Title: Love is the Thread of Life
Author: L. M. Shard
Feedback: lsshard@home.com
Date completed: 10-23-01
Rating: NC-17
Category: S, R, a
Spoilers: Season 8
Keywords: Doggett/Scully romance, Mulder/Scully, post-colonization
Distribution: Anywhere, just let me know where.
Feedback: Yes, please!
Disclaimer These characters are the property of Chris Carter, 1013 Productions, and Fox. No copyright infringement intended.

Summary: The world as they had known it ended that fateful autumn day in the year 2001.

Special thanks to: Megan, Ginger, Kimberly, and Diandra.


The world as they had known it ended that fateful autumn day in the year 2001. The aliens had invaded during the wee hours of the night, destroying buildings, roads, automobiles, everything made of human hands. Human life was extinguished except for a few hundred thousand scattered lives around the globe. The aliens had attacked the earth and in one clean sweep, lasting less than half the night, they cleared its surface, making way for the new inhabitants of the planet: them, intelligent life forms from another universe, little grey men. The devastation was swift, unexpected, and utterly final. The humans that did survive were quickly gathered up and set to work building their own prisons. They became the slaves of the aliens. Men and women were separated, with children five and under staying with a female, their mother had she survived, and children over five segregated by gender sent to work alongside the adults. There was one exception though: William. He had been in Dana Scully's arms as the aliens had attacked and both she and her baby had survived. But the moment the aliens captured them, they tore William out of her arms and kept him separated from her. They allowed her to visit him for half an hour twice a day in a special room.

Life for the remaining humans was bleak. It consisted of working manual slave labor during the day and spending the night in a cage comparable to the size of what was once considered a modern-day prison, but without the luxury of a mattress or a running toilet. A deep hole in the ground with a makeshift lid served as a toilet, and a bowl of water, refreshed only every couple days, served as a sink. Dirt floors and cement walls were what they now called home. An alien barrier, which looked like some sort of dim light or energy shield, kept them locked in those new homes.

The aliens used them as human pincushions as well. Running test after horrid test, they studied them and took detailed notes on the results. They scanned the humans' brains weekly, capturing all thoughts that ever graced their minds, gathering the information and documenting it. This was a sure way to nip any potential rebellion in the bud. The aliens also discouraged talking among the humans. Any communication not related to the task at hand was punished by an electric shock from a small hand-held device each alien work-detail guard carried.

The sun had set once again over an alien earth and Scully was practically carried in utter exhaustion to her cell for the night. The aliens clicked off the energy shield and unceremoniously threw Scully inside. She collapsed to the cool ground in a tired heap. Every day was the same. She and about two dozen other women moved rubble, the remnants of what had once been human civilization, from one spot to the next, eventually reaching a huge land fill that the human male population in the area had dug.

Carefully she rolled herself on her back, wincing at the pain in her muscles, and stared at the cold, white concrete ceiling. Now, in the semi-privacy of her cell, she let the tears flow as she had every night in the last six months. How often she had prayed to God asking Him to let her and all of mankind somehow escape this life of hell. How often she thought that all hope was lost and contemplated ending her shadow of a life as a freedom from emotional pain and physical torture. But there were three things that kept her alive: William, Doggett, and Mulder. She could not abandon her baby, and perhaps one day she could figure out a way to free him and herself from the aliens' evil clutches. Then there was the thought that Doggett and Mulder might still be alive and that she would some day be reunited with them. Those were the threads of hope she had to hold on to.

William. He was on the forefront of her mind every day. Why had they taken him from her and kept her separated from him when all other mothers with babies and toddlers were kept together? Why did she only get to visit him in his room and never in her cell? Not that she was complaining, but why did they let her visit him at all? She thought of what Krycek had said the day before she had given birth to her baby. He was superhuman, lacking of human frailties. What did he mean by that? Was it true? And if it was, was that why the aliens took him from her and kept him in a special room? But why hadn't they taken him the day of his birth? Certainly Monica Reyes and she were no match for all the aliens that had lined up to witness the birth. Why had they turned around and left them unharmed? That they had not harmed William then was the driving factor that gave Scully hope that they would not harm him now. She let out a small cry at the thought of how completely powerless she was. Completely powerless in every facet of what remained of her life.

A sudden noise broke Scully of her pained thoughts as a tray of food was passed through the light shield of her prison and set on the dirt floor. She had found it odd that the food as well as the aliens could pass through the shield without any repercussions. When she had tried to do so, she was practically electrocuted. The force had knocked her back and left her breathless with an intense tingling pain pickling through her entire body. She had never tried touching the shield again.

Now she eyed the food tray, seeing a piece of most likely stale bread, a bowl of slop she did not have a name for, and a cup of water. Her mouth salivated at the sight and her stomach rumbled loudly. Only being feed two meager meals a day, she had learned to block out the constant hunger pangs her body sent her. She crawled, inching her way to the tray, unable to stand for sheer exhaustion. Finally reaching the tray she pulled the bowl of slop to her lips and hastily scooped it into her mouth with her fingers. Eating utensils were something she hadn't seen since the world had come to an end. Having finished nearly the entire bowl, she forced herself to slow down. The last thing she needed was for her body to regurgitate the nourishment. She savored every bit, imagining it tasted like a grilled chicken breast with a side of rice and peas. She grabbed the piece of bread and looked at it. Was she imagining things? The piece looked considerably larger than usual. Come to think of it, there had been more slop in the bowl than usual as well. Whoever, or whatever, dished out her ration, must have been in a generous mood. She finished her meal and dragged herself to the far corner of her cell.

Within minutes the guards returned, taking her tray and shutting off the energy shield. They picked her up by the arms and hauled her out of the cell to William for her regular visit. The nightly visit was difficult because of her exhaustion from the day's toiling labor, but she looked forward to them and the morning visits immensely. They were what she lived for. The room was almost completely white with odd images hanging over the baby's crib. Scully noticed that these images were different each time she entered the room. They were teaching him something, what she was afraid to imagine. In fact the mere thought of having William in the aliens' care almost all of the day and night was simply horrifying. What they were grooming him to be was too terrifying to envision.

The guards placed her in a chair and left. Then another alien handed her William and left the room as well, lighting up the energy shield on the way out. Scully and William were alone and as far as she could tell, unwatched. She lifted him to her lips and kissed his little face all over.

"I love you, Sweetie," she cooed, nuzzling her face into the crux of his tiny neck. "Mommy missed you so much!" William giggled and she looked into his large blue eyes. A smile spread on the baby's face and Scully's heart ached thinking of all the smiles she had been forced to miss. She had missed his first attempt at crawling and his first attempt at standing on his own. Now he was doing both like a pro. He would probably be walking any day now. She smiled at him, fighting back the tears that threatened to fall. Was she doomed to miss ninety-nine percent of the rest of his life as well? That thought was just too overwhelming to contemplate. Life was complete misery as it was, even without thinking of the future.

Before she knew it, her precious thirty minutes were up and the guards arrived promptly to walk her back to her cell. She gave William one last kiss as the alien attendee took him from her arms. A single tear rolled down Scully's cheek. Minutes later she was back in her cage.

Curled up in a corner, she thought of the two men who had been a part of her former life. She wondered, as she did almost every waking moment, if Mulder and Doggett were still alive. How she missed them both! Mulder had been a part of her life for almost a decade and she felt utterly close to him. He was her best friend, her soul mate. How she longed to see his eyes light up like they did when he had received a strong lead in his quest. How she longed to feel his arms around her like the day he showed her how to swing a baseball bat. How she longed to see his look of incredulous disbelief, as she once again was not convinced of the existence of alien life. Oh, how wrong she had been about that! How very, very wrong!

Sleep was tugging at her consciousness, but before she let herself go into the world of nightmares and dreams, she thought of John Doggett. She and Doggett had become good friends in the time they had known each other. After William was born, he had really been there for her, helping out by bringing her dinners, babysitting from time to time, sharing his experienced baby-care tips. How she longed to hear his rough, accented voice and gaze into his vibrant sky blue eyes, feeling protected and safe. And that was exactly how she always felt around him: protected and safe. Where Mulder was flighty and playful, he was secure and dependable. Sleep overcame her as the image of his face hovered in her mind then sank into her subconscious.

Morning came too soon and the alien guards blared ear-piercing sirens as a wake-up call. Moments later trays of food were deposited in each human's cage. Doggett woke abruptly from his dream, a dream he for change would have rather let continue. He walked over to his food tray and began eating, knowing that if he wasted any time, he might not get a chance to finish everything on it. Any nourishment at all was a blessing. Images of his dream came pouring back as he bit into his slice of bread. The mood of his dream was comprised completely of love. It had been an intense, all-encompassing feeling of love, mixed with comfort and joy. He had dreamt of Dana Scully. Again. They had been sitting in a park, on the lush green grass of a lifetime ago with a clear lake shimmering besides them, reflecting the puffy white clouds above. Scully had had William in her lap and they were talking and laughing, carefree. He had leaned over and kissed her tenderly on the lips then pulled back to look in her eyes. They were deep blue, full of life, and sparkled with love.

He finished his minuscule meal and let thoughts of Scully dominate his mind once again. She was practically all he had thought about ever since the invasion. Was she alive? Was she safe? Was she in pain? If he could only know! If he could only find her! Thinking that one day he might find her, was the only thing keeping him alive. Throughout the tests, throughout the backbreaking labor, throughout the torture, he kept his mind focused on her. Focused on her strength, her smile, her beauty. He had thought many times how things would have turned out between them had their world not been stolen in the night. Would they have shared their feelings with each other? Would they have been lovers by now? Would they have been married? These were Doggett's dreams, dreams he would have tried to make reality had he been given the chance. But the truth be known, he did not know how Scully felt about him. He knew she saw him as her friend, but did she love him? Could she love him? Or was Mulder still the owner of her heart? Was Mulder even alive? All he knew, all that was left, was his love for her. It was his thread of life.

The alien guards clicked off the light shield, jostling him out of his reverie. They grabbed him and roughly shoved him through the door and into the dimly lit hallway. The other humans were being gathered as well and herded out into the bright sun for another full day of slave labor. A day of manual labor was certainly the option of choice when compared to the alternative: A day of tests. The tests were so indescribably horrific; the mere thought of them spread sheer terror through Doggett's body. Lucky for him, he hadn't been tested in at least two weeks.

As they toiled in the heat of the sun Doggett heard his name.

"Doggett?" a voice whispered, unsure.

Doggett turned his head slowly, trying hard not to catch the attention of the alien guards. Shock, joy, and relief ran through him as he saw who stood next to him: Mulder. He was thinner, aged, weathered, and wore a collection of telltale scars, but it was Mulder nonetheless.

"Mulder!" Doggett said a bit too loudly. Quickly he tried to squelch his exhilaration at seeing him. He turned toward his work again, though he wanted nothing more than to hug the man. "I thought you were dead," he whispered, relieved that he wasn't.

"Not in body," Mulder whispered. "I thought you were dead too. Glad to see you're not."

"How're ya holding up?" Doggett asked concerned.

"Same as you, I'm sure," Mulder stated, noting Doggett shared some of the same scars as he did. The torture Mulder had received during his abduction was like a stroll on a beautiful summer day compared to the torture he had received since the invasion. But right now he was feeling joy at seeing Doggett alive, and it felt really good. He hadn't felt joy since his search for the truth ended abruptly, confirming his wildest fears and dooming what was left of mankind to slavery and horror. If Doggett was alive then maybe Scully was alive too, and if she were alive then William would have to be alive. His thoughts raced through his head in a torrent of hope.

"Have you seen Scully?" Mulder asked hoping beyond hope.

Doggett shook his head and squeezed his eyes together in pain. "No." He sighed deeply. "I take it you haven't either?"

Mulder answered with a great sadness, "No. Have you seen William?"

Doggett shook his head in the negative.

"Skinner, the Gunmen, Reyes, anyone we know?" Mulder asked desperately.

Again Doggett shook his head in the negative. Mulder's heart sank.

Suddenly Doggett and Mulder felt excruciating jolts of electricity course through their bodies as the alien guards accosted them with their weapons. When the men fell to the ground in agony they were then repeatedly hit by clubs. Both of them took the beatings with little resistance, knowing first hand that any fighting back would lead too much more intolerable pain.

"No talking!" One of the aliens ordered, his voice sounding like something from a science fiction movie. "Get back to work!"

The men pulled themselves up from the ground, wincing in agony. How they were expected to work now was beyond them. But they had to, lest they receive more of the same. Both men used a mental image of Scully to summon enough strength to go on. Neither Mulder nor Doggett said another word, but as they were rounded up, preparing to be brought back to the cells, they nodded to each other.

Mulder was thrown into his cell with the usual roughness. His injuries screamed in pain. He looked down at his body, a body that was thin and sallow looking. Now it was covered in half a dozen welts that had already turned a shocking purple. Luckily the beatings had not broken his skin, infection was the last thing he needed. He crumpled in a corner and closed his eyes. Seeing Doggett today was almost unreal. He was the first person he had seen that he had actually known before the attack. Although he and Doggett hadn't been friends per se, he respected him and he had been thrilled to see him alive. If only they could find some way to communicate without being watched by the guards, perhaps they could figure a way out of here. But thoughts like that were dangerous since they would all be picked up on the weekly mind scan. Big Brother was alive and well in 2001.

Mulder let sleep grip him and dull the pain. His mind went to a safe place; a place filled with comfort and love, a place that no one could touch: Scully.

Before bringing Doggett and the other men on his cellblock back to their cages, the guards rounded them into a large room for their bi-weekly shower. Liquid soap oozed from the ceiling valves and the men frantically rubbed it over their skin and in their hair before the water came pouring out of the shower heads. Even though the water was icy cold, Doggett relished in the feel. Being clean was a luxury here and he could honestly say that these few minutes every four days were the best part of what was now his life. He scrubbed away all the grim and sweat, careful of his tender, fresh wounds, and before he would have liked, the water was turned off and the men were herded into the next room where they received shaves and haircuts from alien workers. Funny how the aliens kept the humans rather well groomed. Why they didn't let the men grow beards and hair to the floor was beyond Doggett. Maybe they didn't like hair, not having any themselves, or maybe long hair would get in the way of their productivity hauling rubble from one place to the next and digging ditches. Whatever the reasons, Doggett was grateful of this tiny comfort, though the feeling of alien hands on his face made his skin crawl every time. Their skin was paper thin, pale grey, and leathery to the touch. Their big black eyes were void of emotion and the stares they gave him felt like they bored through to his very soul. They kept their talking to a minimum and when they spoke it was only in the human tongue. Perhaps they communicated with each other through telepathy or perhaps not speaking in their own tongue was yet another way to keep the humans under their control and in the dark.

Clean and shaven, Doggett was lead back to his cell and given his tray of food. He ate it in silence and thought of his meeting with Mulder earlier. It was a comfort to know he was alive. It gave him hope that perhaps Scully and William were alive as well.

Suddenly two guards appeared at his cell door. Quickly Doggett gulped down the rest of his meal and stood up. The guards approached him and grabbed him, dragging him out of the cell. "God, no," Doggett thought to himself, "no more tests!" His mind screamed in agony at the mere thought and his body reacted in a violent shaking. It was then that he noticed they were going in a direction that he had never been brought to before. Fear gripped him even tighter and he braced himself for something dark and evil.

Scully was in a deep sleep when the shuffle of feet outside her cell jolted her awake. She quickly sat up hugging her legs in fear. In the dim light she could make out the figures of three beings, two of which were alien guards and one of which looked like a human male. The guards tossed the third figure into her cage and reset the energy shield. The figure stood very still, close to the door. With the light behind him, Scully could only see his silhouette, but somehow the figure looked familiar. She stood up but kept her place in the shadows.

Doggett stood in the cell wondering why the hell he was there. Then he saw a movement at the far corner of the room and froze. He was not alone. a million possibilities ran through his mind as he tried to see what occupied this space with him.

"Who's there?" he asked, trying to hide the fear in his voice.

Silence. He moved slowly toward the back of the room, letting his eyes accustom to the darkness there.

Scully's heart leapt as she heard the voice. It was definitely the sound of a human voice. A male human voice. And she recognized it. Recognized it from her memories, recognized it from her dreams. Its low, raspy, sexy quality was one she had permanently etched into her memory banks. But it just couldn't be; it had to be a trick. Then she saw the curve of his ears and knew without a doubt. But still she was cautious; perhaps it was not the man she used to know.

"John?" she asked warily. It was the first time she had spoken that name out loud in over six months.

Doggett moved closer, his fears easing and his hopes rising. It couldn't be true; his ears must have been deceiving him, but when the owner of the voice stepped out of the shadows and into the light, his heart caught in his throat and the breath was knocked out of him.

"Dana!" he exclaimed in disbelief. "Is it really you?"

"Yes," she whispered. "John?"

"Yes, it's me!" He answered elated.

Forgetting all fear, she ran to him, throwing her arms around him. His arms readily wrapped themselves around her and they held each other tightly.

"John, John, are you really here?" she asked, her voice trembling. She looked up at him, tears flowing from her eyes. "Please tell me this isn't a dream."

His eyes met hers for the first time and instantly he felt at home."Unless I'm dreaming too, this is real," he said cupping her face in his hands. He ran his fingers over her cheeks, wiping away her tears and relishing at the feel of her skin. "Dana...."

She glided her fingers over his face as well, needing to feel the physical reality of what still seemed like just a wonderful dream. His skin was soft and freshly shaven but lacked vitality. She traced her fingers over the lines in his face that were now significantly more prominent. He had aged considerably in the last half year, and her heart broke at the thought of all he had suffered at the hands of the aliens. The notion that he had been tortured and tested upon literally made her weak in the knees and her body gave. His hands were quick to grab her upper arms and he eased her, as well as himself, down into a sitting position. They faced each other, unable to take their eyes off one another.

The physical shadow of the woman he once knew sat before him. She was incredibly thin. Her ribcage was clearly visible, and her breasts, which he last remembered voluptuously swollen with milk, were now dry and very small. Her cheeks were slightly sunken and her skin, although tanned from the many hours she spent slaving in the sun, was somehow ashen and devoid of any glow. Yet she was beautiful to him, utterly beautiful. He traced his fingers over several scars on her arms, imagining the pain she must have endured. His heart ached and his tears flowed.

"Dana," he whispered through a cracked voice. "I'm so sorry." He felt like he had failed her, like he should have been able to protect her from all this horror. Looking out for her, protecting her, was what he felt driven to do since he had first met her, and he had failed her miserably.

"Shhh," he said, placing a finger on his lips and sat herself on his lap, facing him, needing to feel him close. She took his face in her hands again and stared into his eyes. They were the gorgeous blue eyes that she remembered, still filled with intensity and goodness, but they also held other things: pain, anguish, and terrors unimaginable. She tenderly kissed the tears from his cheeks then gently caressed his face with hers while her hands ran over his back. His fingers danced across the flesh of her arms, her back, and her waist. Neither could keep their hands to themselves, the feel of another human under their fingers and next to their hearts was so overpowering, so new, so essential. They spent the next several minutes just touching, feeling, and breathing each other in. It was a need so primal, yet innocent.

"Don't ever let go of me," Scully whispered. Being held by another human, being held by John Doggett, a man she loved, was like water to a fish.

"Never willingly," he responded. He needed her like he needed air.

They continued their tender, necessary touches until a thought struck Doggett. "Have you seen William?" he asked rather hesitantly, fearing she was going to have bad news for him, but he just had to know, he loved the little guy like his own.

Scully's eyes lit up. "Yes, John, he's alive and unharmed. They allow me to visit him for thirty minutes twice a day. They keep him in this room and as far as I know they haven't hurt him. I check his body for marks every day."

"Thank God!" Doggett declared, sighing in relief. Scully could see how much he loved her son.

"But I have to do something, John! I can't stand not being with him. I'm scared he is not going to know me anymore, but I am even more scared of what they are teaching him and why they have him separated from me when the rest of the mothers have their kids with them. I have a very bad feeling about this."

She sobbed and he embraced her tightly. He knew her pain; he knew it all too well. And yet he was powerless to help her. "I'd give anything to bring him to you, Dana. Anything."

She looked up at him, her eyes glistening with tears, and whispered, "I know." The trust and love he saw in her eyes was unmistakable. She leaned in and tenderly brushed her lips to his. It was a chaste kiss, but overflowing with love. He gathered her in a hug.

Several minutes passed as they held each other silently. Her fingers gingerly grazed his arms and stopped at one of the fresh welts. "What happened?" she asked with great concern.

At the mention of his new wounds Doggett was reminded of his encounter with Mulder earlier in the day. With the unexpected reality of being with Scully, he had completely forgotten. "I've got some great news. I just found out today myself," he said looking into her eyes, beaming."Mulder's alive!"

Scully's eyes lit up in an instant. "He is?! You saw him?" It was too good to be true.

"Yes! I was workin' in the rubble like I do every day when Mulder suddenly stood besides me. He musta come from another cellblock that had never worked with our block before," Doggett said.

"Is he okay? How did he look? What did he say?" she wanted every fragment of information Doggett had to offer.

"He's fine, just like the rest of us: skinny and worn-down, but alive. He asked about you and William, if I'd seen you. He asked if I'd seen Skinner or the Gunmen. I had to say 'no'."

"That means he hasn't seen William or the others either," Scully sighed. Poor Mulder didn't know his son was alive. Scully's heart broke for him."What else did he say?"

"Nothing else. That's when the guards came and beat us pretty bad for talkin'."

"Oh, John," he said with great empathy.

"It's okay; it was worth it. Hopefully I'll see him again, maybe tomorrow. Then I'll tell him you and William are alive. He'll be so happy to hear that."

"Oh, I hope you do see him again! Please tell him that I love him and I think about him all the time," Scully said.

Doggett nodded and admonished himself for feeling a tinge of jealousy at her words. How dare he have such petty feelings at a time like this? He loved her so much, but he always knew her heart belonged to Mulder. She had a long history with him. He was the baby's father for all he knew. But still he wished that Scully loved him in that way. They had become very close in the months before the attack and he knew he had her love as a friend, but even now, in this sorry excuse of a world, he wished she were in love with him as he was with her.

Scully noticed the hint of sadness reflected in Doggett's eyes as she said those words. She did love Mulder and that was no secret, but she loved Doggett as well and that was something she had never admitted to anyone and only since the invasion to herself. She made a decision, a decision that went against what she would normally do, but nothing in this life was normal anymore. And this was the only thing that was good, the only thing that mattered right now at this moment in time, for it might be the only moment they would ever be allowed to share again.

"John," he said tenderly, looking him right in the eyes, "I love you too, you know. But I love you differently from Mulder. I'm in love with you. I'm saying it now, in case I never get a chance to again."

Doggett couldn't believe what she had just told him. The joy he felt at that moment was like nothing he had ever felt before. He cupped her face with his hands and said, "I love you too. I have, practically from the first day we met."

She smiled and he leaned in and brushed his lips to her lips. Tenderly he moved his mouth on hers, savoring the touch, memorizing the feel, reveling in the intoxicating, heady sensation. Her lips parted and he ran his tongue over the opening then touched the tip of her tongue with his. She moaned at the contact and he pushed himself deeper into her, their tongues dancing. They explored each other in leisure, lingering at every movement, relishing the exquisite feeling. She slinked her hand behind his neck and pressed him closer to her, then wrapped her legs around his waist. Their torsos touched completely and melded into each other wholly as did their mouths. The kiss grew from slow dance to fireworks. She took his bottom lip between her teeth and ran her tongue across its length then darted her tongue back into the heat of his mouth. A low, guttural moan escaped him and she felt his manhood turn to steel beneath her. He kissed her back with mounting passion, devouring her, and claiming her as his.

Just then a horrifying thought intruded into his head. He broke the kiss and looked breathlessly into her eyes. She was panting softly and her lips were swollen red. Color had painted her skin and she looked radiant, lustrous like a pink pearl. She was gorgeous and alluring and all he wanted to do was lose himself in her, dive into a piece of heaven. But this thought was one that he felt compelled to share for he feared it was the truth.

"Dana," he whispered, trying to catch his breath. "Why do you think they put us together?"

She looked at him bewildered, for the thought hadn't even occurred to her. She had just been so grateful to have him with her the "whys" hadn't even entered her mind. "I don't know," she replied, a feeling of dread casting a dark shadow over her previous bliss.

"I've had no contact with any females since the aliens took over. I mean, complete segregation. It's been like that for you too, right?"

She nodded.

"And now suddenly they put me with you, not just any woman, but you," Doggett said, the thought becoming clearer by the moment. "They scan our minds every week, so they know that I think of you, how I think of you, what you mean to me. They know. I highly doubt they just wanna be nice and give us a heartfelt reunion. They have a reason, a purpose, and I fear I know what it is."

"What?" Scully whispered, terror seeping into her heart.

"You've seen 'Planet of the Apes'?"

She nodded again and then it dawned on her. "No!"

"Yes, I think they want us to mate, like animals, and produce more slaves for them."

The thought was horrific, but Scully shook her head. "But that would be impossible. Look at me. Look at my body. There is no way it can sustain life; I am barely holding on to my own! And I haven't had a period in over five months!"

"Maybe you're right. They're intelligent life forms. With all the mind scans they do, they must know how we humans procreate."

Scully thought this over then remembered something; something that didn't make sense at the time, but was perfectly clear now. "Maybe you're right afterall, John. Both my meals were much larger than usual today, and yesterday after the bi-weekly showers they give us they injected me and several other women with something. I thought it was just some sort of test drug, but I had no bad reaction and now I'm thinking that maybe it could've been hormones." She shuddered at the thought of what the aliens were planning and wondered if all humans were paired up tonight. As if in answer, a loud moan came from the cell next to her. It was not of moan of pain, but one of pleasure.

Scully and Doggett looked at each other convinced. "What if we don't give them what they want?" she asked.

"They'd probably pair us up with someone else 'till they got the desired outcome."

"No!" Scully said, repulsed at the thought of being put in a cage with a strange man and having him try to force himself on her.

"Shh," he soothed. "They'd probably put you with Mulder. You think of him and I know he thinks of you. You'd be safe."

"As much as I want to be with Mulder, I want to be with you more. I can't bear the thought of them separating us, of not seeing you again," Scully said panic gripping her voice.

"Shh, Dana," Doggett tried to soothe her, but he felt the same way.

"John, it's almost worse now that I know you're alive. To know that you're out there and that I am not with you, maybe never with you again; I can't handle that!" Tears were already welling in her eyes and as she blinked they spilled down onto her cheeks.

Doggett kissed them away and whispered, "All that matters is that we are here together now," he continued brushing tender kisses on her face. He moved from her damp cheeks to her eyelids, her forehead, her nose, her earlobes, the line of her jawbone, her chin, then hovered just millimeters from her lips. "I love you," he breathed. He caressed her lips with his in the gentlest, yet most intimate, of kisses.

She drew back so she could look into his eyes. They were intoxicated with love and were the mirror image to her own. "I love you, and all we are guaranteed is this very moment. I don't want to waste it; I don't want to regret not spending it loving you. I need you, and no matter what their motives are for putting us together tonight, my motives are pure: I love you and I want to spend our moments showing you how much."

He was deeply moved by her words and he trembled as he spoke. "I love you so much. You own my heart."

"And you own mine. Now I need you to claim my body. Make me yours, John." She shuddered in his lap; the profoundness of the moment was overwhelming.

He captured her mouth with his in a fiercely possessive kiss. She responded, possessing him as well, branding her love on his body. Repositioning herself on his lap, she grazed his straining groin with her crotch. The moan this elicited fueled her to gyrate in his lap as she slinked her hands under his shirt running her fingers over his hard chest. He broke the kiss and ripped off his shirt, revealing his scarred torso. Scully's heart ached as she saw the multitude of scars. His body looked like the canvas of a madman. She traced them gently with her fingers, imagining the torture each one had brought him.

"Dana," he breathed, seeing the pain and compassion in her eyes.

"I know," he said, taking off her tattered top and revealing her permanent map of alien procedures and tests.

It was Doggett's turn to look at her with anguish and sympathy. Once again he felt powerless in this Godless, alien world and he vowed to himself that he would get them out of here, or die trying. He let his lips caress each and every scar her body displayed, wishing them gone, wishing them on his own body instead of hers.

Her mouth found his neck, kissing it, biting it, licking it, breathing in his masculine scent. Then she hovered over his ear, panting softly as she outlined its shape with her tongue, stopping at the lobe to tease it between her teeth. He shivered and his skin prickled in arousal as her tongue dove into his ear drawing circles of pleasure.

Lifting her off his thighs with one arm, he used the other to inch down her shorts and underwear. She leaned back and he gently lowered her to the ground, pulling the garments off in one swift sweep. Quickly she pulled him on top of her nude form and worked the last barrier from his loins. Her hand sought his erection and wrapped itself around it, stroking it, pumping it, feeding it. The sensation was exquisite. It had been so long, so very long, since a woman had touched him there. He let out a groan. She moved the head of his penis gingerly over her folds and clit, caressing herself with him in a way that made Doggett's senses short-circuit in rapture. He cupped her small breasts in his large hands and massaged them as his lips lowered to one of the pink nubs and skillfully lapped at it, teasing it hard. He alternated between the two and Scully writhed beneath him, moaning softly.

The pleasure was so intense that she suddenly shook and her muscles contracted violently, bringing her a climax so powerful and quick, it surprised even her. Doggett inserted a finger into her pulsating, hot core, twisting and turning it, in and out, fueling her climax. He watched her face as wave after wave of ecstasy washed over it. He wanted to remember this sight forever.

As the last waves came crashing down over her, she pulled him to her in a searing kiss and rolled them over so that she was now on top. She gave him a wicked smile then leisurely trailed a hot path with her tongue from his mouth, down his neck, over his chest, and to his throbbing erection. She took him wholly into her mouth and he almost fainted from the feeling. She sucked him hard, stroking and rolling his balls with her hand.

"Dana," he mumbled overcome with euphoria. "Please..."

She knew exactly what he needed and climbed up to him, hovering her wet center over his engorged cock. Looking into his darkened, lust-filled eyes, she impaled herself on it. His largeness pushed the breath from her body and her eyes widened at the feel. His eyes rolled back in his head as he was completely engulfed in her tight core. It was paradise in hell. She rocked her hips, moving on him, slowly at first, building up faster and faster until she was a hurricane of rhythm. He sat up, grabbing her waist, guiding her in their frenzy. The look in her eyes was raw and wild. He clutched her to him, his fingers digging into the flesh of her back, fighting to hold out on his release, savoring the incredible mounting high. He kissed her with a hunger so urgent it shook her entire being. Then he tore her face from his and stared into her wild blue eyes, as he spilled into her, flooding her with his heat. She saw the feral fury in his eyes and she came again at the feel of his scorching seed, convulsing around him in a volcanic release. They shuddered in each other's embrace, breathless, wet, and spent. They had become one flesh, one heart, one soul, one love.

After several minutes their heartbeats slowed back to normal, yet their bodies were still intertwined. "How did I get so lucky to have you love me?" Doggett asked drunk from her love. She gave him a big smile and kissed him tenderly. Together they laid down on the floor, oblivious to the dirt and the cold. He pulled her to him, her back to his chest, his arm securely around her waist, and sleep quickly overcame them. In what seemed like only minutes later, Scully was pleasantly awoken by tiny kisses on her neck and nibbles on her ear. As consciousness returned to her, she felt her lover's arousal pressing hard into her back. She smiled to herself and turned around in his arms only to be captured by his mouth in a hungry, needy kiss. Her body was already gushing wetness and they made love again, this time more slowly, more leisurely. Every inch was explored, every inch was kissed, and they once again rose to euphoria together, freeing their souls to fly above the earth to nirvana.

"I have a theory that might help us get out of here," Scully said several minutes later as they held each other, their breathing having returned back to a normal rhythm.

"What is it?" Doggett was highly interested. They needed to brainstorm and discuss possible escape methods before they were forced to separate.

"I've noticed that the aliens and the trays of food they bring us can go through the energy shields without any effect. When I tried, I almost electrocuted myself."

"Dana..." he whispered lovingly, sharing her pain. He had tried the shield as well with the same painful result.

"I know they put a chip in the back of my neck. A different one from the one that I had put back in before. I felt one in your neck earlier and I suspect all us humans have one, all except William. But he seems to be the exception for everything. In any case, I think they use the chip as a type of tracking device so they know were we are at all times and I think it might also be the trigger for the energy shield."

"You have a good point there. Why else would the trays of food be able to go through the shield without a reaction?" Doggett agreed. "If we could take the chips out, leave them in the cell so they think we are still here, we could hopefully walk right out of our prisons and escape to freedom." It sounded extremely risky, but perhaps it could work.

"I think it's worth a try. If we don't do it and we're right, they'll know as soon as they do the mind scan on us, and then they'll think of another way to keep us as slaves. And the punishment...I don't even want to think about that," he said shuddering.

"Alright, we'll do it," Doggett said, knowing Scully was right.

"I won't go without William though," he said firmly.

"Of course not. I wouldn't either! I love him, Dana," Doggett said.

"I know you do," he said smiling then planted a kiss on his inviting lips.

He grabbed her, pressing her to him, and slipped his tongue into her mouth, instantly driving the temperature in the cell up a hundred degrees. His hunger for her was unquenchable and he crushed her mouth to his in a kiss that scorched her lips. They made love again in a wild frenzy, trying to satiate the intense desire that boiled within them. Only after they were finished, panting in each other's arms, did they finalize their escape plan.

As morning dawned, the fear of separation spread in their hearts, gripping them in anxiety and dread. They had used every precious moment loving each other, sealing their flesh as they had their hearts. Now the terror of the alien world was upon them again, overshadowing their red hot passionate love with the black cold evil shroud of the unknown. Doggett was determined in his resolve to change their fate and escape with his love and her baby. He took her hands in his and willed her to focus on his eyes. She shook in fear, but his gaze soothed her, as did his words."I will get us out of here, Dana. I promise you."

She nodded. If there was anyone who could, it was Doggett. She would not let the dreaded doubt surface in her mind again. She had to believe their plan would work and they would escape; not to believe it would mean insanity.

Immediately after the blaring wake-up siren, the alien guards arrived, but Doggett held on to Scully's hands not breaking his gaze. "I love you," he whispered as the guards pried him from his lover.

"No!" Scully screamed as their hands no longer touched and the guards were dragging him out of her cage. "No!" He still held her gaze, calming her a bit and she mouthed the words, "I love you" as he disappeared from her view. Sinking down to the cold, hard earth she wept bitterly. Her sobs violently racked her body and her mind screamed in sheer anguish. When all her tears were spent, she curled up in a fetal ball and rocked herself into oblivion. Would she ever get to see him, touch him, kiss him, or feel him inside her again? She knew that if she didn't, she would not survive. Her mind was already crazy with the loss of him.

Mulder had not spent the night alone either. Instead of being brought back to his own cell for the night, he was brought to a different cellblock and locked in with another human: A woman, a beautiful one at that. This turn of events had surprised them both, but after the initial shock and awkwardness had worn off they both relished in each other's company. Neither had seen a human member of the opposite sex since the day of the invasion. Even though they were perfect strangers they felt a kinship and held hands or embraced as they talked in hushed whispers and later slept. The mere touch and closeness of another person was healing. It did not matter that they were strangers; they were bound by a common hell. When morning broke and they were separated, their hearts ached at the loss.

As Mulder worked in the scalding sun that day, he wondered what the purpose of last night's situation was. There had to be a reason, there always was with the aliens. Perhaps they were testing them, seeing how human males and females interact. But as far as he knew, they did not have cameras or other viewing devices in the cells themselves. He had checked for such things many times. Maybe the mind scans told them all they wanted to know. Whatever the reason, it sure was a pleasure to have the company of a fellow human being. He prayed it would not be a one-time event. Perhaps one day he would even get to see Scully, that was if she was even still alive.

Mulder's mind wandered to Doggett. It was a gift seeing him yesterday. He prayed he would be as lucky again today. As if in answer to his prayer a dozen or so men entered the labor site. Mulder scanned the faces and quickly saw that Doggett was among them. Doggett's eyes meet his and he gave a slight nod.

Hours later the two men were able to maneuver themselves next to each other. They looked down at their work and spoke with minimum lip movement, hoping to avoid the attention of the guards.

"Dana and William are alive," Doggett murmured.

"Alive! You saw them?" Mulder's heart was about to burst out of his chest in joy and he had to use every ounce of strength not to jump up and down and shout to the heavens in elation.

"I only saw Dana. I was put in her cell last night. She told me that they allow her to see William twice a day."

A million questions surged into Mulder's mind, but there was only one that really mattered, "Are they okay?"

"Yes. Dana's fine, thin, but okay under the circumstances. She says William's healthy. They treat him like royalty."

A million more questions occurred to Mulder, especially about William, but Doggett spoke again before he could formulate one. "I have a lot to tell you, but first Dana wanted me to tell you that she loves you."

Mulder stole a glance at Doggett and he saw that that had not been an easy thing for him to say. Mulder's eyes teared up and he whispered, "Thank you."

"I told her that you love her too," Doggett added, wanting to give the man more after seeing the emotion on his face. Mulder nodded and smiled, a tear trickling down his right cheek. "Dana and I are formulating a plan for escape," Doggett continued speaking quickly. "We have to do it soon before they scan our minds again. If they scan us like they have before, our next scheduled scan is in five days. We're plannin' our escape in three."

A guard walked by Doggett and Mulder, hesitating in their proximity then moved on. Doggett quickly whispered all the information that he and Scully had shared the night before. Mulder understood and agreed that their plan of escape was the best one under the circumstances; their only possibility really. It was going to be risky as hell, but hell was where they were going to stay if they didn't do something soon.

"Do you think you'll see her again tonight?" Mulder asked.

Doggett shrugged. "I can only hope."

"Tell her that I love her again, if you see her," he asked.

Doggett nodded, tiny pangs of jealousy running through him. No matter what he and Scully shared, she shared something strong and powerful with Mulder as well. He was sure of that.

"You know, they put me with a woman last night too. I wonder what they're up to," Mulder mused.

This information confirmed what Doggett had been thinking was the aliens' plan. "Did you know the woman?"

"No."

"Was she your type?"

"She was beautiful, but I didn't sleep with her if that's what you're implying," Mulder said getting annoyed. What kind of questions were these? They weren't in a bar slinging back some drinks, but out in the burning sun, working their butts off for survival in a world that was no longer their own.

"No. But I think that's what the aliens are plannin'. I think they want us to procreate and give them more slaves and subjects to study and test."

The mere thought shot shivers of horror through Mulder's body. "No..." Then another thought stuck him: what if Doggett and Scully had...no...he couldn't even think it. He didn't want to think it. He didn't know what he would do if it were true. Had that been pain he had seen in Doggett's eyes as he had told him to tell Scully that he loved her? Or jealousy? He was about to just go ahead and ask if Doggett had slept with Scully when a guard walked up to them and separated them. Doggett had given him a lot of food for thought, but all he could think of at the moment was if Scully had given herself to him. Had he not loved Scully, he would have slept with the woman he was with last night. He was pretty sure she would have allowed it and he had desired her, but he didn't, couldn't. But Scully and Doggett were another matter entirely. They knew each other and he had the impression that they both had strong feelings for each other. Certainly Doggett did for Scully; Mulder had seen those feelings in his eyes ever since he had "come back from the dead". He forced his mind off the subject and let himself rejoice in the fact that Scully and William were alive and well. They would all escape; they just had to.

After Doggett had eaten his meager dinner, the guards brought him to Scully's cell again. They were both overjoyed at their fortune, but neither made a move until the guards disappeared. Then they ran into each other's arms, tears of joy and thankfulness streaming down their cheeks, and touched each other everywhere, needing to feel the other's flesh, heartbeat, breath, and love. The physical contact was a need like water: necessary for survival.

Several minutes later their tactile hunger was met at least for the moment and Doggett spoke. "I saw Mulder again today."

Scully's eyes lit up with joy and she looked like a child who had just received a much-desired lollipop. "Thank God! Were you able to tell him about our plan?"

"Yes and he's definitely in," Doggett said. "I told him that William was alive and he was so relieved. He also told me that they put him in a cell with another woman last night. So I think I'm correct in what their motives are. They chose a woman that Mulder found attractive. That's information they must've gotten from the mind scans and tests they do on us. I know that's how we must've ended up together."

Upon hearing that Mulder was with a woman he found attractive, Scully felt jealousy's teeth nipping at her heart. She wondered if he had done with that woman what she and Doggett had done last night. Then she quickly admonished herself for the thought and feeling. She wanted Mulder to have any happiness, any pleasure this hell of a life could bring him. But as if in answer to her unspoken question, Doggett stated, "Mulder didn't sleep with her. I wonder if they'll put a different woman with him tonight."

More of a relief than she wanted to admit washed over Scully. "I wonder too. What else did he say?"

"I gave him your message that you love him. It is obvious he loves you very much, Dana. His face was so full of emotion when I told him and he had tears in his eyes. He wanted me to tell you that he loved you again, if I got the chance," Doggett relayed, feeling that he needed to give Scully all the information, even the parts that were painful for him to say, for any information was so very precious these days. Doggett searched her eyes for her reaction. They showed the slightest bit of surprise, though he couldn't figure why, and they showed a deep love. That was unmistakably clear. She truly loved Mulder. His heart ached and he wondered if he was second best to her, if she had settled and made love with him because he was there and Mulder was unavailable, perhaps forever.

Scully saw the changes of emotion in Doggett's eyes and had an idea of what he was thinking. She had to put his fears to rest. "John," he said taking his face in her tiny, calloused hands, "I don't deny loving Mulder; I always will, but you are the one I'm in love with, you are the one, the only one, I want to make love with, you are the one, that if we ever actually get out of this Godforsaken place I want to spend the rest of my days with. I love you, John," her voice trembled with emotion. This was no time to hold back any feelings, for what tomorrow would bring was more unknown than any unknowns from the tomorrows of the past.

To backup her words, Scully stood on her tiptoes and pulled Doggett's mouth to her own in a hungry, passionate kiss. Doggett responded immediately with like fire then escalated the heat by pouring all of himself into her, offering up for her his very essence. Scully felt the profundity of the kiss and she responded in kind. When their lips parted, tears had squeezed from the corners of his eyes, trickling a shiny path to his jaw line. The look of love that his eyes held was infinitely overwhelming. "I love you so much," he said in an emotion-laden voice. He brought her lips to his again and they sank to the floor, two souls joined forever in love.

They made love continuously throughout the night not wanting one second to go by without a touch, a caress, a show of love. They spent each moment as if it were their last, for it very well could have been and they knew it. Nothing was taken for granted and by the time morning came their bodies had not rested but their hearts and souls were at peace.

After Mulder was feed his dinner, they brought him to a different cell from the one he had spent the last night in. The aliens shoved him inside and left. He sensed that he was not alone and assumed he was put with another woman.

"I won't hurt you," he said gently then waited in silence.

Slowly a female figure appeared out of the shadows. Fear was in her eyes, though it was obvious she was trying to hide it. She looked very familiar, but it took another moment before Mulder could place her. It looked like the aliens had really put her through the ringer. She had red circles around her eyes and black circles under them. Her skin was ashen and covered with fresh marks. She trembled involuntarily, but tried hard to look brave and strong.

"Marita Covarrubias?" Mulder asked unsure.

She hesitated for a moment, coming closer to study his face. Suddenly he saw recognition fill her eyes, recognition and relief. "Mulder," she whispered and let herself fall into his arms. She went from feather light to dead weight within seconds, and Mulder realized she had lost consciousness. He wrapped his arms tightly around her tiny frame and gently lowered her to the ground, cushioning her head in his lap.

"Marita, Marita," he whispered soothingly while patting her cheeks and hands. What suffering she had recently endured he did not even want to imagine, he didn't need to imagine, for he knew first hand.

All of a sudden her eyes flew open, wildly disoriented. When they rested upon his face they relaxed. "It's alright, Marita. You're going to be alright," he soothed, gently stroking his fingers over her forehead and into her blonde hair.

"Mulder," he said, barely above a whisper. "I'm sorry."

Pain shot through Mulder's heart that this weak, tortured woman was saying"sorry". "Shh. Please don't be sorry. I know exactly what you're going through."

"You do, don't you?" she asked softly and touched his cheek with her hand. Some strength returned to her and with Mulder's help she sat up, facing him. "You were right all along, Mulder. You knew the truth."

Mulder nodded. "I can't tell you how sorry I am that I was right," he said sadly. "If I could have only stopped it, or warned the world..."

"No, don't blame yourself. They made sure you couldn't do that. They got rid off most of the evidence along the way. They knew you were close, but they just wouldn't let you have any proof so the outside world would believe you. They used you, Mulder. They used me."

Mulder sighed and nodded. It was no use talking about it now.

"We have to get out of here," he said, her voice now filled with a strong urgency. "They are planning more evil. What we've been through so far has been cake compared to what they are going to do to us soon."

"What are they going to do?" Mulder asked apprehensively.

She shook her head. "I can't say, I don't know any specifics, I just know," he said stressing the last word. She had seen things through her mind's eye, terrible things, things too horrifying to put to words."You've got to believe me."

"I believe you," he said, and he did.

"The baby, William, he's part of their plan. And he's not necessarily all yours and Dana Scully's," he said forebodingly.

"What do you mean?" Fear laced Mulder's voice.

"He is also part alien. That's why they haven't harmed him. That's why they have special plans for him and why you have to free him."

A thousand thoughts rushed through Mulder's brain. All his fears, Scully's fears, were not unfounded. "How do you know all this? Why didn't you tell us?"

She looked down, shaking her head, "It was that cigarette smoking bastard's doing. He orchestrated all this."

Mulder smashed his hand into the dirt floor in anger. She placed her had over his fist and whispered, "I'm sorry, Mulder. I'm so sorry. Krycek tried to warn you."

"Krycek! Krycek was a bastard too! Playing both sides, whatever was best for him. Do you know he wanted to kill the baby before it was even born?"

Marita nodded in confirmation. "Because he knew what it was, what it would mean to the aliens."

Mulder sighed deeply, his anger abating. There was nothing he could do about the past.

She looked him right in the eyes and said, almost pleading, "That's why we have to get out of here and take William with us. I know where they're holding him. I can help you get to him, we just have to figure out how to get out of this cell."

He thought for a moment. Should he share their escape plan with her? She was once a valuable informant on his side. Could he trust her? He felt she was being honest with him now. He could see her fear and her desperation; those were real. He could see the torture and pain she'd been through. And perhaps she had knowledge that would be useful for the escape and for the future. "We already have a plan," he said. He told her that Scully and Doggett were alive and then went into the escape plan in detail.

Hope and relief replaced the fear that had been in her eyes. When he was finished speaking, she threw herself into his arms and hugged him tightly. "Thank you, Mulder, thank you for letting me come with you," he said as tears flowed down her face. She drew back and looked deeply into Mulder's eyes. "You can trust me. I will forever be on your side and in your debt." She leaned in and placed a tender, lingering kiss on Mulder's lips. They parted and he looked into her welcoming orbs. He saw more than gratefulness there.

"You don't owe me anything," he said, shocked that she had kissed him and even more shocked that he had actually not minded. But his heart belonged to Scully and now that he knew she was alive he couldn't, wouldn't, let himself be with another.

She studied his eyes and realization dawned on her. "You still love her, don't you?" she asked gently. Mulder gave the slightest of nods. She smiled bitter sweetly, knowing what it was like to love someone, unrequitedly in her case. "Can you just hold me?" she asked, needing the physical human contact.

"Of course," he said and gathered her into his arms. He lowered the both of them to the cold floor and they slept in each other's warmth.

Back out in the hot sun, the day passed quickly and all Dana Scully could think of was their plan of escape. She went over and over it in her mind, trying to think of all the things that could go wrong. There were many, but not to try and to be resigned to a life of hell was no longer an option. Knowing that Doggett and Mulder were alive gave her strength, but most of all William was her strength. She was doing this for him, for if left with the aliens, who knew what kind of person he would grow up to be. She knew they looked at him as some sort of messiah. But perhaps that would be short-lived and they would start the tests on him like they did on all other humans. She could not live with that. Her baby had to be protected and safe and now with Mulder and Doggett helping it would be their best chance.

She kept her eyes trained to the rubble she was moving, searching for something sharp that she could use to remove the chip in her neck tomorrow night. As if God had taken pity on her, she saw something gleam in the sunlight. Inconspicuously, she scanned the area and noticed that the guards were not looking in her direction. Quickly she picked up the object and closed her fingers around it. After another glance toward her captors she looked at what now lay in the palm of her hand: the blade of what was once a small pocketknife. Could she have found anything more perfect? She was overjoyed at her luck and tucked the knife away into her underwear waistband.

That night after having her regular visit with William and her dinner she hoped that they would bring Doggett to her again. She knew the two nights she had already spent with him were a gift and she should be thankful, but seeing him, being with him, made her realize even more how unbearable post-colonization life was. Knowing that there was an end to this suffering, whether it would be a successful escape or her death, was reassuring.

Like clockwork, the aliens arrived with their prisoner, turned off the energy shield, and threw him in. Scully waited until they left before running to him, her heart pounding in joy, and saying, "John!" She froze in her tracks about three steps away from him, shocked. Now that she could see his face clearly, instead of just his silhouette, she saw it was not Doggett at all, but Mulder. Her heart stopped, for she couldn't believe her eyes. Her partner, her friend, her soul mate was standing before her with the same expression of joyous shock in his eyes that she thought must have been in hers as well.

"Mulder!" she exclaimed incredulously.

And almost in the same instant he shouted, "Scully!"

Without letting another second pass by, they were in each other's arms, holding one another in an embrace that said they never wanted to let go. Tears flowed freely down both their faces. Scully lifted her head off of his chest and looked into his hazel eyes. They shined with tears and joy. "Mulder," she repeated touching his cheek with her fingers. "Mulder, you're here."

"Scully, I..." he was speechless. The thoughts and emotions that were running through his body like wildfire were just too overwhelming to put to words. Instead he did the only thing he could think of to let her know how tremendously happy he was to see her: he lowered his mouth to hers in a tender, loving kiss.

The moment was so intense, Scully responded without thinking, allowing herself to feel all of Mulder's emotions of bliss, gratefulness, and most of all, love. She conveyed her same feelings to him and their kiss opened, deepened, and lingered until all was "said". Breathless, they parted and held each other, stroking each other's back, arms, everything; needing to feel the reality of the moment. Silently, Mulder took Scully's hand and led her to the back of the cell. They sat down, facing each other, and communicated with their eyes like they had countless times over the past years. Without a word they shared their innermost feelings, their fears, their pain, their misery, their love.

Just like Scully and Doggett had, Mulder and Scully felt the need to continuously touch each other. To feel another human being, one that filled their hearts, was just a plain necessity. Mulder could barely believe the woman sitting across from him was his Scully. She was so thin. Her cheeks were sunken, her shoulders bony, the curvy hips, bottom, and breasts that he secretly admired and desired were now almost non-existent. She looked like a young boy, although her face and her hands showed the toll of the hard work she had had to endure under the vigilant eyes of the aliens. Mulder softly touched one of the scars that were scattered among the other scars and bruises on her body. Fresh tears spilled from his eyes.

"Scully..."

"Mulder, I'm fine," he said, cringing at her own old words. Had she let him in more in the past, maybe they would have been husband and wife by now. She amended her response, "The wounds you see on my body are nothing compared to the wounds that are in my heart. Not knowing if you were dead or alive, not knowing if I would ever see you again, those were the things that caused me the most pain. The joy I felt when John told me you were alive was indescribable. Mulder, I know you have gone through the same. Let's not dwell on that; let's enjoy what we have now in this precious moment, then let's look to the future that we are going to take back for ourselves." She had not meant to give a small speech; it had just flowed out. It was a relief to speak her heart without holding back or worrying what he might think. Life in this alien world had taught her to be true to her feelings and not to keep them to herself.

Mulder smiled. "That's my Scully: strong and determined as ever." Another strong wave of emotion washed over him and he said something he should have said long ago, "I love you, you know," he whispered and cupped her face in his hand.

She smiled, her eyes twinkling with love. "I do know. I love you too, Mulder. I always will." He leaned in and brushed his lips to hers, but unlike the last time, he waited for permission. She let his mouth linger on hers, enjoying the touch, the profound connection, but then she withdrew. She had given her heart to John Doggett and he had given her his. God willing, they would share a long life together, free from alien tyranny.

Mulder sensed her hesitation and spoke what was in his heart. "I've loved you for years, Scully. I've had a lot of time to think since the world ended and mostly I've thought about you, not Samantha, not my quest for the truth -- hey, we're living that, aren't we? --, but you, Scully. My only regret is that I didn't tell you sooner. And now I think it's already too late."

His last sentence was more of a question than a statement. Scully lovingly caressed her fingers over his cheeks and jawbones. "It's never to late to hear that you are loved. But you are right, to have heard it sooner would have changed a lot for us, I think. But I am as much to blame as you are. I've loved you for so long and I never told you. I regret that too. All the years we wasted, all the loneliness we endured: so unnecessary. There's no more wasting time, for this moment is all we might ever have together again."

"Scully, we are going to get out of here alive. All of us. I will make sure of it," Mulder said determined.

"I believe that too, I have to, but just in case, I want you to know that you are loved. I love you with all my heart. You are a part of me. Our souls are forever joined." To seal her words, she closed the small space between them and kissed him tenderly. Although she did not open her mouth to him in respect for her love of Doggett, she allowed the kiss to be intimate for she wanted it to convey her deep and timeless love for him. He wrapped his arms around her and took what she gave. When they parted they gazed into each other's eyes, speaking their unspoken language. He understood and accepted it, albeit painfully.

"Doggett told me William's alive," he said joyously. "I've been so worried and I've missed him so much, Scully!"

"I know you have. Not knowing his fate for over six months must have driven you insane! I know I would have been a crazy woman had I not known. They've driven me crazy enough, only letting me see him twice a day."

"How is he? Does he look healthy?"

"Yes, he is the picture of health. He definitely has your lips, even more so now than when you saw him last. They are so full, so perfectly kissable," he said gently running her finger over his plump bottom lip.

Mulder smiled and the urge to kiss her was great, but he squelched it. He knew she was in love with Doggett. But even so, he and Scully would always share a special love, a love no one could touch. And that he was grateful for. But he did regret not having created William in the old fashioned way. Why, when she came to him with her request that he be a sperm donor, did he not tell her he loved her? That was something he'd never forgive himself for. Things could have been completely different now. He would have made her his wife and they would have been a family. His hesitation and cowardice when it came to matters of the heart cost him dearly. Apparently John Doggett had not made the same mistake.

"I think our fears about William were not unwarranted though," he said anxiety in her voice. "I've been thinking a lot about what Krycek said about our baby being superhuman, without frailties."

"You think that's why they keep him separated from you and why he seems to be unharmed?"

"Yeah, and it scares me to death. I wonder what they have planned for him."

What Marita had told Mulder about William the night before came rushing back to him. He took Scully into his arms, wishing her pain and worry away. "We don't have to wonder; we're all getting out of here tomorrow night," he said hoping to soothe her, hoping to soothe himself.

After several moments, Mulder spoke again, "I was put in Marita Covarrubias' cell last night."

Scully's eyebrows rose in surprise. "She's alive?"

Mulder nodded. "Barely. They had apparently done a lot of tests on her earlier that day. She was very weak."

Scully shuddered at the thought, knowing exactly what kind of pain and torture she had endured.

"She told me that things are going to get worse for us here. She didn't have any specifics, but said she just knew that more evil was coming. She wanted me to help her figure a way out of here. I told her of our plan and she's in."

"Do you think we can trust her?" Scully asked warily.

"Yes," he said. There had been something in her eyes that had convinced him of that.

Fatigue overcoming them, they lied down on the ground together, their bodies intertwined, embracing tightly, and fell asleep. About two hours later Mulder awoke, fearing morning had already arrived.

Gently he caressed Scully's face until she awoke. She looked sleepily into his eyes and smiled. It felt so good to be in Mulder's arms, hearing his steady breath, feeling his warmth. But she wished Doggett were here as well and hoped he was safe.

Suddenly terror filled her eyes and she whispered urgently, "Are the guards here already? Are they taking you away?"

"Shh," he said, soothingly, placing a kiss on her forehead, "No, they're not here. I'm sorry; I didn't want to alarm you. I just thought we should go over the escape plan again before they do come."

She wrapped her arms tighter around Mulder, snuggling into his chest, as her racing heart returned to normal. "Yeah, you're right. Let's go over it all."

She told him of the knife blade she had found earlier, and he told her he had picked up a sharp-edged rock for the same purpose. They went over everything step by step. It was like being FBI partners again. Scully was excited to put the plan into motion. It would all start after their dinner once the aliens cleared out of the cellblocks and had left them for the night.

When the guards did come several hours later and tore them apart, they were mentally prepared for their fight for freedom. They exchanged "I love yous" and then Mulder was gone. She prayed it was not the last time she saw him.

Doggett had been so tremendously disappointed when the aliens had not brought him to Scully's cell, but rather to another woman's. His first thought was wondering who Scully had been put with, if anyone. He hoped it was Mulder for then he knew she would be safe. The thought of some sex-starved man sharing her cell for an entire night and Scully trying to fend him off angered and scared him.

The woman they had put him with was attractive, actually looked very similar to Scully, with red hair, porcelain skin and a petite frame. She had been very fearful so he talked to her for a good part of the night and then held her, upon request, for the rest of the night while they slept.

"Today's the day," Doggett thought to himself as he worked outside the next morning. It was the day they would kiss freedom hello or their lives goodbye. He gathered a small sharp stone for the little operation he would have to give himself tonight and thought through the plan in detail, his cop mind thinking of every possible hurdle, every possible catch. Unfortunately, there were so many unknowns. He looked to the horizon, and beyond the piles and piles of rubble there were some mountains, mountains that hopefully would be their refuge. As the workday drew to a close, he was sorry he hadn't seen Mulder. But if all went as planned, they'd be celebrating their newfound freedom before the day was over.

Scully waited anxiously in her cell, praying that either Doggett or Mulder would be put in with her tonight. Even alone was better than being with a stranger. A stranger could mess up the entire escape plan, and she was determined nothing was going to mess it up. After dinner and her visit with William, she waited nervously. Finally the guards brought a man to her cell. It was Doggett. Thank God! They ran into each other's arms, practically sobbing in relief and joy. After a passion-filled kiss, they quickly got down to business.

"Look what I found," Scully said proudly as she held out the small knife.

Doggett looked at it in surprise. "Terrific! I guess we won't be needing this," he said showing her the sharp rock. "I didn't see Mulder today," he stated with disappointment. "But I'm sure everything's fine," he added, not wanting her to worry.

"He was with me last night," Scully informed.

"He was?" Doggett said relieved, then a flash of jealousy jolted through his body. He mentally kicked himself for the feeling. "Thank God. I was worried some stranger would be put with you."

That was her Doggett: always concerned for her safety. "I was safe, Sweetheart, but I missed you. A lot."

Had she just called him "Sweetheart"? Doggett felt bliss rush through him and he smiled. "God, I missed you!" He claimed her in another passionate kiss that was so intense it touched her very soul.

Breathless they parted and Scully whispered, "I think we better get to the task at hand lest we get...distracted." She looked at him with an alluring smile. "I promise you a life time of my love if we escape."

"You mean when we escape," he said determined.

"When we escape," she agreed.

She switched topics, "Do you know Marita Covarrubias?"

"I remember coming across that name a few times in The X-Files," he said, his curiosity rising.

"Mulder was put in her cell the other night and she is going to be escaping with us. He trusts her and she can be an asset. At one point she was even infected by the alien virus. She could have information about them that could help us in the future."

A last minute change in plan was not something Doggett felt comfortable with, but who was he to deny another human being the opportunity for freedom? If Mulder trusted her, that would have to be good enough for him. He nodded to Scully, accepting the change.

"So are you ready for a little outpatient surgery?" she asked holding up the knife. He could see fear growing in her eyes even though she tried to hide it through lightheartedness.

"Am I ever!" he said, trying to sound just as lighthearted and sat down. He was nervous about their escape as well, but he did not want her to know that. She sat down behind him and felt for the chip. Then she carefully and skillfully cut it out in one clean incision. She pressed her finger to the small cut for a few minutes, halting any bleeding.

"All done. Now it's my turn," he said handing him the blade.

They switched places and as he held the knife to the back of her neck he said, "This is bringin' back some bad memories."

"Yeah. You know, I'd be dead if you hadn't saved me, one by finding me even though I ditched you, and two by cutting that God-awful thing out of me. I certainly learned my lesson."

"And what lesson would that be?" he asked, feeling her neck for the chip.

"Never ditch you again."

"You mean I'm stuck with you forever now?" he asked in mock exasperation as he sliced into her delicate flesh and extracted the chip. He hoped his joking would put her mind somewhat at ease.

"I'm afraid so, Agent Doggett; unless, of course, you'd rather have a different partner," she teased.

"Hmm...I'll have to think about that," he said with a smile in his voice. She jabbed her elbow into his stomach. "Hey, you're lucky I was already done with the "operation" or else you might have a nasty gash there now."

Scully turned around in amazement. "You already took the chip out?"

"Yup," he said, holding the piece between his fingers for her to see.

"Wow. I didn't feel a thing! You have the most gentle touch."

"Aw, Dana, why'd you have to go and say that? You know that's not the kinda thing a manly man likes to hear!" he joked. He was glad that his theory of keeping her talking and otherwise engrossed kept her from feeling the sharp cut of the blade. The last thing he ever wanted Dana Scully to feel again was pain.

She put her arms around his neck, careful not to touch the back, and said in a completely serious tone, "You are the manliest man I have ever met, John Doggett. I love you with all my heart." She brought her mouth to his in a kiss that she prayed would not be their last. They parted and looked into each other's eyes, knowing that this was either a farewell kiss or the first kiss in a future of freedom. She saw strong determination in his eyes, but underneath that, she also saw a hint of fear, the same fear she knew he could see in hers.

"We're going to make it," he said, needing to hear the words as fact.

"Damn straight we are!" he said, his resolve unwavering. "Let's do it," he said and stood up, offering her his hand. She took it and flew up next to him, meeting his eyes. They drew strength from each other.

Doggett deposited the chips toward the back of the cell, hoping they would have plenty of time before the aliens discovered that they were missing, and met Scully right in front of the energy shield.

"I'll go first," he said.

"No, we're in this together," he said and held out her hand for him to take.

He knew there was no arguing with her and took it. "I love you," he said.

"I love you," he said and they both stepped through the shield. There was no electric shock, no pain, no hindrance. Scully's theory about the chip implants had been correct. They were free, at least from their cell. They smiled at each other brightly. One hurdle down, how many more to go?

Quietly they made their way through the cellblock, careful not to rouse any of the other humans, who luckily all seemed to be asleep. Scully led them to the special room William was kept and they walked through the energy shield there without incident. They scanned the room and found it empty except for William. While Doggett manned the door, keeping a lookout for any aliens, Scully went to William who was sleeping peacefully, wrapped him in the blanket that had covered him, and took him into her arms. Doggett signaled that all was clear and she joined him. They hurried through the rest of the cellblock, going through several more energy shields on the way. There were no aliens in sight. Apparently they thought their method of incarceration was so foolproof no overnight guards were needed.

Finally they stepped through the last energy shield into the crisp night air. They scanned the terrain but saw no one except a sole guard off in the distance. He was facing the opposite direction and Doggett and Scully ran to the previously determined spot where Mulder would hopefully be waiting. They rounded a corner and there he was with Marita at his side. The fear that initially was in Mulder's eyes quickly turned to joy when he saw that it was indeed Scully and Doggett that had found them and not some alien. Relief flooded their hearts. Briefly they all embraced and Mulder took the still sleeping William from Scully's arms and kissed him softly on the forehead. Together they all ran in the direction of the mountains.

They didn't speak during their journey for fear of being heard by some alien lurking around another countless pile of rubble. They just ran and ran and ran. Fear and adrenaline kept them going at such a swift pace. Finally they reached the base of the mountain and were surprised to find a couple small houses still standing. Apparently the mountains had shielded them from the alien attack. Mulder motioned for them to stay back out of view while he went to check them out. A few minutes later he stepped back out of one of the houses and waved them over.

Once all in the house, Mulder spoke, "They both seem to be abandoned." Doggett, Scully, and Marita looked around. A fine layer of dust covered all the surfaces and cobwebs were in every corner. "I say we gather some supplies, as much as we can carry, and continue to the mountains."

"I agree. I don't think we'd be safe here for long," Marita said, knowing the aliens would be searching for them before long.

The four went through closets and cupboards and loaded two backpacks and a couple bags they found with blankets, some clothing, lots of canned foods, a can opener, and a few basic eating utensils. Seeing these common household items was a luxury for them and flooded back memories of a normal, peaceful life. They were even so lucky to find two handguns with ammunition and stuffed them in the bags.

Finished with their packing, they left the house and started the accent up the mountain. The moonlight did not penetrate well through the thick branches of the forest, making the trek difficult and slow. Mulder and Doggett took turns supporting Marita, for she was still weak from her latest barrage of tests. With each step freedom was nearer and nearer to their grasp.

With dawn quickly approaching they found a heavily overgrown area and stopped. "What do ya say we camp here 'till sundown, get some sleep then continue in the night? I think usin' night as our cover when we move keeps us safer from being spotted by the aliens. And by sleepin' during the day we can keep a better lookout for trouble," Doggett suggested.

"I agree," Scully and Marita said in unison.

"So do I," Mulder said. "I'll keep lookout for the first shift," he offered.

"Thanks," Doggett said. "But first, let's eat."

Mulder, Scully, and Marita agreed wholeheartedly and they all sat down. They opened a few cans and feasted on human food prepared by human hands. Nothing tasted better. The peaches in heavy syrup were like the finest dessert to their deprived palettes and even the Spam tasted like a perfectly cooked and seasoned Easter ham.

"I think that is the best meal I've ever had in my life," Mulder said, patting his full stomach.

"Yeah, and the best thing about it is we are eating it in freedom! Nothing feels better!" Scully exclaimed in glee. She felt so happy, but a nagging fear kept popping up in the back of her mind. How long would their freedom last? Would they have to be on the move all the time? Would they live in fear and uncertainty for the rest of their lives?

Doggett saw the fear overshadow the joy that had just been on Scully's face and he knew exactly what she was thinking. He was thinking the same things, and fear was no stranger to him either. He put his arm around Scully and pulled her to him.

"It's gonna work out. There are four of us and one of us can always be on guard while the other three and William can relax. We'll just take it one day at a time. But no one or no thing is gonna take our freedom from us again. We are fighters, all of us. We will adapt to this lifestyle and we will find happiness in it," Doggett said with zeal and determination.

The pep talk sunk into Mulder, Marita, and Scully's brains. They had all needed to hear it, for they all shared the same fears and doubts.

"You're right, Doggett. It's going to work out. We'll make sure of it," Mulder agreed.

"And we have each other. That's most important," Scully said gratefully. She reached out her free arm, inviting Marita and Mulder, with William snuggled in his arms, to her embrace. Mulder sat down next to her, she with her arms around the two men she loved, and Mulder with his arm tightly around Marita. They sat like that for several minutes in silence, gaining strength and courage from each other.

"You guys join this little one here," Mulder said referring to the sleeping baby in his arm, "and get some sleep. I'll wake you, Doggett, when it's your turn."

"Sounds good," Scully said and took William from Mulder.

"I'll keep watch with you, Mulder," Marita said, standing up.

"You need the most rest of all of us right now. You should go to sleep," Mulder said with concern.

"Then just for a little while," he said, needing to be with him. She owed him her life and she wanted to let him know how grateful she was.

"Alright," he said, seeing the need in her eyes. He actually welcomed the company.

Doggett and Scully settled down on the soft earth, cuddling together with William protected between them. Doggett smoothed Scully's hair back then traced the outline of her face with his fingertips. "I will do everything in my power to protect you and William. Anything. You come first. I want you to have some peace," Doggett said, hoping his words could bring her that peace.

Scully pressed her trembling lips together and smiled as a single tear escaped from the corner of her eye and fell on the baby's blanket. This man loved her so completely. Never had she felt a love like this before; it was almost palpable. She knew he meant every word he said. She knew he would die for her if it came down to that. And she would do the same for him. "Oh, John," she whispered, not knowing how to convey her profound love for him. "Just being with you brings me peace. I love you. You have all of me."

He smiled and leaned in closer to her. "And you have all of me." He moved his lips on hers, in a deep, lingering kiss that smoldered with intense love and passion and promised a future of nothing less. Then he pulled her even closer to him and they fell asleep in each other's embrace.

When night fell, they continued their journey. They walked for days, deep into the mountains, living off the land. They bathed in steams and supplemented their canned food with mushrooms, berries, and an occasional dear.

Finally they reached a place where they felt that they were safe, and settled in an inconspicuous cave. Standing at a nearby cliff, the four of them held each other's hands, and looked out at the rubble that was now America. It was an alien world that lay before them. Tears welled in each of their eyes for all they had lost, for all humankind had lost. Then smiles formed on their lips as they thought of what they had gained: freedom. Before the invasion they had taken freedom for granted, but now it was something they would struggle and fight to keep for the rest of their lives, for nothing was more precious.

The End

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