Title: Thicker Than Water
Author: jrw
Feedback: yes, please! jrw@aracnet.com
Classification: Colonization, pregnancy, Mulder Torture, Scully Angst
Rating: PG for language and ickies.
Spoilers: Everything through Requiem
Archive: Please do, just let me know where. Ephemeral, Gossamer and Spookys--yes!!!!!!
Disclaimer These characters do not belong to me. The sfnal gimmicks do, however or at least to the extent that they are my creation and diverge from classic sf cyberpunk elements. Many thanks to all those great writers out there, especially Lois McMaster Bujold and C.J. Cherryh, who are referenced but not *used* in Part Two. I recommend their works very highly!

Summary: "The Ties That Bind" sequel. Ask yourself: *why* do the aliens want Mulder and *why* do they want to colonize the Earth?

Author's notes at the end of part 7, with the exception of a few notes in Part Two, when I start playing with literary references. Have patience, it only happens once.

Composed to Mozart's "Requiem Mass."


One.

By now the aliens were used to him walking freely around the ship's corridors. He'd learned the game; figured out what they wanted and why. Now it was simply a case of waiting for an opening. Until then, he kept his feelings screwed down tight, curbed his natural rebelliousness, and to all appearances had accepted his fate. Thanks to that he had the run of the ship, within clearly specified limits.

Thanks to that they'd gotten careless around him and he'd heard things he shouldn't.

*Scully. I've got to warn Scully.*

Thinking about her kept him sane, especially those days when they threw in cruises on the Vomit Express, demanding more and more of him until he couldn't keep up and the simulator fried him. *Too old for this...* he froze and slipped into a doorway as hyperalert senses warned him of someone approaching down the intersecting corridor.

He relaxed as one of the lesser Grays walked by. The Bounty Hunter was the one to avoid right now. They'd have a session once he was done with this--unavoidable--but all he wanted was one minute with a communicator. 60 seconds. Open band broadcast. Somehow someone would hear it and get it to the Gunmen, who'd get it to Scully.

60 seconds which might mean the end of any hope of seeing her again, depending how angry his current masters would be with him afterwards.

But the other option was full collaboration, and he couldn't face her after that. Hell, he'd expect her to shoot him down and wouldn't blame her. The best he could hope for was that they wouldn't kill him outright, that he was too damned valuable to the Project, would keep him alive until the latest pilot screwed up.

All clear. He moved slowly into the intersecting corridor and looked both ways. This would have been simpler with the wireset but that was a dead giveaway that he was doing more than his usual restless prowling. Satisfied that all was clear, he crossed the corridor and pushed up against the force field. It resisted, as he expected, and he closed his eyes, using his mind to push *there* and *there*, as he'd been taught.

The field flickered enough for him to slip through. He took off running, knowing his time was limited, by now alarms would be ringing and the search would be on. Five seconds to reach this

point, ten to the next. At last he reached his goal, skidded into the chair. Tweaked the second force field, accessed the comm used for the collaborators, reset the parameters for broadband. Krycek and Marita would still hear this--no such luck for cutting them out, he'd not had enough experience with these controls.

Ten precious seconds gone fiddling with controls. "This is FBI Special Agent Fox Mulder. To whoever hears this, please pass the information to FBI Special Agent Dana K. Scully, in Washington D.C.--"

his voice broke and he cursed himself for it--no time for weakness now. "Scully. Colonization is imminent. Timetable is six months--"

he could hear them coming for him now, damn it, not enough time to say it all! "--from my disappearance. Get the hell--" The Bounty Hunter was *there,* plugging into all his wireset receptor sites, jamming him with feedback and the cold fire burned up and down his body, but he struggled, fighting for just one or two more words, just enough for him to scream "Scully, loov--SCULLEEE!" before the feedback maxed out and he could do no more than scream inarticulately until the world turned black around him and he fell into blessed, blessed unconsciousness.


Two.

It was one of the bad days.

There were the good days when the only thing which kept her awake at night was the baby party as he kicked and squirmed through baby basketball games no question this kid was healthy. She'd give up on sleep and read. She'd just discovered the Vorkosigan series by Lois McMaster Bujold and while reading about Miles Vorkosigan reminded her far too much of Mulder it was still tolerable. Although she wanted to see more of Cordelia Naismith Vorkosigan than the books showed....and those days she was a normal six and a half months pregnant woman and could almost pretend that Mulder was somewhere else in the Hoover Building, and would come bopping into their office any minute. Those days it was easy to lay down on the cot Skinner'd brought in for her and take a quick half hour nap in the afternoons, unworried and able to unwind.

Then there were the bad nights when she woke screaming, baby ominously quiet, long-suppressed memories from her own abduction coming to the fore. Those nights she grimly reached for C.J. Cherryh's Union/Alliance novels. Those days she kept to herself in the basement, snarling at the New Partner and generally adding to the Scullybitch reputation. Silly things reminded her of Mulder, provoking unwanted tears, and she ended up throwing pencils at the ceiling, afraid to nap because someone--Krycek, Marita, some shadow from their past would sneak up on her and do something. What, she didn't know. But she didn't want to deal with the shadows which would come streaming past her brain if she lay down and slept.

Last night had been a *Cyteen* night. She wanted Ariane Emory's ruthlessness.

Now she lay back, head resting on Mulder's desk now hers, feet propped up, doggedly trying to get pencils to stick in the ceiling. She'd sent the New Partner--she refused to think of him by name--off on a wild goose chase in Florida, gathering information on some garbled sighting of an unknown monster spotted by a prominent racehorse jockey lost in the Everglades with his favorite mount during a series of nasty fires. She had no doubt he'd goof it up as he had so many times before. Just as after her explosion at Skinner and Kersh this morning she had no doubts that no one would bother her today.

Then she heard footsteps. She sighed and hurled another pencil at the ceiling, only to have it fall like so many other of her attempts. *How in hell did Mulder do it?* She bit her lip and kept staring at the ceiling, hoping whoever it was would go away.

The person cleared his throat, obviously wanting her attention. Damn.

"Nobody down here but the FBI's most unwanted," she growled, throat tightening at the memory of Mulder's first words to her. "I'm not receiving right now," she added harshly.

"Uh Dana?" her brother Bill said, tentatively. Like everyone else, he'd learned to tread carefully around her these days. "I--uh--I have something for you."

She sat up carefully. "Bill! I'm sorry, it's been--"

He held up his hand to stop her, frowning "I know. You look like hell today. Another one of those nights?"

She nodded. Before he'd gone back to San Diego after his extended Pentagon assignment dealing with the Bellefleur incident she'd told him about her fears. About the memories coming back. "A bad one," she said. "I'm starting to see him there in my dreams."

Bill took a deep breath. "Maybe I shouldn't--oh hell, I don't dare not. I've got something to run by your experts. Don't want to get your hopes up until we know it's authentic, but Danie, I think he's still alive. And nearby. We picked up a transmission and I've got it on tape."

She got up. "Let's go."


She clenched her hands tightly, waiting. Bill wouldn't let her hear it until the Gunmen authenticated the tape. "Too grim. No need for you to hear it if it's a fake."

The Gunmen clustered around the monitor, headphones on at Bill's insistence. From the sick look on Frohike's face she knew it was bad, bad, bad. At last he pulled his headphone off. "It's for real."

"I want to hear it. Now." The Gunmen looked at each other, then at Bill. "Dammit, stop being so damned protective! If it's Mulder I want to hear it. *Now!*"

Before it started Bill put one hand on her shoulder.

Mulder's voice caught her by surprise, and she swallowed hard to choke back tears. She had to close her eyes tight and scrinch her hands into fists as the transmission ended in a long, agonized scream worse than the screaming he'd done in the locked room at Georgetown Memorial before she went off to Africa. *It's as bad as I've been dreaming.

Worse.* She drew a deep breath, fighting for control. *No time to be weak now, Dana.* Bill's hand tightened on her shoulder and she was glad for his presence.

At last she dared speak. "Can you trace it?"

"I had my guys try," Bill said. "No luck. It was by the sheerest dumb luck they picked it up, we were headed north, up along the 45th parallel when it came in and I happened to be in the radio

room....pulled some strings and got the Coast Guard to lift me off, so I could get back here."

45th parallel. Oregon. Could it be?

"What do we do about it?" she asked them. "We've got less than a month if what he says is correct." Damn, she'd give anything for a real life uterine replicator right now! Anything to free her from the weight and worry of pregnancy, too much to do and not

enough time, especially since she had to take care of herself for the baby's sake. "If he's anywhere near the 45th parallel, then maybe we need to be looking around Bellefleur again for Mulder...." Her voice trailed off as she took another deep breath. "We also need to get the word out about colonization. Without panicking people. We don't have a vaccine yet but if we can start dispersing people, get the word out discreetly...."

"It would help if we could shoot the damned things down," Bill said grimly.

"That's the military's job," she said. "You and Charlie can figure that one out. If we can find Mulder , maybe he can tell us more."

She reached for her cell phone. "I'm off to Oregon. Anyone coming with me?"

As she expected, they all argued that she shouldn't go.

In the end, just as she also expected, she won the argument and got Byers as a traveling companion, with a promise that he would do his best to get Suzanne to meet them in Portland.


Three.

He had no more voice to scream, and yet he did, forcing air past vocal cords long gone raw. He hung twisting in the bright light as it burned deep into his closed eyes, the cold fire blazing up and down the length of his naked body, burning deep into his brain. Pain. He was a world of pain and there was nothing left to him but pain, every one of his neural receptors plugged into an eternal feedback of agony.

One small, faint image remained to him of something outside the bright light. He had flashes of a small red-haired woman who stroked his brow, bringing him momentary relief from the pain. Then it closed in around him again.

*Scully,* his lips formed. *Scully.*

Beyond all hope, beyond all reason, beyond all possibility, he still dreamed of getting back to her.


Eventually it ended. He knew it would, and both eagerly anticipated and greatly feared it. They took him down and swiftly, skillfully doctored him up. He now knew they could have chosen to do the same thing for Scully when they'd released her, but they hadn't wanted her to survive or remember what had happened to her if she did. How little they understood her fierce will.

Two Bounty Hunters flanked him as he rose, followed their directions down the corridors. He caught brief glimpses of the others, their purposes different than his, there to try to replicate what they'd made in him but having to resort to yet another breeding program.

He hoped they were headed for the simulators. The alternative--and the only real probability for the end of his punishment--meant the end of any options other than death.

*No.* he told himself. *There will be another option. Scully will find a way. I'll find a way. Somehow. Some way. It's not inevitable.*

They stopped at the door he'd feared, the door he'd never walked through but he knew awaited him at some point.

Another pilot had failed.

It was his turn.


The ship fitting process reminded him of the visions he'd had while undergoing the botched surgery in CGB Spender's attempt to acquire his abilities. The memory brought a quick smile. Cancerman would never have lasted the first stages of training, much less survived this. He never understood what the reality of the gift was, or why the aliens sought these abilities with such desperation. Hell, for that matter he didn't fully understand himself why humans with certain abilities were such prized pilots, or why the aliens hadn't been straightforward about recruiting. Strike that. He knew why. Damn few people would volunteer to do this. Given a choice he'd run screaming in the other direction.

Not that it mattered--now. His doom was sealed with each careful fitting, the measurements and details as fine as if he were getting an expensive bespoke suit from a Seville Row tailor. Bit by bit, piece by piece, he felt the new ship becoming part of him, self-replicating, self-maintaining, a part of his body. It reminded him of building the ship out of sand with the blond-haired boy child of his dreams.

If only he could figure out who or what the child was. Who was here, now, and somehow he sensed that the child was not supposed to be a part of the process. It looked up at him now, with blue eyes and blond brows so like Scully's that he gulped, looking closer to make sure it wasn't Scully somehow. The child smiled. Slowly waved a hand, pressing here, and here to reveal a whole set of circuits he'd not known about.

*You'll remember this when the time is right* the voice, so like and unlike Scully's that it hurt. *Remember! Everything depends on this!* Then it was gone.

And they were finished with him.

He spread his arms and glided free, no longer Mulder but a fledgling liveship.

Unless he could find some means of escape.


Four.

Her entourage thundered along behind as Dana climbed the hill toward the place Mulder had last been seen. Despite the weight of the child inside her she climbed faster than the others, her center of balance actually better for hill climbing than when not pregnant.

*Working out pays off.* She topped the rise and stopped for the others. Bill, Byers, Suzanne and her mother trailed along behind. It could have been worse. Skinner had wanted to trail along, and had threatened to send the New Partner as well. It'd taken two weeks to get the procession together, far too long in her opinion.

"How much further?" Bill asked as he reached her.

"Not far." She turned and walked along, remembering *this* as the log where she'd first felt lightheaded, and *that* as the place where she'd been briefly taken, then rejected...she should not have brought so many others along....what if They weren't done here? Tara would never forgive her if something happened to Bill, and if Mom disappeared....and Byers and Suzanne had as many troubles as she and Mulder did.

*It's going to be okay,* she told herself. *It's going to be fine.* "This is it," she said finally, stopping and looking around, remembering when Skinner brought her back to show her what happened. "That's the place Skinner last saw him." She pointed, then walked over, pausing to kneel and look for the ashes she'd seen her first time here, such an eternity ago.

Nothing. Not a stir. No sign, no hint that five months ago Fox Mulder had disappeared into thin air on this site. She closed her eyes, praying softly, wishing for that oh so occasional link she'd felt with him before he was taken, the occasional tie which kept them in sync and made them a team. Nothing.

*Wild goose chase.* She sighed and turned to Suzanne and Byers, who were fiddling with some esoteric electronic equipment--to what end, she didn't know. *Mulder, please--* The back of her neck tingled, her chip suddenly starting to feel warm.

She reached back, absurdly afraid suddenly that she would find a festering sore there, inflammation, infection, rejection.....

And then it struck her, almost sending her staggering to her knees. A wave of emotion crashed over her, indescribable loss, longing, pain, miss you, miss you, miss you and it was somehow Mulder but not Mulder...She turned away from the others, raising her arms to him. He wasn't there, and yet he *was.* She couldn't see him with her eyes but if she closed her eyes she could feel him *there*, so close she could almost take him into her arms, kiss away his pain and agony--*oh God, Mulder, what have they done to you?* A ghostly hand brushed her cheek, then her belly and she knew the question. Half laughing, half crying, she told him. *Ours. A miracle. You and I made this. No additions, corrections or deletions. A boy. Our son.*

Happiness, followed by sorrow. Not knowing if he'd have a chance to know their son.

*Maybe if I joined you--*

NO! Not for him, not for her, not for anyone else! She recoiled at the intensity of his reaction and he pulled back, tempering it. Time was short. There was a faint chance--a very faint chance things could change. A faint pleading. If she could stay near here--not for long, a few days, perhaps--one way or the other-- Then the contact broke off, abruptly.

She became aware that Byers was waving some sort of sensor around her face, reading off data to Suzanne. Bill was shaking her arm, and her mother stared at her.

"Dana, what the hell's going on?" Bill demanded.

She suddenly felt tired and sank to the ground. "I don't know," she said tiredly. "What happened?"

"You stood there with your arms lifted for fifteen minutes," her mother said. "Staring at the sky. You didn't hear anything we said to you, didn't see anything--Dana, what was it?"

"Whatever it was, it generated one hell of an energy field while you were doing it," Byers said. "I haven't seen anything quite like it."

"So what was it?" Bill asked.

She half-smiled, then shook her head. "I'm not sure." She sighed.

"But--I think I just talked to Mulder."


Five.

Her chip worked. He had the key to it. She could answer him.

If he could have leapt and danced for joy, he would now. That damnable, damnable chip had turned out to have a use after all, besides cancer treatment. Now he just had to make sure that no one else could access her--easily enough done. It surprised him that no one else had thought of the ways to sabotage the entire operation--unless, of course, they had tried and failed, in which case his efforts were for naught.

He thought not. If what he now knew about the breeding program was true, they hadn't gotten humans to this point until recently--which oh God made him fear for his child. Scully's child. *Their* child. He wasn't the key to it, Scully wasn't, not even Samantha had been, although at one point they'd thought it possible--but the unborn child within Scully was ripe with potential.

It couldn't happen. *He* couldn't let it happen. The time was near.


"So what the hell do you expect to have happen?" Bill demanded as they stood where she'd *felt* Mulder. "Dana, what good does it do for you to climb this hill twice a day in the past week?"

"For one, it's good exercise," she said tartly. "For another---"

her voice trailed off. Suzanne and Byers had left them, and she wished Bill would go back to Tara. But he insisted she shouldn't be left alone with just their mother, and neither of them would let her come here by herself. *Afraid something will happen to me, too--* There would be nothing here today as well. She knew it just as she had the other days, but still she felt driven to hike here. Here, where it had begun. Here, where it had ended. She wanted to have this place engraved in her mind, have every mote of damp forest dust imprinted on her brain in case that was all left to her.

At least the nightmares had stopped since she'd talked to Mulder. She'd spent the last week dreaming of a blond haired child playing in the sand with Mulder--a boy, she thought. Wishful thinking? Hard to say.

"Danie, I just wish you wouldn't push so hard."

She snorted. "This is actually a rest for me, Bill. I work much harder than this at home." The New Partner had actually managed to figure out the Florida case and put the pieces together. About time, with her approaching maternity leave. Even so, she still had to peruse the e-mails and faxes he incessantly sent her about details he'd have to learn to take care of himself.

Bill sighed. "I know, but--this isn't the best place."

"It's not going to be much longer, Bill. A few more days."

"You said that at the beginning, and it's been a week."

"Three more days and I'll go home, that's a promise, okay?"

*You hear that?* she whispered to the sky. *We've only got three more days. Do something. Anything. Please.*

The sky remained silent. She sighed and turned away.

"Let's go see what's for dinner," she said to Bill. "I don't think anything more's going to happen right now."


Fullness ripened. The final countdown started.

He detonated the seeds of trouble he had set.

Success was not complete. Enough to cripple them for a while, perhaps a generation or so...and only if they couldn't catch him to make him undo it.

Flight now was his only salvation, flight or death.


Six.

Her neck burned. Dana sat up in bed, rubbing it. It hadn't felt like this since--she caught her breath. Quietly, she snuck out of bed and dressed, careful not to wake her mother. She picked up her gun and slipped out the door.

She didn't notice Bill charging out of his room as she drove off.


Now he could understand why the other pilots crashed as he dodged and weaved his pursuers. After a while the sheer pace was too much.

Maybe the others had tried sabotage as well--in any case, death was the preferable alternative to capture. He had no desire to return to the place of light and pain.

*Remember,* the little voice, the voice of the child came to him. He grinned recklessly, and thumbed the portion of hidden circuitry, pushed all the buttons.

The sky flared bright white around him, and the noise of the others faded away.

But now he was falling, falling, with nothing to break his fall save the one remaining force field. Pieces of the ship stripped away from him, piece by piece he fell apart and became human again.

*Now I know how Icarus felt....*

*Scully--SCULLY!*

Bright whiteness then pain.....


"Damn it!" She slammed the steering wheel with the palm of her hand as the car quit. Just like it had eight years ago. Driving rain, just like it had been then.

"Damn, damn, DAMN!" She slid out, grabbing her flashlight and weapon.

Nothing for it but to hike the extra distance. If this was a wild goose chase--but she didn't think so, her neck still burned.

Within seconds she was soaked to the skin. Not that it mattered.

This was different, she knew this was different than before, just not how or why it was different. There would be something up there for her.

She was halfway up the hill when the world exploded into bright white light. She fell to her knees, and dropped the flashlight. Lost precious time fumbling for it. Recovered it and struggled up the hill. The burning in her neck was gone. She hated to think what that meant.

"Dana! Dana!" she heard Bill bellow below.

"Damn," she muttered again. No way he could hear her, even if she was inclined to answer--and explanations would take too much time. She pushed on uphill, sudden, desperate urgency giving speed to her lumbering flight, the distance seeming to be farther in the darkness, pushing on until she suddenly ran into something and fell back.

*What the hell--*

Her flashlight reflected back at her as she searched for what the hell she could have run into.

*Bingo. Jackpot.*

Trembling, she rose and reached for a stick. Pushed it forward.

It stopped. No matter how hard she pushed, there was a transparent wall there. *Just like Skinner described with the laser pointers*.....

She was suddenly colder than she would expect to be, even in a cold and wet Northwest rainforest night.

"MULDER!" she bellowed. "MULDER!"

A groan. From *behind* the invisible wall.

"Scully?" The voice was faint, but unmistakeably *his*.

"Mulder? Oh God, Mulder, where are you?"

"Here."

"Where? Mulder, I can't *see* you. It's like there's some sort of barrier I can't see through. Can you come closer?"

"Force--field. Hurt--bad. All--over. Don't know--if--can--move...."

"You've got to move, Mulder, you've got to move, unless you've got some way for me to get through."

"No--way--me--only--"

"Try, Mulder, try. Please. Don't talk. Just keep trying. Please!"

A groan answered her. Followed by scraping noises--or was that Bill thundering up behind her?

"Dana, what the hell--"

"SHUT UP!" she screamed at him. "Not you, Mulder, Mulder are you still there?"

Groan. "Scully." A soft whisper she could barely hear. "I'm--it's black--"

"Mulder, it's the middle of the night! Of course it's black! Please, keep trying."

More scraping. "Listen. Don't. Know. You. Must. Go. Not. Safe. You."

"NO!" she screamed back. Pounded on the transparent wall between them. "I'M NOT LEAVING WITHOUT YOU!" She sank to her knees, sobbing, "no, dear God, no, no, no...."

Bill's arms wrapped around her. "Dana. Stop it. Now!" She didn't resist as he pulled her away and threw his coat on top of her.

"Mulder. Is there any way I can get through this?"

"No. Me. Only."

Bill took a deep breath. "Then, you stupid sorry son of a bitch, if you don't get your ass over here and out where you can be with my sister, I am going to hunt you up even in the afterlife and beat the crap out of you, you goddamn worthless woosie---" The obscenities poured out in a low, steady, emotionless monotone, as if he were chewing out a boot camp cadet.

"Bill! Stop it!"

"Knock it off, Dana!"

"S'okay. Scully." The groans were coming closer.

Bill resumed his litany of obscenities, informing Mulder of the many and various ways he intended to kick Mulder's ass around the planet once he was free and able to fend for himself. "*Lousy* bastard, knock my sister up then go off hotshotting around with fucking aliens, god only knows what your worthless hide--"

The transparent wall rippled. She saw fingers writhing through it, raw, bloody fingers--"BILL! Oh God--" She grabbed at them and tried to pull.

"Keep a light on them!" Bill moved her away. His tone changed to coaxing. "C'mon, Mulder, buddy, you can do it, just a little bit more so I can get a hold--" Head, naked arms and shoulders suddenly appeared, scraped raw and oozing. Bill winced but grabbed Mulder firmly around the shoulders and pulled hard, freeing him.

She gasped. The rest of him was no better than his fingers had been.

She draped Bill's coat over Mulder, then started stripping off her own.

"No. Dana. Help me get him up--fireman's carry." She steadied Mulder as Bill hoisted him up. "Now, if you'll give me some light let's get the hell *out* of here as fast as we can."

She staggered along next to Bill, hanging on and trying to keep from overbalancing him. Mulder groaned as they staggered down the hill.

As they were tucking him in the back seat another bright light flared behind them. Mulder jerked hard, screaming in agony.

"Oh God," she groaned, climbing in with him. Bill leapt into his seat and started the car.

"He still with us Danie?"

"Yeah, but not by much!"

"Hang on, then, we're getting the hell out of here!"

She held Mulder tight as they careened toward Bellefleur's hospital.

She tried to pray but the only words which could come to her suddenly blank mind was a moaned "Jesus Mary and Joseph, Jesus Mary and Joseph"

It was a relief when Bill suddenly began the Hail Mary. She couldn't remember the words but she could follow his lead, hanging on the cadences even as she choked over "pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death." Over and over, until she suddenly realized that they were chanting the Rosary's Sorrowful Mysteries.

*Oh Mulder, hold on. Please hold on.*


Seven.

The scarred man swam steadily in the small swimming pool under the watchful eye of the small red-headed woman who sat under the palm tree, nursing the six-month-old blond boy who wore only a diaper in the subtropical warmth.

"That's enough, Mulder," she said finally. "You don't want to overdo."

"How'm I going to get back into shape if you won't let me push?" he grumbled goodnaturedly, swimming to the edge and hanging on the side.

"You've got plenty of time." She detached the sleeping child from her breast and slipped the bikini top back over it, then put the child in a fine mesh portable crib, pulling a cover over the top to protect him from the sun and bugs. Then she walked over to the side of the pool and sat on the edge. He moved over between her legs and rested his head on one of her thighs, sighing. "Besides," she continued, "it *is* our honeymoon, and I'd like you to have some energy left for later."

"Okay," he said. "I just--it's taking so long!"

"You were in pretty bad shape." She frowned at the memory of the nightmare months after Mulder's rescue, of the days spent wondering if he would live long enough to see their child. "It takes time to come back from that. And--" she hesistated, then grinned at him. "You're getting to be an old man, G-man."

"Ex-G-man," he corrected. Sighed. "You didn't have to quit, too."

"I'm getting to be too old for this stuff," she said. "Besides, remember that night in Bellefleur? When you told me to go home and I wouldn't? You were right. It's time for us to move on to other things. If I didn't think things were all over, that colonization wasn't an issue, that'd be different."

"Even with Peanut?"

"Yeah, even with the Peanut hanging around. Unless you think Krycek was wrong about them being gone. Or you know something he doesn't."

Mulder shook his head. "It's all gone. I don't remember a damned thing from the time I was pulled into that force field until I heard you calling me. Six months lost."

"Considering the shape you were in, it's just as well."

"Yeah." He moved over and pulled himself out. "What do you say we go inside?"

"Good enough, best to keep clear from too much sunburn." She gathered up the still sleeping baby carefully. Mulder picked up the portable crib and followed her inside. His eyes met the armed guards discreetly watching the pool and house, and he nodded in confirmation.

He wondered how long they'd need protection.

Forever? He hoped not.

End.


Author's Notes:

Okay. I woosed out and wrote a happy ending (bet I had you going at the end of section 6, though, eh?).

I am not entirely happy with the McGuffin of the liveships, or of having to go even that deep into alien invasion motivations. However, that's what the story seemed to require, so....whatever.

While parts of this story screamed for the easy bailout of a crossover fic, such as the UFO series (Straker, Freeman and Foster to the rescue!) I sincerely resisted the addition of any new characters, and, with the exception of the alien liveships, anything too out of whack with what we've been given already. Call it an exercise in writing restraint.

I hope you've enjoyed the ride. I certainly did, as it helped fuel a Memorial Day weekend writing frenzy (above and beyond this I completed a science fiction short story which was entirely and totally different, no aliens, invasions or liveships present).

My regards to CC, and an honest thank you for the inspiration that letting me play with his characters provided. And a fervent hope that he sneaks a peek at this and incorporates at least some small part of it in his own versions!

jrw

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