Title: Nine Hours

Author: RogueAngel

 

Hi, this my first posting of fan fiction. I hope you like it. Many thanks go to viXen for inspiring me to actually finish a story, (what a concept,) and for answering my e-mails. It's much appreciated. :-) This is also for my kids, who got very tired of mommy being on the computer. Look guys, I'm finally finished-with this one. And of course to my husband, who is still in shock that I can write stuff like this.

Any feedback is appreciated, I'm a newbie at this, so my feelings and ego are pretty tender, but I think I can handle anything that you care to send me. It'll build character!

Category: SR with some thoughtful angst

Rating: PG, I guess. The concept might be a little more adult. But nothing bad happens.

Spoilers: Momento Mori

Keywords: Mulder, Scully, baby, family

Go ahead and post it wherever, just as long as my name and e-mail are attached.

Summary: Mulder and Scully meet a young girl at a park and it appears that she has something of theirs that they want.

Disclaimer: Ok, lets see if I get this right, I gave up reading these things months ago, but I still appreciate the ones with a little humor thrown in. Here goes: Fox Mulder, Dana Scully, Mrs. Scully, and Skinner do not belong to me, I'm not that creative. They belong to Chris Carter, 1013 productions and FOX Broadcasting. No infringement was meant, I was just having a little fun, and no money was made, much to the dismay of my family, because if this made any money at least then we could pay someone to do the housework that I have neglected, but, alas, that is not the case. Such is life. Any similarity to other fan fiction was not intended, but if I accidentally stepped on anyone's toes, I'm sorry, I've just had so much fun reading all the different stories! Let me know and I'll be sure to gravel-or is that grovel? at your feet for having the guts to post long before I got around to it.

Enjoy!

**

Nine Hours

by RogueAngel

Central Park

10:30am

"Agents Dana Scully and Fox Mulder?" a voice asked from beside the bench that Mulder and Scully were sitting on, discussing their latest case.

"Yes," Dana answered looking over the young woman, no, girl -she corrected herself. She couldn't be more than seventeen, but from the looks of it she was almost nine months pregnant.

A look of relief crossed the young girl's face. "I need your help."

Mulder looked over at Scully, an inquisitive look on his face, she just shrugged at him. "You're not about to go into labor, are you?" Mulder asked. He thought she looked about ready to explode -that or she was carrying twins. It amazed him that she could even walk with that much extra weight on her petite frame. Probably what Scully would look like pregnant, he thought absently. Where had that come from?

The young girl motioned to the bench. "Can I sit down? My feet are killing me." Mulder immediately made room for her between him and Scully. As she slowly lowered herself to sit on the bench the girl gave a relieved sigh. Mulder hid his grin. Now the question was, would she be able to get back up?

"It took me longer than I thought to find you. You weren't at your hotel, and I didn't want to wait for you there. <They> might have figured out that I would come to you." Scully looked over the girl's head at Mulder as she rambled on about wandering the park, not knowing what to do next. Both agents had picked up on the way she had stressed the word "they." Who where <They,> and why would they think that she would come to them. Mulder gave his partner a nod to start asking the questions that they both wanted answered.

"So," Scully began, looking the girl over. She was young, and very pregnant. She looked exhausted, deep circles were under her eyes. Being this far along could do that to a person. But it was also obvious that she was very agitated. Her eyes were darting all around, looking for something, or someone. Her hands were practically wringing to death the manila envelope she held. "You were looking for us?" The girl nodded. "How did you know where to find us?"

"I didn't know," she replied, waving her hand in the air. "<They> knew and I managed to find out. I knew you were my only hope." Scully raised an eyebrow at Mulder, he had no idea what was going on either. "I may have been stupid enough to get in over my head in this, mess. But I don't want any part of it any more. I don't want them to hurt the baby, or use it in any of their experiments or studies."

Now the agents were really interested. What had this girl stumbled into. Her voice broke as she continued. "I just want to go home. I just want to be safe at home with my mother." The dam broke and her tears began to fall. "I just want my mom!" she sobbed.

Scully took the young girl into her arms and held her as she cried. Mulder looked very uncomfortable with what was going on, she almost wanted to laugh at his expression. Confront him with a weeping female and he couldn't get away fast enough.

"Its OK," Scully soothed, as the sobs began to turn into small whimpers. "It's OK, we'll help you. I know you want your mom, its understandable. No one wants to go through childbirth alone. I know you want to keep your baby safe from whatever, or whoever you think is a threat." She was startled by the laughter that erupted from the girl.

"That's just it," she said, almost hysterically. "Its not even my baby."

The agents looked over the girl's head. Both were thinking the same thing; she had lost it. She was young, and afraid and she had simply lost her grip on reality.

"Whose baby is it then?" Mulder couldn't help asking.

The girl looked up at him, her blue eyes shimmering with tears, a strange look on her face. "Its yours," she replied.

That was not the answer he had expected. Aliens, maybe. The second coming, possibly. But never would he have expected her to tell him that she was carrying <his> child. He had never seen her before in his life. His shocked eyes looked up into the equally shocked eyes of his partner's. Her face was pale, she was obviously as shocked as he was by the girl's words, but behind the shock there was a question in her eyes; was it the truth? Mulder silently shook his head.

"Can we go someplace else." the girl asked, breaking into their silent conversation "I really have to use the bathroom."

"Sure," Scully responded, offering the girl a hand as she got off the bench. "Our hotel is just around the corner. Can you make it?" The girl nodded, and the three of them started walking silently toward the hotel.

**

Scully's hotel room

10:55 am

No one spoke during the short walk to the hotel. Once inside their suite the pregnant girl excused herself to the bathroom. Scully shrugged off her coat and placed it on the back of a chair.

"Ok, Mulder. What's going on here?" she asked accusingly.

"I have no idea, Scully," he responded. "I have never seen that girl in my entire life." Scully just raised an eyebrow in challenge. "Don't give me that look," Mulder shot at his partner, as he loosened his tie. "I'm not in the habit of picking up young girls. Jesus, Scully, she can't be more than 17!"

"I'm sorry Mulder. It just wasn't what I expected her to say," she apologized. It wasn't what she expected to hear, and she sure hadn't been ready for the surge of jealousy that coursed through her body at the thought of that girl carrying Mulder's child.

"Tell me about it. So what's going on."

"Well," Scully pondered, absently chewing on her lower lip. "She's young, and frightened. She might have gotten pregnant and runaway from home, or ran away and then got pregnant. She must not have anybody to turn to. Naming you as the father could her way of, oh, I don't know." Waving her hand absently, she fell into a chair, shrugging at her partner. "Better an older man, than a young kid?"

"Yeah, but that doesn't explain how she found us," Mulder responded. "And why us? I've never seen her before. And who is she so afraid of?"

Scully just shrugged. They would have a lot of questions to ask her.

Mulder was going over the conversation in his mind when he caught on something she had said. "She said the baby wasn't hers." Scully looked up, hearing the excitement in his voice. "Naming me as the father only establishes paternity. Even if I was the father, and let me say that is a <big> 'if,' she would still be the mother. So the baby would be hers."

"Of course," Scully answered, not sure what was going on in her partners mind.

He began to pace. "But she said the baby wasn't hers," Mulder continued, his stomach was beginning to twist, not liking where his mind was going with this thought. "What if she is some sort of surrogate..."

"Mulder," Scully warned, her voice suggesting that he had gone too far. "Its obvious that she is frightened. She said herself that she got in over her head. She's in some sort of denial, She's too young to be a surrogate mother, no doctor would let her make that kind of decision, not to mention her parents.."

"He's right." a soft voice stated from the doorway.

"What?" both agents asked as they turned to look at the young girl.

"I said that he is right," nodding her head at Mulder. "I am a surrogate. I was implanted through in-vitro fertilization. After the baby was born they were going to pay me $10,000 and a plane ticket any where I wanted to go."

Mulder just stared at her for a moment. "Maybe you should start at the beginning," he gently suggested.

She nodded and sat down in one of the chairs in the room. Scully sat across from her in another chair, and Mulder stood near the window. The girl looked a lot calmer than she did before. She still looked tired and her eyes were puffy from crying, but she appeared to be back in control.

"I'm..I'm sorry about earlier," she smiled shyly, "This hasn't been a real good year." The agents nodded in sympathy, waiting for her to continue. She took a deep breath and plunged ahead.

"About a year ago I meet this guy. We hit it off and after graduation I decided to go with him to New York. He was a couple years older than me, by the way I'm almost 19," she added. She had obviously heard their speculation as to her age. "Anything was better than staying at home. My mom had remarried and I, well I..., I didn't really like my stepdad." Her face was pale and Mulder wondered why exactly she didn't like him. "Once I got here I realized what a big mistake I had made. Ken, the guy I met, wasn't what I thought he was." Her face reddened in embarrassment and shame. "I didn't feel like I could go home. I made some, I guess you could call them friends. Things went okay for about a month, but then my money started running out." Her eyes were filling up with tears. They could tell that this was hard on her, but they needed to hear what she had to say.

"I started working the streets with one of the girls I had met. She said it was an easy way to make money. Alls you had to do was detach your mind from your body, let them do their business and then collect the money. I thought I could do it," she said in a small voice, "but it wasn't as easy as she said. I didn't want to go home, but I didn't want to stay on the streets either. I saw what it was doing to the other girls and I didn't want that to happen to me, right?" she looked up for encouragement, Scully nodded.

"Anyways, I had been on the street for about, 2 weeks and this guy comes up to me. Tells me that he can tell that I'm not the type of girl who should be doing what I was doing. He was real nice. He asked me if I wanted to make some money, $10,000. After what I had been doing I figured I could do anything for that much money, so I said yes.

"You gotta understand, I was desperate. They offered me a nice room, good food, there was entertainment-tv's, books and stuff, and some other girls, though most of them didn't speak very good English. The doctors and nurses were nice. Alls they wanted was nine months out of my life. I thought I was doing something good, you know?" The agents could hear her desperate plea for understanding in her softly spoken words. "They told me that they were trying to perfect a method of in vitro fertilization that would help infertile couples. And that the babies being born were being adopted. They told me there was already a couple waiting for my baby to be born. It all happened so fast and it sounded so good. I thought I could detach myself from this too. Get the money and split. But then He started coming around."

Mulder and Scully were silent as she collected her thoughts. Their curiosity was definitely peaked. What was going on? Was her story for real?

"He started coming around when I was four months along. He never spoke to me, just looked. Once or twice I'd overhear him ask how 'the Pawn' was doing. I thought he meant me, but he really meant the baby I was carrying. God," she visibly shuddered, "the smell of his cigarettes used to make me gag." Scully's eyes met Mulder's in an intense stare.

"Cigarettes?" Scully asked.

"What?" the girl asked, lost in thought. "Oh, yeah. He was always smoking. Morley's I think. They used to make me nauseous." Scully just stared at her partner in horror. This detail giving the girl's story a lot more credibility. What was he up to now?

"I started noticing that I was the only one who wasn't sick. All the other girls were sick, or miscarrying. I didn't spend much time with them. In the beginning there were about 20 of us. Most of them didn't speak English. Then they all started getting sick and when I didn't, they got kind of upset at me, like it was my fault or something. I was put into private quarters. I didn't see anybody but the nurses, doctors, and Him." She shivered. "I found out later that they all died; the other girls and the babies they were carrying. I may have been stupid enough to get involved in this mess, but I'm not an idiot," she glanced up at them, a look of challenge in her watery eyes. "I graduated tenth in my class, you know.

"For some reason I was singled out, and I wanted to find out why. I had a lot of freedom. Sometimes at night I got lonely so I would go out and visit the night nurse for my area. She was nice, old-grey haired grandma type, and she knew absolutely nothing about computers." For the first time there was a hint of a smile in her voice. "They were using PC's with a mainframe supporting the whole system. I showed Helen, the nurse, how to go into DOS and find the game "Gorrillas,' you know the one where two gorillas stand on top of buildings and throw exploding bananas at each other?"

Mulder nodded enthusiastically, "Yeah, that's a great game."

The girl just smiled. "I managed to steal some percocet tablets from my doctors office. They must have thought I was pretty dumb, because they left me alone in there a lot. Especially when He came to ask about my progress. I started slipping her the tablets in her tea. She would doze off and then I'd start searching for files. It took me a month and half, but I found them. I managed to print some stuff out, including my file." She patted the manila envelope on the table. "What I read scared me to death, it was like some kind of sci-fi movie, you known. Alien DNA being mixed with human DNA. I realized that we weren't being implanted with normal babies, but some kind of part human/ part alien...thing."

"How did you know that they were alien hybrids?" Mulder asked, his curiosity getting the better of him.

"I read more than just the case files. They were enough to give me nightmares for weeks. The mothers were human, but the fathers were....not."

"How do you know?" Mulder persisted. She reached into the envelope and flipped through until she came to one page and handed it to him. Mulder read over it and then handed it to Scully. It was basically a case file, listing the surrogate mothers name, maternal name and genetic profile, paternal name and genetic profile, date of fertilization, and then a listing of all the pertinent facts and tests taken during the pregnancy. In this case, including date of death and a cross reference for fetal autopsy report.

Looking at it gave him chills. A woman's name was listed in the

maternal space, but in the space for the father was a name and a

reference file "hybrid 12b."

"This could all be hoax," Scully put in. "You said they left you alone, maybe they meant for you to find these."

"It was a pretty conniving hoax, if you ask me," the girl replied. "All I know is what I read and that the girls got real sick and never came back. The files just back up what I saw."

Mulder could see that Scully wanted to argue the point, after all this time she still did not want to believe what they had seen together. After she had exhausted each and every plausible, and some implausible, scientific arguments, then and only then would she look to the 'fantastic,' as she called it. He believed, the girl believed, and for now that would have to be enough.

"How do we fit in to all this?" Mulder said, before Scully could form an argument.

The girl looked at him, her eyes were haunted by what she had seen, what she had come to believe as true. "It took me awhile to work up the nerve to look at my own file. After all that I had seen, I just didn't want to know what they had done to me. But, I didn't die, I had had no complications, and He was checking on me all the time. It was obvious that I, or more likely, the baby I was carrying was important to him somehow. So last week I finally looked up my file, and all the cross references on it. I printed this out." With that she handed Mulder another sheet of paper.

It was identical to the one she had given him before only this time, his name was listed in the area of paternal DNA and in the maternal line..... He just looked at the girl in shock. Scully was reaching for the paper but he wasn't ready to give it to her yet.

"What....?"

"I found the reference by your name. It talked about something called X-Files and the FBI. There was stuff in it about Alaska, New Mexico, somewhere in Puerto Rico. It told about her abduction and what was done, and something about 'Yellow Base' and you. Towards the end there was some kind of speculation about how to control and manipulate you guys. I still didn't know what it all meant until I read the last line. It said that they now had the right 'Pawn' to use against you when necessary. Until that time they would send it away to one of their training facilities." she paused and shuddered.

"There is one thing I am sure of, and that is that these monsters should not be raising a baby. I knew that I had to get out, to find you. I can't raise this baby, but I couldn't let them have it either. I just want it gone." Scully could hear the pain and anger in the girls voice. She didn't want her child, but why such an elaborate story? She knew so much about them. How did she know it all? Was Cancerman using her and this story to manipulate them.? Sending them on a wild goose chase? It was obvious that Mulder was believing every word.

Scully stood up and walked over to him, keeping her voice low she began to talk. "Look Mulder, its one thing to listen to this, but we have no proof that what she is telling us is true.

"I have proof," the girl interrupted. "I stole your genetic profiles, and the one from the amnio done on the baby. You can look them over. I can't fake them."

Scully simply nodded at her and continued in a low voice.

"Tests are easy to fake, Mulder. You and I both know that."

"Yeah, but Scully, once the baby is born it would be too easy to perform some genetic tests to prove who the parents are." His eyes pleaded with her to understand.

"Mulder, this outrageous. The whole story is. She has obviously been under a lot of stress, how else could she come up with this kind of story." She looked at Mulder, looking for some sign that he might listen to some other theory, any other theory. Truth was she couldn't think of one. The story was too out there for her to even consider that the girl had made it up on her own. Someone was obviously orchestrating this, but she refused to believe that the child the girl was carrying was Mulder's until she had some real proof; blood and genetic tests that she, herself, had performed.

"Look, Mulder. If you want to, believe this baby is yours then.."

"Ours," he interrupted.

"What?" Scully's voice rose.

Mulder gave his partner a shaky smile as he handed her the paper that the girl had given him. "According to this, the child she is carrying is ours, Scully. Yours and mine."

**

Shuttle to DC

3:46 pm

After a quiet lunch and after the two agents made their final statements to the local authorities about the case that had brought them to New York, they all headed back to DC together. Stephanie wanted to get away, and as long as she was with them she felt safe. Scully wondered what the girl expected of them. Did she expect them to take her baby, relieving her of the duty of raising it? She wasn't ready to accept all that the girl had told them as fact. She wanted concrete evidence. Stephanie had supplied the genetic profiles of the baby and its mother and father, it would be easy to compare and run additional tests to prove their validity. So far they looked authentic, but tests could be faked, and there was no reason to believe the profiles had anything to do with her and Mulder.

Mulder's voice echoed in the back of her head. 'Why should they lie and go to the trouble of making all this up? Once the baby is born it will be easy to determine if the tests are right or not.' Scully didn't have anything to say in response. It would be easy to tell if <They> were lying, but she refused to believe that the girl was carrying her child until she had proof.

For his part, Mulder had remained quiet for the trip down to DC. He had phoned ahead to Frohike to have him send the genetic profile on Scully that they had from the time when she was abducted to the station. Once they arrived it would be easy to compare the old one to the one Stephanie had given them to see if they were similar. It was obvious to Scully that Mulder believed. But she just couldn't, even after Mulder had quietly told her about his trip to the infertility clinic in Allentown. She was still shocked.

Infertility? She had told him that she would believe it when she had proof, until then she would continue on as before. Mulder had simply shook his head and sat back to rest as the shuttle started to DC.

In truth, Scully was afraid to think. In the five hours since Stephanie had walked up to them in Central Park, her world had been turned upside-down. It was all too much to process. She felt that if she dwelt on it all too much that she just might break down.

She had seen a lot while working with Mulder in the X-Files; mutants, conspiracies, and even aliens, though she would have trouble actually admitting that to Mulder. She'd been shot at, imprisoned, and even attacked by someone who wanted to remove her liver; but it had never been this personal. Even the time that she had been missing for three months wasn't directed specifically at her, she felt. She had just had the wrong object at the right time. Occasionally the idea that they were using her to control Mulder and vice versa would cross her mind, but she never really wanted to admit that their feelings for each other ran that deep. She cared for him of course, he was her partner and friend, but that was as far as it went. Right?

It was all too much to process. She and Mulder were partners, nothing more. They couldn't have a child. Scully didn't even want to think about the surge of jealousy she felt when she thought that Stephanie might be carrying his child. She probably mislabeled the emotion in her mind, she tried to convince herself, it was more likely anger that she felt. Anger that <they> would mess with his life like that.

But if the child were theirs...her mind drifted off on its own tangent. What would he or she look like? Would it have Mulder's intelligence and wit? His hazel eyes and strong mouth? Her hair? These were dangerous dreams that her subconscious hid from her waking self, but Stephanie's words had started them bubbling beneath the surface. What if...

Scully snapped herself out of her reverly, accidentally waking Mulder. With a muttered "Sorry," she started working on the report and paperwork for the case they just solved in New York. She had two hours until they arrived in DC, and she had no intention of speculating on what Stephanie had told them. She wanted proof, and until she could begin searching for it, she had other things to keep her mind occupied.

Mulder watched his partner from the corner of his eye. He could tell from her posture that she was in her no nonsense, let's-get-some-work-done mode. He had covertly been watching her since the shuttle had left. He saw her frown into the window, her brow creasing as her mind worked to come up with some explanation to debunk what Stephanie had told them and what he believed. He had seen that expression often enough to know what it meant, but this time he didn't think that she found an explanation.

After awhile her face had softened and he had wondered what she had been thinking. He was stunned at how beautiful she had looked. He had always thought that she was pretty, who wouldn't? But at that moment, with her eyes softly unfocused and a wistful expression on her face, he realized how beautiful she really was. The moment had not lasted long, she soon snapped herself out of whatever dream she was in and started burying herself in work. Typical Scully. Deny everything until the truth is staring you in the face.

There was no doubt in his mind that Stephanie was telling the truth. Logically it made sense to him. The Consortium and Cancerman had been manipulating him and Scully for a long time. They knew exactly what button to push to get him to do what they wanted, They used Scully against him. Put her in danger or threaten her in any way, and he would do anything to protect her. He had realized that fact long ago. The Truth didn't matter as much as Scully's well-being. He suspected they manipulated her the same way. He had been shocked to find out that she had traded away an alien fetus, though she still declared it was fake, for his safe return. She had had tangible proof in her hands, but it was gone because of him. He still wasn't sure how he felt about that.

Until now, They had only been able to control one or the other, not both. It must have been frustrating, he thought with a smirk. Get one doing what you want and the other one goes off and messes everything up. They really did make a good team. But a child would be a way to control them both. He felt cold chills go down his spine as he thought of the gall of men who would create an innocent child, simply as a means to control its parents. It was immoral, unethical and completely within the Cancerman's MO. The bastard would do just about anything -hadn't he proved that time and again?

Why send Stephanie to us if he wanted the baby, Scully had argued. Mulder had thought that it was a win-win situation, but he hadn't told her that, she didn't want to believe and anything he said would just spark an argument. He would have to wait until she had her tangible proof, then they could worry together about His agenda. He didn't think that Cancerman allowed Stephanie to leave. But Mulder didn't think He was totally upset by the young girl's actions. Like he had wanted to tell Scully, it was all a win-win situation for the Consortium.

If Stephanie hadn't of run away, she would of had their baby and then <They> would have had to raise it, the thought turning Mulder cold. He and Scully would never know about the child until They wanted them to know. A trump card to pull when he and Scully got too close. They could give them enough information, tests, a blood sample, a picture-whatever, and he and Scully would do anything to keep the child safe. He didn't doubt that, and he was sure that neither did <They.> And Mulder knew that he would move Heaven and Hell to get their child, a great way to sidetrack him, but he couldn't, wouldn't, let them have their child if he could help it. His actions would be playing right into Their hands, he knew, but there would be nothing else that he could do.

He wondered if Stephanie's escape wouldn't have a more desirous, far reaching affect. Scully's need to disbelieve and his own belief that what Stephanie had told them was true was already driving a wedge between them. Scully probably felt more violated than him, especially after he told her about the clinic and what he had learned there. Not one of his wiser moves, he thought. He was desperate to offer proof that the child could be theirs that he had dropped that bombshell on her rather unfeelingly. She had enough to deal with, without having him adding more heartache. That's why he had backed of on the shuttle, to give her time. To wait until her science proved what he knew to be true.

Raising the baby themselves would also play into the Consortiums hands. The X-Files would no longer be the focus of their lives. Risks would have to be calculated carefully. Time usually spent following leads and running off to find answers would have to be shared with a child. And there was always the possibility that Scully would leave the X-Files completely, maybe even him. His stomach turned at the thought.

She could easily blame him for all this happening. He had always believed that he was the root of all the evil that had happened to her over the years they had been together. Suddenly having 'their' child appear could drive the nail in the coffin of their partnership. Why would Scully want his baby? She had a right to a life, and he and his obsession kept getting in the way. Having him for a father was like walking around with a target strapped to your back. Sooner or later something would happen, it always happened to the ones he loved; Samantha, his father, Scully. In an abstract way he was a threat to his own baby by his very existence in her life. Scully would be justified in taking the baby away from him and the X-Files, in order to protect it. He wouldn't blame her if she tried.

Mulder thought back to when he had read the file Stephanie had handed him; when he had seen his name listed as the father of Scully's baby. He had been shocked, that was for sure, but he had felt something else. He still wasn't sure exactly what to name the feeling, but it had felt good. They would forever be linked together, through this child; a part of her and a part of him. He had always been afraid that someday she would leave him, but now they were forever connected, he would always have a piece of her. There was no doubt in his mind that he wanted the baby, Scully's baby. He had never thought of himself as parent material, but he knew at that moment that he would do his damnedest to take care of and love their child, just like he loved its mother. But, only he was allowed the chance.

Looking over at his partner, diligently typing on her laptop, he realized that that was what he felt when he read their names on the paper: love. It was as if all the love that he had for Scully finally came out of its hiding place. They may not have created the child, but it was still an expression of his love for her. He had known that he loved her for a long time now, but he had barely admitted it to himself, let alone told her. They were partners, they couldn't cross that line. But now he would have a piece of Scully, all the love that he was unable to show her, immediately transferred to their child, intensifying the feeling. It was a gift that he thought he would never receive. But in the back of his mind he realized that the consortium thought of the baby as a pawn, and wouldn't hesitate to hurt it or them. The stakes of the game had just been raised. They would no longer risking their own lives, but the baby's as well. Would he be able to protect them all, he wondered darkly.

Stephanie gave a little moan, shifting in her sleep as her hand absently rubbed her belly. Mulder looked at the girl. She was so young. In her sleep she looked all of 15, and if it wasn't for her hugely pregnant belly, she appeared as innocent as an angel. He was sorry that she had got caught up in all the maneuverings of the Consortium. It sounded like her life was hard enough without all this mess. But he was very thankful that she had thought to search them out. He would do anything he could to help her -he owed her that much and more. Her face scruched into a grimace and he wondered if he should wake her, it looked like she was having a bad dream, but she soon relaxed.

They were 10 minutes from Washington, it was time to talk to Scully.

"Scully," he said softly, so not as to disturb the sleeping girl. Scully looked up at him with a questioning eye. "What are we going to do?"

Dana sat back and stared at her partner. Such an innocent question. What are we going to do? She didn't really know. She began shutting down her laptop, giving herself a chance to collect her thoughts. The trip down here obviously hadn't been long enough. She glanced at Stephanie asleep across from her.

"I guess we go back to my place. I can take our blood samples. I don't really want to explain this to a hospital lab," she gave him wry smile. "Then I'll go run the tests at work, and you two can wait at my...." she stopped as Mulder's eyes looked like they were about to pop out of his head in panic. "Calm down Mulder. She is not due for a three weeks, she's not going to go into labor on you. Besides the tests will only take about an hour, two at the most. I'll be back before you know it."

"I, uh, I think we should all go," he managed to stammer out. Just his luck she would go into labor.

Scully was shaking her head. "No, the lab wouldn't be very comfortable for her. Besides, you need to talk to her, find out about her parents and get her to call them. She needs her family."

Mulder nodded in resignation. He saw the logic of splitting up, and he knew that the lab was not a very comfortable place to sit around in, but that didn't mean he liked babysitting a pregnant girl, even if it was his child she was carrying, it still made him nervous.

**

Scully's apartment

6:10 pm

They arrived at Scully's apartment without incident. It had been a very quiet drive. Stephanie was lost in her own world, not really paying either of them any attention, she simply followed them silently. At the security desk the profile Frohike had sent had been waiting for them. Mulder briefly scanned it. It looked similar to the one Stephanie claimed was Scully's, but then he didn't know what to look for. Scully had silently studied both pieces of paper while he drove.

As soon as they entered the apartment Stephanie excused herself to the bathroom. Scully removed her coat and headed for her medical bag, getting out the supplies she would need.

"So," Mulder asked expectantly after he hung up his coat.

"So, what?" Scully asked in return. "Role up your sleeve.

Your right arm has a better vein."

Mulder just looked at her as he rolled up his sleeve, presenting her with his bare arm. "Are you going to tell me what you thought of the profiles?" He asked, nodding towards the discarded papers on her table.

Scully continued swabbing his arm with alcohol, getting ready to draw some blood for the genetic test. "If Frohike could get his mangey little paws on it, anybody could have," she answered as she poked the needle into his vein. Mulder let out his breath in a rush.

"So it matched." he stated. She still refused to look at him, silently nodding her head instead.

"It doesn't prove anything," she said, swabbing her own arm. She nodded to the vial of his blood. "Label that will you." He did as he was told. Waiting for her to continue. "Like I said, if Frohike had a copy of my genetic profile, anyone could have it. It's not proof Mulder." She busied herself, cleaning up the table, putting her medical bag away.

"Scully," he said softly, grabbing her arm and stopping her frantic cleaning. "What are you afraid of? Talk to me," he whispered. She stood in front of him, head bowed refusing to look at him. She just shook her head, unable to find the words. Mulder reached up, his fingers under her chin, gently raising her head so that her eyes would meet his. "Scully." He was shocked to see the tears in her eyes, the pain and uncertainty. He wanted to reach out and hold her to him, but before he could they heard a cry from the bathroom.

"No!" Stephanie's voice cried out in anguish and pain.

Both agents forgot what they had been talking about, reaching for their guns the ran towards the bathroom.

"Stephanie?" Scully called out as she opened the door, Mulder covering her. Both agents were shocked to see the girl crouched on the floor on her hands and knees, sobbing. Scully holstered her gun, kneeling down to stroke the girls bent head. "Stephanie?" she asked softly. Mulder was feeling extremely uncomfortable as the girl's eyes looked up at him.

"My water just broke," she moaned as a contraction racked her small body.

**

Scully's apartment

6:35 pm

 

Everything seemed to freeze for a moment, as Mulder simply stared down at the two women on the floor. 'Oh, my God! She's having the baby now,' he thought. But the frozen moment didn't last long. Scully began snapping orders at him, making him move, and thankfully alleviating the panic that he was beginning to feel. Scully's a doctor, she can handle this, he was not alone.

While Scully helped Stephanie change into a dry gown between contractions, Mulder went to call an ambulance. The contractions were coming pretty quick, Scully had timed them at maybe two minutes apart and had shouted at him from the bathroom that she was 8cm and almost fully effaced-whatever that meant. He paced the living room waiting for the emergency operator to pick up. Stephanie moaned as another contraction hit her. He could hear Scully's soft voice encouraging and praising her. Finally the operator picked up.

The conversation was brief and did not make him happy. He looked at Scully and Stephanie standing in the doorway of the bathroom.

"Uh, Scully?" he asked, trying to sound casual. "Can I talk to you in the kitchen for a minute?" She looked up at him, searching his eyes and nodded. She helped Stephanie settle on the couch, assuring her that she would be right back. Mulder's heart went out to her, this was not easy. If he felt panic, he couldn't imagine what she was feeling right now. Ushering Scully into the kitchen, he let out a sigh. "No dice. There is a major pile up on the beltway. The operator said it could be up to a half hour or more, until they can get an ambulance to us. She suggested that we bring her in to the hospital ourselves."

"Mulder, it's 6:45 on a Friday," she said glancing at the clock. "It'll take us almost an hour to get to the nearest hospital! She's not going to last that long. Her labor is progressing way too fast!" She was biting her lip, worried about Stephanie and the baby.

Mulder reached out and touched her arm. "Have you ever delivered a baby?

She looked up at him, he was surpassed to see uncertainty in her eyes. "I assisted a couple times in med school, and I watched one of my nephews being born, but it was never an area I was interested in going into. I can do it," she assured him, " but she is so young and tiny, if something goes wrong..."

"So, nothing will go wrong," Mulder stated.

Scully glanced up at him, "Mulder it's not that easy.."

He stopped her from saying anything. "I believe in you, Scully. You can do this. WE can do this. Stephanie and the baby need us." She nodded and he watched amazed as she changed into the take charge women he knew she was.

While Scully prepared for the birth, getting clean sheets, towels, heating water, and getting medical equipment ready, Mulder helped Stephanie walk around the room. It seemed that walking relieved some of the pain in her lower back. Whenever a contraction hit, she would grab hold of him and moan and pant until it was over. He tried to help, offering soothing words and rubbing the small of her back to relieve the pressure, but he felt so inadequate. The contractions were coming quicker and from the numbness in his arm he guessed they were hurting more; he was going to have bruises from where she gripped him during the contractions. Who would have thought that such a petite woman would have such strength in her hands?

"Please," she begged between contractions. "Give me something for the pain. I can't do this anymore." He looked down at her sweat drenched face and eyes glazed over in pain and exhaustion and he wanted to do anything to help her.

"Come on Steph," he encouraged. "You're doing great. As soon as the baby is born, Scully can give you a pain killer, but not until then. You can do it!" She just whimpered as another contraction hit her. That was really quick he thought.

"Oh, god," she groaned into his shirt front, panting from exertion. "I want to push!" The words barely registered in his mind.

"Scully!"

Dana caught the wide eyed panic in his eyes, she almost wanted to laugh, almost. Taking charge once again, she helped Mulder get Stephanie settled into a comfortable position, reclining against some cushions on the floor. Checking Stephanie's progress, she smiled up at the tired girl reassuringly.

"OK Steph, this is it. You are fully dilated and I can see the baby's head," she looked up at Mulder, who had his arms around the girls shoulders, ready to help during the next contraction, the relief that this wasn't a breech birth was evident in her eyes. "When the next contraction comes I want you to push as hard as you can. Mulder is going to count to 10, then I want you to take a quick breath and push some more. We'll keep doing that until the contraction ends, then you can rest. This kid will be born in no time and then I can give you some morphine for the pain, OK?" Stephanie nodded.

Mulder had his hand resting on her stomach, he could feel it hardening as another contraction was building. "Ok, here it comes Stephanie. Push! One....two...three...." It was the longest 10 minutes of his life, watching as Stephanie tried to push the baby from her body. She was shaking with exhaustion, the sweat pouring off her. But seemingly just as suddenly as the whole thing began, it was over.

"It's a...girl!" Scully called out, as the baby finally entered the world. Mulder noted the time on his watch, 7:29-they never would have made it to the hospital in time. Scully quickly took care of the baby's umbilical cord, tying it off and then cutting it. Mulder looked in wonder at the how small it looked laying on Stephanie's deflated belly. He looked down to see her reaction, but she had her face turned away from the baby, her shoulders shaking in silent sobs. Relief? he wondered.

"Congratulations, Steph," he said softly, not quite sure what to say. "You did it, its over now. You have a beautiful, and loud, baby girl."

Stephanie just shook her head at his words. "Take it away," she whispered. "I don't want to see her." Despite what all she had told them earlier, Mulder and Scully were still shocked to hear her words. How could she not want to see the child that she carried for almost 9 months? The tears began pouring down her face, the crying baby seemed to be upsetting her. "Get it away from me, now!"

Scully looked over at Mulder. She could somewhat understand the girl's reaction, she hadn't wanted the baby in the first place and in her mind it wasn't even hers, but didn't she feel some kind of connection to it? Scully wasn't about to pressure Stephanie now, the girl had been through enough, she quickly handed the baby to Mulder, nodding her head towards the kitchen and the stuff that she had set up to clean the baby.

"Its ok, Steph. I'll give you the pain killer now. Everything looks fine, you didn't even tear, so I won't have to stitch you up or anything." Scully kept her voice low and soothing as she gave the girl the injection. "This will help you relax and maybe sleep a little. Mulder will take care of the baby and I'll finish up here with you. We still have to deliver the placenta, but that should be real easy. Then we will all go to the hospital, ok?"

Stephanie nodded sleepily, the morphine beginning to take effect.

"Uh, Scully...?" Mulder said hesitantly from behind her, still holding the baby. "What am I suppose to do?"

Dana looked up at him and was surpassed at the wave of feeling that washed through her. Mulder holding a newborn was a sight she never dreamed of seeing, or rather, never dared to dream. He looked so awkward and unsure, but so right at the same time. She smiled up at him, "I set up a little bathing area. Wash her off, make sure her head is dried and covered and then wrap her up and keep her warm. Make sure you wipe all the stuff off her eyes and nose. Use the bulb syringe if you have to." Mulder got that panicked look on his face. "I believe in you, Mulder."

He nodded as his words were repeated back to him, giving her a slight smile, he headed for the kitchen. Scully had set some towels on the counter with a desk lamp set up next to the makeshift bath. He found a bowl of warm water, a washcloth, and some extra towels. He had never bathed a baby before, but there was no time to learn like the present.

Carefully laying the baby down, he began to unwrap the towel that Scully had put her in. The loss of the comforting warmth and tightness of the towel, caused the baby to howl in protest. Mulder was surpassed that such a little thing could produce so much noise. Determined to keep his cool, Mulder began talking to the baby as he started to wash her off.

He had always thought that childbirth was messy, and it was, but not as messy as he thought it would be. In the movies there was lots of blood; on the mother, the baby, the doctor. But Stephanie had barely bled as far as he could tell, certainly not as much as in the movies, and the baby was coated in a whitish mucus-like substance. It was amazing how perfectly formed she was. Her little fingers and toes so tiny, but so perfect. He remembered what Scully had said about covering her head, so he started washing her there.

As he softly began washing the baby with warm water and the washcloth, it stopped crying and looked up at him with solemn eyes, seemingly watching his every move.

"Well, hello little one," he said softly. "Welcome to this place called earth." The baby continued to look at him as if thinking over what he had said. He smiled. "My you have a lot of hair." After rinsing her hair as best he could, he started to dry it with another cloth. He thought all babies were bald, but this one had a full head of...red hair. His hands stilled for a moment as he looked at the silky down of red hair. When it was wet it looked almost like it might be an odd shade of brown, but dry it was definitely more of a strawberry blond, with an emphasis on the strawberry. 'Jesus,' he thought, stunned. 'Her hair is just a little lighter than Scully's.'

The baby began to cry again as he stopped talking to it and just stared. Her mewl of protest jerked him out of his revelry. He had to remember to give Scully points for creativity; the improvised hat turned out to be the toe end of one of her socks. It might not have been fashionable, but it worked well. With her head covered, he continued to clean her off, still amazed at how tiny she was. He had believed that what Stephanie had told them was true, and after seeing her hair, there was no doubt in his mind that Scully was this baby's mother. He just hoped that she would see it too.

Everything was going amazing well, the baby continued to watch him, and he babbled softly to her, until....

"Oh, shit!" Mulder exclaimed.

"What?!" Scully called out from the living room, alarmed.

"She just sh..pooped everywhere." Mulder told her, grimacing at the sight before him. He had been just about to wrap her up again.

Scully laughed in relief. "So clean her up. Haven't you ever changed a dirty diaper before?"

"I don't know," he responded, the distaste evident in his voice. "If I have I must have blocked the experience from my mind."

"Come on Mulder," Scully chided. "You've never changed a diaper before?"

"Scully," he said in exasperation, "I'm single, whose diapers would I change?"

"Guess you're going to have to learn on your own then." He could hear the laughter in her voice. "You're a trained FBI agent, you should be able to handle this."

"The academy didn't prepare me for this," he said softly under his breath, as he looked down at the baby. He would swear that she was laughing at him too. "Your just like your mother, giving me a hard time already," he said as he smiled down at her. Suddenly it didn't seem so bad. "Uh, Scully, is it normal for it to be green?" he asked as he began to clean the baby's bottom.

"Yes, Mulder," Scully said, as she made her way to the kitchen to get a plastic bag for the placenta. "Its called meconium. Its what was in the baby's intestines. She's just doing what every normal baby does." Dana felt light hearted as she walked into her kitchen. Stephanie was resting and there didn't seem to be any heavy bleeding. From the sound of it the baby was fine too. She was relieved that everything had gone so well. She walked up to Mulder and gently poked him in the side. "Move over I need to get a garbage bag." She waited, but Mulder appeared not to have heard her. He was staring intently and the baby, an odd expression on his face.

Dana moved to look at the baby, afraid of what she might see. She looked fine, if a little upset that Mulder had rolled her over onto her belly in order to clean her off. But Mulder stared down, a stricken look on his face, at her little back. Dana looked, but couldn't see what had affected him so much. "What?" she asked, trying not to sound panicked.

Mulder glanced at her, then slowly pointed to the baby's lower back on her right side. Scully let out a gasp as she realized what her partner was pointing to.

**

Scully's apartment

7:52 pm

 

Just below Mulder's finger she saw the dark crescent of skin on the baby's right lower back, and she recognized it. It was the same birth mark that Mulder had on his lower back. She had seen it a couple of times when she examined him after one of his many mishaps.

"Its just like my birthmark," he said softly, his voice betraying his awe. "Sam had it too. It was, is, a Mulder.....every Mulder has the same birthmark. It's passed down the paternal line." He looked into Scully's wide blue eyes. "Father to child."

Dana didn't know what to say. Part of her wanted to rationalize a way to explain that the birthmark wasn't solid proof, that it could just be a coincidence, or something, but she couldn't, because the other part of her knew, simply knew, that she was looking at Mulder's daughter.

"That's not all," Mulder said as he took of the baby's hat, displaying a head full of strawberry colored hair. He looked up at his partner, aware of the way her body tensed beside his. Her eyes were wide with shock. For a moment she didn't say anything, but then her professional mask slipped into place.

"Wrap her up tight and warm. We have to get both of them to the hospital. I'll call ahead to let them know we are coming and to make sure that there is someone in the lab who can run the tests." She quickly turned and left the kitchen.

Mulder looked down at the baby, <their> baby, as he gently began to wrap her in some warm towels. "Its ok, little one. She knows. She just likes to make sure she has all the facts first." The baby let out a gurgle and Mulder smiled, feeling his eyes water up.

The ride to the hospital was uneventful. Mulder carried Stephanie's sleeping form to the car, strapping her in while Scully held the baby, who was also sleeping. They didn't talk on the way in, neither of them knew what to say. With red hair and the birthmark, it was obvious that the child was theirs. But what, Mulder wondered, could he say to best friend and partner of almost 5 years? 'Congratulations. We have a daughter?'

He knew how he felt about Scully, he had loved her for a long time, but how did she feel about him? She cared for him, he was sure, as close as they come to each other that was a given. She probably even loved him, but <how> did she love him? As a brother, just as a friend, or could it be more? He had always felt that he didn't deserve her, that it was just blind luck and fate that had brought her into his life, but looking at her holding their child...the feeling of love and contentment rushed through him.

He wanted them to be a family, and not just because they had a little girl. He wanted Dana Scully in his life forever, to have and to hold. He wanted to give her as many children as she wanted, to protect her, to love her. Would she believe him? Or would she think his feelings for her were because of the baby she was holding? Keeping his feelings for her hidden had seemed to be the best option at the time. She was always the professional. He knew that there was a line he couldn't cross, and he never did. Through his jokes and innuendoes he let her know how he felt, but it was always a joke, easy to take back or explain away. He didn't know if he could do that any more.

Dana couldn't look at Mulder, so she just stared down at the perfect little face nestled in her arms. She was beautiful. Up until she went into the kitchen, Dana had managed to keep her professional cover in place. Her job, as a doctor, was to see that the baby was delivered safely and that it and Stephanie were alright. At first, when Mulder had told her that the ambulance wouldn't be coming, she had almost panicked. It wasn't that she didn't think she could help deliver the baby. She was fairly confident that she could handle just about anything-even a c-section, if it came down to that. But a voice in her mind kept on telling her that doctors should not treat their own family, which was ridiculous, because she had just met Stephanie, but the baby......

While she was preparing for delivery she had kept her mind on what she was doing, going over what she remembered from the previous births she had attended, improvising any equipment they might need; her mind far away from any speculation of the child's parentage. But when Mulder had pointed out the birthmark and uncovered the mop of red hair, she had known she was looking at her own child, their child. It had been a shock. She didn't know how to react, so she stopped herself from reacting at all, easily slipping into Dr. Scully-I-have-no-feelings mode. She thought she had probably hurt Mulder when she said that the tests still had to be done, he probably thought that she was trying to deny what had become so obvious.

In truth she wanted the tests done because she wanted proof that the child was theirs so that no one, not even Stephanie, could take her away. She wanted this baby. It was hers, and she wasn't letting her go.

She had almost lost control when Mulder handed her the wrapped bundle. The emotions that surged through took her breath away. This small bundle was a part of her and Mulder, an extension of their partnership that would always be. She had been wondering if she would ever have children of her own. She was so caught up in her work with Mulder that she barely had time to find a life. The few times she had actually gone out with someone she hadn't been very comfortable and it hadn't been fun. She had actually found herself looking forward to the end of the date so that she could call Mulder and hear his voice. She knew that as a professional it was wrong to become so, so...dependent? on her partner, but she couldn't help it. He was her best friend. None of the men she had dated since she met Mulder seemed to measure up to him.

She sighed softly. For so long she had tried to deny that she had any strong feelings for him, but now, looking down at the little face that was part of them both she couldn't deny how happy she felt. Of all the people in her life, she was most thankful that Mulder was the father of her child. It seemed fitting really. She could openly love this child in a way that she never could when it came to Mulder. She had dug her own grave in that respect. She had established herself as a cold, professional, and skeptical partner. Other agents thought of her as the 'Ice Queen,' and though Mulder knew her better than anyone, she sometimes wondered if he also believed her to be cold.

God knows, she tried her best to conceal her feelings from him; hiding behind her need to be seen as a competent female agent. Did she do too good of job? She had always thought that his respect, friendship, and trust was enough; but had she been only fooling herself?

"We're here," Mulder's said softly, interrupting her thoughts. "Must have been some accident."

There were four ambulances, lights flashing, parked in front of the emergency room. Inside the partially open doors, they could see doctors and nurses scurrying around gurneys and helping others limp to chairs. Controlled chaos.

"Should I go get a wheelchair for Stephanie?"

Scully finally looked up at him. Her emotions were on a roller coaster ride, it was so hard to remain detached. "Can you carry her? I think we should all go in together." Mulder simply nodded and got out of the car. He couldn't tell what Scully was thinking.

Dana slowly eased herself out of the car, trying not to disturb the sleeping bundle in her arms. The baby started mewling in protest as she was jostled, but soon calmed as Dana began to sing her a lullaby. Dana was amazed at how natural it all felt. Looking up she saw Mulder watching her, Stephanie in his arms, an inquisitive look on his face. She just smiled at him and started walking towards the emergency room entrance.

It took forever to get anyone's attention, but finally after pulling out his badge and spouting some story about this being FBI business, a pale young girl wearing a candystripers uniform was dispatched to take them to the maternity wing, where the Obstetrician on call would check out Stephanie and the baby. Dana raised an eyebrow at Mulder's high handed tactics, but he just shrugged.

"We'll deal with Skinner later," he said. "Right now I just want to make sure everybody is OK." Dana nodded. Skinner wasn't going to be real happy about their abuse of their power as agents, but she didn't care right now. Her only thoughts were on the baby and Stephanie.

They were lead into one of the birthing rooms. It was set up to be a labor, birthing and postpartum recovery room; very comfortable, with its own bathroom and window seat that probably could also be a makeshift bed for family members. A lot better than the floor of her living room, but at least they were here now.

Stephanie was still sleeping ten minutes later when the obstetrician finally came in to check on her. Scully had remained with her and the baby while Mulder had gone through the admittance procedures with a nurse. Lord knows they had been in enough hospitals to know the drill.

Dana wasn't sure what story Mulder was giving the nurse outside. She only told the doctor the pertinent facts about the birth, leaving the other details out of it. The doctor raised his eyebrows at her request for a blood sample from Stephanie and the baby, but she followed Mulder's example, saying it was a FBI case and that the samples were necessary. Hesitating briefly, the doctor finally nodded, calling down to get someone to take the samples.

It was when he wanted to take the baby away from her that she put up a fight. She had allowed him to examine the baby while she watched. Everything looked fine. But then he began to explain that it was hospital procedure to put all babies who were born outside the hospital in the neo-natal nursery for 24 hours as a precaution.

"You did a good job delivering this baby, Agent Scully. Stephanie was lucky to have you with her but the baby has to go to the nursery-as a precaution. You can stay here with Stephanie if you like."

"No," Dana managed to say as politely as possible. "I'm staying with the baby."

The doctor looked somewhat surpassed by her request. "I'm sorry, Agent Scully, but that is not possible. Only the child's parents are allowed in to the nursery. It's hospital policy. You can visit..."

"Fuck the hospital policy," Dana declared as she grabbed the baby from the doctor. There was no way she was letting her child leave her sight, hospital policy or not.

Mulder walked in, surpassed to hear his partner swearing at the doctor. He saw the way she was clutching the baby to her, a desperate look in her eyes. "Scully, what's wrong?" he asked, walking over to look at the baby and make sure she was alright.

"He wants to take her away." Her voice was shaking. She was acting like a mama bear defending her cub, Mulder was surpassed to see. She really does believe, he thought.

The doctor was looking at Scully like she was crazy. "It's hospital procedure for babies born outside the hospital to be taken to the neo-natal nursery," he explained to Mulder.

Mulder looked down at Scully. He saw the wild look in her eyes, he spoke to her softly, trying to calm her. "That doesn't sound so bad. It's just to make sure she is ok. You can go with her...."

"I am afraid that is not possible," the doctor interrupted.

"What!" Mulder exclaimed, turning on the doctor.

"Only the child's parents are allowed in the nursery..."

"But we are..." Mulder began not thinking how crazy he would sound. "This is an FBI investigation. One of us has to be with the baby at all times." The doctor looked skeptically at Dana, seeing how she was desperately holding the baby. "Do you want to be charged with impeding a Federal investigation, and endangering the life of this child, all because of 'hospital procedures?'" Mulder asked in a low, threatening voice. The doctor slowly shook his head, clearly intimidated by Mulder.

"If you will follow me, Agent Scully," the doctor said as he headed for the door. "I'll take you to the nursery and explain everything to the nurses." He did not want to get impede anything, but he sure as hell was going to check out their story. "I would like to call your superior-just to verify your story, for the hospitals sake, you realize."

Mulder just glared at the man. He didn't like him at all. "Fine," he snapped. "You can call Assistant Director Skinner at 555-3635. Now, give us a minute." The doctor quickly exited the room.

"I'll meet you at the nurses station, Agent Scully."

Dana barely spared him a glance as she turned to face her partner. "Mulder...."

"Scully," he interrupted. "We have to face Skinner sometime. He'll probably come down here to see what is really going on, and we might need his help."

She simply nodded. "I know. But what about the tests, and Stephanie? I, I....don't want to leave the baby," she stuttered. "But the sooner I run the tests, the sooner we get the answers, the more we have to tell Skinner."

"I'll do it," Mulder responded. Scully gave him a disbelieving look. "I can't actually run the tests, but I can make sure that nobody messes with them. That should be good enough for now. You can run the tests again later, if you want."

"OK," she agreed.

"What exactly needs to be done?"

"Well, after you coerce a technician into helping you," she said giving him a wry smile. She knew that he was going to pull all his rank, and some he didn't even have to get this done, "the first thing I would do was check blood types. That should give us something to go from. You and I have the same blood type, so if she...if she's ours," Dana whispered, refusing to meet Mulder's eyes as she clutched the baby tightly, "she should have the same blood type. But that is just a starting point. Stephanie could have the same blood type or so could the fa..father. If the baby is not O+ then she can't be ours."

"Ok," Mulder said softly, "so when her blood comes back O+, then what should I do?"

Dana smiled at how strong his belief was. He didn't even doubt for one second that this child was theirs, while she on the other had couldn't help but have at least some doubts. Even though her heart was telling her that it was her daughter she was holding, her mind still wanted proof. Must be an ingrained response after working with Mulder for so long. "Have them run a basic genetic profile on everyone. That should give us enough information, one way or the other. We can run more extensive tests later if we need to."

Mulder started leading her toward the door, already thinking of what he had to do, but suddenly she stopped. He looked down at her quizzically.

"What about Stephanie?" Scully asked. "She shouldn't be left alone either. But I need, want to stay with the baby and if you go to the lab that leaves nobody with her."

Mulder had totally forgotten about the young girl sleeping in the bed. He was so caught up in proving that the baby was his daughter and keeping her safe, that he hadn't even considered the girl who had just given birth to his baby. He felt a wave of guilt rush through him. Stephanie had given them a very precious gift, they had to look out for her too. There was no telling what the consortium might do.

Opening the door for Scully he ushered her out into the hall. "Don't worry about it," he said as he softly caressed the baby's cheek, "I'll find someone from security to sit with her until we can get something better." Scully nodded and began to walk down the hall, softly talking to the baby in her arms. Halfway down the hall she turned back to look at him. From that distance he couldn't tell for sure, but he thought her eyes looked suspiciously watery.

"Thank you Mulder," she said before turning and walking the rest of the way down the hall.

Mulder just watched her, unsure of what to say. She had thanked him, but for what? He hadn't done anything really. Was she thankful that he let her stay with the baby? That he had taken control over the situation? It was strange hearing those words coming from his partner. She was so self sufficient that a thank you was rarely necessary, unless he had got her some coffee or something simple like that. Usually it was him saying thank you for saving his life, his career, whatever.

Oh well, he didn't have time to ponder her thanks much. He had to get protection for Stephanie and get the tests run. He had to protect their baby. 'Their' baby, he repeated to himself with a smile, before heading off to find a security guard.

**

Dana sat rocking the baby in the neo-natal nursery. After watching the nurses make a preliminary examination of the baby's vitals, they had allowed her to don a pair of scrubs and help bathe and dress the baby. As she rocked, she softly sang a lullaby that her mother had sang to her as a child and that her brothers still sang to their children. It was tradition, and it was only right to continue it on with her own daughter, Dana thought.

As she stared down at that peaceful face she was overcome with emotion. She sang and the tears began to softly course down her cheeks, hardly noticed. This was 'her' daughter, hers and Mulder's. The thought overwhelmed her. It brought her great happiness, but that same happiness was also tinted with sadness.

Most women had nine months to prepare for their child. Nine months to watch and feel it grow inside of them. Nine months to plan and dream. She, they, had only...she glanced at the clock, nine hours. The time that Stephanie had walked up to them in the park to the time the baby had been born, had only encompassed nine hours of her life. In that short time everything had been turned upside-down.

She now had a baby to care for and love. Getting actual custody wouldn't be a problem, at least not now, after the news from security. It was all just a matter of paperwork and blood tests. Shifting her life around to include a baby wouldn't be easy, but she knew that she could do it and loving her definitely would not be a problem. She would do anything for her baby.

The hardest part of all this was facing Mulder, and her own feelings for him. She looked at the baby and she saw him. This child was a part of him, and the feelings that she had kept hidden were beginning to surface. What were they going to do now, she wondered. She honestly had no idea. She knew how she felt about him and about their baby, but not how he felt. Was he ready to accept a baby into his life, let alone a baby that she, his partner of almost five years, was the mother of?

The Bureau had a unwritten policy about partners becoming involved with each other, but, Jesus, this was going to be a little hard to explain. 'No sir, we are not involved, but this is our daughter.' Skinner would love that.

Dana knew her future now held her new daughter in it, but was Mulder there too? She simply didn't know. She gave up second-guessing Mulder years ago. Normally she could read him pretty well, but aside from shock, she just did not know what he was feeling now, she was too wrapped up in her own emotions.

With a sigh, Dana gave up trying to figure out the rest of her life and focused on the perfect little bundle sleeping in her arms. Mulder or no, she thought bittersweetly, I will always have this.

The ringing of her cellular brought Dana out of a light doze. Reaching quickly for it, she managed to cut off the second ring as she answered.

"Scully," she whispered so as not to wake up the baby.

"It's me," Mulder whispered back. "Just finished the blood tests."

Dana couldn't help but smile. "Mulder, why are you whispering?"

"Oh, uh, I didn't realize I was," he said, flustered. "Is she sleeping?"

"Like an angel." Mulder could hear the smile in her voice.

"That's good. Hopefully she won't inherit my insomnia."

"Oh God," Dana joked back. "Just what I need, a baby that doesn't sleep."

Mulder chuckled. "Well its 50-50, whether she takes after you or me. Insomnia wouldn't be so bad, we could stay up and watch tv while you sleep, just as long as she doesn't get my nose."

"What's wrong with your nose?"

"Come on Scully," he scoffed. "It was bad enough for me to grow up with this nose, I wouldn't wish it on my little girl."

Dana laughed in response, feeling warmth as he talked of their daughter. "I guess you have a point. Its definitely not a girl's nose, but it looks good on you."

"Why, Agent Scully..." He chided. "Where were you when I was in high school. I could have used the moral support."

Dana chuckled softly, letting the warm camaraderie continue in silence for a few moments. "The tests?" she finally prodded.

"Oh yeah, the whole reason I called." She could hear him shuffling papers. "Stephanie's blood type is AB+ and the baby's is O+. Now, it has been a long time since my high school genetics class, but the lab guy informed me that it is impossible for Stephanie to be the mother of...of the baby," he hesitated. "You know Scully, we really should give her a name."

"Yes, we should," Dana answered. "Finish the tests first though, Skinner and the hospital will want more proof than red hair, a birthmark and blood type. Then we can think of a name together." Together, she thought. That sounded so good. They would do it together.

She felt warm all over discussing their daughter, it was as if she was floating on a cloud. The blood test results were simply a formality, she already knew that this was their daughter, they just had to have proof for everyone else. And from the way Mulder was talking, she didn't think he wanted to be excluded from his daughter's life.

They had been partners and friends for five years, they would simply extend the partnership to included raising their child. She smiled as she thought of Mulder asleep on the couch holding a little pink bundle with red hair as he flipped through the channels. They could do it. Together they could do anything. And if it didn't go any farther than that, she could live with it, she had for years already. But now the difference was even if the Bureau separated them again, they would always have this baby to bind them together.

Stephanie had given them a most precious gift. She would forever be thankful for her coming to them as she had.

Stephanie, her mind jolted her out of her daydream. What was the matter with her? She had forgotten about Stephanie.

"Mulder," she said hesitantly, not sure what to say.

The hairs on the back of his neck stood on end at the way she said his name. Something was wrong. A moment ago they were on the top of the world discussing the baby, and now, he could tell something was wrong. Had somebody come into the room? Was Cancerman holding her at gunpoint? His mind raced with all kinds of horrible scenarios that would steal his new makeshift family from him.

"What's wrong, Scully?" he asked, hoping he kept the panic from his voice.

"Its Stephanie," Dana responded. "She's dead."

"What?!" Mulder didn't know what else to say. He had left her with a security guard not thirty minutes ago.

"Security called up here about twenty minutes ago. The guard you posted was called out of the room to stop a fight or something in a room two doors down. He was gone for only a few minutes, but when he came back Stephanie had stopped breathing. My guess is that they poisoned her IV. I called the lab at the Bureau, they're sending someone to take the body. It's now an official FBI case. Skinner is on his way." She related the incident emotionlessly, but deep down she was still shocked. Stephanie was dead, did that mean <They> would go after the baby next.

"That was fast," Mulder said. "I thought we would have more time to get her somewhere safe. I didn't think..."

"Neither did I."

"I don't think they will go after the baby." he said, trying to reassure them both. "She's still useful to them as a distraction for us."

"I agree, but ... They must have known all along. And Stephanie, she was so young! She deserved a better life."

"Yeah, but we both know that they probably wouldn't have followed through on their promises to her. They used her, and they were probably going to toss her aside when they were through. I'm glad she managed to find us, and bring us the baby. I just wish..." the guilt he felt at not being able to protect her was obvious.

"Me too."

"Scully?" he asked, suddenly all business like. "Do you have your gun.?"

"It's right here next to me."

"Good, don't be afraid to use it. I'll be up as soon as the tests are done processing." And with that he hung up.

Some things never change with Mulder, Scully thought wryly, as she checked her gun one more time and then began to softly sing to her sleeping daughter.

**

The tests were done. It was official, he finally had a family to love and care for after all the years. Well, it wasn't a 'real' family yet. More like a patchwork quilt, all thrown together; him, Scully, and the baby. But they were together now and that was all that mattered. After Samantha was abducted he had given up on having a family. His parents marriage had dissolved before his eyes, and he was basically cast aside and ignored, left to wallow in his own guilt and shame at allowing his sister to be taken.

As an adult, his determination to find her overshadowed everything. Every path taken, every decision made was to further his search. He didn't have time to form a lasting relationship with a woman and frankly, after Phoebe, he didn't want to. But that was until Special Agent Dr. Dana Scully walked through his door. Sent to spy on him, he had not wanted to trust her, but she had slowly, but surely, earned it. Earned his trust, his respect, his friendship and his love.

He had never thought of having a family, wife, children, house, dog-the whole nine yards, until he had met Scully. After the case in Home, PA he began having dreams about little red haired children with hazel eyes. The funny thing was that the idea didn't scare him in the least. And though he convinced himself it could never happen; they had too much to do finding the truth and he didn't want to risk what they already had, he still looked forward to those dreams. They were a hell of a lot better than his usual nightmares.

Scully could never love him, not <that> way, he had convinced himself. Why would a smart and beautiful woman want to spend her life with an emotionally messed up and obsessive jerk like him? He had all but destroyed her career already, he didn't want to mess up her life any further. She deserved a lot better than him, he had decided, and since she never showed him anything more than partnerly concern and friendship, he kept his feelings hidden. It was for the best.

But against all odds they had a child. He had his family;

Scully and the baby. It may not be the way he envisioned, but if that's all it was, it would be enough for him.

Mulder actually began to whistle as he headed toward the neo-natal nursery, the proof of their baby's parentage in his hands. 99.997% accurate, he and Scully were parents. Skinner is going to flip, he thought with a smile, unsure if he wanted to be the one explaining or if he should let Scully do it. Scully, definitely. It would be much more fun to watch.

On the spur of the moment he stopped at the gift shop to get something. He wasn't at all good at picking out gifts, but after looking around he decided to be traditional, he really didn't have a choice. He selected a single pink rose for Scully and a cuddly teddy bear for the baby-he'd have to find something more 'him' later. As he headed toward the elevator, he realized that there was one more thing he should do.

Pulling out his cell phone, he scrolled through his memory and then dialed.

"Hi, Mrs. Scully? No, everything is alright......would you mind meeting me....."

He felt like a clown. Rose in one hand, teddy bear in the other, he entered the nursery in blue scrubs. Geez, he thought, its not like I'm going to perform surgery or anything. But the nurse had insisted, it was standard hospital procedure, along with wearing a wristband, which allowed him to be with the baby.

Entering the room, he quietly watched Scully as she rocked the baby. He was surpassed to feel his eyes water up. Well, it wasn't everyday that you see the woman you love holding your baby. Scully looked up at him and gave him the most beautiful smile he had ever seen. He felt his heart swell in awe. This is real, he thought.

Walking over, he knelt down beside them and looked at the tiny little face of his daughter. Lightly caressing her cheek, he was again stunned by how perfect she was. Looking up he saw a single tear fall down Scully's face.

"Scully?" he asked questioningly. She didn't look upset, but..

"I'm fine, Mulder," she whispered softly. "I'm just happy"

He simply nodded, understanding how she felt. "Well, congratulations Scully. We have a baby girl."

"I know." She rested her head against his as the stared down at the sleeping baby, both in awe.

Looking into his partner's eyes, Mulder suddenly felt nervous. He was still unsure how this would change things between them. He cleared his throat. "I, uh, got her a teddy bear," Scully raised an eyebrow at him. "I know its not me, they didn't have any aliens or spaceship stuff-not even Alf, so I guess it'll have to do for now. Next time I'll have more warning."

Dana's eyes widened at his last comment. "Next time?" she whispered.

Mulder cleared his throat again feeling decidedly uncomfortable, "Yeah, well, um..." he stuttered, unsure how to respond. "The rose is for you. I'm sure somewhere its written that the mother should get flowers."

"Thank you, Mulder," she smiled. "I'm sure she'll like the bear. After all it's her first gift from her daddy."

"Daddy," Mulder softly repeated to himself. He had readily acknowledged that this was his baby and that he would be responsible for raising her and loving her. But he hadn't thought about the technicality that someday this little bundle was going to look at him and call him daddy. "Daddy," he said, looking up at Scully. "You know, I think I like the sound of that...how about you mommy?"

"It does have a nice ring to it, doesn't it," Dana responded, her throat tight with unshed tears. She felt so happy it seemed stupid to cry, but hearing Mulder call her mommy, it just felt so right. Still she struggled for control, no sense in breaking down in front of Mulder.

Mulder saw his partner trying to regain control of herself. She had obviously been as affected as he had been at the thought of being called daddy. "You know I think you owe me Scully." That got her attention. She was giving him he look that said-'this better be good.' "Well," he continued, "I do feel kinda cheated. I haven't even kissed you, let alone get to participate in the conception."

Dana's jaw dropped at the implication. Was he saying he wanted to,....with her? Collecting herself, she responded in kind. "Oh, sure. That way I get to spend nine months looking like I swallowed a basketball, throwing up and retaining water. You'd like that wouldn't you."

Mulder just grinned wickedly. "That's us Neanderthals for you. Keep 'em barefoot and pregnant!"

"Ha!" Scully laughed in response, but suddenly it didn't seem so funny and the tears began to silently fall.

Concerned, Mulder began to gently wipe away her tears.

"Scully?"

She looked up at him, giving him a weak smile, silently apologizing for her tears. "Oh, Mulder. I would do anything to have been the one to carry her. I want to have been the one to have morning sickness, to feel her grow inside my body. Feeling her kick and squirm. I wouldn't even care about stretch marks and going through labor." She took a deep shuddering breath. "Its so unfair, she's our child, but I didn't get to experience anything; not her growth, her birth, or her conception-and I want to be able to do that." She let out a tiny whimper, "I can't even feed my own baby!"

Mulder hadn't realized how much Scully had missed. He had jokingly commented about the conception, but there was so much more, and Scully must be feeling the loss ten times more than him. It was one of those female nurturing things, he supposed.

"Oh, Scully," he said, pushing the hair back from her face.

"You can have other kids, experience it all, still."

"Can I?" she responded with a sniff. "After what they did,

what you saw? I know you said my....eggs were viable, but, I

barely have a life now, it'll only be harder with a child and work"

Mulder looked into Scully's eyes, "I would gladly give you as many children as you want," he said seriously.

Dana's eyes widened in shock. He meant what he said. She didn't see any pity in his eyes, he looked totally serious. She smiled shakily. "We don't even know how we're going to handle one baby, let's hold off on any more, for awhile."

He nodded, unable to speak. She hadn't laughed at him, or told him he was crazy. They were going to raise this baby together, and maybe someday she would have a little brother or sister-the old fashioned way. It was too much to hope for, but she hadn't turned him down. She had even stopped crying.

"We really should name her," Dana said, changing the

subject. "'The baby' or 'baby' just doesn't seem fair. But," she

continued hesitantly, not wanting to hurt Mulder's feelings. "I don't

want to name her Melissa or Samantha. I know those are

important names in our lives and...." she stammered

"Yeah," Mulder agreed. "Those are important names from our past, but this kid is our future. No need to go bogging her down so early in life." Dana was relieved that he understood. It wasn't that she didn't love her sister and his sister as well, it was just that she didn't want this baby to be a reminder of all the pain they had been through over the years, her birth would be reminder enough.

"As for a name," Mulder continued thoughtfully. "If she was a boy, I wouldn't have any problems, but I have no idea what to name a girl."

"Hoping for a son?" Dana questioned, lightly.

"Well, no. Not really," he answered. "I wasn't really thinking baby names at all. But when you're cursed with a name like Fox, you tend to think a lot about what you would change your name to, if given the chance."

"So," Dana prodded, "what would you have named yourself?"

"Brian."

"Brian," she repeated. "Brian Mulder. It sounds ok, but I guess I'm partial to Fox." She laughed at his shocked expression. "Not everyone hates your name, Fox," she added for emphasis.

"Well, Brian doesn't really work anyway, seeing as we have a girl."

Dana looked thoughtful. "No," she agreed. "Brian doesn't work. But Brianna does. Its a strong, Irish name-to go with her red hair. We can call her Bre for short."

"You want to name our kid after a cheese?" he asked playfully.

Dana slapped his arm, "I like the name Brianna."

"I do to. It fits. Now what about a middle name? Maybe Margaret, after your mom?"

"No. I always wanted to name my daughter after my Grandma Scully. I have a lot of special memories of her."

"Ok," Mulder said, waiting to hear his daughter's middle name and hoping it wasn't something too strange.

"Kathleen. Brianna Kathleen. What do you think?"

"Brianna Kathleen," Mulder repeated, liking the way it sounded. "Yeah, I like it. I like it a lot." They smiled at each other.

"Brianna Kathleen it is," Dana said, smiling down at the sleeping infant. "What do you think, sweetheart? Does that sound alright to you?" She looked up at Mulder. "I can't believe we just named a baby. This will be the name she has for the rest of her life, it feels kind of strange, doesn't it? I hope she likes it."

"I'm sure she will. Its not like its a strange name. I think its pretty. But we haven't finished yet." Dana looked up at him quizzically. "What about her last name? Is it going to be Scully, or...or Mulder, or Scully-Mulder, or Mulder-Scully. We got a lot to choose from."

Dana nodded in agreement. They did have to make a choice. What did he want, she wondered. "Well," she began hesitantly, testing the waters. "I think a hyphenated name is a little much, especially for a little baby. Maybe one day when she gets married she'll want to hyphenate her married name."

"Whoa!" Mulder said with a shudder. "Let me get used to having her as a baby. I'm not even close to ready to think about giving her to some guy to marry!"

Dana laughed. She waited to see if he would offer any preference as to whose name they should use, but he seemed to be content to let her decide. "Conventionally," she continued slowly, "since we're not married or anything, most people would expect her name to be Scully." Mulder nodded, his eyes not quite meeting hers. "But..."

The remainder of her comment was cut off by the ringing of his phone. He quickly answered it, a smile coming to his lips. "I'll be right down." He stood up, giving Brianna a soft kiss.

"Where are you going?" she questioned.

Mulder just smiled down at her. Kissing her forehead, he winked, "I'll be right back," and he hurried out of the room.

Dana was curious as to who had called. She hadn't the faintest clue where he had gone, but she didn't have to wait long. Looking up from her sleeping daughter's face, she saw her mother standing in the nursery window. She smiled and stood up, the tears coming back to her eyes.

Mulder opened the door, leading a bewildered Mrs. Scully into the room. She looked at her daughter questioningly.

"Mom," Dana said, managing to hold back her tears of happiness and pride. She glanced at Mulder, silently thanking him for his thoughtfulness. "I would like to introduce you to your granddaughter, Brianna Kathleen Mulder." She was looking at Mulder when she said it and she wasn't disappointed. He gave her a heart-stopping grin as he put his arm around her shoulders, looking down at their daughter.

At least she wasn't the only one crying now.

The End

Well, that's it, folks! I know there is so much more to see; what will Maggie say, what will Skinner say, will they finally get together, is happiness and domestic bliss in their cards? So many possibilities, so little time! But, my muse, as it were, has given up the ghost on this one so far. I am very thankful that she has let me finish a story of my own, but her timing could be a little better. She seems to delight in giving me inspiration at the most inconvenient times, like just before my kids wake up from nap or at 1:30 at night-which is when I finished this. Does anyone else have this problem? Oh well, I really shouldn't argue, at least this is finished. If anyone has any ideas I'd love to hear them!

Don't forget to send me any comments, critiques, questions-anything at all really, to tmbailey@micro-net.com. I feel like a kid at Christmas (or any other acceptable gift giving holiday) when I get e-mail! :-)

xXx

"One day we will all look back on this and run into a parked car."

Copied from CPoV #7

"Let us go, then you and I,

As the sunlight spreads across the sky,

Like a patient, etherized on a table."

TS Elliot

The Lovesick Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

"..narrators are only human, and who could blame them for wanting to live a little longer with people (some would say characters) they care about and settle into their fictive world for life everlasting?"

John Dufresne

<Louisanna Power & Light>

(Mulder and Scully would be ok, but that Flukeman thing-I could live without, the bees, too!)




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