Camp Hero by McKab

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Title: Camp Hero

Author: McKab

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Web Site: http://www.mckab.homestead.com/McKab.html

Category: Post Episode: Requiem, MSR, Mythology, Scully Angst, Mulder Torture, Original Characters (anything else?)

Rating: R

Spoilers: Basically, everything

Timeline: Starts right after Skinner leaves in Requiem

Distribution: Go right ahead, just please keep my name attached and let me know where so I can come visit

Disclaimer: I do not own Mulder, Scully and the various X-Files related people, 1013 and FOX do. I, however, own Susan Halloway and Michael O’Sullivan. I also do not have any permission to use the landmarks I will mention in this story; consider it free advertising.

Cast: Susan Halloway: Terry Farrell, Agent James Loper: Matthew Broderick, NEW Gabe Lamb: Jerry O’Connell

Summary: Scully contacts Susan Halloway and Michael O’Sullivan in hopes that they can help her find Mulder.

Start Date: August 17, 2000

Finish Date: March 31, 2002

Author’s note: This story is the second in a series where I have introduced 2 new characters. I recommend you read my first story ‘Old Friends’, or you might find yourself a little confused. Besides, it’s a pretty good read, in my opinion. You can find it at http://www.mckab.homestead.com/OldFriends.html or https://x-libris.xf-redux.com/book/old-friends/

On with the show.

Camp Hero cover

 Part 1

Day one

Corner of Route 111 and Route 25

Smithtown, NY

Parking lot of the Millennium Diner

9:08 PM

“He’s dead, Jim.”

Assistant Special Agent in Charge James Loper smiled and looked down at the woman kneeling next to the body of a postal work who had been shot in the chest and abdomen “Thank you so much, Susan, but I think that’s already been established.”

Special Agent in Charge Susan Halloway sighed and stood, brushing her hands on her black slacks. “Then why’d you call me?” she said, sounding tired. “Because protocol dictates that I contact the SAC in matters such as this,” Agent Loper stated matter-of-factly.

“Then you call me, let me know what’s going on. I didn’t have to come down here,” Susan said, annoyed.

“But,” Jim stammered, looking around the crime scene, feeling foolish for having called her.

Susan sighed, running her hands through her reddish brown hair. “Look, Jim. I’m not angry with you. I’m just tired. Mike and I are leaving for Bali tomorrow and all I want to do is get the hell out of here.”

Jim looked down. “I’m sorry.”

She shook her head. “It’s not your fault that my leave was cut short because of that asshole Williams or that this sick fuck is killing people. But, I do have to get going.”

Jim sighed and nodded reluctantly.

Susan stepped toward him slowly and rested her hand on his forearm. “Jim,” she said softly. “I have complete confidence in you. And I am not at all worried that you won’t be able to handle things while I’m gone. You just need to believe in yourself.”

He took a deep breath and nodded confidently.

Susan smiled. “Just remember that you were my choice for ASAC and I honestly feel that you are qualified for the position.” She squeezed his arm for emphasis.

Jim smiled. “Thank you, Susan.”

Her smile widened. It still sounded strange hearing him call her Susan. It took her forever to break him of that ma’am habit.

Susan nodded curtly, then started towards her car. Michael was already waiting for her, the passenger door open and the car running.

“In a bit of a hurry?” Susan asked as she approached him.

Michael smiled brightly. “Damn right I am!”

Susan chuckled, but her smile turned into a frown when her cell phone rang.

“Yeah,” she said into the receiver, slamming the car door shut.

“Susan?” a small female voice responded.

She frowned. “Yes,” she answered slowly. “This is SAC Halloway.” She paused, she knew she should recognize the voice, but she couldn’t quite place it. “Who is this?”

She heard the woman take a deep breath before she answered. “Susan, this is Dana.”

Suddenly, Susan panicked. “Dana! What’s the matter?”

At Susan’s outburst, Michael swerved, narrowly missing a car in the oncoming lane.

Scully didn’t respond right away which added to Susan’s anxiety. “Susan, I need you and Mike to come down here.”

Susan mouthed ‘Dana’ to Michael when he got the car under control.

‘What’s wrong?’ he mouthed back, sensing her distress.

Susan shook her head. “Why Dana? What happened?”

“I can’t get into it on the phone,” Scully said in a shaky voice. “But Mulder’s gone.”

“Gone? What do you mean ‘GONE’!”

“I’ll explain more when I see you,” Scully responded. Susan could hear that she was trying not to cry.

“Where are you?”

Scully hitched in a breath. “The ER in Georgetown University Hospital.”

“Oh my God, Dana, are you, is Mulder.?” She couldn’t finish the sentence.

“NO!” Scully shouted. “No, Mulder Is Not Dead!” Scully said pointedly. “And I’m OK, they’re just running some tests. When do you think you could get here?”

Susan glanced at Michael, he nodded and put his signal on. “We’ll get the next flight out.” Susan ended the call and dropped the phone into her lap. Chancing a look at Michael and seeing his disappointment, she groaned. “There goes Bali.”

***

 

10:56 AM

Residence of Susan Halloway and Michael O’Sullivan

Mattituck, NY

Michael tossed the phone on the bed, frustrated. He scrubbed his hands over his face and leaned forward, his elbows on his knees, his face hidden by his hands.

Susan walked naked out of the bathroom, followed by a cloud of steam. She lifted the towel that was wrapped around her head and started drying her hair. She looked up when she heard Michael groan.

“What’s the matter?” she asked, tossing the towel aside, just missing the hamper.

Michael looked up from his hands. “I canceled our flight to Bali, but can’t get a flight out to BWI until tomorrow morning.”

Susan sighed. “Maybe we can charter a private plane out of Mattituck Airport,” she suggested.

Michael shrugged and stood. “Get ready, I’ll be out in a minute,” he said as he pulled his shirt over his head and dropped it in the hamper, along with Susan’s towel.

“Love,” Susan said softly, just as Michael reached the bathroom door.

He stopped and turned to her, his expression blank.

She approached him, gently placing her right palm on his chest. Looking up at him, she placed her other hand on the side of his face. “I’m sorry,” she said with as much regret as she could convey, the rest she centered on her hand on his chest, hoping he understood that she was as unhappy about this as he was. “I know you were really looking forward to this trip.”

Michael took a deep breath. Covering her hand with his, he spoke, “I just wanted you get the rest you need.”

“Mike,”

“You didn’t have enough time to recover from your ordeal.”

“Mike, I’m OK.”

He smiled a bit. “I know you are,” he stopped for a second, then continued with a whine. “But I was really looking forward to making love to you on that little spot we found last time.”

Susan laughed and placed her other hand on his chest. Giving him a strong shove, she pushed him into the bathroom. “Get in the shower, you pain in the ass.”

Michael dropped his trousers and boxers revealing said ass. “You know you love my ass,” he said as he stepped into the shower. Turning quickly, he saw her smile before she walked out of his line of sight.

***

 

Mattituck Airport

Mattituck, NY

12:02 PM

Susan studied the man standing before her. He was dressed in jeans and a white uniform shirt with a patch on it stating that his name was Gus.

“Look, Lady,” he said in a thick Long Island accent. “I can’t help you.” He wiped his hands on a rag, dismissing her.

Susan glanced at Michael standing next to her, took a deep breath and stepped toward Gus. She was standing close enough to smell his gum; Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit.

She tilted her head to the side. “Gus,” she said in a low sultry voice. “Is it all right if I call you that?” She laid her hand on one of his arms that were crossed over his chest.

Michael smiled to himself.

Gus felt a tingling sensation stirring in his chest that worked it’s way outward all over his body.

He gulped and nodded.

She smiled. “We are in need of a plane,” she stated in the same tone of voice, never removing her hand.

He nodded again.

“You have a plane.”

Another nod.

“I’ll pay you fifteen hundred dollars, cash to fly us to Baltimore-Washington International Airport.”

He looked at her, his eyes unfocussed.

“You want to help us, don’t you?”

All he could do was nod.

Susan’s smiled again. “Good, now go get everything ready while we load our bags onto the plane.”

Gus stuffed the rag he was holding into his back pocket and quickly jogged to the office.

Michael chuckled and shook his head.

Susan arched an eyebrow at him.

“If the plane is called the Millennium Falcon, I’m walking to DC.”

***

 

Day One

3:13 PM

Georgetown Memorial Hospital

The rental car screeched to a halt in front of the emergency room. Susan jumped out before the car could rock back.

“GO!” Michael shouted. “I’ll park the car.”

Susan didn’t respond, she just slammed the door and ran toward the entrance.

Just then, an ambulance drove up and she was pushed aside by nurses and doctors rushing out. She tried to get as close to the wall as possible so they could pass.

They wheeled in a man who looked as if he lost a battle with Godzilla and a woman hunched over him giving him CPR.

Susan closed her eyes. They were fighting a losing battle. His body may still be alive, but his spirit was all ready gone.

She took a shuttering breath and walked determinedly toward the front desk.

She flashed her badge. “I’m Special Agent Susan Halloway. I’m here to see Dana Scully.”

The woman looked at her with a blank expression.

Susan slammed her hand down on the desk. “Damn it! DANA SCULLY! WHAT ROOM?!”

The woman started and punched her name into the computer. She pointed her finger. “Down the hall, fifth door on the left.”

Susan didn’t respond, she just ran down the hall, counting the rooms as she went. When she reached Scully’s room, she paused for a moment before she pushed the door open and abruptly stopped in her tracks.

Scully was sitting on the side of the bed, legs dangling over the side. She was dressed in the jeans and T-shirt The Lone Gunmen had brought her that morning. She looked up when Susan entered the room and smiled with relief.

“Susan,” she breathed.

Susan cocked her head to the side and frowned. Something was different, but she couldn’t quite put her finger on it.

Suddenly it dawned on her and her eyes widened.

Scully laughed and looked down.

Susan stepped into the room so she was facing Scully. She reached out a hand to touch her chin and tilted Scully’s face up so she could look into her eyes.

Susan grinned. “You’re pregnant.”

 Part 2

Scully gave her a toothy smile and looked down again.

Susan dropped her hand. “How…?” she started to ask, but Michael burst into the room, interrupting her.

“Susan, what the hell did you do to that poor woman at the front desk?” he asked, slightly out of breath. He didn’t wait for an answer as he brushed past her to embrace Scully who stood when he entered the room. “Dana!” he said, wrapping his arms around her. “It’s good to see you.”

Scully nodded against his chest. “You, too,” she said stepping away. “I just wish it were under better circumstances.”

“Yeah,” Susan said. “When can we get the hell out of here?” Her voice was tense.

Scully cocked her head at her. “As soon as I get the rest of my test results, then we can go.”

“Good, hospitals give me the creeps.” She wrapped her arms around herself. “They give off bad vibes.”

Scully nodded her understanding.

“Except, of course, for the maternity wing,” Susan said with a smile. “I love it up there; niiiiice sensations.”

“Yeah,” Michael said. “Did I hear correctly, Susie said you were pregnant?”

Scully looked at him for a moment wondering how he knew that. He wasn’t in the room at the time.

Susan smiled, but said nothing.

Scully nodded slowly. “Mmm, hmm. I just found out today.”

“Then Mulder doesn’t know?” Susan asked.

Scully shook her head, her eyes downcast.

Susan reached out to touch her shoulder. “Can you tell us what happened?”

“No, not here.”

She nodded. “OK, but how did you? I thought you couldn’t?”

Scully looked surprised. “I never told you that!”

Susan looked at her impatiently.

She looked down. “Right, I forgot for a moment.”

“So,” Susan prodded. “How?”

“The old fashioned way,” a man said as he stepped into the room. He was dressed in a long white jacket. “I’m Doctor Jenkins.” He extended his hand to Michael. “And you are?”

“O’Sullivan, Agent Michael O’Sullivan.” He shook the man’s hand. “This is my partner, Special Agent Susan Halloway.”

Dr. Jenkins offered his hand to Susan and she glanced at Scully, cocking an eyebrow.

Scully nodded, holding her breath.

Susan took his hand, holding it a little bit longer than what would be the norm, then released him and stepped back to stand next to Scully. Susan gave her a wink and smiled.

Scully let out a breath.

“So,” Michael said, breaking the silence in the room.

“Right,” Dr. Jenkins started, glancing at Susan who smiled at him. “Yes, Dr. Scully, everything seems to be OK. According to the test results, you are very much pregnant.”

“How can that be?” Scully asked.

Dr. Jenkins sighed. “You said that you were not able to have children. Is that correct?”

Scully nodded.

“It’s not that uncommon for women to become pregnant after they have been told that they were infertile.”

“But…,” she stammered, not knowing what, exactly, to say. There was no way she could tell him what her body had been through.

Dr. Jenkins smiled and patted her arm “Don’t worry. I suggest you make an appointment with your OB/GYN for a follow-up. As you probably know, when you are further along you can have more extensive tests conducted to determine whether there are any problems with the fetus.”

Scully nodded, absently stroking her stomach.

“How far along is she?” Susan asked.

“According to my findings, she’s about six weeks along.”

Scully tried to quickly scan her memory back to that time, but her thoughts were so jumbled, she was having a hard time concentrating. She sighed. She’d worry about that later.

“Can I go?”

Dr. Jenkins nodded. “I see no reason to keep you. But I do want you to take things slowly.” He touched her arm again. “The vertigo is probably due to low blood pressure and should end shortly as your body adjusts. Just stand up slowly.” He gave her a smile. “I know how annoying it can be, but remember, your body isn’t used to this kind of strain. You’re working for two now!” He ended with a chuckle.

Susan smiled. She liked this guy.

***

 

5:02 PM

Enroute

“He cried?” Susan asked from the back, actually from next to Scully. Michael was driving and Scully sat on the passenger side of the rental car while Susan sat in the back. She was leaning forward, sitting in the middle of the seat with her hands on the headrests of the front seats.

Scully had just finished telling them about the events of the last few days, finishing with her talk with Skinner, trying to keep her voice steady. Why she even bothered trying to hide her feelings from Susan, she didn’t know, but it helped her get through the story.

Scully nodded. “Yes,” she said. “He felt like he let me down.” Scully turned to look at her. “He wouldn’t leave until I called someone to come pick me up. I think he thought I was going to call my mother, not you.”

Susan smiled. “Why didn’t you?”

Scully shrugged. “I wouldn’t know what to tell her.”

Susan nodded and sat back.

“Where do I turn?” Michael asked.

“At the next light,” Susan said.

Scully turned around in her seat to look at her. “You’ve been here before?”

She nodded. “A long time ago.”

“That’s right,” Scully said. “They sent you flowers while you were in the hospital.” She turned again to face the windshield. “I had forgotten about that.”

Susan sat forward again. “Mulder introduced them to me after they first met.” She shook her head. “I got the weirdest call from him while he was in the hospital. I dropped what I was doing and flew down to see him.” Suddenly Susan smiled. “It was like he was tripping on acid. It was very interesting to watch.”

Scully didn’t respond.

“They’re the nicest bunch of guys.” Susan said. “Especially Melvin.”

Scully turned around again. “Frohike?” she asked surprised.

Susan nodded. “He’s a sweety.”

Scully looked at her in disbelief as Michael parked the car. “Sweety?” she said to herself.

As they approached the building, Susan touched Scully’s elbow. Scully stopped and turned to her. “I understand the seriousness of the situation, but I was wondering if you could do something for me.”

Scully motioned for her to continue as Michael came to stand next to her.

“Can you and Michael go up first? I want to see Melvin’s expression when he sees you standing with Mike.”

Scully smiled and nodded.

Scully knocked on the door and looked up at the security camera. She could just imagine what they must be thinking as they looked at her and Michael standing there.

They heard clicks as about ten locks were undone. Then Frohike stuck his head out, he looked right then left before his eyes settled on Michael. “Who the hell are you?” he asked suspiciously.

Michael moved to stand behind Scully and placed his hand on her shoulder. He could easily look over her head.

“Frohike,” Scully said. “This is a friend of mine, Michael O’Sullivan.”

Neither man extended his hand.

Scully sighed. “He works out of the Melville Field Office in New York.”

Frohike looked him up and down. “What’s he doing here?”

“He came with me,” Susan said as she came around the side of the building and leaned against the wall next to Scully, her arms crossed over her chest.

Frohike’s eyes widened as he looked at her. “Susan? Susan Halloway?” he asked astonished.

She grinned and dropped her arms to her side. “How’s it hanging, Mel?”

Frohike looked nervously from Scully to Susan. He knew how much Scully couldn’t stand Diana Fowly and wondered if she knew about Susan and Mulder’s relationship. “Uh,” he stammered. “Great, just great,” he said as he ushered them inside and locked the door behind them. He turned around to see Susan smiling at him. He couldn’t help but return it. She moved to give him a hug and he eagerly wrapped his arms around her. As she started to draw back, Frohike asked her a question no one else could hear. Susan laughed then looked at Scully, who was watching them.

Susan nodded and patted him on the head. “Don’t worry,” she said with affection. “She knows everything.”

Frohike visibly relaxed, but tensed again when Michael came up to stand next to Susan.

“Melvin,” Susan said as she touched Michael’s arm. “Meet my partner and fiancé, Michael O’Sullivan.” Again, Frohike’s eyes widened. That was when he noticed the ring on Susan’s left hand.

Michael extended his hand towards him. “It’s nice to meet you, Melvin.”

Frohike looked down at his hand before he took it in a strong grip. “The name’s Frohike,” he said gruffly as he tightened his grip.

Michael nodded and nearly crushed the small man’s hand, releasing it just as Frohike’s knees started to bend.

Susan shook her head at him and Michael grinned back at her.

Byers and Langly walked into the room, obviously in the middle of an animated conversation. Byers noticed the people in the room first and stopped dead in his tracks when he saw Susan. Langly walked into his back.

“Watch what you’re doing!” he shouted at Byers.

Byers ignored him as a large smiled spread across his face. “I can’t believe it,” he said in awe. “Susan.” He approached her slowly then enveloped her in a hug.

“It’s good to see you, too, John,” Susan said as she stepped back.

“Hey!” Langly said, coming up to give her a hug, too.

“Hey, Ringo,” she said smiling broadly. “Still haven’t cut that hair I see.”

Langly smiled. “What are you doing here?”

Susan’s smile vanished as she looked over to Scully who was leaning a hip against one of the computer tables, her arms crossed over her chest. “I want to help Dana find Mulder.”

Langly and Byers exchanged nervous glances then looked from Scully to Susan.

Susan started to grow impatient with their apprehension. What? Did they think she and Dana were going to get in a catfight over Mulder?

Scully, who, for some reason was picking up on Susan’s emotions, was also getting tired of their reactions. She walked over to stand next to Susan, her arms still crossed over her chest. She slightly bumped her elbow against Susan, letting her know she understood.

“Don’t worry, guys,” Scully said, her voice betraying nothing. “I know everything about Susan and Mulder’s past.”

The men looked surprised.

“And she knows everything about what’s going on now,” she added.

Now they looked shocked.

“Everything?” they asked in unison

Scully nodded. “I want you to show her and Michael everything you’ve shown Mulder and me.”

They didn’t move.

She understood their uneasiness about this, but she couldn’t help getting a little angry. “I trust them,” she almost shouted. Scully glanced at Susan’s blank expression, but she knew the impact of her words on her.

Something in Susan flickered and Scully momentarily felt affection wash through her. Scully mentally shook herself and looked away.

Suddenly the world began to spin and Scully started to lose her balance. Michael caught her right away and lead her to a nearby chair with an arm around her waist.

She sat down, leaning heavily on him.

“Are you all right?” he asked soothingly as he ran his hand up and down her arm.

Scully sat up straight and ran a hand over her face. “Yes,” she said breathlessly. “I’m actually starting to get used to it.”

Susan knelt down in front of her, the concern evident on her face. “Remind me not to do that again,” she said softly.

Scully gave her a weak smile.

The Lone Gunmen came to stand behind Susan.

“Is everything all right, Agent Scully?” Byers asked.

“Maybe you shouldn’t have left the hospital,” Langly suggested.

Frohike nodded. “Yeah,” he said. “What did the doctor say?”

Scully locked eyes with Susan then looked up at Frohike. “Low Blood Pressure,” she stated.

Byers frowned. “Do they know what’s causing it?”

Scully nodded absently. “I’m pregnant.”

Georgetown, Washington DC

Day One

8:30 PM

Scully unlocked the door to her apartment, tossed her keys on the table by the sofa, and headed toward her bedroom.

“Make yourselves comfortable,” she said over her shoulder. “I’ll be right out.”

Susan slowly entered the apartment as Michael closed the door behind them. He noticed her hesitate a fraction as she walked over a particular section of the carpet.

Susan saw a flash of a redheaded woman laying on the floor, bleeding from a gunshot wound to the head.

“Susie?” Michael asked in the process of removing his suit jacket and revealing his shoulder holster. Susan shook her head as more flashes of horrific scenes ran though her while she concentrated on blocking them. Usually she’s able to ignore these kinds of impressions. Everything has an impression of someone on it either from the factory worker who made the item or from the last person who touched it. But these flashes contained tremendous emotion. It didn’t help that they were about some she cared for.

She took a deep breath and shook herself. She sighed when she felt her mind clear.

“You OK?” Michael asked as he placed his hand on her upper arm.

She nodded, then looked around the living room. “A lot of things have happened in here.”

Michael frowned. “What kinds of things.”

Susan shook her head, then stepped away from Michael when Scully walked back into the room. She had washed her face and discarded her shoes. She played with her fingers as she walked toward them.

“So,” Scully said. “You two want something to eat? You must be starving by now.”

Michael nodded, he was ravenous.

“Yeah,” Susan said. “We haven’t had anything to eat since breakfast.”

“Well, let me see what I have,” she said, then scrambled off.

Michael and Susan watched her walk out of the room. “Is it me?” Michael asked her quietly. “Or does she seem nervous?”

Susan nodded. “I think she picked up on my reactions to the apartment.” She frowned. “She’s been doing that all day; sensing my emotions.”

He nodded. “I noticed.” He put his hand on her hip. “Do you want me to talk to her?”

Susan looked at him. “Yeah, I think she might relax a little around you.”

“OK,” he said, giving her small squeeze before he walked away.

He quietly entered the kitchen just as she closed the refrigerator door and turned around.

“Jesus!” She jumped slightly when she saw him.

He smiled sheepishly. “Sorry,” he said. “I just came in here to see if you needed a hand.”

She silently regarded him, then looked away.

He approached her carefully. “Are you all right?” he asked softly as he came up next to her. “You seem on edge.”

She looked back at him. “Did she tell you to come in here?” she asked a little harshly.

He gently laid a hand on her shoulder and she tensed. He quickly removed it. “No, Susan didn’t tell me to come in here,” he said in the same soothing tone. “You don’t need to be an empath to see how this is getting to you.”

She studied him for a moment then looked past him at the wall behind him. “I’m just having a hard time processing all of this,” she said flatly.

He nodded. “That’s understandable,” he said. “You know you can talk to us; me and Susan.”

She nodded. “I know,” she said, then looked him in the eye. “I just don’t think I can right now.”

“All right,” he said, touching her shoulder again. This time she didn’t tense up. “Just so that you know that we’ll be here for you.”

She gave him a weak smile. “Thank you.”

He smiled back at her, then turned to go back to the living room.

“Mike?”

He turned back around to face her. She was leaning back against the kitchen counter, her hands on either side of her.

“Can I ask you something?”

He leaned against the door frame, and crossed his arms over his chest looking like he was posing for calendar of working men.

“What’s up?” he asked.

She smiled, he had no idea how he looked standing like that, then shook her head slightly. “In the hospital, you said that Susan said I was pregnant. How did you know that if you weren’t in the room?”

He frowned and rubbed his jaw. Scully could hear the scratching sound of his stubble running across his palm.

“Mike?” Scully prompted.

He looked at her. “I did it again,” he said, slightly angry with himself.

Scully looked confused. “Did what again?”

He shook his head and took a deep breath. “It happened again.”

She frowned. “What did?”

He looked at. “Lately, I’ve been picking up things from Susan; things I shouldn’t know.”

She slowly approached him. “What are you talking about?”

“It seems that something will happen with Susan and I just know it. She’ll say or do something and it’s like I was in the room when it happened.”

“I don’t understand.”

Michael leaned down close to her. “Susan’s getting stronger and she’s starting to have an affect on me,” he whispered.

“What do you mean?” she, too, whispered.

He straightened up. “Ever since she got her gift back, she’s been getting stronger.”

“Stronger how?”

“She’s embraced her gift; she’s no longer ignoring it. She’s using it more actively and she’s learning how to control it better.”

If Scully was surprised, she didn’t show it. “And why is this affecting you?”

He shrugged. “Susie thinks it’s because I’ve been in such close contact with her for a long time. We’re together all the time and because we are so open with each other, our connection is growing.”

Scully nodded.

“Hey, is everything OK in there?” they heard Susan say from the living room. “I don’t have to come in there, do I?” She sounded like a mom checking up on her children.

Michael and Scully smiled.

“Come on,” Scully said. “Let’s order some Chinese. I suddenly have a craving for sesame chicken.”

“Mmmm,” he said as he followed her out of the room.

11:42 PM

Empty Chinese food containers lay strewn about the dining room table as the agents went over the reports The Lone Gunmen had given them. Scully smiled as she remembered their reactions when she told them she was pregnant; first it was surprise, then overwhelming joy. They asked thousands of questions and Scully answered them as well as she could, but they never asked one question: who the father was. As if they didn’t know.

Scully was pulled from her thoughts when Michael stood up to stretch, still holding a printout; reading intensely. She looked over at Susan who was also engrossed in what she was reading. Scully leaned over and saw that it was a copy of the medical reports of Mulder’s stay in the hospital after they found the artifact.

Susan frowned and looked up at her. “This is remarkable.”

Scully sighed. “And the reason why he was taken.”

Susan nodded. “That’s what John said, but what I don’t understand is why they would want him if they supposedly removed what was causing it.”

She shrugged. “We don’t even know if it’s them who took him.”

“I want to check out those woods,” she said with conviction.

Scully nodded. “We have a nine o’clock appointment with Skinner tomorrow morning. We can make the reservations then. He might want to come with us.”

Susan shook her head. “No, I just want it to be us three.”

Scully looked at her. “Why?”

She took a deep breath. “I want to comb the area and I don’t want to have to hide what I’m doing.”

Scully nodded. “Makes sense.”

“Good,” Susan said behind a yawn

“We should get going,” Michael said as he reached for his jacket that was slung over the back of the chair next to him.

Scully felt a pang of panic. “Wait,” she almost shouted.

They turned to look at her, concern written across their faces.

“Um,” Scully said chewing on her lip, she didn’t want to be alone tonight. “It’s late and we have an early start tomorrow, why don’t you two stay here tonight?”

Susan cocked her head at her.

“You can take the couch, it pulls out,” Scully supplied, eagerly.

Susan glanced at Michael and he nodded. “Sounds like a good idea,” she said to Scully.

He smiled. “I’ll go down to the car and get our bags.”

 Part 3

12:36 AM

Day Two

Susan rested her head on Michael’s bare chest as they watched television. Both were a little too anxious to relax and since they were sleeping in Scully’s living room, they couldn’t do what they normally did when neither of them could sleep. So, they had settled on ‘Hell Raiser III’ and were mindlessly staring at the TV.

Susan felt Scully behind her and rolled over to face her.

“Is the TV too loud?” Michael asked.

Scully shook her head. She was dressed in a pair of blue satin pajamas. “No, it’s fine,” she said. “I just forgot to take the vitamin the doctor prescribed.”

Susan smiled. “I remember taking them,” she said. “It was like swallowing horse pills.”

Scully smile ruefully. “Something to look forward to,” she said as she walked into the kitchen. When she came out, the living room was dark. “You didn’t have to turn it off,” she said.

“It’s just as well, we really should be getting to sleep,” Susan said.

“Well, goodnight,” Scully said as she padded down the hall to her room.

“‘Night,” she heard them mumble.

***

 

2:13 AM

She arched her back and screamed as her body exploded in a million bits of pleasure. As she slowly came back to herself, she felt his wonderful weight laying on her as he bonelessly recovered and heard the rasp of his voice in her ear.

“Loveyouloveyouloveyouloveyouloveyou,” he chanted.

She closed her eyes and ran a hand down his sweaty back.

Suddenly she felt him rise off her. She opened her eyes to see him being lifted into the air and pulled toward the window; an expression of terror on his face.

“SCULLY!!!” he yelled. “HELP ME, SCULLY!!!”

“MULDER!!” she shouted, reaching for him, but when she should have grabbed his ankle, all she had was air.

Scully’s eyes blinked open as searing white hot pain stabbed throughout her abdomen. She rolled into a fetal position, groaning, then reached down to touch the wetness on the inside of her thigh, recoiling when she encountered blood.

Scully sat up straight in bed. Her breathing was erratic and her heart pounded in her chest. She brought a trembling hand up into the stream of light trickling in from the street lamps outside. It was clean. She ran her palm over her face and noticed she was crying. She took a shaky breath and shook her head trying to clear out the cobwebs. Her breathing was already slowing down and her heart wasn’t pounding as strongly as it was when she woke, but the tears continued to stream down her face. “Is this what I have to look forward to?” she asked herself. “Is every night going to be like this until I find him?”

Absently stroking her stomach, she continued to wallow in her self pity. She was unaccustomed to having her feelings so close to the surface. All she wanted to do was crawl into a ball and cry. It must be the change in hormone levels, she told herself then hitched in a breath when she was reminded why her hormones were unbalanced. She was pregnant. Fear sliced through her. What if the baby wasn’t normal? What if her dream was a premonition that she was going to lose it? What if the baby wasn’t even Mulder’s?

Scully scrambled out of bed and started to pace. She did experience a bit of missing time while she was out with that smoking bastard. She screwed her eyes shut at the thought. What if he’d done something to her?

Suddenly it felt as if the walls were closing in on her and she had to get out of the room. She marched down the hall to the living room and stopped dead in her tracks.

Susan and Michael were sound asleep on her sofa bed. Susan lay on her stomach facing her with Michael draped over her back, his face buried in her hair. He had an arm wrapped possessively around her waist and one of Susan’s hands rested on his silk covered hip. They had discarded the blankets because of the warmth of the night. Their legs were intertwined and they looked so content as they held each other.

A jolt of jealousy shot through her. It wasn’t fair that they could be so content while she was practically dying on the inside. As soon as she thought it, she instantly regretted it. She covered her face with her hands trying to hold back the sobs, her head hanging. She had to stop this, had to get hold of herself, acting like this is not going to help find Mulder. Mulder, God, she needed him here. She dropped her hands in defeat and looked up. Her eyes connected with Susan’s who was watching her intently.

Scully stood momentarily pinned by her eyes. It was as if Susan were looking straight through her, right into her soul, which she probably was. Scully screwed her eyes closed blocking out the world, like a child. She turned quickly and practically ran down the hall, slamming the door closed behind her.

Susan continued to stare down the hall for a few moments before she started to get out of bed. But as soon as she tried to move from under Michael, his arm tightened around her waist.

She rubbed his arms and spoke soothingly to him. “It’s OK, Love. I’m just going to get up for a minute.”

He didn’t release her. “No,” he mumbled, awake now.

She started to turn in his arms and he loosened his grip to allow her to face him. When he looked down at her, she had a gentle smile on her lips.

“I just want to go see if Dana’s all right,” she said as she caressed his jaw. “I’ll be right back.”

He didn’t respond as he withdrew his arms from her waist and cupped her jaw. He leaned down to place a chaste kiss against her lips, then moved to sit up.

She swung her legs over the side and stood. She was dressed in a pair of her running shorts and a tank top. She didn’t really like sleeping clothed, but the situation wouldn’t allow it.

“I’ll be right back,” she said again.

Michael nodded as he watched her walk down the hall.

Susan knocked on the door as she turned the knob and pushed. “Dana?” she said softly. “Can I come in?”

She didn’t answer.

Susan scanned the room, her eyes finding the form nestled in an armchair in the corner of the room. Scully sat with her knees drawn up, her arms wrapped around them. It was as if she was trying to crawl inside the chair itself.

“Dana?”

Scully turned to her, the darkness hiding her face. “Please leave me alone,” she said bitterly.

Susan stood outside the room, her toes resting on the threshold. She studied her for a beat then closed her eyes and focused on Scully. In the past she would have to be touching her to do this, but she recently discovered that if she had done this to someone in the past while touching them, she could do it from across the room now.

Distorted imagines of Scully’s dream flashed in Susan’s mind as did her reactions to it.

“STOP IT!” Scully hollered from right in front of her. Scully immediately felt Susan invade her and it sparked an intense anger in her. She flew out of her chair to stand directly before her.

Susan opened her eyes and looked down at her, an open expression on her face.

Her calmness pissed Scully off even more and she moved into Susan’s personal space, trying to intimidate her, but Susan continued to remain passive. She did, however, refuse to step back.

“You have no right to invade me like that!”

Susan nodded. “You’re right,” she said softly. “I don’t. I’m sorry. I won’t do it again.”

Scully continued to look at her as her eyes tried to push Susan away, but it wasn’t working. Susan remained calm and open as she stood with her hands at her side, her body relaxed.

Scully turned away from her and walked over to the window. She wrapped her arms around herself in a protective hug and started to shake.

Susan silently appeared next to her, standing in pretty much the same manner.

They stood there staring out of the window for what felt like an eternity before Susan turned to face her.

“I know what you’re afraid of,” Susan whispered.

Scully didn’t move.

“Dana,” she said reaching out to touch her shoulder and gently turn her to her. Susan tilted her chin up so she could look into her eyes. “The baby is just fine,” she said with a smile.

Scully’s eyes widened. “How can you know that?” she croaked out. “After all that has been done to me?”

Susan gave her an indulgent grin. “The same way I knew you were pregnant when I walked into your hospital room.”

Scully’s eyes welled up with tears and a sob escaped her.

Susan opened her arms and Scully fell into her embrace, accepting the comfort. Susan led her over to the bed as she clung to her desperately. During this, Susan promised Scully and herself that she would do all that she could to bring Mulder back to her. She had never been more serious about anything in her life.

“Dana,” Susan soothed. “It’s going to be all right.” She brushed her hair off her face and gave her an encouraging smile.

Scully tried to feel Susan’s optimism, but she couldn’t seem to grasp it.

“I promise, the baby is fine.”

Scully shook her head. “But how can you really know that? How can anyone?”

Susan smiled. “I can show you,” she said seriously.

Scully looked at her with apprehension. “What can you show me?”

Susan sighed. “I can show you that the baby is fine and that it is Mulder’s.”

Her eyes widened as she studied her. “You know for sure?”

Susan nodded. “I can feel a touch of Mulder inside of you.” She pointed to her lower stomach. “It’s a combination of you and Mulder.” A large grin spread across her face. “It’s absolutely magnificent.”

Scully’s eyes closed and she hung her head in relief. She trusted Susan and knew she would not lie to her about this. She lifted her head to give Susan a smile of gratitude. She made the right choice by calling her from the hospital.

“Thank you, Susan,” Scully said emotionally. “I don’t know how I would be handling this if I was alone.”

Susan smiled. “You’re welcome, but even if I wasn’t here, you are not alone,” she pointed again to Scully’s stomach.

Scully looked down at her abdomen and ran her hand across it. “You said you can show me?”

“One of the greatest pleasures of my gift is that I get to feel a new life.”

“Pleasure?”

Susan nodded. “It is very calming for me to be around a pregnant woman.”

Scully cocked her head to the side. “Why?”

Susan brushed a piece of hair off her face. “When a child is in the womb, all it’s needs are being met. It is absolutely content and happy. It’s a great contrast to the goings on in the outside world.”

Scully nodded her understanding. “You said you can feel Mulder? How?”

Susan leaned back on her hands. “A child is a combination of its father and mother. I can feel its make up. Like if I were to meet your parents in a crowd, I would be able to instantly tell that they were your mother and father. You are made up of parts of each of them.”

Scully nodded again.

“You want to see?”

Scully looked at her, apprehension creeping up on her. “I don’t know.”

Susan gave her a small smile. “Nothing can happen to you or the child. Nothing like what happened last time I showed you something.”

Scully snorted. “That may have been one of the best things that ever happened to me.”

Susan laughed. “I guess you can look at it that way.”

Scully leaned back and silently regarded her. Susan looked away toward the window feeling a little uncomfortable under her gaze.

“You know, I never did thank you,” Scully said.

Susan smiled, but still didn’t look at her. “There’s no reason to thank me.”

Scully touched her hand. “Susan,” she said, not continuing until she looked at her. “If you hadn’t inadvertently, what did you call it? Fucked up my mind.”

Susan laughed.

“None of this would have happened.”

Susan shrugged. “You never know.”

Scully nodded. “You’re right. It might have eventually happened, but I seriously doubt I would be sitting here talking to you right now, pregnant.”

Susan looked at her.

“Mulder probably still would have been taken, but I probably wouldn’t have a piece of him with me.”

Susan sat up and pushed her hair out of her face. She nodded. “OK, I’ll give you that,” she said reluctantly.

Scully smiled. “You’re not used to people thanking you, are you?”

Susan shrugged. “No, not really.”

Scully nodded. “Well, thank you,” she said then gave her a quick hug.

“You’re welcome,” Susan said as she pulled back. “Now, do you want me to show you?”

Scully took a deep breath and then slowly nodded. “Yeah, yeah I do.”

Susan grinned and jumped up.

Scully gave her a curious look.

“You’re going to have to lie down.”

“Why?” Scully asked suspiciously.

Susan rolled her eyes. “Don’t worry, I’m just afraid you’re going to fall asleep.”

Scully looked at her for a moment before she stood and slipped under the covers. Susan made a show of tucking her in until Scully batted her hand away. Susan laughed and sat down next to her on the bed.

“Why would I fall asleep?” Scully asked.

“This can be very relaxing. When I used to do this with Michael, he used to pass right out,” Susan said with a smile. “Usually with his head on my belly.”

Scully smiled.

“It was one of his favorite things to do when I was pregnant.”

“I can imagine.”

Susan smiled. “OK, ready?” she said rubbing her palms together.

Scully took a deep breath. “As I’ll ever be.”

Susan extended her hand and Scully quickly grasped it in hopes that she wouldn’t lose her nerve.

“Close your eyes,” Susan whispered.

Scully complied.

Susan took a deep calming breath and showed her one of the most amazing things in life.

Scully felt as if all the muscles in her body had turned to liquid. She could barely continue the hold on Susan’s hand. Her breathing came in long slow breaths and her pulse slowed. It was as if she were in a deep state of meditation. Her mind cleared and she felt as if she knew all the answers to every question. She could easily calculate the most complicated mathematical equations, her mind was that sharp, completely without distraction. Suddenly, she picked up a presence and she recognized it right away. It was Mulder.

Oh, God, she could feel Mulder. It was like when Susan had given him the ‘gift’ the night they first made love and probably the night they conceived. It was extraordinary. She could feel his very essence and it was as she remembered it, beautiful. He truly is a wonderful man, to his very core. She really does have a piece of him with her. If she wasn’t so content, she would weep.

As she continued her journey through this amazing experience, she picked up another presence that she couldn’t quite decipher. Then she realized what it was, it was her. She was feeling herself. It was indescribable and if she were pressed to explain it, she would be at a loss for words. It made her a bit dizzy, so she pushed it behind her and continued forward.

And then, there it was, her child. It was as if she were suddenly merged with another being. She could feel its life force and, as she mentally studied it, she could distinguish herself and Mulder and something completely different and completely overwhelming in its perfection. Susan was right, it was absolutely magnificent.

As she mingled with the essence of her child, her body seemed to relax even more. Her rational mind slowly melted away leaving her just to feel. And she felt content and at peace. Her consciousness dimmed gradually and she did not fight it, she couldn’t. Unconsciousness took over and her body slipped into deep, nonREM sleep.

Susan breathed deeply and fought to open her eyes. She knew that if she didn’t disengage herself quickly from Scully, she would fall asleep. And she didn’t think Scully would appreciate finding Susan sound asleep next to her; not to mention what Michael would think, she joked to herself.

Susan chuckled slightly. She rose slowly, her body protesting the movement. Scully wasn’t the only one who had gone into a state of complete relaxation. Susan had to consciously tell her leg muscles to cooperate.

She straightened the blankets over Scully and silently padded out of the room, closing the door behind her. As she walked down the hall, she noticed that Michael had turned on the TV. She found him lying on his side watching ‘Crossing Over with John Edward’.

“So, how’s he doing tonight?” she asked.

Michael turned to look at her. “Ten for ten, so far.”

Susan smiled.

“You know, you should try to contact him, get a private reading.”

Susan lifted the blankets and slid in next to Michael, lying on her side, facing him. “Why?”

Michael shrugged. “It might be interesting to hear what he has to say. Maybe he can contact your parents.”

Susan sighed. “That’s if he’s really doing what he says he’s doing and not just good at profiling people.”

Michael smiled. “So, use your gift on him,” he said, tapping her forehead for emphasis.

She smiled. “That might mess him up,” she said. “Besides.” Her smile faded. “I’m not sure if I want to contact them.”

He nodded, then looked down the hall. “How is Dana doing?” he asked, changing the subject.

Susan sighed again and rolled to lie on her back. She looked up toward the ceiling as she answered him. “She’s sleeping now, but she was pretty upset when I first went in there.”

Michael brushed the hair off her face. “I heard her yell at you,” he murmured, leaving his hand on the side of her face. He moved so that he was leaning on his right elbow, looking down at her.

Susan shifted her eyes to looked at him. “She got a little pissed at me for reading her.”

Michael gave her a slight smile.

“She had a pretty nasty dream, that was why she was so upset.”

He nodded. “About Mulder?”

She nodded. “Mmm, and the baby.”

“Did you put her fears to rest?”

She smiled. “As much as I can, but she’s still a little frightened.”

“You showed her the baby?”

Her smile turned into a grin. “Yeah,” she said slowly.

He smiled back at her. “She must have really loved it.”

Susan sighed, her smile gone. “Yeah,” she said quietly.

Michael moved his head down to nuzzle her neck. Susan ran her hand through his hair. He gave her a quick kiss then straightened up so he was looking down at her again.

“Love,” she said suddenly.

“What?” he whispered, stroking her hair.

She studied him for a moment then brought her hand up to rub his stubble covered jaw. “Promise me something.”

He smiled and turned to kiss her palm. “Anything.”

Susan brought her other hand up to frame his face. “Don’t ever leave me,” she said seriously, her voice filled with emotion. “I don’t think I could handle it.”

Michael gave her a sad smile. “I could never leave you. But you have to promise me the same thing.”

Susan ran her thumb across his lips. “I would never, could never, leave you. You are too much a part of me,” she whispered, her voice cracking slightly. “You have become an integral part of my life. I would cease to be without you.”

Michael kissed her finger. “Then we are doomed to always be together because I couldn’t live without you, either,” he said, his voice wavered.

“Blessed,” Susan said with conviction. “Blessed, not doomed.”

Michael smiled. “Blessed,” he agreed as he drew his head down to kiss her.

 Part 4

Day Two

Georgetown, Washington DC

5:58 AM

Scully’s eyes blinked open. She moved her head to squint at the clock next to her bed. 5:59, it read. She woke up one minute before her alarm could go off. She reached out a hand to turn it off and was slightly surprised that she wasn’t irritated. Usually when she woke up right before her alarm it annoyed her, she could use that extra minute. But today, she woke up feeling completely refreshed.

Scully sat up and brushed her hair out of her face. That little event last night was the best way to fall asleep. She didn’t feel tired or groggy and her eyes weren’t swollen from crying. It was as if she had a perfect eight hours’ sleep when in reality it was more like four.

She smiled to herself. She’d have to keep Susan around to do this for her every night during her pregnancy. God, this could become very addicting; it felt wonderful.

She sighed and swung her legs over the side of the bed and stood. She grabbed her robe before heading toward the bathroom. When she left the bathroom and started down the hall she heard a strange noise, it sounded like a grunt.

Scully stopped and listened carefully. There! She heard it again, but this time it was more like a groan. Her eyes widened. No, surely they’re not. they wouldn’t be doing what it sounds like their doing.

She tiptoed down the hall and peeked over the back of the couch. The sofa bed was empty. Then she heard it again. It was coming from just next to the bed, on the floor. She craned her head to see over the side and saw Michael’s head and bare back. Then it disappeared, then reappeared. He groaned again as he moved back down.

Scully started to turn, hoping she could get out of the room without them noticing, but was too late, Michael saw her.

“Hey, Dana,” he said cheerfully.

She spun around guiltily and gave him an uncomfortable smile. “Good morning,” she said brightly.

Michael stood slowly and Scully noticed that he was covered in sweat and was wearing black boxer shorts. She frowned, confused.

“Good morning,” he said. “I was just doing my push ups.”

Scully’s mouth formed an ‘O’. Jesus, she felt stupid. Of course they wouldn’t be doing what she thought they were doing. What the hell’s the matter with her?

“Where’s Susan?” she asked, looking anywhere but at his chest.

Michael was totally oblivious to her discomfort. If he were, he wouldn’t have sat down and started doing stomach crunches. “She went for a run,” he said in a strained voice. “She said she’d pick up breakfast on her way back.”

Scully nodded and walked toward the kitchen as a knock sounded on the front door. She started toward it, but Michael stopped her.

“Wait,” he said as he picked up his gun from the coffee table. “Let me answer it.”

“It’s probably just Susan,” she said logically.

Michael shook his head. “No, she took your keys. Besides, I would know if it was her.”

Scully nodded. “All right.”

“Go stand over there.” He pointed to her desk.

Michael waited until she was out of the way before he unlocked and opened the door. Standing before him was an older woman and a middle aged man. Both of them were wearing confused expressions on their faces. The woman’s turned to surprise when she took in his state of undress. The man’s could only be described as joy.

“Can I help you?” Michael asked, sounding very business-like, his right hand with his gun was behind his back.

“Ahh,” the woman said.

The man’s smile grew. “Is Dana awake?”

Suddenly Scully appeared next to him.

“Dana,” Michael said shortly. “I thought.”

Scully cut him off. “Mom, Bill, what are you doing here?”

Bill’s smile turned into a huge grin when he saw her tousled hair and robe.

Maggie Scully looked from Scully to Michael then back to Scully. “May we come in?” she asked.

“Oh,” Scully said, stepping back. “Sure.” She turned to Michael. “It’s OK, Mike, this is my mother and my brother, Bill. Mom, Bill, this is a friend of mine, Michael O’Sullivan.”

Bill’s hand shot out. “Nice to meet you, Mr. O’Sullivan.”

Michael placed his gun back on the table and shook his hand. “Mike, call me Mike.”

Bill watched him put the gun down and then glanced at Scully. The gun caused no alarm in her so he disregarded it, thinking that Michael was just looking out for his little sister’s well being. His was well aware of how dangerous her profession was. He nodded at Michael as he took his hand. “Mike it is then.”

“Nice to meet you, Mike,” Mrs. Scully said.

Michael shook her hand. “You, too, Mrs. Scully.”

“Mom,” Scully said, sounding very confused. “What are you two doing here?”

Mrs. Scully watched Michael walk over to the side of the bed and grab a shirt. Bill’s smile fell when he saw the sofa bed and rumpled sheets. It was obvious that he slept out in the living room while she slept in her bed. But, seeing how comfortable they were in their present state of dress, he could at least hope something was going on between them. He then smiled to himself when he saw part of a bra sticking out from under Michael’s suit jacket that was slung over the back of the couch.

“Mom?” Scully prompted.

Mrs. Scully turned her attention back to her daughter. “I guess you forgot,” she said.

Scully looked at her, her face blank. Then realization washed over her features. “Oh, God, Mom, I forgot,” she said.

Mrs. Scully smiled. “Obviously.”

Michael looked at the women. “Forgot what?”

Scully turned to him. “Today is my Aunt Judith’s seventy-fifth birthday. I was supposed to drive up with Bill and my mom to Pennsylvania.”

Michael nodded his understanding.

“Mom,” Scully said. “I’m sorry to do this to you, but I’m not going to be able to come with you.”

Mrs. Scully gave her a tight smile. “I gathered as much.”

“Why the hell not?” Bill asked, annoyed.

Scully sighed. “Bill,” she started. “Somthings have come up that need my immediate attention.”

Bill shook his head. “You know,” he said, getting angry. “It always seems that something comes up that needs your attention.” He moved to stand close to her. “When does your family get your attention?”

Scully turned away from him and walked over to stand next to Michael. “Bill, I’m not getting into this with you right now. I’m sorry I have to do this.”

Bill started to take a step closer to her, but Mrs. Scully put a hand on his arm. “William,” she warned.

Bill looked at her with shock. “Mom, I can’t believe you aren’t upset over this.”

Mrs. Scully shook her head. “Bill, I am upset Dana can’t come with us, but if she says she has things she has to do, I understand.”

Bill continued to stare at her accusingly, but was interrupted when the door opened.

“I got breakfast!” Susan announced as she walked in, holding up a brown bag. She stopped when she noticed the silence in the room and the fact that all eyes had turned to her. “It’s a little crowded in here so early in the morning,” she said dryly.

Bill looked at her with awe and a touch of lust. Susan was dressed in black spandex running shorts and sports bra. It showed off her long muscular legs and flat stomach. Her hair was pulled back off her face in a pony tail, but bits of hair clung to her sweaty face.

“Close your mouth, William,” Mrs. Scully whispered sternly.

Susan glanced at him as she walked by him to put the bag on the dining room table. She winked at Michael who shook his head, smiling.

“Mom, Bill,” Scully said. “This is Michael’s fiancee, Susan Halloway.”

Susan gave them a smile. “Nice to meet you both.”

Bill’s face fell.

“She and Michael work out of the Melville Field Office, on Long Island.”

“Long Island?” Mrs. Scully said surprised. “That’s quite a distance away.”

Scully nodded. “They’re here assisting me on a case.”

Susan noticed that Scully didn’t elaborate on who the case was.

“Why are they staying here and why isn’t Mulder around?” Bill asked sarcastically. “He ditch you again?”

Scully took a deep breath trying not to snap at him. She was about to respond when Susan spoke.

“Agent Mulder is currently undercover and the three of us are working to assist him,” she said simply.

Scully looked at her gratefully.

“But why are you staying here and not in a hotel?”

Susan leaned in to Scully. “Nosy isn’t he?” she whispered.

Scully snorted and quickly turned it into a cough. “Susan and Michael are good friends of mine,” Scully said, recovering. “We worked here late last night and I didn’t see the point in them going to a hotel when I have a pull out couch.”

Bill nodded, but still looked at them suspiciously.

Susan rolled her eyes and turned away from them to start unpacking their breakfast. Mrs. Scully took that as their cue to leave.

“Well, Dana,” she said. “I can’t say I’m not disappointed that you aren’t coming with us, but I guess I understand.”

Scully smiled. “Thanks Mom,” she said giving her a hug. “I’ll make it up to you, I promise.”

Mrs. Scully smiled and kissed her cheek. “I’ll hold you to that, Dana.”

Scully grinned. “Oh, I know you will.” She turned to Bill. “I am really sorry I can’t come with you. It’s not very often you’re in port.”

Bill tried to remain angry, but he just couldn’t seem to do it. “I know,” she said, giving her a hug. “Just make sure you’re careful,” he said paternally. “I worry about you, Dana.” He gave her a tight squeeze.

Scully squeezed him, as well. “I know you do, but don’t worry,” she said pulling back. “I’m always careful.”

Bill snorted in disbelief then turned to Michael. “Nice to have met you, Mike.”

Michael shook his hand and gave him a nod. “I’ll watch out for her, Bill,” he said seriously.

Bill studied the large man before him, then nodded. “Thank you,” he said.

Mrs. Scully and Bill said their farewells to Susan and Scully and then left.

Scully closed the door and leaned back on the wood. “God, I can’t believe I forgot all about that.”

Susan smiled. “Bill’s a real pain in the ass, isn’t he?”

Scully chuckled. “He’s not so bad once you get to know him.”

Susan smirked. “Sure,” she said sarcastically. “Why didn’t you tell them about your news?”

Scully sighed. “I didn’t think it was a good time,” she said looking toward the front window.

Susan nodded, understanding that she didn’t want to talk about that right now, so she busied herself by handing items out the from the bag. She gave Scully a large greasy looking sandwich wrapped in waxed paper.

“What’s this?” Scully asked skeptically.

Susan grinned. “Two eggs over easy with cheese and bacon on a roll,” she said as she gave Michael an identical package. He snatched it from her and unwrapped it greedily.

Scully’s eyes widened as she looked at her sandwich. “I can’t eat this,” she said, but her body had other ideas; she started to salivate.

Susan laughed. “Uh, uh,” she said. “I know it’s a far cry from the coffee and toast you usually have, but remember, breakfast is the most important meal of the day,” she said sounding like a spokesperson. Her smile widened as she tossed her a pint of orange juice. “And you can’t have any caffeine.”

Scully’s body slumped and she sighed. “I forgot about that.”

Susan unwrapped her sandwich and took a huge mouthful. “Better get used to it,” she said around the food in her mouth. “You got another eight months ahead of you.”

Scully groaned as she dropped down in a chair. “Tell me again why I’m doing this?”

Susan laughed as she took another bite.

*****

 

7:25 PM

Business Class Section, somewhere over the Midwest

“So,” Michael whispered. “Are you going to tell me what he said or do I have to read it from you?” He finished with a slight smile.

Susan looked away from the window and looked at him a moment before looking past him to Scully who was sitting stretched out in the row across from them.

Michael nudged her. “She’s sleeping. I already checked.”

Susan sighed and looked back out the window.

“Come on, Susie,” he whined.

She turned her head back towards him, her face void of any expression.

“You have been quiet since Skinner asked to speak to you. What did he say?” He picked up her hand and ran his thumb across her palm. “You know I can tell that you’re more than a little pissed off.”

She gave him a small smile.

“Do I have to go kick his ass?”

Susan laughed. “No, you don’t have to kick his ass,” she said, seriously. “But I can think of another person I wouldn’t mind you smacking around a bit.”

Michael crinkled his eyebrows at her.

“OK, I’ll explain.” She took a deep breath. “When we were leaving Walter’s office, he pulled me aside.”

***

 

11:06 AM

Walter Skinner put his hand on her arm.

She stopped and turned to him. Michael and Scully stopped just outside the doorway.

“May I speak with you for a moment?” he asked softly, his voice betraying his fatigue. They had just finished listening to the AD relate the events of Mulder’s disappearance and he was tired, but Susan sensed that there was also something he was hiding. She decided to allow him the opportunity to tell her what it was before she would read it from him.

Susan motioned to Michael and Scully. “I’ll meet you guys back at Mulder’s office,” she said. “OK?”

Scully frowned and walked out of the room without a word. Michael’s eyes followed her before he nodded to Susan and hurried after her.

Skinner closed his office door and led Susan over to a leather couch. He waited until she was seated before he started to pace.

“Walter,” Susan said after watching him walk back and forth a few times. “Sit down and tell me what’s going on.”

Skinner looked at her, then moved to sit next to her. Susan turned and slid one leg under her so that she was facing him directly. He leaned back, removed his glasses and rubbed his eyes with his thumb and forefinger.

He took a deep breath. “You are not going to like what I have to say.”

Susan gave him a rueful smile. “I kinda already guessed that.”

He snorted quietly. “I don’t know if you have already heard, but AD Kersh has been promoted to Deputy Director.”

Susan’s eyes widened. “Really?” she asked incredulously.

He nodded. “And, he has taken over this case.”

Susan groaned and let her head drop to the back of the couch.

“That’s not the worst of it.”

She picked her head up. “There’s more?”

“Susan,” he started. “After word got out yesterday about Mulder’s. disappearance.”

Susan frowned. “Don’t you mean abduction?”

Skinner sighed and ran his hand over his face. “That’s just it. He has forbidden the use of the term ‘abduction’.”

“But didn’t you explain to him what you saw?”

He shook his head. “Not yet, but obviously he has heard the rumors.”

“And the fact that you’re not denying anything.” She looked down at the coffee table.

“I am not allowed to have any part of the investigation.”

“WHAT?” Her head shot up.

He nodded. “They think I’m just covering up for Mulder.”

Susan’s bewildered expression turned to anger. “What, they think Mulder took off and you made up an abduction story to cover for him? That you would risk your job and reputation?”

“It wouldn’t be the first time.”

Susan sighed and ran a hand over her face. “Like the boy who cried wolf,” she said softly referring to Mulder’s past disappearing acts.

“It seems that is the most popular theory at this point. I have an OPR meeting today at three.”

“Is there even going to be an investigation?” Susan asked.

“Yes, but no one is taking it seriously.”

Susan nodded. “But, there’s still more.”

Skinner narrowed his eyes at her then looked past her to the wall behind her.

“And you weren’t sure how to tell Agent Scully,” she stated.

His eyes moved back to hers. He took a deep breath. “Kersh feels that Scully to is too close to this case to handle herself professionally.”

Susan didn’t respond, she just brushed a piece of hair off her face and studied him.

Skinner squirmed slightly in his seat. “And if you want to participate, you will have to do it under Kersh.”

Susan closed her eyes and chewed on the inside of her cheek, trying to keep herself from expressing her feelings.

“Susan,” Skinner said as he reached out to pick up her hand.

She opened her eyes and looked down at his hand.

“I, ah,” he stuttered.

Susan looked up at him.

“I did some checking last night,” he said, not meeting her eyes and dropping her hand. “And if you want to continue assisting Agent Scully in her search for Mulder, I recommend that you do not use bureau resources.” His eyes met hers. “Off the record,” he finished.

She frowned.

He took a deep breath and looked away from her again. “I looked up your file last night,” he said quickly.

She tilted her chin up slightly and breathed slowly through her nose.

“And am aware of your financial situation.”

Susan clenched her jaw.

“And I suggest that you officially go on your vacation and use your own resources to support your investigation.”

“Off the record,” Susan said in a dangerous voice.

Skinner looked at her, the anger was apparent on her face. If he believed that sort of thing, he would say he could feel it radiating off her.

He nodded.

“May I ask why you felt it necessary to ‘check up’ on me?”

Skinner eyes met her furious ones. “I understand why you would be angry, but you have to understand where I’m coming from.”

She leaned back and placed her arm on the back of the couch.

“It’s not a secret that you and Agent Mulder have a history,” he stated.

She nodded. “And why should it be?” she asked harshly.

He sighed. “When Mulder mentioned that he was assisting you in a case a few months ago, I was reminded of a situation not long ago where one of Mulder’s past relationships almost cost him his partnership and his life.”

Susan was about to respond, but he held his hand up, silencing her.

“I know what you’re going to say and I agree. You are nothing like Agent Fowly, and because I knew you, I didn’t interfere.”

“But,” Susan said.

He nodded. “But, when Scully told me that she called you from the hospital, I became a little suspicious.”

She frowned. “Why?”

He leaned back and drew his leg up so his right ankle was resting over his left knee. “I just thought the timing was too perfect. If you were working for Them, this would be the opportunity they were waiting for to remove Agent Scully.”

Susan didn’t say anything, she didn’t have to. He did have a point. If she and Michael were working for Them, this would be perfect.

“So,” he said when she didn’t respond.

“So, you did a background check on me.”

Skinner winced. “Actually, it wasn’t me.”

She frowned.

“I had a few of Mulder’s friends do it.”

Her eyes widened and her mouth fell open. “The Lone Gunmen?”

He nodded.

“When?” she asked. She couldn’t believe that they were able to deceive her. They honestly trusted her, she knew this as a fact.

“Apparently I called just after you left. At first they refused to do it and tried to assure me that you were clean and could be trusted, but I insisted,” he said. “With a little persuasion on my part.” He gave her a small smile.

“Don’t you mean after you threatened them?”

His face fell. “Susan, you have to understand that I was just looking out for Agent Scully’s well being.”

“OK,” she said with resignation. “Is that it?” she asked, sitting up.

Skinner rubbed his eyes. “There’s one more thing.”

She slumped.

“Currently, Agent Scully is out on medical leave.”

Susan frowned. “Why?”

“It was the only way I could think of to give her time away from the office, or rather away from Kersh, so she could follow any leads concerning Mulder.”

She nodded. “So, Dana’s on medical leave and Michael and I are on vacation.”

He nodded.

“Indefinitely?”

He sighed. “For as long as I can arrange it.”

Suddenly, Susan stood. “Fine,” she said as she moved toward the door. Obviously, she didn’t want to continue this conversation.

“Susan,” Skinner blurted. “I’m not going to be able to help you.”

She spun around. “And why’s that?” she asked sarcastically.

Skinner walked up to her and leaned into her personal space. “I’m going to be watched over the next few weeks by the bureau and by other factions,” he whispered. “And if I were you, I’d watch my back.”

“Oh,” she said with a secretive smile. “You don’t have to worry about me.”

 Part 5

Bellefleur, Oregon

Shady Grove Motel

10:05 PM

Susan and Scully decided to stay in a different establishment than where Mulder and Scully stayed. They said it was because of the convenience to the woods, even though they both knew the other was lying. Susan didn’t want to sleep there because she was concerned about the sensations it might emit and shake her concentration and Scully didn’t want to sleep in the last place she and Mulder made love. So, they settled on a roach motel named the Shady Grove. At least it was cleaner than where they first wanted to eat dinner.

They sat down with their menus at a diner Susan later called Botulism and You and as soon as Susan picked up the menu, she dropped it and announced that she wasn’t going to eat there and had a friend at the health department on the phone. She refused to tell Michael and Scully what she had picked up from the menu. They wound up eating pizza in Michael and Susan’s room. It was during dinner that Susan explained to Scully what Skinner had told her. She was unusually quiet while Susan was speaking only asking clarifying questions. When Susan was finished, Scully picked up her third slice and informed them that she was going to bed and would see them in the morning. When the connecting door closed, Susan and Michael glanced at each other. “Yeah, she’s pissed,” the said in unison.

***

 

Scully closed the door behind her and looked down at the drooping slice of pizza and tossed it in the garbage on her way to the bathroom. She didn’t feel like eating anymore.

When she entered the bathroom and flipped on the light, she caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror and stopped dead in her tracks. She was surprised by the woman staring back. Her skin was unusually pink with a soft touch of color in her cheeks. Her eyes were bright and clear and her hair had a healthy shine to it. She didn’t look at all like a woman who had lost the most important person in her life. She looked good; like she was glowing. She was sure no one else would notice, but she looked different. Well, actually, she thought, Mulder would notice. Scully watched as a crease formed between her eyebrows and frowned further when she realized that she had frown lines. She snorted. Of course she had frown lines, when was the last time she laughed? As she thought about it, a sad smile formed, it was when she found out she was pregnant.

She sighed and decided to stop thinking like this. She was doing all that she could right now. It would do her no good to berate herself. They were going into the woods tomorrow morning and they were going to find Mulder. She pulled her shirt over her head and glanced in the mirror again. Soon her face would fill out as would the rest of her body and Mulder was going to miss it, she thought as she ran her hand over her collar bone. A look of determination appeared. Damn the FBI, damn Kersh and damn Skinner for being such a coward and not telling her about Kersh and the lack of bureau support himself. With Susan and Michael’s help, she will find him and bring him home, and they all could go to hell.

She nodded to herself and finished getting ready for bed. As she slid in between the heavily starched sheets of the double bed, she knew that she was too wired to fall asleep. She was about to get up and ask Susan to help her out, when she heard the shower go on next door. She sighed and flipped on the small television that sat atop the dresser across from the bed. She’ll just have to fall asleep the old fashioned way – boredom.

***

 

10:29 PM

Susan busied herself by gathering her things while she waited for Michael to finish with his shower. She was purposefully trying not to sense what was going on in Scully’s room and was concentrating so much on that particular task, that she didn’t hear the shower turn off and didn’t notice that her innate awareness of Michael had vanished.

She was leaning over her suitcase that was resting on a chair under the front window when two hands reached out, grabbed her hips and jerked her back. It surprised her so much that she straightened up too quickly and cracked her head on the window sill. She let out a cry of surprise and pain and a hand flew over her mouth to silence her. One arm snaked around her waist and yanked her back roughly. She felt the body behind her shake slightly with laughter.

“Sorry,” Michael whispered against her hair. “I didn’t mean for you to hurt yourself.” He kissed her wounded head and pulled her closer to him.

Susan could feel the dampness of his naked body seep in through her silk blouse and skirt as her heart continued to pound in her chest. She moved her head to the side to free her mouth.

“Michael,” she said through clenched teeth. “You asshole, you scared the shit out of me.”

Michael used the hand that was covering her mouth to tilt her head and started nuzzling her neck. “Mmmm sorry,” he said and bit down on the spot where her neck and shoulder meet.

“Mike,” she whined. “Now is not a good time to practice blocking me.”

She could feel him smile as he moved a hand down and started unbuttoning her blouse. “What,” he said, his voice deeper than normal. “You don’t want to engage in a session?”

She moaned when she felt him unbutton the last button and run his palm over her stomach. “Nnnnnot really,” Susan said. She finally got her arms to move and reached over her head to thread her fingers through his wet hair. “Besides,” she gasped as he cupped her breasts through her bra. “You know it takes too much concentration on my part and I wind up exhausted the next day,” she breathed out, starting to pant.

Michael ran his hands up her arms to her hands and removed them gently from his hair, then proceeded to rid her of her shirt. “But I love our little sessions,” he said and unclasped her bra. “It exhilarates me.”

“Mmm,” she moaned quietly when she felt him relax and release his block on her. Jesus he was pumped up tonight.

“Fine,” he said and unzipped her skirt, letting it drop to the floor, leaving her standing only in panties, since she had removed her stockings while he was in the shower. He slid her underwear down to pool around her feet then spoke in a rough voice. “Instead of you teaching me how to heighten my awareness, how about if we just fuck.”

“Mike,” she said in faux shock. “Dana is just next door.”

“Then thank God we’re quiet during sex,” he said in gravely voice, then grabbed her waist, turned her toward the bed and roughly shoved her onto it.

She landed on her stomach with a soft ‘Oomph’.

Michael hopped on the bed, covering her with his body and pinned her arms by her wrists. He could feel her body shaking under him with laughter and he quickly joined her. They gradually settled down and relished in their awareness of each other. Michael rubbed his cheek against her hair then released his hold on her arms when he felt her stir. She slowly turned to face him and he settled his weight in the cradle of her hips.

“Aren’t we randy tonight,” she said grinning.

He smiled down at her. “It must be the fact that I haven’t been alone with you in two days.”

She stuck her bottom lip out. “Aw,” she said in a mock pout and shifted her hips a little. “It must be so hard for you.”

Michael bit down on his bottom lip and shook his head. “I went years without sex, then we got together, and I can’t even handle two days,” he said sarcastically.

Susan reached up, gripped his hair and pulled him down for a mind jarring, passion filled kiss. “Then let’s get this show on the road,” she said breathlessly when she released his mouth. “Because I’m ready for a ride.”

***

 

The next morning

8:23 AM

Scully was just about to knock on the connecting door when someone knocked on it. She opened it revealing Michael.

“Hey!” he said brightly. “Sleep well last night?”

She shrugged. “I sleep all right,” she responded and followed him into his room. Michael was dressed in tight jeans, a gray T-shirt and black boots. The outfit looked so much like something Mulder would wear that she suddenly felt tears in her eyes. It worsened when she watched him grab a black leather jacket. She screwed her eyes shut and turned toward the window, pretending to determine the weather.

“It looks like it might rain,” she said sounding distracted.

“Mmmm,” Michael replied. “Hopefully it’ll hold off until we get a good look at the woods.

She nodded absently.

Michael watched her silently, taking in the tense way she was holding herself. She was dressed in black slacks, black boots, a light blue shirt and black jacket that ended just above her knee. The little bit of sun that was peeking in through the blinds shined off her hair. Michael tilted his head and narrowed his eyes. There was something different about her, he thought to himself. She seems to have more color than normal and even though he knew she didn’t sleep well, she looked rested. Actually, she looked fantastic, more beautiful this morning. He smiled to himself when he figured out why. She had that glow Susan had when she was pregnant; it agreed with her. He just hoped Mulder would be back soon so he can see for himself.

He turned when he heard the bathroom door open behind him.

Susan gave him a self conscious smile. “Sorry I’m running late, just give me a minute.”

He nodded and grinned at her. There was no way he could forget why she was running late. He turned back to glance at Scully who was still looking out the window. He wasn’t sure if he liked the look in her eyes. She looked. uneasy, hesitant, like she wasn’t looking forward to going into the woods today. He sighed, he couldn’t blame her.

Susan padded past him to the closet and picked up a pair of hiking boots. He watched her sit down on the bed to put them on. His mind flashed to a scene last night of her looking down at him with tousled hair and wearing a large satisfied smile. God, she was so beautiful his heart actually swelled. He took a deep breath, his attention shifted to Scully as she moved from the window to sit next to Susan on the bed. She murmured something to her and Susan smiled. His eyes darted back and forth between the women as a very testosterone ladened thought dashed through his mind. At that, Susan’s head shot up from tying her shoes. She frowned at him and glanced at Scully then back to him, her frown deepening.

Scully gave them both a confused look.

Michael raised his hands in surrender and gave Susan an innocent smile.

Susan continued to look at him suspiciously as she shrugged on her jacket. “Come on,” she said to Scully. “Let’s get something to eat then let’s hit the trail.”

Scully nodded and headed out the door with Susan following. She paused at the threshold and turned to Michael. “You,” she said pointedly, even though the corners of her mouth twitched up. “Are a pig.”

Michael chuckled. “Hey, I’m a guy.”

Susan shook her head, smiling now. “You’re still a pig,” she said, reaching up to give him a peck on the lips and walked toward the car where Scully was waiting for them.

Michael closed the door behind him and jogged to catch up with her. “What,” he said, opening the passenger door for her. “You’ve never had any thoughts like that?”

Susan started to sit down, but stood straight so she could lean into him, aware that Scully was watching them. “No,” she whispered, the smile still present on her lips. “I seem to be lacking that particular hormone that leads to sexually deviant thoughts such as the ones you had in our motel room about myself and my close friend.”

Michael’s eyebrows raised in amusement. “Sexually deviant?”

She nodded and sat down, but didn’t close the door because Michael was leaning on it. She pretended to ignore him by unlocking Scully’s door and fastening her seat belt. Michael knew she was barely holding her laughter in.

Michael bent down so that he was at her eye level. “What would you call that fantasy you and I acted out about six months ago?”

Susan hitched in a breath. “Many people have that particular fantasy so you can’t consider it deviant,” she said sounding uninterested in the conversation. She then grabbed the handle and jerked the door out of Michael’s hand. “Besides,” she added before she closed the door. “It only involved you and me.”

Michael grinned as the door slammed shut in his face. “You, me and leather,” he said to himself as he crossed to the driver’s side.

***

 

Bellefleur, Oregon

9:08 AM

After breakfast, they headed toward the woods. Michael drove and Susan sat in the passenger seat. Scully silently watched the trees go by from the back seat.

“Stop the car,” Susan said.

Michael glanced at her. “What?” he asked, slowing the car down. “What’s wrong?”

“STOP THE CAR!” she shouted, unbuckling her seat belt. She hopped out before it could come to a stop and took off down the road.

Michael and Scully got out of the car, gave each other a confused look and ran to catch up with her. When they joined her, Susan was standing with her hands on her hips, looking down at a red spray painted X on the road.

Susan looked at Scully. “You and Mulder have been here?”

Scully nodded. “Mulder…”

Susan interrupted her. “Mulder spray painted this on your first case,” Susan stated. Then turned away from Scully and walked over to skid marks on the road, not giving her a chance to respond. “You guys were here about a week ago,” she said sounding distracted.

Michael and Scully watched her. Michael was amazed. She never acted like this in any case they worked on in the past.

“Yes,” Scully said, glancing at Michael. “Mulder got a phone call from Billy Miles.”

Susan nodded, not really listening. She was too interested in a burn mark on the road. She moved some loose gravel with the toe of her boot, a frown on her face. “You said you spoke to Detective Miles here?”

Scully approached her. “Yeah, you read the report, why?”

Susan shrugged. “In person?” she asked.

Scully nodded. “Why?”

Susan shrugged again. “I’m not sure,” she said cryptically then looked up at the tree line. “But there’s something here I’ve never felt before.”

Michael and Scully watched her walk back to the car, hesitating as she passed the red X. She opened the car door and looked at them as they approached then looked back to the tree line. “This is a very powerful place,” she said then got in the car, closing the door.

Michael and Scully again exchanged looks over the roof of the car. Michael’s eyes were filled with foreboding, while Scully’s were wide with barley contained fear.

***

 

Bellefleur, Oregon

9:35 AM

Michael took off his jacket and tossed it in the car. The humidity in the air was so high, it left his clothes damp and uncomfortable. He glanced at Susan who was also feeling the effects, as she removed her jacket and ran a hand through her hair. He didn’t like the expression on her face. There was a crease between her eyebrows and she looked lost in concentration. She had been frighteningly silent during their drive to the woods and for some reason he couldn’t quite determine what she was feeling. He knew she was trying to figure out what it was that she felt out on the road, but other than that, she was as closed off to him as any other person. It made him feel like he should grab her and force her back into the car and high tail it out of there, but, of course, she would probably beat the shit the out of him.

He smiled ruefully and shook his head. She was trying to find Mulder and he was probably just picking up on Scully’s feelings of not wanting to venture into the woods. He would have to remind himself to talk to Susan about this. Since they had been working on raising his level of awareness, he’s been having a difficult time separating his emotions from others, especially in situations where tensions were high. He wasn’t sure if he wanted to be able to feel others, except for Susan. He smiled again. One good thing that has come from their little ‘sessions’ as she called it, was that he was starting to be able to pick up the occasional word or random sentence from her mind. She could always do that with him, like in the motel, but for him it was amazing. It wasn’t exactly like reading thoughts, because he usually couldn’t control it. But sometimes when Susan would concentrate deeply on a word, he could hear it like she said it out loud and it was a mighty fine feeling. He enjoyed strengthening their link.

Suddenly a hand appeared in front of his face and he blinked.

“Hey,” Scully said. “Are you OK?” she asked, concerned.

Michael looked at her sheepishly. “Yeah, sorry,” he said. “I was just thinking about something.”

She raised an eyebrow at him, but didn’t comment. “Come on,” she said cocking her head in Susan’s direction. “I don’t think Susan’s in the mood to wait for us.”

Michael looked up a slight incline to see Susan standing at the top of it scanning their surroundings. Her back was to them and she stood with her hands on her hips, her spine ramrod straight.

Michael indicated for Scully to go ahead of him as they walked to catch up with her. They were about halfway there when Susan started her descent on the other side.

“Susan!” Michael shouted.

She paused to look back at him then continued, only stopping when she reached the bottom.

“What the hell’s up with you?” Michael asked Susan when they reached her. Her demeanor was starting to frighten him.

She glanced at him, then focused her attention on Scully. “Show me the site Skinner indicated,” she commanded completely ignoring Michael.

Scully risked a glance at Michael. Susan was starting to scare her, too. “Don’t you want to see the spot where I.”

Susan interrupted her. “Nooooooo,” she said as if Scully were a child. “I want to see the site Skinner mentioned.” Susan’s eyes looked intensely into hers.

Scully swallowed and licked her lips. Taking a deep breath, she started to walk to the spot. “It’s over there,” she said and pointed.

Susan walked ahead of her and Michael quickened his pace to walk alongside her. “Susan,” he started but whatever he was going to say died in his throat when he saw the look in her eyes. She looked wild, like a tigress stalking prey and wouldn’t care if she took him down in the process. He took a careful step back from her almost crushing Scully’s feet since she had stopped as well.

Suddenly Susan’s attention shifted and her head turned sharply to the right as if she heard something. Her face fell into a frown and she cocked her head. Michael noticed that her breathing had quickened.

“Su..” Michael didn’t get to finish what he was going to say because Susan darted off in the direction to where her attention was focused.

“SHIT!” Michael swore as he and Scully took off after her, but it was futile. Susan had a pretty good jump on them and she could outrun him even if she wasn’t trying and she was booking right now.

They could see her ahead of them as she warped through the woods. They chased after her into an immense clearing, then stopped. It was empty. Susan was nowhere to be seen.

***

 

Susan slowed as she walked into a large clearing towards a man who was standing in the middle of it. His suit and tie were completely out of place in the woods and humidity. He didn’t seem to mind, however. But the thing that bothered her was that she didn’t pick up anything from him; no emotion, nothing. It was like when Michael blocked her.

“Who are you and what are you doing out here?” Susan demanded when she was a few feet away from him. It didn’t even occur to her to draw her gun. For some reason she knew it wouldn’t be effective.

A small smile appeared on his face. He held his hands out away from his body, palms up. “I am a friend,” he said in a soothing voice and bowed to her. “My name is Jeremiah Smith.”

 Part 6

Michael stared intently toward the clearing with his arms at his sides, barley breathing. “God, no,” he whispered.

He took two careful steps forward then broke out into a dead run. Scully ran after him then stopped, watching him stagger and fall to his knees, his head dropped into his hands. Scully slowly approached and knelt in front of him. She heard him muttering to himself. She wasn’t sure, but it sounded like he was chanting ‘you promised’ over and over.

***

 

>>A small smile appeared on his face. He held his hands out away from his body, palms up. “I am a friend,” he said in a soothing voice and bowed to her. “My name is Jeremiah Smith.”<< Susan’s eyes widened and she took a step back, almost tripping over her feet in the process. She caught her balance quickly and stood her ground.

He smiled. “I see that you have learned a lot from Agent Mulder.”

She crossed her arms over her chest and tilted her chin up. “I know enough,” she stated flatly.

He nodded thoughtfully. “It’s time you learned more, Susie Beth.”

Susan’s whole being registered shock, her mouth opened and her arms dropped lifelessly to her sides. “How do you know that name,” she breathed out. “Only my mother called me that.”

He smiled again. “Because I know all about you,” he said kindly. “We have been watching you for a long time, and your mother and your mother’s mother.”

“You knew my mother?” she asked, a frown forming on her face.

“I knew of her.”

Susan shook her head. “I don’t understand.”

Jeremiah Smith held his right hand out. “Come,” he said gesturing toward a fallen tree. “Let us sit.”

“No,” she replied. “I’m fine right where I am.”

He smiled and nodded. “All right then. Let me ask you a question.”

She raised an eyebrow at him as a response.

“Have you ever wondered from where your gift, as you call it, comes?”

Susan breathed deeply through her nose and clenched her teeth.

“In your heritage, one female in each generation has the gift.”

“You mean…,” she trailed off.

He nodded. “Your mother was like you.”

She squeezed her eyes shut wanting to refuse what she had just heard, but finding that she was unable. Somewhere deep inside, she knew that this man before her was speaking the truth. If only her mother was there for her while she was growing up, maybe she wouldn’t have denied her gift for so long, maybe she wouldn’t have felt like such and outsider, maybe…

“Susie Beth,” he started.

Susan’s eyes flew open revealing blue fire. She took a step towards him. “Don’t call me that!” she spat out. It was like he was soiling the memory of her mother. Her last memory of her mother was of her rich, melodic voice saying ‘I love you, Susie Beth. Daddy and I will be home soon.’ But they never were.

Susan’s feelings of loss quickly changed into anger. “Why are you here?! What purpose does all this serve?!” She swept her arms out in front of her. “Why here? Why now when I can do nothing about it?!”

“Because a war in going on and you need to know which side you are on.”

“Fuck you!” she shouted at him, and started to head back toward the woods.

“They know about you,” he said calmly.

Susan stopped and turned her head to look at him, her mouth formed a thin line.

“They knew about your mother, too.”

Susan turned to face him and crossed her arms in front of her; a defensive gesture.

“Have you read the report concerning your parents’ death?” he asked.

“Many times,” she said without emotion.

“Then you know that the drunk driver’s identity was never determined.”

She clenched her teeth.

“They feared her.”

Susan uncrossed her arms and took a step toward him. “They killed my parents?” her voice was low and dangerous.

“They watched your family. Your mother was strong, not as strong as you are becoming, and they knew she could be a threat.”

“A threat to what?”

“The future.”

“Don’t you mean their future?” she asked, almost casually.

“Only if no one fights back.”

“Why did they kill my father, too?” she asked.

“He was just there, Susan,” he said. “And you hadn’t showed the signs that you had the gift as well. They hoped to end it with your mother.”

Susan used both hands to push her hair off her face.

“She was pregnant,” he said quietly.

Her head shot up. “What?” she whispered.

“With your sister.”

“Oh, God,” she breathed and ran a hand over her face. She would have had a little sister. Jesus, not only did they take her parents, they took her sister, too.

“They were afraid that she would be the one with the gift.”

Suddenly she wanted to get away, to run as far from there as possible, but that would accomplish nothing. It was ingrained in her to find answers and she owed it to her family to get all the information she could from this man. So, instead of running in the opposite direction, she forced herself to walk towards him and demand answers. “I want you to tell me everything you know,” she growled at him. She wanted so badly to hit him, but she knew that it would lead to nothing.

He nodded. “Fine, but wouldn’t you feel more comfortable if you sat down?” He gestured again to the fallen log.

Susan relented and sat down, crossing her legs. She brought her hands to her lap and clenched them together.

Jeremiah Smith stood in front of her.

“As I said, we have been watching you for a long time. Your mother had the gift, but was not as strong as you are. I do not know how they found out about her, but when they discovered that she could read people as you do, she became a threat.”

Susan interrupted him. “So they killed her,” she stated, the fire in her eyes returned.

He nodded. “Yes, and they thought they had ended the cycle. But when your name came across their desks as a new applicant in the Bureau they began to watch you again. They were concerned that they had not eliminated the problem, as they called it. Their technology was advancing and they decided that instead of disposing of you, they were going to study you.”

“I was going to be abducted?” she asked incredulously. Placing her hands next to her on the log to balance herself, she leaned forward.

“Yes, but you spoiled their plans when you became intimate with Agent Mulder. They didn’t want to prematurely start his interest in the X-Files, so they left you alone, but they still watched. What they didn’t know was that we were watching as well.”

“Why?”

“We have been working to stop their efforts and knew you and Agent Mulder were going to be the key,” he returned.

“The key to what?” she asked, narrowing her eyes at him.

He ignored her question. “We knew that you and Agent Mulder were not compatible, so we intervened.”

“What do you mean, intervened?” She sat up straight again.

“Do you believe in coincidences?”

She didn’t respond.

“Have you ever wondered why you were transferred right after you and Agent Mulder started to talk about marriage?”

“At the time I did,” she said.

“We knew that if we didn’t start the plan then, it would never happen. We had you transferred away from him, knowing that another woman was going to… distract him.”

“Diana Fowley,” she muttered her name like it was a curse.

He nodded. “Her purpose was to introduce him to the X-Files and to keep his mind off of you. It worked rather well, did it not?”

She frowned at him.

“She wasn’t supposed to come back though. And we feared that all of our work was for naught.”

“What work?”

“We are intrigued by your kind and have a particular interest in your genetics. We have come to know of a way to pair two people together who are genetically compatible. You and Agent Mulder are not, but you and Michael O’Sullivan are.”

Susan stood suddenly. “What the hell is that supposed to mean?” she shouted.

He sighed. “Please, let me explain.”

She stared at him then slowly sat back down. After all, she did want answers, she reminded herself.

“Thank you,” he said once she was settled back down. “We have a mole in their organization and he is the one who suggested Dana Scully be transferred to Agent Mulder and the X-Files. We knew they were genetically compatible. We also had Michael O’Sullivan transferred to you.”

Susan tightened her hold on her emotions. Christ, they were involved with her meeting Michael as well. She clenched her teeth. What else in her life was forced to happen?

“We know you believe all things happen for a reason. The future is the reason.”

Susan was starting to lose her patience, so she leaned back on a tree and spread her arms wide. “Please, enlighten me,” she said, falling back on her sarcasm.

Jeremiah Smith was silent for a moment, just looking at her. She could tell he was trying to come to a decision and knew he had come to it when he took a step closer and started speaking again. “You and Michael O’Sullivan have been working together recently to heighten his awareness, have you not?”

She didn’t answer, he already knew the answers to the questions he posed.

“Have you wondered why he can do it?” he asked, but didn’t wait for a response. “Michael O’Sullivan had an inactive gene that you triggered when he stepped into your office on October the twenty third, three and a half years ago. You both felt it.”

Susan nodded absently remembering their first meeting. It was the most intense moment in her life.

Jeremiah Smith nodded. “We felt it, too. The same happened when Agent Mulder and Dana Scully met, but they were unaware of it because they lack your insight, but you knew.”

“I knew they were supposed to be together,” she said quietly, remembering the pain she felt when she discovered that Mulder had fallen in love with his partner and out of love with her, but that was the past. She looked up at him. “Michael is like me?”

He shook his head. “No,” he said. “But because of him all of your children will be.”

“All of them? I thought you said only one female in a generation. I lost a baby and it was a girl,” she finished in a whisper, looking down at her hands.

He looked sadly at her. “We were very pleased to discover that you were pregnant and devastated when you lost her.”

“They didn’t…” she couldn’t finish the question. She swallowed a lump in her throat.

“No, they had nothing to do with you losing your child.”

“Did you?”

He shook his head. “We do not know why you lost her.”

Susan breathed out a sigh of relief. “You said all of my children will be like me, it’s because Michael has a touch of my gift?”

“A touch. And no, your children will not be like you, they will be stronger.”

“Stronger?” she asked. “Why?” she asked, perking up. She didn’t know if she wanted to put her children through what she did as a child. ‘But I will be there,’ she thought to herself, ‘to guide them, like my mother would have if those bastards hadn’t killed her.’ Her face fell into a grimace.

“Because they will be the product of you and Michael O’Sullivan,” he said.

Susan looked away from him towards the woods. She took a deep breath and stood. She had heard enough, now to the real reason she was in this damned place. “You know a lot of things, do you know where Agent Mulder is?”

He shook his head. “All I know is that he is not here.”

She should have expected that answer, she knew he wasn’t there the moment she got out of the car. “Fine, then where is he?”

“Hidden someplace where we can not locate him. We have tried.”

She stepped closer to him. “Then all of this was orchestrated to get me here.” Her patience was gone and she was starting to get tired of all this. “It was you that I felt out on the road,” she growled at him.

He nodded. “We were trying to lead you to this spot.”

“Why! Why tell me all of this? Why tell me my whole life has been manipulated into something you and they wanted! Why!” The anger was seeping out of her pores and he took a step back, startled.

“Because your children and Agent Mulder’s children will help fight the future and because your life and the lives of your loved ones are in danger and you need to know your enemies!”

“Fine, thanks for the tip,” she sneered and started to walk past him, but he grabbed her arm. It was the first contact they had through the entire encounter.

Every muscle in Susan’s body clenched and pain radiated throughout her body. She cried out and wrenched her arm away from him.

“What the hell was that?” she yelled at him, out of breath.

“That is what you will feel when he touches you.”

“Who?” she demanded.

“The one who has been sent to eliminate you. The one who took Agent Mulder. You need to know or you will not be able to stop him!”

“What, what do I need to know?!”

“That he can be anyone and anything. He has already gotten too close to you in the past and you need to be aware of how he feels.”

“How does he feel?” She cocked her head to the side.

“Like what you felt on the road, but you need to look further.”

“Where?” she asked.

“Go to the houses of Theresa Hoese and Billy Miles, he has been there, you will gain more insight.”

She nodded and started to head back to the woods, trying not to run.

“Susan,” he said, stopping her.

She turned to face him.

“You will need this,” he said as he took a silver cylindrical object out of his suit jacket and tossed it to her. “It must be stabbed into the base of the skull. It’s the only way to kill him.”

She caught it easily and brought it closer to her face to get a better look at it. She ran her thumb down it’s side to a small button and jerked her head back when what looked like an ice pick ejected out of it, making a ‘shhtt’ noise. When she looked back to him, he was gone. She looked around but he was nowhere to be seen.

Susan pushed the button again and the ice pick returned back into the cylinder. Shoving it into her back pocket, she headed out of the clearing. She couldn’t get out of there fast enough.

***

 

Michael felt all the hair on the back of his neck stand on end and a tingling sensation race down his spine. He spun around to see Susan walking toward him, her eyes cast down at the ground. She looked emotionally spent, but he didn’t care. All that mattered was that she was back.

“SUSAN!” he yelled and ran towards her, his heart pounding in his chest.

Scully turned from talking to a uniformed police officer to see Michael wrap his arms tightly around her, lifting her off the ground. He buried his face in her hair.

“Oh, God,” he mumbled against her skin. “I thought I lost you.”

“Jesus, Mike, I’ve only been gone for about 45 minutes.” She couldn’t understand his reaction.

He loosened his grip on her and leaned back to look at her face. “45 minutes?” he asked incredulously. “You’ve been gone for six hours.”

Her eyes widened. “What?”

He showed her his watch. It read 4:05.

She looked down at her own watch. It said it was 10:09 in the morning.

Part 7

Susan looked back up at Michael. “That can’t be,” she said with astonishment. She shook her head and scanned her surroundings, her eyes settling on Scully who was making her way over to them. “It’s not possible,” she whispered.

“Susan,” Scully said breathlessly. “Are you all right?”

She slowly nodded and glanced back at Michael who was watching her. “Yeah, I’m fine,” she said and turned to Scully. “What the hell is going on? Why are all these cops here?” she asked, indicating the sea of uniforms before her.

Scully narrowed her eyes at her, then looked past her to Michael.

He shook his head. “She doesn’t know how long she’s been gone, she thinks it was only about 45 minutes.”

“Ma’am?” A fresh faced police officer asked as he approached Scully. “Is this the woman we were looking for?” He tilted his chin toward Susan.

Scully nodded. “Yes.”

“Ma’am,” the officer said to Susan. “May I speak with you for a moment?”

Susan shook her head. “No,” she said, starting to walk away. “I have to go.”

“Wait,” he said reaching out to her, but she shied away from the contact and he dropped his hand. “Can you,” he started. “Do you know anything about Billy?” he asked timidly, looking down at the ground.

Susan closed her eyes and took a deep breath. “No,” she said quietly, opening her eyes. “But we’re doing our best to find him.”

He raised his face to her and nodded. “OK,” he whispered and looked down again.

Susan put her hand on his shoulder. “What’s your name?” she asked.

He took a deep breath. “Rob, Robert Morganstern.”

“Rob,” she said softly. God, he can’t be older than twenty. “Were you friends with Billy?”

He nodded, still looking down at the ground. “He helped get me the on the job.”

“Rob, look at me,” she requested kindly.

He did as she asked.

Susan squeezed his shoulder and concentrated on her hand. Rob felt a warmth spread throughout his body and relaxed. “We are doing everything we can to find Billy and everyone else, OK?”

He nodded.

“We’ll find him,” she stated firmly.

Rob sniffed loudly and nodded. “Thank you ma’am.”

Susan smiled and released him. “Come on,” she said to Michael and Scully then started toward the car.

“Susan!” Michael shouted at her.

She stopped and turned to him, an impatient look on her face. She didn’t know why, but she felt a sense of urgency and didn’t want to waste any more time.

“Susan,” he said again. “What’s going on, where have you been?”

Susan squared her shoulders. “I don’t want to talk about it right now, give me a little time,” she said then started to walk away from him.

“Susan?” he asked sounding lost. “What the hell?”

Susan spun around to face him. “I told you!” She shouted then took a deep breath trying to calm herself; her emotions were all screwed up right now and she wanted time to process the information she received from Jeremiah Smith. “I just need some time. Now come on, I have some things I want to check out,” she said and turned toward the car again.

Michael’s hand shot out and grabbed her upper arm. Susan hitched in a breath and violently wrenched herself from his grasp. She looked at him, her eyes smoldering with anger.

Michael’s mouth dropped open. “You’re blocking me,” he said incredulously.

“I told you I needed time,” she said slowly, in a low voice. She approached him, stopping close enough to smell the day’s heat on his skin. “And you ignore my request and try to read it from me. WHO THE FUCK DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?!” She knew she was overreacting, but she couldn’t stop herself. It felt good to finally lash out; too bad it had to be at Michael.

Michael was too stunned by her outburst to respond.

“Susan,” Scully said carefully, trying to calm her down.

“NO!” she shouted, her eyes still locked with Michael’s. “Just give me time and I will tell you everything.” She turned her back to them and continued toward the car.

Michael and Scully shared a glance then followed her. It was either that or be left behind since she had already started the car. At least she waited for them.

***

 

Susan paused as she walked up the front porch of Billy Miles’ home.

“What is it,” Scully asked from behind her. “What are we looking for?”

Susan looked at her over her shoulder. “We’re not looking for anything, I was told to come here to feel something,” she said as she picked the lock.

Michael, who was supposed to be keeping watch, crossed his arms over his chest and leaned against one of the posts on the front porch and looked down the street. A family was loading luggage into a minivan obviously going on a vacation. A little girl with blond pigtails was jumping up and down, excited about going away. Michael sighed and turned his attention back to Susan and Scully.

“What are you supposed to feel?” Scully asked.

Susan pushed the front door open. “A man who can be any man.”

Scully gasped. “Who told you to you to come here?” she asked softly.

Susan frowned, not really listening to her, as she looked around the living room. “What?” Susan asked, walking toward her and motioning her back out on the front porch.

Scully watched Susan close and relock the door. “Who told you to come here?”

Susan glanced at her then looked past her to Michael. He was looking back down the street. Susan followed his eyes and saw a man put a suitcase into a minivan, then close the sliding door. She watched as a woman, his wife, locked their daughter into a car seat. She felt Michael’s eyes on her and looked back to him. Their eyes made contact for the briefest moment before he looked away and started toward the car.

Scully watched the interaction between them, aware of the tension. She sighed. “Susan?” she ventured.

“Huh?” she asked, a frown on her face.

“Who asked you to come here?” Scully asked slowly.

Susan watched Michael’s retreating back, then licked her lips nervously and looked at Scully. She took a deep breath and said, “He called himself Jeremiah Smith.”

Scully’s eyes widened. “What was.. what did he,” she started. “Does he know anything about Mulder?” she asked rapidly.

Susan shook her head. “No, he didn’t know anything about Mulder.” She walked to the car, Scully following close behind.

“Then what did he tell you?”

Susan ran a hand through her hair. She was tired and didn’t want to deal with this. “Nothing I want to talk about right now,” she said opening the car door.

“Does it have anything to do with finding Mulder?” she asked hopefully.

Susan shook her head again. “No, and you know I would tell you if it did,” she said, sitting down. Michael already had the engine running and didn’t even look up when she sat down.

Scully sighed and closed her eyes. She was stuck in the middle of a lovers’ quarrel. She shook her head and looked out the window. What she wouldn’t give to be arguing with Mulder right about now.

***

 

6:38

After they checked out Billy Miles’ house they headed to Theresa Hoese’s house. Susan’s failure to explain what she was doing and what she was sensing just added to the tension between her and Michael.

As soon as Susan walked into Theresa’s house, she went straight to the nursery. Scully followed, but Michael lingered in the entrance. Scully could tell that his patience was wearing thin and he would only put up with Susan’s silence for a little bit longer.

Michael sighed, trying to control his anger. Susan would know how terrified he was while she was gone if she wasn’t so hell bent on blocking him and finding what this person she spoke to while she was missing had told her to find. He had never seen her so focused on anything before and not tell him what was going on. Part of him was frightened for her, part of him was extremely pissed off at her. So, instead of watching her do what she was so adamant about doing, he decided not follow, but to wander around the house and see if there was anything that looked out of place.

Susan entered the room and crouched down in front of a burn mark on the green carpet with Scully standing just inside the room. Susan reached out her right hand and let it hover over the spot. A look of curiosity crossed her face, but as she ran her fingers along the carpet, she gasped.

“Susan?” Scully asked with concern and came to crouch next to her.

Scully watched as Susan’s hand started to shake violently. Her face pulled into a painful grimace and she let out a moan. She tried to use her left hand to steady her right, but it didn’t have any effect. It felt as if all the muscles in her arm cramped simultaneously.

Susan fell to her knees, the grip on her right arm was so tight it caused her knuckles to turn white. “God,” she gasped in a tight voice. The pain in her right arm intensified and she doubled over with her arm held against her chest.

“Oh, God, Susan,” Scully said urgently. “What’s going on? Are you all right?”

Susan moaned and sat back on her legs. She nodded, the pain starting to wear off. “Yeah,” she said, panting. “Yeah,” she said again in a stronger voice. “I think I’m OK.” She slowly released the grip on her right arm, leaving red finger marks in its place. She shook her hand out and took a deep breath in an effort to control her breathing.

“What happened?” Scully asked as she reached out to take a look at Susan’s arm.

Susan allowed her to look, but didn’t answer.

“Susan,” she prompted.

She raised her eyes to meet Scully’s, they were intense, but held a deep fear behind them. “I’m not sure,” she said quietly, “but I think I knew that was going to happen.”

Scully’s brow formed a crease in the middle. “Why?”

Susan ran a trembling hand across her forehead. “While I was,” she started. “When I was out in the woods, the man,” she shook her head. “Jeremiah Smith grabbed my arm, the same thing happened. He said that if the other. man touched me it would happen, too.”

Scully slowly nodded.

“But he’s not a man,” Susan said.

Scully shook her head.

Susan pinched her lips and looked down at the carpet. “Jeremiah Smith told me that this. thing is what took Mulder,” she said. “And that I need to know how he feels.”

“Why?”

Susan licked her lips and looked away. “Because I need to know my enemies if I am to help fight the future.”

Scully studied her face, then sighed. “Susan,” she said softly.

Susan turned her head to look at her again.

“I’m sorry I brought you into this,” she said. “I didn’t even think about the fact that I’m putting you and Michael in danger.”

Susan frowned at her.

Scully stood.

“Dana,” Susan said. “What are you talking about?”

Scully brushed a lock of hair back behind her ear. “If it wasn’t for me.”

Susan interrupted her. “NO!” she said admittedly. “It’s not you,” she said and took a step closer to her. “They’ve known about me for a long time, longer than I’ve known about me.”

“What?” Scully asked, confused.

Susan shook her head. “It’s not important.” She touched her arm. “Just know that none of this is your fault. It’s their fault,” she said with conviction, her eyes burning bright blue with determination. “They don’t know what they’ve gotten themselves into.” With that, she turned and walked out of the room, leaving Scully to watch her stride out of the room like a woman on a mission.

***

 

Bellefleur, Oregon

Shady Grove Motel

7:58 PM

As they walked toward their rooms, with a rumble of thunder, the sky opened up. When they reached their rooms, the trio was completely drenched.

Susan turned to Scully as she slid her key into the lock. “Pizza again?” she asked.

Scully nodded. “Sure.”

“OK, I’ll call, meet you here in a few minutes?”

Scully nodded again.

Michael opened the door to their room and Susan stepped inside. “Hey,” he whispered to Scully before she closed her door.

“Yeah,” she said.

“Could you give us a few minutes?” he asked carefully.

Scully gave him a tight smile. “I wanted to take a shower before dinner anyway.”

Michael gave her a curt nod. “Thanks,” he said. Taking a deep breath, he closed the door.

Susan walked out of the bathroom toweling off her hair. She looked up at him. “Want this?” she asked, indicating the towel.

He shook his head.

“OK,” she said and reached for the phone.

Michael reached out to lay a hand over hers, halting her movements. Susan froze.

“That can wait.”

Susan swallowed and removed her hand from under his. “Mike,” she said, looking at his chest.

“NO,” he said.

“Mike, please I don’t want to get into this right now.”

Michael clenched his jaw. “Get into what?” he asked sarcastically. “I don’t even know what the hell is going on!”

“Mike,”

“NO!” he shouted. “You were gone for SIX HOURS! SIX HOURS!” he voice rose in volume. “DO YOU KNOW HOW SCARED I WAS?!” He turned his back to her and ran a hand through his hair.

Susan opened her mouth to respond, but he didn’t let her.

He spun around. “NO! YOU WOULDN’T KNOW, WOULD YOU?” he asked, not expecting an answer. “GOD DAMN IT SUSAN, YOU TOOK OFF!” His voice squeaked on the last word and he swallowed. “YOU TOOK OFF WITHOUT EVEN GIVING ME THE OPPORTUNITY TO CATCH UP WITH YOU! AND WHEN I FINALLY THOUGHT I REACHED YOU, YOU WERE GONE! GONE! JESUS CHRIST, SUSAN, WHAT THE HELL WERE YOU THINKING?”

“I was following a lead,” she said weakly.

Michael snorted. “A six hour lead,” he said sarcastically. He shook his head. “And when you came back, you wouldn’t talk to me.”

“Mike,” she said through clenched teeth. “I asked you to give me time.” She was starting to get annoyed, now.

“Time?” he asked. “How much fucking time do you need? God damn it Susan, I thought we could tell each other everything,” he sighed. “But I guess that’s only when it’s convenient for you.”

Susan’s eyes widened. “What the hell’s that supposed to mean?” she shouted back.

He shook his head. “When something happens to me, and I don’t want to talk about it, you just read it from me, but when I go to do it to you, you practically jump down my fucking throat.”

“I’m not having this conversation right now,” she said picking up the towel from where she dropped it on the bed. “I’m going to take a shower.”

“The hell you are!” Michael shouted and grabbed her arm.

Susan shoved him away. “Don’t ever fucking do that again!” she shouted.

“You’re not leaving until we finish this!”

“And who the hell do you think you are?”

Michael gave her a pained smile. “I thought I was the man you were going to marry.”

Susan looked at him, her mouth agape. She physically shook herself and took a step towards him. “Fine!” she said and placed both hands on his chest, giving him a hard shove, but he didn’t move. She tightened her jaw. “You want to know what happened?”

He didn’t respond.

“I JUST FOUND OUT THAT MY WHOLE GOD DAMNED LIFE HAS BEEN MANIPULATED FROM THE BEGINNING! MULDER, YOU, EVERYTHING IS BECAUSE OF THEM!”

“What the hell are you talking about?”

“THEY KNOW EVERYTHING! THEY KILLED MY PARENTS!” she yelled, tears forming in her eyes.

“Susan,” he started, taking a step towards her.

“NO! You wanted to know everything, so I’m going to tell you everything!” she paused. “MY MOTHER WAS LIKE ME!”

Michael frowned.

She nodded. “She had my gift and they were afraid of her, so they killed her, my father was just happened to be there. And here’s the rub. She was pregnant!”

“Pregnant?”

“With my sister. Because I hadn’t shown the signs of having the gift, they left me alive. I had to grow up without my parents, thinking I was a freak and having no one to help me.”

Michael didn’t know what to say. Because she was so upset, she didn’t realize that she had lost her block on him. Michael got to feel every bit of emotion she was feeling.

“And you want to know what’s worse?” She spat at him. “Their enemies played matchmaker.”

“What?”

She nodded. “Yep, they didn’t think Mulder and I should be together, so they transferred me. And because they thought we would make such a cute couple they transferred you to me.”

“What are you talking about?”

“You never asked for a transfer, did you?” she asked.

Michael shook his head.

“No, you didn’t. But they thought we should be together, so they transferred you to New York and if you had said no, it would have been career suicide, so you had to go.”

He nodded.

“You didn’t want to go did you?”

He didn’t move.

“DID YOU?”

He reluctantly shook his head.

“So, the man I thought I met and fell in love with because of fate was nothing more than someone’s idea of matchmaking.”

“Susan,” he said incredulously. “You’re questioning our relationship?”

“What the hell am I supposed to think?”

“I can’t believe what you’re saying.”

“Well, you’re the one who wanted me to talk,” she said.

“Who the hell cares how we met? Why can’t you just focus on the fact that we did.”

“Because my whole life has been a lie,” she said and turned her back to him.

Michael opened and closed his mouth rhythmically. He blinked and a tear rolled down his cheek. He stood rooted in place, then thrust his hands in his pockets, searching for his keys.

Susan turned around at the sound of the jingling of the keys. “Where are you going?”

Michael wrenched the door open. “I’ve, I’ve gotta go, I have to get out of here.”

“Michael it’s pouring outside,” she said, coming to stand beside him.

“I need to get out of here.”

“Mike,” she said reaching out to him, but he moved away.

He looked down at the ground, not wanting to meet her eyes. “You know,” he said softly. “I don’t care if someone orchestrated our meeting.” He looked up at her, his eyes brimming with tears. “All I know is that I fell in love with you the moment I met you,” he said and walked out of the room, practically closing the door in her face.

 Part 8

Susan slowly sat down on the bed and cradled her head in her hands, the heels of her palms pushing into her eyes, her fingers tangled in her hair.

She sighed. “Jesus Christ I’m an asshole,” she whispered.

She didn’t look up when there was a knock on the adjoining door or when Scully opened it and walked over to her.

“You know he was frantic while you were gone,” Scully said softly.

Susan slowly raised her head to look at her. Her eyes were red, but no tears fell.

Scully gave her an embarrassed smile and shrugged. “I couldn’t help but overhear.”

Susan returned the smile. “I’m sure the whole motel couldn’t help but overhear.”

Scully nodded and walked over the to the window. She pushed some blinds apart to peer out into the rainy darkness. “It’s really pouring out there. Do you think he’ll be all right?”

Susan breathed in slowly. “He’d better be.”

Scully nodded absently. “He’s only acting the way I wish I could.” She spoke so softly, Susan almost didn’t hear her.

“Then why aren’t’ you?”

Scully turned to look at her. “Because that’s all I’d be doing,” she stated.

Susan looked down at her hands.

She cleared her throat. “What did he have to say about Mulder?” Scully asked. “Jeremiah Smith,” she clarified.

Susan ran a hand over her eyes and sighed. “He said that he doesn’t know where he is and is apparently being held somewhere his group can’t penetrate.”

“His group?”

Susan nodded.

“Do you believe him?”

Before Susan could answer, Scully’s cell phone rang in her room. She frowned at Susan then went to answer it. Susan trailed slowly behind her and leaned on the door jamb listening to the one sided conversation.

Susan sensed a feeling of alarm rise in Scully and stood up straight when she hung up the phone.

“That was Skinner,” Scully said. “He got a call from a friend about a man supposedly being knocked down a flight of stairs at Watergate.”

Susan shrugged. “So, what does that have to do with us?”

“He said that friend was Krycek.”

“Alex Krycek?”

Scully nodded. “Mulder told you about him?”

“Mmm, and what he didn’t tell me I read from him,” Susan said as she walked back into her room.

Scully followed her. “I wish I could do that to him sometimes.”

Susan turned around to face her. “Mulder can be very dark, I’m not sure you would like some of the things you would see.”

“All of us can be dark sometimes.”

Susan looked at her, feeling the seriousness of that statement. “So,” she said, turning around to gather her things for a shower. “Who’s the poor schmuck who got knocked down the stairs?”

Scully watched her rummage through her suitcase and toss a pair of black Calvin Klein boxer-briefs onto the bed, then triumphantly pull out a cream colored satin bra. Susan would have to remember to let Michael pack next time.

“Skinner said the man was C.G.B. Spender.”

“Is he dead?” Susan asked as she faced Scully.

Scully shrugged and walked over to the window again. “I don’t know.”

“Well, can you make the reservations to get us back to DC? You can use my credit card, it’s in my wallet in my jacket.”

Scully nodded, not really listening to her.

“I’m going to go take a quick shower. Michael should be back by the time I’m done.”

Scully nodded again.

Susan stood looking at her. She obviously wasn’t listening and didn’t get the hint that Susan wanted to undress, so she shrugged and started to unbutton her jeans.

Scully sighed loudly and started to turn around when a pair of jeans flew past her and landed on the chair next to the window. They slid off the chair and fell on the floor making a loud thumping noise. A silver cylindrical object rolled out of the back pocket.

Scully gasped and crouched down to pick it up. Rising slowly, she slid her finger down until it hit the small button and an icepick-like object ejected from the top. She looked up at Susan.

“Where did you get this?”

Susan was in the process of pulling her shirt over her head and didn’t answer her.

“Were you going to tell me about this?”

She finally succeed in getting the shirt off, leaving her hair in a mess around her face.

“I forgot about it,” she said as she threw the shirt on the bed and turned to face her, wearing only a white tank top and white binkis.

“You forgot about it?” Scully asked. She approached her quickly to stand in front of her. “How could you forget about this? Do you know what this is?”

Susan reached out to take the stiletto from Scully, who gave it to her reluctantly. Susan pushed the button, forcing the pick back down. She looked at Scully, locking eyes with her.

“You push this button.” The pick shot out and she turned her back to her, then lifted up her hair to show the back of her neck. “And you jab this into the base of the skull.” She demonstrated the move then turned around again. “He told me how to use it.”

“Why did he give it to you?”

“Because I’m on a hit list.”

“What?!” she exclaimed.

“Smith told me that the same. thing that took Mulder is going to try to kill me.”

“Why?”

Susan gave her a slow smile. “Apparently, I’m a threat,” she said as she put the stiletto into a small compartment in her carry on.

Scully shook her head. “Did you tell Michael this?”

Susan ran her fingers through her hair.

“Susan.”

She looked at her. “No, I didn’t tell him.”

“Why not?”

“Because,” she paused, closing her eyes. She opened her mouth to continue when the door opened.

Michael stepped in and closed the door behind him. He stopped and looked from Scully to Susan, then scanned his eyes down to Susan’s bare legs, taking in the fact that she was wearing only a tank top and panties. He couldn’t resist.

“Am I interrupting something?”

Susan gave him a pinched smile. “I’m going in the shower.” She turned to Scully. “Dana, can you please fill him in as to what’s going on?” She looked at her for a moment longer than necessary.

Scully nodded, understanding the unspoken plea. She wouldn’t betray Susan’s trust.

“Thank you,” she said then turned and walked into the bathroom, slamming the door behind her.

Michael glanced at Scully. He wasn’t lost on the exchange and Susan wasn’t making an attempt to block him, but he didn’t get angry, he was just too damn tired. All he wanted to do then was climb into bed and fall into unconsciousness.

Scully pointed to the open suitcase on the bed. “Better get packing, we’re going back to DC, there’s been a development.”

Michael tried not to look put out, but he couldn’t stop a sigh. There went his plans. “News about Mulder?” he asked.

Scully shook her head. “Not exactly.”

***

 

The Watergate

June 20th

10:13 AM

The flight back to DC was uneventful as was the car ride to The Watergate. However, it was relatively silent, at least between Michael and Susan. They spoke to Scully, but barely to each other. They were civilized, but even an outside observer could see the tension. Since they made the reservations so late, they all had to sit apart. Scully was relieved at this, she hadn’t slept well the night before and didn’t feel up to being stuck in the middle of their problems. At least the flight provided something more than dry chicken and rocks the airline called brownies, they got some much needed time apart from each other. None of them got any real sleep and spent most of the flight either mindlessly watching the in-flight movie or staring out into space. Still, it provided them with some time to reflect on the events of the day.

They were stopped outside apartment 313 by a uniformed police officer. “I’m sorry, but no one is allowed in here,” the man said in a surprisingly low voice.

Scully flashed her badge. “I’m Special Agent Dana Scully, these are Agents Halloway and O’Sullivan,” she said in a no nonsense tone.

The man frowned. “Who the hell called the FBI?” he asked.

“The president,” Michael deadpanned as he pushed his way past him into the apartment.

“Yeah,” Susan stated. “We’re looking for a blue dress.”

He opened his mouth to protest as Susan moved past him, but anything that he was going to say was forgotten when she slid her hand against his chest.

Scully watched in fascination as a curious look crossed his face. He shook his head as if to clear it then looked around him like he had forgotten what he was doing. She heard him mutter something to himself then retake his position at the door. She smiled and followed Michael and Susan. Her gift sure came in handy sometimes.

The living room was filled with men and women dressed in dark suits wandering around and occasionally gesturing to a chalk outline on the floor. Scully noticed that Susan and Michael were talking animatedly to a small man on the far side of the room, their laughter out of place in a room where it was obvious someone had died.

“Dana,” Michael said as he drew her near them. “This is Philip Rodgriguez of the DCPD.”

Scully smiled at him.

Philip reached out to shake her hand. “I arrested Mike’s brother once,” he blurted out, grinning at her. He had a barely noticeable Spanish accent.

Scully’s eye brows shot up.

Michael laughed. “Susie and I were out here about two years ago with Ryan’s family,” Michael explained. “One night Ryan and I went out to a pub and when I was in the restroom, apparently Ryan wondered outside bombed out of his mind.” “I found him urinating on some guy’s BMW,” Philip added.

Susan shook her head, amused.

“Philip was in the process of trying to get handcuffs on ‘im when I was told by the waitress what was going on,” Michael said as he patted him on the back. “Notice I said ‘trying’.”

Susan laughed. “The thing is,” she said to Scully. “Ryan is about two inches shorter than Mike, but still towered over Philip easily.”

Michael smiled. “Yeah, and he weighs about 30 pounds more than me.”

Scully looked over to the Philip. He had to have been about the same height as her. She could just imagine how difficult it would be to handcuff Michael’s brother sober, let alone drunk.

“It must have been some sight,” she said dryly.

Michael smiled at her. “It was. But after I told him about Ryan’s marital problems and who I was, he released ‘im into my custody.”

“After he promised to repay the favor,” Philip said.

Michael glanced at him, the smile still present on his lips. “Which I think you called in not soon after,” he said.

Philip rolled his eyes. “Jesus,” he swore. “I don’t even want to remember that day.”

Michael’s grin widened and he looked at Susan. She was also smiling, not at Philip, but at him. Their eyes locked for a moment then Michael gestured to the next room. “Well, I think it’s time I called in that favor you owe me,” he said.

They walked into the kitchen and Philip asked the men in the room for some privacy. They grumbled in annoyance, but left anyway.

“What do you need Mike?” Philip asked, all business now.

Michael looked at Scully. “We need some information.”

“What do you need to know?”

It was Scully who spoke next. “We need to know exactly what happened here.”

Philip frowned. “Why?”

“It has something to do with a case we’re working on,” Susan said. “That’s all we can tell you.”

He sighed. “All right,” he said then began to explain the events of the previous evening.

A call had gotten through to the 911 dispatcher from a neighbor, that a man in a wheelchair had been pushed down a flight of stairs. When the neighbor went to see what happened, he found the man’s caretaker dead in the living room, strangled to death. The man was lying motionless in a crumpled heap at the bottom of the stairs, his wheelchair nothing more than twisted metal around him. That was when the neighbor rushed into his apartment and called the police. When they arrived, they found the neighbor sitting on the couch staring at the wall with a blank look on his face. When the paramedics arrived, he was just starting to come around and could only say that a large man had come in and taken the man from the bottom of the stairs.

“What did this man look like?” Scully asked, but she all ready knew the answer.

“He couldn’t say, he was pretty out of it,” Philip said.

Scully’s lips formed a thin line and she nodded. “Thanks,” she said.

He nodded in reply.

“Yeah, thanks Philip,” Michael said. “You’ve been a lot of help.”

He smiled. “I guess we’re even now, huh?”

Michael returned the smile. “I guess we are.”

***

 

They were walking down the hall when Susan motioned them to stop. “I didn’t want to say this in there, but I got the same feeling I got in Oregon.”

Michael crossed his arms over his chest.

“What else did you get?” Scully asked.

Susan breathed in deeply. “Well, for starters, C.G.B Spender was dead when he was taken out of the room.”

“Anything more?”

Susan made a face. “Nothing I can decipher without more time, but I don’t think it would be helpful.”

Scully nodded.

When they reached the lobby, Susan stopped them again. She leaned in to them and spoke softly. “For some reason, I don’t think it’s a good idea for us to back to your apartment tonight,” she said to Scully.

Scully frowned. “Why?”

Susan shook her head. “I don’t know, but something is telling me not to go to your apartment.” She looked at Michael.

“What exactly are you feeling?” He asked with an annoyed tone. He didn’t really expect her to explain.

She gave him a hard long look. She knew what he was doing and she’d be damned if she allowed him to start another argument over this. So, instead, she clasped his hand.

To say he was surprised by her gesture would be an understatement, but if he had made the effort to read her since they left for the airport in Oregon, he wouldn’t have been. She truly regretted what she had said. He looked down at their joined hands and furrowed his brow when he felt the sensation of apprehension and something else pass from her to him. He looked into her eyes and felt a twinge of fear run through him. She was right, they shouldn’t leave.

Scully silently watched the two of them, feeling not for the first time, jealousy of their connection. She always felt like such an outsider at times like this. She patiently waited for them to address her.

Michael lowered their joined hands and looked at Scully. “I think she’s right.”

Scully sighed. “Fine,” she said crossing her arms over her chest. “Where do you want to go then?”

Susan glanced at Michael. “Do you think you could get us a room?” she asked.

Michael took a deep breath and released it slowly. “Yeah,” he said letting go of her hand. “Stay here, I’ll be right back.”

Susan smiled. “I’ll stay right here,” she said pointing to the carpet.

He narrowed his eyes at her.

Susan’s smile widened. “Cross my heart,” she said innocently then made a cross on her chest.

Michael smiled and shook his head as he walked towards the concierge’s desk.

When he returned, Scully discovered that the room wasn’t really a room, but a two bedroom suite. Part of her could get used to their seemingly unlimited expense account.

The suite overlooked the Potomac river and the living room had floor to ceiling windows. It had a small kitchen and a small refrigerator fully stocked with bottled water and various other items.

The first thing Susan did when she entered the room was kick off her shoes and remove her suit jacket, leaving it draped over a chair in the living room. She headed straight for the phone and ordered them all a large breakfast. When Scully heard what Susan was ordering, she could practically feel her arteries clogging. It was a miracle Susan wasn’t as big as a house. Scully asked her once about her eating habits and Susan explained that she seems to burn calories very fast and even faster when she uses her gift a lot and she’s been using it almost constantly since this whole thing started.

Scully sighed. She’d just have pick out what she didn’t want to eat.

“Don’t worry Dana,” Susan said as she placed the phone back in its cradle. “I made sure to order something healthy for the two of you.” She pointed to her stomach and smiled. “I know how important it is for you to eat correctly right now.”

***

 

After breakfast, they all agreed that it would be a good idea for all of them to get a little sleep and retire to their rooms.

Michael stepped out of the bathroom, steam trailing after him. He stopped and looked over to the woman sleeping on the bed.

Susan was facing away from him, her right arm curled under her pillow, supporting her head. Her left hand clenched the sheets in her fist. All the lights were out, but light streamed in from the cracks in the curtains allowing him to see her chest rise and fall. He ran a hand over his freshly shaved face and tossed the towel he was holding in the other hand onto the bathroom floor. It almost killed him not to pick it up and hang it over the shower doors, but he didn’t feel like making the effort. He padded noiselessly over to the bed and drew back the covers. Susan shifted and he felt her waken. She didn’t turn to face him, though, she was waiting to see what he would do. He knew she didn’t want to fight anymore and was trying let him decide as to what was going to happen next. He slowly slid in between the sheets and extended his hand out to rest on her waist. She still didn’t turn over. He tugged her gently towards him as he shaped himself around her, his knees resting against the back of her thighs. He tightened his grip around her waist and nestled his face in her hair. She smiled when she heard him take a deep breath and kiss the back of her neck. She slowly relaxed and drifted off.

***

 

Scully turned off the shower and slid the shower door open. She reached for a small towel and dried her hair. Steam rapidly swirled around the room toward the ceiling fan. As she wrapped a towel around her body, she caught a glimpse of herself in the fogged full length mirror on the bathroom door. She slowly lowered the towel and stepped closer to her reflection. Wiping the steam from the mirror, her eyes moved from her slightly larger breasts to her lower abdomen. She grimaced at the sight of the scar from the bullet she took during her time under Kersh, but it didn’t linger on her features. A lazy smile formed on her lips as she caressed her belly. It was still relatively flat, but soon she wouldn’t be able to hide it. She still couldn’t believe there was a baby growing in there. Suddenly, she wanted to call her mother and tell her the news, but she quickly remembered that her mother was in Pennsylvania with Bill visiting her aunt. She frowned. Bill. Now, there was a problem. She was pregnant by the man he despises. The frown turned into a grin. She would have to make sure she tells him in person, there was no way she would give up the chance to see his face. Even in her thirties, she had the urges of a little sister. No wonder he used to call her a brat. She chuckled out loud, Mulder would be so proud of her right now.

 Part 9

7:02 PM

June 20

Susan’s eye’s blinked open. For a moment, she couldn’t figure out were she was. Then she remembered that she was at The Watergate. She smiled to herself. It was an occupational hazard she couldn’t seem to get used to.

She could feel Michael curled up around her, his arm draped over her waist, his warmth burning her through her back. She was surprised he was still asleep. Usually, he was the one to wake up first which caused her to awaken. She turned over carefully to face him. The faint light from the windows fell across his features. He looked so young and relaxed in his sleep. It was rare that she had the opportunity to study him like this. There was no doubt in her mind about how attractive he was. His dark eyelashes were the envy of women all over and they gently caressed his cheeks as his eyes moved beneath the lids. If she wanted, she could see what he was dreaming, but she didn’t want to risk the chance that she might wake him. He pursed his lips and her eyes were drawn to his slightly full bottom lip. Mmm, she loved his mouth, it was one of the things she loved most about him. He shifted, causing a lock of hair to fall over his forehead. It was black and silky in the dimness and curled a little, making him look like Superman. She chuckled silently, he definitely had his body. During one of their first nights together, she asked him why he worked out as much as he did. Did he like the way it made him feel? He gave her an embarrassed smile and shrugged. He said no, actually he didn’t like it, but he liked the way it looked. So he was a little vain, who knew? She grinned at him as she ran her hand over his chest, circling his pecks. She nodded. ‘Oh God yes, it looked good,’ she said before she kissed him, then murmured against his lips ‘and it felt good, too.’ He laughed out loud and flipped her on her back then slid his hand up and down her leg. Cupping her buttocks, he asked her the same question about running. She had answered honestly, yes it did feel good. Her mind is always so active, but when she ran, all she had to do was think about pumping her arms and legs and regulating her breathing. She also had to admit that she kind of liked the way it looked, too. He smiled at her and told her he agreed, then showed her how much he liked it. Funny, her mind wasn’t very active soon after their conversation. All thinking was lost in a haze of ecstasy.

Susan smiled at the memory. How could she even doubt her feelings for this man? She sighed. Sometimes, she could be such an ass.

Michael shifted again and she felt him rise to consciousness. She looked over at the clock. 7:07. She could feel Scully moving around in her room across from them, then startled slightly when she heard her stomach growl. Jesus, it’s as if she was hungry all the time, now.

“Hungry again?” Michael murmured, sleepily.

Susan smiled. “Mmmm, can’t seem to eat enough lately.”

He opened his eyes. “Soon, you’ll be rivaling me.”

She laughed. “That’ll be the day.”

He smiled at her and drew his hands out from under the covers to cup her face. He grew serious as he studied her.

She leaned towards him to kiss him briefly.

“Are we OK now?” he asked nervously.

She gave him a sad look. “We were never not OK.”

He nodded.

Susan placed both hands on his chest, pushing him to lay on his back. She threw the covers back and straddled his waist. Slowly, she slid her hands up from his stomach to his neck then to cover his ears. She leaned down to touch her forehead to his and closed her eyes. She breathed in deeply. Allowing her mind to go blank, she concentrated on three words.

Michael heard her voice in his mind as she said I love you.

She released the breath she was holding and moved back to look at him.

He was smiling up at her. It was the smile that made her feel all gooey inside.

Faintly, in the background, they heard a phone ring, but ignored it. They were too caught up in their feelings of each other.

Michael drew her down to him and kissed her hungrily, thrusting his tongue into her mouth. She moaned. Susan shifted her pelvis down a little and they both groaned at the contact. He slowly moved his hands down to her hips, then up to push her shirt to her shoulders, still maintaining the link between their mouths. Her hair fell around him as she tilted her head to get a better angle for their mouths.

Suddenly, there was a knock at the door and it opened.

“Hey guys, time to wake up,” Scully said as she pushed the door open.

Susan shot up and violently tugged her shirt down then quickly rolled to lay next to Michael, almost falling off the bed in her haste. They both blinked at her with wide eyes, slightly out of breath. They looked like two teenagers who just got caught making out on the sofa by the girl’s father.

Scully gasped and turned away from them. “Oh, God, I’m sorry. I didn’t hear anything, I thought you were still sleeping!” she exclaimed. “I’m sorry,” she said, then slammed the door behind her.

Susan’s head fell back to the pillow. Michael felt her shaking, then shudder as laughter escaped her. “Well, I guess we’re even now,” she said in between her guffaws.

***

 

7:35 PM

June 20

Susan walked into the main room dressed in a large white cotton robe. Her wet hair was slicked back on her head and was dripping.

Scully didn’t look up from her meal as Susan sat down opposite her and picked up a fork. While Susan was in the shower, Scully ordered dinner, making sure to get something healthy.

Susan looked down at the plate in front of her then to Scully, a grimace on her face. “What is this?” she asked.

Scully still didn’t look up. “Veggie burger, steamed broccoli and carrots and a baked potato,” she stated.

Susan tried not to appear nauseous. “Gee, thanks,” she said sarcastically.

Scully didn’t reply.

Susan sighed then looked around the room, noticing that Mike wasn’t around. “Where’s Mike?” she asked.

Scully swallowed. “He ahh, said he needed to get some fresh air.”

Susan smiled, finding Scully’s discomfort amusing. “Is that what they call it now?”

Suddenly Scully looked up at her. “Susan I’m really sorry about. about walking in on you guys, I really should’ve knocked, I had no right,” she said in a rush.

Susan’s smile widened and she let out a chuckle. “Don’t worry about it, Dana.”

She shook her head. “It’s just that I didn’t hear anything and I thought you were still asleep.”

Susan nodded. “It’s OK, really.”

Scully shook her head again.

Susan put up a hand. “Don’t worry,” she said. “Consider it payback for the kitchen incident.”

Scully stilled at the memory of Susan walking in on her and Mulder making out in Susan’s kitchen. Then she smiled and looked down, nodding. “All right,” she said, the smile reflected in her voice. “We’re even.”

Susan nodded curtly. “Good,” she said, picking up her fork. “Now, is this payback,” she pointed to her plate, “for the stuff I’ve been making you eat?”

Scully grinned. “Damn straight.”

***

 

8:46 PM

June 20

Headquarters for ‘The Magic Bullet’

Residence of The Lone Gunmen

Frohike pointed to a blob on a radar print out. “See, it’s here, too,” he said.

Susan looked over his shoulder, practically pressed up against his back, wedged between him and Michael. “Mmmm,” was her only comment.

Apparently, the phone call she and Michael chose to ignore while they were otherwise occupied, was from the Gunmen. They had been tracking an ‘object’ that appeared the night Mulder was ‘kidnapped’. It was slowly moving eastward from Oregon to the salt flats in Nevada, to the plains in Oklahoma and then disappeared.

Scully, who was sitting next to Frohike, sighed, rubbing the back of her neck. “Where did it go?”

Byers appeared on her left. “That’s what we’re trying to determine, Agent Scully.”

“We’re trying to get ahold of one of our contacts in MUFON, but we’re not having much luck,” Langly said from across them.

Susan gave him a long, hard look. “Something tells me your luck isn’t going to change,” she said seriously.

No one responded.

Michael grumbled something under his breath and backed away from Susan to sit on the ratty sofa against the wall behind them.

“See if any of your other contacts can come up with anything,” Scully said, standing up. As she did, her jacket ringed.

Scully picked up after the third ring. “Scully.”

“Please hold for Deputy Director Kersh,” a woman said on the other side.

Scully put her hand over the mouth piece. “It’s Kersh,” she whispered to Susan.

Susan groaned.

“Agent Scully,” Kersh said.

“Yes, Sir.”

“I trust you are feeling well?”

Scully frowned. “Ah, fine, thank you, sir.”

She could almost hear him nod. “Good, then it won’t be too much trouble for you to come down tomorrow to answer a few questions,” he said.

Scully’s frown deepened. “Sir?”

“About your missing partner. I assembled a task force whose main goal is to find the men responsible for kidnapping Agent Mulder.”

Scully licked her lips. “Have you spoken to Assistant Director Skinner, sir?”

He sighed. “Yes, Agent I have.” He paused. “And I hate for this to ruin his career; his ramblings about aliens and such.”

Scully didn’t respond.

“Do I make myself clear Agent Scully?”

Scully clenched her jaw. “Yes, Sir.”

“Good. Then I’ll let Agent Doggett know you’ll be meeting with him tomorrow morning at nine.”

“Ahh, Agent Doggett, sir?”

“Yes, he’s my Agent in Charge of the investigation.”

“Of course, sir,” she said.

“Oh, Agent,” he added.

“Yes?”

“I understand Agents O’Sullivan and Halloway are staying with you.”

Scully’s eyes met Susan’s “Yes, sir. They’re friends of mine and Agent Mulder.”

Susan frowned.

“Please inform them that they are to accompany you tomorrow. The team has a few questions for them as well.”

“Yes, sir,” she responded, but he had already disconnected.

Scully put her phone away and sat down heavily next to Michael on the couch. All eyes were on her, waiting for her to let them know what Kersh wanted.

Susan sat down next to her. “Well?”

Scully sighed and ran a hand over her eyes. “That was Kersh.”

Susan nodded. “I got that, but what did he want?”

Scully looked up from her hands. “He wants to us to meet with his Agent in Charge of Mulder’s kidnapping.”

“Kidnapping?” Michael asked.

“Mmm,” Scully nodded. “He hinted that anyone calling it an abduction would jeopardized their careers.”

“Jesus, he is such a prick,” Susan said to no one in particular.

Everyone turned to look at her.

“What?”

Frohike snorted and Byers elbowed him.

“Ow! What the hell was that for?”

Byers ignored him.

“So, who is this Agent Doggett?” Michael asked.

“Kersh’s SAC.”

“Anyone know him?” Byers asked.

The agents shook their heads.

“I can hack into the FBI mainframe,” Frohike suggested. “Get some privy info on ‘im.”

Susan shook her head. “No, I have a better idea. I should check in anyway,” she said as she pulled her phone from her back pocket, noticing for the first time that it was off. “Damn.”

“What?” Michael asked coming up beside her.

“I just forgot to turn it on, I probably have a million voice mail messages.”

Michael smirked.

“Who are you calling?” Scully asked.

“My ASAC,” she said dialing.

“Jim,” Susan said into the phone, walking away from the rest of them. “No, we wound up not going.” Pause. She looked back over her shoulder at Michael. “DC. Yeah, helping out some friends. Any news? Great, have you gotten a confession? Good, keep me updated.” She turned to Michael and put her hand over the phone. “Jim thinks they got the guy who’s been killing those postal workers.”

Michael smiled and nodded. “Good job,” he said approvingly.

“Look, I need you to get me some information,” she said into the phone.

Frohike nudged Byers. “Someone went postal on some postal workers.”

Byers frowned at him and Langly threw a balled up piece of paper at him.

“Hey, watch it punk ass!”

“Thanks,” Susan said into the phone. “Could you fax it to.” she looked at Byers.

He really didn’t want the FBI to get their fax number, but gave it to her anyway. They’ll just change it tomorrow.

Susan shoved her phone back into her jeans and sat down next to Mike, leaning back, her arm behind him on the couch. “He’s going to send the info over to us right away.”

About ten minutes later, the fax came through.

“Agent Doggett has a Masters and Ph.D. in Public Administration from Syracuse University, was a Sergeant in the Marines, was an NYPD Dick in the Fugitive Divisions’ Warrant Section, then joined the bureau five years ago.” Susan looked up. “And he has commendations up the ying-yang.”

Scully sighed.

“Sounds like tomorrow’s going to be a lot of fun,” Susan said sarcastically.

“Look,” Scully said, rising from the sofa. “There are some things I want to get from my apartment, may I borrow your car for a little while?”

Susan stood, looking anxious.

Michael glanced at her, then back to Scully, then stood as well. “Sure,” he said. “But why don’t I drive?”

Scully’s shoulder’s sagged, she didn’t need a baby-sitter and she wanted some time alone.

Michael glanced again at Susan who nodded. “I ahh, I’m very good at not being in the way. And it might be a good idea to pick up your car.” He licked his lips nervously. “Besides, under the circumstances.”

Scully closed her eyes and ran a hand over her brow. “Fine,” she said, looking up at him. “But I’m driving.”

***

 

Enroute

10:13 PM

“So,” Michael said, trying to alleviate some of the silence in the car.

Scully looked at him out of the corner of her eye.

“Have you considered any names yet?”

Her tongue darted out to touch her top lip. “Not, not really,” she said. “I haven’t really had time to think about it. Besides.” She stopped talking.

“You want to wait until Mulder’s back,” he finished for her.

She gave him a shy smile. “Yeah, something like that.”

He nodded. “I can understand that.” He looked out at the darkness speeding past them. “Do you know if you want a boy or a girl?”

She put on her signal and merged off the highway. “I don’t really care as long as it’s healthy.”

Michael didn’t respond.

“So,” Scully said. “Are you and Susan thinking about trying again?”

He shrugged, but she didn’t see it. “We’ve been talking about it, but haven’t come to any decisions, she’s still on the pill.”

“Wasn’t she on it last time?” Scully asked as she turned down her street.

He nodded. “Yeah, but her doctor put her on something stronger this time.”

Scully parallel parked about half a block from her building and they both stepped out into the Washington heat.

“Christ it’s hot out here,” Michael said.

Scully agreed and took off her jacket, flinging it over her shoulder.

As they walked towards her apartment, Scully looked through her mail. Just as they reached her door, a postcard slipped out from in between two bills and fluttered to the ground, landing face up. She frowned at the picture of the Washington Monument. ‘Hello from our Nation’s Capital’ was printed in yellow script across it. She leaned down to pick it up and flipped it over to see who it was from.

She gasped when she recognized Mulder’s handwriting.

“Hey Scully, I thought it would be romantic of me to send you a quick note before I left, even though I’ll probably be back before you get this. But I saw this postcard and thought of you. Every time I pass the monument I remember you saying it was one of the world’s largest phallic symbols. So, you see, I just had to send it to you. Oops, I’ve got to go, the Skinman’s giving me the eye. Don’t worry about anything. I’ll be home soon and I’m sure everything will turn out all right, it’s probably all that bee pollen you’ve been eating lately. Love you, M.”

Scully looked bleary eyed at Michael.

He gave her a sad smile. “Come on, let’s go inside.”

She sniffed and nodded. It wouldn’t do either of them any good if she broke down in the middle of the hallway. She pulled herself together and unlocked her door. When she pushed it open, this time they both gasped. Her apartment had been thoroughly ransacked.

Michael pulled out his phone and dialed without even looking it. “Susan, I think you’d better get over here,” he said.

“I’m on my way.”

 Part 10

Susan stuffed her cell phone into her back pocket and pulled out her keys. She started towards the door then stopped. “Shit!” she cursed, realizing she was stranded there. She was going to pull out her cell phone again when Byers picked up his key ring from across his desk and tossed them to her.

“Here,” he said. “Take my car. It’s the black Escort parked out front.”

Susan grabbed the keys out of the air and gave him a curious look. “I thought you guys had a VW Bus.”

“That’s mine,” Frohike said. “Byers had to have his own car,” he said sarcastically.

“I hope you can drive stick,” Byers said.

Susan gave him a slow smile. “Yeah, I can drive stick.”

“Be careful,” Frohike said to her back.

Susan turned as she opened the door. “I will. Thanks guys,” she said and closed the door behind her.

***

 

Georgetown, Washington, DC

Residence of Dana Scully

10:43 PM

Michael and Scully carefully righted her desk, causing the remaining items that weren’t strewn about on the floor to tumble out of the drawers.

Scully took a step forward, then stopped when there was a crunch under her foot. She slowly lifted her boot revealing a broken framed picture of her sister Melissa. Sighing, she crouched down to pick it up. Suddenly it was too much. She stood quickly and chucked it across the room, hitting a potted plant that was teetering on the edge of her dining room table causing it to go crashing down to the floor.

“Dana,” Michael started, reaching for her.

“Oh, my goodness,” a voice said from the front door.

In their haste to figure out what was taken, they had forgotten to close the door. They turned in unison to see an elderly woman standing just outside Scully’s apartment.

“Mrs. Silberstein,” Scully said, making her way over to her, stepping over and dodging her tossed furniture and knickknacks. Mrs. Silberstein was the nosy woman who lived across the hall from Scully.

“Oh, deary, are you all right?” Mrs. Silberstein asked.

Scully nodded. “I wasn’t home at the time,” she said, glancing at Michael. “You didn’t happen to see anyone around here did you?”

Mrs. Silberstein looked around Scully’s destroyed apartment. “No, I don’t think so.”

Scully’s shoulders slumped.

“Wait,” she said. “Now that I think about it, I saw a man.”

Scully perked up.

“What did the man look like, Ma’am?” Michael asked.

Mrs. Silberstein eyed him suspiciously. “I’ve seen him around her before. Dark hair, very handsome,” she said.

Scully sucked in a breath. “You’ve seen him here before? With me?” she asked hopefully.

Mrs. Silberstein shook her head. “No, I don’t think I’ve ever seen you two together, but he’s come here a lot.”

Scully frowned. “Can you tell us anything else about him?”

Mrs. Silberstein looked as if she was trying to visualize the man in her mind. “Yes, he held one of his arms kind of stiff.”

“Krycek,” Scully snarled, turning her back, running a hand through her hair.

Michael stepped toward the old woman. “Thank you very much, Mrs. Silberstein, you’ve been very helpful,” he said, leading her out and closing the door behind her, not giving her a chance to respond.

“Dana,” Michael said.

Scully whirled around. “THAT SON OF BITCH!” she shouted. “HE’S THE REASON MULDER’S GONE IN THE FIRST PLACE!”

“OK,” Michael said calmly. “But what was he looking for? Why was he here?”

Scully stared at him, her chest raising and falling rapidly. Her eyes widened and she darted across the room back to her desk. She knelt down, rapidly sorting through the papers on the floor.

“Dana, what are you looking for?” Michael asked, kneeling down next to her.

She didn’t answer him. Her panic was rising and she was starting to toss papers frantically about.

“Dana!” Michael shouted, grabbing her shoulders. “Tell me what you’re looking for. Let me help you!”

Scully looked at him, tears in her eyes. “He took the rubbings,” she said, her voice quivering.

“Rubbings. What rubbings?” he asked.

Scully shook her head. “He knows where Mulder is, they’re going to use them on him,” she said pleadingly.

Michael didn’t understand. “Rubbings of what?”

“The ship,” she said. “The ship I found in Africa.”

“Oh, God,” Michael said, understanding the implications now. If they’re going to use the rubbings on Mulder, it could mean that they’re trying to recreate the brain activity that could potentially kill him.

“We have to.,” Scully said stopping in mid sentence. Her eyes had fallen upon an object next to her upended coffee table.

Michael followed her eyes to see a brass tube like object.

“Oh, no,” Scully cried, crawling over to it, ignoring the broken items that were biting into her hands and knees. She picked it up, cradling it in her hands.

Michael came up next to her, realizing that the item Scully so reverently held was a antique spy glass, like the ancient sailors would use.

Still holding the glass carefully, she showed it to Michael. He could hear the broken glass moving around inside.

“Mulder gave this to me for Christmas a few years ago,” she said in a husky voice. A sad smile crossed her face. “We promised we weren’t going to give each other presents that year.”

“It’s beautiful,” Michael said.

Scully nodded. “I loved it. Now it’s ruined.”

Michael took the glass from her. “No, I’m sure we can get it repaired.”

Scully looked up at him. “You think so?”

Michael smiled at her. “Yeah, sure.”

Scully nodded, but didn’t answer.

Michael carefully placed the spy glass down on the ground so he could reach for her.

Scully didn’t respond at first, but eventually let him to envelop her in his arms. She clutched the back of his shirt as she buried her face in his neck, allowing herself the relief of crying.

Michael held her tightly. His own fatigue and frustration finally hit the limit and he cried along with her.

***

 

Taking the stairs two at a time, Susan made her way to Scully’s apartment. She stopped just outside, picking up on the strong feelings coming from the other side of the door. She placed her hand on the wood and closed her eyes.

After a few seconds, she opened her eyes and pulled her hand away from the door. She didn’t think it would be right to interrupt them right now. Scully needed the time, and maybe Michael did, too. She licked her lips and glanced down the hallway. She decided to wait over by the elevator. Before she left, though, she placed her hand back on the door to send Michael a mental note, letting him know she was there.

***

 

Michael drew back, a hand cradling her face. “Dana,” Michael said softly, wiping away a tear with his thumb. “Why don’t you go get the things you wanted to get so we can get out of here. There’s nothing we can do now.”

She nodded, pulling away from him. “I’m sorry,” she said, standing.

Michael stood, too. “For what?” he asked. “For getting upset?”

“I don’t usually do this,” she said.

Michael waved his hand in the air. “Me neither,” he said, scrubbing his face. “But I think we both needed it.”

Scully’s mouth twitched. “It’s been a rough couple of days, hasn’t it,” she said.

Michael nodded. “And I have an idea that tomorrow’s not going to be much better,” he said sarcastically.

“Mmm,” she said, turning toward the back of her apartment. “I’ll just be a few minutes.”

Michael wiped his hands on his pants. “I’m just going to see if Susie’s here yet,” he said walking to the door. “I’ll be right back.”

He opened the door to find Susan standing by the elevator, looking out a small window down at the street below. He came up behind her and wrapped his arms around her, settling his chin on her shoulder.

“You got here kinda fast,” Michael commented.

Susan smiled ruefully. “You wouldn’t believe how well an Escort handles.”

Michael kissed the side of her neck. “Sure.”

“She OK?” Susan asked.

“Yeah.”

“You OK?”

“Yeah.”

Susan turned in his arms. She brought her hand up to touch his face. “Really?”

He held her hand against his lips. “Really.”

She gave him a small smile. “OK,” she said before she reached up to give him a sweet kiss on the lips.

They joined Scully in her apartment to see if Susan could sense anything, but seeing that she never met Krycek or touched anything he touched, she couldn’t tell definitely that it was he who was in the apartment. She did note however, that she didn’t sense anyone who hadn’t been there before.

Scully wasn’t sure if that made her feel better.

On their way out, Scully made sure to grab the postcard Mulder sent. As she closed the door, Susan heard her mumble to herself.

“I don’t even know why I lock this anymore.”

***

 

June 21

The J. Edgar Hoover Building, Washington, DC

9:06 AM

“Please state your name for the record.”

Susan eyed the green agent in front of her in his crisp white shirt, his red tie, black suit and perfectly combed hair. He had to have been just out of the academy. She desperately tried not to roll her eyes.

“Susan Elizabeth Halloway.”

“And what is your current position?”

“Special Agent in Charge of the Melville Field Office in New York,” she said without emotion.

“That’s on Long Island, correct?”

She nodded.

“Please answer verbally for the recording.”

She sighed. “Yes.”

“Thank you,” he said. “Now why don’t we go over your record.”

“Why not,” she said, leaning back in her chair, legs crossed, hands neatly folded in her lap. She was wearing a black pants suit; the one Michael called her ‘Fuck Me’ suit because every time he looked at her when she was wearing it, he swore she was just begging to be bent over a desk and as he put it, fucked within an inch of her life.

Special Agent Fred Garwin opened a file folder and began to read. “You entered the FBI in 1988 with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a JD/PsyD from Widener University.” He looked up at her.

She nodded. “That is correct. I am currently licensed to practice Psychology in New York State and am a member of the New York State Bar Association.

“Do you?”

Susan raised an eyebrow.

“Practice Law or Psychology?” he asked.

“No.”

He nodded. “When I was reading your file this morning I saw that you graduated first in your class at Quantico.”

“Yes,” she answered simply.

“But ranked second in all graduating classes.”

“Yes,” she answered again.

“To, uh.” He flipped some pages.

Susan knew he already knew the answer but was trying to play the part of the Interrogating Agent.

He found the page he wanted. “To one Fox Mulder,” he looked up at her again.

“Yes.”

“By one tenth of a point,” he pointed out.

“Yes.”

He closed the file. “Does that bother you?”

Susan almost laughed. “No.”

Agent Garwin looked a little defeated. What did he want her to say? Yes, she was pissed off that she missed being number one of all graduating agents to Mulder and decided to wait 12 years before bumping him off?

“I understand you and Agent Mulder were once involved in a romantic relationship,” he said.

“Yes.”

“Are you and Agent Mulder currently involved?”

“No.” She knew she was annoying him by giving one word answers, but refused to be helpful.

“Are you currently involved in a romantic relationship with another agent?”

“Yes.”

“And who is this agent?”

Susan leaned forward, placing her clasped hands on the table. The move caused her white blouse to gap slightly, revealing a cream colored, lacy bra.

Agent Garwin unconsciously licked his lips.

Susan inwardly smiled. “Now, why is this relevant to your investigation into Agent Mulder’s abduction?” she asked smoothly.

At her last word, Garwin’s eyes darted from her cleavage to her eyes. “You mean kidnapping.”

Susan let herself smile. “Yes, of course. That’s what I meant,” she said, leaning back again.

“I’m just trying to explore all avenues of investigation,” he said defensively.

She nodded. “Well, I suggest you explore other avenues. My personal life is none of your business nor is it the business of the Bureau.”

Garwin studied her for a few moments before he nodded and opened another file folder. “Fine then,” he said. “I have a few other questions for you.”

***

 

Susan walked into the room just in time to see Scully toss a cup of water into another agent’s face.

“Nice to meet you Agent Doggett,” she said and stormed out of the room, slamming the door behind her.

“Here,” Susan said handing him a handkerchief. “You look like you need it.”

John Doggett took the proffered handkerchief and stood. “Thank you,” he said, patting his face dry. “And you are?” he asked.

Susan extended her hand. “SAC Susan Halloway,” she said.

Doggett took her hand, forgetting momentarily what he was going to say. “Uh, John Doggett, nice to meet you Agent Halloway. I’ve heard a lot about you.”

Susan released his hand. “And I you,” she said sweetly.

He nodded. “I read the paper you wrote on Jacob Matthews, the guy who killed all those women in Canarsie. Very well done,” he complimented.

She smiled. “Thank you.”

“I still can’t figure out how you linked the murder weapon to the suspect. It was a work of genius.”

“Just a lucky guess,” she said, still smiling.

“Some lucky guess.”

“Thanks. I’m sorry I can’t stay and chat, Agent Doggett, but I really must be going.”

He nodded. “A pleasure to meet you, Agent.”

She gave him a tight-lipped smiled. “You, too.”

***

 

Susan found Scully down in Mulder’s office, staring at his ‘I want to believe’ poster.

“Hey,” she said softly.

Scully didn’t turn around. “Hey.”

Susan moved to stand next to Scully, pointing her chin towards the poster. “I was with ‘im when he bought the first one.”

Scully looked at her, her face void of expression. “Really?”

Susan nodded. “Yeah, we found it at some head shop. There was some really funky stuff in there. They had this HUGE selection of sex toys. Mulder bought me this,” she turned to Scully smiling, but sobered quickly at the look on her face. “Uh, forget it.”

Scully continued to look at her.

“Look, Dana, I’m sorry,” Susan said. “I shouldn’t have.”

Scully shook her head then turned back to the poster. “Don’t worry about it.”

They stood there quietly for a few moments before Scully spoke again. “Mulder confided in you,” Scully said.

Susan nodded.

“Often?”

“Um,” Susan said hesitantly. “Not as much as he used to. Before you and I met back in April, we hadn’t spoken in over a year. We were just too busy.”

“But you two talked a lot before then?”

Susan wasn’t sure where this conversation was going but she refused to lie to her. “About once a week.”

“Once a week?” Scully asked incredulously.

“Well maybe not that often, but it was a few times a month,” she clarified.

Scully shook her head. “Why didn’t he ever tell me about you?”

Susan shrugged. “I’m not the right person to be answering these questions.”

“Well, the person I want to ask isn’t here right now,” she said sounding a little annoyed.

“OK,” Susan said holding her hand out in front of her. She didn’t want to upset her further. “I think it was because he was afraid you would get the wrong idea about our relationship.”

Scully frowned. “What do you mean?”

“Dana,” Susan said. “Mulder has loved you for a very long time.”

Scully’s eyebrows shot up.

“And how would it sound if he had a female friend he spoke to on a regular basis? How would you have reacted?” Susan pressed on.

Scully shrugged. “It wouldn’t have bothered me.”

Susan snorted. “Sure it wouldn’t. The same way it didn’t bother you when you found out he was talking to that woman on-line about that dog thing.”

Scully couldn’t respond to that. “Were there others?” she asked.

“Others what?” Susan asked confused.

“Other women.”

“Other women what?”

Scully gave her an exasperated look. “Did he confide in other women?”

“Other than me?”

Scully looked like she wanted to smack her.

“Dana, what is this about?”

“Please just answer the question.”

Susan shook her head. “No,” she answered. “You know that Mulder doesn’t give his trust to just anyone. Jesus! Before you, the last time he had sex was over six years ago.”

“With you?”

Susan shook her head again. “No and it was pretty stupid. I almost killed him when he told me about it, the schmuck,” she said under her breath, but Scully caught it.

“When was this?” Scully asked.

Susan swallowed audibly. “I think that’s something you should ask Mulder.”

Scully nodded.

“Look, Dana. What brought this on?”

Scully sighed. “It was just something Agent Doggett said.”

“What?” Susan asked concerned.

Scully closed her eyes. “Nothing, it was nothing. He was just trying to gauge my reaction.”

“Is that when you threw the water in his face?” Susan asked with a smile.

Scully grinned and looked down at the floor. “Yeah.” She looked up at her. “Did you see the look on his face?”

Susan chuckled. “Yeah, I think you shocked the hell out of ‘im.”

“I don’t know what possessed me to do that.”

“Ah, the ass deserved it. I probably would have done the same thing.”

Scully smiled.

Susan reached out to touch her arm. “You OK?”

Scully nodded. “Yeah, I think so.”

“You know I’m here, right?”

She nodded again. “I know. Thanks.”

Susan returned the nod. “Any time.”

They both turned when there was a knock at the door. It was Michael. “Am I interrupting?” he asked.

Susan smiled, remembering the last time he asked that, but this time instead of being a smart ass, he was being sweet. “No.”

Michael returned the smile. He knew what she was thinking. He cocked his head toward the elevator. “Come on,” he said. “Let me buy you beautiful ladies some breakfast.”

Scully and Susan glanced at each other. Scully raised an eyebrow, Susan rolled her eyes.

“Let’s go, stud,” Susan said linking her arm around his.

Scully laughed and linked her arm with his other, letting him lead them out.

 Part 11

Office of the Lone Gunmen

June 22

2:56 AM

With the air conditioning running at full blast, Michael stared mindlessly at the muted television set. They had been at it all day and all night with only a short break for dinner, and his body was slowly falling asleep. He laid sprawled out on the Gunmen’s leather sofa, remote control in his left hand. He was still dressed in the suit he had worn to the office, but his tie had been removed some time after six.

Susan was sitting across the room surrounded by the guys. He lost the ability to keep up with them around midnight. They were talking in some unknown computer language that he didn’t understand. He had no idea where Susan learned half the things she was talking about. She probably read it from them and then assimilated it into her own knowledge base. It came in handy when forensic agents were trying to explain something to them. All she had to do was touch the tech. then give herself a moment to run through the new information. It usually only took a few minutes and lasted for a good number of hours. Michael assumed that if she kept processing the information she would come to remember it indefinitely.

Michael’s bleary eyes scanned the room, settling on Scully. He smiled to himself. She kept up with Susan for a while but dropped out of the race some where around nine claiming that she thought it would be a good idea to go over some of the reports they got from the Gunmen’s MUFON contact. Currently, she was sitting at a desk in the corner with her head resting on her right fist, asleep. The whole right side of her face was scrunched up and he swore that if he squinted, he could see some drool running down her arm. Of course, he would never mention it to her. If Susan taught him anything it was when to keep his mouth shut.

“I think I’m going blind,” Langly said as he pushed his chair back and stood to stretch.

“Your mother warned you someday that might happen,” Frohike said, smiling at Susan.

She chuckled.

“You’re one to talk, you’ve got the hairiest palms I’ve ever seen,” Langly shot back.

Frohike started to stand, but Byers put his hand on his shoulder. “I think we all need to call it a night,” he said logically. “We’re all starting to fall asleep.”

“Mmmm, sounds like a good idea. But I don’t think any of us are up to driving,” Susan said, standing, stretching her arms over her head, revealing a small patch of her bare belly.

Frohike looked away, his eyes falling on Michael who was watching him. He had seen Frohike’s eyes wander and made sure the small man knew he caught him. He knew he was being ridiculous, but he was tired and his feelings for Susan were always stronger when he was at his weakest. Jesus, you should see him when he’s had a little too much to drink.

Susan glanced at Michael out of the corner of her eye, but didn’t say anything.

“Well,” Frohike said. “You two can take my room and I’ll sack out on the couch; just put on clean sheets this morning.”

Susan shook her head. “I don’t think Michael’s going to be able to get up. We’ll take the couch.”

Frohike opened his mouth to protest, but Susan held up her hand.

“Don’t worry about it. Besides, I think it’s Dana who needs the bed.” She turned to Scully who hadn’t moved in over an hour. “If we don’t get her out of that position, her neck it going to be killing her tomorrow.”

“Good, since it’s all settled, Frohike can take the top bunk in Langly’s room and Agent Scully can take his room.”

Langly and Frohike looked like they would rather eat fire ants before they would bunk together, but didn’t say anything.

Susan smiled and patted the two men on their shoulders. “Thanks guys,” she said sweetly. “That’s really nice of you to make the offer.”

Langly grumbled under his breath and left the room.

“Come on Byers let’s go wake Agent Scully,” Frohike said as he made his way over to her.

Susan watched the man fondly as he crouched down in front of Scully. “Scully,” he said softly.

She barely stirred.

Frohike gently touched her shoulder. “Scully,” he said a little stronger, giving her a slight shake. “Come on, it’s time to go to bed.”

Scully opened her eyes slowly. “Huh?” she mumbled.

Frohike spoke soothingly to her and helped her up. She didn’t put up much of a fight, but made sure he knew that she didn’t want to put him out.

When they left the room, Susan turned to Michael who was looking at her, barely able to keep his eyes open. Susan felt as tired as he did, if not more. Studying the data the guys hacked into was mind numbing. Not to mention the fact that she had to constantly read one of them to understand what it said. It was a wonder that she didn’t fall asleep where she stood.

Michael clicked off the television and dropped the remote on the back of the couch. It wasn’t a large couch, but the two of them fell asleep on their own couch all the time and it was a lot smaller than this one. At least he could stretch is whole body out.

Susan steeped out of her pumps and kicked them aside. She slowly walked over to him in a way that always did a number on his hormones. If he wasn’t so tired he would have instantly jumped to attention. In the state he was in, be was barely capable of a twitch.

Susan gave him a feral smile, she knew what she was doing.

She stopped at the end of the couch by his feet and moved to kneel on the leather. His eyes widened as he watched her crawl over his body on her hands and knees.

She continued to smile at him.

Michael swallowed audibly when she reached out to unbutton his shirt.

“Susan,” he said weakly.

She put her finger on his lips to silence him then finished opening his shirt. She spread her fingers out on his bare chest, pushing his shirt out towards his sides. She was unbelievably happy that he decided to forgo a T-shirt that morning.

Michael was flabbergasted. He knew she wouldn’t try anything considering they were basically out in the open and that anyone could walk in on them. Not to mention the fact that he just wasn’t up to anything that night; literally and figuratively. But, he couldn’t tell what she was thinking, she was blocking him.

Susan gripped his shoulders to move him so that his back rested completely on the couch. She looked down at him, still smiling. She loved to make him off balance. She leaned down to kiss him briefly, pulling away after a few moments with a nip on his bottom lip. She trailed her lips across his jaw to his ear where she whispered softly. “I love you.”

Michael hands had settled on her hips and he squeezed them slightly. “I love you, too,” he murmured.

She smiled down at him, not a full smile, just a slight upturn of the corners of her mouth. “I know.”

Susan slid her body down so that the top of her head fit perfectly under his chin and pulled the blanket that was on the back of the couch over them. She didn’t really care when she heard the remote slide down behind the couch and fall to the floor. She’d get it tomorrow.

She drew her legs together and snuggled into him. Michael suddenly realized what she was doing. She made it so that her entire body was draped over him and wasn’t touching any part of the couch. Her hands gripped his sides then moved back and under his bunched shirt, down to his waist to slide under the elastic of his trousers and boxers coming to a rest just above the swell of his behind.

He felt her dig her nails into his skin then relax.

Susan nuzzled his shoulder before she placed a soft kiss on his clavicle. She took a deep breath and contentedly let it out. She loved doing this; being completely surrounded by him. His whole body was like a drug to her and she was hopelessly addicted.

Michael wrapped his arms around her back and squeezed her tightly.

Susan let out a soft sigh and let go of her block on him.

Michael’s heart swelled at the feelings she was emitting. She was totally and unequivocally in love with him. It was almost too much for him to bare. He breathed out a shaky sigh.

Susan slowly drifted off to sleep.

Michael closed his eyes when he felt her drift off. He could feel her external radar diminish and gradually weaken to almost nothing. She had completely fallen into unconsciousness and her sense of her surroundings diminished like a candle burning down. It wasn’t often that she allowed that to happen. It was usually due to exhaustion and she only let it happen when she was in Michael’s arms. She told him once that when she slept like this, surrounded by him, she felt safe and protected, and felt that she could allow herself to completely relax and let down her defenses. Michael couldn’t explain how that made him feel.

Frohike had watched the two of them from the darkness of the hallway. “Lucky bastard,” he mumbled before he flipped the light switch plunging them into darkness.

***

 

Oh, God, no. Not again. They were coming for him. He skidded across the cold concrete floor. The roughness of the ground ripped open his knees and palms again. He had already lost a fingernail on his right hand trying desperately to fight the ones that dragged him out of his cell.

Cell. That’s what he called it. It wasn’t a room. It did have a toilet and bed, but the toilet was black and foul smelling and the bed was nothing more than a metal bench against the wall with a pad on it. He usually hid under it. As for the toilet, they weren’t feeding him and he had lost the need for it a few days after he woke. At least he thought it was days. He had no sense of time there.

He could hear their footsteps coming for him. He couldn’t tell if they were men or something else. His cell was in constant darkness and when they came for him, they shined bright lights into his eyes, blinding him.

Suddenly the door was wrenched open and he was bathed in light. He scrambled towards the far side of the room, his back slamming into the wall.

“NO!” he screamed.

They ignored him, grabbing his arms and legs. He kicked one of them, he was sure of it, but the grip on is legs didn’t loosen.

His body flailed about trying to escape their hold but it was too no avail. He was extremely weak and they were so strong.

He saw a flash of metal in the light then a painful burning in his right shoulder.

He screamed as he lost consciousness.

***

 

He woke some time later laying naked on a metal table, his arms and legs spread out and tied down. He pulled at his restraints and groaned when he felt them rip into his skin. He could feel the blood running down his wrists.

Suddenly the light turned on above him and he closed his eyes but he could still see it through his eyelids.

He heard a mechanical sound somewhere behind him, and then saw an instrument coming down from the ceiling. If he could think properly, he would say it looked like a drill.

He pulled at his restraints, ignoring the pain as the drill descended further.

He screamed as it burrowed into his left temple.

Another instrument came to life next to him. His screams came louder and harsher as it worked its way under the skin on is forearm.

Between his spread legs a cylindrical object emerged from the table. It moved slightly to the left revealing a spinning saw.

He lost consciousness, screaming as it cut into his chest, moving down.

“SCULLY!!!”

***

 

June 22

4:46 AM

Michael woke suddenly. He wasn’t sure what woke him when Susan moved in his arms and let out a soft groan.

He could feel her heart pounding against his chest, her breath coming in short pants.

“Susan,” he said softly.

She shifted and he felt her tense up.

He ran his hand down her back and she violently moved away from him.

“Susan,” he said stronger. “Come on, you’re having a nightmare.” He grabbed her wrist, but she fought him. She pulled her arm away and started pushing away from him. He grabbed her again, but she shoved him, then punched him in the jaw.

“GET AWAY FROM ME!” she screamed.

He could feel her terror. She was fighting some invisible enemy in her sleep and it scared the shit out of her.

Michael pushed her up so he could get a good look at her face. Her eyes were open, but vacant. Tears were streaming down her cheeks.

Suddenly she doubled over in pain and let out a terrifying wail, clutching her chest.

Scully ran into the room, her hair disheveled and her clothes rumpled, she held her gun in her hand. “What!” she shouted. “What’s going on?”

Langly, Byers and Frohike appeared behind her, looking pretty much the same as Scully.

Michael was still struggling with Susan trying to hold her so that she wouldn’t fall off the couch. “I don’t know, I think she’s having some kind of nightmare.”

Again she tried to punch him, but he grabbed her wrist. That was when he noticed her arm was covered in blood.

“What the hell?!” he breathed.

Scully came up next to him to grab her other arm which was also covered in blood.

“Watch out,” Michael shouted.

Scully dodged just in time to miss an elbow to the chest.

“SUSAN!” Scully shouted. “SUSAN WAKE UP!!”

Susan continued to fight them. “NO! PLEASE NO MORE!! PLEASE MAKE IT STOP!” she begged.

Then, her whole body went rigid and she let out a heart wrenching sob. “SCULLY!”

Michael and Scully looked at each other then down to Susan. Scully slowly backed away.

Susan was calming down, but she still held her body stiffly, her chest heaving, trying to gulp in air.

“Susie,” Michael murmured. “It’s OK.”

Susan’s eyes blinked and he saw them clear. “Michael?”

He smiled. “Yeah, love, it’s me.”

She stared at him, then screwed her eyes shut. “Oh, God,” she groaned and pushed away from him. She just made it to the bathroom when she lost the contents of her stomach.

Susan felt Michael come up behind her, then felt her hair being pulled away from her face. She would have thanked him, but another bout of heaving started.

After what felt like eternity, she reached out a trembling hand to flush the toilet. Michael helped her stand.

“Are you all right?” he asked.

She nodded. “Yeah, just give me a minute.”

He looked at her pleadingly, he didn’t want to leave her alone. “You sure?”

She nodded again. “Yeah, I just need a minute alone.”

He nodded hesitantly. “OK, but I’ll be right outside.”

She tried to smile at him, but just didn’t have the strength. “Thank you,” she said, closing the door.

Once she was alone, her hands went immediately for the buttons on her shirt. With some effort, she was able to open it.

She gasped when she caught sight of herself in the mirror. There was an angry red mark on her chest that ran from the hollow of her throat, behind her bra and down into her pants. Her eyes widened as she watched it slowly disappear.

She raised her shaking hands to move her hair out of her face and turned her head slightly. She could see a fading red mark on her temple.

That was when she noticed that she was missing the nail on her right forefinger. It throbbed painfully and then right before her eyes, the nail reappeared. There was blood on the cuffs of her shirt, but no signs of cuts anywhere.

“What the hell is going on?” she spoke softly.

Then all of a sudden it came flooding back to her. In her mind’s eye she could see the drill coming out of the ceiling, the tool burrowing under her forearm and the saw cutting into her chest. But it wasn’t her chest, it was Mulder’s.

“Oh, my God,” she whispered before her stomach rolled again. This time she didn’t make it to the toilet and vomited in the sink.

***

 

June 22

The Watergate Hotel

5:34 AM

Michael escorted Susan into the room with a hand on her back between her shoulder blades. They had been touching constantly since they left the Gunmen’s, whether it was his hand clenched in Susan’s or his arm around her waist. She seemed to need the contact.

Scully closed the door behind them and watched as Michael led Susan over to the couch. He knelt down in front of her to remove her shoes. As he stood, he murmured something to her. She desperately searched for his hand, shaking her head. Her face contorted into a grimace of fear, then relaxed. She reluctantly let go of his hand, looking down at the floor.

Michael turned to Scully. “I’m gonna go run a bath for her. I’ll be right back.”

Scully nodded and sat down on the coffee table opposite Susan.

“So, you going to tell me what happened?”

Susan sighed. “I had a nightmare.”

Scully gave her a look of disbelief. “Uh, huh,” she said.

Susan looked up at her. “Dana.”

“No, Susan, you’re going to tell me what happened.”

Susan sighed and closed her eyes.

“Back there, back at the Lone Gunmen’s, you called me Scully. You’ve never done that.”

Michael came back in the room and sat down next to Susan. “The tub will take a few moments to fill up.”

“Susan,” Scully promoted. “What happened?”

Michael reached out to take a hold of Susan’s hand. “Christ, Susie, something scared the shit out of you. You’ve never had a nightmare like that.”

Susan looked at Michael then back to Scully. There was no way that she was going to tell Scully everything she saw; everything she felt. She could never do something like that. She could just imagine how she would react if it was Michael who was being tortured and frightened out of his mind. She’d be a basket case.

“I think,” Susan started. “I think I saw Mulder.”

Scully gasped.

“I didn’t see where he was, but for some reason, I felt what he was feeling.”

“How is that possible?” Scully asked.

Susan shook her head. “I don’t know.”

“What, what was he feeling?” Scully asked hesitantly.

“He was terrified.” Susan wasn’t going to say anymore.

“Was he in pain?”

Susan licked her lips. “Some.”

“What about this?” Scully fingered Susan’s bloody cuff.

“This I can’t explain.”

Scully examined Susan’s wrists but saw no cuts. “Where did this blood come from?”

“I don’t think it’s mine.”

“What do you mean you don’t think it’s yours?” Scully asked harshly.

“In my. my dream, Mulder was being held down and his wrists were bleeding from the restraints. I think it’s his.”

Scully sat down heavily on the coffee table. “He was being restrained?” she asked weakly.

“Four point restraints.”

“Oh, God,” she moaned, putting a hand over her eyes.

“What is it?” Michael asked, sitting next to her. He looked up a Susan.

Susan’s shoulder’s sagged. “Ever since his stay in the hospital last year for his weird brain activity, Mulder has been terrified of being tied down.”

“What were they doing to him?” Scully asked, her hand still over her eyes.

Susan gave a fearful look to Michael. He shook his head.

“I, I couldn’t see that clearly. Mostly I was getting his feelings.” God, she hated lying, especially to Scully.

“Are you sure?” She wasn’t really sure what she was asking. Was Susan sure it was Mulder, was she sure she didn’t see any more?

Susan nodded. “Yeah, I’m sure it was him. It felt like him.”

“You called me Scully.”

“He was calling for you.”

Suddenly, Scully stood and headed towards the door.

“Where are you going?” Susan asked, going after her.

Scully picked up her keys. “Back to the Lone Gunmen’s.” She reached for the doorknob.

“For what? You’re exhausted.”

“I need to look over the rest of the reports.”

“Dana,” Susan said. “The guys are in bed. We told them we’d be back later.”

Scully shook her head, she was starting to panic. “I need to work.”

“Later,” Susan said touching her shoulder. “You won’t be any good in this condition. We all need to get some sleep.”

Scully shook her head again. “No, I need to find him.”

“Dana.”

“NO!” Scully shouted. “I have to find him! He’s calling for me!”

“I know. He knows you’ll find him.”

“We’re wasting time!”

“We’ll waste more time if you collapse from exhaustion.”’

“He’s so afraid,” Scully whispered. “No,” she shook her head. “I have to go.” She turned to open the door.

Susan’s grip on her shoulder tightened. “Dammit Dana, NO!”

Scully’s eyes widened as she turned back to her.

“Mulder would not want you to put your health at risk to save him, least of all his child’s!”

Scully’s body sagged.

“You haven’t eaten anything substantial in the last 24 hours.”

Scully opened her mouth to respond.

“A bagel at breakfast and a slice of pizza at dinner yesterday does not count and you know that,” Susan interjected.

Scully sagged back against the hotel door. “He’s so afraid,” her voice husky with unshed tears.

Susan wrapped her arms around her, trying to give as much comfort as possible. For herself or for Scully she wasn’t sure. “I know,” she breathed, her voice betraying her grief. “We’ll find him. I promise.”

 Part 12

The Watergate Hotel

June 22, 2001

9:45 AM

A needle plunged into the crook of her elbow then slowly withdrew blood.

“Jesus, Dana,” Susan groaned. “How the hell big is that needle? I feel like you’re driving a nail into my arm.” She tried not to pull away and cause more pain.

Scully didn’t respond, just finished taking the blood sample and pulled the syringe out. Placing a piece of cotton on the area, she signaled for Susan to fold her arm. “It wasn’t that bad,” Scully admonished as she walked over to the other side of the breakfast nook where she had laid out her supplies to label the vial and put it into a plastic baggy.

Susan snorted. “Yeah, right,” she grumbled.

Scully shook her head, looking down at the floor as she leaned against the counter. “I can do the typing at gunmen’s, but I’m going to have to send it to the bureau for a DNA analysis. We’ll compare it to a sample of Mulder’s and with the blood on your shirt. It won’t leave any doubt as to whose blood it is on that shirt,” she said looking up at her.

Susan nodded. “OK.”

“I just don’t know how I’m going to do the analysis without anyone questioning why I’m there, it’s not as if I’m on a case.”

Susan hopped down from the stool she was sitting on to pick up the phone on the desk across the room. “I have an idea who we can call.”

“Call for what?” Michael asked as he walked barefoot into the room toweling his hair dry. He was fresh from the shower and was wearing dark slacks with his belt undone and an unbuttoned dress shirt. Susan loved the fact that he wasn’t wearing a T-shirt underneath. In her mind, it was the equivalent of her not wearing a bra under her suit, not that she ever did that, at least at work, but if he stood in a certain light, she could see his nipples under the white cotton.

It made her mouth go dry.

Michael smiled at her reaction and asked his question again.

“To have the blood analyzed,” Susan stated, picking up the phone.

“Oh, no,” Michael groaned.

Susan smiled deviantly and continued to dial.

Scully frowned. “What’s the matter?”

Michael walked into the kitchenette and opened the small refrigerator. Standing next to her, he opened a bottle of iced tea. “She’s going to call him,” he said gruffly.

“Him who?” she asked, watching him chug half the bottle.

“Special Agent Anthony Minelli please,” Susan said into the phone.

“Who’s he?” Scully asked.

Michael gestured towards Susan with the bottle. “You’ll see.”

A large smile spread across Susan’s face. “Yo Tony, it’s Susan,” Susan said sounding very much like the New Yorker she was. She was silent for a moment then let out a full belly laugh. She looked at Michael out of the corner of her eye, a full smile on her face. “Yeah, I’m still with ‘im,” she said. “Nah, he is not.” She chuckled. “Yeah, that’s gotta be it.” She snickered. “Mmm, hmm. Yeah, it’s business, but I don’t mind mixing in a bit a pleasure with it.” She was quiet again, that smile still present on her lips.

Michael tossed the empty bottle into the trash. “I’m gonna go finish getting dressed,” he said as he walked past her. He made a point of talking loud enough so that the man on the other line could hear him. “I should leave before I get sick.”

Scully watched the two of them with amusement. Who was that guy on the phone that was obviously friendly with Susan and rubbed Michael the wrong way?

Susan laughed at something the other man said. “Look, Tony, I need ya to do me a favor. I’m sending over some blood, can ya do a DNA analysis of it? Please?”

Scully walked over to stand in front of Susan.

“Ya get to see me, that’s what ya get out of it,” Susan answered. “Thanks, man. Can ya give me a call on my cell when you’re done? Thanks, yeah, let me give ya the number.”

Scully found that interesting. He knew her well enough to be a little more than friendly with her, but he didn’t know her cell phone number.

Susan gave him the number and ended the call. “He’s such a nice guy,” she said to Scully.

“Who is this man?” she asked.

“Agent Tony Minelli used to work out of Manhattan. I met him when I got transferred. He was just a rookie forensic agent then, but he helped me out a lot on some cases. Especially when I already knew who the bad guy was but couldn’t prove it. He helped on many occasions link my feelings to any forensic evidence they found at the scene.” She smiled at her. “Kinda like what you do for Mulder.”

Scully smiled.

“He was promoted a few years ago and was transferred to Washington. I’m surprised you never met ‘im.”

Scully watched her walk into the kitchenette. “Maybe I have and just don’t know his name.”

Susan turned around from her inspection of the refrigerator. “I don’t think so, you’d know if you’ve met Tony.”

***

 

June 25

3:03 PM

Washington, DC

The Mall

Susan pushed her Ray Bans up the bridge of her nose as she and Michael walked casually hand in hand around The Mall. They were enjoying the sun and reasonably comfortable temperature during their much needed time alone. They had spent the last three days holed up at the gunmen’s lair and were starting to get stir crazy. Everyone agreed that some time apart was a good idea. Scully decided to go back to the hotel for a nice relaxing bath and small lunch, while Michael and Susan agreed upon a leisurely lunch out and a stroll around the monuments.

Scully had performed the blood typing right away, concluding that the blood on Susan’s shirt could not be hers. Susan was O negative and the blood was O positive, which is the same blood type as Mulder’s, but was also the same as Michael’s. They had a courier take the blood to the J. Edgar Hoover Building on the 22nd, leaving them with nothing to do but wait and scan through any new information, which was starting to die down. Frohike was still trying to see if he could track down one of his contacts, but alas, was not receiving an answer.

As Michael and Susan rounded a corner, they passed a couple dressed in military garb. Susan recognized the insignia on the man who was dressed in his summer whites. He was a commander in the US Navy and was in the JAG Corp. The woman was a colonel in the Marine Corp. and also a member of JAG.

Susan allowed a slow appreciative glance at the man who smiled and did the same to her. Even though both were wearing sunglasses, they maintained eye contact as they passed each other, going as far as turning their heads as they walked by.

Susan saw the woman nudge the man. “Be careful, she’s engaged,” she said, not sounding amused.

“So are you, Mack, and that didn’t stop you from checking him out.”

She just smiled enigmatically and turned away.

The man gave Susan a shrug and turned to follow her.

Michael pulled on Susan’s hand and leaned into her. “You can have the sailor if you let me have the Marine.”

Susan smiled at him. “Don’t even tempt me, did you see the ass on that man?”

Michael laughed. “I was too busy looking at her boobs.”

“Ah, nothing like a uniform…”

In the distance, they saw Scully sitting on one of the benches near the reflecting pool. Susan glanced down at her watch. They were about ten minutes late for their three o’clock meeting. They were supposed to meet at the bench, then head on over to the FBI to read over the results Tony promised would be done by then.

Scully smiled as they approached. “Hi,” she said simply.

“Hey,” Susan said.

“Ready to go?” Michael asked.

Scully took a deep breath and stood. “As I’ll ever be.”

Together, they made their way to the labs, and the man Michael despised.

***

 

2:27 PM

June 25

The J. Edgar Hoover Building

Scully watched as the man known as Anthony Minelli aggressively pulled Susan into a tight bear hug.

“Man, Susan, it’s been too long,” he said as he pulled away. “You look more beautiful than I remembah.”

Scully swore she could hear Michael grinding his teeth.

Susan smiled at the dark haired man. “Missed ya too, Tony,” she said.

Michael and Tony shared a gruff hello and handshake. Scully could see each man’s arm straining to outdo the grip of the other. Tony was about an inch or two shorter than Michael, but was built similarly. He had dark hair and dark eyes and was already sprouting a five o’clock shadow. He was extremely good looking with chiseled features and dark skin. He looked completely the opposite of Michael. She was surprised that she had never seen him before. She surely would have remembered him.

“So,” Tony said turning to Scully. “You are the famous Dana Scully I presume,” he said charmingly as he extended his hand to her.

Scully nodded and took his hand. “Yes, and I have to admit that I’m surprised we’ve never met.”

He smiled, showing off his straight white teeth. “Upon meeting you, it is a regret that I feel whole heartedly.”

Scully glanced at Susan out of the corner of her eye. ‘Is he for real?’ the look said.

Susan just grinned. Michael rolled his eyes.

“Agent Scully,” Tony said, his voice soft and filled with emotion. “I would like to give my deepest regrets concernin’ Agent Mulder. If I can offer any thing, please do not hesitate to ask. He is a great man.”

Scully was not lost on the fact that he said ‘is’ and not ‘was’. “Thank you, Agent Minelli.”

“Tony,” he interjected.

Scully nodded.

“Yeah, Tony,” Michael growled. “You can help out by telling us what you found.” One could not be mistaken by the tone of his voice; it was obvious that he didn’t like the man.

Tony grinned at Michael. “Look man, I don’ know what ya problem is, but I’m not afta ya girl, so ya don haf ta worry. No need to be a prick.”

Michael spread his palm out on Susan’s back before he took a step forward, practically nose to nose with him. “Oh, I don’t worry about that,” he said, his voice deep and menacing. “I just don’t like you.”

“Well, the feelin’s mutual,” Tony said, giving Michael a slight bump in the chest with his.

Susan took that as her cue to step in. It wasn’t the first time she had to get in between these two. She knew that if she waited just a few seconds longer, she’s be picking Tony up with a sponge.

“OK, boys,” Susan said squeezing between them. She placed a hand on each man’s chest. “That’s enough of the pissing contest.” She looked Michael in the eye, her blue eyes sparkling. She would never verbally admit it, but she loved it when Michael got all Neanderthal. “We did come here for a reason.”

Michael allowed a small smile and stepped back.

“Fine,” Tony growled, turning to walk to the other side of the room. He mumbled something under his breath before he spoke again. “I finished up about an hour ago, here’s the results.”

“Can I see them?” Scully asked.

Tony handed a plastic sheet to Scully. It had a grid of blue ink blots on it. Scully held it up to the light, her eyes squinting.

“Without somthin’ to compare it to, it’s not very helpful,” Tony said.

Scully nodded before she placed the sheet on one of the counters. “That’s why I brought this,” she said, reaching into the leather satchel she brought with her. She pulled out a folder containing another blue dotted plastic sheet. “This was run a few months ago,” she said. “Mulder and I each had one done.” She glanced at Susan. “Just in case.”

Susan nodded. “Good idea.”

Scully licked her lips nervously and picked up the sheet Tony completed. She put one behind the other and again held them up to the light. The two sheets were exactly the same. The blood from Susan’s shirt contained the same DNA as Mulder. It was undeniable, it was Mulder’s blood.

***

 

11:58 PM

June 25

The Watergate Hotel

Susan slid between the crisp white sheets just as she heard Michael flush the toilet. She smiled remembering the events of this afternoon. She understood why Michael didn’t like Tony, it wasn’t completely due to jealousy, although that was a leading factor. Michael just didn’t like the type of man who used his good looks to get what he wanted. He also didn’t like how charming Tony thought he was. What it really came down to was that Michael didn’t like the fact that Tony reminded him a lot of the way he used to be. His sister Katie told Susan all about Michael’s accurate reputation as a lady’s man. He never stayed in a relationship longer than two months. As soon as it hinted at getting serious, he bolted. It wasn’t something he was proud of. Katie admitted that their family never thought Michael would ever settle down. When she showed up at their parent’s house wearing Grandma’s ring with Michael looking shy and acting like a love struck teenager, their first thought was that it wasn’t him, it was just someone who looked a lot like him. Their second thought was to wonder who the hell this woman was and what did she to their son. It wasn’t a mystery why his parents accepted Susan with open arms.

When they left the Bureau, they had a tense dinner, not really discussing the impact of the DNA results, then rejoined the guys. They quietly read over some new MUFON reports, each lost in their thoughts. Around eleven, they called it a night and headed back to The Watergate.

Michael exited the bathroom looking newly shaven. Susan tried not to smile. The fact that he shaved before he went to bed meant that he was hoping to get lucky that night. And oh boy was he ever lucky.

He lifted up the sheets intending to slide in next to Susan, but she sat up and stopped him with a raised hand.

“Ah, uh,” she said waving a finger at him.

He frowned.

“Lose the boxers.”

He smiled and quickly tugged off the silk garment before tossing it across the room. Susan lifted the sheets revealing her own nakedness, welcoming him into the bed.

Michael practically leaped in beside her, but just as he reached for her, she slid away from and out of the bed, falling on her knees on the floor.

He looked at her quizzically.

She just smiled.

He watched as she opened the drawer of the night stand, removing something hidden in her palm, then moved her hand below the mattress out of his line of sight.

She looked up at him, then over to the clock on top of the night stand. 12:03 Am, it read. “Oh, look,” she said. “It’s tomorrow.” She looked back up at him. “June 26th.”

Michael didn’t respond.

“Gee, isn’t that somebody’s birthday?” she asked, smiling.

Michael returned her smile.

“Oh, that’s right, it’s yours.”

“OK, cut it out, whatcha get me?”

“A little impatient, aren’t’ we?” she said with amusement.

He just grunted at her.

Suddenly Susan’s expression turned serious. She looked down at the object in her hand and took a deep breath. Looking up at him, with their eyes locked, she said, “Michael Seamus Joseph O’Sullivan.” She paused, extending her hand, palm up, revealing a small dark velvet jeweler’s box. “Will you marry me?” she finished in a small whisper.

Michael stared at her for a moment, lost for words before he reached for the small box. Inside, it contained a large silver claddah ring. “I thought I already asked you that question,” he said, still looking at the ring.

Susan tilted his chin up so that he was looking at her. “You did, and I accepted. But I thought you would like your own ring,” she said sounding unsure of herself.

Michael motioned for her to join him in the bed. As soon as she was settled on her side facing him, he spoke. “I do, and I love it.” He voice was husky. “I was just surprised.”

Susan grinned. “Good, because that’s what I wanted.”

Michael removed the ring from the box and slid it on the fourth finger of his left hand with the heart pointing in. It fit perfectly. “You understand the significance of the claddah ring, don’t you?”

Susan smiled. “Of course I do,” she said as she reached for his hand to place a soft kiss on the ring. “And,” she said entwining their fingers together. “I have a proposition for you.”

Michael released her hand so that he could wrap his arms around her waist and pull her securely against his body. “Mmm, a proposition, I like the sound of that,” he said as he started kissing her neck.

Susan pushed him away before he could distract her fully. “How about after all this is over…, you and I…, go to Vegas.”

“Vegas?” he asked incredulously.

Susan sighed. She knew he was going to react like that. “Look, Michael. I know we’ve been through this before. I know how much your family is pressuring you for the traditional wedding, but that’s just not me.”

Michael ran a hand through his hair and laid back staring at the ceiling.

Susan sat up on one elbow and moved so that she was looking down at him. “Besides,” she said cupping his cheek.

His eyes settled on her. “Besides,” she said softly. “I don’t have anyone to invite. I have no family. My father won’t be there to give me away. My mother won’t be there gushing over me, helping me fix my hair and dress. One side of the church will be packed with your family while I have like three people on the other. It won’t be a happy day for me.”

“What about your Aunt Cathy?”

Susan snorted. “You know that she was more than happy that I left her house at sixteen. She always made sure I knew that it wasn’t my home and that she wasn’t going to play the role of my mother. And yes, I speak to my cousin occasionally, but we’re really not that close. So, who will I have there? Mulder, Dana, and Tony,” she finished with a smile.

Michael groaned and slung his arm over his eyes. “Why didn’t you ever tell me this?”

Susan shrugged, looking down at his chest.

Michael held her face in both of his hands. “Yes, Susie, I’ll marry you.”

Susan smiled.

“And if you want to get married by Elvis, just tell me the time and I’ll be there.”

She leaned down to kiss him. “I love you,” she murmured, pulling away.

“I love you, too.” He brought her face down again as they got lost in each other.

***

 

8:23 AM

June 26

The Watergate Hotel

Susan woke up alone in bed to a knocking on her door. “Yeah,” she called out, her voice husky from sleep. She made sure to pull the sheet up to cover her breasts.

Scully poked her head in, fully dressed in black slacks and a dark, untucked, blue blouse. As soon as she opened the door, the pleasant smell of bacon drifted in.

“Good, you’re awake.”

“Barely,” Susan mumbled.

Scully chuckled. “Late night, huh?” she asked knowingly as she stood next to the bed.

Susan smiled mischievously. “Mmmm, nice night.”

Scully frowned. “That’s one thing I really miss.”

Susan sat up, the sheets clutched against her chest. “Sex?”

Scully smiled and sat down on the edge of the bed. “Well, there’s that,” she said. “It’s not like we had much time, but I really miss waking up with him beside me.”

Susan didn’t respond. She didn’t want to interrupt her if she wanted to continue. It wasn’t often that Scully opened up.

“Usually, he was awake before me and I would wake up to feeling him running a hand along my back,” she said looking down at her hand as she fiddled with a lose thread from the bed spread. “I could hear his heart beating under my cheek, the fine hairs on his chest…” She looked up at Susan, a wide happy smile on her face. “Come on, get up. We have a lead.” A with that, she left Susan to stare at her retreating back.

***

 

June 26th

9:54 PM

The Lone Gunmen

“His name is Daniel Boon,” Frohike said.

“God I hope that’s his screen name,” Susan said leaning a hip against the desk next to him with her arms crossed over her chest.

Frohike smiled up at her. “I would hope so,” he said.

“Well, what kind of information does he have?” Scully asked impatiently from his other side.

Frohike turned to her. “He said that he was contacted by someone who knows where Mulder is being held.”

“Where?” Scully asked breathlessly.

The little man shrugged. “He wouldn’t say, but his contact wants to meet with you.”

“When and where?” Michael asked this time.

“At a club in Manhattan.”

“How will we know this… contact?” Scully asked.

“He said he would know you.”

Susan nodded. “What club in Manhattan?”

Frohike looked down at his hands then back up to her. “He, ahh, said it was a… a uh…”

“A what?” asked Michael.

“It was a sex club.”

“A WHAT?” Scully responded.

“A sex club,” Frohike said again. “You know, one of those clubs were you pick someone up then have sex in the back rooms.”

“These places still exist?”

Frohike nodded. “They do in Manhattan.”

“What’s the name of this club,” Susan asked.

Frohike picked up a yellow memo pad where he had scribbled down the information. “He wants to meet July first at midnight at a club called The Shotgun, it’s on the corner of 20th Street and Second Avenue.”

Suddenly Susan laughed.

They all turned to look at her.

“What’s so funny?” Michael asked.

Susan shook her head. “That’s right down the block from the New York City Police Academy.”

 Part 13

July 29

2:32 PM

Islip, New York

MacArthur Airport

Michael carried their suitcases while Susan shouldered their carry-ons. He had offered to carry Scully’s as well, but she just laughed, asking him if he had three arms and added that it wasn’t too heavy and that she could manage.

“God, I missed home,” Susan groaned. “And I miss my car.”

Scully smiled as they all started towards the exit. “I miss your car, too.”

Susan chuckled. “We’ll just have to make sure we go out for a ride.”

As they walked through the airport to the main terminal, Susan glanced around, her brow furrowed.

“What is it?” Scully asked

Susan’s frown deepened and she stopped.

The rest of them fell in beside her.

“I don’t see Reggie,” she stated.

Michael followed her eyes. “Neither do I.” He looked at Susan. “Are you sure you told him we were coming in today?”

Susan nodded. “Yeah, I called him before we left Washington, he told me he’d be here.”

“Who’s Reggie?” Scully asked.

“Our driver,” Susan answered.

“You have a driver?” Scully sounded surprised.

Susan smiled. “Mike and I do a lot of traveling and instead of having to leave a car in long term parking, we use a limo company to take us to the airport. We have a regular guy; Reggie.”

“It’s also nice when we go into the city,” Michael added.

Susan smirked. “Beats the hell out of the Long Island Railroad.”

Scully shook her head, wondering what it must be like to have money like that. As her eyes roamed the room, a sign caught her attention. It was being held by a man in a black suit. ‘O’Sullivan’, it read. She patted Susan on the shoulder and pointed the man out.

“That’s not Reggie,” she said slowly. A feeling of apprehension passed through her, causing the hair on the back of her neck to rise.

Michael felt Susan’s reaction and turned to Scully. “Something’s wrong,” he warned.

“What’s the matter,” she asked. She could sense Susan and Michael’s growing concern.

Susan’s eyes darted around the terminal, as she tried to narrow her natural perception of her surroundings on the man holding the sign. Her body calmed; her awareness of him rose. She mentally scanned him as much as she could from that distance, her mind slightly touching his. She picked up that he was trying to use a relaxation technique to blank out his thoughts and mind as a way to deflect her from scanning him. Susan found this interesting, even though it didn’t work, that he knew he would be vulnerable to her. The question was, how did he know about her gift?

She glanced sideways at Michael. “He hasn’t seen us yet, and we need to get the hell out of here.” Her voice was low, but sharp, betraying her alarm.

“What did you get?” Scully asked.

“He’s going to give us a story claiming that Reggie is sick and he’s here as his replacement,” Susan informed them. “And then he’s going to try to.” She didn’t want to finish the sentence.

Scully swallowed nervously, suddenly feeling very exposed in the crowded airport.

“Is he alone?” Michael asked, guiding them behind a row of pay phones where he could still see him, but he could not see them.

Susan took a deep breath and closed her eyes. She quickly ran an inventory of the people around them. Normally, she sensed everyone around her and just ignored them, unless they caught her attention. Usually it was nothing and she just passed over it, but now, she ran a mental check list of the entire airport, and it’s surrounding areas.

A man was late for his appointment and he was annoyed his ride wasn’t on time. A woman worried about leaving her children with her mother while she and her husband took a much needed vacation. Another was feeling decadent as she and her lover were escaping for a few days in the Bahamas, her husband thinking she was going on a business trip. Another man was fed up with the woman at the ticket counter who was about ready to punch him if he didn’t stop berating her.

“What’s she doing?” Scully whispered to Michael as she looked around the room nervously.

He leaned down to her in an attempt not to distract Susan. “She’s trying to gauge the intentions of everyone around us.” His voice, too, was a whisper.

“She can do that?”

Michael nodded. “Yeah, but she doesn’t like to do it that often, it can be a little overwhelming. I’ve only seen her do it a few times.”

“Wow,” Scully breathed out in awe.

Michael nodded again. “That’s what I thought the first time she did it front of me.” He smiled. “Can’t you feel her doing it?”

Scully frowned. “What do you mean?”

“That.” He lifted her arm, it was covered in goose bumps. “It’s like how the air is before an electrical storm.”

Scully’s eyes widened. “Yeah, I do feel that.” Her voice was breathy. It was an amazing feeling.

“She’s got about a mile radius,” Michael added.

“She can sense everyone within a mile?” Scully’s voice rose incredulously.

“Yeah, and the more people there are within that mile, the longer it takes,” Michael explained. “It helped us catch a guy who was hiding on us while we were chasing him through the Pine Barrens in Manorville. Found him trying to bury himself under some leaves.”

“Oh, my God,” Scully whispered.

Michael grinned, feeling a touch of pride. “Pretty cool, huh?”

Susan’s eyes snapped open, releasing a breath she was holding. “Come on, let’s use the side exit and grab a cab.” She tugged on Michael arm as she spoke. She was feeling a little lightheaded.

“Is he alone?” Scully asked trying to keep up with them.

“He is in here, but he’s got two thugs waiting in the limo.” Susan shook her head. “What do they think I am – stupid? I picked up those guys easily.”

They were just about at the sliding glass doors when the man with the sign noticed them. “Hey wait!” he shouted, running towards them. “Mr. O’Sullivan!”

The agents made a mad dash for the doors towards a cab waiting at the curb. Michael motioned for the cab driver to pop the trunk, ignoring the indignant cries of the woman who was already waiting for the cab. He quickly loaded the small suitcases they were carrying, slammed the trunk down and walked toward the open door. “Sorry ma’am,” he said to the woman as he patted Scully on the shoulder, the closet to him of his two companions. “My wife is pregnant and isn’t feeling very well.”

Scully hoped she didn’t hesitate too long before she groaned with a hand covering her stomach as she got into the car, followed by a smiling Susan.

The woman relaxed visibly. “That’s all right,” she said, feeling the effects of a Michael megawatt smile. “I know how it feels. I’ll just get the next one.”

Michael grinned again. “Thanks,” he said getting into the car next to Susan and slammed the door behind him.

The man chasing them was joined by two large men as he ran in their direction. Scully saw a glint of metal in one of the men’s hands as she watched them approach from the back window. The driver, completely oblivious to their urgency, slowly turned to them. “Weah to?” he drawled out, his New York accent was thick.

“Mattituck,” Susan said sharply, looking over her shoulder. The men were getting closer.

The man’s face showed his surprise. “Dat’s kinda fah, it’ll caust ya.”

Susan waved her hand in the air. “Yeah, yeah, whatever, just get moving.”

The man turned around and slowly maneuvered the car into the airport traffic. “Whateva ya want lady,” he muttered.

Scully watched as the men knocked over a man trying to load his luggage into the back of a Honda civic as they tried to catch up with the cab, but they grew smaller as car made it’s way out of the airport. She saw the man who had the sign push one of the other men in frustration and go back in the other direction.

Michael breathed out. “Man, that was close.”

Susan didn’t respond.

“Are you sure we should go to your house?” Scully asked.

Susan nodded. “Yeah, we’ll be safe there.” She glanced at Michael. “Besides, I just really want to go home.”

Michael reached out to clasp her hand tightly in his.

***

 

Mattituck, Long Island

Residence of Michael O’Sullivan and Susan Halloway

4:40 PM

The ride home was an excruciating two hours, made in relative silence, each lost in their own disturbing thoughts.

As they made their way up the driveway toward the house, it was as if Scully was seeing it for the first time. The size and beauty of it was almost overwhelming. Having last seen it during the spring, she was unprepared for the sight of it in full blown summer. Dogwood Trees, apple trees, lilacs, cherry trees, a gigantic crab apple tree in the center of the front yard and the most beautiful rose bushes Scully had ever seen, dotted the areas surrounding the house. Next to the house, a trellis was covered in rose vines with a wrought iron table and chair set under it. When she finally closed her mouth and got out of the car, again, she was overwhelmed; she had never smelled anything more glorious in her life. It was the perfect mixture of flowers and saltwater she had ever had the pleasure of experiencing. Another thing she noticed was the sounds: birds chirping and the waves of the Long Island Sound lapping against the sand in the distance. There were none of the sounds she learned to live with in DC; no sounds of civilization.

Scully was utterly in love.

“Home sweet home,” Susan said as she walked to stand beside Scully.

Scully sighed deeply. “Mmmm.” She smiled at Susan. “I can understand why you didn’t sell it when you had the chance,” she said referring to how Susan learned about the existence of the house and property. Susan had no idea her parents had left her the house until a woman from a realty knocked on her door with an offer of an obnoxious sum of money for the house and surrounding acres. Susan claimed she fell in love with it the moment she saw it. Scully completely understood how she felt.

***

 

7:25 PM

“But one thing I can’t figure out is how this guy knows where Mulder is being held,” Scully said before she shoveled the rest of her filet mignon into her mouth. It was almost a crime for food to taste this good.

Michael was one hell of a cook.

Susan sighed. “I was thinking the same thing.” She leaned back in her chair, setting her fork down next to her plate and taking a large swallow of her amber colored drink.

Scully grimaced visibly. It was Susan’s third glass of Jack Daniel’s.

“Maybe it’s a trap,” Michael suggested taking a sip of his beer.

Susan pursed her lips and shook her head. “No, I don’t think so, I don’t get that feeling.”

Scully nodded. “I have to agree,” she said, her glass of water half way to her lips. “I don’t get that feeling either.”

Michael sighed. “Maybe he just wants to help out.”

Scully watched him finish his fourth beer.

“Maybe,” Susan said softly. “But the important thing we need to think about is that we need a reason to be in the city; a cover.”

“Mmm,” Scully grunted. “I was thinking that, too.”

“I mean, were supposed to be taking a break, we made sure Skinner knew that when we left Washington. But anyone who knows us, knows we don’t go to the city without a reason.”

Michael perked up. “Hey, I could call Katie. I think she mentioned that she’s doing a new show.” Michael got up from the table to head toward the kitchen.

“A show?” Scully asked, following Susan follow Michael.

“Mmm, hmm. Mike’s sister is the stage manager for Studio 64. She gets us tickets any time there’s a new show there.”

Scully’s face showed her surprise. Michael’s family sure is well off; a brother who is an architect, a sister who is a stage manager for a Broadway theater and he’s an FBI agent. His parents must be really proud.

Michael held the phone against his ear. “Hey Katie,” he said into the phone. “No, I’m sorry, we’ve been away.” He glanced as Susan. “No, we didn’t get to go, but no big deal. Hey, how’s that boyfriend of yours, what’s his name? Carmen?” He smiled at Scully. “Oh, right, Carlos.” Suddenly he let out a large bark of laughter. “I told you he was gay, but you wouldn’t listen, what happened, one night with you turned him off women forever?” He was silent of a moment. “Yeah, she’s here, hold on.” He gave the phone to Susan.

“Hi Katie, how ya doin’?” She smiled at Michael. “Great, we’re doing great. Yeah, hold on.” She dropped the hand holding the phone and quickly smacked Michael up side the head with the other.

“Owwwww!! What the hell was that for?” Michael exclaimed.

Susan brought the phone back up to her ear. “You’re welcome, here’s Mikey.”

Michael carefully took the phone back from Susan. “Very funny, brat,” he said. He listened for a few minutes then had to interrupt her. “Hey, can you do me a favor? What show are you working on? Yeah? It any good? Can you get us some tickets? Three. Yes, three. I do too have friends. I do too!”

Scully smiled, the bickering between brother and sister sounded very familiar. She wondered not for the first time how it must have been for Susan to grow up an only child.

Michael hung up. “She got us three front row seats to ‘The Tiger Queen’.

“Never heard of it,” Susan said.

Michael shrugged. “She said it was made from some Warner Brother’s movie.”

***

 

1:42 AM

June 20

Scully rolled over again in the large bed. She sighed and threw herself on her back, flinging off the covers. Her stomach grumbled. There was no way she could be hungry this soon. She was feeling stuffed not two hours ago.

Her stomach grumbled even louder in the darkness.

Sighing she hauled herself out of bed and threw on the robe she laid over the foot of the bed. Susan told her to make herself at home and decided that meant free range over their food, too.

Scully tiptoed down the stairs, but her rumbling stomach destroyed any hopes of being quiet. It didn’t seem to matter, though. As soon as she touched the bottom of the stairs, she heard the clicking of keys on a key board and the quiet hum of the television in the living room. She rounded the corner to find Susan sitting cross legged behind the coffee table, papers strewn about everywhere and Kolcek the Night Stalker on the TV. She didn’t fail to notice the half empty bottle of Jack Daniel’s and the glass next to the computer. It had to be a new bottle seeing that she finished the last bottle just after dinner.

“What’s the matter? Couldn’t sleep?” Susan asked, not turning around.

Scully jumped slightly. “Ah, no,” she said coming to stand behind the couch.

Susan turned to face her, smiling. “Hungry?” she asked.

Scully looked down at her hands resting on the back of the couch, her face red. “A little,” she admitted.

Susan laughed, pushing herself up. “Come on,” she said motioning Scully toward the kitchen. “I’m sure we’ve got something to feed ya.”

Scully watched as Susan steadily made her way into the other room, no signs of inebriation anywhere. She frowned, Susan should be half pickled by now.

Susan pulled a tub of Rocky Road ice cream from the freezer, then opened the refrigerator taking out a clear container of chocolate pudding, a bowl of strawberries, a can of Reddi Whip, and a box containing a cheesecake. She handed Scully as much as she could carry and grabbed two spoons and headed back to the living room.

Scully silently followed her.

Susan saved what she was working on, closed down her laptop and moved everything to the floor to allow Scully to put down their supplies.

“Susan, I can’t eat all of this,” Scully said sitting down on the floor across from Susan.

She smiled. “You’re not, I’m going to help you.”

Scully started to protest, but Susan stopped her.

“Come on, Dana, it’s not very often that you get the chance to do this, live a little.”

Scully gave in, not very reluctantly, Susan noticed and quickly dug in. Before they knew it, the Grandfather clock in the corner of the room chimed four times.

Susan licked the spoon she was holding then finished off the bottle of Jacks.

“You’re going to be feeling that tomorrow.” Scully pointed to the bottle with her spoon, sounding a little sleepy.

Susan frowned. “What, from this?” She picked up the bottle then shook her head. “Not a chance.”

“What do you mean?”

Susan smiled. “Haven’t you noticed that I can eat anything I please and not have to worry about my weight?”

Scully shrugged. “So.”

“I have an extremely fast metabolism. I break down alcohol almost the minute it hits my system. You should have seen me in collage.”

“Oh, yeah?” Scully raised an eyebrow.

Susan grinned. “Can’t tell you how many bets I won.” Her smile vanished. “Actually got me in trouble once.”

Scully leaned back on the sofa, a hand on her stomach. She couldn’t remember eating so much in her life. “How so?”

Susan placed her elbows on the coffee table and leaned forward. “I was at Widener, my third year, at a Frat party. My ability to out drink any man or woman was well known.” Susan ate the last of the cheese cake. “Well, there was this guy who was a football player at Penn State at the party and he decided that he had to prove his manhood by betting me that he could down more shots of Zambuca than me in five minutes without ralphing.”

“Uh, oh.”

Susan nodded. “We did eight shots before he fell over. I knew right away something was wrong. I ran over to him, but was pushed away by his friends. He died on the way to the hospital.”

“Alcohol poisoning,” Scully stated grimly.

Susan nodded. “I guess it didn’t help that he was already toasted before we started. The next day I was visited by a few of his teammates. Boy were they pissed.”

“I can imagine. Grief can manifest itself in many ways.”

“Yeah,” Susan agreed. “They accused me of spiking his drink and one guy was going to, I quote, teach me a lesson. That was when he started to unzip his jeans while another guy grabbed me.”

Scully gasped and sat up. “He didn’t.”

Susan shook her head. “No, thank God. You can’t image how scared I was. I could sense everyone’s intentions and I couldn’t do a damn thing to stop it.”

“What happened?”

“Peter happened.”

“Peter?” Scully asked, confused.

Susan smiled. “My first love,” she said.

“Ahh.”

“The second the guy started towards me was when Peter and his best friend Bobby came waltzing in. I should mention that Bobby was on the weight lifting team and Peter was the title holder in the heavyweight division for the wrestling team. Not an ounce of fat on ‘im.” She looked away for a minute. “Come to think of it, he was built a lot like Michael,” she said as if she just realized it.

“Uh, oh,” Scully grinned.

Susan returned the grin. “You guessed it. They beat the living shit out of everyone in the room.”

Scully shook her head.

“Ahh, Peter,” Susan said wistfully.

“So, he was your first?” Scully asked, her full stomach and the late hour making her bold.

“Yeah,” she said, shyly. “I was twenty-two, so was he.” She leaned forward. “What about you?” she asked.

Scully bit her lip, she should have expected this. After all, she started it.

“Come on, Dana, name and place.”

Scully sighed. “You first.”

Susan smiled. “Fine, Peter, Peter Griner, as you already know, in his bed. It was very romantic. He planned the entire evening; candle lit dinner and everything.” She leaned back. “Now you.”

Scully closed her eyes. “I was sixteen.” She opened her eyes to gauge Susan’s reaction. Nothing. “I was at my Aunt Katherine’s for the summer, fell madly in love with the life guard at the local pool.”

“How old was he?” Susan interrupted.

“Twenty.”

“You slut,” Susan teased.

“Do you want me to finish this?”

Susan smiled. “Sorry.”

“He asked me out after about three weeks of me mooning over him. We went on two dates before I gave him my virginity in the back of his truck on the beach.”

“Boy, you were a slut!” Susan said laughing.

Scully grinned. “Nah, I just really wanted him.”

“Wow, Dana, you surprised me.” She shook her head. “Sixteen with an older man.”

“For some reason I expected you to be a bit younger than twenty-two.”

Susan made a face. “When would I have had the chance? Besides, who would have had me? You forget I graduated high school at 16, graduated Valedictorian from U Maryland at 19, then moved on to Widener.”

Scully’s eyebrows shot up a the mention of Valedictorian.

“In High School, yeah, I had guys after me, but I was a nerd, and sensed the only reason they wanted to date me. In college, I was so busy studying that I didn’t really date much. Only when I went to Widener did I allow myself to relax and enjoy life a bit.”

“You were Valedictorian?” Scully asked.

Susan nodded. “Went to U Maryland and Widener on scholarship.”

“Wow,” Scully breathed out.

Susan shrugged and stood to clean up the mess of empty containers on the table.

“Susan?” Scully asked, stopping Susan’s nervous movements.

“Mmmm?”

“Why are you working for the FBI?” she asked.

Susan frowned and sat down again. “What do you mean?”

“Well, I know you told me that you worked at that psychiatric center and couldn’t stand being around the mentally ill all the time because of your gift, but with your intelligence, you could be doing something so much better.”

Susan sighed.

“And with your money, you don’t even have to work.”

Susan looked up. “I could never not work. You, of all people, should know that,” she said a bit sharper than she intended.

Scully didn’t respond.

She ran a hand over her face. “I.,” she paused, letting her hand drop to the table. She looked up at Scully who was now sitting forward on the sofa. “I was given this gift for a reason,” she said. “And I truly feel that it’s so I can help people; stop the monsters in out there.”

Scully nodded. “Mulder’s the same way.”

“Yeah, I know. We worked on some horrific cases way back when.”

“What was it like?” Scully asked. “What was he like?”

Susan sighed. “It was very tiring and draining.”

“But what was he like?”

“He was brilliant, intense, fascinating, genius.”

Scully smiled. “A lot like he is now.”

Susan returned the smile. “Yeah, but with more energy.”

Scully cocked her head to the side. “How so?”

“Well,” she said. “Mulder and I weren’t partners, but we were all part of a team. Everyone knew we were sleeping together, but they didn’t really care as long as it didn’t affect our work.”

“I can understand that.”

“It actually seemed to help the work.”

“How so?”

“We would spend hours working on profiles, interviewing people, going over crime scenes, looking at bodies, you know.”

Scully nodded.

“It could get pretty horrific at times and I think that if we didn’t have each other for comfort and support, we wouldn’t have made it.” She smiled a sad smile. “I said he was energetic because we would spend all day at work then all night making love.”

Scully looked down at her hands. She hated to admit it, but she was more than a little jealous that Mulder took comfort in another woman’s arms, even though she didn’t know him at the time.

Susan knew what Scully was feeling, but didn’t comment on it. It wasn’t her place to, especially since she was the woman who caused Scully’s jealousy.

“But I can tell you something,” Susan said softly. “It’s nothing like what you two have.”

Scully didn’t say anything.

“Dana, I’m not saying that just to make you feel better.”

Scully looked up.

Susan stood and walked around the coffee table to kneel in front of Scully. “You and Mulder have a connection he and I never had. You have been through so much together and have such a history that I could never compete even if I wanted to. He loves you with his entire soul and you should never doubt that. Never.”

Scully didn’t realize she was crying until a tear landed on her tightly clasped hands.

“Dana,” Susan said softly.

“I, I just miss him so much,” she sobbed. “I never knew it could hurt this much.”

Susan looked at her with empathy. “I know,” she whispered. “I know you do.”

“God, what am I going to do if he’s not all right?”

“Oh, Dana.”

“Susan,” Scully’s voice hitched in her throat. “What if we find him and he’s.”

“NO!” Susan shouted fiercely. “Don’t even think that! We’re going to find him and he’s going to be just fine!”

“But,” Scully started.

“NO! No,” she said grabbing Scully into a tight hug. “We’re going to find him and he’s going to be fine. OK? Believe me.” Her voice broke as her eyes filled up. She wasn’t sure who she was trying to convince; the memory of her dream at The Lone Gunmen’s flashed in her mind. God, he had to be all right. “You just have to believe,” she murmured Scully returned the embrace, her tears falling freely now. “I want to believe.”

 Part 14

June 30

9:13 AM

Susan felt a wetness on the side of her face, then again on her neck. She waved her hand at the annoyance. “Neve me nown, Mike,” she slurred, half asleep. The wetness came again, along with a loud sniffing sound right in her ear. “Miiiiiikkkkeee,” she whined, flinging her hand out again, finally making contact.

She frowned. She didn’t remember Michael having a beard. She moved her hand around, still coming in contact with hair. Then, her hand was wet.

What the hell?

She opened her eyes but quickly closed them, the bright light from the windows blinding her. Where the hell was she?

The sniffing sound came again, as did the wetness. She slowly opened her eyes to a very happy, very excited dog.

“Ruffus,” Susan groaned.

At the sound of his name, the malamute grew more excited and proceeded to slobber all over her. She effectively held the dog at arms length, but when she tried to move her head, white lights of pain flashed at the base of her skull. She looked straight ahead and saw the ceiling. It was then that she realized she had fallen asleep sitting on the floor resting against the couch, her head leaning back on the cushions.

She carefully moved her head to the side, the pain not as bad as it was before, revealing a sleeping Scully. She was stretched out comfortably on the sofa, hand clasped gently over her slightly swollen tummy. Her head was turned toward the back of the sofa and she was making very soft snoring noises.

“Have fun last night?” Michael asked, pulling Ruffus away.

The dog sat down patiently at Michael’s feet, waiting for his opportunity to pounce of Susan again.

Susan slowly sat up, wincing at the stiffness in her neck. She rubbed the area, ineffectually. “Yeah,” she mumbled.

Michael smiled, but it vanished when he took in the sight of all the food they had eaten. The previous new container of Rocky Road ice cream now contained just a small puddle of soupy nuts and marshmallows. The can of Reddi Whip was completely empty, as was the container of chocolate pudding and bowl of strawberries. Michael pouted. He had plans for those strawberries.

He nudged the box that held the cheesecake. It was empty, too. “Christ Susan, you ate the whole cheesecake?”

Susan looked up at him sheepishly then shrugged. “Now you can make one?” she offered helpfully.

Michael just shook his head and moved the items out of the way so he could sit on the coffee table. “Turn around,” he said, making a twirling movement with his right index finger.

Susan looked at him suspiciously, but did as she was told. She let out a low groan when Michael’s warm hands made contact with the sore muscles in her neck.

“Mmmmm,” Susan moaned. “You are so good at this.” Her voice was husky.

“Should I leave or just pretend to be sleeping?” Scully mumbled from the couch.

Susan opened her eyes, not even realizing she had closed them and smiled. Michael’s hands stilled. “Nah, I’m done anyway,” Michael said patting Susan on the shoulder than stood.

Susan turned around to look up at Michael seeing for the first time what he was wearing. Her eyes widened and she stood quickly, the movement causing her to sway slightly. Her body blocked Scully’s view of him.

“Were are you going?” she asked, shrilly.

“The gym,” Michael answered simply. “To play a game of racket ball with John.”

“You can’t wear that,” Susan said, her hand pointing to his shorts.

Michael looked down, his eyebrows furrowed. “Why not?”

“Because, because,” she stumbled, her eyes fixed on the spandex bicycle shorts Michael was wearing. She looked up at him. “Because I can tell you’ve been circumcised.”

Scully would never admit it, but she was trying to tilt her head to see past Susan to see what had her so riled up. But when she said what she just said, Scully blushed and looked away.

Michael grinned. “But Susie, you already know I’ve been circumcised.”

“Yeah, and now so will the rest of the world.”

Michael’s grin remained. “Fine, I’ll put these on.” He reached into the gym bag laying at his feet and pulled out a pair of cut off sweat pants. “Will that make you happy, dear?”

“Yes,” she said, watching him struggle with the shorts as he tried to put them on over his sneakers. “When are you leaving?”

Michael straightened up. “An hour or so. Thought I’d make some breakfast for you two beautiful ladies.”

Susan rolled her eyes.

Scully snorted.

“Fine,” Susan said. “I’m going to go grab a quick run out on the beach. You’ll still be here when I get back?” she asked hopefully.

Michael nodded and leaned down to kiss her cheek. “Breakfast will be on the table.”

She smiled. “OK.” She turned to Scully who was slowly raising and stretching her arms over her head.

“God I’m too old to do an all nighter,” Scully groaned, her muscles protesting.

Susan smiled. “Yeah, but you have to admit it was fun.”

Scully grinned. “Yeah, it was.” She looked at Mike. “What’s for breakfast?”

Susan chuckled then snapped her fingers. “Come on Ruffus, let’s get ready.”

The dog happily trailed behind her up the stairs.

She quickly changed into a pair of running shorts and a black sports bra. Sitting on the bed, she was lacing up her sneakers when she remembered something. She leaned over the bed to open the night stand drawer. She pulled out what looked like a pink compact. She opened it quickly and popped out the last blue pill. She frowned when she saw the row of green pills. She told herself not to forget to go to the pharmacy and refill the prescription this week.

“Damn,” she mumbled. That meant she was going to get her period in two days. She looked up into the mirror across from her, a grimace on her face. “Who ever said it was great being a woman, had to have been the same person who invented the bra and high heels.”

***

 

Susan pumped her arms and legs, her breathing quick, but steady. Ruffus easily kept up with her, his tongue hanging out the side of his mouth. She raced around a slight curve, just reaching her three mile marker when she slammed into something, pain radiated through her entire body. The impact was hard enough to knock her down, her hands falling behind her in the sand absorbing some of the impact.

She looked up to see a very large man with broad shoulders, almost no neck and a sneer on his dark features. He was dressed in a gray suit, looking very out of place on the beach.

Susan’s heart fluttered in her chest as a familiar feeling raced through her. She knew this man and remembered the warning she was given about him.

***

 

“What the hell was that?” she yelled at him, out of breath.

“That is what you will feel when he touches you.”

“Who?” she demanded.

“The one who has been sent to eliminate you. The one who took Agent Mulder. You need to know or you will not be able to stop him!”

“What, what do I need to know?!”

“That he can be anyone and anything. He has already gotten too close to you in the past and you need to be aware of how he feels.”***

Susan scrambled away on her hands and feet like a crab. She vaguely heard Ruffus barking in the distance. The man started towards her, then bent down to grab her foot, yanking with inhuman strength to pull her to him. He grabbed her arm and hauled her to her feet.

She let out a horse cry of pain at his touch. It was so extreme and so intense, she felt paralyzed.

“Where is he?” the man boomed.

Susan had a hard time understanding him.

“Where is he?” He emphasized his words with a tight grip on her throat.

“Who?” Her voice was garbled by the hand around her larynx.

“Agent Mulder.” He shook her.

“Aggh,” she gagged out, losing oxygen quickly. “I don’t know.” She couldn’t struggle, all her muscles were in a state of spasm.

“I do not believe you,” he said as his other arm cupped the back of her head. “I will just have to find the answers myself.”

White hot pain flashed in her eyes as he tried to invade her mind. It felt like worms were working their way through her brain. She could feel him inside her, and her body convulsed, darkness creeping in on her. She could feel her mind turning to putty.

‘Oh, God, no’

Scrapping up whatever strength she had, she fought him; fought him with her very fiber. She’d be damned if she let this thing beat her.

The man she knew only as the bounty hunter grimaced when he felt her first wave of resistance. He pushed harder, she pushed back.

The hand around her throat tightened and her mental struggles weakened.

Suddenly the man let out a cry of pain and his grip loosened, allowing Susan to wiggle from his hold. She fell bonelessly to the sand, landing awkwardly on her wrist. Then, a stinging in her eyes almost overwhelmed her. She looked up to see Ruffus with his jaw clamped on the man’s leg then quickly let go with a yelp.

A green substance was bubbling over the man’s shredded trousers and along Ruffus’ muzzle.

Ruffus frantically tried to rub at his eyes with his paws, but to little effect.

Susan’s eyes burned, but she’d be stupid to stick around. She struggled to her feet just as the man made a motion towards her, but she was too quick.

“RUFFUS!!” She shouted. “COME ON!!” Without looking back, knowing the dog would follow her faithfully, she took off towards home.

Ruffus blindly took off after her.

She chanced a glance behind her, but only saw miles of beach. The man was gone.

She staggered up the steps from the beach to the back yard. Her lungs were burning and she could barely see. “MICHAEL!!” she yelled.

He was already on his way towards her, having sensed her distress. Scully trailed behind him.

“Susan!” he shouted. He felt a sense of deja vue. Hadn’t he done this before, not so long ago?

Susan fell to her knees. “The man,” she huffed out. “He warned me. his blood, green.. Oh, God, it burns,” she groaned, rubbing at her eyes.

Michael couldn’t make sense of what she was saying, but Scully could.

Scully grabbed her hands. “Susan, stop, you’ll only make it worse.”

Susan pushed her away. “No, help him, help Ruffus.”

The dog was frantically pawing at his eyes and mouth to stop the burning, stinging sensation.

“Susan,” Scully and Michael said trying to get a hold of her again.

“NO! Help him! He doesn’t know what’s going on, he saved my life!”

Michael hesitated for a moment then moved toward the dog, giving Scully a hard look. ‘Help her, I’ll help him,’ it said. He knew that Susan would continue to protest until he did what she wanted. Sometimes she could be as tenacious as a pit bull and it really pissed him off.

He picked Ruffus up and carried him back to the house. Scully helped Susan to her feet and guided her through the back yard.

Michael stopped on the patio and carefully laid the dog down. He was whimpering quietly.

He reached for the hose and turned on the faucet to wash out Ruffus’ mouth and eyes.

Susan was doubled over, her hands on her thighs watching Michael tend to her beloved canine through bleary bloodshot eyes.

Scully couldn’t understand how Susan was still standing. Everyone she had seen who had been exposed to the bounty hunter’s ‘blood’ had fallen into unconsciousness, even if they were exposed to a small amount. And here she was, watching Susan breath heavily as Michael tried to help Ruffus as much as he could.

To Susan, it felt as is she was hit with tear gas and mace at the same time. Yeah, she was wheezing a little, but other than that excruciating discomfort, she knew she wasn’t going to die and should be OK in awhile.

You’ll feel better once it stops hurting her father’s voice whispered in her head. She could still see his smiling face as he said it. It was one of his trademark remarks she remembered from so long ago.

“Come on, Susan, sit down. Let me take a look at you,” Scully said, a hand on her shoulder guided her into a sitting position.

Susan acquiesced, falling to a heap onto a lounge chair. Scully tilted her chin up so she could get a better look a her eyes. Tears were streaming down Susan’s face and her nose was running. Scully could also hear her labored breathing.

“How do you feel?” Scully asked, her eyes raking over her face in a detached manner.

Susan sucked in a breath. “I, I,” she wiped at her nose with her arm. “My eyes are burning, and I’m seeing double.”

Scully frowned. “Did you hit your head?”

Susan shook her head, no. “I don’t think so.” She paused. “No, no I didn’t.” She was still having trouble breathing.

“How are your lungs?”

Susan wheezed in a breath. “I feel a tightness in my chest, here.” She laid her hand in the middle of her chest, between her breasts. “And they’re burning, like I’ve been running in freezing cold temperatures.”

Scully nodded. “Anything else? Are you feeling warm, cold?”

Susan shook her head. “Nothing more than I usually feel after running.”

Scully frowned. She didn’t know what to make of this. She ran her hand over Susan’s forehead seeing if she was running a temperature, but other than being sweaty, her skin felt normal.

Susan breathed deeply in an attempt to calm her breathing. Already, she could feel the pain in her chest receding and the wheezing subside. However, the burning sensation in her lungs remained. She scrubbed her palms over eyes, ignoring Scully’s reprimands. She could tell they were red and swollen, but now she felt as if she just finished one hell of a crying jag.

Michael turned off the water and tossed the hose aside. Ruffus was thoroughly drenched, but his whimpering had stopped; he appeared to be unconscious. Scully didn’t know how a dog would react and hoped that he would pull through.

He turned to Susan. “Are you all right? What happened?” He towered over her, his hands on his hips.

Susan leaned back in the chair, turning her red eyes on Michael. “I was running and then POW!” She punched her right first into her left palm. “There he was. I fell like a sack of potatoes.”

Michael looked confused. “Who?”

Susan licked her lips and glanced at Scully.

Michael caught the look in her eyes and turned to Scully. “You know about this?”

Scully sputtered.

“Mike,” Susan said weakly. “It’s not her fault. I didn’t want to upset you.”

“Upset me?!” his voice was starting to rise. “What the hell is going on?”

Susan sat up and started to stand, but was bombarded with a shot of dizziness.

Michael made to grab her, but she waved him off. “I’m all right, I just want to check on Ruffus.”

“SUSAN!” Michael shouted impatiently.

She ignored him and crouched down next to the dog. She laid a hand on his chest and closed her eyes briefly. She had no way of telling if he’d pull through. Her faithful companion unknowingly may have sacrificed his life to save hers. She didn’t know what she’d do if he died.

“GOD DAMMIT SUSAN, TELL ME WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON!!!

Susan slowly rose to face him. “When I was in the woods.” She waited to see his reaction, his frown deepened. “I was warned that someone.” She glanced at Scully. “Something,” she corrected, “was going to try to, try to. kill me.”

“WWWWWWWWWWHHHHHHAAAAAAAAAAAAATTTTTTT?!!!” He shouted, his face turning red with anger.

“Mi.,” she started.

“YOU KNEW THIS WAS GOING TO HAPPEN AND YOU DIDN’T TELL ME?”

“Michael,” Susan pleaded.

“She told you?” Michael asked Scully.

She nodded, hesitantly.

“JESUS CHRIST!” He threw his hands in the air and turned away from them.

“Michael listen to me, I didn’t tell you because I didn’t really believe him,” Susan said quickly.

He turned back to face her. “But damn it Susan, you should have told me anyway. How the hell do you think that makes me feel?”

Susan didn’t respond.

“It makes me wonder what else you haven’t told me.”

Susan’s head shot up, a wounded look on her face. “Mike, I have never kept anything from you before, you should know that.”

Michael gave her a hard look, trying to figure out if he should believe her. Finally, he relented. “You’re right, I do know that,” he said softly.

Susan visibly relaxed.

“Now, what the hell happened out there?” Michael said in a tone that left Susan knowing that this wasn’t over and would be addressed later.

Susan carefully explained what happened, starting with the impact.

“I slammed into him and it felt like I hit a brick wall. Shooting pain raced through me and I lost all motor functions. Then he grabbed my leg, pulled me to him then hauled me to my feet. That was when he asked me where Mulder was.”

Scully interrupted her. “Wait, I thought you said Jeremiah Smith told you that he was the one who took him.” The confusion was evident on her face.

Susan nodded. “He did. I guess he got his facts wrong because when I didn’t tell him, he tried to take the information from me.”

“What do you mean, ‘take the information’?” Michael asked.

Scully dropped down in a nearby chair and Susan sat next to her. Michael remained standing.

“He didn’t believe me when I told him I didn’t know where Mulder was, so he grabbed my head and tried to read it from me.”

“He can do that?”

Susan leaned forward, her elbows on her bare knees. “Not as well as I can. I could fight him.” She grimaced.

“What?” Scully asked.

Susan turned her head to look at her. “It was the strangest, most.” she shook herself. “It wasn’t really a pleasant sensation. It felt like I had bugs crawling around my brain.”

Scully made a face.

“Did he get anything, like our little meeting at the club?” Michael asked, crouching down in front of her, his left hand on her knee, steadying himself.

Susan shook her head. “I don’t think so. Just when I started to weaken, he let me go.”

“Why?” Scully asked.

Susan cocked her head toward the still unmoving Ruffus. She was glad to see that his chest still rose and fell rhythmically. “Ruffus clamped down on his leg, causing ‘im to lose his grip. When I felt the burning, I took off, knowing Ruffus would follow.” And he did, thank God, she said to herself.

“How are you feeling now?” Scully asked, breaking into her thoughts.

Susan was quiet for a moment, doing a mental check list of herself. “OK,” she breathed out. “Aside from feeling a bit tired, I feel fine.”

Scully shook her head, amazed.

“What?” Michael asked.

“She should be unconscious right now, fighting for her life.”

Michael looked at Susan. She looked fine to him.

Susan shrugged. “Maybe I’m naturally immune to this,” she theorized.

“Maybe,” Michael and Scully said quietly.

***

 

July 1

11:12

Manhattan, New York

Just outside ‘The Shotgun’

“God, this place looks even more seedy than I thought it would,” Michael mumbled from his place on line. He felt very uncomfortable in the tight leather pants Susan insisted he wear. His skin-tight white shirt hugged his chest so much so that it was nearly transparent making it possible to see the definition of his pectoral and stomach muscles. The shirt was slightly bunched at his waist in an effort to conceal the belly holster that held his off duty 9mm Colt automatic. He liked where Susan’s gun was better. In fact, he wished he WAS that gun. He smiled and glanced at Susan who was standing at his right.

She was dressed in a painted on black spandex dress. He couldn’t help but grin at his reaction at seeing her in their suite at The Continental Hotel. She walked out of their bedroom, actually it was more like sauntered out and Michael’s jaw hit the rug.

She smiled shyly at his reaction. “You like?”

“Parts of me are applauding.”

She laughed and slowly turned in a circle to give him the whole effect.

“Now, you’re getting a standing ovation.”

She laughed again.

He stalked closer to her and placed his hands on her hips, making smile circles with his thumbs. “Is this what you and Dana bought when you went out yesterday?”

She smiled. “I had to practically force Dana to buy what she’s wearing tonight.”

His eyes settled on her chest. “Are you wearing underwear?” he asked gruffly.

She gave him a coy smile. “I’m not wearing a bra, but I am wearing a thong and thigh highs. Didn’t want to have a strong panty line.”

Michael gulped. “I’m afraid to ask where you’re hiding your gun.” He raised his eyes quickly. “You are bringing your gun, right?” His face showed his alarm.

Her smiled widened. Nodding, she stepped away from him. “Mmm, hummm,” she said in her throat.

Michael watched, rooted in place as Susan slowly hitched up her dress relieving the lace tops of her thigh highs then a small holster attached to a garter high up on the inside of her right thigh. In it, was a two shot, 38 double action Derringer.

“Oh, God,” Michael groaned. He had never seen anything more sexy than that in his life. If he was still mad at her for not telling him about the alien bounty hunter, he wasn’t now. This site was a cop’s wet dream. He’d have to remember to ask her to wear this outfit again when he knew they weren’t going out.

“Hopefully I won’t have to get more than two shots off if I need to use it,” Susan said, her eyes smiling.

“Mmm,” Michael hummed, not really capable of a response.

Before things could get out of hand, Scully entered the room. Susan quickly righted the hem line of her dress, which wasn’t that much lower than it was, ending just low enough to cover the tops of the thigh highs. If she bent over, the person behind her would surely get a view.

Michael let out a whistle at the sight before him. “Damn, Mulder’s going to be sorry he missed this.”

Scully was dressed in pretty much the same manner as Susan, but her dress was a little longer, ending just above her knees. The slight roundness of her lower belly was actually very sexy in Michael’s opinion. She felt uncomfortable under his scrutiny, wishing that she could just go in her room and hide under her bed, but they agreed that tonight, they were going as a threesome. Michael suggested it as their cover. Scully smiled when Susan smacked him and called him a pig, but they all agreed that it would be safer to stick together.

“Ready to go?” Michael asked as Susan and Scully stepped into their heels. Susan was now almost as tall a Michael in her five inch stilettos which left Scully still feeling like she stepped into a hole. She came up to his neck, her eyes level with his chest.

Michael took each woman on an arm and they made their way toward the club on foot; making several turns and U-turns in hopes of losing anyone that was following them even though Susan assured them no one was.

“These two with you?” roughly asked the bouncer, a large black man who reminded Susan a lot of John Coffey from The Green Mile.

Michael tightened his arms around Susan and Scully’s waist and gave him what only could be described as a dirty old man’s smile. “I’m one lucky bastard,” he said proudly.

The bouncer let his eyes rake up and down Susan and Scully’s bodies, one a time. “I would say you are.”

Susan rubbed a palm over Michael’s chest. “Why don’t you come on in later and join us?” Susan asked, her voice low and sultry, but high enough to sound like a bimbo.

Scully mirrored Susan, running a hand over Michael’s stomach. “Never had a man as large as you,” she said.

Susan was surprised at Scully’s response, but didn’t show it.

Michael lost his smile and pulled the women closer to him. “I’m sure he’s busy,” he said with a warning to the large man.

The bouncer only nodded and opened the door allowing the three of them to enter, blasting them with loud music with base so heavy they could feel it vibrating inside them.

As soon as Susan took one step inside the club, she staggered, nearly falling down if it wasn’t for Michael’s arm anchored around her waist.

“What’s the matter?” he asked in a low voice, leading them out of the open door.

Susan shook her head, sure that she could feel something rattle when she did. She took two deep breaths before she could answer. “This place is so loaded with sexual energy, I nearly had an orgasm!” she shouted into his ear so that he could hear her over the loud music.

His eyes widened and Scully wished she could have heard what Susan had said, relying on the expression on his face to tell her that whatever Susan had said shocked him.

“I don’t sense anything other than sex. I wouldn’t mind living above this place, I would never want to go out!”

Michael glanced at Scully, wondering if he should tell her what Susan was sensing from this place.

She gave him a quizzical look.

He shook his head and leaned into her. “It’s nothing!” he shouted. “She doesn’t sense that anyone wants to harm us!”

Scully pulled away and nodded, knowing he wasn’t telling her everything.

After walking the perimeter of the club, making mental checklists of the exits and the location of the back hallway that led to ‘Private Rooms’, they decided to act the part of a threesome and dance.

They, actually Michael and Susan, agreed to put Scully in between them seeing that she was the smaller of the two women and also to give Susan unrestricted access to anyone who would approach them and there were many, mostly men. Michael just glared at them until they got the hint and went away.

They danced with Scully facing Michael, his hands on her hips, her hands on his chest. She tried to act the part of a sexy woman who was dancing with her lovers, but every time she looked up, she was shot back to reality when it was Michael’s face that looked down, not Mulder’s.

Susan was dancing behind Scully, her arms draped over her shoulders so she could put her hands on Michael’s shoulders. She sensed Scully’s distress, but could do nothing to alleviate it.

The music boomed a loud steady beat and the three of them danced and swayed to the music in perfect sync. Susan sensuously moved her hips in time with the music, her eyes locked on Michael’s.

After awhile of this, Michael watched as a man who couldn’t be older than twenty five came up behind Susan, place his hands on her hips and started to dance with them, his pelvis grinding into Susan’s backside.

Susan’s eyes stayed locked with Michael’s for a second before she leaned in and whispered something in Scully’s ear.

Scully nodded.

Susan gave Michael a wink then turned to dance with the man.

Scully swore she could hear Michael’s molars breaking when he turned them so that both of them could see Susan dancing with this man.

If Scully was pressed to describe the sight before her, should would have to call it fully clothed vertical sex.

Scully couldn’t really see then man’s features in the pulsating light of the club, but she could clearly see his hand move down her side, cup her ass briefly then move lower to the back of her thigh to hike her leg up over his hip, dancing in such a way that was so much more than moving to the beat of the music.

Michael’s finger’s dug into Scully’s side painfully, but both of them were too stunned to react.

Susan said something into the man’s ear and he nodded then said something. Susan ran a hand through his hair then turned her head to Michael and Scully.

She gave both of them a slow long look then dropped her leg and allowed the man to lead her off the dance floor toward the hallway that lead to the private rooms.

Michael and Scully quickly counted to thirty before he clasped her hand in his large sweaty one and went to follow Susan.

 Part 15

Michael practically dragged Scully along behind him while she struggled on her high heels to keep up with him.

As he made his way down the hall, he passed the ‘private rooms’. Strange noises could be heard coming from behind closed doors. Once, they even heard the baaing of a sheep.

When Michael passed each door, he’d pause momentarily, running his hand over the wood, trying to located Susan’s presence.

Michael stopped outside a door at the end of the hallway, giving Scully a quick look of concern.

“They’re in here,” he said feeling Susan behind the door. Reaching into the front of his leather pants, he pulled out his 9mm.

Scully would have liked to take out her gun as well, but Michael didn’t give her the chance.

Michael pushed the door open revealing a badly lit room with dirty gray walls and a red shag carpet. Against the wall opposite the door was a black leather couch that reminded Scully a lot of the one in Mulder’s apartment. Sitting on it, were Susan and the man who had danced with her. He sat very close, invading her personal space with one of his hands holding hers and the other cupping her cheek. He was looking at her with openly defined awe.

Scully glanced quickly around the room, wrinkling her nose. She detected the lingering sent of body fluids she’d rather not name.

As Scully closed the door behind her, Michael holstered his gun and made his way across the room with two long strides. Grabbing the man by his shirt, Michael hauled him to his feet slamming him up against the wall.

“Get your God damned fuckin’ hands off her!” he growled, his face inches from his. Little bits of spittle formed at the corners of his mouth making him look like a mad dog.

Susan was up like a shot, pulling at Michael’s shoulders.

“Mike! It’s OK, he’s the man we’re supposed to meet!”

“I don’t give two shits who he is or why he’s here. I don’t like the way he was dancing with you!” Michael emphasized his words by banging the man hard against the wall.

During this, the man made no move to protect or defend himself. He simply hung limply as Michael shoved him around as if he weighed nothing.

“Michael let him down and stop acting like a God damned cave man. He was only trying to blend in!”

Michael glanced at her over his shoulder, and by the look on her face, he knew he’d be sleeping with Ruffus for the rest of his life if he didn’t comply.

With a sneer at the man in his hands, he quickly let go causing him to slide awkwardly down the wall. As he did, the man’s shirt rode up, revealing a large, pink, ropy scar running vertically up his abdomen.

Scully let out a gasp.

Susan pushed Michael aside so that she could stand in front of the man who just stood passively as Susan ran her hand up and down his chest.

»A circular saw came down on golden skin, cutting into the vulnerable flesh***

Susan clutched at the sides of his shirt and pulled at the buttons, causing many to fly across the room or to hang on dangling threads.

»The deep voice of a man’s scream echoed in her mind«

“Oh my God,” Scully breathed.

Susan drew her index finger along the scar that ran down the entire length of his chest from his clavicle to just below his navel.

Everyone watched in horrified silence.

She reached down to his wrists and unbuttoned the cuffs of his shirt. There was another ropy scar encircling his wrists and a diamond shaped scar on his right inner forearm.

Susan looked up into the man’s clear green eyes.

He was studying her intensely.

»Arms pulled at their restraints leaving bloody wounds«

She ran her hands up his chest to his neck then turned his boyish, innocent looking face, causing his unkempt blond hair to fall over her hands.

She pushed his hair out of the way to reveal a quarter sized scar over each of his temples.

»An instrument came down from a blinding white light, burrowing into the tender flesh of his face«

»The deep voice of a man’s scream echoed in her mind«

“Who are you?” Susan’s voice was husky with the strain of her control.

The man continued to look at her for a moment before he spoke. “I am.” He stopped as if trying to collect his thoughts. “My name is Gabe Lamb and I wish to help you.”

The room suddenly grew quiet as Gabe raised his hand to Susan’s face. He held her with reverence. “And you,” he whispered. “Are like me.”

“Like you, how?” Scully asked, coming to stand beside Michael.

Gabe’s eyes did not leave Susan’s. “You’re the one I’ve heard about.” He frowned. “But you are not like me, you are natural.”

Susan’s brow furrowed. “Natural?” she asked confused.

Gabe’s face broke into a sweet smile and he nodded. “Yes, you’re the one, the one They’re trying to replicate.”

Michael stepped forward. He wasn’t sure he liked the way Gabe was looking at Susan. “Who is ‘they’ and what do you mean by replicate?”

Gabe still refused to look away from Susan. “Can’t you feel it?” he asked her.

Susan breathed in deeply. “Yes,” she said, breathing out. “Yes I do.”

Michael was starting to get irritated by this cryptic conversation. “Feel what?” he demanded.

Susan didn’t look away, but answered Michael’s question. “He’s like me.”

Michael’s eyes grew wide with surprise. “What?!”

Gabe shook his head. “No, not like you, exactly,” he said, his voice was soft as down. “I am artificial, you are natural. You are also much stronger.”

“What do you mean artificial?” Scully asked.

For the first time, Gabe’s eyes left Susan’s and settled on Scully, his hand falling away from Susan’s face to his side. Scully felt a coolness wash through her; not an unpleasant experience. Goose bumps formed on her arms.

“I am the first success in the attempts to create an empath.”

“Like me,” the words fell from Susan’s lips.

Gabe returned his eyes to Susan. Michael swore he saw the man’s features soften. “Yes, but something created by man is never as strong as something created by God. They are just now realizing that.”

“What? That They can’t recreate something that’s made by nature or that they’re not God?” Scully asked with disdain.

Gabe didn’t answer.

“They’re trying to make an empath,” Susan stated.

Gabe nodded. “Yes. But they will not be as strong as you.”

“They would make great solders,” said Michael, more to himself than as a contribution to the conversation.

Gabe’s attention focused on Michael as he spoke and he wished he had kept his mouth shout. “For a war to end all wars.”

“Colonization,” Scully whispered.

“The Apocalypse,” Gabe corrected.

“Oh dear God,” Scully murmured.

“Indeed.” Gabe stated.

Susan shook her head. “Wait a second,” she said. “If you’re the only success these men have had, how the hell are you standing here?”

Gabe’s smile returned. “I escaped.”

“How?” Scully asked.

“They were very focused on your partner the day he arrived, I noticed a lax in security in the area I was being held and took advantage of the opportunity.”

“Then you know where he’s being held,” Susan spoke quickly.

Gabe nodded again.

“Where?” Scully pleaded.

Gabe looked at Susan. “Have you ever heard of the Montauk Project?”

Susan gasped. “Camp Hero.”

Gabe nodded.

Michael frowned. “Wait a second,” he said. “I thought that was all just conspiracy theorist mumbo jumbo.”

“The best truths are hidden between outrageous lies,” Gabe responded.

“GOD DAMNIT!” Susan swore. “All this time he’s been right under our noses, not forty miles away from my house!”

She turned around, her head falling in her hands in defeat.

Michael and Scully paid her no mind.

“How do we know we can trust you; what you’re telling us is the truth?” Scully asked.

Gabe pointed his chin toward Susan. “She knows I am not lying.”

Michael and Scully turned to Susan who was still facing away from them.

“Susan?” Michael promoted.

Susan’s shoulders slumped even lower. “He’s telling the truth,” she said. She turned to face them. “He’s not lying.”

Michael continued to look as Susan while Scully turned back to Gabe.

“What are they doing there?” Scully asked.

Gabe’s eyes lingered on Susan and Michael a moment longer before they settled on Scully.

“As I said, they are trying to make an empath. They believe that the close contact she and Agent Mulder have shared, would make it easier for him to be manipulated.”

Scully ran a hand over her face. “Those scars,” she said, her forehead creased in concern. “The ones on your chest and arms, are they from what they did to you?”

He nodded solemnly.

“Are they doing this to Mulder?” she asked, her voice wavering slightly.

Again, he slowly nodded. “I am afraid so.”

Scully closed her eyes slowly.

“Look,” Susan interjected, glancing sideways at Scully. “We need to know everything you know, but not here.” She looked toward Scully again who was trying to control her emotions.

She nodded.

“Let’s get the hell out of here. We need to come up with a plan.”

***

 

July 2

2:03 AM

Manhattan, New York

The Continental Hotel

Suite 1013

Gabe solemnly told his tale of torture and tests. The goal of the Montauk Project was as he had said, to make an empath. And like Michael mentioned, they would make great soldiers.

He didn’t have a clear memory of all the things that had happened to him. Mostly he remembered pain and blinding light. He explained how they would leave him alone in a 6×6 concrete cell with a bed and a toilet for days with no interaction other than the sliding of a tray of food under the door three times a day. But he said he would much rather endure the time alone than the process of transformation.

The first stage of The Project is to break the mind. They used excruciating pain and psychological torture he’d rather not get into, not because he didn’t want to conjure up the memory, but because he didn’t want to cause Scully more pain. This was the method to carry out the break. This stage could last as long as necessary to achieve the initiative. For Gabe, it lasted two excruciating months.

The next stage was to reconstruct the mind in the way They needed to carry out the rest of the transformation.

“I am not the same person I was before I was abducted. I can’t even remember my own name.”

During his narrative, Scully sat away from the others, her face in three quarter profile, her eyes staring blankly out at the New York City traffic below. Even in the middle of the night, it was heavy. It truly was the city that never sleeps. And she was sure that she would never sleep again after hearing the nightmare of Gabe’s experiences.

Michael sat close to Susan on the couch facing Gabe, his arm around her, cupping her shoulder, his other hand was over her tightly clasped hands.

“During the third stage, they kept us in a common room, about twenty of us, each being taken individually to see who was progressing the fastest. I was the only one who entered the next stage.”

“How did you know?” Michael asked.

“When I was brought back to the group, I found out that I was away the longest each time. Then one of Them came in and announced that I was the lucky chosen one to go on to the next level.”

“They actually announced it?” Susan asked.

Gabe nodded. “They were quite pleased,” he explained.

“There was also some warped competition to be the one to move on. We desperately wanted to please our captors. I think we were hoping that it would cause them to be gentler with us.”

“Did it work?” asked Scully.

Gabe shook his head. “We were like abused puppies, always eagerly coming back for more.”

He couldn’t recall the events of the next and last stage, but did remember the day he heard that They were expecting a new shipment of ‘goods’; that’s what They called new test subjects. They spoke freely around him, sometimes forgetting that he was even in the room; They only saw him as an object.

They were especially excited about this next shipment and about one in particular. Apparently one had spent a large amount of time with a natural empath they had been told about. He also seemed to have had some exposure to an artifact that might add in the transformation. They were hoping that he would progress faster than Gabe and were going to start as soon as the shipment arrived.

“I had a glimpse of him when they first brought him to the facility. He was badly beaten, but fighting the men who escorted him. I never saw him after that.”

“When was this?” Scully asked, startling them all.

Gabe stared forward for a moment before responding. “I’m not sure of the time, but I would say it was about a month ago.” He shrugged. “Since I’ve been out, I had a hard time determining the passage of time.”

Scully nodded, her fingers cupping her jaw, as if she was lost in thought. For some reason, knowing he fought his captures eased her anxieties a bit. Knowing he didn’t go willingly did wonders to her piece of mind.

“When I escaped, I ran to the first place I could think of, The City. I knew it was the best place to hide.”

“How did you hear about us?” Susan asked.

“When I got to The City, I asked around, trying to find groups; support. I discovered a Mutual UFO Network in Queens, and joined. It was through them that I heard of Agent Mulder’s abduction. I knew immediately that was the man I had seen.”

“How?” Scully asked.

“I just knew.”

***

 

11:32 AM

The residence of Susan Halloway and Michael O’Sullivan

Mattituck, NY

Michael pulled up the driveway, the black sedan bumping here and there along the uneven ground. They had not yet discussed their plan of action, each silently agreeing to wait until they were back in Mattituck to talk about it out loud.

Any plans devised individually were forgotten when they saw a man leaning against the garage.

Scully was out of the car before it could come to a halt, her gun drawn. Susan was not far behind her.

“Krycek you son of a bitch,” Scully swore as she approached him.

He was leaning casually against the converted carriage stall. Even though it was July and the temperature was already in the eighties, he was dressed in dark jeans and a leather jacket, gloves hiding any chance for fingerprints.

“Nice to see you, too, Scully,” he said smiling.

“What the hell do you want?” she asked.

Michael and Gabe appeared behind the two women.

“Well, if it isn’t the infamous Krycek,” Susan said sarcastically. “To whom do I owe the honor.”

Krycek gave her a half bow. “It is a pleasure to finally meet you, Susan Halloway. You are quite the woman.”

Susan cocked an eyebrow at him, her arms crossed over her chest.

“I would offer to shake your hand, but I’d rather not, I’m sure you understand.”

“Mmmm,” Susan responded, her head tilted to the side. “You should know, that I don’t need to touch anymore to gain information.”

Krycek blanched, but didn’t show any other signs of response.

Susan almost smiled.

“I’ll ask you again, Krycek, what do you want?” Scully said, her gun level with his head.

“I understand you have more than one reason to find Mulder,” he said, his good arm indicating the slight roundness of her stomach. “I hear congratulations are in order.”

“You didn’t answer my question.”

Krycek smiled. “You plan on staging a prison break,” he said. “How do you think you’re getting inside?”

None of them answered.

“Humph,” he huffed. “You’re going to need this.” He reached inside his jacket and suddenly had four guns pointed at him instead of one.

He chuckled, pulling out what looked like a credit card. “A key card,” he said.

Susan re-holstered her gun and took a step toward him, her hand extended.

Krycek shook his head. “Uh, uh, no deal,” he said, holding it out toward Scully who quickly snatched it from him.

Susan took another step closer to him, finding a pistol pointed at her stomach.

“Take another step closer and I’ll kill you,” he growled.

Susan smiled. “What’s the matter, Alex, don’t you like girls?”

“None like you, bitch,” he shot back, shifting his weight.

Michael put his hand on Susan’s shoulder, silently halting her response. “Why are you here, Krycek?” he asked.

Krycek put his gun away about as fast as he pulled it. “To give you that, puppy,” he pointed to the card Scully was examining. “You can’t get into the facility without it.”

“Puppy?” Michael asked, moving closer to the man. Michael was about half a foot taller and out weighed him by at least seventy pounds. “What the hell is that supposed to mean?”

Krycek grinned smugly. “Isn’t that what you do? Follow your bitch around like a puppy, hoping for a quick sniff of her ass?”

Michael would have ripped his head off, but Scully stepped between them. “Why give this to us?” She held up the key card.

Michael seethed behind her until Susan put her hand on his arm, effectively calming him down.

Krycek glanced from Michael to Scully. “Because you need it to get Mulder.”

“From where?” she asked.

“Oh, don’t give me that,” he said with exasperation. “I know you know where he is, that’s the only reason you’re all back here.”

“Why should we trust you? How do we know this isn’t just some elaborate trap?”

“You don’t.” He shrugged, moving past her.

“Why are you helping us?” Scully asked.

“To fight the future,” he said over his shoulder, making his way toward the gravel driveway.

“Hey Alex!” Susan called after him.

He turned to her.

“Do svidanya, moi dorogoi,” she said smiling.

Krycek’s stance wavered causing him to stumble at the words his mother used to say to him every day before he left for school. After a moment, he righted himself and gave Susan a bow. “Do svidanya.” He started up the drive again, his stride more sure.

“What was that about?” Michael asked.

Susan shook her head. “Just reminding a lost man of a better time.” She started towards the house but stopped when she realized they weren’t following her. “Come on.” She gestured with her head. “I’ve got a plan.”

 Part 16, Act II

Mattituck Marina

July 3

10:12 AM

Susan maneuvered her red, Cobra convertible into the closest spot to the boardwalk.

Scully sighed contentedly as she hopped out of the car. She would ride in or drive that car all day if she could. Not only that, but there was a gentle breeze blowing off The Sound that reminded Scully of more innocent times with her father out on the open sea on a borrowed sailboat.

“Mmm, nice, isn’t it?” Susan asked coming up beside her. Her long dark hair flew about her face as an especially strong breeze blew around them. The long, ankle length floral tank dress she wore whipped around her legs.

Scully nodded, her face showing her delight.

Susan gave her a small smile. “It must be nice to have fond memories of your father like that,” Susan said moving away toward the boat house.

Scully frowned and walked quickly to catch up with her. “Hey,” she said as she came up beside her. “How did you know I was thinking about my father?”

Susan shrugged. “You get a specific feeling when you think about him. The same happens when you think about Mulder.” She stopped to give her a mischievous smile. “Of course, the feelings are entirely different.”

Scully wasn’t sure if she should blush or not. She nervously smoothed her hands down the khaki shorts she wore.

Susan snorted.

“Hey, Mrs. O., haven’t seen you around here lately.”

The women’s attention was drawn to a towheaded boy walking toward them.

“Hey Thomas, how ya doin’?” Susan said smiling at the boy.

He flashed her an uneven grin that was missing the two front teeth. “Great!” he exclaimed. “Me and my dad met Steven Speilberg today!”

“Really?! That’s cool! Did ya get his autograph?”

“Yeah,” the boy said nodding enthusiastically. “We added it to the wall with the rest of ‘em.”

Susan smiled. “That makes how many, now?”

“Twenty-seven!”

“Wow!” Susan said. “I’ll have to remember to take a look at ‘em next time.”

The boy’s face fell. “You can’t look now?” he asked.

Susan gave him a sorrowful shake of her head. “Sorry, not today.”

The boy nodded reluctantly, then brightened. “Are you takin’ the boat out today?”

Susan shook her head again. “No, not today, just showin’ it off.”

He gave her a knowing smile. “With Mr. O.?”

“No, he’s not here today, I’m showing it to my friend, Dana,” she said indicating Scully.

She smiled as the boy stuck his hand out towards her.

“Nice to meet you ma’am,” he said formally.

Scully glanced at Susan out of the corner of her eye then took the boy’s small hand. “Nice to meet you, Thomas. You can call me Dana.”

“My dad said it’s disrespectful to call a grown-up by their first name.”

Scully smiled. “OK,” she said. “Then you can call me Ms. Scully.”

The boy grinned. “Ms. Scully, like the radio announcer?!”

Scully nodded, still smiling. “Yeah, like the radio announcer.”

“THOMAS!” A man called.

“Oh, that’s my dad. I gotta go.”

“Then you better get goin’” Susan said.

“OK. Bye Ms. Scully, Mrs. O.,” he said before he ran off.

“Mrs. O.?” Scully asked.

Susan shrugged. “I never had the heart to correct him. Besides, it has a nice ring to it.”

Scully shook her head as she followed Susan down the pier. “So, which one is yours?” she asked glancing at the boats they passed.

Susan pointed toward the end of the dock. “The white one on the end.”

Scully frowned. “Which one?”

“That one.” Susan pointed again.

Scully stopped, her frown morphing into a look of shock. “Susan, that’s not a boat.”

Susan stopped to look at her. “What do you mean it’s not a boat?” She turned to look at it. “It floats on water. what would you call it?”

“A yacht.”

Susan looked from the boat to Scully then back again. Before them was a 58 foot white yacht with an enclosed bridge. On the port side of the stern was the word ‘Viking’ in ornate script indicating the builder of the boat. Along the port and starboard of the bow were the words ‘Anam Cara’, also in script, but much larger and much more noticeable.

“Anam Cara?” Scully said, sounding lost in thought.

Susan opened her mouth, but Scully continued.

“Soulmate,” Scully said. She turned to face Susan. “That’s Gaelic, isn’t it?”

Susan smiled. “Yeah, it is. Michael came up with it, he said it was the perfect name for our boat.”

Scully nodded. “When did you get this?”

Susan shrugged. “When Mike and I found out about the money my parents left me, we went a little nuts. I guess the fact that both of us grew up not having money and having to struggle to pay for college had a lot to do with it. Mike got his Suburban fully loaded, we bought a Lincoln, I found my Cobra in a junkyard and got it completely restored, we already had the house under construction, so we went a little overboard, pardon the pun,” she said with a smirk and a shrug. “And bought a boat, too. If I was buying one now, I doubt I would have gotten one as, ah, as. extravagant.”

Scully looked at her. “Um, Susan, if you don’t mind me asking, how much money are we talking about here?”

Susan leaned against one of the pylons next to the boat, looking down a her sandled feet. She crossed her arms over her chest and looked up at Scully. “If we wished, Michael and I could quit the bureau tomorrow, travel the world and never have to worry about money again.”

Scully watched her curiously. It seemed that Susan was little uncomfortable talking about this subject.

Susan played with a pebble with her right foot, looking down again. “My parents made a lot of the right kind of investments, and when they died, they left a man named Charles Spencer in charge of their investments. Apparently, my parents trusted him implicitly because he had complete control over where the money was to be invested until I was old enough to handle it.” She took a deep breath. “I, Michael and I,” she corrected. “Own a little part of IBM, Gateway, Dell, Compaq, Intel, Coca Cola, Microsoft, McDonald’s, Nike, Ford, GM, Chrysler, and various other well known and not so well known companies. We also own quite a bit of real-estate that I couldn’t name without looking up. Since I’ve taken over, I’ve split up the actual money into at least four? Yeah, four different bank accounts and two overseas including one in Switzerland. And because a little bit of Mulder’s paranoia rubbed off on me, Michael and I also have two separate accounts under two different names.” She finally looked up at Scully’s wide eyed and slack jawed face.

Susan looked down again. “But we make sure to donate every Christmas and Easter, anonymously. We don’t want to attract attention,” she added quickly.

“Susan.” Scully trailed off.

She looked up.

Scully was staring at the boat. “Wow, I mean.” Her eyes met Susan’s. “Wow.”

Susan shrugged, looking uncomfortable again.

Scully’s eyes narrowed. “You don’t like to talk about this kind of stuff, do you?”

“No, not really.”

“Fine. Then, why don’t you show me around your floating mansion.”

Susan grinned, hiked her dress up to her knees and hopped over the side of the boat, then put a hand out to help Scully over.

“You can either use the ladder to go up to the bridge or you can use the stairs inside,” Susan explained. “The stairs are better, though.”

As Susan fished for her keys, Scully took in her surroundings. The entire boat was pristine white, except for the black tinted windows along the sides and around the bridge. It was immaculately clean, as if someone had scrubbed it down recently.

Susan pushed the door open, motioning Scully to go ahead of her.

Scully was flabbergasted. It really was a floating mansion. She was standing in an exquisite 224 square foot salon. To her right was a U-shaped cocktail table made of cherry wood. The seats were upholstered with soft leather. To her left were cabinets containing a small television with a VCR, stereo system and books. She moved further inside and saw a fully equipped galley with a range, oven, dishwasher, full size refrigerator and microwave oven. Across from that was another U-shaped table with more leather seats around it. Between the cabinets and dinette was a spiral staircase that lead up to the bridge.

“There are supposed to be three staterooms, but we had the starboard guest stateroom turned into a cargo hold,” Susan said leading Scully through the salon and galley down three steps into a hallway. “There’s a forward stateroom and a port master suite. Each has it’s own head and shower. Each room also has a queen size bed.”

Scully nodded, not really hearing what Susan had said. She was completely taken aback. She never figured the inside of the boat would be as luxurious as it was. It was incredible how big it was.

Susan opened two accordion doors that should have lead into the starboard stateroom to reveal locked cabinets, shelves stocked with canned goods and bottled water and a washer and dryer. Again, Susan searched her keys and unlocked the cabinets. Inside were two .222-.223 Sharps Long Barreled Sniper Rifles with 10x night vision scopes, two 12 gauge double barrel Browning Shotguns that shot slugs and two .223 Rem. Colt Match Tare Lightweight semiautomatic rifles.

Scully turned to face Susan. “Holy shit, Susan, you can take out a small nation with these,” she said.

Susan shrugged. “That’s the point. Like I said, Mulder’s paranoia has rubbed off on me,” she said. “Wait until you see what we have at the cabin. It’s designed for this colonization he talks about. Besides, when you’re out on the high seas, a boat like this is vulnerable to pirates, and I won’t give her up without one hell of a fight.”

Scully nodded. “I guess that makes sense and I am more than grateful you have all of this.” She suddenly got teary. “I don’t know what I would do without you.”

Susan gave her a sad smile. “Let’s go check out the bridge.”

They traveled up the spiral staircase to the enclosed bridge. It was relatively dark until Susan flipped a switch turning everything an eerie red.

“The red light makes it easier to read the instruments,” Susan said. The bridge was rather large with another U-Shaped table and leather seats port side and a bar and small refrigerator starboard. There was also a small sink.

Susan sat down in what looked like a leather version of Captain Janeway’s chair on Voyager. On either side of the captain’s chair were two bench seats, but all the instruments were situated so the person in the captain’s chair didn’t have to move that much to navigate.

She pushed a key into the ignition and started the Anam Cara.

Scully heard only a purr and felt a slight vibration under her feet.

“OK,” Susan said flipping switches. “We’ve got radar, check,” she said. “Navigation, check.” She continued to run through the ship’s systems making sure everything was up and running. “I’ll talk to Thomas’ father about running a seaworthy test and to fill up her tanks. That should do it,” she said spinning the chair around to look at Scully.

She nodded. “I would say that we are done here, then.”

“Yeah,” Susan said nodding along with her.

“How far do your radar systems go?”

“Mine or the boat’s?” Susan asked smiling.

Scully joined her. “Both.”

Susan sighed. “Well, mine can go up to a mile and a half radius, the boat can do twenty, so I think she wins.”

***

 

CVS

Route 25A Riverhead

Michael tossed a large box of gauze into the already loaded red shopping cart then glanced down at the list in his hand.

“I think we got all of it,” he said.

“We still have to get the prescriptions Dana wrote out,” Gabe stated.

“Yeah, we have what? Three here, three at Genovese and four at Walgreens, right?”

Gabe nodded.

Michael shook his head. “I don’t know why Dana thinks we will need all this crap,” he said.

Scully had given them a three page list with medical supplies and a handful of prescriptions. She claimed it was all just in case something happened while they were in hiding, but secretly, she feared the condition in which they would find Mulder. Given the scars on Gabe and the story he told, Scully was preparing for the worst. Susan had also compiled a list of food and other supplies she thought they might need, along with instructions to pick up new fishing poles, bait and various other paraphernalia they would need for their adventure.

It was Michael who pointed out the need for a few hundred boxes of ammunition, just in case, he added with a sarcastic smile.

During Gabe and Michael’s shopping trip, Susan and Scully were to check out the boat, and then act as if nothing was wrong. They had planned a trip out to Montauk point, Susan acting as tour guide, while scoping out the land around Camp Hero. They were to stop for lunch along the way, enjoy the beautiful weather, while starting their first plan of action.

They had agreed that they weren’t going to go in that night, despite Scully’s objections. Seeing that the Fourth of July was the next day, they would use the cover of the hundreds of boats in the Sound to make a relatively unnoticed escape. Michael and Susan knew that even though their boat was rather large and would attract attention, it was fast and wouldn’t stick out that much compared to some of the other boats that would be out and about Long Island; especially on the Fourth of July. That was when people went out to show off their wealth and prosperity and there was enough money on Long Island on the eastern end alone to feed a large third world nation for many years.

“They just want to make sure we’re prepared for the worst,” Gabe said as he and Michael made their way to the check out.

“Yeah, but let’s hope we don’t need to be,” Michael said, feeling grim.

Gabe gave him a look of pity and something else that made him feel that grim wasn’t strong enough of a description.

***

 

The Rip Tide

Along the Shinnecock Cannel

The breeze coming off the cannel was gentle and cool.

Scully sighed.

“What is it?” Susan asked, sipping her water.

Scully sighed again. “Why don’t you tell me?”

Susan leaned back in her chair, squinting at the woman across the table from behind her Raybans. “You’re wishing we were here under better circumstances.”

Scully gave her a smile that did not reach her eyes. “What else?”

“You feel torn between admiring our beautiful surroundings and your anxiety and fear concerning Mulder. If you feel any bit of happiness, you feel guilty because Mulder may be suffering right now.”

Scully raised her eyebrows at her. “You would make a great psychologist.”

Susan snorted. “More like a fortune teller,” she said. Putting on a bad Romanian accent, she reached across the table and picked up Scully’s hand. “You arrre a wery independent woooman, but carrrre deeply forr a toll, darrkk an hansome man upon whom you rrrely. You haave foond trrue love oo wheel feature prominently en a life allturing eveent takin place en your near futurrr, but it wheel bee a plaasant vone, doo not bee aalarmed.”

Scully chuckled and pulled her hand back.

***

 

Montauk Point

3:30 PM

July 3

Susan and Scully huffed and puffed as they reach the top of the 176 steps of the Montauk Lighthouse. Sweat ran down their faces.

“God,” Scully groaned. “And here I thought I was in shape.”

Susan chuckled and wiped her forehead with the back of her arm. “Tell me about it,” she groaned.

Finally after what seemed a lifetime, they reached the top. Susan picked up the binoculars that were hanging around her neck and moved to the right side of the lighthouse.

“See there?” Susan pointed. “That’s the radar tower.”

Above the tree line in the distance one could easily see the large array sitting atop the tower on the grounds of Camp Hero.

“God, it’s huge,” Scully whispered as if she was afraid someone would overhear her.

“Yeah, it is.” Susan raised her binoculars. “Wait until you see it up close, then it’ll really look huge.”

Scully turned away from the window to look at Susan. “You’ve been there, right?”

Susan nodded and lowered the binoculars. “Yeah, last summer. If Gabe’s interpretation of the time he’d been imprisoned is correct, he’d been there when I was there.”

Scully frowned. “And you didn’t sense anything?”

Susan shook her head. “Nothing.”

Scully’s frown deepened and she turned back to study the large array. The feelings of anxiety that have been plaguing her all day were stirring up again. She suddenly felt a need to rush.

“We’ve got to get in there,” Scully said, her voice strained.

Susan nodded. “I know, I feel it, too. But if we go in tonight, we’ll be unprepared and it might be our downfall. We need to be patient.”

“Patience is a virtue.”

Susan smiled. “Yeah, but neither of us has ever been very virtuous.”

Scully snorted.

“Come on. We’ll drive past the road that takes you to the entrance of Camp Hero, then we’ll head on home. I’m sure Michael already has dinner started and he’ll be mad if we’re late.”

***

 

Montauk Highway

Enroute

4:13 PM

July 3

The Cobra easily rounded a bend as Scully and Susan headed toward home. The ocean was on their left, hills on their right.

“It certainly is beautiful around here!,” Scully shouted over the wind streaming around them.

“Yeah, it is. Some of the houses around here reach past the million dollar mark! And some of them are just summer homes!”

Scully shook her head. “I can’t imagine spending that much money on something you only use for a few months!”

Susan nodded. “Neither can I!” She glanced in the dash board mounted rear view mirror quickly as a black sedan came up behind them, then quickly back to the road as another hairpin turn formed ahead of them. When she glanced back, the car was gone.

Susan sighed deeply.

“What!?” Scully asked.

Susan shook her head. “Nothing!” She had to slow down as they approached a dark blue Grand Marquis ahead of them. Susan looked up as she past a road named ‘Windham Shore Road’. She shook herself as a feeling of forbodence creep up on her.

Scully must have felt it radiating off her because she turned in her seat to look at her. “Susan, what is it!?”

“I don’t know!” she said, looking into the rear view mirror again just as the black sedan showed up behind them.

“Oh, shit,” she moaned.

Scully caught the direction Susan was looking and turned to look, too. The black sedan sped up just as the Grand Marquis in front of them slammed on the brake.

Susan swerved into the oncoming lane just in time to avoid hitting the car in front. She swerved quickly back as a car coming in the opposite direction rounded a curve.

As soon as she was back in her lane, the black sedan sped up again and bumped her from behind. She had to struggle to hold the car steady as the Cobra was forced into the car in front of them.

“WHO THE HELL ARE THESE GUYS?” Scully shouted.

“I DON’T KNOW, BUT THEY DON’T SEEM VERY FRIENDLY, DO THEY?”

Scully gave her a death stare.

Susan glanced at her, then back to the car in front of them as they slammed on the brakes. Again, Susan swerved into the oncoming lane, narrowly missing the sedan behind them.

“Dana, I need you to calm down and trust me, all right!?”

Scully gave her a look that asked if she was insane.

“Please, just try to relax, maybe close your eyes!”

Scully’s eyes widened.

Susan moved back into the correct lane, holding the car steady as the sedan bumped them again.

She blinked slowly, forcing her body to remain calm and follow her mind’s eye.

She pressed down on the excelerator and down shifted, causing the car to jump and ram into the car ahead of them.

The sickening sound of twisted metal rang in her ears.

The Grand Marquis swerved into the other lane, hitting the guard rail that prevented them from falling over the embankment into the Atlantic Ocean. It stopped only after it slammed head-on into a tree.

Susan took that as her advantage and shifted again, the Cobra heading toward 100 mph on the curvy road.

Awareness washed through her as she opened her mind toward the road and the surrounding areas, hoping her reflexes could keep up with her gift. As her awareness grew, she suddenly felt an overwhelming danger and glanced in the rear view mirror just in time to see a man emerge from the sun roof of the black sedan behind them, an automatic rifle in his hands.

“FUCK!” Susan swore, reaching a hand out, she grabbed Scully’s arm and pulled her down.

Scully resisted momentarily, but Susan was too strong for her and she was pulled down roughly, her forehead clipping the dashboard on the way.

She let out a painful squawk as she landed on the stick shift, the fleshy part of her left ear burned from the impact.

Susan steered one handed, pressed further down on the gas peddle then dropped down beside Scully, saying a small prayer that her awareness of the road wasn’t limited to her sight only.

Loud popping noises were followed by bullets riddling the back of the red convertible. Susan’s hair flew up around the air as a bullet passed through, grazed her left index finger before exploding into the windshield.

Glass blew around them. Susan momentarily lost control of the car as the pain ran up her arm into her shoulder. But, she couldn’t allow herself to fully feel the pain in her hand. She had to maintain her focus on the road or they surely would be killed. She drifted sharply into the other lane, hitting the guard rail. Metal grinding against metal forced Susan to jerk the car roughly back into the right lane.

She sat up, chanced a quick look behind her and saw the man with the gun level it again in their direction.

“HOLD ON!!!” Susan screamed, pressing the gas pedal to the floor, the Cobra’s tires chirping as it flew past the 130 mph mark on the winding, twisting highway.

***

 

Mattituck

The residence of Michael O’Sullivan and Susan Halloway

5:01 PM

July 3

Michael pulled the roast out of the oven, smiling to himself. It had come out perfect. Susan would love it.

Gabe watched him from the breakfast nook, confused about Michael’s mood. He seemed very happy that he may have pleased Susan. He remembered the lessons he had learned during his time at Camp Hero. They had told him traditionally, the woman cooked for the man, but here, the man was cooking for the woman.

Suddenly, the pan fell from Michael’s hands, the juices from the roast splashing as it landed on the tiled floor, but thankfully, the roast stayed in the pan.

Gabe watched him dash from the room and quickly followed him.

Michael ran down the front porch as Susan drove the Cobra up the drive. He flinched when he caught sight of it. The entire front end was crumbled as was the whole left side, and the windshield was gone.

Susan pulled the car up next to the garage and Michael saw that the trunk was full of bullet holes.

“MY GOD! SUSAN WHAT HAPPENED? ARE YOU ALL RIGHT??!!”

Susan sat slumped in the front seat, breathing heavily, her eyes closed. Scully was doing the same thing.

“Susan,” he said coming up beside her gripping the door, fearing the worst. He wasn’t picking up any major pain from her, but he could feel her adrenaline pumping throughout her system.

Scully opened her eyes and looked over at Susan, rubbing a bruise on her forehead.

Susan let out a groan and moved to open the door. Michael backed out of the way to allow her to exit the car.

She opened the door with difficulty. It groaned as loudly as she did.

She slammed the door shut. “GODDAMMED SON OF A BITCH!!” she yelled. “LOOK WHAT THEY DID TO MY FUCKIN’ CAR!!!

Michael blinked, that was not what he expected her to say.

“THEY RUINED MY CAR!!!” She walked around the back of the car and fell to her knees, her head in her hands. “They destroyed my car,” she wept into her hands.

Scully got out of the car and came up alongside Michael. They watched her stunned as she looked up at the once beautiful, fully restored, 1967 Shelby Cobra, her hands clenched at her sides, tears streaming down her face. “Oh my God,” she moaned. “My car.” She let her face fall again into her hands and sobbed.

Scully and Michael shared a frown.

“What happened?” Michael whispered.

Scully shook her head. “Someone tried to run us off the road, then tried to shoot us.”

“Oh, my God,” Michael sighed.

Susan hitched in a breath and let out another groan about her car.

Michael dropped down onto his knees next to her. “Susie, it’s OK, honey,” he cooed as he soothed a hand down her back. “It’s OK love, I’m just so glad you’re OK.”

Susan looked up from her hands, her face awash in angst, her eyes red and swollen. “They killed my car.”

Michael’s face crumbled. She looked so pitiful. “I know Susie, I know how much you love your car, but it’s just a car.”

Her face changed into horror. “Just a car?!” she yelled hoarsely. “It’s my baby!”

Michael didn’t know what to do, she was grieving like she lost a member of her family. “I know, honey. I know,” he whispered as he drew her to him. She wrapped her arms around him, her face buried in his chest, sobbing again.

“I know, I know,” Michael said, kissing the top of her head. “But remember how it looked when you first bought it? It looked like something from a junkyard. We fixed it up once, we can do it again,” he murmured into her hair. “We’ll go right in and call Jimmy to pick it up, we’ll get it fixed in no time, OK?”

She nodded against his chest.

“Hey, remember that car Earl told us about a few months ago? The Corvette Stingray? You loved it, not as much as the Cobra, but we’ll see if he still has it, OK?”

She nodded again.

“Now, come on love, lets go inside and get you cleaned up.”

He helped her to her feet and lifted her chin so he could meet her eyes. “I know you don’t want to hear it right now, but I’m just really happy you’re all right.”

Susan gave him such a sad smile he almost wept.

Then, her eyes grew wide and she broke from Michael’s hold and took off inside.

Michael ran after her as she headed for her office. Gabe and Scully came up behind him when he stopped just inside.

“Susie, what is it?” He asked as she pulled out drawers from her desk, tossing papers about. “What are you looking for?”

Susan stopped when she took out a large manila folder. Michael recognized it right away, it was the police report of her parents’ accident.

“Susie?”

“Sonofabitch,” she growled. She laid the folder out on the desk so he could take a look at it. She pointed to a section and he had to squint to see it correctly.

“Accident took place at the intersection of ‘Windham Shore Road’ and ‘Montauk Highway’.

 Part 17

***

 

10:56 PM

July 3

Susan fiddled with the Band-Aid around her left index finger as she sat on the bed waiting for Michael to emerge from the bathroom. It burned more than it hurt. She smirked. After all that, she only got a minor cut on her finger. She thanked her lucky stars nothing worse had happened.

Then again, her car was a disaster. She didn’t even want to think about what Jimmy said concerning the repairs.

She groaned and flopped back on the pillows.

“Don’t worry, Susie, the car is going to be just fine,” Michael said sarcastically as he turned off the bathroom light.

After she finally calmed down, she felt like a fool. She couldn’t believe she got so worked up. Then again, that car was a classic. But, Jesus, they could have been killed! And she’d nearly given Scully a black eye by pulling her down so roughly.

She apologized to everyone profusely about her outburst. Scully smiled and said she understood. Michael just teased her.

“Go to hell, Mike,” Susan said.

He chuckled. “Well, let’s get some sleep, tomorrow is going to be a busy day.”

Susan sat up. “Nah, I’m really not that tired, I think I’ll go down and straighten up my office. I also have a few profiles I should be working on.”

Michael shook his head. “Stay.”

She looked up.

“Stay, you’re exhausted and you know it. Besides, this might be our last night here for awhile, I’d like to enjoy it.”

She sighed. “Mike, you know nothing is going to happen tonight.”

Michael pulled his shirt over his head, leaving him only in boxers. “I know, you’ve got the curse right now. I just want, I just want you to stay.”

“Why do you want this so much?”

He was starting to get angry. Jesus, did he have to spell it out for her? “I want your company, it helps me fall asleep better, all right? Can’t you just stay until I fall asleep?”

Susan eyed him suspiciously then acquiesced. “Fine, but like I said, you’re not getting any tonight.”

He shook his head as he watched her maneuver her body under the covers. “That’s not how you normally go to bed.”

Susan frowned and looked down at her attire. She was wearing a tank top and a pair of his boxer shorts.

“You’re usually naked.”

Susan snorted. “I’ll take off the top and boxers, but the underpants have to stay on.”

Michael mock pouted. “If they must.”

“Yeah, they must.”

Susan pulled the tank top off and shimmied out of the shorts. She tossed them over to the laundry basket missing by a long shot.

Michael snickered.

Susan gave him the evil eye.

“I think it’s funny that you can’t seem to hit anything inanimate, but if you have to shoot a person, you’re a perfect shot.”

Susan shrugged. “It’s probably because I don’t sense it.”

Michael looked doubtful.

“You should have seen me in the Academy in Hogan’s Alley. When the cardboard bad guys would swing out, I would miss them most of the time. But when we went around with the paint ball guns, I always nailed the guy. My instructors thought it was the strangest thing.”

It was very frustrating when we were doing the mock bank robbery investigation, because the rest of the group didn’t listen to me when I told them where the robbers were because the evidence didn’t point toward it. I had to bite my tongue on many occasions back them. The observers always asked me afterwards how I knew they were hiding in a certain spot and had to come up with something quick. Needless to say, even though it took the group four days to find the bank robbers, I passed with flying colors.”

Michael just smiled and shook his head, watching her get herself comfortable.

When she finally situated herself under the covers, Michael rolled over to turn off the bedside lap, plunging them into darkness, moonlight from the almost full moon streaming in from the windows. He scooted over, pressing his body up against her side. He slipped a hand over her abdomen, gripped her waist and hurled her onto her side facing him.

She yelped, but it died in her throat as he kissed her neck.

“Miiikkkee,” she wined. “Don’t start something you can’t finish.”

He grumbled against her skin then moved up to capture her lips with his.

They kissed slow languid kisses, just feeling each other, knowing that it wasn’t going to lead anywhere. Her hands were in his hair, massaging his scalp while his hands slid up and down her sides.

Michael released Susan breathlessly and moved onto his back, while she rested her head on his chest.

“Now I know why you wanted me to stay, you wanted to make out.”

Susan felt his laughter rumble in his chest. “Yeah, that was it.”

She smiled in the darkness.

They were quiet for a few moments until Michael broke the silence.

“What are you thinking? I can tell you’re feeling a little anxious.”

She sighed. “I was just thinking about our preparations for tomorrow night.”

Michael couldn’t resist and put on a bad English accent. “Why, Susie, what are we going to do tomorrow night?”

Susan raised her head to give him an amused look, but didn’t answer him.

He grinned. “Are you pondering what I’m pondering?”

She raised an eyebrow. “I think so Mike, but like I said, you’re not getting any tonight.”

He snorted and looked up at the ceiling, sobering. “Don’t worry about tomorrow night. Everything is going to work out fine.”

Susan sighed and let her head drop back onto his chest. She kissed him between his pecks. “For some reason I don’t believe you.”

Michael ran his hand up and down her back soothingly. “Don’t think anymore Susie, just relax and get some sleep.”

Susan’s eyes remained open long after she felt Michael’s breathing even out.

***

 

3:12 AM

July 4

Susan woke suddenly, not sure what roused her. Michael slept peacefully beneath her with one of his arms wrapped around her shoulders. The other was tossed over his head which was tilted away from the light streaming in from the windows.

Susan frowned, listening not only with her ears but with her mind. Then she felt it, a presence in the hallway moving away from their door toward the stairs. She carefully extracted herself from Michael and pulled on the clothes she had discarded earlier.

She followed the presence down the stairs toward the back of the house then onto the patio.

Gabe turned when he heard the sliding glass door in the dining room open.

“Sorry I woke you,” he said.

Susan shrugged. “Why are you up?” she asked as she stepped out into the moonlight.

He looked away quickly; he could see the effect of the coolness of the night on her breasts.

Susan looked down then crossed her arms over her chest to alleviate his discomfort. She knew she should have put on something a bit less revealing when she felt him in the hallway.

“I don’t sleep.” His voice was soft in the darkness.

They could hear the waves lapping against the shore in the distance.

Susan came up beside him. “Why?” She spoke just as quietly.

He glanced at her. “I don’t seem to need to.”

Susan nodded. “It comes with the gift. You’ll find that you sleep much less than everyone else.”

He nodded, lost in thought then turned to her, his hand extended. “Walk with me, Susan.”

She tilted her head as she studied him, questioning his motives, but he didn’t seem to have anything other than wanting her company on his mind. She couldn’t figure out why, but he reminded her of a child. She guessed it was a result of what They did to him, stripping him of all that he once was. He had an innocence about him that was quite different than anything she ever felt before. If she allowed herself, she could be lost in it.

“Please,” he whispered.

Susan put her hand in his, not able to resist him. It was as if he was enchanting her, but it wasn’t as malicious as that. She couldn’t explain it, but she felt drawn to him in a way that was foreign to her. It wasn’t a sexual attraction, but almost like a kinship.

As her hand made contact with his, a sense of calmness and peace washed through her. It was as if she was walking on the softest down as she allowed him to lead her barefoot toward the cliffs overlooking The Sound.

They walked in silence, still hand in hand, until they could not only hear The Sound, but see it as well. The almost full moon reflected off the waves causing it to look alive as it danced before their eyes.

“Magnificent,” Gabe said in awe, spreading his arms out away from him. It was as if he had never seen the sea before. He turned to her, the awe dancing in his eyes.

Susan smiled. “I can never get used to it.”

Gabe returned her smile. “Why would you ever want to?”

She couldn’t answer. “Gabe?” she asked, not sure what she wanted to say.

He looked at her, his face open to all of the questions she could ever ask. “Yes?”

She opened and closed her mouth, the words refusing to come out. She shook her head as if to clear it then said his name again. “Gabe.” She frowned. “Gabe, that’s not your full name.”

He shook his head. “No.”

“What does it stand for?”

He took a deep breath and turned back to the water. “Gabriel.”

Susan nodded as if she already knew this. “Gabriel.”

He glanced at her over his shoulder.

“Isn’t Gabriel an Archangel?”

He nodded, his eyes returning to the water.

“He comes to announce the Apocalypse.”

“Not always, sometimes he comes to stop it.”

She frowned. “But Gabriel is not a warrior, he is just an announcer, why send him to stop the Apocalypse?”

“He is not just an announcer, he is a messenger, all angels are messengers.”

“But why not send Michael? Isn’t he God’s warrior? He’s the one who fought Lucifer.”

Gabe smiled, moving to face her. “You already have Michael.”

Susan didn’t know how she should respond to this, so she choice humor. “Michael is no angel.”

Gabe laughed. “No, he’s not, but he has protected you before, has he not?”

Susan wasn’t sure when this conversation became about her. She wasn’t sure she wanted to know. “Yes he has, we’ve protected each other.”

He nodded. “This is true.”

Susan sighed and turned to face the house. The moonlight reflected off the windows making it look as if all the lights were on. She closed her eyes briefly then tilted her head toward the stars. Millions upon millions of tiny little lights glittered in the night sky. She watched as one of the lights moved slowly across the sky.

“You’re worried about him; Mulder.”

Susan looked at him. “I don’t have a good feeling about tomorrow night.”

“Why?” he asked simply.

She shook her head. “I can’t place it, but. I don’t know,” she trailed off, looking away.

Gabe placed his hand on her shoulder.

She didn’t respond to his gesture. “I wouldn’t worry,” he said softly. “All things happen for a reason.”

She turned sharply towards him, the words sounding familiar to her ears. “What is that supposed to mean?”

Gabe’s face remained passive. “Whatever you expect it to mean.”

Susan looked toward the house again. Gabe followed her eyes to see Michael standing at the edge of the patio, rubbing his eyes like a tired little boy. Susan smiled when his head turned in her direction looking straight at her even though she knew he couldn’t see her.

“He loves you very much,” Gabe said with feeling.

Susan smiled. “I’ve been blessed.”

Gabe nodded. “Yes, you have.”

***

 

8:59 PM

July 4

The day was spent finishing up any remaining things that needed to be done. Everyone was pretty quiet all day, each feeling a sense of anxiety about the night.

The grandfather clock in the living room chimed, signaling that the time had come.

Susan swung an automatic rifle over her shoulder and stuffed her 9mm in the front of her pants. “It’s time to put this show on the road.”

Everyone stood in the foyer in a large circle. They were all dressed in black from head to toe. Susan’s hair was pulled back in a ponytail, her face devoid of makeup. Her blue eyes danced with the impending excitement. Any anxiety she was feeling the night before was gone.

Michael tossed Susan a second clip which she promptly stuck in one of her front pockets.

“Oh, wait I just want to get one thing.”

“Susie, we don’t have the time.”

“We’ll just have to make time.”

Michael shook his head as he followed her up the stairs into their bedroom. She made a beeline for her dresser. Opening the top middle drawer she took out a small rectangular wooden box.

“My father carried this with him when they were about to invade Japan. He said he took it out just as he heard that they weren’t going in; that they were going to drop the bomb. He said it brought him luck.” Susan couldn’t believe she remembered that story from so long ago.

She opened the box to reveal an ornately carved ivory handled butterfly knife. She flicked her wrist and showed him the blade. “He always kept it deadly sharp.”

Michael nodded. “Come on Susie we’ve gotta go.”

Susan flicked her wrist again closing the knife and stuffed it in her back pocket. “Can’t forget this either,” she said reaching into the drawer again pulling out the stiletto.

Michael looked from the instrument to her face. “Let’s hope we don’t need it.”

She nodded as she put the stiletto in her other back pocket.

10:32 PM

July 4

Camp Hero

Four figures crept silently across the open field toward a hole in a dilapidated bunker as the sounds of fireworks exploded around them. A large light flared around them as one of the fireworks went off above them.

As they made their way, Scully looked up at the giant array. Susan was right, it was much bigger in person.

Michael glanced inside the hole in the wall. “Are you getting anything?” he asked Susan.

She shook her head. “Nothing?”

They all looked at Gabe. “I don’t feel anything either.”

Scully frowned. “Maybe they’re not here. They might have known we were coming and cleaned up.”

Susan shook her head. “I don’t think so, but let’s be careful anyway.”

They all nodded. Michael gripped his rifle tighter, his finger ready on the trigger, hoping to fall back on the training the Boston PD and the Academy provided. He and Susan carried a rifle while Scully felt more comfortable with her hand gun. Gabe wasn’t armed seeing that he never fired a gun before and would probably kill them by mistake.

They followed Susan inside the bunker, down an eerily quiet hallway. She turned suddenly down a narrow hallway on their right. At the end was a steel door with a key card slot next to it. The door looked as old as the rest of the building and Scully doubted it would open.

Michael took the key card Krycek gave them and slid it into the slot.

They heard a small beep and a green light lit above the door. There was a soft snick as they heard a lock opening. They stepped back as the door opened revealing a crisply clean steel elevator.

Susan and Gabe staggered as they were assaulted by the sudden presence of thousands of people; some in tremendous torment.

“Susan!” Michael hissed.

She gripped his shirt to steady herself. “It’s OK, I just wasn’t ready for that.”

“What do you sense?” Scully asked.

“There are thousands of people underground.”

“What?” Michael and Scully asked. “How is it that you didn’t feel that before?”

Susan shook her head looking at Gabe for help.

He shrugged.

“Maybe their using some kind of dampening field,” Scully offered.

Susan frowned at her, the words sounding strange coming from her.

“I don’t know,” Scully said uncomfortably. “I heard it on a Star Trek episode I watched with Mulder.”

Susan grinned.

They stepped into the elevator. There was a number pad next to the doors.

“Which one?” Michael asked Susan.

“I don’t know.”

Scully stepped forward and hit the one for the basement.

Michael and Susan looked at her questioningly.

Scully shrugged. “That’s where I always look for him first.”

Susan nodded.

“Can you feel him?” Scully asked as they felt the evaluator descend.

Susan shook her head, the concern evident on her face. “No.”

“What about you?” she asked Gabe.

“No.”

“But you two can sense everyone else, right?”

Susan nodded grimily.

Scully swallowed nervously not wanting to dwell on what that could mean.

When they finally reached the basement, the doors slid open. They braced themselves against the walls expecting an ambush, but there wasn’t one.

Susan took a step out, her rifle out in front of her. Michael gestured Scully to follow her, then Gabe to go after Scully, with him taking up the rear.

“Anything?” Scully asked hopefully.

Susan gave her a devastated looked. “I’m sorry, but I don’t feel him anywhere.”

Scully took a shaky breath. “He’s here, though,” she said.

“How do you know?”

Scully shook her head, the hand that wasn’t gripping her gun fell to her abdomen. “I don’t know.”

Susan nodded then gestured with her gun. “Then you go ahead, we’ll follow.”

Scully looked at her for a moment before she nodded and proceeded forward.

***

 

The group, lead by Scully, walked purposefully down hallway after hallway pausing briefly when Susan would indicate someone up ahead. They moved again only when she deemed it safe.

It felt like hours had passed when Scully stopped outside another steel door, this one with a number pad next to it.

“Now what?” she asked no one in particular.

“Let me try,” Gabe said coming up beside them. He punched in four numbers, quickly causing the door to slowly open.

They all looked at him.

He looked back. “I escaped from here, remember?”

Susan nodded and stepped into the dimly lit room.

Before them was a large room with computers and uncomfortable looking chairs. Along the walls were tables with various instruments strung about.

Across the room was another steel door, this one with a latch.

They crept across the room, Scully quickly opening the door to a dark hallway lined with more steel doors each with its own number pad.

Scully lead them to the last door on the right and stopped, her hand hovering over the key pad.

“Dana?” Susan asked.

Scully didn’t answer her as she punched in the numbers 121835. There was a beep as the door swung in.

Susan’s face showed her shock. “How did you know?”

“I didn’t,” Scully said. “I just punched in Mulder’s father’s birthday.”

Susan was about the answer when they were flooded with red light and an alarm sounded.

“Shit!” Michael cursed. “We’ve been discovered!”

Susan swung her gun toward the end of the hallway. “I don’t sense anyone coming yet, so we better hurry.”

Quietly, barely audible under the blaring of the alarm, Scully heard a whimper, then a groan.

“No, no more, please,” a voice said from inside the room.

Scully’s heart broke into a thousand pieces at the sound. “Mulder!” she shouted as she darted into the room.

In the errie red light she could see him cowering in a bed, a sheet pulled up over his naked chest, his back against the wall.

“No, please no more,” he whimpered.

“Mulder it’s me,” she said as she approached him.

He seemed to make himself smaller. “No, please don’t come near me, I can’t take seeing her. Why are you doing this to me?” he cried.

She felt her chest constrict. Oh God, what have they done to him?”

“Mulder,” she said soothingly. “It’s me, it’s really me.”

“Scully?” he asked in a small voice, his eyes squinting to see her. “Is it really you or am I dreaming again?”

Scully reached a hand out to him. She couldn’t make out his features, but she could see that he was badly beaten. Her hand made contact with his cheek and she gasped, feeling oozing scars marring the once soft skin.

“Oh, God, Mulder what did they do to you?”

Mulder launched himself toward her, wrapping his arms around her. “I knew you’d come, I knew you’d come,” he said over and over as he pressed his face into her neck. She could feel that he was crying and she held him tighter.

“Come on, Dana,” Susan shouted. “They’re coming, we’ve got to get the hell out of here!”

Mulder freaked out at the sound of another voice, falling back against the wall, pushing Scully behind him as if to protect her. “Don’t you touch her!” he yelled, his voice hoarse with overuse.

“It’s OK, Mulder,” Scully murmured. “It’s OK, I brought help.”

Susan stepped into the room followed by Michael. “Come on guy we’ve got to get you out of here,” Michael said walking toward him.

Mulder fought him uselessly. “DON’T TOUCH ME! GET THE HELL AWAY FROM HER!”

“Mulder!” Susan shouted sharply. “It’s OK.”

“Susan?” Mulder squeaked in a small voice. “What are you doing here?”

Susan gave him a grim smile. “We’re the calvary. Now let Mike carry you or we’re all going to get killed.”

Gabe stuck his head in the room. “They’re coming.”

“Who’s he?” Mulder asked, terrified.

“A friend, now come on!” Susan said.

Mulder allowed Michael to toss him over his shoulder in a fireman’s carry signaling to them all how weak he really was. Susan wondered how he expected to fight them off if they were really there for Scully. She guessed he would have died trying.

Mulder hung limply over Michael’s shoulder as he handed Scully his rifle. “I can’t carry it and him at the same time.”

She nodded and took the gun.

Gunfire echoed in the room.

Susan returned fire taking down the three men making their way towards them. She signaled that it was OK to go and they all followed her as they made their way out of the compound.

They were met numerous times during their escape by armed soldiers. Once they got trapped in an intersection causing them to exhaust much of their ammunition. But in the end they made it out relatively unscathed.

They stepped out of the bunker into the night air, no soldiers in sight.

“That was a little too easy,” Susan said looking around before she signaled Scully to go ahead. Michael followed her struggling with his burden who was now passed out dead weight. Gabe ran after him while Susan took up the rear this time.

They crossed the open field heading toward the woods where they had stashed Michael’s Suburban.

As soon as they reached the clearing, more gun fire sounded. Dirt flew at their feet as bullets hit the ground around them.

“KEEP RUNNING!!” Susan screamed, firing her rifle into the darkness where she knew men were hiding. She smiled in grim satisfaction at the cries of pain she caused.

They ran, no longer in single file but in a group, Michael falling behind, his body struggling with his burden. More gun fire sounded as they approached the tree line.

Suddenly, a cry sounded out as Susan felt Gabe’s hands on her back as he pushed her down. She practically fell on her face closer to the woods. A searing pain exploded in her left shoulder and she clutched the offended area, surprised when she felt no blood.

She sat up and saw Michael fall to his knees mindful through a haze of pain, not to drop Mulder.

“MICHAEL!” Susan screamed as she ran toward him.

Scully ran after her.

“Take Mulder!” Susan shouted at her.

Mulder had come to when he hit the ground.

“Come on, Mulder,” Scully urged. “I need you to help me here, I can’t carry you.”

Mulder nodded and weakly got to his feet, trailing behind Scully as she led him to the woods.

“I’m OK!” Michael hissed.

“Bullshit!” Susan shouted seeing the blood pouring out of his shoulder. Her own shoulder screamed in phantom pain.

“Check on, Gabe,” he said pointing toward a crumpled heap by the tree line.

“Oh, God,” she breathed crawling over to him. “Oh, God! Gabriel!”

The sound of gunshots rang around them.

“SUSAN!” Michael shouted.

She ignored him, making her way over to Gabe’s prone body. She could see a large bloody bullet hole gaping from his back.

She rolled him over to see his eyes open and looking clearly at her.

“Go, Susan,” he rasped out. “Go, there is nothing you can do for me.” His breathing made sickening sucking sounds.

“Gabe, no,” she said starting to drag him.

“No, Susan.” He weakly swatted her hands away from him. “It’s no use.”

She shook head. “You are not going to die, I won’t let you.”

He looked at her sadly and cupped her check. He coughed, blood bubbling from his lips. “It is not up to you to decide.”

“No! You saved my life!” Tears rolled down her face.

He smiled again. “As I was supposed to do.”

“No,” she moaned. “NO!”

She could feel his life force leaving him.

“GABE NO!”

“Remember, all things happen for a reason,” he whispered before his hand left her face to drop lifelessly to the ground.

She shook him. “NO!”

“Susan,” Michael said in her ear. “We’ve got to go.”

He was barely holding on to consciousness. The pain in his shoulder screamed with every breath he took.

Susan nodded resolutely and stood. She and Michael ran toward the woods. More gun shots burst around them. As she reached the trees she turned back toward where she left Gabriel and saw nothing.

She couldn’t believe what she saw or what she wasn’t seeing and darted back in the direction she had come. Where had he gone?

More bullets hit the dirt around her. She reached the spot where she knew Gabe should be, but found nothing. She hit the ground hard, a sharp pain radiating up her right knee. She lifted her leg to see a mushroomed bullet laying in the dirt. She picked it up; a sense of pain and death gripped at her very being.

She heard Michael and Scully screaming for her and more gunshots; some from the woods some from the compound. She pocketed the bullet and took off toward Michael and their escape.

 Part 18

Susan dashed into the woods in pursuit of the rest of the group. She caught up with them easily seeing that Michael and Mulder were both a lot worse for wear. Michael kept his right hand pressed over the wound in his left shoulder as he staggered along. It did little to stop the bleeding considering that the entrance wound was in his back.

Mulder’s arm was slung over Scully’s shoulder while she supported as much of his weight as she could. She didn’t dare take on too much for fear of what it might do to her pregnancy. She could imagine telling the story of his/her father’s rescue when she explains why her child is as jumpy as it is; it was exposed to way too much adrenaline during it’s time in the womb.

Michael tripped over a tree root and lost his footing. He fell hard to the ground, banging his right elbow on the tree.

Susan skidded to a halt yelling to Scully and Mulder to go on ahead. They had planned in advance for every member of the group to have a set of keys to Michael’s Suburban, just in case.

Michael whimpered when Susan knelt down next to him and placed her hand on his good shoulder.

“Love,” she said softly. “I can try to take some of your pain, but I’ve never done it before.”

Michael shook his head. “No,” he said in a strained voice. “You go on without me, I’ll just get you all killed.”

Susan smiled ruefully. “Oh get off it, you ass. The martyr act doesn’t work on me and you’d have to be out of your mind if you think I’d ever leave you behind.”

They heard men crashing through the woods nearby. They were getting closer.

Suddenly the noise stopped. All the tiny hairs on Susan’s body stood on end and she felt a creepy feeling move it’s way up her neck. Her other senses became more acute and she could feel her perceptions sharpen. She stood quickly and spun around to come face to face with the alien bounty hunter.

For half a second, Susan froze before her body jumped into action. She made sure to place herself between Michael and the being. Her right hand flew to her back pocket that held the stiletto.

Susan pushed the button causing the blade to eject from it’s housing and held it out in front of her like a sword.

“Don’t you come any closer you sonofabitch or I swear to God I’ll kill you.” The timber of her voice caused Michael to shiver and the alien being to step back.

Susan reached behind her to lay her hand on Michael’s head. Without taking her eyes off of the ‘thing’ in front of her, she concentrated on Michael’s pain. Her shoulder exploded in a fireball and she gritted her teeth to keep herself from crying out.

“Stand up, Michael,” she commanded through clenched teeth. “And you,” she said to the bounty hunter. “Don’t you move.”

Michael struggled to his feet grabbing Susan’s shoulder for support.

Holding the stiletto out, she moved around the bounty hunter, refusing to turn her back on him until she was a safe distance away.

“We will find you, your resistance will be useless,” the bounty hunter growled.

Susan nodded. “Sure thing, Locutus,” she said sarcastically as she continued to back away, with Michael behind her.

Since Susan had lessened his pain, Michael started to jog toward the car when he reached a considerable distance from the alien bounty hunter. Blood streamed freely down his chest and back.

Susan paused, her eyes still on the motionless being. “Leave us alone or I will kill you,” she sneered.

The alien bounty hunter didn’t show any reaction, but said, “You will never win, you don’t even know yourself.”

Susan let the hand holding the stiletto fall to her side. “Of course I do,” she said with a grin. “I’m one of the good guys.” She cocked her head to the side. “Don’t you know the good guys always win?” With that, she took off after Michael, doing her best to ignore the pain in her shoulder.

***

 

Scully and Mulder made it to the truck without incident. She was just helping Mulder through the back doors when Michael and Susan caught up with them.

“DANA!” Susan shouted as she approached.

Scully turned to see Michael and Susan running toward them. She felt a flood of relief upon seeing them.

“Susan,” Scully said. “What happened?”

Susan shook her head, not wanting to get into that right now. “You get in the back, you too, Mike. I can’t keep this hold on your pain and drive at the same time.”

Michael nodded grimly, not looking forward to having all the pain return, but he’d rather double it than know that Susan was hurting as well.

As soon as Michael stepped up into the truck, Susan released her hold and he fell under the strain, losing consciousness as a result. Scully attacked him, ripping his shirt open and wincing at the sight of the wound the bullet left behind. Mulder was laying stretched out on the back seat, passed out.

Scully felt torn between tending to Mulder and helping Michael. But seeing that Michael was losing a lot of blood and needed immediate attention, she made the choice.

Before they left, Scully and Susan stocked some medical supplies in the back of the truck, again, just in case. Scully was grateful for their foresight. As they bumped at an alarmingly high speed along the dirt road leading them away from Camp Hero, Scully did the best she could for Michael.

Susan didn’t go directly to the Marina as they originally planned, but headed home. She had forgotten something she just couldn’t leave behind.

After some time, Scully looked up from her difficult task to see them turning into Susan’s driveway. She had been so focused on her work that she hadn’t noticed that they weren’t at the docks yet.

“Susan, what are we doing here?” Scully said from the back.

“I gotta get something!” she yelled.

“We don’t have time! They’ll be looking for us here!”

“I don’t care!” she yelled back, flinging the door open and bolting out. “I’ll be right back!” She took off toward the house and quickly went inside.

Scully lost sight of her for only a moment before she came sprinting out, holding the front door open, waiting for someone.

Ruffus came barreling out running toward the truck. Susan ran alongside of him pausing to let him precede her into the Suburban. Ruffus excitedly jumped into the driver side door, his tongue hanging out of the corner of his mouth. He moved onto the passenger seat and turned to rest his head on it’s back so he could see over it and at Mulder. He then leaped over the seats toward Scully and Michael. He seemed to sense that Michael was in bad shape and laid down next to him, keeping a close watch on Scully’s actions.

Susan climbed inside and slammed the door behind her. She made a large U-turn tearing up much of the front yard in the process.

***

 

Midnight

July 5

Mattituck Marina

Mulder groaned when he saw where they were headed, but was too tired to put up a fight.

“Dana! Put ‘im in the forward cabin,” Susan said referring to Mulder. “It’s got a queen size bed that he can stretch out on!”

As Scully helped Mulder along, she heard him mutter something about missing a bed.

Susan paused for a moment on her way toward the back of the truck to make sure they were OK. Then she opened the doors to find an unconscious Michael passed out on the floor. Scully had ripped off his shirt and applied a field style dressing.

It was already soaked through with blood.

Susan climbed inside and knelt down next to him.

“Love, you gotta wake up,” Susan murmured.

Michael groaned.

She cupped his check, he was warm to the touch. She could feel that his mind was foggy and could actually see his muddy thoughts. She did her best to help clear his mind, but something was fighting her.

She closed her eyes. Infection had already set in. Her thoughts went to the bullet in her pocket and wondered what might have been coated on it.

“Come on Mike, you weight a ton, and there is no way I’m going to be able to move you without your help.”

She felt him struggle with his pain to try to reach her. He could feel her comforting presence but could not get to her.

Susan searched his mind through the darkness of pain and sickness to find Michael buried deep under all the stress.

She concentrated on pulling him up and blocked out everything else in order to allow him to rise above it.

She’d never done this before and hoped she wasn’t causing any damage as she tried to help him.

Sweat formed on her brow and above her lip.

Michael opened his eyes and gasped.

Susan smiled. “Hey there,” she said sweetly.

He blinked at her.

“Love, you need to get up. As soon as you get inside, I promise you can pass out again.”

Michael struggled to sit up, but didn’t quite make it. Susan helped him into a sitting position then helped him crawl to the end of the truck.

She knew how much pain he was in by the silent tears rolling down his cheeks.

Susan steeled herself and forced him out of the Suburban. He stood on wobbly legs.

“Susie, I don’t think I can make to the boat.” His speech was slurred, making him sound drunk.

“Yes, you can, I’ll help you,” Susan stated firmly. “Now, get that perfect ass moving!”

Michael stumbled toward the Anam Cara, most of his weight supported by Susan. She would have taken on his pain again, but she was too busy keeping him conscious to do that.

They stepped over the side of the boat and Michael’s legs buckled. Susan grabbed him, forcing him to continue into the interior.

“Just a little bit further then I promise you can relax, OK?”

Michael nodded, not able to answer, he was breathing too heavily to talk. He tripped down the few steps to the cabins just as Scully came out of the forward cabin to help Susan guide him into the main starboard stateroom. The two women struggled to keep him vertical as they walked him toward the bed where he collapsed, crying out in pain.

“You go get the rest of our gear and I’ll take care of him,” Scully ordered.

Susan looked like she was going to refuse then reconsidered. “OK, but I’m going to have let him go, I’m the one keeping him awake.”

Scully was already removing the bandage she’d applied. “I think that’s for the better. I’m not sure he’s going to want to be aware of what I’m doing.”

Susan gulped. “And what’s that?”

Scully looked up grimly. “I’m going to try to do whatever I can to stop the bleeding and that’s going to hurt like hell.”

***

 

Susan sat down next to Mulder’s sleeping form and rested her palm on his cool forehead. Anxiety and fear raced through her, not because of what she was feeling, but because of what she wasn’t feeling. She was sensing nothing from him and that scared her more than the scars and wounds that marred his once tanned skin.

Her eyes scanned his face and what she saw almost caused her to cry. Four dime sized weeping scabs lined each cheek. She picked up the antibiotic ointment Scully told Michael and Gabe to get during their preparations and carefully applied it to each wound.

Mulder stirred, but did not awaken.

When she was finished with his face, Susan’s attention went to his chest. A large vertical wound marked his skin from just below the clavicle to under the sweatpants he wore. The morbid part of Susan’s mind thought it looked like the beginnings of a Y-incision.

Just as the cold ointment made contact with his body, Mulder sprang awake and grabbed her wrist in a vice-like grip.

Susan’s heart almost burst from the shock. She wasn’t anticipating that and because she couldn’t sense him, she never saw it coming. She also didn’t see the fist as it flew toward her face before it was almost too late. She dodged away, feeling the air rush past her as Mulder’s fist went by.

“GET AWAY FROM ME!” Mulder shouted, still holding on to her wrist.

“Whoa, Whoa, Mulder it’s me! It’s Susan,” Susan said, as she righted herself, out of breath. “You’re safe now. It’s OK.”

Mulder stared at her wildly before she could actually see his eyes focus on her and soften.

“Susan?” he croaked.

She nodded, smiling at him.

“Then it wasn’t a dream,” he said falling back down on the mattress. He gritted his teeth as the movement caused the pain in his chest to flare. He rested his right hand over his face and Susan could see a diamond shaped scare on his forearm.

She looked at it for a moment then asked, “Are you in any pain?”

Mulder removed his hand to look at her. “I don’t think there is a part of me that doesn’t hurt.”

Susan nodded.

Mulder’s eyes roamed the room. “I’m on a boat,” he stated.

Susan nodded again. “Yeah, right now we’re anchored among a group of other ships in The Sound near The North Fork of Long Island. I have the radar set to pick up any approaching vessels. So far the only thing that’s come near us is a drunk man on a wave runner. What he’s doing out on that thing in the middle of the night is beyond me, the schmuk.”

Mulder looked at her.

Susan looked away. “I also have my own personal radar attuned to anything comin’ near us. There’s a flock of birds flying overhead and that’s about it.”

He still hadn’t looked away.

“I, ah,” she didn’t know what to say. The fact that he was looking at her so intently made her uncomfortable. It really bothered her that she couldn’t sense him.

Mulder frowned. “Where’s Scully?” he asked.

Susan breathed out. “She’s in with Mike,” she stated, trying to reign in her emotions.

Mulder’s frown deepened then turned into understanding. He sat up slowly. “He’s been shot.”

Susan bit her bottom lip and looked down at the bed.

“Is he all right?”

Susan sighed loudly. “I don’t know, but the bullet went clear through his shoulder.”

Mulder nodded. “I know how it feels to be shot, not the most pleasant of experiences, if you ask me. If Scully’s taking care of him, he’ll be just fine.”

Susan nodded. “Yeah, but.”

“But, what?”

Susan shook her head. “What do you remember?” she asked, changing the subject. He didn’t need anything more to worry about than himself.

Mulder slowly laid back down. “Not much right now,” he said tiredly. “I just remember a lot of pain.”

She nodded.

He looked up at her. “Maybe you can help me?”

Susan closed her eyes. If she couldn’t sense him, she wasn’t sure if she was going to be able to scan his memories. “We’ll see what we can do once you’ve had some rest,” she said, opening her eyes.

He didn’t respond, just closed his eyes. “Yeah, rest sounds good.”

He was asleep again before she could start applying the ointment. She forced herself to concentrate on that task rather than the man laying before her, or the one in the other room.

***

 

Somewhere in the North Atlantic Ocean

3:31 AM

July 5

Scully found Susan on the bridge with Ruffus lying asleep at her feet. They were moving again.

The only light in the room was from the instruments and they reflected on Susan’s face sharpening her worried features. Her eyes were staring straight ahead.

“I think I finally slowed the bleeding,” Scully said. “I’m going to have to keep reapplying new bandages if I want to stop it completely.”

Susan nodded, but didn’t turn to acknowledge her.

Scully sat down on one of the leather bench seats at Susan’s right. She still wouldn’t look at her. Scully could see that Susan was breathing very, slow, deep breaths and that her jaw was set.

Scully ran a hand over her face, then let it drop to her lap. “Thank you for looking after Mulder.”

Again, Susan just nodded, but didn’t take her eyes away from whatever was in front of her.

“Did you get to talk to him?” she asked hopefully. “When I looked in on him, he was sleeping and I didn’t want to bother him.”

Susan didn’t respond, it was as if she didn’t hear her, her attention focused elsewhere.

Scully frowned. There was no way she could see anything out the windows, for it was pitch black outside. Scully figured that she was navigating via the instruments. She craned her neck to see what she was so intent on studying.

A mushroomed bullet was sitting atop the instrument panel.

Scully reached for it. “What is this?” she asked.

Susan flicked a switch and the shipped slowed. She quickly snatched up the bullet before she could get to it.

“Nothing,” Susan muttered, lowering the anchor as soon as the ship slowed to a crawl.

“Susan,” Scully said. “What is that?” Then it dawned on her. “Is that the bullet that went through Michael?”

Susan looked at the slug in her hand. “It is the bullet that went through Michael’s shoulder and would have hit me in the back, killing me had it not been for Gabe.”

Scully opened her mouth, but Susan wasn’t finished.

“This is the same bullet that went through Michael and killed Gabe,” she said slowly.

“Susan.”

Susan looked up at her for the first time, a smile on her face that was not happy, but just this side of insane. “And the man who fired it left his mark and I’m going to find him.”

“Susan.”

Suddenly she stood, surprising Scully. “NO!” She walked away from her toward the spiral staircase and spun around. “No, I know what you’re going to say, and I’m not going to let you talk me out of it.”

Scully didn’t approach her, just turned around in her seat.

“I’m not going to actively seek him out, but I’m sure, as sure as I am about my love for Michael, I’m going to meet up with him one day, and I’m going to.”

Scully stood. “Going to what? Kill him?”

Susan grinned. “Damn straight.”

“Susan, revenge is not as sweet as they say it is, I know.”

Susan shrugged. “Then I guess it’s a good thing I don’t have the conscious you have.”

Scully stalked toward her. “BULLSHIT! THAT’S BULLSHIT AND YOU KNOW IT!”

“Maybe I do, and maybe I don’t, but I really don’t think that’s your concern.”

Scully looked at her, stunned. “Not my concern, not my concern? What the hell are you thinking about?”

“You need to focus on getting Mulder to safety,” she said starting toward the stairs again.

Scully grabbed her arm. “What the hell is that supposed to mean?”

Susan wrenched her arm from her grasp. “What it means is that at first light, I’m docking the boat and Michael and I are leaving.”

Scully was enraged. “You’re abandoning us?” She couldn’t believe her ears.

Susan’s temper flared. She really wasn’t mad at Scully and deep down she knew it, but the people she was angry with weren’t there, so she chose the next best thing, Scully.

“ABANDONING YOU? WHAT THE FUCK DO YOU THINK I AM? MICHAEL AND I RISKED OUR LIVES TO SAVE MULDER! I LOST THE ONLY PERSON WHO EVER KNEW WHAT IT WAS LIKE TO BE ME AND YOU THINK I’D WILLINGLY LEAVE NOW?” She finished with a humorless laugh.

Scully flinched.

Neither of them noticed the glow of the instrument panel brighten.

Susan shoved the bullet into her face. “Did you notice how warm Michael is? Huh? Did you notice that the bleeding in his shoulder just won’t stop, not matter what you do?” She had stopped shouting, but the anger was still there. She shook the hand holding the bullet. “The son of a bitch who shot Michael coated this bullet with something and if I don’t get him to the hospital by tomorrow night, he’s going to die.” The last word was uttered in a sob. “I would never abandon you, but I can’t risk losing him.” Tears streamed unnoticed down her face.

“Oh, my God,” Scully breathed. She had noticed everything Susan had mentioned, but didn’t know exactly how to tell her. “Susan, I, I.”

She straightened her shoulders and took a deep breath trying to control her emotions. “No. Don’t. I don’t want your sympathy, I just want you to do what I say. Tomorrow morning we are going to dock and Michael and I are leaving. You are to stay on and continue with our original plans.”

“Susan, you’ll be vulnerable,” Scully said.

Susan shook her head. “I’m armed with more than a gun. We’ll be fine.”

“Susan, we have antibiotics,” Scully added.

She shook her head. “What we have isn’t powerful enough to fight what’s in him.”

“How are you going to explain what happened to him without giving yourselves away?”

Susan looked at her. “I won’t have to explain a thing,” she spit out. “They will do whatever I want them to do,” she said and walked out of the room.

***

 

Susan slowly opened the door to see Michael spread out atop the sheets on the bed.

Susan choked back tears. That bed was the center of many fantastic memories. She was pretty sure that was where the baby they lost was created. Now, it was the bed in which her love lay dying.

She closed her eyes tightly and concentrated on steeling herself. It would do neither of them any good if Michael knew how scared she was. She made sure to block out that particular emotion without blocking herself from Michael completely. Nothing caught his attention more than losing his sense of her.

She slowly approached the bed and sat down. The movement caused him to stir.

“Uzi?” Michael slurred out her name, not able to open his eyes.

She smiled sadly. “Yeah, love, it’s me,” she whispered.

“Num ot.”

“I know you’re hot,” she said brushing the hair off his forehead and bent down to kiss him. “I know.” A single tear rolled down her cheek.

“Urts,” he said in a strained voice.

Susan bit her lip. “I know you hurt, love.” She ran her hand through his hair in a calming effort. More tears joined the one hanging on her chin. “I know.”

“Stay with me?” he said in a clear voice, but sounded like a lost little boy.

She breathed in deeply. “Of course I’ll stay with you.”

She swung her legs over the side of the bed and stretched out next to him. “You should go back to sleep.”

“I hurt so much,” he whimpered.

She wiped away the wetness on her face to no avail, it was quickly replaced. “I know. Here,” she said resting her head on his chest. “Remember that time you couldn’t sleep because you pulled that muscle in your back showing off and I helped you go to sleep by talking to you?”

He tried to nod.

“We’ll, that’s what I’m going to do now, OK?”

“Yeah,” he said in a small voice.

“Just listen to my voice,” she said kissing his extremely hot chest. She carefully placed her hand on the still bleeding bullet wound.

He hissed.

“It’s OK, just listen to my voice.” She closed her eyes, concentrating on her own words. “You are someplace you feel safe and loved. It’s a place you’ve been before and want to return to.” She saw an image of the bungalow they rented in Bali pop into her head. She hadn’t realized he liked that place as much as he did. She decided there, that she would do whatever she could to buy that stretch of beach for him.

“We are stretched out on that bamboo bed, the mosquito netting surrounding us.” She felt him breath deeply. “We’re nude, not making love, but entwined in each other’s embrace merely basking in the feeling of one another.” She could sense that he was falling into slumber. “The sun is hot and the shade is cool, but pleasant. There is a breeze coming off the ocean and all we hear is the sea and birds. It’s absolute paradise.”

As she continued, unbeknownst to her, Michael fell into an altered state of consciousness. Not because of her words, but because of what her body was doing. Susan was concentrating so much on Michael and his pain and doing whatever she could to lessen it, she was unaware of what was happening or what she was causing. The wound beneath her hand became hotter and hotter and hotter to an almost burning degree, but she did not notice. The air around them became charged with static electricity, but she continued to murmur to him. The lights in the cabin grew to an almost blinding brightness, but her eyes were closed and she was lost in thought. The temperature in the room climbed steadily to over 100 degrees but all of her attention was on Michael. And if there was anyone there who could see such a thing, a blue hue spread from around Susan’s body to engulf Michael in a peaceful halo of color.

Part 19

July 5

7:12 AM

Scully woke to the feeling of something brushing against the side of her face, then against her hair. She had fallen asleep in a chair next to Mulder’s bed bent over so that her head rested next to his body, adjacent to his hip.

She breathed in deeply then felt a stabbing pain in her lower back. Oh, yeah, she was going to pay for leaning over for such a long time for the rest of the day.

She opened her eyes to see Mulder’s arm move so that his hand could slide over her hair again. For a moment, she thought she was dreaming of the past when she had spent a nightly vigil next to Mulder in a bed in some generic hospital, then she felt the movement of the boat around her. The events of last night came flooding back to her.

She sat up quickly to see Mulder awake and smiling at her.

“Morning, Sunshine,” he said in a raspy voice, weak from disuse.

Scully stared at him unbelievingly, her mouth open before her bottom lip started to tremble and her eyes filled with tears. He was here, alive, and smiling at her. Briefly, it was more than she could handle and her mind refused to respond to him.

Mulder chuckled weakly at her expression. “Now, I know what you’d look like if you were ever to see an EBE in the flesh, so to speak.”

Mulder’s comment snapped Scully out of whatever spell she was under and her slack jawed expression turned into absolute joy. Her lips spread out into a face splitting grin and the tears in her eyes streamed down her face. Then she lost it and started to sob.

Mulder began to sit up, but he was pushed down, none too gently, by Scully throwing herself onto his chest and burying her face into his neck. Mulder just held her as tightly as his weak body would allow while she cried earnestly in his arms.

Mulder sighed and turned his head so that his nose was nestled in her hair. He took a deep breath of her then said, “So, anybody miss me?”

He felt her body shake with laughter and she sat up, still chuckling. “You have no idea how good it is to see you,” she said, wiping at her face.

Mulder cupped her cheek. “You have no idea how good it is to be seen.”

Scully leaned into his touch and closed her eyes briefly before she spoke again. “I was so afraid I wasn’t ever going to see you again,” she said, her voice choked with tears.

“I knew you’d find me, I never doubted that,” he said with conviction.

Scully nodded, the action so slight he almost missed it. “I had some help.”

Mulder nodded. “Yeah, I think I spoke to Susan last night for about a minute or so. She didn’t tell me how you found me.” He looked around the cabin. “Or, where you found me. Or whose boat this is.”

Scully smiled. “It was a lot of luck,” she said. “We found you in the last place we expected you to be; about 40 miles away from where Susan and Mike live.”

Mulder frowned.

“Do you remember our conversation a few months ago at Susan’s place about Camp Hero?”

Mulder’s frowned deepened, his mind was still a little fuzzy. “Yeah, I think so.” His eyes brightened. “Don’t tell me I was there.”

Scully nodded. “Yeah, in an elaborate underground facility, which I’m sure is all cleared out by now.”

Mulder sighed and looked away.

Scully reached out to caress the side of his face, very aware of the wounds under her palm. “What did they do to you?” she said sadly under her breath.

He looked back to her. “Scully, don’t. I’m going to be fine, I just need some time to get back my strength.”

Scully licked her lips and pulled back her hand. “Do you remember anything?” she asked.

Mulder sighed, he wasn’t sure he wanted to talk about the little that he could recall. “Not much right now, but I think after awhile I’ll be able to.”

Scully nodded.

“Susan said when I’m stronger she’ll see if she could help me.”

She nodded again.

Mulder looked around the room again. “Speaking of Susan, is this her boat?”

“Yeah, but it’s a lot more than a boat. It’s actually more like a yacht.”

Mulder raised his eyebrows. “Wow, I guess she’s not doing too bad for herself, huh?”

Scully gave him a small smile.

“Where is she?”

Scully’s face fell then she realized something. The boat wasn’t moving. Yes, she could feel the normal rocking of a boat, but it didn’t feel like they were heading anywhere.

“What is it?”

“Michael’s not doing so well.”

“Oh, no,” Mulder whispered. “What’s ‘not so well’?”

Scully ran a hand through her hair. “Michael was shot last night when we were getting you out.”

“She told me that the bullet went clear through his shoulder.”

She nodded. “Yeah, but the bullet was laced with something. She said she was going to dock at first light and take him to the hospital.” She looked around the room. “I don’t think she would have left without letting me know.”

Mulder sat up slowly. “Are we docked?”

Scully shook her head. “I don’t think so,” she said starting to stand. “I’m going to go see what’s going on.” She leaned down to kiss him, realizing that it had been almost two months since she had done that. “Stay here. When I get back, I’m going to give you a proper welcome back kiss.”

Mulder leered at her. “Don’t be too long.”

She smiled at him and walked out of the room. She walked the few paces to the starboard cabin, noticing that the door was open. She peered inside to see both Susan and Michael spread out above the covers.

Michael was laying on his back in pretty much the same position she had left him. But now, Susan was stretched out over him, her head resting on his chest with her face nestled in his neck. Her right leg was thrown over one of his and her right hand was placed over the bullet wound.

Both were breathing deeply.

Scully stood quietly in the doorway waiting for Susan to feel her presence for about a minute before she started to wonder why Susan hadn’t awakened. Usually as soon as she entered the room, Susan woke up.

She took two steps into the room and stood quietly again, but nothing happened. Susan didn’t move.

Scully frowned and approached the bed. She leaned slightly over and whispered Susan’s name.

Nothing.

“Susan,” she said a little loader, but again, she didn’t budge. “Susan,” she said with more strength.

But it wasn’t Susan who moved, it was Michael.

He turned his head to the side and his eyes slowly opened. He looked up at her with a confused expression on his face. “Dana?” he asked.

“Yeah, how are you feeling?” she asked softly.

Michael closed his eyes. “I’m not sure.” He looked at her again. “What’s going on?”

Scully gently sat down sideways on the bed facing him, hip to hip. “Susan wanted to take you to the hospital this morning. I was trying to wake her.”

It was then he realized the dead weight he felt on his chest was Susan. He rolled his head to the side and bumped her head with his own. “Susie,” he said.

She still didn’t move.

With his uninjured arm, he shook her gently. “Susie, come on, wakie, wakie.”

They heard her mumble something and burrow further into him.

“Hey, Susan, wake up!”

Susan groaned. With difficulty, she slowly opened her eyes. She felt like someone had glued them closed. She didn’t lift her head from his chest, but turned it to face Scully, her nose sliding across his skin.

Scully cocked her head at her. “You said you wanted to take Michael to the hospital this morning.”

“Mmmm,” Susan murmured “Yeah.” She didn’t move though, her body felt like it weighed a ton.

Scully nodded. “Let me just change his bandage, OK?” She looked up at Michael who was looking at her with clear eyes.

“Yeah,” Susan said gruffly. “Let me get out of your way.” She tried to sit up, but her body wasn’t responding. She felt like she was waking up from a very deep sleep; her mind was muddy and her muscles were like Jell-O.

Susan slowly moved her arms so she could push herself up and rolled onto her side, allowing Scully access to Michael, but she didn’t move any further away. She couldn’t.

Michael looked from Susan to Scully then back to Susan. “Why did you want to take me to the hospital?” he asked.

Susan blinked slowly at him not registering what he said right away. She wondered if she’d been drugged. She felt very strange.

“Susan?” Michael prompted.

“You, ah, you’ve been shot,” she said in a slurred voice.

“I have?” he asked.

Scully frowned. “Susan, are you all right?”

Susan looked up at her. “Huh?”

Scully leaned in to get a better look at her. Susan’s eyes were drooping and they seemed glassy. If she didn’t know any better, she’d say Susan was drunk.

“Susie, Dana,” Michael said. “I remember being shot, but I’m not feeling anything,” he said sounding alarmed. “Why aren’t I feeling anything?”

Scully looked away from Susan to Michael. “You don’t feel anything?”

Michael licked his lips nervously. “No.”

Scully carefully removed his bloody bandages, some of which were stuck to his skin. She gently pried the cloth from the wound and stared; her mouth dropped open and her eyes widened.

Susan, even in her hazy state felt her shock. “What is it?” she asked, sounding sleepy despite the look on her face.

Scully looked up at her. “I think you should take a look at this.”

With whatever strength she had, Susan sluggishly crawled across Michael’s chest to peer at the bullet wound.

“What the fuck?” she asked, all traces of sleepiness were gone from her voice.

Scully looked at her then back down at Michael. “Mike, do you think you could sit up for a sec?” she asked.

Michael had an expression of fear on his face. He could feel Susan’s confusion and alarm and it was scaring him. “Why, what’s the matter?”

Susan didn’t answer him.

“Nothing Mike, I just need to take a look at the entrance wound in your back, OK?”

Michael glanced at Susan, then nodded. His stomach muscles rippled as he forced himself into a sitting position.

Scully gasped at what she saw on his back.

“How?” Susan asked.

“What, what’s going on?” Michael’s voice rose. He looked across the room into the mirror atop the dresser. His shoulder was covered in blood, but he could see no exit wound. “What the hell?” he asked.

“Michael, your bullet hole, it, it, well, it,” Scully stammered.

“It’s gone,” he whispered.

“Well, no, it’s not gone, but it’s healed,” Scully said in awe. “It looks like it’s years old.”

“How is that possible?” Susan asked, sounding tired again as she leaned against the headboard. “Last night he was at death’s door. You and I both saw the bullet wound.”

Michael turned slowly to look at her. “You did this.”

“Me?” she asked incredulously. “How the hell could I do this?” Her voice was starting to slur again.

“When I came in,” Scully said. “You were laying on his chest, your hand on the bandages.”

Susan shook her head, starting to rise from the bed, seeming as though she lacked any coordination. “No,” she said. “No, there is no way I could have done this.”

Michael reached for her. “But you did,” he said with awe. “Last night, you healed me.”

Susan stumbled away from his grasp. “NO! Last night I helped you relax and get to sleep with a form of hypnosis. I didn’t heal you,” she said sounding hysterical. “I can’t heal!”

Michael felt what seemed like utter terror radiating from Susan. She was absolutely petrified.

“Susan,” he said calmly, not understanding her reaction. “You did this, you saved me.”

Scully watched Susan with confusion as she slowly became unwound.

Susan shook her head frantically, her body trembling. “No, no, no,” she said over and over again. Her eyes darted around the room making her look like a caged animal. She stumbled further away from them, falling against the wall. She jumped like she’d been shocked and fell to her hands and knees.

Scully started to go to her, but Susan drunkenly got herself up off the floor, her hands out as if to steady her. “I can’t heal, I didn’t do this,” she said desperately.

“Susie,” Michael said, moving towards her.

Susan’s wide and frightened eyes fell upon him. “I can’t heal! You know this! If I could don’t you think I’d have done it before?!”

“But Susan,” Michael said starting to rise.

Susan moved away from him and he sat back down, knowing better than to approach her. She was very frightened and he didn’t know what she might do.

Then, as if she were truly an animal, she took off and escaped the room.

Michael started to go after her, but was stopped by Scully’s hand on his arm. “No, Mike, let her go.”

“But,” he started, wanting desperately to go after her.

“Let her go, she needs the time,” she said. “Besides, we’re on a boat in the middle of the ocean, how far can she go?”

Michael reluctantly agreed and sat back down.

***

 

Mulder heard the commotion from the other room and very slowly got out of bed. His chest screamed in pain, but he had to know what was going on. Besides, he really needed to pee.

When he finished with his duties in the head, he staggered into the other cabin.

“What’s goin’ on?” he asked sounding fatigued as he leaned against the door jamb.

Scully jumped up and went to him. “Mulder,” she said. “You shouldn’t be out of bed.” She tried to lead him back to his room, but he wouldn’t budge.

“No, I’m fine,” he lied. He was anything but fine and he knew it. His head was swimming, his muscles were screaming and his chest and face roared with pain, but he’d be damned if he’d tell Scully that. “What’s going on?” he asked again.

Scully’s shoulders fell as she looked from Mulder to Michael. She explained as much as she understood about what just happened. All the while Mulder remained silent and nodded.

“I really don’t know why she got so upset,” Michael said as he paced the room. He was feeling one hundred percent better. Actually, he’d never felt this good in his life. Not even his allergies were bothering him. He stopped to look at Mulder. He rubbed his shoulder and said, “you’d think she’d be happy I’m all right.”

Mulder nodded. “Let me go talk to her,” he said turning around.

“Mulder, you should be in bed,” Scully started.

“Scully I’m OK,” he said as he turned to face her. “I’ll go talk to her and then go right back to bed, OK?”

Scully reluctantly nodded.

He returned the nod. “Good, you can join me when you get back.” His eyes scanned her body, not salaciously. Had she put on a little weight? “You look tired, too.”

***

 

He found her on the bridge standing with her arms crossed tightly over her chest, fingers clenched. She swayed drunkenly on her feet.

Susan heard him coming as he huffed and puffed his way up the stairs. He really didn’t need exertion right now, but he had an idea of what might be the matter with Susan.

“You should be in bed,” Susan said flatly.

“Why do women keep telling me that?” he asked with a smile.

Susan couldn’t help but smile back as she shook her head. She turned around to face him. “So, you drew the short straw?”

Mulder fell down into the seat closest to the stairs. “Something like that,” he said.

“Really Mulder, you shouldn’t be up here, you should be laying down, you look like shit.”

He gave her a rueful grin. “Thank you so much.”

She shook her head. “How are you feeling, you look like you’re in some pain.”

And here he thought he was a good actor. “I’ll live.” He sat up straighter. “And so will Michael.”

Susan narrowed her eyes at him, but didn’t say anything. She really did not like not knowing what he was feeling.

“You’re getting stronger, aren’t you?” Mulder said without preamble. “You’re finding things out about yourself that you never knew before.”

Susan was trembling.

“You can heal and it terrifies you, why?”

Susan took two pounding steps towards him. “You of all people should know why this bothers me so much.” Her voice was low and menacing as she spoke. “You of all people know what it’s like to see a person suffering and know there is nothing you can do about it,” she said nose to nose with him.

Her venom surprised him.

Tears welled up in her eyes. “I have seen so many children brutalized, so many people traumatized and suffering and wished I could help them, but I couldn’t.” Her voice trembled. “Do you know why I couldn’t help them?”

Mulder shook his head.

“Because I was a coward, and weak.” She turned away from him. “I was so afraid of being different that I ignored this. this thing I was given.” She looked at him over her shoulder, her arms wrapped around herself again. “I hated it. All throughout my life, I hated it,” she whispered. She turned to face him again. “You have no idea what it is like to grow up knowing how people feel about you. You have no idea what it’s like to know that you are different and there is no one else like you out there.” She wiped her face. “So, I ignored it, as best I could, but it wouldn’t go away. It’s like the sense of touch or smell. It’s there even if I don’t want it to be. I worked around it. I didn’t use it even though it would have given me a great advantage.”

Mulder just sat quietly as she spoke. She seemed to need to get this off her chest.

“Not until I got into the FBI did I start to use it, but nothing like I have been since I met Michael. Sure, I used it with you, but it was more like a party trick, nothing real. I was so afraid if I used it too much considering the way you reacted when I told you, I’d lose you.”

He tried not to flinch at that. God, he treated her horribly when she told him about her gift so many years ago. She bared her soul to him and he spat on it. It was before his hypnoregression, before he knew the truth about Samantha, before the X-Files, before Scully, before.

Susan continued, unaware of Mulder’s reaction. Maybe it was better that she didn’t know how he was feeling, it seemed to be easier for her to speak her mind; to say what had been eating at her for so long.

“When I told Michael it was as if he already knew. It didn’t faze him and I loved him more for it. I finally felt accepted and he encouraged me. I started to teach him things, I started doing mental exercises and our solve rate went up.” She breathed in a shaky breath. “I was happy and was finally starting to feel at peace with myself. I was discovering new things about my gift. I could talk to Michael, say simple sentences without speaking and he heard me. And then that bastard started killing those women and you and Dana came along.” She turned away again. “And I lost my gift. It terrified me. I never felt so lost, isolated, disconnected from everything during that time. I vowed to myself that if I got it back I would do everything I could to reach my full potential.”

She looked at him. “And now I find out that if I hadn’t been a coward, if I had just accepted that this is who I am and nothing would ever change that long ago, I could have done so much more,” she said, tears streaming unnoticed down her face. “I know I couldn’t have saved my parents, but at least I might have made them proud of me. I feel like I’ve disappointed them by ignoring my heritage, this gift my mother had and all the women before me. I turned my back on my family and I’ve paid for it.”

Mulder rose slowly intending to wrap his arms around her to comfort her, but his presence seemed to set her off again.

She backed away. “Don’t, please don’t.”

He cocked his head at her, letting his arms drop to his sides. “Susan, what is it?”

“I can’t feel you,” she said in a small voice.

“What do you mean you can’t feel me?” he asked, his face showing his confusion.

She quickly approached him, her hands on the sides of his head. She shook him for emphasis. “I don’t know what they did to you, but I can’t feel you.”

Mulder gulped. He thought that scared him more than what they did to him physically.

Suddenly Susan gripped his head tighter and he felt the pressure of her strength. She closed her eyes and concentrated all her energy on getting through whatever barrier was blocking her from him.

Mulder grimaced as he felt a stabbing sensation in his temples. He grabbed her wrists and pulled her hands roughly away from him. She fought him, not knowing the pain she was causing.

“Susan,” he said in a tight voice. “Susan please, you’re hurting me.”

Her eyes snapped open and they widened as she saw a trickle of blood seep out from his nose. She dropped her hands and backed away from him.

“Oh, God, Mulder, I’m. Oh God,” she whispered.

Mulder whipped away the blood with the back of his hand. “It’s OK, I’m OK.”

She shook her head frantically.

He took a step towards her. He stopped when she put up a warning hand. “Mulder, no, just, no, just go away.”

“Susan.”

She drew her hand across her brow to wipe away the perspiration that had gathered there. Why was it suddenly so hot? Why was the boat rocking the way it was?

In his weakened condition, he wasn’t fast enough to catch her as her eyes rolled back in her head as she fell to the floor in a heap.

“I NEED SOME HELP UP HERE!”

***

 

5:32 PM

July 5

At Mulder’s bellow, Michael and Scully came running. At first he was alarmed, but when he picked her up, Michael realized that nothing serious had happened. Her body had simply refused to function any more and she fell asleep.

Mulder theorized that she had used up so much energy doing whatever she did to Michael that she just needed some rest.

Still, Michael refused to leave her side.

***

 

Scully picked up the dish Mulder had just emptied and started to rise from her place next to him in bed.

He touched her hand. “Hey, that doesn’t need to go back right away, why don’t you join me?” He patted the space next to him on the bed and wiggled his eyebrows at her.

She snorted. “Mulder,” she said drawing his name out.

“Yeah, I know I’m not up for anything right now.” He stressed ‘up’. “But you look exhausted and I really want to know what’s been going on, how you’ve been,” he said conversationally.

Scully gulped, suddenly nervous.

Mulder didn’t see her reaction, he was too busy moving over to make room for her. “Come on,” he said lifting the covers for her.

Scully shook her head. “Really Mulder, I’m not that tired.”

He looked defeated and let the blanket drop.

“Mulder, it’s just that.” She looked down at her hands, they were clenched in her lap. She raised her eyes to his. “What I want to tell you., I just think one of us should be sitting up.”

Mulder gave her a look of concern. “What, what is it?”

She licked her lips. “Do you remember how I was feeling before you were taken?”

He nodded, suddenly afraid. He wasn’t sure he liked the direction this conversation was headed. “Yeah,” he said, his mouth dry.

“Well.” She paused and stood. “The night you went back to Oregon, I fainted again. This time in front of the lone gunmen.”

He sat up.

“They took me to the hospital,” she said, not looking at him, but over his shoulder. She was wringing her hands.

“Oh, God, Scully,” he said, a hand reaching out to her. “Please don’t say it’s the cancer.”

She quickly clutched his hand and sat down again. “No, No!” she said hoping to reassure him. “No, I’m still in remission. It’s not that.”

Mulder visibly relaxed. “Then what is it? Are you going to be all right?”

She gave him a rueful grin. “Well, the condition only lasts for about nine months.”

Mulder frowned, he didn’t get it.

“Mulder,” she said gently, her hand still clutching his. “I don’t know how to say this,” she said looking down at their joined hands. “Or how it happened.” She looked up at him. “Well, actually I’m pretty sure I know how it happened,” she said smiling.

He shook his head, confused. “How what happened?”

“Mulder,” she said licking her lips. She took a deep breath. “I’m pregnant.”

Mulder frowned. What was that?

She smiled at the look of complete lack of coherence on his face. She chuckled. “We’re going to have a baby.”

Mulder stared at her, not quiet believing what she had just said. He blinked slowly and shook his head. “Wait a minute, what did you just say?”

She grinned. “Mulder, you and I are going to have a baby.”

“But, but, I thought you couldn’t. The doctors said you couldn’t.”

She shrugged. “Doctors have been known to be wrong, except for me, of course,” she laughed.

“How can you be sure?”

She gave him a gentle smile. “A woman knows these things,” she teased.

He didn’t react.

Scully was starting to wonder if he was actually going to be happy about this. What if he didn’t want to have children? She suddenly started to have doubts.

She stiffened. The action did not go unnoticed by Mulder. “Scully,” he started, but she interrupted him.

“Without my knowledge, the doctors ran a pregnancy test, it came up positive. Don’t worry, only Skinner, the lone gunmen, Michael and Susan know.” She shrugged. “Well, now you know, too.”

Mulder knew he didn’t react the way she had wished, but he had seen her hopes destroyed in the past and didn’t want to see her hurt again. “What did the doctors say?”

Scully let go of his hand, with difficulty considering he didn’t want to let her go, and stood. “The doctor in the emergency room said many women who have been told they were infertile have become pregnant.”

Mulder pushed the covers away and attempted to stand. Finally, after much effort on his part he stood next to her. “What did the other doctors say, what about the test results, the sonogram, DNA analysis? What did they say?”

Scully bit her lip, but didn’t respond.

Surely she ran tests, searched every avenue of exploration. “You ran the tests, didn’t you?”

She shook her head.

“You didn’t run the tests?” he asked incredulously.

She shook her head again.

“But.,” he said with shock. “You didn’t just take the word of some guy in a lab coat, you had the results checked out.”

She turned away from him. He saw her brush a hand across her cheek.

“Scully, it’s not like you to just take somebody’s word for it, why didn’t you look into it yourself?”

She turned toward him slowly, her face wet with tears. “I was looking for you,” she said in a broken voice.

“Scully,” he said empathicly. “But how do you know for sure that you’re pregnant, how do you know everything is OK?”

Scully hitched in a breath. “Susan told me.” She ran a hand over her abdomen and kept it there. “I felt it, Mulder.” A slow smile crept across her face. “Susan showed me our baby and it’s beautiful.”

 Part 20

Mulder didn’t know how to respond to that, so he chose confusion. It was an easy choice. “What do you mean, Susan showed you?”

Scully sighed, suddenly weary. “You know what I’m talking about.” Her voice sounded as if she was trying to control herself. “She took my hand and showed me our baby.”

“How?” he asked, truly interested. “How do you know what you saw isn’t what you wanted it to be?”

Scully’s face turned hard. “Since when have you become the skeptic?” She took a step closer to him. “Why are you all of a sudden not willing to see what’s in front of you?” She lifted her shirt to show him the slight rounding of her belly.

Mulder eyes fell to the ghostly white of her stomach then returned to her face. He shook his head. “Scully, I have never seen you take anything at face value, why this?”

She let her shirt drop and Mulder could see her disappointment in him rise in her eyes. “Because I want to believe.”

Mulder’s mouth closed; he had nothing to say to that.

Michael, who was listening outside the door thought this would be a good time to knock.

By her posture, Mulder could see that she was waiting for a response, but he didn’t have one.

“Yeah,” he said, sitting on the bed. He scrubbed a palm over his face, looking down. God, he needed a shave. He would love to if not for the puncture wounds there.

Michael pushed the door open, his apprehension obvious. “Ah, Dana,” he said looking from Mulder’s slouched body on the bed to Scully’s erect form across from him. “Dinner’s ready if you still want it.”

Scully stared at Mulder for a moment longer before she turned to him. “Sure,” she said, trying to smile. “I’ll be right there.”

Michael pursed his lips and nodded. He started to leave, but Mulder’s voice stopped him.

“How’s the arm?” he asked, not looking up from his inspection of the floor.

Michael nodded. “Good. Never better. I think Susan even cured an old rotator cuff injury I got in college.” He smiled.

“How’s she doing?” Mulder asked.

Michael glanced at Scully out of the corner of his eye. “She’s all right, it seems,” he said nodding. “She’s sound asleep, even snoring.” He finished with a rueful smile.

Mulder snorted, but didn’t sound amused. His face remained pointed toward the floor, his eyes unfocused as if he was having trouble thinking. “Sleep,” he said getting under the covers slowly. “That sounds like a good idea,” he mumbled wincing in pain.

Michael watched Scully’s eyes narrow; knowing she’d been dismissed.

***

 

8:21 PM

After an almost silent dinner with Michael, Scully excused herself to check on Mulder. She wasn’t sure what she was expecting to find, but seeing Mulder sound asleep wasn’t it. Yes, she was overjoyed to have him there, but she couldn’t shake the sadness that plagued her as a result of his reaction. But, as she thought about it, it made sense. What did she expect? Mulder to fall down on his knees and thank God? No. Mulder to weep and take her into his arms and say they were the luckest people in the world? Not really. For him to smile and say that’s great news, I can’t wait to be a father? Maybe.

Scully sighed, closing the door and headed up on deck to where Michael was.

He had taken two folding chairs out of storage and set them up facing the sunset. There was a beer bottle on the deck next to him and a bottle of water next to the empty chair.

Scully smiled at his thoughtfulness and joined him.

He nodded his beer towards her before taking a long, deep swig of it.

“Susan’s still sleeping?” Scully asked, looking out toward the ocean.

Michael nodded, but she didn’t see it. “Yeah, I must have worn her out.”

Scully chuckled. “That’s probably true.”

“Mmmm,” was his response.

They sat quietly for many minutes watching the sun go down; niether of them having the urge to speak.

Michael turned to her, the color of the sky setting off her hair. She truly was a beautiful woman, even while she was frowning. “Dana,” he said softly.

She looked at him, an eyebrow raised in question.

He hesitated. “About Mulder.”

She looked down at the water bottle in her hands.

He reached to to lay a hand over hers.

“Mike,” she started.

“Dana,” he said squeezing her hand. “Give ‘im some time.”

“Time,” she sighed, looking back toward the ocean.

“He’s been gone for over two months, and has had horrible things done to him. He needs some time to adjust to being safe again.”

“Don’t you think I know that?” she asked harshly. “Don’t you think I’ve been telling myself that?”

Michael pulled his hand away. “I’m sure you have, but sometimes you need to hear it from someone else.”

Scully closed her eyes briefly before answering. “I’m just afraid that he doesn’t want this.” She placed her hands over her stomach.

Michael smiled at her insecurity. When he didn’t say anything she turned to look at him.

“What?” she asked.

He shook his head. “Dana,” he said softly. “I don’t think there is a man out there that wouldn’t be proud to know that you were carrying his child.”

She looked at him.

“Mulder loves you, very much, and will love your baby.” He turned his attention back to the sea. “When I found out that Susie was pregnant, it made me the happiest man on earth,” he said quietly. “Believe me.” He looked at her again. “Believe me, he will be ecstatic, just give ‘im time.” He rose slowly out of his chair, an expression of loss darkening his features. “I think I’m going to call it a night,” he said. “I’m just going to make sure everything’s OK with the boat first.”

Scully watched him leave, not saying a word.

***

 

8:15 AM

July 6

Michael woke to a soft knocking on the door.

Scully peeked her head inside and smiled. “Good, you’re awake,” she said pushing the door open, revealing a plate of eggs in one hand and a glass of orange juice in the other. “I woke up with an overwhelming urge for eggs and thought I’d make you some.”

Michael smiled his thanks and sat up. The movement caused Susan to stir. She blinked her eyes open and turned to see two sets of eyes staring at her. She looked down to make sure she was dressed, which she was, then saw the eggs. Her stomach growled.

Scully’s eyebrows shot up. “Hungry?” she asked amused.

Susan nodded vigorously.

Michael chuckled and kissed her forehead. “Help yourself.”

Susan pushed herself up into a sitting position and took the plate of eggs Scully offered in one hand and the orange juice in the other. Scully set down a knife and fork on the nightstand.

Susan downed the OJ in three large gulps and practically inhaled the eggs. In two minutes flat, she was licking her fingers and mopping up the remaining yoke with a piece of bread. She looked up to see Michael and Scully watching her. She looked sheepishly down at the empty plate then back to Scully. “You don’t by chance have anymore, do you?”

Scully grinned. “Yeah, I’ll be right back.”

Mulder was lifting a fork up to his lips when Scully took the plate out from in front of him. “Hey,” he protested as she dumped her plate of eggs onto his and picked up her glass of untouched juice.

As she passed him on her way back to Susan’s stateroom, she said over her shoulder. “I’ll make more, relax.”

Mulder mutely ate what was on his fork.

***

 

12:32 PM

July 6

None of them had dicussed the events of the previous night or Mulder’s rescue. They were all keeping apart from each other and the boat was eerily quiet because of it.

After she had eaten, Michael, Scully and Mulder’s breakfast, Susan jumped into the shower and brushed her wooly teeth. She then decided to maneuver the ship a little further north before dropping anchor again. Before their little trip to Camp Hero, they agreed to hang out at sea for a few days before venturing to the cabin in Maine. They thought it would be a good way to lay low for awhile and out in the open sea, even though it didn’t provide them much protection, they would know right away if anyone was approaching.

Now, while Michael was out on deck ignoring her warnings of putting on a shirt or wearing sun screen, and attempting to catch lunch, Susan was stretched out on a towel in a white one piece bathing suit, reading a book on the bow of the boat, her favorite perch.

She heard Mulder making his way up to her, bumping and cursing along the way. She marked her page and watched him walk towards her.

“Jesus, Mulder. You look like a cross between a consentration camp refugee and a cancer patient.”

He gave her a sarcastic smile.

“Thank God I’m wearing glasses or the glare from your legs would blind me.”

“Shut up,” he said sitting down next to her. He was wearing a white t-shirt and denim shorts. He was extremely pale and had dark circles under his eyes.

Susan shurgged and picked up her book again, intending to act as if she didn’t care that she had no idea why he decided to join her on the bow.

After a few moments, he spoke. “Scully told me she’s pregnant.” He wasn’t looking at her.

Susan put her book back down and waited for him to continue.

After another long pause he did. “She also told me that she didn’t have any tests done to verify it and to make sure the fetus was ok.”

Susan noted that he said fetus, not baby. “Mmm, humm.”

He looked at her. “She said it was because you told her everything was fine,” he said accusingly.

Susan frowned. “Why don’t you just cut to the chase and forget the bullshit, Mulder. Say what you mean.” She sat up.

He rubbed a hand over the wounds on his face, trying not to wince. “How can you know that everything is all right?”

Susan shook her head.

“Susan! Scully’s not supposed to be able to get pregnant! She had some missing time when she went off with Spender a few months ago. Isn’t it more plausible that he did something to her than that she got pregnant the old fashioned way?”

Now, more than ever, Susan wished that she could sense him. But, she didn’t need her gift to see that he wasn’t refusing to belive that his partner was pregnant, he was afraid They did something to her.

“Oh, Mulder,” she sighed. “For someone who readily accepts the unknown, you can be pretty thick.”

He blinked at her. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

She shook her head at him. “Mulder, I can sense if there are any kinds of abnormalities. I know if a baby is going to be born with birth defects. You should have seen me at the OB/GYN! My first time there, I had to have Michael reschedule my appointment because I couldn’t stay.”

Mulder frowned. “Why?”

“Because the woman next to me had a baby with an extreme birth defect that was going to cause the baby to be stillborn. When I asked her if she ever considered having an abortion, she freaked out and moved away from me. I knew there was no way I was going to be able to explain why I asked that question, and I was so hormonal at the time I broke out in tears. Michael had to practically carry me out of the room.”

“How do you know this? How can you be sure?” he asked emphatically.

Susan gave him a sad smile. “I had exposure to people with developemental disorders while I was getting my Psy.D. I have seen physical mutations and gentic disorders, I know what they feel like.”

He looked at her with such openness. “What does it feel like?”

Susan studied him before she answered. “Wrong,” she stated bluntly.

“And how does Scully’s baby feel?”

She smiled. “Perfect.”

 Part 21

“Perfect,” Mulder whispered. He looked at her for a few moments. “What does that mean?” he asked timidly.

Susan smiled. “It means that there is nothing wrong; everything, is right. Perfect.”

He nodded. “Are you absolutely sure?” he asked.

The hope in his voice softened her smile. She reached across the deck and lifted his hand in both of hers. “I am as sure of this as I am of anything,” she said in a strong whisper. She intended to show him what she felt, momentarily forgetting that she couldn’t sense him, but Mulder got the gist of it anyway. He didn’t need to feel what she was feeling, he could see it in her eyes.

“Thank you Susan,” he said, his voice cracking. “For so many things.”

Susan slowly withdrew her hand and shrugged self-consciously. “I didn’t do anything you wouldn’t have done.”

He nodded. “But I still owe you one.”

She waved her hand in the air.

“So,” Mulder said, changing the subject. “Now, along with sensing emotions and practically reading minds, you can heal.”

Susan looked at him sharply. “I can’t read minds,” she said pointedly.

He snorted. “I said practically. But you can read Michael’s and I’m sure with more practice, you’d be able to read others.”

She shrugged.

“You have almost all the powers of the alien bounty hunter.”

She narrowed her eyes at him.

“Can you change shape, too?”

She gave him a humorless smile. “If I could change shape, I’d have bigger boobs.”

Mulder barked out a laugh. “Your boobs are fine the way they are.”

“Yeah, but they could be better.”

He shook his head. “I like your boobs, and I’m sure Mike does, too.”

“He seems to, he can’t keep his hand off ‘em.”

“But I like Scully’s better,” Mulder said at the same time.

They both looked at each other, then laughed.

“I should hope so!” Susan said still laughing.

Without warning, Mulder quieted.

Susan sobered quickly. “What is it?”

Mulder looked away, out across the water. They could hear Michael struggling with whatever he just caught. He definitely cursed like an Irishman.

“Do you have a camera?”

Susan slowly nodded. “Yeah, we always keep one on board. You should see some of the sunsets out at sea.”

He nodded. “What about a tape recorder?” he asked, turning his head to look at her.

“I think, so, but I’d have to ask Mike. Why?”

Mulder struggled to his feet, momentarily losing his balance. “I need you and Scully to do something for me.”

Susan rose as well. “What?” she asked suspiciously.

He took her hand and pulled her along with him. “Let’s get Scully and then I’ll tell you.”

Susan had no other choice but to let herself be dragged into whatever he had planned.

***

 

“Mulder, I don’t feel comfortable doing this,” Susan said.

Scully didn’t say anything, just stared at Mulder.

“And I don’t think Dana is either.”

“Mul…” Scully started, but he interrupted her.

“Please, I need you two to do this for me.”

Susan crossed her arms over her chest.

“Scully,” he said turning to her, taking each of her hands in his own. “Please, we need documentation. You, of all people, should understand this. Just act like I’m a faceless guy who got the shit kicked out of him and you need to catalog his wounds.”

She stepped closer to him and released one of her hands so she could run it across his cheek. “You aren’t just some guy, Mulder. You’re my,…my.”

He smiled. “I know, you’re mine too, but you know we have to do this,” he said, taking her hand again.

Scully let her head drop and looked at the floor. It was a gesture of resignation.

Mulder looked up at Susan. “I need you on this, too.”

Susan tighten her arms around her body and clenched her jaw before she mumbled, “fine.”

***

 

“I’ll, uh, I’ll, um, just be outside if you need me,” Michael stumbled.

Susan squeezed his elbow and gave him a tight smile. “Thanks, love,” she said before she kissed him quickly.

He nodded and backed away. “I’ll, just be, um, makin’ dinner.” He closed the door, leaving them alone.

Susan turned to see Mulder carefully removing his shirt, revealing the ropy scar. Susan winced and looked away, her hand unconsciously going to her chest. God, she remembered what that felt like. She closed her eyes briefly, steeling herself for what she was about to do. She shook her head, took a deep breath and turned around to find Mulder watching Scully intensely. He had finished removing his clothes and was sitting on the bed with a towel draped across his groin. Scully was trying to act busy while she was setting up the recorder, but Susan could feel her apprehension and fear rolling off of her like hurricane force winds. It added to her own tension, causing her hands to tremble.

Susan crossed the room to the dresser and picked up her camera. It was a gift from Michael after she had mentioned that she had always wanted a single lens reflex camera. For the first time, she regretted buying the zoom lens with the marco feature; Mulder wanted close-ups.

Mulder looked from one woman to the other, taking in their drawn lips and erect postures. Out of all of them, he wanted to do this the least, but knew he needed to have photographic evidence of what They did to him. Scully taught him that.

“Hey,” he said trying to lighten the mood. “You know, when I fantasized about being naked with the two of you, I never envisioned it to be this way.” He gave them a half smile.

Scully shook her head, she knew what he was doing, but it wasn’t working.

Susan, knew what he was doing as well, but had to respond to that. “You know,” she said cocking her head. “What is it about men that they like seeing women together in a sexual way? Mike had the same thought.”

Mulder shrugged and sat up higher on the bed, clutching the towel as it started to slide down his legs. “Must be testosterone.”

Susan smirked. “Sure, I think it’s more like a deficiency. You do, after all, have one complete and one broken X.”

“Broken, my ass,” he mumbled under his breath. This was a debate he and Susan used to have all the time while they were dating. They just loved to get each other riled up.

“What was that?” Susan asked.

“Can we just get started?” Scully asked from the other side of the bed.

Susan nodded. “Yeah, sorry.”

Mulder laid back on the bed, straightening the towel.

“Mulder, lose the towel,” Susan said. “It’s not like either of us haven’t seen whatcha got.”

Mulder closed his eyes. “Yeah, but you haven’t seen it recently and after having my privacy ripped from me, I would like to have some control over the situation. Besides, they didn’t play with my jewels, at least from what I can remember. Thank God,” he added.

Susan nodded, understanding and raised the camera as Scully brought the recorder to her lips, her hand shaking so violently that she had to hold the recorder with two hands.

Mulder clenched is eyes tightly as he said over and over in his mind, “you’re safe, you’re fine, you’re with Scully, everything is OK. You’re safe, you’re fine, you’re with Scully, everything is OK.” Scully licked her lips ignoring the flashing of the camera. “This is Special Agent Dana Scully. The subject is Special Agent Fox Mulder, age 39.” She had to distance herself, so she fell back on years of practice and pretended she was doing an external exam, something she had done millions of times before. She just hoped she could pull it off. Not for the first time, she wished Susan couldn’t sense her.

Susan, for her part, just took the photos and blocked out Scully’s emotions as well as her own. Profiling had taught her that. Sometimes, she could sit for hours staring at a murder weapon seeing in her mind’s eye the last few moments of a victim’s death play over and over. She had to learn to block out that part of herself otherwise she’d go insane. She sometimes questioned whether she was truly successful.

“Agent Mulder was held for approximately two months at a medical facility located under the grounds of Camp Hero in Montauk, New York. During his imprisonment, Agent Mulder was subjected to unknown experimentation resulting in numerous scaring on his face, torso and extremities. I am assisted by Special Agent in Charge of the Melville Field Office, Susan Halloway, in cataloging his injuries.”

Susan looked up at the mention of her name. Scully was staring down at Mulder, her face ashen. Susan could see her body quaking under the strain of the moment. Scully looked up, noticing the flashing had stopped. The two women exchanged a silent glance, each giving the other comfort and strength.

They both nodded and went back to their duties.

“Agent Mulder has a large, long scar down his torso, starting at his clavicle and ending just below his navel caused by an unknown cutting instrument. There are four round puncture wounds on both sides of his face. Again, the instrument used to cause these wounds is unknown at this time. On each inner forearm, there are diamond shaped scars and on each wrist there are puncture wounds going clear through on both sides.”

Scully paused to take a breath. Her hands still shook badly.

“Subject also has puncture wounds going through each ankle and there are…” Scully stopped, her voice wavering. “Mulder,” she said.

He opened his eyes.

“I can’t do this.” Scully dropped the tape recorder on the night stand and took a step back. I thought I could, but it’s just… I can’t”

Mulder nodded and sat up, leaning back on his hands. “It’s OK, Scully. I think what you’ve done is enough. Besides, I think the photos will speak for themselves.”

Scully nodded, her eyes filled with tears. One escaped and drew a path down her cheek. She shook herself and took a deep breath.

Mulder recognized the action. She was drawing into herself. Mulder tried to convey with his eyes what his voice could not.

Scully gave him a soft smile.

Susan stood quietly off to the side, not moving. She didn’t want to interrupt whatever silent conversation they were having. But the spell was broken when a sharp wind rocked the boat.

Mulder took a deep breath and turned to Susan. “I need you to do me one more favor”

She placed the camera on the dresser. “Anything,” she said softly.

He smiled gently. “I know you can’t sense me.”

Scully drew in a sharp breath. She hadn’t known that. God, what else have They done to him?

“But, I know you can sense differences.”

Susan frowned, not understanding where he was going.

“Please, with your gift, see if you can sense anything that isn’t supposed to be there.”

Susan shook her head, still not understanding.

Scully approached Susan and laid a hand on her arm. “He wants you to see if you can sense any implants.”

Susan’s eyes widened. “What?” she asked incredulously. She hadn’t even thought of that. That’s what happens when you’re new to this whole conspiracy thing. “Implants, how the hell am I supposed to pick up implants?”

Mulder shrugged. “Just do that thing you do.”

“Mulder,” Susan implored.

He gave her a look of desperation. “Please,” he whispered. “Please.”

Susan felt like she was going to cry. She couldn’t deny him, but she was terrified of what she was going to see and feel when she searched him. She clenched her hands into a fist and stepped towards him.

“Lay back,” she said in a deep, but surprisingly steady voice.

Mulder did as she requested.

She stood next to the bed, her hands over him. She looked like a healer from some B-movie. She closed her eyes and wiggled her fingers before she brought them down onto his chest. Nothing, she felt nothing, just warmth and the texture of flesh.

She slid her hands over his pectorals moving toward his shoulders in a circular motion.

Nothing.

Up and around his neck she continued, over his face and around his head.

Nothing.

She ran her hands down his body, over his groin and down each leg.

Nothing.

Susan leaned over him and slid her hands from his shoulders to his wrists.

Nothing… wait, what was that?

Susan cocked her head to the side and moved her hand back up his left forearm. She frowned.

“What? What is it?” Scully asked.

Susan shook her head, not wanting to break her concentration. She ran her hand over the diamond shaped scar to the upper point. There! There was something different there!

Susan opened her eyes and looked up at Scully who had come beside her. “Here,” she said in a breathy voice. “Something is here that shouldn’t be.”

“What?” Mulder asked, the fear rising in his voice.

“I don’t know, but do you have a knife or something?” she asked Scully.

Scully looked alarmed but didn’t say anything. She just went to her black bag that was stashed in the closet on the far side of the room. She returned carrying a scalpel, a pair of tweezers and a bottle of alcohol.

“You sterilize the area, I’ll do the rest,” she said, pouring some alcohol on a tissue, then made her way into the bathroom.

Mulder didn’t protest, didn’t say anything, didn’t even move. His fear had him completely immobilized.

Scully came back carrying the scalpel away from her body. “Show me where.”

Susan shook her head. “No, I’ll do it.”

“You’ve never done anything like this before.”

“You’ll teach me,” Susan said taking the scalpel.

“Um,” Mulder said. “I don’t mean to interrupt, but you don’t by any chance have some thing to numb the area?”

“There’s no time,” Susan said, extending her left hand to Scully. “Give me your hand, Dana.”

Scully gave her her right hand. “What are you going to do?”

“Learn how to do this,” Susan stated.

Scully could feel Susan rifling through her mind. Flashes of medical school appeared before her. She saw an image of herself leaning over a cadaver, her teacher explaining the technique.

“You can do that?” Scully asked in awe.

Susan smiled at her. “How do you think I learned how to play the piano? You don’t think I actually have the patience for that, do you?”

Scully didn’t respond, just continued to watch a younger version of herself timidly cut into a cadaver.

Susan leaned over Mulder. “Hold your arm as still as you can, OK?”

Mulder nodded and gritted his teeth as the blade cut into his skin. It was nothing compared to the pain in his recent past, but it still hurt like a sonofabitch.

“Give me the tweezers,” Susan said, putting the scalpel down. Scully handed her the instrument and watched as Susan parted the quarter of an inch incision.

Susan closed her eyes, allowing her mind to guide her hand. She chewed on her bottom lip. A little to the right, a little higher. THERE! “I got it,” Susan said. As soon as she closed the tweezers around the implant and pulled it out of his arm, her awareness of Mulder came flooding back to her.

She opened her eyes and looked down at him. Releasing her hand from Scully’s powerful grip, she cupped Mulder’s jaw. “Hey there. Nice to have you back.”

“You can sense me again?”

Scully quickly began wrapping the open wound.

“Yeah, and I hate to say I missed ya.”

Mulder’s face broke into a smile that vanished as quickly as it formed. “What is that?” he asked nodding his head in the direction of the tweezers.

Susan looked at the implant, an expression of disgust on her face. “I’m guessing whatever it is was placed in you so I couldn’t find you.”

Mulder nodded. “Makes sense, but you did.”

Susan shook her head. “I didn’t do it, Dana did.”

Scully looked up.

“How?” Mulder asked.

Scully didn’t answer. She reached out, took the bloody tweezers out of Susan’s hand and dropped the implant into her open palm. “I think we should destroy this.”

“No, it’s the only real hard evidence we have,” Mulder said, sitting up. The abrupt movement caused his head to swim.

Scully shook her head. “I don’t care. For all we know, it’s a tracking device.”

“But.” Mulder injected.

Scully ignored him as she placed the implant on the dresser, picked up a shoe and smashed the tiny object.

Mulder just stared at her.

“It’s no good to us if we’re dead.”

July 6

9:02 PM

After that, they all decided that Mulder should try to get some rest while Susan maneuvered the boat further north, taking them that much closer to their destination. Mulder readily agreed and slept through most of the day.

Michael made them a small dinner from his catch earlier. They picked at it, not because of it’s lack of taste, which was quite the contrary, but because of their lack of appetite.

For some reason, Mulder and Scully avoided each other’s eyes during dinner and when Mulder announced he was going back to bed. About an hour later, Scully followed him. Susan refused to get involved in this one. She knew they would eventually work it out.

From their new position, as the sun descended into the ocean, Susan could just make out the light from the lighthouse on Martha’s Vineyard as she leaned on the starboard railing. “See anything good?” Michael asked, coming up behind her.

“Just a lighthouse,” she said.

“MMmm… Martha’s Vineyard. Ever been there?”

“Yeah, a long time ago.”

Michael nodded, but she couldn’t see it. He leaned into her and wrapped his arms around her, one arm above her breasts, the other around her stomach. “You’re avoiding me.”

“No, I’m not,” Susan said frowning.

“Yes, you are.”

“No, I’m.” Susan stopped and turned around to face him. He was smiling.

“Yes, you are,” he stated.

Her shoulders dropped. “OK, maybe I am.”

“Why?” he asked softly, brushing her hair out of her face. A breeze whipped it back.

She shrugged. “I don’t know.”

He gave her a look of annoyance. “Yes, you do.”

Susan wouldn’t look at him, instead rested her hand on his shoulder, where the bullet wound should be. “I guess you make me think and I don’t feel like thinking right now.”

“About what?” he asked wrapping his arms around her once again.

“Me, I guess. What this new development means.”

“Susie,” he said. “Why does it scare you so much that you can heal?”

Susan took in a deep breath and looked up into those beautiful, loving, blue eyes. “I’m starting to question what I really am.”

He frowned, not understanding.

Susan snorted. “It’s stupid really, but Mulder mentioned something earlier.”

“What?” he breathed.

She looked at him. “Mulder said I have almost all the powers of the shape shifters, what if I’m not truly human.”

“Susie,” Michael sighed.

“No, Mike, really. Maybe that’s why I lost the baby. We’re not compatible.” Her eyes were wet with unshed tears.

He cupped her cheek. “Susie, you have more humanity than anyone I have ever met. You bleed red, you cry tears.” He wiped away a tear that ran down her cheek with his thumb. “I truly believe you are the next step in our evolution.”

“Mike…”

“Susan,” he stressed. “You use 90% of your brain. An average person uses 10%. Maybe the cause for your gifts is that you and your heritage have touched upon something that no other human up to this point has been able to do.”

Susan looked down at the deck. “But what about the baby?”

“Oh, Susie, love. You’re the one who believes in fate, that all things happen for a reason.”

She looked up at him.

“It just wasn’t meant to be.”

“I’m just, I don’t know. I hope you’re right.”

He smiled slightly. “I am right. Now come on. Stop this.” She gave her a small shake.

She returned his smile. “I love you,” she blurted out.

He grinned. “I know and I love you too.”

Susan cupped the back of his head to draw him into a kiss. “Take me to bed, lover. Make me feel better.”

Michael released her from his embrace and laughed. “Oh, yeah, I’m sure I can do that.”

***

 

July 7

7:02 AM

Mulder startled awake, feeling confined, a warmth draped across his chest, keeping him in place. He looked down to see it was not a harness designed to immobilize him so They could do with him as they pleased, but Scully’s arm.

He sighed loudly and relaxed into the mattress.

Mulder’s movements caused Scully to mumble something in her sleep and roll onto her back, the blankets down around her hips.

He took this as an opportunity to study her; get a really good look at her. He propped himself up on his hand, the action forcing the pain in his chest to flare, but he gritted his teeth and ignored it. He didn’t remember Scully coming to bed the night before, but that didn’t surprise him. Since his ‘rescue’ he’d been sleeping like a dead man.

His eyes roamed over her fuller face, rounder breasts, to her swelling stomach. There was a baby in there, Mulder reminded himself. His baby. Unexpected feelings of pride, possession, fear, and love washed through him. He reached out to lay his hand on her belly and looked up at her face to see her watching him.

They exchanged silent words of love and longing in a span of seconds.

“Mine?” he whispered.

Her lips turned up. “Yours.”

“Mine,” he said leaning in, his lips brushing against her. “Mine,” he said again.

Scully wrapped her arms around his head, pulling him down on top of her while she savored the tastes and textures of his mouth. It has been so long, too long since they’ve done this, but it was as if they had never stopped.

“Love you,” Mulder said in between kisses. “Missed you.”

“Mmmm,” Scully agreed. “My prayers have been answered.”

Mulder pulled away. “In more ways than one.”

Scully flashed him a full faced grin. “I never gave up on you, Mulder, I knew I would find you.” She picked up his hand and placed it on her abdomen. “I had to.”

“Scully,” he sighed. “I want to feel it, I want to feel our child.”

Scully pulled him back down to her. “You will. We’ll talk to Susan, but not right now. Right now, I want to feel you.”

“Scully, I don’t think I can.”

She gazed at him fondly. She didn’t see the scars on his face, the remnants of torture in his eyes. All she saw was the man she needed more than air, loved more than life itself. All she saw was Mulder. “It’s OK, I just want to feel you around me. I missed that.”

He caressed her cheek. “It’s so good to be home,” he said in a broken voice. “So good.” Part 22

July 7

7:02 AM

Susan woke up alone and groggy. For a moment, she wasn’t sure where she was, but then she felt the boat and the sounds of Michael puttering around in the galley. How he got up without waking her confused her, but then again, after how tired she was when she finally passed out last night might explain some things. She smiled a wolfish grin and quickly got dressed.

Susan sauntered into the galley to see Michael standing with his back to her, cooking breakfast. He had a whisk his hand, making blueberry pancakes.

Suddenly, she felt as if she had been transported back four years.

During one of their fist cases together, she and Mike had gone out to dinner after a long day of paperwork. He asked and she was more than pleased to accept. They had a very comfortable evening, laughing and talking about anything other that work. To an outside observer, it looked as if they were on a date.

Afterwards, he drove her home, seeing that they left her car at the office, but she didn’t want the evening to end, so she asked him in, with no intent other than having a few drinks and sharing each other’s company What was only supposed to be an hour turned into four. He had a few glasses of wine and she knew it wouldn’t be wise for him to drive home, so she offered him her couch, and much to her delight, he quickly accepted.

The next morning, she came stumbling out of her bedroom with her robe tied loosely around her waist to find Michael standing in her kitchen, wearing gray wrinkled pants, the belt undone, a white tank style T-shirt and a towel around his hips. He was whisking eggs in a bowl and she could see the muscles in his back flexing with the movements of his arm. It had been a long time since she woke to a handsome man in her kitchen. Especially one as good looking as her partner.

She could literally feel all the saliva dry in her mouth.

He must have heard her come in the room, because he turned to her with a huge grin on his face.

Susan did not fail to notice his eyes slowly scan her body and the color rise on his cheeks. Even though her senses were not as honed as they were now, she couldn’t miss his emotional reaction to seeing her standing barefoot before him with tousled hair and in a robe that left little to the imagination.

“Mornin’ Susie,” he said still smiling.

She nervously brushed her hair out of her face and did her best not to blush. “Hi,” she said shyly. “Whatcha doin’?”

Michael’s grin widened. “I’m making you breakfast.”

Susan’s eyebrows rose.

He shrugged. “Thought I would repay you for lending me your couch last night.”

She smiled. “Whatcha makin’?”

Michael turned around to finish his task. “Blueberry pancakes,” he said spilling the mix into a pan on the stove.

How did he know that was her favorite, she thought, then frowned as she sat down at the kitchen table. “I had the ingredients for blueberry pancakes?” she asked, surprised.

He looked at her over his shoulder. “Well, no,” he said. “I went out to that small shop around the block.”

Susan nodded.

“I did check through your cabinets, though, if you don’t mind.”

Susan shook her head, you can check through my cabinets anytime, she thought, trying not to smile.

“The only thing edible I found was a can of dog food.”

She was surprised. “I have a can of dog food?”

He turned around with a plate loaded with the most delicious looking blueberry pancakes. “Yeah,” he said placing the plate in front of her and sitting down. “Do you have a dog?”

“No,” she replied picking up a fork.

Michael let out an amused chuckle. “Oh,” he said getting up, returning with a glass of orange juice. “I know you don’t drink coffee, so I got you some OJ.”

Susan smiled her thanks. “I thought I had some in the fridge.”

“Yeah, but it expired last year.”

She grimaced. “No wonder it tasted funny,” she said ruefully.

“Come on.” He gestured with his hands. “Eat up.”

Susan started to cut into the pancakes but paused to look up at him. He was watching her intently. “Aren’t you having any?”

He shook his head. “Nah, I made ‘em for you.”

Susan looked down, her hair hiding her reaction to his thoughtfulness. She loaded her fork and brought it to her lips. Her eyes closed as the taste exploded in her mouth and she couldn’t help a moan of delight. “Mmm, Mike, this is fantastic.”

He smiled triumphantly.

Susan dug in greedily. “You’re just going to have to spend the night more often.”

He gave her a sly smile.

“To make pancakes of course,” she added with her own smile.

“Of, course,” he said. “But I can do many more things.”

Her eyes twinkled. “I’m sure you can.”

Six months later, he was making her breakfast almost daily. And he wasn’t sleeping on the couch.

Susan was snapped out of her reverie when Michael turned around to face her.

“Mornin’ Susie,” he said, echoing what he had said a few years ago.

She grinned. “Hi.”

He looked at her queerly, cocking his head to the side. “You OK?”

Her grin expanded. “Great, you?”

He narrowed his eyes at her suspiciously. “Ooookkkk,” he drew out.

She just puckered her lips and nodded. “Good.”

He looked a her like she had six heads before he turned around to finish mixing the eggs.

Susan smiled. He was almost wearing the same outfit from years ago, but instead of gray pants, he was wearing tight blue jeans that hugged his ass perfectly. Two eggs in a hanky, was how it was described.

She licked her lips and decided she was going to do what she wanted to do that morning. She slowly approached him and slid her palms down his back to cup his ass.

He jumped. “Susan?”

“Mmm,” she responding, kissing the back and side of his neck.

He could practically feel the essence of sex radiating off of her, but he had no idea what she had in mind.

“Um,” he hummed. “What are you doing?” He knew Mulder and Scully were just in the next room.

“What does it look like I’m doing?” she purred as she placed her hands on his shoulders and forced him to turn around.

“Well,” he started, but was interrupted by her tongue in his mouth.

She kissed him hard and aggressively while she untied the towel around his waist. She released his mouth and took a step back, dropping the towel to the floor.

He stared at her speechless.

She smiled seductively and got down on her knees, folding the towel so that it was under her.

“Susie,” he croaked. “Mulder and Dana could come in here any moment.”

She looked up at him. “They’re kinda busy right now,” she responded and traced the shape of him through his jeans. Even though he was putting up a fight, he loved this. He was hard the moment she touched him.

The only sound in the room was Michael’s heavy breathing and the sound of a button popping open and the zzzzzzzzzzz of a zipper going down.

“Oh, God,” he groaned, bracing his hands on the counter behind him, his knuckles white. “Oh, God.”

***

 

July 7

8:03 AM

Mulder stumbled into the galley, followed closely by Scully. Michael was talking to Susan in hushed tones while she sat across from him at the table. He turned when she looked over his shoulder at the pair.

Michael’s color was high on his cheeks and his eyes were bright. Susan, on the other hand looked refreshed and a bit giddy. He turned back to Susan said something then looked again at them.

“I was, ah, making breakfast, but I, ah, didn’t.”

Mulder and Scully exchanged glances.

“I’m going to go do something,” he said before he rushed out of the room.

Mulder looked at Susan who looked like the cat who ate the canary, so to speak.

“You guys hungry?” she asked merrily.

They nodded.

“You’re making breakfast?” Mulder asked. She never cooked.

Susan came around the table and opened a few closets. “Yeah, go sit down.”

“What are you making?” Mulder asked, sitting down.

A box appeared before him. “Cereal,” Susan stated. “Bowls are in the closet and milk is in the fridge. Now if you’ll excuse me,” she said chasing after Michael.

Mulder and Scully didn’t move, just stared at the box of Cheerios.

***

 

“Hey!” Susan shouted when she was out on deck.

Michael turned around, eyes squinting in the blaring sunlight.

Susan slowed her steps as she approached him. “Where do you think you’re going?” she said in a sing-song voice.

He leaned into her when she was close enough. “We almost got caught,” he said in a harsh whisper.

She grinned. “But we didn’t.”

“Yeah, by like two seconds.”’

Susan chuckled merrily and traced a finger down his chest to circle his still erect nipple. “Thank God we know what buttons to push for each other, hummm?”

Michael enclosed her in his arms, lifted her off her feet and leaned back against the railing. “Yeah, thank God,” he said before he kissed her.

Michael carefully loosened his hold from around Susan and she slid slowly down his body. Not until her feet were back on the deck did they release their kiss.

“This is shaping up to be a really nice day,” Michael murmured.

“Hmm,” Susan hummed, her faced buried in his neck. “I would have to agree with you partner.”

“Too bad we don’t have the ship to ourselves,” Michael said, thinking out loud.

Susan stepped back and looked up at his face. “Yeah,” she sighed. She leaned over the railing, the ocean before her so calm it looked like one large sheet of glass. “If we were in Bali right now, we’d probably be screwing like bunnies on the beach.”

“Yeah,” he agreed, a smile spreading on his face. “That’d be nice.”

Susan chuckled. “Well, babe. We can’t always have the things we want.”

“Yeah,” he pouted.

Susan patted him on the ass. “We will have tonight, though.”

Michael grabbed her waist and yanked her to him. Susan let out a yelp of surprise that was quickly cut off by his lips.

***

 

3:04 PM

July 7th

Scully took one more look at Mulder before she closed the door. He had feigned exhaustion and went back to bed around noon. Before she let him sleep, though, Scully took his temperature. He was running a little high, but nothing to be upset about. He was taking the antibiotics she was giving him as a precautionary measure and admitted he was in a little pain, but didn’t need anything more than a few Tylenol. Scully doubted the validity of that statement not for the first time when he winced as he laid down on the bed.

Mulder knew he was caught. “I’m OK, Scully, really.”

“Mulder.”

He reached across the bed to pull the covers over himself and settled back down. “Yes, Scully, I hurt, but who wouldn’t?”

Scully sat down next to him, hip to hip. “I have stronger stuff.”

Mulder shook his head. “It’s not that bad and the Tylenol seems to be doing the job. Besides, you know I don’t really like taking pain medication.”

Scully pulled the covers up to his neck. “I know, but I don’t like to see you in pain when I know I can stop it or at least lessen it.”

Mulder gave her a lopsided grin. “I know, but I’m really fine.”

Scully caressed his jaw, his stubble like sandpaper on her palm. “You need a shave.”

He pulled his arm from under the sheets to hold her wrist. “I know, but I’m afraid to because of the puncture holes there.”

Scully looked into his eyes. “Do they hurt?”

Mulder looked away, a gesture not lost on Scully. He was going to lie. “Not really,” he said. He looked back at her. “I can deal with it.”

Scully let her hand drop and stood. “All right then, I guess I should let you get the rest you seem to need.” Her voice expressed her disbelief, but Mulder chose to ignore it.

He smiled falsely. “Thanks, Scully.”

She gave him a tight smile in return. “Sleep well.”

Mulder watched her walk away then turn back one more time before closing the door. He waited, forcing himself to count to one hundred before he threw the covers back and slowly got out of bed. His chest and arms exploded in a rage of pain and fire causing him double over half way across the room.

He took two gulping breaths then continued his way to the closet. Slowly, hoping to hide the soft squeak it made, he slid the closet door open. On the floor was Scully’s black bag. Crouching down and losing his balance on the way, Mulder opened the bag. He moved things carefully aside, knowing Scully would notice if things were out of order. He took out a bottle of pills and turned it to read the label: Vicodin. He popped the top; Scully hated the child proof bottles, and dry swallowed two pills. She cut open dead bodies for a living, had pin point accuracy with a gun, could force any man’s balls into his abdomen with a look, but couldn’t open those damn tops. Mulder had to smile in spite of the fact that the movement of those muscles sparked a pain in his face.

He quickly put the bottle back and closed the closet door. He hated lying to her, but he just couldn’t tell her how much pain he was in. She had too much on her plate right now and he didn’t need to add anymore. Besides, what she didn’t know couldn’t hurt her, right?

***

 

Scully ventured outside to find Susan lounging on the deck reading a book. She was wearing the ever present Mets hat, her trusty raybans, a red bikini top and obscenely short jeans shorts.

Scully knew it was going to be awhile before she could even think about wearing something like that again. She looked forlornly down at her tank top and loose shorts. She could see her belly beginning to puff out. She felt like a buffalo.

“You’re not fat, so cut it out,” Susan said not looking up from her book.

Scully hated when she did that.

Susan marked her page and put the book aside. “Mulder sleeping?”

Scully nodded. “Yeah,” she said looking around, her eyes squinting in the sun. “Where’s Mike?”

“Inside working on some culinary delight. He does that when he’s bored.”

“But it’s only a quarter after three,” Scully said.

Susan shrugged, getting up and leaning against the railing. “He said he was feeling twitchy and needed to do something with his hands.”

“Ahh,” Scully said, understanding. “That has something to do with what Mulder and I walked in on this morning,” she said grinning. “Or almost walked in on.”

Susan put her hand to her chest and made a ‘who me?’ face. “Are you talking about Michael and me?”

Scully’s smile widened.

“We would never do such a thing.”

Scully laughed. “Yeah, right, like Mulder and I wouldn’t make out on your kitchen counters,” she said, speaking of the time Susan walked in on them.

Susan smiled at the memory. “Yeah, something like that.”

Scully joined her at the railing. “Where’s Ruffus?” she asked.

“Up on the bridge. He doesn’t really like being on the boat and feels safer in the enclosed area.”

“What about when he has to.” She waved her hand in the air. “You know.”

“He usually lets us know. We trained him to do his deed off the edge of the boat.”

Scully grimaced. “That’s gross.”

She shrugged. “You asked.” Susan turned to look out at the water, she saw a dark object move just under the surface. “Hey, you want to go for a swim?”

“Nah, not really.”

Susan cuffed her shoulder. “Yeah you do, come on,” she said tossing her hat aside and unbuttoning her shorts revealing a matching bottom to her bikini.

“I’d have to go put on my suit and I’d wake, Mulder.”

Susan put her sunglasses on the deck chair. “No you don’t, you could just swim in your bra and underwear.”

Scully just looked at her.

“Well, when you make up your mind I’ll be below.”

“Susan, there could be sharks,” she said watching her climb up on the railing.

“Nope, don’t detect any.” And with that, she dove over the side.

Scully looked around. There was nothing in sight except the ocean and blue skies. “Awe hell,” Scully mumbled and pulled her shirt over her head. “I can’t believe I’m doing this,” she said as she stepped out of her shorts then joined Susan over the side.

“Knew you’d do it,” Susan said swimming up to her when Scully surfaced.

“Well, don’t you just know everything,” Scully said, treading water, slightly out of breath.

Susan just laughed.

“I expected the water to be colder,” Scully commented.

“Nah, it never is this time of year.”

Scully nodded then nearly jumped out of her skin when something brushed up against her leg. “WHAT THE HELL IS THAT?”

“What was what?” Susan asked, a face of pure innocence.

She felt it again. “THAT!” She started to swim back to the boat when Susan shouted out to her.

“That is the reason why I wanted to swim.”

Scully turned to see Susan pointing to something a few yards away from them. Scully’s chin hit the water when a dolphin flew from the sea and landed with a spectacular splash. Two others joined in the display.

“Oh, my God,” Scully said in awe.

“It’s something else, isn’t it?” Susan asked swimming along next to her. “I was struck dumb the first time I saw them up close.”

“You’ve done this before?”

“Yeah, it seems dolphins like me,” Susan said. “I guess it’s one good thing about my gift.”

Scully stared at her. “They can sense you,” she stated.

Susan grinned. “For years now, scientists have been trying to figure out how dolphins communicate, but failed to explore the notion of a language of sensation.”

“They communicate empathicly, kind of like what you do.” She sounded as if she had unlocked the key to the universe.

“Yeah, kinda,” Susan agreed.

Scully looked out at the beautiful animals playing in the sea. “Can you understand them?”

Susan shook her head. “No, they have an entirely different language than what I know.”

Scully didn’t know how to respond except by saying, “Wow.” Her arms continued to move about her, keeping her afloat.

“Wow is a good way to describe it.”

Scully and Susan tread water silently watching the majestic creatures swim about. Occasionally one would venture close to them and they would reach their hands out, getting a brief feel of their silky skins.

“Thank you, Susan,” Scully said. “Thank you for sharing this with me.”

Susan shrugged self-consciously. “Don’t mention it.”

After about a half hour, Scully and Susan decided to climb back aboard via a robe ladder that was slung over the side. Susan went up first to be greeted by Michael holding two towels.

“I was wondering when you’d come back up,” he said handing her a towel.

“Mad I didn’t ask you to join us?” she asked drying her face.

“Nah, I knew you’d want to show Dana by yourself.”

Susan smiled. “Thanks love,” she said leaning in to kiss him.

Scully reached her hand over the railing pulling herself up when she saw Michael holding a towel out to her.

Michael’s eyes flicked downward then back to her face; they were round as saucers. He turned his back quickly, holding the towel out behind him.

Scully’s eyes went to her chest. That was when she realized she was wearing a white underwear set, which was currently transparent. She blushed crimson and pulled herself all the way aboard. She quickly grabbed the towel and mumbled a thank you as she wrapped it around her body.

Susan chuckled. “I’m going to go rinse off the salt. If you want, Dana, you can use our shower when I’m done so you don’t wake Mulder.”

Scully nodded, looking down at the deck, her face still hot. “Yeah, thanks.”

***

 

7:34 PM

July 7

“He did too have buck teeth!” Mulder said laughing.

“Mulder!” Scully said, smiling. “I don’t want to have this discussion any more. “HE. DID. NOT. HAVE. BUCK. TEETH!”

Mulder sat back, his right hand covering his chest. He was trying not to wheeze, but the pain medication he had sneaked earlier was starting to wear off and he knew that Susan had to be picking up on his pain.

Michael and Susan exchanged a bemused look, before they each took a sip of their beers. They were enjoying the different perspectives of the case they were explaining, but their arguing was the most entertaining aspect. As for Mulder’s pain, Susan was aware of it, but it was centered more in the back of her mind. She was too busy watching them and maintaining a running radar of their surroundings. If she wanted to, she could focus on Mulder, but she was having too much fun and Mulder was such a good actor that Susan wasn’t really paying attention to his feelings.

Michael sat forward, his hands clasped around his bottle. “Here,” he said, getting the bickering partner’s attention. “I have a funny story.”

Susan looked at him. “You.” She put on being surprised. “Have a funny story?”

Michael grinned at her. “Fuck you.”

Susan chuckled and chugged down half her beer.

“Now,” he said leaning back, his arm behind Susan’s shoulder the other still clenching the bottle. “If I may continue.”

Mulder gave a go ahead gesture with his hands.

Scully nodded. “Sure, Mike, I’d love to hear a funny story.” She looked pointedly at Mulder. “That has some truth to it.”

Mulder didn’t take the bait and only grunted in response.

“OK,” Michael started. “I was still working in the Boston PD at the time, I think my third year in.” Michael nodded, his addition was correct. “Eddie and I, my partner Eddie McDonnell and I were doin’ a midnight. We’d just gotten off dinner and were in a sector car headin’ over to one of the projects when we got a 1013 over the radio; officer needs assistance.”

Susan was watching him fondly, sipping her beer quietly. She’d never heard this story before and was enjoying the feelings it was conjuring up inside him; a sense of nostalgia, amusement and a longing for the days of his youth.

“Of course, when a cop calls a 1013, every car in the city responds.”

Scully nodded. “Sure, I can understand that.”

“Well, apparently this guy just knocked over a convenience store and when the cop who called the 1013, tried to pick up a guy who resembled the description, he fired shots at the cop and took off.” Michael rubbed his chin, thinking. “When Eddie and I showed up, they were chasing the guy down one of the alleys. We decided to try to head ‘im off and got back in the car. Just as we got to where we wanted, we saw the guy shoot out in front of us. So, Eddie and I took off after him in a foot chase.”

Michael grinned suddenly, his beer forgotten.

“What?” Susan asked.

He looked at her. “I was just remembering Eddie.” He turned back to Mulder and Scully. “Eddie was no taller than you,” he said nodding his head toward Scully. “But out weighed you by like a hundred pounds.”

Scully’s eyes widened. “Was he fat or built?”

Michael’s grin grew. “Well, let me just say that Eddie’s favorite meal was four Big Macs.”

“Ooohh,” Scully said.

“Ouch,” Mulder winced. “Even I can’t down four, three maybe, but not four.”

Susan laughed. “Hey Mulder, sounds like Rodger.”

Mulder joined in her laughter. “Yeah, he does.”

Scully looked at them, confused. “Who’s Rodger?”

Susan groaned, remembering.

“Rodger,” Mulder answered for her. “Was Susan’s partner before Mike.” He smiled at Susan. “She hated him.”

Susan snorted. “Hate is too kind of a word. More like despised.”

“ANYWAY!” Michael interrupted. Despite his tone, he was smiling.

Susan put on a serious face. “Sorry,” she said trying not to smile.

Michael patted her thigh. “Eddie and I were chasin’ the perp with about four other guys behind us, when suddenly, next to me, I hear barking.”

“Barking?” Scully asked.

Michael let out a laugh. “Yeah, Eddie was barking! Whooph! Whooph!” He had to stop for a minute, he was laughing so hard. “He looks at me, as we’re running, still barking and I get the idea. I yell out to the perp ‘IF YOU STOP NOW I’LL CALL OFF THE DOG!!’”

Susan guffawed, while Mulder and Scully chuckled quietly.

“And the perp,” Michael said between laughs, wiping at his eyes. “Believed us! He actually stopped and fell to his knees, his hands up, yelling ‘JUST CALL OFF THE DOG! PLEASE MAN! I DIDN’T DO NOTHIN’ WRONG! CALL OFF THE DOG!!’”

They erupted in laughter.

Michael continued, barely able to contain himself. “We tackled ‘im and it took us nearly ten minutes to handcuff the guy because we were all laughing so hard.”

Susan leaned over and kissed Michael on the cheek. “Good story, Mike.”

He smiled, happy he pleased her. “Thanks, I can’t tell you how many times I used to tell that story at parties while I was still on The Job.”

“Why haven’t you told me that before?” Susan asked, getting up and finishing her beer.

He shrugged. “I don’t know.”

“Well,” Susan said putting down her beer. “I’m going to go up to the bridge and.” She suddenly let out a huge belch. “Check things out,” she finished and headed up the stairs.

Mulder laughed, watching her leave.

Michael was grinning. “I taught her well,” he said, standing.

Mulder turned to Scully. “Well, she’s definitely comfortable around you.”

Scully just shook her head.

***

 

9:52

July 7

Susan was looking up at the stars when Scully joined her on the deck.

“Where’s Mulder?” she asked.

Scully looked behind her toward the cabins. “He’s going through your video collection. He says it’s too quiet out here and he can’t sleep.”

Susan smiled. “I forgot he liked to have the TV on when he went to bed.”

Scully nodded. “It took me awhile to get used to it; around the time he was taken I finally didn’t hear it anymore.”

“Mmm,” was Susan’s answer.

The night was quiet, with a gentle breeze. The only sounds were that of the ocean and the clanging of a bell in the distance.

“What’s that?” Scully asked.

“The bell? It’s the channel marker.”

Scully nodded, a frown forming on her face, she heard a new sound. “What’s that?”

Susan’s attention was drawn to a roaring a distance away. “I don’t know,” she whispered.

The roaring grew loader. “SHIT!” Susan swore.

“What?” Scully asked in alarm.

“THAT’S A BOAT APPROACHING!” she yelled running toward the cabin.

“Why didn’t the ship’s radar pick it up?” Scully said running after her.

“I don’t know,” Susan answered, yanking open the door. “But I can detect them, meaning they’re less than a mile and a half away.”

Scully’s heart started to pound. “What are you getting?” she asked following her inside.

“They’re here for us.”

 Part 23

Michael jumped to his feet, the book he was reading fell unnoticed to the floor with a loud thud. “What’s going on?” he asked.

“Someone’s approaching,” Susan said as she made her way to the storage room.

Michael started to follow her, but she turned around, halting him.

“No!” Susan barked. “I want you up on the bridge. Raise the anchor and be ready to go when I tell you. I want to be in Maine by daybreak. No more of this sitting around shit!”

Michael resisted the urge to salute, choosing to nod instead and took off up the stairs.

Susan tore open the gun cabinet and took out one of the Sniper Rifles with the night vision scope and one semiautomatic rifle. She tossed the semiautomatic to Scully who attended to it like a pro.; checking to make sure it was loaded, which it was and doing a once-over to familiarize herself with it.

Mulder came up behind them, reaching between them to pick up another one of the rifles. Susan snatched it out of his hand, pausing for a moment while he still held it. The sounds of the anchor being raised went unheard as Mulder and Susan stared at each other.

Mulder knew he had been found out; he was in tremendous pain.

Susan’s eyes widened and a look of betrayal crossed her face. “You.,” she whispered.

“Susan,” Mulder started but she had closed herself off to him.

“Forget it, Mulder,” she said turning away from him and putting the gun back.

“Susan,” Mulder said again.

“You get your ass below,” she said before she pushed him aside.

“I can help!” he stated, following her.

“Bullshit!” she spat. “You can hardly stand.”

“But.,”

“Mulder! You do as I say or I swear to God you will never walk again!”

Like a wounded puppy, Mulder tucked his tail between his legs and headed toward the forward cabin.

Scully wrenched open the door to the deck and suddenly was pushed to the floor by Susan. A loud crack was heard and pieces of the hull behind them rained down on them. Looking over her shoulder, the hole was in the exact spot Scully’s head was seconds ago. She gave Susan a silent look of thanks.

Crawling on their bellies commando style, the women slithered across the deck to the port side of the boat.

“It’s darker than a witch’s ass out here,” Susan murmured.

“I can’t see a damn thing,” Scully agreed.

Susan poked her head above the railing and saw absolutely nothing, but heard the boat not too far off.

Scully raised herself up on her knees and aimed the semiautomatic rifle in the general direction of the sound of the boat. She let off a quick burst of shots then dropped back down. It was answered by bullets hitting the side of the hull.

“God damn son of a bitch!” Susan growled. “First my car, now my boat!” She shot up, her left eye scanning the area through the night vision scope. She caught the image of a speed boat racing past. Her reflexes weren’t quick enough to respond as she shot at air. “Fuck!”

“We’re sitting ducks out here,” Scully said, panting. Her heart was pounding in her chest and the adrenaline was pumping through her system. Again, she had a fleeting thought of how this was affecting her unborn child.

Susan sat up again, her head and shoulders vulnerable to assault. Scully watched as Susan closed her eyes and slowed her breathing. Bullets whizzed through the air around her, but she did not waver. She moved her rifle slowly to the left and fired.

A cry of pain filled the air.

Susan hunkered down and gave Scully a triumphant smile. “One down, one to go.”

“There are only two?” Scully asked, surprised. She was expecting more.

“Yeah,” Susan said sitting up again. “No more playing around. This ends now,” Susan said, leveling her rifle for the last time. She knelt motionless, barely breathing while she waited for the boat to pass by again. Susan screwed her eyes shut, silently asking God for strength before she squeezed the trigger. “Go,” she whispered.

The boat rocked forward as Michael gunned the engine just as an explosion erupted. The speedboat slammed into the channel marker making the night light up with a fireball.

They were safe, for now.

***

 

Woodland, Maine

The next morning.

True to form, they had made it to Maine by daybreak. Michael navigated the Anam Cara around South Lubec, Maine, past Pleasant Point and into the Passamaquoddy Bay. Then, they traveled further north past Red beach then northwest to Woodland. He did this all on no sleep, while Susan and Scully loaded their packs.

Mulder stood on the boardwalk waiting for the rest of the group to join him. Neither Susan nor Scully were talking to him. After the attack, the three of them had a rip roaring fight. Scully accused him of lying to her and Susan couldn’t believe that he was expecting her to keep quiet about it (he spoke to her alone a few minutes after she came inside).

Scully had taken the two rifles and was in the process of securing them when Mulder pulled Susan aside.

“Mulder, don’t even say it,” Susan said brushing past him.

“But you don’t even know what I’m going to say.”

She spun around. “Yes I do and there ain’t no way in hell I’m not telling Dana what condition you’re in.”

“I’m fine, Susan,” Mulder pleaded. “I’m just in some pain.”

“Some pain?” Susan squeaked. “Some pain? Mulder, you are jeopardizing all our lives by not letting us know that you can hardly stay on your feet!”

“How the hell am I doing that?” he asked, the anger raising in his voice.

Susan grabbed the front of his shirt. “Mulder, now that I’m aware of it, the amount of pain you are in is almost staggering. By your not telling us, we are in the position of not being prepared. We could meet some unknown obstacle and expect you to be able to carry at least some of your weight, and doing so, we are vulnerable. When we get up to Hedgehog Mountain, we have about a three hour hike. Are you up to it?”

Mulder started to nod.

“Bullshit! You and I both know one of us is practically going to have to carry you!”

“What’s going on?” Scully asked as she walked into the room.

Mulder looked down at the floor, running a hand through his hair.

Susan leaned back against the hall. “Go ahead, Mulder, why don’t you tell her what’s going on. You seem to have all the answers.”

He gave her a sharp look.

“Mulder?” Scully asked, crossing her arms over her chest.

“Nothing, nothing is the matter.”

Susan snorted and looked away.

“It sure as hell doesn’t sound that way,” Scully said, taking a step closer to Mulder.

“It’s nothing, Scully,” he said softly, turning to her. “Susan and I are just having a difference of opinion.” He looked at Susan over his shoulder. “Isn’t that right, Susan?”

Susan shook her head. “I don’t know, Mulder. Neither of us seem to be qualified to give any opinion. Why not ask the doctor.” And with that, Susan took hold of Mulder’s upper arm with one hand and Scully’s hand with the other. “Would you classify this as fine?”

Scully’s head exploded in white light as what felt like an ice pick stabbed into her temples. Her vision became blurry and her equilibrium was thrown off balance. Pain ran down her chest in a searing fire from clavicle to pubic bone, leaving behind a burning sensation equivalent to standing on the sun. Her stomach heaved in response and Susan let go before any damage could be done to her child.

“Susan, damn it!” He shoved her away, her back making contact with the hull. “Leave her out of it!”

She gave him a look that was dripping with venom. “You brought her into it the second you lied to her.” She turned on her heels and walked away.

Scully was doubled over, her hands on her knees, trying to catch her breath.

“Scully, are you all right?” Mulder said, reaching out to help her straighten up.

She slapped his hand away. “You know?” she said breathlessly. “I was wondering why everything was a little out of order in my bag, thought I was imagining it. Then I noticed some of the Vicodin was missing.”

“Scully,” he started.

“How much?”

He frowned.

“How much have you taken.”

“Scully.”

“HOW MUCH!”

Mulder looked down at the floor. “I don’t know. About ten.”

“TEN?” Scully looked away from him, her eyes turned up, centered on the ceiling. She shook her head. “Ten,” she mouthed. “Why didn’t you tell me?” she asked in a weak voice.

“I didn’t want to give you more to worry about.”

She gave him a humorless smile. “Mulder, worrying about how much pain you’re in is the least of my problems. At least that I know I can fix.”

He didn’t know how to respond.

“You lied to me, Mulder, and that is something you should have worried about. You know how I would react, but you did it anyway. I don’t know what to say to that.”

“Scully, it’s not as bad as you think. You just had it all at once. It’s a lot more gradual than that. I think I’m actually getting used to it.”

Scully shook her head sadly. “Mulder, that’s not the point and you know it. She turned and started toward the main room.

“Scully where are you going?”

“I need to do something.” She looked at him over her shoulder. “If you need anymore Vicodin, you obviously know where it is.”

Mulder watched her walk away.

Scully was fuming. Yes, she was concerned about how he was feeling, but right now that was overshadowed by her anger. How dare he lie to her like that? Did he really think he was protecting her by not telling her how much pain he was in? She could have helped him, done something for him. Hell, she could ask Susan if she could help him.

She stopped stuffing things in the backpack she was holding. Susan healed Michael, could she do it again? She shook her head, there was no time for that right now. They had to get to the cabin by nightfall otherwise they were in the position of being caught and they certainly didn’t need that. But, damn it! Had he told them sooner, they might have been able to do something. Now, they were faced with a three hour drive and a three hour hike with a man who could barely walk from the bed to the toilet without getting out of breath. They had faced tougher odds, but was their luck running out. ***

7:02 AM

“Which one?” Susan asked.

Michael scanned the parking lot. “That one,” he said, pointing.

“That one?” Susan asked, looking at him like he’d lost his mind.

“Yeah, it’s inconspicuous and it should be able to make it the entire way.

Susan let out a huff. “Maybe if you got out and pushed it.”

Michael smiled at her. “Trust me babe, it’ll work.”

Susan rolled her eyes. “Fine.”

The group made its way toward a beat up station wagon that was made around the time God was in diapers. “Are you sure?” Susan asked one more time.

“Positive.”

Mulder looked around. “What are you going to do? Steal it?”

Susan gave him an annoyed glance. “No, we are not going to steal it,” she said as if he was mentally retarded. “We’re going to buy it.” She laid her hand on the hood, trying to get a sense of the person who owned it. She would make a great party guest. Give the lady an item and she’ll tell you who owns it. After that, she’ll tell your fortune.

“Anything?” Scully asked.

Susan removed her hand. “Yeah, he’s a tall man about six feet tall. I’d say he weights about 200 pounds. He has a beard, and is wearing jeans, a dirty white tee shirt and a baseball cap.”

“You can get all that?” Scully asked incredulously.

Susan grinned at her. “No, just a sense of him.”

Scully frowned. “Then how do you know how he looks?”

Michael let out a chuckle. “Because he’s walking towards us, look.”

Scully turned to see a man just as Susan described heading towards them, probably wondering why they were gathered around his car.

“Can I help you folks?” he asked.

“You’re up, Luke,” Michael mumbled, a grin plastered on his face.

Susan ignored him as she stepped forward. “Hello,” she said. “We were just looking at your station wagon.”

The man didn’t respond.

“How much do you want for it?” she asked.

“It ain’t for sale,” he said crossing his arms over his chest.

Susan nodded. “Sure it’s not,” she said moving closer to him. “But I’ll bet three thousand dollars I can change your mind.”

“Three thousand dollars?” The man’s arms fell to his side, his eyes bulging out of his head.

Susan sighed. “Oh, OK, three thousand, five hundred dollars, cash, but that’s my final offer.”

The man stared at her, speechless.

Susan smiled and extended her hand. “Deal?”

He automatically took her hand and winced as her grip tightened. A tingling sensation traveled up his arm into his shoulder, crawling across his neck to the back of his skull where it changed into a rush of heat.

Mike already had the money in his hand, waiting for Susan’s go ahead.

“Deal,” the man said.

Susan grinned. “Thank you, Nathan. That’s very kind of you. By the way, when asked, you can’t remember how many of us there were or what we looked like.”

He nodded.

“All you can say is that you were too busy thinking about what you’re going to do with the money.”

He nodded again.

“May I suggest you talk to your wife about that pain she’s been getting. You may want to have it looked at.”

“Here you go, sir,” Michael said, holding out the cash.

Susan dropped Nathan’s hand.

He blinked a few times then turned to Michael. “Thank you kindly, sir.”

Michael nodded.

“I’m sure this money will come in handy,” Nathan said, stuffing the money in his front pocket, not bothering to count it. He then reached into his other pocket and handed Michael the keys.

“I’m sure it will,” Michael agreed.

Nathan regarded him for a moment longer before he turned on his heels and walked away as if nothing had taken place.

“Wonder how he’ll get home,” Scully pondered.

Susan shrugged. “I wouldn’t worry about it, he’s got tons of friends who work around here.”

Mulder just shook his head, taken aback by how overtly Susan’s been using her gift.

“Come on, gang,” Susan said watching Michael unlock the doors. They made a loud groaning noise as they opened. “Let’s get this show on the road.”

Part 24

8:42 AM

Route 1

Northern Maine

After packing everything they thought they needed into the back of the station wagon, along with Ruffus who was more than happy to be on dry land, they headed north.

Mulder watched the countryside go by from the back seat. They had been driving for about an hour and a half now, and his butt was starting to go numb. Scully sat beside him looking out the window as well, the space between them couldn’t be larger than the Grand Canyon. Yes, he could reach out and touch her, but she had never been farther away from him.

Susan was sitting in front of him, in the shotgun position, while Michael drove. He saw Michael hide a yawn behind his hand and Susan looked at him behind sunglass covered eyes.

“Love, if you’re tired, I’ll drive for a while,” Mulder heard her whisper.

Michael shook his head. “Nah, I’ll be fine, besides, you had as much sleep as I did.”

She smiled at him. “Yeah, but I’m used to it more than you are,” she said, reaching a hand out toward him.

He grabbed it with his right hand and laid it on his thigh. “Don’t worry about me, Susie, I’m fine.”

Mulder shifted, the Vicodin he took a few hours ago was starting to wear off, but he’d be damned if he took any in front of Scully. It would just add more fuel to her fire.

He looked over at Scully again. She had to know he was looking at her, she always did, but she refused to acknowledge him. Every now and then he would see her brush a hand across her cheek. Nothing made him feel worse than seeing Scully cry and knowing he had caused it. He said her name softly, but she wouldn’t look at him.

He ran a hand over his face, wincing as his callused hands slid over the weeping scabs there. God, he felt like a shit. It was obvious she had almost gone insane to find him; all of them had, and he was being dishonest and distant. Scully needed him now and he was doing nothing but driving her away. But if she had any idea of what They did to him. He shook his head. He didn’t want her to know, he didn’t ever want her to know how he screamed her name and begged them to stop. He didn’t want her to know that he offered to give them anything they wanted if they would just leave him alone. He didn’t want her to know that he cried every day and every night, cursing her God and everything that would do this to him and wondering why she wasn’t coming for him, and hating her for it.

He saw Susan out of the corner of his eye looking at him from the mirror in her sun visor. He couldn’t see her eyes, but he knew she was looking into him and could see his very soul. He stared out the window again, forcing his mind to go blank. He knew she had already seen what she needed to see, but the act of trying to think of nothing gave him something to keep himself occupied.

***

 

10:52 AM

Just South of Sheridan, Route 11

They drove north for awhile on Route 1, then west on Route 163. Everyone was starting to feel a little antsy so they decided to made a quick stop to refuel and get some snacks as well as use the facilities. As much as she hated roadside restrooms, Scully had to pee so badly that she was practically dancing by the time they stopped. As tradition states, Susan followed her.

Mulder got out to stretch his legs, but didn’t say anything about the two women going together to the bathroom. Just another sign that he wasn’t himself. He just watched Michael lead Ruffus over to some trees.

Susan was washing her hands when Scully emerged from the stall, feeling much better. She smiled at her in the mirror.

“Things are only going to get worse,” Susan said.

Scully groaned as she bent down to wash her hands. “Don’t remind me.”

Susan turned around and leaned against the sink, crossing her arms in front of her.

Scully recognized her posture. She had seen herself do it on a number of occasions. She met Susan’s unyielding gaze. “I am not in the mood for a lecture right now, Susan.”

Susan let her arms drop to her sides and sighed. “I’m not going to lecture you, Dana. But I thought I should tell you something.”

Now it was Scully’s turn to cross her arms over her chest. “Which is what?”

Susan broke eye contact to look at the closed door of the cramped bathroom. It was typical of many women’s restrooms on the road: filthy. This was one thing she never understood; how can women be so gross?

“Susan?” Scully prompted.

She returned her attention to the woman across from her. “I’m going to do something I vowed to myself I would never do.”

Scully frowned.

“I’m going to betray a confidence.” She took a deep breath. “Mulder’s not doing too well.”

“You don’t think I know that?”

“No, I’m sure you’re aware of it, but you’re choosing to ignore it. I think we were a little harsh on him.”

Scully started to say something but Susan held up her hand. “I’m not saying he didn’t deserve it, but.” She took a deep breath. “I think we need to cut the silent treatment with him.”

“I don’t know if I can do that right now,” Scully stated.

Susan nodded. “I know how you feel,” she said with a smile.

Scully allowed a small smile to cross her lips.

“And I guess it’s safe to say that I know you better than you know yourself.”

Scully wasn’t sure if she liked that.

“And I know you don’t like that,” she said as if she were reading Scully’s mind. “I know your reasons for being angry with Mulder, but.”

“There’s that but, again,” Scully said.

Susan shook her head. “You and I need to give Mulder a break. He’s been through more than you’d ever imagine.”

Scully took a step toward her, her voice a dangerous whisper. “You don’t think I know what he’s going through? Can you honestly say that I, me, the one who has nightmares about what they did to me? That I can’t imagine what he’s going through?”

Susan matched her stance and leaned down so that they were eye to eye. “Do you? You seem to have closed yourself off. The minute he didn’t start jumping up and down with happiness about your being pregnant, you closed yourself off from him, you’re afraid of being hurt.”

Scully’s eyes sparked. “You have no idea what you’re talking about.” Her voice was strangely calm even though Susan drew blood with that remark.

“Don’t I?” Susan took another step closer to her, now they were almost nose to nose. “That man out there, is the father of your child. He has been tortured, beaten and abused. You say you know what he’s been going through, but you have no idea because you won’t let yourself.”

“What the hell is that supposed to mean?” Scully asked.

Susan looked away, shaking her head. “You remember bits and pieces of what happened to you.” She looked back at her. “The nightmares you have are nothing compared to the reality he faced and is facing. He didn’t have the luxury of having his memories come back to him slowly or not at all. He remembers all of it because he was conscious the whole time.”

Scully’s eyes registered shock.

Susan nodded sharply. “You didn’t know this because you were too afraid to ask. You know each other so well, but you never talk. And you wonder why it took you eight years to get to where you are now.”

Susan was about to walk away, but Scully placed her hand on her forearm.

“He was awake the whole time?” she asked, her voice trembled.

“Oh, Dana,” Susan said, softly.

“I, I didn’t know that. He gave no indication.” Scully pulled her hand away from Susan to cover her mouth. Her eyes betrayed her horror.

“Dana,” Susan said taking her hand in hers. “I know he hasn’t, he’s been trying to lessen your burden. He was afraid it would put too much on you.”

“God, Susan.”

“Dana,” Susan said. “You’ve been so wrapped up in your pregnancy and his reaction to it that you haven’t even given a thought as to what he’s been through. And Dana, I’ve got news for you, you’re not the first woman in the world to get pregnant. I know you weren’t supposed to be able to, but you’re not the first woman to do that either. You’ve got to put things into perspective.”

“He said he was happy,” Scully said, her eyes brimming with tears. “But I was afraid he wasn’t being sincere.”

Susan took her other hand and gripped them tightly. “He is, BELIEVE me he is.”

Scully pulled away, turning her back to Susan. They were both quiet for a moment. When Scully turned to face her, there were tears streaming down her face.

Susan immediately took a step towards her, but Scully backed up, her hands out in front her in a warning gesture.

“Dana, what is it?”

Scully didn’t answer right away, but when she did, it was in a childlike whisper. “I’m, I’m afraid.

“What, what are you afraid of?” Susan asked.

Scully placed her hand over her abdomen, her eyes on her hand. “I’m afraid I’m going to lose it.”

Susan closed her eyes. Why the hell hadn’t she realized this earlier? Damnit, she’s supposed to be a Psychologist. When she opened her eyes, Scully was looking at her, her eyes begging for reassurance.

“Dana, all I can say is trust me. Trust me when I tell you that there is nothing wrong with your baby and trust me that I would say something if there was.”

Scully pulled in a shaky breath and nodded. “Ok, Ok.”

Susan smiled. “How about this. When we get ourselves settled, we’ll all have a little baby session. I’m sure Mulder would love to see what the baby feels like.”

Scully gave her a watery smile.

“All right?”

Scully nodded. “Thank you.”

Susan returned the nod. “Good, come on,” she said cocking her head toward the door. “The guys must think we ran away from them or something.”

Scully wiped her face quickly and followed Susan out the door.

Outside, they found Michael leaning against the wall next to the bathroom, studying his feet. He looked up when they emerged, squinting at them in the brightness.

“Hey,” he said.

“Hey,” the women replied in unison.

“I, ah, thought you would want to pick out what you wanted to snack on,” he said to Susan.

Susan nodded. “Sure,” she said. “Want something, Dana?”

Scully nodded, but she wasn’t really paying attention. She was looking past Michael toward Mulder who was sitting on the tailgate petting Ruffus, looking like a lost child. “You know what I would want,” she said, training her eyes on Susan. “If you’ll excuse me.”

Susan nodded, watching her walk away.

“Everything all right?” Michael asked.

Susan smiled at him. “Yeah, thanks. And what is this thing about me picking out what I want to eat?” she said, her arms crossed over her chest. Her posture showed one thing, but her grin showed another.

Michael shrugged. “I could kinda sense what you two were talking about, and thought they might need a minute.”

Susan shook her head. “Where did you come from and why aren’t all men like you?”

Michael smiled shyly. “Guess you just got lucky.”

Susan moved closer to him and hooked her fingers in his belt loops. “Very lucky,” she said as she reached up on tip toes to kiss him. “Very lucky indeed.”

***

 

Mulder looked up at the sounds of someone approaching in the gravel parking lot. He should have recognized the sounds of Scully’s footsteps, but she wasn’t walking the way she used to. Nothing was the way it used to be.

“Hi,” Scully said softly.

“Hi,” he returned, wary of what she was going to say, he eyes focused on his hand going across Ruffus’ silky coat.

Scully reached out to scratch Ruffus behind an ear. He was panting in the summer heat. It was hot, but nowhere near what it would be in the nation’s capital.

Mulder and Scully avoided each other’s eyes, feeling awkward and unsettled.

Scully sighed and looked at him. His eyes were focused on the ground. He looked as if he was half the man he used to be. Now that she was really paying attention, she noticed how thin he was. He was pale and sickly looking. The marks on his face stood out against his white skin. Stubble marred his drawn features, making him look like a vagabond. He was barely recognizable as the man she once knew.

“Mulder,” Scully started. “I’m sorry.”

He looked up startled. “You’re sorry, sorry for what? I’m the one who should be apologizing.”

Scully shook her head. “You have nothing to be sorry for. I, I.”

Mulder interrupted her. “Scully don’t. You don’t have to say anything. I should have told you what was going on with me.”

Scully placed her hand over Mulder’s hand that was resting on Ruffus. “I should have asked.”

They stared at each other, neither wanting to continue.

“Scully,” Mulder sighed, turning his hand around so he could lace his fingers with hers. “I just, I’m having a hard time knowing where I fit in right now.”

“Mulder,” Scully said.

“Scully, please let me say this.”

She took a deep breath, nodding her head.

“I feel like a third wheel, just following the leader. You, Michael and Susan are getting along so well, I often wonder where I come in.”

“Mulder, you belong right beside me.”

Mulder sighed. “You don’t get it, do you?”

Scully took a step forward and took both of his hands. She shook them as she spoke. “Then tell me, tell me what’s going on. Please.”

“You and Michael are getting along like old friends. You and my ex-girlfriend are closer than I could ever imagine. I guess I’m just feeling like a third wheel.

“Mulder.”

“Scully, who was the first person you told you were pregnant?”

Scully frowned, hesitating. “Skinner,” she whispered.

He winced. “Our boss was the first person to know.”

“Mulder, I had to tell him.”

“I know you did, but that should have been me. I should have been there, not on an alien ship.”

“But you didn’t go willingly.”

“Didn’t I?” he asked, tears streaming down his face. “I left you in Washington, when I knew you weren’t feeling well to investigate a downed alien aircraft. I LEFT YOU! Why you don’t hate me is a wonder.”

“Mulder, I could never hate you, I love you,” Scully said, her voice wavering. “You gave me this miracle.” She took his hand and placed it on her stomach. “Without you I would never have this.”

Mulder closed his eyes, defeated. He had no more energy to do this, so he gave in and leaned forward, his forehead coming to rest on her shoulder. She felt his body shake as she heard a sob escape from him. From next to him, Ruffus whined and tried to burrow his nose into Mulder’s side. Scully wrapped her arms around his shoulders holding him as he cried, tears streamed down her face unnoticed.

Susan and Michael exchanged a look.

“Maybe we should give them a few more minutes,” Michael said.

Susan chewed on her lip then looked down at her watch. “I don’t know, we wanted to get there by sundown, we’re already racing against the clock and it’s going to be a longer hike with Mulder not up to par.”

Michael sighed. “I know, but I hate to interrupt them.”

She shrugged. “Well, we gotta get going.”

***

 

1:05 PM

Rest area, just south of Hedgehog Mountain

“Here Mulder,” Michael said tossing a shirt to him. “Put this on.”

“What’s this for?” he asked looking down at the fabric he held in his hand.

“Where we’re going, there really isn’t a trail, you’re going to need to cover up so you don’t get scratched all to hell,” Susan said before she pulled her T-shirt over her head, not feeling self-conscious at all in her bra and jeans nor caring who could see her considering they were in a public picnic area.

“But it’s hot,” he whined. His breakdown in the parking lot and the quiet ride had made him feel one hundred percent better.

Susan said something, but it was muffled by the shirt she was putting on over her head.

Scully was already dressed and ready to go with Ruffus panting excitedly next to her. It seemed as if he knew where they were going and couldn’t wait to get moving.

Mulder took off the T-shirt he was wearing, revealing the evidence of his torture. He saw, out of the corner of his eye, Scully turn away, pretending to find something interesting in the grass, but when he looked toward Susan, she was staring at him with a critical eye. She softened, but he could see a steelness settle over her as her eyes went hard.

They stowed the car in a pile of brush off the side of the road after they unpacked all their gear. Michael was going to carry the brunt of the load with Susan carrying the rest. Scully was to carry their water and food while Mulder was to carry himself. He protested, but Scully silenced him with a look. One thing each did have was a gun. Michael and Susan lugged shotguns while Mulder and Scully each had a rifle. Just in case.

Ruffus led the way as they started into the forest toward McKeen Lake, about twenty miles south of the Canadian border.

***

 

The agents were about two hours into the hike when they decided to stop. Mulder was making a good effort, but you didn’t need Susan’s extra sense to see that he wasn’t faring too well.

“Mulder, do you think you’re going to be able to make it?” Scully asked.

He was huffing and puffing as if he had just run ten miles. “I don’t know, but I have to, don’t I?”

Scully furrowed her brows, looking away toward Ruffus. He was impatient and annoyed that they had stopped.

“Mulder,” she said looking back at him. “We can stop now and go back, if that’s what you want.” She smiled. “I mean, I wouldn’t want you to feel left out of the decision process.”

He cracked a tired smile. “No, you guys seem to know what you’re doing, I’ll go along for now. You’ll know when I don’t agree.”

She snorted. “I’m sure we will.”

He grinned. Yeah, they were going to make it. Now, he just had to play his part, as well.

Susan swiped a hand over her forehead She was soaking wet and loving it. She hadn’t been out for a run in weeks and her body was begging for it. She could feel her muscles screaming for use, but she had to maintain a steady pace for the rest of the group. Michael should try running, but he hated it. Only Ruffus, who jogged with her every day knew how she was feeling. She looked up when he half howled half barked at them to get a move on.

“Thirsty?” Michael asked, coming to sit next to her on a log.

She took the water bottle he offered, took a brief swig then whistled for Ruffus. She poured it out while he drank from the stream.

“Ready to get going again?” she asked.

“I am, but I don’t know how Mulder’s going to make it. We have a few hours ahead of us.”

“Mmm,” Susan answered. “We thought of every scenario, but didn’t take into consideration Mulder’s state when we found him.”

They were watching Mulder and Scully sitting a few yards away sharing a bottle of water and eating a cereal bar.

“How’re they doing?” Michael asked with a bump of his shoulder against hers.

“They’re on their way to recovery,” Susan responded fondly.

“Things’ll get better when we get to the cabin. Everyone will get a chance to relax a bit.”

Susan let out a huff.

“What?” he asked turning to her.

“I doubt I’ll be able to really relax, I have to keep a constant surveillance of the area,” she stated.

He shrugged. “You can do that and relax at the same time.”

Susan leaned against him, a smile on her face. “Yeah, but I’m really looking forward to taking a dip in the lake.” She wiped her hand over her forehead again.

He unconsciously did the same. “Yeah, it’s hotter’en hell, eh?”

“And us with no air conditioning at the cabin.”

“You mean no electricity, don’t you?”

“God, why did we put this place in the middle of nowhere?” Susan asked.

“Because of your paranoia and your concerns over this so called invasion that’s supposed to take place,” Michael said.

Susan turned her body to look at him, to find him smiling at her. His hair was soaking wet causing it to curl on the ends. It appeared darker than it really was and a sheen of sweat covered his handsome face. God, if they were alone, she’d tackle him right here in the woods. It’s not as if they hadn’t done that before.

Michael, who could sense her growing arousal, purposefully thought about previous encounters.

A slow flush rose over Susan’s face and Michael smiled devilishly.

“God, you do not fight fair,” she said in a husky voice.

Michael’s grin widened. “What, you don’t think I want to take you right now and.”

“How much farther do we have to go?” Scully asked.

Michael and Susan jumped.

“What?” Scully asked.

“Nothing,” Susan mumbled.

“We have about another two to three hours of hiking left if we keep up this pace,” Michael said, looking up at her.

Mulder groaned behind them.

Scully half turned to look behind her. “Well, if we expect to get there before sundown, we’d better get going, but I don’t know how much longer Mulder will last.”

While she spoke, he came up behind her. “I’ll make it, don’t worry about me.”

Michael and Susan studied him for a moment before they both stood.

“Mulder,” Scully sighed.

“Scully really, I’m not faking it. I’m worn out, but I’m doing all right.”

She looked at him for almost a full minute before she nodded. “Fine, let’s go then.”

***

 

5:30 PM

One and one half mile east of McKeen Lake

Mulder tripped over a root, but Michael grabbed his elbow before he had a chance to go down.

“You all right, man?” Michael asked as he helped right him.

“Yeah,” he breathed out, shaking Michael’s hand loose. Leaning over, his hands on his knees, he let his head hang down.

“Mulder?” Scully asked. “What’s the matter?”

“My, my,” he said, out of breath. “My chest hurts.”

“What’s going on?” Susan asked, coming up besides him.

“He says his chest hurts,” Michael stated.

“Mulder, tell me what it feels like,” Scully said.

“Like,” he said. “Like I was running at top speed in zero degree weather.”

“Is your mouth watering?” Scully asked.

“Yeah,” he said. “And I think I’m wheezing.”

“He’s having an asthma attack?” Michael asked.

“I don’t have asthma.”

Susan knelt down in front of him. “We only have a little more to go, do you think you can make it?”

He looked at her, still doubled over. The redness of his eyes and the flush of his face answered his question. She could feel his pain and the burning in his chest.

“All right, Mulder, this is what I’m going to do.” She looked up at Michael then over to Scully; her fear and helplessness was radiating off of her so much that she was sure Michael could pick it up, too. “Michael obviously can’t carry you the rest of the way, so I’m going to try something.”

Scully gave her a sharp look.

“I didn’t try it earlier, because I don’t know how long I can hold it.”

“What, what are you going to do?” he asked. His breathing hadn’t gotten any better.

“I’ve only done this once and it was with Michael. My link with him is strong, and I no longer have one with you, so I think it’s going to be a lot harder to hold.”

“Susan,” Michael said. “Are you sure you should do this?”

“Don’t worry love, I wouldn’t try it if I wasn’t sure.”

“What are you going to do?” Scully asked this time.

She looked at her out of the corner of her eye. “Mulder, I’m going to try to share some of your pain. It should lessen your burden making it easier for you to finish the hike.”

“How are you going to do that?” he asked. He still couldn’t believe how strong she had become in such a short period of time.

“But, Susan, aren’t your afraid it’s going to slow you down, too?” Scully asked. She wasn’t sure she liked this scenario. She wanted to be the one to help him. She didn’t like the idea of being on the sidelines when it came to helping Mulder.

“No,” Susan answered. “I’m a hell of a lot stronger than Mulder right now and my endurance has always been stronger than his.”

“Now you rub it in my face,” he said with a weak laugh. “When I can’t defend myself.”

She smiled. “Mulder, I want you to look at me, center all your attention on my eyes, OK?”

He nodded.

She reached out to cup his face, the scabs were starting to blend in with his stubble. “Take a deep breath and release it slowly. When you do, you should notice that it’s a lot easier to breath.”

Mulder did as she asked and found the tightness and burning starting to recede. It wasn’t all gone, but it was tolerable, almost non-existent.

Scully saw Susan wince and lose her balance before she quickly righted herself.

“Better?” Susan asked, her voice sounding slightly strained.

“Yeah,” Mulder said. Susan’s hand fell away as he stood up straight. “I feel pretty good, actually.

“Good, come on then, let’s get going,” Susan said, standing, acting as if nothing was wrong.

“Are you Ok?” Scully asked.

“Yeah, don’t worry about me, I could probably run the rest of the way and be Ok.”

Scully gave her doubtful look.

“Really, I’m fine.” She looked at Michael who was watching her with his hands crossed over his chest.

“Jesus, Susan,” Mulder said. “Scully and I should keep you around for all the times she hurts herself.”

“Me?” Scully almost shouted. “You’re the one who’s been winding up in the hospital after almost every case this year!”

Mulder smiled at her. “Those don’t count.”

“Don’t count, what world do you live on?”

“Don’t even get me started, Scully. I don’t want to remind you of all the times you’ve been knocked on the head.” He started to walk away with an almost spring in his step.

“Mulder,” Scully said, chasing after him. “Need I count all the times I had to sit next to you in a hospital bed. Do tobacco beetles ring a bell?”

Their voices started to fade as they headed away from Michael and Susan.

Susan started to follow them, but Michael stopped her with a hand on her arm. “I thought you were going to share his pain, not take almost all of it.” He did not look pleased.

“Mike, relax. It’s not that bad once you get used to it.”

He frowned. “You know you can’t lie to me.”

Susan licked her lips. “Fine, yes it does hurt and yes I feel like I’m having a very hard time breathing, but I know that it’s only in my head. I’m not really in pain,” she explained. “I just have to keep reminding myself of that.”

Michael did not like this one bit and she knew it, but there was nothing he could do about it. Arguing with her was a waste of time. “Fine, but don’t even think about going at the same pace you were before. We can lag behind. Ruffus knows the way, he can lead them.”

Any energy she had the last time they stopped was gone and she was in no shape to argue with time. “All right, love. We’ll stroll if that will make you happy.”

He nodded.

“But, I don’t think we should slow our pace too much.”

“Why’s that?”

“Because we have a visitor at the cabin.

 Part 25

Michael frowned at her. “Who’s at the cabin?” he asked.

She gave him a toothy grin. “Who else knows about this place?”

His frown deepened. “Who else knows about this…” Michael let his head roll back on his shoulders. “Awe man!” He practically stamped his feet. “What’s he doing here?”

Mulder and Scully, noticing that Michael and Susan weren’t with them turned around and headed back toward them. Ruffus yelped his disapproval.

“I don’t know what he’s doing here. I can’t get a good lock on him, maintain a hold on Mulder’s pain and keep a surveillance of the area without dropping something.”

“Somebody’s at the cabin?” Mulder asked coming up beside Michael.

He ignored her. “Then stop surveying the area for a minute and focus on him”

“WHO?” Mulder asked.

They turned to him, as if they hadn’t realized he was there.

“Who’s at the cabin?” Scully asked.

Michael sighed. “My brother, Ryan.”

“And this is a problem?”

Susan nodded. “Yeah, he’s a nosy sonofabitch. No offense, Mike.” He nodded.

“And he’s going to want to know basically every detail about why we’re here.”

“So, tell him the truth,” Mulder offered. “I was abducted by aliens, turned over to a covert faction of our government that is attempting to make super soldiers who have empathic abilities like you.”

Scully raised her eyebrows at him. “Super soldiers?” she asked. “Do you know how ridiculous that sounds?”

He shrugged. “They want someone who is tough like Xena.”

Susan and Scully just stared at him.

“But I know you two can kick her ass.”

Susan and Scully exchanged grins, then turned back to Mulder. “Damn straight!” they agreed.

“Excuse me,” Michael interjected. “Can we get back to the point?”

Still smiling, Susan turned to him. “Sorry,” she said, not sounding sorry at all.

Michael shook his head at her.

“So what are we going to tell him?”

Susan was looking in the direction of a plume of smoke. “He’s cooking,” she stated.

The agents turned in that direction. They all heard Mulder’s stomach growl and chuckled.

“Hey, I’m hungry,” he said defensively.

Scully smiled at him fondly.

“You know,” Susan said squinting. “From what I’m getting, I don’t think he’ll really care why we’re here.”

Michael touched her arm. “You got ‘im?”

“Yeah, just for a moment, I don’t like not knowing what’s around us, but yeah, I got a pretty good focus on him.”

“What are you getting?” Scully asked.

Mulder was watching the action, still not believing Scully was so accepting of Susan’s gift. Skeptic turned believer? Was it possible?

“He is not very happy.”

“Why?” Michael asked.

“Molly threw him out,” she said.

“Who’s Molly?” Scully asked.

She looked at her, a sad expression on his face. “His wife.”

***

 

7:20 PM

“HEY STRANGER!” Michael shouted toward the figure at a brick barbecue.

He turned around in surprise, nearly sacrificing his burger to the hamburger gods. “Mikey?”

Scully and Mulder turned to each other. “Mikey?” he asked. Scully just gave him an amused upturn of her lips.

Susan leaned into them. “I know, I had the same reaction the first time I heard it, too.”

The brothers embraced in the fashion only known to ‘manly men’. Crotches were a specific distance apart so that only their upper bodies touched. They gave each other the customary three pats on the back before they moved away. Michael could smell alcohol on his breath.

“Susan?” Ryan asked as he stepped aside. If one didn’t know that Ryan was Michael’s brother, they would have sworn he was an older twin. He looked almost exactly like Michael, except that Ryan had gray hair at his temples and his eyes weren’t as bright as Michael’s. As a matter of fact, at closer inspection, they didn’t really look that alike. Ryan’s face was slightly flushed and puffy and his eyes were a dull blue and red rimmed. His hands trembled at his sides as if he wasn’t sure what to do with them. He had all the tell tale signs of a life long drinker.

She smiled. “Good to see you again,” she said.

“Yeah,” he said without much enthusiasm. “Who are your friends?”

Mulder and Scully stepped forward, introducing themselves.

Releasing Mulder’s handshake he asked. “What happened to your face?”

Mulder glanced at Scully then back to Ryan. “So, I have a big nose, I was born this way.”

Susan smiled, shaking her head.

Ryan was about to respond, but Michael stepped in. “So, Ryan, what’cha cookin’?”

“Huh?” he asked.

“What are you cooking? Got enough for the rest of us?”

“Yeah, I got more back in the cabin. Why don’t you guys stow away your gear and I’ll put more burgers on the grill.”

They all nodded and followed Ryan toward the cabin.

The cabin was just that, a cabin. Nothing fancy, just a wooden structure. Now, the view, that was something altogether different. The cabin sat in a valley surrounded by white capped mountains, high enough to maintain their snow covered peaked throughout the summer. About 30 yards from the front porch was a deck and lake McKeen.

“How long you been here?” Michael asked.

Ryan didn’t look at him. “About two days. I’ve got the room in the back,” he said. “I’ll move out if you want.”

Susan and Michael looked at each other as if to ask ‘what is going on?’

“No, that’s all right,” Michael said. “Dana, why don’t you guys take the other room, Susie and I’ll take the bed in the back.”

“It’s back this way,” Ryan said, leading them.

The cabin had two bedrooms, each with a full size bed, a living room with a full size bed off toward the back of the cabin, and a kitchen. The ‘facilities’ were out in an outhouse, which Susan despised. There was an outdoor shower for the summer and a large bathtub for the winter. Supplies and canned food were kept under the cabin in a crawl space along with enough weaponry and ammunition to keep any invaders back. The supplies were flown in via helicopter by a friend of a friend who doesn’t ask questions as long as you’ve got the cash. Water came from a pump in the back and heat was provided by a wood burning stove in the kitchen (also serving as their stove in the winter) and a fireplace in the living room. Nothing fancy, just practical.

“What’s this?” Michael asked Ryan as he came into the kitchen. Michael was holding up an empty whiskey bottle.

“Fuck off,” Ryan told him.

Michael just nodded. “So what, she throw you out. again?”

Ryan looked at him through his eyebrows. “I said Fuck off.”

“Jesus Christ, Ryan, you were just about to hit your two year anniversary of sobriety! What the hell’s the matter with you?”

Ryan just looked at him.

“God man, if you were having trouble, you coulda called me.”

Ryan snorted. “I did, but you weren’t home.”

Michael ran a hand over his face. Of course he wasn’t home, he was out hunting for Mulder. “Well, you coulda called my cell phone.”

He huffed out a laugh. “Yeah, I guess I coulda done that, I musta forgot.”

“What happened?”

Ryan shook his head. “Down sizing.”

Michael tisked. “Ryan, you know Susie and I would do anything to help you with Molly and the kids.”

“I don’t want your fuckin’ help supporting my family.”

“What’s the smell?” Scully asked coming into the room. “Is something burning?”

“Shit!” Ryan swore, taking off outside where his burgers were cooking.

Michael picked up the rest of the package that was sitting in a cooler beside the kitchen table and followed him out.

Susan didn’t really do anything with their packs, but throw them on the bed. She’d let Michael take care of it later. He’d only rearrange everything, anyway. With a deep breath, she allowed herself to fall back on the couch. A cloud of dust puffed out causing her to cough, worsening the ache in her chest.

Mulder and Scully watched Michael and Ryan argue out by the barbecue. They were almost to the point of pushing each other around.

“Do you think one of us should go out there?” Scully asked Susan.

“No,” Susan sighed, sitting up. “Michael knows that if he got into a fight with his brother I would make him sleep on the couch.”

Mulder laughed. “That would make me do anything you wanted.”

Susan laughed weakly. “Yeah, I remember that,” she said, rubbing her temples. Great, she was getting a headache.

“Susan, are you all right?” Scully asked, sitting beside her.

She nodded. “I think everything is just getting to me.”

Mulder sighed. “Can you just give me a few minutes to take something before you release what ever you have over me?”

“I don’t like the idea of knowing you are in so much pain,” she said.

“Well, right now, we need your expertise and you’re no help if your senses are dulled.”

She nodded reluctantly. “Go take something. We’ll eat and then I’ll release you to go on your merry way.”

He watched her lay back again, throwing a hand over her eyes.

***

 

8:23 PM

Dinner consisted of hamburgers and beans. Not really a culinary delight, but Mulder was loving it. It felt like eternity since the last time he ate without being nauseous. The only thing that dampened his joy was watching Susan push her food around her plate and hand Ruffus her half eaten burger.

“Well,” Mulder said, putting his fork down. “I think I’ll get ready for bed.”

Everyone looked at him. The table had been quiet throughout the meal and Mulder’s sudden speech surprised them.

“I’m not used to hiking so far and I’m bushed. Besides, I don’t want to waste the candles and I know I’ll probably be up at dawn anyway.” He knew he was babbling, but didn’t know how to stop. “Susan can I talk to you for a minute?” He walked out of the room, not waiting for an answer.

Ryan watched them suspiciously.

Susan closed the bedroom door behind her. “The vicodin taking affect yet?” she asked sounding very tired herself.

He nodded. “What do you want me to do?”

She licked her lips. “Why don’t you just lay down, get ready for bed. You may pass out.”

He nodded again. “Sounds like a fun way to end an evening.” He pulled his shirt over his head and Susan closed her eyes briefly when she saw the ropy scars. She opened them just as he was reaching to undo the top button of his jeans. He looked up at her, expectantly.

Her mind was not that sharp, so she didn’t get his silent request.

“I didn’t know you still liked to watch.”

She frowned then rolled her eyes. “It’s not like I get turned on by you anymore.”

He gave her a puppy dog pout. “Really? And here I thought you were going to dump Michael so we could run away together.”

“As if. Dana would kick my ass.”

He smiled and dropped his drawers. Beneath his jeans were red and white poka dotted boxers. He didn’t like the fact that she chuckled. “You would think Scully would have picked out sexier underwear for me.”

Susan grinned. “Sorry, we couldn’t find any edible underwear.”

He smiled. “Too bad.”

“Shut up and lay down.”

He leered at her. “You were always one to get down to business.”

She crossed her arms over her chest. “Me? Why do we have different memories about this?”

He shook his head innocently as he pulled down the blankets, getting under the top sheet. It was hot and he doubted either he or Scully were going to want the blankets. “Probably because I couldn’t seem to make it through the foreplay.”

She laughed. “Oh and that’s my fault?”

He made himself comfortable. “Of course it is.”

She just nodded.

He took a deep breath. “I’m ready whenever you are.”

When Scully entered the room, about five minutes later, Susan was leaning over him, her lips on his forehead, eyes closed. Mulder was sound asleep.

Scully wondered if she was supposed to be jealous, but wasn’t surprised that she wasn’t.

Susan took a deep breath and moved away. She sat on the bed at Mulder’s hip. “His whole life is such pain,” Susan murmured.

Scully leaned against the door jamb, her arms crossed over her chest.

“I wanted nothing more for him than to be happy.”

Scully pushed herself off the wall to stand next to bed. “I would like to think he is.”

Susan looked up at her, a small smile on her face. “He is,” she said, reaching up to touch Scully’s belly.

She looked down at Susan’s hand, the sounds of crickets filling the air.

“Well, I guess I should go, let you get some sleep,” she said, standing.

Scully nodded.

After Susan closed the door behind her, Scully looked down at the sleeping man before her. She found comfort in the fact that Susan cared for him as much as she did. She no longer felt afraid of what would happen to him if he lost her. She knew he would be taken care of, along with her baby. She rested her hand on her belly, the same place Susan had touched before. She finally trusted someone other than Mulder.

Scully shook herself out of her reverie and got ready for bed. She wanted to wash up, but was just too tired. The only strength she could muster was to venture out to the outhouse. She hadn’t realized she was so tired. She removed her clothes and put on a shirt she borrowed from Michael. It seemed that both she and Mulder would be being wearing Michael’s clothes for awhile. She smiled at the image of Mulder in one of Michael’s tank tops. He had lost a lot of the muscle tone he had earlier and would be swimming in one of his shirts. She knew that once he was feeling better he’d be doing everything in his power to get that look back. One thing was for sure, Mulder was vain.

With a soft sigh, Scully positioned herself alongside Mulder so that the front of her entire body was touching his. It was warm, but she needed to feel him. She placed her hand on his chest, watching for a moment as it rose and fell with his breathing before she turned to snuff out the candle Susan had brought in with her. The only light was from the moon streaming in through the window at the foot of the bed. For the first time in months, Scully allowed herself to fall into a deep sleep.

***

 

Susan closed the door behind her to find the living room dark. She looked toward the back of the cabin to the only light in the room, a small candle beside the full size bed.

Michael turned to her as he pulled off the blankets.

“I guess we’re going to bed?” Susan asked, walking over to him.

He smiled while he folded the blankets, dropping them on the foot of the bed, leaving the top sheet for them. “Do you have anything else you’d rather do?”

She smiled at him. “Actually, yes.”

He raised his eyebrows.

“I’m starving.”

He snorted. “Gee, I wonder why. Could it be because Ruffus ate most of your dinner?”

The dog in question laying against the front door, lifted his head at the sound of his name then realized he wasn’t being called and dropped it back down on his paws.

“Could be,” Susan said.

“I think there’s some leftovers on the counter. I was going to give it to Ruffus in the morning, but I don’t think he’ll mind sharing,” Michael said, indicating the food with a lift of his chin.

Susan ate quickly as she watched Michael get ready for bed and shave by candle light. She smiled to himself. ‘He was shaving before he went to bed,’ she thought. ‘I wonder what he’s hoping to get tonight.’ Michael knew with her fair skin, Susan got chafed pretty easily. They learned the hard way.

He turned to look at her. “What?”

She just shook her head and put away the rest of the food before she joined him in bed. Both were lying on their backs looking up at the ceiling, the sheet up to their chests.

Watching out of the corner of his eye as she hid a yawn behind her hand, Michael asked the obvious question, “Tired?”

“Mmmm,” Susan hummed. “Mulder took a lot out of me today.”

He nodded.

“Why?”

He shook his head, innocently. “No reason.”

She chuckled. “Yeah, right.”

Michael rolled onto his side and rested his head on his hand. “I didn’t mean anything solicitous by that remark.”

She turned on her side, too, so she could see his face clearly. “Solicitous?”

He grinned.

“Sooooo,” Susan drew out as she ran a finger along his jaw. “What do you want to do, alone, in the dark?” The flickering light from the candle made her smile look that more seductive.

“Actually,” Michael said, taking her hand. “I was wondering if you wanted to do any of our mental exercises.” He looked at her hopefully.

She pouted. “But I’m tired.”

“I know,” Michael said. “But I thought it might be good, considering you’ve been using your gift a lot. It might do you some good to flex your mental muscles.”

She groaned.

“Oh, come on,” he begged.

She sighed. “Why do you like to do this so much?”

Michael shrugged. “Because it’s fun.”

“Fine.”

“Great,” Michael said, moving closer to her. “How about I block you and you try to make me lose my block and tell me what word I’m thinking of.”

She looked at him for a beat. “Fine,” she said placing a hand on his bare chest. “Do I get to touch you?”

Michael nodded. “The first time around. Then let’s see if you can do it without touching me.”

“Tell me when,” Susan said.

Michael took a deep breath and closed his eyes. Susan immediately felt him leave her extra senses. She hated that. One thing she loved more than anything in the word was feeling Michael, really feeling him.

He opened his eyes and said, “Go.”

Susan stared into his eyes, concentrating. She could feel her body tighten as all her focus turned toward the man laying beside her. “You’re fighting me,” she said in a strained voice.

“I am,” he whispered.

“I taught you well, young jedi.”

Michael smiled and felt his block slip. “Hey, that’s cheating. No fair distracting me.”

She didn’t respond. That small slip allowed her to get her mental fingers under the wall he erected and as soon as she got a good hold, it was easily pushed aside. “Fungus.” She frowned. “That’s the word you were thinking of? Fungus?”

He bobbed his head up and down. “I was trying to think of a word that you couldn’t just guess.”

She leaned back, giving him a dubious look. “Fungus.”

He rolled his eyes at her. “OK, let’s do it again. That was too simple.”

“How do you want to do it?”

“You.” He pointed at her. “Have to do it without touching me.”

She stuck out her lower lip. “But I like to touch you when we do IT.”

He didn’t dignify that with a response.

Susan huffed out a breath. “Fine, just say go.”

Michael licked his lips, moved his neck from side to side and said, “GO.”

Again, Susan focused her attention on his eyes. It was like the saying goes: The eyes are windows to the soul. All her muscles flexed and she could see that Michael was working hard to fight her. She gritted her teeth, scrunching up her face in the process. A tear was forming in his wall and she felt it. Just a little bit more.

“Pffftt.”

Her eyes widened.

Whatever Michael was using to maintain his hold was forgotten as he looked at her with a incredulous grin. “Did you just?”

She put a hand over her mouth, her shoulders starting to shake.

Michael barked out a laugh. “Oh my God. I can’t believe you just did that!!”

Laughed erupted out of Susan in an uncontrolled fit of giggles.

“YOU FARTED!”

Susan nodded, her face full of mirth.

“OH MY GOD!”

Both of them were laughing hysterically, unable to keep any of their chuckles inside. Michael tried to rein in his guffaws, but with little effect.

“Snort!”

Susan let out with a very uncharacteristic hackle. “YOU JUST SNORTED!!”

Michael couldn’t respond verbally, so he just nodded.

Suddenly, they heard a thumping on the wall.

“HEY YOU TWO SOME OF US ARE TRYING TO SLEEP!” That was Ryan.

His outburst just caused the couple to laugh harder and louder. Susan put both hands over her mouth in an attempt to shut herself up, but all it did was cause her to find the situation more absurd. In response, she pounded her feet on the bed.

“Must have been the beans,” Michael said, causing them both to lose it all over again.

***

 

Dawn, the next morning.

Scully woke to the sounds of birds and a warmth on her cheek. She also had the painful feeling of numbness in her left hand where it had fallen asleep. She started to reach with her right hand to move her left, when she realized her pillow was moving.

Mulder.

She was laying with her head on Mulder’s chest. She lifted her head slightly to see him looking down at her, a small smile on her face.

“Hey,” he said softly.

“Hey.”

“You feeling OK?”

She nodded. “Yeah, I didn’t really have morning sickness, except for a few times.”

“What about the dizziness?” he asked, stroking her hair.

She shook her head. “Not anymore.”

His only answer was to nod.

Scully pushed herself up so she could see his face better. “What?”

Mulder shrugged. “I just wish I could have been there.”

She sighed. “Mulder, we’ve been through this.”

“I know, but.”

“You would have liked to hold my hair back while I tossed my cookies?”

He looked at her. “Tossed your cookies?” he asked. “Is that the scientific term for that?”

She sat up, facing him and crossed her arms over her chest. “Yes,” she said simply.

He started to chuckle, but it turned into a wince.

Scully gave him a pointed look. “Your chest still hurts?”

He nodded. “Yeah, I don’t know how long it’s going to be before I start to feel like a human again.”

Scully chewed on the inside of her cheek. “I wish we could have gotten some x-rays done before we got up here.”

“And how were we supposed to get that done?”

She shrugged. “We could have used Susan’s powers of persuasion.”

“Maybe, but we still may have drawn unneeded attention to ourselves.”

“I guess you’re right,” Scully agreed.

Mulder slowly pushed himself into a sitting position. “Of course I’m right, I’m always right,” he said tossing the sheet aside before he stood.

“Where are you going?” Scully asked.

Mulder paused at the door. “I have to use the latrine.”

Scully watched him leave and close the door behind him. The few mornings they awoke together, he always kissed her good morning. She ran a finger over her lips. Maybe he was still a little unsure of things, she guessed. Well, she’d have to put an end to that.

***

 

11:03 AM

85 degrees

Susan and Scully were lying on the deck, each wearing a bathing suit and dark sunglasses. At the edge of the deck, were the ‘MEN’ who were trying to fish. The emphasis is on the word trying.

Michael and Ryan had fished before, but Mulder hadn’t done it in years and was a little rusty. Not to mention the fact that he wasn’t feeling up to par and Ryan and Michael kept bickering.

“It’s not supposed to go like that,” Ryan said for about the four hundredth time.

“I don’t give a rat’s ass how it’s supposed to go,” Michael said, tossing out his line. “This is how I like to do it.”

“Fine,” Ryan said, gruffly. “But if you don’t catch anything, don’t blame me.”

Scully and Susan glanced at each and rolled their eyes. From their position, they could see and hear the guys perfectly without actually being close enough to get involved.

Michael had mentioned earlier that Scully and Susan were going to get mean sunburns if they let themselves sit and bake, but Susan shut him up by holding up a bottle of SPF30.

“What’s the point of sunbathing if you’re not going to get a tan?” Mulder asked.

Scully answered for both the women. “We aren’t tanning because it’s bad for you, but it’s a nice hot day and we thought it might be nice to just sit and relax in the sun.”

Susan nodded. “Yeah, what she said.”

Scully looked up to see Susan opening a bag of cheese puffs. “Oh, no.”

Susan looked at her as if she had lost her mind. “What?”

“Why did you have to get those?”

Susan gave her an evil grin. “What, you want some?” she asked, holding the bag and swinging it from side to side.

“You truly are the devil, you know that?” Scully said reaching for the bag.

“Mmmm,” was all Susan could say because her mouth was full.

In a matter of minutes, both their fingers were covered in yellow cheese.

“WATCH OUT!! GET IT!!” One of the men shouted. It was followed by the sound of thumping and a mad scramble.

“What the hell?” Susan asked.

The woman sat up to see Michael and Mulder frantically trying to catch a fish that was flopping around on the deck. Would Mulder be Curly or Moe? Ryan came from the side diving to catch the poor creature. Mulder and Michael jumped to the side causing them to slam into each other. Mulder teetered on the edge of the deck, desperately grabbing at Michael, but it was too late, he started to fall back. Michael’s arm shot out, getting a hand on the front of his shirt, but Mulder’s backward momentum was too far along and he fell overboard, pulling Michael with him.

For half a moment there was no other sound than birds, which was quickly joined by Susan and Scully’s laughter.

“Oh, my, God,” Scully groaned.

“Jesus, such grace,” Susan said.

Scully shook her head. “And to think I’m carrying a child with one of their genes.”

Susan chuckled. “Hopefully, your child will inherit your sense of balance.”

“One can only hope.”

Susan nodded. “I hope my child won’t get Michael’s knack to hurt himself.”

Scully agreed. “Yeah, but let’s hope he or she can cook like Mike.”

Susan smiled. “Yeah. Oh shit!”

Scully frowned. “What?”

She ran a hand over her eyes.

“Susan? What’s the matter?”

“I just realized something.” Susan dropped her hand to look at Scully.

“What?”

“I forgot to ask you to refill my birth control pills.”

Scully’s eyes widened. “Are you?”

Susan shook her head. “No.”

“Are you sure?”

She pursed her lips. “No, I can’t be positive, but I’m pretty sure I’m not.”

Scully unconsciously rested a hand on her belly. “Would that be a problem?”

Susan took in a deep breath. “No, but I was hoping that the next time I got pregnant, I’d be married.”

Scully frowned.

“No offense, but I got pregnant by mistake last time and it didn’t end well. I was just hoping that by the next time I got pregnant, I’d be married.”

Scully sighed, then looked back toward the deck. Mulder, chuckling, was being pulled out of the water by a soaking wet Michael, who was having a problem bringing him up because he was laughing so hard. Ryan was leaning against a pole, his arms crossed over his chest. He was wearing a very disapproving looking on his face. Clearly, he didn’t see what was so funny about the situation. The fish had gotten away and now Mulder and Michael were wet and going to have to change.

“Have you set a date?” Scully asked, returning her attention to Susan.

Susan rolled a shoulder. “Kinda, we agreed that when we get home, we’re going to fly to Vegas.”

Scully’s eyes widened in horror. “Vegas?”

Susan grinned. “Yeah, we just have to decide whether we want to be married by Elvis or Elvira.”

“Oh, God. Please don’t let Mulder know about this.”

Susan’s grin widened and held up her hand, her index and middle finger in the boy scout way. “I’ll keep my mouth shut.”

Scully leaned back on her hands so she could see the men clearly. Michael had removed his shirt and was trying to rebait his hook. Mulder just plopped himself down on the deck saying he was just going to watch, waving off Michael’s concern.

“He’s going to get a sunburn,” Susan said. “But man, doesn’t he look good without a shirt?” She looked at Scully for confirmation. “Huh?”

Scully gave her a lopsided smile.

“What?” Susan asked. Scully had gone from joyful to melancholy faster than she could say shit.

“How did he propose?” Scully asked suddenly.

“Who?” Susan asked, confused.

Scully’s eyebrows formed that crease between them. “Michael, who else would I be asking about?”

Susan licked her lips. “No, of course I knew you meant Michael. Why do you want to know?”

Scully studied her for a moment before she spoke. “Curious.”

Susan nodded thoughtfully. “Well,” she said, leaning back to reach for her bottle of water. “It was very sweet.”

Scully watched her intently.

“Who would have known Michael was such a romantic.”

Scully gave her an incredulous look. “Oh, I could tell that right off the bat. All you have to do is see the way he looks at you.”

“Really?” she almost squealed.

Scully laughed. “Yeah, really.”

Susan grinned. “It was about six months after we got together…

 Part 26

Susan grinned. “It was about six months after we got together.” She glanced over to the man she was discussing, the smile fading into a look of fond of remembrance. She laid back down, but turned on her side so she could see Scully clearly. Her head was supported by her hand. “We had just made love and were basking in the afterglow,” she said with a bit of sarcasm. For some reason, unlike a lot of women she had known in college, she was never comfortable talking about her sex life, it was always considered a private matter.

Scully made herself comfortable, laying in pretty much the same manor as Susan. She had a feeling this was going to be a long story.

Susan watched Scully straighten her towel before she continued. “We were at his apartment, we hadn’t found out about the house and money yet.” She smiled. “God, I loved his apartment. He had pretty good taste for a guy and his bed was so inviting.”

Scully grinned, she could imagine how inviting Susan saw it.

“Any way,” Susan said, picking up on Scully’s feelings about her and Michael’s bed. “We were lying facing each other, kinda like we are now.” She indicated the space between them with a flick of her hand. “But we were a lot closer, a lot sweatier and a lot more out of breath. And were a lot less dressed.”

Scully shook her head, smiling.

“I still don’t know how he managed to plan everything without me having some idea of what he had in mind,” she pondered. “We weren’t doing any of our mental exercises yet, so he didn’t know how to block me. So, he’s lying there, with a goofy smile on his face when he reaches under his pillow and pulls out something.” Susan brushed her hair out of her face. She really should have put it up, it was so hot out, that the hair on the nape of her neck was all wet due to her sweating. “He holds his fist out towards me,” she says, holding her hand out to Scully. “I gave him a look, and he just shrugged. When I didn’t do anything, he told me to hold my hand out. I still hesitated for a minute, but did as he asked. Then, he opens his hand and something drops out and lands in my opened palm.” Susan does what she just described Michael doing. “I look down at my hand and low and behold a ring is sitting there. I give him a look, asking what’s going on when suddenly, I get a flash.”

Scully frowned. “A flash?” she asked.

Susan grinned. “Yeah, he knew I would get an impression of the ring, so he purposely imprinted a scene on the ring.”

“How’d he do that?”

Susan ran a hand through her hair. “He remembered and thought hard as he held the ring before he gave it to me.”

Scully shifted her weight so that not all of it was resting on her hip. “What did you see?”

Susan looked a her for a moment before she closed her eyes, remembering.

>A small dark haired boy and a round gray haired woman are standing in front of a bureau, the boy only coming up to the top drawer. He puts his small hands on the surface, hoping to pull himself up to see more. The woman opens a small chest atop the mahogany furniture and takes out a small piece of jewelry.

“What’s zat, Gamma?” the boy asks, starting to pull himself up for a better look.

The woman smiles a sad smile at the object before she directs her attention to the boy. Her speech is laced with the accent of a land centuries old. “Michael, my dear boy,” she says, her voice soft and melodic. “When I was a young girl, many years ago, your Grandfather gave this to me.”

The boy’s blue eyes widen at the mention of his father’s father who left to go with God that past winter. “Granda gave that to you?” he asks with wonder. It must be very special if Granda gave that to Gamma.

The woman smiles at the boy, ruffling his hair before she steps back to lean against the bed, the only other furniture in the room. “It was the day your Granda and I got married.”

The boys nods, turning to face his Gamma. He knows what married means. It means that you get to fight and not agree but still know that you love each other and can be together forever.

“What is it?”

“It’s a ring,” she says simply. “It’s supposed to go to the oldest boy in the family.”

The boy frowns, his lip sticking out. “That’s Ryan.” It’s not fair, just because he’s older, he gets to do everything. The boy feels like he wants to cry. Not only does he get to go to the arcade with his friends, but he’s gonna get the ring too.

The boy’s Gamma senses his disappointment, and smile endearingly. He’s such a sweet boy, she hopes he never changes. She looks toward the door, hoping no one is coming and leans down so that she is closer to him, her voice a whisper. “I have a secret to tell you, do you promise not to tell?”

The boy nods vigorously. He can keep a secret. He never told anyone that Katie didn’t go to the mall with her friends, but to the roller rink with Tommy. He knows, he saw her. “Yeah, Gamma, I won’t tell nobody.”

The woman nods. “Good, because this is very important.”

“I promise,” he says holding up his hand. “Cross my heart and hope to die.” He makes a cross sign on his chest above his heart. “Stick a needle in my eye.”

“Well, let’s hope it doesn’t come to that, Michael.”

“Yes, Gamma.”

She again, looks toward the door then back to the boy. “I’m not going to give this to Ryan.”

“You’re not?” he breaths in disbelief.

She shakes her head. “No, I’m going to give it to you.”

His mouth drops open and his eyes widen for the second time that night. “Me?”

The woman nods. “Yes, you, Michael. But you must promise me something before I give it to you.”

“Anything, Gamma. I promise.”

She smiles at her dear sweet grandson who reminds her so much of his father when he was that age. “You must promise not to tell anyone I gave this to you and you must promise to only give this to the woman you want to spend the rest of your life with, the woman you want to marry.”

The boy looks at her in confusion, his brows knitting together. “But Gamma, how will I know who that is?”

Michael’s Gamma can only answer two words, “You’ll know.”

The scene flashes forward many years later to show Michael dressed in a dark charcoal gray suit, the one he wore the day he met Susan. He’s standing before his dresser, holding the ring between the thumbs and forefingers of his hands. He looks up into the mirror atop the dresser and whispers, “You were right, Gamma, I know.”< Susan opened her eyes to see Scully wiping a tear away.

Scully gave her a lopsided smile. “It must be the hormones.”

Susan chuckled. “Sure, that’s what it is.”

“That’s beautiful, Susan,” Scully said. “How did you react?”

“Well,” Susan said. “Before or after I jumped him?”

Scully laughed. “Before.”

“I burst into tears.”

Later that evening

“And he just disappeared? Poof, just like that?” Mulder stated leaning back in his seat at the kitchen table. They had finished their dinner made up of the fish the MEN eventually caught. Ryan had retired to his room, feeling a little out of place among the bickering agents.

Susan was perturbed as she crossed her arms over her chest. “No, Mulder, not just like that,” she said. “I turned away, looked back, and he was gone.”

Mulder glanced at Scully who was quiet during this discussion. She wouldn’t meet his eyes. He returned his attention to Susan. “So, what? You think this Gabe, is what? An angel?”

Susan didn’t answer him. Michael slung his arm behind Susan, his hand resting on her shoulder. She was grateful for his comfort and his unquestioning support.

Mulder turned to Scully. “And you believe this? Gabe was actually Gabriel, the Archangel?”

Scully gave him a blank look. It always bothered her that he could believe the most outlandish stories and come up with the most bizarre theories, but when it came to anything religious, he was an stubborn skeptic.

“Susan?” Mulder asked.

Susan was getting tired of this conversation. “Yes, Mulder that is what I believe.”

Mulder looked incredulous. “How can you believe that?”

Susan leaned forward. “I sensed something different about him,” she stated matter of factly.

Mulder shook his head, confused. “How do you know that’s not just something They did to him at the facility? You said so yourself that he said that he was the first success they had.”

“He saved my life. He died for me!” Susan said slamming her palms on the table top. “And I don’t need any documented proof that he is what I believe his is. You take almost everything at face value, but you can’t accept this. Well you know what? You can just kiss my ass.”

The room was suddenly eerily quiet.

“Susan,” Michael whispered.

“No, Mike. I’m not going to back down on this.” She looked Mulder in the eyes. “I believe that Gabe is what I said he is.”

Mulder crossed his arms over his chest. “Well, I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree.”

Susan gave him a hardened look. “Fine, Mulder,” she said, standing. “But just remember, he saved your life, too.” And with that, she left the room.

The rest of the agents avoided eye contact as they cleared the dishes off the table.

***

 

Scully rested her hand on her belly as she looked down at herself. Her stomach was slowly staring to swell and she knew that she was going to start getting uncomfortable soon. She was wondering when she was going to start feeling the baby. She knew that many times women didn’t feel their first child until well into their fourth month. She wasn’t sure she could last that long. Aside from the night Susan showed her the baby, she was still having a hard time believing it was all real. Maybe when she felt it, it would be real for her.

She was still standing there when Mulder came into the room. She didn’t turn around to acknowledge him. If he wanted to say something, he would. Mulder was never known for keeping him mouth shut.

Pausing at the door, Mulder took in the woman standing before him. On the surface, she appeared to be giving off a maternal glow, whether that was from the candle on the dresser or his imagination, he didn’t know. All he knew was that she was beautiful and he had no idea what to do. Almost every waking moment since he got back was filled with thoughts of how he failed her. He should have been there when she found out. He shouldn’t have gone to Oregon when he knew she wasn’t feeling well. What was more important? An alien spaceship or Scully? Hindsight was always twenty/twenty. Then there were his memories of his time away.

He shook his head and crossed the room to the bed. Scully had already turned down the sheets and he just stood there looking at it as if he wasn’t sure what it was.

He looked up to see Scully watching him. She was standing at the other side of the bed wearing an oversized tee shirt. The idea that he had no strength or current desire to remove that shirt and see what was under it upset him more.

Scully must have seen the change in his demeanor, but didn’t say anything. She wasn’t sure how to approach him on any subject matter and after the conversation at the dinner table and her lack of responses she wasn’t sure she wanted to talk to him right now. Would they get past this? She really did not know.

Mulder looked away first and climbed into bed. He had just taken some Vicodin and hoped it would do what it had done the previous nights – knock him into a drug induced sleep devoid of nightmares. He wasn’t sure he could face them right now.

Scully sighed, following Mulder into bed. She wasn’t used to sharing a bed with a man without touching him. Both of them stayed to their sides of the bed not crossing the space between. One of them would break soon. She was sure it was going to be messy.

She didn’t want to talk to him now, seeing that he looked so pathetic and felt like proverbial shit. He was looking like half the man she knew and seemed to have none of the fight left in him. She wasn’t sure what scared her more his diminished health or his diminished spirit.

Scully blew out the candle. It would be a long time before she fell asleep.

***

 

Susan opened her eyes, not sure what woke her. She was laying spread out on Michael’s chest, her head on his shoulder. She could feel Michael’s heart racing under her hand. She sensed great distress coming from him and was suddenly bombarded with flashes of explosions and sounds of screaming.

Michael moaned in his sleep, his head turning from side to side.

Susan slowly sat up, her hand cupping his face. “Mike, wake up,” she said softly. “Come on, love, it’s only a dream.”

After shaking him a bit and few more words, Michael’s eyes popped open. He breathed in sharply, the world was not yet real to him.

“It’s OK, it was just a dream,” Susan whispered. She could feel the anxiety fading in him, but the sweat caused by his nightmare remained.

Pushing Susan away, Michael sat up slowly, his head in his hands.

Susan sat next to him, running a hand up and down his back waiting for him to come around. He didn’t have many nightmares, but when he did, he would talk to her when he was ready.

He dropped his hands into his lap, staring straight ahead. “That was horrible,” he murmured.

“What was?” she murmured back.

He looked at her out of the corner of his eye. “I don’t even know if I can explain it.” He shook his head. “It was as if I was seeing the future, but it was like something out of The Terminator.”

Susan continued to rub her hand up and down his back, not saying anything.

“And you know how you keep switching points of view in your dreams? I kept doing that. I would see it from my view then it was as if I was watching it from outside myself. There was destruction everywhere; everything was destroyed, on fire, or completely decimated.” His voice took on a monotone as he related his dream, devoid of any emotion. “Then I saw her.”

Susan cocked her head at him. “Who?”

“Our daughter.”

She gulped.

A small smile graced his lips. “She looked like you, exactly, but she had my hair. My God, she was beautiful. She was leading a group of men dressed in commando gear. And she had your gift, I could feel it radiating off of her. God, she was so powerful and everyone knew it,” he said in a voice filled with awe. “Next to her was a man with dark reddish hair and the bluest eyes I’d ever seen. They were talking to each other, but they weren’t.” He shook his head. “I can’t explain it. They just knew what the other was going to do, you know?”

Susan didn’t respond, only nodded.

“And he called her Shannon and she called him William.”

“Shannon?” Susan asked.

He nodded. “Yeah, and she was beautiful, Susie.” He smiled a full fledged grin at her. “And the man, William, he loved her so much it almost hurt. And he had a gift, too. But it wasn’t the same as Shannon’s”

She furrowed her brows. “You got all that from your dream?”

“I know it sounds strange, but yeah. That was the impression I got.”

Susan leaned back against the wall. “Wow, Mike. That was some dream.”

He turned around to face her, the bottom sheet rumbled around his hips, his chest bare.

“I know and it seemed so real.”

Susan looked down at her hands, a thoughtful expression on her face.

“What is it, Susan?”

She looked up at him. “What if it wasn’t a dream?”

He frowned. “What else could it be?”

“A premonition.”

A look of horror crossed his face. “I, I can’t imagine a future like that.”

“Then maybe it was a premonition because you can’t imagine it.”

He shook his head. “No, I refuse to believe a future like that could happen. Besides, I’ve never had a premonition before.”

Susan’s shoulder’s slumped. It’s true, he hadn’t. “You’re right,” she said. But how did he know that Mulder and Dana were having a boy? She hadn’t told anyone that she knew the sex and she was purposefully keeping that information from Michael. She knew Dana didn’t want to know yet and didn’t want anyone else to know. Michael couldn’t have known. And he couldn’t have known that William was the name Dana wanted to name a boy, right?

Michael could sense her confusion but didn’t know what to make of it. “Susie, come on, talk.”

She took a deep breath and said, “I haven’t been on the pill since my last period.”

Michael’s eyes widened. “Are you…”

She shook her head. “No, I’m positive. But I doubt that we’re not going to have sex before we get back. And we don’t have condoms.”

He smiled at her. “That’s great!” He enveloped her in a breath taking hug. It was breath taking because she couldn’t breathe he was holding her so tightly. When he pulled back, he was still grinning. “You know how much I want a baby.”

She gave him a weak smile. “Yeah, I do.”

All his joy flew out of him at her less then exuberant response. “You don’t want a baby?”

She quickly shook her head, reaching a hand out to rest on his chest. “No, it’s not that. I would give anything to have your baby, but.” She dropped her hand.

He frowned. “But what?”

“She, he or whatever I have is going to have my gift, you dreamed it yourself. I don’t know if I would wish that on my worst enemy.”

He sighed. They had been through this before again and again. “Susie,” he said. “You’ll be there for her. You’ll teach her,” he said. These were words he had said many times in the past.

She gave him a smirk. “Her?”

“Yeah, you know how much I want a little girl, not that I wouldn’t mind having a boy, but a little girl.” He shrugged. “I’ve always wanted to be a Daddy, you know? And have…”

Susan cut him off. “Daddy’s little girl.”

He grinned. “Yeah.”

She shook her head, smiling fondly at him. “And she would look like me but have your dark hair.”

He bobbed his head up and down, grinning like a fool. “Yeah.”

“And we’d name her Shannon.”

He nodded more vigorously. “Yeah! Shannon O’Sullivan has a nice ring to it.”

She snorted. “Gee, do you think they’ll know she’s Irish?”

He laughed. “You think?”

She just shook her head again.

He suddenly became serious. “So we’re doing this?”

She licked her lips before she responded. “Yeah, I think we’re going to do this.”

Michael let out a whoop as he wrapped his arms around her. He couldn’t wait to get started. Mulder didn’t know how lucky he truly was.

***

 

When Susan woke again, it was still dark out and extremely warm. As awareness came over her, she discovered why she was so warm. After a bought of strenuous lovemaking, Michael practically collapsed on her. Thankfully, he had moved over so he wasn’t completely on top of her, but his entire torso still covered her and she was getting warmer by the second.

With a little wiggling and more than a little sliding she finally was freed from his two hundred plus pounds and was standing stark naked next to the bed. He was so excited about the prospects of making a baby he practically attacked her. She smiled at the thought of his excitement. He wanted a baby so badly that she was getting caught up in his momentum. Still, she would do whatever she could to make it so her child didn’t go through what she did. She took a deep breath. Yeah, she could do this.

Getting dressed quickly, but leaving herself barefoot, she headed for the door. Ruffus looked at her expectantly, but she shook her head at him. “Sorry, boy,” she whispered. “I’m just going to the bathroom.”

He cocked his head at her. Sometimes she swore he knew what she was saying. After a beat, he put his head back down on his paws and went back to dreams only known to dogs.

On her way to the outhouse, that she despised, a flash of lightning scared the shit out her. It hit several miles away, but the thunder that accompanied it almost made her jump out her skin. A few seconds later another flash illuminated the night sky and thunder rumbled. As a kid she was told to count the space between the flashes and thunder to know how far away the storm was, but they were almost simultaneous, meaning the storm was close.

She rushed toward the outhouse. When she got there, she quickly did her thing and started running toward the cabin as the thunder and lighting picked up. Then without warning, the sky opened up.

Susan was drenched immediately and she stopped, not seeing the point now in running. It was dark and she knew that she could kill herself if she tripped over something.

Another flash broke the night and Susan swore she saw a man at the tree break, but she only saw him out of the corner of her eye. She trained her attention on that area, but didn’t sense anything. When another flash came, she saw him clearly. It was Gabe.

She was rooted in place, not knowing what to do. The light came again and she saw him turn and walk into the woods. She did the first thing that came into her mind. She took off after him.

 Part 27

Michael almost fell out of bed when the first crack of thunder sounded. It was frighteningly loud and Ruffus whined by the door.

“Susie?” Michael asked, sitting up.

No answer.

Michael frowned then tried to do what Susan taught him to do. He focused his concentration on Susan or rather how she felt to him.

Nothing.

He scrambled out of bed and started to search the cabin for her when he realized he was naked. Not a good thing to be doing without a stitch on. He searched for his boxers and pulled them on, balancing on one foot as he did. With that accomplished, he quickly searched the open areas of the cabin and found nothing. He turned to go toward the back and almost tripped on Ruffus in the process.

Another crack of thunder and the room was illuminated by lightening. The downpour sounded loudly as it hammered the roof. Ruffus whined again.

Surely she wasn’t outside during this.

Michael walked to Dana and Mulder’s room and paused with his hand in the air. Should he wake them? Mulder needs his sleep and so does Dana for that matter. He started to turn away when the door suddenly opened. It was Scully.

Scully was startled to see Michael standing half naked before her. She started to say something when he spoke.

“Have you seen Susan?” he asked.

Scully shook her head. “No. I just got up, the thunder woke me.”

He gave her a rueful smiled. “Afraid of thunder?”

She rolled her eyes. “Not since I was six,” she said smiling. “No, actually, I like to watch storms. I was going to watch it from the front porch.”

Michael sighed, that’s probably what Susan was doing, too. He felt like an idiot. “Susan’s probably out there already,” he said.

“Scully?” Mulder said, sounding groggy. “Whazz goin’ on?”

Scully looked over her shoulder at him. He was starting to sit up. “Nothing, Mulder, go back to sleep.”

He didn’t say anything, but tossed the blankets aside, starting to get out of bed, very slowly. “What’s going on?” he asked sounding more awake.

“Nothing, Mulder, Mike’s just looking for Susan.”

“Oh,” was all he said, sitting back down. “Well, she’s not in here.” He looked around the room. “At least I don’t think so.”

Scully turned her attention back to Michael.

“I’m going to see if she’s out there,” Michael said before he turned to make his way to the front door.

She nodded to him and closed the bedroom door behind her. She had slipped on a pair of sweatpants after she got out of bed and padded silently towards Michael. “Is she out there?” Scully asked.

Michael closed the door and shook his head, no.

“Maybe she’s on the back porch”, Scully offered.

He shrugged then walked to the back door and opened it. Again, he didn’t find Susan as he looked around the porch.

“Maybe I should go look for her,” he said. He still hadn’t put on anything other than boxers and the cool air the rain brought with it was causing goose flesh to blossom on his chest. He really didn’t notice it, though Scully came up next to him, her arms around her chest in an effort to warm herself. “In that?”

Michael sat down heavily on the top step, the rain drenching his feet. “I don’t know,” he sighed.

Scully sat down next to him. “I’m sure she’s fine,” she said softly, her hand on his shoulder. His skin was warm and soft. “If you go out looking for her it won’t accomplish anything. You’ll only get yourself lost and then we’ll have to go out looking for you.”

He smiled at her. “You shouldn’t be out here, you’ll catch a cold,” he said.

Scully smiled. “You can’t get sick from the rain and cold,” she said with an authoritative note in her voice. “I know, I’m a doctor.”

“Yeah, but it can’t be good for the baby,” he said.

Still keeping her hand on his shoulder, she rested the other on her belly. “The baby’s fine.”

He nodded then looked away. “What the hell is she doing out there?” he asked.

“Maybe she went for a walk and got caught in the rain,” Scully said.

He sighed. “Yeah, maybe.” He looked at her again and could see that she was tired. “Go inside, Dana. Go back to bed. I can hang out here by myself.”

She pursed her lips. She really didn’t want to go back to bed, even though she was a bit tired. “If it’s all right, I’d like to stay out here.”

He smiled. “I’d like your company,” he said.

She returned his smile and ran her hand over his shoulder before she brought it to her lap. She watched the rain and lightening flashes, listening to the booming of the thunder. It brought back memories of her sitting on the porch when she was little with her brother, Charlie. They used to love sitting out on the porch when they were kids watching the storms. Scully glanced at Michael out of the corner on her eye. He was leaning forward, his elbows in his knees, hands clasped together, looking out into the night. She could see his anxiety as he scanned the area with worried eyes. He looked so young and innocent. She smiled because he reminded her of her brother. She shook her head. She had a feeling about Michael ever since she got to know him and finally figured it out. He reminded her of Charlie; that’s why she felt so comfortable around him. She knew that he was deeply in love with Susan, so he was ‘safe’. She felt as relaxed in his presence as he seemed to be in hers.

Mike and Charlie were about the same age and had similar dispositions. They were both quick to smile and were demonstrative about their feelings. Yeah, they looked nothing alike, Charlie was tall and slim while Mike was the big, brawny type, but the look in their eyes were the same – innocence laced with a bit of the devil. The last night before Charlie joined the Marines, they sat like this watching a storm. It was cold outside and he had slung an arm over her shoulder in an effort to warm her. They had become closer in the past few months out of necessity. Their father was disappointed in the paths they had chosen for their lives. Dana was considering going into Pathology instead of something more prestigious like Cardiology or something more fit for a woman like Pediatrics. And Charles, God forbid, was going to the other side. He was joining the Marine Corps instead of doing what their brother Bill had done and followed their father’s footsteps into the Navy. It was no secret that marines and sailors didn’t get along.

She smiled again.

“What?” Michael asked.

She frowned. “What, what?”

“You were smiling at me,” he said.

She looked away. “I was just thinking.” She turned back to him. “I was thinking that you remind me of my brother.”

He sat up. “Yeah? How so?”

She shrugged. “You, two are a lot alike, that’s all.”

He nodded. “Well, you don’t remind me at all of my sister.”

She snorted. “Yeah, why?”

“She’s a bitch.”

Scully laughed. “Well, I guess that’s a compliment.”

He nodded. “She’s not really a bitch, all the time.” He added. “She has her moments.”

“Don’t we all.”

“Mmmm,” was his answer.

They sat quietly again for a few moments before Michael spoke again.

“Did Susie tell you she’s not on the pill anymore?” he asked.

Scully nodded. “She told me this afternoon.”

He smiled. He liked the fact that Susan had a friend she could confide in. “We’ve decided we’re going to try to get pregnant.”

Scully grinned. “That’s great, Michael,” she said, putting her hand on his shoulder again, giving it a squeeze. “What made you guys go for it?”

He shrugged. “I don’t know, but I think it might have something to do with you.”

She frowned. “Me?”

“Susan doesn’t just forget things, you know?”

“You think she forgot to refill the prescription on purpose?” Scully asked.

Michael thought about it for a minute. “Not consciously, but I think deep down she did.”

Scully made a face. “Isn’t Susan the psychologist?”

He chuckled. “Yeah, but I think being around you reminds her of when she was pregnant with our first baby.”

“The one you lost,” Scully whispered.

“Yeah,” he sighed and looked away.

Scully mentally kicked herself for saying that. She never really discussed it with Michael, but she could guess it bothered him that they lost a baby. It was confirmed by the look on his face.

“Mike,” she started, but he interrupted her.

“As much as she’s afraid of our child having her gift, she really enjoyed being pregnant. She really wants a baby,” he said as if the last few moments hadn’t happened.

Scully smiled. “And from what I understand, so do you.”

He grinned and leaned back on his hands. “You have no idea. I can’t wait to have a child of my own. I just wish it didn’t take nine months before I could hold it.”

Scully nodded. “Believe me, a lot of women agree with you.”

He snorted. “Yeah, but it’s not the same thing. You get to carry it, feel it inside you. I have to wait to do that.” He looked out toward the night.

Scully didn’t say anything.

“Susan can show me how it feels, but it’s not the same thing as holding it in your hands, feeling his or her little body breathing, smelling it, holding it against your chest, you know?”

When Scully didn’t respond he looked back at her. She had a far away look on her face and tears filled her eyes. He quickly went back through the things he’d said trying to figure out what he might have said wrong. He didn’t have a clue.

“Dana, what is it?” he turned his whole body to face her, he’s knees bumping her thighs.

His saying her name broke her out of her thoughts and she looked at him.

“Are you all right?” he asked, laying a hand on her arm.

She sniffed and gave him a watery smile. “Nothing, it’s nothing. I’m fine.”

He frowned. “I doubt that.”

She wiped at her eyes. “Really, I’m fine.”

He cocked his head at her. He wasn’t going to give up.

She shook her head. “Really, I’m fine,” she reiterated. “It’s just that you seem so happy about this and what you said sounded so heartfelt it made me teary. I know how you feel.” She shook her head again. “Really, it’s nothing, probably just hormones.”

Michael didn’t believe her, but didn’t persue it. He smiled. “Yeah, hormones are a bitch,” he said causing her to laugh. He slung an arm over her shoulder bringing her closer. “Let’s watch the storm, sis. Hopefully, Susan will be back soon.”

She rested her head on his shoulder feeling like she was transported back to a time where the hardest choices seemed trivial now.

***

 

Mulder turned away from his position at the back door. He had heard the entire conversation and if it were possible he was feeling worse then he’d felt in a long time.

“Life sucks, huh?” came a voice from the living room. Ryan was sitting staring at the empty fireplace, a bottle of whiskey in his hand.

God, what Mulder wouldn’t do for a drink right now, but he knew what would happen to him if he mixed vicodin and whiskey. He thought he felt bad now.

“Sometimes,” Mulder said coming over to sit next to him.

“So, whatcha do ta put yourself on da shit list?” Ryan asked, his words slurred from the whiskey.

Mulder watched him take a long swig of the bottle wincing inwardly at the thought of the fire sliding down his throat. It didn’t seem to bother Ryan at all.

“At an emotional level, I’m a two year old,” Mulder said sarcastically.

Ryan humpfed. “Join da club,” he said. “Me? I just keep screwin’ up and disappointin’ my wife.”

“Join the club,” Mulder muttered to himself.

“Huh?” Ryan asked, the bottle at his lips.

“Ah, how so?” Mulder asked.

Ryan took another swig. “Came home drunk one too many times. But dis time it was durin’ a party celebratin’ my wife’s promotion.”

Mulder winced, he could picture that.

“My in-laws were dere, my kids, my friends, my wife’s friends, her boss and coworkers.”

Mulder didn’t say anything, Ryan seemed to need to talk and it helped him forget what he had just heard on the back porch. If nothing else, he was a coward and afraid to face his own feelings. It was easier to watch someone else suffer.

“I’d just gotten laid off, got da notice dat morning. Cutbacks, dey said,” he spat. “Bullshit. Greed is what I call it.”

“What did you do for a living?”

“Architect, for one of da largest firms in Boston, dose sonsabitches. If it wasn’t for me and the accounts I brought in, dey’d still be handin’ out their business cards at the local shoppin’ malls.”

Mulder didn’t respond to that, he wasn’t sure how.

“I came home about an hour late, boy was Molly pissed at me.” He snorted. “She tore me a new asshole, right dere in fronta everybody.” He brought the bottle to his lips. “It seems dee only ding I’m good at his hurtin’ her,” he said, taking a drink.

Mulder looked toward the back door. Join the club, he thought.

***

 

Susan ran, tripping over roots and knocking into branches as she did. One nasty fall caused her to scrape her palms on a tree and bang her head on a low hanging branch. She could feel a wetness on her forehead but wasn’t sure if it was rain of blood. At this point, she didn’t care.

She had no idea where she was running to or exactly what she was doing. She promised herself that she wasn’t going to do something like this and what is she doing? Chasing a phantom in the dark woods in the rain. What was the matter with her? Curiosity and stupidity, Susan guessed.

Susan fell again, her knees falling on a small pine tree that would do Charlie Brown proud. She could feel the pine needles cutting into the skin. That was it. She was bruised and beaten, she wasn’t doing this anymore. She started to stand when she felt a warmness settle over her. She looked up from her kneeling position to see a hand being offered to her. Her eyes traveled up his hand to his face. It was Gabe.

He was standing before her offering a hand to help her up. He smiled at her as she put her hand in his and was lifted effortlessly to her feet. As soon as her hand made contact with his she forgot the rain, the cold, any pain she was feeling, only his hand. She felt only warmth and peace. He released her hand when she stood on unsteady legs. His smile was one of complete happiness and joy upon seeing her. He was as she remembered him, but he was dry and it was pouring. There also seemed to be a light about him.

Susan wondered if she had finally lost it.

His smile widened. “You are not insane, Susan,” he said.

Susan gave him an odd look, he knew what she was thinking, she must have lost it. She wasn’t sure what to say to him, so she said the first thing that popped in her head. “You’re dead.”

His smile turned indulgent. “Only in the corporeal sense,” he said.

She licked her lips. “Why are you here?”

“I have a message for you,” he said, his voice sounding melodic as it traveled to her.

“A message. For me?” She didn’t quite understand what was going on. A message? She thought to herself. “Why?” she asked.

“I am a messenger, we are all messengers,” he said.

Susan paused for a moment before she spoke again. “Who is we?” she asked.

He smiled again. “I think you know.”

She just nodded. “I thought you were the Announcer, Gabriel.”

He nodded. “Yes, but I already have your attention, have I not?”

She had no answer to that.

He nodded as if he knew her response.

“What is your message and who is it from?”

Gabe looked around the dense forest. They were standing about two feet apart in the middle of a densely covered area. Rain was falling in huge soaking drops. Susan could feel the rain falling, but she didn’t feel wet. And Gabriel was as dry as if it were a sunny day.

Susan watched him look about himself wondering what in hell, well, she guessed it wasn’t hell, was going on.

He finished his scan of the area and brought his attention back to her. Again, Susan felt warm and loved; that was the other sensation. It was as if she was lying by the fire wrapped in Michael’s arms, not standing in the middle of a wooded area in the northern section of Maine, having a conversation with a man she believed was an angel.

“Susan,” he spoke. “You must begin to do something. Something you should have been doing since you were a child.”

She frowned at him.

“You never knew to do it because you had no guidance and I regret that. I know how lonely it was to grow up alone and feeling different than everyone else,” he said. This man who looked ten years younger than her gave her a look that was as if he was a father talking to his child.

She licked her lips and took a deep breath. “What is it what I should have been doing?”

He raised his hands to the air. “You must listen.”

Susan shook her head in confusion. “Listen, listen to what?”

Gabe spread his arms out about him in a gesture that indicated the woods around him. “Nature,” he stated. “All things have a voice, but you must know how to hear it.”

Susan stared at him, not sure what he meant.

He dropped his hands and approached her. He placed his palms on her shoulders, holding her close to him. He leaned down and whispered in her ear, “listen.”

Susan looked into the deep pools of blue that were his eyes. Sincerity and honesty stared back at her. Suddenly, she heard it. She could hear the trees, the sound of whispers on the breeze, the mouse on the ground, the owl watching it. She could hear the raccoon in his nest, the squirrel above, the moose a mile away, the bear wandering. She could hear it all. It wasn’t a sound exactly, but a feeling of recognition. She could hear the deer scanning the area looking for threats to her young.

She continued to look at him as the murmurs of life receded. His eyes smiled at her and he stepped back. “It will come to you now that you know how it sounds.”

Susan didn’t say anything.

“Good luck,” he said, his grin widening. “On this and on your current task.”

“My current task?” she asked.

“Tell Michael good luck as well.”

“I don’t understand,” she said.

“You will,” he said and he was gone.

Susan looked around not understanding what just happened. It was as if he we there and then in a blink he was not.

Then the rain stopped and the sun started to rise.

***

 

Dawn

Michael and Scully sat quietly on the back porch, her head resting comfortably on his shoulder. She had fallen asleep a few minutes ago and he didn’t have the heart to wake her.

Michael looked over his shoulder at the sound of the back door opening and foot steps on the deck.

It was Mulder. “Hey,” he said, eyeing Scully’s slumped form.

Michael felt like he was doing something wrong, but he wasn’t sure what it was. He could see that Mulder wasn’t happy to find Scully leaning on him so intimately, but what was he to do? She was tired and needed comfort, so he offered his shoulder. Mulder had to have known that.

Mulder gave him a self deprecating smile. “It’s OK, Mike,” he said. “Relax.”

“How ya feeling?” Michael asked, not relaxing.

Mulder shrugged and leaned against the railing. “Like shit, what else is new.”

Michael nodded. “Dana hasn’t been asleep for long. Do you think I should wake her or put her to bed?”

Mulder didn’t answer. All he could see was Scully being easily lifted in Michael’s arms, her head on his chest, sound asleep as he carried her to bed. How romantic, he thought. Too bad it wasn’t him. He couldn’t imagine lifting his own arms right now, let alone Scully.

Michael looked up at him. He had an idea what was bothering him. He purposefully moved his arm to cause Scully to slide down. She woke quickly.

“What’s going on?” she asked in that husky alto Mulder loved.

“Sorry, Dana,” Michael said. “I didn’t mean to wake you.”

She looked at him with a confused expression on her face as if she couldn’t understand why she fell asleep and why he was there when she woke up.

“We’re on the back porch, remember? We were watching the storm, waiting for Susie to come back.”

Scully blinked her eyes rapidly then nodded. “Yeah, sure I remember,” she said. “When did it stop raining?”

“About ten minutes ago,” he said.

Mulder coughed as a way to get their attention. “Speak of the devil,” Mulder said, jutting his chin out toward the trees. “Look what the cat dragged in.” His voice was a drab monotone, devoid of any emotion.

All eyes turned to the direction Mulder indicated to see a very bedraggled Susan coming toward them. Her hair was a mess around her face, her tank top and shorts plastered to her body. She was barefoot as she walked purposefully towards them, her eyes on Michael. She stepped around debris and other wilderness things on the ground, never looking down. It was as if she knew where everything was.

She stopped when her legs bumped against Michael’s knees. “Hey,” she said, a strange smile on her face.

“Uh, hey,” he said.

She nodded before she leaned down to cup his face and kiss him lightly on the lips. “What’s everyone doing up?” she asked, sounding surprisingly cheerful.

Michael and Scully glanced at each other. “We were, ah, watching the storm and waiting for you to come back,” Michael said. “Where were you?”

She placed her hands on her hips and turned at the waist to look around her. “Taking a walk,” she said with a smile.

Michael frowned and was going to say something, but she chose that moment to start up the stairs between Michael and Scully.

“Where you going?” Michael asked, turning to look at her.

She stopped at the door. “I’m wet and hungry. I’m going to change and grab something to eat.” She paused before she continued. “In that order,” she said, going inside.

Michael stumbled to his feet to follow her, leaving Mulder and Scully alone on the porch. They exchanged uneasy glances before Scully went inside.

Mulder continued to lean against the railing as he rested his elbows on the wood and let his head fall into his hands. He scrubbed his palms over his face, wincing, before he finger combed his hair out of his eyes. He had to fix this soon or he was going to lose his chance.

“Susie,” Michael said, coming up beside her. “What the hell is going on?”

She turned to look at him, in the middle of removing her shirt, an apple in her mouth. Their sleeping area was in the back of the cabin and she was standing around a corner, away from prying eyes. It wasn’t as if anyone could see them, anyway. Ryan was asleep on the couch and Scully had gone directly to her bedroom.

“Huh?” Susan asked around the apple.

Michael waited until she had pulled off the shirt and removed the apple before he spoke again. “I said, what the hell is going on?”

Susan chuckled, running a towel over her chest before she peeled off her soaking wet shorts and underwear, letting them drop unnoticed to the floor. Michael would pick them up later. She ran the towel down her legs, bending at the waist then back up again before she answered. “Well, for one thing, it isn’t hell,” she said cryptically.

He gave her a confused look. “What?” he asked.

She pulled a shirt over her head then took a huge bite of the apple, watching him watch her. She put the apple down and began brushing her hair. “I saw him, Mike,” she stated, still chewing.

He frowned. “Who?”

She grinned. “Gabe.”

He shook his head. “What do you mean you saw him. He’s dead.”

She cocked her head at him. “Only in the corporeal sense,” she said with a smirk.

“What is that supposed to mean?”

“It means what it means,” she said, turning her back on him to find a pair of shorts and underwear.

He watched her. “OK, you saw him,” he conceded. “What happened?”

Susan finished getting dressed then gave him a huge smile. “He taught me how to listen.”

***

 

Later that afternoon.

Ryan was sitting on the couch after a late morning nap. He had given up the whiskey bottle to just stare at the empty fireplace. He looked as bad as Mulder felt. It didn’t help that Susan and Michael were acting like two teenagers in love; not leaving each other alone for a minute. Currently, they were lying in bed with Susan draped over Michael’s chest while he read. Susan would murmur to him as he read silently to himself and run her hand over his chest. It was hotter than hell out since the rain stopped. The blaring sun brought out the light and heat. Susan was wearing a bikini top and the shortest shorts Mulder had ever seen. He could understand the need for such little clothing, he was sweating like a pig, but he refused to remove his shirt. Scully was sitting silently out on the back porch reading as well. Mulder wished he could just relax and read, but he couldn’t turn his brain off enough to concentrate on the written word. He wondered aimlessly around the cabin before he found himself at the foot of Michael and Susan’s bed. Her hand had strayed from his chest to the muscles of his abdomen while one of his hands was just above her ass.

He cleared his throat and Michael looked up at him over his book. Susan’s hand stilled, but she didn’t turn her head to look at him. “What’re you doing?” Mulder asked, lamely.

Susan rolled to look at him. “What’s the matter, Mulder, bored?”

He shrugged.

“Why don’t you find something to read?” Michael suggested.

He shrugged again. “Don’t want to,” he said. “Why aren’t you reading something?” he asked Susan.

She smiled. “I am.”

Mulder frowned.

Michael marked the page in his book, letting it drop to his chest.

Susan sighed. “When a person reads, if the story is any good, they get mental pictures, right?”

Mulder nodded, taking a seat at the end of the bed. Michael and Susan moved their feet to avoid being squished.

“Well, Mike’s reading and I’m reading him. It’s really a lot of fun,” she added.

Mulder furrowed his brows. “Let me get this straight. Michael’s reading, and you’re reading the mental pictures he’s getting.”

Susan nodded.

“That’s pretty cool.”

“It is,” Michael said. “We’ve only recently discovered that we could do it.”

“And,” Susan said. “It’s better if it’s a book one of us have already read. Everyone gets a different perspective of what they’re reading, it looks different than how you would see it. So, I get to see his prospective.”

Mulder nodded, understanding. “What are you reading?”

“Exit to Eden,” Michael said.

“Scully read that,” Mulder said.

Susan nodded. “Yeah, I know she’s the one who recommended it to me.”

“What’s it about?”

Susan licked her lips. “Why don’t you ask Dana?”

Mulder frowned. “Why?”

“You might learn some things about her.”

He started to stand. “Ah, OK.” He had an idea now of what the book was about. There had to be sex or something in it. That was probably why Susan and Michael were so, what’s the word? Cuddly while they were reading.

Susan sat up, pulling Michael with her. “Want go for a swim?” she asked Michael, with a tilt of her head, her hand still holding his.

A slow smile crossed his face. “I would be interested in a… swim, about now.”

Mulder rolled his eyes and walked away. “God, it’s like they’re in heat,” he said to himself. He turned suddenly when Susan let out a peal of laughter. Michael had picked her up and was carrying her out of the cabin over his shoulder. She wasn’t really putting up a fight, she was laughing too hard.

Ryan got up from his stupor on the couch, watching them leave. “Guess I won’t be going swimming for awhile,” he said, shaking his head with disdain. “I’m going for a walk,” he said going out the back door.

Scully jumped when the door slammed shut behind him, watching him stomp down the stairs.

Mulder suddenly felt very alone. He envied Michael and Susan’s easy relationship. They were so, he couldn’t quiet find the word, right for each other. He wished he and Scully could be like that together. He sighed and ran a hand through his hair.

“Where did everyone go?” Scully asked, putting her book down on the table next to the couch.

Mulder turned to her, surprised to hear her voice. “They, ah,” he stammered. “Ryan went for a walk and Michael and Susan went for a swim.”

Scully nodded. “A swim sounds good about now,” she said before she started towards her room to change.

Mulder’s eyes widened. “Ah, Scully, I don’t think that’s such a good idea,” he said.

She turned around, frowning. “Why?”

Mulder fidgeted. “Um, I’m sure they’d pick a secluded place, but…,” he trailed off.

Scully’s mouth formed an O.

“I mean, God, what’s going on with them?” he asked. “They’re practically all over each other.”

Scully chewed on her bottom lip. Should she say this? Should she open the door? “Um, Michael and Susan are, um, trying to, they’ve decided that they want…” She stopped.

“Want what?” Mulder asked.

Scully blurted it out. “They want to have a baby.”

Mulder didn’t move. “Oh,” was all he said.

They both stood there looking more than a little uncomfortable.

“That’s good, good for them,” he said.

Scully nodded. “Yeah.”

They were quiet again.

“Mulder.”

“Scully.”

They smiled.

“Go ahead,” Scully said.

Mulder shook his head. “No, you go, what were you going to say?”

Scully leaned back against the arm of the couch, her arms over her chest. “What do you want?” she asked, surprised she had the courage to say it.

Mulder looked down at the wooden floor before he brought his eyes to her’s “I have everything I want right in front of me.”

 Part 28

Scully gave him a sad smile. “Mulder.”

Mulder shook his head. “No, Scully, let me say this, please.” He nearly begged, knowing that if he didn’t say it now he wasn’t going to say it at all.

Scully took a deep breath and nodded.

He stared at her for a moment before he looked down at the floor, running a hand though his shaggy hair. He was losing his nerve fast. “I know I’ve been distant,” he started. “And I know I’ve been giving you mixed signals. But, I’m not sure what’s going on with me, I’m not used to this.”

“What, Mulder? What’s going on inside that head of yours?”

He looked down at the floor, again. “I feel like I’m not myself right now. Nothing is as it was. Physically, I can’t rely on myself, emotionally.” he trailed off giving her a wry grin. “Well, emotionally, I was always a little off.”

She returned his smile.

He turned around, unsure of himself, speaking with his back to her. “My world has been turned upside down and I feel like I’m just hanging on for dear life.” He faced her again. “The psychologist in me is telling me that I need stability right now, but I can’t have it. We’re hiding out in the middle of nowhere in a place I’m not familiar with. My ex-girlfriend and my current girlfriend.” He looked up at her to see her reaction to the ‘g word’, but she only nodded for him to continue, so he looked back at the floor. “The two woman who I have cared the most for are the best of friends. There’s a man here who could break me in half if he wanted to, but he’d rather have sex with my ex-girlfriend and it bothers me that it doesn’t bother me.” He looked up at her to see if she understood, and he had the feeling she did. “My partner, who I can count the number of times I made love to on one hand is about three months pregnant with my child, which she wasn’t supposed to have. And if I allow my mind to relax, I am reminded of the hell I went through while my partner, my ex-girlfriend and her finance searched for me.” He looked toward the lake. “Hell, I don’t even have to let my mind relax, all I have to do is breath and my mind flashes back.”

“Mulder,” Scully sighed, taking a step toward him.

A tear slipped down his cheek as he turned his head to look back at her. “I’m sorry to lay all this on you, but I’m not sure what to do. I feel like I’m going insane. I don’t want to do this to you, but I have no one else, I don’t want anyone else, Scully.”

Scully’s eye’s welled up with tears. “Mulder, you will always have me – have always had me.” She reached out tentatively to take his hands. He let her hold them, but made no effort to wrap his fingers around hers. “I want you to talk to me. I need you to.” Her eyes took on a pleading look. “We work best together, let me help you.”

He looked at her, his lips trembling. “This should be a happy time for you. You shouldn’t have to worry about me.”

Tears fell unnoticed down her face. “Mulder, I am happy.”

He gave her a look that conveyed his confusion. ‘How the hell can you be happy?’ it asked.

She smiled weakly. “Mulder, think about it. It’s like you said. I’m pregnant with a baby I shouldn’t be able to have. I know it’s fine and I have no doubts about it’s father is. It’s a man I love so much it scares me and I no longer fear I will never see him again. He’s standing right in front of me.”

He swallowed.

She shook his hands for emphasis. “I know what you’re going through, I’ve been there myself. Your wounds will heal, the ones no one can see just take a little longer and you will be stronger because of it, we both will.”

“Scully,” he croaked. “I don’t know if I can do this.”

She gave him a smile that showed her strength and determination. “You can, Mulder. You can, just let me help you.”

Large, fat tears rolled down his face. Scully barley saw him nod before he fell to his knees, his hands still clutched in hers. A heartbreaking sob escaped his lips as all the control he was struggling to hold slipped. Scully followed him to the floor and took him in her arms, holding his head to her chest. She whispered senseless words to him while she rocked him, wishing she could take his pain and fight his demons for him, but she knew this was one battle he had to fight for himself, she could only provide backup.

After a little while, Scully pulled back to look at his face and wiped tears away from his cheeks. “Why don’t you go lay down?” she murmured to him.

He bit his lip. “I don’t want to,” he pouted.

She smiled at him. “OK, Mulder. We don’t have to anything you don’t want to do.”

He looked at her to see if she was making fun of him, but her face only showed her sincerity.

She tilted her head to the side. “Do you want to lie on the couch? I could read to you if you want. I’ll make something for you to eat.”

Mulder studied her. This was a side to Scully he hadn’t seen in a long time, the doctor/mother Scully that loved to take care of him. He rarely allowed her, but he needed this so much right now. “Yeah,” he said, a small smile forming. “Yeah, I could use that right now.”

Her eyes lit up. “Which part?” she asked as she helped him stand, still holding his hands.

“All of it.”

She grinned. “OK, just lie down and I’ll be right back.”

Mulder sat down on the couch and watched Scully head into the kitchen. There was no wall separating it from the living room, so he had an unobstructed view of her. He shook his head and looked down at the floor. What did he ever do to deserve this woman?

In less time then he expected, Scully returned with two cups of tea brewed from the water Michael pumped earlier and a bowl of Dinty Moore Beef Stew balanced between the cups. “There’s no milk,” she said apologetically. “I know how much you hate the powered kind, but it’s all we have.”

He shrugged. “It’s fine,” he said taking the cup from her. “Thank you.”

She smiled at him, placed the bowl on the table and sat down next to him, watching him sip from the cup.

He noticed her scrutiny and lowered the cup. “You going to watch me eat?” he asked, a bit more harshly than he intended. He felt like shit when she flinched.

“Sorry,” she said, looking away.

Mulder cursed under his breath as he put the mug down. What an ass he was. “Scully,” he said, turning towards her. “Hey.” He placed a hand on her arm.

She turned to look at him, giving him a smile he knew was forced.

“I’m sorry. I know I’m acting like a bear with a wounded paw.”

Scully waved a hand in the air. “It’s all right, I understand.”

Mulder shook his head. “No, I’m sorry I spoke to you like that.” He sat back, his body turned to face her. “Here you are doing everything you can to make me feel better and I nearly bite your head off.”

Scully nodded, accepting his apology.

He stared at her, making her feel uncomfortable. The look in his eyes caused a blush to rise up her chest, to her neck and cheeks. One would label the look as smoldering.

“Don’t start anything you can’t finish, Mulder,” she said. God, when did her voice get so deep?

Mulder grinned. “Man are you in trouble when I can.”

Scully didn’t know her face could get any hotter.

He continued to stare at her until he had her squirming in her seat. “Mulder, stop.”

His grinned widened. “What?”

Scully shook her head. “Eat, before it gets cold.”

He narrowed his eyes. “You know, if I was feeling stronger, I’d have a come back for that.”

She lightly smacked his arm.

He chuckled and picked up the bowl. His nose wrinkled at the sight of the brown mush. “What is this?”

“Stew,” she said, her voice sounding almost normal.

His lips pulled back revealing his distaste. “Are you sure? It looks like dog food. Maybe Ruffus would like it. As a matter of fact, where is that dog?”

Scully sighed, handing him a spoon. “Susan and Michael let him out earlier, he wanted to explore, Susan said. And yes, I’m sure it’s stew and not dog food.”

Mulder took the spoon and loaded it up with stew. “If you say so,” he said, giving her a sidelong glance. “After all, I trust you.”

Scully smiled. “I trust you, too,” she said in a whisper.

Mulder grinned, then started shoving the food in. Even though his body felt like crap, his appetite wasn’t hindered at all. Scully felt some relief at that.

When he was finished, Mulder put the empty bowl on the table. “For dog food, that was pretty good.”

Scully raised an eyebrow at him. “I was wondering when you were going lick the bowl.”

“If I wasn’t in such good company, I would have.”

She shook her head, picked up the bowl and headed into the kitchen. “You said Susan and Michael were spending some quality time in the lake?” Scully asked on her way back.

Mulder nodded. “Yeah, but after you told me why they were acting the way they were, I’m a little confused.”

“Why?” Scully asked sitting down next to him.

He shrugged. “I read once that water isn’t the best of places to try to conceive.”

Scully looked at him. “Do I want to know where and when you read this?”

He looked uncomfortable.

“Mulder?”

He took a sip of his tea before he answered. “It was after Emily.”

Scully frowned. She hadn’t expected that.

“You know I kinda already knew about your not being able to have children, but I never knew how you felt about that.”

Scully turned to face him.

“When I saw how attached you were to Emily and how much it bothered you that you couldn’t conceive, I started looking into things.”

“Why?”

Mulder drained the rest of his drink and placed the cup on the table before he turned to face her. “I.” He looked down at his hands. “If it wasn’t for me, you wouldn’t have been in that situation. If it wasn’t for me, you would have been able to have children.”

She gave him a sad smile. “This is all a bit moot, now, isn’t it?” she asked, rubbing her tummy.

Mulder watched her hand move across her belly. “Yeah, I guess all that guilt and self loathing was kinda wasted, wasn’t it?”

“And, Mulder it wasn’t your fault,” she said, reaching out to take his hand.

He let out a huff. “Well, it wasn’t as if I didn’t have enough guilt and stuff to spare.”

Scully shook her head. She knew this was a losing battle and shouldn’t waste the energy, so she didn’t even attempt it.

“Anyway,” Mulder said, changing the subject. “That was why I was looking into it.”

“Emily,” Scully croaked out.

He looked at her sharply, afraid he may have upset her with the mention of her lost daughter, but it didn’t seem that way. Scully had long since resigned herself to the loss of what she thought was going to be her only child.

“What did you look into?”

He paused before he answered. “IVF, donor eggs, adoption.”

Scully’s brow knitted together. “Mulder, you were there when they turned down my attempt to adopt Emily, what made you think it would be different at a later time?”

Mulder suddenly looked as if he wanted to be any place other than were he was.

“Mulder?” he prompted.

“It wasn’t for you, it was for me.”

She didn’t understand.

“I was looking into adopting a child for me, for you.”

She still didn’t get it and her face showed that fact.

“I was looking to see if it was plausible for me to adopt a child. I thought it would be a way for you to have a child, if we ever got closer.”

“Closer,” Scully said softly. “How close?”

He shrugged. “I guess kind of like where we are now, but on a more permanent basis.”

“Are we talking about what I think we’re talking about?” Scully asked, breathlessly.

He shrugged again.

“And you were thinking about this back then?”

He didn’t really nod, just moved his head a little.

“Why didn’t you ever say anything?”

Again, he shrugged.

Scully shook her head. When had this intelligent man lost his ability to speak? “Mulder.”

“It doesn’t matter, Scully. My odds of being able to adopt, I discovered, were worse than yours.” He settled himself further into the cushions of the couch, his strength was starting to leave him as were the effects of the pain medication he had taken.

“It does matter, Mulder,” Scully said. “You took it upon yourself to do something like that. You should have said something to me.”

Mulder looked away. “I guess you’re right.”

“And about the other thing,” she said, turning her body so it faced his.

“Yeah,” he said with apprehension, but Scully could see the interest in his eyes.

“Why didn’t you ever say anything about that?”

“Because it never seemed like the right time,” he said, reaching a hand out to stroke her hair. “Just as I was starting to think about it again, I was off to Oregon.”

Scully winced at the memory, but didn’t let it ruin the mood. “Is that why you said what you said when you left your apartment that night?”

A slow smile formed on his lips. “And what did I say that night?”

Scully leaned closer to him, her breath hot on his face. “First, you told me you loved me.”

Mulder cupped her jaw and saw her eyes close. “God, do I ever.”

“I know you do,” she whispered. “And I love you.”

Mulder leaned in to kiss her, but she moved away, not letting him. She wasn’t finished.

“Then, you said something else, do you remember?”

He bumped her nose with his then drew his lips across her jaw. She could hear him breathe in deeply. God, when he was strong enough to finish things, both of them were in trouble. “Yeah, I remember,” he rasped in her ear. “I told you I loved you.” He moved his lips along the shell of her ear. He could feel her starting to tremble. “And said that was the last time I was leaving you, ever.”

“And,” she said in a broken voice. “Do you remember what I said?”

Mulder pulled back so he could see her face. She slowly opened her eyes and he could see that her pupils were dilated and she breathing rapidly. He imagined the same was true about him, but all he could feel was her. She had unconsciously moved closer to him and was pressing her body against his. The wounds on his chest were protesting, but it was as if Scully was a painkiller herself, because he felt none of it.

“You told me you’d always be with me, even if you weren’t there and I’d always be with you,” he said in a soft voice.

She slowly blinked. “And little did I know I had a part of you with me already,” her voice broke on the last word.

“Scully,” he breathed, drawing her to him.

Their lips met tentatively at first, but soon turned into the familiar kisses they shared before life forever changed for them. Their embrace was one of remembrance, hoping to capture the few moments of security they found in each other ever so briefly. It also spoke of things to come. ***

The day passed with relative quiet. Ryan was nowhere to be seen and Michael and Susan had stayed away from the cabin until late afternoon. Mulder wondered if it had more to do with the exchange he and Scully shared rather than their current task of behaving like rabbits in heat. He shared his observations with Scully, but she just chuckled and continued to run her hand through his hair. He was lying on the couch with his head in her lap as she read to him. If anyone asked, he’d have no idea what she was reading or what it was about. He wasn’t really listening to the words, but to the cadence of her voice. He wasn’t sure if it was a complement or not, but she could lull him into a light sleep by reading anything. She could be dictating notes on an autopsy and he’d start to get sleepy. She thought he didn’t observe her autopsies because she thought they made him queasy. After almost falling off those metal stools three times in a row because he was nodding off, he stopped coming.

“Mulder?” Scully asked.

The only reason he heard her was because she stopped stroking his hair.

“Hmm?” he asked, slowly opening his eyes.

“I asked if you were hungry,” she said, smiling down at him.

Now that he thought about it, he was a little hungry. “A little,” he said.

Scully craned her neck to look behind her. “Yeah,” she said. “We both could use something.”

Mulder heard Susan answer her. “All right. I’ll heat something up for the mean time.” Then he heard her footsteps head outside.

“Mike,” Susan called.

He turned around, a shotgun resting against his shoulder. “Be careful, all right?” “Always,” he said with a smile and trotted off into the woods.

Susan watched him go with trepidation. She should be the one to go hunting, she’d be able to sense the animals, but she couldn’t bring herself to it. She couldn’t even accompany him. She wasn’t against hunting, as long as it was for food, not for sport and definitely not to hang a head on the wall, but she couldn’t bring herself to kill an animal. She’d be able to sense it’s fear, it’s life force leave and it would be her undoing. She assumed that if she was starving she’d be able to. You never know what you’d be capable of if pushed into it. Just like she never thought she’d be able to kill a human being, but she’d done it on more occasions than she’d like to remember. She’d even killed someone with her mind.

She shuddered suddenly and pushed the memories out of her mind. She reminded herself she’d only done that once and it was out of self preservation. She doubted she’d be able to do it again. It was more intimate than driving a knife into someone’s chest because instead it going into his body, it was going into his mind. Then, her thoughts wandered to the small lead object she was carrying in her pocket. A sneer formed. Then again..

***

 

It rained off and on for the next few days. By the third day, everyone was getting a dose of cabin fever. If one more person got in the way of another, Mulder was sure it would come to blows. Ryan and Michael were the worst. Ryan reminded Mulder of Scully’s brother Bill. He never really said what he was feeling outright, except for a word here and there, but you could see his disdain on his face. What he didn’t like was a mystery to Mulder. He just seemed genuinely unhappy about everything, but he didn’t stay quiet about his feelings when it came to Michael. If they didn’t look so alike, Mulder would have wondered if they were really related, they were so different.

Then, Mulder walked into a heated argument between Michael and his brother. He wondered if he would have the strength to break them apart if it came to that. He doubted he could even if he was at his prime. It would be like getting between two Rotweilers with rabies. He stayed within shouting distance of the men, thinking that he could shout out to Susan, where ever the hell she was. He knew she’d be able to stop it if need be.

“I don’t give a FUCK what you think,” Michael spat.

“I just want to know when you became such a pussy,” Ryan returned.

Mulder could hear the slur in his voice and knew Ryan had been drinking.

“Just because you did it doesn’t mean I have to.”

Ryan let out a huff. “Jesus, Mike, she wanted you so badly.”

“Good for her,” he said. Mulder heard a thump and wondered if he threw something at Ryan.

“She could barely keep her legs closed when she was you. Susan would never had known.”

Mulder shook his head. Susan would have known right away.

“I would never do that to Susan.”

The smirk could be heard in Ryan’s voice. “Yeah, that’s right, you love her.”

Michael didn’t respond.

“It’s not like you hadn’t done it before, before Susan.”

Mulder blinked and nearly jumped out of his skin when a hand landed on his shoulder.

“What are you doing?” It was Scully.

“Shhh,” he said putting a finger to his lips.

She frowned her disapproval at him but didn’t move.

“Yeah, well. I’m never doing something like that again. That’s not who I am anymore.”

Scully gave a questioning glance to Mulder. He just shook his head.

“So, what? You meet Susan and you turn over a new leaf?”

“Something like,” he mumbled.

Ryan chuckled. “She that good a lay?”

Mulder and Scully jumped when they heard a crash and a shout. Scully started to go into the room, but Mulder stopped her. “I don’t think that’s a good idea, Scully.”

Scully looked at him.

“It’s not as if you could stop them, anyway. Besides, I think Ryan had it coming.”

Michael moved with a swiftness of someone half his size. He had Ryan pinned against the wall with his forearm pressed into his throat. Ryan’s arm was twisted in an extremely uncomfortable position behind him.

“Now you listen to me, you drunk bastard.” he growled, his Boston accent reasserting itself.

Ryan gurgled a response. Michael was quickly cutting of his air supply.

“Just because you fucked up your marriage and your relationship with Molly does not mean you have the right to fuck with my life! Do you understand me?” A few pieces of spittle landed on Ryan’s cheek. His eyes were bulging out of his red face. Where did the little brother he used to pick on incessantly, go? The man before him looked as if he had no qualms about applying just a little more pressure on his throat to kill him.

“And if I ever hear you say anything like that about Susan again, I won’t hesitate to kill you. I’ll bury your body in a place where no one would find you and think nothing about it, you got that?”

Ryan blinked, he’d nod, but he couldn’t move his head.

Michael pushed harder against his brother, then released him, letting him slide bonelessly to the floor.

Ryan dropped to the floor coughing and rubbing his neck. Michael stood over him.

“You really are pathetic, you know that? You have a wife and children that love you and you do nothing but fuck it up. If I were Molly I wouldn’t take you back this time.”

He wouldn’t look at him.

Michael kicked Ryan’s foot before he left the room. Mulder and Scully scattered as he approached them. If he knew they had overheard, he didn’t show it. He just stormed off out into the rain.

They turned to see Susan on the other side of the cabin, her back to them, standing like a statue. Her arms were crossed over her chest. She made no effort to acknowledge their presence.

Mulder and Scully looked at each other and silently agreed to leave Susan alone. Without a word they went into their room, closing the door behind them.

Susan continued to stare out the window watching Michael cut wood in the rain. He knew she could see him but didn’t seem to care. Susan would leave him to himself for the time being. They had spoken of his past one evening and she knew he wasn’t proud of it. Ryan knew it was a sore spot, too, and said it just to egg him into an argument and it had worked. Now, Michael would beat himself up about it all over again and be pissed at himself for losing his temper.

Susan looked up at the gray skies and sighed. The rain had finally stopped.

***

 

Mulder couldn’t sleep. He was too hot, but when he tossed off the sheet, he was too cold. In the light streaming in from the windows, he could see Scully sleeping peacefully next to him, her hair spilled out on the pillow under her; her arm slung over his chest. He smiled in spite himself. As shitty as he was feeling, he’d never felt better.

He slowly got up, knowing that if he stayed any longer he’d wake her up and she needed her sleep.

He padded noiselessly across the room and closed the door behind him. In the darkness, he could see Michael and Susan’s bed, but he couldn’t make out who was what. All he saw was a big lump. He thought it was interesting that when he and Susan slept together, they would fall asleep in each other’s embrace, but wake up apart. He thought it was because she was like a portable furnace and she made him too hot during the night, but so was Scully and he didn’t move away from her. The nights he shared with her, he always woke up wrapped around her. He wondered if it was Susan who moved away from him. Pondering this, he made his way outside into the warm night. The stars shined like millions of holes poked into sky. Without the light from any cities and the event of a new moon, he could see every star in the night sky. He scanned the area and saw a figure on the dock. He squinted his eyes; it was Susan. He frowned. What was she doing out alone?

Susan didn’t move when he approached and sat down next to her. He flung his legs over the side, dunking his feet into the water, mimicking her.

“What are you doing out here?” his voice sounded loud to his own ears.

He could hear her breath in. “Listening,” she stated in a low voice.

“To what?” he said in the same voice.

She shrugged.

“Why so quiet?” he murmured.

She turned to look at him, the night casting shadows across her face. Mulder had forgotten how beautiful she was. She gave him a small smile. “‘Cause.”

He nodded. “All right.”

She looked away. “You know,” she whispered. “Gabriel said that if my mother hadn’t died, I would have known how to do this sooner.” She snorted. “I thought I was over wishing for her.”

“I don’t think you ever get over something like that,” Mulder said.

“You’re probably right.”

Mulder laughed and Susan gave him a questioning look.

“What?”

“I think that was the first time I ever heard you say that.”

Susan grinned. “Well, don’t get used to it, buddy.”

Mulder leaned back on his hands. Susan didn’t miss him wince, but didn’t say anything.

“So, what exactly is it that you do?”

Susan turned, bringing one leg up under her. She didn’t seem to care that she just got her rear wet. “What, listening?”

“Yeah.”

Susan seemed to think this over for a minute before she answered him. “If you believe some religions, everything has a life force, the trees, the grass, the animals…”

He sat up. “And you can hear this force?”

She nodded slowly. “In a simplistic explanation that’s exactly what I’m doing.”

“And you can turn this off and on whenever you want?”

“It seems so.”

“That’s really cool.”

Susan snorted. “As long as I can control the volume, it is pretty cool.”

“And if you can’t?”

“It’s like a million voices talking at once.”

Mulder made a face, he knew what that was like. “So, you keep it low.”

She nodded.

He turned to face her. “Can you show me?”

He saw something pass over her features before she looked away. “Susan?”

She licked her lips. “I, ah,” she stammered before she looked back at him. “I’m sorry, but I can’t.”

Mulder frowned. “Why?”

“I just can’t”

He felt dejected. “Can’t or won’t?”

Susan fell back so that her body was resting on the deck and she had an panoramic view of the stars. “I’m sorry, Mulder.”

Mulder laid down next to her, propping his head on his hand. “Why?”

Susan mirrored his action so they were lying facing each other. “I promised myself I wouldn’t do that anymore. I’ll show you your baby, but I won’t show you what I feel or see.”

Mulder still didn’t understand. “Why? Why now?”

Susan sighed. “Because I thought about it and decided I wasn’t going to do that with anyone other than Michael. It’s too much.”

Mulder didn’t respond.

“Think about it, Mulder. It’s more intimate than sex. When we made love, I allowed you into my body and we no longer do that. We’ve made commitments to others. If I let you into my mind, to me, that’s more intimate than letting you into my body. I would be betraying Michael more than if we had sex.”

“But, we’ve done it before.” He still didn’t understand.

“I know and now that I thought about it, I don’t think I should have.”

“Did Michael say anything?”

Susan smiled. “No, and no, it didn’t bother him. He knew that you were my first, so to speak, and at the time neither of us saw it that way.”

“But now you both do.”

“Me more so than him.”

Mulder nodded. “I think I understand.”

“You know, one thing though,” she said, thoughtfully. “I don’t think it would bother him if I did it with Dana.”

Mulder smiled wolfishly.

Susan smacked him with her free hand. “And not for that reason, you pig. It’s because she’s a woman. What is it with men?”

His smile remained when he answered. “You said it, we’re pigs.”

Susan chuckled. “At least you admit it.”

Mulder joined in on her laughter.

Just after midnight, he left Susan to ponder the stars and returned to Scully who hadn’t moved an inch while he was gone. He looked down at the woman before him and no longer cared to wonder what would have happened if Susan hadn’t been transferred so many years ago. It was like she said that night that felt like another life; what if all things led up to this moment, to the two of them together. For the first time in his life he finally felt like he was were he was supposed to be.

***

 

Michael watched Mulder make his way back into his room. He waited until the door closed before he got up. He shrugged on a shirt, buttoning it as walked toward the door. When he opened it, he saw Susan still lying out on the dock. He slowly approached her.

She rolled over and looked up at him, but made no other moves.

Michael spread himself out next to her. “Whatcha doing?”

“It seems strange men like to visit me at night,” she said in a light voice.

He smiled. “Yeah?”

“Yeah.”

“So,” he said, inching towards her. “What were you two doing out here, in the dark, all alone.”

Susan raised an eyebrow. “Talking.”

Michael nodded, as if he already knew that. “You weren’t doing anything else?” he said in a playful manner.

Susan picked this up and smiled. “Noooo.”

He nodded again. “You mean, you weren’t doing this?” He leaned in to kiss her throat.

“No,” she said moving her head to give him better access.

He reached out to cup her breast, his thumb tracing over her nipple. “Or this?”

“No,” she sighed.

“Too bad,” he said, just before he kissed her. “It seems like fun.”

Susan leaned back, bringing him with her as she wrapped her hands around him. One was buried in his hair while the other ran up and down his back.

Michael slid his hand down her side to cup her breast again. If he had to pick his favorite parts of her body, her breasts were high up on the list.

He felt her hands move from around him and start to push on his chest. He pulled away, a look of confusion on his face.

She didn’t say anything, but the mischievous smile on her lips explained more than words could ever.

He allowed her to push him onto his back. She straddled his hips causing both of them to groan.

Susan leaned over him as she attacked his mouth, releasing him only after lack of oxygen became a factor. Slowly, with a maddening pace, she kissed her way down his face to his jaw and down his neck. As she did this, she methodically unbuttoned his shirt.

Michael allowed her to set the pace, knowing for some reason, she wanted to be in control tonight. His hands didn’t remain idle, though, and more than once, she had to push them away to continue her task of undressing him.

Once all the buttons were undone, she spread her hands out on his chest and moved the fabric aside, but she didn’t attempt to rid him of it. She leaned down to take his small nipple in her mouth, her tongue circling around it.

Michael bit back a groan, his hands squeezing her hips.

Susan gave the other nipple the same attention before she sat up and pulled her shirt over her head. Michael looked up at her in awe. Millions of stars surrounded her giving her an ethereal look. He trailed a hand up her body to her neck, with a slight tug, he pulled her crashing down on him, his mouth colliding with hers. While they worshipped each other’s mouths, her hands traveled down his body, her intent clear.

Under the night sky, she made love to him.

***

 

Daybreak, The next morning.

Susan sat down on the front step, dropping her bare feet into the wet, dewy grass. The cabin was silent behind her and she couldn’t seem to stop smiling.

Ruffus sat down next to her, and she ruffled his fur. He licked her in response.

Last night had been something more than Susan could ever have imagined. She felt at peace, something she hadn’t felt in a really long time. Other than the sour feelings coming off of Ryan, every one was in high spirits. Mulder and Dana were back on course, whatever course that was and she and Michael were united in a purpose so wonderful whenever she thought about it, it made her breath catch. God, they were making a baby.

She grinned at the thought. They were going to be a Mommy and a Daddy. It was strange how such a normal, instinctual event could make her feel so, so. She couldn’t even name it. Now, she understood why Dana felt the way she did. And Susan didn’t have a problem conceiving.

She leaned back on her hands, looking out as the sun started to rise over the lake. It was a beautiful sight. Maybe she should wake Michael so he could share it with her. She started to get up when she noticed something. The woods around them were quiet. A deer appeared at the tree break and she zeroed in on it. She felt it’s fear and quickening of it’s heartbeat. Besides her, Ruffus wined.

Susan felt her heart start to race.

Someone was coming.

 Part 29

Susan bounded up the stairs, tripping in her haste. She fell hard on her knee and threw her hand out to balance herself. She sprang up, ignoring the pain and threw the door open.

“GET UP!” she shouted in the quiet room.

Michael sat up in bed, his hair pointing out in different directions. “What’s going on?”

Susan threw his boxer shorts at him as she ran across the floor to Mulder and Scully’s room. “SOMEONE’S HERE!”

Michael sprang into action, hoping on one leg as he dressed. “Who’s here?”

Susan ignored him as she opened Mulder and Scully’s door, slamming it against the wall. The agents startled awake, Mulder crying out in pain as he sat up.

“GET UP! WE NEED TO GET OUT OF HERE!!” Susan yelled.

Scully scrambled out of bed and pulled on the shorts laying on the dresser. “What’s the matter?” she asked.

Mulder was getting dressed, albeit much more slowly.

“We have company!” she said, leaving the room.

Mulder and Scully exchanged looks before they followed her out of the room.

Ryan was standing next to Michael, a sleepy expression on his face. “Whazz goin’ on?” he asked, rubbing his eyes.

“Someone’s coming,” she stated.

“Who?” he asked.

Susan shook her head. “Michael, go down into the cellar, get whatever you think we’ll need.”

He gave her a curt nod before he followed her orders and took off outside toward the cellar doors.

“What’s in the cellar?” Scully asked while she sat on the sofa putting on her shoes.

“Weapons, any kind you can imagine.”

Scully gave her a surprised look.

Susan shrugged “Told you this was supposed to be in case of invasion.”

Ryan stepped forward. “Invasion by whom?”

Mulder stood next to Scully. “Not who, what.”

“What?”

Mulder turned to Susan. “How much time do we have?”

Susan shook her head. “I don’t know, I can’t sense them.”

Scully rose from her seated position. “Then how do you know they’re coming?”

“A deer told me.”

Mulder and Scully just looked a her.

“Will someone please tell me what’s going on?”

Susan looked at him. “There’s no time. All you need to know is that there are people after us and they’re not the prize patrol.”

“What do they want?”

“Me,” Mulder and Susan said.

They stared at each other.

“I’m going to go see what’s holding up Mike,” Ryan said.

“There’s no need,” a voice said from the doorway.

The group turned to see a man dressed in camouflage commando gear holding a very large weapon. He turned to allow another man pass him and into the cabin. He was dragging Michael along with him.

The soldier held Michael in front of him, with a pistol jammed against his forehead. Michael was bleeding profusely from his nose. His left eye was already swelling shut and there was a nasty cut on his temple. The soldier was also bleeding from his nose, but his looked broken.

“Nobody move or the pretty boy gets it,” he said in a nasally baritone.

Susan held her breath.

Another man entered through the front door and closed it behind him.

All the newcomers were armed with automatic rifles and handguns. They had ammunition strapped across their chests. They also had some kind of device clipped onto their belts. They were each dressed in camouflage and had to be sweating in the oppressive heat.

Susan couldn’t sense any of their presence, but could get an impression of them. It was like getting a feeling of someone after they left the room. They only seemed to be emitting a shadow of themselves. Something was masking them.

“What do you want?” Mulder asked.

The soldier at the door gave him a menacing smile. “I think you know.”

“Fine,” Susan stepped forward. “Let him go and I will come with you.”

“Susan,” Michael groaned, struggling against the man. The other soldier standing beside him jabbed him in the gut with the butt of his gun for his efforts.

Michael sagged against his captor, coughing. Susan gritted her teeth, anger welling up in her.

“I’ll go,” Mulder said.

Susan looked at him. “No,” she said, hoping the anger could not be heard in her voice as she stepped closer to the man at the front door. “I’m more of a prize than he is. I’ll go with you willingly if you swear to leave them alone.”

“These men can’t be trusted,” Mulder said, starting toward her, but Scully put a hand on his arm, stopping him.

She gave him a pleading look hoping Mulder understood.

Susan ignored them.

“Susan, please, they’ll kill you,” Michael begged.

“Nah,” the man holding him said. “They’ll just make her wish she was dead.”

Susan turned to look at Michael. His left eye was completely swollen shut, but the cut on his forehead had stopped bleeding as well as his nose. His good eye was trained on her and she could hear his pleadings in her mind.

She focused her thoughts on him. “Trust me.”

Michael did not look away when she turned to face the man by the door.

“Whatta you say?” she asked.

The man shrugged. “It’d be fine by me, but I’m not in charge here.”

“Who is?”

“He’ll be here soon.”

Susan frowned. “So what? You’re the scouting party?”

He shrugged again.

Susan took another step closer to him, but the man pointed his rifle at her. “I’d say that’s about close enough, wouldn’t you?”

Susan let out a put upon sigh. “Not that old ‘don’t come any closer cliché’ again,” she said, taking another step. She could hear a gun cocking behind her.

“Da man said don’t move,” the man not holding Michael said.

Susan didn’t move, not because he told her not to, but because she couldn’t. She stood rooted in place, her eyes on the man before her. A trickle of recognition streamed through her. She couldn’t get a good sense of him, but she felt a touch of familiarity from him. She tilted her head to the side as if she was listening to something.

She felt her body grow cold, starting at the tip of her head and then running down to her toes. Her skin prickled in goose-flesh and all her muscles tensed. Her breathing became ragged and her heart started to pound in her chest. She started to tremble.

It was a feeling not unfamiliar to her, but something she hadn’t felt in a long time. It was pure blinding rage.

“You motherfuckin’ sonofabitch,” she spat.

The soldier took a step back, his face ashen.

Susan reached into her pocket and withdrew the small piece of lead pulled from Michael’s body. She held it up into the light streaming in from the window so he could see it. She looked at the bullet she held between the thumb and forefinger of her right hand, the rage building.

Static electricity filled the room, making it feel like the air before a lightening storm. The tiny hairs on everyone’s skin stood on end. Scully could feel the storm building and she could see it coming off of Susan.

Susan returned her attention to the man. Her lips trembled as she spoke. “This is you,” she said in a voice barely audible. “You killed my friend, you almost killed my partner, and you almost killed me.”

The man took another step back, banging into the door. The other men were shouting in confusion and fear, their weapons swinging wildly from person to person. They could feel it, too. The one soldier had released Michael, shoving him to the floor, but he stayed there, not daring to interfere.

The soldier that was the center of Susan’s rage shook his head violently, not able to talk. Susan approached him slowly, talking as she walked. “You coated this with something hoping to give an agonizing death.”

He shook his head again.

“YES YOU DID!!!!!!” she screamed, the tendons in her neck stood out.

Susan’s outburst triggered the build up of her wrath into an explosion of power. The light bulbs in the small cabin shattered, the short-wave radio erupted into flames, sparks flying and the flashlights popped and cracked. Mulder pushed Scully to her knees, covering her with his body hoping to shield her from any flying glass.

Ryan broke from his spell and followed them to the floor. The soldiers remained standing, dumbfounded.

Susan’s eyes had taking on an insane quality, almost glowing in their madness. Her teeth were bared as if she was going to attack him and rip his throat out.

Susan stood, shaking. “You took my friend. You tortured him. You killed the only person who really understood me and tried to kill the only person I truly love.” Her voice was menacing in it’s calmness.

He shook his head again.

Susan breathed rapidly through her nose. “You people killed my parents, condemning me to a life of loneliness. And I’m going to kill you.”

Her wrath came to the boiling the point and exploded away from her. A wave of energy pulsed outward causing the men to be knocked to the ground. The bullets slung across their chests fired from the impact sending off an ear shattering explosion.

When it was all over, Susan was the last one standing, her body still shaking.

She threw the bullet at the dead soldier, not saying anything. She just stood there, her head hanging.

Michael slowly rose to his feet glancing at Mulder and Scully who were still on the floor, watching Susan. He limped across the room, approaching her carefully.

“Susie?” he said softly.

She didn’t respond.

He came up behind her and laid a hand on her shoulder. “Love,” he whispered.

He felt her startle as if waking from a dream. She looked at him, her eyes clouded.

“We need to get out of here.”

She continued to stare at him.

Michael turned her, holding her by her shoulders. He shook her gently. “There are more of them coming, we need to get out of here.”

He saw her eyes clear as she came back to herself. He smiled at her.

“Mike,” she breathed.

“Yeah, now come on.”

She allowed him to pull her to the door, but he had to stop to move the dead soldier. What was remaining of his torso left a large pool of blood around him.

When he opened the door, he noticed the others weren’t following. He turned to look at them. They had not moved.

“WE NEED TO GET OUT OF HERE!”

His voice spurred them into movement and they followed him outside.

“Where are we going?” Mulder asked.

Michael looked around the area trying to come up with a place to go.

“I know a place,” Susan said, taking Michael’s hand.

He looked at her. She gave him a weak smile.

“Lead the way.”

***

 

It had started to rain as she led them over a mile away to an old mining shaft, long forgotten. No one had spoken during their journey. All of them, except for Scully were barefoot and were trying to maneuver themselves around any harsh debris on the ground. That and the previous events had left them lost in thought.

“I guess we can hang out here until we figure out what we want to do,” Susan said, swiping her soaking wet hair out of her face.

They just nodded and entered the shaft and out of the rain.

Susan hung back, just inside. She could feel the fear and confusion rolling off the others.

“Michael,” Scully said. “I need to take a look at your eye.”

“I’m fine,” he mumbled, walking away from her.

She grabbed his arm. “The hell you are. Now, let me take a look.”

Mulder slid down the wall into a half aquatting, half sitting position, a bemused expression on his face. “It’s easier to just give in when she gets like that,” he said, slightly out of breath. The pace Susan kept was more than his weakened body could handle. He was starting to see spots before his eyes. He let his head hand between his knees, gulping air.

Scully looked at him for a minute before she returned her attention to Michael. She reached into her pocket and pulled out a penlight, shining it into his face.

“When did you pick up that?” Michael asked.

“When you work with Mulder for as long I have, you remember to bring a flashlight where ever you go. Now sit,” she said before she put the penlight between her teeth freeing both of her hands.

Michael complied wincing as she probed his eye.

Scully removed the penlight from her mouth. “I think it’ll be OK, it looks like a very bad black eye.”

Michael nodded.

“Does your head hurt?”

“No.”

“Nausea?”

“No.”

Scully looked over her shoulder to where Susan stood at the mouth of the shaft. She was standing with her back to them, looking out at the rain. “What the hell happened back there,” she whispered.

“That was Susan’s impression of the incredible Hulk,” he deadpanned.

She gave him a confused look.

“You don’t want to get her angry,” he said with a lopsided smile.

“Has that ever happened before?”

He shook his head. “No, never.”

“What do we do now?” she asked.

He shrugged. “Hang out here until we can come up with a plan.”

“Which is what?” Ryan asked coming up beside him.

Michael had forgotten about him.

“Beats the hell out of me,” he returned.

“Mike, what the hell happened?” he asked.

Michael glanced at Scully out of the corner of his good eye. “I don’t know, maybe something they were carrying short circuited.”

Ryan stared at him for a moment. “Yeah, that has to be it.”

***

 

Evening

The day passed in relative quiet, their grumbling stomachs interrupting the silence. They hadn’t come up with a plan and weren’t sure if they could.

Mulder and Scully laid curled up together, his head resting on her breast. Scully ran a hand through his hair as he dozed.

Ryan sat opposite them, watching their movements. His hands shook badly and he could feel the effects of not having a drink in twelve hours. His head was pounding and he was nauseous. And as he watched them murmur to each other and exchange small kisses, he missed his wife more than anything.

Susan had’t moved from her position at the entrance of the mine shaft. She was sitting with her legs up close to her body, her arms wrapped around her knees.

Michael came up beside her and sat down. “You doin’ all right?”

Susan lifted her eyes to look at him. “Not really,” she said.

He nodded.

“God, Michael,” she sighed, sitting up. “I was completely out of control back there.”

He didn’t respond, letting her talk.

“I…, I can’t believe I have that in me,” she said. “It just happened.”

“Susan.”

“Michael, I killed those men,” she said.

“It was an accident.”

She shook her head. “No, I wanted to kill them, more than anything else in the world, I wanted them dead.”

“Susan, I understand.”

“Do you? Do you really?”

He laid a hand on her arm. “Yes, I do.”

She gave him a tearful smile. “No, you don’t, because I don’t understand.”

“Susan.”

She shook her head. “Michael,” she breathed. “I enjoyed it.”

He froze.

“I enjoyed the fear I provoked, I enjoyed killing them,” she looked away, tears streaming down her face. “What does that make me?”

Michael moved closer, pulling her to him. She resisted at first, but he was much too strong for her. “It makes you human,” he whispered into her hair.

She sobbed into his shirt.

He held her to him, his hand cupping the back of her head. “They’ve hurt you so much. I understand you wanting to hurt them back. I do. If I had the power, I’d take out anyone who’d ever hurt you.”

She pulled back to look at him.

“And Susie,” he said. “I would want to do it slowly.”

Susan didn’t know how to answer that, so she just kissed him and moved back into his embrace. His arms protecting her.

***

 

Night

A branch cracked in the distance.

Susan woke with a start, her head coming off of Michael’s shoulder.

“What?” he asked sleepily.

She touched him, silencing him.

It sounded again.

“What was that?” Mulder whispered crawling up next to Michael, Scully behind him.

“Shhhh,” answered Susan.

“They’re coming,” Ryan quivered.

“Shut up!” Michael whispered harshly.

They were quiet listening to the darkness. There were no other sounds except their breathing. Susan closed her eyes, opening her mind to their surroundings. She didn’t sense anything, per se, but a disruption in the air around them.

“Someone’s coming, he’s about 5 yards away,” Susan whispered, standing.

“Can you sense him?” Michael asked, standing up as well.

“Not really, but I sense the change in the air.”

Michael nodded. “Is he getting closer?”

She nodded.

Michael moved so that his back was pressed against the side of the mine shaft, just inside. “Tell me when he’s coming,” he said, silently.

Susan nodded.

They waited a few seconds before Susan threw her hand up, giving him the signal.

Michael swung around the side of the entrance and grabbed a man. Pulling him hard, he slammed him against the stone wall.

He let out a large ‘oomph’ and dropped whatever he was carrying.

Susan picked it up and approached him where Michael was holding him pinned against the wall. “Let him go,” she said.

“Susan,” Michael protested.

“I said let him go.”

Michael hesitated before he complied. The man sagged back against the wall but made no move to make a break for it. He was dressed like the men back at the cabin, but he didn’t have any ammunition crossed over his chest. All he carried was a small handgun at his side and the device he dropped. He seemed terrified of Susan.

Susan put her face in his. “What’s this?” she asked, holding the device up so he could see it.

He didn’t answer.

Susan’s free hand shot out, grabbing a handful of hair at the back of his head. “I asked you a question.” She pulled at it roughly

“It’s… it’s… a, a tracking, a tracking device.”

“What are you tracking?”

Again he didn’t answer.

Susan moved closer to him, her nose inches from his. She released his hair to hold the back of his head. “If you don’t tell me, you are not going to like what I’ll do.”

He bit his lip.

Susan gripped his head tighter, her fingernails digging into his scalp. “How you would like to forget your most precious memory?” she asked in a low voice. “How would you like to forget what you’re parents look like?”

The man’s eyes widened.

“Feel that?” she asked.

It felt like worms were making their way through his brain.

“That’s me and oops, you just forgot your fifth birthday party, the one with the clown.” She gave him a smile.

“Susan,” Scully said stepping forward. “Don’t.”

Susan didn’t look at her. “It’s all right, Dana. I’m not going to hurt him, just scramble him up a bit.”

It felt as if the worms had multiplied by a thousand and he was going to pass out. “OK, OK. Just let me go.”

Susan didn’t move. “Tell me what this is?” she said, indicating the device.

“It’s like I said, it’s a tracking device.”

Susan looked down at it, releasing him. He fell to the floor.

“What are you tracking?”

He looked up at her. “The chip.”

 Part 30

Scully took an involuntary step back, her hand going to the small scar on the base of her neck.

Everyone turned to look at her.

Susan looked down at the device in her hand, a pulsating red light blipped on the LCD screen. She approached her, holding the device out, the light did not speed up. She frowned.

She addressed the soldier. “What chip are you tracking?”

He didn’t respond.

Susan felt her anger rise. She reached down, grabbed the man by the throat and hauled him to his feet. “WHAT GODDAMNED CHIP!!??” she shouted in his face.

He made choking sounds, trying to speak.

She released her grip slightly to allow him to talk. “What chip,” she growled.

He coughed once. “Not her’s, his,” he said, his eyes focusing on Mulder.

Susan squeezed his throat. “I removed that chip, don’t fuck with me.”

His eyes bulged out before she loosened her grip again. “It’s designed so that you can’t detect it, but it’s there.”

As Susan removed her hand, the man slid to the floor, rubbing his throat.

Mulder had backed up, his back bumping into the wall, looking as if he’d rather be any place else.

Susan walked up to him and pointed the device towards him.

The light pulsed rapidly.

Susan glanced at Michael, giving him a silent message.

Michael’s hand shot out grabbing Mulder by the forearm, his fingers digging into the flesh.

“What the hell are you doing?” Mulder protested, trying to dislodge his hand from Michael’s iron grip.

Susan ignored him. She scanned Mulder’s body with the device, the light didn’t change. She pursed her lips, there had to be a way to find the chip, she thought.

She held her empty hand out, palm up. She linked, in her mind, the impression of the device, the energy it was emitting and her mental scan of Mulder. Her hand slid almost sensuously across his skin, like a lover’s caress. When her hand moved over his left pectoral muscle, she knew she’d found it.

She looked up into his frightened eyes. “I found it,” she said softly.

He blinked at her. “Do what you need to do.”

She looked over his shoulder to Michael. “Hold ‘im still,” she said.

Michael moved so that he was standing directly behind Mulder. He took his other arm and brought it behind him. He links his arms around Mulder’s, holding him in place.

“What are you going to do?” Scully rushed out. She wasn’t sure she liked what was about to happen.

“I’m going to take the chip out.”

“How?”

Susan didn’t respond. She dropped the device, letting it fall and break onto the rocky floor. She reached into her back pocket, removing her father’s pearl handled butterfly knife. With a flick flick of her wrist, the blade was revealed, catching the starlight.

“What if something happens when we remove the chip, like what happened to me?” Scully asked, her fear causing her voice to rise. That may have been the first time she admitted that she believed the removal of the chip caused her cancer.

Susan looked down at the man still sitting on the floor. He didn’t dare try to run away. She gave him a questioning look.

The man, thinking it would be better to answer than to have her touch him again, responded. “It’s not like your chip,” he said to Scully. “It’s just a tracking device.”

Scully glanced at Susan. “How do we know he’s telling the truth?”

The man let out a humorless chuckle. “You think I’d lie to her?” he said, pointing his chin up toward Susan.

Susan smiled. “He learns fast, doesn’t he?” she asked no one in particular.

“Is he telling the truth?” Mulder asked, his voice wavering.

Susan sighed. “As far as I can tell, yes.”

He nodded. “Then take it out.”

Michael released him long enough to allow him to remove his shirt. He held it out silently to Scully. She took it from him, clutching it to her chest.

“I’ll be all right, Scully,” Mulder said, cupping her cheek. He wasn’t sure who he was trying to comfort, himself or his partner.Scully’s eyes ran up his chest, taking in the ropy scars and various remnants of torture invoked onto his beautiful body. She looked into his eyes, hoping to give him a center of focus. “I know you will, Mulder,” she said softly, placing her hand over his.

Mulder gave her a determined nod before he turned to Susan. “Let’s get this over with.”

Susan took a deep breath before she slid her hand over his chest. She stopped, just above his left nipple. “I’m sorry we can’t sanitize this, but we don’t have time.”

Mulder nodded. “I understand.”

Michael held on to Mulder again, keeping him still. His grip was so tight that it felt as if the blood was being cut off, but Mulder didn’t protest.

Scully stood off to the side, her hands still clutching Mulder’s shirt. He turned his head to look at her, his eyes catching hers. He looked like Han Solo as he was being lowered into the carbonite chamber. He must have realized this because he gave her a lopsided smile and said, “This is where you’re supposed to tell me you love me.”

Her eyebrows scrunched together not understanding for a brief moment before her lips turned into a smile. “And this is where you say ‘I know’.”

He grinned, pleased she caught the reference. “It’s better than ‘Oh Brother’.”

Scully actually chuckled before she sobered quickly. “You already know I love you,” she whispered.

“I know,” he said with a smirk, not being able to resist.

Susan smiled to herself, then said. “Ready?” Mulder bit down on his bottom lip regarding her. “As I’ll ever be,” he said, again turning his attention to Scully.

The blade touched Mulder’s skin, but his eyes remained locked on Scully’s.

Slowly, more slowly than Mulder would have liked, Susan made about a three inch cut into his skin, the blood running in hot rivulets down his chest.

She made another cut. He clenched his jaw, but did not cry out.

Susan wiped the blade on her shorts then flicked her wrist, closing the blade. “Now here comes the hard part, Mulder,” she said, putting it back in her pocket.

He felt a searing pain in his chest as Susan probed the cuts she made with her fingers. This time he did cry out.

Her eyes flicked up to his. “Sorry,” she whispered. “But you know I have to do this.” She could feel his pain and it was excruciating.

He didn’t respond.

“Just a little bit longer, Hon,” she said, concentrating on her fingers. Suddenly, her nail hit something hard. “Got it,” she said in a strained voice.

She removed her hand holding up her bloody fingers. Between them was a small metallic object.

Scully sucked in a breath. It was the same size as her own chip.

Leaving Scully to clean up his wound, Susan knelt down holding the chip up so the man could see it. She reached out, taking his gun from his holster. Why he hadn’t gone for it before was a mystery to her. He must be more afraid of her than she thought he was. He must have been at the cabin.

Holding the muzzle of the gun against his forehead, she gave him a command. “Open your mouth.”

His eyes widened.

“I SAID OPEN YOUR MOUTH!”

He pressed his lips together and shook his head.

Susan pushed the gun harder into his skin, forcing her bloody fingers into his mouth. He protested, but she was able to get the chip into his mouth.

“Swallow,” she ordered, holding his chin.He shook his head.

“Fine,” she said and brought the gun back, level with her shoulder. Swinging her arm down she slammed the man on the side of his head with the butt of his gun. He made a sickening thud when he hit the ground.

Scully had cleaned up the wound as much as she could with Mulder’s shirt. It was killing him, but it was nothing compared to the pain he’d been in since his abduction.

He looked up at Susan when she approached him, a rueful smile on his face. “An X?” he asked.

Susan shrugged. “It seemed like the best approach.”

Mulder looked down at his chest, the X Susan made was welling up with blood again. He held his shirt tight against it hoping to stop the bleeding. Another scar to add to collection, but this one was a reminder of victory.

“Mulder,” Scully said, her voice full of wonder.

He looked up sharply. “What?”

Everyone crowed around him, watching fascinated as the scars on his face faded away, leaving bare patches in his short growth of beard.

His brows knitted together. “What the hell?” he exclaimed, his hand going to his face.

Scully pushed his arm away so she could get a better view of his chest. The ropy scar was disappearing as were the other small marks on his chest. In a matter of minutes, all the wounds inflicted upon him during his stay at Camp Hero vanished. The only mark remaining was the bleeding X.

“No fuckin’ way,” Michael said in awe.

Susan shook her head, speechless.

Mulder wasn’t sure exactly what had just happened but he wasn’t going to second guess it. “It must have been the chip,” he pondered aloud.

“How, though?” Scully asked, sounding like her old skeptic self.

“It must have been keeping you sick, preventing you from healing,” Michael said.

“But, he healed right before our eyes, that’s impossible,” Scully said.

“Go with it, Scully,” Mulder said, smiling.

“We need to get out of here,” Ryan blurted.

Everyone looked at him. During the last few minutes, they had forgotten he was there.

His eyes were huge and haunted as they darted around the mine shaft. He looked like a trapped animal. Who could blame him? Michael was having a hard time accepting a lot that had happened and he knew Susan better than anyone… or at least he thought he did.

Susan glanced at Michael then at the unconscious man on the ground; Mulder’s blood drying on his lips.

“Ryan’s right,” Susan agreed. “If we stay here, we’re just looking for trouble.”

“Any ideas?” Scully asked.

They all looked at each other.

No one could come up with anything.

“Well,” Mulder said. “We can’t stay here, so we should get going somewhere.”

Susan nodded. “Agreed. It’s stopped raining, so we can at least wander and not have to worry about getting soaked.”

“And hopefully, we won’t bump into anyone,” Michael added.

Susan considered his point. “Well, now that I know that I’m looking for, I think I might be able to tell if anyone is coming. But then again, they seem to be using something to mask their presence.”

She shrugged. “I guess we’ll just have to see.”

“That’s reassuring,” Ryan grumbled as he followed them out into the morning darkness.

It was then that a loud explosion rocked the woods. A large fireball erupted into the sky.

They hit the ground, expecting soldiers. Flames lit the morning sky.

“What the hell was that?” Scully shouted.“They must have blown up the cabin,” Susan guessed.

“Why would it explode like that?” Mulder asked, helping Scully up.

Michael watched the smoke rise. “We have a lot of explosives and ammunition in the cellar. If a fire hits that, blam-o,” he said, making an exploding gesture with his hands.

Susan felt her stomach drop.

“What is it?” Michael asked.

“Ruffus, ” Susan said, getting to her feet. “I forgot about Ruffus.”

“Oh, God,” Michael whispered.

“We have to make sure he’s OK,” she said to him, her eyes pleading.

He nodded.

“You guys want to go back there for a dog?” Ryan asked in dismay.

“You can stay here with the unconscious tracking device,” Susan said, indicating the soldier lying at the mouth of the mine shaft. “Or, you can come with us. I really don’t care.” And with that, she started back toward the cabin.

Michael didn’t hesitate as he followed her.

Mulder and Scully exchanged a look and with a shrug Mulder started walking after them with Scully beside him.

Ryan looked around himself, his eyes falling on the man on the ground. He felt as if he had been transported into the Twilight Zone. Things like this just didn’t happen in real life, they happened on TV. He’s just a regular guy who needed to lay off the liquor. That had to have been it. He must’ve had too much to drink and now he’s hallucinating. The pink elephants would be coming around any time now. He nodded to himself. That was it, it was all in his mind. None of this was really happening, he told himself. He almost believed it when he realized he was alone.

“Hey guys!” he shouted. “Wait for me!” he shouted, running in the direction the others had gone. He may be nuts, but he’s not stupid.

***

 

When they got closer to the cabin, they heard men’s voices. The group crouched down at the edge of the tree line watching the men watch the cabin burn. There were soldiers meandering around all over the place, and in the center of all the activity was Krycek.

“You want we should go look for ‘im?” one man asked Krycek.

He didn’t respond right away, his eyes watching the flame dance around what was left of the structure.

“Boss?”

Krycek’s eyes flickered for a moment before he regarded the man before him. “No, it’s over,” he said. “It’s time to leave.” His voice held a note of defeat in it.

“Huh?” the man asked. “We was told to bring ‘em in.”

Krycek looked at him as if he was the stupidest man on earth. “I know what you were told and I know what I was told.”

The man gave him a perplexed look.

Krycek sighed. “Go round up the men. Tell them it’s time to leave.” He turned toward the tree line, his eyes focusing on the spot were the agents hid. “There’s nothing left for us to do here.”

The man didn’t move.

Krycek focused his attention back to the soldier. “I said go!”

He jumped into action and within minutes the soldiers were heading off in the opposite direction of the agents.

During their movements, Krycek stayed were he was, regarding the burning cabin. Once all the soldiers were on their way, he again looked toward them, knowing where they were, but not being able to see them. “Do svidanya,” he whispered before he followed his men.

Michael whispered to Susan, “What was that all about?”

“A man fallen from grace who regrets it.”

 Part 31

A full day passed while they headed back toward where they ditched the car. The hike didn’t take a day, but they walked slowly, their eyes vigilant as they scanned the forest around them watching every shift in the grass or trees for a sign that someone was there. As time passed, they became less worried and started to relax. Susan didn’t have to worry about Ruffus, he was waiting for them at the car. How he got there and how he knew to meet them there was a mystery no one was eager to solve.

Ryan watched Mulder smiling and full of life as he talked with his partner. A new life was growing in that small woman. He smiled to himself. She reminded him a lot of his wife. They were about the same size, but Molly had long dark hair that ended at her waist and eyes that were almost black in color. The one way in which they were similar was the fire that seemed to burn inside her. Molly had that and had focused it on him more than once. He sighed. God, he missed her.

He looked away when Michael approached him, his posture was like a man trying to walk up to a dog that might bolt at any minute. He mentally berated himself. He had caused that, he was the source for all the friction between him and his little brother. They had once been the best of friends, spent a few summers ago building that cabin, not once getting into an argument. When did it all go wrong? He looked down at his trembling hands. It all began when he started drinking heavily. His drinking had been the cause for all his problems.

“So, are you heading back with us?” Michael asked Ryan, not making eye contact.

He shrugged, his eyes scanning the woods. “I hitch-hiked up here from Bangor Airport.” He forced a smile at his brother. “Ya think you could give your big brother a ride”

Michael allowed a small smile. “Yeah, I think we can arrange that.”

“Thanks,” he said.

They walked to the car where the rest of the group was waiting. Ryan a step behind the younger man.

“Are you comin’ with us, Ryan?” Susan asked.

He nodded.

“We definitely have room back at the house,” she said as he got in the back of the station wagon with Ruffus who seemed to be glad he had the company.

He shook his head. “Nah, I’m going as far as the airport,” he said.

“Then what?” Mulder asked from his place beside Scully in the back seat.

Ryan stared out the back window, watching the scenery while Michael maneuvered them onto the road. “I have a lot of apologizing to do to my wife,” he said in a faraway tone.

***

 

Somewhere off the coast of Rhode Island

Evening

Susan opened the refrigerator and handed Mulder a beer. He looked at Scully, a questioning look on his face.

She shrugged. “I doubt it will hurt you now,” she said.

He very happily twisted the cap off and chugged the bottle and let out a very satisfied belch.

Scully shook her head at him.

Michael took a proffered beer. “I still don’t understand why Ryan had to take a plane to Boston, we coulda dropped him off on the way,” he said twisting open his beer.

Susan took another beer out of the fridge. She didn’t offer Scully one, knowing she’d never drink while pregnant. “I got the impression he wanted to get home as soon as possible,” she said, opening her beer. She raised it to her lips when it was suddenly snatched from her hand. She looked up at Michael, her surprise evident in her eyes. “HEY!” she protested.

Michael shook his head and put the bottle behind him on the counter. “You shouldn’t drink,” he stated.

Susan looked at him as if he just sprouted two heads. “And why the hell not?”

“Because we don’t know if you’re pregnant or not,” he said. “Last time you were about two weeks along before we found out.”

She gave him a blank stare.

Michael looked down at the floor. “According to the book I read, this stage in development is the most crucial. This is when all the neurological pathways are formed and the introduction of alcohol into your system could permanently damage a fetus.” His cheeks reddened in embarrassment as if he shouldn’t know this stuff.

Susan looked over to Scully.

“He’s right, Susan,” she said. “The first few weeks of a fetus’ life is the most important time in it’s development.”

Mulder smiled. “You seem to be outnumbered here,” he said.

Susan let out a huff and crossed her arms over her chest. “Fine,” she said before she reached out to take Michael’s bottle out of his hand. “But if I can’t have one, neither can you.” She turned away from him and started pouring the beer down the sink.

Michael watched her with a grin on his face. But Mulder wasn’t so happy.

“Hey!” he said, taking the bottle from Susan. “I’ll drink it, no reason for it to go to waste.” He stepped back, now holding a beer in each hand. He looked like a reject from a frat party. “More for me,” he said trying to pick up the bottle Michael took from Susan, but not doing a very well.

“Mulder, be careful how much you drink,” Scully scolded. “You’ve lost a lot of weight and it’s been a while for you.”

He looked at her. “The last time I drank was when we watched Caddyshack,” he said, a leer in his voice.

Scully looked down, her hair shielding her blossoming blush.

“Oh, I see that you remember that,” he said, elbowing her side.

She turned her eyes up to his. “Yes, I remember that, but Mulder, that was months ago.”

The smile vanished from his face. “It was, I forgot. It doesn’t seem that long ago to me.”

***

 

Mulder stood at the railing, the breeze ruffling his hair. His eyes had a distant quality about them as he stared out at the stars and water. They had decided to stay ‘out at sea’ for awhile, relaxing and recuperating. He didn’t get to enjoy it when they were heading north considering that he was feeling like shit most of the time. Despite a faint feeling of nausea caused by the rhythmic rocking of the boat, he was feeling pretty good, well, physically anyway.

He didn’t hear Susan come up behind him and almost jumped out of his skin when she appeared next to him.

“SHIT! SUSAN!” he said, jumping. “You scared the hell out of me!”

She gave him a small smile. “Sorry.”

He nodded at her then looked back out toward the water.

“Penny for your thoughts?” she whispered.

He let out a humph. “It’ll cost you more than that.”

“Well, considering I lost about a million dollars back at the cabin, I’m a little low on cash right now.”

He looked sideways at her. “I doubt you’ll ever be low on cash,” he said.

She shrugged. “So,” she said turning to look at him. “Considering jumping?”

Mulder didn’t answer.

“You know, if you committed suicide, Dana’d kill you.”

He chuckled, despite his sour mood. “I wouldn’t doubt that. Scully’d find some way to bring me back to life just to wring my neck.”

Susan smiled. “And then I’d get a crack at you.”

He returned her smile.

“Seriously, Mulder,” she said. Reaching out a hand to brush some hair out of his eyes. “What’s bothering you so much.” Susan ran a hand down his cheek, cupping his jaw. He hadn’t shaved yet and the growth of beard was thick. His hair was longer than usual, making him look like a thin form of Jeremiah Johnson. She could easily search his mind for what was bothering him, but she felt he needed to express it.

He held her hand against his face for a few moments relishing in the warmth. Despite the overwhelming love he felt for Scully, Susan would always hold a piece of his heart. He considered himself lucky to have been loved and still be loved by her. “You know I’ll always love you, right?”

She smiled and dropped her hand so that she could clutch is fingers. “Yes,” she said, softly. “And you know I’ll always love you.”

He smiled. “I will be forever in your debt for what you have done for me, recently and for the time we shared many years ago.”

She nodded, silently accepting his thanks.

“It’s just that.” He looked away for a moment. “I can’t help but feel unworthy for all that you and Michael and Scully.” he looked down at his hands. “You’ve all done so much for me, and I’m not sure I’m worth it.”

Susan shook her head, her lips forming a small smile. “The ever present Mulder guilt,” she said. “Have you ever wondered if the reason we all risk so much for you isn’t really about you?”

He looked up at her, not understanding her meaning.

“Personally, this whole thing was quite selfish. I know it was for Dana as well.”

Mulder frowned.

She smiled. “Dana loves you,” she said in a tone that suggested he was a moron. “Yes, she would do anything for you, but not always because of you. It’s because she wants to, she wants you near, she doesn’t want to lose you.” She shook her head. “Christ, Mulder, you’re the father of her child.”

“But,” he started.

Susan interrupted him. “No buts, Mulder. She wants you. You should feel blessed.”

He stared at her a moment before he answered. “You have no idea how much I do.”

“So start acting like it.”

He looked away. “But I feel like I’ve missed so much and I’m terrified that I’ll screw something up.”

She gave him an indulgent smile. “You and every new father.”

He shrugged. “Michael doesn’t seem to feel that way.”

Susan chuckled. “That’s because he’s been planning this since he was four years old. He’s always wanted a family.”

Mulder smiled. “Really?”

She nodded.

A gust of wind rocked the boat and they clutched the railing to steady themselves.

“Speaking of our significant others,” Mulder said after the wind died down. “Where are they?”

Susan looked back toward the cabin. “Still at it.”

“What?” he asked. “They’re going to wind up playing all night.”

They had been playing Monopoly since dinner ended about four hours ago. Mulder was the first to go bankrupt, followed quickly by Susan. They thought it was funny that an empath was so bad at the board game, but she shut them up quickly reminding them of how she beat all their asses at Chess when they were at the cabin.

“Michael’s not one to give up easily,” Susan said.

Mulder smirked. “Neither is Scully, they could literally be at it all night.”

Susan gave him a seductive smile. “I’ll bet you a hundred bucks that when I go to bed, he’ll decide he’s tired not even ten minutes later.”

He laughed. “I would have to be an idiot to take a bet like that.”

“You said it, not me.”

Mulder leaned back against the railing. “So, how’s the baby making going?” he asked in an innocent voice.

She didn’t take the bait. “Good,” she said, seriously. “I’m having the time of my life.”

He chuckled. “I’m sure. Mike said it took about two weeks before you knew?”

She nodded. “Yeah. It’ll be around that time soon. I’ve been bracing myself, waiting for it to happen. Then again, it could take months for me to get pregnant.”

He looked at her thoughtfully. “What’s that like? Feeling a new life enter you?”

She sighed, giving his question a little thought. “It’s kind of like losing your mind for a minute. I think because the first time I wasn’t really sure what was happening, it wasn’t the way it was supposed to be.”

“And how is it supposed to be?”

She smiled. “Magnificent.”

He looked at her, wondering what that must really be like. Women get to feel the baby move thoughout their pregnancy, but Susan gets to feel the essence of the baby right from the start. So does Michael for that matter. He envied them.

“You know,” Susan said, sensing his thoughts. “I can show you your baby.”

He paled. “I.”

She smiled. “It can be frightening at first, but trust me, you’ll love it.”

He did really want to ‘feel’ their baby, but the idea scared him a little. It was one thing to have Scully tell him she was pregnant, but to have true confirmation was another thing all together.

“Don’t worry, Mulder. We’ll take it slow.”

He let out a breath and changed the subject. “So are you going to stay with the bureau after you have the baby? You don’t really need to work,” he said.

She shrugged. “I don’t know. Ever since I was promoted, it’s lost it’s charm. I feel that if I left I could do so much more, but I don’t like the idea of not working with Michael.”

He nodded. He could understand the idea of not wanting to be away from your partner. The worst thing about it was the idea that they’d have another partner. He shivered. He couldn’t comprehend the idea of Scully working with someone else. He could never trust that person to watch her back, and the fact that it would most likely be another man. His face showed his distaste of that thought.

He shook his head, trying to get that image out of his mind. “What is it you’d rather do?”

She thought about it for a minute. “Probably become an independent profiler, be a consultant. I get so many requests from around the world for help on unsolvable case, there’s no way that I’d be bored. But now that I’ve found the truth about what happened to my parents, I.” She stopped. “I don’t know,” she breathed out.

“Susan,” Mulder said with a warning in his voice. “You don’t want to start down that path. It’ll over take your life.”

She turned on him, her lips moved up into a snarl. “What would happen if the chess pieces started fighting back? If the pawns decided to take out the king and queen?”

Mulder looked at her. “The game would end.”

She smiled, but it did not reach her eyes. “Exactly.”

“But Susan,” he said grabbing her hands. “I know from experience, you don’t want to do that. You are trying to start a family. Don’t let them take that away from you,” he implored.

She gave him a long hard look. “I think that’s a conversation you should be having with yourself.”

He blinked at her.

***

 

Mulder stared at himself in the mirror. He really did look horrible. Nearly half his face was hidden by beard and his hair was way too long. Susan had given him a pair of scissors and without a second thought, he started trimming his beard. He couldn’t shave it off without taking some of the length off.

Scully heard him moving around in the head and peaked around the corner to see what he was doing.

He saw her in the mirror. “Game’s over?” he asked, setting the scissors down.

Scully shrugged. “Not really, we left it at a draw. Besides, Michael said he was tired.”

Mulder smirked. “Let me guess, Susan went to bed about ten minutes ago.”

Scully gave him a perplexed looked. “Yeah, how’d you know that?”

He grinned. “I must be psychic.”

She shook her head, smiling. Oh, she got it. “So,” she said. “Finally giving up the refugee look?”

He glanced at himself in the mirror. “I thought it was about time. I really don’t look like myself.”

She came up behind him, her hand on his back. He had removed his shirt before he entered the bathroom, knowing he’d probably get it soaked. His skin was warm against her palm.

“I still can’t get over the fact that all traces of what was done to you is gone.”

He gave her a sober look. “Not all of it.”

She nodded before she moved in front of him. “Let me do that?” she asked, reaching out for the shaving cream he held in his left hand.

He gave her a long look as a memory flashed through his mind. It was a moment much like this one with a woman he hardly knew.

Scully noticed the change in his features and dropped her hand. “It’s all right if you don’t want me to,” she said, trying to hide her disappointment.

Mulder looked up sharply, unaware that he had looked away from her. “No, no, Scully, here.” He handed her the shaving cream and gave her a smile. “If this is some fantasy you have, who am I to deny you.”

A blush passed over her features. “I didn’t say it was a fantasy, just that I’d like to do this for you.”

He put his hands on her hips and hoisted her up onto the counter top. “Scully, would you like to help me shave?” he murmured. “I’d really like it if you would.”

She smiled. “Yes, Mulder, I’d love to.”

Moving into the V of her legs, he placed his hands on the counter next to her hips.

Scully reached behind her and turned on the tap. The sound of running water breaking the silence. She wet her hands and brought them up to his face to wet what was left of his beard. “I’ve never done this before, so you’re going to have to talk me through it,” she said, suddenly feeling self conscious.

He smiled. “Just imagine you’re shaving you’re legs,” he said. “But with a little more care.”

She nodded, seriously. With the intensity she was known for, she proceeded to lather his face with shaving cream. “I’ll be careful, I promise.”

He didn’t move when she raised the razor to his face. “I trust you,” he murmured.

Concentrating on her task she methodically cleared away the offending beard, slowly revealing the man she loved.

During her task, Mulder’s eyes stayed riveted on Scully’s face. It held an expression he had seem millions of times – complete concentration. He’d never be able to watch her do an autopsy again with out thinking of this moment. He was also experiencing something he hadn’t felt or had the strength for in months – arousal. It was extremely erotic to watch her and feel her shave him. Any memories he had from the last time a woman had done this for him were washed away by this beautiful woman whom he loved more than life itself.

Unfortunately, it had gone too quickly and before he knew it, Scully was wiping his face clean with a damp cloth.

She gave him a smile that could have feed him for years. “There you are,” she whispered. “I missed you.”

He ran a hand over his newly shaven face and looked at himself in the mirror over Scully’s shoulder. “I missed myself,” he said in a soft voice. He looked at her. In this position, they were at the same eye level. “And I missed being seen.”

He watched as her eyes welled up with tears. “I was so afraid, Mulder,” she said. “I was so afraid I wasn’t going to find you or that I was going to be too late.”

Mulder drew her into his arms. “But you weren’t” he said. “You saved me, Scully. I knew you would.”

He held her while she clutched at his shoulders; until her tears ran dry.

She pulled back. “I never stopped praying,” she said.

“Never stop, Scully,” he said, placing a hand on her lower abdomen. “Never stop praying.”

She looked down at his hand and at that moment she felt a flutter in her belly. Her eyes widened and she looked up at him. His eyes showed his surprise.

“Did you.?” she asked.

“Was that.?” he asked.

She laughed. “Yes, I think it was,” she said, her tears staring anew. She felt it again and the laughter bubbled up through her tears.

“My, God,” he whispered in awe. “I can’t believe it.”

“I know,” she said, silent tears running down her face.

“There’s a baby in there,” he said. Mulder fell to his knees, ignoring the pain as they made contact with the tiled floor.

“Yes, there really is,” she said. She ran her hands through his shaggy hair.

“My, God, Scully,” he said before he pushed her shirt out of the way. He leaned in and placed a soft kiss on the skin of her belly. Looking up at her, his eyes wet, he whispered, “Thank you.”

***

 

Susan stood brushing her hair while she waited for Michael to finish in the bathroom. The familiar sounds of him brushing his teeth and doing whatever he does before his goes to bed was a comfort to her. After her conversation with Mulder on the deck, she was trying to figure out what her next course of action was going to be. Should she forget what she had learned out in the woods that day, marry Michael, raise a family and go about her life as if nothing happened or should she fight? She sighed and placed the brush on the dresser. She already knew the answer to that question, there was no way she could bring her child up in an environment like that. She just couldn’t. As much as she’d like to avenge her parents, she also knew they wouldn’t want her to throw away a chance for a normal life with the man she loves. She sat on the bed, letting out a heavy sigh.

Michael turned off the light as he left the bathroom. Susan was sitting on the bed with a far off expression on her face. He could see that she was having an internal conversation. He felt her come to whatever decision she felt she had to make and sit up straighter. She radiated strength and endurance.

The feeling of her essence in the room, around him was almost palatable. He swayed on his feet from the heady feeling of it.

“Hey,” he croaked out. He cleared his throat as he approached her.

She twisted her body around to look at him.

“You OK?”

Susan smiled and stood. She was dressed for bed in nothing but panties and a tank top. Her hair shined in the light from the lamp behind her. Her skin was newly scrubbed and her cheeks were pink because of it. She never looked more beautiful to him.

Susan felt his appraisal of her and shifted from foot to foot. For some reason it was making her nervous.

He cocked his head to the side before he pulled his shirt off. “What’s the matter?” he asked, tossing it aside, not bothering to put it in the hamper like he always did and approached her.

She shrugged. “Nothing.”

He now stood in front of her. “It doesn’t feel like nothing,” he said.

She shrugged again. “I don’t know.”

He grinned. “You don’t know?”

She shrugged again.

He turned to the dresser and clicked on the CD Player. A familiar tune filled the air. It was the song they had picked for their wedding song – Amazed, by Lonestar.

She smiled at him as she stepped into his arms. They danced quietly to the music, both content to just feel each other. The first time they had heard this song, they were apart. Each had thought of the other as the lyrics described them. It was as if the song was made for them.

They made an odd couple, she dancing in underwear and a tank top and him clad only in boxers. He rested his temple against hers and murmured to her. “When do you think you’ll know?” he asked.

She breathed him in. “I’m not sure, Love. It could take months before I get pregnant. Remember I just got off the pill, I might not have even ovulated this month. It may take awhile before things get back on track, so to speak.”

He leaned away from her. “Yeah, but you were on the pill when you got pregnant last him.”

She considered his words. “I was, but you can’t plan these things. It could take time.”

He shook his head and moved closer to her. “I don’t think so. I have a feeling about this.”

She gave him an indulgent smile. “Oh, you do, now, do you?”

He smiled. “Yeah, I do.” He leaned down to place a quick kiss on her lips.

She returned the kiss, pressing hard against him. “Mmmm,” she sighed.

He pulled away. “You’ll tell me?” he whispered.

She leaned in to kiss him again. Against his lips she murmured, “you’ll be the first to know.”

***

 

Somewhere off the coast of Rhode Island

Dawn

The two lovers lay wrapped in each other’s arms, the sheets tangled around them.

The observer smiled. It was worth the effort to find him. Again, his Superior was right. Without him, the plans would not come to fruition. He was necessary to the future.

He moved silently out of the room, the door closing just as quietly. He journeyed down the hall toward the room at the end. Without hesitation, he pushed the door open. Before him was the object of his quest. Why he and all his brothers risked so much.

Susan was lying on her back, Michael’s head resting on her breast. The sheets were gathered around their waists, their breathing even.

Again, the observer smiled. Law may not have yet bound these two together, but fate had long ago, before these two specific individuals even existed. His Superior was always right.

He leaned against the door jamb, and watched the pair sleep together, their minds joined in slumber – they dreamed as one.

Knowing the time was drawing near, Gabe pushed himself away from the wall. With a deep breath, he raised his hand to his lips and as if to blow a kiss, breathed life into the child.

Susan sat up in bed, her hand flying to her belly.

Michael sat up next to her, his breathing fast.

Susan’s eyes widened as they stared in the direction of their invisible guest.

“Susie?” Michael asked, his trembling hand covering the one on her stomach.

Her eyes filled with tears as she looked down at her Love and her lips spread out into a magnificent smile.

THE END

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