Title: Nothing's Ever Normal
Author: hellogoodbye57
http://www.fanfiction.net/u/1646911/hellogoodbye57

Summary: This chronicles the birth of Scully's babies. There's definitely a lot of fluff, but there's also some action. With Scully and Mulder, nothing, not even childbirth, can ever be normal.

archivist's note:

The pre-babyfic stories in this series can be found here: 01. Impetuous

http://www.fanfiction.net/s/4480522/1/Impetuous

02. Teacher from the Black Lagoon

http://www.fanfiction.net/s/4481728/1/Teacher_from_the_Black_Lagoon 03. Thanksgiving

http://www.fanfiction.net/s/4513630/1/Thanksgiving

04. The Scottish Play

http://www.fanfiction.net/s/4513846/1/The_Scottish_Play


Dana Scully tiredly followed her mother up to her apartment, resting her right hand on her aching back. At eight months pregnant, her large stomach threatened to overbalance her small frame. Of course, the fact that she was having twins did not help matters at all either.

"Dana, are you all right?" her mother questioned, turning back to her.

"I'm fine, Mom," Scully said. "I just want to get home." They had been shopping for nearly two hours, and Scully's feet were killing her. Though she had switched out her customary pumps for a pair of flats, her added weight put so much additional strain on her feet that she thought she might as well have worn the pumps.

Maggie Scully pursed her lips and considered her daughter carefully.

"You're always fine, Dana. I wish you'd just tell me what's bothering you."

"I'm just a little tired. That's all."

"You really need to take it easy, Dana. The last month's never easy, and you have two to worry about."

"I know, Mom, and I am taking it easy. I haven't been in the field the past four months, and I haven't worked at all in the past one and a half." Scully reached into her purse and extracted the key. She inserted it into the lock and reached for the door handle, realizing almost immediately that the door was unlocked. She had locked it when they left that morning; she knew that for a fact. Scully allowed a brief moment of panic to wash over her, momentarily increasing her heart rate, before her FBI training kicked in.

"Mom, get back from the door," Scully instructed, already reaching behind her for her gun. Some might consider her paranoid for taking her gun everywhere she went, but she had made a number of powerful enemies over the years, and she had learned the hard way that it never hurt to be too careful.

"Dana, this isn't-" Maggie began, but Scully had already thrown the door open and was pointing her gun into her living room.

"Surprise!" a chorus of voices shouted before the all sound in the room ceased as its occupants noticed Scully's stiff stance and unholstered weapon.

"Mom?" Scully questioned, recognizing many of the women in the room as friends of her mother. The hand holding her gun dropped to her side.

"Welcome to your baby shower, Dana," Maggie told her, moving past her into the room. "I figured it was about time you had one considering you're in your eighth month." Scully glanced around the room at the frightened faces of the women, many of whom seemed to be staring at her as if she had sprouted a second head. Scully knew all the faces, but she could only place names with about two-thirds of them. Some of them were old friends of her mother's and some were friends of hers from her days in college and in medical school. She had not seen or spoken to many of them in years. Since joining the FBI, she had lost contact with most of her friends. Mulder, the X-Files, and now the babies growing within her had become her entire life. From time to time, she would have lunch with an old friend, but she had come to find many of them rather boring.

"Mom, you know I'm not big on surprises."

"Well, that's obvious." Maggie glanced at Scully's weapon, and Scully sheepishly replaced it in her holster. Some of the tension left the room, but still, nobody said a word. Finally, Maggie broke the silence. "Well, we've got food, games, and presents. Where would you like to start?"

Half an hour later, Scully was sandwiched on the couch between two women about her own age. Nadine and Rebekah had been good friends of hers in college, but she had not seen them in a couple years. She knew Nadine was married with two small children and Rebekah was engaged. Looking down at her own swollen fingers, Scully wondered if a ring would ever grace them. Probably not. She and Mulder had discussed their options and decided that it was simply too dangerous to get married.

"So, Dana, are you ever going to get out of this apartment?" Nadine asked, tucking her bleached blond hair behind her ear. "I don't think it's big enough for two babies."

"We're working on fixing up a house not to far from here," Scully said. It had been a house Mulder inherited from his father that the family had not lived in for years. Although there were numerous problems, Mulder, the Gunmen, and a couple of contractors had been working on it for three months, and it was nearly finished. Mulder refused to let her see it until he had completed all the work, but he did let her pick out the new flooring and paint, claiming that she had a better eye for those things than he did. He was right, too; if she had left the decision up to Mulder, they probably would have ended up with lime green walls in every room of the house.

"Oh, so there is a we," Rebekah prodded with her eyebrows raised.

Scully gave no response, choosing instead to take another sip of her drink.

"What's his name?" Nadine asked.

"Whose name?"

"The father of these two, of course." Nadine poked her stomach, a gesture Scully found rather annoying. She never understood people's need to touch her pregnant belly, and she wished that people did not assume that pregnancy automatically gave them permission to lay their hands on her stomach whenever they wanted.

"I'd rather not discuss that right now."

"You'd rather not discuss it? Dana, I've known you for almost fifteen years now, and the last serious boyfriend you had was Daniel. You've never talked about anyone else. So, who got you into this?" Still, Scully was silent, so Nadine plowed on. "What I find most interesting is that you were always so careful with everything, always planned everything years in advance. So, how did you end up getting yourself pregnant? I assume it wasn't planned."

"It wasn't expected. But it's something I've wanted for awhile now."

"And the father? Is he in the picture?"

Scully closed her eyes, trying to think of the best way to answer without causing them to ask any more questions. Before she could speak, however, a familiar voice interrupted her. "Scully, Frohike somehow managed to lose my only Phillips head screwdriver, so I was wondering if I could borrow yours. And did you know your door's unlocked? You really shouldn't-"

Fox Mulder broke off suddenly as he noticed the gaggle of women sitting in Scully's living room. A few of them scanned his tanned, well-muscled frame interestedly. "Sorry. Guess I should've knocked,"

he said.

"Let me see if I can find it." Scully slowly rose to her feet, ignoring the looks she was receiving from the other women. She walked into the kitchen, and Mulder trailed slightly behind her.

"So, how come I didn't get invited to the party?" he questioned once they were alone in the kitchen.

"It's a baby shower, Mulder."

"Well, that explains the Stepford Wives."

"Mulder, they're my friends." He raised an eyebrow, and she amended her statement. "Okay, they're my mom's friends and some people I used to know in college. You still shouldn't insult them."

"They can't hear me."

Scully shook her head as she opened one of the drawers to reveal a multitude of tools. "Here," she told him, handing him four different screwdrivers.

"You okay?" he asked, noticing the grim expression on her face.

"Yeah, I'm just a little tired. This isn't exactly how I imagined spending my Saturday afternoon."

"Well, I'd offer to let you come with me, but Frohike nearly cut Langley's hand off with the circular saw earlier, and Byers is at his wit's end trying to keep them from killing one another. It's not the most pleasant experience."

"You should probably get back there then."

"Yeah. Assuming I manage to keep all my limbs, I'll bring a pizza over later tonight. Any particular cravings today?"

"Spinach."

A look of disgust crossed Mulder's face, but he only said, "Spinach it is." He kissed her briefly on the lips before leaving the kitchen.

Fifteen sets of eyes followed him to the door. "Lock it," he instructed as Scully shut the door behind him. Sighing, she turned the lock, knowing he would never leave until she did. Suddenly, she threw open the door again and called to him.

"Mulder?"

He turned. "Yeah?"

"Pepperoni and black olives, too."

"Aye, aye, Captain."

When she rejoined the women in the living room, they all looked at her expectantly. "Well?" Nadine finally asked.

"Well what?"

"Was that him?"

"That was my partner, Fox Mulder."

"I remember you talking about him," Rebekah said. "But you never said he was hot."

"I believe she once told me he was cute," Ellen, another of Scully's old friends, remembered. "Though you also added that he was a jerk.

But I think I might be able to overcome a certain amount of jerkiness for him. I can see now why you never went on that second date with Rod." Scully sighed, wondering how long the party would last.

Three hours later, Scully, Maggie, and Ellen were cleaning up the living room. The other guests had already left, offering their congratulations to Dana and still questioning her about the identity of the father, a question she steadfastly refused to answer. As Maggie stuffed pale-colored gift wrap into a large garbage bag, she asked, "So, Dana, did you have fun."

"I did," Scully lied.

"That's good. I've always thought you've needed more female companionship."

"Is it safe to come in?" a voice called from the doorway.

"It's just me, Ellen, and Mom," Scully called back.

"I told you to lock this door, Scully."

"I did. But I unlocked it again when everyone was leaving." Scully looked up at him. His jeans were covered in dirt, and his dark brown hair was matted to his head with sweat. Streaks of mud covered his face. "What have you been doing?"

"Landscaping. Did you know how hard it is to dig up a stump?

Especially with two people who seem intent on committing homicide."

"Langley and Frohike were still going at it?"

"I was talking about me and Langley. Frohike nearly got my foot with that saw."

"Why did you give him the saw again?"

"I didn't." He ran a hand through his hair, and a rain of dirt fell to the floor. Scully watched it with an expression of distaste, but Mulder seemed oblivious. "I'm going to take a shower and get some clean clothes. The pizza guy should be here in about ten minutes. If I'm not out by then, my wallet's right here." He placed his wallet on a table beside the door before walking toward the bathroom.

"He doesn't seem like a jerk," Ellen observed.

"My initial judgment might have been a little... presumptuous."

"So, who are Langley and Frohike?" Maggie asked.

"They're a couple of Mulder's friends. I think I've told you about them, Mom."

"And why does he want to kill one of them?"

"He was just kidding. Frohike got a bit overzealous with the saw."

"So, is he the one, Dana?" Ellen questioned. Scully remained silent.

"Come on, Dana, we've been friends for years. You're the godmother to my son. The least you can do is to tell me if he's the father of your daughters."

"He is."

Ellen smiled. "With those genes, they're going to be beautiful."

Since Scully knew Mulder had ordered two large pizzas (he always did, claiming that doing so would provide breakfast, too), she invited Ellen and Maggie to stay for dinner, and they accepted her offer.

When Maggie opened the lid of the first pizza, she looked quizzically at Mulder. "Talk to her. That's what she wanted," Mulder said, pointing to Scully as he brought a large slice of his meat lover's pizza to his mouth.

"It sounded good," Scully said with a shrug.

"She has cravings for the weirdest mixes of pizza toppings," Mulder explained.

"You've liked some of them," Scully argued.

"I have not."

"Sure you have."

"Name one."

"Pepperoni, pineapple, and mushroom."

"That pizza in Georgia? That was seven months ago, and I was hungry enough that garbage probably would have tasted good."

"You ordered it the next time, too."

"Because I thought you would like it."

"You're impossible."

"So I've been told."

Ellen turned to Maggie. "Do they always do this?"

"Most of the time. You get used to it. That's just Fox and Dana."

"Did you read over that case I gave you?" Mulder questioned.

"I did. I see nothing anomalous about it. It's not an X-file."

"Not an X-file? Scully, a woman came back from the dead."

"She did not come back from the dead. I suspect her body systems were simply functioning on such a low level that the doctors pronounced her dead when she was, in fact, still alive. It's happened before."

"Yeah, back in the old days when they had no modern technology and people relied on bells hanging above their graves to save them from being buried alive. But today, we can be pretty sure that people we pronounce dead are dead."

"For all intensive purposes, she might have been dead, but biologically, she was likely still alive."

"What is she? Schrodinger's cat?"

"What are you two talking about?" Ellen inquired.

"Quantum mechanics," Mulder answered without missing a beat. "So, what is it, Scully? Is the cat dead or alive?"

"I'd have to examine the woman to tell you anything more."

"That can be arranged."

"Okay, you two, no discussing work at the dinner table," Maggie told them.

"We're not discussing work. We're discussing the possibility of a quantum superposition of coexisting alive and dead states. Am I right, Scully?"

Scully glared at him. "Sorry, Mom, Mulder doesn't always know when to leave well enough alone." Mulder smirked at her.

"I'm sorry, I'm completely lost," Ellen said.

"Don't worry about it. It's not important," Scully told her.

"Not important? Scully, I think the question of whether one is dead or alive is perhaps the most important question of all," Mulder remarked.

"Mulder," Scully warned.

"Fine. I'll drop it. I'm going to get something to drink. Anyone else want anything?"

"I'll have some tea," Scully told him.

"Tea sounds good," Ellen agreed.

"I'm fine," Maggie assured him.

When he had left the room, Ellen turned back to Scully. "Cute, smart, attentive. Tell me again why you didn't jump this guy years ago Dana."

"Because we were partners. The FBI's pretty clear that the relationship between partners should be purely platonic.

"Your relationship's certainly not platonic now."

"No, it isn't."

"We're out of iced tea. I'm going to go down to the corner store to pick some up," Mulder announced, emerging from the kitchen.

"Mulder-" Scully began, but he anticipated her request.

"Napkins, bread, and milk. I've got it."

"You found the list?"

"Yep." He held up the small slip of paper before walking out the door.

Ellen left a couple hours later, promising to meet up with Scully sometime soon. Maggie fussed a bit more about the stress her daughter was putting on herself before also leaving. Mulder tossed the pizza boxes in the trashcan and loaded the used glasses before joining Scully on the living room couch. "Did you enjoy your party?" he questioned.

"Ugh," Scully answered simply.

He chuckled. "That bad, huh?"

"I'm beginning to wonder why I was ever friends with some of these women. Their favorite topic seemed to be what was happening on the latest television shows. They have no concept of reality; to them, life is just one long episode of ‘It's a Wonderful LIfe.' I don't think I had a single intelligent conversation."

"Next party you have, make sure to invite me. I'll make sure to keep your brilliant mind occupied with a stimulating discussion of Schrodinger's cat. Or, if you're really ambitious, we can debate the scientific nature of the whammy."

Scully smiled slightly. "This wasn't my party, Mulder. This was my mom's party. I didn't even know about it until I walked in the door.

When I came home and found the door unlocked, I thought that someone was searching my house again; I actually burst in with my gun drawn."

Mulder snorted. "I would have paid to see that."

"I'm sure you would have." Scully groaned and rested her head in the crook of Mulder's arm which he had spread across the back of the sofa. "I know my mom was just doing what she thought was best for me.

I just wish she'd realize that I'm not like most other people; I don't need a roomful of female friends to talk to about television shows and dream weddings. I'd rather just have a few close friends who don't expect me to be anything but what I am."

"Scully, I don't want you to be anything but what you are. You're perfect."

"Nothing's perfect, Mulder."

"Sure it is if you look at it in the right way."

"Whatever."

"You're giving up just like that? You must be tired."

"Mmfh." She turned her head, burying her face against his bicep.

Mulder moved away from her, and she protested for a moment before he gently pulled her head into her lap, allowing her to stretch out across the sofa. His hands began to stroke her sleek, red hair, soothing her. Gradually, she began to relax.

"We should be done with the house in two weeks," Mulder announced.

"That's good. I'm not going to find any bloody limbs in it, am I?"

"With our luck, I wouldn't be so sure."

"Well, I'm not autopsying them if we do."

"And after I went to so much trouble to have a special autopsy bay installed in the basement so you could work whenever you want to."

"You mean whenever you want me to."

"You enjoy it. You've been begging me to let you work for weeks."

"Because I'm bored here. There's nothing to do."

"You have your medical journals."

"I've read them all."

"Learn a new language."

"Why?"

"Why not? I would suggest Russian. It would make life much easier for me if I had a translator I could actually trust." His hand was now rubbing her scalp gently, and her eyelids slowly closed as her drowsiness increased. After a couple minutes of silence, she groaned and opened her eyes again. "What's wrong?" Mulder asked.

"I have to use the bathroom."

"Then go."

"I'm comfortable here."

"I'll still be here when you get back. Scout's honor."

"You were never a boy scout, Mulder."

"Actually, I was. Twelve years. I have an eagle scout badge somewhere."

"I've never seen it."

"It's probably in a box of old keepsakes in storage somewhere."

"I still don't believe you."

"Didn't you have to pee?" Scully gave an incomprehensible reply before rolling off the couch. Her large stomach left her with little ability to move gracefully, and she nearly toppled over when her feet hit the ground. Mulder's arm reached out to steady her, but she shook it away and righted herself unaided before waddling to the bathroom.

One of the things she hated most about her pregnancy, other than her frequent bathroom trips, was the fact that she could no longer walk anywhere. No, every time she tried to move, she waddled. She felt like a penguin.

When she returned to the living room, Mulder was still sitting on the couch as promised. He had turned the television on and was watching a show she did not recognize with the volume turned down low. Scully lowered herself onto the couch beside him, feeling the cushions dip low under her weight. Somehow, she managed to maneuver her feet onto the sofa so that she was lying on her side with her head in Mulder's lap facing the television screen. His placed the arm not holding the remote on top of her side so that his hand rested at her waist. His fingers pushed the fabric of her shirt up enough to give them access to bare skin which he began to rub aimlessly. In no time, Scully had returned to her catatonic state.


When Scully awoke Sunday morning, she was in her own bed. She was not entirely sure how she had arrived there; the last thing she remembered was relaxing on the couch the previous night. She supposed Mulder had carried her to their bed; he had done so before, but she had assumed that her additional pregnancy weight might make such a feat impossible. Yet she had learned that with Mulder, there was very little that was impossible.

She carefully extricated herself from the tangle of bedsheets and stopped by the bathroom before waddling into the kitchen. There was coffee—still warm—in the coffeepot by the sink with a sticky note attached that read "Decaf." Scully smiled slightly at this note. Of course it was decaf. They had not had anything but decaf in the Apartment since they first found out she was pregnant despite her insistence that consuming under 200mg of caffeine a day would not harm the babies.

Scully walked to the refrigerator and found a second sticky note that read "I got you coffee; you can make your own breakfast." This time, she laughed out loud. A few months before, Mulder had decided it would be fun to leave little messages on sticky notes throughout the Apartment for her. It had quickly become a tradition for them, one that Scully greatly enjoyed despite having to buy sticky notes in bulk. It helped when Mulder was out of town on a case. He would spend a good deal of time hiding the notes, so she never knew where she might find them. It was almost like having him there with her.

When she opened the fridge, she found another note that read "Just kidding. I'll pick something up on my way home. Bagels okay?" Scully grabbed the milk, still grinning. She glanced up at the clock above the table and saw a fourth note that read simply "Around 8:00." It was 7:50 currently, so Scully expected Mulder back at any time.

Taking a sip of her coffee, she settled onto one of the kitchen chairs to wait.

"Have a nice run?" she called out when she heard the door open fifteen minutes later. Mulder entered the kitchen wiping sweat from his face with his t-shirt.

"Not bad. I brought food." He held up a paper bag.

"You said you would."

"Well, I'm a man of my word." He set the bag on the table and grabbed a bottle of water from the fridge. Sinking into a chair across from her, he drained half the bottle in a single gulp. Wiping the excess water from his mouth with the back of hand, he turned to Scully who had already selected a bagel from the bag. "Hungry?"

"Starved."

"When aren't you?"

"I'm eating for three."

"Which is why I got six bagels."

"Mom wants me to go to church with her today."

"Am I expected to be there too?"

"Only if you want. I know you're not religious."

Mulder considered her for a minute, taking another long swallow of his water. "Well, you don't believe in aliens and yet you still follow me halfway across the country chasing them. I guess the least I can do is go to church with you and your mother. Just promise me that I won't be lectured about living in sin."

Scully laughed. "Don't worry. Father McCue's actually pretty easygoing. I think you're going to like him."

"We'll see."

An hour later, Mulder and Scully were both standing outside the large brick church. Mulder had donned slacks, a button-down shirt, and a tie at Scully's insistence, but the tie was already loose around his neck, revealing the unbuttoned top button, and the cuffs of his shirt were rolled up. "So, how long does this thing usually last anyway?"

Mulder questioned, holding the doors to the church open for her.

"About an hour or so. Feel free to leave if you don't think you can spend that much time here." Her tone was caustic.

"No, I'm staying. I was just wondering."

"Uh-huh." Scully still sounded skeptical.

"Hey, Scully." Mulder stopped her by grabbing her upper arm. She turned to face him, and he cupped her chin, bringing her eyes up to meet his. "If this is important to you, it's important to me. Okay?"

He held her gaze, willing her to understand that he was telling the truth. Eventually, she nodded slightly and turned toward the sanctuary. Mulder let out a sigh of relief. She believed him.

The priest stood at the door to the sanctuary, greeting the parishioners as they walked inside. He greeted Scully warmly, clasping one of her hands between both of his wrinkled ones and asking about the babies. When he saw Mulder standing beside her, his eyebrows shot up. "Ah, is this the elusive Mulder I hear so much about?" he questioned.

"It is," Scully confirmed.

"It's a pleasure to meet you," Mulder said, holding out his hand.

"No, the pleasure's all mine. It's nice to finally meet the man who's stolen Dana's heart. You better take care of her. She's very special."

"I know that."

Father McCue turned to greet some people behind them, and Mulder walked with Scully down the aisle, his hand at the small of her back but still allowing her to lead the way. "You two seem to know each other well," he observed.

"I've gone to this church for fifteen years. I also dated his nephew for awhile in high school."

"By nephew, you mean-"

"His brother's son," Scully said.

"I was just asking. There were a number of priests in the old days who would take in their illegitimate children and call them nephews.

Some still do."

"Mulder, I would appreciate it if you did not insult the leaders of my religion while we are at church."

"Sorry." Mulder followed her into a pew on the right side of the church near the middle. Looking to the end of the pew, he saw that Maggie Scully was already sitting there, flipping through the hymnal.

She looked up when she heard them approach.

"Fox, I didn't expect you to come," Maggie said, the surprise evident on her face.

"Well, I thought it would be a nice change for me."

"It's good to have you here," Maggie told him.

"Thanks." He took a seat beside Scully, draping his arm across the back of the pew behind her. Scully sat her purse on the floor before turning back toward the aisle.

"I need to use the restroom before the service," she explained as she squeezed past Mulder's knees and out of the pew.

The service was relatively uneventful. Mulder behaved better than Scully had expected; he only made one disparaging remark, and it was not even directed at religion—rather, it was directed at the woman in the pew to his left that continued to glance over at him. Scully was tempted to make a few comments of her own about the woman's audacity.

Mulder also corrected the priest's quotation of a Bible verse during his sermon; luckily, he did so quietly, so only Scully heard his comment. She looked at him in surprise, and he shrugged. "Just because I don't believe it doesn't mean I don't like some of the quotes from the Bible," Mulder explained.

Evidently, that Sunday was special for some reason that Mulder could not understand, but they were having a picnic after the service to celebrate. Maggie insisted that both Mulder and Scully attend, so the two agents grudgingly followed her to the field behind the church where many of the other parishioners were already loitering, talking about the sermon and the events of the week. One of Maggie's friends called her over, so she left Mulder and Scully standing on the fringes of the mass of people, instructing them to "mingle."

"I'm not a big fan of mingling," Mulder remarked as Maggie disappeared into the crowd of people. He eyed the well-dressed men and women warily as if afraid one of them might suddenly attack him.

"Neither am I," Scully admitted. "So what do we do?"

"Well, we can stand here like the antisocial outcasts we are and watch as other people mingle." A grin tugged at Scully's lips.

"You're the antisocial one, Mulder."

"You drew a gun at your baby shower."

"I knew I shouldn't have told you that."

"I would've found out eventually."

Before Scully could respond, Maggie waved her over, and she turned to Mulder with a sigh. "Looks like I'm being summoned."

"Have fun. And I would recommend not drawing your gun on any unsuspecting churchgoers, no matter how threatening they look."

"Why would I bring my gun to church?"

"No reason." He shrugged, and Scully could tell immediately that he was up to something. She had learned to read his hazel eyes as well as the English language.

"Mulder, please tell me you didn't bring your gun to church." He was silent, and Scully stared at him incredulously. "What would ever possess you to do that?"

"I just want to make sure we're safe. Our enemies aren't going to stop just because we're in a church. I have a feeling these people have about as much respect for organized religion as they do for federal laws. Besides, it's only my ankle holster, and it's well hidden." Scully simply shook her head at him.

"Dana, you remember Mary Lou, don't you?" Maggie asked, suddenly appearing beside them and cutting off their argument.

"Yes," Scully lied, taking the older woman's hand as she desperately tried to place her. She smelled strongly of lavender, and Scully had to work to keep her breathing shallow so that she would not gag.

"And this is Dana's husband, Fox," Maggie introduced. Both Scully and Mulder turned to her, identical expressions of shock on their faces.

Husband? They were not married. They had explained to Maggie that they could not marry for risk of drawing too much attention to themselves. What was she playing at?

"It's a pleasure to meet you," Mary Lou said, her voice barely audible over the cacophony of noise surrounding them. Mulder took her hand automatically, still staring dumbly ahead as he wondered if he had heard Maggie correctly. They talked for a few minutes—actually, Maggie and Mary Lou talked for a few minutes, for Mulder and Scully were still too stunned to do anything but give perfunctory answers—before Mary Lou saw another acquaintance and left.

"Husband, Mom?" Scully questioned once the older woman was out of earshot.

"Well, what else am I supposed to say?" Maggie questioned. "You two keep calling yourselves ‘partners,' but it's clear you're more than that." She gestured to Scully's distended stomach.

"This is about propriety, isn't it?"

"No, of course not!"

"Then why did you tell everyone we were married?"

"Would you rather I have told them he was your boyfriend?"

"No," Scully answered quickly. She disliked the word ‘boyfriend' because it made their relationship sound too superficial. They were not simply boyfriend and girlfriend—they meant so much more to each other than that.

"Exactly. So since I can't use boyfriend, what am I supposed to say?"

"Partner, Mom."

"Dana, I don't know what you think the meaning of the word ‘partner' is, but most people don't think it means... that." Again, her hand motioned to Scully's stomach.

"So everyone here thinks we're married?" Scully questioned.

"Most people, yes," Maggie admitted.

"Well, that explains the lack of disparaging remarks," Mulder said lightly.

"Dana, could you please do me a favor and just go with this?"

Scully sighed. "Okay, Mom, but that doesn't mean I'm happy about it."

"Thank you." With that, Maggie left.

"I can't believe she did that!" Scully exclaimed.

"Sure you can. She has a point, you know. What other choice did she have? I mean, it was either husband or my fallback answer."

"One in five billion?" Scully smiled. "Now, that could have been interesting. I would have liked to see some of these people's reactions if she told them that."

Mulder also smiled and took her hand, bringing it to his lips. "Come on, Mrs. Mulder, it'll be just like we're undercover."

"I'm not taking your name."

"Of course not."

A woman about Scully's age approached the two at that moment. "Dana, I thought I recognized you!" she exclaimed. Scully looked away from Mulder to stare at the newcomer. She recognized the blond hair and green eyes, but it took a moment for her to remember a name.

"Jenn, I haven't seen you in awhile," she finally remarked.

"Your mother says you work for the FBI now," Jenn said.

"I do."

"That's quite a change from becoming a doctor."

"It is, but I enjoy it."

"It looks like there's been some other changes in your life, too."

Jenn's eyes traveled to Scully's stomach and then up to Mulder who had finally dropped Scully's hand and was now standing stoically beside her, his arms crossed.

"Some. Jenn, this is my... husband." She faltered a bit over the title, but she thought it came out sounding believable. She was debating what name to give him when he solved the dilemma by extending a hand.

"Mulder," he introduced.

"That's an unusual name," Jenn remarked.

"Trust me, you don't know the half of it."

"So, when are you due, Dana?"

"One month."

"At least you don't have to go through the summer months. I hear that's the worst."

"I can imagine it would be." Dana sighed and looked around. She doubted that her mother would allow her to leave the picnic anytime soon, so she might as well try to make small talk. "So, how have you been?"

"Not bad. I'm engaged now." She held up a finger with a ring. Scully realized with a jolt that she and Mulder were not wearing rings.

Surely it would seem odd to people for a married couple not to wear their rings. Of course, Scully was beyond caring what other people thought of her. It was her mother's idea to tell everyone they were married; Scully was simply tagging along for the ride.

"Congratulations."

They talked for a few more minutes before she left to find her fiancé. At Mulder's suggestion, they grabbed some food and chose a quiet corner of the field to eat. Unfortunately, the tranquility did not remain for long; Maggie soon joined them, bringing with her a number of old acquaintances. Scully talked politely with them, but Mulder remained unusually quiet, staring across the field at something no one but him could see. Eventually, one of the women decided to drag him into the conversation by asking, "So, what do you do?"

Well, that was a loaded question. Mulder remembered a drunken explanation of his work that he had given to a bartender a year before and thought about using the same response. Unfortunately, Maggie was sitting right next to him, and he wanted to remain in her good graces as long as possible. With his own mother conspicuously absent from his life, it was nice to have a motherly figure around.

"I work for the FBI," he finally answered. Unfortunately, this answer merely brought more questions until Mulder finally looked ready to draw his gun and shoot someone. Deciding that he had endured enough torture for one day, Scully turned to her mother.

"I enjoyed this, Mom, but Mulder and I really need to get going now."

"Are you sure you can't stay longer, Dana?"

"No, we have a lot of things to do at home."

"Okay. I'll see you later this week."

"Bye, Mom." Scully gave her mother an awkward hug before taking the hand Mulder offered and using it to pull herself to her feet.

Although she usually refused his chivalrous offers of help, she had found that it was virtually impossible to rise from the ground without the support of something at this stage of her pregnancy.

As they walked back to the car, Mulder put his arm around Scully's waist. "This whole mingling thing, Scully? I hate it."

"You'll get no argument from me there."

"Next church function, I say we both bring our guns and wear them at our hips. Maybe people will stay away from us then."

"You are never bringing a gun to a church function again."

"Why not?"

"I'm afraid you'll shoot someone."

"Give me some credit, Scully. I wouldn't shoot anyone." He thought for a moment before adding, "Okay, maybe that ditzy blond."

"Let's go home before you wind up in jail."

After dropping Scully off at the Apartment, Mulder left to continue work on the house, promising to be home by dinnertime. A quick nap left Scully feeling unusually energetic, so she decided to cook a nice meal for the two of them that night. Finding her fridge woefully empty, she left for the grocery store. Since she had started living with Mulder (sort of; they had never truly decided to move in together—it was more of an unspoken agreement that he should spend most nights at her house. He still had the lease on his apartment, but it was up at the end of the month, and he had mentioned that he thought it would be a waste of money to renew it. She had agreed), she could never seem to keep food in the refrigerator. She had always assumed that guys never had food in their fridge simply because they were too lazy to go to the store, but she had learned that while that might be partially true, the main reason was because they ate anything and everything in sight.

As Scully pushed the cart down the aisle and selected the groceries they would need for the week, she let her thoughts wander. Just as it had quite often over the past few weeks, her mind settled on the babies growing inside her. She had never truly thought about having children until she had found Emily, and by that time, she did not think it was possible to have children. Yet her she was, a month away from giving birth to twin girls. It was surreal, too good to be true.

She kept expecting to wake up and find that the last eight months had been a dream.

And if it was not a dream, she wondered how the children had come to be. She told Mulder that she did not want to search for the truth about the conception of their children, but part of her still wondered who might have had a hand in the creation of the miracles now growing in her stomach. Yes, the dates fit. But that still did not explain how a barren woman could suddenly bear children.

A woman's voice jarred her from her thoughts. "When are you due?" she asked excitedly as if she was having the babies and not Scully.

"In a month," Scully explained, turning to walk away from the woman.

She was tired of that particular question. She just wished people would leave her alone.

Luckily, this particular woman seemed to understand the message, and she left Scully to continue shopping in peace. A couple more people asked about her pregnancy, and she was grateful when she made her way to the checkout line. She could not wait to retreat to the privacy of her home.

When Mulder arrived home, he smelled garlic and another spice that he could not place but which instantly made his mouth water. "Something smells good," he remarked, entering the kitchen. Placing his hands on Scully's shoulders, he turned her so that he could give her a long, open-mouthed kiss.

"I was bored, so I thought I'd make something nice," Scully explained when he finally pulled away. Mulder raised an eyebrow.

"If this is what you do when you're bored, I should try to make sure you're bored more often."

"Today's a special occasion," Scully told him.

"And what occasion is that?"

"You made it through your first church function without shooting someone."

"Now there's a reason to celebrate." He kissed her again before turning. "I'm going to take a shower and change."

"Okay. Dinner'll be ready in about twenty minutes."

After a wonderful meal, they did the dishes together despite Mulder's insistence that she sit down and let him handle them by himself. When they finished, they settled down in the living room to watch a movie.

Mulder lay on his side with Scully in front of him, pulled tightly against his body by one of his arms. The other hand played with her hair, dancing lightly across her scalp.

Halfway through the movie, Mulder leaned down and pressed his lips lightly against the back of Scully's neck. She moaned and arched into him. His body responded immediately to her move; he could feel his pants grow instantly tight. They had not made love in nearly a month.

The doctor had told them they could as long as they were careful, but Scully had never seemed to be in the mood, and Mulder had not pushed, unwilling to hurt her. Still, he was a red-blooded male, and he could not stop himself from responding to having a beautiful woman's body pressed against his own.

Closing his eyes and reciting baseball statistics, he pulled his lips from her neck and muttered, "Scully?"

"Hmm?"

"I think I need to get up."

"Why? I'm comfortable." She snuggled farther back against him, an action which certainly did not help matters. Mulder knew she was well aware of why he needed to get up and was simply teasing him.

"Scully." His voice was strained.

"As long as we're careful, it'll be fine," she assured him.

"You're sure?" Instead of responding in words, she took his hand which rested on her stomach and brought it to her mouth, gently taking one of his fingers between her lips. She sucked on it for a moment before circling it with her tongue and slowly pulling her lips away. Mulder groaned. Smiling, she repeated this action with his next finger. He responded by pressing his own lips against her shoulder blade, biting gently. Her teeth mimicked his, nipping the flesh of his finger. Before they went any further, however, he pulled away from her as much as the limited space on the couch would allow.

"Let's take this to the bedroom. I'm sure it'll be much more comfortable," he suggested. She nodded and clumsily stood. They made their way quickly to the bedroom. As soon as the door shut behind them, their lips found each other, and both collapsed onto the bed.


When Scully awoke the next morning, she heard water running in the bathroom. With some difficulty, she managed to roll over and sit up on the edge of the bed. Yawning, she rubbed sleep out of her eyes and glanced at the clock. It was already 7:15; she had overslept.

Actually, she corrected, she had not overslept, for she had nowhere that she needed to be. She had simply slept later than she normally did. This fact was of little comfort to her, however. Scully loved her routine. She thrived on it; always had, in fact. And while the X-Files had left her able to control little else in her life, she could at least control what time she woke up in the morning (for the most part). And now the pregnancy had left her unable to control even this simple aspect of her life. For some reason, this made her furious. And so she lashed out at the only person she could.

"Mulder, you turned the alarm off again!" she called irritably.

"I was already up. I didn't need it," his disembodied voice called back from the bathroom.

"What if I needed it?"

"Why would you need it? You don't have to be anywhere. Enjoy your ability to sleep in while it lasts. In a month, we won't be sleeping much at all."

"Mulder, even if I'm not going to work, I want to wake up at the same time every morning. It keeps me on a regular schedule, and I don't waste half the day sleeping."

Mulder emerged from the bathroom, his hair still dripping wet. He wore only his boxers and a white undershirt. "It's just after 7:00.

You haven't wasted half the day. Hell, the sun's barely up."

"If I hadn't waken up on my own, would you have woken me before you left?"

"Probably not. You need your sleep." He realized immediately that this was the wrong thing to say. Scully's eyes took on the fiery gleam he knew well. She stood, advancing on him. Although pregnant and barely 5'3", Mulder knew from experience that looks could be deceiving. She could have his ass in a sling before he even knew what hit him. Automatically, he took a step back toward the bathroom.

"What I need, Mulder, is for you to stop babying me and start treating me like a person instead of a damn incubator!"

"I'm sorry. I was just trying to be... nice," he finished lamely.

"Well, next time, be nice by leaving the alarm on instead of thinking only of yourself." With that, Scully turned and left the room. She was not exactly sure why she was angry, but she had learned during her pregnancy that the slightest offense would set her off. The alarm clock complaint was only one on a long list of the wrongdoings of Fox Mulder over the previous few months. Leaving the toilet seat up had been one of her biggest pet peeves though she had also chastised him for leaving his clothes lying around, forgetting to load a cup in the dishwasher before starting it, finishing the last of the ketchup, and a multitude of other offenses, some of which later seemed downright silly. He had tolerated her new nitpicking surprisingly well; although he usually would not admit defeat, he often apologized for whatever petty crime he had committed before trying his hardest to right it. If Scully was thinking clearly as she reprimanded him, she would have realized that this meekness gave an accurate picture of how much he loved her. If he was willing to deal with her hormonal outbursts, she had a feeling that they could make it through anything.

"Is it safe to come out now?" Mulder asked a couple minutes later, appearing at the doorway to the kitchen.

"Yeah. Sorry about earlier."

"Don't worry about it. I promise I won't touch the alarm clock again."

"You know I'm just-"

"Hormonal? Yeah, I think I got that." He approached the refrigerator and pulled out a carton of orange juice. He poured a glass for himself before pulling out a gallon of milk and adding pouring a glass for her, knowing the acid from the orange juice bothered her stomach. Sitting at the table with both drinks, he passed one to her before picking up the paper and skimming the headlines.

"Anything interesting?"

"Nothing about government conspiracies or alien colonization," he answered.

"Anything that I would find interesting?"

"The Dow Jones is up five points."

"Wonderful," she said dryly, reaching for the paper. He moved his hands, however, holding it out of her reach. "Mulder, let me see it."

"You can have it when I'm done."

"All you read are the comics and the sports section anyway."

"I'll have you know, I read every word on every page."

"Liar. Now, give it to me."

"Ask nicely."

"Mulder."

"That didn't sound too nice."

With a sigh of exasperation, she placed her hands on the table in front of her and pushed herself out of her chair, moving quickly forward. She reached for the paper again, but he moved it farther over his head with one hand while using the other to grasp her hip.

When she tried to lean over and grab it from him, he planted his lips firmly on hers, and her movements stopped. They kissed passionately for a minute or so before Scully's hand reached out again and pulled the paper from his clutches. "Got it," she said triumphantly, backing away.

"Take it. I've got to get to work anyway." He kissed her again before grabbing his jacket and gun and leaving.

Mulder found the office still locked when he reached it, and he fumbled for a moment with his key before managing to open the door.

Flipping the light switch, he glanced around the room, noticing the familiar "I Want to Believe" poster and various newspaper clippings which adorned the wall. He had also added a few pictures of Scully and him taken on cases. Scully had instructed him to take them down, but he had refused. He liked the pictures. They reminded him of what they had been through, how hard they had worked to reach the point where they stood today, both in their professional lives and in their personal ones.

Stepping forward, Mulder walked over to a picture taken a couple years before. He could not even remember what case they were investigating, for the picture could have easily depicted them during any of their cases. They were obviously arguing over something; Scully's mouth was partially open, and her eyes had the familiar glint that told Mulder she thought he was crazy and that she was about to give a rational, scientific explanation for the events. Her hands held a file folder, likely the data to back up whatever she was going to say. Mulder's hands held nothing; one rested on her shoulder, and he held the other in the air between them, using it to aid in his explanation of one of his theories. Anyone could tell simply by looking at the picture that they were close. They were comfortable with one another, comfortable with their arguments because they knew that at the end of the day, it was these arguments that helped them to solve cases. And it was also these arguments which helped them to achieve more together than either could alone.

"It's a nice picture. I don't understand why you have it hidden back in that corner," a scratchy voice remarked from behind Mulder. Mulder whirled around to see on older man standing in his doorway. Though his face was lined with age, he did not possess any of the frailty which often accompanied the passing of the years. He had too much power and influence to feel weak.

"What are you doing here, you cigarette-smoking son of a bitch?"

Mulder spat, advancing on the man. Instead of backing away in fear as most people would have done after seeing the fury in Mulder's eyes, the man simply lit a cigarette and placed it deliberately in his mouth. He blew out a lungful of smoke before speaking.

"I did not come here to harm you, Agent Mulder. Actually, I came to help."

Mulder had stopped moving toward the man and now stood a couple feet away, his body still quivering with murderous rage. "How could you possibly help me?"

"By warning you." The man took another long draw on his cigarette.

"The lives of your partner and her unborn children are in danger. You must leave immediately."

"What are you talking about?"

"I'm talking about saving your children. They are yours, aren't they, Fox ?" The man looked at Mulder who gave no answer. A small smile curved across his face. "I figured as much. I suppose it's only to be expected. Working so intimately with someone will inevitably lead to a deeper connection."

"Should I add psychologist to your ever-expanding repertoire of careers? Right next to assassin and conspirator."

"You and Agent Scully must go now or they may kill both of you."

"You keep saying that, but I still don't know who's trying to kill us or why."

"You know who's trying to kill you. As for why, all I can tell you is that those babies are extremely important to certain people. People who are willing to kill anyone who gets in their way."

"How could two unborn babies be important?"

"Because of what they are. Because of what they will become."

"My babies are completely normal. Completely human."

"You say that, but you yourself doubt it. You wonder how a previously barren woman might suddenly conceive not just one child but two. You worry what the implications of this pregnancy might be. Agent Scully does, too."

"If you harm my daughters, you son of a bitch-"

"You misunderstand me, Agent Mulder. I am not trying to harm your daughters. I'm trying to protect them. And you and Agent Scully." He paused to inhale the acrid smoke again. "Your babies may be human, but they are far from normal. You know that. You've known since the beginning even if you try to deny it. Those babies hold the key to the future, Agent Mulder. And a lot of people want that key."

"So what are we supposed to do?"

"Run. Find someplace remote to deliver the babies. Don't even think about going to a hospital; they'll find you there easily."

"And then what? Do we keep running? Are we going to be hiding from these people for the rest of our lives?"

"Wait at least a week after the babies are born. By that time, they will already have formed some attachment to you and Agent Scully, and it should be reasonably safe for you to emerge from hiding."

"What do you mean reasonably?"

"Agent Mulder, you have never been completely safe and will never be completely safe. You've made too many enemies. But if you do as I say, the threat should no longer be as great. As long as you're vigilant, you should be able to resume your lives."

"Why tell me this? Why warn me?"

"Let's just say I have a vested interest in this matter. For my own reasons." And with that, he was gone, leaving nothing but the smell of tobacco lingering in the office.

Mulder stood for a moment, staring at the spot the man had recently vacated. Over the years, he had received a number of cryptic warnings both from people he considered friends and people he considered enemies. He had learned that many of these warnings were alarmingly accurate, even those that came from people he did not trust in the least. As much as he hated to accept help from the Cigarette Smoking Man, he could not risk Scully's life or the lives of his babies because of his pride. And so he pulled out his phone and dialed the number of Scully's Apartment.

"Hello?" her voice asked after the second ring.

"Scully, it's me. I need you to pack up some clothes for both of us along with some of that stuff that people have been giving us for the babies. Also, grab anything you think might help during the delivery of the babies."

"What? Mulder, what's going on?"

"I'll explain later. Right now, I just need you to do what I asked.

I'll be there in thirty minutes to pick you up." With that, he hung up. He knew Scully was confused, but he also knew that she trusted him. She had enough faith in him to do as he asked, knowing that he was asking for a reason. At least, he hoped she did.

After Mulder hung up, Scully stared at the phone in her hand for a moment. He had had a number of strange requests of her over the years, but his most recent request was one of the oddest. Why would he want her to pack up stuff for the babies? They were not due for another month. And what was this business about taking what they needed for delivering the babies? Surely he was not planning on delivering them himself. She planned on being in a hospital when she gave birth.

Scully's indecision did not last long, however. She had learned over the years to trust Mulder's hunches and instincts even if they contradicted her judgment. If he thought that something was necessary, it likely was necessary even if she could not understand the reason at that moment. With a sigh, she turned and began to dig through the dresser drawers for some clothes.

As Mulder strode quickly out of the office, he nearly ran into another person. Side-stepping the figure at the last moment, he looked up into the face of Diana Fowley. "Fox, where are you going?"

she questioned.

"Home. There's something I have to do. Tell Skinner I won't be in today. Actually, I won't be in for about five weeks or so. Tell him I'll call him as soon as I can to explain."

"What? What's going on?"

"I can't tell you." He tried to move around her, but she stopped him by placing a firm hand on his shoulder.

"Fox, you can't just go off and leave me like this."

"Look, Diana, lives are in danger, and the longer you keep me here, the worse it's going to get. Now, I have to go." He moved forward again, knocking her hand off of his shoulder. He heard the click of her heels as she pursued him, but he ignored her and continued to take long strides to the elevator. She caught up with him as he waited for the elevator to arrive.

"Whatever it is, Fox, I'm going with you."

"No, you're not. You're going to stay here."

"I'm your partner."

"And as my partner, it is your duty to continue work on the X-Files while I'm gone." The elevator doors slid open. "Excuse me." Brushing past her, he stepped onto the elevator and rode to the parking deck.

Traffic was horrible, so it took Mulder nearly forty minutes to reach the Apartment. He had checked behind him countless times, and he was reasonably certain that he was not followed, but he was still extremely worried. As soon as he pulled into a spot next to the curb, he shut off the car and jogged into the building. When he reached the Apartment, he threw open the door, fearing the worst.

Scully heard the door open and walked into the living room, her hands on her hips. "Mulder, what is going on?" she asked again.

"I'll explain on the way. Did you pack everything?"

"I've got two large suitcases with some clothes for us," Scully said pointing.

"Good. What about the baby stuff?"

"I started getting some of it together, but I really don't see why we need it."

"Just trust me. Finish packing it and stuff for the delivery. I'm going to take these down to the car, and then I'll come back up and help you."

Scully wanted to question him further, to demand an explanation for his behavior, but one look at his face told her that it was not the time for explanations. He was agitated—extremely agitated. After all the dangerous situations they had been in together, it took a good deal to make him so anxious. Whatever was going on, it was serious.

Shutting her mouth, Scully disappeared into the bedroom to do as he asked.

"There's two portable cribs in the closet that my mom bought for us,"

Scully called over her shoulder. "Take those."

Mulder nodded dumbly and grabbed the suitcases and cribs before moving out of the Apartment and down to the car as fast as his large load would allow. He managed to fit both suitcases and the cribs into the trunk and shut it with a reassuring click. He had made it in time. They were both going to get out before anything happened.

As Mulder turned to make his way back to the Apartment, he saw something that nearly made his heart stop. A black SUV was pulling onto the street. In the driver's seat sat a man Mulder knew well.

Though he could easily morph into anyone, his current face was the one he adopted when not trying to masquerade as someone else. It had short brown hair, aquiline features, a wide brow, and dark eyes that appeared almost black. The Cigarette Smoking Man had not lied to him.

Though the reasons were still unclear, he and Scully were in grave danger.


Mulder turned and sprinted quickly back into the building. Instead of waiting for the elevator, he turned toward the stairs, slamming open the door and pounding up the steps two at a time. His breathing was labored, but this panting came from anxiety rather than exertion. He knew the bounty hunter was mere seconds behind him. He had precious little time to reach Scully and vacate their Apartment. He no longer cared about what she packed; all that was important was that they both make it out safely. He was not going to let her or the babies die.

Reaching the door, he again threw it open and ran immediately to the bedroom. Scully was standing next to an open suitcase on the bed, throwing in various baby items from a drawer. Another duffel already sat next to it, stuffed to the point where the seams appeared ready to burst. "We've got to go," Mulder told her. Scully turned to look at him. She took a single glance at the panic in his eyes and immediately dropped the items she was holding into the bag and zipped it closed. Mulder shouldered both bags as she reached for her badge, gun, and cell phone. "Leave the phone," Mulder told her, taking his own out of his pocket and tossing it onto the bed. She did as he asked, picking up only the badge and gun before following him out of the bedroom.

They strode quickly across the living room, neither speaking. When they reached the doorway, Mulder put out a hand to stop her before she walked out into the hallway. He peered through the slightly open doorway and saw the bounty hunter at the end of the hall striding purposefully toward their Apartment. "We can't go out that way," he whispered, closing and locking the door. Though he knew these implements would not stop the bounty hunter, he hoped they would slow him down.

"Fire escape," Scully said, moving to the back of the room. Mulder did not even ask if she could make it down; eight months pregnant or not, Scully would do what needed to be done to save her life and the lives of her babies. This time, Scully led the way across the room, sliding the glass door open, revealing a small porch. Mulder stepped out behind her, closing the door. There was little room to maneuver on the porch, especially with the two large duffels and Scully's rounded stomach, but Scully still managed to make it to the edge and carefully climb onto the metal ladder. The added weight sent it sliding down, and she gripped the rungs tightly as it extended. Once the motion stopped, she climbed down the remainder of the ladder, dropping into the alley below. Glancing up, she saw Mulder already descending, hampered slightly by the bags. In another few seconds, he had dropped beside her. Unfortunately, another figure appeared at the top of the ladder at that point. Without a second thought, Mulder and Scully ran toward the street just as the bounty hunter began to climb down the ladder.

In addition to being invincible, the bounty hunter was quick and agile; in no time at all, he reached the ground and began to race after the two FBI agents, gaining steadily. Mulder and Scully could hear the pounding of his feet on the cement behind them as he gained on them, but they pushed onward, coming out onto the street and turning right. Mulder knew no weapons would be effective against the bounty hunter; in fact, a gun shot would hinder Mulder himself more than his adversary. And so they had no choice but to run.

When they reached the car, Mulder yanked open his door and jumped inside, tossing the bags in the back in the process. He fumbled with his keys for a moment before finding the correct one and jamming it in the ignition. Scully was already in the passenger's seat by that time, her breathing heavy. Mulder hoped that the stress of their escape would not harm the babies. His intention had been to keep them from getting hurt.

Just as the engine turned, Mulder heard a loud crash and looked forward to see the bounty hunter crouched on the hood of his car, smiling slightly. He moved his hand toward the windshield as Mulder threw the gearshift into reverse and backed up a few feet. This movement threw the bounty hunter off slightly, and he moved his hands out to his sides, balancing himself. Unfortunately, it did not take him long to regain his balance. He moved his hand forward again, slamming his fist into the windshield. Glass shattered, raining down on Mulder who instinctively squeezed his eyes shut. He blindly put the car in drive again and pulled out into traffic, hearing a multitude of horns blaring at him. Luckily, no one hit him.

As Mulder slammed the gas pedal, the car shot forward, startling the bounty hunter who struggled to hold on. Mulder opened his eyes slightly and saw the green blood oozing from the cuts on the man's arm. He tried not to breathe, knowing the harm that could come from that blood. He glanced at the traffic around him, hoping to swing quickly into another lane and possibly unbalance the bounty hunter.

"Watch out!" Scully called suddenly. He looked forward to see the bounty hunter had adjusted his position for more stability. His hand was reaching through the smashed glass, dangerously close to Mulder's neck. With a curse, Mulder swung the wheel to the right, turning sharply into a small alleyway. The tires skidded in protest at the sudden change in direction, and Scully feared for a moment that they were going to hit the brick wall that bordered the alley. At the last minute, Mulder managed to pull the car out of the skid.

Unfortunately, although the turn did unbalance the bounty hunter slightly, it did not knock him off the hood of the car. He merely gripped the jagged edge of the glass, heedless of the deep gouges it cut into his skin. Using this as a support, he righted himself and reached for Mulder once more.

"Why won't you die, you son of a bitch?" Mulder asked, swinging the wheel to the left. The bounty hunter slid, his legs falling off the hood of the car. Mulder allowed the car to travel farther to the left so that it came within inches of the brick wall. The rear view mirror snapped off, bouncing against the side of the car. The front bumper ground against the brick wall, and Mulder steered the car straight again, bringing it parallel to the wall with less than four inches of space between the metal door of the car and the wall. Though the bounty hunter was invincible, even he could not hold on to a moving vehicle when smashed between a wall and a car. With a scream of rage, his fingers slipped from the car, and he fell to the ground. Mulder felt a bump as the car traveled over the body, but he did not stop to investigate. He did not doubt that the bounty hunter would be rising to his feet to pursue them once more.

They came to the end of the alley, and Mulder again took a hard right, merging into traffic amidst the blaring of horns. He imagined that they must make quite the sight for passing motorists. The car was missing its left rear view mirror along with a good portion of the paint on the front end. The bumper hung off dangerously, but Mulder did not dare to stop to fix this problem. There could be more bounty hunters already on their way; he and Scully needed to disappear.

Fast.

They drove for a couple minutes in a tense silence, but the bounty hunger did not reappear. Leaning his head back against the seat, Mulder coasted to a stop at a red light. "That was a bit too close,"

he remarked.

"So are you going to tell me what's going on now?"

The cars in front of Mulder began moving, and he followed as he began to explain. "I was approached by Cancer Man today. He told me that you and our babies were in danger and that we needed to leave immediately."

"In danger from whom?"

"He never said directly, but I'm going to guess it's probably the Syndicate."

"How do they even know about the babies?"

"I have a feeling they've been keeping close tabs on us since we first started on the X-Files. I wouldn't be surprised if they knew about the babies before we did."

"You think they did this? Are these babies just another one of their experiments?" Scully's hand curved protectively around her stomach.

Mulder shook his head slowly. "I don't think so. I think these babies were conceived in the normal way. Cancer Man told me they were human."

"Then why kill them?"

"They don't want to kill them. They want them alive."

"Why?"

"That I don't know. All Cancer Man told me was that they were important to the future."

"That doesn't make any sense!"

"Trust me, I know. I can't figure it out either. But right now, I'm more concerned with keeping all four of us safe. We can figure out the why later."

"Mulder, we can't hide forever! Is this just going to become one giant Sisyphean undertaking, moving from one place to another every week or so as we try to outrun the Syndicate and the bounty hunters?"

"Cancer Man told me that we just have to hide out until a week after the babies are born. Then it should be safe for us to go back to our lives."

"And you trust him?"

"Of course not. I figure that I'll resume work a week after the babies are born while you remain in hiding. If no one tries to harm me, you can come out of hiding. We'll have to watch our backs, of course, but I think we can do it. What we need to worry about now is how to survive the next five weeks."

"Wait, Mulder, when you say go into hiding for the next five weeks..."

"You're not going to be able to deliver in a hospital," Mulder confirmed, knowing her concerns though she never said them aloud.

"What? That's crazy! We need trained medical personnel present during the birth. There are countless complications that could occur."

"Scully, we have no choice. Cancer Man said they'd find us if we went to a hospital and even if I don't trust the bastard as far as I can throw him, I'm inclined to believe him on this one. Especially after what just happened."

"Then who's going to deliver the babies?"

Mulder gave a small smile. "The Lamaze instructor did say that fathers should take an active part in the birthing process."

"Mulder, you can't be serious."

"You don't think I can deliver these babies?"

"Mulder, you're not a doctor."

"But you are. You can help me."

"I don't think I'll be in the proper state of mind to help you while I'm in labor."

"Fine. Then I'll stop at a bookstore and get some books on delivering babies. I'll learn everything I can so I can keep you and these babies safe. I know it's not ideal, Scully, but we can do it. We have to."

Scully sighed. "You better read every word in those books."

Scully fell asleep a few miles outside of DC. Mulder looked over at her curled figure and smiled slightly. He knew she had been tired lately; she insisted on waking up at the crack of dawn even though the babies kept her up late at night. She claimed that she did not want to deviate from her regular routine. Mulder wished she would learn to take it easy and enjoy her time off from work.

Noticing the fuel gauge was hovering near empty, he exited the next chance he had and pulled into a small gas station. Leaning over, he pressed a light kiss to her temple, careful not to disturb her, before exiting the car and walking to the pump. As the gas flowed into the tank, he walked to the front of the car to examine the bumper. It was only connected to the car on the far right side; the rest of it hung from the car, dragging across the ground. Mulder was surprised it had not broken off completely. Sighing, he walked over and yanked on it a couple times before it came off completely.

Glancing at it, he saw that it was twisted out of shape on the left side. He doubted that it was salvageable.

After tossing the bumper to one side, Mulder walked back to the gas pump which had cut off. He replaced the nozzle and the gas cap before walking inside to pay. He browsed the small store for a moment, selecting a couple diet sodas, a bag of sunflower seeds, and a pack of cookies that looked like Oreos. After paying for his purchases and the gas, he left the store.

Five hours later, Scully finally awoke. Blinking, she sat up and glanced around. "Where are we?" she asked.

"North Carolina," Mulder answered.

"How long have I been out?"

"About six hours."

"I guess that explains why I'm so hungry."

"I'll stop at the next exit. There's some cookies in the cup holder to tide you over until then," Mulder said, pointing. With a smile, Scully retrieved the cookies and gratefully tore open the package.

Pulling one out, she twisted off the top and began to eat the chocolate cookie.

"So where are we going?" she asked as she finished the top cookie and took a bite of the bottom one which was covered in icing.

"I don't really know. I want to go someplace pretty deserted. I was thinking of going somewhere in the Midwest."

"Then why are we heading south?"

"To throw them off the trail. I'm going to need to stop at a bank sometime and get some more cash and they'll be able to find me then.

Also, we need to get a new car."

"We have some cash. I threw the emergency money in one of the bags,"

Scully told him as she began on her second cookie.

Mulder looked at her in amazement. "I love you, Scully."

"I know."

"So we have about $1500 currently. I figure I can take out a little bit more to hold us for five weeks."

"If you're really going to deliver the babies, we're also going to have to stop somewhere and get some more supplies. I didn't have time to pack everything we would need."

"Okay. But we can probably wait for a bit to do that." Mulder saw a sign for an exit and turned on his right blinker, pulling off the interstate. He stopped at a small diner that looked strikingly familiar. Though they had never been to this particular diner before, they had been to so many like it over the years that they had all begun to look alike. The food also tasted eerily similar—greasy, lukewarm, and likely to clog one's arteries after a single bite. But with a limited budget and limited options in the rural area, they would have to settle for the diner.

They ate their meal quickly, not speaking much as they downed the unappetizing food without truly tasting it. Both were still processing the series of events which had brought them to where they were. Their future was now more uncertain than ever, and they were scared though neither would voice these fears aloud. How could they run from an invincible enemy with immeasurable power?

Mulder paid in cash, wanting to leave as small a trail as possible.

They walked out to the car together, not touching but close enough that they could gather strength from the other's presence. Whatever dangers they might have to face, both were happy that they would not have to face them alone.

Mulder had almost reached the Georgia border by the time he pulled off the highway to find somewhere to stop for the night. He likely could have continued to drive through the night, for he was not feeling a bit tired, but he could tell Scully was uncomfortable, and he wanted her to be able to get a good night's sleep. Besides, he knew that his enemies' power reached across the entire United States.

Driving for another four or five hours that night was not going to help to prevent them from being found. He could stop in one place for a short period of time.

They pulled into a run-down motel with a neon sign that declared it had a vacancy. Mulder paid for one room in cash, accepting the key which the grizzled manager handed him. It was odd to be only renting one motel room, for even after he and Scully had begun to explore other aspects of their relationship, they had continued to rent two rooms to keep up appearances. But he had no appearances to worry about now. They were no longer FBI agents; they were simply two expectant parents who were trying to do what was best for their children.

Mulder hauled the bags with their clothes into the rooms, leaving the baby stuff in the car. As soon as he set the bags on the floor, he turned to Scully. "Why don't you go take a shower?" he suggested.

"I'm going to go get some ice and see if I can find a soda machine or something."

"Okay," she agreed, a bit tired. Though she had slept in the car, the constant anxiety was wearing on her already fatigued body, exhausting her quickly. She was worried and frightened, and these two emotions weakened her somewhat.

"I'll be back soon." He left, taking the key and locking the door behind him. It seemed silly considering they were in the middle of nowhere and he was just walking a few feet away, but both knew this action was necessary. They could not become careless.

Scully opened her bag and dug through it for a moment before discovering her favorite light blue silk nightgown. It was loose enough that it still fit despite her pregnancy weight though it was tight across her stomach. Carrying it and her toiletries into the bathroom, she sat on the edge of the tub and began to run the water, testing its temperature with her hand. When she was satisfied, she stood and quickly stripped off her clothes which felt grubby from travel. Stepping under the warm stream of water, she closed her eyes, feeling the sweat and dirt wash off her body. The warm water soothed her, and she felt herself relaxing for the first time since she had received Mulder's frantic phone call that morning.

When she finally stepped out of the shower, she was feeling considerably better. She twirled her hair in the towel, arranging it on the top of her head before carefully slipping on her nightgown and underwear. Exiting the bathroom, she found Mulder in the center of the queen-sized bed watching television. He had already pulled off his clothes, so he was wearing nothing but a pair of gray boxers. He looked up when he heard the door open and gave her a small smile.

"Feel better?"

"Much."

"Well, I couldn't find any chocolate milk, so you're going to have to settle for diet coke," he said, indicating two cans on the nightstand beside him.

"That's fine." Scully walked over and grabbed one of the cans, opening it. After taking a long swallow, she set it back beside the other and moved across the room to retrieve her comb from her bag.

When she finished her nightly ablutions, she settled into the bed beside Mulder. He had already finished his soda and brushed his teeth, and he smelled of wintergreen. Scully inhaled deeply before moving closer to him, putting an arm across his bare chest. Sensing her need to be near him, he flipped off the television and turned to face her, entwining his legs with hers as his arms moved around to her back, pulling her close. "You know, we always seem to end up in a motel room," he remarked. His warm, minty breath washed over Scully's face. "It was in a motel room that I first told you about my sister.

It's in a motel room where we've made some of the most important breakthroughs on most of our cases. Sometimes, I think that a crummy motel room is more like home to me than my own Apartment."

"At least it has a bed," Scully teased.

"Don't you ever wish things were different?"

"What do you mean?"

"I mean, don't you wish that you could trade these crummy motel rooms for four-star hotels? That you could have your babies in a hospital like you should. That you could live without looking over your shoulder every second."

"Mulder, I don't care about four-star hotels or anything like that. I chose this life. I chose the crummy motel rooms and everything that came with them."

"But why?"

"Because those crummy motel rooms brought me you and these babies.

And that's all I really care about in this life." She kissed him gently, and he wrapped his arms tighter around her, drawing her body closer to his. And in that position, they fell asleep.

When Scully awoke the next morning, she saw Mulder stepping out of the bathroom, still rubbing his hair dry. He wore a clean pair of boxers and nothing else. He moved across the room to retrieve his clothes as Scully struggled out of bed. Though his instincts told him to walk over to help her, common sense told him not to do this. He knew Scully was determined to do everything on her own and would likely chew his head off for "hovering."

"I'm going to go call Skinner and tell him what's going on," Mulder announced, pulling on a pair of blue jeans. "You can call your mom when I'm done so that she doesn't worry either."

"She's going to worry anyway."

"Well, at least now she'll know you're safe." After putting on his watch and grabbing the spare change he had emptied from his pockets the night before, he walked out the door to find a payphone.

A couple minutes later, Mulder stood in the small plastic box with the phone pressed against his ear, listening to the other line ring.

Eventually, a high, professional voice answered. "Hello, Assistant Director Skinner's office."

"It's Mulder. I need to speak with AD Skinner immediately."

"I'm sorry but he's in a meeting right now. He'll have to call you back."

"Kimberly, please just tell him it's urgent."

"Agent Mulder-"

"Please, Kimberly." He heard her sigh and then heard a click as the call was transferred to Skinner's phone.

A few seconds later, Skinner's gruff voice said, "Care to explain why you tore out of here yesterday and haven't been seen since, Agent Mulder?"

"The Smoking Man stopped by my office yesterday morning. He told me that mine and Scully's lives were in danger."

"Why?"

"I'm not entirely sure. It has something to do with the babies. They want them for some reason, but he didn't tell me exactly why. But we were attacked at Agent Scully's Apartment. We're in hiding now."

"For how long?"

"Probably about five weeks or so. I should have plenty of vacation time stored up."

"You know they're going to use this as an excuse to shut down the X-Files again."

"Right now, sir, I don't really care. I just want to keep Scully and those babies safe."

"Take care of yourself, Agent."

"I will, Sir." With that, Mulder hung up the phone. Mulder had not expected Skinner to be quite so accepting of his explanation. Of course, he should have expected the Assistant Director's ready acceptance; after all, Skinner had a better idea than most people about what Mulder and Scully had been through during the six years they had worked on the X-Files. He knew they had powerful enemies.

Sighing, Mulder pulled some more change from his pocket and dialed another familiar number. A groggy male voice answered after a few seconds. "Who is this?" the man asked suspiciously.

"It's me," Mulder told Frohike. "Turn off the recorder."

"Mulder? I don't recognize the number," Frohike remarked as he reached behind him to stop the recorder.

"That's because I'm calling from a pay phone."

"Uh oh."

"Yeah, that about covers it. Listen, I need you to do something for me."

"Of course you do."

"I need a car that they can't trace to me."

"Who's they?"

"I'm not entirely sure. The Syndicate, I think."

"What have you gotten yourself into this time, Mulder?"

"They want Scully's babies."

"What? Why?"

"I don't know that either. Listen, I really need that car. Soon."

"I think I can scrounge something up. Where do you want me to leave it?"

"Virginia. Off Interstate 95, preferably close to the southern border."

"Mile marker 7 sound good?"

"Why seven?"

"It's supposed to be lucky."

"Okay. I'll look for it there."

"Keys will be behind the right front tire. Good luck, Mulder."

"Thanks, Frohike." Hanging up, he turned and walked back to the motel room. Scully looked up when she heard the door open. She had already donned a pair of jeans and a t-shirt and was frowning into the mirror as she attempted to find a way to conceal her holster.

"How did Skinner take it?" she asked.

"Surprisingly well. He asked less questions than I expected though I'm sure there'll be plenty when we get back. I also called the Gunmen, and they're going to leave us a car just north of the Virginia border."

"We're going back to Virginia? Is that safe?"

"Actually, I think it might be the safest thing to do right now.

They'll never expect us to head back toward DC."

"True." Scully glanced back at the mirror and sighed before tucking her gun into the back of her jeans and pulling her t-shirt down so that it was mostly concealed. "I'm going to call my mom. Do you have any extra change?"

"Sure." He dug in his pocket for a moment before pulling out a few coins which he dumped unceremoniously in her hand.

"Thanks. I'll be back in a couple minutes." He nodded as she left, already throwing his dirty clothes into his bag. In no time at all, he had packed up everything he had taken from his bag. He thought about repacking her bag, too, but he quickly dismissed this idea, for she would likely tell him off for packing something she still needed or for not organizing it correctly so that she could not find anything.

In the end, it was nearly ten minutes before Scully returned. Mulder had turned on the television to relieve his boredom, and a young newscaster was telling about a fire at a local school. "I'm guessing she didn't take it quite as well as Skinner," Mulder remarked as Scully crossed the room to begin gathering her things.

"She's certainly not happy that I'm not giving birth in a hospital,"

Scully said with a sigh, shoving her shampoo bottle into the duffel bag with more force than she intended to use. "She started listing off everything that could go wrong. As if I don't know that already; I am the one with the medical degree, after all. And she's also not happy about not getting to see her grandchildren until a couple weeks after they're born. She thinks we're overreacting. She doesn't see why all these precautions are necessary. She wants to know why we can't just arrest whoever threatened us."

Mulder snorted. "I think these people are above arrest."

"Yes, but how do I tell her that? How do you explain to your mother that you're being hunted by shape-shifting, invincible bounty hunters who may or may not be alien and want your babies because they have some unknown importance to the future? How do you tell her that you can't trust the government because there are people there who want to kill you?"

"You don't. Look, Scully, your mother knows we deal with some dangerous situations and people. I'm sure that no matter what she says, in the end, she trusts you and your judgment."

"I'm not even sure if I trust me and my judgment anymore."

"Then trust me." His voice was quiet but forceful, and it caused her to look up. Their eyes met, and she saw the familiar honesty and passion curled deep within the hazel depths. She did trust him; part of her always had, even before she knew him well. There was something about him that assured her that he would do her no harm, something about his personality that made her turn to him when she could turn to no one else. He had her complete trust, something she had never before relinquished, and she suspected that she had his in turn. It was odd for both of them to give this trust to someone else, for they had both worked hard to ensure that no one else could enter their lives, he because of the hardships he had faced in his childhood and she because of her desire to fit into her male-dominated workplace.

But they had found each other, and it seemed natural to open up, to let down her walls, even for the briefest of moments, and allow him in.

"I do," she said simply.

He smiled at the irony of the two words. "Good. Now, you need some help packing?"

"No, I'm almost done." She grabbed the last few items from the bathroom and tossed them into her bag. Zipping it, she started to lift it, but Mulder placed a hand over hers, stopping her.

Wordlessly, he lifted both her duffel and his own to his shoulders before leading the way out of the room.


They stopped at a nearby bank, and Mulder left Scully in the car while he went in to withdraw the money. She protested, but he reminded her that he needed someone watching to make sure he had no unexpected visitors while he was in the bank. His argument had some merit, Scully had to admit, so she agreed to remain in the car.

Mulder imagined he must look rather suspicious. He was wearing dark clothes, sunglasses, and a baseball cap, and he continued to glance furtively around the bank as he waited in line for a teller. A couple people glanced curiously at him, but no one made any comment. For this, he was grateful. He needed to remain anonymous, to avoid calling attention to himself. He knew the Syndicate had spies everywhere; though it was extraordinarily unlikely that someone in this small bank in backcountry Georgia would recognize him, Mulder had witnessed events which had an even smaller probability of occurring.

When Mulder left the bank clutching the envelope of money, he began to breathe slightly easier. Though the Syndicate would now know where he was, he would be on the road soon and out of their reach again. He slid into the driver's seat of the car and placed the envelope of money in the back. "Ready to hit the road?" he asked Scully. She shrugged.

"I don't really have much choice."

"We always have a choice, Scully. It's just a matter of making the right one."

"It's too early for a philosophy discussion, Mulder. Let's just hit the road."

"Yes, ma'am." He put the car in gear and pulled smoothly into traffic.

Scully remained awake for the entire trip that day, so they had to make frequent stops for her to use the restroom. She apologized each time, but Mulder simply shrugged her off. "It's not your fault," he pointed out. "If I had two babies pressing on my bladder, I'd probably have to stop pretty often, too."

By the time they reached the southern Virginia border, it was growing dark. Both were watching the side of the road carefully, searching for the car. Scully spotted it first. "There," she said, pointing to a black SUV which was parked in the narrow strip of grass beside the road. The darkness concealed it fairly well, and Mulder was glad of this, for this low visibility probably contributed to the fact that no one had messed with it. Mulder pulled off the road a few feet behind it and turned to Scully.

"There's a mall a couple exits north. Think you can take this car and park it there? I'll follow you in the SUV. That way, they're not as likely to tow this car."

Scully nodded. "Sure." Mulder looked at her for another moment before opening his door and exiting the car, pressing the button near the base of the door to pop the trunk. He removed a couple of the duffels from the trunk before carrying them to the SUV and setting them beside the back tires. Cars whizzed by on the highway, their drivers either unable to see Mulder or simply ignoring him. Walking to the right of the SUV so that the big vehicle blocked him from the view of other motorists, Mulder lowered himself to the ground so that he was on his hands and knees. Reaching behind the tire, he groped around for a moment before his fingers touched a metallic protrusion.

Quickly, he pulled the key from its hiding place and stood up, ignoring the grass stains on his jeans.

Once he had loaded all their luggage in the SUV, he turned to Scully who was standing beside the driver's door of his car. "I'll follow you," he told her, pecking her lips. "Exit 10. Turn right. You can't miss it."

"Got it." She opened the door and squeezed herself into the driver's seat, once more cursing her large stomach. As excited as she was about having the babies, she wished she did not have to look like a beached whale to do so.

Once Mulder had entered the SUV, she carefully pulled back onto the highway, seeing him merging in behind her. For three miles, he followed her, always staying within a couple hundred feet. It was comforting to have him there. Scully did not know why, but she always felt safer when in his presence.

Scully parked near the back of the sprawling mall lot, away from most of the lights. She hoped the car would go unnoticed there and would still be there when they returned in five weeks. If they returned in five weeks. A shiver ran down her spine.

The car door suddenly opened, startling her, and she nearly jumped out of her seat. "Easy, Scully, it's just me," Mulder told her.

"Everything okay?"

"Yeah. I was just... well, it's nothing really."

Mulder studied her face carefully, and Scully had the uncanny feeling that he could see right into her mind. "It's not nothing. You look like you've seen a ghost."

"No. I'm just a little worried, that's all."

"You sure?"

"Yes, Mulder I'm f-" She stopped when she noticed his raised eyebrows. "Good."

"Sure you are." He regarded her for a moment, and she tried to keep the anxiety she felt from showing on her face. Eventually, he jerked his head back to the SUV parked two spaces over. "Come on. I want to drive a little more tonight before we find a place to stay. Just in case someone overheard my conversation with Frohike."

Scully nodded. Under normal circumstances, she would have chided him for being paranoid, but the current circumstances were far from normal. The entire day and a half they had been on the run had seemed unreal, like something out of a movie. Of course, many of the events in her life since she had met Mulder seemed like something from a movie. She certainly did not regret joining him on his quest, but she sometimes wished that the everyday occurrences in her life did not resemble poorly written screenplays.

They continued driving for four more days, spending the nights in dingy motels in the middle of nowhere. Though they were traveling westward, they made a zigzagging path aceHHHHHHHHross the continent, heading northwest for a few hours before taking a new road which took them in a more southerly direction. Both Mulder and Scully were constantly on alert, watching carefully for any signs that someone was following them. A couple times, they thought they saw a car following them, but when Mulder would turn onto a new road, the cars would inevitably continue on their own journey, completely ignoring the black SUV and its occupants. Perhaps they were becoming paranoid, imagining enemies when none existed.

But their enemies did exist. The bounty hunter had come to Scully's Apartment to kill her; both were certain of this fact. And when they managed to contact the Gunmen once more, the three conspiracy buffs informed the agents that Scully's Apartment had been ransacked.

Someone was looking for them, and both partners doubted that the intentions of this unknown person or persons were friendly.

They had been eating mostly fast food supplemented by snack items bought at various gas stations along the road. Scully had picked up some dried fruit and even managed to convince Mulder to eat some of it though he mainly snacked on his sunflower seeds. The car was riddled with the shells and other refuse despite Scully's best attempts to clean it and her admonishments whenever Mulder spit a seed in the car instead of out the window.

Mulder had also bought a number of baby books, some of which gave basic details of the birthing process. Mulder promised to find a book with a more detailed account of how to deliver a baby as soon as they found a larger bookstore. In the meantime, Scully struggled to remember everything she had learned about childbirth in medical school, rattling off all the facts she could recall to Mulder whose excellent memory absorbed this new knowledge like a sponge. When they were not discussing the birth, they mainly listened to the tapes which supposedly taught the listeners Russian. Mulder had found them at one of their stops and picked them up for Scully along with a couple books on Russian. She had shaken her head at him when he presented her with these gifts. "I didn't think you were serious."

"Why not? It'll give you something to do."

And he was right. The tapes had helped somewhat; they kept the long hours of driving from becoming too dull. And Scully was surprised to find that she was actually picking up some of the language. After just four days, she could string simple sentences together and actually understand some of what the instructor was saying before he translated it.

On the fifth day, they stopped at a large mall. Scully was no longer sure of what state they were in, for they had crossed more state lines than she cared to count. She had always wanted to take a road trip and visit all forty-eight of the continental states, but the current journey was not exactly what she had in mind.

A sign just inside the door declared that they were in the Mall of Abilene in central Texas, answering Scully's question. She had not realized they had come so far south; she would have guessed they were in Kansas or Nebraska. But Mulder seemed unconcerned with where they were as long as they continued to move. Scully wondered if he intended to continue driving right up until she went into labor and then simply pull off to the side of the road to deliver the babies.

She would have to discuss their plans with him later.

They stopped first to eat before beginning to wander around the store. When they saw the large sign for the Books-A-Million, Mulder immediately veered toward it, taking Scully with him. With her help, he managed to find a few books on childbirth along with some other fiction books to keep her occupied during the long car trips. The checkout lady glanced at them as she rang up their purchases, but she simply smiled when she saw Scully's obviously pregnant body and said nothing.

"We need to get anything else that you need to deliver the babies or care for them for the first couple weeks," Mulder remarked as they walked back out of the store, joining the stream of people ambling through the mall. "Also, I want to stop and pick up some camping equipment."

"Camping equipment?"

"Yeah. I figured wherever we finally settle down, it probably won't be anywhere with people around, so we're going to need some camping equipment to make ourselves comfortable. A couple sleeping bags, a couple folding chairs, a tent..."

"You're telling me I'm going to deliver my babies in a tent?"

"I don't know, Scully. Maybe not. But I want to be prepared for any eventuality."

"Mulder, I've accepted the fact that I'm not going to give birth in a hospital. But couldn't we at least find a remote cabin somewhere or something?"

"I don't know. I don't want to risk calling the Gunmen again to have them check. I think our best bet is to continue driving for awhile.

Maybe we'll get lucky and find a cabin or something somewhere."

"And if we don't?"

He shrugged. "I've always loved the great outdoors."

When they finally made it back to the car, their arms laden with purchases, dusk was falling. They had already come back to the car once with camping equipment; with the new bags that they carried, they managed to fill up the trunk and the third row of seats. Scully looked critically at the multitude of things piled up in the back.

"It's a good thing the Gunmen got us a large vehicle," she said.

"Yeah. Otherwise, we might not have had anywhere to put the babies."

Mulder stopped at a motel in a small town a few miles from Abilene.

It had started raining soon after they left the mall, and the steady patter of rain on the roof soothed him. He was lying on the bed, staring at nothing in particular, thinking about how much in his life was about to change. In less than a month, he would be a father. He would have two little girls who were completely dependent upon him and Scully. The thought simultaneously frightened him and made him smile.

Scully stepped out of the bathroom at that moment, stopping briefly in the doorway. Mulder took the opportunity to gaze at her figure, silhouetted by the light from the open bathroom door. The changes in her body brought on by the pregnancy were quite obvious from her current position. Her breasts were fuller, her thighs thicker, her stomach large and rounded. Mulder knew she hated these changes; she had complained about them numerous times. But he thought she was beautiful. Actually, he had always thought she was beautiful, but in his eyes, the pregnancy simply made her more beautiful. Her new figure was a tangible reminder of the new lives growing inside of her, the babies that were part him and part her and would serve as a physical link between them similar to the emotional one established six years before.

"What's wrong?" Scully asked, sensing his gaze despite the darkness of the room.

"Nothing." He quickly looked away, moving his eyes to stare blankly at the door. He supposed that he should compliment her, tell her that he was thinking about how beautiful she was. All the books recommended this action, reminding fathers-to-be that their significant others would feel insecure about the changes that accompanied pregnancy. But Mulder had never known Scully to be insecure; she always seemed so sure of herself, unwilling to let anyone walk over her. He admired this trait. It made her strong, independent, an equal to him in every way. He would not have it any other way.

Scully did not believe him, but she did not pry. Instead, she pursed her lips and crossed the room, replacing some of her toiletries in her open bag. Mulder's eyes automatically followed her movements, watching her with fascination. When she finished repacking her bag, she straightened and turned to him, her eyes narrowed. "You're staring again."

"No, I'm not," he lied. He had never been very good at paying her compliments or voicing one of those comments that women seemed to find inexplicably sweet. Sure, he would say something from time to time that he supposed could be considered sweet, but like most of their communication, the compliments were often unspoken. His eyes would tell her that she was beautiful even when he could not put the sentiment into words. And he knew his eyes were currently speaking volumes.

She moved to the bed, perching rather precariously on the edge of it, a bit unbalanced because of her added pregnancy weight. Mulder pushed himself up on his left elbow so that he could reach for her with his right hand. When his fingers touched her bicep, she turned to him, her eyes seeking his even in the darkness of the room. She did not need light to read what was written in the depths of his eyes which now shone green. She saw the passion and love there.

Silently, she lay down, resting her head on the pillow. His right arm now encircled her torso, holding her close. Gently, he pressed a kiss onto her neck before letting out a long sigh, allowing his warm breath to wash over the spot his lips had just touched. "We're going to get through this," he assured her, sensing her uneasiness.

"I know." And she did know. She trusted in him and in them. Together, they could make it through anything that life threw their way. They had proved this time and time again, and they would continue to prove it for years to come.

When Mulder opened his eyes, the room was still dark. The curtains were open, so the blackness of the room indicated that it was still nighttime. Mulder started to turn over to check the clock behind him, but something halted his movement. He did not know exactly how to describe it; it was like a feeling that something was wrong. It caused the hairs on the back of his neck to stand straight up and his brain to kick into full gear. He had felt the feeling numerous times before, and it had a knack for being right. He had survived all these years because he had trusted his instincts, and those same instincts were now telling him that he was in immediate danger.

His right arm moved from Scully's body, reaching to the table in front of her head where both their guns rested. He grabbed his before sitting up and gently touching her shoulder. She stirred and started to say something, but he pressed a finger to her lips. Obviously, she understood the message, for her eyelids flew open, and she also reached for her gun. He was already at the edge of the bed, lowering himself to the floor. She followed suit, struggling a bit but still managing to stand up without making a sound. They walked slowly toward the door, neither knowing what to expect. Mulder still had not figured out what had alerted him initially.

They both heard the sound at the same time and froze. It was a faint rustling as if someone was moving stealthily around the door of their motel room. Scully was closest to the door, barely an arm's length from the handle. She glanced back at Mulder who stood a few feet behind her. Her eyes were wide, silently asking him how they had found them. He was also trying to figure this mystery out; they had been so careful not to leave a trace of their whereabouts, to never head in quite the same direction from one day to the next.

The rustle came again along with a low scratching sound that Mulder recognized immediately as the sound of metal scraping in the keyhole.

Someone was picking the lock to their room. Mulder glanced around the room fearfully, searching for another way out. But his quest was futile; the only windows in the room were on the same wall as the door. There was not even a window in the bathroom to offer hope of escape. The only way out was through the door. Maybe if they had the element of surprise on their side, they would be able to overcome their opponent.

A soft click sounded, and the scratching stopped. The handle to the door began to turn, so slow that Mulder wondered briefly if it was going backward. And then the door opened, making no noise as it swung into the room. The dim light from the lights in the parking lot left the two figures in the doorway in shadows, but Mulder and Scully had grown accustomed to facing adversaries in near darkness. Both chose an opponent and pointed their guns at them, clicking off the safeties. "Freeze!" Scully declared, her voice commanding and authoritative.


The figures did freeze. Obviously, they had not expected the agents' wakefulness. But this new development did not faze the two for long.

The nearest man threw himself suddenly at Scully, knocking her off balance and sending the gun flying from her hand. Mulder swung his gun automatically to him, but he could not pull the trigger, for her risked hitting Scully. The second man stepped forward now, and for a brief moment, the light from a nearby streetlamp illuminated his face clearly. Mulder recognized him; he was one of the Syndicate's errand boys, one of the men they sent to kill their enemies so that the members did not risk dirtying their hands.

The second figure advanced on Mulder, and Mulder automatically squeezed the trigger. The sound of the gunshot was deafening in the still night, and Mulder knew it would not be long before someone came to investigate. He glanced at the second man who had fallen to the floor, a bullet wound through the right side of his chest. He was wheezing heavily, but he was alive for the moment. Mulder was tempted to finish him off, but he resisted the urge. He did not want to kill anyone unless he had no choice. The Syndicate killed for pleasure; he would only kill to protect himself or his family.

Mulder was happy to see red blood pouring from the wounds. It seemed that their assailants were normal humans. Or at least as normal as any of the goons employed by the conspirators to do their dirty work could be. He did not have time to contemplate this new discovery for long, however, for he heard the unmistakable sounds of a scuffle a few feet to his right. He glanced over and saw that the man had Scully in a chokehold. Her gun was lying a few feet away, too far for her to reach although she was trying desperately. Mulder brought his own gun up, aiming carefully at the man, but Scully acted before he could pull the trigger.

Bringing her legs up, Scully delivered a powerful kick to the man's abdomen, leaving him wheezing for breath. He relaxed his grip on her neck slightly, giving her time to bring her fist up to connect squarely with his face. He snarled, reeling back, and Mulder took the opportunity to grab him and throw him against the nearest wall, shoving his gun right under the guy's chin. "Who are you? Who sent you?" he questioned. The man glared at him and spit at his feet. "Not a smart move, buddy," Mulder said, pushing the gun against the man's flesh.

"Shoot me," the man said with a trace of an accent. Mulder was not a linguist, but if he had to guess, he would say that it was Russian.

"I still might. But first you're going to tell me what I want to know." Mulder grabbed the man's shirt and flung him across the room.

His head collided with the night table which swayed dangerously for a moment but remained upright.

"Mulder," Scully said softly from behind him. Mulder looked to her and noticed for the first time that she was bleeding. Since she was standing near the open doorway, the light from the streetlamps illuminated her body, revealing the dark red substance on her left arm.

"Are you okay?" he questioned, forgetting the man breathing heavily on the floor in front of him because of his concern for her.

Scully glanced down at her arm. "I'm fine. It's a superficial cut.

But there are people coming." She nodded outside, and Mulder looked, noticing that the lights in a number of the other motel rooms had come on. The low murmur of voices reached his ears. He sighed and looked down at the man again who was now struggling to get up. A well-placed kick to his ribcage stopped his movement. He collapsed to the ground again, clutching his right side.

"We don't have time to wait for the authorities," Mulder said, already moving across the room to grab their bags.

"Mulder, we can't just leave the scene of a crime!"

"If we wait for the police to come, there will be too many questions.

It'll be easy for them to catch up with us. I'm not taking that risk."

"Mulder-"

"Scully, we have to leave now!" Already, Mulder could hear the distant sounds of sirens. Scully looked at him for a moment, her mouth open, still unsure of how to proceed. "Scully, we have no choice!" His voice was forceful, his eyes wide with fear. Mutely, Scully nodded, knowing he was right. He walked to the door, glancing out. People were just beginning to emerge from the other motel rooms, ambling slowly toward the sounds. Luckily, they had received a motel room at the end of the row, so everyone was to their left, leaving the right side clear. Quietly, Mulder slipped out of the room, motioning for Scully to follow. They moved to the right, careful to avoid the circles of light cast by the lamps which surrounded the parking lot. Behind them, they heard a couple screams as the other patrons discovered the two men, and both agents began to move faster.

Their SUV was parked in a dark corner of the parking lot which was extremely fortuitous, for they were able to reach it unseen. As soon as they slipped inside, Mulder started the car. The turning of the engine sounded unnaturally loud in the still night, and both glanced around, expecting to see the attention of all the other people at the motel suddenly on them. Luckily, the other people seemed too preoccupied with the men to pay any attention to the starting of a car. Mulder shifted into reverse and backed the car out of the parking space, intending to turn toward the only exit from the parking lot. Unfortunately, the police had already reached the scene, and a couple cop cars were turning into the parking lot. Mulder knew they would never make it out that way.

Cursing, he swung the wheel to the right, towards the curb. "Mulder, what are you doing?" Scully asked.

"Testing the four wheel drive on this vehicle," Mulder explained, shifting gears. The tires cleared the curb with a large bump, and they were soon bouncing over the thick grass. Scully reached for the handle above her head, gritting her teeth as Mulder swung the wheel again, bringing them off the grass and onto a small, two-lane road.

Because of the late hour, no one else was on the road, and they shot down it at a speed Scully knew was well above the speed limit. But she certainly was not going to criticize Mulder for driving too fast; she, too, felt the need to put as much distance between themselves and the hotel as possible.

"They're going to find out pretty soon that the bullet in that man came from your gun," Scully reasoned as they turned onto another side street and continued at the same dangerous speed. She wondered briefly if Mulder knew where he was going, but she soon realized that he probably did not. Mulder had a tendency to simply drive aimlessly and trust his instincts or dumb luck or some similar intangible force to help him find his way.

"I know," he said. His tires skidded slightly as he took a sharp turn a bit to fast, but he managed to regain control of the car and wrestle the steering wheel straight again. Scully's hand returned to the handle above the door.

"It's pretty obviously self defense, but the fact that we fled the scene is going to look pretty suspicious."

Mulder looked over at her. "Do you want to go back?"

"No, I'm just saying..."

"If we stayed, it wouldn't matter what they thought because we'd be dead in a matter of hours. You know that." Scully did not respond, but Mulder knew this was as close to a concurrence as he was likely to get. He glanced over at her. "We're going to be okay," he said, assuring himself as much as her.

"Are we?"

"We've survived this far."

"Barely."

"But we have. And we will continue to. Scully, look at me." She turned her eyes from the empty streets outside the window so that she could look at him. He had stopped in the middle of the road, knowing that he was likely to crash if he tried to have the upcoming conversation while driving. "We can beat them. We are going to protect ourselves and these babies. We will win."

"How can you know that?"

"Because I know us. We've been through too much to die like this." He reached out and cupped her cheek in his hand, running his thumb across her smooth skin before allowing it to rest on her lips. She kissed it gently, and they both smiled at each other. Slowly, he pulled his hand away and returned it to the wheel.

"We will get through this," Scully said. She shifted in her seat and felt something sticky on her arm. Looking down, she realized that it was still coated with blood from her cut. Noticing her gaze, Mulder took his hands off the wheel again. He still had not started driving again, but since no one else was out at that hour, there was no honking from annoyed drivers.

"Do we need to stop at a hospital?" he inquired, glancing worriedly at the blood.

"No, of course not. It's really not that bad. It just looks like a lot of blood." Scully reached behind her and found her suitcase. She dug through it for a few seconds before finding the first aid kit she always carried with her. She also grabbed a bottle of water and poured some onto a few napkins left on the floor from their lunch the previous day. Carefully, she began to clean the blood off her arms.

Mulder reached for the napkins, but she stopped him. "Let me take care of this, Mulder. You need to drive." He looked like he wanted to object, but he thought better of this and turned back to the road, putting the car into drive again.

A few hours later, Mulder's bladder began to remind him that it was time to stop. Scully had fallen asleep a four hours before, so restroom stops had not been nearly as frequent. Pulling off to the side of the road, he glanced at her quickly. She did not seem to have been affected by the close call earlier that morning. She slept peacefully, barely moving. The only signs of the earlier events were a bandage on her upper right arm and faint bruising around her neck.

It was these bruises that attracted Mulder's attention. The purplish color was ugly, a stark contrast to her alabaster skin. He hated those bruises, for they reminded him how close he had come to losing her. If the man had hung on for just a little longer, she would not be curled up next to him right now, breathing steadily in her sleep.

He thanked God or whatever power might be out there every day for bringing her into his life and for keeping her there despite everything that threatened to tear them apart. He knew instinctively that he could not live without her. She had become his life, the reason for his existence. When he had first started on the X-Files, his quest to find his sister had fueled him, given him a reason to wake up each morning and come to work. But slowly, this quest had started to take a back seat to his desire to see her each day, to hear her debunk his theories, to simply enjoy the knowledge that he had found someone who was his equal and the one person in the world who would never let him down.

Reaching out, he carefully tucked her hair behind her ear, a gesture that had become a comfort for both of them over the years. It was a simple enough act on the surface, but it was still deeply intimate.

His fingers were gently reminding her that he would always care for her, always be there to help her when she needed him. At the same time, he was reminding himself that she was real, she was tangible.

Opening the car door, he stepped out and walked to the side of the road to relieve himself. The air was hot and dry, but it did not feel suffocating. Instead, Mulder breathed in the air deeply, feeling a sense of freedom in doing so. He was in an unfamiliar place with no idea where he was heading and some of the most dangerous men in the country trying to kill him, but he still could not help but feel happy and liberated.

They continued to snake their way across the country, turning north somewhere in Arizona and crossing into Utah. Although they passed a number of small towns, Mulder did not seem eager to stay anywhere.

Scully began to grow worried after they had been on the road a week and a half. She was seventeen days away from her due date, and twins had a higher chance of being born early, She also knew that her age might cause her to go into labor sooner than expected. She certainly did not want to have the babies in the back of the SUV (which would be nearly impossible anyway because of the amount of things they had stored there).

At thirteen days before her due date, Scully finally voiced these concerns to Mulder. "I know, Scully, and I'm looking for somewhere, but I can't seem to find the right place."

"What would you classify as the right place?" Scully questioned.

"Somewhere remote where I know we'll be safe."

"Mulder, we are somewhere remote." Scully gestured at the nearly empty highway they were traveling on. They passed a car every ten to fifteen minutes, but she saw no other signs of civilization. The road was bordered on both sides by trees. There was not even an old, run-down gas station or farmhouse to break the constant line of vegetation.

Mulder also glanced around, but he did not say anything. With a sigh of frustration, Scully settled back in her seat, opening one of the novels she had brought at a previous stop. They were silent for a few minutes before Mulder turned on the turn signal. Scully looked up from her novel. "What are you doing?"

"Finding somewhere to settle down," he answered, turning off the highway onto a deserted road that looked as if it led nowhere.

"Mulder, do you have any idea where you're going?"

"No."

"How exactly do you plan on finding your way back again?"

"I'll cross that bridge when I come to it."

Scully sighed. "I don't know why I bother."

"I'm not so clear on that myself," Mulder told her. They followed the road for a few miles before Scully saw something that she had not seen in awhile.

"A gas station," she remarked, pointing to the dilapidated building in front of them. Mulder nodded as if he had known the location of the gas station the entire time and pulled off into the parking lot.

A man in his late fifties emerged from inside the building, wiping his hands on his dusty overalls.

"Evenin' folks. Can I help with anything?"

"We're just need to fill up," Mulder said, stepping out of the car and adjusting his sunglasses on his face. The man looked at him and nodded.

"A'ight, but that pump don't work. I've got some cans around back.

I'll grab one for you." He turned and disappeared around the back of the store as Scully opened the door and also stepped out of the car, resting her hand on her back and stretching out her cramped muscles.

Mulder watched her for a moment before walking around the front of the car and starting toward a small store a few feet away.

"I'm going to get something to eat and drink. You want anything?"

"Sure. Pick me up some more dried fruit and a water."

"Finally over your junk food cravings I see. I'll be back in a few minutes." She nodded and watched him go. The gas station attendant returned with the promised can of gasoline, and Scully turned to face him, a hand over her eyes to shield them from the sun. She squinted at him as he unscrewed the cap from the gas tank.

"What happened to your husband?" the man asked.

Scully started to tell him that Mulder was not her husband but quickly held her tongue. It was much easier to let the man assume they were married than explain the true nature of their relationship.

"He went to get some food from the store," Scully explained, gesturing the building into which Mulder had disappeared.

"So, where are you folks headed anyway?" the man asked as he tilted the can up and began to fill the tank.

"We're just on our way to visit some relatives," Scully invented.

"When are you due?"

"A couple weeks."

"That's pushin' it mighty close."

Scully nodded absently as the man finished filling the tank and removed the nozzle of the gas can, replacing the cap on the tank.

"How much do I owe you?" Scully asked, reaching for the envelope with some of their cash. The man told her, and she handed him the money.

At that moment, she heard footsteps behind her and turned to see Mulder returning with a single white plastic bag and a case of 24 water bottles. "I wasn't that thirsty," Scully told him.

"Well, they were cheaper this way, and I figured we'd need them eventually," Mulder said, putting his purchases in the back seat.

"All set?" he asked Scully.

"Yeah." She thanked the gas station attendant before waddling to the front of the car and pulling herself into the front seat. The man waved at them as they left.

"So, Mulder, is this remote enough for you?" Scully inquired as he pulled back onto the main road. A couple of other cars passed them.

"Not quite," he answered.

"Mulder-"

"Look, Scully, I promise that by tonight, I will have found somewhere where we can deliver these babies, okay?" She pursed her lips, disbelieving, but nodded anyway.

They drove through the town before Mulder turned off onto another road which was in even worse condition than the one they had recently vacated. Potholes littered its surface, and Scully felt her teeth clanging against one another repeatedly as they drove onward. Just when she thought it could get no worse, Mulder turned again, bringing the Explorer onto a dirt road that seemed barely wide enough to hold it. Scully doubted that anyone had traveled over the road in years; weeds grew over its surface, making it nearly impossible for her to see the road in many places. Still, Mulder continued to drive.

Just when Scully was beginning to think they would have to turn around and go back, she saw a building in the distance. It seemed to be an old barn. She looked over at Mulder who grinned back as he drove onward, stopping the car outside the farmhouse. "I'd say this is remote enough," he announced, opening his door and stepping out of the car.

Scully also got out of the car and stood staring critically at the building in front of her. Much of the wood was rotted, and Scully could see large holes in the walls. The roof sagged dangerously, and the door seemed to be missing. Placing her hands on her hips, she turned back to Mulder. "Mulder, you can't be serious."

"As a heart attack," he responded.

"I can't deliver the babies here!"

"Why not?"

"Because it's a barn."

"So? It's been done before."

"Mulder, this building is not at all stable. I can tell that just by looking at it."

"We're not going to be here long. Besides, it's this or the tent."

Scully shook her head at him, her lips still in a tight line. "Look, I'm going to get the place cleaned up a bit. Why don't you go out and take a walk? Maybe explore a little."

"I can't believe I'm doing this," Scully muttered as she turned to take the suggested walk. Mulder smiled at her retreating back.

Two hours later, Mulder was beginning to sympathize with Hercules. He had found an old broom near the back of the barn and had decided to sweep it out as best as he could. Unfortunately, much of the filth and animal droppings had decided that they did not want to be removed. It had taken considerable effort on his part to dislodge much of the debris and push it into the woods.

He found five old blankets in the trunk of the Explorer and spread them across the freshly swept floor. He had kept the blankets in his car for years and had transferred them to the SUV, thinking they might come in handy. Now, he was glad he had done so, for they provided some cover for the packed dirt floor of the barn, making it seem slightly more homey. He then set to work dragging in some of their luggage and the food they had stocked up on during the trip.

When Scully returned, he was spreading out the sleeping bags on the corner of one of the blankets. She raised her eyebrows at him. "Well, I admit it looks cleaner and doesn't smell as bad as before," she commented. "But I still don't know about this."

"Come on, Scully, it's perfect."

"I'm not sure about perfect, Mulder." Scully glanced warily at the holes in the roof around her. Mulder followed her gaze.

"There's some tools and wood in the back. I'll get them tomorrow and work on patching some of those holes, okay?"

"You sure you can do that?" Scully questioned.

"Of course I can. I've been working on our house for three months.

I've figured out how to use a hammer and nails."

"If you say so," Scully said, wondering how long it would be before she would have to fix up one of his injuries.

They slept that night on sleeping bags, an arrangement that was not ideal for Scully, especially since her back already ached. Mulder tried to alleviate the pain as much as possible by propping pillows around her and helping her find a relatively comfortable position.

Eventually, she ended up on her side with him behind her, gently rubbing her back. His fingers helped to ease the pain somewhat, and she drifted off to sleep.

She awoke the next morning to crash and a loud curse. Looking up, she saw Mulder sucking on his index finger, a pile of wood at his feet.

"Sorry. I was trying not wake you," he apologized, his words slightly muffled due to the appendage in his mouth.

"What are you doing?"

"I was going just going to see what pieces I could use to patch the holes. But it seems there was still a nail in one of the pieces." He pulled his finger out of his mouth and showed it to her. She saw a steady stream of blood flowing from a hole in the pad.

"Mulder, you have to be careful. You could get tetanus-"

He waved her concern off as he reinserted his finger in his mouth. "I just had the shot last year. You know how anal the Bureau is about making sure we're up to date on all our immunizations."

"Still, I want to disinfect it and bandage it." She was already pushing herself into a sitting position and reaching for her bag.

"If you have to." Mulder walked over to her and allowed her to clean and disinfect the wound before bandaging it. As soon as she finished, he was on his feet again. "We've got cereal bars, Poptarts, and dried fruit for breakfast," he told her. "There's also powdered milk. It's not great, but it's only for a few days."

"I know. Besides, I've had worse." They shared a smile before Mulder helped her to her feet, allowing her to choose her own breakfast.

For a week, they worked on making the barn as livable as possible and preparing for the birth of the babies. Between fixing up holes in the wall and boiling water, Mulder and Scully discussed the logistics of the delivery. Scully knew the dangers of childbirth, especially multiple births, from medical school. She warned Mulder about breech births, telling him how to deal with such an occurrence so many times that he finally threw up his hands and said, "I know, Scully. I think I'm better prepared now than they would ever be at a hospital!"

"I'm just trying to make sure this goes smoothly," Scully told him, her tone icy. Immediately, he regretted his outburst. His eyes fell to the bucket at his feet that he had been taking out to fill with water.

"I know. I'm just a bit on edge. I've never delivered a baby before."

It was the first time that he had admitted he was anxious about the upcoming birth. Up until that point, he had always maintained the position that there would be no problems, insisting that he would be able to deliver the babies flawlessly. But Scully had suspected that beneath his confidence, he had been just as worried as she was. He could mask his nerves behind his humor and his offhanded comments, but Scully had known him long enough to see past his flimsy defenses.

He was scared—scared to death—and there was not a damn thing she could do about it because she was equally frightened. It was amazing that after all they had faced together, something as mundane as childbirth could terrify them both.

"Well, you're going to have to figure out soon," Scully said.

"I know. And I'm trying." He grabbed the bucket and turned away to walk outside.

"No, Mulder, I mean really soon." He looked back at her, curious. His expression soon turned to one of concern when he saw the pain which contorted her face.

"Scully, what's wrong?" He set the bucket back on the ground and approached her, reaching out as if hoping to alleviate her pain with a simple touch.

"My water just broke." Scully heard the hiss of his breath as he sucked air in between his teeth. His eyes closed briefly, and his teeth bit down forcefully on his lower lip. For a moment, she wondered if he was going to faint on the spot. She certainly did not have time to deal with such an occurrence.


As soon as Mulder opened his eyes, all traces of uncertainty were gone, and he was suddenly in complete control of himself again.

"Okay, let's get this party started," he said, grabbing her hand and pulling her to a reclining folding chair that they had selected for this exact purpose. He helped her lower herself into it, adjusting its position and arranging numerous pillows around her until she felt comfortable. As he placed a pillow behind her back, a contraction hit her, and she grabbed the nearest thing she could find—which happened to be Mulder's hand.

As soon as he felt her fingers grip his, he looked down at her and immediately deduced what was happening. Crouching down beside her so that their faces were at the same level, he used his free hand to gently wipe her hair back from her face. When the contraction finished, Scully took a deep breath and remarked, "That one was stronger than the others."

"Others?" Mulder questioned, now concerned.

"I've been having small contractions on and off all morning. I thought they were just Braxton Hicks contractions at first, but they've been getting stronger."

"So you've been in labor for a few hours already?" Mulder asked, staring at her incredulously.

"Yes, but it's no big deal. Labor can take hours."

"I know that! But it still feels like we should have done something."

"There's nothing we can do right now except let nature take its course."

"Okay. Is there anything you want?"

"Actually, some water would be good." Mulder nodded and rose from his crouched position to fetch her a bottle of water. He returned with it and a damp washcloth, quickly twisting off the cap and passing the bottle to her so she could drink. When she finished, he wiped her face off with the cloth, and she smiled at him.

"We should probably be timing the contractions," Mulder remarked, somehow managing to recall the details of the countless books he had read despite the apprehension he felt.

"That would be a good idea," Scully agreed.

For the next three hours, Mulder raced around the barn, trying to make sure that he had everything he needed to deliver the babies, stopping each time Scully had a contraction to coach her through it.

Scully loved having him there through the process. It was nice to have someone to lean on, someone to remind her that she was not alone. They were partners.

By this point, Scully's back felt as if it was on fire. The pain was relentless, pounding inexorably against her lower spine. Mulder tried to help by warming the hot water bottle they had brought and tucking it behind her back, but the heat did little to relieve the pain. The contractions were coming at pretty regular three-minute intervals, often lasting nearly a minute.

Mulder had finally gathered all the necessary equipment, so he remained by her side the whole time, soothing her as best as he could. But his caresses could not lessen the pain or apprehension she felt. Scully could not believe that she had actually agreed to let Mulder deliver the babies in this remote barn, miles from any healthcare facility. He did not know what he was doing. Hell, she did not know what she was doing, and she had been to medical school. She should have been in a hospital surrounded by people trained for this situation. Despite their efforts, they were woefully unprepared to deliver two babies.

"Mulder, we need to get to a hospital now," Scully panted as a contraction subsided. It had been the worst one up to that point, tearing through her insides.

"Scully, we can't."

"Mulder, this is ridiculous! We can't deliver the babies here!"

"We've taken all the necessary precautions." His voice was infuriatingly calm.

"Like hell we have! We're in the middle of nowhere with no modern medical equipment trying to deliver two babies! We haven't taken a single damn precaution! There are so many things that could go wrong, and we aren't prepared for a single one! I don't know what we were thinking, Mulder. Actually, I don't know what you were thinking. I was against this idea from the beginning."

Mulder remained quiet, letting her rant, knowing that she needed to vent her feelings. Besides, he was not the one who was about to endure childbirth without the assistance of pain medication. He could take a few angry words. When her tirade finally seemed to trail off, he kissed her forehead and said with more conviction than he felt, "Everything is going to be fine, Scully."

Scully snorted and started to respond, but another contraction wracked her body, and she clenched her jaw shut to fight off the pain. Mulder's hand not holding hers now went behind her, massaging her lower back where he knew she felt the most pain. He saw the sheen of sweat glistening on her face and could tell that the labor was taking a toll on her body. He wished there was something he could do to ease the pain, but he was helpless. In a desperate attempt to help her, he suggested that they try the breathing they had learned in the few Lamaze classes they had attended. "You try the damn breathing, Mulder," Scully hissed through the pain.

"Come on, Scully, it might help."

"What will help is getting these babies out of me as soon as possible."

"You can't push until you're fully dilated. You know that."

Scully sighed as the pain started to abate. She leaned her head against the pillow at the top of the chair tiredly. "I know. I just want this to be over."

"I know, Sweetheart. And it will be." Scully turned to look at him, surprised. He had never called her anything but Scully or, occasionally, Dana although they had been intimate for nine months.

The name sounded foreign on his lips. But somehow, it seemed warranted in their current situation. It was his reminder that he loved her and would be there to support her. Though she knew he would rarely use the appellation again, if ever, it was nice to hear it, and it seemed to ease the pain though Scully could not fathom why.

They were silent for a couple minutes before Scully said, "There's another one coming." Her voice held a tired resignation, an acknowledgment that she would have to face the upcoming contraction though it was the last thing she wanted to do.

"You're welcome to use my hand to squeeze as much as you need,"

Mulder offered, bringing their linked hands up so he could kiss the back of hers.

"I appreciate the sacrifice," she remarked dryly, wincing as the pain shot through her again.

"Unfortunately, it's the only thing I can offer," he told her. "I would offer to have the babies for you, but I'm afraid that's physically impossible."

For another hour, Scully remained in the chair, half-sitting, half-lying as she felt the contractions grow steadily worse. When she managed to catch her breath, she usually used it to berate Mulder, chiding him for putting her in the current situation. It was not so much the giving birth that she minded—she had wanted children for some time now. No, what really irked her was the fact that he had insisted she have her children in some Godforsaken barn. She did not know why she had let him talk her into such insanity.

If she had been able to think rationally, she would have realized that Mulder was right. They would likely not be safe at a hospital.

There had already been two attempts on their lives. Giving birth in the barn was the best option for her. But the pain had effectively removed her ability to think rationally. And so, she lashed out at the only person she could.

For his part, Mulder patiently endured all her criticisms, focusing instead on trying to make sure she was comfortable. The nervousness he had exhibited when she first went into labor was gone; he was acting as if he had been through the process countless times before.

In truth, however, he was scared. Reading about childbirth and actually trying to deliver a baby were two completely different things. But he had to put his fear aside so he could be strong for Scully. She did not need someone to break down on her then. She needed support, someone to lean on. He had had a great deal of practice over the years at hiding his emotions, and he was happy he had developed this ability now.

Scully's contractions were now lasting nearly a minute and a half, and she usually had just over a minute between them. The pain was intense, leaving her feeling drained. As her labor continued, the contractions merged into one another until she could no longer feel separate contractions but instead felt a single wave of intense pain coursing through her body. Her lower back felt as if it was splitting in two, and she began to wonder if she was going to make it through the labor.

Mulder watched with concern as Scully's face contorted with pain and did not relax again. He tried to help by wiping the sweat from her face with a damp cloth, but this action did not seem to help much; Scully still appeared ready to pass out from the pain. Her body was shaking, and her teeth ground into each other as she fought the intense pain. Mulder felt helpless; her hand still clutched his, but this action did not seem to be helping at all. "I think it's time to push," Scully managed to pant out, ending her sentence with a loud groan as the pain intensified.

"I just need to make sure you're dilated enough first," Mulder said, remembering what the books had said. Carefully, he extracted his hand from hers and moved to her feet. He felt a bit awkward; although he had seen that particular part of her anatomy numerous times, he had never looked at it in quite this way before. He was not entirely sure what to expect. "Uh, it's supposed to be ten centimeters before you push, right?" he asked hesitantly.

"Yeah," Scully managed, panting.

Mulder was silent for a few seconds before saying, "I've never been really good with metrics." Somehow, Scully contorted her face into an incredulous expression despite the pain which was still etched into it.

"What?"

"Metrics. Centimeters, liters, kilograms. I just really can't think in terms of them." God, he sounded like an idiot.

"You went to Oxford!" Her voice was loud, mostly from the pain.

"Well, I never really got used to using them there. I mean, it was only four years. I usually carried a conversion chart around with me." Their conversation was bordering on ridiculous. Scully was about to give birth, and all they could talk about was Mulder's inability to adapt to the metric system.

"Four inches," Scully ground out through clenched teeth before letting out a loud moan as pain clenched her insides.

"Right." Mulder glanced down again. "I think we still have another half of an inch or so to go."

"You think?" Scully screamed.

"We do," he said.

"Mulder, when this is all over, remind me to shoot you!"

"Yes, ma'am."

When Mulder checked again in twenty minutes, he announced. "Four inches."

"It's about damn time," Scully said. Her contractions had started to grow farther apart again. She felt the current one subside and collapsed against the chair. Mulder stood up and walked to her head.

He placed a soft kiss on her forehead.

"I want you to push on the next contraction, okay?" he asked. She nodded weakly. Mulder squeezed her hand before grabbing a clean towel and settling down by her feet again. "I always wanted to play catcher," he quipped. Scully glared at him to show that his humor was not appreciated, and he wisely shut his mouth after that. They were silent for a minute or so until another contraction gripped Scully.

Mulder saw the pain cross her face and immediately began shouting instructions. "Push, Scully. Come on now. You can do it. Push!"

"I'm trying!" Scully shouted. And she was. She did not think she had any strength remaining in her body, but she somehow found the strength to push. Her hands gripped the cloth arm of the chair tightly. She wanted Mulder there beside her, holding her hand. That was how this was supposed to be. The father was supposed to be supporting the mother, not delivering the babies.

"That's good," Mulder encouraged. He smiled up at her. "Just keep pushing."

The contraction ended after about a minute, and Scully fell back against the chair. The pillow Mulder had placed behind her head earlier had slipped down to rest behind her shoulders and upper back, but she was too tired and sapped of energy to move it. She closed her eyes, briefly wondering if she could stop where she was and continue the next day. It would certainly be nice to have a break.

But of course, she could not do that. The next contraction hit her with greater force than the previous one, causing her to arch her back and cry out in pain. Belatedly, she remembered she had to push, and it took all of her willpower to do this. Mulder continued to talk to her, but she could no longer process what he was saying. Her mind was numb from the pain; she was reacting instinctively now.

During the third contraction, something Mulder said finally registered in her befuddled brain. "The baby's head is crowing!"

Mulder announced. He sounded excited, but Scully could not share his enthusiasm, for she was still thinking of how far they had to go. She could feel the head crowning, though, and it gave her a small measure of hope. On the next contraction, she pushed harder than before and was rewarded when Mulder announced, "I can see half the head now."

Three more pushes finally sent the baby sliding into her father's waiting arms.

Mulder knew he did not have much time to act, for he would have to be ready to coach Scully through the delivery of their second daughter.

Almost as soon as the baby felt the outside air on her skin, she began to scream. Mulder smiled when he heard this, knowing that the baby's cries indicated she was breathing. Quickly, he wrapped her in the towel before wrapping a warm heating pad around it and then another towel. She felt so small and delicate in his hands; Mulder imagined that she could not weigh much over five pounds. He was still having a hard time believing that she was his daughter. The entire situation seemed surreal.

A cry from Scully abruptly drew his attention away from the baby. She was having another contraction. Mulder glanced around wildly but realized with a start that despite how prepared he had tried to be, he had completely forgotten to arrange for somewhere to put the first baby while he delivered the second. Cursing his stupidity, he clutched the screaming baby closer to his body with one arm and knelt down in front of Scully again. Immediately, he rejected this idea.

Delivering the first baby with his hands free had been hard enough; there was no way he was going to be able to deliver a second baby while holding her screaming sister.

Glancing down, he saw that the second baby was already crowning. He did not have many options unfortunately. It was either hold onto the baby or place her own the ground, an action he only briefly considered before dismissing it. Unsure if he could manage but knowing he had no choice, he shifted the first baby to one arm, picking up a towel with his other hand. Scully's contraction had ended him, and she was regarding him as if he was crazy (an expression he had seen quite often over the years). "What do you think you're doing?" she questioned.

"I'm delivering our other daughter," he explained.

"Mulder-" she began, but her words broke out in a loud cry as another contraction hit her. This volume disturbed the baby in Mulder's arms whose cries also increased in volume.

"She's got a set of lungs on her, that's for sure," Mulder mumbled.

Then, louder, he said, "Push, Scully. You can do it."

"You do it," was her only response as she gritted her teeth and followed his order.

Fifteen minutes later, the second baby made her way into the world with a cry to equal her sister's. Somehow, Mulder managed to catch her in the towel one-handed, an action that he doubted he could repeat. But he did not care; all that mattered was that both his daughters were safe in his arms.

He knew he needed to wrap the second baby in something warm quickly, and he needed two hands to complete this task. Sitting cross-legged in the floor, he placed his first daughter in his laps, leaving his hands free to wrap the second baby in the towels and hot pad.

Finished with this action, he picked both babies up again and looked up at Scully. "You okay?" he asked.

She nodded weakly, her face glistening with sweat. In truth, she was far from okay. She felt drained, as if her body was nothing more than a shell. She did not know if she would ever be able to move again.

But there were more pressing matters that they needed to attend to.

"Cut the cords, Mulder," she reminded him weakly.

"Right." He sat down again and shuffled the babies around for a moment before managing to place them both in his lap. He tied off the placenta and cut it with the scissors he had earlier sterilized.

"They're definitely identical," he remarked, seeing the single placenta. Scully smiled.

"Let me see them," she said, holding up her arms weakly.

"You sure you can manage?" Mulder asked with concern, standing with the two babies in his arms.

"Of course. Besides, I want to go ahead and try to breastfeed them."

Mulder transferred the two tiny girls into her waiting arms before helping her to sit up more fully. He watched as she unbuttoned her shirt and helped the babies attach to her nipples as they began to feed. "Mulder," she said.

"Hmm?" He brought his eyes up to her face and immediately noticed how tired she looked. The lids of her eyes were heavy, and her skin seemed paler than usual. Her hair was damp from sweat, curling around her face. Still, she wore a smile wider than any he'd seen in awhile.

"You're not finished yet." She nodded down toward her feet, and he suddenly remembered.

"Oh, yeah." He moved back to her feet to deliver the afterbirth. Once he completed that task, he looked back up at Scully. The babies seemed to have stopped nursing though one was still attached to Scully's breast. They had both stopped crying for the time being which was a pleasant relief. For a moment, Mulder remained motionless, watching them. This was his family. As inconceivable as it was, he had a family now. The three people in front of him were his whole world; he loved them all more than life itself. He vowed then and there that he would do whatever was necessary to ensure that no harm ever came to them.

Scully seemed to sense his gaze, for she looked up at him. When their eyes met, her smile widened. It now seemed to occupy the entire lower half of her face. Looking at her holding the two babies at her breast and smiling broadly, Mulder did not think she had ever looked more beautiful. He opened his mouth to say something, but he only managed to choke out two words. "God, Scully."

It did not matter that he could not articulate his feelings. "I know," she said.

He stood now, walking to them. Crouching down beside her, he reached out to run a finger across the nearest baby's cheek. It was a reddish-purple color which would have worried Mulder a month before.

But he had learned through his extensive reading that this color was natural. "Are they both okay?" he asked.

"They seem fine," Scully assured him. "I want to get them checked out as soon as we can just in case, but I don't notice anything wrong with them. Do you still have the eyedrops?" Mulder nodded and retrieved the eyedrops. Scully had a friend from medical school who worked as an obstetrician in Utah, and they had managed to contact her and convince her to give them both the eyedrops to prevent infection and vitamin K injections. She had seemed extremely suspicious, especially when Scully explained that they were going to do a home birth (she did not mention that the birth would not exactly be in her home, knowing that this information would merely increase her friend's anxiety). Scully had tried to convince her friend that such an action was necessary, but she was loath to give out too many details of their situation. Her friend had insisted on delivering the babies herself for the better part of an hour, but Mulder and Scully steadfastly refused, knowing this could put her life in danger. They would have to rely only on themselves.

Scully held the two girls while Mulder put the eyedrops in. He noticed that both his daughters had blue eyes that closely resembled Scully's; he hoped they retained that color as the girls grew older.

He would rather have his daughters take after Scully in looks.

Hopefully, they would take after her in intelligence, too.

The first girl squirmed some when she felt the moisture hit her eyes, but she soon settled against her mother again. Their second daughter began to cry again, and Mulder set the eyedrops aside, reaching for her. Gently, he picked her up, slowly rocking her back and forth.

"Shh, let's not do that," he whispered, staring at her as she swung back and forth. Beneath the towel, he saw tufts of brown hair, still slightly wet. So it seemed she had not inherited all her mother's characteristics.

"We should probably get some warm water and clean them off thoroughly," Scully said. Mulder nodded, still watching his daughter.

She seemed quite aware, staring at him with her wide blue eyes. He knew that he would be a sucker for those eyes in the years to come.

After passing the baby back to Scully, Mulder left to warm some water. When he came back with it, he bathed the babies fully before drying them with clean towels and dressing them. He gave them both the Vitamin K shots (a process neither liked). Passing one back to Scully, he rocked the other, noticing that she finally seemed to be succumbing to sleep. "We still need to give them names," he reminded Scully.

"I was thinking we could name them after our sisters," Scully said.

He looked up at her, unsure. "I was just thinking it would be a nice reminder of how we got where we are today. A way to remember the people who've had such an effect on our lives." Mulder considered her words for a moment before nodding.

"Have you thought of middle names yet?"

"I figured I'd leave that up to you."

"Giving me the hard part, huh?" He smiled. After a moment, his eyes took on a faraway look, and Scully could tell he was deep in thought.

Finally, he spoke again. "Hope and Faith," he said. "Because they have also helped us get here today."

"Melissa Hope and Samantha Faith. It's perfect," Scully decided. She looked down at the baby in her arms, touching the tiny curled fist with one of her fingers. "Hello, Melissa." The baby gazed unblinkingly up at her. Scully did not know why she had chosen Melissa for the baby in her arms; the other baby could just have easily been Melissa. But from that moment on, the baby she held would be Melissa. Even if the two were identical, Scully knew she would never mix them up.

"Hello, Samantha," Mulder echoed, looking down at the bundle he held.


For the next few hours, the babies and Scully slept, waking up every couple hours or so for feeding time. Mulder cleaned up as best as he could. He knew he should feel tired, too, for it was nearing dawn, and he had been up all night. But he was feeling more energized than ever.

After he had cleaned up, Mulder stood back and indulged in one of his favorite pastimes: watching Scully sleep. Only now it was not just Scully sleeping. It was Scully and Samantha and Melissa, his two daughters. Two tiny, perfect creatures who were part him and part her. He could scarcely believe it.

Scully sensed his gaze; she slowly opened her eyes and looked up at him. "Are you okay?" he asked as soon as he noticed she was awake.

"You need anything?"

"Nope. I've got everything I need right here."

He smiled at this response. "How are you feeling?"

"A bit worn out, but that's to be expected. I also feel badly in need of a shower."

"That's going to have to wait. You shouldn't be moving around much yet."

"Mmm." Scully looked down at the two babies cuddled against her breast.

"You want me to take them for a little bit?" Mulder offered.

"No, I like them here," Scully told him. And she did. She loved holding the two miracle babies—babies she was never supposed to be able to have. It was wonderful to see the steady rise and fall of their chests, to know that they were hers. And this time, she would get to experience everything. Unlike Emily, who she had only known for a short time, she would be there from the start. She could see their first steps, hear their first words, teach them to read, cry as they left for their first day of school. And she would not be doing it alone. Looking up at the man standing in front of her, she knew Mulder was in for the long haul. He was staring at the three of them with an expression he used to reserve only for his precious X-Files.

Scully knew that if he was half as devoted to their family as he was to his cases, she would be far better off than most mothers.

"You should try to get some more sleep," Mulder finally said, walking closer to her. He tucked her hair behind her ear and kissed her temple gently.

"What about you? You haven't slept either."

"I also didn't just give birth to twins. Don't worry about me. I've survived on much less sleep, trust me." His right hand still rested on her face. Gently, he began to run it through her hair, massaging her scalp gently with his deft fingers. Scully's exhaustion soon took over, and she felt her eyelids grow heavy.

"Wake me up in a couple hours. I want to get them on a regular feeding schedule now," she instructed before she completely succumbed to Morpheus.

"Will do," he promised, softly kissing her again. He continued to gently comb her hair until her deep breathing assured him that she had fallen asleep.

With nothing better to do, he dug through one of the bags until he found a baby book. Choosing a corner where a small hole in the wall allowed some of the early morning light to enter the barn, he sat down to read about what to expect during the first week after birth.

As he read, he would periodically glance up at the three people sleeping in front of him, assuring himself that they were still safe and well.

The babies and Scully slept for the first part of the day in two to three hour stretches. Mulder remained awake for the entire period, changing them when they needed it. If not, however, he was content to simply sit back and watch Scully interact with their children. He had never before imagined himself in his current position. It was not so much that he had resigned himself to a life of bachelorhood; it was more that he had never thought he had another option. After all, no one wanted to start a family with a man who believed in UFO's and vampires. But now that he was standing here, he could not imagine himself being anywhere else.

Scully had never before considered the beauty of breastfeeding, but she now realized that it was much more than a biological process. It was a bonding activity between her and her daughters. It was a way to connect them together forever, and she suddenly realized why the men only wanted her daughters within the first week after their birth.

Already, she was establishing a bond with them that would not be easily broken. She suspected that on some level, they already saw her as their mother or at least as their provider.

Mulder was bonding with his daughters in his own way. After Scully had finished feeding one of them, he was tasked with putting her back to sleep. At around 5:00 that night, he held Melissa in his arms, softly pacing around the room as he cuddled her to his body. Scully and Samantha were asleep in the chair. Though they had woken the girls together for the first couple feedings, Mulder and Scully soon discovered that their daughters were more like them than they first realized—the two small babies already had minds of their own. They began to wake separately, giving Scully only an hour's rest or less between each feeding. Mulder could tell this highly irregular sleep pattern was taking its toll on Scully, but she never once complained.

In fact, she usually gave a small smile when one of the babies cried, gladly waking to help her daughter feed.

Mulder was overcome by a sudden feeling of uneasiness. He stopped pacing abruptly, causing Melissa to squirm in protest. She liked the steady motion of her father's pacing. But for the first time that day, Mulder was not paying attention to his daughter. His senses were on high alert, searching for anything out of the ordinary. He could tell that something was wrong. Call it instinct or a sixth sense or even clairvoyance—something was telling him that he needed to leave the barn quickly.

He crossed the barn in five long strides, stopping at the open suitcases he and Scully had been living out of for the past week.

Quickly, he shoved everything he could reach into the duffels and zipped them shut. Sensing his anxiety, Melissa began to whimper.

Luckily, she had not broken out into full-blown cries yet. Holding her with one arm and attempting to sooth her as best as he could, Mulder grabbed the two duffels and carried them to the car. The sense of dread was steadily growing stronger, and his pace quickened. He tossed the duffels in the back seat and shifted the junk around for a moment before managing to extract the two infant car seats they had bought earlier. He strapped Melissa in one and tried unsuccessfully to buckle it onto the seat. Melissa did not tolerate the change in location well; she screamed loudly, and Mulder briefly wondered if her wails would attract their enemies sooner. He quickly dismissed this theory; it did not matter how much noise they made now. Whoever was chasing them knew where they were already.

The seatbelt did not want to cooperate; it continued to lock up on him until Mulder finally released it with a curse, allowing it to snap back into place. The sense of foreboding was overwhelming now; it felt as if it was literally suffocating him, drawing the oxygen out of the air around him. Setting the car seat on the ground, he raced back inside and jogged over to Scully. Placing one arm under her back and one beneath her legs, he lifted her effortlessly into his arms. She was still holding Samantha tightly which made Mulder's job slightly easier.

The weight of Scully's body slowed Mulder down a bit, but his stride was still quick and long as he made his way back to the SUV. As he left the barn, he glanced around. Luckily, they had not unpacked all of the items in the car yet, so only a few items remained in the barn, including some of the food, the blankets, and the chair, all things they could do without. Mulder did not have time to worry about things; he needed to get back to the car and get his family out of there.

Scully woke up as he carried her; it took her a moment to orient herself to her surroundings. "Mulder, what are you doing?" she finally asked groggily.

"Something's wrong. We're getting out of here," he answered.

"What? What's going on?"

"I don't know. I just know that something's not right." By this time, they had reached the car. With some deft maneuvering that he would not have believed himself capable of, Mulder opened the passenger's side door and deposited Scully and the baby on the seat. The dread was pressing around him now, and his breathing was labored. Quickly, he closed the car door and walked to the back. Opening the door, he unbuckled Melissa from the seat and transferred her to her mother's arms. He did not have time to try to figure out how to attach the infant seat to the seat of the car. They needed to leave as fast as possible.

Just as Mulder slammed the car door shut, he turned and found himself face to face with the alien bounty hunter. Reaching out, the man grabbed him around the neck and pushed him up against the car, pressing against Mulder's windpipe. He heard Scully's shout, muffled through the closed car door, and tried to motion to her to take the babies and go. She did not seem to understand his message, however, and Mulder realized with a start that even if she did, it would not matter. He had the only set of keys to the car in his pocket.

It was for these keys that he reached now. He remembered one of the things his father had taught him when he was a young boy: "If anyone ever attacks you, sometimes keys can be the most effective weapon."

Of course, Mulder could not risk breaking the bounty hunter's skin; he certainly was not going to expose his family to the alien virus.

Instead, he thrust the jagged pieces of metal into the alien's eyes.

Abruptly, the pressure on Mulder's neck released, and he scrambled around the car, his breathing ragged. By the time he reached the driver's door, the bounty hunter had already recovered. Instead of coming for Mulder again, he smashed the window with his fist and reached for the babies. Scully was screaming, telling him not to take her babies. Her body was turned, shielding the small girls as best as she could from the man's grasping hand. Mulder fumbled for a moment with the keys before he managed to slip it into the ignition. He turned it quickly before pressing down on the gas pedal, making the large car fight for traction in the soft dirt. Finally, the tires caught, and they were off like a shot, bouncing wildly along the dirt road that they had traversed just over a week before. The bounty hunter's arm was pulled from the window, and Mulder caught a glimpse of him racing back to his own vehicle before the road curved, obscuring his vision of the alien.

Still pushing the car to a speed much faster than was strictly safe on the narrow, winding dirt road, Mulder chanced a glance at Scully.

She seemed to be in a state of shock, still clutching the two babies tightly against her. Both girls were screaming loudly now, their tiny faces screwed up in distress. "You okay?" Mulder asked. It was a question he seemed to be asking quite often lately.

Scully nodded. "Yeah, we're all fine."

Mulder suddenly noticed the green blood bubbling feebly on the jagged window edge. "Scully," he said, nodding to the toxic substance.

"I don't think it matters, Mulder."

"Scully, that blood is toxic! We've seen the effects ourselves."

"I know, Mulder, but we were exposed to it when we first started running, and neither of us developed any of the symptoms of infection. I've been thinking about that actually. I think we're both immune to the virus now, you because of your exposure to it in arctic four years ago and me because of my own... experience in Antarctica." Mulder flinched involuntarily. Though the event she spoke of had occurred nearly a year before, he still found it difficult to come to terms with how close he had come to losing her.

"What about the girls?"

"There are certain antibodies, specifically of the IgG isotype, that can cross the placenta and give the developing fetus passive immunity. Maybe the antibodies for this virus can also do that."

"So you're saying our daughters were born with an immunity to the alien virus?"

"I don't know anything for sure, but they don't seem to be affected by the blood so far. In all previous cases, exposure caused immediate symptoms, none of which the girls are displaying. Obviously, we'll have to watch them carefully, but I think that they're okay." She peered at her daughters. Samantha had started to calm down somewhat, but Melissa was still screaming loudly.

"Babies born with an immunity to the alien virus," Mulder breathed.

"No wonder they want them so much. Think about what that would mean to the Syndicate."

"It's what they've been working for since the beginning."

Mulder was about to speak again when the something collided with the rear of the car, sending it lurching forward. Mulder's chest hit the steering wheel, hard, leaving him unable to react for a moment. Both babies' cries grew louder, and Scully held them close, glancing fearfully behind them. The bounty hunter was in a large black SUV similar to the one in which they were currently riding. His face was devoid of any expression as he sped up once more, intent on ramming them again.

"Mulder, he's coming again!" Scully shouted.

"I know, but there's not a damn thing I can do about it," Mulder said tightly. Trees surrounded them on both sides, pressing so close to the road that Mulder barely had room to drive the large vehicle straight, much less try to evade a pursuer. He pressed harder on the gas pedal, coaxing a bit more speed out of the vehicle. Scully looked back again to see that the bounty hunter had also sped up, still gaining steadily on the car. The impact this time was even more jarring than the first; Scully's seatbelt locked across her chest as she was thrown forward. The babies' wails echoed around the interior of the car.

"Mulder!" Scully shouted. The collision had sent the car careening to the right, straight for a large oak tree. Mulder swung the wheel left again, fighting the tires which seemed intent on continuing toward the tree. Eventually, his efforts were rewarded; the car moved to the left just before hitting the trunk, bouncing back onto the road. A couple of the lower branches scratched across the top of the car as if the tree was desperately trying to reclaim its prey.

Mulder saw the trees thinning and knew they were nearing the pothole-riddled road. A glance in his rear view mirror told him that the bounty hunter was still close behind him though he no longer seemed to be gaining. Mulder wondered if this matched speed was merely a ruse to lure him into a false sense of security or if the bounty hunter truly could not push his car faster. The speedometer told Mulder they were going just above sixty, a speed already much too fast for the narrow dirt road.

When they reached the end of the dirt road, Mulder turned without lowering his speed much. The tires slid across the rough surface, nearly plunging all four over the side of the road into a large ditch. He swerved for a few seconds, weaving back and forth across both lanes before managing to straighten the car and continue down the road at breakneck speeds. He bounced violently in his seat, but he had no time to concern himself with discomfort. He just needed to outrun the bounty hunter.

Scully was having an even harder time with the road. She was already sore from giving birth, and the jolting of the car had merely worsened the pain. She suspected that she was likely bleeding; after all, she never took the time to heal before their impromptu car chase. But she could not worry about that now. They had much more pressing problems.

When Mulder glanced in the rear view mirror again, he noticed the bounty hunter was no longer behind them. Wondering if luck was finally on their side, Mulder returned his eyes back to the road when he suddenly realized why the bounty hunter was not directly behind them. He had pulled his SUV up beside Mulder's, adjusting his speed so that their front tires remained next to each other. Jerking the steering wheel to the right, the bounty hunter brought his SUV into contact with the side of Mulder's. Mulder tried to fight him off by swinging his own steering wheel in the opposite direction, but his efforts were in vain. The tires continued to slide toward the right, off the road.

"Hold on, Scully!" he commanded as the tires skidded off the road, hitting the dirt with a lurch. The car was heading straight for a thicket of bushes; this time, Mulder could do nothing to prevent it.

With no other option, he took his hands off the steering wheel and raised one arm in front of his face. The other arm reached out for Scully, trying desperately to keep her and the babies safe.

Luckily, the crash was not as bad as Mulder had feared. The bushes were soft, yielding somewhat under the force of the car. The air bags engaged, and Mulder fought his off for a moment before looking over to see how Scully had fared. She seemed none the worse for wear; she still held both babies close. Both were red-faced from crying, and Mulder wondered briefly how much the stress of the ordeal would affect them. But he did not have much time to worry about this particular problem. Seeing Scully's gaze trained on something outside his window, he shifted his eyes in that direction to see that the bounty hunter had parked his car on the road above them and had already started to climb out.

"Go, Scully," Mulder commanded, already turning to find one of the duffels he had earlier deposited in the car.

"No. I'm not leaving you here."

"We don't just have to worry about ourselves anymore," Mulder reminded her, glancing pointedly at the babies in her arms. "I want you to take them and run. Get to the nearest town as fast as you can."

"What are you going to do?"

"I'm going to hold him off." Mulder found the duffel bag he was looking for and hauled it into the front seat. Scully still had not moved from her position. "Go!" Mulder ordered, more vehemently this time. With one last pleading look, Scully opened the door and began to run away from the car.

Mulder chanced a glance up toward the road and saw that the bounty hunter was now only a few feet away from the car. His hands began to dig frantically through the bag, searching for what might be their only chance of escape. "Come on, come on," he muttered under his breath, tossing clothes and other items to the side in his desperation. His fingers closed over the object he was searching for just as the door to the SUV was pulled open so violently one of the hinges gave way. A large hand reached in and lifted him bodily from the seat by his neck. The bounty hunter held him in the air, his feet a couple inches off the ground, simply staring at him. For the second time that day, Mulder could not draw a breath. He felt his head begin to spin from lack of oxygen, but he forced himself to remain cool as he raised the empty syringe he had taken from the bag. With all the strength he could muster, he reached behind the bounty hunter's head and jammed the needle into his neck.

Immediately, the pressure on Mulder's neck released as the bounty hunter collapsed to the ground, green blood bubbling from the wound.

Mulder spent a couple seconds regaining his breath before forcing himself to his feet and taking off in the direction Scully had earlier run. It did not take long for him to catch up to her; when he called to her, she turned around cautiously. "Mulder?" she asked fearfully, hardly daring to believe it could really be him. She knew the bounty hunter's powers; he had appeared to her as her partner before, and she did not doubt that he might try the same trick again.

"It's me, Scully," he assured her, his voice slightly hoarse. "Your name is Dana Katherine Scully. The two girls you're holding are Melissa Hope and Samantha Faith. I don't really know what their last names will be yet; we haven't exactly discussed that. Of course, we haven't really had a chance."

"What happened, Mulder?" Scully asked, approaching him.

"I stabbed him in the neck with the syringe. It's not the same as the typical weapon, but it seemed to work." His breathing was coming in shallow gasps, partially from anxiety and partially from his bruised windpipes.

"You can't know that, Mulder. You thought you left him for dead once before, remember?" She looked up at him fearfully.

"He's dead, Scully. Now, come on, let's get back. We need to get out of here before they send others after us." He put a hand on the small of her back to lead her off. As soon as she started walking, he noticed her wince in pain and immediately cursed himself. How could he have been so stupid? She had just given birth. She should not have even been standing, much less running away from an alien bounty hunter carrying two babies. "Scully."

"Yeah, Mulder?" She was trying desperately not to let the pain she felt show on her face, knowing how perceptive he was. Unfortunately, it seemed he had already noticed; he was staring at her with the look of concern she knew well. "Mulder, I'll be okay. It just hurts a little." Shaking his head, he bent down and picked her up again.

Feeling something wet and sticky on his arm, he looked down and noticed something he had not before because of the dark color of her pants.

"Scully, you're bleeding."

"It's not bad," she said. "Most mothers bleed some after birth."

"Yes, but not this much. Scully, something's wrong."

"Mulder, I'm fine," she insisted, but the weakness in her voice betrayed her.

"I'm taking you to a hospital," he declared firmly, walking back to the car with long strides. As dangerous as he knew it was to take this action, he was not taking a chance with Scully's life.

"No, Mulder," she protested feebly. "It's too dangerous."

"It's too dangerous not to."

"They know where we are now. We can't stop at a hospital here; there's a good chance that they could find us and take the babies."

Scully had only insisted on the hospital initially for the health of her babies. Now that she held two healthy infants in her arms, she was not going to risk their lives by stopping at the hospital.

"Scully." His voice was pleading.

"Mulder, I don't want to put our daughter's lives at risk. There's a bottle of Pitocin in the car; it should stop the bleeding somewhat.

If it doesn't return to normal in twenty-four hours, then we can stop at a hospital, okay?"

Mulder looked down at her. Her face was still pale, and he could tell she felt a significant amount of pain, but he also knew that going to a hospital could be just as dangerous as staying out of one. Finally, he conceded with a sigh. "If it gets any worse, we're stopping at a hospital immediately. End of story."

"Okay. But I think with a little rest, I should be fine."

He shook his head at her. By this time, they had reached the car.

Mulder was happy to see a puddle of green goo on the ground not far from the driver's door; obviously, he had managed to kill the bounty hunter this time. Seeing that the damage was fairly extensive to their car, he turned toward the car the bounty hunter had been driving. Opening the door, he settled Scully onto the front seat of the car. She still held the babies who had quieted and were finally starting to fall asleep, worn out by the ordeal they had endured.

Scully smiled tiredly at him, and he gently kissed her forehead before brushing his fingers against her skin.

"I'll get their car seats so that you can put them down for a little bit and get some rest," he said, moving away. Scully nodded as he walked back to the other car.

With more time, he managed to secure both car seats in the back, placing his daughters carefully in them. Though the car seats were designed for infants, they still seemed to dwarf the small girls. But Mulder supposed this was only natural; after all, Melissa and Samantha were only one day old and had been small at birth.

Mulder transferred all of their luggage to the second SUV. On a sudden impulse, he also switched the license plates on the two cars, hoping that this action would make them harder to find. Climbing into the driver's seat, he took a quick survey of the occupants of the car and noticed that they were all already asleep. He knew he should also be sleeping; he had not had sleep in over thirty-six hours and was running off of adrenaline. But he did not have time to sleep. They needed to leave the area as quickly as possible.


Thank you to everyone who reviewed. I'm sorry it took so long to get to this, but I've been insanely busy lately. Basically, I just changed a few things around at the suggestion of one of the reviewers. There's also an epilogue now, and the next story should be out soon.

Melissa's cries finally woke Scully three hours later. Night had fallen, and Scully could not see more than a few feet in front of her. She blinked, rubbing her eyes slightly. "I guess someone's hungry," she said.

"That's what it sounds like."

"Think you can pull off up here so I can get her out?"

"Sure." Mulder pulled off to the side of the road, turning his emergency flashers on so he would be visible to passing cars.

Unbuckling her seatbelt, Scully started to get out of the car, but Mulder stopped her. "Stay seated. I'll get her." Opening his door, he walked around to the back and unstrapped his daughter from her car seat. Reentering the car, he passed the baby to Scully who unbuttoned her shirt and pulled down her nursing bra, allowing the baby to begin to feed. Mulder reached up and turned on the overhead light.

"Where are we?" Scully asked as Melissa sucked greedily.

Mulder shrugged. "I don't really know. I've just been driving."

"How long have I been out?"

"About three hours. But I've been pushing eighty the whole time, so we should be pretty far away from the barn now."

"Maybe we should find somewhere to stop for the night." Even in the dim light, she could see the shadows under his eyes and the haggard look of his face.

He shook his head. "I want to put as much distance between us and that barn as possible. If they could find us there, how much time do you think it's going to take for them to track us now?"

"Mulder, when was the last time you slept?"

"I'm fine, Scully. I've had less sleep before."

"Mulder, you're practically dead on your feet. You shouldn't be driving."

"And you should be in a hospital instead of sitting in a car. But unfortunately, circumstances don't allow either of those things."

Samantha chose that moment to wake up, and Mulder again got out of the car to retrieve her. When Scully had both girls at her breast nursing, he watched them with a slightly sad expression.

"This is not exactly how I imagined the birth of my first child."

Mulder rubbed his eyes, clenching his jaw muscles to avoid yawning, knowing such an action would instantly increase Scully's concerns. "I never really imagined having children," he admitted, his brain not alert enough to realize what the inevitable reaction to that comment would be.

Scully's head shot up, and she looked at him apprehensively. "You regret this?" she asked.

Mulder shook his head. "No, of course not. I just never saw myself as a father. I mean, I have so many demons in my past, Scully. How can I take care of kids when I can barely take care of myself?"

"Do you love the girls, Mulder?"

"Of course I do."

"Then you'll be a wonderful father."

They finally stopped at a motel about an hour after sunrise. Mulder left Scully in the car as he went to check in. As he walked to the front desk, he caught sight of his reflection in the grimy glass of the window. He looked as if he had not had any sleep for two days.

His hair was unkempt, a few days' stubble graced his chin (he had not had much opportunity to shave at the barn), and his hazel eyes were red-rimmed. He wore dark jeans and an old green t-shirt; both items of clothing were spotted with dirt and, on closer inspection, blood.

Mulder sighed. He supposed he had looked worse over the years, and he had never cared before.

The motel clerk gave him a single cursory glance before handing over the key to the room as Mulder counted out the correct amount of cash.

Returning to the car, he opened the driver's side door. Scully was partially awake, still holding both girls. Samantha was sleeping, but Melissa had begun to stir in her mother's arms. Even after only a day, Mulder recognized that she would be clamoring for food before long. As he had done numerous times over the past twenty-four hours, Mulder slid his arms beneath Scully's body and lifted her off the seat, carefully maneuvering her through the door of the car.

"What are you doing?" Scully asked as he began walking to their room.

Her eyelids were partially closed, and her breathing was deeper than normal.

"I'm carrying you over the threshold," Mulder quipped.

"You know I'm perfectly capable of walking."

"I'm not risking it, Scully. You need to recover."

"I'm f-"

"If you say the word fine, I'm not going to let you walk for the next two weeks."

"Fabulous," Scully finished. He grinned.

"I guess I'll take that. For now." Having reached the door, he pulled out the key to the room and fumbled for a moment before managing to insert it into the lock. The door swung open, and he walked quickly to the large, king-sized bed and deposited Scully on top of it. She immediately closed her eyes.

"It feels good to be back in a real bed," she remarked, leaning her head against the wall. Unfortunately, she did not have long to relax; Melissa gave a single wail, and Scully immediately focused her attention on her daughter.

"I'll take Samantha while I finish unloading the car," Mulder offered, lifting the baby from Scully's arms. He shifted her light body to one arm as he walked back to the SUV to retrieve their luggage.

It took Mulder three trips to bring in everything they would need for the day since he was still holding Samantha. When he finished, he sprawled out on the bed next to Scully who was still nursing Melissa.

She gave him a small, tired smile which he returned before groaning and closing his eyes. "I don't know about you, but I'm beat," he remarked.

"I can't imagine why," Scully said dryly.

Mulder shifted slightly, adjusting his posture so that he was half-sitting, half-lying with Samantha still in his arms. "You're right. A real bed is nice." His eyes slid shut, and he finally allowed sleep to overtake him.

Samantha woke Mulder just over an hour later. With a groan, he opened his eyes and looked down at the tiny baby in his arms, amazed that such loud screams could come from something so small. Since Scully still seemed to be sleeping, Mulder decided to try and solve the problem himself. He swung his legs off the bed, standing and crossing to the bag of baby paraphernalia he had carried in an hour before. A few seconds of searching produced clean diapers, a changing pad, and baby powder. Spreading the changing pad on a window ledge, Mulder quickly changed his daughter's diaper, finding the task was becoming easier with practice. At least he put the diaper on the correct way this time.

The diaper change did not quiet Samantha, however. Knowing she was likely hungry, Mulder had resigned himself to waking Scully when he heard a soft voice behind him say, "Give her here." Turning, he saw Scully already awake, staring at him, her blue eyes still clouded with sleep. He passed her Samantha, taking Melissa for a much-needed diaper change.

After changing her, Mulder began to pace the small room with Melissa in his arms. He had already found that the easiest way to put her to sleep was constant motion. Her sister did not mind simply being held, but Melissa liked to always be moving. Mulder felt drained; he knew he needed to sleep, but his desire to take care of his daughter overwhelmed that particular need for the moment. He would be able to sleep eventually. He could survive until that time.

By evening, Mulder and Scully had only managed to catch four or five hours sleep each. It was far from enough, but it would have to do.

They ate a lunch of cold canned soup and dried fruit, certainly not the most appetizing meal in the world, but it appeased their empty stomachs, and they cared about nothing else. For dinner, Mulder found nothing but some slightly stale crackers, having left the rest of the food in the barn during their hasty escape. Frustrated, he slammed his fist into the wall, startling the babies, both of whom began to cry.

"Mulder, what's the matter?" Scully asked as she soothed her daughters.

"We're out of food," he muttered irritably. Lack of sleep was beginning to take its toll on him; he was exhausted and testy, and the latest problem was doing nothing to help his mood.

"We can go buy some more."

"No, Scully, you need to rest. You're not going anywhere."

"Then you go get food. I'll stay here."

"I'm not leaving you alone and unprotected."

"Mulder, those are your only two options. I'll be fine here with the girls, I promise. I'm a trained federal agent, and my weapon is in easy reach."

"Scully-"

"Mulder, we need food. Now go!"

Sighing, he looked at her a final time before leaving. Stopping at the first fast food restaurant he came to, he picked up a salad for Scully and a chicken sandwich for himself along with two orders of fries. After paying, he returned to the motel and was relieved to find Scully still lounging on the bed in their room feeding Melissa.

Mulder set the food down in front of her and took Melissa from her arms, placing the sleeping baby in one of the cribs he had set up earlier. Before stepping away, he ran a finger gently down the baby's cheek, marveling at the smoothness of the skin. Samantha made a small noise in her sleep but did not stir. He watched her for a couple more minutes before turning to Scully. "I'm going to get something to drink from the vending machine. Want anything?"

"Sure. I'll take whatever."

"Okay. I'll be back in just a minute."

"We'll be here."

They spent the next day at the motel, too. After the frantic chase from the barn and the full night of driving, both needed the rest. Of course, they did not receive quite as much rest as they had hoped; Melissa and Samantha kept them up for a significant portion of the day. Neither had slept more than two hours in one stretch since the girls were born. Their constant worrying about whoever was chasing them certainly did not help the insomnia either.

When they finally hit the road the following morning, both were still exhausted but determined not to allow this fact to show. Mulder combated his fatigue with caffeine, trying desperately to keep his eyes open as they traveled over the seemingly endless back roads that offered nothing to see except for the occasional shrub or broken fence. Neither Mulder nor Scully truly knew where they were; they had not passed a sign for any major highway or interstate in many miles.

This lack of knowledge of their current whereabouts did not bother Mulder at all; if he himself did not know where they were, it would be virtually impossible for the Syndicate to know.

Three more days of travel finally brought them to a recognizable interstate, and Mulder began traveling east, intending to taking them back to DC since the week was nearly over. He and Scully were past exhaustion by that point; nerves and lack of sleep had left them barely conscious. They went about their activities automatically, both barely aware of what they were doing. Samantha's constant crying during the long hours in the car certainly did not help matters at all. Melissa was content to sit quietly in her infant seat until she needed fed or changing; the motion of the car seemed to soothe her in much the same way as pacing or rocking did. But Samantha was a whole different story. Mulder was not sure if she just did not like the car or if she could somehow sense the tension which hung heavy in the air around them. Though Samantha would quiet somewhat when Scully held her, she still wailed for most of the trip, wearing on both her parents' nerves.

As they passed a road sign giving their location, Scully turned to Mulder. "I know a doctor not too far from here. I'd like to stop and get the girls checked out."

Mulder nodded. "You should get checked out while you're there. Make sure that everything's okay."

"Mulder."

"Scully, please. Do this for my peace of mind if nothing else."

She nodded in assent. "I also want to do genotyping on both girls. I know I said originally that I didn't want to know, but rationally, I realize that we need to do this... just in case there are problems." Her voice broke on the last word, and Mulder knew she was thinking of Emily, wondering if these two babies could be torn from her as violently as the daughter she had barely known.

"Whatever we find, it's not going to change the fact that these babies are ours," he said with more confidence than he felt. "And we're going to protect them from whoever or whatever might want to hurt them."

"What if we find out that they're not completely... human."

Mulder let out a long breath. He had been wondering the same thing since they first found out about the pregnancy. The visit from the Cigarette Smoking Man had merely increased his concern. After all, why would the Syndicate be so eager to kidnap the babies if they were ordinary? "We'll cross that bridge when we come to it," Mulder finally said. Melissa chose that moment to wake up with a loud cry, and Mulder sighed as Scully turned around to retrieve her from her carseat. "What's wrong now, Hopper?" he questioned as the baby's wails became more frantic. He had given her the nickname the day before because of her constant need to be in motion, referencing the movie Speed. Scully had tried to talk him out of calling her by that particular appellation, especially since the character portrayed by that actor was a mad man who wired a bomb to a bus, but Mulder ignored her protests. And so Melissa had become Hopper. Scully wondered why Mulder could not choose a normal nickname like Princess or Sweetheart. But Mulder was far from normal; she should have expected his nickname to also be different.

Scully turned to the baby in her arms, cooing to her as she unbuttoned her blouse. As fatigued as she was, both physically and emotionally, she did not feel like dealing with her screaming daughter at the moment, but she knew she had no choice. The babies depended on her and Mulder, and she could not let the strain of their birth and the subsequent escape affect her ability to care for them.

After finding her friend in a local phone book, Scully called and was happy to find Nadine at home and willing to help her out (after spending fifteen minutes berating Scully). Using the directions Nadine provided, Mulder managed to find her house. He walked to the back of the car to receive the girls as Scully struggled out of the front, too proud to ask for help or to acknowledge the pain which still shot through her body every time she moved. They walked to the door, and Mulder rang the bell. A few seconds later, a woman in her early thirties with wavy brown hair answered. She smiled when she saw Scully. "Dana, it's been too long," she said, enveloping Scully in a hug. Scully returned it with slight hesitation before turning to Mulder and the babies.

"Nadine, this is Fox Mulder and our daughters, Samantha and Melissa.

Mulder, this is Nadine Roberts. We went to medical school together."

"It's nice to meet you." Mulder started to hold out a hand before realizing that both his hands were currently full. He settled for a smile instead.

"You, too. Well, come on in." She led them into a spacious kitchen and gestured to two chairs at the table. Mulder and Scully both sat, and Mulder placed the two carriers on the table. Nadine had retrieved her medical kit and walked over to Melissa with a stethoscope hanging around her neck. "Am I looking for anything in particular, Dana?" she asked as she picked up the baby.

"No. I just want to make sure they're healthy."

"Didn't they tell you at the hospital?"

"We didn't exactly go to the hospital."

"What are you talking about?"

"We had a home birth."

"A home birth? Dana, you of all people should know how dangerous that can be."

"I didn't have much choice, Nadine. Please, I just want to know that they're healthy."

Nadine stared at Scully for a few more seconds before finally turning her attention back to Melissa who was squirming in her arms. She spent a few minutes examining the baby, murmuring reassuringly to her the whole time. When she finally finished, she passed the baby to Mulder. "She's perfectly healthy," Nadine assured the two worried parents. "A bit small, but that's to be expected with twins." Mulder and Scully both nodded as she moved on to examine Samantha. Once she had finished with both babies, Mulder turned to Scully expectantly.

Scully shook her head slightly, her eyes displaying those two words which had become a catchphrase for her. He also shook his head.

"You're not fine, Scully."

Sighing, Scully turned to Nadine. "Nadine, would you mind examining me? Someone seems to think that there's something wrong." She glared at Mulder.

"Sure." She glanced between the two of them, obviously sensing the tension. "Why don't you come to my bedroom? You'll be more comfortable there."

"Thank you." Scully started to stand, flinching slightly in pain. The involuntary action did not escape Nadine's nor Mulder's notice.

"You're having pain?" Nadine questioned.

"Some," Scully admitted reluctantly. "But don't all women have some pain?"

"I would expect tenderness or some soreness, but from your reaction I'm guessing it's worse than that. You should be in a hospital."

"I told you, Nadine, that's unfortunately not possible."

Nadine sighed. "Come on. I'll see what I can do for you. I have some stuff here that might help somewhat, but I can't guarantee anything."

When they left Nadine's house later that night, both Mulder and Scully were feeling slightly more at ease. Nadine had assured them that they had two healthy daughters. Scully had decided to do the genotyping herself through the labs at Quantico, for she did not trust anyone else to do it.

Scully herself was not healing as well as Nadine would have liked, and the other woman had clicked her tongue at the two agents and explained over and over again that they needed to go to a hospital.

Still, Scully refused, and Nadine eventually relented and gave her something for the pain and instructions on how to speed up the healing process somewhat, including an order for Scully to remain in bed as much as possible over the next couple weeks.

As they buckled the infant seats into the car, Scully spent a moment staring at them. "It seems too good to be true," she finally said.

"I know. But maybe we've finally gotten a break."

"Maybe."

"You don't sound convinced."

"You know me. I take some convincing."

As they pulled away, neither one noticed the dark sedan parked in front of Nadine's house, partially hidden from view by the branches of a large willow tree. Inside the car, a woman pulled out a cell phone and dialed a number she had memorized long before. A gravelly voice answered after the first ring. "Yes?"

"They're all still alive. They just stopped at a house to have the babies checked out by a doctor. I believe she's an old friend of Agent Scully's."

"And what did they discover?"

"That the babies are perfectly healthy."

"Good. Keep a close eye on them." The man blew out a cloud of cigarette smoke. It curled around his face before dissipating.

"Of course." Diana hung up the phone and looked in the direction in which the car had just gone. She felt an involuntary stab of jealousy, but she quashed it quickly. She had work to do now. If everything went according to plan, she would have Fox Mulder soon enough. She could wait until that time.

When they stopped at another run down motel one night ten days after the twins' birth, both Mulder and Scully had nearly reached their breaking point. Samantha had been exceptionally fussy in the car that day, and Melissa had decided to follow her sister's example. Scully had spent the entire day juggling the two screaming babies, unable to quiet them. Mulder had tried his best to ignore the cacophony of noise in the car and focus on the road, but his concentration was far lower than normal. When he finally nearly caused a wreck, he decided to stop for the night. Pulling into a parking space outside the motel, they went through their usual routine like automatons: Mulder checked in, and they grabbed the babies and the bags and headed for their room.

Melissa and Samantha's nearly incessant crying in the car that day seemed to have worn both babies out; they were asleep soon after Mulder carried them into the room. After setting up the cribs, Mulder gently placed his daughters in them and then simply shed his jeans and lay in the bed wearing his t-shirt and boxers. Scully looked critically at the jeans which he had tossed onto a chair beside the window. "You can't just throw your clothes around the place, Mulder,"

she told him.

"Scully, not now, please. I'm too tired for you to lecture me."

"You're tired? Newsflash, Mulder, we're both tired."

"Then go get changed and come to bed."

"Pick up your jeans."

Mulder cracked open his eyes and looked at her. She lay on the bed, glaring at him. He knew her expression well; she would not rest until he did what she wanted. "Fine," he sighed, pushing himself off the bed with a groan. He grabbed the jeans, balled them tightly, and shoved them in his duffel bag with more force than necessary.

"Happy?" he asked, turning back to her. She simply pursed her lips and disappeared into the bathroom. Mulder curled his fists and raised his head, opening his mouth to give a silent scream. The tension that surrounded them had affected their relationship; they barely spoke to one another now, and when they did, their comments were usually terse and unemotional. Physical contact had also become virtually non-existent. They had not kissed in five days, not even a short peck on the cheek. Even Mulder's gentle hand on her back when they walked together had disappeared. Though they slept in the same bed each night, they might as well have been in separate rooms; they both slept as close to the edge as possible, not daring to touch one another. Mulder had no idea when the rift between them had started to form, but it had widened to the point where he wondered if he would ever be able to cross it.

Scully exited the bathroom wearing her pajamas. Her hair was damp, so Mulder suspected she had taken a bath. He knew he himself needed one, but he was too tired to move from his position on the bed. Scully sat down on the opposite side, squeezing the excess moisture out of her hair with a thin white towel. Mulder glanced briefly at her before looking away. When he spoke, he addressed the wall in front of him.

"It's been a ten days now. We should be able to get back to DC soon."

"Then what?" Scully asked. She, too, refused to face Mulder. Her eyes were focused on the still open door to the bathroom.

"We'll find somewhere where you and the girls can lie low for awhile, and I'll go back to work and see if the threat still exists."

"So I'm just supposed to sit tight with the babies while you go gallivanting off doing God knows what?"

"I'm just trying to protect you."

"See, that's the problem, Mulder. You're always trying to protect me.

Sometimes, I just wish you'd treat me like an adult and a trained federal agent."

"Fine. But you still need to stay with the girls. They need protection."

"And what do you plan on doing?"

"I'm going to resume work on the X-Files like I said."

"With Diana." She sneered at the name.

"She is my partner." It was a low blow, and Mulder knew it. But he was angry with Scully, and he felt an irrational desire to make her just as angry with him.

Scully closed her eyes tightly and took a deep breath, forcing her temper to calm. When she spoke, her voice was even, but it had a dangerous undertone that Mulder recognized easily. "Well then what are you doing here?" Mulder did not answer right away. He supposed he should take that opportunity to apologize, to assure Scully that he did not want to be anywhere else, but his frustration with her would not allow him to do this. Instead, they remained in ominous silence.

Finally, Scully said, "You still love her, don't you." Her words were quiet, but they carried so much weight that Mulder heard them easily.

They hung in the air for a moment, thickening the already palpable tension to the point where Scully found it difficult to breathe.

"No," Mulder finally said firmly. His shifted his gaze to Scully who still sat with her back to him, staring at her hands. The towel had fallen from her hands and lay at her feet, but she did not seem to notice this.

"But you trusted her," Scully remarked, just as quietly. "You hadn't seen her for years, but as soon as she walks back into your life, you're acting like nothing's ever happened. I mean, all she has to do is come tell you she might have a lead, and you leave me with Gibson to go chasing after some alien with her. And then even when she doesn't mention anything about this alien in her report, you still believe she's on your side, you still trust her." There. She had finally voiced what had been bugging her for nearly a year. She had tried to push her concerns aside, to pretend that they did not exist, but they had always lurked in the back of her brain, threatening to overcome her each time she heard Diana's name. As much as she hated to admit it, she was jealous. Her jealousy was not so much about Mulder and Diana's previous romantic relationship; she knew that Mulder would never cheat on her. But she was jealous of the trust Mulder put in Diana. She had spent years earning his trust. He had told her on more than one occasion that she was the only person he trusted. And now, Diana had waltzed into his life, and he immediately trusted her though she had done nothing to earn that precious trust.

If anything, Diana had given Mulder plenty of reasons to distrust her.

Mulder knew that they should not be having this particular conversation right then. Both agents were dead tired and stressed, and Scully was still recovering physically from the whole ordeal, so they were not thinking clearly. There was no way they could think rationally and talk through the problems. But Scully had brought up the subject, so they could not avoid it any longer. "That was nearly a year ago, Scully," Mulder reminded her.

"Exactly. And a year later, she's still here, and you still trust her even though she's done nothing to earn that trust."

"I didn't ask for her to be assigned to me. That was all Skinner's doing."

"You didn't ask for her to leave either."

"I really don't understand where this is coming from. I thought you weren't jealous."

"You have a history with this woman, Mulder."

"So? I'm sure you have a history with plenty of guys, and I'm not interrogating you about your relationship with them."

"That's because they're not in my life anymore." Scully could feel her anger rising to the surface, and she knew she needed to distance herself from Mulder before she said or did something she would later regret. "I think you should leave," she told him shortly. At first, he simply stared at her, wanting to object but being unable to find the proper words. She continued to glare at him, and he knew he would get no farther by arguing. Standing, he walked over to the crib to check on the babies. Finding both fast asleep, he turned back to look at Scully one last time. Without another word, he opened the door to the room and slipped out into the night.

Mulder was gone for nearly an hour. Just as Scully was beginning to consider the logistics of going to look for him with two newborns so that she could apologize, the door opened again, and he walked into the room. She avoided his gaze as he crossed the room, looking determinedly at her stomach. Suddenly, she felt a manila folder drop on her stomach. Looking up, she saw Mulder standing over her, watching her carefully. "What is this, Mulder?" she asked. He did not answer verbally but gestured for her to read it. With a sigh, she opened the folder and noticed that it seemed to contain numerous pages of data on the whereabouts of Diana Fowley since she had left Mulder years before. Puzzled, Scully flipped through all the pages, nearly forty of them, before looking up at Mulder who still stood over her, his arms crossed. "Mulder?"

"I had the Gunmen pull up everything they could on her soon after she was shot. I must say, some of it is pretty suspicious. I've tried to question her about it a couple times, but she always brushes it off.

But I've never completely trusted her, Scully. The only reason why I went after that alien with her is because I trusted that you could handle Gibson by yourself, but I didn't trust her to report the truth about whatever she found. And I guess my fears weren't entirely unfounded."

"You told me that she just didn't mention what had actually happened in the report to protect the X-Files."

Mulder smiled slightly at this. It was the first time Scully had seen him smile in a few days. "It was fun to see you jealous," he remarked.

"I was not jealous. I thought you were acting irrationally, letting your previous relationship with her cloud your judgment, but I was not jealous."

"Yes, you were."

Scully decided to ignore this comment. "So you didn't think she was protecting the X-Files?"

Mulder thought carefully. "I wanted to think that," he finally admitted. "I didn't want to think that I had made a mistake in my initial judgment of her so many years ago. But I think part of me always knew that she was not entirely truthful with me, that I couldn't completely trust her. Even when we were more... intimate."

He sat down on the bed beside her feet, still not allowing his body to touch hers. Their eyes were locked together. "You're the only I've ever completely trusted, Scully," he finally told her. "You're the only one who's never betrayed me, never let me down."

"And I never will."

Finally, he reached out and took her hand between his, rubbing it gently between his palms. It was not a particularly intimate gesture, but it instantly sent tingles down Scully's spine. It was the first contact they had had in days, and Scully marveled at how wonderful it felt to have his warm skin touching hers once more. "You never asked Gibson which woman I was thinking of that day we first met him, did you?"

Scully shook her head. "I guess I was afraid of the answer."

"Well, it wasn't Diana."

"But you two seemed so... close."

"We were at one time. We actually talked about marriage, but I never got around to asking her. I guess my subconscious knew that she wasn't the woman I was supposed to spend the rest of my life with.

And when she left me, I didn't feel as devastated as I should have if I was truly that serious."

Scully nodded and leaned her head back against the headboard. She was completely drained. It had been a trying week for both of them, and the conversation they just had, though necessary, was emotionally taxing. Mulder sensed her exhaustion, and he brought her hand up to his lips to place a soft kiss on the back. "Go to sleep," he instructed. "We'll have to be up in a couple hours anyway."

When they left the next morning, both were still physically exhausted, but the previous night's conversation had buoyed their spirits somewhat. For once, Mulder was smiling as he started the car and pulled out onto the relatively empty road. It was still early, but the girls had awakened them not long before, and they decided to go ahead and leave. Both were eager to return to DC.

The drive seemed shorter that day. Mulder had thought it would be interminable; after all, time always seemed to slow down when he was looking forward to something. But the tension had abated, and he and Scully were finally talking again, so the drive was immensely more enjoyable. On top of that, Samantha finally seemed to have settled down, and she even lay in her car seat without complaint for a few hours of the trip. Mulder finally stopped at a motel just outside DC, reluctant to return to either of their apartments for fear of being found.

Before settling in for the night, Mulder walked outside to the payphone and called the Lone Gunmen. Langley answered after only the first ring. "Hello?"

"Hey, Langley, it's me. I need a favor."

"It seems like that's the only reason you call now."

"Langley, this is important."

"Isn't it always. So, what do you need this time?"

"I need you guys to come over tomorrow morning to protect Scully and the babies while I go to work." Mulder had thought long and hard about whom he was going to ask to stay with Scully while he was gone, and he had finally settled on the Gunmen, realizing they were the only three people he could trust. He knew Scully would object to the arrangement, claiming she could take care of herself, but he was not taking any chances.

"So I guess Scully and the brood are doing okay then?"

"They're all healthy. We just need to make sure that no one is trying to kill us anymore."

"Give me a time and place, and we'll be there."

As expected, Scully protested having the Lone Gunmen protect her, but she eventually relented after Mulder pointed out that they had the lives of their daughters to consider now, too. When the knock came on the door the next morning, Mulder hurriedly answered it, pressing a finger to his lips. Scully had only recently fallen asleep after a rather grueling night, and he wanted her to rest as long as possible.

Frohike stepped in first. He quickly glanced at Mulder, noticing the drooping eyelids and the worry creasing his face. Mulder wore a wrinkled t-shirt and jeans, for he was planning on returning to his Apartment to change before going to work. "You look like shit, man,"

Frohike remarked.

"Thanks," Mulder said dryly as they moved out of the doorway to allow the other two members of the trio to enter. Byers and Langley also glanced disapprovingly at Mulder's figure, but he spoke before they could express their concerns. "I should be back around 4:00. If anything happens, call me immediately. Scully has her weapon, of course, and there's a spare one in my duffel right there." He pointed.

"Shouldn't you introduce us to the newest additions to the Mulder family?" Frohike asked as Mulder began gathering his wallet and keys.

"Oh, right. That's Melissa and Samantha." Mulder gestured to the appropriate crib as he introduced the babies.

"I figured you'd name them that," Langley remarked.

"How do you tell them apart?" Frohike questioned, peering at the sleeping infants.

"You learn to. Now, I've got to go." Mulder placed his gun in the holster before bending down over Scully and kissing her lightly on the forehead, careful not to wake her. With a wave to the Lone Gunmen, he was gone.

Mulder stopped first at Skinner's office. He had called the Assistant Director the previous night to inform him that he was returning, and Skinner had insisted that Mulder stop by his office first thing. When he walked into the reception area, Skinner's secretary, Kimberly, smiled at him. "Welcome back, Agent Mulder," she greeted. Mulder returned the smile as well as he could. He was still worried about leaving Scully and the babies, even if they were with the Lone Gunmen. After everything they had faced over the past few days, it did not feel as if they could ever truly be safe. "Are you okay, Agent Mulder? You look a bit pale."

"I'm fine. I just haven't been sleeping well," Mulder said honestly.

He did not add that the reason for his increased insomnia was two screaming infants.

"If you're still sick, maybe you shouldn't be back at work."

Mulder was saved from responding by the opening of the office door.

"Agent Mulder, come in," Skinner said. Mulder gave Kimberly another weak smile before following the Assistant Director into his office.

Once both were seated on opposite sides of the desk, Skinner began to talk. "There's been a lot of speculation about where you've been these past few weeks. Especially once people discovered that Agent Scully has also taken a leave of absence."

"There's always speculation about us, sir."

"I assume you're safe now."

"That's what I'm here to make sure."

"Well, the position on the X-Files is still open."

"Can't imagine why," Mulder remarked sarcastically.

"Agent Fowley has been working by herself these past four weeks, but I've noticed the number of case reports on my desk has been dwindling. I hope you will rectify that, Agent Mulder."

"Of course, sir."

"Good. I assume you still know where your office is."

"How could I forget?"

"Then you're dismissed." Mulder stood to leave, but another question from Skinner stopped him before he reached the door. "How are Agent Scully and the girls?"

"They're doing fine, sir."

"Good." Skinner opened his mouth before hesitating.

"Is there anything else, sir?" Mulder questioned.

"These babies. Are you..." Skinner could not bring himself to finish his question. He did not want to meddle in the personal lives of his agents. Still, he was curious.

"Am I the father?" Mulder said, guessing the question.

"Never mind. It doesn't matter," Skinner said quickly.

"I think you know the answer to that question, sir. Why the interest?"

"No reason." Skinner busied himself stacking the papers on his desk.

"You want to know if you won the pool, don't you?" Mulder questioned, grinning.

"What pool?" Skinner had always been a decent liar, but Mulder could see through his falsehood easily.

"The pool on when Agent Scully and I would finally get together."

"Don't be ridiculous, Agent Mulder."

Mulder gave another small smile before turning back to the door. As his hand closed on the doorknob, he called over his shoulder, "By the way, sir, I hope you bet on five years." With that, he left, leaving Skinner to subtract nine months from the current date. The math worked out quite nicely.

Mulder took the familiar path to the elevator, ignoring the curious glances other agents shot his way. He had suffered through countless years as "Spooky" Mulder, enduring jibes and wisecracks from his peers. In truth, these jokes did not affect him; he was beyond caring what other people thought of him. He had more pressing problems—the possibility of an alien takeover in the near future and the powerful people who wanted to kidnap his newborn daughters were two of them.

When the elevator doors opened to reveal the familiar basement hallway, he stepped out and walked toward the door of his office.

Nothing seemed to have changed in the four weeks he was gone, but he had not really expected any changes. In the six years that Mulder had worked on the X-Files, the biggest change to the basement office had occurred after the fire a year before.

He hesitated at the doorway, wanting a few more moments of peace before the inevitable tirade that would occur as soon as he saw Diana. But he knew that sooner or later, he would have to face the music. Still apprehensive, he reached for the knob, opening the door to find Diana sitting behind his desk reading over a large case file.

"Anything interesting?" he asked. She looked up, startled.

"Fox, when did you get here?"

"A few minutes ago. I had to talk to Skinner before coming down here."

"Where have you been?"

"I'd rather not say." He shed his jacket and hung it on the coat rack by the door.

"You can trust me, Fox."

"Can I?" They stared at each other for a few seconds, each searching for answers in the other's eyes. Finally, Diana broke the silence.

"Of course you can. Don't be ridiculous."

"Well, it doesn't really matter where I went. The important thing is that I'm back now, and I'm ready to work."

"I heard Agent Scully took time off, too."

Mulder tried to conceal his involuntarily flinch by moving across the room and dropping into the chair across the desk from her. "She took some personal time a couple months ago. I don't see what that has to do with anything."

"Were you two together?"

"Diana, I would rather my personal business remain my personal business."

"What were you two doing together?" Diana was relentless.

"Nothing, Diana. Do we have a case?"

"Reports of crop circles in northern Oklahoma," Diana said, pushing the folder across the desk. Her eyes still had not left his face, and Mulder could clearly see the accusation in them. He knew their current conversation was far from over, and he dreaded the next time the subject would come up.

"Do they seem accurate?" Mulder would take any reprieve from her questioning that he could get, even if it was only a temporary one.

"Maybe. It's hard to tell. You know more about this than I do."

"Mm-hmm." Mulder's eyes were scanning the words on the page, but his brain was still on Scully and the babies. He wondered how angry she would be if he called and checked on them. Probably not a good idea, he thought. Still, he could not help but worry.

When Mulder returned to the motel room just before 4:00 that afternoon, he found all three Lone Gunmen standing outside the motel room. Frohike and Langley were arguing rather loudly, and Byers was standing to one side, watching them. Mulder's steps quickened as his mind began to propose various scenarios, each of them worse than the one preceding it. "What happened?" he questioned.

"What?" Langley looked at Mulder, puzzled.

"What happened? Why are you standing out here?"

"Nothing happened. Scully's just feeding one of the babies, and we thought it would be best if we weren't in the room," Byers explained.

"Or at least, some of us did." His gaze shifted to Frohike who shrugged.

"I still hold that it's a perfectly natural process, and as such, it should not matter if we are in the room-"

"Frohike, if you even think of watching Scully while she breastfeeds, I'll kick your ass," Mulder warned. Frohike closed his mouth, and Mulder nodded. "Thanks for doing this, guys," Mulder told the three.

"Always happy to help, Mulder," Byers told him.

"Especially if we get to see the lovely Scully's-"

"Frohike," Mulder growled.

"I'm only kidding, man. Calm down."

"We'll see you later, Mulder," Langley said, turning away from the motel room. The other two followed him, and Mulder walked into the motel room. He found Scully sitting on the bed feeding Samantha.

Melissa slept soundly in her crib. Mulder checked on her before walking over to Scully and leaning down to plant a short kiss on her lips. "How are you two doing?" he questioned as he pulled away, brushing Scully's hair away from her forehead.

"We're doing just fine," Scully assured him, smiling down at the baby in her arms.

"Did the boys behave?"

"Better than I expected actually. Melissa seems to really like Langley."

Mulder raised an eyebrow. "Should I be worried?"

Scully smiled as she raised her eyes to look at him. "I'm still trying to decide that."

"Well, you'll be happy to know I didn't receive any death threats today. Nor did I have anymore unexpected visitors. It was actually a pretty boring day; we spent most of the time doing paperwork."

"So it's safe to come out of hiding now?"

"I figured we could spend the night here, and I'd drop you off at your Apartment tomorrow morning on my way to work. We should be able to move into the house this weekend if you want."

"That would be wonderful."


Epilogue

A month later, Scully was pacing the house with a crying Melissa on her shoulder. Her eyes were red-rimmed, her lids drooping and threatening to close at any minute. It seemed that all Melissa did was cry. Neither Scully nor Mulder could discern why she was crying; she ate fine, she did not need changing, and she did not have any visible injuries or rashes which could be causing her pain or discomfort. Both had deduced that she likely had colic, a diagnosis confirmed by Nadine. Unfortunately, none of the usual tricks worked.

Scully and Mulder had tried everything to soothe her: pacing, taking her on car rides around the neighborhood, swinging with her, and every other method they could think of. Mulder had even tried running the vacuum for three hours one night in the hopes that the vibrations would soothe her, but the trick had not worked.

Melissa's incessant crying would often disturb Samantha who's wails would soon join her sister's, creating a cacophony of noise in the house that made it impossible for either Scully or Mulder to think.

Both partners were functioning on virtually no sleep; Skinner and Diana had both commented on Mulder's zombie-like state at work, and Scully felt as if she were going to collapse at any minute.

Mulder walked in the door at that moment holding Samantha cuddled against his shoulder. His hand covered the infant's ears, his feeble attempt to drown out her sister's screams. "I've got her asleep," he announced, kicking off his shoes as he started toward the stairs.

"I'm just going to go put her down." Scully nodded, too tired and brain-dead to form any comprehensible words. As Mulder left the room, she resumed her pacing, praying that Melissa would calm down soon so that she could have at least a couple hours of sleep before both babies would need to be fed.

Scully was so concentrated on the wailing infant in her arms that she failed to look where she was going. Her foot suddenly collided with something which rolled beneath her, causing her to lean forward. She teetered for a moment, trying desperately to regain her balance. When she finally managed to right herself, she looked down to discover that she had tripped over one of the shoes which Mulder had earlier discarded. "Goddammit, Mulder!" she called. "How many times have I told you not to leave stuff lying around everywhere?" Her words came out louder and harsher than she had originally intended, but she was too exhausted to truly care about her tone. Her brain was not functioning properly; all she could think about was sleep. Every little thing seemed to frustrate her. She knew that Mulder had meant no harm by leaving his shoes out and she also knew that logically, it was not a huge deal, but her sleep-deprived brain was making the small mistake seem many times larger. As far as Scully was concerned at the moment, Mulder had just committed the most grievous of sins.

"What did I do this time?" Mulder asked, joining her in the living room. He, too, was showing signs of exhaustion from the shuffle in his step to the red tint in his eyes. His hair was tousled, and his clothes were wrinkled and looked to be a couple days old. There was a couple spots on the shoulder that were likely spit-up, and a number of other stains down the front. He, too, seemed frustrated.

"You left your shoes where I could trip over them."

"So-orry. I was just trying to take them off so that I didn't track dirt all over the house like you complained about last time." His tone was biting almost as if he was trying to pick a fight.

"Well, you could put them against the wall instead of in the middle of the room."

"This isn't the middle of the room."

"We still walk here."

"Well then maybe you should just watch where you're going."

"Maybe you should do what I ask so I don't have to. It's a simple request."

"You know what? I'm too tired to deal with this right now. I'm going out."

"Out where?"

"I don't really know. I don't really care either. I just want to get away from you."

"Fine. Maybe I want to get away from you, too."

"Fine."

"Fine."

Mulder strode toward the front door, slamming it shut behind him. Her parents' fighting had only served to increase Melissa's screams, and her wailing had grown loud enough that it woke Melissa whose cries Scully heard over the monitor. Turning her eyes to the ceiling, Scully let out a frustrated yell, wondering how she was supposed to deal with two upset babies. She did not even have the presence of mind to deal with one. Suddenly, she was regretting letting Mulder leave.

Just as she was contemplating the logistics of finding him again, the door opened and he walked in. Without speaking to her, he breezed past her and strode up the steps. A few seconds later, Scully heard his voice over the monitor, soothing Samantha. She smiled slightly to herself. Despite her frustration with him, Mulder was still an excellent father, and she was grateful to have his help.

Half an hour later, Scully finally managed to put Melissa to sleep, and she placed her carefully in her crib before walking to her bedroom. Mulder was sprawled out on top of the comforter, a magazine open across his chest and his glasses askew. Trying to remain quiet, Scully carefully gathered her clothes and started toward the bathroom. As much as she wanted sleep, she really needed a shower.

"Did you finally get her down?" Mulder inquired from behind her. She turned to find him in the same position as he had been in when she walked into the room only with his eyes open. She nodded.

"Yeah. It probably won't last long though."

He sighed. "I really don't know what to do anymore."

"We're doing all we can."

"Sometimes, it doesn't feel like enough. It feels like I'm a failure as a father."

"You're not a failure. She just has colic."

"I know that. I never said my feelings were rational."

They were quiet for a few seconds before Scully remarked. "You came back."

"Huh?"

"Earlier. I thought you had left, but you came back right away."

"Oh. I didn't even get to the car before I realized that I was being unfair. You were just as tired as I was if not more so, and it wasn't fair of me to burden you with both the girls. I guess it's a good thing I came back, too. Melissa's enough of a handful on her own without having to deal with Samantha, too."

"How are we going to do this, Mulder?"

He shrugged. "Same way we do everything else. One day at a time." She nodded, still looking skeptical. He held up a hand, beckoning her closer. She moved to his side, and he pushed himself up, using one arm to bring her lips to his. "We'll get through this, Scully. Just like we always do," he promised. A smile curved across Scully's lips.

She knew that was one promise he intended to keep.

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