockout, but she's got a moniker, kinda like yours. They're starting to call her the Ice Queen. Evidently, she's turned down a few too many offers."
Mulder shrugged, not liking the fact that his wife was being given that little respect. "She's probably with someone," he rationalized.
"I heard she was available."
"Oh," Mulder was silent for a moment. "Well maybe I'll get lucky then," he laughed along with Jerry. "See ya later."
"Yeah buddy," Jerry walked away.
Mulder continued along the halls of Quantico toward his wife's office. Dana's assistant led him to the main door. She knocked quietly. He heard Dana call for them to come in. He pushed open the door.
"Agent Scully," he prompted, "I'm Agent Mulder."
Dana's eyes lit up, but she kept the rest of her face indifferent. "Oh, yes. You're here to observe the autopsy." She grasped his hand warmly.
"That I am," he grinned.
"Thank you for showing Agent Mulder in, Carri. I can handle everything from here," Carri shut the door and Dana hastened to lock it behind her.
"What are you hoping to find on this autopsy, Agent Mulder?" Dana asked, still continuing their act.
"I'm actually not sure. I'm looking for anything significant you can tell me."
"I'm sure I can do that. Just let me get changed. I'm meeting someone for lunch and don't want to get entrails and whatnot on my clothes," Dana shot a grin over her shoulder. Fox grimaced and followed her.
"Who are you meeting?"
"Don't tell anyone, but I'm meeting my husband and my daughter for lunch at my daughter's school." Dana pulled off her top and located a scrub top. Next came her pants. Once she was properly attired in scrubs, Dana sat down on a bench to tie her sneakers. Mulder plopped down beside her.
"So you're married?" Mulder feigned surprise. "I was under the impression that you were available."
"Disappointed?" she asked.
"A little," he sighed melodramatically. Dana rolled her eyes and stood, pulling on his arm.
"Come on, in 2 1/2 hours you can act like you've been sleeping with me for years."
They finished at the office and walked out into the parking lot. For appearances sake, Mulder made a show of asking Dana if she wanted to go to lunch and discuss her findings. Just as they reached Mulder's car they were stopped by a voice.
"Well, well. If it isn't Spooky and the Ice Queen. Going somewhere?"
Dana whirled around. "Lunch. Agent Mulder is taking me to lunch. Can I help you with something?"
"Nope, I've seen everything I needed to see."
Mulder sighed. "Asshole," he muttered. Dana touched his arm and he sighed again, opening the door for her. Gripping the keys tighter than he would have liked, he rounded over to the driver's side.
"Where do they get off?" Dana groused. "Where the hell do they get off?!"
"Jealousy. They're jealous Dana. That's all there is to it. Don't let their immaturity get to you. We're together, we're about to spend the afternoon with Kiera, and not going to let them spoil this."
"I know," Dana reached over and stroked his cheek. "You just don't deserve a name like Spooky."
"And you don't deserve to be the 'Ice Queen.'"
"Let's just forget about it."
Dana signed the two of them in at the front desk. As they wandered out of the office, they saw Kiera's class leaving their room. Kiera spotted them and began to wave excitedly. She ignored her teacher's admonishment and ran over to Scully. Scully hugged her daughter tightly, glad that Kiera hadn't developed the mentality that most kids did about their parents.
"How's your day been?"
"Boring," Kiera droned. Kiera's regular classes weren't as challenging as they would have liked, and so Kiera was on the waiting list for gifted classes. Since Dana had been in school, they had pretty much quit moving students up into other grades. They found that children responded better to being in a grade with others their own ages.
"I'm sorry. Just a month or so more, though," Dana assured, leading Kiera back to her class.
"Mrs. Arnold. I'm Kiera's father, Fox Mulder. You've met my wife, Dana."
"Yes, hello. It's nice to see you. Well, please find a place in line with the others, and we'll be ready to leave for lunch."
Kiera grabbed one of her father's hands and led both her parents to stand with her friends.
"Okay, who's going for fries?" Kiera asked, eyeing her three friends. They looked back at her innocently.
"I got them yesterday," Mila, Kiera's best friend replied.
"No you didn't!" Cora argued.
"I did too!"
"Neither of you did, I did," Syeira announced.
"Yeah. And I paid for them. So it's someone else's turn to contribute to the fry fund," Kiera crossed her arms over her chest. Mulder and Dana shared a confused look.
"Fine, fine," Mila reached into her pocket and dumped out a dollar bill. "There. Cora, you go."
"Arg. Fiiiiiinnnneee," Cora drawled, snatching the money and stalking off.
Kiera giggled. Mila looked over at her best friend's parents.
"We go through this every day," she explained, giggling.
They nodded, "Gotcha. Now I know where all my dollar bills go," Mulder grinned. Dana shook her head; Fox really was simply a big kid.
Dana took another tasteless bite of her sandwich. It had been this way for weeks. What food she was able to ingest was generally bland. Her stomach rose in protest and she stiffened.
"Mom, are you okay?" Kiera asked, glancing over at her mom. Dana smiled slightly.
"I'm fine; I just...excuse me for a few minutes."
"Sure Mrs. Mulder," Mila answered. Dana stood from her seat in between her daughter and her husband. Patting Kiera's shoulder, she walked toward the bathroom. Both Mulder and Kiera followed her with their eyes.
Five minutes later, Dana still hadn't returned and Mulder excused himself to go check on her. Syeira had just launched into a story about her guitar lessons the day before. Mulder wandered out into the hall to find Dana bent over a water fountain.
"So that's where you went. I was starting to get worried that you'd fallen in," he spoke, touching her back. "Is everything okay?"
"No, everything is not okay," she retorted forcefully. Taking a deep breath she wiped her mouth.
"Why, what's wrong?" he asked quickly. His hands fell to her hips.
Dana dropped her eyes. "I'm pregnant, Fox. I've wanted to tell you for weeks, but there's not been time."
"Oh Dana," Mulder pulled her close, resting his cheek on her head. "That's wonderful. That's amazing. You're sure?"
"The test I took a month ago said yes. I wasn't sure about being able to come today, because I have a doctor's appointment at 3:30. She's going to confirm the pregnancy."
"Okay. Honey, I'm not mad. I'm ecstatic. I know we've both wanted to have more children for years. What's wrong?"
"It's just, what if the same thing that happened to Adrian, happens again?" Dana admitted. "I can't lose another child, Fox."
"I know," Mulder answered, running a hand down her back. "But you yourself know that the chances of what happened to Adrian happening again are remote at best. This baby will be okay. I'll make sure of that," he promised, pulling away and putting a gentle palm on her belly.
"You promise?" Dana asked her voice uncertain. He nodded, rubbing his thumb down her abdomen.
"I promise you, Dana," he whispered, bending to give her a soft kiss. "Come on, Kiera's waiting for us. And I wanna hear more about Cora's grounding," he smiled softly.
She smiled back, tentatively. "I swear, sometimes you're a child yourself."
That evening, Mulder approached Kiera about her feelings on a younger sibling while Dana was at her doctor's appointment.
"Hypothetically speaking, Kiera, if mom was to get pregnant, how would you feel about a younger sibling?" Mulder lifted Kiera onto his lap.
"I don't know, Daddy. I mean, I guess it would be okay. I don't want you to do what most people's parents do, and promise not to change the amount of time you'll spend with me because everyone knows that a baby takes up a ton of time, and before you know it, poof! Nobody cares about the other kid anymore."
Mulder chuckled. "Tiger, you've already got a bigger grasp of this than I did. I can't promise that we won't be tired, and stressed. But no matter how much time we spend with you, your mom and I will always love you. Even when you're throwing a temper tantrum."
"So mom's pregnant?" she asked.
"My hypothetical question was kinda transparent, huh?"
"We think she is. She's at the doctor right now."
"Okay," Kiera was silent. Mulder gave her a slight squeeze.
They sat in silence until they heard Dana's key turn in the lock. Both of them turned as she walked into the living room. Mulder held out a hand and beckoned her over.
"So what's the verdict?" he asked, curling an arm over her shoulder.
"I was right, I'm almost 3 months pregnant," Dana answered on a shaky breath. Mulder kissed her forehead and allowed Kiera to hug her mother.
Thankfully, she had been able to take ample time off from work once she'd started to show. If anyone wondered about her condition in regards to her marital status, they didn't let it be known to her. No one asked, and until the time came to take maternity vacation, Dana didn't offer any information.
As the pregnancy progressed, Dana tried to share as much of it as she could with Kiera. When she was six months along, Dana and Kiera painted the nursery in her apartment in Georgetown, as well as fixed up half of Kiera's room for the baby at Mulder's apartment. Kiera had her own room in Georgetown, and so she didn't complain too much about sharing.
Fox Mulder let himself into the apartment that was being leased by his wife. It was for her FBI personnel file, but slowly they were starting to spend more and more time there. After all, it was farther from work, and they decided it would be okay to be seen together there.
"Dana? Kiera?" he called, not wanting his thoughts to wander too much. On the phone she'd said to come here, instead of going straight home.
"In here, Daddy!" he heard Kiera call. He followed her voice down the hall and into what they'd determined would be the baby's room at this apartment. Standing in the doorway, he had to bite back a laugh.
It wouldn't have been an exaggeration to say that there was probably more paint on his eight-year-old, and his petite, yet very-pregnant wife than there was on the walls. Dana's face was practically covered in a light teal color, as was Kiera's.
"What happened here? Did the bucket of paint fall on you two?" he grinned.
"Something like that, come here," Dana beckoned him in. He approached warily.
"That's not going to get all over my suit is it?" he asked cautiously.
"Nope. It's dry. This happened about 5 hours ago," Dana answered; she had stayed home from work with Kiera since it was a teacher's workday.
"Okay," Mulder answered, slipping into the room and giving his daughter a hug before wrapping tender arms around Dana's swollen waist. "You look so cute in those overalls," he grinned, kissing her paint-splattered lips.
"What do you think?" Kiera asked, gesturing to the room. Mulder broke away from Dana and glanced.
"It looks great. The half on, half off decor is amazing," he laughed. "When are you going to paint the rest of the room? Instead of yourselves, that is," he amended, reaching out to ruffle Kiera's hair. She stuck her tongue out at him playfully. "Really, it looks great. Want me to help at all?"
"Sure. We need the top done. I can't reach, and like you said, Mom's not allowed on the ladder."
"Okay, let me get changed," he answered, reaching for Dana's hand and pulling her with him into the master bedroom.
On the last week of November, Mulder and Dana's second daughter was born. Her name was finally decided on by Kiera, Amara Elise. Elise was Melissa, Dana's sister's, middle name. Kiera simply adored her Aunt.
When Amara was nine months old, almost immediately after Kiera's 9th birthday the family went to a mini-Scully family reunion. Dana hadn't wanted to attend, considering the distance that had formed between her and her family since she'd joined the bureau. Finally, Fox and Kiera managed to convince her, mainly because Kiera wanted to see Melissa before she left for the west coast on a road trip.
Bill Scully's residence
Dana relaxed a bit more into her husband's embrace. Kiera was off bonding with Melissa, and Amara had just been put down for a nap in the guest room with Maggie watching her. From the moment they'd arrived, they'd seen very little of their youngest daughter.
"Whatcha thinking?" Mulder asked gently, kissing her neck.
"I'm thinking about, things. I'm glad you guys convinced me to come."
"I'm glad we came too. It's been awhile since we've seen everyone. I know you wish your Dad could be here though."
"I do, but he's taking Bill and Charlie's places at the meeting. It was a good trade." Dana sighed, "He was so upset that I didn't practice. I think I wanted to know if he could ever get over it."
"Are you disappointed that you didn't practice? Cause you were such a good doctor when we were growing up."
"No. I love working where I do. I love being able to work with you. Missy told me that I didn't know who I was going to meet, or who I would help, and she was right."
"And when did she get that job at Hallmark?"
Dana giggled, "I told her that too."
"When did this happen?"
"Christmas before I graduated from the Academy. You were asleep upstairs at Mom and Dad's."
"I was about to ask where I was."
They were silent, watching the chaos of distant relatives run around.
"Diana accepted an assignment overseas. I'm partnerless for now."
"I'm sorry," she squeezed his hand. "I know you two worked well together." She tried not to let her relief that Diana was gone show, "What about the X-Files?"
"I was told that they would still keep them open, and let me work alone for a few months."
"That's good news. I know those files have information that might help you find out what happened to Samantha."
He squeezed her tighter at the mention of his sister. It had been years since they'd talked about her. "I think they said I'd be getting another partner after the New Year."
Dana reached back and touched his cheek. "No more work, Mulder. Not this weekend."
"Okay," he murmured, lowering his chin to her shoulder.
Sure enough, three months after the New Year, Mulder got word that his new partner had been spoken with. Dana also received word that she was being assigned to the field.
"Are you familiar with an agent named Fox Mulder?"
Dana looked to the man who'd posed the question. He was seated beside Section Chief Blevins.
"Yes, I am." She answered smugly.
'Well sir, he's been my best friend for 19 years, and in 8 days, we'll have been married for 10 of those years, and he's the father of my children. Gee, I don't know.' Dana's inner voice muttered.
"By reputation. He's an Oxford educated psychologist, who wrote a monograph on serial killers and the occult that helped to catch Monty Props in 1988. Generally thought of as the best analyst in the violent crimes section. He had a nickname at the academy... Spooky Mulder," she tried to act like this fact didn't bother her.
She was asked about her husband's latest assignment, and she replied with what he'd told her about them. They were partnering her with Fox, so that she could use her science to debunk his work.
Dana left the elevator, grimacing slightly as she stepped into what was effectively the basement. They really had him hidden away down here. She sighed as she made her way to her husband's office and rapped gently with her knuckles.
"Sorry, nobody down here but the FBI's most unwanted." She heard him call. Sighing almost painfully, Dana opened the door. 'Was that what he thought of himself? As a nuisance? She'd just have to convince him otherwise.'
"Agent Mulder. I'm Dana Scully, I've been assigned to work with you," she held out her hand to him, internally greeting him the way she wanted to. He pumped her hand up and down loosely.
"Oh, isn't it nice to be suddenly so highly regarded? So, who did you tick off to get stuck with this detail, Scully?" he stressed her maiden name jokingly.
"Actually, I'm looking forward to working with you. I've heard a lot about you," Dana answered, playing along. She inched closer to him and had to refrain from tousling the stubborn lock of hair that always seemed to be in his eyes.
They continued to trade barbs back and forth. Mulder mentioned her senior thesis, stressing of course that he'd read and enjoyed it. That made sense; he'd been the one to proofread the paper for her. They began to discuss the case, briefly, and afterward, Mulder pulled Dana into the back of the office.
His lips sought hers as he combed his fingers through her soft hair. When he released his hold on her mouth, he kissed her forehead. "Meet me at the cafˇ down the corner from here in a half hour, okay?"
"Okay. You're buying me lunch, agent Mulder," she giggled slightly at his expression. "I'll see you in a few minutes," she whispered, kissing him again.
"Scully, earth to Scully?"
It took me a moment to focus on where I was, not where I had been. Mulder had settled me on our bed. My eyes swept across his face.
"Hey," I smiled, reaching for him. He came willingly into my arms, kissing me gently.
"Where'd you go just now? I've been calling you for ten minutes. I thought my manly charm had driven you into a coma."
"I was thinking about us. How far we've come. How much I love you."
"Why such deep thoughts?"
"I don't know. I wish Daddy and Missy were here to see the girls. Missy would be tickled pink about Kiera. You remember that she was always the wilder of the two of us."
"I don't know, you and I've done some pretty wild things."
I laughed, "I'm not talking sexually, Fox, just generally. Melissa was always the one to open herself up to people, to make friends easily."
"I don't remember you being shy when you and I met," Mulder reminded. I smiled, reaching for my nightclothes. "I'm sure Melissa's having a ball up there with your dad as he gripes about how his granddaughter had hair that was very close to being blue."
I looked down at Mulder and he squeezed my hand. "I'll be back," I whispered softly.
I changed as quickly as I could into my pajamas and made my way through the chilly air of my bedroom. Curling up in Mulder's arms, I shivered slightly.
"Damn it Mulder, it's freezing in here," I mumbled. "What's the thermostat on?"
"I don't know. Release your icy grip on me, and I'll check," he grinned.
"My icy grip?" I laughed, stretching up to kiss him. "Then why don't you warm me up?"
"Mmm, I can do that," Mulder grinned, his fingers finding the buttons on my top. "But these flannel pj's have got to go," he laughed.
We kissed again and I knew I was in for a very long, yet very warm, night.
The next morning I woke, stretching languidly. Much to my surprise, Mulder wasn't there. I sat up, allowing the covers to pool around my waist.
Wiping the sleep from my eyes, I checked the clock. It was ten am. He must have gotten up and handled breakfast for the kids.
"Morning sleepyhead. Sleep well?" Mulder's voice startled me. I made a grab for the sheet to cover my nudity, but he was there in an instant.
"It's okay. It's just me. Amara and Emily went with Kiera on her last minute 'date' apparel spree."
"Ahh. I was wondering how they let me get away with sleeping this late. Speaking of which, why did you let me sleep this late?" I asked, stroking his hair back away from his forehead. Thank god Mulder's hair grew fast to cover the scar he'd received from the brain surgery he was subjected to back in September.
"You were upset last night. I just wanted to give you time to rest, reconnect with yourself."
"I'm sorry, I didn't realize I was so melancholy last night. I didn't upset you, did I?"
"No, Scully. I know how you can get," he teased. "Come on, up, up!" he ordered, tugging on my arms.
"You want me to get up? You'll have to carry me."
"Not naked I'm not. If you wanna stay naked, you're staying in bed."
"Then you're joining me," I grinned, pulling him on top of me.
We were still 'basking in the afterglow' when the door from the garage slammed. We slid from bed and dressed quickly, wanting to get downstairs to see what the commotion was all about.
"What's going on?!" Mulder asked, his voice straining over Kiera and Amara's agitated shouts.
I found Emily sitting on the couch her small hands clapped over her ears and her eyes clamped shut. I knelt in front of her, touching her knee.
"Emily, it's mommy, look at me," I spoke softly. She opened her eyes. "What happened sweetheart?" I asked.
Emily shook her head and I looked over at Mulder, who'd gotten our older children to lower their voices. My gaze returned to Emily and she immediately burst into tears. Gathering her up, and shooting the others my patented 'mom' look, I brushed away Emily's hair and tried to calm her.
"What happened?" I asked again, rocking Emily side to side. When she didn't answer, I focused on simply soothing her. Once she was calm, I carried her upstairs and settled her in front of her game system. Telling her I'd be back, I made my way back downstairs and confronted my other two daughters.
"Now do you mind telling me what the hell is going on? What is Emily so upset about?"
"I, we," Amara stuttered.
"Out with it," I ordered. "You too Kiera."
"We were in an accident," Kiera spit out. "The car's pretty banged up, and I sorta lost my temper."
"You were in an accident?! What the hell happened?" Mulder demanded. I touched his arm.
"Were any of you hurt? How bad is the car?" I asked, reaching out to Kiera. It was Amara who came into my arms instead. "We promise to stand down, but you have to tell us everything. Starting with the beginning."
Mulder nodded, guiding the three of us over to the couch.
Kiera wrung her hands nervously. Reaching out, I tucked away a few stray hairs that had escaped out of her ponytail.
"I fucked up." She answered quietly. "No room for argument, I fucked up."
Ignoring her gratuitous use of the f-word, I rubbed her shoulder. "Nobody thinks you screwed up, Kiera. We just need to know what happened. If anyone was hurt, I need to examine them to make sure that they don't need to go to the hospital. Did the airbag go off?"
Kiera shook her head in the negative. "I wasn't paying as much attention as I should have been, and I almost missed the turn off to the freeway, but I swung around and took the curve too sharply, climbed the curb, probably busted the suspension and I know I fucked over a few of the tires, and I smacked the shit out of an unsuspecting shopping cart that some homeless person had left."
"That's all?" I asked, relieved that it was nothing too serious. Amara snorted from beside me, and Kiera shot her a venomous glare.
"No, there's more. This just gets fucking better and better," Kiera laughed humorlessly. I reached out to soothe her but she jerked away.
"What else?" Mulder asked, crossing his arms. Our eyes met and I saw what I know was reflected in my own eyes. Relief.
"As we were getting out of that mess, someone rear-ended slash hit us from the side. That pushed us into the light pole and they took off. It caught the front passenger side, cause I swerved to avoid killing us all. I called the cops, and they came out to help. They caught the guy and got his information, it's in my purse. But they didn't give me a ticket," Kiera chuckled humorlessly. "I'm, I'm sorry mom. If I hadn't fucked up, the car wouldn't be ruined. I know I should have called immediately after the first thing happened, but I thought I could handle it. What a fucking joke."
I covered her hand with mine, "Were you hurt, Kiera?" I asked, nodding to Mulder, who went out to inspect the damage.
"I hit my knee on the steering wheel. I haven't had a chance to look at it yet."
"I'll check it out as soon as we're done," I promised. "Amara, were you or Emily hurt?"
Amara shook her head. "Em was okay. I smacked my head, but it's no biggie."
"I'll be the judge of that," I answered. I threaded my fingers through her hair, and checked for blood. All I found was a rather nasty bump. "I think you're okay, but get some Tylenol, and maybe some ice. Just don't nap, because I need to make sure you don't have a concussion. Go on now. I need to talk to Kiera in private."
Once Amara had left the room, I turned back to Kiera. "Why were you and Amara screaming at each other?"
"She started to gripe about something she wanted to get at the mall, that I hadn't let her go into the store or something, and we were arguing, and that's why I missed the turn. After everything, I, I panicked and I just went off on her," Kiera raised her eyes to meet mine, "I'm sorry Mommy, it's my fault, not Amara's," she whispered in a small voice.
I folded her into my arms. "Shh, baby, we're not angry. Not at you."
"I let you down," she cried. Shaking my head, I stroked her hair.
"Daddy and I understand the risks of allowing you the responsibility to drive, and allowing the responsibility to drive your sisters around. You're in as much danger driving on your own, as you are riding with one of us. All I'm grateful for is that none of you were hurt or killed. The car can be repaired, or if need be, replaced, my babies can't," I told her honestly, thinking about losing Adrian so early, and barely having the chance with Emily.
"Don't be. You had no way of knowing that you'd be in an accident. Why don't you go put some shorts on so I can check out your knee, and I'll go see what Daddy says about the car?"
"Okay," Kiera sniffed, and I wiped her face gently.
"You are more important to me and your father than any amount of money we might have to pay for car repairs, or insurance. You mean the absolute world to us. Nothing you do, or say, could change that."
"It's my job, sweetheart. Between you and your daddy, I'm a professional," I smiled, brushing a kiss over her forehead. She stood and I watched her limp painfully to her bedroom before I rose and made my way out to Mulder.
"Has the jury spoken?" I asked, crossing my arms over my chest.
"Well, this non mechanic says he's gonna have to call the insurance company and see what they say. She really did a number on it, that's for sure."
"It wasn't her fault, Mulder. She and Amara were fighting, and that's what started it. She feels guilty enough as it is, don't blame her."
"No, I blame me. I should have pressed the issue about going with
her. I offered, but she told me to stay with you."
"There's no use in assigning blame. What's done is done. We should just be glad they weren't killed."
Mulder's head dropped to his chest. "You're right. Okay, I can't do anything else."
I took his arm. "While I'm fixing Kiera up, call the insurance company and see if they can get someone to do an appraisal before Monday."
"Kiera knows I'm not angry at her, right?"
"She knows. She's just angry with herself."
"Is she okay? She didn't get hurt, did she?"
"I'm going to take a look at her knee. She banged it on the steering wheel. I'm sure it's nothing too serious."
Mulder nodded, and I moved back toward the house. "Hey Scully?"
"Take good care of my baby, okay?"
"Absolutely." I smiled indulgently, squeezing his hand.
After a close examination of her knee, I decided for the moment that it was nothing too serious. Speaking to her softly, I wrapped her knee, and helped her hobble into the living room where we set her up on the couch, and put ice on her appendage. It was a pulled, maybe torn ligament, and keeping it elevated with ice would heal it just as well as any doctor could predict. However, I promised her that if it still hurt within two weeks, we'd go to her doctor.
Kiera relaxed against me, and I stroked her hair.
"Daddy wanted me to tell you that he's not angry with you. He feels bad because he didn't push the envelope about going with you."
"It's not Daddy's fault."
"It's not anybody's fault," I answered quietly. "Do you want some Advil?"
"Yeah. Oh shit," Kiera muttered as I walked into the kitchen.
"What? What?" I answered quickly, rushing back to her side.
"I almost forgot that Evan's going to be here at 7 to pick me up. Daaaaaaaammmnnnn," she moaned unhappily. "He's not even going to be home for me to call him and tell him we need to reschedule."
"You can still go," I answered. "He won't mind if you're hobbling around on your dad's seemingly ever-present set of crutches."
"We were going to go play paintball."
"Romantic," I remarked. "Splattering paint all over each other."
Kiera snorted, taking the painkillers from my proffered hand.
"Maybe you and I should play paintball, Scully," I turned to face my smartass husband.
"No thank you, you get shot at enough. Too much for my taste. What did the insurance company say?"
Mulder pulled a beer from the fridge and plopped down beside Kiera. He beckoned me over and I settled on his lap.
"They're sending a tow truck to come and get it, and they'll inspect it at the garage and make their assessment. I can't promise anything."
"What's important is that you're all okay."
"What are you going to do about Evan?" I asked again.
"I dunno," Kiera shrugged. "I guess I'll just wait for him to get here, and we'll decide something else then. Either that or he'll say forget it and I'll be staying home."
I nodded, snagging a sip of Mulder's beer.
That evening when Evan arrived, I was helping Kiera down the stairs. She's not as adept at crutches as her father is.
"Hey, Kiera, you ready to kick some - " Evan's words died on his lips. "What happened? Are you okay?"
She waved him in and maneuvered around on her crutches. "Got into an accident this morning. Evan, this is my mom, mom, this is Evan."
"Nice to meet you Evan," I smiled encouragingly over at him. He was a few inches taller than both Kiera and myself, and had chin length blond hair. I noted that he did indeed resemble Richard Dean Anderson. "Why don't you come sit down and decide what you guys wanna do?"
Kiera hobbled off, with Evan following her, and I looked up to find Mulder glancing down at me. I grinned and took the stairs two at a time to meet him.
"What do you think?" I asked, wrapping an arm around him.
"I think," he grinned, leaning down to kiss me. "That I'm getting far too old for this stuff. When did Kiera grow up, Scully?"
I patted his back, brushing my lips over his cheek. "It's just one date, Fox. It's not like they're going to run off and get married."
He grinned. "Yeah, yeah, I hear ya. I still think I should have the gunmen run a check on him."
"Mulderrrrr," I groaned. "You can't honestly," I stopped, looking up at him. He grinned down at me. I shook my head exasperatedly.
"Bye Mom, Dad, we're leaving!" Kiera called. I glanced down and met her eyes.
"Midnight!" I called back.
Mulder and I turned to each other. We listened for the sounds of Amara and Emily playing on their computers, and grinned.
"Are you thinking what I'm thinking?" I asked.
Mulder grinned. "Making out on the couch," he drawled, pulling on my hand and glancing into the kids' rooms. They were fine, and after telling them to come get us if they needed us, he tugged me downstairs into the living room.
We dimmed the lights, and I even lit a few candles. Mulder opted to forgo the cheesy Barry White music as he pulled me down with him into the crevasse between the sofa and the coffee table.
Tugging his head to mine, I ran gentle thumbs over his cheeks. Looking into his eyes, I saw the same thirteen-year old boy who befriended me, and walked me home only months after his sister disappeared. I saw the young man he'd turned into when he finally proposed to me. I saw the proud father as he held his twin daughters only moments after their birth. I saw the source of my strength after Adrian died. I saw my everything.
"Now who's getting sentimental, Scully?" Mulder teased, and I realized I'd spoken the last sentence aloud.
I laughed, "Shut up."
We smiled at each other. That's one thing I love about being with Mulder, we're friends above everything else. I pressed my lips to his, pulling him close to me. Within minutes we were "making-out" like teenagers.
My hand wandered underneath his t-shirt and he shuddered, breaking away. Mulder pulled me closer so that I was straddling him and we kissed again.
"MOOOOOOOOM!" Amara yelled. "My computer's doing something weird!"
We groaned in unison, and I slid from his lap. "I'll be back. Stay here."
I returned ten minutes later after helping Amara with her computer problems, to find Mulder doing the dishes from our early dinner. Sighing, I took my place at his side and accepted the plates to rinse and dry.
"So what was so weird?"
"One of Frohike's security protocols started to mouth off to her. Literally."
Mulder chuckled. "Those guys spoil them. I honestly can't believe they gave both Amara and Emily computers for their birthdays last year, and Kiera that huge upgrade for hers. Not to mention the round the clock tech support."
"Well, put it this way, Byers is the only one who is probably even close to having a family. The other two are pretty much confirmed bachelors. If they want to spoil the kids, why not? We have too, after all."
"Good point. You wanna blow these off till later?"
"Absolutely," I replied, pulling him back over to the couch. He laughed at my enthusiasm.
Days went by. Then weeks, and soon it was Christmas. Another holiday for us to avoid my brother like the plague. Billy has always hated Mulder. It was never as pronounced as it is now, after Mulder and I have been through hell and back as partners. Bill tends to make holidays unpleasant for everyone involved. Especially the kids, who hate to hear bad words spoken about their father.
"Why do we have to go?" Kiera whined from where she stood in the doorway between my bedroom and bathroom. "All Uncle Bill will do is bitch about Dad, and shoot us dirty looks."
I patted her shoulder. "Grandma is going to make him behave this year. I promise," I tried to smile and moved over to Mulder. Resting my chin on his shoulder, I dipped a hand into his right pocket.
"You know, Dana, I've gotta say I agree with Kiera," he answered, bending to kiss me.
"Okay, okay. If my brother is a jerk, we'll pack up and come home, and spend Christmas vacation here. Good?"
"I guess," Father and daughter answered half-heartedly in unison.
"That's what I wanted to hear," I pulled away from Mulder and reached over to pinch Kiera's cheek. "Let me go check on Amara."
Emily was napping, and I'd taken the chance to pack her bags without her wanting to bring her entire wardrobe. The other kids, and Mulder, I'd left in charge of their own packing. Whether that decision was wise or not is still up in the air.
This year, Christmas was at Charlie's house, all the way in Ireland, where my younger brother and his wife had been relocated. We'd gotten our passports renewed, and gotten the kids theirs back in June. Truth to be told, despite my elder brother's attitude about the path I'd chosen in life, I was looking forward to seeing my little brother again.
"Amara, you okay in here?" I asked, wandering into the junk heap I call Amara's room.
"I'm okay mom. Working on something."
"Really? What is it?"
"No, no, don't come close," Amara sputtered. I stopped.
"Okay. Are you all packed?"
"Yeah. My stuff's on the bed."
"Got your book packed?" I asked, lifting the bags to my shoulders. She had a book report to do over the holiday break.
"Yessss," Amara whined. "Do I have to do it, Mommy?"
"Yes you do, so don't complain. The sooner you get it done, the better."
I heard a rustling of what I guessed was wrapping paper, and she emerged.
"That a present for me back there?" I asked, grinning.
"You and Daddy," she admitted.
"Make sure we don't forget it."
"I won't. Mom, I'm hungry."
I looked at my watch. "It is dinner time, come on. You and I can whip something up."
One of the things that Amara and I always try to do together is cook dinner. My nine-year-old has amazing culinary talents, and usually I'm the one watching as she gleefully follows a recipe. I'm just along to use the sharp objects, and lift the hot pans.
We ended up making a concoction involving salsa and chicken. It turned out to be very good. So good, that it took longer to cook than it did to eat it.
We designated Kiera to do the dishes while the rest of us reclined, full, on the couches in the living room.
"Dinner was good. Thanks, Amara," I smiled down at her. She'd rested her head on my leg as she let her dinner settle. She nodded slightly, changing the channel idly with the remote.
Emily yawned again. She hadn't been feeling well lately, and so she was napping most of the time. Mulder rubbed her back gently. She curled around one of his arms and fitted her head against his shoulder. As I watched her snuggle with her father, I was struck by how lucky I am to have this.
Mulder caught my gaze and nodded, acknowledging that he was reading my mind. I offered him a smile before resting my cheek on his right bicep and closing my eyes.
The next day, I did my best to relax as we boarded our flight to Ireland. I've never been very fond of flying, but Mulder always tries to help calm my fears.
From my spot beside the window I raised myself onto my knees to take account of my brood. Kiera and Amara had reluctantly agreed to sit together, and my mother was sitting with Emily. And as always, Mulder was by my side.
Seeing that everyone was as content as they were going to be for the next 7 to 8 hours, I settled back beside my partner and rested my cheek on his shoulder.
"Are you sure you're okay with going this year?"
"Yeah. I want to spend Christmas with your family. It's been a long time since everyone was all together. Not since," he trailed off.
"Not since Dad died, I know," I kissed his t-shirt covered shoulder. "It's okay to talk about Ahab, Mulder. He wouldn't want it to be a curse to mention his name."
"Okay. I just don't want to upset you."
"You're not." I assured, snuggling in close.
As conversation lulled, and the plane started to taxi onto the runway, I let my thoughts drift.
"You know I've been to Philadelphia hundreds of times but I've never seen the liberty bell," Mulder told Scully seriously as they buckled their seatbelts. Scully grinned over at him.
"Well you're not missing much. It's a big bell, with a big crack and you have to wait in a long line."
Mulder made a face at her as he started to drive.
"I'd still like to see it though. You think they stay open this late?" he glanced hopefully at her. She shook her head and leaned closer.
"I doubt they're open right now. Maybe we could bring the girls up."
"This weekend?" Mulder looked confident. Scully shook her head.
"Mila is coming over Friday, and is most likely not leaving until Sunday afternoon."
"She could come with us," Mulder mumbled, pouting. Scully smiled.
"I'll talk to her parents."
Scully shook her head at her husband's childlike reactions.
"Do you think we can make it home, or should we get some rest?" Scully asked, accenting the word rest. Mulder glanced over at her, and she grinned back, leaving no doubt that rest was not what they'd be getting.
"Do you think your parents can handle Amara and Kiera for another day?"
"I'm sure they can. Mom keeps insisting that we should leave them with her and go away for a weekend ourselves. What do you have in mind for another day?"
"You'll find out," he grabbed her hand off his leg and cradled her palm.
After a few hours of 'activities', Scully dozed off and Mulder slipped from the bed and into his own hotel room. Scully woke when instead of finding her husband's warmth; she found an indentation of where he once was.
Scully sat up, pulling the sheet tighter around her. Looking around, she saw the light on in Mulder's room. She stood and pulled on her silk robe before making her way into Mulder's room. Her husband was hunched over a file, wearing his boxers.
"You know, I'm beginning to wonder if you married me or your files."
He looked up, startled and flashed her a grin. She rounded over to the bed and sat in his lap. He kissed her gently.
"Sorry. I just wanted to get my notes about the case down on paper before I forget," he pecked her lightly on the lips.
"Your notes will still be there tomorrow," she reminded gently.
"'Fraid not," he answered. "You're too distracting. I tend to forget anything remotely work related when you're around." He closed the file and tossed it onto the chair beside the bed. Mulder pressed his lips to her neck as she shifted so that her legs were alongside his hips.
"Why thank you, Mulder. You're finished?" she asked, turning her attentions to his skin.
"I am now," he answered, pulling her lips to his for a slow kiss. Mulder stood and she wrapped her legs around his waist, and her arms around his neck. They broke their kiss when the need for air took over.
He moved one hand to trace his finger over her features.
"You're so beautiful," he whispered. Scully's fingers rubbed one of his cheeks. She was surprised to find a tear, and quickly wiped it away.
"Why are you crying?"
"I just can't believe that I love you so much. And I can't believe that after all these years, you still want to be with me."
"Why wouldn't I? How could I not be happy with you? You're my best friend. You've been my best friend for years."
Scully kissed him gently, letting her tongue trace his lips. He shivered slightly.
"I'm done working, that okay?" he asked gruffly.
"Definitely," she agreed, pulling his mouth to hers.
True to her word, Scully talked to Mila's parents and they brought Amara, Kiera and Mila up to Philadelphia. As Scully had said, they got there only ten minutes after opening, and the line was already huge. Scully put Amara in what essentially was a "baby leash" to allow her to walk around without getting lost. Mila and Kiera leaned against a railing, alternating between talking and napping.
"I told you it would be a long line, Mulder."
He stuck his tongue out at her.
"Real mature, Mulder."
Amara pulled on Scully's pant leg. She stooped and lifted the baby up.
"I know Amara, Mommy is bored too."
"Hey!" Mulder cried, indignant. "Smartass."
Scully smiled and sidled closer to him. He grinned and brought his arm around her waist. Amara squirmed and Scully let her down. She zipped over to Kiera and Mila. Despite continuing to speak, Mila held out her hand to grasp Amara's. After a few moments, Kiera shooed her sister away.
Scully walked over a few minutes later.
"Dad's gonna hold our place in line while we go get that delicious, healthy midmorning snack of ice cream. Come on," she requested, shifting Amara.
Once they returned, Scully noted that the line had moved mere inches. She relaxed beside Mulder while Amara sat at her feet, contentedly making a mess of herself with her ice cream. Mulder leaned over and tried to steal licks of Scully's.
"Mulder!" she protested. "It's my ice cream. I asked you if you wanted any, and you said no."
"But I didn't want an entire one," Mulder defended, stooping to wipe Amara's face with a napkin. Scully rolled her eyes.
The line moved scant inches and that meant that the two oldest girls were jostled form the light doze they'd fallen into after finishing their ice cream. Scully nudged her daughter forward and ignored her complaints about how early it was.
"Hush child, you should have slept during the night," she whispered.
"Scully, hey Scully. Do you want anything to drink?"
I looked up from my unfocused stare at the tray table latch. "Huh?"
Mulder's lips curled into a grin, "Drink, Scully. Do you want anything?"
I looked at him, and then at the flight attendant standing beside our seats and back to my husband.
"I'll have Coke," I murmured, glancing back at the patient woman. "Thanks," I offered, tossing her a grateful smile.
"No problem. On these flights, you take all the rest you can get."
Once we were left alone, and I was sipping on my Coca Cola thoughtfully, Mulder reached for my hand.
"So where did you go?"
"I actually was thinking about our trip to see the Liberty Bell. It's one of my only decent experiences in Philadelphia."
He said nothing, but squeezed my hand. "Despite the lines, that was fun, Scully."
"It was. Is everyone okay?" I asked, craning my neck to see my other family members.
"Emily's sleeping. Since getting the okay, Kiera's been playing Tetris nonstop. Amara's reading her book."
"Good," I took another drink. "I was thinking about Daddy. About all the things that I left unsaid."
"I think he knew all that you wanted to say, but couldn't. After all, he was just as stubborn as you are."
"Are you sure?"
Mulder smiled, and hugged my shoulders gently. "Yeah, I'm sure." Chapter 9
Dana Scully's Apartment
"Are you going to leave this up all year?" William Scully asked, looking pointedly at his daughter.
She looked up at him over the dish she was clearing. A smile curved over her features, and she met Mulder's eyes.
"Yup. All year. Since you always made us take the Christmas tree down the day after Christmas, I'm making up for lost time."
Bill looked to his son-in-law, who was seated on the couch beneath his two sleeping granddaughters. Fox smiled up at him.
"I'm sorry they conked out on you."
"That's okay. We all were up late last night," to his daughter he directed, "If your idea of a good time is picking up dried pine needles, treat yourself."
"As if he's an authority on having a good time." Maggie teased.
Dana laughed a little and took the plates over to the sink. "That's okay, Mom, I got that."
William turned back to Fox. "Why don't I help you get them into their beds?" he offered.
Mulder smiled. "Okay. Take Amara, I'll get Kiera."
Silently the two men carried the girls into their respective bedrooms and tucked them in. After which, they switched rooms and made sure to kiss the girls goodnight. When they returned to the living room, William announced.
"Okay, Maggie, let's shove off."
"Oh, okay," Maggie hugged her daughter tightly. "Well, thank you for having us. Dinner was delicious as usual."
Maggie moved over to Fox and hugged him. "Kiss the kids for me, Fox."
"Will do Maggie."
Margaret rolled her eyes. "Mom, honey. You and Dana have been together long enough to afford that luxury."
The two of them watched Dana interact with her father.
"Good sailing Ahab," she saluted. She stepped into her father's arms gingerly.
Maggie shot her husband a look, urging him to bring up the topic that nobody had dared to all night long. Dana's work was a very sore subject between Dana and her father.
"How's work? Good?" he asked.
Dana looked startled but recovered quickly. "Yup. It's good."
"Well..." he trailed off, releasing her. William and Maggie moved over and gathered their coats.
"Well, drive carefully," Scully started, taking up her place beside Mulder. His arm pulled her against his side gently. She unlocked the door, and gave her mother's cheek a kiss.
"Uh-huh," Maggie replied, giving her daughter a short hug.
"Goodnight, Daddy." Dana called, relaxing into Mulder's embrace. Once her parents were out of sight, he closed the door and led her to the couch.
They settled down, and Mulder pulled a blanket around the two of them.
Scully relaxed into him, letting him stroke her hair.
"What's wrong?" he asked, turning on the TV. She grunted but generally ignored his question.
"Fine, don't talk to me," he answered; using the same tone he took with Kiera when she was throwing a tantrum.
After a few minutes, she took his hand and kissed his fingers.
"I'm sorry. I'm just confused about Dad's apparent turn-around about giving a damn about our work."
"Maybe he's finally coming around and recognizing that you're happy in this job."
"I don't know," Scully shrugged, and leaned into him. She yawned tiredly.
He slipped an arm around her waist and settled them on their sides. Tucking the blanket tighter around them, she was asleep almost immediately.
Mulder willed himself to relax. He knew that Dana's parents hadn't taken her decision well, even after they found out that he would be her partner. He wished he knew how to convince them that he wouldn't let anything hurt Dana. He wished he knew how to keep that promise to himself. Pressing a kiss to Dana's neck, he closed his eyes.
A few hours later, Scully's eyes shot open, surprised to find herself and Mulder still curled around each other on the couch. Startled, she glanced around the TV-lit room for what had disturbed her.
Her father was sitting in what he'd deemed "his" chair.
"Dad? I thought you guys left," she offered, sitting up. "Where's Mom?"
Ahab didn't answer. Mulder mumbled something behind her, and squeezed her waist. She looked away just as the phone rang. Turning back to her dad, she saw that he was gone. She climbed off the couch, taking the blanket with her and reached for the phone before it would have a chance to wake Kiera.
She asked who was on the other line when she received silence. Then she heard her mother whisper her name.
"Mom? What's the matter?" she asked, reaching over to shake Mulder awake.
"We, um... we lost your dad. He had a... a massive coronary... about an hour ago. He... he's gone," Maggie lost her battle with the tears, and Dana handed the phone to her husband as the shock set in.
Her father had disappeared from his place in the chair. Or maybe he'd never been there at all.
The day of his funeral, Scully had gone alone, not allowing Mulder to take the time off from work to be there with her and the kids. She questioned why the memorial was so simple when William Scully was entitled to burial at Arlington National Cemetery.
"This is exactly how he wanted it. Just the family," Maggie replied quietly. "This song was playing when his ship returned from the Cuban Blockade. He marched right up to me... and he proposed."
Dana knew that it probably wasn't the best time to forge on with the subject but she asked, "I know that you and Dad were... disappointed that I chose the path I'm on instead of medicine but I need to know... was he at all proud of me?"
Margaret smiled tearfully, "He was your father."
Dana wiped away the few errant tears, which flowed down her cheeks.
"Why aren't my grandchildren here, Dana? Or your husband?" Margaret whispered.
"Fox couldn't get away from work. He's on a kidnapping case in North Carolina. I'm leaving in a little while to join him."
"I haven't left quite yet," Fox spoke softly from behind her. "Sorry we're late."
Scully spun to receive her husband and two daughters, smiling gratefully at their presence, despite her earlier emphasis on not wanting them to be upset at the funeral. Kiera stepped into her arms, and Dana rocked the eleven year old gently. Softly, she tried to soothe Kiera. Once Kiera was more composed, Dana reached up to greet her younger daughter and to receive a chaste kiss from her husband. Maggie took Amara from Mulder and gave them both strong hugs.
"I'm glad you're here Fox," she whispered.
"I'm glad I'm here too," he answered as he slipped an arm around Scully and Kiera. Mulder stroked a loose strand of hair that had escaped Scully's ponytail.
After the funeral, Mulder and Scully dropped Kiera and Amara at Maggie's for the duration of their case. They hadn't wanted to inconvenience her, but Maggie had insisted, needing something to do besides grieve. They continued on to North Carolina. Late after arriving, Scully had made headway, and Mulder expressed his concern on how she'd gotten the lead.
"You said that he didn't approve of you becoming an FBI agent. Now, if being on the job now makes you feel guilty or uncomfortable or uneasy, I think you should back away because if it's clouding your judgment, you're putting yourself in danger," Mulder looked up at Scully and reached out for her hands.
"I love this job."
"You love your father."
"I love you," she whispered. Mulder opened his arms and Scully stepped into them. She burrowed her face into Mulder's neck.
"It's okay to cry, Scully. It'll make you feel better, Dani," with that whispered term of endearment, Scully sniffed and let her tears flow.
While on the case, Mulder was shot in the line of duty. It took him months of boredom and physical therapy to recover. Afterwards, the X-Files division began to undergo criticism and was eventually shut down. It became more dangerous than ever for them to be seen as a
family. Gradually they spent more time apart, and the girls spent more time at their grandmother's.
Then on the third month of their separation, Mulder got involved in a case involving an ex-FBI agent named Duane Barry. During this case, Barry abducted Scully. The hardest thing for Mulder was telling his children that their mother was gone.
Fox Mulder's world had crumbled the moment he'd found Duane Barry standing at the top of Skyland Mountain and Scully hadn't been there. He didn't even remember the same devastation when Samantha was taken.
"Hey Tiger, do me a favor and get Amara in here," Mulder tried to smile. "There's something I need to tell you."
Mulder sat down heavily onto his leather couch. Kiera nodded and stood, running into the room she shared with her sister. Since being assigned to each other, they had been dividing their time and belongings between their two apartments. Kiera returned, leading Amara by the hand and sat down next to him. Amara curled up under his arm. He brushed her hair away from her face with one hand, and the other reached over to grip Kiera's.
"Daddy? What is it? Where's mom?" Kiera asked. He squeezed Kiera's hand tightly.
"While we were working, our suspect kidnapped your mother. We're working as hard as we can to find her, but she's, she's gone," he blurted.
"Mommy gone?" Amara asked. Mulder nodded tearfully. "She come back?"
"I hope so sweetheart, I really hope so."
Amara nodded. "Me too Daddy." She sniffed and burrowed into his arms. Mulder rubbed her back.
"How?" Kiera whispered. Mulder pulled her to rest against his chest.
"She was at home and the suspect in my case grabbed her," he told her. His words came out choked as he felt both his daughters begin to shake with their tears.
"I know, I know," he started to say more, but felt the lump in his throat grow.
A month later
Mulder unlocked his partner's apartment door, exhausted after another day of dead ends. Scully, Dana, his wife was still gone.
"Fox? Is that you?" Maggie called from the kitchen. He nodded, though he knew she couldn't see him.
"Yeah, are the kids still awake?"
"I am, Daddy," Kiera called, smiling hopefully at him as he walked into the kitchen. He shook his head, and her hopeful eyes dropped. He kissed her forehead gently, whispering soft words of reassurance to her. She tossed her arms around his neck, begging him to lift her off her seat.
Mulder sighed into his daughter's hair, wishing that he knew exactly how to handle everything since Dana's disappearance. Kiera felt small in his arms, smaller and bonier than he remembered, and he wondered how well she'd been eating.
"Have you eaten, Fox?"
"Not since yesterday."
"Sit, you need to eat."
He lowered himself into a chair wordlessly. One of his hands continued to brush Kiera's hair back from her face. She looked at him tearfully, panting from lack of air.
"Breathe deep, Tiger. Breathe," he instructed, demonstrating the cleansing breaths he needed her to take to avoid her passing out. Kiera did as she was instructed, and after a few minutes of hyperventilating, she'd calmed enough to release her death grip on his shirt.
He moved her onto one side of his lap, holding her in one arm while he ate the sandwich Maggie had placed in front of him with the other.
"Is Amara asleep?"
"She should be. I put her down over an hour ago."
"Thanks, Maggie," Mulder pushed his empty plate away, his arm immediately curling around Kiera again. She fell asleep, her face tucked in his neck.
"More nightmares?" he asked, looking at his mother-in-law tiredly. Maggie nodded and he sighed.
"Thank you for taking them."
"I would never do otherwise, Fox."
"I thought this was the one, Maggie. I thought I could-"
"You will, Fox. You'll find her."
Mulder stood suddenly, carrying Kiera to her room and returning, having lightened only his physical burden.
"What if I don't?"
After three months of Scully's absence, she was returned to Georgetown Memorial Hospital. She was in a coma for three days, despite her family's pleas for her awakening. After Mulder's vigil by her bedside, Scully awoke. Jokingly, he brought her a football video as a get-well gift, but later he returned with much better presents, their children.
"Mom, where'd Mulder rush off to?"
"He went home to get the girls. They'll be back as soon as Kiera gets home from school," Maggie assured, brushing her damp hair gently. Scully nodded.
"Were they okay?" she asked, concern evident. "Fox looked like he hasn't slept since he was put on Duane Barry's case."
Before Maggie could answer, someone knocked lightly on the open door. The two women turned to see Fox standing with Kiera and Amara.
"Mom!" Kiera shouted happily and rushed to Scully's side. Scully laughed as Kiera threw her arms around her neck.
"I missed you so much, Mommy," Kiera sobbed. Scully rubbed her back comfortingly.
"I know baby. Shh, don't cry. I'm here now and that's all that matters," Scully cooed gently. Kiera loosened her grip on Scully so that her mother was able to wipe her tears off her cheeks. Kissing Kiera's forehead, she held out her arms for Amara.
Mulder carried her directly over to the bed and set her next to Scully. The three-and-a-half-year-old cuddled into her mother's stomach.
Scully nodded and stroked her daughter's dark blond hair. It had been a lighter blond when Amara was born, but her hair was slowly changing more towards Mulder's rich mahogany color.
"Yeah honey, momma's back."
Amara reached up to embrace Scully and burrow her face under her hair. Scully continued to run her hands over Amara's shoulder length hair and back.
"Mommy going away again?" Amara whimpered.
"No," Scully assured. "I'm not going away anymore."
Amara settled on Scully's side and closed her eyes.
"Mulder," Scully waved him over from his position beside her mother. He walked in slow, calculated steps over to the side of her hospital bed. Mulder stood beside Kiera, his right hand brushing over the back of her head. Scully reached out for his left hand, and he gripped her cool, slender fingers with a startling intensity. Scully noted that it was also trembling. She turned to Amara, who had curled into a ball.
"Amara, why don't you, Kiera, and Grandma go get some cookies from the cafeteria?"
Amara cocked her head for a moment before nodding quickly. Scully silently thanked Kiera as she lifted Amara and headed out of the room with Maggie. As Mulder turned to follow their daughters out with his eyes, Scully grabbed his other hand.
"Mulder, Mulder look at me," she requested softly. He still averted his eyes. Sighing, she grabbed his face and pressed their lips together, the daring move wasn't lost on either of them. When they broke apart, she smiled evenly at him. "Do you feel like looking at me now, Fox?"
He didn't answer, instead using his silence as a chance to shrug off his windbreaker and slide into the bed beside her. She made room for him by settling her head on his chest. He stroked her hair gently.
"Tell me what I missed," she requested.
"With work?" he mumbled.
"When we go home, Scully. I'll tell you when we go home."
She looked up at him thoughtfully. "Do you not want to tell me? Is that why you've got the 'fight or flight' look?"
"I'll tell you. I promise," he whispered, stroking her hair gently. Pressing a gentle kiss to her temple, he rubbed her bare arm softly. Sighing, she closed her eyes against his chest, content to stay there until the nurses kicked him out.
"Fox?" she asked softly, rubbing her cheek against his button down shirt.
"Yeah?" he asked, trying to slide away from her.
She let him go, wondering what he wasn't saying.
"Don't be," he murmured vehemently, gripping her hand tightly. "It's my fault, I should have handled the Duane Barry case better. He followed you home because of me."
"No, no. It's not your fault. If anything, it's mine. I got involved, knowing how dangerous it was for us to work together."
"Stop it, stop. I want you to rest," he ordered. "I want you to get the hell out of here," Mulder squeezed her hand and dropped a kiss on her cheek, close to her mouth.
"Only if you promise to tell me everything. Do you understand me?" she yawned around her best 'mom' voice.
"Promise," he vowed, smiling at her attempt. Dropping a kiss to each of her eyelids, he left the room to find his daughters.
A bout of turbulence tossed me from my thoughts, making me realize that we were still in the air. Looking down, I found my hand firmly encased by Mulder's. He squeezed my fingers gently, tossing his arm across my shoulders.
"Where'd you just go?" he asked.
"When I was returned from my abduction, when you wouldn't tell me what had been going on, that was because of Kristen, wasn't it?" I asked softly, referring to the woman that he'd been tempted by while I was missing.
"Scully, I don't remember."
"Yeah you do," I whispered, kissing his neck. He sighed.
"Yeah, I guess it was. Why?"
"Just thinking. I wish you'd let the guilt go, Mulder."
"I wish I could," he answered stiffly, pulling away from me. "I'll be back."
"Mulder-" I grabbed his arm, standing up beside him. "Forget I said anything. Okay? I don't want this trip to be miserable for us. Please?" I asked, wrapping his hand around my waist. He softened slightly, leaning down to kiss my cheek.
"Sorry. I'm just going to the men's room. I'll be back, promise."
"Need any help?" I grinned, brushing a kiss across his lips.
"Why Agent Scully, are you suggesting that we join the mile-high club?"
"You wanna?" I asked, making sure nobody was watching before giving his butt a gentle squeeze.
Grinning, I let him go.
Once we arrived at the airport, our large party was met by an equally large group of family members excited to see us after so long. Kiera was swarmed by her younger cousins, while I held Emily and Amara's hands and approached my family.
"Cousin Dana! You made it!"
"Of course I did, Katie," I smiled, leaning over to hug my seven-year-old cousin Katie. She's actually my second cousin, because her mother is my cousin Lena. "I even dragged the cranky bunch I have to live with. I brought Amara, Emily, Kiera, and, and," I pretended to think about who Mulder was, playfully snapping my fingers. Emily turned away, cuddling bashfully into Mulder's arms.
"At least someone appreciates me," he mock pouted, lifting his youngest daughter up into his arms. He patted Emily's back and greeted more of his in-laws than I'm sure he ever wanted to see.
"Alright Chuck, what's with the huge welcoming entourage? Last I heard, I was the black sheep of the family," I called, leaving Amara in her father's capable care in order to cross over to my younger brother.
"Complain, complain, complain. For your information, Day-na, it would be our mother who concocted this whole thing," Charlie grinned, tossing an arm around my shoulder and turned me to face mom. Rolling my eyes, I pulled away.
"Face it sis, you'd rather meet this type of reception than have Bill be the welcoming party."
"Damn right," Mulder and I agreed in unison.
Later that night, I settled my weary body in bed, sighing in pleasure at the softness of the pillow beneath my head. I felt Mulder slide in beside me, curling his arm around my waist and resting his chin on my shoulder.
"Usually you make that sound when I'm involved," he murmured. I giggled slightly, waiting for him to continue. "I'm almost jealous of this bed."
"Or you could join forces and work together with the bed, and get it to do your evil bidding," I teased.
"With your mother next door?" Mulder grinned.
"Never stopped you before," I grinned back, turning my head to kiss him. Mulder wiggled so that we were facing each other and deepened the kiss. He sighed in exasperation when I yawned.
"Sorry for crashing the party before it even began," I apologized around a yawn.
"It's okay. I know when to take a rain check," Mulder kissed my brow and rolled over. I spooned up behind him, tossing my arm over his middle and kissing his shoulder.
"I love you, Fox."
"Love you too, babe," he answered, a smile in his voice.
Despite my tiredness, I didn't fall asleep immediately. My mind was still reeling from the memories I'd unearthed the past day or so. The injuries, the pain, the happiness.
Even that disastrous spring break.
Cocoa Beach, FL
Mulder sighed, picking up Amara's bike from where it had landed when she and the contraption had gone sailing through the air, both of them ending up in an undignified heap. They were trying to use their time off with their daughters to teach Amara to ride without training wheels. So far, however, their endeavors were resulting in scrapes and bruises for their daughter. Mulder sighed and crossed back over to Scully. She sat on the pavement cradling Amara in her lap. She was trying to calm their four-year-old down to some semblance of coherence.
"Shh, shh, it's okay. You're okay sweetheart," she whispered, kissing Amara's forehead. "Let me see the booboo, and I can make it better."
Mulder sat beside them and stroked Amara's hair. "Let her see, Amara."
Sniffling pitifully, Amara uncovered her bloody knee for their inspection. Scully sighed, pointing her bag with supplies out to Mulder. He reached in, grabbing the usual suspects when it came to patching up scraped knees and chins. He turned back to Scully to hand her the items, but instead he saw that he would be the one to fix Amara up.
He was shocked to realize that he'd never done that for Amara. Sure, he'd patched up Kiera's fair share of nicks and cuts, but he'd never been the one to help Amara. In four years, he'd never fixed any of his daughter's wounds. Stricken by his revelation, he looked up at Scully, only to find her smiling comfortingly at him.
"It's okay," she murmured, reassuring him and Amara both simultaneously. He looked at Amara and touched her cheek.
"Don't cry, I'll try not to hurt you," he whispered, kissing her forehead. She reached out to squeeze his neck.
"It's okay, Daddy. I'll be brave like you."
"Thanks sweetheart," Mulder ran his hand over her soft hair.
Thankfully, he played Dr. Dad without incident. Afterwards, Amara cuddled into his arms, holding his neck tightly. The three of them sat together while Amara got her nerves under control.
"I wanna try again."
Mulder looked over at Scully through the veil of Amara's hair. She raised an eyebrow and shrugged. He sighed.
"I think this was enough for today, lil-bit. We'll try again
tomorrow. Now, I think that it's lunch time. Let's go retrieve your sister."
He waited until Scully had stood and was reaching her hand out to him. He struggled to his feet, making sure not to drop his daughter. Dana smiled softly at him, indicating that he shouldn't feel bad. She rubbed his shoulder and stretched to kiss the corner of his mouth.
"We'll talk later," she promised. He smiled softly, nodding and kissing the top of Amara's head.
As they walked, Dana's hand began to toy with his. Their fingers twined together and Dana smiled softly up at him. As they neared their destination, Amara squirmed to be let down. She ran ahead of them over to the pool and sat down, putting her feet in the water. Kiera and her best friend Mila were lounging by the pool, sharing a chair. Mila held a sheet of paper in her hands, and every so often Kiera would lean her head against Mila's shoulder to get a better look at the paper. Dana didn't fail to notice that they were deep in conversation with two dark haired guys.
"So why are you guys here?"
"Family vacation. My parents brought us down," Kiera smiled, running her fingers through her hair. She noticed the unlikely pair that her parents made and sat up straighter. "There's my mom and dad now. You guys better scram."
The guys stood. "Remember, 1:15. No later."
"We'll be there," Kiera assured, smiling at the taller of the two. They nodded and bounded off.
"Kiera, we'll never be able to..."Mila trailed off as Dana stepped up beside their chairs. She beckoned Amara from the water's edge, but didn't wait to speak.
"We're going back up for lunch, you coming?"
The two girls looked at each other. "Uh... sure."
"So those guys you were talking to, they're cute."
"They're from D.C," Kiera shrugged.
"What's your fancy? Pizza, sandwiches, anything?" Mulder asked.
"Pizza's good," they spoke in unison.
"Alright. Come on," Scully beckoned. "I'm starving."
Later that night, after Scully and Mulder had retired to bed, Kiera and Mila threw off the covers from the sofa bed that they were sharing and straightened their bathing suits. They waited a few minutes before creeping out of the condo and down to the beach. They were met by their new friends who handed them sodas and led them to a small group of laughing teenagers. Mila looked around cautiously, in the distance she saw a couple walking slowly and occasionally stopping to share soft kisses, but she didn't recognize them.
She turned back to face her friend and the guy who was currently hanging all over her. The two were dancing to the soft music that filtered from the boom box. Mila looked back to the couple, and in the dark, thought she saw a flash of red in the woman's hair.
"Kiera, are you absolutely sure that your parents are in bed?"
"Of course, why?" Kiera asked distractedly. Mila freed herself from her "date's" grasp and grabbed Kiera's hand, pulling her to the edge of the party.
"Do these people look familiar?" Mila asked, draping an arm across Kiera's shoulders. Kiera looked out at the figures. The tall guy and his companion kissed and were soon lowering themselves to the sand.
"Nope. They don't. Sorry that you're nervous. We'll go back soon if you want," Kiera gave Mila a squeeze and moved back toward Eric, her date. Mila gave the amorous couple one last glance as she saw a shirt go flying. When she turned away, she was met by Daniel, the guy that had bestowed such flattery upon her yesterday.
An hour or so later, Kiera and Eric were still inseparable, and even Mila had managed to start having fun. Daniel was pretty cute after all. The entire group sat huddled together around a bonfire while Eric and Kiera kept the group entertained. Eric had just started a funny story that had Kiera hooting with laughter when Mila noticed the couple walking down by the surf. Her eyes widened when she realized that her instincts had been correct; the couple was indeed Kiera's parents.
"Kiera!" Mila hissed. "Shut up! It's your parents!"
Kiera's laughter died away and she cussed softly. "Shit! We're screwed if they see us," Kiera buried her face in Eric's shoulder.
"Too late," Mila observed. "We're busted."
"Kiera Ann Mulder, get up and go inside," Mulder's voice broke through and Kiera looked up at her father meekly. He was seething, and her mother didn't look much happier.
"Yes Daddy," Kiera stood and began to walk away, her head held high. Mila ventured a short look at Kiera's parents before she ran to catch up with Kiera. Reaching out, Mila took Kiera's shoulder and squeezed it.
"Just, don't bother, Mil."
"Quiet, both of you," Scully called sharply, "When we get upstairs, you both are to go directly to bed and if I even hear a whisper coming from that room, we're going home in the morning."
"Yes Ma'am," they murmured in unison.
Dana Scully smiled at her husband, trying to draw him from the funk he'd fallen into. He'd been quiet since that afternoon, not even sounding like himself during dinner. She knew something was bothering him, but he refused to let her in on the secret.
"Fox, tell me what's wrong?" she entreated softly, resting her chin on his shoulder. Her arms tightened around him and their heads rested together. He took a deep breath and let it out slowly.
"We need to talk," he murmured.
"What is it?" she asked, squeezing him slightly. "Fox, talk to me, please."
"Alright, we'll go for a walk. Come on. The kids are all asleep."
They were walking down the beach five minutes later. Dana reached over for Fox's hand, only to find his arms crossed over his chest. She stopped slightly, grabbing at his shirt. He stopped and looked down at her.
"Mulder, you're acting like you're about to tell me that you're leaving me for a supermodel. What is it?"
His hands reached out to stroke her cheeks. She mimicked his gesture and stroked her thumb over his lips. They met in a soft kiss.
"I love you," he murmured into her mouth. She nodded.
"Me too. Now tell me what's got you so upset?"
He pulled away from her. Dana reached out and grabbed his hand.
"Damn it, Fox! What the hell is wrong?" She reached for his shoulders, shaking him slightly.
"Dana do you think I'm a bad father?" he asked softly. Her brow furrowed in confusion. He pulled away from her and started walking again.
"Mulder, Mulder, stop."
He did, without turning to her. She touched his back and dipped a hand into his pocket. She leaned in and rested her forehead on his back. She kissed his back and tugged him over to the edge of the public beach area, where an abandoned beach towel lay. They slid down to the sand and he reached out to knead her shoulders. She let his ministrations go on for a few minutes before she turned. Her hand reached up to stroke his cheek.
"No, Fox. You're not a bad father," she murmured.
"Yes I am. Before today, I'd never even put a band-aid on Amara. She's almost five years old, and I can't remember the last time she came to me when she was hurt or scared."
"Mulder, I know that you won't want to hear this, but neither of us is home very often. You least of all. Maybe if you took some time, a vacation that doesn't involve mandatory sick leave from the bureau," she started.
"You know I can't, Scully. We're close."
"We're always close, Mulder. You just said though that you feel like a bad father, and yet you're not willing to take a day off and spend time with your children. Listen to what you're saying. You're so damn bipolar sometimes."
"I'm here, aren't I?"
"Only because you're still on mandatory leave from your incident with, as you so carefully put it, freezer burn," she shot back. "You say that your family is important to you, but the only member you seem to give a damn about anymore is Samantha."
Mulder backed up as if she'd slapped him. She bit her lip and reached out to touch his arm.
"I'm sorry; I didn't mean that, Mulder."
"Yeah, yeah you did."
"I didn't mean it the way it came out," she tried. "You know I understand why you're so dedicated. That's one of the things I love about you."
"It's also what's going to destroy us, isn't it?" he asked miserably.
Scully wrapped her arms around his neck, stroking his ears gently, making him smile softly. She leaned in and kissed him, her lips sliding slowly over his. He wound his arms around her tiny waist and held on for dear life.
"It won't destroy us if we don't let it," she murmured. "That's why we need this, Mulder. We can't get out of touch."
He nodded, his hands finding their way under her shirt. They sat there for a few moments, his palms flat against the warmth of her back, and hers hanging onto his hair. She settled her head on his shoulder.
"I know I don't say it enough, but I need you, Mulder. I do," she whispered.
"I know you do, I know. But thanks for saying it."
"Remember that next time you run off half-cocked without me," she smiled into his neck.
"I'll take that into account, thanks," he grinned at her causing her to grin back, before kissing him again.
"Let's walk back, I don't want to leave the kids for too long," she started to pull away. He pulled her back, causing her to tumble into his lap.
"Fox!" she protested. He grinned.
"Just checking to see if you're awake."
He helped her stand, and then moved away. She held out her arm to him.
"I should be the one off to the side," she spoke softly. "I am sorry, Fox."
He stopped and took her hand. "I know," he slid his arm around her, leaning down to kiss her.
"I love you."
"I love you, too."
They smiled at each other and started walking, their hands holding onto each other tightly. Scully looked down the ever- lessening shoreline and saw a group of people gathered around a fire. From what she saw, there were eight of them. She thought she recognized the boys that Kiera and Mila had been talking to, but didn't get a good look at the other people before Mulder tugged her back into a slow kiss. She let her hands rest on his waist while his gripped her ass in his big hands.
"Mulder, we're on a public beach," she murmured. He kissed her neck, sucking lightly at her pulse.
"So? Nobody's around. It's 2 am. Beside, you yourself said that we've been missing out because we've never made love on the beach."
She smiled softly, nodding to him. He'd had her convinced anyway. She sank down slowly, letting him guide her to the sand. In the meantime, his hands had burrowed underneath her shirt again and the moment her behind hit the ground, he had divested her of her shirt. She smiled, grabbing his face and kissing him soundly.
Later on, they walked slowly down the beach with their ankles in the surf. They were covered in sand from head to toe and didn't mind the sand in their clothes in the least. Sighing, Scully pulled Mulder's arms tighter around her and rested her head on his chest. They didn't speak until Mulder stopped.
"What? What is it?" Scully asked, looking up at him.
"Take a look at the party girl," he spoke through gritted teeth. Scully did, and was shocked to see her oldest daughter laughing like a hyena with the boy from earlier's arm around her. The same guy that Mulder had told her not to let the girls hang out with. And since Kiera and Mila were both out there, when they were supposed to be inside, that meant that they'd snuck out.
Scully broke away from Mulder and began walking up the sand. She saw Kiera duck and Mila gaze out at her regretfully. Mulder caught up with her and gripped her hand, his anger radiating into her.
"Kiera Ann Mulder, get up and go inside," Mulder's voice was hard, harder than she had ever heard him use with Kiera. She gripped his hand as Kiera replied smally.
Without meaning to, Scully went to reach out for Kiera, but Mulder kept a tight grip on her hand. She wasn't supposed to feel for the girls. Her sympathy was short-lived, however, when she thought about the possibilities.
Scully looked forward and saw Mila attempting to offer comfort to Kiera. She squeezed Mulder's hand and called out,
"Quiet, both of you. When we get upstairs, you both are to go directly to bed and if I even hear a whisper coming from that room, we're going home in the morning."
Scully saw Kiera's shoulders droop, and she had to wrap her arms around Mulder to keep from going to her daughter. He held her tightly, and she felt his fears as deeply as her own. Suddenly, she completely understood why his quest was so important, for him, for Samantha, and for their family.
They got back to the condo and found Amara still asleep, thankfully. The last thing they needed was a frightened four-year-old. Kiera and Mila went silently back to their sofa bed and Scully waited until they were ensconced in their bedding before continuing to the master bedroom with Mulder.
She closed the door and sighed. "I have sand in places that only a few people are allowed to go," she murmured, trying to lighten the heavy mood. She shed her clothes and wiped herself off with a towel halfheartedly.
"I can't believe they did that," Mulder seethed. Scully glanced at him. He had pulled on his PJ pants and was sitting on the edge of the bed. His face was brooding, and his eyes angry.
Scully pulled her pajamas on and crossed over to him. She settled between his legs and massaged his shoulders. "They were wrong, Mulder, but at least they stayed safe. We weren't innocent when we were their ages, and you know that."
"That was different, Scully. It was different and you know it. Your parents knew where you were, and we'd known each other for more than a damn day."
"But I trusted you. I trusted you completely and totally. Kiera probably trusted them too. Do we have the power to question that?"
"You're right. But it still doesn't change the fact that they snuck out of here and went off with those guys without our knowing."
"No it doesn't," she murmured, dropping her head onto his. He hauled her into his arms, causing them both to tumble back onto the bed.
She giggled and leaned in to press kisses over his eyelids and cheeks.
"Are we okay now?" she asked as they settled against the pillows. He nodded, kissing her forehead.
"Yeah, baby. We're okay."
Scully nodded, laying her head in the crook of his neck.
The next morning, Kiera and Mila volunteered to make them breakfast as way of apology. Scully gave them her order and went to wake Mulder.
After she left the bed, he had turned on to his stomach and his body was covered to the waist by the sheet, and his broad back stretched out. She smiled when she saw that his long arms were curled around her pillow. Scully kissed his shoulder and his eyes slid open.
"Morning," she kissed his shoulder again. "The girls are getting breakfast ready, what'll you have?"
Mulder rolled onto his back and tugged her into a loose embrace. "Don't want breakfast," he mumbled petulantly, "want you."
She smiled and brushed her lips over his. "Not right now, Mulder. The girls are awake. Now, what do you want for breakfast, that is food," she added hastily.
"Just a double of what you're having. That'll be fine."
"Okay. Be out in ten minutes," she smiled, kissing his chin softly.
After spring break, things got even messier. Both Mulder and Kiera began to behave even more erratically than they had been. Mulder's temper was shorter with work, with the girls, and even with his wife.
J. Edgar Hoover Building
"Mulder, just stop and listen. Calm down, just calm down," Scully appealed, trying to keep hold of her irritated husband's face. He struggled some more before their eyes locked and he calmed considerably.
"I'm so sick of this Scully."
"I know, I know. But you gotta calm down. Please, it scares me when you act like this. It scares the kids."
"I'm sorry, I don't,-"
"I know. Come on, sit down and tell me what's wrong," she soothed, leading him over to the desk, and lowering him onto its edge. Casting a glance back at their door and finding it locked, she stepped between his legs and rubbed his neck. He always relaxed when she did that.
"Don't patronize me, Scully."
"I'm not," she replied, hurt. "I want you to talk to me. Just talk to me," she spoke softly.
"What do you want to hear about? About how much of a fucking joke this is?"
"This!" he insisted. "This office, you, me, us, the Truth. It's all a fucking joke to them."
"It's not to me."
"Oh bullshit!" he spat, using his larger body mass to push her away as he stalked around the room. She turned around, watching his jerky movements. This wasn't a new thing, Mulder's anger. It had been surfacing more and more frequently. Too frequently. She was used to his frustrations concerning the work; she had them too, especially when they were so damn close so often. She just wasn't used to him directing his anger at her.
"Just save it, Scully. Save it for when I'll believe it!" Mulder turned away from her and started rifling through a file cabinet. She stared at his back, noting the tenseness in his shoulder blades. Despite her better judgment, she went to him, pressing first her lips, and then her hands to his back.
She was caught off guard when he spun around. She wasn't prepared for his use of force, and found herself on her ass, knocking her head on the edge of the desk. Scully grunted in pain and sat there, a little dazed. Her head began to sting and as a result her eyes filled.
Mulder was suddenly at her side, his hands reaching out to run through her hair. "God, Scully. What have I done? I'm, I'm so sorry."
"I'm okay. Just stunned," she struggled to sit up, only to have Mulder's arm slide around her back. She hissed as his fingers brushed over her newly acquired bump.
"Sorry," he apologized again. She realized that Mulder's hands were shaking against her back and head. She leaned against his arm, closing her eyes. In a complete turn around from his earlier behavior, Mulder lowered his head to her shoulder, burying his face in her neck and crying.
"I, I didn't mean to, Scully. I didn't think you were so close. I didn't mean to hurt you, Scully."
Scully reached up to stroke his neck, glad that they were on the floor. If anyone was watching or listening, it would be harder for them to do so. She pulled him closer, holding him tighter, even though she was still stunned by his behavior.
"I'm okay, Mulder. I'm okay. Let me up," she answered calmly. Mulder backed away immediately, swiping at his eyes. She stroked his cheek gently, trying to smile.
She got to her feet, trying to stop the pounding in her head. Sighing, she dug into the middle drawer of Mulder's desk for some aspirin. He appeared at her side, his hand reaching out to stroke her hip.
"Scully, I," Mulder stuttered.
"It's okay," she assured, despite the pain in her head. "I've gotta go."
"Wait," he reached out for her hand, "I'm sorry. I love you."
"I love you too. When I pick up the girls, we're going back to my place."
"Okay, I'll see you there."
"Maybe you shouldn't," Dana answered softly, looking him in the eye. Her heart broke when she saw the realization in his eyes. "Just for a while, until things, this calms down."
"Okay. Sure," he whispered. Quickly, he leaned over and kissed her soundly.
Later that night, Dana sat reading when Kiera sauntered in to say goodnight. She and Kiera hadn't had such a good afternoon either. Kiera had been short-tempered just like her father, especially when confronted about the math test that she'd told Scully she'd passed, but upon closer inspection, and a call from her teacher, had actually failed.
Dana put her notes down and took off her glasses. Kiera settled beside her on the couch, resting her cheek on her knee. Dana smiled softly, despite her earlier anger at her daughter.
"When's daddy getting home?" she asked, sounding younger than she was. Dana thoughtfully touched her cheek, where she'd found a small bruise after her encounter with Mulder. He must have accidentally smacked her when she went down. She knew it wouldn't be as easy to explain Mulder's absence to Kiera as it was to Amara. She decided that, at the risk of another argument, she'd tell her the truth.
"He uh, he's not going to be coming back here tonight."
"Why not? Did he go out of town? Why didn't you go with him?"
"No, uh, he's in town. We just decided that he needed to stay at his apartment for a while."
"Kiera," Scully sighed, rubbing her forehead tiredly, "You can call him if you want."
"What happened?" Kiera snapped. "Why don't you want him here?"
"I do want him here, Kiera. He just, he's a little short tempered right now. I want him to cool down."
"I don't believe you."
"So don't," Scully shrugged, not willing to argue again. "Go on to bed."
"I want to see Daddy."
"I want to see him now," Kiera articulated.
"No," Scully affirmed. "I'll see him tomorrow at work, and if he's cooled down, then he'll pick you up from school. Now," she kissed Kiera's forehead. "To bed with you. I love you, Kiera."
"No you don't."
"Kiera, you know that's not true. I just, your dad knocked me down today at work. I hit my head and it really hurt. I just don't want him to get upset and accidentally hurt you or Amara."
"You're lying. Daddy would never-"
"Just go to bed Kiera, I'm not going to argue with you anymore tonight," Scully rubbed her forehead. "Goodnight," she murmured, standing and heading for her bedroom.
"You don't love me. You don't love Daddy, you didn't even love Grandpa. You wouldn't even cry when he died!" Kiera tossed back.
Scully stopped in her tracks. Kiera had hit a nerve. She felt tears automatically spring to her eyes. Part of her wanted to defend herself, to discipline Kiera, but the other part just wanted to go to bed, to forget about this day. In the end, she went to bed.
Scully bolted awake when she heard the crash. She grabbed her gun from the nightstand and clicked off the safety as she crept from her bedroom to face the intruder. Taking a deep breath, she whirled into the doorway of the kitchen.
"SHIT! OW, Scully, it's me."
"Mulder?!" She lowered the gun and flipped on the light, squinting at the sudden brightness. "What the hell are you doing here?"
"Borrowing a cup of sugar?" he tried, smiling shyly at her. She rolled her eyes and gave the mess surrounding him a pointed look. While pulling out a glass from the drain rack, a large pot and its cover had fallen to the floor. Mulder bent to collect them sheepishly.
"There was an incident, and I need to stay here for a few hours."
Scully rubbed her forehead tiredly, "Okay. Goodnight."
Mulder reached out and grabbed her arm, not enough to hurt, just enough to pull her close to him. She wrapped her arms around his waist and was pleased to feel the bare skin of his shoulder against her cheek.
"I'm sorry about this morning. And I didn't mean to wake you up."
"I know. You just scared me, that's all," Scully pressed her lips to the edge of his undershirt.
"I'd never intentionally hurt you," he murmured, bending to lightly kiss her forehead. She sighed softly, and he moved them to the bedroom.
A couple hours later, Mulder slid out from underneath Scully's soft, warm body. He knew she'd be upset by his leaving while she slept, but
knew that the information the Gunmen had promised him was too important. He sighed softly as he dressed and then remembered a game he and Dana had once played.
He found a pen on his bedside table and gently nudged Dana so that he had a clear spot to scribble a small note. Leaning over, he kissed her lips softly. Taking a deep breath, he made sure to check on both of his kids before leaving.
When she woke up for work, Scully shifted and slid her hand across the bed, searching for Mulder. When she didn't encounter his form, her eyes slipped open and she remembered. She'd kicked him out because he'd scared her, but during the night he'd come home because of an 'incident', whatever that meant. They'd made love, but now he was gone.
Sighing, she rubbed her eyes. She looked down at her nudity and smiled. He remembered. Upside down to the rest of the world were his scribbled words:
'I love you. See you at work.'
When she got to work, Mulder's soft mood was gone, and she found herself worrying more about his mental status than her own safety, despite the fact that he went off on Skinner. He was sent home on temporary suspension, pending an inquiry, and she didn't see him until the middle of the next day, when she went to his apartment, where he'd holed himself up.
"I couldn't find you at work. I was worried about you," Scully began, knowing that he'd been told to stay out of the Hoover building.
"I came home. I must be running a fever. Maybe it's the threat of being burnt at the stake," Mulder murmured, lying to her face.
She stared at him in disbelief. "They called me in today."
"What did you tell them?" he asked evenly.
"That nothing was wrong."
"Well you told them the truth then."
'Bullshit,' she felt like screaming. The rest of their conversation went by as a blur, until finally she had to leave. She had an appointment with the Navajo translator. Maybe after she spoke with them, things would get back to normal.
And then Mulder was gone.
As consciousness flooded me, I realized that I was sitting up in bed, a cold sweat covering most of my body and a scream dying on my lips. And Mulder was gone.
I heard someone pounding up the stairs, and the door swung open as Mulder rushed in, panting. I came up to my knees and beckoned him close, winding my arms around his neck and burrowing my face against his shoulder.
"I went out for a run with Charlie," he murmured, explaining his absence as he slowly rocked from side to side. "We were just getting back when I heard you scream."
"I was dreaming. About when I shot you, and then when you died."
Mulder nodded against my hair. "It's okay. It's in the past. You saved my life," he sighed, "you always save my life."
I tightened my arms around him once more before releasing him and smiling sheepishly. He grinned back, shaking his head and kissing my forehead.
"I did leave a note," he offered, reaching out to lift my pajama top to show me the nearly illegible message.
"We've got to stop using my body as a notepad," I murmured, smiling wryly.
"Hey, be glad I didn't find the sharpie this time," he grinned, kissing me quickly. "Come on; let's go put everyone's worries to rest."
We decided to take a quick shower together, and I delighted in the feel of his slick skin against me. He'd just lifted me up and braced me against the wall when someone knocked on the door.
"Shit," Mulder murmured against my shoulder. I gasped out a laugh.
"Who is it?"
"Your brother, the nice one."
"What, Charlie? I'm taking a shower."
"Well, I uh, I gotta pee, and they're giving Matthew and Eric a bath downstairs."
"Charlie, you're thirty years old, hold it till I'm done."
"Come on, Danes. I really gotta pee."
I sighed, looking down at my husband. "You doing okay there, old man?"
He grinned sarcastically and pressed closer against me, telling me how very okay he was. He dipped his head and kissed my neck, all the way up to my ear and whispered, "Don't worry 'bout me, babe, I'm doing fiiiiiiiiinnnnneee."
"Oh me too, me too," I murmured, patting his hair before clearing my throat. "Charlie, make it quick, I'm trying to shower here."
When he'd done his business, Charlie carefully washed his hands and moved back to the door.
"Sorry you guys, resume," I could hear the grin in his voice.
"So Dana, you've been here for a full five hours. Hasn't your husband found a crop circle or a poltergeist to drag you off to?" Bill asked, catching me off guard. I sighed.
"Bill, I wish you'd let it go. After all these years you should know that I don't let myself be dragged off to anything I don't want to be. And I don't want to argue at Christmas. So I'd appreciate it if you could can it before you upset my kids."
"Dana's right sweetheart," Tara, my bully of a brother's wife smiled softly. She rubbed his shoulder. "After all, we're all here together, on Christmas."
"Yeah, everyone except Missy."
"That's not Fox's fault," I told him, standing and looking into the living room where Mulder and three quarters of my extended family sat. Most of my older relatives were asleep, as were the youngest of kids. I felt myself smile when I saw that our youngest nephew was cuddled up in Mulder's arms and the two of them were making faces at each other. Well technically, Mulder was the one making faces, Gareth was probably passing wind.
Gareth Kieran Scully was just as Irish as his name displayed. Charlie's wife, Brenna was born and raised in Ireland until she came to the US for college where they met. They got married after two years and lived close to mom until three years ago when Charlie received assignment close to Brenna's hometown. Gareth was their second boy, and the youngest of their five kids. He was named for Brenna's father and surprisingly, my own daughter, Kiera.
Where Bill was squeamish about letting Matthew cozy up to Mulder, Charlie loved it that his kids wanted to associate with my family. That was the biggest thing I missed when Charles moved everyone to Ireland. No nieces and nephews to spoil at will.
I left my petty older brother and padded softly into the living room. Mulder barely looked up until I let my left hand wander down to brush through his hair. He leaned his head gently against my knee and I took that as invitation to sit down beside him.
"Hey there," I murmured.
"Hey yourself," he whispered back.
"I was talking to Gareth," I teased, resting one hand on his thigh while the other reached out to stroke my nephew's tiny hand. He darted slightly unfocused eyes to me and I smiled softly at him. I missed having an infant around the house. "Hi sweetie. You're a good little baby, yes you are."
"You wanna hold him?"
"Not yet. I like this picture," I rested my head on his shoulder. My stomach twisted when I realized that, had our attempts worked, we could be holding our own son in our arms, instead of my brother's at this very moment.
"Me too, Dana. Me too."
At that moment, Gareth decided it was the time to cry. I backed up a little as Mulder started the bounce and pat routine before turning to me.
"I think this is a hunger thing, babe. Does he have any bottles?"
"Hmm, I'll check."
I returned with a warmed bottle and a cloth to drape over Mulder's shoulder. Gareth's cries ceased as soon as Mulder nudged his mouth with the rubber nipple. Mulder's eyes met mine and held as Gareth continued to suckle. Once Gareth finished his snack, he let his lips go slack on the bottle and Mulder handed it to me while he raised the baby to his shoulder to burp.
Twenty minutes later, Charlie swung into the room and grinned. "Danes, you don't have to be the babysitters. You can put him in his seat and let him watch some TV or something. He'll be fine."
"We're okay, Charlie. I like holding him," I murmured, rocking my nephew slowly. "It reminds me of when Kiera and Amara were little."
"Well, come out onto the porch at least. You can bring him with you," Charles offered.
"No thanks, I'll stay here at least until Emily wakes up from her nap."
"I'll be out in a second," Mulder sent after him. He leaned over and kissed my temple. "Love you."
Emily woke up a few minutes after her father left the room. I smiled over at her and placed Gareth on his blanket. She brightened up and crawled over to me, resting her chin on my thigh. I brushed back her hair with one hand and rubbed Gareth's belly with the other.
"Mommy, can I have a baby brother like him?"
I smiled softly, pulling her sideways into my lap. She reached out to rub Gareth's tummy when I stopped.
"Having a baby around is a lot harder than it seems, sweetheart. Maybe once you're a little bit older, your daddy and I'll see about calling the stork and placing an order for one baby brother."
She giggled, and I was glad to have avoided more in-depth questions. She didn't need to know that she was possibly the last child her father and I would have. And if it wasn't for, of all people, Alex Krycek, we would never have had the chance to raise our daughter.
"Mommy, was I small like this?"
"Yeah you were sweetie. You were a tiny baby," I told her, praying that she'd never remember that she wasn't with Fox and me for almost four full years of her life.
Kiera stuck her head into the room and beckoned Emily to come out with her. Emily giggled and after a kiss, I let her go to play with her sisters and cousins. Cooing at the drowsy infant, I lifted my nephew up and carried him out to the screened in porch where my closest family was playing poker. Mulder grinned up at me and patted his lap.
"Hand him here, Dana," Brenna held out her hands for her son, and I couldn't help but oblige. After relinquishing the warm weight of the baby, my arms felt sadly empty.
Mulder snagged two fingers in my belt loops and tugged me down. I relaxed into his embrace and tweaked his ear gently.
The game continued despite my presence, and my 'when I panic I make this face' husband actually began to win. Fox never has been able to play poker. Give him any variation of rummy and he'll have you down to your skivvies faster than you can blink, but poker was not his game.
It was mine.
The bedroom was steamy when Scully stepped in. She closed the door behind her, taking care to let it slip shut, so she wouldn't wake the kids.
Once she'd changed into her pajamas, she reclined against Mulder's pillow, curling her arms around it. Trying to keep her eyes open, she waited for him to emerge from the bathroom.
When she hadn't heard more than faint splashes in the water for ten minutes, she pushed herself from bed and padded to the half-open door.
"Mulder? You okay?"
She stepped inside, taking a deep breath of steam. "Fox, are you okay?"
She pulled back the shower curtain, taking in his scrubbed raw chest as he leaned against the side wall.
She reached over, turning the scouring water down to a more tolerable temperature. Her hands reached out to touch his arms, but he only pulled away. Finally she stepped inside with him, her arms encircling his body. They sank to the floor of the shower stall together and she brushed soothing hands through his hair.
"I can feel him in my head."
"You're okay. There's nobody in there but you," she kissed his wet temple, surprised to find it soapy. "Lean back, I need to rinse your hair."
He did as she said, and once his hair was clean, he pressed his face into her neck.
"You're okay, you're okay," she chanted, rocking him gently. After a few seconds he looked up at her.
"Dana, you're wet."
"Firm grasp of the obvious, that's a good sign," she teased, "Come on, we need to stop wasting water."
She tugged him out of the bathroom, stopping to wrap a large towel around him and strip off her soaking pajamas. Once she'd dried herself off, she dried him off and got him dressed. He followed her movements with his eyes, but made very little attempts to resist.
He curled up on the bed, resting his head on her leg. She slowly stroked her fingers through his wet, slightly tangled hair.
"You never showed this to me."
"How profiling affects you. I had no idea..."
"How much of a lunatic I became?"
"You're not a lunatic. You were amazing at what you did."
"I nearly went off the deep end, Scully. Then and now."
She stroked his forehead. "I had no idea. Why didn't you ever tell me?"
"Because you shouldn't always have to save me, Scully."
"No," she argued softly. "But I want to."
One month later
"I think the dead are speaking to us Mulder, demanding justice. Maybe that man was right. Maybe we bury the dead alive."
Mulder's arm curled farther around her shoulder, drawing her into a comforting embrace. She bit her lip, turning her head into his arm and sniffing.
His lips pressed against her forehead, and she reached up and wrapped her hand around the back of his neck. She stood in his arms, silent with the exception of the few hitching breaths she took.
He stood with her in comforting silence, using one hand to rub her back while the other held her close.
She pulled away sometime later, stooping down and tracing her sister's name. Mulder handed her his handkerchief and stooped to kiss the crown of her head. She looked up at him, cheeks wet and eyes shining, and smiled.
"I'll see you at home, okay?" he murmured, brushing one thumb over her cheekbone.
She nodded. "Thanks."
"What's the story morning glory?" Fox asked me, his large hand reaching out to rub my back. I rolled over and sniffed, wiping my eyes.
"It's about Gareth?"
"What's wrong? Is she okay?"
"Yeah, she's okay. It's just, it's stupid. She asked for a baby brother, and I want to be able to give her one so badly."
"Me too. Me too."
"And I know I should be thankful to even have Emily, but I wish," I sighed, rubbing his chest.
I sighed, resting my forehead on Fox's chest. "I want you to have a son."
Mulder wound his arms around me, pulling me into his embrace tightly. I pressed my temple against his heartbeat and breathed softly. He brushed gentle fingers through my hair.
"Dana, I don't need a son to be complete. I love the little girls we've had, and wouldn't change anything. When we have another baby, and I'm confident that we will manage to knock you up again, when we have another baby, it won't matter to me if it's a boy, a girl, or some combination thereof."
I laughed softly. "I think we can rule out the last choice, Mulder."
We held each other in silence. I was sure he'd fallen asleep on me when he nuzzled my forehead and murmured, "Tomorrow's Christmas Eve."
"I promise I won't drag you off on a ghost hunt like last year."
"As long as you don't go off on one by yourself," I murmured. "Last Christmas was still a good one, mind games not included."
Mulder nodded against my hair and I squeezed him tightly. He held me tighter, but not enough to hurt me. He's never hurt me. Well, never hurt me without being drugged.
Mulder's grip on me loosened and I propped myself up. Emily was in the doorway, wearing one of Kiera's old My Little Pony nightgowns. Her shoulder length hair was mussed from the four hours of sleep she'd already had.
"What's wrong, sweetheart?"
She padded into the room and crawled up onto the bed between her father and me. Mulder tugged her into his lap and yawned. He nuzzled her hair and gave her a squeeze.
"What's cookin' beanie?"
"So does your daddy, what's wrong?"
"Can I sleep with you?"
Mulder and I met each other's gaze and he shrugged. Emily rearranged herself to rest against her father's chest and she was asleep almost instantly. I rubbed her back gently, leaning over to kiss her temple softly.
"Should we put her back?" Mulder whispered.
"Not yet. She may not like the room she's in. Kiera didn't when she was her age. Remember? Anywhere but our place was unacceptable for her."
Mulder brushed back Emily's hair. "That's all it is, right?"
I nodded. "Yeah, it's okay. She's a normal little girl, Mulder."
He nodded, and kissed Emily's forehead. I leaned over, surprising him with a kiss. He kissed me back before yawning.
I settled beside them, one of my hands resting on Emily's back. My other tucked itself beneath my head and I closed my eyes, willing myself to sleep. In the dark, I listened to Mulder and Emily's even breathing. That was how I fell asleep.
Fox Mulder's Apartment
Scully sat beside her husband on their ancient leather couch. It had been in their flat in England, and he'd brought it back home with them after they moved. She ran her fingernail over the soft leather and sighed.
"I should go on to Mom's."
"That means you too, Fox."
"Then act like it. You know I want to spend Christmas with you, with the kids. I just don't want to do it while at a haunted house," She murmured, wrapping her arms around his neck and kissing his cheek. "Thank you though," she whispered, having realized his intentions mid-sentence. "For trying to make this year easier."
"I just don't want you to be upset about Emily."
"Amazingly enough, I feel okay. At peace. Like deep down I know she's okay."
He kissed her temple gently. "I'm glad."
They sat together for a moment before Scully pulled away. "Let's go. We can still make it before everyone wakes up. There'll be no harm, no foul then."
"Are you okay to drive?" Scully asked.
"Mmm, nope," Mulder murmured, his head resting on her shoulder. She nodded slightly closing her eyes.
"Okay, we'll nap before we leave," she smiled softly, stretching out on the couch and beckoning him into her arms. He rested his body against hers and drifted off.
She awoke to pounding. At first she thought it was the massive headache she'd had since shopping earlier that day but then realized someone was at the door. She slid out from underneath Mulder's still form and padded to the door.
"Yes?" she asked, opening it to reveal the man who was quite possibly her least favorite person on the planet. "What do you want, Krycek?"
"Relax, Scully. Retract your claws, I come in peace."
"The hell you do."
"My, my, such language. In front of your child, none the less."
"Fuck you, Krycek," Mulder growled from behind her.
"Good to see you, Mulder. Glad you're awake. Cause this kid's getting heavy."
"What the hell are you talking about?" she hissed. Krycek spun and handed a wrapped bundle to her. Scully hurriedly tugged the blanket down away from her charge's face to reveal, although she was slightly older, her dead daughter, Emily.
Mulder brushed past Scully, taking off after Krycek while Scully quickly took the child in her arms into the living room. She settled the girl on the couch and checked her over. While she was examining her for head trauma, the girl awoke.
"Alex???? Alex?????? Alex," she spoke rapidly in Russian, and Scully only was able to catch Krycek's name.
"Shh, sweetie, calm down. I'm not going to hurt you. Can you understand me?"
"I, I need Alex. Where's Alex?" she asked in perfect English. Scully stroked her cheek.
"Alex wants me to take care of you now. My name is-"
"You're my mommy."
"Yes, I am, sweetheart. You don't need to be afraid of me."
"I'm not." She said in English, then continued in Russian.
"What?" Scully asked, still crouched on the floor. "I don't know any Russian."
"Where's Alex?" Emily asked, but Scully knew that wasn't what she'd said last.
"I don't know. Mulder, your Daddy, went to find him."
Emily reached out for Scully, who stood up and carefully drew her into her arms. Emily clutched at her with amazing strength for a four-year-old. Emily murmured something in Russian, but Scully understood it perfectly.
"Yeah, sweetie, you're home now. You're home for good. I promise you, I won't ever let anything happen to you."
"Scully," Mulder panted, rushing back into the apartment, "are you still in here?"
"We're here, Mulder."
"Are you okay? Is she okay?"
"I'm okay, Daddy."
Mulder's eyes shot to Scully, who nodded and tapped her nose gently. "As if there was any doubt."
"What about Krycek?" Scully asked, smiling at his incredulous look.
"Alex?" Emily asked hopefully.
"He gave me this. Said everything's been taken care of."
Scully nodded at the file folder in his hands. They both lowered their glance to Emily. Mulder reached over and rubbed her cheek.
"Hey, sweetheart. Can you tell me your name?"
"Do you know who I am? And who she is?"
"My daddy and my mommy."
"Do you know where you've been?"
"In Russia, with Alex. Alex took care of me. Made me better, 'cause I was sick. Alex ???? ???? ?????," Emily slipped and finished in Russian.
"Okay honey. Do you know a lot of Russian?"
"Yes. Alex taught me so I could talk to the other kids there. I know English too, I just forget sometimes."
"It's okay, honey. We just don't know any Russian," Scully soothed.
"I'll try to stop. I promise."
"We know," Mulder lifted Emily into his lap and rubbed her arm through the wool blanket. "Do you know what today is?" he asked softly. Emily nodded.
"Christmas, but it's okay if Santa didn't find me this year," she whispered. Scully realized that there wouldn't be anything for Emily under the tree at her mother's, but Mulder gave the girl a squeeze and kissed her hair.
"Don't you worry about that. I bet Santa's already taken your presents to your Grandma's house."
"Yeah sweetheart. She's your mommy's mommy, and she'll love to see you again. Why don't you let mommy give you a bath and find you something to sleep in, and then we'll go to Grandma's?"
"Okay, Daddy. ? ????? ???," Emily kissed her father's cheek.
"I love you, too," he murmured, returning her kiss.
I'd forgotten how much Emily kicks like a mule, until I felt her foot
land against my kidney. I moved her leg away from my abdomen, and looked over at my sleeping husband. He was amazing last year in handling everything about Emily's return to us.
We decided not to question her presence, no matter how much we both wanted to, and just accepted that our child was now with us. After losing Adrian, I wasn't about to overlook a second chance with Emily.
Yawning sleepily, I stood, leaning over to pick Emily up. With a quick look at Fox, I left the room, remembering the rest of last Christmas.
Margaret Scully's House
Scully gave Mulder a nervous look as she knocked on the door to her mother's house. He nodded from his place in the car beside Emily's sleeping form. They were late, very late. She knew her mother would try to understand, but her brother, well, he'd make them regret their tardiness.
The door opened to reveal her mother, who was patting her nephew's back. Matthew was almost a year old.
"I'm so glad you're okay. I was worried that something had happened to you both," Maggie wrapped her lightly in a hug.
"We're sorry we're late. We had a little bit of last minute shopping to do," Scully turned back to Mulder and nodded, beckoning him closer. "We've got a new addition to the family, Mom."
Maggie covered her mouth with her hand. "Oh, Dana. That's wonderful news. When are you due?"
"I'm not pregnant, Mom. We'd uh, we'd like you to meet Emily."
The three adults went inside, and Maggie indicated for them to be quiet. "Everyone else is still in bed. I was just handling Matthew's early feeding. He's excited about Christmas, aren't you sweetie?" she cooed to the sleeping child.
"Where can I put her down?" Mulder asked softly, shifting Emily's warm weight.
"The couch should be clear, Fox. You can set her down there, and then you both can explain to me what's going on."
After putting their coats away, Scully told her mother about the events of the early morning. Maggie took it all in stride, but in the end smiled widely.
"Well, why are we still sitting here? We have to get everything ready before everyone wakes up," she smiled, crossing over to where Emily was sleeping against Mulder's thigh. One of her hands came down to rub her grandchild's back.
Scully smiled back in relief. Now it came time to tell her kids.
I stumbled out of bed the next morning, leaving Mulder still asleep, and went to grab a quick shower to wake myself up. When I emerged from the bathroom, everyone was sitting around, not really conversing, but not sitting in silence either.
"Morning all," I greeted around a yawn.
"Good morning, Dana. Where's Fox?"
"Sleeping. I didn't want to wake him yet."
"I'll wake him, Aunt Dana," my nine-year-old niece, Caylnn, volunteered.
"Honey, I don't think Aunt Dana needs you to do that. Your Uncle will wake up just fine on his own," Brenna spoke softly, soothing her child with her Irish brogue.
"No that's okay, sweetheart, come with me. We can wake him up together," I held out my hand to her. We climbed the stairs and went to the guest room that Fox and I were sleeping in. So far we had the benefit of privacy, but later today, when a few more family members arrived, we'd be getting roommates.
"Good Morning, sleepyhead," I called, knocking on the door gently. "The wake up team is coming in, be ready."
Caylnn rushed inside, pouncing up onto the bed and jumping. She giggled when Mulder groaned and peeked one eye open. I crossed over to the side of the bed and lifted my niece down, but not before letting her kiss her Uncle Fox good morning.
Once she'd run off, presumably to wake her cousins, I looked down at my husband. He was blinking up at me in silence, and I bent to kiss him. His hands curled around my waist and stroked my stomach through my shirt. When we broke apart, I found myself nestled into his side, one of my thighs insinuated between his own, and his hands were curled deliciously around my breasts.
"Mm, good morning indeed," he murmured, licking his lips and squeezing his hands gently.
"I tried to let you sleep. Caylnn wanted to wake you up, though."
"It's okay, Scully. I should be waking up anyway," he whispered, ducking his head to do wicked things to my neck and ear.
"Ooo, damn. I didn't close the door," I choked out around a moan.
"Damn indeed," Mulder murmured inanely, causing my addled brain to chuckle. "Maybe if we're quiet, nobody'll notice."
"Mulder!" I protested before I realized he was grinning into my neck.
The day after Christmas, we were called back to the States, and found ourselves immersed in a new case. During the course of the investigation, we met the FBI's profiling legend, Frank Black. I think seeing him, seeing what single-minded determination to bring a group down can do to a man, made Mulder wake up, because after New Year's, he was different.
Then Donnie Pfaster happened. That son of a bitch came after me again, and this time he tried to attack Kiera as well. I couldn't, wouldn't, let him do that to my child, and so, despite everything I've been taught, I shot him in cold blood.
"Mom?" Kiera asked from the doorway to her father's and my bedroom. I jumped, coming back to the present. I was huddled in a chair by the window, my knees drawn up to my chest. In the moonlight, I watched as
Mulder snored against my pillow, his bare back displayed above the covers.
"What's wrong, honey?" I asked, resting my temple on my knees.
Kiera padded into the room and settled at my feet, resting her head against my pajama covered leg. I stroked her hair softly, trying to ignore the tremor in my fingers. One of Kiera's hands brushed against my bare foot, causing me to smile involuntarily.
"You did the right thing, Mom," she whispered, looking up at me. I bit my lip, nodding despite my feelings otherwise.
"I know, Kiera. I know."
"Mmm, Scully?" Mulder murmured, opening his eyes and searching for me across the room. I hid a smile and covered Kiera's eyes as the covers slipped to reveal a bit more of her dad than she needed to see.
"I'm here, Mulder. Kiera and I couldn't sleep. You look cold, pull up the covers," I called in answer. I released Kiera's eyes once he realized what I was talking about.
Fox sat up, scraping a hand across his jaw, and reached for his boxers from the floor. To distract Kiera, I unfolded myself from the chair and wrapped my arms tightly around her shoulders. Smiling against my forearm, Kiera rubbed my hands softly. Mulder joined us, and brushed Kiera's hair.
"Are you okay, Tiger?"
"Yeah, Daddy. I'm okay."
"Why don't you guys sit on the bed?"
"Okay," Kiera stood, pulling me up and squeezing my hand. I held out a hand to Mulder and he curled his arm around the uninjured part of my back. The three of us sat together in silence until Kiera yawned.
"I should go to bed."
"Alright, Kiera," I scooted closer and wrapped my arms around her back. "Come back in if you need us."
"I will, Momma," she kissed my cheek. I kissed her back and squeezed her tightly. "You did the right thing," she whispered again, pulling away and hugging her father tightly.
"Love you guys," she whispered, giving us both a soft kiss.
"Love you too, sweetheart," I answered, squeezing Fox's hands. Once Kiera was gone, I rested my head against his shoulder. "I never wanted to get her involved in that part of our lives."
I felt Mulder's lips against my temple. "I'm just thankful that you're both alright."
"Me too. You're fun again, I like having you around," I teased. He squeezed me gently, his hands resting on my waist.
"Glad to be of amusement. Are you okay?"
"I think so. You didn't hurt me earlier. You don't need to hold back for me."
He chuckled. "How did you know I was holding back?"
"How many years have we been having sex?" I asked softly, arching an eyebrow.
"Too damn long for it to still be so fucking good," he replied, leaning down to kiss me. I wound my arms around his neck and kissed him back, happily letting my wonderful husband and amazing lover take me to bed.
Three Weeks Later
Through my sleepy fog, I dimly heard Emily calling out for me. Reaching out, I went to nudge Mulder, but only managed to find empty space.
"Mulder?" I called into the dark. When I received no answer, and Emily only cried harder, I stumbled from bed and down the hall to her room. Upon seeing me, she scrambled from bed and launched herself into my arms, sobbing.
"What's wrong, baby? What is it? Tell me what's wrong," I murmured, trying to hush her before she would wake her sisters. Emily only curled her arms around my neck and sobbed, her words unintelligible to me because of her position in my arms, and also because most were in Russian.
I held her until her cries subsided into whimpers and then hiccups. After a few moments of rubbing her back I lifted her up and settled her against my hip. Together we made our way downstairs, where I gave her a glass of water to try and cure her hiccups. I stood in the middle of the kitchen, swaying Emily slowly.
She sniffled against my shoulder and I hummed softly. "What happened, Emily?"
She shook her head, holding tighter to my neck. I murmured nonsense to her around yawns, but didn't put her down, or ask her again. After she finished her water, we walked around the house, pausing to look for her wayward father. When my searching turned up nothing, part of me started to worry. This wouldn't be the first time that he's ditched me, but lately, lately he's been doing so well.
Hefting Emily against my hip, I reached for the remote and turned on the TV, hoping that some late night cartoons would be enough to calm my daughter. Instead of Bugs Bunny, however we were met by Breaking News headlines. After reading the ticker which summarized the news, I knew where Mulder had gone.
Part of me knew that if Mulder was undertaking this case he'd need me to be there, but the part of me that was awake knew that I was needed here. Emily whimpered, causing me to bounce her like an infant.
"It's okay, sweetie. Just relax. Relax sweetie," I murmured, rubbing her back. "Daddy will be home soon. He's going to help someone."
I sat down on the couch and rocked gently. Emily slowly calmed and settled her head on my shoulder. Gradually she drifted off to sleep and I followed her into slumber a half hour later.
Four days later
Fox and I sat together in his apartment. We'd both decided that staying here would be best. He was distraught about his mother's suicide, and we still hadn't told the kids about it.
"There are so many things I wish I'd said," he murmured his voice hoarse from crying. I rubbed the back of his neck and brushed the hair at his temple.
"I know there are, Fox. But I believe that deep down, she knew," I kissed his forehead. He gripped me closer, tightly, but not hurting me. Despite the arguments we've had in the past, he's never hurt me the way his mother hurt him, not physically, not emotionally. Never. I don't think he's even capable of it.
Not even when he's being an insensitive bastard. Like last year, concerning Diana.
Dana Scully settled in her car, shaking angrily. How dare he? After everything, how dare he dismiss her like that? She had proof, and he ignored it. The truth is out there, only when it's a truth you want.
Part of her wanted to cry. In seven years of working together, he'd never once treated her as if what she had to say didn't matter. Sure, sometimes he didn't like what he heard, but he'd always listened. This time however, she didn't even get that courtesy.
She arrived at home in mere minutes. In her anger, she'd sped all the way to the new house. The home that she and Mulder had recently bought. It had been built about five years ago, and while it was larger than both of their apartments combined, it wasn't huge. Just the right size for the four...five of them. The house was two stories, with a daylight basement. Kiera's bedroom was on the main floor, and there was a bedroom in the basement as well as the three bedrooms on the second story. Someday soon, she and Mulder hoped to convert the second story playroom into a nursery.
Checking her watch and running her hand through her hair, Scully exited the car and gathered her briefcase and files. She unlocked the door and thundered inside. Luckily, she was the first one home. She'd have to get her temper under control before everyone arrived home. Amara would be getting home from the bus stop at exactly 3:10. Kiera would be driving up not much after that, and Maggie Scully would be bringing Emily home at 3:30. Usually Maggie stayed until either Scully or Mulder got home from work.
Scully heard Amara's key in the front door, and she went to meet her with a hug. Amara grinned, tossing her arms around her mother's waist. Scully held her tightly, pressing a soft kiss to her forehead.
"How was school, Amara?"
Amara shrugged, tossing her backpack on the sofa and jumping up on the counter. Scully shook her head and pointed to the table. Amara grudgingly settled in a seat.
"Hungry?" Scully asked. Amara nodded, going to the fridge and grabbing a snack. Scully reached in over her head and pulled out a water bottle.
"I didn't know you would be home early."
"Well, Dad and I were released from quarantine this morning, and he had stuff to do, but I really wanted to come home."
"I'm glad you did."
Scully hugged Amara, kissing her cheek. "I am too, honey."
Kiera came bounding through the door a few moments later, dropping her books on the counter and happily hugging her mother. Scully chuckled at her enthusiasm, and squeezed her teenager tightly.
"I'm really happy you're home, Mom."
"Missed me that much, didja?" she teased. Kiera nodded against her shoulder, and Scully held her tighter for a minute. "What's wrong, Kiera?"
"Nothing, I just, bad couple of days."
"Come sit down, tell me what happened," Scully squeezed her hand and led her to the couch. Kiera sat down heavily, fidgeting.
"What's eatin' ya, Kiddo?" Scully asked softly, stroking her daughter's hand gently.
"Are you and Daddy okay?" she blurted.
At first she was stunned. How did Kiera know? But then she shook it off as concern over the quarantine.
"We're fine, honey," Scully assured, pasting a smile on her face. "It was just a small, completely bogus quarantine."
"Um, that's, that's not what I mean. I mean, it is, but it's not."
Scully looked over to Amara, who was channel surfing, and then looked back to Kiera. She stood and beckoned for Kiera to follow. Kiera stopped dutifully behind her as she bent to kiss Amara's forehead.
"We'll be back in a minute, Sweetheart."
Scully led Kiera into the downstairs study, and closed the door behind them, resting her face on the cool wood. Kiera touched her back lightly.
"What is it?"
"Your dad and I, we're having a small argument. It's nothing big, but it's got me caught off guard."
"What's the argument about?"
Scully sighed. "It's hard to explain."
"Try," Kiera begged.
She told Kiera everything about the argument, concentrating on events concerning Diana. When she was done, she rested her palm on her forehead and sighed.
"What are you going to do?" Kiera asked.
"I don't know."
"You know Daddy loves you."
Scully nodded. "I know he does. I also know that he doesn't have trust in me. And I can't accept that."
"You're not leaving him are you?"
"No, honey. That's a little hasty. But I do think I need time. Maybe some time away from your dad."
"No, he is," Scully sighed. "Just for a little while. I won't stop you from seeing him, or taking your sisters to see him. I just, I want to be sure of his trust before I spend another night with him."
Kiera nodded. Scully realized how scared she must be, hearing that, and quickly wrapped her arms around Kiera's shoulders, guiding her daughter's head to her shoulder. Kiera shuddered and surrendered to tears.
"Its okay, Kiera. It'll be okay. Your Daddy and I aren't going anywhere."
Kiera held onto her tightly, and Scully realized that once again, Kiera had saved her parents' relationship. Scully brushed her daughter's hair back and kissed her forehead. She smiled softly, wiping her tears.
"Maybe I was being rash," she murmured.
"What do you mean?"
"I mean, that maybe I should rethink my actions concerning your dad," she stroked Kiera's cheek. "I love him, but I need to know that he trusts me. But maybe instead of making him go all the way to his apartment, maybe he should just think about things from the couch?"
Kiera sniffed. "I like that a lot better."
Scully wiped away her tears. "I know. I'm sorry I upset you. Sometimes I forget that you're still my little girl when you act all mature on me," she smiled, kissing Kiera's forehead. "Now go on and do your homework. Grandma should be home with Emily soon."
Two weeks later Mulder thumped his pillow and tried to get comfortable on the old couch that he and Dana had placed in the den. He'd slept on it once or twice before, but every night for the last two weeks, well that was pushing it. He'd been a zombie at work, as he and Scully waited for their first big break back on the X-Files. The constant tossing and turning was keeping him up even more than his usual insomnia. He'd even tried to sleep at his apartment, but his one attempt was ill fated, resulting in the loss of the mysterious waterbed, and that terrible day where he and Scully had nearly died in a bank robbery, only to learn that they had died hundreds, maybe thousands of times before.
A soft light bathed the room, causing Mulder's eyes to shoot open. Scully's form filled the doorway and he hurriedly sat up, not wanting to miss the opportunity to have her near. He blinked for a moment before reaching over to turn on a lamp.
"Hi," he whispered.
"Hi," she echoed. "I um, I just wanted to thank you. The earrings were beautiful."
"You're welcome. Happy birthday."
"Thanks," Scully moved over to the couch and looked down at him. Without thinking, he reached out and grasped her hips, tugging her closer to him. His head rested against her belly, and he breathed deeply.
"God, I miss you," he whispered miserably into her belly. He felt her hand make contact with his hair, and for a minute, he thought she would indulge herself and run her fingers through it, but then she pulled away.
"I've gotta go. Get some rest; we have to be at the airport by 8:30 tomorrow."
"Scully, wait," he reached out for her hand.
"What?" she asked patiently.
"I love you."
She looked down at their hands. Sighing, she gave his hand a squeeze.
"I love you too, Fox. Goodnight," Scully leaned down and gave his upper lip a soft kiss.
She left the room, only to return a few minutes later and shut the door fully behind her. Scully crossed back over to him and slid into his lap, grabbing the back of his head and crushing their lips together. When their lips parted with a smack, Scully nuzzled her
lips into the hollow of his throat.
"I'll be willing to talk after this case," she whispered, kissing his neck once before leaving. "Get some sleep."
The next morning, Scully carried her bags out to the car. Mulder was waiting by the trunk, and he reached out to take her stuff from her. She leaned against the car and watched him.
"What?" he asked.
"Fox," she murmured. He stepped closer to her, reaching out his arms to encircle her waist. She leaned into him, her palms resting flat on his back. She bit back an almost imperceptible cry.
"I know," he whispered, resting his cheek on her hair. "I've been an asshole. I know that everything in our lives is deeply interwoven, and so I know that it's personal to you about Diana. I need you to know that I trust you completely, with every fiber of my being. I acted the way I did to try and draw Diana, and whoever she's working with, out. I figure the guys would have been so pissed at me, they'd make sure everyone knew how bad I was treating you, and that it would be enough to get Diana to make a mistake. There's nothing more than that. I promise you."
She looked up at him, biting her lip softly. They communicated with their eyes and he smiled, bending down to suckle her lip into his mouth. She smiled against his mouth, and he tugged her closer. They kissed slowly, and Dana moved her hands under his suit jacket.
"Ahem," Kiera coughed. When they didn't look up, she grinned and opened her backseat for Amara to climb in. She stood back up and cleared her throat again.
"Um, Mom, Dad, you're blocking me in."
They jumped apart, looking around guiltily. Scully swiped at her mouth to fix her smudged lipstick. Mulder rubbed his mouth and fiddled with his keys. When he broke into a grin, Kiera relaxed.
"I'll move the car after you guys gimme a hug."
Both girls went over to hug their parents. Kiera smiled and kissed Scully's cheek.
"Call us if you can."
"We will. Be good for your grandmother, and remember that you're going to her house this afternoon," Scully reminded.
Scully pushed her affectionately. "Get going. I don't want you to be late."
"Okay. Bye Mom."
"Be careful," Mulder warned, having just finished moving his car.
Dana settled on the floor in front of the TV Mulder had insisted on hooking up. He'd decided to go full out for her birthday, but was also doing this as a means of apologizing.
"Dinner is served, even as meager as it may be," Mulder grinned carrying a tray loaded with their dinner. She chuckled and sat up straighter, holding out her arms to grab the tray as he lowered himself down beside her.
"Meager my ass," she shot back, sitting back against him. He wrapped his arms around her shoulders and nibbled at her ear.
"Just shut up and eat your dinner," he grinned, licking her earlobe.
"Watch it, buster. I'm armed."
They smiled at each other softly, before looking away and reaching for their food. Mulder ran his fingers up her arm, causing her to smile again.
"I'll think about it," Scully smiled, turning to him and offering him a bite of her sandwich. He shook his head and ate his own dinner. She reached back to stroke his cheek. He leaned into her touch and his sigh sounded more like a purr. He did purr when her fingers traveled into his hair.
"That's nice," he murmured, leaving his food behind.
"Isn't it always?" she asked softly. He nodded into her ministrations. "Can we talk?" she whispered.
"Sure. Anything you want."
"Only if you want the same," she answered briefly. He nodded against her hand. "Okay, just listen for a while," she requested softly.
"She never forgave my dad," Fox murmured, his cheek pressed against my breast. I slowly ran my hands through his hair. "Sometimes I think she never forgave me. I've tried, Scully. I've tried so hard to find her."
"I know you have, Fox, I know," I whispered into his hair, "I've been with you all along."
He hiccupped slightly. "You've been wasting your life, your career, and your talents."
"I don't believe that. I'd do it all over again."
"How can you say that? How can you say that all this shit has been worth it?" he pulled away.
I touched his chin softly. "Because I still have you, Fox. I still have you and I still have Kiera, and Amara, and Emily."
"We'd have more kids if it weren't for me."
I shook my head, pulling his head down to my shoulder. "You don't know that. I don't know that. Besides, we wouldn't have Emily."
He hiccupped, "You're right."
"I always am, Fox," I smiled, kissing his forehead gently. "Why don't you get cleaned up and call the kids while I make some food. Kiera's bound to be worried."
He nodded, "I love you, Scully."
"Love you too," I whispered, kissing him softly.
Twenty minutes later I made my way into the bedroom and found Mulder curled up against the pillows on my side of the bed. He barely reacted when I settled beside him.
"Your mother loved you, Fox. It's okay to mourn."
He rolled toward me, wrapping his arms around my waist. I smiled, running my fingers lightly through his hair.
"You should leave me," he whispered, breaking the heavy silence, which had permeated the room since our frantic, orgasm-driven confessions of love. I felt him shift beside me, but his warm, labored breath never left my chest.
"No, Fox, I shouldn't," I answered just as softly, lightly scratching his scalp.
"Nobody else thinks I'm worth it, why should you?"
"Because I have a special advantage. I know you inside and out."
"I treat you like shit, Scully."
I laughed. "Yeah you do. But you also treat me like a goddess, and a wife, and an equal. Besides, I don't always treat you right either."
He shook his head. "You always treat me right. You give me faith."
"Then let me give you some now. No matter how she may have acted, your mother knew you were worth every minute of every day."
"We hardly let the kids see her. She never even met Emily," he murmured with regret. I shook my head. He looked up at me in surprise.
"During the time you were sick, right before I left for Africa." I explained. "While I was gone, she and my mom took care of the kids."
"Did she- did she say anything afterwards?" I felt a warm wetness fall on my breast and realized he was crying again. These tears though, these were happy tears.
"Just that she wanted to see more of them. And she was proud, because you've given us such a good home."
He hiccupped just then. "She hardly ever told me that she was proud."
"But she was. She may not have said it, but she was," I whispered. His breath hitched. "Let it out, it's okay."
Two Months later
"You're sure you won't come?"
"If this was just a trip to see our old stomping grounds, I might consider it. But crop circles?"
Mulder faced me from our bed. His suitcase lay atop it, partially full. He was still trying to convince me to come with him on a bogus trip to England.
"Besides," I continued, "my mother is gone, and I don't want to leave Kiera by herself with her sisters. Not in case he comes around again."
"It's not a bogus case, Scully," Mulder replied, reading my mind.
"Of course not," I sighed. "Are you even going to bother visiting Adrian's grave?"
He looked as if I'd slapped him. "You know I am," he answered softly, turning back to his clothes. After a moment of staring at his back, I stepped up behind him, touching his shoulder blades gently.
"I'm sorry, Fox, I shouldn't have said that."
He turned, wrapping his arms around me. I touched his Adams apple gently.
"I'd never go to England and not visit Adrian's grave. Will you please come with me?"
"I can't. We still don't know why Spender let me go, and I'm not going to risk him hurting the girls in an attempt to get to me, or to you."
"Alright," he relented. "I'll give her your love."
He kissed me softly, "I love you," he rested his forehead on mine.
"I love you too."
"I should finish packing."
"Yeah," I smiled, holding onto him tightly. He held me once again.
"I love you."
"You keep saying that. Methinks you're having second thoughts about going," I teased.
"Just because you're not with me," he squeezed me tightly. "But I do understand your reasons for not wanting to come. Just as long as that's all it is. You have been a little off lately."
"Just stress. Go on and finish packing," I pressed a kiss to his jaw.
He called me from the airport, his demeanor completely changed. I was back to being his errand girl. He wanted me to pick up some data sheets from a crop circle researcher. But my mind was on Daniel. Over ten years later and he still had that flustering effect on me.
"Scully? Are you there?"
"Yeah, I'm here."
"So you'll get them?"
"Yeah, sure, fine, whatever."
The Next Day
After being summoned to Daniel's bedside, and given the third degree by his daughter, I settled beside my former mentor, looking up at him, wondering what had caused us to cross paths again.
"Daniel... you didn't move here for me?" I asked my voice husky. He nodded slightly. I bit my lip, taking a deep breath, "Daniel, you've come at such a strange time."
"I know, I know. You-you have a life. A daughter, a husband."
"Three daughters, actually. And as for Fox, I don't know what I have. I mean..." I paused, knowing that his knowledge of my marital problems would only give him more steam, "your x-rays were in the wrong envelope. I never would have even known you were here if it wasn't for a mix-up. It's just..."
"What do you want, Dana?"
"I want everything I should want at this time of my life. I want everything I do have right now; we've been trying to have a little boy, but I've been diagnosed as barren, and I think he's finally realized that it's hopeless. I love Fox with all my heart, but...maybe I want the life I didn't choose."
"You're not happy?"
"I don't know, I used to be."
Hours later, well, many hours, alright, a day later, I was still sitting next to Daniel's prone body, watching as he floated in and out of consciousness.
He'd followed me. Even after leaving medicine, the hospital, his mentoring, and him. He'd told his wife it was over and come after me. Indirectly, I broke up his family. And maybe I was indirectly breaking up mine.
And yet, I was considering being with a man close to my father's age. Was he worth my marriage? Was my marriage even still there?
"Dana?" his voice was rough. I looked back up at him, reaching over to gently stroke the hair at his temple.
"Come back with me."
"Come back where?"
"Medicine, I need you."
"I-" the rest of my reply was cut off by my cell phone. One glance at the caller id told me it was Kiera's school.
"Hullo?" I answered, croaking slightly.
"Mom, it's me. I need to come home."
"Okay. I'll be there soon."
I squeezed Daniel's hand. "I need to go. Kiera's school just called," I murmured, not looking up at him. "I'll try to come back once I get her settled at home."
When there was no reply, I looked up. Daniel was unconscious once more.
When I got to the high school, Kiera was sitting in the office with her head in her hands. I touched her shoulder and knelt beside her.
"Kiera, what's wrong?"
She shook her head. "Can we just, go home?"
"Okay," I agreed.
She picked up her backpack, sliding it onto her shoulders. I lifted up her other bag and passed her crutches over to her. She was back to hobbling around, her injury from before Christmas was still bothering her. Eventually I'd dragged her to the doctor, who announced that surgery would be the best way to help prevent future damage and pain. She was currently lined up for a spring break operation, which was still about three weeks away.
Also because of her accident, her father and I had decided to take her license for no more than 6 months. I sighed, settling behind the wheel of my car and looking over at her in concern. She had curled up ineffectively against the door, covering her eyes with her fist.
"Are you in pain? Should this be a trip to the ER?"
"What is it?"
"Headache," she answered dismissively. I knew she was lying, but didn't push any further. Kiera's like her father in that sense, if something's bothering her, she'll tell eventually.
Kiera was silent for the rest of the drive back to the apartment we still owned in my name. When she saw where we were, she raised her head to ask what was going on.
"I'm expecting a call; you can lie down on my bed."
"I tried to call dad. His phone doesn't work."
"It never does when he's overseas. Can you tell me what's wrong?"
"Alright. Go on to sleep."
Twenty minutes later she hobbled into the living room and sat beside me, turning and placing her head in my lap. I ran my hands through her hair, scratching her scalp lightly.
"Why'd Daddy go to England?"
"He had a case, Kiera."
"Why didn't you go with him?"
"I heard you last night, Mom."
"Heard what, Kiera?" I asked, hoping like hell she wasn't talking about after I'd gone to sleep.
"You were talking about Doctor Waterston in your sleep last night," she replied, her tone accusatory.
"That makes sense, I saw him at the hospital on Saturday. He's sick."
"And you're married," she shot back, sitting up, her dark hair falling into her eyes. She swiped it away almost angrily.
"Kiera, I don't appreciate what you're implying."
"I don't appreciate you sleeping with other men while my father's gone!" she retorted, scrambling to her feet, pretending that she could stand without pain. Her words stung, but I colored when I realized that she was right. I had been ready to sleep with Daniel, both today and ten years ago.
When I made no attempt to dispute her claims, she hugged herself tightly and retreated into her room, the room which she and I had painted together.
What was I doing? Last time I nearly slept with Daniel, I'd been guilty. That guilt was what drove me to leave medicine. It hadn't been courage, or a way to distinguish myself. It was guilt, plain and simple. It was penance for a mistake, the same mistake I was about to make again.
One day later
He'd been angry at first. Angry that I hadn't told him, but mostly angry with himself for not realizing my unhappiness. We sat side by side on our leather couch; my feet were bare and nestled up against his.
"Fox. I'm sorry."
"I am too."
"I never slept with him, Fox."
"I can't say I didn't want to, though."
"I know," he repeated.
"I realize now, how stupid that desire was," I spared a glance up at him. "I only want to sleep with you."
He laughed shortly, pulling me closer and kissing me. Something in me snapped, and suddenly I was sobbing into his kiss.
"I'm so sorry, Fox. So, so, sorry."
He wiped my tears away softly. His mouth landed on my eyelids and he released me.
Biting my lip, I nodded. "You still want to be with me?"
He nodded, brushing a kiss over my nose. "I'll still want to be with you when we both have false teeth."
"I have to apologize to the girls. I've been making it up to them since then."
"Kiera was out of line for talking to you that way."
"But she was right. And she made me realize that," I settled my head against his shoulder. "You know, that wasn't the only thing I realized."
He got up suddenly, disappearing into the kitchen. I knew better than to follow him, I'd told him a lot, and he needed time to process it. When he returned, his eyes were suspiciously red, and his cheeks scrubbed to try and hide the tears. He handed me a mug of hot tea and settled back beside me. We sat together, sipping the tea in silence. After a few moments, he relaxed again beside me.
"I just find it hard to believe."
"What part?" I looked up at him expectantly.
"The part where I go away for two days and your whole life changes."
"Mmm, I didn't say my whole life changed."
"You speaking to God in a Buddhist temple. God speaking back."
"Mmm, and I didn't say that God spoke back. I said that I had some kind of a vision."
"Well, for you, that's like saying you're having David Crosby's baby."
I chuckled. At this point in time, I'd be happy just to have Fox Mulder's baby.
"What is it?"
"I once considered changing my whole life to spend it with this man. What I would have missed."
"I don't think you can know. I mean, how many different lives would we be leading if we made different choices. We... We don't know."
"What if there was only one choice and all the other ones were wrong? And there were signs along the way to pay attention to," I reached for his hand subtly.
"Mmm. And all the... choices would then lead to this very moment. One wrong turn, and... we wouldn't be sitting here together. Well, that says a lot. That says a lot, a lot, a lot. That's probably more than we should be getting into at this late hour."
I smiled in acceptance, knowing now where I needed to be.
The next thing I knew, Fox was standing over me, reaching down and lifting me up into his arms. I tried not to let him know I was awake, but was unable to stop myself from nuzzling closer into his arms.
"You're shameless," he murmured. "I'm too tired to start anything."
My body tingled. "Don't worry, I'll do the work."
Two months later
I opened my eyes to greet the morning, and instead was greeted with nausea. Groaning I closed my eyes and rolled over, only to find Emily beside me, concern coloring her eyes.
"Hi, honey. What's wrong?"
"Are you sick, Mommy?"
"A little, yeah. Don't worry. Come here."
Emily smiled, "I made breakfast for you, Mommy."
I slowly sat up holding out my arms to her. She carefully lifted the tray up onto my lap and crawled in beside me.
"This looks really good," I kissed her softly. "Thank you, Emily."
She sat with me as I ate slowly. Once I had finished, Emily looked up at me and smiled.
"Daddy said you'd like it."
"Daddy was right," I smiled. "Where is he?"
"He took Kiera to the store."
"Did Amara go with them?"
"No, she's still sleeping."
"Have you eaten?"
"Daddy made me toast sticks."
"Do you feel better now, Mommy?"
"Yes I do, because of your wonderful breakfast. Thank you," I squeezed her tightly. She murmured a familiar phrase in Russian, which I repeated, and kissed me before leaving. After making sure she'd carried the tray downstairs without incident, I set about getting dressed. Gripping the dresser, I had to breathe through another wave of nausea.
"Fox Mulder, I swear to God. If I'm-" I stopped my gentle muttering and ran to the toilet; losing the delicious breakfast my baby girl had cooked for me.
"I'm going to kill you, Fox."
Two days later we were called to Oregon. I had to cancel my appointment with the doctor to confirm my feelings. Which, more importantly, meant that I had to delay Mulder's execution for finally knocking me up again. The idea of another pregnancy was so foreign to me, that I'd only given him small hints, hoping maybe he'd catch on without my saying anything. Instead he seemed more concerned about the cancer coming back.
"You okay?" he asked, his hand covering mine from across the car. I squeezed his fingers, smiling. After crawling into bed beside him last night, my chills and my worries had ceased.
"Yeah, I've got a surprise. At least I hope I do."
"What is it?"
I reached over and stroked his cheek. "Tell you when we get home."
He kissed my palm. "I'm looking forward to it."
The reality of this pregnancy, while no longer a shock, was overshadowed by the Gunmen's news that Mulder was gone.
Instead of getting better, my day got worse when Kiera came rushing in, her best friend Mila hot on her heels. I noticed that she was limping again; her surgery had been successful, and physical therapy was going well, but she still wasn't cleared for sprinting or other strenuous things, and I knew this couldn't be good for her. Skinner was still seated beside me, but she ignored him as she ran to my side, her arms reaching out for me.
"Are you okay?" her voice was muffled by my shoulder. "Byers wouldn't tell me anything, and he called in the middle of our chem. final, and he sounded so upset, and since Mila's the only one you trust to drive me anywhere with my knee she had to leave too, and so now we're both screwed with D.P," she took a deep breath, "you're okay, right?"
"I'm okay, Kiera," I patted her shoulder. "I just haven't been taking care of myself."
"Where's daddy?" she finally focused on her father's absence. Her eyes narrowed when they landed on Skinner's pale, shocked face.
"Kiera," I took her hand. "Sit down. Mila, come in and sit down, too."
Kiera's best friend quietly took the seat by the door, smiling slightly at me.
"Mom, what's going on?"
"Kiera, this is AD Skinner. Kiera, this is your dad's and my boss. Your dad isn't here because," I blinked, biting my lip and squeezing her hand, "he's gone missing."
"What do you mean missing?"
I stroked her hair back from her forehead. "He and Skinner went back to Oregon last night and he disappeared."
Kiera's jaw set, "What happened?" she directed to Skinner.
"What do you mean?"
"Why weren't you watching his back? He trusted you and you didn't watch his back," she accused, moving closer to him. Mila stood up, coming to my side and touching Kiera's shoulder, effectively stopping her progress.
"Kiera, Kiera, no," I grabbed her other hand. "It's not Skinner's fault. I know you're upset, but he's not the one to blame," I told her, trying to keep my voice soothing. Mila squeezed Kiera's shoulder and nodded her head to indicate that she would be outside.
"Why does he always disappear, Mom? He's always getting hurt. Why?" Kiera whispered.
"You know your dad didn't do this because he wanted to, Kiera. Sometimes our work, sometimes the people your dad pisses off get really upset and want to hurt us. This is one of those times."
Kiera turned her face into my neck. I looked away, resting my cheek on her hair. "He'll be back. We're gonna find him."
"Scully, can we talk?" Skinner asked, his eyes wide from behind his glasses.
I nodded, "Can you do me a favor?" I asked Kiera. She nodded, "Go call your grandma. I won't be able to get Emily and Amara."
"Okay," she took a deep breath. I kissed her forehead before releasing her.
Once she was gone, I looked down at my hands before turning to Skinner.
"Is she adopted?"
I snorted. "After nineteen hours of labor, hell no, she's not adopted."
"So, you and Mulder...? Since...?"
"1982," I supplied. "Well, we'd known each other long before Kiera came along. We met in 1973 after Samantha's abduction."
"Married since 1982."
"You've lied to the bureau all this time?"
"We've never lied. They could have found out anything they wanted. There are records of birth in both the United Kingdom and the US, there's a British marriage license. There are deeds to our house. Nobody ever bothered to check. Or to ask," I smiled slightly. "I take that back, Wayne Federman did have the balls to ask."
Skinner chuckled. He took off his glasses, cleaning them with short efficient strokes before replacing them on his face.
"Wait," he started, confusion in his eyes again, "your apartments-"
"My sister was killed in my apartment, and Mulder's building has had multiple shootings there. Why would we raise children in those environments?"
"Who are Amara and Emily?"
"While I was at Quantico, we had Amara. She's nine. And Emily, well, she's a consequence of my being on the X-Files. She was created from harvested ova. She was sick when I tried to adopt her in 1997, and her death was faked after someone blocked me from being able to do so. Alex Krycek," I stopped, nearly spitting his name, "took her and cured her of her illness, and then returned her to us a year later."
I watched as Skinner's eyes went wide. "God, Scully, you're raising three children, and you're having another one?"
I nodded. "We've been trying for a while. We tried in vitro last year, but that didn't work."
Skinner reached out to touch my hand. "I'm going to find him."
"WE will find him," I asserted again.
Kiera pushed open the door, crossing over to grab my hand. I squeezed her knuckles.
"Can we have a minute, sir?"
Skinner nodded and silently slipped from the room. I waited until he was gone to sit up completely. As I swung my legs over the side of the bed, I took Kiera's other hand.
"Mom? Is something wrong? Yo-you're not sick again are you?"
"Well, I am in a way. But it's a good way."
"What do you mean?"
"I know your daddy would have wanted to be here to hear this, but you're so much like him I feel like he's still here. I'm pregnant, Kiera. You're going to have a brother."
I waited while she processed everything. I saw her eyes dart from our joined hands to my flat stomach.
"I'm...why?" she asked finally.
I knew she was still upset about Daniel, and about Fox's quick forgiveness of my indiscretions, but she couldn't think I had gotten pregnant to save my marriage? Or worse yet, she couldn't think that this child wasn't her father's?
"Your dad and I have wanted another baby for years."
"Sometimes God works in mysterious ways. We didn't expect this to happen. But I know your dad would be happy."
She nodded slowly. "Are you okay?"
"As far as I know, yes I am. But, I am going to need your help. I don't want to shut you out, Kiera, please don't shut me out. I know I messed up, but everyone makes mistakes. I need you now, Kiera. Will you help me?"
After a moment, she nodded. Her arms came around my shoulders and I bit back my tears until she whispered,
"I forgive you, and I'll help you." Chapter 15
Almost three months later
I was in the study, pouring over my notes from the latest case Agent Doggett and I had been out on, as well as the latest intelligence on Mulder's possible whereabouts when Kiera sauntered into the room.
She settled down next to me on the couch and sighed. I looked over at her briefly, turning the page on my report.
"What's wrong?" I asked, after she hadn't said a word. I touched her shoulder with one hand and used the other to take off my glasses and rest my hand on my growing belly.
"I was in the attic, looking through some of your and Daddy's stuff from Oxford," Kiera paused and I felt my stomach sink. "Mom, did, who's Adrian?"
I thought for a moment, searched for the right words. "Kiera, Adrian was your sister. Your twin."
"What?" Kiera's eyes widened. "You're joking with me."
"She died when you were both very young."
"SIDS; Sudden Infant Death Syndrome."
"What happened?" Kiera asked, her eyebrows still wrinkled in confusion.
"You were older than her by 2 and a half minutes. You were both perfectly healthy, Adrian was a little smaller than you, not that you were very large as it was. You were both fine, and then Daddy and I went out one night, our first night out in months, because I'd been practically sentenced to bed rest in the last month of pregnancy. When we got home, there were paramedics coming in and out of our building. I found your Grandma, and she told me what happened. She'd put you both down for the night, and when she came in to check on you about an hour later, Adrian wasn't breathing. She tried to revive her while she called the medics, and then they tried to revive her, but she was already gone."
I wiped my eyes, resting a hand over my lips to avoid looking at Kiera. When I finally did gain enough courage to look, her gaze was elsewhere.
"Why didn't you ever tell me? Why didn't I know?"
"Your dad and I thought it would be best if we waited to tell you when you were old enough to understand, and then when we considered it, we knew it was something even we didn't understand, and couldn't do that to you."
"I should have known."
"I know. We should have told you about her. We shouldn't have hidden her from you. And I'm sorry, Kiera."
"No, I should have known. She was my sister, my twin. Aren't twins supposed to have a special 'thing' a bond or something? I should be able to remember her!"
"Kiera, you were four months old when she died. You could barely hold your head up, let alone acknowledge your sister. No one expects you to have known her."
"I should have, though," Kiera insisted. I wrapped an arm around her shoulders, guiding her head to my shoulder. She turned her face into my shirt and sighed.
"Things weren't very happy for a while after she died. I shut down, and went around basically on autopilot. I thought your dad was going to leave me it got so bad. But you made it bearable, and although it wasn't a fun way to go about things, we all managed to get through it," I murmured. "We wanted to protect you, and ourselves, from having to go through it again. That was why we waited so long to have Amara; that was why we never told you."
"I don't blame you," she sighed softly.
"Would you like to see pictures of her?" I found myself asking.
"Yeah, I'd really like that."
I smiled slightly, "Okay. Let me finish up this report and then I'll meet you upstairs."
"Okay. Come get me, please."
"I will," I promised, returning her affectionate kiss on the cheek. Kiera grabbed tissues for us both from the box on my desk. In tandem we both blew our noses before bursting out laughing.
"I'll be there in a few minutes."
"'Kay," she left just as quietly as she'd come, leaving me sitting in on the couch, stunned. I raised my eyes to the heavens.
"You better get your ass back here soon, Fox, this is hard enough without you, I'm not bringing another child into this world..." my threat fell on an empty room, making me sigh.
Despite the melancholy subject of looking through the few mementos of Adrian that I had, Kiera and I found ourselves laughing more than we cried. Maybe that was her intent, to keep her poor pregnant mother from having a complete breakdown.
"You know, your father's organization system leaves a lot to be desired," I groused, pulling out yet another unorganized stack of photos. Well, to his credit, we had just put the box in the back of our closet when we moved in and not had the time to go through it. Picture after picture was either the twins, or the four of us, or some combination thereof. I showed them all to Kiera, not wanting her to miss out on anything. After each stack she'd ask me questions, and I'd do my best to help her understand.
Another stack of pictures revealed pictures of me during my first pregnancy. I rolled my eyes. "I remember these. Your father and grandmother must have spent hundreds of dollars on film development."
She took the stack, "Wow. You were huge."
"Gee, thanks," I grinned. "Half of that was you, so I'd shut my trap," I bumped her gently. She laughed.
"Yeah, me, Adrian, and a crap-full of amniotic fluid."
She looked at another picture and groaned. "Moooommm."
I looked; it was the obligatory 'child running naked' picture. "What?"
"Did anything change, I mean, did I change after she died?"
"In a way. You were more subdued during baths, and bedtime rituals, and feedings. You wanted to be held a lot more, didn't like to be left alone. When you got older, and began to develop your own personality, a lot of it spilled over to who you are now."
"I'm glad. I didn't just want to forget about her."
I nodded, not wanting to say much more.
"She's buried in England, right?"
"I'd like to go see her. Aunt Deirdre is always asking when I'm going to come see her, maybe I should go now."
"Please, Mom. I need to do this."
"All right. I'll make the call to your Aunt tomorrow. It'll probably be Friday before we can go; I have to make sure Grandma can stay with Emily and Amara, and put in for leave."
"Okay," she agreed, fingering a snapshot of her father cradling both her and Adrian.
"How did you find out? I mean, I know you were in the attic, but why?"
Kiera grinned sheepishly. "I was looking for some of your clothes. I figured since we should probably be saving up for the baby and in case..." she trailed off, but I heard her underlying message; in case Mulder never came back. "Anyway, I didn't wanna go out and buy some new clothes, when I figured you had to have some packed away."
"So you were looking for my old clothes."
"Well, I can't exactly wear your clothes right now," she grinned cheekily.
"Watch yourself, missy," I warned.
"Daddy keeps a journal, did you know that?"
I nodded, "He has for a long time."
"I didn't read it all, just a few parts. I was curious."
"You, curious? Never." I teased.
"He was really happy you came to England with him."
"I know that," I shifted to a more comfortable position, looking at more pictures, smiling at the memories they brought forth. Kiera nudged me softly, holding up my mother's clandestine picture of an, ahem, private moment at Fox's high school graduation party and wiggling her eyebrows.
"Shut up," I sighed dramatically. "What else did you read?"
"His birthday, Mom?" Kiera's voice was smug.
I felt my face burn. "None of your business."
"He really proposed at Christmas?"
"With my entire family, and about ten family friends sitting in the living room watching 'It's a Wonderful Life'," I replied, sitting back against the pillows. "Got down on one knee and everything."
"He wouldn't have left you, after Adrian died, Mom. He said so," When I didn't respond, Kiera faked a yawn. "I'm going to go on to bed. Mila's going to be here early tomorrow; we have a National Honor Society meeting."
"In the summer?"
"The joys of being an officer."
"I'll take you."
"Its okay, Mom. You need to go clear things with Skinner," Kiera kissed my cheek, sliding off the bed. She turned to leave, and then whirled back around. "Can I have one of the pictures? Of me and Adrian?"
She looked back through and took the picture she wanted. Then she cleared the bed of the rest of the pictures, only pausing to leave one face down on my bedside table. I smiled, thanking her quietly for saving me the effort.
Three Days later, Kiera and I were on a plane. She was quiet again, more nervous and contemplative about the flight than I was, and I hate flying.
"You'll be okay."
"When was the last time we were here?"
"You were about four."
"We went to see her then, didn't we?"
"What made you choose Aunt Deirdre as my godmother?" Kiera asked, taking a sip of her coke.
"She was one of the only adults that your daddy and I were close to. She was my high school advisor, and my freshman English professor. She was one of the people we confided in when we found out that I was pregnant with you and Adrian."
Kiera nodded. "Wait."
I looked up from my book; one of my hands brushed my stomach quickly. "Hmm?"
"If you and Daddy were married in March, and we were born in July, then..." Kiera trailed off. "Mom!"
I blushed. "Nobody else bought the "premature" excuse either."
"Wow, that's... wow. I never expected that."
"What did you expect when you read about Adrian?"
"I don't know. I thought maybe you'd had a baby before me that you gave up or something."
"That was something we never considered."
"Because I knew in my heart what was right. Giving up a part of us wasn't an option."
Kiera nodded. "Okay."
We spent most of the rest of the flight either walking around or sleeping. Part of me was relieved; Kiera's inquisitiveness can sometimes be a curse instead of a blessing. I wasn't used to being asked about all the parts of my life that I'd previously kept private.
When we finally got off the plane, Kiera looked around, a bit lost. I pulled my carry on bag higher up onto my shoulder and nodded my head in the direction that baggage claim and Deirdre were waiting.
Deirdre was seated in a cushy chair in the commons area. She stood when she saw us, her smile bright amongst her dark hair.
"Dana, you look wonderful," she indulged, giving me a hug before looking me over with a motherly eye. "How are you feeling?"
"Better now that the morning sickness is mostly gone."
"You're beautiful," she assured, extending her warm embrace to her goddaughter. Kiera looked slightly less comfortable than me, but soon relaxed in Deirdre's easy presence.
"I had intended to take you around to sightsee, and do all those things you Americans love, but you both look tired. Maybe we should go back to my flat so you can take a short nap?"
"That sounds good." Kiera agreed quietly.
Turns out that I slept through lunch, dinner, and most of the night. When I woke up it was still dark, but my stomach growled eagerly for some food. I padded into the kitchen and found the makings for a sandwich. As my bread was toasting, I heard soft snores coming from the main room.
Kiera and Deirdre were sound asleep on opposite ends of the couch; and an old, and very bad, sci-fi movie was on the TV. I smiled, draping a blanket around them and returning to the kitchen. As I ate, Deirdre came wandering in, yawning and rubbing her eyes.
"Rather late for a five course meal, Dana."
"Baby said eat, I must obey."
"Tell me about this," she requested, pointing to my stomach.
"I forgot how straightforward you are."
"Yeah, I guess I am."
"Fox is still gone?"
I nodded. "He doesn't know. It's getting harder and harder to hide at work."
"Why would you have to hide it?"
"They don't know that Fox and I are married. Nor do they know about us having children, or even us having a dog together."
"While they allow married couples to work together, it's generally frowned upon. Favoritism and professionalism and all that."
"Hogwash. And you're off subject."
"You put me there. I'm not very confident..."
"If this baby will be healthy. I'm high risk because of my age, medical history, and profession. And my husband is missing. I can't just let him stay that way. What if this baby..."
"You mean what if you're forced to choose between the two?"
I nodded. "I know that I could do all of this without him, send Kiera to college, raise Amara and Emily, and have this baby... but I shouldn't have to."
"When are you due?"
"I'll be there to help you. Even with your mother there, you'll need more help."
"Thank you. I-Kiera's trying to be as mature as she can be, but she's just a teenager. She doesn't deserve to have to deal with her neurotic, pregnant, basket case of a mother."
"Which are you more afraid of? Fox never coming back or there being a problem with his child?"
"It's our last chance to have a little boy. I don't know if I'll be able to look Fox in the eye and tell him that I did something wrong and it cost us our son."
Deirdre patted my hand. "It's going to be okay, Dana."
I looked down at my food. "I hope so."
"Come now. Go on to bed."
Much to my amusement, Deirdre tucked me in like a child, even going so far as to kiss my forehead.
The next day, after Deirdre had walked to a cafe for a tutoring session, Kiera and I took her car to pay a visit to the cemetery.
As we neared Adrian's grave, Kiera's hand reached out for mine. I looked over at her, squeezing her hand gently.
"I want to say hi, but then I'll leave you alone."
We both knelt down on the grass, and I settled a pair of pink roses down by Adrian's headstone.
"Hi, honey. It's me. I'm sorry it's been so long since I came to see you. Daddy said that he came to see you back in April," I stopped, biting my lip. "Daddy's not with me today. But I brought Kiera this time. I'm going to go see if there's anything I have to do to make sure they keep taking care of you here, and Kiera's going to stay for a while."
I squeezed Kiera's hand, and staggered back to my feet. Kiera looked up at me, and then back down at the ground that her sister lay beneath.
"Hi," she whispered, one hand reaching out to trace her sister's name. Unable to watch, I spun on my heel and practically ran to the cemetery caretaker's office.
When I finally worked up the courage to return, Kiera's head was buried in her knees. She sniffled and looked up at me, hurriedly swiping her tears from her face. I touched her head.
"It's okay to cry."
"I feel so guilty, Mom."
Settling beside her, I tugged her head to my shoulder. "Why?"
"Because I know I loved being an only child too much. All that time I had a sister who died before she even really got to live, but I really just wanted to be an only child."
I nodded, knowing that I couldn't ease her guilt. I'd gone through that myself; the guilt of not doing enough, not loving enough, not knowing enough.
We sat there in silence until the first drops of rain splattered down on my face. I turned and kissed Kiera's hair. "We should go."
"Okay," Kiera's voice was quiet. "I'm sorry, Adrian."
She stood up, making her way toward the car. I turned back to Adrian's headstone. "I love you, sweetheart. We all do. Never forget that."
I wiped my eyes and stood, trying to ignore how woozy I was feeling. As I took a step backwards away from Adrian, I was dimly aware of my knees buckling.
And then there was blackness.
Four hours later
"Hi, Mom. How are you feeling?"
I blinked, focusing tiredly on Kiera's face. Quickly, my hand strayed to my abdomen. The cramping had stopped, I was okay. I was still pregnant.
"Tired. Thirsty. You?" I raised my head to accept some proffered ice chips.
"You scared me," Kiera admitted. She settled her head on my bed, next to my shoulder.
"Don't be scared. I'm okay. The baby's going to be okay."
"I wish Daddy was here."
"I do too."
"They won't tell me what happened."
"Your brother is demanding. He decided I wasn't taking good enough care of myself. I think it was the flight."
"Is it really a boy?"
"I think so."
After a few minutes, she sat up.
"What am I going to do?"
"Your Aunt's going to take you home and we're going to stay here until I'm cleared to fly home."
"I can't stay with you?"
"Not tonight, honey. They only let you stay this long because I know the ER doctor who admitted me."
"You know her?"
I nodded. "She was the doctor who did the pregnancy test and told us about you and Adrian."
"Does she remember you?"
"I don't know. But you'll be okay with Aunt Deirdre."
"I'll just worry about you all night. You should just let me stay."
"Nice try. Let your godmother take you home, get a pizza and my calling card and call one of your friends. Spend some time processing everything."
"I don't want you to be alone."
"I've got time to bond with your brother, it's alright."
"How do you bond with a fetus, Mom? Honestly."
"In ways you'll never find out."
We both giggled.
"I'm alright tonight, Kiera. Go home and call Elijah, or is it Ian?"
"Neither. I'll just stick to calling Mila."
"Good. Boys are stupid," I grinned.
"Interesting thing to say, Mom, with baby number 5 on the way," Kiera giggled. "I miss those weekends."
"See? I'm okay. I can joke and laugh. And stand up, walk around, and go pee on my own. I just need to rest and make sure my blood sugar is up, and my bp is down."
Kiera bit her lip. "Okay, but if you need anything, you call. I'll boost Aunt Deidre's car if I have to, I'll come."
"Kiera Ann, you'll do nothing of the sort!" Deirdre exclaimed in her best "stereotypical brit" voice.
I laughed softly as Kiera's jaw dropped in shock.
"Ho-ly crap. I forgot that you knew my full name," Kiera replied, stunned. She quickly grinned and turned, giving me a soft peck as goodbye. Deirdre watched in amusement as Kiera left the room and stood guard at the door.
"Will you be alright?"
I felt my eyes roll. "Deirdre, I lived here for over 5 years, I'll be fine overnight. They've assured me that the baby is fine, and that I'm fine."
Deirdre grinned, leaning down to kiss my forehead. "And they get it from Fox?"
"Such language around your child, Dana."
"Get some rest," Deirdre kissed my cheek. "I'll take good care of her, don't worry."
"I know you will."
Two and a half hours later I awoke bathed in sweat.
"Mulder," I murmured. I reached over to the wall beside my bed, and grabbed the phone. The hospital operator prompted me for who I'd like to call, and after a moment I spoke.
"I need to talk to Assistant Director Skinner with the FBI in Washington, DC."
I was patched through the main bureau switchboard, and after a few minutes, was greeted by Kim's soft voice.
"Kim, this is Agent Scully. Is he in?"
I waited until Skinner had picked up.
"Is he there?"
"Who? Agent Doggett? He's in my office right now."
"Mulder, is he there?"
"No, Scully," Skinner's voice grew softer. "He's not here. Are you alright?"
"I had a dream," I admitted. "I'm sorry to call and bother you."
"Where are you, Scully?"
"A hospital in South England."
"Are you alright?"
"I am now, don't worry."
"Scully, I'm flying out there. Which hospital are you in?"
"Sir, no. I'm fine. I'm out here with Kiera and it's really a personal matter."
"Well, it just became a bureau matter."
"Frohike just handed me a report. I think we've found him."
"What do you mean? Where is he?"
My eyes widened as Skinner read off the location. Fox was so close. I had to be the one to find him.
"I'm less than an hour from there. I'll go. We can't wait for you to get here. He could be seriously injured. I'm going to go," I insisted, trying to convince him without even taking a breath.
"Scully, you're in the hospital for a reason I presume. You're not going anywhere. That's an order."
"With all due respect, Walter," I stressed his given name to remind him of the personal necessity of this case, "I'm going. I love my husband too much to sit here and wait and hope that he'll be okay. I'll call you after I find him."
I slammed the phone down, taking the opportunity to throw the covers off and search for my clothes.
"You're gonna be okay," I murmured, though I wasn't sure whom I was taking to.
The nurse on duty pitched a royal fit when I said I was checking myself out. She even called the doctor who had admitted me, who also moaned bloody murder, but then after a few hundred flashes of my badge they signed me out AMA.
I caught a cab and hurriedly directed them to the area that Skinner had said. When I got there almost an hour later, the townspeople were more than willing to tell me where he was. Apparently, despite the number of crop circles that were always popping up, a huge honkin' UFO making a stop wasn't very common.
Resting my hand on my unborn child, I took a deep breath.
"You're okay, little one. We're going to bring your daddy home."
After a brief moment, I tore from the cab, running to the field where people had said that the ship had landed. My eyes widened when I saw Mulder huddled with about 15 other people, his arms shielding a child from the wind and the whipping motion of the tall grass.
"Mulder!" I dropped to my knees, my hands reaching out for him, though mindful of the child sleeping in his grasp. Greedily, I stroked his cheeks and kissed his face with relief. He didn't appear to be injured. My arms encircled him completely, cradling his head to my shoulder. I could feel one of us shaking, and despite the lack of clothes he was wearing, I knew it was me.
"Mulder, are you hurt? Do you know who I am? Can you talk?"
"If you'd let me get a word in edgewise, I could," he murmured back, his voice low and sarcastic and possibly the most beautiful sound I've ever heard.
My laugh came out as a barking sob. After a quick look down at his young charge, Mulder passed him to the arms of another and turned back to me. For the next however many minutes, we crouched on the ground holding each other, and in my case crying.
"You're home," I murmured, kissing his ear. "You're finally home."
"Ma'am, we received a call. Is there an emergency here?"
Keeping one hand on Fox, as if to assure myself that he wouldn't disappear, I looked up at the paramedic.
"These people need a hospital. They've been missing for nearly three months."
The medic nodded, motioning to his companions, who began to help each of the nearly naked people to the ambulance. Fox let me lead him to the least crowded part of the makeshift triage area and submitted himself to a cursory medical exam. I however, held tightly to his hand, keeping his knuckles pressed against my little "baby belly".
After a moment, realization dawned and he looked over at me, eyes wide. "That was the surprise."
A small smile passed his lips. "It's good, right?"
"Yeah. It's more than that."
His lips found my forehead.
"Not that I'm upset or anything, but why are you here?"
"It's a long story."
He nodded, thanking the medic when she was finished with his exam, and jumping off the back of the trunk. As I started to lift myself down, he stopped me, instead wrapping his arms around my waist.
"Tell me. I've got time."
Two hours later we pulled up to the curb in front of Deirdre's flat. I smiled softly, tiredly, the adrenaline of the day wearing off.
"Are you okay?"
"Yes. I'm okay. Just tired."
Despite him being the one who had just returned from an outer space jaunt, he led me to the elevator. With a smile, I looked at him, and then down at the child clutching his hand.
"Are you okay, sweetheart?"
Rylee nodded. I brushed his hair back away from his face. "Your mommy and daddy will be here tomorrow to get you."
Fox's long fingers wrapped around my wrist. The wrist where my hospital bracelet was still hanging.
"You were in the hospital?"
"I fainted. My blood pressure was a little high and I was cramping."
"You're okay, though?"
"I feel fine again. I checked out AMA because I knew you were close and I couldn't wait for Skinner and my temporary partner to come and find you."
His eyes were still worried, but he said nothing in front of Rylee. Instead his free arm tugged me into his chest. My arms wound around his shoulders, and I buried my face in the hospital scrub top he'd been given. He kissed my hairline.
"I'd forgotten how little you are," he murmured, ignoring Rylee's giggle. "You're always so commanding."
My lips pressed against his shoulder in response.
"The elevator stopped."
He nodded, but made little effort to move. I was the first to pull away.
"I should be sitting down."
"Are you okay?" he asked, bending to collect his sleepy charge.
"Just need to make sure gravity doesn't do what nature shouldn't. They said to keep off my feet."
"Okay," he nodded reluctantly. I felt one of this fingers slide through my belt loop.
I knocked lightly on Deirdre's door, reaching back with my left hand and feeling better when he returned my light squeeze.
"Dana, what in God's name are you doing here?!" Deirdre demanded, opening the door tiredly. Her eyes widened when she saw who was behind me.
"I found him," I smiled, squeezing his hand again.
Deirdre ran back to the guest room shaking Kiera awake while Mulder settled me on the couch and he and Rylee fussed over me. Kiera ran into the room, bleary-eyed and crying.
I bit my lip, trying not to cry as I watched Kiera hold onto her father.
After hugging Mulder hello, Deirdre took Rylee to the guest room and tucked him into bed while the three of us sat in the living room.
"I heard that you saw Adrian," Mulder murmured, stroking a hand over Kiera's hair. "Pretty weird, huh?"
"Yeah. I thought all sorts of weird things; that you and mom had had a baby before me, that Adrian had been another girl, a dog, everything, anything. I didn't expect a twin."
Mulder nodded, looking up at me as he held onto Kiera tighter. "You should sleep, Dana."
"I'm okay. I need to call home. Let mom prepare Amara and Emily to see you when we go home."
Mulder nodded, reaching out his hand for me to grab.
Two weeks later
"Mmm, good morning."
He looked up at me, shifting his paper and laying it down on the table. His eyes closed briefly, and then he returned his gaze to me.
"Mmm hmm," I replied, sliding into his lap. He slipped an arm up my back, holding me tightly. I kissed his temple.
"Are you okay? You're quiet."
"Enjoying being home. Liked sleeping with my wife in my own bed last night, and liking reading a newspaper."
Hiding a yawn in his neck, I hummed. "You could still be sleeping with me, you know."
"I figured you'd want your rest. I went for a run. Babies like sleep, but not running usually."
I sniggered, kissing his chin.
"Is she okay?"
"She was at the airport with Deirdre. Didn't want to leave."
I nodded. Deirdre had allowed Kiera to stay with her past the end of our vacation, while Fox and I went back to the states, since my leave time was up. She'd been gone for two weeks, and part of me was worried about what trouble she had conned Deirdre into letting her get into.
"Sends her love to you and the fetus."
"She's a real comedian," I murmured sarcastically. When he didn't respond I left his embrace and moved to the fridge for some orange juice. When I returned I took the seat across from him.
"So, Dr. Scully. Am I clear to go pick up Kiera from the airport?"
"I don't know, maybe you should come here and let me make sure," I beckoned him close. "I've got to check your stamina and cardio fitness."
"Be serious, Scully."
I straightened up. "Yeah, you're okay. Kiera will be happy to see you."
When he only nodded, I sighed softly.
"I'm going to get dressed."
As I walked past him, his hand shot out to grab mine. After a deep breath I glanced down at him, unable to stay mad, despite his indifference.
"You need any help?" he asked, his eyes bright.
"I think I've got it for now, thanks," I replied, more snappishly than I'd meant to. He blinked and looked down at our hands.
"It's okay. I'm sorry for pushing you. You can spend as much or as little time with me as you want. This is your life too. I'm just grateful that you're home and safe," I briefly hugged his shoulders, letting his breath warm my belly.
"'Mere," he murmured, tugging me into a loose embrace, where I was practically on his lap. His hands reached up for my cheeks, causing me to blink away hormone-induced tears.
"I really don't want to push you."
"And I don't want to push you away," he promised, resting his cheek on my collar bone. "I just need to get used to being home and doing all the things that that entails before I take on more. Okay?"
"That makes sense."
"Come sit with me."
"I was talking to my kid," he grinned. I stood, taking his hand and leading him to the living room. We curled up together, his head resting on my chest and his big hands holding my belly gently.
"I like being home," he murmured.
"I think we all do," I replied, lightly scratching his scalp.
After a moment he shifted, "When they weren't testing us, I thought a lot about you. About why we were still pretending for the bureau's sake. Practically everyone who we were hiding from already knew. That much I'd heard when I was in the padded room last year."
"We did it to keep the kids safe."
"I know. But now we can keep them safe without keeping them secret."
"What do you mean?" I asked, puzzled by his cryptic statements.
Fox turned, smiling at the still joyful looks his youngest children were bestowing upon him. We separated reluctantly, and Emily rushed into her father's arms.
"Daddy, you're here!"
"Come see my room, Daddy, its clean!"
"I saw it yesterday, Emily."
"See it again!"
"Come look at my computer, Daddy!" Amara added, grabbing his other hand.
Fox stood, leaning over and kissing me quickly. "Duty calls."
We both touched my belly. "You wear it well."
"What'd you mean?"
"Hum?" he asked, idly stroking my hair as he thumbed through a novel he'd been reading before his abduction.
I snuggled closer against his chest, my arm wrapping around his waist. I felt his lips press absently against my forehead.
"When you said we could keep them safe without them being a secret?"
His fingers stopped their gentle dance in my hair and his arm lowered to wrap around me. When he didn't answer for nearly ten minutes, I reached up, taking the hand which held the book.
"Tell me, Fox."
"They only released us because I killed their high council. I killed them with my bare hands. I would have killed them all if they hadn't agreed to return us, to leave us alone. They agreed to leave our families alone. They agreed to take their intergalactic battle someplace else, to leave Earth alone."
I looked up at him as he took a shuddering breath.
"Fox, you saved lives."
"And I took them too. I don't like having so much blood on my hands."
I shifted, reaching up and taking his face with my palm. I raised my head, kissing him softly.
"You did what you needed to, Fox. They were using you to win their own war. They deserved what they got. You did the right thing. You brought yourself home, you brought Rylee home. You prevented any harm from coming to this baby. Isn't that worth it?"
After a moment he nodded, and kissing his mouth softly, I smiled. He grinned back, taking my face in his palms and kissing me again softly.
"Welcome home," I whispered, surrendering into his embrace.
Four and a half months later
"Yes, he is," Fox responded, never taking his eyes off of his newborn son. His hands shook as he turned our baby over to me.
"What are we going to call him?"
"Brayden, it means brave."
"I'll agree to that only if you don't follow that up with Fox," he warned, running his hand first up my arm, and then over Brayden's fingers as the baby nursed.
"I don't know, I might."
"C'mon, Dana. I know you wouldn't curse the poor kid with two goofy names."
"Brayden is Gaelic. It's part of his heritage. And Fox is a family name, which I like, by the way."
"William, then. As a compromise."
"I'll think about it," I giggled softly, looking down at my son and his frantic, piglet-like snuffles as he searched for more than just colostrum.
"Hey, don't you go and do anything like the dual middle name, now. I can see it in your eyes."
"What's wrong with Brayden William Fox?" I asked, running a finger over Brayden's tiny arches.
"Besides him being about 'this big', and having a name that's 'this big?" Fox demonstrated with his hands.
"I want him to have some part of you," I closed my eyes, sighing softly. I felt Fox's lips on my forehead.
"I know. If you want him to be Brayden Fox, or even Brayden William, it's up to you. Okay?"
I accepted his gentle, chaste kiss, before raising our now sleeping son to my shoulder. Fox's hand joined mine in patting a burp out of him.
After a minute, his hand slowed, and lowered to rest against Brayden's back. We both sat in silence, feeling the pounding of his strong, yet tiny heart.
"Welcome to the world, Brayden."
Three Hours Later
I looked up from my study of my newborn son to see my husband one-handedly pushing open the door. I saw my mom standing a few steps behind him, her grin larger than life as she held Emily.
"Whatcha got there?"
"Thanksgiving Dinner. Your entire family hand delivered it. I think your mom is hoping that if she bribes us with food, we'll let her see her newest grandson."
I smiled, not wanting to risk waking the baby by laughing. Brayden's hands were clutching my hospital gown in his sleep, and I bent, pressing a soft kiss to his still red cheek.
"I am kinda hungry."
"You should be. You did a lot of work today."
I shrugged one shoulder nonchalantly, smiling. "Eh, you know. Just another day at the office."
He kissed me softly, pressing his mouth to my temple and smiling. I offered Brayden to him, brushing my hand over my son's soft, bald head.
"Now hand me that plate," I smiled.
I squinted, looking through the dark at my clock on my bedside table. It was 2:45 in the morning. I'd been asleep since Brayden's last feeding, only an hour ago.
"I need you to come get me, I'm well..."
Groaning, I turned on the lamp and sat up, running a hand over my face to try and clear the sleepiness.
"Spit it out Kiera, it's almost three AM."
"I'm in jail."
"Excuse me?" I was instantly alert.
"Yeah. Me, Mila, Cora, and Syeira were leaving this club we were at, and there was a drug bust, and they arrested everybody."
"We're on our way," I promised. "Well, soon as I wake your dad."
I hung up, leaning over and shaking my husband awake. "Mulder. Mulder, wake up."
"Mmm, Shuddup and go to sleep, Scully."
"Well, I'd love to, but your daughter is in the drunk tank right about now, and unless you want her to stay there, I'm not going on my own."
"Emily's in jail?"
"Yes, Mulder, your seven-year-old is in jail. It was Kiera on the phone."
Reluctantly he rolled from bed, searching bleary-eyed for his pants. I watched as he, after a moment of thought, padded to the bathroom in only his boxers. When he returned, he was fully clothed and rubbing his eyes furiously.
"Who's gonna watch the kids?" he asked, reaching out a hand and touching the rim of our son's crib.
"I can't call and wake up my mom."
"We can't take them with us."
"Call Skinner? Or Agent Doggett?"
"Skinner." We agreed in unison.
Ten minutes later, Skinner was at our doorstep. He definitely looked better than we did.
"Hi, Sir. Thank you so much. Brayden's in his bassinette in the living room, he's been changed and fed, so if he's still awake, he probably just wants to be rocked. If he's asleep, he should be out for another hour and a half or so. Emily and Amara are both still asleep. We'll be back soon, hopefully. Call if there are any problems."
I watched as Skinner nodded dumbly, and then wandered into the living room and sat down. After a last glance, Mulder and I left.
We drove in relative silence. After a bit, I reached over to touch Fox's thigh, making sure he wasn't asleep at the wheel. He jumped, chuckling.
"Don't startle me like that."
"Just checking to see if you're alive over there."
"Explain to me what happened again?"
"She said they were at a club, and there was a drug bust. I'm guessing that instead of trying to weed out the guilty ones at the scene, the cops arrested everyone."
"And they were at a club at two am, why?"
"It was probably earlier than that. They'd probably just finished booking them when Kiera called. You know how long that takes."
Mulder sighed. "When did we get so old, Scully? When the thought of going to a club isn't even remotely appealing."
"You just like staying at home to do other things," I murmured, squeezing his thigh.
"Don't tease me, woman."
"I was just trying to make the steady stream of whining stop."
"You're so mean to me," he grinned in the dark.
Fox and I managed to use our FBI weight to get Kiera and all of her friends released. They weren't being charged, so there was no reason why they couldn't come with us. As Fox and I stood together, blinking tiredly, we watched as five girls crowded into a backseat made for three. My mind flashed to our family's newest addition; oh yeah, a new car was definitely in my future.
I settled into the driver's seat, giving Fox a break at such a late hour. When I looked in the rear view mirror, I laughed at the absurdity of the tableau.
"You know, there is a seat up here. We may be old and cranky, but we won't kill you. Especially since you've already had one run in with the law."
"I'll come sit up there, Mrs. M," Mila offered. "That is, if I could,
just, move. Okay, maybe some other time. Nice floor mats by the way."
I laughed, Mila had ended up on the floor, and it looked like that was where she was going to stay.
"We'll be gentle, Mil," Syeira grinned.
"You ready?" Mulder asked, hiding his sleepiness behind a smile.
"Yep. We're ready," Mila assured.
When I pulled up in front of the house, I looked to the back and tried to contain my laughter. All of the girls were asleep, leaning against each other. Mila's head was nestled against Kiera's knee, reminding me of how little they both had been when they met.
"Hey," I murmured, reaching back to shake the closest knee. "We're here. Wakey-wakey."
Groggily, the girls all crowded into the house, while Fox and I stood in the driveway. I reached over for his hand, squeezing it softly. Mulder wrapped his arms around my shoulders, drawing me into his chest.
"Are we really cut out for this, Scully?"
"Even if we aren't, it's kinda late to send them all back now," I grinned into his strong heartbeat. I squealed, jerking away from his tickling fingers. His lips found mine in a sleepy kiss, effectively muffling my laughter.
When we finally had enough sense to come inside, we found the girls seated in the living room in a semicircle around the couch...and my sleeping boss and my infant son.
"Your entertainment standards are sorely lacking," Mulder murmured wryly. Kiera and Mila grinned. "Clear out, Skin Man probably doesn't want a herd of teenage girls to see him cuddled up with a baby."
They all grumbled good naturedly, but stood and, after dropping light kisses on the baby's head, went down to the basement.
I smiled, reaching over to shake Skinner awake, and taking Brayden from his arms. He blinked at me sleepily.
"We're back. Thank you for watching the house for us."
"Mmm, you're welcome."
"Why don't you take the spare room, Walter? You'll never make it home safe."
"Thanks, Scully. Oh, he's been fed again."
"You're welcome," I yawned, pressing a kiss to Bray's head. "If the computers being on bothers you, go ahead and turn them off. We'll see you in the morning."
As Mulder started to lead the baby and me upstairs, I heard Skinner's answering reply.
"This is too freakin' weird."
The next morning I came downstairs to find my boss having coffee with Kiera and Mila. Brayden was sucking happily on a bottle in Mila's arms, making me smile.
"Morning," I yawned.
Skinner turned, raising his coffee mug to his lips. I pretended not to notice as his eyes looked me up and down before returning to my face.
"Morning, Scully. Coffee?"
"If Kiera made it then, no. I'm off the caffeine for a while."
I crossed over to stand behind Mila, touching her shoulder. She grinned, looking up at me. "He likes me, Mrs. M."
"Guess he's the only one, Mil," Kiera teased. I swatted her shoulder and touched Mila's forehead gently.
"Would you like to finish feeding him?" she asked me, looking up at me, her dark eyes soft. I smiled softly, Mila always had been an eager to please child.
"No, he's comfortable with you. I don't want to disturb him," I hugged her shoulders affectionately.
After a few minutes of gazing down at my baby, I moved to the open chair by Kiera. "Where's your Dad?"
"Went for food. Didn't want no stinkin' tofu. Everyone else left when he did, and all have reported in, as per your usual orders."
I nodded; glad to hear that her friends had gotten home okay. "How long ago did he go?"
"'Bout ten minutes."
"Alright. I'll be back in a few minutes," I stood up, touching Kiera's shoulder and walking toward the front of the house. I grabbed a jacket and went outside to sit in the chair on the porch.
Before I could settle myself into any comfortable position, Mulder's car pulled up in the driveway. I stood up, rubbing my arms briskly and padding down the stairs to meet him. He grinned, reaching in to hand me a steaming Styrofoam cup of hot tea.
"Thank you," I murmured, smiling shyly at him over the top of my cup.
"You're welcome," he murmured in answer, bending to give me a coffee flavored kiss before tossing his arm around my shoulders and pulling me into his side.
Three Weeks Later
Christmas this year was at my mom's. Nobody had wanted to make us travel long distances with the baby, and so my family had compromised that Christmas would be at mom's, and Thanksgiving of next year would be in California at Bill's.
I looked up from Brayden's tiny hands to see Amara standing in the doorway. She looked hesitant to interrupt the quiet time I was having with her brother. I smiled, nodding to her to say that she could enter. She settled at my feet and placed her cheek against my knee.
"I'm bored. Can we go home?"
"Not yet. We're going home after dinner."
"But I'm bored, Mom."
"Your cousins will be here in a bit, Amara. Why don't you go play video games with Kiera?"
"Can't I sit with you?"
"If you're quiet. I don't want to wake Brayden."
After another ten silent minutes, I stood gingerly, walking over to Brayden's travel crib. Amara helped me once I'd lowered Brayden to the mattress by covering him with a small blanket. She rubbed his belly gently, before leaning into me.
"It's weird being the middle child, huh?"
"Is that what's wrong?"
"I don't know," she sighed. I pressed my lips to her forehead gently.
"You feel a little warm, maybe you're getting sick."
"Got the Christmas blues?"
"Wanna go for a walk with me? Just to get out of the house for a while?"
"Not right now."
"Okay," I squeezed her shoulder. Sometimes Amara was too much like me, wanting company, but wanting to be alone more. "I'm going to go rescue your Daddy from Uncle Bill. You can stay in here with Brayden for a while. He won't be enthralling, but it'll be quiet. And nobody will bother you till you wanna be bothered."
"'Kay. Come get me if you need anything," I kissed her forehead and turned to leave.
After an hour of running interference between Bill and Fox, I handed Emily to him as a shield and went back up to the nursery. I smiled widely, feeling tears spring to my eyes. Amara was standing over the changing table, her nose scrunched up in distaste.
"I nearly passed out the first time I saw that. I asked your grandma what kind of alien baby I'd had."
"He poops green, Mom!"
I laughed at her indignant response. "Do you want me to finish changing him?"
"No, no, I'm okay. It's just gross."
"You're telling me. I've had five of you," I muttered.
After distributing gifts for our lot, I sent Fox to bed while I made the rounds and looked in on the kids. Since it was Christmas, as per tradition, my kids, with the exception of Brayden, were all bunked in together. Emily was asleep with her head on Kiera's stomach, and Amara was curled up beside her sisters.
Post-pregnancy induced hormones caused tears to form in my eyes, and I covered my lips with my hand. I was lucky in this life. Really, really lucky.
"You deserve everything we have, Dana. You deserve more, in fact."
Fox's arms wound around my waist. He bent, rubbing my cheek with his. I turned and kissed the corner of his mouth, and then the two of us stood in silence.
"Come on. It's late. Emily will be up at 7 am."
"Try 6," I shot back, letting Fox lead me to our bedroom.
March 1, 2001
I knew something was wrong when I saw the "Panic Face." I'd just come out of the shower, expecting to see my steaming cup of decaffeinated coffee in the hands of my husband, but instead saw him sitting with Emily, stroking the hair away from her forehead.
"What's wrong?" I asked, removing the bulky towel from my hair and sitting in front of them. My hand reached out to touch Emily's leg.
"She says her stomach hurts. She has a low-grade fever, I've already checked."
"Where does it hurt, Emily?"
She pointed to her stomach, burrowing deeper into her father's arms.
"Do you have to use the toilet?" I asked. When Emily didn't answer, I looked up at Mulder.
"Diarrhea," he mouthed. "She had an accident in bed."
"Okay. There's no reason to be embarrassed, it happens to everyone," I assured, rubbing her leg. "Let me feel your belly, Emily."
As I began to press on her abdomen, she winced and her breathing grew labored. When I touched her lower right abdomen, she gasped, coughing and throwing up all over the bed and her father. She hiccupped and started to cry.
"I'm sorry Daddy, I didn't mean to. I-I promise. I didn't mean to."
I watched as Mulder stripped off his shirt and picked her up, letting her head rest on his shoulder. He smoothed her hair down on her neck, and patted her back.
"It's her appendix, Mulder. We need to take her to the hospital."
Three hours later I called home to let Mulder know that Emily was being admitted for an appendectomy. He volunteered to come to the hospital after getting the girls from school, but I told him to hold off. They were only allowing me in the OR with her, and the operation would take a while. However, when we emerged from the operating theatre, I saw Mulder holding onto Amara's shoulders, and Kiera sitting with Brayden's carrier on the floor. I nodded to the nurse briefly, and she wheeled Emily toward her room.
"How is she?" he asked, leaning over Amara to kiss me. I sighed, reaching out to give Amara a hug.
"They said she'll be fine. The surgery went as expected. There was no other sign of infection. Short of complications, she'll be home in about 3 days."
"Yeah," I patted Amara's hair. "They're taking her to her room in recovery. They'll let us know when we can go in."
"Have you eaten, Mom?" Kiera asked, rocking Brayden slowly.
"Not since, last night."
"Okay, come on," she grabbed my arm and picked up the baby carrier. I took my son's carrier from her and we moved toward the cafe inside the hospital. Mulder and Amara stayed with Emily.
After managing to shove some food down my throat, I lifted Brayden out of his carrier looking around for a private place to take him to nurse. Kiera smiled slightly, passing me a blanket to drape over myself.
While it wasn't the best arrangement, I managed to feed Brayden and ground myself by reconnecting with him. Once we were cleaned up, I raised him to my shoulder, patting his back and breathing in his pure babyness.
"You didn't eat much," Kiera remarked.
"Yes, mother," I grinned. "I'm not very hungry."
"You should eat more. You always make me eat even when I'm not hungry."
"I'm your mother, that's why."
"You're impossible, that's what you are," she shot back, grinning.
"We should get back."
"Mom, wait. Just take a few minutes. Dad and Amara are with her. She's in good hands here. Bray's been agitated all afternoon."
"Okay. Just for a little while longer."
By the time Kiera let me leave the cafe, Emily was up and awake, watching TV with Amara while Mulder assured my mom over the phone that everything was okay and there was no need to cut her visit to Charlie short and fly back home from Ireland.
"Hi, Sweetie," I bent, still holding Brayden, and kissed her forehead. "How do you feel?"
"Not sick anymore. But my tummy still hurts a little."
"That's because of your operation. It'll hurt for a little while."
"Okay," she smiled, reaching up to touch Brayden's leg. "Can he sit with me, Mommy?"
"Sure," I settled Brayden down beside her on her bed. He turned his head to look at his new surroundings, gracing his older sister with a smile.
"He smiled at me, Mommy!"
"He wants you to get better."
Emily leaned over, kissing Brayden's head softly before turning her head back to Amara. Amara ruffled Emily's hair.
"Want me to braid your hair, Em?"
"Maybe later, Amara. She's not allowed to sit up just yet."
Later that night as I was gathering up the baby's things, Mulder settled behind Emily, stroking her hair and promising to stay with her.
"You'll be okay here?" I asked, shouldering Brayden's diaper bag. Mulder nodded, patting Emily's hair.
"We'll be just fine."
"Okay. Call if you need anything," I kissed both of them softly. "I love you, Emily."
"Love you too, Mommy."
Mulder rubbed my arm. "Go home, Scully. I'll see you in the morning."
Thankfully, I was still taking advantage of maternity leave when they released Emily from the hospital. After the first day of her being home, Mulder went back to work, and I managed to be a 'stay at home mommy' for the first time in years.
By the time Emily was more mobile, we were both going stir-crazy. There was only so long that a seven-year-old could be cooped up inside her house with her mother, her infant brother, and her dog.
On our daily trip out to the grocery store, we ran into Kim, Skinner's secretary. She was out on leave because she'd recently had surgery on her ankle.
"He's beautiful, Dana," Kim smiled, looking over at Brayden. I smiled, still not used to openly sharing my children with people from work.
"Thank you," I replied, unable to say more. I curled my arm around Emily's shoulders, reaching up to feel her forehead quickly. She'd had some signs of fever when she first came home from the hospital, but so far she was still okay.
"How are you, Emily? Your dad said you were still under the weather."
"She's got cabin fever from being inside so long."
"Tell me about it. I've got another two weeks off."
"Well, I'll be sure to have Mulder dredge up an interesting case for your first day back," I smiled, patting Emily's head.
"You think you'll be back by then?"
"I don't know. I like staying at home with the kids, and being there when they get home. I've never done the 'house wife' thing, but it's actually enjoyable."
"Don't you miss work?"
"Well, yes. I like what I do, but I also like being around to be a mom. Kiera's almost in college and I don't want to miss the same things about Emily and Amara's childhoods that I have for Kiera's."
"Your oldest is in high school?" Kim's eyebrow jumped into her hairline.
"Walter didn't mention that, huh?" I smiled, squeezing Emily's shoulders. "He was pretty shocked the first time they met too."
"There have been rumors about you and Mulder for years, but that was never one of them," Kim shook her head in disbelief.
"Sometimes it blows me away too," I smiled, leaning over to accept a kiss on the cheek from Emily. "Well, we should probably go. It was nice seeing you, Kim."
"You too, Dana. Feel better Emily."
"Thanks," Emily smiled, taking my hand and squeezing.
I smiled as Kim brushed a finger over Brayden's cheek before walking toward the checkout counter.
After we finished our shopping, we went back to the house to put the groceries away. While both Brayden and Emily had a nap, Kiera and Amara arrived home from school. Kiera's driving privileges had just recently been reestablished, and so she had picked Amara up from school. Mila was in tow, and once they'd both greeted me, they went to Kiera's room, giggling.
"How was school?" I asked, setting down some snacks for Amara on the table. She greedily dug into the food.
"Did you eat your lunch?"
"Most of it."
"What didn't you eat?" I asked, crossing my arms over my chest. When she told me I sighed. "You should eat your lunch, Amara. I don't fix it for you because I find it fun."
"But I gave it to-"
"It doesn't matter. If you don't like something, tell me and I won't give it to you. That's all it takes."
My reply was cut off by the telephone's shrill ring throughout the house. I snatched the cordless up before it could wake Emily. I wasn't worried about Brayden, he slept like a log.
"You greet every woman you call that way?" I grinned into the phone, leaning onto my elbows. "Hey," I droned, imitating him.
"You're a cut up, Scully. I'm cracking up," he shot back dryly. "Have you checked your email today?"
"No. I haven't been on the computer all day. Is something wrong?"
"I don't know. Look, whenever you get your email, stay calm. I'm going to check it out."
"What's this about? Mulder?" I looked back at Amara before going into the study and closing the door.
"It's nothing serious, I promise."
"Oh? You don't happen to be lying to me, do you?"
"Would I lie to you, Scully?"
"Answering a question with a question...tell me Mr. Oxford Psychologist, what does that tend to imply?"
"It's nothing, Scully."
"What is 'it', Mulder?"
He sighed, "When I got to work, there was a folder by the door. It had medical documents, about the cloning process that was going on in 1994."
"And it had Emily's records in there too. Along with DNA tests and confirmation printouts."
"Confirmation of what?"
"She's not mine, Scully."
"The DNA test papers here, there's one with my name, and one with someone else's name. Mine is no match."
"That's a lie. Mulder, there's too much of a resemblance, Emily is your daughter."
"Anyway, I scanned the papers and sent them to you. I don't know if you can tell if they've been doctored over the computer, but I figured I'd try."
"I'm going to go check these out, take them to the Gunmen for verification of their authenticity, and then hop a plane out to California. I'll call if I find anything."
I heard his intake of breath. "Who is?"
"What! No, he's not," I protested, lowering my voice. "Fox, you know that's a lie. Alex Krycek is not Emily's..."
"It's okay. It makes sense, it really does."
"Fox," I murmured, sniffing. "At least come home and pack. Don't go out there with only the suit you're wearing."
After a moment of silence, he sighed. "Okay. I'll come there after going to the guys and letting them copy this stuff."
An hour later he opened the back door, stepping inside wearily. Brayden and I greeted him as he set his bag down. I patted Brayden's back, pressing my lips to his head and leaning in to welcome my troubled husband.
"I refuse to believe that it's true, Fox. Why give her back to us if he's her father?"
"He knew we could keep her safe. At least we know he's human now."
"It's a lie, Fox. I'll do the damn tests myself. Give me the records and go pack."
He took Brayden from me, cradling the baby against his chest. "They're in my briefcase."
After a cursory scan, I was unable to declare the documents forgeries, and stood, moving to the kitchen to check on dinner. Having not heard from Fox, I climbed the stairs to try and talk to him.
I found him sitting with Emily. She was curled up in his lap, telling him about seeing Kim at the store.
"She's nice, Daddy."
"Yeah, Kim is really nice. What else did you do today?"
Emily giggled, shaking her head and reaching up to squeeze his neck. I watched as he held her as tightly as he dared to, his face landing in her neck. She giggled when she felt the tickle of his stubble.
"Emily," he pulled away, turning her on his lap. "Do you remember when you were little, Em?"
Emily shrugged. "I dunno."
"Can you tell me?"
"I don't know."
I touched his back. "Stop, Fox."
"I just want to know-"
I squatted down, reaching out to rub Emily's forehead. "Honey, do you remember when you were with Alex?"
Emily nodded. "I think so."
"Can you tell me what Alex did while he was making you better?" Mulder asked.
"He played with me, and made me better so I could come home."
"Anything else?" he repeated his question.
"I don't know."
"What did Alex want you to call him?" I asked softly.
Emily looked between her father and me, puzzled. "Alex."
"What did he call you, honey?"
Emily's head bowed. She turned into her father's arms, effectively evading the question. Mulder rested his chin on her head, closing his eyes.
"Its okay, Emily."
"He called me ??????????? ????," she whispered.
"What's that mean?" I asked, still not fluent in all of the Russian Emily knew.
"Special daughter," Mulder murmured. He shifted Emily closer, pressing his lips to her temple. "I love you, sweetheart."
I watched as Emily held onto her father's biceps tightly. Mulder returned the hug, his eyes squeezed shut. I stood up, touching his head and leaving the room.
When Mulder emerged from Emily's room, I moved away from the wall. He stopped in front of me, his head down against his chest.
"Are you okay?"
He laughed humorlessly.
"Alright, stupid question. Did she tell you anything else?"
"I didn't ask. I couldn't get my mouth to work."
"Well, there's a first time for everything," I teased, stepping forward into his arms. His head landed on my shoulder, and I held him tightly. He sighed against my neck, and one of my hands reached down to lace with his.
"I still don't believe it."
"Because you don't want to, Scully. It's true."
"I cannot accept that. And you shouldn't either. I'll do the damn DNA tests myself; hell, I'll do it tonight."
"Dana, its okay, just let me go out to California, and I'll settle this," he moved away from me, stalking back into our bedroom to gather his overnight bag.
"What does it matter anyway? What exactly is the difference? All nature vs. nurture arguments aside, what difference does it make if it's Alex Krycek who shares her genes? You loved her when we thought she was half alien, am I wrong in saying that you love her now?"
"No. You're not wrong. I just want closure. For her, for us. I don't want a disgruntled biological Dad to show up in ten years and take her away from us. I want her to have a normal life, with two and only two parents, and sisters and a brother who love her."
"And I wanna end this with Krycek."
I crossed my arms over my chest. "You're not a killer, Mulder."
"I want him out of our lives. For good. I want to wake up with you, and know that the bastard who made it possible for you to be abducted is never going to fuck up our lives again."
"I want that too. But killing Alex Krycek isn't going to solve the problems. If anything, this proves how much of a guinea pig he's been as well."
"Why are you defending him?"
"Because I don't think he's the one who's showing you this. I don't think he would have given her back to us if he only wanted to take her away again. He obviously cared for her in some capacity; I don't think he'd want to see her get hurt by doing or saying this," I stepped up to him, taking his five o'clock shadow between my palms. "I love her, and you love her, and she's in our lives and not his. That's what matters to me. So go out to California, find out what you need to, and then come back here, because your daughter needs you. And in the meantime, I'll go to the lab and get DNA tests done to prove to you that whoever sent you that file is full of shit."
He smiled, "I love you Scully."
"You better. I've had too many of your children for you to back out now."
"You're pushy, you know that, Scully?" he murmured. I poked him in the side, smiling when he jerked away.
"Fox is ticklish," I smiled, poking him again. He chuckled, backing up.
"Stop tickling me," he murmured. My hands continued to poke his sides, causing him to stumble backwards onto the bed. I kept tickling him, not stopping until an all-out guffaw had emerged from his mouth. Once he laughed, I settled beside him, leaning on one arm.
"I don't know how I fell in love with you. You're so mean," he murmured, his hand reaching out for mine. I smiled, kissing his hand. "You're not going to distract me with sex."
"No, I'm going to distract you with-"
"Hey, Dad, Langly's on the pho-" Kiera's voice at the door made us jump apart. "Sorry. I didn't mean to barge in."
"You didn't, Kiera," Mulder sat up, squeezing my hand and reaching for the phone. He got up and I moved out into the hall to give him some privacy.
"Is everything okay, Mom?"
"Yeah. Your dad's going out on a profiling case and he was upset about it. Come check on the baby with me."
"Okay. Can Mila stay for dinner? We're in the middle of a project and could probably finish if we can get another few hours of solid work done."
"If you tell me she won't be driving at midnight, okay."
"Well, you could take her home, right? Or she could just stay here tonight."
"Yes, she could stay here. What's your project?"
"Well... it sorta involved the Gunmen's help."
"Forget it, I don't even want to know."
"Can I tell her about Adrian, Mom?"
I looked up from rubbing Brayden's back. "You can tell anyone you want to, Kiera. Adrian shouldn't be a deep dark secret."
"Even Amara and Emily?"
"If you want. They're your sisters; she's your sister. It's your choice."
I accepted her hug gratefully. She ran back downstairs to her friend, presumably to work on their project. Once I was alone again with Brayden, I leaned over, picking him up and holding him as close as possible.
"I don't believe the lie, Brayden. Emily is every bit your Daddy's daughter as Kiera is."
"Scully, do we have extra food in the house?"
"Excuse me? Why?"
"The guys found something, they're coming over."
"Just the guys?"
"Well, Skinner too."
I rolled my eyes against Brayden's head. "Okay. Go make sure that Emily's okay."
His eyes dropped.
"Go tell her you love her, Mulder. She probably needs that more than anything."
When I got downstairs, Kiera was on the couch with Mila and Amara, explaining about Adrian to them. I smiled when I heard Amara ask,
"You really had a twin, Kiera?"
"Yep. Here's her picture."
"Wicked awesome," Amara grinned. "You had a twin."
"Very astute, Amara."
Amara chucked a pillow at Kiera. I smiled, watching their friendly sibling banter, hoping it would never evolve to become the tension within my own family. I patted Brayden's back, unable to bring myself to put him down, even though I had to check on dinner.
"Do you need me to hold him while you check the stove, Mrs. M?"
"Thanks, Mila." I passed the baby over to her, checking the pots of pasta and sauce.
"Hey, Mil, bring me a soda too!" Kiera called from the living room.
"Kiera getting you to do her bidding again?"
"Well, you know it's hard to disobey the goddess of the sun," Mila giggled, referring to Kiera's Stargate nickname, Ra.
I laughed. "Kiera was really happy she got to tell you about Adrian."
"She's been really...weird about it for months," Mila looked down at Brayden.
"I think she was worried that you'd think she was trying to replace her twin with you. You know she's always considered you a sister, even before she found out about Adrian. In fact you two get into the same trouble that my sister and I used to."
Mila nodded. After a moment she said, "Thank you."
"For what?" I asked, taking the baby back from her. She brushed her hand wistfully over the soft auburn peach fuzz on Brayden's head.
"I don't know. Letting me hold him, I guess."
My free arm squeezed her tightly. "Go get your coke, Mila. Make Kiera get her own."
Mila laughed. "Thanks for letting me stay."
"Mila, you could pack your bags and move in here completely unannounced, and you'd always be welcome."
"Thanks Mrs. M."
I answered by pressing a motherly kiss to her forehead. She smiled at me, and we both knew what she was really thanking me for; recognizing her soul as Adrian's, but not expecting more than acknowledgment of that fact.
Once we'd all eaten dinner, Mulder and I retired with the guys and Skinner to the study. He sat on the floor with his arms crossed. I sat behind him on the couch, one of my hands landing in his hair.
"What did you guys find out?"
Frohike and Langly looked at each other, and then at Skinner. Byers cleared his throat.
"The Emily listed on the DNA tests isn't the same girl as the one who's out watching TV with the others."
"What do you mean?" We asked in unison. "The papers Krycek gave us at Christmas when he returned her said she's normal. The doctors told us she's normal." I finished lamely.
Mulder's hand touched mine. "Go on."
"They're not the same girl, that's true," Frohike continued, sitting beside me. "But this Emily, your Emily, is without a doubt, biologically your daughter. Both of yours. She's happy, healthy; you have nothing to worry about."
"But there's another child out there? Who is Krycek's and my daughter?" I asked, squeezing my husband's hand. "We have to find her."
"She's dead, Scully. In fact, from what we can tell, all the clones from the project are dead. All but Emily," Skinner chimed in, sitting in our desk chair and resting his chin on his hands.
"Krycek was looking for her," Mulder murmured, connecting the dots. "For his Emily. Instead he found ours."
"And he still gave her back," I replied, looking down at him. Mulder kissed my hand.
"Are you guys okay?" Langly asked.
"Yeah. We're good. We're very good," Mulder answered, smiling up at me.
"Scul-ly, it itches." My almost 40-year-old husband whined.
I rolled my eyes. "Fox, it's the Chicken Pox. You've had much more severe injuries just from sitting at your desk at the office. I can't believe you never had it as a kid."
"But it itches," he insisted, pouting.
"Kiera whined less than you are, and she was three years old, Mulder. Do you remember that?"
"We still lived in England," he smiled briefly, before pouting again. "At least she understands me."
My hands mussed his hair, and I bent to noisily kiss his spotted lips and cheeks.
"Baby, what I understand is that for all your macho male grunting, you're just a big baby," I grinned, pulling away. "Come on, up with you. I want all the sick ones in one room."
Grumbling, he rolled from bed, meandering into the bathroom.
"Don't scratch!" I called in warning. He ignored me in return.
After conducting his morning business, Mulder wandered back into our room and pulled on another pair of sweat pants, and a new t-shirt. As he pulled the shirt over his head, he stopped.
"Dana, what about Brayden?"
"He left bright and early this morning with Grandma," I smiled, wrapping both my arms around his waist.
"Good. I don't wanna get him sick too."
After depositing my sick husband with Emily and Amara, I wandered through the downstairs, stopping to let the dog out into the backyard, and wait for Thor to come back in. Amara had had chicken pox once already, but it had been a mild case, and since Emily brought home the germ, Amara had once again been afflicted with it.
When puppy Thor and I made our way back into the living room, I chuckled. Emily was curled up in Mulder's lap, and Amara was nestled into his side. All three were gazing at me pitifully.
"You guys are a pathetic bunch." I crossed my arms. "Here you are, on a beautiful April day, and you're indoors complaining."
"But it itches," all three whined in unison.
My head dropped to my chest in defeat.
"Okay. Okay, okay. I'll get the calamine lotion."
Thankfully, after smoothing the calamine over their arms and legs, Emily and Amara were more upbeat about a day home from school. Their father on the other hand was still being a royal pain in the ass. After breakfast I sent the girls out to play in the backyard while I tried to console Mulder about his illness.
"You've wanted to take a day off for a while," I reminded, settling on the couch beside him. His pout only deepened.
"Come on, I made the itching on your arms and legs stop, didn't I?"
He grinned, and I swatted him. "You're such a pervert, Mulder."
"I've got a few more places you can rub with calamine," he grinned, looping an arm around my waist. I laughed, letting him drag me up onto his chest.
"You're a dirty old man, Fox Mulder."
"Only for you, baby," he replied cheekily, knowing how much I hated that particular term of endearment. He kissed my neck, pulling me tighter into his lap. I laughed, squeezing his neck.
"Only you could be horny while sick with the chicken pox."
"I can be horny all the time," he murmured, moving from my neck to my jaw. I laughed, pushing away. After some rearranging, my head landed on his shoulder.
"Feel a little better?"
He kissed my temple. "Yeah."
"Daddy! Come out and play!" Emily called, her voice reverberating throughout the house.
Fox's head dropped onto my shoulder. "Are you sure she's not Krycek's kid? She's certainly got his gift of terrible timing."
"Don't even try to blame that on him," I laughed. "That's all you." I kissed him again once before letting him go.
That evening once the sickly-ones had gone to bed, Kiera and I sat together watching TV. Well, I was reading over Mulder's recent case notes. Since he would be laid up for awhile, I was going to try and help Doggett by telecommuting my input.
"Mom? Are you not going back to work?"
I looked up, rubbing my eyes from under my glasses. "I don't know. I like being home for you guys. I don't know if I could go back to the constant traveling that your Daddy and I had been doing."
Kiera nodded, shifting on the couch and settling her head on my thigh. I took that as a hint to rub her head.
"I like the thought of telecommuting, or working part time, though. Maybe once Brayden gets a little older, I'll do that."
"I like it when you guys are home."
I smiled, stroking her hair. "I know."
"Mom? Is Mila okay?"
"Why do you ask?"
"She's just not been herself lately. Did she say anything about being mad at me?"
"No. She was just confused, and I think she still is."
"Do you act differently with her now that you know about Adrian?"
Kiera shrugged. "I don't know...maybe."
"Just, don't push her, Kiera. She's your best friend, but she's not Adrian."
"I know that. But I feel this familiarity with her-"
"I know. I recognized the connection too. She knows, and feels it too, but it's hard for her. Don't push her. Make sure she knows that she's your closest friend because of your history, not because you identify her spirit as being Adrian's."
"That sounds like something Daddy would say," Kiera giggled.
"Yeah it does."
She giggled again. "Chicken Pox?"
"Bet your dad never thought his dirty little secret would come out."
"I can't believe he never had it. I mean, everyone has it!"
"I had it before I met him, I assumed he had too."
"No fair, picking on the old man."
I grinned, looking up and meeting his sleepy gaze. He lightly scratched his chest, stopping only when I smacked his leg.
"Don't scratch. What are you doing up?"
"I thought I heard the baby."
"He's at a party," I grinned, reaching out for his hand. He squeezed my fingers. "You should be asleep."
I kissed his hand.
"It's only 11:30."
"Shorty." He grinned back.
Kiera groaned, sitting up. "Why can't you guys have a normal conversation?"
"Because it's more fun to annoy you," he answered, sitting in the reclining chair. His foot snuck over to me and pushed at my leg.
"Don't put your nasty feet on me," I warned. He scooted further down in his seat, reaching both of his feet over to me. I wrinkled my nose, but otherwise ignored him.
After another few minutes of sitting up with me, Kiera went to bed. I watched her go before turning to Mulder. He was sound asleep.
After a few minutes of attempting to wake him up, I gave up, instead curling up on the recliner with him. My head landed on his chest, and I tucked my nose under his chin. He snuffled, pulling me tighter to him.
I smiled into Fox's t-shirt, feeling his heart thump against my ear. His hand rested on my back, squeezing me gently.
"Mm, Scully? Why're we on the recliner?"
"Shh, go to sleep."
When I woke the next morning, we were still curled up together in the same position. Kiera was in the kitchen staring at the coffee maker.
I stretched, popping my neck. "Waiting for your magical powers to come through?"
Kiera yawned, and then snorted. "Magic don't enter into it, I just want some damn coffee."
"Did you fill the coffee maker?"
Kiera snapped her fingers. "Now I know why they made you head of Rocket Science at NASA."
I grabbed a dishtowel and snapped it over her behind.
"How late are you going to be today?"
"I dunno. We've got a meeting at The Mall this afternoon."
"They're letting you on Federal property?"
"Just joking. Calm down. Sorry," I sighed. "I'm going to wake up your dad and make him go upstairs."
When I finally got the big baby into bed I returned to find Kiera sitting at the table, with her head in her hands.
"Kiera? What's wrong?"
She turned and rested her head against my stomach. I stroked her hair, bending to whisper nonsense assurances into her ear. She sniffled, making me hug her gently.
"I'm sorry for teasing you. I didn't want to upset you."
"It's not that. I'm just so tired."
I touched her forehead. "You don't feel warm. Are you sick to your stomach?"
"Go back to bed. I'll take you in later," I bent and kissed her forehead.
I smiled, moving back to the living room and sitting down, eager to have a break before the chaos of the day.
Almost two weeks later, the house was mercifully empty, save for me and Brayden. Fox, Emily and Amara were all free of the Chicken Pox, and Emily had been cleared by the doctor to go back to school. I'd never enjoyed the companionable silence of a five-month-old so much. We spent most of our time outside, enjoying the fresh air.
When my maternity leave first started, Mulder insisted that I not be bothered. Slowly however, I was called for more and more advice for both Agent Doggett and my partner.
"Agent Doggett. How are you?"
"Doin' well. How's the baby?"
"Getting bigger everyday. Can I help with anything, Agent Doggett?"
"Well," he seemed reluctant. "With all due respect, concerning your situations and all, is Mulder nuts?"
I laughed, reaching over to squeeze Brayden's toes. He giggled with me before drawing his foot up toward his mouth.
"I tend to lean toward that conclusion quite often myself, Agent Doggett, don't worry. He's harmless to everyone except for the hair follicles on AD Skinner's head."
"Very reassuring, Scully. Thanks."
"What's his latest tangent this time?" I asked, leaning back in the lounge chair and taking a sip of iced tea. Once he told me I chuckled again.
"He's got quite a sense of humor. It's obviously a hoax to see what you're made of. I doubt very much that he's serious about this case."
"Are you sure?"
"Yes. Don't let him intimidate you, Agent Doggett."
"Alright. Well, thanks, Scully."
After I hung up, I collapsed against my chair, laughing.
An hour later, the phone rang as Brayden and I were dancing around the deck. Holding my squealing baby in one arm, I picked up the phone.
"Spoiling my fun."
I grinned. "Just trying to keep him from going bald prematurely."
"You know you were being mean, Mulder. You do that sometimes when you have the upper hand in a situation, you can be mean. You were mean to me when we first started working together."
"I was not."
"Aren't you supposed to be working?"
"Lunch break. I could come home for a while if you want."
"That's okay. We're doing pretty well on our own today."
"You could come into the office."
"Mulder...I'm out on the deck with your son, in a t-shirt and shorts. I'm not putting on business clothes. Don't you have someone else down there to talk to?"
"Doggett doesn't look as good in a skirt as you."
I heard Doggett's snort. "Goodbye, Mulder."
After hanging up the phone, I turned to Brayden, kissing him noisily and starting to dance around again.
Once my skin began to pinken slightly, I took us both inside, giving Brayden a chance to calm down from the day's excitement before nursing him.
After feeding him, I patted his back to calm myself, and soon he was snorting sleepily in my ear. I felt myself tear up.
"You're so sweet," I murmured, kissing his fuzzy head.
I couldn't put him down, no matter how heavy he got. My arms grew a little tired, but I couldn't bring myself to put him in his bassinette. I even ate lunch one handed, not wanting to let go of my baby.
"Empty nest anxiety already?"
"What are you doing home?" I asked, looking up at him over the top of the recliner. He bent, brushing open-mouthed kisses over my forehead and then my lips.
"Came home to pack."
I rolled my eyes. "Ahh, your bogus team building exercise."
"You wound me, Scully. You're the only one I would blow off team building seminars with, just to look for moth men."
"Only the best for you, Sweetheart."
"Knock knock. Is it safe to come in?"
"What if it wasn't?" Mulder called, straightening up and grasping the baby in his strong grip. I slapped his thigh lightly.
"It's alright Agent Doggett, come in." I nodded to Mulder, who bent and stole another kiss before going upstairs to pack. He still didn't seem to trust Agent Doggett completely, but the fact that he'd let him tag along said a lot about the trust that he must be forming, however grudgingly it might be.
"Nice to see you again. Agent Scully."
"You too, Agent Doggett."
"You couldn't talk him out of this, huh?"
I shrugged, "I tried. He just so bullheaded sometimes."
"I heard that!" Mulder called from upstairs. I grinned.
"Come sit down, he'll probably be awhile; he's bonding with the baby."
"Yeah, I remember that sort of thing."
"I didn't know you were married."
"Divorced now. Luke, my son, his death really hit us hard, Barbara and I never recovered."
I nodded. "I understand that. Kiera and her sister were only a little younger than Brayden is now when Adrian died."
Doggett nodded thoughtfully.
"Scully? Can you come up here?"
"Be right back," I smiled turning and bounding up the stairs. I found Mulder trying to fold his things one handed.
I took the t-shirt from him, folding it neatly and putting it in his overnight bag. I looked down at the contents of the bag and realized how much he hadn't actually folded. Clucking disapprovingly I refolded his clothes while he cuddled Brayden's sleepy form.
"You'll be back Wednesday?"
"Yep. Wednesday night, right in time for the best soccer game of the year."
"Amara says thank you in advance."
"Glad to help. I'm not going to miss anything else?"
"Nope. The dance recitals are next week."
He nodded, and I watched as his mouth dropped open.
"I think I'm domesticated."
I snorted, "Like a horse, babe," I grinned, patting his back.
After a split second, he blinked and recovered. "I have other characteristics of a horse too," he added.
"Shut up and pack," I ordered, grinning teasingly. "Pervert."
"Hey, you married me, didn't you?"
I shrugged, reaching over to take a shirt from his grasp before he wrinkled it further. "What can I say? You tricked me."
"Then I'm pretty lucky."
"Yes, yes you are. Even if you can be a dumbass sometimes."
When his arms wound around my waist, I realized that he'd set the baby on the bed. I leaned into him, reaching my arms up and curling my hands around his biceps. Despite his voice being muffled by the mouthful of hair, I heard him mumble: "The luckiest damn dumbass alive."
I blinked, blindly reaching up to wipe my eyes. After taking another shuddering breath I realized where I was.
The bench beneath me was cold; as cold as I felt. Despite the unusually warm weather, I wrapped my arms around my coat, trying to smother the chill I felt.
I wanted to cry, but no tears would come. Biting my lip I looked out at the Potomac River. After a few moments, my vision soon blurred and I stopped trying to see the family of ducks swimming along the side.
I looked up quickly, and my hands rose to swipe at my eyes. Fox was standing by the bench, our bench, his shirt-sleeves rolled up, pushing of all things, the stroller.
"Hey," I croaked. "I thought you hated that thing."
He always had. Not once had he pushed a stroller when he could have been holding one of our children. Even at crowded amusement parks, Fox has always preferred to carry any of our kids who were small enough, instead of pushing them around, and leaving them open to being cooed at and possibly worse, by strangers.
He nodded, not giving me an answer as to why he'd brought the stroller. He bent to unhook Brayden from the seat and lifted him up high into the air, eliciting Brayden's sweet happy squeal.
He settled down beside me, holding Brayden up in the crook of his arm.
"I tried your cell."
I fished it out of my pocket, staring dumbly at the blank display.
"I um, the battery died."
I shoved the phone aside when I realized that my hands were shaking.
"I, I panicked when you didn't come back. I didn't even really think when I grabbed it." He explained, glancing briefly at the stroller. "What is it?"
"You should go back to work."
"Tell me what's wrong?" he pressed, ignoring my order. "When you left this morning, everything was fine. What happened at the doctor?"
I leaned forward, resting my chin in my hands. "They- they told me I'm not so fine. The tests weren't totally conclusive but..." I trailed off, whispering into the air, but knowing his reaction without even looking.
I nodded, licking my dry lips. "It's true. I saw the preliminary tests."
His free arm wound around me, pulling me back, and his fingers landed in my hair. I felt his lips against my forehead.
"He lied to me. That son of a bitch lied to me." Mulder murmured. "He told me you'd be okay." His fingers sought out the scar at the back of my neck.
Brayden squirmed, whining his disapproval at his father's tight embrace. I coughed, my earlier tears getting caught in my throat. As Fox rubbed my back, I took my baby from his arms.
"Do they, do they have a prognosis yet?"
"Assuming their diagnosis is correct, I still have time, lots of it even. And I feel fine, honestly," I looked down at Brayden before looking back up at him. "I mean, I've been tired lately; but its part of my life. I have an infant, and a job, and three other children, and you. It's no wonder I'm tired."
His lips brushed my temple. "You're going to be okay. I'll make sure of it."
"Don't...don't do anything stupid, Mulder, please." After making my entreaty, I kissed Brayden's fuzzy head, needing to feel closer to him.
Mulder moved away, pacing nervously, his body agitated. Finally having composed myself, I was able to think about Fox and how we'd tell the kids. I bounced Brayden lightly on my lap. He giggled, patting my hands. My heart lurched when I realized that I might not have this for much longer.
"So they don't have a treatment?"
"I'm going back on Monday; we'll lay out a treatment regiment then."
He stopped, turning to face me. "Is it the same?"
"Yes. It's in my sinus cavity."
His fists clenched, and I'm sure those who had come to watch us feared that he'd hit me.
"The tests were nearly conclusive."
"Damn it, Scully! I'm not going to sit back and accept that!"
Brayden jumped at his father's sharp tone. For a moment I thought he was going to cry. I smoothed his hair, "It's okay."
Fox rounded back to me, squatting contritely.
"I'm so, so, so sorry. You know I wasn't yelling at you."
"I know. I know how you feel," my hand touched his cheek.
He turned into my caress. "I feel so helpless. He promised me that you'd be okay. And now he's dead and there's only Krycek. I don't want him anywhere near us."
I took a deep breath. "Fox, I'm not going to give up."
"Neither am I. You're going to be okay."
"I'm going to be okay," I echoed, meeting him in a soft kiss.
"Dana, I know you've always been strong, stronger than me, but please don't begrudge me my chance to help. You can have your battle, but please, please fight with me in mine."
I closed my eyes, nodding, and let him kiss the tears from my cheeks. My forehead rested against his, and I smiled through my sadness.
"Just like when we were kids..."
"You as my protector. Even when I didn't want your protection."
"I remember walking you home from everywhere. You know what I can't believe though?"
"That I was ever convinced to baby-sit you."
I straightened up, swapping my hold on Brayden.
"You never babysat me. You may have watched me, but you never babysat," I poked him in the chest. He caught my hand, raising it to his lips.
"I think I fell in love with you when you were nine."
"Now you're flat out lying."
"Maybe a little," he admitted, chuckling when I swatted him. He stood, taking my free hand and pulling me to my feet. He stroked Brayden's hair and then brushed his fingertips over my brow.
"You'll be okay, Dana."
"I believe you."
After a moment of simply looking at him, I glanced down at Brayden, who was curled up against my breast. His clear eyes locked with mine, causing me to bite my lip.
"She's not going anywhere, Bray. I promise that."
"Do you have to go back to work?"
"Not if you need me to come home with you."
"I don't want to be alone."
"Okay. Come back to the office with me, I can help keep your mind off things."
I nodded, settling Brayden down into his stroller. My hands smoothed his pale legs, only then realizing he was wearing different clothes than the ones I'd dropped him off in. I looked up at my husband quizzically.
"Doggett had a mishap."
"Ahh. He was hit by the Brayden super spray, huh?" I kissed Brayden's foot.
"Yeah," Mulder chuckled.
"I hope Agent Doggett wasn't too upset." I murmured, taking a moment to kiss Brayden's chubby cheek. He smiled and squirmed a little, settling willingly into his nap. I watched his mouth pout just like his father, and stood, reaching for Fox's hand. He squeezed my fingers, and moved closer behind me. I looked over my shoulder as I started to push the stroller in the general direction of the office.
"We should have done this more often; walked with the kids when they were babies."
"Yes, we should have," he sighed. "That's mostly my fault. I should have let us be there a lot more."
"It's not all your fault, Fox."
We stopped at a crosswalk.
"I don't know if I want to go back to work, not even part time. I want to be able to stay at home with the girls and Brayden."
"You're going to be fine, you know. But I'll support you if that's what you want."
By the time I nodded, we'd made it to the Hoover building. I smiled slightly at familiar faces, feeling entirely comfortable with the baby in front of me and my husband behind me. After so many years of hiding, I was surprised it was so easy to walk through the FBI as Fox Mulder's wife, not just his partner.
"Agent Scully? It's good to see you."
I turned to greet Skinner, feeling a genuine smile work across my face.
"You're still on leave, Scully, Walter," he smiled uncharacteristically, and squatted down to look at Brayden.
"I heard that you'd brought him in."
"I had an appointment, and I figured that a morning with his father would be okay."
"May I?" Skinner looked up at me. I nodded, feeling Fox's hand slide around my waist. Skinner unhooked Brayden from the chair and lifted his babysitting charge up, covering his face with noisy kisses.
Mulder and I exchanged amused embarrassed looks. Our boss was never so open with his emotions. After a moment though, even Brayden smiled.
I squeezed Mulder's steadying hand gently.
"I'm going to the ladies room."
"Okay," he smiled, looking around quickly before ducking his head. "If he starts the baby talk, I'm joining you."
When I returned, the baby was sleeping in Mulder's arms, and Skinner was nowhere in sight.
"He got a call," Mulder explained, shifting Brayden to a cradle position. I nodded, steering the now empty stroller to the elevator. Once inside I closed my eyes.
"I'm okay," I murmured unconvincingly.
Mulder eventually shoved me out the door, claiming I was doing too much work. He decided to help out by keeping the baby with him. When I got home, Mila's car was in the driveway, and she was at the kitchen table reading.
"Hey, Mom," she flashed me a grin over her shoulder.
"She was asleep when I got here."
"At one in the afternoon?"
"Kiera Ann! Get your butt out of bed right now!"
"I am, I am, I am, geez. I was just in the shower!!" Kiera groused, shaking her wet hair at me and Mila.
"I would ask how late you two were out last night, but I don't really want to know."
"Too late, with one too many partying people." Kiera sat down beside her best friend and grabbed her drink.
"Well, tonight it's an early night. You've got to be rested for tomorrow."
Kiera rolled her eyes. "Mo-om."
"Kiera," I whined back. "You haven't moved out yet," I warned.
Grinning, Mila snatched her coke out of Kiera's hand, pushing at Kiera's belly to make her retreat.
"With your father. I dropped him off for the day...about six hours ago."
Mila pushed Kiera's shoulders, and Kiera bumped her right back. "Sorry Mil, he'll be home soon."
"Oh, shut up," she shot back, grinning.
"Well, I'll let the two of you argue," I stood, patting both of their heads affectionately.
I settled in the study, not really sure of what I could be doing. I cleaned up a little bit, and sent some emails before being ordered by Fox to leave the study alone. I did some laundry, making sure that Kiera's dress was ready, and that her cap and gown were neatly pressed.
I sat down on the floor in front of my bed, reaching into the basket of unfolded laundry. I smiled, finding a note from Fox. He must have written it before our anniversary, but avoided giving it to me.
My eyes widened when I realized that he had written it before our anniversary...well before our anniversary; in 1977. The year before he told me how he felt about me.
I settled back against the bed frame, opening my letter. My heart melted as I read Fox's words, so unsure and sweet. He was so sincere, but so insecure. He wanted me to know that he loved me, and that regardless of how I felt about him, he'd always be my friend.
I looked up, happy tears sliding down my cheeks.
"Why're you crying?" he asked, scrambling to sit beside me, pulling me into his arms, nearly in his lap. His thumbs stroked my cheekbones. "What'd I do?"
"Sweet, beautiful man," I kissed him wetly, burying my face in his neck.
"I don't mean to sound dense, but I seem to have once again missed something...what's going on?"
"I found your note," I hiccupped. "I believe you, Fox."
I handed him the letter. He read it to himself softly, running his hand over my hair.
"Wow, I was such a nerd."
I laughed. "It's the sweetest thing you've ever written. You should have given it to me."
"I thought you would tell me I was being stupid. I was going to give it to you back in February, but I forgot."
I laughed into his neck.
He pulled away, reaching out to cup my chin. "I promise, if you are sick, I will find a way to make you better."
I nodded and he continued. "I swear, Scully. I've loved you for nearly a lifetime, and damn it, it's not enough."
I smiled softly, nodding and tightening my arms around him.
The next morning, Fox and the girls made breakfast for me and Kiera. Kiera spent most of her breakfast looking outside.
"Kiera?" Mulder called.
"What?" she looked back at the table. "Sorry," she apologized.
"Yeah. A little. Okay, a lot."
"You'll be great."
"I just hate preparing speeches."
"Well, if you forget, you can always make something up," Mulder grinned, reaching out his arm to encircle her shoulders. "You'll be amazing, Kiera."
Kiera looked outside again, murmuring, "Thanks, Daddy," hollowly.
My hand reached out to take his. Mulder smiled, twining our fingers together. His other hand reached out to poke Amara and Emily.
Holding his hand, I finished my breakfast, never taking my eyes off our sullen teenager.
Mulder's arms slid comfortably around my waist. I smiled, letting my eyes close and his cheek rest against mine.
"Baby's down for a nap."
"Good. They're all going to be wired tonight."
"Mmm. Dance with me, Scully."
I felt his hips brush mine, and we began to sway in the kitchen. I let him lead, preferring to savor the feel of him surrounding me.
He began to hum, making me smile. Once I recognized the tune I joined in. His humming never faltered even as his lips pressed to my hairline, my temple, my cheekbones, and then later my mouth.
We broke apart, smiling sheepishly. My eyes slid open.
"What was that for?"
"How do you feel?" he murmured, his hands kneading my sides.
"Alive, I feel alive."
"Good," he kissed my forehead. "You are."
I nodded, "I am."
He nodded, smiling and kissed me again softly.
Mulder and I both turned. Kiera was leaning against the counter, looking green to the gills. I pushed away from Fox, going over to Kiera's introverted form.
"I can't do it, Mom."
"Sure you can. Trash-talking aside, you're a great public speaker. You'll be fine."
"It's not, it's not that."
My hand held her head to my shoulder while she took deep breaths.
"What is it then?"
"I can't even wash my socks right, or keep the same boyfriend for three weeks, how am I going to live alone?"
I kissed her forehead. "Kiera, do you see me packing your life into boxes? We're buying you all new stuff because we want everything to stay here. This will always be your home. And as for your laundry, if you need to, send it home, it's not like I'm going to be lacking clothing to wash and dry. And besides, sometimes I wonder if your daddy just took me to England with him so I could help do his laundry."
Kiera giggled, pulling away and wiping her eyes. I grinned over at Fox. He leaned across the counter, pointing his finger at me.
"That is libel criticism, woman."
"Not libel if it's true," Kiera retorted, grinning. She and her father loved to trade barbs using their history knowledge.
"Not true. If I had solely wanted someone to do my laundry, I would have found someone who wasn't as cute, or as expensive to feed."
"You're a jackass, Mulder," I rolled my eyes. He grinned.
He reached over, touching Kiera's chin. "You'll be great, Tiger. You're talented, and smart, and responsible. Plus, we've got Mila to keep you in line."
"Besides, we've still got you all summer long. We'll make you so tired of us that you won't even miss us," I squeezed her tightly. She nodded, still a little unsure.
"Go sit outside for a while, Kiera," Mulder smiled. "You'll feel better out in the sun."
As I released her, I turned to my husband, resting a teasing grin in my hand.
"Speaking of being out in the sun, aren't you supposed to be mowing the lawn?"
"I didn't hear you complaining when I was seducing you."
"I don't want to hear this!" Kiera called, closing the door behind her.
Fox grinned. "And I didn't hear complaining while I was putting the baby to bed."
I knocked him on the side of the head lightly. "That, my friend, is part of your job. Other parts include mowing the lawn and keeping me completely happy."
"We need a lawn service," he grumbled. I moved around the counter, wrapping my arms around his waist.
"Sorry lawn boy."
Fox pouted playfully. "I should get paid more."
My eyebrow arched. "Keep complaining and you'll never get paid," I grinned.
"I'll go. Slave driver."
When I woke Brayden from his nap, I carried him outside to sit with Kiera. I stopped when Mulder grinned back at me.
"Okay, if you're here, who's...?" I looked. "Mulder! You're making a ten-year-old mow the lawn?"
"She asked, Scully! Why not?"
"Go help her, now!"
When I sat down, Kiera reached over to lift Brayden out of my arms. She curled her arms around him, supporting his legs as she stood him on her lap.
She covered his face with kisses, cooing, "You're my favorite little brother, ever."
"He's your only little brother, Kiera. I can almost promise you that."
Kiera bounced Brayden, giggling along with him. I smiled in affection at the two of them. There was no doubt they were related.
"I'm going to miss you so much, Bray," she whispered, resting her cheek on his. I touched her temple gently.
"You've got all summer, Kiera. You're not leaving for good. Besides, we'll still have all your stuff, so I know you won't go far."
Kiera laughed, passing her brother back to me. I swung Brayden up, blowing a raspberry on his belly. His happy squeal made me smile.
"So I was thinking about having a party, is that okay?" Kiera fished. I grinned; we'd been keeping Kiera's graduation party a secret, including the time, place, and guest list.
"Nice try, 'Ra."
I reached across the table for my commandeered iced tea, patting Brayden's tummy in a soft, practiced pattern. He reached up, patting my neck.
"Well, hello," I nuzzled his neck gently. "I figured you'd want some tea, like your daddy." I kissed his nose. "But you can't have this yet."
I picked up a bottle, offering it to Brayden. He turned his head away, stubbornly refusing my efforts to feed him. I laughed, raising him up to my shoulder, patting his back.
My hands trembled, and I closed my eyes against his hair. I kissed his head and settled him against my elbow while my other hand reached over for Kiera's.
"Are you okay?" she asked.
I smiled, "Yeah, I'm okay."
June 8, 2001
I shifted Brayden's diaper bag, looking ahead of me to where Amara was trying to ignore Emily as she pushed up the crowded stairs to find a spot where she would be able to see Kiera.
"Amara, hold onto Emily's hand," I called.
Amara huffed a sigh and reached back to grab Emily's wrist.
"Amara," Mulder warned from behind me, "be careful." I looked back at him and nodded, letting him and Brayden go ahead of me. Brayden's eyes widened when he spotted me over his father's shoulder. I waved, smiling.
"Hi, baby boy."
We settled on seats beside Mila's mother, and in front of Kiera's last boyfriend. My mother squeezed in next to me, eagerly brandishing her camera.
I rolled my eyes as she snapped unsolicited pictures of me.
"You really didn't need to bring that, Mom," I told her, leaning back to avoid being hit by shoes and hair and the like as Emily carried Brayden to their grandmother.
"Of course I did, Dana. Don't be ridiculous, I want to remember my first grandbaby's high school graduation."
"We're buying the professional package, Mom."
"Nothing's better than family photos, Dana."
She patted Brayden's back, extending an arm to Emily. Emily hugged her grandmother, accepting kisses before returning to her father's side.
My mom reached over, patting my hand. "You look tired."
I shrugged slightly. "Kiera has been having anxiety attacks."
"Is she nervous about her speech?"
"No, mostly about going away. It does make sense; she's never really been on her own without a family member or a family friend."
"And you're sure that's the only thing you're worried about?"
I squeezed her hand, "I'll talk to you about it later."
"Okay," Mom smiled, looking over my head, reaching out to touch Amara's shoulder. "Come here, I feel like I haven't seen you in forever."
Amara stood, moving past me to hug her grandmother. After a few seconds, my son was passed back to me so that it could be Amara and her grandmother.
As I was scooting closer to Fox and Emily, I felt a tap on my shoulder.
"Hi, Mrs. Mulder."
"Hi, Caden. How are you? When did you get out of classes?"
"I'm doing really well. Classes ended mid-May. Wow, look at him, your son's gotten so big."
"He turned six months last week."
"Was it really only March when I last saw him? He was so little when Kiera and I were dating."
I bounced Brayden lightly before settling him against my shoulder. "Speaking of, and I'm not prying, I didn't think you'd be here, considering the past tense you just used."
"She doesn't know I came. I wanted it to be a surprise."
I smiled, "She'll be happy to see you."
Caden leaned over slightly, smiling at Brayden. "I don't think he's going to make it past the welcome remarks."
I felt Brayden shift as Mulder rubbed his back. "I don't think he really cares much. Here, I'll take him."
My hand smoothed Brayden's growing curls and I smiled softly as his hand slid into his mouth. He blinked at me once and then turned his head into his father's neck.
"Good night, Mom," Caden grinned from behind me.
"Yeah, I get that look a lot in this household," I remarked dryly, looking at my watch to see how much longer we would have to wait. Much to my enjoyment, the band director stood, tapping his music stand and beginning the Pomp and Circumstance march.
My mother immediately began to snap pictures as the Valedictorian led the charge of graduates down the field, Kiera being second in line. Kiera looked around, smiling up at the crowd. I squeezed Fox's hand softly, wondering where his fingers came from.
"Easy there, she hasn't even gotten to her seat yet. Save the waterworks for her speech," Mulder murmured, pressing his lips into my temple.
I smiled, accepting Emily as she settled on my lap. Holding her made it easier to avoid crying. We all sat in silence, save for the frequent sound of the shutter of mom's camera.
"Save film, Mom, she's got a pretty long speech coming up," Mulder grinned.
Once the 300-something graduates had all entered the stadium, we were all asked to stand for the pledge of allegiance. Once we were seated again, Kiera's principle welcomed everyone to the commencement ceremonies, and introduced the first speaker; the Dean of Students at George Washington University.
He spoke of the promise Kiera's generation held. His own child, his only son had been killed in the Gulf War, and he'd spent the years since trying to relay his message. Live up to your potential, do what you love. Be anything and everything that you can be.
He spoke for nearly forty minutes, but it flew by as if only a few minutes. The next speaker was the keynote speaker, and he emphasized all the same points made by the Dean of Students. He encouraged all the students seated before him to stand up, to commit to their new responsibilities, to begin college with the knowledge that they'd achieved great things.
His speech was even longer than the first. I knew Emily was bored by the way she sighed and squirmed in my arms. Thankfully, though, Kiera's principal retook the podium before I had to remove Emily from the ceremony. He gave a short address, saying wonderful things about both Kiera and the valedictorian, Sarah. Then he introduced Kiera.
"Thank you," Amara muttered, shifting beside me. I flashed a grin, resting my cheek on Mulder's shoulder.
My eyes filled as Kiera stepped up to the podium. "Thank you."
"She's beautiful, Fox," I murmured, hugging his arm.
"Yes she is," he turned, kissing my forehead.
I settled Emily beside me, holding onto her hand as Kiera looked down at her notes.
"I had a speech prepared," she began thoughtfully, "and it was a really good one. But in light of everything that's been said already, it's monotonous, and I don't want to be remembered as the redundant speaker from my high school graduation."
Kiera looked up at the stands, and I knew she was looking at me. She raised her speech paper to the microphone and ripped it up. "Life isn't prepared. It can't be planned, and it can't be controlled. That's what it's going to be like going to college. Pre-school, elementary school, high school, it's all been practice. It's a rehearsal for opening night of the biggest, most important show of your life."
Kiera bent, looking at her trashed notes, as if to gain wisdom from them. "I know we're prepared. We've had support and help from our teachers and our families. We're going to be okay. I've only begun to realize the responsibilities that face us; but I know that if we take our parents' advice, and keep them in our lives the way they've kept us in theirs; we're going to succeed in everything we do."
She looked around the graduates, "I know many of you, my fellow graduates, and I can only look back at the last four years, wishing I'd gotten to know you all. These last years have been our most trying times to date, and it is our strength as a group that has brought us this far. I only can hope that the lessons we've learned, and the friends that we've made along the way will be able to bring us into our new and exciting journey. Thank you," Kiera stepped down, swiping at her eyes.
Mulder's handkerchief appeared in my hands and I blew my nose noisily. "She's amazing, Fox," I sobbed. Mulder looked around; passing Brayden's sleeping form to Caden so that he could encircle me in his embrace. I buried my face in his shoulder, unable to control my tears.
"Shh, Dana, shh," he kissed my temple, his embrace rocking gently. I sniffed, turning to look out at the field. His thumbs brushed my cheekbones, soothing my tears once more. After a minute we both turned to collect Brayden. My arm encircled Emily's shoulders, and Amara's hand laced with mine.
We sat together as a family for the rest of the ceremony. I both laughed and cried at the same time when Kiera stepped up to accept her diploma and once it was ensconced in her hand, she spun around, lifting her maroon gown to reveal "Class of '01" embroidered on the inside.
The crowd laughed, and I watched as she shot her thumbs up in our general direction as her sisters cheered for her. Thankfully Mulder had removed the air horn from the gallery of guests close enough to us to wake Brayden, because the racket caused by their voices alone was enough to cause him to stir.
We all stood, applauding as the final graduate was announced. The class of 2001 stood, cheering and throwing their caps high up into the air. After cheering for them, the crowd began to pack up their stuff.
Mom gathered up her oldest grandchildren while Mulder and I gathered Brayden's plethora of things. We padded down the bleachers and out onto the field, eager to greet Kiera. As we all hugged Kiera, my mom made sure to snap pictures. After holding my eldest baby tightly, I kissed her forehead and backed away.
"There's someone else here to see you."
I squeezed her shoulders, moving to her side to allow Caden to step forward. Kiera grinned, moving forward and tossing her arms around his shoulders. He grinned over at me before closing his eyes and pressing his beard into her neck.
"What is this?" Kiera teased, leaning back to tug on his facial hair.
"It's rugged, and manly."
"It's silly!" she grinned. "You've got such a baby face, why are you ruining it with that thing?"
"You always did know how to make me feel welcome."
I felt Mulder's hand tighten on my waist.
"Don't make me watch this, Scully."
I grinned, leading him away just as Caden took my daughter's cheeks between his palms.
We stopped walking once we got underneath the bleachers. Mulder's hands landed on my waist, drawing me close. I was distinctly, and almost guiltily glad that I'd relinquished Brayden to my mother.
"She was just a baby the last time I looked, Scully. What happened?"
I squeezed his waist, pressing my lips to his and whispering, "You've done a good job. That's what happened."
We arrived home after a happy, laughter-filled dinner. Kiera's arms had never strayed far from Caden, and mine had never strayed from Mulder. Kiera was helping my mom put Brayden to bed when I noticed the machine light blinking.
Mulder muted the TV and crossed over to stand behind me, his presence comforting when Jamie, my oncologist's voice filtered across the speakers.
"Dana, it's Jamie. I'm so sorry to call you at home, especially since my news was so terrible the last time we spoke. Dana, you're probably going to want to come in as soon as you can, there's been a mistake."
"What kind of a mistake?" Mulder hissed from behind me.
"I was looking at your chart and I noticed some irregularities. I rechecked the samples we have on file, and I was right. You're in perfect health, Dana. There's no recurrence of the cancer, you're still in remission, you're cured even. I'm so, incredibly sorry for the mix up, Dana. You can feel free to call me no matter how late and I'll make arrangements for you to come into the office tomorrow. Once again, I'm so sorry."
I hit the 'stop' button, my hands shaking. Mulder's breath was labored from behind me, and I trusted him to catch me as I fell back into him.
"We're okay. You're okay," he murmured, his lips kissing my cheek and ear. "I told you you'd be okay."
I turned in his arms, wrapping my arms around his neck and squeezing. He massaged my shoulder blades, bending to kiss me.
"Mo-om! Dad! Please! It was bad enough when they threatened to escort you from campus, please!" Kiera murmured, exasperated.
We broke apart, stopping to peck at each other's lips lightly.
"Love you," he murmured, brushing his thumb across my cheek.
"Better?" I asked.
"Much, thank you," Kiera moved to the back door, waiting for us to give her the okay before she went outside with her...boyfriend.
Fox's hand laced with mine and he leaned in, kissing me again softly. "You're okay."
Two hours later I rolled over, looking for Mulder but he wasn't in bed. I tugged on a sweatshirt to cover my pajamas and padded downstairs. Kiera's head turned slightly from its location on Caden's belly, looking up at me and smiling as Caden stroked her hair.
"Hey, Mom. What're you doing up?"
"You seen your dad?"
"He went out back, something about shooting hoops."
I found him sitting on the top step of the deck. "Fox? It's three am, what's wrong?" I sat down beside him, wrapping my arms around his shoulders and resting my chin on his collarbone. He squeezed my hands.
"Can you imagine having to put both of them through school?"
I laughed. "They probably would have had to share salutatorian to avoid an international incident."
"And they'd have fought about who would get to wear what dress to graduation."
"They'd have masterminded some sort of prank on their last week."
"They'd have both been beautiful, Scully."
I squeezed his neck, resting my head on his shoulder. He turned, pressing his lips into my hairline.
"Nice threads," he mumbled, plucking his fingers at my Oxford University sweatshirt.
"I'd have an Oxford university letter jacket to wear too, if you hadn't been such a slacker in college," I grinned.
"I'll have you know that I didn't need to play a sport to prove my masculinity in college. The fruits of my manliness just happened to have been two children."
"You're right, that's better than a jacket."
"And more expensive, too," he grinned, letting me slap him gently.
"What're you thinking about?"
"Making a career change."
He shook his head. "Maybe it's time. I've found Sam; I've stopped everything I set out to stop: colonization, the cloning experiments, future abductions of our kids. Maybe it's time to let the X-Files go."
I kissed his shoulder. "What would you do?"
"For the first couple months? Stay at home and make you crazy. Then maybe I'd look into teaching, or writing, something that I can put my skills to good use."
"Now this month or so of making me crazy, would these be the same skills you use in the classroom?" I giggled, an uncharacteristic squeal falling from my lips as he pushed me toward the side of the stairs.
After a moment, I reached for his hand, squeezing his fingers. "I think that's a good idea, making a change. I think it's a good idea all around."
He smiled gratefully, knowing I wouldn't try to talk him out of it if he really was certain. I reached over, stroking his cheek and kissing his mouth. When we broke apart, his arm wrapped around my shoulder, holding me to his side.
His arm tightened around me. I felt his lips against my hair. After a minute I felt his whispered words.
"I am too."
I smiled, my life was good.
-- Cathey http://truthlostmsr.livejournal.com
"You say this is greater than us, and maybe it is, but this is us fighting this fight, Mulder, not you. It's you and me. That's what I'm fighting for, Mulder. You and me."