Title: Stranded for Christmas
Author: Macspooky
Rating: R for adult situations
Disclaimer: All the usual disclaimers still apply. The show belongs to Chris Carter, 1013, Fox, etc. as do the beloved characters.

Summary: Mulder and Scully aren't getting along when they get stranded in an abandoned cabin over the holidays.

Author's note: This is a Christmas story that I wrote, or started on November 11, 1995. It is not part of my "Generations" series although I can't seem to get away from Mulder/Scully romance in some way shape or form. I've tried to pick up on the coolness we've seen in too many of the eps this season and make use of it here. I actually wrote four chapters for this story, but alas, the two were the only one that I could get to work almost, but not quite to my satisfaction.

Mulder drove slowly and carefully. The snow beat against the windshield of the car with growing force and the windshield wipers could already barely keep up. He looked at his gas gage. Fortunately, he had filled up before they had left the small town they had been working in. Unfortunately, he had not listened to the weather forecast. He felt rather than saw his partner sitting beside him staring out the window. They had been silent since the drive back to Denver had started. That was okay. He was very very angry with Dana, and nothing he could have said right then would have served any purpose. He had nearly had Samantha, nearly had his sister in his arms there in the Colorado forest. He knew it. The woman had looked exactly like the clone that had come to his father's house on Martha's Vineyard. She had run from him, frightened, not knowing who he was, and then the light had come, and suddenly Samantha had been gone again.

Once more, he had felt like a helpless twelve year old watching his beloved Samantha disappear. As luck would have it, she had scraped her hand against a tree leaving a trickle of blood and a small tissue sample, and Scully had destroyed it, dropped it in the sink in the ladies room shattering the glass tube it was in as the water washed it down the drain. His partner had been stupid and careless, and worse, would not even admit it. Now he would have no proof, no evidence that the terrified woman running through the trees had been Samantha at all. Once again they would tell him he was crazy, Spooky Mulder with hallucinations about aliens, insane Mulder with the sick obsession about his sister. Damn, Scully. Damn her to hell.

Lately things hadn't been the same between them anyway. They hadn't been quite right since Lucy Householder had died. That case had been awful for him, reminding him of his sister's abduction and the time during which Scully had been missing. Dana had really hurt him with her lecture about how he was relating the case too closely to his sister. When he had stood at the window of the Bright Angel halfway house and watched her get out of that car with other agents coming to arrest Lucy, the pain had nearly overwhelmed him It had seemed almost as though she had gone over to the other side, having no faith in his instincts. Maybe, just maybe it was time for him to have her transferred.

Mulder stopped the car. It skidded a little on the icy road. There appeared to be a side track veering off from the narrow main road that wended its way down the mountain. The weather was getting worse, and the road steeper. Several times he had felt the rental car slip toward the edge of the cliff ever so slightly. He was becoming increasingly nervous about his chances of ending up over the side or in a ditch. They were out of cell range, the mountains cutting them off. There would be no way of seeking help. Making a sudden decision, one based solely on instinct and nothing more, the kind his partner hated, Mulder turned the wheel and started slowly down the barely visible narrow opening. "What the hell are you doing, Mulder?" she demanded suddenly coming out of her reverie.

"We are never going to make it to Denver at this rate. I bet there is a house of some sort at the end of this lane."

"We'll never make it up this road, Mulder. You are going to get us both killed."

"Well, then we'll both be dead won't we?" he inquired sarcastically. "Who knows, maybe Skinner will grow some hair again."

"You should have asked...."

"I'm the one that's driving, so tough shit, Scully."

She lapsed into silence again recognizing that when he got that attitude no amount of argument was going to get her anywhere. She decided it was best to say nothing. She'd been doing that a lot lately, saying nothing. Sometimes it was as though they weren't partners anymore, not really. It was as though she could have been working with any agent. He had been so kind and gentle after her sister's funeral, but then it had changed. He had backed away from her.

She was really angry at him now anyway. He had run off into the forest and hadn't told her where he was going or what he was doing. She had spent a frantic hour trying to locate him. He had promised her after Alaska, had absolutely sworn that he would never ditch her again, but as soon as he had even a tenuous lead on Samantha, he had abandoned her to pursue his hunt alone. It wasn't the first time he had broken the promise either. He had jumped on that train after she had begged him not to. He hadn't trusted her. In the end, that was what he really wanted, she supposed, to hunt his beloved sister alone. It angered her and it hurt her deeply. He had also blown off her concerns about the Mufon women and what might be happening to her, what she might have been exposed to. What had happened to the tissue sample had served him right, she thought, or at least she tried to tell herself that. He didn't seem to care anymore.

Fortunately for both of them, a cabin suddenly appeared out of nowhere. Although it seemed deserted, it was shelter, a place to wait out the storm. With a sigh, she realized that she wouldn't be in Washington this Christmas no matter what happened. Damn Mulder anyway.

Dana wouldn't give him the satisfaction of admitting that he had been right as she worked at lighting the fire in the fireplace and the wood stove. The cabin was small, one large room really, furnished in old cast offs, but it was well maintained and clean except for a layer of dust that came from having sat empty for many weeks. Mulder entered and dropped his suitcase. She sighed. She would have to go out and get hers later, but right now she was too cold to think about it. It was his way of letting her know he was angry with her.

"Electric is out," she said making an effort not to sound annoyed, "and there is a water pump, but the plumbing is outdoors." The fire started in the wood stove.

"Not a problem for me, Scully," he replied with a cross between a smile and a sneer. "Gee, don't know what you're going to do in the middle of the night."

He began rummaging around the cabinets.

"Well, at least there is lots of canned food.....and coffee.....plenty of coffee.....Put some on for us, Scully," he ordered something in the corner catching his eye. She glared at him for a moment and then with a shrug found an old metal coffee pot and put some on to perk. It would probably take forever since the stove was not yet really hot.

Mulder had found an old CB Radio and put in a call for help. The batteries were weak, but he succeeded in making a connection to the local sheriff's department.

"Okay, you folks must be at the Patterson place. Good people. Stay put. It might be days before we can get you out."


"Well, you should be safe and there should be enough food and water. Okay, I'll notify Walter Skinner at FBI Headquarters in Washington, DC.....Right, and that was Margaret Scully...fine....I'll remind this Skinner guy to let her know....Save your batteries....You have a Merry Christmas now...."

"Yeah, right," muttered Fox. "A Merry Christmas to you too. Thank you." He cut off the connection and saw Scully looking at him.

"Thank you for reminding him about calling my mother," she said softly. He didn't answer, and she went back to taking stock of their supplies. If they had to stay for a few days, she thought, they were going to get very tired of canned soup and beans, but at least the cabin would get warm and they wouldn't perish from exposure in a ditch somewhere. There was even a rack of old musty paperbacks to read. For once, good fortune had shined upon them. She found some oil lamps in one of the cabinets and a large bottle of oil. Quietly she prepared them. It was doubtful that the power would be back on any time soon. Dana was grateful for the survival skills her dad had given all his children. Although primitive, this was a comparative paradise.

Fox settled himself down on the old love seat in front of the fire with a paperback, determined to ignore her. The books were limited to three classes, mysteries, westerns and soft core porn. He had chosen one of the latter simply to try to annoy her. Hell, why not?

"That coffee ready?" he inquired.

She gave him a dirty look and was tempted to tell him that if he wanted it, he could get it his damn self. She restrained herself however. It had been a long drive, and he hadn't had much sleep, and he had, after all, probably lost his sister. She got to her feet and saw that it had indeed perked and poured it into two metal mugs adding some powdered milk.

He accepted it from her without a word making certain that she saw the cover of his book. She ignored it and set a great big pot of water on the stove to heat. They would need it later for washing. Looking under the bed, she found what she was looking for, an old jerry mug, or thunder mug as her dad had called them. In theory, this was supposed to be her solution to the middle of the night plumbing problem except that there was not a private corner in the cabin.

"Sheesh," she thought. She suddenly very much wanted to be home. She was contemplating asking Mulder to keep his back turned so she could use the thing, when suddenly she heard a spitting spluttering sound.

"Jeez, Scully, this is f-----g decaf. You know I hate this stuff." He choked.

"Yeah, well as hyper as you have been lately, I didn't think you needed the caffeine." She glared at him.

"Bitch," he muttered. What the hell was it with her lately anyway? They weren't even working well together anymore. Heck, these days any agent could have been assigned to work with him.

"Listen you sanctimonious bastard, if you want regular coffee you can make it your damn self," she replied. She set the jerry mug down and took her own mug pretending to enjoy the hot liquid just for spite even though it tasted awful.

For a long time they sat silently taking turns glaring at each other. His point having been made, he drank the coffee, but he didn't enjoy it. Periodically he glared at her thinking about his sister. She returned his glare when he wasn't looking thinking about how frightened she'd been when he had been gone. He didn't seem to care anymore. He didn't need her anymore. The thought reverberated in her head constantly.

Finally, she got to her feet and looked out. The cabin was finally warm, but the snow had stopped and she simply couldn't stand it any longer.

"Let's go outside," she said.

"Why?" he demanded.

"I don't know. Let's just go outside for a little while and build a snowman or something. I just can't stand being in right now."

He shrugged. Why not? The book certainly wasn't very exciting. While he got into his things, she scrounged around and found an old carrot and two small rotten potatoes, eyes and a nose for the snowman.

There was definitely more snow coming, a lot more snow, and it was very cold, but the air was clear and crisp for the moment and after Dana had availed herself of the outdoor plumbing, they got busy building their snowman working silently side by side. Neither was really having very much fun. Fox was bored and still angry. None-the-less, it got built. It stood just about as tall as Dana.

"I'll get some branches for arms," she informed him. "You put in the eyes and nose."

He saluted her, and when she turned away, a mischievous gleam appeared in his eyes. He didn't appreciate her giving orders. He would show her.

When Dana returned with two broken branches, Frosty did not have two eyes and a nose. What he did have was two testicles set atop a carrot shaped penis. Ordinarily, his childish humor would have made her laugh, but today it just annoyed her.

"Fox Mulder, you fix that right now," she demanded putting her hand on her hip and glaring at him.

"No way, babe. You want it fixed, you do it yourself." Mulder returned her stare.

"You did it; now you fix it."

"Nope," he turned and walked away from her. Dana picked up a snowball and threw it at him catching him across the back of the neck.

This meant war. He turned, gathered snow and threw one at her. For a few minutes it was almost fun. She laughed. He laughed. They were almost like their old selves, but then he thought of the frightened young woman running through the trees, running away from him, and he threw the next snowball a little harder than he had intended. It caught her across the face and knocked her down in the snow. Feeling a little guilty, he went to help her up, but she was angry and hurting, her face stinging in the cold and she tripped him and brought him down next to her.

"Oh, so you want to play rough, huh..." He rolled on top of her and pinning her arms above her head with one hand, washed her face with snow.

"Say uncle.....Come on, Scully, let's hear it. Uncle..."

"No way..." she struggled trying to work a knee into his groin area, but he was prepared and just grinned and smeared her face with more snow. He knew her well.

"I'm not going to let you up until you say it, Scully," he grinned. "Uncle...Uncle..."

"Mulder, stop....."

"Uncle, Scully....." He knew he should stop. His teasing had taken on a cruel undertone, but he couldn't help himself. She was the one person he thought he could always rely on, and she had failed him.

Suddenly, defeated, she gave in.

"Uncle," she said softly. He realized then that the water on her face was not from the snow he had rubbed in none too gently, at least not entirely. Her cheeks were streaked with salty tears. He hadn't meant to make her cry, exactly. He got off of her.

"You ditched me," she said. "You ran off alone and left me. You promised. You promised you wouldn't do that again. I was so scared...."

"Yeah, well, you let me down, Scully. You didn't trust me about Lucy, and you let me down. That hurts, you know. You're supposed to be my partner." He walked over to the snowman and fixed the eyes and nose. He felt her following him and sighed. "Look," he said seeing that a small pine tree had toppled over and deciding that it was time to change the subject. "Let's take in inside and use it for a Christmas tree." He didn't want to talk about it anymore. He had already revealed too much.

"Okay," she responded softly. She didn't really want to. It didn't feel much like Christmas. Her head hurt a little from the cold. She helped him carry it in and went and got her suitcase. His words had made her thoughtful. She hadn't realized that her handling of the Amy Jacobs case had wounded him so deeply. It hadn't been personal. She had just been doing her job. On the other hand, perhaps she had been insensitive to what he had been going through. Her professionalism tended to be her suit of armor, and it was possible that this time, she had let it interfere with her relationship with her partner. Perhaps she could have been more understanding. While he fiddled with the tree, Dana went to the stove and put on another pot of coffee. She did not want to admit that she was very uncomfortable about the way her feelings had grown for him as time had passed.

The cabin was warm now, and she kept herself busy hanging their wet jackets, rinsing the mugs, doing little chores so she wouldn't have to look at him, wouldn't have to say anything just yet. She didn't quite trust herself to speak. Their recent cases together had been disasters. Oh, they had been closed alright, conventionally. She had found a way to see that all was right with the paper work, no weirdness, nothing paranormal, and she had kept a careful muzzle on her partner, but she had known that in most cases his weird and bazaar explanations had been the correct ones and had refused to acknowledge it even to him. She wanted to work, but she was tired of fighting with their superiors. She wanted answers, but she wanted normalcy and a merit raise as well. She was, she realized, tired. She had been clinging to rationality as a coping mechanism for all that was going wrong in her life.

"Mulder," she said quietly holding out a mug to him. He had found a box of old Christmas ornaments and was busy putting them on the tree. They were pretty beat up, mostly ready for the trash heap in fact, but it was keeping him busy.

"Take it. It's the real thing this time."

"Thanks, Scully," he said looking at her. She looked so sad with dark circles under her eyes, not the same woman he had known for so long. He hoped there was nothing to what that group of women in Allentown had told her. What if she really did get sick?

"Mulder, I know I let you down," she said softly her eyes misting over. "I'm sorry. It was a stupid, careless accident and it never should have happened. It's just that....."

"What, what, Scully...."

"I was....I was in the ladies room and decided to put the glass tube in a small box. I hadn't sent it off to the lab because, well, because it was precious and I didn't want to trust the mails or a courier. I wanted to handle it myself.....I....looked in the mirror and I saw......"

"What did you see, Scully?"

"I saw Missy. I saw her face, and I realized that she was dead, and it was my fault, and she wouldn't be around to read tarot cards for Christmas. I dropped the tube and it hit the wrong way and shattered. The faucet was broken and the water was running and......it was a stupid, stupid accident. I was careless and.......I'm sorry. I'm so sorry, Mulder. Now you'll never know for sure if it was Samantha." Her lip quivered, but she wasn't about to let herself cry.

He nodded gently. She turned away and looked out the window. It wasn't alright, not really, but he understood. He understood that she had been through so much, and just for an instant she had lost her composure.

"I know you didn't mean to," he said quietly. "Come on, Scully, help me decorate the tree."

"Oh, Fox, come look," she burst out suddenly forgetting herself.

"Giving orders again, Scully?" he inquired, but he stepped up to the window and ignored the fact that she had used his hated first name.

"I...I just wanted you to see something beautiful, Mulder. I'm sorry. I'm sorry about the way I have acted about lots of things recently."

"It's okay." The sight was captivating. A small herd of deer had made it's way into the clearing. They were lovely creatures, large and majestic. It had started to snow once again making the clearing an enchanting place. They watched silently. Suddenly there was a commotion. Two red fox came scampering across the clearing, running and chasing each other, tumbling and wrestling, one moment appearing playful, the next almost angry. Dana found herself laughing with delight at their antics. Mulder founded himself enjoying the sight of his namesakes and the sound of her laughter. Then suddenly the animals parted and stopped playing. The larger of the two, the male, mounted the female. Dana found herself blushing, but it was Fox's turn to laugh aloud.

"Looks like the old foxster got lucky today," he told her. He was finding her closeness a bit uncomfortable at that moment. She always smelled so pretty.

"Yeah, right. He gets lucky. She gets pregnant."

"That's fair," he grinned. He touched the small of he back briefly. "Want some more coffee, Scully?" He decided that he better change the subject quickly.

"No thanks. Don't want to spend the night in the outhouse. Tell you what. I'll play domestic goddess and make us some dinner. We've both forgotten to eat."

She turned toward him and smiled. He touched her cheek briefly and smiled back.

"That would be nice," he said quietly. "We haven't really had a meal together in a long while."

End of Part 1

Chapter 2

Fox finished with the tree while Dana went to work on dinner. It was good that they were back on speaking terms again. It would have been dismal to have been stuck in this cabin for heaven knew how many days with someone who you were angry at. Perhaps all their problems hadn't been resolved, but they were friends again. He knew he would have to talk to her about their working relationship. The old spark had gone out of it. It wasn't as much fun. For himself, he gave in too easily and let her muzzle his reports. Perhaps they were both just tired and burned out. In anycase, that didn't matter at this moment. It could be discussed when they got back to the office.

"Dinner's ready," she said finally. "Gourmet Dinty Moore beef stew."

"At this point, I could eat a horse," he chuckled. Dinty Moore beef stew was no great sacrifice for him. It was a regular part of his bachelor's diet when he bothered to do that much cooking at all. They didn't say a lot while they devoured the makeshift meal. They were really famished. When they had finished, he watched her pump up water with the old fashioned pump at the sink and wash the dishes quickly. The water must be ice cold, he realized. He snatched up the nearby rag and dried them for her, vowing that next time he would put hands in the cold water. He felt a little petty for having left her luggage in the car. Then, he went and threw another log on the fire.

A few minutes later she joined him on the love seat handing him a mug of cocoa.

"It's a pretty sorry looking tree isn't it?" he asked accepting it with a thankful nod. He thought idly that it was more tree than he usually had. He never bothered. He had no one to bother for. Dana was being sweet, trying to make up for her carelessness, he realized. He had, he thought, been a real bastard running off and leaving her without a word like that. He had broken his promise. He had once again considered his needs and wants over anyone else's.

"Oh, I don't know. I think it's rather lovely," she replied softly.

"Right...just because the back has no needles and the ornaments are falling apart and....."

"Well, we are warm and safe, which is more than we thought we would be this morning. It's beautiful, Mulder. Thank you for thinking of it." Briefly she touched his cheek now in need of a shave.

They lapsed into silence.

"Dana, I'm sorry.....I mean.....it's okay that I'm stuck here on Christmas Eve. I don't have anyone....but you....you are missing Christmas with your family......and it's my fault."

"No....no Mulder...I'm not. I mean, I might have gone to see my mom the day after but.....well, my brothers....since Melissa.....they have wives and children, and they don't want me near their families. I couldn't deprive mom of seeing her grandkids....I was just gonna stay home anyway." It was difficult for her to admit the rift in her family. It hurt her. It hurt so very much. Even her mom blamed her for Melissa's death. Although she never came out and said it, Dana sensed it. She knew.

"That's awful!" he exclaimed. He was, perhaps, beginning to understand her conduct of late. The rejection by her family made him angry. Dana was such a private person and didn't invite questions in her personal domain.

"No...it's understandable. They're scared...and Missy, well, she was always kind of the favorite sister....know what I mean....just like,well, I was kind of daddy's favorite."

"I still think it's terrible. I'm sorry, Scully."

She nodded and bit back tears. She wanted to ask him if you ever got used to it, but didn't. She supposed you got numb to the pain after awhile, but never used to it. It probably never completely stopped hurting, this rejection by those you loved.

After a long period of silence, Dana decided one of them had to say something. Forcing herself to smile, she took his hands in hers.

"Do you have a Christmas wish, Fox Mulder?" she asked him.

"My sister....."

"No, besides that one. That's my wish too, that you should find your sister. I want that more than anything too. I mean something just for you, something selfish, something for right now......."

He gazed into her blue eyes that met his so sincerely. She looked so lovely in the firelight, the flames dancing off her red hair, bringing a lovely glow to her skin.

"It's silly, silly and impossible," he said.


"I can't tell you." He had a feeling if he said more that it might end in disaster.

"Yes you can. What is your Christmas wish? I mean if you could have anything at this moment.....just at this moment on Christmas...."

"I don't know.....I guess....." He reached out with one hand and touched her cheek, "I guess at this moment I wish that you were.....Mrs. Fox Mulder....and that, well, I could take you over to that bed....and....well, put my baby inside you, and we could be a family, a real family that never rejects each other or blames each other, that loves each other. Nice fantasy to have about my partner huh?"

"Unexpected," she smiled. She was deeply moved and genuinely touched. She had known he cared about her, but didn't think he really had those kinds of thoughts, at least not recently. It felt good to know that he loved her too. She had thought that was her domain, wanting something more with him than just a partnership.

"What about you? What would you have this very moment if you could?" He felt really silly having exposed himself to her, especially in light of their recent difficulties. It had to be the atmosphere or something. He hated this time of year, what it did to him, how vulnerable it left him. Well, at least she hadn't laughed out loud.

"A Justice of the Peace," she replied.

He looked at her and blinked. "What did you say?"

"A Justice of the Peace," she smiled. "But, I guess that isn't about to happen is it?"

That was the last thing he had expected her to say. Laughing, he got up and went and got some string he had seen in a draw. He broke off two small pieces and started playing with them. She watched him thinking he had gone quite mad this evening and wishing that wishes did come true. When he was satisfied with what he had done he returned to the loveseat. Hazel eyes looked at her face. He thought to himself that he must have gone quite insane. He took her left hand in hers.

"I, Fox William Mulder, promise to love, honor and cherish you for richer for poorer, for better or for worse, in sickness and in health until death do us part," he smiled gently. He slipped the piece of string on her finger. "With this string, I thee wed."

Deeply touched, filled with love, she smiled at him and took the other piece of string from him.

"I, Dana Katherine Scully, promise to love, honor, cherish and sometimes even obey you, for richer for poorer, for better or for worse, in sickness and in health until death or aliens from outer space do us part," she returned with a sweet smile. She slipped the string on his finger, "With this string, I thee wed."

"I now pronounce us man and wife," he stated.

They both laughed. It felt good.

"You may now kiss the bride," she added.

"I may? I mean....."

"You damn well better."

"Giving orders again, Dr. Scully?"

"Nope, giving orders again, Mrs. Mulder."

Fox came to wakefulness slowly. What a night it had been! They had sat on the loveseat necking like a pair of teenagers. Neither had really intended the fantasy to go any further than those long slow kisses that had felt so wonderful. When bedtime had come, he had planned to sleep on the floor, but she had pointed out that the temperature was going to drop in the cabin during the night, and lacking any extra blankets, they had climbed into the double bed together. The problem was, the mattress had sagged in the middle and they had rolled together and had been unable to break apart.

Suddenly he had begun showering her with kisses once again, unable to hide his love for her.

"I want more, Dana, so much more," he had whispered in her ear, "but I can't protect you. I have nothing to protect you with."

"You don't have to protect me all the time, Fox," had been her soft reply. "Sometimes, you have to forget about protecting me. I love you. I love you so much. This should be a safe time for me."

Oh yes, what a night it had been, a time of wonder, of magic, a night of careless abandon, of love, of giving vent to all the feelings they had kept so carefully bottled up for so long, a night of fantasy in which he pretended she really was his wife, and she pretended he was her beloved husband.

It had been a night of placing kisses gently all over her body, of her placing kisses all over his, a night of joining, of oneness, a night of ecstasy, of dreams come true.

He reached for her, but she wasn't there. Disappointed he turned over and half sat up. She was standing by the stove dressed in jeans and a shirt, a mixing bowl on one hip stirring something, her red hair hanging loose.

"Dana," he said tentatively.

"Good morning, Fox," she smiled. "I'm making you a special breakfast."

He smiled.

She set the bowl down and ran to him.

"Merry Christmas, Fox...."

"Merry Christmas, Little Bit...."

And it was......the most wonderful Christmas either of them had ever known.


"Stranded for Christmas - The Next Year" Chapter One of Two.

Dana sat down and stared at the test results. The big + sign hit her like a slap in the face. It shouldn't have happened. Her period had been due in just a few days and she was as regular as clockwork. There was no way she should have gotten pregnant. She was. What was she going to do? How was she going to deal with this? Since they had gotten back from Colorado, Fox had grown so cold and distant pushing her away, distancing himself from her, speaking to her only in regard to work. There had been no more lunches together, no pleasant meals and a movie occasionally after work...nothing....How could it have happened? Well, it wasn't as though she hadn't seen it coming. She thought back to the day after Christmas in the cabin...

"Bath time, Mulder," Dana announced. Fox had been watching her pouring water into the large old washtub that she had brought in from outside with great curiosity. It had taken her quite awhile to fill it to her own satisfaction. Sometimes the woman was simply too busy.

"Uh, what do you mean bath time?" he inquired somewhat alarmed. The tub was awfully small, and this entire adventure was starting to remind him of a scene from a bad western. He wanted beer, pizza, cable TV, a hot shower, indoor plumbing. Roughing it, even with Dana, was getting old rather quickly. What he didn't want was a bath in that half rusted old wash tub. He had jokingly called Dana his "pioneer" woman, but this was ridiculous. He looked around the small cabin. She had done wash that morning in a bucket and wet underwear hung everywhere. He had gotten wood. Somehow he had the feeling that he had gotten the better part of the deal. Perhaps she was taking this domestic goddess business too seriously. Perhaps they were taking everything more seriously than they should have.

"To put it succinctly, Mulder, you smell."

"Yeah, well, if we are open to honesty here, Scully, so do you."

"Precisely, and that is why it's bath time. You aren't going to go all modest on me now are you?" The cabin rang out with her giggling. For two days, the room had reverberated with the sounds of their lovemaking. Glorious it had been. She had discovered a fire in herself, a passion she hadn't known she possessed. It hadn't been there before, not with anyone, not even Jack, not that she really done it with anyone else except them, but Fox could turn her knees to jello with a look, and when he touched her, she melted. She was deliriously happy, her face glowing with her new found contentment. After years of lonliness, it was wonderful to love and be loved, especially by a man with whom she had been through so much already.

"Yeah, sure, right..." He agreed reluctantly. After two days of no shower and far more sex than he was accustomed to, he supposed she had a point about the bath, but still....

"I'm letting you go first..." she reminded him as he undressed and reluctantly climbed in the tub. Even sitting Indian style, it would barely contain him. She took an old wash rag and scrubbed it through his hair, then gently washed his back kissing it delicately as she did so. Then, when she had finished she slipped her arms around his neck from behind and kissed his cheek.

"I love you, Fox. I love you so much." She released him and held up a tattered old towel for him to dry off.

It had felt wonderful, Dana's touch, Dana's embrace, but for an instant, just an instant, he felt smothered. He was not used to living with anyone. He was accustomed to being alone. He had thought he always would be alone. Fox pushed the thought aside and watched as she took her turn in the water. "I love you too. I'll always love you, Dana."

"Aren't you going to wash my back, Fox?" she asked him, having climbed into the tub. Dana felt a slight worry gnawing at her heart. What if it turned out he really didn't love her as much as he thought he had on Christmas Eve when they had made that commitment to each other? No, it wasn't possible. He wouldn't have done what he had done if he hadn't believed the time had come for them to be together. He had hesitated a bit, but not much, and that was only because he was a responsible man. He had seemed ready. Of course he loved her. When they were lying on the bed together, joining, being one, it was perfect. Even if he hadn't been serious when he had put that piece of string on her finger, he had become serious later.

"Oh, sure, Little Bit....yeah...." he sighed. She was so beautiful, he thought as he washed her, studying the freckles on her shoulder, so perfect. It wasn't fair. He didn't need a beautiful perfect woman to love him. He didn't need the emotion to tie him down. He needed to find his sister, to find the people that had taken her, destroyed his family, abducted his partner. It wasn't fair that he had met Dana and had come to love her. It only made things harder. It confused his priorities. It wasn't fair to her either. She was a good woman who deserved his whole heart, not just a part. Why had he done this to her? He thought he had wanted it. He did want it, but it just wasn't possible.

"What's wrong, sweetheart?" she asked as he seemed to hesitate in applying the cloth to her back.

"Nothing.....nothing's wrong, Angel," he replied quietly, but she knew that he was lying. Something told her that everything was wrong, that even as he loved her, he also regretted doing so. Already he felt chained. He was backing away from her. She was going to lose him.

Yes, even then she had seen it coming although she had denied it and they had spent three more wonderful days together before finally being rescued. Well, the baby was coming and there was nothing she could do about it now except chastise herself. She was a doctor. She should have known better, known there was no such thing as safe. The only other thing to do was to tell him. She was suddenly overwhelmed by nausea. It had gotten worse and worse. She ran to the bathroom and threw up until her stomach was empty then rinsed her mouth out. Finally pulling herself together, she picked up the phone.

"Mulder, it's me..." she said when he answered.

"Oh, hi, Scully," he said. She was the first and the last person he wanted to hear from, first because he loved her, last because he couldn't afford to.

"I need to discuss something with you," she said softly. "Could you come over tonight? I'll make dinner for you...your favorite pasta...."

"Not tonight, Scully. I have some reports to catch up on. Maybe another time.....okay?"

"Oh...yeah....okay," she said trying to keep the disappointment out of her voice.

"See you in the office Monday...."

"Right....bye...." She hung up the phone and looked around. Other women had babies without husbands. She was a doctor. She could always earn a living somehow. She wouldn't even have to move. She'd just put a crib in her bedroom and.....everyday she would go to work and leave her baby in an infant care center and.....Other women did it. She could do it too. Tears ran down her cheeks slowly.

Mulder was restless, too much so to work on those reports he had told Scully he had to complete. There hadn't been an interesting case in two weeks, and anyway, he was miserable. He missed Dana so much. Not Scully...she was there at work everyday, but Dana, his beautiful Little Bit, snuggling up against him at night, smiling at him in the morning as he grumbled his way to wakefulness, rubbing his back with small strong hands...Their time together had been wonderful...perfect in fact...more than he ever could have imagined a relationship with a woman could be, but it had been a mistake....a bad one. He had to find his sister. He had messed up his priorities, and he held no illusions. He had hurt Dana badly, and he didn't like himself very much. If he hadn't loved her so much..... Finally, he couldn't stand it any longer. He pulled himself together and went out. He needed to be away from his apartment, away from thoughts of Dana......

He had known Sarah in Oxford, another American getting a degree in history. When she saw him sitting at the table in the bar, she gave him a big smile and joined him.

"Why, Fox Mulder, what are you doing here?" she asked thinking to herself what a handsome man he had turned out to be now that he had matured. She had always thought he was cute, but Phoebe Greene had had all his attention bitch though she was.

"Sarah isn't it?" he asked. She was quite lovely really with long blond hair, tall and thin, but busty.

"Yes..Sarah Goodman...."

Dana couldn't stand it any longer. She simply had to see him and tell him, had to know the best...or the worst...Would he want to be part of her life, the baby's life? She slipped her coat on and got her car and headed for his apartment. She saw him first, and then the beautiful blond on his arm. They were laughing and talking in animated fashion as though they had known each other for awhile. The blond was lovely, a picture perfect woman stunningly dressed in an expensive coat and high heels, a class act...tall and thin the way Fox liked them....and that hair....that golden blond hair that hung to her waist....Unable to stop herself, Dana followed them secretly. She was filled with pain and jealousy. The woman explained so much, his distance....She found herself standing by the door of his apartment, transfixed, unable to move. First she heard laughter and then she heard nothing, and then the sounds of making love....She tried to make herself move but couldn't...not until she heard him...heard him fill that other woman with himself...and then she turned and ran very nearly being hit by a car as she dashed across the street.

Fox took Sarah home and returned to his apartment. Oh, yeah...she was fun, intelligent, witty, but as off the wall in her ideas as Scully's sister Melissa had been. She was a wild and kinky lover....but shallow...and definitely the sort that you took extra precautions with. Sheesh...it hadn't been worth it. Now he spent the night tossing and turning and thinking about Dana. He had known from very nearly the moment he had begun to make love to her that she had never really had a satisfactory sexual experience. In fact, he suspected that Jack Willis had been her first and only lover. The words jerk and selfish came to mind. Dana had been shy and sweet, giving and expecting little in return, grateful for his attentions, the sort that any man should pay to a woman he was with. He had loved her for so long that being with her had been a dream come true, and she had lived up to his every expectation, a combination of vamp and madonna, and ever so loving. "Oh, God, Dana...." he thought..."Dana...Dana..." He finally fell into a torturous sleep.

Dana walked out of Skinner's office in a huff. It wasn't fair. It simply wasn't right. They had to give her a transfer. They just had to. She couldn't stay with the X- files anymore. She felt so sick and miserable, so alone and so scared, and there was no one to turn to. Soon she would start to show. Soon everyone at FBI headquarters would know that she, Dana Scully, the Ice Queen, had been melted and had gotten caught. Pregnant....she was pregnant....unmarried and expecting a child. Her father never would have forgiven her. Her mother was going to be heartbroken. Her brother's, already upset with her, were really never going to speak to her. She had brought shame to the Scully name.

"My daughter, the whore....my sister, the whore....Dana, the slut...." She stopped for a moment and leaned against the wall trying to pull herself together. Those thoughts were ludicrous. It was her conservative Catholic background talking. What a fool she had been! She was a doctor. She should have known better. She should have known better than to think Skinner would give her a transfer without knowing the reason why. She couldn't bring herself to tell him though, not yet. She would never tell anyone who the father was of course, but it was his baby...Mulder's baby.....and she loved him so much. Her stomach was churning as it had been for days. She hadn't been able to keep anything down, not even water. She had hoped to feel better if Skinner had agreed to the transfer. It would have meant less stress. She had really known better. She thought she had to pull herself out of denial.

Hormones, lots of hormones....studies said the more nauseous you felt, the better. You wouldn't lose the baby. Well, she certainly was nothing if not nauseous. They had to give her a transfer. They had to. She couldn't quit. She couldn't afford to. She needed the medical insurance and the paycheck more than ever. She forced herself to calm down. Now was not the time to fall apart. They would transfer her as soon as she could bring herself to tell them, as soon as she started to show....not much longer....


Mulder had a lead on his sister. They were supposed to get on a plane for New Mexico in two hours....Oh God.....She felt so sick.

She straightened up. Mulder had been like a different person since they had returned. She thought the blond might explain a lot. She could take a hint. He didn't want to love her, didn't want to be tied to her. He did love her of course, but he was who he was. A woman meant chains that bound and he needed to be free. His easy way with the blond, the way they had made love, with Dana feeling every touch, knowing every shudder than ran through his body, knowing before he did when the ecstasy would take him, that was all he needed, a simple uncomplicated release with a bimbo who wouldn't make any demands.

Dana swallowed and finally forced herself to enter their shared office.

"Did you finish that research for me, Scully?" he asked hearing her come in. He didn't look up.

"Oh, no.....I didn't....I'm sorry...." She sat down in front of her terminal and stared at the screen. She didn't tell him that she'd been throwing up all night. The sight of the screen saver made her stomach turn....flying toasters....toast...food. She could smell his coffee and the donut he'd been eating.

"I was depending on you, Scully," he said. "Oh, hell, never mind....I'll do it myself....." He ignored her. He knew he was being distant and cold towards her, and it hurt him so much, but he wasn't good for her. There was no way he could ever be good for her. It was best this way, as difficult as it was for him. He needed to keep his relationships to a minimum. One night stands when he needed them worked best for him, one night stands like the one he had had the night Dana had invited him to dinner. How he had longed to be with her, but the blond had had to do. Yes, Sarah had been easy and fun...no complications....

They worked in silence until it was time for them to leave, then picked up their respective bags to go. Someone, a mysterious someone, had contacted Mulder swearing to have information about his sister's whereabouts. Mulder, as usual, had fallen for it. Dana didn't want to go. She suspected a trap. She sensed danger. He didn't believe her. They had had angry words about it, but he was her partner and her department head. They would go.

"Wait just a minute, Mulder," she said suddenly heading for the ladies room in a sudden rush. He looked at his watch annoyed.

"She sick again?" asked the heavyset woman at the front desk. Mulder detested her. She was the worse gossip in the building.

"She picked a great time to get the flu," he sighed looking at his watch yet again.

"Flu my eyeball.....that woman is....."

One of the secretaries ran out of the bathroom.

"Marge, Marge, call 911. Agent Scully's unconscious on the bathroom floor. She was throwing up. She got dizzy and fell and hit her head....."

"Dana...." Fox cried aloud. He dropped his bag and ran.

She really was out. When she had fallen, she had hit her head and caused a large gash. It was bleeding all over. For the first time he noticed how really pale she was, how dark the circles under her eyes. Also, for the first time he noticed that she still had that silly piece of string he had given her at Christmas looped around the chain of her small cross.

"Scully," he said softly, "Oh, Dana, why now....." His source had been adamant. If he did not arrive on time, no meeting would occur. For a moment he was torn between staying with her and going after his sister, but then the paramedics came and he found himself climbing in the back of the ambulance, or trying to. He couldn't leave her like that, not her, not his beautiful Dana.

"I'm sorry, but you aren't family."

"I'm going with her,"

"It's against the rules."

"F--K your rules." He pulled his gun. "This says I don't have to follow your rules....." He felt the anger grow inside him. It seemed to happen when anyone told him what he couldn't do.

"Put it away, Mulder," ordered Assistant Director Skinner appearing in the lobby. Skinner wasn't an idiot, no matter what Mulder and Scully might like to think. He had known immediately why she was asking him for a transfer. Things had gotten out of hand in Colorado, and now she was pregnant. He had, of course, refused her, at least until she was ready to tell him why she wanted it. She had looked really ill. When someone had called him that an ambulance was on his way, for some reason he had known it was her and had gone downstairs. It was a good thing he had. Mulder had been about to make a fool of himself. "Now, Mulder" He turned to the emt's. "It's alright. I'm Assistant Director Skinner. Let him go with you. My responsibility."

Reluctantly they agreed. Skinner admonished Mulder to call him as soon as there was any word. Fox nodded gratefully.

"Don't let him tell you she's had the flu," stated Marge to the emt as Mulder hopped in the back. "That woman is pregnant, or my name isn't Marjorie Hasselhoff!"

Mulder was so intent on his partner that he hadn't heard Marge. Scully stirred and moaned as they applied a bandage to her head, and opened her eyes briefly as the ambulance started away. With tremendous effort she focused on the emt.

"Pregnant," she whispered, "Pregnant....dehydrated...can't eat...."

She passed out again.

"Oh, God....." Fox leaned back and closed his eyes. "Oh, God, what a jerk he had been." All the signs had been there, the tiredness, the flu like symptoms. All this time she had been pregnant.....that night that she had wanted him to come over and he had refused......and what had he been doing....oh, jeez, he'd been screwing Sarah for everything she was worth trying to forget about the commitment to Dana. That silly piece of string.....he had thrown it out without a thought....while she had kept hers......Pregnant....he had made her pregnant and abandoned her.....Dana, his love, his only true love. What kind of a man was he?

They were doing something to her.....What?....Hooking up and IV. He couldn't think.

"Do you know how far along she is Mr.?"

"What? Yeah, exactly two months.....December 24th...".Oh, God, it was her birthday....it was Dana's birthday and he had been so intent on ignoring his love for her that he had forgotten all about it. What an ass he was! What a mean and selfish bastard....like his father....just like his dad....The only thing he hadn't done yet is hit her.....

"Is she going to die?" he asked.

"That has yet to be ascertained, Sir..."

He held her hand as the stretcher was raced through the ER and into a treatment room.

"You'll have to stop outside, Sir,"

"No, I won't leave her. I won't," he informed them stepping aside. He would be good. He would watch. He would wait, but he wouldn't leave, and if they tried to make him......It was like when she had been in the coma only worse. This really was his fault. He had put something inside her, something that was hurting her, his Dana, the only person who had ever accepted him for what he was, who had truly understood about Samantha.

They drew blood and stitched up her head asking questions of him as they did so. He answered as best as he could. He didn't know the date of her last period. He did know the date that the baby was conceived. He wasn't certain when she had eaten last....No, no known allergies...Yes, her first pregnancy....on and on. Finally she moaned and opened her eyes.

"Dr. Scully, I'm Dr. Sanders. You are severely dehydrated. You may have a mild concussion."

"I'm pregnant," she said softly. "I haven't been able to keep anything down. So much work....always work...."

"Well, we are giving you IV fluids now. This pregnancy....do you plan to continue it?"

"Of course she is," snapped Mulder, "How can you even ask her that?"

"I have to, Mr. Mulder. It's my job, and that is her decision, not yours." For the first time, she realized that he was really there. She had thought she had been dreaming. Dana started to choke and Fox grabbed a basin. There was nothing in her stomach to throw up, so he stroked her head gently, saying nothing. What could he say?

"It is my decision," she told him finally, "but I could never have an abortion. Couldn't kill your baby...love you." Her eyes drifted closed. A tear escaped. Why had she told him that? Why had she made herself so vulnerable again?

The doctor did a pelvic. It made Mulder shudder. He snapped at the doctor not to hurt her. It seemed such a violation of her body. What if it hurt the baby? The physician informed Mulder that if he didn't be quiet and let him do his job, the security guards would invite him to leave. Dana squeezed his hand.

"It's okay. I've had them before. No big deal," she whispered. It felt like a big deal though. The doctor had wonderful hands. He was gentle and didn't hurt her, but her life had suddenly become so miserable. She was so scared. She was glad that Mulder was there with her even as she was angry with him. She still loved him inspite of the pain he had caused her, even though she knew a relationship was impossible now.

"I'll order something to settle you stomach," said the doctor kindly. "I would say that everything is going to be fine, but I want to order a sonogram. Someone will be right outside."

Dana looked weakly at her watch. "You can still try to catch another flight, Mulder," she said softly.

"Yeah, right....I'm going to leave you now? Why the hell didn't you tell me....why?" He felt angry at her as well.

"Because I didn't think you wanted to know," she replied turning away. "You've hardly spoken to me." "I know. I've been a bastard. We'll get married, Dana. You'll have the baby and we really will be a family."

"I....I don't think so.....Mulder....I can't.....I'm so tired. I don't think you love....really want to love me."

Margaret Scully raced into the room flinging the curtain aside in something close to a panic. When she saw them she gripped the foot of the bed nearly overcome with relief. "Oh, God, they said on the radio that everyone was dead.... "Dana, oh God, you're alright.....I thought...The FBI, Mr. Skinner called and said you'd been brought here, but the radio said everyone was dead.....Fox, thank God you are okay too."

"Mom, what are you talking about?" Dana asked quietly. She didn't need this now, and she had never seen her mother like this so near to hysteria. Her mother simply did not babble.

"The flight you were supposed to be on.....a terrorist attack....The plane blew up. They said everyone was killed....."

"Bastards," said Fox angrily...."bastards....Oh, God, what the hell have I done?" He stormed out of the cubicle.

Fox sat with his head in his hands, and Maggie came a slipped an arm around his shoulder.

"Fox, what is it? What's wrong?" she asked. She wasn't exactly thrilled that her daughter was pregnant and not married, but she had known for a long time that Fox and Dana loved one another deeply. He would do the right thing by her daughter and grandchild.

"I hurt your daughter. I've made her sick.....I....."

"It seems to me, Fox, that you didn't hurt my daughter, you loved her." Maggie pulled his hands away from his face. "You know, when I was pregnant with Dana the same thing happened. I got really sick and had to be hospitalized because I dehydrated. Bill was just devastated but everything was okay. Dana will be okay too."

"Yeah, right..." he sighed. "With a bastard like me as the father....things should be just great."

"Fox, if you had been on that plane, you would both be dead." Margaret said wondering why he was being so hard on himself. It didn't make sense. Something was going on here that they hadn't yet told her, that Dana hadn't revealed. He nodded. He couldn't bring himself to tell Mrs. Scully that he had a feeling that that had been the idea all along. There wouldn't be any proof of course. There never was. He couldn't, just couldn't bring himself to believe in coincidence. Besides, he didn't want to scare her. She had been terrified enough when she had walked into the emergency room thinking that she had lost her last daughter.

"Quite a Christmas gift you gave my little girl." Margaret smiled at him.

"Quite a Christmas gift your little girl gave me."

"It will be a lovely baby you know," she said softly. "It will probably look just like you. It isn't the best way to start married life, Fox, but you and Dana love each other. You'll work it out."

"Right," he sighed bitterly, "just like my mom and dad. All those years of misery....I'm sorry, Mrs. Scully. I think I am in shock. I can't seem to think..."

Margaret nodded gently and went back to her daughter leaving Fox to think his private thoughts.

Maybe it was best if he didn't marry her, he thought. Maybe it would be safer. No, that wasn't right. He would convince her that she had to. It was his baby, and he would never love anyone the way he loved Dana. Never. He had told her at Christmas that he wanted to make a baby, that it was his Christmas wish even though he knew it was an impossibility. She had realized that that was what it was, wishful thinking, and they had thought it a safe time....Be careful what you wish for....echoed in his mind...but a baby...a beautiful new life....a little person to hold in his arms and love...his child, Dana's child....He would be a good father. He would. He would love that baby more than anything except its mother......

Chapter 2

Fox wondered how she withstood the gossip. Everyone knew that the Ice Queen had finally been melted. It was starting to show. Dana Scully wasn't wearing those conservative fitted pantsuits anymore and she wasn't running around the woods after Spooky Mulder. She was wearing maternity clothes when she wasn't doing autopsies in surgical scrubs, and not saying a word about who daddy was. He knew he was the number one contender among the good ole boys. He could see it in the snide or questioning way way the guys looked at him and in the way that the women snubbed him. Well, he was used to being snubbed. For himself he didn't care. At least, so far, they had left him alone. Thank God they had not assigned him a new partner. He tried to tell himself that he didn't need anyone to share his office, to share his cases or his life, but he wasn't very successful. A pile of files in one arm, he swung around the corner to hear two male agents snicker. Dana was walking up the hall away from them, barely out of earshot when one said to the other, "How do you think old Spooky gave it to her?"

His reply was not nice. The files fell to the floor as Mulder felt his fist connect with the guy's face. The other agent bloodied Mulder's nose as Scully ran back and got in the middle to break things up.

"What the hell is going on here?" demanded a voice suddenly. Everyone grew quiet as Walter Skinner appeared.

"Mulder took a swing at me..."

"Mulder?" demanded Skinner.

"Yeah....yeah...I did," he replied, "and I'll do it harder if you ever say anything like that about my partner again..."

"In my office, Mulder...." snapped Skinner...."Now..."

"Let me tend to his nose first, Sir," said Scully quietly.

Skinner nodded. He glared at Agent Tyson. "If I find out you were making nasty comments about any of my female agents, Tyson, you'll be out of here so fast you won't know what hit you. This is not a men's locker room. Got it?"

"Yes, Sir," he replied sulkily.

"Just what the hell did you think you were doing, Mulder?" she demanded angrily looking at his nose. "I can take care of myself..."

"He's a sleaze...."

"I know that. I heard exactly what he said. It's none of your business...."

"Yes it is...."

"No, Mulder...no it isn't. Your nose isn't broken. Now stay the hell out of my life, okay." She turned away and slammed out the door. **--

Sometimes Fox left work and just sat for hours staring at Dana's picture and the photo of that first sonogram that they had done the day she had been so ill, wondering how it all could have gone so wrong. He hadn't seen her since the incident where he had punched Agent Tyson. He'd gotten a reprimand for that little incident, another one. Skinner had been surprisingly sympathetic, but there hadn't been much he could do to keep it off the record. His name was mud at the FBI. So what else was new? Who cared anyway?

Scully worked a lot at Quantico now, staying in the barracks, coming home only on weekends, he had been told. She didn't call. She didn't write. His life had fallen apart. Even his search for Sam had become meaningless, and all because he had been a coward. He had been afraid of his love for Dana. He had been afraid of commitment, afraid of losing her if he became any more involved, and now she was gone anyway. Even Dana's mother, who he loved and who he had expected to be an ally, had backed away and advised her daughter not to rush into marriage. He didn't understand the sudden change. She had developed a coolness towards him that hadn't been there before. He didn't know that Dana had seen him with the woman. He slammed his fist into the table. The worst of it was he was no closer to finding his sister. No sister. No partner. No wife. No family. No one.

His fault. All his fault because of his stupid obsession and his ridiculous fears. Sometimes he just sat thinking, remembering what last Christmas had been like, dreaming about what he could have had, how wonderful it would be to go to bed at night with Dana, to hold her and rub her growing belly feeling his baby move inside her. They could wake up and have breakfast, laugh and joke and argue like normal people, but he had never been normal and he had ruined it for them all.

Fox decided that he had to see her. He just had to, regardless of her wishes. He slipped on his leather jacket and left his apartment. It was Saturday. She should be home. She had to be. He needed to talk to her.

Walking to her apartment he passed a baby store and stopped and looked. The window was filled with cute little baby things, lovely small garments in pastels or bright crayola colors. He felt a physical ache. He thought about what it would be like to hold something that little, something that tiny that he had helped create. He went in and browsed but had no idea what to buy. Finally he chose a little bank in the shape of a flying saucer and had it wrapped. He wanted his baby to have that bank. It seemed appropriate somehow. He had been reading books on baby and child care, but he still felt intimidated in the face of all the tiny garments. The bank was better.

"Hello, Mulder," she said answering the door. She did not appear pleased to see him, and she didn't invite him in but he stepped in anyway and let his eyes rake over her. She looked incredibly beautiful. Her face had filled out and glowed. She hadn't gained a lot of weight, but had grown soft and round. His heart melted. He wanted to hug her.

"I.....you look beautiful, Dana," he whispered somewhat awestruck. "I had to see you. I just had to."

She sighed. "Want a cup of coffee?" She really didn't want him here. It was too hard. She lay awake nights missing him, missing his touch, his love, wondering what it would feel like to have him rub her growing womb, and talk to him about the wonderful thing happening inside her, at least the things that would have been wonderful under different circumstances. She worked all day, miserable without the easy banter between them, the joking, the arguing. Looking at him now broke her heart. He was still as handsome as she remembered him, and it was difficult not to melt when those hazel eyes bored into hers. They had been through so much together. Where had it all gone sour? Was she wrong to be so cautious?


"It's decaf....all I have...."

"No problem...." They sat silently at her kitchen table, each remembering better times, times when they had worked on cases, bickered, teased and sometimes even laughed. Fox finally slipped the present across the table. He noticed the string he had given her was still tied around her chain.

"For the baby....I thought it was cute..." he said lamely.

She opened it and wasn't certain whether to laugh or throw it across the room and break it. Tears came to her eyes. She held them back.

"Look, Mulder," she said softly, "it isn't going to work. It simply isn't. I think you should go."

"You aren't being fair, Dana. It's my baby. I want it. You keep returning my checks, and I don't even know for sure if it's a boy or a girl. All I have is that one photo...."

"It's a little girl," said Dana softly. This was so painful. "And I don't want your money."

"Well, maybe you aren't being fair to the kid, you know." He couldn't keep the sarcasm from his voice. She was making him angry with her rejection. It hurt.

"So put it in a trust fund," she snapped recognizing his tone.

"I will." He got to his feet.

"Look, Mulder," she said following him to the door. "It's not like....look....I understand...okay. I mean you aren't a sleazy guy who got me pregnant to have your fun and then left. You have other commitments....important ones, and I understand....You meant what you said when you said it."

"Yeah, well I don't. I don't understand why you won't marry me if you love me. Maybe you really don't."

"You better go," she sighed, but she took his hand briefly and pressed it against her. He could feel the baby kicking inside of her, his baby. He closed his eyes feeling the soft warmth of her skin, the new life inside her.

"Dana..." he whispered....

She pushed him away. His touch was too uncomfortable a reminder of what had been and what wasn't any longer. "You better go..." She felt her resolve weakening.

"You're being a real bitch, Scully." He shouted angrily fighting tears of his own. "It's my kid. I want it."

"Well, you can't have her," she yelled. "She's mine. You wouldn't be a fit parent." She knew she was being unfair, but the anger ate at her.

"We'll see about that, Scully," he yelled slamming the door behind him as he left. Monday morning he would call a lawyer. He would demand visitation rights.

That was just what he did. He visited an attorney that specialized in child custody cases, a very expensive attorney. That was okay. His father had left him a wealthy man. He didn't like the lawyer very much.

For his part, Mr. Greenblatt was somewhat taken aback by Mulder. The child hadn't even been born yet, and he was already insisting on paying support so that the woman would have a cushion to fall back on if anything happened. He really wanted the baby. This was a switch from the majority of men he dealt with who were trying to get out of paying support for kids they absolutely knew to be theirs. The change was refreshing.

Fox wrote him a retainer and shook his hand, but he didn't feel very good about himself when he left Greenblatt's office. If only she would listen to reason. Okay, so he had been a jerk, but he was through with that now. Why couldn't Dana just understand?

Dana was furious when she received the letter from Greenblatt and Associates with a list of demands. Now she would have to spend funds she could ill afford to get an attorney of her own. Her friend Susan didn't understand, told her she was crazy not to accept support from the father of her child unless he was some kind of a pervert or something. Her mom didn't understand either. If it was Fox's baby, he should support her and he should have the right to visit her. The fact that he had seen another woman shouldn't preclude him from being part of his child's life.

As Dana's due date approached, her mother told her that she had been invited to visit some friends out of town but was reluctant togo. Dana insisted that she do so. It was her first. She would be late. Her mom would be back in plenty of time. In the end, Margaret went. Dana was relieved. In truth, she hadn't appreciated her mother's words that her jealousy of the woman she had seen Fox with was poisoning her soul. Dana had denied it of course. It was Fox who had backed away from her. She and her mom had argued about it, and patched up the argument, but Dana still found herself not wanting her mother around. It was Missy that she longed for, but Melissa was dead. She was, she thought, better off alone.

She set up a little bassinet in her bedroom, one that she had picked up second hand, and carefully folded and organized all the little baby things she had bought at thrift stores and garage sales. She had to be careful of her money, but at least she would be able to take a three month maternity leave, which would, she hoped, give her time to find a suitable daycare arrangement. For a few moments, the little garments and the baby's movements inside her distracted her from her anger at a threatening letter from Fox's attorney. They would, if she and her lawyer did settle the visitation issue, seek custody. Well, she wouldn't let him have her. She just wouldn't. Who knew who he might bring to his apartment around her baby? Tears came, and she pushed them aside her mind drifting to last Christmas and the love they had shared....before the blond...before the rejection...before the lawyers. How wonderful it would be to have him with her now helping her to put together a real crib, something she didn't have the energy for just then, fussing over the little baby clothes...laughing and talking and hugging and kissing...taking Lamaze classes together like a normal couple, something the attorney had tried to force on her, but that she wouldn't hear of. She pushed those thoughts away. It wasn't going to be....ever....

Dana was startled when the first pain assailed her. It was too soon. "Braxton-Hicks," she thought, "False labor." Then she noticed that they were coming quite frequently and began to time them. They were regular. This was the real thing. It was too soon, nearly two weeks early. Quickly she packed a small bag with everything she thought she might need for the short hospital stay and telephoned the doctor and a cab. While she waited, she grew frightened. Who would look after her baby if something happened to her? She pushed those thoughts away. Nothing would happen to her. It would be a fast labor and an easy delivery. She would have a beautiful baby. Everything would be alright. Her baby would be perfect even if she was early.

Dana lay alone in the hospital room. The pain assailed her. Her mom was out of town. She couldn't, no wouldn't call anyone, not even her very best friend Susan. She would tough this out alone. She'd show them all she didn't need them, any of them. She had always been the strong one in the family, proud and fiercely independent. She gritted her teeth. She didn't need anyone now. She didn't, especially not him with his lawyers and their threats. The pain passed and she closed her eyes briefly opening them only when someone entered the room.

"What are you doing here, Mulder?" she asked torn between her anger at him and happiness at seeing him. "How did you know I'd gone into labor?"

"I just had a feeling," he shrugged. In face, he had gone to her apartment and the next-door neighbor had told him. He roamed around in search of a container to put the flowers he had brought in. "Where is your mom?" he asked uncomfortably.

"Out of town visiting her sister," she replied. "First babies usually aren't early."

"Yeah," he sat next to her. So far, so good. She hadn't sent him packing.

She turned away and clenched her teeth letting out a soft moan as the pain shot across her back and around her abdomen. She thought she'd do anything if only it didn't hurt her back quite so much. Fox studied the monitor.

"It feels like my back is going to split in two," she said softly. "It hurts, Mulder. It really hurts." Then she grew angry at herself for admitting vulnerability in front of him.

"I know, Dana." He took her hand. "You have every right to be angry with me, but let me be with you tonight. Please."

"Your lawyer said you might demand custody, Fox. Please please don't take my baby from me. Please...."

"Lawyers say a lot of things. I'm sorry I called one. I just...I was angry." He sat helplessly as the pain took her again. "I was afraid you wouldn't let me see the baby."

The nurses showed him how to rub her back, but she wouldn't let him touch her. That hurt. Finally they moved her to the delivery room. He was glad he wasn't a woman.

"Come on, Dana. We know you are exhausted, but you have to push. You can do it," said Dr. Sanders.

"I can't. I can't."

"Yes you can, Scully," said Fox.

"What the hell would you know about it?" she snapped, but at the same time the urge came on her and she pushed. With one final effort her baby emerged, face up screaming at the indignity of having been pushed into the cold cruel world.

They lay the tiny girl on her chest as tears streamed down her face. Fox cut the cord and the nurse put the baby to her breast briefly.

"She's beautiful, Dana," he whispered. "Next to you, she's the most beautiful thing in the world." He smoothed the hair off her face. "I love you, Angel. I've always loved you."

"I've loved you too, but sometimes....sometimes it's just not enough." She turned her face away. Her joy was tempered with sadness for what could have been. She couldn't quite look at him. It really wasn't all his fault.

Fox came to pick her up and take her home, but she told him she had called a cab. She was crying and crying and didn't seem to be able to stop.

"Dana, don't be ridiculous. I'm taking you home."

"No, no you aren't. You put your name on the birth certificate without telling me. Your lawyer called and said he would get a court order if I protested. I can hardly stand up. Get out. Get out now. I won't let you have her. I won't. Go....Just go. I hate you....go..."

If he had been a little less timid, if he had put his arms around her then and held her, it might have been alright, but he didn't truly understand what was happening, that her hormones were raging and she couldn't stop crying, and that she needed tenderness and understanding during her display of temper, but he didn't. He felt angry that the attorney had threatened her that way. He hadn't known. Still, he was hurting so badly himself that he slammed out of the room admonishing her that they would just see who would have custody of the child. He had thought they were on their way to working out their problems and now she was throwing him out....

It was Christmas Eve and Dana felt miserable, sad, frightened and alone. Her whole family was out of town, not that it mattered. Her mom was the only one speaking to her anyway. She didn't even have a Christmas tree. It was Samantha's first Christmas, and no one was celebrating. She had gifts but no tree. Well, the baby was too young to understand anyway. She shivered. The heat had chosen the coldest night of the winter to go out. The little Pomeranian that her mom had taken from her, but had left in her care when she had gone away, slept peacefully in her lap. Dana patted him idly.

"I'm worried, Fix," she said softly. "It's too cold for the baby." A tear ran down her cheek. She would never tell anyone why she called the dog Fix and what it was short for. It just seemed appropriate in light of what happened with Clyde Bruckman. Dana longed for those days again, days of working weird cases with her crazy partner....oh, well...that part of her life was over. It was ...absolutely over.

Fox sat in his apartment miserably. He had set up the small tree and put some attractively wrapped gifts under it thinking to invite Dana and the baby, but then his courage had failed. Technically he had the right to have his infant daughter on Christmas day. The courts had worked that out. He even had a little bassinet in the corner for her, but Dana was breast feeding her, and somehow it hadn't seemed right. He would go to Dana's and get her, take her for a walk, play with her for awhile while Dana went grocery shopping, but he hadn't yet had the heart to take her from her mother. No matter what she might think, he wasn't a bastard, confused sometimes, selfish other, but not a bastard like that.

She was already angry enough that he had put his name on the baby's birth certificate. She had loved him enough to name his daughter Samantha, but not enough to want her to have his last name. God, but she was a stubborn woman and he didn't understand it. He remembered Christmas eve the year before in that remote cabin in Colorado. Where had things gone so wrong? Why had he backed away from Dana the way he had? What was wrong with him anyway? What was wrong with her, with them? How could two people who loved each other so deeply be at such cross purposes?

There was a knock at the door. He thought to himself that it had better not be Frohike. Slowly he got up and opened it. He was in no mood for company.

Dana stood there her face flushed from the cold, ice in her hair, a diaper bag slung over her shoulder, the Pomeranian she had given her mom had his head stuck out of the snugli and the baby was clutched in her arms wrapped in a soft pink blanket. She was shivering.

"Merry Christmas, Fox," she said through chattering teeth, holding out the infant to him. He took his baby girl in his arms and held her up, a smile lighting his whole face. She looked down at her daddy and gave him a big toothless grin. When Fox looked back at Dana, she was unwrapping the dog. A tear ran down her cheek.

"Could you watch him too?" she asked with a faltering voice. "There's been a power outage and there's no heat....It...it was so cold.....I got worried about the baby....She's so little and....."

Tucking the baby in one arm, he wrapped the other around her and pulled her into the apartment. He closed the door with his foot.

"Oh, Dana, I'm so glad to see you. Of course they can stay, you can stay....." She burst into tears and buried her face against his shirt crying uncontrollably with the dog still in her arms. **

Dana accepted the hot milk gratefully. The weather was bitter. A glance out her window told her that icy rain had turned to snow. Fox had plugged in the Christmas tree and was sitting with his daughter in his arms. Fix had dutifully lifted his leg on Fox's couch leg to show exactly what he thought of the situation. It had given Dana a little pang the way Sam had taken one look at her daddy and given him a big toothless grin. Now his daughter looked at him, gurgling at him happily. She was an incredibly beautiful infant, looking just like Fox with lots of dark auburn hair and Dana's blue eyes. Dana realized she was being unfair. Fox was Samantha's father after all. He had a right to love her and be loved too. If only he hadn't broken his promise about the lawyer. She would even have let him put her name on the birth certificate, if only she hadn't been threatened by the lawyer while her stitches had been hurting and she had been wondering how she would cope.

"It's a pretty sorry excuse for a Christmas tree," he said turning his attention to her.

"It's not as beautiful as the one we had last year," she heard herself say gazing at him. She wiped her eyes. The tears just didn't seem to want to stop.

"Nothing will ever be as beautiful as what we had last year except maybe her," he replied glancing at his daughter. "I got some gifts for her..."

Dana managed a smile.

"That's better. That's my pretty lady," he said gently touching her under the chin.

Strange how the ever impractical Mulder had chosen so well, two nice little outfits one size bigger than Samantha needed, and a silly stuffed fox that played "It's a Small World." Dana smiled for real this time.

"Samantha got you a gift too," said Dana pulling a package out of the bag. It was an ET tie. Fox laughed for the first time in ages.

"I love it!"

"You would," she grinned in spite of herself. "Fox, I, well, I kind of got you a gift too. I know I've been....harsh..I..anyway, here."

She handed him a small box. She had seen it and picked it up impulsively, then had put it away intending to return it, but then it had been Christmas and....

He opened the box, and this time his eyes misted over. Inside was a beautiful gold pinky ring that said DAD.

"Oh, Dana, it's beautiful. Why would you get this for me, the way you feel I mean?" "I...I don't know why I.....thank you for her, Mulder," Dana said softly..

"Open your gift, Angel." He touched her cheek and handed her a small box. "I don't know why I bought it exactly. I mean, you've made it clear that....." he sighed not knowing exactly what to say. "It will be waiting for you if ever you want it."

It was a small diamond engagement ring with a beautiful pair of matched wedding bands. Dana looked at him.

"I don't know how to convince you that I love you, Dana," he whispered quietly, "and that I want to be with you. You've been so angry with me, and I haven't known how to make it right. I was scared and I backed away from...us...and I was wrong, but you wouldn't listen..."

"If you wanted to be with me, Fox, why did you go with that woman? I....I saw you....I came to your house to tell you I was pregnant....She was blond and beautiful and perfect. I saw you and I heard you making love to her...."

"Oh, God.....oh, God....is that what all this misery has been about?" He pulled her into his arms. "I'm so sorry baby. I'm so very sorry. Why didn't you tell me? Why?"

"Why did you do it, Fox? If you wanted a woman, why didn't you come to me? I told myself that we weren't married and you didn't owe me fidelity, but I thought...."

"I...I was afraid. Afraid I would love you so much and lose you......Oh, Dana, I do love you so much...." They held each other for a long time.

"Will you put the ring on my finger, Fox?" she asked softly. "It's beautiful, just the kind of engagement ring I've always wanted."

"Of course I will, baby..." he said taking her hand. "Merry Christmas, Dana...." He kissed her ever so gently. He held her close, the child resting against his shoulder. "You have to promise me, Dana, that you'll talk to me, tell me how you feel, and I'll promise you the same thing...starting now. That will be our real gift to each other. Maybe that's what neither of us has been very good at doing."

I promise," she said softly knowing that he was right, that her mother had been right. If only she had talked to him.....

Christmas morning found them in bed, the dog and the tiny child between them. Little Samantha stirred and let out a whimper. Fix lifted his head and gave her a disapproving glance before trying to go back to sleep. For Samantha's part, this was nice, sleeping between mommy and daddy, but wet was wet and hungry was hungry after all. She was soaking, and her little tummy was very empty. It was time to get the grownups in her life moving. The tiny cry got louder, and they both awoke with a start. Dana reached for her daughter and turning on her side, bared her breast so that the infant could nurse, ignoring dirty looks from the dog, and smiling at Fox as he stroked his little girl's soft hair. They were finally a family after all, all four of them.

The End

I hope you liked my love story in spite of the angst. I wish all misunderstandings could end so well in real life!

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