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I Want To Believe by Samantha

Title: I Want To Believe II: Trying
Author: Samantha
Archive: Go ahead, but let me know. (OK for XFF, ATXC and Gossamer)
Rated: PG-13 for bad language
Category: XAR
Spoilers: All the way up to halfway through Zero Sum, plus Emily [see Author's notes]
Keywords: Mulder/Scully married, Alternate universe
Disclaimer: How do I disclaim this? Let me count the ways... OK, OK, OK. I'll do it properly. They're not mine. All the people you recognize anyway. They belong to this guy called Chris Carter - some of you may know the name - and his company, 1013 - some of you may know the number - as well as Fox - OK, everyone knows them [with apologies to James Bond! LOL]. The people you don't recognize are mine, but anyone can use them if they want. Apart from Chris, 'coz he won't do what I want him to with *his* people. *g*
Feedback: Yes please. Feedback keeps me healthy and my hair shiny. Not really, but if making you think so will make you send me feedback, then believe it. *vbg*

Summary: Sequel to I Want To Believe. The life of a child hangs in balance.

Author's notes: In case you hadn't already noticed, this one's a sequel. It won't make sense if you don't read the first one (which you can find on my webpage http://come.to/SamanthasX-Files (shameless plug!)). But in case you don't remember... In this universe, Zero Sum kinda half happened. Skinner did all the stuff for CSM, but Mulder never found out. That's where we come into it. What Skinner did isn't part of the issue though. As far as we're concerned, we don't know. Hell, it could be something completely different from what he did in Demons. So that's what I mean by half of it: we know his complicity and that he did stuff. We just don't know what. Nothing beyond that happens/has happened. Except for one thing that I didn't notice before: there's a plot anomaly. So the whole Emily saga has already happened, OK? (Yes, I'm screwing with the timeline. Yes, I don't care.)


It's a sparse room.

No ornaments, or fussy designs, just the bare essentials. Even so, it paints a painfully accurate picture of its owners, with its sad darkness and harsh corners.

Hidden away, if you know where to look, are signs of the softer side. From beneath a carefully plumped pillow, the silk edge of a pick shirt collar protrudes. Under the bed, a pair of Marvin the Martian boxer shorts lie forgotten, collecting dust.

There is just one luxury. On the chest of drawers, standing uncomfortably conspicuously, is a large photo frame, holding three pictures.

In the middle, an auburn-haired woman, lit by a halo of white, smiles at the camera, brandishing a cake knife, whilst a tall dark man in a tuxedo holds her hand, guiding it towards the snow-white cake before them. The cake is almost plain, decorated only by a large X, white icing on white icing, traced by its shadows.

Next to it is a small picture of a middle-aged, dark- haired woman, leaning back in a restaurant, cradling a glass of red wine. Scrawled across the starched tablecloth are the words "I love you both". It is signed "Mom".

On the other side of the wedding photo is a birthday picture, the auburn-haired woman guiding her one-year-old daughter's hand as they cut into the pink sponge cake.

In the doorway to the room, the tall dark man stands, bracing himself. He goes to the chest of drawers, and picks up the frame, wiping it with his palm. As he falls to his knees, sobbing, he holds it to his heart, rocking back and forth.


"OK honey, Daddy's going to put you down now, alright?" Kneeling down on the floor, he let his daughter clamber off his shoulders. As she took a step away from him, she tripped falling face down onto the grass, giggling as she rolled over onto her back.

"Daddy play."

"Daddy says go find Easter eggs with Emily."

"Then Daddy play."

"Then Daddy play."

Contented, she took her cousin's proffered hand and toddled off around the corner, leaving him alone with his sister, who through all this had been watching with a sentimental smile on her face. Knowing her as he did, he knew the reason for the wistful look, and knew not to question it or bring it up. Instead, he asked her about her daughter, Emily. The smile grew slightly stronger as she talked of her attempts to read, and her scrubbed crayon drawings on the fridge, though her eyes still held a tinge of sadness. Soon they moved on to other subjects, and slowly the wound began to scab over again, and after some time, they were again laughing and joking as before.

A scream rang clear in the crisp air, and pounding footsteps rustled the dry grass. Little hands pushed their way through the hedges, and the blonde girl, Emily, emerged, breathless and wide-eyed. She ran helplessly to her mother, throwing herself into her arms and sobbing uncontrollably.

Chrissie was nowhere to be seen. Running around the bush where she had first disappeared, he ran up and down the rows of well-groomed shrubs, but she had disappeared completely. A wind of icy daggers was blowing, but he was sweating, and though he could not feel the cold of the wind battering his face, another different cold was growing inside him.

At last, he burst out onto the lawn again, only to find one tiny shoe lying on the ground before him. Under it was pinned a note. Trembling, he kicked aside the shoe, and looked down at the note.

'Do you believe?'

"Scully."

"Dana..." The hoarse voice in the other end was choked, the breathing ragged. Scully's eyes widened, alarmed.

"Fox? Mulder? Is that you?"

"They took her, Dana."

There was a long silence. At last, she breathed, "How?"

"She... went to find... the Easter eggs."

"And you weren't watching her?" Her silence had begun to melt away into a red-hot rage.

"I was talking to Samantha. I thought... I thought she'd be safe."

"Goddammit, Mulder, we're never safe. You should know that. Trust no-one, Fox, isn't that right? Well, you trusted yourself, and you trusted her to keep away from strangers, and you were wrong. And now you've lost my only daughter, the only child I'm ever likely to have, and I swear to you that I will make you pay." Without waiting for a reply, she thumbed the phone's power button, cutting him off. Running to her car, she drove straight back to her, no, their flat. Fumbling with the keys, she let herself in and pulled out a bag, shoving in a few essential items. Still blind with fury and pain, she climbed back into the car, and headed out to her mother's.

Frustrated and upset, he looked at his phone, unable to register what she had said. Dialing again, he discovered that she had switched her phone off. Angrily, he threw it into the backseat.

Whoever had taken his daughter was a part of the conspiracy. Time to call in some favours. He turned to look at his sister, who stood anxiously at the window.

"Samantha, I need you to talk to your father. Ask him what it's about. Why they took her." He was now beyond the screaming stage, and had settled into a calm, unresponsive monotone.

There was a silence. "I'll talk to him right away."

Biting his lip, he looked down at Emily, who clutched her mother's neck tightly, eyes still wide with shock. He would talk to her later. Right now, he needed to find his wife, and fast.

He drove like a madman, though breaking only the speed laws, and screeched to a halt in front of the apartment building. Looking around, he noticed that her car wasn't there, but he hoped anyway that she would be up there waiting for him, even though he knew that it was all but impossible. He found the door still unlocked, and pushed his way warily into the apartment. It was empty, though he could still smell her.

He ran out of the apartment again, climbing into the car. Putting the car in gear again, he drove up and down the streets, peering frantically out of the windows at the seemingly endless streams of toddling red-haired girls.

At last, he pulled up outside his old apartment. In the year and a bit since Chrissie's birth, Samantha and Emily had moved up to live near him and his family. They now occupied his old flat, and he was sure the neighbors were better off for it.

Running up the stairs, he knocked on the familiar door. It opened to reveal his sister, red-eyed, who let him in. Emily lay curled into a ball on the cream sofa, her thumb stuck into her mouth.

Mulder crossed over to her. "Emily?"

Her eyes flicked up to him, and for a brief moment, pain met pain. Then she looked away again. He continued to sit there, his hand resting next to her on the couch, as she sucked her thumb. Then suddenly, she pulled it out.

"It was the man."

"What man?"

"He was big. And scary. And he had black hair."

"Can you remember anything else?"

"He had a jacket like you." She fingered his leather jacket, and then looked up at him again. "He had a gun. And he was pointing it at us. And he was grabbing Chrissie. And he took her..." With each sentence, her little voice grew higher and higher, and she spoke faster and faster, until at last she stopped, eyes widened. She stared up at Mulder for a moment, and then jammed her thumb back into her mouth.

Samantha touched him lightly on the shoulder. "Dad doesn't know anything about it."

His eyes blazed. "Bastard. He knows." He got up, ready to fight, but Samantha placed her hands on his shoulders firmly.

"Fox, he doesn't know anything. He was surprised, and then angry. Just because he didn't help you before, it doesn't mean he's not helping you now. You have to trust me on this, Fox." She held on to him earnestly, until he hung his head, nodding slightly. Slowly, she let go, sighing as he dropped to his knees, tears welling in his eyes. "Fox, we'll find her. I know we will." She knelt down to join him.

"Will Uncle Fox find Chrissie?"

Emily's dulcet tones were anything but innocent. Since she was just a baby, she had known the secrets held within her. She had known also of what lay beyond closed doors, but even though she knew, she could not reach the knowledge. They lay locked inside her, just out of reach, and so she grew into a wary child, friendly only to those she knew.

Samantha was quick to reply. "Yes, sweetheart, Uncle Fox and Grandpa are going to find Chrissie. There's no need to worry, honey." But her eyes told her daughter a different story, and that was the one she accepted quietly, her thumb reinserted.

Samantha looked at Mulder. He sat back on his legs, one elbow resting on the coffee table, his head resting in that hand. His eyes were wide and dry, as though he was refusing to cry, denying his body the chance to release some of its suffering.

Sighing, she got up and went into the kitchen, where she found the remains of a bottle of wine. There was nothing stronger, so it would have to do. Coming out again, she found him in the same position as before, staring at some undefined spot in another dimension. She doubted if he had blinked since she'd been gone.

Kneeling before him, she poured out a glass of wine, and offered it to him. Wordlessly, he took it in his free hand and proceeded to tip it down his throat. When he had finished, he held out the glass again, and she filled it again, no questions asked.

They sat in tense silence for a while. The bottle of wine grew warm in her hand, and the glass sat forgotten in his, as she contemplated him, and he contemplated the end of the world. Breaking out of her reverie, she retrieved the glass, and got up to put them back in the kitchen. As she came out into the hall again, she caught him walking away.

"Fox? Where are you going?"

Without looking at her, he opened the door. "Gotta find Scully," he mumbled, and stumbled out of the door, whilst his sister watched in pain.

By now, it was starting to get dark. The streets were almost empty, and those who were out and about were certainly not little girls. However, he did not waste the opportunity to search, and search he did, until at last he returned home. As he pushed the door open, he remembered the days when he had returned to an empty home like this every night, and wished bitterly that he could have been born to a normal family.

Slowly, he made a tour of the house, looking for her. He knew she wasn't there. She couldn't be. She wouldn't be. And yet he hoped. Into the kitchen, the nursery, the dining room. At last, he stood before the darkened doorway to the bedroom. Forcing himself, he reached in and switched on the dim light.

"Oh Mom, I don't know what to do. I've been such an idiot. It's not his fault, and I should know that. We could be as careful as we could and they'd still find her, wouldn't they? But she's gone, Mom, my baby's gone. What am I going to do without my baby?"

Maggie Scully sighed, and looked down at the table. Her daughter had turned up on her doorstep just half an hour ago, mumbling something about Mulder and Chrissie. Forcing her to sit down, she'd let her launch into the story. And then discovered that there wasn't that much of a story to launch into. Chrissie was gone. She'd blamed Mulder and come to her. And now, on her fifth glass of wine, she was rambling, and making very little sense at all.

"... and I blamed him too, and I'm always blaming him, but it's his fault, isn't it? I mean, he was meant to be looking after her, and he didn't, because now she's gone. But I know he's hurting as much as I am and..."

"Dana, listen to me." Maggie cut in sharply over her daughter's Ramblings. "I know you blame Fox, and that's perfectly natural, and I'm glad part of you realises that it wasn't his fault. But you have to pull yourself together and help him, or else you'll never see her again, do you hear me?"

The phone rang, shocking the two of them. Maggie gave her daughter one last look, and then crossed over to pick up the phone.

"Hello?... Yes, she's right here. Dana, it's for you." She held the phone out to Scully, who got up slowly.

"Hello?"

"Dana... she needs your help. She needs you, Dana. Go to her."

"Missy!"

There was a click as the phone-line was disconnected. Scully stared at the telephone in disbelief, and then dialled the FBI office. Within moments, she was having the last call traced.

Florida. 731 Medley Road. Samantha's old home.


Chrissie's first birthday. It was so wonderful. We were a family, a normal family. For that one day, we put aside all the horrors of the past and focussed on the present. Not the future, for the future is full of unseens and terrors. The present. The present, a gift to us from a god I don't believe in, a gift of life. On that day, my darling wife played her role of mother, and I willingly took the role of father. Our child, formed through means other than our own, celebrated the victory of conquering a year. All of 365 days. We were happy then.

On the other side, our wedding day. It was nothing big. Nothing extravagant. A small occasion, but it was what we had wanted. We had been happy in the summer sunshine, accompanied by our unborn daughter.

And Maggie. Mom. No words to describe her, because none can be great enough to paint a picture of the immense love she holds for all her children. And yes, that includes me. I am forbidden to call her anything but Mom.

Contained in one frame, the happiest parts of my life. The rest are shrouded in darkness and hatred, marionettes with strings manipulated by figures in the shadowy lofts of life's attic.

"Dana, you're in no fit state to drive. Look at you!"

"Mom, I have to find her. I have to find Mulder. I never told him where I was." She was alert now, struggling to put her shoes back on. Succeeding, she stood up, placing her hands on her mother's shoulders. "Mom, I promise you, I'll be careful. But this is very important to me. What would you do in my situation?"

The two women stood in the hallway for a moment, silently holding The End of their conversation. Then Scully pulled away, and ran out of the house to her car. Driving the familiar roads back to their home, she ran through the possibilities of where he might be. And then it hit her.

"Fuck!" Skidding wildly, she pulled over onto the roadside and climbed over into the backseat. Scrabbling around, she dug under the cushions and carpets. "C'mon, c'mon, c'mon... Ah-ha!" She waved her cell phone in the air triumphantly, and dialed an extremely familiar number.

It rang. And it rang. And it rang. For a moment, the thought that he might not have it with him crossed her mind, but she dismissed it swiftly. Catatonic schizophrenia, remember? she chided herself.

At last, he answered. "Mulder."

"Mulder... it's me."

On the other end of the line, Mulder gripped the phone hard. "Scully?"

"Oh god, Mulder, I'm so sorry. I didn't mean it. I know you couldn't help it, and I'm so sorry. Where are you?"

"I'm... at home." Kneeling on the bedroom floor, he added silently.

"I'm coming. You stay right there. I think I may have a lead."

He nodded, before he realised she couldn't see him, but by then she had hung up again. Putting the phone to one side, he looked down again at the photo in his hand. Slowly, he got up, placing it back in its place, and plodded out into the living room to await her arrival.

Scully arrived to find her husband asleep on the couch. She smiled sadly. He had obviously been seriously affected by the abduction. No, change the subject. She could not allow herself to think of it. She had to be the strong one, since he obviously would not.

"Mulder. Fox. Wake up, it's me, Dana."

He turned over, squinting up at her. She stroked his forehead. "I have a lead. You're going to have to come with me, because I don't think I can do this on my own. I need you there, Mulder. I need you to be there for me, OK?"

Wordlessly, he pushed himself up onto his elbows, watching her as she waited for a response. "Where are we going?"

"Your sister's old house. C'mon."

"No lights."

"Mulder, it's 4 o'clock in the morning. Only madmen are up at 4 in the morning."

"Are we madmen?"

"Yes."

For a moment, they sat in the car in silence, before Scully switched the engine on again. "So you wanna find somewhere to eat?"

"Mmm-hmm."

"What was your lead?"

"Hmm?"

Scully looked up from the coffee she held cupped in her hands, blinking. They had been sitting in silence for some time now, each thinking their identical thoughts about the fate of their daughter.

"What was your lead?"

She sighed. "It was... Melissa."

"Melissa?"

"Mulder, I never told you this, but I found Emily because of a phone call that was made to my brother's house. It was someone who sounded remarkably like my sister, and she told me to 'go to her'. So I traced the call and found myself at the Sims. Last night, I got a call at my mom's house. And it was her again, and she said the same thing, and the call came from here." She fell silent again, stirring the coffee with her spoon.

Mulder reached across the table, taking her free hand in his. "I'm sorry."

She shook her head. "Don't be. It's OK. It's nice to know there's someone on our side in the Great Beyond." She smiled slightly, but a silent tear rolled down her cheek.

With his other hand, Mulder leaned across and wiped it away. "At least you still get to talk to her, right?" he said softly.

She laughed. "Yeah. Talk to my dead sister. You think it's time to see a psychiatrist?"

"No, but you could always see a psychologist." Mulder smiled at her. Pausing for a moment, he asked, "Why didn't you tell me before?"

She shrugged. "It wasn't like that before. I was afraid to let you know that I believed in something like that. I couldn't let my guard down around you."

He nodded. It seemed a fair point. After all, he knew what his reaction would have been had she told him before. Disbelief. Ridicule. All the things she used to do to him, he would have done to her. And it had not been what she needed. What she needed was this, now.

"More coffee?" A young woman stood at The End of the table, brandishing a coffee jug. She looked to be in her mid-20s, and was dressed in jeans and a red polo shirt, with an old apron thrown over it.

Scully passed her coffee cup down gratefully, as did Mulder.

"So what're you doing up so early?"

Mulder glanced at Scully.

"We're looking around. And you? What makes you get up so early?"

She laughed. "This is the only job I could get on short notice. Besides, it's just round the corner from home. I'm new around here, just moved in."

Mulder frowned. "Just around the corner? Do you live on Medley Road?"

The waitress nodded, setting down her jug. "Boy, that thing's heavy. Yeah, I live on Medley Road. Just rented a house down there. Nice place. My husband makes enough money for the two of us, but I figure if I don't do something all day, I'll go nuts. Say, you two thinking of moving down here?"

Scully shook her head. "No. What number do you live at?"

The waitress shrugged. "731, why?" She frowned as Scully and Mulder exchanged a look. "What is this, Twenty Questions?"

"Ms..."

"Mrs. Stanley. April."

"We're with the FBI. We're looking for our daughter. She was kidnapped yesterday afternoon, and we have no way of knowing where she is or who took her. I received a phone call last night from your address. We've had phone calls like it before, and they've led us to clues. If you don't mind, we'd like permission to look over your house."

The young woman's eyes widened. "Uh, sure. I guess. Um, if you just hang on, I'm almost done... here..." With that, she picked up her jug again and returned to the counter, glancing warily over her shoulder.

"My sister used to live in that house."

"Miss Mulder? She's your sister?"

"Yup. I gave her my old flat, so she moved up to DC to be near us."

"Uh-huh." April looked out of the window at the lashing rain. "She's a good woman."

Pretty soon, they pulled into the driveway. The rain had stopped again, and the sun was just starting to appear. The world around had a grey tinge, as though lightened with a wash of water.

April opened the door and beckoned the two agents in, holding a finger to her mouth. Mulder was surprised at how little had been changed. The furniture, though different, stood in the same place. The walls were the same cream colour they used to be. The carpet was the same pale pink one. Straight away, Scully crossed over to the phone and picked it up, holding it to her ear. The tone was normal. Nothing wrong with the phone. Putting it down again, she noticed something written on the slip in the phone.

"April, is this your phone?"

"Naw, Miss Mulder left it for us. We didn't have one, and she said she wouldn't need one."

Mulder leaned over her shoulder. "Whatcha got there?"

"A phone number. And a name."

"April, did you notice this before?"

She shook her head. "Never really looked at the phone. We were just grateful for it. Didn't want to complain."

Scully pocketed the slip of paper. "Well, we'll contact you if we need anything else. Thank you."

"I hope you find whoever took your daughter."

Mulder nodded grimly. "So do I."

"ELSSEII. Name of a company just outside of DC. They handle personal deliveries, like a miniature courier service." Byers looked up from the computer screen. "Why do you want to know about them?"

"Hold on, just read out their phone number."

"555-6642."

"That's not the number on here."

"Can I see?" Byers contemplated it for a moment. "Maybe it's a delivery number. You want me to hack their database and find out for you?" Without waiting for a reply, he put the paper down and proceeded to connect to their server. Within moments, he was through, and seconds later, he had the order number on-screen.

"It's not been delivered yet. It's being stored at their office for the time being. In fact," Byers frowned, "it's not being delivered. It's staying there. This was a pick-up, not a delivery."

"Can you find out where it originated?"

There was a pause. "This is going to take a while. It's even more heavily protected than I thought. That's strange for a delivery company," Byers commented as he tapped furiously at the keyboard. Mulder turned away. Just then, Frohike burst through the door.

"Hey, Mulder! How ya been? Where's the wife and kid?" He stopped dead in his tracks at Mulder's pained expression. "What happened? Did something happen to Scully? Or Chrissie?"

"Chrissie's been kidnapped."

Frohike's face fell. "Aw man, I'm sorry. Poor kid."

"Mulder, you're not going to believe this." It was Langly, who had joined Byers in his hacking attempts in the meantime. "Look who sent the parcel."

Walter Skinner.


"Agent Mul-"

"What are you doing, you son of a bitch? Bargaining with them? What did they do to my daughter?"

"Agent Mulder, I suggest you come inside before you wake the whole building."

He shut the door behind him. "You're gonna tell me everything right now, no excuses, you bastard."

Skinner scribbled something on a pad of paper and ripped it off, handing it to him. "There's nothing to tell."

Mulder looked at the scrap of paper in his hand. 'Apartment bugged. Diner at end of road.' He crumpled it, eyes questioning. "I'll see you in Hell."

"Agent Mulder, this is something I've had to keep quiet for some time now. Since your 'adventures' in Russia, I've been in possession of a sample of the black oil, the virus you told of. They wanted it, but I set up a plan to have it exposed for what it was, when the time came. If they had killed me, an un-named contact within the Bureau would have exposed it immediately. Catch-22. But when Agent Scully became ill, I made a deal with them, to work for them. That's part of what secured the cure she was given. Now the virus is all they want of me, in return for your daughter. I was given instructions on how to deliver it and where. It was handled by a company just outside of DC, called..."

"Called ELSSEII?" Skinner nodded. "So you gave them back the virus?"

Skinner nodded. "I had no choice. It wasn't just the life of your daughter they were holding over my head. They would have killed my kids too, even though they haven't been kidnapped. My ex-wife is taking precautionary measures, just in case the deal doesn't go through. She's taken the kids and disappeared for a while, until I contact her. She knows the kind of work I do, and she knows how dangerous it is." He paused for a moment. "Mulder, I don't feel I need to tell you this, but your family is the closest thing to you. If they hit, they'll hit you where it hurts the most, and that's what they're doing now. Luckily for you, no real harm has been or will be done, this time. But don't doubt that there will be a next time. There will, and you won't know when it'll be."

With that, he stood abruptly, looking around, and hurried out of the diner.

Scully was silent for a long time after Mulder finished narrating his tale about Skinner and his loyalties. At last, she spoke.

"So Chrissie's coming back?"

"According to Skinner, yes."

"When?"

"I don't know. But I think we have to assume that they're taking good care of her, 'coz I don't think they want any harm to come to their hostage."

"Ohhh, thank god. Are you coming home now, Mulder?"

"I'm on my way."

Scully sat, curled into a ball, at 'her' end of the couch, dressed in her oldest tracksuit and sweater. Dropping the phone onto the floor, she snuggled down into the cushions, and cried softly.

Someone had once asked her how far off she was from who she'd wanted to be when she was a child. With a shudder, she remembered that it had been Eddie van Blundht, right before he moved in to kiss her. But she was not distracted from the thoughts that were running through her head now.

How had it been when she'd imagined her adult life? Idyllic summer days in green lawns, watching her children roll in the grass and climb trees. Setting out a picnic for the family, with her husband and two perfect little children. A comfortable job in her own little surgery, treating the little ill children with colds and coughs, measles and chicken pox.

How had she gone astray? Such a simple idea, such a simple life, and yet she had managed to twist herself into inexplicably into the workings of a world so much more complicated than she had ever thought possible.

And now her daughter had been taken, by the same men who had taken her. She had known already that her child could not have the same innocent childhood as she had had, but she had denied it, denied the certainty of corruption. Even her subconscious had been shocked at the swift blow to her innocence. Barely one year old, and already a part of a dark world many would never know in their long lifetimes.

Warm hands pulled her up out of her corner, and cradled her gently against a solidly warm body. A soothing voice whispered nothings in her ear as she cried against his chest, releasing the fear and sadness she had locked away to provide strength. Finally, the tears began to recede, until silence reigned again, punctuated by soft sniffles and hiccups.

At last, she lifted her head, and kissed him on the cheek, discovering in surprise that he had been crying too. Glancing up at his eyes, she saw a look in them that she had not seen for a long time, not since she had last been taken.

It was the darkness of a man's lost soul. Of Mulder's lost soul, wandering freely out into the night, searching for his daughter. Here and there, his eyes seemed to apologise for his soul's absence, and she began to cry again. Their arms went around each other, clutching their bodies together, afraid to let go lest they be separated from the only other thing either of them held dear.

In this way, they spent their night, and woke in the morning to find themselves on the couch, the sun gleaming at them through the blinds, their arms and legs still entangled.

 


Additional notes: HUGE apologies to Kat, Mill and Anna. It wasn't my fault - Dee hijacked my notebook halfway through rehearsals and forced me to right that little scene in. I'm sorry. The devil made me do it. Literally. *weg*


"Mom?"

From the bathroom, Mulder could hear Scully talking to her mother on the telephone outside. He smiled faintly as she reassured her.

"Mom, I'm fine. Mulder's fine. We found something... No. No. Skinner said... I don't know when, but I don't think she's hurt... She'll be returned to us when they're done with her. It's how they work. OK mom, I'll talk to you later. I love you. OK. Bye."

Mulder emerged from the bathroom. "What did your mom have to say?"

"She was just checking if we were OK. And if Chrissie was back yet."

"And are we?" He took her face in his hands.

"I am."

"Then so am I."

The phone rang, and Mulder dropped his hands, crossing the room to find it.

"Hello?"

"Fox? It's me, Samantha." The voice was distressed, her breathing ragged.

"What's wrong?" asked Mulder, immediately concerned.

"It's Dad. I think he's dead."

"You *think* he's dead? You mean you don't know?"

Scully watched curiously as he nodded, finishing off his conversation with a curt reply.

"What's going on?"

"Cancerman. He may have been killed. Samantha says he was coming around to see her, and she was sure she saw him down on the street. Then there was a gun-shot, but she couldn't see anything, so she ran downstairs. All she found was a pool of blood, a packet of cigarettes and a gold lighter."

"My god, Mulder, what's going on?"

"I don't know, but I'm sure as hell going to find out."

Mulder knelt on the concreted floor of the alleyway next to the stained red ground, and picked up the lighter with a plastic bag. Turning it over, he noticed that etched on one side were the words 'Trust No One'. It had to be him. He held it up to Scully, who nodded speculatively.

"Who would want to kill him?"

She shook her head. "I don't know, Mulder, but at a guess, I think it's gotta be them. I think he was starting to be a security threat, maybe to their whole project, whatever it may have been."

"Do you think he's dead?" Samantha hovered anxiously at Mulder's shoulder, as he glanced at Scully questioningly.

"I don't know. There's a lot of blood here, but it's not enough to mean he's definitely dead. He could be either, for all we know, but we won't know for certain until we see him."

Samantha sighed, covering her mouth and nose with her hand, and turned back to the building. Some of the residents on the ground floor were peering out in curiosity, not surprised to see Mulder there. Ignoring them, the trio went back up to the flat.

The door was open. Samantha stopped in the middle of the hallway, looking at it warily.

"Do you think there's someone in there?" she whispered tersely.

Without replying, Mulder drew his gun, and approached the door cautiously. Scully followed suit. Quickly and efficiently, they swept the apartment. Nothing. No-one was there. Whoever had dropped by had been and gone, leaving no sign of their visit. Not wanting to disturb the sleeping Emily, Scully peered in quickly, establishing that there was no-one else in the room, and shut the door again.

Samantha followed them in warily, and turned to shut the door behind her. On the back of it was a note.

'TOMORROW'

Unpinning the paper, she turned it over at the strange feel of it.

It was an unfolded Morley's wrapper.

"What's it supposed to mean?" Scully turned it over in her fingers several times. "Tomorrow? Is that when we're getting Chrissie back, or what? The End of the world?"

There was another long silence, as none of them could think of anything to say. At last, Samantha began to get up, intending to check on Emily, but before she could move any further, a small head poked out of the bedroom. Seeing everyone gathered out in the living room, she came out and sat down on her mother's lap. She gazed around at the solemn faces, and then looked up at Samantha.

"There was a man here."

Samantha stroked her hair, her voice quivering. "When?"

"You went downstairs. And a man came in, and he thought I was asleep, so he touched my hair and he said 'This is from your Grandpa'. And I still pretended I was asleep, and he promised I would see my cousin again soon, and he said they wouldn't hurt her. Is Chrissie coming back?" She turned to Mulder, eyes shining. "Did you and Grandpa and Auntie Dana find Chrissie?"

"What did the man look like?" Mulder refused to answer her last few questions.

She thought for a while. "He was really thin. And he had white hair. And he talked like Mr. Hunt from down the hall."

Scully remembered him. She remembered when she had gone to Mulder's funeral and been accosted there by an old man with an English accent. Because that was what Emily had meant - Mr. Hunt had moved from England only a few weeks ago. He was undoubtedly one of them, but his motives were unclear. Why would he come here?

"He's one of them," she said at last. "He was at your funeral, Mulder, when we thought you'd died out in New Mexico. He told me they would try to kill me, and they did, but they killed Missy instead. I wouldn't question him. He knows things, Mulder, and he's doing what's right by him. We won't know whether that helps us or them until it happens. The only thing we can do is to wait."

They sat around for a while, until at last Mulder gently reminded Scully that they would have to go. She sighed, unwilling to leave Emily's presence, but let herself be taken home anyway. Throughout the entire journey, she brooded, whilst Mulder shot her the occasional glance. It reminded him of those times when she used to refuse to acknowledge that anything was wrong, and it worried him, because those were not good times to return to. Freeing a hand, he took hers from where it lay on her lap.

"Hey," he said softly, squeezing her hand.

She squeezed back. "Hey yourself."

"You wanna rent a coupla movies, get some takeaway and sleep on the couch tonight? Just like the old days?"

She laughed shakily. "So long as it's not *your* kind of movie."

"Chinese or pizza?"

Scully fought indecision. Chinese would be good, but so would pizza. But pizza was easier to eat...

"Pizza," she said, just as Mulder said the same. They laughed again. Suddenly Scully yelled.

"Stop right there!"

Mulder screeched to a stop on the empty sidewalk and turned to stare at Scully, who was hiccuping with laughter.

"We need videos, right?" she choked, pointing a finger at the rental store. He grinned, as she climbed out, scrutinizing his parking. "Good work, at such short notice."

He came around the car and stood next to her, towering over her. "Short? Who or what are you calling short?"

Her elbow shot out catching him in the stomach as she ran down the sidewalk into the video shop, laughing. Grinning, he locked the car and followed suit. Ducking into the shop, he scanned the rows, catching sight of her red hair in the romance section. Sneaking up behind her, his hands shot out to her side, tickling her. She shrieked, dropping the video box and ducking to avoid the hands. Laughing, Mulder helped her up, as a young African girl in a British football shirt (Arsenal, as he recalled) stuck her head around the corner. Seeing him, she grinned.

"Hey, *Fox*. Haven't seen you for a looong time. It's been, what, a year and a bit? Where've ya been? We've had loads of new ones in - 'Kat, Mill and the Whores of Babylon', 'Anna: the Real Life Story of Jezebel'..."

"Hi Dee. Sorry I haven't been in. My *wife* doesn't approve of that brand of entertainment."

"YOU GOT MARRIED?!" she shrieked.

Scully held out her hand. "Hi. I'm Dana Scully."

She shrieked again. "YOU MARRIED SCULLY?!"

Scully raised an eyebrow. "Fox..."

"Relax, Dana, Dee used to be my agony aunt. Dee, we need a good movie."

"'Usual Suspects'," she replied straight away.

Mulder groaned. "Not again."

"Something romantic?" Scully was beginning to warm to this eccentric girl.

"'French Kiss'. Or 'Jack and Sarah'."

"We'll take both."

Scully awoke to the sound of snow from the television set and children running past on the street below. Shifting slightly, she felt Mulder against her back, and she smiled slightly. Getting up, she switched the TV off and went to pour herself a drink. On her way back, she paused in front of the darkened nursery door.

For a moment, she stood there, staring into the dim darkness. Then, drawn by a masochistic curiosity, she entered the room and switched on the light.

There was someone in the crib.

She breathed in sharply. Hesitating for a moment, she crossed slowly over to the crib and pulled back the blanket. There was her daughter, as perfect as she had been the last time she had seen her. Quickly and silently, she checked her breathing and pulse, and, happy that she was alive and well, tip-toed out to the living room, where Mulder had begun to awaken.

"Scully?" he murmured. She sat down on the floor by his head and stroked back his hair. "Scully, where did you go?"

"I turned the TV off. Mulder, they brought her back."

"Hmm?" Mulder began to wake up properly. "What?"

"They brought her back some time last night while we were asleep. I found her asleep in her cot."

Mulder shot up off the couch and ran to the nursery. Scully laughed, half at the sight of her husband's frantic dash, half at the relief of having a whole family again. She followed him in, and found him leaning over the rail, staring at his daughter, drinking the sight in hungrily. She smiled as he looked over his shoulder at her, eyes shining in relief.

Just then, a loud cough came from the crib. Looking down, Mulder found Chrissie twisting onto her back, coughing as she woke up. For a moment, she stared dreamily up at her father, and then she smiled, holding her arms up. Mulder reached down and picked her up, cuddling her close as her arms went around his neck. Turning, he crossed to Scully and offered Chrissie's upturned face to her. Standing up on her toes, Scully placed a kiss on her daughter's forehead, and brushed back her hair.

Suddenly, she stopped, shaken. Mulder, disconcerted, looked down at where her hand was on the back of Chrissie's neck.

There was a scar.


Epilogue

"Well, we found some evidence of a sedative in her bloodstream, although we can't tell how long she's been sedated for and how much she might remember of her disappearance. Sugar levels and such are normal, so she *has* been fed. Following your requests, we had a scan done of the neck area. In fact, I was rather surprised you knew to look for this." The doctor stuck an X-ray up and switched the light on. "There seems to be some kind of implant under the skin right there, I can't identify it, but it seems to be doing nothing at all. If you want, I can remove it for you."

Scully stared at the X-ray for a few moments before answering. "That won't be necessary, doctor. Thank you for your help."

"No problem."

Mulder looked up as Scully shut the door behind her. Without looking at him, she went directly to the bedside where Chrissie was dismantling her latest toy. For a while, she stood at the bedside, just watching, as the childish fingers pulled the plastic pieces apart and set them carefully on the bedspread. At last, the child looked up.

"I love you Mommy."

Scully drew her into a hug. "I love you too, sweetheart. Don't ever forget that." As she stood up again, she felt cold metal against her throat, and she remembered something. "Chrissie, honey, I have a present for you." She dug deep into her pocket, producing a small jewellery box. "Remember mommy's gold cross?" Chrissie nodded, reaching up and pulling the gold chain out of her shirt. "This is for you." Scully opened the box, drawing out a thin gold chain with a tiny gold cross on it. "This is to tell you I love you, and that God is watching over you, and he'll be with you wherever you go." She fastened the chain around her neck, and then drew back, crossing back over to Mulder.

He grasped her hand. "What did the doctor say?"

Briefly, she outlined what she had learnt. "I think we should leave the implant in, Mulder. We know what they can do. If we take it out, we might make them angry, and God knows, we don't want to do that."

He nodded, silently agreeing with her decision.

"Does Chrissie remember anything?"

He shook his head. "The last thing she remembers is looking for Easter eggs with Emily. They took her memory, just as they took yours."

"But parts of mine came back."

"And we don't know if her memory will come back too, is that what you're saying?"

Scully nodded.

"Dana, we have to take this one step at a time. Just be happy that she's back. If she starts to remember, we'll deal with it then. Not now. There's nothing we can do now."

"Mommy?"

Scully looked up at Chrissie, who was lying back in her raised bed now. "Yes, sweetheart?" She crossed to her bedside and took her chubby little hand.

"I wanna go home."

She smiled. "In a moment, Chrissie."

"I'm hungry."


Dear God, help me. I must ask this favour of you, because even though you have given me back my most precious possession, I still fear that she will be taken again. Mulder and I both know that these men represent all that is evil, and that they will stop at nothing to reach their private goals. The life of a child is a token to them, a mere drop in their twisted perception of humanity. The pain of loss is, to them, a bearable necessity. But Lord, I know that faced with the certainty of the death of my family, my tortured soul would forget its fight and lay down in submittance to that darkest of evils, willingly accepting its own meaningless death.

Once I asked you to restore the life of my future husband. Now I ask that you preserve it, keeping the two things I hold dearest close to your heart, for I know you have one. And if either of them should lose their grips on the material world, then help me to unclasp my fingers and follow them into the darkness.

When did I become like this, God? Do you remember when I was younger? I do. Those times when nothing could stop me, because I felt so strong. Nothing could beat me, hold me down, defeat me. And now, here I stand, a broken woman, praying to a god in heaven to look after my interests. When did I become so very feeble?

Don't answer that, Lord. I know. That night in Oregon, so many years ago, when I put my trust in him. That night, I began to depend on him, to depend on the fact that he would always be there. And yet I never realised it. I hid it, suppressed it deep within my soul, and forgot it.

I know what you think, God. I should have faith in you. I should believe that you will hold safe that which I hold dear. I should believe that good overcomes evil, that together, we can win the fight.

That in The End, our children will be safe forever.

I'm trying, my Lord.

The End
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