Title: Rachel
Author: E.A.
Written: July 23rd, 1998
Feedback: Yaktyshmak@aol.com
Keywords: MSR

Summary: Scully has adopted another clone, named Rachel. Will hers And Mulder's relationship change?

Comments: Okay, in this story, Scully has adopted a little girl, a clone,named Rachel. She has had her for about a year, giver or take. Try andfigure out what happened to Mulder's mom. Disclaimer: They aren't mine blah blah blah...Rachel is, actually. And Agent Johnson. And any other agents you might not recognize, not to mention the hostage-taker and...everyone else.


If you are going to walk on thin ice, you might as well dance- Anonymous

Mulder stepped into his apartment. A breeze of hot air enveloped him as he pushed himself in, and stood in the middle, surveying it. He sighed, and dropped his duffel bag on the ground. Taking off his leather jacket, he walked over to his desk. His answering machine was blinking. Dropping the jacket onto his desk chair, he pressed the button and listened.

"Fox, dear, this is your mother. I just was calling to tell you that -" with a cry, Mulder slapped the delete buutton on the offensive machine.

His next message began to play: "Is this the residence of Fox Mulder? I am with -" he deleted that one, too. He stopped pacing in front of his desk when the next one played.

"Mulder, it's me. I know you are looking into...uhm...anyway, there's a case that I am helping the VCS out with. Apparently some crazed psycho has been claiming hostages and murdering them. The whole thing is a little iffy, if you ask me, which is why I acquiesced when Skinner told me. Look, uhm, I hope all goes well with your mom. I'm so sorry. Call me when you get in."

With a sigh, Mulder reached for the phone and pressed speed dial 1. After three rings, her answering machine came on.

"Scully? You there?" he paused, "Okay, uh, I'm just returning your call. I guess your working on the case. Uh, I'll go head over to work now. I think I'd like to help, too, so I'll see you there."

He grabbed his jacket again and headed out of the confines of the thick and suffocating air of his apartment.


Mulder burst into the VCS and headed straight for the crisis/profiling room. He walked in and looked around. There were dozens of VCS agents hurrying around, phones ringing, maps out, dry-erase boards with theories etc on them. But he didn't see Scully.

"Mulder!" he heard from inside the crowd. He turned to see Skinner calling to him. He hurried over to his boss and asked immediately: "Where's Scully?" Skinner looked around at the few agents who had turned to watch him. Leading Mulder by the shoulder to the wall, Skinner said, "She's not here, Mulder."

"What?" Mulder asked, searching Skinner's face. He sighed, and began to rub his forehead. He suddenly had a severe fascination with his shoes.

"Where is she?" Mulder asked again. When Skinner didn't reply, Mulder grabbed him by the shoulders and shook him. "Tell me, dammit!"

"Agent Mulder, there were a few agents who went in with weapons. We were up to our eyes in useless theories - the best couldn't get to this guy. We had no idea what to do. So, we sent some agents in to kill the guy. It was a last resort - we hoped he would buckle under the pressure ten guns to his head, but the team...they never came out."

"What? Was Scully with them?" Skinner sighed. "WAS SHE?!" Mulder was screaming now.

"Agent Mulder, she insisted." Mulder threw his hands up in defeat and let out a cry, turning away from Skinner. After a few seconds of silence, Skinner put a hand on Mulder's shoulder. Throwing it off, Mulder turned to Skinner and cried,

"You should have called me to come help! I could have gotten to him!"

"We knew that," Skinner said, "all of us. Scully, too, but we didn't want to bother you, with your mother and all." Skinner tried to sound sympathetic towards the agent.

"So risk my partner?"

"She went herself, agent Mulder. She insisted," Skinner sighed. After a pause, something hit Mulder like a punch in the stomach. "Where's Rachel?" he asked Skinner. Skinner nodded to him, and headed out of the buzzing room, into a corridor. Sitting on a bench was an agent and a little girl.

"Mulder!" the little girl cried and ran to him.

"Rachel," he said, squatting down to catch his partner's daughter. She threw herself at him and wrapped her tiny arms a round his neck.

"Mommy's gon" she said. Mulder stroked her back.

"No, sweetie, Mommy's not gone. Mommy will be okay," he said to her. He felt the little girl nod before she pulled away. He saw her eyes were red and puffy; she had been crying. Her brown hair was tousled and her blue eyes mirrored her mother's.

Rachel was two and a quarter years old, and brilliant for a child of her age. She could speak almost perfectly and tried to use "biggaw words" as she called them.

After Emily, Scully's heart had been breaking. It had taken a long time for Mulder to track down Rachel - she was another clone, except a different "kind". She had brown hair and blue eyes like her mother's. The other clones had all been killed, victims of the lab-rat life of the consortium. When he had told Scully that there may be another of her daughters out there, she had jumped on him and begged to tell her where and how. He explained the others, and that she may be the last one.

Since that day when they had retrieved her from the medical facility, Mulder had felt a bond with the little girl he never felt possible before. He hated babies - it was an evil, but completely honest fact. They took their whole lives for granted and most were spoiled little twits. But not Rachel. She didn't cry for anything, nor demand things, nor throw her toys around. She rarely gave her mother a hard time, even if they had to drag her on a case with them.

Now, looking at her, he remembered when he was a kid. It used to give him an odd sort of comfort to know that his parents were under control, or at least a grown-up. If he ever saw his mom or dad not sure of something, he would think "boy this must be bad" and get worried. He could tell that was exactly what Rachel was feeling when she searched his eyes for reassurance. He gave her a full-fledged smile and almost immediately her frown disappeared and she gave him a meek smile back.

He rustled her hair before standing up again to talk with Skinner. The little girl instinctively hooked an arm around his calf and stuck the other thumb in her mouth. She looked up at Skinner as he began to speak.

"We need you to get inside this guy's head, Mulder. We need you to profile him." Mulder nodded. Just then, he felt a tug on his jeans, and looked down to see Rachel with a thumb in her mouth requesting to be picked up. He leaned down, his arms open enough to catch her and lift her up. He did so, and held her in the crook of one arm and followed Skinner back into the profiling room. A few people turned to see him walk in with a two year old in one arm, but he ignored them. He glanced at Rachel. She had her head lying against his shoulder, watching what was happening behind them. She let out a sigh, and sucked louder on her thumb, burying her face into his neck. This elicited a stare from a few more agents, with whom he would have shared a death-glare had the circumstances not been so serious.

Skinner lead him to a table where they had all the information about the hostage-taker spread out. He recognized another agent with terrific credentials in profiling, wracking his brain next to them. After reading a paragraph or so, he pushed himself off the table and hit it. Rachel, disturbed from her attempts at sleep, turned her head and looked sleepily toward the man.

Skinner put a hand on the guy's back, and said, "Johnson, Mulder's here."

Agent Johnson turned to see Mulder there with Rachel. "There is a God," the agent said, "Mulder, you have to help us on this one. We're stumped." Mulder nodded.

"Just don't come out with some half-ass theory about alien hybrids, *please*." Mulder smiled and still nodded.

Rachel slapped him, a protest from his continuous nodding head disturbing her sleep. He cradled her before heading over to the wall where an old couch was set. He gently placed the sleepy child on the couch and leaned down beside her head. She opened her eyes, a frown searing her brow.

"Rachel, I am going to help get your Mommy out, okay?" She nodded, and closed her eyes again. He stood up and pushed some of her auburn hair behind her ear. Turning back to the others, he saw that Skinner and Johnson had been watching him. Staring solemnly back at them, he gave them a "what are you staring at?" look and they turned back to their work.

"The guy is an M.I.T. and Stanford grad -" Johnson started, before being interrupted by Mulder.

"-Both!?" Mulder cried. Skinner and Johnson nodded.

"Well I'm sold," Mulder said, and motioned for Johnson to continue.

"Anyway, the guys brilliant. He's a psychologist." Mulder raised his eyebrows at that one. Then, realizing that this meant he knew all of the little tricks, frowned and sighed.

"And he worked for the FBI at one point," Skinner cut in. Mulder's jaw dropped.

"Tell me this is a bad dream," Mulder said.

"Okay," Johnson replied, "but if I do it's not gonna get us very far." Mulder shook his head, and paced for a few steps, before turning back and ordering, "Okay, all the info. on this guy's careers. We are gonna have to know every little detail about him." Johnson and a few other agents jumped up and headed out of the room.

"This is going to be a long night..." Mulder sighed, and got to work.


After about two hours of reading, Mulder knew more about the guy than he bet his mother did. He went to Stanford and M.I.T., Stanford first. Apparently, M.I.T. was simply to become more familiar with a "hobby", namely, computer science. He was a genius, with a 173.2 IQ average.

He grew up in Boston, Massachusetts, in a fairly normal and well-off family. There was no real history of abuse in his family. His father died when he was ten, but he hadn't known him as his father. He was killed by an FBI agent, which seemed to be a possible lead. Revenge? But why take perfectly innocent people, just for the sake of revenge? Why kill someone at all popped into his head, and he realized that there was no real reason why this guy did this stuff. Unless....Mulder quickly motioned for Johnson to come over.

"Find anything?" he asked, anticipated.

"I don't know," Mulder replied, "maybe. We know that the guy's father was killed by an FBI agent when he was ten -"

"-woah, woah," Johnson cut in, "but he never knew his father. He couldn't have known that his father was killed by an agent in a state across the country from him until he...joined the....FBI....." Johnson slowed down as he finished the thought in his head, then thought of another problem. "Yeah, okay, but this guy is killing innocent people. Why would he want to do that? And don't give me the 'he's sick' shit, this guy is *not* sick."

"No, exactly, he's not sick. Which is why this is going to be harder than we thought," Mulder said. "I think that after joining the FBI, he may gone looking for records about his father, and stumbled upon it. This might have made him, uh, upset," he continued, "and therefor quit his job at the FBI, hence, VCS, and orchestrate this little scheme."

"But why *this way*?" Johnson inquired.

"Well, I don't think he planned it before he quit. After doing so, it can take months to get your license back. Maybe he didn't want to wait that long."

"So he set this up?"

"Well, I think he feels that it is the easiest way to get to us. He knows the Feds would jump on it as soon as they heard about it. Maybe he is aiming for a certain one of us," Mulder said, pulling out the records of an agent, currently working there.

"George Williams. Been with the Bureau twenty-two years." Johnson grabbed the picture and record of him.

"Shot and killed witness for murder after he ran. That'd be daddy. Turned out," he paused, retrieving another file, "that he hadn't done it after all. The killer was soon caught and confessed - he's still in prison."

"So you think maybe he is avenging his father's death?" Johnson frowned.

"No, I think he thinks that his father did it - I don't know, maybe it would ease the pain of knowing that Papa left. An excuse, sort of, 'well, he was pyscho, so who cares' kind of thing. And I think, to prove that his father *did* do that, and didn't just leave, he is mimicking the killings that his father was accused of committing."

"Yeah?" Johnson asked, excited.

"It's a guess," Mulder said, leaning back in his chair.

"Why don't you tell Skinner and look into it for me," Mulder told the younger agent who ran off with a few papers.

Mulder sighed and covered his face with his hands, rubbing his tired eyes. He hadn't slept since he had gone up to Rhode Island and signed his mother's death certificate. He had cried, yes, he wasn't that insensitive. There was that feeling of grief that just wouldn't go away at the pit of his stomach, even when he wasn't thinking about it. It was just....there.

He suddenly remembered Rachel, and snapped his eyes open and his head in her direction. She was sitting up, watching him. He turned all the way toward her and gave her a hopeful look. She simply sat and stared at him, so he got up and kneeled in front of her.

"You okay?" he asked, to which the answer was blatantly obvious - of course she wasn't.

"I'm fine," she said, mimicking her mother. He smiled at that, and asked her,

"Are you hungry?" She took a while to consider it, then nodded at him. He rose to his feet and lifted her off the couch. She straightened out her turtleneck which had crumpled up when she got off, and slipped her tiny hand into his much larger one. Mulder guided the little girl to the exit, and together they made their way out of the headquarters.

Once on the Philadelphia Ave., the baby shivered in the cold air. Mulder saw this, stopped, and took off his black leather jacket. He leaned down and put it around her shoulders. It just barely made it above dragging on the ground, and he stood again, and they walked. Well, Mulder walked and Rachel waddled along in his large jacket.

They reached a fast-food chain and entered. It was empty, save two or three people alone. Mulder ordered Rachel chicken nuggets and sat down with her at a booth.

Mulder watched her as she ate very neatly. It was amazing about how much she was like her mother in everything she did. Rachel noticed him watching her and looked at him.

"Wan one?" she asked him, offering one. He shook his head, still looking at her, and she shrugged. "Mulder?" she started.

"Yeah?"

"I'm sorry bout your mommy." Mulder's heart almost broke hearing her say that, and he wasn't sure why. He gulped down a sob that was threatening to destroy his equilibrium.

"If you wan," she continued, "I can share mine wit you." Mulder smiled at her, and reached across the table to hold her hand.

"Thank you, Rachel," he said, "but I don't really need a mommy anymore." Rachel's face fell.

"But eveewon needs a mommy," she argued. "Who do you tell things to?" Mulder thought for a moment.

"Your mommy," he finally answered. Rachel smiled at him.

"I know," she said, a glimmer in her eye.

"How?" he asked, puzzled. She made a zipping motion over her lips and laughed.

<She laughs like her mother, too> he thought. <Am I hallucinating?> He smiled back at her, and she began to put her trash into the bag. He helped her, and took it to the trash can. She reached for his hand to hold as they continued out of the restaurant.

About half way through the walk back, she asked him, out of the blue, "Do you love her?" He was startled.

"Love who?" he asked, but he knew who she was talking about.

"Mommy." she asked him, looking up. He stared at the sidewalk below his feet, then at her.

"Of course I love her," he said, then added, "she's my best friend." Rachel shook her head, and stared at the sidewalk, too.

"What?" Mulder asked her, amused at how adult-like she acted.

"I mean *weelly* love her. No, I guess that's not how to phrase it. Are you *in* love wit her?" she asked, looking up at him again. He couldn't believe he was having this conversation with a two-year-old.

"I don't know," he finally replied.

"Sure you do," she told him. "You either do or you don love someone that way," she said quietly. Mulder sighed.

"I can't tell you," he finally told her.

"Yes you can," she said. "I am a good secret-keeper," she smiled.

"I don't believe you," he teased, looking at her mischievous grin.

"I didn tell you bout how I knew that you only trusted Mommy, did I?" she asked. He laughed at how she didn't realize that she had just told him. After a few seconds, Rachel persisted.

"You gonna tell me or not?" He watched her try to keep up with his big steps, and slowed a bit.

"Okay," he said, "but you have to promise you won't tell anyone, okay?" he told her. He just *could* not believe he was spilling his guts in front of a two-year old.

"I pwomise!" she said. After a few seconds he said, quietly: "I might be falling in love with her."

"I know," Rachel told him, smiling with glee.

"You do?"

"Yap." They had reached the headquarters. They entered and headed toward the elevator, the receptionist recognizing them and waving them by.

Once inside, Rachel rushed to press the button. The elevator lifted with a jolt. Then she spoke up: "And I have something to tell you, too." He was surprised.

"Oh?" The elevator doors opened, and they stepped out.

"Mmmhhhmmm." They had reached the door of the crisis room, and she fingered him to lean down. He did, and she whispered in his ear: "She's in love wit you, too." and then ran into the room and back to the corner of the room with the couch and desk. Mulder stood there for a second, stunned. <She is lying - children *do* do that, Mulder.> But still...he couldn't help wondering...... His thoughts were suddenly interrupted by Johnson.

"Mulder! Where've you been? We're sending more agents into the building," he said, excited. Mulder shrugged, walking toward the desk he was at before. Rachel was sitting at it. Johnson was saying something to Mulder, and then asked, "So, do you want to go in?" Mulder stopped pacing, and looked at Johnson. Then he turned to Rachel, who had frozen in place.

She gave him a pleading look, tacitly begging him to stay. He wanted to save Scully...but if she hadn't made it...he had to stay, for Scully's baby. She would want him to.

"No," he said, looking directly at Rachel, whose eyes thanked him. Johnson glanced over at Rachel since Mulder was staring at her.

"Uh...but we thought you would want to..." Johnson started.

"I do," Mulder said, turning back to him. "But there are more than enough agents on it. I can't go in," he said. Johnson shrugged and walked toward the group gathering by a large map, lit up on the wall.

Mulder turned back to Rachel. She gave him a weak smile, and climbed off the chair clumsily. She stood in front of him and said "Up." He picked her up and walked over to the crowd gathering in front of the map. He could make out Skinner and Johnson and a few other agents pointing to the map and barking orders at agents in their blue SAR uniforms. After a few minutes of explaining the plan, the agents piled out of the room, heading for vans. Mulder rushed up to Skinner, and asked,

"Where are we going?" Skinner glanced at Rachel, and then said, "Warehouse on the corner of 6th and Q, north east." Mulder nodded and ran after the agents.

He headed outside to the parking lot and unlocked his car door. He plopped Rachel into the passenger seat and buckled her in.

He climbed in and started the car and took off.


When they reached the warehouse, agents were already heading toward the back of the warehouse. Mulder jumped out of the car and ran to the passenger's seat to let Rachel out. Once free of her seatbelt, she ran toward the scene gathering until he pulled her back. He squatted to face her.

"Stay by me," he said, "it's not safe here. I shouldn't have brought you," he said. She leaned over and gave him a wet peck on the cheek. He was surprised, but she grabbed his hand and continued running. As they were approaching, they heard shots and then screams, and he picked her up and squeezed her to his body. Reluctantly, he continued to where he saw Skinner. Then suddenly, all sorts of paramedics and agents began running into the warehouse. A few minutes later some returned. He recognized the person on one of the stretchers - it was Scully.

He ran to her on instinct, and walked alongside the stretcher. She was unconscious, he could tell that, and she was covered in blood. Rachel began to squirm, and screamed when she saw her mother. Mulder strained to hold onto her - she was trying to get free of his grip on her and go to her mother. The paramedic pushed her stretcher into the waiting ambulance and quickly asked which hospital they were headed to.

"Georgetown!" he yelled over the sound of helicopters and Rachel's wails. She was reaching toward her mother inside the ambulance. They shut the doors and she screamed and then burst into a fit of tears. She relaxed in his grip, and he cradled her. She wrapped her arms around his neck and cried.


When they arrived at the hospital, Mulder burst through the ER doors and ran to the receptionist.

"Dana Scully," he panted, "she just came in."

The nurse looked at him with a strange expression, then said: "Oh, you will have to wait to see her. They are working on her now," she said with a smile. Mulder just stared back.

"Is there *any* way we could just *see* her? I'm telling you, her daughter isn't going to shut up until -"

"-I'm sorry, sir, but you will have to wait." She motioned to the lobby. Mulder sighed and looked down at Rachel, who was now sucking her thumb, tears still streaming down her face.

"C'mon, kiddo," he said to her, and headed over to the chairs. He sat her in one and slumped down into the next. Immediately, she climbed into his lap and wrapped her short arms around him. He sighed, and rubbed her back to calm her hiccuppy sobs and eventually they subsided.

About an hour and a half later, the nurse called to Mulder.

"Sir? Dana Scully may be visited, now." Mulder's head popped up, and he stood up, carrying Rachel with him. She shifted a little, but didn't wake up.

"Room #166. Just down that hall," she pointed. Mulder headed in that direction. He prepared himself for the worst as he stood in front of the door. Slowly, he opened it and stepped in. He gasped when he saw her.

She was dead white, with an IV or six sticking into her arms. He could see that there were large bandages on her stomach through her hospital gown. There were bruises on her face and neck and he could tell that there were some on her breasts as well.

There was an intern standing by her bed taking notes on the pad. He lifted his head, realizing Mulder was there. He gave Mulder an odd look to see Rachel asleep in his arms, but said: "Don't worry, Mr. Scully, Dana should be fine. She has a few bruises on her and was cut by a knife in her side and one slash across her stomach. She may have suffered a minor concussion, but that has passed. Her vitals are good and she should be awake in a few hours. I'll leave you now," he said.

Mulder nodded. He would have told him that he wasn't married to Scully, but he was too tired. All he could do was gently place Rachel on the bed in the crook of her mother's arm.

Rachel woke up and raised her head. Seeing that she was now lying next to her mother, she let out a "Mmm!" and snuggled closer. She seemed to recognize that her mother was asleep, not unconscious, and quickly went back to sleep.

Mulder headed to the other side of the bed where the chair was, and lay his head down on the bed next to Scully's hand. Within minutes, he, too, was asleep.


Mulder woke that morning to the sound of soft voices. He opened his eyes and felt the sunlight against his hunched back. Slowly, he raised his head and stretched his arms above his head. With a yawn, he looked around. Scully and Rachel were tucked into the bed, looking at him.

"Morning, Mulder!" Rachel cried and jumped over her mother's lap to Mulder and kissed him on the cheek. He gave her a kiss back on the forehead. Scully seemed surprised that they were so close all of a sudden, but when he looked at her, something new passed between them. A knowledge of something. Had Rachel told her? He bet she had - she wasn't quite as good a secret-keeper as she claimed to be.

"Good morning, Mulder," Scully said.

"How are you," he asked, concerned. She rolled her eyes. He reached a hand up to touch her cheek, and rested it there, circling it with his thumb. She closed her eyes and leaned into his touch, then opened them again. He let his hand drop to her lap and hook into hers.

"I'm sorry I went," she said finally. "I screwed up. I should have waited until you came back from..." Mulder's head dropped to stare at his lap. "Oh, Mulder, I'm sorry," she said, and put a hand under his chin to tilt it up. She dropped it after a few seconds, and then leaned back into her pillows where Rachel was now curled up.

"Uh...I guess I should go now," Mulder said.

"Okay," Scully replied reluctantly. He leaned in to her face so that they were very close. He could feel her soft breathe against his own lips, and quickly, he brushed them against hers. They held them there for about two seconds and then he pulled away nervously. He stood up, muttering something incoherently. He headed toward the door. Just before he exited the room, he looked back at her. Even bruised and bandaged, she was still beautiful. She was looking at him with a gleam in her eye. He smiled and went home, thanking whoever was up there for her daughter's dishonesty.

THE DECISION

"Rrrrriiinnnnggg!" Scully's apartment bringed as the phone in each room rang. She sighed, looked down at her daughter, then at the book in their laps, and gave her a weak smile.

"I hate telephones..." she muttered, trailing off as she leaned over to grab the phone from the cradle on her daughter's nightstand.

"Hello," she answered. Rachel looked up at her to see her reaction.

"Hey, it's me," the voice on the other end replied.

"Hey Mulder," Scully said, letting her daughter know who it was. She smiled in delight and reached for the phone. Scully shook her head with a smile, tacitly telling her that she could talk to him when she was finished.

"What's up?" Mulder asked.

"Shouldn't I be asking you that?" Scully said into the receiver, shifting on the bed to get in a better position. Rachel began reading the book to herself, quietly.

"We have to talk," he said.

"What about?" Scully asked, but she knew.

"Scully, you aren't making this easy for either of us," he laughed into the phone.

"I know," she told him, teasingly. Rachel looked up at her, questioningly.

"So, ahm, what do you want to do about it?" he asked.

"Do I want it, you mean?"

"Yeah..." he said softly.

"I need to think about it. The implications, repercussions..." she trailed off.

"Me too," he agreed. "How about we think about it over dinner?" Scully took it into consideration. After a few moments, she replied.

"Okay."

"Okay. Uhm...tomorrow good?"

"Sure."

"I'll pick you up. 7:30?"

"Okay. Formal?"

"Scully, you know me. Of course not."

"'Kay. Mulder?"

"Yeah?"

"Rachel wants to talk to yo-" Rachel grabbed the phone.

"-hi Mulder."

"Hey, Rachel," he laughed.

"What wa yooo and mommy talkin' 'bou?" she asked, mischievously.

"Nothing in particular. We are going out tomorrow night, that's all," he told her. She squealed in delight.

"Ca' I com?" she asked.

"No!" her mother and Mulder screamed in unison.

"Where I go den?" she pouted, but he could tell she was still smiling.

"Uhm......" then he heard Scully call "Grandma's.".

"Yay! Mulder I ga go ca' grama...see yoooo 'morrow!!!" and she clunked the receiver down into it's cradle.

"What yooo gon' wear?!" Rachel cried immediately after hanging up.

"I'm not sure...your going to have to help me out..." Scully replied.


"A picnic? Oooo how romantic," Scully teased. "Grass and bugs, mingling around inside your sandwich the second you set it down...." Mulder gave her his low, sexy chuckle that made her spine tingle with pleasure.

When they reached the site, Mulder shut off the ignition. He glanced at Scully, who, in turn, glanced at him. Their eyes met for a moment before she pulled them away and opened the door.

They got out and he rushed to the trunk to retrieve their dinner. Scully grabbed the blanket and spread it out over the grass in front of the car and plopped down. Mulder set the basket on the blanket in front of them and sat next to Scully.

Looking out, Scully realized just why Mulder had chosen to come here. The view was fantastic; on top of this hill, you could see just about all of DC. The sun was going down, casting a pink shadow over everything.

Mulder seemed a nervous next to her, twiddling his thumbs and staring into his lap. Scully noticed that he was inexperienced in this sort of area, so she reached over to the basket and opened the lid.

She began to take things out, one by one. Sandwiches, pasta, bread, soup, apple juice (which she smiled at) and red wine. She took out the two plates and gave one to him, and took a sandwich. She unwrapped it and nibbled on it before reaching for the wine. Mulder had taken a sandwich, too, and retrieved the glasses. He poured some for each of them and handed her a glass.

"To..." Mulder started. He wasn't sure - he wanted to toast to them, but if she didn't want what he wanted.....

"Us," Scully finished with a smile. He smiled back at her and clicked their glasses together. Their eyes never left each other's as they sipped the wine.

Scully grabbed her sandwich and munched some more, and Mulder opened his, still watching her. She noticed it, and looked up at him. She smiled, and scooted closer in order to rest her head on his shoulder. Cautiously he snaked an arm around her waist. He expected her to pull away, but she didn't. She sighed and took another bite of her sandwich, staring out over the city. She was pleased to note that he was more relaxed and took a bite of his, too. And he was no longer staring intensely at her.

When they had each finished their dinner, Scully knew she had to say something fast, because he certainly wouldn't. She said the first thing that came to her mind.

"I can see my favorite constellation," she told him.

"Which one?" he asked quietly, now looking at her.

"Casseopeia. See...." she pointed to a few stars.

"The queen..." he trailed off.

"That's right," she said, surprised, now turning in his arms to look at him. They caught each other's gaze and held it.

"Back at the Academy," he continued, still looking at her, "I used to go out here and memorize the stars. I came to just think."

"About what?" she whispered. He could feel her soft breathe caress his skin.

"Everything..." he said just as softly. Slowly, he lowered his face and brushed his lips against hers. She met him softly, and for a moment, she felt herself transcending. Then she felt his tongue graze against her lips, and she opened them to allow him in. In turn, she raked her tongue into his open mouth.

They filled each other, both feeling lightheaded and dizzy. They kissed slowly, not hard or too eager. <Just right,> Scully thought. Then she felt him break away. The loss was overwhelming; the cool air touched her wet lips and she felt suddenly empty again. He looked directly at her, into her. And she let him. He seemed to be searching her eyes.

"Have you had time to think?" he asked. She bit her bottom lip and nodded. He smiled at her and took her face into his hands and slowly began to kiss her again. His lips caressed the spot where she was biting hers and loosened them. He suckled her bottom lip and she gave a small whimper. Letting go, Mulder chuckled against her skin lip and gave her one more soft peck before he suggested, "Lets get outta here?"

She nodded and they threw the remains of their dinner into the car in their haste.


Scully lay tangled with him a few hours later. He was gently, lazily stroking her bare back in small circles. She let out a purr and he kissed her temple, just barely touching her. Her body felt exhausted and spent but her soul felt alive. She had never imagined such peace she felt now, falling asleep with him. She lay still, and soon enough she couldn't tell whose legs were whose. Suddenly he spoke up.

"So what exactly was it you decided?" he mumbled into her hair, eliciting a small laugh on her side. After a few silent moments, she gasped.

"What?" he asked.

"What are we going to tell Rachel?"

"Scully...I don't think that's a problem. Shes a pretty good guesser - don't forget, we're here because of her,"" he said reassuringly.

"I love you," she whispered.

"I love you back."


Mulder awoke to a loud banging and a ring. He opened one eye and noticed he wasn't at home on his couch. Immediately he panicked and moved, but realized that he was holding someone. He was in Scully's bed. He was holding Scully. Then the events of the past night came back and he smiled. The knocking continued, so he gave her a kiss on the temple and began untangling their bodies.

Somewhere in the process she woke up, and when he stood up from the bed she grabbed his hand, her head still buried in the pillow. He chuckled and sat back down on the bed and told her: "I have to get the door. Go back to sleep, kiddo," and brushed some hair off of her cheek.

He quickly pulled on some boxers and his white under-t-shirt and padded out of the bedroom. He reached the door and began fumbling with the deadbolts and other locks. When he finally got it open, the insistent visitor was pounding even harder. Pulling the door open, he remembered. He was face to face with Scully's mother.

"Fox!" she said, a full-fledged smile working it's way across her features. Suddenly, he was embarrassed. "Uhm....I guess we must have...I mean, uh, I must have....slept in...." he drifted off. Suddenly Rachel ran into the apartment and hugged his leg. He felt very uncomfortable.

"Sure, Fox. It's okay," she said, letting him know she had his approval.

"Okay...uhm, thank you for watching her."

"Oh, no trouble!" she said.

"Yeah, right," he replied and then asked, "want to come in?"

"No, that's okay. I have a wedding to get ready for. See you around," she said and left. Rachel was tugging on his boxers.

"Hey," he said to her, looking down.

"Up." He sighed and picked the child up. She seemed suddenly tired, so he headed back to the bedroom and placed her on the bed next to Scully. He bent down to pick up his dress shirt from the floor and sat down on the side of the bed. Scully was dozing; half-awake, half-asleep mode. He gently shifted her and dressed her in the shirt before he climbed in. Rachel crawled over and lay in between Mulder and Scully and fell asleep.

"God, Rachel must think I'm her new father...." was his last thought before falling into sleep himself.

MONOPOLIZING RELATIONSHIPS

"Oka, I'll buy i." Rachel took out $150 and handed it to Mulder. "Rich."

"Which is it?" he asked.

"Can' read."

"Right. Okay...Boardwalk." After putting her money into the "bank", Mulder looked up at her. She was studying the board with fascination.

"You know, I never anticipated you'd be such a pro at Monopoly, Rachel."

"Neither did I when I bought it," Scully intervened coming to plop down next to Mulder on the carpet.

"She beat me. Five times." Mulder chuckled.

"Dana Scully, M.D., was beaten in a classic boardgame by a two year old?" he teased.

"ALMO' THREE!" Rachel cried.

"Of course," Mulder smiled, "Rachel's a big girl." Rachel nodded seriously.

"As I recall, she beat you a couple of times, too, Mr. Hot-shot-Oxford-educated-psychologist."

Mulder shrugged with a laugh.

"Okay, wow, its 9:00. Bedtime," Scully cried, jumping up. Rachel groaned.

"No, I'm not hearing it, your going to bed," she said and lead the baby off to her room, formerly the guest room. Mulder followed her to the doorway and peered in.

"Stowee?" Rachel asked her. She shook her head. "Pweese?" Scully sighed and looked down at her daughter, who in turn, gave her best pouty look.

"Okay, fine, one story," she sighed and glanced in the doorway at Mulder. Rachel signaled him to come into the room. He did so cautiously and squatted down by her side.

"What's the matter, munchkin?" he asked. Scully glanced at them while fumbling through her daughter's bookshelf.

"You weed wit'?" she asked. He looked up at Scully and she nodded.

"Sure," he told her and sat down on the bed next to her. Scully sat down on the opposite side and opened the book.


"Thank you, God," Scully said with a sigh after closing her daughter's bedroom.

"Oh, come on, she can't be *that* bad, Scully," he teased. She simply looked at him, tilted her head, and nodded.

"You look exhausted." Again, she nodded.

"Come on," he said and took her hand, leading her to the bedroom.

"Mulder....I don't think I'm up to..." she trailed off as his finger touched her lips.

"Shh..." he whispered softly, and lead her to the bed. She sighed and fell onto it and he sat down on it as well. He guided her body to his lap and she got the picture and acquiesced. She helped him pull off her nightshirt. Scully let out a sigh she hadn't known she was holding as he began to kneed her shoulders and back.

"Mmmm..."

"Better?" he asked her, she responded with another incoherent but contented noise. He chuckled.

A few minutes and three back muscles later, she turned to look up at him. Only then did he lean down and kiss her. She purred into his mouth and she wrapped her arms around his neck to deepen the kiss. Then she pulled away.

"I'm too tired," she told him.

"Hmm...me too," he agreed, "let's go to sleep." He proceeded to undo the sheets of her bed and climbed in, Scully following.

"G'night," she whispered as he turned off the lamp, curling up next to him. Mulder had no nightmares that night.


"Ducky," Rachel stated. She was sitting in the tub and he regretted promising Scully he'd bathe her. "Ernie like! Rubba ducky, your the one!" she squeaked her duck twice, then continued with her 'song' which was more like screaming. "You make bath-ti' soo much fun!" squeak squeak. "Rubba ducky I awfully fond of you!" Mulder laughed, squirting shampoo into her hair.

"Look, Daddy, swims!" Mulder smiled then froze.

"What did you say?" he whispered, suddenly turning dead white.

"Swim!" she clapped her wet hands together and squealed. Mulder looked down at her.

<Daddy? Where did that come from?> he wondered. <Get a hold of yourself, Mulder, you spent the last three days with her mother and her, what did you expect?> Still, he felt like he was intruding all of a sudden. Then he felt frightened. Daddy? He'd never been a father and frankly the prospect scared him shitless. <I'm not her father,> he reminded, then mentally kicked himself. <Doesn't matter, idiot, she thinks you are. You now managed for a little girl to get attached to you. Bravo!>

Then he thought about the harm in it. So she thought he was her daddy, what's wrong with that? He wasn't going anywhere - he planned on staying with Scully and raising the child with her anyway, (perhaps) so why was he all freaked out? The revelation that he was completely in charge of something so small and innocent hit him like a punch in the stomach, and for a second, he felt as though he was going to fall into the tub with her. A daddy was someone to go to for comfort, to discipline you, to love you. Did he love her?

He kicked himself again. Of course he did. He hadn't only fallen in love with her mother over the past few days, but her as well. Suddenly he felt a splash on his face.

"Look!" she cried, sticking her skinny palms out to him. Her skin was all crinkly, which she continued to remind him, was a sign to get out of the tub. He gulped and nodded and rinsed the rest of the shampoo out of her hair. He stood up and so did she, and he lifted her out of the tub.

Grabbing a towel before she became interested in something other than getting dry, he came up behind her and enveloped her in the towel, and also a huge hug. She squealed and turned to face him. He knew what was coming next.

"Up!" she said.

"Lets go, kiddo," and he lifted her off the floor and headed for her bedroom.


"Scully?" Mulder asked, setting his wine glass down. She let her head tilt and fall onto the back of the couch they were sitting on, facing each other.

"Hmm?"

"I have to tell you something." She smiled at him.

"I figured," she said with a small laugh.

"Its about Rachel." Scully nodded for him to continue. "Scully...she thinks....she....she called me 'Daddy'."

Scully's smile dropped. "Oh..." she finally said, staring at her lap.

"And," he continued, "I don't mind. Its okay, I... well...would like to maybe...being a father figure for her...why can't I say this right?"

Scully looked up. "You're scared." There was a pause, before she continued. "Mulder?" she asked finally when he said nothing. He looked up from his lap. "Okay," she told him.

"Really?" he asked, surprised.

She shrugged and nodded. "If she thinks you are...and you want to play that role in her life, that's fine. Its a big responsibility, Mulder. You up to it?" He nodded. "Okay."

He laughed and crushed her to him. "Love ya," he said, still laughing.


"Rrrrrinnnngg!!!" The damned phone was ringing loudly in Mulder's ear, the bed stand conveniently placed directly next to the left pillow. He groaned, and turned in the bed towards the offensive object. It continued to ring, and he almost screamed at it.

"Yeah, yeah..." he said, grabbing the cradle. "Hellooo?" he asked sleepily.

"Agent Mulder!" he heard a stern voice call into the phone on the other end. He shot up in bed, eliciting a cry from Scully who looked up at him to see what his deal was.

"Sorry," he mouthed apologetically. She sighed and snuggled back into his lap.

He stroked her hair as he heard on the other line, "Agent Mulder, what are you doing at Agent Scully's apartment at 8:00 am!?? And at that, why aren't you two at work?!" Skinner sounded quite angry.

Scully, being able to hear him, turned up to face Mulder who mouthed again "Skinner" and then made a slitting-of-the-throat motion with his pointer finger. Scully stifled a laugh, not successfully. "Agent Mulder, this is not a funny situation. You will come to my office *immediately. A few higher Bureau powers would like to further assess yours and agent's Scully's immediate relationship," he told Mulder.

Mulder stopped stroking Scully and turned dead white.

"Agent Mulder!"

"Uh, yes, sir, immediately, I understand."

"Good. And, uh, Agent Mulder?"

"Yes, sir?"

"Good luck. You're certainly going to need it."

"Thank you, sir." Mulder hung the phone up, then stated the first word that could explain their tenuous situation: "Shit."

"What?!" Scully cried, sitting up, her hair sticking out in all directions. The sheet fell from her revealing her breasts but she hardly cared. She put two hands on Mulder's shoulders, and repeated, "What?! Mulder!"

"Skinner is calling us into a meeting...to "further assess your and Agent Scully's current relationship"," he told her.

"No, no they can't do that," Scully said, beginning to get the picture. "Mulder...if they find out...they'll... no...." she mumbled and he simply nodded. "No!" she said, and flung herself away from the bed, a few tears escaping her eyes.

"Hey, hey, shh...." he told her, grabbing her and pulling her to him, stroking her back, "we'll be okay...we always are...we're inseparable, remember?" She nodded quite seriously at his words. Smiling at her, he realized that this must be tearing her up, and she had obviously thought more about the implications of their choice than he had.

Scully? Cry? Un-heard of. She never cried. Well, only when something was really tearing her up inside...*really* tearing her up. And all he could offer her were a few stupid promises that they'd always be together, even though he knew that as soon as they found out about them being lovers, they'd be reassigned. Scully couldn't deal with that, he realized suddenly. She might really fall apart this time. He was suddenly frightened for the small woman in his arms.

Suddenly, he saw the door to the bedroom open and Rachel step inside. "M-....mommy?" she asked, looking incredibly frightened. Scully looked up through tear-stained eyes at her small daughter. "Ddd-daddy?" she said, spotting Mulder. Scully looked at her, reached her arm out.

"Come here, sweetie," she called to her, and watched Rachel make her way waddling to the bed. Climbing up, Scully pulled the baby to her and rocked her, the whole time holding her like a little girl held a blanket or a beloved doll, nearly suffocating the poor thing. Rachel leaned up and placed a sloppy kiss on her mother's cheek, then nuzzled her neck. Mulder took this as the perfect opportunity to grab his boxers from the ground and he slipped into them, getting out of bed.

Rachel turned to him and reached her tiny arm out. "Where going, daddy?" Scully looked at him, still sniffling slightly.

"To take my shower, Rachel. He walked over to the child and placed a kiss on the top of her head. "Help Mommy, Rachel," he whispered into her ear and she nodded, turning back to her mother. Scully, of course, heard his whisper and smiled at him, falling back onto the bed with Rachel next to her.


"Agent Scully, Agent Mulder, take a seat." Skinner looked considerably less angry than he had sounded, but then again, there were a number of "higher powers" seated behind them, waiting for the agents. The two sat silently, and Skinner spoke up. "I'll cut right to the point, agents. The Bureau has a number of reasons for believing that you and your partner are ......engaging in a non-professional relationship, outside the Bureau."

Mulder silently let out a sigh inside of his head, knowing how to answer this one. At least the way Skinner had phrased it. "Of course, sir. Agent Scully and I are best friends."

Skinner looked a bit uncomfortable, and glanced behind them at someone, then back to the agents. "Agent Mulder, the Bureau is aware that you and Scully are good friends; and partners." He paused, trying not to come off too hard. "My question had more to do on the lines of a sexua...uh...romantic relationship, agents." Mulder and Scully simply sat and looked at Skinner. "Agents?"

"What would you like us to answer, sir?" Mulder asked, delaying the inevitable as long as he had to.

"I hate to put it so blunt, but...are you sleeping together?" Scully shifted a little in her chair and shot Mulder a glance, then held it. They had talked about their response to this, if it came up, and agreed that Mulder should answer it. Scully took in a deep breath, and nodded to Mulder. He noticed her ragged breathing and shot her an understanding and sympathetic look. She saw something else there, too, which she now recognized as complete and total adoration; love.

Mulder turned his gaze back to Skinner, and stared his boss straight in the eyes. "Yes."

OUR PROBLEMS


There was silence in the room.

"Agent Mulder, did you say that you and Agent Scully are sleeping to- having sex?!" The anger in his voice was showing in his features. Mulder looked at Scully and nodded.

"Shit," Skinner mumbled under his breath, already knowing what was going to happen.


Scully sat on her bedroom windowsill, tears streaming silently down her face. They drew tracks on her cheeks, falling together on Mulder's old Bullet's t-shirt. His scent was still woven into its fine fabric after years of washing, and she wrapped the ridiculous cotton garment around her small body tighter, as thought it was him holding her.

It brought little comfort to her tired nerves. She wanted him to be there to wrap his arms lazily around her, to breathe in his musky, living scent, rather than one left on fabric.

She sighed, her sobs subsiding into that sniffling, hiccuppy phase after the fit has left. Leaning back against the cool, wood frame, she let her gaze wander to the city street below. A car or two passed by, a few sirens sounded from somewhere out of her immediate eyesight. Something she'd grown accustomed to over the last years.

She heard a creak coming from behind her, and she turned quickly to see Rachel in the doorway. She was wearing her underwear; that was it. Scully had forgotten to set her pajama's out for her previously, and smiled at the baby's silky brown hair pulled up in a sloppy ponytail, most of it coming out of the small band. She rubbed her eye with the back of her hand and gazed sleepily at Scully. Unfolding her legs from underneath her, Scully slipped off the sill and padded over to where Rachel was standing. She watched the baby reach her short arms above her head and request "Up."

Bending down, she scooped the child into her arms and walked out of her bedroom, towards her daughter's. Once inside, she set Rachel down on the small bed. When she'd bought it, she'd known that two year olds were supposed to sleep in cribs, but couldn't afford both. Lucky for her the child didn't move too much in her sleep.

Setting her on the bed, she moved for the dresser and chose her white long john pajamas with Ernie. She turned to see the little girl studying her.

"Sad." A testament of what her mommy had been for the past few days. Scully sighed and nodded. Rachel lifted her arms over her head so that Scully could slip the shirt on, and then stood and stepped into the pants. Scully pulled the hair-band out and rustled her soft, thin brown hair. She undid the bedclothes and helped Rachel climb underneath the blue sheets. Scully scooted her over and lay down next to her.

"Okay?" Rachel asked. Scully held the girl and nodded. "Mommy?"

"Yes, sweetie?"

"Miss Daddy. You miss him, too?"

"Yeah, Rachel. I miss Daddy, too." It was all Scully could do to keep from crying.

"Talk to Daddy? Pweese?" Rachel asked her. Scully considered it. She was sure Mulder would want to talk to Rachel, and both of them wanted to talk to him.

"Okay. You wanna dial?"

"Ya!" Rachel bounced up and grabbed the phone cradle, pressing speed dial #1.

"Hello," a voice answered on the other end. Rachel recognized it as Mulder's.

"Daddy!" she cried into the phone.

"Rachel!" he said, equally as excited. "What's up?"

"Nuthin. Mommy's sad," she told him, and he sighed. "Daddy sad?"

"Yeah, Daddy's sad, too, munchkin," he said softly.

"Doin'?"

"Nothing...just sittin' and thinkin'."

"No work?"

"No work."

"Say goodnight," he heard Scully's voice call.

"Gotta say g'night, Daddy. Love you, Daddy."

"I love you, too, Rachel." With that, Rachel handed the phone to her mother, who reached over and turned off her light, and kissed her on the forehead.

"Goodnight, sweetheart," she said, and walked out of the room. "Mulder," she sighed, leaning up against the hallway wall after bringing the phone to her ear.

"Hey, kiddo," he said, a smile audible in his voice.

"Mulder, I hate this," she said, trying to gulp back tears. "Mulder, I have to see you. Just come over, please," she begged him.

"Scully..." he started. "You have no idea how much I want to just come over there and kiss you and make it all better. But we agreed...that was our problem. When we were together, we felt nothing could bother us. It was blinding, Scully, but also dangerous. Now they shut down the X-Files because of it..."

"But I don't understand, Mulder! If the X-Files are gone, what do we have to lose? I'm sure all of Them know about us already! What do we have to lose?!"

"Rachel," he stated, simply. Scully gave a small cry and he said, "Scully...its okay. I won't let Them do anything to her. You just gotta trust me on this one, Scully, you have to. Please."

Scully sighed. "Okay, Mulder. But when can I see you?"

"I don't know...I'll call you. Okay?"

"Okay."

"Okay, Scully. I love you."

"Love you, too." And he hung up. Scully closed her eyes and softly another tear escaped her eye as she pressed the phone cradle against her heart.


"Okay, uhm, have the reports on my desk by tomorrow at ten."

"Dr. Scully? Its only four o'clock. Are you leaving already?"

Scully turned to look at the intern. He was definitely one of the more inexperienced, stubborn one.

"Yes, I am leaving already." She looked him straight in the eye. Mulder hadn't minded when she left. He was a more understanding colleague to say the least.

"Dr. Scully, you are supposed to stay at least until five."

"Never stopped me before. I have to go home to my daughter if you'd excuse me," Scully told him. He still looked her straight in the eye, accusingly, as she walked off.

Once outside she smiled, thinking of how he never questioned the rules. <That'll change soon enough, it did for me>. She slipped her white coat off and onto the rack outside her office. Underneath she was wearing her usual short sleeved blouse tucked into a black skirt. She had abandoned the prospect of suits anymore, or jackets, due to the heat. She grabbed her briefcase and walked out into the hallway.

Exiting the forensics building in which she now worked, she entered the violent crimes through a corridor connecting the two buildings. Silently she was hoping she could see Mulder, wondering if he wanted to see her, too. She knew he did, but in this matter had more restraint than he did. She headed to one of the sub-hallways which was completely empty, leading to an exit.

Suddenly, her body was yanked to the side, into a doorway. She opened her mouth to scream, but felt a palm close over it and a familiar voice whisper "Shh....shhh....its me... shh...." and she stopped her efforts to scream. He removed his hand from over her mouth and turned her around to face him. He smiled at her and reached a hand out to touch her face. It brushed across her temple and she closed her eyes, leaning into it.

"I missed you..." she whispered, and he reached under her chin to tilt it up. He kissed her, but broke it off soon, <too soon>, for fear of being caught.

"I thought we weren't supposed to see each other," she teased, playing with his tie.

"I missed you," he said, repeating her words. She smiled up at him and he kissed her again. When he pulled away this time, she felt her knees felt wobbly.

"How's Rachel?" he asked, and she sighed.

"She misses you," she said, "and she knows that we are both 'sad'...she is, too. Mulder, you have to see her." He nodded.

"Yeah, yeah, but not now...not today...maybe not even this week. Scully, we're still vulnerable. Its not safe yet...."

Scully let out a small whimper before wrapping her arms around him. "Please don't leave me...."

"I won't, Scully. I won't. But we can't see each other right now... I have to go, the VCS guys will be suspicious. I'll try to meet you here tomorrow, too...I might not be able to. Look, Scully....tell Rachel I'll be home soon. I love you," he told her and kissed her forehead before disappearing back into the hallway.

She waited a few seconds, watching him disappear down the hallway before she headed on her own way slowly.

**-

Mulder sat at his desk, the small office he had been assigned illuminated by a small lamp with a weak bulb. He was trying to focus on his work, but his mind kept drifting to Scully and her... and *their* little girl. Suddenly an epiphany came over him - it wasn't fair. He was being separated by his lover and his daughter because of his job...still, he didn't think it do either of them good to be together immediately...but, he missed it more than words could say. Waking up in her soft, warm bed, holding her close to him. When he had gone back to his cold couch he wanted to scream at the top of his lungs....that's pretty much how he felt right then.

Taking off his glasses, Mulder rubbed his eyes. If all this hadn't happened he would be at home with Scully and Rachel...hell, probably in bed. It had only been two days since he'd last seen her, but it felt like years somehow. One visit wouldn't do too much harm, would it? But he knew that in the privacy of her home they would go too far and then....and then what? He made up his mind. He couldn't live like this; seeing her had become his reason for living, and unless he did so, he wouldn't get anything done.


Mulder approached her apartment slowly, and when he reached it, decided he wanted to surprise her by sneaking in via his key. As he put the key into the lock, he heard a noise coming from inside. Now, normally Scully wouldn't make noise at 10:30 pm because Rachel would be sleeping...it was then that he realized there was something incredibly wrong.

Hurrying, he fumbled with the key and cursed when it was the wrong one. Finally, he got the right one into the lock and opened it. Just then, he heard another sound, this one of broken glass. Running toward it, he found himself in the kitchen, where Scully sat, on the floor, crying and bloody.

"What happened?!?!" he screamed, and she looked up. Seeing him, she froze, then turned her head away. Just then, he heard a small voice whisper his "name".

"Daddy?" it asked, and he turned to see Rachel standing in her nightgown.

"Rachel," he said, picking her up and cradling her to him. She began to cry, and he rocked her back and forth, watching Scully. She looked up at them and told him what had happened.

"Mulder...I was crying again....and went into the kitchen to get some water and the glass broke and cut me and I got upset...." she mumbled, standing up.

"Don't move, Scully!" She looked at him, questioningly. "You're barefoot," he reminded her and she looked down. She nodded and he set Rachel down on the counter.

Stepping over the glass, he reached for Scully and lifted her off the ground, and placed her on the carpet outside the kitchen. She looked at him and went to her bedroom, her hands still bloody while Mulder worked on the glass. She returned shortly with flip-flops on. He just then noticed his old Bullet's T-shirt she was wearing, and his blue boxers.

She turned to the sink and began to wash her hands and arms, washing away her blood. Rachel watched her, tears drawn across the baby's face. Scully looked at her apologetically and the baby met her gaze between sniffles. Scully gave her a half smile and Rachel looked down at her arms which were cut. Rinsing the last of the blood, Scully dried her arms on a towel and held them out for Rachel to inspect. She ran her little fingers up and down the length of the cuts.

"Boo-boo," she announced, and Mulder stood up, tossing the last of the glass into the wastebasket. Coming up behind them, he wrapped his arms around Scully's waist and put his chin on her shoulder. She leaned back into him, breathing in his scent. Rachel watched this with a quizzical look. "Luv." she stated. Mulder laughed softly in Scully's ear, which made her tingle.

"Bedtime," Mulder said, surprising both of them. Rachel simply nodded and Mulder picked her up, holding Scully's hand, and walked toward her bedroom.

Once tucked back in, Mulder and Scully each kissed her and she frowned. "Daddy staying?" she asked them. Mulder and Scully looked at each other and Mulder nodded. Rachel seemed content with his answer and said "G'night Mommy Daddy."

They closed her door and Scully looked away from him, avoiding his gaze. He eventually sighed and walked toward her hallway closet. Returning, he led her to the couch where he guided her body to sit, him following, and brought out the ointment and bandages. Only then did she look up and see how much he cared, even though he wasn't there with her the whole time. She reached a hand out to touch his face, making sure he was real. He looked up from his ministrations to meet her gaze. He set down the equipment and took one of her hands in his. Turning it over, back and forth, he finally spoke.

"Scully. What's the matter. You aren't taking this well. You're sick."

"Damn straight I'm not taking this well! I'm in love with you and I can't even be with you! We've been waiting six years, Mulder! And I'm *sick* of waiting! And I'm not sick!" she said.

After moments of silence, Mulder answered. "I see. You are sick, babe. You are. Well people do not go around breaking glasses and getting themselves all bloody by cutting themselves with it. Scully, I'm not taking this well, either, but I'm not as angry as you are. I can't concentrate on my new assignment for a minute without thinking about you and Rachel. The problem is, Scully, that when we spend too much time together, in *that* way, we get sloppy with other things and...I didn't phrase that well. We are so wrapped up in how happy we are that we forget about our real problems..."

"Mulder?" Scully interjected.

"Yeah?"

"For one night...just one night...I want to forget about our problems."

OLD HABITS DIE HARD

Scully awoke that morning with Mulder again. She could feel his heart beating under her ear, feel his soft breath against her forehead. She was glad that he had finally slept; she was sure that he had gotten no sleep whatsoever the last week.

Or was it two? It could have been years to Scully. Now thinking about it, she had gotten close to no sleep since they had separated. Her daily routine had become composed of hoping to see him - all other events were unimportant. She had become uninterested in almost all she had to do.

Even things with Rachel. She had always loved reading to her daughter, even though she pretended to hate it. She relished the feeling of snuggling with her and loved the way the baby would try to read her favorite books back to Scully, not being able to recognize a single word, but simply telling the story by the pictures. After finishing a page, she would look up at Scully hopefully, and she would laugh and pull her daughter closer.

Since Mulder had left, she became bored with the routine. They used to switch off pages - Scully, then Mulder, then Rachel - and every time Scully would sit down to read Rachel one of her books alone, her mind drifted to what she thought Mulder was doing, until Rachel finally put the book away.

Her daughter hadn't taken the separation too well, either. Every evening at around 6:00, she would go to her bedroom and sit next to the window, hoping to see his car pull up like he always had. He used to come by every night and eat dinner with them and sometimes spend the night. Either way, he'd always been there to share a book.

Funny, before they became lovers she had never thought she could live with him that way; now she couldn't live *without* him. She wanted to stay with him this way forever, knowing that as soon as he woke up, he would leave and she wouldn't see him for another week. Scully placed a kiss over the skin where her lip lay, and he stirred slightly.

Cursing herself mentally, she looked up just as his eyes opened. They focused on somewhere behind her, in the direction in which they had been pointed, and then down at her. He smiled, and she gave him her best half one. He sighed and she rolled off of him, falling on her back beside his body. He propped himself on his side by his elbow, and reached out to smooth her hair from off her forehead.

"What's the matter?" he asked. She had been looking at the ceiling, but turned to look him in the eye.

"I want this to last," she answered finally. He reached over her body to grasp her hand, and tangled his fingers with hers.

"Don't we always?" he smiled. She laughed a little, and nodded her head.

"But its different this time," she sighed, closing her eyes. "I can't live like this, Mulder. Every minute hoping to see you, hoping that the X-Files will be put back together. Hoping that Rachel will come out of the daze she often gets in the evening." At her words, Mulder gave her a quizzical expression.

"What do you mean?"

"Shes just....you always came over around 6:00. And she goes into her bedroom and sits on the sill, waiting to see your car. She cries sometimes when I tell her its time to go to bed. She refuses to believe that you're not there to tuck her in and kiss her goodnight..." she trailed off.

She turned to look at Mulder who had the saddest expression she'd ever seen on a person displayed on his face. A single tear rolled down his cheek and Scully leaned up to kiss it away. Suddenly more came streaming down, too many for Scully to kiss away, so instead she spoke. "Does it have to be *this* way, Mulder? We can't go on like this...." she said quietly.

He simply shook his head, trying to contain his sobs.

She wrapped her arms around his neck and pulled herself to him until he stopped crying. "So, we don't have to stop seeing each other?" she asked, hopefully. He said nothing.

"Please don't leave me, Mulder...please...." she whispered, and he looked down at her. He nodded and gulped. She smiled at him and hugged him closer. Just then, she sat up.

"What?" he asked her, sitting up as well.

"Its 12:00!" she cried. "Work! Shower!" just then, they met each other's gaze and yelled in unison "Rachel!"

Leaping from the bed, Mulder slipped on his boxers and Scully pulled his t-shirt over her head, adding to the mess which was her hair, then slipping socks on her cold feet. She came up just behind Mulder, and sprinted behind them until she slid into his still body in front of the living room. He scanned the area, which was totally spotless. He turned and laughed when Scully slid on her socks directly into his back.

She smiled sheepishly at him he took her hand, proceeding into the living room. Only then did they see the blocks scattered on the carpet in front of the television, and some silly cartoon blaring from it. And then their eyes fell on the baby, who was sitting semi-cross-legged on the ground, her short legs unable to bend. She clapped her hands together and smiled up at them. Around her mouth there was remains of chocolate milk and Scully immediately turned to the kitchen. Finding it clean, she looked back at Rachel who squealed and pointed to the phone which was off the hook, hanging off the table with the handset on the carpet.

"Ring!" she cried and jumped up. "Ansawed it! Ansawed it!" she yelled, jumping up and down, still clapping her hands. Mulder laughed and she realized this was the perfect opportunity to go "up." "Up!" she cried, and he laughed again, scooping her into his arms. "Ansawed it," she stated again, pointing to the phone.

"You did?" he asked, tickling her, and she laughed. Scully smiled at them and went to the kitchen to further investigate the unexplained phenomena also known as how in the hell a two year old managed to successfully pour herself a glass of chocolate milk without first drenching the kitchen - and herself.

Rachel nodded between her giggles, and Mulder continued to tickle her, asking "You did!?". Finally he asked "Who was it?!" still tickling her.

Between laughs, she managed to get out "Misser Skinna!" and Mulder immediately stopped. Scully stopped her searches through the refrigerator to turn to look at Mulder. In turn, he looked at her. "Daddy?" Rachel asked quietly.

"What'd he say, munchkin?" he asked, looking down at her in his arms.

"Wanted t' know where yoooo were," she told him.

Mulder couldn't help but smile at the prospect of Skinner struggling to get something out of a two-year old on the phone. "What'd you tell him?"

"Mommy Daddy asleep in Mommy's bed go away. Hung up." Mulder's eyes widened, and he gulped.

"Did you say *in* Mommy's bed? Did you say 'Daddy'?" he asked. She nodded, a smile on her face.

"Proud of me?" she asked him, and Mulder was pulled out of his daze.

"Of course I am, sunshine. Big girl?"

"Yah!" she said with a giggle and reached her hands out to her mother in the kitchen. Mulder acquiesced and walked to where Scully was standing, handing her the baby. She was in equal shock when Rachel slipped into her arms, but wrapped hers lazily around her.

"What else did you do while we were asleep, babe?" she asked, sighing happily.

A mischievous grin spread across her features, and she raised her eyebrows, making a zipper motion with her hand across her mouth. She then threw her hand sideways, as if throwing away the "key". Scully laughed and walked back into the living room, Mulder following her. "Well, we have to get you dressed...the babysitter will be here any minute... wait a second...has she come by already?"

Rachel nodded. "Asked to open da door let her in."

"What'd you say?" Scully asked.

"Cant do it. Sorry go." Scully smiled and looked at Mulder.

"I'm going to take my shower. Why don't you get her dressed and call the 'sitter." Mulder nodded and grabbed the baby, turning her upside-down while walking toward the bedroom. She giggled and squirmed as Scully headed for the shower.


Mulder and Scully entered the headquarters together. They had decided to screw Bureau policies...they were lovers and they didn't care about Skinner and the rest of them. Shortly after, they had gotten a call from Skinner on Scully's cell phone and asked him to please meet him in a private discussion in his office.

As they walked through the building, people eyed them strangely, almost cautiously. Scully wanted to punch them, but for her sake, kept her cool. She was just dreading walking through the VCS unit. The "guys" as Mulder called them were cheapskate punk asses who talked and joked about other agents and Bureau rumors. He said they reminded him of a bunch of high-schooler bullies. Her thoughts were interrupted as they entered the unit.

Mulder grabbed her hand and leaned down to whisper in her ear.

"I have to get some papers in my office, love. Its okay - if they say anything I'll just pull my weapon." Scully smiled at his words, and tangled her fingers with his. Many of the agents stared at them from behind their booth's and Scully gave them death glares.

They approached his office "lobby". It was just a larger room with a few desks in it. His three "partners", Agent Lawrence, Mackie, and Roberts, were perched on their desks, laughing and talking. She knew from in an instant that they got nothing done. Mulder entered the room, and they stopped talking.

"Hey Mulder," one called. Then Scully appeared in the doorway and their faces became serious. They turned to each other and exchanged glances, and one turned to them.

"So, Mulder, this the chick who got you booted from the X-Files?"

"Shut up, Lawrence," Mulder called, walking toward his office door. He had insisted on his own, and Skinner had acquiesced, knowing how unbearable they were to be around.

"Mrs. Spooky, I presume," Lawrence said, then slapped another on the arm, laughing.

Mulder turned from where he was standing slowly to look at the three assholes to whom he had been assigned to. Was it some kind of cruel punishment for falling in love with your partner?

"Lawrence, shut up you dumb fuck," he said quite matter-of-factly, and Scully placed a hand on his arm. He looked down at her apologetically, tacitly reminding her that he wished to God that they could still be partners.

"How long did it take to keep from fucking her, Mulder? Six years? Wow. I tell ya, I wouldn't have had that much restraint. Shes hot, Mulder. Your a --" but his words were cut off by Mulder's action. He grabbed Lawrence by the collar and felt himself spitting the words into the agent's face.

"I said shut up, you stupid fuckhole. And if you ever mention my partner again, I won't hesitate to put a barrel into your shit-filled head." The younger agent gulped and Scully simply stood her ground, watching it. Mulder let the agent go with a thrust, and stormed into his office, Scully close behind him.

She couldn't help but think about how he still called her "my partner". <Old habits die hard, I guess>. Mulder pounded his fist on his desk, and Scully closed the door behind them, locking it. She heard chuckles from the other room and a rude comment saying something like "Wonder what's coming next..." but chose to ignore it.

She made her way slowly to Mulder and wrapped her arms around his waist. He turned to her, a look of anguish on his face.

"I need you, Scully. I hate this," he whispered, and choked on his words.

"I know," she told him just as quietly, and he leaned down to kiss her, but pulled away quickly.

"Don't leave me," he said, gulping down tears. She leaned up and pecked his cheek, assuring him,

"I won't. Never." And at that he took a deep breath and grabbed his briefcase. Slumping an arm around her shoulder, he guided her toward the door and gave her a defeated look before opening the door and heading toward Skinner's office.


"Agent Mulder, Scully, this is a personal matter, I know. I am here to talk to you off the record. As a friend."

The two agents nodded to their boss, staring straight at him.

"Agents...I know that...well, that you are probably "in love"," he said. <God, he sounds so cold,> Scully thought, but listened to what her boss was saying. "Am I right?" the two nodded quite seriously. "And I have to say...we all saw this coming. Well, everyone except you two. You know there have been rumors about you for years and I always respected that you remained faithful to Bureau policy."

Mulder shifted slightly in his chair.

"I can't blame you for this. I know that. I can only advise you. Now I know you continue to see each other...mainly because your daughter told on you this morning," he said, and Scully smiled. "But I have to tell you: it would be safest to stay away for a while. To step back until all of this calms down. There are forces - outside the Bureau - that would like to see the two of you apart. They fear you, Agents, and although they are the most platonic and calmest men I've ever met, they risk exposure every day. And they know you are stronger together. They will do anything to break you apart. Please, for your safety, step away."

Mulder's eyes found Scully's, and the look of fear he saw there cut through him like a knife. Mulder shook his head.

"Agent Mulder?" Skinner asked, and Mulder took a breath of air, preparing for what he was about to say.

"No, sir. We can't do that." Skinner looked directly at them, and shifted his jaw.

"Agents, I would seriously rethink this -"

"I know what you are thinking, sir," Scully said, surprising all three of them. The words simply escaped her lips. "Two stupid agents with their heads where the sun don't shine, thinking they're in love. Have you ever been in love before, sir?" she asked, her face remaining neutral, her body still up straight.

Skinner looked at her, considering his answer, "No," he told them, which surprised them even more than Scully's interjection had.

Scully nodded. "Sir, we can't live like this. We can't. Please understand that."

Skinner sighed and played with a pen in his hand. "Is there nothing I can say to convince you otherwise?" he asked them hopefully. They shook their heads. "Then what can I say. Watch your backs, agents, because they'll be watching them, too." After a pause of silence, he spoke again. "You are dismissed."


Scully and Mulder laughed while making their way down the hallway towards her apartment. Pausing before her door, she dug into her purse to retrieve her keys. Finding the cool metal, she yanked them out. Fumbling, she found the right key and stuck it into the lock. Mulder grabbed her arm before she opened the door, and pulled her small frame to him. He gave her a slow kiss, but pulled away when they heard an "Ahem" from somewhere behind them.

Scully's neighbor, an elderly woman, was walking by, eyeing them. Scully blushed, and hung her head. Mulder simply smiled. Suddenly, the moment was interrupted by a wail coming from somewhere inside her apartment. She looked up with a scared expression, and Mulder's face turned dead white. Lunging for the door, Scully yanked it open and ran inside. There was nothing in sight, but all the lights were turned off. She heard another sob, and ran to the corner of the room, where a broken figure lay curled in a ball. Scully rushed to her, and saw the blood and bruises immediately.

"Jenifer!" she cried, and kneeled down beside the babysitter. She could feel Mulder brush against her side, leaning down next to her. Scully knew what had happened, even before Mulder asked hastily, "What happened?!" The girl looked up, and Scully gulped at the total fear and madness she saw there.

"Shes gone," she whispered.

LIGHT

Jenifer is talking on the phone. Why does she love the phone so much? I only love the phone when I get to talk to Daddy with it. He's fun to talk to on the phone. Now she's brushing her hair. Again. Why does she do that? I hate it when Mommy brushes my hair - its so annoying. I don't care if it looks a mess.

Sesame Street is on the TV. I love Ernie and the Ducky. Ducky squeaks. Snuffy is on right now - he is talking to Oscar the Grouch in his trash can. Why does Oscar like his trash can so much? I tried going into my trash can but Mommy yelled and gave me a bath. It wasn't much fun. But Ducky was there.

I want to see Ducky.

Jenifer is still on the phone with someone. Jenifer loves the phone. I can go get Ducky and be back before she sees me. I will get up and get Ducky now. I go into the bathroom and climb in the tub. Now Mommy usually pulls Ducky out, or Daddy does. But Mommy and Daddy are not here. Jenifer is here. Jenifer hates baths. Where is Ducky? Where is Mommy and Daddy? They are sad a lot. Daddy never comes home anymore like he used to. Where does he go? Mommy says he is at his own home. Why would he want to go to his own home when he could come home and read to me? He says he loves reading to me.

He says he loves me.

I remember that Mommy puts Ducky away after baths. Where does Ducky live? The sink. No, under the sink. Yes. Under the sink. Right.....there. I need to get out of the tub to go there. So I climb out of the tub and open the sink. There is all my bath toys. There's my boat, my Cabbage Patch bath baby, my cars and my Barbie. Where is Ducky? There he is - in the back. I reach and get Ducky and hug him.

Where is Jenifer now? Is she still talking into the phone? I hate the phone now. I want someone to play with me. Ducky can't play with me. I throw Ducky back and think who will play with me. Mr. Bear! He will play. I go back to where my blocks are and look for Mr. Bear. He is not there. Maybe he went to see Mommy and forgot to come back. I will go into Mommy's room to look for Mr. Bear.

I see Jenifer - she is on the phone. And drawing on her face. I tried drawing on my face once, too. Mommy laughed and told me that "make-up" was for really big girls. Then she called me baby and hugged me. I want to hug Mommy. Where is she?

Mr. Bear is sitting in Mommy's drawer when I come in. I remember that I was playing with him there before. I walk to Mommy's drawer and pull Mr. Bear out. Then I notice Daddy's clothes in Mommy's drawer. He has his shorts, his t-shirt, and the ugly shirt he has to wear to work every day. Mommy wears his t-shirt a lot when she cries.

I look at Mr. Bear. "Wanna play?" I ask him, and he nods. I go over to the window. That is where Mr. Bear likes to play. Then there is a light coming from the window. The light isn't a nice light, it is scary. I don't like the light. I cant see Mr. Bear anymore. I cant see Mommy's room anymore. I am going toward the light. I don't want to go to the light.

Where is Mommy? Where is Daddy? They said they love me. I start to cry and call out Mommy and Daddy. I am screaming as loud as I can now, and I call Jenifer, but there is only light. Bad light. There is a person coming to me.....

TRUTHFUL CONTACTS

Scully cried all evening. The police were there, and a few watched her sympathetically as she clung to Mulder, who was also crying. The sirens from outside were blaring through the window which Rachel had apparently "floated out of" as Jenifer had described, illuminating the dark apartment in a mist of fear. Mulder's tears mingled with Scully's on his shirt. He had never felt such a pang of guilt, rage, sorrow, and regret than he did when he knew his daughter was gone. <Its happening again. Not my baby.> He looked down at Scully, who, in turn, looked up at him. Their eyes met and they were both thinking what had just gone through Mulder's mind: Its happening again.

Scully was thinking of Mulder right then. Samantha had nearly killed him, but this....this was beyond comprehension. Why would someone want her baby? she asked herself over and over. <Its my fault. If Mulder and I weren't players, she wouldn't be gone. They wanted me, not her. Take me.> She could only imagine horribly experiments they were doing to her baby.

Mulder turned away from her and began to hit his fists on the kitchen counter, paying no heed to the pain it brought to his hands. He wanted to hurt himself, to make Scully's and Rachel's pain equal to his own. Try as he might, he would never be able to inflict that much pain on himself, and he knew it, which is why he gave up when Scully flung herself at him. She was sobbing, and for both their sakes, he calmed down and held her. Just then, they heard a voice from somewhere behind them.

"Agents," it said, and they both recognized it as their boss. Just the person Mulder *didn't* need to see right now. They both looked at each other, then turned around to meet their Skinner's eyes.

Skinner was taken aback by the madness he met in their gazes, and realized for the first time, what they must be feeling. When he had called Scully's apartment that morning, her daughter had said "Daddy" and he knew immediately that she was speaking of Mulder. And he wondered just how close they were. He had always thought it was some mid-life crisis they were going through, running around sex-deprived for six years. It was bound to happen sooner or later, but now he realized that they were really *in love*.

When she had been assigned to him, they were almost certain she'd be gone within a week; they had totally different views and personalities. Not the type of couple to be falling in love. Okay, so they were both young and fairly hot, but that was *all* they had in common. Now the popular saying of "opposites attract" was truly proven.

They said nothing; they were beyond words. He knew they couldn't even convey the grief, anger and rage they felt for the loss of Scully's little girl - okay, he'd admit it, *their* little girl.

"I don't know what to say," was all Skinner could make out, which elicited another crying fit from Scully. She turned away from him and clung to Mulder, who in turn, rubbed her back. His own tears had dried and now all he felt was hatred.

Skinner was surprised to see Agent Scully, the up-tight, "Ice Queen", so vulnerable and fragile. Mulder seemed totally wrecked, too, with all defenses down. Frankly, it scared him to see his two best agents reduced to incoherent wails and tears. <This little girl was seriously loved>.

"Agents, I uh, I am going to put our best agents on this, and devote my full personal attention to it as well. For good reasons, I think neither of you should head or fully participate in the investigation." At his words, Mulder's head jerked up, and Scully turned hers to face him, the side of it still pressed firmly against Mulder's chest.

"No," was all she could make out, before running out of the room crying. Mulder didn't follow her, but left her to her own grief for a while. He saw her heading toward the bedroom.

Scully entered her bedroom and saw nothing out of the ordinary. A drawer in her bureau had been opened and she scanned the room for anything, any sign of who did this. Then, by the window, she saw it. Mr. Bear.

She walked slowly to the ridiculous toy, and picked it up, the tears welling up now falling. She held the doll as though her sheer will could bring her baby back. She slowly fell to her knees, then to a slumped position, holding Mr. Bear and wailing.


Mulder and Scully entered the buzzing room. Agents were mingling around, phones were ringing, and people yelling. Mulder was again reminded of when Scully had gone into the stake out without him...that was the first time he had really *talked* to Rachel, and he gulped at the thought.

The room silenced when they saw Mulder and Scully standing in the doorway, Scully under Mulder's arm. They all stared wide-eyed at them in the disheveled mess which was their appearance. Only after getting over this did you see the rage and fear and anguish in their eyes, which were bloodshot.

Scully had insisted on getting into the investigation, and Mulder had followed her, always on her back. He could only imagine what she was feeling, and what others thought when they saw the calm, controlled Dana Scully such a mess of emotions and tears.

Slowly, she looked up at Mulder who simply sighed and continued into the room with her. They slowly walked past the cautious eyes and to the back of the room where Mulder's office was. They approached the door and his partners, who were crowded in it's frame, scrambled away, out of his way. They'd seen enough of what he could do earlier that afternoon and didn't wish to mess with him when he was this angry. They simply watched him and Scully walk past them and into his office.

Scully shut the door behind them and Mulder walked to his chair, dropping into it. Scully pulled the other chair around to his side of the desk and sat down as well. Mulder ran a hand through his hair, and she noticed it was shaking. She reached out to touch it, and he looked at her.

"I'm sorry," he whispered, and she shook her head. "For all this...if it weren't for me being in your life, Rachel wouldn't be gone..." he trailed off.

"No, Mulder. If it weren't for you, Rachel would never have *been* in the first place," she said, giving him a weak smile. That reminded him of her abduction and he sighed. "Mulder, we have to keep level heads on this one," she said, exhausted. He nodded.

"Gonna be hard, Scully." Scully nodded at his words. "I love her so much, Scully, and I just hope to God she knows that..."

"Oh, Mulder, of course she does. Since when did you believe in God, anyway?"

"Since we found Rachel," he said, and she grabbed his hand.

"We'll find her, Bureau policies be damned," she said, and he laughed at her words. It was the laugh of a madman, but enough to let Scully know that he was still feeling.

"Giddyup, partna," he joked, sounding tired, but she could hear the smile in his voice. And she smiled at him.

Just then they heard a knock on the door and Scully turned to it, and called, "Its open."

The door opened and a young female agent poked her head in. "Uhm...uhn...Agent Scully, Mulder, my name is Agent Harris. I've been assigned to work with you," she said quietly and Scully turned to Mulder. He smiled remembering the day she came into his life.

"Come in, come in," Scully said and the woman was happy to see she wasn't as much of a wreck as she was when they had arrived. She sat down in the chair opposite their side of the desk, and took out a folder.

"Okay, ah, here's all the stuff so far," she said, handing it to Mulder, who took it earnestly.

He opened it and began to read every word, not skimming it like he did usual cases. The two women waited as he flipped the pages, which were not many. Stopping at one, he lifted his head and asked, "Witness report?", obviously not remembering that the babysitter had been there.

"Jenifer," Scully reminded him, and he nodded. He then handed it to Scully, who, in turn, read every word.

"So basically, we have zip," Scully sighed, putting a hand on her forehead. The woman shrugged, paused, then nodded.

"Basically, yeah," she told them.

"Just like Samantha," he whispered to Scully. She looked over at him. Agent Harris did, too, so Scully assumed she knew about Samantha.

"We have our best agents on this case. But I have to say the kidnapper was very careful in covering their tracks. We've also kept our minds open to...the paranormal when investigating," she said, trying not to wince as Scully could see.

"This is no alien abduction, dammit," Scully said, standing up and pushing her chair back. "This is my baby!" she cried, slamming her small fist into the desk.

The tears came and she went crazy, screaming and throwing papers around. Mulder shot up from his chair and ran to her, wrapping his arms around her waist, trying to still her hysterical frame. Agent Harris joined him, and eventually she died down, sinking to the ground, sobbing.

"Why her, why her, why her...." she whispered over and over, and Agent Harris, for the first time, felt such sympathy for this woman that tears almost came to her own eyes. Scully looked up at her through tears, and all she could do was hug the woman she hardly knew. Scully welcomed it, or didn't, but didn't pull away from her embrace.

"We'll find her," she told her, pulling away, and Scully nodded.

"Thank you," she said finally. Mulder sat next to Scully cross-legged, stroking her auburn hair away from her sticky cheeks. She gave him a small smile, and he opened his arms for her. Agent Harris stood, giving Mulder a small look, then left the room.

"Scully....Scully....come on....shhhhh....." he told her, rubbing her back. She sighed.

"Okay...okay I'm sorry..." she said, breathing deep breaths.

"No, kiddo, don't be sorry....we're going to make those bad-ass chain smokers sorry...." he told her and she smiled. "Why don't you take a nap?" he asked, and she shook her head before he got the whole sentence out.

"No, Mulder...no.... I have to know what's going on..." she trailed off.

"Scully, we aren't going to come up with anything new. Just one hour, okay?" he asked. She simply stared at him. "Scully. I'll wake you if we get anything new, okay? I swear I will." She tilted her head, studying his eyes, then nodded.

"Okay."

"Okay, lie down over here," he said, guiding her to a small couch in the corner of his office. She slumped down on it, and lay back, kicking off her shoes. He knelt down by the side of the couch near her head. She turned her body on it's side to face him. Placing a kiss on her forehead, he whispered to her. "I love you. Now get some sleep." She nodded and closed her eyes.


Four hours later, Scully was still sleeping, as Mulder had expected. He'd felt guilty about conning her into that, but she needed the sleep. He sat at his desk and watched her sleeping. She was a total wreck and looked it, but still the most beautiful woman in the world to him.

All of a sudden, the telephone rang.

"Mulder," he answered it, with a yawn. There was silence on the other end, then two clicks.

"Hello? Is anyone...." he heard the clicks, and looked around the name. Instinctively, he turned around to the window and opened the closed blinds with two fingers. He searched the length of Pennsylvania Avenue with his eyes, and then spotted a man in a black trench coat by a payphone. The man looked up at him. Mulder turned back to his desk and hung the phone up. Grabbing his jacket, he was about to leave when he remembered Scully. Turning, he saw her sitting up on one elbow, watching him.

"You were going to leave me," she stated, accusingly.

"No. Scully I promised I would wake you up, and I meant it. I just forgot for a second...." he trailed off.

"Whatever," she told him, angrily. "Lets go."

Soon they had exited the headquarters and searched for the man. They spotted him heading into an ally, and Mulder grabbed Scully's hand, jaywalking across.

A few cars beeped but the agents paid them no heed.

As they approached the ally, they saw no one. Scully began to panic inside, but then a figure appeared from out of the shadows. He was a young brown-haired man, Scully guessed about their age; tall, wearing dark clothing that didn't seem to look right on him. Their first impression was: normal guy.

He looked around, then motioned for them to enter sub-alleyway and the did so earnestly. He walked a little further, glancing side to side, up and behind at Mulder and Scully. Finally, he stopped and turned to them.

"Who are you?" Mulder asked. He looked around again before answering.

"My name is Jeffrey Mathiason," he answered, almost whispering. Scully leaned closer to hear what he said. "I work for the NSA."

"Where is she?" Scully asked, cutting to the point.

"Ms. Scully, I am not sure I know exactly where your daughter is. I do, however, have something definite to offer you which may help in the search for your daughter."

"What?" Mulder interjected.

"What you've wanted for almost seven years now...or 27," he told them.

"The Truth?" Mulder asked. The man nodded.


REALIZATIONS

(the *s indicate the beginning and end of the little sermon Carter gave on the last track of the soundtrack, beginning at the second 10:13.)

"What? Your going to give us a definite answer?" Scully asked, disbelieving.

"Yes, but not here. Its not safe...do you know a secure area? Somewhere open and public would be preferable...They don't know I'm here," he told them. Mulder eyed him cautiously, so he continued. "Agent Mulder, I am no threat. But if you don't listen to what I have to say, you may never find your daughter," he said, and Mulder was surprised that he recognized him as his daughter as well as Scully's.

"Starbucks," Scully said, and Mulder nodded. The man seemed to agree, and they took off in the direction of the coffee shop.

They reached Starbucks safely, and the man quickly moved to a table in the back. They sat down and he started.

"I'll get right to the point. As you know, there is a sort of 'Consortium' and alien colonization efforts via something you know as the black oil. Correct?" Mulder and Scully nodded, so he continued. "There were certain ways to go about this 'colonization'.

*The method, as they called it, though it was more-so a germ-line procedure of singular medi-scientific complexity, had been given to them by the alien colonists as a 'quid pro quo'.

"The syndicate would help them to create a population of alien-hybrids who would hide in plain site, cloned from human ova and alien biomaterial. So there would be a clone race immune to the black oil when the return to the planet began. For this, the syndicate would be sequestered, granted a sort of immunity or asylum, given a place in the grander scheme. They were the Vishi government to the German final solution. Collaborationists whose motivation was simple, self-directed survival.

"These cloning operations were spread across the country, the cataloguing and record-keeping done through a complex intra-institutional system that connected to every branch of government. From the social security administration to the Department of Defense.

"The operation under the working title, 'Purity Control' had been launched in 1948. It's original conception, the brain-child of German scientists given immunity themselves from war crimes and allowed to continue the eugenics experiments that were Hitler's dark legacy. The Syndicate had begun as a subset of a shadow intelligence agency whose original orders were to create plausible denial and an effective cover-up of 'Purity Control.'

"But through 50 years, numerous US and UN administrations, the principles began to wrest control, accumulating power and influence across international borders. Such that by 1990, the operation ceased to have a member accountable to any one government and whose only orders will be taken from a man named Strukhold, a German industrialist who had fled his homeland to Northern Africa.

"These men, whose knowledge and access provided control of a foreseeable future, had in spite of this, everything to lose. Their secret work, the cloning preparations and the cataloguing constituted their greatest vulnerability--exposure. Their detection would insure not just their own demise but a far-reaching dissolution of social and religious order across the globe. To protect against this, the syndicate employ methods of misinformation, using covert government programs that had been regrettably discovered as a kind of smoke-screen. They dodge or blind where the transgressions of congress-accountable agencies serve to hide their own more odious undertaking. They had even at times used a UFO phenomena to create a hysteria that science and the intelligencia denounced so completely as to make belief in believers seem ridiculous and completely discreditable.

"They had also, in a crisis, used a tool of the colonists themselves. Alien bounty hunters who policed the cloning operations and enforced rule on the count-down to colonization. A double-edged sword whose cold-blooded tactics had helped to stem a leak or threat but who also kept watch on the syndicate. A threat in itself as the syndicate had something to hide that not even the colonists knew of--a vaccine against the black oil. An innoculant against the substance in which the alien life-force was held. In fact, the very medium of the life-force itself.

"To guard this secret was perhaps even more critical than the truth of the existence of alien life and of colonization. If the syndicates own secret vaccine were discovered, a vaccine that would make themselves immune from the effects of the black-oil, they would certainly be destroyed and the time-table for colonization stepped up. They would protect this secret with their lives, they would kill to protect it as a symbol of the only hope they had of avoiding enslavement when the planet was overtaken.

"That they had been able to, over decades, conduct their work on the vaccine undetected, was a result of a code among the syndicate members to put honor and the future above personal politics but, now this code was beginning to break down. An incipient scramble for power beginning to develop, a threat from within that doubled the threat from without - Agents Mulder and Scully and the X-Files..*" He pointed to Mulder and Scully as he said their names.

Mulder simply sat and stared at the man.

"Agents, I know of a place where your daughter might be. Hence, might, this is simply an area where the vaccine is being tested and implanted."

"Are they doing this to her? Is she being injected with the vaccine?" Scully asked him, frantic.

"Agent Scully, she was born under the control of these men. They may manipulate her as much as they please - they cannot be prosecuted. She is, as you might call it, 'part alien'. She was cloned through your ova after your abduction, but with alien biomaterial. She is not human." Scully's eyes widened. "Ms. Scully, trust me on this: if anything, she is safer than the rest of us. She has an immunity to an alien virus and has been given a place in the race these men are creating. She has the ultimate advantage in survival. Now," he said, pulling out a piece of paper, "this is where she is. Or was last. Other than that, I cannot help you anymore." He began to get up from the table, and Mulder stood as well, putting a hand out to stop him from walking off.

"How do we know we can trust you?" he asked.

The man paused, considering his question. "Because, Agent Mulder, you have no other choice." And with that, he left Mulder and Scully.

Mulder turned back to Scully who had her head in her hands, elbows on the table. He sat down next to her and put a hand on her back.

"Mulder...she's not normal...I wanted her to have a normal life....." she whimpered. "Scully, she still can. Emily did," he told her, and she looked up at him, terrified, and he realized his mistake.

"Emily died," she said, tears brimming in her eyes. "My poor babies..." she said, them falling. People were starting to stare, so he guided her out of her seat and into the ladies room.

"Shh..shh...Scully, he gave us this address...don't give up hope now, Scully, she needs you. I need you. Please," he pleaded. She nodded and splashed her face with water.

"Okay...okay, lets get a team on it," she said, trying to control her breathing. He nodded and they made their way out of the shop and back to the Headquarters.

When they reached the office, other agents watched as they ran through, calling Skinner's name. He turned from the paper he was reading, and approached them. "What'd you find?" he asked, and Mulder considered the two things he found out: the Truth, and Rachel's last whereabouts. He chose the latter.

"An address," he panted and handed his boss the slip of paper. Skinner read it and was puzzled. "She was there last," Mulder told him.

"Are you sure?" Skinner asked, cautiously. Mulder and Scully both nodded.

"Okay. James, get the SARs out here! We got a lead...." he called, turning away from them. Mulder and Scully looked at each other and smiled.


The teams arrived at the supposed location of Rachel's captors, and perhaps Rachel. They saw nothing.

It was a field. That was it. A field. The man had been a fraud. They had driven all the way to Ohio with six vans for a field.

Scully was a wreck. She had lapsed into another crying fit as soon as they had gotten to the field and this time, everyone had been there to witness it. Skinner had ordered Mulder to keep her at the motel until they found any definitive clues, and on top of that, the whole team thought she was psychotic.

A few hours later, Mulder was watching her sleep from a chair next to her bed. His hand was still linked with hers.

They had both taken showers; actually, together because he didn't trust Scully not to just sit down and stop washing. She had been silent all evening, except for a few nods and "uh-hunh"s. He'd tucked her in the bed in one of his t-shirts, and promised to stay awake. She'd just nodded and lay down, not closing her eyes. But eventually she fell into a deep sleep, and he was glad she was able to.

Skinner had told them that the team was going to go back to DC, but that they were welcome to stay (under Bureau expenses).

Suddenly, Scully shot up in bed.

"Mulder!" she cried, and Mulder jumped up and rushed to her side.

"What?!" he asked, bewildered.

"That's it!" she said, getting out of the bed.

"What's i- Scully!" he said, as she ran across the room to the door.

"What!" she yelled.

"Your not dressed! Where are you going?!" he asked, running to her and planting his hands firmly on her shoulders.

"I got it! She *is* at the field!"

"Scully, they searched it...all over it. They searched that barn nearby, they searched other fields. Scully, they went for miles."

"No!" she said, looking around. "Where are my clothes?!" she screamed.

"I sent them to be washed..." he muttered.

She turned to look at him. "Okay, fine. Where are your boxers then?" she asked, and he stared at her as though she was mad.

"On me!" he said. She made a motion of her hand.

"Give 'em to me, Mulder," she said, and he stared wide-eyed at her.

"No! Scully! What am *I* supposed to wear?!"

"Your jeans! Come on Mulder! She'll be gone unless we haul ass..."

"Scully, didn't I promise to call for an intervention the day I heard you use the phrase 'haul ass'?" Scully smiled at him and leaned up to kiss him on the cheek.

"Now let's go," she said, and he acquiesced, pulling down his jeans.

When he had gotten his boxers off, she slipped them on. They were too large and were slipping down her legs, so she had to pin them on. When she was finished with getting his clothing to stay on, she ran to the door, him right on her trail with her purse and keys.

They were nearing the interstate off which the field was situated when Mulder finally asked her what in the hell they were doing.

"Mulder! How could you not see!" Mulder simply stared blankly at her. She sighed. "They weren't looking in the right direction," she said. With her pointer finger, she pointed to the floor of the car. He thought a moment and then laughed.

"God, we're so stupid! Of course!" Scully nodded, smiling.

They reached the field and Scully simply steered the car right off the road, cutting through the other direction's lane.

"Scully!" he cried, but she jerked the car to a stop and jumped out, him following her.

"Where's my weapon?! My flashlight?" she asked, and he handed her the items. Hooking her gun in his belt, she turned the flashlight on and scanned the field. There was nothing, just grass.

"Okay, lets split up," she told him. "You go that way, I'll go this way. I love you," and she was off running. Mulder took off in the opposite direction.

He searched everywhere, scanning with his own flashlight, but found nothing. An hour or so later, he had still found nothing, but continued running when he heard someone screaming. He turned to see Scully waving her arms and flinging her flashlight around, so he ran to her.

"Scully," he panted, and she pointed at a door on the ground. He gave her a hopeful look before leaning down and opening it. Inside was dark, but they could make out a ladder.

"Ladies first," he joked, but she took the opportunity and climbed in. She lowered herself into the opening. Mulder followed her and landed on the floor with a thump. Inside was dark, but so Scully reached her hands out to find him. She knocked something and heard an "Ow!"

"Sorry," she whispered. He flickered on his flashlight and the hallway was illuminated. It went one way, and looked long. The flashlight didn't reach the end, so Scully grabbed his hand and ran. He followed behind her, and pretty soon was out of breath.

"Scully," he said, trying to catch his breath.

"Wimp," she shot back with a smile and kissed him. "Lets go."

They reached the end of the hallway finally and saw that it turned left. Scully ran and could see the end of this one already. It dead-ended, but had a door on the right of it. They reached the door and she looked back at Mulder before yanking it open. Inside was something she hadn't expected.

It was a lab. A huge one, and by the looks of the clean white equipment, was a quarantined facility. She walked in slowly, looking at the various machines and microscopes. There were tubes of things and freezers, counters and a few doors leading off of the room. Everything was starch white. Mulder seemed bewildered and swiveled in every direction, still getting used to the light of the room after the dark hallway.

"Its...its a lab...." Scully finally stated, "some sort of...medical facility."

Mulder could simply nod like an idiot. "So, wonder what's behind door number one, Dr. Scully," he said, walking toward one. He opened it and all he saw were freezers. Frowning, he opened a second. More freezers. Scully was starting on a third, and saw a lab with more freezers in it, this time some vials and medical instruments set neatly on a counter. She sighed in frustration and opened the fourth door with Mulder.

Inside, was another hallway, this one still white. There was a window and empty infant beds, just like in a maternity ward of a hospital. The beds were empty and no one was in the room. Scully continued to run down the hallway, peering into rooms. The rooms were small with just a bed in the corner - children's beds.

They neared the end of the hallway and Scully gave a cry when she peered into one of the doors. There lay her daughter, curled up on the bed, thumb in her mouth. Scully tried to open the door, but it wouldn't budge. Rattling it, she turned to Mulder who was now right behind her. He took out his flashlight and slammed the glass window with it. The glass splintered, but didn't crack. Finally he managed to get it to break, and reached his hand inside to open the door. He yanked it open with a thrust and Scully rushed to her baby's side.

"Rachel!" she cried, throwing herself over the girl's small frame. The girl didn't budge. Confused, Scully lifted her head and looked at the girl. Mulder was behind her.

"Rachel?!?" she screamed, but the child didn't move. Quickly, Mulder reached for her wrist, yanking it up and putting his fingers over it. He fumbled trying to find the right spot for a pulse..

THE TEACHERS

"Mulder!?" Scully cried, obviously asking whether he felt anything. "MULDER!" she screamed and he silenced her. He smiled, and she searched his eyes.

"There's a pulse. She must have just passed out," he said. Scully let out a sigh she had been holding subconsciously since her daughter had disappeared. "Let's get her out of here," she said, and scooped her daughter up. She noticed that she was still wearing the pink overalls which Mulder had dressed her in, and she hugged the baby to her.

"Should we splash water on her face?" Mulder asked, and Scully shrugged as they headed down the hallway.

"Okay," she told him. He nodded and they ran into the larger facility. He ran to what looked like a sink and turned the faucet on. Mulder was about to put his hand in when he looked at what was pouring out of the nozzle.

"Oh, God!" he cried, and Scully leaned over. She gasped.

"Turn it off, Mulder!" she screamed and he turned off the faucet. He waited until the remains of the black oil which had been pouring out disappeared into the pipe, and they turned to leave the facility.

"So much for that idea," he muttered, following Scully. They exited the facility and entered the dark hallway and Mulder switched on his flashlight. As they ran, he noticed that Scully was having some trouble with Rachel.

"Scully, want me to carry her?" Scully looked up at him, then at her daughter, and reluctantly but carefully placed her in his arms. He took a moment to hug her and then continued to run.

After running for what seemed like forever, they saw the ladder. Scully sped up and so did Mulder, and she reached it and immediately climbed it. He handed Rachel to her and climbed it himself. Immediately they took off in the direction of their car and entered it finally.

Scully yanked the door open and found her keys, and pushed them into the ignition just as Mulder lowered himself and Rachel into the car. He slammed the door shut and so did she and they took off for the hotel, Mulder already dialing the paramedics.


Scully sat next to her daughter's bed, waiting for her to open her eyes. She was unconscious, the doctors had told her, probably because of the heat in the abandoned underground facility. The large bed just added to the look of Rachel's tiny body, and Scully felt a wave of emotions rush over her. Regret, pity, rage, and total love. She leaned up to sit on the edge of the bed. and kissed her forehead, then rustled her hair. She remained that way, watching her eyes through their closed lids. Just then, the door opened and she saw Mulder once again enter the room. He plopped a pair of jeans and a shirt on the bed and Scully looked at him quizzically.

"One of the nurses thought you might want a change of clothing," he told her, sitting down on the other side of the bed. "Okay," she said, reluctantly rising from the bed and heading toward the bathroom with the clothing.

When she came out, Rachel still hadn't moved. Scully prayed to God that she wouldn't be concussed much longer. All she needed was brain damage to her little girl right then.

She sat down on the bed and watched her. She realized then how her daughter had changed; most of her baby fat had disappeared and she was looking more like a little girl than a baby. Her brown hair was thicker and her bangs were impossibly long, hanging over her eyes.

And suddenly, they opened. Scully looked right at them and then smiled, and Mulder did, too. The baby was disoriented for a second, then focused on something on the ceiling before glancing down at who was sitting next to her on the bed. She looked frightened and when she saw her parents, gripped the sheets next to her and whispered their names.

"Mommy Daddy," she said, a tear rolling down her cheek. Scully leaned forward to pull the child into her arms. She let her cry and soon lay down next to her, sheltering her. Mulder sat down near her on the other side, brushing the hair out of her eyes. Feeling better to have her two parents, the only people in her life she'd ever known, right beside her, she stopped crying but instead became hiccuppy and sniffling. Scully kissed her face and Mulder her hand, and she sighed.

"Scared," she told them, and Scully almost cried with relief that there was probably no brain damage.

"Shh....its okay, sweetie," Mulder said. The little girl seemed to relax and closed her eyes.

"Sleepy," she said, and Mulder nodded.

"Go back to sleep, munchkin," Mulder told her, and Scully rested her head next to her daughter's. In turn, Mulder lay down next to them and lay his head down. They all fell into a much-needed sleep.

Skinner stood at the window and watched them, suddenly feeling extremely guilty for calling the shots. He knew Mulder's quest essentially had to do with his family or lack thereof and now that he had found one it was being corrupted again, not to mention split. The forces that be had given orders to split them up after they found out about the two, and it was the hardest thing Skinner had ever had to do in his job.


Rachel went home with her parents five days later. The drive to DC was uneventful, sparing the child's "old self" back. She talked more often and even told her parents about what had happened. As it turned out, she remembered Ducky and Mr. Bear and then a light...a figure. And then nothing. Neither Mulder nor Scully pushed her, simply content to have her with them again. She seemed just as happy and laughed and clapped her hands often.

The first time she stepped into the apartment, Rachel's eyes widened. She ran to her mother and tugged on her clothing, not able to speak the words "up". Scully scooped her up and hugged her closer when she saw the baby's bottom lip quiver.

"Shhh..shhh...its okay, Mommy's here..." was all she could offer her daughter who, to Scully's delight, seemed contented with it. Her sobs eventually stopped and Scully walked to her bedroom. She didn't cry when they entered it, but instead ran to the bed and grabbed Mr. Bear. She threw him into the corner of the room, her parents watching from the doorway.

"Bath?" she asked them, and Scully smiled, nodding. Mulder seemed to get the picture and walked into the bathroom, drawing water and bubbles for her as Scully got her undressed.

When all that was finished, Scully plopped her into the tub and took out Ducky. Rachel was having a hell of a time splashing the bubbles when the duck appeared, and she promptly screamed and shot up. She ran out of the tub and past the living room. She had no idea where she was going, and when she ended up in her mother's room, she screamed more and started hitting things. She hit pillows and clothing and even herself.

Mulder was the first to get to her and grabbed her tiny hysterical body. She stopped fighting his grasp and collapsed into his arms, sobbing. Scully was now leaning down beside her and kissing her face. She barely moved as Mulder stood up with her stretched out in his arms. Scully dressed her in her pajamas and they tucked her into her own bed in her room. She finally opened her stained eyes and looked at her parents. She closed them again and turned over, burying her face in her pillows. Mulder gave Scully a questioning look and she shrugged.

"Baby, we'll be right outside for a minute, okay?" the girl turned her head to watch her mother, and nodded.

Scully and Mulder stepped out of the room and Scully started. "Mulder, we need help...she has been emotionally wounded and we need to get real help. You know I hate shrinks, but there's a friend of a friend..."

"I think your right, Scully," he replied, surprising her.

"Okay...in the meanwhile, shouldn't she sleep with us?"

"I think so, but she won't go near your room. And frankly, I'm rather reluctant to-"

"I know, Mulder, I know. Why don't we sleep on the couch bed tonight and go to see someone tomorrow. We may have to move..." she trailed off.

"Whatever it takes," Mulder said, and they walked back into the room. They were happy to see that Rachel had gotten up to get a book and was now reading it. It was one she hadn't seen before, as her parents recalled, but was scanning the pages and turning them. She looked incredibly silly because the book was hardcover and she could barely keep it up.

"Whatcha reading?" Scully asked quietly and sat down on the bed, Mulder following her.

"Somethin I found in yer roo' before," she said. " 'Moby Dick'." Scully's eyes widened and Mulder grabbed the book.

"What?" he asked, confused.

"Wan' me to read it?" she asked, grabbing the book back and began reading out loud to them. Scully gasped and laughed.

"How do you know how to read?" she asked.

"I....They taught me......." she said slowly. Mulder and Scully both turned dead white. What else had they done to her?

ALLEGRO

"Mownin'." Rachel was leaning up on one elbow, watching her mother as her eyes slowly opened. Scully was on her stomach, and looked up at her daughter who watched her intently. Scully smiled and groaned as she pulled herself up onto one elbow to face her.

"Mownin'," Scully said, mimicking her daughter's speech pattern. Rachel giggled and leaned up to kiss her on the cheek.

"Howdya sleep?" Rachel asked her mother as her mother often asked her.

Scully smiled and shrugged.

"Okay...how 'bout you? How'd you sleep?" Rachel looked down at the sheets.

"Sweetie?" Scully asked, a concern expression searing her face.

The girl shrugged and said quietly, "Nightmares." Scully brushed some of her long bangs out of her eyes and tilted her face up. The child met her eyes and they locked, before Scully crushed her small body to her own. Which was when Mulder woke up.

He was faced away from them, and took a minute to adjust to his surroundings before turning to face his daughter and Scully. When he did so, he was surprised to see Scully holding her.

"What's the matter?" he whispered over the child's shoulder, and Scully gave a small smile before mouthing "Nightmares." He nodded and placed a hand on her back. The girl turned and seeing her father awake, smiled through her wet eyes. She hadn't cried like she usually did, for pain or being sad. These tears were just from trying to keep the memories from coming back to her at times when she tried to forget.

"Rachel...you want to keep the memories and nightmares away, don't you?" he asked. She nodded, a single, crystal tear running down her cheek. "We will help you, munchkin," he whispered, and she nodded, feeling better.

After sniffling a bit, she sat up and rubbed her sticky eyes. Little bits of Rachel stuck out here and there as she plopped off the bed and waddled slowly, making her way to the kitchen.

"Jenifaw..." she said, pointing to the telephone. "Misser Skinna..." she mumbled, opening the cupboard, looking for her cereal.

Scully smiled and looked over at Mulder who looked confused. Scully shrugged and leaned closer for a kiss. After getting what she had wanted, she whispered: "Baby talk," against his lips and shot up in the bed, walking briskly to where Rachel was fumbling with the cereal carton.

She lifted the baby into the air and she promptly giggled as Scully swung her even higher above her head. The girl looked down at her mother between giggles and tried not to lose it as Mulder came up behind them, wrapping his arms around her mother and then reaching up to tickle Rachel's ribs. Her t-shirt had slipped almost all the way up, leaving her skinny stomach and laughing diaphragm, not to mention diaper.

When she started to squirm a lot, Scully set her on the counter and promptly began playing with the girl's ungodly hair, while Mulder busied himself with picking up the cereal box and placing it on the counter.

"Anyone for.....coco puffs?! Dear God, Scully, didn't know you let your child eat.." he turned the box over to the ingredients and said aloud "niacinamide? pyridoxine hydrochloride? fol-" Scully grabbed the box as Rachel's face turned greener. Scully laughed and kissed her before walking over to the fridge. She looked inside and cringed.

"Well, we haven't gotten anything new since before..." she trailed off as the room became silent and Mulder spoke up.

"So, we'll just have to wait to go out to lunch." Scully smiled at him and Rachel clapped her hands together.

"Yay!" she cried, and jumped off the counter, eliciting widened eyes from her mother as she bolted out of the room to her own.

Mulder shrugged and walked up to Scully, wrapping his arms around her silk clad body. She was wearing her usual creme colored silk nightgown...but it made Mulder crazy with the spaghetti straps and hem line at less-than-middle thigh. She continually told him that she wore it because it was comfortable, but he was almost positive she wore it to drive him insane. She smelled of strawberry shampoo still, and Mulder buried his face in her hair.

"Everything's back to normal..." he whispered to her and she sighed.

"Mommy Daddy!" a cry interrupted them and Mulder, who had his back to it, turned to see Rachel with her hands on her hips. She cleared her throat and Mulder looked at her, defeated.

"What can I say?" he asked her. "Shes too beautiful to keep my hands off of..." he trailed off, scooping up Scully into his arms. Rachel giggled and clapped her hands as he carried her mother with ease towards the bedroom. Seeing where they were headed, she stopped dead in her tracks and started to cry silently.

Noticing that she wasn't following them, Mulder set Scully down and they both rushed to her and she stopped.

"Sorry..." she told them and they shushed her.

"Shhhh....shhhhh...you don't have to be sorry, sweetheart," Scully said and Rachel nodded. She simply turned away from them and climbed up onto the couch-bed, laying her small body down on the sheets and hugging the blankets to her. Mulder looked completely miserable as they stood up and Scully leaned up to whisper to him.

"Mulder, I think we need to talk about this. This isn't healthy...should we move? Why don't we go see that therapist today after all. If that doesn't work...well, we can always try...regression hypnosis." Mulder's jaw dropped. "I know, I know, but for me I felt it really helped to get the memories surfaced. I would hate to subject my own baby to that but I really think it might work for Rachel." Mulder nodded.

"So, should I call the therapist?" he asked, and Scully nodded, walking to her desk to retrieve the card.


"Well, Ms. Scully, your daughter seems to be just fine. When asked about her kidnapping, she simply said that she was taken and shrugged. It doesn't seem to bother her anymore, whatever happened," the therapist assured them. Scully simply stared at the woman, wide-eyed.

"What do you *mean* there is nothing wrong with her? She won't enter my bedroom and screams every time I take her rubber ducky out!" Scully cried.

"Ms. Scully, please calm down. Now, I think that the rubber ducky may have come from something else, some other time...." Scully shook her head. "Tell me then, Ms. Scully, how does a rubber ducky have to do with a kidnapping?" the woman asked.

"I don't know - that's *your* job!" Scully cried, and Mulder, who was sitting next to her, put a hand over hers. She nodded and tried to control her breathing.

"Ms. Scully, I'm sorry, but I really cannot help you if your daughter is fine."

"What about regression hypnosis?" Mulder asked her suddenly. She looked oddly at him and shrugged.

"Well, from what I've seen, it doesn't even work. Do what you wish, though. I don't think bringing back the memories will effect her negatively, seeing as she barely cares about them now," the therapist said, watching Rachel play on the floor. Scully gave her a death glare before standing up and straightening her skirt out.

"Thank you," Mulder said as Scully reached for her daughter's hand to walk out.

Rachel stood up and walked to her mother and took her hand, looking up with admiration. She loved how her mother talked, walked, dressed, and especially smelled. She had that wonderful smell that was just and only mommy, as her fingers intertwined with Rachel's. Rachel smiled and continued to waddle alongside her mother, only glancing back at daddy once before continuing on. They were happier now, since she came home, and they laughed more. She wondered why they went to the office, and why Mommy seemed upset at the lady. Mommy never yelled; she always had that attitude that was "mommy-like". Calm, laid back, controlled.

They left the building and Mulder buckled Rachel into her car seat. The child watched him as he fumbled with the buckles, and he looked up at her in defeat. With a yank he was able to get the buckle fastened and he sighed. Rachel smiled at him; a silly, almost goofy smile that she always got when she felt he was making something incredibly easy seem hard. But then again, that was the attitude that was "daddy-like". Mulder kissed her cheek and closed the door. Climbing into his, Scully shook her head and sighed and Rachel giggled.

"What?" he asked, a confused but amused expression on his face. Scully glanced back at Rachel in the rear view mirror and saw that her daughter was looking back at her, trying to stifle her laughs. Simultaneously, they burst into a fit of laughs and giggles, confusing Mulder even more. There was really no reason that they were laughing; well, okay, so there was one.

"All men aw morons bu' not all morons aw men," Rachel said between giggles and her mother began to crack up even more.

"Hey!" Mulder said, but he was laughing, too.


Mulder came back from the food store and opened the door to Scully's apartment. He could hear music coming from somewhere inside - a piano. He wondered if Scully had gotten a new CD.

He walked into the apartment cautiously, and looked around before heading to the kitchen. Setting the bag which contained their dinner on the table, he made his way slowly to the direction from which the music was spewing. He recognized it as Bach; one of the Brandenburg Concertos that he loved. #2 allegro. The one that was sent into space on the Voyager...but why did Scully have it? And since when did Rachel have a sound system in her room. He poked his head in and took in the situation. After a moment, he gulped.

Rachel was seated at her desk, an electric keyboard on top of it, and Scully was standing next to her. She was playing the music with ease, and he watched her tiny fingers glide across the keyboard. She turned to look at him, but didn't stop. She reminded him of a secretary, looking to see who just entered the office without even stopping her typing.

Rachel smiled and cried, "Daddy!", still playing. He had to say - it was one of his favorite pieces but he was sure he had never been so disturbed to hear it.

"Scully?" Mulder asked, looking at her. Scully looked up at him, a frightened look on her face.

"She doesn't know how she learned it," she told him, and he simply stared at her.

WHAT NOW?


Four Months Later

"Rachel starts her first day of preschool tomorrow," Scully said, sitting down on the couch.

"Oh wow - tomorrow?!" Mulder said, looking concerned.

"Yeah, tomorrow. Why, too soon?" Scully asked, and flashed him a smile.

"Well...maybe..." he trailed off and Scully rolled her eyes, groaning. "I dunno, Scully, are you sure you want her to be... alone so soon?"

"Mulder, please. Shes not alone - the teachers are there, not to mention other children. And she needs that, Mulder. She needs playmates other than you and I. And *I* need to go back to work. I am almost bankrupt, you know." She paused, and the room got quiet. "And its been nearly five months since her abduction." Mulder sighed, and leaned back into the couch.

"Still...I feel uneasy about this, Scully, even though its not my decision to make." Scully frowned at him.

"What makes you think its not your decision?" she asked, puzzled. He looked at her, equally puzzled.

"I'm not her legal guardian, Scully. You are."

Scully simply sighed, and leaned against his shoulder. "You're her *father* though, which makes you just as important in my mind. And hers." Scully looked up at him, and he smiled.

"Marry me." Scully sighed, and closed her eyes.

"I know, I know. I want to, I do, but I can't. Not now...too soon. We have the recuperation of the X-Files to think about," she told him, and looked up hopefully. He seemed content with that and pulled her closer.

"Scully, we may not get the X-Files back. And we have to be prepared to face that. We may never be able to work together again." Scully shook her head, holding back the tears to no avail. A single, crystalline tear rolled down her cheek, then another. Soon she was shaking, her face buried in his chest.

"Scully...don't cry. You scare me when you cry - you know that."

Scully gave a small, nervous laugh into his t-shirt as he stroked her hair. "We have other things to focus on now. Come on, its okay, you're okay. Lets talk about this when we both are less tired and stressed, okay?" He felt a nod on his skin so he pulled her back slightly to look into her eyes.

Placing a loving kiss on her forehead, she sniffled and sighed, giving way to the soft plush of the couch. He draped an arm over the top, hand dropping just at her temple farthest from him, and he began to play with her hair. She closed her eyes and opened them again, keeping them shut long enough to let him know that she was exhausted.

"Lets go to bed, okay?" she nodded silently and he stood, reaching for her hand.


"No!" Rachel screamed as Mulder opened the door to the car. Rachel sat in her car seat, her arms folded across her chest, shaking her head.

"Rachel, sweetie, please. Its just school! You'll get to play with the other kids and --"

"No, Daddy. I don' wan' schoo'." She looked him sternly in the eye.

"Come on, Rache. Its only for a little while. And school is fun. You get to play with the toys and find some new co-conspirators to commune with. Come on, sweetie. We'll come and get you at the end of the day and you can tell us all about it," Scully tried, sitting next to her. But the baby wouldn't cooperate. Scully was worried - she had never been like this before.

"No. I won' go!" she said as Scully began to unbuckle her car seat. "Mommy!! Wan stay in tha car! I go to work with you an' Daddy. I be good, please. Mommy no!" she said as Scully pulled her out of the seat. The girl clasped her arm around Scully's neck and buried her head in her neck, the tears falling silently. Scully glanced at Mulder.

"Rachel, come on. You're a big girl. You can handle this - it's only school."

But Rachel simply shook her head at Mulder's words. "Not yet...I go t'morrw. Not now, Mommy Daddy. I go t'morrw..." she said, the sobs wracking her small body. Scully sighed.

"No, you won't. Rachel, you will go today. Now there are two ways to do this: 1.) we drag you in kicking and screaming like a bad girl, or 2.) we can go in quietly and stay until you feel better and play with the other kids. Which will it be?" Rachel shook her head, but Scully pulled her back to look at her in the eye. Rachel nodded and wiped her eyes. Scully smiled at her and brushed some hair out of her eyes.

They both climbed out of the car and Rachel straightened her shirt with her tiny hands as Scully reached for one of them. She hooked her hand into Scully's and the other in Mulder's and they made their way to the building. When they reached the front door, Scully turned to look at Rachel as the child stopped dead in her tracks. Scully tacitly admonished her and reluctantly she took another step toward the door as Scully opened it.

Inside the long hallway stretched out and Rachel gulped. She looked up at Mulder for reassurance and he gave her a half smile. The three walked down the hallway and reached her door, opening it. Rachel shrunk back as they opened it and walked in. Inside, about ten other kids were playing on the floor with toys. There were five small tables and the tiniest chairs Mulder had ever seen were tucked into them. There was a door leading outside to the playground and cubbies lined one wall. On the other end was an aquarium with goldfish and frogs and Rachel looked up at Scully this time as a teacher approached them.

"Hello," she said, looking them over. "Is this Rachel?" she asked Scully, leaning down to look at her. She smiled warmly at the child and Rachel looked uneasily back at her, as though she would bite.

"Shes uhm...shy," Scully told her and the woman nodded, standing up.

"And she really doesn't want to be here," Mulder popped in. The woman nodded, and sighed.

"They were all like that on the first day," she told them, still looking at Rachel. "She'll be okay once she gets more acquainted with the rest of them," the teacher added reassuringly. Scully nodded, crouching down next to her daughter.

"You want us to stay a little while?" she asked her, and to her surprise, Rachel shook her head.

"Go to work wit' Daddy," she told her quietly, "I be okay." Scully nodded and kissed her forehead.

"Mommy loves you," she told her and Rachel nodded. Mulder leaned down next to Scully.

"We'll be back before you know it, Rache. Be brave," he told her, kissing her as well, and they both stood and walked toward the door. Rachel waved to them as they turned in the doorway, they waved back and left.

Walking down the hallway, Scully sighed.

"I know," Mulder said sadly, "this is probably just as hard on us. But this place looks safe, Scully. We chose well - she'll be fine."

Scully nodded. "Still...I don't want to leave her, Mulder. And I know that I am acting more her age then mine about this, but I hate doing this. What if...what if they come and...and kidnap her and other children get hurt in the process as well?! Or what if --" Scully was interrupted on the brink of tears.

"Scully...do you have any idea of how many people die of worrying about 'what if's?" Scully shook her head. "Too many. It *will* kill you, Scully. Now either we can be strong, or query thousands of what ifs."

"But I don't know how to be calm, Mulder. I've spent the better of six years worrying about one crisis or another. And now that I have a little girl who needs me as much as I need her...I'm afraid. Every minute, Mulder. Its killing me, I know, but I can't stop it. Can't stop them. They'll take her away again if I'm weak, I know it, and then we may never be able to stop them."

"Scully."

"Yes?"

"I'm sorry. I know how - I worry too, Scully. About you. About Rachel. My mother - well I used to at least..." he trailed off, biting back tears.

"Mulder, what can we do?"

"Leave. The only way to keep these people away from us is to let it go - to leave."

"I can't do that, Mulder."

"I know."

"So what now? We can't leave. We'll never be normal again. What do we do?"

"Simple. We fight."

THE END. (<o>.*.<o>)


Epilogue

Scully pulled into the parking space of the small day care center which her daughter attended as of this morning. The moon was high in the sky which meant that she was late, and that she would probably get a temper tantrum from her three-year-old.

She turned off the ignition and opened the door of her car, stepping out into the night. She could see the lights of the school on in a few rooms, illuminating desks and mobiles hanging from the ceiling. Various posters and art were hung in each room, a chalkboard with leftover lessons of that day scratched into the surface.

Scully walked toward the door and opened it. She stepped in and the hallway folded out before her, doors lining each side. Her heels clicked slowly as she made her way to Rachel's room, and peered in through the small round window. Three children sat in the room, and she recognized one of them as her daughter.

Scully opened the door and stepped in, three heads immediately popping up. The teacher sat at one of the small tables, staring at paper. Rachel immediately stood up from her position at the easel and ran toward Scully, wrapping her chubby arms around her mother's legs. Scully leaned down and hugged her, kissing her on the cheek. Scully rose, Rachel hooked in her arms, and walked toward the teacher who was motioning for Scully.

"Ms. Scully," she said quietly, a disturbed and concerned look in her eyes.

"Is something wrong?" Scully said out of instinct, and the teacher looked down.

"Well...no, not really. I mean, that depends on how you look at it." Scully looked cautiously at her. "Rachel...she's a very bright child, Ms. Scully. Uhm...today, she painted. A lot. Some of the things she came up with were just like regular baby's finger-paints. And some were...well, you take a look," she said, handing Scully the sheets of paper she had been studying.

Scully took hold of them and turned the top one over to see the painting. Her eyes immediately widened.

The painting was a picture of Scully's room, illuminated in light. There was the outline of a person in the light; or not a person - she couldn't distinguish features, just the profile. The painting looked almost professionally done...almost like a photograph....

Scully turned to look at the child in her hands. Rachel turned her head to look at the picture, then at her mother. Their eyes locked and Scully suddenly wondered what else her daughter had seen.

THE END

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