Title: Visitor in the Desert
Author: Gillian Leigh
Feedback: gilleigh@hotmail.com
Categories:SRA Spoilers: Everything up to 'William' in Season 9
Distribution: Anywhere. Just send me an e-mail to let me know, and keep my headers attached.

Summary: A man in living in the desert receives an important visitor.

Author's Notes: I gave life to the "invisible" Scully child in this one. :o) Charlie needed some attention.

The house in the desert never saw any visitors. The occasional passerby didn't give it so much as a second glance. Whoever lived there didn't get any mail, except for bills once in a while, and the mailman never saw the 'Rob Petri' who lived there. The shades were always drawn, there was never a car in the driveway, and the edifice itself was ramshackle and deteriorated...a far cry from inviting. But none of this dissuaded the petite brunette who climbed the rickety steps, futilely attempting to beat the dust out of her black tank top and pants. She removed the dark sunglasses which had hidden her eyes from view in addition to protecting them from the sun. Her thick soled combat boots made a dull thud with each step on the porch's wooden surface, and she raised her hand to knock at the door. She paused, remembering the dog tags around her neck, and hid them inside her shirt.

Inhaling deeply, she knocked at the door. She waited fifteen seconds before knocking again; harder this time. The door opened underneath her hand mid-knock. A short boy stood before her, wearing glasses, a sweat- dampened orange shirt and gray shorts. He peered out warily at her from the four inch opening he had created.

"Who're you?" he asked. Studying him critically, she decided he was no older than twelve. "Why are you here?" he asked. She opened her mouth to speak and then closed it, contemplating what to say.

"I need to speak with Fox Mulder. Is he here?" The boy looked slightly startled at the mention of that particular name.

"There's no one here by that name," the boy said. "Please go away." He attempted to close the door, but the girl put her hand out and held it in place.

"You're lying," she said, staring at the boy. He looked panicked.

"I don't want any trouble. Please, just leave," he said. The girl adamantly shook her head.

"It's very important that I speak to Mr. Mulder. His life, your life, and the lives of everyone on this planet depend on it," she said, keeping her tone even. The boy's eyes went wide, and he was silent for a moment. A voice called from within.

"Let her in, Gibson. If she was sent to kill us, she would've done it already." The boy, she now knew his name was Gibson, stepped aside and let her pass into the house. He closed the door behind her and latched it securely.

It took a moment for her eyes to adjust to the dim-lighting of the interior of the house, which was a stark contrast to the brightness of the outdoors. She could see that the room she had entered into was a living room, which was sparsely furnished. A couch stood against one wall, and a desk stood against another, a computer rested on its surface, humming peacefully as it slept. The windows were all covered by heavy curtains, in an attempt, she assumed, to keep both the light and heat outdoors; the house was not air-conditioned. Her observation was interrupted.

"Why are you here?" She turned toward the voice, to see the lanky form of the man she had come in search of, Fox Mulder, leaning against a wall. "More importantly, who are you?"

She looked at him and crossed her arms.

"I'm Rhiannon." He raised his eyebrows.

"Do you have a last name?" he asked. She shook her head.

"No. Where I come from, last names do not matter. We are all assigned numbers. Our names and surnames lost their importance long ago."

The man appeared intrigued. He motioned for her to sit on the couch, sinking into it himself. Gibson remained in the doorway, very edgy as he watched the scene unfold before him. Mulder studied Rhiannon, sure that he had seen her before; she looked familiar to him. 'Of course,' he thought to himself, 'after not seeing a soul other than Gibson for ten months, anyone could look familiar.' He was sure that he was going insane. The girl studied him as well. His hair was disheveled and unruly, and far too long for her taste. His face had a week's worth of stubble, and there were dark circles present under his eyes. He looked gaunt; too pale and too thin.

"What did you come to speak to me about, Rhiannon? What's so imperative that you tracked me down to tell me?" Mulder asked, rubbing his chin.

"Mulder, in a few days, Agent Scully will make a decision. She will not contact you, and you will have no idea what has happened. Scully has decided that she can no longer provide adequate protection for your son, William--" Mulder cut her off.

"How do you know about this? You speak as though you know the future! How do you know about William?" Rhiannon simply raised a hand to silence him.

"You wouldn't believe me if I told you..." Mulder scoffed.

"Try me," he said, crossing his arms. Rhiannon sighed.

"I'm from the future."

"I've heard stranger things," he stated. Ignoring the disbelief in his comment, Rhiannon continued.

"You need to contact Scully. You must tell her not to give William up for adoption. She believes that she can't adequately protect him, but in all actuality, the two of you are the only two people who can. If you don't stop her..." Rhiannon paused, surprised to find tears in her eyes. Mulder's expression softened.

"If I don't stop her, what will happen?" he asked.

"The world as you know it will end," she said, unable to meet his gaze. Mulder's eyebrows went up. "You may or may not know," Rhiannon continued. "That on December 22, 2012, an alien firestorm will ravage Earth. Those humans not treated with alien DNA will either be injected or eliminated. Those humans who survive will become slaves to the alien race which will rule the world," Rhiannon responded, looking into his eyes. To her surprise, they registered only mild disbelief.

"What does any of this have to do with William?" Mulder queried. "And how can you prove that what you say is true?"

"If Scully gives William up for adoption, the parents he goes to will know nothing of the force which will end their lives, and the people who will kidnap 'their' son, and use him against the human race. You see, Mulder, your son has a gift. A gift which would enable him to save the world from this doom, to protect the human race from alien enslavement and certain death. But this gift goes both ways. As easily as it can be used to save the human race, it can be used by others to destroy them," she said. "And the only assurance I can offer you that what I say is true is my word."

"You have no other proof?" he asked, seemingly disappointed.

"No," she said, quietly.

"I'm supposed to take the word of a total stranger as the Gospel Truth?" he asked, almost mockingly. "I'm sorry, Rhiannon. But in my line of work, I've learned not to trust people." Rhiannon's eyes filled with tears again, and she looked down at her hands before speaking again.

"If you don't stop Scully from giving William up from adoption, I am an example of what will become of every human being on this planet," she said, calmly. "I may look like a human being on the exterior, but I am thirty- three and one-third percent alien. I am what is referred to as a Super Solider, or a human/alien hybrid. As a child, my human DNA was manipulated when I was injected with the purest form of the alien DNA that had been cultivated since the original alien DNA was used right after the Roswell crash of 1947. Through this procedure, I was made indestructible, unable to be killed. But I am forever a slave to those who made me this way. I am forced to kill, to breed, and to create others like myself. When they believe I am no longer useful, they will exterminate me in the only way that people like myself can be killed. They will inject me with a serum which will separate my alien and human DNA, causing the alien DNA to mutate, and act as an autoimmune virus, which will attack my cells, and kill me. This is not a fate for your son, Mulder, or for any other children you may be a father to. If you don't believe me, and stop her, this will happen to you too," she concluded, feeling very shaky. The wobble in her voice betrayed her calm exterior, and Mulder was compelled to believe her.

He did not respond, and Rhiannon rose to her feet. She grasped the chain around her neck and gave it a firm yank, breaking the clasp which held the ends of the chain together. Stepping over to Mulder, she opened his right hand and placed the dog tags inside, closing his fingers around them. Without another word, she turned and walked out the door, closing it quietly behind her. Perplexed, Mulder opened his palm and lifted the dog tags out of his hand and examined them. He reached up behind him and turned on a light. The writing on the tags said,

Civilian Number: 11211013

Name: Rhiannon Mulder
DOB: December 22, 2002

His eyes widened. She was... his daughter? But how? He had begun attempting to convince himself that it was nothing more than an elaborate prank when Gibson spoke up.

"She's not lying to you, Mulder. She's your daughter." Clutching the dog tags in his hand, Mulder leaped up off the couch and ran out the door of the house. Looking out over the desert, he saw no sign of Rhiannon. She'd gone just as mysteriously as she arrived.

"Rhiannon?" he yelled, looking wildly about. "RHIANNON?!" He felt a hand on his arm.

"She's gone, Mulder. I-I can't hear her thoughts anymore..." Gibson said. Mulder shook his head.

"She can't be gone. I have so many questions for her, damn it!" he yelled. He paused, and looked again at the silver dog tags he held. "If she's right, I have to contact Scully. I have to stop her from giving Will up for adoption."

Dana Scully opened her door, carrying her son on her hip, and nearly fell over when she saw who stood on the other side.

"Mulder? Oh my God, Mulder!" she exclaimed, hugging him with her free arm. "What are you doing here? Isn't this dangerous?" He could tell that she was distraught, and had been crying.

"Scully, I know what you're feeling right now, but you can't give him up for adoption," her face dropped.

"H-how...?" she began.

Closing the door and looking down into her eyes, he said, "We're the only ones who can protect him.'

"Mulder?" she questioned. "How did you know that I was even considering giving him up?" Her eyes welled with tears. Mulder opened her free hand and placed the dog tags in it. She looked down at them, and then up at him, her eyes full of shock.

"I had a visitor this morning.

Two months later

Mulder sat in Scully's living room, bouncing Will on his knee as they watched a 'Blue's Clues' tape. He heard the sound of a key in the lock, and turned to see Scully come through the door, carrying bags of groceries. He set Will on the floor and got up to help her, taking two bags out of her arms.

"Thank you," she said, and he gave her a quick kiss on the cheek. They both stood in her kitchen putting away the groceries, and Scully laughed quietly.

"What is it?" Mulder asked, stopping what he was doing to look at her.

"You're not going to believe this," she said, looking up at him, "but I'm pregnant." Mulder's face broke into a huge smile.

"You're kidding?" he asked, pushing a strand of her long hair behind her ear. Scully shook her head, and smiled herself.

"Nope. I'm two months along," she replied. "We're having another baby." Awed, Mulder wrapped his arms around Scully and lifted her off the floor in a bear hug. They heard Will's babbling noises, and both looked toward the doorway to see him tottering in their direction.

"Look at him, Scully! Will's walking!" Mulder exclaimed, setting her down on the floor. She knelt down and opened her arms.

"Come to Mommy, Will! Look at my big boy!" He stumbled and tottered and fell down a few feet from her, but then hoisted himself to his feet and started walking again. He reached Scully's arms and she hugged him, lifting him off the floor.

"Yay for Will!" She exclaimed, clapping her hands together. He did the same, muttering incoherent, nonsensical baby-talk. Mulder hugged the two of them and kissed Scully on the temple, and Will on the forehead.

"That's my boy," he whispered. "That's my son."

Two months later

Mulder woke and sat straight up in bed. A shiver went down his spine. Something was wrong. Beside him, Scully stirred.

"Mulder? What is it?" she mumbled sleepily.

"Nothing, Scully, go back to sleep," he replied, getting up out of bed and retrieving his gun. She sat up.

"Where the hell are you going?" she asked, throwing the covers back. Mulder walked back over to her and said,

"No, Scully, you're not going anywhere. Stay here with Will." She crossed her arms.

"Mulder..." she protested. He shook his head.

"Stay here." Gun drawn, he walked out into the living room. There was a light coming from the kitchen, and he moved forward, listening to the sounds of a quiet conversation. He had just reached the doorway and was ready to jump out and catch the intruders by surprise when Gibson said,

"It's just me, Mulder." He jumped, and withdrew his gun.

"Jesus, Gibson, don't do that!" he exclaimed. When he entered the kitchen, he was surprised again to find Rhiannon sitting at the table, having tea with Gibson. His jaw dropped.

"Rhiannon?" The girl rose out of her chair, and turned to face him. She was wearing the black pants, combat boots, and tank top she'd had on before, but she also wore a long black trench coat. Her long brown hair was down, and Mulder could see that it hung past her shoulders in loose curls.

"Hi," she said. He raised his eyebrows.

"You're back?" he asked. She nodded.

"So now, you know -- who I am --" she said quietly, looking embarrassed. He grinned.

"Yeah. You can call me Dad, if you want," he replied.

"Mulder?" He turned around to see Scully standing behind him, with Will on her hip. "What's going on?"

"What're you doing out here? I told you to stay in the bedroom," he said, gently. She rolled her eyes.

"Well, I didn't hear any screams or gunshots, so I determined it must be safe to come out, and Will's hungry. Who's this?" she asked, nodding toward Rhiannon.

"Don't you recognize that nose, Dana? Those eyes?" Mulder joked. Scully looked at him perplexedly. "Scully, this is Rhiannon, our daughter."

"Hi, Mom," Rhiannon said quietly, stepping forward. Mulder didn't believe that her eyebrow could go any higher than it was at that point.

"Our daughter?" she asked. He nodded.

"The one who came to me to stop you from giving Will up for adoption," he supplemented. "She gave me the dog tags I showed you, remember?" Scully pulled out a chair and sank into it, studying Mulder and their daughter as she bounced Will on her knee.

"But your dog tags said you were born December 22 of this year. That day hasn't come yet," Scully said to Rhiannon, still confused. "How are you here?"

"I came from the future to give you a message, just as I came to see dad four months ago. As confusing as it seems right now, the child you're carrying is me," Rhiannon said, pointing to Scully's noticeably swollen abdomen.

Daunted, Scully simply stared at Rhiannon as she continued to bounce Will on her knee. Mulder smiled. What an odd situation.

"This is Will, right?" Rhiannon asked, stroking Will's hair as he sucked on his thumb.

Grinning, she turned to Mulder and said, "You should really try to stop him from doing that. He had braces for five years to correct his teeth because he sucked his thumb." Mulder shook his head.

"So in the future... are you and Will the only two?" Scully asked, beginning to lose her fear and gain greater curiosity. Rhiannon grinned.

"No, there are five of us all together," she replied. Both Mulder and Scully's eyebrows shot up. "Will, myself, Jack, James, and Leyla," she replied. "Jack and James are twins."

"So why were you the one to come to us? Why not the future version of Will, or any of the others?" Mulder asked, taking Will from Scully.

Rhiannon smiled at the child, and touched his cheek, saying, "Hey big brother." She paused and then looked up at her father, and said, "Well, Will was not able to come see you. You see, because he is already born in your present time, he cannot come from the future. It would disrupt the time/space continuum, and we cannot interact with our former selves. As for Jack, James or Leyla, they decided that I should come since I'm the eldest. I think they were just too lazy," she said with a grin. Scully was struck by her expression; Mulder had that smile. She jumped in her chair and said,

"Mulder! Mulder, feel this!" She grabbed his hand, and held it to her belly.

"That's the baby?" he asked. Scully nodded. Rhiannon watched, and Scully looked to Gibson, who had been a quiet observer the entire time, and said,

"Would you like to feel, Gibson?"

"Okay," he said, quietly, walking over to Scully and offering his hand. She placed it, open-palmed, where the baby's feet were hitting. He smiled. "Oh wow." Both Mulder and Scully looked over to Rhiannon.

"Rhia," Scully said. "Would you like to feel this?" Her daughter smiled.

"You called me Rhia. That's what you and Dad call me in my time," she said, and offered her hand to her mother.

"How weird is this?" Scully said, smiling at Rhiannon. "To feel yourself kicking inside your mother's womb..."

"It's very weird," Rhiannon said. "To be seventeen and standing in the kitchen, speaking to my parents, but at the same time, I'm in there too," she nodded toward her mother's abdomen, on which her hand still rested. "And I'm kicking for the first time."

Mulder's joyful expression sobered and he said, "But Rhia, you're here to give us a message. What is it? Is something wrong?" She straightened up, and looked into his eyes.

"You can't stay here. In three days' time, men will come in the dead of the night, in an attempt to take Will from you, to use him for their evil purposes. They don't know that you're pregnant, Mom, but if they find out, your life will be in as great a danger as Will's is." Scully looked at Mulder, clearly terrified, and kept a protective hand over her abdomen as she rose out of her chair.

"Where do we go?" Scully asked, quietly.

"There's a project out in New Mexico," she began. "A group of people working to stop the alien invasion. The group if called the Underground. They're the polar opposite of the Syndicate group which is now aiding the alien colonization plan. If you go to them, they will protect you all, and anyone else you bring, like Grandma Maggie."

"What about Charlie and Bill, and their families?"

"They're a part of the Underground, and have been for almost a year now. They're all safe. You need to join them."

"We're supposed to just leave?" Scully said, quietly. "We have to run from everything we have here?" Mulder kissed the top of her head.

"It'll be okay, Scully. We'll be okay," he replied, hugging her with his free arm. She sighed, and looked up at Rhiannon, with tears glimmering in the corners of her eyes. Taking a deep breath, she steadied herself, and said,

"How do we get there?"

Scully sat in the passenger seat of the Ford Excursion with the GPS in her hand. They'd been on the road for nearly a week, having to stop in motels to sleep, and they were all growing tired of the endless stretches of highway and desert.

"We've got two miles or so," she said. Mulder looked at her. "Stay on this road."

Rhiannon leaned forward between their two seats and said, "I need to get out of the car." Mulder pulled the car to the side of the road.

"Why?" he asked, craning his neck to look at her.

"There is a magnetite field that surrounds the Underground on all sides. It extends for a mile. If I get too close, it will kill me. Magnetite is lethal to my body because of the alien DNA," Rhiannon said.

"You won't be able to come see us anymore?" Scully questioned. Will was sleeping peacefully in his car seat, and Maggie listened with interest. It had been difficult to explain Rhiannon to Maggie, and why they had to leave. She also had to be told about Scully's second pregnancy, which they had been keeping a secret. Gibson was also in the car, and the Gunmen, Doggett, Reyes and Skinner had been following them the entire way out. Langly appeared at the driver's side window.

"Why are we stopping?" he asked.

"I have to leave, Uncle Ringo," Rhiannon said. Langly smiled at the girl.

"Mom, Dad, I won't be able to come see you anymore. But don't worry, you're saving the world, and Dr. Bailey will help you all out once you get there. I love you," she said, hugging both. Scully hugged her daughter, and then released her, finding tears in her eyes.

"Goodbye, sweetheart. Take care," she whispered, kissing her forehead.

"Keep out of trouble, Rhiannon. Don't do anything your old man wouldn't do," Mulder said, kissing her on the cheek. His daughter smiled at him, and got out of the car after hugging both Gibson and her grandmother goodbye.

They drove away, and Mulder and Scully watched in the rear view mirror until Rhiannon vanished from sight.

"I can't believe she's gone," he said, with a sigh. Scully reached across and took his hand.

"She's not really gone, Mulder." He looked over at her, and glanced down at her belly, with a smile.

"You're right. I just hope the Rhiannon we raise in the 'safe' world turns out as well as Rhiannon the Super Soldier did," he said.

"Fox , where are we going again?" Maggie asked. Mulder looked at her in the rear view mirror.

"It's called the Underground. It's an entire subterranean network of cities full of people trying to prevent the end of the world. It's where we'll all be able to live as safely and normally as possible. Dana and I are going to help stop the Apocalypse, which is what the alien invasion which will end the world is being called." Maggie nodded.

"And Bill and Charlie are already there?" she asked. Scully nodded.

"Yes. They have been for a year, as Rhiannon told us. They're safe and their families are safe too, just like ours will be," she responded.

"You okay back there, Gibson? You've been pretty quiet," Mulder called.

"I'm alright," the boy replied. "I'm just thinking."

Scully looked down at the GPS in her hand, and said, "That's it right there." She even surprised herself by pointing at a small shanty in the middle of the desert.

"That's it?!" Mulder questioned.

"According to Rhiannon's directions, yes it is," she replied, double-checking the coordinates and other directions Rhiannon had given them.

They pulled up to the shanty and stopped the car. Behind them, Langly did the same.

"How much farther 'til we get there?" Skinner asked, standing beside Mulder. Scully looked at him, shielding her eyes from the sun.

"This is it," she said.

"What? This can't be it," Skinner said, turning three hundred sixty degrees and observing their surroundings. "You told me that Rhiannon said it was a huge operation, with nearly a thousand people working on it. They can't be operating out of this shanty, can they?"

No sooner had the words left his mouth than two armed men in uniform appeared on the porch of the shanty.

"Freeze where you are!" One commanded, pointing his rifle at them. The other kept his eye on them as they both advanced. Everyone held his or her hands in plain sight, and Scully looked to Mulder, slightly panicked, just as Maggie looked to Skinner, and the Gunmen tried hard to save face.

"Who are you, and what is your business out here?" the second guard asked.

"I'm Special Agent Dana Scully, and this is my partner Fox Mulder. We need your help. Our son William and the baby I'm carrying are both in grave danger, as are we," she said. The men lowered their weapons.

"What did you say your name was again?" one asked. She cleared her throat.

"Dana Scully." At a distance of twenty yards, the man could tell who she was. He pushed his hat off his head, and said,

"Danes, is it really you?"

Stepping closer, Scully said, "Charlie?" Maggie's jaw dropped, and both Scully women started running toward the uniformed man, who everyone now knew was Scully's brother Charlie.

"Mom?" Charlie said, smiling widely at the two of them. "You're here too? Oh my God, I thought I'd never see the two of you again." He hugged his mother, who was moved to tears after not seeing her youngest son for two years.

"Danes, you're pregnant?" Charlie asked, after breaking from his mother's embrace. His sister nodded, and opened her coat, directing his attention to her swollen abdomen.

"Four months, and Mulder and I have another child. Our son, William. He's a year old," she said. "A lot has happened since I saw you last." He embraced her tightly.

"I've missed you, Big Sis," he said.

"I've missed you too, Charlie," she replied. "I'd like to introduce you to everyone, but I have to go get Will, Gibson, Frohike and Byers."

She returned a moment later, carrying Will on her hip, with Gibson and the two remaining Gunmen trailing close behind.

"Charlie, I'd like you to meet Mulder; AD Skinner, our former boss; Byers, Langly and Frohike, who call themselves the Lone Gunmen; Gibson Praise; our colleagues, Agents Doggett and Reyes; and lastly, your nephew William," she said. Charlie nodded and shook Mulder's hand.

"So you're the man who married my sister," he said, grinning. Mulder and Scully looked at one another, both slightly reddening.

"Well, we haven't exactly gotten to that yet..." Mulder said.

"Oh," Charlie said simply, and shrugged his shoulders. "Well, at any rate, it's great to meet the man my mother and sister raved about for four years." Scully's face colored deeply, and Mulder grinned at her.

"So you raved about me, huh?"

"Shut up, Mulder."

Just when everyone had begun to wonder just where they were going to put their cars, Charlie and the other uniformed soldier found ropes in the sand and pulled. A long door which matched perfectly with the floor of the desert slid underneath the top layer of soil, much in the same way a sliding glass door opens. The new opening revealed a long ramp, which they would be able to drive their cars down. As Mulder drove down inside, followed by Langly, they found themselves to be in a parking garage of sorts. They parked their cars in two adjacent spots, and unloaded. Scully carried William, Mulder took his suitcase, her suitcase and Will's baby bag, and everyone else was responsible for his or her own suitcase, as they followed Charlie, each marveling at the place they would now call home.

The streets were lined with buildings, and tiny shops. Trees were planted here and there, and if one didn't know any better, he or she wouldn't know that this was a science research facility and not a cozy country town. Mulder glanced up at the ceiling, which displayed a bright blue sky and blowing clouds like there had been outside.

"Charlie?" he began. When Charlie looked at him, he pointed upward, "How does this work?"

"Fiber optics. The daily sky is recorded through a camera in the roof of the shanty. The entire ceiling in the compound is a giant plasma screen, basically a giant computer monitor. The images recorded through the roof camera are sent to a computer in the research area of the facility which monitors all computer activity in the entire Underground, and the image is transferred onto the ceiling," Charlie responded. Mulder nodded in approval.


"Charlie," Maggie spoke up. "Where will we be staying? I think you're wearing Dana out with all of this walking..." Scully rolled her eyes.

"I'm fine, *Mom*." She shifted Will on her hip and Charlie turned to her.

"Let me take him, Danes. I'm sure he gets heavy after a while," he said, extending his arms. William willingly went to him, and gurgled as he played with the buttons on his uncle's jacket.

"We're going to go see Dr. Bailey; she's in charge of everything that goes on here. She'll get you all situated with housing. Once she gives directions, you can drive to the buildings you'll live in," Charlie said. He turned and pushed open a door, and led the entire group into the lobby of what appeared to be one of the many buildings devoted to research.

The walls were white, and the furniture was all stainless steel and very futuristic looking. A receptionist behind the desk rose to her feet.

"Charlie?" He smiled at the woman, and said,

"Lydia, can you get Dr. Bailey for me?" The middle-aged woman nodded, and took off her glasses.

"Sure, Charlie. I'll get Brenda and be right back." Everyone took to looking around the lobby in silence. John Doggett ran his hand over his face, still having a hard time believing that he was spending an indefinite amount of time in this underground complex. Beside him, Monica Reyes squeezed his hand, and raised it to her lips and kissed it.

"It'll be okay, John," she whispered, and smiled. Scully took the baby bag from Mulder, and looped an arm around his waist.

"Are you okay?" she asked. He nodded.

"I'll adjust," he replied. "How're you doing?"

"I'm okay, but Rhia's a little restless." Mulder smiled and laid a hand on her belly.

"I still can't believe that we're going to have *five* kids," he replied.

"I almost wonder if Rhiannon made that up because she wants younger siblings," Scully said, and smiled.

"Well, if we have twin boys, we'll know she wasn't just pushing for more siblings, now won't we?" he replied.

"I suppose so."

At that moment, Charlie reappeared with a taller young woman, who was about 5'10", with short brown hair. She looked surprised at the size of the group in her lobby.

"Charlie, you said you had 'a few' people. I wasn't expecting *this* many," she said, and grinned at them all.

"Dr. Brenda Bailey, I'd like for you to meet my sister Dana; her partner, Fox Mulder; you've already met my nephew, William; this is Assistant Director Skinner, their boss; Agents Doggett and Reyes, their colleagues from the Bureau; Frohike, Byers and Langly, their friends; and Gibson," he paused. "Everyone, this is Dr. Brenda Bailey; she's the Head Honcho around here."

"Fox Mulder and Dana Scully," Dr. Bailey said, grinning at the two of them. "It's truly an honor to meet the two of you. Bill told us you were doing wonderful things up there, and now we'll get to see them down here." Mulder and Scully looked at one another, rather perplexed.

"I'm sorry, I'm afraid I'm a bit confused. Who's Bill?" Mulder asked. Dr. Bailey looked surprised.

"Why, Bill Scully. He's done nothing but sing your praises since he got down here," she replied. Mulder was rendered speechless by this comment, and Scully stood with her jaw hanging open for a minute.

"I'm sorry, could you repeat that? I thought you said that Bill Scully was 'singing Mulder's praises'?" Scully said.

"Yes, I did, Ms. Scully."

"Are we thinking of the same Bill Scully?" she asked, an amused grin playing on her lips.

"Yes we are..." Dr. Bailey responded.


"Well speak of the Devil..." Mulder muttered under his breath as Bill Scully entered through the door behind them and walked right up to Dr. Bailey, not taking a moment to look at any of them.

"Well, aren't you going to say hi, Bill?" Mulder asked, making it his goal to see if Bill Scully really liked him. He actually hoped to piss the man off. The eldest Scully child whipped around and his jaw dropped open, his face a mirror image of his sister's from only moments before.

"Mulder? Dana? Mom? God I thought I'd never see you guys again!" he exclaimed, smiling as he hugged his sister, his mother, and finally, Mulder.

"Well, Bill, what's this I hear about you 'singing my praises'?" Mulder asked. "I was always under the impression that you hated my guts, especially when you called me a 'sorry son of a bitch', among other things." Bill's expression softened.

"Listen, Mulder, I need to apologize about that," he said, smiling. "I never really hated you..." Mulder's eyebrows shot up again. "But I couldn't be nice to you until I figured out who you were working for; whose side you were on."

"Wow," Mulder and Scully said at the same time.

"So all along you've been pretending to hate Fox ?" Maggie asked, with her hands on her hips. Bill shrugged.

"I had to. I was instructed to. Charlie and I have been working on the above ground version of this project since we joined the Navy." Maggie looked at her daughter and then Mulder, and opened her mouth to say something, but then shook her head.

"Forget it," Maggie muttered. Scully smiled slightly, and extended her arms to her brother, who wrapped her up in a hug, and when he released her, he looked at her perplexedly and said,

"Dana are you pregnant?!" Mulder smiled. Things could get very interesting around here.

Dana Scully sat Indian-style on the floor of the Apartment she and Mulder shared. It was still early in the morning, and Mulder and Will both were still sleeping peacefully. Even the baby girl curled up in her womb was still asleep. She had several things on the floor in front of her as she worked. To her left sat the photo album her mother had started, which contained all of the pictures that she and Mulder had ever been in together. In front of her was Will's baby book, and to her right was Rhiannon's baby book, which she had started only a few days before. She sighed, unable to decide which project to work on first, and the sight of a particular picture of her and Mulder caught her eye. Smiling, she pulled the album into her lap, resting it on her knees. She ran her fingers over the edge of the picture and shook her head, remembering the day the picture was taken.

It occurred just after they had been flown back from Antarctica, and Scully was in Mulder's hospital room. What had possessed her mother to bring a camera that day, Scully never quite understood. They had both looked like hell. In the picture, the pair was lip-locked over the rail of his bed, because she'd told him that if he wasn't going to finish what he started in the hallway, she sure as hell was going to.

The album shifted in her lap as the baby moved around and kicked at it. Sighing, she set the book back on the floor, and looked down at her stomach, which had swollen to the size of a basketball, reminding her of the two months which had gone by without incident. She picked up the three books, and stacked them on top of one another before putting them in the bottom shelf of her bookcase. Sitting down at the desk in the corner of the living room, she pulled out her diary and did something she hadn't done in over six months.

-It's been two months now, since we left behind our jobs, our homes, and our lives to come live in the Underground. There have been no signs of retaliation; there are no Alien Bounty Hunters, no Billy Mileses, and no Cigarette Smoking Men. There is no horribly disfigured Jeffrey Spender who scares us all while saying it is for William's protection.

-It feels almost odd... to have obtained aa normal life. This life may not seem normal to any other soul on this planet, but for Mulder and me, this is as normal as it gets. We call this 'normal' because there are no liver-eating mutants, no monsters, no men with talking tattoos, and here we can wake up in one another's arms each day. Here, our children will be able to live without fear. Here, Mulder and I can be a couple, and we don't have to worry about who's listening.

-It took nearly a month and a half for Mulder and me to feel secure, but in time, everyone and everything has proven to be as it seems. We work together with my brother Bill and Dr. Bailey deciding how to immunize the entire world population.

-Also, as odd as it seems, romance is blossoming in the Underground. I noticed Monica acting oddly, and found out that she and John have been dating for a year under our noses. It took a bit to get used to, but it's good to see them happy.

-We have three more months until the baby''s born, and her arrival is being eagerly anticipated by her grandmother, who has five grandsons, and has dreamt of a granddaughter for years. My ankles are swollen, my back aches and I'm getting close to giving in to those ridiculous 'pickle and ice cream' cravings... but I love every moment of this.-

Scully could hear Will making gurgling noises in his crib, and she walked into his nursery, and found him standing up and sucking on one of his fists. She smiled and extended her arms to pick him up, and he babbled as he extended his own arms to her.

"Mama," he said, reaching up to touch her face. She started to lift him out of the crib, but Mulder stopped her.

"Here, Scully. I'll take him," he said, stepping past her to lift Will. He kissed her cheek and said, "Morning, beautiful."

She smiled and said, "My, my. Doling out compliments pretty early this morning, aren't we?" Taking Will onto his hip, Mulder stepped closer to Scully and gently rubbed up and down her back.

"As I've told you before, I will tell you again. There is no woman more beautiful to a man than the one carrying his child."

"You're just trying to butter me up..." she began, arching her eyebrow at him.

"Is it working?" he asked, grinning at her. She slapped him playfully.

"Yes, I suppose it is..." she said. She pulled Will's formula out of the refrigerator and poured it into an empty bottle. She set a pot on the stove and filled it partially with water, turning the burner on to heat it.

Mulder brushed her lengthening hair off of her neck, and kissed all the bare skin he could find. She smiled as she tested the temperature of the formula before handing the bottle to Will, who was very proud of the fact that he could hold it himself. Scully shook her head and smiled, and Mulder smiled at her.

"What is it?" he asked.

"I just keep thinking about how a person could go crazy thinking about this whole situation. I wonder how Rhiannon knew to come to see us in the past, and just *how* our discovery of the Underground will change her life and ours?"

"Well," Mulder said, "I would prefer not to go any crazier than I already am. So let's not think about these things, and get ourselves ready for work." An hour later, dressed for work, mother, father and son all walked the short two blocks through their fully functional city to the building where Maggie Scully lived. All of the friends lived in a four block radius. It was still amazing to all of them how much the research facility was like a real city. The shops and cafes which lined the streets were run either by some of the research scientists themselves, or by their family members who were not gifted in the field of science. Byers, Langly and Frohike had taken advantage of the abundance of technology buffs in the Underground and opened their own Internet Cafe, which they called "Computers, Coffee and Conspiracy".

Mulder and Scully made their daily stop there, and the bell jingled as they entered. Several people they had been working with since their arrival. From behind the counter, Langly called,

"Hey guys! The usual?"

"Yup," Scully responded for the two of them, heading to the counter and pulling out two chocolate biscotti for herself.

"You guys headed to work?" Langly asked, ringing them up at the register for Scully's decaf latte, Mulder's cappuccino and the biscotti.

"$6.83," Langly said. Mulder's eyebrows went up.

"You guys cost me more and more money every day," he said, shaking his head as he handed his friend the money.

"Yup. We're on our way to the Norton Building," Scully replied. "We're working with Dr. Bailey and another doctor we haven't met yet... his name's Dr. Stevens... on the atomizer form of the magnetite vaccine."

"The atomizer form?" Frohike questioned from behind the counter. "I've never heard of that."

"It's new theory we're testing. If we can create an atomizer form to be released into the air, it would reach more people faster than the vaccine, and in addition to providing an instant immunity, it would kill off any Super Soldiers. Those who were left would then receive the vaccine and acquire the immunity they would need for the rest of their lives," she replied.

"Where's Byers?" Mulder asked.

"Working with Dr. Holland and Suzanne," Frohike replied.

"Modeski?" Scully and Mulder questioned at the same time. Langly nodded.

"When did she get here?" Mulder asked.

"A few weeks ago. She'd been working in the computer programming department. He ran into her at C.C.'s the other day," Langly said. C.C.'s was the diner where most of the researchers went on their lunch breaks. Most of the residents of the Underground called themselves "Fighters", but there were variations on this unofficial title, as there almost always are when any title is in use. Scully looked at her watch.

"Well, Mulder. We have to go if we're going to get Will to my mom's on time and meet Dr. Bailey by 8:45."

"Alright," Mulder replied. "See you later, guys."

"See ya," Frohike called.

"Later dudes," Langly said.

The bell jingled as the door closed behind them.

Three minutes later, Scully knocked firmly at her mother's door. Two minutes passed, and she raised her hand to knock again, but the door opened underneath it. Her jaw dropped, as did Mulder's. The man on the other side of the door didn't seem surprised to see them in the least. He looked downright sleepy, and wore a tee- shirt and boxers.

"Sir?" Scully forced out dryly, her eyebrow as high as it could go. Mulder was horrified beyond words. Skinner stood inside Maggie Scully's Apartment, and it was obvious to everyone that he had spent the night. It was as if Skinner woke up in that moment, and his eyes were as wide as Scully's. From somewhere inside the Apartment, Maggie's voice could be heard.

"Walt, have you seen my pink blouse?" After a moment, when he didn't respond, she called his name again. "Walt?" She came to the door in her robe, and found the three people staring at one another. Her face immediately turned crimson.

"Oh my," she said, simply. "Dana, I didn't expect you..."

"Apparently," her daughter replied. "And I didn't expect to find my former boss at my mother's Apartment at eight-thirty in the morning, wearing..." she paused to gesture at his clothing, or lack thereof, "...that."

"It's eight-thirty?!" Maggie exclaimed, glancing at her watch. "Oh my goodness, I don't know how I let it get so late..."

"We can take Will to work with us today, Maggie, if you'd like," Mulder replied. "We wouldn't want to ruin any of your fun..." Maggie, Skinner and Scully all turned a shade of crimson.

"Fox !" Maggie exclaimed, at the same time that Scully said, "Mulder!"

Mulder smiled even as Scully glared at him. It was certainly an interesting way to start out what would be an otherwise boring work day.

Scully massaged her temples as she stood beside Mulder in the elevator.

"My mother is sleeping with our boss," she muttered.

"Former boss," Mulder corrected. She rolled her eyes.

"Like that makes it any better," she continued, looking at him. "I don't think I'll ever get the image of Skinner in his boxers out of my head."

"I think it's burned into my retinas," he replied. He rubbed Scully's shoulders, working through the knots.

"God, Scully, your muscles are all knotty." The elevator doors opened and Scully walked out with Mulder still rubbing her shoulders.

"I'm carrying around what may as well be a bowling ball on my abdomen, Mulder. Your muscles would be knotting themselves up if you had to carry that much weight around." He moved his hands to her lower back, and massaged the area around her lumbar spine with his thumbs, running them in circles.

"Can you do that for the next three months, please?" she asked, sighing in relief. Mulder smiled, and the pair kept walking as the elevator doors opened. Dr. Bailey was grinning as well at the sight of the two of them.

"Hello, Dana. Hello, Mulder. How are you two this morning?" she asked, checking a clipboard she held in front of her.

"Just fine," Mulder responded for both of them. "What's on the agenda for today?"

"Well, we have to get back into the lab and work on altering the chemical composition of the magnetite to try to create the atomizer version, but first I'd like to take you inside and introduce you to Dr. Stevens," Dr. Bailey responded, pocketing the pen and leading the two inside her office. The door closed behind them, and Mulder and Scully saw a woman wearing a white lab coat sitting at a computer with her back to them. Her brown hair was gathered up into a bun, and Dr. Bailey spoke to gain her attention.

"Fox , Dana, this is Dr. Stevens," she said. The woman rose out of her chair and turned to face the couple, wearing a smile. Before she opened her mouth to speak, Mulder felt his heart hammering in his chest, and the woman extended her hand to him saying,

"Please call me--" Mulder cut her off.

"Samantha?" The woman stared at him without recognition for a moment, and then her own hazel eyes widened behind the simple frames of her glasses.

"Fox ?!" she asked. It was Scully's turn to be shocked as she realized what was going on. Mulder hugged his sister fiercely, and Dr. Bailey turned to Scully, looking shocked and confused.

"What's going on?"

Futilely swiping at the tears which had unexpectedly begun flowing, Scully said, "Mulder found his sister."

"I have a nephew," Samantha whispered as she held William in her lap. He gurgled happily and reached up to tug on the collar of her shirt. He then grabbed a handful of her long, curly hair and tugged on it.

"William, no!" Scully exclaimed, reaching over and removing Sam's hair from her nephew's hand. "I'm so sorry," she continued apologetically. "He's in the hair pulling stage." Sam flipped her hair behind both of her shoulders and smiled, the more feminine version of the typically goofy Mulder grin gracing her face.

"It's okay. I've got three boys who went through the same stage." Mulder shook his head.

"I can't believe you've got three boys, Sam. I'm an Uncle," he said. His sister smiled at him, and said,

"You'll love them, Fox . They're all just like you."

"Oh Lord," Scully muttered. Mulder shot her a look.

"Hey!" he exclaimed. "You don't seem to think I'm so terrible when you're calling out my name..." Sam's eyebrows shot up to her hairline, and she fought back a giggle as Scully clapped her hand over Mulder's mouth.

"Shut up!" In a fit of un-Scullylike action, she then punched him in the arm repeatedly as she pounced on him as well as a pregnant woman *can* pounce. He grabbed both of her wrists, and the two proceeded to wrestle on the couch in their Apartment as Samantha watched in amusement, and Will sat enthralled on her lap, clapping his hands.

"And that, my little William, is one crazy way your Mom and Dad have of showing how much they love each other," she said, kissing her nephew on the head.

The battle ended when Mulder continually tickled Scully's ribs until she gasped out, "Uncle! Uncle!" between giggles. Sam marveled at the brother she'd just become reacquainted with, and Scully, whom she'd just met. After spending just an hour with the two, she could tell that they truly did love one another.

"I'm sorry, Sam," Mulder offered. "We got a little carried away." His sister grinned at him, and said, "It's alright, Fox . It's just so wonderful to see you."

"How did you end up here?" Mulder queried. "There was never a clue as to where you wound up." Sighing, Samantha handed Will over to Mulder before beginning her story.

"After my initial abduction by the men in the government, I lived with the Smoking Man and his family. He tried to convince me that any memories I had of my family were implanted. I knew it was wrong. I knew that no matter what they did to try to make me forget, or to disbelieve my own memories, that there was still something there. I remembered having a brother, and it was one of the few things I held onto." A lone tear slid down Mulder's cheek, and he reached for his sister's hand. She gave his a gentle squeeze and continued.

"They did the tests on me for four years after they took me from the house. I ran away the summer of the year I turned twelve. A trucker picked me up on the highway, and after seeing my scars took me to a center for battered women and children. From then on I was placed in foster care.

"I graduated from high school in St. Paul, Minnesota, and went to college there too. I studied Biology and Chemistry in hopes of becoming a biochemist. I was contacted about six years back about the Underground, and that was when I came here. The project was just in its earliest stages, and I was one of the 'founding fathers' so to speak. I had some memory of the things that the Syndicate talked about when they thought I was asleep, and my knowledge of those things helped to build the Underground and increase its defenses."

"I'm so sorry that you had to go through that, Sam," Mulder said, his eyes downcast. "I can't tell you how many times I wished it had been me and not you, seeing how it hurt Mom and Dad..."

"No." Samantha clamped a hand down on her brother's shoulder. "No, Fox . I would never wish that it had been you. I made it out alive, and I'm here and healthy. I hated Dad for letting Them take me, but I never hated you for getting to stay. I never hated you," she reiterated. Their eyes locked, and Scully suddenly felt like an intruder. She rose up off the couch with Will in her arms, muttering something about feeding him.

Mulder's eyes dropped, and he felt on the verge of tears again. There were so many emotions affecting him. His sister was back, and it really *was* her this time. He overjoyed that she was back, alive and well, but he also felt guilty that he had given up hope that she was still alive. He also felt angry for all that she had gone through, and he was determined to make those men hurt just as badly as his sister had, and as badly as Scully had. He wanted to make Them pay for taking his sister away, and for making him believe she was dead. He wanted to make Them pay for taking Scully from him, giving her cancer and nearly killing her. He wanted to make Them pay for making him miss out on six months of his life and Scully's first pregnancy, and for making his family have to run and hide. He wasn't going to give up until those men received what was coming to them.

Two weeks later...

Scully was dreaming.

"Mom!" Rhiannon shouted her name.

"What is it, Rhiannon?" she turned to find her daughter staggering about, as if she was having a hard time breathing. She was clutching her chest. Scully ran to her, and clutched the girl's shoulders. "What's wrong?!"

"The magnetite. I can't breathe..."

"But we're home! We're not anywhere near the magnetite!" Scully shouted, trying to make sense of her dream. 'Where are you brothers and sister?"

"Gone. They're gone. It's Dad's fault! He never should've left!!" In shock, and very confused, Scully opened her mouth to ask a question of her daughter, but the girl gasped once more and then turned into dust before blowing away.

"No!" Scully shouted, dropping to her knees. "No!!!!"

She gasped, and sat straight up in bed, covered in a cold sweat and unable to shake the uneasy feeling caused by her dream. She tried to stop hyperventilating, and was surprised that Mulder didn't wake when she did. Looking to her right, she found that he was not in the bed. The baby monitor on her side of the bed registered no activity in Will's room, and she climbed out of the bed, and went in search of him. Her heart was pounding. Bits and pieces of her dream were coming back to her when she couldn't find Mulder anywhere.

"It's Dad's fault! He never should've left!"

"Gone. They're all gone..."

"Dad's fault..."

"They're all gone..."

Her frantic search of the entire Apartment left no signs of Mulder, and she ran into the living room and threw open the door, rushing down the hall to the Apartment John Doggett shared with Monica. She pounded on the door loudly, and incessantly until it opened beneath her hands. John's face registered immediate concern at the sight of the tears running down her cheeks.

"What is it, Dana?" he asked. Monica appeared moments later, appearing to be still in the throes of sleep.

"Mulder's gone..." she rasped out, fighting the urge to sob.

"What?!" Monica asked.

"I woke up, and he wasn't in bed. He's not in the Apartment, and his jacket and keys are gone..." she said, managing to regain some of her composure. Monica appeared in shock, but to Scully's surprise, John did not.

"Do you have any idea where he might've gone?" Monica queried, looking concerned.

"No," Scully replied, running her hand over her face. Her eyes met John's, and he avoided her gaze. "John, do you know something? Because if you do, you need to tell me."

"Mulder's goin' above ground..." Scully and Monica's jaws dropped simultaneously.

"What?! Where did he go?" John looked increasingly uncomfortable.

"He didn't say exactly where, but he said he had to go. He was heading up the West Coast. To Washington state, I think."

"Damn it! How could you let him go?!" Scully questioned, furious. "He could get himself killed! He's in danger being anywhere in the public eye! We don't know who the Syndicate has working for them."

"He was angry, Dana. He said he had to go make the men who hurt you and his sister pay for what they did."

"Why couldn't he just leave it alone? He's got his sister back, and I've clearly had my ability to conceive returned to me. We're all here and healthy, as is he... He's going to get himself killed," she said, pacing back and forth in front of the open doorway. "I'm going to find him."

"No, Dana. You can't. You'll be endangering your life, and your baby's," Monica protested.

With a fire in her eyes Scully replied, "Well then, come with me, because I'm going to find Mulder. I won't lose him again."

- Scully,

I've gone above ground to take care of some things. Don't worry about me. Just take care of Will, yourself and the baby. I should be back in a few weeks, but in the event that I don't return...

Scully closed her eyes and folded the note up. She couldn't bear to read his words again. She didn't want to think about what would happen if he died. It had already happened to her once, and she couldn't deal with it again. Sighing, she closed her eyes and let her head fall back onto her headrest. She was anxious, and the baby could feel it, and hadn't stopped moving around since the night before.

"Hey, I got us some chocolate," Monica said, smiling at Scully. The smile Scully attempted to return died on her lips, however, and she closed her eyes, running a hand over her belly in circles. A tear slid down her cheek, and she found herself wrapped up in Monica's embrace.

"Dana, we'll find him," she said, quietly. "I know we will."

"I'd like to be alone, please, Monica," Scully said, quietly. Nodding, Monica stepped back and left the train compartment, closing the door behind her. She found Skinner and Doggett in the next compartment, and she closed the door forcefully, causing them both to look up.

"What is it, Mon?" Doggett asked. Monica was enraged.

"How can he do this to her?! He has no idea what kinds of pain he's putting her through, by leaving her like this! Over and over again, he leaves Scully, and she waits for him. She worries for him, she defends him. I can't believe he would do this to her if he loves her so much!" she exclaimed. John rose to his feet, and approached Monica carefully, putting his hands on her shoulders. As soon as his eyes met hers, and he said,

"Are you alright?" Her face crumpled, and she clung to him, her tears falling. "What's going on here, Monica? This is about more than just Mulder and Scully, isn't it?" She nodded into his shoulder.

"Everything that Dana's going through right now takes me back to being with my parents. I was three when they adopted me, and my first conscious memory is the two of them fighting. It always seemed like he was leaving; he'd be gone for days, and my mother would be miserable. He always left her, without so much as a word, and this is what Mulder's doing to Dana... I can't stand it," she concluded tiredly. She turned and left the compartment. Skinner rose to his feet and looked at Doggett, who was left without a word.

Scully jerked awake as she felt the train slowing beneath her. Across from her, Monica was still asleep. Reaching over, Scully shook her shoulder.

"Wake up, Mon. We're almost at the Station." Sleepily, she opened her eyes and stretched. "I thought you'd be with John and Skinner." She raised her eyebrow in Monica's direction as her friend pulled her overnight back from the overhead compartment.

"They went for a walk through the train, and I didn't want to be in there by myself," she replied. The train jerked and several items fell out of Monica's open bag. Scully slid off the seat to help her clean them up, and she and Monica both reached for a small, square black velvet box at the same time. Her eyes doubled in size.

"Oh my God, Monica Alejandra Reyes, John Doggett proposed to you and you didn't tell me?!" Monica sighed and sat back on her heels, taking the box from her friend and opening it. A decent sized diamond was nestled between two amethyst stones in the gold band. "Wow," Scully muttered, and then paused. "Why aren't you wearing it?"

"I haven't answered him yet."

"Why? If you don't mind my asking?" Scully queried, straightening up and easing her heavily pregnant body back into her seat.

Monica resumed her seat across from Scully, and said, "I don't know if I want marriage. The only marriages I've ever been witness to have fallen into terrible pieces. My mother and father, my friends from college, my sister... I don't want the same thing to happen to me and John..." She paused. "You and Mulder are happier just being together than any married couple I've ever known..." Scully laughed.

"You can't base anything on the relationship I have with Mulder. We had seven years of foreplay before we even kissed. We may as well be married. In our opinions, we have been married for about eight years now. If he's what you want, Mon. Say yes. Don't wait too long, or he might ditch you..." Monica laughed at the reference to Mulder's infamous "Scully- ditches'.

"Thanks, Dana. I have to find John and answer his question."

As Scully stepped down off of the train, she was paying more attention to John who had gathered Monica up in his arms and spun her around in a circle after sliding the ring on her finger.

She felt a hand on her arm, guiding her down the steps, and said, "Thank you." She looked over, expecting to see Skinner with his arms extended. When her eyes locked with those of the man who offered his assistance to her, she gasped.

"You..." she said simply, floundering for the correct words, "But you were dead."

"Well, Agent Scully, it would appear that you are mistaken. I am here, and I am very much alive." Scully looked around to see if Skinner was witnessing this, but he was halfway across the platform, occupied with luggage and Agents Doggett and Reyes. She turned back to the man who stood before her, and he pulled up his sleeve to check his watch. "We must hurry. Tell your companions that you have business to attend to, and that you will meet them back at your hotel for dinner."

"Why should I trust you?" she asked, crossing her arms. "You've always been a part of the group of men who have tried many times to bring Mulder and myself to our ends."

"I helped Agent Mulder to help you once, and now it is your turn to help him, before he gets himself killed."

Her eyes locked with those of the Well- Manicured Man, and she queried, "How do you know that I'm here for Mulder?" He laughed.

"Please, Agent Scully, as if you would travel to Seattle with AD Skinner and those two other agents on the premise of anything else." She felt the anger rising up in her chest.

"Why offer your help? What do you gain?" His eyes locked with hers again.

"I am no longer associated with those men, if that is what you are wondering. And I gain nothing, but I'm tired of seeing so many suffer at the hands of men who are losing their battle with Colonization," the Well-Manicured Man replied. Scully's eyebrow was creeping up her forehead again. "Go tell them that you have business to attend to, or I can disappear just as mysteriously as I came, and leave you with nothing."

"What do I tell Skinner?" she asked, touching her cross out of habit.

"Tell him that you have things to attend to," he replied, gesturing to her cross.

She understood what he meant, and said, "I'll be right back." She turned and walked over to Skinner. "Sir?"

"Yes, Scully?"

"I'll meet you, Monica and John at the hotel. I have some things I'd like to attend to before we start looking for Mulder," she said, doing her best to meet his eyes as she spoke to him.

"Things?" he queried, setting her bag down. She reached up and touched her cross.

"Yes, things. I haven't been to church in a long time, and I'd like to--" Skinner cut her off.

"Go ahead. Would you like someone to go with you?" She adamantly shook her head.

"No, Sir. I'll be fine on my own. I have your cell phone number if I need anything." With that, Skinner joined Doggett and Reyes again, and Scully watched as he explained to them what was going on, and they left.

Sighing with relief, Scully turned and walked back across the platform to where the Well-Manicured Man was standing. Her instinct was normally to follow Mulder's advice of "trust no one", but something inside told her to place her trust in this man. Mulder had trusted him once, and he ended up saving her life with this man's information. Her mind was working overtime to try to process the goings- on, and the fact that this man was seemingly back from the dead was not helping matters. Although, she thought with slight amusement, it wasn't the first time she'd had to deal with that.

"Shall we?" Her eyes trained on the elderly man beside her, who gestured to a black sedan parked at the curb just on the other side of the platform. His driver opened the door and Well-Manicured Man aided Scully as she climbed into the back seat of the car.

"Thank you," she said, still not totally sure what to make of this man.

"I understand your hesitation to trust me. Agent Mulder showed the same hesitation four years ago, but he trusted me, and he saved your life, did he not?"

"Yes, he did save my life," she replied simply, instinctively running her hand over her abdomen in a futile attempt to calm Rhiannon's kicking.

"I've come to you now so that you can do the same for him. If you do not intervene, Mulder will surely get himself killed. If you're willing, I'll help you to save him." He sipped the glass of wine that had been resting in the cup holder just beside him.

"Of course I want to save him. I want him to come home safe."

"Would you like to have something to drink, Scully?" he asked. She shook her head.

"No thank you. I'm fine."

She reached up and held the cross she wore around her neck, wishing for the uneasy feeling to go away.

In a stereotypically dingy motel room, just outside the hustle and bustle of Seattle, Mulder sat before his laptop, formulating his plan. Ever since his first heart-to-heart with Samantha, he had been devising ways to kill the men who had hurt his family. With assistance from the hacking skills of the Gunmen, who had thoroughly protested his acting in retaliation, Mulder found clues which led him to believe that the remaining members of the Syndicate were operating out of Seattle, Washington, in the area surrounding the Space Needle. His own research led him to an abandoned Warehouse two blocks from the popular tourist site, where he believed the men were congregating. Busily studying blueprints of the Warehouse in question, didn't notice the girl standing beside him until she spoke.

"Why are you doing this?" He jumped to a standing position and plucked his gun from beside him and spun to face her, pointing it in her face.

When he realized who had spoken to him, he lowered his weapon and said, "Don't do that, Rhiannon." His tone was gruff and low, and there was a danger in his eyes that his daughter had never seen before, and it frightened her.

"Why are you doing this?" she asked again, her voice shaky.

"You wouldn't understand," Mulder replied, turning back to his computer.

"You're going to get yourself killed," Rhiannon said and paused, fearing his reaction.

"How do you know that?! How are you so totally sure of that, Rhiannon?!" he practically yelled, keeping his face just inches from hers.

"Because it's happened this way before," she said, quietly. His eyebrows went up, and his expression softened.

"What do you mean, 'it's happened this way before'?" he asked. "What do you know that you're not saying?" Looking down at the floor, Rhiannon was nervous about her reply.

"This outreach attempt was not my first. I came once before this to try to save the future, before Mom was pregnant with me. Just after you returned. You did what you're doing now. After you met up with Samantha again, you set out for revenge. You were captured, and so was Mom. They used the three of you to aid the Apocalypse."

"Why don't I remember this? If you came once before, shouldn't I remember it?" Mulder asked. Rhiannon shook her head.

"It's difficult to explain. The world as we know it came to an end. I once again met the fate that I came to you in the desert trying to avoid. You don't remember it because it was a different world. I had hoped you would choose a different path if I came later, but you haven't. You're damning the world again, but this time, more is at stake." Mulder looked at her in alarm.

"How am I damning the world by killing the men who remain in the Syndicate?"

"When you left the Underground to seek revenge, Mom got the same information from Uncle Melvin, Uncle Ringo and Uncle John that you used to find these men... except she's using it to find you. But if you don't stop looking for these men, you're going to get caught, and Mom's going to get caught too. And then it will lead to the destruction of everything that you're trying to save by working in the Underground."

"So you're telling me that Scully came looking for me even though I told her not to?" Rhiannon nodded.

"And she brought Grandpa Walter, Uncle John and Aunt Monica with her. You have to find her, Dad. Find them and get them back to the Underground. Please, you have to trust me. You've trusted me before, Dad, and I really need you to believe in me now."

"What do I do?"

"Stay here. Mom will come to you," she replied. Mulder nodded. "Dad, there's one more thing. I don't know if I'll be able to come see you guys again, so I want you to have this."

She handed Mulder a photograph, and said, "It's always been my favorite." Mulder studied the picture in his hand. It was obviously a Christmas picture, and he was sitting on the floor beside Scully, who had a three-year-old Will and an eighteen month-old Rhiannon in her lap, and they were all laughing over something. He had only ever seen Scully laugh like that once, when he had successfully (or so he believed) diapered their two day-old son, and lifted the baby up to show Scully, only to find that the diaper was on backwards. "That was the Christmas before the twins were born; the last semi-normal one we ever had. Grandma Maggie took the picture. By that time you and Mom had gotten Will back, but the Syndicate had his DNA, and they were working on the final stages of the Project. Life went to Hell that summer."

Mulder wrapped his arms around his daughter, and said, "Take care of yourself and thank you."

"Bye, Dad. I love you."

"I love you too, Rhiannon."

And with that, she walked out the door and was gone.

"Excuse me," Scully said, approaching the reception desk in the motel. The tall young man behind the desk turned his attention from the television before him to the distraught-looking redhead.

"Yes, Ma'am?"

"I'm looking for a man. He would've checked into his room late last night or early this morning." She reached into her wallet and pulled out a picture of Mulder. The young man, his name tag read 'Joe', shook his head.

"If he's here, he came in before my shift started. If you have a name, I could see if he registered."

Scully thought for a moment, and then said, "Rob Petri."

Joe flipped through the registration book, and stopped.

"Aha," he said, showing the book to Scully, and pointing to the pseudonym written in Mulder's characteristic scrawl. "Room 16."

"Thank you," Scully said, and looked behind her to where WMM stood. He nodded to her, as if to assure her that he would be fine. She walked out of the office and down to Room 16. She waited a moment before knocking firmly on the door.

Mulder's attention was drawn from his packing to his door, which was being insistently knocked upon. He rose to his feet, and pocketed the picture Rhiannon had given him before opening the door. Scully's trench-coated figure practically fell into his arms.

"Mulder!" she exclaimed, wrapping her arms around him. He pulled her inside and closed the door. "How could you leave like that?!" she said, glaring at him. "Do you know how much it scared me to wake up to an empty bed?"

"I never should've left," he said. "But I was angry, and I wanted to make those men pay for all the wrongs they have done onto us."

"Mulder, I know that those men have hurt us in the past, but we're okay now. My cancer is gone, your sister is back, and I've clearly had my ability to conceive returned to me. I know you're angry because you missed 2/3 of my first pregnancy, and that you couldn't protect me from my abduction, or save your sister, but we're all back. We're together again. We have one another, a healthy family, and we're saving the world. Come home, Mulder. Come home, please."

"I'm doing just that Scully, as soon as you tell me how you knew which motel I was in..."

"You're not going to believe this, Mulder, but the Well-Manicured Man came to me. He told me which motel you were staying in." Mulder regarded her with alarm.

"Scully, Well-Manicured Man is dead. I watched his car explode before I came to save you in Antarctica."

"No, really, as crazy as it sounds, he's alive somehow. He helped me to find you. He said he did it because he helped you save me once, and he wanted to allow me to return the favor. He's waiting in the lobby. Come with me; I'll show you," Scully said, taking him by the hand. The two speed-walked back to the office/lobby, but there was no sign of WMM. Scully looked around frantically and stepped up to the desk.

"Excuse me?" Joe looked up.


"Did you see where the man went? The one who came in with me?" Joe raised his eyebrows.

"Ma'am, not to be rude, but no one came in with you..."

"There was an older gentleman, wearing a suit. Gray hair, about five eight..." Joe shook his head.

"No ma'am. I never saw that man." Scully quietly thanked him, and left the office.

"I don't understand it, Mulder. He was here. He met me at the train station, and helped me. God, Mulder, I swear to God he was real..."

"I believe you, Scully. The Well-Manicured Man is as real to us as Rhiannon is. He exists... we just can't explain it," Mulder replied.

"So you think that just like Rhiannon came to us from the future, Well-Manicured Man came to us from the past?" Scully queried.

He nodded, and then said, "I'm almost done packing, and then we'll go get Skinner, Doggett and Reyes and get the hell out of here. Rhiannon warned me to leave, and I intend to."

"Sounds like a plan," Scully replied, stepping into the motel room behind Mulder and closing the door. "I want to go home."

Two weeks later

"...And Sam and Andrew want us to come over tomorrow for dinner," Mulder said, talking to Scully as he stood over the sink shaving.

She turned off the water in the shower and stuck her arm out and said, "Hand me my robe please." He pulled the vanilla-colored terrycloth robe off of the hook beside him and handed it to her. She pulled it on and stepped out of the shower, blotting her hair dry with a towel, thinking about how nice it was to be able to sleep in on Saturday mornings, and not shower until nearly eleven. "That's great," she said. "I really want to meet Andrew. He was the other armed guard who confronted us the first day we came here." He nodded, and rinsed his razor off, and took Scully's towel from her, using it to dry off his face.

"Hey!" she exclaimed indignantly, and playfully slapped his arm. He smiled and surprised Scully by wrapping his arms around her and drawing her body into his. His lips descended on hers, and the two kissed deeply for a number of moments. When they pulled apart, Mulder looked at her, still slightly out of breath, and said,

"Who says Folgers is the best part of waking up?" Scully laughed and traced Mulder's lips with her index finger, rising up on her toes to meet his lips again. She smiled as she thought of the one thing she did that drove Mulder absolutely crazy when she kissed him, and then acted on it. She pulled back when she ran out of breath, and he looked at her, a wild look in his eyes.

"You did that thing..." he said, apparently rendered nearly speechless.

"Mmhmm," Scully mumbled, raising her eyebrow.

"I like that thing," he said, and reached down to untie her robe as he kissed her again.

"Mulder," she protested. "We can't. I have to leave for my mom's in an hour for lunch, and I'm too big..." With each kiss he placed on her exposed flesh, she lost more and more of her valor.

"We have an hour, Scully. And there are ways to work around that second part..." he said, quietly. "And either way, you started it."

"Hi, Mom," Scully said as her mother opened the door to her Apartment. Maggie smiled and ushered her daughter inside, offering a hug.

"Hi, sweetheart."

Scully offered her mother a tight-lipped smile, and asked, "How are you?" Maggie shrugged her shoulders, and smiled.

"I'm adjusting. It's very nice here," she replied. "How about something to drink?"

"I'll get it," Scully said, and headed into the kitchen.

"No, Dana, it's alright. I'll get it. Why don't you go sit down in the living room?" Maggie wandered into the kitchen and got the pitcher of iced tea out of the refrigerator and filled two glasses. She returned to the living room to find her daughter staring off into space.

"Dana, what's wrong?" she asked sitting down beside her.

"I don't know," Scully replied, quietly. She sighed and took a breath before speaking again. "I don't know if it's hormones or if I'm imagining it, but I get the feeling that Mulder doesn't want to take the next step." Maggie raised her eyebrows and felt her heart sink as she watched her daughter's eyes fill with tears.

"What do you mean, sweetheart?" she asked gently, covering her daughter's hand with her own.

"Monica and John got engaged, and Mulder and I have been together for so much longer than they have... and he shows no interest in getting married. For God's sake, we have a son together, and a daughter on the way. I just feel like he doesn't want a commitment. As cliche as it sounds, I want to be Mrs. Fox Mulder, and have a house with a white picket fence and a dog. I don't have to have a fancy wedding, a few witnesses and the Justice of the Peace would be fine, but I want to be Mulder's wife, not just the mother of his children, or his girlfriend, or his partner. Am I being selfish, Mom? Am I being ridiculous?"

Maggie shook her head. "Oh Dana, of course not! It's perfectly acceptable for you to want these things, but you need to tell Fox this, not me." Scully nodded, and wiped her eyes. "Now, sweetheart," Maggie said, smiling at her daughter. "I think we could both use some fresh air."

"If by 'fresh' you mean piped in from above ground," Scully replied, and smiled at her mother. "Can we go to C.C.'s?"

"Of course," Maggie replied. "I'll get my coat."

The two women seated themselves at a table in C.C.'s Cafe, and Maggie slipped off her coat, and then said, "Excuse me, sweetheart, I have to use the restroom." Scully nodded and picked the menu up off the table and studied it, deciding what she wanted for lunch.

"Chicken Caesar salad... sounds pretty good to me. How about you, Rhiannon?" The baby kicked her twice in response to her voice, and she smiled.

"Excuse me, miss, are you ready to order?"

Setting her menu down, Scully said, "I was actually waiting for my mother t--" She began, but then stopped when she saw who her waiter was. "Mulder?!" He stood beside her wearing a C.C.'s Cafe" shirt, and carrying a notepad. "What the hell are you doing?"

"Didn't I tell you that I took a second job?" he replied, leaning down to kiss her. "Hi there, Rhiannon," he said, placing a hand on her belly. The baby kicked at him.

"What's this all about, Mulder?" Scully asked, regarding him curiously.

He smiled at her and said, "Oh my, Miss Scully, I do believe there's something on your table." Scully had to work hard to keep her jaw from dropping as he jumped up on her table and pointed across the cafe.

"Hit it, Fernando."

One of the other waiters muttered, "It's Bryan," before pressing the 'play' button on a CD player. She turned an incredible shade of crimson as he plucked the sugar dispenser from the table and used it as a microphone. The first few chords of "I Think I Love You" played, and she watched in horror as he started to sing.

"Do you think you love me.....? Ooo we!


"Oh my God," Scully muttered, burying her face in her hands. Mulder grinned at her and continued to sing.

I'm sleeping
And right in the middle of a good dream
Then all at once I wake up
From something that keeps knocking at my brain
Before I go insane
I hold my pillow to my head
And spring up in my bed
Screaming out the words I dread ....
'I think I love you!'

With that, he took her hand in his and pulled her to her feet. She could feel her neck and ears burning, and couldn't even look around, because she knew all of the customers in the restaurant were watching them.

This morning, I woke up with this feeling
I didn't know how to deal with
And so I just decided to myself
I'd hide it to myself
And never talk about it
And did not go and shout it
When you walked into the room .....
'I think I love you!'

With that, he dropped to his knees, and his eyes met Scully's as he still held onto her hand.

I think I love you
So what am I so afraid of?
I'm afraid that I'm not sure of
A love there is no cure for

I think I love you
Isn't that what life is made of?
Though it worries me to say
I've never felt this way.

He climbed down off the table, and set his sugar dispenser down, so he could spin Scully with his free hand. She smiled at him when he pulled her close and danced with her around the cafe. As mortally embarrassing as the whole spectacle was, she found it touching, and she laughed as Mulder dipped her deeply.

Believe me
You really don't have to worry
I only want to make you happy
And if you say
Hey, go away, I will...

But I think better still
I'd better stay around and love you
Do you think I have a case?
Let me ask you to your face
Do you think you love me?"

His face was inches from hers as he asked, "Do you think you love me, Scully?"

She smiled and replied, "Yes, I think I love you, Mulder."

I think I love you
So what am I so afraid of?
I'm afraid that I'm not sure of
A love there is no cure for

I think I love you
Isn't that what life is made of?
Though it worries me to say
I've never felt this way.

I don't know what I'm up against
I don't know what it's all about
I've go so much to think about
Hey! I think I love you!
So what am I so afraid of?
I'm afraid that I'm not sure of
A love there is no cure for

I think I love you
Isn't that what life is made of?
Though it worries me to say
I've never felt this way...

The music ended, and Mulder kissed Scully chastely before releasing her, and then dropping down on one knee in front of her. All of the crimson color drained from her cheeks, and she studied him in shock.

"Mulder..." He smiled up at her and pulled the velvet box from his pocket.

"So Scully, what do you think? Do you think I have a case?" She was too stunned to speak and could only nod. "Then I guess my next question for you, Dana Katherine Scully, as belated as it may be, would have to be this one... Will you marry me?" A tear slid down her cheek, and then an enormous smile graced her face as she nodded emphatically and replied,

"Yes, Mulder, I will marry you!"

Two Months Later

The Christmas spirit was in overabundance at Clementine's, the biggest restaurant in the Underground, and with good reason. Dr. Bailey had announced the week before that the vaccine was ready for worldwide Distribution, in the inoculate form and the atomizer form. Scully, Mulder and William had been immunized, and through Scully's immunization, Rhiannon was immunized as well. The rest of the "Fighters", as the researchers still preferred to be called, has also been immunized. Dr. Bailey had informed them all that if everything went according to plan, they would be above ground before Christmas 2003.

As Mulder spun Scully on the dance floor, she was glad that he appeared to have forgotten the date for a moment. She knew that it was nearly midnight on December 21, but he didn't seem to remember. She was grateful, because since she entered her ninth month, he had been babying her. It got worse with every day that she grew closer to her due date.

The tempo of the music slowed, and Scully wrapped her arms around her husband's neck, and smiled at the thought. Mulder was her husband. He rested his hands on her hips, and she let her head rest on his chest. Though she wasn't going to admit it to Mulder, she was downright exhausted. She also wouldn't admit to him that she'd been having mild, irregular contractions for the past six hours. She knew her body, and that this was the earliest stage of labor, and it would take much longer than it had with William.

"Excuse me, Mr. Mulder; may I borrow your lovely wife for a dance?" Both Mulder and Scully looked up to see Skinner standing beside them.

"As long as you don't mind if I borrow the lovely Margaret for a dance as well," Mulder replied.

The two men switched dance partners, and Skinner said, "How're you feeling?" She smiled.

"I'm fine. I'm just a little tired, but it comes with the territory," she replied, watching Monica and John dancing across the floor from them.

"Your mother checks her pager about every five seconds, you know. She's been anticipating the birth of her granddaughter since you hit the 32 week mark." The two of them laughed. "When are you due?"

"My OB says Christmas Day," she replied. "Sir, I..."

"Please, Dana. I know old habits die hard, but we're out of the FBI. Please call me Walter," he interrupted.

"Well...Walter..." she paused. That was going to take some getting used to. "I wanted to tell you that I hope that you and my mother are happy. I mean, she certainly seems to be, and I..." She stopped abruptly, and Skinner looked at her, feeling perplexed.

"And you what?"

"I'm really sorry about your shoes..." He raised his eyebrows at her.

"What do you mean?"

"My water just broke all over them," she said, a grimace crossing her face. They both looked down, and Scully found that she was standing in a puddle of brownish-tinged fluid, which had dampened her dress, Skinner's shoes, and the floor.

"Wait... your water..." his eyes widened substantially as he realized what that meant. "Oh God... that means you're having the baby..." She nodded, and glanced at her watch. 12:01 a.m.

"Right on schedule, Rhiannon," she muttered under her breath. To Skinner, she said, "Can you get my husband please? I'm going to need a hospital." In the lull between contractions, Scully remained standing as Skinner ran over to Mulder, whose eyes widened to approximately three times their normal size, and Maggie's did the same as they both came toward her. Doggett grabbed Skinner's arm, and he explained to Doggett and Reyes the situation. She could read clearly read Mulder's expression as he hurried toward her: total and utter panic.

"Your water broke?" he asked, hands on her shoulders. She nodded.


"So you're having the baby?"


"So then we should get you to the hospital...?" Scully grasped his hands in hers.

"That's right. The contractions are strong too, so we should go now..." She was doing her best to remain calm; because one of them had to be, and it certainly wasn't going to be Mulder.

"Oh, Dana, is this it? Are you sure? How far apart are the contractions? Do you need a cab?"

Scully turned to face her mother, and said, "Yes. Yes. I haven't gotten to time them yet. No."

Mulder helped Scully into her coat and out to the car, before jumping in the driver's seat as she lowered herself in the passenger seat. Grimacing she let out a low moan and looked at her watch.

"Five minutes. They're five minutes apart," she said through gritted teeth as Mulder rapidly piloted the fifteen blocks to the hospital. "Mulder, slow down. You're going to get us killed." She reached over and grabbed his hand. "We're okay. We have time before the baby comes; just drive slowly, please."

Pulling into the parking lot, Mulder found the nearest open spot, and parked the car. He popped the trunk and got Scully's bag before returning to her side of the car to help her out.

"Are you okay to walk?" he asked, throwing the strap of her hospital bag over his arm. "Because I can carry you if you aren't..." She shook her head vehemently.

"I'm fine. Let's just get inside; I'd prefer not to give birth in the parking lot," she snapped. Mulder cringed, and she took his hand in hers and looked into his eyes. "Sorry. I'm a pain in the ass when I'm in pain..." Her husband nodded, and they walked through the automatic doors into the hospital.

Scully didn't remember having this much pain with William, but perhaps she had been too frightened then. The adrenaline coursing through her veins had accelerated the entire process, as had her fear. At the moment, she couldn't remember why she had refused the epidural.

"Dana...not to be a jerk, but I can't feel my fingers... Can we switch hands?" Mulder asked, wincing. Scully shot him a Death Look as she breathed through an intense contraction, and then released his hand.

"Hello, Dana," Dr. Glass, Scully's obstetrician said, as he entered the room. "How're you feeling?"

"Like I'm at a day spa... how do you think I feel, Robert?!"

"Alright, alright. Stupid question," he replied, pulling on a pair of gloves. "Let me check how far you're dilated, and then we'll see if you can push or not, okay?" Scully grumbled something rather impolite under her breath, and the doctor performed his examination. "Well, you're at ten centimeters. Just give me a minute to go get scrubbed up and you can push."

"Oh wonderful," Scully spat. She noticed that Mulder had gotten up out of his chair, and she said, "Where're you going?!"

"Well..." he began uncertainly. "I didn't think you'd want me in here when you have to push..." Her eyebrow went higher than he had ever seen it.

"Oh God, Mulder. I'm being such a bitch. I really am sorry. But yes, I would like for you to stay with me. I had wanted so badly for you to be there with me when I gave birth to William... I need you here with me no--ow, ow..." The sentiment was cut off by a contraction, and Mulder offered his uninjured hand, and mopped her forehead with the cool, damp cloth. He watched as the line on the monitor declined and said,

"It's almost over, sweetheart. There you go... it's over. Take a breather." Scully smiled at him, actually smiled, and abruptly pulled him in, with her hand at the back of his head, and kissed him.

"That's what got you two into this whole situation," Dr. Glass said as he entered the room, flanked by Nurse Sanders and Nurse Lopez.

Thirty minutes later, Maggie and Monica watched with smiles as Skinner and Doggett paced back and forth in front of them. William slept in his grandmother's lap, and she was anxious to meet her new granddaughter. The loud squall of a newborn brought them all to attention and the two women rose to their feet as the men both froze in place.

Inside the delivery room, the doctor wrapped the tiny child in a blanket and handed her to her mother.

"Oh God, Mulder," Scully said, quietly. "Look at how beautiful she is." Rhiannon's head was covered with a thin layer of fine brown curls. Her eyes were a shocking shade of blue, and she had inherited her mother's nose. She was truly beautiful. The baby yawned widely and closed her eyes, almost immediately dropping off to sleep.

Mulder studied his daughter in awe, and quietly said, "Welcome to the world, Rhiannon Danielle Mulder."

In the eyes of their child, he saw a promise of a brighter future.

-the end-


Scully woke as Mulder rolled over and the weight of his arm fell over her. She smiled as he instinctively tightened his grip around her waist, drawing her into the warm cocoon his body made. The light which streamed in through the window illuminated her beside table, and she could see the pictures which rested there. She smiled at the sight of a picture from their first Christmas above ground, which sat beside the one Rhiannon had given him. The two were nearly identical, except that in the one not given to them by Rhiannon, Mulder looked ready to pass out, and she was laughing hysterically after breaking the news to him that she was pregnant. She had a hard time believing that that was four years ago.

Gently, so she did not wake Mulder, she slid out of bed, and felt the cool hardwood floor beneath her feet. She smiled at the sight of him, his bare shoulders sticking out from under the comforter. It amazed her that as much body heat as he generated, his feet were always ice cold. She kissed his shoulder blade before stepping out into the hallway.

On her way to the staircase she passed the bedrooms of her four children, and paused to check on each.

Rhiannon's room was nearest the master bedroom. The five year-old slept peacefully, her arms wrapped around her stuffed alien-- a first birthday gift from her Uncles Ringo, John and Melvin. The little girl's deep auburn hair had turned brown before she could walk, and she wore it in long curls. Smiling, Scully knelt beside her bed and gently kissed her forehead before leaving the room.

She found herself next in the room that the twins shared. Wading through the pile of toys that they left in the middle of their room, she stood before their bunk beds and watched them as they slept. Jack and James, like Will, were carbon copies of their father, from their unruly hair right down to their big feet. The only things it seemed they got from her were their eyes and the light dusting of freckles they had on their noses and cheeks. She rose up on her tiptoes to cover Jack with the blanket he kicked off in his sleep, and then knelt down to cover James with his. Blowing them both kisses she left the room, closing the door quietly behind her.

Lastly, she came to Will's room. She lingered for a long time, watching her firstborn sleep. He was her first miracle, and certainly not her last. She was blessed, and she knew it, with her healthy children, a wonderful marriage and a safe, albeit interesting job. It wasn't the X-Files, but it didn't have to be. Working as the head agent in the FBI's newly formed Paranormal Science Division provided the steady predictability of a nine-to-five job without the monotony. She had a hard time believing as she watched him roll over in his sleep that he was going to be seven years old in less than two months. Pushing his hair off of his forehead, she placed a gentle kiss on it before leaving the room.

She stopped at the top of the steps, closing her eyes and waiting for the feeling of dizziness to pass. Once it had, she noiselessly descended the hardwood stairs, and found herself in the living room. The sight of the Christmas tree silhouetted against the bay window made her smile. She and Mulder had put the kids to bed at nine, and stayed up until just after midnight making all of the preparations for their chaotic Christmas morning. Moving to the kitchen, Scully pulled the pitcher from the refrigerator and filled her glass with water.

Standing in the living room, she flashed back to the first Christmas they spent in the house. They were above ground by Thanksgiving, and moved into the house on the third of December. They paid a ridiculous amount of money for their Christmas tree, because they waited until Christmas Eve day to buy. The house was in rural Georgetown, and back then it had seemed almost too big for them, with its three bathrooms, five bedrooms and office space. Of course, there were four of them back then... currently there were six. Their house had been full and nearly bursting. Her brothers and their families were there, and Samantha brought her husband and their children, her mother and A.D. Skinner came, and Monica Reyes and John Doggett were there as well, newly married. That night, it snowed heavily, and the whole lot of them was forced to spend the night until the roads were cleared. She shook her head and smiled remembering the sight of her nieces and nephews camped out on the living room floor, with Monica and John asleep in one of the recliners.

Smiling again, she thought about how Rhiannon had most definitely been right about some things in the future. There had been those that they changed by be part of the Underground. This world was definitely happier than the one that Rhiannon had spoken of, and more importantly, it was free. Their world was free. Their visitor from the future had failed to mention that Maggie Scully and Walter Skinner would end up falling for one another and get married, just as she had failed to mention that Monica and John's eldest son would have the same birth date as the twins. But they were minor discrepancies.

She knelt down and plugged in the tree. When she stood up to admire it she detected the presence of a person beside her and jumped, nearly dropping her water glass.

"Oh!" she gasped. In the dim light of the cast by the Christmas tree, she saw the familiar figure of her eldest daughter standing in the doorway. "Rhiannon?"

"Hi, Mom," the girl whispered, leaning against the doorframe.

"But I thought you couldn't come back again?"

"They made an exception for the holiday. I thought everyone would be asleep; I was just planning to look in on all of you. I'm glad you're awake." The two women smiled at one another. Scully reached out hesitantly and touched her daughter's cheek.

"I'm glad you could come," Scully replied.

"Another kid, huh?" Rhiannon said with a grin.

Scully's gaze dropped to her flat abdomen, and she raised a questioning eyebrow. "How...?"

"I keep an eye on all of you down here."

"August," Scully said. "Your father thinks it's a boy. Like we need another one in this family." Rhiannon chuckled at her dry humor.

"A girl," Rhiannon said. "Leyla, and she can't wait to meet you. She looks just like you do." Scully smiled at her, taking a sip of her water.

"Would you like to stay? I can make tea?"

"Actually, I have to go. Merry Christmas, Mom."

"Merry Christmas, Rhia." As she watched her daughter disappear before her eyes, she closed her eyes and smiled. "Thank you."

The End

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